View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

updates from the edge

Let's see ...

I'm down 29 pounds. 13 more to my initial goal.

I am still blogging for the local newspaper - even got my first check!

School officials have backed off the "shave your beard" requirement , sort of. The head of the school board said basically that while they would prefer I shave (as all men in their denomination do), and they would like me to think very seriously about it, they are not going to force the issue because I have done a good job. But they still want me to think about it.

They did a benefit performance of my "Robin Hood" play for the school (we had done it at graduation, but not all the folks in the community had seen it). It raised $38,000. Yes, that amount is right.

My grandmother is deteriorating. She was in the hospital again, and it's looking more and more that it has to be a nursing home for good and no more assisted living. Sigh.

Someone suggested I consider the diaconate again. Not possible at this time (grandmother and father, wife and daughters, working three jobs, with another job as Santa in the fall).

I have been working extra shifts at the radio station this summer. Got to interview Senator Chuck Schumer the other day. (Have to keep my pro-life views under wrap at the station. Alas. I would have loved to ask a few pointed questions, but the focus of the day was on protecting chemical plants from terrorists, not protecting the unborn.)

Got a poem published in the latest issue of bottle rochets

your coffee cup
still on the table
half full

My haiku group has a chapbook coming out in September. It will have 6 or 7 of my poems in it.

Did I mention that I lost 29 pounds?

Friday, July 21, 2006

I've got that clerihew bug

TV’s Dr. House
is such a perfect louse
I’d rather trust to fate
than to have him consultate

St. Francis of Assisi
crossed deserts and the sea, see,
to convert the sultan.
He failed, but did inspire Chesterton.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Another clerihew

With Gerald Ford
we never were bored
thanks to the trips
and a few verbal slips.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


My first attempts at Clerihews (Named after G.K. Chesterton's friend who developed the form).

George Bush is a regular fella,
that’s why he said what he said about the Hezbollah.
Of his policies, the word’s also a fit,
because they leave many folks feeling like it.

Condoleeza Rice
seems real smart and nice.
It’s just about her hair
that I really don’t care.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Exclusive diversity

I recently wandered into a Thomas Merton chat room.

I wanted to read about and discuss Merton and his writings.

Instead, I got sidetracked into a discussion about diversity.

Diversity is one of these words whose meaning is being stretched into something it did not initially mean.

Words like “choice” and “gay” have suffered similar fates.

But lest you think this is something new, Western nations in the gilded age referred to themselves as “civilized” when contrasted with Third World lands and cultures they wished to “civilize,” even as they behaved like barbarians pillaging, plundering, desecrating, patronizing, and dismissing those lands, and those land's cultures and traditions.

According to my dictionary, diversity means the “quality, state, fact or instance of being diverse; difference; dissimilitude; unlikeness … variety; multiformity.”

I have no problem with that. In all of creation there is diversity. Animals, plants, even humans come in a wide variety.

But that was not how it was used in the chat room – or how the word is being applied in our society.

Someone had posted a promotion for the Gay Games in Chicago – along with a related event featuring speakers, music and other actions all promoting the gay agenda.

I question why this was being posted in a site devoted to a Catholic priest in which we were supposed to be discussion his spirituality and writings.

Among the comments/responses from others were:

belated thanks for this article which had good links to people from many spiritual traditions and their struggle to help others realize we are not well placed to deny the Almighty's love for diversity.

Those with same-gender affection is a difference in the great and varied ways God has created human beings - an Identity issues, not one of choice or chosen behaviors but simply realization of Reality in all its wonder.

Diversity has come to mean not only the fact that there are differences in creation, but also acceptance and even celebration of those differences as legitimate alternatives.

If we mean race, for example, or the fact that people are male and female, or that some people are born with Down's Syndrome, etc., that's fine.

In this case, though, it’s a code word for accepting homosexuality (and its various permutations) as a viable and legitimate way to live. What they seek is acceptance of it on a moral level.

Now I will accept that some people are born with a predisposition to be homosexual (I don’t want to get into the whole nature/nurture debate here). I also accept that it is immoral to discriminate in many areas against people with this predisposition just because of the fact of the predisposition. I don’t believe they should be denied jobs, apartments, etc. just because they have the predisposition.

But that does not translate into accepting the morality of their actions if they give in to this predisposition.

I don’t believe we should discriminate against someone just because he is an alcoholic, for example. But I believe it would be immoral to accept and condone his drunken behavior if he drinks. I believe further we have a right and an obligation to say that his behavior is immoral.

But the proponents of diversity are going even further. Not only do they want us to accept homosexual behaviors, they want to discriminate against those who for moral reasons are not accepting of this behavior.

A man lost his job in Washington because he referred to homosexual actions as “sexual deviancy.” Then there’s the couple in Deerwood, Minnesota, who had to stop advertising their bed and breakfast and almost had to shut it down because a gay “couple” sued them after they said they could not rent a room to the gay couple (the bed and breakfast continues to run through word of mouth).

Meanwhile, even as the proponents of diversity say we should accept people of every faith – from Muslims to Mormons, with stops along the way for wiccans and practitioners of voodoo – and police depictions of them in the media, they say nothing about the frequent depictions of practicing Christians as ignorant, bigoted, and the object of ridicule. And if those Christians happen to comment on immoral behavior by some of the favored groups, heaven help us!

Diversity is coming to mean “acceptance of what we want to accept.”

It has become a form of exclusiveness.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Weight - and finishing Merton

Down 25 pounds. 17 to go to my goal.

Finished Thomas Merton’s Gethsemani: Landscapes of Paradise. I enjoyed it, and I recommend it.

Nature has always been an important part of my spiritual life. I find God there far more easily than I do in church. Community is important, but I find it easier to encounter God’s presence while alone in the midst of his creation.

"(I)t is God’s love that warms me in the sun and God’s love that sends the cold rain … It is God’s love that speaks to me in the birds and streams." New Seeds of Contemplation

I find it easier to pray when in nature. At church, the prayers seem rote. In nature, the prayers spring forth.

"What miles of silences God has made in you for contemplation! If only people realized what all your mountains and forests are really for!" Seven Storey Mountain

So, read the book. Look at the pictures. Savor it.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Two haiku

morning glories top fence –
my dog lingers over scents
down below

sunlight dances
off puddles in the driveway –
distant thunder

Sunday, July 09, 2006

baptism at Mass (haiku)

baptism at Mass –
mom and female relatives
vacantly chew gum

Morning walk haiku

early morning walk –
all creation gives glory
unto the Lord

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Reading Merton

To go out to walk slowly in this wood - this is a more important and significant means to understanding, at the moment, than a lot of analysis and a lot of reporting on the things `of the spirit.' -- Thomas Merton, Learning to Love

I have been reading Thomas Merton's Gethsemani: Landscapes of Paradise.

The book includes some photos that Merton took and excerpts about nature from his writings, then photos by Harry Hinkle at the Abbey of Gethsemani (with more excerpts by Merton), and text by Monica Weiss, SSJ (from Rochester's Nazareth College, no less).


It makes me want to take a walk in the woods and savor the magnificence of God's creation.

And to take pictures.

And to read more Merton.

I have an affection for Merton. Back in the 1970s when I was struggling with my faith, his Seven Storey Mountain was one of the works that helped to right my spiritual ship.

I highly recommend the book for reading - and for praying.

Thursday, July 06, 2006


(Heiroglyph for beer)

The mouth of a perfectly contented man is filled with beer
. - Egyptian inscription, 2200 B.C.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

I see


Sunday, July 02, 2006

In the green


Green Triangle