The faculty of two esteemed divinity schools have been asked to use more inclusive language to talk about God in their classrooms.

Duke and Vanderbilt Universities have both separately made the request through different methods.

At Vanderbilt, the divinity school's course catalog talks about its commitment to taking "account of the religious pluralism in our world." It goes on to say, "The Vanderbilt Divinity School commits continuously and explicitly to include gender as an analyzed category and to mitigate sexism in the Divinity School's curricula ... This includes consistent attention to the use of inclusive language, especially in relation to the Divine."

The school's associate dean for academic affairs, Melissa Snarr, told Heatstreet that this new request has actually been part of the school's policy since 1999. The pertinent part of that document said “masculine titles, pronouns, and imagery for God have served as a cornerstone for the patriarchy,” and pointed out that God is not always referred to with a gendered name or pronoun. That 1999 document goes on to recommend the faculty's "exploration of fresh language for God."

Snarr also told Heatstreet that these aren't mandates, but suggestions that are up for interpretation.

At Duke, their request for more inclusive language is for a program where students are already working in Methodist churches. The Duke guidelines were more detailed, but still described as a suggestion based on the times we're in.

Today we are more acutely aware that our use of language is gendered, and that use of exclusively gendered language ... can be harmful and exclusionary. "Man" is now viewed as what we call an "exclusive" use of language; that is, it is seen as excluding women. Therefore, we recommend that you find other ways to refer to humankind in general and use terms that are inclusive.

The four-page guide includes suggestions for pronouns, occupations, collective nouns, ways to address people and God, suggesting "Godself" as a substitute for "Him."

Referring to God in gender-neutral language can sound clumsy, but this is largely due to the fact that we are in a transitional period with our use of language. Imagination, patience and diligence are required in order to use language that expands and enriches our understanding of God.

Similarly, in the Harvard Theological Review's guidelines for prospective writers, it says to avoid speaking about humankind by using words like "man" or gendered pronouns. It also goes on to say, "The editors are aware that it is not always appropriate to employ inclusive language when referring to God or divine beings. In such cases, authors should adjust their usage to the historical character of the material studied." Discuss

This year’s breakout drama This Is Us has been renewed for two more seasons, in an effort to keep you in a state of constant tears through at least 2019.

The show—which at looks the lives of several individuals and families experiencing a series of emotional plot-lines—was a critical and audience favorite for NBC. It’s also featured some underlying, deeper messages about love, family and consequences. From our piece “The Biblical Truths at the Heart of ‘This Is Us’”:

More than just giving us an hour of weekly entertainment, This Is Us powerfully reminds us that where we come from matters. What happened in the lives of those who raised us has the potential to significantly impact the people we become. We can try to downplay this with cries of “I’m never going to be like my parents,” but the powers of both nature and nurture are hard to fully escape.

A few years back writer and RELEVANT contributor Jon Negroni caused a stir online when he outlined a theory in detail of how all Pixar film are connected and exist in the same universe—some, at the same time. It’s a compelling read, especially if you’re a fan of the movies.

Now, the studio has released a short film, showing some of the many connections hidden throughout the movies.

Prepare to have your mind blown:


Husband and wife duo Johnnyswim stopped by Conan last night, and played the song “First Try” from their hit new album Georgica Pond.

The duo was featured in the most recent issue of RELEVANT, where they talked about faith, the inspiration for the new album and how they started making music together. Discuss

Part of the vision of the Star Wars franchise moving forward is to have spin-off films created for different characters within the fictional universe. This mash-up trailer—which uses audio from the current biopic Jackie (about former first lady Jackie Kennedy) and clips from Star Wars Episodes I, II, and III—shows why Natalie Portman’s Padmé Amidala also deserves her own movie.

There won’t be another Camelot. Discuss

A Secret Service discrimination case that has spanned more than 20 years was settled out of court for $24 million yesterday.

More than 100 black Secret Service agents argued that the security agency discriminated against black people by promoting less-qualified candidates over them from 1995 to 2005. The lawsuit began during the Clinton administration and was foisted off and delayed for several years as administrations and heads of the Secret Service changed.

Ray Moore, the lead plaintiff in the case, was part of President Clinton's security team and recalled putting in a bid for promotion 200 times and never being successful. White agents trained by him were often successful in being promoted over him.

Other plaintiffs also said they experienced the same thing, being passed over by unexperienced white agents who had lower performance ratings.

They also said the agency allowed a system of racism, including calling foreign leaders under their protection the n-word and, but the agents were told not to complain for fear of ruining their careers.

The agency has agreed to the settlement, but admits to no wrongdoing and no guilt of having an institutional bias within the ranks.

Jeh Johnson, the Homeland Security secretary who oversees the Secret Service, had his agency reopen this case to find a resolution before President Obama's term ended. In a statement, he said: “I am pleased that we are able to finally put this chapter of Secret Service history behind us. Had the matter gone to trial, it would have required that we re-live things long past, just at a time when the Secret Service is on the mend.”

The claim began with eight original plaintiffs, who will each get up to $300,000.

As part of the settlement, the Secret Service will have a new hotline for agents to report incidents and those incidents will be tracked when it comes time for those people to be promoted. Discuss