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Lawsuit divides town which inspired classic novel To Kill a Mockingbird

Pulitzer-winning author Harper Lee accuses local museum in Monroeville, Alabama, of exploiting her literary fame
To Kill a Mockingbird author Harper Lee
Harper Lee, pictured when receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2007.
Photograph: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

More than 50 years have passed since Harper Lee published To Kill a Mockingbird, her gripping novel about racial injustice in deeply segregated Alabama. Now the town where Lee was born and raised, and which served as the inspiration for her best-selling book, has once again become the scene of an unsettling legal dispute that has divided the community.

This time Lee, who at 87 is profoundly deaf and almost totally blind, is not the author of the story but – on the surface at least – its protagonist.

In a move which has shocked Monroeville, Lee, who resides in an assisted-living facility in the town, is bringing a lawsuit against the local museum, accusing the small, not-for-profit institution of exploiting her fame and the prestige of her Pulitzer-winning book without offering compensation. The museum is fighting back, condemning Lee’s lawsuit as “false” and “meritless” and warning that the legal action could destroy an institution that honours the author's legacy and provides an economic boost to the town.

It is the kind of ugly public dispute that Lee, an intensely private figure who has spent her life avoiding the spotlight, might have been expected to avoid. Unsurprisingly, Monroeville has been awash with with rumour about whether Miss Nelle, as the author is known locally, was personally responsible for the decision to sue the museum.

The answer to that question is complicated, but it appears to involve Lee’s 102-year-old sister, Alice, and a close associate, an attorney who happens to be married to a relative of Truman Capote.

Read the rest here: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/01/harper-lee-monroeville-museum-lawsuit-mockingbird?CMP=twt_gu

Can You Have Religion Without God? Ronald Dworkin and a religious worldview for secularists

Ronald Dworkin’s profound and moving final book, now published posthumously, is unique among the works that he wrote throughout the decades of his extraordinarily creative life. Anyone who read Dworkin or heard him lecture knows that he possessed a brilliant and elegant mind, conceptually sophisticated, analytically astute, and always at the service of a moral, legal, and political cause.
Spinoza, a seventeenth-century Jewish-Dutch philospher, walks book in hand
 through Amsterdam while being ostracized by the Jewish community.
But this book is marked by a different tone and style. It does not present a set of arguments that aim at changing beliefs and convictions; instead it conveys a philosophical, even spiritual sensibility. Its ambition is to effect not a shift in any particular position but a transformation in the way we see the world and in the stance we take toward the most basic features of our existence. The incisive qualities of Dworkin’s mind are evident in various arguments that appear throughout the book (especially in the chapter titled “Religious Freedom,” which examines the nature of the constitutional protection of religion), but the main endeavor of Religion without God is to convey an attitude—not so much to argue as to “show,” to set before the reader a certain philosophical temper and to share a particular stance.
Religion without God: what can such a stance mean? Is God not constitutive to religion in the way that liberty is constitutive to liberalism? Could we imagine a book called Liberalism Without Liberty? And if we can isolate the stance implied by Dworkin’s paradoxical title, what is gained by calling it “religion”? There is, moreover, a deeper cultural puzzle. Dworkin stood for many years at the center of contemporary American liberalism as perhaps its most important and eloquent defender.
Though it stoutly defends freedom of religion, contemporary liberalism has taken a hostile, or uneasy, or indifferent attitude toward the religious project. Its exponents usually give the impression, and gladly, that they are religiously tone-deaf. (This is a matter of temperament, which is not intrinsically related to argument as such. Wasn’t the civil rights movement of the 1960s religiously inspired? But experience has taught us that in philosophy and in politics temperament is of at least equal importance to argument.) Why, then, should Dworkin have “tainted” his thinking by associating himself with such a sensibility even as he asserts his atheism?

The Would-Be Philosopher-King

Michael Ignatieff, former Canadian Liberal political leader exposes his soul and confesses hubris while he heads back to school...

