Category Archives: Theology and Politics

Contains all blog posts on the general topics of theology and politics.

Ash Wednesday: A Reminder that We Have Faith Even if it’s the Size of a Mustard Seed

It must seem odd to those who are not Christian. On one Wednesday every year, we can observe people walking around with ashes on their foreheads. They are supposed to be in the shape of a cross, but many times they end up looking more like a big black blob. And people have this mark on their forehead throughout all of their normal daily activities- at school, at work, at the gym. If you go to the supermarket or the doctor’s office, there’s sure to be plenty of people with blobs on their heads! When you think about, it’s pretty strange.

Of course, on Ash Wednesday, just like Palm Sunday (hence the name A&P Catholics- those who only go to church to get their ashes and palms), a lot of people feel the need to go to church, even if they do not go on a regular basis. Hence, many ask why some people care so much about getting ashes when they do not bother to pray, or go to church on Sundays, and even, in the case of some, when they are not sure they even believe in God or want to be Catholic. Yet, to me, there is something beautiful about this “need” to get ashes. Something compels us to do it, Something beyond us that we cannot quite explain. We may not always “act” like believers, but some small part of us “believes.”

Ash Wednesday also reminds us that through our mutual observance of the beginning of Lent, we are united with Christians all over the world. I love thinking about all the different places I’ve received ashes in my life based on where I was or what I was doing. In elementary school, I can still remember the mass exodus of Catholic kids heading to the local church across the street after the bell rang. During college at Fordham, I have fond memories of being a cantor at the evening Ash Wednesday mass. During my masters degree at Harvard, which was my first time in a non-Catholic environment, I remember being so excited that I was receiving ashes from the Lutherans one year, and the Presbyterians another. Every year, I also seem to exchange stories with my family, “Where did you get your ashes this year? Who said the mass or lead the service? Did you see anyone we know? …. ”

This year at Boston College, I went to the 12:15pm liturgy at the School of Theology and Ministry. It was refreshing to go to my office across campus afterwards, and to see the ashes on the foreheads of many of my colleagues. In spite of all the suffering and anxiety in the world, in spite of the fact that our faith in God is constantly challenged, faith still exists. Even if it is the size of a “mustard seed,” it is there. And even faith the size of a “mustard seed” is big enough to keep growing and to accomplish great things.

“Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.”

 

A Bully May Be Our President, But It Does Not Have To Mean “The Bullies” Won

A lot of people who know me now may find it hard to believe, but I was a bullied kid, and bullied for a variety of reasons. First I was fat. Then I was too skinny. First I was shy and awkward, then when I started to come out of my shell and talk, I was loud and awkward.

I do not say this to get sympathy, as a lot of people have went through much worse. However, I will say that even post -getting a master’s degree from Harvard, running a marathon, and getting proposed to by a handsome Harvard physicist, the pain of bullying never fully heals. When I am back in my hometown and I run by the elementary school I attended from fourth to sixth grade, I do not happily point it out to my fiance, but rather, I seriously want to barf.

I feel the need to write this today because this afternoon, in the words of many Americans, a “bully” officially became our president. Even if you like Donald Trump, and think he will do a great job in office, and you are certainly entitled to that opinion, you cannot argue that he does not meet the definition of a bully. A “bully,” plain and simple, is “a person who uses strength or influence to harm or intimidate others. ” Yes, in other words, stuff like “grab them by the pussy” and the mocking of a disabled reporter are examples of bullying, there is no way around it.

Understandably, many of us are worried about what this means. We fear that “bullies are now ruling the playground,” and we are anxious about what message this will send to children. Growing up, I always thought that by the time I reached my 20s, what I call “junior high bullshit” would be long gone from my life. Sadly, I have learned that “junior high bullshit” exists everywhere, among people of all ages and levels of education.

However, this realization has also given me hope. I used to think that resisting a bully required a lot of skills, power, or authority, but, in fact, we can all resist bullies fairly easily. We may think of bullies as strong and powerful, and Donald Trump taking office seems to prove this point. However, bullies gain their strength and power from bystanders, just as Donald Trump will only gain power and influence if supported by Congress and American citizens. A bully can only have control if others let him, in other words, if those surrounding the bully remain silent or laugh along or say, “that’s no big deal.” If no one laughs at a bully’s taunts, he or she is no longer funny. If people tell a bully to stop making fun of another person, and reaffirm that the target of said bully is “really cool” or even, “their friend,” the bully does not succeed in hurting and isolating that person (or at least not as much as the person would have been hurt had no one said anything)- the bully does not achieve his or her goal.

