Religion

Nones, Dones, and the Rural South

Nones, Dones, and the Rural South

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“Outside of certain periods, like the two Great Awakenings or the post-World War II era, a full-throated, zealous participation in Christianity has never been 100% in these Southern states. Perhaps what we’re witnessing in the rural South, then, is similar to a decline in church membership elsewhere in the country, and perhaps it’s also more in line with the general trends throughout the South’s own checkered past. We’ve never collectively been as fervently Christian as what is often told about us or what we tell others about ourselves.”

(By Rev. Dr. Marc Boswell)

An Unattainable Path

An Unattainable Path

(Photo by Fischer Twins)

“The way we have told this story of God for a very long time is an utterly unattainable path of perfectionism. The practice of regular church attendance, and studying your Bible every day, and giving the right amount of money to church, and "being Christian = being nice to everyone" not only sets us all up for failure but sets us all up for not telling the truth about our lives.“

(By Rev. Elizabeth Mangham Lott)

The Geography of Black Poverty

The Geography of Black Poverty

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“It bears repeating that Black poverty in the United States stems from an outgrowth of an oppressive and violent system of idolatry. This system of idolatry is rooted in the slavery chains of previous centuries and the antics of Jim and Jane Crow that severely curtailed the generational wealth and life chances of Black communities well into the late 20th century, and still continues into the 21st. “

(By Rev. Dr. Darvin Adams, I)

My Seminary has Closed...

My Seminary has Closed...

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“As a pastor trained by the 20th century but living and serving in the 21st, I know the next steps for all churches will require us to bless and release much of how things have always been. To move forward with integrity, we all must dream, innovate and discern what the next, right steps are.

Those steps won’t be the same for every church or divinity school or other religious organization. Some will face the hard truth of needing to close their doors.”

(By Rev. Elizabeth Mangham Lott)

A Baptist Meets the Buddha

A Baptist Meets the Buddha

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“Buddhist meditation, therefore, not only taught me a new way to pray, it also provided a desperately needed detour around an anthropomorphic mode of thinking about the Sacred…. To state it differently, my soul was yearning for a concept and experience of the divine that wasn’t rooted in a theology anchored by a powerful male deity who held sinners in ‘H’is hands over the pits of hell.”

(By Rev. Dr. Marc Boswell)

Prayer for After a Person Comes Out

Prayer for After a Person Comes Out

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“Like Lazarus being called out of the tomb, or Mary Magdalene whose eyes were opened to the resurrected Christ upon hearing her name, we know you have called ___’s name and claimed them as your own. When things get difficult, remind ___ of this community who loves them and has promised to walk through life with them.”

(By Jess Cook, M.Div.)

A Migrant Caravan

A Migrant Caravan

(John Moore/Getty Images)

“Our sacred story tells us of mothers and fathers who grab their babies and children and whatever they can carry on their back because the food has run out and there are no more jobs and people actively want to kill them. Our sacred story tells us to care for and welcome and embrace these people who are fleeing.”

(By Rev. Elizabeth Mangham Lott)

In-Between Patriotism

In-Between Patriotism

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“Today, it's hard to recapture this spirit of optimism, the trust we once placed in our political institutions. In many respects, the American project is suffering a crisis of confidence. Thus, it's almost a truism to state that the confidence we had in our political institutions to "do the right thing" has been severely eroded.”

(By Dr. Jonathan Best)

The People We Don't Care About

The People We Don't Care About

(Photo by Walter Bennett)

“Today, the forgotten folks of Appalachia, the rural South, the formerly industrial midwest, need a greater voice to speak for them just as the addicted across the country need folks to move beyond sympathy and towards honest to God care and concern.”

(By Rev. Dr. James McLeod, Jr.)

Who is it For?

Who is it For?

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“Why am I such a verbal curmudgeon when confronted with a grand gesture of generosity? Why am I so critical, indeed?  Is it the what people do for others in crisis moments that so unsettles me, or the when or the why? Or the who?”

(By Rev. Dr. Ellen Richardson)

After the Goldrush

After the Goldrush

(Photo: Alex Edelman, AFP/Getty Images)

“My hometown is underwater. This is the second time that this has happened in the past two years…. The folks who can least afford to rebuild will now have to begin again….”

(By Rev. Dr. James McLeod, Jr.)

On Scriptural Interpretation

On Scriptural Interpretation

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“Perhaps, though, winning the day isn't something to realistically be expected. Perhaps vigilance and persistence in liberative readings is the most we can hope for as long as we continue to make this text central to our lives of faith.”

(By Marc Boswell)

An Introduction

An Introduction

(Photo by Marc Boswell)

“We hope – through this work – to continue keeping one another company on the journey. It will hopefully speak to others living in the South who feel the difficulty of traversing the arid (or, rather, the thickly humid) environment that does not often welcome the Stranger…”

(By Marc Boswell)