Why Jesus should sue for trademark infringement

Jesus Facepalm

Dear Pope Francis —

If Jesus had a legal team — and, he probably wouldn’t, given his “turn the other cheek” philosophy, but let’s just assume he did — I think they would be hurriedly drafting cease-and-desist orders against many, many folks for infringing on his trademark. That law office would be churning out paperwork 24/7.

Individuals, companies and organizations trademark names and logos to ensure they are not used by others in a way that would cause either a negative impression or confusion in the marketplace. Using a protected name or logo in a way that dilutes the real owner’s brand is called trademark infringement. In other words, I can’t put computers together with spare parts lying around my house, slap a sticker of an apple with a bite out of it on them, and sell them as Macs. For one, they’re unlikely to work like a Mac. For another, they’re not a true representation of the company’s product.

There is a lot of brand dilution going on out there when it comes to Jesus. Many people claim to be acting in his name, but they likely aren’t his licensed representatives. Or, they haven’t looked at the terms of their licensing contract in a long, long while. If they did, they would find themselves in serious breach of Jesus’ trademark rights.

A few top contenders:

1) The Arizona and Kansas state legislatures. Both of these legislative bodies have recently either contemplated or passed laws that would legalize discrimination against LGBT individuals. (The Catholic Church in Kansas supported that state’s law.) The laws stipulate that businesses have a right, on religious (i.e. Christian) grounds, to refuse service to individuals if doing so would compromise the business owner’s values. This is being done, so lawmakers say, in the spirit of religious freedom. I’m not sure what Bible these folks are reading, but Jesus served everyone during his life. He didn’t care who they were, he treated them all equally and with dignity. Encouraging discrimination in Jesus’ name is definitely trademark infringement.

2) Archbishop Myers of New Jersey. I have nothing against providing a comfortable retirement for clergy. Many of them spend their entire lives in service to the Catholic community. However, comfortable should not mean extravagant, especially when so many of our seniors live in poverty. Jesus’ original followers essentially traveled with a pair of sandals and the clothes on their backs. I’m not sure any of them had a mansion with two pools waiting for them when they retired from spreading the Gospel. I don’t think they would have secluded themselves away from the community they’d served, either. This is certainly a breach of Jesus’ trademark license that anyone who purports to serve him should be following.

3) “Christian” politicians who cut aid to the poor. Many of the politicians decrying aid to the poor as a drain on the economy and government self-identify as Christian. I don’t think I need to add anything else to this. It speaks for itself.

4) Clergy who deny sacraments to people they don’t approve of. Whether it’s politicians who have Pro-Choice voting records, or LGBT individuals denied communion or last rites, sacraments should not be used as weapons. You, Pope Francis, have even spoken out against this practice. Jesus ministered to everyone and welcomed everyone into his embrace. That compassionate welcoming was the first sacrament. Why are we not following this example?

I realize that calling out these examples might be just as judgmental and wrong as those who paint others as bad Christians or bad Catholics. That’s fair. However, I think there is a real danger in this Jesus brand dilution. Jesus said “By their fruits you will recognize them.” I don’t think these folks are bad people. I just think they have a misguided view of what Jesus stood for. That might be fine if their views did not affect others, but they do. And, their actions reflect back on all of us who claim to be followers of Jesus. This is why I find such examples so distressing. I encounter many people who discount — even despise — Christians because these are the examples they see. These “fruits” stand in for all of us, and that’s what upsets me.

This is one of the reasons I’m so grateful for you, Pope Francis. Your focus on the poor as well as compassion puts you in much closer alignment, in my view, with Jesus than many, many of your predecessors.

I think it’s time for all of us to have a closer look at Jesus’ trademark — and make sure we’re not infringing.

(By the way, I wrote a poem about this.)

Your friend,

Kevin

Jan 6, 2014 - Uncategorized    No Comments

Nothing like a new pair of (Papal) socks

Cardinal red Papal socks.

Dear Pope Francis,

Apparently today is Blue Monday, or the most depressing day of the year. I don’t now how this is determined, but I suppose forewarned is forearmed.

