Be gentle with me. It’s my first time writing the Roundup and I have been a sheltered maid. . .

There is no sugarcoating, no fun to be had with this . . . 

Police shot another man near Ferguson, Mo. yesterday, before another night of lawful protests turned tense. Tom Ehrich, an Episcopal priest who used to serve a church in Ferguson, says there is another, more positive narrative that can be read in the ongoing unrest. Call me a glass-is-half-empty gal, but when Palestinians can find Ferguson on a map and Tweet advice about avoiding teargas, I think we’ve entered a whole, new nightmare. Meanwhile, Michael Brown’s funeral will be held Monday.

Also not for joking . . . 

The Islamic State, or ISIS, which calls for a return to an Islamic caliphate and Shariah law, released a video yesterday that appears to show the beheading of kidnapped freelance journalist James Foley (no link to the gruesome video from us). Foley told his alma mater, Marquette University, how prayer sustained him during his previous captivity.

And a chilling prediction from George Packer at The New Yorker – “It’s hard to believe that the ambitions of ISIS will remain confined to the boundaries of the Tigris and Euphrates.” More on the Shariah front — ten years after the deadly Christmas tsunami, the Banda Aceh province of Indonesia has increased its enforcement of Shariah — especially as it pertains to women.

The Happy Hookup?

Beware the casual hookup!  A new study shows that casual connections that range from kissing to making the beast with two backs (two items in and I’ve referenced Shakespeare — take that, David Gibson!) can lead to the altar 32 percent of the time (really?). But those who married their hookups report lower levels of marital satisfaction. Newsflash, right?

What? You say our government is dysfunctional? . . . 

The U. S. Commission on International Religious Freedom says the State Department is so uncooperative they enlisted Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) to introduce a bill to the Senate to prevent them from being shut down at the end of Sept. It’s not like the commission does anything important — they just point fingers at countries whose governments persecute religious groups.

Make an exception for one guy and pretty soon they all want early retirement . . . 

Pope Francis raised some eyebrows on the flight back to Rome from South Korea when he suggested he might hang up his pointy hat in two, maybe three, years. “Our life gets longer and at a certain age there isn’t the capacity to govern well because the body gets tired . . .” Francis said. Apparently, they don’t make popes like they used to. In the days of the Borgias, they died in their beds in the papal palace surrounded by their incredibly beautiful and sexy children. Or so Showtime keeps telling me. Sadly, Pope Francis asked for prayers Tuesday after losing three family members in a car crash.

“Thanks, but my grandma would clash with my hair . . . “

Emma Green in The Atlantic explores the ways people memorialize their dead loved ones without religion. Top of the list – Hawaiian death tattoos in which a loved one’s cremated ashes are embedded into the skin.  “It’s really not that different from wearing a piece of jewelry that your grandma gave you,” says Candi Cann, a Baylor prof who wrote a book about the subject. “You’re not wearing the piece of jewelry — you’re wearing your grandma.”

Cue the backlash

You know all that money being raised for ALS disease research by the Ice Bucket Challenge? Some abortion opponents, especially Catholics and evangelicals, wanna know if any of that cold cash going to fund embryonic stem cell research, which they oppose? Answer: kindasortalittlebitmaybe.

And because at least we can all agree on laughter, I give you the latest click-bait from Buzzfeed – Ice Bucket Challenge Epic Fails. Just write a check.

“Dash, dash, dash.” Gone, gone gone.

Those were the words of one Yazidi man rescued from Mount Sinjar as he showed pictures of his missing and dead loved ones to Kris Ozar, a Catholic Relief Services worker I interviewed from Irbil, Iraq. Ozar said the greatest challenge Yazidi and Christian refugees face now is the rest of their lives. Maybe someone should ready some ice buckets for those folks, too.

Real fun, no ice buckets required . . . .

The FXX Network will run a “The Simpsons” marathon on Thurs., Aug. 21 and The New York Times suggests readers vote on the not-to-be-missed episodes to record. “The Simpsons” is notorious for – or famous for, depending on your point of view – poking fun at religion. I say we all go over to the New York Times and vote for “Pray Anything,” a sharp skewering of the so-called prosperity gospel, or “Bart Sells His Soul,” a sweet take on the nature of the soul and sibling love. Best religion joke ever from “The Simpsons”: Lisa asks the Rev. Lovejoy for a scoop of his Unitarian flavored ice cream and he hands her an empty cone. LIsa: “But there’s nothing in there!” Rev. Lovejoy: “Eeexactly!”

Two lesbians walk into a barn . . . 

The evangelical owners of a farm in upstate New York have been fined $10,000 for refusing to host a lesbian couple’s wedding. They were happy to host the reception, but balked at the idea of holding the ceremony in their home or on their lawn.  Farm weddings seem to be having a moment. WHY?  I don’t have the shoes for that.

Attention, SCOTUS: Beards really are people . . . 

Holt2In October, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Holt v. Hobbs, a rare instance of the court agreeing to hear a prisoner’s appeal.  At issue: a prisoner’s religious right to grow a half-inch beard. The Court already permits beards for medical reasons, so why not religious reasons?

Bonus tracks . . . 

Moral Mondays goes into high gear as more states join the social movement intended to remind lawmakers to protect “the least of these.”

Ronald S. Lauder, president of World Jewish Congress, asks “Who Will Stand Up for the Christians” and pledges to take his own battle against religious persecution beyond Judaism.

Lovely remembrances from Brian Williams at NBC News and Susan Stamberg at NPR on the death of long-time NBC announcer Don Pardo, 96, announced yesterday.

This gets my vote for most inspiring story of the day – The New York Times asks Malala Yousafzai about her favorite books. Many of them have spiritual themes such as “The Alchemist,” “The Kite-Runner,” “The Little Prince.” But this brightened my day. Asked what was the last book that made her furious, she replied, “Mine! The editing was really hard. Especially because we wanted to get everything right in a very short period of time. The workdays were very long, but it was worth it in the end.”

That’s how we feel about the Roundup – and every other thing we do here at RNS and we hope you feel that way too. Drop us a line and let us know what you like about it. And for those of you new to the Roundup, sign up! It’s free! Click the “subscribe” button below and be on about your day.




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