Posted by Cathleen Falsani 1 week 5 days ago
In her 1968 poem, “The Speed of Darkness,” the late American poet Muriel Rukeyser penned the line, “The universe is made of stories, not of atoms.”While the medium is different, a new feature-length documentary, Girl Rising, also bares witness to the same truth in poetic images and stories of girls from around the world.Through the vivid accounts of nine girls from the developing world — Cambodia, Nepal, Peru, Afghanistan, Egypt, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Haiti, and India — and their valiant struggles for the right to be educated, Girl Rising articulates a universal truth: Educating girls ensures a safer, healthier and more prosperous world for all of us.The film, a project of the 10×10 Campaign to educate and empower girls, paired a girl in each locale with an accomplished writer — novelists, journalists, and screenwriters — from their own developing country to help craft and tell the stories in the girls’ own words.
Posted by Cathleen Falsani 2 weeks 1 day ago
“I find hypocrisy all over our lives – especially mine – and certainly in the church. … I think Jesus loves everybody. Everybody. The second we call somebody a ‘nonbeliever,’ we have put a wall up between us and them. They are all children of God.”With a wink and a crazy-eyed smile, Shadyac was, ostensibly, calling the crowd on its own … uh … baloney.“Forgive me, I’m personally a little tired – God’s not, but I am – of khaki-wearing, Docker-delivering, Christianity,” he said. “If you’re out there in Dockers or khakis: God loves you, but I’m still a work in progress.”And, when given the chance, Shadyac gently corrected the tacit implication that Hollywood is Babylon.“You know what I would say to the church, to you guys, if I had to? ‘Come on. Let’s stop it,’” the director began. “We have become so whitewashed that when I literally say the word ‘ass’ – which is actually in the anatomical dictionary – because we are so born of the Puritan fear [you freak out]. Guess what? God made the ass. He made the ass.“You’ve just gotta get over that. I don’t believe the world is godless. Because if I believe in omnipresence and omniscience, and I take the Word at its word, that God is in EV-ERY-THING,” he said. “When another person is loving another person, God is all over their lives. I don’t need to judge them and to tell them where God is in or out or what words they need to say. That is not up to me.”
Posted by Cathleen Falsani 2 weeks 5 days ago
Class began at dusk in a dimly lit studio facing Pacific Coast Highway as the yoga teacher appeared, adjusting the shawl draped around his shoulders, and took his seat on a quilted meditation pillow.Because the sun was setting behind him, the teacher appeared in silhouette. I could only hear his voice as he guided us through the 90-minute Kundalini yoga class – a series of meditations, chanting, vigorous breathing exercises, and asanas (or postures).“I want you to know that this is a safe place,” the teacher, Cole “Raahi” Jacobs, told us midway through class. “You can feel whatever you need to feel. You are safe here.”I did. I was.At the beginning of the year, I embarked on a two-month sabbatical to recover from a rough 2012. I needed to recharge, and resolved to rest, spend time with the people I love most, and find some kind of physical practice that would be restorative.
Posted by Cathleen Falsani 4 weeks 7 hours ago
Many of today’s evangelical Christians seem to be taking to heart the words traditionally attributed to St. Francis of Assisi: “Preach the gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.”Or at least they were at the recent Q Conference here, a gathering of more than a few of the most influential and innovative mover-shakers of the evangelical world.Over the course of two days in a format similar to the popular TED talks, the speakers spoke passionately more about what they were doing to make the world a better place than they did about getting more butts into pews on any given Sunday.
Posted by Cathleen Falsani 7 weeks 9 hours ago
Labels can be helpful when, for instance, applied to cans of soup or barrels of toxic waste. But they are less so when affixed to human beings – particularly when labels are meant to summarize, indelibly, one’s spiritual identity.In a recent Rolling Stone interview, Marcus Mumford, the 26-year-old lead singer of the wildly successful British band Mumford & Sons, raised the hackles of religious folks (in some quarters) when he declined to claim the “Christian” label as his own.You see, Marcus is the son of John and Eleanor Mumford, who are the national leaders of the Vineyard Church in the U.K. and Ireland, an arm of the international evangelical Christian Vineyard Movement. Last year, he married actress Carey Mulligan, whom he’d met years earlier at a Christian youth camp.And the music of Mumford & Sons, for which Mumford is the main lyricist, is laden with the themes and imagery of faith – often drawing specifically upon the Christian tradition. They explore relationships with God and others; fears and doubts; sin, redemption, and most of all, grace.
Posted by Cathleen Falsani 12 weeks 5 days ago
This week, in the run-up to Sunday's Academy Awards ceremony, we've been taking a look at each of the Best Picture nominees, the stories they tell, and the spiritual questions (and answers) they offer. In today's final installment, we turn our attention to Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, and Zero Dark Thirty.
Posted by Cathleen Falsani 13 weeks 7 hours ago
The fragility of life. The servanthood of love. The (im)morality of war. The fundamentals of mercy and justice. The power of grace and forgiveness. The oneness of creation. The personal (and spiritual) toll of climate change. The nature of God and faith. These are some of the spiritual themes explored in the mostly august field of nine contenders for the 2013 Academy Award for Best Picture — Amour, Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Les Miserables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, and Zero Dark Thirty.This week, in the run-up to Sunday's Academy Awards ceremony, we're taking a look at each of the Best Picture nominees, the stories they tell, and the spiritual questions (and answers) they offer. Today we turn our attention to Django Unchained, Les Miserables, and Life of Pi.
