NCR Today

New Mass translation a 'significant turning point' in New York

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This article about the new Mass translation appeared in the Nov. 20 edition of the Sunday Gazette in Schenectady, N.Y. It gives some idea of the amount of confusion that may accompany the season of Advent, at least in some places.

Stephen Powers of the Capital District region of Call to Action in upstate New York attempted to clarify some of the issues involved in a reply to the paper:

Report: Religious groups spend millions on advocacy

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Over at Roll Call is an interesting article on the amount of money religious groups spend on lobbying, including the U.S. bishops conference, which spent more than $26 million in 2009.

Religious organizations spend more than $390 million a year on lobbying and advocacy, according to a report released today that identifies pro-Israel groups as the No. 1 spenders.

Also among the top spenders are organizations fighting for or against abortion rights and groups that endorse traditional cultural values, according to the report by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. The report examined direct lobbying to influence legislation and issue-oriented public policy work, offering the first detailed analysis of religious advocacy in two decades.

... The other top spenders in 2008 and 2009, based on the most recently available data, included the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which spent $26.7 million on advocacy in 2009.

Rallying the faithful on matters of the budget

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On Sunday, I journeyed to Lafayette Park, across from the White House, for a rally called by faith leaders (Christian, Jewish and Muslim) to tell Congress and the president not to solve the deficit problem on the backs of those who are poor and most vulnerable. It is called the Faithful Budget Campaign.

The topic is relevant, in the news and important. The weather was surprisingly good. The program was inspiring: readings from the Qu'ran, the Torah and the New Testament, brief and stirring speeches by leaders of all three Abrahamic traditions, and a wonderful song about greed from Bernice Johnson Reagon, one of the founders of "Sweet Honey and the Rock."

The problem was this: There were only about 100 people assembled to hear it and participate. I saw one of my friends from NETWORK there, and I wondered, "Why so few with a topic so important?" She didn't know.

I felt disheartened. I doubt that our friends who champion more conservative or traditional causes would have staged an event without strong organizing to produce a much larger turnout.

Cornel West Chooses the Road Seldom Taken

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Cornel West's decision to leave his tenured faculty position at Princeton to teach at Union Theological Seminary in New York is both a rare act of voluntary down scaling and an act of faith in a branch of Christianity that has been languishing.

It might seem like a small sacrifice, as if he were swapping a Jaguar for a Toyota Camry, but I think it is highly significant within its own framework.

Princeton is the gold standard in terms of prestige and pay, the pedestal most professors would crave to stand upon. Union has its own proud pedigree, of course, as a premier academy whose faculty has included luminaries such as Ray Brown, Paul Tillich and Reinhold Niebuhr, functioning as a theological adjunct to Columbia University across the street.

But the move goes against the creed that we rise to the highest level of money and status that we can attain and do everything possible to stay there.

By moving to Union, West heads down the other road, allowing his heart and spirit to give up some of both. He'll leave behind some perks that only an institution as rich and influential as Princeton can provide and will take a big -- a big -- cut in pay.

Ted Forstmann, Wall Street legend and critic and philanthropist, dies

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From The Associated Press:

Theodore J. Forstmann, a longtime Wall Street financier who was a major player during the wave of corporate takeovers in the 1980s, including the battle for RJR Nabisco in 1988, died Sunday at the age of 71.

The cause was brain cancer, according to a statement from sports marketing giant IMG, where Forstmann served as chairman and CEO.

A pioneer of the buyout business, celebrity bachelor and free market proselytizer, Forstmann cut the figure of a swashbuckling risk taker. But in buying companies, he tended to be more careful and conservative than did rivals. Famously, he backed down from buying RJR Nabisco in the late 80s when the price got too high. His instincts turned out right. The winner, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, struggled for years to wring profits from the company.

In 1988, Forstmann made clear his distaste for deal making greased by junk bonds. The AP quoted him as saying "Today's financial age has become a period of unbridled excess with accepted risk soaring out of proportion to possible reward."

A way to chart military spending

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Last year, the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, we, the United States, spent one trillion, one hundred billion dollars on the military.

Actually it was more, $1,100,446,000,000. The $446 million was just too long to spell out.

My source is American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). Their analysis of the US budget can be found on the website oneminuteforpeace.org.

AFSC had developed an amazing graphic, a yardlong strip of paper dividing up the president's 2012 discretionary budget, the parts that must be voted on each year. Sixty percent of the budget is allocated to the military. Last year it was 58 percent.

Sixty percent. The strip of paper has six folds. You keep opening it and all you see is red for the first three and a half folds. Everything else is squished onto the end of the strip -- health and human services; education; aid to states; housing and urban development; justice; agriculture; NASA; energy; labor; treasury; interior; and more.

Roberta, the sister I live with, looked at the strip and said, "Interior. Is that where the parks are? One percent!"

A further word on \"Obama's Choice\"

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As much as I’ve recently voiced skepticism over the bishops’ new “religious liberty” initiative, I also think colleague Michael Sean Winters has put it as plainly as possible that the Obama administration has a significant choice to make, and if it goes the wrong way it could be costly in the Catholic world.

By way of the new and vaunted “religious liberty” effort, I think it is a thinly disguised – and potentially very costly in multiple ways -- effort to reclaim the credibility that has profusely leaked in recent decades from the episcopal culture. The point to be made in that instance is that the bishops are receiving a great deal of the pushback from Catholic politicians and the Catholic public. The problem is that the bishops have not made a persuasive case in the sex and gender issues they find most disturbing. And while they may point to relativism, secularism, a hyper-sexed society and whatever other ills they perceive lurking about, the fact o f the matter is they have mostly themselves to blame for their decreased standing in the general culture.

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July 14-27, 2017

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