Blog

September 3, 2017

My Dog Shadow and Prayer for the Care of Creation

“When he looks at me, it feels as if he sees straight through to my soul.” The vet was commenting on my dog Shadow’s face like so many who can see the purity, wisdom and dignity of this beautiful animal who adopted us about 12 or 13 years ago. A gaze which stops your heart. The veterinarian could not miss the distinct difference between Shadow and his adopted step-brother, Seymour. Shadow stood quietly regarding Dr. Cameron Ross while Seymour planted all four feet firmly on the floor and barked at the vet when he walked in the exam room. I hate this, […]
August 28, 2017

3 Thoughts on Work-Whether Writing Medical Mysteries or Babysitting New Grandchild

3 thoughts on work…maybe not a topic you want to think about on a Sunday, or any day? Dreams of retirement being far more alluring. Or is retirement all that it’s cracked up to be? I think not. Here are my 3 thoughts on work: Our bodies need work. The data revealing the protective effects of learning and study upon the health of the brain are accumulating rapidly. The very nature of work imbues us with a sense of meaning and purpose, without which, happiness is impossible. Starting from the top, the body’s need for exercise and healthy eating-work- is […]
August 20, 2017

Child, have none told you? God is in your soul!

Child, have none told you? God is in your soul. That line, that stunning, arresting line is from a poem by Jessica Powers. Remember the Hallmark cards of a couple of decades ago? That is how I remembered Jessica Powers until today.  August 18, the anniversary of her death in 1988. When I learned that Powers spent most of her life as a Carmelite nun, Sister Miriam of the Holy Spirit, dying at the age of eighty-three having written over three hundred poems. Most of them deeply spiritual, evoking holiness from the ordinary, the mundane. A wow moment. Jaw dropping in […]
August 13, 2017

Love: I Know Nothing About It

“Love: I know nothing about it.” My statement was in reply to a priest who had asked if anything was wrong.  Mass had ended and there I sat, alone in the big, cold New England Catholic Church. Staring at the quintessence of agony: the crucified Christ. Instead of coming to console with words or presence, the young priest merely smiled. But it was a smile that felt like he approved of what I had said. As if I had passed some kind of test. Perhaps I had. Each of us, if truthful, owns that statement: Love, I know nothing about […]
July 30, 2017

14 Reasons Do You Solemnly Swear? Audio Book Late

Sorry for the deception in the title but there is only one reason that Do You Solemnly Swear? audio book is late.  We fell behind in the schedule. Way behind. But now that I have your attention, what do you think of the new ad which will begin running soon in Publisher’s Weekly? This will be a full page and banner ad featured in both print and digital copies of the magazine. From my research, I learned that Publisher’s Weekly is the most influential  in determining those books considered to be the best among the hundreds of thousands published each […]
July 23, 2017

Settling for Bette Midler’s God?

“I think most of us are settling for Bette Midler’s God.” It was a terrific headline. Hardly what anyone expects a priest to say when starting his homily on a Bible passage. The priest smiled at the cognitive dissonance apparent in the expressions of each of us seated in front of him at Thursday’s daily Mass. He’d gotten the reaction he wanted. Although none of us said it out loud, there was a collective “Huh?” The reading for Thursday’s Mass was from the Book of Exodus. A long reading. Moses has just heard the voice from the bush which burns […]
July 16, 2017

Looking for Heroes in All the Wrong Places

We have all spent time doing it: Looking for heroes in all the wrong places. Our movies and music reflect and sometimes magnify that desire to find someone who is an authentic hero. While watching Wonder Woman, we love imagining a woman with extraordinary physical and mental abilities. Maybe even a little identification with her. But when the movie ends and we return to the real world, the illusion and our search for heroines ceases. Or does it? Perhaps you remember the allegory of the charioteer from Plato? The charioteer and winged horses of the gods are noble and of […]
July 9, 2017

Sleeping With Seymour-Our Lab/ Pug Mix Rescue Dog

Sleeping with Seymour-our Lab/Pug rescue mix “This is the new dog?  I thought you wanted another Dobie?” “Yes, this is Seymour. Yes, you’re right, I did want another Doberman.” I was still somewhat dazed at this little guy who had wormed his way into my heart and our life. Kori, owner of the dog food store called Max’s, smiled as she looked at my new boy who looks as if maybe one day-maybe- his body will catch up to his big lab head, the short stubby legs and that silly, extra large, pug-like question mark of a tail. All is […]
July 3, 2017

The Pressure of Reality: Tyranny of the 24/7 News Cycle

The pressure of reality: What a wonderfully powerful phrase. And connecting the words of poet Wallace Stevens to the ‘tyranny’ of the omniscient, ubiquitous 24/7 news is brilliant. Let me explain. Recently, a good friend asked my opinion on the ongoing debates about Obamacare, the performance of the President with a couple of specific questions regarding recent events in the administration of the man who many regard as crazed, Donald Trump. My friend was especially interested in what I had to say about health policy since I’d spent a career in academic medicine. I told him that I could answer […]
June 25, 2017

Could You Do That? Sacrifice Yourself?

