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 DownArrow DD's Last update:  December 25th 2014

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DownArrow  December 2014

December 25th: "Christmas" is a compound word originating in the term "Christ's Mass". It is derived from the Middle English Cristemasse, which is from Old English Crīstesmæsse, a phrase first recorded in 1038 followed by the word Cristes-messe in 1131. Crīst (genitive Crīstes) is from Greek Khrīstos (Χριστός), a translation of Hebrew Māšîaḥ (מָשִׁיחַ), "Messiah", meaning "anointed"; and mæsse is from Latin missa, the celebration of the Eucharist. The form "Christenmas" was also historically used, but is now considered archaic and dialectal; it derives from Middle English Cristenmasse, literally "Christian mass". "Xmas" is an abbreviation of Christmas found particularly in print, based on the initial letter chi (Χ) in Greek Khrīstos (Χριστός), "Christ", though numerous style guides discourage its use; it has precedent in Middle English Χρ̄es masse (where "Χρ̄" is an abbreviation for Χριστός). ref. Wikipedia

ChristmasDay    12th Century Nativity of Christ illustration from the Hortus deliciarum of Herrad of Landsberg.
cf. Christmas, traditions, music and Andrea Bocelli's "Angels We Have Heard on High" :

"Angels We Have Heard on High" (in the UK the text of "Angels from the Realms of Glory" is sung to this tune) "Away in a Manger"
"Deck the Halls" (Deck the Hall)
"Ding Dong Merrily on High"
"The First Nowell" (The First Noël)
"Go Tell It on the Mountain"
"God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen" (God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen)
"Good King Wenceslas"
"Hark! The Herald Angels Sing"
"I Saw Three Ships"
"It Came Upon the Midnight Clear"
"Joy to the World"
"O Christmas Tree" (O Tannenbaum)
"O Come, All Ye Faithful" (Adeste Fideles)
"O come, O come, Emmanuel"
"O Holy Night" (Cantique de Noël)
"O Little Town of Bethlehem"
"Once in Royal David's City"
"Silent Night"
"The Twelve Days of Christmas"
"We Three Kings of Orient Are"
"We Wish You a Merry Christmas"
"What Child Is This?"
"While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks"

December 23rd: Dan Mazar *djm of Diaspora Digest offers his Christmas & New Year tidings of comfort and joy :  "Well, it is that time of year again when I can pre-empt the pope with the "Urbi et Orbi" blessing and greeting for Christmastide. I am sure he won't mind and I will not receive a "monitum" from the Vatican. May you all have a wonderful Christmas and New Year. May we all find light and peace at the crib as Francis would have liked. And for you Latin scholars: "Et Incarnatus est". That might make some of us pick up our Latin-English Dictionaries again."  *djm

ChristmasTree   ... and all is Calm & all is Bright...
cf. The Christmas Tree which dates back to the 15th & 16th century in Germany :

December 22nd: "Pope deplores Vatican 'ills' in speech to Curia..."  BBC News Europe reports. Pope Francis sharply criticized the Vatican bureaucracy in a pre-Christmas address to cardinals, complaining of "spiritual Alzheimer's" demanding reform of the Curia and suggested Catholic bishops around the world be given a bigger say in Church doctrine.  (jds)

PopeAndCuria   Pope Francis confronts the Vatican's Curia.
cf. BBC Europe, The Telegraph & The Roman Catholic Curia

December 18th: "Birds 'heard tornadoes coming' and fled one day ahead of time..." reports Jonathan Webb Science reporter of BBC News.  Apparently the Golden Winged Warbler (Vermivora chrysoptera) a migratory bird from Central America (Colombia, Venezuela & Ecuador) that breeds in eastern North America has enough sense to fly 400 miles (700km) out of the way of forthcoming tornadoes thanks to the bird's extremely keen sense of low-frequency hearing. These little Warblers are certainly not "birdbrains" when it comes down to an early warning system of tornadoes. (jds)

Warbler   Golden Winged Warbler (Vermivora chrysoptera), a tornado warning bird
cf. BBC Science News & Golden Winged Warbler :

December 17th: Pakistan's Taliban claim responsibility for a 9 hour long slaughter of 148 people at an army-run school in Peshawar near the Afghan border. Kamran Haider of Bloomberg Pakistan tells what one 16 year old student recovering from gunshot wounds in a hospital said that one assassin "... kept firing for what seemed like two or three minutes and then left ... and came back after a minute or two and started firing on the students still standing.” 138 students were killed, 10 adults and 123 others wounded. The official Taliban excuse was that they targeted the children of military officers because of an army offensive against them last June. (jds)

PeshawarSchool    The aftermath inside Pakistan's Peshawar Army Public School after the Taliban attack...
cf. Bloomberg News by Kamran Haider & the BBC News Asia on Pakistan's school attack :

December 14th: Charlie Rose interviewed Mike Morell, former CIA deputy & acting DirectorMr. Morell clarifies what interrogation methods the CIA was authorized to use, what interrogation methods the CIA was not authorized to use and what were not interrogation methods, like trying to keep people alive instead of dehydrating or starving themselves to death. (jds)

MikeMorellCIA    Mike Morell being interviewed by Charlie Rose
cf. Charlie Rose's interview with Mr. Morell & Michael Morell ..!

December 14th: BBC Europe reports: "Turkey police raid opposition media..."  This battle that has been going on for years between Turkey's President Recep Erdogan and Fethullah Gulen, who is often called "Turkey's second most powerful man" after Erdogan has no end in sight. Mr. Gulen lives in a self-imposed exile here in Pennsylvania while President Erdogan lives in his Palace in Ankara. The two don't get along very well anymore, the proof being that Turkish police are currently raiding all the newspapers & media in opposition to President Erdogan's current government. The importance of Turkey, hinged between the Balkans and the middle east is not only local, but worldwide. (jds)

ErdoganGulen    President Recep Tayyip Erdogan & Fethullah Gulen
NB. Without a subscription some WSJ's articles may be limited to 7 days (ie. Dec.19th) ...!
cf. BBC's NEWS Europe, an interview with Fethullah Gulen, WSJ's article, Gulen's web site & Hizmet (Service) movement:

December 13th: BBC NEWS reports: "Washington DC march: Civil rights protest over US police killings"Thousands of people marched through the US capital, Washington DC, to protest the recent killings of unarmed black people by police. Buses were arranged to ferry protesters from New York and other cities. There were also street demonstrations in New York City today. The march on Washington DC seems to be the culmination of weeks of social unrest & protests. (jds)

WashingtonDC    Protest march on Washington DC
cf. BBC News, Reuters Mail ONLINE & Yahoo News:

December 13th: This week's THE NEW YORKER magazine: "America’s Shame: What’s in the Senate Torture Report..?" by John CassidyMr. Cassidy mentions Waterboarding and other interrogation practices as well as the treatment of prisoners and the impact upon detainees. He also mentions the role of outside psychologists and the justification and disclosures given by the C.I.A (Central Intelligence Agency). There is a direct link to view or download the full 525 page PDF (Portable Document Format) file of "Senate Select Committee on Intelligence" report in The New Yorker's article as well as references to other articles by Amy Davidson & Seymour Hersh. (jds)

TheNewYorker    "America's Shame..." by John Cassidy
cf. Cassidy's NEW YORKER article, Amy Davidson's article & Seymour Hersh on Abu Ghraib:

December 12th: "Pope Francis declines meeting with the Dalai Lama in Rome..!"  reports BBC's Europe News. The Dalai Lama who is in Rome for a meeting of all Nobel Peace Prize winners had requested an audience with Pope Francis. The Pope refused, unlike his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI in 2006. The reason being China seems obvious enough. At first the reunion of Noble Peace Prize winners was scheduled for South Africa, but South Africa refused to grant the Dalai Lama a visa. So the reunion of Nobel Peace Prize winners was shifted to Rome. The Dalai Lama said he was "disappointed at not being able to call on His Holiness the Pope, but he does not want to cause any inconvenience". Politics don't mix with religion, like salt & sugar in the same cup of Italian expresso coffee. (jds)

DalaiLamaAndPope    The Dalai Lama & Pope Francis both held in a bag by China..!
cf. BBC's Europe NEWS, The Hindustan Times, South Africa's Visa row, The Dalai Lama & Tibet :

December 10th: BBC's Environment & Science News reports: "A group of Catholic bishops call for end to fossil fuels"  Many Catholic Bishops weighed in on climate change and against the use of fossil fuels thanks to the United Nations current meeting in Lima, Peru which is attempting to advance a new global climate agreement. Already 195 nations have committed to finalizing a new climate pact in Paris, France before the end of next year, and now Catholic Bishops are getting involved also. (jds)

BishopsClimate   A group of Roman Catholic Bishops don't want fossil fuels anuymore..!
cf.BBC's NEWS Environment & Science and the UN's Climate talks in Lima, Peru:

December 10th: BBC reports: "Russia's Alisher Usmanov to give back James Watson's auctioned off Nobel Prize medal." Alisher Usmanov, a Russian steel & telecoms billionaire apparently purchased James Watson's auctioned Noble Prize gold medal for having discovered the structure of DNA (along with Maurice Wilkins & Francis Crick) to give it back to him. Mr. Usmanov said James Watson "deserved" the medal, and that the 86 year old scientist must have been either "distressed" or forced into selling it. Mr. Usmanov purchased the medal for 4.8 million US dollars and now plans to give it back to its real owner. (jds)

NobelPrizeMedal  Alisher Usmanov & James Watson and their Gold Medal
cf. BBC Europe News, James Watson & Alisher Usmanov:

December 9th: BBC World News reports : "Western countries to accept more refugees" from the Syrian war. The United Nations refugee agency announced that "Western countries have promised to increase the number of Syrian refugees they will accept for resettlement to up to 100,000 over the next few months". The US, UK and most Gulf states did not offer any concrete numbers which the BBC's correspondent said "disappointed" the UN. All together there are around three million Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan while only about 62 thousand have been accepted into western countries. Germany so far has been the most generous of all western nations for accepting Syrian refugees. (jds)

SyrianKids   Little Syrian Kids waiting in a refugee camp for a new home & life ...
cf. BBC Middle East News & Syria's war in Numbers:

December 9th: BBC US News "CIA report details 'brutal' post-9/11 interrogations." Senator Dianne Feinstein said it was time to face the "ugly truth"... The day after the Senator's comments others faced the "ugly truth", including media from around the world condemning the brutal techniques of interrogation used by the CIA that were published in the "unclassified US Senate Report on CIA Detention Interrogation Program". (jds)

DianneFeinstein   Senator Feinstein faces the "ugly truth"
cf. BBC US News Senator Feinstein' s address, the reaction & the 525 page report itself: 

December 7th: Continued Social protests & unrest in some major cities: Oakland, Berkeley, Philadelphia, New York, etc...  The death of Michael Brown in Ferguson along with Missouri's Grand Jury decision not to prosecute the policeman who shot Mr. Brown triggered a rage of events, demonstrations & protests not only in Ferguson, Missouri but elsewhere throughout America from the East to West coast. It is unfortunate that we cannot bring Darrien Hunt, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Ezell Ford, Rumain Brisbon, Trayvon Martin, Bernard Bailey & others back to relive another life. It is also unfortunate that some people are using these young men’s unwanted fates to ignite more social unrest than possibly existed before. (jds)

LostLivesFromPolice  Darrien Hunt, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Ezell Ford, Rumain Brisbon, Trayvon Martin & Bernard Bailey
cf. Above individuals killed by Police or guards and 2014's Policemen & woman killed in line of duty :
Damien Hunt  Michael Brown  Tamir Rice  Eric Garner  Ezell Ford  Rumain Brisbon  Trayvon Martin  Bernard Bailey

December 6th: This week's To The Best of Our Knowledge (TTBOOK.org) examines the short and troubled life of British mathematician Alan Turing. Winston Churchill said of Alan Turing that he had "made the single biggest contribution to Allied victory in the war against Nazi Germany." Turing is also considered to be the father of theoretical computer science and artificial intelligence. Anne Strainchamps & Steve Paulson of TTBOOK.org interview various guests about Alan Turing's rather troubled but brilliant life. (jds)

AlainTuring  ♦ Alan Turing (1912-1954)
cf. TTBOOK.org, The Turing artificial intelligence Test, Alan Turing's work & life and film:

December 5th: This week's THE NEW YORKER: The Quiet German, "The astonishing rise of Angela Merkel, the most powerful woman in the world" by George Packer. Mr. Packer after a brief history of Germany's Reichstag, WWI and WWII to the Cold War, sets the stage for Angela Merkel's rise as Germany's first woman Chancellor. She is said to be "a master of listening" and "lively and funny in private". When young she hitchhiked through the Soviet Union's republics, speaks Russian and when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 walked across to West Germany after having first taken a bath. Soon after in October 1990 when Germany's President von Weizsäcker announced the reunification of Germany, she won a seat in the Bundestag, was introduced to Chancellor Helmut Kohl and became his Minister of Women and Youth, a job she once said "...in which she had no interest". Gerhard Schroder replaced Helmut Kohl as Chancellor in 1998 and Angela Merkel replaced Schroder in 2005. What George Packer adds to "The astonishing rise of Angela Merkel" is all the internal intrigue and how well Angela Merkel aptly faired. Mr. Packer's article reads like a novel, almost too amazing to be true. Angela Merkel's two biggest problems as Chancellor have been the European economy's collapse in 2008 and Ukraine along with Russian. Maybe being the most powerful woman in the world may be due to listening 80% of the time and talking only 20%, as George Packer's article seems to suggest. (jds)

AngelaMerkel  Angela Merkel's portraits taken by Herlinde Koelbl from 1991 and on ...
cf. THE NEW YORKER magazine article "The Quiet German..." by George Packer & Angela Merkel

December 4th: Vatican's Cardinal Pell says he found millions of Euros 'tucked away' in off balance sheet accounts.  Cardinal Pell was appointed by Pope Francis to reorganize the Vatican's rather fussy money affairs & finances, some of which had become outright scandals. The Australian Cardinal had been calling for reform of Vatican's financial system for years, and now with these new reforms in place can openly say that the Vatican cannot go back to the "bad old days". That's almost too good to believe..! (jds)

CardinalPell  Cardinal Pell, the Vatican's wizzard of financial reform..!
cf. BBC's News Europe & Replacement of entire senior management of the Vatican bank last July

December 4th: BBC's HARDtalk interviewed Cornel West. Professor West is an outspoken advocate of the role of race, gender and class in American society. He's a man who says what he thinks with no bones attached. "Race Matters" & "Democracy Matters" are his two most influential books. The BBC's interview by Stephen Sackur of Mr. West was first broadcast Thursday, the 4th of December. A brief 3 minute clip of the interview is available as well as a podcast & an audio download of the complete interview. (jds)

CornelWest  Professor Cornel West being interviewed by HARDtalk
cf. HARDtalk's video clip of the interview, the audio podcast or download and Professor West's life & works...

December 4th: President Putin urges "Russian resilience for hard times"In his annual "state-of-the nation" address, President Putin warned Russians that hard times lay ahead and urged self-reliance instead of dependence upon the government. Of course, he blamed western sanctions and the current low price of oil as the major cause of Russia's economic woes. He accused "Western governments of seeking to raise a new "iron curtain" around Russia. Mr. Putin also called Kiev's Ukrainian revolution of last February and ousting of Viktor Yanukovych an "illegal coup". As for the annexing of Ukraine's Crimea, Mr. Putin considers the peninsula "like a holy land" for Russia. What next..? It is said that the final draft of Vladimir Putin's annual speech is written by the president himself. That certainly comes as a little surprise. (jds)

RussianPutin  Russian President warns of hard times ahead for Russians
cf. BBC's World and Business News & Bloomberg's News on Russia

December 3rd: BBC's Fergal Keane says:  "The ceasefire in Ukraine is an illusion...", yet Russians troops and weapons inside Ukraine are no illusion at all. BBC's Fergal Keane and cameraman Tony Fallshaw, have been to rebel-held territory around the city of Donetsk where the bombing continues. "According to the UN, over1000 people have died since, including scores of civilians. Hundreds of thousands of people have fled the conflict zone; the majority of those who remain are the old, poor and infirm..."  (jds)

BBCKeane  BBC's Fergal Keane reporting from a Ukrainian foxhole near Donetsk
cf. BBC's reportage & Fergal Keane

December 2nd: Stephen Hawking warns "The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race..!"  Professor Hawking, who has ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) is using a new system developed by Intel to speak and write with software from Swiftkey, a firm specialized in applications for mobile telephones & keyboards. Now this is a long way from full blown "artificial intelligence", but very useful nevertheless for anyone who has serious speech or writing problems. As for the end of the human race, now that might happen anytime with or without human or artificial intelligence..! (jds)

StephenHawking  Professor Stephen Hawking's thoughts & words via artificial intelligence
cf. BBC's Technology, SwiftKey & Stephen Hawking, SwiftKey's apps, Professor Hawking & his work...

December 1st: "December gets its name from the Latin word 'decem' (ten) because it was originally the 10th month of the year in the Roman calendar, which began in March... Later on, the months of January and February were created for the monthless period that followed December, and thus became the beginning of the new calendar year." Curious enough, "December starts on the same day of the week as September every year and ends on the same day of the week as April every year." ref. Wikipedia, (jds)

DecemberDukeduBerry  December, from the "Très Riches Heures du duc de Berry"
cf. The Month of December in the Roman calendar, January, February & "Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry" :

UpArrow  December 2014

DownArrow  November 2014

November 30th: Moldova votes today for the 'East' (Russia) or 'West' (European Union). Moldova is a small country with a little over 3 million population located between Romania to its West and Ukraine to its North. Around 78% of Moldova's population is ethnic Romanian and 14% Ukrainians or Russians. In 2014 Moldova signed trade and visa agreements with the European Union much to the displeasure of Russian President Vladimir Putin. So Russia cut off Moldova's supply of natural gas and stopped importing many of the Moldova's main agricultural products such as wine, meat, fruits and vegetables. Therefore, Moldova goes to the polls with no gas from Russia and no exports to send them except displeasure with Mr. Putin's tactics. Sounds kind of familiar, doesn't it..! (jds)

MoldovaTimoftRussianiPutin  Moldova's President Nicolae Timofti vs. Russian President Vladimir Putin...
UPDATE: Moldova election: Pro-EU parties edge ahead pro-Russian rivals:
cf. BBC World News on Moldova, Radio Free Europe & Wikipedia on Moldova :

November 29th: Pope Francis along with the Grand Mufti of Istanbul, Rahmi Yaran visit Istanbul's Blue Mosque.

BlueMosque  Pope Francis & Grand Mufti Rahmi Yaran at Istanbul's Blue Mosque ...
cf. The BBC, Germany's Deutsche Welle, Turkey's Hurriyet Daily News & DDigest Notes
Deutsche Welle Pope's visit to Istanbul
Hurriyet Daily News Pope's visit to Turkey

November 28th: Black Friday: "Ten things you didn't know about Black Friday"...  by Kim Gittleson of the BBC. According to Kim Gittleson and Benjamin Zimmer of Vocabulary.com the term Black Friday in the US dates back 1869 when two gold speculators pushed the price of gold on the New York Stock Exchange. The government quickly stepped in, flooded the market with gold and caused the price to simply put, "crash". That happen on a Friday and became "Black Friday", a name that has been used for various calamities ever since until the mid 1990s when it took on the notion of retailers being in the black (instead of red) thanks to Christmas shoppers and shopping. In 2001 Black Friday became the biggest shopping day of the year according to the BBC's Kim Gittleson. (jds)

BlackFriday  Black Friday : animated & explained in 60 seconds...
cf. BBC's "Ten things to know about Black Friday..." by Kim Gittleson & Wikipedia's Black Friday shopping...

November 28th: Charlie Rose last week interviewed David Martin, National Security correspondent for CBS News. They talked about Chuck Hagel (the 24th United States Secretary of Defense) being "nudged" out the door of the Department of Defense. Apparently there seems to be some strategic waves of discord floating around Washington, DC. (jds)

DavidMartin  Charlie Rose interviews David Martin, CBS's National Security correspondent.
cf. Charlie Rose's interview, David Martin & Chuck_Hagel

November 27th: Thanks to the Internet and Wikipedia, Diaspora Digest is able to enhance and verify many diverse topics that the Digest brings to its readership. The Digest also relies heavily upon the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) given its worldwide presence and journalistic standards of excellence. So on this Thanksgiving Diaspora Digest appropriately renders its appreciation and thanks to both the BBC & Wikipedia for their constant research and excellence. (jds)

Wikipedia  Thanks to Wikipedia & The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)
cf. Wikipedia & The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

November 26th: Happy Thanksgiving from The Diapsora Digest.  ~Gael, *djm & (jds)

Thanksgiving  Happy Thanksgiving from the Diaspora Digest.
cf. Thanksgiving and Sarah Josepha Hale's legacy of making Thanksgiving a National Holiday:

November 25th: PBS's On The Media presents "A special edition that examines the media's reaction to the grand jury decision not to indict Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown." That is the good, the bad and the ugly of the media's coverage after the grand jury decision. (jds)

FergusonOnTheMedia  Ferguson's media coverage after the grand jury's decision.
cf. On The Media's special edition on Ferguson. (Transcripts of On The Media are published on the following Mondays)

November 25th: Pope Francis says "... world sees Europe as "somewhat elderly and haggard".  At the European Parliament in Strasbourg (France) Pope Francis spoke of a need to reinvigorate Europe, which he said has become somewhat comparable to a "grandmother, no longer fertile and vibrant" and "slowly losing its own soul". It seems rather unusual for a pontiff to criticize sovereign states, given that the Vatican is a very unique one itself with enough problems of its own, while the European Union is a far more important & complex conglomerate of 28 member states with a combined population over half a billion people principally of Christian faiths. Sure, there may well be more than a billion Roman Catholics in the world today, but the majority of them live elsewhere than in Europe nowadays. (jds)

PopeFrancis  Pope Francis at (grandma's) European Parliament in Strasbourg, France"
cf. BBC's Pope at European Parliament, European Union & Vatican City..!

November 25th: BBC reports "Ferguson's Worst Riots"  and America's main stream media from CNN to FOX to NBC to CBS and even CSPAN got into the act and spent practically the whole night covering the worst riots yet in Ferguson, Missouri. Isn't it about time our untouchable, main stream media "Hangs down its head and cries..." instead fermenting & broadcasting more violence and disorder in some of our most troubled urban cities. So why not "Hang Down Your Head, 'Main Stream Media'... and cry" instead of dumping more fuel onto the fire of the "worst riots" in Ferguson, Missouri so far..? (jds)

FergusonRiots  Ferguson, Missouri: "worst riots, yet..."
cf. BBC's "Ferguson's Worst Riots" & listen to the Kingston Trio's "Tom Dooley" (1958)

November 24th: BBC's Jeremy Bowen reports diplomats told AP news agency :"... Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal visited Vienna at the weekend, though his country is not formally involved in the talks. He and Mr. Kerry talked in his plane parked at Vienna Airport on Sunday..." Also Jeremy Bowen noted that "Both Saudi Arabia and Israel are also vehemently opposed to Iran acquiring nuclear weapons",  which goes without saying since both Israel & Saudi Arabia probably know more about what's going on inside Iran than most Iranians do themselves..! (jds)

PrinceSaud al-Faisal Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal in Vienna for a talk with US Foreign Secretary John Kerry
UPDATE: "Iran nuclear talks' deadline extended to end of June..."
cf. BBC's UPDATE, Jeremy Bowen's report & Saudi Prince Saud al-Faisal

November 23rd: This week's Radio Inside Europe (Deutsche Welle) :  "Sweden buckles under the strain of refugees", "Russian oligarchs falling out over sanctions", "Iran nuclear talks reach a critical stage", "Mixed feelings 25 years after the Velvet Revolution", "A political earthquake in Romania" and more...  The English version of Deutsche Welle's Inside Europe has internet radio, video, and television emissions which help Diaspora Digest keep up to date on what's happening on the other side of the Atlantic. (jds)

InsideEurope  Iran's nuclear negotiators: Zarif & Velayati looking down from a Vienna balcony
NB. Ali Akbar Velayati is well known as one of Iran's "hardest" hardliners..!
cf. DW's Inside Europe Radio and Video & Iran's two negotiators: Mohammad Javad Zarif & Ali Akbar Velayati :
UPDATE:  http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-30169293

November 22nd: BBC World News reports: "Iran nuclear talks: 'Gaps remain' in Vienna, Austria negotiations".  Iran's Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Javad Zarif said yesterday that there are "no new ideas' on table" and that he had received "no remarkable proposals to take to Tehran". Well that's too bad, but nobody can expect something for nothing not even if they are Iranians. All the so called 5+1 group (US, UK, France, Germany, Russia and China plus the UN) wants Iran to do is abandon making nuclear weapons and be controlled by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Why not..? Simply because Iraq once tried to make nuclear weapons and wasn't controled by the IAEA, then came Syria and now Iran acting like it wants to do the same thing. Maybe it's all a bluff, but if it isn't then other nations in the Middle East are going to follow suit, and quick. And then what..? (jds)

IranViennaTalks  Talks with Iran's Mohammad Javad Zarif in Vienna, Austria evidently going nowhere..!
cf. BBC World News, Nuclear weapons, Operation Opera 1981( Iraq ) & Operation Orchard 2007 ( Syria )

November 21st: US Vice President Biden visits with Ukraine's President Poroshenko & Prime Minister Yatsenyuk on the 1st anniversary of protests that removed the pro-Russian Viktor Yanukovych from power.  Yanukovych came from Yenakiieve, a city in eastern Ukraine's Donetsk province. He was ousted from Ukraine and his presidency near the end of February 2014 and took refuge in his estate at Barvikha, a luxurious Russian health resort near Moscow. Ever since the Yanukovych fiasco, Ukraine's Prime Minister Yatsenyuk & President Poroshenko have been trying to keep their country afloat from being sunk by Russian President Vladimir Putin's torpedoes with little significant help from Europe or the United States. Why..? Possibly because winter is coming and there are valves on all those pipelines that supply Russian gas & oil to Europe. And valves like politics and wars can be turned on or off. (jds)

JoeBiden  Honestly, Diaspora Digest has no idea of what's going on here..!
cf. BBC's World News, President Poroshenko, Prime Minister Yatsenyuk, Viktor Yanukovych & Ukraine's saga...

November 20th: William Frey from BOOKINGS explains "How New Racial Demographics Are Remaking America". In a quick & easy to understand animated video Mr. Frey demonstrates how America will change demographically over the next 40 years with no racial majority thanks to what he called his new book, "Diversity Explosion". (jds)

Demographics  Demographics & today's "Diversity Explosion"
cf. BOOKINGS, Bill Frey's new book "Diversity Explosion" & Home page : :

November 20th: A fungus called "Armillaria solidipes" is thought to be one of the largest living organisms on earth..! Often called "Honey Fungus" or "ostoyae", it appears as large clumps of yellow-brown mushrooms above the ground that actually are fructifying bodies of much vaster organisms under the ground called mycelia, which is essential for the decomposition of plant material. When the US Forest Service wanted to know what was eating up Oregon's Malheur National Forest fir trees they discovered Honey fungus was the culprit. Paul Stamets, an American mycologist in "Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World" wrote: "Mycelium is this the largest organism in the world..? This 2,400-acre (9.7 km2) site in eastern Oregon had a contiguous growth of mycelium before logging roads cut through it. Estimated at 1,665 football fields in size and 2,200 years old, this one fungus has killed the forest above it several times over, and in so doing has built deeper soil layers that allow the growth of ever-larger stands of trees. Mushroom-forming forest fungi are unique in that their mycelial mats can achieve such massive proportions."  (jds)

HoneyFungus  Honey Fungus "Armillaria solidipes"...
cf. Honey Fungus, mycelium, Paul Stamets' "Mycelium Running:..." & other books:"

November 19th: The eventual succession of Saudi Arabia's "House of Saud" ;  King Abdullah » Crown Prince Salman »» Prince Muqrin. King Abdullah appointed Prince Muqrin as "Deputy Crown Prince" apparently to ensure a smooth transition when and if the elder Crown Prince Salam has difficulties assuming his role as king. The importance of Saudi Arabia is not limited to being Islam's custodian of holy sites such as Mecca & Medina or oil production, but also maintaining a balance of power and influence especially over today's radicalized Middle Eastern conflicts in Syria & Iraq... (jds)

SaudiArabiSuccession  Saudi Arabia's line succession...
cf. BBC's "Why succession could become a princely tussle...", King Abdullah, Crown Prince Salman & Deputy Crown Prince Muqrin :

November 18th: "Chicago's Archdiocese gets new Bishop today"  NBC News interviewed ArchBishop Blase Cupich who replaces Chicago's aging & ailing Cardinal George. (jds) & *djm

ChicagoArchDiocese  NBC News interviews Bishop Blase Cupich
cf. NBC's News interview & DDigest's Notes for the Diaspora, Franciscans Á Friends :

November 17th: "Longtime CIA veteran and counterterrorism expert Bruce Riedel details the origins and history of ISIS..." for The BOOKINGS Institution.  This is probably the best and clearest explanation of where the Islamic State of Iraq & Syria (ISIS) came from, how it evolved and what a threat it has become today. Mr. Riedel's animated video travels from Afghanistan to Iraq & Syria, from Osama bin Laden to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. (jds)

BruceRiedel  "The ISIS Threat in Iraq & Beyond" by Bruce Riedel of BROOKINGS.
cf. BROOKINGS The ISIS Threat in Iraq & Beyond, Osama bin Laden & Ali Bakr al-Baghdadi

November 16th: Iran's Most Notorious Soliders, Qasem Soleimani & Hossein Hamadani of Iran's "Qods Force" (Persian: نیروی قدس‎) ie. Niru-ye Qods meaning "Jerusalem Brigade" is a special forces unit of Iran's Revolutionary Guards and responsible for their extraterritorial operations like in Lebanon, Iraq & Syria. Qasem Soleimani reports directly Ali Khamenei, Iran's Supreme Leader. Last August Hossein Hamadani replaced Qasem Soleimani in Syria, and Soleimani went to Iraq. (jds)

IransSoleimaniH.Hamdani  Soleimani & Hamadani, Iran's Most Notorious Warriors...
cf. Al-Monitor's "Dark Knight", Qasem Soleimani & Hossein Hamadani, Iran's "Qods Force" & Revolutionary Guards:

November 15th: Russian President Vladimir Putin was sort of "shunned" at the G-20 meeting in Brisbane, Australia.  Mr. Putin faced some severe criticism from Western G-20 leaders and left the G-20 meeting even before it ended using as an excuse "the long flight home" and a "need for sleep." That's too bad. Maybe he shouldn't even have gone to the G-20 meeting in Brisbane, Australia in the first place since he has been so busy sending Russian troops and tanks to Ukraine's self- appointed rebels. At the same in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi thousands of people have taken part in anti-Russia street demonstrations and protests afraid that Georgia is next in line on Mr. Putin's list for annexation. (jds)

PutinAndG20  President Putin wants to go home & sleep...
cf. G-20's meeting, pictures, Russian Troops & Tanks in Ukraine & Georgian worries of being annexed next

November 14th: BBC Monitoring tells us: "Russia's state-controlled Channel One TV broadcast what it claimed to be a satellite photo of the moment Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was shot down by a Ukrainian fighter jet." Surprisingly enough Russian TV came out with this new satellite photo just one day before President Vladimir Putin joins other world leaders at the G-20 summit in Australia. Obviously Mr. Putin is expecting to face some tough questions over Russia's belligerent activity in Ukraine and the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17. The satellite photo supposedly from someone called George Bilt was quickly judged a "Crude fake". (jds)

RussianRebel  Both Russia & rebel Ukrainian separatists deny involvement in the MH17 crash...
cf. BBC Monitoring: Russia's satellite photo of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 & Crisis

November 13th: Around 3.2 million people have fled from Syria during the war with thousands stuck in refugee camps where mud, potatoes & boredom rule. Lebanon and Turkey each have more than 1 million Syrian refugees, Jordan a little more than 1/2 a million and Iraq plus Egypt about 400 thousand Syrian refugees. More than 20% of Syria's prewar population has fled the country under Bashar al-Assad's presidency and hundreds of thousands now live in refugee camps. (jds)

RefugeeCamp  "Mud, potatoes & boredom; Teenage life in a Syrian refugee camps"
cf. Mud & potatoes in Syrian refugee camps, Syria's Civil War & demographics:

November 12th: European Space Agency's spacecraft Rosetta sent its lander (or probe) Philae to land on Comet 67P (Churyumov–Gerasimenko) at 16:08 GMT. Rosseta, the spacecraft is named after Egypt's Rosseta Stone and its lander Philae named after the Philae obelisk that had bilingual inscriptions that enable Jean-François Champollion to help decipher Egyptian hieroglyphics along with others in the 19th century. This 21st century Rosetta Orbiter with its attached Philae Lander was launched March 2004 and arrived ten years later to orbit Comet 67P (Churyumov–Gerasimenko) in 2014. And today, the 12th of November released its Lander Philae to touch down (with a few bounces back and forth) on Comet 67P. A true European Space Agency accomplishment, to say the least.  (jds)

UPDATE November 15th: "Philae appears to have lost all communication capability, but it is possible that by August 2015, when the comet has moved much closer to the Sun in its orbit, the lander's solar panels will receive enough solar energy for ESA to reawaken it. As the primary battery wound down "the European Space Agency decided to attempt to tilt the lander's biggest solar panel toward the sun a last ditch maneuver that scientists believe may have paid off." Philae project manager Stephan Ulmanec said a few days of sun on the solar panels is all it would take to resume collecting data." ref. Wikipedia

Rosseta  Rosseta & Philae, Launch, Rendezvous & End of Mission with Comet 67P
UPDATE: Astrophysicist Elizabeth Pearson says: "Philae is not dead it's just sleeping..."
cf. BBC's recent Upadtes, Rosetta, Philae & European Space Agency:

November 12th: BBC World NEWS reminds us that: "200,000 people have been killed and 11 million displaced in almost 4 years of war in Syria"not to mention how many people have simply disappeared, been tortured or beaten to death. Shereen Sherif, Yaroslav Lukov and Thom Poole put together a Video & special BBC coverage of Syria's unending civil war. (jds)

SyrianWar SyrianAssad  Bashar al-Assad's tactics
cf. BBC's "Syria's war: Special coverage", 8 things to know about the Syrian conflict and Bashar & Hafez al-Assad :

November 11th: "The 9th G-20 Summit"  is being held this weekend in Brisbane, Australia, on Saturday & Sunday the 15th & 16th. South Africa, Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, The European Union, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, The United Kingdom, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Canada & The United States will be present. Today's G-20 accounts for around 85% of the world's gross product (GWP) and two thirds of the world's population. The idea of today's G-20 (Group of Twenty) came from Paul Martin, Canada's 21st Prime Minister. At first in 1999 the G-20 was only G-7 (Group of 7), then it expanded and contracted to today's G-20. The basic objective of the G-20 is "Building and Sustaining Prosperity", that is international economic & financial prosperity which should eventually boil down to social prosperity. So, we're a long way from home today but certainly improving over the past. A BROOKINGS Think Tank of 20 scholars put together a report on "Growth, Convergence, and Income Distribution" of the G-20, well worth looking at..! (jds)

G-20  G-20's "Growth, Convergence, and Income Distribution"
cf. BROOKINGS report "Growth, Convergence, and Income Distribution", The G-20 & and Canada's Paul Martin: history

November 10th: A suicide bomber of Boko Haram ("People Committed to the Prophet's Teachings for Propagation and Jihad" Arabic: "Jama'atu Ahlus-Sunna Lidda'Awati Wal Jihad") killed at least 47 school children and leaves 79 wounded in Potiskum, (North Eastern) Nigeria.  This radical Islamic organization that considers education other than Islamic sinful & forbidden ("haram") is a threat to Nigera, Africa's most populous country with the highest actual GDP (Gross Domestic Product) on the continent. Boko Haram has killed more than 5,000 civilians since 2009 and abducted more than 500 women and children, including 276 schoolgirls. This monstrosity of ignorance and criminality has to be stopped one way or another. Boko Haram & its leader Abubakar Shekau are a terrible, ugly stain upon the Moslem World and its people of good faith and religion. Wasn't it King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia who said a while ago "cut off the head of the snake"...? The Saudi King must have been thinking of someone else other than Boko Haram's Abubakar Shekau, but this might just be a good second thought for Nigeria, given that the governor Borno in the North Eastern corner of Nigera said: "Boko Haram are better armed and are better motivated than our own troops. Given the present state of affairs, it is absolutely impossible for us to defeat Boko Haram." ref. Kashim Shettima. So, Nigeria needs some help and now, to cut off the head of a snake...! (jds)

BokoHaram  Abubakar Shekau, Boko Haram's leader
UPDATE Nov.11th: Nigeria fury over US arms refusal to fight Boko Haram...
cf. Nigeria fury over US arms refusal, Boko Haram & Who they are, their history & what "haram" means...

