The family and I went to Mass at St. Augustine Catholic Church yesterday. The priest said in the old days if a prophet brought a hard message, there was a “shoot the messenger” mentality. However today, the priest said we have a much more civilized way of dealing with hard messages. “We ignore them,” he said. Later in the talk, the priest said that no matter what the circumstances in New Orleans, looting is never ok… Just before the Mass ended, a woman stood up and confronted the priest in front of the congregation. She said while there may have been some inappropriate looting, many in New Orleans “looted” to get basic human needs like water, food, baby formula, diapers… Two other congregation members then rose and confronted the priest about this issue as well. I found that so refreshing. There should be more open dialogue during parts of the service, I believe. In fact, several times I’ve been at services where, when the priest finishes his homily on, say, the Gospel reading, they then open it up for others in the congregation to randomly share their takes as well… Later in the evening, I interviewed Notre Dame students Casey Stanton and Sarah Miller. They are both minoring in Peace Studies at N.D. Some of their classes include: an indepth look at the Israeli/ Palestinian Conflict; Non Violent Social Change (with a focus on Ghandi, Martin Luther King, etc.); and so on. We propose a U.S. Department of Peace and one arm would be trying to inspire more of this kind of study in American high schools and colleges. The more informed people are about these kinds of issues, the better off we’ll be as a society. We, as an electorate, can be so swayed by surface, American politician rhetoric; if we don’t understand the complexities (religious differences, cultural differences, history of an area…) involved in, say, a certain overseas conflict. Note: And it was ‘conflict’ that I generated in South Bend at the Mass at St. Augusinte’s (aka St. A’s). During the prayer intentions, I prayed: “That the enthusiasm generated by Notre Dame football here be redirected into something more important, like: peace building, social justice outreach, Pro-Life work…” There goes a few South Bend votes.