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Dec 11, 2013 - Uncategorized    2 Comments

Pope Francis, TIME Person of the Year

Photo credit: The Jesuit Post (

Dear Pope Francis,

Congrats on being named TIME Magazine’s “Person of the Year”. It’s a significant honor — even if Miley Cyrus was also a runner-up.

I know that worldly awards like this are probably not your concern, but it’s wonderful that you’ve been recognized, especially given the spirit you’ve brought to being Pope.

Enjoy today. Have an extra portion of ravioli at your favorite Italian joint.

Your friend,


Dec 2, 2013 - Uncategorized    No Comments

Amazon Drone and our culture of faster, mindless and more, more, more


Dear Pope Francis,

A couple of things have coalesced into today’s blog post. As I wrote yesterday, I’m focusing on waiting this Advent. Waiting and noticing. I think walking with my nephew last week brought me back to just how much I miss during my revved up days. They can become pretty mindless if I’m not careful.

I think it’s an inherent risk in our culture. We’re bombarded with messages to ignore what’s really going on and just buy more stuff. We’ve just come through one of the biggest retail sales periods of the year — Black Friday through Cyber Monday. Not exactly a great kick-off to a time of waiting and noticing. But it happens because there’s money to be made when we’re mindless and consuming.

Which is why I think the story that had everyone talking today is so emblematic of our culture. Last night, “60 Minutes” aired a piece on Jeff Bezos and his company Amazon. I didn’t watch, but have heard enough about the story to piece things together. It apparently focused on Amazon’s efficiency and amazing ability to get stuff to the people who want it. During the piece, Bezos announced that Amazon was testing robotic drones to deliver packages to people within 30 minutes. That set off quite a stir. It was all you read about on social media today.

Jeff Bezos is a master at selling things to us. When he founded Amazon, people mocked the concept. Buy books online? Really? When there’s all those local bookstores? We all know how that has turned out. Amazon is now a huge seller of books — and many, many other things. It’s become one of the largest, if not the largest, retailers in the world. You have to hand it to Bezos. He understands people and how to sell to them.

And don’t get me wrong. I’m an Amazon user. I have been since its inception. I love the convenience and choice. I now read most everything on my Amazon Kindle. I’ve bought in. I don’t like to admit it, but I have. I also have to confess that if Amazon Droid becomes available in my area, I’d give it a whirl. The novelty factor alone would drive me to try it at least once. I’m only human.

But, that’s just it. We humans have put so much energy, creativity and resources into being able to have exactly what we want delivered to us as quickly as possible, that it’s staggering. And I can’t help but wonder, as I ponder this, if we couldn’t solve many of our global problems if we directed even a quarter of that energy, creativity, and resources into solving them.

Then again, there’s probably not a lot of money to be made in ending poverty, hunger, or ecological destruction. In fact, the opposite is likely true.

But maybe, out there, is a Jeff Bezos type  — or a few of them — with the qualities and drive to make real change.

I’d love to see that — even more than an Amazon Drone dropping a package on my porch.

Your friend,


P.S. I’m not sure if Mike Wallace were around that he’d have sanctioned what amounted to an ad for Amazon on “60 Minutes”. From what I’ve heard, I don’t think the piece was at all critical of Amazon, or some of its practices, particularly with respect to its workers. Again, I’m an Amazon customer, so I can’t throw stones here, too much. But things like this trouble me.

Nov 12, 2013 - Uncategorized    1 Comment

Live webcast with Jim Conlon


Dear Pope Francis,

If you’re free at 3 p.m. Pacific time on Monday, November 22, I suggest tuning in for this live webcast with Jim Conlon. Jim is the Director of the Sophia Center at Holy Names University, where I did my M.A. in Culture and Spirituality. He is also the author of a number of books, including, most recently, Sacred Butterflies: Poems, Prayers and Practices

The webcast is titled “On the Threshold of Beauty” and explore how to re-imagine the world through beauty to re-enchant our lives and reclaim our joy.

Sounds like an amazing topic. Hope you’ll tune in. You can register here.

Your friend,




Oct 29, 2013 - Uncategorized    2 Comments

How the talents of others remind us of beauty


Photo by Cathy O’Connor.

Dear Pope Francis,

I’m a word guy. That’s my gift to the world. I can package up vowels and consonants to express my own point of view, and maybe give insights to others.

Give me a paintbrush, though, and you’ll get a lovely impressionistic smear of colour. Pretty, possibly. Evocative, maybe not.

This is why I rely on the talents of others to remind me of beauty in its many forms.

My friend Cathy O’Connor, for example, is an amazing photographer. She takes all kinds of pictures, focusing on the beauty of nature. Her bird photos are especially wonderful.

Today, she posted the above photo to Twitter and I was immediately awestruck. It looks like she was standing on the International Space Station, not Earth, when she took it. Those craters are so vivid and crisp.

I asked Cathy if I could post this to my blog and she said yes. She doesn’t have a website — yet — but I’ll update this post when she does.

She’s also about to open an art gallery to showcase the works of others, and I think that’s such a perfect thing for her to do.

We always need reminders of what’s beautiful in the world, and how others see that beauty.

Your friend,


Oct 23, 2013 - Uncategorized    No Comments

Bishop Bling

A simple daisy

A simple daisy. (Photo credit:

Dear Pope Francis —

I jumped up and down and did a skyward fist-pump in your honor when I read that you’d suspended Tebartz-van Elst (also known as “Bishop Bling) for his egregious excesses.

For too long, many in the Church hierarchy have lived in opulence, while claiming to be representatives of Jesus on Earth. I’m so happy you are addressing this. The money spent by Bishop Bling could have done so much more good had it been directed towards the poor and vulnerable of his diocese. I hope there is some way to reclaim what was spent and put it into the hands of those that truly need it.

Your friend,