Today's Top Five

1. Lent: It's not just for Catholics and mainliners anymore

Yes, the "Happy Ash Wednesday" title is supposed to be ironic. But it may represent a way in which the holy day and the Lenten season are changing as they're adopted by happy evangelical Protestants who once rejected the church calendar as "too Catholic." The Tennessean subtly notes the parallels between the imposition of ashes and evangelical altar calls: "There is something about coming forward, walking down the aisle with a purpose," Thomas Kleinert, senior minister at Vine Street Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), tells the paper. "On Ash Wednesday, that purpose is very much about a person acknowledging that they want to concentrate on God and reduce whatever is keeping them from God." Roman Catholics would agree, but they probably wouldn't describe Ash Wednesday in quite those same terms.

2. Pope Benedict XVI relinquishes a title
In other church unity news, the Italian news agency ANSA takes note of a quiet story that may have long-term significance. Pope Benedict XVI has ordered that one of his nine official titles—Patriarch of the West—be dropped in the new edition of the Vatican yearbook. He took the move to ease tensions with Eastern Orthodox churches, but at least one observer worries that the move could signal "indirect affirmation of himself as 'universal patriarch.'" Indeed: it's the titles like "Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church" and "Vicar of Jesus Christ" that are more problematic for church unity.

3. Dirty laundry in Orthodox Church in America?The Washington Post reported Sunday that the OCA's former treasurer says top church officials "misappropriated millions of dollars in donations … to cover personal credit ...

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Launched in 1999, Christianity Today’s Weblog was not just one of the first religion-oriented weblogs, but one of the first published by a media organization. (Hence its rather bland title.) Mostly compiled by then-online editor Ted Olsen, Weblog rounded up religion news and opinion pieces from publications around the world. As Christianity Today’s website grew, it launched other blogs. Olsen took on management responsibilities, and the Weblog feature as such was mothballed. But CT’s efforts to round up important news and opinion from around the web continues, especially on our Gleanings feature.
Ted Olsen
Ted Olsen is Christianity Today's managing editor for news and online journalism. He wrote the magazine's Weblog—a collection of news and opinion articles from mainstream news sources around the world—from 1999 to 2006. In 2004, the magazine launched Weblog in Print, which looks for unexpected connections and trends in articles appearing in the mainstream press. The column was later renamed "Tidings" and ran until 2007.
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