The Gospel Truth

Killer Angels

August 6, 2015
1 Comment

I wanted to be English major in college until an adjunct History professor at Holy Cross enthralled me with his military exploits as a Marine tank commander in the Pacific Theater during World War II and Korea. His personal experiences within the broad context of Asian History, presented such a broad spectrum of heroes, philosophy, and human conflict that I spent the next nine years studying the discipline, collecting a pair of graduate degrees along the way.

Historical facts came easy in grad school. It was the different interpretations that made history difficult. Most historians were so awash in a sea of relativity that it made the past nearly unintelligible. Some stressed history as a study of heroic figures. Others saw it as materialistic determinism.

My personal definition focused on history as the story of man’s human nature in time. While its pages portrayed people in different milieus, there always was one essential constant. Man’s human nature never changed. It was likened to the philosopher Heraclitus’ flowing river, which was always changing while remaining the same river. Each historical era does things a bit differently but its people still maintain their inborn attraction to evil.

This explains why that in thousands of years of recorded history, only 22 years have been free of war, according to the late Bishop Fulton J. Sheen. Violence is and always will be an essential part of human nature. While no one is born rotten to the core, as the Calvinists would have us believe, man has never been the “angel” the French Philosophes, purported him to be.

The French reign of terror with its menacing guillotine disproves that idea during the last decade of the 18th century abrogated that idea. Men are more like what late historian Michael Shara called “killer angels,” capable of great love and charity but with a stark propensity for war and destruction.

Since the French Revolution, philosophers have attacked the Church’s teaching on man’s human nature with regard to sin. Its philosophical heirs, Marx, Darwin, and Freud denied the entire concept of original sin.   A behavioral license to act without consequence has become their universal standard by which belief, morality and personal conduct is to be judged. It is this inherent philosophical conflict of the “City of God” versus the “City of Man” that is at the epicenter of the “culture war.”

Pope Benedict’s statement on Limbo and the “hope for unbaptized babies” has clouded the debate even further. It prompted the late University of Notre Dame Theology professor, Fr. Richard McBrien to opine, “if there is no limbo…it has to follow that “everyone is born in the state of grace.”

This reasoning leads to only one logical conclusion that baptism does not wash away the “stain,” of original sin and Christ’s death and Resurrection were unnecessary. Father McBrien’s interpretation marches in lockstep with the progressive fallout from the French Revolution, which has assumed an Immaculate Conception, which they ironically deny for the Blessed Mother, for every other human being who ever lived.

Progressives explain away the lingering question of evil with the same twisted logic of comedian Flip Wilson’s female character “Geraldine,” whose illicit behavior always prompted the response, “the devil made me do it!” This thinking is akin that of an ex-professional basketball player when arrested for drug possession said: “drugs ruined my life,” making made him the unwitting victim of his own sins.

What the left fails to understand is that we are all tarnished angels who have an inner yearning to revolt against the moral integrity of our being. Catholic convert G. K. Chesterton once opined that original sin was the one Catholic doctrine that never needed any proof. All one had to do “was read a newspaper…”or he might have added… a history book.

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The Wow Factor: 49 Reasons for Joy

September 12, 2011
9 Comments

I have often wondered why so many of my fellow Catholics, who are more devout than I am don’t smile more.

Since smiling is usually the product of a clear conscience, you would think that they would smile more.

In fact some of them can be extremely pushy, angry and short-tempered.

Perhaps it’s because they bear the weight of the world on their shoulders or think something is wrong with enjoying life too much.

These people have lost or probably never had what Jesuit Father William O’Malley, S.J called the Wow factor.

I must have that because I am always saying wow,  as I see or do things that just make my spirit soar until I think my heart is going leave my body!

Last Tuesday was my birthday.  I was 68 years old.

A friend told me age was just a number.  Actually it is just a word.

Too many people get old and they never seem to experience that sense of joy.

Joy doesn’t have to be expensive.  Your life might not be going as you would like but you still can experience real joy.

You just have to be open to it and have a beating heart.

What I have written below is a random list of all of other things in my past, present and hopefully present that have given a marvelous feeling of joy, sometimes followed by a serenity that seems almost other worldly.

So here are as the song goes, 49 of my favorite things.  See if you have had any feelings of wow or joy, similar to mine.

Feel free to comment on the page provided.

