Archive for December, 2009|Monthly archive page

Culture Shock

The old paradigms were unraveling. The pre-recorded world was not working like it had been. The business model in the music industry, with the advent of MP3 and Napster, did not work. Even with the lawsuits. And now the local stations which carry the networks’ programming. After the ongoing collapse of the newspaper business. ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox did not really understand the younger generation.

It was a matter of the relevant, in creating a culture. There was a battle over whether life was serious. In what had become the entertainment industry. The entertainment industry had taken over the news division.

The pursuit of happiness. Of iPods. Of reaching youth. Of the bytes of Apple. Within the music industry.

The old paradigms were unraveling. Over doubt. About the world of media. Over the truth. Over the definition of happiness and entertainment?
As presented by ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox?

The old paradigms were unraveling. Apple. It was the same thing that got Adam in trouble. With Eve.

I had not given enough thought to the graduation gift, but I gave a new college graduate an iPod as a gift. Whatever it symbolized. About the old paradigms unraveling? My world? And whether she had learned whatever it was that should be downloaded to replace it.



Those Christmas gifts. Who am I to have this. All of this? Those Christmas gifts.

Boxing day. The inner battles.

On a day when many were returning their gifts for something that seemed to fit them better….I went to bed reading one of the last pieces that John Updike wrote for publication in his life. About the process of writing. With an atypical use of language. The Best American Essays 2009. Edited by Mary Oliver.

The desire to do great things. Mary Oliver, the poet. The Gregory Orr piece, in this collection. Return to Hayneville.The Best American Essays 2009.

My uncle Frank. His December 23rd heart attack. The Orr piece was about a real time in his life. He had gone, just as Gregory Orr, to the American South. About 1963. It could have been him in the story (linked below). Only he was not arrested and held by police.

Uncle Frank. And his phone call today to his sister on Boxing Day. About the inner battles over the desires to do great things. The family stress. About whether he was traveling in January. To Ireland. On a day where there was a terrible ice storm in Ireland, he had figured out that he too could go nowhere. Like the Irish he would be homebound for a while. His call to his sister asked about a Christmas party he had missed today. When his brothers, sisters, nieces and nephew found out that they were not included on this journey, and who was mad at whom that they were not invited.

After your dad died, it might be
normal to be angry. When your mother took on a new role. Frank still had a few issues. With his siblings. I was to have been with him in Ireland for one week, in January. Depending on his recovery. His new defibulator was working to record his inner struggle, like some kind of seismograph.

The desire to do great things. and the “how.” Those inner battles.

About the desire to do great things. A classmate named Jorge. After recovery. And the “how.” To go on. The practicality of the inner battles. After two failed recoveries. His high profile failed business, leading the news on December 23rd. In my town.

In half the world, over shadowed by the Christian holiday Christmas, officially summer seemingly began this week. In her poem, “A Summer’s Day,” Mary Oliver states the question: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

The billions of dollars saved by corporations annually from gift cards and gift certificates that expire unredeemed. The sort of thinking that motivates me to put the gift card away in the drawer, expecting to find the right item more in the future. A lot like my first love, Connie K_____. Time, like it would all fit better soon. The gift of love, not on a card, but still when I had the time. When she would fit better. The inner battles. I had lost that one.

Boxing day. And that manger. The smells that surrounded the manger, of the wickedness of the animal world. The smell everywhere. There was no way the parents could rid the manger of the animals smells. A good things there were not gift cards, in those days. When the manger might fit better, with a proper timing. When it would fit better, when people, when I, found the time. Or when the world might seem to smell better.

“What are you gonna do with your one precision life?” Boxing day. The inner battles. About proper fits. And proper smells. In transition. I discovered the book The Blessing by Gregory Orr in my bookcase, further explaining a real time in his life. Looking for understanding, about proper fits in these times.

At year’s end, I was in a sense in recovery. Deciding where I would go. With my work.

Boxing Day. The inner battles, wen you can have anything. Boxing Day really had no affect on the use of gift cards? Or did it?

With time as a factor, those Christmas gifts. Boxing Day and those Christmas gifts, and what fit me. Deciding what I would do next, with my work. With an atypical use of gift cards, as if there was no deadline.

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The Hallelujah Chorus

F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote about a couple of kids from Saint Paul. Basil and Josephine. One hundred years late, I lived in his neighborhood. The stories in this setting seemed very real, amidst the Victorian mansions out the window. I had an excitement in reading his stories. Stories which in Minnesota were so near.

Summit Xmas There was a realness of the story of Basil and Josephine. About the promise. In good times. Stories about wealth. By this writer of the Lost Generation. The lost wealth in the gravity ridden world of the Promise of the 1920s.

