Around the Web

Check out these recent articles from around the web:

Putin-linked think tank drew up plan to sway 2016 US election by Reuters: “A Russian government think tank controlled by Vladimir Putin developed a plan to swing the 2016 U.S. presidential election to Donald Trump and undermine voters’ faith in the American electoral system, three current and four former U.S. officials told Reuters.”

What does it mean to be a Christian rapper? A conversation with Sho Baraka by Olga Segura: “Many find it difficult to balance an affinity for rap, with its provocative themes and often profane language, and a life of faith. Baraka says, “I became so religious, I even stopped listening to secular music.”Eventually, he learned to reconcile these two parts of his identity. Hip-hop became a way to express his faith.”

How a Warming Planet Drives Human Migration by Jessica Benko: “Climate change is a threat multiplier: It contributes to economic and political instability and also worsens the effects. It propels sudden-onset disasters like floods and storms and slow-onset disasters like drought and desertification; those disasters contribute to failed crops, famine and overcrowded urban centers; those crises inflame political unrest and worsen the impacts of war, which leads to even more displacement.”

How Child Care Enriches Mothers, and Especially the Sons They Raise by Claire Cain Miller: “A powerful new study — which demonstrated long-term results by following children from birth until age 35 — found that high-quality care during the earliest years can influence whether both mothers and children born into disadvantage lead more successful lives.” Read More

Stephen Schneck: The Church Must Come Together to Better Serve the Common Good

Dennis Sadowski has a new article on Stephen Schneck, one of the most important Catholic intellectuals in the country, as he retires from his academic career:

He’s more the thoughtful type, bringing a calm demeanor and insights formed by his Catholic faith to the high-volume and often contentious debates on important public policy issues since becoming director of the Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies at The Catholic University of America in 2005.

Schneck, 63, was set to retire April 28, but he doesn’t expect to go silent.

While he won’t have quite the stage the institute offered in exploring various aspects of the ever-changing political scene through symposia, lectures and guest columns, he is expecting to draw from a network of contacts nationwide to seek new opportunities to accentuate that politics must be a moral endeavor working for the common good….

As the reputation of the institute grew, Schneck gained wider notice in the political realm as well. He was invited to meet with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden at times. Several institute fellows have testified on key issues on Capitol Hill….

Schneck has been traveling around the country as he prepares for retirement, visiting friends at universities and meeting bishops with whom he has worked on institute programs to gain a better sense of how important the Catholic voice can be in influencing public policy choices. He thinks he may work to help bridge the polarizing gaps that exist across political party lines and within the church as well.

“If we can’t figure out a way to achieve solidarity or find a way of healing this rift, then I worry profoundly about both American political life and our church,” Schneck said. “This I think is the biggest task, the biggest challenge facing us. There are lots of challenges, but none of those challenges can be addressed until we address this and find a way to work together with one another.”

You can read the full article here.

You can also watch CNS’s video:

But What is God’s Will?

Though I’ve been trained by the Jesuits in discernment and have made a few major decisions in my life so far, I still find decision-making very hard, primarily because there’s rarely full clarity. At a retreat I led for high school seniors, I gave a talk about my own discernment into and out of religious life and then into marriage. Afterwards, a student approached me and asked me how she’s supposed to approach the decision about which university to attend and what to study. I repeated some of what I had shared in my talk but then she lamented, “But how am I supposed to know God’s will?!”

In my new book, God Moments: Unexpected Encounters in the Ordinary, I spend a good amount of time on the spirit of my student’s question. We’re often waiting to “find out” God’s will for our lives and don’t quite know how to do it. So we sit and wait. That waiting turns into idleness and inaction. I always point to a better question: What are God’s desires for me? This question allows us to explore the deeper dimensions of vocation and purpose and call. It also helps us engage in our own desires and dreams, giving us a role in the discernment process. My student, like many, expects discernment to be a one-way street where God expresses a “will” and we do it. Full stop. Except true discernment in the Ignatian sense (which I am trained in) does not work that way.

