Disclaimer First: This is a ramble, a struggle to understand with no conclusion to the journey.

As much as we might believe it is possible to separate our logical selves from our emotional selves, the evidence is otherwise. Research continues to present evidence that emotion, and the unconscious parts of the mind, determine the values that serve our needs.

In pre-school, we learn to discern patterns in shape, number or color. Long before that mathematical kind of pattern search, we learn to discern patterns in very complex behaviors around us. From birth, we build our values based on emotional responses, sorting the structure of our values, not opposing reason, but melding.

Mr. Spock of Star Trek did the mind meld as if Vulcan’s alone had that ability. Not so. Again, from birth we enter the minds of those around us. We meet our needs and build our value system by staying tuned.

Equally important, as we mature,is the monitoring of our minds as we correct for prejudices and mistakes. We reconstruct our values, our emotional responses, our ability to live within a social group.

Finally, motivation completes our package, tying together what we have structured as our logical set of values and our emotional response to any given situation. In those times of exquisite moments, immersed in love of another person, caught up in a joy of challenge and even in our search for God, we taste the hunger. We know the motivation that goes so far beyond material success.

Recently a number of events have gifted me with the awareness that it is time for yet another restructuring. Recent church related blogs have skirted the issue of responsibility and expressed values opposing perceived values.

Continuing generosity of family, neighbors and friends are both amazing and comforting. My blessings are people who cover all the visible bases while understanding the more difficult needs.

Far too often we handle difficult issues by dumping at the gates of a higher power to which we have assigned attributes build on an emotional need to explain what has no satisfying explanation.

Attempting to comfort, standard expressions give God the credit and reserve the pain for those unwilling to accept God’s offering.
When God closes a door, he opens a window.
God never gives us more than we can handle.
God reached out and saved (a name) when others perished.
There are no atheists on the battlefield.
God is trying to tell us something by the destruction of nature.
God spoke to me and showed me the way.
Pray, and God will answer…maybe not the answer to the prayer, but God’s answer to the need.
Why me? God is trying to tell me something.
The church is God’s emissary on earth, leading us to eternal life.

For the sake of communication, let’s accept that God is…that God is in a place, in the lives of people.
Why is a tsunami allowed to destroy a huge section of a country? Why do earth quakes strike down life without regard? Why is one family’s child less valuable than other children and signaled for early death? Why do the deluge of prayers for peace seem impotent? Genocide? Aids? Cancer? Addiction? Prejudice? Governmental dishonesty? All the mistakes of humans and not correctable by the powers of God?

Of course I know that these are questions from my late teens and early twenties, years of searching followed by years of diligently toiling. (Thanks, Mark.) I know that these are the questions of depression, sadness and grief, questions that are very easily answered by blindly believing, by giving God the design manual.

Perhaps an equally important question is How. How do the beautiful, caring and generous men and women continue to live their values in a culture that mocks, satirizes and bullies? How do people, with no reliance on god-rules do that diligently toiling thing while giving up chunks of self to care for those around them?

Could it be that humans have taken characteristics of those beautiful, caring and generous men and women and designed a power in that image and likeness.


Out Of The Woodwork (CCR)

“You have become a Johnny One-Note. Are there no other topics? Move on. These people come out of the woodwork.”
That one got to me, salted the moral ache that festers. The meaning was clear. “These people come out of the woodwork.” Mistrust of motivation. Blaming the victims. Protecting the abusers by saying that the woodwork people worm out to join the bandwagon.

In defense of this person, there are no TVs, newspapers or news magazines in the home. Current events are the day-to-day drama of over fifty seniors, age 62 plus, living in an apartment building. The outside world is too filled with bad news to allow in–so ignore and pretend it doesn’t exist.

It does exist. It is real. The abuse tolerated, perhaps allowed in the belief that the church required that depth of protection. The cover-up hid the truth and gave permission for abuse to continue.

Mike Hunter of Kansas City is the volunteer director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. David Clohessy of St. Louis is the executive director of, the same organization. Hunter and Clohessy co-authored As I See It, an opinion piece for the Kansas city Star Newspaper. The final paragraph of their piece offers the only solution that holds promise.
“That’s why we’re desperately hoping police and prosecutors will step up. While our justice system isn’t perfect, it can often unearth the truth in such situations and punish the guilty, thus deterring recklessness, callousness and deceit in the future.”

Now, Do It Now

There are many clichés to cover the idea of’ reading between the lines, of mindfulness  in awareness, of reaching out before a need is voiced.  This is a good day for that.

We all know people who struggle, short-term or in a sort of perpetual depressive state.  Some struggle with loud bumps and moans letting the world know that this is a bummer.  Some struggle with times of being overwhelmed, drowning in details and no life-preserver in sight.   Others struggle with a quiet, “Fine–I am fine” when we know fine does not cover the pain.

So in case anyone is listening, this is Now, Do It Now Day, a day to put our personal concerns under the stack and take an action that will surprise and soften the life of someone in our prism.  A note, a phone call, handling a task that isn’t getting done, anticipating, understanding with true compassion and taking action.