Isaac Newton, in Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, investigated the motion of many physical objects, within the solar system. Newton’s first law is called the law of inertia. Me and 2009. In this economy, it was not so bad. The laws of gravity often cause crashes. From a risk management perspective, I have been safe. A moving object will not change its velocity until a net force acts upon it.

Net forces. It was 16 years ago. I passed a Bosnian woman in Munich, a refugee who had escaped war torn Yugoslavia in 1993. I gave her some change. She was not happy with my donation. More recently, a young woman in the Philippines who wanted to be home at Christmas asked for $100. A hundred dollars! The human response was to ignore such a request, especially when you could not do anything of significance. There were just too many people claiming need. The internal stress. So many refugees. Too many needs. So many wars.

Aristotle had taught that heavy objects like rocks wanted to be at rest on the Earth. Galileo’s rock philosophy was that force acting on a body determines acceleration, not velocity. Using Galileo’s rock philosophy, Isaac Newton had come up with his first law: the law of inertia where no force means no acceleration, and hence the body will maintain its velocity. Newton’s second law was that a force applied to a body produces a proportional acceleration. Or more simply, an object that is not moving will not move until a force acts upon it. It was curling season, and I subscribed to this rock philosophy. “To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” In this war torn economy. In real estate. On Wall Street, this seemed to address why one day those indexes were up. A moving object will not change its velocity until a net force acts upon it. Buyers looking for sellers.

Newton’s third law was the law of reciprocal actions. Newton described 329 years ago a relationship between the forces acting on a body and the motion of that body. Was this Newton’ view on his own marriage? F and -F are equal in magnitude and opposite in direction. Newton explained whenever a first body exerts a force F on a second body, the second body exerts a force -F on the first body.

Brute force. The physics within the solar system. Today. Centrifugal force and gravity. Where was the world moving? About force, momentum, and position. Me and planetary motion. This is it. My position, in real events, with human life. The conversation back and forth – the questioning from the Judaic culture, in the search for answers. The questioning of God, in prayer. The Messianic Secret. To keep people in mystery, not understanding identities and what is going on. Yet, the excitement.

The physics. About the excitement in the physics at work in my life. Inside forces. Outside forces. With established frames of reference. There is a spiritual physics connected to Kepler’s laws of planetary motion. About force, momentum, and position. When an imposed force applied to a body produced a proportional acceleration.

Prayer and the spiritual physics:  Have you even been considered to have been in a position of power? When someone thought you could do something to help them? Someone who might not have been taught the the law of inertia. Even when there was no reason to give money to a stranger on the street. When you had no way to know how your philanthropy would be spent. When you never knew what was inside the person asking – but some times guessed.

As if I had enough money – or power – to help every passer-by who asked. SumitXmas2

To believe that I can still change the world. The excitement, in the season of excitement over the mystery. Not much older than Basil and Josephine, I had met a Filipina this week who was a bus trip away from home. Only she was real. She was 18, and she could not afford the twenty-five dollars to make the trip for Christmas. Her father had died within the previous 11 months. Yesterday, I gave her the twenty-five dollars to get home. She was stunned.

Christmas. Most of us absolutely desired relationships that stirred something from within. Those gifts within that most people had not figured out yet what was inside.

Real events. Amid all the stresses, there is the gift of human life. Amid all of the stress of those with whom we shared intimacy. Somewhere inside…there is proportional acceleration from holiness. With a spiritual physics, that these people were holy — or tried to be. The attempt to find some holiness, even if for a short time.

When the practice is over. About Handel’s Messiah. Real significance came when The Hallelujah Chorus was sung with a reverence by those human voices sounding so divine to an audience that had the same reverence for the meaning. The excitement was now, with others who had somehow in this world shared the same purpose in the Hallelujah Chorus. For people most dear to me. To those with whom I shared belief – that my life in the gravity ridden world has significance.

In the world outside my window, I found an excitement in the law of reciprocal actions, in an accelerated propulsion from holiness toward other people who had somehow in this world found the same meaning – that these people tried to be holy, even for a short time. When so many people, like heavy objects, like rocks, wanted to be at rest. Amidst all of the stresses out there over relationships, the mystery while undergoing an equal change based upon the law of reciprocal actions. The law of motion combined with the law of universal gravitation affected real human lives, communally in the Hallelujah Chorus, but also somewhere inside. In this whodunnit, slowly unwrapped at this time of year.

The realness, not sensed from an artificial intelligence, like on the internet or on television. The impact amidst all the stresses humbly affecting human lives, in this shared intimacy. Newton showed how laws of motion, combined with his law of universal gravitation affected real events, when heavy objects like rocks –or like me — wanted to be at rest. The excitement amidst all the stresses in this setting from those with whom we shared intimacy was in this story. Yes, the excitement was now.

