National Catholic Reporter

The Independent News Source

NCR Today

How Active Is Your God?


Here we are again. Calamities pile up on one another and the nagging, eternal still small voice cries, "Where is God in all this?"

Nature demolishes the Japanese, a Lybian madman murders his own people, a Wisconsin martinet destroys a basic human right -- and those are just the headline grabbers.

The old theodicy question arises again. How could a good God allow these assaults? Christians who sincerely believe God interevened to heal Aunt Victoria of a stroke may cringe at the suggestion that the same Omnipresent One also must have caused human and natural disasters, or at least tolerated the human treachry in the name of free will. But that's the implication of a faith that's consistent.

Deism always appears to provide a clean solution. God winds up the watch and lets it run from a remote location not unlike the owners's box in the former National Football League, without interference. But that leaves out personal experience of God, the hallmark of most Christianity, and posits a deity of chilling indifference. It isn't the God than Jesus mirrors. Yet the One manifested by Jesus is a selective micro-manager.

Rigali profile: explaining the man


One of the responses to Michael Sean Winters' posting today about Philadelphia and Cardinal Justin Rigali contains a link to a 2002 profile of the cardinal in the Riverfront Times, an alternative paper in St. Louis.

The piece was written by Jeannette Batz, a name that might be familiar to NCR readers. For a number of years she wrote a regular column for the paper. Batz is a wonderful writer, so the profile is worth it for the sheer pleasure of the read, but she is also a skilled and persistent researcher with an eye for telling detail and a talent for connecting dots that others might not even see.

Low crime, false prosperity in El Paso


Last week I spent several days in El Paso, Texas, my hometown, giving some talks on my new book Blowout! Sal Castro and the Chicano Struggle for Educational Justice (University of North Carolina Press). I'll write about this book in another blog, but what I want to relate in this one is my observations of conditions along this section of the U.S.-Mexico border.

For one, I was reminded of what a huge trans-border metropolitan region the El Paso-Ciudad Juárez area constitutes. El Paso now has a population of more than 700,000 while Juárez has one of close to 2 million.

Since my last visit two years ago, I felt this huge population. El Paso seemed more crowded and with much more traffic especially on the freeway where there is now bumper-to-bumper congestion.

The Tire Iron and the Tamale


Justin Horner writes a piece in the Lives section of the New York Times magazine that recounts three instances of getting stranded in his car during the past year. Many people passed him by. Each time, it was only a Mexican immigrant who stopped to help.

Horner realizes a truth that I, and so many who have worked with the poor and marginalized, know well. Very often the most disenfranchised and persecuted members of our society are also the most generous and compassionate.

Horner’s story of a particular encounter with a Mexican family would be a wonderful companion piece to the gospel of Luke. Not only is it a living illustration of the Beatitudes, it could also be understood as a modern twist on the Good Samaritan parable.

Catholic Schools: Time for a new model?


As a product of Catholic schools, I have a bit of emotional attachment to what they represent and the enormous contribution they've made to the culture.
But two stories on NCR's Daily Briefing blog, here and here raise anew questions about whether Catholic schools as we have known them are sustainable.
Declining enrollment, a drop in the number of schools and the inability of parishes and parents to finance them properly keep calling into question whether Catholic education will survive.
I don't know the state of the national conversation, or whether one is even being conducted, but I venture to ask, for two reasons, if it isn't time to rethink the system.

Replacing St. Vincent's Catholic Medical Center in NYC


Out of the ashes of bankruptcy and closure of the last Catholic acute care hospital in New York City, comes luxury condos and an emergency-medicine center to be run by the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System, the Wall Street Journal is reporting today:

The Rudin family, one of New York's richest landlords, has agreed to buy most of the sprawling three-acre site along Seventh Avenue in Greenwich village. It plans 300 apartments and five townhouses there.

And North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System is putting up $100 million to renovate the O'Toole building on Seventh Avenue and turn it into a medical complex, with a 24-hour emergency medical department.

The Rudin family also will pay $10 million to North Shore-LIJ toward the building's renovation and between $5 million and $10 million to pay for a public park at the St. Vincent's triangle.

The deal must be approved by the bankruptcy court next month. But the hospital's board of directors and its creditors have signed off on it, St. Vincent's chief restructuring officer, Mark Toney, said.

Is Gadhafi the Next Amin?


Moammar Gadhafi should face “personal responsibility for his brutal atrocities,” Thomas and Margaret Melady write in today’s Washington Times.

“The Obama administration and European leaders are considering various options of geopolitical and military action to end the Gadhafi nightmare,” say the husband and wife co-authors of "Idi Amin: Hitler in Africa" (1977). “These are all appropriate state actions, but they do not address the fact that another state leader may escape personal responsibility for his brutal atrocities.”

Thomas Melady, an occasional NCR contributor, served as US ambassador to Uganda in the early 1970s and as George H.W. Bush’s ambassador to the Vatican.

Let there be Light! (Incandescent or Florescent?)


I’ve been using compact florescent bulbs in my house for at least ten years. They save energy and money. They work very well, and last a long time. Some I haven’t changed in 10 years.

But you’d never know their advantages if you watch the “Battle of the Bulbs” in Washington these days. Three House Republicans, Joe Barton and Michael Burgess of Texas and Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, together with Senator Mike Enzi of Wyoming, have introduced legislation to repeal a 2007 U.S. law which phases out the old incandescent light bulbs in favor of alternatives which save energy, like compact fluorescents and LED’s.

This is another assault against environmentalists and their allies in Congress. And although the Congresspersons who are urging this repeal probably don’t see it this way, it is also an assault on every religious denomination, including Catholicism, that teaches energy conservation as a moral issue in our common quest to save the planet.


Subscribe to NCR Today

Friends of NCR 300x80 web ad.jpg

NCR Email Alerts


In This Issue

October 9-22, 2015


Some articles are only available in the print newspaper and Kindle edition.