Friday, January 16, 2015

Tonight at my cancer support group meeting, one of the gang quoted an article in today's Dayton Daily News which I had not read.  I hope you can read it at:
It is in the upper right-hand corner, by Daryn Kagan.  (You may need to be subscribers to the DDN web page.)  The important quote for us in the most unpopular club in the world is "When you die, it does not mean that you lose to cancer.  You beat cancer by how you live, why you live and the manner in which you live."  It helped me to say "F*** YOU, CANCER!!!!!"  Especially after I found the Jimmy V speech at the bottom of
and the Stuart Scott speech at
In the Scott  speech, substitute the names Tom and John.  You'll know where.

God bless you all.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Today John, Kristine and I went to the funeral for the brother of one of John's college friends.  I went because he was on active duty in the U. S. Navy, so the Westboro so-called Baptist Church sent out their usual call for a demonstration at the funeral or burial.  There was no chance that they would show up themselves; the major news media doesn't cover rural Ohio.  And there was almost no chance anyone else would answer their call.  Very few ever do, and those few are also publicity maniacs.  Some people agree with their warped beliefs about God and homosexuality, but the vast majority of these people have a great respect for the military.  If WBC is ever attacked, it is more likely to come from their friends than their enemies. 

Anyway, although I didn't think that a counter-demonstration or protective "human wall" was necessary, I still went.  Why?  Well, partly because I could.  I'm now 65, but I'm only semi-retired, so I do have extra time available for things.  Here was something good to do and it fit into my work schedule; I could do this.  And it would be time to spend with my son and someone who was extremely important to him.  But mainly, I take my Christianity seriously, and I'm deeply offended by people who make it a laughingstock or worse.  I want it to be clear that this is not, most emphatically NOT, the Jesus in Whom I have put my faith, trust and love. 

So we went to the funeral together.  As I'd expected, nothing evil happened.  The human wall wasn't actually necessary.  Within the church building, we had a normal Catholic funeral for a young adult who  died too young.  It wasn't easy; it reminded me too much of the funeral of my cousin Tom Hopkins.  Especially when the priest remarked that 46 years ago, it had been Army uniforms in the front, and his brother right there in the middle.  Yeah, Father, been there.  It sucked.  The cemetery was close by; everything went normally, and we headed back for our normal work. 

But I had seen something wonderful.  When we came to the church from the funeral home, a "human wall" was in place.  I couldn't see all the way around the church, but everywhere I could see was defended.  People had come together to help and protect their friends and neighbors in a hard time.  Some were local folks, and some were from elsewhere like us, responding to Keith's (the brother) friends and relations. 

Sometimes, good comes out of evil.  This looks like one of those times.  I feel greatly blessed to have been there. 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sunday at the Festival on the riverbank

Today we went to Mass at the Dayton Celtic Festival.  The priest who can read Gaelic was injured and could not celebrate, so we had a regular English Mass except for the readings.  One of the Irish musicians, strictly a layman, read the first and second readings in Gaelic, so we had that much at least.  And the replacement celebrant did an excellent job. 

But I had a hard time fully concentrating on the service.  The weather was absolutely gorgeous - bright sun, clear sky, perfect temperature (at least in the shade.)  And standing there in the crowd, looking over the riverfront toward the Main Street bridge, it was a wonderful sight.  The grass and trees were glowing green, the levee wall looked clean and bright, even the aging buildings looked pretty.  The whole experience was near heavenly. 

I don't regret living my whole life in Dayton.  It's not the greatest city ever, but it's OK.  Today, however, I was positively glad and thankful to be in Dayton.  Thanks for another blessing, Lord. 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter Morning

It's Easter morning, and for a change I heard a good word from the Lord.  I'm convinced that the country I love is in decline, and I don't see any way to prevent the crash.  But today I realized that the Resurrection can happen for countries, too.  While our country may indeed degenerate into a Fascist, or even Communist, dictatorship, we could have a second American Revolution.  The people could rise again and restore life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. 

God, save your people. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Sep. 11, 2011

     The closing song at Mass today was "America the Beautiful" and I couldn't sing it.  I just couldn't.  Every time I tried to join in the tear ducts filled instantly, and the music died in my throat.  It wasn't just, or even mainly, the horror of the day ten years ago.  It was what has happened since then.  The blessings called for in the song just aren't happening.  It's not a lack of grace, I believe.  It's a lack of response to grace.  The country I love is rapidly disintegrating.  No one is thinking or working for the good of their country; it's all me-me-me. 
     Crown thy good with brotherhood?  Only if they look and think exactly like me. 
     Confirm thy soul in self-control/Thy liberty in law?  Nope.  Self-control is for others, and I'll decide what laws I'll obey. 
     May God thy gold refine?  The gold has become the god. 
     Till selfish gain no longer stain/The banner of the free?  Not even close.  Selfish gain is not only tolerated, it is glorified. 

     The alabaster cities are no longer in sight.  This human's tears have dimmed them completely. 

Saturday, September 3, 2011

A Word of the Lord?

