From the gift catalog of the Unemployed Philosophers Guild

NSA in Vatican? * Pope Parody? * Culture War Truce?: Wednesday’s Religion News Roundup

From the gift catalog of the Unemployed Philosophers Guild

From the gift catalog of the Unemployed Philosophers Guild

BREAKING: Pope Francis gives non-exclusive interview to Commonweal magazine!

CW: Have you received much resistance to your plans to reform the curia?

PF: Well, there was the time somebody passed me a zucchetto with a note inside. It said “Back off or else,” and it was composed of letters cut and pasted from L’Osservatore Romano.

CW: Wow, what did you do?

PF: I blessed it and tossed it back. As for the curia, let them complain. There are plenty of parishes in mission territory that need priests.

CW: That’s awfully blunt, even for you.

PF: Ah, but this is for Commonweal, yes? No one at the Vatican will read it.

CW: Pope Francis…

PF: Please, call me Frank.

SPOILER ALERT: Don’t read any more unless you can recognize parody

Meanwhile, Commonweal editor Grant Gallicho notes what other bishops are REALLY up to:

But who needs Twitter to tell us what’s up in the Vatican…?

Followed by this:

Here’s some more real news: Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, a leading conservative in the Republican Party, gave a major speech at the Heritage Foundation mapping out a road to reform for the conservative movement. He focused on economic populism and bread-and-butter issues. One thing noticeably absent: culture war rhetoric. Indeed, Lee even framed the priority of economic issues this way:

“And it should also force Republicans and Democrats to acknowledge that there is another marriage debate in this country — one concerning fatherless children, economic inequality, and broken communities — that deserves as much public attention as the other.”

His most religious-sounding moment was in fact this line:

“Successful political movements are about identifying converts, not heretics.”

But look who did mention Christianity – and the poor: Ohio’s Republican John Kasich, who risks heretic status. Or maybe he is the GOP future? Walter Russell Mead parses.

Then there's Douglas Wilson, pastor of Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho, who says that pastors who voted for Barack Obama in the last election should resign. Our own Jonathan Merritt has a suggestion for Wilson.

Maybe the Public Religion Research Institute's latest polling on who libertarians are will help clear it up -- or maybe just limn the coming battle lines.

The State Department's religious freedom ambassador, Suzan Johnson Cooke, tells Lauren Markoe why she is leaving her post: she needs to make money and put her kids through college:

“The reality is, for them to be able to pursue their dreams, I can’t do it on a government salary,” she said.

A “War on Halloween”? Al Mohler weighs the merits and demerits of the second-most commercial holiday after the birth of Jesus.

How commercial can it be when you can buy your own Hell House for just $299.00? That must be the best real estate deal around. Pacific-Standard magazine expounds.

Yes, Jews are halachically forbidden from Halloween activities. (Lucky.) But not from making merry! The Forward lists “Terrifying Top Ten (Jewish) Songs for Halloween.” From KISS to David Lee Roth.

Vatican’s pop culture guru, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, had to backpedal a bit on his Twitter tribute to rocker Lou Reed.

Aubrey L. Glazer, on the other hand, became a rabbi because of Lou Reed, Lewis Allan Rabinowitz.

Diwali is coming, and there will be a first-ever celebration of the Hindu festival of lights in the U.S. Capitol this year, according to the Press Trust of India.

Oh, and yes, speaking of holidays, my gift catalog from the Unemployed Philosopher's Guild arrived! As you can see by the photo above, it seems Francis is a role model, or at least a model, for everyone...

Finally, some interesting news in trends:

David Gibson