Merry Christmas from Saint Paul, Minnesota.

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Now It Came to Pass….

Recognizing deadlines. The realness of the story. The humanness of deadlines. Of starts. Of finishes. In my battle with time.

Human wants. Human needs. Divine desires. The divine need . . . to share something. For others.

The realness of the story. As in any relationship, the sacrifice. The engaging with the world. In the FINITE world. With corruption. There had to be conflict. Any time the human comes in contact with the divine, there had to be conflict.

Conflict in old stories. The old stories about hunger and about fertility of the land. Stories about drought and famine, families and fertility, fighting for survival on a very personal level. From generation to generation, “Mostly they are the same lives. The same stories, over and over,” wrote David Remnick, the editor of The New Yorker. Remnick had chronicled as a reporter for the Washington Post what had happened in Russia during the collapse of the Soviet Empire, along with the collapse of its currency. Real life stories where it was always the hunger which sent people in one way or another in search. With ruthless governments demanding documents of people, concerning where they were born and how long they intended to stay. If they survived.

It was either my teacher in first grade or second grade, a nun, who read us the story: “In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.” And so the story began. In one interpretation . . . The International interpretation. There were other interpretations.

The King James version. “And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.” It sounded a lot about money.

The English standard version. “In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.” This was like some kind of rite for selective service.

The American version was “Now it came to pass in those days, there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be enrolled.” So much like early childhood development.

The Bible in basic English. “Now it came about in those days that an order went out from Caesar Augustus that there was to be a numbering of all the world.” It sounded like the Noah version. Where Noah went looking for mates for each species. Sex mates. The basics, before the annihilation, with the destruction of the earth, with the conflict in the story about the loss of innocent children (babies?) in what was an extermination of evil.

I never thought about the sex part of life –or the virgin birth. Not in the first or second grade . . . Even though the songs made a big deal about it. I did not recognize any miracle in a virgin birth. I was more concerned about the decree. In those days. I think the decree was emphasized to throw the first and second grade kids off. In those days, no one knew what exactly the virgin birth was.

Births. Though the sex part of life was the reason why I was here. There was a connection of course between sex and birth. Those questions, about the order of birth — who might get the birth right — were left for another day. The Who? The what? The when? The where? And the how, in what was the underlying relationship which came out of fertility, which was the basis of the registration?

The decree. Under the authority from the leader. There went out a decree, because a certain amount of order was needed, to maintain the law? To enamor a sense of loyalty, from the people? Or to figure out, for the ruling authority, how many humans there were? With a local connection, to real lives.

How can you govern, if you did not KNOW who you were governing? And so the story about being counted on this earth. By the authorities. In a story about identities. To be unknown, in a census, was to be left without an identity card? Not to be recognized. Ask the Hispanic cleaning lady what that was like. About just one of the rules implemented addressing the “how.” To become human.

And so the story that started about enrollment, registration, numbering? About empires of Rome. About what you did? With whom. When you did it? And where? But with little concern about the “how?” Where in this Promise Land – this Holy Land – was God in this census?

And about virgin births. In the middle of the numbering. How many even knew?

Amidst this Roman decree – the decree by a governmental body. Always and everywhere, government and power. Over people’s lives. Death and taxes. Starts. Finishes. To be recognized. And births. It all seemed a part of the Christmas story, in the middle of nowhere. In Bethlehem. And God wanting to be counted, but not recognized. Wanting to change the world and not be known? When the Greatest Commandment in the Promise Land was to KNOW God. Somehow.

To teach and explain how to read carefully to young students who demanded relevancy in everything? In a story about starts, which began with a birth. And a virgin birth. The tribes and their numbers all seemed a part of the Christmas story, which started with the decree. About either enrollment, registration, or numbering. The book of ‘Bemidbar,’ Numbers of the Hebrew Bible, opens with a population census of the tribes of Israel, as one by one, the Torah lists in a seemingly standard, run-of-the-mill census, the tribes and their numbers — were it not for the one aberration, as one tribe is missing from the census. The absence of the tribe of Levy with a special status, is of course not an oversight, but one of the commandments of God. Levites do not dwell with other tribes but live as an independent unit around the Tabernacle, to guard the sanctuary, with their special functions relating to the care of the ‘mishkan.’ The Levites therefore are, according to the Rashbam, incapable of going to wage war. So the purpose of the census taken, in the Book of Numbers, was to determine the number of troops in the Israelite camp. Therefore, not included in the military census, the tribe of Levi replaced the first-born — the children consecrated by God — of every Israelite family.