Nothing illustrates this better than a story from- you guessed it- junior high. A girl in my group of friends was being a bully and her target was another friend of ours. When the bully received an invitation to this girl’s birthday party, she mocked it for being “babyish” and talked about how we all should not go. However, a few of my friends and I got together and said, “we are going to the party.” (This decision was not as simple as it sounds. We were not total saints- we each individually struggled with whether or not going to the party would make us “not cool.”) When the Saturday of the party came around, almost everyone who was invited showed up, except for the bully. We all enjoyed a fun night of games, cake, and laughter, while the bully sat home with nothing to do. This situation taught me that a bully has only as much power as others choose to give him or her. Without our support, the bully was powerless to ruin this birthday. She was no longer “cool” and “in charge, ” though she quite easily could have been had my friends and I given into our fears and made a different decision.

Trump’s ideas cannot thrive without support, or, at least, complicit silence by a large number of people. Already, we are weakening such ideas through events like the Women’s March in Washington DC, with counterparts taking place in Boston, New York, and other parts of the country, and with people making pledges to accompany neighbors who may feel particularly threatened by violence or ridicule in public. We are making the statement that disparagement of Muslims is “not OK,” that mocking disabled people is “not funny,” that joking about sexual assaulting women is not “super cool locker room talk.” However, these actions cannot stop after the inauguration hype dies down. We need to keep calling our representatives, keep protecting those who have been the target of violence, and keep donating our time and money to organizations whose funding may be in jeopardy. We need to do this even when doing it is no longer “fashionable” or “stylish” as it is quickly becoming on Facebook.

Trump is a bully, but it is up to us whether or not living under a Trump presidency means living in “ a culture of bullying.” We need to stop being bystanders in our everyday lives and refuse to participate in “junior high bullshit.” Don’t just refrain from making disparaging remarks about people – say something when you hear one- even if it doesn’t apply to you, it hurts someone else! Don’t exclude people for the sake of popularity- don’t be the person who doesn’t invite a classmate with autism to the party because he “acts weird,” or doesn’t invite the gay couple because that might be “controversial to some people” (all bullshit I’ve witnessed in my life). Don’t say no to a friendship with someone different from you because you are worried about how that will look to other people. Don’t laugh at a harmful joke just to impress the joke-teller and you don’t want to “ruin the fun.” When you do those things, you become the bully too. Just because people of a certain race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion go to your school or work in your office, does not mean they feel welcome. It does not mean sexism, racism, and homophobia are issues of the past.

Speaking from my personal experience as a bullied kid, I can say that it is the bystanders that hurt the most. I have long ago forgiven the bullies. They were just instigators, the pain they caused barely lingers. It is the people who laughed along at a bully’s taunts, the people who said “no, you can’t sit with us at lunch,” the people whom I thought were my friends but ditched me when they realized I wasn’t “cool,” who hurt me much more deeply. “You’re weird” or “you’re ugly” or even, “you should go kill yourself” were just one person’s words, they weren’t so bad. But it was the bystander’s laughs, rejections, and silence that made me feel like those words were true.

One final note- I do not think a person deserves to be labeled a “bully” indefinitely. I do believe that people who formerly engaged in bullying behavior, can reject their former ways and become the allies of those who experience bullying. I hope and pray that this can someday be said of Donald Trump. People accuse me of not “giving him a chance.” I am more than willing to “give him a chance,” but he needs to stop bullying and sincerely apologize to those he has hurt before I am going to stop resisting.

So, stand up, my friends, not just to Trump’s bullying, but to bullying behavior wherever you may see it.

Responding to Orlando as a Catholic: The Need to Feel Challenged and Uncomfortable

In the wake of the shooting in Orlando last week, I have been wondering what a heterosexual Catholic woman in academia is supposed to say. It is obvious from the timing of this post, I put off publishing a blog, and the one I am sharing now has been through numerous drafts.

