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Pope Francis elevates the papacy and Christianity and all of us......

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, November 27, 2013.

This is, of course, traditionally the least listened to commentary of the year. I have thirty odd years of information to prove it. It's just you and me, kid.

Primarily, that's because it's the busiest travel day of the year, and even Boulderites can't jog or bike a thousand miles for turkey with the in laws in only a day. They, like many Americans, surrender to tradition and fly. And this year, I can add to my list of thanks that I'm not going anywhere, surely a mood boost to those who might potentially have shared an airline arm rest with me. Or tried to.

Balancing that community benefit, many of our airlines have topped their previous sadistic greed by making crowded air travel even worse this Thanksgiving. They are again allowing cell phone activity by passengers, something that went away after 9-11 and marking one of the few benefits of that horror. Now again, instead of just being packed into an aluminum tube hurtling through the sky with overweight lard butts, you're packed into an aluminum mass phone booth, listening to the world's fattest and most boring people communicate to their deaf friends. Whether you want to or not. So thankful am I.

Despite an Iranian breakthrough that might mean a nuclear accord to take that threat off the table, and despite a Republican Party that has run out of their most preposterous cover stories for working against our first black President, our media has instead focused on the actual important national day of this weekend, Black Friday. This evergreen template requires the same stories every year, just altering dates, store names, and figures, and is perfect for a media and culture in decline. The charming title is for the day after Thanksgiving when Christmas shopping officially begins. Or something. Given holiday lights have been up since before Halloween, the significance is hard to establish. It is a day of supposed bargains and new product availabilities that wow throngs of increasingly violent and sloppy shoppers each year.

Turns out there IS a War on Christmas, and it's waged - not by dark skinned atheists and their socialist friends - but by the fluffers of capitalism and the job creators, patriots whose companies whose ads run on the very TV and radio shows decrying that War and the decline of traditional values reflected on the programs themselves. If there is a War on Christmas, they need to meet the enemy, for it is themselves.

Pope Francis continues to shock the Catholic Church and large segments of the world in general by being modest and living in a hotel rather than a palace, not wearing red shoes and designer gowns, and being driven around in an economy car. He fired a free spending ostentatious Vatican official, and has upset a great many in power by being, in near every area, Christian. He's compassionate, unafraid, honest, and seemingly bent on overturning the symbolic symbolism of his predecessors. For example, on certain scheduled occasions, the Pope will kneel and cleanse the feet of actual real people with filthy feet rather than the prescreened, prewashed camera ready types of the past.

This week, he embraced a severely diseased and deformed man in public - his body covered in tumors - with no hesitation and no fear. I'm an atheist, but I have no trouble imagining this entirely unexpected hug - it was not a gesture, it was a hug - meant a lot to the poor soul perhaps deprived of medical help and care which, after the publicity, might now arrive. Days later, Pope Francis approached and embraced and prayed with a man who'd lost anything to resemble a human face. The Pope showed no hesitation, no repulsion. I wish I could say the same, I do, but I know I would have recoiled instinctively. This is the sort of thing we can imagine Jesus would do, but I could not imagine the golden crowned popes of recent memory risk doing. I've attached a link on the transcript page to photos so you can judge your own reaction. I'll grant you're a better person than I if you don't shudder a bit.

And this week, Francis came out against the excesses of capitalism and trickle down economics, and exhorted the Christian world to shape up consider the unfortunate. For a change. I'm thankful the Church and Christianity has someone making an effort to be what he is supposed to be, and having the energy of someone well below a man in his eighties. This has to be good news, which is what Gospel means. And we can use some this week.