Sursum Corda
"an insightful Catholic Blog that eschews extremism in any direction."
--Commonweal Magazine
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Topical musings from a Catholic perspective

Friday, June 21, 2002
ROLHEISER: In his weekly column , Fr. Ron Rolheiser speaks about how we might "carry" this scandal in a biblical way. Here is an excerpt:

Carrying this scandal biblically also means that we must resist the temptation to personally distance ourselves from it by taking the attitude: "Don't look at me! I'm innocent! Don't paint me with that brush!"

We're family and this has happened inside our family. A biblical faith and Christ-like compassion does not link itself to the family's graced moments, its saints, martyrs and proud achievements and then distance itself from its dark history, its compromises, its betrayals and its sin. Jesus didn't do that. His love for us and his solidarity with the family made for a very painful conscription. He was crucified between two thieves and was judged, at the moment of his humiliation and death, by association to be as tainted as those who died around him.

People present at the Crucifixion were not making distinctions as to who was guilty and who was innocent. Jesus was seen as tainted, pure and simple. Perhaps that was the most painful aspect of all for him as he underwent his crucifixion. This, too, is what's asked of us. The sex scandals re-make present the original scene at Calvary - Christ dying between two thieves. We are, each of us, all three of those characters.

posted by Peter Nixon 4:26 PM
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HELP JANITORS AT YAHOO: Janitors who clean the Yahoo! office in San Jose, California, have been the target of an intense campaign of fear and intimidation in response to their attempts to raise wages, secure health care, and have a voice at work by joining the Service Employees International Union. Most janitors at Yahoo! earn about $16,000 a year and have no health insurance for themselves and their families.

"I feel bad when I walk around Yahoo!," says Francisco Casteneda, Yahoo! janitor. "I can see that Yahoo! has money, but they don't ensure that we are paid well, and we don't have health care for our families."

here to send a letter to Yahoo! CEO Terry Semel. Ask him to ensure that Yahoo's cleaning sub-contractor, Team Services, meets industry standards and follows federal labor law.

Need more info? Visit Boo Hoo Yahoo! a site a site recently launched by the janitors to dramatize their efforts to secure decent wages and basic benefits.

posted by Peter Nixon 3:31 PM
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VIEW FROM ABROAD: The British Catholic weekly The Tablet provides an analysis of the Bishop's meeting in Dallas. There was an interesting description of the scene outside the meeting:

At Dallas, every sexual theme that touched on religion – and which could possibly include the term “abuse” – was represented in the scores of placards being waved in the sweltering heat outside the Fairmont Hotel. The Queer Liberation Front called for the Church to STOP SPIRITUAL TERRORISM, and the mothers’ group had a simple demand: JAIL PAEDOPHILES. Catholic feminists were jumping on the bandwagon, staging a counter-summit in Dallas to insist that “the issues are the same” whether a priest’s sexual partner is “male or female, 8 or 18 or 38”. A group called Celibacy Is The Issue publicised lists of married popes, and conservatives declared that Vatican II had “gayed” the Church and chartered pederasty. One bottle-blond man shook a sign that read RECOVERING CATHOLIC SURVIVOR. Why, exactly, were Doctors Against Circumcision present, urging INFANTILE CIRCUMCISION IS GENETICALLY MANIPULATIVE SEXUAL ABUSE? One gentleman had journeyed all the way from the North Carolina mountains to urge: ABOLISH THE SACRIFICE OF THE MASS (HEBREWS 10:12). But then, this is America, which heaves with so much reckless religious energy that there is a touch of the freak show even at a meeting as solemn as Dallas.

posted by Peter Nixon 11:19 AM
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HAUERWAS: This week's National Catholic Reporter has a cover story on Methodist theologian Stanley Hauerwas. In the wake of September 11th, Hauerwas has become something of a lightning rod because of his uncompromising commitment to Christian pacifism. For Hauerwas, Christian nonviolence -- even in the face of terrorism -- “is not a strategy to rid the world of war, but rather, as faithful followers of Jesus, we cannot imagine being anything other than nonviolent in a world of war.” In addition to the cover story, there are articles on Hauerwas's critics and some excerpts from his writings.

posted by Peter Nixon 10:57 AM
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TEN YEARS: My wife and I celebrated ten delightful years of marriage yesterday and are making a Marriage Encounter retreat this weekend to mark the occasion. Please keep us in your prayers.

posted by Peter Nixon 10:40 AM
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Thursday, June 20, 2002
DISNEYLAND: A few weeks ago, my four-year old son was faced with a problem. We were at Disneyland, and he wanted a hat. The problem was he couldn’t decide which one. “I want the Captain Hook hat,” he would declare solemnly. After wearing it around the store for a couple of minutes, his face would suddenly melt into tears. “No, No, not the Captain Hook hat! I want the Peter Pan hat!” This process was repeated with the other hats. He couldn’t decide. He wanted them all.

