Pope Urges Bishops to Fight “Dangerous Secularism” and Same-Sex Marriage by Evangelizing Children

That is not the headline about Pope Francis that you’ll find everywhere else in the media today. No, they’re in a fawning frenzy at the moment over his new encyclical supporting climate change action. Though I strongly believe climate change is the greatest threat of our time, I’m not donning my party hat. Catholic leaders have been saying the same thing for at least fifteen years, without successfully finding an approach that actually shifts the views of Catholics, at least not in America. And like Francis, Pope Benedict urged climate change action while opposing gay rights, saying both rainforests and gays needed to be saved. Which led to one of the greatest Daily Mash headlines of all time:



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The Unlikely Miracles Used to Justify Sainthood for Recent Popes

Last year, the Catholic Church announced the sainthood of two former popes, John XXIII, who was pope from 1958 to 1963, and John Paul II, pope from 1978 to 2005. The church’s requirement for sainthood is two miracles worked by them after their death, which are needed to prove they’re in heaven and accepting prayer requests from back home on Earth.

Joe Nickell, paranormal investigator extraordinaire, wrote in the latest Skeptical Inquirer about the Church’s latest (incredibly weak) case for Pope miracles. For starters, he explains, most claims of medical miracles have at their heart a fatal flaw: the argument from ignorance:

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How Revolutionary is Pope Francis, Anyway?

It’s hard, even for an angry, arrogant, militant new atheist like me, to not like Pope Francis. He seems to be saying all the right things for someone in his position, rhetorically easing off of gays, emphasizing the plight of the poor, and not being afraid to bring himself to the level of those in need, or those with whom he has little in common.

It helps that he’s so grandfatherly, with a warm smile and those standard-issue old-man glasses, whereas Ratzinger was so comically villainous.

Damon Linker, author of The Theocons and The Religious Test, wants progressives to temper their enthusiasm, however. Not because he sees Francis as nefarious, but rather he sees little evidence that a revolution of sorts is under way in the Church:

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On Being an Apple ‘Catholic’

It is no new thing to compare Apple, Inc. to a religion. The fanatical devotion it has inspired over the decades has made many outsiders eye it suspiciously, as it hawks a kind of techno-faith in which the textbook charismatic leader, Steve Jobs, emits a Reality Distortion Field that turns the skeptical into zealots, hungry for the latest sleek combinations of glass and aluminum like the damned crave absolution. The term “Cult of Mac,” begun by Leander Kahney in his book and website of that title, both pokes fun at and celebrates this comparison.

Those who live inside the Reality Distortion Field, in my experience, rarely resent this. Just as true religious zealots do not mind being known for their blind faith, but wear it as a badge of honor. This is a bit of an exaggeration, of course, as even the most doughy-eyed Apple user will still vent criticisms and complaints, but very often this is done in the spirit of keeping true to a central credo; as in, if device X does or does not have Y feature, is that really keeping with The Apple Way? Is it What Steve Would Have Done? Et cetera.

I, too, have embraced this. Being an atheist, in particular, it’s actually kind of fun to have a pretend religion to subscribe to. I follow the teachings of The Steve, Apple keynotes are like a twice-yearly mass, and I look for signs from the prophets Tim Cook and Jony Ive, just as much as I shook my head in despair at the heretics Scott Forestall and John Browett as they fell from grace.

At New York Review of Books, Edward Mendelson explores the idea of Apple-as-religion anew:

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