Tis the season of Jesus, Santa and Pope Francis. It’s too early to place Francis in the pantheon of church reformers alongside Gregory VII or Adrian VI—or even next to John XXIII, who memorably announced the Second Vatican Council by saying that it was time to “open the windows and let some fresh air in.” But the early returns on the first Latin American pontiff suggest that his will be anything but a caretaker papacy.
I am a historian of the prosperity gospel. My dad is a historian of Christmas. Yes, the apple basically fell straight down beside the tree. About this time every year we have something fun to argue about: has Christmas become just another reflection of the North American cult of consumerism?
Instead of sending Jake Strotman to jail for assault, a Cincinnati judge ordered the 23-year-old Catholic to attend a Baptist church for 12 consecutive Sundays. Strotman had gone to a hockey game with some friends. It was dollar beer night at the arena, and the young adults apparently became inebriated. After the game they taunted some Baptist street preachers and a scuffle ensued. That his sentence should be attending Baptist services was Strotman’s suggestion (RNS).