Archive for the ‘in religion’ Category

On The Day of The Dead

In the world of Chinese Astrology, the Mayan long calendar will come to an end on December 21, 2012. It is a pretty big deal when any 26,000 year astrology cycle (the Precession of the Equinoxes) comes to an end.

The primary purpose of Chinese astrology was fortune telling, with a focus usually on what will happen to people in various stages of their lives, on a particular day or in a certain month or in a certain year. In this case those Chinese astrologers were suggesting a transition period was believed to be coming, a lot larger than the Y2K problem.

The intrigue. Just when I was coming to grips with the intrigue over the transition to Y2K that seemed to involve the age of terror and the conflict of the western world with followers of Mohamed. Now comes the Chinese and the intrigue over the coincidence that the Year of the Dragon and the end of the Mayan calendar fall within the same year. 2012. The real question was whether after the Year of the Dragon, in 2012, whether the world end?

All of us where I lived had come out of schools where the purpose was to teach us how to think, to piece together all the fragments of life until they worked to form a picture, like on the old game show “Concentration,” where you could figure out the puzzle. Somehow the pieces seemed smaller and smaller, and to figure out the big picture was much more difficult and taking this generation more time. And the puzzle was a lot larger than I ever comprehended.

I had never studied ancient Maya. I now come across some internet expert who tells me of these dedicated stargazers. During the 26,000 year astrology cycle (the Precession of the Equinoxes), the Earth moves approximately 2166 times through each of the twelve zodiac signs. I did not ask who was doing the counting. But this expert indicates that it was the belief of the Mayans, the Sumerians, Tibetans, and Egyptians that the coming of a new world begins on December 21, 2012. Large monuments as a warning were left to society that people might prepare for the transition. Their calendar ended on December 21, 2012, if not the world.

The good news was that no documentation, at least from a Chinese astrology perspective, indicates in 2012 the world will end, after the Year of the Dragon. The year of the Dragon is the grand Karmic sign, typically a year of positive developments. Or large disasters. So what does this all mean in the world of astrology? Or to me?

Chinese astrologers believe that a person’s time and place of birth set parameters, boundaries within which a person has more or less freedom. What happens within these boundaries is influenced not only by “free will” but also by external factors such as financial status of the family, the culture, and the local economy. Though not a strict determinist, balance plays a central role in Chinese thought. A Chinese astrologer will address a specific duration of time, or what people should do. A Chinese astrologer does not believe a person’s fate is sealed in stone at the moment of birth.

The struggle from generation to generation of off-spring. With the external and the internal world. To have the courage to write the story for these times. To raise a family in these times. In the quest for a Living God, I was fortunate enough to have had a good tour guide.

Significance. Meaning. The life of a Chinese astrologer as a tour guide was not going to be as easy in 3 years. Those Chinese astrologers who had relied on the Mayan calendar were going to be the ones in transition. Somehow I expected this was not going to be very funny the sooner the date approached.

When we are all in exodus. In exodus, from our origin, trying to recapture a past. To explore what may occur in 2012 – The Year of the Dragon – when “2012 could be a most auspicious year indeed,” states one webmaster.

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The end. King Lear. Elizabeth Edwards. Health care. Teddy Kennedy. Capitalism. Graduations. Obama. Notre Dame. The restlessness.

Infidelity: Elizabeth Edwards on her husband. It was “as if he embezzled from the entire family.” Embezzling intimacy. The restlessness of a man.

Notre Dame. Graduation. Speeches. Classic religious education and graduation: how many kids today can look at the Pieta and see anything? How many adults? The restlessness, to do something. The restlessness, mine, at the age of 22.

Graduations. Obama. Notre Dame. The letter. About being engaged in the real world. Engaged not so much with suffering as with sin. Would all these American bishops come down on Pope Benedict if he elects to meet President Obama in Rome when he is there for the next G7, G8, or G20 meeting come July? Holy Gee!

