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Political change requires a new 'moral center'

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Jim Wallis of Sojourners is right on target again in a blog series he has written, titled "It Takes a Movement: The Next Steps."

In the last installment of the six-part series, Wallis challenges people of faith to create a “moral center” of power that can help steer our country forward.

This at a time when our leaders -- Democrats, Republicans and President Obama himself -- seem unable or unwilling to rise to meet the crises our country faces.

Wallis courageously takes on controversial issues and shows where religious folk on the left and right can find common ground for acting: People of faith want to reduce the numbers of abortions in American, he writes, “not with symbolic amendments or criminalizing desperate and tragic choices—but by preventing unwanted pregnancies and supporting low-income women.”

We must promote healthy families, Wallis says, not by scapegoating gays and bullying gay teens, but by “creating policies that build a culture of support for families.”

Local reaction to Kicanas controversy

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I've read a lot of reaction and analysis about the controversial USCCB election over the past days (some of the best of it right here and here on this very blog), but one of the most interesting was a true local reaction from a blogger for the Tuscon Citizen who used to work for the diocesan newspaper there.

Says "God Blogger" Renee Schafer Horton:

First, Kicanas is about as “liberal” as I am pope. He’s a moderate that leans slightly right. Trust me, I used to write for the Catholic paper here, and as a columnist, my views were moderate and leaning slightly left. I’ve spent plenty of time chatting with him about various issues and more times than not, Kicanas sides with (or at least gives in to) the more “conservative” wing of the Church.

She gives him "the liberal test":

START nuclear weapons treaty needs support now

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This from the U.S. women religious social network:

The fate of New START hangs in the balance. The ratification of the treaty signed by the presidents of the US and Russia on April 8 is dependent on its being brought to the Senate floor for a vote during the lame-duck session that starts November 15. Major efforts are being made to bring it to a vote but it won’t be done unless it is clear that New START has the 67 votes necessary for ratification. The Senate has already held 18 hearings and four briefings.

Tony Danza interrupts priest at New York funeral

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In the "you can't make this up" column is this story from the New York Post:

It could have been a funeral-home scene out of a "Sopranos" episode. At the wake for crime author Philip Carlo, Tony Danza angrily interrupted the priest, claiming he was talking too much about God and not enough about the best-selling biographer of mass murderers, including Richard Kuklinski and Richard Ramirez, during his eulogy.

A source at Thursday's wake at Peter C. La Bella Funeral Home in Bensonhurst said the priest -- "who said he was a substitute priest from a federal prison, which made some people smirk -- started to ramble on and on about religion, quoting the Bible and making mourners uncomfortable.

"Tony, who was one of Carlo's closest friends, walked right up to the priest and said angrily, 'Excuse me, but this is not about you. It's supposed to be about my friend, and if you can't do that, maybe you should let someone else speak!'

NCR thanks donors for generous support

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The National Catholic Reporter Board of Directors met in Milwaukee Nov. 4-5, just before the Call to Action National Conference.

During the busy days of strategic planning and discussion, the board took time to honor Rhoady and Jeanne Marie Lee for their remarkable commitment to Catholic philanthropy.

In this video, NCR editor Tom Fox presents an award to the Lees in recognition of their generous and ongoing support of NCR.

Can't see the video? View it here.

Koppel: Lack of facts signals the 'death of real news'

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I wrote yesterday about narcissism and politics -- how American self-absorption may lead us to make rash voting choices based not on facts but on self-centered emotions. (A lot of this is detailed by Jennifer Senior in New York magazine.)

This is not a partisan malady (or observation), and it doesn't just infect politics. In a recent opinion piece published by The Washington Post, former ABC News heavyweight Ted Koppel makes much the same argument in describing how journalistic standards have devolved into left-right talking heads who bicker on TV for fun and profit.

Koppel writes this new kind of hyper-partisan "news" comes from "a national sense of entitlement."

He goes on to say:

Amidst Dolan hubbub, easy to forget bishops are virtually powerless

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COMMENTARY

American media like church politics that slant vertically. They prefer top-down arrangements where authority flows from undisputed head to the obedient limbs. That makes it easier to define officially who's in and who's out, how to identify the approved teachings and to whom to show deference.

In theory, at least, the Catholic church has fit that description.

New politics of religion pivots on Islam, Obama

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By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.

Two insightful observers of the intersection of religion and politics in America, E.J. Dionne and Bill Galston, believe a “new politics of religion” emerged in the 2010 elections, the hallmarks of which are two forms of deep public ambivalence – about Islam, and about the religious beliefs of President Barack Obama.

According to a new poll from the Public Religion Research Institute,which forms the basis of the Dionne/Galston analysis, 45 percent of Americans agree that Islamic teachings and values are at odds with the American way of life.

Meanwhile, 51 percent regard Obama’s religious outlook as different from their own, while only 40 percent say the president's beliefs are similar to theirs. (Dionne and Galston said they deliberately wanted to go deeper than the stale question of how many Americans still believe, inaccurately, that Obama is a Muslim.)

Those findings were presented in a new Brookings Institution report authored by Dionne and Galston, which was released today. I was part of a group of journalists that got a sneak peek on Monday in Miami Beach, and there’s also much of interest in the report from a Catholic point of view.

Green your holidays

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You'll be celebrating during the holiday season, on Thanksgiving and around Christmas. While this is a time of joy and family reunion, so many of us get wrapped up in buying gifts, planning and attending parties and events, or competing with our neighbors for the best holiday decorations. All the hustle and bustle can mean that we forget to consider our impact on the environment as we go about our holiday activities.

You can travel green, eat green, give green, and party green. For tips on how to do this see Green Your Holidays, an offering of the EarthShare Web site.

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