Wisdom Wednesday | March 20th

AUSCP NewsMarch 20Roundup

Welcome to Wisdom Wednesday. We salute Dr. Ansel Augustine, USCCB’s new African-American liaison whose efforts receive the attention of a virtual prayer service today. We find a serious proposal, a reasoned opinion, that Christian denominations can be saved from extinction by having part-time pastors. A well-intentioned Holocaust exhibit is viewed differently because of the war in Gaza.

Maybe it is the change of seasons that can be blamed for some oddities in this week’s collection of reports and opinions – such as a film documentary supporting the notion that Jesus was a vegetarian (even though we know from John 21 that he grilled fish for his disciples). It premiers tonight. Movie reviews this week praise Cabrini and find a great personal questioning in The Zone of Interest.

A review of a book by an “Exvangelical” brings up Jesus and John Wayne, James Dobson and Donald Trump.

Some stories about the Bible are included this week: The American Bible Society celebrates 200 years, but closes its $60 million Scripture Center. A Scripture scholar believes much of the New Testament was dictated to slaves; she calls them God’s Ghostwriters.

Articles this week suggest usage for church property after churches close, what Mennonites and Muslims are learning in dialogue, and how one Christian theologian compared his commitments to God and basketball.

‘Voice of African-American Catholics’

A virtual prayer service today (March 20) will honor Dr. Ansel Augustine, the U.S. bishops’ new African-American liaison. He is a former diocesan official returning to D.C. to help lead the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee on African-American Affairs. The Subcommittee on African American Affairs (SCAAA) is the official voice of the African American Catholic community. Information about Augustine’s appointment comes from the Black Catholic Messenger.

Holocaust exhibit revisited

A Holocaust exhibit seemed harmless. With the war in Gaza, however, it’s come under scrutiny. The US Holocaust Memorial Museum exhibit, “Some Were Neighbors,” has been traveling across the country for the past two years. Religion News Service reports a coalition of North Carolina residents says it presents a narrow view of genocide.

Was Jesus vegetarian?

A new ‘Christspiracy’ documentary film will show tonight (March 20) in some 650 theaters worldwide. Who could come to such a conclusion? A writer for Religion News Service hears from one of the filmmakers that “He was one of the most hardcore animal activist.”

Denominations’ ‘existence threatened’

Mainline Protestant denominations have a clergy problem so severe that it’s threatening their existence. They also have a solution at their fingertips. They’re just not using it enough. RNS presents an opinion piece by G. Jeffrey MacDonald.

The Exvangelical plight: ‘Hurting because we followed the rules’

A book review says NPR reporter Sarah McCammon’s memoir of growing up evangelical is both timely and superb. Her book is “The Exvangelicals: Loving, Living, and Leaving the White Evangelical Church” and the reviewer says it will inevitably be compared to Kristin Kobes Du Mez’s “Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation.” That, too, was a timely book.

Scripture Center to shut down

The American Bible Society will shutter its $60 million Faith and Liberty Discovery Center, apparently for financial reasons. Exhibits at the state-of-the-art center sought to portray the role Scripture played in American history.

American Bible Society marks its 200th birthday

The organization has placed Bibles in the hands of military and disaster victims and people who speak most of the languages of the world.

God’s Ghostwriters were slaves

A Scripture scholar says our understanding of how books of the Bible were written has been shaped by Renaissance art — which often depicted religious leaders such as the Apostle Paul sitting at a desk, surrounded by books, with quill in hand, writing on parchment. “Everything about that image is wrong,” says the writer, Candida Moss. The Apostle Paul, she said, makes it clear in his letters that he was dictating the text to someone else, and at the time, almost all dictation was taken by people who were enslaved or used to be enslaved.

What to do with church real estate

Thousands of churches will likely close down in the United States. What happens to all that real estate? A new book called Gone for Good looks at the ways that churches could be reused for the public good in the future.

Foundation praised for Catholic roots

Since 1974, the Texas Industrial Areas Foundation and its local affiliates have taken on a range of social and political issues. For its members and organizers, the work is perfectly aligned with Catholic teaching, according to a report from National Catholic Reporter.

‘Black Power’ nun dies at 86

A remembrance: Sister Mary Roger Thibodeaux, the veteran Sister of the Blessed Sacrament wrote a 1972 book on Black power and spent many years as an educator, national organizer and evangelist. The story from Nate Tinner-Williams, Black Catholic Messenger.

Incest: More common than many think

For the many priests and ministers among us who prepare couples for marriage here is what DNA is helping people discover the truth about their biological parents. In recent years, DNA has offered a new kind of biological proof, uncovering case after secret case of children born to close biological relatives—providing an unprecedented accounting of incest in modern society. The story is from the Atlantic.

“Goodbye” means “God be with you”

Many farewells have religious connections. Adios in Spanish and adieu in French mean “to God,” for example. The go-to parting phrase in English, “goodbye,” looks rather secular by comparison but “Goodbye” is actually a contraction of the phrase “God be with ye,” and it started popping up around the 1570s (spelled “godbwye”).

Religion losing influence

The vast majority of U.S. adults agree that religion’s influence in public life is shrinking, and most of them see this as a bad thing, according to Pew Research. Americans generally express a positive view of religion in the new survey. There also is a growing sense that people’s own religious beliefs conflict with the society in which they live, and that religious disagreements are best not talked about.

The slow work of dialogue

For 20 years, Mennonite scholars from North America and Shi’a scholars from Iran have met periodically to build bridges. An examination of the group and its struggles is reported by the Christian Century. It’s an in-depth feature worth reading.

At the movies

  • A reviewer says “the most upsetting part of The Zone of Interest for me was after I left the theater and went home. I couldn’t shake the feeling of an awful likeness with the Hösses. To live a relatively comfortable life in America, as I do, is to live in comfort as my government entangles itself in genocidal conflicts around the globe. This comfort is bought by the suffering and death of so many—my laptop made with cobalt mined by enslaved children in the Congo, my food harvested by trafficked child laborers in California, my taxes buying the bombs that have killed 30,000 people so far in Gaza and God only knows how many people elsewhere. What is this life if not a dream home next door to a death camp?”
  • Review: ‘Cabrini’ strikes the right notes of nun’s missions to America. Samantha Smith says the new Catholic flick is worth a watch, with strong acting and a compelling American story with an Italian twist.

God or basketball?

A Christian theologian asks, Which one has a greater hold on my heart? God, or basketball?

Knowing Jesus

You are invited to a scheduled Zoom meeting with the author of the book Knowing Jesus. AUSCP friend Bob Stewart hosts the discussion, Thursday, March 21, at 7:15 p.m. EDT.


Meeting ID: 306 049 3017

Passcode: 599860

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