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April 27th, 2003
Some Women Need Not Apply

While my elementary school teachers told me to believe in myself, my parents warned me it was not good to be full of myself. Love thyself and trust thyself, yes, but not too much.
Be confident, yes, but not obnoxious, said mentors. Pride, or “excessive belief in one’s own abilities,” taken to an extreme, leaves no room within the human persona for the priceless virtue of humility.
The wrong pitfall?
Warnings against pride are well and good, but a qualification must be added. When discussing the pitfalls of pride and the honor in humility, it is necessary to nuance the discussion with special attention to gender. The ancient sin of pride was defined during a time in history when women’s experience…

April 27th, 2003
Learning to Live in the Messy World of Relationships

Recently a certain American Catholic bishop, who shall remain nameless, was characterized by a seasoned priest I know as “a man who loves order more than people.”
It certainly wasn’t meant as a compliment, but believe it or not, he made the remark more in sorrow than in bitterness, as part of a general lament about what life has come to in the United States.
In the U.S. we are very attached to order, and most of the time it is to our credit. The mail gets delivered. The fire department comes when called. You can get those grapefruit and chewable vitamins you need from your neighborhood grocery.
The human mess
But the desire for tidiness in our affairs can collide with the messy world of human relationships.…

April 20th, 2003
The Unexpected Wonder of Expecting

My two-year-old presses his ear to the bulge that is my belly.
“She’s not big enough yet,” he informs me, his diagnosis delivered with tiny confidence.
“What will happen when she’s big enough?” I ask.
“She’ll come out,” he says.
I have over three months left in this pregnancy, but already I feel huge and uncomfortable. I dread stepping on the scale and seeing the inevitable upward curve of the little black numbers. When I lament to my husband he pinches the fat newly layered on my arm, thinking I will find him cute. I snarl and make him drive me to Dairy Queen.
But those are the bad days, the times I give in to fixating on the minor inconveniences of helping God…

April 19th, 2003
The April 8 Attacks Demand a Reckoning

No doubt a sad page has been turned as a result of U.S. troop actions that led to the death of three journalists last Wednesday . It’s hard not to think that an unspoken and ominous message was delivered to the profession of journalism by way of the U.S. Army.
If I were writing that message as a news headline it would read: “U.S. to Independent Journalists in Iraq: Is That a Target on Your Head?”
What happened April 8?
Are we to believe the tank round fired at the Palestine Hotel?which killed two journalists?and the two missile attacks on the Al-Jazeera and Abu Dhabi news networks came about as a tragic coincidence?
Three incidents on the same day sounds like two too many.
Or could it be that the U.S. was…

April 19th, 2003
Thirtysomething, Divorced, and Catholic

Down for the count
During his homily on World Marriage Day, the priest asked everyone who had been married less than a year to stand up. He then asked everyone married one to five years to also stand. Then five to 10 and so on, until he got to 50 plus married years. He looked around and paused. Slowly he said, “Now everyone who is married should be standing up, right?”
I knew why he was asking the question. I too was surprised. About half of the adults in the pews were still sitting. I was also sitting although technically still married. But in a few months my divorce would be final. And so I sat. I didn’t know I had so much company.
Looking around I thought, well some of these folks might be single, some widows…

April 18th, 2003
Better Luck Tomorrow Brings Welcome Complexity to Asian America

With this film, it’s tempting, oh-so-tempting, to make the expected references to classic rock songs: “The Kids Are Alright.” “Teenage Wasteland.” “Another Brick in the Wall.”
But that’s not the world that spawned the kids of Justin Lin’s Better Luck Tomorrow . Set in the upper-middle class gated community suburbs of Orange County, the film draws from the best of the teen and (urban) gangster movie genres to offer something fresh: an edgy, well-made, even disturbing satire that’s equally Asian American and mainstream.
“Flip it and reverse it”On the teen front, one central and classic question the movie raises is: “Who…

April 15th, 2003
This Fast Track May Cause You to Stall

There is no question that the American entertainment industry has quite an influence on the American public. People interviewed by Jay Leno during his Jay Walking skit are perfect examples of how someone can know the names of all of the members of N*SYNC and the Back Street Boys but can’t name even one member of the Supreme Court .
The road to fame in Hollywood
The “industry” places an extremely high value on the entertainment world and it is difficult to escape the hype that goes along with the entertainment community. The Kennedy’s have often been referred to as American royalty but the American royalty for our generation seems more to be the members of the Hollywood elite, the A-list celebrities…