The new world order. In a world without regulations. The restlessness, on display. Capitalism and the new business model. It was about scalping. Wanting the best price. Pure market conditions, without regulation. Scalping junk. Engaged in the world, but not seeing the cost of scalping.

Old ways don’t work in a world of cheaters. It was as if they had embezzled from the entire family called civilization. The human condition. In a world that no longer listens, nor is listening.

The sick. The elderly. Health care. Capitalism. Retirement. Redoing it all. Counting the cost. Leadership. Engaged. The restlessness, on display. But with actual collegiality and listening.

The restlessness in sickness. The connection of my body to my soul: when you are feeling bad. An eye disorder.

The restlessness in the elderly. The separation of the soul from the body at death. The restlessness, on display in Shakespeare’s King Lear.

The restlessness, on display at that party in Omaha with college classmates. Thirty-some years later. The more things change, the more they remain the same.

The human condition. Engaged in the world. The restlessness. The restlessness in the young. The restlessness in the elderly. Abram, with a new name.
The Pieta. On display. The restlessness in the elderly. Reconciliation. The restlessness of the artist.

“Pain is a powerful motivator.” The power in pain and suffering. Motivating people to do what? A powerful motivator even to people who are powerless. The human condition and restlessness. In search of something.

Leadership. Engaged. The connection of my body to my soul. The restlessness, on display in the connection of my body to my soul. In youth. In King Lear. In that sculpture, the Pieta.

Listening. Listening to the connection of my body to my soul. The part of praying called listening. Priesthood. Listening to the restlessness. Abram, with a new name. Making the connection of my body to my soul. Be still!

Graduation speeches everywhere. At a time of spring. It was a time to be still. The time to listen.

The equity in the knowing. The part of God, on display, revealed to me. On my knees.

What is it that makes this day holy? What is it that is making me holy? The attempt at it anyway? The education. Falling on my knees, in sickness. Seeing and feeling the inadequacy of it all. Of me. Of this human condition. In comparison to the Creator.

The part of God, on display, revealed to me. My share. Then sharing my share. Priesthood. Actual engaged leadership. In the world. Listening.

Graduated. Collegiality and listening.

Crime & Punishment

I live in the city of St. Paul but have never been drawn much toward the man. This guy named Saul. I was still piecing together fragments. In this Pauline year.

“Give us Barabbas.” How were people changed?

“Give us Barabbas.” Saul. Young men like him, up all night who partook in the crucifixion. People like Saul. After political rebels suffered all those crucifixions at the hands of the Romans, finally the Jewish hierarchy got to crucify one of their own. It was not an anti-semitic thing. It was all about dogma. Here was a religious rebel. Ah, when politics and religion collide.

“Give us Barabbas.” I have spent time in the state pen in South Dakota. I was allowed in to play softball. I preached the importance of hitting the cutoff man. That day I was the cutoff man. A guy asked me for help when he got out. Then I found out what he had done. He WAS the cutoff man. I told him all I could do was preach the importance of hitting the cutoff man.

“Give us Barabbas.” Those 2 million black men in jail. What had they done? Why the disproportionate number? What was wrong with the system? Society? What was legal? Why did people commit crimes? And even on those who had not, in American society, what of those women who had abortions and the docs who had performed them. They were legal. Sixty years ago they would not have been. Fifty million abortions. If abortion ever becomes illegal again, the question was how to punish. No one had an answer. Not in Washington, not in Rome.

“Give us Barabbas.” About this punishment thing. The arrogance of politics and religion in the foreground of Good Friday. Piecing together fragments. In this Pauline year. The arrogance of the human species, determining punishment. Crime and punishment. Determining crime. How this all became alive. All creation. In 2009.

“Give us Barabbas.” Piecing together fragments. Work. The burden of work that destroys us. Day by day. By those who had no understanding. What was that Genesis quote about crawling like a serpent on this earth. To be made humble. In search of food. Jesus destroyed by his work as it were, by his mission. By those who had no understanding.

“Give us Barabbas.” Crime and punishment. How to change things. How to change people. The method of punishment? With capital punishment? With a crucifixion?

