Month: April 2012

That We May Be Called Children of God – Fourth Sunday of Easter

Fourth Sunday of Easter Acts 4:8-12; Ps 118:1, 8-9, 21-23, 26, 28, 29; 1 Jn 3:1-2; Jn 10:11-18   “See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God.” In this week’s readings, we find some powerful images of our relationship to God.  John’s Gospel speaks of the sheep and the good shepherd while the Second Reading from 1 John identifies us as children of God.  This latter designation, making us daughters and sons of the Most High, is so familiar that it can seem rather unremarkable.  Yet, what does it tell us about human beings that we may actually be called children of God?  One way of deciphering this image is to think of the incorporation of men and women into the Body of Christ, who is the Son of God.  Another way of approaching the matter is to examine the concept of childhood itself.  And here there can be a significant divergence of approach. One notion of childhood focuses primarily on capacity and status.  The child is by definition immature and incomplete, lacking full understanding and autonomy.  As a result, the child’s status as a moral agent is usually diminished so that he or she is not held to full account for transgressions.  Furthermore, the child’s status within the community is partial.  Enjoying only some of the typical rights,...

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Death Penalty Is Not Justice

Coadjutor Bishop Cirilo Flores of the Diocese of San Diego published a statement in the San Diego Union Tribune Today. His op-ed, entitled, “Death Penalty Is Not Justice,” explains that Catholic bishops oppose the death penalty because it is inconsistent with the belief that human life is sacred, it is too expensive, it does not provide closure to victims’ families, and there is the possibility of irreversible error. Reflecting on his own experience, Flores writes: Growing up in a barrio neighborhood in Riverside County, I saw firsthand how violence destroyed lives and families. I knew perpetrators and victims of violent crime, yet I came to the conclusion that the death penalty serves no one–not society, not victim’s families, not those seeking personal safety. We cannot teach that killing is wrong by killing. We cannot bring healing to families without forgiveness. We cannot sufficiently fund desperately needed law enforcement and social services when we waste hundreds of millions per year on the death penalty. The California Catholic Conference has endorsed the SAFE CAlifornia Act to replace the death penalty with a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. Flores writes: I pray that this coming November all Californians will find the use of the death penalty unnecessary, wasteful, and unjust. Amen! Some readers will recall that our Catholic Call to Abolish the Death Penalty was signed by...

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A Long Laughing Look at Death

I thought it more than a little strange when one of my teachers at Notre Dame confessed that she regularly read the obituaries in the local newspaper, often before anything else. It was an indulgence in her “maudlin Irish demeanor,” she said. Well, now I find myself regularly giving way to the same indulgence, eagerly scanning the Scranton Times for interesting or noteworthy accounts of lives recently come to completion. This past Sunday, however,  I came across an obituary that did more than just chronicle the basic facts. It provoked questions about the very nature and function of obituaries , and indeed about the proper way in which to confront death itself. And it did so delightfully. If the picture of the relatively young man didn’t catch one’s attention, then the opening paragraph certainly would: John L Lathrop, 52, of Fayetteville, NY, died Wednesday, after a long, no holds barred, cage match battle with ALS. His diagnosis in 2009 gave him plenty of time to write this obit, which he did, so blame no one but the deceased. His immediate plan, post demise, was to go to heaven and give Lou Gehrig a great big sloppy kiss on the cheek. That set the tone for the obituary as a whole, and I found myself laughing out loud throughout, occasionally wondering whether I should feel guilty for doing so. The...

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Those Magenta Millennials

Micheal Sean Winters has directed us to a new survey by the Public Religion Research Institute on the Millennials.  In part because these are the students we teach, there is a treasure-trove of information for us in the report.  But I want to briefly direct attention to this generation’s “magenta” trend–as it continues to dramatically fail our political culture’s red-state/blue-state binary. For starters, we learn that a whopping 45% of this generation defines itself politically as “Independent.”  This is a huge number, even when compared to the 41% who, across all age groups, identify as independents in 2011.  (Incidentally, Gallup notes that the 41% number is the highest percentage of independents recorded in the history of the poll.) By way of practical example, only 37% of Millennials consider abortion to be morally acceptable.  This is one of the lowest percentages across all age groups, and a marked change from 1975 when Gallup tells us that young people were the most supportive of abortion. However, and despite our public discourse’s insistence on connecting abortion with GLBT issues at nearly every turn, it turns out that 59% of Millennials support same-sex marriage. Currently available political categories have already failed the complexity of the issues in our public discourse, but they are now beginning to fail the way our culture is thinking about them–and this trend is being led by young...

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