“The Lights of Learning and Reason”


In the undelivered speech he intended to give at the Dallas Trade Mart on November 22, 1963 President John F. Kennedy wrote, “In a world of complex and continuing problems, in a world full of frustrations and irritations, America’s leadership must be guided by the lights of learning and reason or else those who confuse rhetoric with reality and the plausible with the possible will gain the popular ascendancy with their seemingly swift and simple solutions to every world problem.”

We live in a complex and difficult world but we should realize that the world has always been complex and difficult.  Historically, when people feel that the challenges that they face in their own generation and lives are becoming insurmountable they tend to look for a cause for their pain, dissatisfaction, hurt or difficulty.  They often decide that the cause is some “other person” or group of people and they become susceptible to believing the “simple solutions to every world problem” that those who confuse “rhetoric with reality” put forward.  

Kennedy went on to say, “There have always be dissident voices heard in the land, expressing opposition without alternative, finding fault but never favor, perceiving gloom on every side and seeking influence without responsibility. Those voices are inevitable.

But today other voices are heard in the land — voices preaching doctrines wholly unrelated to reality, wholly unsuited to the sixties, doctrines which apparently assume that words will suffice without policy, that vituperation is as good as victory and that peace is a sign of weakness. We cannot expect that everyone, to use the phrase of a decade ago, will “talk sense to the American people.” But we can hope that fewer people will listen to this nonsense.”

We now live in the world that Kennedy foretold.  The problem with that world is that leaders who are not grounded in reality and the possible put forth simplistic solutions that frankly, will not work.  Complex problems are rarely, if ever solved with simplistic solutions. The issues that our communities, country, and world faces can only start to be addressed from a foundation of reality and resolved only through cooperation and compromise.  Yet our leaders reject reality, cooperation, and compromise in favor of ignorant tribalism and demonizing any who opposes their entrenched positions.  Worst of all, more, not fewer people listen to this nonsense.  This isn’t a Republican, Democrat or Independent problem, it is a problem in all of politics.

What a different nation we would have if we all acknowledged that there are good ideas and solutions on both sides of the divide, if we admitted that people on both sides believe they are acting in good faith and none are intrinsically “evil.”  When was the last time we turned off cable news and actually tried to understand the content of opposing views and looked for any points where compromise and conciliation could take place?  

We face an election in a few short weeks.  It is an opportunity for each of us to stop listening to the nonsense and to put away the hope that solutions that are simple and disconnected with reality have any chance to work.  It is up to each of us to carefully consider how our individual representatives and (where they are running for reelection) our senators view the world.  Regardless of party, if they believe the messy, complex, and ever changing world can be addressed through blaming the “other person” or implementing solutions that are little more than pablum; they should be tossed out in favor of serious minded individuals who are willing and able to do the hard work of devising solutions through negotiation and compromise.  

We get the government that we elect and therefore deserve.  Our clear lack of satisfaction with the Congress and the occupants of the White House over many years means we are not choosing wisely.  Most Americans vote along straight party lines and that is just not rational.  It is not possible that all Republicans are better than any Democrat or all Democrats are better than any Republican.  There are good and bad choices on both sides.  We have been choosing leaders who unfortunately are not guided by the “lights of learning and reason” but rather those whose calls to tribalism and mindless adherence to party have led us to where we are.

This Must End

PA Crisis

As a Roman Catholic and an ordained Deacon of the Church I am appalled by the enormity of the abuse done to innocent children and young people revealed in the Grand Jury report from Pennsylvania.  I am outraged that the Bishops were complicit in this evil by covering up the abuse and allowing it to continue. Certainly these eight dioceses are not the only ones with this abhorrent behavior.

It is clear that the attempt at reforms done in 2002 are not enough.  There are still too many men who perpetrated these immoral and criminal actions in active ministry.  I addressed this topic in my homily yesterday.  It is clear to me that the laity must force reform and take an active role in directing it.  The abuse, coverups and lack of transparency cannot and should not be tolerated.  My homily is below and on my Homilies and Talks page:



Southside Ultreya Address – Summer 2018

UltreyaLast evening I gave a talk to the Atlanta Southside Ultreya gathering.  I was asked by several members of that group to post my remarks so that others in their group could hear them.  The talk can be found here: Southside Ultreya TalkIt was an honor to be asked to address this wonderful group.

Family Dynamics


My wife got this Mothers’ Day card today from our daughter, Jennifer.  It expresses what I think are true family dynamics.  When our kids were little we used to say to them, “Just do that again and we will sell you to the gypsies.”  They knew we were kidding and we didn’t mean it…mostly…sometimes, well…every now and then.  Every family has a story like this and it describes the dynamics of a close family.  We would have never sold our kids to the gypsies, but the saying became part of our family’s give and take.  Truthfully, until this card arrived today we had forgotten we ever said it.  Our loving daughter resurrected the saying today and hopefully it will remain part of our family.  We can’t wait to see our grandchildren again!!!  I wonder what else we used to say to our kids that we have forgotten and if they can find cards for those.   YIKES!!!



My last post was about how the neo-Nazi’s and Antifa were #NotWelcomeHere in my hometown of Newnan, Georgia.

People of good will know that those in the neo-Nazi movement are just ignorant fools and the fools confirmed that for us yesterday. The permit that the city issued to these clowns allowed them to hold their ‘rally’ from 3pm to 5pm at the Greenville Street Park in downtown Newnan. They set out to march to the park….and got lost.! Yes, in our small city, they got lost. These nuts arrived at the park at 4:15pm. Promptly at 5:00pm law enforcement shut down the rally and sent them packing. These idiots want to run the world; but they clearly couldn’t even run (or find) a lemonade stand.

The really great news is that thanks to our city leaders, the Newnan Police, the Coweta County Sheriff’s Department, the State Patrol and many others, there was no violence and no injuries. There were about twelve arrests, mostly for misdemeanor or felony stupidity.

The good that came from this is the solidarity shown by the wonderful citizens of Newnan in opposition to hatred.