If God always gave us an absolute clear path then discernment wouldn’t be so hard. The reality is, we’re often faced with several good choices. For me, religious life and marriage were both good choices. My discernment was choosing the alternative that was better for me and fully living my life. Choosing between universities or jobs is also a choice between goods. Philosopher Ruth Chang, in her TED talk, points out that easy choices present alternatives where one is clearly better than the other. Hard choices are when the alternatives are neither better than the other overall. Religious life might have certain “better” qualities for me than married life but married life has its own qualities that are “better” than religious life. But overall, each alternative is equally good. So we hem and haw and pine for an answer from God because we just can’t decide.

I suggest four elements in an approach to a difficult discernment:


A hallmark of Ignatian spirituality is being aware of God’s presence in all things and at all moments. If we pay attention to our heart or gut we can gain some insight into which choice before us is pulling at our heart. Ignatius tells us that emotions and feelings are important indicators for us. While our gut feelings about a certain choice before us may not give us sureness in our decision, they are important information to consider.


If prayer is our relationship with God then we can bring all our feelings and choices before God in prayer. In my book, I mention a few ways you can bring your discernment to prayer, including making a list of pros and cons and using your imagination.


I use the metaphor of a discernment “fitting room” where you can try on a choice to see how it feels or looks. Now if you’re choosing between career choices or doctoral programs you can’t actually test out a choice for a time, but you can convince yourself you’ve made a particular decision. You’d be surprised how much that psychological act alone can tell you about whether that might be a good choice for you. During Christmas break from my studies as a Jesuit, I spent a few days where I told myself that I had decided to leave religious life and then a few days where I convinced myself that I had decided to stay. The choice I had to make was clear after this experiment. Choosing to stay created a lot of disquiet in me, while choosing to leave and pursue marriage gave me much peace and joy.


Sometimes we don’t realize how much our choices affect those around us—our friends, our family, and the communities in which we find ourselves. While discerning to leave religious life and later while discerning to move across country with my wife there were many voices from family, co-workers, and friends telling us what we should do. While others can’t make your decision for you, these voices are an important consideration, especially from those who know you well. It can also be comforting knowing you’re not completely alone in the process. You might also consider how others will be affected by your decision, whether it be career change, marriage, studies, or moving to a completely new place.

With all the information we have, we then make the best decision we can, even without perfect clarity. It’s not easy, and some choices can later be modified if we discover the decision was not ideal. I see our choices—when made in genuine prayer and in partnership with God—as ways we make God incarnate in the world. We can find joy in that. My student’s paralysis before her decision did not give her joy. If instead she saw her discernment not as waiting for an absolute “answer” from God but as an invitation from God to examine the good choices before her and that she is empowered to make the decision, she might find that discernment and discovering her true self can be quite, quite joyful.

Andy Otto is the creator and editor of God In All Things.

Amid Sexual Harassment Allegations, Bill O’Reilly Dumped from Fox News

via the AP:

Bill O’Reilly has lost his job at Fox News Channel following reports that five women had been paid millions of dollars to keep quiet about harassment allegations.

21st Century Fox issued a statement Wednesday that “after a thorough and careful review of the allegations, the company and Bill O’Reilly have agreed that Bill O’Reilly will not be returning to the Fox News Channel.”


Georgetown, Jesuits Formally Apologize for Their Sins Involving Slavery

via USA Today:

In a special ceremony Tuesday morning, the Jesuit order that founded Georgetown University formally apologized to the descendants of 272 slaves sold in 1838 to pay off the university’s debts.

More than 100 descendants of these slaves gathered at ornate Gaston Hall for the Liturgy of Remembrance, Contrition, and Hope, where the apology was delivered by the Rev. Tim Kesicki, president of the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States.

“Today the Society of Jesus, who helped to establish Georgetown University and whose leaders enslaved and mercilessly sold your ancestors, stands before you to say that we have greatly sinned, in our thoughts and in our words, in what we have done, and what we have failed to do,“ Kesicki said.

“We are profoundly sorry — it is our very enslavement of another, our very ownership of another, culminating in the tragic sale of 272 women, men, and children that remains with us to this day, trapping us in an historic truth, for which we implore mercy and justice, hope and healing.”