By Debie Thomas

One of the many crises of this past year has been a crisis of authority. As conflicting news reports, scientific studies, and “expert” voices have told us how to manage the challenges of Covid, racism, global warming, and political deadlock, many of us have grown weary, suspicious, and cynical. Whose guidance and leadership can we trust? Who will tell us the truth? Whose voice should we listen for?

In our Gospel reading for this fourth Sunday in Easter, we see a version of leadership quite different from the ones we’re used to in politics and the media…


By Dan Clendenin

Brit Bennett, The Vanishing Half: A Novel (New York: Riverhead, 2020), 343pp.

Brit Bennett is officially two for two. When The Vanishing Half was released on June 2, 2020, it debuted at the #1 spot on the NYT fiction best-seller list, where it has remained ever since. Within a month, HBO acquired the rights for a limited television series based on the book with Bennett as executive producer. The novel was also included on at least 25 “best of the year” lists. …


Selected by Dan Clendenin

Hildegard of Bingen (1098–1179)

O Shepherd of Souls

O Shepherd of souls
and o first voice
through whom all creation was summoned,
now to you,
to you may it give pleasure and dignity
to liberate us
from our miseries and languishing.

In an age when life expectancy was somewhere around forty, Hildegard of Bingen (1098–1179) lived a life that was remarkably long and incredibly productive. Carmen Butcher described Hildegard as an “Über-multitasking Frau” and authentic “polymath.” The description fits. The Benedictine abbess founded two convents, conducted four preaching tours, penned at least 400 letters, wrote music…


By Dan Clendenin

Two Distant Strangers (2021)

This sci-fi short film (32 minutes) was nominated for an Oscar in “Live Action” for its creative exploration of police violence against blacks. Set in New York City, a young, black graphic artist named Carter awakens one morning after a horrible nightmare about his violent encounter with a white police officer. But this is a recurring nightmare of the worst sort — all he wants to do is to get home to feed his dog, but the dream loop recurs 99 times. He’s thus forced to relive the trauma, and unable to escape…


Selected by Dan Clendenin

Bernard of Clairvaux (1090–1153)

The Loving Soul’s Jubilation

Jesus, the very thought of Thee,
with sweetness fills my breast,
but sweeter far Thy face to see,
and in Thy presence rest.

Nor voice can sing, nor heart can frame,
nor can the memory find
a sweeter sound than Thy blest name,
o Savior of mankind.

O hope of every contrite heart
o joy of all the meek,
to those who fall, how kind Thou art!
how good to those who seek!

But what to those who find? Ah this nor tongue nor pen can show: the…


By Debie Thomas

Every year during the Easter season, I see a spate of articles outlining literal versus figurative possibilities for the resurrection. The articles show up in magazines, blogs, and social media feeds, and they wrestle with the same thorny questions each year: did Jesus really return to bodily life after he was crucified, or was the resurrection a metaphor? Was the tomb literally empty, or did the Gospel writers describe it that way to figuratively depict God’s victory over evil, the divine gift of spiritual and psychological enlivening, and the power of memory to keep our loved ones…


By Dan Clendenin

Henry T. Greely, CRISPR People: The Science and Ethics of Editing Humans (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2021), 380pp.

When the prestigious journal Science published an article by the Berkeley biochemist Jennifer Doudna about something called CRISPR (June 27, 2012), the scientific community took note. CRISPR was a new tool that enabled scientists to edit the DNA of plants and animals. Hank Greely compares it to the delete-n-replace function in Microsoft Word. Scientists have made two major observations about CRISPR.

First, CRISPR is one of the most revolutionary developments in the entire history of biology. The gene-editing tool…


Selected by Dan Clendenin

Mary Ann Bernard

Resurrection

Long, long, long ago;
Way before this winter’s snow
First fell upon these weathered fields;
I used to sit and watch and feel
And dream of how the spring would be,
When through the winter’s stormy sea
She’d raise her green and growing head,
Her warmth would resurrect the dead.

Long before this winter’s snow
I dreamt of this day’s sunny glow
And thought somehow my pain would pass
With winter’s pain, and peace like grass
Would simply grow. (But) The pain’s not gone. …


By Dan Clendenin

UmoNhoN Iye: The Omaha Speaking (2019)

At the time of Columbus, there were about 600 languages spoken by the Native American tribes in North America. Today that number has dwindled to about 100 languages that are actively spoken, and many of those face extinction. This one-hour documentary tells the story of one of those critically-endangered languages. Around 700 to 900 years ago, the Omaha tribe migrated from the Great Lakes region to what is now Nebraska. Today the remnant of the Omaha live in the town of Macy in the northeastern part of the state. Only about…


By Dan Clendenin

From https://makotofujimura.com/about

Makoto Fujimura (b. 1960, Boston) is a leading contemporary artist whose process driven, refractive “slow art” has been described by David Brooks of the New York Times as “a small rebellion against the quickening of time.” Robert Kushner, in the mid 90’s, has written on Fujimura’s art in Art in America this way: “The idea of forging a new kind of art, about hope, healing, redemption, refuge, while maintaining visual sophistication and intellectual integrity is a growing movement, one which finds Makoto Fujimura’s work at the vanguard.”

Fujimura’s art has been featured widely in galleries…

Dan Clendenin

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