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Archive for May 26th 2010

"Robin Hood" may be inexplicably dreary, and "Iron Man 2" may not match the lively wit of the original, but do not despair: the films of summer 2010 aren't a complete bust. Film critic John Anderson highlights some smaller films worth looking out for, including "Restrepo," a documentary about a platoon in Afghanistan, and "Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky," an aesthete's film if there ever was one. Anderson also discusses popular books that have made their way to the screen, including Stephanie Meyer's Twilight series and Stieg Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo.

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Novelist Mary Gordon's new book, Reading Jesus: a Writer's Encounter with the Gospels, began as an effort to understand Christian fundamentalism by looking at the primary sources of the Christian tradition. As she examined Jesus' life and work, she discovered that she did not always agree with Jesus's teachings, refusing, for example, to heed his words to "let the dead bury the dead." Yet she did not find her faith undermined by these disagreements, and instead came to a richer if more complicated understanding of what it means to be a believer. Interview conducted by assistant editor Kerry Weber.

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Drawing from the new report, Behind Bars II: Substance Abuse and America's Prison Policy, Joseph A. Califano Jr. argues that drug treatment is essential to reducing crime outside prison and improving the environment within. This is not a liberal or conservative issue, he argues, but should be embraced by all politicians interested in fighting crime. According to Behind Bars II, 65 percent of the U.S. prison population suffer from drug or alcohol addiction. Mr. Califano, a former aide to Lyndon Johnson, cabinet member under Jimmy Carter and the current chairman of the National Center on Substance Abuse and Control at Columbia University, also discusses the challenges facing Catholics in the public square.

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We feature two online conversations this week: the first is with Clayton Sinyai, a member of the Catholic Labor Network and the director of strategic campaigns for the Amalgamated Transit Union. Speaking at a conference on Caritas in Veritate held at Princeton University, Clayton explored what the pope's latest encyclical has to say about the labor movement.

We also spoke with Archbishop Joseph Mitsuaki Takami of Nagasaki, who was visiting New York to attend the nonproliferation deliberations at the United Nations. The archbishop brought with him a scorched remnant of a statue of Mary that graced the main altar of Nagasaki’s Urakami Cathedral before it was destroyed by the atomic bomb. The archbishop was an unborn child in his mother’s womb when the second atomic bomb obliterated his hometown. Read more about his visit in the Signs of the Times.

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