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Too many choices

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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?

Iran struggling with 'Shi'ite messianism,' cardinal says

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Interview with Cardinal Angelo Scola of Venice
June 2009

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.

80 nations (but not the U.S.) are set to destroy cluster bomb arsenals

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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.

Pope Benedict, Marilyn Manson, Eminem?

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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.

Catholic Islam experts like Obama initiatives

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Middle East Catholic leasders are meeting in Venice for a conference on tradition in Christianity and Islam.

Of course, the topic of U.S. initiatives in the Islamic world were bound to surface. And what a Catholic News Service reporter found was that Catholics who live among Muslims are giving President Obama high marks for his Cairo speech and his outreach to the Muslim world.

On Iran, Obama has it right, the right doesn't

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In his just concluded press conference, President Obama used the strongest language so far regarding the turmoil in Iran. “Appalled,” is a strong adjective. But, he was at pains to focus his condemnatory stance not at the election itself but at the violence against the protesters who are, he reminded us, exercising universally acknowledged rights to freedom of assembly and freedom of speech.

Third round of nuclear reduction talks opens in Geneva

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The Russian media is keeping up with U.S., Russian nuclear disarmament talks, even in you are not seeing much on your local evening news.

According to this Russian press report, the third round of comprehensive Russia-U.S. talks on a new strategic arms reduction pact opened Monday in Geneva. The first two rounds of Russia-U.S. arms reduction talks were held on May 19-20 in Moscow and on June 1-3 in Geneva.

The U.S. team of negotiators is led by Assistant Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller, while the Russian delegation is headed by Anatoly Antonov, director of the Foreign Ministry's Department of Security and Disarmament.

"The talks are being held behind closed doors at the U.S. mission [in Geneva]," the source said, adding that they will continue until June 24.

Here's the Russian news report.

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October 10-23, 2014

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