Lady Gaga and the Gregorian Chanters

From First Thoughts

An order of Benedictine nuns near Avignon have just signed a record deal with Universal Music—the same label that brought you Lady GaGa and U2—for an album of Gregorian Chant. The nuns are from the Abbaye de Notre-Dame de l’Annonciation in Le Barroux and their congregation was . . . . Continue Reading »

Does Soccer Need a Patron Saint?

From First Thoughts

As World Cup football fever dies down, the Salesian News Agency has suggested that the sport needs a patron saint: In spite of the fact that FIFA had forbidden the use of religious symbols and gestures most of the players don’t seem to take any notice and openly express their religious faith. . . . . Continue Reading »

Secularism in Syria

From First Thoughts

Just a week after the lower house of French parliament passed a measure banning burqas amid charges of discrimination and xenophobia, Syria’s Ministry of Education has rather quietly banned the niqab —a veil that leaves only the eyes uncovered—from public and private universities. . . . . Continue Reading »

From Secular Neutrality to Open Hostility

From First Thoughts

On the heels of the implementation of a new abortion law in Spain that declares abortion as a right, allows unrestricted abortions performed during the first fourteen weeks of a pregnancy, and lowers the age of required parental consent for abortion to fifteen, Archbishop Francisco Gil Hellín . . . . Continue Reading »

It’s Fun to Stay at the Y-Y-Y-Y!

From First Thoughts

Following the old rule of thumb: “Y goes before C, except when C stands for something that could be embarrassing,” the YMCA—formerly known as the Young Men’s Christian Association—has decided to lop off the last three letters of its name and will now be known simply as . . . . Continue Reading »

Fired For Being Catholic?

From First Thoughts

Here’s the latest development in the ongoing story of Dr. Kenneth Howell , the former adjunct professor at the University of Illinois, who recently lost his job for teaching his students the Catholic Church’s position on homosexual acts in an introductory course on Catholicism. First . . . . Continue Reading »

To Catch a Cheat

From First Thoughts

The New York Times reported yesterday on the rampant cheating among college students and the Big Brother policies that some schools have instituted to combat it: No gum is allowed during an exam: chewing could disguise a student’s speaking into a hands-free cellphone to an accomplice outside. . . . . Continue Reading »

The Etiquette of Gendering

From First Thoughts

On the Guardian ’s language blog , Roz Kaveney—I dare not attempt any further description—complains of the linguistic difficulties in naming transgendered people: As a trans man or woman, you soon notice how many people have what Daffy Duck called ‘pronoun trouble’. No . . . . Continue Reading »