Nothing cheers me up more than a nice pair of new socks. So, I was thrilled to come across a site where you can buy, well, your Papal socks! I think I will order a pair in Cardinal red and Bishop purple.

Take that, Blue Monday!

Your friend,

Kevin

 

A poem for the new year by Joyce Rupp

Photo credit: http://morguefile.com/creative/jpkwitter

Photo credit: http://morguefile.com/creative/jpkwitter

Dear Pope Francis,

I was all ready to write my own post on welcoming the new year, and then Joyce Rupp‘s newsletter landed in my email inbox. She says it so perfectly in this poem that I don’t think I could really add anything else.

New Year Prayer of Fastening     (Joyce Rupp)

Fasten my heart to you, Love of all Loves,

that all I am and do finds its motivation in you.

 

Fasten my mind to you, Inner Peace,

that whatever stirs within leads to tranquility.

 

Fasten my days to you, Divine Presence,

that in each happening I remain united with you.

 

Fasten my nights to you, Keeper of Dreams,

that I find restoration in your embracing care.

 

Fasten my joys to you, Delight of My Soul,

that these memories comfort me in times of trouble.

 

Fasten my sorrows to you, Compassionate One,

that I experience solace in your kindheartedness.

 

Fasten my concerns to you, Faithful Companion,

that I withdraw from my fears and anxieties.

 

Fasten my responsibilities to you, Source of Love,

that my daily efforts evolve from a generous spirit.

 

Fasten my relationships to you, Friend of My Heart,

that your profuse love nurtures and sustains them.

 

Fasten my anguished world to you, Holder of Hope,

that my dreams for peace may become a reality.

 

Fasten my prayer to you, Eternal Mystery,

that I might give myself ever more fully to you.

New Year Prayer of Fastening     (Joyce Rupp)

 

Fasten my heart to you, Love of all Loves,

that all I am and do finds its motivation in you.

 

Fasten my mind to you, Inner Peace,

that whatever stirs within leads to tranquility.

 

Fasten my days to you, Divine Presence,

that in each happening I remain united with you.

 

Fasten my nights to you, Keeper of Dreams,

that I find restoration in your embracing care.

 

Fasten my joys to you, Delight of My Soul,

that these memories comfort me in times of trouble.

 

Fasten my sorrows to you, Compassionate One,

that I experience solace in your kindheartedness.

 

Fasten my concerns to you, Faithful Companion,

that I withdraw from my fears and anxieties.

 

Fasten my responsibilities to you, Source of Love,

that my daily efforts evolve from a generous spirit.

 

Fasten my relationships to you, Friend of My Heart,

that your profuse love nurtures and sustains them.

 

Fasten my anguished world to you, Holder of Hope,

that my dreams for peace may become a reality.

 

Fasten my prayer to you, Eternal Mystery,

that I might give myself ever more fully to you.

 

All the best for a great new year.

Your friend,

Kevin

Merry Christmas from some silent monks

Dear Pope Francis,

Thought I’d wish you a Merry Christmas a day early as I won’t be near a computer tomorrow.

Given my search for silence, I thought you’d enjoy this rendition of Handel’s “Messiah” by some silent “monks”.

You can find it here if the above doesn’t play for you.

Merry Christmas.

Your friend,

Kevin

Dec 15, 2013 - Liturgical Seasons    2 Comments

What is an Advent calendar?

Advent calendar

Dear Pope Francis,

I wasn’t sure I’d write this post, mostly because I didn’t want it to be mistaken for yet another “war on Christmas” diatribe. Because those make me extremely uneasy. It’s not that I don’t want to be free to celebrate Christmas and wish others a Merry Christmas, without worrying about offending someone. But, those “war on Christmas” warnings have become yet another politicization of the Sacred, and I’m just not down with that.

But, something has been troubling me this Advent. At the same time as I’ve been focusing on what Advent means to me, I’ve been noticing a peculiar trend: the rise of the Advent-calendar-that’s-not-an-Advent-calendar.

