Juliet Vedral 9-21-2022

AppleTV+, 'Gutsy'

Gutsy introduces us to dozens of trailblazing women who are living lives of justice, truth, love, leadership, humor, and reconciliation. The show, produced and hosted by Hillary and her daughter Chelsea Clinton, while not explicitly “faith-based,” is rich with examples of women cultivating the common good. In a recent interview, Chelsea Clinton told me that there are as many ways to be gutsy “as there are women in all of our lives.”

On Sept. 8, participants say goodbye during the closing prayer service of the 11th Assembly of the World Council of Churches, held in Karlsruhe, Germany. Photo: Paul Jeffrey/WCC

The WCC convenes an assembly only once every eight years. The agenda always includes electing a new, 150-member Central Committee, approving reports and making formal statements on pressing international issues. But that’s not at the heart of what happened in Karlsruhe, nor has it been in the four previous WCC Assemblies I’ve attended.

Lauren W. Reliford 9-15-2022

Photo illustration of a person calling 988, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. Mitchell Atencio/Sojourners

If you or a loved one have been impacted by suicide or self-harm, there is nothing to be ashamed of. Scripture teaches us that when one person suffers, we all suffer. Yet if you are in a place of active suicidal ideation, or having self-harming thoughts, it can feel like you have been completely swallowed by the dark; it’s a lonely and terrifying place. But here is the truth: You are wanted on this earth.

Image: Shelves of theology books.

We are students of theology. One of us (Amar) has just recently graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary. The other one of us (Yanan) is currently in his first year at Princeton Theological Seminary. Bringing our perspectives together, we hope to offer advice for seminarians from two sides — beginning and end — of the degree program.

Photo by Misael Moreno on Unsplash

Because being Catholic was not the norm in my community, I was often teased about our non-contemporary music and the liturgy, and I was accused of worshiping Mary. Mostly, I was told over and over again that I wasn’t a Christian. The latter happened all the way through college. I was so boggled by this because I knew I had what the Baptists liked to call a personal relationship with God. Yet I was told by children and adults alike that it wasn’t valid if it didn’t fit their formula.

Jenna Barnett 9-12-2022

Silhouettes of flying geese at soft colored sky. Photo: olandsfokus / Alamy

Mary Oliver often explored big existential questions with the unlikeliest of philosophical partners: moss, roses, geese, dogs, waves. They all had interesting things to say to her. In a 2015 interview with Krista Tippett, Oliver explained that there is nothing more interesting to her than spirituality. “So I cling to it,” she said. “I have no answers, but have some suggestions.” Her poems are riddled with those suggestions. Here are some of my favorites

Hannah Spiro 9-12-2022

U.S. President Joe Biden hands his signing pen to U.S. Senator Joe Manchin III (D.-W.va.) as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and U.S. House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D.-S.C.) look on immediately after Biden signed “The Inflation Reduction Act” of 2022 into law during a ceremony in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, U.S. August 16, 2022. Credit: Reuters via Leah Millis.

The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) does not go nearly far enough to fight the root cause of climate change. These are the root causes of the global climate crisis that policy needs to address: The greenhouse gas pollution that comes from burning fossil fuels for energy and transportation, unsustainable agriculture, toxic waste, and climate-altering industrial practices. Biden must use his executive authority to address the shortcomings of the IRA and act swiftly and decisively to protect the Earth.

A row of yellow school buses parked behind a chain link fence.

School buses parked in a row. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

This Tuesday marked back to school day for my two boys, who are entering fourth and sixth grade at an Episcopal school that welcomes students of all faiths. The annual rite — which for our family always seems to involve the Mission: Impossible-style task, led by my wife, of getting all the right books and school supplies in time — left me with mixed feelings, which I suspect many fellow parents share. On one hand, I am excited for all the new school year offers my kids: new teachers, new friends, a new season of athletics, and all the other extracurricular activities that bring my kids so much joy. On the other, I feel the weight of a mounting crisis in our nation’s education system, especially in public schools, where the pandemic revealed such deep and long-standing racial inequities.

JR. Forasteros 9-01-2022

“The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” via Amazon Studios.

The stories we tell ourselves matter, even if you’re an immortal elf. The first season of Rings of Power, Amazon Studios’ new 8-episode prequel to The Lord of the Rings, opens with the scene of a young Galadriel, the Elvish royalty who will refuse Frodo’s offer to wield the One Ring thousands of years in the future.

Jim Rice 9-01-2022

An Amazon Labour Union organizer greets workers outside Amazon’s LDJ5 sortation center, as employees begin voting to unionize a second warehouse in the Staten Island borough of New York City on April 25, 2022. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Why the recent surge in union activity? The nationwide shortage of workers is one factor, to be sure, as is the COVID pandemic. But another contagion might be even more important: Hope. “You see it most clearly with the Starbucks campaign where they won those initial two victories, and it was like a switch going off for people: ‘We can do this!’” labor attorney Alex van Schaick told Sojourners. “There was a contagion effect, in a positive sense. Hope is contagious — I think that’s really true.”

