Tuesday, October 30, 2007

URGENT: The Best Magazine for Evangelicals and Conservative Christians

Why "URGENT"?  The impetus for this post is a feature article that appeared this past weekend in The New York Times Magazine; it will likely go into the Times archives in a couple/few weeks and only be accessible for a fee or through an online database with full-text access to the Times.  Hence, read it now.  (Note: It may still be accessible for a longer period through a feed reader, such as through this link.)

So, which magazine is the best for evangelicals and the Christian Right?  The obvious answer is Christianity Today, right?  After all, it can't be The Christian Century (my personal favorite) since it's the/a voice of mainline Protestants.

The surprising answer:  Sojourners. 

As noted in the Times piece, the evangelical movement is splintering -- and the Christian Left is going after the Christian Right.  Or, perhaps the Christian Right is moving to the Left; this might be a better explanation as to what is happening.  The emergent church movement, places like Willow Creek and Saddleback, all play into this sorely-needed shift.

It's a shift that focuses on peace, justice and love:  Three basic tenets expounded by Jesus.  And rather than focusing on what one is against (e.g., abortion, same-sex marriage), it focuses on what one is for.  It combines the best of a personal Gospel and a social Gospel.

"He (Bill Hybels of Willow Creek) brought up the Rev. Jim Wallis, the lonely voice of the tiny evangelical left. Wallis has long argued that secular progressives could make common cause with theologically conservative Christians. 'What Jim has been talking about is coming to fruition,' Hybels said."  Jim Wallis is the President and Executive Director of Sojourners/Call to Renewal, the publishers of Sojourners magazine.  He also authors and edits the God's Politics blog on Beliefnet, and is the author of the book by the same name.  In addition to the magazine, Sojourners/Call to Renewal publishes a free weekly e-magazine, Sojomail, and the subscription-based lectionary aid, Preaching the Word; I personally use Preaching the Word for personal Bible study and reflection.

To quote a snippet pertaining to Wallis' book, "Since when did believing in God and having moral values make you pro-war, pro-rich, and pro-Republican? And since when did promoting and pursuing a progressive social agenda with a concern for economic security, health care, and educational opportunity mean you had to put faith in God aside?"

Amen to that, Brother Jim.  Sojourners:  The best magazine -- and medicine -- for evangelicals and conservative Christians.


David Scott Lewis

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Monday, October 29, 2007

Best Resources on the Psalms

Actually, "favorite" is a better word to use than "best" in the subject line.  And, fact is, there are always new and useful commentaries coming out on the Psalms.  But here's my take, circa 29 October 2007.


Spurgeon's The Treasury of David (also available for free via e-Sword)

Augustine's Exposition on the Book of Psalms (the entire book may be downloaded for free from CCEL, the Christian Classic Ethereal Library; be sure to check out their free recommended Christian classics)


Neale's Commentary on the Psalms: A Commentary on the Psalms from Primitive and Medieval Writers; and from the Various Office-books and Hymns of the Roman, Mozarabic, Ambrosian, Gallican, Greek, Coptic, Armenian, and Syrian Rites (Eighth Day Books: Psalms 1-38, 39-80, 81-118, 119-150; by far the best commentary on the Psalms)

Christ in the Psalms (Amazon) by (Orthodox) Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon (Reardon is pastor of All Saints Antiochian Orthodox Church in Chicago and an alumnus of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome; I consider this a modern supplement to Augustine since Augustine takes a similar approach, i.e., by seeing Christ in all the Psalms)

The Message of the Psalms: A Theological Commentary by Walter Brueggemann (Brueggemann is considered by many the greatest Old Testament/Hebrew Bible scholar of the 20th century)

ArtScroll Psalms/Tehillim: A New Translation with a Commentary Anthologized from Talmudic, Midrashic, and Rabbinic Sources (an Orthodox Jewish commentary, the chapter introductions add a foundation to each Psalm that I haven't found elsewhere; free downloads of selected prayers based on the Psalms)

Something I'm looking forward to is the commentary on the Psalms that will be part of The Church's Bible series, my favorite series.  Unfortunately, we may have to wait for a few years for this.  Published: Song of Songs, 1 Corinthians, Isaiah.  Next: Matthew.

