Thursday, January 31, 2008

Death Penalty Action

Can you spare 10 seconds to help get the message to a chronic death penalty supporter?

State Senator Frank Padavan, who supports the death penalty, has a poll on his website here.

Please scroll down the center section to the quick poll and cast your vote. If you live in the district or near it, please also e-mail him through the website to let him know that you oppose the death penalty and you are a constituent. You can also post a comment at the end of the cop killer piece on the right side of his page.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Thursday's meeting to oppose the war

Ever wonder if you are doing enough to end the war in Iraq? Do you wish you could connect with local people who also oppose this war? Then read on:

Planning Meeting for January 31

5th Anniversary Against the War Events
Albany Public Library, 6:30- 8:30 pm
2nd Floor Conference Room #1

Draft Meeting Agenda :
1) Review of Meeting Notes from Jan 17
2) Report on Conference Call with Upstate Anti-war Coalition
3) Report from Theme Committee and discussion
4) Report from Route Committee and discussion
5) Steve Wickham on how the website is coming along
6) Volunteers to organize: publicity, refreshments, comfort stops, maps, etc.
7) Report on Civil Disobedience being planned for 5th Anniversary
8) Report from Conference Committee and discussion
9) Set Next meeting and action items

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Debate Watching 101

Kathleen Hall Jamieson is the Elizabeth Ware Packard Professor of Communication at the Annenberg School for Communication and Walter and Leonore Annenberg Director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania. She offers seven tips for debate watching that Albany Catholic recommends to you. For example:
1) I recommend not watching the coverage immediately before the debate and, when the debate is finished, turn the television off and talk with your family about what you saw and what was important to you. And think about what you saw.

2) Candidates make different assumptions about government's role, about economic policy, about the value of government regulation, about the role of the US in the world, about appropriate use of military power, about US relationships with other countries... and the like. What are the governing philosophies of the candidates?

3) Come to a debate with a list of the issues that matter to you and ask what you learned about each candidate's record and promises on those issues. Where are they similar and how do they differ?

The full list is available here.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Top 10

In the latest issue of National Catholic Reporter, John L. Allen Jr. writes "capsule summaries of the year’s Top 10 stories, briefly suggesting dimensions that perhaps didn’t get the attention they deserve." For example:
The pope is coming: Benedict’s April 15-20, 2008, trip to the United States was announced in November. Two bits of drama to watch: First, how will he address the sexual abuse crisis, and will he meet with victims? (No pope has yet done so.) Second, how will organizers prevent political exploitation of the trip in view of looming elections? That could be tricky if, as in 2004, one presidential candidate is pro-life and the other pro-choice.

The entire article is available here.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Bishop Hubbard on Religion and Politics

Bishop Howard J. Hubbard has written an excellent article for the Times Union regarding the role of religion in the public square. As we at Albany Catholic have come to expect, it is thoughtful and reasoned and worth sharing. Here is an excerpt:
What is different in the contemporary milieu and is contributing, I believe, to the concern about the legitimacy of the religious voice in the public debate is the growing secularization of our culture. America remains a society wherein religion is important for people's lives, but, and unlike other periods in our nation's history, increasingly religion is being relegated to our private lives as an aggressively secular culture systematically seeks to exclude religion from all public space.

Religion is deemed acceptable for private life, but, when its adherents seek to advance arguments in the public arena, they are told "to check their bags at the door." Under the banner of enforcing the notion of official neutrality, the contemporary secular milieu actually promotes its own secular values to a privileged position in shaping public opinion and public policy.
. . .
In other words, there has developed the phenomenon in our national life that would seek to rule religiously based values out of order in the public arena simply because their roots are religious. In this view, pluralism is defined as a public square purged of "intolerance," which many secularists define as the belief in exclusive truth claims that define right and wrong. They believe that any religious voice in a pluralistic society will either infect the body politic with unhealthy doses of fanaticism and ill will or will contribute to the type of extremism and polarization along religious lines that have plagued Europe and the Mideast for centuries.

Therefore, we have the anomaly in our country that in private, religion enjoys an overwhelming majority status (more than 90 percent of our citizens profess belief in God, and 80 percent claim adherence to some religious tradition), but in public, religion has a minority status or no status at all. It is either eliminated entirely from public space, or if it does exist in our public affairs, our entertainment, our intellectual and artistic endeavors, it exists uneasily, disguised on its very best and blandest behavior, preferably, as a form of vague nondenominationalism.

We in the faith community are struggling with the challenge of how best to engage the culture in a way that combats an elite secularism that is fundamentally antithetical to a spiritual message. Religious people across the theological and political spectrum, from the far left to the far right, are increasingly uneasy with the cultural drift that has developed. For religious conservatives, these forces are exemplified in the abortion syndrome, value-free secular schools and moral laxity. For religious liberals, these forces are perceived in militarism, consumerism and environmental insensitivity.


Friday, January 04, 2008

People's State of the State

The Hunger Action Network of New York State will hold the annual People’s State of the State Rally at the State Capitol in Albany on Tuesday, January 8 at noon.

The group is pushing for Governor Spitzer to propose the first increase in the welfare basic grant since 1990. The welfare benefit package has fallen to less than 50% of the federal poverty level, with the basic grant coming to only $291 a month for a family of 3.

It is also calling upon state lawmakers to enact a single payer universal health care system, saying it would do the best job of cutting health costs while providing quality health care to all New Yorkers.

Speakers will include Marcia Pappas, President of the NYS National Organization for Women; Ron Deutsch, Director of New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness; Matt Funiciello, CEO, Rockhill Bakehouse; and Linda O'Brien, President of the NYS Nurses Association.

You can learn more here.


Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Second Week of Christmas

From our friends at Pax Christi:
Pax Christi USA is encouraging its members, friends and all people of conscience and good will to undertake one specific action for peace during each week of Advent/Christmas. For each week, Pax Christi USA will suggest one coordinated action in which individuals and groups from around the nation may participate together. This week's action encourages you and your group to make resolutions for the new year which uphold the values of your commitment to justice and peace in our world.

You can make such resolutions personally or in public, asking friends and families members to hold you accountable to them. You may also want to articulate resolutions for your Pax Christi local or campus group, family, parish, school, religious community, etc. Consider writing out these resolutions and including them in some deliberate way when you meet together (posting them on the wall in your meeting space, using them in your communal prayer, etc.)

Undertaking New Year's resolutions in this manner can also help to highlight your commitment to justice and peace within your families and among your friends, encouraging them to also incorporate socially- conscious themes in their resolutions.

There are literally thousands of good ideas out there for you to consider: a commitment to alternative transportation; tax resistance; ongoing vigils or actions for peace; support of fair trade coops, organic agriculture, small farms and farmers' markets; becoming a sustainer of an organization like Pax Christi USA; using your writing skills to highlight issues in your local papers; supporting local campaigns for justice led by impoverished communities or communities of color; daily prayers for peace; etc. Be as creative as you like, remembering that your commitment is for the long haul.

Albany Catholic asks, "What are your resolutions?"