A couple of weeks ago I was wandering around Barnes & Noble bookshop next to the movie theater where I see many of the films that I review. I was with one of the sisters of my community. After a few minutes she called out to me and said, “Hey, look at this; it’s really funny.” She held up Christian Lander’s Stuff White People Like: The Definitive Guide to the Unique Taste of Millions (Random House, 2008, $14.00).
In the world of allegory, no one was better named than Oral Roberts. Everything he achieved during his 91 year life, which ended yesterday, issued from the thunder of his vocal chords.
The rest was a function of hands that reached out to heal the lines of supplicants stricken with the variety of afflictions from cancer to epilepsy. Many came away declaring that they had been made whole.
He pitched tents to call the people of his land, in and around his home base in Oklahoma, to prayer. His voice box was the equivalent of rock music's full volume. It wasn't only loud; it had emotion, color and texture.
He didn't hide these ministries under the proverbial bushel. There he was, on real-time television, preaching and healing for the world to see. A hire wire act that, whatever else it was, took plenty of courage.
Roberts is described, rightly, as "controversial" in the obituaries. He did some weird things in the name of the faith. He was big on "prosperity"; that trust in God would make you rich. He named a university after himself and stored up much grain in his barns.
"As the thousandth year of our Lord's becoming flesh approaches, I yearn to behold this day, which knows no evening, in the forecourt of our Lord. I want to be dissolved in Christ."
--the Empress Adelaide to Odilo, Abbot of Cluny
She missed seeing the year 1000 by fifteen days. St. Adelaide died on Dec. 16, 999.
For details about the religious and political context in which the most powerful woman in Europe flourished, search for "Adelaide" in A.D. 1000: A World on the Brink of Apocalypse, by Richard Erdoes. (Introduction by Karen Armstrong.)
Two weeks ago, I wrote about a draft bill in Uganda’s parliament which would decree the death penalty for homosexuality under some circumstances, and would also establish prison terms for anyone who fails to report homosexuals to the authorities. Those provisions have drawn wide international criticism, even from fairly conservative Christian leaders who clearly sympathize with the aim of promoting faithful heterosexual marriage, such as Rick Warren and several signers of the recent "Manhattan Declaration."
The latest development is that in mid-December, the Interreligious Council of Uganda, the country’s major inter-faith body – one which includes the Catholic Church – came out in support of the bill.
Irish Columban missionary Fr. Sean McDonagh sends this report:
"It was snowing heavily this morning when I left the Franciscan house in Roskilde, a town about 45 minutes by train from Copenhagen. I was hoping and praying that we would not have to queue for two hours today before getting into the Bella Center, where the climate change conference is being held. My daily routine begins with a train journey into the centre of Copenhagen, where I then catch the metro to the Bella Center. As I boarded the Metro, an announcement over the public address system told us that the Metro at the Bella Center had been closed because of crowd density. They advised those heading for the Bella Center to get off the Metro at the station before the Bella Center and walk the rest of the way. On hearing that my heart sunk to my boots, and I seriously considered going back to the center of Copenhagen where the non-governmental organization (NGO) events were being held.
I received my Winter 2009-10 issue of Nukewatch in the mail this week. Thank goodness -- and the spirit of Nukewatch guardian angel, the late Sam Day -- this feisty publication keeps going.
I got to know Sam Day during his Missouri visits in the 1980s when Nukewatch was mapping the 1,000 land-based missiles that then dotted seven Midwestern and Great Plains states, some of the sites just southeast of Kansas City. The effort ended in publication of the 1988 Nukewatch classic, "Nuclear Heartland."
President Obama has signaled to the leaders of Congress that they should do what it takes to close the deal with moderate Senators on health care reform. Already this has meant throwing the public option overboard. A group of ten senators – five liberals and five moderates – crafted a compromise last week that ditched the public option but gave liberals some satisfaction by permitting a buy-in to Medicare for those over 55 who can’t get coverage elsewhere. The buy-in, too, appears to be on the chopping block now.
The President is right to push for a deal. The public option always has enjoyed more comment and concern than it deserved, a useful tool to drive down costs but not really a meaningful step towards a single-payer plan. The Medicare buy-in, on the other hand, is really a good idea. Democrats should let is go to pass the current bill, and then immediately begin campaigning on “Medicare for All.” Call it a reform of the reform. Make it a central part of their campaign for next year’s midterms. But, don’t let it get in the way of a deal now.
I watched Frank Capra’s classic "It’s A Wonderful Life" on Saturday and it is no surprise that the film has even more resonance this year, as the country still struggles with recession and war.
The film famously flopped when it was first released in 1946. Usually, the reason given for its initial lack of success is a belief that the material was too dark for the American public. After a decade of Depression and half a decade of war, audiences weren’t eager to embrace a story about a guy contemplating killing himself on Christmas Eve.
The Ice Bear Project was created by British sculptor Mark Coreth to give artistic form to the climate change affecting the polar ice caps. The life-sized Ice Bear is located in a public square in Copenhagen during the COP15 Climate Change Conference.