Just a short while ago, I came across an article written by Paul Reid-Bowen, a male scholar of religion who asks the question of whether one can be a man, and still write about feminism from a position of advocacy and commitment. He acknowledges that as a man in a patriarchal culture, his sexual difference is problematic for feminism. If this were not the case, feminism would not need to exist in the first place. Reid-Bowen insists, therefore, that, “if any man is comfortable with feminism, something is amiss.”

As a Catholic woman, it hurts to think about how my church’s position of “Hate the sin, love the sinner” bears responsibility for feelings of homophobia and widespread discrimination against LGBTQ persons. While the church condemns violence against LGBTQ persons, a theology that defines the sacrament of marriage as solely “the union between a man and a woman” and considers homosexual inclinations to be “intrinsically disordered” does nothing to challenge the undeserved dominant position that heterosexual persons enjoy in our church or in society. With this theology, a same-sex couple can never have their union affirmed as sacramental, and being in a same-sex relationship is rendered “sinful,” for no other reason than that it defies the traditional male-female gender binary. It is no wonder that a Catholic child who does not fit neatly into traditional gender stereotypes might grow up feeling frightened and ashamed, and at risk for depression and even suicide. A lot of Catholics are afraid to publicly commit to a theology that embraces LGBTQ persons as the “image of God,” rather than persons with a disorder that needs correction, or to publicly support the availability of the sacrament of marriage to same-sex couples who love each other. We fear not only condemnation from fellow Catholics and from clergy in positions of power, but we also fear having to come face to face with our own responsibility for events like Orlando. We fear being “radical.”

I do not feel I have the right to say exactly what the Catholic Church needs to do to support the LGBTQ community right now. But I must say that I think that a shift in theology and Church teaching would be a step in the direction, precisely because the full affirmation of LGBTQ persons and relationships would be “radical.” In other words, when entering a position of advocacy for and commitment to the LGBTQ community, heterosexual Catholics and those in positions of power in the church are supposed to feel challenged and uncomfortable, or else “something is amiss.”

Finally, I speak of the need for a new theology not to be “politically correct,” but because this is what I believe is required for Catholic Christians to be disciples of Jesus in today’s world. I can no longer believe in God who is displeased with God’s own creatures solely for being who they are. In the words of Edward Schillebeeckx, “it is better not to believe in God than to believe in a God who enslaves human beings.”

 

 

 

 

Challenge Hillary If You Must But Stop Telling Her To Lower Her Voice

In the 2016 Democratic primary, we have two strong candidates. There are legitimate reasons to prefer one candidate over the other. Most of us do. Therefore, it is perfectly acceptable to critique Hillary Clinton on her policy positions, past speeches/votes/decisions, etc. As a Hillary supporter, I want to hear such critiques and dialogue with those who have opinions that differ from my own. After all, my fiance is “feeling the Bern” and we are still happily engaged.

However, to be frank, I am tired of hearing people complain about Hillary Clinton’s voice. Is she loud? Yes. IT’S A POLITICAL DEBATE. In political debates, people vigorously defend their policy positions. When have you ever seen a candidate sit back and say, “Oh gee thanks, you’re right, I’m wrong, sorry I’m running for president and taking up your time.”

Before dismissing the possibility that sexism is at play here, please think carefully. As a woman in academia, I can say that many people are still very uncomfortable with a woman being assertive. I cannot begin to tell you how many times I have been told I was “loud” or should “calm down.” Every day, I witness female students (undergraduates all the way up to the doctoral level) apologize for raising their hand to make a point, or for disagreeing with a professor or fellow student. Numerous studies have shown that American workers still prefer a male boss to a female boss. A male leader is strong and efficient, while a female one is often “bitchy” and “loud.” Women are still subject to scrutiny for their appearance more so than men (Barack Obama’s suits never seemed to get as much air time as Hillary Clinton’s did in 2008). Women are expected to always smile (yes, it was also wrong to criticize Carly Fiorina for not smiling enough), be polite, and look pretty. I am not accusing men here, women expect this of other women too, albeit often unconsciously.

There is nothing wrong with not liking what a woman (or any public person) has to say. All I ask is that we all think twice before criticizing the way she says it or for defending her beliefs (even if they are not your own). There are a lot of questions Hillary may need to answer from voters, but she does not need to apologize for taking up space.