Lauren W. Reliford 9-01-2022
Women wearing hijabs walk with young girls wearing gray school uniforms past a mural depicting a smiling globe and hearts.

Palestinian women and their children walk to school on the first day of the new school year in the southern Gaza Strip. Photo by Yousef Masoud / SOPA Images/Sipa USA

I was amazed at the grassroots leaders, mainly women, working to deliver that desperately needed good news to their communities. Their witness was particularly poignant given the patriarchal context in which they worked. Many of the government officials we met with were men who seemed focused on who would get what in the region’s future; the women we met were empowering people in their communities to create change.

Abby Olcese 8-29-2022

Nathan Fielder in ‘The Rehearsal,’ HBO 

As it turns out, the person who needed The Rehearsal most was Fielder himself. His interaction with Angela in the finale reveals that the whole enterprise is actually an exploration of the inevitable pain humans cause others, even when we’re not trying to, and our need for grace and self-forgiveness.

Amar D. Peterman 8-26-2022

Demonstrators gather outside the supreme court as the justices hear oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization. Credit: Allison Bailey via Reuters Connect.

Today, Christians are continuing to pursue their political interests while imagining that God is fighting on their side. In the wake of the Court overturning Roe v. Wade, many conservative Christian leaders celebrated the decision as bringing about God’s kingdom on earth. On the other side of the pew, progressive Christians lamented the decision because of the devastating implications it holds for human rights both now and in the future. This leads me back to the question I asked myself in the wake of the Supreme Court rejecting Trump’s bid to eliminate DACA: Is God in control of the Court?

Matt Bernico 8-19-2022

Cartoon of hands reaching for cash. Credit: Igor Sarozhkov / Alamy via Reuters.

Overall, according to the Economic Policy Institute, it’s estimated that employers steal around $15 billion in wages from workers’ paychecks each year. However, an important caveat here is that $15 billion is only what is reported. Wage theft is likely even more widespread, with many cases going unreported.

Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) speaks with reporters after attending the signing ceremony of “The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022” at the White House in Washington, D.C., Aug. 16, 2022. REUTERS/Leah Millis

Three weeks ago, it seemed impossible that this Congress and this president would be able to get anything significant and lasting done to confront climate change. But this week, President Joe Biden signed major climate legislation — the Inflation Reduction Act — into law. It’s a bittersweet moment.

Greg Williams 8-17-2022

The outrages of celebrity culture have a material basis, with flashy sneakers and luxurious living, but Beaty’s analysis expands to include a deeper psychological and spiritual perspective on the problem.

Amanda Tyler 8-10-2022
An orange sign reading "Hate Has No Home Here" hangs in front of the statue of Civil War Confederate General Robert E. Lee,

A sign reading "Hate Has No Home Here" hangs by the statue of Civil War Confederate General Robert E. Lee, ahead of the one year anniversary of 2017 "Unite the Right" protests, in Charlottesville, Va. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

The tiki-torch-wielding marchers who shouted, “Jews will not replace us!” were an extreme manifestation of white Christian nationalism, a political ideology that implies one must be a Christian to be a “true” American and that the growing presences of non-whites and non-Christians are a threat to “traditional” values. People who espouse this ideology believe “real” Americans are Christians who have a specific policy perspective; they feel the need to “take back” their country from those who they believe threaten it.

Olivia Bardo 8-09-2022

'Marcel the Shell With Shoes On,' A24 

I went to the theater alone, feeling small and bereft. At the urging of a friend, I went to see Marcel the Shell With Shoes On. I felt my smallness increase as the theater darkened. Then suddenly, there was Marcel, a one-inch-tall shell, blinking back at me. Marcel is soft-spoken, inquisitive, and wears pink shoes.

Mitchell Atencio 8-04-2022

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) walks off the field during training camp at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus in Berea, Ohio, on July 28, 2022. Ken Blaze/USA TODAY Sports via Reuters.

The question, for all of us, is what do abusers gain by offering vague apologies? What are they trying to achieve? The men and their supporters are attempting to weaponize a Christian culture of unending forgiveness. While forgiveness is indeed a virtue, it should never come at the expense of those harmed. [John] Crist and [Deshaun] Watson (and their colleagues) refuse to properly repent, apologize, or seek to repair the harm they are accused of. Instead, they ask their victims — and us — to move on.

Avery Davis Lamb 8-03-2022

 A fern turning from a fiddlehead to a frond. Photo: Dawna Moore / Alamy

Despair blossomed in me; my fears of what my life and the lives of future generations could become seem to be coming true. I take my bouquet of despair to the only place big enough to embrace it: the body of Creation. I set it before the altar of the water and soil.