Stories I’ve Found, 8/9/2013

Interesting stories I’ve found lately:

Today is the anniversary of our dropping the atomic bomb on Nagasaki. A friend of mine posted this interview with Fr. Geroge B. Zabelka, the priest who blessed the planes that flew to drop the bombs. His perspective is insightful.  I think that it’s important to remember than in war, every decision involves the death of innocents, no matter what the intentions of either side are.

An interesting snapshot of the 4 Jesuits who were in Hiroshima that day.

100 days and 2 kidnapped Syrian Bishops are still missing. This story updates the situation.

Jeffrey Weiss gives us good reflection material in Pope Francis, the Improbable Pop Culture Icon.

David Gibson reports how Pope Francis is Unsettling and Dividing the Catholic Right.  I think a lot of angst on their part is premature, and the biggest change in the past few months is a change of tone, which was very welcome to me. Pope Benedict was probably greatly misrepresented as sympathetic to the rich and powerful. Following up on this, I almost didn’t open this little article, Ten Quotes that Prove the Pope is a Liberal, thinking it to be some kind of hatchet job. However, I’m glad I did and to see what I saw, you must read the ENTIRE article.

Cardinal Braz de Aviz, the prefect of the Vatican’s Council for Religious, gives us some challenging ideas in an interview with an Italian journalist: it has some great quotes.  Here’s one: “When we become Christians at baptism, we acquire a dignity, a unique dignity as sons and daughters of God and as brothers and sisters of one another. This is our dignity. There is no other dignity.” This interview is in two parts: Part 1 and Part 2

The recent appointment of a commissioner for the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate and the limitation placed on celebrating the Extraordinary Form of the Eucharist is being seen as a contradiction of Pope Benedict’s policy on celebrating the Tridentine Mass by Pope Francis. This La Stampa article uncovers the issues behind the decree, and shows there’s much more going on with this troubled community than which Mass they’re celebrating. The directive isn’t a repeal of Benedict’s motu proprio about the Extraordinary Form of the Eucharist, as many think.

Fr. Helmut Schiller, an Austrian priest, just made a speaking tour of the United States, speaking about many of the problems the Catholic Church faces today. Michael Sean Winters gives us a review and critique of Fr. Schiller’s message, and how the speaker’s views may out of synch with the reality of the Faith.

David French explores reasons Millennials are leaving the Church, and what it will take to get them back.  Rachel Held Evans articulates reasons Millennials need the Church, many of which should sound familiar to the rest of us.

This argument over the Presbyterian Church’s dropping the popular Contemporary Christian Hymn “In Christ Alone” is one I’m staying out of, since I quit the Presbyterians over three decades ago and the entire theological landscape of the debate isn’t mine. Bob Smetana of Religion News Service provides a good review of the debate and the quote by Mike Harland at the end is the reason we should examine all our songs and prayers carefully: “The faith of current generations and future generations is shaped by what we say and what we sing. . .That’s why you stress over every word.”

A. Larry Ross has written an excellent overview of the ministry of Billy Graham, perhaps the only mainline Evangelist on the circuit. Billy Graham never compromised his message for politics and reached out to everyone without judgement.

Omid Safi has penned a vital piece on the American Legislative Exchange Council and the series of protests called “Moral Mondays” against it. If you don’t know what ALEC is doing, they’re inventing new laws they think are a good idea, then wining and dining legislators to pass bills they’ve written, such as ‘Stand Your Ground’. Put ALEC on your moral radar, they’ve been working in the shadows for too long.

This post on the CNN Belief Blog outlines some issues facing Muslims during Ramadan who are firefighters and other first responders and how fasting may endanger them.  This article shows also that they’re capable of working out a reasonable solution. The comment by the Muslim chaplain is instructive for any religious practice: “The purpose of the fast is not to place the fasting person in the face of harm, but to teach self-restraint. . .And the moment the fast becomes dangerous, or external conditions place the person in harm’s way, then the fasting person is not only permitted, but in many cases, religiously obligated to break their fast.”

Sobia gives us a very personal account of the difficulty of keeping Ramadan by herself.  I think this is testament that Faith is not exclusively a personal thing, it’s something we need a real community to practice and not a arbitrary bunch of co-religionists. Social connection isn’t more important than Faith, but it plays a vital role in supporting Faith.

Of Dogs and Lizards: A Parable of Privilege is an essay Leah Libresco led me to on the nature of privilege, and how our perceptions vary by who we are and what we are. Differences do matter, and the need to see through the eyes of others is extremely important.

A Cooker and a Looker sounds like an interesting title for a blog, and this article is about basic pastoral care is a good one: Seven Tips for Cooking For The Bereaved.

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