Developing discernment

The new issue of Critique newsletter arrived today. Its byline is "Helping Christians Develop Skill in Discernment." I've mentioned this 16-page publication before but want to do so again to encourage those of you who aren't familiar with it to check it out.

Once again, it is filled with great articles. In "Tsunamis and a Good God," Critique editor Denis Haack writes that "Tragedies require a response." He highlights responses to the tsunami that have been posted on the BBC website by believers of various faiths. He also suggests a number of questions for reflection and discussion. Among them: "Christians might find their belief in an infinite, personal, loving God challenged. Where was your God on December 26, 2004? If he could have stoped it, why didn't he? Our challenge is to be sure we hold a balanced, nuanced biblical view; to be able to talk about and live it out creatively; and to provide creative and thoughtful responses to those who propose an alternate world view. How much progress have you made in this? What plans do you need to make? What questions and doubts have been raised (in your mind or by others) by the calamity? What responses have you heard by Christians that have been unhelpful? Helpful?"

In "But Ya Gotta See 'Em," Drew Trotter reflects on movies not likely to be nominated for an Oscar, but nevertheless, are worthwhile and have something to teach us: Super Size Me, The Clearing, Spider Man 2, Saved, The Village, Hero, and The Incredibles. Jeremy Huggins writes a review of Blankets by Craig Thompson. In "The Church: Cold Comfort?" Huggins writes that this "comic book" (ie, illustrated novel) has reminded him that since the Church is "one of, if not the, primary institutions God has established to display the beauty of his righteousness...we should continually examine the ways we display Jesus, ask whether the art in our words and images is aesthetically pleasing, relevant, engaging, and warm."

This review is followed by another article related to the church, "When the Church Fails Us" by Denis Haack. He writes, "If we insist on perfection or nothing, we will end up with nothing. And nothing, when it means being cut off from the grace of Christ's presence in word and sacrament is a nothing of devastating proportions."

John Seel reviews the music of the Northwest indie rock band, Modest Mouse, and their new release Good News for People Who Love Bad News: "Nietzshe wisely observed, 'Man can endure any 'What' if he only knows the 'Why'.' For Modest Mouse the loss of the 'why' makes the 'what' almost unbearable. Despite what Brock's head tells him makes sense, the complaint of his heart puts him on a collision course with his Maker. So he shouts with poetic honesty, 'God d**n!' Here his anger and longing meet--they push him to acknowlege what he is unwilling to. Either his courage has meaning because God exists, or life is what it is. For cursing God is not indifference to God, but the first step back to God."

The back cover includes reminders of other resources. Music, book, and film reviews can be found on the publication's website, including a new review and discussion guide of the film Italian for Beginners. Also on the website is a discussion board in cooperation with *cino as a "place to connect with other readers" or "grappl[e] with a discernment exercise."

You can receive Critique by written request to Ransom Fellowship, 1150 West Center, Rochester, MN, 55902. There is no cost for the publication, but donations are welcome at any time.