Welcome to that odd week sandwiched between Christmas’ long weekend’s joys and the forced march merriment of New Year’s Eve.
It begins with a mystery. Where is AirAsia flight 8501 and the 162 souls aboard? The search resumes today for the vanished plane as stories emerge about the passengers including a young Korean husband and wife, both evangelical Protestant missionaries in Indonesia, traveling with their infant to Surabaya to renew their visas. The news recalls the mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, gone for nine months and counting.
The man who shot St. John Paul II in a 1981 assassination attempt visited his tomb during Christmas week — and hours later was expelled from Italy.
30 yrs ago StJohnPaul forgave his would-be assassin in Rome prison; today Mehmet Ali Agca brought flowers to his tomb pic.twitter.com/RYbAbxyUSU — Catholic News Svc (@CatholicNewsSvc) December 27, 2014
As long as we are in the pope zone: The Vatican looked at Pope Francis’ year in review and noted he’s racking up the numbers: Nearly 6 million people came to see him at papal events (general and special audiences, Masses and liturgies, and addresses and blessings in St. Peter’s Square) in 2014. Actually, it was 5.9 million by the Vatican’s count of attendance for Pope Francis’s events within Italy during the first full calendar year of his papacy.
Just curious… we looked back to see how Pope Benedict did in 2012, the last full calendar year of the papacy. That would be 2.3 million in attendance. However, Benedict was a bigger draw in 2006. Attendance hit 3.2 million his first full calendar year in the job.
“Unbroken,” The World War II drama, girded by hero Louis Zamperini’s courage and faith and directed by Angelina Jolie, topped Christmas Day box office. But it slid to second place behind The Hobbit: the Battle of the Five Armies” for the whole Christmas weekend tally.
Meanwhile, Sony and “The Interview” get the last laugh at North Korea, opening in theaters and ringing up the register online.
The spiritual leader of the African Hebrew Israelites — aka Ben Carter, aka the Messiah – has died. Ben Ammi Ben-Israel, 75, led his U.S. followers to Israel in 1969. Haaretz says, his death was also a shocker “because he preached that death is an aberration and that physical immortality is attainable through a healthy, righteous lifestyle.”
Pew Research Center has listed several top findings from a slew of 2014 surveys. Here’s one: 72% say religion is losing influence in US life and most of them say that’s bad.
More weird than I know how to paraphrase from The Independent: “The President of Argentina has adopted a young Jewish man as her godson to stop him turning into a werewolf.” There’s some folklore here but still…
In celeb news, Alicia Keys and Swiss Beatz have named their newborn son Genesis and posted his birth certificate on Instagram.
The Rev. Al Sharpton told the National Action Network’s Christmas dinner audience he is working on “something big” with Cardinal Timothy Dolan to address the discord in the city in the wake of the murder of two NYPD officers.
On the point of view front: Mark Silk, hearing that Arab states are banning Exodus, checks out the film and wonders whether it’s useful to be hung up on historicity.
- Despite death threats, cartoonists challenge religious hatred and censorship online.
- Using ‘flower speech’ and new Facebook tools, Myanmar fights online hate speech.
- Catholic cardinals try to soften Pope Francis’ harsh message to church bureaucrats.
Watch for it on RNS today: The Simon Wiesenthal Center releases its top ten worst anti-Semitic and anti-Israel incidents of 2014.
And now, onward with this thought:
Me today pic.twitter.com/YDlVSvHkal
— Brandon (@Launerts) December 29, 2014