Stories I’ve Found, 5/24/2013

Interesting stories I’ve found lately:

Francis tackles how diversity and unity are complementary.  His Pentecost homily is worth reading. And finally, his reminder that salvation is open to all people of good will, even those who don’t believe in God.

Most people will think this is fiction, but it’s true.  A group of Imams visited Auschwitz and prayed for the Holocaust victims.   We need more of this kind of story and this kind of attitude.

Fr. Peter Daly unpacks an unsavory truth: The Church Has Lost Control of Marriage.  Personally, I would prefer couples to approach the Church when and only when they are ready for the sacrament as the Church defines it, rather than the sentimental feeling they need a “Church Wedding”. The State is going to control marriage anyway, the Church should let it without comment.

Bill Tammeus reviews the recent development of the Prosperity Gospel.  It’s a Gospel that many like, and fills a definite need, but I think it’s generally self centered. You make a deal with God: worship him enthusiastically enough in the right way, and He makes you rich. What about that “Blessed are the poor” quote from Luke’s Gospel?

Support your local Mosque?  Bill led me to this Newsweek story that says, based on the nature of American Mosques and their influence on their communities, we should be encouraging them rather than suppressing them, because they are a force for moderation. The radical content of Islam in the U.S. is practically all on the Internet. Tamarlan Tsarnaev was kicked out of his local Mosque as a troublemaker. Mosques may be hotbeds of radicalism in some countries, but NOT this one.

Is God Going to Incinerate the Earth? And Does It Matter? Jonathan Merritt does an excellent job unpacking the Biblical concept of purifying fire, reminding us that is does not mean destruction, and the problems with the concept: “It’s all going to burn, so why bother?” Great job and well said: read this.

Leah Libresco’s post The Rotten Orange and The Kingslayer explores a very basic human tendency: to label someone by what they’ve done and refuse to change the label no matter how things develop. This type of judgement is an excellent way of denying the humanity of a perceived wrongdoer, whether we’re talking about a young woman who isn’t a virgin, a thief who stole a loaf of bread, or someone who sets off bombs at public events.

Saying a transgressor is still fully human isn’t denying the wrongness of an act, denying there should be consequences for a transgression, or memory of evil should be forgotten. Even in the best case Leah uses as her jumping off point, a young virgin wanting to present herself to her future spouse as a clear refreshing glass of water is turning herself into a commodity, a thing, an object, no matter laudable or moral her intention. Turning a human into any kind of commodity, good or bad, is unjust.

By the way, are we still saying a wife belongs to her husband in a way he doesn’t belong to her? A wife is a possession, a trophy?  If she is, is that a Christian reverence of her God given human dignity?

Leah led me to a great article that asks the question of how we welcome bad news. Do we let it overwhelm us or shut us down? Do we accept it as a path for improvement? Emotionally, it’s tough to keep bad news from shutting us down, both intellectually and spiritually. This isn’t just a great topic from a rational perspective, but deserves some new theological reflection.

A survey by St. John’s School of Theology in Collegeville, MN says that almost 60% of Catholic priests they surveyed do not like the new translation of the Mass introduced in 2011.  This is in opposition to a CARA survey where 7 out of 10 laypeople thought it was a good thing. From my experience, the survey is representative. My opinion on the matter cannot be expressed charitably.

As we approach Memorial Day, Kimberly Wilson shares a study indicating World War II Vets with bad experiences were much more likely to attend church. We’ve been at war for 12 years and PTSD is an epidemic, perhaps more religious caretakers should reach out to our returning troops.


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