“Give us Barabbas.” Crime and punishment. Piecing together fragments. In my world. In the city of St. Paul. By those who had no understanding.

“Give us Barabbas.” How was I doing learning piety? How was I doing teaching piety? How to change people? Over time? With age. By example. To overcome crawling like a serpent on this earth? Only in death. When there no longer was a need for a search for food. Could only God teach piety? With a shocking crucifixion?

Crime and punishment.

Listen to the composer of the above liturgical music.

Up Tempo


A river. Forming boundaries. Rivers divided states and provided separated nations. Rivers have an affect on people and their lives.

River banks. The affect on people and their lives,over-flowing. Rivers are always changing. The Army Corps of Engineers is involved in monitoring rivers and their flow here. Because rivers form boundaries.

My first job out of college brought me to the Red River of the North. There is no other river like it. The Red River flows north to Canada. That first spring I heard a lot of talk about dikes and their importance. Every spring, with snow melt slower at the mouth of the river in Canada, where temperatures are always colder, floods are a threat. The dikes are built to keep the boundaries bound.

This week the National Guard was building dikes with the local people. Protecting property, in a land where is no protection. If the dikes burst, most people had no insurance. Those home-owner insurance policy do not provide coverage for the peril of flood damage. If you live in a flood zone, your local banker knew it. If your banker is still local. And if you did not live near the river, 99% of the people were not going to purchase flood insurance which had to be bought 30 days prior to a flood anyway. And contents cannot be covered by the National Flood Insurance program.

Rivers and destinations. The path taken. The people met. The effect on river flow. In all the places I ever lived, of the 5 Midwest states, the general public in North Dakota was the nicest I ever witnessed. I think it was due to the harsh winters that are beyond description. And the weather and the rivers never really change. The affect of river flow. It is, I learned in geography class in the 3rd grade with Mrs. Wolfe, the effect that mountains and streams have on developing character.

This week with the Red River 22 feet above the normal level, the Coast Guard has been monitoring dikes. If this was a building that would be more than a 2-story house, miles after mile. The people were holding their breath, after hearts had beat so fast exerting to get the dikes at least a foot about the projected flood level, in the ever changing world.

Is it 2 million sandbags that were protecting the boundaries of the Red River? Hastily built dikes. Those dikes and their hastily sent prayers were all that are left this week. As most of the exposed people wait, with no insurance. For water levels to recede. For spring to come to Manitoba. For life to return to normal. For things that the Coast Guard, the National Guard, the Army Corps of Engineers had no control over. People prayed for warmer spring temperatures that were not above average, for calm winds that would not wash out the dikes, that their lives would return to “normal.”

For normal. For what always had constituted peace time. With the National Guard. And the Army Corps of Engineers. So people could go about their work.

March in North Dakota is such a volatile time of year. When death gave way to life. In lambing season.

Life at the Half-Baked Bakery

Moral relativism involved either people without questions about God, or only about God in certain areas of their lives. Moral relativism was a religious attitude. Awareness.

Start with the questions. Who is God? Was that a religious question, or a theological one? Religion seemed man-made. God sure was not. What is the human spirit? How do you live with what you believe? So how great was the tension in your life between your beliefs and your actions? Imperfect?

Attitude comes from the questions: Attitudes of love or attitudes of fear? Where does the relationship start? A guy looking for loopholes. Changing action not to look for the loopholes.

What did you most want to pass on? Disappointment over decsisons where life was now headed. Awareness of morality and moral relativism as a religious attitude. Performance and the tension in life between belief and action? Life at the Half-baked Bakery.

Ground Shifts

How can anyone miss the tension of the times?

Shoes. Movement. Places. Location. Parishes. Looking for a point of view.

A local church. A funeral. The Hughes. Five daughters. A burial plot.

Location. Ground shifts. Water level. Flooding. Minnesota. Where I walked.

Locations. Rome. Going to the seat of political power. To change public policy. To affect the leaders there.