Why 49?  Two reasons! Anyone can do 50–but the last few can be a stretch.  And besides I am saving that space for you.  Send me your #50–has to be different from my 49 and I will publish and send you a free copy of my last book, The Scorpion and the Frog.  (HB)

THE SENSE OF WOW:

1)  seeing my little granddaughters bungi-jump on a trampoline at the local mall.  Seeing their wide-open eyes recess in their little heads as they soared, nearly to the top of the glass skylight;

2)  smelling the salty air on a catamaran in San Francisco Bay or any other place on deep water;

3)  a long, lingering full-body massage with massive blood flow (all internal) on a Thursday morning;

4)  watching a sunset with Judy in Naples on a February evening;

Image Detail

It's great to be alive

5)  seeing the Mets win at Citifield a few miles from my boyhood home, two birthdays ago;

6)  drinking a banana-chocolate smoothie at Starbucks during a 100 degree day in August;

7) listening to old Carley Simon or Petula Clark CD’s;

CITI FIELD

great way to celebrate a birthday

8)  watching a movie with the unrequited lover getting the girl;

9) seeing my first baseball game on May 29, 1954–Pee Wee Reese hit the winning home run at the Polo Grounds as Brooklyn won 4-2;

10)  smelling the air after a long, cool rain;

my hero

11) spending an hour before the Blessed Sacrament in our church’s chapel;

12) seeing Holy Cross beat anybody in football or basketball;

Jimmy Thomas

Go Cross Go

13) receiving the Father James Hartnett Award several years ago at the St. Louis Ritz in front of my whole family, including cousins from New York…and on my birthday;

14)  reading essays and articles I have written–or thinking about what I want to write about;

15) going to a game with my sons;

17) telling and listening to funny stories with friends–new and old;  works for both the friends and the stories

18)  watching my youngest sink the last seven foul shots in a row during a 7th grade game, his team won 29-28;

19) watching my daughter win the first Kevin Kline Award for Best Actress in a play in St. Louis in 2006;  Separate Tables

20) date night every Friday evening with Judy for Starbuck’s, a movie, and a light dinner;

21) seeing one of my plays produced on the St. Louis stage;

22) having a young pretty girl smile at me as we pass on the street;

23)  finishing my latest and most ambitious play, about a dysfunctional happy family, called In a Family Way;

24)  the sight of a new mother holding her brand new baby;

25) seeing my three children for the first time;

26) every time one of them thanks me for being their father;

27) a surprise gift from my wife or one of my kids that touched me specially, such as Howdy Doody, Rocky card, with my favorite theme, Gonna Fly Now and most recently a Ronald Reagan collectors pin.

28) seeing my oldest son play with or coach his three children; and any other kids that are on his teams;

29) spending three minutes with Gene Shalit on the Today Show and not losing my cool or my breakfast;

Gene Shalit

Three and a half minutes

30) having actually taught something to a goof-off in Brooklyn in 1967; little Joey Ancona learned what the word impaled meant, just before I ran him through with my pointer;

31) watching Ellen dance on her afternoon show during lunch at my favorite restaurant;

Halle Berry On Ellen:Halle Berry Dancing Hurricane Chris “She’s Fine”

I can feel her energy

32) seeing the face of God in a child’s smile;

33) learning something new;

34) hearing from an old high school friend; or college friend;

35)  getting a warm hug from a friend, preferably a female;

36)  having a grandchild hug my leg;

37) seeing my grandson play football, basketball, lacrosse, soccer etc.–all during the same season;

38) hearing my granddaughter sing at a school concert;

39) an even longer, more lingering massage on a late Sunday morning;

40) reading a book that makes me think:

41) watching What about Bob or Planes, Trains…;

42) running into a friend I have not seen for years;

43) receiving an unexpected honor of being named The Mindszenty Foundation Man of the Year–2011 at a small gathering at an elegant luncheon hosted by Eleanor Schlafly, the novogenarian I have worked for nine years and one of the most charming women of any age I have ever encountered;

44) spending Thursday and Sunday afternoons breathing deeply and feeling a sense of exhilaration that leads me to daydream of my past, present and future for hours;  See # 3 & 39

45) a moonlight swim in my own pool;

46) a granddaughter in her  1st communion white dress, with veil, with her eyes cast down;

47) any Michael Connolly novel that features Harry Bosch;

The Black Ice

Harry always knows what to do

48) whenever one of my children or even grandchildren actually listens to me;

49) the innate feeling that somehow God really does love me;


Is Bill O’Reilly A Pinhead?

October 4, 2010
1 Comment

I just finished reading TV and radio host, Bill O’Reilly’s latest book, Pinheads and Patriots: Where you stand in the age of Obama.

For the uninformed, a regular feature on O’Reilly’s Fox News TV show is where the host categorizes news figures as pinheads or patriots.

The latter are the worthies who have done something that benefits society.

Pinheads slide on a slippery slope.  Get in with the wrong crowd, get taken in by their own success, or get some bad advice, and all of that can lead to a residence in Pinheadville, a place everyone should avoid if you can.

Like his TV show, the Factor with its no spin zone, O’Reilly has an uncanny knack for irritating me to the nth degree.

