NCR Today

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.

Think of this as \"Labor Week\"


It all started Sunday evening at a BBQ at my home with Loretto friends and neighbors. It was the day before Labor Day, and we closed the evening by singing some old songs from the labor movement like "Bread and Roses" and "Solidarity Forever."

As I sang the words, I knew they were from another era, and yet eerily contemporary at the same time. From "Bread and Roses:"

Our lives shall not be sweated from birth until life closes;
tHearts starve as well as bodies; give us bread, but give us roses.

I thought of women in sweatshops at the turn of the century (and the suffragists who used this song too), but I also thought about the women who toil at two or three jobs today just to support themselves and their children. Where are the "roses" in their lives?

On this day: Edwin Vincent O'Hara


On this day in 1881, Edwin Vincent O'Hara was born to Owen and Margaret O'Hara on their farm near Lanesboro, Minnesota, the last of their eight children.

"All the O'Hara children shared the difficult work involved in operating a rural homestead. This, no doubt, helped to forge Edwin's work ethic, which enabled him to accomplish many great things for the nation and the church."

--Cultivating Soil and Soul: Twentieth-Century Catholic Agrarians Embrace the Liturgical Movement, by Michael J. Woods, SJ, Liturgical Press, 2010, page 2.

Morning Briefing


\"Game Time: Tackling the Past\" NBC Family Movie Night, Sept. 3


The latest TV movie from the NBC-Walmart-Proctor & Gamble family friendly triad airs this Saturday, Sept. 3, at 8/7c on NBC: "Game Time: Tackling the Past".

It's a football movie starring Catherine Hicks and Beau Bridges as the parents whose oldest son Jake (Ryan McPartlin) is a pro football player. While his achievements on the field have brought him near a place in the Hall of Fame, his career and ambition have kept him from his family for 15 years. When his dad has a major heart attack, Jake goes home to more devastating news.

This is a rather formulaic made-for-TV movie, but the cast and performances are appealing, especially from Hicks and Bridges. The unique thing about previewing the film was that the marketing company organized an online screening with Hicks, who plays the peace-keeper in the family. During the screening journalists could log in and type-chat with Hicks throughout. I really enjoyed this -- it was as if we were all sitting in a living room chatting while watching, just like families do.

Vatican insists it didn't torpedo Irish response to abuse crisis



tIn an unusually detailed response to recent criticism from the Irish government, the Vatican insisted today that it did not subvert efforts by the Irish bishops to report sexually abusive priests to the police, saying that claims to the contrary by Ireland’s Prime Minister are “unfounded.”

tThe Vatican had earlier recalled its ambassador to Ireland after Prime Minister Enda Kenny on July 20 denounced what he described as “the dysfunction, disconnection, elitism … the narcissism that dominates the culture of the Vatican to this day” in the wake of a critical government report on the rural Colyne diocese, which found that abuse allegations had been mishandled as recently as 2009.

tToday’s 11,000-word statement represents the Vatican’s most comprehensive response to date to both the Cloyne report and Kenny’s statement, which found a largely positive echo in scandal-weary Ireland.


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