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Today on "Kresta in the Afternoon" – July 22, 2013

Talking about the “things that matter most” on July 22

4:00 – Good News, Bad News: Evangelization, Conversion and the Crisis of Faith
Six years ago our friends Fr. John McCloskey and Russell Shaw wrote Good News, Bad News: Evangelization, Conversion and the Crisis of Faith. Based on the great success and influence that Father McCloskey has had in helping instruct many converts to Catholicism, especially numerous high profile DC figures, this book is a powerful combination of the methods, theology, and theories that McCloskey uses in his evangelization efforts. In addition to his compelling insights on how to teach or share the faith in a winning, inspiring way, this work includes the contributions of several dozen converts of Fr. McCloskey who give their own moving testimonies of why they converted to Catholicism, and how that life-changing journey happened for each of them. We revisit this inspirational book today with Fr. McCloskey.

5:00 – Matt Maher: Songwriter, Worship Leader and Catholic Witness
Matt Maher is a contemporary Christian music artist, songwriter, and worship leader originally from Newfoundland, Canada. He has written and produced six solo albums to date. Three of his albums have reached the Top 25 Christian Albums Billboard chart and four of his singles have reached the Top 25 Christian Songs chart. He is a practicing Catholic and is here today to discuss his faith, his music and his inspirations.

Martin Luther at Home

It’s said the Reformer had a hard time keeping milk cold in the refrigerator….

Tennis Star, Not Ashamed of Jesus, Is Also Not Ashamed to Drop Her Clothes

By Kathy Schiffer, 
Ave Maria Radio

In 2011 Agnieszka Radwanska, Polish tennis star who is ranked fourth in the world, served as ambassador for a Catholic youth group’s campaign, “I’m not ashamed of Jesus.”  In a video produced by the group Agnieszka posed on the tennis court with the name of Jesus (“Jezus”) written in tennis balls.

Two years later, the star posed again—this time for Wprost, one of Poland’s most popular news magazines—sitting poolside surrounded by tennis balls.  This time, though, something was missing:  her clothing.
Following publication of the nude photos in Wprost and in ESPN The Magazine’s Body Issue, the Polish youth group “Youth Crusade” dropped Agnieszka as an ambassador, citing her “immoral behavior.”
Father Mark Dziewiecki, speaking on behalf of Youth Crusade, said,
“It’s a shame that someone who has declared their love for Jesus is now promoting the mentality of men looking at a woman as a thing rather than a child of God worthy of respect and love.  If she meets a man who she can truly love and establish a happy family and raise Catholic children, then she would probably have to hide these pictures from relatives.”
Agnieszka Radwanska, however, did not see the photo shoot in the same way.  In a post published Friday, July 19, on her Facebook page, she explained why she had agreed to pose nude:
“For those that are not familiar with the magazine, ESPN The Body Issue is a celebration of the beauty of the bodies of the best athletes in the world. It includes both men and women of all ages and all shapes and sizes. Other athletes photographed include San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick, 77-year-old golf legend Gary Player, and Olympic volleyball gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings – during and after her pregnancy. My tennis colleagues Serena Williams, Daniela Hantuchova and Vera Zvonareva have all participated in the past.
The pictures are certainly not meant to cause offense and to brand them as immoral clearly does not take into account the context of the magazine. Moreover, they do not contain any explicit imagery whatsoever. I train extremely hard to keep my body in shape and that’s what the article and the magazine is all about. If you read the interview, it only discusses my job as an athlete and what I have to do physically to be able to participate at the highest level of sport.
It has been suggested by some members of the press (among others) that I was paid for the photo shoot. This is absolutely not the case. Neither I nor any of the other athletes were paid. I agreed to participate to help encourage young people, and especially girls, to exercise, stay in shape and be healthy.”

 What do you think?

Noonan: A Bombshell in the IRS Scandal

Columnist's nameNo, it wasn’t confined to a few rogue workers in Cincinnati.                     

The IRS scandal was connected this week not just to the Washington office—that had been established—but to the office of the chief counsel.

That is a bombshell—such a big one that it managed to emerge in spite of an unfocused, frequently off-point congressional hearing in which some members seemed to have accidentally woken up in the middle of a committee room, some seemed unaware of the implications of what their investigators had uncovered, one pretended that the investigation should end if IRS workers couldn’t say the president had personally called and told them to harass his foes, and one seemed to be holding a filibuster on Pakistan.

