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Practically Idealistic blog
The title for this blog originated with use of the term “practical idealist” in this 1996 opinion piece, which asked: “To what kind of work should a practical idealist aspire?” A century and a half earlier, Emerson, in his 1841 essay Circles, wrote: “There are degrees in idealism.  We learn first to play with it academically. . . .  Then we see in the heyday of youth and poetry that it may be true, that it is true in gleams and fragments.  Then, its countenance waxes stern and grand, and we see that it must be true.  It now shows itself ethical and practical.”  John Dewey and Mahatma Gandhi embraced practical idealism in the 20th century, as did UN Secretary General U Thant.  Al Gore invoked it in a 1998 speech. In the context of this blog, the term is meant to convey idealism tempered but not overwhelmed by realism: a search for the ideal on a path guided by common sense.
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Friday, May 15, 2009

Obama at Notre Dame, Echoes of Cuomo on Abortion Choice

In the controversy over President Obama's commencement address at Notre Dame (approaching this weekend) and his pro-choice views in relation to this Roman Catholic institution, there has been surprisingly little if any reference to the precedent of Mario Cuomo's Notre Dame speech a quarter of a century ago.

Then governor of New York, Cuomo gave this September 13, 1984 speech, "Religious Belief and Public Morality: A Catholic Governor's Perspective."  (text courtesy of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life)

Early on, Cuomo asked, “Must politics and religion in America divide our loyalties? Does the ‘separation between church and state’ imply separation between religion and politics? Between morality and government? Are these different propositions? Even more specifically, what is the relationship of my Catholicism to my politics? Where does the one end and other begin? Or are the two divided at all? And if they're not, should they be?”  He continued, “To most of us, the manipulative invoking of religion to advance a politician or a party is frightening and divisive.”

Such excerpts don’t do justice to Cuomo’s remarks, which should be considered in their entirety.


On the current controversy, see also:

May 15, 2009, by Sheryl Gay Stolberg, New York Times
On Abortion, Obama Is Drawn Into Debate He Hoped to Avoid  
“The president's delicate balancing act over the explosive issue is being put to the test with the confluence of two coming events.”

May 14 NPR story: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=104107546

April 6, 2009, by Dirk Johnson, New York Times
South Bend Journal:  Invitation to Obama Stirs Up Notre Dame
“The president's planned commencement speech at the fabled Catholic institution has pitted abortion opponents against students excited about the high-profile speaker.”

April 12, 2009, by Richard V. Allen
Op-Ed Contributor:  Degrees of Acceptance at Notre Dame  
“Let President Obama deliver the Catholic institution's commencement address, but don't overlook his policies on abortion by giving him an honorary degree.”

“Glendon declines Notre Dame medal,” an  April 28 Boston Globe account
6:57 am edt 

Monday, May 11, 2009

Asthma Awareness

With our young son’s having had a few asthma episodes, my wife and I are planning to attend a June 3 lunchtime presentation on pediatric asthma by Dr. Douglas Idelson, who heads pediatrics for the Yale Health Plan.

Ashika Brinkley, who directs the New Haven Health Department’s asthma initiative, is quoted in this May 8 Allan Appel article on Asthma Awareness Month.

She was earlier featured in this December 9, 2008 Melinda Tuhus article on asthma.

This New York Times video addresses asthma.

Asthma is also among the concerns of Environment and Human Health, Inc.  

11:09 pm edt 

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Nonprofits in Greater New Haven

Following on the April 27 post below, here's word of a study from the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven:

"Some Nonprofits Feeling Pinch," April 30, 2009 New Haven Register article by Mary O’Leary:
“In general, nonprofits are having a hard time raising money, but arts organizations and youth groups seem to be particularly challenged, according to a recent local study.  The Community Foundation of Greater New Haven, in a report issued this month, said it found that funding is the main concern of agencies, particularly larger organizations who are dependent upon state grants.”

“Will Ginsberg, executive director of the foundation, said they had a 50 percent increase in applications for grants and a 40 percent increase in the total amount of funds sought. ‘There is a lot of anxiety,’ not only tied to the state budget, but also around the drop in corporate giving, Ginsberg said. ‘This is a period of unprecedented stress,’ he said.”
10:40 pm edt 

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