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Warrior: In the 'zone' as a transcendent experience


“Warrior” is the first feature-length film I have seen about “mixed martial arts.” Paddy Conlon (Nick Nolte) has two sons, Brendan (Joel Edgerton), a high school physics teacher, husband and father, and Tommy (Tom Hardy), an ex-Marine. Both sons are estranged from their recovering alcoholic father, a boxing coach -- and there is great enmity between the brothers. Tommy has gone so far as to take his mother’s maiden name, Reardon.

When Tommy shows up at his father’s house to ask him to train so he can fight in a mixed martial arts event, Paddy accepts. He demands discipline and both sons reject all his attempts to make up for his failures when his sons were young.

Malta's loss will be university's gain



This month, a familiar face will be back at the lectern at Pepperdine University: Douglas Kmiec, who resigned as ambassador to Malta in May, returns to the West Coast law school this autumn.

In May, a critical internal State Department review asserted Kmiec was spending too much time on matters other than bilateral relations, giving speeches and writing articles about interreligious dialogue, for example. Instead of contesting the review, or following the age-old diplomatic practice of ignoring such reports, Kmiec tendered his resignation. If he hoped the resignation would be rejected, he misjudged the situation. State Department officials are disinclined to take on a report they generated, and the White House, although indebted to Kmiec for his support in 2008, had bigger fish to fry these past few months.

Archbishop 'making good progress' after heart surgery


SAN FRANCISCO -- San Francisco Archbishop George H. Niederauer is making good progress after undergoing cardiac double-bypass surgery Aug. 29, according to a report relayed by Auxiliary Bishop William J. Justice, the archdiocese said in a statement Aug. 31.

The archbishop continues his recovery where he was hospitalized in Long Beach. All signs are positive, according to his doctors, the archdiocese said in its update.

"The archbishop has expressed his deep appreciation for the prayers of the priests, deacons, religious and laity of the archdiocese," the statement said.

After experiencing some chest discomfort over the weekend, Archbishop Niederauer, 75, was taken to the emergency room at Long Beach Memorial Hospital Aug. 28 by Cardinal William J. Levada, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and former archbishop of San Francisco, the archdiocese announced Aug. 29. They had been in the final days of their vacation in Southern California.

The archbishop was given an angiogram and his doctors recommended he stay overnight at the hospital for observation.

Creating space for intellectual debate


Washington is a city where people like to be busy and, even more, like to be seen to be busy. An invitation to a luncheon or a dinner is never met with a simple yes or no, but with "Let me check my calendar." In the metro, in the elevator, even at the dinner table of a restaurant, people are buried in their BlackBerries. "Activity suggests a life filled with purpose," said Captain von Trapp in "The Sound of Music," and Washington took his instruction to heart.

But, on a recent afternoon, a dozen or so scholars met around a conference table at The Catholic University of America's Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies to discuss a chapter of the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. There were a couple of philosophy professors, a sociologist, someone from the evangelization office of the archdiocese. There was even a rocket scientist, a former NASA scientist who went on to teach at the Naval Academy.

Bishops' staffer on doctrine rips theologians as 'curse'


Theologians can be a “curse and affliction upon the church,” according to the U.S. bishops’ top official on doctrine, if their work is not grounded in church teaching and an active faith life, and ends up promoting “doctrinal and moral error.”

Capuchin Fr. Thomas Weinandy, executive director of the Secretariat for Doctrine at the U.S. bishops’ conference, has warned of a “crisis” in Catholic theology, caused by theologians who “often appear to possess little reverence for the mysteries of the faith as traditionally understood and presently professed within the church.”

Sports films and faith


Sports films are the timeless cinematic metaphor for life. I think it is a fair question to ask which of them made you cry the most? Was it "Rudy"? "Field of Dreams"? "Brian's Song"? For me it's David Anspaugh's 1986 "Hoosiers."

Some new releases, whether based on fact or fiction, fuse sports and faith quite well and are entertaining and inspiring without falling into the "message" trap. They also avoid sentimentality, though are wrought with emotion and tension. "Senna" is one of those.

More than 3,100 musicians gather to 'sing a new song'

LOUISVILLE, KY. -- More than 3,100 Catholic pastoral musicians from around the United States, Canada and Mexico gathered at the Kentucky International Convention Center in downtown Louisville to prepare for the implementation of the new English translation of the Roman Missal.

Parishes around the United States will begin using the new text -- and some new music with it -- for the celebration of Mass Nov. 27, the first Sunday in Advent.

Priests' letter supports Bourgeois


A group of "priests in good standing within the Roman Catholic church" wrote to Maryknoll superiors last month to support the priesthood of Fr. Roy Bourgeois "and his right to speak from his conscience." The letter bore the signatures of 157 priests.

Bourgeois, 73, has been threatened with dismissal from Maryknoll, a New York-based missionary order, for his public support of women's ordination and participation in such events.

"The priests felt the need to stand in support of, not only Fr. Bourgeois, but their own right to speak from their conscience," the July 21 letter said.

The letter is addressed to Fr. Edward Dougherty, superior general of Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers.

"While we understand the difficulty of your position we hope that seeing support of ordained priests in good standing will help you come to a fair and just conclusion," the letter said.

The letter does not specifically address the issue of women's ordination, only that the signees support the right to speak from conscience. The letter and the signatures have not been made public, but NCR obtained a copy of the letter with the names.



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