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Diary of a Worm’s Life in a Home “Growing Power” Box and Garden

Rain Garden
August 2010

Tomatoes & Basil
from Front Lawn
Garden 2010

Back Yard
Garden 08/02/09

Click below to read any post in full.’‘

Elder Son - Sunday, September 30, 2012


In these postings I have talked a lot about my younger son Peter who suffered from a brain disorder from university days till he committed suicide a few years ago. I have not talked much about my older son David who is a real blessing in our lives. Peter was the prodigal son while David was the responsible son who got a true vocation as a police officer and has built a wonderful family with his wife that has blessed us with our three great grandchildren.

This blessing of our son, David, came home to me again today at the Green Bay Packer football game. At half time my daughter-in-law and I went on a journey to find my son who works the football games as a police officer. Although he is a plain clothes detective for football games he wears his uniform. With the help of some other police officers we finally located him.

If in the picture I look like a proud father I am. David, with hard work, working with his wife has raised three wonderful children and provided them with great opportunities. David is quiet but a true blessing to my wife and me. He is an excellent elder son.


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What Is Justice? - Saturday, September 29, 2012

Seeking Justice?

Justice used to mean for me something we seek to make things right, an act of mercy and compassion. Social Justice meant respect for rights of persons, equality and fair treatment. Now justice seems to mean revenge or punishment. We seek to kill persons or put them in prison in our struggle for justice. The assassination of Osama Bin Laden was called getting justice. Families of crime victims seek justice, which they mean punishment for those committing the crime.

Will the justice of the Bible be lost? Justice meant forgiveness, understanding, lack of discrimination and equality. Now justice means punishment, revenge or retaliation. Will justice go the way of other words like ‘family values’ and by constant repetition in a new context take out a new meaning. A lot of organizations have the word justice in the title. Will “Catholics for Peace and Justice” (CPJ) a local organization now mean Catholics for Peace and retaliation? CPJ today has once more censored from its monthly newsletter without explanation the essays on Catholic Church in North Central Milwaukee, essays about social justice and the Catholic Church. Maybe the change of the word justice has already changed and is beyond redemption.

Seeking justice should not mean seeking punishment or censorship. Seeking justice should mean working for fairness and human rights. What is justice these days?


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Companion Planting and Working Together - Friday, September 28, 2012

Marigolds in front lawn garden

In the front yard garden the tomato vines are dying after a bountiful summer; the basil plants are wilting away having produced lots of basil for spice and pesto; there are no more eggplants to pick; and the hot peppers are near the end. However, the marigold flowers that we planted in early spring around the edges of the garden are flourishing. Soon they will die but like the mums are at their peak.

I knew that marigolds are said to deter some common insects but just discovered tonight that the type of marigolds we planted, Tagetes are for that reason often used in companion planting for tomato, eggplant, chili pepper , the very plants we have in this garden.

companion planting is something I first experience on our Pilgrimage of Peace to India but since have discovered has something known to increase production in many cultures, including Native American culture. Companion plants assist each other in nutrient uptake, pest control, pollination, and other factors necessary to increasing crop productivity.

We humans can learn about companion planting. As they say at Growing Power, “Working Together We Are Growing Power”. Like marigolds and companion planting, we can flourish when working together.


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Flower Vase Beauty - Thursday, September 27, 2012

Flower Vase Today

On March 1, 2012 I put some flowers from my gardens in a vase and planned to keep fresh flowers in the house until Oct. 31st. The flowers have changed but there has always been enough. Actually now there is an abundant of flowers of all types and color and I have a new vase.

Our friend from Church was selling vases in the back of Church a few Sundays ago. They were made by her son who is serving a long prison term at the maximum security prison at Waupun. We were impressed by all of the vases and designs but finally picked one that has painting on it her son created.

I spend a year at Waupun prison in 69–70 for my participation in the Milwaukee 14 action of destroying selective service files. Serving a long sentence there is hard for me to fathom. Serving time is still hard but maybe the act of creating these beautiful vases brings some small relief.

With the new and larger vase I needed to pick more flowers that have longer stems from the gardens. That is no problem these days when the flowers in the gardens are flourishing. I am especially impressed by the marigolds that I planted around the raised vegetable garden in the front yard. Someone told me they were a natural deterrent to keep out bugs from the plant. Now I know they flourish with sun and water which they enjoy being around the garden edge. The tomatoes, eggplants, basil have come and gone in this garden but the marigolds keep on growing.

A perennial fresh flower vase for eight months was a goal that is now coming closer to achievement. The flowers keep on growing and in the vase bring some beauty into the house.


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Blessed Are Poor Sick and Marginalized - Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Blessed One

Today I drove my friend Tom to visit his mother, Arlene, in a nursing home outside of Milwaukee. I met Tom and his mother at our Catholic church in North Central Milwaukee that was closed by the Archdiocese in 2011. Arlene and Tom had been members of St. Nicholas, a popular and prosperous Church that was merged with two other Churches in 1993. Arlene and her late husband had been active members of St. Vincent De Paul Society, serving the poor in need in the area.

