We know we’ve been behind on Weeks in Review, but we wanted to make sure to get one out before Ash Wednesday and kicking off Lent in 2013.
When we checked our stats for the beginning of 2013, we found a few clear favorites — two interviews with people using social media to talk about religion in new ways, and one piece about the French bishops talking about religion and same-sex marriage in a new way (see our Top Three, below). Our take-away: it’s not that religion is boring or people are refusing to listen to religious figures — but nobody wants to be preached at, and we’d better be at least as interesting as cats doing something funny. (That or Fr. James Martin with his Top 5 Recommendations for 2013, which, as is usual for Fr. Martin, swamped our stats.)
Now that 2013 is in full swing, here’s a chance to catch up with what TJP’s been up to for the last few weeks. We’ll offer some of our highlights here — if you want to catch up more thoroughly, you can check out the archives of our essays, blogs, and All Things Linked categories.
TJP Top Three
Two interviews and one translation — here’s what’s been most read at TJP so far in 2013.
- “Holy Mary, Mother of animated GIFs, pray for us…” Tim O’Brien interviewed the creator of the “Mary is My Homegirl” Tumblr — awarding her the title of “probably the coolest grad student in Catholic theology. Ever.” Read all about it, and when you get done, there’s also part 2.
- If you follow @TheJesuitPost on Twitter (and if not, you should fix that), you’ve probably seen us tweet various mildly irreverent prayers @UnvirtuousAbbey. Who are the digital monks who are making religion on social media a bit less boring? Find out in Eric Sundrup’s interview with them.
- The tension over same-sex marriage isn’t restricted to the U.S. — last September, the French bishops’ Council on Family and Society called for “opening the debate” on some new ground for discussion. Recently, some bloggers made translations of the document available in English. What’s the new ground? Simply this: both a clear overview of Catholic teaching and also a close look at the real desires of homosexual persons for meaningful relationships — which makes it very much worth reading.
Still Thinking About Newtown
A number of our contributors have been paying attention to the developments of the post-Newtown conversation about violence, gun control, and mental health. Here’s an overview:
- Jason Welle reminded us that like prayer, reflection culminates, finally, in action and asked where (and when) we would begin.
- On the question of whether or not gun control regulations will help, Michael Rozier says the answer is that we don’t know yet — that’s also the problem. If we want to move the debate forward, solid, unbiased public health research is one place to start.
- Along with (and sometimes instead of) the debate on gun control, we’ve seen calls for an increased focus on mental health — which is a subject with a history, as Jason Welle reminds us while looking towards its future.
When we’re not in church on Sunday…
… we might be watching the game. At least, we are as long as the lights stay on. A few TJP takes on the sports world:
- In another of our occasional TJPodcasts, a few of our contributors got ready for the big game.
- During the run-up to the college football championship game — and before the Manti Te’o girlfriend story took over the news — Jeff Sullivan looked at the various ways that God might be praised, or blamed, depending on the outcome.
- Michael Rossmann, one of TJP’s own Domers, looks at how football is a way in to a great Catholic university.
- And there’s a Top 5 Sports Moments from 2012 as well.
One eye on the culture, both eyes on the Cross
If there’s one unifying theme for TJP and the “faith that does relevance,” it’s that God’s at work even in the most apparently secular aspects of the culture we live in and make together, if we’re willing to pay attention. Here’s some of what our contributors have been keeping an eye on:
- Brendan Busse’s been listening to a series of NPR interviews with some of the increasing number of people who claim no religious affiliation at all. Because the people, more than the numbers, are worth listening to, he suggested in a later reflection that from both the believers and the “nones” need to ask each other: “Who do you say that I am?”
- A “confession” from a UC Berkeley professor who believes in Christ: that sometimes faith is shame. Quang Tran tells us why it’s worth reading.
- Jason Welle’s keeping an eye on happiness: the happiest man in the world, who might have something to teach us, and the list of the happiest countries, which might be missing the point.
- Are you ever afraid to click “like” on Facebook? Jake Martin might know why.
- Some screen time:
- Jim McDermott tells us what he loves about Fringe, as the series has its finale
- A Russian novel, a quirky cult-favorite TV series: Joe Simmons takes the parallels found by Helen Rittelmyer between The Brothers Karamazov and Arrested Development as encouragement to pitch the series to his friends again.
- Vinny Marchionni looks at what Les Misérables has to say about sacrifice
- Worth watching: Kevin O’Brien recommends Fr. Schall’s last lecture at Georgetown
- So nice, we recommended it twice: both Sam Sawyer and Perry Petrich were listening to Sufjan Stevens turning Christmas music inside out.
- And 2012’s Top 5 in Music as well.
A Few Links Before We Leave You
Even if they don’t fit a theme, we want to make sure you don’t miss these:
- Whether we ever feel ready for it or not, Joe Simmons has learned that our God is the God of death, too.
- Paul Lickteig finished his reflection on the connections between saints and superheroes
- And Jeff Sullivan introduced a new feature linking the stories of celebrities and saints
- Just because they’re cool:
- NASA’s night view of Earth, “The Black Marble,” courtesy of Brian Konzman
- From Paul Lickteig, a link to a living map of the two most recent censuses
- Paying attention to politics:
- What Obama’s re-election does, and doesn’t, tell us about racism, via Mario Powell
- And what’s worth reading on the new compromise and latest stage in the contraception mandate controversy
Perry Petrich has been keeping up with You Can’t Take It With You, bidding goodbye, among other things, to Saturday mail delivery — but we’re going to keep delivering more stories like the ones above, and even these occasional Weeks in Review. Till next time … happy reading.