Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Katrina Tames Us/USA

Katrina's devastation is singularly impressive in a very technological, advanced society like this one. In that way, we are very different from the victims of the Tsunami. And yet we are also helpless and at the mercy of wind, water and our own fears. Perhaps the lesson is more urgent here than anywhere else. In the midst of this natural catastrophe, we also witness the humanly crafted tragedy of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Is there any wisdom? Or just massive and random loss?

Friday, August 26, 2005

Lance Armstrong and Doping

Although I am also a cancer survivor, I have not been able to become enthusiastic about Lance Armstrong's attacks on those with cancer who rely on prayer and contact with God along with their treatment. I have also found his personal life with his wife and children to be very self-centered, destructive and unappealing. As a result, I often feel like I'm the only person on a subway train who is not wearing the yellow bracelet. Reading today's accounts of the testing that was done on him as far back as 1999, I begin to believe that, while he wasn't relying on prayer or marriage fidelity, he was also not the lone, gritty individual facing all odds alone that emerges from the images. He was getting a little help, a shot or two here and there. Not the greatest of all crimes, true, but it does explain a lot that I have been trying to fathom. Prove me wrong and I will actually rejoice but I think the perfect one got some help.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Please Join Sant'Egidio Prayer for Peace

Called to Peace
on campus activities

An invitation to work for peace
with the Community of Sant’Egidio
throughout the year in preparation for the
Prayer for Peace
to be held in Washington DC, April 26-27, 2006

The Community of Sant’Egidio is organizing Called to Peace, a participatory project designed to include students in the Prayer for Peace. This includes students able to attend the prayer that will be held in Washington DC, April 26-27, 2006, and those participating only in on-campus activities.

“Peace be with you” were the first words of the Risen Christ. The disciples were not expecting these words. Peace was given as a gift of the Sprit and was welcomed as a dimension of life freely given by the Risen Lord. Before any action is taken, before any planning, before any attempt to ‘do things right’, it seems appropriate to the Community of Sant’Egidio to invite all to a moment of prayer, humbly receiving the gift of peace together.

A flexible, inviting form of prayer, the Prayer for Peace can be organized on campus before the gathering in Washington. The format of this prayer can differ, but over the years the many Christians who have been participating in these gatherings have benefited from and contributed to the Prayer for Peace.

Peace is a central concern of many students and yet, its emergence, effectiveness and sustainability in a complex world are not obvious. The Community of Sant’Egidio is not a professional conflict resolution organization. Rather it is a family of friends gathered around the Gospel and committed to live the Word in prayer, friendship and service to the poor. In this path, the Community has found many occasions to work practically, concretely and effectively for peace. Workshops have been designed in different formats allowing two-hour brief sessions or day-long retreats. Convened by a member of the Community of Sant’Egidio, the workshops are a wonderful occasion to reflect on the possibility of contemporary peace work.

Peace stories
Although violence is around us, peace is possible. Although loneliness is everywhere, friendship is possible. Although many experience confusion and despair, all can discover truth and hope. The Gospel is the good news that we frequently do not have the time to listen to (so we tell ourselves), especially when it speaks of peace. Yet the Gospel contains an invitation to peace that has been the source of hope and inspiration for many. While peace is frequently associated with political and military concerns, we all know that peace can actually be experienced personally, even in the midst of the most violent conflict. To honor those who were able to preserve this space of peace, the Community of Sant’Egidio began collecting peace stories. It is a collection of real moments of peace carved in the midst of daring circumstances. Told mostly by fellow students, the peace stories are a powerful tool to re-frame our understanding of peace as a possible path for all of us. When told, the peace-stories are also an invitation to explore and unveil other peace-stories of which the participants may be aware. Peace-stories are usually told in an informal evening setting.

Moved by the example of Saint Francis of Assisi and more than forty years after Pope John XXIII’s encyclical Pacem In Terris (Peace in All Lands), , Pope John Paul II called a gathering of world religious leaders in 1986 to pray for peace. In this spirit, a group of scholars have developed a course on Catholic Peace-building. Taught for the first time at the University of Notre Dame in the spring of 2005, the course, which brings together tradition and innovation, familiarizes students with the rich legacy of Catholic teachings on peace and invites them to consider peace as a subject worthy of further investigation. In addition to the traditional semester long format, a shortened version is in preparation.

Many students may consider peace as a relevant aspect of their work. The Community of Sant’Egidio is happy to collaborate with those who manifest an open commitment to peace. An independent academic study program is available for interested students with the agreement of their own institution.

The Community of Sant’Egidio believes and is committed to direct, open, and personal relationships. This is why all activities listed above work best when emerging from a personal visit, whether occurring at Community of Sant’Egidio gatherings (there are at the moment five communities in the US; New York, Washington, Boston, South Bend, Minneapolis) or in an on-campus visit. The practice of hospitality is, for us, a fundamental step towards a new, inclusive and hopeful understanding of peace.

