Wednesday, April 27, 2011


his Easter Sunday my wife and I sang in Sr. Gloria’s choir. It was again a most beautiful celebration of new life—Christ risen from the dead. More wonderful than ever was to see this truth in the bright smiles of your children, and children’s children bouncing back at you across the pews.

Sam, always the most persistent squirmer of our four kids at mass, was now holding up his 3 ½ year old Carly so she could better hear and see. She was certainly impressed at how grand her Tuesday babysitters looked in choir gowns. Well above the crowd with eyes beaming with pride and smile ear to ear she gave grandpa & grandma a thumbs up full of her white bows, golden bangs and yellow print dress. Her smiles echoed through other choir members, and we tried not to, as we both sang a special Easter Sequence story of the tomb found empty—death conquered forever by nonviolent love and mercy. “O praise the Lamb.” The unexpected King. May this reign extend far and wide.
Just before, Carly’s one year old sister Addy, in matching yellow print & white bows, had been clapping in time to “let us rejoice” lyrics of the Psalm. This pleasantness then alternated with bouts of fussiness that sent Sam & Kristin at various point to the outer edges of church with her. They are both making the commitment to share faith with their children, and it warms us heart and soul. Our oldest daughter Maura, very busy with a start-up business that takes her coast to coast, had been able at last minute to come home, and came to Holy Trinity early to save a place for brother Sam & family as they bustled into town from Flint.
We were blessed by a pew full of our family’s growing faith in front of us, and our parish community round about us. Only missing at that moment were our two Manhattan daughters--may the Lord bless and keep them.

In Sam’s early college years he and I often crossed swords. As issues continued to clash, he’d sometimes say, “Dad, when I get married I want to take my kids to church.” I wondered. Then at his own pace he made the good decisions that led to this very place.

At end of service it seemed like everyone in the church was resplendent. The sun broke through the clouds outside—new life. And next week we are to celebrate Sam’s graduation from a CRNA master’s level nurse anesthetist program at MSU. He’s worked towards this goal steadily for almost 8 years, from an orderly caring for bodily needs of the old folks, to responsible for life breath in the operating room. I felt a prompting inside—here came scripture, and a wellspring of respect for him. As Sam and Kristin gathered their kids to leave midst the greetings of our church friends. I took his shoulder gently in hand, and said aside to him clearly, “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.” He simply smiled, beyond all possible misconceptions, “Thanks Dad.”
Sam Addy Kristin Maura Ande Carly
Easter bonnets provided by Kay Jurgens, Photo by MM
Illumination by Kathy Brahney
Happy Easter--Earth Day 2011--May Resurrection Confirm us in Healing the Planet

Monday, April 18, 2011


In this Lent to Easter season of death and resurrection we should make a personal and national examination of conscience on how we’ve spent the Ten Talents given America. [This year Passion Sunday falls the day before Tax Day.] A never ending succession of wars has plagued and employed us since the last World War. Have we tried to resolve conflicts, or have we enkindled them? Have we put our federal income tax dollars to productive use, or destructive military purposes? Has the financial industry that oversees all our enterprises and war involvements worked for the common good, or enthroned the greed of personal gain as lord on high?

Wars of less and less necessity culminated in the invasion of Iraq. Our litany of political/financial problems escalates uncontrollably now on our entering the so called War on Terror—a war with no end in sight, perpetuating the business of war. War has become our most important product. We seem chained to its mechanisms of power and profits, and insensate to the terrible damage it causes. We argue whether we can afford our own government healthcare, as people in other countries are blown apart by our investment in war. Our budget battles are already lost because the financial leaders that back up the war industry are frontline sentries in all congressional skirmishes. Our balance of trade is toppled in an emphasis on weapons exports.

During the opening salvos in the War on Terror, President Bush encouraged us to go out and spend money. We’d just lost our shirts in Wall Street’s burst internet bubble, the Enron debacle, and almost simultaneous destruction of the Trade Towers by Saudi terrorists. Where was this spending money to come from? We were encouraged to dig deep into credit cards, and our already over-inflated home equity. In the years from 2000 to 2003 mortgages and re-mortgages increased four-fold! 1 Common folks were fooled and headed towards foreclosure. The big banks broke their fiduciary contract with America, ate up everyone’s equity and devalued mom & pop retirement funds. [For some blow by blow accounts see 1 and 2 below.]

Their clever hocus-pocus speculations nearly bankrupt us all in 2008. The financial marketplace fell apart. They then pleaded “too big to fail” {instead of contrition} demanded a government bailout {in place of penance} and continued their wayward ways, awarding themselves record bonuses a year later. Political leadership in league with speculative bankers, and the mythology that there is no cost to wars fought off-budget, have put the whole country into the giant budget hole in which we now find ourselves.

What remedy can there be for this spiritual & fiscal malaise? Greed must be recognized as the other potent hidden hand in the marketplace. Greed must be named the sin, and socially dysfunctional crippling force, that it is. There is a concept in law, and Christian morality, of restitution. Those, esp. at Wall St. level, who’ve profited any more than inflation from their investments in this past decade of unjust wars, and dual burst financial bubbles, should seriously consider giving back to society their gains, ill-gotten or not. [See below for some of the practical political measures being developed to address our dollars & war national deficit problems. 3, 4, 5 ]

For the rest of us, if we admit to some of these apparent failings, what has been our complicity in all of this? Take a good look at complacency, apathy. Most of us in our own ways have experienced these, here in the land of the Ten Talents. No more burying gold futures in the ground--crying Lord, Lord, or surfing web & cable TV--while the bombs we build fall on peasant villages, and our abortion machines continue to extinguish unwanted lives.

t will take a whole nation of contrite and re-committed individuals working together for the common good to turn this bottomless pit war economy into a peace-full productive economy. Confession and restitution is good for the soul. It will take shared sacrifice and not be easy, but in this Holy Week we are assured, by our Creator who sent His Son to die for us, that through sacrifice, even death, there is new life. The miracle of Resurrection! A new life in God’s nonviolent merciful love is the new covenant. This makes even a peace-directed, compassionate, balanced national budget possible.

