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'Why being a foodie isn't \"elitist\"'


Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation, wrote a piece in the Washington Post last week titled "Why being a foodie isn't 'elitist.'"

The 'elitist' epithet, he says, is a familar line of attack. In the decade since his book was published, he has been called that, plus a socialist, a communist, and un-American. Others who promote organic and local food are called "food fascists." The name-calling is a form of misdirection, an attempt to evade a serious debate about U.S. agricultural policies.

Read the article on the Washington Post Web site.

We need the Earth for our spiritual lives


Most of us don’t realize just how much we need the Earth for our spiritual vitality and wellbeing. Because the natural world is “always there,” we take it for granted and seldom connect it to our spirituality. We think we need the church for our spiritual lives, but not nature. We assume our spirituality is independent of what is happening in nature.

Think for a moment how the major Catholic feasts are timed to coincide with events in nature. Look how much Christmas is built on the natural world. The winter solstice and symbolism of light overcoming the darkness mirrors Christ the light coming to remove the darkness of sin. The shepherd saw angels in the night sky and the magi followed a star (which we can hardly imagine because we can’t see the stars where most of us live!) And wouldn’t the story lose a lot if Jesus had been born in a run-down shelter in the inner city instead of a stable? The animals lend texture, earthiness, and warmth to the event.

Small family farms not benefitting from rising crop prices, according to new study


Since 2006, farm crop prices have risen dramatically, reversing a decades-long trend that saw persistent declines in agricultural commodities prices. U.S. Department of Agriculture officials talk about boom times for U.S. farmers, citing their most recent figures on the economic performance of the farm sector. Recent reports point to records in net farm income.

But are small-to-mid-scale family farmers really benefiting from the boom? No, according to the latest of three studies by Tufts University professor Timothy A. Wise, who has looked behind the glowing headlines on the farm sector as a whole to examine how family farmers have fared in this high-price environment, using readily available USDA data that breaks down the widely diverse range of working and non-working farms included in aggregate statistics,

EPA creates Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnership Initiative


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has launched a Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships (FBNP) initiative. According to their press announcement, "strong relationships with faith and neighborhood organizations will help promote environmental stewardship that will lead to cleaner communities, encourage healthier families and build a stronger America. These relationships will also help EPA assist communities during times of environmental crisis."

EPA also pledges to work to expand the environmental conversation and continue the fight for environmental justice to relieve the burdens of pollution in poor and minority communities. In addition, EPA will work with participating institutions to bring Green jobs to these communities, increase energy efficiency through EPA's Energy Star for Congregations program, and improve environmental education and communications.

One record-breaking month after another


I spent last week in a small house on my brother’s land in the southern Missouri forest working on a book I am writing for Orbis. My wife and I arrived at the end of a four-day long torrential rainstorm, the worst they had experienced there in anyone’s memory.

Thirteen to 14 inches of rain in a few days sent creeks and rivers 20 feet or more over their normal levels. Lakes overflowed. Dams were threatened. Ponds quadrupled in size.

All of the county roads were closed due to flooding. A friend of my brother’s, the prosecuting attorney for the county, was marooned for the duration in his house with guests who were visiting from the city, unable to navigate past the low-water bridge that was submerged and was their only way out.

Meanwhile to the south of us, across the Arkansas line, potent storms were formed there that then stalked through the South resulting in the worst tornado outbreak in U. S. history.

The new stage of psychic evolution


Many years ago, The Jesuit scholar Teilhard de Chardin claimed that the biological (physical) evolution of our species had probably reached its climax; in biological terms, we could not evolve much further.

Consequently, he suggested that we are rapidly approaching a new evolutionary threshold, in which mind and spirit, rather than biology, will provide the context for evolutionary emergence. This new stage he named as psychic evolution.

The exponential growth of information, evidenced throughout the closing decades of the 20th century, supports this claim. Processing information provides the primary work-outlet in the world of our time. And the communication of information continues to rise with greater speed, accuracy, and efficiency.

Central to this explosion is the computer with its technology now doubling every five years. Computational skills which might take the human brain several hours, can be achieved by modern computers in a matter of seconds. In fact, computer technology measures its speed not in hours, minutes or even seconds, but in terms of the nanosecond -- which literally means one-billionth of a second.

What does ësustainability' mean?


The following was written by Holy Cross Br. David Andrews, a senior representative at the Washington-based Food & Water Watch, a consumer lobbying organization.

The word “sustainable” is being used in so many ways today that it is hard to know what it means. It came into increasing use after the 1987 report “Our Common Future” published by the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development -- also known as the Brundtland Report, named after the Chair of that Commission.

Its fundamental insight is now well known: “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

It has frequently been asserted that sustainable development rests on a three legged stool: social justice, environmental protection and economic well being. In other words it sees three elements: the planet, profit and people as interrelated in any holistic view of sustainable development.

Advocates of sustainable agriculture typically utilize these elements in their vision of sustainability.

Widening our practice of mercy


When I get stopped for speeding and the cop is sauntering to my car, I always pray like the dickens -- God, please let him have mercy on me and give me a warning instead of a ticket! In my powerlessness, every part of my distressed being pleads for leniency, which I usually don’t get, but I can’t help trying.

We all know what it’s like to be the one asking for mercy, the feelings of fear and desperation and the humbling bargaining and begging. And we know what it’s like being asked for a break. (If we’re parents, we’re probably on that side of the fence fairly often!) We know the feeling of a hard-hearted refusal to an anguished request, and also the grace of softening our stance and granting an undeserved favor.

The idea of mercy is not simple. It’s similar to pity, compassion, and forgiveness, but not quite the same. It has its own depth, nuances and flavor. I think it is clear, though, that it is a virtue to be courted. The scriptures state that God’s mercy reaches to the heavens, recount how Jesus granted mercy to sick and sinner alike, and admonish us to be unstinting in showing mercy.

Beauty at a price: Another look at personal care products


Movie stars with flawless complexions, populating magazine pages and TV ads, lure the unsuspecting into buying numerous beauty products that promise miracles. The hope is that the creams, lotions, scents, and make-up will compensate for the Creator’s flaw in making them lacking and imperfect.

Most of us, women and men alike, succumb to this advertising pressure without a thought about whether these endless products are necessary or good for us and the Earth.

This issue really hit home to me when a health practitioner once asked me, “Aside from the bad taste, would you be willing to ingest these products that you put on your body?” I was repulsed, instinctively knowing they were not made from natural, harmless food sources

Most of us don’t realize that whatever is put on our skin is fully absorbed into our bodies. It ends up in our blood stream, cells, and organs, and eventually in the larger ecosystems, as a benign or malign presence.

As stewards of our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit and of the Earth as the numinous home of God, we would do well to re-evaluate our choices in regard to these personal products. So let’s look beneath the surface a little.

Book: Judgment Day: The Struggle for Life on Earth


By Paul Collins
Published by Orbis Books, $22.50

The Gulf oil spill of a year ago is just the latest depredation against the planet. From every direction come signs of global warming and other forms of ecological disaster that threaten the future of all living beings. In this sobering assessment of our condition, Paul Collins examines the nature of this crisis and how we got here including a review of the mental habits of thought, including religious worldviews, that have contributed to our dilemma and continue to inhibit effective action.

“It is no use kidding ourselves,” he writes, “that it is just bad luck for people in the future or that they will somehow find a technological fix for the damage we have wrought. Our exploitation of the natural world is inescapably a moral and ethical issue. By destroying the earth, consuming resources and wiping out thousands of species we involve ourselves in a profoundly sinful situation.”


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In This Issue

May 22-June 4, 2015


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