The Chronicle of Higher Education
Nov. 4, 2013

Ignatieff offers various explanations for his readiness to be swept up: patriotism, ambition, a longing for significance, familial obligation. All played a role, but perhaps none larger than hubris. "What's complicated about hubris is that if you knew what you were in for, you'd never do it," he says. "Blindness—and it was a moment of blindness—is the necessary condition for much human achievement."
He looks out the window onto his small balcony awash in sunlight. "So I'm divided between being glad that I was so hubristic and being appalled." He turns back to me. "I mean, who did I think I was?"

The Would-Be Philosopher-King 2
Rene Johnston, Toronto Star, Getty images
Michael Ignatieff left Harvard and reinvented himself as a politician. A surreal rise and dizzying fall ensued. Here he gives a speech to Canada’s Liberal Party.

Read the rest here: http://chronicle.com/article/The-Would-Be-Philosopher-King/142715/

Egypt: Christians threaten to walk out on constitution rewriting over Islamic law dispute


The Christians know that Islamic law enforces their subjugation, instituting a system of legalized discrimination and harassment. "Egypt: Christians threaten to walk out on constitution rewriting over Islamic law dispute," from the Associated Press, November 7 (thanks to Twostellas):
CAIRO — Christians on a committee rewriting Egypt’s constitution threatened to walk out Thursday after disputes over portions dealing with Islamic law.Egypt’s ultraconservative Al-Nour party — which has one member in the 50-person panel — has been pushing for adding an article defining Islamic, or Shariah, law, which critics warn could allow for stricter interpretations of what Shariah is later.

For AP, you're "ultraconservative" if you want Sharia, and "far-Right" if you oppose Sharia.

Read the rest here: http://www.jihadwatch.org/2013/11/egypt-christians-threaten-to-walk-out-on-constitution-rewriting-over-islamic-law-dispute.html

Today on "Kresta in the Afternoon" – November 7, 2013

Talking about the "things that matter most" on November 7

4:00 – Kresta Comments

4:20 – Evangelist Billy Graham turns 95: Looking at his relationship with Catholics, Blessed John Paul II and his influence on American culture
Billy Graham, the famed evangelist and reverend turned 95 today. For decades, U.S. Presidents have sought spiritual council or spent time with the celebrate Reverend Billy Graham. To celebrate his lifelong career as a spiritual adviser to several presidents, his hundreds of crusades all across the world and his work as a Christian evangelist, more than 800 invited guests will celebrate with his tonight. The event willalso debut his video message titled "My Hope America." The message is scheduled to air on numerous national networks including FOX News tonight. We talk with his biographer, Dr. William Martin.

4:40 – Of Course Euthanasia is About Mental Illness
It really is astounding how the media continue to assume that assisted suicide/euthanasia is only for the terminally ill. Here’s the latest example: Hemlock Society founder Derek Humphry was in Arizona advocating for assisted suicide for the mentally ill. Our guest, bioethicist Wesley Smith, says he is convinced that the grass roots of the assisted suicide movement are enthusiastically on board with the eventual spread of euthanasia to mentally ill people. He joins us.

5:00 – Vatican directs faithful not to host Medjugorje 'seers'
The Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) has instructed the Catholic faithful not to participate in events in which the "seers" of Medjugorje promise apparitions of the Virgin Mary. For years, the group of people who have reported visions of the Blessed Mother at Medjugorje have made public appearances in churches, announcing in advance that "apparitions" will take place. Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller, the prefect of the CDF, has called for an end to church sponsorships of these events. We address the Vatican statement with the Vice-President for Theology at EWTN,Colin Donovan.

5:40 – Kresta Comments

Open response to: “Overpopulation: Should America have a one-child policy?

Last Tuesday, the Washington Times published an article by Joseph Cotto entitled, “Overpopulation: Should America have a one-child policy?” Despite the provocative title, the article does not present a stimulating thought-experiment, but rather a series of half-truths and inconsistencies with dangerous implications.

Because such half-truths have been at the ideological root of every forced abortion this century, we at Population Research Institute drew up a list of the claims made in the article—and countered them with facts to expose their fallacies.