“Could you do that?” The implication of the question: “Could you sacrifice yourself? My friend and I were watching the recently released film, Megan Leavey and were asking one another if we could lead a platoon of marines as they crossed an IED riddled land which looks like the face of the moon: Afghanistan. The true story of a woman who becomes a marine because she had nothing better to do at the time was compelling from the first time I heard of it. And then when I cried through the trailer preview of the tale of Megan and her military war […]
June 18, 2017

Got A Minute? To Figure Out What to Do With the Rest of Your Life?

Got a minute? Figuring out what to do with the rest of our lives shouldn’t be difficult, right? And yet, we know scores of people who feel trapped in a dead-end job or loveless marriage or say they have no reason to get out of bed in the mornings. Keep reading and you’ll find that the term got a minute  will be used in a way you have never considered. One of my hobbies in my spare time is thinking about, and therefore writing about happiness, or more accurately unhappiness. I’m not alone because hundreds maybe thousands of blogs, articles […]
June 11, 2017

The Shack: Valuable Lessons About Opinion

The Shack: valuable lessons about opinion I read The Shack several years ago. And did not watch the movie until just a few days ago.  Reactions to the movie, like the book, vary widely. There were those who complained about a God portrayed by an overweight black woman and others that the script was far too confusing to follow. Among Christians too, the debates about author William Young’s theology (or lack of it) varied: Trite, Icky and manipulative, are a mere sampling of the hundreds of opinions about Young’s book and the recent movie with Octavia Spencer as ‘Papa.’ Paul […]
June 5, 2017

Remember Medical Mystery Thriller, Do You Solemnly Swear?

I told Mark Kamish that his interpretation of the characters in Do You Solemnly Swear? A Nation of Law- The Dark Side was superb. I’ve now listened to about 30 minutes of a story that feels new. Mark is close to completing his narrative interpretation of Gabe McAllister, Lindsey McCall, Rich Janson and the other cast of characters appearing in Do You Solemnly Swear? The audio book will be available in a few weeks. And I am curious to hear what you all think. Here is Mark’s interpretation of Chapter 3:  Click below -it’s about 9 minutes long. Mark Kamish has had […]
May 28, 2017

Medjugorje, A Perplexing Pilgrimage

Medjugorje, A Perplexing Pilgrimage. In 2003, I traveled alone across the world to Medjugorje, a perplexing pilgrimage. But first some background. The apparitions of the Virgin Mary to six young visionaries beginning in 1981 ignited a storm of controversy and persecution.  Thirty-six years later, questions remain unanswered to the satisfaction of skeptical Catholic and secular minds. Are these visions real? Can the messages be believed? Is it possible that the Virgin Mary would ‘make appointments’ and then keep them? In 1981, the area now known as Bosnia-Herzegovina was called Yugoslavia and tenuously under the control of Communist Russia. President Tito […]
May 14, 2017

Mud Cookies: Imagine Feeding Your Kids Some?

“When there is no food for three or four days, the children cry from the pain. So I make them mud cookies to fill up their stomachs.” The missionary priest, Monsignor Patrick Marron from Food for the Poor, quoted a woman living in a village of about two hundred people about 20 miles from Port Au Prince, the capital of Haiti. Monsignor Marron ‘retired’ from his diocese of San Antonio and decided to serve as a missionary priest for Food the Poor. Father Marron needed to understand more about how these people live to speak about poverty which boggles the […]
May 7, 2017

If You Are Unhappy and —-It’s Your Fault

Do an online search of the most popular topics for blog posts and you’ll find happiness to be among the top ten. But that isn’t the way to conceive of happiness. We need to change our way of thinking about happiness by coming at it through the back door and talk about unhappiness. By approaching it directly, we push it further away.  Therein lies the key. We should ask this question instead, “Why do we decide to be unhappy?” By default, I am an expert on the subject of unhappiness. There were two women in my life who taught me […]
April 23, 2017

