Worth Reading - 4/7

1. How did coffee become an acceptable vice for Christians? A thoughtful commentary on coffee culture:

Christians and coffee have a long and storied history, from the Reformation to the church basement coffee hour. Wherever two or more are gathered in the name of God, you can usually also find an urn of mediocre brew and a stack of Styrofoam cups.

The trajectory of coffee drinking in America, from a shared and slow activity to a personal and quick transaction, mirrors the trajectory of evangelical Christianity. Lent is almost over, and many Christians will rejoice that they can once again get their regular coffee fix. But most of us would never give it up in the first place.

Coffee fuels many of us—54 percent of American adults drink it on a daily basis. It gets us through the worst days, gives us a reason to get out of bed and restores us to the angels of our better nature. If that sounds a little religious, it’s no coincidence.

Coffee is an acceptable vice. Unlike alcohol, which many evangelicals either abstain from or approach warily, coffee has been enthusiastically embraced.

2. On the cultural bias against Christians in the U.K. Is it fundamentally backward to be faithful?

The question was asked in a tone of Old Malvernian hauteur which implied that spending time in religious contemplation was clearly deviant behaviour of the most disgusting kind. Jeremy seemed to be suggesting that it would probably be less scandalous if we discovered the two men had sought relief from the pressures of high office by smoking crack together.

Praying? What kind of people are you?

Well, the kind of people who built our civilisation, founded our democracies, developed our modern ideas of rights and justice, ended slavery, established universal education and who are, even as I write, in the forefront of the fight against poverty, prejudice and ignorance. In a word, Christians.

But to call yourself a Christian in contemporary Britain is to invite pity, condescension or cool dismissal. In a culture that prizes sophistication, non-judgmentalism, irony and detachment, it is to declare yourself intolerant, naive, superstitious and backward.

3. "Joy to the World" is really an Easter hymn. This is my latest contribution at The Institute for Faith, Work and Economics:

One of my favorite hymns is “Joy to the World.” We usually sing it around Christmas, but for years I have thought of it as an Easter hymn.

The first verse calls for us to have joy because the Lord has come, and calls for heaven and nature to sing. Nature is singing in anticipation of the redemption spoken of in Romans 8:19–21, when the effects of the Fall are removed.

4. A thoughtful post by Tim Challies that helps explain why so much ethical discourse seems impossible in our contemporary milieu:

We are at an interesting point in history. I guess there’s never really a boring point in history, but there are definitely times when things advance or unravel in a hurry. And today we are seeing the full-out charge of a new kind of morality. We see it playing out in the media just about every day, and Nancy Pearcey’s book Total Truth is still one of the most helpful guides to understanding what is happening around us.

Our society insists that there needs to be a radical split between two different spheres: the private and the public. In the public sphere we have society’s great institutions: the state, academia, multinational corporations, the mainstream media, and the like. In the private sphere we have the family, the church, and personal relationships. We are told that these public institutions are based only on what is scientific and objective. Meanwhile, the private sphere is composed of all those things that are subjective or based on personal values; we are allowed to have them, but they are less important than the public sphere and must never be allowed to influence it.