When I met Tom and his mother it was when Tom, who has a mental health disorder had returned home to help with his mother who was suffering dementia. Tom feels the full weight of stigma we put on people with brain disorders.

Eventually both had to go separate housing, Arlene to a nursing home specializing in people with dementia and Tom to subsidized housing project on the East Side. The merged church was being closed about the same time.

I have been driving Tom to visit his mother for a long time, every 10 days or so. Usually she shows some sign of recognition, seems aware, mumbles a few words and always laughs when we leave and I play the tickle game she taught me on her.

Today was different. Two staff told us as we were coming in that Arlene had been sick for a few days and was sleeping in her room. Tom called his brother who is his mom’s caregiver and he said he has just been informed this morning of her condition. She has been under hospice care for about a year but was doing so well there was not much to do.. The hospice workers were to come out later today to assess her condition.

Arlene had a cough and was tired something, to a much lesser degree, I have been experiencing for the last month or so. Also my father who suffered from dementia and no longer wanted to live was grateful when we finally took him to a hospice care home. When he got in his room his last words to my brother and I were “Thank You”. He died a few days later peacefully.

I have a cough, feel sick and have a hard time focusing my mind. But I am not dying as Arlene is. I am also getting tired of our effort to get the 1.1 million dollars left from the sale of three Churches back in the area to people in need served by the remaining SVDP conferences. The effort seems to go nowhere. However, when I remember the poor, ill, marginalized I am strengthen in my resolve to do my best. “Blessed are the poor, the sick, marginalized.”


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Cry of Poor Petition - Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Tonight I used my Diary of the Worm posting time to put this statement on the front page of NonviolentCow. Names will come tomorrow. Read and Sign!

We request Archbishop Listecki of Milwaukee dialog on the

Cry of the Poor Petition

We request that the 1.1 million dollars realized from the closing and sale of three Catholic Churches (St. Nicholas, St. Albert, Blessed Trinity/Holy Redeemer) in North Central Milwaukee be used to support vouchers for three St. Vincent De Paul conferences that serve those in need in the area, St. Catherine, All Saints and St. Martin De Pores.

For background information read the three essays in The Catholic Church in North Central Milwaukee, Separate but Unequal,Million Dollar Move St. Vincent De Paul Stalled

To sign the petition or for more information contact


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Apocalyptic Literature of Our Times - Monday, September 24, 2012

Milwaukee 14, September 24,

Today is the 44th anniversary of the Milwaukee 14 when 14 persons removed approximately 10,000 draft files from Milwaukee’s Selective Service office and burned them with home-made napalm. In those days, 1968, nonviolent actions like this one, of many similar, were major events with major media covering it for years. I still feel uncomfortable when someone points out I was a member of the Milwaukee 14.

These days when major nonviolent actions are taken, like recently when an elderly nun and two senior companions closed down a nuclear bomb plant go by unnoticed. I would like a little bit of the media on Milwaukee 14 of the past for the Million Dollar Move of 1.1 million dollars out of North Central Milwaukee by the Catholic archdiocese. But that is not to be.

The Green Bay Packers football team, my team, lost a football game tonight on a bad call by substitute officials. All the media, Twitter and Facebook are all over this game. It will be the talk of media for days and might have some impact of bringing the regular officials back in the game. It is easier to get upset about the Packer’s football game loss than the segregation of Milwaukee neighborhoods or even the damage of war.

Today I finished listening to the second book of the Hunger Games trilogy. I could not understand why these books were so popular among persons of all ages. Now that I have listened to two of them and getting the third from audio books downloads of the library I think I understand. In my opinion this trilogy is similar to what is called Apocalyptic literature biblical writing that talks about the suffering and repression of the present but talking about a future with hope and when all would improve. I think people relate so well to the world of hunger names because they consciously or unconsciously identified with the suppressed peoples in the book.

Maybe people are afraid these days to face the truth of what is happening in our world and like to hear a story about the situation in which they can relate. We need more apocalyptic literature of our times.


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Who Am I? - Sunday, September 23, 2012

Mother Mary says: “Who am I,
that this day He should come to me?

My brain is on break while this illness lingers on. I need to be careful of what I say and do since I am not very sharp these days. It is a good chance to practice the silence between words from the quote in last night’s posting from Thomas Merton. The brain taking a rest also affects my creative writing, if that is what I do in this daily observation diary.

A friend asks me to bring a Thomas Merton quote to our Faith in Recovery faith sharing group after liturgy today. One of the latest quotes coming my way seemed right for today and perhaps right for the daily observation. I am not sure what the quote means but it sounds like it is apropos.

