Cluster of wheat image Grapes and vines image Cluster of wheat image
November 30th, 2009


Today is the first Sunday of Advent and we start to celebrate the coming of the Christ child.  I’ve been musing of late what must it be like to reject the Christ child and the teachings of Christ?  What must it be like to reject God entirely and the ten commandments?   What must it be like to reject that staple of all religions – the Golden Rule?  What must it be like to think there is nothing at all out there beyond the material world  – that everything just happened – that we are all accidents —  that we have no purpose – that we just appeared here on earth and there is no game plan at all?

So I’ve been browsing various atheist sites to find out what they believe.   Or don’t believe.  When they get up in the morning how do they decide what to do?  Do they have a code of ethics?  From whence?

Atheism, of course, denies the existence of a God or gods.  So, of course, there’s nothing out there.  Why am I dismayed to find such a vast emptiness?  It seems atheists are  expected to devise their own code of ethics.   They can choose what they like from the surrounding culture, whatever helps them to get by, to fit in.    They have no maker, their life has no meaning, they are here today and gone tomorrow.   Into oblivion.

One site said: “In general, a personal code of ethics would not cause harm to others, would be anchored in truth and would strive to make society a better place.”

Another writer thinks:   “Morality is, at bottom, a matter of logic. If we are fair in our dealings with other people, help them when necessary and avoid harming them if we can, then it is likely they will be fair in their dealings with us. Atheists are quite capable of working this out without reference to anyone else’s myth system or imaginary friend.”

It would seem then that atheists have some sort of inherent penchant for truth and fairness and they would consider lying and hurting others wrong?  Have they fallen back here on the Golden Rule – to treat others as we would have them treat us?  If they could just move another step further to “love one another” they would be proclaiming the basic tenet of most religions.  After all, the other name of the Christian God is Love.

But no.  Atheists talk with difficulty about love.   For the atheist Love is not a person apart – a spiritual being, goodness personified.  For the atheist  love is but a hormonal event, an atomic movement, a brain happening, not something chosen and willed by their spiritual part.   They have no spiritual part.

In her blog,  Conversion Diary, Jennifer, a former atheist, writes about the moral rectitude of her atheist father.  And why it was not enough for her.

When I contemplate a Godless universe I feel a desolation akin to that of Macbeth.

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

On the other hand,  here is a comment on the Conversion Diary blog that resonated with me:

Besides, the whole gig is pretty short.  Less than a hundred    years.
I know it is tough. Boy, I know it.
But it is also indescribably beautiful.
That is another proof of Him.

I think if I were an atheist I would be loathe to discount the testimonies of innumerable otherwise trustworthy people.   I would cry out, “Hello, God?  If you’re really there, I want to know you.”


When Gentiles who do not have the law do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law.  They show what the law requires is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or perhaps excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.  – Romans 2:14-16

November 28th, 2009


During  the 60 or so years that I have mulled over Darwinian theory some thoughts have crystallized and I have presented them on my blog  in Of God, Eyes, and Evolution and in The Evolution Fairy Tale .  This past year has marked the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of his The Origin of Species. To commemorate these anniversaries MercatorNet, an Australian  website which aims to “defend human dignity” in the areas of family, bioethics, religion, philosophy and media has run a number of articles on evolution over the past year.

When I offered them The Evolution Fairy Tale with its rehash of the many problems  with the theory of evolution, they felt its focus should be narrowed to deal with one problem  with Darwinism, a major problem  which has not, to our knowledge, been satisfactorily addressed.

I am happy that they have published on their site Vive La Différence–But How Did It Begin? which wonders about the origin of sexual differentiation.

It is to be hoped that many more people will discover and enjoy MercatorNet and a few will even leave intelligent comments.


Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure. — Psalm 147:5

November 27th, 2009


It seems that Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York and I are in the same boat.    Last month I wrote a  letter to the editor of my local News-Times (The Gay Priest Cover-Up) which they did not even acknowledge.   Bishop Dolan also wrote a letter on Catholic priest-bashing to his local newspaper, the New York Times, which they declined to publish.  Both of us had to resort to our blogs in order to cry SHAME!,  and FOUL!, and (that almost-forgotten word), REPENT!

Here is  ANTI-CATHOLICISM,  taken from Bishop Dolan’s blog.

October 29th, 2009

The following article was submitted in a slightly shorter form to the New York Times as an op-ed article. The Times declined to publish it. I thought you might be interested in reading it.

By Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan
Archbishop of New York

October is the month we relish the highpoint of our national pastime, especially when one of our own New York teams is in the World Series!

