NCR Today

It's Unthinkable But It Might Be Christian


All the medical studies show the same thing -- lots of bangs on the head by guys in football helmets lead to brain failure, mental illness and early death.

No question about it. So shouldn't it be, so to speak, a no-brainer? Quit doing it. Don't clamp the pads on the kids and goad them into tearing into each other?

But the rabid loyalty to this barely sublimated tribal warfare guarantees that the terrible price paid for ringing each others' bells will be denied, ignored and rationalized. And these are our kids. We still think it's more important for our boys to prove themselves on the gridiron than to prevent their minds from falling to pieces.

The absurdity of this dishonesty came to the fore this past week when the Ivy League was actually praised for being in the "vanguard" of progress by limited "full pad" hitting to two practices a week. The NCAA allows five, so this is seen as a major step forward.

It's as if in Russian roulette some decide to allow live bullets in the chamber only 40 percent of the time. The Ivy League, no fool in the matter of gaining attention, deserved or not, is hailed for what is at best a half-way measure.

It's hot outside!


I am currently in Western New York, not far from Buffalo. Weather-wise, this area is most famous for its deep winter snows. But it's also famous for mild summers. When I was growing up here in the 1950s and 1960s, summer temperatures in July and August were in the 70s most of the time, and anything above 85 degrees was considered "scorching." When air conditioning became common, Western New Yorkers usually thought the expense was not worth the few days they'd need it.

Now, for about a week, temperatures have been in the 90s, with a heat index yesterday that stretched into triple digits. When I asked folks who live around here, they said that summer temperatures had been rising for the last several years, and they are feeling it. And the local farmers are suffering from a drought.

High-school grad seminary bound


Over at the Arkansas Catholic, there is a brief article and picture of a high school graduate reading his "letter of intent" to attend a seminary this fall during a Mass and in front of his bishop, Anthony Taylor.

It's a rather dramatic and formal way for a teenager to announce his intentions to enter a seminary. Decades ago it was commonplace for high school kids to enter the seminary. Hopefully it works out well for the young man.

Who's looking out for the little guy?


Like probably most Americans, I am frustrated at the mess in Washington over the debt ceiling increase. I think the Republicans have shown themselves to be total ideologues, caring little about the art of compromise.

Clearly, they have no real commitment to lowering the deficit since they have passed up an opportunity thrown to them by President Obama to significantly lower the deficit in a balanced way that is not just all spending cuts but involves some tax increases as well, especially on the wealthiest percent of the population.

The clergy who helped marriage equality pass


In case you missed it earlier this week, Samuel G. Freedman of The New York Times offered a long-overdue profile of the clergy who helped same-sex marriage to pass in New York last month.

Many politicians still rely on the clergy to lend themselves moral authority when debating social issues. But, as Julian E. Zelizer observes in the article:

"If religious support is fractured, and supporters of the legislation can point to clergy who are on their side, then it’s easier to counteract the claim of religious conservatives who say there is only one answer to this question....We know more about how the right has done it, but liberals can do the same."

It was the Empire State Pride Agenda’s Pride in the Pulpit program that began recruiting clergy who support marriage equality. The initiative began in 2004 with a few dozen ministers and rabbis. By the time the marriage bill went to a vote last month, more than 700 clergypersons were signed on to support the cause.

On this day: St. Mary Magdalene


On this day we celebrate the feast of St. Mary Magdalene.

Mary Magdalene is a mirror in which all Christians may see something different. Some reflections:

Mary Magdalene: The Image of a Woman Through the Centuries, by Ingrid Maisch, Verlag Herder, 1996, OSB, Collegeville, Minnesota, 1998, is specifically about what Christians down the centuries have seen when they gaze into the mirror: "the prostitute whose business was so profitable that she could spend a fortune on costly oils; the friend, wife, or lover of the prophet from Nazareth; the disciple who concealed her Easter vision out of fear; the ecstatic who brought the world (or women only?) a new God; the repentant sinner whose penitence was as measureless as her sin; the saint who was so highly revered by a medieval biographer that he would have liked to write her name in letters of pure gold." Page ix.

Morning Briefing


China's state-controlled Catholic church is considering ordaining seven more bishops, a senior official said Friday, in spite of a deepening rift with the Vatican over recent elevations lacking papal approval.

Philadelphia (and other) media continues to write about the Chaput appoitment:

Chaput won't lead Philadelphia Archdiocese quietly

‘Conservative’ Vatican ‘hardliner’ or ‘Evangelical’ Catholic?

How to be a Non-Communing Catholic

New Archbishop Chaput’s Tactics, What he knows —- and doesn't know —- about the sex-abuse scandal in Philadelphia's Catholic Church

Archbishop Chaput and Clericalism


The new archbishop of Philadelphia can't complain that he didn't get to describe himself in most favorable terms in his lengthy interview in NCR.

It was his introduction to a wide audience and the portrait is glowing: smart as a whip, loving and humble, a brave spokesman for Catholic truth to dissenters who are, well, confused, without intending to be the least bit unkind.

The real cost of student loans


I have a friend who is absolutely passionate about human rights, especially women’s rights. If she had her druthers, she would work full time to end the scourge of global human trafficking, especially trafficking in women and children. And she is highly qualified: a lawyer with an advanced degree in international law and organization.

The problem? Many of the non-profits that specialize in such work do not offer salaries large enough to allow her to pay her student loans in any kind of timely manner. Many young people believe they have to find high paying work in something like “corporate law” until the loans disappear. Then, they can do what they really care about.

The problem with that “solution,” as we know, is that people can get used to a large paycheck (even if a lot of it goes to loan payments) and never look back. They sometimes abandon their ideal work, and begin to “fit into” a corporate lifestyle.


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In This Issue

July 14-27, 2017