(RNS) You can’t get through the last days of the year without lists, lists, lists everywhere you look.
- Evangelical author and blogger Tim Challies rounds up some roundups, including three different Bible reading plans for 2013. Justin Taylor, for example, points out that if you read at average speed, you can get through the Scriptures in a year at just 10 minutes a day – not counting time to ruminate on what you read. (RNS blogger Jana Riess also has a post on how Mormons can look at the Old Testament more effectively. )
- Columnist David Brooks look at winners of the Sidney Awards for magazine essays. He’s partial to one where Steven Pinker and Leon Wieseltier, go “ toe-to-toe in “The New Republic “over the proper role of science in modern thought.”
- The “New York Times” Arts section applies the trendy disruptive label to culture with a look at those who broke the rules – because who has read enough about, say Miley Cyrus, right?
- And finally, the BBC delights with a list of “100 things we didn’t know last year.” Wacky science discoveries, social quirks and a law in New Zealand that bans devilish baby names such as Lucifer.
We’re still in holiday mode here. President and Michelle Obama have issued their best wishes to all who are celebrating the seven days of Kwanzaa. The holiday began Thursday, a day devoted to unity. Today’s Kwanzaa theme is Kujichagulia, self-determination.
Rev. James Martin is not surprised that Pope Francis went off script with his Christmas Day message, ad libbing an invite to unbelievers to join the prayerful in desiring peace.
But we’re home free from the War on Christmas – until Thanksgiving 2014. If you’re tired of that, take comfort: Google statistics show the “war” peaked in 2006, says Tobin Grant, blogging At the Corner of Church and State.
Some news and issues don’t wrap up when you flip a calendar page flip:
A Pennsylvania appeals court has overturned the conviction of Monsignor William J. Lynn, the first U.S. Catholic cleric convicted on charges of covering up the sexual abuse of children. What happens next for Lynn? That’s unclear in church or state. Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams said the state “most likely will be appealing.” His attorneys expect him to be released Friday. Survivors are outraged. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s statement late Thursday cites their child protection efforts, and concludes: “We recognize that today’s news is especially difficult for survivors and their families. We profoundly regret their pain.”
A human rights expert tells Brian Pellot that Iran’s Charter of Citizens’ Rights could worsen religious freedom in the country.
The Israeli Knesset torpedoed a bill to separate of religion and state in the Jewish state. The proposed constitutional law that would have allowed civil marriage regardless of race, citizenship or religion, sank on preliminary reading, says The Times of Israel.
Canada faces a different church-state test. Forty families from a reclusive Orthodox Jewish sect that has settled in 200 miles southwest of Toronto, Ontario face a court hearing on whether 14 of the group’s children are neglected and abused and should be placed in foster care. Their lawyer says the children are in good health and that group is under attack for its anti-Zionist views.
Lastly, the Duck Dynasty wrap-up:
A Facebook page is promoting Jan. 21 as a Phil Robertson support day, when folks should don their camo and eat at Chick-fil-A. The chicken chain, which is not connected to this effort, had its own headline flap in 2012 after its evangelical owner spoke out for “traditional marriage.”
Hollis Phelps, an Assistant Professor of Religion at Mount Olive College, has a provocative question at “Religion Dispatches.” He looks at Robertson and Frank Schaefer, the pastor stripped of his Methodist clergy credentials last week for officiating at his son’s same-sex wedding, and wonders, “are ‘liberal Christians’ and ‘conservative Christians’ worshipping the same God?” He’s not so sure.
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