Monday, August 31, 2015

Car Wash

I think of meditation as akin to taking the car to a car wash.  You have to take the some place that washes cars and then know what you want to get.  Once you get inside the car wash, you sit there, do nothing and let the machines do what they do.  Follow directions.  In meditation, I have to go t some spot or place that is conducive for my goal, to meditate.  When I get to my spot, chair or whatever, I sit and let God do what God wants to do.  My action is all in stopping whatever I am doing and moving myself into a meditation ambiance.  God does the rest.  If I were to get out of the car inside the car wash and start to do it myself, there would be a big mess.  Don't do God's job.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

We Stink

My sister Maureen used to say to me that when I had something that I did not earn, and then did not appreciate it, "You Stink!"  I did not literally smell, but I was practicing bad behavior that showed non-appreciation of the "gift."  Toys were a gift, but I did not take care of them, or appreciate what I had.  "You Stink," was Maureen's way of cursing.  She is the only good Catholic I know who I believe is in purgatory.  But I digress.  In the Bible there is a story, a parable Jesus tells, where a fellow is invited to a wedding.  He was a fellow hanging around on the streets, not bathed, and never invited to any wedding.  He now gets a chance for a great meal to fill his empty belly.  Everyone invited had to be rid of their smelly street clothes and put on a clean wedding garment.  Everyone else did.  This fellow could not be bothered.  The King greeted him as "friend."  This guy never had it so good, but he could not give any answer as to why he did not do this simple thing that all the others did.  Put on a clean wedding garment.  He stinks.  So he got thrown out into the streets bound hand and foot in the dark.  His life is going downhill.  Being thoughtless, self-imploded or unappreciative is likely to do that.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Not That Bad

When people tell me that they are a little worried about their behavior, I try not to make them feel better by saying, "Oh, you are not that bad."  They might get worse.  If they feel that they are developing a bad, unhealthy or self-abusive habit, it will only get worse, never better.  It is the nature of bad habits.  The first step in ceasing a worrisome habit is to admit that you cannot stop on your own.  This is ego deflating and humiliating or at least humbling.  If I tell you that you are not all that bad, it pumps up your ego to think you still got things under control with a bit more effort, will power or whatever.  I am not in the "making you feel better" business.  Transformation is never down that road.

Friday, August 28, 2015

San Francisco

August 28 is an important date in my life.  It is the date in 1969 when I moved from Chicago to San Francisco.  Chicago was a lot like New York where I grew up.  Both were cold in the winter, hot in the summer, expensive and crowded.  San Francisco had no humidity, was cheap and not crowded.  It had all the necessary Mom and Pop neighborhood stores for a bachelor.  Like many people my age and younger, I had moved there in search of something.  That is, something was missing, or there was an emptiness.  Geography was part of the solution.  I did not move there for the job, but found myself living with a mixture of locals, who were comfortable in there own skin, and a bunch of searchers, though we did not know the search was spiritual.  Churches were not the solution.  Pubs, parties, camping, weekend excusions to explore the beauty of the state, and of course new friends who made me feel that I was OK in whatever my solutions to life were at any one time.  I discovered the 49er football team, which became a major diversion.  I reunited with my beloved Giants baseball team from my boyhood in New York City.  I fit in the San Francisco scene.  But I did one odd thing that I kept to myself.  I went to weekday mass in the local parish where I worked.  I felt comfortable there.  It touched the hole in me in some way that nothing else quite did.  I felt too uncomfortable to tell anyone else.  The mass thing did not fit at all with how I seemed to be living the rest of my life.  Much has changed with San Francisco and me over the years.  I think I have gotten better, but San Francisco has not.  It is crowded, expensive and my neighborhood is gone.  But I still have a room there, at the church where I used to sneak away to mass.  Grace can work with stange people like me.


