Who will get elected pope?

The conclave of 115 cardinals who will elect the pope convenes on Tuesday.  They will keep casting ballots until someone gets two-thirds of the vote.  Those of us who decry the office can still be interested in the outcome.  I think it would be good for worldwide Christianity if the cardinals would elect a non-European, such as Peter Turkson of Ghana.  Or maybe an Asian, such as Malcolm Ranjith of Sri Lanka or Luis Antonio Tagle of the Philippines.  Interestingly, liberal Catholics oppose the election of a pope from the developing world, since those societies are extremely conservative when it comes to “women’s issues” and, especially, homosexuality.

But I would love it if New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan were to be chosen. That’s because I’ve met him!  When he was Archbishop of Milwaukee, he was involved with a Catholic school where my wife taught.  Lutheran though I am, I think it would be cool to be able to say that I’ve met the pope. [Read more…]

Wanted: A married couple to fly to Mars

A private space venture is seeking a married couple to take a 501-day space flight, a fly-by to Mars and back.  The couple should be past child-bearing age–since radiation levels could pose a problem to the reproductive system–and be able to function and get along in a living space half the size of an RV for more than 16 months.  The planners are looking for a married couple because of the need for strong compatibility and intimate emotional support during that 16 months flying through the void.

Any volunteers? [Read more…]

American factions are coming together over drones

It has been said that America is polarized politically, but now an issue has emerged that is uniting conservatives and liberals, rightists and leftists, tea party activists and occupy Wall Street types:  Concern about drones.

Virtually all of these factions are praising Rand Paul’s filibuster protesting the Attorney General’s ruling that American citizens on American soil are subject to being zapped from above by drone technology.  All are opposing establishment-types from both parties who hail the new military technology.

Might this herald a new political consensus around civil liberties?  How about a Bill of Rights agenda, which would uphold the conservative causes of religious freedom and gun rights AND the liberal causes of freedom of speech and expression?

Are there other issues that might serve as a similar rallying point? [Read more…]

Leaving a vocation

In yesterday’s post about some cardinals complaining about Pope Benedict XVI leaving his calling, I asked about when it’s permissible to leave one’s vocation.  We didn’t really talk about that much, but I think it deserves consideration.  Set aside the question of the pope and let’s discuss this as it relates to the various vocations that Christians hold.  At what point should we leave a vocation for another one, and how do we know that we should do that?  First, let me give some preliminary thoughts. [Read more…]

The drone filibuster

Attorney General Eric Holder said that drones could be used against American citizens on American soil.  So libertarian Republican Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) staged a 13-hour filibuster–a real one, in which the Senator actually occupies for the floor rather than just threatening to–in protest.  Eventually, Holder said that drones would not be used against unarmed Americans, just terrorists in an emergency.

Some Republicans were annoyed with Paul’s “stunt,” as Sen. John McCain called it, and defend an aggressive use of drones.  Some of them were lunching with President Obama when Paul was filibustering, sparking some observers to see a changing of the Republican guard (to borrow an Iranian phrase), with a new generation of Republicans challenging the traditional GOP practice of giving a blank check to anything military and championing instead civil liberties.

What do you think? [Read more…]

North Korea says it will nuke America

North Korea said it “will exercise the right to a preemptive nuclear attack to destroy the strongholds of the aggressors and to defend the supreme interests of the country.”  Meanwhile, the UN unanimously passed new sanctions against the eccentric but nuclear-armed communist nation, with even China–which usually protects its client state by exercising vetoes–going along.  The White House says not to worry, that we could shoot down a North Korean missile, if they have one that would reach us, which they supposedly don’t.

I know that North Korea is always blustering and threatening.  But history has shown that it is unwise to dismiss what dictators and terrorists promise that they will do.  Hitler laid out his plans quite early, but hardly anyone took him seriously, until he started carrying them out.  It may take North Korea awhile to develop long-range missiles, but isn’t this evidence of what they intend to do with them?  Can we afford to just laugh at the North Koreans?  But can we do anything other than wait to see if they are serious? [Read more…]


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