Andrew Wilson’s List of 1oo Books Read for 2016

I follow the ministry and writing of Andrew Wilson in England. He is one of the new breed of pastors who take their PhDs to the local church and keep alive the conversation between theology, the university, the church and the world. I particularly appreciate the clear way in which stands in the mainstream of Christian moral orthodoxy and interacts thoughtfully with secularity.

His interaction with Rob Bell on Justin Brierly’s radio program “Unbelievable” was impressive.  There are several more episodes with Wilson on Unbelievable that are worth listening to.

Here is his list of 100 books he read in 2016. As a general rule I want to be reading what Wilson is reading.

Rising Nationalisms and the Church

We clearly live in a time of rising nationalisms. (Pat Buchanan’s column today makes much of this). My reactions are two-fold. One is to recall the turbulences of the mid-1800s in Europe, which, though quelled, re-emerged in the early 1900s to spark national self-interests that led to world conflagration in two world wars. This kind of nationalism rises above ethnic and geographical romanticisms to pledge loyalty to nation states and their governments. History teaches us that this phenomenon has a dark side, as in the 100 million who died in WWII. My second reaction is to realize that globalism has its natural limits. Try as we might, a full identity as one global people is beyond us, in spite of Marxist utopian dreams. The Bible posits that our differences and therefore our boundaries (not necessarily political boundaries) result from God’s intervention at the Tower of Babel. These “confusion of tongues” arose from the mercy of God lest find cooperation too easy and natural a thing because of where it goes – cooperation in evil disloyalty to God and the transcendent values of the Good, the True and the Beautiful. Cooperation in evil can be as natural, and even more so, as cooperation in the good. Our differences are checks and balances. To seek to eradicate them is to unleash forces that will destroy us. “Peoples” are God’s way of slowing us down, placing hurdles in our way lest our dreams of unchecked power lead to acts of domination. To survive we must continually face and deal with the “other,” not eradicate the other.

The Christian vision is “One New Man in Christ.” No longer Jew and Gentile, slave or free, male or female. Only in Christ can we trust the “One New Man” idea. Socialism and Marxism have made much use of this concept, all to our suffering. In this world Christ’s One New Man has no political boundaries or earthly utopian dreams that surpass what Christ is doing in the Church and will due in the Age to Come. This One New Man thrives through service, humility and empathy that turns the other cheek and wishes no self-aggrandizement. It does not ally itself to a national destiny, though it certainly cherishes those governments that display values which may bless the Church and those peoples the Church seeks to bless.

All this to say that nationalism need not be an evil, rightly stewarded and checked by transcendent values. Our differences, well, make a difference. And that is a good thing. Celebrate them. Do not seek to eradicate them. Yet unchecked nationalism quickly morphs into the Beast of the Book of the Revelation to St. John. It becomes the enemy of Christ.

Keep your eyes open. Read and understand your Bible. Read and understand history. It has lessons plenty. Increase your sensitivity to trends. Watch the demagogues.

#TrudeauEulogies Trends on Twitter to Mock #Canadian #PM’s Praise of #Castro

Justin Trudeau justly deserves the mocking and satire due his over the top deference to Fidel Castro. It simply boggles the mind how a leader of a western democracy could say what Trudeau said.

Mr. Trudeau said that he learned of Castro’s death with “deep sorrow”, paying tribute to him as a “larger than life leader who served his people for almost half a century”.

“A legendary revolutionary and orator, Mr. Castro made significant improvements to the education and healthcare of his island nation,” the Canadian prime minister said.

Castro’s Death Reveals That Marxist Utopianism Yet Lives In The West

Mark Tooley tweets “Century’s worst tyrants? Hitler-Stalin-Mao-Tojo-PolPot-Kims-Mengistu-Saddam-Amin-Ceausescu-Ho-Gaddafi-Castros-Duvaliers-Bokassa. Who else?” Have anyone else to add to this list?