     The Mass readings for a recent Sunday included the passage in Jeremiah 20:7-9 in which the prophet complains that speaking the word of God has brought him nothing but trouble, but he has to keep doing it. I’ve felt that way a lot lately. I feel like I am in the middle of a sinking, decaying country where people who think that they follow Jesus have been tricked into advocating a radical selfishness totally at odds with the plain sense of the Scriptures. The people who are advocating the preferential option for the poor show no respect for the life of the unborn, and scant regard for the elderly near death. But it is to the Christians of the so-called Religious Right that I am beginning to feel called to prophesy.

     Yes, prophesy. I have a feeling growing within me that this is the word of God for America: to paraphrase the prophet Jonah, “Forty years more, and America will be destroyed.” Actually I think the number will be more like twenty-something. The full prophecy is this:

Unless my people abandon the culture of selfishness that they have built up, that selfishness will completely destroy their country with all the freedoms they have professed to love.

I have been saying that this country is in dire trouble for some time now, in this blog and in conversation. I get little respect from anyone. Younger people roll their eyes, politely implying that “you old f**ts always predict doom and gloom.” The elders, especially the Religious Right folks, roll their eyes because they are serenely confident that America is God’s chosen country. Even more than the Pope, the USA is infallible, preserved from any serious error. So Jeremiah’s words this morning sounded familiar. Yeah, pal, been there.

     As a charismatic Catholic, I know a little about prophecy. It is not, most emphatically, about predicting the future. It is speaking a word of the Lord to His people. I’ve had the experience before, in a much more limited context. Is this a risky gift to exercise? Is there a major danger that this is merely egomania running free? You bet your sweet patootie it is. But here I am, predicting the future and risking scorn and derision. Maybe the Lord is in it, or maybe I’m making a jackass out of myself.

     So what are my reasons for thinking that God, Lord of the Universe, has chosen me as His prophet? Nothing that other people will find irrefutable. There’s the test of Moses, from Deuteronomy 18:18-22. If the USA is still a truly democratic, stable and just country in 2051, then I was full of you-know-what and will no doubt be receiving what I deserve. (Unless Jesus accepts my groveling apology. But this won’t be all that high on my list of sins.) There’s also the Jeremiah test, from the passage above. I keep speaking it, even when it gains me nothing but differing degrees of scorn. Finally, and least convincing, I am just dead certain that this country is headed for a disaster and the people who should be sounding the loudest alarms are instead speeding up the process.

     And that is what I feel must be said. People who should know that the love of money is the root of all evil (I Timothy 6:10) are instead cheerfully supporting policies that permit, or even encourage, unrestricted greed and selfishness, as somehow magically good for our country. This despite plenty of historical evidence that St. Paul was right. That is rather frustrating; for the people I want to get through to, an appeal to historical evidence should not be necessary. Aren’t you God’s people? Then why do you ignore His Word?

     A prophecy, especially a public prophecy, is an exhortation to do right. And so I plead with my fellow Christians: Heed the word of the Lord which I have spoken to you this day. I am not threatening or predicting Divine intervention, with plagues and lightning and such. No, even now the sin is making its own punishment.

Friday, August 26, 2011

A Family Revelation

     Man, I had a real revelation a while back. On Facebook, one of my cousins posted the origin of his Dad’s nickname. [Background, if you don’t know my family: My Dad had one sibling, a slightly older brother, who married Mom’s younger sister. Mom and Aunt Peg were the last two of 10, 8 surviving.] My sibs and I had always called him Uncle Skid, and I never knew why. It was just his name, or nickname. He had a severe stutter. Bill (my cousin) had seen a television show on stuttering, no doubt because of the new movie “The King’s Speech”, and posted how he had been moved by it. It was good to know that it was now better understood, and can often be effectively treated. He mentioned a few ways that it had been a problem in his Dad’s life, mostly because he was rejected by the armed forces in World War II.

     He also mentioned the nick name and its origin. When they were boys, my Dad thought that the stutter sounded like the words were skidding. He started calling him Skid, and the nickname stuck. This would have been in the 1920’s, or at most early 30’s. American culture was rougher then; sensitivity was considered a little effeminate. And Dad could be rough. He was a teaser, like me, and not particularly sensitive about it. He believed that making fun of misfortune was a good way to help someone deal with it. But of course it isn’t always. He was sometimes hurt or embarrassed when one of his attempts at humor was not well received. He really was trying to help.

     While they were two different men in many ways, their brotherly love was unmistakable. One time I made some remark to my Dad about being the brains of the family, and he said "Hell, Skid was just as smart as I was. But because of his handicap, everyone babied him." I was shocked; it was the only time I ever heard him being seriously critical of his parents, or Catholic schools. But he was bitter; there was a definite vibe of "they screwed up my brother!" After our family moved up north, they still kept in touch, even though the visits sometimes were limited to a couple of times a year. They just liked being together. Dad’s jobs kept him away more and more as time went on; that hurt all of us, including him and his brother. But the bond was never broken, or even weakened. I pray that my sons can also keep their bond unbroken throughout their lives.