Bible

Image via RNS/Reuters/Molly Riley

The backlash to gospel singer Kim Burrell’s homophobic rant was swift: canceled national television appearances and the termination of her local public radio show.

But to those of us in religious communities, it’s important to note that, even as the controversy over Burrell’s statement recedes from the national spotlight, the issue of what goes on in the vast majority of American churches remains a festering wound.

John Gehring 01-09-2017

Image via RNS/Gage Skidmore via Creative Commons

Sessions has long been, in the words of one prominent immigration advocate, the “most anti-immigrant senator in the chamber.” When George W. Bush, a self-styled “compassionate conservative” and born-again Christian, pushed a comprehensive immigration reform bill in 2007 that was supported by many business and law-enforcement officials, Sessions railed against what he called the “no illegal alien left behind bill” and led the charge against the failed effort. “Good fences make good neighbors,” he said at a press conference the year before.

Image via RNS/Tom Heneghan

All was apparently going fine until Micha Brumlik, a retired Frankfurt University education professor and respected Jewish commentator, wrote last June that the popular toy was “anti-Jewish, if not even anti-Semitic.”

The problem, he said, was the inscription on the open pages of the Bible that the Playmobil Luther holds. On the left is written in German: “Books of the Old Testament. END,” while the right page says “The New Testament, translated by Doctor Martin Luther.”

Image via RNS/Reuters/Umit Bektas

As Pope Francis officially opened this year’s Christmas Nativity scene in St. Peter’s Square, he said Jesus was a “migrant” who reminds us of the plight of today’s refugees.

Francis told donors who contributed both the Nativity set and an 82-foot tree that the story of Jesus’ birth echoes the “tragic reality of migrants, on boats, making their way toward Italy,” from the Middle East and Africa today.

Image via RNS/Reuters/Mike Segar

Americans voted largely along the lines of race, education, and party identification. Nonwhites strongly preferred Clinton, while whites decisively chose Trump. Compared with past Republicans, the businessman received a stunning surge of votes from non-college-educated white voters.

None of this is surprising.

And yet the result upends so much conventional wisdom. 

Image via /Shutterstock.com

Thank God for the internet.

If you believe in God, that is. For a time, Mike McHargue did, and then he didn’t, and now he does again.

But it’s on the internet where McHargue — better known as “Science Mike” to listeners of “The Liturgists” and “ Ask Science Mike” podcasts — found community when he was questioning his Southern Baptist upbringing and then the atheism he had adopted. And it’s on the internet where he’s forged a community with others like him who can’t comfortably wear either label: Christian or atheist.

Image via /Shutterstock.com

"The Reformation gave at least a segment of Christians access to the Bible in a way that hadn’t happened before. Most of our history has been a rather Bible-less Christianity that was dictated or defined mostly by the hierarchical church, not by people who read the Bible. … We gained the freedom to approach it, and then in the current age, we have ceded that exploration to media, to entertainment forms, to prepackaged interpretations that are delivered in video, audio and pulpit forms so that there’s a substitute Bible that isn’t the Bible, per se, at the same time that people aren’t reading."

Brandon Wrencher 08-16-2016
SpeedKingz / Shutterstock

SpeedKingz / Shutterstock

There’s no standout theme that can be traced through October’s lectionary, which means that teaching and preaching will not be able to rely on the nice packaging of cool titles and catchy series. And those reading devotionally should not expect pet clichés. I suspect we need seasons of spirituality that are off the grid. It reminds me of my friends that live almost completely off the land. They are hard to track, but they maintain an abiding centeredness. Their keen sense of attention to their surroundings and their own bodies is unparalleled, because they have to anticipate both nurture and nature, rhythm and surprise, order and spontaneity.

We will need to be ready for no less surprises, twists, and turns in the lectionary for this month. We will also need the centeredness to act and lead. Scripted leadership and lessons won’t cut it. Improvisation is the skill to cultivate. Samuel Wells offers a framework that will guide us: “Improvisation means a community formed in the right habits trusting itself to embody its traditions in new and often challenging circumstances ... this is exactly what the church is called to do.”

This is the way of wisdom – a far cry from the pop Christianity of our day that offers formulas and platitudes.

The United Methodist Church is struggling to maintain unity amid deep divisions over Scripture and sexuality, the presiding bishop of America’s second-largest Protestant denomination acknowledged.

Over the course of two centuries, the society has been led by a couple of the Founding Fathers and has developed innovative ways of getting the Bible into the hands of the military, disaster victims, and people who speak the world’s languages

Image via REUTERS/Chris Tilley/RNS

What does the Bible have in common with Fifty Shades of Grey or one of John Green’s best-selling young adult novels? For the first time in nearly a decade, the Bible made the list of the American Library Association’s 10 most frequently challenged books last year.

