A couple of interesting items:

1. Reader SteveM points to this conservative Catholic cruise retreatset for Lent 2013, featuring a “welcome cocktail reception,” “plush lounges,” “swanky casinos”  and “dance clubs.”

“The twisted logic of that cruise gives me vertigo,” says SteveM. Me, I like to contemplate the sort of person for whom “swanky” is not a cheaply ironic term of derision. Anyway, nothing says “season of penitence” like paying thousands for the opportunity to gamble with the swank set.

2. Stanford University has brought onboard a chaplain for its atheist students. He too is an atheist, and a holder of a degree from Harvard Divinity School. A chaplain who doesn’t believe in God to serve the spiritual needs of students who don’t believe in God. Wow. From the story:

But Figdor’s flock already extends beyond Stanford.

“A lot of people go back to religious organizations when they start having children,” whether or not they believe in God, because religion offers community, Figdor said. “What I really want to do is create a vibrant, humanist community here in Silicon Valley, where people can find babysitters for their kids and young people can meet each other.”

An atheist student leader quoted by the paper says he doesn’t see the point. You may not be surprised to learn that the liberal theist (Unitarian Universalist) who runs Stanford’s religious affairs office thought it was important to bring in an atheist chaplain. It turns out that John Figdor, the chaplain, went to Harvard to get a divinity school graduate degree even though he did not believe in God:

He also encountered a homeless shelter that “forced people to pray if they wanted to eat,” he said. “This was a serious problem in American society.”

Figdor planned to become a journalist writing about religion and entered Harvard’s masters program in theological studies. When he switched to the more rigorous masters of divinity and met Greg Epstein, Harvard’s humanist chaplain, Figdor found a new calling.

A private charity requiring the destitute to say a prayer before eating free food is “a serious problem in American society”? Ah, the spiritual life of SWPLs….

UPDATE: At the EWTN-owned National Catholic Register, blogger Simcha Fisher gently mocked the Lenten luxury cruise, calling it “dopey” and suggesting that there are more seasonally appropriate ways to spend your thousands of dollars. Since this blog went up, followers of cruise leaders Fr. Zuhlsdorf and Michael Voris have been leaning heavily on EWTN to fire the blogger.