Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Religious Freedom Subverted

The Supreme Court is hearing a case about religious freedom. A baker in Colorado refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple, but state law bars discrimination based on race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. Whose sincerely-held beliefs should prevail—those of the baker or gays?
Is the issue religious freedom or discrimination?

This case addresses the same issue that the court sent back to lower courts in 2016. The Little Sisters of the Poor did not comply with the Obama administration’s mandate to provide contraceptive services for their employees. Their name—Little Sisters of the Poor—made it easy for right-wingers to accuse Obama of bullying.

My sympathies lie with women employees too poor to pay for contraception and for whom pregnancy would be disastrous for medical or economic reasons. The Sisters apparently do not know that moral theologians on the birth control commission in 1967 advised Paul VI to change church doctrine banning contraception. The Little Sisters should be educated, not encouraged in their rigid orthodoxy.

Their case was settled by having the insurance company pay for contraception and the sisters didn’t have to offer it in their health plan. But Donald Trump became president, zealous to overturn Obama’s legacy. With encouragement of his administration, the Little Sisters contend their own religious freedom is violated because their workers have the freedom to practice birth control that the Sisters consider immoral. Their argument defies logic.

Another company, Hobby Lobby, claimed religious grounds for denying coverage for certain types of birth control they consider abortifacients. The Supreme Court, now right-leaning with the addition of Neil Gorsuch, ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby. All three women justices dissented along with Stephen Breyer.
Hobby Lobby’s health plans will continue to cover vasectomies and Viagra!

I deplore the triumphal crowing of Catholic bishops over this decision.  From the time the so-called religious rights issue arose, I have considered the bishops’ naming of it ironic. What they call “religious freedom” denies others the freedom to follow their conscience. That the bishops disagree with women’s conscience is irrelevant. It is not the bishops’ bodies or their finances at stake.

How would this issue have been handled if women had decision-making power? Or if lay men and women in the Church did? Answers to these questions clarify our thinking about it. If ultra-right moral police sincerely want to reduce the number of abortions, they will let women do it with contraception.

Like the Little Sisters, religious officials want the right to force their moral judgment on others with different moral views. They claim "the right to discriminate against any class of people" who disagree with them, writes Pat Perriello in National Catholic Reporter.

Whose sincerely-held beliefs should prevail? All sides were accommodated by having insurance companies pay for birth control. It is no burden for them because birth costs them more than preventing conception.

The issue is not religious freedom. It is discrimination.  


Tuesday, October 31, 2017

All Hallows Eve

To mark All Hallows Eve, which celebrates the saints, I am retelling true stories of encounters with saints told by their family members still living in this material world. Our secular world refuses to accept the interpretation I give them. I think they give evidence of spiritual reality—what we call “God.”

But first I want you to know why I've been neglecting this blog. I've been working on my memoir and getting letters published in papers. The latest, supporting gun regulation, appeared on Sunday in the St. Cloud Times.

Now, stories of saints. Mindy's dad passed to the Other Side years ago:
Just recently I was in a terrible dream in which I was in a woods, lost and hungry. I was crying. Suddenly, quite serenely, my dad walked out of the woods, wearing the khaki pants and flannel shirt I remember him wearing. He held out his arms and hugged me. Then we walked into an adjacent room and we danced. It happened to be Father's Day eve! I woke up happy and nothing that day could have changed my happy, calm, peaceful mood, even though the weather was dreary. It's given me pause to think about him and feel his love for me in strong ways I never felt before.
Death is the threshold connecting this material world with the immaterial, spiritual world. About three months after her father’s death, Faye was sitting on her couch, grieving his passing, and thinking, “How can we go on? All the ways he helped us—what will happen now?”

A bright light enveloped her, not like the shining sun, but pulsing. It was beautiful and she immediately felt her dad’s presence. Without hearing words, she felt the message, “All will be well. You are strong.”

She sent a message in return, “We love you. Goodbye.” And it was goodbye. Nothing similar  happened again. She knows that this, not his funeral, was the real goodbye.

Cindy contributed her story for my blog:
Mom was very ill with breast cancer and died November 2005. She knew she was dying but wanted absolutely no one to know about it, including her doctor. She dealt with it all alone and in silence. Before Mom died she had some visitors. She told me these stories ten days before she died, and they are shocking to all of us. She said she was lying in bed when Dad, who had died in 1994, lay down next to her.

