I have never had the privilege of a faith community catered to my cultural background.
Although born to a Taiwanese family, I was exposed to a Western education (at age 10); far too young to relate to local Taiwanese children. And yet with my dark hair and yellow skin, love for barbecued squid on a stick, and fluency in two Chinese languages, I was certainly a foreigner to American ways.
Some small good news for American low-wage workers: Walmart is increasing its wages at the low end. By April, no Walmart employee will make less than $9 an hour; a year from now it’ll be $10. The retailer is also moving to improve its scheduling practices, a source of worker complaints.
Walmart’s decision is a voluntary one, made for business reasons.
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.
Loving the people I don’t like. That was my Lenten discipline last year, and it is again. I’ve not made much progress in the last 12 months. It started with some prayerful reflection on what it means to love God and neighbor as the most important part of fulfilling the deepest intention of the law. Neighbors are not always easy to love, especially if you don’t like them. The generalized Christian claim that “I love everybody” just doesn’t cut it.
While I welcomed people with open arms, I also had a lurching gut. Because as much as I wanted to pat myself on the back and believe that they would be utterly free of disappointment, I knew that they wouldn’t. I would mess up. The church would let them down. Sooner or later, they would find out that they exchanged one set of issues for another.
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.