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What would have Jesus said about climate change? Rose Berger, a Catholic peace activist, is speaking on social justice and sustainability on April 24 at 7 PM with the Church in Bethesda at 5033 Wilson Lane, Bethesda MD, 20814.

Earth Day Lecture: Caring for the Least of These - Matthew 25, Christians, and Climate Change

Ever wondered what Jesus might have thought of climate change? Celebrate Earth Week on April 24 at 7 PM with the Church in Bethesda at 5033 Wilson Lane, Bethesda MD, 20814. Church in Bethesda is hosting Rose Berger, a Catholic peace activist and writer, who will be speaking on “Caring for the Least of These: Matthew 25, Christians, and Climate Change.”

Berger is a longtime associate editor at the progressive Christian magazine Sojourners and a regular columnist on spirituality, creation care, scripture, nonviolence, and social justice. We welcome anyone who wants to learn more about how Christians are called to live in a way that is more sustainable for the earth and our neighbors around the world. For more information, contact the church at (301) 654-4159 or todd@churchinbethesda.org.


by Rose Marie Berger

The conflicted and controversial three-year doctrinal investigation by the Vatican of U.S. Catholic sisters in the Leadership Conference of Women Religious has formally come to an end, according to a press release from the Vatican this morning and reports in the National Catholic Reporter.

“We are pleased at the completion of the Mandate which involved long and challenging exchanges of our understandings of and perspectives on critical matters of Religious Life and its practice,” said Sr. Sharon Holland, IHM, president of LCWR.

She continued:

“Through these exchanges, conducted always in a spirit of prayer and mutual respect, we were brought to deeper understandings of one another’s experiences, roles, responsibilities, and hopes for the Church and the people it serves. We learned that what we hold in common is much greater than any of our differences.”

Conservative operators within the Vatican have been working for years to bring suspicion on communities of Catholic sisters in the U.S. In the past seven years, they succeeded in launching twin investigations into American nuns.

The first, launched in 2008, was a controversial and unprecedented “apostolic visitation” investigating the finances and communal practices of individual U.S.-based Catholic orders of women religious, representing tens of thousands of women. It ended in December 2014 with a formal backing down by the Vatican office from which it was launched. The final report, issued under Pope Francis, was released at a public press conference in Rome — also unprecedented — in which all those involved made clear statements about the process and emphasized a spirit of forbearance, mercy, and transparency.

Read the rest here.

See more related articles here:
Joint Final Report on the Doctrinal Assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), 16.04.2015

Vatican ends controversial investigation of US nuns with olive branch by David Gibson (Religion News Service, Apr. 16, 2015)

Vatican ends controversial three-year oversight of US sisters’ leaders
by Joshua J. McElwee (National Catholic Reporter, Apr. 16, 2015)

Vatican, LCWR announce successful conclusion of process to reform group by Cindy Wooden (Catholic News Service, Apr. 16, 2015)

Vatican Ends Takeover of U.S. Catholic Nuns Group (The New York Times, Apr. 16, 2015)

Read the blog study on Sr. Sandra Schneiders’ theological work on the new forms of Catholic life that U.S. Catholic sisters are living into

Having the Sisters’ Back by Jim Wallis (God’s Politics, 04-24-2012)

End of an Inquisition? by Phyllis Zagano (Sojourners, March 2015)

What About the Women? by Carol Keehan (Sojourners, September-October 2013)

A ‘Hostile Takeover’ of Women Religious by Joan Chittister (Sojourners, July 2012)

The Presumption of Equality by Rose Marie Berger (Sojourners, September-October 2012)


Thank God for the artists!

Jane Watts’ single “Shaman” was filmed at Union Theological Seminary in NYC. “[It’s a] cause record that I pray resonates in the hearts of everyone who believes in promoting change in the world we live in,” says Watts. “#WeNeedAShaman and we can be the healers that our world and humankind needs.” In association with the #wecantbreathe and #blacklivesmatter campaigns.


This Summer. Word & World. Detroit.

July 15-19 2015 Detroit, MI.