Joel Ebert 04-05-2016

Tennessee state capitol. Image via  / Shutterstock.com

If Haslam signs the bill, the Bible would join a list of state symbols such as the raccoon as the state’s wild animal, the Eastern box turtle as the state reptile, the square dance as the state folk dance, milk as the official state beverage, and the Barrett M82 sniper rifle as the official state rifle, which lawmakers approved earlier in the session.

Image via Nagel Photography / Shutterstock.com

The state’s Senate Judiciary Committee on March 29 gave the green light to a bill that would make the Bible the official book of Tennessee, The Tennessean reports.

Ryan Stewart 03-11-2016
Henry_IX / Twitter

Photo via Henry_IX / Twitter

Every now and then Twitter just nails a hashtag, and defends the fundamental value of the Internet. This time, with #MemeHistory, people are pairing a contemporary “meme” with a famous event from history. Although the theme of #MemeHistory isn’t explicitly religious, many Twitter users couldn’t resist turning to the good book for inspiration. 

All the greatest pieces of biblical drama are there: Jesus' resurrection, the Garden of Eden, Satan tempting of Jesus.

Image via RNS.

Bentov, a combat video journalist who was sent out to cover wars and terror attacks, said he developed the Jerusalem Nano Bible “as a way to generate some positive change in the world.”

“For a long time I felt the need to create something that would help fight the evil and the ugliness I witnessed all around me,” he said. “I wanted to leave something good for my kids and the next generations to come.”

David Jackson 02-23-2016

Image via REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/RNS

Sen. Ted Cruz said he has asked his communications director to resign after spreading a false story on social media about Sen. Marco Rubio.

“Our campaign should not have sent it,” Cruz said Feb. 22 before speaking with supporters at a neighborhood YMCA in Las Vegas.

“That’s why I’ve asked for Rick Tyler’s resignation.”

Image via The Green Collection / RNS

For some months after he returned from England last year, a Montclair State University professor did not realize what a treasure he had found in a rare books library at Cambridge University.

While abroad, Jeffrey A. Miller, an assistant professor of English at the New Jersey school, had acquainted himself with some of the 70 pages of a notebook that had belonged to Samuel Ward, a 17th century biblical scholar. But it wasn’t until Miller returned home, and made a more thorough study of photographs he had taken of its pages, that he understood how stunning a discovery he had made.

The notebook held draft portions of the most enduring English translation of the Bible: the King James Version, which was published in 1611 and named for the newly ascended King James I.

“I am not even sure I believed it initially,” said Miller, describing the moment when he figured out he had seen draft pages from the most widely read work in all of English, including Shakespeare.

Elaina Ramsey 10-01-2015

Image by Amanda Carden / Shutterstock

Bruised and battered in body and spirit, many victims of domestic violence are looking to faith communities for guidance. We must do more to make sure our congregations are safe spaces for survivors of abuse. And that starts with naming the sin of domestic violence in our churches and examining how our own sacred texts have been misinterpreted to condone such abuse.

This October—as part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month—we’re featuring a new online series called Troubling Texts: Domestic Violence in the Bible. With thought-provoking commentary from experts, pastors, and emerging scholars, we'll take a hard look at how scripture has been used to justify domestic violence.

the Web Editors 09-18-2015
YouTube / PBS Newshour

Photo via YouTube / PBS Newshour

Pope Francis’ strident critique of “unbridled capitalism” has turned heads across the globe. Ahead of his upcoming visit to the United States, American politicians, religious leaders, and laypeople are eager to hear how Pope Francis thinks about economics.

Economics correspondent Paul Solman spoke with Jim Wallis and others in a segment for PBS Newshour about why the pope wants us to stop worshiping capitalism.

Jim Wallis explained how Pope Francis’ critique of capitalism matches God’s vision for the world, as well as the ministry and example of Jesus:

Jason Byassee 07-13-2015
TreeofLife

Dr Ajay Kumar Singh / Shutterstock

THE DOG DAYS OF SUMMER can make for a preaching desert without an oasis in sight. This can be a fine time to take a vacation from the lectionary. Huge swaths of scripture go untreated otherwise—the entire Samson cycle, most of the cursing psalms, most of the gospel of John. One friend spends a portion of every year preaching through blockbuster movies and how they intersect with the scriptures. Another devoted a preaching series to favorite children’s books.   

Here in August the lectionary itself seems to take a vacation, visiting the discourse about bread in John’s gospel, inviting us to see every bit of bread, every bite of food, as filled with Jesus. Texts about water invite us to see all water as a sign of the God who creates us in the water of a womb and gives water for our salvation in baptism (an especially apt teaching point for those still sandy-toed from the beach).

A friend’s pulpit has on it “tree of life,” written in Hebrew—inviting all to see trees as reminders of the tree from which our first parents ate fruit forbidden to them, the tree on which Jesus was crucified, and the tree in the City of God whose leaves are for the healing of the nations.

Pages

Subscribe