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Issue Date:  July 28, 2006

From the Editor's Desk

Music and conversation

NCRpodcasts presents three songs performed by the University of Notre Dame Folk Choir. To hear the songs:
Click on the icon at left or download from this link: Lead, Kindly Light
Click on the icon at left or download from this link: Escucha! Put It in Your Heart
Click on the icon at left or download from this link: Come to the Living Stone
Used by permission. © World Library Publications. 
For more information or to purchase the sound recordings of the Notre Dame Folk choir please follow the link: World Library Publications.

Everyone knows the power of music, good music well performed, to bridge divisions and bring smiles and goodwill in unlikely places. That’s apparently what happens when the University of Notre Dame’s Folk Choir takes to the road. From prisons to sanctuaries, good things happen, listeners as well as performers are transformed, and we all get a glimpse of broader horizons and greater possibilities.

With gratitude to the choir for allowing us to come along and for the openness of its members, we bring you a behind-the-scenes look at this talented group during a recent pilgrimage of sorts through the Northwest to Alaska. Renée LaReau’s portrait of the group, of which she was once a member, shows the musicians as this generation’s version of Joyce’s “here comes everybody.” They are bright and witty, devout, a bit saucy, dedicated, serious, funny, ambitious and gifted, certain and questioning. It is clear that the faith has been handed on and, in this case, with some good music to go along.

As a bonus, you’ll find versions of three songs they sing available for listening, just click on either the icon or the title. Enjoy.

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If you go to the Web site to take in the music and haven’t yet tried out the NCRcafe site, click on one of the buttons that will take you there. It’s still under construction, but open for your perusal and use. While we’re still testing things, we’re confident it can handle a large volume of traffic because thousands of you and others have already showed up (and returned). More than 600 have registered, which allows one to join in the conversation and to comment on previous postings. Those conversations have been both interesting and enlightening. Two new features added in recent days are “A Shot of Espresso,” a thought-provoking bit from the NCR staff that invites comment and changes each day, and the day’s menu that highlights editors’ picks of the ongoing conversations and allows you to click through directly to the one that interests you.

During the past week there have been wonderful discussions around Sr. Joan Chittister’s column on the latest warring in the Middle East, Catholics and 12-step programs, the status of women in the church, and the place of the arts in a Christian life.

Questions posed by the staff have included one about the Middle East and another about the proposal that Amnesty International begin advocating for abortion rights. (On that last topic, see Teresa Malcolm’s Perspective column.)

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In the spirit of interactive media, allow me to make a pitch also for the old-fashioned kind and encourage you to check out this week’s Letters pages. One of my favorite moments in the week is when the Letters pages get dropped on my desk. I am regularly amazed at how consistently good and wide-ranging the discussion is, and this week’s section is a superior example.

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Finally, thanks for all the responses to my earlier question: “What makes you laugh?” Your thoughts are still arriving so I’ll hold my own, as well as a report on what you sent, for another week.

-- Tom Roberts

National Catholic Reporter, July 28, 2006

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