Monday, May 30, 2022

On Decoration Day


As May was ending and warm sun of a blue-sky afternoon was yearning to put an end to spring and acknowledge summer’s advent, my grandmother and her sisters would talk about Decoration Day.  A strange term it seemed to me is what I thought as a young child.  Perhaps it was the day to take down the heavy winter drapes and replace them with the lace curtains of summer?

But I learned it was a day when people would decorate cemeteries with flags to remember the fallen. 

My grandmother and her sisters did not lose anyone in the terrible World War (the one we now call the First) nor in the second planet-wide conflict a generation later.  Our family had no graves to decorate on Decoration Day.

So, for me, I recall it a quiet day.  No school.  No work.  Just a quiet late spring day.

Quiet like the silence of the fallen.  No longer do they speak or laugh or shout with glee.  Those who knew them only keep their voices alive in their memories.  But to the rest of us, only their silent memory remains.

Today, Decoration Day, for me is the Day of the Silent.



Saturday, August 18, 2018

More Instances of Evil in the Catholic Church

The recent news about evil within the Catholic Church is something I need to speak out about.

First, many say how can one remain a Catholic in light of such evil by priests and the failure of the hierarchy to address these evil acts.  To that I say that many don’t understand what faith and “being part of the Church means.”  Faith does not come from the institutional church or the hierarchy. Faith is a free gift from G-d.  The true meaning of “the Church” is the assembly of the believers, NOT the hierarchy institutional church.  The purpose of pastors, bishops and others in formal roles in the intuitional church is to be faithful servants.  Their authority only exists to the extent they remain faithful servants.  When they fail, they are not the true Church.  But the faithful believers remain the true Church even when the hierarchy fails.

In this regard, these evil acts and failures to act do not shake my faith or beliefs.  I see clearly that evil represents grievous offences before G-d.  And the Church is my Church and NOT that of the hierarchy and priests that failed their duties to G-d and the people of the Church.

Second, the acts of sexual abuse are mortal sins, grievous offences against G-d and G-d’s people.  Only once have I heard a priest or other official of the Church use the term “sin,“ which is accurate, not some lesser term like “failing’ or “lax” or some other term that diminishes the seriousness of the sin.  Once discovered, it was the duty of the hierarchy to realize the sins, and the life-long devastation it has caused to G-d’s little ones. 

The hierarchy then failed to take proper action.  The Act of Contrition speaks of “avoiding the near occasion of sin.”  The hierarchy needed to realize that the only way to keep pedophile priests away “the near occasion of sin” was to remove them from ministry and from any contact with minors. And that their priests need to turn themselves over to civil authorities to faces the due punishment for the civil crimes they committed. This is the correct action that anyone familiar with the old Baltimore Catechism would have realized.

At this point, if the institutional church can’t regulate itself, there needs to be at least an oversite board that investigates and takes proper actions:

  1. All pedophile priests and others who committed sexual abuse must be immediately removed from ministry and “de-frocked”.
  2. They must turn themselves over to civil authorities and be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
  3. Ditto for all in authority who failed to act or covered it up or took improper actions (e.g., moving around priests to other parishes)
  4. The investigations and prosecutions must extend up the chain to the Vatican if that’s where the trail leads.
  5. States should revise laws to extend the Statute of Limitations to ensure prosecution of offenders


  1. The Institutional Church must determine the root causes.  Is the vow of chastity unsustainable?  Frankly, testosterone is a power drug, and can drive a boy or man to think of and perhaps act on desires that should be curbed.  Having lived with both testosterone and estrogen flowing through me, I especially can testify to the power of the male hormone.  I have come to believe that most men should have the opportunity to express their sexual desires in a loving consensual relationship.  To be a faithful servant and a man, frankly one should not be fighting the unnatural battle that can accompany chastity.  Change needs to be considered.
  2. There remains a need for oversight and transparency.  We don’t need to know all the minor sins of those in ministry.  But where there is serious sin – such as abuse – it must be called out, put in the spotlight of truth, and appropriate actions taken as I described above.  If we can’t trust the institutional church and hierarchy to perform this role, perhaps a lay oversight role needs to be created.


