Author Archives: Brian Garcia-Luense

On being an ethical consumer

What I teach introductory morality courses, I often say toward the end of the course that one of the places in our contemporary lives where we face the greatest number of choices with profound moral consequences, to which we are often blind, is the grocery store. How we spend our money has profound moral implications.

Here are two reflections from individuals who work with the USCCB on how to be an ethical consumer.

Work of Catholic Relief Services among Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh

The following comes from a CRS worker in Bangladesh

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

I send this from the very southeastern Bangladesh border, where refugee settlements are filling with thousands of people by the day as they flee devastating conflict in Myanmar. At the Shabrang Harbor early this morning, just as the sun was coming up, small boats, filled to the brim with families, came into view. Mothers were trying to hold onto their children, and adults carried elderly family members too weak to walk. People asked for any form of food — a piece of bread, a banana. They were exhausted and had clearly gone through so much to get here.

At the harbor and even across the sprawling refugee camps, the mood feels unexpectedly quiet. It’s as if people are still wrapping their minds around the significance of what happened back home, while finding their way here. The targeted attacks that the Rohingya—a minority group in Myanmar—refugees have endured have been recently described by the United Nations as ‘textbook ethnic cleansing.’ The families I meet describe it more in moments of time: running for their lives as petrol was poured on their houses before being set alight; hiding for days and nights in the forest, begging their children to keep quiet; crossing streams in the dark and holding their breath under water at any sound; losing loved ones along the way (asking me if I know if they are here in the camp, perhaps?), and longing to be together with their family in whatever shelter they can create in this new place.

More than 600,000 Rohingya refugees have arrived in Bangladesh—since August. The area of the sprawling, intertwined camps was just greenery and hillside back in July. It’s here where Caritas Bangladesh, CRS’ key partner for decades in the country, is providing truly life-saving relief – currently to 70,000 people. First and foremost, we are providing a two-month food supply to families. Our support will expand per needs on the ground, and likely prioritize safe shelter, clean water and sanitation, and dignified camp infrastructure.

But, what will happen in the long-term is unknown. It is unclear whether these families will have a safe option to return home, which is what most say they prefer, or if they will be able to support themselves and build a life here. But, for now, people express relief to have a safe place to sleep and food to eat. Their children can make noise here. And, life goes on: A refugee and midwife, with whom I spent an entire day, has delivered four newborns since arriving in August. “When I see a new life come into the world, I feel it is a gift from God,” she told me. And, on the other side of the camp is a growing cemetery, where a woman I met had recently buried her father-in-law.

I share this with you to thank you for all that you do, and a to let you know how much your support makes a difference in people’s lives and in backdrops like this. I only wish you could be here, too – to meet these families and hear their voices, and so they could also meet you and know there are people out there who are aware of their situation, and who might be thinking of and praying for them at this turning point in their lives.

I share these two short video clips below from the past couple of days:

Please keep the Rohingya people, and the Bangladeshi people supporting them, in your thoughts and prayers.



How modern secularism seems to have forgotten its own past

Modern secularists have a tendency to blame many social evils on organized religion. While some accusations certainly are grounded in a sad historical reality, modern secularists seem to have some amnesia regarding the consequences of their own position.

A helpful reminder:

Original Sin, Structure of Sin, and Racism

One of the least well understood, but critically important, doctrines is the doctrine of Original Sin. The following article does a masterful job of explaining the classic doctrine and then explaining why it  makes sense to say that racism is America’s original sin.

What Does It Mean to Call Racism “America’s Original Sin”?

Connection between the dead and the living

At this time of year, with Halloween, All Saints, and All Souls, people often begin to reflect a bit more than they usually do around the issues of death and dying.

The following article points out that there is much is our history that might be worth retrieving as we in contemporary times struggle to come to terms with our own mortality.

How the dead danced with the living in medieval society

Enculturating the Gospel message in a digital age

We often think of the new means of communication that mark our contemporary times as merely new tools. The following reflection posits that this digital age represents a new an unique human cultural experience and therefore the Church’s wisdom on the need to enculturate the Gospel message has bearing on our interaction with the digital world

Reflection on how family can really be a domestic church and not a plastic idol of one

The following reflection is somewhat long, so make sure you have more than a couple of minutes to spend with it. It is a powerful reflection on the real and concrete ways in which we encounter God in our domestic lives and how the image we often carry of a “perfect family life” is a dangerous idol in need of smashing.

One quote which captures much of the relfeciton:

We have dangerously small imaginations when it comes to picturing what a wild and holy life can look like. There isn’t only one way. Everyone’s domestic Church is going to look a little bit different. Again, the emphasis needs to be on faithfulness not perfection, creativity and playfulness, not uniformity.

The Perfect Family is an Idol