“After all, what is your personal identity? It is what you really are, your real self. None of us is what he thinks he is, or what other people think he is, still less what his passport says he is… And it is fortunate for most of us that we are mistaken. We do not generally know what is good for us. That is because, in St. Bernard’s language, our true personality has been concealed under the ‘disguise’ of a false self, the ego, whom we tend to worship in place of God.” —Thomas Merton, The Waters of Siloe Harcourt & Brace, 1949, p. 349

Finding one’s true identity is difficult. I try not to worry about what other people think I am or but I do try to learn from the advice and wisdom of other people, past and present about who I am. Some of my teachers of my identity have been great persons like Dorothy Day or Martin Luther King Jr. Many of my teachers are ordinary persons I meet in life, especially children, the poor, ill and marginalized. Many of them can see right through whatever mask I am wearing and see a bit of who I really am.

Teachers tell me we must constantly seek the truth and follow our conscience, even if we are misinformed at times. Learning who you are and how to live life can be difficult and burden but also it can enjoyable and an adventure. Who am I is journey worth taking.


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Silence Between Words - Saturday, September 22, 2012

“For language to have meaning, there must be intervals of silence somewhere, to divide word from word and utterance from utterance. He who retires into silence does not necessarily hate language. Perhaps it is love and respect for language which imposes silence upon him. For the mercy of God is not heard in words unless it is heard, both before and after the words are spoken, in silence,” —Thomas Merton, “Philosophy of Silence,” in Disputed Questions , (NY: Farrar, Straus & Cudahy, 1960), p. 181

This quote from Thomas Merton impacts me today as I wait out my illness and find more comfort in silence than in my usually talking too much. When to speak and when to be silent is something I struggle to learn. We all need silence between words.


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No Exceptionalism - Friday, September 21, 2012

The say summer is past and fall is here. I did not notice a change in the weather but it is time to do fall stuff in the garden, pruning, clearing areas, making castings, move the worms to depository etc. My illness is slowing me down but I hope to catch up in a week or so.

I do not know if the essays, Catholic church in North Central Milwaukee, are having any further impact but I do know people who agree with the Cry of the Poor Petition bit fear signing it or else believe that it is just my idea and marginalize the message while marginalizing the messenger.

One exception was my cousin who was one of the first women to be admitted to St. Francis seminary to study with the priest to be. When they went on to ordination she went on to be a religious education person in a church. She realized she had a greater vocation and became an ordained Methodist minister. Nowadays women like my friend Janice from Milwaukee go on to be ordained women Catholic priest, despite being excommunicated from the official Church. My friend Janice just wrote me with a description of a liturgy a number of woman priest concelebrate in a home in New Orleans.

Like the 1.1 million dollars, ( Million dollar move ) the official Catholic Church thinks if they endanger fear in anyone recognizing woman priest and excommunicate them the whole thing will go away. No matter what the local Archdiocese does with the 1.1 million dollars intended for the poor in North Central Milwaukee the movement for justice and equality in the Church will grow. The Catholic Church can silence and ignored all they want the truth will still be out there, be it the Sexual abuse, taking money from poor to rich or forbidding women priest.

Roy Bourgeois, a Maryknoll priest who was excommunicated for being present at Janice’s ordination said: “And it is my conscience that compels me to say publicly that the exclusion of women from the priesthood is a grave injustice against women, against our Church and against our God who calls both men and women to the priesthood.” Although is better know at the director of SOAWatch the movement to close the military terrorist training base in Georgia, he outraged the Church more for just being at the altar.

What does the Church fear women’s call to priesthood, being transparent about past misbehavior of priest or about the delegation of money and resources. I do not know for sure but suspect it has something to do with the male hierarchical structure of the Roman Catholic Church. Just like the hierarchical military somehow they do not seem to be accountable to humans like us. There is some type of ‘expectionalist’ being in Church or Government they feel is their right and makes them superior.

Jesus became one of the poor, outcast, marginalized and accused of treason by the government of his time. However, he did pretty well after his death and resurrection. We pray the Church and the Government can follow his example.
In the garden there is a season for all things and there is no exceptionalism.


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Cry of the Poor Petition - Thursday, September 20, 2012

Another ill day but I did find the energy and time to write this letter to friends.

Dear Friends,
Find below a Cry of the Poor Petition which I am asking you to sign by sending us your name and title (optional) to

Cry of the Poor Petition

We request that the 1.1 million dollars realized from the closing and sale of three Catholic Churches (St. Nicholas, St. Albert, Blessed Trinity/Holy Redeemer) in North Central Milwaukee be used to support vouchers for three St. Vincent De Paul conferences that serve those in need in the area, St. Catherine, All Saints and St. Martin De Pores.

Some of you may have read the three essays The Catholic Church in North Central especially the essay The Million Dollar Move. In the essays you will find the story of how the Catholic Church has withdrawn from North Central Milwaukee, the most segregated area of the most segregated city in the USA and the poorest area in the fourth poorest city in the USA. (Today’s headlines of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reads: City poverty rate stands at 29.4%.).