BTW, our QIF men's covenant/Bible study group is currently studying and reflecting on the Psalms.  We meet Thursday nights at 7 pm, with an optional dinner beginning at 6 pm.  Please contact me through this e-newsletter or via the blog site if you're interested in additional information.


David Scott Lewis

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Sunday, October 21, 2007

"Advanced"/Classic Christian Readings from the Early Church

I admit, I haven't used these very much, but I suspect that they'll become more accessible thanks to progress with machine translation software and the fact that none of these sources can be copyrighted.

* PL - Patrologia Latina (221 volumes)

* PG - Patrologia Graeca (161 volumes)

* GPO - Patrologia Orientalis (48 volumes)

:: 430 volumes total

These are truly the classics of all Christian faith traditions.

Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers
(Amazon, Eighth Day Books, EWTN) borrows from these sources, as does the Early Church Fathers section in CCEL.


David Scott Lewis

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"Must Read" Christian Theology Books

In additional to Christian classics that can be found at either CCEL or purchased through Eighth Day Books, here are several that I consider "must read":

* The Resurrection of the Son of God
* The Death of the Messiah
* The Birth of the Messiah

* Christ and Horrors :: Horrendous Evils and the Goodness of God (by far the best books on theodicy, written by an Oxford endowed chair <formerly a Yale endowed chair> with better credentials than Dawkins & Co.)

* The Bible As It Was :: Traditions of the Bible: A Guide to the Bible As It Was at the Start of the Common Era


David Scott Lewis

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*** Best Daily Bible Study, Devotion, Reflection & Meditation Resources ***

I've decided to add the links for many/most of the sources I recently listed in response to a blog post.


In Conversation with God ( Amazon, EWTN) (by far the best resource for a daily devotional; will appeal to ALL Christians, regardless of their faith tradition)

Magnificat (English edition subscription form) & Magnifikid!

Universalis (web site; my "must read" is the reading for Vigils/Matins, i.e., the Office of Readings)

The Liturgy of the Hours (Amazon, EWTN <including the St. Joseph Guide>)
  St. Joseph Guide for The Liturgy of the Hours (annual)

NOTE: The LOTH really isn't necessary if someone is willing to use Universalis online or downloaded to a handheld via AvantGo.  Also, Universalis pretty much replaces the need for Magnificat, too, especially when combined with Mobile Gabriel.  (Mobile Gabriel has a superb mass reflection.)

WARNING: Saturday is Mariology day in Catholicism, so Protestants may feel more comfortable using the aforementioned resources Monday through Friday and Sunday, and using another devotional for Saturday (or using the Sunday reading on Saturday).


Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers (Amazon, Eighth Day Books, EWTN)

Neale's Commentary on the Psalms (Eighth Day Books: Psalms 1-38, 39-80, 81-118, 119-150)

** EWTN: In Conversation with God, The Liturgy of the Hours, Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers


From the Fathers to the Churches (probably out of print)

Divine Hours by Phyllis Tickle (not my cup of tea, but it might be yours)

Celtic Daily Prayer

Benedictine Daily Prayer: A Short Breviary ( Amazon)
  (I'm not a fan of this, but it's an adequate breviary)


David Scott Lewis

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Monday, October 15, 2007

Best AvantGo Daily Devotional Sites (for handheld devices, including PDAs, cell phones/mobile phones)

Although it's possible to customize channels for AvantGo, my two favorite sites are Mobile Gabriel and Universalis (both links in this sentence are links to their AvantGo-related pages).

I use Universalis for daily Office readings and I use Mobile Gariel not just for daily Mass readings, but also for their Mass reflection (both links in this sentence are links to their home pages).


David Scott Lewis

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

Links to additional devotionals that I like

This is a rather eclectic bunch of sources, but you'll likely find at least one or two that you'll like.


