Stories I’ve Found, 2/21/2014

Interesting Stories I’ve Found:

A song for peace: the story of the Jerusalem YMCA choir, where young Palestinians and Israelis come together to make music.  What an inspiration! Would that more such choirs existed around the world.

The Japanese Catholic Bishops have made a public report in response to the Vatican survey on family matters.  It’s blunt and to the point, and says particularly the European mindset of the Church doesn’t fit Asian realities.

More Bishops of Bling? Archbishop Myers of Newark, NJ is building a 500k addition to his retirement residence, which he expects to use in a couple of years. Other similar prelates are mentioned as well, with some reaction from the faithful.

By the numbers: the Pew Research Center tracks the data on whether the Federal Minimum Wage has been able to lift people out of poverty.  Since there are many different markers for poverty, the answer depends on many things. Michael Sean Winters gives us an interesting perspective from his experience as a former restaurant owner.  One of his comments is delightfully snarky: “They believe that government can’t really stimulate the economy, except when it comes to military spending in GOP districts.“

The Dalai Lama was invited to speak about Capitalism at the American Enterprise Institute. He came and spoke. You can see the effect of his talk for yourself about his presentation, but it wasn’t what his sponsors hoped for.

Jim Wallis of Sojourners gives us his thoughts on “Stand Your Ground” laws. This was generated by a shooting of a black youth by a white male adult who complained initially about the volume of the youth’s music. E.J. Dionne of The Washington Post continues the commentary, starting with: “The law is supposed to solve problems, not create them.”  For me, the issue of multiplying firearms in public brings a horrible temptation, similar to an old saying: “To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” The price of giving into this temptation in a questionable case is a human life, which is too high.

This is an incredible story of a gay Catholic man denied the Sacrament of the Sick in danger of death not only by a Catholic hospital chaplain but also a priest from the parish he regularly attended. I was taught precepts such as “no one dies an unrepentant sinner”, “in danger of death, you do it no matter what”, and I imagine anyone on the brink of seeing Christ face to face will have considered the consequences of receiving the sacrament, and the immanent punishment if they receive it wrongly. The last Canon, number 1752, says: “. . .the salvation of souls, which must always be the supreme law in the Church, is to be kept before one’s eyes.” I don’t see how the supreme law was followed here. My view is that if Richard Dawkins was in danger of death and for some reason asked for the sacrament, I’d give it to him without delay. God will sort things out.

The work of a social critic who passed away 20 years ago: Christopher Lasch.  His work laid out a different narrative for American history, one that held up the advances of liberalism in the past 125 years as failure, and did not fuel conservative creeds either. It was based on the supreme value of family and small community. I shall have to read his work sometime..

Vicky Schieber, the mother of a murder victim, wrote a faith-based book against the Death Penalty.  Her story is a provocative one.

This article gives us a little realized fact about marriage: the love match wasn’t the norm before the 19th century in Western culture.  There’s a great observation: being independent and free find love and get hitched is the easy part; making marriage last by creating a satisfying partnership is the tough part.

Three retrospectives of Pope Benedict’s papacy one year after his resignation announcement. Michael Sean Winters, John Gehring , and Fr. Thomas Reese, SJ weigh in. Fr. Reese’s balanced perspective is illuminating, particularly since Cardinal Ratzinger ordered his dismissal as the editor of America magazine.

George Weigel offers some interesting thoughts on the relationship between the Vatican and the United Nations. I agree that the Church shouldn’t approach International politics with the mindset of the old Papal States.

The reality show preacher Jamie Coots died recently after being bit by a rattlesnake he was handling during a service. This commentary says his theology wasn’t necessarily crazy, and observes that any of the main religions of the world seem crazy to an outsider. Laura Turner gives us more information about snake handling you wouldn’t see on a reality show.

Pope Francis has simple advice for those who haven’t gone to confession lately: Go, don’t wait.  Robert Christian of Millennial Journal expands theme with his post.  Pope Francis also calls for an “intelligent, courageous, loving” approach to families.  In a remarkable story, he speaks of his longing for Christian unity.

This little piece sets up the upcoming meetings in Rome of the cardinals with the Pope.

Millenial Journal shares a fascinating panel discussion from Georgetown: Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life, featuring Kerry Robinson, John Allen, and Ross Douhat.  From the summary points, I’m going to need to make time to watch this.

A Jesuit writes on The Beauty of Breastfeeding.  His experience in Ecuador has shown him a different societal attitude that’s illuminating.

Christian Churches have become a refuge for persecuted Muslims in the Central African Republic.  Amen, brothers and sisters! The violence there is under our radar, and we should pay more attention to what’s going on.

The UAE Imams issued a fatwa against one-way travel to Mars.  Did they really have to?  In the act of saying this, they reaffirmed traditional Muslim teaching that suicide is a sin in Islam because each human life is so valuable.

Johnathan Merritt tells us How iTunes Radio Is Bad For Your Soul. Personal noise pollution is a huge problem, and life doesn’t need a constant soundtrack. One Lent I gave up listening to music just to fill space, and only listened to music deliberately, giving it my full attention when I did. Since then, I’ve generally kept doing that and the silence has been liberating. There are times we need to listen to the sounds of silence.

e.e. Cummings is one of my favorite poets, and this setting of his poem “I Thank You God” is lovely.  I particularly love this HuffPost Religion entry which shared the original poem.


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