The Minnesota State Fair

I made the trip over to the Fairgrounds Monday – first time in a couple of years.  It was a very nice day, a large throng “like the olden days” (120,288 attendance on Monday).  If you’re interested in such things, here’s the link.  There was no Fair in 2020, and something of a tippy-toe back in 2021.  This year it seemed pretty normal.

August 29, 2022

I’ve attended the Fair for years.  By no means am I an exciting visitor.  Mostly boring, I’d say.  I have a normal routine.  This year I was actually there for a couple of hours; going back and forth by express bus probably took longer than the time actually spent on the grounds, but it was worth it.  I can’t explain why.

I did my annual stop at the Education Minnesota to get my free calendar with my photo – a portion of it shows at the end of this post.  I can remember the first time this was featured, back in the old- MEA days when I was working there.  It was probably about the early 1990s, and was not nearly as perfected as now.  It was also expensive – a budget decision for the Union – and in the early days the question was whether or not to keep it. Keeping it was a great decision.  The Education Minnesota booth is a ‘draw’ every year, not only for me.

Politics is always a feature of the Fair.  This year was pretty low-key: I did not see a single MAGA cap.  “Taxation is Theft” seemed the theme at the Libertarian booth; “Defund the Government” was some guys t-shirt.  I  saw three people wearing a homemade sign “Walz Failed”, about our Governor.   “Failed at what?” would be a wasted question, likely without an answer.

I stopped by the DFL (Democrat) booth – on my usual route – where it happened both Governor Walz and Lt. Gov. Flanagan were with a large enthusiastic crowd.  Tim looked and sounded like the high school football coach he used to be.  There was no heckling.  He was impressive.  So was Lt. Governor Flanagan.

No doubt there was security, but it certainly was not obtrusive.

Gov. Tim Walz Aug. 29, 2022

Fair time over, I went home.  Tired.  Glad I came.  Enough till next year when the State Fair Gene will kick in again, Lord willing.  Here’s the 2022 calendar in pdf form: Dick Bernard 2022 EM calendar

Aug 29, 2022


This post is about activists, of whom I personally know many, including on this blog list.  Activists – no matter the cause – are not large in number.  A Lutheran Pastor I greatly respect, a man whose flock was college students in California in the turbulent 1960s, estimated that perhaps 2% of the students at his colleges were actually activists – mostly anti-war.  Mostly the collegians were simply going to college.  But the activists made a disproportionate difference by their actions.

M, around which this post is built, is an activist I’m privileged to know.  I don’t think she considered herself an activist, but she is.  August 27 she sent her occasional collection of poetry to a list of unknown size, of which I’m happy to have long been a part.  Here’s what she sent, for late Summer and early Fall, 2022: Summer-Fall 2022.  I can remember about when she started this good habit.  Something in these three pages may speak to you.  Take a look.

She introduces her recent gift, thusly:

“Enclosed, as you can see, is a bit of late summer/early fall poetry… 

It really feels like the season change snuck up on me this year, and perhaps you feel the same. Suddenly, the young crop of woodpeckers (3 different kinds) is coming into our feeders (while the young & raffish-looking blue jays sit in the nearby bush, explaining squawkily to their parents that they still want curb service…)

The flying squirrel visits the same feeder by dark; maybe once a week whoever’s getting up at night may get a look at him…he’s just so neat–& giant dark eyes… 

And, the migration is starting—geese families are doing practice runs, and I saw a hummingbird stop at our hanging plant (word is that they’re starting migration through MN now). So, keep looking skyward.

Peace, love, hugs, in these scary times,”

I first mentioned M’s name in a post on Nov. 3, 2011.  She has been a frequent contributor – I note 46 posts in which she was referenced, including in an unpublished draft I had entitled “Community Heroes” from late December 2018, where I had said this: “My gift to you, today, comes via long-time friend M, who I met years ago in Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers. Every now and then, most often at the times of solstice or equinox, M gathers a few pieces of poetry and sends them along to a list, including myself. They come without fanfare or gift-wrapping, but they indeed are gifts.”

As noted above, I don’t think M would consider herself an activist.  Last time I actually saw her was probably at a meeting more than 10 years ago.  But she inspires me, and doubtless others, in the most low-key kind of way.


I’m one person, and once upon a time I had the fantasy that it was practically possible for a simple concept – “each one, reach two” to be doable.  It seemed so easy.  Ain’t so.  Anyone wishing to know more can easily find my story at Uncomfortable Essays at this site (pages 3-7).

So…”Each one, reach one”, is much more doable, particularly if unintended, teaching by example, as M is.


Today the Priest at Basilica, ordained 54 years ago in 1968, shared a story which fits the topic perfectly, in my opinion.  (The Gospel text for today was Luke 14:1, 7-14, and it and the other readings focused on humility, the topic for his homily.)

Fr. T,  retired, weekend assistant, and outstanding preacher, remembered a mentor when he was a young Priest in Chicago.  The mentor was young also, but older colleague Priest, who shared a personal story when he was early in his career as a Priest.

When he was a new Priest, the mentor recalled, he got a prestigious appointment to a program in Rome.  This was during the time when John XXIII was Pope (Oct. 1958-Jun. 1963).

The Priest travelled to Rome, in steerage class on a ship.  Enroute, an older lady, dressed shabbily, saw him – he looked like a Priest – and stopped to visit.  She asked where he was from, and he said Chicago, and she said she’d been there: “where?”  He answered, including noting there were lots of “bums” where he was.

Fast forward, in Rome, the Priest went to a Mass at the Vatican, again rather full of himself, and at Communion time he noted John XXIII gave Communion specifically and especially to a group of people, one of whom he recognized immediately – the woman he’d met on the ship.

“I met her”, he said to the Priest sitting next to him.  “Who is she?”

The Priest responded, “Dorothy Day” (deceased Nov. 29, 1980).

(You need to read the Gospel and know of Dorothy Day, recommended to be named a Catholic Saint, to get the point….)


I’d guess Molly – yes, that’s M’s name – will be embarrassed to be called a “community hero” and an “activist”.  She is.

I know lots of M’s.  One action, one day at a time….

