Tolkien & Lewis Celebration

September 19, 2015 @ 9:00 am4:00 pm

Tolkien and Lewis

Save the date for Aquinas College‘s Center for Faith & Culture’s inaugural “Tolkien and Lewis Celebration,” an all-day event on the work of the 20th century’s greatest Christian literary figures, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, on Saturday, September 19, 2015.

Speakers

Dale Ahlquist, President of the American Chesterton Society and host of EWTN’s Apostle of Common Sense. Dale will speak on “Chesterton, Tolkien & Lewis.”

Joseph Pearce, prolific author and Director of the Aquinas College Center for Faith and Culture, will present on “Unlocking the Lord of the Rings.”

Kevin O’Brien, founder and director of the Theater of the Word Incorporated and host of EWTN’s Theater of the Word. Kevin will perform a one-man show as Tolkien, delivering Tolkien’s famous lecture “on fairy stories.”

Jonathan Thorndike is the Honors Program Director at Belmont University. He teaches interdisciplinary “Great Books” courses and taught an Inklings course at King’s College London for many summers. He was awarded the Presidential Faculty Achievement Award at Belmont in 2014. Thorndike has published two books and over 50 essays on Japanese and British literature. Dr. Thorndike will be presenting on “Peter Jackson and Tolkien: Creative Legacy or Hollywood Disgrace?”

Devin Brown is a Lilly Scholar and Professor of English at Asbury University where he teaches a class on Lewis and Tolkien. He has written nine books, including A Life Observed: A Spiritual Biography of C. S. Lewis and The Christian World of The Hobbit. Dr. Brown will be discussing C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity.

Schedule

Saturday, September 19

Time Speaker Topic
9:00 Registration
9:30 Dale Ahlquist “Chesterton, Tolkien & Lewis”
10:30 Jonathan Thorndike “Peter Jackson and Tolkien: Creative Legacy or Hollywood Disgrace?”
11:30 Tolkien & Lewis Essay Contest Winner TBD
12:00 Lunch
1:00 Devin Brown “C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity
2:00 Joseph Pearce “Unlocking the Lord of the Rings”
3:00 Aquinas Award for Fiction Winner TBD
3:15 Kevin O’Brien One-man show as J.R.R. Tolkien with “On Fairy-Stories”
4:00 Celebration Concludes
4:15 Vigil Mass for travelers This Mass will be offered for the repose of the soul of Jef Murray who passed away on August 3. Jef, a talented artist, was scheduled to deliver at the Celebration on the topic “The Artist in Middle-Earth and Narnia.”

More info: http://www.aquinascollege.edu/calendar-event/tolkien-lewis-celebration/

Rebuilding Marriage Culture: A Fourfold Mission for the Church

Ryan T. Anderson

The Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, redefining marriage everywhere in the United States, has left many of us wondering: What do we do now?

In my book Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom, I present a comprehensive roadmap on how citizens of every walk of life should respond to the Court’s ruling.

Here I want to suggest four things the church in particular should do to help rebuild a strong marriage culture. After all, the church – either through action or inaction – will play a major role in the debate over the meaning of marriage.

I

First, the church needs to present a case for biblical sexuality that is appealing and that engages the best of modern thought. The virtues of chastity and lifelong marriage are enriching, but after fifty years, the church has still not devised a compelling response to the sexual revolution.

The legal redefinition of marriage could take place when and where it did only because the majority of Americans lacked a sound understanding of the nature of man and the nature of marriage.

The church needs to find a way to capture the moral imagination of the next generation. It needs to make the truth about human sexuality and its fulfillment in marriage not only attractive and appealing, but noble and exhilarating.

This is a truth worth staking one’s life on.

In the face of the seduction of cohabitation, no-fault divorce, extra-marital sex, non-marital childbearing, pornography and the hook-up culture, what can the church offer as a more fulfilling, more humane, more liberating alternative? Until it finds an answer, the church will make no headway in the same-sex marriage debate, which is the fulfillment of those revolutionary sexual values.

A proper response to the sexual revolution also requires engaging – not ignoring – the best of contemporary thought, especially the best of contemporary secular thought. What visions of the human person and sex, of marriage and personal wholeness do today’s thinkers advance? Exactly where and why do their ideas go wrong? The church needs to show that the truth is better than a lie. And that the truth can defeat all lies. I provide a philosophical defense of the truth in Truth Overruled; we need theologians to continue developing theological defenses.

In these efforts, we shouldn’t discount the potential of slumbering Christian communities to wake up. It’s easy to forget that, in 1973, the Southern Baptists were in favor of abortion rights and supported Roe v. Wade. Today they are at the forefront of the pro-life movement. Christians who are on the wrong side of the marriage debate today can change their minds if we help them.

II

The church’s second task is to develop ministries for those who experience same-sex attraction and gender identity conflicts. Such persons, for whom fidelity to the truth about human sexuality requires special courage, need our loving attention. Pope Francis’s description of the church as a “field hospital” after a battle is especially apt here.

