Sunday, March 30, 2008

My Way Sunday
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" Welcome home! "
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Well, thank you.

Saturday was basically a travel day. We arrived home last evening [Saturday] around 8pm EDT.

We left last Saturday [ 3/22 ] morning. We drove just under 1900 miles for the week. We saw the flooded areas of eastern Missouri along the Meramec River. We spent 3 full days with many senior citizens in Branson Mo. We departed Thursday morn in 70 degrees with sunshine. We then arrived in Chicago that evening in 20+ degrees and snow. On Friday morning we drove to Detroit MI right behind a snow storm by several hours - roads were cleared, but cars in the ditches were still being pulled out from during the night. We met some old friends for lunch - the husband is a retired Methodist pastor; his wife is now the senior pastor of the same church from which he retired in Redford MI; one of their daughters joined us - she is a pastor of a Methodist church in Livonia MI; their older son wasn't able to meet with us but he is pastor of a Methodist church in Sterling Heights MI. We attended a Detroit Red Wings NHL hockey game [they lost - in overtime]. Saturday morning we had breakfast with my nephew and his fiancee - he is an attorney in the GM Chevrolet Division. We departed Detroit and had lunch with Aunt Rozann's sister and husband in southeastern MI near the OH line. We proceeded to Fort Wayne IN and saw our youngest son, his wife and their 3-yr old daughter. Then we proceeded home to arrive before dark.

We are home, unpacked, been to church and breakfast. Laundry is being done. Life is real again.
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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Cause Way Thursday
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God spoke to me
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The written word in scripture, the spoken word in a homily or sermon, the corrective words from my wife, the example of another man / woman / person I respect - all means by which God speaks to me. Today it was the words of scripture ... engraved on a plaque and hanging on the display wall of a Christian Book and Gift store.

Proverbs 27:17

As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. [NIV]

Shopping: the explicit act of going from store to store to store to store to store with nothing in particular in mind to be purchased.

The missus and I are on a short vacation this week. We are in a tourists area of southwest Missouri called Branson. Rest and relaxation is the goal. Shopping was not on my list. None-the-less, I found myself walking the courts of not just one, but two, manufacturers outlet malls. And yes, non-planned purchases were made.

But I digress.

The aforementioned plaque caught my eye. I was immediately reminded of the nature of personal relationships. I have many - and many of them are with other men whom I not only look up to, but to whom I listen. God reminded me that I, too, am called to fill the same relationship with other men as other men fill with me.

Gender plays no role here. We are all called to be in relationship with each other. I pray our relationship will be Godly inspired. The body of Christ has accepted me into it ... I have a role in the functioning of that body - Father, help me perform it righteously.

uncle jim
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born again
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rock-n-roll lives on
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One of the highlights of visiting Branson, Missouri is the opportunity to see many many many live performers' shows at the many many many theatres. Picture the Las Vegas strip sans the gambling casinos: performance venues and restaurants and hotels dominate the landscape. Many many many other activities and adventures are available, also.

A phrase I heard since arriving here is that "Branson is a place that Senior Citizens bring their parents for vacation." While there are many many many families with children from teens down, there are a heavy preponderance of senior citizens present. A large number of the active performers are in that age group of those beyond normal retirement age. Shows are typically at 10am, 2 or 3pm, and 8pm. So you can see 3 shows a day, if you choose.

For instance, this afternoon we saw the original "COMETS" of Bill Haley and the Comets, from the 50's and 60's days. Bill Haley died in 1981, but 3 of the other original 5 members are still performing. They've picked-up a couple of replacements for keyboard and guitar. The originals still performing are Marshall Lytle 74 (bass), Joey Ambrose 74 (sax), Dick Richards 84 (drums).

You're saying to yourself, "You're kidding, right?" No - it is a fact. They have a permanent 8 months out of the year home at the Dick Clark American Bandstand Theatre in Branson. This is their 3rd year which started this week while we're here.

Bill Haley and the Comets are credited by many to be the original and official first starters of the music called 'rock and roll'. In 1952, a disc jockey by the name of Alan Freed at a Cleveland, Ohio radio station played their newest record, "Rock the Joint" and while it was playing, kept breaking in with a voice-over saying "Rock and Roll". The radio station's switchboard lit up like a Christmas tree. He ended up playing that song 9 times that night: people kept calling in and saying they wanted to hear that "Rock and Roll" song.

Now you know why the national Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is in Cleveland - that is where it started by that name.

Today, THursday, we leave Branson. We're headed to Chicago area [approx 9 hrs] for tonight as a resting place enroute to Detroit on FRiday. We're meeting dear friends for a late lunch; going to a Detroit Red Wings hockey game 'at the Joe' on FR eve; then breakfast on SAturday morning with a nephew and his fiancee; lunch with some other siblings in Toledo OH, only 1 hour south of Detroit; arrive home in IN SAturday evening sometime.

uncle jim
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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Your Way Tuesday
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the Pope and the baptism of Islamic writer
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Read the following by Deal Hudson about this high-profile conversion here.