November 9th: "This week's "To The Best of Our Knowledge" (TTBOOK.org) talked with Stephen Marche, author of "How Shakespeare Changed Everything."  Stephen Marche tells PBS's Anne Strainchamps why he thinks Shakespeare "...is the most important figure in history who influenced everything from starlings to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln..." (jds)

Shakespeare  Stephen Marche & "How Shakespeare Changed Everything"
cf. This weeks To The Best of Our Knowledge, Stephen Marche & his book, "How Shakespeare Changed Everything"

November 9th: "To Kill a Sparrow" by Zohreh Soleimani  is a half-hour documentary that debuted at 2014's European Independent Film Festival also featured in the International New York Times. Zohreh Soleimani, Iranian by birth and photojournalist and documentary filmmaker by profession visited Badam Bagh prison near Kabul, Afghanistan. There she interviewed a young woman named Soheila who refused to be married to an older man against her own will. So she ran away, fell in love with younger man, had a child and was imprisoned for “moral crimes” by a traditional, male-dominated Afghan tribal society that denies many women the right to self-determination. The film mainly in Persian (Farsi) is transcribed into English captions and rather troubling to our western concepts of woman's equality and liberty. (jds)

ToKillaSparrow  "To Kill a Sparrow" by Zohreh Soleimani...
cf. Zohreh Soleimani & "To Kill a Sparrow" & her photos

November 9th: The Berlin Wall, before & after 1989.  No one has to climb it anymore for a breath of fresh air or liberty. It's gone with the wind and the rummage of history...!  (jds)

BerlinWallBerlinWall2014  The Berlin Wall's 25 years.
cf. The Rise and Fall of The Berlin Wall & reunification of Germany:

November 8th: Helmut Kohl, Former Chancellor of Germany & Mikhail Gorbachev, Former President of the Soviet Union helped bring about the end to the Cold War and reunification of Germany...  Today Mikhail Gorbachev warns of a 'new Cold War' to tarnish Sunday's 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall saying that the West has "succumbed to triumphalism". There's a bit of truth in Gorbachev's words for how many times have we seen and heard President Regan saying "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall" at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate or JFK's " Ich bin ein Berliner". Far too many times because what really tumbled the wall were two men, Kohl & Gorbachev along with millions of others living under a lack of economic and social prosperity...  (jds)

HelmutKohlMikhailGorbachev  Chancellor Khol & President Gorbachev, two men and one united Germany today..!
cf. The BBC's World NEWS, Helmut Khol & Mikhail Gorbachev, The Berlin Wall and Germany's reunification:

November 7th: BBC World NEWS announces: "Huge raid to shut down 400-plus Dark Net sites"  Now what's a "Dark Net" other than a network that's dark and can't be seen, except that some were recently  seen & caught for selling illegal stuff including drugs and weapons by a joint operation of 16 European countries and the US. Dark Net (Darknet or Deep Web) are about encryption and passing the ball from one computer to another to avoid being seen or located. It's kind of like playing musical chairs with data on computers instead of chairs. You never know where everything is until the game is over and you get to see something. Maybe the best and simplest explanation of "Darknet" seems to be on Tumblr's blog. (jds)

DarkNet DarkNetSized Dark Net & The Police...!
cf. BBC's World NEWS, Darknet's blog on Tumblr & Wikipedia on Yahoo's Tumblr :

November 6th: The Wall Street Journal reports President "Obama Wrote Secret Letter to Iran’s Khamenei..." What next...? Should we invite Khamenei to the White House for dinner or should Iran's Supreme Leader invite President Obama to Iran for a "Chelo Kebab" luncheon...? Who knows..? All I know is that Iran's Supreme Leader is supposedly not very good at answering his mail. That shouldn't surprise anybody because it's a little bit beneath Ali Khamenei's dignity and pride to be writing letters to the so called "Great Satan". (jds)

AliKhameneiPresidentObama  Two heads of state entangled in a dilemma neither wanted ..!
NB. Referencing to WSJ's articles is limited to Nov.14th (7 days) without a subscription..!
cf. The Wall Street Journal's article by Jay Solomon & Carol Lee and the BBC's World NEWS :

November 5th: The day after 2014's Midterm election:  "But what does it all cost...?" John Hudak & Grace Wallack calculated for BROOKINGS the amount of money the top ten spending states spent on Senatorial elections. North Carolina on top at 79 million, then comes Colorado, Iowa, Virginia in 2012 & Wisconsin in 2012, Alaska, Arkansas, Ohio, Kentucky and New Hampshire, which roughly adds up to +/- 498 million or nearly 1/2 if not more than a billion dollars, since one might well imagine not all campaign funds and contributions are properly accounted for and there are more than 10 states in the United States. Whatever, it's an expensive business running for the US Senate (jds).

SenateCosts  Running for the US Senate sure looks like a costly affair..!
cf. BROOKINGS Senate race costs:  BOOKINGS_StateSenateCosts

November 4th: America's midterm Elections & Karl Popper's "The Open Society..." Karl Popper's "The Open Society and its Enemies" was a critique of historicism and defense of an open society or liberal democracy. The first volume was subtitled "The Spell of Plato" and second volume "The High Tide of Prophecy: Hegel, Marx, and the Aftermath". Even though the two volumes were written nearly 70 years ago today they may well seem more pertinent to America's present political and social situation than what the main stream media continuously produces and promotes. Now, Diaspora Digest tries (not very well) to stay out of and away from politics, but it should be noted that Karl Popper was a very unique philosopher who turned the whole history of philosophy upside down to the disdain many traditional thinkers, and that has had some important consequences on the way some of us think instead of sitting around in Plato's cave watching shadows on walls or trying to figure out what René Descartes' "Cogito ergo sum" adds to mankind or the universe wherein we live. (jds)

KarlPopper  Karl Popper (1902 - 1994) & "The Open Society and its Enemies" (1945)
cf. "The Open Society...", Karl Popper , The University of Stanford on Karl Popper & BOOKINGS "How to Watch the Election Returns..." by William Galston...

November 4th: Iran's Tehran celebrates 1979's fall of the US Embassy. After having released 13 women and African Americans in mid November 1979 and one seriously ill man in July 1980, the remaining 52 US Embassy hostages were held captive during 444 days until January 1981. Today's hardline Khomeini & Khamenei Iranians tend to glorify the taking hostages from 1979's "Great Satan" Embassy in Tehran, yet not too long ago many Iranians were chanting from Tehran's roof tops "Death to the Dictator", meaning Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei instead of "America". Also curious enough, Iran's national Hostage taking holiday falls exactly on Day of Ashura, which commemorates The Battle of Karbala 1,334 CE years ago. For Shia Islam this is a day of grief and mourning while for Sunni Muslims a day of victory & celebration, which might well help explain what's going on in the Middle East between a handful of different countries and religious traditions today. (jds)

USEbassyHostages Tehran celebrates 1979's US Embassy's National Hostage Holiday & mourns Ashura, The 680 CE Battle of Karbala.
cf. IranWire, BOOKINGS' Suzanne Maloney, US Embassy Hostages, Ashura & The Battle of Karbala

November 3rd: Alexander Zakharchenko, the self-declared prime minister of Donetsk beocmes President of the new People's Republic of Donetsk..! Sounds kind of "deja vu" familiar, doesn't it..? Didn't something like this happen to Ukraine's Crimea last February...? (jds)

Alexande Zakharchenko Some of new President Zakharchenko's body guards sure look more like Russians than Ukrainians...
cf. BBC's NEWS Europe, Ukrainian President Poroshenko's reaction to the Donetsk election & the Crimean crisis last February:

November 2nd: This week's "To The Best Of Our Knowledge" (TTBOOK.org) remembered Rachel Carson, "...an American marine biologist and conservationist whose book "Silent Spring" and other writings are credited with advancing the global environmental movement..." ref. Wikipedia by (jds)

RachelCarson  Rachel Carson (1907-1964)
cf. TTBOOK.org Rachel Carson and her life & works:

November 1st: This week's "Inside Europe" (Deutsche Welle) does not seem very optimistic about Ukraine's future, the upcoming vote of Spain's Catalonia for independence or Turkey's attitude towards IS (Islamic State) and Kobane. On the brighter side of the week, Inside Europe celebrates along with Sir Nicholas Winton "The Order of the White Lion" that he received in Prague this week and the legacy of Wales' most famous poet, Dylan Thomas. (jds)

UkrainePoroshenko  Inside Europe's somewhat gloomy & bright week....
cf. Deutsche Welle's "Inside Europe", Ukraine, Spain, Turkey, Sir Nicholas Winton & Dylan Thomas

November 1st: This week's "ON THE MEDIA" touches upon the Internet's PANIC button... Needless to say everyday the Internet is bombarded with outrageous junk spanning from beheadings to child pornography, animal cruelty, illegal rackets or whatever of unimaginably and unspeakably bad taste. This gave rise to what is called "Content Moderators" who examine and advise important internet media outlets such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc. on the quality and/or depravity of many their videos, pictures or comments. The majority of this scanning for bad taste is down in the Philippines says Adrian Chen, a freelance writer who has written for the New York Times, Wired Magazine, the Gawker and other publications. On The Media's Brooke Gladstone interviewed Mr. Chen about these internet's "Content Moderators" and what a difficult and rather thankless job they have sparing us internet surfers from so much outrageous trash. NB. "Content Moderators" & the Internet are a rather touchy subject when it comes down to Freedom of speech, yet abusing women & children or ruthless executions are crimes, not at all worthy of world wide web diffusion or entertainment. (jds)

InternetContentModerators  The "Panic" button of "Content Moderators" who have weed out all the Internet's awful trash...
cf. PBS's On The Media & freelance writer Adrian Chen

UpArrow  November 2014

DownArrow  October 2014

October 31st: Halloween: "According to many scholars, All Hallows' Eve is a Christianized feast initially influenced by Celtic harvest festivals, with possible pagan roots, particularly the Gaelic Samhain"  Samhain is the Gaelic harvest festival that marks the end of fall and beginning of winter, that is the "darker half" of the year. It is celebrated between autumn's equinox and winter's solstice from sunset the 31st of October to sunset the 1st of November. Traditionally "All Hallows' Eve" is all about having fun, good humor and doing ridiculous stuff to throw at and frighten away the fear of death. Pumpkins were for jack-o'-lanterns or will-o'-the-wisp dating back to the 17th century. Trick-or-treating or "guising" dates back even further to the Middle Ages' tradition of souling or soulers when mostly children and the poor went from door to door seeking little round cakes called a soul cake during All Hallows' Eve. ref. Wikipedia by (jds)

Pumpkins  Halloween's "All Hallows' Eve"
cf. Halloween's past, jack-o'-lanterns, Trick or Treating, souling, soulers & soul cakes:

October 30th: "Why Oil Prices Went Down So Far So Fast..?"  Simple, Bloomberg's Isaac Arnsdorf says Saudi Arabia..! Mr. Arnsdorf contends that Saudi Arabia instead of reducing supply and increasing prices decided to do the inverse, that is increase supply and reduce prices. Why..? To hold and increase its market share of crude oil exports to Asia. Basically speaking Saudi Arabia has launched a price war and is taking on the rest of the world's oil producers to try to do better (ie. cheaper). And so far no one has done much better or cheaper than Saudi Arabia, except those of us who still pull up to a gas station pump for some more gasoline or maybe even a lottery ticket. (jds)

Gasoline Price at the pump a little cheaper thanks to Saudi Arabia
cf. Bloomberg's Isaac Arnsdorf & Tom Randall on the cost and price of oil & Petroleum's history and use:

October 29th: Iraq's Kurdish Peshmerga fighters enter Kobane, Syria.  The Kurdish word "Peshmerga" means "those who confront death". Some 150 Iraqi Kurdish Pshemerga fighters have arrived at the Turkish border crossing to Kobane, Syria and ten crossed over the border to evaluate the situation in Kobane. Mark Urban of the BBC said 2 weeks ago that:"1) Kobane is not "strategically" important, 2) Both IS and the Pentagon chose to fight there for propaganda reasons, 3) Geography has been critical (for worldwide media attention), 4) By concentrating in one area, IS gives its enemies the opportunity to kill them and 5) By distracting IS from the battle in western Iraq, it is in the coalition's interest to keep Kobane going for as long as possible." Mark Urban also goes on to say that: "The primary importance of Kobane, a town populated by Kurds on the border with Turkey, lies in the scale of human misery that the battle and its displacement of 250,000 people has created." ref. Mark Urban by (jds)

 PeshmergaArrives  Iraq's Kurdish Peshmerga fighters arrive & enter Kobane, Syria.
cf. BBC World News, Mark Urban's Oct.16th article and film & the Kurdish Peshmerga

October 28th: PBS's FRONTLINE examines what went wrong in Iraq...?   Lots went wrong in Iraq which explains "The Rise of ISIS"...!  (jds)

FrontlineISIS  Frontline's "The Rise of ISIS" ...
cf. PBS's FRONTLINE "The Rise of ISIS" & unfortunate collapse of Iraq:

October 27th: Russia to recognize Ukraine's rebel vote in Donetsk and Luhansk..!  Here we go again. Not only did Ukraine's eastern rebels end September's ceasefire before Ukraine's parliamentary elections last Sunday, which overwhelming supported President Poroshenko & Prime Minister Yatseniuk political parties, but they also smuggled an ancient Russian showbiz star and crooner named Iosif Kobzon into the country to hold a pro-rebel concert in Donetsk, Monday the 27th. Looks like the stage is being set for part III of the Russian Ukrainian conflict and the rest of the world doesn't seem to be buying many tickets to the show. (jds)

Rebels  Donetsk's rebel leader Alexander Zakharchenko singing a Russian song...
cf. BBC's World News, Yahoo News, Aljazeera & Alexander Zakharchenko

October 26th: Charlie Rose interviews E.O. Wilson whose new book "The Meaning of Human Existence" is a giant step towards the origin and future of mankind. Professor Wilson, one of the world’s most distinguished biologists and naturalists sites 5 basic disciplines that will change the concept and meaning of human existence within the near future: 1) evolutionary biology 2) brain science 3) paleo anthology & archeology 4) artificial intelligence and 5) robotics. Furthermore, he says "... history makes no sense without prehistory" and "prehistory makes no sense without biology". Therefore "human existence is the result of a "long series of evolutionary and cultural events... that lead up to what and where we are today. So, then let us consider that human beings are above all a biological species in a biological world and that we live in a razor thin layer of an atmosphere within which life can exist to which we as a species are exquisitely well adapted. So it's when we get this understanding of where we are and what we are and where we came from we will be better prepared to decide where we are going..." ref. E.O. Wilson by (jds)

EOWilson MeaningExistence   E.O. Wilson & The Meaning of Human Existence
cf. Charlie Rose's interview, "The Meaning of Human Existence" & E.O. Wilson's vast accomplishments...

October 25th: This week's NPR "On The Media" hosted by Bob Garfield  takes on the main stream media's obsession with a possible, however improbable outbreak of Ebola in America. Mr. Garfield has a lots of fun "On The Media" making a fool out of our main stream media's Ebola fear mongering machine. Possibly too many people have seen and took serious Dustin Hoffman, Rene Russo, and Morgan Freeman in 1995's "Outbreak" film where a fictional Ebola-like virus called “Motaba” becomes airborne and causes havoc in a small imaginary western coast town called Cedar Creek. Curiously enough, at the same time the movie was being filmed there was actually an outbreak of Ebola in Zaire with around 250 deaths or 81% of those infected with the virus. Of course it wasn't "airborne" at all as in the movie "Outbreak". So, maybe catching Pneumonia or Influenza here in America is a little more risky than catching Ebola or Warner Brothers "Outbreak" Motaba virus. (jds)

EbolaNonsense  Proud nurses from the Presbyterian hospital in Texas aren't afraid of Ebola...
cf. NPR's "On The Media", Ebola & "Outbreak"

October 21st:  Jim Zangs writes our good friend Andy Knoell died of cancer the 20th of October.

AndyKnoell  ♦ Andrew Knoell (1941 - 2014)
cf.  DDnotes for the Diaspora, Franciscans & Friends

October 20th: "Catholic Synod Highlights Divisions, Sets Stage For Future Battles" says Sylvia Poggioli, NPR's European Correspondent from Rome, Italy. "Sylvia Poggioli is senior European correspondent for NPR's international desk covering political, economic, and cultural news in Italy, the Vatican, Western Europe and the Balkans. Poggioli's on-air reporting and analysis have encompassed the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, the turbulent civil war in the former Yugoslavia and how immigration has transformed European societies..." and she "...has traveled to France, Germany, United Kingdom, The Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Sweden, and Denmark to produce in-depth reports on immigration, racism, Islam, and the rise of the right in Europe." ref. NPR (National Public Radio)

SylviaPoggioli  NPR's Rome correspondent, Sylvia Poggioli
cf. NPR's Morning Edition & Sylvia Poggioli

October 18th: The Wall Street Journal reports German Chancellor Angela Merkel's disappointment with Russian President Vladimir Putin after having spent hours jointly talking about Crimea, Ukraine's present eastern conflict, its unsuccessful cease-fire agreement and Russia's scheduled natural-gas deliveries and prices to Ukraine and Europe.  No wonder President Putin after a 2 1/2 hour long and fruitless discussion with Chancellor Angela Merkel wanted to get away and jumped into limousine flanked by a large police escort and went to see his old friend Silvio Berlusconi until 3.00 AM local time. One might well wonder if Silvio Berlusconi at 82 is still up to throwing “bunga bunga” parties for his good friends. (jds)

PutinMerkel  President Putin & Chancellor Merkel don't seem to have seen eye to eye in Milan, Italy
cf. BBC News: President Putin and Chancellor Merkel's "No breakthrough talk" & The Wall Street Journal's Berlusconi visit.

October 17th: The Vatican's III Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops: Pope Francis called this Synod of Bishops together to deal with "The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization." However it is touching on some real challenges to the Catholic Church's traditional teachings on faith and morals.  (jds)

PDFdownload  Vatican's III Extraordinary Synod of Bishops

TheSynod  Pope Francis & The Pastoral Challenges of the Catholic Church
cf. The Boston Globe's CRUX (Covering all things Catholic), NYT's "Debating God" by Gary Gutting, Pope Francis & the Synod:

October 16th: Robert G. Kaiser who retired recently after a long career as reporter and editor of The Washington Post put together a BROOKINGS Essay entitled "the Bad News About the News" in which he examines "... a changing media landscape that threatens not only traditional news, but the future of democracy."  Mr. Kaiser quotes Thomas Jefferson's prized remark “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.” and Daniel Patrick Moynihan's saying that "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts."  (jds)

BadNews  Robert G. Kaiser's "the Bad News About the News"
cf. Mr. Kaiser's Essay & career at The Washington Post:

October 15th: BBC News reviews "The Islamic State conflict" in Syria & Iraq, which is somewhat a mixed bag of some good and bad news... (jds)

BBCnews  BBC News reviews "The Islamic State conflict"
cf. BBC's review of the Islamic conflict & latest news in Kobane, Syria:

October 14th: Sheikh Aws al-Khafaji says "We don't need an American dog to fight a Daesh (Islamic State) cat"   First of all the Arabi title Sheikh is given to a royal male at birth ("Sheikha" to a female) and secondly the word "dog" (sag in Farsi & Kalb in Arabic) is often used as an outright insult. Lastly, Sheikh Aws al-Khafaji is the leader of the Al-Abbas Brigade, one of Iraq's most powerful Shi'a militias with strong connections to the Mahdi Army, Syria, Hezbollah & Iran. (jds)

SheikhKafaji  Sheikh Aws al-Khafaji of the Al-Abbas Brigade
cf. BBC News Middle East, al-Khafaji's Al-Abbas Brigade & Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army

October 13th: Amensty International published a PDF document entitled "Absolute impunity Militia rule in Iraq".  This 28 page document sites examples of Shi'a militia torturing and/or executing Sunnis residents in Iraq's Anbar province. The 4 active Shi'a militia groups mentioned are: Badr Brigades, Mahdi Army, Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq & Kata ib Hizbullah all of which have had very strong historical ties to Iran. (jds)

AmnestyInternational  Amnesty International: "It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness"
cf. Amnesty's "Absolute impunity..." and Amnesty International's home page & history..

October 12th: This week's "On The Media" with Brooke Gladstone examines Ebola's epidemic (facts & fiction) as well as how the international press tends to treat Israel & Palestine.  Rodney Sieh, a Liberian journalist talks about Ebola, "the story that could cost you your life", and Ethan Bronner & Matti Friedman discuss how Israel and Palestine (Gaza) are treated by the International press. Both stories reveal somewhat how out of whack the main stream media often seems to be...! (jds)

BrookeGladstone  On The Media's talented Brooke Gladstone
cf. This week's radio "On The Media" & program description...

October 11th: Dr. Gary Kobinger may well have given hope to NOVA's "SURVIVING EBOLA". This is a fantastic, well presented and detailed story dating back to 1976's first Ebola outbreak (named after the Congo's Ebola River) up until most recent success of an experimental drug called "ZMapp" that Dr. Kobinger helped design. (jds)

DrGaryKobinger  Dr. Gary Kobinger of Canada's National Microbiology Laboratory.
cf. NOVA's "Surviving Ebola", NPR's Drug (ZMapp) Saves Monkeys With Ebola & Canada's National Microbiology Laboratory

October 11th: Russian President Vladimir Putin orders troops stationed near Ukraine's border to return to their bases (again..!) This latest move (or ruse) just happens to come before a planned meeting of President Putin & Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko at the upcoming Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) summit in Milan, Italy on Friday October 17th. Odds are not very good given that Mr. Poroshenko told reporters: "I don't expect the talks will be easy..." and "Russia's role in the issue of providing peace... is difficult to overestimate...", which seems to be a polite way of saying practically "impossible". (jds)

RussianTanks  Russian tanks & soldiers supposedly on their way back home again...!
cf. BBC World News, The Guardian & Bloomberg News:

October 10th: This week's Deutsche Welle radio Inside Europe   discusses "Why are so many young women joining the jihad...", why "Cyprus keeps a wary eye on developments in Lebanon...", how "A Spanish nurse becomes Europe's first Ebola victim...", how "Vienna's changing religious landscape...", and "The Vatican synod...", women priests & more...  Curious enough, lots of these young girl jihadists come from Europe, especially France and often end up rather disillusioned by their male Islamic State (Daʿesh) counterparts... (jds)

WomenJihadists  Young female jihadists joining ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq & Syria or "Daʿesh" in Arabic)
cf. Deutsche Welle's Inside Europe & what is known as "Sexual jihad"

October 10th: BROOKINGS recently assembled a very detailed review entitled "The ISIS Threat in Iraq and Beyond"  by various Brookings experts specialized in foreign relations and international conflicts. It is extremely well presented and easy to access, and therefore highly recommended for those of us concerned about what our nations are doing to stop this terrible threat to civilizations in the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere.  (jds)

ISISthreat An ISIS soldier of fortune dressed in black...
cf. BROOKINGS "The ISIS Threat in Iraq and Beyond..."

October 9th: Turkey evidently doesn't want anything to do with the Kurdish city of Kobane in Syria under siege by ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq & Syria).  Turkey already has its hands full with thousands of Kurdish refugees who fled from Kobane last week as well as with its own Kurdish population that took to the streets the last few nights in many major cities to protest the government's blatant and undisguised indifference towards the siege of Kobane by ISIS. Rumor also has it that Turkey has been doing "business" with ISIS on the side, which is not very well received by many Turkish people, especially Kurds. (jds)

TurkeyAKP  Yasin Aktay, Vice Chairman of Turkey's governing AKP ( Justice & Development ) party.
cf. BBC World News about Kobane & Turkey's governing AKP (Justice & Development) Party

October 9th: BBC World News reports IS (Islamic State of Syria & Iraq) pushes hard against Kobane, Syria as the US & UK warn that air strikes alone cannot save the city.  Then what or who can save the Kurdish city of Kobane form being overrun by a band of barbaric fanatic radicals other than real, live combat soldiers on the ground in Kobane instead of in their barracks...? (jds)

Kobane  IS (Islamic State of Syria & Iraq)  moves in on Kobane, Syria from the east, south & west.
cf. BBC World News on the battle of Kobane, Syria (UPDATED Oct.16th)

October 8th: Charlie Rose interviews Leon Panetta whose new book entitled "Worthy Fights: A Memoir of Leadership in War and Peace" has caused some ripples in the media & press...  (jds)

LeonPanetta  ♦ cf. Charlie Rose's interview with Leon Panetta
cf. The Charlie Rose interview, a "Worthy Fights: A Memoir... & Leon Panetta's life of service...

October 7th: The BBC reports: "Kurds protest against Turkey as IS advances on Kobane...", which shouldn't be too much of a surprise given the long and troubled history of the Kurdish people in Turkey, Syria, Iraq & Iran. At one time or another they have been pounded into ground by each one of the 4 nations where today approximately 30 to 35 million Kurds try to reside in peace. Kurds are an ancient Indo European people as ancient, if not more than their Turkish, Syrian, Iraqi and Iranian masters. A few days ago Kemal Kirisci of the BROOKINGS Institution published an article entitled "Turkey’s ISIL Dilemma: To Fight or Not to Fight" which explains why today's BBC reports: "Kurds protest against Turkey as IS advances on Kobane (Syria)..." (jds)

KurdishKids Little Kurdish Kids looking out & waiting upon the rest of the world...
cf. The BBC, Kemal Kirisci BROOKINGS' article & Kurdish people & history:

October 6th: NOVA "Surviving Ebola" This week on your local PBS station, (Wednesday, October 8th). Africa's Ebola epidemic threatens to spiral out of control this time due to the fact that it has entered high population environments unlike precedent occurrences and since 2013 has already journeyed from Guinea to Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and the Congo. (jds)

NOVA  NOVA "Surviving Ebola", Wednesday October 8th
cf. PBS's NOVA, FRONTLINE & List of Ebola Outbreaks:

October 5th: THE WALL STREET JOURNAL's authors Qasim Nauman & Saeed Shah have kept up with the alarming rise of Polio in both Pakistan & Afghanistan ever since 2012.  The cause isn't a lack of vaccine or health care workers & providers, but utter stupidity, unfathomable ignorance & religious nonsense mostly within the tribal (Pashtun & Taliban) regions of Northwestern Pakistan (Waziristan & Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa) and Eastern Afghanistan... (jds)

Polio  Polio vaccinations & endemic in Pakistan & Afghanistan
NB. Referencing to the WSJ's articles is limited to Oct. 12th (7 days) without subscription..!
cf. Qasim Nauman & Saeed Shah WSJ's articles and Polio:

October 4th: Cheryl & Jack Bartz wish a Happy St. Francis feast day to the Diaspora, Franciscans & Friends,  and forwarded "The following hymn was made available for Morning Payer. Perhaps it may offer fitting praise to St. Francis."

Faithful image of the Savior,
Poor and humble in Christ’s way,
Let us sing of good Saint Francis,
Heartfelt homage let us pay!
Leaving home and wealth behind him,
Francis heard the Savior’s call,
Serving God as poor and needy,
Trusting God to care for all.

Preaching Jesus and his mercy,
Francis made the cross his boast,
Loving Christ within the manger,
Praised his presence in the host.
God in mercy gave him brothers and sisters
Joined in poverty and grace,
Vowed to serve Christ in obedience,
Freed by chastity’s embrace.

Most high God, all good and mighty,
Father, Son, and Spirit blest,
With Saint Francis we would love you
And with Christ-filled lives attest:
From you, Lord, comes our salvation!
As did Francis, help us live
Lives of peace and true devotion,
That we thanks and praise may give.

October 3rd: Francis Roetheli from Brazil recalls an article entitled "Francis of Assisi and Francis of Rome" written by the Brazilian theologian Leonardo Boff last October 4th 2013.

LeonardoBoff  Leonardo Boff on Francis of Assisi & Rome
cf. Leonardo Boff's article & works...

October 1st: Dan Mazar *djm   reminds the Diaspora to recall & celebrate its roots come Saturday the 4th: "My annual greetings for St. Francis Day. Hope you all will tune up for the Transitus or, at least, the Ultima. I hope to revive some memories of the old days at Westmont and beyond. After all, we follow Francis in some fashion (canonically or otherwise)". *djm

Francis d'Assisi  St. Francis d'Assisi (1181 - 1226)
cf. The Life & legends of St. Francis d'Assisi

Tom Shannon from Pennsylvania adds on: "Confreres, my wishes also for pax et bonum for the great feast of Francis. It's good to see the spirit of Francis alive in the current pope. May his zeal inspire us all." Tom Shannon

Gael Stahl ~Gael also adds on:  "I feel closer to all of you this October 4 than usual, too. Thanks for the group reminder Dan and Tom. I'm with you closely, tightly bound, in spirit. And especially to Mike Mooney and Brian Szorady who were able to celebrate my 75th birthday party Susan threw for me this year. Biggest birthday I remember since I got my first bicycle at age 10. Anyway, I'm with you in the family of Francis now and forever." ~Gael

Paul Stubenbort also adds on from Pennsylvania: "~Gael, Pat and I will be with Fred and Collette Wichert on Sunday. It's also their 45th wedding anniversary. Over the years for Oct. 4th we've often been with the Franks who ended up in this area: Mike McDevitt (dec), Ken Crites (dec), Larry Johnson & Jose Knoll. We'll be thinking of you. Pax et Bonum" Paul Stubenbort

UpArrow  October 2014

DownArrow  September 2014

September 30th:  Abdullah Abdullah & Ashraf Ghani agree on how to govern Afghanistan during forthcoming years. And Afghanistan's newly appointed national security adviser Hanif Atmar signed the "Bilateral Security Agreement" (BSA) which allows for about 12,500 troops US & allies (Germany, Italy, etc.) to remain in Afghanistan during 2014 and 2015 (jds)

AbdullahAndGhani  Abdullah Abdullah & Ashraf Ghani agree on how to govern Afghanistan... 
cf. The BBC World News, Hanif Atmar & US military deployments world wide:

September 29th: Ukrainians pull down Lenin's Statue in the center of Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city. Pulling down statues is one thing, getting rid of President Vladimir Putin’s Russians soliders on vacation in Ukraine is another. (jds)

LeninStatue  Vladimir Lenin tumbles, and now what about Vladimir Putin...?
cf. The BBC & What's going on in Ukraine now-a-days and Vladimir Lenin:

September 28th: Reem Makhoul, a freelance Video Journalist based in New York made a video called "This Is What Education Under ISIS In Raqqa (Syria) Will Look Like" Reem Makhoul grew up in the Middle East and is fluent in Arabic, Hebrew and English. She put together this video for the WSJ & The World Post. Obviously many nations have a somewhat bias tendency to rewrite their own history & school books, but what Miss Makhoul discloses here about ISIS in Raqqa, Syria and Mosul, Iraq is terrifying. Anyone who has anything to do with sincere education & religion will be stunned by "Education under ISIS". (jds)

ISeducation  What Education Under ISIS in Raqqa (Syria) & Mosul, Iraq Looks like today...!
cf. Education under ISIS & the talented Reem Makhoul,

September 26th: President Mahmoud Abbas accuses Israel of 'genocide' at United Nations. The President of Palestinian National Authority "...stopped short of saying he would take the issue to the International Criminal Court..." Instead Mr. Abbas said the "hour of independence of the state of Palestine" had arrived, and proposed seeking "a UN Security Council resolution on a two-state solution, but gave no time frame". (jds)

Abbas  President Abbas at the United Nations.
cf. BBC World News, Mahmoud Abbas & the geographic history of Palestine

September 25th: David Rothkopf, Editor of the FP (Foreign Policy) wrote maybe an article entitled "Bad Moon Rising" in this week's FP magazine. Mr. Rothkopf's article is named after the 1969 song "Bad Moon Rising" by Creedence Clearwater Revival. He suggests that behind the scenes of powerful UN speeches & rhetoric resides an uneasiness of how exactly to accomplish the objectives set forth to liberate Iraq and Syria from ISIS . (jds)

BadMoonRising  A "Bad Moon Rising" over the United Nations...?
cf. David Rothkopf's article, books, publications & listen to 1969's "A Bad Moon Rising"

September 24th: "Why Obama’s U.N. Speech is a Major Turning Point"  by Thomas Wright of BROOKINGS: Wright states "President Obama’s speech at the United Nations (Wednesday the 24th) was his best on foreign policy in his second term and stands in sharp contrast to his disappointing West Point speech in (last) May."  However, most curious in Thomas Wright's article on the President's UN speech is a reference to a 2007 interview by David Brooks of The New York Times. When questioning the young Senator on his worldview, the name of Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971) came up. Apparently the famous philosopher & theologian of Christian and Political realism had a great influence upon our 44th President's worldview. (jds)

PresidentObamaUN  President Obama at the United Nations "
cf. The UN's speech, Thomas Wright's article, David Brooks interview & Reinhold Niebuhr

September 24th: Hamas & Fatah agree to a unity government's return to Gaza:  Sounds almost too good to be true. Evere since Hamas won 2006's parliamentary election and ousted The Palestinian Authority from Gaza in 2007, blood has been spilt and not forgotten. Maybe this time the two can work together and forget the past and rebuild a future for Gaza's women and children instead of fighting useless battles & wars. (jds)

PAandHamas  Fatah & Hamas; a unity government returns to Gaza after 7 years.
cf. BBC World News & The Gaza Strip:

September 23rd: Jon Stewart's "The Daily Show" interviews General Anthony Zanni (RET.) on ISIS & what to do about the current chaos within the Middle East. Stewart's "The Daily Show" ranks very high in late evening show ratings, especially among the 18 to 34 age bracket, which is considerably well under the Diaspora's average age. No matter, Stewart knows how to mix comedy and satire with serious interviews, such as last Tuesday's with General Zanni. (jds)

TheDailyShow  General Zanni & Jon Stewart's "The Daily Show"
cf. Jon Stewart's interview with Gen. Zanni, Parts One & Two and Comedy Central's "The Daily Show"

September 22nd:  Pépé Martinez & Around the Province (ATP) published an article about Mayslake by Nancy Maes as special to Tribune Newspapers.   A slight problem was Nancy Maes referring to Franciscans as monks, which is equivalent to confusing a deer with a camel or an elephant. Otherwise, Dan Mazar filled in and straightened out some important points: "The picture is of the Portiuncula chapel which now resides just outside Mayslake Hall (the retreat House) was moved from Pine Hill when the friar cemetery was removed and relocated. This was done when the property was sold to developers. The seminary grounds were sold first. St.Paschal's (the brother's school) and the grounds were sold next. Finally the retreat house and grounds were sold to the Dupage County Forest Preserve District. They have been working for several years to restore Mayslake Manor to its original status. And they are doing a great job. My 1959 Mayslake classmates held a 50th reunion at the Manor in 2010, and it was a great success. We purchased a brick to commemorate the occasion. It is firmly planted on the walkway to the Portiuncula now. Since all the other landmarks: seminary, brothers' school, farm and lodge have been razed it is very difficult to get any bearing on the georgraphy. The white bridge between the first and second lake is now brown and the paths around the lakes have been removed. I suspect most of us, graduates and parolees from our Westmont days will have a difficult time recognizing much of anything from the old days. Perhaps, that is just as well. Oh! bye the way, I never heard of or could imagine friars chasing trespassers off Mayslake's grounds at night. This must have been some kind of Halloween trick or treat fantasy invented by the Chicago Tribune..." *djm

Chapel  A Mayslake deer & The Franciscan Portiuncula chapel"
cf. Nancy Maes's Chicago Triibune Newspaper article:

September 20th:  This week's "On The Media" examines "Why Most Americans Fear ISIS" and "Nihilism", while "To The Best of Our Knowledge" (TTBOOK.org) examines Social Media "Narcissism".  This was a heyday for listening to PBS's weekend radio host Brooke Gladstone of "On The Media" decide "nihilism" is simply "apathy" and fear of ISIS coming here to attack American a media balloon full of hot air. Then came Anne Strainchamps of TTBOOK.org wondering if we have fallen into a Golden Age of "Narcissism" thanks to Social Media such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc... (jds)

BrrokGladstone  Brooke Gladstone of "On The Media"

AnnStrainchamps  Strainchamps of "To The Best of Our Knowledge"
cf. On the Media & Brooke Gladstone, TTBOOK.org, & Anne Strainchamps

September 17th: BROOKINGS Steven Pifer & Strobe Talbott (President of the Bookings Institution) wrote about the importance of Tomorrow's White House meeting between Ukrainian President Poroshenko & President Obama. This all goes back to the Budapest memorandum signed by the United States, Britain and Russia in December 1994, which Pifer & Talbott point out "...committed those countries to respect Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity and not use force against Ukraine..." in exchange for Ukraine having given up all its strategic nuclear warheads. Obviously, President Vladimir Putin has broken Russia's commitment to the Budapest accord. Therefore the United States & Great Britain should at least help Ukraine defend itself. (jds)

PetroPoroshenko  Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko addressing US Congress
cf. BROOKINGS article & President Poroshenko addressing Congress.
Brookings Article by Pifer and Talbott

September 16th: Ken Burns & PBS presents "THE ROOSEVELTS" An Intimate History of Theodore & Franklin Roosevelt in 6 Episodes from 1858 to 1944. People like Ken Burns make Televisions worth watching. (jds)

TheRoosevelts  Presidents Theodore & Franklin Roosevelt (1858 to 1944)
cf. PBS presents "The Roosevelts", the 6 Episodes & filmmaker Ken Burns:

September 15th: Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei blasts US coalition against ISIS: Suzanne Maloney of BROOKINGS writes such a partnership as "U.S. - Iranian cooperation against ISIS... was never in the cards..." and probably never will be with today's Islamic Republic of Iran being run by Ali Khamenei. So far there have been only two Supreme Leaders of Iran since 1979; Ayatollah Khomeini & Khamenei. (jds)

AliKhamenei  Ayatollah Khamenei sitting under the shadow of Ayatollah Khomeini...
cf. Suzanne Maloney's BROOKINGS article, Ali Khamenei, Ruhollah Khomeini & Supreme Leadership of Iran :
BROOKINGS Suzanne Maloney on Iran

September 15th: Ukraine's parliament grants self-rule to parts of eastern Ukraine & amnesty to pro-Russian rebels (but not for shooting down the Malaysian passenger airliner "MH17" last July).  Obviously, shooting down an international passenger airliner is an international affair and should be dealt with in international courts. The outright manslaughter of 283 passengers & 15 crew members cannot simply be dismissed or forgotten, not by Ukraine, Ukraine's pro-Russian rebels or even Russia itself. Other than that EU-Ukraine trade agreement was ratified, the same treaty President Poroshenko predecessor Viktor Yanukovych refused to sign last November, which ignited Kiev's street protests and upheaval of government. Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin is increasing his troops on the southern peninsula of Crimea, which he annexed last March. (jds)

UkrainePeace  Ukrainian soldiers pulling out of rebel territory...
cf. BBC's article on Ukraine, Malaysian MH17 & the vast history of Ukraine:

September 14th: NBC's Chuck Todd of Meet The Press interviewed James Baker who said "We Need People On Ground" in Iraq & elsewhere. Secretary Baker served as Chief of Staff for two presidents, Secretary of the Treasury for President Regan and Secretary of State for the 41st President Bush. He is a Texan, lawyer and former Marine.  (jds)

JamesBaker  Meet The Press interviews James Baker
cf. Meet The Press & James Baker:

September 14th: The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) published an article that: "Afghans See Option of Karzai Staying On"  by Margherita Stancati & Nathan Hodge, which may or may not "Ensure Stability as Election Dispute Resists Settlement" continues...? (jds)

HamidKarzi  Afghan President Hamid Karzai at ceremony honoring the late Commander Ahmad Shah Massoud...
cf. The Wall Street Journal & Hamid Karzai

September 14th: To The Best of Our Knowledge (TTBOOK.org) rebroadcast an interview with Hanan Al-Shaykh about "One Thousand and One Nights" (Arabian Nights). Hanan Al-Shaykh (Lebanese by birth) says she first heard of "The Thousand and One Nights" as a child, rediscovered them years later, and now considers Scheherazade, the Arabian Nights storyteller as the world's first feminist. Most stories or tales in "One Thousand and One Nights" go back to Iranian traditions and folklore from Zoroastrianism ancient Avesta and Iran's more recent 10th century "Shahnameh" (Book of Kings) by Firdowsi. The story tells of a King who would marry a new bride each day and then kill her the following day for fear of her being unfaithful to him. Supposedly he had already killed a thousand brides and the One Thousand and One was to be Scheherazade who had volunteered to spend one night with the King. She proposed to the King to tell a story during the long night. The King lay awake listening to her first story. The night passed, and Scheherazade stopped in the middle of the story. The king asked her to continue, but Scheherazade said dawn was breaking. So, the King spared her life for one day to finish the story the next night. The next night, Scheherazade finished the first story and began another, even more exciting than the first. And again at dawn, she stopped halfway through the story. So the King spared Scheherazade for another day to finish her story. And this went on and on for days upon days probably until the King died of old age, some one thousand and one stories & days later. Scheherazade outsmarted the ruthless King with her wits. For far more than one thousand and one years, women have often been treated rather poorly without proper respect by men and ruthless, self-centered fools the likes of Scheherazade's ruler & King. So maybe it's time for women to start telling stories again that never end, like Scheherazade...? (jds)

Sheherezade  To The Best of Our Knowledge: Hanan Al-Shaykh & Scheherazade:
cf TTBOOK.org's interview, Hanan Al-Shaykh, her books, 1001 Nights & Arabian Nights:

September 13th: Big Ben is ticking away watching Scotland's Alex Salmond while the U.K.'s bookies are betting against Scottish Independence. This is a big deal, as big as Big Ben striking midday or night. Polls are showing September 18th's "YES" votes for Scottish Independence may win, while British bookies aren’t buying it. Deutsche Welle's weekly radio station Inside Europe examines the consequences of a "YES" vote for the rest of Europe. (jds)

BigBen  Listen to DW's weekly Inside Europe broadcast
cf. Deutsche Welle's Inside Europe, BBC's Scotland politics & UK Bookies betting against the polls:

September 12th: BBC NEWS Europe lists European (and American) sanctions imposed upon President Vladimir Putin's colleagues: From top left those imposed are:  Gennady Timchenko, Arkady Rotenberg, Boris Rotenberg, Yuri Kovalchuk, Igor Sechin, Vladimir Yakunin, Sergei Chemezov, Vyacheslav Volodin. (center) President Putin & Dmitry Kiselyov. (top 1st row right) Sergei Ivanov, Oleg Belaventsev, Igor Sergun, Valery Gerasimov, Vladimir Kozhin, Viktor Ivanov, Sergei Naryshkin and (top 2nd row right) Vladislav Surkov, Dmitry Rogozin Sergei Glazyev, Sergei Mironov, Dimitry Kozak. Ludmila Shvetsova and Alexander Zakharchenko, the field commander who became the self-appointed "prime minister" of Donetsk last August is not listed here and doubtful he'll be going anywhere else in the world except to be put in jail. (jds)

Sanctions  BBC NEWS Europe: President Putin's sanctioned colleagues...
cf. BBC European News on EU & US sanctions on Russia & Wikipedia's list of already established sanctions:

September 11th: BOOKINGS prepared a series of articles "The ISIS Threat in Iraq and Beyond" for the 13th year remembrance of September 11th. A very impressive list of Brookings Scholars react to President Obama’s Speech and White House Statement on ISIS: Jeremy Shapiro, William McCants, Michael Doran, John R. Evans, Michael E. O'Hanlon, Suzanne Maloney, Jason Tama, Daniel L. Byman, William McCants, William A. Galston, Fred Dews, Elizabeth Ferris & Abbie Taylor, Michael Doran & Fred Dews, Elizabeth Pearce, Paul R. Pillar, Kenneth M. Pollack, Charles Lister, F. Gregory Gause III, Fred Dews, Paul R. Pillar, Bruce Riedel and Martin S. Indyk. It should be noted that the Brookings Institution is neither left nor right, but open to all of us on either side or independent who wish to understand our troubled and turbulent world in the 21st century a little better. (jds)

Brookings  BROOKINGS "The ISIS Threat in Iraq and Beyond"
cf. The BROOKINGS articles, Transcript of President Obama's White House statement & the Brookings Institution's history

September 9th: Afghanistan's disputed Presidential Election is a "no-go" : Abdullah Abdullah rejects the election's recount & result, which is scheduled to be officially announced within the week or so. Both sides (Abdullah & Ghani) accused one another of blatant election fraud. The odds are Ashraf Ghani will win this presidential election by hook or by crook, and Pashtuns will continue ruling Afghanistan as they have done over the past 300 years. Though curiously enough, there are far more ethnic Pashtuns in Pakistan than Afghanistan...  (jds)

Abdullah  Abdullah's 3rd failed attempt at Afghanistan's presidency...
cf. The BBC, Ashraf Ghani, Abdullah, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Pashtun & Taliban

September 7th: Dan Tanna wrote to: ~Gael Stahl & Mike Mooney "Bob Hankey's letter about Wally Spivey was first published in Diaspora Digest's 18th edition in January 1996. That's almost 20 years ago, and thanks again ~Gael for your stewardship of our spirits. And by the way, Happy Birthday."

