Whenever someone asks me why I’ve chosen to focus on religion journalism as a storyteller, I always answer the same way: The God beat is the most intimate zone of journalism. We get to ask people — often within the first 15 minutes of meeting them — about their faith, doubts, beliefs, and longings. Because faith happens when humans put their hope in Something ultimately and gloriously incalculable, religion journalism is inherently vulnerable. Admittedly, that vulnerability often produces religion stories that are a bit heavy to cover: Women priests feel a call that the Vatican won’t let them answer; U.S. Christianity exports homophobia around the world. But this week, religion journalism was also funny.
That same pope who stands in the way of priesthood for women, invited Spider-Man to the Vatican. A whale swallowed and then spit out a lobster diver outside of Cape Cod, and the internet collectively chuckled over this modern nod to that ancient story of Jonah (fortunately, this whale only kept the lobster diver, who is still very much alive, inside his mouth for 30 seconds — not three days and three nights).
The God beat produces stories of inspiration, exploitation, and — thank God — hilarity. Here are 10 of them.
1. Why Martin Sheen Returned to Catholicism
The actor and activist on faith, service, and his new film 12 Mighty Orphans. By Ryan J. Pemberton via sojo.net.
2. 'I Was Completely Inside': Lobster Diver Swallowed by Humpback Whale Off Provincetown
“All of a sudden, I felt this huge shove and the next thing I knew it was completely black,” Packard recalled Friday afternoon following his release from Cape Cod Hospital. By Doug Fraser via the Cape Cod Times.
3. My Farewell to Sojourners
I look forward to this new chapter in my vocation, but I will continue to be shaped by the Sojourners mission for the rest of my life. By Jim Wallis via sojo.net.
4. The Women Who Want to be Priests
They feel drawn by God to the calling — and won’t let the Vatican stop them. By Margaret Talbot via The New Yorker.
5. LGBTQ Asylum Seekers Need Protection — and the Church’s Support
U.S. Christianity has helped spread homophobia around the world. We can't turn away LGBTQ asylum-seekers. By Karen González via sojo.net.
6. Who Killed Mars Hill?
Almost overnight, after 18 years of ministry, Mars Hill Church closed its doors. Who’s to blame? By Mike Cosper via Christianity Today.
7. God Is Like a Blanket Fort
Rachel Held Evans and Matthew Paul Turner’s new children’s book helps all of us imagine ‘What Is God Like?’ By Jenna Barnett via sojo.net.
8. Legislature Requires Cities Uphold Unhoused Oregonians' Right to Sit, Sleep, Stay Dry on Public Property
Oregon lawmakers have passed a bill requiring cities establish “objectively reasonable” policies that allow unhoused people to occupy public property, if no alternative shelter exists. By Alex Zielinski via PortlandMercury.com.
9. Yes, Spiderman Met the Pope
The web-slinger was far from home as he visited His Holiness at the Vatican. By Philip Pullella, Reuters, via sojo.net.
10. The Pandemic Left Me This Creepy Baby
“Of all the haunting remnants of the past year, the one I can’t shake is my daughter’s eerily real doll.” By Sarah Stankorb via Medium.