Word&Way News: Aug. 12
Here’s the weekly roundup from Word&Way. In addition to a review of Beth Allison Barr’s The Making of Biblical Womanhood that is free for anyone to read, paid subscribers to A Public Witness received a report on religion on display at the Conservative Political Action Conference.
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Top 5 at wordandway.org
The View From Within. Sarah Blackwell considered how to go about learning who we truly are at our core through engaging in a few specific practices that might help bring clarity.
Review: Freeing Jesus. Robert D. Cornwall reviewed Freeing Jesus: Rediscovering Jesus as Friend, Teacher, Savior, Lord, Way, and Presence by Diana Butler Bass.
Progressive National Baptists, AFL-CIO Reunite for Midterms Voter Initiative. Adelle M. Banks reported on a Black Baptist convention reviving a partnership from the 1960s with a prominent union.
Why the Largest U.S. Lutheran Denomination Apologized to a Latino Congregation. Emily McFarland Miller reported from the meeting of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America on the latest in a monthslong controversy.
ReAwaken Tour Host Pastor Says He Feels Harassed by N.Y. Prosecutor. A Christian pastor in western New York said he felt intimidated and harassed after the state’s attorney general warned about potential legal action if “extremist” rhetoric by speakers this weekend spurs violent or unlawful conduct.
This week: Greg Carey on Public Biblical Interpretation
Another good podcast this week:
Amanda Held Opelt, sister of the late Rachel Held Evans, was the guest on The Bible for Normal People to talk about the honesty of grief.
Other News of Note
Linda Greenhouse wrote for the New York Times about problems with Justice Samuel Alito’s recent speech on religious liberty. (That speech was similarly covered last week in A Public Witness.)
Law professor Kimberly Wehle wrote for Politico about how rulings from this past U.S. Supreme Court term pose a serious threat to the separation of church and state.
Nathan Empsall of Faithful America wrote for The Daily Beast about why Christians should reject Christian Nationalism. (Hear more from Empsall on this topic in a recent Dangerous Dogma episode.)
Jane Mayer of The New Yorker reported about the rise of far-right politics at state legislatures, including advocacy efforts of the Christian Right.
Anthea Butler wrote for MSNBC about a recent U.S. visit of the superior general of the Jesuits to wonder why he doesn’t meet with some of the descendants of the enslaved that Jesuits sold to finance keep the first Jesuit university in America running.
Hannah McClellan of Christianity Today reported on the record number of women ordained by the Assemblies of God.
Joshua Eaton reported for Sojourners about how “churches are forgiving medical debt for pennies.”
Jessica Tezak of the Washington Post reported about a pastor who became a lifeline for trapped congregants amid recent floods in Kentucky.
At his Substack newsletter Footnotes, Jemar Tisby has started releasing a 10-part video series called “Those Meddling Kids: Unmasking the Anti-CRT Crusade in Christian Higher Ed.”
by Beau Underwood, Word&Way Senior Editor
The influence of the musical Hamilton is almost impossible to measure. Breaking records on and off Broadway, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s creative look at America’s founding moments has captivated American culture. Alongside that societal sway comes a host of imposters and imitations.
Counterfeit tickets proved an early problem. A Texas church’s unlicensed adaptation sparked a more recent controversy.
Earlier this month, The Door Church in McAllen, Texas, performed a version of the play. Offered as part of an evangelism strategy, the church version featured Alexander Hamilton giving his life to Jesus (which, spoiler alert, is not in the original). The performance also provoked outrage when a pastor’s altar call referenced homosexuality as a sin.
Debates on social media stirred about the church’s ethics and the harm (or lack of) caused by the performance. Hamilton (the owners of the show’s intellectual property, not Alexander himself) sent the congregation a cease and desist letter.
Personally, this whole episode recalled college debates about the awfulness of Christian cultural productions. Those conversations centered on why religious books, movies, and music were either poor knockoffs of secular culture or corny attempts to reach non-Christian audiences with biblical stories.
While there’s been modest improvement, Christian cultural productions remain hit-and-miss. But the question still begs an answer. Given the power of the Christian message, why does a church feel the need to pretend Jesus received Alexander Hamilton’s endorsement? Even more pressing, why do churches across the theological spectrum struggle to tell the basic story of God’s love for the world in a captivating way?
Photo of the Week
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