While the number of churches in the area has gone up, the Catholic churches in this area have been reduced from 17 in 1962 to 3 today. One of the Churches closed had been a merger of three Catholic churches and there are 1.1 million of funds from the sales of these properties in Archdiocesan controlled accounts at St. Catherine parish. We are asking that the money be returned to the area to support vouchers for three St. Vincent De Paul conferences that serve those in need in the area, St. Catherine, All Saints and St. Martin De Pores. The archdiocese funds are controlled by the Archbishop, president of the Corporation Board, two other clergy and two trustees.

Today I got an email from a good friend who really has given her life to serve the poor and was one of the contributors to the essays. She said: “As far as use of the money for purposes you have described, “I do not wholeheartedly endorse your plan. I think it requires a collaborative effort not a one man proposal.” I responded that first of all I cannot take credit for the idea of “selling what you have and giving it to the poor.” I got this idea from Jesus and other great prophets. Also I explained to her how I have tried to make this a collaborative effort only to be met by silence or rejection from those involved. The local Catholic newspaper, publisher being the Archbishop, will not acknowledge the essays. The local liberal peace and justice group, Catholics for Peace and Justice, which list its address at St. Catherine’s church refused to put a link to the essays in its electronic newsletter this month. The person who censored the link, a member of Blessed Trinity parish council and now a member at St. Catherine’s said the essays did not meet the ‘standards of the newsletter’. The parish council of St. Catherine’s would not allow five minutes for us to discuss this proposal at the last meeting. How do you have a civil discourse when one side ignores the message and attacks the messenger?

This is why I need you, my friends, Catholic or non-Catholic, Christian on non-Christian, poor or rich, male or female and no matter where you live in the world to break the silence with the few of us who have written the Archbishop and Parish Corporation Board asking for a dialog. (So far ignored.) Please show you solidarity with the poor by writing back to us at saying we can use your name on the Cry of the Poor Petition and/or write the Archbishop directly at

If you need more information than is provided in the three essays, The Catholic Church in North Central Milwaukee , please contact us. Not one person has challenged any of the information and statements in the essays.

Another friend told me today to focus on works of mercy with individuals and forget about this larger issue. The blessings and grace of God that come to me from those in need is for this reason I cannot be silent and allow the 1.1 million dollars to be used in a way it was not intended. We cannot do much about the segregation and racism of the Catholic Church in Milwaukee in the past, but we can do something now about the 1.1 million dollars serving those in need in the area.

We beg you to sign the Cry of the Poor Petition and/or write the Archbishop of Milwaukee. I know I am a weak and presently a sick messenger but by working together we can make a difference.

May the peace and justice of Jesus Christ be with you,

Bob Graf

“Speak out for those who cannot speak for themselves for the rights of the destitute, open your mouths, decree what is just, defend the needy and the poor.” (Proverbs 31: 8–9)


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I Am Sorry - Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Every so often I feel the need to apologize to friends and enemies. I certainly express my ‘opinion of the truth’ but how I do it is the problem’. Often I am like a three old child and just blurt out what I think and am not tactful in words. These days dialog seems to mean you got your opinion and I got mine and that is it. We do not challenge each other or have a significant civil discourse. When you are ignored and marginalized being a weak messenger leads to more outrage which does not help. I try not to recognize and enhance the stereotypes of myself but often do. For this I do need to apologize. Enduring suffering and rejection has never been my long suite yet is so necessary to be a follower of Jesus these days.

Also I am tired of talk and more talk about peace, justice and preferential option for the poor. I try to avoid talks and reading that will inspire the same old outrage in me and are designed as a distraction and avoid direct action.

I try to focus on local issues, something we might be able to do something about, like the military schools on Marquette campus or putting back the 1.1 million dollars that Archdiocese reaped from North Central Milwaukee back into the area to serve those in need. But when get a ‘label’ on you, justified or not, it does not matter what research and information you may have the message gets ignored and the messenger also gets ignored or attacked.

Looking at the life of Jesus, saints and civil leaders I see no way out of this except to take the blows and insults and being ignored, not to return them, as I often do, and just go with the flow of suffering. I feel an obligation to articulate what my conscience and moral values tells me what is right and wrong. At my age I probably cannot be more tactful so just must accept my behavior that seems ‘arrogant’ to some.

I am sorry and will try to be as loving as I can to friends and enemies. But I am weak so probably will always need to apologize. I am sorry!


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Love Your Friends Like Your Enemies - Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Tonight my recent illness has take priority over my observation for the Diary of Worm posting. So I will repeat a posting from a February 4, 2011. It is a observation that I need to daily remind myself.

“I have no trouble with my
enemies. I can take care
of my enemies in a fight.
But my friends, my goddamned
friends, they’re the ones
who keep me walking the floor
at nights!” President Harding

Have you ever felt betrayed by a friend, discriminated against by people you know, falsely accused or misrepresented, marginalized or stigmatized by friends? My experience has taught me often there is partial truth in a stigma (see Stigma Stains the Soul); often people marginalize the messenger to avoid the message; and friends sometimes take conflicts as personal attacks.