For more information
Dr. Andrea Bartoli
Community of Sant’Egidio Tel. (212) 663 1483
560 Riverside Dr. #13P Fax (212) 663 4178
New York, NY 10027 Email ab203@columbia.edu

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

International Solidarity Movement : Fact Sheet: The Smokescreen of the Gaza Disengagement

International Solidarity Movement � Fact Sheet: The Smoke Screen of the Gaza Disengagement

This website and its movement helps to counter the very misleading propaganda that is filling the US media about the Gaza withdrawal. Please remember the awful history of this taking of land, then the driving out of Palestinians, most of whom first entered Gaza as refugee's from Israeli occupation of Palestine in 1947 on on. This is only a tiny step in bringing about justice. Now comes the huge settlements that have been planted in the West Bank and, from most of which, Sharon says there will be no withdrawal or settlement. US compliance and very large financing of all these injustices, even until this day, is poisoning our relations with fair minded Middle Easterners (Arab, Christian, Moslem and Jewish people and groups who know the history and the injustice). Yet the US policy persists in the face of reality and the truth is that both political parties will continue support the same horrendous deeds and policies. Just look at what happens to dissenters from this "party line," not in Iraq, in China, or North Korea but right here in this land of free and open debate (???)

Monday, August 22, 2005

World Youth Day

The huge gathering in Cologne and goodness that radiated forth in prayer, music, words and the pope's presence only echoes what Benedict said months ago, it is a young church. Young people from all over the world being with each other is a monumental tribute to the power of the spirit moving through our times. True, there is a lot of a negative accounting of faith and religious practice and much of it is true but some also very skewed. Only something very vital and essential could generate this response.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Cancer still

On Thursday I will have my monthly check and treatment for my Multiple Myeloma. This visit has become fairly routine which is good news indeed. I have been experiencing some unusual fatigue and will seek some insight about what can be done. A friend just called and mentioned a colleague's wife with breast cancer. He asked if I would mind being available to talk with them about cancer and its treatment. I said I would, of course, in part because it does me so much good to talk with others about this unique but very common experience of cancer and its treatments. And I especially pray for those who take care of us and for those who do research to cure and alleviate these illnesses. Join me in that prayer.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

The Msgr, St Patrick's and Scandal

Since we still have only denials from the Msgr and the secretary, we need to postpone some of our judgments. One opinion is, however, already clearly warranted: a very hard line exponent of traditional sexual morality has been grossly imprudent. The tape shows at least that much. It also important to recall now that when the Msgr blamed the abuse crisis on liberals and gays, the archdiocese had the good sense to distance itself a bit by saying that these were the Msgr's personal opinions. Now I am sure there is a cardinal and some of his advisers who wish they had made that "distance" a lot more like 20 football fields. There is a pattern here of very hardliners turning out to be much more "liberal" or lenient on themselves than on others. This double standard is fully ecumenical and includes all sorts of preachers, doesn't it?

Thursday, August 11, 2005

I am (am not) comfortable with...

When people with a secular perspective speak about morality or just plain right and wrong, I often hear them say something like: "I'm just not comfortable with that approach." I notice this creeps into more religious circles as in, "I'm not comfortable with Benedict XVI on that issue." This language is revealing of how far into subjectivity and relativism we have wandered. Moral norms are not there to comfort but to guide, challenge, provoke us. Nearly always, shouldn't moral standards make us uncomfortable as they attempt to move and stretch us to a better moral life? Are you comfortable with that?

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Scandal at St Patrick's Cathedral

New York is shocked today at hearing that the elderly, arch-conservative rector of the Cathedral has been named in the divorce proceedings by his secretary's husband. Msgr Eugene Clark and the lady deny the charges but, needless to say, it has generated much amazement. She was his assistant for over 20 years and it is all very hard to fathom. Were there no signs, no rumors, no strange events? Did Cardinal Egan know anything about these stories? Did he just find out today along with the rest of NY? Clark is a well know conservative who excoriated the sexual liberty of today's US culture from the pulpit of the cathedral and blamed the sex abuse crisis on homosexuality. This has all the ingredients of a huge scandal and our local papers will feast lustily.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Buying a Senate seat or Mayor's chair

Here in NY we have the spectacle of a billionaire running for re-election and using his own fortune as his bankroll, just as he did for his first election. Across the river, in NJ, another very wealthy man, Jon Corzine, is dipping into his millions to purchase the governorship, evidently having become bored with being in the minority party in the US Senate. Isn't democracy noble and inspiring?

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Vatican astronomer on evolution

- Welcome to the Tablet

If you are able to access this link to THE TABLET (London), you will find a very wise article by the Jesuit priest and scientist who directs the Vatican Observatory. There is a growing effort to set science and religion at each other's throats, with political benefits to right win politics. Unfortunately some poorly phrased and placed articles by prominent Catholics have added to the confusion. Fr Coyne and others are trying to sort out the crossed wires.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Carter: Guantanamo Detentions Disgraceful

Carter: Guantanamo Detentions Disgraceful - New York Times

The former president has again spoken wisely about the wrongness of the Iraq war and the outrages in the military stockades like Gitmo. At least the world can get some sense that the US administration does not have universal support. In fact, the contrary appears to be happening. So much damage is being visited upon generations to come when the bitterness of this invasion and the occupation will poison relations between us and the vast Moslem world for years to come.