The West Ablaze- With Wildflowers

The west is ablaze. The wildflowers in California are ablaze with wildflowers, not with wildfires but flowers. The blooms along the west coast are so intense they can be seen from space! But the long drought is also over in the nearby high desert of the Pinion mountains of northern Nevada. Around seven on Friday morning, the dogs and I hiked up the mountain trail a few hundred yards behind our home. It had been several weeks since we had last climbed the path. Consequently, the fragrance of the sage, the rarely seen Indian Brush hiding behind the sage were unexpected […]
April 15, 2017

The Anguish of an Absence

The anguish of an absence It is with increasing insistence that God is said to be dead today. The first time it was said, in Jean Paul, it was just a nightmarish dream: Jesus who is dead proclaims to the dead from the rooftops of the world that when he journeyed to the beyond he found nothing, no heaven, no merciful God, just infinite nothingness, the silence of the gaping void. It is still a horrible dream which is pushed to one side, wailing away in the waking hours, as a dream does, although the anguish it inflicts can never […]
April 9, 2017

Silence: Apostacy, Jesuit Priests, 17th Century Japan

Last December, the movie Silence opened to a conflicting maze of reviews. Some greatly praising the film and others exceedingly critical of the tale of the ‘apostate Jesuit priests’ of seventeenth century Japan. I watched it three days ago and am still pondering its meaning. The film is gripping and relentless. Both intensity and portent are conveyed instantly for viewers like me who never read Endo’s novel and ignorant of the history and political landscape in seventeenth century Japan. A brief background of Japanese history and politics is essential to understanding this film. Jesuit priest and missionary Frances Xavier brought […]
March 26, 2017

Conclave- Robert Harris’ New Novel of Power and Intrigue

Conclave is the best of Robert Harris’ novels, high praise because Harris is an excellent writer of historical fiction. Each of his books reveals the writer’s journalistic background: Rich in detail and imagery, Harris’ extensive research for each story is evident. Conclave is all of that but much more. This story is riveting, sympathetic and tender: qualities which are rare in this culture of belligerence and presumption. Most especially when the subject is a societal lightning rod like the Catholic Church. Harris’ characters feel substantial, they take on flesh and bones to the point where the reader can visualize each […]
March 19, 2017

The Prodigal Son Or the Older Brother?

For converts like me, the story of the prodigal son evokes a tsunami of emotion: gratitude, relief, sorrow and recognition are only a few. But upon reflecting on the well-known parable that Jesus tells the complaining Pharisees and scribes, I began to think about the older brother with an entirely different lens. Rather than my usual judgement about the his selfishness and cheerlessness upon the return of his lost brother, I wondered if the point of Christ’s story was that older brother. And I had completely missed it in all the years of my identification with the rebellious and stupid […]
December 17, 2017

Malthus Revisited

Here is the final teaser for Malthus Revisited, now available for purchase at Amazon and edited by Laura, my new editor and writing partner: Eighteen-year-old Morgan Gardner did not seem like someone who could save the world—unless you took the time to notice her eyes. And most people didn’t. Morgan’s exceptional gifts were known only to her and to the animals she could understand better than people. For a long time, she told no one about her nightmares. Embarrassed and afraid that no one would believe her, Morgan waited until it was almost too late. Then she confided in her […]
December 31, 2017

Solitude: As Critical As Food

Solitude. To some, the word means loneliness, a desperate and solitary state. To others, withdrawing from crowds, conversation and activity can feel as necessary as food. While searching for an image that conveys my current understanding of the concept of solitude, it seemed  the majority of them depicted miserably lonely men and women. While just a few revealed joyous lone individuals amidst a forest or beach. Which is it? Is the solitary state something to dread or embrace? There have been times in my life that my new solitude broke my heart as I learned and relearned the art of […]
January 14, 2018

Princess Cruise, Being Home and Another Character Interview

  This post is more like a newsletter: three brief pieces on our princess cruise, the joy of being back home and another character interview. Our last stop on the cruise was Lahaina, Maui is quaint, quiet, beautiful. At least until the tourists on the cruise ships wake up and crowd the small town. Since John and I arrived on the 1st tender at 8:30 in the morning, we got a chance to get a sense of the peace of the place. We bought a cup of splendid cup of Kona coffee at a local store and wandered through Banyan […]
January 21, 2018

Darkest Hour-Movie, Author Interview

  Author interviews, why do them? I read they are an excellent marketing tool for authors who sell less than hundreds of thousands of their books. Like me. This latest one had some unusual questions, consequently, replying to them was an intriguing exercise for me. More on that in a few minutes. First, the latest WW ll movie: The Darkest Hour. It’s even better than the reviews- most of them anyway. Gary Oldman is brilliant. The screenplay riveting and enough details of those desperate days to make us awestruck as we view and hear just how close Great Britain came […]