As par for his mini golf course, he vainly attempts to be fair and balanced, which by my standards only guarantees that he will be wrong 50% of the time.

The very nature of his motto implies a certain kind of moral equivalency that is destructive to moral issues, such as abortion.

He takes so much time in bending over backwards so as appear to be fair that he nullifies or undercuts the truth that his positions supposedly are based on.

Oh don’t get me wrong, there are times when he shows his true combative mettle, especially in dealing with the likes of Barney Frank, the homosexual Congressman from Massachusetts.

 

Congressman Frank doing his Elmer Fudd "look"

O'Reilly finally got combative

 

After reading Pinheads, I have come to the conclusion that O’Reilly is at his combative best when discussing economic issues as demonstrated by his boisterous confrontation with Frank and his splendid but incomplete interview with Barack Obama–the latter which comprised the last and arguably the best chapter in his book.

But I wasn’t crazy about how Bill was so chummy with the president.  They bonded like two pals after a friendly game of basketball.

 

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What's next--shooting some hoops?

 

I have noticed that aspect of O’Reilly’s demeanor when dealing with left-wing icons–with the sole exception Mr. Frank.

His deference reminds me of the way opposing lawyers pal around after a nasty court case.

You could have had them switch sides during the court proceedings and they would have done so like chameleons on a bush.

My biggest complaint with Bill is his bogus claim that he is a cultural warrior.

That would be risible if it were not so serious.  To Bill the culture war involves saving a few Christmas trees and creches from extinction.

He is more like a cultural spectator, sitting on the sideline, afraid to really take a side than a real cultural warrior.

The major issue of the current culture war is abortion.

It serves as the symbol for the attitudes and deep beliefs that separate us as a people…just as slavery bifurcated the nation 150 years ago.

 

Missed the whole point!

 

Abortion has divided us into right and left, red and blue states, and conservative and liberal.

I interviewed Bill on my old radio station, WGNU, just before his ascendancy into the big time…though I take absolutely no credit for it.

The interview on WGNU lasted about 15 minutes–I was a big deal around the station for landing O’Reilly–on our small station.  I usually produced my own show—well at least I procured all my own guests.

Of that 15 minutes, I spoke no more than 90 seconds and let him do most of the talking, which was not a difficult chore.

I think that’s what has made me a really good interviewer— I let the guest speak.  I believe people would rather hear the ideas of the guests than my interpretation of their ideas.

As a footnote that’s why O’Reilly is a poor interviewer— he is too interested in giving his spin and in his own the no-spin zone–rather than letting them talk.

The only issue I challenged him on was abortion.

I feel that he does not like to discuss the subject.  I think he may be afraid of the acrimony and unpopularity that is attendant to being authentically pro-life.

His answer if my recall is accurate was pure whishy-washiness…a vapid, non-committal bit of unadulterated intellectual fluff that was designed to get out of the hole with the fewest scrapes.

His autobiography A Bold Piece of Meat or whatever the nun called him many years ago went a long way in understanding just who Bill O’Reilly really is.  I was generally impressed with his candor about his wise-guy past. (No, I am not saying he was a hitman for the Mafia!)

I was amazed as to how poor a student he was in grade school.  He prided himself on being the bane of most of the nuns existence.

Fortunately for him his buddy Clem was did some things, Bill would never in all of his boldness have attempted.

At 6’4″ tall sports were his forte.  He played virtually everything that had a ball or a puck.

O’Reilly appears much taller when you stand next to him–which I did at a benefit for the St. Agnes Home here in St. Louis.

One thing I will say is that he is very generous with his time for charitable causes–I believe he waived his usual $75,000 fee.

The format for his talk was written questions in advance so he could filter the ones he did not want to answer.

I had written one about abortion but I was told it never made it to the floor, even though he did spend three hours answering questions.

I had a personal conflict that night–I really wanted to hear him speak but dinner took so long that I did not want to miss any more of the Holy Cross-SIU basketball game that was being televised at the same time.

Bill’s father had gone to Holy Cross and became an accountant.

 

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Taller in person

 

I tried to use this as an ice-breaker during my interview but his father’s education did not seem to hold a high place in his priority system.

I tried that with a Cardinal of the Church one time with a similar result.

That’s how I got to briefly talk to him.  We were waiting in the wings, getting ready to bolt when he was making his entrance from the same spot.

I briefly mentioned his being on my program years ago.  He politely nodded with that disdainful look he sometimes has on the air when he wanted to dismiss a subject.

For the record my early departure was all for naught as Holy Cross was down by 10 points at the half and never got back into the game and as we were summarily eliminated from the NCAA’s Big Dance as we had been for the last 50 years.

 

File:Fenwick Hall CollegeOfTheHolyCross.jpg

Another link with O'Reilly

 

I was not surprised that O’Reilly had failed again to adequately broach the “A” subject.

