Monthly Archives: March 2014

President Obama and the Pope

This week in Rome, President Obama will meet with Pope Francis for the first time.

Since his election last year, Pope Francis has made numerous proclamations that many have found to be unusually liberal minded for the Church, both politically and even when it comes to social issues like gay marriage. During their closed door meeting on Thursday, President Obama and the Pope are expected to discuss an issue that’s been of great concern to both of them: the problem of growing inequality and lack of opportunity among the poor. In the U.S., some in the right-wing media have gone so far as to label the Pope a communist or, even worse, a LIBERAL. They’ve come to expect such talk from the President, but when the leader of the Catholic Church starts talking about the failure of ‘trickle-down economics’, he’s simply gone too far. According to Rush Limbaugh, “this pope makes it very clear he doesn’t know what he’s talking about when it comes to capitalism.” God forbid that the Church voice an opinion on unchecked greed and the plight of the poor.

While it’s true that President Obama and Pope Francis have plenty of common ground when it comes to helping the poor, there are also some areas where the two disagree. Obama’s use of drones and the civilian casualties that sometimes result are one. Legalized abortion is another. Still, Pope Francis has made it clear in words and actions that world poverty is his overriding concern and that’s what’s expected to be the focus of tomorrow’s meeting.

Change comes slow to government and even slower to the Church, but for progressives, it’s encouraging to see the subjects of inequality and world poverty even being discussed at all.

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Van Morrison: One Irish Rover


This year as always, Chicago’s St.Patrick’s Day celebration will involve downing large quantities of green beer and and dumping green dye into the Chicago River, should the ice floes allow.

I’ve chosen to mark the occasion by featuring one of Ireland’s most brilliant and crankiest musicians in his native environment. Van Morrison has been steadily making music nearly five decades and has written and performed some of the most soulful songs ever recorded.

The title “One Irish Rover” is a title from his 1986 release “No Guru, No Method, No Teacher”. The song is one of several from the disc that express his love for Ireland and its traditions.

Another inspiration for the image is “You Don’t Pull No Punches, But You Don’t Push the River” from the vastly underrated “Veedon Fleece”, which sold poorly upon its release in 1974, and is now generally regarded as one of his masterpieces. (Jon Oye wrote an excellent essay discussing the album on his blog Contemplations on Classic Movies and Music) The brilliantly surreal lyrics defy explanation (Typically, when asked, Van said that Veedon Fleece means nothing and “I just made it up”.), and together with the flowing instrumentation, form a rich tapestry of Celtic mysticism, nature, and spirituality.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! And for for an extra bit of Irish luck, find the four-leafer in the illustration.

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