So, the tribes and their numbers, and the decree. And it came to pass – the what. In those days – the when. That all the world – with a local connection, for the where. To teach and explain  an interpretation. . . . or a viewpoint, to the young who demanded relevancy. To teach and explain about character, point of view, in order that a viewpoint of the reader might change. That the reader might be changed.

The story about the decree. Based upon a sense of authority, about either enrollment, registration, or numbering. To create in all of the known world, a sense of order for the tribes and their numbers. In a story about power and the power which came from the blessed bond, as ruthless governments demanded documents of people, concerning where they were born and how long they intended to stay. If they survived. To expand the Promised Land, to compete in the future – in love, with the quite personal bond – against the brutality of the Romans, who were Nazi-like in their day. So to expand the bonds – all the old themes, with the new ones – in what was going on at that point in time, in the Promised Land . . . and beyond. In this story about another firstborn son.

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Those Christmas Cards

In the air.

There was something in the air. ..two kids, two jobs, a house, a tenant, a huge extended family — what in “Zorba the Greek” Nikos Kazantzakis had described as “the full catastrophe.”

The “how.” In lives. How it all happens.

About the “how.” There were schools, colleges, to form young men and young women into whatever it was that they and their parents hoped them to “become.” With college mandates about the total number of the core requirements, and credit hours to achieve a major. Those core requirements to be identified by a department, dealing with authority. And then hours required to have a minor. To know about the world. To be known in the world. The Becoming. And what then followed after college.

Becoming. The project of becoming. How was “it” coming along? This year? It was still going on? Outside of school?

About the ‘becoming.’ And marrying. And how it was now coming along. There was no school to teach how to have a good union. Where people made their own luck –or it came in the form of a spouse. In a relationship. There was seldom ever a discussion about what a good marriage would mean. The vow to have and to hold. The vow to love and to cherish. In sickness and in health. Optimistic, cocky and vague, wrote Elizabeth Weil last week in the New York Times Magazine, concerning her own concept of relationship, and the reasons for marrying. Thinking little about the expectations in marriage, or about the reasons for being married now. There was never a discussion about what had been witnessed every day from a parent’s marriages – if the long lasting one.

Union. In a New York Times piece about her marriage, Elizabeth Weil wrote that her marriage was “utterly central to my existence, yet in no other important aspect of my life was I so laissez-faire. Like most of my peers, I applied myself to school, friendship, work, health and, ad nauseam, raising my children. But in this critical area, marriage, we had all turned away. I wanted to understand why.”

Oh, the everyday challenge of love. As two people from two homes try to merge their ideas, with two personalities, of what is an appropriate environment for their kids. Like Abe Lincoln wrote about union, which endures. So Elizabeth Weil asks, “What would a better marriage look like? More intimacy? More intriguing conversation? More laughter?” And then she asked how to reach the goal? Of more happiness? With greater intimacy? Stability? Laughter? More excellent sex? About becoming fully human?

The how. It was her idea to improve her union. Concerning the core requirements. She talked about the idea that it was over time that you really became married. Learning within the marriage institution. Over time. In friendships. In lives. In love. The mutual need. For personal experience. And few people thought about how to improve the union.

How did it all happen? The project, THIS do-it-yourself project of becoming? Becoming and the ‘how’ …dealing with a spouse, dealing with the new mandates, dealing with authority, in life. Coming from two different families, with two different concrete examples of marriage — one visible, the other invisible. One oh so very personal experience. About the right way. The visible, the other invisible, with the practical and the impractical. And that was before the idea about the how to raise kids.

In the air. Living in captivity, like the last of what kind of bird? The personal experience of – based upon scarcity, limits, and human needs. Like the project of becoming a Santa Claus? Elizabeth Weil described what can become “a barbaric competition over whose needs get met” as two people try “to make a go of it on emotional and psychological supplies that are only sufficient for one.” Elizabeth Weil wrote, “And as I lay there, I started wondering why I wasn’t applying myself to the project of being a spouse.”

A better union? What were the core requirements? Oh, the everyday challenge of love! And the full catastrophe. And spouses often assume roles of the adversary. What would a better world look like? With more intimacy? With the themes of fertility and inheritance. With the vow to have and to hold? In our shared personal experience. With the vow to love and to cherish? In sickness and in health. And the sacrifices, dealing with mutual authority. And with two different concrete examples of religious traditions, for this generation, contemplating the core requirements for spiritual needs.

With a humility about it all, the project of the Christmas cards, and reporting about how the becoming was coming along? On the Christmas cards. About the intimacy. How are we doing, learning a new perspective? Especially the men. How did we go about learning it all? How to be married? With light and darkness. With power. Generated power. In lives?