On Sunday night, July 16, 1995, my wife, Carol, and I journeyed down to Knoxville, Tennessee, from Lexington, Kentucky. We were on vacation, on our way to the great Smoky Mountains. We took a room at a Super 8 Motel outside Knoxville. On Monday morning, we departed there about 9:30. We drove out Highway 11E going northeast from Knoxville looking for New Market, where my long departed friend, Wally Spivey, was born. I wanted to see the place where he came from. We had a hard time finding the road. Finally, after asking directions if you times, we found the right road. One lady at the store said, "You might not see it, but I think there is a sign along the road." We journeyed on down the country highway - through some farmland, rolling hills, trees, a few old car dumps and scattered stores. Suddenly my wife said, "It says Newmarket right there!" We had just driven by a road side store. I swung the car around and made a quick turn into the lot in front of the store. I parked, got out, and went into the convenience store. Hey young lady was at the counter. I told her about my old friend that he was a black (she was white) and from Newmarket. I asked her if there was a typhoon here. She said there were a couple of roads up off the highway where some folks live. Then she added that "there are still some black folk who live down the road -turn left at the caution lights, go under the railroad underpass, and take another left. There you'll come upon the street where they live." I thanked her kindly. We drove down about half a mile and made the left turn, followed by another. We were on an old street of two or three vacated store fronts to the right and small houses on the left. I drove up the street about a block and spotted a lady out on the lawn watching over two small children at play. I stopped the car, got out and walked over to where she was sitting. Again, I repeated my story of my old friend "Wally Spivey." She said, "Well, there's a lady two doors down who's related to a Reverend Spidey. "Wow! What!? "Yes," she said, "her name is Rebecca Smith and I think she might help you." I thanked her profusely and jumped back into my little Geo and drove down to doors. It was a little house with a sign on the door which read "Beware of Dog." I rang the doorbell; but no bark and no answer. Then I knocked on the door. Slowly and elderly, medium height, black woman came out to the porch. She looked at me ever so cautiously and quizzically. She did not open the glass door between us. Again I repeated my story. Then there was a long, silent pause. Tears welled up in her eyes and in mine. She softly said, "I am his aunt." She opened the door - we looked at each other crying. I wanted to hug her; but I simply offered my hand and said how glad and privileged I was to meet her. She came outside into her front yard met my wife too. She knew that Wally had passed away long ago from what she heard was leukemia. I told her it was from lateral sclerosis on August 27, 1964. I told her how deeply Wally has impacted my life. How we met at St. Joe's and continued in our friendship tell his death. I told her that Wally became a Catholic Franciscan priest, and passed away two years later. That he made such great impacts on those humility and done with. I also told her there is today a chapel dedicated to him at Corpus Christi church in Chicago. She said she was so happy to hear he made such a difference with so many folks. Then she added, "You made my day!" She also told me that the house in which he was born is still standing, "...that brown house, just as you turn the corner a few blocks back, there's nobody living there now, but that's where he was born." I took her address promised to send her a picture of Wally. I told her his long, flat feet which we kidded him about. She added laughingly, "Oh, yes, we all have those flat feet." She had never seen him as an adult. So she asked if he was tall and thin. I said he was a bit over 6 feet and on the thinner side - until his final sickness, when he swelled up a lot. We said our grateful good-byes and I drove down the street to where the "brown house" stood. A quiet little fenced yard, a beautiful shade tree, a 20' x 20' one story square frame house with a roasting tin roof. I took several pictures of it. It was a deeply moving and spiritual experience for me. The only words I could utter to Carol (my wife) were those I heard myself say: This man is a Saint. Someday this house will be a national shrine."
My Pilgrimage to Newmarket, Tennessee by Robert E. Hankey

PS. Dan Tanna also added a short note of his own: "Wally was my dorm prefect in freshman year at May's Lake (1954). He also cut our hair when needed. But to this day, every time I help my wife Sharon make our bed I mention how Wally Spivey taught us to tuck in the sheets under the mattress at the foot of the bed. Wally is and remains a "force de majeure" in our narrative and life." Dan also mailed a short note to his confreres of St. Joe's freshman class of 1954, some 60 years ago when ~Gael was "Feel'n Keen at 15" before "Still Alive at 75": Dan remembered "It was on this date 60 years ago that our adolescent souls cast anxious shadows on the granite entranceways at St. Joe's for the first time. Every ounce of attribution for remembering this "date in history" must be laid at the feet of Dennis Bandera. Denny mentioned this to Ray K. in one of their passing conversations earlier this year. Ray told me Denny even remembered his table prefect and most tables mates that first evening. No "zush" in Denny's brilliant brain and memory. So spread the good news! It's a day I'll always hold special and life changing." Dan Tanna

September 4th & 5th: Charlie Rose interviews Robert Ford, former Syrian Ambassador (2010-2014) & General Anthony Zinni, former Commander of CENTCOM (1997-2000) : Ambassador Ford & General Zinni were frank and to the point. What's going on in Syria, Iraq, Libya and elsewhere today cannot be simply stopped by drones and fighter jets shooting missiles at pickup trucks or dropping bombs. It's going to take determination, time and troops on the ground to extinguish this new fanatical madness. (jds)

RobertFord  Ambassdor Robert Ford

GeneralZinni  General Anthony Zinni
cf. Charlie Rose's interviews, Ambassdor Ford, General Zinni and history of Syria & CENTCOM

September 3rd: Charlie Rose interviews Ryan Crocker (Ambassador to Iraq 2007-2009) and Thomas Friedman of The York Times: Ryan Crocker & Thomas Freidman have spent a considerable amount of time in the Middle East among people within often troubling events and situations If understanding could be considered a gift or some sort of super sense to the five more traditional senses of sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch, then one would have to admit they are both abundantly endowed. It takes time and patience to understand others of other cultures and civilizations. So, let’s listen to Charlie Rose's interview with Ambassador Crocker & Thomas Friedman...(jds)

CharlieRoseCrockerFriedman  Charlie Rose interviews Ryan Crocker & Thomas Friedman
cf. Charlie Rose, Ryan Crocker, a FRONTLINE transcript & Thomas Friedman:

September 3rd: What is an Islamic State...? Iran, Pakistan and the more recent unrecognized state and active jihadist militant group in Iraq and Syria called the Islamic State of Iraq & Levant (ISIL) also Iraq & Syria (ISIS) or more simply Islamic State (IS) that was declared last June 29th by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

AbuBakr Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
cf. (ISIL) or (ISIS), Islamic States, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi & BBC's "What is Islamic State ?"

September 2nd: Laurence Peter of BBC World News explains "Why Nato-Russia relations soured before Ukraine" Actually, there are about as many NATO members as non-members in Europe today, but tomorrow's meeting at Wales may well see both Finland & Sweden take steps towards eventually adhering in one way or another to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. This might tip the balance a little and help reassure some of Russia's old and obliged Warsaw Pack countries like Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Hungry, Slovakia, Romainia & Bulgaria that NATO won't forget or abandon them even today if President Vladimir Putin continues trying to rebuild another "Iron Curtain". (jds)

NATO  Laurence Peter's "Why Nato-Russia relations soured before Ukraine"
cf. BBC's article, The Guardian's, NATO, Warsar Pack & Iron Curtain

September 1st: ~Gael (Still Alive at 75) & Susan (McHanon) Stahl invites one and all to Come Celebrate with us this Saturday, September 6th at Peckerwood Heights, 1759 Needmore Road, Old Hickory, Tennessee from 3:00 to 7:00 PM (CST). The more the merrier & happier we shall all be...

Gael & Susan  Gael75
This Saturday, September 6th at Peckerwood Heights, 1759, Needmore Road, Old Hickory, Tennessee

UpArrow  September 2014

DownArrow  August 2014

August 31th: PBS's To The Best of Our Knowledge (TTBOOK.org) Steve Paulson interviews MIT's Max Tegmark about his new book "Our Mathematical Universe"  It is often said there are two near perfect languages, Mathematics & Music. One has to add up to something and the other sound good to our ears. Both often make more sense than the 'gobbledygook' of daily noise and pointless distractions. Professor Tegmark's quest towards the ultimate nature of reality sure does go a lot further into the history and mystery of the Universe than most of us. And as Amir Alexander's review in The New York Times sums up "This is science writing at its best... about the greatest mysteries of our existence".  (jds)

UniverseMath  Max Tegmark's "Our Mathematical Universe"
cf. Amazon's book, Max Tegmark & The New York Times Review

August 29th: Dan Tanna answers Michael Mooney: "Mike, thanks for nudge to "resurrect" Ansgar Henke's piece published in old DD format several many years ago. Therein he recounted his pilgrimage to Wally's early boyhood environs in Tennessee. His encounter with Wally's elderly aunt was very moving. Wally is a major force in our narrative! For that reason, I told Jim and Dan that I would gladly retype the letter for the current DD format. Sharon and I are in route back to Quincy. I'll have it on jds's desk within the week.  Pax, Dan

August 28th: Michael Mooney writes: "This is a note for Dan Tanna. Love you, Dan. You mentioned republishing the Wally Spivey story of years past. Please do so as soon as possible. Ben Spivey has become a rather big presence in my life. He's one of about seven folks I cry out to daily to help me make it thru the day. Anybody else ever get that feeling." Love to all. I hope I can figure out how to send this thing to ~Gael's DDigest before it disappears. I'm rumbling because yesterday was Ben Spivey's resurrection anniversary, August 27th 1964. Anybody got any stories about Ben..? Peace, Mike.

August 28th: Looks like President Vladimir Putin is not reluctant to put "Boots on the Ground". The only problem is President Putin seems to have forgotten to mention whose boots they really are, which is rather sneaky for a president of a country as vast and important as Russia. Maybe it is time for some other nations and world leaders to simply say "enough is enough" Mr. Putin, so why don't you get your boots out of Ukraine before they get stuck in the mud...! (jds)

BootsOnTheGround  Russian Boots on the ground in Ukraine...
cf. BBC World News on Ukraine & Sir Robert Thompson's words that wars are "... won by brains and on foot."

August 27th: Abdullah Abdullah, John Kerry and Ashraf Ghani talking last July in Kabul about a recount and audit of Afghanistan's 2014 election.  Why, well if one can recall Afghanistan's 2009 election when Hamid Karzai was reelected President of Afghanistan with more stuffed ballot boxes and fraud than imaginable, then history may be repeating itself again. Ashraf Ghani and Hamid Karzai are both Pashtuns, Abdullah is a Tajik, which is a general term for Persian speaking people of Iranian origin situated mainly in northern Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The word Tajik basically means a farmer or settled villager as opposed to nomadic tribes. Pashtuns on the other hand are offshoots of ancient tribes. Their exact origin is somewhat unclear, but nevertheless the Pashtun have ruled Afghanistan in one way or another over the past 300 years. So, who will be Afghan's president tomorrow..? Ashraf Ghani is highly educated and well known to the UK, US and United Nations. Abdullah comes from the Afghan Northern Alliance of Ahmad Shah Massoud, whom the WSJ once called the "Afghan who won the Cold War". Massoud was assassinated on September 9th 2001, curiously enough two days before September 11th by 3 Tunisians apparently hired by Al Qaeda, the Taliban or even Pakistan's ISI (intelligence service). Of course all of them along with the Russians and Afghan Pashtun Gulbuddin Hekmatyar had been trying to kill Massoud since the 70's. Whatever, today is today and both Ghani & Abdullah will have to work together no matter who becomes president. Maybe that's why today both candidates gave up on recounting and auditing 2014's presidential election ballots. Afterall, didn't Hamid Karzai & his government organized and arranged 2014's election for Afghanistan like they did for their own reelection back in 2009..?  (jds)

ElelectionTalk  Abdullah, Kerry & Ghani plotting Afghanistan's future and president...
cf. BBC's World News, Abdullah & Ghani and Tajik & Pashtun people, Ahmad Shah Massoud & Karzai's 2009 election:

August 27th: William Gale & Alan Auerbach put together a 3 minute animated video on US federal debt. William Gale is from Brookings Institution & Alan Auerbach form the University of California, Berkley and the Federal Debt from Congress...

FederalDebt  Federal US Debt projections, before, during & after 2008's recession.
cf. The Brookings Institution & Hutchins Center:

August 26th: Gaza claims Victory amidst ruins...   Unlike the Biblical story of David and Goliath (1 Samuel, chapter 17), Hamas with its sling shot full of rockets sure lost this battle against the giant Israel. Why Hamas ever undertook such a crazy fight is beyond reason, as would be a lightweight stepping into the ring with a heavyweight boxer. Of course, Hamas won the world's media & news hands down and Israel completely lost. But what good will that do, heal the injured, bring back the dead and rebuild Gaza's homes and buildings...? No, the main stream media and news is only interested in a fight, blood and guts stuff and will be gone from Gaza in no time, unless God forbid that David starts throwing stones at Goliath again. (jds)

GazaVictory  GazaRuins
cf. BBC World News, Aljazeera, Haaretz, & David and Goliath

August 22rd: HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur interviews Ali Khedery:  Ali Khedery spent nearly a decade helping a handful of US Ambassadors including Zalmay Khalilzad & Ryan Crocker (along with three US CENTCOM commanders including General Petraeus) understand what was really happening on the war torn streets and alleys of Iraq from 2003 to 2009. He's an American, fluent in Arabic & probably Farsi too, who looks more like he just got out of some college instead of Baghdah's Green Zone or US Embassy. Khedery is in Dubai now-a-days and talked with Stephen Sackur of BBC's HARDtalk about what's going on and why in both Iraq & Syria today.

HardTalk Ali Khedery on BBC HARDtalk
cf. HARDtalk, Ali Khedery, Jay Garner, Ryan Crocker & "No End in Sight" by Charles Ferguson:

August 22th: Brooke Gladstone of PBS's “On The Media” examines how the main stream media covers violent and controversial deaths from Trayvon Martin to Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri as well as the outrageous murder of journalist James Foley by the so called Islamic State in Syria (ISIS).

OnTheMedia  This week's On The Media with Brooke Gladstone
cf. This week's On The Media & Brooke Gladstone

August 20th: Marshall McLuhan's "The Medium is the Massage" (or Message) was published in 1967 and changed lots of ideas and assumptions about the purpose & effects of mass media. McLuhan choose the word "massage" instead of "message" because of how the media touches the human sensorium, which "... includes the sensation, perception, and interpretation of information about the world around us ..." Simply put, the mass media sort of attempts to "massage" us into how to think and feel. Yet, as far as I know supposedly there are only two near perfect and universal languages, music & mathematics. So why not instead of blasting our Boob tubes, radio stations or internet, take a pause from Ferguson Missouri, Syria, Iraq, Gaza, Libya, Africa's Ebola, and on and on and watch some Lego math statistics from the Brookings Institution by Richard Reeves about income & education disparity in America and then listen to some top notch, beautifully unique fun music from Yo-Yo Ma & Bobby McFerrin for a change...! (jds)

Legos  Legos & Richard Reeves explain American disparity

YoYoMaMcFerrin  Yo-Yo Ma & Bobby McFerrin make fun music together
cf. Legos & Richard Reeves, Bobby McFerrin & Yo-Yo Ma and Marshall McLuhan
Brookings Institution Legos & Richard Revees
Bobby McFerrin & Yo-Yo Ma
Marshall McLuhan & The Medium is the Massage & Message

August 19th: Chris Reuter wrote a short article for Around The Province (ATP) after participating at a summer workshop called "Social Action Summer Institute" in Saint Louis, Missouri last July. It's called "A Quick Update on Prison Ministry"

I participated in a national conference called the "Social Action Summer Institute" (SASI) at Washington University in St. Louis last July. It is an annual event sponsored by the Catholic Roundtable a consortium of the USCCB, Catholic Charities USA, Catholic Relief Services, and JustFaith Ministries. I served on the local host committee, and I was sorry that I was the only Franciscan in attendance. It was the perfect arena to make our unique contribution to social justice. This year’s theme was “Restorative Justice: Embracing Christ in the Victim, Offender, and Community”. As Prison Ministry Coordinator in the Belleville Diocese for twelve years, it was an ideal opportunity to interact with the best teachers and practitioners of criminal justice ministries. We all agree with the U.S. bishops that our country’s incarceration is a “broken system” in need of reform. In our pastoral work with individuals we struggle to find ways of reconciliation. Those who practice Restorative Justice all report how difficult it is to heal the hurts and repair damaged relationships. It is sad that they all avoid speaking of “forgiveness”, which they refer to as “the F-word”.

I was one of the Social Action Summer Institute's workshop presenters, and I spoke about “Organizing Prison Ministry” at the diocese, state, and national levels. We have made some good progress in the Belleville Diocese, and we now have a functioning statewide network for prison ministry under the Catholic Conference of Illinois. Most other areas of our country are not so well organized, and I was able to share some of the techniques we have used to bring it all together. At the end of the week it was clear that we have to apply the same lessons at the national level. Our Province has a good history of prison ministry leadership; and we celebrate men like Eligius Weir and Gervase Brinkman. But we must also recognize that the corrections landscape has changed since their time and that new solutions are called for. The age of paid clergy chaplains is all but gone, and we must now develop a volunteer army of lay prison ministers. Although I focused on administration at SASI, I made sure to inject a bit of our Franciscan wisdom on crime and punishment. It is unfortunate, I suggested, that our Church is so attached to “Atonement Theology” that overly stresses reparations and makes us complicit in the problem. Imagine, I asked, what it would be like if we fully believed in God’s unconditional love and in the Primacy of Christ. Forgiveness, the “F-word”, is mentioned not once but twice in the Lord’s Prayer! It’s also the monogram both of our Order and the incumbent Holy Father. Social Action Summer Institute (SASI) was a “Forgiving” good experience.

I was at the Mooney's last weekend for our god daughter's visit home with her 10 month old son, Jude. Everyone showed up, too, to see the great little Jude. Once back home I looked at this week's Around the Province and saw that Chris Reuter has a very good article on forgiveness and the prison ministry, which we reprinted above for those of you who don't get the ATP. If you want Pépé Martínez to send you a copy of the ATP either by mail or over the internet, then let us know and we'll ask him to take care of you. ~Gael

Chris Reuter later on wrote to ~Gael saying: "Thanks for your kind words about my ATP article. Like Teilhard, I hope I'm becoming a better heretic with age..!"
Dick Mayer then added onto Chris's comment: "Someone said that the most dangerous heresies are those that are closest to the truth, I take your comment to mean that you are getting closer and closer to the truth..!"

August 17th: Jim Sexton (jds) got a note from ~Gael saying Pat Thompson from his clergy group that meets every Wednesday morning in downtown Nashville recommended an article in The New York Times Sunday Review about nuns called "Sister Acts" by Nicholas Kristof. Also George Frazier, another member of ~Gael's downtown clergy group recommended reading up on the amazing benefits of coconut oil. So let's start with the "Sister Acts" article and then watch the most famous nun from Louis de Funès "Le gendarme de Saint-Tropez" movies, and then maybe have some coconut oil... (jds)

Saint-Tropez-Nun  The fastest & best driving nun in Saint-Tropez
cf. "Sister Acts" by NYT's Nicholas Kristof, a Saint-Tropez nun & coconut oil books

August 15th: ~Gael Stahl  whose "Still Alive at 75" and busy preparing his September 6th birthday party, asked Bob Gorman if he remembered an interview of the cosmologist Brian Swimme from years ago. Sure enough Bob remembered and found the original Microsoft Word transcript of Professor Swimme's interview. Since the original transcript of 16 pages is rather long for DDigest, ~Gael asked (jds) & *djm to do something so that at least everybody who wants to read the interview can. So bingo, below is an 11 page PDF (Public Document Format) file of Brian Swimme's interview "Where does your faith fit in the cosmos..?" which can be either downloaded or read directly online.

PDF  Brian Swimme's Interview

BrianSwimme  Brian Swimme
cf. Brain Swimme & his books :

August 14th: Francis Roetheli wrote: "In October Brazil will have elections for president, for which there are three main candidates plus a few more who are not important at all. Yesterday (the 13th) Eduardo Campos one of the candidates was tragically killed in a plane crash and since the accident we have had 48 hour coverage on all TV stations and in the news. The happening will throw a monkey wrench into the election and everyone is wondering and commenting on what will happen next. There's an article & video in The New York Times International, which gives an idea of what is happening now in Brazil."

EduardoCampos  Brazil's Eduardo Campos (1964-2014)
cf. Eduardo Campos & New York Times International :

August 13th: The Islamic State or Levant (ISIL) ie. Eastern Mediterranean, alternately translated as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is an unrecognized state and jihadist militant group active in both Iraq and Syria today. The term "Islamic State" had never been used in political science prior to the twentieth century. The idea & term is attributed to Abul A'la Maududi (1903–1979), a Pakistani Muslim theologian born in British India who founded the political party Jamaat-e-Islami and inspired other Islamic leaders such as Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini and today's Ayatollah Khamenei. Maududi envisioned an idealistic Islamic state and argued against free market capitalism and socialist or communist economic intervention. He combined Islam with the principles of democratic elections along with socialist concern for the poor and called it the "Islamic State". Mohammad Baqir al-Sadr, the father-in-law of Iraq's Muqtada al-Sadr followed Maududi's line of thought in his book "Our Economics" written years later in 1961. The only problem with all this lofty thought and redundant writings was the concept that Islam is an all-encompassing religion and not be limited to just the "homeland of Islam". Maududi, al-Sadr and others actually belived that the "Islamic State" was meant for the whole world and therefore 'Jihad' should be used to eliminate all un-Islamic rules and rulers and establish a worldwide "Islamic State". A rather ambitious project to say the least, which undoubtedly will confront a great amount of public discontent and resistance. Turning back time to an Islamic State & Caliphate in the 21st century is an absurd venture of looking backwards instead of forwards. Many will suffer and few will profit from Maududi's 19th century concept of an "Islamic State" as was the case with Iran's Islamic Republic in 1979 and Taliban's Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan in 1996. History exists to teach us lessons of what went wrong in the past and not to be repeated in the present or future, such as abusing, enslaving, mutilating or killing men, women & children in the name of religious beliefs. Below there is reference to a video reportage of the “Islamic State” (ISIS) filmed by Vice News. Other than the editing, censorship, guns and killings, etc... There are 3 things to especially notice in the reportage of Vice News: 1) a total absence of young girls & women, 2) the indoctrination of young boys, and 3) the prolific use & misuse of the name of God. (jds)

Maududi  Abul A'la Maududi & his concept of an "Islamic State" (1903–1979)
cf. Vice News, The "Islamic State" (ISIS), Maududi, Pakistan, al-Sadr & serious criticisms

August 12th:  Iraq's Yazidi fleeing the so called "Islamic State" (ISIS) in northwestern Iraq’s Sinjar Mountains.  Ethnically speaking Yazidis are Kurds and practice endogamy. Supposedly their religion dates all the back to 4,750 BC and is syncretic in nature, meaning that it combines aspects of other religions such as Shia and Sufi Islam with indigenous regional folk traditions and includes elements shared with the mystic, Christian and Mandaean communities of the Near East, as well as the more ancient Gnostic, Marcionite, Zoroastrian religions of early Mesopotamian. Now how or why this small group of Yazidi people are threatened to death by some phony "Islamic State" of thugs called "ISIS" is beyond belief and an utter disgrace to all of us who allow such barbaric savagery to happen in the 21st century. (jds)

YazidisKids  Yazidis escaping on foot to Iraq’s northwestern Sinjar Mountains  
cf. The BBC World News, a Helicopter crash and Yazidi & shine :

August 11th:  The New Yorker's Letter from Moscow & Watching the Eclipse by David Remnick is on the news stands... David Remnick basically describes the career and experience of Michael McFaul, his two years as Ambassador to Russia and how what first looked like a promise toward Russian democracy slowly faded away. (jds)

V.Putin President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin
cf. The New Yorker, Michael McFaul, David Remnick & Charlie Rose:

August 7th: Jack Bartz draws our attention to an article in the National Catholic Reporter entitled "Science challenges us to show that our Catholic faith is supremely meaningful" by Michael Crosby, OFM  Jack told me this is a "good article to print for reflection just in case we missed it". It's a thoughtful well written article by Michael Crosby, a Milwaukee Capuchin whose latest book is called "Repair My House: Becoming a "Kindom" Catholic." ~Gael

Creation  Creation of Heaven & Earth from chaos, Monreale Cathedral, Italy
cf. Michael Crosby's NCR article & his latest book:

August 4th: Susan (McMahon) Stahl is arranging ~Gael's 75th birthday celebration for this coming September 6th on a Saturday from 3:00 to 7:00 PM (and on). The whole Diaspora & friends are invited to Gael & Susan's Peckerwood Heights, 1759 Needmore Road, Old Hickory, Tennessee 37138. So come all ye faithful, one and all to celebrate ~Gael's well-earned 75 years plus 32 years of his Diaspora Digest.

Gael'sBirthday  "Still Alive at 75", Saturday, September 6th from 3:00 to 7:00 PM, and on ...
cf. ~Gael & Susan Stahl and ~Gael's Sherlock Holmes club :

August 1st: Marilyn Stahl (~Gael's sister) found "Positive proof of global warming..." on a clothes line, believe it or not..!

ClothesLine  Proof of global warming on a clothes line from the 18th to 21st century...
cf. Global warming & Climate Change :

UpArrow  August 2014

DownArrow  July 2014

July 31st: Charlie Rose interviews Bruce Riedel of the Brookings Institution about what's going to happen to Afghanistan's recent election as well as what has and is happing elsewhere in our troubled world. Mr. Riedel retired from Central Intelligence Agency in 2006 after 30 years of experience & service. Today he is senior fellow and director of the Brookings Institution's Intelligence Project. Mr. Riedel's discussion with Charlie Rose is nearly a full hour's excursion into what is often called "Realpolitik", ie. realistic, practical or actual politics, well worth watching & listening to at least once or twice... (jds)

BruceRiedel  Bruce Riedel of the Brookings Institution's Intelligence Project.
cf. Charlie Rose's interview, Mr. Riedel & his books, the Brookings Institution, education & blogs:

July 29th: Jason Beaubien, NPR's Global Health & Development Correspondent spoke about how the Taliban are blocking the World Polio Eradication program this morning on NPR's "Morning Edition".  The Taliban are a radical, political, religious offshoot of the Pashtun, which is a much larger Indo-European subgroup of Eastern Iranians. However, the Taliban are Islamic fundamentalists with a very strict interpretation and application of Sharia law. They have been condemned internationally for their brutal treatment of women and destruction Afghanistan's historic heritage. That they prevent children in both Pakistan & Afghanistan from receiving Polio vaccinations today is just another example of their ruthless, intolerable and ignorant behavior. (jds)

Polio  The World Polio Eradication program for children
cf. NPR's Morning Edition, The Taliban & Pashtun and Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI):

July 28th: PBS's FRONTLINE airs "LOSING IRAQ" produced by Michael Kirk, this Tuesday July 29th.  Kirk is no stranger to war films & documentaries. He produced, directed & wrote the two-part Bush’s War special, not to mention other war documentaries such as Cheney’s Law, Endgame, The Lost Year in Iraq, Rumsfeld’s War, The Torture Question, The Dark Side & The War Behind Closed Doors. Therefore, LOSING IRAQ may well be worth watching on your local PBS TV station this Tuesday, the 29th before Iraq becomes a forgotten nation & state. (jds)

Iraq  FRONTLINE's LOSING IRAQ Tuesday, July 29
cf. Your local PBS station's schedule for FRONTLINE's "LOSING IRAQ" :

July 27th: Stephen Sackur of BBC's HARDtalk interviwed Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal and as usual, pulled no punches.  Launched in 1997, much of HARDtalk's worldwide fame is due to its global reach via BBC World. Since 2006, the show has been presented by Stephen Sackur, an accomplished and experienced interviewer who is occasionally replaced by Zeinab Badawi and other well-known BBC presenters. HARDtalk does what other news organizations & talk shows are often unable to do, and that is to ask questions which are hard to honestly answer, Khaled Meshaal's interview apparently being no exception to the rule... (jds) & Wikipedia

BBCHardTalk  Khaled Meshaal of Hamas & BBC's Stephen Sackur of HARDtalk
cf. Khaled Meshaal on HARDtalk & BBC's World News: Libya, Syria, Iraq, Ukraine, etc...

July 25th: Francis Roetheli writes: On June 20th, after seeing the results of several exams, the doctor met with Tony & Carol (my cousin and her husband) and advised that Tony was diagnosed with cancer and that it was terminal as nothing could be done to eliminate it any more. When the doctor asked if there were any questions or doubts Tony came out and said: “I guess that means that my EXPIRATION DATE is coming up soon?” This date turned out to be July 17th, early in the first hours and was very peaceful." Francis has written a very heart warming letter and remembrance of Carol's husband Tony Ferrell and entitled it "Expiration Date", well worth reading... ~Gael

TonyAndCarol  Floyd "Tony" Ferrell's Experiation Date
cf. The Ferrells & Tony's "Expiration Date":

July 25th: Dan Tanna writes: "I owe the Digest a reprint of the "Saint" Wally Spivey's story. I believe Ansgar Hankey published his visit to Walley's birthplace and Jim Crow environ several couple of years ago. Walley's life is a highlight of our OFM narrative, and I'm working on it..." Take your time, Dan. (jds)

July 24th: Robert Gates interviewed by Charlie Rose about our troubled world from Russia & Ukraine to the Middle East and back again.   One rightly can imagine that it is not easy being a Secretary of Defense and even more so once retired. Secretary Gates served under two presidents and helped stabilized two wars, Afghanistan & Iraq and faced other civil conflicts from Morocco to Libya, Egypt, Syria, etc. He's not what you would call a hawk or dove, but a man who has served his nation well and honestly in the past and even now in the present, thanks to Charlie Rose's interview. (jds)

RobertGates  Robert Gates & Charlie Rose
cf. Charlie Rose's interview, Robert Gates & "Duty, Memoirs of a Secretary at War"

July 23rd: PBS's FRONTLINE: reruns 2012's Video called "Poor Kids" which explores what poverty means to children and to the country’s future. An extremely moving documentary from the vantage point of children caught up in American poverty. Truly amazing are the kids, how fast they adapt, help out and dream on towards a better, brighter future. Resilience is a very powerful human gift... (jds)

PoorKids  FRONTLINE's "Poor Kids"
cf. Frontline's "Poor Kids" & Poverty in America:

July 22nd: Hamas & Israel: Could it be that Hamas is using Israel to get world attention, sympathy and support because of its own failure to provide a free, open, progressive and prosperous society for the Gaza Strip..? Otherwise, today’s conflict with Israel appears to be an absurd exercise in fanatic self-destruction and hatred, which makes no sense for Hamas from a logical military, political, social or religious point of view. (jds)

GazaStrip  The Gaza Strip & Israel ...
cf. Hamas, the BBC, Gaza Strip, demographics & CIA World FactBook of both Gaza and Israel:

July 20th: David Remnick, editor of the New Yorker magazine was interviewed by Charlie Rose about President Vladimir Putin's Russia today:  Well known for his 1994 Pulitzer Prize book "Lenin’s Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire", Remnick recently revisited Russia and curiously enough discovered that some nostalgic illusions of the past Empire and its old draconian tactics are possibly rising out of the past once again. Charlie Rose’s interview and discussion with David Remnick is well worth a half an hour of one’s time today. (jds)

NewYorkerAndRose  David Remnick, editor of the New Yorker magazine & Charlie Rose
cf. Charlie Rose's interview, David Remnick & book "Lenin’s Tomb:.."