POSTNOTE: after publishing this, and before M saw this post, her list got another item from her:

This is the 59th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream speech at the Lincoln Memorial… The speech, of course,  has always been, of course, and remains utterly breathtaking…
Here are 2 filmings thereof:
This one has the sound/visual sync just bit off, but this is a very clear visual & audio recording… It was recorded by a student attendee at that time. It actually has the better video.

Another version, a professional reporter-type production, is somewhat longer, and has a “fuzzier” look and is here.

Love, blessings, and onward towards justice of all sorts,

Ukraine Visitors

August 23 was a remarkable day.  I had about an hour to visit with a couple of Ukrainian kids, part of a group on a few weeks visit to the U.S.  Later I learned that August 24 is Ukraine’s Independence Day.   With 194 nations in the world, it’s hard to stay current on everything!

The kids were part of perhaps a dozen others who had the opportunity.  They were high school age; very engaging individuals; incalculably better in English, than I am in Ukrainian (none)….

When we left, there were a couple of small gifts from our visitors: a sticker and a post card.  Precious mementoes.

Before traveling to the park, I checked some of the  geography.  Ukraine is about the size of Texas, with a considerably larger population (40+ million against 30 million}.  Ukraine is almost identical in size to Minnesota, North and South Dakota combined; and has 7 times the population of the three states together.   For every “homey” in the Dakotas and Minnesota, there would be 7 Ukrainians.

Ukraine’s recorded history is centuries longer than the United States (acknowledging that the ‘history’ of each geographical space has goes back long before our written languages).

Google says it’s 5,032 miles from Kyiv to Minneapolis.   I came 16 miles to the park.

I probably will never get closer to the Ukraine than the two teens sitting across from Jim and I at a picnic table in Minnehaha Park on August 23.  I noted to my table mates that the United States is probably the most diverse nation on earth, however one wishes to define the term.  In my suburban coffee spot, it is not unusual to hear unusual languages.  Personally, I said, I’m French and German in ancestry; Jim said he was Swedish and Irish….  Yes, there are tensions at times.  But being called ‘American’ has meaning built over our 235 year history.

(The next day, in another context, I wrote to my local city government leaders including a question: “…what is “community”?  Is it me, my street, neighborhood, town, county, state, country or world?  Are we inclusive or exclusive?….”  I stand at the “world” end of that continuum.)

Was there any solving of problems?  Of course not.  Whoever it was who came up with the idea and the resources and the effort to bring the kids here deserves great thanks.  (The group is

Before I left, the group was treated to  some Ukrainan songs of today, sung a cappella by a young woman with a marvelous voice.

The music was one of those memorable moments I won’t forget.  The gathering was also memorable.  Thank you to everyone.

Here’s what Jim offers about the time together:First and foremost, I met vibrant teenagers, enjoying an adventurous journey. They enjoyed the festive atmosphere and the tasty food and were intrigued by the Native American park theme. They were emphatically grateful for this special opportunity as well as the steadfast support of Ukraine by the American people. Although they were optimistic, back home conditions remained dangerous and tense. The war battles at time were physically close and some had family members directly involved. I pointed out that the nearby building housed military veterans of previous American wars. Some of these teens” were at times directly involved in helping displaced persons. When it is time to return home, they realized in spite of the war, an important priority was their own education. They will be the generation to rebuild a stronger Ukraine free of Russian domination.”

A New School Year

Today is the first day of the Minnesota State Fair.  It’s a drizzly day, and I suppose the first regular State Fair in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.  Soon to follow will be the first day of SchooI.  For local teachers this is next Monday; for students the day after Labor Day.  And, of course, many  other school personnel as well plan for the beginning: bus drivers, custodians, school secretaries,  food service, on and on.  I am told that the staff for this district of about 18,000 students is nearly 3,000.

These have not been easy times for school people, if there has ever been such a thing as ‘an easy time’.  Every year school staff and kids are nervous the night before the first day of back to school. A new year means new students; new teachers; new relationships; new challenges.

My entire life has been in public education: as son, teacher, parent and grandparent.  Public Education is very familiar to me.

Some years ago I wrote a little essay trying to define the communities that make up school.  It’s only a page and a half, and you can read it here (click on the link in the second paragraph).


The key word in the preceding section is “public”, and as this year starts I want to reflect on that.

Succinctly, over the over 60 years of my own career, ‘public education’ has increasingly become a battleground for ideology; and in many ways a troubling new arena for conflict.

I had an unexpected reminder of past troubles going through personal stuff recently.

Nov. 10, 1998, I wrote my Uncle and Aunt in North Dakota about an October 9-11, 1998, visit to the ancestral relatives and farm in western Germany, very near the Netherlands.

It was a standard letter, but it had an additional dimension, since I was visiting kin – Germans in Germany – in a place where the ancestors had lived for hundreds of years, including WWII.

This is what I said 24 years ago: “We don’t talk a lot about WWII, except to learn that WWII, the why’s etc., is still talked about by the common German citizen.  Even people my age – including my hosts – were very young when the war ended.  I wonder about how we in the U.S. would be if our country was taken over by a Hitler-type.  Probably we’d be no different than the Germans in the 1930s and 40s….”

Hitler and the Nazis envisioned a 1,000 year Reich.  They got about 10 years.  They could not see their ignominious end.  Lust for power has a way of overrunning common sense.  As I write, we have our current pretenders to authoritarian rule at all levels in all states.  Will we ever learn?

Welcoming a guest, Germany, 1954, recovery from WWII took a long time for the German people.  We tend to forget that.

As I reflected on my old letter, I thought back to the late 1980s and early 90s when a battle was declared over what kind of things children would be allowed to learn in our schools.  The phrase “values and choices” might have meaning to some.  It was controversial then, but righteous religious zealots were determined to control what kids could be exposed to.

Most recently, there is the aggressive battle for the control of freedom of speech and expression in schools.  Things like what can be taught or said in curriculum or in other forums are public matters.  The Primary Election positioning by the current Governor of Florida comes most dramatically to mind, but similar actions are coming up everywhere.  Contemporary American politics is War.

