Monday, December 27, 2010


Mr. David Gillis is a former chairperson of the St. Clair County Republican Party. During the near decade of the Bush administration, he regularly represented well that party line, which I am firmly opposed to. Please see his Times Herald column,

and then my response which will soon appear on that same opinion page. I don't feel direct discourse between columnists is productive, but this time—an exceptional convergence.

Etching by Fritz Eichenberg

David Gillis and I rarely agree on the politics of the day, but Christmas Day brings us together. In his Dec 22, 2010 column he follows clearly the light of the Christmas star, "The true Christmas story is one that speaks of peace on Earth—the peace of knowing that Christ has come." Amen. A tremendous gift of God to an undeserving world, the gift of the Word made flesh. [John 3:16] Mr. Gillis also queries, "Perhaps we need to ask ourselves what the word 'peace' really means." He follows with a short litany which reminded me of a reading from the Christian monk, Thomas Merton. Ande & I had this similar and challenging list as part of our wedding ceremony in 1978.

"To some people peace merely means the liberty to exploit other people without fear of retaliation or interference. To others peace means the freedom to rob others without interruption. To still others it means the leisure to devour the goods of the earth without being compelled to interrupt their pleasures to feed those whom their greed is starving. And to practically everybody peace simply means the absence of any physical violence that might cast a shadow over lives devoted to the satisfaction of their animal appetites for comfort and pleasure."

Merton goes on to say that the [cold] war of his time [he died in 1968] was a result of being focused on a peace derived only from meeting one's own personal needs—communist or democratic.
e concludes with the challenge to brotherly and sisterly love that Christ's birth brings us. "So instead of loving what you think is peace, love other people and love God above all. And instead of hating the people you think are warmakers, hate the appetites and the disorder in your own soul, which are the causes of war. If you love peace, then hate injustice, hate tyranny, hate greed—but hate these things in yourself, not in another."

There approaches a time of new year's resolutions. Thank you David Gillis for reminding us of our place, as the ones gifted by God, in this holy season. I'd recommend for reflection on our future path, Chapter 16, "The Root of War is Fear" in Thomas Merton's New Seeds of Contemplation, from which the above quotes come. Also timely in its challenge, is his Peace in the Post Christian Era. His hope was that our society could find its way, to again truly follow the words and deeds of the Savior, Son of God, Prince of Peace, laid in a manger on Christmas Day.

Adoration of the Magi -- by Fra Angelico

Illuminations by Kathy Brahney

Sunday, December 19, 2010


"Oil from BP PLC's blown-out well has lodged in the sediment of the Gulf of Mexico at levels that may threaten marine life, according to a federal report released Friday." Thus begins a WSJ 12-18-10 article. On the same day our Times Herald prints an AP report, "Coast Guard: Little oil found on sea floor," that starts out, "Federal scientists said Friday extensive sampling of the Gulf of Mexico seafloor found oil in quantities too small to collect and in concentrations below harmful levels, …"

The second article runs 9 paragraphs in the Times Herald. If the concluding 9 paragraphs [from a Washington Post full rendition] had been printed, you'd find this, as part of the rest of the Coast Guard story. "Ian R. MacDonald, an oceanographer at Florida State University, said a recent submarine dive found what appeared to be lots of oil and dead animals on the sea floor at a spot very close to where the government [Coast Guard study] said it barely found any oil. We went to the same place and saw a lot of oil," MacDonald said. "In our samples, we found abundant dead animals. It points out that different people - trained scientists - can get different answers." And different newspapers, divergent emphasis. Giving the benefit of the doubt, our local paper has ever shrinking news space, and full articles are hard to fit in. To complicate matters, the WSJ article does not mention the Coast Guard.

BP Oil on Gulf Floor Draws Concern
Coast Guard: Little oil found on sea floor
The Port Huron Times Herald AP article is the same as this, but excerpted only the first 9 of 18 paragraphs.
These are either easily confused reports released the same day, or different interpretations of the same report. The stories are both worth reading for an idea of the complexity of issues created by the world's biggest oil spill. This one greater than 170 million gallons, while Exxon Valdez was 11 million. Both stories seem to agree that there's not as much oil on the deep sea floor [n.b. oil less dense than water, rises to surface], and that the greater problem is removal of tar & residue imbedded in the Gulf shore sands.
A worker cleaned tar balls from a Waveland, Miss. beach, Dec. 6. Getty images. WSJ 12-18-10

The WSJ also poses the unknown effect of 1.7 million gallons of chemical dispersant dumped into the Gulf to make the spill disappear. Their authors conclude with an almost certain probability—
"The report leaves unanswered many questions about the spill's environmental impact that scientists are likely to be researching—and BP and the government are likely to be fighting over—for years."

And keep in mind the role played by Halliburton, the Texas oil field service company, turned Iraq war promoter, whose defective well sealant cement contributed mightily to this deep sea oil rig disaster. * What does it profit a company if it gains partial control of a geopolitical military machine, but in the process, takes its eye off the ball and can't do its core job properly, spoiling the beaches in its own backyard?

First Gulf War


To get to the bottom of the murky media situation I've sent this letter to the editor/lead writer of the WSJ story. I'll let you know if clarification arrives by email.

Dear Editor Jeffery Ball,

How is the federal report you cite in "BP Oil on Gulf Floor Draws Concern," related to the one also released Friday, reported on by Cain Burdeau of AP, "Coast Guard: Little oil found on sea floor" which appeared in our local paper yesterday, Dec. 18th. Contrasting visions of same report, or different reports? The U.S. Coast Guard is not mentioned in your article.