I will be in Knoxville, Tennessee next Thursday for a couple of days of teaching and preaching.  I had this idea that I was beloved there, being a nice pastor most of my eight years in Knoxville.  Now I am not so sure.  Everyone is leaving town!  Actually, this is good for my ego.  It keeps me rightsized.  I am not the Second Coming.  I would like to think that I am, but that is in my more delusional moments.  The reality for most of us is that everyone else has plans, lives to live, and we simply fit in whenever it happens to work out.  I picked Labor Day weekend, no home football game.  This is a prime time for people to travel and visit relatives and friends.  The people who invited me to teach wanted me there Labor Day Weekend.  I hope someone shows up?  Then again, God is in charge.  I can only show up with no expectations.  That is a sobering thought!  I will leave some room in my suitcase for M&Ms. One can only hope.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Mixed Up Spiritual Path

Often we mix up a one spiritual path that is advanced, with one that is a bit more primitive, and local.  There was this fellow in the Bible who thought he was part of the Moses religion with the one God, Yahweh.  This God did not believe in human sacrifice.  But the local gods, the local religion in which this fellow lived, his name was Jephthah, liked human sacrifice.  So Jephthah made a vow that if Yahweh would give him victory over enemies, Jephthah would sacrifice the first person who came out of his home when he got back there.  Jephthah was victorious, but his only child, a beloved daughter, came out to greet him.  Bad timing on her part.  He sacrificed her.  He had a mixed up religion.  A lot of us do the same.  We say we believe all are created equal.  Our God loves all people.  Then we look for worship places with people who look just like us.  Worship is quite segregated.  We might say we love everyone, but we then follow local custom and act badly toward certain groups of people.  People in recovery programs say they follow the Big Book, but they do so only to the extent in that it is in their comfort zone.  This is not the same as consciously picking and choosing.  We actually think we are following the whole package.  Mixed up religion people or those on mixed up spiritual paths are hard to convince otherwise.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Donald

I think that The Donald, as in Trump, has outfoxed Fox News when it comes to right wing opinions.  The Donald sells.  People listen or want to watch.  It seems that he has captured some smoldering rage, anger, and opinions.  With The Donald, lots of people have been relieved from embarrassment at holding such views as he proposes.  The government, Wall Street, and other speakers of things USA, try to say things are going well.  Why not, they are the ones in power.  But it seems that things are not going so well for lots of people but they did not feel it was "proper" to say some things.  Not The Donald.  He seems to speaks for them.  I thought that he would be written off as a crazy, and ignored by media and voters.  Wrong!  When Hitler first came along, he said what seemed to be outrageous things.  Apparently, many people were already outraged or angry about stuff and Hitler might have tapped into it.  I would not compare Trump to Hitler.  Big difference.  But the dynamic of hidden rage, is not so different.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Float An Idea

President Obama and the Pope have different ways of putting out an idea that they might like to see enacted.  I think that the Pope's way works better.  When Obama wants change through Congress he says it straight out through the media himself.  No middle person to float the idea.  So if someone does not want any of Obama's ideas to happen, they shut it down in Congress.  The Pope's Congress is the Vatican Cardinals and Synods.  The Pope will say all kinds of things he wants the general world to think about in Encyclicals or in the media.  But if he wants the Cardinals to change something in the church way of doing things, the Pope floats it through Cardinal Walter Kasper.  Read Kasper, "On the Family" and see what the Pope would like the Cardinals to change.  If the Cardinals don't like it, who can blame the pope?  Maybe The Donald could use someone to float his ideas?

Sunday, August 23, 2015

My Justice

The meaning of injustice for many: when someone gets something I want, but they did not work for it.  They have it and I don't.  I work at getting something, and they don't, but we both end up with the same reward.  In school, I would work hard and someone else would not, but we both got the same results, or grade.  Or, I work at a task, but someone else does not work much at all, but we both get the same reward.  All injustice!  If I work hard to get to heaven, and you don't, and we both end up there, I won't be so happy for me, as I will be resentful of you getting the same reward.  Resentment destroys a lot of good works.

Saturday, August 22, 2015


I read this somewhere, "Sodryity."  It remends me of the spiritual condition for many of us.  Sodryity refers to someone who is not drinking, that is, dry, but not doing much about improving their character, which is sobriety.  They could talk about recovery but they did not practice what they knew to be the correct way of living.  Priests, myself included, can talk about stuff, but we don't actually live it.  We can talk about the need for prayer, but not pray ourselves.  We can talk about the wisdom and demands of the Bible, but otherwise ignore such wisdom in our own personal lives.  I tend to judge people who do that.  But why?  Am I any better?  Are you?  I think it is better that I work on me, before I talk, so that when or if I talk, it will be from experience and not something I read from a book.  Is this what "Physician heal thyself," is all about?