In his book on the culture war, Bill does not even list abortion in the index.  How can he call himself a cultural warrior?

In his Bold Piece book, there are just two comments in the book on abortion. I think he said that we really didn’t know when life began and the second was similarly dismissive.

I do remember that his thoughts on this issue could have been written by Harry Blackmun, who had written the majority opinion on the infamous Roe v. Wade decision in 1973.

I am not saying that Bill is pro-choice but I think this giant cultural warrior is a midget when it comes to defending innocent life.

 

This is what REAL cultural warriors do!

 

He is a wimp, or whatever word fits someone who does not have the courage of his convictions.

Perhaps he is afraid of offending women.

After watching his colleague, the Foxy Meghan Kelly eat his lunch time and time again, maybe I am on to something.

I think all women should be offended by this attack on the greatest power that any human could ever have–the ability to give life to a child of God.

They should all know that abortion was invented by men for the benefit of men.

I don’t know who said that but it sounds like something Hugh Hefner could sink his false teeth into.

They tell me that the Jesuits at Holy Cross virtually let the feminists run the place because they are afraid of them.

Millions of real women are out there protesting what abortion is doing to women.

I have seen them..I have stood with them.

Where is O’Reilly?  Has he ever picketed an abortion clinic?  Has he ever attended a march in Washington D. C.?

That’s what cultural warriors do…not sit around and pontificate about the assault on Christmas as testament their membership in the culture war crusade.

Does all this make Bill a pinhead?   I’ll let you make up your mind.

 

View Image

A resident of Pinheadville?

 

Send me your comments, I would love to hear what YOU think Bill is.


A Weekend of Yesterdays

June 22, 2010
1 Comment

PART II

Saturday morning was the most memorable part of the entire reunion weekend.   It began with an Economics lecture from a member of the Department.

The professor spirited approach melded nostalgia with some current economic data.  He compared the prices of goods, and services as they were in 1965 and what they are now.

According to his calculations, gas was surprisingly cheaper today in minutes one had to work to earn the $2.65 a gallon.   Of course this was before the BP spill and the government’s failure to act swiftly to coordinate the clean up.

During the Q&A, his discussion of the national debt, which he described as a manageable $10 trillion, was less than stellar.

If he read the WSJ or listened to Fox News, he would have known that the official National Debt was more like $13 trillion but what is a few trillion among friends.

When asked about the unfunded debt of nearly $100 trillion for SS and Medicare, his thinking got even more fuzzy–like Robert Gibbs trying to explain ObamaCare with all of its self-contradictions.

(It just dawned on me that the two words that never came up the whole weekend were prostate and Obama.)

When the professor ventured into Theology during his lackadaisical attempt to show his mild concern about run-away  government spending he was on even thinner ice.

In talking about Congress’s in-born reluctance to cut spending, he quoted what he thought was St. Francis…Lord make me celibate but not just now.

Two ‘mates beat me in yelling out…Augustine! The real  quote was Lord make me chaste, but just not now!

None of his economic naiveté distracted from the best thing he did all day and that was–his opening theme–a rendition of the Beatles’ #1 hit from 1965, Yesterday.

Though it sounded more like an historian’s lament, it was a perfect characterization of the purpose of a reunion weekend for us as we recalled the many memories that we have from our yesterdays at Holy Cross.

Our very own tag-team of brilliant doctors provided some very practical and rudimentary ways to keep the memories warehouse functioning.  Next to my big mouth, a very good memory is my strongest feature.

What good will our yesterdays be when dementia has robbed us of our ability to remember?

My mother died of Alzheimer’s on 3/11 and her gradual memory loss sometimes torments me.  My theatrical production, The Last Memory of an Ol’ Brownie Fan deals with my fear.

Both doctors, Joe from Harvard and Leo from Yale were compelling.  How fortunate is our class to have these two consummate medical professionals instruct us about the ravages of age with the most up-to-date information on dementia.

While Dr. Joe gave us the scientific skinny on dementia, its roots, causes and treatments, Dr. Leo related the practical side with suggestions for picking good parents, eating right–little red meat and fatty substances– exercising,  and drinking red wine moderately.

It was obvious that the menus for all of our meals were not prepared by either of our doctors

One of their colleague, Dr. Phil, was seen bellying up to the red wine bar on every occasion–just for medicinal purposes.

The only thing I think that they left out was–laughter.  As the Readers Digest says, Laughter is the Best Medicine.

On a sidebar, during the Q&A I attempted to find a restroom in Fenwick.  I wandered all over the buildings until finally I found one.  I had neglected to drop bread crumbs.

I had to exit the building and I was somewhere near the library on the opposite side of our talks.

