Jul 29, 2013

Pope Francis Won't Judge Gay People

"Judge not, that ye be not judged." ~ Matthew 7:1

Pope Francis has once again shocked the world with a message of tolerance.

Pope Francis opened the door on Sunday to greater acceptance of gay priests inside the ranks of Roman Catholicism as he returned to the Vatican from his maiden trip overseas.

Fielding questions from reporters during the first news conference of his young papacy, the pontiff broached the delicate question of how he would respond to learning that a cleric in his ranks was gay, though not sexually active. For decades, the Vatican has regarded homosexuality as a "disorder," and Pope Francis' predecessor Pope Benedict XVI formally barred men with what the Vatican deemed "deep-seated" homosexuality from entering the priesthood.

"Who am I to judge a gay person of goodwill who seeks the Lord?" the pontiff said, speaking in Italian. "You can't marginalize these people."

Am I the only one who finds it a little alarming that when the leader of the Catholic Church says he won't judge people, it's front page news? Or aren't popes supposed to at least give a little lip service to that whole judge not thing.

It does imply a real departure, though, from Pope Benedict's crackdown on gay clergy and from the Church's history of diverting blame for their sex abuse crisis onto gay people.

Pope Francis's comments pertained to the "gay lobby" scandal that erupted into headlines in the waning days of Pope Benedict's reign. When pressed, he handled the issue with all the deftness and grace that so completely eluded his predecessor.

The pope addressed the issue of an alleged "gay lobby" within the church. Hints that the Holy See contained a network of gay clergy surfaced last year in reports about a series of embarrassing leaks to Italian journalists.

The "Vatileaks" scandal factored in Benedict's shocking decision to resign this year, according to some church experts, as it impressed upon the 86-year-old pontiff that the modern papacy requires a vigorous and watchful presence.

"There's a lot of talk about the gay lobby, but I've never seen it on the Vatican ID card!" Francis said.

"When I meet a gay person, I have to distinguish between their being gay and being part of a lobby. If they accept the Lord and have goodwill, who am I to judge them? They shouldn't be marginalized. The tendency (to homosexuality) is not the problem ... they're our brothers."

It remains to be seen whether the Vatican will walk these comments back as it has with previous eruptions of compassion and dignity from the new pontiff.

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Jul 16, 2013

Announcing: The James Arthur Ray Sweat Lodge Trial

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As you know, James Arthur Ray was released from prison last Friday. In honor of this inauspicious occasion, I'm unveiling The James Arthur Ray Sweat Lodge Trial page. I've been slowly organizing all the material from the Sweat Lodge Trial into a more easily navigable index, with a table of contents and a glossary of terms.

I started this project a little while after James Arthur Ray went to jail. It proved more challenging than I'd expected. It's not the busy work of it. I find that it forces me to relive the trial which, as it turns out, was even more emotionally grueling than I'd remembered. But think of it as a work in progress as I keep chipping away at it.

I welcome feedback and suggestions.

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Jul 12, 2013

He's Baaaaack!

Later today James Arthur Ray, possessor of The Secret, motivational speaker,  and criminally negligent homicider, will ooze out of his prison cell and resume his career as a professional mover and shaker... or maybe he'll just sleep on someone's couch.


I am hesitant to send this e-mail; however I just got off of the the phone with James and time is becoming critical. As I am sure most of you know, James is due to be released on July 12th and as a condition of his parole, must stay in Arizona for 110 days following his release. I have been consistently reaching out to James’ friends in an effort to find him some type of lodging for his short stay in Arizona. Unfortunately, any lodging must be approved by his parole officer prior to his release, and he has been told that renting an apartment, or staying in a hotel will most likely NOT be acceptable to the state of Arizona. That being said… we are desperately looking for some type of spare room in someone’s home, or an empty home that he could use for his short time on parole.

As I am sure all of you assume… this unfortunate situation has left James financially destitute, so we would not be able to pay much for either type of above lodging. The additional caveat would be that if it was an empty home, we would need to also find bare minimums on furniture (bed, couch, etc) that he would have access to.

