December 22-29, 2014
In some sense the Christmas story is one of borders. The Gospel of Luke tells us that the Holy Family’s journey begins with a population divided, a census of “the whole world...each to his own town” (2:1-3). And, in the Gospel of Matthew, Mary and Joseph travel to Bethlehem, then flee to Egypt, then settle in Nazareth—crossing border after border so that the Son of God might one day break them down.
December 8-15, 2014
In a small Central American country, campesinos agitating for land rights, journalists challenging the status quo and attorneys and advocates working for social justice face continual threats or acts of violence and intimidation. Scores have been murdered, driven into exile or “disappeared” in the night.
December 1, 2014
In Oscar Wilde’s play “Lady Windermere’s Fan,” the character Cecil Graham explains to Lord Windermere that he never talks scandal, only gossip.
“What is the difference between scandal and gossip?” Lord Windermere asks.
“Oh, gossip is charming!” Graham replies. “History is merely gossip. But scandal is gossip made tedious by morality.”
November 24, 2014
Consumers of the news can be forgiven for feeling overwhelmed by the array of choices they face. We can watch any number of cable channels at any time of day, and we tailor our social media feeds to get the latest news from a multitude of sources. But what are those sources, and are they trustworthy? How can today’s consumers, especially but not only young people, learn to distinguish between opinion journalism and objective reporting? Can they tell the...
November 17, 2014
Pope Francis’ trip to Turkey at the end of November comes at a critical time and place in the history of Christian-Muslim relations. Bordering Iraq and Syria, Turkey has in recent months been inundated with refugees fleeing the advance of Islamic State militants. The Christian presence in the Middle East has been on the decline for decades, but today civil war and the rise of extremist groups threaten to expel the tiny minority that remains.
November 10, 2014
Over a remarkable two-week period in Rome this October, church leaders from around the world met to talk about issues that confront and even diminish modern family life. And as in many modern families, the discussion at the Synod of Bishops on the Family at times became heated, disagreements became apparent and much was left unsaid at the table to be taken up at the next family gathering, a year from now in Rome.
November 3, 2014
Two months ago, the Kurdish journalist Muhanad Akidi was captured by the Islamic State while reporting from the Iraqi city of Mosul. He was 37 years old and worked for a local news agency. On Oct. 13, he, his brother and two other civilians were reportedly executed by militants because they refused to pledge allegiance to the Islamic State. His murder follows the death of an Iraqi cameraman, Raad al-Azzawi, who was publicly killed by the Islamic State...
October 27, 2014
First, some perspective is in order. Though this latest outbreak of the Ebola virus has, tragically, claimed the lives of more than 3,800 people, including one victim in the United States, the disease remains terrifying more within the media-stoked American imagination than as a practical threat in most parts of the world. Only one person has become infected outside the West African viral zone, though more desperate people like Thomas Eric Duncan, a...
October 20, 2014
Earlier this year the Minnesota Catholic Conference entered into an unusual partnership. As the state legislature considered two bills that would have legalized commercial surrogacy, Catholic leaders worked together with Kathleen Sloan, an executive board member of the National Organization of Women, to lobby against the measures. The proposed laws, which would have granted judges the authority to adjudicate surrogacy contracts, were ultimately defeated...
October 13, 2014
In confronting the quandary of Iraq and Syria, President Obama is tasked with choosing the least worst among a number of awful policy options. The “new” strategy President Obama described in a speech on Sept. 10 and put into action a few weeks later appears painfully similar to the failed policies of the recent past. For over three decades, four presidents have tried to bomb this complex and troubled region into submission.