Monday, June 24, 2013

No writing today -- Our 35th wedding anniversary!

Ande & Mike June 24, 1978 --potluck reception in her parent's backyard

Monday, June 17, 2013


Iraqi father and child at Abu Graib --early in Iraq War
A gentlemanly member of our church choir and I exchanged Father’s Day greetings yesterday before mass, and he then asked me the originator of the national holiday in the USA {he knew I’d not guess}—President Richard Nixon.  A leading proponent of the Vietnam War had promoted this day honoring fathers.
Yet war is history’s leading quick cause of orphans and widows—most injurious to fathers.  What deep dichotomy.   We want to honor, but instead, through the institutions of violence, we destroy.  Our heroes are our warriors, but this traditionally male work of war ends inevitably in suffering and loss to our families at home, and in the foreign lands where we fight.

A series of bombings in Shiite-majority areas of Iraq killed at least 30 people on Sunday-- A blast in Najaf struck a produce market---Haider Alaa-Reuters

The Father’s Day, 6-16-13, New York Times reported, “Dozens of Casualties in String of Attacks Across Iraq.”   If you read the international news, articles like this appear almost daily.  Nearly 2,000 Iraqis have been killed since April, according to the Interior Ministry, making it the country’s most violent period since 2008.”  We left Iraq a little over a year ago, saying our job was done.  A probable million people died violent deaths there in our decade of Iraq War.  Nobody ever counted {a most reliable count was ignored, and this less than half way through the war}.  Hundreds of thousands of fathers? 

ow we are poised to replicate the fight which made Iraq a failed state, in Syria.  Already 90,000 have died there, our headlines proclaim, as an attempt is made to ready the U.S. public [this link changed by NYT on 6-18-13, found similar article to original] to go to war again.  The enemy Sunnis of Saddam that we chased out of Iraq [where we helped install a Shiite government], we now employ covertly to attack the Shiite government of Syria.  We continue to stir the pot of ancient animosities.

The international forces that trust only in guns and bombs to solve conflict, have turned the nonviolent change of Arab Spring, back into an Arab Fall of death-dealing weapons.  A string of hollow victories for violence—Iraq, Afghanistan, Gaza, Bahrain, Libya, Mali, now Syria.  How many fathers, mothers, and their children must die?
Yesterday I sat in my backyard garden with two of the fathers I’ve known longest and respect most.  We talked of our beliefs, of our wives, of our children—our success and failures as fathers.  We each have different perspectives, but we gave common voice to the hope that our children, and their generation worldwide, will be given the grace of so much greater opportunity for eye-opening service and creative work—peacemaking, the final remedy for war. 

Illumination by Kathy Brahney



Monday, June 10, 2013


If you think about it, it’s hard to live “big” under an impenetrable military shield—shut out from meaningful contact with the rest of humanity.  If you don’t think about it, it doesn’t seem to matter.  We can continue to live our privileged garrisoned lives, cut off, sheltered from, a whole world of wisdom.

Embracing the Gospel nonviolent truth, solves every political and spirtual problem, heals all society’s wounds.  Lord, that we may see with both eyes, walk with both legs, use all our faculties to fully exercise our faith.  Nothing protects us from death, except eternal life—given us in accepting the saving all-merciful love of Jesus, for friend and enemy alike.
 The Good Shepherd can bring back even the lost 1% into the fold
Why throw this away by tying ever-tightly instead, the heavy millstone around the neck, that is Homeland Security?

Photo from over-the-top website on DHS preparations to control U.S. populace
Hopefully this is not our question for God on judgment day, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and not give you to eat, thirsty and not give you to drink…..?    Mt 25: 44  This article points to government spying on our citizens as an increased problem post-911, and the long term dilemma—how much do we want to shackle / isolate ourselves to preserve supposed freedom?

“The two-year investigation found that the centers [a Dept. of Homeland Security program] had failed to help disrupt a single terrorist plot, even as they spent hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars and infringed on civil liberties.”

The cover of Senator Coburn's actual report  uses the Lego toys motif

Monday, June 3, 2013


Recently there have been articles in our local press that complain our fair city has become a destination point for those seeking supportive social services.  Our city manager cited “liberal social programs in the city” as one of the three biggest problems that drag us down.  It’s implied that those who just want a low income welfare life are encouraged to make Port Huron their home, because so much is done for them here.  A social worker in Sault Ste. Marie sends an alcoholic on a bus Port Huron bound, because those caught in the welfare social strata have it so good in our town?  Could it be that this woman had family here also?  What’s the rest of her story?

Perhaps, as a few reported anecdotes have suggested, some people do move here because we take care of those in need.  We certainly have many programs, agencies, people and churches that readily give a helping hand.  I know a great number of community volunteers involved in various aspects of this effort.    But people at loose ends tend to move most to where they have friends and family.  Many volunteers elsewhere also work to serve the poor and relieve poverty--in Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor, Detroit, and throughout the state.  We are not unique, and we are not a poverty magnet.

he skyrocketing poverty rate--up to 26%--we’ve experienced, is not because we invite it, or certain people like to wallow in it, but because our community, even more than many across the state, has been battered by withering job loss.  Since my family moved here [from Sanilac Co.] in 1993 to work in the medical community, there has been a constant stream of factories shuttering, closing up shop, or moving south to Mexico, the sunbelt and overseas—to where bigger profits could be made.  The number one cause of our poverty is job loss.
Words of Pope Paul VI  -- And if you want true progress, work for justice

ur poor are primarily our own people, who used to have jobs with a livable wage.   We’re not a dumping ground for the poor. We’re a Blue Water skeleton crew abandoned by manufacturers who’ve jumped ship for greener cash horizons.  I’d like to see an account of how many have lost jobs in our town in the past 40 years, how many jobs have taken their place, and how smaller or larger their pay scale.  There must be plenty of workers who moved from here when their jobs died, and not finding any elsewhere, have returned.  Do we call this an influx of the poor?

Yes, we have too much rental [instead of resident owned] housing.  Yes, our schools are stressed.  Yes homelessness, joblessness, and poverty are big problems in Port Huron.  Let’s not respond by becoming tight-fisted.   Taking money away from heating system repairs in two of our homeless shelters is not a sign of Port Huron progress.  Our good history of generosity towards those in need is the Gospel way to achieve a better way of life for the community as a whole.

Port Huron should be proud to be called a beacon of hope for the poor.  The hope is that we will again become a powerhouse of creative work and resourcefulness--and that those with the power and wealth will also see the light, share the investment.  We are one of the fresh water capitols of the world.  Our unique geographic location and abundant natural resources gives us a history of being one of the most inventive areas in the nation—cars, boats and homes—and a breadbasket of agriculture as well.  It will happen again, if we maintain and nourish a spirit of generosity and ingenuity.
Photo by Dawn Dasharion --Port Huron

What makes you think I want all your sacrifices?" says the LORD. "I am sick of your burnt offerings [of excess $ money] of rams and the fat of fattened cattle.  Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.   Isaiah I: 11, 17


Illuminations by Kathy Brahney