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Jim Wallis on \"The Daily Show\"

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If you haven't already seen it, check out Jim Wallis, editor of Sojourners magazine and author of the new book, Rediscovering Values, as interviewed last week by Jon Stewart on "The Daily Show" here.

Wallis suggests to Stewart that bank executives send their massive bonuses to Haiti. In the book, he argues that the solution to the economic crisis is for Americans to regain their moral compass, especially around issues of consumption and consumerism.

He's a strong moral voice worth listening to--and reading.

One of the world's great contemplatives

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Mark Twain wrote that his masterpiece Huckleberry Finn was a hymn set down in prose to give it a more worldly air. Besides being a wonderfully entertaining tale of a boy's odyssey down the Mississippi River in the pre-Civil War era in America, the book is also an illumination, a wise vision with a depth and mysteriousness that adds greatly to its appeal.

A few pages into the story and we realize we're in the middle of masterfully interwoven texture of character and event. Taken as a whole the book is like a hymn -- a celebration of life's comedy and tragedy and of the natural world. It easily infects us with reserves of enthusiasm.

No one fails so pitifully to live up to the expectations of respectable society as Huck Finn. Yet there beats within him a heart filled with compassion. Huck sends help back to two would-be murderers who are stranded on a wrecked steamboat. He feels pity for two swindlers who have been caught and punished by an outraged town. His love for his companion on the river, Jim, knows no bounds.

Good news from Burma

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The Burmese junta is hinting that Aung San Suu Kyi will be released from house arrest in November and Tin Oo, the vice chairman of Suu Kyi's political party, the National League for Democracy, could be released in February.

Tin Oo is 82 and has been in prison or under house arrest for more than a decade. Suu Kyi has been detained for 14 of the past 20 years.

The junta has an election scheduled for this year, though no date is set. It needs participation from the National League of Democracy to lend the election a semblance of legitimacy.

Catholic business schools in top 100

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The Financial Times of London has released its 12th annual ranking of business schools in Europe and the United States. To be eligible, the schools must be part of an accredited university, with full-time Masters of Business Administration degrees.

The London Business School is ranked No. 1. On the Catholic front, Georgetown University comes in No. 38, Boston College No. 47, Notre Dame No. 71, and University College Dublin No. 98.

Pax Christi USA calls for interns

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Here's one for college age students looking for some great work experience:

Pax Christi USA has announced in a press release that they are accepting interns at their Washington, DC office for a new year-long program.

The organization, which calls itself 'the national Catholic peace movement,' is looking for college-age students who will help with outreach to students and young adults.

“Interns will work out of our D.C. office, but their presence will go well beyond that,” said Dave Robinson, executive director of the organization, in the press release. “They also are living in community, overseeing Pax Christi USA’s internship house, and offering hospitality and communal witness as part of the program.”

If you're interested, it's definitely worth a look. Click here for the full release and contact info.

Hippie-esque, \"granola-crunching\" bohemians

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Here's something to look into:

The ethics of organic farming

Do organic farms, and the organic food industry in general, represent a distinctive social and environmental approach to agriculture? Do they incorporate a unique set of ecological and spiritual values, or merely reflect, on a smaller scale, the same dog-eat-dog, "survival of the fittest" approach of their behemoth agribusiness cousins?

These are questions that will be seeded Jan. 28-31 at the 29th annual Guelph Organics Conference (www.guelphorganicconf.ca), one of the largest such gatherings in North America. There, CEOs of multi-million-dollar organic food companies will share food and reflection with small-scale local organic farmers in a harvesting of concerns and ideas, as the organic food business, once perceived as a hippie-esque pastime for "granola-crunching" bohemians, has grown into a burgeoning multi-billion-dollar industry.

Diocese of Cleveland follows Springfield's lead

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Last week I noted that the City of Springfield, Mass., unanimously voted to create an historic district thereby preventing the demolition of a beautiful church. The diocese then sued the city.

Now we have the same dynamic playing out in Cleveland, according to a story in today's Columbus Dispatch:

"The Roman Catholic Diocese of Cleveland says it doesn't want the city to grant landmark status to its churches.

Cleveland's Landmarks Commission is recommending that six Catholic churches be designated as historical city landmarks, which would give them some protection against demolition or structural changes."

The diocese is considering closing four of the six churches because of a priest shortage. If they're declared historic they could be difficult to sell.

Jan. 25, The Conversion of St. Paul

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Today is the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, Apostle.

Pope Benedict XVI, in his General Audience on Sept. 3, 2008, gave a catechesis on the Conversion of St. Paul that should reassure those frightened or scandalized by scripture scholarship. "Much has been written about it and naturally from different points of view."

The Pope mentions the "two types of source": the three accounts of the Conversion provided by the author of the Acts of the Apostles, and the words of Paul himself in his Letters. The Pope, obviously aware of the fact that Acts was written at least fifty years after the Conversion of St. Paul, reminds the "average reader" not to "linger too long on certain details, such as the light in the sky, falling to the ground," etc. He prefers the "actual Letters", in which are found "the essentials" of the story: Paul saw Jesus; Paul was "a witness to the Resurrection of Jesus".

Five Catholic Supreme Court justices abandon justice

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Anyone you know have $26 million to make your case in Congress? That's the sum U.S. banks spent last year making their desires known on the hill.

Now with the lid off corporte campaign spending, that number is likely to increase. President Obama is now taking on banks, arguing they need to be regulated to avoid a repeat of the greed and self-interest that blew up the economy last year. Does he have a chance?

The squeeze by big money to take an even better grip on our financial life and institutions is only going to get tighter. Meanwhile, money and power continue to be sucked up the financial pyramid, long since having been drained out of the lives of the unemployed and now being taken out of the lives of debtor, foreclosed families.

So much for helping to create a national ethos that advocates fairness or the common good.

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August 15-28, 2014

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