The alternative to us NOT being able to find him lodging, would be that he would have to stay in a “group home” (or halfway house) with other recently released prisoners. Although we all hope that newly released prisoners come into society with the intentions of leading a reformed life, the reality is that these halfway homes tend to be full of drugs, theft, and violence. James is simply hoping for a place to have solitude, and a location that he can begin to re-acclimate to life as we all know.

Once again… I apologize in sending out this straight to the point e-mail; however, I have simply exhausted my and James’ resources (me being 1200 miles away) and now am counting on the universe to guide someone to the right resource to help us in this desperate situation.

My love and respect to all of you that have already done so much for James. I truly believe each of us has tremendous hearts and want the best for James as his “new life” begins upon his release.

My best to all, and thanks in advance!

Jon C. Ray”

So now James and his brother Jon are counting on the universe to come through in the clinch, after it somehow left them desperate and destitute. And here I thought James Arthur Ray knew The Secret and all about "how the universe works." How did he get into this predicament? Oh, right. He killed three people because he didn't know enough about how life on earth works to not stuff them inside a hellish inferno.

Christine Whelan of USA Today is betting on Ray's getting right back in the saddle. Once a pitchman, always a pitchman She makes the point that he's never really stopped. Causing multiple deaths and serious injuries at his seminars wasn't enough to make him fold up his tent. He had to be told by his good friend Bob "How the Hell Does Electricity Work?" Proctor that it was in really bad taste to keep doing seminars before the bodies were even cold. He even teamed up with another convicted felon, while he was still in prison, to charge people money for advice on how to become a success. 

Let's face it. Common sense and dignity aren't really James Ray's long suit, so it's not so surprising that he'd have his brother go begging like a panhandler to a list of people who paid him tens of thousands of dollars for his stellar advice on how to achieve "harmonic wealth."

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Jul 2, 2013

Verdict: Yoga is Not a Religion

In a fairly unsurprising decision, Judge John Meyer has found that children in Encinitas, CA schools are not being religiously indoctrinated by a yoga program.

The ruling denied a request by a family in a San Diego suburb to ban the local school district from including yoga in physical education, arguing that it violated the First Amendment and separation of church and state.

"Yoga as it has developed in the last 20 years is rooted in American culture, not Indian culture," San Diego Superior Court Judge John Meyer said. "It is a distinctly American cultural phenomenon. A reasonable student would not objectively perceive that Encinitas school district yoga advances or promotes religion."

As discussed here, the parents who brought the case to stop yoga in their school district had their own very clear religious bias and were enthusiastic supporters of Christian programs in schools. This was not a case about not wanting religion in schools. This was a case about what religion should be taught in schools. If this was in any way unclear, their attorney Dean Broyles made it quite explicit in his post-trial comments.

"There is a consistent anti-Christian bias in these cases, and a pro-Eastern or strange religion bias."

I'm sorry. Who's biased?! A "strange religion" bias? Wow.

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Jul 1, 2013

Richard Dawkins Meets Max Headroom

I first watched this video last week and still haven't quite recovered. So Graham Hancock's comment today cracked me up.

Has Richard Dawkins, arch materialist and formerly professor of the public understanding of science at Oxford University, entered the DMT realms? When I asked Dawkins if he would take psychedelics to challenge his view of reality his answer was interesting: http://goo.gl/rqaU0. Now he's participated in this utterly bizarre video. Skip to 4.45 and watch everything: http://goo.gl/NHnSH

And, yes, Dawkins did indeed hint that he might just pierce the veil.

I still think this is one of the worst things I've ever seen. The incongruity of the Hawaiian shirt and the bleak, grey podium against black background... How can a shirt that loud be so dull? And then there's sing-songy tone of this utterly humorless man attempting to be entertaining and edgy.  And then... and then... Dear God.

I just think he was better when he was trying to brainwash Derek Zoolander to kill the Malaysian prime minister.

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