Friday, September 26, 2008

Clarion Playing Hardball

Greetings fellow Network of Love Lovers,

Friday, WOW, TGIF...and, I'm speaking on behalf of those in the Chicago area, it looks to be an absolutely sunny warm, wonderful day weather wise. I hope you enjoy the start of your weekend.

As a source of inspiration for my reflection today, I want to share a story from NPR:

Morning Edition, September 26, 2008 · Just after the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, a small charity group flooded campaign battleground states with an inflammatory DVD on radical Islam. Critics say the charity is trying to influence the presidential race.

Earlier this month, subscribers to 70 newspapers in 14 states got a little something extra: A DVD that argues the same hard, militaristic line on terrorism that John McCain takes in his presidential campaign.

It's called Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West. The DVD was made in 2006, before this presidential contest began, and it doesn't even allude to electoral politics.

But, filled with dire warnings about Islamic terrorists, it hit doorsteps seven weeks before Election Day. And critics say it fuels the false whisper campaign that Barack Obama is secretly a Muslim.

Madaline Muir of Montgomery County, Pa., got the DVD in her Philadelphia Inquirer. She called it propaganda.

"It's to influence people. Sent out now. Whenever it was made, 2006, but it's really to influence people in the election and scare people," she said.

Obsession was produced by the Clarion Fund, a 501(c)(3) charity, which cannot get involved in campaign politics.

But its spokesman has said the newspaper distribution had one purpose: to make terrorism a presidential campaign issue where it counts — in the battleground states. He said Clarion did this with a half-million dollar grant from a secret donor.

And others have been promoting Obsession in other ways. Joe Wierzbicki, a political consultant, offered free copies of the DVD to listeners on a talk show in Detriot last month. He was promoting a free screening of Obsession on Sept. 11 in Dearborn, a city with a large Arab population.

Who paid for the screening? And who hired Wierzbicki to handle it? Wierzbicki wouldn't tell local reporters. On Thursday, he didn't respond to NPR's interview requests, and neither did the Clarion Fund.

It's illegal for a 501(c)(3) to advocate expressly for or against a candidate. None of Clarion's three directors have any record of contributing to the candidates. But some political connections do emerge.

Wierzbicki, the movie promoter, also works for two political organizations. He's an organizer for Move America Forward, a political action committee that just produced an ad accusing Obama of playing politics with soldiers' lives.

He also is the PAC coordinator for the Our Country Deserves Better PAC. Its Web site says it has one objective: to defeat Obama.

A multi-faith coalition called Hate Hurts America has launched a Web site to counter allegations made in the DVD. And an Arab rights group, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, has asked the Federal Election Commission to investigate Clarion for possible violations of campaign finance law.

"Where is that money coming from? And what is the agenda of those behind this campaign? And who is behind this campaign ultimately?" Ibrahim Hooper, the council's spokesman, asked, regarding the DVD.

Those kinds of questions are often asked at the height of campaign season. But even if the election commission decides to investigate the Clarion Fund, the answers would likely be months away.


It's a troubling piece to read because it shows Clarion, a non-profit group that isn't supposed to play politics, is trying to stir up fear about extremists and terrorism right before the election. I would really like to watch this DVD and see what this group is doing. It's unsettling what Clarion is doing. This is how unjust stereotypes arise. This is how we make a river out of what may just be a gentle stream of difference of opinion. This is why the United States gets a bad rap from so much of the rest of the world. We're not living out the tenants our country was founded on when groups like Clarion go on the attack. It makes all of us, the U.S. as a whole, look like the bully who doesn't want to take the time to understand the complexity or actuality of a situation or a group of people. Groups like Clarion need to be condemned for the unrest they bring to civilians and to our world at large. The kind of message Clarion delivers is the kind of message that gets our country, our world into problems, disasters, wars.

I hope that U.S. citizens will look beyond the paranoid message Clarion proposes and instead turn toward taking a more professional, peaceful, people-centered message when confronting complicated world issues.

peace and have a great weekend all my friends!

with love,

your friend bob.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Quick Update

Greetings fellow Network of Love Lovers!

