Blog

August 23, 2020

Karol Wojtyla and The Sign of Contradiction-Can These Bones Live?

He fascinates me, this Karol Wojtyla and the sign of contradiction- this man who shocked the world to become the first Polish Pope:  This was so long before I had any inkling that I would become a Christian Catholic. With ease I can recall vividly my reaction to an article in Harper’s Magazine. In an article she called, Arguing With the Pope journalist Barbara Harrison wrote about Pope John Paul’s trip to Denver in August of 1993 for what the Pope called the eighth, World Youth Day. I remember little more than my complete sense of bafflement that a man […]
August 9, 2020

Reflections on The Lincoln Conspiracy

Reflections on The Lincoln Conspiracy There’s a secret on this train. With their first sentence, Brad Meltzer and Josh Mensch had me captivated. In fact, I could barely put the book down, the story was so engrossing. Complete with the world’s first detective agency, first female detective, undercover cops and crooked Police Chiefs, The Lincoln Conspiracy rivals a Grisham, Connelly, or Lee Child mystery. One reviewer calls it a first-rate nonfiction thriller. Indeed, that it is. Here’s my favorite review: Think you know everything about Abraham Lincoln? Well, think again. The Lincoln Conspiracy not only revitalizes history, it transforms it, turning its […]
August 2, 2020

The Tale Seldom Heard About Martha’s Faith

The tale seldom heard about Martha’s faith The three siblings are well known: Lazarus-the man who is raised from the dead, and his two sisters are close friends of Jesus. So close is the family to Jesus that He goes to dine with them. Martha is remonstrating Christ, “If you had been here, my brother would not have died!” We hear only from the two sisters, Mary and Martha, who are compared frequently, usually with Martha as inferior, at least spiritually, in the earlier part of this tale. Lazarus is silent. Focused on the work of welcoming and feeding Jesus […]
July 26, 2020

Mary Called Magdalene: A Portrait (Originally written on July 21 2019)

Mary Called Magdalene is a woman alternately thought to be prostitute, mystic, secret lover of Jesus, and the apostle who reached higher levels than did any of the male apostles. Throughout the ages, Mary beckons both believers and non. Her relationship with Jesus is a curious one, implying an intimacy that our age can conceive of only as sexual…think Sarah Brightman’s I Don’t Know How to Love Him. While at the Baptistery in Florence several years ago, my husband John and I saw Donatello’s wood sculpture of Mary, Called Magdalene. The sculpture of Mary Magdalene is a study in human […]
July 19, 2020

Sanctify The Mess: Relearning Old Lessons

Ever had a week that looked like this? Several days during this past week seemed, virtually anyway, like a humongous pile of dirty dishes that kept replenishing themselves, independent of me. Meaning that my productive intentions for the day were cast aside and piling up. That there was very good reason for my lack of productivity did not help-the fact remains that I’m behind. Way behind. By now-the middle of July- I should be writing like crazy, clear about the plot and direction of my newest book, Plausible Liars, but I am so far from that destination that I am returning […]
July 12, 2020

Our Real Poverty-Not Knowing What We Lack

Real Poverty-Not knowing what we lack. We hear the phrase a lot: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.” And most of us are more or less aware that St. Mark qualifies St. Luke’s with two words: “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” Until hearing this morning’s EWTN daily mass and homily by Fr. Mark Mary, I’d not given any thought to the qualifier, “poor in spirit.” When hearing that beatitude, my mind almost automatically interpreted the words of Christ to mean material poverty: the poor have far more chance of making heaven than […]
July 5, 2020

I Will Be Lowly in Your Esteem-Lessons from King David

I will be lowly in your esteem-Lessons from King David Filled with awe, wonder and the wisdom of God, the Israeli king, “girt with a linen apron, came dancing before the Lord with abandon, as he and all the Israelites were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouts of joy and to the sound of the horn. As the ark of the Lord was entering the City of David, Saul’s daughter, Michal looked down from the window and saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord and despised him in her heart…He then distributed to each man […]
June 28, 2020

The Most Powerful Force in the World: The Human Will

The Most Powerful Force in the world is not thought to be the human will, not by a long shot. Maybe an earthquake? Or hurricane? Tornado? But the human will? A resounding YES! Only we-of all His creatures-have the capacity to deny the Creator Of this world. Of this universe. Of all universes known and wholly unknown. Only human men and women have the capacity to refute our nature as sons and daughters of God. To deny the divinity of Jesus Christ. To walk away from salvation and Eternal Life. Because I think about Eden-right, the Garden of- a lot, […]
June 21, 2020

We Will Never Change the Outside Until We Change Within.

