Sheila Wise Rowe gives a taste of her new book, (Link unfortunately paywalled, but worth at least a temporary subscription: “Suddenly someone pounded on the front door. My uncle unlatched the deadbolt, and there stood my dad, Robert, dressed in black. His speech was halting: ‘Come on; let’s go beat up some whiteys.’ My uncle declined, and I spent that night listening for a floorboard to squeak upon Dad’s return. The rioting carried on for three days, and when the smoke cleared, Blue Hill Avenue looked like a war zone — buildings and storefronts were charred and the street was littered with debris. I wondered, was Dad partly responsible for the devastation? Years passed before I knew of the depth of his trauma, grief, and rage.”

Esau McCaulley brings the Feast of the Holy Innocents to the New York Times: “Why is it important that the church calendar tells this story at the beginning of the Christmas season? Why should anyone care about the dates on a Christian calendar, especially in a time in which people have rightly questioned the excessive quest for power that marks some corners of the church?”

Leah MarieAnn Klett tells the story of Pastor Wang Yi’s arrest: “Authorities ransacked and sealed the church’s properties, including offices, a kindergarten, a seminary, and a Bible college, and searched the homes of many of its members. Police also forced church members to sign a pledge not to attend the church again, and around half of the church's original membership remain under close surveillance by police.”

Julie Zauzmer reports on the United Methodist split: “Friday’s announcement came as new sanctions were set to go into effect in the church, which would have made punishments for United Methodist Church pastors who perform same-sex weddings much more severe: one year’s suspension without pay for the first wedding and removal from the clergy for any wedding after that. Instead, leaders from liberal and conservative wings signed an agreement saying they will postpone those sanctions and instead vote to split at the worldwide church’s May general conference.”

Mark Galli makes a case for the removal of President Trump: “Trump’s evangelical supporters have pointed to his Supreme Court nominees, his defense of religious liberty, and his stewardship of the economy, among other things, as achievements that justify their support of the president. We believe the impeachment hearings have made it absolutely clear, in a way the Mueller investigation did not, that President Trump has abused his authority for personal gain and betrayed his constitutional oath.”

Wayne Grudem responds to Mark Galli: ‘Galli concludes by warning that evangelical Trump supporters will harm “the reputation of evangelical religion” and “the world’s understanding of the gospel.’ My response is that is not correct for Galli to say that character ‘doesn’t really matter’ to evangelical Trump supporters, for we have roundly and universally condemned his past immoral behavior. Character matters. But the moral character that Trump has demonstrated while in the White House, his unswerving commitment to his campaign promises, his courage, and his sound judgment on one policy issue after another, are commendable.”

Wesley Huff takes on the claim that Jesus was a refugee: “But it has gained new traction with the portrayal by Claremont United Methodist Church’s nativity scene, of placing Mary, Joseph, and Jesus in the manger, in separated cages. The image of this scene, which is very visceral and does convey a very strong emotional stance on the issue, has gone viral in the last few weeks—as I think it should. This is both a clever and emotionally intuitive piece, which if it were correct would be a powerful point in and of itself.”

Karen Swallow Prior reviews Little Women: “The reordering of the plot also subtly dismantles the story’s romantic elements, gently nudging viewers toward the realism that exists in tension with the original story’s romanticism. Such realism is seen, for example, in how poverty and the Civil War are ever-present realities for the family. Foregrounded even more are the constraints of being a woman in this age. Idyllic scenes of childhood play, the sentimental tropes of Christmas, and, of course, romantic love counterbalance these elements of realism.”

Podcast of the Week: Carmen Imes shares her research on the concept of bearing God’s name, the Old Testament Law, and the relevance of the Old Testament events at Sinai for believers today on the Naked Bible Podcast.