Norma Torres

U.S. Rep. Norma Torres sits at her desk, near a carving of a boat carrying mythical Maya figures.(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times) The excellent story about Rep. Norma Torres on the front page of today's LA Times, "Lawmaker sticks to her guns", reminded me that, in February 2006, she asked me, as Pastor of... Continue Reading →

Exploring: Redemption — so what?

Celebrating the Ascension gives me pause . . . It's really the culmination of Christ's redemptive action. It's not his "leave-taking." But what is that to you and me? My morning reading today brought together one theme from several very different perspectives: What is redemption / salvation anyway? And so what? Why the cross? What... Continue Reading →

Intro to Jesus and the Essenes

As promised in my previous "Coffee with Fr. Tom" sessions (especially the last two, here and here), I've compiled a brief reading list to introduce you to the Essenes and the increasing evidence that they were more significant than we ever realized in the human origins and formation, life and teaching Jesus - as well... Continue Reading →

Iraq, the Ultimate “Holy Land”?

An aerial photo shows the 6,000-year-old archaeological site of Ur amid preparations for Pope Francis' visit near Nasiriyah. (AP Photo) For nearly a decade I organized and led an annual pilgrimage to Turkey, which I (and Pope Benedict XVI) called "the Holy Land of the Church." More than any other spot on earth, including Rome... Continue Reading →

The Pope and the Complexities of Islam

As I begin writing this (Thursday morning), I'm aware that, barring any unforeseen barrier, Pope Francis will be in Iraq by this time tomorrow. One of the things most western Christians fail to understand is the immense complexity of Islam, and how that influences, even determines, the conflicts that our world continues to experience. Broadly... Continue Reading →

“The Bomb” … Transfigured

Seventy-five years ago today, "on the feast of the Transfiguration, a light appeared from above and everything changed. In the sky there was a great cloud, and the light radiated forth brighter than the sun." Brighter Than a Thousand Suns says the title of a 1956 history of the atomic bomb and its aftermath, told... Continue Reading →

Hagia Sophia in perspective

I love the grand, old lady, Hagia Sophia. I first visited Turkey on a pilgrimage for LA Archdiocesan priests in the fall of 2000, and fell in love with both the people and the land. Between 2005 and 2013, I returned to Turkey 11 times -- as a participant in a study tour in 2005,... Continue Reading →


WWJD, the acronym for "What Would Jesus Do?", was a popular all-purpose catch-phrase a few years ago among Christians. I had difficulty with that phrase because too often it was used to justify what the speaker thought Jesus should do if Jesus were him or her. Thus, Jesus was used to justify the feelings (or... Continue Reading →

Grandma changes her religion … again!

Yesterday, to absolutely no one's surprise, Turkey's High Court confirmed the desire of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to revert Hagia Sophia from its current official status as a museum back to its previous function as a mosque. It would appear that Erdoğan is losing no time, and plans to open it for public prayer by... Continue Reading →

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