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Frank Foer on Occupy Wall Street

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Frank Foer at The New Republic raises some hard-headed questions about the Occupy Wall Street protests. I share his concerns about the practical political effects of the protests. All it takes is one moral idiot wearing a Che Guevara tee-shirt and an Obama button to make a devastating attack ad. (And, yes, if you wear a Che Guevara tee-shirt, you are a moral idiot.)

There is a Romanticism about much of the commentary regarding these protests. I am suspicious of Romanticism per se. It is fine, even uplifting, to listen to five minutes of Wagner, but if you listen to five hours, you are going to think about invading Poland.

Why Do We Want Them Back?

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I know, I know. The Pope is the special guardian and promoter of the unity of the entire Church. Consequently, I have no objection to his efforts to reach out to the Lefebvrist schimsatics and try to get them to return to the fold.

But their leader, Richard Williamson, has recently repeated his belief that the Jews are collectively responsible for the crime of deicide, a claim specifically rejected by the Second Vatican Council and every Pontiff since. Of course, this is one of Williamson's problems with Vatican II. But, really, when one is so aggressively anti-Semitic, the question must be posed: Why do we want these hateful people back?

Attitudes Towards Mormonism

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The Public Religion Research Institute has a useful primer on American attitudes towards Mormonism and the role of Mormons in public life.

What jumps off the page is that while many Americans (72 percent), especially white evangelicals (81 percent), view Mormons as holding religious views different from their own, 67 percent of all Americans and 66 percent of all white evangelicals view Mormons favorably. Pastor Jeffress has his work cut out for him.

The data also looks at how these broader attitudes relate specifically to Gov. Mitt Romney's campaign for the presidency.

Good stuff from the good people at PRRI.

The Continuing Decline at First Things

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It is sad to see the once prestigious journal, First Things, turn into a mouthpiece for extremist, crackpot conspiracy theories peddled by those who attack the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. But, they have an article up by Father Val Peter that repeats some of the baseless charges leveled against the bishops' anti-poverty program. It is indicative of Peter's bias, intentional or not, that he repeatedly leaves out the first "C" for "Catholic" in the acronym that identifies CCHD.

Two lines caused me especial distress. Peter writes: "Unfortunately, the pastoral needs of today are very different from what they were forty years ago. Rather than change with them, the CHD [sic] has mutated into irrelevance."

Pastor Jeffress in WaPo

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I almost feel sorry for Pastor Robert Jeffress of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, but I shall resist that feeling. Jeffress ignited a firestorm by calling Mormonism a "cult" and arguing that it is better to support a "Christian" for political office than a non-Christian.

In an op-ed in this morning's Washington Post, Jeffress argues confusedly about the role of religion in politics. For example, he writes, "While I prefer a competent Christian over a competent non-Christian, religion is not the only consideration in choosing a candidate. Frankly, Christians have not always made good presidents. We must also consider whether a candidate is competent to lead and govern according to biblical principles." Funny, I missed that article in the Constitution about biblical principles.

Human Trafficking Conference at CUA

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Nezt Wednesday, there will be an important conference on human trafficking here in Washington. Human Trafficking has become an increasingly evil scourge in many countries and the Catholic Church has been at the forefront of efforts to both confront it and to help the survivors.

The conference next week will include a panel of torture and human trafficking survivors. Whether for political activities or as fodder for forced prostitution rings, the twin evils of torture and human trafficking has left countless victims. A second panel in the afternoon will focus on advocacy. Between the two panels will be a keynote address by Ambassador Luis CdeBaca, the State Department's point person on these issues. The entire event will conclude with remarks by Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the Archbishop Emeritus of Washington whose career supporting a range of social justice issues is second-to-none.

Nouwen Lecture at Sacred Heart University

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Next Wednesday, Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut is sponsoring the first annual Henri Nouwen Lecture on Contemporary Spirituality. The event will take place Wednesday, October 26 at 7 p.m. The Schine Auditorium on Sacred Heart’s Fairfield campus will be the venue for this event, which is part of this year’s Presidential Inaugural Lecture Series. The lecture is free and open to the public.

According to a press release from SHU:

Titled “Listening to Henri,” the program will be presented by Kevin Burns, noted producer, editor and broadcaster. He is the producer of the CBC Radio One Ideas series, which will air Genius Born of Anguish: The Life and Legacy of Henri Nouwen next September. He has an extensive background in publishing, having commissioned and edited some 200 non-fiction titles in theology, spirituality, religion, faith and culture, history, philosophy and biography for Novalis. Besides his trade publishing background, his experience teaching at the University of Alberta for 12 years has also introduced him to the ins and outs of scholarly and academic publishing.

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July 18-31, 2014

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