Monday, January 31, 2005
Sunday, January 30, 2005
Infants and Aids
Today the NYTIMES heralds new studies that show the near elimination of AIDS transmitted to newborns. The combination of AZT, education, health care - financed by government - has brought this wonder almost to full achievement. Besides being good news, it demonstrates how government action can help people, especially those who are poor or marginalized. This great accomplishment of public health should be saluted and become a model for so many other illnesses in society, including obesity and mental illnesses. I would also suggest that it may serve as a model of abortion reduction. At the same time, it is crucial that we recognize that this good news is very much limited to the US and the first world. AIDS still claims far too many lives unnecessarily in huge segments of the human family, largely due to the pricing of the newer drugs. When...
Saturday, January 29, 2005
Some inner analysis has been fomenting among some media about their coverage of religion in the US and worldwide. Some are acknowledging what is often so evident: reporters have a woefully deficient education in things religious. Often there is bias as in the Washington Post's famous negative stereotyping of evangelicals. There is frequently a barely concealed negative attitude toward the Catholic Church, especially on life issues. A glimpse of all this self-analysis can be found in the Columbia Journalism Review article linked here. Pinsky has also a longer series on evangelicals which has drawn very positive reviews.
Thursday, January 27, 2005
Back To New York
Tomorrow am I finish up week in Washington and take Amtrak back to NYC. Good week began with a few days visit with some very dear friends and their little boy. Then to our Paulist seminary to make a series of presentations to our 5 Paulist novices. Had a chance to get together with some very long standing friends, and some relatively newer friends. Except for some bitterly cold weather, the week has been terrific and rich in good gifts.
Monday, January 24, 2005
DC, Right to Life, St Paul
I am in a snowy, very cold DC, to do aprogram with 5 Paulist novices. Out here, near CU, lots of busses and people assembled for the March for Life. Good to know, on such a cold day. Still hoping that people recognize the incentives for and against abortion, like the economy, marriage breakdown and youth. Tomorrow the feast of the Conversion of St Paul. If he could change, we all can change.
Thursday, January 20, 2005
Four More Years
All today's Inaugural events did was to underscore how much can change in a few years. Sad that the President could not offer a concrete Peace in Iraq Initiative today! US world isolation will continue and the arrogance of our unilateralism will still spell disaster for us, for Iraqis, Muslims and now maybe Syrians and Iranians, and US/Coalition people will remain at severe risk.
Wednesday, January 19, 2005
Swearing in and swearing to truth
On the eve of the Inaugural, Condi Rice is passed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, with only 2 negative votes. Her testimony has been nothing but a repetition of the usual US administration wholesale denial of the realities of Iraq, before, during and after the disastrous war and occupation. The news today increases apprehension that the elections will spin into a wider horror. Clearly the insurgents know what they are doing, and are making strong headway. Yet the inaugural festivities tomorrow, as the confirmation hearing of Dr Rice, are a frightening and very blatant refusal to face the Iraqi mess that is consuming lives at an unbearable level. Where is the debate? The argument? Are we all cowed into compliance?
Tuesday, January 18, 2005
Had a chat last night with a good friend who is heading out to Sri Lanka, India and Dafur, as a CRS official. I ask your prayer for him and for his family who are back in Maryland. He should be back in time for the birth of his second child. And that only makes me more aware of the need to pray for his safety, health and travel, and for all the world-wide relief workers who do their work at considerable risk. Please pray for all of them. It also calls on our sustained generosity as individuals, communities and a nation. There will now ensue a long period of need for reconstruction and development in many places that have been hard hit and were already in great need before the tsunamis. Sustainable development is so crucial. It was wonderful to hear Professor Jeffrey Sachs last night, shedding light on the UN millennium Hunger Task Force and how just a small increase in our US aid (now so meager) could save millions of lives from death and misery. All this may change hearts and bring grace. The web page for CRS is above.
Sunday, January 16, 2005
It looks like Tim Roemer is having some serious troubles in his candidacy for Chair of the Dem party because of his Pro-Life position. Fortunately he is speaking out and not dodging the issues or differences. This could either be very positive or yet another diaster for the for the Dems (like the suppression of Gov Casey at their convention). As a Pro-Life Democrat, I am following this closely and urge you to do likewise.
Friday, January 14, 2005
Education For Parish Service (EPS)
Yesterday I went to Connecticut to give a talk at the EPS Forum Series. My topic was, "Dialoge with Skeptics." I drew on my many years as a college chaplain. I enjoyed the day very much. It also gives me the opportunity to salute the EPS Programs which provide excellent courses for lay people who are interested in parish ministry. At present, EPS, based at Trinity College in DC, flourishes in Ct, NY City, Washington area and Florida. I have been part of their offerings before and am very impressed with their staff, instructors and abilities. Highly recommended.
