Vatican forgives John Lennon
More than 40 years after John Lennon said of the Beatles, “We’re more popular than Jesus now,” the Vatican has forgiven the late singer for the slur. Lennon’s 1966 comment sparked Beatles boycotts and even record burnings. But last week, the official Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano declared that “after so many years, it sounds merely like the boasting of an English working-class lad struggling to cope with unexpected success.” The newspaper went on at great length to extol the Fab Four, saying that their “unique and strange alchemy of sounds and words” yielded “some of the best pages in modern pop music.”

National Museum of American History reopens
After a two-year, $85 million renovation, the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., reopened last week to enthusiastic crowds. On display once again are such singular artifacts as the original Kermit the Frog puppet, Dorothy’s ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz, Julia Child’s kitchen, and the museum’s centerpiece, the American flag that flew over Fort McHenry and inspired Francis Scott Key to write “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, on hand for the rededication ceremony, read Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address to a crowd of several hundred people on the museum steps. Powell’s own Army uniform now hangs in the museum’s gallery on military history.

Salvation Army receives a five-diamond ring
August Memmi was ringing his bell at a Salvation Army kettle in Harrisburg, Pa., this week when someone handed him a very special donation: a five-diamond ring. The young donor, who wished to remain anonymous, explained that he had bought the ring for his mother with money he had earned mowing lawns. But she died this year, and he said he wanted to put the jewelry to good use. “This young man demonstrated the true spirit of Christmas,” said Dauphin County Commissioner Nick DiFrancesco. “His gift is incredibly heartwarming.”