Kathryn Freeman prays for justice: “There is a truism of being a black woman in America: You always can count on other black women to raise your head, to wipe your tears, to fight for you. It is part of the reason black mothers are celebrated so much in our culture, because a black mother always will tell you—even if she is not your biological mother—you are created in the image of God, and you are worthy when the world says you are not. We are our sisters’ keepers.”


Anne Kennedy looks at the work of Brené Brown: “Women in American society, despite so many technological ‘helps’ such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, are increasingly risk averse. When they do manage to make meaningful connections with other women, those connections are subject to the glass shards of judgment and indifference. If there is a single theme throughout Brown’s work, it is that shame drives people, women especially, away from themselves and each other into the netherworld of depression, addiction, perfectionism, discontent, and anxiety. It is a strong, bitter force, what she calls a ‘silent epidemic.’”


Jody Hassett Sanchez considers beauty during the pandemic. She concludes: “We typically dash through the world, barely noticing our surroundings or staring at our phones as one image quickly replaces the previous one. Now, as we settle into six weeks of self-quarantine, we have an opportunity to practice a new discipline—to actively notice the beauty on offer all around us, to go back and look or listen again. Far from distracting us from what is essential, beauty can draw us closer to all that is good and holy and healing.”


Eddie Arthur ponders mission work in a post COVID world: “If the disruption that we are living through had happened more slowly, agencies would have had time to adapt to them. They’ve adapted before and they could do so again – though the larger and more complicated they grow, the harder change is. However, we don’t have a few decades to grow and adapt; the luxury of time is not available to us.”


Alan Cross talks to Karen Swallow Prior: “Dr. Prior is a cultural critic, evangelical author, and an English professor on faculty at Liberty University at the time (she has recently moved to Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary). I asked her for thoughts about the present concept of truth in America, especially amongst evangelicals. I’m a Baptist pastor, so I was particularly curious about how she thought evangelicals related to concepts of objective truth and justice in the current moment. Will we lose our ability to come to a consensus on right and wrong and what is true and false in the public square if partisan loyalties trump transcendent truth claims? Dr. Prior responded with a sobering perspective.”


Joshua Heavin examines the lure of porn: “The frustrated and defeated feel powerful and free, despite being ruled by desire and exploiting others. The bored chase a rush of exhilaration, only to crash onto doldrums requiring ever-more extreme highs. The lonely perceive themselves as chosen, like a partner to someone who has shared their most intimate and sacred parts of themselves, but without ever being known by another in the binding cords of commitment. Practitioners cultivate a subtle contempt toward all of humanity, recalibrating our sense of the worth of other human beings into categories of desirable and non-desirable objects for instant self-gratification.”


Emily Belz tells the story of Jeremy Caliz who lost his father: “That began about two chaotic weeks at the height of the coronavirus outbreak in New York. Jeremy hoped telling his father’s story would honor his dad, who died alone. But he also hoped it would help other families navigate over-the-phone hospital consultations and virtual funerals. ‘I like to think that before my dad died I took COVID seriously … Was I really taking it seriously?’ said Jeremy.”


Anne Pharr isn’t broken:

Why do I try so hard to be Intact—
to hold together these shards
even as I watch fragments fall through my fingers,
sharp edges stinging my thin skin,
stripping all semblance of wholeness....


Podcast of the Week: With the advent of the coronavirus threat and subsequent quarantine measures, many people are referencing Psalm 91 as though it were intended to provide immunity from the virus. This is an abuse of this psalm. In the Naked Bible Podcast they talk about the meaning of Psalm 91 – specifically, its characterization as an exorcistic psalm in the days of Jesus. That context has ramifications for its use by Satan to tempt Jesus into acting outside of God’s plan for salvation and Jesus’s rebuttal.