Christianity

Is Pope Francis Leaving Vatican At Night To Minister To Homeless?

Pope Francis

Never in my almost seven decades of life have I labeled a Pope “awesome”.   Now, with Pope Francis at the Vatican helm, I can finally say it.  This Pope is awesome.

How can one tell just how great Pope Francis really is?  Just look at all the right-wing talking points against the Pope…

The Huffington Post

A recent interview with Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, the “Almoner of His Holiness,” raised speculation that the Pope joins him on his nightly trips into Rome to give alms to the poor, and it turns out that the rumors are probably true.

A knowledgable source in Rome told The Huffington Post that “Swiss guards confirmed that the pope has ventured out at night, dressed as a regular priest, to meet with homeless men and women.”

Krajewski earlier said, “When I say to him ‘I’m going out into the city this evening’, there’s the constant risk that he will come with me,” and he merely smiled and ducked the question when reporters asked him point-blank whether the Pope accompanied him into the city.

He’s not the only Pope known for nocturnal wanderings. There are stories of Pope John XIII sneaking out to enjoy the beauty of Rome in the evenings, and reports tell of Pope Pius XII dressing as a Franciscan during WWII to help smuggle Rome’s Jewish population to safety. More recently, Pope Benedict XVI popped out unannounced to visit an art exhibit.

When Pope Francis was Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, he was known to sneak out at night to break bread with the homeless, sitting with them on the street and eating with them to show that they were loved.

And we love him for doing it now.

Is the Republican party forcing their ‘version’ of Christianity on America?

The religious right- Radical or just devout?

The religious right- Radical or just devout?

The Examiner

With issues like abortion, same-sex marriage and contraception making their way back in the headlines, the issue of religion in government is a hot topic. Conservatives claim their religion is “under attack” and that the “liberals” in America want to take away their right of religious freedom. While conservatives try to defend their religious beliefs, they are discriminating against others who don’t share their same religious affiliation.

The First Amendment of the constitution gives the right for every American to follow whatever religious organization and belief system they choose, but it also states that the United States government will not make any law respecting an establishment of religion. So while everyone has the right to follow a particular belief, no belief is above the country or laws made by its government. Over the last few years, the Republican party has taken a hard turn to the right of the political spectrum, especially on social issues. With the rise of the Tea Party, “God and Guns” has become a major part of the conservative platform. Conservatives talk about their love of family values, but they fail to mention what their definition is on the subject. Radical conservatives like Rick Santorum talk about family values relating them to Christianity. Whether it’s banning abortion, stripping away all same-sex rights and deciding what women can do with their bodies are just some examples of what “family values” means to extreme conservatives.

Republicans often talk about Jesus Christ and how Americans should follow in his footsteps, but they have a different way of interpreting the word of Christ. The universal understanding of Jesus Christ is to treat others how you want to be treated, help the poor and those in need and be there for those who need help, whether you agree with them or not. Unfortunately, the Republican party has taken that message to mean cut funding for the poor and most in need, slash education, support for seniors and the disabled and get rid of any safety net that is needed for millions of Americans.

Republicans also want to push their religious beliefs into public school, a sector that they don’t pay any taxes towards. Republicans have tried relentlessly to cut education funding for public schools with the hopes that the United States can move towards a majority in the private school sector where they can manipulate the curriculum to fit their ideology. The Republican party has also waged a war on science, in particular dealing with evolution and global warming. While 97% of all scientists accept evolution as the factual origin of life, Republicans want to side with the 3% minority that supports creationism and have it taught in public schools. Creationism is the Christian belief that the earth was created by God a few thousand years ago, and that woman was created by a man’s rib. Scientists reject this theory and have enormous evidence to prove it false.

The war on science doesn’t stop with evolution, as the radicals have also attacked global warming. Following their love of de-regulation and less government in the private sector, conservatives have pushed back all evidence for global warming and environmental restrictions because it makes things harder for businesses to make a profit when they are dealing with safety standards. By coming out with false information to fight back against scientists, Republicans do what they can to keep regulations to a minimum, putting the environment at risk for the sake of making a bigger profit.