Claim 1: Cotto commences his article by citing Michael Arth, a controversial gubernatorial candidate who advocated the imposition of birth credits. Arth argued that although human innovation often “increases under pressure,” the pressure which inspires it is worse than the innovation itself. The article cites, “One of the most innovative periods of human history was WWII...However, we also had the wholesale destruction of cities, untold suffering and the massacre of at least 60 million people.”
Reply: World War II was indeed a period of both ingenuity as well as suffering. However, Mr. Joseph Cotto confuses correlation with causation. Ingenuity and suffering are not inextricably related. There have been periods of misery without ingenuity, and periods of ingenuity without suffering. For instance, the Silicon Valley technology boom of the 1990s did not produce “misery and sorrow for the sake of innovation.”
Read the rest here: http://pop.org/content/open-response-“overpopulation-should-america-have-one-child-policy

Overpopulation: Should America have a one-child policy?

Overpopulation begs such controversial questions to be asked.
Photo: Associated Press
Washington Times

OCALA, Fla., October 29, 2013 — Today, America is more secular of a nation than ever before.
With secularism’s rise has come a scientific wave — some might even call it a tsunami — that is answering life’s toughest questions in a fact-based fashion. Of course, scientific inquiry has no shortage of foes; the most prominent of whom tend to be hardline followers of supernaturalist religions.
Beyond the stereotypes of Bible thumpers and pseudo-intellectual creationists, though, one sector of modern science tends to attract derision from across the board. This, as more than a few might have guessed, is overpopulation.

The very concept of overpopulation is so controversial that some deny its existence. These people run our society’s socioeconomic gamut; from poor immigrants to public intellectuals to high-profile politicians. Their overarching claim is that as populations grow, human innovation will increase; thus creating a higher quality of life.

What can be said about their perspective?

“There’s no doubt that innovation increases under pressure,” urban designer and public policy analyst Michael E. Arth tells The Washington Times Communities. In 2010, he launched a quixotic bid for Florida’s Democratic gubernatorial nomination. While this was not a success, it set the ball rolling for discussion about the role special interests play in politics.

Read more: http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/conscience-realist/2013/oct/29/should-america-have-one-child-policy/#ixzz2jvaeu5ED
Follow us: @wtcommunities on Twitter

CDF bars participation in events assuming truth of Medjugorje

The complete letter from the papal nuncio to the Catholic Bishops in the United States (click to enlarge)
The complete letter from the papal nuncio
to the Catholic Bishops in the US
Photo from Medjugorje Today
At the direction of the Vatican's head for doctrine, the apostolic nuncio to the U.S. has written a letter stating that Catholics “are not permitted” to participate in meetings which take for granted that the supposed Marian apparitions in Medjugorje are credible.

“The Congregation (for the Doctrine of the Faith) has affirmed that, with regard to the credibility of the 'apparitions' in question, all should accept the declaration … which asserts: 'On the basis of the research that has been done, it is not possible to state that there were apparitions or supernatural revelations,'” Archbishop Carlo Vigano wrote in an Oct. 21 letter to the bishops of the U.S., sent to the general secretary of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
“It follows, therefore, that clerics and the faithful are not permitted to participate in meetings, conferences or public celebrations during which the credibility of such 'apparitions' would be taken for granted.”

Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the papal nuncio to the United States, is in effect the Vatican's US ambassador
Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the papal nuncio to
the United States, is in effect the Vatican’s US ambassador
EWTN News confirmed that the letter was sent to every diocese in the U.S.

Read more: http://www.ewtnnews.com/catholic-news/US.php?id=8768#ixzz2jvW9GdHY

Today on "Kresta in the Afternoon" – November 6, 2013

Talking about the "things that matter most" on November 6

4:00 - Toronto mayor vows to stay on after admitting crack use: Substance abuse by those in the public eye.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford apologized yesterday after admitting that he once smoked crack cocaine, but vowed to stay in office in Canada's largest city and even seek re-election. The stunning admission by the 44-year-old came after repeated denials, and six months after a video surfaced that allegedly showed him consuming the illicit drug. This raises the question of why those in the public eye have a higher rate of substance abuse. Michael Vasquez of the St. Gregory Center for Drug and Alcohol Rehab is here to answer that question.

