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This week, Daniel Bowman Jr. wrote an essay for Sojourners about experiencing Christianity as an autistic person. His First Communion left a literal funny taste in his mouth, one that provoked a sudden sensory reaction, common among people with autism: “While they had taught me that it was consecrated and in fact transubstantiated — that it had become the actual body of actual Christ — no one mentioned that it would taste like Styrofoam,” he wrote.
I wish his congregation had been sensitive to the involuntary look of disgust that spread across Bowman’s young face. Christians across the world do not agree on whether the bread is Jesus, or a symbol of Jesus, or the mystery of Jesus — so of course we won’t agree on the taste, either.
Which, I think is kinda beautiful. Christianity leaves a lot to interpretation — both biblically and apparently, culinarily. In my childhood church, the blood was watered-down grape juice and the bread was bits of Hawaiian rolls; so, appropriately, the Bread of Life tasted like Thanksgiving supper.
During the pandemic, communion has grown even more loosey goosey (not to be confused with “heretical”): tortilla chips and salsa. Waffle or pancake shreds and cran-raspberry juice. Rosemary Italian bread and (gasp!) white wine. But don’t be scandalized. After all, Jesus was a complex, layered guy! I’m glad his immortalized taste reflects that.
The 10 articles below pair nicely with every carb imaginable.
1. Styrofoam Jesus, or, Autism and My First Communion
“Among the many things church is, it’s a complex, multilayered social environment, a gauntlet of unspoken rules and expectations requiring vigilant navigation.” By Daniel Bowman Jr. via sojo.net.
2. This Is How Media Gatekeepers Enable Abusers
From CNN's Chris Cuomo to the Washington Post's Marty Baron, the U.S. newsroom has a long tradition of empowering perpetrators of sexual assault and harassment by amplifying their voices and silencing survivors and their allies. By Lexi McMenamin via Dame Magazine.
3. Prison Letters Are Essential to Our Faith
For those subjected to the hell of incarceration, receiving a piece of mail can feel sacramental, a tactile reminder of the presence of loved ones and hope beyond the present reality, glimpses of divine grace and presence mediated by the physical object. By Hannah Bowman via sojo.net.
4. What Did 9-11 Do to One Family?
Grief, conspiracy theories, and one family’s search for meaning in the two decades since 9/11. By Jennifer Senior via The Atlantic.
5. Why Did a Nevada Pastor Bless Goats?
When overgrowth put a church property at risk, 260 goats, and four dogs, came to help. By Gina Ciliberto via sojo.net.
6. More Development Would Ruin Our Neighborhood’s Character and That Character Is Systemic Racism
This neighborhood was built on certain principles, and it’s extremely important to maintain those principles and also not say them out loud where they could be used in court. By Devin Wallace via McSweeney’s Internet Tendency.
7. Hope Is a Climate Survival Strategy
Political feasibility is a social construct. Climate change is not. By Karyn Bigelow and Avery Davis Lamb via sojo.net.
8. Aretha Franklin Biopic ‘Respect’ Highlights Dangers of Patriarchy
Even the sound of “hymn” can be a reminder of the burden of patriarchal Christianity while watching Respect. By Da’Shawn Mosley via sojo.net.
9. Christians Must Help End the Orphanage Era
No child with living, loving family members should ever be trapped in an orphanage like I was, or forced to choose between family and education or material support. By Stephen Ucembe via sojo.net.
10. Ryan Ken’s Radical Comedy Is Just What We Need
The performer’s viral videos are a master class in making you laugh — and then making you think. By Taryn Finley via Huffpost.