This week has been like a news tsunami. 15 min after Justice Kennedy announced his retirement yesterday, I had to turn off all news notifications and walk away. It just felt like a constant onslaught of hard, hurtful, and heartbreaking headlines. Yet flipping through my feeds this morning, really only two issues were catching attention: the plight of migrant families and the after effects of Kennedy’s resignation. Both important stories, but there is a funny paradox in onslaught. When we are overwhelmed by a constant stream of new (or seemingly new) information, very little of it actually catches our attention.
For people of faith, there is a great deal we that needs our attention. So here are 6 stories I noticed this week. Few of these have an unambiguously correct response, but all touch on matters of faith and ought to be a part of Christian conversation right now.
1. Concern over the erosion of the “rules of war”
The modern rules of warfare are intended to protect civilians, refugees, and aid agencies seeking to help them. However, in conflicts across the globe, the “rules” are being circumvented or flat out ignored, leading to greater brutality and long-term damage.
Why the Church should care: While the modern rules are rooted in the Geneva Convention, Christians have long advocated boundaries on violence and respect for life in the midst of conflict. Not to mention, many of those aid agencies coming under fire are backed and run by churches and faith-based organizations
2. Peer Groups Help Lower Stigma of Mental Health Issues
Loneliness, depression, and anxiety are reaching epidemic proportions in American culture. Coordinate conditions like addiction, suicide, and debt are rising along with them. Creating spaces for people to be vulnerable seems to help them navigate difficult moments and reach out for professional help when they need it.
Why the Church should care: The church should be about offering good news of life and hope. At our best, we know how to form groups and model the kind of vulnerability and accountability that can be helpful in dark time.
3. Hate Crime Charges in Virginia
Almost a year ago, a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville Virginia turned deadly when a young man rammed his car into a crowd of counter-protesters killing Heather Heyer and wounding several others. He was charged this week with 28 counts of hate crime acts.
Why the Church should care: Racism and violent retaliation are sins. We as (Wesleyan) Christians are called to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves.
4. SCOTUS changes the rules for Public Employee Unions
Among the flurry of Supreme Court rulings in the last few days was Janus v AFSCME. In its judgment, the Court overturned precedent to declare that dues could not be compelled from non-union members even if they benefit from union activities.
Why the Church should care: Because of the Biblical mandate to care for the poor, many churches were on the frontlines of creating and supporting the labor movement of the 20th century. Specifically if you are a United Methodist, we have a resolution statement on our position.
5. Rolling back some protections for Red Wolves
The Interior Department announced this week that they are changing the way they manage the endangered American red wolf. The change includes allowing landowners to kill wolves who stray onto their land.
Why the Church should care: I’ll confess, I’m not qualified to assess the good of this particular issue, but the article made the list because it is the latest in a rash of reversals in ecological policy. The church’s response to ecological issues usually ranges from apathy to resistance. However, scripture both charges us to be good stewards of God’s creation and reminds us that redemption is not just for humanity. We should probably pay more attention to this stuff.
6. Casa Vides
Need a moment of hope, read/listen to Youth Radio’s story about volunteers at Casa Vides. Casa Vides provides shelter for people coming out of ICE detention or who evaded border control. Recently, they’ve been housing parents who are attempting to reunite with their children. Two college students share their experience serving.
Why the Church should care: As we push for better conditions for those detained at the border it is crucial to provide models of what that might look like (don’t just name the problem, be part of the solution). Additionally, it does my soul good to be reminded of the hope offered in the leadership of young people.
What stories do you think are flying below the radar this week? It is easy to get overwhelmed with so much going on. Take care of your soul, but stay aware, friends.
Sidenote: The crisis on our Southern border continues to unfold. While the Executive Order was a first step, it is still unclear what the plan is to keep families together beyond 20 days or to reunite separated parents. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting some discussion of Scriptures dealing with immigration and the church’s response.