Wisdom Wednesday | December 21st

AUSCP NewsDecember 21Roundup

Welcome to an abbreviated Wisdom Wednesday! We are in the eight days of Hanukkah, Christmas is coming this weekend, and we are approaching the usual plethora of the top stuff of the almost-ended year. But looking ahead, the pope prepares for resignation while many Americans think we are already in the end times. Also this week, winners at the Qatar World Cup, and believe it or not, a $100 million ad campaign to fix Jesus’ image. (Maybe his followers need some fixing.) What could go wrong at a live Nativity scene? How about the sheep who “ran down some little old ladies singing Christmas carols.”

Prince of Peace

This Christmas, the Prince of Peace has his work cut out for him. Read the opinion published by U.S. Catholic.

Christmas in Ukraine

National Catholic Reporter finds Christmas in Ukraine is “a moment for transformation.


The New York Times examines the complication, and finds many Protestants cancelling Christmas Day services.

Tourists where Jesus was born

Bethlehem welcomes Christmas tourists after pandemic lull. On a recent day, dozens of groups from virtually every continent posed for selfies in front of the Church of the Nativity, built on the grotto where Christians believe Jesus was born.

The Magi

Religion News Service offers a study of the Magi: magicians, false prophets, wise men? The Book of Acts mentions two magi: one is named Simon, and the other is named Elymas. Simon is a performer who amazes crowds with his ability to do magic, and he angers Jesus’ apostles by offering them money in exchange for some of their powers. Elymas is an adviser to a government official on the island of Cyprus, and he is referred to as a “false prophet.”


According to Chabad, Hanukkah began on the Hebrew Calendar date of 25 Kislev and lasts for eight days. This means in 2022 it started at nightfall on December 18 and ends with nightfall on December 26. Read more for a brief overview of Hanukkah.

Denouncing antisemitism

The Biden administration is marking the celebration of Hanukkah this year by publicly denouncing antisemitism in the United States, with Attorney General Merrick Garland, a Jew, calling for Americans to unite against “bigotry in any of its forms.”

Vatican punishes

An anti-abortion priest Frank Pavone has been defrocked for blasphemous posts: Pavone is defiant. A retired bishop of French Guiana has been convicted of abuse and banned from ministry.

World Cup

A big win for Argentina, but FIFA loses some trust at the Qatar World Cup. Beyond soccer, Qatar offered visitors an introduction to Islam.

Spirituality declines – but not in Canada

Canada sees a rise in spirituality, United States sees a drop. While the number of people considering themselves as “spiritual” is decreasing in the USA, the trend is taking an opposite direction in Canada.

Looking back

Pew Research offers 15 most striking research findings in 2022. Today’s America Catholic revisits Daniel Berrigan’s thoughts about his close friend Thomas Merton. Writer Ralph Moore wonders aloud, why the delay? Are the six African-American Catholic saints-in-waiting delayed due to the specter of American segregation?

Looking ahead

Pope Francis reveals he prepared a resignation letter in case of impairment; Yale Divinity School is launching a new Center for Public Theology and Public Policy, an advocacy-focused body to be led by prominent pastor and activist the Rev. William Barber II. Many Americans are seeing the COVID pandemic as a religious lead-in to the “End Times.” And there is a $100 million effort planned to fix Jesus’ image with an ad campaign: “He gets us.”

Away from the gloom and doom

Jazz saxophonist Kirk Whalum discusses his Catholic conversion, gospel jazz, and finding identity in God, with Black Catholic Messeger editor, Nate Tinner-Williams. Jeffrey Salkin continues to inform and entertain, in his column, Martini Judaism, with “Eight things that will surprise you about Hanukkah, One for each night.” (As for the ‘right’ way to spell it, Salkin says, you’re on your own.) If you are having a live Nativity scene, some good advice: Watch out for the sheep (and the cows, too).

Happy Holidays!

Back from last week! Check out the following entries from an Interfaith Calendar, for the month of December. Some unfamiliar names and traditions are included – perhaps an augmented context for the usual lame greeting, Happy Holidays.

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We hope you have enjoyed this roundup of recent news about faith, politics, and culture. We will return next week with another edition of Wisdom Wednesday.

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