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Memory & Memorial Day

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It has been seventeen years since my friend Leon Wieseltier wrote an essay, “After Memory,” for the The New Republic to commemorate the opening of the Holocaust Memorial Museum. Unfortunately, TNR had a problem with its electronic archives a few years back, and you may need to trot to the library stacks to find it. It will be worth the effort.

Vatican's sex abuse prosecutor says church must amputate to heal

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When the innocence of children is “trampled upon, broken, sullied, abused, and destroyed,” then “the earth becomes arid and the whole world sad,” the Vatican’s top sexual abuse prosecutor said this morning in Rome.

tMonsignor Charles J. Scicluna indirectly critiqued the clerical culture in which abuser priests were routinely given second chances.

Challenges ahead for Vietnam

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Vietnam: Day Six

The interfaith delegation to Vietnam, of which I’m a part, concluded our week by meeting with a variety of officials in Hanoi, the capital. Invariably, Vietnamese government officials and the leaders of various non-governmental organizations greeted us warmly, thanked us for coming, served us the traditional tea and welcomed our efforts to enhance U.S./Vietnamese partnership over the issue of Agent Orange/dioxin.

Church shopping and the polarization of America

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Law professors, June Carbone and Naomi Cahn, wrote a recent book titled, "Red Families v. Blue Families: Legal Polarization and the Creation of Culture."

They suggest that "church shopping" is contributing to the polarization of the country.

They begin this essay with a shocking paragraph about Catholic women and abortion (see below), but the real nut of their research is here:

The figures underlie a striking change in the characteristics of American churches of all denominations: in the '60s, those showing up in church on Sunday might have represented a cross-section of American viewpoints; today, they are more likely to reflect traditionalist views, further driving modernists away from religion altogether -- and intensifying what some have called the “devotional divide” in American politics.

The difference in viewpoints between traditionalists and modernists is profound -- and has dramatic effects on today’s culture wars.

Vietnam: Track Two Diplomacy

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Vietnam: Day Five

How does one translate the human suffering we’ve witnessed into new policies and modes of cooperation between the peoples and governments of Vietnam and the United States?

That is the challenge of days five and six in Vietnam. We’ve seen and hugged the children with distorted limbs and enlarged heads and other birth defects that cry out for healing. We’ve walked on the toxic earth where the U.S. military sprayed Agent Orange/dioxin during the Vietnam War. As people of faith, we can easily describe our task as confessing “social sin,” and making reparations.

But such language does not work well in the world of diplomacy, especially when one party (the United States) refuses to accept responsibility for the effects of the toxin.

Where is the Cavalry Mr. Obama?

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The President listed many steps he is taking to prevent another catastrophe like the one occurring in the Gulf of Mexico, all of which make sense. But, the central difficulty the past few weeks, and the President knows this better than anyone, is that he government charged with protecting our shores lacks the technology to stop the oil gushing from the broken well, and must rely on the same company whose willingness to cut corners created the mess in the first place. None of the steps the president outlined address this difficulty.

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November 21-December 5, 2014

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