compassion

Francis the Red?

Pope Francis is presented with a gift of crucifix carved into a wooden hammer and sickle, the Communist symbol uniting labor and peasants, by Bolivian President Evo Morales in La Paz, Bolivia, Wednesday, July 8, 2015.  Apart from the carved hammer and sickle, Morales gave Francis another politically loaded gift, a copy of "The Book of the Sea," which is about the loss of Bolivia's access to the sea during the War of the Pacific with Chile in 1979-83.  Morales said things ahve changed with this pope and the Bolivian people are greeting Francis as somone who is "helping in the liberation of our people." (L'Osservatore Romano/Pool Photo via AP)

Sometimes, the unsaid really is that important.

This is something worth considering:

Pope Francis avoided altitude sickness in La Paz, Bolivia, but he may have woken Thursday with a ringing headache anyway.

The day before Bolivian president Evo Morales gave Francis a large garish cross carved into the shape of a hammer and sickle – the symbol of Communist unity between workers and farmers.

That’s a bit bang-on-the-nose for his holiness, who has been branded a Marxist by Rush Limbaugh, and dogged by claims that he is a radical with dreams of toppling the global economy.

To be fair, a communist is typically defined as a member of the party, which denies the existence of God. That’s not Francis. But the pope is indeed a bit of a radical with dreams of a fairer global economy. In a much-anticipated papal letter released by the Vatican last month, he warned “every living person on this planet” about the reckless pursuit of infinite growth and boundless, buyable pleasures.

(Dokoupil)

Every once in a while, conspiracy theories arise among conservative Christians having to do with Catholics, communists, and other groups, such as Wiccans, as one iteration had it, trying to redefine morality and destroy Christianity in the New World Order.

The question of whether or not Pope Francis is a “card-carrying member” of the Communist Party is pretty much a distraction. In truth, a Christian’s command to seek from each according to ability and give to each according to need predates Karl Marx (1875), Louis Blanc (1851) or Étienne-Gabriel Morelly (1755).

He diagnosed it as “the deification of the market,” and argued that if we hope to flourish, we need “a bold cultural revolution” in the way we live and work. But by Thursday morning, Francis was busy pushing back on the c-word.

“When I talk about this, some people think the pope is a communist,” he told a gathering of peasants and workers, according to the Associated Press. “They don’t realize that love for the poor is at the center of the Gospel.”

One wonders about politics, and whether the straightforward Biblical truth would simply make too many Christians’ souls explode in confusion.

Now the company of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things which he possessed was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet; and distribution was made to each as any had need.

(Acts 4.32-35 (RSV))

Critics who worry that Pope Francis is communist are missing the point.

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Image note: Pope Francis is presented with a gift of crucifix carved into a wooden hammer and sickle, the Communist symbol uniting labor and peasants, by Bolivian President Evo Morales in La Paz, Bolivia, Wednesday, July 8, 2015. Apart from the carved hammer and sickle, Morales gave Francis another politically loaded gift, a copy of “The Book of the Sea,” which is about the loss of Bolivia’s access to the sea during the War of the Pacific with Chile in 1979-83. Morales said things ahve changed with this pope and the Bolivian people are greeting Francis as somone who is “helping in the liberation of our people.” (L’Osservatore Romano/Pool Photo via AP)

Dokoupil, Tony. “Is the pope a communist?”. msnbc. 9 July 2015.

Weigle, Luther, et al. The Bible: Revised Standard Version. New York: Thomas Nelson, 1971.

The Price of Freedom

Detail of frame from FLCL episode 2, 'Firestarter'.

Live free and die? Oh, wrong state.

A Calais man was killed Saturday night after placing a fireworks mortar tube atop his head and setting it off, according to Maine State Police. It was the first fireworks-related death in Maine since fireworks were legalized in 2012.

Police said the bizarre incident occurred at roughly 10 p.m. in a residential backyard on South Street. Devon Staples, 22, was setting off fireworks with some friends when he “placed the fireworks mortar tube on top of his head and set it off,” the investigation found.

