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Ten Commandments for a Pandemic Moment in American History

From Where I Stand 07/9/2020 NCR

It was the Fourth of July. The birthday of the nation. Once upon a time, it was a moment when every park in the country was filled with intergenerational amateurs playing pick-up games — and laughing while they lose. It was backyard barbecues burning on the grill. It was American flags everywhere: on cars, plastered on front doors, hanging on poles in the driveway.

Blind to Equality, Yet?

From Where I Stand 06/19/2020 NCR

Back in the quiet of their homes, the world is awash in questions.

The first question: What is going on? And what supports it?

The answer: What's going on?! Racism is going on! Everywhere.

But what do you mean, racism? The woman was clearly troubled. "Things were so good. I thought this was all over. And now look at this: Looting and brick throwing and fire. I don't mind if they protest. They have a perfect right to protest. But like this? Are we going backwards?"

Racism is the temptation white people have yet to overcome

From Where I Stand 06/3/2020 NCR

Thirty cities, they say. Thirty cities. Thirty cities burned from coast to coast. You can hear the tsk-tsking everywhere. You can see the heads shaking with disgust, with frustration, with deep disapproval — with despair. You can see the looks of confusion and horror, of dismay and doubt. Why would something like this happen? Why George Floyd? Why Derek Chauvin? Why here, of all places? Here in the "land of the free" and the "home of the brave"?

Is it news or propaganda, and how do we know?

From Where I Stand 05/20/2020 NCR

There is a point at which all the heartrending political questions of the day collapse into one. The day the economic issues, the immigration issues, the border wall issues, the us-versus-them issues feel like more than we can take, and we find ourselves saying to one another, "How in the name of the Fourth of July did we get into this situation?" We're there. The collapse has come. The biggest question of them all must be answered.

What are we looking for? Power or leadership?

From Where I Stand 05/6/2020 NCR

If anything galvanizes the gurus of serious thinking in the United States, it's the concept of leadership. Business schools live on it; publishers feed it wholesale to the country, book list after book list; online business and technology magazines use it as clickbait; historians analyze it; philosophers muse about its moral and ethical dimensions; social psychologists study it in group after group; and communication departments labor over the best ways to inculcate it.

Leadership, in the United States, is big business.

Prayer for a Pandemic

by Joan Chittister

God of light
and God of mystery,
give us the faith to see you
in the grey dimness
of this time.

Give us the heart to hear,
in the silence of the sick,
the call to care for those
in pain.

Give us the courage
to find you
where you do not now
appear to be.

Principles for a pandemic

From Where I Stand, 04/08/2020, NCR

"Rules are not necessarily sacred," Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, "principles are."

One thing is clear: "Rules" are not getting us out of the largest pandemic in modern history.

We're washing our hands and wearing our masks and staying indoors and counting the number of people in every group, but the numbers keep going up regardless.

12th NCR Article on Humility

This is the 12th article on humility.

St. Benedict's 12th step is the challenge to become humility itself

"The twelfth step of humility is that we always manifest humility in our bearing no less than in our hearts, so that it is evident ... whether sitting walking or standing."

The 12th degree of humility goes directly to the core of the matter. It reads straight and clear, without equivocation, with certainty: "We always manifest humility in our bearing no less than in our hearts so that it is evident ..."

Eleventh Article by Sister Joan

This is the eleventh article in Sister Joan's NCR series on humility.

What we say, and how we say it, defines us.

It doesn't seem right to laugh at so wise and solemn a statement as the 11th step of humility. It says that we must "speak gently and without laugher, seriously and with becoming modesty, briefly and reasonably, but without raising our voices, as it is written: 'The wise are known by few words.' "

New Series - Tenth Article by Sister Joan

This is the tenth article in Sister Joan's NCR series on humility

When is funny not funny?

Ask my friends, they know: I tell stories all the time. I love a good joke. And I laugh a lot. All of which provides some serious problems for me in trying to deal with the 10th step of humility on laughter and humor. Let alone try to explain it to anyone else.

Worse, at this moment in U.S. history, trying to distinguish between what's funny and what's not is no small task.