Thinking great thoughts. Having one great spouse. And writing about it all. Dealing with the spouse. In real life. Who is she/he? What is she/he? Why is she/he? In my “barbaric competition over whose needs get
met,” how long does it take to recognize? How many Christmases?

The “how.” And wanting to understand the “why.” About the how and why it all happened. In the form of a spouse. In a relationship. Visible. And invisible. This desire to get closer. With others. And to remember some parts of the story that fit into my current life. The historical part. The names of historical people. Marriage licenses. The civil registration of births. With real government. A lot like all those real Minnesota governors. Or like Herod. As some kind of land posts or mile markers. Where people made their own luck. Where ever we were. This year. This year in history. In union, with deficits. Left for the future.

The glorious tradition of Christmas cards. Living history. Who could believe how it all began? In the story about how it all happened. Did your kids believe the chronology, before they arrived? Did they even ask? About our chronology? And their personal appearance on earth.

A better union? To try to write this all down. There was something in the air – over the air. Christmas movies on television, since Thanksgiving. With the lightning and perspective…..the hero. How long does it take at the cinema to recognize which character was the hero? Who is he? What is he? Why is he? In a secular world, except for one 36 hour period, the 36 hours of attitude adjustment with Christmas music on all commercial radio, the barbaric world did not give God notice. Even if pushing only one perspective of this Creator.

A better union? To write this all down, about the framework, and the resulting pleasures. In the season of closeness and better union, what am I gonna say this day, on those Christmas cards? About this year? About the Becoming?

Before that personal experience in a 36 hour period, about a Living God.

It is a wonderful time of year to realize that it is a wonderful life. With a Jimmy Stewart-humility about it all. It is a wonderful time for an attitude adjustment. To address how are we doing? In union.

And so to write that Christmas letter. About the seen and the unseen, in the long dark nights where I live. To tell about the two kids, the two jobs, the house, a huge extended family — like what was described as “the full catastrophe,” in “Zorba the Greek,” by Nikos Kazantzakis.

Union. In the project of Becoming, to write those Christmas cards about the all-in-one package. Three in One. Thus the Christmas letter instead of the Christmas card. In Union, and how it was coming along? When the words became flesh. And what then followed. Trying to put it all into words. How to put the flesh back into words. This year.


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On Irish Politics and Irish Religion

The Irish Times reported on December 8, 2009 Pope Benedict XVI had invited Cardinal Sean Brady and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin to a meeting on December 11th to discuss “the painful situation” in the Catholic Church in Ireland, per confirmation by a Vatican official. The papal nuncio to Ireland will attend along with senior Vatican Curia figures with specific competence in this area,” according to Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi.

The Irish Times on December 4, 2009 reported that Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny said it was discourteous that Papal Nuncio in Ireland did not respond to the two letters sent to him by the Murphy commission in February 2007 and earlier in 2009. The previous reluctance of the Papal Nuncio in Ireland to contribute to the report, and then the delay of one week before finally commenting upon findings of the Murphy commission have led to calls for expulsion of the Papal Nuncio in Ireland. Fine Gael leader in the House, Frances Fitzgerald, said the report of the Murphy commission should mark a defining moment in the relations between church and State. The Papal Nuncio in Ireland has denied ’showing contempt’ for the State institutions by refusing to respond to requests from the Murphy commission for information, according to Ivana Bacik (Labor).

The Vatican, through the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, responded to the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs, indicating that the communication was not made through the proper channel, he added. In making their requests, the Murphy commission undoubtedly established that it was the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, under then prefect Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, who took control of issues of sexual abuse by priests sometime around 2001. So the Irish political parties were now in a row over why the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith did not reply.

Replying to Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny, the Vatican’s view was, as the commission had been established under government authority through the Department of Justice, such communication should be routed through diplomatic channels and in accordance with international customs, Taoiseach Brian Cowen said. The Holy See’s approach was, according to Taoiseach Brian Cowen, consistent with international law where dealings between states should be conducted via the diplomatic channel unless other arrangements were made by mutual consent. He said that it was not “unreasonable to assume the Holy See was open to responding to a further approach through diplomatic channels” to the Murphy commission investigating clerical child sex abuse in Dublin, according to the Irish Times.

Labor leader Eamon Gilmore said that the reply to Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny by Taoiseach Brian Cowen confirmed that senior figures in the Catholic Church had failed to grasp the urgency of what was at stake, according to the Irish Times.

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny asked how it was there was no response from the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs to the response from the Vatican that contact had not been made through the correct channel.

Responding to Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin’s expression of “deep disappointment” at the lack of a response by the pope to the Dublin diocesan report, sources inside the Vatican said until the Holy See received a formal complaint from the Government via its diplomatic mission in Rome, a Vatican response would be “inappropriate”.