Republicans have deep convictions towards their religious beliefs, but in defending their beliefs, they alienate millions of other Americans in the process. Not all Christians see the world like the Republican party does, there are members of the “Christian Left” who take the word of Christ and use it in a more positive way. They don’t discriminate against the LGBT community, other belief systems or a woman’s right to choose, and while they personally might not agree with those issues in their own life, they accept others for who they are. One could only wonder that if Jesus Christ did exist and came back to America today, would he support the people helping others in need or those who want to make life as difficult as possible for people who might think different?

Reza Aslan To Fox News: Yes I ‘Happen To Be A Muslim,’ But Wrote ‘Zealot’ Because I Am An Expert

Religion PHD fluent in biblical Greek + studied Xianity for 20 yrs – Fox baffled he wrote book on Jesus (He’s Muslim)

Dare I say that this is the reason why many Fox News viewers are so dumbed down?  Perhaps the host needs to know that the historical Jesus of Nazareth is a revered prophet in the Qur’an.

The Huffington Post

“You’re a Muslim, so why did you write a book about the founder of Christianity?” Fox News’ Lauren Green demanded of religious scholar Reza Aslan, author of “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth,” on Friday.

Aslan responded, “Well, to be clear, I am a scholar of religions with four degrees, including one in the New Testament, and fluency in biblical Greek, who has been studying the origins of Christianity for two decades, who also just happens to be a Muslim.”

The answer did not seem to satisfy Green, so Aslan added, “Because it’s my job as an academic. I am a professor of religion, including the New Testament. That’s what I do for a living, actually.”

Earlier this month, Aslan told HuffPost Live host Ahmed Shihab-Eldin, “I’ve been obsessed with Jesus for a very, very long time” and his fascination inspired his latest book.

Here’s the video:

You can read an excerpt from “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth” here.

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Easter (But Really Should)

Traditional Czechoslavakian Easter eggs.

Happy Easter TFC friends…

Addicting Info

1. Easter falls on a different date each year. Have you ever wondered why that is? Technically, Easter falls on the first Sunday after the full Moon after the Vernal Equinox. Kind of a weird way to determine a holiday for a monotheistic religion, don’t you think? How did this method of reckoning Easter’s date come about? It was a way to steal the thunder from another popular god, whose cult was Christianity’s biggest rival. The worship of Attis and Cybele was very popular in Rome as late as the 3rd century. Attis was a soter, or savior, god who was reborn each year. This resurrection was celebrated beginning on the Friday after the full moon after the Vernal equinox (now Good Friday). It culminated on the following Sunday -three days later. Since they were rivals, Christianity adopted the date for their soter and, once the Cybele cult faded, Christians had to keep the date since that was when everybody was used to celebrating the holiday.

2. The name, “Easter” comes from a goddess: Her name was Eostre and She was the Mother Goddess of the Saxons of Northern Europe. She was, according to Grimm (yes, one of those Grimms), “goddess of the growing light of spring.” One interesting theory posits that Eostre was the embodiment of the bright, growing half of the year while Holda was the cold, dark winter personified. The dates of Easter are so close to Walpurgisnacht that they may have been concurrent at one time, the night giving way to the first day of Summer. This would make Ostara (the German name for Her holiday) a time of transition. Early in the history of Christianity, many pagan observances were adapted for the new faith. The early missionaries discovered that it was easier to get converts to celebrate a new name than it was a new date.

3. There were several soter gods who were very similar to Jesus in pre-Christian cultures. Attis (as mentioned previously), Adonis, Tammuz, Dammuzi, Dionysos, Marduk, Amun and many others have a mythology that parallels that of Jesus. Now, some Christians will use the convenient “satan did it to confuse us” to explain these away. But many others are interested to learn about this phenomenon. Being born of a Virgin, hanging “between earth and sky,” dying and arising again after 3 days… these and other details occur in all stories of a savior god. I won’t go into more detail here (don’t have the room!) but the book, Pagan Christs by by John M. Robertson will fascinate anyone interested in delving deeper.