Posted by Cathleen Falsani 13 weeks 1 day ago
The fragility of life. The servanthood of love. The (im)morality of war. The fundamentals of mercy and justice. The power of grace and forgiveness. The oneness of creation. The personal (and spiritual) toll of climate change. The nature of God and faith.These are some of the spiritual themes explored in the mostly august field of nine contenders for the 2013 Academy Award for Best Picture -- Amour, Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Les Miserables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, and Zero Dark Thirty.2012 was an extraordinary year for film. This year's Best Picture field is perhaps stronger than it's been in recent memory, replete with nuance and substance, each film presenting a uniquely compelling and memorable tale that both informs and reflects our culture, sensibilities, and challenges.A few of the nominated films employ overtly religious ideas and language (Life of Pi, Les Miserables, Lincoln), while others tackle daunting ethical issues that speak to our deepest identities and values (Argo, Djano Unchained, Zero Dark Thirty), or explore the sacred landscape of friendship, family, and unconditional love (Amour, Beasts of the Southern Wild, The Silver Linings Playbook.)For the next three days, we'll look at each of the Best Picture nominees, the stories they tell, and the spiritual questions (and answers) they offer.
Posted by Cathleen Falsani 15 weeks 1 day ago
There are two personality flaws that I consider to be more or less fatal: being cheap and being unkind to the wait staff.By “cheap,” I don’t mean frugal. I’m talking about the kind of economic stinginess that goes far beyond being a good steward of your budget and resources. Cheap is miserly, selfish, and, I believe, based in fear. And nothing good is wrought when fear is your motivation.Another word to describe this kind of cheap is more commonly employed in British English than in our own American lexicon: “mean.” Meanness connotes the habit of being ungenerous and petty. This meanness is what the first fatal flaw and the second have in common. If you are rude, condescending, or just plain nasty to your server in a restaurant, it is, in the immortal words of Liz Lemon who crossed over last week into the eternity of syndication, a deal breaker.The only thing worse than being cheap and nasty to the wait staff is invoking your religious beliefs to justify your actions. And that is, sadly, precisely what one pastor did when she attempted to stiff her waitress after church one recent Sunday night at a Missouri Applebee’s.On Jan. 25, Alois Bell, pastor of the tiny Word Deliverance Ministries church in St. Louis, headed to the local Applebee’s with nine of her congregants – four other adults and five children – for a post-worship dinner. When the unidentified server returned with the bill for $39.43 at the end of the meal, Bell crossed out the automatic 18 percent gratuity (added to parties of six or more), wrote in the tip amount of “0” and the following handwritten message: “I give God 10%, why do you get 18?” Then she signed the credit card receipt “Pastor Alois Bell.”
Posted by Cathleen Falsani 21 weeks 5 days ago
For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.~ Isaiah 9:6On the flight home from Connecticut, where we’d buried my beloved father a few days before Thanksgiving, I watched the film Seeking a Friend for the End of the World and dissolved into a wailing heap of tears and snot.The premise of the uneven dramedy starring Steve Carell and Keira Knightley is this: An massive asteroid named Matlilda is on a collision course with planet Earth and in three weeks’ time, the world will come to an end. The main characters and others decide how – and with whom – they want to spend the last days of their lives.Given recent events, this led to some soul searching on my part. If I had three weeks to live, what would I do? Where would I go? Who would I want to make sure I saw? With whom would I want to share my last breaths?For most of my life the answer has been the same: I’d want to be with my family and, in particular, with my father.Which is why I ended up bawling my eyes out for the last 90 minutes of the flight home to Los Angeles, much to the dismay of the fellow in the middle seat next to me. If I had three weeks to live today, I wouldn’t be able to spend any of those moments with Daddy.He’s in the More, now. On the other side of the veil. In Heaven. Resting in peace. With Jesus.And I will have to wait until my earthly life ends to see him again face-to-face.
Posted by Cathleen Falsani 22 weeks 5 days ago
Dear Sojourners friends,I have some news to share with you that is difficult (for me at least) but wanted you to hear it from the horse’s (or mama bear’s) mouth: Today is my last day as Sojourners' Web Editor and Director of New Media.Change is hard. There is always a certain lamenting that comes with it, even when the change is, on many levels, a good thing. This was a difficult decision but one I felt I had to make in order to follow the lead of the Spirit. Our CEO Jim Wallis received the news of my impending departure with great grace, love and support. For Jim's friendship, I am ever blessed and thankful.See the thing is, as many of you know, I didn’t become a mother until about four years ago when my husband, Maury, and I welcomed home our boy, Vasco, whom we adopted from Malawi. Vasco, is now 13 and, as any parent of teenagers will tell you, they need their mamas during these transitional boy-to-man/girl-to-woman years perhaps more than ever before, even as they are sprouting their independent wings and pulling away from their parental units.
Posted by Cathleen Falsani 23 weeks 10 hours ago
This Christmas, for the spirituality-and-pop-culture enthusiasts on your gifting list, consider the following: Be kind and rewind.Give them the gift that keeps on giving ... long after the series has been cancelled.Rev. The Vicar of Dibley. Saving Grace. Davey and Goliath. Pushing Daisies. Six Feet Under. The Book of Daniel. Lie to me. Lost. And Northern Exposure.
