Five for Friday: Wellness Religion, Disappearing Hymnals, Chicken Diapers

CHICAGO, IL (August 10, 2018) – Covenanters routinely share links to social media articles and videos that Covenant News Service believes may be of interest to others. Each Friday we post five of them. Following is a sample of those submissions—their inclusion does not represent an endorsement by the Covenant of any views expressed.

How Did Wellness Become Our New Religion?

Sara Wilson helped promote “lifestyle” brands but asks whether the focus on wellness reveals a sickness in our souls. She notes, for example, Gwyneth Paltrow’s controversial website, Goop, which features products that range from luxury skin-care products to a recipe for spirit truffles made with moon pantry spirit dust and “feeds harmony and extrasensory perception through pineal gland de-calcification and activation.”

From the article: “At some point in recent history, we decided to use ‘because it makes me feel good’ as a key metric by which we determine truth. Truth has become, in essence, anything that makes us feel good about ourselves. That shift created the perfect conditions for the wellness industrial complex to flourish. … Wellness has in many ways become our new religion, with practitioners, instructors, and coaches its priests, imams, and rabbis. The above photo is a screen shot from a video in which Paltrow shares her nighttime routine with Goop products that will set you back only $602.

The Booming Business of Luxury Chicken Diapers

This falls into the “What will they think of next” category. Perhaps you’ll start seeing them on Paltrow’s possible new site – Coop.

From the article: “Pampered Poultry pricepoint of $18 per diaper is fairly standard. Purely Poultry’s zebra, daisy, and pink camo designs go for around $17, while My Pet Chicken offers custom-made diapers for $30. FeatherWear retails their denim “FlockSuits” — premium diapers that are pitched as “Levi Strauss meets Calvin Klein” for nearly $38.”

What We Lose When Hymnbooks Disappear

Theological differences among movements can readily been seen by looking at their hymnals. For example, the Nazarene hymnal has far more hymns that focus on the blood of Jesus while the Covenant hymnal has far more that focused on friendship with God. The mention of “readers” in the article is a good one. When we read hymns rather than sing them in church, many of us who had sung them for years commented, “I had never noticed that in there before.”

From the article: “Hymnbooks helped to bind the people of God together. Because “readers can be both individual and corporate,” writes Phillips, hymnbooks in worship nurtured the “achievement of corporate personhood.” For new religious groups or fringe groups (the ones Phillips examines are African Methodists, Reform Jews, and Latter-day Saints), hymnbooks were one of the first acts of creating a visible identity. For denominations, too, hymnbooks were used to wage war or create peace by what was included, what was excluded, and how the books were published and circulated.”

As Activists Rally, Hymns of Protest Rise Again

Hymns and songs have long been employed to express solidarity among protest movements or to declare unabashed support for nations. The political divide in the country can be heard newly adapted and written hymns.  “When Jesus Went to Egypt,” written to the tune of “O Sacred Head Now Wounded” protests immigration policy. “Make America Great Again,” written by the former music minister at First Baptist Dallas was played at a July 4 event in Washington’s Kennedy Center and included a speech by President Donald Trump. The author says it is written in the same vein as “God Bless America,” which is included in many  hymnals. Most of the article focuses on new songs of protest.

From the article: “Musicians and scholars who focus on sacred music have noticed how it’s increasingly in the air, from public parks to courthouse steps, as part of a soundtrack for today’s social movements. And they’re eager to understand what’s happening. In July, the Hymn Society’s annual meeting focused on ‘Sacred Song and the Public Square.’ In September, Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Ga., plans to host a conference on ‘how worship embodies and shapes us for justice.’”

Denialism: what drives people to reject the truth

We all practice denial at some level but “denialism” is a much more profound and potentially catastrophic reality in our culture.

From the article: “Denialism has moved from the fringes to the centre of public discourse, helped in part by new technology. As information becomes freer to access online, as ‘research”’has been opened to anyone with a web browser, as previously marginal voices climb on to the online soapbox, so the opportunities for countering accepted truths multiply. No one can be entirely ostracised, marginalised and dismissed as a crank anymore. The sheer profusion of voices, the plurality of opinions, the cacophony of the controversy, are enough to make anyone doubt what they should believe.

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About the Author

Stan Friedman is the news and online editor for the Covenant Companion and is grateful for the opportunity to serve in a job that combines his newspaper and pastoral ministry experience. He has been to 15 Bruce Springsteen concerts in four cities and listened to “Thunder Road” an average of at least once a day for 41 years.

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