“Bullying” has always been a concern of schools.  Its incidence probably never changes – a small percent are bullies – but the sophistication now is much more a problem, as is role modeling by adults and leaders.  “Children learn what they live” is a truism.

With current technology bullying is much more brutal now than in the ‘sticks and stones’ days.  A victim is within reach, publicly, universally, 24-7.


Yesterday, August 24, was the school board meeting in Uvalde TX where the school district Police Chief was fired for alleged mishandling the earlier carnage at the elementary school.  There seems, always, the need to sacrifice someone in such situations – whose fault was it?

I also note, however, that never has the legally acquired military weapon responsible for the deaths of the children and teachers mentioned.  The Gun is the sacred exception; the solution proposed is more Guns…the result more carnage, where and when is the only thing we don’t know.

June 13, 2022, in my post titled Leadership, I had this segment which, I am certain, directly related to Uvalde:

“2:00 p.m. June 15: This afternoon I took a trip to the post office, and enroute pass by the elementary school attended by one of my grandkids grades 1-5.  (He’s near 23, so this was awhile ago.)

Nonetheless, it was jarring to see a parking lot full of police vehicles and policeman in SWAT gear, and one of those immense combat vehicles.   No, it was no school incident – school is out for the summer.  But it was obvious that these folks were there for area police training, and the choice of place was not random – it was a school.

I drove by there twice more.  There was no good vantage point for a photo; it was raining and I wouldn’t have parked and walk in anyway.  But visualize your own neighborhood school and something similar going on.  It’s come to this in this country: School is a risky place.”

The School Police Chief in Uvalde was fired.  What is solved there, or anywhere else?


Recently, a good friend, Molly, more or less my age, wrote about her own education to her own list: “This article [linked here] is about American education K-12, and about the growing
movements towards censorship of content, and of elimination of “how to” methods like teaching critical thinking skills.

The article—be warned–is a bit long—ie, needs a better edit job—but is an important, well-documented one (has a ton of references), & I think is worth it.

It [the article] scares the socks off of me. That’s partly because I was very very lucky, back in the Stone Age, to have a 2-year English class in high school that very deliberately taught critical thinking skills in our reading & writing…

It  has  been more and more evident to me that these skills are increasingly lacking in US society, but I did not realize that they are being consciously omitted/suppressed  in some educational systems… [emphasis added]

Sigh, and Blessings of the day,” 


One final story: months ago, possibly even last summer, a good friend of mine introduced me to a friend of his, someone I’d never met.  The friend knew a bit about my background, because almost immediately caught me blind-sided: “what do you think about non-traditional school” or some such.

I did have an opinion, and I probably also caught him unawares. My teaching years were with junior high kids over 50 years ago; my daughters school of about 1,000 students is a middle school – same general age range.  As I recall, I said something to the effect that “school” is as much about building social skills – getting along with people you don’t necessarily like or agree with.  Parents cannot insulate kids from life – sooner or later everyone is on their own.  It doesn’t hurt to have had some practice in relationships with others.  We all learn through experience.

The three of us parted cordially.  I think they tended to agree with me: school is a primary place to learn to be part of a society larger than oneself.


Have a great year.  School, writ large, will do its best even in the most difficult of times.  No, it’s not perfect.  Tell me, who or what is?  Nobody.  Nothing.  I know that, from life.

The ball is in each of our courts.  Here’s something Gandhi had to say about that.


Seeing Al Franken

Last Friday night I saw Al Franken perform at the Acme Comedy Club in Minneapolis.  Initially I was odd man out – five people, four tickets.  Shingles waylaid the person who bought the tickets, and this left an opening for me, which I took.

I’ve known about Al Franken for many years, but must admit I never saw Saturday Night Live – past my bedtime – and it wasn’t till he became politically active that I got a closer look.  He was a man of real substance, a credit to the profession of public policy, by no means a lightweight “comedian”.

I first heard him speak at a Minnesota Democrat dinner in 1996. He was keynoter and he was funny.

Before the dinner, my daughter, Joni, and I had an opportunity to meet him.  Here they are, now 26 years ago.

Al Franken and Joni, April 1996, St. Paul. At right, separate, is an old button I got somewhere.

In 2008, Franken won a seat representing Minnesota in the U.S. Senate.  His was a real cliffhanger – the final tally had him up by 312 votes, and wasn’t finally decided June 30, 2009, though  the initial recount ending Jan 5, 2009, showed he had won.

Franken easily won a second term, but was forced to resign in early 2018, the victim of a “Me, too” accusation, later found to be in-credible.  But by then, his Senate career was history.

Franken is now returning to the stage, and his three day stint at Acme, one of which I was privileged to attend in person, was a success.  Earlier in the week he was guest host on Jimmy Kimmel.  You can watch a segment from YouTube here.

Here is Al Franken’s website.  You can see upcoming comedy tour dates around the country.

POSTNOTE: I didn’t know Al Franken as an entertainer; I only knew him as a politician, and he was a high quality U.S. Senator, well informed and thoughtful.  My photo file has 66 pictures I took of he and Franny, his spouse, in various political contexts.  The only time I made a written request to his office, I got a prompt and complete reply, and he really didn’t know me at all.

In the end he had an ignominious political death by resignation.  Succinctly, I think he now wishes he had fought the false allegations, but he didn’t.  I think that by and large his Democrat colleagues agree that it was a mistake that he left.  Tina Smith, his replacement, is a very good Senator as well.

Political death by lies and innuendo has become a time-tested tradition in our country, and has spread into the general conversation about almost everything.  In my growing up, lies were sins, flat out.  Omission or Commission made no difference.  Nowadays lies are protected free speech.  The only antidote I can think of is to refuse to accept at face value anything that looks too good, or bad, to be true.  Seek out the facts before making the judgement.  And facts are not often found online chats.

Three Recommendations

I have ten or so posts on assorted topics in the works, but will probably not send out reminders until after Labor Day.  To check on recent posts go here, which always shows the most recent post; and the Archive is ready access to any past post.  I usually post once or twice a week, “as the spirit moves”.

The three below items are recommendations, should you have passed them by, previously (they are all from previous posts).