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from regular reader Lillian Marie
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one step at a time - Easter drama
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Monday, March 24, 2008

A New Easter

It had been too long between visits. Tears filled his eyes as he walked, slowly, toward the front. Why did he wait so long?

The bitterness, grief he once felt was now gone. He wasn't sure how it started, he just remembers the angry words, the slamming of the door, then the silence...painful silence. The scene played back in his mind like a broken record. The anger had filled his very being - how it consumed him. But now all that has changed.

He takes another step, his arm shaking as he leans on the wooden cane preparing to take another.

These last few days transformed him, freeing him from the slavery of the anger and bitterness. The hour spent with his nephew was difficult yet consoling and encouraging. So many tears, so much resentment. He admitted everything, leaving nothing behind. Too many years to review, so much lost time.

Another step closer.

Hearing the words 'I'm sorry' resonated through his mind, then he realized he said those words. Everything was gone. All the anger...dissipated.

He leaned forward, ever so slowly. A tear ran down his wrinkled cheek.

He remembered the hug that seemed never ending. So tight, so long awaited. Too many years away, yet here was with his family. He looked up, his nephew had tears in his eyes.

He watched as his daughter turns to walk back to their seats. He looked into his nephew's joyful eyes.

Another tear of joy. Remembering the prophetic words..."I absolve you." Rejoicing. Freedom! Such immense love. Unending mercy.

Trying to uncurl his arthritic fingers. Once so active and skillful, now found it difficult to hold a fork. His hands reaching, extending, yearning. They formed a small cradle as if to hold a precious jewel. He finally understood - "The Body of Christ."

His soul leaped for joy. Lord, I'm here...I came. We're all finally together again.

Another tear. His whole being rang out in his 'Amen.'

I'm finally home!
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Sunday, March 23, 2008

My Way Sunday
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He is Risen - Alleluia!
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the levees are holding
[where there are levees]
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We are south and west of St. Louis. - off I-44 ... along and near the Meramec river. You've seen it on the news. We've now seen it first-hand - absolutely not the same feeling. We've seen roof tops peeking out of the rushing currents; we've seen the top of baseball diamond back-stops poking up through the swirling ribbons of murky muddy-brown water; we've seen sandbags stacked-up around businesses; we had to take an 6 mile route to get to a church that was less than a mile from our motel - all due to closed roadways.

At Easter Sunday Mass, parishioners were 'thanked' for all those who probably volunteered to help in surrounding neighborhoods that had been affected . The celebrant priest commented that the local mayor had hoped to get about 50 volunteers to help fill sandbags - on day one 500 showed up; on day two a thousand showed up. Christ is risen - indeed!

Keep these people in your prayers.
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is a bongo player actually a drummer?
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Based on information in the parish bulletin, the parish has approximately 1900 families. The Easter Sunday Mass times were 7am, 8:30am, 10:15am, and 12noon [and the Easter Vigil Mass at 7:45pm the evening before]. We participated at the 8:30am Mass -as did, by my guesstimate, about 500 others ... some lined up against the walls all the way around.

The celebrant and Deacon filled their roles ably. The homily by the priest was poignant and concise - lasting less that 10 minutes. They were assisted by 2 altar servers, both male teens. They rang bells during the eucharistic elevations. The two non-gospel 'readers' were women.

The music was led by 2 guitar players, one male and one female [the woman was also a vocalist], another non-musician woman vocalist, and a male 60-ish bongo player/harmony vocalist. He actually was an fairly accomplished bongo player, compared to some I recall seeing elsewhere - and he didn't get 'showy', but played to provide a rhythmic beat to the other musicians. BUT, I felt I was back in the seventies with their selections. No, they didn't play Kumbaya, but there were a lot of peace and shalom entries on their list.

Aside from the song selections, it was still a great Easter Liturgy. The numbers of older parishioners, and the younger families with children, and the middle-aged empty-nesters all celebrating together. I wondered how many of these have been there anytime since Christmas ... then I thanked God because they were there today. Just in case some had not been there since Christmas, the pastor arranged for it to snow during the Mass - this is what we saw when we exited.

HAPPY EASTER - Jesus, the Christ, is Risen - ALLELUIA!
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mea culpa
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A lot of ink and air-time has been expended this past week concerning the speech give by Senator Obama about race relations in the United States. I have heard many comment that it is an excellent oration and contains ideas for all to consider. It is being suggested by some that it is the most important commentary on racism in our country in our history.

