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The Root of Violence

On June 14 a man opened fire with a rifle at a group of Republican lawmakers as they practiced for a baseball game with their Democratic counterparts, severely injuring Congressman Steve Scalise and also injuring four others. The shooter, who died after being shot by police, was 66-year-old James T. Hodgkinson of Belleville, Ill., a Bernie Sanders supporter who had previously been charged with several crimes, including DUI, resisting a police officer, and battery against his daughter and another woman.… Read More

 

Random Observations

Recently, while flying to Rome, I was browsing through the Swiss Airline magazine and noticed how much European cigarette ads differ from ours. The ones I saw, whether for individual packs or cartons, prominently warned of the dangers of smoking. By prominently I mean three or four times larger and more pointedly phrased.

For example, whereas a U.S. Camel pack carries a barely noticeable message at the bottom of the page—“smoking causes lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema, and may complicate pregnancy”—the Swiss Camel pack uses a heavy black frame covering over a third of the page and more blunt language. … Read More

 

A Most Pleasant Journey

Travel, it has been said, provides insights into places, people, and even more importantly, into the smallness of our individual places in the vast sweep of time and space. Having recently returned from a trip to Rome and Naples and a cruise to a number of Greek islands, I can testify to the accuracy of the observation.

Virtually every turn offered reminders of the greatness of the ancient Greek and Roman empires, each of which lasted about half a millennium and made monumental contributions to art, architecture, history, government, mathematics, science, and philosophy.… Read More

 

The Lost Art of Paying Attention

A month before the 2016 election, I wrote an essay called “My Political Disgust,” in which I criticized most politicians (Democrats and Republicans) as well as their spokespeople and the media.

One reader criticized the essay this way: “I did not read this article. The title already alerted me to how offensive it was.” She then went on to disapprove of what she had not read.Read More

 

The Health Care Quandary

Traditionally, most Americans placed a high value on personal responsibility. They believed people should provide for themselves by working hard, living within their means, and saving money for unexpected needs, notably illness. At the same time, they believed that parents should help children, children should help parents, siblings should help one another, and neighbors should help neighbors.

The traditional view no longer dominates. Many Americans emphasize rights more than responsibilities.… Read More

 

“Make Me an Instrument of Your Peace”

The prayer that begins with this petition is my favorite and the favorite of millions of people of various religious denominations around the world. A musical version of the prayer, “Make me a channel of your peace,” is also popular with church choirs. Here is the full prayer:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy.… Read More

 

The Sudden Firing of Bill O’Reilly

The full story concerning O’Reilly’s firing is not yet complete, so fairness demands that any judgment of the man be tentative and carefully qualified. A safe place to start such analysis is with general observations about scandal in high places.

Money begets power, which begets a sense of entitlement, lapses in judgment, and reckless behavior. Call this, if you will, the “I’m so rich and powerful that I can have whatever I want” delusion.… Read More

 

A Reflection on Pride and Humility

Two of Jesus’ parables give special emphasis to humility. The Parable of the Guests (Luke 14) explains how being humble would spare a guest embarrassment. The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Luke 18), explains that a humbler penitent is more pleasing to God than a proud one. Both parables end with the very same sentence—“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

These parables and other biblical passages make clear that humility is a virtue, but it is still difficult to define.… Read More

 

The Other Side of Forgiveness

We are reminded of the importance of forgiving others every time we recite the Lord’s Prayer and ask God to “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” But there is another side to forgiveness that is less prominent in Christian, including Catholic, teaching. That side is helping others to forgive us.

The admonition to forgive others for their offenses is first offered in the Old Testament (see Genesis 50:17 and 1 Kings 8:50).… Read More

 

The Media’s Role in Social Discord

In late March, 2017, a 14 year old Rockville, MD girl was allegedly dragged into a school bathroom and raped by two illegal immigrants from Central America, one 18 years old and the other 17, both freshmen at the school. Although the story was covered by Fox News and Hispanic channel MegaTV, mainstream networks ignored it. ABC, NBC, and CBS gave it zero coverage that evening and the next morning.… Read More