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Chosen

If you want to know a lot about the Hasidic Jew and the Orthodox Jew, the novel by Chaim Potok will do it.  I learned a lot I did not know.  It is a short novel too.  What strikes me is that the Hasid and the Orthodox study Torah, and their Talmud commentary, not just with memorization but with argument back and forth between teacher and student or parent and child, so that the child can learn to defend what they believe.  Catholics don't do this.  We send children to Catholic schools and they are told what is true, but no arguments to defend it, no one taking an opposing or different view to make the student defend what they are told is the truth.  Plus, we don't read the bible.  So it is not hard for someone of a different faith, to argue us out of our view, by asking questions the Catholic cannot answer.  I don't think that Catholics so much leave the faith, as they never got it in the first place.  It never became theirs.  It was always the teacher's or the parent's.  We are not very good at arguing our faith or evangelizing because we did not come to believe in that method.  Anyway, "The Chosen" is a good novel.  It takes place in Brooklyn too.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

State Of Grace

Now there is more to the story of being in the state of grace in order to see a shooting star or a falling star.  My sister Maureen was the one who told me this.  Living in the Bronx, there were lots of street lights along our block.  There was air pollution even back then.  So it was very difficult to see much of anything up in the sky at night.  Maureen took me up there now and again in the dark and I would look for a falling star.  I told her I never saw one.  She said it is because I am not in the state of grace. I asked her, "If I am not in the state of grace how do I get to heaven"?  "YOU don't," she curtly answered.  When it came time for First Holy Communion, I had to go to First Confession before I could receive communion.  I confessed my sins.  I received absolution.  Just before the priest closed the screen door to my confessional, I blurted out, "I am now in the state of grace?"  "Of course you are," he said.  It felt good.  Yet, I had not seen a falling star in my lifetime.  That night, after dark, I asked Maureen to take me to the roof for a look at the sky.  No clouds were visible.  I said, "I went to First Confession and the priest said I was in the state of grace."  "We will give it a test," she said.  When we got to the roof, I looked up at the sky.  Maureen did too.  Suddenly, there it was, in an instant.  A shooting star with a long tail.  "Look Maureen," I shouted, "I am in the state of grace."  She looked at me and chagrined, "God certainly has lowered his standards."  I received my First Holy Communion a few days later, and many more communions since.  I like a religion with lower standards.  I meet some of the most interesting people there.  Heck! I would never have ben ordained if God wanted perfection or some elite status for the flock.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Shooting Star

Every August there is a meteor shower in the night sky, but only once in a while does it come with a new moon and clear sky up here at the monastery, 8000 feet altitude.  This year we were blessed with both new moon and clear sky on the best might for viewing.  Now one must be holy and in the state of grace to see a shooting star, as we call it.  The holier you are, the longer and more spectacular the tail on the meteor.  So I went out into the darkness around 3:30 AM, looked up and caught a great shooting star with long tail.  Now if you went outside and did not see anything, well, I have said too much!  What made me holy, and able to see the meteor is not that I pray a lot, but that I broke out of my routine to go outside at 3:30 AM.  I usually am doing something else at that time.  The monastic life is all about routine.  Good to a point.  But a meteor shower is not a daily event.  Sometimes, one has to leave their routine in order to experience something special.  Too many times in my past I have said I did not want to do something, and the real reason is that it interfered with some routine.  I am trying to dump that notion.  I am going to see the play, "Book of Mormon" on a Sunday afternoon at the end of August in Denver.  Tired from preaching, Pro Football on TV, is not going to get in the way of finally seeing a big time play in Denver.  Lived here many years and never did it.  Times they are a'changin'.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015


Two people go on a contemplative prayer retreat.  At the end of the retreat, one says, "I am so disappointed.  I was bored, restless, full of gripping thoughts.  I meditated, but I don't think I did very well.  Maybe God has abandoned me!"  She goes home and finds a lot of domestic mess, job chaos developed while she was away, and people around her seem to be on bad behavior.  To all of it she has a serene disposition.  She is forgiving, nonjudgmental, kind and patient.  The other person on the retreat, says, " It was so wonderful.  I felt at peace in all my mediations.  God is transforming me.  I felt God's presence each day of meditation."  He goes home.  Nothing seems right to him at home or at work.  He is restless, judgmental, complaining, and angry.  Hmmm. Never judge your prayer by how it made you feel.  Rather, check the results in your everyday life.  Some people pray to feel good.  Some pray so that others might feel better.

