Boiled crawfish, a Holy Week treat in some parts, wait to be eaten...

Boiled crawfish, a Holy Week treat in some parts, wait to be eaten… RNS photo by David Gibson

Your (fairly) faithful correspondent is back from a brief pilgrimage to New Orleans where he was relieved to find this headline:

“Holy Week crawfish supply should satisfy demand”

And satisfy it did, as the poor things in today’s photo can attest. Or could if … Anyway, thanks for that link, Rod Dreher of St. Francisville. Our Palm Sunday preacher did have to go out of his way, though, to warn us that Good Friday is “a day for fasting, not feasting,” and all that party stuff could come later.

So for now we’ll just have the daily religion news roundup:

Did Christians steal Easter from the pagans?

No, that’s a myth, says Notre Dame’s Candida Moss, in an interesting read this ayem at CNN’s Belief Blog:

“Perhaps most misinformed theory that rolls around the Internet this time of year is that Easter was originally a celebration of the ancient Near Eastern fertility goddess Ishtar.”

I suspect the pagans would still love to have that Peeps concession, though.

Do personal sins doom a public career? Not necessarily …

The buzz in Louisiana politics, by the way, was still pretty loud when it came to the kissin’ congressman, Vance McAllister, who GOP leaders say should resign following video showing the family values pol canoodling with a staffer, who is also married. But can McAllister just wait it out and survive? Seth Masket at Pacific-Standard looks at his odds in light of the (long) history of political scandals, and who tends to survive and who falls by the wayside.

British PM doubles down on God talk

David Cameron made headlines last week with his comments about the importance of Christianity in a secularizing United Kingdom, and now, in a column for the Church Times, he has revisited the topic with a bit of brio that not even an American president would try:

I believe we should be more confident about our status as a Christian country, more ambitious about expanding the role of faith-based organisations, and, frankly, more evangelical about a faith that compels us to get out there and make a difference to people’s lives.

Cameron, it should be noted, has been facing sharp criticism from Anglican and Catholic leaders for proposed cuts that they say will seriously hurt the poor.

More from the “Francis Effect” …

… and more news from England, where at the traditional Holy Thursday liturgy Bishop Philip Egan  washed the feet of inmates in one of the country’s worst prisons. Pope Francis himself is continuing to break with tradition and tonight is set to wash the feet of 12 people  at a center for the disabled — nine men and three women, including a Muslim from Libya. As we have reported before, not everyone is happy about such “innovations”:

Speaking of ministering to those in prison …

Several Christian leaders are calling for an end to the war on drugs and the resulting “mass incarceration” of people who should not be in jail. And there’s even talk in Washington of bipartisan prison reform. Those last are three words you hardly ever hear on their own, much less in the same sentence.

The Empire strikes back?

Then again: A British prisoner claims he is being persecuted for his Jedi faith, because the UK prison system won’t recognize his beliefs as a religion. “I fear retaliation from the dark side,” writes the anonymous inmate.

Less from the “Francis Effect” …

The first Latin American pope may be having trouble keeping Catholics in his home continent in the fold. Reuters reports on a survey by Chile-based pollster Latinobarometro showing that Latin Americans are still migrating toward Evangelical and Pentecostal churches, or toward secularism. The polling agency says it’s still a bit early to tell if Francis can stem that tide, and notes that some 78 percent of Catholic Latin Americans said they trusted the Church last year, up from 69 percent in 2011. Still, Evangelicals reported an even higher spike in confidence.

But that “Singing Nun” is back!

So how bad could things be for Roman Catholicism? Yes, Sister Cristina made it to another round in the Italian version of “The Voice” with a rendition of — yes, wait for it — Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.”

Then again, about those real-life crucifixion recreations …

The ones that happen in the Philippines every Good Friday — well, the Catholic hierarchy really, really wants to see them go away. “If what you do makes you love others more, then it is pleasing to God,” said one bishop. “But if you do it for photographs, for you to be famous, then that becomes spiritual vanity.” Said another: “There are other forms of sacrifice and suffering that would lead to real conversion.”

“The Pope in the Attic”

That is the intriguing title of Paul Elie’s fascinating Atlantic story on Benedict XVI, the first pensioner pontiff in modern times, who sits on the sidelines watching Francis do his thing:

Here he watches the Argentine, prays for him, and keeps silence—a hard discipline for a man who spent his public life defining the nature of God and man, truth and falsehood.

Read it all here.

The Best of the Rest from RNS:

And that’s how it looks from where I sit. Stay tuned to this space for more as it happens.

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. Is Easter Pagan? OF COURSE!!!!!

    Christians were too lazy to even rename the holiday. It is still named after a Pagan Goddess Ēastre. Where in the Bible does Jesus talk about bunny rabbits? I would love to see that verse.

    • @DangerousTalk You DO realize that it is only called Easter by English speaking folk, right? This day was been celebrated BEFORE there was an English language. In fact if you move the historical clock to these times you will find that this day was called “Pesah” (Hebrew) and “Paskha” (Greek). Even today the vast majority of Christians know this day as “Pascua” (Spanish), “Pasqua” Italian and “Pascoa” Portuguese. The naming of this day as “Easter” is just an accidental historical curiosity.

      “Viva Cristo Rey!!”
      Camino bound!


  2. I teach my journalism students to proofread their work. This must have been a rough morning for Gibson. He needs a copy editor:
    “David Cameron made headlines last week with his last week …” (better than making headlines with the week before?)
    “… ‘mass incarceration’ of people who should be in jail.” (what else should happen to people who should be in jail?)
    “The first Latin American pope may be having trouble keeping Catholic in his home continent in the Catholic fold.” (always troubling when the Pope is having trouble keeping Catholic.)
    Hopefully the reporter will have a better Friday — or perhaps even a Good one.

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