Pope Francis Vs. The Theocons

Francis Vs. the Theocons Round III

Andrew Sullivan has an interesting article about Pope Francis, the Pope’s encyclical on climate change, and the far right’s anger over the Pope’s stance on climate change.  It should be mentioned that Sullivan is a Catholic.  A sample:

The theocons created an abstract fusion of GOP policy and an unrecognizable form of Christianity that saw money as a virtue, the earth as disposable, and the poor as invisible. It couldn’t last, given the weight of Christian theology and tradition marshaled against it. And it hasn’t. Francis is, moreover, indistinguishable on this issue from Benedict XVI and even John Paul II. As in so many areas, it’s the American far right whose bluff is finally being called.

Pope Francis to Ask World to Act On Climate Change

Pope Francis

The Pope Edict On Climate Change

There is some good news on the climate change front this week.  Apparently Pope Francis is taking this threat to our civilization seriously.  He plans on making a strong statement on this issue in 2015.  The article above contains a a quote by Pope Francis that also concerns this issue:

“An economic system centred on the god of money needs to plunder nature to sustain the frenetic rhythm of consumption that is inherent to it.

“The system continues unchanged, since what dominates are the dynamics of an economy and a finance that are lacking in ethics. It is no longer man who commands, but money. Cash commands.

“The monopolising of lands, deforestation, the appropriation of water, inadequate agro-toxics are some of the evils that tear man from the land of his birth. Climate change, the loss of biodiversity and deforestation are already showing their devastating effects in the great cataclysms we witness,” he said.

What is especially great is that he really seems to get it.  This issue, and one of the reasons large corporations are trying to stall us dong anything about it, is tied up with economics.  The Pope also sees this issue as a moral one, which it is.  I can’t help but like this guy…

The Vatican Proposes Change On Its Views On Gays

Vatican Asks For People to be More Accepting of Gays

I usually scan the headlines of Huffington Post in the morning.  While there is a lot of bullshit at Huffpo, it is a good place to check briefly to see what is going on in the world on any given day.  I was shocked to see this morning that the Vatican is proposing a change in it’s view on gays.  While it is not changing its views on matrimony and other such issues, it is proposing changing it attitudes on including gay people in their community.  While some people may say that this is not going far enough, this is actually a huge change for such a slow moving conservative institution.  In the article an expert on the Vatican calls it an “earthquake”.  This is the kind of thing that gives one hope about the world.  Change may be slow and it may be the result of years of sacrifice, but it can happen.  The world can become a more just place.  For an institution that acted immorally under the last two popes, it seems that under Pope Francis it can be a force for good.  This is great news to wake up to.


God’s Punishment

“They’re filthy lice and we’re here in this stink hole as God’s punishment”

“That’s nonsense, Roper,” Spillbergen said. We’re here becau—”

“It’s God’s punishment! We should have burned all the churches in Santa Magdellana–not just two. We should have. Cesspits of Satan!”

Passage from James Clavell’s Shogun.   Dutch Protestants that are being held prisoners are talking about what they should have done to the Catholic churches that they passed in travel.  Whether Clavell meant for this passage to be funny or not I have no idea.  It found it so with my morning coffee.

House of Cards

I started watching the Netflix series House of Cards starring Kevin Spacey.  As a piece of entertainment it is top notch.  The acting is fantastic.  The writing is full of excellent dialogue and the story moves at a brisk pace.  The show revolves around a Machiavellian Democrat (we know we are dealing with fiction right there), and his quest for power.  I’m only on episode five, so it is safe to say that I don’t know the full arc of the story and where it will lead.  If I judged a show like Breaking Bad on five episodes I would have no idea of the Shakespearean tragedy that was at the heart of that show.  I would have viewed it as a dark comedy.  However, what I have seen so far is great.  I will definitely at least finish this season and see how I feel about it from there.  I look forward to seeing how it turns out, which in and of itself, means that at the very least it is a good TV show. 

When you watch a show like this you tend to wonder how much of it could actually happen.  Of course, as I hinted at above, we haven’t seen a Democrat this cunning and ruthless since possibly LBJ.  They were at least smart enough to make him a Southern Democrat that, although his politics seem to be driven so far by the politics of personal power, appears to be a conservative Democrat. 

That’s not to say that the show is unbelievable.  If it is unbelievable it is only to what degree.  On top of that the show spends a good deal of Spacey talking directly to the camera giving soliloquies as if in a play.  Because of this there is a certain amount of artifice built directly into the show. 

What I think is true to the real world, and which the show gets, is that all events at the end of the day are driven by humans in all of their nobility and savagery.  Edifices like giant cathedrals and impressive public buildings are built to try to hide this fact. 

I am going to paraphrase him, but I once read an interview with Morrissey where he said that one of the most important things that he learned by getting older was that those in power were not necessarily any smarter or better than him.  Ever since we are kids were have it ingrained upon us that many that are in positions of power have something that we don’t have.  Now occasionally this is true.  There are those at the top that have worked hard and that are intelligent.  But many people in positions of power are just lucky.  They were at the right place at the right time.  And I would even argue that some, if not more than some, got where they did because they lacked morals or scruples that prevented them about worrying about anything other than their own rise to power.  Kurt Vonnegut once spoke of how many corporate leaders possessed psychopathic personality traits.  He was ahead of the curve because recent studies have concluded that corporate leaders do indeed score higher in that group than the average public.  It’s still only 3% to 1%, but that still isn’t going to make me sleep well at night. 

I think if you can remember this, if you can demystify the cult of personality that much of our culture places on those at the top, then you can realize that real change can be made.  If you want to see the world become a better place it helps to remember that it is only other humans that stand in your way.  Let’s, for an example, say that you are a Catholic.  Let’s say you love the church as a whole, but would like to see it modernize on certain things.  Let’s say that you would like to see women ordained or gays allowed to openly participate in the church.  Taking on the Vatican might seem daunting.  Taking on an old man in a strange little suit, less so.  

Spirits and Ruins

Staying in an old house in Bend, with history literally written on the walls.  Woke up this morning reading about a man named Lowell Jensen.  Lowell was insturmental in helping to build the Catholic school next door, which is now a hotel.  He also spied on the Ku Klux Klan, who were rallying against Catholics.  A local priest got involved and then eased tensions. 
As mentioned the Catholic school is no longer a school.  Lowell Jensen is no longer amongst us.
I like to imagine places as they once were.   I have seen ruins and I have seen catacombs filled with kings.  I have been to the Coliseum.  They used to fill it with water sometimes and have sea battles to the death. Last night in a bar I saw a picture of Bend as the small Western town it used to be.  They would races horses through the streets on Sunday. 
Whole worlds that are now just memories and ghosts surround us.  Sometimes I like let my mind wander and explore those places.  Sometimes when I am in the middle of a modern city, I imagine what people will think of our world when we are just memories.  Will we be fondly remembered?  Or will we look like primatives full of ignorance and superstitious ideas? 
Next time you are in someplace interesting, learn some history about it.  A place that is already interesting will suddenly be filled with a whole new dimension.  You will be able to walk with spirits amongst ruins.  Reality transfigured with a pinch of the divine.