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Q & A: Michael Peppard

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We conclude our two weeks of examining the pontificate of Benedict XVI today with a contribution from Michael Peppard, Assistant Professor of Theology at Fordham University and, as mentioned, part of husband and wife team of new theologians who particiapted in the Fordham Conversation Project last August. Mr. Peppard was one of the principal organizers of that conference.

The question: What is one of Pope Benedict's principal contributions to the life of the Church?

Michael Peppard: On May 15, 2007, Pope Benedict XVI did something expected but extraordinary: he published a book of biblical scholarship. From where I sit—admittedly in a biased position, as a biblical scholar myself—this was his most significant contribution so far to Catholic theology.

One Cheer for Ohio Elections Board

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The Ohio Board of Elections has agreed with Congressman Steve Driehaus that ads by the Susan B. Anthony List saying he voted for taxpayer-funded abortion are factually inaccurate. State law prohibits such ads.

This issue is contentious and regular readers will know that I agree with Driehaus that the health care reform law does not provide federal money for abortions as groups like Susan B. Anthony List allege. The USCCB also reached the same conclusion and I think they were mistaken also. Indeed, I think the bill that passed is even better than the Stupak Amendment the USCCB supported because it will result in fewer private insurance policies that cover abortion.

Matthew25 Launches First Values Ad

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The progressive ecumenical group, Matthew25Network, has come up with an ad that it is running in Southside Virginia, where Tom Perriello is running for re-election. It is an area with many churches as readers of my article on that race will recognize. So far as I can tell, this is the first radio ad to specifically focus on values voters and it is running on Christian radio stations.

Score One for Reid

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Politico's Jonathan Martin claims that last night's debate in Nevada "fizzled," and it certainly had fewer fireworks than one might have anticipated. Sen. Harry Reid did fall in to Washington-speak at times, and he unaccountably failed to note that the immigration reforms he supports are much like those proposed by former President George W. Bush.

Still, the dominant fact of the evening was that Sharron Angle's way of speaking was halting at best. There were long pauses between words in simple sentences. A friend said it was like listening to the crazy woman on the block, the one you try to avoid because listening to her makes you feel like you are going crazy too. It was literally painful to listen to her.

Democracy sometimes yeilds unfortunate results. Nixon won twice. But, I just can't bring myself to believe that the good people of Nevada will vote to catapult Angle into a position of power.

Gerson, Hitchens & God

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Michael Gerson appears simultaneously intrigued and baffled by Christopher Hitchens. He has come to recognize that Hitch is a personal tour de force, a profoundly moralistic man who achieved his morality without help from any faith. Gerson’s essay, however, makes me less intrigued and more baffled about its author than its subject.

Gerson writes, “Of course we can be good without God, but why the hell bother?” You need not stray far from the self to attain most moral convictions: It is better not to steal than to steal, it is better not to cheat on one’s wife and risk the marriage than it is to seek gratifications away from the marital bed, being kind to another makes both the giver and the receiver of the kindness feel warm inside. So what? A possum cares for its newborns. My three dogs, who are each from different rescues and unrelated, are insanely devoted to each other and quite defensive of each other too.

Election Time: The Lay of the Land

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Sometimes, midterm elections are a big yawn and, sad to say, for most Americans they still are. It is safe to assume that a minority of those able to vote will actually make it to the polls on November 2 to help decide the direction of the nation. It remains one of the most inexcusable facts of our political life that elections are not held on a Sunday, or that Election Day is a holiday, or that the entire nation has not shifted to mail-in voting to increase turnout. It is an even more inexcusable fact of American society that so few Americans see politics as important enough to get interested, get involved and make a difference. But, there it is.

\"God in America\" - Part III

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The PBS documentary, "God in America," ended last night. Like the first two installments, it was very well done. The price of admission was worthwhile in this last episode just to see the video of a young Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., speaking to the camera in Montgomery, Alabama, his personal magnetism still shining through the medium and through the years. I confess I am a blubberer, and when the show got to King's assassination, I wept. There was a great American and we Americans have not seen his equal since.

CathlicVote.org Gets Spanked in Scranton

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From the category: Don't take my word for it. Earlier today, I commented on the article by Thomas Peters who is the "blogger-in-residence" at CatholicVote.org, taking him to task for ridiculous claims surrounding the closure of Catholic hospitals in Scranton, which he blamed on Obamacare.

Well, the local newspaper in Scranton ran an editorial on the same subject today under the headline "Health care can't cure bald-faced lies."

CNS. NCR. The Scranton Times-Tribune. Three strikes.

Q & A: Christiana Peppard

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The USCCB's publication of a new book, Pope Benedict XVI: Essays and Reflections on his Papacy, has been the occasion for two weeks of discussion here at Q & A about Pope Benedict and his contributions to the Church.

This week we are hearing from the young theologians who participated in the Fordham Conversation Project, a gathering of under-40, untenured Catholic theology professors from around the country.

On these last two days of the series we get to hear from a husband and wife team, Christiana and Michael Peppard. It is a measure of the uniqueness of the times in which we live that the phrase "husband and wife team" has not, in previous generations, been applied to theologians!

Christiana Peppard is a doctoral candidate at Yale University, a Visiting Scholar at the Center for Ethics Education at Fordham University, and the Scholar in Residence at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City.

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August 1-14, 2014

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