From the death penalty fiasco in Oklahoma to the “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” — again — plus a lot of religion news from the world of entertainment.
Will botched execution turn tide on capital punishment?
Oklahoma’s failed science experiment, a.k.a. the lethal injection that was supposed to execute a convicted murderer last night, is horrifying to read about — inmate Clayton Lockett finally died of a heart attack. But it is also raising questions about “cruel and unusual punishment” and the morality and ethics of the death penalty.
Faith leaders push for minimum wage hike
The religious leaders want Congress to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour by 2016, saying it was a moral issue and “indispensable to ensuring that no worker will suffer the indignity of poverty.” The Senate is to vote on the measure today.
Meanwhile, Adelle Banks reports on how evangelicals are headed back to the Hill to make another push for immigration reform.
The Faith of “The Force”
The big religion news, of course, is that the cast of the next “Star Wars” installment has been announced, and it includes your faves from the last actually good “Star Wars” movie (cue comments), and picks up three decades after “Return of the Jedi.” How will Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher fare as Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia? For us religion geeks, a better question may be how the many devoted followers of the Jedi “religion” and the entire cosmology of “Star Wars” will fare. Can there be another revelation or has the age of the prophets ended in LucasLand? Let the debates begin.
If only Charlton Heston were alive …
He could have a cameo in the coming remake of “Ben-Hur,” the classic 1959 swords-and-sandals epic that he starred in — which was in turn based on Lew Wallace’s 1880 novel “Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ.” (Remember Heston’s nifty role-reversal under all that damn dirty makeup in the 2001 remake of “Planet of the Apes?”) Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, fresh off their “Son of God” success, are behind this one too, slated for a 2016 release. How much more can they mine from the Bible?
Jesus’ on again, off again marriage — now off again
Speaking of biblical dramas, the latest evidence to come to light about the so-called “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” makes it appear that the blockbuster discovery may indeed be a fake. Joel S. Baden and Candida R. Moss provide details in a column at CNN. Stay tuned for next week’s news that the couple are back together again …
Speaking of Jesus and divorce…
Ross Douthat has a magisterial (which some one on Twitter recently defined as a word to tell readers “Its really long and I read it!”) blog post on the implications of Pope Francis and the debate over changing — or not — church teaching on divorce and remarriage and communion. He really chews over the history, tradition, theology and implications of reform. He plays off of our coverage on the pope’s call to an Argentine woman in an “irregular” marriage, as the church would say — but that’s not the only papal gesture that’s causing conservative Catholic tsurris. His “inequality tweet continues to resonate.
Vatican un-muzzles an Irish priest
Sign of the times? The Rev. Sean Fagan was silenced by Rome under Pope Benedict XVI six years ago and now that ban has been lifted, apparently thanks to a direct intervention by Pope Francis.
BTW, our Vatican correspondent Jo McKenna says we shouldn’t look for a serious overhaul of the Roman Curia until next year.
Quote of the Day: Cardinal Timothy Dolan
“The day of old, fat, balding bishops like me being the best spokespeople for the Church is long gone,” the New York archbishop told a seminar of church communicators in Rome. The church “now needs to have trained, competent lay people to represent them!” I guess that lets me out. I’ve got the “lay” part covered though.
Read more here.
Headline of the Day
From the Guardian on a story out of Spain:
“Spanish government to face court after policing award given to the Virgin Mary”
“Secularists demand the medal be revoked, arguing that the Virgin has not met any of the minimum requirements”
Hard to resist that one.
Was the First World War a Holy War?
As we approach the centenary of that great catastrophe, historian Philip Jenkins has a good read on a great question about a terrible topic:
I do not personally believe in the sanctity of any war, leave alone the confused bloodbath that began in 1914. But the overwhelmingly Christian Europe of those years certainly did believe in Holy War, and treated that conflict accordingly. If we ignore that element, we are missing the heart of the story. Religion is essential to understanding the war, to understanding why people went to war, what they hoped to achieve through war, and why they stayed at war.
Does the equation “Allah=God” add up?
The language debate is heating up in a Colorado high school where the kids recited the Pledge of Allegiance in Arabic, which means that when they got to the “under God” part, well, you can imagine the rest. The principal is under fire, Fox News is on the case, and conservatives are upset. Though not all — Rod Dreher offers this counterpoint: “There are a million things to complain about regarding radical Islam. This is not one of them.”
The Pentagon denies soldiers’ request to dress in accordance with beliefs
Via Reuters: Two soldiers had their requests under a new policy denied. “The policy approved on January 22 was mainly expected to affect Sikhs, Muslims, Jews and other groups that wear beards, long hair or articles of clothing such as turbans and yarmulkes. It also could affect Wiccans and others who obtain tattoos for religious reasons.” The Pentagon did not identify the religion of the two soldiers in question.
The Best of the Rest from RNS
- Palin’s baptism by waterboard: Obscuring the real obscenity of torture
- Methodists approve same-sex marriage benefits
- Boehner rival loses Christian college job over ‘electile dysfunction’ ad
- Survey: Most Americans say fighting global poverty is futile
Stay tuned to this space for the latest developments on these stories and more…