It seems incongruous at first. Bluegrass guitar and claw-hammer banjo. Used in a meditation on the lofty themes of the nature of knowledge, this instrumentation results in a song that sounds as if it would be more at home on a front porch in some Appalachian hollow than in the lofty halls of the academy,…
In the midst of both a global pandemic and nationwide protests against anti-black racism, President Donald Trump had peaceful protestors forcefully removed from Lafayette Square by an unidentified military force so that he could walk across the street for a photo-op in front of historic St. John’s Episcopalian Church. He wanted to pose holding a Bible. The outrage expressed by Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde was echoed through much of the Christian community.
The Vietnam War was raging, Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy had been assassinated, the counter-culture movement was in full swing and Jimi Hendrix had just released his stunning retake on Bob Dylan’s song: “All along the watchtower, princes kept the view […] outside in the distance a wildcat did growl / two riders were approaching, and the wind began to howl.” It was 1968 and I wonder if Morris Greidanus had such an apocalyptic sense of the times as he launched a Christian Reformed (CRC) campus ministry at the University of Toronto.
“What’s the mood on campus?” With over 40 years engaged in campus ministry in one form or another, I get asked this question with some frequency. And I often feel a little stymied by it. Apart from the fall semester of 2001, after the devastating events of 9/11, when there was a decidedly subdued feeling on campus, I’ve not really seen that much change from year to year.
Back in the early 80s I did a radio interview about the “mood on campus” based upon a wide-ranging attitudinal survey that had been conducted on campuses across Canada, and the results were disheartening.
Let me describe an author. This writer is impatient with theological abstraction, radically committed to justice and holds a healthy suspicion of the rich. Our author is rooted in a deep Christian piety, profoundly committed to prayer, embraces a subversive joy in the midst of tragedy, and is circumspect and wise regarding language. Indeed, we could sum up our description by saying that this person is intimately related to Jesus.
No, the New Jerusalem,
that better city that we seek,
that city of refuge,
that city of safety and hospitality,
that city of justice and restoration,
that restored city of shalom,
that city where God will dwell,
is a city built on the foundations of suffering love,
or it is not built at all.