Denying or complaining about a false accusation or stigma does not work and usually reinforces it. At the same time you do not want to ignore the person, especially, a friend that is marginalizing or betraying you. Ignoring someone is a form of hate, worst than attacking someone since it fails to recognize the human dignity of a person.

Searching over the years for an answer to this dilemma, not to be defensive yet not to ignore I discovered part of the answer in the teaching of Love Your Enemies. We are taught to love our enemies even when they wrong us or insult us. So why not treat our friends the same way though we feel they are mistreating us. Actually loving your friends when they do something that hurts your feelings is, in my opinion, than loving your enemies when they do something similar.

When my two grandsons were younger and fighting and insulting each other in my presence I played a game with them. I would ask one of them to say something to hurt my feelings or insult me. They were hesitant but would do it. When they did I would put my arms around my accuser and say all kinds of loving and good things about him. They would laugh and find it silly. Then I would have them try it on each other. Being loving and affection to one who insults or speaks badly about you really diffuses the situation, much more effectively than hurling insults back.

Loving your friends as your enemy is something adults do not understand. When I first described disagreeing with a friend or respected person as loving your enemy I was misunderstood. If one disagrees or have a conflict with one who is a friend it is considered the end of the friendship until there is some reconciliation. That need not be true. If we are called to love our enemies it should be natural to love our friend like enemies.


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The Great American Myth - Monday, September 17, 2012

“Pull yourself up by the bootstrap”; “with hard work every one can achieve whatever you want”; “if you teach poor people how to budget they can get out of poverty”; “the American Dream is available to everyone”; “you can be whatever you want to be”; “everyone has an opportunity to be successful in life”; “there are more jobs than people willing to work”; “people choose to be dependent on government”; “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for lifetime”; and “half of the people in the USA are dependent on the government, feel they are victims and do not take responsibility for life” are all expressions, in my opinion, of the great American myth: being American means that with hard work you be what you want to be in life.

When you paraphrase so many expressions of the same thought it seems exaggerated. But in the last few weeks I have heard similar expressions of this myth from Democrats, Republicans, good Christian and non-Christian, liberals and conservatives, and poor and rich. My friend and I had to skip a social justice meeting tonight because some suburban people were going to tell us how we can teach poor people we visit how to budget. When you are struggling for survival, food and shelter how do you budget?

In the Gospel I do not hear any of this myth, but just the opposite, to feed the hungry, cloth the naked, blessed are the poor. The American Myth that you can be all you want to be, as they say, in the military commercials, does not mean spiritually but materially.

When I was unemployed and with a family and people asked me: “What do I do?” I knew they meant what kind of work for a living I do. Sometimes I would have the courage to say “nothing”. When I retired people would say that you should be glad you do not need to work. The truth is I work harder, although often it is what I want to do, after retirement.

My wife says that since I write so much I should write a book that could be published. Would my writings be any more meaningful if they made money? I live a ‘good life’ and feel blessed but it has little to do with hard work and more to circumstances. The great American myth is used to keep people in their place.


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Already Been Said - Sunday, September 16, 2012

As some of you may know that I get enthused, some say possessed, about justice and peace issues. Recently it has been the injustice of the Catholic Church in North Central Milwaukee that has taken up lots of my time. I have spent many words trying to say what I wanted to say about the Million Dollar Move. At today’s liturgy the 2nd reading from the Letter of James said it all much more simply. But after the liturgy I learned that parish council members will not give us five minuits to explain the Cry for the Poor Petition, below. I guess what I tried to say has already been said.

Reading James 2:1–5

My brothers and sisters, show no partiality
as you adhere to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ.
For if a man with gold rings and fine clothes
comes into your assembly,
and a poor person in shabby clothes also comes in,
and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes
and say, “Sit here, please, “
while you say to the poor one, “Stand there, “ or “Sit at my feet, “
have you not made distinctions among yourselves
and become judges with evil designs?

Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters.
Did not God choose those who are poor in the world
to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom
that he promised to those who love him?

Cry of the Poor Petition


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Petition of Cry of the Poor to Archbishop - Saturday, September 15, 2012

A friend called today asking me I was okay. He is a regular reader, maybe only one of this posting, Diary of Worm, and saw no posting last night. I have been ill this week but thought I had made a posting last night. I checked and could not find it. Finally tonight I realize I spent a lot of time last night writing a letter to Archbishop and the parish courporation board that controls the 1.1 million dollars that I am trying to direct,to service of poor as it was intended. Here it is tonight:


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Simple as Nature - Thursday, September 13, 2012

“The goal of life is to make your
heartbeat match the beat of the
universe,to match your nature
with nature”
Joseph Campbell

A friend wrote to me today saying she would no longer send me emails because she could not have a civil discourse with me. She was the same person who censored my essays The Catholic Church in North Central Milwaukee from the Catholics for Peace and Justice Newsletter. She said the essays did not meet the “standards” of the newsletter but like those who have ignored the essays she gave no example. In my opinion since we do agree on how to use the 1.1 million dollars she has decided we cannot have a civil discourse.

