Maybe it’s because it’s summer. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older (another birthday today, by the way). But some weeks I cannot find enough items I can heartily recommend for reading. Or better put, I can find little that stimulates my thinking—and I don’t recommend any piece unless it passes this first test. So I’ve decided occasionally to recommend something of timeless value, like the saying of Jesus about logs and splinters in the eye of the beholder.
This passage sprung to mind as the fires of indignation burned within me, as they did for so many, when I read how leaders of institutions like Willow Creek and the Catholic Church covered up sexual abuse and other evils because they were more concerned that the church look good than it actually be good. Hypocrisy seems too mild a word for such behavior.
Then it occurred to me that all of us habitually put our best selves on display and are wont to reveal our sorry habits, addictions, weaknesses, and sins. It’s the rare person who does not hide some wicked deed or motive from even their spouse. It shouldn’t surprise us that institutions, made up of human beings who hide their sins from others, want to put on a good face and justify it for the sake of the gospel witness.
This is not to excuse leadership malfeasance. The judgment of God is rightly deserved on shepherds who let wolves run free among the flock. But when I assert that “I live among a people of unclean lips,” I should recognize also that “I am a man of unclean lips” (Isa. 6:5) and so temper my righteous judgment with at least a smattering of mercy.
The Spiritual Dimension of Abuse and Cover-Ups
While we’re on the topic: The commentary on Willow and the Catholic Church has been fulsome, some of it wise in analysis as well as what must be done next. But none that I have read have delved into the darker spiritual issues at play. We’ll have to leave that to Catholic Bishop Robert Barron. I hesitate to link to him, because he is an extremely persuasive apologist for the Catholic faith (!), but he’s the only one I’ve read who acknowledges the demonic element:
He doesn’t over-spiritualize the issue, and the piece is really written for Catholics. But Protestants have something to be reminded of here as well.
Hymnals Are Still Awesome
Okay, okay—contemporary Christian music has many virtues. This is not another dig at praise choruses, which I’ve been known to sing with enthusiasm. But as readers of the GR know, I have a fondness for hymns, and therefore for hymnbooks. Here’s some of what we lose when we do all our singing from words on a wall.
Men Are Awesome Too
Another offering from CT that might interest this august group of reader/listeners is our latest Quick to Listen podcast, in which we discuss why men are less than enthusiastic about the Christian faith (at least in comparison to women). Our guest is Aaron Renn, who wrote the piece I linked to last week (to some applause and some critique, I must say), which is about the history of this concern.
And This One Man Is Particularly Awesome
This week’s long read is about “The Jackie Robinson of Rodeo.” As the subtitle in this true-to-form Texas Monthly profile puts it, “Five decades ago, Myrtis Dightman broke the color barrier in professional rodeo and became one of the best bull riders who ever lived. But his imprint on the sport was only just beginning.” He’s one of America’s quiet (and I suspect devout) heroes, who more people should know about.
Grace and peace, Mark Galli
Editor-in-Chief, Christianity Today
Saturday, August 25, 2018
We’ll have to leave that to Catholic Bishop Robert Barron