Sadly, America has another national pastime, this one not pleasant at all: anti-catholicism.

It is not hyperbole to call prejudice against the Catholic Church a national pastime. Scholars such as Arthur Schlesinger Sr. referred to it as “the deepest bias in the history of the American people,” while John Higham described it as “the most luxuriant, tenacious tradition of paranoiac agitation in American history.” “The anti-semitism of the left,” is how Paul Viereck reads it, and Professor Philip Jenkins sub-titles his book on the topic “the last acceptable prejudice.”

If you want recent evidence of this unfairness against the Catholic Church, look no further than a few of these following examples of occurrences over the last couple weeks:

  • On October 14, in the pages of the New York Times, reporter Paul Vitello exposed the sad extent of child sexual abuse in Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish community. According to the article, there were forty cases of such abuse in this tiny community last year alone. Yet the Times did not demand what it has called for incessantly when addressing the same kind of abuse by a tiny minority of priests: release of names of abusers, rollback of statute of limitations, external investigations, release of all records, and total transparency. Instead, an attorney is quoted urging law enforcement officials to recognize “religious sensitivities,” and no criticism was offered of the DA’s office for allowing Orthodox rabbis to settle these cases “internally.” Given the Catholic Church’s own recent horrible experience, I am hardly in any position to criticize our Orthodox Jewish neighbors, and have no wish to do so . . . but I can criticize this kind of “selective outrage.”

Of course, this selective outrage probably should not surprise us at all, as we have seen many other examples of the phenomenon in recent years when it comes to the issue of sexual abuse. To cite but two: In 2004, Professor Carol Shakeshaft documented the wide-spread problem of sexual abuse of minors in our nation’s public schools (the study can be found here). In 2007, the Associated Press issued a series of investigative reports that also showed the numerous examples of sexual abuse by educators against public school students. Both the Shakeshaft study and the AP reports were essentially ignored, as papers such as the New York Times only seem to have priests in their crosshairs.

  • On October 16, Laurie Goodstein of the Times offered a front page, above-the-fold story on the sad episode of a Franciscan priest who had fathered a child. Even taking into account that the relationship with the mother was consensual and between two adults, and that the Franciscans have attempted to deal justly with the errant priest’s responsibilities to his son, this action is still sinful, scandalous, and indefensible. However, one still has to wonder why a quarter-century old story of a sin by a priest is now suddenly more pressing and newsworthy than the war in Afghanistan, health care, and starvation–genocide in Sudan. No other cleric from religions other than Catholic ever seems to merit such attention.
  • Five days later, October 21, the Times gave its major headline to the decision by the Vatican to welcome Anglicans who had requested union with Rome. Fair enough. Unfair, though, was the article’s observation that the Holy See lured and bid for the Anglicans. Of course, the reality is simply that for years thousands of Anglicans have been asking Rome to be accepted into the Catholic Church with a special sensitivity for their own tradition. As Cardinal Walter Kasper, the Vatican’s chief ecumenist, observed, “We are not fishing in the Anglican pond.” Not enough for the Times; for them, this was another case of the conniving Vatican luring and bidding unsuspecting, good people, greedily capitalizing on the current internal tensions in Anglicanism.
  • Finally, the most combustible example of all came Sunday with an intemperate and scurrilous piece by Maureen Dowd on the opinion pages of the Times. In a diatribe that rightly never would have passed muster with the editors had it so criticized an Islamic, Jewish, or African-American religious issue, she digs deep into the nativist handbook to use every anti-Catholic caricature possible, from the Inquisition to the Holocaust, condoms, obsession with sex, pedophile priests, and oppression of women, all the while slashing Pope Benedict XVI for his shoes, his forced conscription — along with every other German teenage boy — into the German army, his outreach to former Catholics, and his recent welcome to Anglicans.

True enough, the matter that triggered her spasm — the current visitation of women religious by Vatican representatives — is well-worth discussing, and hardly exempt from legitimate questioning. But her prejudice, while maybe appropriate for the Know-Nothing newspaper of the 1850’s, the Menace, has no place in a major publication today.

