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\"Seven Days in Utopia\": Gentle but uneven film barely makes par


Texan Luke Chisholm (Lucas Black) is an amateur golf champion who is on the brink of turning pro. His dad Martin (Joseph Lyle Taylor) is his life-long trainer and caddie. Martin stomps off when Luke ignores his advice and loses the game and his chance at getting a place on the pro golf tour.

Luke has an angry meltdown and goes his own way. He runs his car off the road in to avoid hitting a bull and discovers he is in the tiny town of Utopia. A rancher, Johnny (Robert Duvall) comes to his aid and brings him to the town diner where he meets Sarah (Deborah Ann Woll) and her mom Lily (Melissa Leo) at the diner; they all think of Johnny as a kind uncle. Sarah's sometimes-boyfriend Jake (Brian Geraghty) is immediately jealous of Luke.

Johnny invites Luke to his ranch bed-and-breakfast to be tended to by the rather peculiar manager (played by an uncredited Kathy Baker).

Johnny, a retired pro golfer, senses that Luke is on the verge of giving up golf or worse. He invites the young man to stay for a week, promising that in seven days he will change Luke's game.

The price of 9/11


Joseph E. Stiglitz, a University Professor at Columbia University, a Nobel laureate in economics, and the author of Freefall: Free Markets and the Sinking of the Global Economy, writes over at the Project Syndicate Web site a detailed and stinging column on the human and economic costs of 9/11.

Here are the opening paragraphs:

The September 11, 2001, terror attacks by Al Qaeda were meant to harm the United States, and they did, but in ways that Osama bin Laden probably never imagined. President George W. Bush’s response to the attacks compromised America’s basic principles, undermined its economy, and weakened its security.

The attack on Afghanistan that followed the 9/11 attacks was understandable, but the subsequent invasion of Iraq was entirely unconnected to Al Qaeda – as much as Bush tried to establish a link. That war of choice quickly became very expensive – orders of magnitude beyond the $60 billion claimed at the beginning – as colossal incompetence met dishonest misrepresentation.

Defend government


There’s an email flying through the Internet that starts by describing how quickly the constitutional amendment for the 18 year old vote passed Congress and the state legislatures.

Then the email proposes a new amendment to abolish Congressional tenure and pensions. There would be term limits and only Social Security to retire on. It calls for the same health insurance other Americans have. And it says, let’s demand passage right now.

Oh, dear. This is a set of bad ideas.

I am in great admiration of almost all of the men and women who commit their lives to government service. I disagree with most of them most of the time. But I admire them. They’ve taken a pay cut to run for office, they get an enormous amount of criticism, and they have to compromise and collaborate to get anything done.

It takes time to learn the legislative ropes. We have had term limits in Missouri since 1996, and now there is no one in the state legislature with an institutional memory. Every year they pass bills that contradict old legislation and have to be corrected the next year.

Worse, most of the legislation is written by lobbyists. The new legislators don't know how to write a bill.

Morning Briefing


Report: KC diocese 'jeopardized safety of children'

In a pastoral letter, Archbishop Moras Archbishop Bernard Moras of Bangalore, India, urged people to join hands to dialogue and work towards making India and the church free of corruption.

Scotland Embracing the new Missal. Bishop Toal and Archbishop Conti speak of the challenge and necessity of the new translation

Philippines Aquino sisters say naming of street for Cardinal Sin long overdue

Austria Austrian abbots say Schönborn alone cannot prevent schism in Church

Catholic donation to Episcopal cathedral


In a gesture of marvelous ecumenical solidarity, the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington has donated $25,000 to the Washington National Cathedral (which is Episcopal) to help repair the damage done by the earthquake in late August.

In sending the gift, Cardinal Donald Wuerl said, "It was with both shock and sadness that I learned of the damage sustained by Washington National Cathedral. The National Cathedral holds a special place in the hearts of all of us in Washington. So many recognize it as a national house of prayer, and indeed its magnificent Gothic towers are a reminder of our constant need to raise our hearts in prayer to God in the midst of all of our daily preoccupations."

Cathedral Dean Samuel T. Lloyd III responded, "This gift from the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington is a testimony to the fellowship that exists between people of different faiths; it makes clear the bond we share…" Repairs are expected to run into millions of dollars.

Church uses fake bulletin items to improve Sunday dress


Some parishes are resorting to imaginative ways to convince Mass goers to dress more appropriately, especially on warm summer Sundays.

So it is that a deacon at a New York City parish has begun planting fake items in the parish bulletin to catch parishioners' attention.

"Somewhere along the way, we went from neckties to tank tops," said Rev. Greg Kandra, "and it's getting worse."

Kendra, who was a CBS news writer for 26 years, obviously has experience in getting people to take notice.

Read the full story here.

New York's Cardinal Edward Egan reflects on 9/11


According to an Associated Press story:

Cardinal Edward Egan was eating breakfast when then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani called to say there was a tragedy and the churchman was needed. A police car would soon be outside the chancery to take the leader of New York's Roman Catholics downtown.

Egan didn't know exactly what had happened in lower Manhattan that morning as he and his priest-secretary hurtled through the city. He couldn't decipher the crackle of the police radio and didn't have access to news. Giuliani first said he was sending Egan to provide support at a makeshift morgue on the city piers, then redirected the cardinal to St. Vincent's Hospital, so he could tend the injured.

Morning Briefing


$60 billion in military spending waste


One wonders: will the anti-government conservatives rail against the colossal waste in the U.S. Department of Defense (as reported by the Commission on Wartime Contracting)? Doubtful.

Most often the argument against the federal government is focused on Social Security and Medicaid/Medicare, never about the military. I cannot recall a single conversation whereby the anti-government advocate was ever indignant about waste in the military.

From the Associated Press:

"As much as $60 billion in U.S. funds has been lost to waste and fraud in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade through lax oversight of contractors, poor planning and payoffs to warlords and insurgents, an independent panel investigating U.S. wartime spending estimates.

What if you were president?


My fellow blogger Maureen Fiedler mentions today that The New York Times invited twelve prominent people to say what they would do as president.

Among them was Sr. Mary David Walgenbac, prioress of the Holy Wisdom Monastery of Middleton, Wisc.

It makes me want to write a statement too, but Sr. Mary David says it well, and you read my ideas all the time.

What would you do if you were president? You read what I write. I’m eager to give you a forum to express your vision.


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In This Issue

October 21-November 3, 2016

  • Reformation's anniversary brings commemorations, reconsiderations
  • Picks further diversify College of Cardinals
  • Editorial: One-issue obsession imperils credibility
  • Special Section [Print Only]: SAINTS