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Soul-searching for racial justice (Indescribable)
The National Catholic Reporter ^ | May. 26, 2012 | Professor Alex Mikulich

Posted on 05/26/2012 1:45:59 AM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet

It is a sign of the times that the Trayvon Martin case is waning away from public attention, and that the U.S. Catholic bishops have not addressed the fundamental issues of racial justice at stake for the nation.

A failure to address the social structures and culture that is death-dealing for African-American and Latino men and women in America -- the context for the Feb. 26 killing of Martin -- is a “supreme dishonor to the Creator” in terms of the most basic tenet of Catholic social teaching: that we are all made in the image and likeness of God.

President Barack Obama implicitly invited Americans to notice how the Imago Dei is at stake when he acknowledged the universal appeal of the case to every parent in America.

He spoke in personal terms, saying, “When I think about this boy, I think about my own kids. … Every parent in America should be able to understand why it is absolutely imperative that we investigate every aspect of this.”

The president continued, “If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon Martin.” This is only one of too many cases that shake my soul and ought to shake every American to the core of our being. Every parent ought to be able to let their child go to the corner store for a soda and candy without worrying for the child’s life.

Regardless of whether or not your child looks like Trayvon Martin, regardless of whether or not your child wears a hoodie, people of faith and the church ought at least to have the compassion to notice our divine and human connection with him.

The president concluded his remarks saying, “All of us have some soul-searching to figure out how does something like this happen.” That may be the most significant and compounding tragedy of this case: that the U.S. Catholic bishops do not lead people of faith and justice to do real soul-searching about why something like this happens in 2012.

The U.S. Catholic bishops have undertaken a major campaign to defend religious liberty, ranking the Health and Human Services mandate regarding contraception as the greatest threat. Addressing concerns of religious liberty are certainly legitimate, but the timing, the tone and the exaggeration of the extent to which religious freedom is threatened undermine the bishops’ own case.

Invoking the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” in April the bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty called the faithful to practice civil disobedience against policies the church views as an assault on religious liberty.

In an irony that seems lost on the U.S. Catholic bishops, they invoke King with a hint of nostalgia for courage they could not muster in 1963, and they seem to have forgotten that the church’s support for the civil rights movement was weak and late.

The bishops also seem to have forgotten that King wrote his “Letter from Birmingham Jail” in reply to a group of eight religious leaders, including Catholic Bishop Joseph A. Durick of what was then the Mobile-Birmingham, Ala., diocese.

Durick and his fellow clergymen defended the status quo in 1963, appealing for “law and order and common sense,” as they criticized as “unwise and untimely” the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s Birmingham Campaign to end that city’s segregation system.

Once again, it seems it is the bishops who are not in tune with the signs of the times. Not a word for Trayvon Martin, not a word of support for the president’s invitation to soul-searching about why this happens.

The bishops are oddly silent about the institutions, unjust laws and cultural milieu that so violently deny people of color freedom of movement and human flourishing in America today. In terms of the Affordable Care Act and the need to address racial disparities in health care, an assault on affordable health care could not be more untimely.

A deeper irony, perhaps, is that Durick eventually became a champion for civil rights when he later reflected upon King’s letter.

The bishops and the faithful ought to read King’s letter with the same openness to conversion that led Durick to become a champion for civil rights in the 1960s. In the context of a so-called “post-racial” society that associates blackness with criminality, the enduring wisdom of “Letter from Birmingham Jail” is striking.

The bishops beautifully cite King’s wisdom, drawing upon Sts. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas to say that “an unjust law is no law at all.” Yet if the bishops are to speak with the same moral authority from which King wrote in 1963, they will have to preach like King did, by bodily example. As theologian M. Shawn Copeland puts it, both the bishops and people of faith must “enflesh freedom” by the way we live.

At a time when too many youth are victims of gun violence, when the cradle-to-prison pipeline disproportionately arrests, sentences and incarcerates black and brown men at rates of one in nine and one in 36 respectively, this is no time to evade the struggle for racial justice. King’s witness still calls us to enact racial justice.

