Monday, October 28, 2013


I feel like most of the people of the Gospel story who are invited to the King’s banquet.  I’ve a field to buy, or a friend or relative to bury.  I’d like to remain steadfast behind the plowshare of peacemaking, but human concerns constantly deflect.  What do we do when we see clearly what is right and what is wrong, but live among so few that see the same thing, admit to it, and do something about it?  What is the clear path to salvation for a whole society?  How can change of heart, mind and action be accomplished-- together?  Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.  To board the ark again seems such sad surrender for a remnant that is promised its faith can move mountains.
  Noah Releases the Dove - by Chagall
There is hope—we are taught to pray with these words. "Thy Kingdom come thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."  In the recent Syria situation our spirituality helped us dodge the bullet of escalated violence.  Pope Francis led the world in a vigil of prayer, fasting, and the word of the Gospel, to turn away from war, toward the nonviolent way of Jesus.  The U. S. didn’t attack Syria.  {This enraged our erstwhile oil allies, the Saudis, because of their Sunni vs. Shia battle across the whole region.}  From an offhand remark of Secretary of State Kerry, to a proposal batted back by Russia—it was then agreed by Syria, its chemical weapons could be destroyed.

Pope Francis Leads Prayer Vigil mass in St. Peters Square for Peace in Syria on September 7, 2013--AFP-Getty Images
Worldwide prayers were answered.  Inscrutable God’s designs, but this deeper war averted, a blessing that could be welcomed by both liberal and conservative Americans.  How do we now deepen this faith in Jesus’ nonviolent love, which does save the world and solve its problems?

In our Port Huron area, we invite you be part of this upcoming course.
A series of monthly teachings, provided by Holy Trinity Adult Faith Formation and Pax Christi
Second Thursday of each month
 Starting Nov 14th, 7 pm in the Thomas Merton Library at St. Stephens Center
Music / prayer, to begin and end each session
First session
November 14 – The problem of Syria: A practical way of prayer-study-action peacemaking
·         The current example of Pope Francis – a review by Michael McCarthy of media coverage
·         The statements and teaching of the modern era Popes, from Pope John XXIII to the present—a slide presentation by Deacon Dennis Crimmins
·         Time for discussion and prayer—handouts for further study and prayer

The Pharisee and the Publican -- Lk 18:9-14
Syrian refugees fleeing the violence in their country make their way to a refugee camp in the Jordanian city of Mafraq July 31, 2012
In all our efforts, on all sides of political questions we must heed scripture’s admonition.  This Sunday’s Gospel {Lk 18:9-14} ends with the words, “Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”  How are we to take this in the land where U.S. “exceptionalism” is insisted on, and proclaimed to all the world?  We’re Number 1!  We must pray for wisdom, and remember these other words of the Gospel as the holy days of Christmas approach.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
 and has lifted up the lowly.
 He has filled the hungry with good things,
 and the rich he has sent away empty.   Lk 1:46-55
                From Mary’s “Magnificat”, as she is expecting the birth of her baby Jesus Our Savior.

The Visitation by Weninger



Monday, October 14, 2013


The 1318 transnational corporations that form the core of the economy. Superconnected companies are red, very connected companies are yellow.--The size of the dot represents revenue
Last week I said I’d recommend something that could be done by every individual concerned about the political - financial direction of our country.  This involves transferring your personal banking from the five big national banks to a local bank or credit union.  It does take time and investigation.  For my wife and I, changing banks from Chase to Eastern Michigan, and dropping a Bank of America managed credit card, was a project of three months, not always easy but good for the soul.

There are many good local places to put your money, so that it is somewhat less likely to be used for irresponsible large investor/speculator leverage schemes, and more likely to do some good in our community.  This may seem like a drop in the bucket, our middle class monies, but it sends a message, is morally consistent with conservative values, and cumulatively could change some of the moral harm big money does in our nation.   It’s a national campaign, “Move your Money”—we are not alone in our discomfort, and our hope.   Explain to the Big Banks why your no longer giving them your business.

What are the risks of continuing down the same path of fiscal fireworks preferred by the Big Money movers?   Right now, our Congress, representing those guys, threatens “we the people” with one more disastrous fiscal cliff after another.

The Big Banks and their bankers, and the financial high rollers, continue to make news, as the country heads towards threatened bankruptcy.  An October 4th Wall Street Journal headline tells the story, More Than 5,000 Stockbrokers From Expelled Firms Still Selling Securities”.  Business as usual for Wall Street investment banking firms--which did terrible damage to middle class Americans’ savings, in the speculations leading to the banker’s being given government bailout in 2008.

The major financial corporations continue to thwart responsible regulation to stay in the international game of winner-take-all speculations.   They don’t want to be hobbled by the U.S. government in their pursuit of super riches.  Profit is their most important product—there is never enough.  Some digress from this path—“Enough” is good short book by John Bogle, grandfatherly founder of Vanguard funds.  Some, such as Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, begin to look for better ways to use some of their money.
The rich will find it hard to get into heaven riding their heavy laden camels, according to the Gospel.  The rich play by different rules that give them all the best on earth.  But the Good News says that turnabout is fair play for the rich and poor.  That turnabout is virtually guaranteed by Jesus in his story of the beggar Lazarus and Dives {Latin for “rich”}, and in the many times he says “woe” to those who hold on to too much wealth, and His description of the Last Judgment, in Matthew 25 .  The first will be last.  Death leads to eternal life.

