Editor’s note: Joshua DuBois served as director of President Obama’s Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships from 2008 until he stepped down last week.
By Joshua DuBois, Special to CNN
I first heard the name Barack Obama in the summer of 2004 over a half-pound burger and fries on Capitol Hill. I was putting in long hours as a legislative intern for a wily member of Congress between two years of graduate school at Princeton, where I was studying public policy. The pay was meager – enough for gas for my beat-up Chevy Blazer and a tiny Craigslist apartment with two guys and a cat. But it was good to be in Washington and have a few months to wrestle with what in the world I was going to do with the rest of my life.
But by the time my internship was ending in late July, I wasn’t any closer to figuring things out. I knew I loved Christ – I was an associate pastor at a small Pentecostal church back home – and wanted my career to be tied to my faith. I also knew I wanted to help people who were struggling; my grandmother was active in the civil rights movement, and my parents made sure that working for justice and mercy was in my bones. And finally, I knew that I had some serious student loans to pay back. The hard part was figuring out how to balance all three.
Late one day, July 27 to be exact, I walked a couple of blocks to my favorite neighborhood dive, a local spot named the Hawk 'n' Dove. There was always a happy hour special going on at the Hawk, and they showed more Red Sox games than Yankees – which, since I'm a Sox fan, was a good thing in my book.
I settled in to enjoy my burger when the place got quiet on me – and the Hawk 'n' Dove was never quiet. A man was on television, an Illinois state senator named Barack Obama. And this guy was giving quite a speech.
By Arielle Hawkins, CNN
Here's the Belief Blog’s morning rundown of the top faith-angle stories from around the United States and around the world. Click the headlines for the full stories.
From the Blog:
CNN: Pope Benedict makes first appearance since resignation news
Huge crowds in the Vatican cheered Pope Benedict XVI Wednesday as he made his first public appearance since announcing his resignation at the end of the month. He thanked the Roman Catholic faithful in several languages and said it was not appropriate for him to continue as pope. He appeared tired but not visibly unwell as he sat and read his remarks off several sheets of paper. Benedict also celebrated an Ash Wednesday mass marking the beginning of Lent at St. Peter's Basilica in the afternoon.
CNN: Tibetan sets himself on fire in front of shrine in Nepal
A Tibetan man set himself on fire in front of a famous Buddhist shrine in the Nepalese capital on Wednesday, police said, becoming the latest Tibetan to adopt this harrowing form of protest over Chinese rule. Self-immolation began as a form of protest among Tibetans in China in February 2009, when a young monk set himself ablaze. In March 2011, another young monk followed in his footsteps, becoming the first to die. Scores of others have since followed suit.
CNN's Max Foster talks about controversies the next pope will face, including sex abuse allegations within the church.
By Sara Sidner, CNN
(CNN) - Anat Hoffman had no idea who comedian Sarah Silverman was until Silverman's sister and niece were detained with her Sunday in Jerusalem for wearing prayer shawls as they prayed at the Western Wall.
Police detained 10 women for "performing a religious act contrary to the local customs." The group of women, who call themselves the Women of the Wall, went to pray in Jewish shawls known as tallitot that Israeli law says only Jewish men can wear there.
Editor's note: Stan Chu Ilo is professor of religion and education, director of field education, at St Michael's College, University of Toronto, Canada. He is also author of: "The Face of Africa: Looking Beyond the Shadows" and "The Church and Development in Africa: Aid and Development from the Perspective of Catholic Social Ethics."
By Stan Chu Ilo, Special to CNN
(CNN) - Cardinal John Onaiyekan of Abuja, Nigeria, was asked last week at the celebration of Black History Month in Toronto if he thought that the time was ripe for an African pope. His answer attracted much cheering from the crowd of over 500 Catholics of African descent.
He said: "The time for an African pope was ripe even in the time of the Apostolic Fathers in the first century of the church."
"I am not saying that I wish to be considered for the papacy, but the fact that the Gospel is to be preached to all peoples, languages, and races means that the highest leadership of the church should be open to anyone from any race, language and nation. I will not be surprised to see an African pope in my lifetime."
Russians step up to CNN's Open Mic to share what they want from the next pope.
From Manesh Shrestha, for CNN
Kathmandu, Nepal (CNN) - A Tibetan man set himself on fire in front of a famous Buddhist shrine in the Nepalese capital on Wednesday, police said, becoming the latest Tibetan to adopt this harrowing form of protest over Chinese rule.
Self-immolation began as a form of protest among Tibetans in China in February 2009, when a young monk set himself ablaze. In March 2011, another young monk followed in his footsteps, becoming the first to die. Scores of others have since followed suit.
The number of Tibetans in China who have set themselves on fire to protest Beijing's rule has now reached 100, according to Tibetan advocacy groups.
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.