Archive for August, 2008|Monthly archive page


Anti-government demonstrations.  The headlines today indicates, “Protest leaders in Thailand said they were prepared for arrest as Bangkok riot police squared off with thousands of anti-government demonstrators.”  I am doubtful that protests next week in St. Paul will be called anti-government demonstrations?  But they surely would be. 

Ambition.  Obama.  Always moving.  In his youth, with his gadfly mom.  Attending college in California.  Halfway through changing colleges.  Transferring to the Ivy League.  His Chicago years have been ignored in his 2 books.  I wondered about his friends—the relationships in his life. 


Don’t look at McCain’s relationships to be encouraged.  He was unfaithful to his first wife, following her auto accident.  He was a philanderer, dating, marrying the daughter of a Budweiser distributorship in Arizona who acquired his business, according to an investigation in 1976 following the death of reporter Don Bolles, from mob connections.  If not for the mob connections in his in-laws family, he would never have been the senator from Arizona. 

What kind of people do we elect these days?  Nancy Pelosi over the weekend was on Meet the Press explaining moral theology and abortion, as it relates to her own religious faith.  The Denver archbishop suggested on Monday morning that she really might not have read the text books. 

Politicians, most Catholic Democratic politicians, all seem alienated from religious leaders.  Not that the American bishops have been a proud group in the last 10 years.  But it was the current politicians I was focusing on.  Over the weekend, I had brunch at the home of a former wife of an ex-mayor.  I asked her about the mayor who had preceded her husband in office.  He was alive.  The brother of the mayor taught me for 3 years.  The brother was a great man.  But of the former mayor, it was said, he was “a nice guy but maybe too naïve for office.”  The judgment of the wife of the ex-mayor.  Or maybe from his successor, who belonged to the same party. 

The current governor of Virginia gave a speech last nigh in Denver, promoting the idea of a government program to recruit good teachers.  He failed to recognize the trouble finding good teachers was that there were no real rewards.  Not when compared to investment banking and medicine.  Everyone today had to be interested in money.  Where are the kind people?  Who might be a little naïve?    

I had just read a piece on John Paul II written by John Allen in the National Catholic Reporter, upon the pope’s death.  On the eve of Obama’s acceptance speech, it is of note to read of a man:  “Deeper than politics, either secular or ecclesiastical, lies the realm of personal integrity – goodness and holiness, the qualities we prize most in colleagues, family and friends.  It’s a rare ideologue for whom condoms or the Latin Mass represent ultimate concerns. A person may be liberal or conservative, avant-garde or traditional, but let him or her be decent and most of the time that’s enough.” (See 


History & Instant Replays


Instant Replays.  The Clintons.  The Bushes.  Politics.  Television’s affect on us.  Egos.  Identities. 


Tony Verna is the man who wanted to fill the time during team huddles in football. Verna invented instant replay on Dec. 7, 1963, directing the telecast of the Army-Navy game at Municipal Stadium.  According to an article in the Philadelphia Daily News today by Stan Hochman, replays had been used during halftime shows but not instantly, because the equipment wasn’t smart enough. That Army-Navy game, Verna had the courage to try it when “Army quarterback Rollie Stichweh bootlegged, went off tackle from the 1 yard line and scored. Verna gave announcer Lindsey Nelson the word, and then came the replay. ‘This is not live,’ Nelson screeched. ‘Ladies and gentlemen, Army did not score again.’ 


“‘Roone Arledge,’ Verna said, ‘He had to do everything. Had to shoot the biggest water buffalo. But he couldn’t have invented instant replay, because he was never in the truck, he never directed, he never punched the buttons.'”  According to an article in the Philadelphia Daily News, “Verna invented instant replay, won a fistful of Emmys, got very rich on instant-replay royalties, retired?  NO, NO, NO. ‘All it made me was some enemies,’ Verna said from his home in Woodland Hills, California.”  Not even, as an employee at CBS, an Emmy.  He has trouble hiding the bitterness that he felt toward those who have claimed they invented instant replay.  


In October 1979, I met Steve K.  We worked at the same company and he was attending the same 5 or 10 day school that I was for more training.  On January 2, 1985, I succeeded Steve K in the office he ran.  He was not fired but would have been if he did not quit.  Everyone has their own style of business.  In Steve K.’s case, he just had not been working very hard and it took quite a bit to clean up his mess.  Successor’s had a less kind view of history than anyone else. 