Lazarus at the gate of the Rich Man
Apathy in the face of relievable human misery is radical evil.  -- Fr. E.C. McCarthy
Illumination by Kathy Brahney

More good sources ---

"Wall Street owns the country. It is no longer a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, but a government of Wall Street, by Wall Street, and for Wall Street."   – Mary Elizabeth Lease – Populist orator of the 1890’s      Recurrent problem, prophetic vision.
The 147 Companies That Control Everything – Forbes Magazine article 10-22-11   "Each of these 147 own interlocking stakes of one another and together they control 40% of the wealth in the network [the world’s total corporately held wealth]."
The Top Fifty of these Corporate Owners - from same article - the vast majority, banks and financial holding companies.
1. Barclays plc
 2. Capital Group Companies Inc
 3. FMR Corporation
 4. AXA
 5. State Street Corporation
 6. JP Morgan Chase & Co
 7. Legal & General Group plc
 8. Vanguard Group Inc
 9. UBS AG
 10. Merrill Lynch & Co Inc
 11. Wellington Management Co LLP
 12. Deutsche Bank AG
 13. Franklin Resources Inc
 14. Credit Suisse Group
 15. Walton Enterprises LLC (holding company for Wal-Mart heirs)
 16. Bank of New York Mellon Corp
 17. Natixis
 18. Goldman Sachs Group Inc
 19. T Rowe Price Group Inc
 20. Legg Mason Inc

"An analysis of the relationships between 43,000 transnational corporations has identified a relatively small group of companies, mainly banks, with disproportionate power over the global economy."

As for the private wealth holders --

"Forbes list of wealthiest Americans shows America's rich have more wealth than ever"


Monday, October 7, 2013


Children received medical care in the northern city of Dohuk after a suicide bombing on a school playground killed 13 in the Shiite village of Qabak, Iraq,-    Safin Hamed Agence France-Presse-Getty Images
Every day in Iraq, Syria, so many places, the innocents die--weapons provided by international arms merchants--of whom the USA  is # 1.
The coffins of the unborn and the war dead—unnecessary—are draped around our every move as a country. We are a nation of violence expediency.  If it seems to work to our gross benefit, we do it, damn the dead, especially if they’d lived offshore, or in womb out-of-sight, and the millstones gather about our neck.
Violence does not stay in the confines of its designated spot, but spreads its bloody stain outward, a blot on all aspects of society.  A sociopathic epidemic.
Our best efforts are doomed by chronic dis-respect for life.  Each individual life has become superfluous in our grand realpolitik equations.  Life suffers in the economy where the scales of justice have been replaced by a balance that always favors the profit to be made.
Why can’t we help stem the tide of death in Syria?  Because we dynamited the dam in its neighbor Iraq, hoping only oil would overflow.  Why can’t we give our children a college education full of critical thinking possibility, not saddled with debt?  [Because of wasted dollars blown on war.]  Because first they must shoulder a gun in defense of international corporations--as they become consumers of a casual sexuality that provides for abortion disposal of any untoward children that might be the natural result.   Both enterprises accept the death of innocents as legal tender.   Our young people are left holding bags of despair. 
War.   Abortion.  Critical thinking?  Moral responsibility?
And powerful financial interests continue to laugh all the way to the bank—with a record student debt {good graphs} in hand.   More on what we can do about Big Banks next week.  See “move your money” for starters.
Respect for life in the USA is only a PR campaign, unless it becomes a deeply held conviction that lasts from conception, through full life, till natural death.  It’s all gift from God, not to be tampered with.   There must be consistent rejection of violence in our embracing the right to life.  War will never end till abortion ends.  Abortion will never end till war ends.  Justified violence only disembowels respect for life, and efforts for peace.  Faith—belief in the living promise of Jesus, that eternal life conquers all death—is the only healing remedy.
“Each of the issues I have identified today—abortion, war, hunger and human rights, euthanasia and capital punishment—is treated as a separate, self-contained topic in our public life. Each is distinct, but an ad hoc approach to each one fails to illustrate how our choices in one area can affect our decisions in other areas. There must be a public attitude of respect for all of life, if public actions are to respect it in concrete cases.”   from lecture-- A Consistent Ethic of Life: Continuing the Dialogue,  Cardinal Joseph Benardin, March 11, 1984 -- its a "seamless garment"

We owe our whole church, especially our young people, this consistency.
Eileen Egan, who helped found Pax Christi USA, died on this day, Oct 7, 2000.  She first talked of a seamless garment, as she was a leader, advocating for conscientious objection to war, nuclear disarmament, and right to life, within our church.
Link references in order --