My hope is that we, as a people, are able to bury the shame of our racist past under the weight of a new found appreciation of our value as children of the most high God. All of this focus has caused me to confess in a commentary on another's blog about my own shame.
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one of my most heart wrenching memories,
one which carries hurtful shame and guilt,
is one in which i used that 'N' word.
i hurled it towards another young boy -
i was probably around 10 yrs old
he was a couple of yrs younger.
this ugly memory raises its head every once in awhile.
i deeply regret it.
i say a prayer of repentance each time.
i pray it didn't 'harm' the other boy -
but reality tells me that it couldn't not.
i ponder where and when i might have learned it.
ours was a blue-collar community.
my father was a refinery worker.
was it at his knee?
my mother taught us better.
we saw her reach out to lesser advantaged -
regardless of skin color or nationality.
by high-school black friends came to our house regularly.
one, roger, came to our house for breakfast.
he'd ride the public transport bus.
he'd get off at our corner and come in.
we'd eat and walk the two blocks to school together.
i hope the next generation finishes the job.
racism has no place in God's creation.
father, forgive me.
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What is your story? Surely you have one to share.
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He is risen! Alleluia!
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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Any Way Saturday
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On the Road Again
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I will try to get something on later in the day when we check into hotel in St Louis.
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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Cause Way Thursday
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'CLICK' on the > above and rejoice
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from reader Lillian Marie
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Click on this link and enjoy the humor.

Happy Easter ... hope lives
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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Your Way Tuesday
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from reader Lilian Marie
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I recently became an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion for my church (very recently - within the last few months). At first, I was only going to minister to the homebound and sick, but I decided to also attend the orientation for my parish, just in case they needed a substitute.

God has been calling me out of my 'comfort zone' lately and challenging me to defend my faith. This past week I had a dream that greatly disturbed me and shook my faith...

I was distributing the Body of Christ at Mass, standing next to the priest. A man came up to receive and then, opening his hands as to receive, asked for another Host to give to his mother who could not easily walk. I refused to give another to him, but I told him that I would walk back after everyone had received and give her the Body of Christ myself, and he agreed.

When everyone had received, I walked back to the woman and gave her Holy Communion. This made me late for putting the remaining Body in the Tabernacle, now fearing that I would have to do it myself. (In real life, I adamantly refuse to touch or open the Tabernacle. I do not believe that any lay person should touch this Sacred space). As I was walking back toward the Tabernacle, I noticed the floor was wet near the Altar. I realized it was the Precious Blood - on the Altar steps and down on the main floor. I also noticed that people had stepped in it by the footprints and marks on the floor.

I went back into the Sacristy, handed another EMHC my paten, and told the head of the EMHCs about the Precious Blood on the Altar & floor. He immediately started questioning everyone trying to find out who was at fault, all the time referencing the Precious Blood as 'the cup'. I repeatedly told him that it didn't matter *who* did this - that it needed to be cleaned, purified, and the Altar purified. He ignored me and continued to yell, "Who spilt the cup?" (his words). I left him and went to the cabinet, grabbed a large handful of purificators and went back out to the Altar.

I unfolded the purificators, laid them down on the Precious Blood. I tried to cover all of it - then tried to wipe it up. All I could think and say (on my hands & knees) was, "I'm sorry, Jesus. I am so sorry," as tears were running down my cheeks. I said this over and over and over as I tried to clean the Precious Blood from the Altar and floor. The more I tried to clean it, the more that appeared on the purificators and the more that appeared on the floor & Altar - like it was multiplying. There was now so much Precious Blood on the Altar & floor ("I'm so sorry, Jesus" - repeatedly said) that no matter what I did it seemed like nothing much Blood!

I started moving toward the front of the Altar, opening and laying down purificators, trying to get all of Jesus' Blood. The Priest, who saw me, paid no attention to what I was doing and stood up to say the final blessing. I was then at the Priest's feet, wiping up the Precious Blood, all the while saying, "I'm sorry, Jesus. I am so sorry." I heard and saw the congregation laughing as I was trying to clean it all - I felt like the sinner (woman) who washed Jesus' feet with her hair - embarrassed - yet so saddened. They didn't get it! This was Jesus - and they are laughing? I wanted to plead with them, "Don't you see Him? Don't you realize Who this is?" No, they didn't...and when I woke up, my heart was pounding.

My heart has been so saddened these last few days. I am unable to get these images (dream) out of my mind. I question if we, the Church, have veered so far that even WE don't realize Who this is before us at each and every Mass. Do we really believe, deep down in the depth of our souls that this IS Jesus, the Son of God? Or are we so earth-bound in our ways that it is only the bread and cup - only symbols? If we are, how sad! We have, before us, The Son of God, the King of Kings, and through Him, our Father and the Holy Spirit since the three can not be divided.

We have the Heavenly Court with us at each and every Mass! How awesome is that??? And yet, this dream permeates my thoughts...saddens me for all of those who do not believe.
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from uncle jim
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onight our parish concludes a series of adult formation talks. Each Lent and Advent a series of topical talks is presented. The aim is to allow adult parishioners an opportunity to grow in their understanding and appreciation of their faith. This evening's topic is titled 'Endless Possibilities'.

