Micah’s most beloved verse is more than a spiritual to-do list.
In the early 1960s, political writer Hannah Arendt attended the trials of Adolf Eichmann, the German officer who had orchestrated much of the Holocaust. She expected to find a monster. How could it be otherwise? Only a deranged psychopath could lend his considerable organizational skills to the mass murder of millions in Nazi Germany. What stunned Arendt and enraged some of her readers was her startling discovery of a “normal” and “simple” man at the trial. The notorious architect of the Holocaust did not appear as a devil but as a banal bureaucrat doing what he was told.
Arendt’s jarring discovery led to her oft-repeated phrase: the banality of evil. The implications of Arendt’s descriptive phrase are chilling. Without prudence and self-reflection, normal people are capable of gross injustice. Micah 6:8, perhaps the minor prophet’s most famous verse, has something to say about Eichmann and the banality of evil. It has something to say to us.
The prophetic books of the Old Testament bear their fruit with patience. They challenge. In their own ways, Martin Luther and Saint Augustine found the prophets puzzling. So, when you and I experience similar hurdles we are in good company. Philippians for morning devotions or Haggai? Jesus or Zerubbabel? If we’re honest, most of us would probably pick the former.
As a result, the prophetic writings remain a strange land for many Christian readers. But not Micah 6:8. This verse is the stuff of political speeches, Christian kitsch, and bumper stickers. “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” ...
Leah Samuelson is Associate Lecturer of Art at Wheaton College.
In this episode of Theology for Life, Lynn and Ed talk with Leah Samuelson about community art—what it means and how it benefits the community and those participating. How are relationships built while doing art? Samuelson shares that when you work shoulder-to-shoulder and solve small problems together, the application to broader life is incredible. You accomplish something together that matters to those who participate, which is a stepping stone to deep friendships.
Why should Christians be engaged in community art? There are, according to Samuelson, certain things that you can do in art that you can’t otherwise that help you in relationships.
When did we lose our passion for the arts, and how do we get it back? Samuelson explains that we may never have truly lost our passion, but that it’s ebbed and flowed throughout the centuries.
How do the arts bring out the biblical texts? Visual arts mix the material and the spiritual. We look at the the stories in the Bible through new eyes when we look at what others have created.
Samuelson discusses the mosaic that was recently created for the lobby of the Billy Graham Center to help us understand the important role of art in our theology.
Leah Samuelson is Associate Lecturer of Art at Wheaton College. Trained in high-end commercial mural painting with a Chicago-based studio and also in poorer centers of urban areas with the Philadelphia-based arts-intervention and education group BuildaBridge, Samuelson now focuses on transformational pedagogy, socially engaged art curriculum development, and strategies of institutional collaboration through the arts. Projects currently in development use traditional byzantine ...
As a black woman wrestling with racism in America, I lean on a Scottish theologian’s four key insights.
Oswald Chambers didn’t know Lecrae and John Piper. Or your church leader or mine. He didn’t know about tensions today between white evangelicals and black evangelicals. Or between Democrats and Republicans, left and right. Even if he did, he’d still say the same thing:
“If your life is producing a whine, instead of the wine, then ruthlessly kick it out.”
That’s classic Oswald Chambers—more direct than diplomatic. More practical than politically on-point. The 20th-century Scottish evangelist and theologian known for the best-selling devotional, My Utmost for His Highest, writes with raw clarity and common sense wisdom that, according to biographer David McCasland, “makes you feel like he’s reading your mail.”
What, then, would Chambers say to believers on the 100th anniversary of his death this month about the never-settled, twisty knot of race in America—the whole mess of it, from church politics to racial infights, alt-right marchers to kneeling football players, Confederate statues to immigrant bans, from red states and blue states to MAGA and Twitter trolls, ad infinitum?
Chambers wouldn’t be surprised by any of it. “Over and over again in the history of the world,” he observed during the crisis of World War I, “man has made life into chaos.” In America, that’s surely true regarding race—the genetically irrelevant concept that has gripped the nation’s psyche from its slave-holding beginnings. If a nation and its churches can have an original sin, the scandal of racism—with its plundering of black lives (and also red, yellow, and brown)—qualifies among the world’s absolute worst.
Into this cauldron ...