Friday, May 19, 2006

More Widely Known (from survey)

What is the one writer, field of study, area of interest that you're aware of that you think more people should know about or experience? Why? (blog author note: these are survey responses, not necessarily the actual views of the blogger)

1. Wendell Berry's works on farming and sense of place.

2. Social justice

3. History of the church, specifically I think more christians should know about their judaic roots.

4. The divergence or difference of what Jesus and the Bible taught and the way American culture and politics is headed.

5. I just picked up a book called "The Spirituality of Imperfection". It is a must read.

6. Dann Simmons

7. I think people are yearning to understand why Lutherans believe the way they do, why our worship services are structured the way they are, etc. Basically the "whys" behind our faith. Life-long Lutherans don't understand these topics, so they are unable to answer their children when they ask these questions. Parents end up avoiding discussing religion because they don't want to look "stupid" in front of their children, so the faith doesn't get passed on to our youth.

8. Sweatshops and labor issues--where the things we buy really come from.

9. Poetry. It caputres a vital part of what it means to be human, through intense reflection on words: their sounds, shapes, and capacities for creating meaning and beauty. We live in a word-shaped world. We ought to honor those who make an art and vocation of reflecting dynamically on what this means.

10. The collection of answers to your question above reveals just how lame-o North American Christianity really is. I think Tom Wright will have more of an impact on world Christianity and perhaps the revival of Christianity in America than all of your named candidates put together. He is the most articulate (and prolific) defender of the Church's Jesus that we have today. A close second would be the Frenchman Rene Girard, whose anthropological articulation of the truth of the Gospel is quietly inserting itself into the subconscious of Christian thought.


  1. Clint,

    It should be made clear that my response (the tenth one) was not directed toward your survey responses which are listed above the tenth and last one, but toward the list of "North American religious figures" of whom you asked who was most influential.

  2. Agreed, that wasn't clear as I posted it. I happen to disagree with you on whether or not North American Christianity is "lame-o". I think some of the most vigorous and helpful theology is being done on this continent. But my list wasn't asking the question re: "greatest theologian." It was asking about influence, a different question than your response answers.

  3. So who won "most influential" from your group? And who do you think is most influential?

    Blessed Sunday.

  4. The winner, with three votes, was Jim Wallis. Many others received a single vote, and there were three write-ins: Billy Graham, Robert Jensen, and Philip Jenkins (plus your vote for Tom Wright).

    Of the ones I listed, I personally think Rick Warren will have the most lasting impact. I think he has permanently altered (or consolidated?) the religious landscape in North America through his books and network.

    If I were to identify the most influential North American theologian, I'd probably name either a) Douglas John Hall, b) Stanley Hauerwas, or c) Cardinal Avery Dulles. I'd love to see people weigh in on other names on this topic, though.

  5. Yes, influence and quality of scholarship are two very different things. I am hardly well-read enough or learned enough to lend any intelligible thoughts to this conversation, except to say that the mega-church movement with its bands and welcoming attitude to seekers has forever changed how americans approach the issue of church. Even so-called "traditional" churches are now asking members to wear nametags, printing comprehensive worship bulletins and doing other things that make worship and church more accessible to non-members. We have outside-the-box mega-churches to thank for these things . . .