July 17th: Who shot down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 or is everybody going to play mum's the word again after 2008's Russo-Georgian War, the annexation of Crimea & Sevastopol last March and now a herd of trigger happy, pseudo-ruskie thugs weeding through innocent dead bodies and ruins of a commercial airliner shot down by mistake. Who is responsible, Mr. President..? Everybody else in the world except Mr. Vladimir Putin..? No sir, that won't work this time..!  (jds)

V.Putin  Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin & Ukraine ...?
cf. BBC World News, Vladimir Putin, Ukraine, Crimea & Russia:

July 14th: Marilyn Stahl (~Gael's sister) found "This Year's Best Tattoo" for our aging Diaspora population: Sister Marilyn has the knack for finding some of the funniest imaginable pictures with clever little captions worth a million laughs. She wholeheartedly believes humor is an important part of life. Laughing is healthy Marilyn says, which just might help some of us old and rickety diaspora digesters keep some hair on our head. (jds)

Tattoo  "This Year's Best Tattoo" discovered by Marilyn Stahl, csj
cf. What hair loss ("alopecia"), laughter & The Congregation of St. Joseph are all about:

July 13th: NPR's To The Best of Our Knowledge (TTBOOK.org) Steve Paulson interviewed James Carroll of the Boston Globe and author of "Jerusalem, Jerusalem: How the Ancient City Ignited Our Modern World".  Carroll is an accomplished author, historian, and journalist as well as a Roman Catholic reformer. He has published many books and articles on religion and history, the most pertinent today being "Jerusalem, Jerusalem: How the Ancient City Ignited Our Modern World" published April 2012. Carroll's conversation with NPR's Steve Paulson digs down into the historic and religious causes of today’s turmoil in Middle East, as well as Judaism, Christianity and Islam... (jds)

Jerusalem   PopeNewYorker  James Carroll's "Jerusalem, Jerusalem..." & New Yorker article "Who and I to Judge"
cf. James Carroll's TTBOOK.org interview, book, article, works & web site:

July 12th: Michael Mooney wrote: "~Gael, thanks for making me famous by publishing my correspondence with Bill Spencer in the DDigest. You know I just love it! And you also know I probably spend more time in my hot tube per week than I do with my homeless friends on the street. I could just see Chris Reuter or Bob Pawell reading my stuff and experiencing that old noxious feeling of being caught in "the blue wave", which Chris created, Bob incarnated and I lost, How Pauline. But all is not lost. At my death I am instructing Judy to have you publish my opus magnum. It is to be called "Hot Tub Meditations" by Blessed Pudge of the Soft way. All royalties go to the Sacred Heart Province. Until then, much love to all. Mike Mooney   Great news for the province and DD, Mike. I'm going to look for the long letter Bill Spencer sent with more of his memories of our stay down South. Good luck with your hot Tube Meditations, "O Blessed Pudge of the Soft Way". Let me know if you need any editorial help. ~Gael

July 10th: Paul & Pat Stubenbort listened to the BBC's Sir David Attenborough narrate Louis Armstrong's "What A Wonderful World"  Putting Sir David Attenborough & Louis Armstrong together in the same paragraph isn't all that complicated. Sir David is a great narrator and Louis Armstrong a great musician. Men of such talent are rare and well cherished. Not too long ago Attenborough had a pacemaker installed and commented: ""If I was earning my money by hewing coal I would be very glad indeed to stop. But I'm not. I'm swanning round the world looking at the most fabulously interesting things. Such good fortune." As for Louis Armstrong he was once asked about religion and said: "... I was raised a Baptist, always wore a Star of David, and was friends with the Pope..." (Puis XII & Paul VI). Louis Armstrong was said to be very tolerant towards various religions (and also found lots of good humor in them). (jds) ref. Wikipedia

SirDavid  Sir David Attenborough & Louis Armstrong's "What A Wonderful World"
cf. Sir David Attenborough & Louis Armstrong's "What A Wonderful World":

July 8th John Ostdiek came up with a great truth & old joke on his blog last June 30th, which comes down to a rather curious but unquestionable fact: that you don't see any U-Hauls behind a hearse... That kind of makes a lot of sense, doesn't it...? (jds)

John Ostdiek's blog  John's weekly blog, "The Door"
cf. John Ostdiek's weekly blog updates:

July 7th: PBS's Frontline "Secrets of the Vatican"  first presented last February 25th is being rebroadcast again this month on most PBS stations:  Maybe someday someone will do a "Secrets of Islam" too, which might well raise a ruckus as big if not bigger than Frontline's "Secrets of the Vatican"… (jds)

VaticanSecrets  "Secrets of the Vatican" on PBS once again...
cf. Secrets of the Vatican & your local PBS station:

July 6th: NPR's Living on Earth's Steve Curwood interviews E.O. Wilson about Mozambique's Gorongosa National Park.   E.O. Wilson is considered the father of sociobiology and biodiversity and has led a long and lively career of research and discovery. He is a scholar beyond equal in his field as well as a man of great integrity and humility. He has been accused of almost everything from racism to misogyny to eugenics by people who failed to appreciate the importance of his work in sociobiology and biodiversity. His discussion with Steve Curwood of NPR's Living on Earth brings out the importance of preserving and protecting diver ecosystems as are found in places like Mozambique's Gorongosa. In E.O. Wilson's own words: "... these are immensely complicated ecosystems. And they evolved over three-and-a-half billion years ... to what they are today. And we’re not going to find out how they work any more quickly than we’re going to find out exactly how the human mind works. So we should regard this as a major area for future biological research and not just an interesting place to visit..." ref. Living on Earth & Wikipedia, (jds)

EOWilson  E.O. Wilson's "A Window on Eternity"
cf. E.O. Wilson's interview, works, book & foundation:

July 4th: Independence Day: 238 years ago "The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America" was signed. Thomas Jefferson, who wrote the Declaration's first draft died on July 4th 1826, exactly 50 years after the official signature of the Declaration in 1776. His last words are said to have been "Independence forever" & "Thomas Jefferson survives.   He certainly lives on today even though the word "independent" doesn't make all that much sense anymore in a world that is becoming more and more interdependent in matters of life, liberty and the purusit of happiness. (jds)

ThomasJefferson  Thomas Jefferson (1743 -1826)
cf. Thomas Jefferson & The Declaration of Independence:

UpArrow  July 2014

DownArrow  June 2014

June 24th: Bill Spencer on Memorial Day took some time off and wrote a long and well merited letter to Michael Mooney's letter of last March 

"Happy Memorial Day, Mike. St. Anthony's is quiet today. Everyone, well almost everyone, is gone; and it seems like even the telephone has decided to celebrate the holiday. There's almost no chance that someone is going to stop by the office for "just a minute," so I actually may have a chance to get this e-mail written. I'm both glad and grateful to hear from you, and I've been looking forward to a chance to reply.

I'm amazed that you remember "Monroe, Louisiana," and that comes from someone who has a well-known reputation for various and sundry "trivia." The good citizens of Monroe would be quick to point out that, while I was born in Monroe, I actually grew up in West Monroe. In a world that has spent lots of time and energy on learning how to look down on someone and anyone else, the people of Monroe perfected the practice when it came to those of us who lived across the river. We were the ne'er-do-wells of Northern Louisiana. Since my Dad was a Doctor, I was accorded some consideration and actually "allowed" to visit other Doctor's children who were fortunate enough to live on the right side of the river. How good the good God is!

One would think that, with the passage of time, some of those attitudes would have softened; but such is not the case. Monroe is, for all practical purposes, a city with nowhere geographically to go. It's landlocked on three sides and river-blocked on the fourth. West Monroe is booming. It's where "everyone" wants to be, everyone, that is, but some people from Monroe. A wild world, isn't it ?

Just some of my "trivia", now. We met in the Fall of 1961. You were visiting St. Joe's for something, and a group of us were sitting under one of the elms along the loop in front of the seminary. We were stunned when Frater Padraic joined us and even more amazed by how cool you were. You had your habit on, of course; but that didn't stop you from stretching out in the grass. Before we knew it, you had kicked off your sandals. I can still see one of them flying through the air. You probably don't remember it, but it and you made an incredible impression on us comparative young-uns.

There are all sorts of memories from the summer that you spent in Ruston/Grambling in 1965. "Freighter Pat" morphed into "Brother Pat." You and Gael Stahl went to a Klan rally and learned that "nigra's square blood cells ate our round blood cells, so we should never let a nigra bleed on our salad." You dutifully came home and told Jim Lyke that you would "no longer let him bleed on your salad." I'll spare you all of the serious stories from that summer and just say that I'd like to think that what the three of you did and the people I met through you continue to have a profound effect on how I look at and live my life.

I served your First Mass at St. Joan of Arc. The reception was at the Indianapolis Athletic Club. I have the memories of that day that anyone would expect; but one involving Ben Skonieczny may be a story that you never heard. A group of us were standing around at the reception, and a little girl asked to hug Ben. She "climbed up" to where she could "hug his neck" and whispered, "Protase is a beautiful name." He laughed. We all laughed. To this day, I have no idea who put her up to it.

There are, of course, the stories about you going to St. Peter's for something to eat while you're were involved in the Urban Plunge and not getting a fraternal reception by the guy at the Front Desk, and of you going with Gael Stahl to Liberty Baptist Church on the night that Dr. King was murdered and being told that you were welcome at any time but that night. The stories could go on and on; but the last one I'll share is probably from the last time I saw you. The Diaspora was meeting at St. Paschal's, and you wanted to see Alban Schwarz. I took you to his room; and when your conversation was over, you asked him for his blessing. You knelt down, and he blessed you. Then, he asked you for your blessing and knelt down when you blessed him. You and I both had tears in our eyes.

Enough of this trip down "memory lane." Before I move on, though, I need to ask how you got to be 80 years old. That's incredible!

You heard correctly. I am the Provincial. The first e-mail I received after my election "suggested," "Your first task as Provincial should be to visit the Province cemeteries. So many people have rolled over in their graves at the news of your election that they'll surely need maintenance." Leave it up to the brothers to find creatively crazy ways to speak the truth. It's not something I ever wanted, but now that it's become my lot, I'm doing my best, even if I know that there are all sorts of times when my best isn't going to be good enough.

Thanks for your thoughts about the future of Franciscan life in the US and I'd like to think that I'm the "choir" when it comes to the "hymn you sang" in your e-mail. It's going to be hard to keep our conversation about mission and vision. The temptation is to focus on numbers and structures, but I'd like to think that God is going to get the last word either because or despite us. I talked about the "creative craziness" of the friars. One example supposedly involves Holy Name Province. The last day of one of their Provincial Chapters had arrived, and they were getting ready to leave when a telegram was delivered. It read, "Sorry I wasn't able to be with you at this meeting, and was signed The Holy Spirit." Hopefully and "prayerfully," we'll have all of the guidance, wisdom, insight and courage we need to ask the right questions and give answers worthy of what has been given us.

This could continue for a lot longer, but I'll spare your eyes and just say:
Thanks for your insights.
Thanks for your warm and wonderful words about an experience of Franciscan life we both treasure.
Thanks for your continuing commitment to our Franciscan vocation.
Thanks for your efforts to encourage Indianapolis to do and be better.
Thanks for sharing that quote from Lila Watson.
Thanks for writing & enjoy the rest of your Memorial Day holiday.
Peace and everything good, Bill Spencer

June 24th: Michael Mooney last March wrote a short letter to Bill Spencer, OFM (Franciscan Provincial of the Sacred Heart Province). 

Brother Bill,
As I write this I realize I am writing to a likable young man from Monroe, Louisiana whom I met at the beginning of our life journey. We met a few times after that and I always liked what I saw. Now I hear you are the Provincial. Good!

I read a piece in the NCR regarding the revitalization of the Franciscan life and ministry and naturally the topic just grabbed my heart. I'm not sure why I'm writing but I did have some feelings when I read that little piece. First I don't think the question is "What should we be doing today?" It is how can we best serve the poor given our age and number. The specifics aren't important. The fact is the suffering disregarded poor, the ill and the homeless are all over the place. A bunch of old friars aren't going to solve the problems but our vocation is just to stand with them, be with them, live and suffer with them. So many wonderful friars have spent a lifetime doing just that. I say keep on keeping on. It will make Francis smile.

Another feeling that came welling up as I read the article is how much I love all those guys I haven't seen in years, I really do care about them and have always felt that our life journeys were very much about experiencing and realizing the same values, even though life changed so completely for all of us. I'd like to think that anything that remotely resembled Francis's warmth and love that I might have expressed in my life came from the same nurturing and love and craziness that we all experienced together in our formative years. So I just want to say my heart is with you and all my brothers. Peace, Mike Mooney

ps. I'm appending a letter I wrote for a court date this April. Typical Mooney; it makes me look like some kind of hero. More importantly, I hope it says that you’re not the only Franciscans trying to be true to our calling in new and uncertain circumstances. Your diaspora brothers are out there too.

June 22th: Michael Mooney in August 2013 defended Irish Hill's homeless of Indianapolis, got handcuffed and hauled off to jail. Then wrote why he refused to leave Irish Hill's homeless: "My name is Mike Mooney. I have lived in Indianapolis for most of my eighty years; thirty of them as a Social Worker in the emergency room at Methodist Hospital. At the request of our attorney, Larry Hansen, I am writing to share my reasons for refusing to leave Irish Hill at the order of the police on Monday, August 26, 2013. First, it was to say "No" to the callous trashing of poor people’s personal belongings. More importantly it was to say "No" to the destruction of the only place, for many, where poor people truly felt at home. It was to say "No" to the city’s misguided attempt at criminalizing our homeless citizens as current and past panhandlers ordinances have done. Both, I feel are examples of structural violence attacking our most vulnerable and defenseless citizens. Surely Indianapolis can do better. I believe we can if we are willing to look at some of the uncomfortable realities much more shocking than Irish Hill. Like the crippling funding cuts to Horizon House in 2010 which effectively cut the services to our homeless neighbors in half. These cuts also removed the only warm daytime shelter the city provided for those living in the streets. Like, the fact that we have no viable Strategic Plan for Homelessness as the city currently alleges. People live in tents and under viaducts for a reason. Like the heart wrenching fact that Public Housing and Mental Health Services for the poor are at best a cruel joke of the body politic. Anyone who has taken the time to look is well aware of these realities. And, the pain and suffering goes on. What we experienced on Irish Hill last August touches on critical national issues which become personal for me. The level of wealth inequality in this country has gotten so far out of hand. The once accepted value of a living wage so completely abandoned. The notion of the common good so thoroughly diminished that it truly hurts my soul. I don't feel good about these crippling human issues or my inability to respond in a meaningful way. In truth I suppose I was really trying to stand up for myself at Irish Hill that day and to say "NO"! Years ago, Lila Watson, a leader of the marginalized aboriginal people said, "If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together”. Irish Hill is not just about the poor or the homeless. It is about all of us." Peace, Mike Mooney

IrishHill MichaelMooney  Irish Hill's Homeless under CSX railroad & Mike Mooney being hauled off to jail.
cf. Indianapolis Star and INDYSTAR about Irish Hill's homeless & history:

June 17th: Paul Stubenbort's Sunday Newspaper "Bucks County Courier Times" printed his article about religion, politics & politicians:"Sometimes religion and politics make strange bedfellows. You seldom see ministers and “politicos” chumming it up, or sharing a martini at Le Chena. And yet..? To fulfill their vision of what the gospel message is, most churches spend much of their energy and resources on outreach programs for the poor and marginalized. We'll never know the countless number of people our churches have helped with these programs. Ironically, some politicians are on the same wavelength and one might say they are even more successful at it. When wily old Abe Lincoln pushed through the 13th amendment to free three million slaves, it took all the political savvy he could muster. Since then, over 50 million African Americans have been born free in our country. In 1936, another wily “politico,” Franklin Delano Roosevelt, signed into law the Social Security Act. Subsequently, over 300 million Americans have found much needed help in their golden years. One of the cleverest politicians, Lyndon Banes Johnson, signed Medicare and Medicaid into law. That has since provided over 65 million Americans with the health care that would have been beyond the reach of many. And now Barack Obama has achieved the Affordable Care Act. It is barely up and running, and already some eight million Americans now have health care, many for the first time in their adult lives. In time, that health care will extend to tens of millions. On a smaller scale, locally, Gene DiGeralamo is fighting the powers that be in Harrisburg to extend medicaid to over a half million Pennsylvanians without health care. The difference between what the churches are doing and what the politicians are accomplishing is their motive - the reason they are doing it. The churches are acting out of charity, and that is good. But what the politicians are doing is motivated by justice. What they sign into law, a citizen has the right to. And politicians received this power, to act justly, from our Founding Fathers. Remember? The self-evident truth about our inalienable “right” to life. Maybe we should have “Give a politician a hug” day. But pick out a good politician." Paul & Pat Stubenbort live in Bensalem, Pennsylvania. At Westmont Paul was known as "Josaphat". He was our German teacher, a heavy smoker and could throw a football a long way with a side arm pass. He was a great teacher and played a lot touch football with us. It's good to hear from Paul and see & read his article on religion, politics & politicians. *djm

June 15th: Shia & Sunni Islam:  700 years of disagreement & conflict, and no end in sight unless Sunni & Shia Islam forgive and forget the past and stop mixing politics, religions and ethnicities in the present. All religions have had more their fair share of internal schisms and conflicts, and Islam is no exception. It all started in 632 CE (common era or AD) when Muhammad died Abu Bakr was elected caliph (khalifa, head of state) instead of Ali Ibn Abi Talib, Muhammad's cousin and son-in-law. Ali and his family accepted Abu Bakr and it wasn't until the murder of the third caliph, Uthman, in 657 CE that the Muslims in Medina invited Ali to become the fourth caliph. Ali's rule was contested, and the first Fitna (civil war) broke out. Ali ruled from 656 CE to 661 CE when he was assassinated while in prayer. Ali's main rival Muawiyah claimed the caliphate. After Ali's death, his elder son Hasan became leader of the Muslims of Kufa in today's Iraq. After skirmishes with Muawiyah's army, Hasan cede the caliphate to Muawiyah and went to Medina where his wife Ja'da secretly contacted by Muawiyah poisoned him to death. Hussain, Ali's younger son and brother to Hasan, didn't challenge Muawiyah's caliphate until Muawiyah died in 680 CE and passed on his caliphate to his son, Yazid. Yazid wanted Hussain's allegiance but Hussain rejected knowing he had support in Kufa to try to regain the caliphate for his family. So Hussain, his family and followers in Medina and set off for Kufa. On the way to Kufa, he was blocked by Yazid's army near Karbala, in modern Iraq. Hussain and most of his family and followers were killed in the Battle of Karbala, commemorated as the Day of Ashura on the 10th day of Muharram in the Islamic calendar by Shiah Muslims. To this day, the Battle of Karbala in 680 CE is considered the definitive breaking point between Shiah and Sunni Islam. And one wonders, isn't 1,334 years enough time to forgive and forget. (jds)

InTheNameOfAllah  "In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful" (bismi-llahi-r-rahmani-r-rahim)
cf. Shia Islam, Ali, Hasan & Hussain, Ashura, Sunni Islam & religious Schisms:

June 13th: Asteroids are minor, little planets sometimes called planetoids such as Theia, which supposedly hit planet earth billions of years ago helping form the moon. The sheer quantity of asteroids in our solar system is phenomenal, and unknown. The problem is we can't see all of them even with telescopes, because they are as black and obscure as empty space. That's why B612, a non-profit foundation pioneered by Piet Hut, Ed Lu & Rusty Schweickartis has developed an infrared telescope to launch into space within the next few years. Why? Two good reasons are Russia's 1908's Tunguska (Krasnoyarsk Krai) and 2013's Chelyabinsk events. Both unannounced asteroids entered the earth's atmosphere leaving behind a considerable amount of damage without any craters. Now, there is a lot of math in calculating when and where asteroids will hit the earth and at what angle, and that's precisely what B612's infrared telescope is scheduled to do with its back turned to sun and eyes turned forward to asteroids. Curiously enough, B612 is the name of the asteroid or comet from where Saint-Exupéry's "Le Petit Prince" came from... (jds)

Asteroids  Asteroids (belts): the white dots are near earth & green more distant Trojans
cf. Asteroids, B612, Sloop, Tunguska, USSR & Nova:

June 8th: Theia, Earth & Moon: Dr. Danial Herwartz & colleagues from the University of Goettingen recently published in Science Magazine an article supporting the giant-impact hypothesis that the moon was formed by a planetesimal named Theia that smashed into the earth approximately 4.5 billion years ago. It's called the "Big Splash", not crash. Herwartz and his team analyzed fresh basalt samples from three Apollo moon landing sites and compared them with several samples of Earth's mantle. They found that the oxygen isotope values of Apollo's moon rocks differed significantly from terrestrial samples, which supports the current giant-impact hypothesis. One might well imagine the remnant crater of the "Big Splash" lies beneath the earth's oceans, where life supposedly began. (jds)

Theia  Theia hits planet earth and boom, a new moon is born ...
cf. Theia, the hypothesis, Science magazine and the moon & Dr. Herwartz:

June 6th: D-Day, June 6th 1944: For those of us who weren't in Normandy 70 years ago and those of us who weren't there this month to remember those who were, CSPAN was. As a matter of fact CSPAN has been to D-Day Anniversaries ever since the 40th with presidents Mitterrand & Regan. This year's 70th Anniversary may have witnessed one of the worst speeches ever made by France's President Hollande and maybe one of the best by President Obama. But that's pure opinion, not fact. So watch CSPAN’s 70th Anniversary video of both presidents & speeches. (jds)

DDay1944  D-Day June 6th 1944, Normandy, France
cf. CSPAN's D-Day video, NPR's Scott Simon's reflection & WWII's human casualties by country:

June 4th & 5th: 1944 Allies enter Rome: The Italian Campaign of World War II lasted from 1943 until May 1945. It consisted of the invasion of Sicily and the Italian mainland. An estimated 60,000 Allied and 50,000 German soldiers lost their lives during the Italian Campaign. Far worse, 454,600 Italians (civilians and soldiers) lost their lives during WWII. The Lateran Treaty of 1929 granted the Vatican neutrality and in 1939 was recognized by 38 other nations, Nazi Germany included. But that didn't stop the Irish priest Hugh O'Flaherty of the Roman Curia from taking sides and saving an estimated 6,500 allies and Jews from the Gestapo. Affectionately he was called “The Scarlet Pimpernel of the Vatican”, the same pimpernel of Emma Orczy's 1905 book about the French Revolution that inspired such characters as Don Diego de la Vega (Zoro) and Bruce Wayne (Batman). (jds)

OFlatehy  Hugh O'Flaherty, WWII's Zoro of the Vatican
cf. Hugh O'Flaherty, Vatican & Italian Campaign :

June 1st: To The Best of Our Knowledge (ttbook.org) interviewed the British author Karen Armstrong well known and acclaimed for "A History of God: The 4,000 Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam" published in 1993. In 2008 she formed with others a "Charter for Compassion" designed to share and affirm common moral and spiritual values of compassion and understanding between different religions. She has written nearly 20 books about various religions from Confucianism to Islam and back and brings out the common denominator of each. (jds)

KarenArmstrong  Karen Armstrong
cf. Karen Armstrongs interview, life & work:

UpArrow  June 2014

DownArrow  May 2014

May 29th: Dan Mazar *djm remembers Germain Schwab, OFM May 31st is the 45th anniversary of Germain's death in that automobile accident in Flora, Illinois. Germain was resolute and steadfast in starting CTU in Chicago and leaving T-town. He trusted the clerics in experimenting in new ways to live as friars. He knew the probability of many returning to civilian life but accepted that risk. Unfortunately, his untimely death threw his hopes for a re-shaping the province into the dust bin. Many of us in the clericate at that time knew that game was up. In my opinion, the province never recovered. Germain was clear eyed about the future and relished leading the province, along with Francis Leo. Give him a thought or two as he had a profound impact on the population of clerics and young friars. *djm

Germain  Germain Schwab, OFM (1917-1969)

Jim Sexton adds on: Those of us who knew and cherished Germain as our provincial called him "Puff" from Peter, Paul & Mary's "Puff The Magic Dragon" song. He played no tricks but was full of magic. It was the kind of magic that made it fun and worthwhile to be Franciscans. There was no gloom and doom in Puff, only hope. And he shared his hope with us and we what we had with him. When Germain was taken away in that stupid car accident so were many of us. But it really didn't matter all that much. We'd been with "Puff" the Magic Dragon that "lived by the sea and frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee ..." until he "... Sadly slipped into his cave"  (jds)

Puff, the magic dragon
Lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist
In a land called Honah Lee

Little Jackie Paper
Loved that rascal Puff
And brought him strings and sealing wax
And other fancy stuff

Together they would travel
On a boat with billowed sail
Jackie kept a lookout perched
On Puff's gigantic tail

Noble kings and princes
Would bow whenever they came
Pirate ships would lower their flags
When Puff roared out his name, oh!

A dragon lives forever
But not little girls and boys
Painted wings and giant rings
Make way for other toys

One grey night it happened
Jackie Paper came no more
And Puff that mighty dragon
He ceased his fearless roar

His head now bent in sorrow
Green scales fell like rain
And Puff no longer went to play
Along that cheery lane

Without his life-long friend
He could not be brave
So Puff that mighty dragon
Sadly slipped into his cave

May 18th: PBS, the Public Broadcasting Service three-part series "Your Inner Fish, Reptile and Monkey" that premiered last April is back again. It explains why we walk on 2 legs instead of 4 and have 5 fingers instead of 6. It took us humans 350 million years to get to where we are today and one wonders where we'll be in another 350 million years. Who knows, maybe with only one leg and two fingers..? Seriously, Paleobiologist Neil Shubin from the University of Chicago tells the story of evolution from Ethiopia to the Arctic Circle and makes it quite clear that we humans owe a great deal to our fishy origins. PBS's "Your Inner Fish" Episodes 1, 2 and 3 are a must see and understand within our ever expanding Universe of surprises. (jds)

InnerFishReptileMonkey  Episodes 1, 2 & 3
cf. "Your Inner Fish" Introduction & Episodes 1, 2 & 3

May 9th: Islam: What's wrong with it...? First of all its lunar calendar which isn't very practical aside from helping calculate ocean tides or events like when to take the Hajj (pilgrimage) to Al-Masjid Al-Haram in Mecca or fast during the month of Ramadan. But thanks to Islam's lunar calendar events like the Hajj or fasting often fall right in the middle of some of hottest imaginable periods on the Arabian Peninsula. Temperatures can reach upwards to the mid 50C (130F). So maybe a calendar more in tune with the 4 seasons than the moon might be more appropriate. My guess is yes, unless Allah ordered Islam's lunar calendar. Secondly, Islam's beginning is around 700 years after Christianity and Yahweh alone knows how many years after Judaism. Therefore, one might suspect Islam is possibly making some of the same kind of mistakes its religious predecessors made during the 14th century AD, as well as the 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. True, history does not repeat itself, but nevertheless sure is worth learning from to avoid remaking past mistakes... (jds)

100YearsWar  The Battle of Crécy during the 14th century's Hundred Years War
cf. The 14th century, moon's calendar & Islam

May 5th: Rutgers: Isn't Rutgers University a place of tolerance and learning, discussion and debate...? I guess not everybody agrees, especially a handful of liberal arts professors and students, which in itself seems to be a rather blatant contradiction. There's nothing very liberal about intolerance. No matter, Condoleezza Rice gracefully excused herself saying “Commencement should be a time of joyous celebration for the graduates and their families..., and Rutgers’ invitation to me to speak has become a distraction for the university community at this very special time.” So, she withdrew her invitation to speak at Rutgers commencement. Now isn't that a good example of tolerance for a hand full of Rutgers' rather ruckus and intolerant profs and students. I guess so, but who am I to say. (jds)

Gael Stahl adds on: I saw where Condi wasn't speaking at Rutgers but never heard why. And I found out at DD, the last place I'd have thought to look. ~Gael

CondiRice  Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice of Stanford University
cf. Rutgers vs. Rice or Rice pardons Rutgers:

May 1st: May Day: The earliest May Day celebrations appeared in pre-Christian times during the festival of Flora, the Roman goddess of flowers. Much later on in Europe and America a more secular version of May Day became popular with children dancing around colorful maypoles and crowning Queens for the Month of May. Then came Chicago's 1886 Haymarket affair, often called riot or massacre. It transformed May Day into The International Worker's Day. Ever since then nearly 80 countries celebrate the 1st of May, many as a holiday and others to march on city streets and let their message and demand for social justice be heard. It's an amazing day May Day, with a long and colorful somewhat troubled history, and unfortunately many countries and people in today's world are not in a very good mood for celebrations. (jds)

Gael Stahl wakes up after having slept through Tennessee's storms to see Giovanni Battista Tiepolo's Triumph of Flora and to wish everybody a happy month of May. "Those late April Floods were terrible. We were lucky down here in Tennessee. All the tornadoes missed us, but not by much. I slept through it all. Our neighbors were up all night for two nights. I have great hopes for this month of May and the Triumph of Flora." ~Gael

MayDay  The Triumph of Flora by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (18th century)
cf. May Day, Floralia & Chicago's Haymarket Affair:

UpArrow  May 2014

DownArrow  April 2014

April 30th: Dan Mazar *djm   recalls Cal Giesen who died two years ago on April 30th at the age of 90.  “Cal was a great teacher of Latin and Greek at Westmont and friar of sincere humanity in his pastoral work. He had an all inclusive booming laugh and did not even mind washing dishes after a meal. I thought maybe we could spend a few minutes or so remembering some of the wonderful stories about Cal during his days at Westmont.” *djm

Cal Giesen  Cal (Norbert) Giesen, OFM (1921-2012)
cf. Cal Giesen & his remembrance at 90 ..

April 28th: Dan Mazar *djm   talks about Max Behnen's memoirs "Bending Rules" and a note he got from Judy Krus about the book's 2nd Edition. Judy Krus wrote: I thought I'd try to get the word out that we have about 50 more copies of Fr. Bob (Max) Behnen's book "Bending Rules; the memoirs of a Golden Jubilarian" in stock ever since we reprinted the 2nd edition when the first one of 100 copies ran out. Originally we thought to offer the sales profits to the Friars, but ended up giving everything to two St. Vincent DePaul families. Both families had lost their jobs and were struggling, and both were friends of Fr. Bob . I'm sure Fr. Bob would have been pleased. Anyway, if you would like a copy of Fr. Bob's "Bending Rules; the memoirs of a Golden Jubilarian" or know someone who does, then please don't hesitate to let us know and we'll be more than happy to send you one. Thank you. Judy Krus, 5207 Kings Park, St. Louis Missouri 63129 - Tel. 314.89.20.147 Max's collection of memoirs sets the stage for a non-traditional ministry. His major idea or principle was "Bend Rules, Not People". His memoirs are well done and written and certainly worth reading. If you would like a copy you can also drop DDigest a note and we'll forward it directly to Judy Krus on your behalf... *djm

Max  Robert (Max) Behnen, OFM (1933-2012)

BendingRules  "Bending Rules" available for $13 (postage included).
cf. Robert (Max) Behnen's book & orbituary

April 26th: Jim Sexton (jds)   recalls "The Good Pope", John XXIII :   Pope John XXIII had the habit of sneaking out of the Vatican late at night and walking around town, so they nicknamed him "Johnny Walker". Then when John XXIII came up with the idea of Vatican II, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Montini (who later became Paul VI) said "this holy old boy doesn't realize what a hornet's nest he's stirring up". That's true, lots of us in the Diaspora sure got stung during the years after "The Good Pope" departed. But today Pope John XXIII doesn't need any miracles to become a saint. He was a miracle all by himself. (jds)

JohnXIII  Queen Elizabeth II and John XXIII
cf. John XIII's life & legend:

April 22th: Dan Mazar *djm   brings Diaspora Digest's attention to an article written by Maureen Dowd in The New York Times which says in so many words "A Saint, He Ain’t"

SaintJohnPaulII  Saint John Paul II (1920-2005)

cf. Maureen Dowd's NYT article & Karol Józef Wojtyia's life:

April 20th: Easter Sunday. The modern English term Easter derives from the Old English word Eastre or Eostre. The word Easter is held by many to have originally referred to the name of an Anglo-Saxon goddess, Eostre. In Greek and Latin, the Christian celebration was and is called Pascha, words derived, through Aramaic, from the Hebrew term Pesach known in English as Passover, which originally denoted the Jewish festival commemorating the story of the Exodus. Already in the 1st century, Paul, writing from Ephesus to the Christians in Corinth, applied the term to Christ, and it is unlikely that the Ephesian and Corinthian Christians were the first to hear Exodus 12 interpreted as speaking about the death of Jesus, not just about the Jewish Passover ritual. In most of the non-English speaking world, the feast is known by names derived from Greek and Latin Pascha. ref. wikipedia

ChiRho  The Chi Rho symbol is one of the earliest representations of Christ
cf. Easter Sunday, the Passover, Chi Rho & Eostre:

Dan Mazar *djm adds on:  Resurrexit sicut dixit, and a Happy Easter to all... *djm

April 19th: Holy Saturday (Sabbatum Sanctum), the Saturday of Holy Week, also known as the Great Sabbath, Black Saturday, or Easter Eve, and called "Joyous Saturday" or "the Saturday of Light" among the Copts, is the day after Good Friday. It is the day before Easter and the last day of Holy Week in which Christians prepare for Easter. It commemorates the day that Jesus Christ's body lay in the tomb. ref. wikipedia

RussianIcon  a Russian Resurrection icon of the 16th century
cf. Holy Saturday & Alexander Schmemann's reflections:

April 18th: Good Friday, The Kiss of Judas & Denial of Peter

Judas  The Judas Kiss" by Gustave Doré
cf. Good Friday's betrayals & crucifixion

April 17th: Leonardo da Vinci's mural painting of The Last Supper from the late 1490's in Milan, Italy.

TheLastSupper  The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci, Milan, Italy
cf. The Last Supper & Isaiah 53:12 plus Exodus 24:8

April 15th: Around The Province publishes the 2nd segment of Gil Ostdiek's homily for Zachary Hayes' funeral held at Chicago's Theological Union last March 26th. If you would like a copy please drop DDigest a note and we'll ask ATP's José Martínez Valenzuela (alias Pépé) to e-mail you the PDF (Portable Document Format) version or send you the printed version by mail, pronto...! *djm

April 12th: PBS, the Public Broadcasting Service announces a 3 episode series based upon Neil Shubin's book 'Your Inner Fish' , meaning our inner fish and our link to some 350 million years of history and evolution. Like it or not, Neil Shubin's discovery of Darwin's so called "missing link" shows us how much we have yet to learn from history and sciences such as paleontology, geology & anatomy. In many ways we as a species owe far more to sciences than many other disciplines that try to explain who we are and where we came from. (jds)

InnerFishPBS  Watch "Your Inner Fish" on PBS
cf. PBS's Your Inner Fish, Neil Shubin's book & Tiktaalik from the Devonian geologic period

April 11th: Jim Schmitt asks DD: Would you please post this notice of Bob Feltman's death last year on Diaspora Digest. Bob and I became great friends at Hales High School when I taught there. I presided at his wedding at St. Christopher's Church in Midlothian. His widow Barb can be reached at 1993 Sheffield Lane, Wheaton, Illinois 60189 or by phone at 630-668-7686. Bob was one of the popular guys in the Fifth Class at St. Joe's when I arrived. He was a good athlete, bowler, and all around people person. A joy to know. I later knew him at Hales High where Jim Schmitt also taught and later married Bob and Barbara who lived near St. Joe's at Wheaton, Ill. Many older guys knew and liked Bob a lot. I think they'd have something to add for Barbara at the obit pages. Jim said that Barbara mentioned she had not heard from any Franciscans. Obviously none of us were very alerted that Bob had died. Not many of us had even heard of Lisle in DuPage County, Illinois, where the funeral was held. ~Gael

BobFeltman  Bob Feltman (1935-2013)
cf. Bob Feltman's orbitury

April 8th: Around The Province publishes Gil Ostdiek's homily for Zachary Hayes' funeral held at Chicago's Theological Union last March 26th. The homily will be divided into 2 parts, the first published by ATP this week and the 2nd published next week. If you would like a copy please drop DDigest a note and we'll ask ATP's José Martínez Valenzuela (alias Pépé) to e-mail you the PDF (Portable Document Format) version or send you the printed version, pronto...! *djm

April 7th: Jack Bartz suggests maybe it's time for Pope Francis to talk to Jimmy Carter or Jimmy Carter to talk to Pope Francis about religion and women or women and religion... Jack refers to an interview of President Carter by Maureen Fiedler published in the NCR (National Catholic Reporter) the 4th of April... ~Gael

NCR  The National Catholic Reporter
cf. the NCR & Maureen Fiedler:

April 6th: Brooke Gladstone of On The Media asks Glenn Kessler of The Washington Post's Fact Checker:
Q: How do you know when a politician is lying...? When talking about Obamacare...!

Pinokio  The truth behind rhetoric by Glenn Kessler's Fact Checker
cf. On the Media & The Washington Post's Fact Checker:

President Jimmy Carter's 28th book hits the nail right on the head. Eventually women will change the world we live in as religions fail to control education and societies. The sooner the better and the saner and more just we shall all become... (jds)

Carter'sBook  President Carter's "Call to Action" at Amazon
cf. President Carter's interviews and comments:

April 1st: "... Romans gave this month the Latin name "Aprilis" but the derivation of this name is uncertain. The traditional etymology is from the verb aperire, "to open," in allusion to its being the season when trees and flowers begin to "open," which is supported by comparison with the modern Greek use of ἁνοιξις (anoixis) (opening) for spring. Since some of the Roman months were named in honor of divinities, and as April was sacred to the goddess Venus, her Veneralia being held on the first day, it has been suggested that Aprilis was originally her month Aphrilis, from her equivalent Greek goddess name Aphrodite (Aphros), or from the Etruscan name Apru..." ref. wikipedia

AprildeBerry  Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry (15th century) .
cf. wikipedia's April & the Duke of Berry's Breviary

UpArrow  April 2014

DownArrow  March 2014

March 28th: Tom Shannon wants to concur with Dan Mazar's comments about Zach's funeral. The service was simple but profound, a fitting tribute to Zach and all his contributions as well as celebrating his family. Gil Ostiek did a great job in a very difficult situation. And singing the Ultima was not just a song but raising up a critical reality of all of our lives. A very profound movement. And having the opportunity to visit with long time friends was also a wonderful benefit. So Zach did us a great service even in his death. And he will live on in our memories and our lives.

March 28th: Joe Grush adds on: "Well stated, Daniel (Dan Mazar) & Tom Shannon"

March 27th: Dan Mazar *djm   offers a few reflections about Zach's memorial on Wednesday, March 26. The Mass and luncheon were well attended by religious and civilians. Several members of the Diaspora appeared: Dan Tanna, Tom Shannon, Tom Aldworth, Joe Grush, Jerry Hiller, Andy Knoell. Charlie Faso, Bill Spencer, Phil Hogan, John Leonard and Gil Ostdiek, Mario Diccico, were among a host of friars. Zach's family members were also in the congregation. The Mass was simple and elegant. Bob Hutmacher played the harp and piano. A young lady played the flute. Gil gave the homily which recounted how Zach thought about God and how we might interact with the Divine. Of course, we all got a chance to chat with folks we had not seen for many years. Plus, it was the first time back to CTU for many of the students from the early days. I would not be surprised that some photos will emerge. I am sure the smartphones were in use. Finally, I am proud to remark that those of us in the Diaspora were able to join in singing the "Ultima" and remembered the words... *djm

March 26th: Zachary Hayes, OFM


March 16th: Tom Shannon tells DD: I received an email from Tom Nairn this Sunday, the 16th of March that Zachary Hayes died this afternoon at 2PM CST. Zach was a most significant mentor for me beginning with his classes in T-Town, continuing through his teaching at the Boston diocesan seminary in Boston when I was in graduate school there, and continuing on when we worked together on various projects and gave some papers together on panels. Zach really taught me how to think and organize research as well as being a constant support for my work. The theological foundation he gave us was amazing and continues to hold up even after many years. He was a founding faculty member at CTU and continued his influence there for many years. I am privileged to have been taught by Zach and to have been able to work with him as a colleague over the years. Rest in well deserved peace.

ZacharyHayes  Zachary Hayes, OFM (1932-2014)
NB. an e-mail sent out earlier noted that the Liturgy for Christian Burial with Zachary Hayes' cremains present will be celebrated on Wednesday, March 26th, at 11:00 a.m. at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. Please note that the CTU garage entrance at the south end of the new building at 5416 South Cornell, will be open for guest parking. There will be a luncheon following the liturgy. Since it is to a be a catered lunch, please RSVP to Christine Henderson (CTU's Manager of Events & Services) at 773.371.5402 or e-mail directly your request to the newly established "hayesmemorial" at CTU before next week if you want to attend the luncheon so that food may be ordered from the caterer.