Monday, August 17, 2015


The church has something called "merit."  It is based upon a very simple reality.  The good you do can benefit others.  God, the Infinite, has done infinite good in Jesus' life death and resurrection.  God will not run out of merits for us to use and share.  Even if you are a non-believer, every good that you do is a"merit" that someone else might make use of.  The good you do, or the good you are, is really your own divine self being all you were made to be, even if you don't believe in divine anything.  It is you being beneficial to others.  Here is how it might work.  You get up in the morning and meditate, do a bit of spiritual reading, go to yoga, a jog/walk.  You feel centered, whole, at peace.  You go into the office.  Everyone else is in a bad mood, negative, whining, and so on.  Your disposition catches on.  People around you pick up "good vibes," we used to say.  They take on some of your "merits" and their dispositions begin to change to something more positive.  Another example, is you go into a 12 step meeting and you are in a good space because you work the program.  Someone else comes in who is a bit of a mess.  They can pick up on your "merits."  They leave the meeting feeling better.  Another example, is your child begins to get cranky, but because you have done some good thing for yourself, they pick up on your "merits" and become less cranky.  So, if you take care of yourself on a daily basis, stay balanced, you will be able to affect others around you in a balanced way.  It is your Godness even if you don't believe in God.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Light Or Darkness

When I examine my conscience each evening, I  try to ask myself if I was the light today or the darkness.  I start out my morning trying to prepare myself to focus on being the light.  Whining is not optional.  Complaining is the doorway to the darkness.  Gossip is anathema to the light.  Now, I have some very unsuccessful days here and there.  But mostly I am a mix, or as some say, I am mixed up.  Those are my conservative "fans."  One thing about my way of life is that I come across all kinds of people.  They may not fit my schedule for the day.  They were not in my plans.  It is good to take my plans lightly.  The unexpected is the invitation to be the light.  It is easier to be the light when I get my way.  But that is not going to make me all I am created to be.

Saturday, August 15, 2015


The culture wars in this country reveal a lot of division.  Election politics will play on this.  There will be talk of the need to come together.  The one place that consistently seems to "come together" and overcome differences is in Recovery meetings.  It shows that we might need a certain desperation to overcome differences.  Sexual preferences, skin color, ethnicity, economic status, and even hygiene  differences are overcome, and accepted, because there is a common experience, addiction, and a common goal, sobriety.  Isolation in these meetings gets you nowhere but back into the misery you say you want to escape.  On the other hand, many people try to negotiate life by keeping a distance from those they see as different, and less than.  The rich live away from the poor.  The black and white live in their separate ghettos, the Latinos hang together.  Some people will even avoid public transportation because it is the one place they might have to mix with "inferiors."  I believe that differences in appearance serve to reveal the many ways in which God chooses to appear in my life each day.  I like public transportation.  I don't even wear headphones.  I could be your worst nightmare, a guy who strikes up a conversation with you while you are trying to isolate.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Dumb Waiter

We had a dumb waiter in our Bronx apartment.  It is not a person.  It is a shaft that went from our kitchen down to the basement.  When the superintendent of the apartment building signaled us, my Mom would open the dumb waiter cabinet door and put the garbage on a ledge.  Then the super would lower the ledge to the basement and dispose of the garbage.  No one had to go out to garbage pails in the alleyway.  Originally, the use of such a device to be rid of dishes after dinner, and to receive cooked food, was so that people would not have to have servants watching and listening to them while they dined.  This was for the rich people in France, for instance.  That is how the name "dumb waiter" came to be used.  I guess people don't like to be watched.  We want our privacy.  But isn't there one who always watches?  God is always in our midst, many believe. Sometimes, when I am not on my best behavior, thinking I am alone, or with others being less than good, I try not to think of God being there too.  If God sees all, I hope there is a Divine short term memory issue.  Otherwise, Maureen will be right.  I will burn.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