By then the gloom of a rainy day had set in Worcester and I got wet.  The unabated rain was in stark contrast to the sunny camaraderie that filled our meeting room that morning.

Next came the Class Mass, arguably the high point of the weekend.  It was concelebrated by Fathers Charles Dunn and our ‘mate Father Paul.

I believe Father Paul is the only mate of the seven who entered the priesthood after graduation.  (One was murdered years ago on the island of Jamaica.)

I did the 1st reading and it was loaded with tough words, like Elijah, Elisha, Baphomet and a bunch of oxen.

Another ‘mate read the intentions, followed by four other ‘mates who provided a requiem for our dead.

I waited until my roommate of three years, Peter L.’s name was called and blessed myself.   I think I still grieve his memory.

Father Paul was ebullient and had the enthusiasm of a rookie priest.

Father Dunn alluded to Paul’s bold imitation of himself during one of our banquets.  Father Dunn was our Prefect of Discipline–a man whom I vowed NEVER to encounter for my four years.  As was part of his job description he never smiled!

When Paul walked in dressed in Father Dunn’s dower attire, he marched around in front of over 700 shocked students, who sat it stunned silence as the proverbial pin crashed loudly on the floor.

I thought they were going to toss him out of school–maybe they made him become a priest because of his stunt.  (They should have made him a bishop.)

I suspected Father Dunn’s comments were payback for what had been one of our class’ most memorable events.

Father Dunn, who was nearing 87, appeared fresh, fit and not only smiled but laughed throughout his talk.  He was like fine wine, which just reaffirmed Dr. Leo’s comments about wine and its medicinal properties.

Father Dunn told us that there was a war going on–against hedonism, materialism and modernism.  He didn’t name the collective enemy but I think he meant the Culture War, which is unlike anything the country has seen since the 1860’s.

He also used St. Paul’s fight the good fight in the same context.

I don’t know if I was the only one to remember this but in 1961 during our orientation period, an English Professor–Edward Callahan also told us to fight the good fight.

Without really knowing it, Father Dunn had brought us full circle from nearly 50 years ago.

It was good advice then and it is good advice now.

I saved the most inspirational moment for last.

Just before the talks began, one ‘mate came in the back door of the room, pushing a walker.

A couple of people were on canes with broken limbs but no walkers.  We’re too young for them, I thought.

Well on Saturday night, while in the red wine line, with Dr. Phil, I asked him about it.

He said quite casually as someone might say they had allergies— I have ALS.

My only response was amyotrophic lateral sclerosis–as if I wanted him to say it was something else.

He nodded and all I could think to say to him was I’ll pray for you.

I have and I will.  I can’t express the gamut of emotions that flooded my mind at that precise moment.

It wasn’t so much the seriousness of his illness but the calm, matter-of-fact resignation in his voice that stuck in my mind.

He was all right with the hand he had been dealt and that was quite an inspiration to me.

I saw Jim E. just before leaving on Sunday.  I was making the rounds, trying to get my last bit of the EA’s (environmental applause) and at the last table I stopped, he looked me right in the eye and gave me that peaceful nod again.

Again at a loss for words, all I could muster was Take care of yourself.

It was at that moment it all came together.  I don’t know if I will ever see Jim or any of the others again.

Life is terminal as Dr. Leo reminded us.  We have to Carpe Diem…in the Christian sense and cherish each moment together–each old memory because our postcards are already printed and waiting in the outbox of our history.

They are only waiting the word from the Divine Postmaster General.

That’s why this past weekend of yesterdays at Holy Cross was so vitally important to me.

The site of My Yesterdays


A Sally Fields Moment

June 17, 2010
4 Comments

The Best One Yet

This past weekend I went to my 45th college reunion at Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts.  On the last night at the class dinner, they provided an open mike.

I usually never and I mean never let such an opportunity go by because no one that I have ever met in my radio experience, ever met a mike he didn’t like!

But this time I had to let it go because–first of all the first speaker–the Judge was better prepared and far more eloquent than I could have been. (I could have hung with George A.!)

And secondly I had the mental equivalent of a stimulus package of so many thoughts, ideas, feelings and emotions flooding my consciousness that I had no idea of what I might have said.

This was the 5th reunion I have attended–everyone including the 25th in 1990.

I had always had fears about going to reunions.  I think a lot of people do.  In fact I’ll wager a large percentage of alumni never go to their reunions.

I used to quip that losers–you know people with failed marriages, stalled careers, the very unpopular and miserable people many of us knew and maybe were during our collegiate years, never went to their reunions.

Who wants to hear a lot of sad stories!

I think I had not gone to any of the first four, partly because I was in the midst of trying to establish my family doing my part to coach and rear our three children.

But I think those still waters ran a lot deeper.  I was in such unadulterated awe of the people around me that I think I went around the campus with my mouth open for four years.