Posted by Cathleen Falsani 25 weeks 1 day ago
When I think of weavers, what comes to my mind are the ladies in the back of the knitting store in my Southern California hometown, the ones who hang out on weekend afternoons with their handlooms – weaving cloth shawls, blankets, or the occasional modern tapestry.Here, weaving is, by and large, a pastime. Some would call it an art form. The ladies in the back of the knitting shop are craft weavers. We might consider them "artisans" and laud them for mastering the truly ancient craft.In the West, machines do most of the commercial weaving, not people. In Ethiopia, and elsewhere in the developing world, handloom weaving is most often an occupation for men and one that isn't usually heralded for its artistry. Weaving isn’t a prestigious job and, by and large, those who weave are the working poor.
Posted by Cathleen Falsani 27 weeks 1 day ago
"Do you think he'll sing?" the girl in the row behind me wondered aloud."I hope so," the young fellow beside her said before continuing, "My dad would freak. He was a big fan of U2 when I was growing up. He used to play this one album, The Joshua Tree, over and over again."His father was a fan.I am a thousand years old, I thought to myself, as more Georgetown students filled the seats around me at the university's 111-year-old Gaston Hall, the main lecture hall on campus named after Georgetown's first student, William Gaston, who later served as a member of the U.S. Congress.The hall, decorated with stunning art-deco-era frescos and the crest of every Jesuit institute of higher learning, has hosted many dignitaries over the years, including Presidents Obama and Clinton, Vice-President Al Gore, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, to name but a few."So if he's not going to sing, is he just going to talk," another student asked, with a distinct whiff of disappointment in his voice."I hear he's an awesome speaker, though," still another student said.The students who packed the auditorium, many of them from Georgetown's Global Social Enterprise Initiative at the McDonough School of Business and more than a few donning black t-shirts with the insignia of the ONE Campaign (of which Bono is a co-founder), weren't sure what to expect from the famous Irish rock star and humanitarian.A concert? A lecture? Another boring speech?I'm fairly certain none of the students present for Monday night's event, sponsored by the Bank of America and The Atlantic magazine, anticipated hearing Bono, the 52-year-old lead singer of U2, preach.But preach he did.
Posted by Cathleen Falsani 27 weeks 1 day ago
Back home in California, we recently purchased one of those one-cup-at-a-time Kuerig coffee makers after running through two high-end traditional coffee machines in 18 months. (Two writers in one house equals a high rate of coffee consumption.) While I think it was the proper choice for us – we waste less coffee this way, and have bought one of those reusable pods so that we’re not always using recyclable-but-still-plastic-and-not-terribly-ethical disposable pods pre-filled with the coffee of our choice.I brought home a pound or so of ground coffee from Ethiopia and we’ve tried to get the amount of grounds and water pressure just right to replicate the drink I’d had in Africa.Nothing doing.Ethiopian coffee ceremony a la Keurig is too fast, too easy, and much too weak in myriad ways. In coffee ceremonies back in Africa, the beans were ground by hand with a mortar and pestle. They’d be uneven. Chunky. When steeped, the coffee needed to be sieved over and over to make the final product perfectly potable. It took time, patience, and a practiced hand. It also required a different kind of regard for the act itself: the woman preparing the coffee wasn't simply making a drink. She was presiding over something humble and holy.Even if I could replicate the grounds (I do have a Le Creuset mortar and pestle that mostly serves as decoration on my kitchen window sill), and sieved the elixir until it was just right, it still wouldn’t be.Why? No frankincense and all the sacred intention that comes with it.
Posted by Cathleen Falsani 27 weeks 5 days ago
By the time President Obama walked off the stage at Chicago’s McCormick Place after delivering his acceptance speech early Wednesday morning, pundits already were screaming HERE COMES THE FISCAL CLIFF!And while it might have been a nice idea to take a collective breath after such a divisive election season before new screeching began, the pundits were not wrong.Be warned: The Fiscal Cliff approaches. On Jan. 2, 2013, to be exact.Now, I am many things, but an economist (or even a person remotely comfortable with numbers) is not one of them. So let me explain to those of you who are like me, in the simplest terms possible, what this proverbial cliff is all about.In the wake of the debt ceiling crisis last summer, Congress and President Obama agreed to enter into negotiations to enact a 10-year deficit reduction package in excess of $1.2 trillion.If an agreement could not be reached, a mandatory, across-the-board reduction in spending (also known as “sequester” or “sequestration”) would occur. All discretionary and entitlement spending -- with a few exceptions -- would be subject to sequestration....Under sequestration, the U.S. foreign aid that has made such a tremendous difference in Ethiopia and in the lives of countless millions of desperately poor Africans (and others) is in grave jeopardy.
Posted by Cathleen Falsani 28 weeks 1 day ago
From the Man in Black to the Beastie Boys and everything in between -- we give you a little compilation of video salve to help you get through election night.
Posted by Cathleen Falsani 29 weeks 2 days ago
For our brothers and sisters on the East Coast, in the path of the storm they call "Sandy," I've put together a little music for you to help pass the time. Sending you prayers of protection, peace, and grace (and, I hope, more than a bit of musical joy and solace) from the shores of the Pacific here in California at the SoJo West office.Inside the blog, there are 30 videos. For those of you with power (and an Internet connection), I hope it helps pass the time and maybe even gets you to get up and dance a little in your living rooms.Here's the song and video the playlist begins with: "No Storms Come" by our Sojo friends, The Innocence Mission:
Posted by Cathleen Falsani 29 weeks 6 days ago
God Girl's New Favorite Thing for Oct. 25, 2012: Two Irish boys cover Rihanna's "We Found Love (in a Hopeless Place)" who are these talented young lads?UPDATE: WE FOUND 'EM!More info from the singer's father inside the blog...