Still, what landed was a bombshell. And Democrats know it. Which is why they are so desperate to make the investigation go away. They know, as Republicans do, that the chief counsel of the IRS is one of only two Obama political appointees in the entire agency.

To quickly review why the new information, which came most succinctly in a nine-page congressional letter to IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel, is big news:

image
Getty Images
IRS Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division revenue agent Elizabeth Hofacre, left, and retired IRS tax law specialist Carter Hull testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Capitol Hill on Thursday.

 

 

When the scandal broke two months ago, in May, IRS leadership in Washington claimed the harassment of tea-party and other conservative groups requesting tax-exempt status was confined to the Cincinnati office, where a few rogue workers bungled the application process. Lois Lerner, then the head of the exempt organizations unit in Washington, said “line people in Cincinnati” did work that was “not so fine.” They asked questions that “weren’t really necessary,” she claimed, and operated without “the appropriate level of sensitivity.” But the targeting was “not intentional.” Ousted acting commissioner Steven Miller also put it off on “people in Cincinnati.” They provided “horrible customer service.”

House investigators soon talked to workers in the Cincinnati office, who said everything they did came from Washington. Elizabeth Hofacre, in charge of processing tea-party applications in Cincinnati, told investigators that her work was overseen and directed by a lawyer in the IRS Washington office named Carter Hull.

Now comes Mr. Hull’s testimony. And like Ms. Hofacre, he pointed his finger upward. Mr. Hull—a 48-year IRS veteran and an expert on tax exemption law—told investigators that tea-party applications under his review were sent upstairs within the Washington office, at the direction of Lois Lerner.

In April 2010, Hull was assigned to scrutinize certain tea-party applications. He requested more information from the groups. After he received responses, he felt he knew enough to determine whether the applications should be approved or denied.

But his recommendations were not carried out.

Michael Seto, head of Mr. Hull’s unit, also spoke to investigators. He told them Lois Lerner made an unusual decision: Tea-party applications would undergo additional scrutiny—a multilayered review.
Mr. Hull told House investigators that at some point in the winter of 2010-11, Ms. Lerner’s senior adviser, whose name is withheld in the publicly released partial interview transcript, told him the applications would require further review:

Q: “Did [the senior adviser to Ms. Lerner] indicate to you whether she agreed with your recommendations?”
A: “She did not say whether she agreed or not. She said it should go to chief counsel.”
Q: “The IRS chief counsel?”
A: “The IRS chief counsel.”

The IRS chief counsel is named William Wilkins. And again, he is one of only two Obama political appointees in the IRS.

What was the chief counsel’s office looking for?

Read more here.

Be Uplifted by a Young Mother’s Faith

New Advent

July 19, 2013

Must-watch video: “So what if we suffer here? This is not our home. I know where home is.”

“This is worth watching. Particularly if at any point today, this week, this month, or this year you were frustrated, exasperated, annoyed, or angry that you didn’t get what you felt you should get done done. Since you’re reading this: today was another day you had to live. To spend with your family, friends, be on this earth. Love someone. Pick up the phone. Write that letter. Send that e-mail of gratitude or contrition. Let the woman on this video convince you: it is a beautiful testimony to redemptive suffering.” -Kathryn Jean Lopez

Faithful Heart from The Austin Stone on Vimeo.

Detroit bankruptcy filing puts Obama in awkward spot

By BRIAN HUGHES | JULY 18, 2013 AT 6:50 PM   
Washington Examiner

Photo -   When Detroit on Thursday became the largest U.S. city to file for bankruptcy, it punctured a major narrative that was key to President Obama’s re-election: that his auto bailout would help resuscitate the Motor City’s battered economy and inject life into an area unable to shake hard times.

Facing $18.5 billion in long-term debt, Detroit is now turning to the federal courts for help, hardly matching the rosy portrait painted by the president in recent months.
On the campaign trail, particularly in the Midwestern states dependent on the auto sector, Obama trumpeted his cash infusion to major American car companies as part of his populist pitch to blue-collar voters.

“I wasn’t going to let Detroit go bankrupt. Or Toledo go bankrupt. Or Lordstown go bankrupt. I bet on American workers,” Obama said in the final sprint to November’s election.

And Obama and his campaign demonized Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney for a New York Times op-ed headlined, “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.”