Personally, I want a president who is loud (I think most of us do!). I want a president who feels passionately about the issues facing this country. I want a president who is going to be boisterous in protesting Congressional attempts to restrict women’s access to reproductive health care, or to defund Planned Parenthood, or to justify discrimination against the LGBTQ community.

Last night, I was very proud of both candidates, namely for talking about the issues that matter instead of the size of Donald Trump’s you-know-what. Did things get heated? Yes. But BOTH candidates interrupted one another to correct what they believed were misrepresentations of their views, and BOTH candidates were pretty vocal in defending themselves against criticism. And I am glad they did! That’s how debates work. That is why moderators are there.

So, please, tell me why you are voting for Bernie Sanders. Challenge me. Ask me questions.  I am not always right, neither is Hillary Clinton (or anybody!) But, please, don’t tell me to be quiet or lower my voice (unless we are in church or the library or a context where it is inappropriate to argue politics). And don’t tell Hillary to lower her’s either!

Sincerely,

A Loud and Proud Female Voter

For The 2016 Presidential Campaign: As A Woman, 6 Things I Ask of Fellow Voters

During the 2008 presidential campaign, I was a freshman at Fordham University and an avid Hillary Clinton supporter in the Democratic primary. While I did not get up and shout this from the rooftops of my dorm room in Manhattan, I did proudly display stickers on my backpack and was happy to tell people whom I was voting for when asked. I was deeply offended when many people expressed the following sentiments to me:

“Are you just voting for her because she is a woman?” Yes, even though I am a political science major, I know nothing about politics. And when I participated in the Young Democrats in high school, I was secretly a diehard Republican.

“You should read up on the issues.” Because, of course, an eighteen year old woman is too stupid to pick up a newspaper.

“Just so you know, electing a woman is not going to solve all the problems of gender inequality.”   Sorry. I totally mistook Hillary Clinton for the second coming of Jesus Christ.

“You should vote for the best candidate instead of voting for someone because you want to see a woman president.” Yes, because there is just no way a woman could actually BE the best candidate. No way, not when there are men running.

Some of my rejoinders are sarcastic, but I think my point is clear. So, this year, I am making a few simple requests.

1. Please do not accuse me of supporting Hillary Clinton just because she is a woman.

You can disagree with me, and you can even actively campaign against Hillary Clinton. However, please respect that I am an informed and intelligent woman. I would not vote for a woman who does not share the same concerns as I do or who holds policy positions that differ drastically from my own.

2. If you are going to criticize Hillary Clinton, please criticize her on something that is actually relevant.

Keep your comments about clothing, weight, hair style, and appearance to yourself. Not only are such comments rude and demeaning, but they contribute nothing to your argument that I should vote for your preferred candidate. Women are not sex objects.

3. Before reacting negatively to a particular comment or speech, please honestly ask yourself “Would I feel the same way if this had been said or done by man?”

Would you think a man was unable to cope with the stress of the presidency if he were to show emotion? http://www.thenation.com/blog/hillary-shows-feeling-slammed

Would you call a man bossy or a bitch for being a demanding leader or for being assertive in a debate?

I am not saying that women cannot abuse their power, but women and men should be held to the same standards.

4. Please do not say something along the lines of “I’m sorry, but I’m voting for …..”

Don’t apologize. I am not angry with you for not supporting Hillary Clinton and I do not think you are sexist. As theologian Emilie Townes states, “refusing to critique is a sign of devaluing and disrespect or worse- ignorance.” If you can tell me that you are not voting for Hillary because you disagree with some of the actions she took as Secretary of State, or differ with her certain political issues, all without using misogynist language, it shows that you take a woman seriously as a presidential candidate. It also shows that you recognize my intelligence, strength, and maturity as a woman voter. My two favorite topics are politics and religion (the two things you are not supposed to talk about at the dinner table), I can handle a debate!

5. Do not tell other women they are supposed to vote for Hillary or else they are traitors.

What women are SUPPOSED to do is making an opinion based on their own values, beliefs, and concerns. Telling a woman she needs to vote for a woman in order to be a feminist defeats the entire purpose of feminism.

6. Do not say that sexism is a thing of the past just because we have a female running for president.

The election of Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 were celebratory moments, but racism still persists. There is still work to be done. Similarly, if we elect Hillary Clinton in 2016, it will signal that some more progress has been made, but it will not be a panacea for all the struggles women still face in our country. We all still need to examine our own biases and listen to those who have been and continue to be marginalized on the basis of race, gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or physical disability. 

