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State of the union Ö state of the church?


I listened, as I do every year, to the President’s State of the Union message. I agreed with most of it … and I always love to hear Obama’s oratory because it is stirring, and it always exhibits some of the cadences of “black preaching.” This year, it was — at least in part — a call to be the best that we can be as a nation, especially in our education and in our innovative spirit.

But the speech set me to wondering: What if someone delivered a “State of the Church” address?

A bishop, a nun, a hospital and a holy war


In a piece titled Tussling Over Jesus, New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof writes about Bishop Thomas Olmsted stripping St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix of its Catholic affiliation.

Kristof sees Phoenix as "a bellwether of a profound disagreement that is playing out at many Catholic hospitals around the country. These hospitals are part of the backbone of American health care, amounting to 15 percent of hospital beds."

I have to note, as well, that Kristof quotes NCR's own columnist Jamie Manson and NCR editor Thomas C. Fox. In fact, he begins his piece by quoting Manson:

Church's voice needed for life after birth


Like I did, you may think you have a pretty good idea just how many American children are born out of wedlock. If you're like me, you'd be way, way off.

An editorial in USA TODAY lays out the staggering statistics: in 2009, 41 percent of American children were born to unmarried mothers, up from five percent half-a-century ago.

Break it down and it looks even worse: 73 percent of non-Hispanic black children, and 54 percent of Hispanic children.

One word not in the State of the Union


This word cloud shows which words were used most frequently in President Obama's State of the Union address last night: "people," "new," "jobs."

One word that does not appear in the text at all: "poor."

That is telling, especially in the middle of (or at the tail end of) a recession in which so many people are hurting.

(Thanks to the CNN commentator who mentioned this last night. I doublechecked with a search of the text.)

President Obama in his comfort zone


Watching President Obama’s State of the Union address last night, I couldn’t help but feel the comfort level that he seemed to exude. The speech seemed similar in tone to his Tucson one that received widespread support and has bolstered his popularity rating.

The tone and substance of both speeches have focused on national unity and addressing key problems in particular economic ones without partisan polarization.

But is this a new Obama? I don’t think so. I believe it is the real Obama.

These two speeches have been similar to his address to the Democratic Party convention in 2004 that brought the president into national prominence.

Remember one of his famous lines in that speech? “There are no red states or blue states, there is only the United States of America.”

The Tucson and the State of the Union are a continuation of that convention speech where Obama attempts to transcend partisanship and represents himself as the Great Unifier.

Obama, it seems to me, is at his best and seems more comfortable not leading the Democratic Party, but as a good lawyer bringing together disputing sides. His comfort level is best mediating rather than leading a fight.

Morning Briefing



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November 20-December 3, 2015


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