1 “ Inside job “ [DVD]. Available at local library.
[United States] : Sony Pictures Classics, 2011.
Subjects • Documentary.
Summary: An analysis of the global financial crisis of 2008, which, at a cost of over $20 trillion, caused millions of people to lose their jobs and homes in the worst recession since the Great Depression, and nearly resulted in a global financial collapse. Through exhaustive research and extensive interviews with key financial insiders, politicians, journalists, and academics, traced is the rise of a rogue industry which has corrupted politics, regulation, and academia. Narrated by Matt Damon.

2 The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis (Hardcover - Mar 15, 2010) {Available at local library and Amazon}
3 Some hope on the horizon—for a common sense national budget. U. S. Congressional Progressive Caucus --80 Members; FY 2012 Budget Proposal§iontree=5,70

Bring back the local bankers invested in their communities. Banish the international CEO bankers, who claim the rights of individual citizens for their mega-corporations, so that their money can control our political institutions.
"But woe to you rich for your consolation is now." Lk 6:24
"I repeat what I said: it is easier for a camel to pass through a needle's eye than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." Mt: 19:24

Illumination by Kathy Brahney

Sunday, April 10, 2011


From John 9:1-41 -- Jesus heals the blind man. The authorities are displeased, and dissemble.

We’d come to sing at a United Church [largest Canadian protestant denomination] in Toronto. My wife Ande’s friend since senior year high school is pastor there. Her church is small, historic, unassuming and welcoming. She and her husband invited us for the weekend. Both our families have loved and shared music and time together for some 30 years. The church hall coffee house was a good chance to visit again. On arriving at the church in early evening to set up, the day was bright sunny. Along the south wall of the hall had popped up the “little blue flowers” of early spring, that have always reminded Ande of her dad, Leo. A carpet of blue they were in the family home backyard, April 2, 1981 the day he died.

Our practice was a little unsure, and then the show was on--a progression of many performers. The music was fun and all passably good, including ours. And after our short set came a piano player and songstress who’d been chatting with us at our table, friendly folks in their fifties. Their second song was in French. The melody recognized by us as “Autumn Leaves” written a little differently for both languages in 1945—one of Leo’s favorite songs. Thirty years to the day of his passing he is with us again.

Ande’s guitar and my djembe drum had been invited into the energetic multi-instrument church band, and the concert ends with a rousing rock-celtic “Stand by me.”

The next morning the Rev. Debra Schneider gave a courageous sermon in four parts, challenging the blind authorities arrayed against Jesus and the blind man He’s healed. On into the present day, “[Authorities] say we can’t afford to care for our poor, or strengthen our education system, because we need better fighter jets.” And then from the pulpit, connecting both pulpit and pew, “When will we open our eyes to the truths we already know? What will it take to make us find our voices? To whom will we speak those necessary truths that need to be spoken? “ Humbly, forthrightly she urged her flock, to “ruffle some feathers.” [That’s something Leo could do {not always for edification} with little effort.]

Soldiers in Iraq, Mar. 23, 2003, demolishing confiscated weapons—a small part of the worldwide all weapons job necessary. Photo from MSNBC

Music had continued to deepen this Liturgy of the Word. The psalm was sung by a small choir with piano—The 23rd Psalm, The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want. This was a favorite prayer of Ande’s mom, Olive, when she could verbally pray--before dementia stole most responsiveness a few years ago. Ande leaned near to say she’d prayed that psalm for her mom at the nursing home the day before. The music was a beautiful new arrangement we’d not heard before, and the choir director [also energetic band conductor] gave her a copy.

Ande has been visiting her mom every day during Lent and prays that, for her mom---by restful waters He will soon lead her, back to Leo, and the new life, we all seek.
Illuminations by Kathy Brahney

Monday, April 4, 2011


4-3-11 Rueters photo--Demonstrators in Kandahar marched through the streets on Sunday-- 9 shot and killed the day before--the third day of protests against a Koran-burning staged by a Florida pastor. Every day, more senseless killing in Afghanistan, Iraq, etc., at our behest. 1

Democrat, Republican, or Independent, we need a politician who is truly conservative—knows how to conserve the public welfare, not just blow dollars, people, and resources up, in the name of democracy. In reality the liberal use of firepower only protects profits--of a very few, while damaging a great many at home and abroad.

oon approaches April 15. As by Supreme Court ruling our mega-corporations have now become mega-citizens, and can contribute unlimited wealth to our elections campaigns, Tax Day will have to become the common peoples’ voting day. In an open way we must say we will no longer immorally pay for unjust wars and their outlandish windfalls to the war industry. Contribute money with-held from the federal income tax government-supported war businesses, to local and national agencies that truly serve public needs.

God grant us the grace and courage for non-cooperation with evil. Help us convert treasure, into benefit, for all Your children.

We are scandalously over-invested in wealth protectors. [Click on any image to enlarge.]
If one discounts the social security trust funds, leaving the actual discretionary federal budget---

the graph becomes more stark.

Do not lay up for yourselves an earthly treasure. Moths and rust corrode; thieves break in and steal. [No banks, bombs or walls prevent it.] Make it your practice instead to store up heavenly treasure… Remember, where your treasure is, there your heart is also.” Mt 6: 19-21

For more information on war tax resistance / investment for the common good, see


Artwork by Kathy Brahney