Justin Bieber had better watch out. Decca Records, part of Universal Music, which counts Lady Gaga and U2 among its acts has just signed a major record deal with the nuns of the Abbaye de Notre-Dame de l'Annonciation, a reclusive order based near Avignon. In a global search of 70 convents throughout Europe, Africa, and the United States, this order of Benedictine nuns were deemed to have the finest Gregorian Chant singers.
The order's rules would not allow for Decca Records managing director Dickon Stainer to enter their home to congratulate them.However the alternative seemed to work just fine.
"I passed the contract through the grille, they signed it and passed it back," he said.
In a musical world where money symbols are a commonly accepted spelling for one's name, (as in Ke$ha) or "boom boom boom" are socially accepted lyrical art forms, one finds it incredibly refreshing to hear the sweet sounds of an album the artists merely hope will help listeners "find peace".
The sisters' album, Voice: Chant From Avignon, will be released in November.
Great insight into the Shirley Sherrod debacle on Michael Sean Winters Distinctly Catholic blog.
NPR's Michel Martin, in an interview with Winters, sees at the heart of the speech that was selectively snipped and sent out over the internet the religious language of personal conversion. Check it out.
You may have missed this on Friday. Friday afternoon, John Juhasz and his wife spent one hour talking with Bishop Richard Lennon at the Cleveland Diocese. They asked for three requests. In addition to re-opening their church, parishioners asked for their Priest to be reinstated and they asked the Bishop to host a "Mass of reconciliation."
It came a shock the week before last when a federal judge dismissed all charges in the government's high-profile prosecution of Douglas Perlitz, a graduate of Jeusit-run Fairfield University in Connecticut. The government had charged Perlitz with using an internationally known youth charity in Haiti that he founded to give him access to boys with whom he could have sex. Perlitz was well connected with Connecticut Catholics.
Climate change will have a significant impact on the sustainability of water supplies in the coming decades.
A new analysis, performed by consulting firm Tetra Tech for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), examined the effects of global warming on water supply and demand in the contiguous United States. The study found that more than 1,100 counties -- one-third of all counties in the lower 48 -- will face higher risks of water shortages by mid-century as the result of global warming. More than 400 of these counties will face extremely high risks of water shortages.
The document is available in .pdf form on the site.
Readers interested, as I am, in the intersection of faith and religion with modern science should be aware of physicist and science writer Chet Raymo's Science Musings blog. Raymo's weekly Science Musings appeared in the Boston Globe for 20 years. The column offered informed and provocative meditations on science as a creative human activity and celebrated the grandeur and mystery of the natural world.
Raymo's essays have taken to the Web. His postings will appeal to visitors who value reliable empirical knowledge of the world, yet retain a sense of reverence and awe for the complexity, beauty, and sometimes terror of nature.
This week's NCR editorial on the dilemma faced by American sisters defines the problem superbly and eloquently.
But I don't think its proposed solutions go far enough.
On the plus side, it asks for boldness by the Leadership Conference for Women Religious in standing up for its record and courage by bishops who support sisters them to step up and voice their advocacy in public.
Also, echoing a widespread effort, it encourages Catholic lay people to let Rome know how much the sisters have enriched Catholic life in America.
Two problems arise.
The first, and the more important, is that the editorial doesn't call for a protest against the sexism behind the crisis. Asking for character witnesses is fine, but inadequate, when the root of the crisis goes unmentioned.
What links the clerical sex abuse of children and the investigations of sister? I believe it is sex. A distorted view of sex that opens the door to both kinds of mistreatment.
Others more qualified than I am could trace the origins origins of this sexual development that has made both women and children into sexul objects who can be exploited in different, sometimes, overlapping ways.
As I reported on February 11, 2009, with the assistance of NCR's Editor at Large, Tom Roberts, the Redemptorist Fathers of the Baltimore Province lost a substantial amount of money invested for years with Bernie Madoff.
Besides an initial statement, the Redemptorist's immediately lawyered-up. I spoke at length with the Redemptorist's lawyer, who made a curious argument as to why he wouldn't tell me the actual amount of the investment loss. He compared my question to asking my neighbor how much my neighbor has in his checking account. In addition, the lawyer then began making an incredible argument under the U.S. Constitution that a religious order has a Free Exercise of Religion right to secrecy. I'm not kidding.