Pope Francis: The Only Future Worth Building Includes Everyone

For many years I have been a big fan of TED Talks.  I find that the talks generally live up to the TED slogan “Ideas Worth Sharing.”  I don’t agree with every speaker and I don’t find all of the talks equally stimulating; but I usually learn something, find a unique perspective or discover a new way to think about the world that we all live in. 

This week in something of a surprise, Pope Francis gave a talk to TED 2017 that was entitled The Only Future Worth Building Includes Everyone.   In a world that is increasingly divisive, nationalistic, partisan, and fearful, the Pope makes a strong argument that each person can be a messenger of hope and all of our individual “yous” can be come a collective “us” to address the needs of our world and time.  Regardless of your faith tradition or no faith tradition his talk is compelling and worth a 17 minute investment of time.  If you would prefer to read his comments rather than listen to them they may be found here: His Holiness Pope Francis at TED2017

Another Sad Day…

Helen Baxley Swope, October 22,1926 -December 16, 2016

My dear mother Helen passed away yesterday.  The picture here is from a painting my father had made sometime in the 1970’s.  I think Mom hated it but it was a good portrait of her in her late 40’s/early 50’s.  Despite her reservations about it, she let Dad hang it and it is still on the wall in their house.  It reminds me of my Mom, strong, beautiful and vibrant.

Mom led a long, productive, solidly middle class American life.  Born in the 1920’s she lived through the cataclysms of the depression and World War II before doing something unusual for a woman in her generation; graduating from Brenau College in 1950. Following her 1952 marriage to my father Paul she had three children whom she raised and pushed through school.  After we all left home, Mom volunteered at her church several days each week.  Her presence and dedication to Embry Hills UMC was so strong that people there started calling her St. Helen – in a admiring way.  A woman of many talents, she hand made over 30 full sized quilts along with dozens and dozens of needlepoint and crocheted items.

Mom was a strong woman, she endured the loss of her father in 1963, the death of her only brother in 1973 and then cared for her mother who had Alzheimer’s throughout the 1970’s (before we knew what Alzheimer’s was).  She also was a breast cancer survivor since 1977.  After a broken hip in 2010, she struggled with her health continuously.  When my brother died this past July, she said that when she died she would have some serious questions for him; I suspect he is trying to answer them right now!

Mom loved her family; her husband of 64 years, my sister, me, her in-laws, her grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, all of whom she leaves behind.  She also loved Christmas.  The day of her fall that eventually led to her death, she had happily spent the day dragging my Dad from store to store to find the perfect Christmas gifts for her great-grand children and some sorority friends that she was to meet today for lunch. Her house wasn’t decorated until all 100+ Byer’s Caroler’s were on display and the tree was up and lit.  Mom, this Christmas is the first one in 91 years you will miss.  The gifts you picked out are still neatly placed on the bed upstairs, waiting to be wrapped.  We are all so very sad that you are gone.

It hasn’t been 24 hours since you died and I already miss you so much.  I’m going to miss your stories, your fierce pride in your grand and great-grand children, I’ll even miss the many, many questions about your vast array of technology (iPhone, iPads, PC, Kindle, etc.) but most of all I just miss you.  I know you now have  peace and are free of the pain that your aging and failing body had given to you.  I know you always loved me no matter what and I hope you know I always loved you.  Rest In Peace.

#Election2016 ends, at last!

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Finally, the toxic and awful #Election2016 comes to a merciful end.  Like a huge number of Americans, I find both @HillaryClinton and @realDonaldTrump to be ill suited for the presidency.   According to most polls, the majority of Americans would prefer to have another option for the nation’s highest office – just about any other option!  Yet, we are stuck with these two major party candidates and one of them will become the president on January 20, 2017.   Continue reading “#Election2016 ends, at last!”

An Absence

Crater Lake National Park – July 24, 2016

Recently I was asked by a friend via email if I had decided to stop posting to this blog.  It was a reasonable question because my most recent post was on July 21st and today is August 29th.  The answer to the question is no; I do plan to continue posting to this blog.  My absence from posting stories about the refugee crisis, odd things that strike me as funny, strange or just interesting and other ruminations can be easily explained.

On July 20th I received a telephone call from Providence Hospital in Medford, Oregon with the news that my brother Bryan had been admitted and was in critical condition in the ICU.    I flew to Medford on July 21st and was with my brother when he passed away in the early morning hours of July 23rd.  Bryan had a terminal illness (IPF) but his health had taken a sudden and final turn for the worse the week before. Continue reading “An Absence”

True Happiness, Peace and Joy!

I baptize Sawyer at St. George on July 17th. Sawyer is being held by his father with his mother and brother close by.

Being a Catholic Deacon involves a lot of things.  Most of us are involved in social justice ministries, we prepare couples for marriage, we stand up for the voiceless, the poor and the vulnerable, we preside at funerals and weddings and try to always be bridges and not walls as we serve others.  All that said, one of the most joyous things we do is baptize young children.  I am always inspired by the spirit of holiness, welcome, happiness and peace present at each baptism.  Yesterday was just such an occasion when I baptized Sawyer, the son and grandson of some dear friends. Sawyer, welcome into the great Christian community!

You Can’t Make Up Things Like This…

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The Arrest Log from the Newnan Times Herald, July 8, 2016.  The Newnan Police Department (NPD) arrested this local citizen for battery.  One must wonder what inspired her parents to provide this particular name to their child.  Any ideas? 

I think it is also a coincidence that she was arrested for battery – may be low voltage, maybe wrong voltage, maybe just a dead battery.  I have it on good authority that this is genuinely the defendant’s name.  You just can’t make up this kind of stuff…

U.S. Congress Passes the Global Food Security Act

The Global Food Security Act, sponsored by the Honorable Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ) passed the House of Representatives today.  It previously passed in the Senate.  This bill which the president said he will sign will require the United States Government to have a coordinated whole-of-government approach to food security that will improve millions of lives. In addition, the bill guarantees two years of funding for America’s food security investments. This funding goes mainly to small impoverished men and women farmers to help them through a program called Feed the Future, which has already helped 7 million small-scale farmers grow more food, and improved nutrition for 12.5 million children.    

This is a remarkable victory for the world’s poorest and yet another shining example of Christian and American compassion and generosity.