As we approach the season of Lent, several new Orbis titles invite us on a journey of conversion—or at least a fresh examination of traditional beliefs and engrained narratives.
In Come, Have Breakfast: Meditations on God and the Earth, Elizabeth Johnson, one of the foremost Catholic theologians today, continues her project of examining Christian faith in relation to the natural world, the earth, and the threats posed by climate change. In each of these luminous meditations, most inspired by the Psalms and other scriptural texts, she offers a snapshot of God’s care for Creation—a planet in peril—with the intention of widening our minds and hearts for ecological care.
. Reflecting on the parable of the Good Samaritan, Johnson asks how we might act differently if we regarded other creatures as our “neighbors.” The Psalms tells us that “all creation praises God.” “How magnificent to realize that the living God to whom we pray is also receiving the praise of the squirrel, the eagle, the trout, the firefly, the cactus, and the coral reef. We humans do not pray alone, but form a chorus with a world of singers sharing the journey of life together.” And yet, with the rising tide of extinctions, how terrible to hear that chorus steadily diminishing.
One of the most powerful representations of God’s care for those on the margins is the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe—the apparition of Mary to Saint Juan Diego in present-day Mexico City, and the miraculous image imprinted on his cape. Orlando Espin, the author of many books on “popular religion,” has written a new book about Guadalupe: Pentecost at Tepeyac? Pneumatologies from the People. Espin argues that the cult of Guadalupe is not so much an expression of Marian devotion, as a popular form of devotion to the Holy Spirit, an expression of the Spirit’s subversive, empowering role in history and culture.
For centuries the biblical story of Joshua’s conquest of Canaan has been weaponized to justify colonization of the Americas, South Africa, and elsewhere. The same story play outs in current struggles in Israel and Palestine. Yet modern archeology undermines this traditional narrative. In Undoing Conquest: Ancient Israel, the Bible and the Future of Christianity, Kate Common draws on this new research to challenge the theological imagination of conquest that has permeated Christianity, in the hope of developing a more justice-oriented praxis for the church today.
Finally, Confronting Whiteness: A Spiritual Journey of Reflection, Conversation, and Transformation by W. Benjamin Boswell, is conceived and designed for use at the congregational level, presenting a new posture for people of faith and the church in understanding and confronting the realities of racism in America today.
In this season, may we remember all our neighbors, everywhere, with mercy, love, and contrite hearts.