4. Why eggs and why color them? The egg has always been a symbol of fertility, creation and rebirth. Many ancient cultures’ creation myths involved the earth being hatched from an egg. Though other societies may not have had such a creation myth, they still held the egg as a symbol of new life. Not such a stretch, really, when you consider that every living thing began as an egg. The ancient Persians and Egyptians exchanged colored eggs, usually red, in honor of spring. The Greeks and Romans adopted the custom, enlarging the color palette. In Medieval Europe, eggs were forbidden during Lent. This made eggs very popular at Easter. The Eastern Europeans have a history of creating beautifully colored and decorated eggs, entailing intricate designs with deep meanings. The Russians took this – and indeed, the entire celebration of Easter – to the extreme. Faberge eggs were first created as elaborate Easter gifts for the Russian royal family to give to friends.

5. Eggs were dyed with natural dyes once upon a time. Before we had those little colored tablets to color our Easter eggs, they were dyed with plants and herbs. Red Onion skins yield a soft violet color, carrots produce yellow eggs and cherry juice gives us red eggs. If you’d like to try natural dying methods, this site has a good list and instructions. The Russian word for the art of egg-coloring is Pysanka.

6. Ham for Easter dinner. While some people think that Christians eat ham as a form of insult towards Jews (kind of obnoxious, really), the origin of eating ham at Easter goes back much further than Christianity. Pagan cultures, having slaughtered their meat animals in the Fall, preserving them for the Winter months, now ate up the last of those preserved meats. The custom of lamb for Easter dinner comes from the Jewish Passover holiday. On that day, a sacrificial lamb was eaten, along with other symbolic foods, at the Passover Seder. The Christians adopted the lamb as a symbol of Jesus and retained the custom.

7. Hot Cross buns come from the wheat cakes that were baked in honor of Eostre. As part of the adoption of traditions, Christians added the cross on the top and had the cakes blessed by the Church. In England, it was believed that hanging a hot cross bun in the house would protect it from fire and bring good luck for the coming year.

8. What’s up with the Easter Bunny? The rabbit was a symbol of the moon to the Egyptians, that heavenly body being used to determine the date of the holiday may have had an influence. But the hare was a totemic animal of the goddess Eostre, symbolizing fertility for Spring. As anyone who has ever had rabbits or hares can attest, they are quite fitting for that symbolism. The character of an Easter Bunny seems to have begun in Germany, where he was a kind of Springtime Santa Claus, delivering Easter treats to children. He was known as Osterhase. The children would build a nest for him to leave their eggs in. This eventually became our modern Easter basket.

9. Easter eggs once acted as birth certificates. It’s true! During the 19th century, when families were unable to get to the closest town hall to file a birth certificate, an egg would be accepted as a method of identification. The egg would be dyed and inscribed with the person’s name and birth date. It was completely legal and accepted by courts and other authorities. Wouldn’t this just drive the birthers crazy?!

10. A few Easter customs… In England, doors and windows are opened on Easter Sunday so that the sun can drive out any evil within. If it rains on Easter morning, so the lore says, it will rain on the next seven Sundays. If you find a double-yolked egg on Easter, it is a sign of good luck. If you get up early on Easter and go for a swim in a cold stream (would there be any other kind at the end of March?) your rheumatism pain will be eased. I’ll stick with ibuprofen, thanks. Finally, if you get up early enough you can see the sun dance for joy.

So, there are some interesting facts about Easter. Yes, the holiday has its roots in pagan traditions, but that shouldn’t make any difference. If you are celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus, I’m sure that He wouldn’t mind if you hide a few Easter eggs for the kids. If you are celebrating Passover, it, too is a spiritual rebirth and observance of renewal. If you celebrate Ostara (as I do) then you welcome the warmth and new life of Spring. It doesn’t matter, you see, because it’s all in honor of renewal and rebirth and the continuation of life. Happy Easter!

