It’s the last roundup of the year. As we bid farewell to 2013, we begin with religion-oriented alternatives to that New Year’s party you may not really want to attend tonight:
Ring in the year with silence
Not far from Times Square, hundreds of spiritually minded New Yorkers will observe the New Year in yoga poses and silent meditation, drawing on a 25-year tradition at Jivamukti Yoga, whose founder says:
The only thing that we ask . . . is that you shut up.
‘Watch Night’ services
Hundreds of churches across the nation, many of them African-American, including this one in Florida, will host “Watch Night” services to usher in the New Year. Though John Wesley originated the late night service more than a century earlier, the tradition gained greater significance in African-American churches in 1862, when many parishioners stayed up at church to welcome the enactment of the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863.
Bail set at $250,000 for Monsignor William Lynn
He could be free within the week, though prosecutors have asked that Lynn — the highest-level prelate ever convicted in the Catholic Church’s sex abuse scandal — remain behind bars while they appeal last week’s overturning of his conviction, David Gibson reports. A three-judge panel ruled that he was convicted under a law not yet in effect when he was pronounced guilty.
Pope Francis: Esquire’s Best Dressed in 2013
The menswear mag gives its coveted annual “best dressed” award to none other than Uncle Frank. The arbiters of men’s style acknowledge their choice is unconventional, but say the pope’s simple garb expresses the man, and that’s a good thing.
. . . the opulent jewelry and fur-lined capes of yore have given way to humbler dress, and this break from aesthetic tradition says a lot of the man and what he hopes to achieve while doing his earthly duties.
Pope Francis: Tied with George W. Bush for Second Most Admired
That’s from Gallup’s annual poll of Americans, which had Barack Obama in first place with 16 percent of the vote, and the pope and George W. Bush tied for second with 4 percent. The other religious leader in the top 10 is Billy Graham, in fourth place. Graham, now 95 and ailing, still holds the record for the most appearances in the top 10 since the list began: 57. Hillary Clinton is the most admired woman in 2013, with Malala Yousafzai, the girl shot by the Taliban, in fourth place.
What determines views on evolution?
Turns out it’s likely your religious affiliation more than your education. Sarah Pulliam Bailey analyzes a new study that shows a much wider gap between evangelicals and mainlines on the issue, than between high school and college graduates.
A scouting group focused on kids of any religion
Yes, the Boys Scouts starting tomorrow will accept gay kids. But what if you’re really alternative, like a warlock? The Oak Scouts is an organization in Missouri determined to make all children, no matter their faith or beliefs, comfortable while learning to pitch tents.
Britain thanks Muslim informants
The former head of the British equivalent to the FBI went on the BBC and thanked Muslims who inform on other Muslims who they suspect of terrorist activities. The informants are volunteers, said Eliza Manningham-Buller, and their work sometimes involves them monitoring sermons in mosques.
Serious reading you should read
Brian Pellot’s blog on a new report on the U.N. Human Rights Council and religious freedom:
Human Rights Without Frontiers International, a non-profit advocacy organization based in Brussels, released a report on Monday highlighting what we’ve long known to be true: The U.N. Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is a joke.
China Blames ‘Religious Extremists’ for violence
The government in the western region of Xinjiang is reporting that police Monday shot dead eight people during a terrorist attack by “religious extremists,” raising the death toll to 35 in related violence in the region since November. Chinese authorities have been battling the Muslim Uighurs, who say they suffer religious persecution.
Father Grassi loses another appeal
Julio Cesar Grassi, the Argentine priest imprisoned for sexually abusing a boy, will continue to serve his 15-year sentence. The celebrity priest, famous for his work with the Happy Children Foundation, was first accused in 1996, convicted in 2009 and began serving his sentence in September.
Cooking the Bible
By Bible, Jersusalem cookbook author Rena Rossner means the Hebrew Bible, and each dish is accompanied by the biblical verse that inspired it in “Eating the Bible: Over 50 Delicious Recipes to Feed Your Body and Nourish Your Soul.” There’s a red lentil soup, for example, maybe like the “red stew” requested by Esau.
The worst Christian book covers of 2013
You may not know it but you can wince and smile simultaneously. Thanks to Christianity Today for pointing this out for us.
There is no Duck Dynasty news to report today. Actually, there is. I just couldn’t bring myself to look for it. (All right, I just looked. I found the DD News for the day in the National Inquirer.)
I realize that referencing the National Inquirer is probably not going to inspire you to gift RNS on this last day that you can donate to us and take it off your 2013 taxes. But this was an exception, and in 2014, we will go back to giving you all the religion news that’s fit to print.
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Happy New Year to All,