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State of the Debate
George Pyle
George Pyle has been a newspaper writer in Kansas, Utah, Upstate New York, and now Utah again, for more than 30 years - most of it as an editorial writer and columnist. Now on his second tour of duty on The Salt Lake Tribune Editorial Board, he has also done a stretch as a talk radio host, published a book on the ongoing flaws of U.S.agricultural policy and, in 1998, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing. His most active bookmarks are Andrew Sullivan, Christopher Hitchens and Tina Brown. And he still thinks the Internet can be used for intelligent conversation and uplifting ideas.

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Speaking truth to power, harder when you are power ...

Pundits around the world the last few days have been writing about the pope, and his controversial statements suggesting that people are more important than dogma — religious or economic.

It is possible that the ending to my contribution:

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Religion provides a good excuse for being good. Or bad — George Pyle | The Salt Lake Tribune

"... In Utah, more than 100 religious leaders of almost all stripes have joined in making a statement similar to the pope’s. A full-page ad in the Nov. 20 Tribune and Deseret News called upon Gov. Gary Herbert to go ahead with the full expansion of Medicaid that is federally funded — but, thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court’s baby-splitting ruling, not required — for each state. ...

"... I said religions of ‘almost all stripes’ signed the statement because the leadership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was conspicuous by its absence. ...

"... That was likely not so much disagreement as it was the commendable LDS preference to at least appear not to be directly involved in politics.

"That’s the problem with being the dominant faith in any political subdivision. It is hard to do the main thing that makes religion worth having — speaking truth to power — when you are power."

would have been a little different if, before writing it, I had read this:

Mormon bishop goes ‘homeless’ to teach lesson of compassion — Janelle Stecklein | The Salt Lake Tribune

Or maybe not.

Some other commentary about religion and the real world, inspired by the recent writings of the new pope:

Francis speaks to disaffected Catholics — Bill Keller | The New York Times

"... Enter the new pope, Francis, who has heartened many progressive Catholics and infuriated many Catholic conservatives by suggesting that Jesus did not intend to establish a legion of scolds. ..."

The pope and the right — Ross Douthat | The New York Times

"... for Catholics who pride themselves on fidelity to Rome, the burden is on them - on us - to explain why a worldview that inspires left-leaning papal rhetoric also allows for right-of-center conclusions. ..."

The heart of Francis’ mission — E.J. Dionne | The Washington Post

"... Pope Francis has surprised the world because he embraces the Christian calling to destabilize and to challenge. As the first leader of the Catholic Church from the Southern Hemisphere, he is especially mindful of the ways in which unregulated capitalism has failed the poor and left them "waiting." ..."

— The Pope And The American Right — Andrew Sullivan | The Dish

" ... the way in which market capitalism has become a good in itself on the American right is, well, perniciously wrong. As soon as a system ceases to be a means to a human good, and becomes an end in itself, it has become a false idol. ..."

— Smitten with Pope Francis — Dottie Lamm | The Denver Post

"... I will continue to protest against some of the church dogma that I think does harm to people, especially women. Yet, how can one rail against a pope who, dwelling near Vatican splendor, comes across less like a pontiff and more like a servant of the world? Who lives in a small apartment in San Marco rather than the traditional and spacious Papal suite in the Apostolic Palace? Who walks, or drives a modest car, while bishops and cardinals pass him by in limousines? ..."

Pope Provokes Free-Market Freakout — AlterNet

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