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Peace making


On Feb. 18, 2003, I returned from the Berlin International Film Festival where I had served on the Ecumenical Jury. I wrote to my egroup Cine&Media:

"I returned to the hotel after a day visiting museums and "Check Point Charlie" to pack and hit the sack early since I had to rise at 3:30 a.m. From Berlin this morning we flew to Frankfurt to change for the non-stop flight to Los Angeles. The waiting area was full of traditionally dressed Muslims returning from the Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca, that every Muslim seeks to make at least once in his or her life. It was full winter outside and the long pilgrimage, that takes place about three months after the month of Ramadan, must have been exhausting for these fellow Angelinos.

"As we were waiting for the flight to board, one poor woman had a grand mal seizure, and so the medics came and then her luggage had to be removed from the plane. Thank God it happened there rather than in-flight so she could have care.

San Jose diocese: Going Green Leader


According to a press release, Photon Energy Services, a leading developer and integrator of solar electric generation systems, has unveiled plans to create one of the largest Catholic solar projects in America working in collaboration with the San Jose, Calif., dicoese. Partnering with five parish/school combinations and one cemetery, Photon will provide solar energy for Holy Spirit, Holy Family, St. Christopher, Queen of Apostles, St. Lucy and Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Los Altos.

Phase one of the installation begins this month and will continue through the early summer. Once complete, the systems will generate enough electricity to provide approximately 70 percent of each site's collective electrical needs. Dustin Keele, executive vice president of Photon stated, "Over the life of the system, the six sites will eliminate approximately 19,000 tons of CO2. That is equivalent to planting 345 acres of trees or removing 4,740 cars from the road for one year."

A treasure in earthen vessels


"We hold a treasure in earthen vessels." 2 Cor 4:7

I have seen this epiphany before, earlier this year, but know I can never predict when it will occur. It is a privileged moment, and I feel both blessed and like an intruder to glimpse it.

A woman and small son boarded the bus and sat in the front seat facing the aisle. When I say small, I mean both mother and child. She was about 4 feet tall, sturdy, her broad face suggesting Central American Indian features, possibly from Mexico. Her blue polo shirt with emblem, creased black slacks and crepe-sole black shoes identified her as an employee of one of the large hotels in Midtown. Even her diminutive stature seems a characteristic shared by her cohort, riding the buses at shift change times or walking to and from work from the apartments in the neighborhood. Her son was 3 or 4 years old, tucked in close to her, his legs straight out from the seat.

Meltdown hits poorest of global poor


The economic meltdown is hurting the poorest of the world in the worst of ways. The UN agency, the World Food Program, has warned that millions of families in dozens of developing countries are coping with the economic crisis by going hungry, withdrawing their children from school, and cutting back on meals and health care. So after decades of progress, the scourge of global hunger is suddenly on the rise again.

Is the social-activist priest a relic?


An inspiring story about the social-activist priest Fr. John Powis of Brooklyn is in this week's Village Voice.

Just wondering: Is Fr. Powis, now near retirement, a relic of the '60s? Is his brand of socially active priesthood -- he spent his entire life in the roughest sections of never-gentrified sections of Brooklyn -- a dinosaur? Are there still young priests who are captivated by this vision of living with and being of service to the poor in this country? The best cinematic treatment of the priesthood may well be Karl Malden's character in "On the Waterfront," whose fiery speech in the climactic scene offered a spirituality that saw Christ crucified anytime there was oppression.

Or is the focus of priesthood today on careerism, with the greatest emphasis placed on liturgy and sacramental ministry? Finding a large, comfortable parish? Not to let lay people off the hook: Has the increased wealth of American Catholics put us further removed from the people served by Fr. Powis?

The California mess


I was driving by one of my favorite newspaper/magazine stores a couple of days ago. New owners had just taken over, and they no longer sell periodicals. They sell pot.

And this is not the first -- it joins another marijuana store already in progress, about a mile down the road. Now, I don't live in what you would call a cutting edge neighborhood in Los Angeles -- it is a pretty typical suburb with nice homes and decent schools. So how is this possible? Because California has become a place were nothing happens the way it is supposed to anymore -- and the story of the weed sellers in my suburb is a lovely cautionary tale.

As you may know, California has allowed the sale of marijuana for "medical" purposes for a few years now. And as you might have guessed, not everyone who manages to get a "prescription" really has an illness that only a smoke can cure. Understanding this aspect of human nature, people in neighborhoods like mine sought to adjust laws to cap the number (and locations) of stores dispensing the stuff.

When sleep leaves you tired


The Wall Street Journal's Health Journal offered an excellent article on the fundamental and serious issue of sleep (June 9, 2009).

"Twenty percent of Americans sleep less than six hours a night, and nearly one-third have lost sleep worrying about financial concerns, according to the National Sleep Foundation, which recommends that adults get seven to nine hours. "Our society thinks sleep is for slackers," says Darrel Drobnich, the organization's chief program officer.

"Millions of Americans aren't getting enough sleep, and even those that are may not be getting the most restful sleep possible.

"But all that lost sleep is taking an insidious toll. Chronic, inadequate sleep raises the risk of cardiovascular disease, depression, diabetes and obesity."

In early May 2009, I wrote an NCR story on the question of our physical health.

Sleep is critical to our physical health and wellness.


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September 12-25, 2014


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