Conventional Wisdom

Some of that conventional wisdom is simply common sense.  Touch a hot stove and your finger burns.   The body needs sleep.   Anxiety makes us sick.   As you sow, so shall you reap.

Maybe not so much on the sowing/reaping thing.   Even a well sown field suffers devastation when weather is harsh.

The Kansas City Star has a story of a family of five living in a motel, cooking in the bathroom and kids playing in the hallways.  I didn’t read the entire article so I admit to not knowing the details of ending as a human interest feature.  But the point is that this family’s story is common.  Homelessness is becoming common.

Shortsighted planning?  Credit card abuse?  Instant gratification, unwillingness to save towards future purchases?  That mysterious ‘better life’ for the kids?   Agreed.  This is sowing weeds.

But there is more.  So much more beyond the control of budgeting for utilities, wearing last year’s coat, eating at home, driving less.  Desensitization to core values that foster restraint.

Corporate greed.  Aggressive advertising to influence children.  Media messages that create needs from wants.  Political pork.  Self interest grown to monster proportions.

It is more than the economic bubble doing the bursting.  And just for he record, there is no way to recover a burst bubble.  Try that.  You can’t.  It is gone.

Starting over?  The top of the economic strata is just fine.  No need to start over.   And the ‘supplemented’ strata will be steady until the money runs out.  The middle suffers the most–and the middle carries the weight of the top and the load of the bottom.


“One of the misfortunes of our time is that in getting rid of false shame we have killed off so much of real shame as well.”  Louis Kronenberger, Company Manners, 1954

“It’s A Shame We No Longer Seem Able To Feel Shame.”  Ellen Goodman, 2009

Shame comes when there is a violation of cultural norms, a self-conscious emotion springing from an awareness when violating those norms.

So, if the cultural norms support the New York Post hiring the woman who opened the door to the downfall of the New York governor, shame has no place.  (That Governor, and not his wife, was  invited to speak at Harvard University.)

If the prostitute gets a prestigious job while the wife stands strong, is shame part of the picture…the picture of governors, presidential candidates, sports heroes?   Downcast eyes, contrite demeanor and pleas for forgiveness do not count as shame.  More to the truth, these things are a reflection of being caught.

Financial schemes, banking loop-the-loops, CEO bathrooms with plush to gold standards are shameful evidence of entitlement and over the top ostentatious behavior.   But if one is entitled, why would one feel shame?

Or more, to the truth, shouldn’t we all feel some shame at the sinking standards?


by Pat Antonopoulos

An  experience evolving from one of my volunteer activities simply won’t leave me alone.   A committee planned a special event at a local college. The event centered on a ceremony being held at a nearby church  not directly connected to the small school.  As a community building effort, the church was willing to share the facility.

Part of my responsibility focused on the music, organ and vocal. Because the event reached out to the students and the community, we wanted to involve the students in all phases.  A search was begun to find a student with the skill to play the organ and additional students to sing selected pieces.

Over 55 years ago, I attempted to learn this very organ, but did not have the training or skill. The organ has been in the choir loft for well over 60 years, belonging to the people of that faith community.

A courtesy call to the current church organist left me confused and brought me to this blog about ownership.

When I gave the information to the organist, stressing the student participation and expressing the hope of finding a students to  play and sing, the response was:
“That will be a disaster!  A student would not have the skill.  I cannot sanction that plan.  I play the organ and my fee is $—.00.”

Ownership.  Interesting concept.




Poverty Chic As Oxymoron

I confess to reading the title of another blog and moving on, not bothering to read the text. Unfair?  Maybe.

The image of this oxymoron stayed all day.   At times, I felt some anger that anyone could link those words–poverty chic.   Of course, I should read the entire article before writing.  I justify my assumptions because of previous reading…sad stories where a buyer settles for a lesser luxury car, skips the Hawaiian golf vacation or cannot spend as much on jewelry and clothing this month.

Because of recent and unusual circumstance, I was in a heavy traffic shopping area where money seemed to flow.  Elaborate baby strollers, beautiful 20′ bicycles ridden by well-mannered kids, name recognizable handbags and clothing, and lots of shopping bags were the chic signals–“being or in accordance with the current fashion”.

To be clear, I met and visited with many gracious people.  Those with whom I was working were charming and talented.  A neighborhood kindness marked most conversation.  We spoke of many altruistic things such as volunteer activities, cancer research, support of the arts.  Some of this people might actually know poverty through past experiences or current organizations.  But they did not live there anymore.

Poverty isn’t chic on any level.

There is no fashion statement made in handing a chit to a thrift store worker in exchange for a specific number of used garments.  Sharing a bed  with hunger or cold is deep and constant pain.  Scrambling to get an appointment at a free clinic makes little sense in a land of excess.

The search for Social Justice is a constant quest.  Many intense and talented people touch the heart of the subject by their writings and their involvement in dedicated organizations.

The linking of ‘poverty’ and ‘chic’ is not a part of the solution.  Rather, it is more an ignorance of the problem.