Hey, a judge in Idaho struck down that state's ban on gay marriage! Oh, I guess that sort of thing doesn't really qualify as news any more.
On to more pressing matters:
Texas stay of execution keeps death penalty debate percolating
A federal appeals court halted the execution of convicted murderer Robert James Campbell because of concerns that Campbell's IQ is so low he is mentally disabled. He was to be killed by lethal injection, a process that has proved controversial as well as ineffective lately. But he would have been the eighth person executed in Texas this year, and the state claims it is the "gold standard" for this sort of thing. Practice makes perfect, as they say.
Remember when Catholic colleges used to dump graduation speakers?
Yeah, well, now it's the doctrinal puritans of the left who are busy claiming commencement pelts. Robert J. Birgeneau, a former chancellor at the University of California, Berkeley -- Berkeley! -- dropped out as commencement speaker at Haverford College after student protests. He joins Christine Lagarde (sacked by Smith), Condoleezza Rice (out at Rutgers) and Ayaan Hirsi Ali (bumped by Brandeis). "The lazy moralism of liberal college politics," laments Damon Linker at The Week. "Oprah is going to be very, very busy," tweets Karen Tumulty.
Was college prof wrong to tell students not to thank God?
Then there is the East Carolina University chemistry professor who told his students that they’re not allowed to “thank God” during the department’s graduation ceremony. At Religion Dispatches, Hollis Phelps wonders if that's a bad thing.
Is a "Black Mass" really just a new cocktail or something?
Just to recap that whole Harvard thing, the Boston Globe reports that a "scaled-down version of the event" was held by members of the New York-based Satanic Temple at the Hong Kong lounge in Harvard Square.
Lucien Greaves, a temple spokesman, said in an e-mail at 10:35 p.m. that the mass was “happening now” at the Hong Kong. He did not say how many people were participating or provide specifics on what was happening.
A lounge employee, who would only identify himself as Fred, said in a phone interview that temple members were drinking at the bar, but he did not believe they were performing any rituals.
“I haven’t heard any complaining,” he said.
Again, when reality is that good, why would anyone make stuff up?
"Black Mass" coda...
Okay, just one more. But this is great -- did you know that the Frenchman who authored the original version of the Black Mass in 1891 returned to the Catholic faith of his youth and died a Benedictine oblate? Someone better check on those folks in the Hong Kong Lounge.
Oh, and check out Cathy Grossman's Satanism primer.
The Pope's beach reading
The Italian daily, Corriere della Sera, has the list -- and a spanking new edition of all 11 books. In Italian, natch. There are four Jesuits, no surprise, including the great (no arguments) poet Gerard Manley Hopkins. But also Ethel Mannin's "Late Have I Loved Thee" (with Jesuit plot point) and Robert Hugh Benson's "Lord of the World," an early entry into the dystopian-apocalypse category. Plus Fyodor Dostoyevsky for fun.
Doesn't really matter what Francis likes -- the Pope is SO over...
Yep, Maureen Dowd of the New York Times, Damon Linker at The Week, Amanda Marcotte at Slate and even Jamie Manson (et tu?) at the National Catholic Reporter declare that Pope Francis is no longer cool. And he might be really uncool. And then when Father Z agrees with them -- happily -- well, you know that whole pope-apalooza is officially over. Let the trend stories begin!
Face of the Day
Still, I can't quit this guy:
Can Rand Paul woo his party’s Jews?
The JTA asks the question, and tries to provide some answers -- which may go a long way toward determining whether Paul can make a real run at the GOP presidential nomination. Some Jewish Republicans say Paul has "evolved." Of course, that theory will get him in trouble in the Bible Belt.
Facebook really is dead, huh?
I’m with my colleague on this one:
Bart Ehrman on the Dish's book club
Andrew Sullivan's online book club is great and readers are now weighing in with questions to bible scholar Bart Ehrman on his latest book, "How Jesus Became God." Some fascinating stuff in there, to check out. A taster:
The view I held for many years was that the earliest Christians did not think of Jesus as truly God until late in the first century, when the Gospel of John portrays him as declaring himself to be divine. In doing my research for How Jesus Became God, I became convinced that this was absolutely wrong.
It's a fundraising drive!
Indeed, like every nonprofit, we rely on the kindness of strangers -- and a few friends -- and if you can do us the strange kindness of considering a small offering we would be very grateful and would respond by continuing to do this roundup. Our friends would really appreciate it, too.