Dan Mazar *djm adds on some precious memories: Zach and I became good friends and remained so after I returned to civilian life in 1970. We often dined together and enjoyed conversations that covered theology, the arts, and just about anything else. He especially enjoyed the notion that a few of us remembered his birthday by giving him a bottle of Asbach (German brandy that he enjoyed from his days in Bonn). The brandy always tasted better because it was contraband and we made him into an outlaw, which he enjoyed immensely. Zach was held in high regard by the Chicago Chapter of the Diaspora who were delighted when he attended our gatherings and got a chance to visit and chat with us. More personally, he was friend of my family and sat at the family table several times over the years. He often remarked at the staying power of the Diaspora guys and how much we benefited from and treasured our teachers and that we remembered them with fondness. I always made it a point to remind him of that at every dinner we had together. Der Herr Doktor and Professor was a special teacher and friend and I was blessed by Providence to know him over all these years. He will rest in peace alongside Tars, Fel, and Big Cal. They were quite a quartet. *djm

Jerry Etzkorn adds on: A star has fallen. Zach and I were contemporary students, he in Bonn and I in Louvain as we pursued our doctorates. Zach had done so much in bringing the wonderful messages of Bonaventure to light in many respects by his translations. He offered us much spiritual nourishment. He has passed on his inheritance to us all. He'll be missed.

Dan Tanna adds on: Thank you Tom Shannon for your eloquent tribute to Zack's umph on all if us during those turbulent times. I concur with your sentiments pro longum et latum! I trust all is well at Eagles Mere. Happy St. Patrick's day, Tom...!

March 11th: Around the Province tells Diaspora Digest that Harry Speckman is retiring to Wisconsin this March, "yet even in his absence his work to bring people to God will continue across Northern Michigan through Baraga Broadcasting (BB). The gentle Franciscan priest assigned to Indian River’s Cross in the Woods National Shrine and Parish 14 years ago helped to found the Catholic radio network. Offering Catholics and non-Catholics a network with 24/7 programming he said is “informational, inspirational, and formational” seemed in tune with what he envisaged his vocation’s mission to be upon ordination nearly 53 years ago...." NB. If you would like a copy of the Around The Province's newsletter then send DDmail a note and we'll ask ATP's José Martínez Valenzuela (alias Pépé) to e-mail you the PDF (Portable Document Format) version of the article or send you the printed version, pronto...! (jds) 

HarrySpeckman  Harry Speckman, OFM at his Baraga Broadcasting
cf. The Diocese of Gaylord's article

March 6th: Dan Tanna wrote: For many of us who remember the Niehaus family from our Teutopolis days in theology, Charlie Niehaus shuffled this mortal coil on 3-4-14 late that afternoon with family in attendance. Charlie and his wife, Arlene hosted a DD reunion for us the Fall of '95 at their home in Effingham. RIP!  That was a great reunion. We met in T-town and toured the novitiate and talked around the picnic tables and some kind of large school room. That night we had a great visit at their house in Effingham. It was truly memorable and well attended with guys from all over the Midwest. ~Gael

CharlieNiehaus  Wayne Charles “Charlie” Niehaus Sr. (1923-2014)
cf. Charlie Niehaus, family & funeral arrangements:

March 5th: Diaspora Digest completely forgot about  Ash Wednesday's "Remember that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return."   Most children aren't very worried about becoming dust or ashes. They simply enjoy the attention sincere adults give to them... (jds)

AshWednesday  Genesis 3:19 and child
cf. Ash Wednesday, Ireland's "National No Smoke Day" & beginning of Lent"

March 3th: Jin Sexton (jds) noticed that Dan Mazar *djm  didn't know exactly who Michael Robbins, the poet and writer who reviewed David Bentley Hart's latest book was. Since they are practically neighbors up there in Chicago and have both gone through one of the longest, coldest and snowiest winters The Windy City has felt in decades, I thought maybe Dan would like to see and read some of Michael Robbins's poetry. So here goes. (jds)

Michael Robbins  Michael Robbins, his books & cat

Springtime in Chicago in November.

My forty-first year to heaven.
My left hand wants to know
what my right hand is doing.
Oh. Sorry I asked.

First comes love, which I disparage.
I blight with plagues a baby-carriage.
Green means go and red means red.
Now we’re cooking with Sudafed.

Steer by, deerfly. I hereby declare
the deer tick on my derriere
a heretic. Derelict, hunker down.
Get the Led out, Goodman Brown.

Get thee behind me, Nathan.
Horseman, ramble on.
Springtime snows white hairs on me.
Green means go and go means gone.

by Micahel Robbins
cf. Michael Robbins' poetry & Commonweal's book review on Hart's new book 'The Experience of God'


March 1st: DD's 2 editors *djm & (jds) ganged up on ~Gael to tell his story of how Diaspora Digest got started like who paid the postage, mailed it out, corrected the spelling, updated addresses, furnished all the typewriter’s paper and ribbons, etc... Little did we expect ~Gael would put together 700 words and a story befitting John Steinbeck’s “Travels with Charley”. The only difference between the travels of ~Gael & Susan and Steinbeck’s are they didn’t need a camping car or poodle, only an old mail van, about 10 years, two continents and lots of wanderlust. (jds)

Gaeland Susan  Gael and Susan (McMahon) Stahl

Jim Sexton (jds) and Dan Mazar (*djm) have noticed I don’t contribute as much to Diaspora Digest like I used to when Jack Brennan and I edited and published the digest. Probably due to the fact that with age I’ve grown into my ruts or routines like waking up early in the morning, giving the dogs a good belly rub, getting the daily newspapers, reading them, breaking my fast, and looking at some of my books and magazines or checking the daily email. I also go twice a week downtown to Nashville for breakfast with 12 ex-clergy types and our local Sherlockians group.

So, to get me going again why not let me tell you how Diaspora Digest got started. Well, I was one of the last in my class to leave the active Franciscan life. After working in Corpus Christi parish in Chicago and St. Vincent de Paul in Nashville from 1967 to 1973, I took a year’s leave in July 1973. I met Susan McMahon, my future wife shortly after and was loathe to leave her at the end of the year – 40 years later I’m more than glad I didn’t. In 1979 we stayed with the Sextons in Burgundy, France from March 1st to May 15th. We went home, bought a retired mail van, put in our essential housewares and made what we thought was a permanent move to California. At first, we drove north in tears at leaving Tennessee to visit with Mike and Judy Mooney and their kids. They had just moved back from California to Indianapolis. I knew they’d wipe away my tears and ready me for the future. We stopped to see Jim Schmitt, a former classmate who was then a diocesan pastor in middle Nebraska and were treated to Jim’s home cooked lamb and rosemary dinner in a chalet on a breathtaking lake. In Sacramento we stayed two years mostly with my brother and sister’s families but also a spell with classmate Jack and Gayle Brennan in Spokane when Mt. St. Helen blew its top and covered us in an inch of silicone dust for weeks. I ran a marathon and Susan got homesick so we returned home in April 1981 and went south to New Orleans’s Mardi Gras. While standing in the garden of classmate Bob Pawell’s new friary in the French Quarter, we talked with our classmate Chris Reuter who was also visiting. I told Bob and Chris that I had really missed my former classmates over the past 10 years and suggested they send me their correspondence with one another and others and I would collect and edit it and send it out to our classmates and other former friars. So began our Digest of the Diaspora.

The first year of 1982 we mailed probably 20 letters from about 10 people, which in a few years grew to three annual digests of 30 or more pages with a readership of 250 people including some still active friars. I mailed out the collected correspondence to everybody with the editing help of Jack Brennan. In the late 90’s Jack created Diaspora Digest’s blog and later on our own web site called DiasporaDigest.org that reproduced printed version online. Unfortunately it never caught on with the same fervor of the printed version but he put it out for us until he died during Holy Week of 2009. I was spending that week in the hospital for the first time in my life from pernicious diarrhea that turned out to be celiac disease. Once I quit eating wheat bread and all wheat products I was fine, but way too sick to go Jack’s funeral. It was a delight working almost daily with Jack all those years and one of the biggest regrets is not being able to be present at his funeral. I know all his family intimately. Our classmates Jerry Klein and Dennis Griffin made it to Spokane to represent our class and loss. Years later in May 2013, Jim Sexton (jds) and Dan Mazar (*djm) thought maybe the Digest could be revived. I agreed it was worth a try. They combined the Digest’s web site and blog into one entity. So now you can go to ddigest.org and read or write whatever comments you like. There’s nothing like conversation threads of fringe friars. The Diaspora Digest lives and thrives when we’re in contact.
~Gael Stahl

UpArrow  March 2014

DownArrow  February 2014

February 28th: Richard Mayer wrote: "Since a couple of you have inquired (names withheld to protect the guilty) about my preaching, I have decided to post a link to some of my sermons, if you are interested. Most of them get recorded. I have included the outline and Scripture readings for the Sunday where I thought it would be important." Also, he mentioned that a married dad becomes a Maronite Catholic priest in Saint Louis the same day. This good news comes from Richard Mayer of St. Louis. He was one class ahead of me. One of my best friends in theology. On the Sunday after Christmas Susan and I went to his Mass with his wife and had breakfast afterwards. He became an Episcopalian priest five to ten years ago. He's been helping out at various parishes in west St. Louis a long time. ~Gael

MaronitePriestAndDaughter  Fr. Wissam Akiki gives communion to his daughter.
cf. Maronite married Wissam Akiki ordained priest & Richard Meyer's sermons:

February 27th: ~Gael & Dan Mazar (~Gael & *djm) we're talking about David Bentley Hart's new book 'The Experience of God' Dan, it sure is a small world. It blows my mind you know David Bentley Hart who wrote "The Experience of God" that Michael Robbins reviewed in the Commonweal'. I was so impressed by him. He must be a hell of a guy to get such a review. The literary world lost out when you took another path, Dan. You'd have shone brightly with that gang. ~Gael

~Gael, I am delighted to say that I do know David Bentley Hart. I met him when he was a professor at Providence College. It was thought that he would be tenured there but the Dominicans in charge may have been a bit wary or leery of him or his writings. He became friends with Pat Reid, who was a year ahead of me. Pat has been teaching at Providence for 40 years or better. The three of us had some great conversations during the few days I was there visiting Pat. David now lives in Virginia or Maryland, near Chesapeake Bay. His meditation of evil in book form is a great read as is his book which throws the atheists down the stairs. JJ (John Joe Lakers), Gerry Etzkorn, and Zach would really have enjoyed a discussion with him. On the other hand I don't seem to know who Michael Robbins is, but I did enjoy his review. *djm

David Hart  'The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness, Bliss' by David Brentley Hart
cf. David Hart's book & Commonweal review by Michael Robbins:

February 26th: ~Gael Stahl's Sherlockian friend Ronald Kritter sent a review of 'The Age of Atheism' by Michael Dirda.  This Dirda review covers many of the things we've mulled recently and certainly in the past. I think it might be worthy of a look. It was for me. I live in this conversation most every week due to my subscriptions to Commonweal and NY Review of Books. Not a bad place to live -- in the shadow of eternity. But humor and music and poetry must break through too to give the whole picture. I smile. ~Gael

AgeofAtheists  Peter Watson's 'The Age of Atheism' at Amazon
cf. The Washington Post's review by Michael Dirda & Peter Watson's book 'The Age of Atheism' at Amazon

February 23rd: Mike Haney & John Townshend sent a link to The Amazing Pope Francis , "What a breath of fresh air..!"
PopeFrancis_I  Pope Francis at the Vatican
cf. some splendid pictures & accomplishments of the Pope.

February 20th: PBS's Frontline proposes "Secrets of the Vatican". "A report on the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, the first pope to step down voluntarily in 600 years, and the efforts of his successor, Pope Francis, to tame the forces that helped destroy Benedict's papacy and set the Catholic Church on a new path. It is a special, 90-minute FRONTLINE presentation which tells the epic, inside story of the collapse of the Benedict Papacy and illuminates the extraordinary challenges facing Pope Francis as he tries to reform the powerful Vatican bureaucracy, root out corruption, and chart a new course for the troubled Catholic Church and its 1.2 billion followers."  "Secrets of the Vatican" premiers Tuesday, February 25th. (jds)

TheVatican  "see, hear and speak no evil..." Analects of Confucius (2nd to 4th century BC)

SaintPetersSquare  Frontline's full transcript of the Vatican's Secrets
cf. Frontline's "Secrets of the Vatican" & word for word transcript:

February 18th: Dan Mazar *djm wrote: February 20 will mark the 16th anniversary of Tars's death in 1998. He had just celebrated his 80th birthday in the hospital and was delighted to achieved that mile stone. I have no doubt that there are many memories of Tars that will surface as you give him a good thought and a prayer. And maybe hum a bit of Gregorian--but only as the monks of Solesmes would hum it.

Tars Tarsicius Fischer, OFM 1918 - 1998

Gael Sthal ~Gael adds: Most everything I learned about music in my first 30 years came from Tars or Mooney.
Dan Tanna adds on: "An unforgettably bright shinning star in our galaxy of blessings".

February 17th: Maury Smith wrote: I haven't seen the Diaspora in a while but I looked at it tonight. I am going down to Winter Park, Florida for a retreat. I have lost Jerry Klein's contact info. I think his twin brother still lives in Florida. If anybody has his address, please send it to me. Thanks.  Maury, here's my latest on Jerry Klein. When Susan and I tried to visit him at Christmas time a couple years ago, we had his old address and could never get him by phone. So good luck. I'd call him or write him first, if I was you. This may be an old address too. Jerry and Terry (Theresa) Klein, 1744 Valley Garden Drive, Jacksonville, 32225, Florida 20010 cell: 904-710-0454 & home: 904-329-1352 ~Gael

February 12th: Dan Tanna wrote: "I read a sketch on  Fr. Eugene Michel in the ATP (Around The Province) this morning. He is celebrating 50 years of ups and downs (mostly ups) as a priest. His ministry certainly has moved the ball forward for team "Great Commission". His iteration (I hope that's a word...!) of his trek to and through Mayslake to the novitiate to OLA then back again to T-Town and FINALLY ordination in January of '64 brought it all back to me. Gene was my table prefect at Mayslake and shared his wisdom humbly. Being an 'A' academic underachiever, I marveled at a study practice he found useful: bookmark your study session with a sprinkling of light reading. Not exactly his words, but I play back that insight frequently. So Thank you, Fr. Eugene. Ad multos annos... NB. If you would like a copy of the Around The Province's newsletter with Fr. Eugene Michel, then send DDmail a note and we'll ask ATP's José Martínez Valenzuela (alias Pépé) to e-mail you the PDF (Portable Document Format) version of the article, pronto...! (jds) 

EugeneMichel  Eugene Michel,OFM & Morales family at Sacred Heart Chruch Saint Paul, MN
cf. Fr. Eugene's chruch and friends up in Minnesota:

February 12th: Dan Mazar *djm tells DD:  Gil Ostdiek received the Berakah (liturgy) Award from the North American Academy of Liturgy last January 8th.

GilOstdiek  Edward Foley, Richard McCarron, Eileen Crowley, Gil Ostdiek & Mark Francis
cf. CTU's article about Gil Ostdiek's award and liturgy:

February 11th: The Islamic Republic of Iran celebrates 35 years of troubled history today. Not unlike precedent Persian dynasties, this one in time shall fail and fall too. It's seems to me (and many of our Iranian friends) only a matter of time and culture before the Islamic part of Iran's Republic comes tumbling down and returns to the mosques (مساجد masajid) where it belongs. (jds)

Khomeini and Friends  Khomeini & companions 1979
Khamenei and Rouhani  Khamenei & Rouhani 2013 
NB. As is no birthday parties, presents, candles or illusions from us... (jds)
cf. The Washington Post article "Iran’s Islamic Republic at 35" & Khomeini's life and legacy:

February 2nd: Sunday's NFL Super Bowl XLVIII verses Sunday's PBS Frontline "League of Denial" . Neither seems to have won or lost. So the show must go on...  (jds)

NFL  Seattle Seahawks

Frontline  PBS's Frontline "League of Denial" concussions by position
cf. Seattle Seahawks souvenirs & auctions and PBS Frontline's rage:

February 1st: PBS's "Living on Earth" (an independent and rather zealous environmental organization from Boston, MA) rebroadcast their 1998 interview with the famous singer & song writer Pete Seeger (1919 – 2014). The full transcript is available along with the registered recording of a man who sang his way through life, a long and sincere one indeed. (jds)

PeteSeeger  a 2007 Pete Seeger documentary by Jim Brown
cf. Pete Seeger's interview & documentary:

UpArrow  February 2014

DownArrow  January 2014

January 31rd: The Great Chinese New Year Migration of the Horse. Unlike Gregorian & Julian calendars, Chinese have their own calendar and New Year dating back to the Yellow Emperor called Huangdi who reigned China 4 thousand years ago from 2698 to 2598 BC. As the story goes aside from the Emperor's long life, there was once a monster called Nian who gobbled up nearly everything the Chinese peasants owned from crops, livestock to children and themselves. So, everybody cooked up some food and left a bite on their doorsteps for Nian to eat instead of crops and kids, which helped calm the beast down a bit. Though until Hongjun Laozu, a legendary Taoist monk did the Chinese find a suitable way to defend themselves against the ghoulish monster Nian. It's told that the Taoist monk challenged Nian to eat him first before anymore peasants, livestock, children or crops. Nian was all for it since he was hungry and knew that once the monk was gone he could devour whoever or whatever he wanted from then on. But before we get started said Hongjun Laozu, let me take off my cloths. I’ll taste a lot better without any sandals or robe. Nian agreed. So the monk stepped out of his sandals and took off his robe. Low and behold underneath his gown he wore bright red underpants. The beast stepped back in fear, paralyzed with the sight of the monk's red underpants. The Taoist monk had guessed correctly. The monster feared the color red and to this day that is why there are so many red colors and lanterns during the Chinese New Year, as well as colorful red clothes, uniforms and maybe even red underpants. (jds) & Wikipedia for little kids...

ChineseNewYearMigration  TheHorse  The Chinese New Year of the Horse
cf. Chinese calendar, New Year, Yellow Emperor, Nian & Taoist monk:

January 22nd: Dan Mazar (*djm) keeps us informed about Zachary Hayes: "On impulse, I called Zach's friary and spoke with Brother Kevin.  He told me that Zach has recovered consciousness and was doing much better. In fact, Zach would be able to take a phone call. So I reached him in mid-afternoon and we chatted for about 10 minutes. He sounded weak and his memory remains somewhat spotty. He did not speak of his health at all, and was a bit surprised that we knew of his condition. Nonetheless, he was in good spirits. It was our usual conversation: family, friends, the arts, etc..." Zach's address is: 1820 Grand Avenue Manitowoc, Wisconsin 54220-6356
Zachary Hayes  Zachary Hayes, OFM 1820 Grand Avenue Manitowoc, Wisconsin 54220-6356
John Dombrowski added on: "We just wanted to update you on Zachary Hayes ' condition. His heart rate has returned to a more stable rhythm and he is alert and mobile. Because of the stage 5 renal failure, his heart will continue to go through these kinds of episodes and eventually will end his life. Please keep him in your prayers."

January 21st: Jim Sexton (jds)  watched Bloomberg TV and saw what Warren Buffett's "ovarian lottery" theory is all about, thanks to Bill Gates and Michael Bloomberg.  Now this might well be out of DD’s realm & domain, but both Gates and Bloomberg are convinced the world is getting to be a better place to live in regardless of mass media’s relentless pessimism. Neither Gates or Bloomberg spoke of the stock market, religion, politics or who’s who in Forbes Magazine or on the Oscar’s red carpet this year. Instead they talked about billions upon millions of people, men, women and children who didn’t fare so well in Warren Buffett’s “ovarian lottery”, yet nevertheless are doing little better today than yesterday thanks to human progress and numbers. Now that’s good news, isn’t it…? (jds)

BloombergTV  Bill Gates & Michael Bloomberg
cf. Bloomber TV and Warren Buffett's lottery,

January 18th: John Dombrowski wrote: "Please remember Zachary Hayes in your prayers. Zachary is currently experiencing cardiac issues related to kidney failure. He remains alert and responsive but his condition is deteriorating and the prognosis is poor. He will remain at Blessed Giles Friary while being cared for by the Hospice."
Tom Shannon added on: "...though the news is unwelcome, I thought you would like to be informed of this. Zach was a large part of many of our lives and gave us a great theological vision. And since he had three courses from the young theologian Joseph Ratzinger we are all blessed to be three degrees of separation from the retired Pope."

January 16th: Jack Bartz noticed a Wall Street Journal article about Junipero Serra (1713-1784) and book review by Felipe Fernández-Armesto concerning: "Journey to the Sun" by Gregory Orfalea & "Junípero Serra" by Steven Hackel. Junipero (even after John Paul II beatified him in 1988) remains a pretty controversial Friar from Spain's Majorca islands. Lots of questions arose before and after his beatification and are still present today about how California's Native Americans were treated. As one Friar of the epoch supposedly noted, Indians "live well free but as soon as we reduce them to a Christian and community life, they fatten, sicken, and die." (jds)

Junipero Serra  Junipero ("Father Presidente") Serra
cf. The two books & Junipero Serra's legacy:

January 13th: Frank Flinn wrote: ""I think DD should publish this..." Ken (Dale) Brune's website.  Suzanne Hill & Adam Block created Dale's website in 2009 and updated it practically every month until Dale's recent death in November 2013. The website is extremely well done and has more than 50 different pages about Dale and his various activities in Santarem, Brazil. Dale himself writes: "My name is Fr. Ken Brune. I welcome you to this Web site inspired by two of my classmates, Frank Hellstern and Erv Pfeifer, with professional assistance from Adam Block, webmaster, and Suzanne Hill, journalist. Erv, Frank and I have known one another for many years. They want you to learn about the missionary work I have been doing the past 50 years in the Amazon area of Brazil. They also would like for you to know a little bit more about the area where I have been carrying out my pastoral work". Frank Flinn, Dale Brune's class mate thinks this is well worth seeing. There are some good photos of a very good man. ~Gael

Ken Dale Brune  Dale Brune, (1938-2013)
cf. Dale's Website, Brazil & the Amazon:

January 10th: Jerry Hiller writes about his first encounter with Gael Stahl (~Gael) & Michael Mooney and tells DD about what he's been up to all these years: "I first met you ~Gael and Michael Mooney when you came to Oak Brook's Novitiate and got us all involved in the May & Spencer School Boycott. Years later I got a copy of your Diaspora Digest and I would like to re-connect today. I went to OLA from Padua High school, and my class was with Mike Haney, Bill Spencer, John Townshend, Warren Kmiec. I was one of three who graduated from OLA and taught for one year prior to CTU. Lawrence Jagfield went to CTU, but I stayed teaching and living on Chicago's south side at Corpus Christi Church while in simple vows. I didn't take solemn vows, but remained a teacher at Corpus Christi for a total of 7 years. I then worked at Christ Hospital as a social worker and in private practice of psychology. After my doctorate, my wife Marilynn Rochon and I started doing lunch time seminars at St. Peter's in Chicago. February the 3rd will be our 800th session. We're in our 24th year now of doing this and thus far around 34,800 have attended our programs. The program is called, "Repair My House: Mind-Body-Soul Skills For the Journey". There is a video which aired on Chicago's Channel 11 called "30 Good Minutes" and some internet links listed below. 

But more important, Marilynn and I would like to thank those of the Diaspora and Chicago's St. Peter's Church that helped us get started and keep on going. If it had not been for Jack Bartz organizing a meeting of the Diaspora in 1990 or Mike Crosby form St. Peter's talking about how the "alumni" could contribute, I doubt we'd be here today. And we are here today, thanks mainly to Chuck Faso, the 'godfather' of the program. He invited and encouraged us to keep on going. His sister Mary Faso was in charge of livening up the crowds prior to our talks. We also have to thank Tom Aldworth and Bill Spencer when pastors at St. Peter's, and today's Kurt Hardrich. A special thanks goes out to Mario Dicicco and Bob Powell who have done a fantastic job of providing excellent adult education. All these friars and friends have supported us, and we are so grateful to be a part of the "repairing". Finally we have to mention Alfred Adler, the famous Austrian psychologist who taught his students that psychologists should work themselves out of a job.
 Jerry, you have a great memory. Like Bill Spencer whom Mike and I met in Ruston, Louisiana the summer of 1965. He later joined our seminary and of course is now our provincial. Thanks for putting all those memories together. Mike Mooney will be here in few days and I'll ask him if he remembers the visit to the Oak Brook novitiate or the school boycott. I don't. But those were the days, weren't they...? Thanks so much for refreshing our memory. ~Gael

The Hillers  Jerry & Marilynn at St. Peter's "Repair My House..." program  
cf. Jerry Hiller & Marilynn Rochon's "Repair My House..." and Saint Peter's in Chicago's Loop:

January 9th: Jerry Hiller dropped a short note to Dan Mazar *djm remembering Dan's mother and mentioning: "Jim Zangs said his daughter Shannon is into philosophy, and I thought of you. Have you finished reading John Joe Lakers's book...?".  John Joe's book on ethics was published several years ago. I did read it and spend some time with JJ discussing it. Of course, he was unhappy with it and considered it unreadable. Not me..! He did say he was trying to put everything he thought about ethics and morality into one book. He was very reluctant to publish but did so when his health began to fail. I am not sure if it is still in print. Probably not, and I'm not sure who the publisher was either. It is heavy duty reading. JJ wrote as he lectured, clauses in search of a verb .... *djm

JohnJoeLakers  John Joe Lakers, OFM (1930-2011)
cf. Joe Zimmerman's blog and collecton of John Joe Lakers's writings:

January 8th: Dan Tanna thanks Dan Mazar *djm for remembering Francis Leo after 46 years: "Mercy Dan, Tempus fugit still. Remembering Francis Leo cum admiratione."

January 7th: Dan Mazar *djm sends his Christmas greetings to our orthodox friends, since December 25th in the Gregorian equals January 7th in the Julian calendar because there is a 13 day difference between the two calendars. In another 100 years there will be a 14 day difference. But until then, the basic problem between the Julian and Gregorian calendars has more to do with Easter than Christmas. The First Council of Nicaea (325 AD) decided Easter should be calculated from the first full moon after spring's equinox (ie. 20th or 21st of March), which coincides with the Jewish Passover's festival. The Julian calendar from 46 BC on was based upon 365.25 days (365 days + 6 hours) per year, while Pope Gregory XIII's papal bull Inter gravissimas of 1582 set the clock back to 365.2425 days (365 days + 5 hours + 49 minutes + 12 seconds) per year. As if that wasn't enough, Gregory even skipped 3 leap days every 400 years, which obviously Julius Caesar never would have imagined doing. Therefore every 400 years the Julian calendar adds on 100 leap days and Gregorian shaves off 3 leap days, and Easter Sunday falls somewhere between March 22nd and 25th April for us non-orthodox easter egg hunters and between April 4th and May 8th for our more orthodox egg hunters. Yet surprisingly enough, 2014's Easter will fall exactly upon the 20th of April for everybody concerned, orthodox or not. So Happy Easter way ahead of time, and may all your days and leap years be happy. (jds) ...Before the Julian and Gregorian corrections, they were having to deal with seasons being out of adjust for planting and reaping. It was a mess. And debates about the date to celebrate Easter occasioned some wars, mostly of the West with the Orthodox. ~Gael

Equinox  Equinox occurs twice a year, around March 20th & September 22nd  
cf. The Gregorian & Julian calendars & Easter & Equinox:

January 6th: The Epiphany (from the ancient Greek epiphaneia, "manifestation or appearance") was first mentioned by Ammianus Marcellinus in the 4th century. The feast is celebrated throughout Christendom on the 12th day after Christmas in many different fashions, all the way from Bulgarians dancing in ice cold water to France's gallete des rois and Colorado's fruit cake tossing contest. But basically the Epiphany or Theophany is all about the nativity, incarnation and baptism of Jesus of Nazareth as the Son of God, not to mention other traditions like the Star of Bethlehem or Magi's three wise men; Melchior from Persian, Caspar from India, and Balthazar from North Africa... and for all our orthodox friends we'll most likely have to reschedule another Epiphany (or rather "Theophany" ) on 19th of January... (jds)

Fra Angelico  Adoration of the Magi by Fra Angelico & Filippo Lippi:
cf. The Epiphany, Nativity, Incarnation, Magi & Star of Bethlehem:

January 5th: NPR's Ira Flatow of Science Friday interviewed Michael Pollan (a so called "liberal foodie intellectual" from the University of California, Berkley) about plants. "Plants dominate every terrestrial environment, composing ninety-nine per cent of the biomass on earth. By comparison, humans and all the other animals are "just traces", in the words of one plant neurobiologist..."   life without vegetation is inconceivable, even the Book of Genesis grew a garden and apple before Adam and Eve...(jds)  

Mimosa pudica  Mimosa pudica, a fantastic plant that learns to adapt.
cf. Pollan's NPR interview & article & Mimosa pudica:

January 2nd: Dan Mazar *djm recalls 1968 & Francis Leo: The 3rd of January is the 46th anniversary of the death of Francis Leo. I think just about every one in the DD has a memory or two of Fel. He was my spiritual director at Westmont for 3-4 years until he went on the Mission Band. He also taught me how to make a martini and not bruise the gin. He surely had an impact on a whole bunch of us. Francis Leo was my spiritual director for six years and I never had another so good. He was much missed for years in that regard and many others. A super loving soul and kept us all together. The heart of the province went slack for us in many ways with his death. Though he developed later problems I saw him only at his best. Thanks for helping us remember him, Dan. Hard to believe he's been gone 46 years. ~Gael

Happy NewYear
Thanks to Bede The Venerable (c.673-735 AD) & Dennis the Dwarf (c.470-544 AD) who invented Anno Domini calendars. Otherwise we'd probably be stuck back in the middle ages counting our toes and fingers instead of new years...!

Bede  Bede & Dennis the Dwarf's AD calendar took until c.14th century to be wholeheartedly accepted.
cf. the history & diversity of today's calendars

UpArrow  January 2014

DownArrow  December 2013

Thanks to all our Diaspora contributors of 2013's Digest :

 Cris Reuter
 Dick Mayer
 John Ostdiek
 Jack Bartz
 Frank Flinn
 Jim Ballard
 Dan Tanna
 Tom Shannon
 Dan Mazar
 Paul Meyers
 Paul Stubenbort
 Paul Langan
 Herb Wheatley
 Dennis Koopman
 Jim Burns
 Jim Sexton
 James Fisher
 Vince Zimmerman
 Scott Kuhle
 Cullan Uhlinger
 John Townshend
 Lyonel Gilmer
 Gil Ostdiek
 Marilyn Stahl
 ~Gael Stahl

December 27th: Dan Tanna wonders: Does anyone in the DD community have the special memory of Dale Brune's home brew like I do..? On Shrove Tuesday 1962, Dale concocted a batch of his Washington Missouri homebrew for the entire Cleveland clericate. one doubts any of us have a memory comparable to Dan's, and to boot he even writes an Ode to Dale reminding us of "What a Wonderful World" and memories we happen to live in... (jds)

An Ode to Dale Brune by Dan Tanna
During the dark days and even darker nights on Rocky River Drive,
When the lights of Scotus and Thomas were yet to arrive,
While Val and Ferdie and Matt and Aggie - truth's giant pillars no less,
Did wonders to shepherd me through the mess,
'Twas Dales home-brew I remember the best,
That "nectarded" my soul in haeceitas quest.

"The Latin word haecceitas translates as "thisness" and is a term from medieval philosophy first coined by Duns Scotus which denotes the discrete qualities, properties or characteristics... of a person or object's "thisness..." etc. So Dan's soul was filled with "thisness" too, thanks to Dale Brune's ale...! cf. Wikipedia for "haecceitas", but not for Dan's soul or Dale's ale

December 27th: Dan Mazar wrote: What a great "Ode" Dan Tanna wrote for Dale Brune. I never realized that such an aesthetic sense was in Dan, a Quincy native. At Westmont Dan's nickname was "Turtle", and he was part of the “hero” group that made such a deep impression on us freshmen in 1959. Way to go, Turtle. And thanks for your Ode to Dale Brune.

December 25th: "Deck the hall with boughs of holly, fa la la la la la la la la. 'Tis the season to be jolly, fa la la ..."

Noel Deck The Halls  Christ's Mass & 16th century "Nos Galan" or "Deck the Halls"
cf. Christ's Mass history & "Deck the Halls" origin & lyrics

December 11th: Time Magazine's Person of the Year 2013.

Pope Francis  Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 266th Pope of the Catholic Church
cf. the life, family history & writings of Pope Francis:

December 10th: Dan Mazar strats the Christmas season with "Et Incarnatus Est": Well, it is that time of year again to wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Let us rejoice in the Incarnation and all the hope that means. May you all enjoy a great New Year and all that it can bring. Pax Dan

Bethlehem  We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year...
cf. We wish You a Merry Cristmas...

December 8th: Jim Sexton & Dan Mazar a little while back got into a squabble over some lawyer jokes from up in Fairbank's Alaska. Sexton (jds) thought the jokes were funny enough for posting. Dan *djm thought maybe the jokes might be a step or two out of bounds for DDigest. So, "let the Diaspora decide..!" says ~Gael

Winston Churchill once said: "Lawyers occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened."
Up in Fairbanks, Alaska there is a specialized legal software company called Icicle Software with lots of funny lawyer jokes...(jds)
Q: How does an attorney sleep...? First he lies on one side, then he lies on the other.
Q: What's the difference between a lawyer and God...? God doesn't think he's a lawyer.
Q: How many lawyers does it take to screw in a light bulb...? Three, one to climb the ladder, one to shake it and one to sue the ladder company.
Q: What's the difference between a lawyer and a prostitute...? A prostitute will stop screwing you when you're dead.
Q: Why did God make snakes just before lawyers...? Just to practice.

LawyerJokes  Icicle Software, Fairbanks, Alaska.
cf. Icicle Software's collection of lawyer and legal jokes:

Dan, I think you're right. Those Alaskan lawyer jokes don’t seem to fit into DD’s genre. What got me off on law and lawyers in the first place was the Greek word “epieikeia”, or as we pronounced and tried to spell in theology “epikeia”. At T-Town we used “epikeia” to do whatever we damn well pleased and in the aftermath all our antics did were to scandalize the rest of the Province. When Puff (Germain) disappeared, Medard took all the blame for the chaos we’d created at T-Town. Then came Dismas Bonner, the mastermind of “epikeia” and canon law. Once he took over at CTU all of us knew we were in for a big game change. So I took off with a couple months of vows left and later on Gael and Michael Mooney got thrown out of Cardinal Cody’s Chicago for preaching quasi anarchy. During those days we all needed a sense of humor, maybe some funny bishop jokes instead of lawyers. Of course, we were all too uneasy to be laughing at that time. We had placed high hopes in Vatican II until around 1968, when things started turning sour and downward. These were truly “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” times and days. Maybe, just maybe before closing down Vatican II’s doors, Paul VI could have pulled some sort of rabbit out of his pontifical hat, like celibacy or “epikeia”, but didn’t. Then came the grand exodus and after the storm Gael & Jack's Diaspora Digest. First DD popped up in our mail boxes then on the Internet. It helped heal some old wounds and renewed lots of friendships that had been left behind for years. Amazing, and now where do we go from here...? Jim

3 Bishops Walking Away  Three Bishops walking away from Vatican II

Jim, You had me running back to my Greek dictionary. Seems we were practicing "epikeia" at OLA in Quincy, also. That principle of law and ethics was not explained to us clerics, but we unconsciously were applying it, and liberally. You theologians were a bigger cause for scandal since you guys were much closer to ordination and heading into the pulpits. Puff and Fel started a program at CTU to have friars in the field come to CTU for a refresher course and get to know the clerics. We called it "dry cleaning". Eustace Struckhoff came up from San Antonio. At the end of his stay, he made a little speech to the community. His point was that while he did not understand all the theology being taught by Zach and others, he was made to feel part of the community. He told Dismas that the clerics possessed charity and that was a very good sign. Diz was not overly happy. By the way, Diz was not above using epikeia for his own purposes.

You are correct that when Puff and Fel died and Vitus took over, we lost our clout in the province. Vitus was good man but in way over his head and was easily manipulated by guys like Diz and Matt Menges. Progress in the province came to a halt and there was a push for a return to the old Pre-Vatican II days. Medard carried the weight at T-Town. Lucan, our guardian at OLA, carried it for us. Gerry Etzkorn was relieved by the time I got to OLA. We had Phil Pavich and Eric Kahn as our masters and figured out ways to ignore them. Neither were leaders. From 1968 on were very tough times. My vows expired in 1970 and out the door I went. One among many, for sure.

I went to Australia for 2 years to lick my wounds and get my head back together. Also to rid myself of the bad taste of my last years in religious life. Fortunately, when I got back home, several of the diaspora settled in the Chicago area and we renewed our connections that have lasted until now. We all found our own way to cope with leaving the Order and getting on with life. However, I think we became vaccinated against religious institutional life, which can give us a rash every time some foolishness erupts from a bishop. Just lately, the bishop of Springfield, Illinois performed a public exorcism against the legislature which passed a same sex marriage law. That kind of stuff sure flies in the face of humanity and Christianity, in my opinion. Not too many of us are overzealous about church anymore, but most of us practice charity of one type or another: writing a check, meal on wheels, soup kitchens, halfway houses, and the like. And we try to treat people with respect and courtesy with some obvious exceptions like exorcisms and exorcists, of course. Whatever if Puff and Fel had stayed around a little longer to lead, our histories may well have been very different. I do suspect many of us would have left the Order anyhow, but more might have stayed on and tried to work things out. Who knows? At least most of us have regained a sense of humor and can chuckle at past absurdities and riddles. Makes a life more interesting and fun, doesn't it..?
Pax, Dan ... and *djm apologized for his lengthy epistle, saying he "started thinking and everything just kind of burbled out..." (jds)

Meanwhile Cullan Uhlinger, probably the only genuine Diaspora attorney around nowadays comes up with another lawyer joke:
Q: What's black and brown and looks good on a lawyer..? A Doberman..!
...which makes one wonder. If Franciscans were running pawnshops in the middle ages, then why not law firms today...? (jds)

December 6th: Dan Mazar & ~Gael were having a discussion back in November about Dante's "Divine Comedy"   from the Inferno to Purgatorio to Paradiso.  Good heavens, what are we (DD) getting into now...? Not really that much, since ~Gael in so many words said he couldn't get into the "Divine Comedy"  again, even though he'd already read it, Inferno and all at least twice. He also wondered why so many English translations,  upward towards 150. Dan agreed wholeheartedly and said it was refreshing to know someone else was having a hassle with Dante other than himself (and probably lots of Italians over the past seven centuries). Honestly, one would imagine Italians would prefer Giuseppe Tornatore's "Cinema Paradiso" over Dante's "Divine Comedy" today, not to mention most of the rest of us... (jds)

Dante's Divine Comedy  Maybe not so divine or comic, but Italian (Tuscany) poetry, nevertheless...
cf. Dante's Divine Comedy & Tuscany, Italy

December 5th: Nelson Mandela once said: "... if 27 years in prison have done anything to us it was to use the silence of solitude to make us understand how precious words are ..."

