Fridays with Francis, January 16, 2015: “Ideological colonization” is The Enemy of Peace

spirituality

Melissa Maleski

Canonization announcements. Statements on fundamentalism, terrorism, religious freedom, the environment, contraception, marriage, the economy, and diplomacy. Trips to Sri Lanka and the Philippines. And that is just a portion of what the Holy Father was up to this week. There is a theme interwoven in all this, embodied by two related statements. These two statements are not found in any of this week’s news, but they summarize nicely the point Pope Francis is trying to make. The first one is: Peace and self-sacrifice are inseparable. The second: Ideological colonization is the enemy of peace. 

The phrase ideological colonization just emerged today, and it’s an immediate favorite of mine. Short and unassuming, once completely unpacked this phrase has the potential to knock you on your butt. Colonization, as a word, implies displacement. One thing comes in, another must be removed to make space. Forests fall so that buildings may rise. Settlers arrive and natives scatter. Rarely does colonization leave the displaced unscathed, if a continued existence is permitted. Applied to ideas, colonization is the overtaking of one idea by another. Pope Francis’ calling out of Fundamentalist terrorism introduces us to the concept of ideological colonization through its most recognizable strain. It’s fairly obvious that forcing your world-view on others via slavery, beheadings, and bombings won’t foster peace.

Where most people started to get squeamish was when Pope Francis called out the softer strain of ideological colonization. It is much harder to articulate, and spreads itself across multiple subjects, but in general is characterized but a fundamentalist zeal for relativism. There is no other belief than the rightness of all beliefs, I’d say it goes. Many of the topics Pope Francis spoke on this week are tainted by this soft strain of ideological colonization. His remedy lies in the repeated call for peace.

This is not your average call for everyone to get along and play nice. Speaking to princes and paupers alike, Pope Francis made it clear that real peace can only come when you run to people, not over them. And fostering real peace requires a sacrifice of self. It requires you to consider the dignity, the needs, and the rights of others before yourself. Economic systems are only as ethical as the most marginalized person they help. Freedom of speech is not really free when it offends the dignity of the subject of speech (dignity should not be confused with pride here). In the nicest way possible, Pope Francis is telling us that if what we say, do, and believe is primarily for the benefit for our selves, we are not working for peace.

The move to canonize Blessed Junipero Serra and Blessed Joseph Vaz reinforces Pope Francis’ particular message of peace. Both men were missionaries who left the comforts of their lives to tend to the spiritual and material needs of others. Their blatant example of this peace is the direct counter to fundamentalist terrorism, and our inspiration to find opportunities in our daily lives to bring real peace to the world.

Until next week, I challenge you to do two things: bring real peace into your life at least once a day, and leave a comment here with your perfect catchphrase for the Holy Father’s special message of peace. Because special message of peace is just long and boring. I need you guys to help me do better.

 

 

About this feature:  The spiritual leader of a over a billion people, “the People’s Pope”  has captured the attention and imagination of millions others with no formal relationship to the Roman Catholic Church through thought, word, and deed. Writer Melissa Maleski brings an insightful Catholic convert’s perspective to the general themes (culture, politics, spirituality, art, and more) Rad Infinitum covers, and will no doubt add greatly to our experience of Francis’ leadership and unfolding legacy.

 

 

5 Powerful People You Didn’t Know Were Related to Bill Gates

culture, history

Chances are good that they’re related to you, too, because of how descent works.  Here are five famous folks who share a common cousin in the Microsoft founder and world-renowned philanthropist.

1.  Diana Spencer, more famously known as Princess Diana.  She’s related to Bill Gates through common ancestors Caleb Fobes and Sara Gager, Gates’ Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandparents and Diana’s Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great Grandparents, making Bill and Diana 7th cousins, twice removed.

2, 3, and 4. George W. Bush.  Gates’ 7th Great Grandparents, Nathaniel House and Hannah Davenport, are also the 7th Great Grandparents of the 43rd President of the United States, making Gates and Bush 8th cousins.  Bush’s siblings, including presidential hopeful Jeb Bush, are also 8th cousins of Gates, and George H.W. Bush, the 41st president, is Gates’ 7th cousin, once removed.

5. Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  Gates’ 8th Great Grandparents are also FDR’s 6th Great Grandparents, making Gates and Roosevelt 7th cousins, twice removed.

Bonus Cousins:  Gates is also related to John Kerry and Richard Nixon.  Use this ancestry list and this cousin chart to see how.

