The Heretic, a new documentary about controversial author and thinker Rob Bell, offers a new image of Christianity and faith. The film traces Bell’s work since the release of his hair-raising book, Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived, which questioned the damnation of human beings to hell.
Earlier this week, I participated in civil disobedience for the first time. Forty Catholic sisters, priests, and other lay Catholic advocates were arrested in the rotunda of the Russell Senate Office Building in solidarity with young undocumented “Dreamers.” These immigrants, brought to this country as children, are living in fear of deportation after the Trump administration ended an Obama-era program that offered them protection. Congress now has to find a solution. About a third of all House members, including Speaker Paul Ryan, and a quarter of senators are Catholic. More than a 100 Catholics, including Dreamers, showed up for a rally and press conference outside the Senate building, urging lawmakers to act.
Our children are leading us, and our youth groups can help point the way forward. It’s time to listen and follow their lead.
After each massacre, guns are defended with religious fervor, as though owning a weapon is akin to owning a Bible. We’re told that the problem in our society isn’t unfettered access to weapons, but a failure by godly people to arm themselves and go out and kill the ungodly people. We’re told we need more “good” people buying guns and perfecting their aim so they can shoot all the “bad” people.
Many people will be familiar with this explanation of trans identities — that trans people identify as “a girl trapped in a boy’s body,” or “a boy trapped in a girl’s body.” This narrative is a simplistic one, and we most often see it used by gender-diverse children as they’re exploring their sense of self. As kids, we don’t have a better way of explaining how we feel, and so we use these words to try to get across the fact that there’s something about us that you can’t see. But for many trans people, especially nonbinary trans folks, this narrative doesn’t work.
At one time or another, we decided that the church is a body created to spiritually house and care for the world. But today in America, the word Christian has a lot of connotations to the average person. It’s confusing, and it brings up a lot of conversations about dividing lines and political parties and inclusion versus exclusion.
As a Christian, a husband and father, a friend, a disaster ministry expert, a researcher, and a psychologist — I believe we need to take action to stop gun violence in our country. Here’s why.
Comedian and social commentator Michael Ian Black writes for the New York Times about the lack of conversations and cultural movement behind defining healthy masculinity for boys.
“The question hinges on how these stories are written and what purpose they serve. When religion writers don’t get this right, they run the risk of reversing the empathy that white people of faith might feel for persons and communities of color. By allowing white Catholic Trump-supporting interviewees to be the sole and explicit recipients of the reader’s empathy, these writers fail to create room for those who suffer as a result of the interviewees' views or actions.”
Sometimes, my great-grandmother used to sleep in the fields — not because she didn’t have a home, but because she wanted to make sure that no one stole her crop. My dad often tells me that she was ready to beat up any thieves that came at the dead of night and I’m sure there were instances where she did. I often picture this moment when I need strength. I think about her petite frame in a cotton sari knowing that she could tackle whatever danger came her way at night. But I also think about how she might have felt fear creep up and how she might have felt anger, too, if she saw someone attempting to sabotage her crop. Because no matter how nurturing and gentle she might have been, she could also feel anger and stand up for herself when she knew she was being wronged.
Back in September, America rightly called on Catholics to “fight racism at every turn.” Yet Catholic media has yet to really give a good example of how to do that when it comes to reporting on Catholic Trump supporters.
At Riverside, McKesson drew a distinction between the terms “ally” and “accomplice.” An ally holds herself at a safe distance from the fight for justice, he said. What turns her into an accomplice is proximity: proximity to the fight and/or to those who suffer oppression and/or injustice
One could say dignity has three elements: Agency, that entails people being able to act autonomously and use their gifts and thrive; recognition, that provides a sense of value in the social communities that all people find themselves in; and implementation and institutionalization of that agency and recognition, to ensure dignity’s presence over time.
A pivotal early scene in the movie engages African cosmology and varieties of African spirituality on many levels. The viewer encounters a vibrant spiritual world from the earliest moments of the film, which draws from the cultural traditions of many real African nations by incorporating customs, clothing, languages, art, architecture, body modification styles, and combat techniques found across the continent.
It would be presumptuous, from my position of reserve, to make sweeping declarations about what Christianity needs. But I've come to realize what I need from Christianity — a call to action, not permission to engage in the quasi-gnostic pursuit of personal fulfillment.
On Friday, The Cut published a reflection from Parkland shooting survivor Carly Novell, in which she describes her hours-long experience cowering in a closet. On its own, her story is harrowing — the kind of trauma no child should endure. The kicker, though, is that Novell’s grandfather was also forced to hide in a closet as his parents were murdered during a 1949 shooting in Camden, N.J. Separated by 69 years, the bone-chilling similarity of their experience is a devastating indictment of a nation that has tacitly accepted ubiquitous bloodshed.
When NRA-funded Republicans offer their “thoughts and prayers” after mass shootings, to which God are they praying? Republicans cannot be praying to the Jesus who said, “Those who live by the sword shall die by the sword.” Surely, they cannot be praying to the prophet Isaiah’s God who heralds the coming of a day when God will cause people to:
“…beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more. (Isaiah 2:4)
Jesus told his disciples to “take up their cross and follow me” a year before his trial and execution. And his disciples at that time would have heard it very differently from the way we interpret it today. To the disciples, a cross wasn't a symbol of atonement, forgiveness, or forbearance — it was an official mode of execution, by oppressors and occupiers. It was an instrument of terror. Jesus' words to the disciples were not just a warning. They were an exhortation to follow him anyway, in complete defiance of the very worst anyone could possibly do to us.
Should we be building walls, or making it easier for people seeking a better life to enter our borders? Should we use our resources to exercise military might, or to fix a system rigged against people of color and people in poverty? Wakanda knows its answer. Perhaps Black Panther can help American audiences reconsider ours.