One:  Thoughtful viewing of these two videos can be very helpful understanding yourself and others, and they’re uplifting too.

[from July 29, 2022]  “4.  A Learning Opportunity for You: A Private Universe

Back in the late 1980s, my friend, Kathy, then a 5th grade teacher, sent me a handout from some inservice she had attended.  It had spoke to her.  I read it, and I kept it.

A couple of weeks ago for whatever reason she sent me the exact same handout she’d sent years ago.  It caused me to look at it much more carefully, and it spoke to me, and I think it can speak to all of us in these days when getting stuck in our own certainty is a major problem for our very society.

I think it came to me because she and I had recently chatted about the difficulty of conversing about politics in general, even with people we know well.

This time, I looked up A Private Universe on the internet, and I invite you to do the same.  In 1987 it was a learning research project with junior high school students, which apparently endures.

I invite you to in particular watch the videos #1 (the original, featuring junior high kids) and 8 (Q&A some years later with the ‘star’ of the original), which won’t take much of your time, and then translate their topic to your own contemporary idea about communicating with people with differing opinions from your own about most anything.

I think you’ll find the time well spent, and learn something about yourself as well.

Here’s the sheet Kathy sent me, not complete, but you’ll get the idea: Private Universe 1980s.  The videos will add much more.”


Two:  The two films, below, are directly related, about 40 years apart.  “The Day After” attracted 100,000,000 viewers in 1983.  “Television Event”  is about the making of the film.  The Director of the 1983 film, Nicholas Meyers, is the live guest on the webcast on August 24 Pre-registration info next para).

[from Aug. 7, 2022]: “PRENOTE: I’ve previously identified the on-line event relating to this with several very interesting remaining segments Aug 10, 17, 24, 31.  Details are here.  Please note especially Aug. 24 and 31.  Pre-registration is required for each segment, and early registration is recommended.  This is worth your time.  Take a look at the descriptors and enroll.

I watched “The Day After” with several hundred others ….  It was a wise use of time, as was viewing of Television Event, the story of the making of The Day After, a couple of days earlier.

Both films are easily available on-line.”


Three (upcoming event): [see posts for Aug 5, 2022, here, see #3; and here]

The Golden Rule.

The Golden Rule 2022

The Golden Rule  begins its Grand Loop of the midwest and eastern U.S. at Stillwater, Minneapolis and St. Paul Minnesota Sep 17-23.  Details are here:

Stillwater: Golden Rule Stillwater Sep 17-19

Minneapolis-St. Paul: Golden Rule Mpls:St Paul Sep 23-25

Grand Loop 15 month Draft Schedule: Golden Rule Grand Loop Sep 22 – Jan 24 at many places down the Mississippi and Gulf Coast, then up the east coast, etc.

The very interesting Golden Rule website is here.  For those on Facebook, GoldenRulePeaceBoat.

Anyone with any interest in the folly of  nuclear and other weaponized war will want to participate.  This is an opportunity to support an important demonstration of concern.  Please share.


from Judy:  your comment are always excellent.  Please take care.

I will wait until after Labor Day for moire news.  God’s blessing to you stay well.

from Jermitt:  I loved the video on the children learning about the phases of the moon and how we have seasons.  Thinking back to when I was a science teacher, I’m not sure if my students truly understood this interesting occurrence in their lives.  I know I covered this topic, but still not sure if they would remember these concepts today.  Thanks for sharing. Dick.



(Thoughts after) The Installation

PRE-NOTE: Today is the 87th anniversary of signing of the Act beginning Social Security.  More here.

Three other recent posts accessible here.


Saturday we attended the Installation ceremony for the new Pastor of Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis, Fr. Daniel Griffith.  It was an impressive and spiritual occasion, not overly formal, very positive, very fitting for this, our Church, the co-Cathedral of the Diocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis MN.  (As I type this, I am tuned in to the live-stream 9:30 a.m. Sunday Mass, presider Fr. Daniel Griffith, the new Pastor, whose duties began July 1.)

Fr. Griffith, Abp Hebda and other clergy at the Installation August 13, 2022

It is no secret that I am a lifelong participating Catholic.  To many, ‘Catholic’ is a mystery, even if 25% of Americans identify as Catholic, and over 20% of Minnesotans.

This simple definition is far too general.  If it were possible to do a deep dive into the beliefs and practices and history of the 100 people nearest to me in Basilica Saturday night, there would be many differences of opinion identified…and this is with people actually in the pews.  There would be a much broader definition if a same interview were done with first 100 people outside the church who self-identified as Catholic.  How about 100 representative of every American; of everyone on the planet…?

“Church” is a voluntary association.

Succinctly, we – Catholic and otherwise in this country – are an incredibly diverse lot, hardly susceptible to generalization; nonetheless part of a ‘family’, as is true of any faith or other kind of family.

In these tribal times, I am reminded of the quip by the pastor of a Tampa FL Catholic Church I attended shortly after the election of Pope Francis in 2013.

In my post at this space March 31, 2013, I said this: “As for the collective “Catholic” attitude towards the new Pope, I felt Fr. George “hit the nail on the head” early on in his homily. He recalled two bumper stickers from the time Benedict XVI was elected as Pope a few years ago. One simply said: “God’s Rottweiler”; the other, as simple, said “The Cafeteria is Closed”.
Of course the first comes from the left-wing of Catholicism: those who felt that Benedict would be the authoritarian enforcer; the other comes from the right-wing, who despise what some call “cafeteria Catholics”, who allegedly pick and choose what teachings to obey.
Then, of course, there’s everyone in between.
Anyone who attempts to typecast the “typical” Catholic is on a fools errand.
As for Pope Francis, my guess is that the “Rottweiler” faction is worried, and the “Cafeteria” faction more hopeful.”

Pope Benedict is retired, still living.  Pope Francis, as evidenced in his recent visit to Canada, is elderly and ailing, and may join his brother Pope in retirement at some early point.

At some point will come the election of another Pope, to which much significance will be attached.

Personally, I like the description of the Church I belong to, from our new pastor: “the beating heart of the Catholic Church is the Parish.”