Bill Clinton is mad at the Democrat nominee for trashing his presidency in his campaign against Hillary.  When Lyndon Johnson became president, he was quoted as saying the biggest thing he learned was how reliant he was on the policies of his predecessors. 


Instant replays put some of history in a new light.  Because studies show the same people witnessing the same event remember differently. 

 In other news, neither the name of a Bush nor a Clinton will be put in nomination for president this year.  Finally, America had overcome instant replay and the warning of Lindsey Nelson.  ‘Ladies and gentlemen, Army did not score again.’  

The New Paradigm

Time. The magazine. Hair growth. Dust bunnies. The weather. Hot. Cold.
It is all a time thing.

Time. Good times. For better.

“Most [of the importance] of what happens in our life, happens in our absence.” – wrote Salmon Rushdie

For better. For worse. Not unlike the comments written by Scott McClure on the Creighton University website: “I come from a family in which some deep injuries exist. These injuries, made by family member against family member, are profound – the type that reach across generations and affect those not even born when they were committed. The type that spawn subsequent injury of emotion, of memory, of relationship. Perhaps you can relate to some deep hurt in your life or among your family or friends.” 

I had this fear shopping for food. The worst was coming. Diminishing daylight. Cold would be coming soon. Fear of rising prices. I felt authentic fear of prices in the supermarket the other night.

Since I was categorized as in the wealthiest class of the upper 10% on earth, what was it like in the 3rd world?

I was in denial— not looking. At my life. It was about a job change. I did not want to change. But the market was forcing it. Hunger drove people.

Mark Halperin was here last night. I listened to him speak about the state of the media, and campaign 2008. He cited surveys about the interest in the young in current events. They expressed surface interest. Yet these were the non-readers of the news. The indifference of youth was not new, to the news. But it now was making a financial impact.

In the crowd, I saw a priest, who administered to the sick. Quite intimately in my family. He had buried my grandfather, in his first act as a new pastor. And then my father.  Over Time.

My time. The years that I was alive. We spoke briefly about James Patrick Shannon’s autobiography, entitled Reluctant Dissenter . His name was in the book, since he accompanied Shannon to Rome to participate in Vatican II. He was one of the youngest clerics in Rome. Serving as the bishop’s secretary, he said he never saw much of the light of day in more than 2 months.

Time. A Pastor. Now retired. He was in listening to Mark Halperin too. And speaking about Vatican II, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops had now announced they were turning back the clock to pre-1965, with the language of the Catholic Mass, come 2011. Time.

Detachment. To talk about God, amongst the non-believers. McCain, Obama had to feel uncomfortable. So how did the candidates feel, to address religion and politics. Together. Time, the magazine. Halperin worked for them. He covered these guys.

A sense of humility. Life was about sharing intimacy to a different degrees, with those who knew me. I was being asked by a friend what my blog website was. I was writing these time pieces, but did I really want someone I knew to read this stuff? I had a sense of the humble, within. To discuss what I had seen, made me feel humble, in the secular world, when it included allusion to God. I was uncomfortable to talk about God with people I knew.

Listening to Mark Halperin, he cited the remaining 7 news organizations in the world. The financial success of the organization would determine what they could cover in the future. Local organization did not have the financial strength. To cover, to explain what was happening. In a changing world.

Listening to Mark Halperin, I thought of the indifference of youth. Indifference to the news, to religion, to God? Detachment. (See “Guys with Miters.”) The world had changed. Kids had grown up in the 401K world, the era of leveraged buyouts, hedge funds.  With financial success determining so much.  Too much!  Leadership had been from afar all of their lives, with corporations and even church leaders coming from places far away, sent like in the days of the British Raj, as the Brits tried to rule India.

