Word&Way News: Sept. 24

Here’s the top news of the week from Word&Way. In addition to a piece on new survey data about the term “evangelical” that is free for anyone to read, paid subscribers to A Public Witness received an essay this week exploring the moral implications of drone warfare.

A Public Witness
As War Drones On
“We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay.” President Joe Biden took a defiant, even vengeful, tone in his remarks late last month after a terrorist attack killed 13 U.S. military personnel in Kabul, Afghanistan. He added that the U.S. military would be “tracking down the ISIS leaders who ordered this” and “we will ……
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Top 5 at wordandway.org

  1. Behind the Pulpit: Russ Dean. In this latest “behind the pulpit” installment, Beau Underwood interviews a co-pastor of Park Road Baptist Church in Charlotte, North Carolina.

  2. Gathered for Hope. Greg Mamula reflects on a recent discussion with a group of pastors about Matthew 11. He finds the passage helpful for those “exhausted, frustrated, and battle-weary after nearly two years of COVID-19, annual natural disasters, the deaths of beloved saints, dwindling budgets, and abrasive congregants.”

  3. SBC Executive Committee Agrees to Pay for Abuse Review, Stalls on Waiving Privilege. Bob Smietana reports on how the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention refused to waive its attorney-client privilege amid an investigation on clergy sexual abuse — despite the fact that SBC messengers voted for such waving of privilege.

  4. Women Making Strides in Leadership of Black Denominations Amid Hesitancy. Adelle M. Banks reports on some progress — and lack thereof — of gender equality in denominational leadership.

  5. Kenyan Christians Debate Political Campaigning at Church. Fredrick Nzwili reports about efforts by Anglican, Presbyterian, and Roman Catholic leaders to ban politicians from speaking during church services ahead of next year’s election for president and members of the National Assembly and Senate.

Other News of Note

Journalist Chris Moody spoke with the artist of a new memorial in Chattanooga, Tennessee, that remembers Ed Johnson, an innocent Black man lynched there in 1906. The New York Times piece also includes several photos of this powerful new work.

Dangerous Dogma

This week: Jen Butler on Who Stole My Bible?

Quick Take

by Brian Kaylor, Word&Way Editor-in-Chief

Yesterday (Sept. 23), the Washington National Cathedral, an Episcopal church in the nation’s capital, announced an artist to design two new stained-glass windows. The building currently features plywood covering up empty window areas in the massive sanctuary that has hosted presidential funerals, inaugural prayer services, and special events like the 9/11 national memorial service.

But the windows aren’t gone because of vandals. In 2017, the cathedral removed the windows honoring Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. That prophetic decision came after the deadly White Supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. The move was necessary to protect the integrity of the cathedral as a house of prayer for all people. Frankly, it should have happened much sooner. To enshrine Confederate generals as saints and the Confederate flag as a religious icon in a sanctuary profanes that holy space. The windows substituted a lost cause theology that defended slavery for the liberating love of the Gospel.

Now, artist Kerry James Marshall, a Black man with a celebrated career of depicting Black life in his works, will create new windows to honor racial justice. This is what redemption literally looks like. The building itself, not just the pulpit, will preach God’s radical, inclusive love. Hopefully this action by the cathedral will inspire more churches to think carefully about what their own buildings communicate ... and make changes. As Winston Churchill wisely noted, “We shape our buildings and afterwards our buildings shape us.”

Photo of the Week

Artist Kerry James Marshall poses for a portrait in the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 23, 2021, after being selected to design a replacement of former Confederate-themed stained-glass windows. (Andrew Harnik/Associated Press)

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