Pope flees from act of God

Pope Francis was in the Philippines, attempting to comfort victims of a catastrophic storm, but his visit (and his comfort) were cut short by what insurance companies like to call “an act of God.”

Pope Francis was forced Saturday to flee a fierce storm in the Philippines that killed a papal volunteer, cutting short a mercy mission to weeping survivors of a catastrophic super typhoon…

Francis delivered an emotional mass to about 200,000 people in the typhoon-ravaged central Philippine city of Tacloban.

However, plans to spend the entire day in Tacloban and nearby areas that were devastated by Super Typhoon Haiyan 14 months ago were ruined by another storm, forcing him to fly back to Manila at lunchtime.

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That rules out the Gospel then

Pope Francis puts in his two denarius’ worth on Charlie Hebdo.

Pope Francis on Thursday condemned killing in God’s name but warned religion could not be insulted, weighing into a global debate on free speech ahead of a rapturous welcome in the Philippines…

“If a good friend speaks badly of my mother, he can expect to get punched, and that’s normal. You cannot provoke, you cannot insult other people’s faith, you cannot mock it,” he said.

If a man smite you on your right cheek, offer him your left also. But if he insults your mother, POW!

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Unclear on the concept

One of many things wrong with the Charlie Hebdo attack was the fact that it was an attempt, by terrorists, to impose censorship on a free press. Of course, that’s not surprising. You’d almost expect terrorists to be opposed to freedom of speech. If you’re not a cynic, though, you might not expect this:

French comedian Dieudonne was arrested on Wednesday for being an “apologist for terrorism” after writing a Facebook comment suggesting he sympathised with one of the Paris attacks gunmen, a judicial source said.

Which is worse than pursuing the same goals as the terrorists, right? [Read more…]

Women leaders? What women leaders?

Isn’t this charming.

Yesterday’s historic march across Paris included over 40 world leaders expressing solidarity for France after the Charlie Hebdo massacre, but if you read this Haredi newspaper, you’d believe that none of them were women.

The image that ran on the front page of the Israeli newspaper The Announcer edited two female world leaders out of the image, originally provided by wire service GPO…

Among those purged from the photograph were German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo. If God had meant for women to be leaders, he would have given them penises, eh?

Courage

A terrorist attack happens in America. America responds by installing machines that can see through your clothes and making all air travelers expose themselves to either that or a good groping. Then the government institutes a massive, unaccountable spy campaign against all its citizens. Plus it tortures helpless prisoners, regardless of whether or not they are in fact connected to terrorism in any way. And it establishes a policy of “state secrets” that essentially deny any possibility of democratic supervision of the government’s activities.

A terrorist attack happens in France. Millions of French citizens gather in the streets, without metal detectors, x-ray machines or frisking, declaring “Fear shall not rule.”

I think the land of the free and the home of the brave is now somewhere else.

The Second Coming

I’ve always said that, as a skeptic, I am willing to believe whatever is most consistent with the verifiable evidence, even if it contradicts beliefs I have long cherished. That commitment has probably never been challenged as strongly as it was the day Jesus did come back, as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and, well, President of Presidents.

That was a shock, I must say, but seeing him on CNN and Fox News (of course) and even Al Jazeera, I had to face the evidence and admit that he was really real. God the Son had come down from heaven to dwell among men, and even the most die-hard skeptics had to agree. Fortunately (as he explained later), the Revelation prophecies were misunderstood predictions about Christian persecution in the Roman Empire, so we didn’t have a bunch of terrible calamities to worry about. But still, just having him be there, and be real, was a great shock.

The Christians, of course, were jubilant, or at least, at first they were. For the first few days, you couldn’t turn on a television or go to a news outlet on the web without some believer or another sitting there smugly wagging their fingers and telling us all, “See? We told you so.” Even people like Richard Dawkins were only on long enough to sheepishly admit they’d been mistaken. The Christians had all the microphones and camera time.

And then came the audience with the Pope.

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Fun with Santa

Re-posted from Evangelical Realism, 5 Dec 2007

Was Santa Claus a part of your childhood? He was definitely a big part of mine (bigger than Jesus for most of my very-young days, in fact). It was only natural, then, that my wife and I would want Santa to be part of our kids’ childhood as well. But therein lies the dilemma: Santa is not real, and we didn’t want to lie to our kids. So we found a way to have fun with Santa, without ever lying about him.

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A rare gem

Here’s something you don’t see very often: a genuine apology.

We have heard the complaints about this issue and are listening carefully to the reactions with grave concern.

We could go on all day about our intentions for the issue and the character of Dagger Type, and what our goals were and weren’t. But, our intentions do not invalidate the legitimate reactions that some have had to this story. Those reactions are honest and heartfelt, and exist regardless of our creative intentions, and we don’t wish to dismiss them.

Instead, we want to acknowledge the hurt and offense that we’ve caused, and express our sincerest apologies. We’re all deeply troubled by the reaction to this issue and have made it a point of serious discussion amongst ourselves. While we expected a degree of controversy in regard to the issues of identity and the artistic process that this story was meant to evoke, we do now realize that our presentation of this character was flawed, for any elements whatsoever of the story to have reminded readers of the sordid and misguided tropes that associate both drag and gender expression with duplicity.

We deeply regret upsetting readers who placed their trust in us. But were indebted to those who stand up to speak out about their perspective on stories like this their commentary leads to universally better storytelling, from both ourselves and others, and we hope to live up to that standard in the future.

No blaming the people they offended. Honest acknowledgement of flaws, errors, and regret. Even outright thanks to the people who stood up and voiced their protests. Well done, Batgirl team!

You can read the background to this controversy here: UPDATE: DC Comics Team Apologizes For Homophobia In “Batgirl” #37.

Thanksgiving deferred

I was upset when a friend of mine re-posted the I Am Darren Wilson meme. My first impulse was to give her a hard time about it in the comments, but I refrained because I wanted to make her think instead of just making her mad, and I wasn’t sure how best to do that. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized she is exactly right. She is Darren Wilson, and so am I, and so are most of my neighbors. We’re all part of a corrupt, self-perpetuating conspiracy to exploit people, subverting justice for the sake of maintaining our own privilege. We’re the bad guys.

I’m still trying to figure out what I will do about that. But in the meantime, I can’t celebrate Thanksgiving right now. When I look at all the privileges that I’d normally be thankful for, and realize the price other people are being forced to pay to preserve them, I cannot in good conscience be happy about it. This is not a time for thanksgiving, it’s a time for anger, outrage, sorrow, and repentance. I’ll be thankful the day I can live in a nation that not only promises “liberty and justice for all,” but actually delivers it. Until then, I’m in mourning.

An important distinction

I was thinking the other day about how we teach our kids to distinguish between fact and opinion. For example, consider the following statement:

Global warming is a fact.

Is this a statement of fact or a statement of opinion? Some might say, “Regardless of whether or not global warming is real, this statement is an opinion because the writer is only expressing his or her belief that global warming is a fact.” Is this a legitimate answer? How can we tell?

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