I do not mean to suggest that anti-catholicism is confined to the pages New York Times. Unfortunately, abundant examples can be found in many different venues. I will not even begin to try and list the many cases of anti-catholicism in the so-called entertainment media, as they are so prevalent they sometimes seem almost routine and obligatory. Elsewhere, last week, Representative Patrick Kennedy made some incredibly inaccurate and uncalled-for remarks concerning the Catholic bishops, as mentioned in this blog on Monday. Also, the New York State Legislature has levied a special payroll tax to help the Metropolitan Transportation Authority fund its deficit. This legislation calls for the public schools to be reimbursed the cost of the tax; Catholic schools, and other private schools, will not receive the reimbursement, costing each of the schools thousands – in some cases tens of thousands – of dollars, money that the parents and schools can hardly afford. (Nor can the archdiocese, which already underwrites the schools by $30 million annually.) Is it not an issue of basic fairness for ALL school-children and their parents to be treated equally?

The Catholic Church is not above criticism. We Catholics do a fair amount of it ourselves. We welcome and expect it. All we ask is that such critique be fair, rational, and accurate, what we would expect for anybody. The suspicion and bias against the Church is a national pastime that should be “rained out” for good.

I guess my own background in American history should caution me not to hold my breath.

Then again, yesterday was the Feast of Saint Jude, the patron saint of impossible causes.

Sure enough, no sooner had I decided to post my rejected Letter to the Editor than  the News-Times reported that of the priests involved in the molestation scandal, five had been in our area.   They proceeded to list their names and the parishes they had served in.   Their sins were in the 1970’s and 1980’s, mind you.   They have been well humiliated, reprimanded,  defrocked, banished, or what have you.  But by all means, let’s keep this thing going, magnify and multiply the deeds of a few,  sully all Catholic priests and their church, forever and ever  – Amen!


The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. —  Romans 13:12


November 26th, 2009


Elizabeth II, Now and Then


A journey through history with Elizabeth II.  She’s a little younger, has a little more clout, but we’re sisters under the skin.  (We were pregnant at the same time.)   Long live the Queen!


November 26th, 2009


Whatever can be the matter?  In the olden days (a year or two ago,  before our local liberal News-Times changed management) I would write an occasional letter to the editor.  Mary, the opinion editor, would call to see if I had actually written it, offer her criticisms, and eventually it would see the black of print.  We often had some pretty lively dialogues going!

Last month something in the News-Times prompted a letter to the editor which I sent off by email.  No response.  I sent it again.  More silence.  A third time – nothing.  I mentioned that people sometimes ask me why they haven’t seen any letters from me lately and I have to tell them the new letters editor won’t give me the courtesy of a reply.   As a last resort, I sent my letter to the managing editor.   Dead silence.

What can be the matter?   Here is my letter.   What do you think?


It sure would be nice if the News-Times would do a real news story and put its Catholic priest-bashing in proper perspective. (Oct 6, p A5).  Just because old records have been released does not mean they have to be paraded in print yet again!

Some little understood facts:

1. A Washington Post survey found that over the past four decades, less than 1.5 percent of the estimated 60,000 priests have been accused of child sexual abuse.

2.   An Associated Press report in 2007 found 2500 cases in the previous five years of  public school students being molested. Suspended teachers are commonly passed from one school district to another.  “So frequent is this phenomenon that it’s called ‘passing the trash’” This is not covered by big media, including the Boston Globe which broke the Catholic scandal. They don’t really care about the molested, only the identity of the molester.

3. Again, the National Review Board in 2004 noted that 81 percent of the victims were male, most of whom were post-pubescent, saying “we must call attention to the homosexual behavior that characterized the vast majority of the cases of abuse observed in recent decades.” While most gay priests are not molesters, most of the molesters are gay.   The board correctly stressed that ‘there are many chaste and holy homosexual priests who are faithful to their vows of celibacy.’

4.   The most recent John Jay report tries to cover-up the homosexual reality.  It uses the word pedophile 14 times, ephebophile 12 times (meaning a sexual preference for mid to late adolescents — i.e. homosexuality.)  There were almost twice as many alleged victims aged 15 or over as there were those aged 9 or less. The problem is not primarily pedophilia but homosexuality – chicken hawk stuff.

5.   By a margin of 81-19 — the exact figure found in the report covering the years 1950-2002 — the molesters still prefer the boys. You don’t hear about the priests hitting on the altar girls.

6.   National Review Board board member Dr. Paul McHugh,  a former psychiatrist-in-chief at John Hopkins Hospital is quoted as saying “This behavior [the priest abuse scandal] was homosexual predation on American Catholic youth, yet it’s not being discussed.”

We all know, of course, why the homosexual connection is not being reported.   The Catholic church (like other denominations, public schools, the armed services, etc.) has a homosexual problem but because of “political correctness” the media refuse to call it that.  In this day and age, pedophilia is considered perverse and horrible, but homosexuality is cool and wonderful.

