Showing posts from 2019

Like immigrants today

A New York Times article threw national attention onto anti-Muslim hostility in St. Cloud, Minnesota. Besides sadness and embarrassment here, it generated an ongoing debate in the St. Cloud Times between supporters of immigrants and persons opposed. I wrote in a Your Turn article for the St. Cloud Times:
I am sad that I saw German names signed on letters angry at the Times for encouraging hospitality to Somali immigrants. . . . Stearns County is known for its heavy concentration of German-Catholics—my people. I’d like to be proud of them. I noted striking parallels in today’s anti-immigrant feeling to facts I found in writing Beyond Parochial Faith: A Catholic Confesses.

German-Catholic families fled poverty and violence in Europe as Somalis flee al-Shabaab in Somalia and Hispanics flee violent gangs in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. In the 19th century, my great-great grandparents living in the poorest region of Germany …

Beyond Parochial Faith

My memoir, Beyond Parochial Faith: A Catholic Confessesis now available at
Six years ago, a woman rang my doorbell and said she walked a mile to tell me that my book, God Is Not Three Guys in the Sky: Cherishing Christianity without Its Exclusive Claims, had a profound effect on her. Its subversion of common Christian belief seemed undeniable but left her bereft. She asked me to write a sequel for persons like herself who wonder, “If not Christianity, then what?”
Beyond Parochial Faith offers some answers. My fire-of-purification story traces my evolving views of religions and spirituality, culminating in faith I call “secular.” It weaves together strands of my life—alcoholic husband and mid-life meltdown, judgmental siblings and prudish aunts, Carl Jung and Father-Son myth, the Goddess and the historical Jesus, lord-gods and sexual abuse, atheists and naïve seminarians, Teilhard de Chardin and quantum theory, Benedictines and …

Intrigued by 4th Gospel

JFK & Mary Magdalene, May 10, 2019

John F. Kennedy won the Pulitzer Prize for Profiles in Courage. The book deserved the honor but not the purported author. Kennedy did conceive the idea and some of the content, but he did none of the research or writing. Most of that was done by Theodore Sorenson, whom Kennedy called his “research assistant.” Sorenson is the one who gave the book its “drama and flow,” according to historian Herbert Parmet. Ted Sorenson was essentially the ghostwriter of Profiles in Courage

I see a parallel in the gospel I call the “Fourth Gospel” instead of the “Gospel of John.” Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John do not really name authors of the gospels. Each of these gospel names, for various reasons, developed while the gospels were being passed around. They became convenient tags for identifying and discussing the gospels, but they are not the authors’ names.

“John” was thought to be the only real name of the Fourth Gospel, because John is named at the beginning…

Church hypocrisy

Again I offer an excuse for not writing here more often. I've been preoccupied with getting my memoir ready for publication. That consumes my writing energy--how many hours it takes amazes me--but I keep up with my usual reading of magazines and newspapers. For Catholic news, National Catholic Reporter is tops. The latest NCR turns my attention to the following.

Officials in the Church finally are responding to outside pressure and removing the cloak of secrecy hiding their sexual misdeeds. German Cardinal Reinhard Marx admitted that Church files documenting sexual crimes were destroyed or never created. Victims' rights were "trampled underfoot."

The word "hypocrisy" now is heard in official  mea culpas.
An excerpt from a new book,In the Closet of  the Vatican, contains facts that surprised me, despite decades of reading about sex abuse in the Church. I thought I had a pretty good idea of what was going on. I didn't.

Author Frédéric Martel spent four ye…

Epiphany (revealing moment)

When I was growing up, Catholics believed that Epiphany celebrates three kings who visited Jesus in the manger. Today the word epiphany is more pregnant with meaning. Various definitions of epiphany show its intangible quality—flash, insight, inspiration, realization. Epiphanies are sudden flashes of awakening to the inner realm.

To illustrate, I am re-posting a story I wrote about in this space before.
In Fingerprints of God, Barbara Bradley Hagerty never speaks the word “epiphany” but that’s what she writes about,  reluctantly. She was a little embarrassed, “spooked,” to find herself experiencing transcendence.

An NPR correspondent, Hagerty explores whether science can find physical evidence of God in her book, Fingerprints of God: The Search for the Science of Spirituality. She wanted to know,
Does brain activity reflect encounters with a spiritual dimension?  I’m glad she used terms like “spiritual dimension,” “transcendence” and “spiritual reality” and never reduced God to a huma…