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Grace in a Coffee Pot View Comments
By Charity Vogel

IT’S OCCURRED TO ME lately that maybe the single-serve coffee dispenser is what is wrong with us these days.

OK, maybe that’s overstating matters a bit. Still, I’m starting to wonder: do those little single-serve coffee capsules signify something going awry in the American spirit, a push toward individual wants and desires over the good of the larger community?

Think about it: the premise behind the single-serve coffeemakers—which use hot water and small plastic containers of ground beans to dispense hot coffee in one-cup increments—is beguiling at first blush.

Advertisements for these single-cup coffeemakers admonish us with, “Don’t make a whole pot! Just make one cup at a time, fresh and steaming whenever you need it.”

This is attractive in its simplicity, nearly foolproof in its appeal. Indeed, this sort of consumption could even be interpreted as pious in a vague sort of way: I am not going to use energy and a filter and a pile of grounds to make a large amount of beverage at one time, the user may think.

Perhaps this is why these machines can command as much as $100 in stores. We seem to love paying a lot for the chance to be seen as socially conscious.

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Charity Vogel, a western New York native who earned a doctorate in English from the University of Buffalo, is finishing a book on a forgotten American train wreck, The Angola Horror, for Cornell University Press. Learn more about this project at angolahorror.com.

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James of the Marche: Meet one of the fathers of the modern pawnshop! 
<p>James was born in the Marche of Ancona, in central Italy along the Adriatic Sea. After earning doctorates in canon and civil law at the University of Perugia, he joined the Friars Minor and began a very austere life. He fasted nine months of the year; he slept three hours a night. St. Bernardine of Siena told him to moderate his penances. </p><p>James studied theology with St. John of Capistrano. Ordained in 1420, James began a preaching career that took him all over Italy and through 13 Central and Eastern European countries. This extremely popular preacher converted many people (250,000 at one estimate) and helped spread devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus. His sermons prompted numerous Catholics to reform their lives and many men joined the Franciscans under his influence. </p><p>With John of Capistrano, Albert of Sarteano and Bernardine of Siena, James is considered one of the "four pillars" of the Observant movement among the Franciscans. These friars became known especially for their preaching. </p><p>To combat extremely high interest rates, James established <i>montes pietatis</i> (literally, mountains of charity)--nonprofit credit organizations that lent money at very low rates on pawned objects. </p><p>Not everyone was happy with the work James did. Twice assassins lost their nerve when they came face to face with him. James died in 1476 and was canonized in 1726.</p> American Catholic Blog We all have fears, but we don’t have to be afraid. Jesus is always with us to protect us and give us courage. We only have to remember that the battle is the Lord’s. When Jesus gives us the victory, let’s be sure to thank Him and praise Him for what He has done.

 
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