Abby Olcese 4-27-2018

Image via Avengers Facebook 

Previous Avengers movies were about the challenges of building and sustaining and a community. Infinity War is a sobering reminder that even the biggest, strongest communities sometimes face adversity that results in sacrifice, uncertainty and loss. This is the MCU’s equivalent of C.S. Lewis’ The Last Battle, gathering characters both beloved and new, and throwing them into a brutal endgame. It’s a Good Friday movie, too, putting those left standing at the end into their own version of Gethsemane.

Joe Kay 4-27-2018
Image via Shutterstock/Joseph Sohm

Evangelicals recognize their dilemma. If they encourage the president to change, he’ll kick them to the curb. They’ve seen his ugly responses whenever anyone challenges him or suggests he is less than perfect.

Jenna Barnett 4-27-2018

Churches must not be scared of what an independent investigation will uncover. Instead, they should fear what an investigation that prioritizes the accused won’t uncover. We cannot truly preach the Good News until we are ready to reveal the bad news of the harassment and violence at work in many of our churches and homes.

the Web Editors 4-27-2018

4. Weeping Responsibly: 3 Ways White Women Can Learn to Grieve, Heal, and Stand Without Harm

Much has been said over the past couple of weeks about the impact of white women’s tears. Here, the author unpacks that and offers ways to stand strong in a misogynistic culture without harming others.

Jim Wallis 4-26-2018

What is an “evangelical” is a question now at stake on a global level. Last week at Wheaton College, a historic evangelical site, 50 fairly diverse leaders met to pray and discern together the future of evangelicalism in the U.S. When Fox News, Breitbart, and CBN (Christian Broadcasting Network) launched coordinated coverage of the meeting as “ Trump bashing,” featuring the Trump evangelical advisers to the president, you knew the meeting hit a nerve.

Steve Hoppe 4-26-2018

The #MeToo hashtag has revealed horrific stories of sexual abuse around the world. The #ChurchToo hashtag has done the same, in the context of the church. As a marriage counselor and pastor, I’ve seen cases of sexual abuse that would make your skin crawl. They’re evil, inhumane, and an abomination to God. But I’ve also encountered another kind of abuse that is equally appalling to God. It isn’t necessarily sexual in nature. It probably won’t gain a famous hashtag. It has become disturbingly prevalent in our culture — and yet it remains largely hidden. It’s called domestic spiritual abuse.

Image via Drew Elizarde-Miller

For a country that so often claims to purport liberty and democracy, the displacement of 400,000 people in Marawi and the 20,000 killings under Duterte’s drug war should concern the United States. But in the treatment of Jerome Aba, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents enacted an ideology of scarcity, Islamaphobia, and “America First.” It is an ideology that carries international U.S. military intervention and control as the key to safety. And as a Muslim and peace advocate, Aba was a threat to that and treated as an “enemy combatant”.

Mark Labberton 4-25-2018

In much of the last century, American Evangelicalism has had a complex relationship with power. On one hand, it has felt itself marginalized and repudiated, defeated, and silenced. On the other, it has often seemed to seek — even fawn over — worldly power, mimicking in the church forms of power evident in our culture. (I remember being at a conference where it was announced we should all be back after dinner for “an evening of star-studded worship.”) An evangelical dance with political power has been going on from the time of Billy Graham, through the Moral Majority and the religious right, to the Tea Party, and most recently with the white evangelical vote—the result being, as honorary Chairman of the Lausanne Movement Doug Birdsall has said, “When you Google ‘evangelical,’ you get Trump.”

Abby Olcese 4-25-2018

Image via ifeelpretty.movie.

I Feel Pretty is mainly a superficial enterprise. There are plenty of opportunities for smart satire here, but co-writers and directors Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein stick to a simplistic interpretation — one that claims to push for female empowerment, but still remains concerned with looks and a pretty narrow definition of beauty norms.

