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Maria Shriver’s Sunday Paper: What Can We Do Without?

“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.”  — Nelson Mandela

When I read that ratings were up for this year’s Academy Awards—the “no-host Oscars,” as they’ve been called—I have to admit that I wasn’t surprised.

It also got me thinking. If the Oscars can succeed without a host, then what else can we live without that we haven’t considered before?

Well, this week’s news gave me plenty of ideas.

For one, I can really live without the Catholic Church’s response to clerical abuse. It’s pathetic. I can also do without their ridiculously outdated stance on women. It’s absurd.

And while I’m on the topic of religion, I can also do without the United Methodist Church’s ruling this week to keep its ban on same-sex weddings and the LGBTQ community. I mean, are you kidding me? “Shame on you,” as my mother used to say when she saw someone acting in a less than noble manner. Shame on both of these religious institutions for their lack of inclusion, love and acceptance.

Of course, I could have also done without all the lies that brought us to the Michael Cohen hearings this week. As I watched Cohen, I felt sick to my stomach. I felt sick for a whole host of reasons, including how this whole soap opera has brought shame on our country and our politics.

I believe that we all should do some soul-searching about how we got here. We should also consider what each of us can do individually and collectively to get ourselves out of this mess. It’s going to take each and every one of us to get our nation out of this mess.

But every week, I also try to make a conscious effort to be positive and find a reason to be optimistic. So, here’s my take on all of this week: it’s going to get better. As Rep. Elijah Cummings said so eloquently, hopefully all of this will lead to a “better United States of America and a better world.”

The truth is, when someone—either collectively or individually—awakens to the idea that better is possible, then that’s when change can begin. Maybe you won’t see the change as immediately as the Oscars ratings spike on TV, but it’s coming. Better is on the horizon.

We all deserve better than our present-day political situation. I think we can all agree on that—regardless of who you voted for and regardless of your political affiliation. This is not a “ratings high” for our country, and that’s putting it mildly.

We also deserve (or, since this is my column, I guess I’ll say “I deserve”) a church that takes responsibility for its outrageous actions and sins and that takes game-changing actions to rectify itself.

When I think about going to confession as a young girl and about all the penance I was given for being mean to my brother or missing mass, and when I think about the shame the church puts on people who are divorced or gay, I just can’t believe the hypocrisy. I want to ring more than a few necks when I think about the church closing its doors on these people, while there is still so much sin going on within its own walls.

I want to live in a country where churches don’t close their doors on someone just because they identify as a member of the LGBTQ community. That’s the opposite of Christian. It’s the opposite of love. It is judgmental, closed-minded, cruel and inhumane, and I can do without it.

I deserve to live in a country where everyone who surrounds the president isn’t indicted or on their way to jail. Yes, I do. And you do, too.

We deserve to live in a country where people can afford their prescription drugs, where they can feel safe, where gun violence isn’t something to fear on a daily basis. (Thankfully, for the first time in a quarter century, our Congress did make changes to our nation’s gun control policies this week. Gabby Gifford’s statement on this is worth reading.)

I think we have had enough of the anger, the division, the lies, the indictments, and the gas-lighting. And, even though I’m furious at the Catholic Church, I’m going to go to church today because I’m a person of faith. I believe in God and I believe in my pastor. I believe we are all here for a divine purpose to lift each other up, to support each other, and to be kind.

I really do. We all know now that no priest or church has absolute authority and that many of their teachings and beliefs are downright wrong. Jesus taught love. He lived and walked with the values of forgiveness and acceptance. Anyone who doesn’t practice those values should get out of whatever church they’re hiding in. And, for sure, they shouldn’t be hosting mass or giving out communion.

Now, since I’ve told you this morning about all the things I can do without (and there are more, believe me), I also want to share a few things that I can’t live without. I can’t live without my belief in my country. I can’t live without my belief in God. I can’t live without our democracy, our free press, and all the change agents who are working on the frontlines of humanity.

Oh, and I also can’t live without that video of Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga singing “Shallow” at the Academy Awards. I know that might seem silly to mention amidst everything else we need and that’s going on, but I just loved watching it this week. It brought me such joy—something we could all use more of these days.

There’s a reason that performance resonated with us all so much. It’s because they sang about love. They sang a song that speaks to what we’re all trying to do: live our lives out of the shallow. Many people wanted to believe Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga were actually in love, but as she said in an interview this week, “That’s what we wanted you to see. … I’m an artist, and I guess we did a good job.” That’s an important reminder for us all: fantasy and reality are two different things.

Also, for what it’s worth, “Shallow” was also sung by a girl who went to the Convent of the Sacred Heart, just like me, and a guy who went to Georgetown University, just like me. Yippee!

Elijah Cummings was right. Things are going to get better.


Dear God, please help me turn on the light and see what I deserve. Help me respect myself and others and build a life, and a world, where we can all feel dignified and heard. Amen.