Tar all the priests with the pedophilia feathers but don’t dare to hint that it is naughty to seduce adolescent boys because that is what homosexuals do – and we all know that homosexuals are great!   All priests are suffering from this scandal when actually very few are involved, and most of those involved are homosexuals rather than pedophiles.   And it is the mainstream media doing the cover-up.

Here is Michael Voris on homosexual priests:


Pilate said to him “What is truth?” —  John 18:38

(Note:    Some facts above are taken from publications of the Catholic League.  I urge readers to visit their site for documentation and more data.)

November 24th, 2009


In the beginning was the primordial soup, or so they say. It seems that this soup had just the right gases above it and just the right amino acids in it so that by some happy accident (evolutionists often posit a lightning strike as the energizing agent) they merged to form the first living cell.  Very cleverly this cell somehow produced its own cell membrane and encoded its own DNA so it could proceed with assimilation and reproduction. I should point out here that modern man, with all his technological know-how, has not yet been able to produce a single reproducing cell.

According to the theory of evolution, over the ages, strictly by chance, the second law of thermodynamics notwithstanding, that first cell then became more and more complex until it had morphed into a swimming creature, complete with gills and fins. Simply stated, the second law of thermodynamics says that things tend to become less organized when left to themselves.  A car rusts in the junkyard; plants and animals decompose; even the sun is running down.  But not our little swimming creature.  After many more genetic mutations the fins turned into limbs and it continued its fall up the evolutionary ladder until it crawled onto land where it needed lungs and chanced to get them. Then came dinosaurs, all of which vanished, only to be replaced by whales and wolves, koalas and kangaroos, monkeys and men, a veritable explosion of random conglomerations!

If all this sounds unlikely to you, you need to understand that so-called “evolution” proceeds by chance or accident, and at each stage an organism progresses to the next level as the result of a happenstance occurrence which gives it some advantage and thus we have “the survival of the fittest.” The theory is filled with conjecture about the consecutive  steps, for example, by which a fin could eventually develop into an arm or a wing .

In my twenties, I was responsible for indexing Darwin’s works for the Great Books Syntopicon under the direction of Mortimer Adler.  At the time I have to admit I swallowed the whole Darwinian “natural selection” scenario hook, line, and sinker.  It was so beautiful, so overarching, so all explanatory.   Later I came to realize that too much was left unexplained.

Now this is where we get to the really tricky part. Wikipedia’s fanciful Evolutionary History of Life goes through all the above steps at some length with the usual patter and conjecture about how the simple cell, given the appropriate millions of years, could have gradually evolved into modern forms of life.  But there is one very important development on which they do not offer any halfway convincing conjecture.  This is what Wikipedia says:

How sexual reproduction evolved and survived is an unsolved puzzle.

I must give credit to the authors of Wikepedia for being up-front about the fact that there has not been any plausible explanation for the origin of sexual reproduction.  Apparently Darwin did not wonder about it.  Either it has not occurred to his followers  that they have no explanation for the beginning of sexual differentiation into male and female, or they are deliberately ignoring it.  They do, indeed, treat at length the advantages of sexual differentiation.

Evolutionists have many theories about the “‘why” of sexual differentiation.  They think reproducing sexually is costly in that time and energy have to be devoted to finding an suitable partner, there is a risk of remaining unmated, there is a risk of producing offspring less fit than themselves because of recombination. Other things being equal, asexual reproduction is quicker and easier.  Asexual reproduction is more common in species little troubled by disease.   On the other hand, sexual reproduction increases diversity and the likelihood of  survival in changing circumstances, it purges the species of damaging mutations, they are able to evolve new defenses against infections.  Some animals actually breed sexually and asexually at different times!

But as to  “how” sexual reproduction first came about there is little said.  In Why Have Sex?  The Population Genetics of Sex  and Recombination, (2006) Otto and Gerstein mention some of the reasons for sex listed in the previous paragraph.  But they offer no answer as to how it all got started.

Confronted with the fact that sexual differentiation actually does exist in most multicellular animals, we have to surmise that at some point throughout the millenia one of these creatures in the process of cell division just happened to  develop a cell with only half the usual complement of genetic material. We might call this a rudimentary egg (oocyte or ovum). Whatever could be the advantage of producing an egg? An egg would be of absolutely no use unless there was a sperm to fertilize it. If this animal found no mate, it would, of course, have been the first and last of its kind!

