National Catholic Reporter

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Spirituality

Faith is forever new

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Our sacred Scriptures contain many stories about how God dealt with people thousands of years ago. Even before I actually picked up a real Bible, I learned about some of these awesome feats in Bible history class. Yahweh delivered the Israelites from a catastrophic flood, led them through the Red Sea “dry-shod,” even stopped the sun’s course so they could win battles. Someone would be out of his or her mind not to follow a God who regularly staged such dramatic events.

Georgetown conference explores secularism

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On Feb. 20, a conference at Georgetown University here focused on cleaning up what many Americans consider a dirty word -- secularism.

The goal of the conference, called “Secularism on the Edge: United States, France and Israel,” was to define what secularism is and what it is not. It drew participants from all three countries.

“[Secularism] is a guarantee of two things: freedom of religion and freedom from religion,” said conference organizer Jacques Berlinerblau, Georgetown professor of Jewish civilization.

Education congress hears calls for renewal, unity

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As he approached the podium in the giant arena, keynote speaker Mark Shriver said in a matter-of-fact tone, "All I can offer you is a story about a guy living a faith-filled life -- he wasn't perfect, but he was a good man."

Shriver, author of The New York Times best-selling memoir A Good Man: Rediscovering My Father, Sargent Shriver, talked about his father, the late Sargent Shriver, who created the Peace Corps and expanded Special Olympics around the globe.

Breaking the rules

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Jesus chose to associate with people whom the rest of his contemporaries found reprehensible. Today, we are used to this notion, and we tend to romanticize his behavior. In his own time, however, it was shocking and offensive. Jesus’ manner was so off-putting that many people could not move beyond their repulsion to hear and accept his message. In a word, he was a rule-breaker, an iconoclast, and those who would follow him with integrity are to do the same.

Standing in truth before God

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Have you ever been listening to a homily and suddenly find yourself wishing that so-and-so was here because they really need to hear this? In your mind’s wandering, have you thought so-and-so in the row in front of you should be taking notes? How often do we mentally excuse ourselves from the truth being preached and its challenges because we do not see ourselves as God sees us, as others see us, as we are?

Crossing over

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Rudolph Bultmann once described our sacred writers as people who had glimpses of the “other side,” but wrote for people “on this side.”

Though they admire the well-known scholar’s insights, most Scripture experts today would disagree with the last half of Bultmann’s statement. Certainly people who have had no experience of the other side read their writings -- anybody can read the Bible -- but these special authors originally wrote for people who had also visited the other side, who had personally touched an awesome God and lived to tell others about it.

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