Wednesday, March 20, 2013

SPLIT DECISION: Parker says Pope won’t impact Catholics’ daily lives

So, a coworker told me the other day: “Hey, there’s one thing I won’t talk about at work.”
A pause preceded his answer.
If you can’t talk about religion at work, then it’s really not worth having the discussion anywhere else. A discussion about the Mets starting rotation or how bad the Yankees will be this season could cause a ruckus.
Religion and this week’s topic regarding the significance of Pope Francis, formerly known as Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, seems tame enough.
Truthfully, I did not understand the hysteria regarding a new pope, although it’s pretty cool the way they use white smoke regarding a successor.
I don’t understand how one person impacts your ordinary Catholic’s life. He sounded wonderfully interested in helping the poor, but does his generosity translate to Catholics opening their wallets?
Should Trenton’s Catholic Diocese expect a windfall based on Pope Francis’ philanthropic direction?
A report detailed that Cardinal Bergoglio once used public transportation instead of a chauffeured limousine, cooked his own meals, stayed not in the bishop’s palace but in an apartment.
I don’t know if it’s possible to do Pope on the cheap, so to speak.
At some point, Pope Francis will speak on abortion, same-sex marriage, or contraception. His positions as an archbishop on these subjects are already known, but once spoken, will his thoughts change behavior, convince Catholics to spare contraception in place of a spoiled child.
“We should commit ourselves to ‘eucharistic coherence,’ that is, we should be conscious that people cannot receive holy communion and at the same time act or speak against the commandments, in particular when abortion, euthanasia, and other serious crimes against life and family are facilitated. The responsibility applies particularly to legislators, governors and health professionals,” Bergoglio communicated in 2007.
A CNN survey alleged that 75 percent of polled Catholics said they will more likely make their own decisions on moral questions than to follow Pope Francis’ teachings.
Hmmmmm. Sounds as if Catholics move toward an establishment of their own beliefs, a situation that exists in many other religious circles.
Essentially, Catholics celebrated a new leader but commit toward a self indulgent path for their lives.
If religion continues to conform to human behavior rather than maintain order, especially regarding Christ’s teachings, then this world will yield to destruction.
So, is Pope Francis relevantly important? Only if Catholics follow his lead. Which appears doubtful. Then no.
— L.A. Parker is a Trentonian columnist. He can be reached at


SPLIT DECISION: Edelstein says the Pope still matters

I’m just naive enough to believe. Not in matters of faith, but in matters of the here and now.
And that’s why I’m just naive enough to believe the Pope still matters in this fractured age, just naive to believe one man can move a billion (or more) to be better people, just naive enough to believe Pope Francis matters.
Of course — has to be said — Jews and Catholics don’t have the best historical record, but I’m not concerned about the past. The past doesn’t get the benefit of being seen through my naive glasses. But the here and now? I’m down, baby. And I think given the right set of circumstances — and the right Pope — a better world is within reach.
The Pope, in short, can matter. A lot. After all, there are 1.2 billion Catholics in the world. We’re talking nearly 20 percent of all humanity. And the Pope is in charge. To use the parlance of our times, he’s da man. As the Pope goes, so goes the religion.
And Pope Francis seems to be going the right way.
“How I would like a church,” he said last week, “that is poor and is for the poor.”
He’s already walking the walk — literally — as he’s eschewed his predecessor’s red shoes for some old black shoes, doesn’t seem interested in wearing anything but a simple crucifix, and his headgear is of the pared-down aesthetic.
He’s the Pope, unplugged.
And so this where the Pope matters. He matters because he has the earthly power to try and make the world a better place. When you’ve got 1.2 billion people behind you, a lot of good can come of that.
And yes, the Catholic Church has many scars and open wounds right now, and I’m not attempting to sweep any of that under the rug.
All I’m saying is at the right place and right time, the Pope can wield an impressive amount of power. And a truly humble Pope, a Pope who is one of the people, a Pope who genuinely seems concerned with the state of day-to-day affairs of the common man? Well, that’s a power I can get behind.
At least I’m naive enough to believe so.
— Read Jeff Edelstein every Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. He can be reached at, and


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Who won this week's Split Decision?


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

SPLIT DECISION: Mrs. Christie's Hurricane Sandy charity

In this weekly feature, found first in the print edition of The Trentonian every Wednesday, our two heavyweight columnists, L.A. Parker and Jeff Edelstein will square off against one another, with dueling columns on the same topic.

In the lead-up to each Split Decision, our writers agree on a topic then head off to their respective corners to pen their pieces. Then, each Wednesday, you'll get two unique takes on the same subject.

In this round of Split Decision, L.A. and Jeff stake out their positions on the situation that's arisen around Gov. Chris Christie's wife's charity for victims of Hurricane Sandy.

Check out L.A.'s piece here and take a look at Jeff's over here, and tomorrow we'll be launching a poll to see who you thought had the right idea on the subject.

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SPLIT DECISION: Edelstein says back off of Mary Pat on Sandy relief

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and the Jersey Shore isn’t being rebuilt in a single season.
It’s going to take years for the Superstorm Sandy-ravaged land to once again resemble what it once was, years for the victims of Sandy to recapture their lives on the once-idyllic coastline.
This is not a slam-bang project.
Money and support for the rebuilding project is needed now, tomorrow and well into the future.
And that’s why I think anyone who has issue with Mary Pat Christie’s Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund should just take a step back.
Read more »


SPLIT DECISION: Parker says no more Mary ‘Standing’ Pat

Gov. Chris Christie reminds me a lot of my father.
No nonsense, Straight shooter. Bully.
Willie Lee Parker had a strong-arm approach to life as leader of his Winslow family household: “Do as I say, not as I do.”
So, it’s not surprising to see Gov. Christie doublecross on this dustup regarding delay in disbursing $32 million in donations to victims of Hurricane Sandy from a charity run by his wife.
First, this is the governor’s wife. I like the fact that he defends and supports his family. More husbands should follow Mr. Christie’s lead on being there when family members need rescue from a print journalist’s enlightening report.
Read more »


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Split Decision: A Look ahead

Tomorrow will see the coming of another Split Decision day.

Trentonian columnists L.A. Parker and Jeff Edelstein will face off in seperate columns on the same subject. You can find it first in our print edition Wednesday morning, and we'll have it here later in the day.
So what will they be writing about this week?
This time out they're taking on the topic of the snafu surrounding Gov. Chris Christie's wife's charity for victims of Hurricane Sandy.
What will their takes on the subject be? Check it out in the Trentonian or right here on our Split Decision page.