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St. Paul: New and Improved


The renowned scripture scholars, Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan, have just published a great new book on St. Paul. It's called The First Paul: Reclaiming the Radical Visionary Behind the Church's Conservative Icon.

These writers say what New Testament scholars have known for some time: that Paul wrote only seven of the Epistles ascribed to him in the New Testament. Among the other six, they say three (1 and 2 Timothy and Titus) are definitely not written by Paul, and three others (Ephesians, Colossians and 1 Thessalonians) are disputed, although the majority of scholars believe that Paul did not write these either.

The Moral Superiority of the East Coast


Yes, yes, I am all for recognizing different strokes for different folks. But, it seems to me that the moral superiority of the East Coast has been amply demonstrated by the evil coming from Los Angeles the past few weeks. You do not even have to look closely at your television screen to see it: Empty seats in Dodger Stadium.

St. Augustine taught that evil is an absence and so it is. An empty seat at a play-off game is evidence of someone who not only had something better to do with their time but someone who was too self-absorbed to make sure that someone else got the ticket. It figures that most of the empty seats are prime seats, right behind home plate, although I also spied some empty seats in the upper decks.

I grew up in New England so I am slightly scandalized by an empty seat for a regular season game. At Fenway Park, we regularly have an attendance of around 37,000 and I think Fenway only seats about 35,000. But, even if you have to go the hospital suddenly in an emergency, you grab your ticket and give it to the paramedic. But, give it to him after you get to the hospital because otherwise you might not make it there.

Bad children's books?


My wife is angry. She is telling everyone we know that she is angry. And she is angry because somebody is knocking her favorite children's books.

Now, I'm not talking about the books she read as a child -- when you become parents, your literary love moves from the books you read as a kid, to the books you read to your kids. And this is where the anger comes in.

In a new column called "Parenting on the Edge," Los Angeles Times, writer Madeleine Brand talks about how bad some of the best-known children's books really are -- not bad for children, mind you, bad for parents. Brand's column picks out for special mention The Rainbow Fish, The Runaway Bunny, Love You Forever, and (this is the one that really set my wife off) The Giving Tree.

USA shouldn't have 'working poor'


WASHINGTON – "The term 'working poor' is no longer acceptable," said Fr. Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA, at a teleconference launching a national interfaith campaign to promote environmentally green jobs for the poor.

Rabbi Steve Gutow, president of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, said the campaign, Fighting Poverty With Faith, brings together two common concerns of people of all faiths: Care for the poor and care for God's earth.

The coalition seeks to have Congress approve the Gulf Coast Civic Works Act, a bill currently in the House that would create 100,000 green jobs to rebuild America's Gulf Coast communities.

It also seeks Senate passage of the American Clean Energy and Security Act, including House-approved provisions to fund extensive job training in green construction for targeted groups of the poor and unemployed. It wants the Senate version of the bill to go beyond the House version by extending funding for the Green Jobs Act past 2013. The House version allocates about $860 million a year to the Green Jobs Act, but would extend that funding only up to 2013.

Junk mail's carbon footprint


Senders of junk mail in the United States are causing carbon emissions equal to nine million cars, according to a forest preservation group.

Pressure group ForestEthics released the report, Climate Change Enclosed: Junk Mail's Effect on Global Warming, recently to support its new campaign for a "do not mail" registry. The study, which is based on figures from the Environmental Defense Fund, the Environmental Paper Network, and industry data, found that half the carbon expenditure relating from junk mail comes from the removal of forest wood, while another 20 per cent comes from the emissions created at paper plants during production.

It takes more than 100 million trees to produce the total volume of junk mail that arrives in American mailboxes each year—that's the equivalent of clearcutting the entire Rocky Mountain National Park every 4 months.

Ad supporting American nuns


I have contact with a wide interfaith swath of the population, and just about everyone: Muslim, Jew, Episcopalian, Methodist, Buddhist… you name it… wants to know what I think of the Vatican investigation of American nuns.

People, I find, are scratching their heads trying to figure out what in the world the Vatican is looking for in a group of women whose labor literally built the American church as we know it, and who continue to serve that church, especially the poor, with visible selflessness.

Well, the Quixote Center is offering everyone an opportunity to voice their views about American nuns in an ad that will appear in the National Catholic Reporter when it is complete. It chronicles the legacy and work of American nuns from the days of the frontier to the urban immigrant slums to the extensive work for justice and peace today.

If you want to read it and sign it, here is the link: Support our Sisters campaign

A cry for debt cancellation from Ivory Coast



tA strong call for the cancellation of Africa’s external debts came yesterday from Cardinal Bernard Agré of Ivory Coast, who insisted that such a move would be “no longer an act of charity, but of justice.”

tAgré, now 83 and retired, spoke yesterday to Vatican Radio on the margins of the Synod of Bishops for Africa. The synod is meeting in the Vatican Oct. 4-25.

tAccording to United Nations statistics, sub-Saharan African nations still owe an estimated $200 billion in external debt, despite spending almost $14 billion annually in debt payments. The UN estimates that sub-Saharan African nations receive some $10 billion annually in foreign aid, meaning that they actually send back $4 billion more each year to affluent nations than they receive in development assistance.

tAgré told Vatican Radio that they synod, currently in its recommendations-crafting phase, “should consider this problem of the cancellation of debts which fall too heavily on many peoples.”

Catholic Answers can't sue IRS


Courthouse News Service, a news service for lawyers, reports that a federal judge has rule that San Diego-based Catholic Answers can't sue the IRS.

After Catholic Answers posted an e-letter calling 2004 presidential candidate John Kerry a "notorious sinner," the Internal Revenue Service deemed it an "act of political intervention," something prohibited for tax-exempt organizations.

Catholic Answers had to pay $831.41 in tax plus interest. Catholic Answers paid up, but then appealed. The IRS eventually abated the tax and refunded the money, but then Catholic Answers sued.

A federal judge in San Diego today granted the government's motion to dismiss the suit, saying because it had received a full refund, Catholic Answer's claims were moot.


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