A Tight Hip

I just took my first yoga class in thirty years.  The light went on when the teacher said the hips can hold a lot of messy memories.  Way back in the first week of June I went to my college 50th Jubilee reunion.  I thought I had a wonderful time, but I left with a very tight hip.  All summer it has been problematic.  I could not run.  Fast walking was an issue.  Therapy helped, but no cure.  On August 1, I was to teach a session on a particular mystic, talk about prayer, spiritual growth and the obstacles, and so forth.  I thought maybe my hip and back would be a problem with all that standing and teaching. After the morning was over, I realized that I never thought about my hip.  It never bothered me, and has been moving to healing ever since.  What happened?  College had some dark side to it for me.  I was not much of a student.  I did not apply myself.  I studied a lot, but not in areas that were meant for me.  I just did not have a plan or vision at that time.  I was a mediocre student.  Plus,  I lost two girlfriends due to bad behavior on my part.  I was immature and lost.  The Jubilee reunion was on that same campus packed with memories and feelings.  It all went to my hip.  Then, when I taught for the first time since the reunion,  two months later,I was where I am supposed to be, doing what I am meant to do.  I am a teacher of contemplative prayer, the mystics of this prayer.  My unique style calls upon my own ineptitude, and mistakes.  No one feels stupid or too sinful to approach this Way.  I come from a place of hunger,  emptiness, failure, and amazing grace.  All my life has turned into gift to be used to help others to find Love.  My God is unconditional love.  My God would have to be.  Even my sister Maureen is a gift.  Well, that might be a stretch.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015


There is a new way for a co-ed to get through college debt free.  Her body is an asset.  Contract with a guy who has lots of money to be a companion, inclusive of whatever the contract states.  The man either deposits an allowance in her business account or promises to keep her in a particular lifestyle.  The courts say this is not the same as prostitution.  It is an ongoing relationship, presumably while the young lady is going through school.  Of course college is very busy for a student who wants to excel, so sugar-baby is a part time job.  There is no other part time job that pays so well, apparently.  For wealthy men, sex and companionship are in high demand.  It seems to be a sellers market.  Now religion, psychology, and "respectable" society will give counter arguments, with some degree of shock thrown in.  But what is the solution?  College is still expensive and a degree is a way to get on with one's life to a better or good lifestyle.  The student might agree that this solution is immoral, degrading, damaging to one's soul, and psychologically demeaning, but they weigh all that over against coming out of college with a huge debt.  So often, religion focuses on the solution, rather than focus on the problem or the cause.  Go after the high cost of education for young people.  There are ways to make colleges cheaper for the student, but society would have to carry that burden.  Society does not want to carry that burden.  The burden of cutting government benefits to oneself, or raising taxes on oneself, or paying more for some public benefits, would be decried by many people.  It is easier to just condemn the co-ed.  We are no longer our sister's keeper.  We leave that to the rich guy.  Who knows?  Maybe he sees it as supporting college education!  I would prefer a little more chastity, but I am old fashioned.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Mom At The Table

My Dad was always even a faster eater than I was, and he was right-handed.  He proved that fast eaters could find a wife.  It was not passed down to his son.  After I became a priest, dripping with Grace, I would visit with my parents now and again.  My Mom spoiled me and cooked dinners for me. I noticed that my Dad would finish dinner and get up from the table before my Mom would be even half-way through.  She was a slow eater as far as I was concerned.  But dripping with Grace, I decided to eat slower which you can do if you put the utensils down now and again.  I would still finish ahead of Mom but not so much.  I would then sit with her at the table and "visit," as we Irish would say.  I would ask her things about herself or whatever else, and just listen as if I had nothing else to do.  We never ate dessert right after dinner anyway.  We always waited a while to after clean up.  Spoiled priest son did not have to clean up much at all.  Dripping grace has benefits beyond holiness.  I became a good son.  Even my sister Maureen was impressed, and that is saying something.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Dinner Listener

I am a good listener at dinner.  It is because I am left-handed.  My Mom taught me that the knife goes on the right side of the plate and the fork on the left when setting the table.  I learned this when my sister Maureen and I washed and dried the dishes.  I had to set the table at night for breakfast the next morning.  The knife is on the right because most people are right-handed.  They cut their meat with the right hand and hold the meat in place with the fork in the left hand.  The knife does all the skill work, so the right-handed people get to have the knife where they can just pick it up on the right side of the plate.  After they cut their meat, they put the knife down and switch the fork from the left hand to the right so that they can pick up a piece of meat and eat it.  Table setting was for the rich.  Poor Irish did not eat meat. They did not worry about table settings.  We were lace curtain Irish with table settings.  Now a hungry left-handed person like me, simply adjusted.  I learned to cut my meat with my right hand.  Then I kept the knife in my right hand and stabbed my fork into meat, now cut, and ate it.  No switching hands.  No wasted motion.  This is how I learned to eat fast.  So when I was dating and took a young lady to dinner, I would simply ask her something, and then while she talked, I ate.  I was a fast eater and hungry.  None of these women wanted to marry me as it turned out.  After I finished eating I just wanted them to finish so I could get to dessert.  I think that my vocation to the priesthood might have developed from being left-handed.  I guess that is why God made me left-handed.  Whatever we are, God gave us this for a good reason.  I am still a good table setter too, and a good dishwasher.  Why God, did no one want to marry me for all these domestic talents?  Their loss!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

The Pope Said?

