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Cultural Commentary

Atheists and Pope Francis: Following in Jesus' footsteps?

National Ask an Atheist Day at Penn State University, 2013 (Credit: Secular Student Alliance via Facebook) Tonight, Pope Francis will visit a home for the elderly and disabled in Rome.  There he will wash the feet of residents, all of whom are lay people.  Women and non-Christians may be in the group.  However, not everyone applauds the pope's inclusivism, claiming that priests are required by Church law to wash only the feet of 12 men.  The pope doesn't seem to care.  According to a Vatican spokesman, such rules can be a distraction from "the profound messages of the Gospels and of the Lord of the Church."

I wonder what Pope Francis would think about the fact that today is "National Ask an Atheist Day."  Organizers hope to provide "an opportunity for the general public—particularly people of faith—to approach us and ask questions about secular life."  Ironically—or providentially—the annual event falls this year on Maundy Thursday.

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Was Jesus married?

'Gospel of Jesus wife' written in Coptic on small papyrus fragment held by professor Karen L. King of Harvard (Credit: Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary) An ancient papyrus fragment is creating quite a stir these days.  It was first made public two years ago by historian Karen L. King of Harvard University.  When, where, or how the fragment was discovered is unknown.  The owner insists on remaining anonymous.

It is only four by eight centimeters, smaller than a business card, comprised of eight lines written in black ink.  The fragment is clearly torn out of a larger document.  It was written in Coptic, an Egyptian language using Greek letters.  While some remain convinced that it is a recent forgery, analysts now report that it resembles other ancient papyri from the fourth to the eight centuries and is likely that old.

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Boston bombing: dancer is a 'survivor ' not a 'victim'

Boston Strong (Credit: Dylan O'Dowd via Flickr) Adrianne Haslet-Davis lost her left foot in the bombings that devastated Boston a year ago.  The dancer has continued with her career, and plans to appear on ABC's "Dancing With The Stars."  She will run the last mile of next week's marathon, flanked by her twin brothers.

Since last year's attacks, Haslet-Davis has become a public advocate for those affected by the attacks, asking that people refer to them as "survivors" rather than "victims."  She is right: "victims" connotes a sense of powerlessness, while "survivors" withstand their ordeal and often become stronger as a result.

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Don't invite a friend to church for Easter

First Baptist Church of Chesapeake school bus used as part of their bus ministry to bring visitors and other church goers to church (Credit: First Baptist Church of Chesapeake) One in five Americans hasn't yet decided if they will attend church services this Easter.  According to a recent survey, 41 percent say they are planning to attend, while 39 percent say they definitely will avoid church this Sunday.  But 20 percent are undecided.

There are 314 million people living in the United States.  Twenty percent is 62.8 million people.  Many in this demographic are far less religious than most who will read today's Cultural Commentary.  It would seem obvious that we should invite them to church for Resurrection Sunday.

Here's what works even better: bring someone with you.

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When your pastor fails: 5 biblical facts

Bob Coy, founder and pastor of Calvary Chapel in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, addresses the student body of Liberty University at Convocation, the largest weekly gathering of Christian students in North America, November 15, 2013 (Credit: Liberty University via YouTube) Bob Coy, the founding pastor of Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale, continues to generate headlines.  He resigned last week from his position at the 20,000-member congregation after an unspecified "moral failing."  Many members of his congregation are understandably hurt.  For them, and for all of us who have been wounded by a minister, I'd like to highlight five biblical facts.

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