National Catholic Reporter

The Independent News Source

From Where I Stand

Freedom of religion has its own demands

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I found myself staring at a picture on a friend's mantlepiece this week. There they were, seated on a low ridge along an outside wall of a cobblestone street. They looked casual enough.


There were two women, three teenage girls, one child, all of them huddled together, no man in sight. Their bodies were swathed in heavy black abayas, their faces circled in hijabs, veils that covered everything but their eyes, nose and mouth. Underneath each of the long black skirts, in a kind of playful, mocking way, their toes snuck out through the straps of their sandals.

Justice is done: Why doesn't it feel like it?

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As the world prepared to celebrate World Peace Day, Saddam Hussein walked to the gallows in Baghdad. "The Americans," commentators pronounced solemnly, "had handed him over to the Iraqis."


The phrase carried with it eerie echoes of another moment in time when another ruler also maneuvered to avoid responsibility for the death of another prisoner. And just as surely as Pilate is remembered for the death of Jesus, so will the United States be remembered for the death of Hussein, however intently we argue that the execution was "the work of the young democracy" in Iraq.

I know a metaphor when I see one

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The movie "Everest," now showing at the local IMAX theater, sent chills down my spine. There, in the middle of the Himalayas, a group of climbers found themselves blocked on their way to the summit by a fracture in the snow 90 feet deep. The crevasse was too wide to jump, but at the same time too narrow to simply accept as the end of their 30,000-foot attempt to conquer the highest mountain in the world. So they opened up a telescoped pole ladder, laid it across the icy ravine and in large, clunky, steel-clawed boots walked across the open spaces between its rungs, toes on one rundle, heels on the other.

Road to Damascus still a place for conversions

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The day our small delegation from the Woman's Global Peace Initiative arrived in Syria, CNN ran a ticker tape news flash announcing that a "huge storm was swirling around the tip of Saturn." I smiled at the sight of it. Frankly, I was more concerned about the huge political storm in Syria. Saturn, I figured would take care of itself. Syria, I wasn't sure.

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