Well, perhaps another creature of the same species accidentally produced a sperm, complete with a tail. Why on earth  would it grow a tail when it didn’t have a clue that it would have to go swimming after an egg? And of course it would not be genetically pre-programmed to recognize an egg if it should chance to run into one!

If we accept evolutionary theory we are required to imagine that each animal that today reproduces sexually, in the distant past was going about its business of reproducing asexually, dividing and budding away, then ALL OF A SUDDEN it accidentally produced an egg and at the same time, in the same locale, another animal of the same species just happened to make a sperm cell. Also, simultaneously and independently they each accidentally acquired the apparatus to get the egg and sperm together so they could produce offspring with a full set of genes.

Are you buying this?

If ever there was a case of “irreducible complexity” we have one in the transition from asexuality to sexuality.  (Irreducible complexity means simply that the process cannot be reduced to a series of simple steps one after another.  If a number of things do not happen and come together all at once, nothing works.)

Asexual reproduction is going to produce progeny identical to the parent, unless genetic mutation occurs which will produce some change in the DNA.   For an organism to initiate sexual reproduction there is required additional genetic information, not only added to one organism but simultaneously to two organisms of the same type, at the same time, but differing so that the changes will be complementary.  There is no point in having a genetically female animal if there is no matching male anywhere around.

Accidental genetic mutations are almost always deleterious and have never been shown to involve an increase in genetic information. Consider that the informational content of the DNA in a single human cell equals that of 30 volumes of the Encyclopedia Brittanica or 10,000 floppy discs. Where did all the new additional information required for sexual differentiation come from?

The first big stumbling block in the theory of evolution, much discussed, is the source of the first living cell.  The likelihood that it put itself together (spontaneous generation) has been judged by Yale physicist Harold Morowitz, in the Origin of Cellular Life (1993) to be one chance in 10100,000,000,000.  Francis Crick, Nobel prize winning co-discoverer of DNA, thought the possibility of life arising spontaneously in some super-soup so unlikely that he posited “interstellar spores” coming from outer space as the source of life on planet earth!

Considering the way the probiotic soup is referred to in so many discussions of the origin of life as an already established reality, it comes as something of a shock to realize that there is absolutely no positive evidence for its existence.

Michael Denton, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, Adler and Adler, 1985, 261.

The second big stumbling block, almost totally ignored, is the origin of sexual reproduction.  When it comes down to sexual differentiation, there has been no cockamamie evolutionary scenario posited that will even begin to explain how two animals, of the same species, each separately acquired the necessary DNA information so that they could come together  to produce a third animal of the same species.  I have never seen any even remotely plausible explanation of how sexual differentiation might have first evolved in the Darwinian scheme of things. To my mind, the very fact of sexual differentiation necessitates, yes, demands a plan. And a plan demands a planner. “Male and female He created them,” not “Male and female they decided to become.”

What at a leap of faith it takes to accept that the evolution of amoeba to man accidentally “just happened” without any intelligence lurking in the background.  Over the years I have come to realize that the theory of evolution is primarily imaginary, not supported by the scientifically established facts of microbiology, the fossil record,  mathematical probability — or even common sense.

Truly, we are fearfully and wonderfully made!


A spin-off of this article was subsequently published by MercatorNet in Australia titled Vive la difference!–but how did it begin?


..but for the man there was not found a helper fit for him.  So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept he took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh, and the rib which the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman, and brought her to the man. — Genesis 2:20-22

This is what the LORD says, he who made the earth, the LORD who formed it and established it—the LORD is his name: ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know. — Jeremiah 33:2-3

November 23rd, 2009


Two blondes are sitting on a bench in Oklahoma.  One says to the other, “Which do you think is farther away, Florida or the moon?”

The second blonde replies:  “Hellooooooo!  Can you see Florida?”


A blonde pushes her BMW into the gas station.  She tells the mechanic it died.

He works on it a few minutes and soon has it running smoothly.  “What’s the story,”  she asks.

He replies, “Just crap in the carbueretor.”

She asks:  “How often do I have to do that?”


A police officer stops a blonde for speeding, and asks nicely to see her license.

She replies in a huff, “I wish you guys would get your act together.  Yesterday you took my license away and now you want me to show it to you!”


This blonde goes for a walk, comes to a river, and sees another blonde on the other side.  “Yoo-hoo,” she shouts.  “How can I get to the other side?”

The second blonde looks up the river, down the river, and then shouts back, “You ARE on the other side!”


A gorgeous redhead goes into the doctor’s office and complains that  she hurts wherever she touches herself.

“Show me,” said the doctor.

