vendredi, mars 20, 2015

What do relics tell us about our quest for the historical Jesus? An interview with writer David Gibson

Are you fascinated by the Shroud of Turin? Do you wonder about the truth behind the fragment called (debatably) the "Gospel of Jesus's Wife"?  Curious about why the arguments about the authenticity of religious relics are so heated, so complex?

And what's the point of relics anyway?

Find out more in a conversation with David Gibson, co-author of the new exploration of six famous artifacts, "Finding Jesus: Faith. Fact. Forgery."

dimanche, mars 08, 2015

Facing the end of life in a community of Mercy

samedi, mars 07, 2015

When it comes to understanding Islam, Americans often fail to...

A conversation with John Esposito, the dean of Islamic studies in the United States.

mercredi, février 18, 2015

Ash Wednesday: everything you thought you knew - and the truth

On a quest for people who knew about the origins of Ash Wednesday, I found I didn't know as much as I thought I knew.

Ash Wednesday: Facts and lore - LancasterOnline: Faith Values

samedi, février 07, 2015

Lament for Kayla

Each time I saw a picture of one of the hostages murdered by ISIS show up on my news feed, it was like a punch to the gut.

There were no grade-B personalities in that lot - everyone of them had already made the world a different place, a better place, with their courage, compassion and youthful (to me, anyway) idealism.

But when the terrorist group asserted that the Jordanians had killed female hostage Kayla Mueller by bombing the house in which she was imprisoned, the pain was indescribable.

Already their claim has been discounted by experts who suggest that it would be very strange if a bomb killed one prisoner and not her captives.  Besides, we have no reason to believe anything ISIS says, including their assertion that they are part of any recognized Islamic tradition - except for their pledge to destroy Western nations and individuals.

Experts also wonder if Kayla Mueller hasn't been killed already. Considering what ISIS has done to females already, it's probably naive to think they would stop at murdering a Western woman.

As writer Michael Daly said today in the Daily Beast, the horror they have inflicted on each family may be even, if possible, worse in this case: parents and friends have no body, no evidence, no testament to reality.  They exist in the strange half-life of those who both hope and mourn, each day rent between the two.

To see Kayla's face is to be struck by the innocence of a life yet mostly unlived, free of wrinkles and lines, the bright eyes caught mid-laughter or staring cloudlessly at the lens. It is the visage of a young woman become an adult, a person who had seen more than her share of suffering in her trips to help refugees abroad and yet remained hopeful and positive.

To read Kayla's words, detailed in a statement her family released, is to see America's best face turned to the world.  Her faith in the power of compassion and in faith itself, reproaches those of us marinated in cynicism.

“Kayla found this work heartbreaking but compelling; she is extremely devoted to the people of Syria,” her family said in a statement. “When asked what kept her going in her mission, she said, ‘I find God in the suffering eyes reflected in mine, if this is how you are revealed to me, this is how I will forever seek you.’”

And that is why, even if, God forbid, something atrocious did happen to the 26-year-old girl who stares guilelessly back at us in those photos, the worst thing we could do is to lay down the banner she took up.  Because if we surrender our own faith,  then the powers of hell have won.

I confess, it's  harder than I personally ever imagined to feel them so close.

What must it be like for her family?

Please pray for them, weep with them, hope besides them - and never give up believing that in the end, good will win out.