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The parable of the sack and the wastebasket


It is not always simple to live simply. It takes energy and skill. Conflict and tension between many opposing factors must be steadily and uncomplainingly borne and confronted creatively. At times it feels like a complex chess game in which one weighs and balances the consequences of an array of moves or choices against the background of countermoves, trying to achieve the position on the board that best honors both our commitment to simple living and all of our other responsibilities, as parents, citizens, spouses, members of communities.

Often it's a matter of making trade-offs or truces, plea-bargaining, or just deciding in which battles we can prevail and in which it might be wiser to retreat or surrender.

What's more, in all kinds of ways, our consumer society mounts hurdles and roadblocks in our path. A television comedienne I saw once talked of visiting the mall to buy a wastebasket for her new apartment. The clerk put the new basket into a sack. She carried the sack home and then threw it into the wastebasket she had just bought after installing it in a corner. "What am I doing?!" she yelped and threw up her hands.

Pope okays new structures to absorb disgruntled Anglican conservatives


Married priests to be part of the deal in new 'personal ordinariates'


tIn a move with potentially sweeping implications for relations between the Catholic church and some 80 million Anglicans worldwide, the Vatican has announced the creation of new ecclesiastical structures to absorb disaffected Anglicans wishing to become Catholics. The structures will allow those Anglicans to hold onto their distinctive spiritual practices, including the ordination of married former Anglican clergy as Catholic priests.

Those structures would be open to members of the Episcopal Church in the United States, the main American branch of the worldwide Anglican Communion. American Episcopalians are said to number some 2.2 million.

Read the full story here: Vatican reveals plan to welcome disaffected Anglicans

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.

Burke named to Congregation of Bishops


Vatican Information Service reported today that Archbishop Raymond Burke -- formerly of St. Louis, Mo., and now prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, or the Vatican's highest court, has been named to be a member of the Congregation for Bishops, the Vatican office that oversees the nomination of bishops and the creation and governance of dioceses.

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


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