Culture Religion News Roundup

Depressed Saints * WWJDance? * Rapture Excuses: Wednesday’s Roundup

Robin_WilliamsIt’s hump day, time to pull together and move ahead. Part of that process seems to be addressing the outpouring of social media grief about the suicide of actor/comedian/mensch Robin Williams …

Did all those Robin Williams retweets cross a line?

“If it doesn’t cross the line, it comes very, very close to it,” Christine Moutier, chief medical officer at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, tells the Washington Post. “Suicide should never be presented as an option. That’s a formula for potential contagion.”

Others say Twitter the best place to mourn the death of a celebrity

Mathew Ingram says yes, explains why — countering the view of Politico’s Dylan Byers that the Williams’ story showed “social media at its worst.” The Dish has more to and fro

Then there’s this …

Religions have been rethinking condemnations of suicide

Our pal Peggy Fletcher Stack writes about how modern psychology has led faiths to temper their historic positions on suicide:  “I feel the Lord also recognizes differences in intent and circumstances,” LDS apostle M. Russell Ballard said in a 1987 speech that was later published as a book.

Meanwhile, Rush Limbaugh says liberalism killed Robin Williams — of course — and a pro-life website said guilt over a girlfriend’s abortion decades ago was the cause. So yeah, back to the top, maybe the Internet isn’t the best place for all this.

Saints got depressed, too

Greg Kandra has three: St. John Vianney, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, and St. Dymphna. I’d also recommend Kathleen Norris on the “noonday demon” in her wonderful book, “The Cloister Walk,” and in this podcast, where she distinguishes between depression and the spiritual lethargy known as acedia.

Where did that Islamic State brutality come from?

The WaPo’s Terence McCoy explains that it is “a calculated madness” perhaps “sown long ago in a 2006 book called The Management of Savagery.” Rod Dreher has more thoughts.

Is Obama giving Iraqi Christians short shrift?

The president launched airstrikes to helped beat back the Islamic State extremists sweeping northern Iraq, saying he in part wanted to prevent the humanitarian disaster that was befalling the religious minority known as the Yazidis, who were trapped and dying on Mt. Sinjar by the thousands. Why didn’t he make an explicit effort on behalf of Christians in Iraq as well? Kirsten Powers calls him out today in USA Today, and in a similar vein, in First Things, Mark Movsesian wonders if Christians can ever be victims of genocide.

At Millennial, Robert Christian has the opposite worry — that U.S. Christians are focusing only on the plight of their co-religionists.

Meanwhile, evangelical leaders are flying to Israel to show their support for the Jewish state.

Trend story: Another European town called “Death to Jews”

Earlier this year a small Spanish village, Castrillo Matajudios, drew attention for its name, which translates “Camp Kill Jews,” and voted to change it back to “Jews Hill Camp.” Never to be outdone, the French, it turns out, also have a town called “La-mort-aux-Juifs,” which literally translates to “Death to the Jews.” Vox ‘splains the background of it all, which is what they do.

Pope Francis is off to South Korea later today

His first visit to Asia — my story here, or all you need to know in one tweet:

Meanwhile some Korean Protestants are protesting, because the Pope is, ya know. How do you say “Jack Chick” in Korean?

Sri Lankan Buddhists aren’t too happy about a papal trip, either

Francis heads there in January, giving headline writers the rare opportunity to use the phrase “Buddhist extremists.”

How bad did Mississippi’s Tea Party darling want to be a senator?

This bad: His campaign allegedly paid a Baptist pastor, Stevie Fielder, to give interviews saying that McDaniel’s challenger was paying black voters to back him. McDaniel lost to Thad Cochran — barely — in a runoff, but he isn’t giving up.

And up in Iowa …

Rep. Steve King said House Republicans need to rein in President Obama, maybe even using impeachment, so the nation can elect a new president “whom God will use to restore the soul of America.”

“If we fall short in that,” King warned, “in my lifetime, I don’t expect to see this country put back on its rails again.”

Moving on …

The Rapture is like the dog eating your homework …

… It won’t fly as an excuse for Christian homeschoolers to stop educating their kids while they wait for Jesus to return. So says a Texas judge.

Lauren Bacall on raising her kids Episcopalian, not Jewish

The wonderful actress, who passed away at 89, was a “lapsed Jew” married to a “lapsed Episcopalian,” that’d be Humphrey Bogart. But Bogie said they should baptize the kids in the Episcopal Church because “with discrimination still rampant in the world, it would give them one less hurdle to jump in life’s Olympics.” Bacall, on the other hand, said she felt “totally Jewish and always would.”

The “collapse of the American Jewish center?”

Sarah Posner sees it, and analyzes it.

Lord of the Dance?

Yesterday we had a story about a mosaic unearthed in an ancient synagogue in Israel that showed an elephant — which really weren’t supposed to be there. Now there’s a recently published ancient Coptic manuscript, “Dance of the Saviour,” that reinforces the idea, once dismissed, that Jesus and the disciples danced, and that some early Christian imitated them in their liturgies.

What’s next, a clown Mass?!

Lastly, your Really Weird Church News of the Day

The HuffPo has it, inimitably:

A woman in Austria admitted to filming a pornographic video inside a church after a tipster recognized her breasts.

That is all.

Stay tuned to this page for updates throughout the day.

David Gibson

About the author

David Gibson

David Gibson is a national reporter for RNS and an award-winning religion journalist, author and filmmaker. He has written several books on Catholic topics. His latest book is on biblical artifacts: "Finding Jesus: Faith. Fact. Forgery," which was also the basis of a popular CNN series.