Posted by Cathleen Falsani 30 weeks 1 day ago
LALIBELA, Ethiopia -- You know the images you have in your mind of Ethiopia from 27 years ago? The ones from the nightly news reports on TV about the famine in the Horn of Africa as the death toll mounted and horror stories grew more unfathomable by the day.Scorched, cracked earth. The carcasses of ematiated, dead cattle lying in the baking sun. Hundreds of thousands of stick-thin refugees wandering in the dust, hoping to have enogh strength to make it to a camp that might have water and food. The babies and children with orange hair and distended stomachs -- indications that they were in the advanced stages of malnutrition and starvation.I am happy to report that the Ethiopia of 2012 is not the Ethiopia of 1985.Thanks to global efforts (Live Aid, etc., back in the day), foreign aid, and the very real efforts of the Ethiopian government and people themselves, the land I saw earlier this month looks nothing like those old images in my mind. In fact, parts of the country that we traveled through were so verdent and lush -- farmlands rolling out in various shades of green like a St. Patrick's Day quilt -- that if you'd blindfolded me when I got on the plane and taken the blind of when I stepped of the bus in the rural area outside Bahir Dar near the Sudanese border, I might have thought I was in Ireland's County Kerry rather than Ethiopia's Amhara Region.Ethiopia is beautiful. In every way. It's people. It's resilience. It's ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit. In the way it cares for its land and its people, and the way they care for each other and their visitors. There is a spirit in Ethiopia I've experienced only rarely elsewhere. In a word I'd call it HOPE. But it's a hope not based on daydreams and fairytales. It's a hope based in hard work, smart planning, and forward thinking.
Posted by Cathleen Falsani 30 weeks 1 day ago
In an OpEd that appeared on POLITICO Monday, Mike Huckabee, the former Republican governor of Arkansas, and Blanche Lincoln, the former Democratic senator from Arkansas -- who together co-chair ONE Vote 2012, a non-partisan campaign to make global health and extreme poverty foreign policy priorities in the 2012 presidential election, wrote about the importance of maintaining U.S. foreign aid to the developing world that has helped make significant improvements in the health and sustainability of myriad nations, including many on the continent of Africa.They wrote, in part:It might come as a surprise to learn that less than one percent of the U.S. budget is spent on foreign assistance. It might even be shocking to discover that, despite this relatively small amount, these funds are literally saving millions of lives and improving the lives of many more millions of people. For example, American investments in cost-effective vaccines will help save nearly 4 million children’s lives from preventable diseases such as pneumonia and diarrhea over the next five years. We’ve also helped to deliver 290 million mosquito nets to Malaria-stricken countries, and put 46 million children in school for the very first time. And thanks to the leadership of Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, 8 million HIV/AIDS patients now have access to life-saving treatments, up from just 300,000 a decade ago, making an AIDS-free generation a real possibility within our lifetimes.
Posted by Cathleen Falsani 30 weeks 1 day ago
More American Catholics believe their religious leaders should be focused on issues related to poverty and social justice during this election season, rather than spending time and energy on other issues such as abortion, according to a new survey released this week by the Public Religion Research Institute.The results of the 2012 American Values Survey demonstrate that American Catcholics -- and the "Catholic vote" -- is far from the monolith some politicians might like to believe they are."The survey confirms that there is no such thing as the 'Catholic vote,'" Robert P. Jones, CEO of PPRI and co-author of the report, told Reuters. "There are a number of critical divisions among Catholics, including an important divide between 'social justice' and "right to life' Catholics."For instance, on the question of the public engagement of the church, the 2012 American Values Survey found important divisions between Catholics who prefer a “social justice” emphasis that focuses on helping the poor and Catholics who prefer a “right to life” emphasis that focuses on issues such as abortion.
Posted by Cathleen Falsani 31 weeks 8 hours ago
LAKE TANA, Ethiopia — Spirituality imbues every corner of Ethiopian culture, from its music and dance, to its artwork and even its unrivaled rich-as-the-earth coffee. Home to one of the oldest Christian communities in the world (having adopted Christianity as its official state religion in the 4th century), the sites and sounds of Christendom were ubiquitous wherever we traveled in country this month. Art and iconography — both ancient and modern — from Ethiopian Orthodoxy (also known as Tawahedo or "being made one" in the Ge'ez language that remains the official language of the Orthodox liturgy here) were ever-present — in shops, restaurants, and hotel lobbies as well as in the myriad churches and monasteries, and the sounds of ancient Christian prayers and the chants of monks filled the air from the capital city of Addis Ababa to the kebeles (or neighborhoods) on the outskirts of Bahir Dar, another major city about 60 km from the Sudanese border.
