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Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Observation - August 5th, 2020, Wednesday

The scent of garlic and curry the apartment

I made a pot of lentils

For the first time in weeks the air conditioner is silent

The windows are open for a cross breeze

A dappled light comes in through the east windows

Filtered through the green leaves

Kitty is complaining about the taste of medicine in her food

The dry and dusty chondroitin that helps her with her joints

Tuesday, August 4, 2020


Brambles and a nest of thorns

I listen to the wind

To lullabies in discord  

Broken scales and promises

Minor keys, a child’s song

Of love unrequited

And nettles, tickling my heart

The god in my belly, laughing

Hungry and restless with thirst  

Monday, August 3, 2020

Alexander Solzhenitsyn – Author, Nobel Laureate

Solzhenitsyn is the greatest Russian author of all time, even greater than the master Dostoyevsky, and believe me when I say it, this is not a trifling estimation.

I first encountered his classic novella, A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich when I was in my late teens. It was just a little book, it could be read in an afternoon, but it was heavy and it was deep.

In my early twenties I was still heavily involved with reading other parts of the Russian cannon and I was slow to get to Solzhenitsyn’s other writings, like the famous Gulag Archipelago for which he won the Nobel Prize in Literature, when I came to it, I found it life changing.

Solzhenitsyn thought of the Archipelago as more of an exercise in journalism than literature, he was surprised by how well it was received, though he should not have been because its principle achievement, was to personalize the gulag experience which he was able to do because he himself had been a victim of it.

He put a human face on all of that collected suffering which touched the lives of every citizen of Russia and the Soviet Union, in one way or another.

Solzhenitsyn was born in Russia, in 1918 just after the Bolshevik Revolution. He served in the Russian Army during World War II. In 1944 he was decorated for valor in combat, and Awarded the Order of the Red Star, but in 1945 he arrested for saying derogatory things about the government in his personal letters to a friend, after which he spent eight years in the gulags.

Surviving World War II and the Russian gulags is itself a heroic feat, and his status as a Nobel Laureate is another thing that marks him as a person of significance, but what makes Solzhenitsyn a hero is his insight into human nature and his profound ability to communicate that insight through the power of prose.

In my late twenties and early thirties I began to read other books by him, October 1914, and The First Circle. I was awed by the way in which he could present the myriad of forces; sociatal, intellectual, spiritual and emotional that comprise an individual’s motivations, and shape their intentions, he portrayed the movement of those currents in a way that made poetry out of the lives of characters…even the most ordinary lives, even the most heinous and cruel, and because he was so adept at humanizing the characters in his novels, he allowed his reader to expand their own view of the world so that it included his, and the reader is made a better person for having read him.

Given First - 2020.08.03

Sunday, August 2, 2020

A Homily - The Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 144(145):8-9, 15-18 ©
Second Reading – Romans 8:35, 37-39 ©
Gospel Acclamation – Luke 19:38, 2:14
Alternative Acclamation – Matthew 4:4
The Gospel According to Matthew 14:13-21 ©


The Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

The covenant God made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the covenant God made with Moses,  Joshua and David, the covenant God made the prophets and with Jesus and is meant to a blessing on all people, wherever they are, because God is with them as God is with you even when you feel lost and alone.

God promises to deliver everyone to a state of blessedness, even the stranger and the sinner.

God works God’s will through grace, this is the way Jesus instructed us, this is the way to the fruits of paradise.

Consider the words of the psalmist and know that he is mistaken, God is not a king.

God is the creator of the universe, God is present in all times and places; God is there in the deepest places of the human heart but does not intervene directly in human events.

God only issues an indirect influence in our lives. God’s power does not interfere with our freedom.

Contemplate the vast power of God and contemplate the ways of God’s love and mercy, take it for yourself and identify with it, passing through the narrow arch and into the way of goodness and justice and mercy.

Consider the words of the apostle, everything he says is true, but it is true for all people, not just for Christians and Jews.

It is true for everyone.

Nothing can come between us and the love of Christ; not one thing, either from within or from without.

Jesus loves us.

Remember this, God is not a lord. The creator of the universe does not wear a crown.

As Christians we are called on to set aside grandiose notions of glory as we struggle on the way toward salvation. We are called on to follow Jesus and seek out the lowest of the low, not the highest heaven, seeking to serve those in the deepest dark, returning them to the light of love.

If we live merely to eat we are no different than the beasts of the field and the forest, merely following our noses and the hunger in our bellies, ruled by thirst and subject to the vicissitudes of desire.

We can be more than that, we were made to be more than that, we are meant to look beyond ourselves and to be drawn out of ourselves to see in our neighbors another-self and the divine spark that unites us spiritually, that we may be transcendent in following the way.

Consider the Gospel for today and the feeding of the multitude.

The miracle of the loaves and fishes is a metaphor, read it carefully.

The feeding of the multitude may have happened, though it is just as likely that the narrative is pure myth. The truth of it does not matter, what matters is the way in which the metaphor supports and endorses a principle of communal living and sharing.

The disciples were concerned for Jesus, they wanted to separate him from the crowds, and separate the crowds from his ministry.

Jesus would not have it.

The disciples as is typical of them, argued for the wrong thing, they wanted to send everyone away, put them on their own, have them fend for themselves.

This is not the way.

Jesus did not rebuke them, as he often did when they erred like this. He simply showed them the way.

Jesus took all that they had and shared it with the multitude, the crowds saw his generosity and shared of what they had, everyone contributed according to the rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you, love your neighbor as yourself, serve God by serving the other.

