This Strange and Sacred Scripture: Wrestling with the Old Testament and Its Oddities, by Matthew Richard Schlimm. The Old Testament is deeply and sometimes distressingly strange to modern Christians (as it was also to many ancient readers).
Behind the historic meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill in February were years of complex negotiation between the Vatican and the Russian Orthodox Church, especially on the situation in Ukraine.
Nearly 15 years ago, the Boston Globe broke the story of the priest-pedophilia and bishop-cover-up crimes. The film Spotlight, which chronicles the investigative reporting behind the newspaper’s Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage, is now up for a Best Picture Academy Award. While this new film shines a light on what happened then, watching it now reveals how the Catholic landscape has changed (and not changed) since the story broke in 2002.
While the reporters depicted in Spotlight initially pursue the stories of particular priest-pedophiles, the editors see the bigger picture: the bureaucratic system, the hierarchy, and the mindset that allowed these priests to be moved from parish to parish without legal intervention.
Shortly after Pope Francis visited the United States in September, many churches invoked his namesake, St. Francis of Assisi, in services of blessing animals. From the spectacular event at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in Manhattan to small gatherings of pets and pet owners on church lawns, Americans around the country marked Francis’s feast day, October 4, by blessing the animals.
They may not have realized that blessing the animals is a recent and very American development.
In his recent address before Congress, Pope Francis invoked the spiritual legacy of Thomas Merton and in particular his "capacity for dialogue and openness to all." This ostensibly fond recollection of Merton is emblematic of the kind of talk that has endeared many liberals, Catholics and others, to Pope Francis: papal language that instills hope for eventual doctrinal change in the
At its worst, Protestantism has long been deeply suspicious of all holy things, of the very notion that a physical object can carry anything of the sacred. At its best, such a suspicion is aimed instead at the notion of holier things—of an elite, rarefied sacrality that sets a few things utterly apart.
A new pope arrives in the United States. Expectations are high for this different type of papacy that brings fresh air from a land that has never given Catholicism a pope before. He comes to America as a media star, having energized not only Catholics, but many of other faiths or even no faith at all. His charisma and direct contact with people in the pews contrast starkly with the remoteness and intellectualism of his predecessor as pope. Catholicism has been in the doldrums for more than a decade, but his unexpected election has sparked excitement and curiosity. He gives voice to many who haven't been heard and have been yearning for leadership.