Enter Pope Francis, Hava Nagila: The Movie, and More

The white smoke cleared, the curtains opened, and he appeared: Pope Francis, the first pontiff from outside Europe in more than a thousand years.
credit: George Martell/The Pilot Media Group

‘We Have a Pope’ March 14, 2013

White smoke billowed out of the Sistine Chapel and bells rang out in St. Peters Square, signaling the election of a new Catholic Pope. Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina will now be known as Pope Francis. He’s the first pontiff from the Western Hemisphere and the first Jesuit. Where might he lead a Church reeling from sex abuse scandals and a messy bureaucracy?

Kevin Eckstrom, Editor-in-Chief of Religion News Service
Rev. James Martin, Jesuit priest and author of Between Heaven and Mirth: Why Joy, Humor, and Laughter Are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life
Credit: Wikimedia Commons/ painting by Giacomo Cavedone

The Not-So-Bloody True Story of Early Christian Martyrdom March 14, 2013

It’s a story that’s often been told: in the first 300 years of Christianity, the Christian faithful were beheaded, burned at the stake, or thrown to the lions in the Coliseum. But this tale of persecution turns out to be mostly false. It’s a myth that’s been kept alive to inspire the faithful, and has justified Christian violence from the Crusades through modern times.

Pictured: St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr. According to the Book of Acts, he was stoned to death by an angry mob.

Candida Moss, author of The Myth of Persecution: How Early Christians Invented a Story of Martyrdom
Copyright Jenny Jimenez

Hava Nagila: The Movie March 14, 2013

You might think of it as an old anonymous folk song, but its beginnings go back not much more than a century. Hava Nagila, Hebrew for “Let Us Rejoice,” began as a Hassidic nigun, or wordless melody. It was sung in nineteenth-century Ukraine, and then made its way to pre-state Israel, then to suburban America. Like the Jewish history itself, it contains both great joy and deep sorrow.

Roberta Grossman, director and producer of Hava Nagila: The Movie

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