We’re playing around with the format for the daily Roundup. Let us know what you think of this one, or if you have any other ideas …

Screenshot from "Chanukkah Honey"

Screenshot from “Chanukkah Honey” courtesy of racheldoesstuff via YouTube

This image is available for Web publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

1. Pope Francis does it again: Pope Francis’ compassion brings joy to another disfigured man (Daily Mail)

You’ve got to see the photos to believe it. “In scenes strikingly similar to his encounter with the disfigured Vinicio Riva two weeks before, the pontiff first spoke with the worshipper and then put his arms around him, blessing him. The man’s identity is not known, nor are the details of what caused such terrible damage to his face.”  

2. Aging icon gets his due: C.T. Vivian adds Presidential Medal of Freedom to a lifetime of activism (RNS)

“The Rev. C.T. Vivian was a stalwart activist on the march toward racial equality. Whether at a lunch counter, on a Freedom Ride, or behind the bars of a prison cell, he was unafraid to take bold action in the face of fierce resistance,” according to the White House citation read before President Obama draped the red, white and blue medal around the neck of Cordy Tindell ‘C.T.’ Vivian.

3. Contested real estate: Vatican embassy move draws ire from former U.S. envoys (NCR)

“Justified primarily on the grounds of enhanced security, the move is described by former U.S. Ambassador James Nicholson, who’s also a former Secretary of Veterans Affairs in the Bush administration and a former chair of the Republican National Committee, as a ‘massive downgrade’ in U.S./Vatican ties.”

4. A House Divided: Church trial shines spotlight on denomination’s ambivalence (RNS)

After a Pennsylvania pastor was given 30 days to recant for presiding at the wedding ceremony for his gay son, the United Methodist Church is as divided as ever on the issue of homosexuality. “I think people are really concerned for the unity of the church,” said Gary MacDonald of Perkins School of Theology. “You look at our divisions as a nation and we shouldn’t be surprised that this is happening.”

5. And then there were 16: Illinois becomes 16th state to allow gay marriage (Chicago Tribune)

“Support for same-sex marriage is far from universal in Illinois. As politicians talked up the merits of gay marriage in Chicago, down in Springfield, a crowd gathered for an exorcism by the local Catholic bishop in protest of the governor’s action. ‘It is not the church that must change to confirm its teachings to the views of the world, but it is each individual who is called to be configured to Christ,’ Bishop Thomas Paprocki said during a service delivered mostly in Latin.”

6. Another Jesus controversy in Colorado Springs‘Talk About Jesus’ Air Force trainer won’t face discipline (The Forward)

Professionally aggrieved activist Mikey Weinstein wants a personal apology from an athletic trainer at the Air Force Academy who pledged to “talk about Jesus Christ my Lord and savior to everyone that I work with.”  The trainer “does not speak for the Air Force’s Academy and we absolutely do not tolerate proselytizing among our ranks,” said a statement sent to The Forward.

7. Back to the Future: What Dallas clergy preached the weekend JFK was killed (RNS)

“Here is the hardest thing to say: there is no city in the United States which in recent months and years has been more acquiescent toward its extremists than Dallas, Texas,” preached the Rev. William Holmes at Northaven Methodist church. “We, the majority of citizens, have gone quietly about our work and leisure, forfeiting the city’s image to the hate mongers and reactionaries in our midst.”

8. Jews honor an ally: German Jews honor pastor who backs circumcision (The Forward)

During a debate on whether to ban ritual circumcision, the Rev. Nikolaus Schneider “decried the Cologne ruling as criminalization of an age-old religious practice and said that this ‘attack on Jewish identity’ upset him ‘greatly, given history, and our German history with Jewry.'”

9. How to pray like JFK: President Kennedy’s gift of language and the art of prayer (USCCB)

Daniel Coughlin, the first Catholic chaplain in the House, reflects on the legacy of John F. Kennedy, Catholic and otherwise: “When praying for government, I suggest we do two things. First, suspend judgment – leave that to The Almighty. … Second, take steps daily to pray as someone truly free. In the presence of God, pray without an agenda. Do we really think that God needs our advice on how to settle disputed questions? Perhaps God is more interested in converting our hearts into loving care for our huge and diverse country than hearing our political opinions.”

10. You shouldn’t laugh but you just can’t help it: Chanukkah Honey

Full disclosure: the last line of this video spoof is probably pretty offensive to most viewers, but the first two minutes or so are hysterically funny. It does, after all, come from a site called “Tastefully Offensive.” “Hanukkah Honey, at the JCC you play basketball, so tall! You must be at least five-foot-eight; Hanukkah Honey, so come and flip my latkes tonight.” You’ve been warned.


Expectations are high for summit between Vladimir Putin and Pope Francis (RNS)

Church of England paves the way for women bishops (RNS)

Billy Graham hospitalized with respiratory problems (RNS)




  1. Like the general format. However, the paragraph encapsulations are missing the tongue-in-cheek witticism that I greatly appreciate in the news Round-Up. In the end, whatever the format, I prefer the irony.

  2. I do not like the new format. There are other news sources that give a bullet list of the days headlines as relates to religion: Sojourners does that. CNN’s belief blog can function that way as you scroll through the blog.

    What I think keeps me reading your news brief every day is the wit, snark, and selectivity of how the stories are linked together in a narrative of that day’s events. There’s something human and conversational. Interesting. And then the element of surprise when you click on a link embedded in a witty sentence, and you don’t know exactly what story you will find on the other side of the link. All these things I enjoy about RNS in particular.

    If you go to a more traditional format, I’m not sure I will be interested day after day. Not that I would stop reading. But it might not be my “first click of the day”.

  3. The old format, with its threads, cross-references, and meanderings, was what made this blog unique. The new format lacks the innuendo and subtlety which were the wellheads of the above-cited “snark and wit”. Might as well just be a news wire.

  4. Kevin Eckstrom

    Article author

    Thanks, everyone, for your comments and suggestions. Please keep ‘em coming. We’re just starting to reevaluate how the Roundup is done, so we’ll keep listening as long as you keep reading!

  5. I totally agree that the old format was more fun to read. But as a journalist scouring through resources every day, this format is quicker and allows me to scan for the things that really interest me and help me do my job. And I imagine this is a lot faster for you guys to put together too. I’m OK with either way, but from a utilitarian perspective, this format works best for me. In any event, thanks for trying something new. And thanks for all you do! You’re great!

  6. I honestly hardly ever read the daily roundup, although I am sure there is very good information in each one, because to me the email summary doesn’t tell me why I should open it. While I appreciate the humor in the subject lines, I need more info about the roundup’s contents to get me to actually click through to your site. The only reason I clicked on this message was the “Let us know what you think” invitation.

  7. The trouble with writers who editorialize with snarky sarcasm is that it’s funny to some and tiresome, or even offensive, to others. I read the roundup every day for the news so I’m happy it looks like a more professional news site today! Thank you for this!

  8. Definitely keep the snark and wit. You as a reporter/editor provide readers with a perspective on religion issues that we lack. Your voice is unique and gives us a “tease” to look further into the story. If you merely replicate what other outlets are doing, why should we read your news? I understand you want to be perceived as fair in your news reporting and maybe some are offended with your wit. But the roundup is your editorial voice and not a typical news story. Even if you keep the brief summary, call these issues as you see them and don’t lose the irony.

  9. Other than numbers, don’t really notice much difference :-). To be honest, I’d like to have this page shared as an email so that I can have it in my inbox and then go to the web — it would be easier for me to search/ find stories from a day or two earlier than if I had to click on each days “home” page.

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