I believe this is what they call the Bleak Midwinter. To wit:
DISPATCHES FROM THE FRONT LINES IN THE WAR ON CHRISTMAS:
Those jolly elves over at the Catholic League have a new Christmas billboard in LA designed to get you in the spirit: “NOT ALL CHRISTIAN HATERS ARE EQUAL: ABROAD WE’RE BEHEADED / AT HOME WE’RE BASHED.” Jingle jingle all the way and all that.
Meanwhile, down in Tallahassee, the Satanists will get equal billing in the state Capitol with a festive holiday display featuring “an angel falling from the sky into flames.” I’m sure it’s a warm-and-toasty Yule log.
And in the UK, parents are aghast that religious figures are being pushed aside in school nativity plays. Obviously they missed this scene from “Love Actually” (which just so happens to be the Best. Christmas. Movie. Ever.):
Christmas came a little early, though, for Catholic leaders in southern California, where an anonymous donor gave $20 million to help finish the renovation of Robert Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral into the Catholic Christ Cathedral.
Which is probably better than the gift Pope Francis got yesterday — two donkeys, named Thea and Noah. But not nearly as good as the pope’s expected birthday present — 7,000 tango dancers in a Rome flash mob.
‘I CAN’T BREATHE’
It’s replaced “Hands Up! Don’t Shoot!” as the cry of the mass movement against police brutality after a grand jury declined to indict a white police officer in the stranglehold death of a black man on Staten Island. Here’s the video:
Our own Laura Turner looks at the #CrimingWhileWhite trend on Twitter and the disparities between punishment against black and white suspects.
One officer who might fit in at the NYPD? Daniel Rudolf Anrig, the outgoing head of the Vatican’s Swiss Guard, who is apparently being fired by Pope Francis for being “too strict.”
BEST OF @RNS:
- Did you know the pope has an astronomer on staff, and two massive telescopes? Jesuit Brother Guy Consolmagno says he’d baptize an alien if he ever found one, but “only if she asks.”
- Hussein Rashid says “Serial” isn’t just a runaway hit for podcast journalism, but a reflection of shifting American sentiments toward Muslims.
- Pope Francis says he wants the “truth” to emerge about defrocked Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, the former papal ambassador accused to molesting boys in the Dominican Republic.
- Jeffrey Salkin looks at the obscure story of “biblical boys behaving badly” behind the new Lifetime series “The Red Tent.”
- Eliel Cruz picks apart the sermon by Arizona pastor Steven Anderson, who says “if you executed the homos like God recommends, you wouldn’t have all this AIDS running rampant.”
ELSEWHERE ON THE INTERWEBS:
- Federal officials appear poised to recommend circumcision for all newborn boys, which could help Jews fend off growing attacks from the anti-circumcision crowd.
- (Some) evangelicals are unexpected allies for the White House on immigration, and a surprising 6-in-10 of them support the goals of President Obama’s recent executive order, although two-thirds of them say he shouldn’t have acted solo, according to a new PRRI poll.
- The Vatican is expected to release the findings from its three-year probe of American nuns on Dec. 16.
- Protests in India are calling for the firing of a government minister who asked whether India should be ruled “the children of Ram (a Hindu god) or the children of bastards.”
- Remember Jason and David Benham, the hunky twin brothers who lost their HGTV reality show because they’re not fans of the gays? They’ve got a new book coming out, and are standing with “19 Kids and Counting” matriarch Michelle Duggar and the “Duck Dynasty” clan against the “direct cultural and legal attack on religious liberty in America today.”
Before you go, make sure to tell us where you’d like Pope Francis to visit on his U.S. tour next year. We’ll tally the results and let y’all know next week.