ROME -- Popes, like musical composers, tend to weave certain major and minor themes throughout their body of work. If you want to know which compositions they regard as turning points, therefore, look for the ones where they step outside their own skin -- breaking with the instincts of a lifetime in order to accomplish something new.
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"International adoptions changing face, identity of American Judaism," said the headline on a Religion News Service article last week. The same could be said of most churches in America these days. When I visit other churches with our Vietnamese-born son and Chinese-born daughter, we almost always spot another family formed by transracial adoption.
The RNS story pointed out that for a religion for which ancestry is so important, Judaism is very accepting of internationally adopted children. "Judaism is a religion, not a race, and we are enriched by the diversity these kids bring," one cantor is quoted as saying.
John Kerry, the former Senator and Vietnam survivor of severe wounds, was hosting a panel on CSPAN the other day on how militarism has dominated our foreign policy since World War II.
Vietnam. Iraq/Iran. Iraq. Afghanistan. All were cited in an assault on JFK's (and to an extent Obama's) notion of America as the world's cop. Still, a trace of American exceptionalism crept in. It probably can't be helped, ingrained as it is so deeply in our bones.
It came by way of Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh. He talked about Iran. If Iranians have The Bomb, was deterrence possible? Not if they're rational, he replied in a round about way.
The implication seemed to be that deterrence based on reasonable calculation had prevented war between the U.S. and the USSR. That's basically true.
By Adelle M. Banks
WASHINGTON (RNS) The newly launched Conference of National Black Churches criticized Congress on Thursday (Dec. 9) for linking extension of unemployment benefits to tax cuts for the wealthy.
“Based on our prophetic responsibility to speak to those in power on behalf of the poor, underserved, and vulnerable, we find it utterly shameful that those who insisted that the deficit be reduced, now celebrate billions of dollars being added to the deficit as tax cuts for the wealthy,” wrote the Rev. W. Franklyn Richardson, chairman of the umbrella group of nine historically black denominations.
The letter called on President Obama and Congress to endorse “an extension of unemployment insurance without conditions.”
The group issued the letter as 300 of its leaders met in Washington to restart the work begun by the now-defunct Congress of National Black Churches, which helped rebuild Southern black churches destroyed in a spate of arsons in the 1990s.
Yesterday was December 12, the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Millions of Mexicans and other Latinos celebrate this special day to honor the Mexican image of Mary, our Holy Mother.
As Mexicans and other Latinos will become very soon the majority of U.S. Catholics, the celebration of this feast day along with other Latino Catholic traditions will become even more manifest.
From New York's Newsday:
Beaumont, who was born in Hempstead and grew up in Commack, has spent the last 20 years as a Franciscan missionary in one of the most dangerous and violent areas of the world. On this day last April, he had to make a split-second decision.
"I was saying to myself, 'Well, now either I'm really going to be a missionary and be prepared to give my life for the people, or run and hide,'" Beaumont recalled in a telephone interview. "I felt it was a pivotal moment in my life. When I walked out to them [the masked men], I realized that the last thing I might see would be the bullets coming at me.
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By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.
tSpotting contenders for the papacy and choosing a Quiz Bowl team are obviously very different things, but more and more they have one thing in common: Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, President of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture, looks like a plausible candidate to make both cuts.
tCertainly there’s never been any doubt about the intellectual chops of the 68-year-old Italian prelate, whom Pope Benedict XVI recently inducted into the College of Cardinals during a Nov. 20 consistory. Whenever Ravasi appears in public, he coughs up literary allusions the way two-pack-a-day smokers do phlegm – regularly, and without thinking about it.
Even the best scientific surveys usually produce "findings" rather than "facts"; that is, they take a picture of a flock of geese whose formation wasn't the same just before and won't be just after.
The picture may also be taken through a blurry or distorted lens so as to make it appear that the number of geese is larger or smaller than it actually is.
I'm thinking of how Gallup indirectly sustained a fiction about America's average church attendance for many decades. From the 1960s onwward the figure hovered in the 40-45 percent range, despite everyday impressions that the figure was too high.
Then an enterprising team at Purdue University tackled the question by measuring actual attendance within a region and extrapolating from that. Their results were around 25 percent which seemed to make greater sense. Their research has since been corroborated.
So with both appreciation for what competent surveying can helfpfully deliver and a degree of wariness about becoming too fixed on particular outcomes, I call attention two two findings that related to the working class.