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Shame, Guilt, and Gospel in an Outrage Culture

 Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks on Super Tuesday primary election night at the White and Gold Ballroom at The Mar-A-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Fla., Tuesday, March 1, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)Donald Trump is a tragedy. Not in the sense that he is an unfortunate event but rather because he begs consideration. In a tragedy, mourning is often coupled with investigating. The underlying thinking goes that understanding tragedy will somehow effect healing upon the hurt. Trump has proven worthy of consideration and investigation. For each member of the media, three opinions circulate as to how he is doing what he is doing.

Donald Trump is a leader. Whether he is a good or bad one is not my purview, but he is leading. The other candidates, who once dismissed him as a passing trend, now follow him down a mudslinging dirt road. They emulate him in his shaming of others. They join him in assigning guilt, regardless of its veracity.

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What is the Christian perspective on the death penalty?

Pope Francis kisses a child as he arrives to hold his Weekly General Audience in St. Peter's Square in Vatican City, Vatican. Pope Francis dedicated his General Audience on Wednesday to the theme of proper disposition expected by Christian faith toward the goods of the world, saying that they serve the common good if used in accordance with the demands of justice, charity and mercy, though they become a source of corruption and death if used selfishly and arrogantly. (Photo by Giuseppe Ciccia / Pacific Press) Pope Francis called on Catholic political leaders to put a moratorium on using the death penalty during the Church's Jubilee of Mercy. On Saturday in St. Peter's Square, the Pope said, "I appeal to the conscience of the rulers, so that we achieve an international consensus for the abolition of the death penalty." Speaking before thousands, Pope Francis built upon the Ten Commandments in his argument, noting, "The commandment 'You shall not kill' has absolute value and applies to both the innocent and the guilty."

Though this is not a new position for this Pope, it is one he wants to emphasize during this special year. This jubilee (year) of mercy started on December 8th and runs through November 20, 2016. Jubilees occur normally every twenty-five years, inviting individuals to experience God through emulating God. This particular year, Pope Francis chose to emphasize mercy. And in doing so, he has now called on Catholic political leaders to extend mercy to those incarcerated and on death row.

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Is the Pope justified in questioning Trump's faith?

Pope Francis speaks during a mass he celebrated in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016. Francis is on his way back to Italy after a five-day visit in Mexico. (L' Osservatore Romano/Pool photo via AP)Pope Francis has made a habit of garnering headlines since being named the Vicar of Christ back in 2013. His latest trip to Mexico, and especially his visit to the border, has resulted in much the same. However, his comments about Republican frontrunner Donald Trump have gained the most attention. On the flight back from Mexico, Pope Francis told reporters "A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian. This is not in the gospel . . . I say only that this man [Trump] is not Christian if he has said things like that. We must see if he said things in that way and in this I give the benefit of the doubt." He went on to clarify that his comments did not amount to telling American Catholics not to vote for Trump, saying, "I am not going to get involved in that," but his personal feelings on the subject seem clear.  

Trump, who famously made the building of a wall along the U.S./Mexico border one of the first platforms of his campaign, understandably disagrees with the Pope's thoughts on the subject. He told a group of supporters in South Carolina, "For a religious leader to question a person's faith is disgraceful . . . No leader, especially a religious leader, has the right to question another man's religion or faith." He went on to suggest that the leader of the Roman Catholic Church had been misinformed on the subject and was being used "as a pawn" by the Mexican government.

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Dallas Mayor Bans Exxxotica Expo

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings waits to speak at a news conference Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014, in Dallas. The first contacts of the first Dallas Ebola infection are now cleared of the potential of developing the disease. (AP Photo/LM Otero)Dallas City Council has voted to ban an erotica expo from coming again to the city-owned convention center. Last year, this expo featured porn stars, the sale of sex toys, and a whipping dungeon. Despite legal advice and the likelihood of a lawsuit from event organizers, Mayor Rawlings has decided that it is not the in the best interest of the city. Thus, he has turned down their $70,000 and asked them to go elsewhere.

However, questions have surfaced with this latest move. Couldn't we use the $70,0000? What harm is done if they keep it indoors? Isn't this stand doomed to fail because of the First Amendment?

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Should Christians Listen to Secular Music?

Afro music headphones (Credit: Daxiao Productions by Fotolia)A mother's words melt a child's countenance. Mom not only knows best, but she wants the best. So when she offers her solicited or unsolicited advice, she expects her child to listen. "Stop hitting your brother." "Slow down when you eat and put your napkin in your lap." "What did I say?" "Quit slouching."

When my posture is slouched, my gestures are limited. But when my posture is upright, I can extend a greater number of gestures. Gestures are more temporary in nature, whereas postures have more of a permanence. Someone who is slouching in a chair is a type of unwelcome sight. They are not inviting you to a conversation but are positioning themselves for comfortable solitude. In essence, they are either closed off or opened up.

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