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Archive for January, 2010

Professor Terry Rey, the Chairman of the Religion Department at Temple University, has close personal ties to Haiti. He recently published his reflections in a local newspaper, The Philadelphia Daily News.

I have read many commentators on this issue, but Terry’s thoughts were particularly meaningful and provocative. Thank you, Terry, for taking the time to share your perspective during a time of so much pain.

Terry sent a letter to friends and colleagues that included the full text of what he had submitted to  The Daily News. In his letter, he shared his  regret that the editors  chose to leave off the last paragraph. Since he intended it for publication, I am sharing it here:

I lived in Haiti for a long time; two of my children were born in Haiti to a Haitian mother, my first wife, who tragically died of cancer in 2001. When I learned of the earthquake, I felt very much like I did when I learned of her diagnosis. This horrible tragedy saddens me greatly and my condolences go out to all who have lost loved ones. I fear for our relatives and dear friends in Haiti, most of them in Port-au-Prince, of whom we have little or no news. Our house there may well be destroyed; it is quite near the Montana Hotel, which is itself now rubble. There were as many as 300 people inside when the Montana collapsed. They had no warning. My wife and I would often go there to sip rum punch while watching the sun set over the city and the Bay of Port-au-Prince – the city on the very plain that late yesterday afternoon was all covered with rising smoke and human wailing. The cathedral has largely collapsed. That was a second home for me while I lived in Haiti. I often went to Mass there, or just to pray or do research. I grieve for Archbishop Miot, who died there yesterday, across the street in his office, where once I interviewed him. He blessed my rosary then. This Sunday I will go to a Haitian church – there are about 60 of them here in Philadelphia – to pray with Haitians for Haitians and for Haiti, our Haiti, and to express my solidarity with them. The rosary will be with me, and Msgr. Miot and everyone else will be in my prayers.

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One of the most interesting moments for me at the Interfaith Youth Core Conference in Chicago was hearing a high school student, Levi Petrone, raise a question from the audience for a speaker, Rabbi David Saperstein. Levi said (as I recall), “I am a Fundamental(sic) Christian. Is there room for me in the interfaith movement?” He was responding to Rabbi Saperstein having said(again, according to my recollection), “All of us need to delegitimize the extreme elements in our religious traditions.”

I  was not the only one moved and challenged by this exchange. I noted Levi’s name, and found this interview on You Tube with him. Levi is planning to go to Bob Jones University where he hopes to be an “interfaith warrior.” 

Listen to the interview from 2:25 to 4:08 if you want to hear  a fascinating story of how transformation occurs, twentyfirst century style.

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Read about Pastor John Voelz of  Jackson, Michigan here.

Last year, Voelz was tweeting at a conference outside Nashville about ways to make the church experience more creative — ways to “make it not suck” — when suddenly it hit him: Twitter!

There’s a time and place for technology, and most houses of worship still say it’s not at morning Mass. But instead of reminding worshippers to silence their cell phones, a small but growing number of churches across the country are following Voelz’s lead and encouraging people to integrate text-messaging into their relationship with God.

On Easter Sunday, pastor Todd Hahn prefaced his sermon by saying, “I hope many of you are tweeting this morning about your experience with God.”

“It’s a huge responsibility of a church to leverage whatever’s going on in the broader culture, to connect people to God and to each other,” says Hahn.

What do you think? Please email or tweet your response….

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Check out the New York Times today, especially this article on recent research on the aging brain. As we have been hearing for awhile now, the brain is plastic, and continues to have the ability to change in positive ways, even as we age. But it turns out that simply acquiring new information–knowing more “stuff”– is not the best way to promote  growth. Rather,

With a brain already full of well-connected pathways, adult learners should “jiggle their synapses a bit” by confronting thoughts that are contrary to their own… continued brain development… may require that you “bump up against people and ideas” that are different.

Seems to me like a prescription for multifaith dialogue/learning. Yet another reason to resolve to encounter our “others” in the year to come.

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