These ministries are like the pro-life movement’s crisis pregnancy centers. Abortion is sold as the most humane and compassionate response to an unplanned pregnancy. It is not. And pro-lifers’ unprecedented grassroots response to women gives the lie to that claim. Likewise, those who believe the truth about marriage should be the first to walk with men and women dealing with same-sex attraction or gender identity conflicts, showing what a truly humane and compassionate response looks like.

Young people experiencing same-sex desire can face isolation and confusion as their peers first awaken to the opposite sex. They suffer humiliation if they say too much, but they bear the heavy burden of a secret if they keep silent. Parents and teachers must be sensitive to these struggles. We should fight arbitrary or abusive treatment of them. As relatives, co-workers, neighbors and friends, we must remember that social hardship isn’t limited to youth.

A shining example of ministry to the same-sex attracted is Courage, an international apostolate of the Catholic Church, which has produced the documentary film The Desire of Everlasting Hills. Every community needs groups like this to help their same-sex-attracted neighbors discern the unique life of loving service to which God calls each of them and find wholeness in communion with others.

But this work can’t just be out-sourced to special groups and ministries. Each of us needs to be willing to form deep friendships with men and women who are attracted to their own sex or struggle with their identity, welcoming them into our homes and families, especially when they aren’t able to form marriages of their own.

After all, the conjugal view of marriage – that it is inherently ordered to one-flesh union and hence to family life – defines the limits of marriage, leaving room for meaningful non marital relationships, especially deep friendships. This is liberating. The same-sex attracted, like everyone else, should have strong and fulfilling relationships. Marriage isn’t the only relationship that matters.

As I explain in my book, the conjugal view of marriage doesn’t denigrate other relationships. Those who would redefine marriage as a person’s most intense or deepest or most important relationship devalue friendship by implying that it’s simply less: less meaningful, less fulfilling. The greatest of Justice Kennedy’s errors may be his assertion that without same-sex marriage some people are “condemned to live in loneliness.” His philosophy of marriage is anaemic. And as our society has lost its understanding of marriage, it has suffered a corresponding diminution, even cheapening, of friendship.

We all need community, and those who for whatever reason never marry will know certain hardships that the married are spared. We should bring those left dry by isolation into other forms of community – as friends, fellow worshippers, neighbors, comrades in a cause, de facto members of our families, big siblings to our children, and regular guests in our homes.

III

The church’s third task is to defend religious liberty and to help conscientious Christians understand how to bear witness to the truth when a radical sexual agenda has become a nonnegotiable public policy. What should bakers and florists and photographers do? What should directors of local Catholic charities or Evangelical schoolteachers do?

There is no one single answer for every circumstance. Each person’s situation will require a unique response, based on his vocation and the challenges he faces. The answers for schools and charities and professionals may vary with a thousand particulars, but the church will need to teach Christians the moral principles to apply to their own circumstances.

The church also has to help the rest of society understand the importance of freedom, particularly religious freedom. The national conversation on this important civil liberty hasn’t been going well, and Indiana revealed how extreme a position the corporate and media establishments have staked out. They have the money and the megaphones. We have the truth. In Truth Overruled, I try to help make the case for a vast future of freedom.

IV

The fourth task of the church is the most important and the most challenging. We need to live out the truth about marriage and human sexuality.

Husbands and wives must be faithful to one another for better and for worse till death do them part. Mothers and fathers must take their obligations to their children seriously. The unmarried must prepare now for their future marital lives so they can be faithful to the vows they will make. And they need the encouragement of pastors who are not afraid to preach unfashionable truths.

Pope Benedict was right when he said the lives of the saints are the best evangelists. The same thing is true when it comes to marriage. The beauty and splendor of a happy family is our most eloquent testimony.

Ryan T. Anderson is the William E. Simon Senior Research Fellow at The Heritage Foundation and author of Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom, from which this essay is adapted. You can listen to him discuss the matter of marriage equality further with Fran Kelly on RN Breakfast.

Midway Baptist Church sees the presence of Tennessee Tech, along with the various community colleges and vocational schools, in our community as a blessing and stewardship.  The following article will help us think through how we, as a covenant body of believers, can receive this stewardship-blessing well.

Millennial ministry: It’s time we drop the adjective

And stop trying so hard to attract them.
By Aileen Lawrimore at BaptistNews.com

Collegiate ministry. My Facebook newsfeed is full of articles that have something to say about ministry to or with young adults (often referred to formally as Millennials). And if you read BuzzFeed, the Huffington Post or other current e-zines, you might infer that today’s youth are a new species of humanity and that to minister to or with them, you need specialized training.

Not true. It’s really not that hard. Look. I’ll show you.

