In the latest issue of the Century, Philip Jenkins writes about how the veneration of Mary cuts across religious difference in Egypt. Egypt was the place where Mary first lit up the imaginations of Christians, but apparently her appeal is not limited by culture or religious heritage. Lately I’ve come across a couple of enchanting books that illuminate this for me.
Like many others, I have lived the last few weeks from one devastating news event to the next, aching for the people lost and left hurting from mass shootings, trying to imagine myself into the shoes of refugees and those caught in the Syrian War, letting the pain of Paris, San Bernardino, Colorado Springs, and the U.S. presidential campaign compound my sense of the world’s terrors, wondering if I can do something to stop the madness.
But while these thoughts have been in my head, I encountered, or re-encountered, a powerful song.
A few years ago, I spent some time in Williston, North Dakota, to witness the social effects of the oil boom on this small town. While I was there, I went to Concordia Lutheran Church and talked with then-pastor Jay Reinke about his Overnighters program. This was an attempt by Reinke—we can’t quite say it was an attempt by the church—to provide a space where people could sleep.
In Williston, I learned that Jesse Moss was working on a documentary about the program. Recently I finally watched that award-winning film, The Overnighters. I have been haunted by it ever since.
Early last summer, the Obama administration opened a detention center in the remote town of Artesia, New Mexico, in order to detain Central American women who cross the southern border with their children. The facility was a centerpiece of the administration’s policy of family detention, which aims to “send a message,” as Department of Homeland Security secretary Jeh Johnson said, that asylum seekers from these countries are not welcome.