Hello almost elderly GetReligion readers: How many of you out there remember the Ed Sullivan Show? Well, you may recall that his variety-show broadcasts always opened -- even if the top act consisted of people spinning plates on tall sticks -- when the host's pledge that he would be offering viewers a "really, really big show," with that final word sounding rather like "shoe."
In a strange way, that's kind of like the annual parade of summer meetings by America's various religious denominations. The agenda always looks like a big deal -- especially when arguments about sex are on the docket, as they have been for decades.
One way or another, religious leaders always manage to find a way to coat their actions in doctrinal fog, allowing the show to continue the following summer. This frustrates editors no end, especially in this age of tight travel budgets, a squeeze that for religion-beat pros began back in the mid-1980s. I'm not joking about that.
America's liberal Christian denominations have also been known to make headlines -- especially in The New York Times -- by taking prophetic actions on another hot-button issue. That would be economic or political sanctions against Israel.
One of the cutting-edge crews on this issue is the leadership of the United Church of Christ, the bleeding-edge liberal flock (remember those famous and very edgy television ads?) that includes, in its membership, President Barack Obama.
This brings us to another Times report about the ongoing debates about Israel. Read the top of this 850-word story carefully: