Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Kick in the Teeth for Commitment

So, the latest fad is, I don't take thee, when it comes to holy matrimony and marriage in our time.

With commitment on the wane, one wonders where all this will lead?

Greeting somone in the neighborhood is a task enough regarding as little a commitment as that is to acknowledge a neighbor. It seems as though any eye contact requires a longer commitment on the part of any dialog these days.

We have microwave ovens. Instant potatoes. Throw-away relationships. No-fault divorce.

And, a society that refused to commit anymore.

Wonder where this will go?

What's in it for you, me, the culture?


To study. To work. To aim high. For higher standards. For the ideal.

Is commitment gone with the wind?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Who Do You Listen To?


Listening is not the same with everyone I talk with daily.

I may hear some while I pay more attention to another.

One I may acknowledge that I'm listening, but far from it.

The ancients had the prophets to deal with often.

Amos, among the classic prophets of the Scriptures, challenged that attidude of the rich toward the poor and needy.

People listened, rebelled, and reacted or responded to the daunting challenge of the prophet.

The clarion call required a response.

Who do I listen to?

To whom do I give my ear?

To whom I give my ear may form my virtues, strengths, and values that include or exclude people.

Listening may all the difference in the world where I live my daily life.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Daily Self Care

This is your life.

It's the only one I get.

So. . .

How do I live each day? What do I do? How am I to be? How do I live it well?

I must pause. That is, I must get off the fast track that leads to destruction.

Pausing means I fully focus and ponder the moment I am experiencing. I stop, look, and listen.

As with a red traffic light, I stop, so, I need to pause daily for recreation of body, mind and spirit.

What's in it for me?

Quality of life, for sure. Less stress. More enjoyment.

Half way to Port Austin, Michigan, I begin to chill and feel differently as I relax driving in my Jeep to visit my brother in the Thumb of this beautiful state.

Frenetic and stressed, I find that that is dumped midway. Calm overcomes me.

I let go of worry.
I smile more.
I enjoy my passenger, Wolfie, my four-legged Bichon Frise puppy.

The rest of the day is a delight.

I connect with the Creator, and, give thanks for the duration.

Supper consists of a toasted chicken sandwich, a salad, some nuts, and tomato slices with apple cider vinegar and olive oil.

Reading follows.

Conversation and visits ensue.

A walk with Wolfie wraps up the night.

I rest.

I trust all will be well.

I sleep eight hours and am awakened refreshed.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A God Who Hates

That's the title of an ex-Muslim dissident from Syria, Wafa Sultan, a psychiatrist who came to America with her husband who is also educated, and, respected her, the author says.

The courageous woman who inflamed the Muslim world speaks out against the evils of Islam, is the subtitle of this book of 13 chapters and 244 pages that kept me glued to its finish.

Sultan brings light to how women are treated and why the Islamic faith was founded.

Sultan says, Islam is "the ogre" as she traces the roots and psychology of a nomadic people who invented this religion in ordr to assuage thier own fears and feelings of desperation.

Story after story tells of the brutal murder of women for alleged violations of Sharia law.

Harsh life in the Arab desert, and the fear of dying of hunger and thirst, fostered a violent and anxious people who wanted to survive at any price.

The author writes:

"Arabs who lived in the environment that gave birth to Islam were powerless in the face of the challenges presented by this environment, which threatened their lives and welfare. Because they felt so helpless they felt a need for forcefulness and created a god who would fulfill this need. When the Arab male lost his power, he felt the need for a forceful god. And so he created a forceful god in the image of his need - but this god was not powerful."

Furthermore, Sultan describes the prophet Muhammad as a pedophile and perveyor of violent ways.

In a most daunting interview on February 21, 2006, Sultan gave one of the most provocative interviews on Al Jazeera network. She told her male Muslim interviewer to "shut up" when it was her turn to speak.

Named one of Time magazine's list of the 100 most influential people in the world, Sultan was described as a transformative individual.

This may be one person's experience, but it is critical, when the human dignity of women suffers so much.

It kept me engged from page to page. When many of my own quetions about Muslims remain ambiguous in the interfaith work I do, Sultan cuts to the chase.

She opened my eyes to the streak of violence that seems to thread through the Muslim world's faith.

Sultan loves America, and stood when others sit, and, speak truth to power.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Can't We Just Get Along?

A bevy of birds.

Plenty of noise from Canadian geese grabbed the attention of my Bichon Frise puppy, Wolfie, and me this rainy Saturday morning in Harrison Township, Michigan.

As we watched, and Wolfie wanted to attack, I noticed one bird hovering low with neck and legs zooming in with a loud sound toward another fleeing bird.

Can't we just get along?

Everyone seems to be fighting these days: Political parties, neighors, bullies, and the military securing our nation, or, perhaps, thoughts of invading another, soon, God forbid!

Is it in our nature, our, our genes to wage battle with each other?

What is it?

Are our hearts conflicted?

In our hearts, that's where war begins, I recall a Trappist monk saying while on retreat years

In my heart?


How true.

I must settle my heart to keep family and nation at peace.

Canadian geese.

The Canadians have a small armed forces I hear, and, are a nation at peace, for the most part, it seems.

Their geese?

That's another story as they invaded Jefferson and Crocker Roads this morning.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

OCD, Scrupulosity

Obsessive compulsive behavior.

We also call it scrupulosity.

We all know the senseless search for something trivial that was lost.

Novelist, pastor and sociologist Andrew Greeley tells the story of a very wealthy golfer who planned to golf.

The only problem?

He thought it would rain on his parade, on his 10th hole that day.

So he told his golfing partners to go ahead.

He'd meet there there once he found his favorite cap.

It wasn't in his duffle bag.

Or, his golf bag.

Or, in the clubhouse.

He looked again in all these places.

No find.

He asked his wife if she knew where that cap was.

"I threw it out; it's ugly."

He found it in the trash.

He put it on and drove to the golf course.

They were on the 12th hole.

And, it didn't even rain.

(The Gospel of St. Luke, Chapter 15, tells a similar story).

Paradise President Obama NOT Yet!

So two years into office, we expect the President of the good ole U.S. of A. to have stopped the bleeding and put us back into prosperity, or else . . .

Are we impatient?

Too quick to assess his legacy?

Afraid of losses in our own personal economy?

Perhaps greedy for the good ole days when the economy was flying high and we were in the black?

And, another President has us living the really good life?

I don't quite get all the divisiveness in this Nation I love.

I don't get what may be covert hate, and not so undercover by some who lack respect for the authority and Office of the President.

Even some who claim to follow the New Testament aren't willing to pray for and respect those in authority.

So. . . please tell me, please....

What are we encountering in America?

Are these the days back to McCarthyism?

Maybe racism?

Perhaps worse?

Tell me what's in all this name calling and anger about?

What's it all about?

Sunday, September 12, 2010



That's what I watched early into the morning as the History Channel chronicled the dust and ashes of the heap and hunks of steel beams blasting about in New York City that fateful day of 9/11/01.


Some want to move to recovery fast. Healing, however, takes time.

And, with this unhealed wound, I wonder how long?

Whatever time it takes is OK, nevertheless.

"O my God," echoes out loud with hours of eye-witness video footage of residents who watched the horror unfold before the face of so many.

Dust sprinkled all of them and covered the ground like snow on a wintry white night drizzed with ashes, bones, beams and human beings strewn across the street of Manhattan.

My heart ached, locked as I was into this "man's inhumanity to man," to quote the Detroit-connected Reinhold Neibuhr who defined what is called sin - missing the mark. Pride and pretension are descriptions of sin for Neibuhr.

Arrogance and acting as though any human is the center of the universe, above the Maker.
Pretending to be other than who God made each of us in the beauty each is with the face of God's image and likeness as Genesis notes in the Hebrew Scriptures.

