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.
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.
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.
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.
What lingers most after seeing Diane, a wise, sad, and beautiful film, and the best reason to go to the movies this week, is the roads. The title character, anchored in an immersive performance by Mary Kay Place, is always driving - from her house to the extended family who josh and complain and hold each other up, from there to the apartment where her son is failing to hide his problems, from there to the deathbed of a dear friend with whom she has a complicated history, from there to the church soup kitchen where she serves.
It was Wednesday, March 27th. I was one of 20 rabbis and cantors, assembled by T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights and the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), to witness and report on the border. A few hours earlier, CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan (now ICE’s acting director) had held a press conference at the same spot.
There have always been demagogues. Those who win power and popularity by arousing the prejudices of the people. Demagoguery was not invented by Donald Trump or Hitler. I’ll bet even Pharaoh in the book of Exodus didn’t invent the concept, but he perfected it. He never knew Joseph, the son of Jacob. He didn’t personally benefit from Joseph’s leadership and wisdom. Joseph, a Hebrew man brought to Egypt as a victim of human trafficking, but who with God’s favor rose to become the most powerful man in Egypt — he was the man whose interpretations of dreams saved everyone from famine.
Spring is here once again, and we are watching elements of nature in America slowly come alive as the last hints of winter melt away one day at a time. One of the most incredible things we can learn from the earth is the importance of seeing everything in cycles.
It will come as no surprise when President Trump continues his anti-immigrant agenda, ignoring well-established U.S. asylum law and putting children and families in harm’s way even after Secretary Nielsen’s abrupt departure. We know that President Trump forced Secretary Nielsen to resign to find someone willing to enforce even more cruelty at the border. The question now is what unchecked harm he will unleash after the purge of the Department of Homeland Security is complete.
In seeking to better steward their resources, Christians may sometimes wonder how their giving to the poor and marginalized might better reflect God’s ultimate gift and sacrifice. The truth is that giving well and wisely isn’t easy – as givers from Andrew Carnegie to Warren Buffett have observed – and it requires wisdom and its own set of skills.
Each spring Lent is a season on the church calendar, beginning on Ash Wednesday and concluding on Easter, which prepares Christians for Easter. The believer prepares his or her heart to celebrate Christ’s resurrection by embracing practices of prayer and repentance. An important part of experiencing Lent is walking through lament.
In the newest cinematic Mary Magdalene, directed by Garth Davis from a script by Helen Edmundson and Philippa Goslett, Mary isn’t confused at all. I don’t think anyone was expecting a film with that title to appear unironically in 2019; it's also a genuine surprise that it wasn’t made for the Christian market, nor does it aim for the kind of dry, “noble” distance that makes large-scale biblical epics such as Ben-Hur seem like Downton Abbey, upstairs, with sandals. The fact that Mary Magdalene contains decent performances (especially Rooney Mara’s Mary, not a doe-eyed holy innocent, but a leader who finds her voice by speaking), and makes an honest effort at exploring the less familiar parts of one of the most familiar stories in history makes it worth our attention. That attention may even be rewarded by an idea or two. It’s thoughtful, honest, yet not earth-shattering cinema, although it does bring its own revelation.
These faithful Christians may not realize that they have inherited the long historical lineage of Christianity that, since the early centuries of the common era, has partaken in a deliberate or unwitting de-Judaizing of Christianity. The distancing from its original Jewish leadership, the replacement of Passover with Easter, the changing of names: Yeshua to Jesus, Miriam to Mary, Saul to Paul, continue to this day, despite Christian scholarship, altruism, and the progressive ideal of honoring a diversity of cultures.
Like racism in the U.S., the caste system in India is normalized, permeating every aspect of Indian society. With some exceptions, if you asked a middle-of-the-road white evangelical Christian if racism is prevalent in the U.S., they would likely say no. In a similar vein, if you ask any Hindu upper-caste person if casteism exists, they too would likely say no. But the people directly impacted by the systemic ways in which racism and casteism are baked into society would give you a much different answer.
As Shamika and I called upon our own experiences in church and seminary, we became especially concerned with providing a resource for those who historically have been barred from participation at the Lord’s Table: the divorced, Christians of color, LGBTQ believers, those living far from physical community, or far from a church that is physically accessible. While we’re not trying to replace “brick and mortar” community, we believe God calls us beyond a spirit of fear in the face of innovations in technology.
For decades now, the traditional and media political wisdom is that Republicans control religion in American politics, and, with the exception of African-Americans, the Democrats don’t like to talk much about faith. This assumption is embraced by Republicans, with white evangelicals in many churches telling their fellow congregants that they can’t possibly vote for Democrats. Part of the reason for this misconception is media illiteracy about religion and the personal secular bias of many journalists.
As a Christian, I believe God calls us to a total and radical re-imagination and transformation of our relationship with others and the earth. We yearn for a vision of complete reconciliation for all of God’s created order. As political leaders, especially those of you grounded in faith and values, I implore you to respond faithfully and with full force to love God and neighbor by enacting just, compassionate, and transformative climate policies that rise to the challenge of the climate crisis.
Passover is approaching. The first night and its ceremonial meal, the Seder, will come the night of April 19. The night before, Holy Thursday, for Christians commemorates the Last Supper, a Passover Seder. And April 19 is the anniversary of the beginning of the American Revolution against a tyrannical king. It’s a powerful confluence!
Readers respond to Jim Wallis' column "White Nationalism. White Supremacy. White Power."
Christians can claim that God's power is made perfect in weakness but leaning more heavily on the image of a mothering God would push Christians to give the care-giving traits a higher value at the ballot box and in our advocacy work.