A lot of people I admire are fascinated with Hallmark Christmas movies. Chief among them is Mariame Kaba, founder of Project NIA, a leading advocate of prison abolition, and a self-described “Hallmark Channel devotee.” “I love the anthropological whiteness of those films,” Kaba told public radio in 2018. “I’m pretty sure there are white people who live like that. I don’t know any of those white people. I find it fascinating for that reason.”
I’ll try most things once, so last year I settled in with a list of titles that promised ample snow-covered trees and true love. It didn’t go well. I made it through A Christmas Prince (glorifies violations of journalistic ethics and normalizes authoritarian rule), A Christmas Prince: A Royal Wedding (highlights benefits of labor organizing and includes a notable blooper reel, but oozes with schmaltz and racist depictions of South Asians), and Christmas in the Smokies (features a jaunty version of “Good King Wenceslas,” along with every imaginable Appalachian stereotype and toxic white theology presented as “down home” charm) before I abandoned the project.
But let she who is without problematic interests cast the first stone. Hallmark movies aren’t my thing, but my own guilty pleasures include what journalist Sohel Sarkar calls “Princess Diana Fever.” Monarchy doesn’t jibe with my politics or theology; as Camille Hernandez wrote this week, “I believe in a nonviolent God whose kingdom exists in communities that are healing from the generational wounds that violent institutions created.” But am I going to see Spencer, the new film about Princess Di? You bet.
Here are 10 stories that feature the tensions and paradoxes that surround us.
1. Why Pastors Are Joining the Great Resignation
My pastor friends aren’t giving up on the gospel, they’re giving up on sexist, racist, bickering churches. By Melissa Florer-Bixler via sojo.net.
2. Kavanaugh, Alito Compare Abortion to Segregation, Raise State’s Rights
A majority of U.S. Supreme Court justices appeared sympathetic Wednesday to the State of Mississippi’s argument that it should uphold the state’s 15-week abortion ban, imperiling almost a half century of precedent set by Roe v. Wade. By Ashton Pittman via Mississippi Free Press.
3. Advent Reveals the Paradox of Our Faith
And in this frenetic season, we desperately need it. By Adam Russell Taylor via sojo.net.
4. Virgin Royal, Mother, Whore: The Enduring Appeal of Princess Diana Fever
The abiding interest is the result of a sustained mythmaking organized around the figure of Diana, the most visible face of the British royal family even in her death. By Sohel Sarkar via bitchmedia.org.
5. In Advent We Make Space for Jesus, Our Unhoused Neighbor
If we want to welcome the Christ child, we must rethink our approach to the property we “possess.” By Hannah Bowman via sojo.net.
6. Horse Troughs, Hot Tubs and Hashtags: Baptism Is Getting Wild
In some evangelical churches, a once-staid ritual is returning to its informal roots — and things sometimes get “a little rowdy” along the way. By Ruth Graham via The New York Times.
7. I’m Dreaming of a Women’s Rights Christmas
The Annunciation shows us a God who refuses to coerce women into pregnancy. By Camille Hernandez via sojo.net.
8. ’Tis the Season for Royal Christmas Movies
What exactly is it about the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ that says “tiara romance”? By Catherine Hervey via The Christian Century.
9. The Work of Peacemaking Isn’t Nice
Melissa Florer-Bixler’s new book makes the biblical case for emboldened anger against injustice. By Myles Werntz via Sojourners.
10. For a City Still Struggling to Revitalize Its Downtown, Protests Become an Economic Lifeline
Over the past year, D.C. officials have embraced protest tourism as they try to bring back office workers and attract international visitors. By Emily Davis and Ellie Silverman via washingtonpost.com.