Mister Rogers

Friday Five: Mr. Rogers block party, 'Uncle Ted' saga, Muslim Republican, sinful church sign and more

Friday Five: Mr. Rogers block party, 'Uncle Ted' saga, Muslim Republican, sinful church sign and more

I spent much of the week in the Smoky Mountains area of East Tennessee — the land of Dollywood and Terry Mattingly — covering a national church event for The Christian Chronicle.

As a result, I was away from my keyboard and the pitter-patter of religion headlines much more than usual the past few days.

What did I miss? By all means, ping me and let me know.

But first, let's dive into the Friday Five:

1. Religion story of the week: I don't know about you, but amid the constant barrage of news involving divisive politics and church sex scandals, I need to read a happy story every now and then.

Enter Tennessean religion writer Holly Meyer with a delightful piece on a Nashville church embracing Fred Rogers' message of love and kindness and planning a neighborhood block party.

Read every word.

2. Most popular GetReligion post: Until further notice, let's just plan on our No. 1 most-clicked post of the week being another insightful analysis by my colleague Julia Duin on media coverage — or lack thereof — of the scandal involving disgraced former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.

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Thinking politics, and pop culture, on July 4th in this today's tense and wired America

Thinking politics, and pop culture, on July 4th in this today's tense and wired America

Stop and think about the following question: During the upcoming apocalyptic war over the empty U.S. Supreme Court seat, which group of public intellectuals (and I use that term very loosely) will play the larger role shaping public opinion among ordinary Americans?

(a) Scribes who write New York Times editorials.

(b) Law professors at America's Top 10 law schools.

(c) The writers and hosts of late-night comedy/news talks shows.

(d) The latest blasts from America's Tweeter In Chief, who is a former reality TV show star.

Now, if you've been around for a half century or so, you know that politicians have always paid close attention to the satirical offerings of Saturday Night Live and the late Johnny Carson always had way more political influence than he let on. Who was more skilled when visiting a late-night television show during pre-campaign work, former B-movie actor Ronald Reagan or whoever tried to knock him out of the headlines?

The power of pop culture in politics is nothing new -- but it's on the rise.

With that in mind, let's look at a special 4th of July think piece written by DC Beltway think-tank scribe Mark Rodgers, a former high-ranking GOP staffer in the U.S. Senate. He is probably one of the few people I know with U2's Bono in his smartphone favorites list.

The headline, featuring a popular active verb:

Has (Pop)Culture Trumped Politics?

You need a thesis statement? Here it is the overture:

It’s been a long time coming.

Almost 20 years ago, while working on the Hill and hosting a conversation with UVA sociologist James Davison Hunter over lunch, I recall waking up to the growing impact of the popular culture, and its inevitable trajectory to surpass education, family, faith and journalism as the dominant worldview shaping force in 21st century America, and possibly the world.

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The late Rev. Fred Rogers fills his pastoral role, once again

During the past few days, how many of you have either (a) seen this picture and the following quotation on Facebook or (b) have received an email with a URL that points you toward this material?

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