Wednesday, January 12, 2005
Shortly I am off to Sloan-Kettering for my monthly treatments and check-up. Say a prayer but I expect the visit to be routine. I have no complaints today. However, each time I visit this Cancer Center, I am again struck by realization of what an extraordinary place this is. Competence, skill, and a helpful, welcoming staff from top to bottom - all make this difficult place and its concern a truly blessed gift to thousands. I can never express my gratitude for this hospital, my doctors and all the staff. If anyone out there needs this kind of medicine, just contact me or the hospital. There are a few similar centers in other parts of the country. Makes a big difference.
Monday, January 10, 2005
A blessed Visit
I just returned from a great weekend in Washington with a couple I have known since their grad school days when I was campus minister. Now they have a 14 month old little boy who is a perfect little guy and who never stops amazing me with his good nature, fine temperment and boundless energy. I consider this little guy and his parents an outstanding gift in my life. And so today, I am overtaken with boundless gratitude to God for this gift in my life.
Friday, January 07, 2005
Alberto Gonzalez and the Death Penalty
The issue of the torture of prisoners is very important, but isn't the death penalty a clear method of torture. Surely the role of Gonzalez in the death penalty cases in the then Gov Bush administration in Texas should merit some outrage. I suspect that even the Dems on the Judiciary Committee are loath to be associated with any anti-death-penalty sentiment. Not much courage on offer at that committee hearing
Wednesday, January 05, 2005
Tsunamis and the Problem of Evil
"The most respectable argument against belief in God," is how I heard the problem of evil described in my early theology studies. The tragedies in South Asia raise again all the issues of evil in our world. I have never been too puzzled by humanly induced evil (or good) because I see potential for both within myself and others. However, massive evil caused by natural disasters is more mysterious. We live in a deeply flawed universe and those flaws bisect our own inner selves along with the tectonic plates whose shifts caused the earthquakes and psunamis. Why does a good God allow such imperfection to mount such horrendous evil? No one can answer that question but some prayer and respectful silence is the only stance we can take in response. What we can influence is human choice and decision making, even when we are at the mercy of weather and vast disruptions. So I try to be generous and also pray that all nations re-discover their own grace of generosity.
Sunday, January 02, 2005
Stingy in Our Response?
How pathetic is our bristling at the widespread observation that we, the wealthiest and only super power, have not been as generous as we could. Surely the dramatic increases now in US aid would seem to accept that our initial response was meager and paltry. Of course, we are stingy. That's one of the main reasons that we have so much and guard it so jealously. Some of have suggested that the Presidential Inaugural Festivities be made simple and those massive funds instead be donated to the tsunami relief. Why not? This is such a huge disaster and loss that it seems obscene for thousands of rich people to be dancing away the night at glittering and forgettable parties within a month of the tragedy.
Today feast is celebrated as an early manifestation of God's embrace of all peoples. he universality of Christian faith has never been as evident as it is today. Without any negative thoughts about other religious traditions, we Christians need to re-affirm regularly the utter irrelevance of race, caste, class and other divisions among people. Of course, we also need to inculturate the faith into the wide variety of cultures and to always highlight the richness of so many different languages, cultures, lands and histories. Almost no other movement has made this such an integral part of its message and inner life. Even today when, as we always say, the world has become so small, the need to affirm and manifest our universality has never been more urgent. The tragedies from the tsunamis in South Asia at this moment show the common gifts of our human condition: generous yet fearful.
Saturday, January 01, 2005
New for only 12 hours
Even though I slept (peacefully) through the arrival of the New Year, I am aware in these early hours of something new, but not fully new. All that has happened in the past year, and in all the years of old, will have impact and influence on this New Year. Yet there is something bracing and energizing about the fantasy of "starting all over." We are tired of the violence and the war and the epidemics that have surrounded us for so long. The Tsunami tragedies in Asia are so massive that we cannot even comprehend the scale or its measurements in numbers. What will we find in these new days and months? Asia, Iraq, Africa, ourselves -- all are in desperate need of rescue or redemption. Can God find us in the muddles and tragedies which are largely due to our own mindless mayhem, or the lack of our generosity to those events which just seem to happen, like earthquakes? Are we hiding in fear, or in our own comfort zones, or in our usual escape mechanisms? Maybe, despite the enormity of the tasks, we need to stop at the beginning of this year and allow God to break into our lives, our world and our confusion.