Around the people and the parish will always swirl the assorted external actions in all their many forms, but in the end, it is each of us, whatever our belief, who make up the society in which we live.  We are the Church.

Final note: The readings for this weekend were all attention getting and foot for thought: Jeremiah 38:4-6, 8-10; Hebrews 12:1-4; and especially Luke 12:49-53 (including phrases like this “…from now on a household of five will be divided, three against two…”, and so on.

Fr. Griffith’s homily on Sunday addressed discussed this as “Disruptive Empathy” – a positive rather than a negative.  Do an internet search for the words, and you’ll find pertinent articles.

Fr. Griffith, a lawyer as well as Pastor, is also a proponent of Restorative Justice.

As a 25 year member of Basilica, I welcome Father Griffith, only the third Pastor in my 25 years as a Basilica member.


from Brian: That’s neat about the Catholic church! And I really enjoyed/agree with your article on the atomic bomb.

from Donna:   We heard the first sermon by our new pastor on Sunday.  I think he is very justice minded for sure.

I just wanted to call your attention to two things.
Did you see the front page article in the Minneapolis paper today [August 15] about the Afghan family? That is the family our Basilica team has been working with.  Such a joy to read.
The other thing is I am sending you a link to the last vigil at the Whipple.  Archbishop Hebda is speaking at the end [begins at about 49 minutes for about 4 minutes].  It was a moving vigil.  If you have time take a look

from Brad: After reading your blog re Catholicism, I thought you’d be interested in this local SF Bay Area article about a defrocked priest.  I am sure these are not uncommon issues, and they exist in many organized religions, institutions, and families.  Hopefully, positive change will happen with more open dialogue and parishioners’ efforts to create a change.

Exiled priest’s scorching ‘farewell letter’ to Catholic Church [note: this is a paywall article, where non-subscribers can only see the beginning of it, and the comments.  It is worth a look.]

response from Dick: The Catholic Church is a very large target, admitted.  I would freely admit to being in the left wing of the church, though that blurs the fact that I point out in the blog: the people I see are no cookie cutter clones, one of another.  I’ve heard a still practicing Priest observe that the estimate is that half of those ordained as Priests are no longer practicing, and by no means are all fired!  The greater problem is the hierarchy, the same as besets leadership of any entity.  Even the Pope is not King…in my position, I hoped for a moderate and in Pope Francis that was who I got, and I’m pleased.  Doubtless many others are not; this would apply to my parish, diocese,etc.
In the Postnote, below, mention is made of the Church currently being overloaded with “lawmen” in charge.  Even that is simplistic: our current archbishop earned a JD;  the new Pastor also has a JD.  They both are very decent human beings, best I can see.

Some years ago, I saw another descriptor in a newsletter edited by a former Priest, by and for clergy.  Somebody wrote that the hierarchy (Bishops, Cardinals) can be divided into three general groups, which he called “heroes, Neroes and zeros”.  A lifetime of experience in many places, always as a Catholic, seems to validate the labels.  I’ve known some of each.  Like any management, who you get can be a blessing or a curse, usually somewhere in between.  Indeed, I have a cousin who was a long-time Bishop, and thus I knew of some of the personal stresses and dilemmas of leadership.  If you’re interested, you can see a writing of his when he first became a Bishop in the 1970s.  Go here, scroll down to “Some Stories” to the third entry.

Succinctly, the church I’m in is by no means perfect.  Neither am I.  I don’t see any benefit in dropping out – it makes no sense.  There is no perfect destination.  Best to do the best I can to make it a better place.

POSTNOTE:  Some weeks ago I publicized one national groups collective thoughts submitted for the upcoming Synod on Synodality of the worldwide Catholic Church.  Rather than define the term, here’s the report, absent specific identification of group or place.   Synodality Synthesis June 2022

POSTNOTE 2: After publishing yesterday I thought of  additional comments I’d like to add.

First, During the Installation the Archbishop invited the Senior Pastor of Hennepin Avenue Methodist Church to welcome Father Griffith as Pastor.   Judy Zabel gave an inspirational welcome in behalf of her colleague pastors in the dozen or so major downtown churches in Minneapolis, including Christian, Jewish and Muslim congregations.  These pastors – the number of at least 12 comes to mind – have a years long tradition of collegially meeting monthly.  It is a great tradition, surviving changes in pastors, etc.  I think it has existed in some form for over 20 years.

Second, I got to thinking of the not-so ‘good old days’.  Back in the 1950s we lived in rural North Dakota and a very short walk away from our house was a country Methodist Church.  The elementary school classmate of one of my sisters was killed in a car accident, and the funeral was to be at that Methodist Church.  My sister wanted to go, but in the manner of those times, wasn’t allowed to attend, as it was a Protestant Church.  Of course, those days the feeling was mutual….  Catholics weren’t even considered Christian.  Ecumenism was essentially unknown in those less than enlightened times.

Third, The other thought related to the photo in this post.  All of the actors are white men.

That is, as it is. But you don’t need to dig very deep to find that women and persons of color are very actively involved in this church of mine.  Everyone is welcome.  The complexion of the church essentially fits the complexion of the greater community generally.

The gender piece relating to Priests is still a non-negotiable, but the crisis time is here: there are not sufficient new Priests to replace those who are leaving.  It’s a liturgical deal, of course.  But change needs to happen and will, albeit slowly.

POSTNOTE 3: Father Griffith’s Installation homily is here.


Voting for our childrens future

PRENOTE: My personal views on this issue are at the end of the post.  See “Personal View”.

Previous posts this week, here and here.  There will be a few on other topics in coming days.  Check back.

Aug. 9, 2022

Tuesday Aug 9, 2022, was Minnesota’s Primary Election.  I voted at about 7:30 a.m. and I was very impressed with the general organization and tenor at the site.

I always vote, in every election.  I’m accustomed to a positive experience, without exception, in past elections.

I wore my “I Voted” sticker all day and it was noticed, positively, several times.

