Word&Way News: March 31
Here’s the weekly roundup from Word&Way. In addition to a report on a sectarian time controversy in Lebanon and a book review of Rebels, Despots, & Saints that are free for anyone to read, paid subscribers to A Public Witness received a reflection on divergent responses to gun violence.
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Top 5 at wordandway.org
Narrow ‘Religious Freedom’ Gains Traction in Texas. Christopher Symms detailed the religious aspects of the political fight in his state over what Gov. Greg Abbott calls the “woke agendas in schools."
How Diasporic Solidarity Can Inform Multifaith Movements. Cassandra Gould made the case that while divisions exist everywhere, the multi-faith interconnectedness and commitment to working together for justice and equity she sees in Ghana is a model for the United States.
Review: Acting in the Wake. Robert D. Cornwall reviewed Acting in the Wake: Prayers for Justice by Walter Brueggemann.
‘Purple Church’ Pastors Mull Leadership Strategies in Polarizing Times. Yonat Shimron reported from a meeting of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina.
Responding to Indigenous Demands, Vatican Rejects Discovery Doctrine. The Vatican formally repudiated the “Doctrine of Discovery” legitimized the colonial-era seizure of Native lands and forms the basis of some property laws today.
This week: Peter Jarrett-Schell on Reparations
Another noteworthy podcast this week:
Author Jeff Sharlet appeared on State of Belief to talk about his reporting across the country on the rise of antidemocratic extremism.
by Brian Kaylor, Word&Way Editor-in-Chief
There’s a trend in Easter services that might be coming to a church near you: dropping thousands of eggs from a helicopter. But before you decide to poach that idea, please consider how it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.
For instance, Clear Lake Baptist Church in Houston, Texas, will drop 3,000 Easter eggs from the sky. Aguilas Centro Familiar Cristiano Church in Las Vegas, Nevada, will send 10,000 eggs raining down. Numerous other churches will participate in this trend over the next week. In addition to the cost of candy and plastic eggs (please only drop plastic ones), booking the helicopter can run several hundred dollars.
This feels like the Easter version of the flying drummer angels in Christmas pageants. The consumeristic values of our society are winning out over the message of Christ crucified.
Lest you think I’m a Scrooge or Grinch (or whatever the Easter version of them is), I’m not inherently opposed to fun things like Easter egg hunts. In fact, I’m a bit of a egg-hunt literalist, so I don’t toss the eggs on top of the grass but instead actually hide them so the pack of kids are still looking for the last couple eggs for quite some time. But there’s a big difference between a simple egg hunt and dumping thousands out from a helicopter flying overhead. And the mindset that leads to the latter must keep going for bigger and wilder gimmicks to compete in our super-size-it culture.
Helicopters pouring out thousands of eggs might attract a crowd, but to what values are we actually converting them? So as the buzzing arrives and the eggs start to fly, perhaps the critique of the angels in Acts 1 still rings true today: “Why do you stand here looking into the sky?”
Other News of Note
Robert Downen of the Texas Tribune reported that a prominent GOP activist in Texas and longtime law partner of Paul Pressler admitted under oath he knew about the allegations that Pressler sexually abused a minor and made unwanted advances toward multiple men. Pressler was one of the two main architects of the rightward shift in the Southern Baptist Convention.
Meagan Saliashvili wrote for Sojourners about the Baptist Sunday School leader who is also the Manhattan District Attorney overseeing the indictment of Donald Trump.
The Episcopal Diocese of New York held a service to formally apologize for its participation in slavery.
Metropolitan AME Church, a historically-Black congregation in Washington, D.C., is seeking millions of dollars in damages from the Proud Boys after the far-right group destroyed church property during a rally in the lead-up to the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
A lobbyist for the Missouri Baptist Convention was criticized by state lawmakers for testifying against adding gender identity to the state’s non-discrimination law since he also serves as chairman of the Missouri Human Rights Commission that enforces the law.
“We put feet to our prayers. You’re going to hear words of comfort but also justice. I think that’s why a lot of people came to us: They know they won’t hear the traditional thoughts and prayers.” —Eric Patton about his church, Belmont United Methodist Church in Nashville, Tennessee, in a Tennessee Lookout article about responses to the school shooting there this week.
Kate Shellnutt of Christianity Today reported on a new statue of Martin Luther King Jr. that is the first to feature him in his role as a preacher.
Iowa Wesleyan University, a 181-year-old Methodist school in Mount Pleasant, announced it will shut down at the end of the semester amid significant financial struggles.
Belgium’s oldest Trappist brewery is worried about its future since fewer people are becoming monks.
Lisa Sharon Harper wrote at her Substack newsletter The Truth Is… about the importance of schools highlighting books that represent our nation’s diversity:
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