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Election Time: VA-5

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UPDATE: This was the first race I looked at, back at the beginning of September. I penned a long article about it for the print edition of NCR that you can read here. No race remains closer to the heart of progressive Catholics than this one.
The polling has been all over the place, with the SurveyUSA polls skewing the averages. Still the most recent public poll from Roanoke College shows Republican challenger Robert Hurt with a six point lead. Hurt does not come across like a raving Tea Party fanatic, although the district is dotted with tea Party lawn signs that read "November is Coming." On the other hand, Hurt's ground game appears ineffectual and Perriello's is energized. The progressive evangelical group Matthew25 is runnign ads for Perriello on Christian radio, an effective means of communicating in this sprawling rural district.
Perriello's chances will hinge on his ability to generate high turnout among African-Americans in the southern part of the district and among students at UVA in the northern part. This is a must-win for the GOP, but it looks like they will claim the seat.

Blast From the Past: Pope St. Pius X

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A final section from the RCIA lectures:

I. The papacy of Pope Pius X accomplished many good things, such as an increased focus on CCD, a liturgical renewal and a commitment to more frequent reception of the Eucharist. As well, Pius X was a saintly man whose piety impressed all who met him. But, his reign was a disaster in many ways and especially for the life of the mind. He issued an encyclical condemning modernism which he called the sum of all heresies. He instituted an oath against modernism that all university professors took. And he indulged a secretive organization, the Sodalitium Pianum, which undertook witchhunts against those it considered suspect. Among those considered suspect by the group were two future Popes, Benedict XV and John XXIII. The only notable American Catholic magazine, the Ecclesiastical Review, was shut down. American Catholic academic life went into a free-fall precisely when it was needed to challenge the increasing influence of John Dewey’s pragmatism. In the great debate between evolutionary theorists and evangelicals that resulted in the famous Scopes trial, the Church was a bystander.

Yahoo Watch: David Limbaugh

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Next time you see polling data that suggests a large swath of the GOP electorate does not believe Obama was born in the United States, and you ask yourself how anyone could believe such nonsense, think David Limbaugh. (Yup! It runs in the family.) Last time I checked, no Republican elected official had taken Chris Matthews up on his offer of free airtime and dinner if they would come on his show and say that David's brother Rush Limbaugh does not speak for the Republican Party. Matthews should extend the contest to include either brother. Here is what David Limbaugh said on a recent interview:
"I'll tell you the Framers, when they inserted that provision in the Constitution that you couldn't have an alien be President -- they did it because they didn't believe a foreigner would have the loyalties to our country. I will just say this and this is kind of irrespective of the rule of law in the legal question, I think Obama has the kind of visceral disloyalty and contempt for America that the Framers were trying to avoid.

Q & A: Professor Charles Camosy

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We finish our two week Q & A with young theologians from the Fordham Conversation Project where we started, with some reflections by Professor Charles Camosy, one of the organizers of the FCP and an assistant Professor of Theology at Fordham. I asked him to reflect upon the submissions of his colleagues.

Professor Camosy: Let’s see if I can identify some trends or themes in the blog entries from the Fordham Conversation Project participants during the last couple of weeks:


  • Caution and humility.
    Aware that a blog entry cannot do justice to the complexity of the very large questions we are addressing, coupled with the fact that we are just starting our careers, we were generally hesitant to make broad, sweeping claims. But our experience, both of our students and of our fellow younger theologians, is not easily dismissed. Something different seems to be coming down the pike.

  • The inadequacy of our late 20th Century American political categories.

Labor Day & The Church

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Monday is Labor Day. It was once a day when the vast majority of Roman Catholics would take part in some kind of special Mass or parade or both to mark the occasion. Here in Washington, D.C. there will be a special Mass led by Archbishop Donald Wuerl, but the Mass is next weekend, not this. It will take place at the Cathedral, not as it traditionally did at the Shrine of the Sacred Heart, where after the Mass, the entire congregation would process outside to lay a wreathe at the statue of Cardinal Gibbons, the man who championed the rights of labor and won the hearts of the workingman at the turn of the century.

Q & A: Aaron Canty

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Our second contribution at Q & A today comes from Aaron Canty, Associate Professor of Religious Studies at St. Xavier University in Chicago. See below for the contribution from Professor Candida Moss of Notre Dame. Both participate in the Fordham Conversation Project.

The question: From your perspective as a young theologian teaching in a Catholic university, how do you view the divisions in the American Catholic Church? Do you see things differently than the previous generation? Are there any signs of hope for healing our divisions?

Professor Canty: I am not sure if I can generalize about divisions within “the previous generation,” because the generation that accompanied and came after Vatican II has within it sub-groups that often disagree about weighty topics; what is obvious is that the next generation of Catholics in America will not be shaped by the same challenges.

Q & A: Candida Moss

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Apologies, again, for the absence of Q & A the last two days. It is back today with two entries, both from participants in the Fordham Conversation Project which brought together young theologians from around the country.

First, we have this submission from Candida Moss, Assistant Professor of Theology at Notre Dame.

The question: From your perspective as a young theologian teaching in a Catholic university, how do you view the divisions in the American Catholic Church? Do you see things differently than the previous generation? Are there any signs of hope for healing our divisions?

Professor Moss: In many ways I find myself unable to answer this question. Not being American, I am learning about these divisions—if there are divisions—inductively and attempting, as I go, to be wary of rhetorical postures, caricatures, and bad manners. I cannot presume, therefore, to venture an opinion on what divides Americans Catholics from one another nor on how to heal such divisions (We British have a bad habit of attempting to solve other people’s problems and I don’t want to fall into old habits).

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