When the bishops and people of faith take up King’s witness, that will be a real tribute to American freedom. That would honor both universal human dignity and our Creator.

[Alex Mikulich is research fellow at the Jesuit Social Research Institute at Loyola University New Orleans. He is coauthor of The Scandal of White Complicity in U.S. Hyper-Incarceration: A Nonviolent Spirituality of White Resistance (forthcoming from Palgrave MacMillan in 2012).]

Resources on faith and racism

1963 statement by Alabama clergymen mlk-kpp01.stanford.edu/kingweb/popular_requests/frequentdocs/clergy.pdf

“Letter from Birmingham Jail” mlk-kpp01.stanford.edu/kingweb/popular_requests/frequentdocs/birmingham.pdf

“Church struggled for civil rights” by Theresa Laurence in the Tennessee Register, Feb. 17, 2012 www.dioceseofnashville.com/a-civirights1.htm

********

Alex Mikulich, Ph.D., is an anti-racist Roman Catholic social ethicist, activist, and scholar working to address white moral complicity and racism in the Roman Catholic Church and society. Alex co-edited (with Laurie M. Cassidy) Interrupting White Privilege: Catholic Theologians Break the Silence, (Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 2007) which won the College Theology Society’s Theological Book of the Year award for 2008. In addition to co-editing Interrupting White Privilege and co-authoring the introduction, his chapter “(Un) Learning White Male Ignorance,” is one of the constructive theological contributions to the volume. His “Mapping ‘Whiteness’: The Complexity of Racial Formation and the Subversive Imagination of the ‘Motley Crowd’” is published in Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics (Vol. 25, No. 1, Spring/Summer 2005). Currently, he is co-authoring a book tentatively entitled “The Scandal of White Privilege and U.S. Incarceration: A Nonviolent Spirituality of Resistance.”

Alex serves in a leadership role for two state-wide coalitions working to abolish the death penalty in Louisiana. In addition to helping these coalitions grow organizationally, he is researching and writing a white paper about the death penalty in Louisiana. These coalitions include Louisiana Catholics Committed to Repeal of the Death Penalty (LCCRDP) and Louisiana Coalition for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (LCADP).

He is also working with the Center for Responsible Lending to research the ways that predatory lending exacerbates conditions of poverty in Louisiana and Mississippi.

In his work as JSRI’s liaison with Mississippi, Alex collaborates with the Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation at the University of Mississippi, the Mississippi Economic Policy Center, the Margaret Walker Alexander National Research Center at Jackson State University, the Catholic dioceses of Jackson and Biloxi, and St Moses the Black Priory, the Norbertine Priory in Raymond, MS.

Alex serves as an anti-racist trainer and facilitator. He is currently co-facilitating a two-year “Race, Diversity, and Pedagogy” workshop for theologians in the College Theology Society (2009-2011). Since 2008, he has served the Pax Christi USA Anti-Racism Team and its work to serve Pax Christi USA’s long-range goal of becoming an anti-racist, multicultural peace through justice organization and movement. In his work with Pax Christi, he has co-facilitated anti-racism trainings for the Pax Christi National Council and staff, for the Pax Christi national conference, and for many local Pax Christi groups. He frequently addresses issues of white privilege and racism with high school, college, and graduate school groups visiting New Orleans on Post-Katrina immersion trips.

He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the College of the Holy Cross and his professional theological degrees from Weston Jesuit School of Theology (Master of Divinity) and Loyola University Chicago (Ph. D. in Theology). He brings twenty years experience integrating spirituality and social justice advocacy, teaching, and scholarship addressing issues of race and poverty. He and his wife Kara, who serves as a grant writer for the social collaborative of the Jesuit Southern province, enjoy the musical and cultural heritage of New Orleans with their two children and their basset-hound Harley.


