Thursday, March 30, 2006


God is messing with me.

I went to a meeting at church last night.

Even I get suckered into those.

Then she walked in.

The pretty girl who interfered with my view of the altar Sunday.

Twin fawns.

Unlike Sunday, she was wearing a baggy sweatshirt.

It camouflaged her twin fawns.

Someone in the room began to talk with her.

She responded.


That vacuous, meaningless catch-word young women seem fond of using these days.


I caught a few more words as she spoke.

Mostly, I heard tones and saw body language.

She is a pretty 18/19 year old.

She talks like it.

She acts like it.

She acts and talks like she knows it.

“I’m young. I’m pretty. I have twin fawns.”

Not fully aware. Only partly conscious of it.

Like an 18 year old.

I’m a 50 year old.

There are more than 32 years between us.

There are decades of joys, of pain, of victory, of loss, of relationships, of partings.

Of living.

Of knowledge.

She can say, “Sweet.”

And it is.

I can only say it with irony.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Going to Hell

I am going to Hell.

That’s according to one of my students.

Not because of anything I did or said.

It’s because of my religion.

I’m a bad Roman Catholic.

He’s a good fundamentalist Christian.

The fact that I’m a bad Roman Catholic is dooming me to Hell.

The fact that I'm a bad one is not the main point.

It’s the fact that I am a Roman Catholic.

Whore of Babylon.

He wasn’t trying to be mean.

He said it like he cared.

He is worried about me.

He’d like me to convert.

From bad Roman Catholic to bad fundamentalist Christian?

I’ve actually attended a few local fundamentalist Christian churches.

Hoping for something better.

I found good music.

Good preaching.

Nice friendly people.


Too clean.

I figure God made a world where things need to get dirty.

He’s an earthy God.

I’ve met him in many places where things get dirty.

I’ve planted a garden.

I’ve assisted at births.

I’ve changed diapers.

I’ve repaired tenement apartments and Appalachian cabins.

I’ve been to Masses in migrant worker’s shacks.

I’ve served at soup kitchens

I gave out soup and bread and juice and cookies.

I could imagine my fundamentalist acquaintances giving out soap.


There are probably plenty of fundamentalist Christians who would be willing to get their hands dirty to help others.

I just haven’t met them.

So I’ll stick to my stereotype for now.

See – I’m a bad Roman Catholic.

I’m a bad Christian.

Maybe if I tell my student I don’t believe in a literal Adam and Eve he will give up on me.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Twin fawns: Thank you, God

Sometimes I think God messes with me.

Like yesterday.

I went to Mass and sat in my usual place.

I read the readings.

I always do that before Mass. That way I can focus on the lectors who read the readings later on.

I like to hear how they interpret the words.

I like to hear their voices.

Sometimes it helps me see the words in a different way.

Sometimes it just helps the words to sink in.

“God so loved the world …”

Then the girl came in.

The first things I noticed were here breasts.

To steal from the Bible: Her breasts were like twin fawns.

Well-developed fawns.

She was wearing a dark blue top, long sleeved, covering her to her neck.

It was not skin tight, but tight enough to display those breasts to advantage.

The rest of her completed the effect.

18 or so. Slender

Dark hair brushed back and over the top, held in place by multiple bobby pins.

Hair if set free that would have brushed down over her shoulders.

Full lips with the hint of a smile. A nose that curled up ever-so-slightly at the tip.

Hazel eyes.

The kind of beauty that can make men dream.

She sat down.

Directly in my view of the altar.

The church was crowded. Mass was beginning.

No where else for me to go.

Normally I try not to keep looking at women like this.

I try to practice what a seminarian friend of mine used to call, ”discipline of the eyes.”

Look elsewhere.

To avoid thinking in ways I shouldn’t.

I don’t always succeed.

With her in direct line of my view of the altar, I had little choice.

I had to look in her direction.

At some parts of the Mass I could close my eyes.

Other times I just tried to focus beyond her.

But my eyes kept changing focus.

Then came the sign of peace.

She stood, turned, greeted the person next to her.

Standing in profile.

And then she turned to the person directly in front of me.

Giving me a full frontal view.

Twins fawns.

Communion took her out of my view.

When I returned to my seat, she was praying.

I did so, too.

As soon as the Mass ended, I left.

But I thought about her as I drove home.

Was she a test?

Was she God’s way to say, “See, without me you’d have to deal with this on your own, and you know your record in that regard?”

