NCR Today

Limits to growth


There are limits to growth. The asceticism of religion is an effort to teach ourselves to live within limits. But for all of America's self-proclamation as a nation under God, we are unwilling to accept the notion that there are limits, much less set them and strive to live within them.

There are global limits as well as national ones. But the U.S. is the richest, the most extravagant, always claiming to be No. 1. If only we could be No. 1 in living simply.

Take the current economic crisis. It's a bad situation and may get worse. A temporary fix is to grow ourselves out of it, either the Republican way by letting private enterprise loose to grow business and gain profits, or the Democratic way through a massive infrastructure jobs program and payroll tax cuts, putting money in people's pockets so that they will buy more, grow business and create profits.

It's the wrong answer to the wrong question. Neither greed nor consumer confidence is a virtue. What the political parties don't recognize is that there is plenty of work that needs to be done; but no one is willing to pay for it.

The \"spiritual but not religious\" debate


We all know folks who identify as “spiritual but not religious.” Do you have compassion, tolerance and understanding for their spiritual journeys? Or do you find them immature, shallow and a little bit boring?

A few weeks ago, a United Church of Christ minister, the Rev. Lillian Daniel of Glen Ellyn, Illinois, wrote a blog post entitled “Spiritual But Not Religious? Please Stop Boring Me.” In it, she vents about a recent flight during which a “spiritual but not religious” person tried to enlighten her about how he can find God in sunsets.

“Like people who go to church don't see God in the sunset! Like we are these monastic little hermits who never leave the church building. How lucky we are to have these geniuses inform us that God is in nature. As if we don’t hear that in the psalms, the creation stories and throughout our deep tradition.”

As you can tell, her tone is a bit snide and snarky:

Egypt confronts legacy of religious segregation


tThe German-based relief organization “Aid to the Church in Need” is perhaps the most active, and reliable, international body tracking anti-Christian persecution around the world. Recently one of its officials, Roberto Simona, traveled to Egypt to assess the situation facing Christians after the fall of the Mubarak government.

tThe following is an NCR translation of excerpts from a piece Simona wrote for “Oasis”, a project founded by Cardinal Angelo Scola of Milan, while he was still in Venice, designed to promote Muslim/Christian dialogue and to raise the visibility of the Christian churches of the Middle East.


Morning Briefing


Nicholas P. Cafardi: Advice for new Philly archbishop: Real Catholic agenda is way broader than abortion

Raleigh Catholic diocese plans new cathedral. 2,000-seat cathedral and campus on 39 acres, estimated to cost $75 million to $90 million

South Bend, Ind. Judge blocks city's land deal with Catholic school

Missouri parents sue retired priest, diocese in boy's suicide

$18 million awarded to charities to help those affected by BP oil spill New-Orleans based Catholic Charities one of four nonprofits from "Future of the Gulf Fund"

The Tiffany trickle-down


Congress heads back to, er, "work" this week -- and high on the agenda is what to do about the economy. The battle lines are as dug-in as they are familiar: short-term government spending versus immediate budget cuts.

Over the summer, you'll recall, the president's "grand bargain" over economic policy fell apart on the question of taxes for the top 3 percent or so of income earners. Republicans could not agree to this -- calling such taxes a job-killing burden on a group of people once called "the rich," but now termed "job creators."

This push is a variation on trickle-down economics of the 1980s: if the rich are taxed less they will spend more, and that prosperity will fuel the rest of the country. It makes a kind-of-sense, and yet a look at the numbers shows otherwise.

On this day: Buddy Holly


On this day, 75 years ago, Buddy Holly was born in Lubbock, Texas.

"Buddy Holly played rock and roll for only two short years, but the wealth of material he recorded in that time made a major and lasting impact on popular music. Holly was an innovator who wrote his own material and was among the first to exploit such advanced studio techniques as double-tracking. He pioneered and popularized the now-standard rock-band lineup of two guitars, bass and drums. In his final months, he even began experimenting with orchestration. Holly’s catalog of songs includes such standards of the rock and roll canon as 'Rave On,' 'Peggy Sue,' 'That’ll Be the Day,' 'Oh Boy!' and 'Maybe Baby.'"

--Buddy Holly Biography, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Morning Briefing


Philadelphia Chaput: No place for cafeteria Catholics. "If they don't believe what the church teaches, they're not really Catholic," Chaput told The Associated Press in an interview Tuesday, two days before his installation at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul.

Philadelphia Catholic high school teachers go on strike

Minnesota: Crookston Catholic Diocese Settles Abuse Case

Cleveland TV Reports Tradition Transformed: Catholic Mass Prayers to Change

Cuba Catholic Church Takes the Pulse of Religious Sentiment

Vatican wars


Over the weekend my niece invited family members to join a Facebook word game we could all play. I clicked into "Apps" on my Facebook page and noticed that I had been invited to join more than 50 games, but one really got my attention: Vatican Wars.

It's a "new social game", a fantasy game, where you can become the pope. As a priest and candidate for pope you have to decide what Jesus would say if he were here today based on these issues: abortion, same sex marriage, if priests can marry, birth control and the ordination of women.

I clicked through and saw that I had only two choices: to be a Templar (socially conservative) player or a Crusader (socially liberal). Each team plays together to try to get one of their members elected pope.

Optimism and ideology


New studies show that humans are naturally optimistic -- it's apparently become one of our survival skills as a species. How then to explain the continued whining of ideologically-driven extremists who are always miserable living in the real world? Shouldn't natural selection have culled them from the human herd centuries ago?

My daughter -- a high school senior -- set me down this path a couple of days ago. She was telling me about a discussion in her religion class, centered on research featured in TIME magazine last spring. The article looked at an assembly of studies over the past several years that showed a "bias towards optimism" within the human family.

In fact, even when we are pessimistic about the overall world, we remain upbeat about our own futures. A study in 2007 showed that 70 percent of respondents felt people in general were less successful than in their parents' day -- but also showed that 76 percent of those same respondents were more upbeat about their own futures.


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In This Issue

February 10-23, 2017