Participants are gathered into groups of 5 - 8 around round-tables. Following each presentation, a table leader / facilitator works at promoting discussion among those at the table. Coming to understand more than they came in knowing is the goal. My take is the people are starving for more and more and more. Yet, having said that, I often wonder why the room isn't overflowing. The sessions have been attracting 40 - 90 people each week. We surely could double that. The rest are busy with other things, I suppose.

This past weekend, I spent time with a group of teen-agers. They were open and hungry for more of the Lord. I fear when they go home their enthusiasm is quickly drowned out by other things - and by parents who are themselves weak in their faith and have little motivation to help their teens grow more. Such a cycle of luke-warmness will perpetuate itself in a downward spiral.

I pray those adults who attend the formation series of talks are better prepared to help someone else in their spiritual growth - maybe their own children. I pray God gives me the words to say.
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Sunday, March 16, 2008

My Way Sunday
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with passion and nosebleeds
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the passion part, from reader Lillian Marie
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Jesus, so much anguish I have caused You these last few days, weeks, months, years because of my sins. Every time I lost my temper, I drove the nail into Your hand. Every time I refused to listen, I gave You another blow with the whip. Every time I ignored my neighbor, I added more weight to the cross You carried. How selfish I have been!

Through Your words, kindness, and love, You showed me my neighbor. Yet in my sinfulness, I ignored them, moved on, said ‘no’. My sins put You on that cross – my sins yelled out ‘crucify Him.’

Lord, You saw all of my failures and sinfulness during Your passion, yet You chose to die for me. You saw every sin that I committed and every sin that I will ever commit, and yet, You freely extended Your arms and legs. You loved me so much that You took my sins and bore them to Yourself. You loved me as a sinner so you could free me from that sin. Saint Paul stated that You, Jesus, took on so much sin into Your pure, innocent, perfect body that it was like God made You to be sin.

Yet, You wait for me in spite of my sin; ready to forgive me with the love only a Father could give. God, You are the merciful Father in the Parable of the Lost Son. You are waiting anxiously for my return; standing at the doorway, watching for me to walk humbly down the filthy, rocky road back to You. As my Heavenly Father, You never stopped, nor could stop, loving me. There is nothing that I could ever do to make You stop being my Father.

As I stumble back to you and humbly confess my sins, You embrace me tightly, joyous of my return, forgiving me of all of my sins. You know that I could never completely atone for my sins, so You sent Your only Son to take these sins from me. You order the banquet of Your divine Son, the Mass, so I can share in Your holiness that I too can become holy. You know that I am weak and can not remain holy, so You give me many opportunities to repent. The Sacrament of Confession, the Confiteor, Kyrie, Gloria, Eucharistic Prayer I, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Invitation to Communion are some of Your ways of keeping me holy at Mass, when I receive You, when I am in a common union with You and the Church.

My Lord, help me to remember Your mercy and Your love as I walk with You in Your Passion and Resurrection.
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the nosebleed part, from uncle jim
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Seats in the nosebleed section refer to being way up in the rafters. Most sports venues have some seats located in the upper stratosphere. Friday evening [6:30 - 9:30pm] and all day Saturday [8:30am - 10:30pm], except for lunch and dinner and bathroom breaks, I sat in a basketball arena up near the pearly gates them selves - I know it was close to the metaphorical entrance to heaven ... the nose-bleed section.

I was with two other adults and a group of teen agers. The loud pounding music and the rhythmic cadence of the evangelistic youth minister preachers took a toll on this old body as I tried to keep up with the energy levels of the teens with whom I was hanging out. I did sleep hard last night.

The kids had a great time, and I do believe learned a lot too. They learned it would take more than being a luke-warm Christian if they were going to have any positive impact on the world around them. They were challenged to jump in with both feet and know they could call on Jesus to help them.

They heard stories that related to the impact the world was having on their generation and what it will take to make their voices heard. They were challenged to use the technology of the day to affect others around them with the message of God. They were challenged to go on to get as much education as they could and to use the talents God was giving them to change the course of our country and our culture in the next 20 - 30 years.

They heard stories of how every action we commit has consequences beyond our visioning. Words and deeds affect people in a succession of layers as trickle-down physics plays a part in the subsequent results of our behaviors. And they heard that they were totally loved by God and were going to used by Him, if they let Him have His way with them.

All of this was crammed into about 15 hours geared to change the hearts and minds and attitudes, and eventually the teen culture these young people encounter everyday. Pray for them. I'm glad I was there with them.
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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Any Way Saturday
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Can you say "BraveHeart"?
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The Catholic population of our county is approximately 2% - you read that correctly, two percent. Most Catholic students in the area High Schools have very few friends who are Catholic, like them. There are several large Evangelical Christian church youth-groups in the area. Some of the Catholic students' friends belong to these groups. As a result, the Catholic students get invited to events of many kinds. It is hard for them and their parents to avoid this. So, I try to be pro-active and get other parents to accompany me and groups of teens so they have adults they can talk to about what they're hearing and experiencing and help them put it in the context of their own belief system.

