Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Irrelevance of Relevance

Over the weekend I picked up and read a short book by Os Guinness, Prophetic Untimeliness: A Challenge to the Idol of Relevance. His premise: that the Evangelical church in America is well on it's way to utter irrelevancy—pretty much due to its relentless and misguided pursuit of relevancy!

It was, by the way, the same old saw (that unless we become more culturally relevant, the church's next generation will be lost) motivating the earliest liberalization and decline of mainline denominational witness in the 1800's, the early 1900's and again in the 1960's, weakening them near unto death. Evangelicals (of whom he is one) says Guinness, are following the same path to the same end.

Anyway, this recent Touchstone article on relevance in preaching offers incisive corroboration. One of several money quotes:
Well, I thought, what word is the right and relevant word depends on what you think relevant. We have no reason to think that what feels relevant to the worldling is actually relevant to his life. We do have reason to believe that what he feels relevant will be that which diverts him from the painful contemplation of his own sins and helps him move along the trajectory he has plotted for himself—to improve, as he understands it, but not to change.
More later.
The Way it Should Be

Once in a while we're offered a ray of hope. Hope that real goodness still exists and something of the American spirit survives in the wake of post-modern societal decay.

Such was the impact of the scene my wife and I came upon the other day during the monsoon rains of August. A sharp depression in the nearby school yard has been created to provide drainage for the adjacent athletic field, and this day it was overwhelmed, filled with a foot and a half of water, forming a wonderful impromptu pond. Circled around it were a handful of drenched 12-year-old boys on bikes. As we passed one of them took his turn riding straight into the middle of it, the look on his face of pure imbecilic joy beaming through the spray.

I felt the pang of vicarious joy and a little envy. That's what boys ought to be doing on a rainy day. Life is still pretty good in America.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Random Thoughts

1. What happened to Summer? Whenever the sounds of High School marching band nearby begin to float through our yard, we know it's coming to an end. The only comfort is the good feeling I still get when I remember I don't have to go back to school in September!

2. Scout camp is a good thing. My son and I did our week at Many Point Scout Camp in N. Minnesota early this month. A good time had by all.

3. Something else I've learned from DirectTV...the rooftop dish: When storms come through and you need critical weather information from channel X, Y or Z, your dish-connected TV offers this helpful message on an otherwise blank blue screen, "Searching for Satellite Signal." So up go the rabbit ears on the little emergency TV.

4. Some books worth reading include: When I Don't Desire God by John Piper, not the best title (it seems from the title that it might just be a quick spin-off) for an excellent book—a deep, thoughtful treatment of the pursuit of joy in God; The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis is an every-few-years-re-read; The Dangerous Book for Boys by Conn Iggulden and Hal Iggulden is full of cool information and how-to's and stuff to make—the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, how to skin a rabbit, etc.

5. Van Morrison is cool. The iPod and iTunes have been my ticket to rediscovering old artists that I like more now than I did then.

6. Soon I will be a Grand-dad. Counting down to mid/late September for the birth of the boy-king!