5-02-2019

Screenshot: CW

As the U.S. Catholic Church discerns how to move forward amidst scandals, the CW’s Jane the Virgin provides a glimpse of what might be in store.

5-01-2019

In light of Attorney General Barr's egregious testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 1, we must use a moral lens to see clearly what is happening with our government.

Image via Avengers on Facebook

The first line of Avengers: Endgame is “Do you know where you’re going?” And the story that follows, the final chapter of a saga 11 years in the making, is an attempt by the deeply flawed, deeply human protagonists at wrestling with that question — what is our path, do we know it, and can we change it?

Gareth Higgins 5-01-2019

Image via Avengers on Facebook

It’s rare for large-scale action movies to attempt to meaningfully show the aftermath of destruction; the human realities of both one individual family, and entire nations are conveyed in those opening minutes. It feels … truthful? Alas, after that, Avengers: Endgame spends almost three hours pivoting between giving the truth and avoiding it.

A damaged section of Notre-Dame Cathedral, a week after a massive fire devastated large parts of the gothic structure in Paris, France, April 23, 2019. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

During the most consequential ceremonial week in the Christian liturgical year, Holy Week, one of the most iconic Christian structures was reduced to an unholy sight. For hours, we could not look away as flames marching toward the sky swallowed an 800-year-old reminder of France’s Catholic story. A week after the world-jolting fire ravaged Notre Dame de Paris, the restoration fund now boasts more than $1 billion in pledges.

Jay Wamsted 4-29-2019

Image via Wikimedia Commons 

Many white Americans want racial reconciliation to be like Borges’s legend. Like my relative’s friend, they want race and racism to be “over.” They think that Black and indigenous populations should forget that we stole their land and their bodies, made ourselves rich off their goods and their labor. After all, most white people have forgotten these facts. Slavery and manifest destiny are in the past, they protest; the civil rights movement has guaranteed equality for all — it even led to a black president. Instead of listening and entering into dialogue — the true beginning of reconciliation — they square up in the kitchen and declare racism “an excuse.”

Kat Armas 4-26-2019

Via Shutterstock

All of us have witnessed the detrimental effects of mass production and consumption that Brueggemann talks about, not only in the anxiety that fills our daily lives, but in the destruction of the very earth that sustains us. Because of this, we understand that not only tending the earth, but connecting to nature around us can also be a form of resistance, similar to that of rest.

Angela Denker 4-25-2019

As I watch these dynamic leaders suffer for their brilliance and their courage — as I watch you suffer for your calling to ministry — I have to point out that this is not a story about individual women. It's not only about me or about you. We are confronting a cancer of bias, a perhaps at times unconscious reaction to #MeToo and Trump's presidency and female gains in graduate school and income and costs of childcare and impossible parenting standards and devaluation of teachers and an impossibly toxic yet superficial social media environment.
 

Jim Wallis 4-25-2019

The Mueller Report is pictured in New York, April 18, 2019. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

We’ve all seen the mountain of coverage and passionate political opinions on all sides in response to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s finally released — and heavily redacted — report. Without repeating all the coverage and commentary on the full report, here are my takeaways from a moral lens. The report proves that ... 

    Fran Quigley 4-24-2019

    via Shutterstock

    Tobeka Daki became one of 10 million people who die each year because they cannot afford the cost of medicines. Most medicines are inexpensive to make, and virtually all were discovered thanks to government investments. So, it is no exaggeration to say that the worldwide network of medicine monopolies, which give unchecked power to charge virtually any price on life-essential goods, were the cause of most of these deaths.

    When new people come to our Mennonite church in North Carolina, whether from other traditions or from no church background, I imagine they are stirred by our views on peace and violence. The strangest part of our religious life is not that we believe that dead people come back to life, or that we try to live like a peasant we believe was God — it is our disposition toward military service.

    Gareth Higgins 4-24-2019

    Movie still from 'High Life'

    You don’t have to be in prison to recognize the power dynamics among the characters and how their bored desperation could remind us of what happens when the most emotionally unhealthy habits of mind mingle with the least human technologies. You don’t have to launch into space to find yourself clicking a button over and over and over, the offer of immediate gratification without genuine connection. It’s no wonder that the most psychologically mature astro-prisoner (played by André Benjamin) takes to sleeping in the garden — it’s the closest thing to real.

    Lisa Sullivan 4-24-2019

    THE DAY A massive electrical blackout plunged Venezuela into darkness, my neighbor Juan Carlos was finally heading back to seventh grade.

