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The parables of my father

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My sisters and I shared many funny times listening to the combination of words and phrases our dad would manage to put together. In fact, we thought we easily could combine all his sayings into a book that would, at least for us, be pretty hysterical. He is an eager learner, active do-er and impatient wait-er. This combined with his matter-of-fact certainty genuinely cultivated a fondness for his company and for his insights.

My father is both happy-go-lucky and masipag, a Tagalog word meaning joyfully hard-working, generous and diligent. His most common phrase when asked about whether or not he would do something or try something is, "What da heck."

This courage to try new things and to generously do everything to make things work guides my own ethic and continues to shape how I discern.

"Wow, girl, that person must be the best in their field. You get to work with the crop of the cream!"

"If you just put it in your mind, you can overcome your sickness. Just tell your body it's not sick."

Why are the Catholic bishops silent on the Wisconsin recall election?

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Wisconsin is facing a divisive recall election Tuesday. The election pits current Gov. Scott Walker against recall challenger and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, who lost to Walker in 2010. Barrett supporters are dissatisfied with Walker's elimination of collective bargaining from many public jobs, among other issues. Walker supporters think Barrett supporters should just suck it up and deal with a governor who was elected just two years ago. The recall election is splitting neighbors, co-workers and family members. It's the talk of my home state.

Kierkegaard Re-contextualized Part III: Love versus Death?

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This is the third in a three-part series examining the theological ideas of Søren Kierkegaard through the work of three contemporary church critics. Read the first part and the second part.

In a lecture to a group of teenagers, theologian Stanley Hauerwas retells one of Søren Kierkegaard's last parables to illustrate how most Christians think of the resurrection. In the story, a prince is one day riding through his fields when he sees a beautiful peasant girl. Being of noble birth, he is careful not to overwhelm the girl with his power and riches and decides to masquerade as a peasant in order to fairly win her love.

45 years and a community we call church: an immigrants' story

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My parents are celebrating their 45th wedding anniversary on Monday. In the same vein as other recent milestones, my parents do their best to invite everyone and throw a big party. We had a huge celebration when they each turned 50, 55, 60, 65 and even 70 for my father a few years ago. We have tons of food -- no, really, Filipinos have enough food to ensure that everyone there would be able to eat for days, just in case an earthquake broke out and we all were stuck there together -- entertainment that only "American Idol" or "The Voice" can rival, and many, many stories.

What strikes me the most is how integral the church is to my parents' story.

Christ is found in sitting with those who suffer

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I was a junior in college when I went to El Salvador for the first time. The van moved slowly through San Salvador traffic, the window down, my mouth covered with my scarf to protect from the pollution, my lungs still burning. A slender boy no older than 10 came to my window with his hand out and gently grazed my hand with his fingers. The tiredness in his eyes, which were as brown as his leathery skin, could have belonged to an old man. When I looked at him, he put his arm on the windowpane and rested his head as we gazed into one another's eyes. I remember this moment so vividly as I sat staring into his eyes, completely humbled, realizing that his suffering was greater than my capacity to respond.

Kierkegaard re-contextualized, part II: The agony of Pontius Pilate

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This is the second in a three-part series examining the theological ideas of Søren Kierkegaard through the work of three contemporary church critics. The first part can be found here.

To me, the most memorable voice in the St. John's Passion has always been that of Pontius Pilate. After struggling fruitlessly to undo the inevitability of Christ's death, confronted with the real certainty of executing the world's most innocent person, Pilate is shaken to the core. He is left clinging to one existential question: "What is truth?"

I thought I screwed up Lent

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I, too, have a confession to make. I didn't give up anything for Lent. For someone so attached to the poetic rhythm of the liturgical calendar, I failed to do something "special" for Lent.

I suppose I could give you all these superficial excuses about not having time, being too busy, just forgetting that it's Friday, but that would not get to the heart of the issue.

I even thought of saying that I am just tired. Tired of the giving something up just to get back into my previous habits. Tired of trying something new just to do more. Tired of broken monologues and debates that keep the same positions.

But all of these excuses would merely be symptoms of a deeper resistance: My pride has really gotten me away from God.

I first noticed it when I started making exceptions for myself and challenging God's grace: "Wow, God was really looking out for me. I wasn't supposed to park there, AND I didn't even get a ticket. Whew!"

Then I puffed up my chest even further when I was asked to consult on a number of different projects: "Surely, there is no one like me who could do this job. Obviously, I'm special."

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August 1-14, 2014

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