I responded that civil discourse requires a difference of opinion. How can there be civil discourse when everyone agrees on everything? Creative conflict and civil discourse is necessary for a society to grow and develop. The problem these days is the right thinks it is always right and the left wants no conflict. This reminds me of the subtitle of Jim Wallis’ book “God’s Politics: The right gets it wrong and the left just does not get it.”

In the garden there is no right or wrong. One tries something and if it works continue it till it does not. If it does not work one just moves on to something different. For years I tried unsuccessfully to grow cucumbers and my friend tried to grow tomatoes. Finally this year we decided to exchange tomatoes for cucumbers. Our soil might be advantageous to a certain plant or another but we can overcome that with an exchange.

Now only if humans can do the same things with politics. When there is a conflict the two or more groups could sit down and resolve their difference even though they may need to compromise or have an exchange.

All this sounds so simple, but maybe it really is. I think technology makes us think everything is complicated but it may be really as simple as nature.


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Love Your Enemies and Your Friends - Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Still not feeling well which might be okay since I am still facing indifference and misrepesentation on my three essays . Sadly some of these attack come from people who I thought were friends.

Today I received this essay below from a friend, Jim Forest. It is from an essay by Thomas Merton on St Maximus the Confessor and the love of enemies. Now loving your enemies and your friends is a real challenge when you are ignored, attacked and misrepresented. I am not good at it yet but am getting a lot of practice of loving your enemies and your friends.

[excerpts from a six-page Merton essay titled “Saint Maximus the Confessor on Nonviolence” published in Thomas Merton On Peace, edited by Gordon Zahn and published in 1971 by McCall and reissued, in a revised, retitled edition — The Nonviolent Alternative — by Farrar Straus Giroux.]


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Why of 9/11 - Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The question behind the tragedy of 9/11 for me has been why would anyone or any group do this, such a hateful act? To ask such a question is not to justify in any way this horrible act but to help understand how to prevent it. The question was first asked right after 9/11 by victim family members and the Pope of the Catholic Church. I remember attending a panel discussion on this question at the local community college soon after the event. But the question of why was soon lost in the search for justice (vengeance), who was behind the event and sounds of war. I remember some peace people and family members of victims calling for a ‘police action’ against the perpetrators of this crime but all we got are two terrible wars, the growth of the enemy and hatred against USA in the Middle East and so many deaths, injuries and refugees. The count goes on.

It is coincidental that in two of the nations where we supported the military and forces of suppression, Egypt and Libya, there was a show of hatred toward the United States today by attacks on her embassy. We still give Egypt billions of dollars of military aide and supported with military aide the rebels now in power in Libya. The hatred toward the USA and its show of military might has grown so much since eleven years ago on 9/11. We now live in a much more dangerous world where we need to use “killer drones” and other weapons of death and destruction to “keep the peace”, as they say.

History and life has shown us that no ‘war’ will ever end a ‘war’ but only lead to more wars and violence. But profit and greed have taken over this country and if you are against war you are not patriotic and better keep silent or just do symbolic protest.

Well I cannot be silent and protest for the sake of protesting. What can I do? When will we ask the “why”, not the who or what of 9/11?


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Feeling Blah! - Monday, September 10, 2012

The day is done; illness stays on for another day. I slept in this morning till the phone rang. I was feeling fairly good and thought the illness had passed. But once I got up and got going I knew the illness, whatever it is, was still there. So I went back to my routine lately, do a little something, rest and do a little something. It is frustrating if I allow it to be but frustration does no good. I was able to drive a friend to pick up his daughter from school and to the store to pick up some food. It was a little thing but it felt good to do something besides write. read and rest.

Yesterday I had a ticket to go to Green Bay Packers game with my daughter-in-law while my son worked the game and my wife stayed with the grandchildren. But we had to cancel due to my illness which is just as well since the Green Bay Packers lost the first game of the season. TV viewing like I did yesterday with the Packer game and tonight with the Milwaukee Brewers fits right into the passive state of feeling blah.

As you can see from this posting my creative juices are also blah. But I had some catching up and sending out to do on the three essays on The Catholic Church in North Central Milwaukee. The question now is can I work up enough excitement about keeping the 1.1 million dollars the Church is holding to the segregated and poor neighborhood from where it came? Feeling blah does not help.


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All Is Well In Health And Sickness - Sunday, September 09, 2012

My granddaughter, Carolee
name in part after my sister Carol,
showing a cow in country fair.

Are there any advantages to being sick? When one is sick there is not much upside but afterwards, with reflection there are some pluses. Sickness of any kind gives one a sense of what other sick persons go through. When my sister, Carol, first had breast cancer she would suffer this nauseating feeling from medication and chemotherapy. During this time my wife and I took a dinner/gambling excursion in Florida. After dinner we got terrible sea sickness and were nauseated. It end when we got back to shore but I did get a better understanding of what my sister was suffering.

