A picture of a young boy in a Puritan outfit carrying a book
A young Puritan

50th anniversary * Massachusetts Puritans * Homeland churches: Friday's Religion News Roundup

A picture of a young boy in a Puritan outfit carrying a book

A young Puritan

ANNIVERSARY: Today is Nov. 22, and, you may have noticed, the media is awash in remembrances of the lives of three people who died on the same day 50 years ago: JFK, C.S. Lewis and (Brave New World) Aldous Huxley.

MASSACHUSETTS PURITANS: David Van Biema has a fascinating story about the oldest book published in the United States -- a small and inconsistently spelled Book of Psalms, about the size of an iPad mini, which will be auctioned at Sotheby’s next week for between $10 and $30 million.

MENORAH TREE? Both Jews and Christians read, sing and otherwise treasure the psalms. Which cannot be said for the new Menorah Tree, the invention of a Jew who wanted to please his Christmas tree-loving wife, without, well, buying a Christmas tree. While Christians may like it, I suspect most Jews will pass.

END OF LIFE, er, SANITY: Cathy Lynn Grossman has several sobering takes on the new Pew Research survey, which finds a growing number of people who want medical doctors to take extraordinary measures to save the life of a dying patient. African Americans and Hispanics top the list of those who believe doctors should do everything possible.

ACA: David Gibson writes that there is little desire among the U.S. Catholic bishops to go off the ledge with their opposition to the Affordable Care Act. In fact, some are looking to tone down the heated rhetoric, maybe even find an exit strategy.

POPE FRANCIS: Just weeks after a photo of him kissing a man with a rare skin disorder, Pope Francis embraced a man with a severely disfigured face. On Friday, Francis met with the head of FIFA and members of the Italian and Argentine national rugby teams. Former Sen. Rick Santorum says the GOP should study Pope Francis. And ace religion reporter Rachel Zoll has a lovely profile of one of the pope’s friends, Rabbi Abraham Skorka.

ABROAD: American and Pakistani officials sharply disagreed Thursday about whether an Islamic school was struck by a U.S. drone. There’s a troubling spate of violence in the Central African Republic pitting Muslims and Christians. Many are warning the situation is volatile. Some are even using the “G” word. Our man in Kenya has an update.

WEIRD: Costco has apologized to all of God's creatures for selling Bibles labeled "fiction."

PROBING: The New York Times has an interesting story about a divorced mother of three whose suicide raises questions about how difficult it can be for people who throw off their Orthodox Jewish identity and try to maintain ties with their children. AND, Russell Moore wonders where evangelicals will go after leaving the Religious Right. In a long essay in First Things, he finds evidence that the kids are alright.

END NOTE: If you love Homeland as much as I do, and you live anywhere near Charlotte, N.C., (sort of), check out Tim Funk’s latest blog about the churches where the Showtime drama is being shot. But where can I get a Carrie Mathison autograph?

We're tinkering with the Roundup. Let us know what you think.


  1. Rick Santorum, who advocated hateful policies toward the poor, wants his beloved GOP to learn from Pope Francis? Oh well, I suppose he means how to act act compassionate in public. Not how to extend freedom and economic inclusion to all, simply how to look good and caring in public while enriching the rich.

  2. I like today’s format. The bold headings make it easier than before to read through the entire roundup and then go back and find the topics I want to read more about.

  3. Cheers to Dave Gibson for the story on the bishops backing off the high-horse rhetoric. The previous over-heated language from the bishops and some Catholics, while not intended to do so, has fed into some of the looney this-government-hates-religion-especially-Christianity hoodoo.

  4. Now this is a helpful format, the best so far, with the spacing and the short headlines and paragraphs it is the easiest and quickest read to find the topics of interest! I appreciate this change.

  5. Like both formats. But why do you make us click on each caption – why not just include them?

    THANK YOU FOR YOUR WORK ON THIS – I read it everyday.

  6. I like the new look of Roundup. I always why I had to click on a link to get to the good stuff.

  7. The concept of Menorah trees is not very new, perhaps just a new name. More than 50 years ago, when I was still in high school, many of my Jewish friends had “Chanukah bushes” in their homes to celebrate their holiday. They looked like Christmas trees to me….

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