The State of the Union speech is, admittedly, one of the worst speeches to have to deliver on the planet. Every White House speech-writer will tell you they begin with the idea that, this year, the speech will not turn into a laundry list, but each year, a laundry list it becomes. Additionally, since these speeches have been broadcast, the president has two audiences, the members of Congress in the room and the television audience outside, and it is often difficult to speak to both groups at the same time.
Turns out I am not the only one who thinks flashmobs are just great! I got several emails from friends who agreed with me that last week's feature, of an orchestra and chorus doing the "Ode to Joy" from Beethoven's Ninth was one of the best flashmobs they had ever seen. The combo of such a staple of the classical repertoire performed in such a different style is just plain fun. But, this one, sent by a friend, may even be better. Hard to top a couple hundred Russians trying hard to look like Gary Cooper.
h/t to Rocco: The hierarch on a Harley. Gotta love it.
Last week, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good asked me to pen an essay on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I chose to focus on the fact that we usually remember Dr. King, rightly, as a civil rights icon, but he was much more than that. You can find it by clicking here.
Jesuit Fr. Tom Reese and E.J. Dionne are two men from whom I have learned a great deal over the years. I first came to know Fr. Reese through his writings, which were enlightening both in their knowledge and their analysis. E.J. I came to know while working at Kramerbooks, which is just around the corner from the Brookings Institution, where E.J. keeps his office. I am in their debt and have been for more than two decades and, happily, both men have become friends. Additionally, Fr. Reese is now my colleague here at NCR.
In case you missed it, in addition to his wonderful sermon at the Pro-Life Vigil, Cardinal Sean O'Malley gave a splendid interview with the Boston Herald this past week about pro-life issues. You can read the full text here.
Talk about tendentious readings of papal utterances? Here is a young man at Fox News, Adam Shaw, who has a bad case of Francis Derangement Syndrome. The Holy Father is not opposed to aspiration. He is opposed to a system that takes account only of material aspirations, as opposed to others' needs, and which invites spiritual poverty at the same time it encourages material wealth. Shaw's inability to see the difference is shocking, and I am not easily shocked.
I really, really want to like Kathryn Jean Lopez. I think she is one of those conservative thinkers who is at least trying to get her head around the Pope Francis effect, not undermine it, or dismiss it. And, in this latest article, she is entirely within her rights to try and correct the record on Francis regarding his pro-life credentials. And, I am very grateful to her for unearthing this quote from then-Cardinal Bergoglio:
The controversy over the decision to terminate the employment of Vice Principal Mark Zmuda from his job at Eastside Catholic High School raises important and challenging issues for Church leaders, issues that are not likely to go away anytime soon. Whether Zmuda was fired or felt sufficient pressure to resign may have contractual significance, but is hardly the key issue.
This news story in yesterday's Washington Post caught my eye. The teachers' union in Washington has filed a grievance because some of the evaluations of teachers were based on erroneous data. The union is seeking to have the evaluations made available to them and their members so they can scrutinize them for other errors.
You see the problem?