The Demon in the Shadows: Mental Illness, Mass Shootings, and an Adjunct’s Lonely Death

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Two very different stories in my newsfeed this morning. Both are tragic. Each gets attention for the questions it raises about law and justice. But each has another, less obvious thread that compounds the tragedy, complicates the law, raises more troubling questions of justice. Each challenges us to respond to those questions, as Catholics, as Americans.We've all been watching the unfolding tragedy of Monday's mass shooting at the Naval Shipyard in Washington, DC. The victims are being named … [Read more...]

The Church and the Costa Concordia: A Lesson

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Righting the ship. If you've been following the efforts  to raise the wrecked Costa Concordia cruise vessel, grounded for nearly two years on an Italian reef, you know it was no simple operation. It took vision, commitment, lots of money and equipment and time.Righting the Church (which is, even for those of us who share Pope Francis's graced optimism, always in need of righting) is the much the same.It only takes one person---the Concordia's captain, who swears he didn't know the reef … [Read more...]

Ladies and Gentlemen, Voyager Has Left the Building!

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NASA imageMaybe because I grew up being awakened before dawn to watch Gemini and Apollo launches with my space-bedazzled father, maybe because I'm Catholic and therefore understand that science and theology are just two different languages for the same wonder, but this story just makes my heart soar. Today the Voyager spacecraft---and with it, our earthbound eyes---left our galaxy and ventured into the depths of interstellar space.Though no man has gone there before, Voyager didn't … [Read more...]

Hey, Who You Callin’ Egregious?: More on a Blog Name

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In which Pope Francis gives me an inadvertent shout-out, and I get schooled in the etymology of egregiousness.The news service Zenit has released its English translation of Pope Francis's recent open letter to the founding editor of Italy's La Repubblica, a secular newspaper known for posing challenging questions to the Church's role in Italian life and world politics. In the letter, the pontiff addresses some of these questions directly and personally, as a conversation with Eugenio … [Read more...]

The Power of Names: 9-11, Nameless Children, and Deportees

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Image sourceCan a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you. See, upon the palms of my hands I have written your name. (Isaiah 49:15-16)I'm thinking about names today---the names of the dead. The tolling bells this morning, the moments of silence into which fell, one by one like stones into the rippling reflective pool of memory, the names of those who died 12 years ago today. We all have our snapshots, … [Read more...]

On Labor Day, Saying Thank You

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Are you off today for the Labor Day holiday? Don't forget to say thanks.Thank the barista who brews the latte you can relax over, the waitress at the IHOP, the grocery checker who rings up the last-minute stuff for the cookout. Thank the amusement park cast members, the movie ticket sellers, the baseball umps and peanut-tossers. Thank the lifeguards, the park rangers, the zookeepers, the museum staff. Thank the folks who refold all the clothes and rematch all the shoes during the blowout … [Read more...]

Susie Q, the Dancing Angel

Giovanni di Paolo (Italian painter, 1403–1482) Angels Dancing in the Sun

Medieval theologians---so goes the cliche---spent a lot of time arguing about how many angels could dance on the head of a pin. (As with much medieval theology, you had to be there to get why this mattered.) I know an angel who has been dancing on the points of pins, of nails, of knives all her life. And now, thanks to another angel---a podiatrist!---her amazing dance will continue with less pain.We were in high school when Susie Q was born. I remember how her twin sisters, my friends and … [Read more...]

Adios, Wretched Hive of Bile and Gluttony

Personification of Bile, with its heartbreaking bitterness, fire, lion's rage, and organ-gnawing eagle

I've been tag-teamed this month by a deadly sin and a medieval disease. I think this stuff is going around, like measles among the uninoculated. So let's consider this a health advisory.In my case, the deadly sin was gluttony. And I'm ashamed to admit it took me by surprise. You'd think a fat woman would see that one coming . . . and going. But since moving to L.A. to address my depression and hoarding, I've been pretty good---better than I can remember for a long, long time---at making … [Read more...]


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