The evil-doers, who claimed they wanted to cleanse themselves from impurity, missed the mark of God's law of love.
They didn't miss the two trade towers, but, they failed miserably in pretending to defend the actions of murder.

My tears poured as I watched, tired as I was, longing for my bed for sleep. I couldn't move as I relived this ninth anniversary of this memorial of murdered Americans (and so many others across the globe daily).

My heart was split apart like the structure tearing apart, metal and steel melting in the extreme heat from the ton of gasoline in the airplanes that bombed the USA that day.

Ashes, dust, and more.

The smell.

A month after 9/11 on foot at the sacred space, the smell of human flesh pervaded my nostrils.

More ache.

Remember, you are dust and into dust you will return.

Those words mark forheads of Christians with ash from burnt palm trees the first day of Lent, called Ash Wednesday. It is the start of the 40-day period of fasting, intense prayer, and almsgiving for believers who join with Jesus the Christ is the passion, suffering, dying, death and rising over 2,000 years ago.

You are dust.

The sacrament of the anointing - final rites - extreme unction - was prayed with victims struggling through the smoke. Priests were everywhere joined with firefighters and police providing comfort to the wounded.
They all were there. The whole world seemed to be there. It was. One globe under God, I thought. One family with some bad apples who committed this unspeakable crime.

Never again! Never, I pray God!

Everyone one of my sisters and brothers were running from the cloud of smoke and the imploding towers.

What's in it for me?

The words of one survivor who was a guest of the Mariott Hotel next to the towers on the fifth floor, say it all:

"I found myself asking have I been all my parents expected me to be," he voiced aloud, as he was certain his death neared when a falling brick showed with smoke from his hotel window.

A review of his life.

An examination of conscience.

He survived.

The questioning, however, follows each of us.

Remember, you are dust and into dust you will return.

Unity, charity and random acts of kindess every day.

What matters most centers suddenly.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Sad State of Media Who Make Media Hounds Like Pastor Jones

Media make hounds for the media like Pastor Terry Jones.

It is a shame society has evolved to this. Glowing in so-called fame for a few is a product, however of the media.

Like a parent who spoils a young child who give her or him everything, the media looks for people to savor and relish in the glow of cameras for their moment.

Media is the lone institution who have gone unchallenged. Media hold the influence and have the final word, and, media knows it.

Pastor Terry Jones needs to get personal phone calls from clergy today. I beg clergy of all faith traditions to call him as soon as possible and speak truth in love. Call Pastor Jones at 362 371 2487.

Tonight I called him and left a voice mail asking him to quit this disgraceful behavior.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

School Bells Ringing for End to Violence

Family is the answer to the violence erupting in homes, schoolyards and just about everywhere these days, it seems, amid school bells ringing the start of a fresh year.

Is the high school drop-out rate the problem?



Perhaps, all of these factor into the dilemma.

But, unless marriages stabilize and family foundations are supported once more, the cycle
of anger, rage and driveby shootings will continue.

And, where sons and daughters play, will hardly be exempt as school bells ring out this week.

Franciscan pastor, Richard Rohr, a leader of a model of male spirituality, studied culture after culture, only to discover that boys and men are at risk. A pause to ponder will help.

A men's rite of passage is proposed via a retreat-like week and encounter where fathers and sons stare in the face of each other. Then, boys between 13 and 16 are introduced to the sufferings, pains or mysteries of life - you are not the center of the universe; life is hard; you win some and lose some; one day yo will die; you are not in control; you life is about something bigger and someone bigger than you - the youngster will not know how to handle loss, rejection, or losing a job, or a girlfriend, for that matter, as they get older.

And, if the male can'f face his pain, Rohr concludes, he will abuse his power.

Rohr refers to Edward Tick's, War and the Soul, a book that proves how many males sought some kind of initiation in joining the armed forces, only to be disillusioned.

An inner life has to be formed beyond performance, winning, beating the other team or guy.

Developing an inner life entails dealing with suffering and the mysteries of life mentioned above.

