Weekly Roundup

June 13, 2014

Here are a few stories from this week that deserve notice:

* The World Cup started in Brazil on Thursday and already there have been some exciting games, especially the Netherlands embarrassing Spain. A little religion-related controversy erupted just before the games when an Italian state-run television station ran an ad featuring the famous Christ the Redeemer statue wearing an Italian uniform. Reeking of colonialism and blasphemy, the appropriation has been condemning by church leaders in Brazil. The ad, however, may be a good reminder to us all to be careful not to remake Christ in our image as if he is on our side.

* A new study disputes the claim that college professors make students more liberal, instead finding that faculty engagement actually moderates students' politics. The argument matches my own experience as I challenged both liberal and conservative students to consider other perspectives and back up their claims with trustworthy evidence.

* On Sunday, Pope Francis met and prayed with Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The time was billed as a "pause from politics," but that ignores the inherent political implications of faith and prayer. Interestingly, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu poo-pooed prayer. Apparently his ideas are not only based on bad politics but also poor religious sentiment.