March 21, 2014
Earlier this month, the publication Scientific American reported that a series of studies at both Harvard University and the University of Utah showed that people are more likely to make ethical decisions in the morning than they are as the day wears on. In one of the studies, subjects were given math problems and told they would be paid a nickel for every solved problem. They were allowed to report their own scores, which afforded them the opportunity to lie and receive more money.
November 15, 2013
Pope Francis has received praise from all quarters for pausing to hold a severely disfigured man. While receiving an audience in St. Peter's Square, Francis spent several minutes comforting and praying with the unnamed person, who sufferers from neurofibromatosis, a condition that causes tumors to grow all over the body and can result in serious conditions like cancer. Writing in British newspaper The Guardian, Jonathan Jones calls the pope's action “gothic,” saying, “What is gothic is the return to 13th-century values in this picture of a Christian leader showing humility and charity by physically interacting with someone visibly sick and visually different from those around him ... Charity and humility and love really are Christian ideals, and for someone in the pope's position of power to so graphically express them is full of concrete meaning.” An article in the Washington Post says, “In the pope's prayer over the man, many saw echoes of Jesus' healing of the leper.” Q: What do you think of the pope's action?
October 4, 2013
Several Republican congressmen have come under fire for quoting the Bible as justification for cutting nutritional assistance to America's poor. Congress has moved to slash more than $4 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP - better known as food stamps. In the face of criticism, Representatives Stephen Fincher (R-Tenn) and Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) quoted a verse from 2 Thessalonians: “For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: Anyone unwilling to work should not eat.” Several religion bloggers have pointed out that the quote is completely out of context; its author was referring to “ancient Christians who had stopped working in anticipation of Jesus' Second Coming.” They have also pointed to the irony of using a biblical quote when, as Rev. Jennifer Butler puts it, “From cover to cover, the Bible is 100 percent clear that God requires us to care for our brothers and sisters in poverty.” Q: What's your take on this?
August 16, 2013
There are some 11 million undocumented people in America. Arguments rage about what can be done about them, from deporting each one to awarding citizenship depending on length of time in the U.S. In the story of the good Samaritan, Jesus overturned the common view of looking down on Samaritans and made his followers look at them in a positive light. In the story, an injured man is ignored by a priest and a Levite but helped by a Samaritan. At the end, Jesus asks, “Which of these three seemed to be a neighbor to him?
May 24, 2013
Were early Christians really persecuted for their beliefs? The popular image is of them being thrown to the lions and having to meet in secret, but an author is challenging what she calls the "myth" of Christian persecution. Candida Moss, who is Professor of New Testament and early Christianity at the University of Notre Dame, has written a book called "The Myth of Persecution: How Early Christians Invented A Story of Martyrdom. " Dealing with the 300 years following the death of Jesus, she sets out to debunk what she calls "the Sunday school narrative of a church of martyrs" and claims that instead of three centuries of continual suppression, there were perhaps only 10 or 12 years during which it happened with any frequency.
December 25, 2010
This year, perhaps more so than in any other in recent memory, people can relate to the desperation of Mary and Joseph as they searched frantically for shelter on the eve of Jesus' birth. No assets, poor, and completely dependent on the generosity of others, they came to rest in a stable, beaten back by the harsh realities of even the small town of Bethlehem. As the economy continues to weigh heavily on households — lost jobs, cut hours, lost health insurance — and with little hope for improvement in the near term, more and more people have had to settle into their own stables and accept the humility and frustrations that come with it. It's the range of impact that makes it all so staggering.
November 28, 2009
?2012? was at the top of the box office last week. The movie?s plot revolves around the end of the world, supposedly predicted by the end of the Mayan calendar, which expires on Dec. 21, 2012. The movie is described as ?an epic adventure about a global cataclysm that brings an end to the world and tells of the heroic struggle of the survivors.? The supposed end of the world in 2012 continues to be a hot topic by believers and nonbelievers alike. Does your faith reveal anything specific about the end of the world or how it might look like?
October 2, 2009
This past weekend, I attended the funeral of a man whom I knew only as an acquaintance. He and his wife were close friends of my parents. The man was a great asset to our parish, where he volunteered thousands of hours over the 40 years he and his wife were parishioners. I last saw him reading the Sunday scriptures during the Spanish Mass about three weeks ago. His deep voice and slow pacing made him an excellent lector. I did not know that would be the last time I would see him alive.