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An antidote to Islamophobia: christian history

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Do you have a friend who constantly links terrorism to Islam? Who even thinks that violence is in the DNA of Islam?

You might give that friend the gift of a new book by the noted church historian, Philip Jenkins. It’s called: Jesus Wars: How Four Patriarchs, Three Queens, and Two Emperors Decided What Christians Would Believe for the Next 1,500 Years.

The fading WASP

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Today's Wall Street Journal has an interesting story, That Bright, Dying Star, the American WASP, about the long decline of the influence of the Protestant elite.

"The fact that we're going to zero Protestants in the [Supreme} Court may not be as significant as the fact that [Elena Kagan's] appointment perfectly reflects the decline of the Establishment, or the WASP Establishment, in America," said David Campbell, associate professor of political science at the University of Notre Dame."

With so many Catholics at the pinnacle of office - in politics and business, are we at a tipping point ourselves?

Signs of the times

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There's a Jesuit priest here in Los Angeles who anxiously needs a little Hugh Hefner in his life. And, no, that's not what I'm talking about.

The priest is Fr. Greg Boyle, a local hero for the lives he's saved from the vise-grip of gangland -- placing homeboys and homegirls in jobs, getting them counseling, keeping them on the straight line to something resembling a better life. His organization -- Homeboy Industries -- helps 12,000 young men and women move away from the violent life each year.

Watching old movies

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It seems that just about everyone has a few favorite movies they can watch over and over. I caught one of my favorites on television the other evening - director Tom McTiernan’s 1990 The Hunt for Red October. It is the first in novelist Tom Clancy’s series about the Catholic educated Soviet-era analyst-turned-president Jack Ryan (Alec Baldwin here, then Harrison Ford took over). Even though the film was released as the totalitarian Iron Curtain was disintegrating, the intelligent cat-and-mouse game between the captain of a Soviet nuclear sub and Jack Ryan and a US nuclear sub still makes for great viewing no matter how many times I see it.

Take me out to the Ballgame

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I coached my share of terrible CYO basketball and baseball teams so I’ve got some sympathy for Michael Kman, the onetime basketball coach of Our Lady of Lourdes in Enola, PA who now faces criminal charges for trying to fix some games. Apparently Kman thought his team was not getting a fair shake from the referees so he offered them $2,500 to ensure victory.

When I coached my kids’ teams we were so bad that the refs and umpires always tilted toward us – mostly out of sympathy – though it never made any difference in the outcome. We always, or almost always, lost. In fact, it would have cost me more than $2,500, much more, to put a game in our win column.

But there was one game where this was not the case.

I was coaching my youngest son’s seventh grade baseball team and we were to play, ironically enough, Our Lady of Lourdes (this one from Bethesda, MD.)

Unforeseen consequences

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Church closures spell hard times for candle maker

By Rick Moriarty, Religion News Serivce

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- One of this city's oldest candle makers is planning to slash its work force in part because of decreased demand from a shrinking number of Catholic churches to buy its products.

Emkay Candle told its 46 employees that as many as 38 of them will be laid off in 90 days. That would leave just eight people to make candles at the company, which has been making them at the same location since its founding in 1925.

The School Case in Boston

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Tom Roberts has the report on the main page about the situation in Boston where a student was denied enrollment in a parochial school because his parents are lesbians.

The most important thing about the statement issued by the Archdiocese of Boston was that it focused exclusively on what is best for the child. That is what schools should do, and it is heartening to know that this was the focus of the Archdiocesan Superintendent of Schools, Mary Grassa O’Neil. She did not seek to blame the pastor, she did not castigate the parents, she said what needed to be said: we will help find a good school for this child and our schools are open to all children.

Amid the crisis, seminarians head to ordination

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The Washington Post today carries a deeply human depiction of seminarians on the brink of ordination as the sex abuse scandal goes global.

Central to the story is Msgr. Steven Rohlfs, the seminary's rector, who had overseen this class for the past six years. Rohlfs is excited for the 24 young men approaching ordination; he also fears for them.

According to the story by William Wan, Rohlfs "had often told them about the job he'd held before becoming the seminary's rector -- the one that sent him to bed many nights a broken man. For seven years, he had investigated priests accused of sex abuse" in the Diocese of Peoria, Ill., before coming to Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Emmetsburg, Md. The piece includes frank interviews with seminarians about sacrifices involved in leaving careers and other ambitions and about dealing with celibacy.

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