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Spirituality

What kind of prayer is appropriate at official meetings?

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Carroll County is a small, rural county in northern Maryland. Its local board of commissioners has become news because of its insistence on starting board meetings with prayers to Jesus.

After a federal judge ordered the board to stick with nonsectarian prayers, some council members refused. The judge's order was twice defied in prayers uttered at the beginning of subsequent board meetings.

The nature of God

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In his essay "The Signature of Jesus," Brennan Manning passes on the story of an elderly man who meditated every morning under a big tree on the bank of the Ganges River (Multnomah Pub., 1996). One morning, after he had finished praying, the man opened his eyes and saw a scorpion floating helplessly in the water. As the scorpion washed nearer to the tree, the man quickly stretched himself out on one of the long roots that extended over the river and reached out to save the drowning creature. As soon as he touched it, the scorpion stung him. Instinctively, the man withdrew his hand.

Preview: With updates, bishops' 1981 message on energy could have renewed impact

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It was 1981.

Only two years separated the United States from its second oil crisis in a decade. In 1979, Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini had slashed oil shipments to the U.S. to fewer than 500,000 barrels a day. Prices at the pump had soared and gas lines lengthened.

In this context, the Committee on Social Development and World Peace of the U.S. Catholic Conference drafted "Reflections on the Energy Crisis," a statement addressing energy policy.

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