Blog

July 17, 2022

The Movie Freedom: The Heroic Story of Slavery in America and England

The movie Freedom: the heroic story of slavery in America and England. Once again, the article I’d written for today sits in draft form waiting completion. A good thing since I’ve still got a couple of books and articles to finish before finishing the piece. So why did my watching the movie Freedom eclipse what I was working on? After watching Cuba Gooding Jr’s excellent perfomance in his 2014 movie Freedom, I felt impelled to tell you about it. John and I discovered this film only because we subscribe to Pureflix, an alternative to Netflix. I learned about Pureflix from […]
July 10, 2022

Prayer: Discipline, Practice or Conversation?

Prayer: Discipline, Practice or Conversation? Prayer is all those things: discipline, practice and conversation—and more. It’s discipline because prayer requires some type of regularity. Eventually habit kicks in and the consequent sense of unease when left undone. For me, even the habit is insufficient but more on that later. Of course, practice applies as verb and noun: the more we practice prayer, the more proficient-prayer begins to feel right. And prayer as noun is a practice in the same sense that medicine and writing are practices—doctors, the good ones, are always learning. As are writers. And yes, prayer is a […]
July 3, 2022

Religion Begins with Experience

Religion begins with experience Religion does not start out with the notion of God. It starts with a personal experience, the overwhelming experience of ultimate belonging. Religion of the Heart On the wall of the bathroom off the foyer in our new—to us— Texas home hangs a frame with two pictures side by side. They reveal two views of a snowy cross-country skiing mountain path in Banff , Canada. The photograph on the right shows a mountain stream, with snow-covered rocks. If I squint and use my imagination, I can see the image of a solitary bird. Pretty. Even arresting […]
June 26, 2022

Father of Prochoice: Dr. Bernard Nathanson

Father of Prochoice: Dr. Bernard Nathanson Reading three books The Hand of God, Aborting America and Pillar of Fire is a bit much for a 2000 word article. Even for me. But when my friend Mary sent me an article called, “How Chuck Colson Thought Abortion Would End,” the weekly article I’d intended for today slid to the back burner. Dr. Nathanson was the catalyst for my coming out against abortion. Years ago, I was the Hospital Director at UMASS Medical Center and a brand new Christian Catholic. When asked by a third-year-medical student to attend a panel discussion-debate on […]
June 19, 2022

June: The Month of Graduation Speeches

It’s June: the month of graduation speeches Over my professional life, I have come to the realization that history is not a fixed thing, a collection of precise dates, facts and events, but a mysterious and malleable thing, constantly changing, not just as new information emerges, but as our own interests, emotions and inclinations change. Each generation rediscovers and reexamines that part of its past that gives its present new meaning and new possibility. The question becomes for us now—for you graduates especially—what will we choose as our inspiration? Ken Burns Universityof Pennslyvania Commencement The goal of a graduation address […]
June 12, 2022

Time: Ordinary and Otherwise

Time: Ordinary and otherwise Time. It’s kind of like breath, or air, or water. We consume them as we do all commodities, thinking we have all we need, all the time in the world. Until suddenly, we don’t. Maybe because of serious illness when I was four, time has always felt like gift to me. And perhaps those multiple emergency trips to the operating room brought an unusual acquaintance with death. Hence wasting time and boredom are anathema. In fact, not infrequently I write of the inimical effects of boredom and wince when hearing someone say, “Let’s kill time by […]
June 5, 2022

People Don’t Change Their Minds

People don’t change their minds The simmering Roe Vs Wade controversy is now a rolling boil. The catalyst? The powerfully written prose with which Archbishop Cordelione explained Speaker Pelosi’s prohibition from the Eucharist. Until she changes her aggressive stand on abortion as a right and good for women. Nancy Pelosi’s response makes me wonder if she even read Cordelione’s document since she treats the dispute as another family disagreement. Clearly, she considers this as one of a list of policy disputes she has with him, rather than a portent of eternal life or death. “Now our archbishop has been vehemently […]
May 29, 2022

Detachment: Essential Tool for Sanity

Detachment: Essential tool for sanity What do we do when faced with human heartache? Fr. Derek Sakowski asks the question in a recent article called Fixing vs Facing. So think about it for a minute or three. How do you react while watching or reading the report of the latest horrors in the Russian Ukrainian war? Or the firing of renowned Princeton classics professor Joshua Katz for defending truth and refusing to cow to the “narrative?” How about the latest school shooting where the teen shooter manages to take twenty-one lives before losing his own? And the— it seems, obligatory […]
May 22, 2022

