NCR Today

The big man on my street

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The tumult in Wisconsin reminds me of a guy in my old Bronx neighborhood who everybody called Nicky Large.

He earned the nickname: Nicky was, in fact, very large. Day after day, you could find him perched on a wooden folding chair in front of the corner candy store, just two doors down from my father's bread bakery. I must've been around ten years old when I finally asked my Dad what Nicky Large did for a living that he could sit out in front of the sweet shop like that all the time.

My father -- who worked seven days a week, 12 hours a day, baking and delivering bread -- smiled and said: Nicky works for the city.

The upcoming 'Muslim Hearings'

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Rep. Peter King (R-NY) is planning hearings in the House Committee on Homeland Security on what he calls the “radicalization” of some American Muslims. This move has caused an interfaith uproar, with prominent leaders of many faith traditions calling on King to cancel the hearings. The protesting groups include Pax Christi, the Interfaith Alliance and Amnesty International.

They point to the danger of increasing an already dangerous level of anti-Muslim prejudice and Islamophobia in the United States. Many have compared the hearings to McCarthyism. What used to be a “communist under every rose bush” could become a “Muslim terrorist under every robe.”

This week on Interfaith Voices, we featured two thoughtful American Muslims discussing these hearings and their potential fallout.

On this day: Sts. Perpetua and Felicity

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On this day we celebrate the feast of St. Perpetua and St. Felicity.

"In the springtime of the year 203, a young North African woman was taken into custody by Roman soldiers in the city of Carthage, in what is now contemporary Tunisia. Twenty-two, of good family, well educated, married, and nursing a child, Vibia Perpetua was charged with violating a decree issued the previous year by the Roman emperor Septimus Severus outlawing conversion to Christianity."

--from Happiness: A History, by Darrin M. McMahon, Grove Press, 2006.

Morning Briefing

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Mother Teresa as mystic and apostle of the ordinary

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Canonization still awaiting a miracle

ROME -- In the court of popular opinion, Mother Teresa – now Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, after her beatification in 2003 – is regarded as a heroic Saint of the Poor, perhaps the 20th century’s most compelling example of a radical option for the world’s most vulnerable and forgotten people.

While that’s undeniably right, two of the world’s leading experts on Mother Teresa say, it also risks being reductive.

The Adjustment Bureau: A cry for freedom

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In writer/director George Nolfi’s original action-romance-thriller film, questions about personal free will, fate, and a divine purpose to each of our lives collide head on with ideas about politics, philosophy, religion, relationships, and gender.

Just as David Norris (Matt Damon) loses the race for a U.S. Senate seat from New York, he meets a beautiful ballet dancer, Elise Sellas (Emilie Blunt), in the men’s room of the hotel. Elise hastily explains that she is hiding from security because she dared herself to crash a wedding party and she did. Norris is immediately smitten.

Secular universities and religious tolerance

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Working at a public university is a challenge for people of faith.

It seems to be assumed that intelligence and faith cannot be housed in the same brain and thus, believers are often dismissed as dim-witted throwbacks to a less enlightened era. This is especially true of believers who self-identify by wearing certain clothing or jewelry or, heaven forbid, are seen reading a book of scripture.

(Exception made here for anyone in the Department of Religion: expressions of faith are expected, if not completely welcomed.)

Most of the time, this disdain of faith isn’t overt; academia prides itself on being able to look askance at entire populations while appearing tolerant and even contemplative. But sometimes, as I observed recently, the religious prejudice is so obvious that people of faith are faced with a choice: Endure or ignore the religious hostility or speak up.

Republicans bring back plastic

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Usually, as a confirmed news hound, I am totally absorbed in major stories like the Middle East uprisings, labor protests in Wisconsin, and the draconian budget cuts proposed by House Republicans.

But this time, news from the cafeteria of the House of Representatives caught my attention. It seems that former Speaker Nancy Pelosi had a policy of "greening" the Capitol Building in many ways. Among them was the introduction of biodegradable cups in the House cafeteria, as well as a composting program to go with it.

This seems totally in line with the environmental ethics of all our major faith traditions, including the Catholic church.

Now, in what has to stand as one of the pettiest moves of all time, Speaker John Boehner has ditched the biodegradables and the composting program to return to the earth-killing world of plastic foam cups (proper scientific name: polystyrene). And just to top it off: who is selling these cups to the House cafeteria? None other than George Wurtz, a former executive at a subsidiary of Koch Industries, who is currently the owner of WinCup.

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In This Issue

December 2-15, 2016

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