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CHRISTIAN NEWS 

How the church can help develop a 'we' culture for the next generation.

I recently heard sociologist Robert Putnam speak at a Georgetown University event that gathered people of faith and no faith to discuss the common good. In his speech, he complained about America's "radically shriveled sense of we." The author of "Bowling Alone," the famous 1995 essay on the decline of social capital—our connection to each other through activities and institutions—Putnam converted to Judaism in part because of its strong sense of community.

There was a time, Putnam argued, when churches and schools threw together youth of differing social class in ways that connected and motivated them, and helped poor youth escape poverty. This is not mere nostalgia. Putnam has surveyed decades of data to show how communities have become more segregated, and how the children of parents without a college education are now deprived of the things that create equal opportunity.

Kids from working-class homes used to be "our kids," he said. Now they are other people's kids, and we expect other people to solve their problems. But young people are our future. Their problems are ours.

Putnam was talking about inequality, which, he said, causes problems that need both conservative and liberal solutions. Liberals, he said, must learn to appreciate the conservative stress on family structures and the potential of faith communities. Solutions "have to involve churches," he said in a 2012 speech.

Further, he said, "I happen to think that hugs and time are more important than money." But, he went on, "money is important, too," and that means conservatives are going to have to recognize the need for government action in everything from tax structure ...

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A good man is hard to find.

mpaa rating:R (For sexual references, language, brief strong violence and some drug use.)

Genre:Dark Comedy, Drama

Directed By: John Michael McDonagh

Run Time: 1 hour 40 minutes

Cast: Brendan Gleeson, Chris O'Dowd, Kelly Reilly, Aidan Gillen

Theatre Release:August 01, 2014 by Fox Searchlight Pictures

Calvary begins with Father James Lavelle (Brendan Gleeson) in a confessional. The man on the other side, rather than confessing his own sins, tells Father Lavelle that he will murder him shortly to make a statement to the world.

Father Lavelle has done nothing to him, but the unseen man was raped by a different priest when he was only seven years old. Killing a bad man would not prompt the shock and outrage he wishes to elicit from the world of witnesses. It might not even get noticed outside of their small, Irish town. He wants to kill a good man, and Father Lavelle is the best he can find.

After telling the priest the day and hour of his reckoning, the man asks if Father Lavelle has anything to say to him. Not right now, the father replies quietly, but he hopes to think of something before Sunday next.

It is a superb opening scene, akin to writer/director John Michael McDonagh calling his shot and announcing he is swinging for the fences. Very few people who love movies will be able to watch it without getting that familiar tingle of excitement that alerts you that you may be about to see something great. But then . . .

The film doesn't flounder or fail exactly, but neither does it live up to the promise of its first scene. Brendan Gleeson is terrific and believable as a man who is put in a situation where God (or the impersonal universe, depending on your point of view) asks him to be too good to be true. Father Lavelle confides in a superior and says he believes he knows who made the threat, but he does not reveal who it is. (It's not officially a confession—the man never asked for forgiveness—so there is no seal of privacy over it.)

What follows is a week in the life of the priest as he ...

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How the church can help develop a 'we' culture for the next generation.

I recently heard sociologist Robert Putnam speak at a Georgetown University event that gathered people of faith and no faith to discuss the common good. In his speech, he complained about America's "radically shriveled sense of we." The author of "Bowling Alone," the famous 1995 essay on the decline of social capital—our connection to each other through activities and institutions—Putnam converted to Judaism in part because of its strong sense of community.

There was a time, Putnam argued, when churches and schools threw together youth of differing social class in ways that connected and motivated them, and helped poor youth escape poverty. This is not mere nostalgia. Putnam has surveyed decades of data to show how communities have become more segregated, and how the children of parents without a college education are now deprived of the things that create equal opportunity.

Kids from working-class homes used to be "our kids," he said. Now they are other people's kids, and we expect other people to solve their problems. But young people are our future. Their problems are ours.

Putnam was talking about inequality, which, he said, causes problems that need both conservative and liberal solutions. Liberals, he said, must learn to appreciate the conservative stress on family structures and the potential of faith communities. Solutions "have to involve churches," he said in a 2012 speech.

Further, he said, "I happen to think that hugs and time are more important than money." But, he went on, "money is important, too," and that means conservatives are going to have to recognize the need for government action in everything from tax structure ...

Continue reading...

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