Are we any better? I know that I am not. I, too, have looked on the Pottery Barn catalog with lust in my heart. My violations of the Tenth Commandment are legion. I covet my neighbor’s goods, his large sports utility vehicle, and the ever-diminishing size of his wireless phone. I run my hands over his granite countertops, feel the heat from his restaurant-size six-burner gas stove, and look with longing at his large collection of imported German power tools.

What is it with all this “stuff” anyway? What are we trying to compensate for?

In the Gospels, we often find Jesus challenging the rich. What is interesting is that he does not primarily castigate them selfishness. Jesus seems more concerned with the impact of riches on the spiritual health of the rich. That is the message of the story of the rich young man who is unable to give up his possessions to follow Jesus.

We want to “have it all,” but we have lost sight of what that means. Our obsessive desire for material goods is, to some extent, a perversion of a much deeper desire. Older cultures understood that all of our particular desires participate in a greater Desire that cannot be completely satisfied in this life. But without that understanding, we find ourselves desperately trying to fill a God-shaped hole in our hearts with material things that ultimately fail to satisfy us.

It’s okay to go to Disneyland once a while. It’s fun. But it’s not where we live and eventually we’ll have to go home to where we really belong. Are we ready?

posted by Peter Nixon 4:57 PM
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SUPREME COURT BARS EXECUTION OF MENTALLY RETARDED: The New York Times has a good summary of the 6-3 decision.

posted by Peter Nixon 11:43 AM
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Wednesday, June 19, 2002
HOLD THE FIRE AND BRIMSTONE: Today's L.A. Times has an article about how preachers are no longer mentioning hell in their sermons. "It's just too negative," said Bruce Shelley, a senior professor of church history at the Denver Theological Seminary. "Churches are under enormous pressure to be consumer-oriented. Churches today feel the need to be appealing rather than demanding."

posted by Peter Nixon 3:57 PM
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GOD'S PRAGMATIST: An interesting review of Charles Taylor's new book on William James in this week's New Republic. Worth reading.

posted by Peter Nixon 3:52 PM
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Tuesday, June 18, 2002
FROM TODAY'S GOSPEL: Jesus said to his disciples: "You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. (Mt 5:43-45)

Is He serious? Or is He just trying to make a point? Does He really expect us to pray for our enemies? Does He really expect me to pray for Osama Bin Laden? I'm not sure I can do that. At least not yet.

For a different perspective on today's readings, read Sean Gallagher's musings at Nota Bene.

posted by Peter Nixon 9:20 AM
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Monday, June 17, 2002
MAILBAG: Thought I should share this letter from a reader who wrote regarding my reflection on God's will:

Your post brought to mind a story Elie Wiesel tells of the prisoners at Auschwitz bringing God to trial for crimes against humanity. For three nights the prosecutor brought witnesses, the defense rebutted, and the judge and jury listened. Finally both sides rested, and the jury, after deliberating for some time, came back with a verdict: guilty. There was silence, and someone said "so what do we do now?" The judge shrugged and said, "now we pray."

posted by Peter Nixon 2:11 PM
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COMINGS AND GOINGS: We've lost a couple of Bloggers over the past couple of weeks. Fr. Shawn O'Neal of Onealism has hung up his spurs, as has Martin Farkus of Zounds and Anthony Marquis of Veni Sanctus Spiritus. However, new Blogs continue to sprout up. I was contacted this week by Father Rob Johansen, author of Thrown Back, Father Bryce Sibley, author of A Saintly Salmagundi, and David Wagner, author of Cacciaguida(a reference to Dante). How do you tell all these guys apart? Well it may be helpful to bear in mind that for Fathers Rob and Bryce, everything's been going to hell since Vatican II, while for David, everything's been going to hell since the 13th century. Hey, it's a joke guys, lighten up a bit...

posted by Peter Nixon 10:45 AM
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FROM TODAY'S GOSPEL: Jesus said to his disciples: "You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one to him as well. (Mt 5:38-39)

Do we really live this counsel? Or do we try to parse the statement, to surround it with caveats and exceptions? What would happen if all Christians tried to live their lives in this way? Think about it.

posted by Peter Nixon 9:27 AM
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