As a result, ten thousand screaming teen-agers are my companions this week-end as I attend a teen event called Acquire the Fire. It actually started last evening, Friday. There is a lot of evangelical preaching, and several top Christian bands and artists. Pray for me, and hope I find my ear-plugs.
uncle jim
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for your consideration, I offer you this from The Wired Word
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N.Y. Governor Resigns amid Scandal

The Wired Word for March 16, 2008

In the News

On Wednesday, first-term New York Governor Eliot Spitzer announced he was stepping down from the office effective Monday, March 17. The resignation followed the news earlier in the week that he had been identified by an FBI wiretap as a recent client of a pricy prostitution ring, the Emperors Club VIP.

In announcing his intention to leave office, Spitzer said, "Over the course of my public life I have insisted people take responsibility for their conduct. I can and will ask no less of myself. For this reason I am resigning as governor." He added, "I am deeply sorry that I did not live up to what was expected of me. I will try once again outside of politics to serve the common good."

Investigators said that Spitzer was a repeat customer of the prostitution service and may have spent as much as $80,000 on call girls over an extended period.

The claim against Spitzer, while serious enough in its own right, also reeks of hypocrisy since during his time as the Empire State's attorney general, when his crusading methods earned him the title "the sheriff of Wall Street," he shut down at least two sex rings as well. In that role, Spitzer also zealously prosecuted corporate white-collar crime, shady financial dealing and executives who received overly generous compensation. Yet it was his own position of personal wealth that made it possible for him to patronize the up-market sex service.

Spitzer's illicit activity came to light after a bank noticed frequent cash transfers from several of his accounts and filed a suspicious-activity report with the Internal Revenue Service. When the IRS realized the accounts were connected to the New York governor, they notified the FBI, which joined the case to investigate the possibility of government corruption.

As of this writing (on Thursday), Spitzer had not yet been indicted but charges related to either the prostitution or the money-laundering or both are possible. If it is the former, Spitzer could be charged under the Mann Act, which forbids "transportation of a person across state lines for purposes of prostitution." In one instance, say investigators, Spitzer arranged for a prostitute to travel from New York to Washington for their sexual encounter. If it is the latter, which is even more likely, he could be charged with tax fraud. Reportedly, Spitzer paid for his trysts by moving money into a shell corporation set up by the Emperors Club.

Whatever happens legally, however, most observers say that Spitzer's standing is irreparably damaged and that his political career is over.

Many people wonder why Spitzer would have taken such a risk to begin with. He had a reputation as a squeaky-clean reformer who demanded high ethics of others. He was in a very public position of high responsibility. He was a rising star in the Democratic Party, and some had even suggested his name as a possible vice-presidential candidate. He is a husband and father. With so much at stake, why would he engage in behavior with such potentially explosive consequences?

Psychologists, say that powerful people who tempt fate often have a blind spot about the risk, a certain arrogance that makes them think they are beyond reproach and can get away with it. "The very drive that works for them to achieve and accomplish and be successful involves taking a certain risk or living in the fast lane in order to get ahead," said New Jersey psychologist Stanley Teitelbaum, commenting on Spitzer's behavior for ABC News. "That same quality leaves them driving in the wrong lane."

A growing body of research also reveals that people in general have "cold" and "hot" emotional states, and that an enormous mental gulf separates the two. When we are hungry, angry, excited or sexually aroused, which are hot emotional states, we find it difficult to consider the consequences of our behavior. Conversely, when we are not under the thrall of a hot state, we find it difficult to imagine to what extremes we might go to satisfy those drives. In other words, when in a hot state, we tend to be shortsighted, impulsive and unable to give proper weight to the risks our emotions might lead us to take. When in a cold state, we cannot imagine that we might go to risky extremes.

That research would suggest that Spitzer-in-a-cold-state would find the behavior of Spitzer-in-a-hot-state as baffling as do people who thought they knew him and are now flabbergasted at his dalliance with prostitutes.

More on this story may be found at these links:,8599,1721882,00.html,8599,1721492,00.html

The Big Questions

1. Because of his public position, Spitzer had more to lose when he decided to engage in illicit and illegal behavior than does the average person, but should an average person's similar behavior be any less blameworthy? Should Spitzer's position make him more blameworthy? Explain your answer.

2. The hot state/cold state research suggests that when in a hot state, we are more prone to behavior that Christianity labels as "sinful." Should it be considered a mitigating factor when we do wrong under the influence of anger, zeal, lust or similar hot-state emotions? Does that make us any less responsible for our wrongdoing? Why or why not?

3. When someone in a position of public trust falls into the very kind of wrongdoing he or she has publicly fought against, how should we judge his or her former "good works"? In other words, is the good the person has done still good even after that person has done something contradictory or is it only hypocrisy?

