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How About If We Count Doughnuts?

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Since there remains a tendency to make big trends out of scraps of evidence, let me try another tack.

Bob's Bakery has been having a tough time of it since a health store/bagel shop opened next door.

Nonetheless, in the past year he's noticed that cinnamon doughnuts are selling better. Last year he sold a total of 15,000 doughnuts (down four percent from the previous year). However he sold 10 more of the jelly variety than the year before and 30 more cinnamon doughnuts .

If Bob were to hail this as a major trend in favor of cinnamon doughnuts his bank might have second thoughts about keeping him afloat.

Museum questions religion with art

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"In the end though it was the energy of the art that surprised me the most. I have always been aware of the power art has over me, but when these objects were juxtaposed with questions [about religion], I found that the gallery actually vibrated."

That's Amanda Hellman describing for Boston Globe religion writer Michael Paulson her reactions to "The Matter of Theology: A Conversation with the Collection," an exhibit she put together as an art history grad student and an intern at the Williams College Museum of Art in Williamstown, Mass.

Hellman said her assignment was to "find art from the museum's permanent collection that says something about the world's religions that could hang in the museum and would be interesting to the academic community."

To see some of the art, look at Paulson's story and then follow the links to the museum's web site.

As fascinating as the art is Hellman's description of how an exhibit is researched and assembled.

Honduras: Repression continues

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The official Quixote Center delegation in Honduras continues to send firsthand reports of the events in that country, as tens of thousands of its citizens clamor for the return of their elected President, Manuel Zelaya.

The stories of the repression are documenting an escalating violence. This report refers to August 12th protests:

"On the forty-sixth day of peaceful and nonviolent resistance against the de facto government, the armed forces and the police repressed protesters with excessive force. Hundreds of police and military occupied the city of Tegucigalpa yesterday, throwing large quantities of tear gas, pepper gas, and live bullets. They also attacked the protestors and uninvolved bystanders with tubes, punches, and kicks.

"The five teams of international observers present in different parts of the city center verified that the reaction on the part of security forces was excessively violent. ..."

Reports of repression in San Pedro Sula are similar in violence and intensity.

For more detail, go to: http://www.quixote.org/node/949

Thanks to Eunice Kennedy Shriver

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My older brother has his problems -- I still get calls from my mother about something he's done to upset the people he lives with. But overall, he's happier than my parents thought he would be. And much of that is thanks to Eunice Kennedy Shriver.

My brother is brain-damaged, plagued with a host of learning and physical disabilities. When he was born 53 years ago, he came into a world that had no real place for him. It was the parents' most consuming worry when he was little = what would happen to him as he got older, as they got older? And where could they even turn to for help?

Back then, there were no networks of families, no advocacy groups. The mentally disadvantaged lived off to the side; their lives and their stories made society too uneasy.

Bishops pitch for health care reform

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The media relations office for the U.S. bishops just tweeted this:

U.S. bishops have launched Web page promoting health care reform: http://www.usccb.org/healthcare

Do you think that was in response to my last blog entry (The Tablet: U.S. bishops risk losing the moment) which went up just minutes before? Here's the media release that goes with the Web page launch:

U.S. Bishops Launch Web Site on Health Care Reform, Their Position and Concerns

WASHINGTON -- The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) launched a Web page promoting its support of “truly universal health policy with respect for human life and dignity.” The page, www.usccb.org/healthcare, includes letters from bishops to Congress, videos, facts and statistics, frequently asked questions, and links for contacting members of Congress.

Welcome back Michael Vick

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If there are four more powerful biblical words than "A man had two sons" I do not know them. I always cry when I read them. Coming after the other two parables about hope, the parable of the lost sheep and the parable of the lost coin, and appearing only in the Gospel of Luke, the parable of the prodigal reveals to us in a way that we find difficult to understand, even unnerving, what the Master was about to accomplish for the entire human race on Calvary: The triumph of absolute merciful love over sin and even over justice. Justice is one of the most noble accomplishments of the human soul, and it is difficult to attain, but it is as nothing compared to the mercy of God.

I hope that Michael Vick has read that parable many times.

Abe Lincoln, again and again

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By now, we are all aware of President Obama's keen interest in Abe Lincoln. Today's Wall Street Journal has a piece on choreographer Bill T. Jones.

The 57-year-old Mr. Jones, a MacArthur "genius" grant recipient, is readying two new stage productions for the fall season: "Fondly Do We Hope ... Fervently Do We Pray," an evening-length piece celebrating the bicentennial of Lincoln's birth -- "fondly do we hope ... fervently do we pray" -- is from a line in Lincoln's second inaugural address.

One of God's most beautiful names

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Let’s begin down at the nearest pond. Fr. Ed Hays, founder of the Shantivanam prayer community in Kansas and spiritual writer, advises that we adopt the common frog as a mascot for our spirituality of simple living.

The image of a frog could be hung on our walls as a religious icon, he suggests. One reason for doing so is that the frogs in our local ponds have such great bulging eyes. We need those kind of eyes in order to live deeply and well.

“To the eyes of the soul,” Hays counsels, “everything is holy. Viewing life with the soul’s enormous staring eyes allows us to see that we are swimming in the sacred.” With those great bulging eyes and a cultivated spirituality of simple living, we can backstroke through the holy, splash and delight in the taste of reality, find it easy to both pray always and to participate in the healing of our world. As theologian Monika Hellwig rightly claims, the primary issue in spirituality is not the redemption of the individual soul but the redemption of our whole world.

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September 12-25, 2014

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