engagement

Image via RNS/ Emily McFarlen Miller 

The outgoing president encouraged Americans to listen better and try harder, to realize that “science and reason matter,” to assume the best of others. That’s important in a time, he said, when it’s “become safer to retreat into our own bubbles, whether in our neighborhoods or college campuses or places of worship or our social media feeds, surrounded by people who look like us and share the same political outlook and never challenge our assumptions.”

Photo via Cathleen Falsani / RNS

Pope Francis officiated the weddings of 20 couples at St. Peter’s Basilica in September 2014. Photo via Cathleen Falsani / RNS

The wedding season is in full swing, and Pope Francis used the occasion on May 27 to warn couples not to marry too quickly, while also reaffirming the Vatican’s opposition to gay nuptials.

Addressing crowds of followers at his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square, the pontiff urged couples to take their engagement seriously.

“Betrothal is, in other words, the time in which two people are called to work on love, a shared and profound task,” he said.

Image via Mangsaab/shutterstock.com

Image via Mangsaab/shutterstock.com

It was difficult to be a Hoosier last week, particularly as one caught in the crossfire between Indiana’s narrow-minded lawmakers on the Right and the rage of the political Left. The battle cry “Boycott Indiana!” reverberated through social media channels even though many Hoosiers vehemently oppose the discriminatory new RFRA law. My very own neighborhood mourned one of the casualties of this battle: a major economic development that was canceled when the funders heard about RFRA.

It was amidst this firestorm that I read Gareth Higgins’ superb essay “A Newsfeed of Fear” (Sojourners, May 2015). Given my present frame of mind, Higgins didn’t have to twist my arm to convince me that fear was a prevalent factor in the version of reality that we are fed through media channels.

Higgins’ essay reminded me of the prophetic hope of the Israelite people that is repeated throughout the Hebrew Bible: “None shall make them afraid.” If God’s people are indeed shaped by a perfect love that casts out fear, how then, I wondered, do we begin embodying an alternative to the newsfeed of fear in the way that we read, tell, and embody stories?

Higgins suggests that the answer to this question involves practicing the virtues of context, compassion, attention to detail, and pause. Space didn’t allow Higgins to elaborate on these virtues, so I would like to suggest my own interpretation and offer an additional fifth: gratitude.

 

Christian Piatt 03-26-2015
Screenshot from 'Pop Up Church.'

Screenshot from 'Pop Up Church.'

My friend sent this link to me the other day, as it’s something we’re considering doing ourselves. The idea is simple, though would take some effort and a little courage to do well.

You get artists, singers, musicians willing to go out into the streets and share their music with anyone they meet, in a spirit of engagement, community, and purveyors of joyfully selfless and unexpected moments.

You go where the people are (sound familiar?).

You have a purpose (not to recruit people into your church; that’s selfish and not something I remember Jesus focusing on as much as being a healer and servant).

You give everyone you encounter an opportunity both to participate and to engage the cause.

This (below) is a pop-up church in a train station in the U.K. Personally I could have done without the giant crosses in the middle — but if nothing else, it helped share attention with the people involved, which should be part of the point. They’re inviting people into a sort of flash-mob singalong of “Lean on Me,” a spot-on choice for Good Friday in my universe. Then people are given a chance to drop a few coins, some food, or whatever they have to give into a donation space for a local book bank.

WATCH: Pop Up Church

Jack Palmer 12-12-2011

There has been a lot of anger levied at the very wealthy since the Occupy movement began back in September. There is no doubt that much of this anger is justified – righteous indignation, if you will.

The ways that people have become extremely wealthy have often been corrupt or immoral, whether or not they are technically "legal." Part of the reason that the Occupy movement sprang up was because people felt that there were different rules for "us and them." People who lost millions of dollars in what was effectively high-stakes gambling were pardoned with little more than a slap on the wrist, while regular families lost everything in a crisis they had no hand in.

As I say, there has been, and still is, much anger. But out of that anger must come something new, something tangible and real.

Cathleen Falsani 10-11-2011

Last week, Sojourners CEO, the Rev. Jim Wallis, visited with #OccupyWallStreet demonstrators in New York City. "As I listen to them, I recognize what I felt as a young student-activist in the late '60s and early '70s," Wallis said. "I just feel from them what I felt a long time ago, that we're part of something much bigger than us, much larger than us...The visceral feeling [here] is, 'This could really change things.'"

Kal Penn 09-29-2011
[caption id="attachment_34241" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Kal Penn speaks at a Democratic rally at University of Southern California, October 2010.
Eugene Cho 08-15-2011

Do yourself a favor and watch this. It's 7:15 minutes long but well worth your time.
Such a substantive leadership lesson in itself by Bill Hybels as he explains why Howard Schultz withdrew his commitment as a speaker at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit (held on August 11-12). And furthermore, how he and Willow Creek are responding

Jim Wallis 07-29-2011

John Stott died this Wednesday. He was 90 years old. What many people don't understand is that he was the most influential 20th-century evangelical leader in the world, with the exception of Billy Graham. Stott became the Anglican rector of All Souls Church in downtown London at the age of 29 in 1950, and he stayed there for his entire ministry. But from his parish at Langham Place in the city's West End, and right across from BBC headquarters, John Stott spoke to the world with 50 books that sold 8 million copies. He also traveled the globe , speaking, teaching, convening, mentoring, and bird watching -- a personal passion.

Perhaps the most telling thing about this man is all the personal stories about "Uncle John" that the world is now hearing, from many Christian leaders around the world who were profoundly influenced, encouraged, and supported by John Stott. And secondly, how such a giant in the Christian world remained so humble, as testified to by those who knew him who say how "Christ-like" he was.

Tom Andrews 07-05-2011

We cannot allow the history of a brutal genocide to repeat itself in Sudan, nor denial and inaction to repeat itself in Washington, D.C., but both are happening at this very moment

Charles Gutenson 05-09-2011
For the longest time, when Christians have thought about political engagement, they have often begun the discussion with the question: What is the biblical role of government?
Evan Trowbridge 04-27-2011
Piercing through the bitter, partisan bickering regarding the nation's budget, an unprecedented and diverse group of Christian leaders announced today the forming of a Circle of Protection agains
Recently, I read an article featuring a pastor with whom I had strong disagreements. The more I read, the less I liked -- and it was a long article.
Eugene Cho 12-29-2010
In light of an unsuccessful campaign to become the president of my middle school as an eighth grader, I have no plans on entering politics and running for political office.
Lisa Sharon Harper 12-14-2010
Last week I sat at a breakfast table with prominent New York City faith leaders. The topic of the morning was: "In this post-election moment, what issues are you passionate about?
Jim Wallis 12-08-2010
My life changed when I went to a Christian festival in the UK in the 1990s. The same could happen to you if you come to the Christian music and social justice festival happening in the U.S.
Kathy Khang 11-12-2010
I haven't had the energy to sit down in a while to blog. Somewhere between the multiple Google calendars and multiple modes of communication life over-shared with me.
Rachel Cohen 10-01-2010
This past Tuesday, five months and 5 million barrels of oil after the BP spill disaster began to devastate the eco- and economic systems of the Gulf Coast, the Obama administration launched the nex
Troy Jackson 06-15-2010
Over the past decade, discussions about justice have reached a tipping point in the evangelical world.
Laura Truax 06-09-2010
Several years ago, I visited a slave castle along the coast of Ghana, West Africa. This castle was one of the primary centers for shipping slaves from Africa to the New World.

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