Yesterday, I fasted in an attempt to connect with Muslim friends near and the Muslim community at large. I admit, I cheated a little bit. I was out to dinner and started eating a little before the sun truly set. I'll be honest, it was not easy to go without water throughout the day. And without having a pretty heart breakfast right before the sun rose, I think a day of fasting would have been incredibly difficult to me. I have a new found respect for the commitment of devout Muslims to the faith they live and show the world. Wow.

There is something to be said about the calming and peaceful affects that stem from fasting. Towards the end of my fast yesterday, I felt like I was less busy plotting the future of paper writing, social endeavors, eating, exercising or otherwise. I was still thinking of all these things in a sense, but in another sense, I was more focused with what was right in front of me; the always changing concept of what the NOW is. As I focus more on the present of the presence of practicing fully living in the present moment, I realize the greater gift life has to offer us. Love is something in our minds, is something nestled deeply in our heart and soul, but ultimately something we are called to live freely, outwardly in the present moment. By fasting, in some small way, I was able to muse on some of the truths we try to constantly find in this life.

peace and with love,

your friend bob.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Ramadan Request to my Friends

Greetings fellow Network of Love Lovers!

It's a spectacularly sunny Thursday here on the northeast side of Chicago. If I peak through my window to the world outside, I'm "blinded by the light," if you will. El sol!

My last few posts have sort of called for a greater respect for Islam and an understanding of the Peace that many of the world's religions collectively seek. On Monday, I wrote that I plan to partake in one day of fasting during this month of Ramadan to, as a Christian, show my respect for and friendship with my Muslim sisters and brothers. It's a very small way to do this, but it is a way I, as an individual, can somehow connect with a group at large. I encourage anyone who would also like to fast to join me this coming Tuesday, September 23. It will require abstaining from food and drink of any sort from approximately sun up until sun down. My friend Khady said, if she gets up early enough, she will eat a meal before sunrise and drink water so she has some energy to carry through the day until the sun goes down. If you have the ambition to wake up before the sun rises, then it may be a good idea to eat and drink.

If you do plan to fast along with me on Tuesday September 23, please let me know and I will share with Khady a list of the non-Muslims who are sharing in the fast to show support and love for all practicing Muslims. Feel free to send me an e-mail confirming that you plan to fast. If you are Christian or Jewish, you might want to use it as a day to connect with your own idea of God. If you are not a religious person, you might want to use the day as a day to simply connect with people around the world you might not often get an opportunity to share in fellowship or friendship. No matter where you stand, you can stand for Peace. Consider the fast a day to pray for Peace and an end to some of the turmoil that wades on our world community.

Here is a short story from an Anonymous author taken from a book called The Sower's Seeds, a collection of 100 inspiring stories. It opens our eyes to the notion that some people see things differently than us. However, different doesn't mean wrong. Rather, witnessing something different can actually be a moment of discovery for us.

If you asked someone "What's half of eight?" and received the answer "Zero," your first reaction would be, "That's nonsense." But stop a moment! Think of the numeral 8. The figure is composed of two small 0's – zeros – one piled on top of another.
Take it further: If a line were drawn down the middle of 8, you would have two 3's standing face-to-face. From that perspective, half of 8 would be 3!

I pray that today we may all experience a moment where half of 8 is 3.

Let me know whether or not you would like to participate in the fast on Tuesday September 23. Thank you much!

peace and with love,

your friend bob.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Muslim, Jewish, Christian Prayer for Peace

Greetings fellow Network of Love Lovers!

It's Monday and, though I'm generally a morning person, I'm feeling a bit sluggish today. Maybe the coffee will jumpstart my day. Or maybe getting some much needed assignments completed will jumpstart my day. Or maybe a combination of both!

As Muslims continue to enter to take a journey into Ramadan, a month of fasting and prayer to God, I thought I would share a Monotheistic prayer for peace I obtained from a Pax Christi blog. Pax Christi, as little as I know about it, is considered a Catholic Peace Movement. This prayer was posted in a blog on December 7, 2007 and was meant to be prayed by those around the world seeking an end especially to the War in Iraq. In the blog, the author hopes that 2007 would be the last year the prayer would have to be said. Unfortunately, it looks like this December we may need to unite and pray for peace again. It seems to be a never ending, always needed prayer request.

