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The new frugality


Here's the problem with being around for 2,000 years: you tend to learn a few things. So as much as I get impatient sometimes with the glacial pace of change within the church, there are moments when I'm reminded that the institution has gleaned more than a few verities over the past couple of millennia.

For instance, greed -- and its modern-day significant other, consumerism. The financial collapse that marks its first anniversary today is one large "told you so" for a church that has often been a lonely voice against the American ethos summed up on the bumper sticker: "The one who dies with the most toys wins."

Sunday's Los Angeles Times presented a bracing look at how we have changed in the past 12 months. The report explores the possibility that Southern Californians may soon turn their back on ever-bigger houses that sit at the end of ever-longer drives from where we work.

Prominent KC health provider takes issue with Bishop Finn


The letter of a prominent Catholic Kansas City health care provider has reached my desk. It is a response to the Kansas City area bishops' pastoral on health care. The layman is Daniel L. Fowler, chairman of the board of Northland Health Care Access, a 501(c)(3) Missouri non-profit corporation that provides access to healthcare for the uninsured. He is also the board chairman of a sister organization, Metrocare, Inc., that operates a network of volunteer specialty care physicians in the Kansas City area in affiliation with the Metropolitan Medical Society. He serves on the board of Northland Neighborhoods, Inc., a community development corporation that is also a Missouri 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation.

Here is want Fowler wrote to his bishop, Finn:

Thoughts on moving


For anyone who's noticed that I've been absent from this blog for a few weeks, don't worry. I'm still here--just in the middle of a move.

Yes, we're among the few lucky Americans to have sold our house (a condo)--and rather quickly, I might add. I guess if the price is right...

And we were doubly lucky in that we found a nice house, a small Chicago bungalow, at a very reasonable price. Unfortunately the closing dates require us to be "homeless" for two weeks, so we've been bouncing from relative to friend to relative.

I forgot how hard moving is, and now I'm witnessing how the disorientation affects a 2-year-old. There's the packing, then the sadness at seeing your empty home--our first home as a married couple, the place we brought our son home to.

And when the movers arrive--four recent immigrants who worked harder that morning than I have all year--there is the guilt over having SO MUCH STUFF. Having to pack everything you own really highlights how much you own. At the end, when we were tossing the last miscellaneous junk into unlabeled boxes, I had a strong urge to give up all my possessions and move to a monastery.

African Catholics prepare for synod


Fr. Pete Henriot, an American Jesuit, is the director of the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection in Lusaka, Zambia. He has an opinion piece on about the upcoming synod of African bishops. It is the second such synod, the last one being convened in 1994.

Henriot writes that after reading the instrumentum laboris, the working document the bishops will use to prepare for the synod, he was

" ... struck by the relevance of the agenda topics to the life of the church in Africa. There is an honest reflection on the difficulties of implementation of the First African Synod (1994), with clear recognition that many parts of Africa have in the past decade been severely wracked by armed conflicts and ineffective governance. The concrete experience of the church in relating to this challenging situation is sketched with obvious questions regarding the effectiveness of our responses."

Of all the points that the synod could emphasize, Henriot points to three that he sees are critical. To points are included in the instrumentum laboris.

    Report of rights abuses in Honduras


    Jean Stokan, Director of the Justice Team for the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, provides a graphic description of gross human rights abuses in Honduras in her appearance on "Interfaith Voices" this week. She describes government forces trying to snuff out the protests of those who oppose the recent coup. Teachers, lawyers and campesinos were attacked in multiple and bloody ways as they demonstrated to restore the elected leader of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya, and the constitutional order of the country.

    Jean was part of a delegation of religious people who visited Honduras in August on a trip sponsored by both the Quixote Center and the Sisters of Mercy.

    To hear the interview, go to:

    Before this interview, you can hear the tale of Kevin Roose, a student who went undercover at Liberty University (founded by Jerry Falwell) to investigate evangelical culture. And after Jean’s interview, you can hear about the great sounds of an interfaith choir called Mosaic/Harmony.


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