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 Today's Take:  NCR's daily Web column
Each weekday over the course of a week, a member of the NCR staff offers a commentary on one or more topics in the news.  It's our way of introducing you to some of the people carrying out the NCR mission of faith and justice based journalism.

January 5, 2004
Vol. 1, No. 176




global perspective The Gospel according to Fred Astaire

by Arthur Jones, NCR editor at large

Five days of me this week. Okay it's a new year. Let's build some excitement.

Jesus still walks the world pointing out what we need to worry about. God still loves us though we don't deserve it.

Other Today's Takes by Arthur Jones
Nov. 6, 03 Don't expect anything
Nov. 4, 03 Church ain't wot it used to be
Nov. 3, 03 6.30 a.m. Mass
Aug. 21, 03 The fire in her belly isnít curry, itís Christ
Aug. 20, 03 Books, I love
Corruption is rampant, values are declining, wars are waging and the physical creation's being despoiled at a rate so rapid we can't track it.

So waddya do? I know, you're busy. You/I might even be feeling old (older? Less young? Whatever).

We follow the Gospel according to Fred Astaire.

Once again we have to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and start all over again. That's what the New Year is about.

If it's another year that means we're that much more tired. But look at it another way. It means we're another year closer to being dead -- and if that doesn't galvanize us not much can.

It's another year to speak up and speak out. Another year to tell the young and not so young what matters, to explain what social and personal values and responsibilities are.

Flipping over the past decade, for every Clinton peccadillo we have to explain what good behavior is. For every Enron rip-off, what fiduciary responsibility is. In the face of the clerical sex abuse scandal and the disgraceful corruption of some bishops in hiding it and who should be in jail, we have to plainly state that the church is wrong and can be wrong again.

But these things really are just playing against a decade of breaking news.

What we're called on as Christians to truly tackle is the devastating trends.

Think of this as the new Dark Ages for a moment. The popular myth, and quite a good one, is that throughout the Dark Ages -- that 950-year span from around 450 A.D. to the end of the 11th century -- little bands of brave monks kept a vision of God, and the Word, alive until such times as the Holy Spirit burst open afresh.

Today we're those monks.

The vision is ours to carry -- through what we do and what we say.

The Word is ours to live by -- which is how we govern what we do and what we say.

The world's a mess. We have to say that, too. And find others to say it with.

There's nothing unique about the way ahead. The way ahead is where it's always been. In finding decent, like-minded people in community -- in the Eucharistic community and in the general community -- and working for improvement.

In finding and challenging like-minded younger people. In not being blindly bound to how we did it, or saw it -- hearing their version of how we might be.

And if we're men, in making sure we're listening to women.

Arthur's Daily Ditty

It's easy at 20 to see it quite clear
And at 30 how far we have come, and can sneer
And at 40 how far we'll still go -- in the know --
And at 50 how lively -- though energy's low
Beyond that the risk, the prevalent error,
Is we'll start viewing life --
Through the rear-view mirror.

Arthur Jones' e-mail address is

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