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Condescension on Left & Right

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The DC blizzard has resulted in, among other things, getting your Sunday paper on Monday afternoon. The Post’s “Outlook” section gave top billing to an article by Gerard Alexander entitled “Why are liberals so condescending?” which examined the ways that liberals dismiss conservative ideas rather than engaging them.

Alexander is on to something. There is a sense of intellectual and moral superiority among some on the left, and it truly does impede political decision-making. That said, chastising politicians for considering politics is hardly a uniquely liberal or conservative monopoly and, besides, if you spent five minutes with a member of Congress, you would prefer they stick to politics and not dabble in, say, theology.

The 'socially important' movie

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Nearly every Academy Awards season, the Oscar nominations bring to the forefront a small film deemed to be "socially important," a film of supposedly searing insight into the human condition, a film that - in short - cannot be ignored. These movies often tell us more about the Hollywood elite (i.e., Academy voters) than they do about any real social condition.

This year's anointed picture is "Precious," often described in reviews as a fairly brutal depiction of the life of an obese and illiterate black teenager who has two children by her father. Films like "Precious" garner critical attention and Academy nods not as films -- the acclaim is not really for script, plot, direction or cinematography. "Precious" is celebrated for what it allegedly reveals to us about the hidden sides of society we choose not to see. But does it?

Gotta Love the Tea Party Crowd

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One of the few nice things about losing power around noon on Saturday during the blizzard, and not getting it back until 1 a.m. the next morning, was that I did not have to decide whether or not to watch the Tea Party Convention on C-Span. I was especially torn about watching Sarah Palin’s address to the assembled Tea Partiers. The reason for this ambivalence is essentially hereditary: My father is a bit of an ambulance chaser. He likes to see what is going on and can’t seem to tear his eyes away from a car wreck. If you are stuck in traffic because of rubber-necking as people watch the remains of an accident on the other side of the road, one of those rubber-neckers is my dad. Watching Palin address the Tea Party crowd promised to have all the high drama and the bloody mess of a car crash.

Feb. 8, Bl. Jacoba de Settesoli

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St. Francis of Assisi asked that a letter be sent to "the beloved Lady Jacoba of Settesoli," informing her of his impending death and asking her to bring "a shroud of hair-cloth in which to wrap my body, and wax for the burial. I pray thee, likewise, that thou bring to me some of that food which thou wast wont to give me when I was in Rome."

But God had already revealed to Jacoba that Francis was dying, and now God revealed to Francis that Jacoba knew. "Do not write more, for it is not necessary."

An unusual Vatican event marks Kasper's (not-quite) swan song

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tBoth in style and in substance, a highly unusual Vatican meeting is taking place this week in the offices of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. In terms of content, the Feb. 8-10 event brings together leading Catholic minds with their counterparts in the Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist and Reformed traditions, for a sort of “state of the union” consideration of the entire ecumenical project, meaning the effort to put the divided Christian family back together again.

That’s a departure from normal practice in two senses. First, the Vatican normally conducts ecumenical conversation in bilateral fashion, one church at a time. Second, those dialogues are usually focused on some specific topic – Mary, for example, or the Bible, or authority in the church. This time, the field is wide open.

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In This Issue

July 17-30, 2015

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