CNN Headline: “Is Obama the ‘Wrong’ Kind of Christian?”

For years CNN was my only news source.  Then they became “Fox News Lite” and I was done with them.  This CNN headline only reinforces my decision to drop them completely.  Although the article turns out to be positive, the connotation, in my opinion, appears to be aimed at some of the more fact challenged folks who hear this stuff all day on Fox News.

Why the provocative headline?

Daily Kos

WTF??

Yes, that’s the headline on CNN right now.  However, the preview of the article states:

He’s been called the anti-Christ. But Obama is a “different” kind of Christian, progressives say — one who’s challenging the religious right’s grip on the national stage.

Not exactly what the headline connotes, is it?  And the article is actually positive for Obama — about how his “progressive” faith is challenging the dominance of the religious right in national discourse.  For example, though it mentions Rev. Wright, it states that Obama’s real inspiration is Martin Luther King.

But the casual reader who stops by the website (I was only there to find out what’s going on with Iran — first — talks, then denial, then the NYT headline that there are talks. CNN had nothing!*) sees the headline about Obama being the “Wrong Kind of Christian” and probably won’t read the article.

You would think the headline could be “Obama — a Different Kind of Christian” or “Obama’s Faith — a challenge to the religious right’s brand of Christianity.”  And no, putting “wrong” in quotes doesn’t help that headline.

Nearly two weeks before the election that’s irresponsible at best.

UPDATE:  Let them know.

*What is going on?

 

Michele Bachmann’s Toxic Brand of Christianity

 

Michele Bachmann - snake    :    http://mariopiperni.com/

Mario Piperni

Frank Bruni questions Michele Bachmann’s version of Christian love.

What I find most fascinating about Michele Bachmann — and there are many, many more where she came from — is that she presents herself as a godly woman, humbly devoted to her Christian faith. I’d like to meet that god, and I’d like to understand that Christianity.

Bachmann’s concept of Christian love brims with hate, and she has a deep satchel of stones to throw. From what kind of messiah did she learn that?

Indeed. Bachmann’s attack on Hillary Clinton aide, Huma Abedin (Abedin is apparently an agent for the Muslim Brotherhood…sigh), is just another example of the delusional crusade Bachmann has embarked upon in her battle to filter out those she deems impure. She follows in the footsteps of Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and other hate mongers who shield themselves behind the Bible and use politics as a means to further their demonization of Muslims, gays and any other sector of society that does not fit neatly into their narrow interpretation of what constitutes good.

Bruni takes a look at some of Bachmann’s illogical beliefs and conspiratorial theories on homosexuals, Muslims and women’s rights. He closes with:

Most of us distinguish, rightly, between Muslim extremists and other followers of Islam. Perhaps we should start noting the difference between Christians of real compassion and those exclusionary spite.

Bachmann’s on to something: dangerous fundamentalists have indeed set up camp deep inside the capital. She can find one in her office. She need only look in the mirror.

Is this not clear enough? And yet the people of Minnesota keep on putting into office an individual who is clearly mentally unfit to govern. Why?

 

Outrageous: Kid Sings “Ain’t No Homo Gonna Make It To Heaven” – Church Cheers (Video)

It appears to me that the folks that may not make it to heaven are those in the church teaching that little boy hate…

Class War Exists

The other day – Aphrodite wrote about these cute kids who talked about presidential history and one of them said basically he supported President Obama because gay people could marry.  And while that is something that IACWE supports wholeheartedly…the point was made and I think rightly so – we need to be very careful about using children as props.  I think it’s great that kids have a good heart…but at the end of the day – they will tend to support the position of the households they’re raised in.  You can find that video HERE.