In Praise of Work- The Christian in the World

In praise of work- The Christian in the world. If the title seems peculiar, particularly the correlation between praising work with the Christian in the world, by the end of this piece, I hope you’ll see the association between work and Christians living in the world. “So Lin, what will you do when you retire?” My friend Steve, then an intensivist at the Texas Medical Center where we both worked, knew my answer. He just wanted to see what happened when I said what I always did: That I never wanted to retire in front of the group of burned […]
May 15, 2022

We Have No Right to Happiness: Last Words of CS Lewis

We have no right to happiness: Last words of CS Lewis Right, it’s the title of the last article CS Lewis penned before he died. I’ll admit his statement consititutes a 180 for me since I have written numerous times about happiness—what I think is entailed to be happy. And more recently, thoughts that achieving happiness have more to do with avoiding unhappiness (the last I don’t think Mr. Lewis would disagree with.) Lewis begins his last written words this way: “After all,” said Clare. “they had a right to happiness.” We were discussing something that once happened in our […]
May 8, 2022

Listen Carefully My Child: The Labor of Obedience

Listen carefully my child, Listen carefully, my son, to the master’s precepts, and incline the ear of your heart. Receive willingly and carry out effectively your loving father’s advice, that by the labor of obedience you may return to him from whom you departed by the sloth of disobedience. To you therefore, my words are addressed, whoever you maybe, who are renouncing your own will to do battle under the Lord Christ and are taking up the strong, bright weapons of obedience. And first of all, whatever good work you begin to do you must beg of him to perfect […]
May 1, 2022

Forgiveness, Ignorance and Redemption

Forgiveness, ignorance and redemption We pray it every day. “…Forgive us as we forgive those who…” But too often, the routinized words fall from my lips and disappear into the petty details of the day’s tasks. I know well the essential correlation between forgiveness and redemption in my own life and therefore I’ve written about its essential components. Like the truth that forgiving ourselves is the first step in spiritual growth. And that the act of forgiveness can function as a razors edge. Until the last couple of weeks, however, I’d not considered the essential correlation of forgiveness, ignorance and […]
April 24, 2022

A Little Spark Gives Way to a Great Fire

A little spark gives way to a great fire. I’ve known forever that I should read Dante’s Divine Comedy. After all, it’s one of the most famed of all literary writings. Hence we should all have at least a nodding acquaintance with the Inferno and Purgatoria, perhaps even Paradisio, right? But yet I managed to avoid reading it in undergraduate English classes. After all, I was an atheist, why would I want to read about hell, purgartory and heaven? Much later, after converting to Catholic Christianity, I made a few perfunctory attempts to read the epic poem. But it was […]
April 17, 2022

How Do I Pay for All the Blessings? Father Stu, the Movie

Father Stu, the movie How do I pay for all the blessings? It’s a question all of us ask, or should. But the phrase is Mark Wahlburg’s explanation for what he calls his “passion project,” the film Father Stu. Coarse, raw, and at times, vulgar, this movie is ideally suited for Holy Week and today, Resurrection Day. But it takes a while to understand this. The true story (Biopic, in Hollywood parlance) is that of Stuart Long, a former Montana boxer who moves to Hollywood to be discovered as an actor. Wahlburg’s Stu is obnoxious. And so is his father […]
April 10, 2022

He rides into Jerusalem: Palm Sunday

He rides into Jerusalem He rides into Jerusalem amidst lavish, unrestrained, almost unanimous exaltation. Slowly-on the colt of a donkey. So many details here, in this story. Why a colt? So that a fully grown adult male on the colt prefigures the excruciating burden He will soon carry? To assure that these faces, now adoring, soon to turn vicious as they scream, “Crucify Him!”,  to the ones who know His innocence, perhaps even sense that “Something greater than Solomon  is here” but who lack the courage to defy the mob and confess the Truth that stands before them can see […]
April 3, 2022

Lenten Greetings from Texas: Have A Joyous Lent

Lenten Greetings from Texas Right, after twenty years in the west: eighteen in Nevada and a year and a half in California, we’ve moved to Texas. Precisely like every other major event in my life, this was not in the plan but an astonishing surprise, because, for me, it feels like returning home to Texas. A couple of essays ago, I alluded to “huge aliquots of chaos” in my life, meaning that selling the California place and buying this lovely oasis in the Texas Hill Country was, as you may imagine, not without it’s trials-some of which felt overwhelming. And […]
March 27, 2022

Most of Us Are Settling for Bette Midler’s God.

