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The Bible should have a place in life outside of Mass

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"You know," the woman told me, "about the only exposure to the Bible most of us Catholics get is when we hear the weekly readings at Mass."

Clearly this disappointed her. Clearly she was hungry for more.

It was my duty and honor to provide an hour's worth of "more" for members of an adult education class at her parish one recent Sunday morning. I came away from the experience both exhilarated and sad.

Staring the immensity of death in the face

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ODESSA, Mo. -- It was sunny and in the mid-60s on a late February day in western Missouri -- in fact, it was Ash Wednesday -- as we stood at the gravesite here in McKendree Cemetery.

At the request of the family of a retired Presbyterian pastor, I conducted the graveside service, and we buried my friend Cecilia's ashes next to the grave of her mother, long ago a Cumberland Presbyterian missionary in Colombia.

Churches must remember context or else risk irrelevancy

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When one of my daughters was in grade school, she participated in a summer program at a wonderful place called Missouri Town 1855.

In this living history museum, she spent part of each day for a week living in a 19th-century farming community. Her context there was radically different from the context of where she slept and ate at home. Sometimes it took a bit of time to reorient her at day's end.

The best way to describe our prison system? 'It's nuts'

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Several weeks ago, I saw an exhibit of photos featured in the compelling new book Grace Before Dying, by Lori Waselchuk and Lawrence N. Powell, and I wrote about it on my daily blog, "Faith Matters."

The book is about the hospice care program at the Angola State Prison in Louisiana -- a program in which prisoners help other prisoners who are dying.

A church is more than a building, but the building matters, too

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Just a few days after Christmas, a historic Presbyterian church in midtown Kansas City, Mo., burned to the ground.

Westport Presbyterian Church had only a few dozen members, but my friend Scott Myers, the pastor, and some members of his aging congregation had figured out how to continue serving the kicky neighborhood that has been the church's home for 176 years.

Bold predictions for the religious world in 2012

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One reason I've cherished my long and extinguished career as a columnist is that, as you well know, columnists have the gift of prophecy.

In fact, we have a double gift of it. First, we speak resolutely with our prophetic voice, calling on the world's many wayward people to do the right thing, which always means urging them to do what we columnists want them to do. Or at least what we think will amuse us if they really do it.

Honor others, even in times of interreligious unrest

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At a clergy seminar on Catholic-Jewish relations I attended recently, Catholic scholar Philip A. Cunningham reminded us that Jews and Christians haven't been in serious, respectful dialogue for very long.

Indeed, this important effort has lasted but a tick of the clock compared with the century after century of anti-Judaism preached from the church almost from the beginning of the Jesus Movement within Judaism in the first century.

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August 1-14, 2014

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