Former FBI Director James Comey arrives to speak about his book "A Higher Loyalty" in New York, U.S., April 18, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

While we humans strive to make the world a better place, and while we must, in Jesus’s words, look first for the mote in our own eye, we will not always succeed. We cannot always escape the worst parts of ourselves.

Todd Green 4-23-2018

Image via Leah Millis/Reuters

Trump's nominee for Secretary of State is tapping into the worst impulses of the president and the nation as a whole by scapegoating Muslims as perpetual outsiders and dangerous threats, all the while invoking his Christian faith to justify his views. 

Kaitlin Curtice 4-23-2018

As a mixed race person, who inhabits both whiteness and nativeness, both Christianity and other forms of spiritual identity, I am often in a state of questioning, on the margins wondering if I am really supposed to be in the church, or if I am truly allowed in with the history I carry with me.

Jessica Kantrowitz 4-23-2018

But Stewart-Bouley’s and Ajayi’s articles give me insight into my housemate’s response. My story of crying at the Israeli border seemed innocuous to me, a way of laughing at my own emotional frailty, but I can now see how it would seem like a veiled message of my power to my black friend — a power that she doesn’t have. As a white woman, I walk a delicate line between being hurt by misogyny and white supremacy and benefiting from it. When I experience the pain of limitations at work, of being put down and dismissed by male colleagues, professors, and pastors, and of outright sexual harassment and assault (yes, #metoo), it is hard to see the ways in which this same system is also supporting and benefitting me. The very attitude that frustrates and limits me, that women are inferior and need to be protected, also caters to me in ways that it does not cater to black women. And, as Stewart-Bouley points out, that catering can be fatal.

Image by Rebekah Fulton, Sojourners

On April 25, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in Hawaii v. Trump, the case that will decide whether President Trump’s latest Muslim ban — which bans nationals from Muslim-majority countries, indefinitely — violates our country’s treasured belief in religious freedom. If maintained by the Supreme Court, this ban would communicate to our Muslim, immigrant, and refugee neighbors that our doors are permanently closed to them. This is not only shameful — it’s fundamentally wrong.

What began with a panel of organizers and activists presenting on the realities of inequality in our city turned into a community conversation led by people directly affected by pressing issues like the lack of affordable housing and low wages. The forum created the occasion for people to speak prophetically, just as it created the occasion for members of the church to hear them, to repent, and to leave changed. All of this happened because the church opened its doors to people from the outside without fear of the fact that they came with serious questions about capitalism.

4-20-2018

In the past 50 years, the country has made great strides toward equity. But racism is still embedded in every aspect of American culture, from the churches we occupy to the environmental issues shaping our planet. People of faith can tackle these problems by working outside the lines that keep churches racially segregated. One way forward is through collaborating with other church communities on joint environmental projects.

the Web Editors 4-20-2018

1. ‘We Are Heavily Armed. —the Pastors’: The Root of the Christian Right’s Embrace of Guns

“I’m reminded that at the root of much of the Christian Right’s antipathy to gun control is a sense of fear — a sense that they are the final guardians of God’s will for America, that they are being overrun by something they see as from the devil.”

2. A Short Timeline of Starbucks’ Fraught History with Race

The unwarranted arrest of two black men — who were prepping for a meeting — inside a Philadelphia Starbucks is just the latest incident in the chain’s history.

Jim Wallis 4-19-2018

As we approach Pentecost, it has become painfully obvious that a new effort is needed to take our faith to the streets — to remind Christians in the U.S. what followers of Jesus are called to believe, and therefore what we are also called to reject.

Abby Olcese 4-19-2018

Image via 'Come Sunday' trailer

Sometimes, the film tells us, there are no good answers. All we can do is sit with our thoughts and do our best to love each other well.

Some tried-and-true ideas for Earth Day Sunday celebrations include planning an Earth Day themed worship service, having bulletin inserts or handouts for congregation members, and inviting guest speakers with relevant expertise.