We had so many quality athletes and smart people that I was terrified that I would not last the four years.

So I didn’t rush to our past reunions because I did not know how well I would be accepted.

I went to Holy Cross with the anticipation of having those brothers I never had in my life.  I had no sisters either though I can’t remember looking for one of those, especially while at Holy Cross.

I remember Paul Hayes, our senior adviser saying with an intentional clever pun that there were no hazing at Holy Cross. The entire campus was one big fraternity.

That was exactly what I wanted in my search for the purple brotherhood.

During my early experience it didn’t exactly turn out that way.

My first roommates were OK guys though–the football player once told me to stop breathing.  I couldn’t help it!  The air on Wheeler Four was the purest I had ever breathed.

I did my best to accommodate him.

I think the scariest moment of my years at the Cross was when two rather imposing members of the football team came to my room seeking information about a possible breach of the unwritten student ethic.

There was a rumor that someone had a prior copy of the standard Theology test we all had to take that year and somehow they thought I had informed the administration.

The whole matter was a complete surprise to me and for a hard second I thought they were going to teach me a new word—defenestration.

I guess I got off easy–other weaker classmates suffered more than hazing under the hands of a dominant few.  Their stories are legendary and make for great conversations many years later but they still conger vivid images of there but for the grace of …!

Things improved as I advanced with the Class of ’65 however I always knew that I didn’t quite fit in with the ruling clique that usually runs things in all similar situations.

I mean the same 40-50 guys that are always at the center of all things.  Such are the ways of the world we live in.

I am not trying to suggest that this is all part of a Pat Conroy novel.  I think such cliques are part of human nature and there will always be those who want to lead and those who don’t mind following.  I don’t seem to fit in either category.  It just makes it harder when you are not part of the establishment.

One of my standard self-effacing lines is when I lead, no one follows!

While at Xavier HS in New York, a Jesuit military school then, my freshman year I was banished from the school, regiment because I was marching to my own inner drummer during a First Friday parade in February.

A neighbor a year ahead of me at Xavier, who was headed for Holy Cross got me back in the marching regiment a year later.  So it was natural that I followed him to the Cross.

While I was terribly embarrassed by the incident, it did give me a metaphor for my life–I often march to my inner drummer on many of the issues of the day.

So with all this as background I was pleasantly surprised how friendly and accepting virtually all of my former ‘mates were when I set foot on campus 20 years ago.

I have been quipping since then that they have treated me better at the reunions than when I was treated as a student.

Each new reunion, the feelings of acceptance get better.

I have had so many Sally Fields moments that I feel light-headed.  The 45th was the best.

I had at least a half-dozen ‘mates ask me about the Browns, baseball in general, my radio show and at the Sunday brunch a departing ‘mate told me he was on chapter III of my last book, The Scorpion and the Frog: A Natural Conspiracy.

I am very prone to what another ‘mate later described in a larger context as environment applause or what they used to call,  the roar of the crowd.

I know I owe a lot to our unofficial class president of 45 years Dave M. and his trusty sidekick, Tom Mc.

Without their generous inclusions of my exploits in the infamous Poop-Dispatch, things might have been a bit different.   Half of life is good public relations.

One of the people I had missed since my first reunion was Dr. John from Rochester.  I asked him why he had not been to any since then and he told me of his bouts with melanoma that just reinforced m y feeling of the ticking nature of life and our short times together.

This reinforced my brief encounter with our quarterback, who had suffered his own physical infirmities years ago.

His eyes lit up when I recounted what a thrill his engineering of our 9-0 upset of BC the week after the Kennedy assassination.  I had stayed up on campus just to see the game and wound up seeing one of the biggest wins in our history.

I have a scar over one eye from one of our great moral victories against Syracuse the year before.

Holy Cross has meant so much to me over my life.  I think I put it best I can in the book of reminiscences they publish 20 years ago.

I wrote that for most people April 17, 1961 was the date of the Bay of Pigs (No that was not a mixer).  For me in a way it was the beginning of my life because I got my HC acceptance on the same day.

I still feel that way.  HC is a vital part of my identity. In making a new acquaintance, it takes only minutes for me to boast how I went to the Cross.

Dr. John again reminded me as to how close we both came to not becoming a part of the Class of 1965.

I remember that in 1990 we were walking near the Chapel and we started doing the math.

We had 512 in our freshman class exactly. ( I remember that because only 12 made the Dean’s List that first semester and my 2.67 put in solidly with the other 500.)

Since they started accepting women, even in the larger class of 750, the class would have maybe 375 men in it.  John was one of approximately 100 freshmen who had to live off-campus for lack of rooms.

One of my 15 Xavier HS classmates with me had grades just a bit below me.  He also resided off-campus.