The Muslim, Jewish, Christian Prayer for Peace

O God, you are the source of life and peace.
Praised be your name forever.
We know it is you who turn our minds to thoughts of peace.
Hear our prayer in this time of war.
Your power changes hearts.

Muslims, Christians, and Jews remember,and profoundly affirm,
that they are followers of the one God, children of Abraham, brothers and sisters;
enemies begin to speak to one another;
those who were estranged join hands in friendship;
nations seek the way of peace together.
Strengthen our resolve to give witness to these truths by the way we live.

Give to us:
Understanding that puts an end to strife;
Mercy that quenches hatred;
and Forgiveness that overcomes vengeance.
Empower all people to live in your law of love.

Sometime before the end of Ramadan, I, as a Christian pretty ignorant of many of the fundamental aspects and practices of Islam, vow (that's a strong word!)---promise, plan to (maybe a little easier to say) share with my Muslim sisters and brothers in a day of fasting. Practicing Muslims spend the entire month of Ramadan fasting from sunrise to sunset, abstaining from food AND drink.

I will try and push through one day to, in some small way, show solidarity and respect for the Muslim friends I have made thus far. In particular, I plan to share in the fast with my friend Khady. She will be leading a group from Loyola to travel and help New Orleans continue to rebuild and repair its community come spring break. Yesterday, all Alternative Break Immersion leaders finished a weekend retreat to help us begin to prepare to lead our groups on immersions. I thought it was really something that Khady was more than willing to attend a Catholic mass with our group and to skip some of her daily prayer time to be with us on retreat. To me, it was an example of a person making an individual statement of unity that symbolizes the potential for unity on a religion to religion, community to community, nation to nation level.

So I encourage anyone, regardless of his or her faith tradition, to share with Khady for one day this month and take part in Ramadan. Find out the basics about what Ramadan is and then even invite friends and family to share in the fast. And if you do take part in it, try to strive and make it a personal commitment to be open and compassionate to the various people in our world pray and find peace.

Peace and blessings.

with love,

your friend bob.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Poem after Wrestling with Peace

Greetings fellow Network of Love Lovers!

TGIF…It has been a busy week here on the bob home front. Busy, but really satisfying. I hope all is well with all of you!


For about 15 minutes last night, I sat in a quiet place, a chapel actually, and allowed various images of 9/11 enter my mind. Truth be told, this practice infiltrated several moments of fairly intense desolation into my psyche. My mind showed me pictures of what was the twin towers and what had been made of them. My mind showed me the toppling of Saddam Hussein’s statue in Iraq. My mind showed me video-like feeds of starving Iraqi civilians, especially women and children.

As I continued to reflect, I started wrestling with my God. How could an All-loving Creator let tragedy dip its hand so violently into our world? And then I found a moment of consolation from the teachings of my faith tradition. As Christians, we seek God through a source of light we call Christ. Jesus of Nazareth lived and died as a human. He SUFFERED at the hands of other humans. While Christians believe that Jesus rose mysteriously from the tomb on Easter morning and that his Spirit continues to live as a result of that divine mystery, they can not forget that Jesus died a painful, agonizing human death. He cried out, as blood trickled from his hands and feet, “My God, why have you forsaken me?” He SUFFERED and wrestled with God.

So how did I possibly receive consolation from reflecting on the sufferings of a person who my religious tradition claims is the Son of God, one of the three equal parts of a Trinitarian, three-in-One? On the surface, you might suspect that finding solitude in suffering is sick. On the contrary, I would argue that finding solitude in suffering is spiritually enlightening…after you’ve mourned and realize that all that is left to do is to try and make light where there seems to be only darkness. If I put my faith in a God “that is good ALL of the time,” to borrow a phrase often used by a very holy person, Deacon Edward Blaze from All Saints Catholic Church in Milwaukee, I can’t blame the evils in the world on God. At the same time, I must, if I want any good, and thus, in a sense, God to prevail in this world, the kingdom here on earth if you will, I need to work with brothers and sisters who do the people of this world harm and who inflict pain on individuals, cultures and, in some cases, even the world community at large. No evil is too evil to be overcome by the power of good that arises from people working towards a common labor to love and serve. Call me an optimist, that’s fine, but I hope and pray and really do feel that PEACE can prevail. Too many people want it to happen. We all have to pull our weight and, in whatever way we are capable of doing so, we all have an obligation to spread the message of peace that transcends any political, religious, cultural divisions that bring us into conflict with one another. If you are for peace, then you must preach and be peace. It is a difficult vocation to grasp, but it is one that we can slowly plant and watch grow in the depths of our souls.

