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We need candidates who are really religious

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The closer the United States gets to choosing a president, the more the event begins to look like a papal election: it's all about religion and little about what religion teaches.


The United States, we love to say -- and Europeans repeat in a kind of incredulous wonder -- is the most "religious" country in the world. Meaning, of course, the most church-going country in the world. Whether or not going to church correlates well with religious values is clearly a debatable subject. To wit, the corporal works of mercy -- as in, feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, house the homeless, visit the imprisoned, visit the sick, and bury the dead. It is on these criteria in Matthew 25: 31-46, however, that Jesus rests his definition of salvation. No small thing for those who considers themselves "religious." No small thing, then, one would think, if a nation -- if a candidate for political office -- were really serious about being "religious."

And now for the rest of the story

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President George Bush has managed to stir the waters again on the role of the United States in Iraq by comparing it to Vietnam. Bush is now saying we should not have left Vietnam so early, despite the fact that Vietnamese themselves are arguing that we should have left much earlier than we did. (See: Bush's invocation of Vietnam War pullout to defend his Iraq strategy rankles Vietnamese.)

Insecurity: When the bearers of democracy lose it for the sake of security

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[Editor's Note: Sr. Joan Chittister is taking a short break, so we have tapped into her archives. This column first appeared May 15, 2006.]


There's something intergalactic about hearing world news -- U.S. news -- in another country. Last week, for instance, I listened to the news in Tokyo. In the space of 24 hours, I heard a series of dizzying reports.

It's time to vote in pursuit of our own best interests

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[Editor's Note: Sr. Joan Chittister is taking a short break, so we have tapped into her archives. This column first appeared Aug. 12, 2003.]


I asked a friend of mine what effect he thought the war in Iraq would have on upcoming elections. He paused only so slightly. "None at all," he said. I pressed the point: "Not even in view of the fact that we have alienated some of our strongest allies?" "Joan," he said in the kind of low, patient voice reserved for slow learners, "Europeans don't vote in our elections."

June graduations beg the question: What is our future?

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It’s happening everywhere, I know. But I learned last week not to take it for granted. In fact, it may well be our major problem and it is hiding in plain sight.

With a measure of curiosity short of nostalgia but greater than personal interest, I found myself watching a series of local high school graduations on the public service channel last week. Why I paused -- and stayed -- on that particular channel, I’ll never know. But I’m glad it happened.

It was, in fact, a veritable “taste of America” moment that I haven’t seen too often since I left the scholastic world years ago. The graduates were combed, washed, heeled and proper. No goon show kids here. They wore their mortarboards flat and undecorated. Their gowns were pressed and glowing. Their smiles were broad, proud, satisfied.

When violence against women is 'honorable,' 'religious' and 'legal'

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All right, now we've seen it with our own eyes. So now what?


The picture of a small girl, naked and screaming, running down a dirt road in Vietnam covered with U.S. napalm all over her tiny body galvanized this country against the Vietnam War. For the first time, we could see exactly what was happening there, exactly to what lows the God of War had taken us.

Yes, but who will you invite next year?

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"A real Christian prays," Karl Barth wrote, "with the Bible in one hand and the daily newspaper in the other." I have never been able to forget that image. There is something about the insight that rings true. After all, if what we learn about the mind of God, the heart of Jesus, in Scripture has nothing to do with the way we live, then the spiritual life is at best an exercise designed to make God a private devotion.

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