Word and World believes that it is time to bring our energy and join the movement work happening in Detroit, a city that has been “ground zero” not only of economic crisis, but also of hope and resistance.

This “Land and Water” movement school will focus on cultural organizing bringing together theologies of justice, indigenous resistance, and hip hop spirituality.

Get your application here. If you can’t come, send financial support here.


Feast Day of Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Flossenberg memorial to resistance members killed April 9, 1942. 2 Timothy 1:7: "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline."

Flossenberg memorial to resistance members killed April 9, 1942.
2 Timothy 1:7: “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.”

Bill Wylie-Kellermann studied Bonhoeffer with Paul Lehmann, Bonhoeffer’s friend and colleague at Union Seminary NYC. The life and times of Bonhoeffer are instructive for us today. Below is both Bill’s reflections for today, 70 years after Bonhoeffer’s execution by the Nazis.

And also reflections from Victoria Barnett, staff director of the Committee on Ethics, Religion, and Bonhoeffer scholar at the Holocaust at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Both reflect on Bonhoeffers 1942 Christmas letter.

“We have for once learnt to see the great events of world history from below, from the perspective of the outcast, the suspects, the maltreated, the power-less, the oppressed, the reviled – in short, from the perspective of those who suffer.”– Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Christmas letter to friends and co-conspirators (1942)

Seventy years ago today, just weeks before the fall of Berlin in 1945, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was marched naked into the yard of Flossenberg Concentration Camp and hanged with piano wire for being an enemy of the Nazi state. He was 39.

Bonhoffer may be said to have literally written the book on radical discipleship. For several generations his Cost of Discipleship has provoked conversion, focused hearts, signified the way. It is perhaps most famous for its opening meditation contrasting “cheap grace” – grace as commodity, principle, doctrine – with “costly grace” which is grace to die for – the way of discipleship and the cross. “When Christ calls someone, he bids them come and die.” … — Bill Wylie-Kellermann

Read the rest of Bill’s post at Radical Discipleship here.

Vicky Barnett is the coeditor of the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works project, the English translation series of Bonhoeffer’s complete works (Fortress Press). Bonhoeffer and the Confessing Church movement are viewed quite differently between Christians and Jews.

In December 1942, Bonhoeffer sent a Christmas letter (“After Ten Years”) to his closest friends in the resistance. In a bitterly realistic tone, he faced the prospect that they might fail, and that his own life’s work might remain incomplete. He may have wondered, too, whether his decision to return to Germany and to work in military intelligence had been the right one. “Are we still of any use?” he wrote:

We have been silent witnesses of evil deeds: we have been drenched by many storms; we have learnt the arts of equivocation and pretence; experience has made us suspicious of others and kept us from being truthful and open; intolerable conflicts have worn us down and even made us cynical. Are we still of any use?

The necessities of subterfuge and compromise had already cost him a great deal. He pondered the different motives for fighting evil, noting that even the finest intentions could prove insufficient. “Who stands firm?” Bonhoeffer asked:

Only the one for whom the final standard is not his reason, his principles, his conscience, his freedom, his virtue, but who is ready to sacrifice all these, when in faith and sole allegiance to God he is called to obedient and responsible action: the responsible person, whose life will be nothing but an answer to God’s question and call.

In this letter, one of Bonhoeffer’s most moving and powerful writings, the various threads of Bonhoeffer’s life and work came together. He had been one of the few in his church to demand protection for the persecuted as a necessary political step. He had called upon his church, traditionally aligned with the state, to confront the consequences of that alliance. The church struggle, as he wrote Bishop George Bell in 1934, was “not something that occurs just within the church, but it attacks the very roots of National Socialism. The point is freedom. . . .”

[click to continue…]


Christ is Risen!

Easter eggs, 2015

Easter eggs, 2015

Roman tools.

Roman tools.

