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Lou Dobbs: Good Riddance!

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Readers will have detected, I hope, a certain attentiveness to the ambiguities of life, including the life of faith, in my sense of the world. The “all or nothing” disposition of some is rarely accurate and almost never helpful. There is often a lot of pride in a good deed and misplaced hope in some bad ones. Life is messy, filled with conundrums, and navigating the moral choices we face and formulating the moral conclusions as human beings is the price we pay for being human.

But, the news that Lou Dobbs has been pushed out of his high profile perch at CNN is the exception to the rule. It is good news, pure and simple, no ambiguities involved nor qualifications needed. He had become the most visible bigot in America, casting aspersions against Latinos, documented and undocumented, in his crusade against immigration reform. He indulged crackpot theories when he coddled the “birthers” who questioned whether or not President Obama had been born in the U.S. His understanding of economics was laughable in an eighteenth century kind of way. And, for someone who seemed positively fetishistic about the English language, he often mangled it horribly.

No eating Saturday

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Last month, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization released a study that said the number of hungry people in the world had reached 1.02 billion. Yesterday, UNICEF, the United Nations Children's Fund, released a report that said nearly 200 million children in poor countries have stunted growth because of insufficient nutrition.

The reports come ahead of a U.N. sponsored world summit on food security in Rome Nov. 16-18. The Vatican announced that Pope Benedict XVI would attend the opening session.

Vatican conference discusses extraterrestrial life and its implications for Catholic theology

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Four hundred years after it put astronomer Galileo under house arrest for challenging the view that the Earth was the center of the universe, the Vatican has called in experts to study the possibility of extraterrestrial life and its implications, if discovered, for the Catholic church.

"The questions of life's origins and of whether life exists elsewhere in our universe are very suitable and deserve serious consideration," said Jesuit Fr. Jose Gabriel Funes, director of the Vatican Observatory. Funes presented the results Nov. 10 of a five-day conference that gathered astronomers, physicists, biologists and other experts to discuss the new field of astrobiology -- the study of the origin of life and its existence elsewhere in the universe. See Catholic News Service story

Ave Maria U. bans blogger from campus

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HT to Jim Romenesko with this story from the Naples Daily News:

Ave Maria University says Marielena Montesino de Stuart "has demonstrated an ongoing and open hostility toward Ave Maria University," so she's not allowed on parts of campus.

The school barred Stuart, who is a resident of Ave Maria Town, from a news conference on campus.

The blogger responds: "This is another way in which the university's administration silences public opinion, which is a violation of our constitutional rights."

In a guest commentary in the Daily News on Feb, 17, 2009, Stuart wrote that as an orthodox Catholic she felt persecuted in Ave Maria. She and her husband moved their family to Ave Maria because they thought it represented a return to traditional Catholic higher education. But “we found that the Catholic orthodoxy that had been advertised was suddenly under attack by the same administration that had promoted it.”

So much for the 'irrelevance' of the bishops

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tPassage of the Stupack Amendment in the House of Representatives, applying existing bans on federal funding for abortion to any new government health programs, has left pro-choice activists fuming. The primary villains of the piece, in their eyes, are the Catholic bishops of America.

The Associated Press has a story today quoting Eleanor Smeal of the Feminist Majority to the effect that the bishops “dictated” the outcome, and that it’s “totally inappropriate … blatant interference between church and state.” In a similar vein, Rep. Diana DeGette, a pro-choice Democrat from Colorado, said, “No one group should get to dictate the outcome of legislation in Congress … I don’t think one group should be given veto authority over what we do.”

tOne can obviously debate the merits of the bishops’ role, but for now I want to put this story to a different use: As an object lesson in the hazards of predicting the future.

tTrying to get a handle on the future of Catholicism is, of course, the raison d’être of The Future Church, which makes the caution I'm about to deliver all the more topical.

How to celebrate the fall of the wall

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With all the coverage of the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, I tried to think of a way to commemorate this historic, history-changing event that happened 20 years ago. A generation ago. Anyone 30 years old and younger probably has no emotional link with images of a bunch of young people dancing while they tore down a far away wall covered in graffiti.

I grew up under the Red Menace; like many others reading this blog. I imagine you, too, practiced what to do should the sirens signal an attack. My dad started digging a bomb shelter in the backyard of our house in San Diego but as the Cuban Missile crisis ebbed, he decided to use the five gallon water jugs he bought for storage for home brew instead. How quickly we forget.

Nov. 11, St. Martin of Tours and Venerable Catherine McAuley

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Today, Veterans Day, is the feast of a patron of soldiers, St. Martin of Tours.

When Martin was a young soldier in a cavalry unit of the Roman army, he "happened to meet at the gate of the city of Amiens a poor man destitute of clothing. . . . Martin . . . had nothing except the cloak in which he was clad, for he had already parted with the rest of his garments for similar purposes. Taking, therefore, his sword with which he was girt, he divided his cloak into two equal parts, and gave one part to the poor man, while he again clothed himself with the remainder. . . . In the following night, when Martin had resigned himself to sleep, he had a vision of Christ arrayed in that part of his cloak with which he had clothed the poor man. . . . Ere long, he heard Jesus saying with a clear voice to the multitude of angels standing round -- 'Martin, who is still but a catechumen, clothed me with this robe.'"

--from Sulpicius Severus, "On the Life of St. Martin"

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