The Irish Times reported on December 8, 2009 that Vatican insiders say Friday’s meeting is a direct intervention from the Holy See, called by Pope Benedict XVI. The sources reportedly state that the pope will argue the Irish clerical sex-abuse crisis has gone on far too long and will urge Irish church leaders to find a definitive exit from the crisis. Hmmmmmm.

In a related story, The Irish Times reported on December 8, 2009 that in 1991 Father Kevin Hegarty was appointed editor of the Irish Bishops’ Conference-sponsored magazine Intercom, published under the aegis of the Bishops’ Commission on Communications. In its December 1993 issue an article titled “Twenty Questions for the Bishops” challenged their handling of clerical child sex abuse. “Will they eschew silence as the preferred legal and moral strategy in the face of future allegations?” it asked.

In 1993, the Irish bishops criticized an Intercom article on women priests published in the magazine and written by the current Irish President Mary McAleese (then a university professor).

In 1994, Father Hegarty was removed as editor of Intercom after publishing an article challenging the bishops’ handling of clerical child sex abuse. In March 1994 auxiliary bishop of Dublin, Eamonn Walsh, who was investigated by the Murphy commission, was appointed to survey the Bishops’ Conference on their attitude to Intercom. In July 1994 Father Hegarty was appointed full-time curate at Shanaghy in west Mayo. “In the circumstances I felt I had no choice but to let go of Intercom,” he said.

In a January 1995 letter to the Irish Times, Mary McAleese (then a university professor) wrote that “what is truly depressing about this episode, though, is the contrast between the energy and determination which went into sorting out a perceived problem with the editorial tone of Intercom , and the sheer breathtaking ineptitude of church handling of matters relating to child abuse by clergy….It is truly ironic that Father Kevin Hegarty raised the issue openly inIntercom” long before the Father Brendan Smyth affair, and in so doing incurred the wrath of those so anxious now to reassure us of their clean hands and bona fides in this squalid business.”

The Irish Times on December 8, 2009 reports that Father Hegarty said the Murphy report “showed that church leaders placed most premium on loyalty, regardless of the truth.” He said. “We live in a dysfunctional church, which happens when deafness becomes deadly,” he said. The bishops named in the Murphy report include the Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, the Bishop of Galway, two Dublin auxiliary bishops, and Bishop of Limerick. Monsignor Dolan, the vice chancellor in Dublin from 1980 to 1997, is also named; he became chancellor in 1997.

Before he became pope, Cardinal Ratzinger was Prefect for Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. It is hard to fathom how the pope might whitewash this situation involving both church and state over which he had assumed personal control for at least the past 8 years. In a nation that understood the Curia was operating both as a sovereign state with diplomatic ties as well as in the spiritual domain. Would this pope actually address concerns that the Papal nuncio was ’showing contempt’ for the State institutions? In Ireland.

Under orders from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, American Jesuit Thomas Reese resigned on May 6, 2005 as editor of the Catholic magazine America because he had published articles critical of church positions, several Catholic officials in the United States told the New York Times. The order to dismiss the editor of America magazine was issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in mid-March when the Vatican office of doctrinal enforcement was still headed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the Catholic officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the matter. (Some have suggested it was the American bishops who got Father Reese removed, a story much like Father Kevin Hegarty’s dismissal.) Soon after Father Reese’s dismissal, Pope John Paul II died and Cardinal Ratzinger was elected Pope Benedict XVI. His new job duties included a job description of infallibility on both matters of faith and morals.

At one point it will be nice to see Pope Benedict’s own Transfiguration. Beyond the days of the ongoing cover up, when the immoral were involved in a great cover up. And too many people of faith lost their faith in bishops around the world, with the cover up of crimes. And too many Catholics had lost faith in the bishops around the world whose appointments had been solely based upon political litmus tests of who was conservative or liberal. Cardinal Ratzinger was on record, reported in America in the days of Rev. Thomas Reese, as saying that perhaps it was time to prune back this church. Maybe the pruning might finally start with a few Irish bishops. And then a progression to include a few other bishops involved in the cover up who had elected Cardinal Ratzinger pope. Bernard Cardinal Law for one. Of course in the culture of Germany since the days of Adolph Hitler, there had never been a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Life had just gone on.

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Expelled. From the garden. Crime and punishment. What a punishment. To be compelled to discover the world. The mountains. The rivers. Appellations for all of this. Creating artificial borders

The conflicts. Reparations. A lot like for sins, war reparations. Over time.

The “Stans.’ Those countries where the Ubis, the Pakis called home. Or the Kurds. Or the Afghans. Where rivers divide. Where mountains formed by glaciers had underground sources of water. Uzbekistan. Kazakhstan. Tajikistan. Kyrgyzstan. Turkmenistan. East Turkistan, Uyghuristan, and Uyghurstan.