We will never change the outside until we change within. This is a phrase used by Ravi Zacharias in a talk given at the Mormon Temple in 2017. It was my husband who introduced me to the Indian Christian apologist. After hearing just one riveting talk, I was hooked. And then proceeded to read many of his over thirty books and listen to countless presentations similar to the one I write about today. In this excellent presentation, Ravi teaches me, albeit inadvertently: The ease with which we can be seduced into the wrong judgement of another. About the extreme dangers […]
June 14, 2020

The Labor of Obedience

The labor of obedience: For many years, the word obedience served as lightning rod to me. The concept connoted all that I disliked about being female: Powerlessness, submissiveness, conformance, passivity and the like.  Feminism offered no solution other than to blame men for whatever ailed me and adopt the role of victim…seeking comfort in our culture of euphemisms. But then I became a Christian Catholic and a few years later, an Oblate of St. Benedict. And that word, like so many others in the vocabulary of faith became something I embraced; at times admittedly with gritted teeth. And I began […]
June 7, 2020

A story from the past and the disintegration of America’s rule of law.

A story from the past and the disintegration of America’s rule of law. The disintegration of America’s rule of law. Huh? Our nation, government, culture and social fabric are all based on the rule of law, are you sure you mean this statement? Indeed, I am. There are three primary reasons: Personal experience (a story from the past.) Irrational expectations of rules, laws and the state. Absence of moral framework . “I’m never picking cotton again!” Terry and I were sitting at TJ’s, the bar across from Columbia Presbyterian Hospital where he was a twenty-six-year-old fourth year medical student at […]
May 31, 2020

The Advocate Will Teach You All Things

The advocate The words are Christ’s, said prior to the horrors he would shortly face-horrors that the disciples had no understanding of. Nor do we. We Christians hear those words frequently in the liturgy preceding Pentecost. But until recently, I had never considered the Holy Spirit-Holy Ghost- as a lawyer. But that is the meaning of the word advocate, is it not? “I will send you an advocate and He will teach you all things.” To whom is the Lord speaking when He makes this promise? To His Disciples and Apostles, we reply automatically. But to the rest of humanity, […]
May 24, 2020

Making A Gift of Our Wounds

Making a gift of our wounds “Making a gift of our wounds” is a most peculiar phrase for a piece on Ascension Sunday. Had I not listened to Father John Paul Mary’s homily on the EWTN daily mass this past Thursday, the phrase would never have occurred to me. But the more I ponder the words of the priest, the more I understand. A brief aside-until the churches closed, neither my husband nor I had never participated in a television mass or heard of the Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word. Now a day without these Friars and their sacraments […]
May 17, 2020

Health is Boring-Disease is Sexy: Lessons from the Media

“Health is boring, disease is sexy.” I said this to a CNN producer who was ‘vetting’ me to see if I’d be good fodder for a weekend interview. I’m a writer. Like most other writers, I want people to read what I write. Like most of us, I write about what interests me, often using my own experience and mistakes to help others think about . When I switched from non-fiction to fiction, I knew I needed help getting known therefore hired a publicist to promote my first novel. Because of my background and experience, the publicist achieved quite a media frenzy […]
May 10, 2020

The Passion of Patience

It’s a peculiar phrase: “the passion of patience.” Almost oxymoronic- in its combining the vigor of the heft-filled word passion with the passivity neutrality of patience, it was coined by Venerable Madeleine Debrel. A former atheist turned Catholic apologist who lived and died during the last century. Her poem The Passion of Patience begins with this searing line: The patiences, these little pieces of passion, whose job is to kill us slowly for your glory, to kill us without our glory… Debrel’s words apply a wholly different twist to that seemingly inert noun patience, don’t they? Especially during these fear-filled […]
May 3, 2020

Ever Think About Eden- Whether it was a real place?

Ever think about Eden-whether it was a real place? I do. Not daily but frequently enough that I write about it. And it is almost always at this time of the year, when I go outside to our gazebo and gaze at the stream pictured above. The stream in the middle of the desert. Ever think about Eden-whether it was a real place? Yes, of course, don’t you? Extraordinary creatures like these Western Tanagers and Bullock Orioles magically appear at the grape jelly and meal worm mixtures I have learned to offer each early spring. They are back!! The beauty […]
April 26, 2020

Why Did You Become Catholic?

