WASHINGTON (RNS) American presidents need wisdom, integrity, good judgment and humility. They should, if they are inclined, be free to draw strength from belief in and devotion to God. What’s more, Americans prefer their presidents to have religious faith.
A few weeks ago, I was feeling nostalgic. It was the fifth anniversary of my family’s pilgrimage from Southern California to suburban Chicago for my interview weekend at First Congregational Church of Western Springs. It feels odd to call it that, though; it wasn't so much an interview as a time of holy conversation, prayer, worship, laughter, feasting, and fellowship. The terms of my call were unofficially worked out at a kitchen table while the Super Bowl droned on in the other room.
With an authorization looming in Congress for our ongoing war against the so-called Islamic State, a muddled conversation has sprung up about the group’s relationship to mainstream Islam, its relationship to American and European policy in the region, and the military and political measures needed to counter it. Graeme Wood interviewed scholars and activists to shed light on what ISIS is trying to accomplish and why. His resulting story—a long tour through the theology, history, and practice of this particularly brutal offshoot of Salafist Islam—is alarming, not least to Wood himself.
On Shrove Tuesday 2010, I ate my last piece of golden, delicious sausage while listening to “When the Saints Go Marching In.” A Lenten practice of consuming no meat unfolded, followed by a turkey-less Thanksgiving, and an Advent with rice and beans.
There were two reasons for my going cold turkey as a vegetarian: survival in an interfaith marriage to a devout Hindu, and a spiritual exploration of what it might mean to practice nonviolence and environmental sustainability as a Christian vegetarian.
(RNS) Deah Barakat took my class “Islam in the Modern World” at North Carolina State University a few years ago. He was curious about Islamic history and contemporary spiritual and political movements, and he was great in class discussions. I’ve taught thousands of students in the last 11 years here, but Deah stood out for his enthusiasm, kindness, calm demeanor, and obvious charisma.
Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu-Salha, and Razan Abu-Salha were the very best of people.
(RNS) When I was a young girl, my mother taught me to add “x” and “o” — a kiss and a hug — after my signature. So deeply embedded was this English-language tradition that it never crossed her mind that these symbols had anything to do with religion.
Last month, I spent some time at the Sundance Film Festival. In a recent post, I noted the difference between marketing films to Christians and the possibility of film as a transformative space in the life of a Christian. Instead of imagining Christians as a set audience whose worldview we don’t want to disturb, I wonder if we could use Christianity’s specific theological language to enliven our understanding of film. Could Christianity’s theological lens illuminate elements of film that other cultural perspectives miss?
Perhaps the best example of this possibility that I saw at Sundance came from watching the Justin Kelly film I am Michael.
Langston Hughes challenged our consciousness by asking, “What happens to a dream deferred?” What results when hope, aspirations, callings, and promises are delayed, put off, postponed, or thwarted? Were they flawed expectations? Do such deferred dreams become burdensome desires that fade and never manifest, forever haunting us?
Six months after Michael Brown was fatally shot by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri—where I serve as a pastor—there are families still wrestling with the question, “What would have happened if...?”