Thanks, But I Don’t Need the Pope to Forgive My Abortion


By the time I graduated from college in 1978, almost every one of my women friends had had an abortion. The circumstances in each case were different, but the choice we made was the same. I’ve written before about telling my pro-life daughter about my choice years later. I did so because the climate in this country had become so profoundly anti-choice—because male legislators and activists were doing their damnedest to outlaw my decision, and were burning down clinics and murdering doctors who provided this health service—a health service, by the way, that the Supreme Court has deemed perfectly legal—to women like me.

Now here comes Pope Francis, declaring in a letter on Tuesday that the “tragedy of abortion” is “an existential and moral ordeal,” and pitying the “many women who bear in their heart the scar of this agonizing and painful decision.” He even instructed priests to offer forgiveness to women who have had abortions.

To which I say, with the utmost respect: No thanks, Your Holiness. Read more »

They Believed What? Eight Philly Religious Fanatics


Photo illustration by Alyse Moyer. Source images via Shutterstock and Jeff Fusco for Visit Philadelphia

For all the mountains of fuss being made over Pope Francis’s impending visit, you’d think we’d never seen a holy man hereabouts. Not true! Pennsylvania was founded as a haven for heretics, so it shouldn’t be surprising that its major city has been home to some curious religious figures in its 333 (oooh, that’s half of 666!) years of history. Here are eight of the most intriguing local believers — and what they’ve believed. Read more »

Eight Great College Football Games to See (in Person) This Fall

Football is under siege — from parents, doctors, academics, a Kennedy, even from Buzz Bissinger, the guy who wrote the definitive book on football, Friday Night Lights. This makes us sad. Football is a wonderful game perfectly suited to the American spirit, and we’d miss it if it went away. We love us some Eagles, but for true passion — from guys who aren’t making millions a year to take the field — you can’t beat college football. Here are eight upcoming games featuring local college teams that should offer lots of rivalry, fun and excitement, not to mention cheerleaders and marching bands. Catch as many as you can — while you can. Read more »

Caitlyn Jenner, Rachel Levine, and the “Joys” of Womanhood

Illustration by Juliette Borda

Illustration by Juliette Borda

“It’s called a ‘lob,’” my daughter Marcy says a little shyly, turning to model 360 degrees of her new haircut. “For ‘long bob,’ you know?” She faces me again. “What do you think?”

“It’s beautiful,” I tell her, hiding my shock at seeing her shorn of her long hair for the first time since she was — well, since she was a toddler, a quarter of a century ago. But the new ’do does suit her, framing her cheek in a swooping curve.

“I’m going back to get highlights next paycheck. They cost a hundred dollars. Just the cut was $80.” My thrifty girl sounds both amazed at and ashamed of her cosmetic and financial daring. No wonder. I’ve never spent anything like that much money on my hair. Read more »

What Does Alice Goffman Have in Common With Rachel Dolezal?


When last we heard of Alice Goffman, the Penn alum whose undergrad field project became the renowned (and controversial) ethnography On the Run, she was dealing with charges that her book’s account of the years she spent immersed in a poor black Philadelphia neighborhood was something less than truthful. That flurry died down, only to be reignited by a long article in the Chronicle of Higher Education this week by Paul Campos, a law professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Prior critiques of Goffman focused on her methodology and veracity, and while Campos addresses those, it’s another facet of his argument against the young white sociologist that will ring particularly true for Philadelphians.

Here’s a passage from On the Run in which Goffman describes her reaction upon arriving at Princeton for grad school after her harrowing years in the ’hood:

More than discomfort and awkwardness, I feared the hordes of white people. They crowded around me and moved in groups. I skipped the graduate college’s orientation to avoid what I expected would be large numbers of white people gathered together in a small space. In cafeterias and libraries and bus and train stations, I’d search for the few Black people present and sit near them, feeling my heart slow down and my shoulders relax after I did.

And here’s Campos’s response to that: Read more »

Daily Pennsylvanian Finally Tracks Down Dude Who Remembers Trump at Wharton

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gestures during the first Republican presidential debate at the Quicken Loans Arena Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/John Minchillo) URN:23754236

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gestures during the first Republican presidential debate at the Quicken Loans Arena Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/John Minchillo) URN:23754236

Donald Trump may be making serious hay out of his Wharton degree on the campaign trail — he’s even leading the GOP in Pennsylvania, we found out today — but intrepid reporters from such august publications as the Washington Post, Fortune, Salon and the New York Daily News have found few classmates who have anything more than the haziest of recollections of him during his two years there. (He started out at Fordham, but who’d cite Fordham in a presidential campaign?)

Never fear, though: Penn’s student newspaper, the Daily Pennsylvanian, has managed to find a person who not only knew Trump in his Wharton years, but actually had lunch with him a few times. Granted, the DP had to ask 13 former Trump classmates before landing on fellow 1968 grad Ted Sachs, a retired consultant from Lake Forest, Illinois, but its reporters did prevail. Read more »

Local Schools Make Newsweek List of Top 500 in Nation

Newsweek just released its latest list of the Top 500 high schools in the nation, along with a new “Beating the Odds” list of schools that do a good job of preparing students for college while “overcoming the obstacles posed by students at an economic disadvantage.” Five local schools made the latter list: Charter School of Wilmington, 85th, Lower Merion High School, ranked 167th; Wissahickon Senior High School, 284th, and Multicultural Charter School, 289th, and Franklin Learning Center, 306th, both of which are in Philadelphia. Wilmington, Lower Merion and Wissahickon each earned a special “star” indicating that they help low-income students score at or above average on state assessments.

Local schools appearing on the general Top 500 High Schools list are:  Read more »

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