TOPICS: Catholic; General Discusssion; Moral Issues; Religion & Politics
KEYWORDS: catholics; contraception; georgezimmerman; jesuits; nola; obama; socialjustice; trayvon; trayvonmartin; zimmerman
Comment self-deleted.
1 posted on 05/26/2012 1:46:20 AM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
an anti-racist Roman Catholic social ethicist

Too funny
2 posted on 05/26/2012 1:51:13 AM PDT by ComputerGuy (HM2/USN M/3/3 Marines RVN 66-67)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
What will happen to “racial harmony” in the US if white people stop subsidizing black people?

If the US economy does collapse (as many people people predict), how can the government continue a high level of “social spending”, i.e., welfare, food stamps, free housing, etc.

3 posted on 05/26/2012 1:58:23 AM PDT by Cowboy Bob (Greed + Envy = Liberalism)
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To: Cowboy Bob

The question answers itself.


4 posted on 05/26/2012 2:10:51 AM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet (Ich habe keinen Konig aber Gott)
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To: ComputerGuy

I bet he’s a lot of fun at parties...


5 posted on 05/26/2012 2:19:41 AM PDT by homegroan (Veni, Vedi, Velcro....since 1998)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
http://www.breitbart.com/Breitbart-TV?id=

He does have sons.

other than that he is the reason why I will never attend a Catholic Church

6 posted on 05/26/2012 2:23:05 AM PDT by scooby321 (h tones)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

And what about the racial justice for Mr. Zimmerman?

God use to call these people hypocrites. He still does.


7 posted on 05/26/2012 2:27:52 AM PDT by HarleyD
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To: 2ndDivisionVet; Cowboy Bob

““The Scandal of White Privilege and U.S. Incarceration: A Nonviolent Spirituality of Resistance.”

Spirited: The posted article is crafted for and appeals to shallow thinking, morally-deficient, feelings-led people.

Note that the author cites St. Augustine, a thinker noted for his probing expositions on pride, which he said is the beginning of all sin, and free will without which man could not possibly be a sinner. All men, bar none said St. Augustine, are sinners, a message repeated many years later by Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

But having cited St. Augustine the author proceeds to subtly deny volition on the part of people whose skin color is red, brown, and black (the helpless victims) while fully endowing the “white-skinned victimizers” with free will and malignant intent. For how could white-skinned people possibly privilege themselves at the expense of “helpless others,” let alone incarcerate them unfairly, unless they have the free will to do so?

When the supernatural God created mankind, He created all men, bar none, in His spiritual image. He created one race which was originally of one color. Only after the deluge did other skin colors appear. Yet all men were, and still are, of one race.

But note that the author’s warped “theology” speaks of multiple races of which some are the innocent victims of one other, the obviously evil-intentioned “white” race. The former represent the “all-good forces” and the latter the “all-evil forces.”

The author’s black & white reasoning is a great example of Gnostic Manicheanism-—the black and white view of all good vs all evil-— attributed to the Communists by Solzhenitsyn and roundly condemned by him because it validated the slaughter of millions of “all evil” men, women, and children.

The Manichean view of good forces vs evil forces allows sinners to comfortably forget their own sinful natures said Solzhenitsyn. And while in this condition of forgetfulness their pride inflates, allowing them to clearly see the sins of others while being blind to their own. And so they come to view themselves as avenging angels, defending the helpless innocent by battling and utterly destroying the forces of all-evil.

We need to see that this very dangerous Manichean view of all-good forces (i.e., social, environmental, gender & racial justice seeking liberals, progressives) vs all-evil forces (white Christians, capitalists, conservatives, etc) is at work in our country. And just as it did in Russia, it justifies the doing of evil to all Americans bearing the label “all-evil.”


8 posted on 05/26/2012 3:17:01 AM PDT by spirited irish
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To: 2ndDivisionVet; Cowboy Bob

““The Scandal of White Privilege and U.S. Incarceration: A Nonviolent Spirituality of Resistance.”

Spirited: The posted article is crafted for and appeals to shallow thinking, morally-deficient, feelings-led people.

