In an essay on Dietrich Bonhoeffer, [Marilynne] Robinson declared that “great theology is always a kind of giant and intricate poetry, like epic or saga. It is written for those who know the tale already, the urgent messages and the dying words, and who attend to its retelling with a special alertness, because the story has a claim on them and they on it. Theology is also close to the spoken voice.” In Gilead we are indeed listening, or rather overhearing, the dying words of the venerable, ailing, seventy-six-year-old Congregational minister John Ames writing a letter intended as a bequest to his beloved seven-year-old son. As I listened, I was drawn in, captivated by the voice of John Ames.
Bonhoeffer also refers to theology as “a word of recognition among friends.” In reading, or listening to, Gilead, John Ames became a friend. . . .
In 1555, [John] Calvin looked back on his transition from humanist scholar to Protestant pastor and described it this way: “By a sudden conversion, God turned and brought my heart to teachableness.” . . .
Robinson began to read Calvin deeply and seriously, first the Institutes, but then also the commentaries and sermons. And although she does not use the language of “sudden conversion” to describe this intellectual and theological awakening, she comes pretty close when she confesses: “I was astonished to realize how utterly different Calvin is from anything I had ever heard or read about him. It was really moving to discover such a vast and lucid and gracious spirit. It was as if I had just happened upon Beethoven. Much better.” This discovery of Calvin happened for her at midlife, almost like Dante: “Midway upon the journey of our life, I found myself within a forest dark.” Karl Barth, a theologian who appears a number of times in Robinson’s works, once described Calvin as “a waterfall, a primeval forest, something strange, mythological, something straight down from the Himalayas.” Robinson, like Barth, would make her own pathway through the brambles and brush of the primeval forest that is John Calvin. Her project would be one of retrieval, reclamation, and “resourcement.” â€” Timothy George, “Marilynne Robinson and John Calvin,” 45, 47, 52.
Immigrants today, whatever their manner of entry, come primarily for the same reasons that immigrants have always come to our country. Though immigration policies have changed quite drastically over the last two centuries, immigrants themselves are still pushed out of their countries of origin by poverty, war, and persecution, and are still drawn to the United States by promises of jobs and economic advancement, freedom, and family reunification. These push and pull factors explain most, if not all, of immigration to the United States from the time of the first settlers to today. – From Matthew Soerens and Jenny Yang (2018), â€œNation of Immigrants: A historical perspective on immigration to the United States.â€ Chapter 3 in Welcoming the Stranger.
Oh that you would rend the heavens
and come down,
that the mountains might quake
at your presenceâ€”
as when fire kindles brushwood
and the fire causes water to boilâ€”
to make your name known
to your adversaries,
and that the nations might tremble
at your presence!Â â€” Isaiah 64:1-2 (ESV)
In this four-part series, I aim to think about one particular aspect of language: naming. In the introduction, I preliminarily addressed the root of the problem, the Fall. In this post I want to dive deeper into the original â€˜scene of the crimeâ€™ for clues toward the character of the relationship between language and naming. [Read more…] about Overnaming as The Fall
How can Christians decide when to be involved in conflict, and how can they know when to stop? In the past two years, Christians in Ukraine have faced all of these. How have they responded?
From Dec 27 – Jan 1, volunteers with our network of early career Christian academics are liveblogging seminars at the Urbana conference, a mission-focused student gathering of 16,000 Christians from across North America and the world. This post was written by Nathan Matias and Galina Pylypiv