Archive for July, 2010

AOK Thursday: Attracting Kindness

Thursday, July 29th, 2010 by JEL

In every act of kindness there are two players: the giver of the kindness; and the recipient. In these weekly posts we’ve tended to write about people giving kindness, how important it is, how great it makes the giver feel, and how it is the manifestation of Jesus’ “love your neighbor” teachings in the Gospels.

But what about the recipients? We all like being on the receiving end of a little kindness, right? Are there things we can do (or not do) that can increase our chances of kindness flowing our way? In a word, yes. Check out this re-enactment of the “beach blanket experiment” and see what kinds of behaviors attract (or repel) the kindness of strangers.

Communion…140 Characters at a Time

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010 by JEL

Rev. Tim Ross, a Methodist minister in the UK is getting ready to break some new ground in August. He’s attracting followers now for the first communion service delivered via Twitter. In this service, he will send out a series of Tweets which the recipients will read out loud and then type “Amen” as a reply.

Hundreds have already signed up and Ross hopes to have thousands by August.

“[Twitter is] a community that’s as real and tangible as any local neighbourhood and we should be looking to minister to it. The perception of church is often that it is rusting away in antiquated buildings and not in touch with the world around us, but this is a statement that we’re prepared to embrace the technological revolution.” – Rev. Tim Ross

AOK Thursday: “It’s harder to be kind than clever”

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010 by JEL

Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of, was this year’s commencement speaker at Princeton. In his address he tells the story of his summers in Texas on his grandparent’s ranch and the lesson he (painfully) learned about the difference between being clever and kind.

“What I want to talk to you about today is the difference between gifts and choices. Cleverness is a gift, kindness is a choice. Gifts are easy — they’re given after all. Choices can be hard. You can seduce yourself with your gifts if you’re not careful, and if you do, it’ll probably be to the detriment of your choices.”

It’s a wonderful speech, and I highly encourage you to read the whole thing.

“Grave Crimes”

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010 by JEL

In light of the numerous child sex abuse cases around the world, an increasing number of voices have been calling for the Catholic Church to change its stance on both the ordination of women and also on the celibacy vow for priests.

Last week the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith sent a letter to bishops worldwide setting forth new rules that will become a permanent part of church legislation. The letter states that the attempted ordination of women represents a “grave crime” subject to the same set of procedures and punishments which are delivered for sex abuse.

“At a briefing Thursday, Monsignor Charles Scicluna defended the inclusion of both sex abuse and ordination of women in the same document as a way of codifying two of the most serious canonical crimes against sacraments and morals that the congregation deals with.”

Blessed Are the Peacemakers

Monday, July 19th, 2010 by JEL

When we were developing the cover for What He Said, we knew that we wanted to include Jesus’ blessings from the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew. Among these, 5:9 was always a favorite:

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.”

Peacemakers. Not peacewatchers or peaceenjoyers. Makers. Active participants who work toward peace. In the middle of a conflict, working toward peace is a difficult task fraught with peril. And Jesus bestowed a special blessing on those who at least try.

Which makes this article very hard to read.

“Last month’s 6-3 Supreme Court decision in the case of Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project found that humanitarian groups can be judged guilty of aiding and abetting terrorism merely by holding peaceful dialog and engaging in political discussions with proscribed organizations. Those convicted may be sentenced to up 15 years in prison.”

Please read the whole thing.

AOK Thursday: Argentina

Thursday, July 15th, 2010 by JEL

At 4 AM this morning, after lengthy debate in their Senate, Argentina became the first Latin American country to grant gays and lesbians “all the legal rights, responsibilities and protections that marriage brings to heterosexual couples.” The vote was 33-27 with 3 abstentions.

Full story here.

Religion & Politics

Monday, July 12th, 2010 by JEL

Scanning NPR’s Religion & Ethics site today, I saw a number of newsworthy items where religion and public policy/politics overlap. If you’re not familiar with the stories, give them a quick looksee. Then scroll down to view the comments at the bottom of the page. There are many yawning chasms separating the populace.

AOK Thursday: Free Hugs!

Thursday, July 8th, 2010 by JEL

A couple of weeks ago, I talked about admiring acts of kindness that actually require some effort (vs. reaching in your wallet and pulling out a twenty). I still feel that way, even after reading this story.

Rebecca Kennel giving out free hugsOn the surface, Rebecca Kennel is just giving out hugs. Simple, right? But think. Hugging complete strangers, in my opinion, is HARD. It requires effort, throwing out your space bubbles and social boundaries, and just letting it rip.

Her hugs look like good ones, too; no double-shoulder pat-pats for Rebecca.

The Church and Labor Unions

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010 by JEL

If you want to set off fireworks at your next social gathering, bring up “unions” as a topic of conversation. Chances are you’ll get passionate views on both sides. But where do God and religion stand?

Catholic Scholars for Worker Justice recently published a document saying that:

“Catholic social doctrine is ‘forthright and unambiguous’ in regard to unions. ‘It states boldly that they are essential to the universal common good.’ [...] Opposing unions—that is, opposing the workers’ natural right of free assembly and right to decent wages and benefits—harms not only the workers directly involved. It also hurts society at large by lessening overall income and social solidarity and, thus, diminishing the universal common good.”

The impetus for the work was the anti-union activities of certain Catholic dioceses and Catholic organizations that were obviously not following church doctrine.