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Employment and the church

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I've recently written about the fact that too many dioceses fail to provide unemployment benefits for terminated employees, as well as an article describing a Catholic approach to "justice in employment" as found in the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis

In Wisconsin, the state Supreme Court is expected to decide whether a fired Catholic school teacher can sue for age discrimination, or if such lawsuits against the church are barred.

First Friday half-days coming to an end

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The Archdiocese of New York is pitching an initiative to get Catholic schoolchildren spending more time in the classroom, a move that could spell an end to the venerable tradition of First Friday half-days. And parents are rejoicing.

Superintendent of Schools Timothy McNiff is encouraging principals to limit the number of half-days in the school year to 11. Schools may have an additional two half-days for teacher workshops.

Kim Longo, a South Beach mother whose daughter attends St. John Villa Academy in Arrochar, said it was about time the archdiocese stepped in.

As vice president of the Staten Island Federation of Catholic School Parents, she hears complaints from parents all the time about how their children barely have enough time to settle into their classrooms and open their books before it's time to pack them up and head home again after 11 a.m. dismissal.

The Episcopal church: a canary in the ecclesial coal mine

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Last week was historic for the Episcopal church, not only approving the ordination of openly gay and lesbian bishops and clergy, but also agreeing to begin the process of developing liturgies for the blessing of same sex unions.

Bishop Gene Robinson, the openly gay Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire, described to The New York Times the atmosphere in the hall after the vote on same-sex blessings: "It was amazing. We took the vote, there were closing prayers, and usually somebody says amen and we're up and out of there. But last night not a person moved, for 10 minutes. There was absolute silence. I think we realized the momentousness of what we'd done. People just sat their quietly praying. It was amazing. It was almost as if we didn't want to leave each other."

It was momentous, and all of mainstream Protestantism will be watching to see how the Episcopal church handles its new policies. They will be the "test case," if you will, the proverbial "canary in the coal mine."

Big families

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I don't watch "Jon and Kate Plus 8" but since I don't live under a rock, I couldn't escape the news that the parents of twins and a set of sextuplets are splitting up. But the Gosselins aren't the only large family profiled on a reality TV show these days. You'd think this new obsession with big broods would be focusing on Catholics and/or Mormons -- the two traditional religions that encourage lots of kids.

Wrong:

The majority of the TV families are evangelical Christians. And, as I learned in the article, "More Not Always Merrier," in the Lakeland, Fla., Ledger, most are associated with a controversial movement promoting large families called "QuiverFull," based on the verse in Psalm 127 that compares children (or "sons") to arrows: "Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them." The QuiverFull movement eschews any form of birth control or spacing, including Natural Family Planning.

The anniversary of malaise

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Most of us read political columnists for insights and inside information not for literary quality. Hendrick Hertzberg’s columns and blog posts at The New Yorker are one of the few venues where we can find all three. A seasoned journalist and master wordsmith, Hertzberg is always worth reading.

Never more so than on the topic he recently addressed, the 30th anniversary of President Jimmy Carter’s famous and infamous “malaise” speech, which has the distinction of being known to history by a word that never once passed Carter’s lips that evening. Hertzberg’s take is especially interesting because he was Carter’s chief speechwriter at the time.

Riffing on the News

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When Walter Cronkite, former long-time anchor for CBS evening news died on July 17, I took a trip down memory lane.

It was on New Year’s Day 1960 that I first remember “the news.” I was eight years old and Chet Huntley turned to David Brinkley and said “good night” noting that it was now 1960; a new decade had begun.

I was ten when I sent in a post card from the laundry mat and subscribed my family to Time magazine. My dad never knew where it came from, but when the bill came he said, “OK”, and paid it. For years, I used to like reading “Milestones.”

My grandparents who lived next door got the San Diego Union in the morning and we got the San Diego Tribune in the evening. The Union had a whole page of news photos every day. The Tribune always had news that seemed more up-to-the-moment.

In great fright they cried out to the Lord

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"In great fright they cried out to the Lord." Exodus 14:5-18

There is great danger in being put in a position from which there is no path of escape. In 1940, some 330,000 British and Allied troops were trapped by the advancing Germans in a pocket of beach called Dunkirk on the coast of France. With their backs to the sea, they would have been decimated had not every available boat come across the English Channel to ferry them to safety.

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August 1-14, 2014

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