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What's on the minds of 'values voters'?

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"To me, there are so many more important issues than health care right now," said John Leaman, a retired yacht builder from Lancaster, Pa.

According to a Religion News Service report, that quote pretty much sums up the feelings of attendees at the Family Research Council's Values Voter Summit held in Washington this past weekend.

Added [Leaman's] wife Linda, a waitress: "I don't think it's as urgent as Obama's making it out to be." The real problem, she said, is illegal immigrants "cluttering up our emergency rooms."

In a straw poll of 10 possible Republican presidential candidates in 2012, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee was the clear favorite among the attendees. Huckabee won 28 percent of the 597 votes cast. Four candidates -- former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., -- tied for second place, each with about 12 percent.

The Europeans are Coming! The Europeans are Coming!

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The press release (see text below) arrived by email today. In it, Bill Donohue of the Catholic League – with all the skill and intellectual rigor of Da Vinci Code protagonist Robert Langdon – unravels the mysterious and malevolent motives of the Obama Administration.

The Obama crowd, you see, seeks to emulate the “European model” because they believe “that private institutions are not to be trusted.” Healthcare reform, says Donohue, is a good example of these anti-private sector sentiments.

Among the “private institutions” threatened by the European model are churches, specifically the Catholic Church.

Support our sisters 2

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I just posted an essay by retreat master and author Kathy Coffey on the influence of women religious in her life.

Last week I reported on a letter writing campaign launched by NCR Young Voices columnist Kate Childs Graham. Kate is collecting letters in support of women religious and she will be posting those letters to a Web site, www.ThankYouSister.com. That effort is continuing.

Kate's efforts are electronic-based. For those who would like an ink and paper alternative, Voice of the Faithful has a letter writing campaign for you. Full details are here.

VOTF is asking that people:

1. Write a positive, respectful letter to the Church leaders listed below. Ask for the courtesy of a reply.

Obama's Media Blitz & Cloture

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President Obama is all over the airwaves, appearing on news shows, speaking at televised rallies and, now, even appearing on David Letterman. He has recognized that he needs to be in the fight for health care reform, not only to help build popular support for his reforms but to bolster wavering Democrats. The reform effort is now so thoroughly associated with the President’s political standing, that to oppose the reform is to cripple his presidency.

This is important because there are some conservative Democratic senators who might prefer not to vote for the eventual plan that emerges. And, with fifty-nine votes, and hopefully a sixtieth coming from Massachusetts if that commonwealth’s notoriously fractious legislature does the right thing, the President does not have a vote to spare if he is to avoid a filibuster that would kill the plan.

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.

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November 21-December 5, 2014

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