Yes He Can (or not): Our own David Gibson does it again, this time comparing TIME’s Person of the Year for 2013 (Pope Francis) with its Person of the Year in 2008 and 2012 (President Obama). “Francis’ trajectory from near anonymity to the heights of power is remarkably similar to Obama’s. But can the pontiff avoid the pitfalls that have dogged the president?”

A page from the Il Calendario Romano -- The Roman Calendar -- which is popularly referred to as the "Roman beefcake calendar." Photo courtesy Piero Pazzi

A page from the Il Calendario Romano — The Roman Calendar — which is popularly referred to as the “Roman beefcake calendar.” Photo courtesy Piero Pazzi

This image is available for Web publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

Size apparently does matter (sorry, couldn’t resist): Who’s the biggest name in human history, at least according to a complicated ranking system of “culturometrics.” No big surprise, but the top 100 is an interesting list. Then again, JC does have these good lookers working for him, at least in and around Rome. Perhaps the old lament of many a Catholic girl is true: “God gets the best, we get the rest.” Meanwhile, Stephen Prothero traces the history of macho Jesus.

So, no ‘Frosty the Snowman’? : As “Once in Royal David’s City” came over my Pandora station, I stumbled across a thought-provoking blog post (at least if you’re a Christmas music nut like me): “In addition to the Christmas hymns and carols being among the most beautiful, sing-able, and familiar, they are also among the most richly doctrinal and creedal,” writes Sean Morris over at Humane Pursuits.

Pop Candy: Chris Stedman weighs the pro’s and con’s of an (imaginary) “Atheist Mingle” dating site.  Laura Turner looks into what “Home Alone” can teach us about how to pray. Jana Riess finally figures out what Michelle Obama’s “death stare” was all about at Nelson Mandela’s funeral. And our own Jonathan Merritt, moonlighting over at the Atlantic, says Fox News’ Megyn Kelly insisting that Santa and Jesus were white is bad history and bad theology.

Money, money, money: The president of Yeshiva University will take a $100,000 pay cut to help resolve a persistent budget crisis. The Vatican is getting mixed reviews on its efforts to clean up its tarnished image on financial transparency. The Reform Jewish movement sold off half its New York HQ to invest the money in youth programming, the Forward says.

Til death (or the state) us do part: Remember how Australia recently took baby steps to allow same-sex marriage? Yeah, not so much anymore, after the nation’s top court said gay couples can’t get married after all.  Which is exactly the outcome Jesus would want, says conservative activist Gordon Klingenschmitt, who says Jesus would command gay married couples to get divorced. Over in India, meanwhile, the nation’s top Catholic bishop says the church has never believed that gay people should be treated as criminals.


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  1. Charles Freeman

    I tried to leave a comment in the Colorado Springs Independent regarding the Rosebush employment at the USAF Academy. I wasn’t able to use my Facebook ID to accomplish this, even though directed to do so. RNS is not responsible for this publication, but I thought you should know.

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