"Did he say anything?” I asked. “What did you do?"
"He didn't talk, he just lay there. I didn't talk to him either. I just worried about what I was going to make him for breakfast. I had nothing in the house."

Another time she was in bed and at the foot of it stood her father with a very young child. They smiled at her and left. She said he really was there, but she didn't know who the child was. She thought it was a girl because the child was wearing a white long dress. My cousin assured me it was no girl. She is more into the paranormal than I, someone I need to introduce you to someday. She said she was sure Pa brought Mom's older brother to meet her. This almost-two-year-old had died from some childhood disease.

Bob’s mom was an immigrant. Approaching her room in ER, he heard her having a conversation in her childhood language, but when he got to the room, no one was there but she. Several times during the last weeks of her life, she communicated with her deceased sister and other relatives. Asked how that could happen, she said, “They come to me,” and added, “I do not have a fear of death.”

Her doctor said many patients are able to cross over before their bodies finally let go of this life. On one of those last days, Mom saw a shining golden light with angels inside it. “Do you not see that?” she asked.

Bob tried many medical avenues to save her life, and she fought to stay alive for him and his wife. But then he heard her praying to be taken. Two weeks before she died, he had a fruitful conversation with her and said, “It’s OK to go.” His wife noticed that she seemed more at peace after that—her face had lost its anxious look. When she passed, her face became a visage of joy.

Hospice workers tell people to give their loved ones permission to leave, and there are many stories of dying persons waiting until they have that permission, then dying in peace.

One more story, this one by professional writer Linda Marie, after the loss of a valued friend:
It was July and we were planning a get-together for several mutual “city” friends to be held on my deck. I talked to Coleen one morning, firming up the details, and that night she was gone.
One day the next spring, I was leaning on the railing of my deck, just sort of reflecting on the lake and life and nature.
I looked down and saw a turtle climbing out of the lake onto the sand. It was the first one I had seen that year. Thoughts of Coleen, her massive turtle collection and her unusual intrigue for the shelled species came immediately to mind.
The turtle, just a few feet in front of me, stayed very still, with its neck stretched farther out of its shell than I could recall ever seeing, and it was turned directly toward me for—oh—for a very long time . . .
I never tire of stories like these, often told after the death of a loved one. To me they liberate spiritual reality from institutional religion and materialist science.
Although I love them, real encounters fill some people with dread. This must be the reason Halloween evolved with its spooky ghosts and goblins. I enjoy giving candy to the kids at my door, but I wish our secular culture would take seriously the real evidence of the immaterial, spiritual realm.

You can find these and other stories under "Paranormal" in my blog index.


Saturday, September 23, 2017

Illicit but valid

It sounds like an oxymoron. Catholic officials used it to deny facts.

Vern is a musician for Catholic womenpriest Masses whose enthusiastic support of women’s ordination led to this email exchange. It followed a forum after Mass with our Mary Magdalene, First Apostle community.
We chatted about the phrase, “sacramentally valid but illicit.” And I think I remember you mentioning that the phrase was not said by any "authority" of the "regular" Roman Catholic Church. You went further to say the regular authority will not even discuss it.
I was wrong in saying the official Church does not apply the phrase to womenpriests, but right in saying the official Church does not allow womenpriests to administer sacraments.  In other words, womenpriests who say Mass, baptize, officiate at marriages and the like, make it really happen (it’s valid) but they're not allowed to do so.

They are like other priests not authorized to act as priests. One example is a friend of mine, an immigrant from India who is a married priest.  He and his wife have come to several Mary Magdalene, First Apostle events.
I remember back in the 1990s Pope John Paul II even ordered discussion [about womenpriests] not only to stop, but also not be brought up in the first place. His decree was most likely, but not exclusively, the result of the story of Ludmila of Czechoslovakia becoming globally public after the fall of USSR Communism.
Why did Vern remember Ludmila? He is a descendent of Czech immigrants. I went to Google to refresh my memory.