The numbers did not lie.  John who is a prominent GI doctor would have had to study pre-med elsewhere and I would have had to go to BC, which had accepted me on February 3rd.

How I HATE that thought! I know my life would be far different today. (I probably would have become a lawyer.)  If the hand of God was not at work in that, nothing was…

I think the theme for this past weekend was set by the faculty lecture many of us attended on Saturday morning.  But that’s a story for another day.

To be continued…..


Too Big to Fail?

May 11, 2010
1 Comment

While that scary phrase too big to fail has become part of the national idiom, I want to give it a broader application.

It has usually referred to big US companies, mostly banks and brokerage houses.  Some, such as Lehman’s have been allowed to join the dinosaurs while most have received the bail-out, a nautical term that usually refers to sinking ships.

I want to raise a new question:

IS THE WORLD TOO BIG TO FAIL?

You think that’s a bit over the top?  My pessimism, which to me is really negative realism, have finally driven me over the edge?

Last year I had to stop listening to Glenn Beck because he was too apocalyptic.  Now my fear of the emerging spiralling collapse has rendered me absolutely Panglossian!

Debt has always troubled me.  I never have been in debt.  My family was never in debt.  The only debts we have are the recent credit card balances and we always pay them on time.

I don’t like to borrow money.  My father would lend money to relatives but he never borrowed anything, not even to buy our only home (I was two at the time.) with cash in 1945.

Maybe as a result Economics has always baffled me.

It is so complex a subject the economists don’t really understand it themselves.

Isn’t there an aphorism that says that if one laid all the economists end to end they would point in millions of different directions?

I did manage two “gentleman C’s in the subject as a freshman at Holy Cross.

I do remember three things that probably constituted my grades: 1) supply and demand b) guns and butter c) if you want less of something, tax it;

The first one refers to productivity.  If the consumers like a product and want more, the producers will make more.  Now everything is made in China or Vietnam and it doesn’t seem to help us here much here.

If something is scarce then it will rise in value based on the same principle.

Lyndon Johnson virtually destroyed the second principle with the Vietnam War.

With reference to guns and butter government revenue is a zero sum game.  If you spend more for buttery domestic goods, you can spend less for deadly guns; or vice versa.

Johnson said something to the effect  praise the Lord and pass the margarine!

As a result we got our first large deficits since WWII.

As for taxation, that’s the one I think I understand the most.  If you want more people to work, you lower their taxes and the taxes on their employers.

I think after a certain point–maybe 10% most people don’t like to pay taxes.  At higher rates people will not work as hard or do a lot of over-time.

Our tax system is very unfair as it is and it bodes to get worse.  According to the equal protection provision of the Constitution, which does not apply to Arizona, those who have to bear the lion share of taxation are being cheated.

That number of real taxpayers is dwindling as I write.  It stands at about 52% now.  When it goes under we will have a situation where more than half the population lives off the sweat of the other half.

That’s the formula for a tyranny that we have not seen since the colonial days.

The system we have now is called Progressive, named after the period in American history when the country first took the socialist path that it is now running down.

Glenn Beck has been the most proficient commentator in exposing this period, though he gets some of the details wrong.  TR was almost as bad as his cousin.

Progressivism is a misnomer. There was absolutely nothing about it that had anything to do with progress… except we progressively get into more and more debt!

LOOK FOR PART II-–The Progressive Income Tax that isn’t!


A Saturday Morning Stroll

January 22, 2010
3 Comments

The recent seismic disaster in Haiti should cause all of us to pause and consider the fragility and fleetness of life.  As the poet John Donne wrote centuries ago, every man’s death diminishes our own lives.  When the bell tolls for one or for 250,000 Haitians, it signifies that some day a bell will toll for us.

At Holy Cross my alma mater in Worcester, Massachusetts, it has been standard policy for many years to send a simple postcard, tolling the bell for a newly deceased classmate.

I have always dreaded receiving these messages of death.  While the harmless looking cards might signal the loss of a friend whom I had lost track, they also contained the unwritten message that someday, Holy Cross would be sending a card with my name on it.

Most people don’t like to think of death, especially their own.  I think Woody Allen had it right when he said: I don’t mind dying. I just don’t what to be there when it happens!

I doubt if any Catholic or Christian can ignore thinking about it.  It is part of the ritual of our faith.

On January 22nd of every year the Catholic Church takes part in a national memorial service all over the country to recognize that a “culture of death” that has regrettably become part of the American heritage, embedded deeply, not just in the Federal Constitution but also the mores of the land.

Two years ago my wife and I journeyed to Washington to march on the 35th anniversary of the infamous Roe v. Wade decision that established abortion as part of our culture.

The weather was overcast and a bit chilly but the rain and snow held up for the entire afternoon.  It was just the two of us, and 350,000 of our closest friends that marched up Constitution Blvd. toward the Supreme Court Building.

