Terry Firma, though born and Journalism-school-educated in Europe, has lived in the U.S. for the past 20-odd years. Stateside, his feature articles have been published in the New York Times, Reason, Rolling Stone, Playboy, and Wired. Terry was the founder and Main Mischief Maker of Moral Compass, a now-dormant site that pokes fun at the delusional claim by people of faith that a belief in God equips them with superior moral standards. He was the Editor-in-Chief of two Manhattan-based magazines until he decided to give up commercial publishing for professional photography... with a lot of blogging on the side. These days, he lives in an old seaside farmhouse in Maine with his wife, three kids, and two big dogs.
Twenty years ago, shock washed over Ireland. After the Catholic Church sold a parcel of a North Dublin convent’s grounds to a commercial developer, and the construction dig began, 155 bodies were discovered in unmarked graves. The place had been a Magdalene asylum for “wayward girls.” Apparently, inmates who met an early end had been buried in secret — many without a death certificate, without notification of parents or other family, and all without the dignity of even the simplest grave marker. Initially conceived as rehabilitation centers for prostitutes, the Magdalene asylums — also known as the Magdalene Laundries for the “women’s work” slave labor expected of the inhabitants — eventually grew into houses of horror. The girls, some not even teens, were forced to work seven days a week, without pay. The short-term treatment intended by the founders eventually gave way to long-term incarceration. Though conditions varied from one asylum to the next, a strict code of silence was in place for most of the day throughout the Magdalene system. Long prayer sessions were mandatory. Worse, for over a hundred years, beatings and sexual abuse are thought to have been endemic. [Click headline for more…] Read more
Come for the animatronic dinosaurs, stay for the zip-lines! That seems to be the new message of Kentucky’s Creation Museum. In an effort to stanch the, um, exodus of visitors, museum officials have installed more than two miles of zip-lines and “sky bridges” outside the building. They acknowledge that these have nothing to do with the Creation fable, but maintain that the add-ons don’t change the core message in the slightest. [Click headline for more…] Read more
Since the long-gone days of the Burma-Shave billboard, the art of putting up ever-changing public messages on roadside signs has been largely left to churches. Church signs frequently display aphorisms, quotes, and announcements, and some of them can be pretty funny. I can’t help reading them whenever I pass by. But why give churches the monopoly on entertaining signs? What’s preventing you or me from putting up a sign with our message of the day? That’s what Ayden Byle thought. A couple of months ago, he was a newcomer to Toronto’s Cedarvale neighborhood. He didn’t know anyone there. But he made friends quickly after he got noticed by a lot of people who walked or drove by his house. It was because of his sign. [Click headline for more…] Read more
Austrian priest Helmut Schüller is an Unruhestifter — a troublemaker, but the kind you have to admire. He’s trying to reform the deeply ossified Catholic Church with his Call to Disobedience, leading a movement that … recognizes the Holy Spirit among the laity and calls for inclusive and transparent changes to Church governance, including women, LGBT persons, and married priests. He also wants the Mother Church to relax its stand against divorce. [Click headline for more…] Read more