And the ugly side of that coin is indoctrination in all of it’s nastiness.  Watch the video…and see how the church filled with adults ERUPTS with pride to see this young kid sing and no sooner than he says “ain’t no homo gonna make it to heaven”…it was a deafening set of cheers.  That. Is. Indoctrination.

Courtesy of a local Indianapolis channel HERE:

“The Bible is right, somebody’s wrong. Romans 1 and 27, ain’t no homo gonna make it to heaven,” the boy sings as congregation members cheer and clap. The video appears to show The Rev. Jeff Sangl, the pastor and founder of the church, according to the church’s website, laughing and congratulating the child after he finishes the song.

 

The March of Christian Dominionism 1: What Is Christian Dominionism?

Make no mistake about it, I am far from being “anti-Christian”.  I went to Lutheran Schools from first grade through twelfth grade.  My belief is more spiritual than “organized”, but  I am a “believer” nonetheless.

Yet, I felt compelled to re-blog the following article to show my readers what could happen in a President Rick Santorum world.  Keep in mind that Santorum is merely a front-man for a more insidious plot to transform this country into Christian Dominionism - (politically active conservative Christians.)

Three main characters remain in the background giving Santorum and fellow “Dominionists” their marching orders, they are James Dobson, Tony Perkins and Ralph Reed.

Addicting Info

Or “Welcome to the Theocratic States of America”

Thirty years from now, a protestor stands alone on a corner. She is visibly pregnant. Her sign, written in blood red marker, says “I’m carrying my rapist’s baby! Thanks a lot, Jesus!” She has only been there for five minutes but has been called “slut” and “whore” by several passersby. One elderly woman stops long enough to tell her she deserved to be raped for not loving Jesus enough. Others look at her with sad eyes but quickly avert their gaze lest one of their neighbors notice.

Finally the police arrive to take the woman into custody. She has not spoken a word. She has no bullhorn. She has not accosted a single person on the street. Yet she is still arrested by men who barely contain their contempt for her. She has broken no laws that we would recognize but still, she is roughly handcuffed and placed in the back of a police cruiser. Of course, they take great care not to harm the baby she is carrying; the bruises she’ll have later won’t be anywhere near life-threatening. In this, she is lucky to be pregnant; others do not fare as well.

She is not read her rights because she has none. She is a blasphemer against the Lord and has been stripped of all legal protections. Her pregnancy will ensure that she survives long enough to perhaps repent and beg forgiveness. If not, she will be stoned to death in a public square by devout followers. Her child will be raised by the State to be a patriotic, loyal and, above all, God fearing citizen.

Welcome to the Theocratic States of America.

Continue reading here…

‘Morning Joe’ Confronts Rev. Franklin Graham Over Obama’s Christianity: ‘That Is An Amazing Double Standard’

I have a limited tolerance for Morning Joe  and this is one of those rare instances of tolerance…

The Huffington Post

The “Morning Joe” roundtable had a heated confrontation with Rev. Franklin Graham, the son of televangelist Billy Graham, for questioning whether President Obama is a Christian on Tuesday’s show.

Graham has come under fire for controversial statements about Obama’s faith before. On Monday, he was responding to a recent comment by Rick Santorum that initially appeared to criticize the President’s religious beliefs. Graham refused to definitively say that President Obama is a Christian.

When asked if he believed that he was, Graham said that people would “need to ask President Obama” to get an answer. “He has said he’s a Christian, so I just have to assume that he is,” Graham said.

He defined a Christian as someone who puts “faith and trust in Jesus Christ,” and contrasted that with what he claimed was Obama’s arrival at Christianity. He said that Obama joined a church after the Chicago neighborhood where he was a community organizer asked him to.

When co-host Willie Geist pressed him to say whether he believed Obama was a Christian, Graham maintained that he “cannot answer that question for anybody.”

However, his answer on Rick Santorum’s Christianity was a resounding yes. “His values are so clear on moral issues,” he said. “No question, I believe he is a man of faith.”