5:00 – Vatican is not 'polling' Catholics on marriage, family
It is “not true” that the Vatican is taking a poll to assess Catholics’ opinions on marriage issues in preparation for the 2014 Synod on the family, the Vatican press office has clarified. Responding to stories that appeared worldwide, Father Federico Lombardi said that a series of questions issued by the Synod office was “sent to bishops’ conferences throughout the world,” rather than an opinion poll. The Vatican spokesman also pointed out that the questions asked by the Synod “are not regarding the doctrinal position of the Church,” but aimed to solicit information about pastoral practices and public attitudes in different societies. Phil Lawler is here to discuss this “non-story.”
5:20 – Election Analysis: Chris Christie Wins Big, Terry McAuliffe takes VA. What does this mean for the future?
The 2016 overtones were clear in this year's two most high-profile elections. Republican Gov. Chris Christie's resounding re-election victory in Democratic-leaning New Jersey sets the opening argument for a possible White House run while Terry McAuliffe's gubernatorial victory gives fellow Democrats — if not his confidante Hillary Rodham Clinton, herself — a road map for success in the pivotal presidential swing-voting state. Christie became the first Republican to earn more than 50 percent of the New Jersey vote in a quarter-century. McAuliffe is the first member of the party occupying the White House to become Virginia governor since 1977. Catholic columnist Kathryn Jean Lopez reads the tealeaves. 
5:40 – Kresta Comments

For all the Saints – Reflecting on a Great Hymn of the Church

Archdiocese of Washington
October 31, 2013

One of the greatest English hymns ever written, is “For All the Saints.” It is a wide and sweeping vision of the Church Militant and the Church Triumphant. It’s imagery is regal and joyful, it’s poetry majestic and masterful. A vivid picture is painted in the mind as the wondrous words move by. If you ask me it is a masterpiece. Many people know the opening line, but most have never sung it all the way through and thus miss its wondrous portrait. A number of years ago I committed words of this hymn to memory, very much like my father who loved to memorize things that moved him.
Spend a few moments now reflecting on this masterwork. It was written in 1864 by William Walsham How, an Anglican Bishop. Ralph Vaughan Williams set it to a stirring melody in 1906. I love to play this hymn at the organ since it has a challenging but exciting “walking base” played by the feet and big rich chords in the hands. In his recent outreach to the Anglicans the Pope speaks of the liturgical, spiritual and pastoral traditions of the Anglican Communion as a “precious gift” and treasure to shared”. This hymn from the Anglican tradition is surely one of those treasures. Permit me to set forth each verse and then comment.
First we cast our eyes heavenward to the Church Triumphant:
For all the saints, who from their labours rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,

Thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blessed.


Here then in the first verses is stated the purpose of the hymn. Namely, that we sing to and praise God for all those saints who have finished their course here and entered into the rest of the Lord. Like the the Lord they can say, “It is finished.” Like St. Paul they can say, I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day (2 Tim 4:7-8). These saints declared to world the holy and blessed name of Jesus by their words and deeds. They confessed and did not deny him. To them and us Jesus made a promise: Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven (Matt 10:32). And we too are summoned to take up the cry: “Blessed be the Name of the Lord!”
Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress and their Might;
Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light.
Salvation and the living of a holy and courageous life is only possible by the grace of God. Only if God be our rock, our defender and our strength can we stand a chance in the battle of this earthly life. Jesus said, “Without me you can do nothing.” (Jn 15:5) St. Paul taught that the ancient Israelites made it through the desert only by Christ for he wrote: they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them in the desert, and that rock was Christ. (1 Cor 10:4). So Jesus is a rock in a weary land, a shelter in a time of storm! Only in Christ and by his light could they have the strength for the battle and win through to the victory.

Read the rest here: http://blog.adw.org/2013/10/for-all-the-saints-reflecting-on-a-great-hymn-of-the-church/
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