The American Christian church once again finds itself at odds with itself, especially in the aftermath of the election of Donald Trump. On all sides, there are a lot of questions. To understand where we are, we must look at where we’ve been ...
In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, out this weekend, Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), Rocket, (Bradley Cooper) and Groot, (Vin Diesel) are still learning lessons in openness and humility. But oddly, the film they’re in needs help maintaining emotional honesty, too. Where the first movie kept a fine balance of pathos and jokes, the second Guardians film is almost caustically cynical. The film is so preoccupied with witty banter that it misses nearly every opportunity to plumb the depths of the themes it presents, until finally pulling it together at the very end.
Today, I have found freedom and hope — not by becoming straight, but by embracing my queer sexuality and coming out of the closet. New research on the science of sexual orientation as well as personal stories of well-adjusted and happy LGBTQ people helped me reject the religious system that told me there was something wrong with me because I was gay. Recently, the word “survivor” has felt as an appropriate label for myself in relation to reparative therapy, and I am so thankful to be in a much more welcoming environment today. But I cannot ignore the fact that many people today, including a lot of children and adolescents, are still being subjected the psychological torture that is conversion therapy.
Through the Sisters of Salaam Shalom, Jewish and Muslim women are coming together to discover their similarities and bond together as friends and fellow travelers in the world. They are finding common ground, language, or customs to be bridges to relationships. They are not allowing the world to separate them.
Luke 6:31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.
The Christian faith shouldn’t be defined by presidential orders and government mandates. Instead, it’s perfectly represented by the person of Jesus Christ, who told us to love our neighbors as ourselves and do unto others as we would have done to us.
The issue here is not Christians voting differently from each other. That is normal and likely healthy given the independence that people of faith should show over partisan loyalties. This is about the moral hypocrisy of white American evangelical religious right leaders like Jerry Falwell Jr. causing a crisis in the church, dividing American Christians on racial lines, and astonishing the worldwide body of Christ — the international majority of evangelical Christians who are people of color — and whose leaders keep asking many of us what in the world is going on with white American evangelicals.
Tucked up near the Austrian border, about 160 miles from Budapest, is a small Hungarian town of 12,000 people. It’s a quiet place about three and a half hours, and two trains rides, from Hungary’s capital.
But the community has been split by the decision of the local Catholic parish priest, the Rev. Zoltan Nemeth, to allow some asylum-seekers to take shelter in a church building.
The talk — a surprise for all in the audience — recapitulated the key themes of the Argentinian pope’s view of the human person: We are all related and interconnected; scientific and technological progress must not be disconnected from social justice and care for the neighbor; and that the world needs tenderness.
I am a scholar of modern Catholicism and its relations with the world of today. From my perspective, there are two essential elements of this talk that are important to understand: the message of the pope and his use of the media.
We are living in a time of unprecedented economic disparity between the rich and the poor, the haves and the have-nots. Masses live in poverty so that a handful of people can live as they wish. The world’s three richest people own more than the combined economies of 48 countries. The average CEO in the US is making 400 times the average worker.
Growing up, I heard stories about random acts of kindness, anonymously dropping off gifts for people, blessing them in some way as to remind them that they are not alone. It was almost a Christian duty to spread kindness like this, because it was kindness without expecting anything in return. I thought about doing that for these neighbors, leaving a simple note or just a bouquet on their doorstep, but that’s not what was needed. In all that may have been awkward or uncomfortable about that encounter, these people needed to know that I saw them.
To tell a Christian story about environmental care, we must redefine Christian stewardship. For a movement to attach Christ’s name to it, it must embody the spirit of Jesus as one who gave away his power. Christian stewardship, then, is not dominating with power, but yielding with care. First, we must listen to what the natural world is telling us and respond to it accordingly, not only because we ought to be tenderhearted people, but because it ensures our mutual flourishing
On the Monday after Easter, as the state of Arkansas fought a stay of execution for seven prisoners in order to put them to death, I meditated on a simple truth: When people are executed, Christ is crucified all over again.
I was privileged to work in the transition-to-democracy team in South Africa in 1994. I cast my early vote for Nelson Mandela on April 26 — 23 years ago yesterday. I worked with Madiba’s team on his inauguration speech. April 26 is a special day for me. For most of my beloved countrywomen and men in South Africa, victory day is April 27 — Freedom Day. This day marked the first post-apartheid national election, a day when everyone over age 18 was allowed to vote.
Perhaps one reason the events played out differently at Princeton is because folks there insisted on seeing one another as members of a community, participants in the one Body of Christ, and in that spirit mustered what Dietrich Bonhoeffer once called the “ministry of bearing” essential to maintaining community. In 1938 Bonhoeffer wrote a book about his own seminary called Life Together, in which he emphasized that the enjoyment of fellowship with other Christians is a privilege, a gift of God’s grace. But he also understood that the church is a human community, and therefore not immune from conflict. Christians, he said, ideally respond to their inevitable conflict with a reassertion of mutual care and intentional practices of community building in the name of Christ.
Since Inauguration Day, I’ve seen a lot of emotional outbreaks from the people of America — people on separate ends of the political spectrum, on separate ends of what it should mean to be a person of faith in America. These divisions have been reinforced with violent hate crimes and rants from church pulpits; they’ve resulted in people leaving the church and claiming that Christianity is nothing more than a white man’s religion practiced through discrimination and oppression.
As Christians in an unjust world, it’s easy for us to long for escape, for a “pure, uncorrupted” place that makes sense to us — that is, our ideas of heaven. But while it’s important to desire that perfection, we ourselves can’t actually attain it, as true comprehension of heaven lies beyond earthly grasp. If getting to heaven is the only thing we care about, we’re missing the point.
Salvation cannot remain an individualized spiritualized concept. When the psalmists called out for salvation, they meant salvation from present suffering and danger. When the crowd shouted “Hosanna” at Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem, they weren’t referring to the afterlife. When we talk about salvation in the context of our warming climate, we mean deliverance from the most destructive force our species has ever faced. When it comes to climate change, we have to think about community and salvation in a global sense. We must start to recognize that our communities are mutually dependent upon each other.