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Pope Tweets About Inequality

 Monday, May 12, 2014

The Pope's recent tweet about inequality being "the root of all evil" caught my attention. I just finished a huge end-of-semester project on inequality for my political ideologies class and spent hours poring over scholarly research on this very subject.

The poor and marginalized are often the subject of comments made by Pope Francis.  Kudos to him for making his highly publicized media encounters count. Aside from the Pope's inadvertent dropping of the F-bomb at St Peters Square, when this Pope speaks we should stop everything we’re doing and listen. (And even the F-bomb incidence just seems to make Pope Francis more loveable—more like a mere mortal.) Anyway, enough about the Pope cursing during a blessing and on to inequality of wealth. Most of us have no idea the extent to which inequality of wealth exists in our society. Watch this short video and you’ll understand what the big deal—the unbelievably big deal—is all about.

When the Pope calls for redistribution of wealth to the poor, he’s totally dissing America's beloved trickle-down economics. Ever since the Regan years, the wealth gap in the United States has widened. It seemed like good policy at the time; even I was a Regan supporter. In hindsight however, it hasn’t played out well for the poor, or the middle class for that matter. Putting this policy debate aside for the moment, let’s chat about my recent college project. I was required to read The Spirit Level by Wilkinson and Pickett and among other things determine if their theory is correct. Now, I’m going to tell you up front that in my opinion the authors political ideology borders on socialism (an accusation our Pope has squelched about himself actually), but that’s rather here nor there. The part of the book that I’d like to focus on are the correlative studies linking happiness and health to income equality in our societies.

 Is inequality so bad? If you believe the information put forth by the authors of The Spirit Level, the answer to that question is emphatically YES—and Pope Francis agrees wholeheartedly. Latin America's first pope has frequently lashed out at the injustices of capitalism and the global economic system that excludes so much of humanity. What The Spirit Level authors, and our Pope it seems, set out to make known is that greater equality is the material foundation on which better social relations are built.

Wilkinson and Pickett claim that societies that are more equal do better on many measures of health and many social problems. If you’re a stickler for detail you can view my persuasive website about all that via my school ePortfolio. For the rest of us, the important thing to note is that there is significant research pointing in the direction that almost every modern social problem-poor health, violence, lack of community life, teen pregnancy, mental illness-is more likely to occur in a less—equal society. The studies are not definitive, but correlative studies suggest we ought to be paying close attention to the Pope's call to redistribute wealth to the poor. And when the research backs up Jesus' teachings, well, maybe it’s something we should all be tweeting about.


Pope Francis~Person of the Year 2013

 Tuesday, December 17, 2013

I don’t know about you, but I have always been caught up in the “…buts” of life. I guess that’s why I love this pope so much. He’s not oblivious to the church teachings (which some have suggested), however, he focuses us on the buts… 

The place where a lot of us live and where there’s a lot of work that could be done.
“The teaching of the church … is clear,” he has said, “and I am a son of the church, but”—and here he adds his prayer for himself—“it is not necessary to talk about those issues all the time.”

If that prayer should be answered, if somehow by his own vivid example Francis could bring the church into a new relationship with its critics and dissidents—agreeing to disagree about issues that divide them while cooperating in the urgent mission of spreading mercy—he might unleash untold good. “Argue less, accomplish more” could be a healing motto for our times. We have a glut of problems to tackle. Francis says by example, Stop bickering and roll up your sleeves. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good—an important thing for the world to hear, especially from a man who holds an office deemed infallible.


The latest from Pope Francis @Pontifex

 Sunday, July 21, 2013

Pope Francis seems to be the real deal. I can’t imagine any future Pope will easily justify the perks of the papacy, which Pope Francis has now cast off and dubbed as unnecessary. Repeatedly he shows his humility. And ... he seems determined to avoid becoming a celebrity.

The latest example of this was when the 76-year-old Argentine Pontiff ordered church bosses to remove a life-size statue of him from the garden of his former cathedral in Buenos Aires.

Apparently, he was "horrified" on finding out about the tribute, which has become a popular tourist attraction in the weeks since it was installed.

"Get that thing down immediately," he reportedly told the priest responsible in an angry telephone call.

This particular instance of humility took me a while to come around to accepting. My initial reaction was that people love and admire him; and a statue is a fitting tribute. The more I thought about it, however, the more I realized that his reaction is justified. The best way we can show our appreciation of him is by following his example. Granted, this approach to life is not always easy in a world that values superstars, victories and wealth. It's much easier to erect a statue and call it good!

While the fate of the statue, (which, was created by sculptor Fernando Pugliese, who has also produced casts of Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa) is now not known, I think the destiny of this Pope is. It's apparent in the long line of incidents that show Pope Francis, the head of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics, as a loving,humble man and one heck of a great pope.


What is the Bank of Happiness?