Ludmila Javorová was the first modern woman Catholic priest. She was secretly ordained in 1970 by a male Roman Catholic bishop in the underground Czech Church during communism’s oppressive rule of Czechoslovakia. When Soviet domination ended and Ludmila Javorová’s ordination was revealed, the Vatican refused to accept it. “Illicit but valid,” said a Czech archbishop. He based his ruling on Canon Law.
Could you tell me who and from where that phrase first came from?
I am so happy having places like MMFA for me to come and "rest" my questioning self.
Thanks for your help. St. Mary Magdalene Prayers to you always, Vern 
Vern’s modesty is remarkable. I don’t know when Canon Law first used this ridiculously rationalistic distinction, and I have to admit that Vern was more knowledgeable about the subject than I was. He led me to researching it.
Something tells me I heard that phrase, “illicit by valid,” or something like it came up when all the clergy abuse surfaced. There was a question about the validity of the Sacrament of Eucharist when Mass was conducted by a priest who abused. 
The validity question also came up in talk about the priest himself confessing, being forgiven, and then continuing to say Mass. There was also the question of an abusive priest hearing confession of his victim(s) and the confessions being valid.
Vern had deliberated on “illicit but valid” more deeply than I had.
I am impatient with the legalistic distinctions, and I'd guess Pope Francis would agree with me that the Church should instead reach out with compassion and mercy to all people who cry out for care. The insistence on official permission violates both conscience and common sense.

Vern agreed that insisting on permission violates conscience and common sense.
 Thank you, Vern, for caring so much. 



Monday, September 4, 2017

Mind over Matter

A few days ago, I was in an office at the doctor’s getting a referral appointment set up, when our conversation turned to a common phenomenon. The appointment secretary said it often happens to her. She’ll think about someone she hasn’t thought about for a while, and right then that person calls. We agreed that it’s uncanny and science can’t explain it. Her gift appears in more striking ways. She thinks of some event happening, and then it does.

“I bet you don’t talk about this to just anyone,” I said.

“Some people don’t like to hear about it,” she said, “but I think it’s pretty neat.”
I think her gift points to many phenomena that cannot be explained by the physical sciences. It makes scientists who deny the existence of non-physical reality so uncomfortable that they dismiss the phenomena or come up with wildly-improbable explanations in pursuit of anything to avoid admitting that spiritual reality exists.

But they cannot dismiss evidence from their own experiments.

It is hard to give an accurate sense of just how shocked physicists are by the implications of quantum mechanics, say physicists Bruce Rosenblum and Fred Kuttner in Quantum Enigma. They write,
For many physicists, this mystery, the quantum enigma, is best not talked about. It displays physics’ encounter with consciousness. It’s the skeleton in our closet.
When I first learned of the observer’s role in wave/particle experiments, I was flabbergasted too. Immediately I saw the spiritual implication, which apparently disturbs physicists. A colleague of Rosenblum and Kuttner objected to their teaching of the enigma.
[P]resenting this material to nonscientists is the intellectual equivalent of allowing children to play with loaded guns.
I probably am the kind of person that scientist worried about because I find evidence for non-physical or spiritual reality in this enigma that Einstein called “spooky.”

Unlike experimentation on other scientific theories, quantum experiments always—in 100% of cases—yield the same result. Stated in nonscientific terms, whether a thing is a wave or a particle depends on the decision of the experimenter. The material result—whether wave or particle—is produced by the scientist’s choice. The scientist's thought process, his or her consciousness, causes the outcome.

Scientists who are scientific materialists hate this because it apparently says that non-physical reality determines physical reality. They insist there is no non-physical or spiritual reality. I don’t see how they can skirt this conclusion: Spiritual reality not only exists, it is paramount.

Many physicists try to avoid the issue and just ignore the “Spooky Interactions” by pursuing practical applications of quantum mechanics in technology. Rosenblum and Kuttner write,
One-third of our economy involves products based on quantum mechanics.
But physics’ encounter with consciousness demands the attention of theoretical physicists, and the quantum enigma, say Rosenblum and Kuttner, “depends crucially on free will.” They quote this materialist position:
"You," your joys and sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.
Why should cells and molecules give rise to our sense of identity and free will? The authors of Quantum Enigma ask this and add,
. . . no mere account of physical process will tell us why experience arises.
They quote J.A Hobson:
Those of us with common sense are amazed at the resistance put up by psychologists, physiologists, and philosophers to the obvious reality of free will.
What follows from accepting our spiritual consciousness may be even spookier, but I have become comfortable with it. I have come to believe we create our own reality. The way this plays out is complicated. 

It’s not as easy as doing right instead of wrong, because each of us is part of the collective consciousness, which contains many, many layers of thought from multitudes who created the reality we were born into. And each of us has hidden beliefs, attitudes, expectations, and so on in our consciousness that influence our decisions. Understanding ourselves takes work.
 If you are fascinated by the debate between scientific materialists and people who accept the reality of the Inner Realm, you can get more of it by clicking on posts under Scientific Materialism” in my blog index. And this article by an esteemed scientist may intrigue you.  


Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Hysterical & thought-provoking



This video made me laugh so hard that my body ached. 
Besides laughs, it conveys the absurdity of  literal religious belief.

I hasten to add that the humor comes at the expense of a religious sister. 
She does not portray nuns accurately. 
Take it from me. I am acquainted with many, many sisters. 
They're not preachy. 

But enjoy the fun for the point about literal religious beliefs.


Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Power of Thought


My Spiritual Atheist Friend,    July 27, 2017

I’m coming off a satisfying discussion with a thoughtful atheist friend I’ll call Ben. We’ve known each other for about 30 years but hadn’t seen each other since he moved to take a position far away. We kept communicating. Finally he returned to central Minnesota to visit me and others. What draws us together? We both are in thrall to metaphysical questions.

I do not know a person with more integrity than my atheist friend Ben; I don’t know anyone more principled. I also like him because he and I agree on everything except the biggest questions of existence. We agree on politics and on much about religion.

The morning before our talk, I submitted a letter to National Catholic Reporter in response to a trial Eucharistic Prayer that its author says reflects “the quantum-cosmological-developmental-evolutionary worldview” of today. Its topic was a fitting introduction to the discussion of metaphysical matters that Ben and I had later in the day.

The morning after our pleasant and scintillating talk, I woke up before 4:00 a.m. a little dizzy from a whoosh of thoughts coming in quick succession. Dozens of times I turned on the bedside lamp to write them down. Always I had to turn the light off for the next thought to surface.  Interesting, that it took darkness for them to show themselves.

This fact is not irrelevant to the issue crowding my mind, the Inner Realm, which likes to show itself in unobtrusive, hidden ways. Parker Palmer says it’s like looking for wild animals. You have to wait quietly in the woods a while before they show themselves. Darkness and my letting go allowed more messages from that Inner Realm to show themselves.

After talks with Ben, my mind teems with points I want to make in debating him. I hope he would agree that ours is a relationship of mutual respect.

He has moved past the place where atheists I know and read—Ben an exception—stay stuck, railing against institutional religion. Many atheists seem to think the sins of religion prove there is no God. But the wrongs of institutional religions—their stupidity, hypocrisy, corruption, and so on—prove nothing about what's called "God."

It also is pointless to stop at saying, "I don't believe in God," because the question is this: What idea of God do you not believe in?  When they profess disbelief, atheists argue against the least elevated God-concept coming from religion. That dumb idea booted me out of religion into the lap of atheism years ago.

No religion owns what is called “God.” It does not take orders from the pope or anyone else.

I admit I also rail at institutional religion, specifically its sexist God-talk. Christian prayers teach Christians to think God is like humans, only more perfect. A speaker on MPR once caught my attention by saying that we can’t say what God is any more than a horse can say what a human mind is.

Male terms for God such as Lord/King/Father/Son-—what I call sexist God-talk because Lady/Mother/Daughter are not accepted—cramp understanding of what is called “God.” Inclusive God-names would broaden understanding. I like these: Source, Creator, Divinity, Spirit, Force, Guide, Love. And mixing up genders, naming the Source both “Mother” and “Father,” would suggest the foolishness of trying to define God.

Ben accepts the fact of consciousness. After all, quantum science makes it irrefutable. But Ben does not interpret consciousness as I do. I see consciousness—our thoughts, beliefs, feelings, attitudes, expectations, and intentions—as evidence of spiritual reality. He doubts there is anything but physical reality.

I take from Teilhard de Chardin the view that there is a within distinct from the without, and Teilhard calls the within “consciousness.” 

Ben used to be sure that the physical brain gives rise to thoughts, that physical stuff creates non-physical stuff. Now that quantum science forces physicists to admit that consciousness creates physical reality on the quantum level, he isn’t so sure. To me, the findings of quantum physics evince our spiritual selves.

All our physical actions flow from our mind activity or consciousness. Our consciousness creates our reality. I find support for my opinion in a book by two physicists. I think Quantum Enigma: Physics Encounters Consciousness by Bruce Rosenblum and Fred Kuttner demonstrates, irrefutably, that consciousness or mind activity creates physical reality. So “Consciousness” is another possible God-name.

Those who share my fascination with these questions are depriving themselves if they don’t study Quantum Enigma. A theologian, Vincent Smiles, recommended the book to me, and an amateur physicist recommended it to Ben, who hasn't read it yet. Because science is not my area of strength, I skip parts that go into torturous (in my view) explanation of how experiments are set up and carried out. “Get to the result!” I say. I’m writing this to encourage others who might be bored or intimidated by science.