When I was growing up, the waiting time of Advent was made just a little bit more bearable by an Advent calendar hanging on the wall. It usually consisted of one large picture of the Biblical Christmas scene — barn, manger, animals, Mary, Joseph, Wise Men. And, of course, the Baby Jesus in the center of things. Poked into the picture were a series of perforated doors, one for each day of Advent, that you’d open up on the appropriate day to reveal another aspect of the events leading up to Christ’s birth.

If you had siblings, like I did, your parents usually set a schedule for who could open the next door — to mitigate bickering, of course. Nerves were taut enough leading up to Christmas, you didn’t need an argument busting out over who got to reveal that day’s Advent blessing.

As I grew up, there were rumours that other kids had CHOCOLATE behind the doors of their Advent calendars. Some didn’t even have the Christmas story on theirs; there were Star Wars, Looney Tunes, Scooby Doo and all manner of kid-themed Advent calendars. I can’t speak from personal experience about those, though. We were strictly observant in our house when it came to the Advent calendar. I can’t say I wouldn’t have wanted a chocolate Advent calendar, or one focused around the holy adventures of Scooby Doo, but it simply wasn’t going to happen in our house.

In recent years, I haven’t given Advent calendars much thought. I don’t have kids, and so never had the need to seek one out. Then my nephew was born and my sister began her annual fall hunt for a religious Advent calendar. They’re harder to find these days than you might think. Her hunt almost always ends with a plea to my mom to go pick one up from our local Catholic book store and mail it to her. We seem to be the only source of religious Advent calendars.

At the same time, there have been a few Advent calendars showing up that have got me thinking about what we call an Advent calendar. Last year, I came across a distillery selling an Advent calendar where each day had its own small bottle of whiskey to find upon opening a door. This year, a brewery got in on the actthough, to be fair, they called theirs a “Snowcase,” but media articles referred to it as an Advent calendar.

I know several people who bought these, and other similar Advent calendars and are currently enjoying sipping their way through to Christmas. That’s fine with me. Whatever gets you through the dark and drearies.

However, to me, these are not Advent calendars and I kind of wish those selling them would find another name. I know Christmas has gone secular, and it’s not technically a religious holiday for everyone. I get that. No worries.

But, Advent, that’s different. Advent names a specific liturgical season that’s all about waiting for the light, for Christ, to come into the world. When you wait, you get quiet. When you wait, you focus on the lack of something that has yet to happen. When you wait, there’s a slight uneasiness, as if you’re not quite complete. Advent is about living in the tension of that uneasiness, that period of incomplete-ness, so when Jesus is born, you can know the wondrous feeling of being whole. This is Advent. It is a season of quiet yearning. Unlike Lent, you’re not usually abstaining from anything, but, still you’re not engaged in conspicuous consumption, either.

What Advent isn’t, at least not for me, is a time of cracking a cold one to make waiting for Christmas easier. If you are counting down to Christmas and presents and family gatherings and turkey, that’s one thing. I have no problem with a tipple each day pulled from behind a little door.

I’m just not so sure that’s an Advent calendar.

Your friend,

Kevin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dec 13, 2013 - Uncategorized    No Comments

Video for Jim Conlon’s “Sacred Butterflies”

Dear Pope Francis,

I didn’t realize that I never posted a link to the video that Jim Conlon produced to go along with his book “Sacred Butterflies”. It’s a great piece, and does a lot to illustrate what the book is about. It also has a few of my classmates from the Sophia program.

If that player doesn’t work for you, go here.

Your friend,

Kevin

Dec 12, 2013 - Uncategorized    No Comments

Some Jim Conlon reading and listening

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Dear Pope Francis,

There are a couple new things to check out from Jim Conlon.

First, the webcast related to Jim’s new book “Sacred Butterfliess” that I wrote about a month or so ago was recorded and can be found here. (Note, the first 60 seconds of the recording is silence.)

Second, Jim was interviewed by Spiritual Media Blog and the Q&A has now published.

Enjoy!

Your friend,

Kevin

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