Showing posts from 2017


On the winter solstice I think about its meaning for our northern climate when the sun rarely companions us. The brooding darkness naturally directs us inward, not a bad thing. This darkest time of the year also begins the ascent to ever more sunshine. It's lovely to anticipate that. Christmas descends from pagan traditions that celebrated the rebirth of the sun on this day. In the third century, Christian leaders borrowed from them the idea of honoring the birth of the sun with a feast. What evolved was Christmas. Calendar adjustments threw its date off kilter. Christians call this the Paschal Mystery—death giving birth to new life. May new life grow in peace initiatives in our country and around the world. Blessed Solstice and Christmas and New Year to all.

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 S

The Other Side 3

All Hallows Eve,  October 31, 2017 Stories like these are in the memoir: 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 dan

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. 'Sacramentally valid but illicit" applies to women priests. Church hierarchy admits that women priests 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 (it's illicit). There also are ordained male priests not authorized to act as priests. One example is a friend of mine, an immigrant from India who is a married priest.  He a

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.

The Power of Thought

The memoir I'm working on contains some of these ideas. 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 t

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 opposite of poverty isn’t wealth. The opposite of poverty is justice. ( Karma Tube ) . . . hundreds of people in hoodies, heavy coats, and wool blankets braced against the wind. . . . dentists arriving from five states were getting ready to fix the teeth of the first 1,000 people in line. . . . better-off Americans spend over $1 billion each year just to make their teeth a few shades whiter. Millions of others rely on charity clinics and hospital ERs to treat painful and neglected teeth. Unable to afford expensive root canals and crowns, many simply have them pulled. . . . . . . She looked at some of the others who had come here, despite working for a living cutting down trees, building homes, minding a town library, running small businesses. “We are not staying home, not sleeping and living off the government,” she said. She tried not to look at the 51-year-old truck driver lying next to her who’d had three teeth pulled, his mouth stuffed with gauze. . . . [She said]

Women Priests Ordained

May 9, 2017 Two more priests for the Catholic Church, which laments its shortage of priests, were ordained on Sunday, May 7, in a beautifully uplifting ceremony ( more about this next time ). Rosemarie Henzler and Maria Annoni would be happy to relieve the severe shortage of priests, but bullheaded, stubborn sexism will not allow it. Some prominent Catholic women do not support ordination for women because they think it endorses clericalism. Sandra Schneiders is one, as the previous post indicates. When she spoke at Newman Center in St. Cloud, she made fun of women being ordained by likening them to goldfish devoured by sharks. But the notion that ordained women are subsumed by or unwittingly endorse clericalism was invalidated on Sunday by newly-ordained Rose Henzler. She kindly granted me permission to publish her tribute to her mother. My mother modeled for me how to persist against injustice in all forms but especially in my church—how to speak truth to power. As she w

Did God have a wife?

A provocative series is airing on PBS: “Bible’s Buried Secrets.” The most subversive segment, “Did God have a wife?” (video) captured the most attention from me. I wondered whether it would spill intoxicating information I have garnered over years of doing feminist research.     “Did God have a wife?” did not seem feminist to me during most of the hour, although its female scholar, Dr. Francesca Stavrakopoulou, reaches for provocation. Her main point is that common perceptions about the Bible and God as taught by the Judaeo/Christian tradition are upended by archaeological finds. They show that Hebrew ancestors of the Jews did not practice monotheism. Jews also did not invent monotheism, but that point was less clear in the documentary. For hundreds of thousands of years, what is called God was a woman. She had many different names, but She was not rivaled by males. They were her consorts, not her superiors. The Great Mother gave life, and what we would call “genealogies” cent

The Chalice and the Blade—and Trump

December 30, 2016   New Year hope despite chaos Since the election I have been veering back and forth between fighting despair and being the one to console others near despair. I counted ten Trump appointments of persons apparently committed to destroying the departments they should manage. They threaten justice, labor, money policies, environment, education, energy, commerce, housing, and health care. We are on the cusp of change coming from chaos. I fear the center cannot hold. William Butler Yeats, a poet of yesteryear, has a poem for our time: Turning and turning in the widening gyre The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere The ceremony of innocence is drowned; The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity. Looking for hope, I had a talk with a mentor/friend of mine who would hesitate to call her