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“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.

“The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent. The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently. Proclamation in a missionary style focuses on the essentials, on the necessary things: this is also what fascinates and attracts more, what makes the heart burn, as it did for the disciples at Emmaus. We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel. The proposal of the Gospel must be more simple, profound, radiant. It is from this proposition that the moral consequences then flow.

“I say this also thinking about the preaching and content of our preaching. A beautiful homily, a genuine sermon must begin with the first proclamation, with the proclamation of salvation. There is nothing more solid, deep and sure than this proclamation. Then you have to do catechesis. Then you can draw even a moral consequence. But the proclamation of the saving love of God comes before moral and religious imperatives. Today sometimes it seems that the opposite order is prevailing. The homily is the touchstone to measure the pastor’s proximity and ability to meet his people, because those who preach must recognize the heart of their community and must be able to see where the desire for God is lively and ardent. The message of the Gospel, therefore, is not to be reduced to some aspects that, although relevant, on their own do not show the heart of the message of Jesus Christ.

– Pope Francis (emphasis mine), in an interview with the Italian Jesuit journal La Civiltà Cattolica.

Res ipsa loquitur…

Much has been made about how this doesn’t actually change any doctrine, but the shift in tone and priorities is seismic, incredible, undeniable, and profoundly awe-inspiring.  He has also done something previously thought impossible: made me a fan and admirer of a (the) leader of the Catholic church.

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The English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent events in Syria and have therefore raised their security level from “Miffed” to “Peeved.” Soon, though, security levels may be raised yet again to “Irritated” or even “A Bit Cross.” The English have not been “A Bit Cross” since the blitz in 1940 when tea supplies nearly ran out. Terrorists have been re-categorised from “Tiresome” to “A Bloody Nuisance.” The last time the British issued a “Bloody Nuisance” warning level was in 1588, when threatened by the Spanish Armada.

The Scots have raised their threat level from “Pissed Off” to “Let’s get the Bastards.” They don’t have any other levels. This is the reason they have been used on the front line of the British army for the last 300 years.

– The indefatigable John Cleese[*], who is, in his words, “a British writer, actor, and tall person.” To read more about the current Terror Alert Levels of various countries, you can find the rest of Cleese’s notice here.

*As soon as I put this up I discovered that this was probably not written by Cleese, but by someone attempting to imitate his style of comedy and satire (at least according to Snopes.com). Still pretty funny.

An atheist believes that a hospital should be built instead of a church. An atheist believes that a deed must be done instead of a prayer said. An atheist strives for involvement in life and not escape into death. He wants disease conquered, poverty banished, war eliminated.”

– A quote from American Atheists founder Madalyn Murray O’Hair, soon to be gracing the surface of the country’s first public atheist monument, which is about to be erected in the small community of Starke, Florida, in reaction to a longstanding controversy regarding a Ten Commandments monument that was set up outside the Bradford County Courthouse in Starke last year. The organization American Atheists sued to have the Ten Commandments removed, and and the atheist monument is being erected as part of a settlement.

Though dueling monuments isn’t exactly the least ridiculous result that could have come of this, I agree with Ken Loukinen, the director of regional operations for American Atheists, that, “We’d rather there be no monuments at all, but if they are allowed to have the Ten Commandments, we will have our own.” It is a small step forward. A threshold has been breached, a barrier has been broken, a modicum of progress has been made toward a just and balanced society where state is actually free of church. Though I’m certainly not anti-religion, personally, separation of church and state – complete separation – is one of the most important issues facing us today, and, well, separation is getting its ass kicked.

When you’re a mayor, you don’t have Republican potholes or Democratic schools that are failing, you just have problems that you need to fix.

– U.S. Congressman David Cicilline (D-RI) on the productive virtue of non-partisanship, during the Problem Solvers Hangout, an internet video chat that was held yesterday by No Labels. Three other Problem Solver Congressmen joined Cicilline and No Labels co-founder Jonathan Miller along with several members of the No Labels community for a free exchange of ideas and a frank and honest discussion about problems, solutions, and the country’s future.

Information about the event, including video of it in its entirety, can be found here.

For people who cannot let go of hate and know not how to forgive, no amount of remorse would matter, no level of contrition would be quite enough, only endless retribution would be right in their eyes. Like Judge Milroy, only an eternity in hell would satisfy them. Given even that in retribution, though, the unforgiving haters wouldn’t be satisfied that hell was hot enough; they’d want the heat turned up. Thankfully these folks are the few, that in the minds of the many, at a point, enough is enough.

– William Blake, in his beautiful, haunting, and beautifully haunting essay A Sentence Worse Than Death, which earned him an honorable mention in the Yale Law Journal‘s Prison Law Writing Contest. In 1987, Blake was sentenced to 77 years to life, and has spent the last twenty-five straight years in solitary confinement. His essay describes just how cruel, unusual, and excruciating this experience has been, in a very dark, almost poetic piece of memoir.

I highly recommend reading it, but if you are particularly suggestible, or prone to depression, I would be wary. Once in, it’s not easy to get it out of your head.

BIZNTjjCcAANFZuHey, there is a really big national story going down right now — you know what that means! It’s time for the snide, slithering publicity slug that is Donald J. Trump to attempt to expand his shit-stain of public influence by gurgling up trite, inaccurate pond-spooge and passing it off as legitimate social commentary.

-Rich Abdill, writing for Wonkette.com, on the creature known as Donald J. Trump (pictured right, at least according to USA Today). For evidence of this, read, well, anything he has ever said. For the specific incident Abdill is referring to, read the Wonkette post. For a surprisingly interesting exploration of what sort of self-obsessed, insecure mania must be going on in that orange head, read this article from The Atlantic.

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