Posted by Cathleen Falsani 31 weeks 5 days ago
God Girl's New Favorite Thing for Oct. 12, 2012:Ethiopian Pop StarTeddy AfroADDIS ABABA — Pretty much everywhere we've gone in Ethiopia this week, we've heard Teddy Afro's voice.The 36-year-old Ethiopian singer whose given name is Tewodros Kassahun or ቴዎድሮስ ካሳሁን in Amharic, the national language of Ethiopia, is sometimes referred to as the "Michael Jackson of Ethiopia." But, to my ear at least, he's more the equivalent of, say, Ethiopia's Usher (if he were more political, that is.)Afro's debut album, 2001's Abugida, spawned several hit singles, including "Halie Selassie" (his tribute to the late Emperor of Ethiopia Haile Selassie I), and "Haile, Haile," which honored Ethiopian Olympic runner Haile Gebrselassie.
Posted by Cathleen Falsani 31 weeks 6 days ago
BAHIR DAR, Ethiopia — When I posted this photograph of a beautiful little Ethiopian girl holding a daisy a few days ago, my friend and fellow God's Politics blogger Christian Piatt responded on Twitter with a four-word comment:"The Face of God."Christian's remark stopped me in my tracks ... because it's absolutely true.
Posted by Cathleen Falsani 32 weeks 1 day ago
Speak out for those who cannot speak,for the rights of all the destitute. Speak out, judge righteously,defend the rights of the poor and needy.~ Proverbs 31:8-9ADDIS ABABA — These words of King Solomon have been running through my mind since our ONE Moms delegation — 13 mothers from the United States, the United Kingdom, and France — arrived in the Ethiopian capital on Sunday.I hear these verses as a clarion call to action. As someone who strives humbly to follow the Way of Jesus and be involved in The Work that God is doing in the world, I want to respond and do what these verses command.And as a believer who also happens to be a mother (a fairly novice one, still learning the ropes, if you will), I must do.Sunday afternoon, after us ONE Moms dropped our luggage at the hotel, piled into our chartered bus, and drove to the outskirts of the city to the Mary Joy Aid Through Development Association, we met our Ethiopian sisters who are speaking out for those who cannot; who are advocating on behalf of the destitute, judging with righteous wisdom, and defending the rights of the poor and the needy.
Posted by Cathleen Falsani 32 weeks 4 days ago
In 2007, I boarded a plane bound for Africa for the first time.That trip took me to Kenya, Tanzania, the island of Zanzibar, and Malawi.And that trip changed me — heart, mind, soul — forever transforming my family and my world.Today, five years almost to the day since I flew to Nairobi to begin my first African adventure, I'm sitting in the international terminal of Dulles airport in Washington, D.C., waiting to board a 787 Dreamliner bound for Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.An adventure lies ahead. And yet, so much more than that.I've been to Africa twice now (this is my third visit to continent), and each time the people I've met and experiences I've had on the journey — all of it dripping with a grace so palpable I could almost smell it like so much sandalwood smoke wafting from an incenser — have shaped me and recalibrated my spirit.I don't know specifically what Ethiopia has in store for me, but I am sure of one thing: The Spirit will be there.
Posted by Cathleen Falsani 33 weeks 2 days ago
Maybe you've heard the buzz...On Sunday, Sojourners' CEO Jim Wallis appeared on WABC-TV's Up Close news program in New York City to debate Pamela Geller of the Freedom Defense Initiative and Stop Islamization of America, who put up ads in NYC subway stations that read, "In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad."Like many other folks of good faith, we at Sojourners were horrified by the blatantly hate-filled ads. We decided to do something to counter hate and fear with love and affirmation for our Muslim brothers and sisters. Last week, we began raising funds to purchase our own ad campaign in NYC subways with a simple message: "Love your Muslim neighbors."Their debate got lively.See for yourself inside the blog ...
Posted by Cathleen Falsani 33 weeks 6 days ago
God Girl's New Favorite Thing for Sept. 27, 2012: Northern Ireland's Rend Collective ExperimentI love music. I love Jesus. And I love all things Irish.So when a friend introduced me to Rend Collective Experiment last year, chances were pretty good that I'd vibe with this band from the North of Ireland (Bangor, to be specific.)But ... and this was a BIG but ... my musical proclivities, while decidedly ecclectic, generally steer clear of contemporary Christian worship music (especially if it's billed as such.) When it comes to having a musical worship experience, give me Chris Martin and his bandmates, or those other four greying boyos from a little farther south in the Republic of Ireland.Without putting too fine a point on it, Rend Collective are very much a contemporary Christian worship band. But they aren't what you're thinking.Neither painfully earnest nor woefully twee. They're fun and funky — earthy, too, in a grab-your-banjo-and-trilby-hat kind of a way.
Posted by Cathleen Falsani 33 weeks 6 days ago
"High nigh br-eye-n, K-eye"? Come again? Rend Collective and Bart Millard (of the band MercyMe) give us a lesson in how to speak Northern Irish.http://youtu.be/-S9R6CspOvs
Posted by Cathleen Falsani 36 weeks 1 day ago
Eleven songs in memory of 9/11 from Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, Suzanne Vega, Moby and Sinead O'Connor, Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris, Leonard Cohen, Tori Amos, John Hiatt, U2, and Hunter Parrish (from 2012's Broadway revival of "Godspell").
Posted by Cathleen Falsani 37 weeks 5 days ago
New music from Ry Cooder, Bob Dylan, The Avett Brothers, Dave Matthews Band, Kathy Mattea, and David Byrne & St. Vincent.
Posted by Cathleen Falsani 39 weeks 5 days ago
New music from Rufus Wainwright, World Party, Beth Orton, Glen Hansard, Alanis Morissette, and the wonderful new Anglo-Ugandan singer songwriter Michael Kiwanuka.
