The place of prayer at the inauguration

Jesuit Father Tom Reese, a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University in Washington, writes that he favors having prayer at the presidential inauguration ceremony, but adds that “such prayers should be as inclusive as possible.”

You’ll find Father Reese’s reflection on whether prayers by clergy have a place in the inauguration ceremony in “On Faith,” a regular feature in Newsweek and The Washington Post. 

He notes that inaugurations did not start with a prayer until 1937.  Since then those offering the prayer have included Catholics, Protestants, Jews and Baptists. At President-elect Barack Obama’s inaguration Jan. 20, the Rev. Rick Warren of  Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., will give the invocation.

Among the many details about the inauguration ceremony is what Bible Obama will use, something CNS reported in late December. When he is sworn in as the 44th president of the United States, he will take the oath of office with his hand placed on the same Bible Abraham Lincoln used at his 1861 inauguration.

‘Jesus is my (Facebook) Friend!’

That’s the headline on a hilarious blog post yesterday by Jesuit Father Jim Martin over at the America magazine blog. It certainly deserves wider play.

Maybe you’ll only “get it” if you’re already a member of Facebook, but even if you’re not, listen to what Father Martin had to say in his lede graf:

Imagine my surprise when I received an email this morning that read, in its entirety: “Jesus added you as a friend on Facebook. We need to confirm that you know Jesus in order for you to be friends on Facebook.”

Father Martin goes on to explain he was delighted that Jesus wanted to add him as a friend (“Who wouldn’t be?”) but also annoyed (“Did the Facebook people really need ‘confirmation’ that I ‘know Jesus’ after 20 years as a Jesuit?”). He also has some clever things to say about being a Facebook friend of Jesus, such as looking forward to Jesus’ Facebook updates (“Jesus is casting out demons.” “Jesus is stilling the storm.” “Jesus is watching the Eagles game.”).

Even if you’re not a Facebook member, you can get to what Facebook calls Jesus’ public search page by clicking here. You just can’t get beyond that page to see how many friends Jesus has made in the Facebook community — I just peeked, he’s got 49 — or other details about Jesus life (not that you need Facebook for that since it’s all in the Gospels).

images_biggerAnd though Facebook and similar sites don’t want to admit it, it also shows how easy it is on the Web to take on someone else’s identity. Just the other day on Twitter, another popular blogging site, I came across a page that claims to be Pope Benedict XVI’s. He says there that he’s “just a nice guy from Bavaria who now leads 1 billion Catholics.”

I just haven’t decided yet whether to go ahead and click on “follow.”