I stared down at the bones. Whether covered under centuries of sand or exposed to sun, the body was claimed by the desert in life and afterlife. Even though it had been uncovered decades earlier, the dust of the desert never released it from its grip. Father Francisco Eusebio Kino died far from his Italian home. Migrants along the way had told me of the crypt of the Jesuit priest who had missionized the Sonoran Desert 300 years prior. He first entered this desert on a mission in 1687 and it swallowed him in 1711.
Hate and racism were so embedded within this religion that the KKK was marketed as a Christian institution, and segregation was endorsed by countless white pastors and their congregations. It’s still so prevalent within white Christianity today that many still refuse to acknowledge systemic racism as a problem. They happily support a president who continually spews racist and xenophobic vitriol, and support policies that continue to be racist and evil.
White evangelical support for Donald Trump has led some black evangelicals to a crisis of faith and ecclesial identification. In this moment, Jemar Tisby has risen as a voice that’s unafraid to challenge white evangelicals’ complicity with racism, forging another path for those feeling alienated. Tisby is currently completing his PhD in history at the University of Mississippi. He is the president of The Witness: A Black Christian Collective, previously known as the Reformed African American Network, and writes widely about racism, the American church, and social justice. In 2017, a New York Times article quoted him saying: “Racism is not a ‘blind spot’ within white evangelicalism. It is part of that tradition’s DNA.” Now, Tisby has published a book tracing that DNA by way of history.
Dome Karukoski’s Tolkien, out in theaters this Friday, focuses on another story of friendship, that of the Tea Club and Barrovian Society (TCBS) which Tolkien was a part of during his education at King Edward’s School in Birmingham. The film tells the story of Tolkien’s early life as an orphan living in poverty and at the mercy of his benefactors, and the love and friendship he finds in spite of it. Tolkien is gorgeously shot and filmed with warmth, humor, and friendship.
It turns out that The Church of Satan as founded by Anton LaVey was more of a hedonistic club than something to fear, and today’s The Satanic Temple (TST) an entirely distinct organization — an emerging religious community whose tenets are dedicated to compassion, making amends for mistakes, and promoting religious liberty.
So many people have testified that Rachel Held Evans created a safe place for them — in person, for some, but overwhelmingly online, with a blog that became an internet sanctuary where people were welcomed, affirmed, encouraged, and lifted up. The hashtag #becauseofRHE highlights these incredible stories across social media — scrolling through the moving testimonies on Twitter feels like attending an online memorial service. Many are calling this online community her church; Rachel had been their pastor.
I stopped praying for God to turn me into a boy after I found Rachel Held Evans and her work. I was convinced that God might love girls, but not so much women. In my world, there was little challenging the ideology that patriarchy was God’s good plan for us. Rachel was the first evangelical I knew who began to articulate any kind of challenge to that idea. Forming a digital community through her writing, she asked the hard questions that haunted thousands of us everywhere. She took a particular risk of faith many of us felt we could not, “the risk of birth” as she would later articulate while referencing Madeleine L'Engle's famous poem. Rachel’s writing and preaching over the years demonstrated a commitment to faith over unquestioning certainty.
We continually ask, as Christians, what it looks like to embody a Christ who is both risen and stoops down to rip his clothes in lament that things are not as they should be in this world. It is the Easter season, and yet, we mourn.
I had worked with so many patients and families who had suffered trauma and crisis, especially families who had lost someone to senseless gun violence, but it appeared my training didn’t come into play for myself. I walked around my apartment, drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes, in agony. Then my chaplain hat popped up. I told myself, “Sharon, you know hours of waiting to hear news about someone usually means the patient is dead.” The reality of it all was shattering.
This twisted hate of anti-Semitism isn't the logical end point of my tradition but rather a perverted version of it — a version that has flourished before but has never been right or faithful.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.