April 14th, 2003
Wisdom from Jesus and the Corn Guy

No one’s in the kitchen with Martha
“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things,” said Jesus (Luke 10:38-42) after a productive Martha rebuked her lazy sister Mary for sitting at Jesus’ feet and listening to him speak instead of helping her. An indignant Martha stormed back to the kitchen and continued making a snack for her company. Jesus was on a house visit and the very least she could do was to feed him.
This scolding may sound more like something out of the Brady Bunch than the Bible, but lately I’ve found a lot of wisdom in it.
Like a lot of people, I identify with Martha’s compulsion to be productive. Within our culture, we value the “Martha time”…

April 12th, 2003
Being a Christian When People Are Better Off in Prison

Federal Prison Camp, Maxwell Air Force Base—I was speaking to one of my friends today as we sat by the river inside the Camp. We were talking about life in prison as opposed to life on the outside.
He said “I like it here. My life is better here. On the outside, I was living in substandard housing, had almost no food to eat, and no friends. Here, I have three meals a day, friends. And my housing is decent. I’m better off here.”
When he said this I nearly fell out of my seat. How could a person be better off in prison?
What does freedom matter?
I pondered this. I realized that here in prison we may lose our freedom, but does freedom really matter you are not free from hunger, homelessness, and disease? If you…

April 12th, 2003
Confessions of a Possibly Dangerous Mind

Mirror, mirror on the wall…
I was looking in the mirror recently (I’m trying to lose weight and this is a good way to ruin my appetite…), and I realized that it’s actually healthy to look at myself as I really am.
I know that sounds pretty simplistic, and I’m nothing if I’m not a simple person, but I mean I really take time to look at who I am. Not looking in the mirror to check my hair, or to see if my sideburns are even, or to see if my butt looks big in these jeans (all right, I’ll admit I’ve never looked for that). But I look in the mirror to see who I really am…versus the person that I just want other people to see.
And this is basically the first step I make to start seeing how God really…

April 12th, 2003
Scripture Reflections for Sundays in Lent

Readings:
Jeremiah 31:31-34
Hebrews 5:7-9
John 12:20-33
I live in an ugly building. It’s a brown and teal low-rise that winds around a parking lot like a drunken staircase flipped on its side. Not surprisingly, the building was constructed in the 1960s when, apparently, creative architecture called for convoluted hallways and unmarked doors at every corner. My building is a labyrinth. Pizza delivery is a nightmare.
Fortunately, in the 1960s, someone also had the genius idea of designing each individual apartment with a six-meter wall of windows. Most tenants take advantage of the light and house endless plants on their windowsills. At dawn, when it’s still early enough to peep through living…

April 10th, 2003
Philip Morris Companies Became Altria Group - So What?

When a corporation like the Philip Morris Companies changes its name, is it a change in deed or just in word?
As the umbrella company that owns such diverse products as Kool-Aid, Altoids, Oscar Meyer, and Miller Beer, Philip Morris Companies changed its name to Altria in January of this year.
It’s a significant milestone for the company that owns the subsidiary Philip Morris, which, in turn, sells the world’s most profitable brand of cigarette?Marlboro.
Since it is widely established that cigarettes cause cancer, the name change begs some obvious questions:
Does the name change reflect a willingness to rely less on tobacco profits and settle tobacco litigation in good faith?
Will the name change…

April 10th, 2003
L.A. Faith Communities Celebrate Easter Their Way

I love the Easter rituals that help me connect with the emotion and significance of this holiest day of the year. So I felt particularly blessed to be present for two different sets of rites as Los Angeles faith communities celebrated Easter according to traditions old and new.
Bringing the river to the city
At St. Thomas the Apostle Church, a Latino parish near downtown Los Angeles, parishioners carrying white candles spilled out into the streets during the Easter Vigil Saturday night. They witnessed more than 30 youth and adults receive the sacrament of baptism and become initiated into the Catholic faith. They are called “the Elect” since it is Catholic belief that it is God who has chosen them to…