Although a variety of factors led to Detroit’s current situation, the White House will face questions about what went wrong in a city that is just a shell of its former self.

Thursday evening, the White House said it was closely monitoring the situation but gave no clear indication about the path ahead.

“While leaders on the ground in Michigan and the city’s creditors understand that they must find a solution to Detroit’s serious financial challenge, we remain committed to continuing our strong partnership with Detroit as it works to recover and revitalize and maintain its status as one of America’s great cities,” White House spokeswoman Amy Brundage said.

Before the Chapter 9 bankruptcy filing, administration officials had thrown cold water on the idea that it would bail out Detroit as it did with General Motors and Chrysler.

“I know that the president is aware of the situation in Detroit and that administration officials have been in contact with leaders in Detroit, but I am not aware of any plans or proposals that the president has, but we’re certainly aware of the circumstances,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said last week when asked about providing aid to the city.

The recent developments in Detroit punch a hole in the feel-good story that Obama — and especially Vice President Joe Biden — spun in touting the administration’s economic accomplishments. It’s a political problem even acknowledged by some Democratic operatives Thursday.

“What can you say? It’s just a sad, sad story,” said one veteran Democratic strategist. “Hard to craft a winning political message around bankruptcy.”

Read more here.

Rich parents hire play-date consultants to help kids play better for private-school admissions

  • Last Updated: 7:18 AM, July 19, 2013
  • Posted: 12:40 AM, July 19, 2013
  •  

    PREP
    WSJ

    It’s pay to play — for kids!

    Posh Manhattan moms and dads are taking parental obsessiveness to new heights — by hiring $400-an-hour recreation “experts” to organize play dates for their children.

    These pricy pre-planned play times are monitored by instructors who teach them the proper way to socialize with their well-heeled peers in order to maximize their chances of getting into New York’s elite private schools.

    “Some kids need a little bit more work” at learning how to play, said Suzanne Rheault, the CEO of one of the firms that organize play dates, called Aristotle Circle. “Sometimes [parents] hear from our experts that there are some areas to improve.”

    Rheault’s pricey play dates involve groups of three to five 4-year-olds playing in a room. The experts closely monitor how the kids share crayons, color, follow directions in Simon Says, and hold a pencil.

    All this child’s play is deadly serious for parents, because the toddlers will be judged on these skills when they apply to top-end schools, such as Trinity and Horace Mann.

    “Given that admission rates [to elite kindergartens] are so low, parents don’t want to leave anything to chance,” Rheault said.

    Experts said that kids may need the play-date tutoring because their young lives have become so regimented, with classes in subjects like Mandarin and violin, that they don’t know how to play with others.

    “These children have five classes a week but they don’t know the simplest thing — how to be at ease and play spontaneously with a child,” said Wednesday Martin, who documents Manhattan motherhood in her upcoming book, “Primates of Park Avenue.”

    But some say that too much fine tuning can be a red flag to schools.

    “The kids end up sounding like robots,” said Amanda Uhry of Manhattan Private School Advisors, who advises her clients against coaching.

    But most parents would rather be safe than sorry.

    “It’s generally very helpful for the children so they know what to expect,” said former Horace Mann admissions director Dana Haddad, who runs similar workshops.
    tpalmeri@nypost.com

    PPGC clinic closures had nothing to do with those Medicaid fraud charges, sure

    JillStanek.com
    Jul.18, 2013 9:58 pm

    Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast took the occasion of Texas Governor Rick Perry’s signing of a new omnibus pro-life law today to announce it was closing three of its 12 clinics. The reason, per Huffington Post:

    Screen shot 2013-07-18 at 10.14.49 PM

    The three clinics are located in Bryan, Huntsville and Lufkin, Texas. They are closing in response to a new package of a new package of abortion restrictions signed into law on Thursday and funding cuts to Texas’ Women’s Health Program that were passed by the Texas state legislature in 2011. Out of the three Planned Parenthood clinics that are closing, only the Bryan clinic performs abortions.

    Planned Parenthood timed its notice to steal media attention away from pro-lifers, while also trying to put Texas legislators on the defensive. But was this really an attempt to erase dots between the shutdowns and PPGC’s problem with Medicaid fraud?

    Most interesting is the former employees who have accused PPGC of Medicaid fraud worked at two of the closing clinics.