So this is what it’s like when love
leaves, and one is disappointed
that the body and mind continue to exist,

exacting payment from each other,
engaging in stale rituals of desire,
and it would seem the best use of one’s time

is not to stand for hours outside
her darkened house, drenched and chilled,
blinking into the slanting rain. …

An excerpt from the poem “Gouge, Adze, Rasp, Hammer” by Chris Forhan


Sanctuary Movement co-founder and Quaker theologian Jim Corbett (author of Goatwalking and Sanctuary for All Life) gave this lecture for the plenary sessions of the 1986 Friends General Conference gathering at Carleton College in Northfield, MN. Pat Corbett, wife to Jim, speaks concerning her involvement with the sanctuary movement.

“There are a few individuals in every age who live outside their own time. Galileo, Leonardo Da Vinci, Sor Juana de la Cruz and … Jim Corbett. The great prophets often dome from some dusty, out-of-the-way, God-forsaken corner of the world … like Bethlehem or, in Jim’s case, the Sonoran Desert hinterlands. God willing, Jim Corbett’s Sanctuary for All Life will be considered in two hundred years as holy writ.”–Rose Marie Berger

Goatwalking: A Guide to Wildland Living

Sanctuary for All Life: The Cowbalah of Jim Corbett


by Fay Ocampo

by Fay Ocampo

Pope Francis today called for prayers for families and offered this beautiful one as an example:

Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
In you we contemplate
The splendor of true love,
We turn to you with confidence.
Holy Family of Nazareth,
Make our families, also,
Places of communion and cenacles of prayer,
Authentic schools of the Gospel,
And little domestic Churches.
Holy Family of Nazareth
May our families never more experience
Violence, isolation, and division:
May anyone who was wounded or scandalized
Rapidly experience consolation and healing.
Holy Family of Nazareth,
May the upcoming Synod of Bishops
Re-awaken in all an awareness
Of the sacred character and inviolability of the family,
Its beauty in the project of God.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
Hear and answer our prayer. Amen.


Richard Rohr: Paradox Times Three

portraits-richard-rohrA few weeks ago, Franciscan Richard Rohr stopped by the Sojourners offices. It’s been several years since I’ve seen him and it was great to reconnect. He spent some quality time with our Sojourners’ pastor, Juba, a rescued pound pup with an incredibly joyous disposition.

Richard spoke with us about the nature of a contemplative life and laying down dualistic thinking, the binary mind. This is something that didn’t really make sense to me when I was younger, but now I’m beginning to glimpse a way into it.

Below is an excerpt adapted from Richard Rohr’s “Prophets Then, Prophets Now” (CD, MP3 download) and “Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer” (p 178).

A paradox is something that initially looks like a contradiction, but if you go deeper with it and hold it longer or at a different level, it isn’t necessarily so. Holding out for a reconciling third, a tertium quid, allows a very different perspective and gives a different pair of eyes beyond mere either/or. You’d think Christians would have been prepared for this. Notice that Jesus in many classic icons is usually holding up two fingers as if to say, “I hold this seeming contradiction together in my one body!” Jesus is the living paradox, which, frankly, confounds and disturbs most of us. Normally humans identify with only one side of any seeming contradiction (“dualistic thinking” being the norm among humans). For Jesus to be totally human would logically cancel out the possibility that he is also totally divine. And for us to be grungy human beings would cancel out that we are children of God. Only the mystical, or non-dual mind, can reconcile such a creative tension.

That’s why Jesus is our icon of transformation! That’s why we say we are saved “in him.” We have to put together what Jesus put together. The same reconciliation has to take place in my soul. I have to know that I am a son of earth and a son of heaven. You have to know that you are a daughter of God and a daughter of earth at the same time, and they don’t cancel one another out.

All of creation has a cruciform pattern of loss and renewal, death and resurrection, letting go and becoming more. It is a “coincidence of opposites” (St. Bonaventure), a collision of cross-purposes waiting for resolution–in us. We are all filled with contradictions needing to be reconciled. The price we pay for holding together these opposites is always some form of crucifixion. Jesus himself was crucified between a good thief and a bad thief, hanging between heaven and earth, holding on to both his humanity and his divinity, a male body with a feminine soul. Yet he rejected neither side of these forces, but suffered them all, and “reconciled all things in himself” (Ephesians 2:10).–Richard Rohr, OFM