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Reader's Choice

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The combox is wide open. What was the best book you read this past year dealing with either the Church or politics?
My nominee is Professor Charles Camosy's "Too Expensive to Treat?: Finitude, Tragedy and the Neonatal ICU"

I wrote a brief review of Camosy's book here. Camosy looks at an urgent modern issue through the lens of both ancient and modern moral teachings, unearthing in the process the richness of Catholic moral thought and its continued relevance to today.

The Idiocy of Rural Life?

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Was Marx right? Is rural life inherently inferior to its urban counterpart?

This question always strikes me when I return home to the little town in Connecticut where I grew up. I have lived in Washington, D.C. since 1980 and clearly have made my choice, although I cherish my visits here. I returned to rural Connecticut for extended stays only twice, once to work on a campaign and once to care for my parents after they were in a car accident. Each time, I was relieved to return to the imperial city.

Gehring on Taxes and CST

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John Gehring has a splendid essay up at US Catholic in which he notes how Catholic social teaching has never embraced the anti-tax, anti-gvoernment mantras emanating from the Tea(Taxed Enough Already)Party. Gehring correcly applies key Catholic tenets, with quotes from episcopal and papal texts, to the debate and points out the inconvenient fact that the U.S. is one of the most under-taxed industrial countries in the world and that our current tax rates are at historic lows.

Yes, Catholics are allowed to disagree on matters that demand prudential judgment, but prudential judgment does not cover a fundamentally flawed approach of the kind on exhibit from the Tea Party.

Christmas: La Vie est Triste

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Christmas can be an especially difficult time for those who have recently lost a loved one. Amidst the family celebrations, that loved one’s absence is more pronounced than their presence, although over the years one discovers how different family traditions and even attitudes persist in such a way as to make the loved one’s presence felt acutely.

But, it is not the same. It is never the same. And this year, for no particular reason, the absence of two loved ones has been acute.

All through Advent, I found my thoughts drawn to memories of Father Joseph Kugler. He was the pastor of St. Joseph’s Church in Willimantic when I was a teenager and was kind enough to let me practice on that church’s organ. I wrote about that experience last summer, about how the mystic chords of memory made Joe seem very present. I credit Joe with being the principal instrument of grace in keeping me within the Church at a time when many young people leave and never look back.

Bishop Aquila's Outrageous Statement

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Bishop Samuel Aquila of Fargo, North Dakota delivered remarks in the course of an interview with KFGO that are so outrageous as to boggle the mind. “People need to the understand that when a government essentially embraces atheism, which is what both communism and Nazism [did], that religious rights are going to be violated.” Huh?

First, when will people learn that analogies to the Nazis are always a bad idea. The evil Hitler inflicted on Europe is unique not in its scope – Stalin and Mao had as much blood on their hands – but in the purity of the evil Nazism achieved. The Nazis did not kill Jews to achieve some political goal, indeed, they often killed Jews whose talents would have been beneficial to the regime. The desire to exterminate an entire people simply because you think they should be exterminated does not warrant comparison with any other evil. Stalin killed kulaks to get their land. Mao killed entrepreneurs to capture their money and stamp out their autonomy. Hitler killed Jews because he wanted to exterminate them.

The Event of Christmas

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I once asked one of the smartest theologians I know to explain to me the essential point of disagreement between Rahner and the Communio theologians. “Of course, Pope Benedict always had great respect for Rahner,” my learned friend said. “But, I would put the difference this way. For Rahner, the Incarnation is a theological category. For Communio theologians, the Incarnation is first and foremost an event.” If that is true, and I believe it is (not being a theologian, I rely on the wisdom of others), than St. Luke was the first Communio theologian.

Bum Rap for Newt

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Former Speaker Newt Gingrich has been chastised for his response to a gay Iowa voter, during which Gingrich said that those who think gay marriage is the most important issue should support Obama. But, when you go to the video, there was nothing dismissive or disrespectful about what Gingrich said. He even acknowledged that it is "totally legitimate" to support his opponent if the issue is the most important to you. Trying to make it seem like Gingrich somehow dissed gays is a bum rap.

You can see the video for yourself here.

EPA's New Mercury Standards

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The Environmental Protection Agency released new standards for mercury and other toxic admissions yesterday. You can get all the details at the EPA website here.

And, over at NCR's "Eco Catholic," you can find the response of the USCCB which pushed hard for the new regulations not only because of their environmental benefits, but because of the happy consequence for children, born and unborn, of limiting toxic admissions.

Don't you wish there were another GOP presidential debate soon so that someone could ask the candidates if they approve of this explicitly pro-life regulation?

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July 4-17, 2014

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