Wrong man for the job

Rage by Bob Woodward

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This is a page turner. Woodward does a great job of reporting on the Trump presidency with extensive interviews with the principals in the story. It’s one of the best books I’ve read this year. The quote from the last page of the Epilogues sums up the book and the Trump presidency as well as anything I’ve read.


“For nearly 50 years, I have written about nine presidents from Nixon to Trump—20 percent of the 45 U.S. presidents. A president must be willing to share the worst with the people, the bad news with the good. All presidents have a large obligation to inform, warn, protect, to define goals and the true national interest. It should be a truth-telling response to the world, especially in crisis. Trump has, instead, enshrined personal impulse as a governing principle of his presidency. When his performance as president is taken in its entirety, I can only reach one conclusion: Trump is the wrong man for the job.”

— Bob Woodward
Posted in Books | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Radical Equality

Today’s Gospel in Catholic churches everywhere is drawn from the Matthew 20: 1-16. It’s a familiar parable of the landowner who is hiring people to work in his vineyard. You’ve heard it many times I’m sure. The landowner goes out at 9:00 AM and hires folks to work and agrees to pay them a the usual daily wage. He went out again at noon and at three o’clock and hired more workers to for the usual daily wage. He hired more still at five o’clock. In the evening he summoned the foreman and told him to pay the workers beginning with the last and ending with the first. Each received the usual daily wage. Those who had been hired first began to grumble. They thought they deserved more because they had labored the entire day.

And on receiving it they grumbled against the landowner, saying,‘These last ones worked only one hour,and you have made them equal to us,who bore the day’s burden and the heat.’He said to one of them in reply,‘My friend, I am not cheating you. Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what is yours and go. What if I wish to give this last one the same as you? Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money. Are you envious because I am generous?’Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

Matthew 20:11-16

As I reflected on these word today I realized that in the Kingdom of God as proclaimed by Jesus we see radical equality. There is no seniority, no frequent flyer miles. Everyone is compensated equally for their work. Some would call this socialism today but is it really? Imagine a world where such as this existed. Isn’t this what life should be like?

Posted in Catholic, Franciscan, Spiritual | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Call to conversion

Waging Peace: One Soldier’s Story of Putting Love First by Diana Oestreich




I’ve read so many good books this summer that i didn’t think it was possible to read one more. This invitation to read this book from a class I am taking at Houghton College. It resonated for me because like the author I was a military medic though in a different war. Like the author I too was conflicted about killing for my country. It was counter to all I had been taught and what I believed. This gripping story of conversion is a must read.


Posted in Books | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Those who have eyes to see

I’ve come to believe that white supremacy is so embedded in Eurocentric American Christianity that most folks can’t believe that Jesus and the early church were not white. That they were in fact brown and/or black. Look at the statues and paintings in most churches and museums depicting Jesus, his followers and most of the early saints. It’s highly likely that St. Augustine was at least brown. He was from North Africa. The Desert Fathers and Mother’s came out of the Egyptian and Ethiopian deserts. It wasn’t until Christianity moved to Europe and the Americas that it became a religion of conquest and subjugation of indigenous people.

Posted in Catholic, prayer, racism, Spiritual | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Epic Journey of Malcolm X

“Again, the actor Ossie Davis stood. His deep voice delivered the eulogy to Malcolm X which was going to cause Davis subsequently to be hailed more than ever among Negroes in Harlem: “Here—at this final hour, in this quiet place, Harlem has come to bid farewell to one of its brightest hopes—extinguished now, and gone from us forever…. “Many will ask what Harlem finds to honor in this stormy, controversial and bold young captain—and we will smile…. They will say that he is of hate—a fanatic, a racist—who can only bring evil to the cause for which you struggle! “And we will answer and say unto them: Did you ever talk to Brother Malcolm? Did you ever touch him, or have him smile at you? Did you ever really listen to him? Did he ever do a mean thing? Was he ever himself associated with violence or any public disturbance? For if you did you would know him. And if you knew him you would know why we must honor him: Malcolm was our manhood, our living, black manhood! This was his meaning to his people. And, in honoring him, we honor the best in ourselves…. And we will know him then for what he was and is—a Prince—our own black shining Prince!—who didn’t hesitate to die, because he loved us so.””

— The Autobiography of Malcolm X by MALCOLM X
https://a.co/5mZF8Oa

I knew about Malcolm as someone who grew up in the 1950’s and 1960’s but I had the perspective of a white man. I saw him as a threat and frightening to me. I didn’t understand the back story until reading this book. I now know more about this amazing man who was truly a prophetic voice for all Americans.

Posted in Books, racism | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Welcome Fiona

A couple of years ago while I was visiting Assisi the leader of our pilgrimage invited us to pray a special prayer request in the Basillica of St. Clare in front of the cross of San Damiano. This is the same cross at Saint Francis was praying in front of when he heard the voice of Jesus asking him to rebuild the church.

On that morning in May 2018 I asked for a child for our son and our daughter in law. A month later I learned that they were expecting. We waited anxiously for the arrival of our third grandson. Those hopes were dashed in December 2018 when Theo Joseph died in utero. Everyone was devastated and I thought my prayer had been in vain.

In January of this year we learned that they were once again expecting a child. We learned at this time it would be a little girl.We prayed every day and sometimes twice a day. we waited in anxious anticipation.