Later that morning, I had coffee with a friend who had not yet voted in her community.  I asked if she would comment back on her reactions .  She didn’t know my impressions.  Later in the afternoon came her e-mail:

“All the poll workers greeted me.  I was surprised to be asked to read and sign an acknowledgement that I was not a felon, or something like that — I wish I could remember what it said.  I don’t remember that from years past.
I voted and thanked everyone for working the polls.  It was a very cordial atmosphere.  I put my red “I Voted” sticker on my car’s visor.  It is always in the down position so is visible when anyone looks at my car!”
I, too, had noted the “acknowledgment” form: “The acknowledgement is, I suppose, directed to the ’stop the steal’ folks.  A waste of paper, but I understand it.”

For this particular election and this post I decided to focus on the single non-candidate issue on the ballot: a major school referendum in my school district.  (In the Minnesota primary, the ballot is partisan – you can only vote the column for your party preferences.  The school election was separate, non-partisan, and open to all voters.)


According to the school district website: “The population of the district is approximately 98,100 people, including the more than 18,400 students who attend district schools.”  There are three high schools.  There  is an unknown number of home and parochial school population in the district.

Here are the results of the Referendum , linked in the school district report post-election:
70, 429  was the potential # of Eligible Voters (100%)
   7,782  Voted Yes
 14,834  Voted N0
47,813  did not Vote (68%)

What this means is very significant, about “we, the people”.

Of most concern to me, but typical of past non-presidential-year elections, was the low voter turnout.  Minnesota is very friendly to voters and voting.  There are few impediments to voting.  August 9 in my town was a perfect weather day.

But unless you voted, you have no say in outcomes.

There is little for winners to celebrate.  Those who won got about 20% of the eligible votes.  Two-thirds of those eligible to vote didn’t vote at all.  Where were they?

The need articulated by the proposal doesn’t end on August 9.  The costs will increase when the same changes come up again.

Below is essentially the only communication about this issue on the street or in my mailbox before I voted.  There were a few “Vote Yes” signs, but they were few in comparison.  School districts as public entities aren’t supposed to campaign for the issue, even though it would make sense that our public officials who made the decision for referendum could speak out publicly in favor of it.

lawn sign against the school district referendum request

For several months, the School District had a complete description of the issue on its website, and on request I received a 4-page pamphlet describing the issue.  I had earlier publicized it to this list, and it is here: 833 Referendum 2022.  I had no reason to ask more questions, though I’m sure I could have.
This was the extent of the public information citizens had about this important election.

A “Vote No” mailer opposing the referendum came to us by mail at 6 p.m., August 9, 10 hours after I had voted.  Here it is: ISD833 referendum mailer 2022.  I doubt it would change many minds.  Demands, particularly without even suggested solutions, and being against, are not very positive techniques.

Elections do have future consequences.  Vote well informed.

POSTNOTE: For those with an interest, here is the data of all MN Primary Election results August 9, 2022:

PERSONAL VIEW: The referendum issue has been public information since  February, 2022.  On April 21, 2022, the School Board, in a 6-1 vote, approved the plan, which went to vote on August 9, 2022.  There was very public information at every step in the process.

As noted above, the community rejected the proposal, mostly, I believe, by not even bothering to vote when the opportunity was available.

There is the famous saying, made famous by Pogo, “We have met the enemy, and they are us.”

It is easiest to look for culprits, who are never, it seems, ourselves.

The biggest dilemma of democracy is its greatest gift: the right of people to vote.

The anti-referendum folks really did not win anything at all; everybody lost.

The school district is under strict rules when it comes to school elections: it can release the facts, but it cannot take sides.  It followed its rules in this case, with a great plenty of sunlight.

The anti- forces were not under such constraints.  All they had to say in their own networks was “vote no”.

The issue was non-partisan, so it was off-limits to use party designation on campaigning.

Personally, I voted yes, and I requested, received,  and then sent the four page leaflet prepared by the School District to people with an interest in the issue.  Personally, I didn’t know the full details:  that is what elected representatives are for.  All but one (6-1) approved the plan that went to vote on August 9.

Schools will open on schedule in a couple of weeks.  None of the plans voted on were immediate – they were for future needs.

The issue will doubtless come up again.  Who knows what kind of strategizing will happen for next time?

No matter, the issue remains and the beneficiaries or the victims of whatever happens will be the nearly one of five residents of District 833 who are too young to vote.

They deserve better.

Thank you to the 833 School Board, and school district staff, who represent their interests.


Coincident with, but totally separate from the instant issue, came a most interesting lengthy article on the battle about public education generally.  For those interested, from Henry Giroux, here.

Molly, who sent the article, sent this note with it:

Hi Friends, This article is about American education K-12, and about the growing movements towards censorship of content, and of elimination of “how to” methods like teaching critical thinking skills.

The article—be warned–is a bit long—ie, needs a better edit job—but is an important, well-documented one (has a ton of references), & I think is worth it.

It scares the socks off of me. That’s partly because I was very very lucky, back in the Stone Age, to have a 2-year English class in high school that very deliberately taught critical thinking skills in our reading & writing…

It  has  been more and more evident to me that these skills are
increasingly lacking in US society, but I did not realize that they
are being consciously omitted/suppressed  in some educational systems…

COMMENTS (more at end):

from Carol: Sorry, but I’m going to disagree with you a bit on this one.  We voted early in-person.  It wasn’t until I downloaded the sample ballot that I actually focused that there was a school referendum.  (Sorry – like everyone, we’ve been a bit busy, not the least of which was battling Covid recently.)  Down in our corner of Woodbury, there were many lawn signs saying vote “No.”  I believed that was due to the district’s threat of closing Newport Elementary.  Now, I don’t know for sure if that is tied to this vote, but people here are not happy with the school district.  I’ve had friends who sent their kids to Newport, and they praised the school highly (one of them being very persnickety about where her kids got their education).

Also, in the past (altho’ you say the school district itself can’t campaign in these situations), I believe that we got mailings and phone calls from SOMEbody, encouraging us to vote “Yes” on a referendum.  This time, crickets.  The wording on the ballot was pretty generic.  I was one of those who voted – but skipped voting on the referendum, as I felt I definitely needed more information.  Now, that’s probably my own fault; on the other hand, we’re pretty aware of what’s going on, and we for sure support education.  So I’m guessing a lot of those who aren’t plugged into the system through their children felt a little blindsided as well.  That “ask” was for a lot of money.  They’ll regroup, and try again.