4. Some might characterize a person's dalliance with a prostitute as "yielding to temptation." But if a person has no religious convictions (we are not suggesting that Spitzer does not), is that behavior actually yielding to temptation or is it living as an unspiritual person? If that is the case, what forces are there beside the threat of prosecution to keep that person from doing wrong?

5. Are all human beings a mixed bag of good and evil motives and desires, and if so, what are the spiritual implications of that?

6. When we who follow Jesus are faced with a serious temptation to do wrong, how can our faith be employed to help us resist it? How do we receive the help of the Lord?

Confronting the News with Scripture

Here are some Bible verses to guide our discussion:

2 Samuel 11:3-4

"David sent someone to inquire about the woman. It was reported, 'This is Bathsheba daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite.' So David sent messengers to get her, and she came to him, and he lay with her." (For context, read 11:1- 27.)

This is the Bible's description of King David engaging in behavior every bit as bad as what Spitzer allegedly did (and even worse, as David eventually had Bathsheba's husband killed). It is a case of a person in a high position using the resources at his disposal because of his position of public trust to give free rein to his passion. And look at the risk mentioned in just in these verses: He used messengers to bring Bathsheba to him. They must have at least suspected what was up, and there was no guarantee that they would keep their mouths shut. To use the psychological description explained earlier in this lesson, this is David-in-a-hot-state.

Like Spitzer, David paid for his self-serving actions with huge negative consequences.

Questions: Do you think that when David was rising to fame and power, he ever imagined that he would behave as he did here? What steps could he have taken to have prevented him from getting into this tempting situation to begin with?

Mark 14:67-68

"When she saw Peter warming himself, she stared at him and said, 'You also were with Jesus, the man from Nazareth.' But he denied it, saying, 'I do not know or understand what you are talking about.'" (For context, read 14:29-31, 66-72.)

Peter ended up being a great disciple, a powerful spokesperson and ambassador for Christ, and a leader in the early church. But this earlier incident where he denied being a follower of Jesus shows that even moral, faithful people with good intentions can get into situations where they act not on their higher motivations but on lower ones -- fear, in this case.

Questions: How do you think you would have acted if you had been in Peter's sandals? Why?

1 John 2:16

"... for all that is in the world -- the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride in riches -- comes not from the Father but from the world." (For context, read 2:15-17.)

The New Testament often speaks of a dichotomy of life, where what is good comes from God and what is not good comes from the "world." This is a translation of the Greek word kosmos, which originally referred to the creation as the harmonious whole that God created but by this point, refers to the creation as distorted by sin. The world in John's view is both a deluded realm that is enslaved to wickedness and also the theater where God's salvation is enacted. But the values that salvation brings are from God, not from the distortion of sin.

Questions: What helps us detect when we are being swayed by the lure of sin? What counter-measures are available to Christians?

Psalm 1:6

"... for the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish." (For context, read 1:1-6.)

As adults, many of us have come to accept that right and wrong is not as clear-cut as we had thought when we were kids. We've encountered complex situations where the line between right and wrong sometimes seemed blurred. Sometimes we've been forced to make choices, not between good and bad, but between two lousy solutions, neither one of them good. We've come to understand such terms as "the lesser of two evils" and "moral dilemmas."

Against that viewpoint, Psalm 1 presents life in black-and-white terms. It indicates that a person is either good and righteous or bad and wicked, with no category in between. From the perspective of this psalm -- and many other passages in the Bible -- people are either godly or not. There are no fence sitters. And not only that, but the psalmist maintains that the godly will prosper while the ungodly will perish!

Few of us would claim that there are only very righteous and very wicked people in the world. In fact, most of us would be reluctant to put ourselves in either of those categories. But you see where this psalm is going: It's saying that there are some moral absolutes in life, that certain things are always right and other things are always wrong. There is a clarity and absoluteness about the laws of God in this life that we are sometimes reluctant to admit. Yes, there are some things about God's ways that are unclear to us but about the majority of the way God has laid out before us, there is no ambiguity at all.

Questions: How does the biblical view of right and wrong help you steer clear of wrongdoing? How does it help you when you are in a "hot" state?

Questions for Further Discussion

1. Evaluate this statement: "The line between good and evil doesn't lie between 'us' and 'them' but right through the heart of each one of us."

2. What does it mean to say that a person's greatest strength is so often his or her greatest weakness?

3. If instead of patronizing a call-girl, Spitzer had instead chosen a mistress, chances are his political career would not be as seriously jeopardized. Some people would be inclined to say it was a private matter between him and his wife. But should the judgment of him be any different? Should the consequences be any different? Why or why not?

4. If you could ask Spitzer one question about his current situation, what would it be?

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Cause Way Thursday
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Parables of Jesus
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r. John V. at Adam's Ale has issued a challenge - I accept.

