People

'Poped out' Wills seeks broader horizons

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EVANSTON, ILL. -- Popes don’t visit America often, so when they do, the country’s Catholic stars come out to shine. Airwaves and opinion pages brim with punditry from what Commonweal editor Paul Baumann mockingly calls the “Catholic commentariat,” meaning the galaxy of prominent Catholics eager to serve up their insights about the state of the church.

Last April, however, when Pope Benedict XVI came to town, one of the brightest stars in that firmament was conspicuously absent. Historian and journalist Garry Wills, perhaps the most distinguished Catholic intellectual in America over the last 50 years, spurned requests for comment from every major TV network, as well as The New York Times, The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times.

Donna Freitas, she hears voices

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Donna Freitas is an assistant professor of religion at Boston University, earned a solemn doctorate in religious studies from the Catholic University of America and wrote a dark tome, Killing the Imposter God. Then she started researching Sex and the Soul, a serious study of college students’ attitudes toward sex and religion. But mornings, she’d wake up early and the words would pour out -- light, burbling, joyful words about a 15-year-old named Antonia Lucia Labella, who works in the family pasta market, yearns for her first kiss and makes a crazy plan to become the world’s first living saint. Released this August as a Farrar, Straus & Giroux young-adult novel, Possibilities of Sainthood even has its own trailer on youtube.com.

Sounds like the book practically wrote itself.
I teach about the medieval women mystics, and now I joke that I hear voices

Dominican Fr. Dominic DeLay, film maker

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When he’s not serving as chaplain to a monastery of contemplative nuns in the heart of Hollywood, Dominican Fr. Dominic DeLay is making films. His latest, “Inside Darkness,” is a 35-minute political suspense thriller that has its origins in the last presidential election when he said he was left with the question of how good and smart people could think so differently from himself about politics. Available on DVD at www.insidedarkness.com, the film, starting Oct. 13, will be released in free seven-minute “webisodes” with the last installment the day before the election Nov. 4.

Jimmy 'Spoon Man' Cruise

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The driving, castanet rhythm of the spoons subsides. The video goes black. Words appear and slowly scroll upward: “In 1986, Jimmy ‘Spoon Man’ Cruise became the first American to play spoons in the Soviet Union. How do you think Gorbachev got that spot on his head?” In truth, Mr. Cruise has no clue if Gorbachev, who was in the audience, liked the young American’s rock ’n’ roll spoons, but the Moscow press did. And ever since, Mr. Cruise has been making his living playing his ... utensils.

How did this begin?
I wanted drums. I fell in love with music when I was 9, and the spoons ended up becoming my imaginary drum set.

Jennifer Sekar, organizer of \"A Day of Rest\"

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God had one; why shouldn’t we? Now that people work and do chores and run errands on Sundays, Jennifer Sekar, 13, is hoping 1 million people around the world will take Saturday, Oct. 4, as a true day of rest and keep their cars in the garage. That one day would keep 10,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions out of the air, she says. Her Web site, www.adayofrest.org, asks people to pledge not to drive Oct. 4

Bruce Friedrich, vice president of PETA

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Five years ago, Details magazine rated Bruce Friedrich one of the “50 Most Influential People Under 38.” Mr. Friedrich, now 39, is vice president of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), known for its often confrontational approach to animal rights. (In 2001, right before President Bush was to arrive for lunch he streaked Buckingham Palace with the words “goveg.com” on his body.) A convert to Catholicism, Mr. Friedrich has served time in prison for antiwar actions -- he took a hammer to a jet fighter -- and once ran the largest soup kitchen in Washington, D.C. His heroes are Gandhi, Tolstoy and Dorothy Day.

Art and Spirituality: In the name of the mother

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Crows gather in cottonwoods by the Rio Grande River, down from the nearby Sandia Mountains that tower a mile above the city of Albuquerque. A community-operated irrigation canal, or acequia, threads its way from the riverbanks where the crows chatter into a neighborhood of low adobe abodes. As the sun rises, a slight, gray-haired woman emerges onto the worn plank porch of her house and pours half a glass of water out onto the sandy soil, lifts the cup to the sun, then drinks the rest of it.

In this daily ritual, artist Meinrad Craighead rebaptizes herself, making a short prayer to God as Mother: “You have given me this life. This is my daily prayer. You’re going to take care of me.”

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May 19-June 1, 2017

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