We walked right in front of the Archbishop of St. Louis, Raymond Burke as he led about 60 seminaries in the Rosary.  I came perilously close to tripping him as I veered into his path at one point.

It was so refreshing to see the young and old, walking together for a cause that truly exposes the evil that has slowly been poisoning the soul of America’s true humanitarian spirit.  The overwhelming response to the devastation in Haiti just underscores the deep contradiction that abortion has caused in America’s soul.

Like the millions of stricken Haitians, the unborn are a part of our human family.  They are an endangered species that has fewer rights than the bald eagle or the snail darter.

As the march ended and we were working our way back to the historic Willard Hotel where we were staying, the sun peaked out from the clouds… as if God was giving us His thanks.

My wife later told me that this march was one of the most memorial things she had ever done as a Catholic.  That’s saying something because we were married in the Church, had three children and four children baptized and two Catholic weddings.

My wife and I usually do the local march in St. Louis.  This January I had to leave her home.  After a Mass Archbishop Robert Carlson led us over to the Planned Parenthood “killing center” on Boyle and Forest Parkway.

It wasn’t a bad day–a little chilly.  We have made this eight block walk in all sorts of dismal conditions.  One year there was a light snowfall we walked to Forest Parkway.   My wife had several snowflakes randomly decorating her hair and earmuffs.

I think at that moment she looked more beautiful to me than any other time I could remember to that point.  I wish I had the foresight to have taken her picture.

This year as I strolled along the route, trying to keep up with the prayers coming through the hand-held radios, my mind started wandering.  I could feel this wonderful and exhilarating sense of peace and unity. I was among the best and nicest people I had ever know.  What a great way to spend a Saturday morning!

Over the 24 years I have been associated with this cause, these people have filled me with a sense of compassion, dedication and humility that I have never had before.

I felt warm just by being around them…no matter what the temperature. I have watched them age, some could hardly walk and yet they still come every year.

When we got to the site, we lined up on the west side of their building and said another Rosary.

A recent issue of the Sunday Visitor featured the story of a nine-year-old girl who joined her mother at an abortion protest, not unlike this one, at the notorious site of the late Dr. George Tiller’s abortion clinic in Wichita, Kansas.

Before his murder last year Tiller performed late-term abortions.  I have even seen pictures of his oven that he used to dispose of his victims.

When one “client” eased by in her car the little girl asked her not to kill her baby. Perhaps it was her innocence or the pleading eyes of the little girl, or maybe the grace of God— perhaps they were the same thing but she decided to spare her child and drove away with the life within her intact and uninterrupted.

Rumor spread quickly our ranks that the protestors that do this every week had similarly saved another life. Maybe it doesn’t sound like a lot but to those two babies it is everything.  Life is truly a gift from God that we all have to cherish and respect in all its stages.

I used to have a bumper sticker “Chose Life” for years.  A friend told us that her daughter–pregnant and unmarried— saw it in my driveway and decided to keep her baby.  We just never know when what we do will positively affect another person’s life–in this case two people’s lives.

As I was standing there, I noticed that Planned Parenthood had a sign about their “quality, affordable health care.”  It sounds like “Obama Care,” has now become “Obamabortion Care.”  If pregnancy is a disease, I guess we are all a little bit sick.


About author

After graduating from Holy Cross, Bill Borst earned an MA in Asian History from St. John's University and a Ph.D in American History from St. Louis University. (1972) A former New Yorker, he taught for many years in the St. Louis area, while also hosting a weekly radio show on WGNU from 1984-2006. He currently is a regular substitute for conservative Phyllis Schlafly on KSIV radio. (1320) He is the author of two books on social history, "Liberalism: Fatal Consequences," and "The Scorpion and the Frog: A Natural Conspiracy." He just retired as the Features editor of the Mindszenty Foundation Monthly Report. In his 11 years from 2003-2013 he wrote nearly 130 essays on Catholic culture and world affairs. Many in St. Louis also know him as the "Baseball Professor," because of a course that he offered at Maryville College from 1973-74. It was arguably the first fully-accredited baseball history course in the Midwest.The author of several short books on the old St. Louis Browns, he started the St. Louis Browns Historical Society in 1984. In 2009 his first two plays were produced on the local stage. "The Last Memory of an Ol' Brownie Fan," ran six performances at the Sound Stage in Crestwood and "A Perfect Choice" ran for two performances at the Rigali Center Theater in Shrewsberry. His third play, "A Moment of Grace," ran six performances at DeSmet High School in January of 2011with First Run Theater in January of 2011. He is currently working on a 4th play, "A Family Way," which is a comedy about a happy dysfunctional family. He can reached at bbprof@sbcglobal.net

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