There are so many horrific events in the news. What do we do with the tumult of feelings that rushes through us when we hear about them? How do we navigate this world of lightning-fast news and online echo chambers where we can block particular perspectives and opinions? In these charged, gut-wrenching times, how do we process information and determine what course of action might align with our values?
In seminary a professor assigned “reaction/response papers.”
American Christianity has faced theological-political crises before. Repeatedly, visions of what is possible for the nation have fallen short of reality. In the past, periods of change pushed faithful people to reconsider what they believed, not only about the nation but also about the meaning of God’s call to justice. In each critical moment, for good or ill, Americans altered their religious views, and the horizon of what was possible expanded or contracted.
In revolutionary America, disunity resulted from debates over whether faith required obedience to the king or a revolt.
On Sunday, after a tragic week of race-related killings in Dallas, Minneapolis, and Baton Rouge, I took a seat in my white evangelical middle-class megachurch in central Pennsylvania. I didn’t know what to expect, but as the sermon began I found myself pleasantly surprised.
My pastor used his scheduled sermon on the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25–37) to address the issue of race in America.
The concept of race headlines many discussions in America. If you are talking about education, then you must address the achievement gap between white and black students. If you are talking about poverty, then you must talk about the disproportionate number of people of color who consume social services. If the conversation is about crime, you are pressed to mention the high number of African American male inmates.
It’s the fog of race: prejudice and discrimination applied to pigmentation-neutral topics.
We are living in a time of nativism around the globe. Britain just voted to leave the European Union based on Euroscepticism. The Alternative for Germany movement aims to do the same for the EU’s largest remaining nation, while France’s National Front Party and Italy’s Northern League have grown in power over the last decade. And in the U.S., the Republican Party has nominated a candidate whose platform includes building a giant wall on the border.
Imagine Jennifer Doudna working in the lab overnight, her eyes sore, her head pulsing, and her mind swirling with an existential crisis. Utilizing a bacterial cell’s self-defense mechanism, the geneticist has mastered the ability to reproduce and guide gene-editing technology, otherwise known as CRISPR-Cas9. This technology could save countless lives, cure genetic diseases, and reverse the effects of cancer. But it could also advance efforts at human enhancement, leading to a revival of modern eugenics.
In December, the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine held a three-day summit on CRISPR technology.
Conservative religious people decry what they see as a liberal media unsympathetic to their worldview. Liberal Protestants and Catholics wonder why the media deploys the umbrella term “Christians” but seems to mean mostly people who sound nothing like them. People of other faiths may wonder why they rarely appear in the news except to represent extremism of some form. It seems as if the media aids rather than ameliorates the growing polarization of the American populace.
Eighty-nine years ago an interfaith group of activists and religious and political leaders aimed to use the nascent radio and movie industries to bring people of different faiths, races, and ethnicities together.
Gregory the Great, pope from 590-604 AD, wrote the Pastoral Rule to strengthen the office of the episcopacy following the fall of Rome. Widely read throughout Europe by bishops and laypeople, this treatise describes how bishops should lead, teach, live their lives, and govern others.
The Pastoral Rule was intended to reshape and empower bishops following the spiritual, cultural, and economic deterioration of the Roman Empire.