Muslims. In the “_stans.” There was a lot of fear about all the ___stans. After the collapse of the Soviet Union. To discover all of it. The transforming world of glaciers. As icecaps melted. Somewhere bin Laden. Amidst the snow and the wind, still howling like an animal lost off the mountain top. Looking for reparations. And people watching. Amidst the conflict.

Catholics. In Europe. In the Americas. In Africa. In the changing world. The recording of the atmosphere of otherworldliness. In search for “core competencies.” In school. In the real world. People watching.

Expelled. Charlie Weiss was expelled as coach of the Notre Dame football team. There was a time when every Catholic male in the country would care about this news story. That atmosphere of otherworldliness, in South Bend. Were concerns about Notre Dame’s recruiting reflective of problems that the Roman Catholic Church had with the current generation? Way beyond football? Was it poor leadership that had allowed the prestige of otherworldliness to slip away? Was their some kind of identity theft which had occurred over the past generation that was just be discovered now? Was it about social-issue questions. Worldly social issue questions so much focused on sex?

The best consultants use the rhetoric of personal empowerment. A messianic devotion to gurus.

“Outright shamans who sprinkle on the science like so much fairy dust.” Political polling. Politicians. Tax and spend politicians. To build. Land use and global warming. Deforestation. Attention was directed at carbons in the air, but not at the issue of land use.

“Up in the Air.” The book was now a George Clooney movie. About a new sovereign state. Based on airlines. And frequent flying. Where the world was based upon the all-important miles. Flown miles and the control of credit cards. To be compelled to discover the world.

Creating artificial borders
With the firmest tenets. Of liberty. In thin air. In places where business people called home. Airports. Smelling and breathing at the same time.

People watching. Stealth people watching. It was an inhuman time. When the nineties will be remembered as the decade of finance, of computers. And then 2009. Now more sophisticated. More jaded and knowing. Where every question comes down to economics. It was an inhuman time, with bright lights and glamour. Without a lot of emotion or human drama. But style. And now addressing that pain. With the hang over from the Greenspan cheap money era of the last decade, where all the excesses were around at sea level. Prepared for the physical deadlines, the financial deadlines, I faced now. Of the body. Of a tooth ache.

That atmosphere of other-worldliness. Prayer. On mountaintops. Smelling and breathing at the same time. With fewer spiritual pretensions than found at sea level. Oriented over time to something within. Like the melting icecaps. Of the fabled snows of Mt. Kilimanjaro, and the Swiss glaciers. Was global climate change real? Addressing the pain. Nations in Copenhagen seemed to think the clock was ticking.

To be compelled to discover the world. “Core competencies.” Now addressing the crimes. Of endangered places. And addressing that pain. From abscesses and excesses. As an imposed punishment. Of the created artificial borders. Oh to be compelled to discover the world.

People watching. Dramatically inert. Neither knowing nor caring what it is interiorly involved. What’s going on inside the borders of that face? Without my emotional response. Actors. Actresses. “She just stands around.” With a pretty, childlike face. Smelling and breathing at the same time. Without an awareness. It was December. With long stretches of people watching. Without recognizing the border. It all seemed so much like cotton candy. So what should be an appropriate expression, for an adult?

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Why is it that we don’t seek to shut down an automobile driving school if one of its graduates decides to mow down pedestrians as they cross the street? Well, because the school presumably did not teach them to commit evil with their new skills. If they had, they should certainly be held accountable. So too is it with SOA. The burden of proof is on the protesters to prove that the school teaches its cadets to violate human rights. If the protesters can prove such a thing the debate is theirs. The problem is, instruction on objective human rights is copiously woven throughout the entire curriculum at the SOA. And members of the advisory Board of Visitors serve to ensure and verify it. Why is that so difficult to understand?

I wrote about the participation of an American Catholic bishop, Bishop Robert Morlino of the Madison, Wisconsin Diocese, on the advisory board to the United States Army School of the Americas, questioning the relationship of his public witness role of the Catholic faith. With all the irony that the bishop of Madison has tried to rule with a bit of iron fist, like a Latin American strongman. Knowing the old Latin American rule: When a government was weak, its people turned to violence. And the above response came in, to the use of his position as a bishop. Or misuse.

History bears witness to the violence conducted against its own citizens by armies, by regimes, in Latin American nations. Military juntas and dictators in the 20th century attempting to maintain power. These were not violations of human rights. This was outright killing. Perhaps the commenter should rent a couple movies, if he/she cannot read the history. “Missing”, about Chile, starring Jack Lemon. “Salvador,” a movie by Oliver Stone (who does not always let the facts get in the way of his stories.)