Disagreements, even among persons of the same political party, are inevitable as election season gets into gear. We need not shy away from expressing our honest opinions, but let us please do so without using misogynistic, racist, or heterosexist language. To the person who disagrees with you, say “I disagree with you. I feel differently, here is why….” instead of “You’re an idiot.” In the end, let’s face it, none of us (not even Hillary Clinton, although I admire her greatly) has all of the correct answers!

2016 election

A Message to Pope Francis: Birth Control is an Economic Issue

On Monday, Pope Francis made quite a remarkable statement in beseeching Catholics to speak of “responsible parenthood.” He continued, “Some think that- excuse the word- in order to be good Catholics we have to be like rabbits. No.”

What great news for Catholic families, right? Not so fast.

While Francis seems to be condoning the practice of couples making a deliberate choice to limit the number of children they have, he still firmly upholds the Church’s prohibition on the use of artificial contraception outlined in the 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae. According to Francis, “this is clear and that is why in the church there are marriage groups, there are experts in this matter, there are pastors.” In his view, God gives [parents] methods to be responsible” and couples should rely on natural family planning.

Considering that Pope Francis has wanted to make the poor a central focus of his papacy, I cannot help but be extremely disappointed in his remarks. Family planning has often been considered a feminist issue and rightly so, in that it helps move beyond the idea that a woman’s role in life is simply to be the bearer of children, regardless of what this does to her physical or emotional health. However, family planning is also very much an economic issue. Of course, it cannot be denied that feminist issues and economic issues are constantly intertwined, as sexism, racism, and other forms of discrimination are directly related to poverty.

First of all, as a woman, I find it troubling that celibate males continue to be the only authorities in the Church who dictate Catholic teaching. These men have never experienced life in a woman’s body, yet they seem to consider themselves experts on this topic. While natural family planning may be a successful solution for some couples, it is not applicable to all women. Not all women have regular menstrual cycles, due to a variety of factors including genetics or certain medical conditions. Yet, even for women with cycles which are not irregular, ovulation does not occur at the same time each month and no woman’s menstrual cycle is identical from month to month. The rhythm method has an average failure rate of 13-20%.

Now, wait a minute. If the failure rate is 13-20%, that means the success rate is 80-87%. Not bad, some may say. And for some couples, those statistics may be comforting enough. For the healthy man and woman who both have secure jobs with benefits, a large home, and the money to hire a nanny for the three children they already have, adding a fourth might not be such a frightening prospect. Sure, it might be tough having another newborn, but they at least have the money to feed and clothe this child, and eventually help him or her through college. This couple also has a low chance of a pregnancy complications. This is not to say that such a couple must or should always be open to more children, but simply that taking their chances with the rhythm method may be easier for them to do than for some other couples.

Not every family is as fortunate to be financially secure. It is estimated that in the United States alone, anywhere from 47-50 million families are living in poverty. This number grows exponentially when taking into account families across the world. This number also increases when considering families who do not meet the standards to be considered impoverished, but are struggling due to a lay-off or disability, or parents who work two or three jobs to stay above poverty level. Taking time off from work to have a child may can be extremely difficult, if not impossible, for many parents. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, women make only 78% for every dollar earned by a man. This gap is even larger for African American and Hispanic women.  Yet, women make up half of the work force and are the primary breadwinner in 4 out of 10 American families. Furthermore, the Family and Medical Leave Act only requires companies to provide 12 weeks of unpaid lave for the birth or adoption of a child if those companies have 50 more more employees and an employee has worked at the company for at least a year.

Besides financial problems, some couples also struggle with mental or physical health issues. Pregnancy affects all women differently. Even though I have never been pregnant myself, I have known many people who have and hearing their experiences proves the preceding statement is true. Some women will experience very little pain throughout their pregnancy, while other women have complications that result in being put on bed rest, or they struggle with depression. Some women are even told after giving birth not to have any more children, as this could put them in danger of serious health issues and may even cause death. Suddenly, when the entire family’s well-being is at stake, 80-87% success rate is just not enough.