    Karen Reynolds, who filed a lawsuit in 2011, worked at the Lufkin facility; and Abby Johnson, who filed a lawsuit in 2012, worked at the Bryan clinic.

    The charges may or may not lead to prosecutions, but my first thought today was that subsequent attempts by PPGC to clean up its books resulted in such a noticeable loss of profits it had to shutter the doors at 1/4 of its centers, two of which were surely under added scrutiny.
    I spoke with Abby Johnson this afternoon, who agreed the Medicaid fraud charges had something to do with the closures.

    Read more on Jill Stanek’s blog.

    Who Is Jill Stanek?
    Jill Stanek is a nurse turned speaker, columnist and blogger, a national figure in the effort to protect both preborn and postborn innocent human life.

    Read Jill’s full bio »

    Eric Metaxas and Tim Keller helped lead Kirsten Powers to Christianity

    July 18, 2013
    New York City is not known as the mecca of Christianity, but nationally-known journalist Kirsten Powers who was not a believer discovered that God can use the influence of only two or three people among millions to change a person’s life, according to comments she made in an interview with Focus On The Family today, Thursday, July 17.

    “The people I know around here (New York) don’t do daily Bible readings. This isn’t like the South,” she said.

    With bestselling Christian author Eric Metaxas and respected pastor Tim Keller in the neighborhood there is always a chance a person in a secular environment can become a believer. In Kirsten’s case, it was a chance invitation from a friend of Eric Metaxas to her to attend a service at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, New York, that caused her to see the world in a whole different light.

    Well-know pastor Tim Keller’s powerful sermons over a two-year period persuaded Kirsten that history and logic were powerful evidence that Jesus Christ is who He said He is. The daughter of atheist parents, she didn’t have a strong theological background and didn’t know what to do with her newfound faith.

    Eric Metaxas was friends with the person who invited me to church, and Eric was very helpful in telling me what I needed to do next,” Powers said as she sought direction on her new pathway.
    Metaxas, whose 7 Men is the latest in a long line of bestsellers, is sort of a Renaissance man these days as he divides his time between between writing Christian bestsellers, hosting the Socrates In The City events at the Union Club in Manhattan and following the Great Commission by spreading the gospel to people like Kirsten Powers.

    Powers recently wrote a bombshell article in her USA Today Column in which she questioned her fellow national journalists for ignoring the alleged murder of seven babies by Pennsylvania abortion doctor Kermit Goselin while covering the Jodi Arias trial 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
    “Jodi Arias was accused of killing her boyfriend and the national media was all over that case. Yet we have this case where an abortion doctor allegedly murders seven babies and its ignored in the national news media,” Powers said in her interview with Focus On The Family.

    Powers also said that Christians should act like Christians when they are talking to and about non-believers.

    “My parents are both atheists and they are really good people. I think there’s a little bit too much of this hate the sin, but not the sinner attitude. I believe that hate sometimes spills over to the sinner as well which is unfortunate,” Powers said.

    Read more here.

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    Today on "Kresta in the Afternoon" – July 19, 2013

    Talking about the “things that matter most” on July 19

    4:00 – Sisters in Crisis Revisited: From Unraveling to Reform and Renewal
    Fifty years ago, nearly 200,000 religious sisters worked in Catholic schools, hospitals and other institutions throughout the United States. American Catholics honored these women of faith who founded and built these flourishing works of mercy. Then came the ideological shifts and moral upheavals of the 1960s, and ever since, most women’s orders in the United States have been in a state of crisis. Using the archival records of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and other prominent groups of sisters, journalist and author Ann Careyshows how feminist activists unraveled American women s religious communities from their leadership positions in national organizations and large congregations. She also explains the recent and necessary interventions by the Vatican. 

    5:00 – Encyclopedia of U.S. Catholic History
    Catholics have always played a critical role in the forward progress of the United States in every area of our society – science, industry, philosophy, business, medicine, entertainment, and even politics. Matthew Bunson’s Encyclopedia of the American Catholic Churchis a valuable and unique reference guide. And is the first ever handy, accessible, affordable, and unbiased reference to American Catholicism. With over 2,000 entries from A to Z, you’ll be amazed by the depth and breadth of information that will illustrate the Church’s contribution to each state in the Union. Plus you’ll be able to research your own special interests, such as the history of your own diocese. This is the most thorough treatment of American Catholic history you’ll find! Matthew joins us.

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