Sickness slows one down. I am starting to feel better but the last few days I have had a lazy feeling, working in starts and stops. Project take more time but I think are done better when done slowly.

Sickness puts one in solidarity with people of all over the world, who suffer hunger, war wounds, brain injuries, painful diseases and handicaps.

When we, middle class with health insurance, get sick or injured we know we can doctor and hospital care if necessary. You can only sense what it would be like without the hope of treatment as people in this country and around the world experience.

Despite the advantage of sickness I am sure glad that I am getting well. There are many more advantages to good health than sickness. All is well in sickness and health.


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No Name Dropping for Truth - Saturday, September 08, 2012

One cannot reach truth by
untruthfulness. Truthful conduct
alone can reach Truth.

The Republican, Vice President Candidate Ryan, and the Democratic, President Obama, are using St. Thomas Aquinas, a 13th century theologian to justify positions. President Obama uses St. Thomas Aquinas, it is reported, to justify personally approving each name put on the ‘kill list’ he maintains for the military at the White House. Ryan, it is said, uses Thomas Aquinas to justify his social justice positions.

Actually a lot of people use St. Thomas Aquinas or St. Augustine, a 4th century bishop, to justify war. Actually St. Thomas Aquinas starts off his ‘just war theory’ with statement “all wars are unlawful…and sinful.” He then goes on to justify the conditions for a ‘just war’ in his time. However, people forget that what he meant by ‘war’ in the 13th century is a far cry from war in our times. There were no assault weapons, no machine guns, in fact, no guns at all used in wars at that time. There were no missiles, Apache helicopters, bombers or even bombs in the wars of the 13th century. Soldiers had swords or bow and arrows and most fighting was person to person. There were no airplanes and certain no “Killer Drones, remote controlled, unmanned airplanes designed to kill all those at the target indiscriminately. Many years ago a friend of mine, at the time a philosophy teacher at Marquette University, stood up at meeting with talk about a ‘just war’ and the planned invasion of Iraq and said that whole idea had been blown up once and for all with the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

Candidate Paul Ryan uses St. Thomas Aquinas to justify his social justice positions which means for him no government interference for the common good. How silly! The social justice of St. Thomas Aquinas was based was “based on the concepts of human rights and equality and involves a greater degree of economic egalitarianism through progressive taxation, income redistribution, or even property redistribution.”
After Paul Ryan’s speech at the National Republican Convention was ‘fact checked’ and found to be mostly untrue a republican campaign leaders supposedly said “we are not going to allow our campaign to be dictated by fact checkers.”
If you read carefully St. Thomas Aquinas teachings on war and understand what war meant in his times and if you read his statements on what we call “social justice” you will find that St. Thomas is being used by politicians on the right or left. The struggle to seek the truth was a trademark of St. Thomas Aquinas as it is of other great leaders of our times, Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi.

Nowadays politicians seem to think that by just name dropping, like St. Thomas Aquinas, is enough? However no name dropping can substitute for the struggle for the truth.


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Illness Slows Down - Friday, September 07, 2012

I do not like being sick but need to look at the curse of illness as a blessings. It has forced me to slow down. We, hopefully, will return tomorrow night, healthy and well.


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Blessed Are Those Who Suffer! - Thursday, September 06, 2012

Today I was talking with a friend from our former Catholic church that was closed in the North Central Area. For the last four or five years she has been in serious pain. Four operations, a few procedures and many pain and regular doctors she has not found relief. As we talked about the terrible pain she suffers she mentioned how important her faith in God is. Pain and suffering, like poverty, turns people toward faith and hope in God.

Some would negate how pain and poverty turn one to God. However, as someone who understand how faith and hope in God sustains a person in pain and poverty I understand.

The Republicans and Democrats in their convention taught how everyone can work hard and lift him or herself. Perhaps this was true and may be for the ‘middle class’ they talk about. But those in pain and poverty understand that is now how things work. Opportunity might have been available for all Americans in the past but it is not now.

Another thing both Republicans and Democrats do that bothers me is equate justice with punishment and death. Tonight the Democrats make a big thing of Osama Bin Laden assassination as justice. The Republicans do the same thing, as well as ordinary people do, calling justice, punishment or death. This is not what I was taught in my 13 years of Catholic education as ‘justice’. Justice was more associated with mercy not vengeance.

My friend thanked me for my concern for her today. I told her I was doing it because God had given her so many blessings and I was just trying to share in them. Blessed are those who suffer!


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Judgement of Nations Not Individuals - Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Jesus blesses and heals
the blind beggar

As I was leaving the grocery store today I saw what I thought was a blind person, next to an entrance to parking lot, with a sign. After putting my groceries in the car I went over to the person. His sign read “hungry and homeless need help.” As I got close I can see from his eyes and white cane that he was a blind beggar. He did not hear me coming so I greeted him and he responded. Not knowing what to say I asked where he stays. He gave me the only answer a ‘homeless’ person can give: “here and there.” I gave him a few dollars making sure to tell him the amount.