Note that the author cites St. Augustine, a thinker noted for his probing expositions on pride, which he said is the beginning of all sin, and free will without which man could not possibly be a sinner. All men, bar none said St. Augustine, are sinners, a message repeated many years later by Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

But having cited St. Augustine the author proceeds to subtly deny volition on the part of people whose skin color is red, brown, and black (the helpless victims) while fully endowing the “white-skinned victimizers” with free will and malignant intent. For how could white-skinned people possibly privilege themselves at the expense of “helpless others,” let alone incarcerate them unfairly, unless they have the free will to do so?

When the supernatural God created mankind, He created all men, bar none, in His spiritual image. He created one race which was originally of one color. Only after the deluge did other skin colors appear. Yet all men were, and still are, of one race.

But note that the author’s warped “theology” speaks of multiple races of which some are the innocent victims of one other, the obviously evil-intentioned “white” race. The former represent the “all-good forces” and the latter the “all-evil forces.”

The author’s black & white reasoning is a great example of Gnostic Manicheanism-—the black and white view of all good vs all evil-— attributed to the Communists by Solzhenitsyn and roundly condemned by him because it validated the slaughter of millions of “all evil” men, women, and children.

The Manichean view of good forces vs evil forces allows sinners to comfortably forget their own sinful natures said Solzhenitsyn. And while in this condition of forgetfulness their pride inflates, allowing them to clearly see the sins of others while being blind to their own. And so they come to view themselves as avenging angels, defending the helpless innocent by battling and utterly destroying the forces of all-evil.

We need to see that this very dangerous Manichean view of all-good forces (i.e., social, environmental, gender & racial justice seeking liberals, progressives) vs all-evil forces (white Christians, capitalists, conservatives, etc) is at work in our country. And just as it did in Russia, it justifies the doing of evil to all Americans bearing the label “all-evil.”


9 posted on 05/26/2012 3:17:50 AM PDT by spirited irish
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

“Alex Mikulich, Ph.D., is an anti-racist Roman Catholic social ethicist, activist, and scholar working to address white moral complicity and racism...”

Oh, please. I heard this liberal jevvie garbage forty years back. Sounds full of himself, IMO.

Did he remember to say, “We are all responsible”?

FWIW, I’m a Catholic who rejoices to see more black Catholics worshipping in my church and I’m no liberal, believe me.


10 posted on 05/26/2012 3:28:54 AM PDT by elcid1970 (Nuke Mecca now. Death to Islam means freedom for all mankind.")
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To: 2ndDivisionVet; scooby321
One thing that must be pointed out whenever posting an article from the Fishwrap...

All the way back in 1968, they were officially condemned by the appropriate bishop. They were also asked to drop the word "Catholic" from their title. Being an independent company (i.e., not an official media organ of the Church), they decided it was more important to be a tool of the devil rather than comply with their bishop's request.

Today, there is literally one reporter who is worth anything (John Allen). And even him, I personally read with a good deal of caution. The remainder is only worth looking at to see what far-left liberation theology whack-jobs believe.

Literally.

The text of the bishop's condemnation:

The Catholic Reporter, formerly the official newspaper of the Kansas City - St. Joseph, was begun by my predecessor under a policy of editorial freedom. That policy of editorial freedom [I] endorsed on my appointment as bishop of Kansas City - St. Joseph. When the National Catholic Reporter was launched, that original policy of editorial freedom was announced as basic to the new publication.

At all times it was presumed that the policy of editorial freedom was none other than that legitimate liberty declared and defended by the Second Vatican Council in its Declaration on Religious Liberty, further defined in the conciliar Decree on Communications, and, likewise, defended in the Constitution on the Church in the Modern World. It could not imply that pseudo-freedom from man's obligations to his Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier in vogue under the standard of the 19th century liberalism. It could not imply, as a conciliar declaration on religious liberty clearly states, freedom in the moral order. As Cardinal Koenig pointed out in his recent address to editors, there is a legitimate freedom of opinion to be exercised by the Catholic press so long as it is absolutely loyal to the Church's teachings. If an editor is to merit the name "Catholic," he must remember "to think with the Church."

