In his spiritual memoir, Confessions, St. Augustine spends the better part of a chapter recounting how, as a teenager, he and his buddies once “filched immense loads” of pears from a neighbor’s tree. Most concerning to Augustine is that they didn’t want to eat the fruit, which, as Sarah Ruden translates Augustine, “offered no draw either in its look or taste”; they just thought it was hilarious to steal them.
Stealing pears — or voting rights or human life — is wrong. Yet so often I think of Augustine as merely the sober, self-flagellating saint whose shame-based approach to bodies and sexuality we’re still trying to overcome; I’ll admit that reading his earnest (and melodramatic) account of his youthful pear heist made the famed Bishop of Hippo much more human — and likable.
Other confessions drew our attention this week: Rapper JGivens talked with Sojourners assistant news editor Mitchell Atencio about coming out, addiction, and wrestling with his ever-evolving faith amid the unforgiving boundaries of Christian hip-hop; WNBA player Layshia Clarendon shared their own confession of faith with ESPN’s Katie Barnes, including their belief that sometimes “being Christian means f---ing s--- up.” And law professor Christopher Tomlins revisited The Confessions of Nat Turner to create a speculative history that does justice to the slave rebellion leader’s apocalyptic sense of faith and justice.
1. Christian Hip-Hop’s First Openly Gay Rapper Is Done Evangelizing
Three years after coming out publicly, JGivens reflects on friendships, addiction, queerness, and his shifting faith. By Mitchell Atencio via sojo.net.
2. The ‘Magic’ and Faith Within the WNBA’s Most Powerful Player
Player. Parent. Activist. Pioneer. Faith is the driving force for the WNBA’s first openly nonbinary and transgender player. By Katie Barnes via ESPN.com.
3. A Prayer for My LGBTQ Kin
Shepherding God, help us to name, define, redefine, deconstruct, claim, and properly pronoun our fabulousness. By Megan Rohrer via sojo.net.
4. The Real Threat to American Catholicism
The American Catholic bishops’ fight with President Joe Biden reveals much about the state of the Church. By Mollie Wilson O’Reilly via theatlantic.com.
5. Why Clergy Are Suing Georgia Over ‘Election Integrity’ Law
Led by Black clergy, faith groups are banding together to defend democracy from new voting restrictions passed by Georgia Republicans. By Gina Ciliberto via sojo.net.
6. Are You a Boy? Or Are You a Girl?
For those who want to play with gender, games are sometimes a safer setting in which to experiment and discover. By Chris Karnadi via catapult.co.
7. Wrongful Convictions Haunt the U.S.
I knew Carlos DeLuna was innocent. The Phantom reminds us capital punishment is unjust. By Maurice Possley via sojo.net.
8. Looking for Nat Turner
Frightened slaveowners cast the rebel leader as a monster. Scholar have misunderstood his religiosity. A new creative history comes closer than ever to giving us access to Turner’s visionary life. By Alberto Toscano via BostonReview.net.
9. What Faith-Based Groups Often Miss in Refugee Resettlement
Refugees have needs beyond housing, jobs, ESL, and health care. By Melissa Borja, Katherine Clifton, and Matthew C. Weiner, via sojo.net.
10. Pope Francis Encourages Jesuit Father James Martin in His L.G.B.T. Ministry
On the eve of the Outreach 2021 LGBTQ conference, Rev. Martin received a handwritten personal letter in Spanish from Francis, expressing his support. By Gerard O’Connell via americamagazine.org.