    It had been four months since he had entered a classroom. His teachers had been missing since November, their $8 a month salary not covering even the commute. Doing the math, I realized that my two hens earned more with their daily eggs.

    Leaving his darkened school, Juan Carlos headed straight to the potato field. I watched from the porch as he dropped to his knees to rastrojear—rake the field with his hands to uncover spuds missed in the harvest. The field’s owner turns a blind eye to kids searching for food this way.

    Nikki Toyama-Szeto 4-24-2019

    AS AN EVANGELICAL woman in leadership, I’m grateful for the good intentions of many white evangelical men in leadership. In the spaces where I move, many well-meaning folks are trying to be supportive of women, gender minorities, and people of color. They’re trying to be generous with the privileges their gender or race may give them.

    While I’m grateful for the heart behind these attempts at support, in many evangelical and other Protestant circles, these kind intentions often perpetuate the dynamics they mean to discard. A speaker, while introducing me, tried to help by saying, “What she’s saying is really important, you should listen to her.” Though it was a kind thought, he maintained his position of power by establishing himself as an authority over my content.

    4-24-2019

    ON MARCH 13, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an order issuing a moratorium on the state’s death penalty—providing a reprieve from execution for 737 people on death row. Newsom cited as reasons that the ultimate penalty provides no public safety benefit and has no value as a deterrent. As someone who has worked as a public defender inside the criminal justice system for 30 years, I applaud the humanity and compassion of his decision.

    While the number of countries that employ the death penalty dwindles, the United States and several others still enforce it. Despite strong empirical evidence to the contrary, we are led to believe capital punishment is reserved for the “worst of the worst” and that it is supported by victims and law enforcement alike. Leaving aside that 156 people on death row nationwide have been exonerated since 1973, the death penalty is discriminatory in its application and in the selection of those whom the state seeks to kill. It is largely sought because of the economic status of the defendant, the race of the victim and the defendant, and where the crime took place, not because of the circumstances of the offense.

    Benjamin Perry 4-23-2019

    Image via Shutterstock/Andrew Cline

    While, obviously, not everyone who spreads these memes is endorsing violence, its undeniable that some of the president’s supporters view them as a roadmap for the kind of radical action they believe it will take to “make America great again.” Cesar Sayoc, for example, affixed this very image to the window of his van before he mailed bombs to news outlets, Democratic politicians, and former government officials. And the truth, more broadly, is that we communicate much by what we find “humorous.” Even though many who traffic such imagery would never mail bombs, it strains credulity to say they are entirely disconnected from support for a president who openly wishes he could order the military to rough up migrants at the border, or who endorsed violence against protesters at campaign rallies. 

    Jamar A. Boyd II 4-18-2019

    The Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Opelousas, Louisiana, U.S. April 4, 2019 is pictured after a fire in this picture obtained from social media. Picture taken April 4, 2019. Courtesy Louisiana Office Of State Fire Marshal/Handout via REUTERS

    The stark contrast in media coverage and social concern reveals the deep and isolated silos which humanity can and chooses to abide within, magnifying the complex avenues of empathy and sympathy while examining the enactment of independent agencies to ensure certain spaces and structures are protected or resurrected.

    Jim Wallis 4-18-2019

    Smoke rises around the altar in front of the cross inside the Notre Dame Cathedral as a fire continues to burn in Paris, France, April 16, 2019. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer/Pool

    Holy Week for Christians represents a dramatic movement from pain to hope. We deeply feel and lament the pain Jesus Christ endured for us, but we also feel our personal pain and the world’s pain. Then we rejoice as that pain gives way to the eternal hope that is always available to us through the resurrection—a hope that is not just for ourselves but for the world. We say “Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed!” with a joy that surpasses understanding.

     Martin Luther King Jr. Mural at the National Historic Site in Atlanta, GA.

    What is at stake in the conversation regarding the decline in religious life is not just the future of our faith institutions but the future of humanity. We are living through a time just as Dr. King described, where reactionary forces seek to double down on the failing status quo through the rhetoric of scarcity, isolation, and walls. In response, a prophetic faith kindles the imagination of humanity helping us to create new pathways to respond to the challenges of our time that are rooted in not in fear, but in possibility and the values of justice and peace.

    Photo by Ihor Malytskyi on Unsplash

    Good Friday and Easter Sunday are not just moments of remembering events of 2,000 years ago but a celebration of an ongoing reality. Examples of resurrection come in unlikely places. Recently, I found one in a 2013 study of brain scans or people recovering from severe addictions.