When I read Quantum Enigma, when I so much as open the book and reread parts I highlighted, my heart races. It is so exciting!

Science, theology, and philosophy today are moving closer together. They used to repudiate each other; they used to refute each other. Today they converge as science finds evidence for what religions have been pointing to, symbolically, for millennia. The Inner Realm exists in, under, around, and through outer reality.



Mind over Matter, September 4, 2017
A few days ago, I was in an office at the doctor’s getting a referral appointment set up, when our conversation turned to a common phenomenon. The appointment secretary said it often happens to her. She’ll think about someone she hasn’t thought about for a while, and right then that person calls. We agreed that it’s uncanny and science can’t explain it. Her gift appears in more striking ways. She thinks of some event happening, and then it does.

“I bet you don’t talk about this to just anyone,” I said.

“Some people don’t like to hear about it,” she said, “but I think it’s pretty neat.”

I think her gift points to many phenomena that cannot be explained by the physical sciences. It makes scientists who deny the existence of non-physical reality so uncomfortable that they dismiss the phenomena or come up with wildly-improbable explanations in pursuit of anything to avoid admitting that spiritual reality exists.

But they cannot dismiss evidence from their own experiments.

It is hard to give an accurate sense of just how shocked physicists are by the implications of quantum mechanics, say physicists Bruce Rosenblum and Fred Kuttner in Quantum Enigma. They write,
For many physicists, this mystery, the quantum enigma, is best not talked about. It displays physics’ encounter with consciousness. It’s the skeleton in our closet.
When I first learned of the observer’s role in wave/particle experiments, I was flabbergasted too. Immediately I saw the spiritual implication, which apparently disturbs physicists. A colleague of Rosenblum and Kuttner objected to their teaching of the enigma.
[P]resenting this material to nonscientists is the intellectual equivalent of allowing children to play with loaded guns.
I probably am the kind of person that scientist worried about because I find evidence for non-physical or spiritual reality in this enigma that Einstein called “spooky.”

Unlike experimentation on other scientific theories, quantum experiments always—in 100% of cases—yield the same result. Stated in nonscientific terms, whether a thing is a wave or a particle depends on the decision of the experimenter. The material result—whether wave or particle—is produced by the scientist’s choice. The scientist's thought process, his or her consciousness, causes the outcome.

Scientists who are scientific materialists hate this because it apparently says that non-physical reality determines physical reality. They insist there is no non-physical or spiritual reality. I don’t see how they can skirt this conclusion: Spiritual reality not only exists, it is paramount.

Many physicists try to avoid the issue and just ignore the “Spooky Interactions” by pursuing practical applications of quantum mechanics in technology. Rosenblum and Kuttner write, "One-third of our economy involves products based on quantum mechanics."

Physics’ encounter with consciousness demands the attention of theoretical physicists, and the quantum enigma, say Rosenblum and Kuttner, “depends crucially on free will.” They quote this materialist position:
"You," your joys and sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.
Why should cells and molecules give rise to our sense of identity and free will? The authors of Quantum Enigma ask this and add,
. . . no mere account of physical process will tell us why experience arises.
They quote J.A Hobson:
Those of us with common sense are amazed at the resistance put up by psychologists, physiologists, and philosophers to the obvious reality of free will.
What follows from accepting our spiritual consciousness may be even spookier, but I have become comfortable with it. I have come to believe we create our own reality. The way this plays out is complicated.

It’s not as easy as doing right instead of wrong, because each of us is part of the collective consciousness, which contains many, many layers of thought from multitudes who created the reality we were born into. And each of us has hidden beliefs, attitudes, expectations, and so on in our consciousness that influence our decisions. Understanding ourselves takes work.

If you are fascinated by the debate between scientific materialists and people who accept the reality of the Inner Realm, you can get more of it by clicking on posts under Scientific Materialism” in my blog index. And this article by an esteemed scientist may intrigue you.


The Power of Thoughts,       August 22, 2017


When I’m working in the kitchen, I’m always listening to MPR/NPR. My attention waxes and wanes, depending on the fare. One day I focused sharply on the radio when I detected the talk of a scientific materialist. Quickly I grabbed paper and pen and wrote down the words of the neuroscientist:
All of our behavior comes from our brain. It’s a matter of chemistry, not character.
I believe the opposite. Our brains are the physical counterpart of our minds. They merely register what’s happening in our thoughts. When the patterns of our thoughts change, our brains change. 
Cells and molecules in our brains do not control our behavior. Our thoughts do. 
But what hidden thoughts are directing my life? That’s the question. Do I believe that I’m safer with people who look like me? That poverty is more virtuous than wealth? That struggles are holier than success? That I should always prefer others to myself?

