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A note from Tom Fox, NCR editor


It recently came to my attention that staff writer Rich Heffern, in the course of writing some of his columns, cut and pasted paragraphs from other Web sites, without proper attributions. Plain and simple, this is unacceptable journalism; it’s called plagiarism. We spoke together and went through some painful discernment before I accepted Heffern’s resignation. I offered him the opportunity to share some parting thoughts with NCR readers.

Under a lot of stress the last few years due to health reasons, I took careless shortcuts in some of my writing, and was not careful with attributions. I am deeply sorry and apologize to NCR’s board, to my colleagues and my readers. It’s been a joy to report on and present many of the efforts Catholics are making here and around the world in healing the Earth’s life-support systems for future generations, in caring for the poor and in exploring and re-imagining the church’s spiritual treasures and making them available to all. May our lives continue to be Spirit-filled and God-haunted.

Environmentalists on fracking


Fracking, a relatively new drilling technology for bringing up natural gas from the earth, does not encourage feelings of neutrality.

People either hate or love the idea of this quick fix method for extracting unenvironmentally sustainable fossil fuels from the ground. Fracking has been banned by the French Assembly and the state of New Jersey. The government of South Africa has extended a moratorium on it for another six months.

Pennsylvania is another story entirely. Many residents there are alarmed by the plot line.

It goes like this: Fracking is one of the leading characters in this northeastern state's energy plans for the future.

Food and faith: possibilities for parishes (Part 2)


In yesterday's blog I stated: As Catholic Christians, we are called to read the signs of the times and make, if necessary, a counter-cultural witness. It is the urban poor who have the least access to fresh and organic food. It is the poor who suffer the most from diet-based degenerative diseases such as obesity and diabetes.

In the United States the National Catholic Rural Life Conference (NCRLC) has been a fierce advocate for the rights of the small farmer and a more just food system. I have been active for a number of years with the Michigan Catholic Rural Life Coalition. The NCRLC has wonderful material for small faith sharing groups on the church's teaching on food and faith and sustainable living.

Beyond study, parishes are called to be living witnesses of the Gospel in our local communities. As I have discovered, during my years I served as pastor of St. Elizabeth Parish in Wyandotte, Mich., models abound that can enhance our witness of a more just and sustainable world through the promotion of local and organic methods of food production:

Food and faith: possibilities for parishes (Part 1)


One need not have read The Omnivore's Dilemma or have seen the movie "Food, Inc." to know that something is seriously out of kilter with the American food system. With the dominance of agri-business, the quaint image of the family farmer with cows out in the pasture who is growing a cornucopia of crop varieties has, in recent years, become something of an anachronism.

Rather, with the rise of agri-business our food production system has several disturbing characteristics:

Big Questions for Science


Historians John O’Malley, SJ, of Georgetown University, and Mordechai Feingold, of the California Institute of Technology, will speak tomorrow, Sept. 14, at Georgetown University, during the first of Woodstock Theological Center’s three discussions titled “Georgetown, Jesuits, and the Sciences.”

Here is the press release:

Morphic resonance, oil pipeline arrests, and Dr. Suess


Dr. Seuss , beloved children’s author, penned The Lorax over 40 years ago, soon after the first Earth day, but its theme of ecological ruin, greed, and implied regeneration of the Earth is as timely as ever.

The story relates the tragic account of a character called Once-ler, who discovered a land “where the grass was still green, and the pond was still wet, and the clouds were still clean and the brightly colored Truffula Trees swayed mile after mile in the fresh morning breeze.”

Would you like a test tube with that?


Just imagine it. Someday soon, you sidle up to your favorite, old-fashioned burger joint -- one of those that still cooks everything in-house -- and order yourself a big, juicy burger.

You take the first bite, enjoying the hints of charcoal and the flavor of grease. In a moment of introspection, you think to yourself, 'Where did this cow come from? What kind of life did it have?'

Answer: It didn't. There was no cow involved at all in that slab of meat entering your digestive system.

It's a future that isn't too far away. Mother Jones magazine's Blue Marble blog has a post today about a possible coming revolution in laboratory-grown meat products.

From the post:

Growing carrots in wading pools


Job Ebenezer, a retired engineer living in Columbus, Ohio, has words of empowerment and comfort for folks who worry about famines, food shortages and overpopulation.

Recycle those worries.

Compost them.

Begin growing vegetables.

Lots of them.

Grow them in kiddie wading pools, plastic grocery bags, and milk containers. See them thriving in abandoned playground sites, apartment rooftops, unused portions of parking lots, balconies and even on concrete sidewalks.

Mary Faulkner and the potluck of women's spirituality


When people ask Mary Faulkner about her religious practice, she says, “I tell them I’m a Canaanite. They look at me kind of funny at first, but most of the time, they figure it has something to do with the indigenous people of the Middle East.”

Canaanites were the ancient people of Israel who worshipped the Mother Goddess Ashera for thousands of years before a Father God emerged. (When that happened, Ahera became known as “the lost bride of Yahweh.”)

“I would root myself in that tradition,” states Faulkner, a psychotherapist who said she stopped identifying as a practicing Catholic many years ago because of the women’s ordination issue. “I decided they’d just have to get along without me,” she said cheerfully during a recent phone conversation from her Nashville, Tennessee home.

The topic of our interview was her third and latest book, Women’s Spirituality: Power and Grace.


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February 27- March 12, 2015


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