Artificial methods of contraception, in particular the pill and IUD, have success rates close to 99%, and are a safer option for women with menstrual irregularities. Furthermore, some women chose to use birth control pills for reasons other than contraception. They are often necessary for women with painful menstrual cycles, an experience for which the Magisterium cannot claim to know firsthand. They also protect against some forms of cancer. Sadly, birth control is still unaffordable and inaccessible for many women, even after the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

Wait a minute. If some couples are truly unable to have another child, shouldn’t they avoid intercourse? Some may say so. However, love happens across economic boundaries. Why should a couple who is less financially well-off not be able to express their mutual love and affection for one another? Is sexual intercourse only for the economically and socially privileged?

Finally, Catholic couples are finding through their own personal experience that use of contraception does not inhibit their ability to be loving disciples of Jesus Christ. In 1963, Pope John XXIII established the Papal Commission on Birth Control. In 1966, this commission released its majority report, which saw the use of artificial contraception as a valid extension of natural family planning, “for it is natural to man to use his skill in order to put under human control what is given by physical nature.”

Pope Paul VI’s ultimately rejected the commission’s position, by maintaing the Church’s ban on artificial forms of contraception in his 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae. It is now 2015, and so may devoted Catholics are still made to feel ashamed for making the reproductive health decisions that are best suited to their particular situations. Pope Francis, if you truly care about the poverty and oppression, will you please step up and listen to Catholic families, and in particular, Catholic women?

And Jesus Wept: Why Christians Should Lament Duke’s Cancellation of the Muslim Call to Prayer

As a doctoral student with a research interest in Muslim-Christian dialogue, I was saddened to hear that Duke University cancelled its plans to have its Muslim students sound the Friday call to prayer, or adhan, from the university chapel. I may not be Muslim myself, but I feel that my Catholic faith has been strengthened by my encounter with Islam in my academic studies. I cannot speak as a Muslim, but if I am to call myself a disciple of Jesus, I believe I must express my outrage at Duke’s decision.

On January 15th,  Franklin Graham, one of the major figures who opposed the call to prayer on Duke’s campus, posted the following statement on Facebook.

“The Muslim call to prayer that has been approved to go out across the campus of Duke University every Friday afternoon for three minutes includes “Allahu Akbar”—the words that the terrorists shouted at the onset of last week’s massacre in Paris. It includes the proclamation that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. Will evangelical Christians be allowed the same three minutes weekly to broadcast the message across campus that God Almighty of the Bible sent His Son Jesus Christ to offer forgiveness of sins and salvation to all who will repent, believe, and call on His Name? Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).”

In Matthew 7:4, Jesus asks us “How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?” Its time for us Christians to start owning up to the planks in our eyes and offering to stand in solidarity with and support our Muslim brothers and sisters. Have us Christians apologized for the 1600% growth of anti-Muslim hate crimes that occurred after 9/11? Have we apologized for the fact that I can easily walk around the streets of Boston wearing a crucifix, but my Muslim friends do not feel as safe in a hijab? Have we apologized for the Klu Klux Klan? Does Graham take into consideration that slave-owners would often shout Bible verses while brutally beating the African American men and women whose humanity they failed to recognize? “Let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!”

Jesus also told us that the two greatest commandments are “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” and “love your neighbor as yourself.” Sadly, the cancellation of the Muslim call to prayer is just one example of how Christians have not shown neighborly love to Muslims.

Christians should not feel threatened by the adhan. Allahu Akbar means “God is greatest” or “God is great.” We may have different rituals and beliefs, but Allah is the same God as the God worshipped by the two other Abrahamic traditions, Christianity and Judaism, a loving, merciful God who is ultimately mystery. If God is mystery, and no humans words can fully capture the greatness that is God, this means we cannot limit where God manifests God’s self. By refusing to make space for the Muslim community, we miss out on learning how God has revealed God’s self in traditions other than our own. According to the Quran, “If God had so willed he would have made you a single people, but His plan is to test you in what He hath given you: so strive as in a race in all virtues.” And as the late Dominican Catholic theologian Edward Schillebeeckx said, “truth is not to be found in a system but in dialogue.” No one has a monopoly on truth.

Jesus was not on the side of the rich and powerful, but rather the lonely, the oppressed, and the misunderstood. Jesus did not listen to media soundbites, but rather he took the time to engage with the people he met, even those whom were hated by society. Jesus heard that Duke cancelled the Muslim call to prayer and Jesus wept.

Jesus weeping