Nelson Mandela  at 85 Mandela said he was "retiring from retirement" and "don't call me, I will call you"
cf. The life and precious words of Nelson Mandela (1918-2013) and Charlie Rose's interviews:

December 1st: Dan Mazar (alias *djm) sends Diaspora Digest a copy of Mayslake's Newsletter and Legend: "The Newsletter is published four times a year by the Mayslake Peabody Estate and Forest Preserve District of DuPage County. It updates restoration efforts made at the Peabody mansion, known to most of us as Westmont's Retreat House and also provides research into the Peabody family and Franciscan Order’s tenure of the estate from the early 20’s up till the late 70's. Many of us may well recall the story of Peabody's coffin floating around in formaldehyde inside the Portiuncula or the relic of St. Innocent at the chapel's side altar. Well, all this piled up into a few wild stories and scary legends which Linda Freeman unmasks and tries to make some common, historic sense out of below." *djm

MaysLakePage3  Mayslake Peabody Estate Newsletter
cf. Mayslake Peabody and Franciscan history

UpArrow  December 2013


DownArrow  November 2013

November 26: John Townshend writes: "See recent ATP (Nov 19th) article about the retirement of  Andy Buvala at 92, a man who touched many of our lives."

Andy Buvala  Andy Buvala & company up in Minnesota

Last time I saw Andy Buvala was at Medard's wake quite a few years ago. He was already working with Indians up in northern Michigan at the time. We had a great chat and laughed a lot about the old days when he was Head of Discipline at Westmont. He knew pretty much all our tricks, from sneaking off to Oak Brook's Shopping Mall or hiding beer and cigarettes on Pine Hill. In the study hall he would use the reflection off the hall's windows to see what we were up to behind his back. We thought he was a magician. Guess that's why whenever we got caught fooling around Andy made us wash windows. I washed a lot of windows at Westmont and would gladly do it again for Andy Buvala. Thanks John for news about Andy. And by the way, how many windows did you wash...? *djm NB. If you would like a copy of Around The Province's newsletter with Fr. Andy Buvala, then send DDmail a note and we'll ask ATP's José Martínez Valenzuela (alias Pépé) to e-mail you the PDF (Portable Document Format) version of the article, pronto...!

cf. Around The Province at Facebook and UpNorthLive.com Peshawbestown's hero, Andy Buvala...

November 19th:~Gael's  sister Marilyn Stahl tells of a Puerto Rican, South Korean and New Yorker who walk into a bar and start singing together, later on stunning an American audience with their combined rendition of "Pie Jesu".

PieJesu  "Pie Jesu" sung by a trio from Puerto Rico, South Korea & New York.
cf. The Pie Jesu sung on Flixxy.com

November 19th: Gil Ostdiek clarifies the origin of Pie Jesu : That’s from a Requiem by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Magnificent rendition!  Thanks ~Gael for forwarding it from your sister, Marilyn.

November 19th: ~Gael recalls President Lincoln's Gettysburg Address of 1863: Today we celebrate 150 years later the greatest writing this country has ever produced, the Gettysburg Address. Hear the Gettysburg Address spoken by Ken Burns and others at LearnTheAddress.org and reread Lincoln’s outstanding address word by word below:
"Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

President Lincoln  President Lincoln at Gettysburg.
cf. Gettysburg Address and history:

November 18th+: Lyonel Gilmer wrote to ~Gael : It is good to be reminded of the actions of the "water people" of 9/11 and I appreciate your sending it forward. It is heartening to be reminded of human selflessness any time it is shared. My #3 son was a newbie in New York, working for Lehman Brothers, when the WTC was attacked. His office was in the American Express building connected to the first tower that was hit by a sky bridge. Due to a delay in the subway, he was a few minutes late arriving in the subway level of that building and made his way by escalator and elevator to the floor his office was on, unaware of what was occurring. When the elevator doors opened, he was greeted by the members of his group who said, "Come on, Barrett, come with us right now." He deduced they were all headed for a meeting he had not been informed about. Instead they exited the building onto the plaza level just in time to see the second plane hit the other tower. The force of the explosion knocked them on their backs; as Barrett was getting to his feet, a person who had jumped from the first tower landed about ten feet from him and they all started running toward the Hudson River with no destination in mind except to get away. Then that tower began its collapse at a point in time that they were engulfed by the cascade of dust from the collapse. Some people had actually begun jumping into the river in an attempt to escape the catastrophe that was unfolding only a few blocks away. Going by water was the only open option for people to leave the island of Manhattan by that time with the last trains toward the east having been the last means of public transportation. I had been alerted to the situation by someone in the business office of University School where I was working at the time, was on my cell phone with Barrett as I saw the first tower begin its collapse and I suddenly lost phone contact with him without realizing the cell phone towers had gone down with the building. We heard nothing from him for three hours until he and a couple of his colleagues succeeded in making their way to a friend's apartment on the north end of the island where there was a land line available. Barrett would not talk with us about that experience for over two years at which point he began to respond to gentle prodding to begin to open up about it. The death of the person who jumped and landed near him was particularly difficult for him to let surface. I was in New York ten days after all this occurred and was profoundly moved by the role the churches in lower Manhattan were still playing in the heart of that tragedy and who continued to do so for nearly a year after. I'll never forget circling around on foot as close to ground zero as people were allowed at that time and seeing a pair of fireman's boots on the stoop of a greystone a half block away from the police line on a side street They were filled with flowers and a portrait photo of the family member who died that day. The building where Barrett's office had been had the corner nearest the first tower completely sheared off in the collapse. When he and his colleagues were escorted back into the building to collect any remaining personal effects (he had left his laptop and a suit he had picked up from the tailor a couple of days prior), they were shocked to learn that his and some others' offices no longer existed; they were more shocked to discover that all of the offices in their building that survived had been looted of everything of any value. They were never given an explanation for that in spite of the fact that all of the buildings contingent to the WTC that were not destroyed had been closed and secured by the NYPD within hours of the second collapse after ascertaining that no one remained in them. Barrett has commented a number of times about the extent of the spontaneous efforts of boat captains, both public and private, that took place. It is still a place of great pride for New Yorkers that such unhesitating selflessness was the order of the day in most instances. I personally believe that that element of Barrett's experiences that day became the ground on which he could stand to begin to reflect on his journey through what happened. He realizes he has a great cloud of witnesses walking that road with him. Peace to all! Lyonel

November 16: Pat Stubenbort sends a YouTube reference to New York's 9/11:"The Largest Sea Evacuation in History"  narrated by Tom Hanks.

NewYorker  New York City's 9/11 Sea Evacuation
cf. The Greatest and Largest Sea Evacation in History:

Pat, I never dreamed that on 9/11 there was such an evacuation of Manhatten Island. As I watched and skipped through this video I kept thinking to myself this is the biggest evacuation ever since from Dunkirk to England to save the British Army from the advancing Nazi armies. At the end the narrator said that the thousands and thousands of boats evacyated more than 300,000 in nine days. On 9/11 even more boats went to the smoky southern tip of Manhatten and evacuated more than 500,000 in nine hours. The heroism reminds me of the AA motto, "Do your best one day at a time" which can make a helluva difference." ~Gael

November 12th:John Townshend calls our attention to images of Pope Francis embracing a severely disfigured man. Published by The Washington Post, the disfigured man suffers from an incurable, genetic disease called neurofibromatosis. The Pope paused several minutes to comfort the poor fellow.

PopeAnd Leper  Pope Francis embraces a disfigured man with neurofibromatosis.
cf. The Washington Post article & references:

November 12th: John Townshend mentions Thomas Nairn's book and work. John Townshend (Westmont 1961) classmate with Tom Aldworth, Danny Kirschling, Bill Spencer, Ken Capalbo, etc... is an avid supporter of Diaspora Digest ever since it's early post office mailing days beginning. *djm

Thomas Nairn  Thomas Nairn, OFM
cf. Thomas Nairn's book & works:

November 11th: Dan Mazar tells us Zachary Hayes up in  Manitowoc, Wisconsin is translating more of Bonaventure . Zach's work on the "Doctor Seraphicus", both translations and writings are already well appreciated and plentiful, and he continues adding to the saint's bibliography in his unique and scholarly manner.

Bonaventure  "Bonaventure" by Zachary Hayes, OFM published September 2011
cf. some of Zach's references & books:
On the Reduction of the Arts to Theology, Translation, Introduction and Commentary by Zachary Hayes, OFM, vol. 1, 1996.
Journey of the Soul into God - Itinerarium Mentis in Deum translation and Introduction by Zachary Hayes, OFM, and Philotheus Boehner, OFM, vol. 2, 2002.
Disputed Questions on the Mystery of the Trinity, translated by Zachary Hayes, vol. 3, 1979.
Disputed Questions on the Knowledge of Christ, translated by Zachary Hayes, vol. 4, 1992.
Collations on the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, introduced and translated by Zachary Hayes, vol. 14, 2008.
On the Reduction of the Arts to Theology (De Reductione Artium ad Theologiam),translated by Zachary Hayes, Saint Bonaventure, NY: Franciscan Institute, 1996.

November 9th: Dick Mayer, Cullan Uhlinger & ~Gael remember Dale Brune, "a great priest and man with such love for his people". Dale died November 6th in Santarem, Brazil. He was and remains a true Franciscan giant for Brazil and its people of the Amazon.

Dale Brune Dale Brune, OFM (1938-2013)
"...In addition to serving the people’s spiritual needs, Dale Brune designed projects to help people survive economically. He founded a hammock factory in 1966 that provided employment to 100 people. He was the co-inventor of a rig to dig shallow wells, resulting in over 30,000 additional wells in the Amazon area. Father Brune encouraged a local resident who invented a hydroelectric turbine to supply clean, dependable electricity to isolated communities deep in the Amazon rainforest. He also designed economic self-help programs for lay leaders so they could support themselves while volunteering for the church. Those included fish hatcheries and raising stingless bees..."emissourian.com

Scott Kuhle adds onto Dale's memory: "...Those of us who spoke English-English were never quite able to figure out how Dale got Warshingtun out of Washington. Dale had the Warshingtun practicalness about life. He always seemed busy with some carpentry or hands-on project. During conversations, Dale usually had something to contribute with his dry sense of humor; wonderfully. I don't remember Dale ever saying anything unkind about his confrères. My last fond memory of Dale was at our reunion in Chicago a few years ago. In the morning he was sleeping in his hammock that he had strung up in the hallway, he'd had attached the ends of the hammock on two doors opposite of each other. Dale always mustered a smile for life's events, and he was always good for one. Requiescat in pace..!"

Vince Zimmerman also adds onto Dale's memory: "...My original thought I wanted to share about Dale Brune was that we were in theology one year apart, and I worked with him in his parish and at the seminary. What I admired most was how dedicated he was to social consciousness. We were trained to build "base communities" where people discussed scripture but also talked about social issues. It was part of the "See, Judge, Act" theme. I thought it was fitting that the picture showed someone abusing the environment for personal gain. I often wondered how that all played out in his life choices, such as leaving the Franciscans. I talked to him last year and he was designing an exercise machine for home bound people so they could stay healthy. What a great impact he had just by being "Frei Leao" (the lion)..."  Vince was having some difficulties connecting to DD's mail box and hoped others were not having the same sort of problems recalling Dale Brune's life and memory. (jds)

Dan Tanna adds onto some of Dale's more humorous antics, like brewing beer: "Does anyone in the DD Community have the special memory of Dale Brune's home brew like I do...? On Shrove Tuesday, 1962 Dale concocted a batch of his Washington Missouri homebrew for the entire Cleveland clericate. In memory Dan even wrote an Ode to Dale. (jds)

An Ode to Dale Brune (RIP) by Dan Tanna
During the dark days and even darker nights on Rocky River Drive,
When the lights of Scotus and Thomas were yet to arrive,
While Val and Ferdie and Matt and Aggie - truth's giant pillars no less,
Did wonders to shepherd me through the mess,
'Twas Dales home-brew I remember the best,
That "nectarded" my soul in haeceitas quest.

cf. Dale Brune's Website & remembrances:
A memorial Mass will be held Saturday, November 23rd at 10 a.m., at St. Francis Borgia Catholic Church, Washington, Missouri.

MailingProcedure  Diaspora Digest's mail & blog

November 8th: James Fisher remembers Duns Scotus Day.

Duns Scotus Plaque  JOANNES DVNS SCOTVS Oxford University Church's plaque
cf. Duns Scotus and AmericanCatholic.org references:

UpArrow  November 2013


DownArrow October 2013

October 31st: All Hallows Eve Trick or treat for all saints, sinners and the rest of us...! ~Gael, *djm and (jds)
cf. Halloween's history and All Saints Day references:

October 27th:Bloomberg's Italy : Believe it or not Franciscans ran pawnshops during the middle ages. This comes from a Bloomberg article by Elisa Martinuzzi (Milan) and Vernon Silver (Rome) about Italy's most troubled bank called the Banca Monte dei Paschi founded 1472 in Siena. Supposedly the Monte dei Paschi is the world’s oldest bank and modeled itself after Franciscans pawnshops which were meant to oppose the unethical practice of usury. Well I'll be... Franciscans running pawnshops in the middle ages. That might still be a good idea today, especially for Italy's Banca Monte dei Paschi ...(jds)

Plaza Banca Monte dei Paschi  Banca Monte dei Paschi Plaza di Siena, Italy
cf. Bloomberg's & Banca Monte dei Paschi history and references:

October 14th & 21st: John Ostdiek explains: "Early in this series of reflections, I offered my opinion that every human lives in a basic matrix of time, space, things and relationships...Things (are) absolutely a must in each day of life..."
cf. John Ostdiek's weekly Blog:

October 14th: Tom Shannon wrote: Dear colleagues in the diaspora, the old publishing house of Sheed and Ward used to have a news letter entitled Sheed and Ward's own trumpet because they knew that if they did not toot it no one else would. In the same spirit of modesty, I would like to let you know of a recent publication by Tom Nairn of the Sacred Heart Province, myself and two friars from the Santa Barbara Province, Keenan Osborn and Joe Chinnici, and Mary Beth Ingham a CSJ who taught at Loyola Marymount in LA. The title is Responding to God's Love, The Franciscan Moral Vision. The various essays pull together various strands of the tradition and show who they point to various themes all focusing around the generosity of God. It's by the Franciscan Institute Publications at St Bonaventure's in New York. The OFM tradition and its resources are frequently passed over and we hope that this will be a correction to that as well as a contribution to current theological discussion.

FranciscanBook  "The Franciscan Moral Vision" publication by Thomas Nairn

Always glad to get reports from the diaspora and to learn that we are still on the right side of the daisies, though perhaps limping along. I'm enjoying retirement and doing a little work with the local hospital ethics committee and being a public member of the American Board of Plastic Surgeons. A good friend of ours is the executive director and he got me on to help develop an ethics curriculum for the residents as well as incorporate ethics questions into the oral exam for board certification. I would much rather repeat the orals we had in Latin at OLA than go through the three 40 minute orals the candidates take. Two examiners and 17 cases 12 of which they have not seen before. But if someone is taking a knife to you better they should know what they are doing. And the reconstructions these folks do is amazing. One did a double arm transplant on an Afgan vet and the movement of arms and fingers is amazingly good. Greetings to all and we are still within the Octave of the feast of Francis which is cause for continuing celebration as is Pope Francis. and we'll keep on tooting our trumpets for you Tom...~Gael
cf. Tom Shannon and Thomas Nairn's "The Franciscan Moral Vision" references:

October 6th: To The Best of Our Knowledge (TTBOOK.org) , a Wisconsin NPR radio station discussed: "Religious Belief, Secular Values and what would a secular society really look like..?" It took an unconventional look at religion, the fiction it inspires, and reflects on why William James's classic book on mysticism, "The Varieties of Religious Experience" still matters. The following authors of interest were interviewed:  Jacques Berlinerblau on "How To Be Secular", Robert Bellah on "Religion in Human Evolution", and Robert Richardson on William James.
cf. Wisconsin's To The Best of Our Knowledge (TTBOOK.org) broadcast:

October 4th: Pope Francis visits Saint Francis's home town.
Assisi   PopeAndBishops
... and The Guardian headlines:"During visit to Assisi where Saint Francis lived in 12th century, pontiff says worldliness leads to vanity, arrogance and pride..."
cf. The Guardian's worldly article about Pope Francis:

October 2nd: Dan Mazar remembers St. Francis Day and as always wishes us a happy one: Time for fraternal greetings and a wish that we all keep the Transitus and Feast in our own fashion. Happy St. Francis Day to us all.
Dan sends these greetings every year without fail. It always fills my heart and I look forward to Oct. 4th every year, too. ~Gael

UpArrow  October 2013


DownArrow  September 2013

September 30th: John Ostdiek's weekly blog updates on religion & science:

John Ostdiek's blog  John's weekly blog, "The Door"
cf. John Ostdiek's weekly blog updates:

September 28th: Paul (Josaphat) Stubenbort wants to send a DVD:" ~Gael , what's your address...? I'd like to send you a dvd..."

September 28: Jim Burns recalls Ed Dean : Just read the note about Ed Dean. Ed joined our class in 1965 in Quincy along with other late arrivals like Ted Bilski and Pete Polytic. You knew when Ed was around because you heard him before you saw him. I can still see Fr. Gentil rolling his eyes whenever Ed laughed. He made you smile with his big expressive eyes and that big toothy smile. You couldn't help but like him. The world could use more like him to brighten our day. Well said Jim, and good to hear from you (jds)

September 27th: Jim Sexton (jds) tries to add some autumn humor on the lighter side of religious enthusiasm. A handful of weeks ago NPR’s Scott Simon (Weekend Edition Saturday) interviewed the actor Billy Crystal. When Simon asked Crystal how was his Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah) the comedian answered in so many words: “Well you know Scott there’s a lot of penance and fasting leading up to our New Year and we turn off all the electricity, so it basically comes down to a lot of hungry Jews sitting around in the dark waiting for the new year to dawn.”

September 27th: Dan Mazar writes: Congrats on reviving the Digest. It'll be fun to read what folks have to say. The mailbox is a much simpler and faster way to connect, especially for the cyber space challenged. Meanwhile, I would like to offer books by David Bentley Hart, particularly his book: "Atheist Delusions". He also has a fine book on why evil exists. He may not suit everyone's taste but I find his style invigorating...

Hart's Book  by David Bentley Hart
cf. "Atheist Delusions" and David Hart's blog and other references:

September 17th: DDigest Dan Mazar's mother died Tuesday, the 17th of September at a graceful age of ninety two. A memorial mass will be celebrate the 5th of October (10:00AM) at St. George's Church, 9546 South Ewing Avenue, Chicago, Illinois. The Mazar family's address is 1834 Maiden Lane, Wehiting, Indiana 46394. 
Let us remember Dan's mother and family in our prayers and thoughts.

September 12th: ~Gael recalls Ed Dean who died September 4th:  I was here at Peckerwood after 1973 when Ed Dean had his first Mass and everyone came out to my place for a party the night before. It was a grand time. My guess, pure guess, is that his first Mass was around 1975. His obituary doesn't mention Mayslake or even the date of his birth. But the beautiful funeral memorial and order of the funeral Mass has his birth as July 5, 1947. So he's a year older than Susan. He became affiliated with my old parish, St. Vincent de Paul here in Nashville. He died Sept. 4, 2013. A birth in 1947 fits well with my guess he was ordained around 1974-75. When he left the priesthood he married Barbara and had a daughter Ebony whom I met at the funeral mass. She looked pretty young, about 20. That's odd. Unless he married Barbara later on. He had other children, some may have been Barbara's. He was principal of a good school south of Nashville in Franklin, which has some of the best schools in the state. ~Gael

September 11th: Dennis Koopman wrote: Mary Frances Henggeler died Wednesday September 11, 2013. She was the wife of Marvin Henggeler, a former friar in our Province. They lived in Greenwood, Indiana. She was the sister of deceased Charles Potocki, OFM. Mary Frances was also the sister of Cathy (Jim) Trawinski. No arrangements have been announced yet. May God bless her with eternal life, and bless the family with comfort and peace. (Marv Henggeler, 892 Briar Patch LN, Greenwood, Indiana 46142 Tel.319-888-4771 - Cathy (Jim) Trawinski, 2116 LaPalco Ave, North Las Vegas, Nevada 89031 - Tel.702-399-6933)

September 11th: Franciscans publish a press release against Syrian violence: "Provincials speak out against military action in Syria" 
OFM Press Release

My problem here is with the Pope's statement that "Never has the use of violence brought peace in its wake..."  I am not so sure about that..! According to Koheleth (Ecclesiastes 3) isn't there "A Time for (almost) Everything", even war and peace... (jds)

cf. Provincials against military action references:

September 2nd:~Gael wrote: New diaspora material: A Garry Wells review of a new book on Scientology in the New York Times. I read it because he called it the best book so far and doesn't even mention the one that gave Frank Flinn credit for saving their tax exemption. Then he goes on to compare the efforts of Ron Hubbard to make his dianetics a church because that's where the big money is and to protect it from government and IRS attacks and from people like the guy who bought out his dianetics efforts He then reviews another book that says that was small potatoes compared to the Roman Catholic Church secret money gathering over the years. Rather interesting reading, and an eye-opener.

Scientology Church  Los Angeles Scientology Church © The New York Times 07/21/11

"Scientologists, Catholics and More Money Than God"  by Garry Wills

As Janet Reitman describes in “Inside Scientology,” Scientology did not begin as a religion, which its founder, L. Ron Hubbard came to consider his initial mistake. In 1950 Hubbard published his book “Dianetics,” which proposed a variant on the “mind cures” that have littered the American landscape through most of its history. He offered his followers a process of “auditing” that combined Freudian sessions with elements of his former career as a writer of science fiction. People being audited could relive their births, or test their future hopes on the E-meter, a kind of super lie detector that revealed “the anatomy of the human mind.” Mental health authorities, Reitman notes, were quick to condemn Hubbard’s claims as fraudulent. He did not, at this point, have the money to fight against such attacks, a situation he would spend the rest of his career correcting.

Hubbard’s failure to secure a strong financial base exposed him to a takeover of his concepts and properties. Barely two years after founding the movement, he lost Dianetics to a wealthy supporter named Don Purcell, who simply bought him out. To restart his project, he needed protection for it. He found that protection in religion. After all, one cannot buy out a religion. This “religion angle,” he wrote in 1953, is “a matter of practical business.” Being a church, Reitman writes, gave Scientology tax exemption, clerical status for his “ministers” (who wore Roman collars) and clerical exemption from the draft for these ministers. It also allowed him to rally even non-Scientologists to his defense against increasingly hostile government agencies, presenting any of his troubles as a persecution of religion, violating the separation of church and state.

There was another advantage to becoming a religion. In the 1960s, especially in Los Angeles, where Hubbard’s early success came to him, there was a spiritual hunger among young people that took them to religious figures like Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (the Beatles’ guide) and the Hare Krishnas. Some of those who came into Scientology as ’60s “kids” stayed on to hold responsible positions under Hubbard.

Hubbard’s experience with Dianetics, Reitman writes, taught him to keep all parts of Scientology under his personal control, to keep his governance secret, and to have a cash supply to deal with enemies, real and imagined. It takes money, after all, to sue the Internal Revenue Service 200 times after it revoked the church’s tax exemption. The early criticisms Hubbard received from psychiatrists made him an unremitting foe to all mental health activities but his own. The general public became aware of this when the Scientologist Tom Cruise attacked psychiatry on the “Today” show. But for years Scientology had been trying, with lawsuits, propaganda and harassment, to bring down the mental health establishment. psychiatrists maim and kill, read a sign carried by Scientologists outside a London mental health center.

Hubbard’s feuds were deadly. Of a person suspected of stealing his secrets he wrote his followers: “The law can be used very easily to harass, and enough harassment on somebody who is simply on the thin edge anyway . . . will generally be sufficient to cause his professional decease. . . . If possible, of course, ruin him utterly.” Those who opposed Scientology in any way were called “suppressive persons,” of whom Hubbard wrote: “A truly suppressive person or group has no rights of any kind, and actions taken against them are not punishable.” They “may be tricked, sued, or lied to or destroyed.” Thus, when Hubbard became convinced that government agencies were collecting negative information about Scientology, Reitman writes, a secret agency of the church (Branch One) planted operatives inside the I.R.S., the F.B.I., the Justice Department and that old enemy, the American Medical Association. According to Reitman, they stole tens of thousands of documents to use for their own smear campaigns. The church gave them awards for this service.

Hubbard was particularly fierce against defecting members, especially if they put online the higher levels of enlightenment that were supposed to be revealed only to loyal trainees. Hubbard feared ridicule, Reitman argues, since the upper levels of disciples learned that a Galactic Confederation had destroyed earth millions of years ago (using hydrogen bombs) and planted captive souls in volcanoes. Even some of the most conditioned and docile disciples, including Tom Cruise, balked at this secret knowledge when first exposed to it.

When Hubbard died in 1986, his leadership role was taken over by a less flamboyant figure, David Miscavige, who had been a Scientologist since the age of 8. He followed the founder’s plans, especially his “celebrity strategy,” conceived in 1955. Hubbard’s initial hopes were to lure admired people like Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso and Edward R. Murrow into his church. But this ambition shrank, by Miscavige’s time, to recruiting show business personalities. The big catches here were John Travolta and Cruise, on whom Miscavige danced continual attendance, in a tactic the church called “admiration bombing.” A glitzy Celebrity Centre was built for any new catches, and less-known figures proved useful. Nancy Cartright, the voice of Bart Simpson, gave the church $10 million in just one of her years of devout service.

Reitman, a contributing editor at Rolling Stone who spent five years trying to pierce the walls Scientologists put up against outsiders, gives us the most complete picture of Scientology so far. She seems, now, uncertain of its future. But its continued existence, given its weird aspects, is its main claim to religion’s power. It is something of a miracle.

The Catholic Church offers a very different picture, but one where money is even more important. Jason Berry, the reporter who broke several of the priest abuse scandals of recent times, finds the same pattern of deception, denial and subterfuge in the church’s handling of money as in its treatment of pedophiles. The Vatican comes to its high-handed way with money in an understandable fashion. In the Middle Ages, all authority was male and monarchical, so the pope became a king. His multiple realms had all the appurtenances of a medieval monarch — armies, prisons, spies, torturers, legal courts in papal service. The money flowed in from many sources — as conquest, as tribute from subordinate princes (secular and religious) or from the crops on farm lands held by the pope, who was not accountable to anyone for use of these funds. When normal sources did not satisfy papal ambition, clerical underlings invented new kinds of revenue — like the granting of time off in Purgatory for cash contributions during life (“indul-gences” for sale).

All that seemed to be ending in 1860 when Italy at last united its secular government and began taking away the pope’s realms. Pope Pius IX rejected the Italian government’s efforts at partial restitution, calling the secular regime illegitimate. He made himself a “prisoner of the Vatican,” never venturing out into Rome, or even addressing it from his balcony. Catholics in sympathy to Pio Nono’s “martyrdom” by the modern state increased their popular donations to the Vatican called Peter’s Pence. This donation arose in the seventh or eighth century, when the pope was still a monarch. It was set aside from the monies exacted from various parts of the papal empire, as something coming voluntarily from the people in the pews. The announced purpose was for the pope to have extra money for the charities he supported.

But after 1860 a surge of sympathy made Catholics every¬where, but especially in America, pour large sums into the Vatican, originally conceived as giving the pope military assistance, but then turned over to him for any use. No longer were papal charities the rationale. In fact, the lay cardinal who was Pius’s secretary of state, Giacomo Antonelli, took all available Vatican sums for ambitious new financing schemes. Already in 1857 he had used Peter’s Pence funds as collateral for a new loan from the Rothschild banking firm. Antonelli made one of his brothers the head of the Pontifical Bank. Another Antonelli brother secured a monopoly on Rome’s grain imports (a key to power in Rome since classical times). Antonelli soon had papal investments in countries all over Europe. The pope’s distress was made the excuse for a new financial empire, with no accountability for the funds used.

That non-accountability continues. The Vatican issues statements of its assets — in 2007 the amount was 1.4 billion euros —but the Vatican Bank is off the books, as is a metric ton of gold, and other things not reported. On a list of papal assets, St. Peter’s Basilica and other historic sites are listed as worth one euro each. No wonder, as Berry says, “the Holy See’s true net worth is invisible.”

Having set this historical background, Berry begins his true project — the use of funds in the American church during its modern time of troubles. He grants there are excuses for the financial maneuvering of the Catholic bishops. “The Roman Catholic Church in America is undergoing the most massive downsizing in its history,” he writes. “Since 1995 the bishops have closed 1,373 churches — more than one parish per week for 15 years.” There are many reasons for this wrenching development — lower church attendance, which means fewer donations from the pews; the movement of parishioners from inner cities to the suburbs, stranding old ethnic structures; the loss of free labor in Catholic schools by the declining number of nuns. We can add to this the payment of damages to the victims of priest pedophiles — though many bishops claim they haven’t closed churches because of the sex scandals.

Berry says it is hard to verify this claim because the ordinary bishop is as loath to reveal his transactions as the pope is. A lay group begun in Boston, the Voice of the Faithful, asked that the financial arrangements of the diocese be exposed, and it was fiercely resisted by bishop after bishop. Church authorities in some cities banned the V.O.T.F. from meeting in any parish. The same bishops had earlier opposed revealing what sums were paid to victims of sexual abuse. Settlements forbade the victims from revealing this. Even when settlements were reported, other hidden costs were kept secret — for instance, how much had gone to expensive rehabilitation centers through which the pedophiles were endlessly and uselessly recycled, and to legal costs while the bishops were denying accusations.

Lay people were also kept out of the decision on which churches to close. Good faith attempts by lay people to cooperate in evaluating this procedure were rebuffed. While Cardinal Sean O’Malley was trying to remedy the harm done the Boston diocese by Cardinal Bernard Law’s recycling of pedophiles, his auxiliary bishop Richard Lennon was managing a professedly separate operation to close churches — he would finally shut down 62 in the Boston area. The opponents to Lennon’s plan alleged that he was selecting properties most likely to bring the highest price for resale, not taking into account community support, unconsidered resources or the possibility of merged work with nearby parishes. At eight condemned parishes, people devoted to their churches kept round-the-clock vigils, refusing to give them up. Appeals were taken to Rome, but the man responsible for parishes, Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos, refused them a hearing. Berry finds the Boston pattern repeated in other dioceses, like those of Cleveland and Los Angeles.

Then, returning to Rome, Berry shows the power of money to squelch evidence that the founder of the ultra-conservative Legionaries of Christ, Father Marcial Maciel Degollado, was a serial child molester and had illegitimate children in Mexico. I met Berry in 2002 at the bishops’ Dallas meeting on the sex scandals. He was just beginning his exposé on Maciel, and I followed his work after that, since he was up against vituperation from the Legionaries, criticism from people like William Bennett, and a cold shoulder in Rome, where he went with Maciel’s victims to plead their cause. Unfortunately, Maciel was a great favorite with Pope John Paul II and his secretary of state, Angelo Sodano. It helped that Maciel showered Rome’s cardinals with expensive gifts. Every Christmas Legionary brothers fanned out across Rome to deliver lavish Christmas baskets to the hierarchy, with fine wines, liqueurs and rare Spanish hams worth up to $1,000. He sent a million dollars in support of the pope’s visit to Poland. He gave large cash gifts to Sodano. He ordered a Mercedes-Benz for Cardinal Pio Laghi, though Laghi turned it down. Sodano and others were entertained in style at the Legionary headquarters.

Cardinal Ratzinger, who had taken charge of all sex claims reaching Rome, sat on the charges against Maciel, at the urging of Cardinal Sodano, who reminded him that Maciel was well liked by Pope John Paul. Ratzinger held off until John Paul was clearly dying; then he hurried to remove this incubus from the church. In December 2004 Ratzinger’s office ordered Maciel to step down, pending an investigation. Even then the Vatican Press Office, under pressure from Sodano, denied that there was any “canonical process” against Maciel. But once Ratzinger was Pope Benedict XVI, he consigned Maciel to a period of prayer and penitence and began a thorough re-evaluation of his order.

Whether Berry is considering sex scandals or money scandals, or the refusal of the hierarchy to be open with its own believers on many fronts, the thing that sours all relations is secrecy — as we can see from the conduct of our own government. Secrecy eats at the soul. Some are surprised that religion is so corruptible. They should not be. When secrecy is used to protect a higher order of knowledge, it can make the keepers of the secrets think of themselves as a higher order of humans. Corruptio optimi pessima, goes the old saying. Blight at the top is the deepest blight. It is the sin of taking God’s name in vain.

*** NB. Dianetics (invented by L.Ron Hubbard) supposedly is a set of ideas and practices regarding the metaphysical relationship between mind and body. Sounds kind of unfantomable to me, given that metaphysics means "beyond physics", both brain and body included. So where and what Hubbard's dianetics are is a good question... (jds)

September 1st:John Ostdiek writes saying he has a new blog: "I've initiated a blog, and thought you might like to click on to it. I will post a new short reflection each Monday and leave all previous ones posted at the same site. The blog is at: friarjohndoor.blogspot.com. Thanks for checking on it! And if you would like, please do share it with others. I'm here at my new assignment St. Anthony Friary, 3140 Meramec Sreet, Saint. Louis, Massouri 63118. My phone: 314-655-0516.  The term "weblog" (ie. blog) was coined in 1997. The short form, "blog" came later in 1999 when the word weblog became "blog". Shortly thereafter, the term "blog" was used both as a noun and verb and the pronoun "blogger" was invented. (jds) ref. wikipedia

John Ostdiek's Blog  John's weekly blog, "The Door"
cf. John Ostdiek's new blog and wikipedia's history of blogs and blogging:

UpArrow  September 2013


DownArrow  August 2013

August 30th: Dick Mayer wrote: ~Gael I just learned from The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) of a recent book by Paul Moses: "The Saint and the Sultan: The Crusades, Islam, and St. Francis of Assisi's Mission of Peace". Doubleday 2009. Have you heard of it…?

SaintAndSultan  "The Saint and the Sultan" by Paul. Moses, 2010's Catholic Press Association Book Award for History

"...In 1219, as the Fifth Crusade was being fought, Francis crossed enemy lines to gain an audience with Malik al-Kamil, the Sultan of Egypt. The two talked of war and peace and faith and when Francis returned home, he proposed that his Order of the Friars Minor live peaceably among the followers of Islam, a revolutionary call at a moment when Christendom pinned its hopes for converting Muslims on the battlefield..." It may have been the focus of someone who gave a lecture on the visit of Francis to the Sulieman in Egypt recently at a Catholic parish here. He seemed to have all the facts at his fingertips. Thanks for the note. I'm surprised you saw it in The Wall Street Journal. ~Gael

cf. Paul Moses on YouTube and WSJ article "A Liberal Catholic and Staying Put..."

August 30th: Herb Wheatley wrote: Paul Langan recently came to Portland, Oregon for a visit with Pat Evard and myself. It was good to see Paul after some 45 years. We were able to sit and remember seminary days and then forward through the years to where we find ourselves today. Also heard from Dan Tanna who also was a member of our class. It was good to hear from both of them.  and from you, Herb ~Gael

August 28th: Paul Langan wrote: I like Frank Flinn so do we Paul, ~Gael

August 22nd: ~Gael wrote thanks to Francis Roetheli Religion over the centuries has produced not just spiritual inspiration but some of the best art and architecture in our world. I hope Joseph Campbell saw this, the Ajanta Caves when writing his 10,000 "The masks of God". "...The Ajanta Caves in Aurangabad district of Maharashtra, India are about 300 rock-cut Buddhist cave monuments which date from the 2nd century BC to about 480 or 650 AD. The caves include paintings and sculptures described by the government Archaeological Survey of India as "the finest surviving examples of Indian art, particularly painting", which are masterpieces of Buddhist religious art, with figures of the Buddha and depictions of the Jataka tales. The caves were built in two phases starting around the 2nd century BC, with the second group of caves built around 400–650 AD according to older accounts, or all in a brief period between 460 to 480 according to the recent proposals. The site is a protected monument in the care of the Archaeological Survey of India, and since 1983, the Ajanta Caves have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site..." ref. wikipedia










cf. Ajanta Caves history and references:

August 20th: Paul (Josaphat) Stubenbort wrote: Wills' thoughts on the priesthood were preceded by several years by Anthony Padovano. He's been making the point that the Jews abandoned the priesthood in 70 CE after the destruction of the temple, and the Protestant tradition abandoned the priesthood at the reformation. Even Vatican II shifted the emphasis of the mass, dramatically, from the sacrifice to the communal meal. I think the priest will survive in a minesterial role. My recently retired fratres will, I think, be long remembered In Brazil for their ministerial role rather than their role as "sacrificers." For those of you who missed John Schwieters' account of Ricardo Duffy and Maurus Hawickhorst: "Richard Duffy arrived in Brazil in 1959 when Vatican II was to be announced and would begin reflecting on the Church as the People of God. The new reflection encouraged a greater participation of the people in the Church. Duffy was to pioneer the first attempts of establishing communities where the local leadership would be responsible for the on-going faith of the community. He began "catechetical weeks" where newly elected catechists would be brought to Santarem and given formation and return to their communities to assume responsibility for evangelization. (much as Helmut Schueller's vision and reality has his Faith-community assume leadership in his absence) This whole process is today the key to promoting and strengthening the bonds among the faith communities. After 25 years in the Amazon, Duffy volunteered for the Order's Project Africa, spent 14 years there, and finally came back to Santarem for another 13 years. Last year he came to the decision that he was ready to go back home and live out his days among the Friars in the United States." Duffy and I are classmates of Clarahan, JJ, Diz and Brummer. "Maurus Hawickhorst came to Brazil at the same time as classmate Duffy. He began life in Brazil on the wild waters of the Amazon, then transferred to the Minor Seminary as professor and rector. Maury was never the type to sit still. He always had to have a project going. Curious about many different things that could possible help the people, he finally latched on, wholeheartedly, to a well-digging project, which successfully brought good water to many communities condemned to the contaminated river waters. Even though he eventually returned to parish work, the project and the well-rigging machine and crew were never far from where he was. Because of declining health, he eventually chose to return to the States, where Friars and family long awaited his presence. Ecce quam Bonum...

