paganbabiesAuthorial indulgence: Let’s start by noting the death of the great crime writer, Elmore Leonard – raised Catholic and educated by Jesuits, he may not be canonized any time soon but he still possessed a pretty keen sense of Catholic culture. As he wrote in an op-ed in the New York Times in February after Pope Benedict – two years younger than Leonard – resigned:

The church needs, I believe, someone like John XXIII, whose example of humility opened the door to a fresh way of thinking.

A few weeks later, it seems that’s what the church got in Pope Francis.

By the way, for anyone who likes to write or wants to write, Elmore Leonard’s “Ten Rules of Writing” – though a bit tongue-in-cheek – may not quite be the Decalogue of composition but they are worth mulling over, especially the last one, No. 10: “Try to leave out the parts that readers tend to skip.”

That’s what we try to do with the Daily Religion News Roundup, so let’s dive in.

Speaking of Pope Benedict, he’s finally explained why he did step down: “God told me to.” He didn’t elaborate much, apparently, beyond saying it was “a mystical experience.”

Then there’s this from the new guy:

Apropos, the man in line to be the top Catholic churchman in Ireland says he won’t deny communion to Irish pols over their support for an abortion bill.

Here in the U.S. as the ranks of Latino Catholics grow, Southern Baptists are figuring out how to make them more Baptist.

The folks at Westboro Baptist could probably use some of those lessons too, but the infamous Kansas church got a dose of its own medicine when they showed up to protest a Lincoln, Nebraska concert by Ke$ha by performing their unique version of her song of acceptance, “We R Who We R.” WBC’s rewrite was “God Hates Who U R,” natch.

Instead the congregants found themselves pwned by the pop star, who sent her pelvic-thrusting backup dancers to titillate them with their moves:

Other conservatives aren’t too happy with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s decision to sign a gay conversion ban, while some Catholics are fuming that the governor is openly rejecting church teaching in signing the law. Well, it’s Chris Christie – arguing is kind of what he does.

On the other hand, some black clergy aren’t too happy having gays and lesbians taking part in the upcoming 50th anniversary of the 1963 March for civil rights in Washington. Our WaPo colleagues report.

Is Apple a religion? Or was Steve Jobs – subject of a new biopic – the prophet of a different sort of faith? Our own Jeff Weiss has a great essay on a topic that has obsessed iTheologians for decades.

It looks like political Islam is on the defensive across the Middle East. But try telling that to Egyptian Christians who are afraid to go out of their homes to find food.

Recommended reading: David T. Koyzis at First Things with a brief history of Christians and nationalism in the Middle East. Fascinating background.

This should be noted: prominent Indian anti-superstition activist Narendra Dabholkar was shot dead this week.

Rabbi David Wolpe is discovering how perilous the wired world can be – he’s apologizing for flaming a 13-year-old boy as “a pubescent Justin Timberlake” because of the boy’s over-the-top bar mitzvah. Not that Wolpe thinks the bar mitzvah was less than a circus. Nor does our own Lauren Markoe, who has a thoughtful examination of conscience on the topic – and just in time of the High Holidays, which are early this year. (Why aren’t they ever on time?)

Wolpe better watch out, he may have some competition for top celebrity Jewish leader: Kathie Lee Gifford:

“I want to go to Yeshiva University and become a rabbi,” she says. “I want to get my Orthodox rabbinical degree.”

Whether Kathie Lee can get the title is another thing.

The latest edition of U.S. Catholic has a compelling story on serving the “picket-fence poor” – the poor people in the suburbs whose numbers are growing twice as fast as their city counterparts.

Jim McDermott, a Jesuit (and a screenwriter), points us to “pretty much the best parish sign ever.”

parishsignFinally, Dave Roberts is taking a year off from the Internet. The Dish rounds up reactions. (Rabbi Wolpe is not among them.) I’m often tempted by such a Sabbath. But don’t you go anywhere – sign up for the Roundup in the box below, it’s all you need to know, every morning.

David Gibson

Categories: Culture

David Gibson

David Gibson

David Gibson is an award-winning religion journalist, author and filmmaker. He is a national reporter for RNS and has written two books on Catholic topics, the latest a biography of Pope Benedict XVI.


  1. “On the other hand, some black clergy aren’t too happy having gays and lesbians taking part in the upcoming 50th anniversary of the 1963 March for civil rights in Washington”

    These people need a history lesson. The main organizer of the march was Bayard Rustin, an openly gay black man.

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