Century Marks

Century Marks

Cash deposit

Three young housemates bought an old couch at a Salvation Army store for $20. When they brought it home they found wads of $100 bills stuffed inside. The total was over $40,000. They dreamed of ways to spend the money, but then they saw a name on one of the envelopes, which led them to a prior owner, a widow who lived in a rough neighborhood. It turned out that her late husband had put money in the couch for his wife to use when he was no longer around (NPR, May 16).

Critical mass

A Harvard student club called off a satanic “black mass” after it was condemned by the archdiocese of Boston and by Harvard’s president. Although the history behind the black mass is murky, Catholics claim it is designed to mock their rituals and beliefs. The Harvard Extension Cultural Studies Club, sponsor of the black mass, said the purpose wasn’t to mock the Catholic mass “but instead to learn and experience the history of different cultural practices.” The group said it plans to host a Shinto tea ceremony, a Shaker exhibit, and a presentation on Buddhist meditation (CNN, May 12).


Thousands of Iranian women are sending photos of themselves without their hijab to a London-based Facebook page dedicated to allowing them “stealthy freedoms.” The Facebook page—called “Stealthy Freedom of Iranian Women”—was set up by Iranian journalist Masih Alinejad and has attracted almost 150,000 “likes.” The photos show women—sans veil—in parks, on the beach, or on the street. The late Ayatollah Khomeini made the hijab mandatory in 1979 (RNS).

Demon possessed?

Pope Francis’s open recognition of the devil is making some Catholic theologians nervous, leading one to accuse the pope of opening the door to superstition. Quoting his critics, Francis said recently at a Vatican mass, “But Father, how old-fashioned you are to speak about the devil in the 21st century.” He has praised the International Association of Exorcists, and a Vatican-sanctioned convention on exorcism was held recently. “The sad truth is that there are many bishops and priests in our church who do not really believe in the devil,” a priest-exorcist said at the conference (Washington Post, May 10).

Food fight

Some Brits are upset after learning that much of the meat in the United Kingdom that goes into fast food and processed meals is slaughtered according to the Islamic rite. The halal meat comes from animals whose throats have been slit while a Muslim reads from the Qur’an. Rod Liddle, a UK columnist, says people are upset not out of concern for animal rights but out of concern at how fast the nation’s demographics are changing (The Week, May 23).