For decades – from at least the time Joe Torre was a backup first baseman with the Milwaukee Braves – and ever further back than that, the political right has complained that government is the problem, government programs don’t work, and are too costly and inefficient. Meanwhile the right’s mantra has also been that private enterprise does everything better because it's more creative, innovative and efficient than government.
Incidents in the Middle East and in the drug wars in Mexico have brought beheading back into the headlines. This swift and macabre form of execution was common in the ancient world. Herod's dispatching of John the Baptist, like the brutal fate of all the male infants in Nazareth under Herod's father, sent a signal that a faltering and corrupt royal house would do anything to preserve its sovereignty.
John's beheading also served as metaphor for the gospel writers who emphasized that his greatness was as the last great prophet under the Law. He dies without understanding the new dispensation of grace he had ushered in by pointing to Jesus. He serves as the blind wedge that opens new vistas for God's unconditional and universal love. As a faithful servant, he enters what he could not have imagined, the last martyr of one story and the first hero of the next, arriving headless into the kingdom of God.
Colleague Dennis Coday last week passed on the news of the documentary recently aired by Ireland's TV 3, an hour-long program looking into the circumstances of abuse in the Archdiocese of Dublin, about which a government report is to be issued in the near future.
The Pesticide Action Network has launched a new online searchable database designed to make the public problem of pesticide exposure visible and more understandable. Whether you want to find out what's in your apple juice, milk, peanut butter, or bottled water, this innovative tool links pesticide food residue data with the toxicology for each chemical, making this information easily searchable for the first time.
Facts about pesticides:
The average child gets 5+ servings of pesticides in their food and water each day.
The pesticide Atrazine is so toxic it is banned in Europe, but it is used so widely in the U.S., that it is found in 71 percent of the U.S. drinking water.
Currently, over 400 pesticides can be legally used in the U.S. For example, apples can be sprayed up to 16 times with 36 different pesticides. None of these chemicals are present in organic foods.
Radio advertisements are the newest avenue being used by progressive Catholic groups to drum up support in Congress for their policy agenda. The newest is from the group Catholics United and it is running now in South Bend, Indiana.
My wife is not sleeping lately. She is up late, on the computer, worrying about -- toilets. I'll explain in a second, but let me just say that after years of listening to U.S. Catholic bishops and theologians and the pope himself go on about the downsides of Western consumerism, I get it. I really get it.
Here's what is going on: my wife and I recently bought an old house, a fixer-upper that we are now fixing up. According to the scores of home remodeling magazines somehow still publishing in the midst of a housing collapse of unimagined proportions, our situation is close to consumerist nirvana. Through this kind of total remodel, we can have the house of our dreams. We can have everything "just the way we want it."
But what if you can decide what you want? What if the dazzling array of choices offered about American marketing leaves you paralyzed?
Interview with Cardinal Angelo Scola of Venice
tOne noteworthy recent initiative in Catholic/Muslim relations is the Oasis project, launched by Cardinal Angelo Scola of Venice in 2004. Though Oasis does not shy away from theological conversation, its accent is on understanding Islamic cultures, sometimes expressed as the ‘Islam of the people’ – what in journalistic parlance might be called ‘the Muslim street.’ In particular, Oasis is interested in the interplay between traditional cultures and the new forces of pluralism and mixture of peoples driven by globalization. (Scola likes to use the Italian term ‘meticciato’, which roughly corresponds to ‘mestizo’, to convey this idea.)
On Monday and Tuesday of this week, June 22-23, the scientific committee that directs Oasis met in Venice to take up the subject of ‘intepreting traditions in a time of blending.’ In conjunction with that event, I interviewed Scola, 67, on the current state of Christian/Muslim relations.
Eighty signatories of a new international convention banning cluster bombs are set to meet in Berlin to begin the destruction of these indiscriminate weapons even before the accord has entered into force. On June 25 and 26, delegations from more than 80 countries will meet in the German capital to discuss plans for stockpile destruction.
What do Pope Benedict XVI, Marilyn Manson, Eminem and U2 have in common? They all have record deals with the British music label, Geffen UK.
The pope and Vatican priests will record Christmas music and prayers, according to the UK's Daily Mirror. "Everyone thought it was a wind-up when we got a call from the Vatican. But it was the pope's representative inviting us to Rome. Two senior managers flew out. The pope wasn't there in person, sadly. But we didn't hesitate to offer His Holiness a deal," the newspaper quoted a source at the London-based record label.
No word on whether the pope will go on tour.
- Hal Turner: How far is too far? (the Connecticut blogger who wrote that he "advocates Catholics in Connecticut take up arms and put down this tyranny by force.")