Posted by Cathleen Falsani 40 weeks 5 days ago
New music from :Mary Chapin Carpenter (with James Taylor), Sixpence None the Richer, Matisyahu, Old Crow Medicine Show, The Avett Brothers, and Band of Horses.
Posted by Cathleen Falsani 41 weeks 17 hours ago
Rarely — frankly never before, if my memory is correct — have I literally burst into tears upon hearing a song for the first time. But that is exactly what happened when I listened to Mumford & Sons' new single, "I Will Wait," this morning.This summer has been a difficult season for my family of origin. My parents are getting older and facing physical challenges that are testing all of our resolve and the core of our spirits. I've been away from my own family in California for a month — the longest I've ever been apart from my son. And it has been ... the word "hard" doesn't quite capture the feeling. Soul wrenching is closer.In the midst of a roiling sea of emotions, I'm clinging to faith like a life raft, while at the same time wondering desperately what God's up to in all of this tsouris, as my rabbi friend might say.Perhaps that's why "I Will Wait" put a lump in my throat and filled my weary eyes with hot tears. The author Frederick Buechner says that we should pay careful attention to the things that bring about such reactions, because they are signs that the holy is drawing nigh.
Posted by Cathleen Falsani 41 weeks 6 days ago
Dozens of Muslim women are competing at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London — several of them as the very first female athletes chosen (and allowed) to represent their countries in the Olympic games.These women are vanguards, shattering stereotypes, subverting cultural-religious mores, and creating a legacy that will benefit female Olympians of all creeds for years to come.As has been widely reported and celebrated (in many quarters), Saudi Arabia sent two women athletes to represent the Arabic nation for the first time at the Olympic games — 16-year-old judoka (judo competitor) Wodjan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani and 800-meter runner Sarah Attar, 19.Attar, who is a California-born American but holds dual-citizenship in the Arabian kingdom because her father is Saudi, trains in San Diego, not far from Pepperdine University where she is a junior art major and also runs on the university's track team.Shahrkhani, whose father is a judo coach and an international referee in the sport, won a dispute with Olympics officials earlier this week to be allowed to compete while wearing her hijab or traditional head covering worn by many observant Muslim women.Saudi Arabia is not the only majority Muslim country sending its first women competitors to the Olympics. Brunei and Qatar also followed suit, sending five female athletes in total. Runner Maziah Mahusin is the lone woman on Brunei's three-person Olympic team. Qatar's four women Olympians are swimmer Nada Mohammed WS Arakji, sprinter Noor Hussain Al-Malki, table tennis player Aia Mohamed, and air rifle competitor Bahia Al-Hamad.Both Mahusin and Al-Hamad were chosen as flag bearers for their nations at the opening ceremonies in London last week. Twelve majority Muslim countries — Tajikistan, Qatar, Morocco, Indonesia, Turkey, Jordan, Iraq, Djibouti, Comoros, Brunei, Bahrain, and Albania — chose women as flag bearers at the opening ceremonies that were viewed by an estimated 1 billion people worldwide.
Posted by Cathleen Falsani 43 weeks 3 days ago
I liked this film so much I've already seen it twice. Moonrise Kingdom is so good, in fact, I almost couldn't bring myself to write about it for fear of not doing it justice.And yet, since I first took my 11-year-old nephew, Ethan, to see it last month, I've been talking about Moonrise Kingdom nonstop, encouraging everyone I know to go see it. It has captured my imagination completely, an absolute tour de force — wholly original and an "instant classic," as I heard one film critic utter tell a companion on his way out of the theater.Perhaps Ethan, a mythology buff who's never met a fantasy film he didn't like, put it most eloquently when he said (surprising no one more than himself), "That was the best film I've ever seen."Moonrise Kingdom is director Wes Anderson's seventh feature-length film to date. In an iconoclastic cinematic oeuvre unrivaled among filmmakers of his generation, Anderson's latest stands above the rest of his stellar films — Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, The Royal Tennenbaums, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Fantastic Mr. Fox and Darjeeling Limited — as an eloquent, funny, enduringly poignant homage to childhood and, moreover, to innocence.In a word, the film is perfect. I wouldn't change a thing.
Posted by Cathleen Falsani 44 weeks 2 days ago
So, you've seen Politicians Who Look Like Disney Characters.Maybe you've perused Celebrities Who Look Like Historical People and already wasted some time checking out Cats That Look Like Hitler, Men Who Look Like Kenny Rogers or Pugs That Look Like Things. Today it's our great pleasure to bring you 16 Christian Leaders and Their Cartoon Counterparts, including our buddy Brian McLaren (over there with Turtleman from Finding Nemo), Rick Warren, Rachel Held Evans, Mark Driscoll, John Piper, Rob Bell, God's Politics contributor Shane Claiborne, Pope Benedict XVI, our very own Sojourners Chief Executive Awesomeness Jim Wallis ... and many more.You're welcome.