As long as the Catholic editor carries the name Catholic, he can never forget that he is a teacher of Christ's revelation. What he writes necessarily touches on faith -- that gift of the Holy Spirit which "we carry in earthen vessels" and by which we accept Christ, the Word of God Incarnate, and His revelation.

The Catholic editor must manifest a reverence which must shine through in his attitude and in his every expression. The Gospel is clear on the destructive effects of ridicule, for example, in recounting of the taunts hurled at Simon Peter: "You also were with Jesus of Nazareth," and their effects on him who, once converted, was to confirm his brethren.

As the editors of the National Catholic Reporter know, I have tried as their pastor, responsible for their eternal welfare, and that of those whom they influence, to guide them on a responsible course in harmony with Catholic teachings. When private conferences were of no avail, as is well known, I had to issue a public reprimand for their policy of crusading against the Church's teachings on the transmission of human life, and against the Gospel values of sacred virginity and dedicated celibacy as taught by the Church.

NOW, AS a last resort, I am forced as bishop to issue a condemnation of the National Catholic Reporter for its disregard and denial of the most sacred values of our Catholic faith. Within recent months the National Catholic Reporter has expressed itself in belittling the basic truths expressed in the Creed of Pope Paul VI; it has made itself a platform for the airing of heretical views on the Church and its divinely constituted structure, as taught by the First and Second Vatican Councils. Vehemently to be reprobated was the airing in recent editions of an attack on the perpetual virginity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the virgin birth of Christ, by one of its contributors.
Finally, it has given lengthy space to a blasphemous and heretical attack on the Vicar of Christ. It is difficult to see how well instructed writers who deliberately deny and ridicule dogmas of our Catholic faith can possibly escape the guilt of the crime defined in Canon 1325 on heresy, and how they can escape the penalties of automatic excommunication entailed thereby.

In fairness to our Catholic people, I hereby issue an official condemnation of the National Catholic Reporter. Furthermore, I send this communication to my brother bishops, and make known to the priests, religious and laity of the nation my views on the poisonous character of this publication.

As a bishop, a member of the college of bishops, and one in union with the head of the college, Christ's Vicar on earth, I proclaim with my brother bishops that the Church is, indeed, always in need of reform. This reform is a matter of putting on the mind of Christ, as St. Paul declared, through our contemplation of Christ in His teachings and through our loyalty to the teachings of the Church so painstakingly expressed in recent years in the constitutions, decrees and declarations of the Second Vatican Council.

The status of the world when our Lord came was a deplorable one. We are not surprised that the status of man, wounded by original sin, remains deplorable as long as he does not heed the voice of Christ and his authoritative teacher, his Church. Sociological studies, according to modern techniques, can help us appreciate the status quo -- the exact thinking and acting and attitudes of our people. For this we are grateful. But it is a total reversal of our Divine Lord's policy to imagine for a moment that the disclosure of attitudes through such surveys becomes the norm of human conduct or thinking.

Christ and His apostles preached first and foremost penance, metanoia, the change of mind and heart. The Church continues to do so today, but it finds itself increasingly more frustrated in its teaching of the ideals of our Lord by the type of reporting, editorializing and ridicule that have become the week-after-week fare of the National Catholic Reporter.

IN AS MUCH as the National Catholic Reporter does not reflect the teaching of the Church, but on the contrary, has openly and deliberately opposed this teaching. I ask the editors in all honesty to drop the term "Catholic" from their masthead. By retaining it they deceive their Catholic readers and do a great disservice to ecumenism by being responsible for the false irenicism of watering down Catholic teachings.

I further ask the editors and the board of directors, for the love of God and their fellow men, to change their misguided and evil policy; for it is evident to me that they have already caused untold harm to the faith and morals not only of our laity, but of too many of our priests and religious.

I make this statement with apostolic freedom as given by our Lord to His followers; I make it conscious of the heavy burden that is mine as a bishop, as one enjoined by the Holy Spirit through the pen of St. Paul: "Reprove, entreat, rebuke in all patience and doctrine; for there will come a time when they will not endure the sound doctrines; but having itching ears, will heap up to themselves teachers according to their own lust, and they will turn away their hearing from the truth and will turn aside rather to fables." (2 Tim. 4:2-4)

Scooby, if you choose never to set foot in a Catholic church, that's your business one way or the other. I would certainly hope that reading opinions expressed in the Fishwrap is your rationale.