Response from Dick:  Many thanks for the comment. I hope the Covid has passed by.  There are things we all need to learn from this experience.  I personally started to pay attention to this when I saw the first Vote No signs going up, and, yes, they seemed more common in Newport (I drove over there specifically to see if this was true).   Without those Vote No signs, I would have been less likely to pay attention, though, as you know, at the polling place they called attention to the school district issue on the back.

I don’t follow this all that closely, normally.  In past years I do know that on some occasions there were Citizens Committees, unconnected with the official school network, that did get out the vote (probably similar to the Vote No bunch this time.  I do think that school districts, and perhaps other public entities, are constrained from ‘blowing their own horn’ in advocating for their own issues.  I’m not positive of that, but this election has caused me to look into that aspect further.

There certainly was no lack of easily available information in a timely manner – but one had to seek it out, and ask questions if need be.


“The Day After”, the day after.

PRENOTE: I’ve previously identified the on-line event relating to this with several very interesting remaining segments Aug 10, 17, 24, 31.  Details are here.  Please note especially Aug. 10.  Pre-registration is required for each segment, and early registration is recommended.  This is worth your time.  Take a look at the descriptors and enroll.


I watched “The Day After” with several hundred others on Zoom yesterday (Saturday).  It was a wise use of time, as was viewing of Television Event, the story of the making of The Day After, a couple of days earlier.

Both films are easily available on-line.

Joyce recommends also, another 1983 film, Testament, which she found even “more engaging and moving”.  I haven’t watched that yet, but will.

Each of the films deal with the horrors of the reality of nuclear war.  One line of script in The Day After stood out for me: “We knew about this for 40 years”,  a character says, remembering the dawn of the nuclear age during WWII.

I was watching the film near40 years after it had been released in 1983.

Afterwards I looked up a source that I trust on data, Nuclear Threat Initiativeand noted how little we appear to have learned in the long history of the Bomb.

Re the films, I won’t review here what can easily be viewed by anyone, anytime, anywhere.  The films are well worth your time, your thought, and your personal action, wherever you live.

Whose fault was it, is it, and will be?  This slavish devotion to the  sacred Bomb, and other things, that can destroy us.

My choice is “we, the people”.  We have many excuses for our inaction.

I have noted for a long time that a near mandatory requirement for a candidate for U.S. President is to be engaged in, at minimum, at least the threat of war against an ‘enemy’.  Political strategists know this.

A whole succession of Presidents were dragged into the near endless quagmire of Vietnam; then came the continuing quagmire of the Middle East; most recently has been the war against ourselves, neighbor to neighbor, most represented by the  aftermath 2016 election and literally the many years run-up to that election.

And now we have very active saber rattling by the U.S. and Russia (Ukraine), and China and the U.S. (Taiwan)…on and on it goes.

It isn’t quite as simple as just disarming and not doing war anymore.  We can’t just walk away from Ukraine – oh, we can, but it would be disastrous for more than the Ukrainians.  But that’s another topic.

Another line in The Day After was the famous quote attributed to Albert Einstein about nuclear: “I do not know with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”    I’m linking an analysis. about the specifics of the quotation itself, but there is no doubt in my mind that it was Einstein’s deep concern, whatever his specific words might have been, when or to whom, that he believed we were playing with the very future of all of us, if we play around with nuclear weapons.  And we’re far from having learned our lesson as a people.

POSTNOTE:  I wondered why I had never heard of “The Night After” before learning of it through the Zoom series earlier referenced.  It came clear when I learned that its airing on ABC was November 20, 1983.

Nov. 20, 1983, I was about two months into my personal ‘resurrection’ year – I say this almost literally.  I was in a new community and new job where I knew almost no one.  I was just beginning to dig myself out of a deep hole from two previous years that I will always describe as both the worst and best years of my life.

I do think that 1981-83 also represented an opening for programming such as the films referenced above.  I share one piece of evidence from my own life – my holiday card prepared around Thanksgiving time, 1982.  You can read it here, and it fleshes out, a bit, about where I saw our country at that point in time:  Nuclear War.

Now, 40 years later, we’re in very different times.  I have hope that the flame for peace and justice has not gone out.  And in bits and pieces we can all keep it alive.



The Bomb…

77 years ago today, the horror of the Atomic Bomb was unleashed over Hiroshima, Japan.  Three days later, the act was repeated at Nagasaki.

The debate will never end.  The act must never be forgotten, or repeated.

Here are two remembrances about the bomb, and the folly and the myth of war itself.

First, a column I wrote which was published in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, August 6, 2005: Atomic Bomb 1945001.

Second, the below column by my long-time friend Peter Barus in OpEdNews in July 18, 2020. reprinted with permission of the author.

(Today’s rendition of the Peace Boat, the Golden Rule, sets sail down the Mississippi River, beginning at Stillwater MN on September 2, 2022.  Details, including changes, will be reported here as they are known.  Here is a description of  the 2022 Golden Rule Project.  More can also be read here, starting at “Three.”)

Vietnam War Protest ca 1968 Philadelphia PA, the Golden Rule photo from Peter Barus, whose Dad  is pictured in the boat.

Peter Barus: My father, a founding Vet for Peace, had served on the battleship Indiana in War Two, and years later was photographed with two members of the Philadelphia Orchestra in a tiny sailboat, tacking across the bows of another battleship being recommissioned in the Philadelphia Navy Yard, with STOP THE WAR IN VIETNAM emblazoned on the sail in electrical tape. There was precedent for this.
Some informal historical background…
“Golden Rule” was, and is again, a small two-masted sailboat that was sailed by Albert Bigelow and George Willoughby into the Atomic Test Zone to stop the atomic bomb testing in the Pacific that contaminated the Marshall Islands. They were repeatedly towed ashore by the Coast Guard, and were not vaporized. But they did raise public awareness of this awful crime against humanity, the Earth, and life itself.
That was in 1958, and at the age of ten, I went down to Fort Detrick, MD, for my first peace vigil. I believe I met “Golden Rule’s” crew there. We were all excited about Golden Rule. Albert and George had just returned from being jailed again. George was part of our Meeting, I think. Margaret Rawson, another Quaker activist, was there, and her husband was the head of the biological weapons lab inside the fort, which was the object of our protest. That afternoon Margaret’s husband was visited by the military commander of the fort, who said there was a crowd of “Communists” at the gate, and offered an escort home. “No,” he replied, “My wife is out there with them, they’ll be coming to our house for dinner, would you like to join us?”

