... I received a notice today from Richard Dieter, Executive Director, of the Death Penalty Information Center, which does terrific work on death penalty related issues. He writes about the case of Henry Skinner who is scheduled for execution in Texas on March 24 despite the lack of DNA testing of critical evidence from the crime scene that could lead to his exoneration.
Rush Limbaugh said on his radio program yesterday that if the Democratic health care reform bill passes, he will leave the country. (I do not listen to Mr. Limbaugh, but this assertion made the news.) Well, Democrats, if ever there was a two-for-one you should grab, this is it. Universal health care plus no more Rush is as close to heaven as I am ever gonna get!
Limbaugh’s assertion raises an interesting question. Where would he go? Most of the other industrialized nations of the West have universal health care that actually is run by the government, unlike the government regulated, private health care the Obama plan envisions. Does Rush really prefer a single payer system? Now, he tells us!
Did you see this story from Catholic News Service: Homilies should be under eight minutes long? Don't overtax parishioners' attention spans, is the message from Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, secretary-general of the Synod of Bishops, who has just written a book, The Word of God, which is chock-full of tips Eterovic gleaned from the 2008 Synod of Bishops on the Bible.
I wonder what Bill Tammeus would say to this advice. Kansas City-based NCR staff have been reading Bill's work on the religion pages of The Kansas City Star for years. Today Bill joins us as an NCR contributor. His columns will appear on the Web site about every other week or so.
His first offering looks at getting the proper balance between preaching and Eucharist. See Balancing the right and left brains at worship.
Bill's an active, practicing Presbyterian, so we welcome his bringing a bit of balance to our Catholic-centric site.
Where I live in the Midwest, the red cardinals begin singing in mid-February, no matter what the weather. That’s when my spring hunger begins. The redbirds’ sweetly hopeful songs bring it on. Migrant robins return. My yearning cranks up. By March, garden seeds are on display in the hardware store while hoes, rakes and spades are up front. That gets me salivating.
When I lived in the country I would take lots of March and April walks. Each day I would find some new evidence of spring’s approach and arrival. I kept careful records of its progress in my journal.
Entries looked like this: “March 22: Warm night, first spring peepers heard. March 24: First hepaticas blooming in the ravine. April 2: Balmy evening. Whippoorwills back and beginning to call. April 9: Some sunshine. Trillium and bloodroot flowering; behind the house, first morel mushrooms. April 14: Sunny day. Saw first indigo bunting in the pasture. May 10: Cool, wet day. Chestnut-sided warblers stranded in the midst of their migration, feeding in cedars. May 16: Wild pink azaleas blooming in Mad Dog Hollow.”
I put my 11-year-old daughter to bed every night. After prayers, and after I turn off the light, she always begins a rapid-fire recap of the day's major events -- usually involving other girls in her class, her teachers, or what she did during recess.
But a few nights ago, we talked about heaven instead.
"Did you ever hear about a book called '90 Minutes in Heaven,'" she asked.
"What do you think heaven is like, Dad?"
"I'm not sure. I think it could be like the best day you ever had, but it never ends."
"I think it is very crowded. All the good people go there and I don't know where there would be room." She yawned and turned on her side. I paused a moment to see if we were done. But her eyes were still open and she said, "Very crowded."
"You figure there are a lot of good people?"
She stared off in the distance, as if surveying all the people she knew, and calculating the totals. "Yep," she said finally. "Too crowded."
"Well, may be we're not bodies up in heaven, hon. Maybe we're spirits, just feelings and emotions and we are just there like that."
She thought about that for a minute, nodded silently. We seemed done now.
Today is the feast of St. Marie Eugenie Milleret, founder of the Religious of the Assumption.
She was born in Metz, France, in 1817. "When she was fifteen, Marie Eugenie’s parents separated and she moved to Paris with her mother and brother, only to see her mother die of cholera shortly afterwards. Her father then sent her to live with relatives whose great interests proved to be money and pleasure."
"Our Beginnings," Religious of the Assumption
Our friends at the Catholic Alliance for the Common Good are keeping busy in this final push for universal health care coverage. In a statement issued today, their new President, Morna Murray said, “Isn't it time we agreed it is simply unacceptable for anyone in America to be denied health insurance because of a pre-existing condition or arbitrary annual limits of what an insurance company decides is good for its own profits? Is such a system good for Americans? Is it good for vulnerable low-income and working class families and children? It is good for one thing and one thing only -- health insurance industry profits. This does not serve the common good.” The full statement is here.
The Religion Communicators Council honored 14 secular media organizations with its 2010 Wilbur Awards last week. The winner in the radio category was "Interfaith Voices," the public radio show that I host. The Wilbur went to our series “The Soundscapes of Faith” by Laura Kwerel (writer/producer) and Katie Davis (editor).
The Religion Communicators Council has presented Wilbur Awards annually since 1949. According to the council's web site, the awards honor excellence by individuals in secular media -- print and online journalism, book publishing, broadcasting, and motion pictures -- in communicating religious issues, values and themes.
“The Soundscapes of Faith” series was created by Kwerel. It is based on the premise that distinctive sounds help make the holy real, and that major faith traditions have a distinctive “sonic signature.” These include, for example, the shofar in Judaism, the Hindu “om,” the call to prayer in Islam, Buddhist chant, hymn singing in Sikhism and “harp singing” in Christianity.
To listen to any or all of these, go to: http://interfaithradio.org/soundscapes
It's finally here (and I'm not talking about the Catholic corproate craziness within the church). I'm talking about college basketball. It always seems to arrive just when we need it the most -- the middle of Lent. Naturally, Catholic colleges are among those vying to win it all, or at least get into the NCCA tournament and advance farther than they did last year.
Here's a quick selection of Catholic college basketball stories that have appeared today or yesterday:
In the words of Dick Vitale, "Let the games begin, baaaaby!"