Video: Patricia Appelbaum on St. Francis, America’s Most Popular Saint

Patricia Appelbaum, author of St. Francis of America: How a Thirteenth-Century Friar Became America’s Most Popular Saint, talks to Peggy Bendroth as part of the History Matters series at the Congregational Library and Archives. Continue Reading Video: Patricia Appelbaum on St. Francis, America’s Most Popular Saint

Interview: Patricia Appelbaum on St. Francis of America

I started out thinking that the garden statue was kind of a cliché. Imagine just going out and buying a mass-produced plastic image and thinking there is something special about it! Commercial statuary seemed to trivialize Francis’s meaning, to make him less challenging. Instead of a figure who calls for drastic change, radical poverty, and absolute devotion—a saint who was active in the wider world—our vision is limited to a pretty statue and birdbath on our private property. But I came to change my views. There’s a real spiritual side to this, and also a cultural critique. Continue Reading Interview: Patricia Appelbaum on St. Francis of America

Patricia Appelbaum: Pope Francis and the 1967 Theologians

This past summer, Pope Francis released his very welcome encyclical on climate change. Supporters and opponents have both noted his attention to science. What I find more interesting is his attention to theology and religion. Continue Reading Patricia Appelbaum: Pope Francis and the 1967 Theologians

Patricia Appelbaum: Protestant Blessings and Cultural Change

It’s the season of blessings again. In many places there are blessings of backpacks for the new school year. Here and there, bicycles that were not blessed in spring will have another chance. In October, religious groups all over the country and around the world will hold “blessings of the animals” in honor of St. Francis of Assisi. What I find remarkable is how many of these ceremonies take place in Protestant churches. It wasn’t always like this. Continue Reading Patricia Appelbaum: Protestant Blessings and Cultural Change

Remembering My Lai in the year of Calley’s apology

Today is the 42nd anniversary of the My Lai Massacre, certainly not a happy memory—in fact , the opposite of that—but one well worth stopping to ponder. On this day in 1968, during the Vietnam War, the massacre was carried out by United States troops.  Under the direction of Lt. William L. Calley Jr., a… Continue Reading Remembering My Lai in the year of Calley’s apology