At the time, the US Government was not only irradiating inhabited Pacific islands, and spreading plutonium across the landscape in the Southwest, but injecting it into indigent patients in a hospital in Cincinnati to see what would happen to them. They died horribly of course. But “indigents” is one of those words that means “not White,” so this was not considered newsworthy. In the late eighties a friend of mine had been a lawyer for the above-mentioned islanders, so shamefully treated by our government after being intentionally deluged with fallout in the tests the Golden Rule had been trying to stop. To this day they are still suffering the effects of that terrible crime, and have only recently been allowed or forced to accept a few hundred dollars and return to their original home island, with its glowing beaches. The islanders and the “indigent” patients had all been the unwitting subjects of a horrific experiment, the effects of which were already well understood in Hiroshima and Nagasaki to be a hideous variety of unbearable ways to die. I was told that in the Cincinnati case, by a court order, a commemorative plaque was installed in a boiler room of the hospital.
The following, sent this week by the Vets for Peace Golden Rule Project, is all the more poignant to me in light of these memories…

“Seventy-five years ago today – July 16, 1945, the United States detonated the first atomic bomb, which was named “Trinity,” in New Mexico. In less than one month’s time, the first three nuclear weapons had blasted the planet, unleashing a destructive force with consequences that will linger for thousands of years.
This issue of the Golden Rule eNews is devoted to remembering those horrible events and to educating ourselves about the continuing impact U.S. militarism in the Pacific, with particular focus on Hawaii.
The Golden Rule peace boat is currently in Honolulu, sheltering-in-place until Covid-19 restrictions can be safely lifted in the Marshall Islands and throughout the Pacific. In the meantime, we remain committed to our mission to rid the world of nuclear weapons and to sail for a peaceful, sustainable future.
Seventy Five Years Ago – July 16, 1945 The Atomic Era Began with the Trinity Test in Alamagordo, New Mexico. It Changed the World Forever.
Both the yield (21 kilotons) and the fallout exceeded expectations of the scientists by far. Wind carried the fallout over a hundred miles and rolls of film as far away as Indiana was ruined. “If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst at once into the sky, that would be like the splendor of the mighty one. Now I am become Death, destroyer of worlds.”, said Robert Oppenheimer afterwards. Survivors and their descendants are still trying to get health care and compensation. Downwinders of that blast are still trying to get health care and compensation for the injuries to themselves and their descendants.
Because ten of the thirteen pounds of plutonium did not fission but were drawn seven miles into the stratosphere and rained back down on the planet, a huge area of the Southwest will be contaminated for 240,000 years with the most toxic poison known to man.
Just 3 weeks later, On August 6, Hiroshima, Japan was destroyed and 180,000 civilians died by the end of the year.
In five square miles of the city, 92% of the buildings were destroyed or damaged by the blast and fires.
On August 9, Nagasaki was bombed, with over 80,000 killed.
Tens of thousands died instantaneously and others died slowly and agonizingly as a result of burns and radiation. Survivors are still susceptible to leukemia, tumors, and post-traumatic stress. But the damage didn’t stop there – children and grandchildren of survivors had increased chances of small brain sizes, delayed development, blindness and increased susceptibility to leukemia and other cancers.
Atomic bomb survivors have worked hard all of their lives to assure that NEVER AGAIN will nuclear weapons be used!
Truman’s diary confirms that he knew Japan was trying desperately to get out of the war by opening a negotiating channel through Moscow.”

The salvaged and refurbished ship is in Hawaii, pinned there by The Virus on the road to Hiroshima. But the plucky little craft continues her voyage.
The list of outrages we now know about has grown in seventy-five years, and there are a lot of dots to connect. The persistent and rising resistance movement now includes and involves millions of people that Capitalism left in its toxic dust. It isn’t so much a movement as a kind of social sea-level rise, from the relentless heat of state repression. A system that can never provide either equity or environmental balance has defended the indefensible for too long.
But there’s a difference now. The surveillance is even more widespread, because it is in private hands, and therefore not constrained to secrecy so much as entitled to it. A Snowden inside The Book of Fe, um, Faces, for instance, might get sued, but wouldn’t have to leave the country for fear of being executed under some ancient sedition law or other. And the government can still get hold of your dossier the old fashioned way: buy it on the open market, like anybody else.
Except they no longer care about you. They’ve figured out that you are subject to currents and trends that are much more easily managed by software. You are just a data-point. It isn’t your opinion that matters, it’s where your gaze is pointed, that makes the big money now. And the big money decides.
There’s a new solidarity among people who are not in denial about what’s at stake for humanity. Old demographics have lost their meaning (which may explain why “targeted” advertising is losing so much money). It’s not the big names, Antifa or BLM or LGBTQ+ or “woke.” It’s much bigger than those great efforts combined. It’s simply people who don’t have a stake in “normal”. But it’s not that first wave of stake-non-holders, so clueless and terrified they flocked to a bloodthirsty psychopath. These folks watch and learn. They know the difference between shite and shinola. They know that money could be found to pay everyone in America to stay home until The Virus settles down, and build more homes for the people who don’t have one, and hand out enough PPE for everybody to change them often. Read up on this in Stephanie Kelton’s new book, “The Deficit Myth.” The banks and hedge funds just got trillions and what are they doing with all that loot? Sitting on it. Read all about that in “Levers of Power.” Kevin Young has just explained to us all how History Shows Disruptive Protest Works, where neither violence nor electoral politics can. And it’s just fighting fire with fire, as long as you identify the fire accurately: money is the fire, not the SWAT teams. They have to get paid to repress people. That means the people they repress have to spend money. And while you’re at it, look up Veterans for Peace, and see what you can do to help.
Just for starters.