Investigators said the explosion caused a fatal head injury, and Staples died instantly.

(Anderson)

This is why people stick with the simple act of offering condolences. Because, you know, what is anyone supposed to do with that sad tale?

And it is true there is certain dark and morbid humor; many of us appreciate at least the idea of the Darwin Awards, but in the end we are laughing at human tragedy. Or, rather, that we are laughing at some particular absurdity within that tragic context does not erase the fact of human tragedy.

To the one, for instance, we have a dead man, and it is a safe bet that someone, somewhere in the world, misses him.

To the other, we have this dude who tried to launch a mortar off his head and died. What the hell is anyone supposed to do with that?

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Anderson, J. Craig. “Calais man dies after setting off fireworks from atop his head”. Portland Press Herald. 5 July 2015.

What Victory Will Mean

Detail of 'Tom the Dancing Bug' #1232, by Ruben Bolling, 2 April 2015, via Daily Kos Comics.And it’s Tom the Dancing Bug for the score. And the win, really.

No, seriously, just click the damn link.

Or the picture. That works, too.

And when you do, read. Understand. Get the point.

You know it’s the only way this can go.

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Bolling, Ruben. “Lo, in the land of Indiana …”. Tom the Dancing Bug. Daily Kos Comics. 2 April 2015.

Florida (Outlaw Mix)

Welcome to Ft. Lauderdale, where compassion is against the law.

Two stories from the annals of Florida justice. In the late nineties, a judge removed custody of a daughter from the mother because the mother was a lesbian; the judge feared the lesbians would sexually abuse the girl. So he put her in custody of her father, a convicted murderer also charged with sex crimes. And it was sometime in this century that a jury acquitted a rapist on the grounds that a woman wearing a bikini and short skirt in the Florida summer was asking to be raped.

Yes, really. Those are both real.

Florida.

There is no sex crime in this one, yet it seems to fit with the theme of “America’s wang” to consider that two pastors and a ninety year-old volunteer face prison time for the crime of feeding the homeless.

Arnold Abbott faces prison time for feeding the homeless in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.A 90-year-old man is facing up to 60 days in jail for feeding the needy due to a new law that bans people in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, from meal-sharing with the public.

Arnold Abbott risks being fined $500 and spending time in prison after police officers apprehended him while he was handing out meals to homeless people in a park on Sunday.

He was arrested and charged along with two ministers from the Sanctuary Church, which prepares hundreds of meals to dish out every week in their kitchen, while onlookers shouted to officers “shame on you!”

Mr Abbott said: “One of police officers came over and said ‘Drop that plate right now,’ as if I was carrying a weapon.”

(Sabin)

'Texas Secession', by Jeff Danziger, 15 November 2012Every once in a while, it occurs to us that if Texas ever follows through on its childish secession threats, we ought to sit down at the table and deal: Fine, you can go. But you have to take Florida with you.

Yeah. That would start a war.

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A Quote: Good Ol’ Fashioned, Honest-to-God, Real Holy Sh*t

And TV preacher Pat Robertson heard from a viewer this week who asked why her ailing husband's condition hasn't improved despite intense prayer: "Robertson responded that the woman's husband probably isn't a faithful Christian and may actually want to be sick: 'There are some people, you know, they enjoy their sickness. That is terrible to say but that is their excuse not to compete, 'well I'd love to compete but my lumbago's got me so I can't do it.'"

Talk about a gem. That’s a real quote. Then again, of course it is. This is the Pat Robertson we’re talking about. Brian Tashman has the brief on Robertson and the faithless, as well as the mildly uncomfortable video. And Steve Benen has the weekly roundup of the goings-on at the intersection of God and State.

Now, if someone could only point us the way to the intersection of Pat Robertson and Reality. Or maybe not; there are some things and places in this world we just don’t need to see.

“There are some people, you know, they enjoy their sickness. That is terrible to say but that is their excuse not to compete, ‘well I’d love to compete but my lumbago’s got me so I can’t do it.'”

Of course, he’s Pat Robertson, so, yeah. He knows. Right? Right?

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