Category: North America

Does Donald Trump need to repent?

Donald Trump has certainly added spice to the politics-as-usual flavor of the presidential primary season. Whether it is his controversial comments about Mexican immigrants, his critique of John McCain’s status as a war hero, his support of Mike Huckabee’s much-criticized Holocaust analogy, his broadcasting of Lindsey Graham’s cell phone number or his labelling of Hillary Clinton as a…  [more]

California’s drought and a Christian ethic of water

A few miles from the town where I live on the San Francisco peninsula, there is a monument to water: the Pulgas Water Temple. It’s a Beaux Arts-style temple, with a reflecting pool set in a green, grassy lawn. The temple bears these words from Isaiah: “I give waters in the wilderness and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people.” The temple celebrates the 1934 completion of the Hetch Hetchy…  [more]

You named your kid Atticus?! Relax

We knew we wanted our son to have a Swedish first name. One that would balance out the very Spanish last name he’d carry through life and would pay homage to the Swedish half of his gene pool. And so my husband and I created a list, culled from the Internet and my grandmother’s family records. We weeded out ones we couldn’t pronounce or spell and ones deemed just too weird. (Sorry, Torbjörn.…  [more]

Restorative discipline: a gracious alternative to zero tolerance

The problem of school violence, truancy and student drug abuse needs to be addressed. No one disputes that. But it’s becoming clear that the zero-tolerance approach isn’t working. Consider Texas, where in recent years some 60 percent of middle school students will eventually be suspended or expelled at least once. Many of these students risk dropping out and landing in jail instead. Fortunately, it seems…  [more]

Obama’s “Amazing Grace”

American political speech has long drawn on the Bible and Christian theology. President Barack Obama’s eulogy for Rev. Clementa Pinckney, one of the nine people killed in a church shooting June 17, continued in that tradition. Obama drew on the depth of Christian experience primarily to make sense of a terrible event, but also to stir us to action. I’ve argued in my academic work that when speakers evoke…  [more]

The real challenge for the church after SCOTUS’ gay-marriage decision

The United States Supreme Court has declared same-sex marriage as the law of the land. That decision puts yet more pressure on conservative denominations like mine concerning how they will respond to new cultural realities. Can we hold on to our convictions and still engage the wider culture? I first read my church’s stance on homosexuality when I was in college in the 1980s. It struck me as highly progressive…  [more]

The Confederate flag and Christian allegiance

Last week’s racially motivated massacre of nine African-Americans at a South Carolina church has renewed debate over the Confederate flag, which accused killer Dylann Storm Roof can be seen displaying in photos. While some point to this and the flag’s association with groups such as the Ku Klux Klan as evidence that it is an expression of hate, others have argued that it’s simply a symbol of their…  [more]

Dylann Storm Roof and the scandal of forgiveness

During his initial hearing this past Friday, accused murderer Dylann Storm Roof heard words of forgiveness from relatives of those who were killed last week at in Charleston, S.C. Some of the members of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, the site of the shooting, even encouraged him to repent, praying that God would have mercy on him. The reaction, as represented on Twitter, has been a mixture of awe,…  [more]

Why the Charleston church shooting demands more than your prayers

"How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” – Psalm 13:1 The scene was familiar and jarring. With a massive police presence as a backdrop, African-American men and women gathered in a small prayer circle near Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. The historic Charleston, S.C., church had been the site of a massacre during its regular Wednesday night Bible…  [more]

Rachel Dolezal, Caitlyn Jenner and finding identity in Christ

The fluidity of self-identification has been at the forefront of the cultural conversation over the past month. Rachel Dolezal, former head of a local NAACP chapter in Spokane, Wash., and prominent advocate for the black community, has come under fire for identifying as African-American when, in fact, she was born to Caucasian parents. Despite charges of deception and cultural appropriation, Dolezal has continued to…  [more]

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