Jewish date: 2 Shevaṭ 5770 (Parashath Bo’).
Today’s holidays: Second Sunday of Ordinary Time (Roman Catholicism), Feast of St. Anthony the Great (Greek Orthodox Christianity), Joshmas (Discordianism).
Topic 1: More religious oppression: “Two Christians Critically Wounded at Wedding in Pakistan”, “UZBEKISTAN: Illegal Christmas as unregistered religious activity punished”, “Dutch lawmaker fails to avoid hate speech charges” (freedom of speech includes being able to say things others find offensive), and “Copts protest Christmas killings at Cairo cathedral” (they are sick of being treated as second-class citizens). Meanwhile, Vietnamese Catholics have taken to protesting in a novel way: “Dong Chiem is becoming a "Mount of Crosses"”
Topic 2: The more you read something carefully, the more the details stand out. One of the most controversial questions in the Gospels is who is responsible for the death of Jesus. The Gospels agree that the Romans did the actual killing, but they shy away from blaming them for it. If you look in chapters 26-27 of Matthew and chapters 14-15 of Mark, it is the “chief priests” (Sadducees) and “Elders” (= the Sanhedhrin, consisting of Pharisees) who push Pilate to execute Jesus and convince a (presumably Jewish) crowd to cry for the release of the murderous rebel Barabbas and the crucifixion of Jesus. This is an unnatural conspiracy. Under the Roman occupation, the High Priest was a priest (kohen) who got the position by bribing the Romans. The “chief priests” therefore had every reason to not act against the Romans by pushing for the release of the last person the Romans would have wanted free, Barabbas; if they were ever found out, they would be replaced—if they were very, very lucky. Furthermore, because the High Priest was corrupt at the time, he and the Sanhedhrin were not on good terms. They had no reason to cooperate. Also unnatural is the crowd being so quickly convinced to call for the release of Barabbas and the crucifixion of Jesus. Jesus previously is reported as being fawned over by crowds, yet in Matthew 27:25 they take responsibility for the death of Jesus not only on themselves, but for their children as well! Does any of this seem psychologically credible? Does any of this not smack of anti-Semitic historical revisionism?
Topic 3: For today’s religious humor: “Apparently, Basement cat felt that 4”:
Hint for the uninitiated: Revelation 6.