Here is a plan I wrote last night after being with friends and going to a talk about peacemaking. I found much consolation after wrestling with God shortly earlier in the night. The poem is pretty rough, so bare with me…

If we can be peace, let us be so.
Let us be made peace incarnate,
A brand new image in the likeness of all realities harmonious
Let us deliver our victory symphony
To all the ends of the earth,
So that all creatures may agree and believe
‘Peace on Earth’ is more than a bumper sticker saying.

When we mourn, let our tears turn into pools where peace may one day swim.
When we laugh, let it be the laugh that comes
from the Peace that rests in the very depths of our being.

Let us be Peacemakers,
but let us be even more than that.
Let us be PEACELIVERS, so that the words we utter,
the actions we choose to take,
And the prayers we speak both aloud
And in the silent forest of our heart may convey a natural,
Timeless, pure Peace that leads mortal life towards
The abyss of Eternal Life. AMEN.

With love to all my friends,

Your friend bob.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Seven years later

Greetings fellow Network of Love Lovers,

I am excited to announce that the Network of Love blog is officially on IGnation, a special page on the Loyola University website dedicated to student content. Feel free to check out the page by going to From there, IGnation shouldn’t be too difficult to get to. If you are accessing this via IGnation, thank you for checking out the Network. I would love to hear from you if you have any questions or comments, if you disagree with what I am saying, or if you would be interested in adding content in the future. I want the Network to be an open invitation to all who want to write about anything that especially tugs at their heart.

Where were you seven years ago, this very day? I still remember where I was very vividly. I believe I had just finished 3rd period and was on my way to my next class. Students were babbling about something important, but I didn’t quite know what. At the time, it probably seemed like our typical high school gossip–––maybe something had happened to a celebrity or something. But then I remember hearing the news, what was deemed draw dropping news by my peers. The word that consumes the hallways was that the World Trade Centers had been bombed. To be serious, as an eighth grade student, I did not understand the meaning or monstrosity of such an event. Two big, really big, buildings in New York had been bombed. As the news became more specific, I found out that planes had flown into the buildings. Why would planes fly into those buildings? Weren’t the pilots trained to fly the planes high enough so as to avoid towers?

As the day moved on, it became quite clear that this story wasn’t going to go away. This news, like the World Trade Center towers was going to be big, really big. During most of our classes, I remember watching one of the big three news networks. I remember the slue of journalists, panting and grasping for some sort of meaning to the tragedies. I remember the picture of the plane crashing into the buildings–––how could I forget? It was shown to us constantly, so as to make sure everyone felt the pain of the people on the planes and in the buildings.

I remember the pictures of people yelling on the streets below the burning building, grown people crying, grown men crying. There were reports of people who decided that jumping would be superior to burning to death on floor 51. The firefighters, the police officers, the people rushing to the scene to save others. They tirelessly dug for bodies and hoped and prayed that another life could be excavated from the growing pile of concrete and building scraps. Ground Zero, as it came to be known, became the symbol of what had happened to the U.S. Terrorists had been the ones who had flown the planes into the building. Terrorists from the Middle East attacked us. Islamic extremists, Osama bin Laden, al Quada, had been the masters pulling the strings of the puppet suicide bombers.

After that fateful, terrifying day, our world changed forever. September 10, 2001 became the eve of 9/11. Terror over terrorism swept our nation. In they eyes of some, Islam meant extremism, which equated to terrorism. The patriot act became law and it became acceptable in the land of the free to be extra cautious of someone with darker skin wearing un-American clothing. It became acceptable for a police officer or security guard or any citizen to sit and stare at a person and assume they are villainous because they look different.

