In the summer of 430, the great Christian writer and bishop Augustine of Hippo lay dying as barbarians besieged his North African city – basically a mop-up operation in the slow-motion fall of the Roman Empire.
Today, in the fall of the year 2016, a lot of Christians can relate.
So I am writing this to you, the pastors and spiritual leaders of congregations of Christians all across America. I am asking about your pastoral and prophetic responsibilities as we approach this historic election with potential consequences that we have never seen before in our lifetimes.
Hoping for divine intervention – or Jewish votes – Donald Trump wrote a short prayer to be inserted in between the stones of the Western Wall.
Trump’s team photographed and sent a copy of the handwritten prayer to Ynet News and Yedioth Ahronoth, Israeli sister publications. The original was handed to David Faiman, a Trump advisor, who was heading to Israel, the news outlets reported.
On Monday, Oct. 31, in Sweden, Pope Francis will take part in an ecumenical service commemorating the beginning of the Protestant Reformation’s 500th year.
It is stunning to think the start of this momentous anniversary features a visit from the Roman pope.
And it raises a question: Does the Reformation still matter?
After quietly removing panes bearing the Confederate flag from its stained-glass windows, leaders of the Washington National Cathedral are now wondering what to do about remaining images of Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson.
"How can you justify having those windows in a house of God?" challenged Riley Temple, a former board member of the Washington National Cathedral's foundation.
The incident seems like a straightforward hate crime: Swastikas sprayed in and around the New Jersey home of an Indian-American running for Congress earlier this month.
But the vandalism is steeped in religious and ethnic irony.
The site where, nearly 2,000 years ago, the Roman army breached the outer walls of ancient Jerusalem, before capturing the city and destroying the Second Jewish Temple, has been discovered, the Israel Antiquities Authority says.
Archaeologists made the discovery last winter, during an exploratory survey at a future construction site, the IAA said on Oct. 20.
Amazigh was one of 125 queer Muslim activists and allies who came together for The Inner Circle’s seven-day Annual International Retreat, from Oct. 14 to Oct. 21, in South Africa. The gathering focused on “building a movement towards an all-inclusive and compassion-centered Islam,” a mammoth task for attendees like Amazigh who live in countries where homosexuality and transgender expression are often taboo and criminalized.
Scholars of Dylan — and they are legion, with many offering entire courses on the singer’s record catalog — have long highlighted the religious imagery of his work. From Old Testament references in “All Along the Watchtower” (1967) and “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” (1976) to the New Testament basis of “Gotta Serve Somebody” (1979) and the spiritual yearning of “Thunder on the Mountain” (2006), Dylan’s lyrics and music have long reflected his own restless, seeking soul.
In the two decades since his death from a heart attack at age 64, Nouwen’s popularity and influence have spawned at least five biographies. His reflections on faith, loneliness, vulnerability, love, prayer, social justice, and sexuality have won over modern audiences.
But this beloved priest had an even more intimate side, known only to those who corresponded with him privately.
What’s your number?
It’s not a pickup line. At least, it wasn’t at the pre-conference portion of an event called “Why Christian?,” which was back for its second year at Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago.
No, this inquiry is actually just a standard part of the Enneagram, an ancient personality typing system that recently has exploded in popularity in Christian circles.
The Internal Revenue Service has reclassified one of the most famous Christian organizations, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
At the request of the Graham organization, the IRS changed its tax status from a nonprofit to an “association of churches,” The NonProfit Times reported on Sept. 26. The change was made last November.
The change means the 66-year-old Christian organization no longer has to file what the IRS calls Form 990, a public statement of its financial information, including salaries for top officials. It will continue to publish an annual financial report, available to the public on its website.
Mother Teresa, the tiny nun who devoted her life to the poor, was declared a saint by Pope Francis at the Vatican as he celebrated her “daring and courage,” and described her as a role model for all in his year of mercy.
At least 120,000 people crowded a sun-drenched St. Peter’s Square for the canonization of the acclaimed nun who may have worked in the slums of Kolkata but was a force to be reckoned with by political and religious leaders around the world.
No matter where we are, the climate crisis is not far from home.