Thankfully this list is not as long as it has been. But the love affair with Marxism on the university campus continues. It took the progressives quite a while to move away from Stalin, in spite of the mounting evidence of his atrocities which yielded over 20 million deaths, mostly by starvation. Communists Stalin and Mao had adopted as their method of national strength the culling of people from the cities, especially the intellectual elite, and forcing them into agricultural collectives where they would raise crops that could then ship overseas for cash to bring back into the country. The farmers were not allowed to eat the crops they raised and by eating deplete the amount that could be sold overseas. They starved to death, to be replaced by fresh reserves from the city. This how both Russia and China grew into world powers. In Russia, as mentioned, 20 million died, and in China the figure reached 60 million. And yet, even in spite of this, the respect for democracy and capitalism never grew in the university in the waning of Marxism.

While the noise for Marxism has died down, its utopianism by the hands of the state lives and breaths in university departments across America. Core to Marxism is its antipathy to religion, its sexual libertinism and its preference of the State over the family as the basic way to nurture the young.

The sexual libertinism mystifies most people who take a look at Marxism for the first time. How did that even become part of the mix? Marriage was considered by Marxism as bourgeois and its boundaries as bondage. The left eschewed the traditional morality of Christianity with its responsibilities and deferences. This has always been appealing to the youthful Left, just setting out from the confines of their homes and away at university. Marxism gave them a world and life view that justified their sexual passions.

Of course, the weakening of the family under Marxism has been a factor in weakening it as a political system. It broke the natural bonds of parent to child, of husband and of wife.

One of the things the West has brought to the table in world history is that moral code which emerges out of the Judaeo-Christian tradition. And in that moral code are contained some of the great principles upon which a flourishing society can be built: the free worship of the Deity and the unconstrained conscience which must obey; the absolute place of the family unit which is answerable to and responsible for itself free from State interference and accountability; the self-regulation of our sexual moral codes that will result in a healthy culture of mutual responsibility.

These are the very things up for grabs on university campuses. Have we learned nothing from the 1900s and the devastation worked on our globe by John Lennon’s “Imagine?” Man, how I hate that song.

Here is Peter Hitchen’s reflection on Castro.

Obama and Fidel Castro

Included in Obama’s statement upon the death of Catro is this phrase – “recalling the countless ways in which Fidel Castro altered the course of individual lives, families, and of the Cuban nation.” 

Ya think? Castro certainly altered the course of individual lives-thousands upon thousands brutally murdered, imprisoned, hounded, intimidated, not to mention the attacks upon religion and conscience, the heart-rendering separation of families, and bringing the world to the brink of nuclear war. The Castro brothers have been thugs and brutes while they ensconced themselves in power, enjoying their luxuries, women, and self-indulgence. 

Obama began his administration pandering to the Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo, and he is ending it by lending credibility to the legacy of Fidel. The best thing to be said about Castro is that he is gone. The Democrats lost FL in the election in part due to the fogged moral vision of the President with respect to Castro, as Cuban refugees kept alive in their hearts the memory of the Catastrophe of Cuba.

THIS LAST DAY OF THE CHURCH YEAR

Today is the last day of the year, according to the Church Year calendar. Last Sunday was Christ the King Sunday. The global church offered to Christ its history of faith and works done in His Name as praise, asked forgiveness for sins of commission and omission, and sought to be washed and renewed for the coming year of service to Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

This Sunday is the First Sunday of Advent, the beginning of the cycles of remembrance of the great turning points of our faith – the incarnation of our Lord; the visitation of the Magi to worship the Christ as a reminder of our mission of announcing salvation to the nations; Lent, in which the church identifies with Christ in his consecration and sufferings; Holy Week and the Triduum of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday crescendoing in Easter Sunday; the Easter season, followed by Pentecost and Trinity Sunday on June 11.

After the rehearsal of these touch points of our faith, the Church enters Ordinary Time, by which is meant “ordered” time. Here we live out in a sustained way the meaning of our Lord’s birth, death, resurrection and presence through the gift of the Holy Spirit until another year is wrapped up on Christ the King Sunday on November 26, 2017.

The Church Year is a tool the church has found useful, not a biblical requirement. And I have found it useful. It constantly places me in the Divine drama, and in the midst of what can seem like endless and meaningless concatenation of events invites me to see order, rhythm and harmony. It invites me to remember and repent based on the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and assures me that his mission is salvation, even mine.

So I begin again in hope that beginnings are not in vain.