Grammy-winning gospel singer George Beverly Shea has died at 104 – a life as full as it was long for the man behind booming voice that for decades rang out at Billy Graham’s crusades, and then years after Graham stopped holding big public events.
Christianity Today is updating with details. But for me the simplest touchstone will always be Bev Shea’s rendition of “How Great Thou Art” – video at the end of the roundup. Big voice, tinny piano – so effective, and yet would it work for today’s generation, raised on Broadway-style production values even in church.
The Boston Marathon was more than a race for many: it has a religious allure for the Church of Running, writes our own Dan Burke, and the bombing desecrated that space as well.
Muslims are girding for backlash over the Boston bombings even though no suspects, foreign or domestic, have been identified.
Leaders of Boston’s largest mosque know their congregation is now part of the warp and woof of the city, but they are taking no chances and are getting police protection.
In the New York Times, a young Pakistani who was enjoying Chinese food a few blocks away from the bombing recounts his fears of being eyed as a suspect, and his hopes “that the perpetrator was not a lunatic who would become the new face of a billion people. Not a murderer who would further fan the flames of Islamophobia. Not an animal who would obstruct the ability of thousands of students to complete their educations in the United States. Not an extremist who would maim and hurt the very people who were still recovering from the pain of Sept. 11.”
Cue Judson Phillips, head of Tea Party Nation, who says the bombing occurred because we have a government that is not willing to “destroy radical Islam.”
Combat evil with good, Pope Francis tells Bostonians.
Discussion point: Fordham University law professor Thane Rosenbaum has been speaking about his new book, “Payback: The Case for Revenge.” In short, the lex talionis, “eye for an eye,” is a good thing.
Another lesson: the father of the boy killed in the bombings is grateful for “thoughts and prayers.”
Interesting paradox: We tend to remain optimistic about our own future. But mainly because we think bad things will happen to other people.
Other facts: Most terror bombings have been by domestic perpetrators.
Another paradox? Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who has said his Republicans have to “stop being the stupid party,” says he has no problem with kids being taught creationism as well as evolution. “Bottom line, at the end of the day, we want our kids to be exposed to the best facts,” he tells NBC.
Final paradox: A Houston “church” for atheists. Kimberly Winston explains it all for you.
Bonus: They have “hymns,” too. It’s not George Beverley Shea, but who is?
Speaking of hymns, Margaret Thatcher was buried today, and Erasmus looks at the controversial lyrics of the very traditional music the Iron Lady chose for her funeral. He also has today’s best play on words: “Crypto-feminism.”
The new archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, will meet with gay rights leader Peter Tatchell on Thursday less than a month after the Australian-born activist called Welby “homophobic” for his opposition to same-sex marriage.
A University of Sioux Falls student who recently wrote a blog post saying gay marriage was okay has lost her summer job as counselor at a church camp, apparently one run by her Lutheran denomination. But other ELCA camps have offered Dannika Nash a post.
Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois of Paris told the French bishops that the country’s proposed law legalizing same-sex marriage could incite violence:
“This is the way a violent society develops,” he told the spring meeting of the French bishops’ conference. “Society has lost its capacity of integration and especially its ability to blend differences in a common project.”
Isn’t that arguing for the opposite of what he wants?
Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput is also known as a straight-talking fellow, and God bless him for telling it like is: when asked about his 19 months at the helm of one of the nation’s most storied, and also most troubled, dioceses, Chaput said he is happy to have the job but:
“I haven’t liked it at all … “It has been an awful time.”
It’s not easy being a pope emeritus, either. Benedict XVI turned 86 yesterday (April 16), and the portrait above was unveiled as a “tribute” to him by the German embassy to the Holy See.
Um, danke schön … ?
Then B16’s successor, Francis, goes and says pretty much everything about the Second Vatican Council that Benedict disagreed with. “We celebrate this (50th) anniversary (of Vatican II), we put up a monument but we don’t want it to upset us. We don’t want to change and what’s more there are those who wish to turn the clock back.” This, he went on, “is called stubbornness and wanting to tame the Holy Spirit.”
On the other hand, the American nuns are unsettled by Francis reaffirming Benedict’s investigation of their orders. NCR’s Josh McElwee reports.
That’s it for this version of the daily religion news roundup. I leave you with this video of GBS, and below that you can sign up for the roundup, free. It’s worth it.