August 1st: Dick Mayer wrote: Frank Flinn asked me to comment on his May posting on the Lord's Supper, so.. But first, if you want some light summer reading amid all this serious stuff and like underdog sports stories, I highly recommend One Shot at Forever by Chris Ballard. Illinois high school baseball true story similar to "Hoosiers." Very, very well written and goes way beyond the sports side. Then I would like to unreservedly second Frank's apologia for defending Scientology's First Amendment rights. We don't want the government deciding which religions are "deserving," and which are not. Frank is a terrific lecturer, by the way. I've heard him a couple of times in recent years. Now regarding his remarks on the Eucharist/Lord's supper: One's conclusions on specific questions regarding Jesus usually depend on the key question: "Who is Jesus?" If you think that Jesus is indeed Son of God, died for our salvation and wholeness, and risen bodily from the dead, now sharing his Spirit (and life) with those who believe in him – as I do, based on my own experience, that of many friends, and the unbroken testimony from the Scriptures and handed down from the Apostles, you get one outcome. If you think he is but one – maybe even the best - of many enlightened individuals who help us progress spiritually, you tend toward certain reinterpretations of traditional Christianity, such as that of the Jesus Seminar. (If you are worried that the traditional theology is too "exclusive," there are several good ways to deal with that.)

1. Taking Crossan, co-founder of Jesus Seminar, as a starting point: (Didn't realize he was at CTU.) Fr. Raymond Brown (who would not be considered a fundamentalist Bible scholar!) evaluates the Jesus Seminar in An Introduction to the New Testament, pp. 820-823. "First, it has operated to a remarkable degree on a priori principles, some of them reflecting anti-supernatural bias. For instance, the bodily resurrection had no real chance of being accepted as having taken place…. "Second, the results have been exceptionally skeptical… "Third, from the beginning the seminar has sought popular media coverage to an extraordinary degree… An impression has been created that these scandalous sound bites represent where scholars now stand. In fact, however, although spokesmen for the Jesus Seminar like to pretend that the chief disparagement of their stances comes from "fundamentalists," scholarly evaluations and reviews of the productions of the Jesus Seminar have often been bluntly critical."

2. (and 8) Of course Jesus ate with any and all. But taking the common meal as a starting point for the Lord's Supper is a stretch. Paul in Corinthians clearly distinguishes between meals in their homes vs. coming together for the Lord's Supper. The Lord's Supper is clearly within the context of the Passover meal. Hence the concept of "sacrifice" is implicitly present. "My body given for you and for many…" "The cup of my blood of the new covenant." No covenant without shedding of blood. The Paschal Lamb offered from the foundation of the world.

3. The positions on Body of Christ are not mutually exclusive. Christ becoming present in the breaking and sharing is good. Asking exactly when and how he becomes present is to me the wrong question, resulting from our overly rationalistic theologizing. Regarding Real Presence linked to bread and wine, I read somewhere that no matter what we think about Real Presence, there is no doubt that the early church (first 3 centuries, say) believed that the Risen Jesus was really present.

4. Real Presence can approach fetishism if it is separated from the death and resurrection of Jesus. Yes, the Catholic Church went overboard as part of its clericalism. The Eucharist is sacrifice only as a mystical connection to Jesus' historical and eternal sacrifice; see Hebrews again.

5. Mostly agree, but not that interested in deciphering the threads thru the Vatican, and none of the excesses of the Roman Catholic church invalidates the Messianic/ sacrificial/ memorial/ Real Presence beliefs of the early church. They are not exclusive either. Lest I inflict more on you than you want, you can find my Eucharistic thinking in a sermon that a friend thought worthy of distributing, along with some very complimentary words (which clue you in on some of my activities since retiring). Pastor Ben's sermon is also very good – from a complementary viewpoint, since he comes from an evangelical background. "In the past few weeks we have been privileged to hear several messages on the theme "Jesus, the Bread of Life." They were all very good. Two, however, were outstanding. I would like to recommend both to you. (They are each about 25-30 minutes long.) • Jesus' Death and Our Eternal Life, by The Revd Dr Ben Wagner "I Am the Bread of Life", by The Revd Dr Richard Mayer Together they are the clearest, most thorough and understandable expositions of Jesus' teaching in John 6 and on the Eucharist that I have heard. BTW, Fr Ben's doctorate is from St Louis University and in historical theology, while Fr Richard's is from Washington University and in applied mathematics! God bless!" Mike In case the link does not work:

Every time I read our classmates and Dick and Frank from the class ahead of me, I realize what a super bunch of fellows we came along with. I was closer to them than to some of my classmates. As Emerson said, I pay my money to their teachers but it is their schoolmates who really educate my children. That's a wonderful summary of Dick Mayer's thoughts. He's now practicing as an Episcopal priest helping out at a St. Louis parish. He's married and they have a son who went to Rice or another of the church-founded colleges in Texas. ~Gael

One Shot at Forever  Chris Ballard's "One Shot At Forever"
cf. Dick Mayer's Church and "One Shot At Forever" references:
http://www.resurrectionstl.org/media/sermons-teachings/sunday-morning-sermons/?sermon_id=95 Peace.

End August
  August 2013


  July 2013

July 31st: Frank Flinn forwards his article:  "Church, Denomination, Sect, Cult"

The term "cult" is a highly charged term nowadays. It is equally an ambiguous and even dangerous word. In the heated debates about Jonestown and Waco, perhaps a clarification of the origin and use of the term is conducive to rational debate. Like spy, the odd-man-out in the rhyme set "tinker, tailor, soldier, spy," the term cult occupies the last and most dubious place in the set of religious social categories "church, denomination, sect, cult."

At the turn of the century the sociologist of religion Ernst Troeltsch made a distinction between churches and sects in The Social Teaching of the Christian Churches (German edition, 1911). Troeltsch was developing a typology first suggested by Max Weber, a founder of the field of sociology. A church, according to Troeltsch, seeks to be universal, i.e., it desires to cover the whole life of humanity. Churches, such as the Roman Catholic Church in medieval Europe or the Genevan Reformed Church of Calvin's day, generally favors the ruling classes and seeks to become an integral part of the social order. Churches work downwards from above. In the churchly outlook, the spheres of secular or natural life are marshaled as a means to attain a sacred, supernatural life. A sect, by contrast, aspires after inward spiritual perfection and withdraws from universal social life into a small, perfectionist group. It may be tolerant, indifferent or hostile toward outward society. Often sects are identified with the lower classes, at least in the beginning, and work from below upwards.

In the language of Max Weber, churches tend to be world-affirming (or, world-embracing), while sects tend to be world-denying (or world-shunning). Churches are institutions which favor priestly or clerical hierarchy; sects are voluntary associations which favor the layperson in a spiritual democracy. Weber claimed that the multifarious forms of Protestant sectarianism (Lutheran, Reformed, Quakers, etc.) fostered a kind of ethical rationalism which paved the way for the phenomenal rise of capitalism in Europe and North America.

Troeltsch did not use the terms "denomination" or "cult" as types, although he did talk about three different types of Christian response to the Gospel. Besides the churchly and sectarian responses, there is third type which he called "mysticism." Mystics stress personal and inward experience beyond doctrinal, sacramental and historical unities. Mystics are asocial if not antisocial. Often the category mysticism became blended with the later category cult.

The next term to enter the socio-religious canon was the category of denomination. The tendency toward denominationalism is a marked feature of American religion. Denominational religious attachment was fostered by the historical fact of pluralistic immigration (Anglicans, Puritans, Dutch Reformed, Lutherans, Catholics, etc.) and the American principle of religious tolerance. In contrast with the church, which seeks to encompass the whole of societal life, and the sect, which seeks to radically reform, flee or shun a corrupt or doomed society, the denomination seeks to accommodate itself to society, and thereby to other religious groups. Denominationalism is the religious equivalent of "keeping up with the Joneses." Denominations are more concerned with educating their young, first in Sunday school and then at Yale, than in missionizing the gospel and harvesting new converts. Thomas O'Dea described a denomination as a "routinized sect." David Martin, sociologist at the London School of Economics, theorizes that denominations are "delegated democracies" which do not sacralize religious institutions, as the Catholics do when they refer to "Holy Mother Church," nor do they establish "priests forever according to the order of Melchisedech." Rather denominations elect their ministers the way they do their public officials.

In his famous book The Social Sources of Denominationalism (1929) the Yale historian of American religion H. Richard Niebuhr lamented the American "heresy" of denominationalism as a threat to Christian unity. Yet every historical attempt at unifying American congregations in the 19th-century by applying transdenominational labels such as the Brethren, the Disciples of Christ and the Bible Church, led not to greater unity but to yet another denomination. Niebuhr claimed that the sect phase of a religion is unstable and can last only one generation. But once denominationalization sets in, the religious group no longer satisfies the inward spiritual needs of its adherents and a new cycle of sect formation is likely to start. Some of Niebuhr's claims have failed to pass the empirical test, especially the theory that sects have to develop into denominations. The Jehovah's Witness, an adventist sect begun in 1870 by Charles Taze Russel in Pittsburgh, PA, has retained its sectarian character throughout its hundred-year plus history. The Seventh-Day Adventists are a special case. In the 19th century Baptist lay preacher William Miller predicted that Jesus was going to return to earth October 22, 1844, and cleanse the heavenly sanctuary according to the prophet Daniel. This led to the Great Disappointment for most of Miller's followers who were from all kinds of denominations. James and Ellen White, claiming that Jesus did return on the spiritual level, were able to regroup some of Miller's sectarians into what might be called a rebound sect. Over time the Seventh-Day Adventists have evolved to a position somewhere in between an out-and-out denomination like the Methodists or Baptists and a pure adventist sect like the Witnesses. The Branch Davidians began in 1931 as a re-sectarianization of the Seventh-Day Adventists, and, in fact, they recruit almost all their members from Seventh-Day congregations. To be as accurate as possible, the Branch Davidians are not a cult at all but a world-rejecting, millennial, separatist sub-sect.

We arrive at our fourth term, "cult." This is the most nebulous of all the terms. Not too long ago, the term "cult" was applied to a wide range of religious groups, including the Mormons, the Swedenborgian Church, Unity, the Spiritualists, Seventh-Day Adventists, Jehovah's Witnesses and even Pentecostals. Scholars of religion have tried, unsuccessfully it seems, to strip the term of its obvious pejorative connotations. Noted sociologists of religion Rodney Stark and William Sims Bainbridge say that sects begin as reformist reactions against standing religious traditions. Thus Lutheranism began as sectarian protest against the corruption of the Roman church. Methodism likewise began as a revival of, and then reaction to, moribund Anglicanism. Sects are splinters. Cults, by contrast, spring up among those who are unchurched or are only nominally churched. They are like new native or imported religious species. Other scholars, like Martin Marty, add that cults are characterized by charismatic leaders and, when they die, the cults dissipate. Oxford scholar Bryan Wilson, however, argues that many religious groups classified as cults, such as New Thought and the Rosicrucians, have prospered without charismatic leaders. Wherever you find charismatic leaders, you are sure to find charismatic followers in even greater number.

We now have our four terms in place. As categories of religion they can be arranged on two planes, exclusivity as to internal truth claims and "deviancy" as perceived by the wider society: an Exclusive Church Sect and/or a Pluralistic Denomination Cult.

Like a church, the sect claims sole possession of the "truth." But where a church seeks to encompass and "baptize" social institutions, sects withdraw from general society, either because the world has become evil (the Exclusive Brethren) or because the world is about to come to an end (Jehovah's Witnesses, Branch Davidians of the Seventh-Day Adventists), or some similar "world-rejecting" reason. Like the denomination, the cult has a pluralistic view of its own religious claims. Presbyterians think they have a way to the truth, but they readily concede that the Methodist way is equally valid. In a "classical" cult, such as Madame Blavatsky's Theosophical Society, the pluralism is radical. Each individual has his or her own personal and special way to enlightenment, salvation, or sacred knowledge. This form of truth might even be called multiplistic, since what it true for Tom is not necessarily true for Dick. In the classic definition, cults are religions of the self. Denominations and classical cults subscribe to what Belfast scholar Roy Wallis calls epistemological individualism; rarely do they have heretics. Churches and sects, because they claim authoritative exclusivity, often have heretics and schisms. Society sees churches and denominations as respectable, but sects and cults as deviant.

The important thing to remember about this classification system, however, is that actual living religious groups are dynamic and evolve in diverse and surprising ways. Terms, categories and classifications, helpful though they may be in understanding phenomena and indicating future developments, are ultimately temporary tags. Living religious movements will display mixtures and tendencies that crossover the labels we attach to them. Some labels will also serve to ostracize people. The current scatter-shot use of the term cult raises serious questions about the ethics of language for the populace at large and the press in particular.

Since the 1960's there has been an "invasion" of forms of Eastern religion into America and Europe--Zen, Sokka Gakkai, Yoga, Transcendental Meditation. Perhaps in fear of this "Eastern peril," the term cult has taken on unfavorable and even sinister connotations. Nowadays the term cult implies a dictatorial charismatic leader (often deranged), bizarre beliefs (such as, end of the world), odd or perverse practices (especially sexual ones), animal sacrifice, Satanic worship, coercive proselytizing techniques ("brainwashing"), suicide drills, and financial skullduggery. Anti-cult networks have arisen among relatives who have members in the so-called cults. A new class of professionals, deprogrammers or cult-exit counselors have arisen to match the fears of the public, and make a buck, too. Sociologists David Bromley and Anson Shupe even speak of an "anti-cult cult" which favors kidnapping and "deprogramming" (a kind of de-brainwashing brainwashing) youth who have fallen into the clutches of "destructive" cults. Many anti-cultists believe that they establish a group as a pseudo-religion if they succeed in getting it labeled as a cult. Because of the furor now swirling about the term "cult," scholars are now using the phrase "new religious movement" (NRM). The media have not followed suit.

The term cult is derived from the Latin word colere, which meant first to till a field and secondly to worship. Because ancient Roman farmers made offerings to the gods and goddesses of fertility at shrines located at the boundaries of their fields, the word for tilling, as in cultivation, took on the added meaning of worship, as in the cult of Ceres. Cultus refers to the external rites of worship. Roman Catholicism took over this Roman usage and speaks of the cult of Mary or the cult of the Sacred Heart, where the term means a form of devotion. Today, the term has taken on further, secular meanings. We hear of the "Elvis cult" or the "fashion cult." In these usages the word means a passing fad. Obviously, the term has difficulties in ways that church and denomination do not. In my experience I have heard the word "cult" applied to the following religious groups: Opus Dei, Hasidic Judaism, Pentecostals, Shi'ism, Baha'i, Heavy Metal, Satanism, Wicca, etc. "Cult" is a term that means everything and nothing.

The labeling of group as a cult also has the added peril of creating a constitutional blur which threatens religious liberty. The constitution uses only one word for all of the phenomena I have been talking about--religion. So, the constitutional question is "Is this a religion or is this not a religion?" The fact that a religious group is a church, denomination, sect, cult, assembly, fellowship, meeting, synagogue, gathering, coven, society, or congregation, is constitutionally irrelevant. Many scholars concerned about the danger in the use of the term cult point out that yesterday's cult has often become today's religion. Perhaps Leo Pfeffer, the great scholar of the religious liberty, summed up the situation sharpest at a conference held at Washington University law school in the mid-1980's. When asked to define the word cult, he said, "If you like a fellow, you call his religion a faith; if you are indifferent toward him, you call it a sect; but if you really hate the b-----d, you call it a cult."
That's too good Frank, (jds)
Frank K. Flinn is adjunct professor of religious studies at Washington University in St. Louis. He has served as an expert witness on the definition of religion in court cases in North America and abroad.

July 24th: Frank Flinn responds to ~Gael and clarifies some of his comments and queries.

1. Do I think Scientology is a religion? Yes, see my "Scientology as Technological Buddhism" 1986. OUP just reprinted it in Jim Lewis, Scientology. I wil send you "Church, Denomination, Sect and Cult" when I get back home. My "Scientology as a Religion" is all over the internet. Read the whole thing. I doubt that Mr. Wright has.

2. If it is a religion, it is entitled to the same protections as other religions. Hence 1992 tax settlement. The church pays taxes on sales of all Hubbard's fiction writings. By agreement with the IRS, leaders receive far less financial compensation than most other religions, including the $500,000 per annum Cardinal Law received as archpriest of Santa Maria Maggiore after he was run out of Boston for defending pedophiles. Pat Robertson is a billionaire and Benny Hinn goes on quarter-million dollar spending sprees but Mr. Wright doesn't say boo. Would I defend Robertson and Hinn if their religious freedom were attacked? Absolutely. Scientology was investigated by the IRS for 11 years, the longest of any religious group in US history. It settled when it became abundantly clear it was going to loose in the US Tax Court, before which I appeared along with others as an expert witness.

3. Wright''s descriptions of my writings on Scientology are very truncated and one-sided. I have not wasted the time to defend myself. He was out to get the present church (there are things to criticize but also things to appreciate). He is interested only in celebrities. I have interviewed over 1000 Scientologists, ordinary believers using a faith development interview form. I cannot tell for sure if he has interviewed one ordinary believer, other than ex-celebrities.

4. From what I can tell Mr. Wright has little sympathy for religion. We would take a fundamentalist theologian to task for attacking the facts of evolution on biblical grounds, a field of study with which he or she has no deep undertsanding and still less sympathy. Vice versa, Mr. Dawkins has been taken to task for his screeds on metaphysics and theology, fields for which he has an active hatred. Mr Wright is a gifted writer, but no court of law would recognize or accept him as an expert on religion or even Scientology. I am one of the few people I know who have observed and interviewed RPF members. Wright's descriptions are 100% hearsay. I have also interviewed many who have left, although it is harder to find them.

5. My defense of Scientology is strictly on First Amendment and Freedom of Religion grounds. If we don't defend the newer, non-mainstream groups, we can kiss the freedom of religion goodbye. I simply describe what I have observed. You will never find me saying "I like that" or "I hate this." I try to understand the group from within its own parameters. Those who attack new religions often lack an ounce of empathy and traffic in stereotypes: they are brainwashed, the engage in sexual hanky-panky, practice financial skulduggery, etc. I disproved the brainwashing charge against the Moonies ages ago. My study showed that between 1964 and 1978, they Moonie missionaries made direct contact/connections with approximately 260,000 young American adults. In 1981, when I did the study, there were 2000, yes 2000!, young American Moonies. Devide 2000 by 260,000 and you get the Moonie "brainwashing" retention rates. As for sexual hanky-panky, Scientology is relatively free of that. It's financial dealings won't hold a candle to the Vatican. That doesn't mean I approve of how they use their money, but a lot of frying pans are calling the kettle black.

6. I have defended the Catholic Church (in an amicus brief on clergy compensation), WICCA, Jehovah Witnesses, the Unification Church, and several others. My defense of Scientology gets picked up because it is a celebrity issue.

7. When I left the friary, I encountered the first group of Vaishnavites (Hare Krishnas) in the USA when I was at Harvard Divinity. That sparked my interest in new religions (Xnity was one once, and the Romans called it superstitio, substituting false gods for the Roman gods/emperors , and atheos, "godless"; they also accused it of all sorts of heinous acts, some of which have come true in our time!). The Hare Krishnas were being attacked for being a "new" religion, whereas they may represent the oldest strand of Hinduism, the bhakti tradition that shows up at Harappa and Mohenjodaro, dating back to the 3rd millenium BCE. Joe O'Connell, a colleague, and I challenged the misinterpretation of them in the Boston papers. I guess that is where it all started. I got interested in why we had new religions arising in the '60s. Where everyone else was attacking them, we were trying to understand them. I have taught courses on the new religions for years, so I know a little bit about what I am saying from the comparative point of view.

8. You don't going about defending off-beat religions if you have a thin skin. Fortunately, mine is rhino. You ought to see some of the attacks I have received from RCs over my Encyclopedia of Catholicism, especially the entry on pedophilia. I was accused of destroying the faith and scandalizing the faithful (as if the acts themselves were not the real scandal!). The encyclopedia, by the way, will be going into its 2nd edition by December.
I will be happy to answer any other allegations/charges/attacks/assaults/slanders/libels/ etc. Let me know what they are. Meanwhile do not forget that the First of the First Freedoms is that Congress shall make no law respecting and establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. Deep down, my suspicion is that Roman Catholicism, because it has a sitting arbiter of full truth in the Vatican, really does not believe in freedom of religion. My sympathies are with Roger Williams who argued for the right of every human to make errors in seeking the truth about God. Without the errors, we would never find the way to the truth.

July 24th: ~Gael recalls Frank Flinn's role defending Scientology way back in the 80's and 90's:

"Former Franciscan Frank Flinn helped save the Scientologists"
From all my reading, I’ve never had much luck with Scientology or Ron. L. Hubbard. When a new biography of him and his church came out this year, the first since shortly after Hubbard died in 1986, I wasn’t interested but had to read it when it was discussed by our Second Wednesday Book Club at the Nashville Public Library this month. Going Clear. Scientology, Hollywood, & the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright. He’s a hell of an investigative journalist and biographer.

Scientology  by Lawrence Wright ref. Amazon

It was riveting reading and while the author is totally fair, he doesn’t shirk from telling the stories he got from witnesses despite intense heat from Scientologists to back off. Their pressure worked for more than 30 years. They hound their opponents until it hurts bad . I was reading along enjoying the book and hating the Scientologists whom I’ve always been prejudiced against and then I got one of the biggest surprises of my life. On page 227 I spotted a paragraph that began, “Frank K. Flinn, a former Franciscan friar and a graduate of Harvard Divinity School, has testified repeatedly on behalf of Scientology – notably in 1984, when the Church of Scientology, along with Mary Sue Hubbard, sued Gerald Armstrong, the former archivist for the church. Flinn defined a religion (as opposed to a cult) as a system of beliefs of a spiritual nature. There must be norms for behavior—positive commands and negative prohibitions or taboos—as well as rites and ceremonies, such as initiations, sacraments, prayers, and services for weddings and funerals. By these means, the believers are united into an identifiable community that seeks to live in harmony with what they perceive as the ultimate meaning of life. Flinn argued that Scientology amply fulfilled these requirements, even if it differed in its expression of them from traditional denominations.”

The part about Frank Flinn goes on like that for three pages. And while Frank never lies, he does exaggerate about how his life as a Franciscan was somewhat like the Scientologists’. He says their brutal self-torture was mirrored by our whipping ourselves in novitiate with flagellating cords (personally I made a joke of it screaming out Psalm 50, the Miserere, and enjoying it all) or how he once was made to dig up potatoes. (Gosh, I grew up doing that. It was called getting ready for dinner.) Anyway, the 1980s were a devastating time for the Scientologists. Their leader hid out for years on his yachts and then died. Time magazine ran “a scathing cover story titled “Scientology: The thriving Cult of Greed and Power” by Richard Behar who said just one of the church’s many entities had taken in half a billion dollars in 1987 alone. Money was stashed in accounts in Lichtenstein, Switzerland, and Cyprus. “Those who criticize the church—journalists, doctors, lawyers, and even judges—often find themselves engulfed in litigation, stalked by private eyes, framed for fictional crimes, beaten up, or threatened by death,” Behar noted. Then ABC’s Nightline invited the church’s new leader to defend his church. Miscavige prepared for months and went on the attack but Ted Koppel was up for his brainwashing type tactics. He won an Emmy for the show. Miscavige took credit for the Emmy but never went on television again.

The TIME story was a watershed. Even Tom Cruise seemed to back away from his church which increased its usual tactics. It brought endless lawsuits against TIME and eventually lost in the Supreme Court. That didn’t bother them. “Hubbard’s dictate (was) that the purpose of a lawsuit is to harass and discourage rather than win.” And the lawsuit cost TIME more money in defense costs than any other case in its history.

Scientology used Frank Flinn to get back their tax exemption as a church after the IRS found it was a commercial money making scheme and took away its exemption some years earlier. The Church and the IRS had been fighting for two decades. A tax exemption would make it a certified religion rather than a corrupt, profit-making concern and would provide substantial immunity from civil suits and from persistent federal criminal investigations. A decision against the tax exemption would destroy the entire enterprise because Hubbard decided in 1973 not to pay back taxes so that 20 years later it owed $1 billion and had only $125 million in reserves. The church upped the ante by besieging the IRS with 200 lawsuits and more than 2,300 suits on behalf of individual parishioners across the country. It created havoc for the IRS. The church and the IRS faced the challenge of addressing the question of what exactly constituted a religion in the eyes of the American government. The Scientologists started wearing Roman collars and cloaked themselves in the coverage of the Hare Krishnas and the Unification Church. They paid experts like Frank Flinn to handle the ridicule of being called cults and getting themselves called religions.

Flinn testified as quoted above, then went on to say that like Catholicism, Scientology is a hierarchical religions. He compared L. Ron Howard to the founders of Catholic religious orders including the one started by Saint Francis of Assisi whose followers adopted a vow of poverty. Financial disparities are not unusual. Bishops often enjoy a mansion, limousines, servants, and housekeepers. The papacy maintains thousands of people on its staff including the Swiss Guards who protect the pope, and an entire order of nuns dedicated to being housekeepers for the papal apartments.

The Catholic Church also maintains houses of rehabilitation (like the Scientologist’s RPF penal and penitential facilities) for errant priests hoping to reform themselves. “Flinn saw the RPF as being entirely voluntary and even tame compared to what he experienced as a friar in the Franciscan Order. He willingly submitted to the religious practice of flagellation on Fridays, whipping his legs and back in emulation of the suffering of Jesus before his crucifixion. Flinn also spent several hours a day doing manual labor. As a member of a mendicant order, he owned no material possessions at all, not even the robe he wore. Low wages and humble work were essential to his spiritual commitment.“

Like Buddhists, Scientologists don’t emphasize God or pray. Flinn compared the Scientology distinction between pre-clear and Clear Scientologists to Buddhist notions of entanglement and enlightenment, or Christian doctrines of sin and grace. The author says Flinn’s most interesting and contested points had to do with hagiography, by which he means attributing extraordinary powers, clairvoyance, visions of God or angels or the ability to perform miracles to the charismatic founders of a religion. Examples are the virgin birth of Jesus, the Buddha’s ability to transmigrate his soul into the heavens, or Moses bringing manna to the people of Israel. Such legends bolster the faith of a community. That explains the glaring discrepancies in Hubbard’s biography. They should be seen in the light that any religion tends to make its founder into something more than human. Similarly, Flinn explain the Scientgology “Fair Game Law” that Hubbard used for dealing with Suppressive Persons – non-Scientologists hostile to the church, apostates, defectors, their spouses and friends. “A truly suppressive person or group has no rights of any kind,” Hubbard wrote. They may be “tricked, lied to or destroyed.” That allowed them to harass fellow members, journalists, and defectors. Flinn said “Almost all religious movements in their very early phase are harsh and tend to evolve and become more lenient over time. Scientologists’ disconnections were similar to shunning of nonbelievers among Mennonites and the Amish. The Book of Leviticus calls for idolaters and those who stray from the faith to be stoned to death. That practice has disappeared. Now Orthodox Jews will sit Shiva for the nonbeliever, treating him as if he is already dead. “So this kind of phenomenon is not peculiar to Scientology,” said Flinn. Underlying Fllnn’s testimony is the implication that Scientology is a new religion that is reinventing old religious norms; whatever abuses it may be committing are errors of youthful exuberance, and in any case they are pale imitators of the practices once employed by the mainstream religions that judges and jurors were likely to be members of. [This is real close to being a lie in my opinion but it got rough in the late Middle Ages. The Inquisition was most unkind to St. Joan of Arc. Those kind of Catholic still make me puke.]

In the 1990s, Flinn interviewed Scientologists who were doing RPF (penal servitude) in Los Angeles. He said their quarters didn’t look any worse than his cell in the monastery where he slept on a straw bed on a board (sic). He asked if they were free to go. They told him they were, but they wanted to stay and do penance. Flinn said that he was a cutup in the order; he felt out of place. “I was an Irishman in a sea of Germans.” He would be sent out to dig the potato field as punishment for his misbehavior. However, when he left his order, instead of being incarcerated or given a freeloader tab, he was given a dispensation releasing him from his vows. He never felt the need to escape. He took off his robe, put on civilian clothes, and walked away. His spiritual adviser gave him $500 to help him out. He was never punished or fined, or made to disconnect from anyone. [Scientologists have to plan their escapes, are hounded by a very effective system that traces most of them, and are made to pay huge sums for their time in the Church. Most who stay in the church willingly pay hundreds of thousands for their various course work. It’s expensive and the church coffers keep growing.]

The upshot was the church outwitted the IRS and walked away with everything they wanted in 1993. They even got to decide which of their many lucrative programs should be tax exempt. The church owed Frank Flinn big time for billions in tax exempt earnings and for their continued existence. Had they lost, they would be out of business –a very big business indeed. Unfortunately, the church famously underpays its minor help, like $50 a week. I doubt if Frank was paid what he was worth to them. Without Frank and experts like him, Scientologists would be a mere footnote in history. Unfortunately, like too many religions, they had people like Frank to milk people of their money, glorify their hierarchy, and dishonor and hurt their own people and let Catholic bishops spawn pedophiles on parishoners. Admittedly, all those churches also do good or people would be walking out even faster. I liked and revered the church I knew. It made me what I am. But it’s been going downhill since then. ~Gael Stahl

July 10th: Dan Mazar wrote to ~Gael that I was to lunch today with Tom Aldworth. He told me that Jack Brennan's brother, Dan, died about 3 weeks ago. The death notice is available online in the Chicago Tribune. He was also a red hot Sox fan. and wasn't Jack's brother Dan, a fireman too..? ~Gael

July 7th: Dan Mazar wrote: As an aside: Sister Ilia Delio, OSF whom Chris Reuter mentioned July 1st uses some of Zachary Hayes's ideas in Christology and his approach to religion and science. Zach's influence quietly but persistently enters thought and conversation. Zach was a speaker at the University of Chicago and at astronomy conventions when he was a professor at CTU. Both Zachary Hayes & Jerry Etzkorn are in print at the bookstore in Assisi. Isn't that nice to know..?  yes (jds)

July 6th: Dan Tanna wrote: ~Gael and Jim Bob Hankey (aka Ansgar) wrote a moving story of his "pilgrimage" to Walley Spivey's Tennesse birthplace in DD 1996's edition. Anyone who read it will remember it; anyone who hasn't should. Walley is a major player in our narrative. So here's my question: are you able to digitize Bob's '96 piece into the format you have gifted us OR must someone transcribed anew? If the later, I volunteer robustly. Dan, you got yourself a brand new job (jds)

July 5th: ~Gael wrote: I never expected to see Leonardo Boff finally liberated. Seems that his former prosecutor when he was being tried for propagating love for the poor through liberation theology is even writing a book with a former liberation theologian. So Boff is vindicated, and as the beatitudes promised, maybe the poor shall inherit the earth. Even though his English is terrible and barely comprehensible best we let our Brazilian Franciscan Diaspora have its say...?

Boff  Leonardo Boff, theologian and writer

"...A spirit of insurrection human masses is sweeping the world, occupying the only space left to them: the streets and squares. The movement is just beginning, first in North Africa, then in Spain with the "indignados" in England and the USA with "Occupies" and Brazil with youth and other social movements. Nobody refers to the classic bandeirtas socialism, from left, liberating some party or revolution. All these proposals or if exhausted or do not offer the allure enough to move the masses. Now are topics related to daily life of citizens: participatory democracy work for all, human rights, personal and social, active presence of women in public affairs transparency, clear rejection to all kinds of corruption, a new world is possible and necessary. Nobody feels represented by the powers that generated a world political palatial, with his back to the people or by directly manipulating citizens. Represents a challenge for any analyst to interpret this phenomenon. Not just pure reason; has to be a reason holistic incorporating other forms of intelligence data aracionais, emotional and archetypal and emergencies own historical process and even the cosmogony. Only then will we have a more or less comprehensive to do justice to the uniqueness of the phenomenon. First of all, we must recognize that it is the first major event, the result of a new phase of human communication is fully open, a democracy in degree zero which is expressed through social networks. Every citizen can get out of anonymity, say your word, find your interlocutors, organize groups and meetings, formulate a flag and go outside. In repende, they form networks of networks that handle thousands beyond the limits of space and time. This phenomenon needs to be analyzed accurately because it can represent a leap of civilization that will set a new direction to history, not only of a country but of all mankind. Manifestations of Brazil provoked solidarity demonstrations in dozens and dozens of other cities in the world, especially in Europe. Suddenly Brazil is no longer only the Brazilians. It is a part of humanity that identifies as a species, in the same house Common causes around collective and universal. Why such massive movements erupted in Brazil now? Lots are the reasons. I hold to just one. And back to the other at another time. My feeling tells me that the world in the first place, it is a saturation effect: the people imbued with the kind of politics being practiced in Brazil, including the domes of the PT (fender PT municipal policies that have keep the old popular fervor). The people benefited from the scholarship programs of the family of light for all of my life my home, payroll loans; joined the consumer society. And now what? Well said the Cuban poet Ricardo Retamar: "the human being has two famines: one bread which is satiable, and another beauty that is insatiable." Under beauty is meant education, culture, recognition of human dignity and of personal and social rights such as minimum quality healthcare and transportation less inhumane. This second hunger was not properly served by public power is PT or other parties. Those who killed his hunger, want to see other hungers met, not in last place, the hunger for culture and participation. Looms awareness of the profound social inequalities that is the great stigma of Brazilian society. This phenomenon becomes more and more intolerable in that it is a growing awareness of citizenship and real democracy. A democracy in deeply unequal societies like ours, is purely formal, practiced only in the act of voting (which is in fact the power to choose their "dictator" every four years because the candidate once elected, gives back to the people palace politics and practices of the parties). She shows how a fake press conference. This scam is being unmasked. The masses want to be present in the decisions of large projects that affect them and they are not asked for anything. Neither speak indigenous whose land is sequestered for agribusiness or industrial hydroelectric. This fact of the crowds on the streets reminds me of the play by Chico Buarque de Holanda and Paul Bridges written in 1975: "The drop of water." Now reached the last straw that broke the camel. The authors somehow intuited the current phenomenon by saying in the preface of the play in book form: " The key is that the Brazilian life can again be returned, on stage,*the Brazilian public* ... Our tragedy is a tragedy of Brazilian life . " But this tragedy is denounced by the masses in the streets screaming. This Brazil we have is not for us, it does not include us in the social pact that guarantees the lion's share for the elites. Want a Brazil where the people account and want to contribute to rebuilding the country, on other bases more democratic-participatory, more ethical and less evil forms of social relationship...

cf. Leonardo Boff's history and home page:

July1st: Chris Reuter is back and wrote: I must confess that, after my initial fulminations at Garry Wills, I decided to buy and read his book "Why Priests?" Intellectual honesty, I reasoned, demanded it if I wished to be a part of the ongoing debate. I made lengthy notes as I read and, I confess, found myself agreeing with him frequently. His anecdotal accounts, mutatis mutandis, parallel many that have graced DD over the years. Who can deny the Church's obvious defects? I was glad to read the NCR article by Raymond Schroth SJ that Jack Bartz inserted in DD several weeks ago. It is a careful and nuanced critique. While I'm confessing my book purchases, I also acknowledge getting the one that Dick Mayer praised so eloquently: "New Proofs for the Existence of God" by Robert Spitzer SJ. Dick is right that it is an exciting and challenging foray into physics and philosophy. I have to say, however, that I was terribly let down at the end. After all the impressive evidence (the Big Bang and all that followed), God is "reasonable" but not "proven". Spitzer admits as much when he discusses "analogy". At the very end of the book he comes right to the door of "unconditional love", but can't seem to make the leap out of his head into his heart. How he might have succeeded by paying attention to Franciscan sources as much as he does to Aquinas ! Which leads me to recommend still another book: "The Unbearable Wholeness of Being" by Ilia Delio OSF. There is an excellent review of this book in the current issue of NCR. Sister Ilia, who guided a wonderful retreat for our Provincial council and staff several years ago, brings together the essential data cited by Spitzer and the implications of evolution. Following both Chardin and our Franciscan intellectual tradition, she places "the power of love" squarely at the center of reality (and not simply as one among several "transcendentals" or "yearnings" as in Spitzer). The Church, Ilia asserts, is itself part of evolution to the Omega Point. This, it seems to me, has much to say about Garry Wills' views on priests. After listing the Catholic beliefs he still holds (I count 15), he rejects sacred orders and sacraments. His evidence is primarily what he finds (or more accurately fails to find) in the New Testament (especially Hebrews) and in the primitive Church. I must leave scripture scholarship to those who are qualified, but it does seem to me that absence-of-mention is not all that compelling a proof. Following Ilia Delio's line of argument, I would also suggest that I see no particular need to find everything in the scriptures. That would make sense only if the Church was perfect at its beginning and has been in a state of decay ever since. If we see the Church as part of evolution and not just presiding over it, then its gradual development is not surprising. Delio stresses that love is the fundamental force bringing all reality to greater complexity and consciousness. I realize that we are not neutral observers of the priesthood debate. I just passed my 47th anniversary of ordination, and I know that just about every DD brother has strong feelings about everything Catholic. I hope we can maintain the energy of this brotherly dialogue....so do we Chris, ~Gael

UpArrow  July 2013


DownArrow  June 2013

June 26th: Jack Bartz wrote: A Texan by the name of Jimmy Akin wrote June 12th on his National Catholic Register (NCR) Blog "...that Pope Francis recently made the news by apparently acknowledging the existence of a "gay lobby" at the Vatican...!" holy smokes Jack, this Akin fellow sure knows how to raise a ruckus... (jds)

Jimmy Akin  Jimmy Akin, author, apologist, contributing magazine editor and radio host...
cf. Akin's NCR blog and home page:

June 25th: Frank Flinn wrote: Leonardo Boff clearly delineates the dilemma about curial power facing the present pope. So far he is holding the line by not succumbing to the palatial life-style. It's a symbolic act but important. I have some very practical suggestions. Many of the positions in the Vatican can be well administered by out-world bishops who come to serve for a period of time the way heads of religious orders do. The faux title of titular bishop should be abolished. If you are not the pastor to a real diocese, you should not hold the title or status of a bishop. Reducing the piping in the Vatican will give back to bishops some of their original power, the original intent of which was to serve people not to jockey for position. There is no reason why the pope cannot appoint laypersons to the cardinality.There is much talk that Pope Paul VI offered it to Jacques Maritain who turned it down. He should have taken it to break the cardinal ceiling. Remember, Francis never wanted ordination of any kind and only accepted the diaconate when the new directive about preachers came down. There is no reason why women, now cardinals, could be appointed to head several different congregations. There is absolutely no reason why a married person could not be appointed to such a position. My hope is that Francis I will perceive that one of the fundamental weaknesses leading to the corruption of the Vatican has been the monoculture of powerful ecclesiastical men.