11 posted on 05/26/2012 4:00:34 AM PDT by markomalley (Nothing emboldens the wicked so greatly as the lack of courage on the part of the good-Pope Leo XIII)
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To: spirited irish; Mrs. Don-o

Well said

“...and who is willing to cut out a piece of his own heart?”


12 posted on 05/26/2012 4:25:50 AM PDT by don-o (He will not share His glory and He will NOT be mocked! Blessed be the name of the Lord forever.)
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To: HarleyD

“And what about the racial justice for Mr. Zimmerman?”

The national propaganda media is too busy trying to convict Zimerman to report this hate crime:

http://dfw.cbslocal.com/2012/05/20/pd-garland-man-set-clerk-on-fire-during-robbery/


13 posted on 05/26/2012 7:18:59 AM PDT by MikeSteelBe (Austrian Hitler was, as the Halfrican Hitler does.)
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To: scooby321; don-o
Excuse me?

Christ' Church survives 2,000 years of betrayers like Judas, deniers and deserters like Peter and the other Apostles, assassins and persecutors like Saul of Tarsus (Paul), but a ..

a...

a dweeb...

like this Alex Mikulich specimen makes you decide to "never attend" a Catholic Church?

Looks like he's not the only one who makes wacky judgments based on wildly inflated, wrong-headed generalizations.

"I'm just sayin..."

14 posted on 05/26/2012 7:53:46 AM PDT by Mrs. Don-o ("You can observe a lot just by watchin'." - Yogi Berra)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
“When I think about this boy, I think about my own kids..."

Only if you have raised your kids to engage in thuggish behavior, which is likely to get them imprisoned or killed.

The bishops are oddly silent about the institutions, unjust laws and cultural milieu that so violently deny people of color freedom of movement and human flourishing in America today.

Which "unjust laws" are you referring to, and how do they deny people of color freedom of movement? Laws against drug dealing, burglary, robbery, assault, murder?

The National Catholic Reporter should apologize for having such a moron professor on its staff.

15 posted on 05/26/2012 10:29:32 AM PDT by JimRed (Excising a cancer before it kills us waters the Tree of Liberty! TERM LIMITS, NOW AND FOREVER!)
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To: spirited irish
The posted article is crafted for and appeals to shallow thinking, morally-deficient, feelings-led people.

IOW, progressives, many of whom are "cafeteria" Catholics. (Choose which rules you like and follow them.)

16 posted on 05/26/2012 10:33:49 AM PDT by JimRed (Excising a cancer before it kills us waters the Tree of Liberty! TERM LIMITS, NOW AND FOREVER!)
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To: markomalley; Mrs. Don-o; don-o; JimRed

National Catholic Register’s Manichean View of Good and Evil: http://patriotsandliberty.com/?p=17326


17 posted on 05/26/2012 10:55:00 AM PDT by spirited irish
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To: spirited irish

Well said.


18 posted on 05/26/2012 11:54:51 AM PDT by Mrs. Don-o ("You can observe a lot just by watchin'." - Yogi Berra)
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To: Mrs. Don-o; All

There was a mix-up in the title which has been corrected to read: National Catholic Reporter’s Manichean View of Good and Evil http://patriotsandliberty.com/?p=17326


19 posted on 05/26/2012 12:37:33 PM PDT by spirited irish
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20 posted on 05/26/2012 11:21:49 PM PDT by A.A. Cunningham (Barry Soetoro is a Kenyan communist)
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To: scooby321

With such astute critical thinking skills as yours, shouldn’t you be out on a ledge somewhere hoping for a strong gust of wind?


21 posted on 05/26/2012 11:23:54 PM PDT by A.A. Cunningham (Barry Soetoro is a Kenyan communist)
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