In a changing world, we would all become indifferent with this kind of leadership model. The indifferent model, not looking. At the invasive technology, collecting vast amounts of information. THIS was the new paradigm that was destroying institutions. Detachment! We had lost the local leader, who could make a difference here. There no longer was the local guy/gal who could identify with the world, with us and all of our problems, to spend some coins to stay afresh.  Instead with their leveraged buy-outs, the corporate raiders of the 1980s had displaced the loyal CEO who employees knew and identified with. How the world had changed. In 1982, the average CEO made 42 times more than more than the average worker.  In 1990, CEOs made about 107 times more than the average worker. In 2001, the ratio of CEO compensation to the average pay of a production (i.e., non-management) worker pay hit a peak of 525-to-1.  According to “Executive Excess,” an annual report released by a liberal research groups United for a Fair Economy and the Institute for Policy Studies, in 2004, the ratio of average CEO pay to the was 431-to-1.  We had reached the point where the chief executive of a Standard & Poor’s 500 company made on average $14.2 million in total compensation in 2007.

This was the world that did not appeal to the young. Indifferent, they did not buy the paper. It never had been locally owned anyway, in their lifetime. The newspaper was like a stranger starving in a 3rd world country. And most of us went about our daily life not conscious of their plight. I did not seem to be made in he image of the homeless. And nobody gawked at the problems of the newspapers.

This sense of belonging: In New York, the Mets acquired a relief pitcher from the Washington Nationals this week. Luis Ayala said that coming into this Mets’ clubhouse Monday reminded him of his first day in the major leagues when he first wore a Montreal Expos uniform. He had played with 5 of these guys before. It was all about a sense of belonging. Of identity. He broke into baseball with Montreal in 2003 and major league baseball purchased the team and moved the Expos to Washington in 2005. He had just gone from worst to first. In an era when baseball was now managed by MBAs and Ivy leaguers. With less loyalties and greater salaries. This pitcher was reflecting the new paradigm of the baseball world which followed leveraged buyouts. Where the performers were paid sums which averaged more than $2 million per year. Even Luis Ayala. Because the current owners somehow saw their own self-image in these ballplayers. Those CEOs who lived in their own fantasy camps.

Deciding to gawk or not wanting to look? Looking around for the familiar, when your CEO hadd not grown up within your company. And there was a misssing personal identity that seemed to affect elections and the funding of elections. Yes, a magazine, a newspaper offered a good story, often by good writers. The indifferent choose not to look at the world. Not too closely. So in this new world order with gigabyte speed, as more and more of us live in a paper-less (if not quite paperless) world, there would be less gawking, less delays. Where no one had time to look too closely. The new paradigm, about ourselves, was all about the loss of identity. As those in authority had all the technology to engage in covert round-the-clock surveillance through cellphones and global positioning systems. Over an extended period of time.

Identity theft. For the young who had hair, there was a need to do something with it. And there would always be, with this time thing, a need for haircuts. I now needed one, in order to still be identified by those who knew me, except for all the detachment…. of my hair.

Hair. Dust bunnies. Or BALD? A civil world, with no paper trail. A world with less caring. A lost sense of place. A lost sense of belonging to a bigger world. The unrecognized loss of liberty, with hair loss! And no local paper.

#Mark Halperin

Electoral College: Welcome Week

It was another Olympic year. And as one Olympics were ending, another was getting into shape.

There was a real irony that it was the united South that has been deciding elections for the last 40 years.

The South was once solid for the Democrats, until the votes over civil rights legislation in the 1960s. The facts are, neither John Kerry nor Al Gore won a single southern state in the electoral college in the last two elections. The way those Florida chads were counted. In the 1960s the Republican Party began to make inroads in the South after the Grand Old Party had suffered from its identification with Lincoln and the freeing of the slaves.

Through the time of Lyndon Johnson, the Democrats controlled all the levels of power during the Jim Crow years. Johnson got behind the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when it was ensnarled in Congress. As a result of his support over the issue of civil rights, George Wallace entered the presidential contest and the once solid Democratic Party of the South had lost their base of support, for the most part, ever since.

The South was defined to be the eleven states of the Confederacy. The Republican Party began to make inroads in 1968 and in 1972, with Wallace out of the picture. In 1968, Nixon won in the border South and Florida, Humphrey carried Texas but lost the rest of the South, with Wallace taking Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas. Jimmy Carter appealed to regional pride to put the South back in the Democrat’s column in 1976, but lost (narrowly) all but his home state of Georgia in 1980. Bill Clinton won with the regional pride of Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Tennessee and Kentucky voters in 1992 and 1996, with Georgia in 1992 and Florida in 1996. Little research was required with the abysmal failure of Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis, in the electoral college.

