“I wasn’t always the cool person you see standing before you today.”
The Fonz.

The Fonz IS cool – or was. Cool is an outdated concept (or at least I don’t hear that expression much any more) but the desire to be concerned special, admired and a little bit intimidating is not. People are still obsessed with image–and the wealthier among us have been known to hire someone to manage that image.

And some of us live in fear of what other people think of us. We go to great lengths–including doing some pretty ridiculous things so people will give their approval of our personhood. A lot of people buy electronic devises the cannot afford, or get elaborate tattoos in embarrassing places, or volunteer for causes they do not understand because they want people to think we are “cool.”

Anonymity is to be feared. No one wants to be a number, and few want to be lost in a crowd. So we even pursue notoriety in order to avoid anonymity.

As a result our heroes tend to be celebrities. We overlook their eccentricities. We applaud their narcissism. It is character that is often lost in the cloud of dust raised by a posse pursuing the latest trending idol. Good deeds are done to beef up resumes. The least and the last in our world are dismissed from our responsibility to love our neighbor. Someone else will waste their time and take the risks.

In the end human praise and affirmation is fleeting. The prize we seek becomes worthless in world of planned obsolescence. Even if they raise a statute to us, sooner or later someone is going to gaze on it, read the inscription and say, “Oh, just some old dead guy.”

Jesus challenges us to seek our worth in serving. Mark 9.35 records his words: “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”

The ultimate cool in the Kingdom of God is to be a blessing to others, especially to “the least of these.”


Last week Chris Mercer walked onto the campus of Umpqua Community College in Oregon killing 10 persons and wounding at least nine others.  At this point, he appeared to actually be targeting Christians–for what reason we are still trying to unwrap.  It was the fourth mass shooting on a college campus in recent years.  It was the 45th reported school shooting this year in the United States.
I am about to make some friends angry.  They are persons who are avid sportsmen and passionate political conservatives. They own guns and are in fact, highly responsible gun owners.  For this reason and others, they believe that their ownership of guns are an inalienable right tied fundamentally to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  They believe that people kill people–guns don’t kill people.  Some of them are also convince that our government is fundamentally untrustworthy and that must retain their arms to keep from being victimized and tyrannized by that same government.  Others believe that their police forces our inept and ultimately it is up to them to protect their property and the lives of loved ones.
See how complicated this has become personally?
Nonetheless, I have reached the point that I must declare ENOUGH!!!!!!!!!
I cannot listen one more self-serving declaration from the NRA that instead of proposing realistic solutions chooses to stonewall with arguments that have become less and less tenable.  I am tired of politicians of both sides of the aisle politicizing this issue, including those on the left who utter no outcry when babies are killed in the name of reproductive rights.
What about the inalienable right to life?
My friends and neighbors, the collateral damage has become simply unacceptable.  Reducing school children dead and terrorized at the hand of a gunman to the callous categorization of collateral damage is absolutely offensive to one who believes in the sanctity of life–and I suspect to God, who is Life. My anti-gun control friends–the destruction of a human life in a womb is no less offensive than shooting that life in a classroom.
The passionate opposition to gun control when at the same time stripping the providers of mental health care of resources to bring some form of life management or even healing those with mental illnesses is selfish and self-serving.
The time has come to provide realistic control to the spread of arms in this land.  The time has come to identify those prone to violence in their mental illness and get them help that reduces the likelihood of their becoming mass murderers–and again institutionalizing those who cannot be helped.
The time has come to end our insane flirtation with violence in this society and the worship of the tools of that violence–video games, automatic weapons to name a few.
The time has come.
ENOUGH !!!!!!



One of the true stars of Major League Baseball passed from this life to the next last week. Yogi Berra died at age xxx. Although he did work with other clubs in his lengthy career, Yogi will be always be remembered as one of the “most memorable” of the pin-striped clan from the Bronx.

Although I have been nor ever expect to be a Yankee lover; like many I loved this Yankee catcher. His prowess on the field was certainly to be admired, and I did; but what endeared him to me was ability to enrich the English language and human discourse with his quotes.

