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Living the Word
The Agitating Word
Living As God's Beloved
Those of us who identify ourselves as activists of various stripes often use our work as a shield against our deepest fears and loneliness. Leery of those who peddle spirituality as self-help and who ignore the "root causes" of injustice and suffering, we can be fearful of admitting our own fatigue and dismay.
Within this tendency lies an interesting idolatry—one that is harder to identify than wealth, security, or even doctrinal purity. More often than not, we understand the gifts we have been given—the prophetic word, the cry of challenge to unjust systems—as something deposited in us, rather than something that flows through us. Thus we interpret our lives according to our faithfulness to this gift, rather than according to our relationship with the God who is the source of our gifts and callings. This severance casts our efforts in a strangely harsh light: It either causes us to interpret ourselves as being of singular importance, which renders us easily threatened, or it increases our already deep sense that we are always failing, no matter how hard we try. In either case, cut off from our life-source, the seed we sow in the world will be born of this fatigued arrogance, and we become just one more force out there imposing its vision on the world.
Listen to me, you that pursue righteousness, you that seek the Lord. Look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were dug (Isaiah 51:1).
God So Loves This World
These weeks from Easter to Pentecost memorialize the calling forth and sending out of Jesus' witnesses.
A Mysterious Joy
Years ago when my mother was quite ill, a friend copied a poem and surreptitiously slipped it into my Bible.
Remembering Who We Are
The journey from Epiphany to Lent brings us from the brightness of our dawning to the bleakness of our sinfulness.
Getting the Story Right
When Jesus met the Samaritan woman, he was talking to us.
Image Is...Well, Something
Travel the world over and American-generated advertising frames your view. McDonald’s, Coca Cola, AT&T, in billboard and signs, block skylines and provide ready landmarks with only slight modifications to reflect the local culture.
We the people of the United States of America are exporters of image. It is crucial to our identity. Even in radical countercultural circles, we know ourselves best when bemoaning uniquely horrific corporate American crassness—Rain Forest denizens watching Bay Watch, General Foods pimping mac and cheese to Latin American beans-and-rice connoisseurs, Kate Moss pushing voluntary starvation, even dot.com anti-advertising advertising.
So it’s jarring when some foreigner socks us in our cultural gut by turning our primary civic language against us. United Colors of Benetton—the Italian clothing company—has, for the last decade, been doing just that. Oliviero Toscani, the company’s advertising director and publicist, has brought to our billboards multicolored copulating horses, Ronald Reagan in the advanced stages of AIDS, a crucified Jesus with "Do You Play Alone?" stamped across the width. These thumb-waves at our prudish American sensibilities have incensed the Catholic League, AIDS activists, and people of good taste, most of whom have never seen (let alone purchased) a Benetton sweater or suit.
Benetton’s latest import is "We, On Death Row," a $15 million dollar print and billboard campaign. The centerpiece, a 96-page outsert bound with the February 2000 issue of Tina Brown’s Talk magazine (of which Toscani is creative director), profiles 25 men and one woman living on death row in the United States.
The Dangers of De-Fanging God
When I was a girl of 7 or 8 years, I laid awake most nights praying to have a friend.
Why we can't ignore gender bias in the classroom.
Agents of the Kingdom
To be agents of the kingdom of God is a full-time occupation. It requires a whole-life commitment; it requires preparation and energy.
Stories Not Forgotten
Young girls tell of the Holocaust.
Yearning to Breathe Free
Lifting Up Women
Full of Grace and Truth
Dealing With Difference
When cultural diversity clashes with human rights.
Gathering in Power and Hope
When the government of India launched a nationwide literacy campaign a few years ago, chances are alcohol abuse was not one of its targets.
In the early days of the Gulf war, ABC's Nightline took a break from round-the-clock coverage of lit-up skies and talking dignitaries and shifted its attention to MTV...
Gen X and the Future of the Church
Our faith has to be alive and light fires within our confused and fragile hearts or it is as meaningless as yesterday’s E-mail.