Word&Way News: Dec. 8
Here’s the weekly roundup from Word&Way. In addition to our list of favorite books from this year that is free for anyone to read, paid subscribers to A Public Witness received a look at presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis campaigning in church.
Top 5 at wordandway.org
Amid War in Gaza, Churches Urged to Leave Peace Candle Unlit This Advent. Brian Kaylor reported on British Methodists and Baptists encouraging a show of solidarity with Palestinian Christians.
The Man Behind the Woman (Pastor). Angela Denker explored the simple (but threatening to some) phenomenon of non-ordained men married to women who are pastors.
Review: Unexpected Abundance. Robert D. Cornwall reviewed Unexpected Abundance: The Fruitful Lives of Women Without Children by Elizabeth Felicetti.
Lebanon’s Christians Feel the Heat of Climate Change in Its Sacred Forest and Valley. The famous cedars of Lebanon are ancient, but their long-term survival is in doubt.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’s Plot To Ruin Christmas, and America. Bob Smietana explored how Christian Nationalists of past and present don’t like Jewish participation in Christmas activities.
Our Advent series started this week, with devotionals by Brian Kaylor, Jeff Hood, Carlos Malavé, Melissa Bowers, Jeremy Fuzy, and Lauren Bennett. You can sign up to receive the rest of the daily devotionals each morning in your inbox.
Other noteworthy shows this week:
On Respecting Religion, Amanda Tyler and Holly Hollman talked about the religious freedom problems with school vouchers.
All Things Considered interviewed a Palestinian American professor about his Quaker faith amid the war in Gaza.
by Brian Kaylor, Word&Way Editor-in-Chief
Last last week, I was in Washington, D.C., for a board meeting of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. While there, I took in some of the Christmas sights in the capital. I saw the lighting of the National Christmas Tree near the White House. I watched it spring to life after President Joe Biden led the countdown. While I wasn’t very close and mostly watched him on a big screen, I heard his brief remarks. And one part struck me as a bit odd.
Biden mostly did the ceremonial job of thanking the performers, welcoming special guests, and mentioning the theme of this year’s Christmas decorations at the White House (“Magic, Wonder, and Joy”). Then after praising wounded soldiers there as the honored guests, he got to his rousing conclusion.
“We are the United States of America,” Biden declared with the lit tree behind him. “We begin another holiday season. Let’s remember how blessed we are as Americans for the gift that is our nation. So Merry Christmas, America.”
That’s the closest he got to suggesting there’s something people are celebrating this season. But the gift of Christmas isn’t America.
Biden knows the reason for Christmas. He’s attended church more faithfully while in office than any other modern president (even surpassing Jimmy Carter the Sunday School teacher). But he clearly struggled with an event marking a sectarian holiday in a pluralistic nation. Too sectarian and it’s inappropriate as part of an official government event. But swinging too far in the other direction also strips the holiday of its purpose. Let’s not make Christmas just another patriotic holiday.
Other News of Note
In a fundraising email, Speaker Mike Johnson attacked LGBTQ youth and urged donations to the National Republican Congressional Committee to help with “returning America to God’s good graces once again.”
NPR reported on Speaker Mike Johnson’s ties to the New Apostolic Reformation, a charismatic movement that helped fuel the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection.
“I’m not using a religious billy club on others. … I impose my faith on me.” —Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II (D-Mo.), a Methodist minister, talking about how he views the role of his faith in office differently than Speaker Mike Johnson.
Anglican bishops in Mozambique are trying to remove their archbishop after his involvement in local government elections proved to have been rigged by the party of the nation’s president.
With the war in Gaza leading to the deaths of thousands of children, a Lutheran church in Bethlehem changed their nativity this year to feature baby Jesus lying amid rubble.
Photo of the Week
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