Worth Reading 2/23

If you have been a Christian for any amount of time, you know that spiritual passion, sight, and affections ebb and flow. At times our sense of spiritual realities can be strong and vibrant; other times, our hearts feel like lead weights and we find ourselves longing for God to visit us once again and bring refreshment (Psalm 85:4-7). These seasons are usually referred to as times of “spiritual drought” or “spiritual dryness,” and find intimate expression in many of the Psalms. David often cried out to God in times where his soul seemed like dust, and he yearned to be refreshed by the presence of the Lord (Psalm 13; Psalm 63). Other Psalmists expressed their longing to have their parched souls to be replenished by the Lord (Psalm 42). Those who have tasted of the goodness of Christ know what it means to be without that taste; it leaves us pleading, “light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death” (Psalm 13:3)

Spiritual drought, though a persistent and unwelcome visitor, is not something with which we must constantly live. There are Biblical means by which we can, by grace, put ourselves in the way of refreshment; we can be restored to once again feel the joy of our salvation. But this can only happen if we are able to discern why we might be experiencing spiritual dryness so we can take the appropriate action. With this in mind, I would like to suggest a few reasons we may be experiencing a season of spiritual drought and provide the correlating remedies.

2. Why churches should be involved in Social Media:

Throughout history, people of all generations have gathered in town squares—public spaces where the local community gathers for social and commercial purposes. In the old days, it used to be a literal “town square,” and it still is in some places. Until social media came around, town squares were shopping malls and other social areas. Social media is the 21st century town square.

The Apostle Paul preached in open squares where the people gathered. In Acts 13 it was to the Jews at Antioch in Pisidia. In Acts 17, it was to the literal town square of conversation—Mars Hill.

People today aren’t sitting around in debate clubs. They aren’t going to the town squares in the middle of cities. Instead, they’re having discussions on social media. It’s where people are gathering, debating, discussing ideas and connecting with others. Why wouldn’t you want to be there?

If churches truly want to see the Gospel impact and influence a community, they should go to the place where the most significant conversation is actually taking place right now. Today, that’s on social media.

3. An article from last year about a tower that draws water from the air to provide drinking water where it is needed:

In n some parts of Ethiopia, finding potable water is a six-hour journey.

People in the region spend 40 billion hours a year trying to find and collect water, says a group called the Water Project. And even when they find it, the water is often not safe, collected from ponds or lakes teeming with infectious bacteria, contaminated with animal waste or other harmful substances.

The water scarcity issue—which affects nearly 1 billion people in Africa alone—has drawn the attention of big-name philanthropists like actor and Water.org co-founder Matt Damon and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, who, through their respective nonprofits, have poured millions of dollars into research and solutions, coming up with things like a system that converts toilet water to drinking water and a “Re-invent the Toilet Challenge,” among others.

4. An accounting of the life of someone who persevered in truth despite difficult times, from First Things:

Alice’s perseverance, bolstered by faith in her vocation and by the loyalty of her students, eventually prevailed: she finally received her long overdue tenure, and when Hunter’s students acquired the right to evaluate their teachers, they repeatedly rated her among their best professors.

In 1980, when Donna Shalala became President of Hunter, she introduced an award for the professor who had earned the highest student evaluation. Four years later—the year of her retirement—Alice von Hildebrand was voted the top professor, out of eight hundred teachers, and a student body of 25,000. She received her award at a ceremony at Madison Square Garden, with the very liberal President Shalala commending her.

Since then, Alice has continued to teach and lecture about the beauty of truth, drawing on the work of her husband, always rooted in the teachings of the Church. Memoirs of a Happy Failure is a story of true patience and faithfulness—of apparent failure giving way to a lasting triumph.

5. The question of stockholder activism, particularly through the divestment from fossil fuels remains. A new, lighter approach is being used by some activists:

Your faithful correspondent last week exposed the fossil-fuel divestment endgame of religious shareholder activists. As You Sow President Danielle Fugere sees her group’s activities as awareness-raising exercises for climate change, but AYS’s alignment with environmentalist and divestment firebrand Naomi Klein suggests they’d settle for nothing less than nationalizing oil companies. This week, I’m happy to report another group frequently called to task in this space, the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, opposes the AYS divestment onslaught.