It was the united South that was of interest. Journalists with no understanding of religion failed to understand that the principal purpose of religion was to unite people. Religion and politics had the same fundamental purpose, and that was formulating a common belief in purpose.

As the New Deal made sense to Catholics, especially the ethnic working-class Catholics, with their extended families in urban neighborhoods. Their lives centered around parish and school. Catholics had their own diocese newspaper, entertainment, and feast days. Assimilated into American culture and democracy, by participating in local politics and unions this was how Catholics came to understand rights and responsibilities of citizenship.

Many non-Catholics remained prejudiced against Catholics in 1960 because of their “strange” religious practices. In those days, Catholics never ate meat on Fridays. It was a communal thing. There was no real dogma in fish, even though some saw a theology in Starkist’s Charlie the Tuna, who was never quite good enough. It was pre-Vatican II as ethnic America still lived mostly in the cities, and maybe Charlie really was a Protestant.

That anti-Catholic prejudice would affect the 1960 election. If you missed it, John F. Kennedy and his lovely wife were Catholic. In his run for president, to address those concerns, Kennedy attempted to make his religion inconsequential to his qualifications during his famous Sept. 12, 1960, speech to the Houston Ministerial Association:

“I am not the Catholic candidate for President. I am the Democratic Party’s candidate for President who happens also to be a Catholic.”

Quoting from Olga Bonfiglio book review of Michael Sean Winter’s Left at the Altar, “Kennedy argued for a ‘privacy of faith,’” which attempted to distinguish between his ‘religion problem’ and the ‘real issues.’ In doing so, he misconstrued the nature of religion, says Michael Sean Winters,” and made a critical shift away from the fundamental basis of any faith which is to unite people. And in a way little understood, the torch was passed to a new generation.

Quoting from ideas of Michael Sean Winters, the issues of the 1960s turned out to be civil rights and the Vietnam War; in the 1970s, it was abortion and consumerism. Americans wanted to debate issues on moral grounds. It was Whip Inflation Now, meat prices, oil boycotts. To quote the theologian, Yogi Berra, “Déjà vu all over again.” Religion was thrust into the center of every election.

The abortion issue of the 1970s separated Catholics and the Democrats. Using the same Kennedy’s “privacy” doctrine to justify their position, liberals responded by being more strident in defending Roe v. Wade. And followers of Catholic moral philosophy struggled with their conscious to vote for any Democrat. Gradually becoming disaffected by the “liberal” politics the Democrats had represented, the Democrats split the Catholic vote.

At the same time, writes Michael Sean Winters, in the 1960s, 70s, and 80’s, immigrant families fled ethnic neighborhood and parishes for suburban life, ‘where they adopted ‘new secular and commercial identities’ that further separated them from their church—and the Democrats.”

And as the Democrats appeared to be irreligious, the Republicans began to look like the party of God, appealing to followers of the born-again evangelical movement.

Where at one time there was discussion of the Catholic vote, in the new millennium the focus was on the evangelicals. And on megachurches.

These megachurches function in the contemporary suburbs in very much the same way the Catholic parish functioned in the urban ethnic ghettos of the early 20th century had. Quoting from ideas of Michael Sean Winters, if ethnic immigrants faced the alienation that came from leaving their homelands to come to America, today’s suburbanites suffer the alienation that contemporary consumerism breeds.

Like the ethnic parish of old or the Jewish synagogue, the megachurch of today creates a subculture with bookstores, schools, day care, and a network of small groups for teens, for college students, for Moms, that meet weekly to discuss how their faith has impacted their daily lives. The bookstores sell books extolling a devotional approach from child-rearing to finance. Megachurches create a humane world for people whose sense of their own humanity has been uprooted by contemporary culture and its economic imperatives. And social texture grows out of its religious ground.

As Democrats ignored those Americans Catholics who tried to be deeply religious, Democrats appeared to be irreligious and the Republicans began to look like “God’s Party,” relying on the evangelical vote.

So it was the days of another election. And it would once again be about the South. Really since the days of Thomas Jefferson, it always had been about the South. Slave or free states. Was the abortion debate really about ‘privacy of faith?’ Was the abortion debate the foundation of moral relativism in modern American culture? Was the abortion debate about a policy of states’ rights versus federal rights in another age? The real irony in all of this united South was that the South which has been deciding elections for the last 40 years was made up of children of slave-owners and slaves who never had come to grips with the dysfunction of this history. And the results of the dysfunction of this history, over slavery, over abortion, were guiding the sails of the ship of American history which has led us to Iraq and Afghanistan.

