I’m Agnostic, and I’m Hoping Pope Francis Comes to Philadelphia

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Let’s get something straight: I know the Pope is Catholic.

This means a few things: I never expect him to adopt the conventional American Liberal positions l hold. There will be no embrace of gay marriage by the church, there will be no permission for abortion, and Pope Francis’s term will not end with the ascension of Pope Mary I. We’re never going to agree on those things. It is what it is.

Still: I find that I’m increasingly a fan of this pope. That’s a bit weird to admit. I grew up among Mennonites who pretty explicitly traced their theological heritage to the Reformation; more recently I’ve simply been agnostic: God’s not really part of my life anymore. Catholicism doesn’t hold much appeal for me, generally. Pope Francis does, however — and so I am rooting for him to visit Philadelphia next year.

Why? His humility. And his attempts to bring the church in line with that quality.

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Six Design Ideas SEPTA Should Steal Now

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A recent article on The Atlantic Cities website made a point that is at once obvious and rarely made: Good design and strong imagery can attract more riders to mass transit.

Call it “branding” if you must, but the point remains: Easy-to-identify symbols and attractive stations and shelters make transit systems easier to spot and more pleasant to use. And a system that’s easier to spot and more pleasant to use will end up with more people using it.

This was the main point of my recent commentary elsewhere on how design does matter in transit, too. In it, I argued that SEPTA could stand improvement in that department, especially on its subway-elevated system and signage. Some readers agreed strongly with that argument, while others disagreed vehemently.

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Exposed: Philly’s Big Banana Peel Problem

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“When I’m walking with friends, they tell me it’s a little awkward for them,” says Frank Danay. “They’re the ones standing next to the guy who’s in the gutter taking pictures.”

Danay’s buddies know better than to compromise the process. He’s simply chronicling another day of potassium-rich existence on the streets of Philadelphia, an apparent national leader in the field of wayward banana peels.

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Hundreds of Cats Being Removed from North Philly Home

Fox 29 reports: “The Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says it’s investigating a hoarding case in North Philadelphia that involves hundreds of cats. Humane law enforcement officers are reported to be removing 260 felines from a property on the 1600 block of Filmore Street. According to PSPCA officials, a warrant was executed to remove the cats from what they’re calling ‘unsanitary confinement.’”

 

Is “Hon” the New “Ma’am”?

“How many do you have, hon?” the sales associate at the Express in Liberty Place asked me last week. The week before that, a young woman on the 13th Street El platform asked, “Hon, can you break a ten?” Before that, it was a former student who thanked me for my feedback on her work and then said, “See you tomorrow, hon!”

For the last year, I’ve been getting “hon”-ed down all over Philadelphia — and not from the usual suspects, but from women who are definitely younger than me. And quite honestly, I’m baffled.

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