Thanks for keeping this issue of long term eco-damage in the public view.
Yours truly,
Michael McCarthy PA-C, Port Huron, MI

An ever different "Gloria" -- Artwork by Kathy Brahney

Monday, December 13, 2010


Feral pigs have been roaming the Texas countryside for centuries. But now they're moving into town, and causing damage to properties all over the Dallas-Fort Worth area. WSJ 12-2-10

The Wall street Journal article of Dec. 2, 2010 grabbed my attention, "Texas Calls in the Law in Its Beef With Feral Porkers." 1

In Irving, Texas and other Dallas suburbs— "The police officer is on feral-pig patrol, charged with fighting back the stout, smart, snouted invaders that are tearing up flower beds and street medians in search of roots and grubs. One evening recently, they dined at—and trashed—the parking lot of a Verizon office building. Wild pigs, descendants of animals brought by the Spanish conquistadors, have foraged in Texas for centuries and have long been a pest on ranches. But as cities and suburbs swallow up more land, they are becoming an urban nuisance as well."

When visiting the migrant families I'd met in Michigan, back in their Texas homes in the early 70's, javelinas, wild pigs, were famous in divergent ways. Many folks hunted them for meat, though they were huge, smart, and dangerous. Also, their Spanish name had a long history as the mascot/title of the traditionally toughest, meanest football team in southwest Big 12, Texas A & M, located all over central south TX, including the Dallas - Ft. Worth area.

Images of mascot from Texas A&M football website

May 18, 2008: VP's of Exxon, BP, Chevron, Conoco Phillips [R to L] testify before Congress on exorbitant gas prices

Irving Texas, home of Exxon Mobil, plagued by feral pigs! What poetic justice, esp. if they are managing to break into the gated communities of the top executives who've ruined our economy by being pigs in the international oil market--rooting around for cash in Iraq, Wall St., etc. Two million wild pigs in Texas. And how many multi-millionaires? Maybe Tom Delay, ex-stongman of Texas & US Senates, while still a free man, can muster a posse to round 'em all up, convert his hammer skills into making them behave. Even teach them about sharing the wealth, keeping pigs & people in their proper ecological non-gerrymandered places--all interested in the common good.

Here comes Christmas to the rescue! The Savior was born in a stable, amidst the sheep and oxen---and pigs. Make peace in Iraq, Afghanistan, Africa, Middle East. Make peace you wild petroleum pigs. The Prince of Peace will welcome you out of the gated border patrolled community, through the eye of the needle, into the merciful Kingdom prepared for all people.


More south central Texas history.
Not now to reach this height again. Kept at below 45ft. Go to p. 12 for summary of Texas A&M bonfire disaster 1999. Stack was about at 60 ft. tall, having been reduced from record of 109 ft. in 1969. Twelve students were killed when it collapsed, not long after photo below was taken.
Make ready for the Christ

Whose smile like lightening,

sets free

the song of everlasting glory

that now sleeps in your

paper flesh -- like dynamite!

-- Thomas Merton


Monday, December 6, 2010


Fritz Eichenberg--Christmas 1954

At the end of last week's, I mentioned a prayer--here it is.

Hope for Advent 2010
Prayer To Live Mercifully

O God,
Teach me
Not to envy,
to hate,
to justify,
to imitate,
to support,
to ennoble,
or to kill for,
Those who take the food from the table of others and then teach contentment,
Those for whom the taxes are destined, who demand sacrifice,
Those who eat their fill, who speak to the hungry of good times to come,
Those who lead humanity into the abyss, calling
Hate, love,
Unfaithfulness, faithfulness,
Lies, truth,
Slavery, freedom,
Too much, not enough,
Homicide, heroism,
Evil, good.
And, O God,
Teach me
when I have food, to remember the hungry;
when I have work, to remember the jobless;
when I have a home, to remember the homeless;
when I am free, to remember the imprisoned,
when I am without pain, to remember the suffering,
when I am loved, to remember the unloved,
when I am living, to remember the dying,
when I am dead, to remember the living.
And remembering, help me to destroy
my complacency; bestir my compassion, and thereby
spend my time and my eternity
doing good upon earth, helping
by word and deed, by prayer and sacrifice of self
those who cry out
for what I take for granted.
Amen. ---Fr. Emmanuel Charles McCarthy

In this holy season of Advent, our corner of the world is extremely unprepared for the birth of the Savior born in a stable. Jesus' birthday is expected to help Wall Street and Wal-Mart, but He will not be looked for in a cave in Palestine, nor be heralded as the one to cast down the mighty from their thrones, and exalt the lowly. Lk 1:52

Its not that the mighty and lowly, are in permanent conflict and disdain, they just don't know each other. According to the Wall Street Journal, the wealth gap in America is greater than at any time since the roaring days that led into the Great Depression. This great divide is not good for any of us.

"I realize in Christian practice today, Advent for most is nowhere near as relevant and as important as Christmas shopping."—Fr. Emmanuel Charles McCarthy

uring my college summers I worked and lived in the migrant farm labor camps around Capac, MI as part of a Our Lady of Mount Carmel church project. The experience of these living conditions, and Mexican-American hospitality, have changed my middle class life forever for the better. After college at Cristo Rey Community Center in Lansing MI, while organizing for farmworker and welfare rights, I found myself partnering with national Vista volunteers who were from families of New York Times columnists and Hollywood insiders.

Cross -- Art from El Salvador

The rich were meeting the poor and serving each other's needs for change. Today we should re-double this national service, across-the-gap cooperation. A local group, Opportunities for Community & National Service, is being formed to promote this. Call 810 982 2870 to help.

ere in our increasingly poor Port Huron area we are blessed with so many, in church and community, who generously pursue this Gospel truth--that it is in giving of ourselves that we receive.

Let the Magi meet the shepherds at the manger in Bethlehem, take to heart the Savior's good tidngs of great joy, and together lead out from there, to make a more perfect interdependent world.

Illuminations by Kathy Brahney