Malala Yousafzai in December 2013 - Photo courtesy Diogenes 013 via Wikimedia Commons (

2013’s top moments in religion, entertainment, and religious entertainment

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning.” No, TS Eliot did not say these words in 2013. But they’re a good place to start as we think about this most recent trip around the sun and the voices that made it what it was. No voice was as culturally heralded (or commented on) as that of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Pope Francis.

Tom Ehrich is a writer, church consultant and Episcopal priest based in New York. He is the author of “Just Wondering, Jesus” and founder of the Church Wellness Project. Photo courtesy Tom Ehrich

COMMENTARY: Decency on the rise

(RNS) Did everything come up roses? Sadly, no. It was a rotten year in some respects. Think NSA, Chase Bank, John Boehner, Koch Brothers, scammers preying on soldiers and the elderly, payday lenders and other bottom-feeders. Even so, I end the year feeling positive.

Beyonce in Montreal - Photo courtesy Nat Ch Villa via Wikimedia Commons (

Beyoncé and the State of your Soul

Because she is the most amazing human specimen ever to walk the earth, Beyoncé dropped an entire album yesterday with no warning, marketing, or pre-sale hype. “Beyoncé” is her fifth solo LP, including collaborations with Drake, Michelle Williams, and Frank Ocean, among others. Bey being Bey, this isn’t just any old album. “Beyoncè” is a “visual album:”  for each song, there is an accompanying video released simultaneously. The album doesn’t bring much new in terms of Bey’s sound–electro-synth R&B dominates, and it is (mostly) eminently danceable.