April 10th, 2003
We Shared More Than Just a Hometown

Waiting (once again) on the primitive printer in our office, I stared out into space and thought idly about what I was going to eat for lunch. Times Square doesn’t offer much in the means of good food, so I wasn’t off in hungry never-never land for very long.
When I snapped out of it, an unfamiliar face was walking towards me. I work in a very small office where everyone knows one another, so this was an event. I didn’t know this mystery woman, but something about her seemed so familiar. As she got closer I realized that she looked a lot like this timid Colombian girl I knew in college. Hmm, I wonder…
Mystery womanShe smiled sheepishly as she approached and made to walk on past. I stopped her, “Excuse…

April 10th, 2003
Filesharing Isn't Unethical or Killing the Music Business

Lest we forget?
When the Cincinnati Bengals were in the 1988 Super Bowl (yes, really), a local radio station cobbled together rousing stadium anthems with such audio gems as “The Who-Dey Rap,” and the mix was broadcast every day at 5 p.m. “Get those tape recorders ready,” I remember the DJ saying. “?Welcome to the Jungle’ is coming up next.”
The Recording Industry Association of America, it seems, is now furious that technology has facilitated what teenagers have been doing quite harmlessly for years. Music fans are now freed from the ritual of standing next to the stereo, fingers on the play-record buttons, praying that the next song up will be “Walk of Life”?a…

April 10th, 2003
Do Catholics need a Money Makeover?

Recently, I was talking with a group of socially conscious Catholic friends about money. The question came up, “How does being Catholic influence how we think about money?”
Our answers were revealing.
The bummer of bucks
One mentioned Jesus’ parable about it being easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get to heaven. Another noted that the disciples were asked to leave behind all their material possessions on the spot to follow Jesus. A third remembered Jesus overturning the merchants’ tables at the Temple because they were selling things (see box below).
No wonder many of us are operating in our current lives from the point of view that you’re…

April 9th, 2003
The Dull Ache of Addiction in Owning Mahowny

It’s the early 1980′s. Philip Seymour Hoffman is Dan Mahowny, a Toronto bank manager whose body is as soft and slow as his mind is sharp and quick. Mahowny moves through a geography of parking garages and offices and airplanes in grey-clad mediocrity. It’s not that he seems too kind to commit extraordinary crimes; he seems too dull.
But Mahowny, whose character is based on the actual story of Brian
Molony, manages to embezzle $10 million Canadian dollars. He invents clients and accounts that do not exist; he skims off the top of those that do. So we watch Mahowny whisper demands to his bookie over bank phone lines, and we watch him sweat as he fills out a bogus business loan. Lies make you hide, and…

April 9th, 2003
Mister Rogers Helped Us All to Grow Up

I was talking with my wife recently about how someone
we know shelters her children. She protects her children from the daily tragedies that she encounters and controversy never enters her home. If someone calls with a problem that needs immediate attention, and the children are nearby, she informs the person that she “can’t talk now, because ‘Susie’ is here.”
I mention this because I worry this does more harm than good. Children certainly don’t need to be exposed to all the horrors that we adults encounter. But children eventually need to know how to deal with tragedy. They need to be able to sort out feelings of sadness, pain, regret, guilt, and even the feelings that surround…

April 9th, 2003
Billy Goats, the Bambino, and the Charlie Brown in All of Us

According to baseball superstition, the Chicago Cubs and the Boston Red Sox are cursed. The Red Sox curse came in 1920, courtesy of Babe Ruth, the Bambino himself, whom the Sox sold to the Yankees so their owner could fund a theatre. The Sox had always gotten the best of the Yankees before that, but since the sale of Ruth … not so much.
The Cubs’ history is similar. In 1945, the owner of the Billy Goat Tavern was prohibited from bringing his goat (believe it or not) to Wrigley Field for the World Series. He then placed a curse on the team saying that “if the goat can’t come to the game then the Cubs will never, ever win the World Series again.”
So far, the Babe and the Goat have the upper hand.
The more…

April 8th, 2003
The Ethical Quandary of Embedded Journalists

Do “embedded journalists,” that is, those assigned to cover and travel with a particular military unit, make for balanced war coverage?
As a journalist I believe embedding journalists with our troops is higly problematic.
Say the word
To begin with one needs only to look at the military term: “embedding.” The military’s selection of that word says it all; by definition it sets up a troubling precedent. When you ‘embed’ something you “introduce it as an integral part,” according to the Websters Third International Dictionary.
Should war journalists ever be an integral part of any military unit? Once they are, wouldn’t they lose their impartiality?…

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