Bible readings * Madonna’s Quran * Reality TV: Thursday’s Religion News Roundup

Illustration of U.S. Capitol building with a "Sorry we're closed" sign.

Today is Day 10 of the government shutdown . courtesy Shutterstock

On Day Nine of the government shutdown, a group of religious leaders gathered in front of the U.S. Capitol to read passages from the Bible. “In the midst of a crisis when we don’t really know what to do, we thought, ‘Let’s read the Bible and hear what God has to say,’” said David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World. By all appearances, it was a lonely gathering. The Republicans’ intransigence may have the unintended effect of driving more young Christians from the GOP, says our own Jonathan Merritt. In other news, Malcolm Gladwell is serious about his faith. Who knew? Sarah Pulliam Bailey interviews the perennial best-selling author about his new book, David and Goliath. And speaking of superstars, Madonna is now studying the Quran and has a young (OK, hot) Muslim boyfriend. Omid Safi unpacks this latest development and points out that spirituality is part of Madonna’s public performance:
“It is Madonna’s job, her calling, and her training to say things to tantalize us, engage us, and keep us captivated.    And what better way than to identify with one of the most maligned and marginalized groups today, Muslims?”
Conservative Judaism is celebrating 100 years but ruing its slow decline. For a fascinating look at the denomination’s predicament, read Lauren Markoe’s excellent story. In an apparent bow to the right in the Jewish culture wars, Theater J, a celebrated theatrical group housed at Washington’s DC Jewish Community Center, will not produce a play set to open this spring that has been denounced by critics as anti-Israel. File under spooky:  Inglewood Elementary School in Montgomery County, Pa., issued a letter to parents Tuesday telling them that Halloween festivities were canceled in order to comply with a Supreme Court rulings that public schools not promote any religion. C.J. Mahaney, who was named in a lawsuit alleging a large evangelical sex-abuse scandal, is scheduled to speak at an upcoming collegiate conference at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C. Readers of the Roundup may have heard about the new reality TV show about snake handlers. Well, now there’s a new one, and it takes the cake: The Oxygen Network premieres a new reality show centered on the lives of “prosperity gospel” pastors. It’s called “The Preachers of L.A.” News from abroad: Saudi women on the ultraconservative kingdom’s top advisory council have called for a discussion on the sensitive issue of allowing women to drive. Russian lawmakers will debate a bill that could see homosexual couples lose custody of their children. Egypt’s military-backed government is trying to “standardize religious discourse” and promote what authorities describe as the true “Egyptian Islam.” A fascinating read. Christian leaders in Israel are up in arms over what they say is a string of relentless attacks on church properties and religious sites.  Recently a Protestant cemetery was vandalized, stone crosses toppled from graves and bludgeoned. For Ani Choying Drolma, nicknamed the “rock star nun,” singing and performing with top musicians is a way to take the essence of Buddha’s teachings to the world and help people in need. Tomorrow, the Nobel committee is expected to announce the winner of the peace prize. Some think it might be Malala Yousafzai, the 16-year-old Pakistani girl shot by the Taliban for speaking out about the rights of women to be educated. She just won the European Parliament’s prestigious Sakharov human rights prize. She made an appearance on John Stewart’s Daily Show too, and gave what may be the best example of “Do unto others.” A must see: As part of NPR’s series on life after death, Samuel Scheffler, a philosophy professor at New York University, gave a different twist to the meaning of the phrase when he suggested that people’s faith in the existence of future generations gives meaning to our lives today. Here at the Roundup, we have faith in lots of things, but especially in future Roundups. You could too, by clicking on the box below. The post Bible readings * Madonna’s Quran * Reality TV: Thursday’s Religion News Roundup appeared first on Religion News Service.

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