She took her finger, put it on her left breast and screamed.  She touched her elbow and screamed some more.  She pushed her knee and screamed, pushed her ankle and screamed.

The doctor said, “You’re not really a redhead, are you?'”  ” No,” she replied, “I’m actually a blonde.”

“I thought so,” said the doctor.  “Your finger is broken.”


A blonde was playing Trivial Pursuit one night and it was her turn.  Her question was, “If you are in a vacuum and someone calls your name, can you hear it?”

She thinks for a minute, then asks, “Is it on or off?”


The blonde calls the Fire Department screaming, “Hurry, hurry, my house is on fire and my children will burn!”

“Lady, lady,” they answer.  “You’ll have to calm down and tell us how to get to your house.”

“Duh,” she says.  “In your big red truck!”


I was visiting my blonde friend who had acquired two new dogs.   When I asked about their names, she said they were called Timex and Rolex.

“Strange names for dogs,”  I said.

“Hellooooooo” she answered.   “They’re WATCH  dogs!”

November 21st, 2009


A few days ago a friend in her early sixties was telling about her plans for Thanksgiving – her children were coming as well as her children’s children. She would have many to plan for and a house-full. “I can’t wait,” she said, “until I’m old enough for them to say ‘Mom, whose house are you going to this year?’” There is a season to be the matriarch and a time to pass the torch.

It’s November and family gatherings are bittersweet – it is good to see the folks we don’t see often enough; it is a reminder of the folks we sorely miss and won’t see again in this life.  It’s November and the church prays for the dead.   It’s November and I remember again that it was in November, 1992, that I saw my daughter Peggy for the last time before she was killed.

The death of a child is a pain like no other. How often have you listened to people who have undergone a terrible ordeal. They will say they would not wish such a thing on anyone but they would not undo it because it made them who they are today. Through their suffering they have become stronger, or more understanding, or wiser, or more compassionate, or more forgiving.

Peggy was my third child and I recall clearly taking her home from the hospital after she was born. When I took the first two babies home I had a scared feeling in my gut. Whatever could God be thinking to give the responsibility for the life and care of these tiny human beings to a young inexperienced twit like me? But when I took Peggy home she was lucky enough to have a mother with a some feeling of competence. The first two had somehow survived. I knew I could do the baby basics and that she wouldn’t starve at my breasts. There’s a lot to be said for experience.

I review in my mind that last November visit with Peggy — only Jay was home with her at the time. She had started making Christmas gifts – sewing Christmas wreaths for everyone in the family, and making a footstool for Ron. We drove to St. Augustine, looking for foam for the stool. As we worked together the love between Peg and Jay was obvious-–he was the adopted son that had grown not in her womb but in her heart.

When Peg died another Peg, a longtime friend, appeared at my back door. She sat at my kitchen table and proceeded to write a prayer from her heart. As we prepared for the memorial service I read her prayer to Jay. Something in that prayer, the gift of a caring stranger, reached him, touched him, and healing tears flowed.  (Peg Jones — that was her real name — has since gone to be with my Peggy.)

It is sixteen years later, and now Peggy’s Jay is about to become a Daddy. I know he knows about the importance of a Daddy who will be there for the long haul. He is in the process of making life-changing decisions. In the 58 years since Peggy’s birth there have been many people, many crossroads, many decisions. Each time someone steps left instead of right the whole trajectory is changed down through the ages. Each time a baby is accepted or refused, loved or not loved, it impacts many lives, many families, maybe even nations!   It is well said that God writes straight with crooked lines. He is somehow able to take our mistakes and our sins and weave them into his plan.  And each of us takes a road never travelled before.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference

…Robert Frost, 1915

It is November and my Christmas cactus is budding. The cactus has received nothing but water for the past 15 years yet year after year it buds in November.   I see in it a miracle unfolding and the promise of blooms for Christmas. And then the hope of spring. God is still at work.

To everything – turn, turn, turn, there is a season – turn, turn, turn, and a time for every purpose under heaven.

November. December. And these few precious days, I’ll spend with you.

Peggy's Last Christmas

Peggy's Last Christmas


A time to be born and a time to die,
A time to sow and a time to reap  — Ecclesiastes 3:2

November 15th, 2009



Do you know the legend of the Cherokee Indian youth’s rite of passage?  His father takes him into the forest, blindfolds him and leaves him alone.  He is required to sit on a stump the whole night and not remove the blindfold until the rays of the morning sun shine through it.  He cannot cry out for help to anyone.

Once he survives the night, he is a MAN.