All the while, in light of the tenets of Washington’s Farewell Address, I question the foundation for the mission overseas which has jeopardized the ideals of the constitution. And it was religion that had given the jib of the sails to what would happen once again down South. We were still all sons and daughters of slaves and slave owners, dealing with the past. And dealing with the still solid South.


Religion and politics had the same fundamental purpose, and that was formulating a common belief in purpose. And journalists with no clear understanding of religion failed to understand that the principal purpose of both was to unite people.

When the News Came on Ticker Tape


Modern culture is all about the instant.  That is the effect of the computer.  It used to be just about the weather—be alert in the instant to survive.  Now we needed cell phones which came with headlines and cameras. 


It was the world of computers, with the modern ticker running not in newsrooms but in homes and offices.  The instant.  Looking for something to happen.  Stress is defined as a symptom of not wanting to be in the moment we are in. 


It was the instant gratification world.  I had an unnecesary degree of stress caused by technology.  And I worried about this generation of youth entering the job market. Technology was turning from being one of entertainment to the enemy.  It would destroy them.  Business e-mails.   There was one day that at day’s end I had 25 to read, with 55 voicemails to go through, after working for ten hours.


I was feeling pessimistic these days, in a lifetime filled previously with optimism.  I had heard Eckhart Tolle on the radio.  He is the author of “The Power of Now.”  He is the one who noted stress is a symptom of not wanting to be in the moment we are in. 


Technology was causing stress.  There was an inability to separate our private lives from that of our jobs.  If stress was a symptom of not wanting to be in the moment we were in, how could I keep a demarcation line? 


Technology would destroy me.  How could I separate the world of entertainment, a private life,  and how could I separate this from the business world that encroached upon my freedoms in the world of computers?  With globalization, there was always something happening.  And a lot of people were gawkers, looking for the next happening.  And in the meantime, there was a lot of productive time lost in the office, as people gawked on company time.  And it also happened on the weekends in private lives. 


The instant.  Instant stress.   GAWKERS and gawking.  In Chicago, the term used was GAPERS.  A car crash and most people looked.  A gapers’ delay ensued.  And it happened  a lot on the internet highway.  Where was my productivity?   


In this high tech world, people were not as well read, in the classics.  Would this one day affect the human spirit.  Government and academic leaders?   Religious leaders, if any would be left? 


The written word is written in the present and soon becomes the past.  Read and be changed.  But that axiom was changing.   


People who relied on technology were boring.  We were all becoming geeks and nerds.  And technology in the end alienated us, if not from each other, from some kind of inner spirit.  Unquenched thirst.  


Movement.  There was less real movement in this world.  Live-in lovers.  Stirred by what?  Love?  Belonging? 


The instants.  Ticking. 

The Sound Bytes of Crickets



Was it politics or religion that was the opium of the masses?

The continental divide:  what was its meaning in a land situated between 2 different oceans?  If this divide was a border between two watersheds so water on one side of the line flowed to one ocean, water on the other side went to the other ocean, how could the divide be in Montana?   

Crickets and their meaning:  In the waning days of summer, crickets were back.  It was not that school was just 2 weeks away.  Rather it meant that crickets were restless, looking for mates.  At night.  A lot like people.  In August, I  wanted to be outside, moving in the waning days of summer.  I wanted to act, not contemplate. 


Politics.  In the waning days of The Bushes and The Clintons.  Politics was now all a show. There were millions of dollars pumped in to elect someone.  Politics was a machineA dog and pony show, with actors.  This year because it just goes on and on, with those never ending commercials, I see politics as filling an emptiness.  As people went in search of true ideals, was this on earth, the substitute, to fill the void?  Hire someone to write speeches.  As one candidate approached about running for the Minnesota House of Representative was told, “We’ll tell you how to vote.”  Surrounded by beauty, we all loved an illusion.  Hire a model.   The promise never seemed fulfilled. 


Media focus in the past on the labor vote, the Catholic vote, the gun vote, has led me to miss the power of the born again in recent American presidential elections. “The Bushes and Clintons have dominated modern American public life for twenty years because they have embraced the born again and understood them,” wrote a Republican operative, Doug Wead, on his website.  But like the continental divide, was there any real difference? 


