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Scientology investigates the investigators


Tip 'o the hat to the Religion News service blog for this one:

A church hiring journalists to investigate a newspaper?

The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz reported on Monday that the Church of Scientology has hired three prize-winning journalist to go sleuthing in the St. Pete Times after the paper published a scathing multi-part series on the religion's leaders last summer.

Neil Brown, the Times' executive editor, told Kurtz that he "couldn't take this request very seriously because its a study bought and paid for by the Church of Scientology."

Brown also said that he's "surprised and disappointed that journalists who I understand to have an extensive background in investigative reporting would think it's appropriate to ask me or our news organization to talk about that reporting while (a) it's ongoing, and (b) while they're being paid to ask these questions by the very subjects of our reporting."

Read more here.

The health care summit


Like many other places, I am sure, our office TV is set on the White House Health Care Summit. As the president and congressional leaders jockey for position, CNN has very interesting polling data:

Washington (CNN) – Although the overall health care reform bills passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate are unpopular, many of the provisions in the existing bills are extremely popular, even among Republicans, according to a new national poll.

A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Wednesday also indicates that only a quarter of the public want Congress to stop all work on health care, with nearly three quarters saying lawmakers should pass some kind of reform.

It seems to me that the bottom line is that the majority of Americans want the health care system reformed. That really is the consensus.

The desire for reform has been thwarted by partisan politics. That is what this summit has to overcome, but at noon central time, there isn't much evidence that is happening. At least not on TV.

Start looking for local


As we look ahead to March and a new growing season, start to plan now for locally grown foods: 1) Look for locally grown vegetables in your grocery stores. 2) Find out when your local farmers market will open -- and plan to walk or bike there if you can. 3) Consider joining a "CSA" (community supported agriculture) that will deliver local produce from early Spring to late Fall.

These ideas come from the Lenten Carbon Fast Calendar, a listing of simple actions that may put you in the spirit of caring for Creation and the world-wide community:

Take action on climate change and energy legislation


There is high speculation that Senate leaders will make a push on climate change and energy legislation, perhaps soon to avoid political posturing before campaigning for November elections is in full force. The USCCB recently sent out an action alert, reminding us that climate change is at the center of the environmental challenges facing our nation and the world:

"Our response to global climate change raises fundamental questions of morality and justice,fairness andshared sacrifice.People living in poverty - both at home and abroad - contribute least to climatechange but they are likely to suffer its worst consequences with few resources to adapt and respond."

The impacts of climate change -- increased temperatures, rising sea levels,and changes in rainfall that contribute to more frequent and severe floods and droughts -- are making the lives of the world's poorest even more precarious

Religion and foreign policy


The Chicago Council on Global Affairs yesterday issued a report urging President Obama to make religion “an integral part of our foreign policy.” The task force was led by R. Scott Appleby of Notre Dame University and Richard Cizik of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good.

The report does not urge, of course, that U.S. foreign policy promote, or censure, any religious tradition, or play favorites. Nor does it suggest any union of church and state.

Belief after break-in


This last weekend violence visited the Catholic Worker where I live. A long-time guest broke into one of our houses and made mayhem of our things.

For the past couple of days I’ve been struggling with trying to make sense of the incident, to give some reason to the unreasonableness of such an act.

The timeline of events doesn’t seem to provide much light.

Our hospitality on Saturday went as it usually does. We opened the doors at the normal time and welcomed around sixty people to join us for supper and fellowship.

After the hustle and bustle of hospitality — cooking food, eating with guests, selling bus passes, distributing gloves and socks — we began to close-up for the night. As we did, one of our guests asked us to write him a late entry pass for the local emergency shelter.

That’s pretty normal. What followed this time wasn’t.

Catholics urged to lobby bishops for health care reform


Catholics United, the Catholic coalition of progressive voices, is calling on all Catholics and people of goodwill to join in asking the Catholic bishops to get behind health care reform. In an email to Catholics United's 42,000 members, Patricia Pignatiello, a Catholics United member for more than three years, relayed the story of her brother James.

This past June, James found himself in an emergency room with a treatable form of cancer – treatable that is, had he had insurance. Instead of getting treatment, Patricia’s brother was sent home coughing up blood. His cancer has now spread and Patricia writes "he is in a fight for his life."

She goes on: "The Catholic bishops have long been champions of justice and the common good. Unfortunately, there is a real possibility that they won’t support health care reform. Worse yet, they might even oppose it."

So Catholics United are lobbying bishops to support health care reform. They have a tool on their web site that allows individuals to email their bishops directly.

Patricia askes: "Will you join us in emailing the bishops in support of health care reform?"


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