MH News October 3, 2019
American Jesuit priest James Martin had a private, 30-minute meeting with Pope Francis in the library of the Vatican. The conversation, scheduled at the initiative of the Pope, included conversation on the LGBTQ community and how the Roman Catholic Church could develop a more humane and compassionate stance toward this demographic. Martin published in 2017 a book entitled Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity and gave a speech entitled “Showing Welcome and Respect in our Parishes for LGBTQ People and their Families” at the Pastoral Congress for the World Meeting of Families in 2018. Francis is well known for his famous response to a question about gay persons and gay behavior, “Who am I to judge?”
Sandeep Dhaliwal, a deputy with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, was killed in the line of duty, shot in the back by a driver who had just been stopped for a minor traffic violation. What made this murder notable is that Dhaliwal was the first Sikh sheriff’s deputy in Texas who was allowed to wear his turban, beard and other articles of faith while on duty, beginning in 2015, at which time he said, “As a Sikh American, I felt the need to represent the Sikh community in law enforcement. Serving in the police force is natural to us, as Sikhs value service.” The driver who shot Dhaliwal, a man who had violated an existing probation, was quickly apprehended. At this time, there is no evidence that Dhaliwal’s Sikh’s religious identity was a factor in the crime.
Rapper and entertainer Kanye West has followed up his series of Sunday gospel concerts with an announcement that he is quitting secular music to give his full attention to Christian music and film. West, the husband of noted West Coast celebrity Kim Kardashian, was converted to faith in Christ several years ago and has been on a journey of increased participation in Christian events and publications. His latest endeavor is a film and accompanying music album, both with the title “Jesus is King.” Adam Tyson, pastor of the small Placerita Bible Church in Santa Clarita, California, has (surprisingly) been a key person in the spiritual journey of the famous performer.
Robert Jeffress stays in the news, it seems—this time with provocative public announcements about climate change and civil war. The Baptist pastor (First Baptist Church, Dallas) responded to the appeal of teenager Greta Thorburg for the world’s leaders to tackle climate change with a challenge for her to read her Bible. There, he said, she will see that, after the Flood, God promised never to destroy the earth by water. Later, he responded to the impeachment moves by the United States House of Representatives with a threat that such an action could trigger a drastic response: “I do want to make this prediction this morning: If the Democrats are successful in removing the president from office, I’m afraid it will cause a Civil War-like fracture in this nation from which this country will never heal,”
Jews in the United States and around the world celebrated Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, which marks the beginning of both the civil year and the High Holy Days. The two-day celebration begins with the blowing of the ram’s horn, called a shofar, in accordance with guidelines written in the Bible, in Leviticus, chapter 23. The celebration includes religious services at the synagogue or temple and festival meals, featuring apples dipped in honey—intended to signify the hope for a sweet year. The High Holy Days also includes Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, on the calendar for ten days after the New Year.