National Catholic Reporter

The Independent News Source

Jan 17-30, 2014

Salt and light

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What do this Sunday's readings say to us today? Where are we to look for the light of our world?

In our first reading, Isaiah's solution to superficial religiosity that does not illuminate has nothing to do with more prayers or pious self-mortification; he beckons us to venture beyond our comfortable home territory into the foreign lands of the less fortunate. Isaiah teaches that our light will shine when it has been kindled by the experience of sharing with those who know needs we have not experienced and that we can't even imagine without listening to their story.

A light for all peoples

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More than 16 centuries ago, a woman from Galicia in northwest Spain set out on a journey to the Holy Land, hoping to experience for herself the places where important biblical events had occurred. Her name was Egeria (sometimes known as Etheria or Sylvia), and her travels were made all the more memorable because she kept a journal of her three years on the road (381-384). Wishing to share her faith and experiences with her "sisters" back home, Egeria wrote in descriptive detail.

US has little standing to lecture dictators

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Neither John McCain nor Marco Rubio, two of Washington's mouthiest senators, could resist slamming Barack Obama for shaking hands with Cuba's Raul Castro at last month's funeral for Nelson Mandela.

"Why should you shake hands with somebody who's keeping Americans in prison?" asked McCain. "I mean, what's the point?"

Rubio's knock: "If the president was going to shake his hand, he should have asked him about those basic freedoms Mandela was associated with that are denied in Cuba."

Bill de Blasio, New York's new 'spiritual but not religious' mayor

From its historic black churches to large Jewish enclaves to landmark Catholic and Protestant churches, New York City is the ultimate religious melting pot. And now, overseeing it all is a new mayor whose only religious identity seems to be "spiritual but not religious."

Mayor Bill de Blasio, who took office Jan. 1, is now perhaps the nation's most visible "none," an icon of one of the nation's fastest-growing religious groups -- those without any formal religious identification.

The threat of nuclear weapons has never really disappeared

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01172014p18pha.jpgCOMMAND AND CONTROL: NUCLEAR WEAPONS, THE DAMASCUS ACCIDENT, AND THE ILLUSION OF SAFETY
By Eric Schlosser
Published by The Penguin Press, $36

Back in the Reagan era, many of us read author Jonathan Schell's The Fate of the Earth with hushed awe -- though critics found the 1982 book's warnings about nuclear war overwrought, even silly.

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