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My Table Is Spread

Sticking with an imperfect (church) fit

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In his rule, St. Benedict describes one of the decrees of monastic life. The monk "is to promise, before God and his saints to be stable" -- that is, to settle in a place, one place, for life. It is not an assumption we share. Indeed, the notion of a grown man still living in the house where he was born conjures images of instability, mental and emotional. We imagine Boo Radley, afraid of the world beyond his porch.

Our world is shaped and defined not by stability of place, but by mobility and its partner, consumer choice. The premise of consumer choice is that, somewhere, the perfect fit between product and purchaser exists. It is the responsibility of the producer to offer it, the responsibility of the purchaser to find it. Shop till you drop.

This column first appeared July 20, 2009. Read the full column here: Sticking with an imperfect (church) fit

Finding food now in Haiti is not shopping

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The last time my son-in-law, Corey, went to Haiti, I requested a souvenir from the gift shop at the Port-au-Prince airport. I wanted him to bring me a poster of “Les Chefs d’État d’Haiti, 1804-2011.” This display of the pictures of Haiti’s presidents -- individuals, as well as committees that have ruled throughout Haiti’s last 200 years -- tells the length of each person or cadre’s tenure.

Reduced to being the earth's salt and savor

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I was not raised in a linguistically sensitive family. My parents called us “stupid” when they thought we were. They employed the full range of locally well-known, inaccurate and often hateful words and phrases for people of different skin colors and abilities.

I say this to assure you that I am not squeamish. My mother, nearing 92, can, and does, still tell me I look or am acting like a “pinheaded idiot,” and the words register in my Texas-toughened brain as a suggestion to take off that outfit, or to stop whatever it is I’m doing.

And yet I cringe every time I hear a bishop or cardinal speak of the penalty, the punishment, the threat of taking a priest found guilty of serious misconduct and “reducing him to the lay state.”

Read the full column here: Reduced to being the earth's salt and savor

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October 10-23, 2014

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