Some of his most memorable and intriguing were:









We will miss your wisdom Mr. Berra

People who follow my blogs, but especially my FACEBOOK page know that I am a diehard Detroit Tigers fan; as well as a lover of baseball in general.  It IS America’s game no matter what the NFL and NASCAR try to proclaim.
There is one aspect of the “game” in America that I do not like.  Major League Baseball is a business.  I do understand that it needs to be a business and businesses must be profitable to survive’ but the “fan” in me hates the reality of many baseball business decisions.
July 31st is the Major League trading deadline and between now and then, teams will begin to sell off or trade away “assets” (i.e., players) in order to to build for the future. That means they are basically writing off this season as a loss.  And teams who still believe they have a solid chance of winning are opening their pocketbooks and the doors of their minor league system (whose prospects reflect their long term future) to win today.
Last year my beloved Tigers were buyers–trading for 2013 Cy Young winner David Price–to win the “arms” race with their frequent post season opponent, the Oakland A’s (who got Boston’s John Lester on a one-year deal to match Detroit).  The Tigers didn’t count on the Kansas City Royals, playing .500 ball at the Allstar Break going into overdrive to win the American League Championship.
 But as the Tigers, still awaiting the return of Miguel Cabrera from the DL, lost yet another game; it looks like Price may be gone (leaving only Sanchez as a starter who can win consistently).
In addition, Yoenes Cespedes (who the A’s traded to Boston to get Lester), who had come to the Tigers to beef up what appeared to be a killer batting lineup, may also be gone-leaving only suddenly resurgent Ian Kinsler and home run king, JD Martinez (and Victor Martinez, if he can stop hitting into double plays) to hold the fort until Cabrera is back.

If these two go, even this diehard Tiger fan, may have to find someone else to root for unto October.



It’s the evening of the Fourth of July.  My wife and I have just finished watching A Capital Fourth a semi-tradition for us. Now we are watching a live fireworks show via another channel–a magnificent display over New York Harbor.  I have just heard the words sung of what is my favorite “patriotic” hymn by Samuel Frederick Smith.

My country tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty,
Of thee I sing.
Land where my fathers died!
Land of the Pilgrim’s pride!
From every mountain side,
Let freedom ring!

My native country, thee,
Land of the noble free,
Thy name I love.
I love thy rocks and rills,
Thy woods and templed hills;
My heart with rapture fills
Like that above.

Let music swell the breeze,
And ring from all the trees
Sweet freedom’s song.
Let mortal tongues awake;
Let all that breathe partake;
Let rocks their silence break,
The sound prolong.

Our father’s God to, Thee,
Author of liberty,
To Thee we sing.
Long may our land be bright
With freedom’s holy light;
Protect us by Thy might,
Great God, our King!

I am glad to be an American . Besides it’s sheer beauty, no nation on this earth has done more to proclaim the cause in the world nor sacrificed more to obtain or preserve the freedom of other peoples.  It has afforded me a place to live that allows me to worship and serve God in magnificent ways.  It has been a beacon of hope to the persecuted, oppressed, and disadvantaged of the world.

But I am concerned for my nation as well.  We have become a nation without a moral compass–and we are adrift in the seas of the dangerous times in which we live.

I am tolerant person but I have always understood tolerance as meaning respecting the right of another to be the person they believe their conscience requires them to be. Now tolerance means acceptance of who that is as being right, i.e. agreeing that there is nothing wrong with what they do or what they believe.

Our common social contract has come to be defined not by an objective standard of right and wrong to which we are all accountable. It is now defined by what political correctness declares to be the right thing today. And that standard of political correctness does not respect anyone’s right to respectfully disagree.

There is much debate over whether or not we are a Christian nation or if we have ever been one. If you define Christian by the peculiar wedding of biblical morality with cultural convenience, then I would say we have had more of a civil religion than a biblical one. The Bible clearly stands against the materialistic greed that has been characterized as success, the enslavement of people of other races, the use of power that clearly contradicts the teachings of Jesus Christ, racial prejudice that spawned Jim Crow and the Klan. That list goes on.

Not all of our founding Fathers were Christians, but not all of them were the cynical secularists that the modern day secular liberal likes to claim. And it is clear from history that wherever they stood on the religious spectrum, they believed that those “inalienable rights” were to be grounded in the basic moral teachings of our Judeao-Christian roots,

William Penn wrote these words in the formative years of our nation: “Those who will not be governed by God, will be ruled by tyrants. ”

But his are not the only words from our beginnings as a nation. From George Washington:

“While we are zealously performing the duties of good citizens and soldiers, we certainly ought not to be inattentive to the higher duties of religion. To the distinguished character of Patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian.”
The Writings of Washington, pp. 342-343.