 Thursday, July 18, 2013

This morning, at the crack of dawn, I was driving my son to a sports camp (where I’m sitting now and for several more hours trying to find things to do). Fortunately, as I drove this morning, I heard a totally awesome radio show dedicated to The Bank of Happiness. While dealing with the freeway commuting traffic violators (for the 4th day in a row) any reminder of happiness was not only welcome, but also vastly needed.

I'm not unhappy about providing this shuttle service, but truthfully, my happiness comes from making my son happy. That seems to be the way happiness usually works? Doesn't it? I've come to understand, however, that happiness is relative term after several hours of athleticism, in the 100 degree heat, with a hundred other overheated, overtired and under hydrated teens …

Under my current circumstances, the idea of thinking with and acting with my heart—The Bank’s aspiration—hasn’t been in the forefront of my thought processes. I value good deeds and normally have the will to do good, but this morning’s National Public Radio show (listen to NPR's Bank of Happiness show here - 4 min 34 sec) has given me much to think about as I sit around today awaiting the trek back home.  

The Bank of Happiness promotes a gratitude economy—where the impossible prevails. By sharing something that you obtain, you can multiply the benefit received.

The Bank of Happiness was created from the ideas of ordinary people, and it isn't anyone's personal ambition or business plan. The purpose of the Bank is to promote non-monetary services that help people. To accomplish this, they need real people in need and real helpers.

The purpose of the initiative is sincere and direct, led by the wish to do good for the entire society. Participation in the activities of The Bank of Happiness is easy. In the Bank of Happiness, you will feel needed and experience joy from giving and receiving. The Bank of Happiness is the only bank where EVERYTHING is free of charge! 

The website includes over 500 ads in English, German and Estonian from people who are providing services or need services. Including this ad to help distribute food to Catholic charities. The website is also translated into French and Spanish.

I’m thinking about what I might offer the Bank— what about you? What could you deposit in The Bank of Happiness?

Sources: NPR's At Estonia's Bank Of Happiness, Kindness Is The Currency
and The Bank of Happiness


World War Z: The Movie

 Sunday, July 7, 2013

Having recently watched World War Z, I found the commentary on the movie by Father Barron very interesting. The movie is about United Nations employee Gerry Lane (played by Brad Pitt) who traverses the world in a race against time to stop the Zombie pandemic that is toppling armies and governments, and threatening to destroy humanity itself. Father Barron speaks very highly of this movie and in a nutshell here's why ...

He sees the show as a template for understanding what sin is, what it does to us and how we're saved from it. He editorializes about how the Christian churches themselves have gotten rather inept at telling the story of sin and salvation and how the movies sometimes do it much more effectively.

I heard that the movie was quite different from the book. I decided to read the book to see for myself what all the hoopla about the adaptation was. Pitt's production company, Plan B, waded through a bidding war with Leonardo DiCaprio's Appian Way in 2006, eventually winning the movie rights to Brooks's "World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War" for $1 million.

Max Brooks's book is actually an oral history of the Zombie War, a story told with multiple narrators and storylines. The "present day" of the book is significantly after the war, with several survivors telling their harrowing tales and creating a global perspective on the epidemic. Admittedly, I've barely started the book, but the only similarity thus far is the title. 

Have you seen the movie, or read the book? What did you think?

Father Barron's Commentary on World War Z


The Garden Gnome ~ Persona Non Grata

 Saturday, May 18, 2013

Some of you may not be familiar with my other blog. Yes, like a lot of you one blog just didn't seem like enough. This is probably one of the 10 signs you are addicted to blogging. Right up there with how you scribble down blog ideas when you're in a conversation and you sleep with a notebook a foot away from your head, just in case. Anyway, I wanted you to get a taste of what happens over on Define Inspiration; exploits in cooking, exercise, gardening and various other rants.

The Garden Gnome ~ Persona Non Grata

Perhaps, you are as behind the times as I am and are just now asking the question, “What is the deal with garden gnomes?” Let me say up front that I am solidly against too much yard art. An occasional tasteful piece is acceptable, but peppering the yard with tchotchke yard trinkets is just plain tacky. 

Now that I’ve offended you, let me say that I am having a hard time adhering to my own stand on this issue. The problem manifested itself after I did some research on the “life and times” of the garden gnome and because recently, I have come across a plethora of hilarious pieces of yard art that I haven't been able to resist. Yes, I too am a tacky yard art owner

As such, I thought I should become more knowledgeable about these decorative fine artworksI visited the website Mental Floss to become educated on the history of the garden gnome and came across the following report.
At the risk of accidentally sounding biblical, we regret to report that gnomes have been banished from the garden. To be a bit more specific, gnome figurines, those whimsical, pointy-hatted denizens of home gardens and front lawns, have been banished from gardens entering England's famed Royal Horticultural Society Chelsea Flower Show.

You won't believe the rest of this story. It has the makings of a good mystery novel with villains, victims, theft, kidnappings, death and more!



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