On 9/11, we lost 2,976 more lives than we ever should have. 2,740 of those lives were citizens of the U.S. 236 of those people who lost their lives because of the actions of terrorists were foreigners. It was a devastating and deadly day. It was like Pearl Harbor but with extended media coverage. 9/11 brought our country towards a War in Iraq. 9/11 made Osama bin Laden a household name. 9/11 brought into the conscious of citizens of the U.S. the entire Middle Eastern world. But unfortunately, as what happens when we hear something from someone who heard something from CNN, things get construed. People get put into groups. Groups become larger and larger. Stereotypes arise. We make false assumptions about entire nations, peoples and religions. We are faced with the dilemma of not knowing how to locate Iraq on a map, but knowing that we are at War with Iraq and that Iraq is a country in the Middle East.

I am just as guilty as accepting and buying into stereotypes as anybody else in this world. Though I desperately want to open myself to the reality that is our entire world community, I realize I have my limitations. I can only try to be the most understanding, compassionate person that I can be. You can only try to do the same.

As a Christian and seminarian, I can’t help but bring a quote from scripture that speaks to how to go about being compassionate, open individuals.

“Be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and playing to the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks always and for everything.” (Eph 5: 18, 19)

This particular passage is attributed to Paul, one of the most beloved early preachers and teachers in Christianity. The conversion story of St. Paul is amazing; he was truly changed by one momentous meeting with the Spirit of Jesus Christ. 9/11 changed our world forever in that we lost innocent life. In some ways, this might make Americans bitter, angry, even enraged with those who instigated the attacks. It is understandable to be upset and troubled by what happened on that day. We must never forget the emotions that stirred our hearts the morning we found out what had happened, or that someone we might have known–––or even loved–––had fell victim that day. That morning we mourned. Everyday, in some small way, we still mourn. We all mourn. Today we mourn for the victims of 9/11.

Today, I think I also mourn for the state of our world. There is no doubt good being accomplished in our global society. So many individuals give so much of their energy to causes larger than themselves. Hope flows from every corner of Loyola University’s campus and seems to extend far beyond the horizons of Lake Michigan. But I mourn because so many stereotypes still persist. Like parasites, our ignorance of people, places and events causes us to fall on our face when trying to solve problems. We run into issues when we do not know the facts but decide to fib our way to believing we understand things. Stereotypes kill people, sometimes figuratively, and, when put into action, sometimes literally. One thing I am truly grateful for learning my freshman year in college: a Muslim practices Islam. All Muslims are not extremists. Terrorists come from all different belief systems in all different shapes and sizes. A majority of practicing Muslims, like a majority of practicing Christians, really fight for the most basic and true cause we can think of: PEACE.

Today, let us be ministers of peace. Today, let us think of ourselves as being called to a particular vocation: The vocation of PEACEMAKER. I encourage you to start a relationship with someone who holds a different belief than you do. Start small, or maybe build a bridge you didn’t think could stand.

This entire month is Ramadan, a month of fasting, prayer and a time when Muslims seriously strive to connect or reconnect with their God and their brothers and sisters. Today is a day when we could really step into the greater world community and share a bit in fasting with our Muslim sisters and brothers. At the very least, we could share in prayer with them, knowing that all of us who strive to love, whether Muslim, Jewish, Christian, or otherwise, strive to work towards peace. Let us be PEACEMAKERS, for blessed are the peacemakers. Let us be one in LOVE. May we dance in the Spirit of opening our hearts to those that may seem different. May we understand that diversity can make our world stronger and can be the hammer that nails the message of PEACE, not the nail that pierces peace.

Let’s hope and pray and work for peace.

With love to all my friends,

Your friend bob.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Mom's Wisdom: Politics and Abortion

Greetings fellow Network of Love Lovers!

This post comes to you moments before I plan to take a nice Monday afternoon nap. I'm tired but I must take a run later this afternoon!