Posted by Cathleen Falsani 45 weeks 5 days ago
Last year, Phil Wyman, pastor of The Gathering church in Salem, Mass., trekked across the country with five adventurous friends to Burning Man — a week-long event described by its attendees as "an experiment in community, art, radical self-expression, and radical self-reliance" in the Black Rock desert of Nevada.At the 2011 Burning Man, Wyman and his merry band of "crazy friends" built an art installation called "The Pillars of the Saints" — three meditation towers constructed of wood in the desert, asked people to sit on top of them, listen for a voice (presumably of the Holy), and write what they heard on the walls of the pillars.This year, Wyman (who you might recognize from photos at the Wild Goose Festival last month where he played the "Holy Fool" in a Sunday morning worship service), has invited more than 15 friends to join him in the Nevada desert at the end of August for Burning Man 2012 where the group plans to build another art installation — this one even more ambitious and whimsical than the last.Wyman & Co., have christened it "Theophony: The Mighty Interactive Faux Theremin." It involves an enormous, specially-built theremin placed at the center of a 32-foot canvas-and-wood yurt, with walls comprised of a series of 22 four-by-eight-foot murals with themes reflecting the "success and failures of spiritual pursuit.""The particpant will feel a sense of dissonance while trying to 'play' the theremin," in tune with the chants and ambient music piped through the yurt, Wyman explains. The idea of Theophony is "to illustrate that spiritual pursuit is a discipline, but that even the imperfect attempt is both holy and fun."
Posted by Cathleen Falsani 45 weeks 6 days ago
The first wave wrenched the board loose from my fingertips, sending it crashing into my knee and knocking me off my feet. “You OK, Cath?” I heard someone call from behind me. “Not really!” I hollered, as someone reached around me to steady the huge stand-up paddle board while I struggled to regain my footing in the icy-cold waters of the Pacific. My friends, experienced surfers Joel and Rob, appeared at my side, holding onto the board and gently coaching me to wait for the next set of waves to pass before attempting to paddle out toward Second Reef, several hundred yards beyond the shore break. “You got it?” Rob said, “OK. You’re good to go!” Gripping the long-handled paddle in one hand, I foisted myself forward (if with less grace than I had hoped) onto the board, while Joel pushed it forward into the momentarily glassy sea between sets.
Posted by Cathleen Falsani 46 weeks 6 days ago
1) Tune in. Log off. Let go.Darting fireflies supplied most of the light that pierced the rural darkness when I arrived at the Wild Goose Festival site on a farm in Shakori Hills, N.C., late last Wednesday night. I left my ballast — a huge duffel bag containing a pup tent and enough bug spray to cover a small village, a suitcase full of mostly tie-dyed clothing, a large computer case and a camera bag — in the 15-person van that had spirited me from the Raleigh-Durham airport to the farm about an hour away.While I’m not exactly known for packing light when I travel, my unusually cumbersome luggage for the festival contained the various gadgets and gizmos that would allow me to work from my campsite on the farm — live blogging about the festival, complete with video, audio and photos, and the help of four Sojourners interns who were set to arrive Thursday afternoon.I had barely stepped foot on the campground when I checked my smart phone to see if cell service and the festival’s WiFi were working. They were. Good, I thought. All set to work. It would be a hectic few days covering the festival’s numerous speakers and musical performances, but we’d get it done.Ah, hubris. Humans make plans. God chuckles and says, “Oh, really?”The Almighty, it would seem, had better ideas for how I should spend my time at Wild Goose, which takes its name from the Celtic metaphor for the Holy Spirit.
Posted by Cathleen Falsani 48 weeks 6 days ago
Looking for a last-minute gift for Fathers Day or a graduate?How about doing something for someone else in honor of your loved one?Give a gift that helps the poorest of the poor feed their families, earn a living, protect themselves from disease or educate their children.Inside the blog, find several suggestions of unique gifts that keep on giving.
Anne Lamott's Commencement Speech at U.C. Berkely: 'You Are Not Your Bank Account ... You Are Spirit.'
Posted by Cathleen Falsani 49 weeks 5 days ago
Author Anne Lamott, one of our favorite Jesus-loving subversives, recently delivered the undergraduate and interdisciplinary studies commencement address at the University of California at Berkeley.Lamott's funny, irreverent, and yes, profound, words of wisdom for the Berkeley graduates included the following, about what she thinks the "truth of their spiritual identity" might be:Actually, I don’t have a clue.I do know you are not what you look like, or how much you weigh, or how you did in school, and whether you get to start a job next Monday or not. Spirit isn’t what you do, it’s … well, again, I don’t actually know. They probably taught this junior year at Goucher. But I know that you feel it best when you’re not doing much — when you’re in nature, when you’ve very quiet, or, paradoxically, listening to music....
Posted by Cathleen Falsani 49 weeks 6 days ago
In the last two years, 17 women — journalists, photojournalists, novelists, poets and playwrights — were honored with a Pulitzer Prize for their work.We know from Sandi Villarreal's post, "10 Reasons Why I Don't Know What Century I'm In," what some folks' skewed mental image of what a woman journalist or writer is, so we thought we'd show you what a few of the REAL women of journalism and letters actually look like.Learn more about these accomplished real-life women of letters inside the blog.
Posted by Cathleen Falsani 50 weeks 19 hours ago
My eyes locked with those of the priest just as his right hand, gripping the aspergillum, went back (in a wind-up that would impress many baseball enthusiasts) and then forward, sending a shower of water across my face and torso.While I wiped water from the bridge of my nose, we both laughed and I could see the jolly Irish priest’s arm go back once again as he prepared to douse the people seated in the pew behind mine.So began the annual Blessing of the Artists in Laguna Beach, the sleepy seaside village where I live in southern California. Blessing the artists is a community tradition that goes back almost 15 years, begun at the behest of the artists themselves. The ritual is held the first week in June, in advance of the opening of the Sawdust Festival and the Festival of the Arts, art exhibitions held here each summer and populated largely by artists and artisans from the town itself.
