Last Week, Today: What did the Pope Say to Our American Conscience?

Last week's headlines on politics, religion and culture

Blog update #1: Michael's wife, Melissa, writes a moving reflection on trauma from her old church, her recent baptism, and vulnerability. This is, according to Michael, "the most important thing I will ever publish on this site or anywhere else." 

Blog update #2: Stephen Colbert and Pope Francis are likely the two most famous Catholics alive. Sarah Ngu writes a blogpost on "Joy: The Theology of Stephen Colbert & Pope Francis."

1. What was the Pope Really Saying About Marriage, Family and Abortion?

Vanessa Urquhart has an excellent rhetorical analysis at Slate on how the Pope feints one way politically, only to surprise you by going the other way, in order to make a larger point about our simplistic reduction of people into "righteous vs sinners." W. Bradford Wilcox also illuminates at The Atlantic how the Pope unconventionally understands a major threat to the family: poverty & violence. 

2. Women Are Sexist, Too (Time)

"I knew what I was doing in terms of running our household better than [my husband] did. I didn’t really trust him to be able to do it on his own, or certainly not to do it the way I would... But why is my way the right way?" 
- Anne Marie-Slaughter

3. The Urgent Hope of Ta-Nehisi Coates (Sojourners)

Jonathan Orbell writes at Sojourners on how the hopelessness in Coates' writings should not turn off Christians, but rather spur them onto greater urgency. Coates tweeted this piece, saying, "Best thing about #BetweenTheWorldAndMe is watching Christians engage the work. Serious learning experience for me."  

Concluding thought:

Given Pope Francis' citation of Thomas Merton, here is a powerful passage from Merton's autobiography that is worth reflecting upon: 

"Lax's picture of America... is the picture of a country full of people who want to be kind and pleasant and happy and love good things and serve Got, but do not know how... And Lax's vision is a vision of the day when they will turn on the radio and... will find somebody who is capable of telling them of the love of God in language that will no longer sound hackneyed or crazy, but with authority and conviction: the conviction born of sanctity."

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