Faith

So Long, Jerry Falwell: Reconsidering Evangelical Public Engagement

Environmentalists, antiwar demonstrators, and Nobel Prize–winning scientists are not always the first people who come to mind when considering the American evangelical. Aside from the occasional post by Jim Wallis on The Huffington Post, those who run in secular circles seldom encounter signs of just how ideologically and philosophically broad the evangelical world is. Thankfully, within the space of a year, two books have assumed the task of exploring key undercurrents of the evangelical community, while acknowledging that a resilient majority remains invested in the culture wars. Collectively, these two books do their readers a great service, challenging the stereotypical perception of evangelicals in ways that may surprise even the evangelical community itself.

One Year In: The Joyful Surprise Of Pope Francis

Today the world celebrates Pope Francis' first year. Notice I didn't say the church is celebrating, but the world. The pope has graced the covers of every magazine from TIME to Rolling Stone over the past year. People all over the world are delighted by the breath of fresh air he has brought. His popularity has moved beyond Catholics to Christians of all kinds, believers from other faith traditions, agnostics, and the "nones," who are very drawn to this pope who emphasizes love and simple living.

One Year In: The Joyful Surprise of Pope Francis

Pope Francis at the Vatican on March 5, giulio napolitano / Shutterstock.com

Pope Francis at the Vatican on March 5, giulio napolitano / Shutterstock.com

Today the world celebrates Pope Francis’ first year. Notice I didn’t say the church is celebrating, but the world. The pope has graced the covers of every magazine from TIME to Rolling Stone over the past year. People all over the world are delighted by the breath of fresh air he has brought. His popularity has moved beyond Catholics to Christians of all kinds, believers from other faith traditions, agnostics, and the “nones,” who are very drawn to this pope who emphasizes love and simple living.

But the pope said last week that he is not a “ superman” and does not want to be a celebrity. He is just trying to talk and live like Jesus, a point he makes repeatedly to shrug off his media darling standing. From the moment he took the name Francis, he made clear his, and thus the church’s priorities: the poor, peace, and the creation. Francis is now challenging the most powerful people and places in the world, as well as a popular culture that mostly asks how we can serve ourselves.

Pope Francis is right: it is not about him; it’s about the Christ he follows. Everything Francis is saying and doing is aimed at pressing this question: Are Christians going to follow Jesus or not? That should be the question on the first anniversary of this new pope. Are we Christians ready and willing to follow Jesus? How can we then serve the world?

14 Faith Leaders To Watch In 2014

3. The “Fast for Families” participants mobilize on behalf of immigration reform legislation. Of the various faith-led protests for immigration reform in 2013, few garnered as much attention as the “Fast for Families” campaign. Organized as a partnership between labor groups, religious organizations, and immigration advocates, a rotating band of participants fasted for weeks in a tent on the National Mall to pressure the House of Representatives to pass comprehensive immigration reform legislation. Led by the storied labor organizer Eliseo Medina, fasters hailed from a variety of professions and backgrounds and included several undocumented immigrants and DREAMers. But organizers also listed a fair number of high-profile religious leaders as participants, such as Gabriel Salguero, president of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition; Sister Simone Campbell, the executive director of NETWORK; Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism; and Jim Wallis, president of Sojourners.

Working Toward Justice in the Way of Jesus

Courtesy Summit Entertainment

'Enders Game' provides good insight into how to win a battle. Courtesy Summit Entertainment

The classic sci-fi novel Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card was adapted on to the big screen in November 2013. The story tells of a brilliant boy, Ender, who trained to battle in a world threatened by a formidable alien race. In the final battle sequence, Ender skillfully devises the perfect strategy, carrying it out ruthlessly to achieve victory against his enemy, effectively wiping out the entirety of the opposing army. Just as the audience exhales from his display of incredible wit and meticulous execution, the chilling plot twist dawns: what Ender assumed to be the final simulation exam was indeed a real, flesh-and-blood battle. Ender had inadvertently committed genocide. 

Enraged by having being manipulated into killing, Ender glowers at his commander, the emotion in his voice drenched with the incomprehensible weight of his new realization, he says,

The way we win matters.

SXSW 2014 Where Faith Joins The Convo

Catherine Woodiwiss (Co-Founder, Trestles Creative Agency) @chwoodiwiss + @trestlestweets Catherine is a journalist, start-up founder, musician, and community-accumulator… Catherine is also a columnist and editor at Sojourners, a leading faith-based social justice blog and advocacy group in DC. Presenter at session: Do It Together Is the New Do It Yourself #sxsw #DIYalive

How To Help Your Child Launch Rockets

In 2014, we have an opportunity to raise our children with a sense of wonder, encouragement, and fulfillment that works for our times. No longer do we have to strongly encourage them to think along the lines of working for a good company, or being ready to have few ambitions beyond being a housekeeper. An interview I heard this week with a human rights advocate named Jim Wallis (@jimwallis) suggested that at one time, there was an unwritten "social charter" that ensured while most working families would never get rich or have a great deal of disposable income, there was always enough. If that is no longer the case, then our children will benefit from our encouragement to dream and think BIG, which requires developing a healthy, dependable connection with them based in love.

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