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Pope John Paul II’s Centesimus Annus: Chris Reichman

Taken from "'Just War' or is it just a war?" by Susan B. Thistlethwaite in the Chicago Tribune, October 15, 2002 and Pope John Paul II's Centesimus Annus.

Contributed by both Paul Maguire and Chris Reichman. Read by Chris (on the right in the photo). Christine was born in 1950 in Chicago. She loves music more than anything, and thinks there are plenty of worthy heroes. Chris admires the organization Christian Peacemaker Teams very much.

Susan B. Thistlethwaite, former president of the Chicago Theological Seminary, writes:

"St. Augustine looked at the horrors barbarian invaders were inflicting on the Roman citizens and he asked himself if a Christian could ever justify going to war. He answered a very qualified 'yes.' A Christian can go to war if it is to 'defend the vulnerable other.' His version didn't even include self-defense."

More than 1500 years later, in 1991, Pope John Paul II issued his encyclical letter in which he declared: "I myself, on the occasion of the recent tragic war in the Persian Gulf, repeated the cry: "Never again war!" No, never again war, which destroys the lives of innocent people, teaches how to kill, throws into upheaval even the lives of those who do the killing and leaves behind a trail of resentment and hatred, thus making it all the more difficult to find a just solution of the very problems which provoked the war."

The Book of Qualities: Anne Nevaldine

Taken from The Book of Qualities by J. Ruth Gendler, published by Turquoise Mountain Publications.

Read by Anne Nevaldine. In her thirtieth year of a clinical psychology private practice in Anchorage, Anne finds that people, plants, and pets help her to keep anxiety at bay. Getting wet swimming doesn't hurt, either. A Prairie Home Companion provides her with laughter, wisdom, and inspiration.

As a clinical psychologist, I was impressed with the way author J. Ruth Gendler transforms 74 human emotions into living, breathing characters in The Book of Qualities. This is Anxiety's story:

"Anxiety is secretive. He does not trust anyone, not even his friends, Worry, Terror, Doubt, and Panic. He has a way of glombing onto your skin like smog, and then you feel unclean. He likes to visit me late at night when I am alone and exhausted. I have never slept with him, but he kissed me on the forehead once, and I had a headache for two years. He is sure a nuisance to get out of the house. He has no respect for locks or curtains or doors. I speak from experience. It takes cunning to get rid of him, a combination of anger, humor, and self-respect. A bath helps too. He does not like to get wet. As a last resort, if you are not near a bathtub, wet your face with tears."

A Guest of the World: Julie Varee

Taken from A Guest of the World: Meditations by Jeffrey Lockwood, published by Skinner House Books.

Contributed and read by Julie Varee, "wishing you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving." Julie has lived in Anchorage for 20 years. She is a professional in the field of philanthropy and development; mother to a daughter, Madelyn; a newlywed; and a lover of reading. Julie recommends the site of Salon Magazine -- a fun source for news and film & book reviews.

National Philanthropy Day is celebrated in November, and provides a perfect partner to Thanksgiving.

In his book of meditations, A Guest of the World, Jeffrey Lockwood writes:

"The most important thing that I've learned in traveling to more than twenty countries is the art of being a guest.
We are all visitors -- even when we are home. Our time in any relationship or place is ultimately limited. We are passing through; nobody stays forever. How might we act if we consider ourselves guests in the lives of friends and family? ...

The good guest ... simply allows the other person to be a good host -- to share his gifts, to play her music, to tell his stories, to show her places, and to serve his foods. ...

We might also think of ourselves as uninvited, but not unwelcome, guests of the planet. And I think the rules for being a good guest of the world are just the same: Ask little, accept what is offered, and give thanks."

The Wealth of Nations: Gunnar Knapp

Excerpted from The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith.

Contributed and read by Gunnar Knapp. Gunnar considers himself lucky to be part of a wonderful family who tolerates his attempts to pursue far more interests than he has time for, including singing, cross-country skiing, and all kinds of learning. He is also a Professor of Economics at the University of Alaska Anchorage Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER), where he studies the Alaska fishing industry. Gunnar enjoys listening to radio stations on the internet in various foreign languages at: www.listenlive.eu.

Here is one of the great paradoxes of economics: the most effective way to help others may be by pursuing our own self-interest -- as argued in these famous passages from The Wealth of Nations, published in 1776 by the economist Adam Smith.

"...[M]an has almost constant occasion for the help of his brethren.... He will be more likely to prevail if he can interest their self-love in his favour, and shew them that it is for their own advantage to do for him what he requires of them.

... Give me that which I want, and you shall have this which you want.... It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest....

[Every individual] generally ... intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention. ... By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it."

One Hand Clapping: Eiden Pospisil

Taken from One Hand Clapping by Rafe Martin, published by Rizzoli and used by permission.

Contributed and read by Eiden Pospisil, who was born in Anchorage and is currently a freshman at West Anchorage High School. Eiden is an enthusiastic percussionist and recommends the Alaska Jazz Workshop, a non-profit organization where professional jazz musicians take time to pass on their skills and knowledge to the next generation.

I wrote to Rafe Martin, author of One Hand Clapping, as part of the Letters About Literature contest, sponsored in Alaska by Alaska Center for the Book. The book tells several Zen stories, one of which is titled "The Zen Master and the Samurai":

'Once a samurai came before Zen Master Hakuin.

"You're supposed to be a great Zen master," he said. "So I want you to tell me the truth about heaven and hell. Do they really exist?"

Without a moment's hesitation Hakuin responded, "What, even such an ugly and untalented man as you can become a samurai? Amazing!"

Immediately, the proud samurai became angry and drew his sword. "I'll kill you!" he roared.

Fearlessly Hakuin said, "This is hell."

The samurai paused and grew thoughtful. His face softened from its angry scowl. Sheathing his sword he put his hands together palm to palm and bowed before Hakuin.

"And this," said Hakuin, just as calmly, "is heaven."'