Word&Way News: Jan. 19
Here’s the weekly roundup from Word&Way. In addition to a review of a book about the life and work of Walter Brueggemann that is free for anyone to read, paid subscribers to A Public Witness received a piece on a new congressional caucus report about Speaker Mike Johnson and Christian Nationalism (that cites A Public Witness).
Top 5 at wordandway.org
Chicago Pastors Help the City Grapple with Flood of Migrants. Rebekah Barber reported on how churches in the Windy City are helping migrants shipped there by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.
Review: The God of Monkey Science. Robert D. Cornwall reviewed The God of Monkey Science: People of Faith in a Modern Scientific World by Janet Kellogg Ray.
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry Subject of Clergy Misconduct Complaint Over Handling of Allegations. Kathryn Post reported on allegations against the head of the Episcopal Church.
Nicaragua Releases Imprisoned Catholic Bishop and 18 Priests. The Vatican secured release of several Catholic leaders as Nicaragua continues to target Catholic and other nongovernmental organizations.
MLK Summit for Gaza Highlighted Historic Ties Between Civil Rights and Palestinian Liberation. Ben Norquist wrote about a recent event hosted at Rev. Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition in partnership with the Arab American Institute.
by Brian Kaylor, Word&Way Editor-in-Chief
I recently watched The Burial, a movie based on the true story of a legal fight between funeral companies in the late 1990s. I honestly didn’t know anything about it — other than it starred Jamie Foxx and Tommy Lee Jones, so I figured it would be good. Thus, it surprised me when a key part of the plot included the National Baptist Convention, USA (the largest Black Baptist body in the country).
I won’t spoil what happens in the movie (or in real life), but it had me rereading about denominational controversies and scandals related to that part of the movie. Overall, the movie tells a story in Mississippi about racism and greed. Black pastors were targeted for exploitation and even deceived to help a wealthy corporation make even more money. Poor people were taken advantage of so a rich man could have nicer toys.
The church can be a place that speaks against injustices, but it can also be a place that becomes complicit (sometimes willing, sometimes by accident). How do we avoid advancing racist hatred and exploitative materialism? Partly, the movie tells us, is by remembering. It’s not just people we bury. We bury memories and history. It may not always play out with a dramatic Hollywood court scene, but we must shed light on racism and greed — and those who benefit from such a status quo.
Other News of Note
A Republican state lawmaker in Utah wants to require public schools to display framed copies of an edited version of the Ten Commandments (which is similar to an unsuccessful Texas bill last year reported on by A Public Witness).
About 130 Mennonites were arrested on Capitol Hill as they sang hymns while calling for a ceasefire in Israel-Gaza.
“Being that close to the humanity of an execution, knowing the person who’s being executed, knowing their story, etc., has made the reality of the crucifixion that much more intimate for me. I feel like I have a much better understanding of what someone goes through when they’re to be executed, which has illuminated the entire narrative of Gethsemane through the resurrection.” —reporter Elizabeth Bruenig in an interview with Sojourners about witnessing state executions.
A former chaplain to Queen Elizabeth II warned Prince William against trying to separate the monarchy from the Church of England, arguing the likely future king should “step aside and abdicate” if unwilling to serve as Supreme Governor of the Church of England. (As seen in last year’s coronation of William’s father, King Charles III, such Christian Nationalism remains embedded in the monarchy.)
Robert P. Jones wrote at his Substack newsletter White Too Long on what polling says about evangelical support of Donald Trump:
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