From John Adams, who signed the Declaration of Independence and served 2nd President of the US:

2nd U.S. President and Signer of the Declaration of Independence

Suppose a nation in some distant Region should take the Bible for their only law Book, and every member should regulate his conduct by the precepts there exhibited! Every member would be obliged in conscience, to temperance, frugality, and industry; to justice, kindness, and charity towards his fellow men; and to piety, love, and reverence toward Almighty God … What a Eutopia, what a Paradise would this region be.”
Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, Vol. III, p. 9.

John Hancock, the first of sign the Declaration of Independence:

“Resistance to tyranny becomes the Christian and social duty of each individual. … Continue steadfast and, with a proper sense of your dependence on God, nobly defend those rights which heaven gave, and no man ought to take from us.”
History of the United States of America, Vol. II, p. 229.


I pray that my nation, our nation, would once again claim its moral foundations so that we could truly insure the common good.

© 2015 by Stephen L Dunn
Permission is given to reprint this post as long as it is not included in material that is for sale, that it is reproduced in its entirety including the copyright notice, and that a link is provided to this blog.


On June 26, 2015 the Supreme Court made a decision that is the equivalent of a moral earthquake.  They declared by a 5-4 vote that same sex marriage was a right protected by the Constitution of the United States.  It is an event that to many is a disastrous event for which our nation will further erode the already tenuous moral fabric of America.  But to many it is a moral victory affirming a way of life that they consider both healthy and desirable. I stand on the side of those who consider this decision to be a sign of our moral failure. The fact that the decision had the slimmest of majorities should give us a clue as to how unwise and potentially dangerous this decision may prove to be.

Most of us who pay careful attention to the moral character of our nation saw this one coming.  We also knew that there was nothing that we could do to stop it.  We are already praying for the impact of what we believe will be ultimately prove to be unwise.  Marriage, already an endangered institution, will not be strengthened.  I believe that many people and families and our nation itself will be hurt by this decision. I agree with Russell Moore, writing in The Washington Post: “The Court now has disregarded thousands of years of definition of the most foundational unit of society, and the cultural changes here will be broad and deep.”

I will not elaborate on all my reasons.  I suspect they would simply fuel what will become an even more nasty cultural debate.  For now it is the law of the land.  As a minister, nothing in the decision compels me to unite same sex couples.  Marriage in the US is still a civil matter as the law goes, and I would give up my professional right to preside over those unions rather to participate in a legal process that deprived me of the right to act in a manner consistent with my biblically-informed conscience.

In the meantime, I will continue to love my neighbor regardless of their sexual orientation.  I will treat them with gentleness and respect–which God commands me to do.  But I will continue to affirm that I believe that marriage is intended to be between a man and a  woman–and that to be healthy we must live by God’s design for this institution.  And I will continue to teach that marriage is so sacred that it should involve the mutual submission under the love of Christ that makes such things as spousal abuse or abandonment or no-fault divorce something to be rejected in all ideas of marriage.

I will not engage in the falsehood of affirming a lifestyle that I believe to be contrary to God’s design because loving and respecting someone does not mean that I agree and approve with everyone’s personal decisions and values.  That’s a destructive lie that political correctness would impose on all of us–a lie that often proves destructive to anyone that the guardians of political correctness deems to have less rights than the rest of the citizenry.

But let me repeat–I will not treat a lost battle in the culture war as an excuse to stop showing the unconditional love of the One who loves me conditionally to any person–straight or otherwise.

God, grant me the serenity
to accept the people I cannot change,
which is pretty much everyone,
since I’m clearly not you, God.
At least not the last time I checked.

And while you’re at it, God,
please give me the courage
to change what I need to change about myself,
which is frankly a lot, since, once again,
I’m not you, which means I’m not perfect.
It’s better for me to focus on changing myself
than to worry about changing other people,
who, as you’ll no doubt remember me saying,
I can’t change anyway.

Finally, give me the wisdom to just shut up
whenever I think that I’m clearly smarter
than everyone else in the room,
that no one knows what they’re talking about except me,
or that I alone have all the answers.

Basically, God,
grant me the wisdom
to remember that I’m
not you.


Resposted from THE JESUIT POST   I believe James Martin, SJ is the author;


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