Politics.  Religion.  My grandmother once told me never to talk about politics or religion to people outside family.  Was it media ignorance or just this old time etiquette that had led the different media to shy away from the talk of religion with politics?  I always seemed to hear a lot of analysis of the “Catholic vote” since the days that John Kennedy was elected.  No one analyzed how the Swedes of Minnesota, Lutherans, felt about anyone candidate.  As if they were of one mind.  It would seem that it had been the evangelical vote all along and nothing else that determined which way the nation would lean.  But how did those evangelical pastors keep all those people together?  Why did they not learn to think for themselves?  Or was this the union we were all searching for? 

Was it just about the sounds of the season.  Promise unfilled?  Like those crickets, we were all in search of a co-star.  Wanting to act.  Looking for mates.  Looking for unity, union.  Looking for meaning from the seasons.  In the dark. 


I never believed a change in water flow acted differently on the other side of the continental divide.  They said the same thing in grade school about the equator and its affect on water flow.  Mostly, in the light of day, things always looked the same to me.  But I have yet to get the chance to flush a toilet on the other side to test what was the truth. 


A Piece of History

It is interesting to go in search of the speech by Theresa Kane that was controversial in its day, when John Paul II came to the United States for the first time as Pope.  The tensions within the church have only grown greater since that day in October 1979:

“In the name of the women religious gathered in this Shrine dedicated to Mary, I greet you, Your Holiness Pope John Paul II. It is an honor, a privilege and an awesome responsibility to express in a few moments the sentiments of women present at this shrine dedicated to Mary the Patroness of the United States and the Mother of all humankind. It is appropriate that a woman’s voice be heard in this shrine and I call upon Mary to direct what is in my heart and on my lips during these moments of greeting.

“I welcome you sincerely; I extend greetings of profound respect, esteem and affection from women religious throughout this country. With the sentiments experienced by Elizabeth when visited by Mary, our hearts too leap with joy as we welcome you — you who have been called the Pope of the people.

“As I welcome you today, I am mindful of the countless number of women religious who have dedicated their lives to the church in this country in the past. The lives of many valiant women who were the catalysts of growth for the United States Church continue to serve as heroines of inspiration to us as we too struggle to be women of courage and hope during these times.

“Women religious in the United States entered into the renewal efforts in an obedient response to the call of Vatican II. We have experienced both joy and suffering in our efforts. As a result of such renewal women religious approach the next decade with a renewed identity and a deep sense of our responsibilities to, with and in the church.

“Your Holiness, the women of this country have been inspired by your spirit of courage. We thank you for exemplifying such courage in speaking to us so directly about our responsibilities to the poor and oppressed throughout the world. We who live in the United States, one of the wealthiest nations of the earth, need to become ever more conscious of the suffering that is present among so many of our brothers and sisters, recognizing that systemic injustices are serious moral and social issues that need to be confronted courageously. We pledge ourselves in solidarity with you in your efforts to respond to the cry of the poor.

“As I share this privileged moment with you, Your Holiness, I urge you to be mindful of the intense suffering and pain which is part of the life of many women in these United States. I call upon you to listen with compassion and to hear the call of women who comprise half of humankind. As women we have heard the powerful messages of our Church addressing the dignity and reverence for all persons. As women we have pondered upon these words. Our contemplation leads us to state that the Church in its struggle to be faithful to its call for reverence and dignity for all persons must respond by providing the possibility of women as persons being included in all ministries of our Church. I urge you, Your Holiness, to be open to and respond to the voices coming from the women of this country who are desirous of serving in and through the Church as fully participating members.

“Finally, I assure you, Pope John Paul, of the prayers, support and fidelity of the women religious in this country as you continue to challenge us to be women of holiness for the sake of the Kingdom. With these few words from the joyous, hope-filled prayer, the Magnificat, we call upon Mary to be your continued source of inspiration, courage and hope: ‘May your whole being proclaim and magnify the Lord; may your spirit always rejoice in God your Savior; the Lord who is mighty has done great things for you; Holy is God’s Name.’ “

WATER (Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics, and Ritual)

Male Patterned


Skip Caray died last week.  He was the epitome of an announcer worth listening to.  In Minnesota we have not had a baseball announcer like that since the 2006 baseball season, on television or radio.  Whomever Skip was announcing with, no matter what the score, the game was a joy to share.  He was someone I would invite into my home for his insights.  And he made his partners seem like Hall of Famers.  Skip was Harry Caray’s son.  Skip was also in touch with the current world of baseball and knew the connection to the tradition.  I lived in Chicago when Harry was broadcasting there but for me Skip brought insight to the game that I never heard from his father. 