This reflection was inspired by an e-mail between my mom and I. Yesterday, I sent her an e-mail in regards to an article I read on

Greetings mom!

I found an article on that reports Obama feels he was too "flip"
when responding to Pastor Rick Warren's question about abortion during the
interview at his church in California last month. Personally, I am glad
that Obama has addressed this issue. When listening to him speak about
abortion that night, his answer did come out as cold and seemed to lack some
compassion arguably. Interesting too in this article to note Biden's stance
on abortion. Tell me what you think about the article. It's really short.

peace in the middle east.

with love,

your son bob.


My mom's response was very pastoral (makes sense, she is a pastoral leader in the Catholic Church!), very heartfelt, and very understanding of the complexities that surround abortion. Nevertheless, my mother takes a stance on conception that comes from a very personal experience and happens to coincide with the teachings of the church she belongs to. Her writing is might see where some of my inspiration to write comes from.

Hello Honey
Honestly, when i heard Obamas answer to Rick Warren that night, i too
thought that Obama was trying to say that the mysteries of life and when it
begins are too large for him to answer. I think that Obama is a very
thoughtful and caring person, in fact after the Saddleback interviews i told
your Dad that i got the impression that both Obama and McCain were
incredibly decent people and that was a blessing for our nation, no matter
who wins.
Bidens stance is common among many persons, Catholic and otherwise that
I know. I don't mean to be sexist about this, but i do think that a man who
never carried a child would come more to this opinion, because i say this
with all humility and respect for all of the wonderful men i have been
blessed to know and love in my life, from the moment you and your brother
were concieved, I was totally aware in a deep, inner, unexplainable way that
there was new life within me.
In fact, this Saturday one of our Spiritual Mentoring instructors,
Sister Virginia Stone ( you would absolutely love her Robert, she is like a
female version of Rolhieser) anyway, we were talking about each of us being
a light of Christ, she said that at the moment of conception it has been
captured by scientific means, that there is a burst of life when the sperm
implants itself in the egg, - thus in the creed when we say Light from Light
part of could be translated into Life from Life if you will, the life of
that little fertilized egg from the Life that is God of the Universe. That
spark of light at the moment of conception being the Light of Christ renewed
over and over in every human being created in the image of God.
Another thing that re-inforced my belief that mother and child know each
other in the depths of our souls happened when i accompanied Grandma to her
echocardiogram several years ago. I took her to her cardiologist
appointment and he ordered an echocardiogram which is a visual ultrasound of
the heart of sorts. For some reason the technician asked me if i wanted to
stay in the room while he did the procedure and i said sure.
Anyway, there in the dark room was a screen of an ultrasonic type of pix
of my mothers beating heart. The beating of her heart was muffled but clear
and when i heard it i immediately knew that sound from somewhere deep in my
soul. Keep in mind that i am a nurse who has listened to thousands of
heartbeats while assessing patients, but this heartbeat of my mother was
something my soul remembered when i was just a little zygote, fetus, baby-
whatever the label living underneath that very familiar heart for nine
In my work as a nurse, i also remember years ago, shortly after hospital
abortions were more openly allowed, holding a sobbing woman in my arms
because she came back to our surgical floor after having been talked into
aborting her baby, and she wept in my arms realizing that she had just
extinguished a true life within her. Thats another aspect that pro-choice
persons don't consider, all the years of pain and guilt that women who have
undergone abortions feel when they are rushed into making a decision to get
rid of their baby. Oftentimes these poor women carry that guilt with them
and they marry and raise children and can be overcome with such grief and
guilt that they do abusive things to surviving children - its on the order
of post-traumatic syndrome years after abortions. The press doesn't talk
much about it, but it is a real medical/psychological phenomonom.
So, I take that into account when each candidate gives their answers,
they each have their own experiences and they are only human.
Lots to think about. A lot longer than your article.
Thanks for sharing this Robert
You are a light in the world, and i've known it since the moment you were
just a spark of light within.
Love and Blessings on your Day


I hope my mom doesn't mind that I shared this with all of you! Mom, you are a light in the world as well, a light that allowed me to turn my light on! Amen!

with peace and love to all Network of Love Lovers,

your friend bob.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

A Utopian Buffet

Greetings fellow Network of Love Lovers!