Universalis: Office of Readings (my favorite Office of the day; I especially enjoy the Second Readings)

Moments Together for Couples
Purpose Driven Life (courtesy of Rick Warren @ Saddleback Church, Southern Baptist Convention)
God's Word For Today (Assemblies of God)
Sip of Scripture  (Mennonites, a historic peace church)

Regnum Christi Meditations (conservative Roman Catholic)
InTouch Today - Dr. Charles Stanley (evangelical)
Tradition Day by Day (a brief message from a church father)

Mennonite Daily Devotional (opens a separate window; hence, this is listed separately)

Pray-as-you-go . . . daily prayer for your MP3 player (best daily Christian devotional podcast ... by far!!; produced by Irish Jesuits)

Additional sites:

Daily Reflections with Patrick Henry Reardon
 (Orthodox church reflections)

KFUO: Issues, Etc. (a conservative Lutheran <Missouri Synod> talk show/podcast)


Work-related --
ICCC (International Christian Chamber of Commerce) TGIF (Today God is First)
In the Company of Prayer

Additional dailies --
LifeWay Newsletters (Southern Baptist Convention)
  Everyday With Jesus
  Experiencing God Today
The Upper Room


Magnificat (produced by the Order of Preachers (Dominicans); relatively traditional, would likely be enjoyed by most Protestants except, perhaps, for the Saturday devotional since Saturday is Mariology day in Catholicism)


Sojourners - Christians for Peace & Justice: Preaching the Word (follows the <Protestant> Revised Common Lectionary; although there are literally dozens of other lectionary resources, this and The Text this Week are my two favorites)



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Best Daily Devotionals & Studies

Note: This was my response to a post titled, "Ten Reasons: Short breviary?" and it's opening sentence, "Can anyone recommend a short breviary suitable for the laity?"  My response follows and is posted here.

I've tried, but don't care for Shorter Christian Prayer, Christian Prayer or Benedictine Daily Prayer.

IMHO, Magnificat is best, supplemented by the Second Reading for Vigils (i.e., the Office of Readings). The four-volume leather edition of The Liturgy of the Hours is superb, but a bit pricey; I'd recommend using it through Universalis (and you don't have to set your book each day if you use Universalis). I download it to my smartphone, along with Mobile Gabriel. Both are available via AvantGo. (I use Mobile Gabriel for their Mass readings and reflections, and Universalis for the Divine Office.)

Frankly, I prefer In Conversation with God above anything else, followed by Magnificat, and The Liturgy of the Hours (which I now use via Universalis on my smartphone), although I usually use the LOTH only for Vigils/Matins/Office of Readings (this is my favorite hour).

I also try to read at least one sermon each week from the Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers and reflect on the Sunday Mass responsorial Psalm using Neale's Commentary on the Psalms. Both are extraordinary!! (BTW, it's really the Neale and Littledale Commentary on the Psalms. Both (Sunday Sermons and Neale's commentary) are available from Eighth Day Books, my favorite Christian book supplier.)

Other sources to consider: From the Fathers to the Churches, the Divine Hours series by Phyllis Tickle (not my cup of tea, but it might be yours) and Celtic Daily Prayer. (Fact: Ancient texts have incorrectly translated a word into English as "harps"; in fact, it should be "pipes" -- as in "bagpipes"!! Hence, one reason I enjoy the Celtic book, which I read while listening to a couple of Celtic music podcasts, Taize music, Gregorian chants, you get my point.)

For the Psalms specifically, it's hard to beat Spurgeon's Treasury of David (available free from e-Sword), Augustine's Exposition on the Psalms (available free from CCEL), the ArtScroll Tehillim Commentary, and Psalms with the Jerusalem Commentary (from Judaica Press). The book Christ in the Psalms by Fr. Reardon is excellent, too. Of course, all of these play second fiddle to Neale.

For reference, I'm an American expat living in China, a member of both Menlo Park Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) and Abundant Life Christian Fellowship (Church of God) in Silicon Valley (as well as being a Microsoft/Oracle/Samsung alumni), and had the pleasure of spending six months living and working as a cloistered monk at several Benedictine and Trappist monasteries. Was fluent in Hebrew (perhaps the only Gentile to ever receive the Free Sons of Israel medal for Hebrew scholarship) and regularly use the (Jewish) Orthodox Stone Chumash (ArtScroll) and Conservative Etz Hayim (JPS) when I study the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible. (Another "must read": The Bible as it Was.)



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