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The importance of wellness programs

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Earlier this year I wrote a story titled, "Rightsizing the church: physical accountability," about the need for all Catholics to make healthier choices in their lives.

Today's Dallas News has a similar story. It offers an interesting strategy taking place in Texas dioceses.

"The Catholic Employee Benefit Group had such an issue. The Irving-based benefit supplier to the Texas dioceses' 1,100 employees and family members experienced annual medical cost increases of 20 to 30 percent.

The group's population is older and more male-dominated than a typical company's employee population; many priests, for example, work until age 75.

After Advance Plan for Health conducted a health assessment, it discovered that poor diabetes management among 10 percent of the Catholic group's population was driving 80 percent of its health care costs.

The Church Alive

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This past weekend I attended the annual Midwest Catholic Worker gathering in eastern Iowa. Summoned from across the country, over one-hundred and fifty Catholic Workers from twenty-seven different houses of hospitality came to share their experiences, find companionship, and join worship amid the rolling Iowa farmland.

Among this community I found a vision of the church that was stunning in its authenticity, vigor, and sense of renewal.

Obama's Healthy Skepticism

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During his tour of all five major Sunday news programs, President Obama addressed the situation in Afghanistan where the new commander is calling for more troops. President Obama selected General McChrystal for the job so it will be difficult not to take his advice, especially in the one theater that Obama expressed time and again was vital to American national security.

\"Beauty, wonder and belonging\"

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"The best way to know God is to love many things," said the artist
Vincent van Gogh. James Conlon’s new book, Beauty, Wonder and Belonging: A Book of Hours for the Monastery of the Cosmos, is a book of prayer, meditation and reflection about the many things that we can love in the universe.

Conlon is director of Holy Names University’s Sophia Center in Oakland, Calif. He is author of many books, including From the Stars to the Street and At the Edge of Our Longing. This new book invites readers to engage the rhythms of the day and of the seasons to explore the divine mystery in our lives and in our world. Bring to your prayer the curiosity of a child, the heart of a mystic and the voice of a prophet, Conlon counsels.

It is available from Wyndham Hall Press (orders@wyndhamhallpress.com) or at bookstores.

Oprah Winfrey honors Nigerian Jesuit

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Oprah Winfrey has named U.S. educated Nigerian Jesuit Fr. Uwem Akpan as her 63rd influential book club selection. Uwem Akpan said he was humbled to learn his debut collection of short stories had caught Oprah's eye.

Oprah said that Akpan's 2008 collection, Say You're One Of Them "left [her] stunned and profoundly moved".

This is the first short story selection Oprah has chosen as a book club selection. The five short stories give voice to an African child growing up in the face of incredible adversity.

Read an excerpt from the story "An Ex-Mas Feast."

U.S. ambassador to Malta interviewed

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A guest writer for NCR, U.S. Ambassador to Malta Doug Kmiec, was interviewed by the Times of Malta.

"Why then did he endorse Barack Obama, who is in favour of keeping abortion legal, for President, when he wrote a book in 2008, titled Can a Catholic Support Him?

"Barack Obama was someone who caught my attention in 2006 when he gave a speech at a conference called the sojourner's conference. It demonstrated to me someone of great discernment, someone who understood that one of the things that had gone wrong in our country was political figures unthinkingly using people's faith as a basis to divide them from one another. Obama says we should understand the significance of faith to every person," he says.

In the interview, Kmiec says:

"Even though there were areas of disagreement, Mr Obama pointed out the responsibility of government to provide a family wage, to care for the environment and to provide health care for the uninsured. When I thought about all these things, I thought 'this is my catechism come to life' because we are called to each of these things in the social teachings of the church."

Health care not on 'values voters' agenda

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This is the teaser Religion News Service sent out today on a story it will publish later today. The quote caught my eye:

For 'values voters,' health care barely
WASHINGTON -- Health care reform may be the No. 1 topic in Congress and the White House, but for conservative religious activists gathered at the Values Voter Summit this weekend, the topic barely registered. "To me, there are so many more important issues than health care right now," said Linda Leaman of Lancaster, Pa.

I can't wait to see what some of those "more important issues" are. The full story will be posted to the NCR web site as soon as it becomes available.

The hidden journeys of our trash

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Where does your trash go?

Karin Landsberg, 42, a Seattle resident, was curious. She invited researchers from the Massachussetts Institute of Technology into her home in Sept. to tag 12 items out of her garbage and recycling bins -- a can of beans, a compact flourescent light bulb, and other items -- with small electronic tracking devices.

The Architectural League of New York went through a smiliar trash-tagging process as part of the same project last month as well. Items tagged in New York included an empty plastic bottle, a broken wine glass, a book shelf, a coffee cup, and a discarded filing cabinet.

Through the project, overseen by MIT's Senseable City Laboratory, 3,000 common pieces of trash, mostly from Seattle and New York City, will be tracked through the waste disposal system over the next three months. The researchers will display the tracked routes online and in exhibits opening at the Architectural League of New York and the Seattle Public Library.

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October 24-November 6, 2014

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