He cannot tell the other boys of this experience because each lad must come into manhood on his own.

The boy is naturally terrified.  He can hear all kinds of noises.  Wild beasts must surely be all around him.  Maybe even some human might do him harm.


The wind blew the grass and shook his stump but he sat stoically, never removing the blindfold.  It would be the only way he could become a man.

Finally, after a horrific night, the sun appeared and he removed the blindfold.

It was then that he discovered his father sitting on the stump next to him.  He had been at watch the entire night, protecting his son from harm.

We, too, are never alone.  Even when we don’t know it, God is sitting on the stump next to us.  When trouble comes, all we have to do is reach out to Him.


God is our refuge and our strength, an ever present help in times of trouble.  Therefore we will not fear though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea —  Psalm 46:1-2
November 13th, 2009


I have written about the gift of prophecy before, in How Does God Speak and in Words from God.    Today I want to write about a particular prophecy which was delivered to Ronald Reagan while he was still governor of California.

Way back in the early 80’s, when I was in charge of the book ministry of St.



Joseph’s prayer group, we had in our collection High Adventure by George Otis.  In his book  Otis tells about a prophecy he had received to the effect that Ronald Reagan would become president.  I thought, “Wow!  This prophecy was in print years before Reagan was elected.  It took a lot of nerve to put it in print.”  A prophecy, after all, cannot be called genuine until it has come true.  I remember being tempted to keep the book for myself.   If my memory is accurate, and if such a book indeed exists, I have not able able to find that particular edition.   Those editions I now have stop short of giving the words of the prophecy.

It was October, 1970, in Sacramento CA, when Reagan was campaigning for re-election as governor, that seven people were gathered at Reagan’s home including the governor, his wife, Nancy,  his legal affairs secretary Herbert Ellingwood, Pat Boone and his wife Shirley, George Otis and Harald Bredesen.  Pat Boone has said of the last two  “I consider Harald Bredesen and George Otis to be my two Holy Spirit fathers.”

In his the last chapter of his 1971 book,  High Adventure, George Otis writes:

Harald said, “Before we leave, I think we ought to pray for the governor.”  Then someone suggested,  “Why don’t we hold hands?”  ….Who would pray?  Maybe Pat or Harald, or maybe Herb – everyone outranked me.”…The power of God shot through me and formed the prayer and moved physically on me–and at once!  My hands began to tremble slightly from the presence of the Lord.  I had felt it a few times before.  It would occasionally happen when I was laying hands on someone for prayer, but this was no place for that sort of thing.  Not when you’re holding hands with a governor.

From Bob Slosser’s Reagan Inside Out we have the following account of that prayer:

It was hard to tell who moved first, probably Boone, but in a sort of chain reaction, the seven took hold of each other’s hands and made an uneven circle. For an instant, they were like little children, each looking first to the right and down at one set of hands and then left to the other.  Only Boone seemed thoroughly at ease, but long friendship had broken all barriers between him and all those there, including the Reagans, their hosts. He had a happy smile on his face. Otis and Bredesen were obviously tense. Nancy’s expression was quizzical, but relaxed. All seven closed their eyes. Reagan bowed his head sharply;  Nancy’s remained fairly level. The others tilted theirs a bit. Otis, standing to Reagan’s left, remembered the few seconds of awkward silence that followed. “It was a little tense,” he said, “a bit embarrassing. We didn’t know how they felt about doing that, you know. Suddenly we realized we might be a little presumptuous.” And that’s the way they stood, holding hands, eyes closed. Otis thought the seconds seemed like minutes. He cleared his throat, and began to pray, “Lord, we thank you for the chance to be here together …” It was very general, the kind of prayer offered at large and small gatherings all across the land. It was so ordinary that no one remembered much of it. “I was just sort of praying from the head,” Otis said. “I was saying those things you’d expect–you know, thanking the Lord for the Reagans, their hospitality, and that sort of thing.” That went on for ten or fifteen seconds, and then it changed. “Everything shifted from my head to the spirit–the Spirit,” Otis recalled. “The Holy Spirit came upon me and I knew it. In fact, I was embarrassed. There was this pulsing in my arm.  And my hand–the one holding Governor Reagan’s hand–was shaking. I didn’t know what to do. I just didn’t want this thing to be happening. I can remember that even as I was speaking, I was working, you know, tensing my muscles and concentrating, and doing everything I could to stop that shaking. “It wasn’t a wild swinging or anything like that. But it was a definite, pulsing shaking. And I made a great physical effort to stop it–but I couldn’t.” As this was going on, the content of Otis’ prayer changed completely. His voice remained essentially the same, although the words came much more steadily and intently. They spoke specifically to Ronald Reagan and referred to him as “My son.” They recognized his role as leader of the state that was indeed the size of many nations. His “labor” was described as “pleasing.” The foyer was absolutely still and silent. The only sound was George’s voice. Everyone’s eyes were closed. “If you walk uprightly before Me, you will reside at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.” The words ended. The silence held for three or four seconds. Eyes began to open, and the seven rather sheepishly let go of hands.  Reagan took a deep breath and turned and looked into Otis’ face. All he said was a very audible “Well!” It was almost as though he were exhaling. Otis was struck by the calm expression on  Reagan’s face. “I was really concerned about how he might have taken it all,” George remembered. “But the expression on his face was kind, wholesome–a receptive look, you know.  It was not gushy or sentimental or any of that. He just said, ‘Well,’ and that was that …”