William H. Gates III reacts

The Bill Gates You Don’t Know

culture, history, writing

It’s true that you can now play Oregon Trail for free, in DOS, via the Internet Archive.  It’s also true that before there was a Bill Gates who founded Microsoft, there was Swiftwater Bill Gates of the Klondike Gold Rush, no relation.  Microsoft Bill Gates’ grandfather, also named William Gates, was also a prospector active in the same time and place as Swiftwater, which just goes to show that history wants what history wants.  Read the life story of the other famous Bill Gates, written by his mother-in-law, here.  I bet he would have liked one of those waste-to-water machines.

Click here to see how Mr. Gates is related to Princess Di, the Bushes, FDR, and Richard Nixon.

Being Healthy Sucks Most of the Time, but Here’s a Free Guide to Being Healthy

culture, food, health

 

It’s the middle of January, “Resolution Month” at the gym. In the past, I’ve railed against “resoluters,” with their shiny new workout gear and lack of follow-through. But as I get older, I realize, hey, we’re all human. Maintaining a healthy weight means making the right choices most of the time. Making these choices takes time and often sucks. At the same time, the fitness and nutrition markets are flooded with svengali promises made by the cross fits and diet plans of the world.

The truth is, to get healthier, you don’t need to pay $200 a month for someone to yell at you or for some crazy diet that is impossible to maintain in the long-term. So I created this totally free flow chart to help guide you toward a healthier lifestyle or toward complete and utter ambivalence toward a healthier lifestyle. Happy New Year.

 

 

diet flow

 

 

Joan Didion is Betty White

culture, politics, writing

Christopher Cocca

Last week, before I knew she was the new face of Celine (or before I knew what Celine was, to be honest), I shared Joan Didion’s “At the Dam” in the Required Reading feature here.  I was taught this essay, and I teach it.  Not because Joan Didion is uber-fashionable at the moment, but because it’s really good.

Flavorwire’s Elisabeth Donnelly has an interesting piece up today trying to take the pulse of the growing Didion-as-icon trend.  Donnelly quotes Haley Mlotek in what feels like an especially prescient observation:

As she puts it, citing Joan Didion as your idol says that:

…we’re cool, that we’re educated, that if we are not young and white and slender and well-dressed and disaffected and sad and committed to the art of writing as an arduous and soul-sucking process that must be endured yet Instagrammed simultaneously, then we will be, at least, as close as possible to those identifiers even if it kills us.

Fair? True?

We’ve also been doing this with Leonard Cohen.  Citing him as your idol signals different things, but the desire to look back and hold up great talents in their later years is nothing new.  We do it, of course, with Betty White.  We probably would have done it with Bill Cosby soon.  I for one am not sure why we don’t do it with Dick Van Dyke or Marianne Faithful.

Head’s up: New York Magazine, a mere four hours ago, has issued a warning that loving Joan Didion is a trap.

 

This Website Maps Your Literary Tastes and Tendencies

Books, culture, maps, writing

Literature Map says:

What else do readers of [any other famous author] read? The closer two writers are, the more likely someone will like both of them. Click on any name to travel along.

Did it map you right?  Tell us in the comments.

The Most Followed NBA Teams on Twitter by County and More: An Interactive Map I’m in Danger of Spending Days On

business, culture, sports

I don’t follow the NBA as closely as some, but I’m always interested in the narratives surrounding parity, the lottery system, the differences between large and small markets, and so on. I’m a basketball fan, but not an obsessive one.

With that said, I could spend a very long time on the tool Twitter has created below. There’s a lot of information here, but I thought I’d just share this:

The Lakers have over 4 million Twitter followers. The Bucks have under 300,000. Obviously, lots of people follow more than one team, and so this isn’t as scientific as, say, a Facebook metric. But still.

Every team has outposts of support, and I like to speculate about what makes one county in Nebraska more likely to follow the Sixers than the county next to it.

You can get detailed information on every team, and you can compare any two teams.  That’s helpful if you’re interested in social media as an indication of parity or if you want to keep tabs on how well rival teams on doing with social in general.  If these numbers are any indication, major-market teams have an advantage (we already knew that), but the bulk of their follows come from outside their immediate metropolitan areas.  The later is also true for small-market teams.  If the ring were the thing, the Celtics really should have more followers than the Heat, but they have a million less.  I’m guessing Heat fans skew younger and are more savvy with social.  Boston should be treading the same threshold as the Lakers, but they’re not. Again, age and buzz are at work.

https://interactive.twitter.com/nba_followers/#?mode=team&team=all