Why did you become Catholic? In the twenty some years since my conversion, I’ve been asked this question countless times. Therefore should not have been surprised when she asked it. But I was. I was speaking with a friend whom I have not seen since I left Houston and my job in the Texas Medical Center. My last clear memory of her was our presence with another friend at a cocktail party for top financial supporters to Planned Parenthood and Emily’s List. Like the three of us. I called Claire because she and her husband Gary are TMC pediatricians (I’ve […]
April 19, 2020

Go Tell Them How Much I Love Them

Go tell them how much I love them. Being quarantined, locked in, sheltering in place can have consequences. Fears that we can risk only brief trips outside the safety of our homes, and then do so only when gloved and masked might shake us up enough to erode certainties. Dread of infection and death make our vulnerabilities painfully present each time we look up the rising number of cases in our county. All of these can coalesce and tear away our carefully constructed images of our world and ourselves. Maybe. If you talk with writers about the primary source of […]
April 12, 2020

The Immensity of Sin-His Real Suffering

The Immensity of Sin- His Real Suffering It is impossible to look upon the image of this tortured, disfigured image of the Messiah- the Son of God- without grimacing, blinking, wanting to gaze anywhere but at that. At the visual reenactment of His Passion, we are sickened and horrified. So much so that many of us have removed it from our crosses, altars and churches. This is too depressing, we should focus on his resurrection, we tell ourselves. Even St. Paul tells us that if he had not risen…then our faith is in vain. Conveniently overlooking St. Paul’s single refrain, […]
April 5, 2020

Fear And Faith Intertwine

Fear and faith Intertwine. The two seem to coexist.  Even before His birth, Jesus galvanized anxiety- in His virginal mother and just and righteous adoptive father. The decision of God the Father to send the Word- His Son- in that way and precise manner consumes lifetimes of reflection. And still we barely scratch the surface. Many of the things that are happening today would never have happened if we had been living in that longing, that disquiet of heart which comes when we are faced with God, and when we look clearly at things as they really are. If we […]
March 29, 2020

Tertullian and our dog Seymour

Tertullian and our dog Seymour Tertullian and our Dog Seymour All the angels pray. Every creature prays. Cattle and wild beasts pray and bend the knee. As they come from their barns and caves they look up to heaven and call out, lifting up their spirit in their own fashion. The birds too rise and lift themselves up to heaven: they open out their wings, instead of hands, in the form of a cross and give voice to what seems to be a prayer. What more need be said on the duty of prayer? Even the Lord himself prayed. To […]
September 28, 2014

The Divine Symphony

The phrase ‘divine symphony’ was coined by a naturalist, whose name I cannot recall, who studies the effects of clearing the forest in order to diminish the danger of fires. This unnamed researcher audio-taped the sounds before the clearing and after. The effects were both stunning and upsetting: what was a cacophony of sound prior to the removal of every other tree became nearly silence following the actions of the Forest Service. His point? So much of the time, what seems reasonable and ‘natural’ to us can have inimical effects upon the very world we here trying to protect; hence […]
March 13, 2015

Trust and Faith-Aren’t They The Same Thing?

Can we have trust in a person, event or object without faith? These two concepts are most commonly used in the religious context when we are speaking, thinking and writing about them; almost always we do so with a great attention to the ‘mystery’ of trust or the ‘blindness’ of faith. And yet, each day, as we go about our lives the two words are foundational to each of our most mundane activities, especially those of the most secular and profane. We arise each day, armed with a long list of persons, events and objects in which we have invested […]
April 7, 2015

McFarland USA: An Allegory for Our Lives

It’s been a week since I saw McFarland, USA but still within the first five minutes of talking with friends, I find myself exhorting him or her to see this movie. The film is an allegory for our lives, here is why: 
May 13, 2015

Late Spring in High Desert

Anyone living in the west is well acquainted with drought, wildfires and extreme battles over water. This past winter was dry, snow was scarce  therefore worsening the fears about drought but several storms this late spring have brought welcome water and snow to the high Sierra mountains and California coast. Perhaps because of the turbulent weather, we have seen a profusion of spectacular birds unlike other years. Each spring, I work to attract the Orioles with special food. Remarkably these birds migrate from the southern tip of Mexico to breed here in the Sierra mountains each year. Always, I am […]