  • The acts of abuse are mortal sins and serious crimes and full prosecution and removal from ministry is necessary.
  • The hierarchy that failed also needs to be removed from positions of authority and prosecuted where there is a basis for that.
  • The failure to take appropriate actions undermines the moral authority of the institutional church. 
  • The believers have a faith that comes from G-d and not the intuitional church or hierarchy that have failed to protect the vulnerable, G-d’s little ones.  

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Grief in Florida

Where does one begin to describe the grief in Florida, where, yet again, evil intent in a man's heart rips again the fragile vale that separates this domain of the living where we dwell and the domain of death?  Lives lost.  Grief unreconciled.  

We've seen evidence of the carnage caused by this evil, sometimes in the hearts of misguided religious fanatics, sometimes in the hearts of others some with serious mental health issues, and others whose motives remain unknown.  In all cases, the evil consumes lives:  lives ended all too soon.  

And the grief spreads.  To families, to friends, to neighbors, colleagues, acquaintances, and those who hear the news.  Are we even at a point when virtually anyone in this land can name someone who died in a mass killing?

Will these horrors go on forever?  Can they be prevented?

Some point to a failure of the FBI to act on information about this perpetrator.  Some point to the need for more security.  Some point to gun control.  In many cases, there may not be definitive actionable information beforehand.  And in most schools there is a good degree of security, but short of armed troupes, could any security stop a well-armed intruder?

Perhaps, 20 to 30 years ago, the political climate allowed politicians to propose and enact "common sense gun control."  Now, this is virtually impossible in the face of a strong anti-gun-control lobby with ties to the current national majority party.  While millions own fire arms without harming others, in the hands of a person possessed by the evil to kill, a fire arm can magnitude that hate and evil within into the consumption of multiple innocent lives.  The weapon may not be inherently evil, but it can certainly magnify the damage of that evil.

I can only speak for myself, but at times I feel frustration and anger.  At those times, I would not want access to a weapon that would magnify that anger.  Better to wait for it to pass.  Better for it to remain no more than a passing series of pulses in the neurons of my brain.

In the end, there are no easy answers.  But we know that light overcomes the darkness.  We need to reach out and reinforces our bonds with family, friends, neighbors and others we come to know.  We need to talk, with open minds, about how to protect the innocent from the hate, anger, and frustration of those who might make manifest the evil within.  We need bolder leadership to lead the way, a leadership that we don't seem to have fostered of late, but perhaps that form of leadership will arise from the grief in Florida.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

It's Kinda Spring (I Guess)

Spring came in a strange way this year.  First, we had a very mild winter, a welcomed change after last year's record snowfall totals.  Then, we had some mild weather in early March, only to get cooler by the end of the month.

April started off with promise, but within the first week we had a snowfall.  Anything that was blossoming got confused.  The forsythia was starting to come out when the snows and frozen weather stunted their blossoming.  After a few weeks of stunted growth, the yellow flowers withered and died off.  Same with the magnolias.  Normally, by mid-April, much of Back Bay Boston would be splendid with the soft pink and white flowers.

Now we are seeing the full blossoming of spring, but the weather is still cooler than it should be.  But the tulips have been out.  The dogwoods and other flowering  trees are beginning to bloom.  All the trees are leafing out, too.  It's Kinda Spring, I guess.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Signs of Springs

After a very mild winter, mid-March is showing the signs of spring.  In the litter of fall and the barren soil, the first shy sings of spring emerge.  Little by little they rise up and turn their faces to the sun.   A warm day in our fair city, and these are a few examples of signs emerging.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Still don't believe in New Year's Eve!

