Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Need for Healing, A Prescription for Wholeness

There is a broad list of topics on my mind this week, but one of the intertwining themes among them is the concept of healing. We as imperfect humans need healing, society as a community of humans needs healing, the Church needs healing.

Msgr. Ken Lasch's homily for this third Sunday in Ordinary Time offers tangible insights into this fundamental human need and meaningful ways to further our ongoing healing as people, as community, as society, as Church through an ever-deepening relationship with Jesus as Brother and God.
The well-known headlings of the week just begin to touch the surface of the hurts we share in common, of our shared need for both individual and collective healing:

With these few selected examples in mind, this image of open hands filled with candlelight represents for me the opportunity to surrender to God what hurts us, the hurts we have committed against others, the worries, struggles, and burdens that weigh us down and hold us back. Placing these cares into God's hands allows God to hold our hands and embrace us in Light and Love. In return our hands become free to hold God and to reach out with the same healing clasp to others.

May your day and the week to come be energized with light, healing, and wholeness!

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Friday, January 14, 2011

Leaving Literature as Written? A Twenty-First Century Challenge or Opportunity

A recent article by Tom Leonard in the UK’s Daily Mail has caught a lot of interest and generated a lot of discussion both in Facebook and in other venues. His article Huckleberry Finn Removes N-Word: Political Correctness Takes on Mark Twain’s Classic, discusses a forthcoming edition of the Twain classic to be released under the guidance of Dr. Alan Gribben, professor of English at Auburn University in Alabama, in which the “N Word and the term “injun” [referring to U.S. Indians] are replaced or restated to reflect 21st century sensibilities about race, ethnicity, and identity.

This is a must read article! Two key issues are raised: 1) Twain’s use of language recognized now as racist and 2) editing out objectionable language to overcome censorship and placement of a work on banned books lists.
A friend noted along with his link to the article, “The scholars say the new version is a bid to make the book's treatment of race more in line with 21st century values, but critics say the censorship is taking political correctness too far.” He then went on to ask, “What say you?”

Here is a summary of my contributions to the online conversation:

How can we learn/teach about history if we can't read a work in its original form and evaluate the context of its time? I think this is a potential tragedy as it really alters the state of literature and the disciplines of literary studies, interdisciplinary studies, and cultural studies, just to name a few (actually this list could go on ... history, American Studies).

We cannot re-write the history of race in the U.S. We can only contribute to writing its future. To erase the reality of racism in the U.S. is arguably one of the most racist things a person or group can do because by invisbilizing racism it is empowered and left unchallenged. We cannot rewrite the history of race in the U.S. We can only contribute to its future. To erase the reality of race in the U.S. is arguably one of the most racist things a person or group, whether or not they intend it, can do because by invisibilizing racism it is empowered and left unchallenged.

I don’t diminish or underestimate the pain/sting or racist language especially on people of color. However, I think we greatly fail as a society if we “whitewash” the impact of racism by erasing it, restating it, making it somehow more palatable.
The subtle influences of racism (and all other –isms), however, extend beyond use of language. So, if the language of a work were “fixed,” the more subtle nuances of racialized living may not be detected by readers who would experience the language as a red flag of sorts. Obviously, the whole story can’t be “fixed; that would mean remaking Twain’s work in its entirety, and thus it would no longer be Twain’s “Huckleberry Finn.”

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Remembering -- One Year Later

I think the snowfall came to keep us all reflective on this first anniversary of the tragic earthquake in Haiti. The cataclismic nature of shifting plates is not a mere metaphor: On that day, many lives were forever changed. In a special way, let us remember Christine Gianacaci and her school colleagues and mentors who were there to accompany and unknowingly did so very literally with their lives. Let us continue to remember and advocate for the many Haitian people who continue to suffer the longterm aftershocks.

The four Lynn University students who died in the January 12, 2010 earthquake. Christine Gianacaci is pictured on the bottom row, left.

"To continue Christine Gianacaci's mission of helping underprivileged children and to put a smile (like Christine's big smile) on the faces of those less fortunate than us", visit

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Sunday, January 09, 2011

Turning the Page on Christmas 2010

Well, tonight we turn the page and, liturgically speaking from a Catholic perspective, officially close the Christmas season. No one like to see Christmas go, especially not me. I take serious the charge to "keep Christmas with [me] all through the year!" While I believe that notion to be true, Fr. Dan's homily tonight (I went to a neighboring parish today) struck me: To paraphrase, in a homily in which he shared his childhood experience of his parents' rocky marriage and subsequent divorce, he said that the Christmas story is nice, but it's not why Christ came to earth or what we are all about as Christians. We are really Easter people so it's necessary that we encounter and experience Jesus the adult which today, the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, is all about. That's why the feast marks the transition from Christmas to Ordinary Time. Fr. Dan underscored that God is there in the messes and the dumps and we need those experiences to encounter God there, too. So, he said, the trappings and external signs of Christmas will be gone (literally, he offered the pointsettias to anyone who wanted to take them home) in the next two days but our journey continues.

It was a very thoughtprovoking homily that left people with lots to ponder. It was also one in which Fr. Dan's human honesty about his own journey very well may have saved or will save a life as often times the miracles of every day life are the ones we never hear.

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Sunday, January 02, 2011

"Yes, Everyone Is a Shepherd and King!"

Today we find ourselves at the liturgical celebration of Epiphany, the day on which we commemorate the Christ Child revealing himself to the non-Jewish nations through the three kings. My mind always returns on this day to the Weston Priory song, "Shepherds and Kings," so I invite you to revisit a blogpost I shared five years ago commemorating this same feast day. Click here and consider for yourself the role of shepherds and kings in your life, encountering God and sharing God each day.

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