I am wrestling with Wednesday, or “hump day” for so many of us. It’s not too bad though. I will be heading to Milwaukee for pictures and dinner with fellow college seminarians and with some of the formation staff in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. The homework load is already becoming hectic, even at this innocent, early part of the semester. I will see what academic storms are on the horizon and I pray that my ship can stay afloat! Please realize I would love to post more often on the network, but it is difficult to find the time to sit down and write a post I am confident in sharing with the public. I will do my best to make time for a most soothing of practices–––blogging.

Today, I want to just talk shortly about a modern day tycoon. I want to talk about a rich person, a really, really rich person? Is this the same kid who went to El Salvador in May and experienced a haunting display of poverty? Or the same kid who struggles to find and fine-tune his own voice of justice in a country he knows needs fixing? Is this honestly the kid who, question as he might some of the teachings of his own church, finds solace and inspiration in much of the social justice and economic teaching of the Catholic Church? Yes it is. I want to talk about a tycoon who seems to have some heart, Warren Buffet.

We talked about Buffet, the multi-billionaire U.S. citizen, in my political science course today. I learned something about this rich, rich person that surprised and intrigued me. Apparently, Buffet, on several occasions, has gone in front of congress to lobby for an incredibly high death tax to be paid by those, like himself, who make a giant wad of money. He thinks it is his duty, because he was born into a society that enabled him to grow in his own understanding of investing and economics, to, after he dies, return a majority of the money he has made on investments back to the country he was born in. Buffet would like his children to receive one million dollars from his estate and the U.S. government the rest. In the case of Buffet, this is incredibly generous. He is the world’s third wealthiest man, or something like that. He is a billionaire more times than we can count using all our fingers and toes. Even an octopus would have a hard time using its tentacles to count how many times over Buffet is a billionaire. Point being, Buffet is rich. But he wants that money to go back to the states that, in part, allowed him get to the financial state he rests in. I find this admirable.

Coincidentally, I am in the middle of reading Utopia (written in 1516), a classic written by Sir Thomas More. This man, a gifted lawyer, member of the king’s court, under sheriff of London, dedicated father and husband, and, in time remembered as a saint of the Catholic Church, was an incredibly gifted individual who presented some radical political and social ideas in Utopia. He riffed off of some of the concepts of the ancient philosophers, especially Aristotle, to create a story of a society where people seem to live in what we would now refer to as, thanks to the title More gave the land, an “utopia.” In the story, one of the characters Raphael described as an “aloof idealist” in the anthology I am reading from has this to say about the different classes in his society.

“The rich are rapacious, wicked, and useless, while the poor are unassuming, modest men who work hard, more for the benefit of the public than of themselves.”

What Raphael has to say holds some truth in that some people truly worship money, especially in the United States. I am sure we can all point to times in our life when, as middle class citizens, we allowed money to overwhelm our five sense to a point difficult to return to. Money can become an addiction just like sex or drugs or eating.

However, when some really, really rich person like Warren Buffet desires to give his money away when he dies, and to give to charity while he lives, then it seems safe to say he is willing to part with the worldly object enough to find the real kingdom.

The gospel has this to say about the rich: Jesus said to his disciples, "I can guarantee this truth: It will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven.”

I propose that Warren Buffet, driver of a 2001 Lincoln Town Car, advocate of an incredibly high death tax, giver of money to the poor, has a place in the kingdom. It seems to me he is already living in the kingdom, living in a spirit of giving and detachment from his money. At least he realizes his money shouldn’t be “Scrooged.” So, instead of playing the Jacob Marley, he plays the Scrooge who didn’t need to be haunted by the spirits. Instead, Buffet is giving back. As you know if you’ve spent some time with me, I’m not an economic conservative by any stretch of the imagination. Nevertheless, I have to give credit where credit is due. From what I heard about Warren Buffet in my class today, I would say he deserves a nod from us who breathe the air of thousands, not billions.

Peace friends and have a great rest of your week!

With love,

Your friend bob.