How one religious idea gave us the best album of all time

How one religious idea gave us the best album of all time

Recently, I met a gentleman who, upon discovering I taught theology, asked me what was the good of studying religious ideas in our secular world today. When I told him religious ideas have continually made the world a better place, he challenged me to name one. I told him there are plenty of simple religious ideas that have created such a ripple effect that they changed the course of history, and shared a few of them with him. I’ve decided to turn my response into a series of blog posts. The first one, about how the Cistercian idea of work created a Europe-wide economic boom in the 12th century (and helped produce some amazing beer), is here. Here’s the second of those world-changing ideas.   THE IDEA: THAT BEAUTY IS THE KEY TO UNDERSTANDING GOD The Christian doctrine of creation is a bit different to that of other religions. Christians don’t believe that God created the world and then sat back and admired his creation from a distance. Instead the church teaches that while God is separate and beyond all creation, he is nonetheless integrally involved in that creation, sustaining the universe from moment to moment. Theologians and writers from Irenaeus to Thomas Aquinas to Julian of Norwich wrote about how creation is an ongoing process, with God actively involved in the

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7 Broken Men: David Brainerd

7 Broken Men: David Brainerd

In this series of posts we’ve been looking at “broken men” – fragile souls, charlatans, jerks and screw-ups who were used by God nonetheless to bring great hope and healing to the world. So far we’ve looked at men who were affected by overbearing fathers, childhood sexual assault, alcohol abuse, gambling addictions, drug use, and possible mental illness. And yet all of them were used by God to launch remarkable movements for his glory. In this entry we will look at the sweetest soul in our series, the frail and ardent young diarist, David Brainerd. There’s not much to Brainerd’s life. He died from tuberculosis on 9 October 1747, at the age of 29, having suffered from symptoms of the disease for close to a decade. The effects of the illness, coupled with an intensely introspective personality, as well as periods of great loneliness, resulted in sometimes immobilizing bouts of depression. There were dozens of occasions when he longed to die and be free of his suffering. Brainerd is most famous for his journal, a painfully honest and heartfelt account of his travails and his overwhelming desire to serve God and preach the gospel. And it’s this, the inner life of the earnest young man that would change history. In it he describes his brief tenure as a pastor to

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