Most of us are 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. Fr. Chris Kanowitz, smiled at the cognitive dissonance apparent in the expressions of each of us seated in front of him at that Thursday’s daily Mass. A newly ordained priest, he’d gotten the reaction he wanted: we woke up. Although it’s been close to five years since Fr. Chris grabbed and held the attention of everyone of us, I’ve […]
March 20, 2022

Our Citizenship is in Heaven

Our Citizenship is in Heaven Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,Nor have entered into the heart of manThe things which God has prepared for those who love Him. “Think on these things folks as we slog through Lent. Our citizenship is in heaven, ” said Bishop Barron in last week’s splendid homily on the Transfiguration of Christ, “Awaiting Resurrection.” It’s curious, isn’t it that the Church places the Transfiguration of Christ immediately after the temptations of Christ? But this year, I’m extraordinarily grateful because it really does feel as if I am “slogging through Lent.” And need reminders of […]
March 13, 2022

Best Way to Disempower Evil: Look at it, See It

Best way to disempower evil: Look at it Bishop Robert Barron’s sermon for the first Sunday of Lent- Three Levels of Temptation– is on St. Luke’s account of the temptations of Christ in the desert. Within the first few minutes of his homily, he says, “The best way to disempower evil: to look at it, to see it.” The declaration is a simple one. We could even say it’s self-evident. And yet, the baldness of those six words sears, pierces, plunges. Hence impelling this piece because the corollary is also evident: we empower evil by refusing to look at it. […]
March 6, 2022

Sacrifice: Brought to the Citizens of the World in Real Time

Sacrifice: Brought to the Citizens of the World in Real Time For the ten days, President Vlodomyr Zalensky has acted as David to the Goliath Russian President Putin. But this is not theatre. No, this is sacrifice: brought to the citizens of the world in real time. I must confess that prior to this week, I considered the seemingly endless conflict in the Ukraine just another of the tribal skirmishes we see all over the world: Sudan, Yemen, Syria, Nigeria, Chinese Christians, and here as well, if we bother to reduce the arguments to the fundamentals. And President Zalensky? I […]
February 27, 2022

No Man Can Tame the Tongue

No man can tame the tongue I should probably title this one “Part Two” because it’s inadvertently a continuation of the article that posted last Sunday on the epistle of James. The daily reading for Saturday February 19th’s Christian liturgy was again, St. James. The phrase, “No man can tame the tongue” shouted at me. And impelled this second article on the gospel book Fr. Alphonse calls the most readable and practical of all the books in the New Testament. …In the same way the tongue is a small memberand yet has great pretensions. Consider how small a fire can […]
November 7, 2014

Thinking About Camino

  Until about five, maybe six years ago, I had never heard of the Camino de Santiago, the Way of St. James. For over 1200 years, pilgrims have been  walking the Camino Frances or one of its many less populated variations: A 500 mile path from St. Pied du Port in France to Santiago, Spain where the apostle James is buried. There are many paths but the most popular is this 500 mile trek most people make in 30 to 35 days with daily hikes of between eight to ten miles per day. My good friend told me about a […]
November 9, 2015

The Battle Over Health

The battle over health: Health is a word which should not invoke military imagery like war or battle. And yet the lines have been drawn with stakes which have seldom been greater. Many decades ago the wars began, the war against heart disease, the war against cancer, naming only a few. With the introduction of Medicare during the Johnson administration, the United States government entered the world of medicine with guns blazing. Each successive President added his personal touch: Carter empowering the originally weak and ineffective Federal Drug Administration, Reagan passing the Bayh-Dole Act which introduced the ability to declare […]
January 18, 2016

Number 12- Brady

Number 12 Brady A friend from church decided to give me Brady’s Pro Ball 2014 shirt several weeks ago. The shirt sits on proud display in our hallway to be brought out when a friend with an interest in football visits. Or sometimes those with no interest. Joe , giver of the shirt, joined us for one of the Patriot playoff games a few years ago and while watching the game, I explained the reasons I admired the guy. Joe agreed and was interested in a book about Brady’s background so I gave Joe a biography written about him following […]
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 […]