That seems to be off the compass of parenting in today's culture. It is a task, however, that only dads with the support of moms, can do with their son(s).

The cycle of violence will only continue unless boys are taught to embrace the ambiguities and mysteries of life.

Sons must be raised differently.

Otherwise, expect more of the same sad stuff amid school bells ringing the start of school again.

God help us.

And, let us help ourselves, our sons, and, men at risk.

Creator God,
amid the horror
of rage and violence,
silence us sufficiently
to bring sons and fathers
together in retreat.

Let them stare in the face
of one another. May fathers
form sons by telling them
of the ambiguities and
mysteries of life - that they
win some and lose some in life;
that I am not the center of the
universe; that I may be passed over
at work for a position I want; that my
girlfriend may reject me, and, more.

Help family to be strong again with
parents committed to marriage and
the convenant that comes with it.

Show us the path upon the way you
have given us down through the ages.

So be it.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Jeep Drivers Waving Wranglers Club

My blue Wrangler Sport Jeep seems to attract passersby.

Other Wrangler drivers wave as we pass or ride in lanes next to each other on the expressway
or elsewhere.

When the waving Wranglers first began to acknowlede me, I felt strange.

Nevertheless, being polite, I would wave back.

At first, when the waving began, I thought it was a fad that would pass.

What was it?

Why were Wrangler waving at me?

Was it my bright blue color that engaged their eyes?

Couldn't be this 61-year-old driver, could it, I wondered?

My Wrangler waver issue was mentioned to some friends in Roseville, MI., the other night at supper.

One of the six said:

"Jeep owners have an entire line of items that link all Wranglers. They meet. They have mugs.
They have conventions."

Cool, I thought.

There you have it.

Sounds strange, doesn't it? But, it's true, believe me, or get a Jeep and find out for yourself.

It is nice to be noticed.

Nicer to exchange the wave from my blue Wrangler Jeep.

Is it a club or a cult, I asked myself the other night on my way home from Novi, where I mentioned this experience to other priests.

No one commented.

The high-spirited enthusiasm drowned out my gentle voice, I guess.

Glad the Wrangler wavers pay attention.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Sorrows, Celebrations

Life is full of sorrows.

It is also flowing with celebrations.

Today, I encountered sad situations and those that filled me with joy.

At jail, a 33-year-old man who is caught in the web of crack cocaine addiction, refused to go into rehabilitation for drug recovery.

"You become better at getting drugs when you go int a rehab," he yelled back at my invititation.

He had little to say.

I was sad, to say the least.

"Do you want me to give a message to anyone?" I asked him.


Later that day I popped into an office of Ascension Lutheran Church in Clinto Township to meet the pastor.

Joy filled me as we chatted.

He told of plans to break ground for a new building on Card and 22 Mile Road in Macomb County, MI.

Good news, I thought.

People believe.

We talked about fracture in marriage and the violence surrounding us everywhere, it seems.

"You know, the research shows that those who stop devotions and prayers, get caught up in temptation and sin," the pastor shared.

At home, later that night, I saw in the paper that the Wall of Healing is in town in Clinton Township, MI., not far from where I live.

The story of a marine killed in Vietnam locked me into that piece since my own brother, Lucas, was killed the same year there in 1968.

That's an unhealed wound, I thought.

More sadness, sorrow, as I recalled the men and women maimed in our current battled.

I'll be there to find my brother's name on the Wall, nevertheless.

After some prayer, I hit the pillow and rested my head with a deep sigh of relief.

I felt a smile come over my face before I vaulted into deep rest.

Sorrows and celebrations.

The mix of life.

"We mourn over the blossoms of May because they are to wither, but we know withal, that May is one day to have its revenge upon November, by the revolution of the solemn circle which never stops - which teaches us in our height of hope, ever to be sober, and in our depth of desolation never to despair."

John Henry Cardinal Newman's "The Second Spring," came to mind, from July of 1852.

The mix of ups and downs of life.

We take the sad stuff.

We relish the consolations and joys also, thank God!