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Inside the Search for Common Ground on Abortion Reduction

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Wendy Wright of the organization “Concerned Women for America” recently wrote in Human Events about a meeting she attended at the White House on May 15. The Obama Administration has convened a series of meetings to bring together those who disagree over the contentious issue of abortion in an effort to find common ground. I was at the same meeting Wright attended– but left with a completely different impression. In fact Wendy Wright’s depiction of the meeting is just plain wrong.

The 5,000th casualty

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Among the six U.S. soldiers reported killed so far in June, one is the 5,000th casualty of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Grim Milestone: 5,000 GIs Dead in Iraq, Afghanistan Wars

And the spinning counters at costofwar.com reminds us that the Obama administration has done little to stop this squandering of our national resources -- personnel and financial.

In fact, last month Obama asked Congress for another $83.4 billion to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan through the end of September. House and Senate members passed versions of the bill that out did Obama. The final version is in commitee now and loooks likely to top $100 billion. Of course, some of that is political padding and not direct war-funding, but still that many zeros are mind boggling.

Is this the change Americans voted for?

Authoritarian vs. totalitarian

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You have to keep an eye on Michael Gerson. In his column today he writes movingly, and somewhat convincingly, about the need to keep a concern for democracy promotion in our foreign policy mix. Yes, we feel that those in the Arab world who yearn for justice and democracy are our kindred spirits, and yes, pure realism has been a curse to the world since the age of Metternich. But, we must also seek joy where joy may be found.

One sentence, actually one adjective, especially caught my attention. He refers to Egypt as "an authoritarian society." And so it is. (Elsewhere he labels Egypt an autocracy.) The distinction between an authoritarian and a totalitarian society has a history and it lives in the party which employed Gerson before he went to the Washington Post. Jeane Kirkpatrick, a hawkish Democrat who worked for the Republicans, first articulated the distinction in the late 1970s to justify American support for repressive regimes that were non-communist.

What's behind delay in JPII canonization?

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Perhaps it is a simple dose of reality that is slowing down (if that is, indeed, what's happening) the rush to canonize Pope John Paul II. Certainly a pontificate a quarter century long would produce a great deal to investigate. According to reports from Catholicculture.org, and NCRonline the immediate cause of the slowdown is the revelation of extensive correspondence with Wanda Poltawska, described as a long-time friend and adviser to the pope.

Reports Catholicculture.org: "Pope John Paul II's closest aide is strongly criticizing Dr. Wanda Poltawska over her decision to publish five decades' worth of private correspondence with the late Pontiff. Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz of Krakow says that Dr. Poltawska -- a psychiatrist and concentration camp survivor-- is claiming "a special relationship where none existed" and that many others corresponded privately with Pope John Paul.

The God of the living

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"God is not god of the dead but of the living." Mark 12:27

In today's Lectionary offering from Tobit 3:1-17, poor Sarah has had almost as many husbands as Zsa Zsa Gabor, and all of them have died on their wedding night at the hands of a demon. The Book of Tobit is a gripping tale about God's answer to prayer. Sarah will require the Archangel Raphael and her kinsman Tobias to rescue her.

Ewart Cousins, editor of the Classics of Western Spirituality, dies

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Ewert Cousins, a world-renowned theologian and pioneer in interreligious dialogue who brought Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Jews, and Buddhists together at gatherings around the globe, from the United Nations to the University of Madras, died on May 30, 2009. He was 81.

One of Cousins’ greatest contributions was making the touchstone texts of Western religions accessible to a wide audience. Together with Richard Payne, he conceived of and edited the Classics of Western Spirituality, a groundbreaking, 107-volume series of classical works from the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim traditions. Cousins’ own translation of the writings of St. Bonaventure was one of the series’ bestsellers. Cousins was also the general editor of the 25-volume series World Spirituality: An Encyclopedic History of the Religious Quest and the author of Christ of the 21st Century, Bonaventure and the Coincidence of Opposites, and scores of major papers.

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August 29-September 11, 2014

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