I used to think leadership was about finding someone whose philosophy was well grounded.  I used to think leadership was about someone who was normal and likeable.  Whether it was a baseball announcer or a clergyman or a politician, I was in search of someone worth listening to.  Or who I thought was.

On Sunday I was in a golf tournament with my 69-year old aunt.  She is a former nun.  Her habit has been shed for close to 40 years.  I am using the age of her 37-year-old daughter as a frame of reference.  She was educated after high school with a class of 46 nuns.  She told me 40 of those nuns recently gathered.   Over time, six had died.  I asked of the 46 classmates, how many had remained nuns their entire life.  The answer was 6. 

That was a pretty good barometer how women felt about male leadership in the Roman Catholic Church.  Guys with miters are not particularly any more inclusive in leadership decisions today than they were before woman had the right to vote.  And the statistics would seem to suggest there is a polarization of woman which has continued.  The wonder is that women, half the Catholic world, still care about their church that preached that the Truth would set them free and taught the importance of freedom of religion for all people as a basic human right.

Acceptance is a basic quest of all people.  In 1979, Theresa Kane, then-president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and a Sister of Mercy, was at the official welcome ceremony in Washington, D.C., and addressed Pope John Paul asking that women be included as equal members of this Church.  She was denied a conversation with Pope John Paul II in her official capacity.  The Pope generally does not answer questions.  My mind carries a televised image of conflict that occurrred  when John Paul II made his first papal trip to the United States which seems very much alive.  Since he later came to Iowa, I recall almost every moment being carried on Iowa Public Televison.   


Power generally was always kept in the hands of the rich, of the educatedNatural law is a theory that posits the existence of a law whose content is set by nature and which therefore has validity everywhere.  It would seem that validity would involve both men and women.  Joseph Flavius in the 1st century understood theocracy as a fourth form of government in which only God and his law is sovereign.  As in the stories of Genesis, man has always had trouble passing on the tradition, of sharing the accumulation of wealth, of culture.  The stories of Isaac and his son Jacob reflected the basic human condition.  Rebekah hatched a scheme with her son in the days of primogenitor that Jacob might be the one to inherit the culture, the power found in the tradition.   


How had civilization progressed beyond those times?  The temporal power of Rome and the power structure had changed very little over the years, and was not much different that the world of religious fundamentalism.  That was the conflict with the modern world, a world seemingly more free.   


One scientist discovered over time that male pattern baldness came from the mother’s side of the family.  I meant to determine if he was a product of a Catholic education.  It must have taken some creativity to finally arrive at that conclusion.  


In the meantime I was saying a prayer for Skip Caray, and for the current world that we might find more leaders in touch with the current world, who knew that connection to the tradition.   




Having Relations

I talked to 2 girls yesterday at a family picnic.  They were daughters of my first cousin.  One girl was 11 and the other 18.  The 11-year old announced they were half-sisters.  I had always been afraid to ask the question of paternity.  I certainly knew my cousin had never married. 

The morning after, it dawned on me that neither girl had first cousins.  The children of a single mom not only were missing a father, but they were missing the extended family.  I had 38 first cousins on this side of the family.  From the sounds of it, the 18-year old does not know much of anything about the other side of her family.  She was starting her senior year and was particularly articulate.  But she rattled off how many schools she had attended in just the past 4 years.  It was 4. 

She was honest and forthcoming, and had her act together.  Her mother never did.  Her mother, who could have been a model, was not at the picnic.  I would have liked to have seen her mother.  Her mother never had seemed connected to much.  Not even to her parents, except when she needed money.  The struggle of all of us was to be connected.  David Popenoe is an author of a 1996 book Life without Father whose research showed that 70 percent of long-term prison inmates are fatherless and 60 percent of America’s rapists came from fatherless homes.  It would seem as a corollary rule to his research that a hostility developed among those who were not connected, through no fault of their own. 