He has 'tagged' me and requires that I list my five favorite Parables of Jesus [but note, they are not in any particular ranking or order].

#1 The Shepherd, the Thief, and the Doorkeeper (John 10:1-18)

The Tower Builder and The Warring King (Luke 14:28-32)

The Laborers in the Vineyard or The Generous Employer (Matt.20:1-16)

The Two Debtors (Luke 7:41-43)

The Money in Trust or The Talents (Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 19:12-27)
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Additionally, I present the 'rules of the game' to you.

1. You name your five favorite parables
2. You tag one blogger per parable.
3. It would be nice if you linked back to this post.
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I hereby 'tag' the following:

1. Emily at Where the Sidewalk Ends

2. Sheila at Around the Bend

3. Justin at Thirsty

4. Fr. Kyle Schnippel at Called by Name

5. Jeffery Smith at Back to Damerosehay
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Ladies and gentlemen, kindly follow the rules and allow us your lists.
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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Your Way Tuesday
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put on the whole armor...
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from reader LM
Ephesians 6: 11 - 17
"Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil. For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens. Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground. So stand fast, with your loins girded in truth, clothed with the righteousness as a breastplate, and your feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace. In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all [the] flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God."

Today was the day where Satan showed me just how sly he can be -- trying to get me to veer from the path of God.

Test #1
My director asked us (everyone in my department) to take the Myers Briggs temperment test. We were then going to have someone come to our retreat (this Friday) and discuss the different temperments in our department and how to "get along." Actually, we all work very well together - we all are courteous, helpful, and willing to assist in any way needed in order to get the job done.
At first, it seemed kind of cool and very interesting - trying to see if I changed from my college days. Yes, I had to take this for my bachelor's and master's degrees - both were the same - ENFJ. Taking it again was exciting because I know I had changed but I was unsure in which way - and yes, the results came in - INFJ. To me, this makes sense since I am in the discernment process and I need to be more introverted, relying on God's Word and Love to guide me on my path.
What I didn't expect was how I started reading into the test...reading the INFJ characteristics and attributing these to myself. Wait a minute! What started out as fun & exciting has just taken a sharp turn to the left! Was I now relying on the test results to determine how I would react in certain situations? Define my career choice? I soon found myself questioning the validity of and need for this test. Do I really need something temporal to determine what / how I should act & be? NO! My desires should not be of the earth, but rather for become holy in the Lord! Ephesians 6..."Put on the armor of God."
Test #2:
A co-worker just came back from Asia and brought us all little buddas. What's interesting is that my co-worker knows that I want to join an Order and I am trying to stay strong in my faith (although it is a daily, sometimes hourly battle). When the budda was handed to me, my co-worker asked me not to take too much into it - it's just a trinket from the trip. I thanked her politely and put it on my desk. (mistake #1) At the end of the day, I left it on my desk & went home. (mistake #2) Satan works in very sly ways! On the train on the way home, I was praying for a friend who was having a difficult time preparing for a class. When I got into my car, I remembered the budda and the thought of rubbing the budda's belly will bring good luck. WHAT??? Satan will try any which way to get us to move ever so slightly away from God...once we take that first step, it's so much easier to take the next one and the next one, until we are so far away from God that we can't remember Him or see Him any more.
Every since then, I have been praying, asking God to forgive me...for the slightest doubt I had. How easy it is to be swayed - ever so slightly. Satan masks the evil inside the good so well. We need to keep the armor of God to protect us, without the shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit on and with us at all times. We don't know when, where, or how the evil one will try to attack us, but we need to be ready, with the Word of God on our lips ready for battle.

Lillian Marie

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it'sno big deal
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Fr. V over at Adam's Ale has a couple of posts in the last 3 days about the weather in Cleveland OH. Misery loves company, so I sent my son to join him.

Since last July 4th weekend, our youngest son, his wife, and their now 3 year old daughter have lived a mere one hour and 10 minutes aways from us. They moved to Ft. Wayne IN from the Ann Arbor MI area. Because we are so close, we now get to be used as babysitters. This past FR afternoon, our daughter-in-law drove to our house and dropped off their daughter for my wife to take care of [I was out of town until Sunday attending a conference].

That allowed our son and his wife to leave Ft. Wayne IN on Saturday morning early and head to Cleveland OH. They were celebrating his birthday with a visit to see friends who live in the Cleveland area. Plans included staying at a very nice Hyatt in downtown - visiting the Rock-'n-roll Hall of Fame - eat out at a really nice restaurant.

Their report was that by the time they got into downtown Cleveland, it was already beginning to look like a ghost-town. A foot plus had already landed and more was falling. Plans quickly changed. Winds were gusting over 30mph and sustaining at 25. The Hall of Fame, and everything else around, 'closed-up'. Through Saturday and into Sunday, they became captives. In-room movies were available and a hotel restaurant was open.

