NCR Today

So You Want to Ride Homer Simpson's Coat-tails?


The line between evangelizing and commercializing can be a thin one.

The claim by the Vatican newspaper that Homer Simpson is a Catholic is a good illustration.

In these dark days of Vatican history when the Catholic "brand" isn't doing so well, L'Osservatore Romano's embrace of Homer could be a marketing strategy to bolster its image.

Basking in the glow of Homer's popularity won't work, however, unless Rome is ready to accept a form of Catholicism that includes the following features:

Gay marriage. When the law permitted them in Springfield, HJS speedily got himself marrying credentials and opened up a wedding chapel in his garage. Did right well, too.

Church unity, achieved. Homer most often attends services in the Protestant sanctuary of the Rev. Mr. Lovejoy, but has never shown an inclination to place any church, or any religion for that matter, above another. They're all the same for him if there's something in it for him. He even did a brief missionary stint on a South Pacific island.

Conservative Kansas town reduces energy use, saves money


They don’t believe in climate change. They can’t stand Al Gore. But the residents of the deeply conservative town of Salina, Kansas are committed to saving energy thanks to the Climate and Energy Project.

A fascinating article in today’s New York Times says that the project is aimed at reducing the heartland’s dependence on coal and oil.

The beauty that serves no purpose


If efficiency and simple cause-and-effect were in charge of things, we wouldn't have autumn's colors. Trees are models of efficiency in most of their processes and activities -- the photosynthesis that goes on in their leaves, their unique system of drawing water and nutrients from the ground through roots and turning it into sap, which is performed without waste.

But in technical terms the color that comes to autumn leaves is waste, sheer excess and leftover. It is created by substances revealed only when the tiring tree seals off the sap circulation and no longer charges up the chlorophyll in the leaves. The old clorophyll disintegrates and yellow pigments called carotene and xanthophyll become visible. The reds and purples appear when the sun has oxidized sugars and acids the tree has abandoned in the leaves. When the leaves have passed their peak in color and fall from the trees, they molder into humus which eventually will feed the parent tree. But the color adds nothing to the humus.

Fortunately, for us, there is no efficiency expert or stern taskmaster that abhors superfluous qualities monitoring the trees. As a result, we get fall's magnificent coloration.

Interview with Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles



tCardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles is one of two representatives of the American bishops in the Oct. 10-24 Synod of Bishops for the Middle East, along with Archbishop Allen Vigneron of Detroit. Mahony sits on the Congregation for Eastern Churches, and presides over what is arguably the most multi-cultural diocese in America, which includes outposts of all six of the Eastern Catholic churches of the Middle East: Armenian, Chaldean, Coptic, Maronite, Melkite, and Syrian Catholics.

Mahony is already anticipating his retirement in February 2011, with the transfer of power in Los Angeles to Archbishop Jose Gomez. Nonetheless, he remains vitally engaged in issues facing Catholicism in America, especially the case for immigration reform.

tHe sat down on Oct. 18 for an interview with NCR about the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East.

Meeting at Mass


As my community celebrated Mass Oct. 16 in our chapel here in Culver City, Calif., a young man was marrying the love of his life during a wedding Mass at a parish in Staten Island, N.Y. The groom's parents have been friends of our community in New York for 35 years, and I have known them since Josh was a little tyke. We asked our chaplain here to celebrate the Mass for the intentions of the happy couple.

The high and the mighty


There’s a 1950s John Wayne movie in which the actor wore not a cowboy hat but a commercial airline pilot's cap. It's called The High and the Mighty. It featured a melodic whistling theme song written by the great film composer Dimitri Tiomkin.

On a walk in the country last week, I found myself humming it after I’d seen nature’s “the high and the mighty” – a flock of wild geese that winged overhead as I walked.

They come from over the horizon. If it’s a clear day they fly high in the sky. If grey clouds cover the earth they fly lower, and you can hear their garrulous conversations as they leisurely chatter, gossip and confer with one another while flapping their big wings to keep aloft.

Of all the migrating birds in this season, the wild geese seem the most emblematic of autumn.

Where I live, the flyway is probably from northern Minnesota or possibly even from the permafrost bogs of nothern Manitoba. In other locales of the country, they might be coming from Alaska or from Hudson Bay. Their journey to the south is an epic one, fraught with difficulties and perils, and repeated twice a year.


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In This Issue

July 14-27, 2017