We can promise you a happy Monday because, despite the parade of miseries in the news, we’ve learned the secret. First, the news:
Today, President Obama will sign an executive order protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers in workplaces with federal contracts. It retains a Bush-era exemption for hiring by religiously affiliated organizations but adds no new exemption for religious owners of private businesses. Will this turn into the next religious liberty face-off in the courts in the post-Hobby Lobby era? Stay tuned.
Intractable Woe I:
The last Christians in Mosul are fleeing for their lives, facing threats from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The leader of the Chaldean Catholic Church, in an open letter to the world released by the Vatican, says, “Iraq is heading to a humanitarian, cultural, and historical disaster.” One headline sums it up:
Convert, Pay Tax, Or Die, Islamic State Warns Christians http://t.co/INP1GRKVQJ
— Huffington Post (@HuffingtonPost) July 19, 2014
Intractable Woe II
Any news report not riveted to the tragic shoot-down of the Malaysian Air flight over the Ukraine is locked in on the Israeli ground offensive in Gaza. Pope Francis personally phoned Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. In his Sunday prayers, he appealed for peace from Iraq to Israel, Gaza and Ukraine: “Violence cannot be overcome with violence. Violence is overcome with peace!””
It’s always the sunset
Can anyone write about the spiritual-but-not-religious trend without a tinge of mockery? Mark Oppenheimer almost gets there in his survey of new scholarly books, But even the authors can’t resist: “These people always find God in the sunsets,” (the Rev. Lillian) Daniel said. “And in walks on the beach.”
No love I
“Cue the Taylor Swift ballads: We have here a serious case of unrequited love,” says Michael Schulson. He’s looking at the new Pew Research Center survey finding that evangelicals really love Jews but Jews give them the relative cold shoulder.
No love II
Atheists are disliked more than Congress. That’s as low as it gets in public opinion, says blogger Tobin Grant.
But Sarah Jones, filling in for Faitheist blogger Chris D. Stedman, says interfaith dialogue can help create warmer feelings for unbelievers.
Praise on high
Who knew astronaut Buzz Aldrin brought bread, wine and a mini-chalice along on to mark the moonwalk 45 years ago with a private communion prayer? He later wrote that maybe it was a wrong call to celebrate a Christian sacrament when “we had come to the moon in the name of all mankind — be they Christians, Jews, Muslims, animists, agnostics, or atheists.”
Creation v. evolution redux
Turmoil continues at Bryan College, the Christian liberal arts college named for William Jennings Bryan. Four members of the board of trustees have resigned. Ever since a new president altered the statement of faith to highlight that all descend from Adam and Eve, the Dayton, Tenn., campus has seen layoffs, dwindling enrollment and faculty resignations have followed.
Rocker tosses rocks
Some versions of Tom Petty’s Hypnotic Eye album, coming this month, have a bonus track titled “Playing Dumb” — Petty’s view of how the Catholic Church has dealt with sexual abuse. Hat tip to Hemant Mehta for this.
If you haven’t had breakfast yet, your soul will crave it after reading Brian Pellot on the United Church of Bacon’s ‘Hail Piggy’ prayer — ‘Hail Bacon, full of grease, the Lard is with thee.” The secular group’s pork power church parody is part of their serious anti-discrimination mission.
Now, have a happy day!
To get you started, we have the secret of happiness, neatly distilled by Arthur Brooks in an op-ed in highlighting the wisdom of the Buddha — give up cravings and grasping. Instead, “Love people, use things.”