He thanked me and as I walked away I could not help but think of the blind beggar in the Gospels. When I was studied scripture one scholar told us when Jesus said “Blessed are the poor” what he meant was blessed is the blind beggar. Blind beggars in Jesus’ times were like many others, people completely dependent on others and God. If someone was ill or sick or even a window and had no family to take care of them they were the dependent, the ‘poor’. The majority of people in Jesus’ time were poor by our standards of poverty and wealthy, but the poor Jesus was talking about as blessed were those who did not have a community or family to take care of them. ‘Poor windows’ had to go to Temple for alms so the family could survive.

So this man today who was blind and begging was really the poor of our time. Sadly there are so many poor in our times and the numbers are increasing.

I have heard both at the Republican and Democratic conventions, the conservatives and liberals misunderstand the parable of the Judgment of Nations in Matthew 25 about the works of mercy. All the groups seem to put an individual slant on the story. They say it is what we do as individuals with the works of mercy that will be the basis of how we will be judged. In Jesus’ time there was no concept of the individual. Everyone, except the poor, was part of group, class or nation. Jesus was really talking about the ‘nations’ in the parable when he says: “And the King will answer, ‘ I tell you solemnly, in so far as you did those to the least of these brothers (sisters) of mine, you did it for me.’” (Matthew 25: 40)

When I was working on my Masters degree at Loyola I wrote a major talk on who the poor are in the gospel and what Jesus was talking about in the parable of Matthew 25. I am thinking of writing an essay of parts of it.

So yes my individual act of giving a few dollars to the blind beggar was nice but when will our nation, our government, locally and nationally, treat the hungry, poor, homeless, imprisoned the way the parable says we, as a nation will be judged on the last days? We will be defined as a nation by how we treat the poor. It is the Judgment of nations not individuals.


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Where would Jesus go to Pray? - Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Today I was talking with a friend from the past when somehow the subject of our adult children came up. I told her about the death of our son Peter who she remembered me talking about in the mid 90’s when we worked together. Then she told me the story of her 36 year old daughter who in the late term of her pregnancy was killed by her boyfriend, the father of the unborn child. The mother and child were rushed to the hospital where the mother was pronounced dead. Although the mother and baby had died they were able to remove the baby from the mother and revive the baby. However, the baby boy was severely brain damaged with many disabilities. She took the baby home and she and her husband are raising the now five year grandson.

Since we worked together, my friend, while still working at the same place, has become a minister and has a small church near where once our closed Catholic Church of Blessed Trinity stands. She has a strong faith in God that has sustained her in troubled times like the death of her daughter.
Thinking about how the Catholic church presence is this area of North Central Milwaukee has been reduced from 17 churches in 1962 to 3 today I wonder how other churches have fared. My guess is that there is a lot more churches in North Central Milwaukee than there was in 1962. Many of the Churches may be small like my friends, but non-Catholic Christian churches do not need large numbers of members and the big money that Catholic churches need. However, they do provide the faith, worship and community that we all seem to need.

Somehow I get the feeling that Jesus, the Palestinian Jew, would feel more comfortable in the smaller Christian churches that now dot North Central Milwaukee than the large Catholic Churches in the suburbs. In the present North Central churches he would find people of darker skin color like his own; he would find poor people without much, like himself; he would find Church leaders that are male and female, married and unmarried.

If Jesus were to be alive today looking to attend a Christian church in the North Central area I think he would be more comfortable in the many non-Catholic churches in the area rather than with the few remaining Catholic Churches. Where would Jesus go to pray?


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Tired but Refreshed - Monday, September 03, 2012

Grandson showing a cow at
County Fair

After a week of taking a ‘time out’ I am tired but refreshed. After watching my grandchildren and other youth showing cows and rabbits, after playing in the Lake water with my granddaughter, attending soccer games I am tired. However, the change of pace was refreshing and threw some perspective on life. I realized how important it is to get the message of the essays The Catholic Church in North Central Milwaukee out yet if it is I alone the messenger and message can be ignored.

The Gospel parable in Matthew 25, the Judgment of Nations, about the works of mercy, is not about individuals but about nations, Archdioceses, churches, organizations and groups. In American we tend to individualize everything, even our faith and good works. When we question why an organization or group fails to act we are ignored or marginalized. This reminds me of a quote from Dom Helder Camara, a Brazilian archbishop of the past who said: “When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist.”

We as a group must request the Archbishop of Milwaukee to return the 1.1 million dollars the Catholic Church took out of the most segregated and poorest neighborhoods in Milwaukee. (see The million dollar move.

I watched a lot of cows being shown at the Shawano County fair this last week. If people can get excited about cows and children maybe we can get them excited about poor and hungry children in need of nation, organization, Catholic Archdiocese to follow the works of mercy. This tired but refreshed person says maybe we can bring a cow to the North Central Area of Milwaukee to dramatize the need for dairy products for children.


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