Father Kevin Laughery

I never expected to read a papal document which included the word “sourpusses.” If you’re wondering, Pope Francis is against them.

I’ve never been enthusiastic about people telling me how to feel. A contemporary humorist has identified something he calls “moodism,” which is the expectation that people all need to be in the same mood — chipper, usually. If I’m feeling surly, I don’t look forward to someone telling me to snap out of it. I want someone to listen. We might, in the process, learn something about each other.

I was a first-grader, coming off the playground at Our Lady of Lourdes, Decatur, when I learned of the death of John F. Kennedy. I am sure that most people younger than I are growing weary of the recollections of us whose memory of this shocking news is seared into us. Seared it is, for this youngest man to be elected president became, for millions, a symbol of progress for our country.

Even as the previous issue of this paper was being published, we were learning that Pope Francis, who had replied to some questions of a journalist in an Italian newspaper, contacted this man, the atheist Eugenio Scalfari, for a face-to-face meeting.

Last year I wrote briefly about atheism, and since that time I have been wanting to tackle the subject again. It seems to me that a discussion of this subject requires, perhaps, a series of columns.

Just recently I learned of the DVD existence of a film which had a profound effect upon me in childhood.

As far as I can figure, it was in 1967 as a fourth-grader at Our Lady of Lourdes School in Decatur that I saw, along with the entire student body, the 1960 British film Hand in Hand. From an early scene of the female lead’s singing, I recognized the film as, coincidentally, a forthcoming offering of the CBS Children’s Film Festival, which, according to the Internet Movie Database, premiered in early 1967.

When we ponder the religious diversity of human beings, we find that our perceptions of other human differences have a strong impact upon what we think we are, and what relationship we are to have with others.

If we associate writing with school, summertime may not seem to be the time to expect people to publish momentous statements. But in fact, people in the Christian world have been busy with documents which focus our attention on matters vital to us.

As we find the debate intensifying on the "mining" of information and its implications for civil liberties, we on this weekend of Father's Day might find ourselves considering the image of God as Father in terms of his all-knowing character.

One might imagine that the work of interreligious dialogue consists of aiming directly for the issues that distinguish and divide us from one another. We might imagine Christians examining with Jews the variety of ideas about what a "messiah" is, while with both Jews and Muslims we might explore the oneness of God and ask whether the Christian concept of God as Trinity is a contradiction of the oneness of God to which these faiths adhere.

I've just returned from a final preparatory meeting for a group of 46 people from the Springfield area who will be traveling to Israel shortly. This "Israel Mission" is the first time that the Jewish Federation of Springfield has organized such a trip. I am one of the 46, joining a largely Jewish group.

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