I grew up rather privileged in my community.  As one example, my father had a parking pass at the airport.  He had no association with the airport commission or an airline.  But so much of life was about knowing somebody. 

Life was all about relationships.  Even the individual relationship I did or did not have with God.  I did not particularly care to hear someone publicly talk about God without a theological background.  Those with academic backgrounds with doctorates in theology seemed to build off that to come to their own understanding of God.  Some liberal, some conservative.  That was the conflict between Catholics and evangelicals.  And actually, this was the conflict with the one billion Catholics amongst ourselves.  The Anglicans had the same pains.  And I was educated through the age of 22 by those with doctorates in moral theology.  They had had an impact.  They had taken time with a stranger to share their knowledge.  And there was nothing in it for them. 

Politics and religion.   Who was liberal, who was conservative within a religion?  It was the same conflict as in politics.  Politics and religion were so much alike, in the way of likes and dislikes.  But the real relationship that came out of religion was focused on prayer.  Who were the Chosen People of today? Conservatives.  Liberals.  Ultimately, it was about your response, what you did with it all.  It was about the depth of your relationships. So much of life was about knowing Somebody, and if it worked out right it grew into true intimacy. 



>English speaking Catholics are going to have to learn all over to to pray. With the release of the news of the revised Order the Mass, I have only a question. WHY? As if there was something wrong with the way I have been praying for at least the last 35 years. And if there was, through Paul VI, John Paul I, and John Paul II, why are you waiting until 2011 to implement the changes. If the American bishops have not earned enough contempt from faithful Catholics, with their management of the sex abuse matters and the financial settlements, wait for the reaction when the public sees the revisions of what is the heart of the worship. Here comes news of the release of the BINDING revised Order the Mass by the US Conference of Bishops which, based on the cited date in the news release, has been with held for two years. Here comes news of what the changes mean, in this copywrited document.  


In 2011 the Mass was changing as some kind of nostalgia from Rome for the old ways, as if the old ways, like old wine in new wineskins, would work to bring the youth back into the fold.

Ah the beauty of the language. Read the iambic pentameter of the USCCB announcement of the revisions: “Recently the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops was granted the recognitio for the new English–language translation of significant parts of the Ordo Missae as found in the Missale Romanum, editio typica tertia, including most of those texts used in every celebration of the Holy Mass. The recognitio was granted in response to the request of the USCCB by Bishop William Skylstad, then President of the Conference, who informed Francis Cardinal Arinze, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, in a letter dated July 29, 2006, that we, the Latin Church Bishops of the USCCB, approved the translation of the Ordo Missae at its plenary meeting on June 15, 2006.”

Shear poetry! The Pope has decided to concentrate not on evangelizing to the people not in church, but to those of us who were. Someone in Rome apparently did not like the sound of English prayers. Someone in charge of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. Apparently, Francis Cardinal Arinze has not noticed how fewer Italians were showing up for Mass to pray in Italian. Or Belgians failing to show up for Mass to pray in one of their three languages. Or Germans. I wonder if anyone considered how it was that God liked the sounds of our prayers?

In this changing world, I thought of the indifference of youth. Indifference to religion, to God? How the world had changed with these kids had grown up in the 401K world, the era of leveraged buyouts, hedge funds. Leadership everywhere had been from afar throughout all of their lives. Local bishops now grew up far away, sent here now just as in the days of the British Raj, as the Brits tried to rule India. Corporations were now owned by shareholders from everywhere and in St. Paul, Minnesota this was 3M, the Travelers, Wells Fargo, US Bank, Ecolab.

(POST SCRIPT, on November 21, 2008 to the Guys With Miters)

In June 2008, arguing that the new translation of prayers and other texts for the Mass is too awkward to be proclaimed effectively in parishes in the United States, Auxiliary Bishop of Milwaukee, Richard Sklba, said. “If I have trouble understanding the text when I read it, I wonder how it’s going to be possible to pray with it in the context of worship.” Donald Trautman, Bishop of Erie, used the example of the translation of the Latin “patibulum,” to translate the English “gibbet” as jut one oddity in the new text. In the end, The International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL), the translation body responsible for the Proper of Seasons, failed to gain a two-thirds vote from the bishops to approve the Proper of Seasons in Orlando. The collegiality of the Holy Sea however was missing when it came to the revision in the Order the Mass which was BINDING.

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