See, you can’t let it go.

You can’t let her go.

You never grew up.

I know people who would just say she is one of God’s gifts of beauty to be appreciated.

Like palm tree swaying in a tropic breeze.

Or a waterfall filling the air with its roar and a mist.

Or snow-capped mountains.

Mountains again.

Those people would say that the most important thing is the beauty of God’s life in her.

The beauty of her soul that transcends her physical appearance.

Appreciate the God in her.


So I say thank you God for that vision of beauty.

But next time, could you have her sit somewhere else?

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Not me

They say there are two kinds of people in the world.

I’m neither one.

Saturday, March 25, 2006


I am a Roman Catholic.


There are some things about the church I have troubles with.

I've spent long periods in my life away from the church.

But I keep coming back.

Part of it is cultural.

I was raised Catholic, so that's part of who I am.

Even when I rail against things going on, part of me still loves the church.

Sort of like the way it is with brothers.

Brothers fight and bite and kick.

But pick on a brother, and the other will jump on you.

Literally. I did that once.

So even as I fight and bite and kick the church, I find myself defending it.

It's where I'm comfortable. It's home.

But more than culture, it's that as hard as I explore other faiths and denominations, I haven't yet found one in which I see more of the truth.

I see God in it. Men screw it up, but he is still there peeking out.

Hello Ron.

Hey God.

I've stumbled across him in other places. A synagogue. A Baha'i meeting. In an Adirondack forest (go Druids).

I think I even once spotting him outside a Unitarian Church after a service. He was laughing.

At least the guy looked like he could be God.

There were even some places where I thought I spotted him, but I was wrong.

Those times usually involved situations where I desperately wanted something.

Something besides God.

Like money.

Or sex.

Amazing what hormones will do.

But where I have seen him in these other churches, he is usually off to the side or at the back.

Even when he's up front, he's not.

It's always just a flash.

In the Catholic Church, though, he's everywhere. At the same time. In the back. Off to the side. On the altar. In the pew next to me. Winking at me.

He gets around.

He is central to the church.

Finally, the Catholic Church is the one that challenges me.

I can't just create my own beliefs. Like Unitarians. Or Joseph Smith.

There are certain central beliefs.

I have to believe them. Or at least accept them. On faith.


So I fight and bite and kick.

But I keep coming back.

Hey God.

Hi Ron. Good to see you.


Blame Lee Strong.

We've known each other for years. We've shared long conversations about life, art, religion, sex, humor, politics, and which was the best Beatle. (John)

We both enjoy beer.

We've argued a few times. We've even not spoken for months at a time.

I've had violent thoughts about him.

But we have remained friends.

When my wife died, he sat with me. He didn't say much. He just sat there.

I didn't think of suicide.

But I might have if he hadn't been there.

So anyway, he started this blog a year ago. From the back pew. (

It's okay. He's had some good pieces in it. Check it out.

He said I should start one.

Actually, what he said was that I was so full of it that I needed either a blog or a toilet to relieve myself.


You won't see him write stuff like that in his blog. He's got to keep up this image of the deacon-wanna-be.

(By the way, I don't think he would be a good deacon. He's basically a good guy, really religious actually, but he's not a people person and he has too many questions about the Catholic Church. And I know the way his mind works. As he sits in the choir looking at people's faces, he's also checking out the women.

He loves his wife, but he likes breasts.)

(How's that for relieving myself?)

I avoided starting one for a long time. It's too trendy. Like all the cowboy chic after Brokeback Mountain.

But the other day at work I found myself thinking of something that, if I said it, would have upset some peopel there.

I bit my tongue. 20 years ago I wouldn't have. I would have just said what I wanted to say, then stepped back and watched.

If it got too bad I'd just say, "I was just kidding."

After all, my last name can be translated as "the joke."

Ha. Ha.

But I'm getting older.

So I chomped down.

It hurt.

And sometimes I do feel kind of backed up.

So it occured to me that maybe Lee is right.

Don't tell him I said that.

I begin

I feel like David Copperfield.

I begin.


I began a long time ago. My mother and father saw to that.

But I don't think I fully realized who I was until I had been around for a long time.

I remember one day scribbling away when I realized what I was writing would, by the world in which I lived, be considered out of kilter.

The kind of thoughts that sometimes make people give me a puzzled look.

That was the day I was really born.

I scribble, therefore I am.