This morning at 5:47 AM on the Feast of Saint Clare of Assisi, Fiona Katherine Watkins was born. She’s a healthy and beautiful baby. Is that a coincidence or an answer to prayer? I choose to believe the latter. Deo Gratias!

Posted in Franciscan, Gratitude, local | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

You cannot out give God

Many years ago a pastor friend of mine delivered a sermon titled, “You can’t out give God.” I never forgot it and it’s animated my life ever since. There are many scriptural references around the theme of giving but this one from Malachi 3:10 has stayed with me.

Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. 

Just got an email from Alice Miller Nation who is the Director of the Warming House which is the oldest student run soup kitchen in the United States. In 2019 The Warming House served 5922 meals for the entire year. This year to date The Warming House has served 5378 in 7 months. That’s an average of 897 meals per month. At that rate The Warming House will serve nearly 11,000 meals this year. You can help put this bread on the table of Olean Area residents by sending a donation to:

The Warming House
Franciscan Center for Social Concern
St. Bonaventure University
PO Box AR
3621 West State Road
St. Bonaventure, NY 14778

Posted in Franciscan, Spiritual, St. Bonaventure | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Executive Officer Wants to See You

I had been at work a few hours taking care of the neonates in the newborn nursery at the Dispensary of Naval Air Station Albany GA. I was working the afternoon shift and as I recall I was getting ready to take the infants out to their mothers on the OB ward. That’s when the charge nurse gave me the message that the XO wanted to see me. I was concerned. What could the executive officer want. I put on my gown and left the ward and headed to the office where a US Navy Senior Chief Hospital Corpsman was seated waiting for me. I entered the office not knowing what to expect. Try as I might I cannot remember his name but I remember what he looked like and what he said. “Watkins, I hate to be the one to tell you this but we’ve just received word that your father died today.” Though the news was a shock it was not entirely unexpected as Dad had been ill for a number of years.

The senior chief told me I didn’t have to finish my shift and that I could return to the barracks immediately. I told him that I’d finish my shift. He instructed me to go to base personnel in the morning and they would be processing my emergency leave and travel orders. He told me not to hesitate to call him should I need additional assistance. I returned to work in shock but the infants whom I cared for ministered to me that evening. I had last seen my Dad in March. We had spent a fun week touring Northern California, eating salmon, going to the Samoa Cookhouse, going to a basketball game with my sister. In fact it had been the most fun I’d had with Dad in years. It all ended too quickly. We had made plans that when I was released from active duty in a couple of years I would come to California and enroll at Humboldt State. Now, those plans were dashed.

The next morning I went to base personnel and they had all my paperwork in order and soon thereafter I was on a plane headed home for my father’s funeral. My plane was late getting into Hartsfield International so when the Albany flight landed the airport personnel took me and my bag and drove us to the waiting Eastern Airlines jet that would take us to Buffalo. I remember my brother picked me in Buffalo and drove me home. It was all surreal and yet I remember it like it was yesterday and it’s been forty-seven years now.

Dad was only forty-six when he died. That seems very young now. I will always remember our last morning together and how he hugged me and told me he loved me. I told him, “I love you too.” Then I turned and walked toward the waiting Hughes AirWest turbo prop that took me towards home. Though he’s been gone these many years he’s never far from my memory nor is this twenty-sixty day of July when I recall once again that afternoon in Albany and the kindness of the executive officer, the nurses and fellow corpsmen and dental technicians and the infants who comforted me.

Posted in veterans | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

The paradox of the cross and American Christianity

James Cone’s powerful book, ‘The Cross and the Lynching Tree’ is the reason I’m in this course. I don’t remember who recommended it to me earlier this spring but reading became a metanoia for me. It is the reason that I enrolled in this course. I knew very little about lynchings. I read little about them in my study of American History which was my undergraduate major. I remember the power scenes in the movie,”The Great Debaters” which is one of my favorites. However I missed the paradox that is the cross and the lynching tree especially as the lived experience of American Christianity.

I grew up in Roman Catholic community which was essentially a de facto segregated group although none of us would have thought it that at the time. I attended liturgies frequently as a child and young adult. I remember the disconnect for me with the church in the 1960’s and 1970’s when little was said in support of the civil rights movement and against the war in Vietnam. That eventually led away from regular attendance and participation. In the past twenty years I’ve been reconnected to the church and a more active participation in the social gospel through my involvement with Franciscans at Mt. Irenaeus which led in time to becoming a professed Secular Franciscan. However, despite being a member of group of folks who were more active in our ministry to the marginalized I still had not grasped the powerful and prophetic voice and vision that is contained in this particular book and in the content of Julian’s lectures. 

Through this course and the materials I’ve come to believe that American Christianity whether Protestant or Catholic has been essentially “white-washed.” We need redemption and renewal in the church as whole to make it a true instrument of the gospel of Jesus Christ rather than an instrument of the status quo.  P

Posted in racism, Spiritual | Tagged , | Leave a comment

I surrender

Surrender, White People!: Our Unconditional Terms for Peace by D.L. Hughley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This is one of the best books I’ve read on the history of racism in America. Much of the factual data presented in the book was news to me and my undergraduate major was American History. DL Hughley intersperses enough comedy to make this an easy book to read. He covers a difficult topic masterfully. i highly recommend this book.


Posted in humor, racism | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment