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Gender: Male
Hometown: Kentwood, MI
Home country: USA
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 22,843

Journal Archives

'Assville Next Left' Sign Points To The Jersey Shore

A lot of people get rear-ended in Assville. Drive carefully.

A hacked road sign pointing toward the Jersey Shore displayed "Assville Next Left" on Monday morning. A local NBC affiliate and the Upper Township mayor called the sign inaccurate and offensive -- everyone else thinks it's hilarious.

"Someone was trying to be funny," Upper Township Mayor Richard Palombo told the station. "But I think the operators of the sign need to be more aware of the fact that the security and the access to that information needs to be more secure."

It's unclear whether someone gained access to the sign on Route 49 or if it was left unsecured, but few people care. Twitter's having a blast with Assville.


If Martians came to Earth and wanted to be baptized, should they be? Pope says yes

He said Catholicism was a church of “open doors”, and that it was up to Christians to accept the Holy Spirit however “unthinkable” and “unimaginable” it appeared.

Describing how, according to the Bible, Peter was criticised by the Christians of Jerusalem for making contact with a community of “unclean” pagans, Francis said that at the time that too was “unthinkable”.

“If, for example, tomorrow an expedition of Martians came to us here and one said ‘I want to be baptised!’, what would happen?”

Clarifying that he really was talking about aliens, the Pope said: “Martians, right? Green, with long noses and big ears, like in children’s drawings.”


Commonweal: Style & Substance - Francis seeks to reconcile factions within Catholicism

Francis’s penchant for seemingly off-the-cuff remarks (“Who am I to judge?”) and his determination to shed much of the papacy’s regal trappings have made him a hero to many, while raising suspicion among some traditionalists. What seems increasingly clear, however, is that Francis has taken the reform mandate given him by the conclave that elected him and run with it. He also wants to place the mercy of the Gospel, rather than its strictures, front and center. This has made him immensely appealing to both Catholics and those outside the church, but it remains to be seen if this more conciliatory style of governance will help overcome the church’s internal divisions.


In calling the synod, Francis has raised the expectation that the church will readmit divorced and remarried Catholics to Communion. This in turn has heightened the fears of some that Francis will alter church doctrine on the indissolubility of marriage. Certainly the pope’s call for “pastoral service” and “divine mercy” suggests that he thinks this is an issue where the church has erred on the side of legalism, and he ended his homily by characteristically urging the synod to embrace the “mystery” of God’s infinite forgiveness.

Francis is equally engaged on other fronts. Reform of the Vatican bank and the financial operations of the Curia are well underway. Preparations for the upcoming synod indicate that Francis hopes to make good on the Second Vatican Council’s promise of episcopal collegiality. Bishops are being encouraged to speak their minds and consult with the laity. Similarly, Francis’s appointments of cardinals and bishops have shown a preference for those with pastoral or diplomatic experience. He has famously remarked that he wants shepherds who smell of their sheep, and the sacking of the German Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, known as the “Bishop of Bling,” has sent an unmistakable message in that regard. Many are now wondering if Francis will move with similar dispatch against bishops who have covered up the sexual abuse of children.

Paul Vallely, the author of Pope Francis: Untying the Knots, and the Boston Globe’s John Allen were recently at the Ethics and Public Policy Center’s Faith Angle Forum to assess the first year of Francis’s pontificate. Both seasoned journalists dismissed the notion that Francis is pursuing fundamental doctrinal change. The pope’s real agenda, shaped by his experience as Jesuit provincial and archbishop in Argentina, is consonant with both the letter and the spirit of Vatican II. “One thing he’s concerned about,” Vallely explained, “is that the church doesn’t make decisions in the right way, and that is more important to him than what the decisions are.” Both Vallely and Allen agree that, with Francis, style is substance. “You can change the Catholic Church profoundly without changing a single comma in its official code of teaching,” Allen said. “These gestures are not just spontaneous, and they’re not one-off. They’re a program of governance in miniature.”


Pope Paul VI to be beatified October 19; will be one step closer to sainthood

Pope Francis has approved the promulgation of the decree for the cause of beatification of his predecessor Pope Paul VI. The approval was announced Saturday.

The beatification ceremony is scheduled to take place October 19, 2014, at the conclusion of the III Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the family.


Harsh winter = fewer random drug tests at Ohio high school

Heavy snow and hazardous winter weather not only forced Fremont City Schools to cancel several school days this year, it also forced the district to scale back the implementation of its new drug testing policy.

Superintendent Traci McCaudy updated the school board Monday on the district’s drug testing efforts and other student wellness goals for the school year.

McCaudy said, as of April 30, the district had tested 156 of its 702 eligible students under the policy’s guidelines. The superintendent said while the district doesn’t have a set number of students it will test in a given school year, the poor winter weather in January, February and March definitely affected the number of tests that could be administered.

“We had to cancel many, many drug testing sessions,” McCaudy said.


Updated: The next Pope Saint? Miracle attributed to Paul VI, beatification October 19

The beatification cause of Pope Paul VI has advanced with the Congregation for the Causes of Saints giving unanimous approval to an unborn child’s miraculous healing attributed to his intercession.

According to Vatican Insider, Pope Francis is expected to publish a decree soon that recognizes the miracle and officially sets a beatification date.

The attributed miracle took place in the 1990s in California. The then-unborn child was found to have a serious health problem that posed a high risk of brain damage. Physicians advised that the child be aborted, but the mother entrusted her pregnancy to Paul VI.

The child was born without problems and is now a healthy adolescent. He is considered to be completely healed.


Norwegian reality show features elebrities planning their funerals

Norwegian television has come up with yet another radical concept in reality TV: celebrity funerals. Kisten ("The Coffin"), a TV show from broadcaster NRK that’s currently screening in Oslo and other major media markets in Norway, asks celebrities to prepare their own burial for the benefit of the cameras. The stars don’t actually get buried, of course. The show acts instead as a dry run for the big day, giving its subjects a chance to decorate their own casket, pick a funeral playlist, and reflect on their lives and beliefs. The big names featured in the show won’t be familiar to an international audience, however—Kisten’s first star was a 50-year-old singer called Bjarne Brøndbo, whose folk rock hits with the band DDR include the song "My Butt."

If it sounds bizarre, well, it is—but following the country’s recent primetime smash featuring a 24/7 stream of a bird box, Norway currently seems to be having a competition with itself to create the world’s weirdest TV. The surprising thing about the potentially ghoulish Kisten, however, is that it’s actually quite affecting.

Indeed, looking at the clips of Kisten available online, they show how refreshingly off-guard people can be in small countries where local celebrities operate within narrow limits—both on their fame and on the potential damage a bit of unscripted honesty could do their careers. I suspect plenty of people are, like me, tired of listening to carefully coached celebrities blather inanely about how they feel "blessed." If we actually saw someone like Gwyneth Paltrow on TV telling us frankly—as Brøndbo does—that she was terrified of death but had neither a belief nor a wish to believe in an afterlife, we might just warm to her more.

The show is also very Norwegian. While international hit Big Brother couldn’t have made its Orwellian inspiration any clearer, and Survivor channeled William Golding, there’s something unmistakably Ibsen-esque about Kisten’s modesty, sobriety and seriousness. Pardon the easy cliché, but I’m not sure how else you could describe a reality show that features a man doodling on a coffin before mumbling a folk song about last year’s roses.


Now if only we could have a funeral for reality TV itself...

Many people don't know the opposites of these words! Do you?


Faith leaders to Congress: Raise the minimum wage

A group of religious leaders stressed the moral obligation to raise the federal minimum wage in an April 29 letter to Congress, describing increased wages as "indispensable to ensuring that no worker will suffer the indignity of poverty."

The letter was released the day before the Senate was to vote on increasing the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour by 2016.

"We respect the dignity of our neighbors who toil under the yoke of today's unjust minimum wage, and we call on our elected leaders to ease their burden by making the minimum wage a family wage," said the letter, organized by public policy groups Interfaith Worker Justice and Faith in Public Life and signed by about 5,000 people including more than 30 prominent religious leaders known for their work on social issues.

In an April 29 teleconference announcing the letter's release, religious and political leaders further emphasized why better pay is not just an economic issue but also a justice concern among people of many faith traditions.


Teen takes great-grandmother to prom

It was a senior prom like no other.

Along with many others nationwide, Ohio resident Delores Dennison had the prom experience of her life this week, including the perfect dress, the perfect dance and the perfect date — her great-grandson, Austin.

Austin Dennison, a 19-year-old senior at Parkway High School in Rockford, Ohio, asked his 89-year-old "Granny DD" to be his date after learning she'd never gone to prom when she was a teen, the Times Bulletin reports.

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