The Roman Catholic Church. To miss the tension of the times. The brutality of the Roman Empire. There was a reason Peter had gone there to Rome.

Looking for a point to view. To find something to say. And then how to say it. Without stage fright.

A ‘moment of silence.’ Grieving and all of its wake was nothing but the giving of thanks and praise for a life. I had been stunned at what had happened and at what was here. And at what had always been here and now was gone. Kaddish. The mystery was in the questions.

Where does your identity come from? What gives you identity? A group? Your family? Your parish? Your political affiliation? Your fraternal organization? What gives you identity? Your beliefs? What is your identity? Who are you? What do you do? Now? In the past?

Looking for a point to view. Going to the seat of political power. To affect the real world and its people. To affect the leaders there. There was a reason Peter had gone there to Rome.

The tension between a people who felt the way toward Rome as Poles and Czechs had toward the Russians, too easily forgotten over time. The tension in the old Austrian-Hungary Empire, if you did not happen to be an Austrian. It was an unremembered cause of World War I. The stories of the capo in concentration camps in Dachau. One of their own, working in the system, for personal benefit. The Sandhedrin and Pilate. When you had been colonized, the culture of the domination of the conquering one is affirmed all the time. Or there is an under current from the tension. Ask a soldier back from Iraq.

There had been a reason to a Roman Catholic Church.

Hoping to find a human answer to all of this. God asking: “What am I going to do? With you? In a world with 6 billion others. What are you gonna do? Now? What am I gonna do now? Because I am done making personal appearances. For the cameras.”

Hoping to find a human answer to all of this. As a reaction to the world and its poverty. Its illiteracy. All of the unfairness. Amidst all the denial. The anger. The bargaining. The grief.

Acceptance and growth. “On Death and Dying.” There had been a reason for a Catholic Church in Rome.

Places. Location. Looking for a new point of view.

Religion Blogs


Lent was the mid term. Lent was the time for letting God get our attention. My brother-in-law was giving up chocolates. I could not fathom how that would grab someone’s attention. It seemed to be some kind of childhood fast. What about the entire appetite?

Getting our attention with those mid term tests. When was it time to buckle down in life? To put beliefs into practice? And how? How would prayer, fasting or alms-giving affect others? Was Lent about improved outcomes?

“I asked him about what it is exactly that he came to this place to find.” Mid terms was the time to ask why you were not studying. Is there transformation on the other side of distance?

To be Catholic student meant an exposure to real demands and being held accountable. To those 10 Commandments. It could work because of an exposure to caring mentors, in parents, in teachers, and in priests. Those mentors make up the institution. Those mentors value the students, knowing that they were the world of tomorrow.

Lent was about those personal relationships which are integral to improved health outcomes. At a private school those personal relationships must remain the priority. Lent was the time for letting God get our attention back.


To remember the excitement of it all. The excitement of youth. Blushing. Embarassments. Embarassed not at being an animal, but learning about it. At dirty jokes. Embarassed at my imperfections in an imperfect world.

To remember the excitement of it all. The excitement of youth. The ones involving hunger and thirst. Learning limits. Embarassed by my appetites. We were all embarassed by sexual appetities.

When some people forget those teen-age years. Embarassed to be passing into this stage of life. Embarassed by change. Embarassed by the attraction that had overcome me. Embarassed by the animal within.

Ash Wednesday. The excitement of God. Embarassed. By my sins. We all had them. Most wanted to ignore them.

In the western world, there had always been an embarasssment of sex. When I grew up. Outside of marriage. The excitement of sex was conveyed in the public proclamation. Whether it was the excitement of youth, the excitement of a life long commitment ….the embarassment was gone. Do you remember the embarassment when someon at the age of 15 asked if you had a girlfriend. No. Not me.

The excitement. The attraction. Distant. The sex part to others. But she was here every day, just distant. Union. When the goal was union. With just one.

Comfortable in a relationship. Around all the time.

