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Back to 1984

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The story below reminds me of an incident with my sons a couple years back. We were visiting grandma and I heard of roars of laughter coming from the family room. I walked in to find them pointing to a rotary phone, which was my primary link to the outside world as a teenager.

"Dad, have you seen this? Does this work? How old is this thing? This must be from the 1900s."

Journalism professor asks students to go five days without modern technology.

A professor at the University of Minnesota asked her students to turn off their iPods, cell phones and laptops and turn on the 8-track players, landlines and typewriters.

Last month, Heather LaMarre, assistant professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, asked the students in her principles of strategic communication course to go five days without using technology created after 1984.

Leviticus 19: 33-34

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One of the most heartening things about the immigrants rights movement today is the involvement by U.S. citizens who are people of faith. Thousands turned out in the streets around the country -- side by side with immigrants -- to demand humane immigration reform and to express outrage at Arizona legislation that cracks down on immigrants. The concern for immmigrants' rights is mirrored in migration theology, a growing area of scholarship that examines what the Bible has to say about how we treat "the stranger among us."

Migration theologians frequently cite Leviticus 19: 33-34. "When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the Lord your God."

The focus of migration theology is on the treatment of the "alien" in terms of charity and justice; they need our help and, according to the Biblical tradition of hospitality, we must respond. (See NCR, September 18, 2009, "Theology in the Age of Migration.")

Chaplain to the Status Quo

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It should not surprise that my reaction to Bishop Gene Robinson’s op-ed in the Washington Post is different from the glowing account rendered by my colleague Maureen Fiedler below. To correct the record, this was not a letter to Pope Benedict, although it pretended to be; Letters are sent by post, not in The Post.

It was a bit comic that Bishop Robinson said he would not presume to offer unsought advice to the Pontiff, and then proceeded to do precisely that. Almost as comic as the way he pats himself and his confreres on the back for their courage in changing the culture of his church and then goes on to list the actions they took to root out sexual abuse, all of which seemed remarkably similar to what the USCCB did at Dallas, a fact the bishop fails to mention..

Coverage of the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill

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The Natural Resources Defense Council Web site has a page devoted to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, with their own on-the-ground coverage together with many excellent articles that describe the disaster and its implications and meaning, including a thoughtful piece by Lisa Margonelli, which appeared in the New York Times -- "Driving Oil Dependence Down."

Other articles include "Which Would You Choose: Offshore Wind or Oil?"; "The Impact of the Oil Spill on Community"; and "From Canada to the Gulf Coast: The Unhealthy Tale of Petroleum," and many others. NRDC has called for a time out on new offshore drilling activities.

Take action by going to the Sierra Club's Web action page site, "Say NO to more dirty, dangerous offshore drilling."

Most read stories in April

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The most read stories on the NCR web site in April were, far away, the two stories Jason Berry filed about Fr. Maciel and the Legion of Christ: and . Following this stories were:


  1. NCR Today, our group blog

  2. Vatican disses one of its own on sex abuse, about Colombian Cardinal Dario Castrillón Hoyos

  3. Greensburg bishop denies women's order recruitment request

  4. Is middle ground possible on the Pope?, a column by John Allen

Episcopal bishop writes to the pope

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Sunday’s Washington Post printed an open letter from Episcopal Bishop V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire to Pope Benedict XVI. Robinson is an openly gay bishop. He has been the center of controversy in his own church in recent years as it debated the ordination of openly gay and lesbian priests and bishops. (The Episcopal Church has since approved that policy, and is now in the process of welcoming its first lesbian bishop. Mary Glasspool).

Robinson’s letter to the pope focused on sex abuse, and he shared the problems that the Episcopal church once faced -- and they sound a lot like those the Roman Catholic church faces today in Europe and Latin America. Then, he outlined the steps the Episcopal church took to deal with the problem, saying that “we sought to change our church’s culture -- an effort that took no small amount of courage.”

Nicholas Kristof, Times' columnist, again praises work of 'lowly' women religious and priests

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For the second time in two weeks New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof has singled out the inspirational Christian works being done by largely unknown women religious and priests in some of the most impoverished areas of the world. His overall point in a column published April 17th and his newest column, published May 2nd, in The New York Times is this: if the top leadership of the church has strayed from its roots, much of its base is still deeply inspiring.

Thank you, Nicholas, for sharing with your readers what NCR readers have known for so many years: Our church is filled with men and women, lay, religious and clergy, who are living selfless lives on behalf of countless marginalized and vulnerable human beings.

Vatican statement on Maciel, Legionaries

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Today the Vatican released a comminque summarizing the results of a year-long investigation of the Legionaries of Christ, indicating that Pope Benedict XVI will shortly appoint a special delegate to lead the order and a commission to review its founding documents.

The language of today's statement is remarkably blunt, referring to a "system of power" created by the founder of the Legionaries, Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado, designed to hide "true crimes" and a private life "without scruples or authentic religious sentiment." The statement indicated that the Legionaries must follow a "path of purification," including a "sincere encounter" with victims of sexual abuse inside and outside the order.

After years of denial, the Legionaries have recently been forced to acknowledge that Maciel lived a double life, including having a child out of wedlock with a woman with whom he was in a long-term relationship and to whom he provided financial support. Maciel has also been accused of sexual abuse of former members of the order.

Immigration Reform and Gay Rights

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Cathy Grossman over at USAToday has a post up about the letter from Bishop Wester, chair of the USCCB Committee on Migration, that offered conditional support for the “framework” for immigration reform legislation, presented yesterday by Sen. Harry Reid. She called me for comment, which I did, but I want to elaborate.

A couple of things are striking here. First, the “framework” emerged almost overnight. It appears to have been devised not so much as an authoritative first draft of comprehensive legislation but as an effort to reap the Arizona press whirlwind. Second, the quickness of Wester’s response shows how seriously the USCCB takes the issue of immigration reform. Third, as Grossman points out, there is the issue of how to treat same-sex couples under the immigration law.

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