Around the Web (Part 1)

Check out these recent articles from around the web:

Who cares about the value of work? by EJ Dionne: “One of last week’s most important and least noted political events was the introduction of the 21st Century Worker Tax Cut Act by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. Murray favors a minimum wage increase to $10.10 an hour, but she also has other ideas that would help Americans at the bottom of the income structure to earn more.”

Chinese parents, trapped in one-child web, give babies away on Internet by Reuters: “Baby trafficking has been encouraged by the one-child policy and a traditional bias for sons, who support elderly parents and continue the family name, leading to the abandonment of girls. Even as China starts to relax the one-child policy, allowing millions of families to have a second child, it still penalizes people who flout the rules.”

The Christian Penumbra by Ross Douthat: “For believers, meanwhile, the Christian penumbra’s pathologies could just be seen as a kind of theological vindication — proof, perhaps, of the New Testament admonition that it’s much worse to be lukewarm than hot or cold. But it’s better to regard these problems as a partial indictment of America’s churches: Not only because their failure to reach the working class and the younger generation is making the penumbra steadily bigger, but because a truly healthy religious community should be capable of influencing even the loosely attached somewhat for the better.”

Henri Nouwen, Reaching Out: 25 Years of Image by Dan Wakefield: “Though I pray in some form or other every day I had not for a while thought of doing what Henri had asked—no words, simply sitting quietly and asking to be in the presence of Jesus. I did that yesterday, and I felt a great peace.”

Paul Ryan + Immoral Budgets = Public Service Award from a Catholic university? by John Gehring: “Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget proposals have been challenged in recent years by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, prominent Catholic theologians, a “Nuns on the Bus” tour and respected anti-poverty experts. When your guiding ideology seems to be making life harder for the working poor and coddling the super rich with more tax breaks, you better expect some moral scrutiny along the way.”

Icons of faith who said ‘yes’ by OSV Newsweekly: “OSV staff highlights four saints who answered God’s call no matter what.”

To the Edges by Erin Cline: “My grandmother taught me that God’s love is made visible in the world not in grand pronouncements, but in the simplest things done out of love.”

Catholic Church blasts Venezuela for ‘brutal repression’ of protesters by Reuters: “Venezuela’s Roman Catholic Church accused President Nicolas Maduro’s government on Wednesday of ‘totalitarian’ tendencies and ‘brutal repression’ of demonstrators during two months of political unrest that has killed several dozen people.”

The Faces of Food Stamps by Maya Rhodan: “These people could be your neighbors, your co-workers, or the person standing behind you at the supermarket.”


Top Quotes from Henri Nouwen’s Bread for the Journey

Reading Henri Nouwen’s Bread for the Journey, I was struck by the parallels found in his short reflections and Pope Francis’ big themes: the importance of mercy, presence, joy, and being a church of the poor. These themes are deeply rooted in the actions and teachings of Christ. Here are some of my favorites from Nouwen’s book, which offers a short reflection for each day of the year: 

  • Let’s not forget the preciousness and vulnerability of life during the times we are powerful, successful, and popular.
  • The great temptation is to cling in anger to our enemies and then define ourselves as being offended and wounded by them. Forgiveness, therefore, liberates not only the other but also ourselves.
  • Strange as it may sound, we can choose joy.
  • We want to hear, “I’ve been thinking of you today,” or “I missed you,” or “I wish you were here,” or “I really love.” It is not always easy to say these words, but such words can deepen our bonds with one another.
  • As John the Evangelist writes, “Perfect love drives out fear” (I John 4:18). Jesus’ central message is that God loves us with an unconditional love and desires our love, free from all fear, in return.
  • Love is eternal…When we die, we will lose everything that life gave us except love…It is the divine, indestructible core of our being.
  • To love is to think, speak, and act according to the spiritual knowledge that we are infinitely loved by God and called to make that love visible in this world.
  • When we truly enjoy God’s unlimited generosity, we will be grateful for what our brothers and sisters receive. Jealousy will simply have no place in our hearts.
  • When the Church is no longer a church for the poor, it loses its spiritual identity. It gets caught up in disagreements, jealousy, power games, and pettiness.
  • Those who are marginal in the world are central in the Church, and that is how it is supposed to be! Thus we are called as members of the Church to keep going to the margins of our society. The homeless, the starving, parentless children, people with AIDS, our emotionally disturbed brothers and sisters—they require our first attention.
  • Being with a person in pain, offering simple presence to someone in despair, sharing with a friend times of confusion and uncertainty…such experiences can bring us deep joy. Not happiness, not excitement, not great satisfaction, but the quiet joy of being there for someone else and living in deep solidarity with our brothers and sisters in this human family.
  • When people say of us, “See how they love on another,” they catch a glimpse of the Kingdom of God that Jesus announced and are drawn to it as a magnet.