The Pope, Chiapas, and Father Serra

Pope Francis is on the move again, upsetting the Mexican establishment that would like to show off its fancy malls and building projects by visiting slums and speaking out against violence and corruption. And today, Monday, February 15, he will be in Chiapas, where thousands of Indians from surrounding villages, and even some from Guatemala, will come to hear the Pope deliver a mass, some of it recited in three Mayan dialects.

Pedro Arriaga, spokesman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Cristobal de las Casas, told the press that “In Chiapas there is a situation of extreme poverty, of marginalization of the indigenous community, of social conflicts…. Of course we know that one visit by the pope won’t resolve all that…. But we do hope for a profound spiritual experience with the people that will help us transform our social conscience.”

History’s first Latin American pope had already issued a sweeping apology for the Catholic Church’s colonial-era crimes against Read The Article

Rupert Costo, the Pope, and my friend Ray

Like many Americans—and people across the world—I have watched and listened to the new Pope with hope and wonder. A man of clerical power that extends over much of the world with Francis’s humility giving voice to the poor, the immigrant, the prisoner, is something new in our time, and something that is reaching beyond Catholics and even Christians. I chuckle when he rides in a Fiat, cheer when he derides consumption, and give thanks when he talks sensibly about climate.

But the canonization of Father Junipero Serra?
My friend Ray Cook grew up in Idaho, lived most of his life in California and worked for the State Highway Department. On retirement, Ray started coming to the Wallowas, where his grandfather had been a Methodist preacher and his grandmother was buried (Ray placed a tombstone for her in the Wallowa cemetery).
Ray once had to evict an elderly Indian lady to make way for a California highway, and the act
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From Nasty, Brutish, and Short to the Pope


I’ve not yet seen the Academy Award winning “12 Years a Slave,” but the clips and conversation about slavery and brutality are visceral. Writer John Ridley said in a radio interview that he hoped the film would promote continuing conversations about these difficult subjects. So here are some semi-random thoughts from my end:
By most of the historical markers that we have—journals, histories, memoirs, records chiseled on stone—slavery and brutality have been part of the human condition forever. Wars, pogroms, ethnic cleansing, human sacrifice, human trafficking, purges, and genocide are all over the historical record—and in today’s news bulletins. 
One hardly knows where to start! I just finished reading Brian Fagan’s The Great Warming: Climate Change and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations. He begins with the expansion of agriculture in Europe and the travels of the Norse into North America in the warming years—roughly 800-1200 A.D. And finds that even
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