The School of the Americas does not teach soldiers from other countries to “commit evil.” Or how to drive. These were
governments sending employed soldiers for training in torture. To enforce their concept of law and order. Bolivian dictator Hugo Banzar arrested 3,000 of his political opponents, killed 200 of them, and tortured the remainder. Argentine dictator Leopoldo Galtieri oversaw the torture and murder of more than 30,000 dissidents. And the School of the Americas helped to show the means for numerous dictators to viciously oppress, even training some founders of Los Zetas, a mercenary army for one of Mexico’s largest drug-trafficking groups known as the Gulf Cartel. Major Roberto D’Aubuisson, the leader of the El Salvador death-squad got his training at the school. To name names.

“Instruction on objective human rights is copiously woven throughout the entire curriculum at the SOA. And members of the advisory Board of Visitors serve to ensure and verify it.”

Really? In 1996 the Pentagon released to the public the SOA training manuals used for years. “These manuals advocated torture, extortion, blackmail and the targeting of civilian populations,” according to

The posed question was why “we” don’t shut down a driving school. In this case, the School of the Americas is not a private school. The school is a part of the government of the United States, at an annual cost of eighteen million dollars. The protest over the School of the Americas has nothing to do with “the graduates” but the support by the United States to the policies and tactics used by governments, in the past, in the present, and in the future. The facts of history demonstrate American foreign policy in Latin America. One administration after another has supported the policies of the elites to torture their own people. And I called the question as to why an American bishop was lending his support on the advisory board to the school. Without even asking why a government school needed an advisory board.

If there ever was a trial about the righteousness of the School of the Americas, the conclusion of law would be based upon the finding of facts. Which facts were true. There is no burden of proof on protesters. The United States Constitution has long been found to grant the right to protest. The same bill of rights that grants freedom of religion. Writers are even free to make inane comments about things that they have little knowledge of. This is not some high school debate. This is about history and the lives and deaths of real people. And rights to free speech and assembly should not be restricted to lattitudes and longtitudes on the map, but to all people.

In May 2009 the Latin America Military Training Review Act was introduced. James McGovern (D-MA) has re-introduced the Latin America Military Training Review Act, (HR 3368), with an aim to suspend all torturous and abusive practices of the SOA/WHINSEC. So far the bill has not come out of committee. Mostly it was young people and the elderly, grandparents and grandchildren, who had the passion to monitor issues of social justice. And to aim the spotlight in gatherings called “protest.”


The headlines in 2009. “School of Americas” Generals Charged in Colombia – Two Colombian generals, both of whom received training at the U.S. Army “School of The Americas” at Ft. Benning, Georgia have been accused by Colombian authorities of crimes involving narcotics and collaborating with criminal paramilitary groups, according to a report in the June 15th issue of The Nation magazine.

Military Coup in Honduras – Tegucigalpa, Honduras – On June 28, 2009, graduates of the School of the Americas overthrew the democratically-elected government of Honduras.


On January 25, 2010 in Columbus, Georgia, Nancy Gwin, Ken Hayes, and Fr. Louis Vitale were all given maximum federal prison sentences of six months each for civil disobedience opposing in the name of human rights the School of the Americas (SOA/WHINSEC). The three had crossed onto Fort Benning property on November 22, 2009. The judge also issued a warrant for the arrest of Michael Walli who consciously chose to not return for trial.

Was feedback not unlike blowback? Like the blowback from American support in the war between Iran and Iraq. Who ever thought that covert support would end up in creating a Bin Laden? Who ever thought that those crimes involving narcotics and collaborations with criminal paramilitary groups would come so close to American borders?

August 2010, From the National Catholic Reporter, raising the question, where is the goodness in institution church?

“The American missionary order Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers has discontinued a longstanding annual grant to the antimilitary campaign group School of Americas Watch because the organization’s founder, Maryknoll priest Roy Bourgeois, (now excommunicated) publicly supports women’s ordination.

“Given Fr. Bourgeois’ central role as the founder and public face of the SOA Watch, [Maryknoll] society leadership has determined that it cannot continue its financial support of that organization without giving the impression that it also supports the actions of its leader concerning the issue of women’s ordination,” said a Maryknoll statement.

The statement dated May 24th was not made public until July 22, 2010 after SOA Watch announced a fundraising drive to replace the $17,000 grant. Within a week, the fund drive had raised nearly $10,000. While US Taxpayers continue to fund the School of the Americas, exporting its long-standing policy of research and development of torture, under both Republican and Democrat Administrations, at a cost of $180 million since 2002.

So what exactly has changed in the three years of a new administration?


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