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The color of faith

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Time magazine (Jan. 11, 2010) has an interesting article on how some Evangelical megachurches are bridging the racial divide by making their parishes at least 20 percent multi-racial. The story centers on the work of Pastor Bill Hybels, founder and senior pastor at the Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago's northwest suburbs.

Some startling statistics are presented: According to Michael Emerson, a specialist on race and faith at Rice University, the proportion of American churches with 20 percent or more minority participation has languished at about 7.5 percnet for the past nine years. But among Evangelical churches with attendance of 1,000 people or more, the slice has more than quadrupled, from 6 percent in 1998 to 25 percent in 2007.

The hard-to-stomach decade

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With the end of 2009, a lot of people scrambled around, looking for something that defined the decade: the housing bust, the war on terror, perhaps Katrina. But none of that worked for me – none crystallized in one clear moment what 00’s were all about.

And then I saw it.

In Sunday’s Los Angeles Times. Page One. An article about stomach surgery.

For so many reasons, the national obsession with weight seems to symbolize much about the decade just passed: too many Americans indulged in record amounts of processed calories and then sought the quickest way out. To the honestly desperate, the morbidly obese, that answer became stomach-reduction (or stomach-stapling) surgery. This took the need for control and discipline out of the hands on the individual and placed it in the hands of a willing surgeon.

But now, according to the Los Angeles Times, the not-mobidly-obese want in on the action -- people with some weight to lose but not a life-threatening amount or diabetics unable to follow a nutrition regimen.

Chapel Veils? You've got to be kidding

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About a week ago, a friend of mine handed me the copy of a blog by someone who calls himself the “Catholic Knight.” It was an article saying that Catholic women are “required” to wear veils or head coverings in churches or chapels. It was not nuns he was talking about; it was all Catholic women!

As I read his very long piece, I realized that he is well acquainted with pre-Vatican II theology and biblical imagery. He spells out the traditional “Eucharistic” imagery he says is behind men not covering their heads, and women covering them. Just one crucial problem he overlooks: this may have been meaningful imagery for St. Paul, but it makes absolutely no sense in today’s world or today’s church. And it certainly makes no sense for today’s Catholic woman. What does headdress have to do with reverence for the Eucharist?

He dismisses the idea that attempts to veil women are due to male dominance. But he doesn’t make his case at all. When do Catholic women ever dictate what Catholic men will wear? My Muslim feminist friends would add a few interfaith insights on the same subject.

Brit Hume Goes Bonkers

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Fox News commentator Brit Hume has gone off the deep end, even by Fox News’ standards which are a pretty low bar. On the network’s Sunday show, Hume noted that Tiger Woods is a Buddhist but that he should “turn to the Christian faith” because only the Christian faith would provide him with the “forgiveness and redemption” the golf star so obviously needs.

Well, in seminary I was not exactly stellar at the pastoral care department, and I am a big fan of everyone becoming Christian. But, a person in crisis should probably not be counseled to abandon his or her own faith traditions unless the conversion was part of an organic process, not the result of advice offered on a Sunday talk show. Buddhism is not my cup of tea – I love creation and its delicacies too much – but it certainly embodies a means towards achieving forgiveness and redemption.

Feminist theologian Mary Daly dies

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Feminist theologian Mary Daly died Jan. 3. She was a radical feminist philosopher, academic, and theologian who taught at Boston College for 33 years. Daly consented to retire from Boston College in 1999, after violating university policy by refusing to allow male students in her Women's Studies classroom.

Read the full obituary here: tMary Daly, radical feminist theologian, dead at 81

Pomp to mark installation today of new Milwaukee archbishop

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The Archdiocese of Milwaukee gets a new archbishop today. LaCrosse, Wisconsin Bishop Jerome Listecki takes over from Timothy Dolan, who was installed April 15 as archbishop of New York. On the ecclesial scale, Listecki appears to the right of Dolan who was to the right of retired Milwaukee Archbishop, Rembert Weakland.

The installation, according to local reports, includes a solemn Mass by invitation only. Forty bishops and cardinals plus 200 priests are expected to participate -- plus civic and ecumenical leaders.

They get to sit up front.

On marriage

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Elizabeth Gilbert, guru to millions through her best-selling 2006 memoir, "Eat, Pray, Love" about her spiritual and geographical journey after her divorce, has a new book out on marriage.

"Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage" is about her government-forced marriage to her Brazilian boyfriend. I haven't read it yet, but enjoyed this discussion between Gilbert and Catholic author Ann Patchett in today's "Wall Street Journal."

Though she hardly has a sacramental view of marriage, Gilbert does ultimately believe the institution of marriage will endure:

2010: In with the New

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Yesterday, we looked back and examined the things we want less of in the new year and new decade. Today, let’s look forward and think of things we want more of in the coming years.

First, I want more pro-life Democrats and Republicans who are conscious of social justice issues. Those members of Congress like Democrat Bob Casey and Bart Stupak and Republican Anh Cao of Louisiana, the only Republican who voted for the bill in either chamber, find themselves at odds with the leadership of their political party. But, neither party is a perfect fit for the Catholic social justice tradition: The Dems have this huge gaping blind spot on abortion and the GOP is too busy trying to capitalism to notice its many inequities and indignities. Casey, Stupak and Cao are among those who actually embody the fullness of the tradition.

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September 12-25, 2014

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