It is your great good fortune that I have been given the astonishing gift of prophecy, which is rarely awarded to either journalists or Presbyterians -- and never to someone who is both. Until now, that is.
My powers mean that after you read this blog post you will know with some false certitude what is going to happen in 2016 in the world of faith. That is, you will know that information if you suspend disbelief and pay attention to my prophetic words. As for those words, I have only one caution: I could be wrong. But being wrong would be radically out of character for someone like me, who opines for a living, so don't give it another thought.
Here are a few things you should expect to happen in 2016:
* Pope Francis, still trying to shape up members of the Roman Curia, will arrange for them to be on a Donald Trump reality TV show and Trump will simply fire them, but not before he calls them losers.
* Groups of churches in Mississippi and Kansas will offer to host thousands of Syrian refugees, but the plan will fail when every single one of those refugees refuses to move either to Mississippi or Kansas.
* Speaking of Trump (Do we have to?), he will abandon his extraordinarily tenuous ties to the Presbyterian Church (USA) and join the Idolatrous Church of the Most High Donald, around which he will build a wall, sending the bill for it to Mexico.
* Despite months of effort, in the face of widespread apathy organizers eventually will abandon their #PastafarianLivesMatter campaign and even declare that their Flying Spaghetti Monster god has been demoted for never being quite al dente enough.
* The U.S. Supreme Court will reaffirm its 2015 decision to legalize gay marriage in all 50 states by announcing that two of the female justices and two of the male justices plan to marry -- each other. That will produce an opening on the court when Antonin Scalia quits in disgust.
* ISIS will surrender to the new Saudi-led Islamic Military Alliance and the land ISIS once controlled will become a terrorism theme park.
* A worldwide interfaith organization will issue a report saying that at the current rate of climate change, Earth will be warmer than hell by the year 2356.
* A final drive by a coalition of religious leaders will result in the final abolition of the death penalty in all states in the U.S. except Texas, which, nonetheless, will promise to quit executing prisoners by either 2195 or the release of the 57th "Star Wars" movie, whichever comes last.
* A full 98 percent of these predictions will come true -- unless officially declared heretical by the World Council of Churches, Hebrew Union College, the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
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FINDING RELIGIOUS JUSTIFICATION FOR TERRORISM
ISIS documents made available to the Reuters news agency show various ways in which the theological thugs who lead ISIS seek to justify their violence by appeal to Islamic law and teachings. As I've written here before, one of the problems with such extremists is that they rely not so much on the Qur'an but on the Hadith, those collections of sayings and actions by the Prophet Muhammad, many of which were simply fabricated for political purposes long after the prophet's life. That appears to be the case in what Reuters has uncovered.