We are not aware of everything in our consciousness. Hidden beliefs control us.

I first encountered this idea of hidden consciousness decades ago and have been working with it ever since. It helped me to see defeating patterns in my life. “Oh no, not that again!” I’d think when the same challenge would occur with different people. Well, a pattern in my consciousness was attracting that pattern to my outer life.

When I became aware of the patterns and beliefs pulling those experiences into my life, I could change outcomes with my thoughts. Easy to say, not easy to do, but over time I have made surprising improvements in my life. I keep working on changing the mental patterns that kept me sick and poor for much of my life.

I believe our total consciousness creates our reality—our beliefs, expectations, feelings, attitudes, and intentions. Becoming aware of and harnessing them gives us enormous power. The neuroscientist who believes our brains control our lives is mistaken. Not our physical matter, but our non-physical mental activity, directs our lives.


Chris said...      HI Jeanette,
        Surely you realize that the argument for the claim that quantum mechanics proves idealism is just as questionable as the argument for intelligent design? The vast majority of scientist do not accept either.

Also, as I have said before, your belief that pantheistic philosophies are more intelligent or scientific than classical theism is nothing more than a confessionnal bias. You would do well to re-consider the Angelic Doctor's doctrine of analogy. It would pretty much dispel your objection of too much anthropomorphism in traditional Christianity.

Chris said...       Hi Jeanette,
         As you know, I am certainly not a metaphysical naturalist. But, I'm curious, are you familiar with the debate between Sam Harris and Deepak Chopra? Harris pretty much makes handy work of Chopra's defense of idealism.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

One-room Public/Catholic School

I haven’t blogged because I’m working on my memoir. Asking for input on rural schools in Stearns County, I received this wonderful description by Bernadette Weber, OSB.
It will delight some; it might dismay others.
Here is just a snapshot of my grade school life.
Attending District 125 Public Country School was a rich experience.
 Being among 50 students in 8 grades with one teacher helped us be creative in using our time.
When in the lower and middle grades, I would listen to the interesting classes of the upper grades.
      We had wardrobes to keep our coats etc. (one for the boys and one for the girls).
When I finished my assigned work, I got to take the first graders for reading class in the wordrobe. Although I wasn’t aware of it, that was my first practice teaching.
 We also had a library, so could spend time reading books.

    In our school all the students and the teacher were Catholic. When I think about it, we were like a parochial school. We had a crucifix in the classroom and had Bible History classes twice a week and The Baltimore Catechism the other three days.
     We probably got more religion than parochial school students. We also went to religion classes on Saturdays.
On Sundays the pastor would ask catechism questions from the pulpit.

We got to participate at the county fair. I remember being in the exclamatory contest. There were also spelling bees.

     Recess time we usually played with our classmates.  The classes had their sections of the playground in which to play their choice of games.
Of course, anyone who could play ball did so. The pump for our drinking water was in the way when we played, so we had to be careful. My sister, knocked out a tooth bumping into the pump.

At the end of the school term we had a picnic. It wasn’t just food. We also had races of every kind: running races, sack races, high jumping., stilt walking.
Name it, we did it. We got our exercise at recess, at picnics and walking to school. My home was 2 ½ miles from school. Think of it: a first grader walking 5 miles a day.

Since we were in school with brothers and sisters, we never tattled. Anyway, with my parents the teacher was always right. Respect for authority was upheld.
We didn’t call it a wardrobe. We called it “the cloakroom.” I was pretty old before I figured out why it was called that. I went to the village school, not a one-room school, but this describes the culture of my childhood. Our school stood next to the church, priest’s house, and parish cemetery. We ate lunch in the parish hall.

Nora Luetmer, OSB, wrote a master’s thesis entitled, “The History of Catholic Education in the Diocese of St. Cloud: 1855-1965.” It shows that public schools in the county were treated like parochial schools. During my school days—in the 1950s—it changed.

During my primary grades, the priest came into school to teach catechism. By my seventh and eighth grades, the public school changed from just acting Catholic to becoming legally a Catholic parochial school funded by the parish. Some parishioners couldn’t understand why they should pay taxes for education twice.