By Sunday morning, they ventured onto the streets, went to Mass somewhere, and by afternoon were able to tour the Rock-'n-roll Hall of Fame. They made it back to Ft Wayne several hours later than planned, but sort of enjoyed the adventure ... complete with pictures of drifts taller than they.

Thanks Cleveland!
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unending possibility
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This past Sunday, the fifth Sunday of Lent, John's gospel told the story of Lazarus being brought back to life. This is a story that Matthew and Mark and Luke do not tell. It is the first time in John's gospel that he has Jesus confronting death ... and we read His response to have been marked by sighs and weeping. Jesus was worked-up, perturbed, troubled. He asked His Father to remove this misery and to restore Lazarus to the living.

John doesn't tell the story of the agony in the garden - Matthew and Mark and Luke do. It is there they tell of Jesus confronting death - HIS own. He accepts it and passes through it and onto resurrection.

Death troubles me - and I suspect it troubles most of us. If I could but recall leaving my mother's womb, might I not have been fearful then - fearful of leaving that life behind? Just as surely, I was actually being born into a new life - a new life that is much fuller that that which I had been living in the womb. I wonder how well I will leave this life behind for the next greater and more full experience that awaits me.

uncle jim
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Monday, March 10, 2008

My Way Monday
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mea culpa
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thanks for prayer
have been sick
and out of town and no lap-top
extremely busy
severe head & chest cold
abscessed tooth which i'm still fighting
had to see dentist while out of town
now back home & behind behind behind
not sure which end is up yet
hope to get post of something on tomorrow morn
but i'm still behind and have a funeral to attend tomorrow
a talk to give this coming sunday afternoon
haven't even formulated a topic yet
then another talk to give next tues eve 3/18
i have the topic but am brain-dead on ideas so far
but it will come
i hope

uncle jim

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Your Way Tuesday
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growing up, we didn't have half of this - not even 10% of it
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ver wonder how we go along at all before we got so smart?
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"CLICK" on the above > and see how far we've come
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In case you missed it:
Dawn Eden, pro-life and pro-chastity blogger, and author of the very popular book "the Thrill of the Chaste", appeared on the TODAY show yesterday. The panel seemed stacked pretty well against her, but she kept to her point.
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"CLICK" on the above > and see the match
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Sunday, March 2, 2008

My Way Sunday
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Michigan food anomalies
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What do you do during Lent that is traditional? ...and maybe a little different?
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I was reflecting on Lent and some of the customs that surround it. There are various approaches to honoring the pillars of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Some people traditionally 'give-up' certain foods and activities during Lent. Some people pray certain specific prayers during Lent. Some people have special foods they associate with Lent. Some people have special charitable acts they initiate during Lent.

All of that reflection caused me to remember a traditional food I observed, but never had the courage to eat, when we lived in southeastern MI for several years. Every Lent there were the traditional fish fry dinners at many churches. Some parishes featured something other than fish, though. They featured muskrat.

The area of southeastern Michigan was settled originally by French trappers and their families. There are many, many, many French names in the telephone directory, and on street names, and on towns and villages. One of their favorite meats was to be found in the low water areas of the rivers and streams and ponds and marshes - muskrat.

Muskrat meat is said to taste like rabbit or duck. In the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit, there is a longstanding dispensation allowing Catholics to consume muskrat on Ash Wednesday and the Fridays of Lent when the eating of meat, except for fish, is prohibited. Because the muskrat lives in water it is considered a fish in this case

To this day, many Muskrat Dinners are held during Lent in many of the towns and villages in southeastern Michgan.

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That got me to remembering another unusual food we encountered in the extreme other end of the state - the Upper-Peninsula of the state, most affectionately referred to as the U P. The inhabitants are sometimes referred to as yupers.

The first time I ventured across the Mackinac Straits and visited the U P, I saw signs up and down the highways, and at restaurants in every town, "Pasties served here". I had no clue what a pasty was. You are about to find out.
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Be sure to check out the links.
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"What is a Pasty?".The Cultural Context of the Pasty (yes, the pasty is that important) tells of the history of the pasty:

The pasty came to the Upper Peninsula through Cornwall England. When tin mining started going bad in England during the 1800's the Cornish miners immigrated to America hoping to earn their fortunes in newly developing mines … When the Cornish came to the copper mines of the Upper Peninsula, they brought with them a lot of mining knowledge which the other ethnic groups did not have. The other ethnic groups looked up to the Cornish and wanted to emulate their mining successes. Many Cornish practices were then copied by the other ethnic groups, including the pasty as the standard lunch for miners. The pasty became popular with these other ethnic groups because it was small, portable, was very filling, and could stay warm for 8-10 hours.

This site from Michigan Tech has a number of pasty recipes as well and you can get even more pasty recipes from Tony Wesley. While traditional pasties usually contain potatoes, carrots and meat, you can fill them with pretty much whatever you want.
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Happy eating!
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