Walter White played by Bryan Cranston in Breaking Bad Season 5b. Photo by Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC

Walter White played by Bryan Cranston in Breaking Bad Season 5b. Photo by Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC

Let’s dive right in:

Is Methodist doctrine anti-gay?

The WaPo’s Michelle Boorstein tracks the various shifting statements from Bishop Peggy Johnson, who clearly doesn’t want to further penalize the Rev. Frank Schaefer for presiding over the marriage of his son to another man. And yet … A church court suspended Schaefer for 30 days and may defrock him on Thursday. Stay tuned.

Let’s not go to the videotape

A new Lifeway poll shows 65 percent of Americans say they prefer a live sermon experience over a video preacher. About a third say they will only visit a church with live sermons. What will this mean for those proliferating satellite campus churches? Meanwhile priests in a Spanish diocese – where some cover 12 parishes, whoa – say they need to consider Mass via the Internet.

Harvard bomb hoax suspect was peace essay winner

Eldo Kim, Class of 2016, won first place in the state of Washington in the U.S. Institute of Peace essay contest for his composition, “Cultural Genocide: A Look into the Unknown.” Now he is charged with threatening to set off explosives in Harvard buildings to avoid an exam. The Harvard Crimson reports.

A Prince for peace

Prince Charles lets it rip: “I have for some time now been deeply troubled by the growing difficulties faced by Christian communities in various parts of the Middle East,” he told a reception for the region’s community. “It seems to me that we cannot ignore the fact that Christians in the Middle East are increasingly being deliberately targeted by fundamentalist Islamist militants … Christianity was literally born in the Middle East and we must not forget our Middle Eastern brothers and sisters in Christ.”

A Pope for breastfeeding

The New York Times’ Motherlode blog picked up on our post about Pope Francis encouraging breastfeeding wherever and whenever as a sign of the imperative to feed the hungry. But this photo of him as Archbishop in Buenos Aires washing the feet of nursing mothers says more than our thousands of words.

Oh, and you think the public is enamored of Francis? Check out what happened at this morning’s general audience:

Oh, and look who else was there!

And the pope’s own miracle story — his down-in-the-dumps San Lorenzo soccer team that won the Argentine championship — came to Rome to give him props and a trophy today.

More on the Celebrity Watch

Hey, the Roundup can have fun, too. Actor Mark Wahlberg says his Catholic faith “is the most important part of my life. I don’t try to push it on anybody and I don’t try to hide it.” And he goes to mass TWICE on Sundays. “If the kids are good, I’ll have doughnuts for them at 6:30 in the morning, and I’ll say, ‘You guys gotta let Mommy sleep in!’ I’ll go to church at 7:30 and everybody will be eating breakfast when I come home,” he said. Then back to church.

At least one criticism of the new “Sound of Music” isn’t fair

The problem some had with African-American star Audra McDonald as Mother Abbess in early 20th century Austria? Maybe not such a problem, historically: Shannen Dee Williams at Religion Dispatches writes about the long history of African sisters in Europe: “In fact, one of the first documented black nuns in Europe was Louise Marie-Therese, the famed Black Nun of Moret, who took the religious habit in 1695 and remained at Benedictine abbey at Moret-sur-Loing in France until her death in 1732.”

If Jesus wasn’t white, was he ugly?

The Jesus-and-Santa-as-white-guys debate reminded me of a piece I wrote years ago for the New York Times that recalled ancient debates about what Jesus looked like. The church fathers probably took his race for granted; it was whether he looked like a god or like man that bothered the early Christians. The weight wound up on the side of his humanity, and not a prettified cover model: Jesus’ “body did not reach even to human beauty, to say nothing of heavenly glory,” Tertullian wrote in his early-third-century polemic “On the Flesh of Christ.”

Is Evangelical Christianity done?

Jim Hinch has the cover story in the new edition of the American Scholar, pivoting off the end of the Crystal Cathedral (now the Catholic “Christ Cathedral”). “The future of the evangelical church as glimpsed from Orange County might be no church at all. Robert Schuller’s brand of worship might just turn out to be nothing more than a spiritual fad.”

Is “Breaking Bad” the ultimate in atheist TV?

Heresy to me, but this essay in the New Humanist makes the case that the show about good and evil is “beyond good and evil.” Mark Fisher writes: “It’s all very well professing a lack of belief in God, but it’s much harder to give up the habits of thought which assume providence, divine justice and a secure distinction between good and evil.”

A network TV strikes back

Atheists, shmatheists! NBC tries “breaking good” and will film the 12-hour miniseries “A.D.” as a follow-up to the hit History channel miniseries “The Bible” that aired earlier this year. “A.D.” is projected to air in spring 2015. No cast has been announced. Maybe a reprise for Audra McDonald? (see above)

The Best of the Rest from RNS

Stay tuned for further updates today, and consider tossing something in the virtual kettle of our own nonprofit this holiday season — or at least sign up a friend or colleague for the daily religion roundup by entering an email in the box below. That’s free, and easy.

Peace. 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. Jesus was a man of Middle Eastern descent. He worked as a carpenter or so we’re told. So, why is it hard for anyone to believe that if real, Yeshua was a bit dark skinned as most people of that area and descent are. Imagine the racist that wakes up to judgement day and finds that the Jesus he thought he was “worshiping” is really a very dark skinned guy extremely displeased with the racists dislike of dark skinned persns. Got some splaning to do.

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