Maybe God interferes with football after all

Here’s my May 20 newsletter. To receive my latest articles, favorite religion reads and other updates in your inbox each Saturday, sign-up here

As people around the world tune in to the drama of President Trump’s major overseas trip, I’m still celebrating the opportunity to write about the significance of his upcoming rendezvous with Pope Francis. I explored the history of U.S.-Vatican relations and reflected on how the president benefits from being on good terms with the pope, with the help of three former ambassadors to the Holy See and some other knowledgeable Catholics.

Speaking of ambassadors, the White House officially announced our newest Vaticanista yesterday. Callista Gingrich, wife of Newt, has been put forth for final vetting. She’s a devout Catholic and helped created two documentaries on Pope John Paul II, but the selection still surprised some. Gingrich’s resume pales in comparison to the background of other recent ambassadors, who had theology degrees or years of experience in the world of international politics.

I won’t be writing an article on the announcement, but I wanted to note a few interesting tidbits that I collected during my broader Vatican research. For example, I learned that many people think we should mix things up with a Protestant ambassador to the Holy See. The thinking is that an outsider of sorts could, in some ways, be more effective. Also, one scholar confirmed that an assignment at the Vatican is widely seen as a cushy role. Who wouldn’t want to attend services at St. Peter’s and have dozens of gelato stands within a few miles of you at all times?

FRESH OFF THE PRESS FROM ME

Trump’s pope visit continues long, complicated relationship between the U.S. and Vatican

TOP RELIGION READS

Master of None’s nuanced portrayal of Muslim life is a refreshing change, The Guardian

A creationist sues the Grand Canyon for religious discrimination, The Atlantic

The precarious task of praying with presidents, Christianity Today

Bills lose out on free agent because sign from above told him to play for the Chargers, The Buffalo News

JUST FOR FUN

This week, I’m happy to recommend a spooky new show called “The Keepers.” Over seven episodes (available on Netflix), it explores the disappearance and murder of Sister Cathy, a Baltimore nun. Think “Making a Murderer” with a religion angle.

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