Contributor John Heilemann took issue with this. “That is an amazing double standard you just applied,” he alleged.

“You have to look at what a person does with his life,” Graham defended.

He also would not say whether he believed Romney is a Christian. “Most Christians would not recognize Mormonism as part of the Christian faith,” he said. He noted that Gingrich has been married several times, but that he believed that he was a Christian.

Geist questioned this. “So Newt Gingrich is a Christian, but you’re not sure that President Obama is. And you said based on the way they lived their lives.” Someone off-screen could be heard saying, “Wow.”

“All I know is under Obama… the Muslims of the world, he seems to be more concerned about them than the Christians murdered in the Muslim world,” Graham responded.

Watch the video here…

The Sick Mind of Rick Santorum

Rick Santorum  knows that he’s un-electable in a general election, so like Donald Trump, he says whatever it is that riles “the base”.

How can these so-called Christians and a Mormon be so damned evil and lie with impunity?

Mario Piperni

Rick Santorum is a strange, strange man. More we hear of him, the more frightening the thought that a man as disturbed as he could possibly one day occupy the White House. Santorum’s religious zealotry utilizes Christian dogma as an excuse to spread a special brand of hate and divisiveness. And while his homophobic bigotry is a well documented fact, his religious bigotry might be a little less known.

Rick Santorum has sought to project a sunny suburban, regular guy appeal as he vies for the GOP presidential nomination. But whenever I have seen him during the campaign, there seems to be a seething and loathing just beneath the surface that he has to struggle to keep from leaking out.

But back in 2008, while a senior fellow of the neoconservative Ethics and Public Policy Center, we got a glimpse of what it is that is so churning under his public face.  In a speech, he quietly explained to students at Ave Maria University, in Naples, Florida  that Satan, the “Father of Lies”, is destroying America.  Part of Satan’s effort, according to Santorum, has been to so transform the mainline Protestant churches in America — that they are no longer even Christian.

This may come as a surprise to the 45 million people of the member communions of the National Council of Churches, such as The Episcopal Church, the United Methodist Church, the United Church of Christ and the Presbyterian Church (USA).  But Santorum’s view that the mainline churches have gone the way of Satan is unambiguous —  as is his suggestion that his own Catholic Church remains Satan free.

Can there be any doubt that a President Santorum would seek to create a theocratic state governed primarily by his strict interpretation of the Bible? Over the weekend, he criticized President Obama as one who adheres to “some phony theology. Not a theology based on the Bible. A different theology.“  Santorum later explained the theology he was referring to.

“I accept the fact that the president’s a Christian,” he said. “I just said that when you have a worldview that elevates the Earth above man, and says that, you know, we can’t take those resources because we’re going to harm the Earth by things that frankly are just not scientifically proven, like for example that politicization of the whole global warming debate, this is just all an attempt to centralize power, to give more power to the government.”

The well-being of the planet, Santorum tells us, should not be our concern. It is God’s. Our job is to simply rip open the earth’s crust and fill up our pockets as best and fast as we can – not unlike a child let loose in a candy store. The consequences of our deed are not our worldly concern.

Rick Santorum is a sick fuck. He really is.

The thing to know about Santorum, unlike Romney, is that he honestly believes each and every word he says. It’s not an act. When he speaks of banning contraception or when he compares homosexual conduct to bestiality or when he states his belief that Satan has infiltrated every religion except Catholicism, the man is serious. He leaves no doubt that every decision he would make as president would be guided by those very same beliefs.

Conservatives and Republicans have a clear choice in choosing their next presidential nominee.  They can pick an empty shell who has no core beliefs or they can have a man who views the world as a battle, literally, between God and Satan and would thereby base his decisions on a personal interpretation of the Bible. How lovely a choice.

If ever there was a lose-lose proposition being offered to Americans, this is it.

(The Rick Santorum source photograph for this illustration is a Creative Commons licensed image from photographer Gage Skidmore.)