Image via Forsaken Fotos/Flickr.com

The most religious states — a comparison based on questions like church attendance, identity, and prayer frequency — more often than not coincide with the poorest states, the states with lowest life expectancy, and the states where it is most dangerous to be LGBTQ and/or a person of color.

 

Image via Bartleby/Flickr.

As writer, activist and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel noted, “Hope is like peace. It is not a gift from God. It is a gift only we can give one another.”

Alex Awad 7-20-2017

A Palestinian resident of Aida Refugee Camp gives Mennonite Church USA leaders a tour of the Israeli separation wall that divides the West Bank town of Bethlehem. Photo by Ryan Rodrick Beiler/MCC

Early this month, the Mennonite Church USA succeeded overwhelmingly in passing a resolution in support of peace and justice in Israel/Palestine — and it was no easy feat. As an eyewitness and active participant to the activities leading up to this landslide vote, I can tell you the road there was tough, agonizing, and expensive.

Joe Kay 7-19-2017

Self-care is important. If we lose our enthusiasm and start going through the motions, we’re not much good to anyone — including ourselves. Our love is diminished when we lose our sense of connectedness to the source of love, awe, and wonder. Our lives are diminished, too.

Art and Christianity give our lives import and meaning, irrespective of power, race, gender or class. Jesus did this when he overturned the Greek and Roman way of viewing the world, in which one’s social status was everything, and introduced the notion of the equal worth and dignity of all human beings. “Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all (Col. 3:11),” wrote Paul. All people made in the image and likeness of God, “lovely in limbs."

Michael Mershon 7-19-2017

Health care activists protest to stop the Republican health care bill at Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill, July 17, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
 

As people of faith who believe that concern for the health of our fellow children of God is mandated by our Savior Jesus (“I was sick and you took care of me” – Matthew 25:36) this is a time to give thanks to God. We are grateful that wisdom and compassion have, at least temporarily, triumphed over cynicism and greed.

Kaitlin Curtice 7-18-2017

We live in a world full of extremists. It is not just in American society that the battle between extreme beliefs on either end of the spectrum is happening constantly in our political, social, and religious circles. Violence, hate crimes, and acts of oppression erupt all over the world, and through the news and social media, we are witnesses to the distress calls of the people who are caught in the middle of these battles

Sammi Sluder 7-17-2017

Image via Eva Blue/ Flickr

Gay is a true prophetic voice. She laments her life, her trauma, and her weight. She doesn’t promise victory but speaks to the pain that so many people feel: victims and survivors of sexual violence, bisexual people, fat people, and lonely people.

Image via Rena Schild/ Shutterstock

What we’ve learned three years after Eric Garner’s death is that we can’t give up on God’s mandate for justice, incarnated in the gospel’s good news. If we trust and believe that selfish agendas of special interests will not prevail, we are compelled instead to believe that love will conquer hate.

Jim Keat 7-17-2017

As Wendell Berry reminds us, “There are no unsacred places; there are only sacred places and desecrated places.” The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it. Jacob’s story reminds us that it is not God who changes, suddenly appearing when previously absent, but it is Jacob who wakes up to a new awareness of where God is.

Dhanya Addanki 7-14-2017

Image via Dhanya Addanki/ Sojourners 

Help them understand they have a voice.

Elizabeth Brandt, a mom and a participant of the play-in, takes her young daughters to her senators’ office. She believes she believes this will lay a foundation for her daughter to speak up throughout her life.

“She may not have the most articulate things to say — last year when she was three she asked them not to throw trash in the ocean which our senators don’t do — but she’s learning that she has a voice in this process and that’s about the most important thing,” said Brandt.

Ryan Galloway 7-14-2017

Image via Reuters/Jeff Mason.

A Christianity that would vote for its own defense over the defense of those coming from war-torn countries, or the most in need among us, does not abide by the commands of its true champion — Jesus Christ.

This week Rev. Teresa Hord Owens was elected General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), becoming the first African-American woman installed as head of a denomination (although there have been moderators like Belva Brown Jordan, leading pastors, and bishops of other denominations over the decades).

Much can and should be made of the firsts represented by her election.

Avery Davis 7-13-2017

We will need both lament and hope to cope with the existential crisis of climate change. Go read New York Magazine writer David Wallace-Well’s piece for your dose of lament. Then read the stories below for a briefing on where to look for hope.

Abby Olcese 7-12-2017

Image via The Big Sick trailer 

But really, the best performance in the film belongs to Nanjiani —no surprise, since it’s partly his own story. The affection he feels for his parents makes him afraid to upset them, but to really come into his own as a person, and as a comedian, he has to be honest with them about what he wants for his life.

John Carr 7-12-2017

Health care activists with Planned Parenthood and the Center for American Progress protest in opposition to the Senate Republican healthcare bill on Capitol Hill, June 28, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
 

As Congress returns and as leaders of the Senate and House continue their desperate search for ways to pass their health and budget proposals, I have one simple question for those whose votes will decide these matters: Is this really why you came to Washington, to take health care from the sick and food from the hungry?

Jazmine Steele 7-12-2017

America as a largely Christian nation is under scrutiny for its values and integrity. It’s an interesting time to be a person committed to faith in action. How does Christian faith inspire a response to these chaotic times? 

Kaitlin Curtice 7-12-2017

It is a scary thing to let the ones who have been at the bottom rise to the top.
It’s scary when privilege begins to lose.
It’s scary when those that have been “other” for so long get a place at the table.
It’s scary when things get uncomfortable and messy.

But then, that’s Kingdom.

Sam Codington 7-11-2017

If we have learned anything from the past several decades, healing from a 500-year heritage of slavery will take more than a generation or two. I am humbled when I think of this because I realize that the relentless, demonic agony inflicted for 500 years will not be undone or healed by a single generation. My body will have flitted through the breeze as dust many times over once this 500-year heritage has been unwound and restitched. Healing takes more than just time.

Image via RNS/Carlo Allegri/Reuters

In the midst of a raging discussion about what it means to be American, it is worthwhile to reflect on the profound ambivalence of American civil religion — perhaps the most powerful force for creating a shared national identity.

In 1967, Robert N. Bellah’s seminal essay, “Civil Religion in America,” created a template for how both the right and the left defined civil religion to cultivate a sense of belonging, particularly in an era of turbulence. During this period of increasing polarization, Bellah’s words are more relevant than ever.

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