First thing, and this is primary: stop trying to attract young people. That’s right. Attracting a certain demographic should never be a primary objective for your church. Really, young people are individuals just like all other humans and they have different preferences. Some like an early worship service, some prefer the later one. Some like worship in a traditional setting, others like a more contemporary atmosphere. You cannot be all these things to today’s college students because you’ll get frustrated and overwhelmed and you won’t look a thing like Jesus. Stop trying to find the latest gimmick to draw young folks to your doors. Instead, try being church to all people, regardless of their ages.

Now, what you do need to do is create an environment in your church that welcomes college students. Start by letting them know you exist. Go to campus events. Eat lunch in the cafeteria. Even have a Bible study there on the campus. Spread the word about times for worship and Sunday morning Bible study. You should do that but not to build up your church’s collegiate ministry. Do it because college students — just like everyone else — need godly community.

Oh, and if you are going to invite them, be sure to prepare for them. Have engaging Bible study and small groups. Consider making these groups intergenerational. Recently a college student told me that at the church she attends, she has made a really close friend who she hangs out with frequently. They laugh together, eat together and have fun together. The friend? She’s well past 80 years old! Offer students quality Bible study and authentic connection, and age won’t be nearly as important as you might think.

Okay, so you are (1) ministering to college students and young adults not to increase your weekly attendance but because we are called to share the love of Jesus. And (2) you are offering classes that are both substantive in content and intentional in relationship building. Now, what else can you do? Here are a few ideas.

1. Get on social media. Facebook appeals to an older crowd these days, but I find most students do have an account. They check it, but not necessarily daily. I interact more with students via Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter. Snapchat is especially easy and — for me — fun to use. Most college students use some type of social media. If you want to connect with them, you should, too.

2. Get their phone numbers and use them. Wait! Don’t actually call them! (That’s so last century). Send a text. Now it depends on your relationship with the student as to what you say. If I am not really close to a student, I might text a quick, “Hope classes are going well,” or “Thinking about you during exams.” For those kids I know really well, I text them things like, “I miss hearing your goofy jokes,” or “It’s the weekend! Make wise choices,” or “You’ll be at church in the morning, right?” Don’t know how to text? Ask a college student (or, hey, a middle schooler) to teach you.

3. Learn their names and remember them. Each young adult who visits your congregation is an individual. You are probably not bombarded with so many college students that you can’t remember all those names. (If you are, then get down on your knees and thank the good Lord for your problem. We should all be so burdened.) So remember each person’s name. I know a student who went (alone) every Sunday she was in town to a very small church near her college. After two years, she quit going. You know why? Because no one in the congregation of less than 75 people knew her name. There’s absolutely no excuse for this. None. It doesn’t matter how old you are, no one wants to be invisible. Remember students’ names. Write them down if necessary. Have them tattooed on your bicep. But remember their names. (Actually don’t do that tattoo thing. That’s kind of creepy.)

4. Talk to them. Many older adults I know feel like they don’t know what to say to people under the age of 40. Here’s what you say to a college student: “Hi. Glad you came today.” Ask them the same questions you’d ask anyone you had just met. Things like, “You from around here?” or “How about this weather?” And if you really want to connect you can say this: “Would you like to join us for lunch today?” But let’s be honest, that’s not only true of people born since 1990. Even Baby Boomers appreciate being included.

5. Minister with them, not just to them. Invite them to sing in your choir, work with your children or help with your landscaping. Include them in local mission projects. Ask them to lead in worship through reading scripture, saying prayers or ushering. Think about it. No one — college-aged or otherwise — wants to be somebody else’s project.

6. Feed them. Take them out to eat or invite them to your home. College students are generally on a tight budget and are weary of cafeteria food. It is the rare college kid who will turn down a good free meal. Unless of course, they suspect a bait and switch scheme. That is, don’t offer food as a sort of bribe or as an exchange for their participation. No. Feed them because, for one thing, you will be meeting a need or at least a real desire; and for another thing, eating together is a great way to build relationships. That’s exactly how Jesus got to know Zacchaeus, and a whole lot of other folks.

7. For students who are away at college, you should definitely connect with them digitally, but also send them real mail. You can mail the church bulletin, a clipping from the local paper about Friday’s football game or just a handwritten note. I’m continually amazed at how much college students appreciate real, paper-in-an-envelope, postmarked correspondence. They love it. Now if you want to, add little gifts from time to time. I buy Starbucks cards — only $5 or so each — and enclose them with a note that says, “Have a cup of coffee on me!” I’ve sent lots of chocolate bars, chewing gum and even silly little toys. One college student I know is still raving about the toy rubber band launcher I sent him. (Don’t know how much his roommates liked it, though.) Of course homemade goodies are always a welcome treat, and if that’s your thing, go for it! But really, you can just send a note. They’ll love it.

Easy, right? It all comes down to three things:

1. Focus on building the Kingdom, not your membership list.

2. Be prepared for people of all ages by offering quality Bible study.

3. Share God’s love intentionally through authentic relationships formed over time.

Plus the food thing. Do that too.