the Web Editors 10-14-2011

The clean up of Zucotti Park -- announced by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg yesterday -- by city workers has been scrapped as of early Friday a.m.

The announcement came shortly after 6 a.m. EST, less than an hour before city workers were scheduled to enter the park near Wall Street where thousands of demonstrators have been camped out for nearly a month.

Cathleen Falsani 10-06-2011


Slowly but surely, as media coverage of the #OccupyWallStreet demonstrations in New York and across the country continues to grow, attention is turning toward what the spiritual/religious/faith elements are to the larger political/social/cultural story.

Austin Carty 10-02-2011
In teaching my students the concept of a thesis the other day -- trying to convey that a thesis not just a sentence but rather an overarching statement of what the whole paper will be about -- it occu
Cathleen Falsani 10-02-2011
The idea behind my new book BELIEBER!: Fame, Faith and The Heart of Justin Bieber was to peel back the veneer of celebrity and take a closer look at Justin as a person and as a cultural phenomenon
Timothy King 09-30-2011
I must admit, I was skeptical. Justin Bieber and Jesus -- at least not together -- weren't exactly on my radar.
Austin Carty 09-22-2011
I wrote yesterday of Peter Rollins' new book Insurrection.
Cathleen Falsani 09-21-2011

"I'm finding out as I'm aging that I am in love with the world. And I look right now, as we speak together, out my window in my studio and I see my trees and my beautiful, beautiful maples that are hundreds of years old, they're beautiful. And you see I can see how beautiful they are. I can take time to see how beautiful they are."

Austin Carty 09-21-2011

Last week, Rollins posted the introduction and first chapter of Insurrection on his website, and I devoured it. He really is one of the most challenging thinkers in the Christian world today.

Austin Carty 09-20-2011

autumn readingFor some reason, I associate autumn with good novels.

This makes very little sense, I realize, seeing as it's just as possible for one to stumble upon a good novel in any other season. In fact, if anything, most people are likely to associate summer with good reads.

But for me, it's all about the fall. Always has been, always will be.

Cathleen Falsani 09-20-2011

Mr. Ebert in 2004."I have no interest in megachurches with jocular millionaire pastors," Ebert writes. "I think what happens in them is sociopolitical, not spiritual. I believe the prosperity gospel tries to pass through the eye of the needle. I believe it is easier for a Republican to pass through the eye of a needle than for a camel to get into heaven. I have no patience for churches that evangelize aggressively.

"I have no interest in being instructed in what I must do to be saved. I prefer vertical prayers, directed up toward heaven, rather than horizontal prayers, directed sideways toward me," he continued. "If we are to love our neighbors as ourselves, we must regard their beliefs with the same respect our own deserve."

Jennifer Grant 09-19-2011

218097_19360164080_551149080_224360_2855_nCould my mission really be confined to seeking the best for the children to whom I gave birth? Or, as a Christian, should I define "family" more broadly? I'd see images of women and children suffering around the world, and those puzzling verses returned to my mind. Maybe, instead of obsessing over the happiness of my babies, I should stick my head out of the window, so to speak, look around, and ask, "Who is my family?"

It didn't feel right to simply shrug my shoulders and blithely accept my good fortune as compared to that of people born into extreme poverty. I'd buy my kids their new school clothes and shoes and then think of mothers who did not have the resources to provide their children with even one meal a day. I'd wonder: what's the connection between us? Does the fact that $10 malaria nets in African countries save whole families have anything to do with my family buying a new flat-screen TV? Should it? Is there any connection between me, a suburban, middle class mom, and women around the world?

the Web Editors 09-16-2011

A homeless man on San Francisco's Mission Street. Photo by Franco Folini,

The Gubbio Project, which helps churches become refuges for homeless people throughout the U.S., recently earned a new fan: Author Anne Rice. "When I was in San Francisco, I visited St. Boniface Church in the Tenderloin and was moved by the sight of many peaceful homeless people sleeping in the pews of the church," Rice wrote on her page earlier this month. The author of the Vampire Lestat books and most recently the biblically-themed Christ the Lord novels and her spiritual memoir, Called Out of Darkness, provided her "people of the page" as she calls them, a link to the Gubbio Project where they could donate to "this fine work on the part of the Franciscans of St. Boniface in helping the homeless."

Cathleen Falsani 09-02-2011

110902_liberateeden"The man who can articulate the movements of his inner life," the late Christian apologist and author Henri Nouwen said, "need no longer be a victim of himself, but is able slowly and consistently to remove the obstacles that prevent the spirit from entering."

Throughout the ages, how Christian believers have chosen to articulate their inner lives has had many manifestations in literature, music, architecture, and other artistic endeavors.

As a means of communicating and wrestling with his inner life -- his journey of faith -- Greg Fromholz, an American expatriate youth worker for the Church of Ireland in Dublin, wrote a book titled Liberate Eden, but traditional publishing houses found that his work was a bit too iconoclastic for their tastes.

"It is just too different to be Christian," one publisher pronounced.

Gene Luen Yang 09-01-2011

Why, despite mutual suspicions, Christianity and comics go together like paper and ink.

Julie Polter 09-01-2011

Life Stories

Alison Owings interviewed members of 16 tribal nations for the oral history Indian Voices: Listening to Native Americans, capturing intimate, engaging perspectives from long-overlooked communities. An inspiring antidote to the ignorance many non-Indigenous people may unwittingly hold about contemporary Native American lives. Rutgers University Press

Lauren F. Winner 09-01-2011

The Dream is Freedom: Pauli Murray and American Democratic Faith, by Sarah Azaransky.

Gene Luen Yang 08-25-2011

I remember vividly the first time I went to a comic book shop with my mom. I'd sneaked there before. But this time was different. This time I'd come without pretense, openly confessing my love of the four-color art form. I was in the fifth grade.

While I perused the back issue bins in the middle of the shop, my mother looked from one rack to the next, her face slowly solidifying into a grimace. On one cover, a half-naked green man punched a half-naked rock man in the head. On another, a woman wearing spandex tight enough to be body paint draped herself over some sort of futuristic motorcycle. Eventually, my mother's eyes fell upon the cover of a sword-and-sorcery title near the cash register. Behind a tan, sinewy barbarian stood a harem of women, all wearing thin strips of well-placed linen. We left before I could make a purchase.

Julie Clawson 08-16-2011

So NPR just released the results of their survey for the "Top 100 Science-fiction and Fantasy Books." It's a great list with some of my all-time favorite books on it (although I disagree with their decision not to include young adult books on the list, but that's just me). Some 5,000 books were nominated for the list, but the ones that made the top 100 were mostly ones that were more than just entertaining stories; they are the stories that mean something. Stories that through their imaginings of alternative worlds tap into the power of the prophetic to deliver the message that our world too is not absolute, but imagined and therefore capable of change.

Now, while I have complained in the past about why imaginative challenges to oppressive orders in our world only seem to happen in speculative fictions, the genre still remains my favorite -- often for that very reason. As this recent comparison of women of sci-fi vs. women of prime time shows, there are just so many more substantial ways of being in the world than the status quo generally allows for. Speculative fictions not only present the possibility that the dreams we struggle for now could someday actually be realities, they are also the prophetic voice calling us into that world.