A Theologian in Reno: A "Catholic Casino"

Greetings from Reno, Nevada, where I gave two talks today at the Annual Diocesan Conference (actually, its 25th anniversary, with the theme of "Integrity: Rooted in the Soul"). It is a beautiful cross-section of the Church as it lives on the ground, and I am surprised by how "midwestern" in their niceness the conferencers are, how vigilant about the needs of this visitor, anyway. (A member of the Knights of Columbus, in KoC outfit, generously volunteered to walk me the 150 feet from the prayer service to the registration desk. I felt like I had the Catholic Secret Service with me the whole way.) This is my first time in Reno, and more illuminating for me, my first time in a real, live, shiny, loud, smoky, slice-of-Americana-dishing casino. At one of my sessions today, I marveled that a big Catholic ministry conference could be held in an even bigger casino. "It’s a Catholic casino," someone yelled out from the back, good-naturedly. And I thought of all the Christian conferences at which I speak that could never, ever, not once, not ever, be held in a casino. And I was proud of being Catholic. A faith tradition that helped give us the carnivalesque from Louisiana to Brazil and beyond, and which so frequently threatens to specialize in the decadent, can indeed find a home for a ministry conference in a casino. Tom Beaudoin
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