June 24th: Jack Bartz sent a picture of Pope Francis and a Vatican dove or pigeon with the caption:  "What a Beautiful Picture... Pope Francis was waving at people on Saint Peter’s Square during Wednesday's General Audience when, incredibly, a Dove perched on his hand..! Makes you think... doesn’t it…?"

Jack, the only problem here is what came first, the cage or pigeon...? (jds)

June 21st: ~Gael notes: The war between the Liberation Theology movement and Rome is over says Gerhard Ludwig Müller. The Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith pays tribute to the Liberation Theology movement honoring his long friendship with Peruvian theologian Gutiérrez Gianni Valente. ref. Vatican city.

Muller  Gerhard Ludwig Müller

“...The Latin American ecclesial and theological movement known as “Liberation Theology”, which spread to other parts of the world after the Second Vatican Council, should in my opinion be included among the most important currents in 20th century Catholic theology.” This authoritative and glorifying historical evaluation of Liberation Theology did not just come from some ancient South American theologian who is out of touch wit the times. The above statement was made by Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith which Ratzinger headed in the 1980’s, after John Paul I appointed him to the post. The Prefect gave two instructions, warning against pastoral and doctrinal deviations from Latin American theological currents of thought. This decisive comment about the Liberation Theology movement is not just some witty remark that happened to escape the mouth of the current custodian of Catholic orthodoxy. The same balanced opinion pervades the densely written pages of “On the Side of the Poor. The Theology of Liberation”, a collection of essays co-written with liberation theologian Gustavo Gutiérrez and published in Germany in 2004. Gutiérrez invented the formula for defining the Liberation Theology movement, whose actions were – for a long time – closely scrutinised by the Ratzinger-led Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The movement was not criticised once during this time. Today the book seems to wave goodbye in a way to the theological wars of the past and the hostility that flash up now and again, to cause alarm on purpose. The book put an official seal on a common path the two had followed for many years. Müller never hid his closeness to Gustavo Gutiérrez, whom he met in Lima in 1988, during a study seminar. During the ceremony for the honorary degree which the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru granted to Müller in 2008, the then bishop of Regensburg defined the theological thought of his master and Peruvian friend as fully orthodox. In the months before Müller’s nomination as head of the dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, some claimed his closeness to Gutiérrez proved he was not suited to the role previously held by Cardinal Ratzinger (24 long years). In the book’s essays, the two authors/friends back each other up. Müller says the merits of Liberation Theology go beyond the Latin American Catholic. The Prefect stressed that in recent decades, Latin America’s Liberation Theology movement has been oriented towards the image of Jesus Christ the Redeemer and liberator, an image all genuinely Christian theological currents are oriented towards. This stems from an evangelical inclination towards the poor. Müller affirmed that “poverty in Latin America oppresses children, the elderly and the sick,” to such an extent that many are driven to “contemplate death as the only way out.” Right from the outset, the Liberation Theology movement “forced” theological movements founded elsewhere, not to consider the real living conditions of people and individuals as something abstract. He saw “the body of Christ” in the poor, as Pope Francis does. The arrival of the Catholic Church’s first Latin American Pope made it possible to look at those years and experience without being conditioned by the controversies that raged at the time. Without the ritualism of the false mea culpas and superficial changes, it is easier today to see that the hostility shown by certain sections of the Church towards the Liberation Theology movement was politically motivated and did not really stem from a desire to preserve and spread the faith of the apostles. Those who paid the price were the theologians and pastors who were completely immersed in the evangelical faith of their people. They either ended up in the mince or faded into the shadows. For a long time, the hostility shown towards the Liberation Theology movement was invaluable factor in helping some climb the ecclesiastical career ladder. In one of his speeches, Müller (who in an interview on 27 December 2012 suggested it was likely a Latin American would substitute Ratzinger as Pope) did not hesitate to describe the political and geopolitical factors that had influenced certain “crusades” against the Liberation Theology movement: “the satisfaction of depriving the Liberation Theology movement of all meaning was intensified by capitalism’s sense of triumph, which was probably considered to have gained absolute victory. It was seen as an easy target that could be fitted into the same category as revolutionary violence and Marxist terrorism,” Müller said. He referred to a secret document prepared for President Reagan by the Committee of Santa Fé in 1980 (so 4 years before the Vatican’s first Instruction on the Liberation Theology movement), requesting that the U.S. government take aggressive action against the movement, which was accused of transforming the Catholic Church into “a political weapon against private property and productive capitalism by infiltrating the religious community with ideas that are less Christian than communist.'' Müller said: “The impertinence shown by the document’s authors, who are themselves guilty of brutal military dictatorships and powerful oligarchies, is disturbing. Their interest in private property and the capitalist production system has replaced Christianity as a criterion...”

cf. The Vatican Insider and Cardinal Muller:

June 20th: Dan Mazar initiated a series of letters with ~Gael and these are excerpts from some of Dan’s newsy letters about our brethren with whom he obviously stays in close touch. ~Gael (alias Zeke)

Zeke: Did you get the pix I sent from Fel's grave celebrating the 45th anniversary of his death? I sent a note to the new DD digest. Hope it made it down there. Keep well.Pax, Dan

Zeke: Actually, I get to Fel's grave about every 5 years or so. The pilgrimage started at the 25th anniversary because I promised to have a martini at the gravesite. It took 25 years to make good. My classmate, Bill Cardy, has been stationed at St. Anthony's for quite a while. He works as a chaplain at a hospital complex. He and I try to have dinner and visit the cemetery when we can. If you remember, Fel wanted 6 dancing girls as pall bearers and a pitcher of martinis on the coffin. Germain nixed the idea for fear of causing some to be scandalized. So, I quietly promised to carry it out. Sadly, I could find no dancing girls to run out to the cemetery! Fel had to be satisfied with gin! Fel while he was Custos amd while trying to guide the province through wrenching changes he also was suffering from very bad health: a bad back, poor circulation, too many cigarettes, plus the liquor. He just did not take good care of himself. As I have said, Fel was my spiritual director who became a very good friend. He taught me how to make a great martini. So I always think of him when shaking the cocktail shaker. He taught me not to bruise the gin, although some bartenders insist that is a myth.Pax, Dan

Zeke: Paul Francis Roberts (Gael’s provincial definitor when Francis Leo was Custos) aka The Big Cahuna is also buried in St. Louis--not far from Fel's grave. Br. Art Rempe (Gael’s cousin along with the Ostdiek brothers) and Br. Dave Schulte are also there plus several others. I met Paul Francis at Corpus Christi, when he and Fel were on the mission band and based themselves at Corps. Br. Guy was cooking there at the time. Fel was visiting OLA in November of 1967 and we got a chance for an extended conversation. He knew he suffered but really had no confidante among his peers. He told me about his condition but I was just a cleric. For some reason, he trusted me. Surprisingly, he revealed none of that to Tars or Big Cal who were his closest friends at Westmont. I can only say he was deeply unhappy but some of his spirit revived when amongst us younger friars. His death and Germain's death left the province without needed leadership. And, perhaps, the province never recovered. Fel made a deep impression on most everybody. And I don't think he ever sought any help. Certainly, not within the province. I think my little pilgrimage to the grave brings memories back to lots guys and that is a good thing. Keep well.Pax, Dan

Zeke: Seems to me that Fel just could not admit his illnesses as he carried the frailties of a whole bunch of folks on his shoulders and in his spirit. Tars once told me that Fel would walk the enclosure corridor at Wesmont all night. Tars ambushed him one night but Fel refused to unburden himself. It is a shame that his lonely burden could not be shared. When Tars was stationed at St. Peter's in the Loop, he and I would dine every couple of months, especially at the Parthenon in Greektown. He and I would tell stories about Fel, Big Cal, Andy Buvala and a few others. Those were great conveniats. After Tars has a third heart bypass surgery, the MDs told him they could do little more for him. That he should not worry about diet or drink --Enjoy himself with the time he had left.Tars was all for it. He would try ouzo, retsina, and another 1/2 carafe of the house wine, while enjoying Greek cooking.He made the most of it.Keep well.Pax, Dan

Zeke: I also had (two of Gael’s favorites) Loran Fuchs and Blane O’Neill for English. We called Loran the Great Stone Face because he was always so serious. I think he died from throat cancer many years ago. Blane continues ministry in Louisiana. I hear from him for Christmas and St. Francis Day. He is well and very proud of his teaching at Westmont. He did open worlds of fiction and other literature to me also, although he accused me of belonging to the Hemingway Construction Company. Tars was a true unknown quantity to my class. We did not understand him for years and years. However, he stayed open and congenial as I grew older and began to appreciate what he was doing. He and I went to symphony, opera, ballet, and other concerts very often. Usually with a bite to eat before or after. He was completely unaffected and most charitable and kind. When he was healthy, the Chicago Diaspora invited him to gatherings, along with Zachary. He really enjoyed hanging around with jocks like me, Zangs, Huxel, Stachura, Hoffman and the like. We certainly do not conform to the stereotypical artsy-craftsy image. But he loved it, mostly I think because he was not forgotten by us and was held in deep affection. Tars, Fel, Big Cal, and Zach became close friends with my family and dined at the house many times. We had many great evenings around the kitchen table after a fabulous meal cooked by my mom. My dad truly enjoyed having the friars as guests. I was lucky to stay connected with them after leaving the friars. I guess I did not go gently into that good night. Keep well. Regards to Susan.Pax, Dan

Zeke: You certainly can send my memories to Jim Sexton for the DD. Please use your editing skills and blue pencil judiciously. I just finished a day of yard work: cutting grass, weed whacking, and the like. Had to get it done before the next storm front moves in. I have written off the White Sox season. They are playing poorly and are boring. And the Cubs are even worse. Jack Brennan must be shaking his fist and muttering. I stayed up for the triple overtime hockey with the Blackhawks vs Bruins. Pretty exciting stuff. I have been playing golf once a week or so with Jim Zangs. We play 9 holes and have a chance to chat and giggle about the old days. Great fun. Keep well. I am enjoying the DD blog. You old timers usually have something interesting to say...Pax, Dan

June 13th: Jack Bartz rekindles the debate "Why Priests...? " with an NCR article by Raymond Schroth, SJ:

"Somewhere between its printing and publication, the subtitle of Garry Wills’ Why Priests? was altered. The Real Meaning of the Eucharist became A Failed Tradition. We don’t know why the switch, but it highlights a tension within the text over how much the author wants to damage or reform the two interlocked systems at the heart of historical Christianity. Those systems are the sacramental presence of Christ in the Eucharist and the Catholic priesthood. What is Wills trying to do? Combining historical and literary analysis with journalistic observations on the present Catholic church, he is trying to deliver a blow to its guts followed by a right hook to the jaw to knock the church’s self-image to the mat. To simply ask, “Why priests?” inevitably suggests that priests are not now and never have been really needed. The church he sees is a closed clique of clerics, a clique not grounded in the New Testament yet dominating the lives of millions, misleading them on the history of and the need for the sacraments, while dictating what the faithful may do and think. Yes, the Epistles and Acts of the Apostles list various roles in the early church: bishops (overseers) and elders (preachers), but no priests. The structures, he writes, were “radically egalitarian and charismatic, not authoritarian or hierarchical.” It disturbs Wills that the most striking thing about priests is “their supposed ability to change bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ.” As a result, the people of God cannot approach God directly, but only through the mediating powers of the priest. This, Wills says, made it hard to discipline a pedophile priest; though deprived of permission to offer Mass, he still had the power. Other rules and customs -- the daily office, celibacy, the demanded deference -- isolated priests from their communities. For Wills, the overstressed realism of Christ’s presence in the consecrated host has spawned aberrations of eucharistic piety, including “miraculous hosts” that bleed when stabbed or are carried in procession to ward off an enemy attack. It led to such aberrations as questions like: What if a spider drops into the wine? The answer: Catch, wash and burn the spider, then put the ashes and wash-water in the tabernacle. Wills believes in the Eucharist, but not the church-approved philosophical rationalization: St. Thomas Aquinas’ theory of transubstantiation, Jesus present in the substance of the bread. In centuries when the faithful rarely received Communion, the little host displayed in the gold monstrance overwhelmed the other presences of God -- in the congregation, in the Trinity, in the word -- and this “tiny white thing” became “a kind of benevolent kryptonite.” Wills proposes the teachings of St. Augustine, who claimed that what is changed in the Mass is not the bread given out but the believers receiving it. “This bread,” Augustine says, “makes clear how you should love your union with one another.” The French Jesuit Henri de Lubac held that the word “communion” originally referred to the union of the body of Christ and the people in the pews. De Lubac would also approve of Vatican II’s turning the altar around and offering the “kiss of peace.” Why Priests? bogs down when Wills takes seven chapters to demonstrate that the title of priest does not belong to Jesus by discrediting the one book of the New Testament, the Epistle to the Hebrews, that does refer to Jesus several times as “a priest in the order of Melchizedek.” Wills’ “failed tradition” of the subtitle may refer to either the lost concept of the Eucharist as the body of Christ in the community or to the lost egalitarianism of the original church. In his penultimate chapter, “Priestly Imperialism,” the seven sacraments, which were not instituted by Jesus but much later, become priestly power ploys. “First,” Wills writes, “no one can be saved but the baptized.” Wrong! Has Wills not heard of Jesuit Fr. Leonard Feeney, who in the 1940s preached “no salvation outside the church” and was dismissed from the Jesuits? Or Karl Rahner’s “anonymous Christian” saved by his openness to God’s love? Wills continues: Only priests can forgive sins, confect the Eucharist or confirm. The Eucharist, he contends, is not a sacrifice, but an eschatological meal like other meals and feedings in the Gospels. Later, as the priesthood developed and the Eucharist was seen less as a meal and more as a sacrifice, the community became less participants and more spectators. And here we are today. Wills says he has nothing against priests; he spent five years as a Jesuit and lists priests he has admired. He still calls himself a Catholic, although he does not believe in popes, priests and sacraments. He believes central tenets such as the Trinity, prayer, Resurrection, creed and afterlife, but draws the line on priestly prerogatives, canonized saints, guardian angels, and Fatima. There he is far from alone. He includes the Eucharist in the list of his beliefs. But on Ash Wednesday, appearing to plug this book on the Stephen Colbert comedy show -- a context that, with its audience hyped to laugh and scream at everything, does not lend itself to rational conversation -- he called the Eucharist a “fake.” He doesn’t use that word in the book, but that’s all his critics will remember, whether they ever read him or not. I’ve read seven of Wills’ books and admire his contribution to critical journalism and the faith, but I found this book the least satisfying. That’s perhaps because he fails to answer many of the questions he raises. The sacraments, whatever their origins, give peace and comfort. In some future reform, they may be administered by all or many Christians. Why Priests? should be required of all seminarians. They would dig into his sources and sources he has neglected and wrestle with and respond to his criticisms. He concludes by quoting a University of Notre Dame professor who says Jesus did not institute the Eucharist at the Last Supper. Wills thinks he has led his reader to agree. I think Wills has not landed that knockout punch. He’s still dancing around the ring."
  Raymond Schroth wrote "Somewhere between its printing and publication, the subtitle of Garry Wills’ Why Priests? was altered. The Real Meaning of the Eucharist became A Failed Tradition." The original subtitle is much better and better explains the heart of the whole book. Wills' book doesn't call priests failures but calls the changed meaning of the eucharist after Augustine by Aquinas for the church of that time was a big mistake. ~Gael

June 8th: ~Gael wrote: Francis Roethli a former friar of ours sends this article that is part English part Brazilian Portuguese, but its meaning is clear. Leonardo Boff is one of those theologians much suspected by Rome and probably silenced at times. He brother, Waldemar, was a classmate of mine and I helped him translate a book by a Brazilian Vatican II expert of one of their bishops. I don't know if it got published in English. And Waldemar left the seminary not too long after or while we were working on it. But Leonardo is a marvelous left wing theologian that created a brand of Catholicism whose name escapes me at the moment but was very popular in Brazil where Catholicism has been flourishing. Our missionaries have told DD many wonderful stories about the northern Brazil Catholics they worked with, especially Juvenal and Bishop Jim Tiago Ryan, and others. Here is an article of Leonardo Boff that Francis Roethli found interesting:

The "temptation" of Francis of Assisi and the possible "temptation" of Francis of Rome:
Do not imagine that the saints are free of injunctions of common humanity that knows moments of elation and frustration, and overruns brave dangerous temptations. It was no different in San Francisco, presented as "Brother always cheerful", courteous and lived a mystical fusion with all creatures regarded as brothers and sisters. But at the same time, someone was taken major passions and deep anger when he saw his ideals betrayed by his brothers. One of his best biographer, Thomas of Celano, with cruel realism wrote that Francis suffered temptations of "violent lust" but that could symbolically underline. There is, however, a fact that the historiography of the pious Franciscan almost hidden but well researched by historical criticism. Comes under the name of "the great temptation." The last 5 years of the life of Francis (died in 1226) were marked by deep angústas, almost despair, and severe illnesses that came like malaria and blindness. The problem was goal: his ideal of life was to live in extreme poverty, radical simplicity and stripped of all power, only supported in the Gospel read without interpretations that usually desfibram his revolutionary sense.

Occurs in a few years, their lifestyle wowed mlhares followers, more than five thousand. How to house them? How to give them to eat? Many were priests and theologians like St. Anthony. His movement had no structure or legality. It was pure dream taken seriously. Francisco even if meant as a "novellus pazzus" as a "new crazy" that God wanted the rich Church, governed by Innocent III, the most powerful of the Popes in history. From the summer of 1220 he wrote several versions of a rule which were all rejected by the whole fraternity. Were too utopian to the point of wanting to put the rule that the Holy Spirit was the Superior of the Order. Frustrated and feeling useless, decides to resign the direction of motion. Full of anguish not knowing what else to do, took refuge in the woods for two years, only visited by close friend Leo Frei expected a divine illumination that was not coming. In the meantime, drafted a rule marked by influênicia of the Roman Curia and the Pope who transformed the movement into a religious order: the Order of Friars Minor with structure or purpose. Francisco, with pain, humbly accepted it. Came out of the crisis but made clear he would not discuss more than giving examples of the primitive dream. The law triumphed over life, the power circumscribed charisma. But it was the spirit of Francis: poverty, simplicity and universal brotherhood that inspires us to this day. Died within a great personal frustration, but without losing the playfulness. Died singing ballads of love of Provence and psalms in Latin.

Francis of Rome will surely be facing its "great temptation", no less than that of Francis of Assisi.Will have to reform the Roman Curia, an institution that has about a thousand years. There is crystallized sacred power ( sacra potestas ) administratively. Finally it comes to managing an institution with a population of China: one billion two hundred million Catholics. But it is just warning: could scarcely prevail where there is love and mercy. Here reigns the doctrine, law, order that by their nature include or exclude, approve or condemn. Where there is power, especially in an absolute monarchy as the Vatican State, always an anti-surge power, intrigue, and careerism dispute over power. Thomas Hobbes in his Leviathan(1651)saw clear: "we can not guarantee power but seeking power and more power." The Francis of Rome, the current local bishop and Pope should interfere with this universal power, marked by a thousand wiles and now by high corruption. We know from previous Popes who proposed reforming the Curia, the resistances and frustrations they had to endure and even suspected physical elimination by people of ecclesiastical administration. Francis of Rome has the spirit of Francis of Assisi is by poverty, simplicity and the bare bones of power. But our happiness is with another Jesuit education and gifted famous "discernment of spirits", the Order itself. Une tenderness explicit in everything he does but can also show unusual force as befits a Pope with a mission to restore the Church morally ruined.

Francis of Assisi had little advisers, dreamers like him who hardly knew how to help him. Francis of Rome surrounded himself with advisers chosen from all continents, Maoria seniors, ie, experienced in the exercise of sacred power. This should now make another profile: more service commando, more stripped down than the symbols ornate palatial, with more "smell of sheep" than the scent of flowers on the altar. The bearer of the sacred power should be before the pastor that ecclesiastical authority; preside over charity and less to canon law, must be brother and other brothers but with different responsibilities. The Francis of Rome bear his "great temptation" inspired by his onônimo of Assisi? I estimate that a steady hand and know you will not lack the courage to follow your "discernment of spirits" to dictate to actually restore the credibility of the Church and return the fascination for the figure of Jesus, which she should be humble servant.

Liberation theology "...is a political movement in Catholic theology which interprets the teachings of Jesus Christ in relation to a liberation from unjust economic, political, or social conditions. It has been described by proponents as "an interpretation of Christian faith through the poor's suffering, their struggle and hope, and a critique of society and the Catholic faith and Christianity through the eyes of the poor", and by detractors as Christianized Marxism. Although liberation theology has grown into an international and inter-denominational movement, it began as a movement within the Catholic Church in Latin America in the 1950s–1960s. Liberation theology arose principally as a moral reaction to the poverty caused by social injustice in that region. The term was coined in 1971 by the Peruvian priest Gustavo Gutiérrez, who wrote one of the movement's most famous books, A Theology of Liberation. Other noted exponents are Leonardo Boff of Brazil, Jon Sobrino of El Salvador, Óscar Romero of El Salvador, and Juan Luis Segundo of Uruguay..."  ref. wikipedia

June 13th & 15th: Dan Tanna wrote: A salute to the ordination class of '67 on this the 46th anniversary day. And a special call out to those still serving His Kingdom: Chuck Faso, Pat Evard, Herb Wheatley, Fred Radtke, George Musial, Jim Hoffman. Nor to overlook Mike Kellett's (RIP) and Cyril Wagner's (RIP) ministries - stout conduits for the flow of God's grace to unknown numbers. Proud to be associated with all... And now ~Gael, thanks for passing along Frank Flinn's nine course serving of food for thought. Frank, don't hold back. Looking forward to other serving of the banquet feast. After I share your thoughts on Eucharist, transubstantiation, priests & bishops, etc. with Sharon, my loving Pentecostal spouse, I'll brace for: "See! I told you so!" She's a sola scriptura gal and very versed in the Bible. She has a Franciscan heart but shivers with bias when I remind her. Thank God for putting her in my life. The same gratitude - albeit of a lessor passion, understandably - that I harbor for my OFM brothers & sisters. But, Frank...to return to earth: I will always remember your reported response to Blaze Hackman's question - as he was demonstrating static electricity rubbing steel rod with a mink mitten. Do you remember? I wonder if Dick Mayer does? Dick, would you weigh in please..?

Garry Wills  by Garry Wills published by Viking
cf. The New York Times Sunday Book Review:

June 6th: Dan Tanna wrote: I sent a lofty note to ddigest Sunday night responding to Chris Reuter's epistemology piece. It hasn't posted yet. Could it be it was sent from my iPhone? And would you email me jds's email address.  Dan, most people work on a Monday, a Tuesday, a Wednesday, etc... but "Never on a Sunday..." (jds)

June 5th: Paul Meyers from Kennesaw Georgia wrote: I did manage to get "into" the site which explains what the parameters of the new site consist of and another site entitled "Diaspora Digest Spring 2013" which is an invitation, and elements which look like an actual site, especially the article about "believers need priests" by Brian Cahill. However, still have not found the "actual" DD site. I have been in contact with Dan Mazar, a very regular contributor on the old DD site concerning the death of Chas Cantlon. Chas and wife Margie operated a nudist camp in Idaho, and since 1959, was always a "free spirit", and one of the younger-members of our class. I am hopeful you might be able to help this semi-Postulant into re-finding the "actual site" of DD which has been resurrected...!  Paul, you're on Diaspora Digest and welcome..! (jds)

June 4th: Dan Tanna wrote: Chris, your epidemiology story brought back many memories of OLA days: heated outdoor pool Wednesday afternoon hikes in the valley, riding shotgun in the truck with John Behl to Terminal Tower to pick up stamps, being a proud member of Al Merz's tree crew, watching Jerry Thielen fall 20 feet out of a tree unscathed, repairing window counterweights and panes summers with Jack Brennen, celebrating Shrove Tuesday sipping Dale Bruni's Wash.Mo. home brew, Jerry Krull's facile grasp of symbolic logic, Tom Shannon chase of Matt Menges through the pages of Allan Wolter's metaphysic's book, and Agatho Wendolph's proof to Chuck Faso that 2+2 does not always equal 4 (ask Chuck for details), and so many more. But while our epistemology classes with Jerry Etzkorn were disquieting for us 21 year olds in those days, he helped me relax with "brother uncertainty" and "sister relativity" in my Medicare years. Thanks for sharing, Chris!  Dan, I remember all you say except the heated pool; I was there with you and it wasn't heated, ice cold in winter ~Gael

NB.  Dan Tanna corrects some of DD's mistakes:~Gael , you don't remember the white diaphonous vapors lazily lifting from the surface of our courtyard pool to the heavens above during those cold Cleveland winter months? Oh yes, the pool was heated! The challenge was shoveling a path through the snow and ice to "take a dip." Terry Nieburgie's class did the install as I recall. They were able to tap into a local resource of cheap natural gas (like $.000050 per cu/ft) to heat it.

June 3rd: Dan Mazar wrote: The DD mailbox filled up rapidly, didn't it? No thoughts on Wills spring to mind immediately. However, I did send some pictures to my TRANSITUS LIST showing 2 classmates and me at FEL'S grave in St. Louis to honor the 45th anniversary of his passing. I suspect that Gael will be able to post them to the Diaspora. Congrats to Gael and Jim Sexton for undertaking this big chore for Brennan, who is in mourning over this year's edition of the White Sox.  Dan Mazar celebrates Francis Leo Madsen's death every year sometimes with a martini at his grave. FEL died the year after I joined Mooney at Corpus Christi in Chicago. Soon after Jim Sexton (jds) joined us. ~Gael

Francis Leo's grave
Dan Mazar, Bill Cardy and Jim Gutchewsky at Francis Leo Madsen's 45th anniversary

NB. Dan Mazar corrects  some of DD's mistakes: Actually, I get to Fel's grave about every 5 years or so. The pilgrimage started at the 25th anniversary because I promised to have a martini at the gravesite. It took 25 years to make good. My classmate, Bill Cardy, has been stationed at St. Anthony's for quite a while. He works as a chaplain at a hospital complex. He and I try to have dinner and visit the cemetery when we can. If you remember, Fel wanted 6 dancing girls as pall bearers and a pitcher of martinis on the coffin. Germain nixed the idea for fear of causing some to be scandalized. So, I quietly promised to carry it out. Sadly, I could find no dancing girls to run out to the cemetery..! Fel had to be satisfied with gin..! I celebrate Fel's life every January with his recipe for martinis, but only get down to the grave to do it properly every 5 years or so. A few of my classmates always humor me and join in. Turtle Tanna's memory is not entirely decrepit. We had to find laughs wherever we could.

June 3rd: Tom Shannon wrote: Thanks for all the work to get the DD revived again. Good to see the names of many classmates and interesting comments from colleagues. Keep up the good works and conversation.  Tom was in the class behind me and went to novitiate in 1960. Tom's classmates have been quick, as usual, to get into the fray. Dan Tanna wrote immediately and Ric Dolesh was the first one to write to our new Diaspora Digest. Paul Langan has written recently, too. Chuck Faso writes regularly. Tom's class is really a tribe that likes to sit around and talk and laugh and give each other a hard time, me too..! ~Gael

June 2nd: John Ostdiek wrote: "Good to see that it is alive again". So are we happy to be alive again ... ~Gael & (jds)

June 2nd:Dan Tanna wrote from his iPhone : "Ecce quam Bonum" pops to mind as I salute DD's 2nd coming. Gael led us out of darkness in DD's "carbon paper" years. Jack's energies (RIP) maintained precious momentum. Now Jim Sexton is lifting us to further heights with digital diligence. I will enjoy reading varying points of view on all topics ecclesiastical and secular. My entries will express new found delight catching a large mouth bass or still being able to recite all verses of The Destruction of Sennacherib. Pax et Bonum.

UpArrow  June 2013


DownArrow  May 2013

May 15th: Jim Ballard wrote about The challenge and a philosophy update from John Ostdiek. Thanks John for the recommendation on “New Proofs…. Who says that even though something is unknowable, that we can’t try to get a little closer..?

May 15th: Frank Flinn wrote: ~Gael
you can share this around if you want to. Hope you are well. Still planning to stop by when we go to NC:

1. Commensality. While I do not accept John Dominic Crossan’s “cynic hypothesis” for the early Jesus movement, his analysis of Jesus engaging with people at common meals is convincing. Commensality, not consecration, is the earliest stratum of the Eucharistic tradition. The tradition implies communality between participants, even those “not of the faith” (as we would say today), equality, mutual respect, non-violence, common purpose and care. Jesus ate and drank with anyone who was willing to share with him.

2. The tradition always refers back to the words of Jesus for the “institution” of the Eucharist. Jesus did not institute, he practiced the present-yet-coming messianic banquet of the kingdom at the common meals with fellow rabbis, tax collectors and men and women of questionable virtue, Jew and Gentile alike. The messianic banquet theme reaches back to the Israelite covenant meal (Dt 30), Isaianic prophecy (Is 26; 49), the Qumran banquet (1QSa), and Matthew’s multiple use of the theme. The banquet implies ingathering of the nations with Israel, bounty, healing, and universal well-being for all nations.

3. The subsequent Christian tradition narrows in only on the second half of Jesus’ words: “This is my body…this is my blood” (Mk 14: 22-24). He first said “Take and eat…take and drink… .” The real act going on is not the transformation of food elements into a magical substance but the creation of a community in the sharing of the bread and wine. It is the passing of the bread and wine that creates the community not the mumbling of magical phrases over food element. Later Paul will say it is the ekklesia that is the body of Christ, not the bread per se or the wine per se. He even condemns the Corinthian Lord’s Supper if it means division in the body of the community and the distinction between the haves and have-nots (1 Corinthians 11:19-33). The shared bread and wine are a sign of the community of Christ, the real “one loaf” (10:16). If forced to answer, I say that Christ becomes present when the bread is broken and distributed and the wine is shared. That is what creates the present-yet-coming community of the messianic banquet.

4. The later fixation on the “real” presence borders on fetishism. Distilling the presence of the present-yet-coming messianic communion into a wafer and a cup of wine fixates on the present, totally obviates the past connection to the covenant banquet of Israel and the prophetic future link to the coming presence (=basileia) of God among the ingathered nations. This fixation wound up having real deleterious effects. Sometime ago I stopped attending Holy Thursday services because the meaning of the messianic ingathering of Jesus’ supper with his disciples—I am convinced here were women there, too, but their presence got filtered out when the patriarchal theme of “the Twelve” was later introduced!—was reduced to the host and wine on the altar and the commemoration of the ordination of priests who could magically transmute the elements. There are absolutely no ordinations in the biblical texts pertaining to the Eucharist! There is a laying-on of hands but that could be done by anyone anywhere for anyone as a sign of the healing and blessing that accompanies the growing messianic community. It goes without saying that Jesus would invite a Roman Centurion and Canaanite woman to partake his messianic banquet. I think he would also invite a Muslim and a Buddhist had he encountered one.

5. When Benedict XVI re-blessed the Tridentine rite, I took him to task in an editorial published jointly in the Boston Globe, the New York Times, and the International Herald Tribune on 10 July 2007 (cf. link below) .  The Latin Title was “Vaticanum Secundum, Vale!” and the English “Turning Back the Liturgical Clock.” I concluded: “Why do I say farewell to Vatican II? One of the roots of that council was the liturgical movement that preceded it by half a century. The liturgical reformers were convinced that the liturgy was of, by, and for the whole people of God, clergy and lay alike. The very word liturgia in Greek means ‘the work of the people.’ This notion embodies at its fullest the principle of collegiality, the key theological idea that shaped Vatican II. The Tridentine Mass is the work of the priest. By turning back the liturgical clock not to the creative multiplicity of the early Christian communities but to the heyday of the Inquisition and papal monarchism at Trent, Pope Benedict XVI is abandoning the principle of collegiality that embraces all bishops, all priests, all deacons and all lay people as the worshiping community of the beloved faithful. That says to Vatican II, ‘Farewell!’

6. The Vatican has always claimed that the pope with the magisterium is the “authentic interpreter” of Vatican II. In reality, the popes with the magisterium, beginning with Paul VI (yes, Paul VI) experienced a failure of nerve and became the dissembling dismantlers of Vatican II. The idea of the messianic banquet, to which all humanity is invited, is a dangerous idea to anyone who wants to limit it to baptized Catholics in good graces with the Roman Pontiff.

7. The theological principle of collegiality stems from the central ideal of the messianic banquet which binds past with future in the present. It also serves as a principle of justice, equalizing the members of the “body of Christ” in a shared existence, and inviting in those in the highways and byways who have been excluded. (Have you ever heard a sermon on the Eucharist as Justice?!) The Eucharist, rightly celebrated, is the proclamation of the Good News to the world in action, not a fetishized rite limited to the few and presided over by the select.

8. Not one word about “sacrifice” in the above! All the later talk about God’s sacrifice of his Son is, in my estimation, simply code language to impose priestly guilt upon unsuspecting lay dolts. Repeating the “sacrifice” is the authority’s way of reinscribing guilt in order to keep followers in check and submissive. Where is the good news in that? The Protestant appeal to “the Cross” borders on the same thing. Yes, Jesus offered himself and, yes, he died on a cross in a typical Roman crucifixion orgy (Sparticus!). But it was ephapax, once for all, and the good news is that in the future the world is called to bring the bounty of the banquet to one and all, not the repetition of death and sacrifice or the re-imposition of guilt and subservience. The right answer to the Cross is the principle of active non-violence, the cessation of acts of violence in the world. Violence, in principle, is over with. Mohandas Gandhi, who spiritually journeyed to Leo Tolstoi, and Martin Luther King, who spiritually journeyed to Gandhi, got this right. The messianic banquet is not about sacrifice but about sharing.

9. More theses to follow. I do not agree with everything Gary Wills has to say, but I think he is in the right ball park and playing the right game.

Frank was one class ahead of me in the seminary, has done some serious thinking on the eucharist, priesthood and sacrifice. ~Gael

cf. Frank's reference to The New York Times:

May 15th: John Ostdiek thanks Dick Mayer for recommending Spitzer's new book:  "New Proofs for The Existence of God". I have it now on my 'to-do" list.

May 14th: Cheryl and Jack Bartz wrote to Family and Friends: Here we are: One Oak Brook Drive B-301 Oak Brook Illinois 60523-8606 Tel.630.832.1090. If charity begins at home, we'll accept it. Make your donations early and often to win a prize! I take it Jack and Cheryl have moved to this address ~Gael

May 14th: John Ostdiek wrote: Thanks for including me in this discussion. As a scientist, Franciscan and priest -- wearing all of those hats gets me into interesting stuff -- I deal a lot with knowns, part-knowns and unknowns. That's what life is, always has been and always will be. Truths/ theories/ hypotheses/problems seem to keep jumping from one phase to another. Life has a lot of gray. Luckily there is a God who is both light and love still in charge. Absolute knowledge and absolute love is reserved until afterlife.

May 14th: Dick Mayer wrote: John and Chris' comments move me to recommend a book I am just finishing. Best philosophy book I've ever read loaded with insights from modern math and physics. First thing I've read which helps me begin to grasp the relativistic space time reality. Conclusions from set theory and finite mathematics that show an eternally old universe is impossible (without throwing out modern science/math) and that our minds are inherently different from any possible computer, etc. Some dry "lecture-type sections, but overall very good. So if you are up for a metaphysical exercise, read:  "New Proofs for the Existence of God" by Robert J. Spitzer

Spitzer's Book  "New Proofs of The Existence of God" by Robert Spitzer, SJ
cf. some of Robert Spitzer's YouTube interviews & lectures and wikipedia's reference:

May 7th: Chris Reuter wrote: ~Gael : Please forward to your DD list Fratres Carissimi, Sorores Carissimae: There is a "Viewpoint" piece by Brian Cahill in the current issue of NCR. His is an interesting reaction to the recent Garry Wills book, and I would recommend it as a good example of non-dualistic thinking in practice. Should you not be an NCR subscriber, I've added the column as an attachment. You might also want to read "Proposals abound for a 'Franciscan' reform of the Vatican" on page 17 of the same NCR:

NCR Cahil articlel

I enjoyed almost all the philosophy courses we had for three years at OLA in Cleveland. We began with Logic, which wasn't about much of anything but was a great puzzle to be solved. The "applications" courses (Psychology, Cosmology, Sociology, Ethics, Aesthetics, etc.) were all challenges--especially because we had enough education to challenge the Scholastics' view of almost everything. The only philosophy course that I thoroughly disliked was Epistemology, and I've lately come to acknowledge this as a big mistake. I could not understand why there should be such a fuss over one's theory of knowledge, truth and falsity, certainty and the rules of evidence. I was persuaded that my brand of dualism was beyond challenge. But, after a lifetime of chasing and teaching truths and certitudes, I'm realizing that I need a checkup on my epistemology. While I still affirm and believe the essentials of both reason and faith, I need to make more room for paradox and mystery--the "unknowing" territory of mysticism. As Richard Rohr points out (The Naked Now, Chapter 20), the basic principles of logic--identity, contradiction, excluded middle--don't serve us well in all matters. Blame the Greeks, St. Paul, St. Augustine, Constantine, the Scholastics, the Reformers and Counter-Reformers, the Jansenists, the Puritans, whoever. Either/or dualistic thinking is programmed into our mental DNA. The implications of replacing our mental software with a "both/and" operating system are immense. For one thing, we would not such a need for perfection in the Church. 
My classmate Chris Reuter, a Franciscan prison chaplain of the best kind, sent this excellent essay on the Garry Wills book, Why Priests? A failed tradition. The writer does an admirable job quickly summarizing the main parts of the book (which I'm finally reading with great relish) and the main thing, unlike some others who've addressed the book, he's actually read it and appreciated what Wills is doing. He then goes on to say how much priests have meant to him. I think we can all say that. In fact, Wills goes on quite a while to say the same thing, how many priests were his best friends and counselors and almost all his books including this one were dedicated to priests. He also loves priests but think they would be also great deacons or other servants of the faithful. He dedicated this book to Henri Lubac who was silenced for years and then later a pope wanted to make him a cardinal but he deferred. Lubac was silenced for saying what Wills is saying, that Augustine was right that we don't need priests to make bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus because as Augustine says, it's weird to claim we actually eat the flesh of Jesus like carnivorous mammals. Thomas came along and justified the idea of transubstantiation. Will explains it but as always, I don't understand its intricacies. Anyway, this is a good appreciation of priests and I loved every word. So true. Thank God for most of the priests in my life. I was taught by some of the very best like Blane and Francis Leo and Fuchs who turned me on to Homer, and Julius who didn't get Whitman or Dickinson but was such a great character, and Gentil's history and Simeon's German taught in German and on and on and on to philosophy and theology. ~Gael

UpArrow  May 2013


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