I read this in one of the posts that talk about what is going on in Vatican and other church circles.  It is a benign web site, but this came to my attention:
September 30, 2013 the Pope says that God does not condemn LGBT individuals.  I think it was aa America Magazine interview.
March 5, 2014 the Pope said that the church could be open to civil unions.  Apparently, he said it also as the Archbishop of Buenos Aires.
The Philadelphia visit with Archbishop Chaput ought to be very interesting.  The Pope really said this?  Who'd a thought!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Ex Machina

The movie, "Ex Machina" is about robots or AI, artificial intelligence.  A robot, Ava, is built to see if it can pass for human with all the emotions of a human.  The robot looks like an attractive woman to the human who is brought in to test her.  We find out that "she" can hate.  She hates her maker or creator.  We think she is like a damsel in distress because her maker is going to disasemble her, destroy her, to make a more improved model, the next generation.  What we find out is that the robot feels no compassion or empathy.  She seeks only to survive and escape intact.  She outwits the human mind. With no compassion, she kills her maker and leaves the human who was testing her, to starve, imprisoned in the compound.  She has no empathy for his suffering.   She escapes and survives.  Robots would make great soldiers in war.  They won't feel compassion or empathy.  Kill and win.  That is one of the reasons I find war to be wrong.  It makes robots of people.  Do real robots feel post traumatic stress?

Friday, August 7, 2015


In some ways catechisms are period pieces.  That give an answer that fits the milieu and religious politics of that time.  They are written with an opinion that tries to sell itself as perennial truth.  No doubt there is dogma which is perennial.  A period piece to rules and regulations, which is a lot of the catechisms, was that at one time if you wanted to marry a Protestant, you could not go beyond the altar rail.  You were not allowed into the sanctuary.  The Protestant was not worthy.  They were heretics and we were still fighting the Reformation of the 16th Century.  Then the rule changed.  Vatican II came along and we began to call Protestants our "Separated Brethren.   We dropped the heretic part.  Times had changed.  Now you can marry a Protestant and the couple can come into the sanctuary to make their wedding vows and so on.

Thursday, August 6, 2015


There is a long history of saying something or someone is not human, so that we can be rid of it.  When the first settlers came, the Native populous were a surprise, but simply different.  They were OK to have around, even helpful.  Ask Lewis and Clark.  But they were not capitalists.  They did not have private property to expand their capital base.  So the Indians became "savages," not human.  this allowed nice Christians to kill them or drive them off to reservations and later to break treaties.  The southern plantations, private property, needed some one to work the land in a hot climate.  Free labor would be even better.  The dark skinned western African fit the bill.  We said they were not human.  The looked like monkeys.  Nice Christians could enslave them.  When the British were OK about the potato famine, the Irish were painted as less than human, or at least less than British.  When the teddy Roosevelt regime wanted to make the Philippines a Banana Republic for military purposes in that part of the world, we painted the native people as dark skinned monkeys.  If it worked for Africa, it will work for the Philippines.  It was OK to take lots of Mexico, North of the Rio Grande since they were not so human and Catholic or worse, Indian.  So be careful when you say the fetus is not human.  There is a long line of deception there that eases us into disposal for "good reasons."

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Read Widely

I like to read Ross Douthat of the NYT.  I am more of a liberal than he is.  He makes me think.  He does not give flippant responses to issues.  I used to read William F. Buckley, of "National Review" magazine because he made me think.  I had to ponder my own position, how did I come to it.  This keeps me from becoming a lazy liberal,  or a lazy Catholic, reading only what I like, going to a church that suits my way of seeing things, living in a neighborhood where everyone is like me and so on.  I like to dialogue with people who disagree with me.  "Why do you think that?" or "How did you come to that conclusion?" I might ask and then listen, without making a quick judgment or thinking of my rebuttal.  I find some of my liberal friends reject Douthat but don't seem to give much of a reason why.  I find that many conservative reject me thoughts on a blog, but don't give much of a reason that indicates that really thought through the hard parts of life's ambiguities.  On both the right and the left I find that often anger cuts short a dialogue or openness to the "other."  Anger often hides a wound.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Media Literacy