Yep, I'm still not a believer in New Year's Eve!  As I was telling a colleague in the office, it all has to do with when I learned enough astronomy to know a year is not 365 days long!  It's 365.24 days (approximately), so this New Year's Eve at midnight is not exactly 1 year since last New Year's Eve at midnight 

The whole New Year's Eve midnight thing is just a hoax!

But, if you enjoy the evening anyway, have a good one!

(For more of my ramblings on this topic, see my post from 2009.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Transgender Day of Remembrance

This Sunday (Nov. 22, 2015) in Boston is the Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day to remember the many people in Boston, around the US and around the world killed only because they happen to be transgender, and someone deeply hated them for that fact.

I live a rather protected, straight, middle class life and no body harasses me or shows overt hatred (that I know of).  I simply can't image what it would be like to be so hated that someone would want to go as far as kill me.

Still, I think it's good - it's necessary - to take time to remember those who have been the victims of such hatred, that their lives cut short continue to value, and that each of them was a person of great and unique dignity.

Today, we see much of the western world focused on terrorism, and that hatred that kills so randomly.  This is indeed a great evil in the world.  But not the only evil.  The evil that implants hatred in the hearts of those who would kill (or even bully) people because they happen to be transgender, or gay, or black, or Jewish, or Christian, or Muslim, or any category of persons - this is also a great evil.

Our world is filled with the evil of hatred.  But we must not be defeated.  We must remember those who have died, uphold their dignity, and live in the belief that the light we can share can overcome the darkness of this evil manifest in hatred that would go as far as the murder of innocents.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Spring at Mt. Auburn

Often I've taken a late fall stroll through the beautiful landscapes of the Mt. Auburn Cemetery, here in my home town of Cambridge.  Usually I do it around November 2nd, which is known as El Día de los Muertos or All Souls' Day. This is a time to remember the departed, and think of the transience of our brief lifetime.  In the Northern Hemisphere, we have the juxtaposition of this day of remembrance in the very season where we experience the colors of death in fall foliage.

But, this year I was thinking, what would it be like to take a spring stroll.  What would the contrast of rebirth, as seen in the flowering and budding of trees and shrubs, feel like in the context of a sacred grounds consecrated to the eternal rest of those who have passed on before us?

Spring includes the celebration of Easter, the resurrection from the dead of the Son of God, and the hope for eternal life.  "If we shared in Jesus' death by being baptized, we will be raised to life with him," so it is said in Romans 6.

What is this eternal life?  When does it begin?  Is it like this life?  These are questions that people have asked for centuries, but we still lack certain answers. My pastor has suggested that eternal life is something that has already been going on, even before we were born, and will continue after we die.  Our life in this world is but one chapter in it all.

When I was young, I remember thinking about this idea of eternal life, as something after the death of our body.  What would it be like to go on and on and on and on without end?  Day after day after day after day?  I couldn't fathom it.  But nor could I fathom it just suddenly stopping and then there would be nothing more.  In those days I felt that eternal life was obvious.  We could never just stop being.

As I got older, I've gone through stages of new, more complicated thoughts and, with them, doubts.  Also as I get older, I have started to get the sense of being "tired" a lot of the time, which has led me to think that, maybe at a time to come, I'll feel that I am ready for a long rest, much like we feel tired and go to bed.  Is it possible that life ending is like falling asleep a final time and then that's "a wrap?"

But much as spring is a sign that life is reborn after the winter of dormancy, the idea of life after death is persistently present in both religious teachings and philosophies around the world from ancient times to the present.   Rebirth in the spring inevitably comes about each year, no matter what we do.  So is this something about the nature of life itself that it is self-rejuvenating?  Is rebirth inherently part of the fabric of life?  Is all this an indication that life is, in some way, eternal, that death is not the end?

For now, I'm don't know for sure.  But, then again, spring is the season of hope - hope in rebirth and life itself, a life that is renewed and renewed and renewed, and therefore never ends.

I ended up with a bunch of good photos, some of which are included in a blog post in my photography blog, Urban Vistas.