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Bestselling Author Mary Pipher Redefines the Script on What It Means to Grow Older

Architect of Change Mary Pipher is the best-selling author of “Women Rowing North” and someone who has been an influence on me as a writer. This week on my podcast “Meaningful Conversations,” Mary shares what’s actually happening for women of a certain age: we are experiencing happiness and growth and redefining the notion of what it means to grow older. 

Best known for her groundbreaking book about adolescent girls, “Reviving Ophelia,” Mary’s new book “Women Rowing North”, is a timely examination of the cultural and developmental issues facing women as they age.

Author Jennifer Wortham, Whose Brothers Were Abused by the Catholic Church Clergy, Reveals the Power of Forgiveness and Renewed Faith 

In her book “A Letter to the Pope: The Keeper of the Nest,” author Jennifer Wortham gives us insight into the trauma experienced by her brothers at the hands of the clergy but also offers the hope of forgiveness and renewed faith.

Martha Beck Explains Why ‘History’ Should Be ‘Ourstory’

Our SP columnist Martha Beck offers a unique perspective in honor of Women’s History Month this March. She reflects on a woman’s point of view and how it might change how we look at the past.


Patti Davis Reveals the Life-Changing Lesson She Learned From Her Father’s Struggle With Alzheimer’s

After receiving the news that her father Ronald Reagan was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Sunday Paper columnist Patti Davis came to a crossroads in her life: either face the news with devastation or “widen my perceptions, go deep into my faith, and keep asking myself, like a mantra, how can I see this differently.” 


1. Rep. Elijah Cummings Offers Hope That Will Lead to a Better America: I was moved and inspired by Rep. Elijah Cummings closing remarks at the Michael Cohen hearing. Cummings offered not just Michael Cohen, but all of us hope to a better “…United States of America and a better world.” 

2. House Passes Two Gun Bills:  As I mentioned in my essay, I am thankful that two major gun bills in as many days have passed the House. The safety of our children is of the utmost importance.

3. Is Millennial Burnout a Real Thing?: This is an interesting read from NBC News “Think,” which explores the controversy surrounding a recent Buzzfeed article, “How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation.” 

4. ‘Methodists: Don’t Let the Door Hit You On My Way Out’:
This is an interesting op-ed from Pulitzer Prize-winning writer John Archibald. A life-long member of the Methodist Church, Archibald mourns his church’s loss of “openness” since they double-downed on a decades-old ban on same-sex marriage and gay and lesbian preachers.

5. Actress Emma Thompson: Why I Can’t Work for John Lasseter: Good for her! Actress Emma Thompson pulled out of a project at Skydance Animation after the studio hired John Lasseter, who has been accused of inappropriate sexual behavior.

6. Why the Priesthood Needs Women: As I said in my essay, I am sickened by the Catholic Church’s stance on women. This must-read from the New York Times emphasizes that barring a gender from the Church’s “highest ranks provides the implicit rationale for clerical abuse.” 

7. How I ‘Unbroke My Brain’ By Ditching My Phone: As I’ve often said, it’s so important to walk away from the electronics and make time for human interaction. This great piece from the New York Times explores ways to break up with your phone. 

8. Why Reading Is So Important for Your Brain: This great little piece from Reader’s Digest explores the scientific reasons why reading “nourishes” the brain and helps prevent memory loss. 

9. Yippee Moment of the Week! I know you’ve all seen it, but I love this duet between Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga so much, I had to share it again. And even though they aren’t really in love, it’s nice to pretend.  


Get Moving and Get Involved in New NIH-Funded Exercise Clinical Research Trial For Your Brain Health

WAM is a big believer in the power of exercise to improve your #brainhealth. Now there is a new clinical trial that is studying how exercise can help individuals with mild memory loss. Read more details below, then visit or email to find a location near you.

THE WOMEN’S ALZHEIMER’S MOVEMENT is a global movement of game changers, groundbreakers, and cultivators of hope. We’re working to wipe out Alzheimer’s and change the future for all minds


This recipe for Warm Kale Blackberry Salad was created by Dr. Annie Fenn, a physician, chef focused on Alzheimer’s prevention, and founder of Brain Health Kitchen. According to Annie, “It’s warm and comforting, yet bright and flavorful … and is packed with good-for-the-brain foods.” 



SHOP, SHOP SHOP! AThe Maria Shriver Collection: Good for You, Your Mind, & the World 

Visit the shop on to get Maria’s book “I’ve Been Thinking,” her coloring book for Alzheimer’s “Color Your Mind,” the Maria candle, Rivet Revolution bracelets benefiting The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement, her new Maria BrainHQ program, and more!


Do you have feedback on The Sunday Paper? Do you have ideas for content or changemakers that we should feature in an upcoming edition? If so, connect with us below.