Wisdom Wednesday | February 21st

AUSCP NewsFebruary 21Roundup

Welcome to Wisdom Wednesday for the first in a series of features on and about the annual assembly, June 24-27 in Lexington. This week, we focus on Jesuit Father Thomas Reese who will give a keynote address on “Eucharist for a Synodal Church: Communion, Mission, Participation.” We’ll provide two links to read Reese’s recent columns in NCR and Religion News Service.

We have many opinion pieces this week, including a strong view from Phyllis Zagano on language used by Donald Trump. Other views are featured, on “the marriage debt,” biblical “manhood” and “biblical womanhood.” And yet another item questions whether school dress codes teach girls that they are responsible for boys’ behavior.

The Christian Century provides a worthy perspective, studying how a Christian can criticize Israel without being anti-semitic.

A new documentary, “God and Country,” gets a mixed review from Religion News Service. Another documentary examines race in the space race.

Pew research offers a cluster of articles on the viewpoints of Americans regarding the southern border.

Thomas Reese: Recent writings

Thomas Reese was an associate editor (1978-85) and editor in chief (1998-2005) at America magazine. He was also a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University (1985-98 & 2006-15) where he wrote Archbishop, A Flock of Shepherds, and Inside the Vatican. Earlier he worked as a lobbyist for tax reform. He has a doctorate in political science from the University of California Berkeley. He entered the Jesuits in 1962 and was ordained a priest in 1974 after receiving a M.Div from the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley.

Get to know him by checking out his recent columns at RNS and NCR. (See the Assembly overview on our website.)

ICYMI – In Case You Missed It

The AUSCP Sunday e-bulletin recently featured “A Contribution to understanding the Bible and Homosexuality” by Dr. Elizabeth Johnson CSJ addressing the issue of homosexuality. Johnson engages modern biblical exegesis and tools developed by Jesuit Father Avery Cardinal Dulles to interpret and discern official church teachings and statements.

News of the week

At the Vatican, the Cardinal Secretary of State says the death of a Russian dissident “surprises us and fills us with sorrow.” Cardinal Pietro Parolin reacted to the death of Alexei Navalny. A report by Vatican News.

A statement released by the Secretaries General of the Justice and Peace Commissions of the European Union calls for the intensification of multilateral efforts to pressure the Russian Federation to end the bloodshed in Ukraine.

Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin also demanded a stop to the carnage in Gaza, commenting on the 30,000 people who have died since the start of the Israel-Hamas war. Another report from Vatican News.

Humanitarian agencies are pushing for an urgent Gaza ceasefire. A letter co-signed by a group of international peacebuilding and human rights organizations, with decades of experience in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, pressures the UK Prime Minister to demand a stop to the Israeli offensive and call for a ceasefire.

Fears mount of an Israeli offensive in Rafah. Palestinians in Rafah are fleeing towards northern Deir al Balah amid fears of an Israeli ground operation.

Amid the global tensions over Gaza, a group of rabbis and scholars of Jewish-Christian dialogue has written a letter to express gratitude to Pope Francis for his “outstretched hand to Jews worldwide” and for “his active opposition to anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism.”

Perspective: Criticism that is not anti-semitic

The Christian Century offers a welcome analysis entitled, “Ten ways Christians can criticize Israel that aren’t anti-Semitic.” Since October 7, many well-intentioned statements have undercut progressive Christians’ moral high ground by invoking antisemitic tropes. It’s an avoidable problem.

Mega-Church shooting

Celebrity pastor Joel Osteen’s Houston megachurch held a special service Sunday dedicated to healing and thanksgiving a week after a woman opened fire in one of its hallways before being gunned down by security officers.

Opinion: Trump’s ‘Language of Evil’

Does anyone really want to watch the news these days? Gaza. Israel. Russia. Ukraine. Migrants. Mass shootings. Executions. Tragedy after disaster after meltdown after debacle. And then there’s Mr. Trump. For Religion News Service, Phyllis Zagano says “The ex-president’s bombastic rhetoric does little to calm any news consumer’s nerves. Nor does it enhance the world’s view of the politics of the United States or its moral character.”

Politics and ‘the common good’

Opinion: Work for the common good, even if it doesn’t benefit you personally. In Catholic teaching, the common good is not a matter of everyone getting the things they want.

‘Marriage debt’ and other notions

The harmful myth of the “marriage debt” in Catholic teaching: Some Catholics are using an outdated and problematic theory to justify sexual coercion in marriage. As a result, Aquinas and others regard marital intimacy less as an expression of an interpersonal relationship and more as a logistical exercise in concupiscence management.

The “biblical manhood” industry is a scam. The church is the last place where cultural stereotypes should be upheld as biblical truth. The sales manager who is a godly husband, father and Bible teacher shouldn’t feel less manly because he doesn’t enjoy the outdoors. The IT guy who does most of the cooking is just as masculine as the one who doesn’t.

Biblical womanhood is not biblical. Beth Allison Barr, author and historian, talked to Religion News Service about where the idea of biblical womanhood comes from, what she believes the Bible actually has to say about the role of women and what it will take for things to change.

A school board repents

Hair styles for Native Americans, hate speech on T-shirts – what’s fair for school dress codes? Do skirt length rules for girls teach them they are responsible for boys’ behavior? A short item from Christian Century teases some thoughts on the matter.

Documentaries of note

“God & Country” shirks its opportunity to confront mainstream evangelicalism. The documentary largely fails to explore its porous boundary with Christian nationalism.

“No one had done it before him” — the groundbreaking stories of Black astronauts. In a new documentary, The Space Race, the people involved with major progress within Nasa talk about their highs and lows.

Pew Research at the border

Americans overwhelmingly fault the federal government for how it’s handled the migrant surge at the country’s southern border. But views differ widely over why migrants are coming to the U.S., proposals for addressing the border situation, and whether it should be described as a “crisis.”

  1. Migrant encounters at the U.S.-Mexico border hit a record high at the end of 2023
  2. How Americans view the border situation
  3. Views on the causes of the migration surge
  4. How to improve the U.S. immigration system
  5. In their own words: Americans’ concerns and feelings about the border situation

Wisdom Wednesday links take visitors to websites providing news and commentary. Views expressed are the views of the writers and their publishers. We respect intellectual property rights.

Support Wisdom Wednesday

We hope you have enjoyed this roundup of recent news about faith, politics, and culture. We will return next week with another edition of Wisdom Wednesday.

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