I like this term, "media literacy."  Most of us are media illiterate in some area.  We believe something because of its source.  We are pretty good about seeing through advertising when it says, "sales."  We know a good one from a come on.  Some of us tend to buy into government babel if it already agrees with our politics or our wants.   If we are big business or big union they each have their own babel.  Babel is to maintain the organization and its power.  In my church a lot of people believed the pope back in 1968 when he said no to contraception.  They believed they had to leave the church if they disagreed, so they left in droves.  Why did they not simply say the pope is babel, that is, wrong, and simply go on with receiving communion?  Then, we believed the pope spoke truth.  Encyclicals mattered.   Now, the new pope says that the environment is a mess, it really hurts the poor more than others,  and it is our fault and we need to fix it.  This is a new thing from popes.  He is thought to be babel by many, often the same ones who think the pope speaks for Jesus when it comes to sex.  Why do we listen to the pope on sex but not on environment?   I suggest that there are two things we hold dear: convenience and money.  We prefer to drive when there in a bus as an alternative.  We want convenience and the flexibility that goes with it.  Fixing our world will cost money which is really the center of worship for corporate America.  Recycling costs money in taxes and can be an inconvenience personally with all that separation of trash and different dins to put it in. and so on.  When I was a young bachelor I did not care much for the pope's statement on contraception.  It is not that I read it closely and pondered it.  I just wanted what I wanted when I wanted it.  I wonder if that is the same with those who reject Laudoto Si today.  

Monday, August 3, 2015

Health Insurance

Anthem is buying Cigna for $54.2 Billion.  Where did Anthem come up with all that money to spare to buy another insurance company?  Plus, Anthem will pay 38% above the current premium share price at recent stock market closing.  Insurance companies say that they have to keep raising rates to keep up with the cost of medical care.  I think their profit margins say otherwise.  They must have a great lobby in Washington.  I tend to believe that insurance companies are not about insurance. They are about making money.  Insurance is the product.  Institutions, such as big business, church, government are more about preserving and enhancing the institution than in their stated purpose for existence.  The Catholic sex scandal was about preserving the institution from exactly that, scandal.  So the church got exposed.  Would that we could do that with Big Insurance.

Sunday, August 2, 2015


I just finished a novel, "Green On Blue," by a new author Elliott Ackerman.  He has had five tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.  He gives a picture, well written, I find, of the how and the why of the ongoing war in Afghanistan.  He has a unique, and surprising to me, reason for how this war is conducted.  What if he is right?   It made me think.  I admit I am no expert on this war, why it has gone on so long with no real resolution.  He takes an insiders view of it all.  It is a short novel, no door stopper.  I recommend you give it a read.  Isn't this what is fascinating about reading broadly instead of just what seems to support a view you already have.  I would call this novel, historical fiction.

Saturday, August 1, 2015


It is not that I eschew parents exposing their children to things such as ballet, soccer and music to name a few.  It is the frenzy with which they go about it.  There is no time to learn about solitude, stillness and silence and its giftedness.  My contemplative dimension was born in the Bronx as a boy when my Mom told me to go out and play even though there might be no one about and nothing to do.  I knew that I was not alone.  The Catholic church taught me this.  Not the nuns and the catechism, but the building itself.  We had tabernacles.  When I walked into that vast empty space in the middle of a weekday, I knew it was not empty.  God was there in the tabernacle.  Now Protestants were more optimistic about people while Catholics were not.  The Protestants thought we could read the bible and just know God was everywhere.  We Catholics know we are dunces and we follow our Jewish ancestors who knew they were dunces.  See The Exodus.  When the Israelites wandered in the desert after they left Egypt, they would whine when they were hungry and thirsty, thinking God had abandoned them.  So God and/or Moses decided to build a tabernacle and have the people carry it wherever they wandered, to remind them that God was with them.  Tabernacles are to help ween us from the false notion that silence and solitude mean nothing is here but me and abject loneliness and boredom.  God is present.  Be still and know this presence without tabernacles.  Come to think of it the great ballet dancers and musicians already practice this.  Escape mediocrity and its frenzy.