Ash Wednesday. Foregiveness. Forgiveness over appetite. Never have so few people asked for forgivenes. From God. Of course never before have there been 6 billion plus people.

The difficulty in forgiveness. Forgiveness started with the one who was wronged. The one who was subject to one degree or other of unfaithfulness.

It was a season of the year to try and get some control again over appetities.

Building or Maintaining

The construction business was all about specializing, either in the new or in maintenance. It was the tension between maintaining the past, or building a new future which all began in the present. Oh the tension. Construction was all about money supply. Mine. And what a bank was willing to give me.

The construction business of a life: College grads never had it laid out quite like this, choosing between the new or in maintenance. Ah the future. Your future, and the tension. What were you going to construct. Living in a new way or buying into customs. Even in the age of technology.

The conversion to the digital was postponed this week.

Trying to just maintain. The past

Over the past 4 week nights, there sure has not been much traffic in St. Paul. When I passed along the observation, a commuter said his trip from Minneapolis to suburban St. Paul that takes 20 minutes on a Saturday of late has taken only 30 minutes in rush hour. There was something going on all around us.

Paying for it. The past. The new. What a bank was willing to give this generation? What was affordable? What was gonna be maintained? There was something going on all around us.

News from the East


There are mor than 10,000 religious denominations within the Christian religion.  One pretty large denomination is meeting this week to elect a patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church.  About 700 hundred Russian Orthodox clergy, monks and lay people convened today in local council to start the process of selecting a new patriarch from the shortlist. 


The fear that in a world of 6 billion people, soon on the way to 7 billion, that the narrative was being diluted.  By the too well educated who all wanted great jobs.  Who wanted their own cars.  By too many religions.  Who wanted their own vehicles.  By the fight over earthly power and influence. 


According to the Moscow Times, in an interview published in the Trud newspaper yesterday, “Metropolitan Kirill said, ‘The position of the Russian Orthodox Church with regard to the possibility of a meeting between its patriarch and the Catholic pope remains unchanged.  A meeting between the patriarch and the pope will become possible only when there are conclusive signs of real and positive progress on issues which for a long time have been problematic for our relations.’   Kirill, 62, is a shrewd political operator, observers say, who has been careful not to appear too liberal for fear of alienating traditionalists in the church whose support he may need to win election as patriarch.   He does have close contacts with other Christian denominations.  Kirill won 97 votes at a first round of voting in the church’s Council of Bishops on Sunday.  


“Shortlisted with two other senior clergymen, Metropolitan Kirill is viewed as the candidate most open to contacts with the Vatican.  The next head of the Russian Orthodox Church will only meet the Roman Catholic pope if tensions between the two faiths are resolved, Kirill said. 


“The new patriarch will lead a church of about 165 million believers worldwide and determine whether to repair ties with the Catholic Church that have been strained since a schism in 1054 split Christianity into eastern and western branches.  The main obstacle to better relations between the two churches is the Russian charge that Rome has been trying to convert Orthodox believers to Catholicism since the end of communism, an allegation the Vatican denies. 


“Patriarch Alexy II, who died last month, resisted meetings with two successive pontiffs.  But some scholars of religion have predicted that Kirill, who met Pope Benedict in the Vatican two years ago, could be more open to the idea.  But Metropolitan Kirill said in a newspaper interview that the church’s position would not change.” 


If there was no real poverty, you could give up working hard.  More of us were fearing poverty this year. 


Without fear, you have no reason to work hard.  Without a sense of fear, you have no reason to find courage, for that matter.  Fear was the enzyme in the survival of the fittest.  Fear of hunger.  Fear of cold. 


Pessimism and fear:  fear of what?  Sometime it was the unknown that was the great motivator.  Fear of evil.  The temptations.  The loss of focus. 


Fear motivates us to work hard.  If there was no Devil, there would be no need to work hard at fighting crime.  Did anyone ever doubt the existence of evil?  And that those who were in search for the Truth were in a battle with evil every day?

There was a lot of politics with any religion.  And a lot of religion these day with any politics.