Posted by Cathleen Falsani 50 weeks 6 days ago
Ah, the life of the church. So many arguments, so little time. The list of subjects about which the saints disagree is seemingly endless, encompassing both the profound and the woefully mundane. The ordination of women. The proper role of religion in politics. Climate change. Homosexuality and same-sex unions. Pre-, Post-, or A-millennialism. Biblical translation. Gender pronouns for God. How best to aid the poorest of the poor. How best to support the sanctity of marriage. Hell. Heaven. Baptism. Which brand of fair-trade coffee to serve in the fellowship hall. The use of “trespass/es” or “debts/debtors” in reciting the Lord’s Prayer. Whether to use wafers, pita, home-baked organic wheat, gluten-free or bagels at the communion table. What color to paint the narthex. It should come as no surprise to most Christians that the world outside the church looking in sees it rife with conflict, bickering, arguments and castigation — of the “unbeliever” and fellow believers alike. Frankly, it also should come as no surprise to the rest of the world that the church — by virtue of being a community of humans — naturally would have such disagreements and discord.
Posted by Cathleen Falsani 51 weeks 5 days ago
“If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him.” ~President John F. KennedyTwenty-five years after the release of Paul Simon's Graceland album, the singer-songwriter returned to South Africa to visit the musicians who worked with him on what many believe is his musical masterpiece. A new documentary film, Under African Skies, which premieres tonite (Friday, May 25) on A&E, chronicles Simon's journey and the role that music — and artists — may have played in bringing about the end of apartheid.This masterful film, which debuted earlier this year to wide acclaim at the Sundance film festival, makes a convincing argument for the important role that artists play in changing the world for the better.
Posted by Cathleen Falsani 1 year 2 days ago
In a room filled with African heads of state, captains of industry, leaders of international development and countless executives from NGOs at the G8 Symposium on Global Agriculture and Food Security in Washington, D.C. late last week, stood one Irish rock star — Bono, the lead singer of U2 and co-founder of the ONE Campaign.At first blush (to the uninitiated, perhaps), Bono's presence might seem incongruous, but most of the folks in the room at the Ronald Reagan building a few blocks down Pennsylvania Avenue know the Irishman more for his tireless humanitarian efforts than his closet full of Grammy awards. For more than 25 years, Bono, 52, has been involved deeply and effectively in international affairs as a champion for the poorest of the poor."Can we manage the oil as well as the farmland? Manage it properly, responsibly, transparently?" Bono asked the audience. "Because when we don’t, you know what happens. Hundreds of billions of dollars got lost to oil and gas corruption in Nigeria. That’s what the watchdog groups are telling us. Just mind blowing. Huge numbers."Crops need sunlight. So does resource extraction. Both need sunlight’s disinfecting glare. Isn’t transparency the vaccine to prevent the worst disease of them all? Corruption. Everybody here knows that corruption kills more children than HIV/AIDS and malaria combined. So that’s what I want to leave you with. That very simple word. That very simple concept. Easy to say. Much harder to realize, especially in law. The word 'transparency.'"We won’t have food security without it," he said. "But we will have oil riches without it but those riches will be held and hidden by very few hands."
Posted by Cathleen Falsani 1 year 1 week ago
“My mother... she is beautiful, softened at the edges and tempered with a spine of steel. I want to grow old and be like her.” ~ Jodi Picoult When asked to describe my mother, Helen, my usual answer is: Queen Esther in espadrilles and a matching purse.Esther comes to mind when I think of Mom because she was fiercely loyal, smart, determined, brave and deeply faithful. The sartorial descriptors capture my mother’s somewhat less spiritual side – always put together with a classic sense of style (although these days she leans more toward head-to-toe matching ensembles from Chicos and alligator flats, now that her penchant for wearing pointy-toed heels in the ‘60s and ‘70s have caught up with her poor feet.)Mom has impeccable style and staggering grace, particularly in the midst of trials and tribulations. She is flinty (think Katharine Hepburn) and has an abiding, deep-in-her-DNA faith [think St. Therese of Liseux.]Helen is a force with which to be reckoned and woe to you who would make the mistake of messing with anyone she loves.
Posted by Cathleen Falsani 1 year 1 week ago
You might not be a fan of Justin Bieber, but I'm willing to bet there's at least one young person in your life who is.And while it may be hard for us adults to believe, young Bieber, the Canadian pop superstar, has brought the Gospel -- of social justice and otherwise -- to millions of fans (who call themselves "Beliebers") around the globe.Today -- just in time for Mother's Day -- Bieber, 18, released the new single "Turn to You" from his forthcoming album BELIEVE. It's a love song -- a tribute to his mother, Pattie Mallette, who gave birth to her only child when she was just 17 years old. Both Bieber and Mallette are devoted Christians (evangelicals, in fact) and neither is shy about speaking about their faith publicly.“God is the one that is orchestrating all of this and giving [Justin] such incredible favor,” Mallette said in an interview with the Hollywood Prayer Network last year. “And he knows that it’s for a purpose and a plan. And he’s not sure what all that entails yet and how he fits into that, but he knows that it’s by God’s hand.”Listen to the new song inside the blog ...