Ryan Hammill may be the Online Assistant, but he still uses a flip phone without internet access. He comes from that technology backwater known as the San Francisco Bay Area, where he grew up playing baseball, avoiding yard work, and reading with a flashlight under the covers. After high school he lived with monks in the French village of Taizé. Ryan graduated from Occidental College in 2015 where he majored in history and took enough classes for a Russian minor, but didn’t realize it and so never submitted the papers. He was also part of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at Occidental, an experience that helped him to combine his concern for justice with the evangelical faith of his upbringing. He is thrilled and honored that he gets the chance to continue to think through these issues with Sojourners.
You can also follow him on Twitter as he tweets from his desktop computer @ryanahammill.
Posts By This Author
The Day Bin Laden Died
On first thought, cheering someone’s death sounds vile. But if I’m honest, I’ve never been so gripped by the sentiment of patriotism as on the day that I sat around a table with more than a dozen men, only one of whom — besides myself — was American. This was the day that President Obama announced that Osama bin Laden had been killed.
Paul Ryan's 'Millennial Town Hall' Talks Mass Incarceration, Poverty, and Whether People Should Support Republicans
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has said repeatedly that he isn’t running for president, but that hasn’t stopped him from making numerous public appearances to talk about his vision for the Republican Party and the United States.
Could Pope Francis Be Ready to Throw Out Just War Theory?
For over 1,500 years, the Catholic Church has promoted “just war theory” as a way to determine in what cases a war can be considered morally justifiable. But all of that may change.
In an interview, Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana said that it is “plausible” that Pope Francis may write a new encyclical updating Catholic teaching on war and peace, an update that could include a retreat from just war theory. Francis’ last encyclical, “Laudato Si,” made waves for its condemnation of capitalism and call to address climate change.
Dorothy Day Gets One Step Closer to Sainthood
The famous Catholic Worker activist Dorothy Day once remarked, “Don’t call me a saint. I don’t want to be dismissed that easily.” That hasn’t stopped the Archdiocese of New York, however, from moving forward with a “canonical inquiry,” the next step required to become eligible for beatification and then canonization, when a figure officially becomes a saint.
Supreme Court May Have Found Way Forward in Contraception Case
In the case, various religious groups are suing the federal government over the HHS mandate, the requirement to provide contraception coverage in employees’ health insurance plans. There is currently an opt-out option, but the Little Sisters of the Poor, the co-plaintiffs, and their supporters do not believe that the opt-out is strong enough and thus that they are still complicit in providing contraception. They say, therefore, that the HHS mandate is a violation of their religious freedom.
The Wuerl Effect
If Cardinal Wuerl has found himself at the heart of contemporary Catholic history, it hasn’t been on purpose. He’s been searching, from Mass to committee meeting, from fundraising event to coffee break, to get to the heart of something else.For one reason or another, Donald Wuerl has found himself present for many of the most important events in the Catholic Church in the past half-century: He was in Rome during Vatican II; he orchestrated a landmark diocesan reorganization in Pittsburgh; he anticipated — and battled — the Vatican over the clerical abuse crisis in the United States.
With a career where he has ended up in the right place at the right time over and over again, some might dismiss Wuerl as a climber. But his determination to follow his conscience on difficult issues — and empower others to do the same — shows that he has been searching for something deeper than prestige.
Why Care About the Saints?
When I talk to the Christians whom I want to emulate, I find that they talk about other people — a mentor or a pastor or a spouse or a parent or a writer or a friend or someone else who changed them. If their life had an acknowledgments page, it’d be pretty long. And if you could go talk to those people, they’d probably talk about someone else. And so would those people, and those people, and those people. And eventually, I guess you’d get all the way back to John or Martha or Mary or Peter. And they’d tell you all about this guy named Yeshua, whom they followed around for a few years in Capernaum and Jericho and Jerusalem. Which makes sense, I guess. Christianity isn’t about me following Jesus, following Yeshua.
Darkness Makes Its Home Next Door to Light
Mass shootings are always and everywhere perverse and twisted events. But the Kansas shooting Feb. 25 that left three victims plus the gunman dead and 16 others injured possessed a few additional layers of perversity.
For one, when I tuned into the GOP presidential debate shortly after hearing news of the shooting, I expected CNN’s debate team to make mention of this newest spasm of random and brutal violence, and maybe even ask the candidates to address the issue. That was, unfortunately, not the case.
Blessings From the Border
The social mission of the Catholic Church can be reduced to the following: God became poor in Jesus Christ to save humanity, and we must do likewise. The social mission of the Catholic Church is about becoming poor for the poor. It communicates who God is, who Jesus is, who we’re called to be. For politics, it reverses things. It turns the world upside down.
Immigration Activists Hope for the Francis Effect
The legislative consequences of Pope Francis’ visit are still to be seen, though Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has vowed to block immigration reform until 2017. Nevertheless, for Andrea Cristina Mercado, who describes her relationship with Catholicism as “fraught,” the Francis Effect is already real.
“He is a really holy, spiritual leader,” she said. “[Pope Francis] drew me back into the church.”