Together they generated a superabundance of food, more than enough to feed everyone, and the lesson ended there, with no magic and no miracles, with simple generosity and love.

First Reading – Isaiah 55:1-3 ©

Come and Eat

Thus says the Lord:

Oh, come to the water all you who are thirsty; though you have no money, come!

Buy corn without money, and eat, and, at no cost, wine and milk.

Why spend money on what is not bread, your wages on what fails to satisfy?

Listen, listen to me, and you will have good things to eat and rich food to enjoy.

Pay attention, come to me; listen, and your soul will live.

With you I will make an everlasting covenant out of the favours promised to David.

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 144(145):8-9, 15-18 ©

You open wide your hand, O Lord; you grant our desires.

The Lord is kind and full of compassion,
  slow to anger, abounding in love.
How good is the Lord to all,
  compassionate to all his creatures.

You open wide your hand, O Lord; you grant our desires.

The eyes of all creatures look to you
  and you give them their food in due time.
You open wide your hand,
  grant the desires of all who live.

You open wide your hand, O Lord; you grant our desires.

The Lord is just in all his ways
  and loving in all his deeds.
He is close to all who call him,
  who call on him from their hearts.

You open wide your hand, O Lord; you grant our desires.

No Created Thing Can Ever Come Between Us and the Love of God Made Visible in Christ

Nothing can come between us and the love of Christ, even if we are troubled or worried, or being persecuted, or lacking food or clothes, or being threatened or even attacked. These are the trials through which we triumph, by the power of him who loved us.

For I am certain of this: neither death nor life, no angel, no prince, nothing that exists, nothing still to come, not any power, or height or depth, nor any created thing, can ever come between us and the love of God made visible in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia!

Blessings on the King who comes, in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven and glory in the highest heavens!


Alternative Acclamation – Matthew 4:4

Alleluia, alleluia!

Man does not live on bread alone,
but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.


The Gospel According to Matthew 14:13-21 ©

The Feeding of the Five Thousand

When Jesus received the news of John the Baptist’s death he withdrew by boat to a lonely place where they could be by themselves. But the people heard of this and, leaving the towns, went after him on foot. So as he stepped ashore he saw a large crowd; and he took pity on them and healed their sick.

When evening came, the disciples went to him and said, ‘This is a lonely place, and the time has slipped by; so send the people away, and they can go to the villages to buy themselves some food.’ Jesus replied, ‘There is no need for them to go: give them something to eat yourselves.’ But they answered ‘All we have with us is five loaves and two fish.’ ‘Bring them here to me’ he said. He gave orders that the people were to sit down on the grass; then he took the five loaves and the two fish, raised his eyes to heaven and said the blessing. And breaking the loaves handed them to his disciples who gave them to the crowds. They all ate as much as they wanted, and they collected the scraps remaining; twelve baskets full. Those who ate numbered about five thousand men, to say nothing of women and children.

The Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Vote III - Editorial, The Week in Review

Analysis, Commentary, Opinion

Vote     III

The talk continues about how Donald Trump will refuse to concede the presidency when he loses the election on November 3rd. In the past week he became the first president ever to suggest that we delay the election.

He is spreading lies about the process of mail in voting, fear mongering and worse. His own attorney general echoed Donald Trump’s sentiments in his testimony before congress without offering any proof, or even the rudiments of an actual argument support by statistics of any kind.

Donald Trump and his minions are simply making assertions, counterfactual statements, lies to make their point.

Donald Trump cannot delay the election, do not follow the bright shiny object or be distracted by that prospect. Focus on what is really happening: voter disinformation, voter intimidation, voter suppression, and other malfeasance.

The most important thing we can do is vote, everyone must vote! 

Do not forget to vote. Do not forget to register. Do not forget to vote.

Double check your registration status and vote.

If you are voting by mail then get your ballot early, mail it back early or drop it off at a collection center in person.

Check and double check the date you write on your ballot, and your signature. If the Secretary of State in the state where you live sends you any correspondence, read it, follow up on it, and be on the look out for bogus mailings coming from supposed election officer who do not belong to a recognizable public office.

It had been discovered that Donald Trump and the Trump Administration are interfering with the United States Post Office, a newly appointed Post Master General, a trump supporter and campaign contributor just took office and has implemented measures to slow down the mail.

They do not want the Post Office to facilitate Trump’s electoral defeat.

This cannot stand. Postal employees should refuse to cooperate with these measures. Do your patriotic duty and process the mail.

Do more, prepare yourself with knowledge; we need a massive public education campaign, we need a crash course in civics. There is an electoral process that must play out, it is different from state to state, but every citizen should take the time to become familiar with the rules, the laws that govern your voting rights in each and every local.

Let’s not be confused, Donald Trump will lose the popular vote, and he will lose in the electoral college. Nevertheless, between now and then there will be a massive disinformation campaign trying to scare you into not voting, trying to convince you that your vote doesn’t matter, or that your vote is illegitimate. The orange tyrant and his republican cronies will attempt to invalidate your vote; we cannot let them

Wherever republicans have the authority they will purge voter roles, close polling stations, make it more difficult to vote; our duty is to be undeterred, to insist on our rights, to cast our votes, and to have our votes counted.

Familiarize yourself with the laws that govern voting where you cast your vote.

Over the last two week we discussed the voting rights act of 1965, which was designed to enforce the rights guaranteed in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, and the laws that govern elections at the federal level.

Last week we discussed the statutes that govern voting in my home state of Minnesota.

In the weeks leading up to the election we will look at the statutes that govern voting in key battleground States.

Knowledge is power, arm yourself with it.

Hold your government accountable!