For some time it has largely been the world’s most vulnerable, in the global south, bearing the brunt of suffering and climate-induced devastation. Those who have the power to change things have so far all but ignored “the cry of the poor and the cry of the earth,” as Pope Francis wrote in his encyclical a little over a year ago.
But just this past month in the United States — one of the world’s wealthiest nations — we have seen historic droughts, unprecedented floods in Louisiana, and wildfires in California, killing many and displacing tens of thousands.
In 1947 and 1948, respectively, Christian scholars C.S. Lewis and Reinhold Niebuhr appeared on the cover of Time magazine.
Since then, commentators have bemoaned the disappearance of the Christian intellectual.
Powerful social changes are behind the apparent decline: increasing pluralism, secularization, the decline of Protestant hegemony, and the supposed triumph of science over faith as the best way to understand the modern world.
Photography has taken Jeremy Cowart around the world.
Cowart — recently featured in Christianity Today’s “Makers” issue and named the “Most Influential Photographer on the Web” by The Huffington Post — has photographed the Passion World Tour in 2008 and Britney Spears’ Circus World Tour in 2009.
He’s photographed Haitians after the 2010 earthquake, holding pieces of debris on which they’d written their thoughts and prayers, for a photo project that later was displayed at the United Nations.
And he’s stayed at a lot of hotels. Which got him thinking: What if a hotel could do more than just provide a place to stay for a night?
IN FALL 1884, the congregation that became Temple Israel opened its doors as the first Jewish synagogue in the state of Nebraska. From its inception, Temple Israel was a Reform congregation, a theologically progressive denomination that stresses the social justice imperatives of Judaism. Yet the early members of Temple Israel included not just Reform Jews, but Conservative and Orthodox Jews as well; navigating these interdenominational relationships would prove to be a significant part of the congregation’s early development.
Fast forward 130 years and Temple Israel is one of three houses of worship embarking on a unique interfaith partnership: a single campus in west Omaha that will house a Jewish synagogue, a Muslim mosque, a Christian church, and a fourth building for interfaith fellowship.
Aryeh Azriel, Temple Israel’s senior rabbi, planted the seeds for this project, known as the Tri-Faith Initiative, in 2006 when he reached out to the American Muslim Institute, another local religious community that was looking to construct a new building.
“The original idea started as a result of looking for a partnership in sharing parking lots,” Azriel told Sojourners.
The two communities had forged a relationship in 2001 when, following the Sept. 11 attacks, Azriel led members of Temple Israel in encircling a local mosque to protect it from the Islamophobic attacks they were seeing in the national news.
Syed Mohiuddin, president of the American Muslim Institute, agreed to the partnership; he liked the idea of the two religious groups sharing a parking lot with each other rather than with retail stores or other commercial development. However, it didn’t take long for the two communities to realize the project had greater potential than a shared parking lot. If they could find Christians willing to join them, they could build a shared campus for all three Abrahamic faiths, the first such campus in the world—at least to their knowledge.
A reporter asked Pope Francis, "Can a good catholic vote for this man [Trump]?" And Francis answered honestly.
“A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian," said Francis.
Although Francis did not directly refer to Trump, his implication is fairly clear, and strong.
Catholic Charities is giving out water and food. The Flint Jewish Federation is collecting water and water filters. And the Michigan Muslim Community Council has distributed more than 120,000 bottles of clean water for Flint, Mich. But these faith organizations are also focused on a longer-term goal: to make sure the impoverished city, where President Obama last weekend declared a state of emergency over its poisoned water, is never so neglected again.
Hate crimes in America dipped across the board in 2014, except in the category of anti-Muslim crimes, which rose about 14 percent over the prior year. Given the barbaric Islamic State attacks in Paris last week and elsewhere recently, that latter trend seems destined to accelerate.
The presence of hate crimes against Muslims is no new phenomenon. Prior to the 9/11 attacks, there typically recorded between 20-30 hate crime against Muslims per year and after 2001 that number rose to nearly 500.
This summer, we saw the murder of three Muslim students in Chapel Hill, N.C. On Nov. 15 in London, a man pushed a Muslim woman into an oncoming underground train. And on Thanksgiving Day, a man in a taxicab in Pittsburgh, Pa., shot his driver in the back for being Muslim.
These incidents do not need to be listed as statistics to validate reality but they do need to be heard.