Small talk followed, and the visitors soon rose to leave–Pat Boone, singer, entertainer, celebrity, outspoken Christian; his wife; Harald Bredesen, former pastor, television interviewer, and minister to world leaders; George Otis of High Adventure Ministries, later founder of TV and radio stations in the Middle East. It was a strange assortment of people. It had been a rather strange afternoon.

“Questioned later, Otis was particularly struck by the fact that his prayer-turned-prophecy had been so precise about Reagan’s future. “God had a plan,” he said, “but it was conditional. It hinged on Reagan’s actions.” Most emphatically, he was dismayed about the shaking of his hand during the prayer, concerned that Reagan might have thought him eccentric. But his amazement was increased when he later learned from Ellingwood, who had been on the right side of Reagan, that the governor’s other hand had been shaking similarly to Otis’s. Ellingwood himself recalled years later that he somehow felt a “bolt of electricity” as he clasped Reagan’s hand. “I can only think that the prophecy was being authenticated to the governor,” Otis said. Pressed as to his opinion of Governor Reagan that day, he said: “Well, as you may know, I’ve always liked the man. I thought he was great. But, remember, there wasn’t a lot of talk about his being president at that time. I sure hadn’t talked about it-certainly not up to the time of that word there in his house.” Bredesen, some time later, recalled that he had been much impressed by Reagan’s relaxed, boyish appearance and by his friendliness. And he had found the governor’s knowledge of the Bible to be deeper than he expected … “  [From Bob Slosser’s Reagan Inside Out.]

In Pat Boone’s book, Pat Boone’s America, he writes:

A bunch of us Christians, including Shirley and George Otis, founder of Voice of Hope Radio in the Middle East and some others from our church had gone up to attend a gospel rally and were invited by Ron and Nancy to come to the mansion after the event for a short visit.  We happily did.  The Reagans were very hospitable and eager to hear about the rally.

As we started to leave someone asked the governor if he’d mind if we prayed with him.  He welcomed the idea and we joined hands in a circle.  We each took turns praying briefly but then something happened that no one expected:   George began to prophesy.  That is, with our heads still bowed and hands clasped he spoke as if it were a message from God directly to Ronald Reagan.  “My son, I am pleased with you.  If you continue to walk uprightly before me, you will reside at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.”


Well if you know your history you know that as President Carter ended his first term in 1980, America replaced him with the election of Ronald Reagan.  I happened to be in D.C. that election night and when the networks began to reveal the outcome, I tried phoning the Regan home back in the Pacific Palisades community of Los Angeles.  I assumed they’d had their number changed, but Ron answered the phone himself!  To my delight, he told me he and Nancy were lying in bed watching the results come in, not at some victory celebration.  I was amazed.

“May I be among the first to address you as ‘Mr. President’?” He chuckled and said it sounded fine to him.  I then asked, Mr. President, do you remember that prayer circle at the mansion, back when you were governor?  He answered quietly but firmly, “I sure do.  I’ve thought about it many times in the past few months.”  I was bathed in goosebumps and I suspect he was, too.

Pat Boone described the incident  above to Jon E. Dougherty as follows:

Otis had Reagan’s hand when he “suddenly broke in and began to speak prophetically,” Boone recalled. “He uttered, ‘My son, I am pleased with you. … If you continue to walk upright before me, you will live at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.'” … “We were all stunned,” Boone said … “It did seem to all of us that George was not simply speaking from own consciousness but that he was actually delivering a prophetic word. It was so specific.” Some years later, the prophecy came true; Reagan defeated incumbent president Jimmy Carter. On that night, Boone said, he called the newly elected president to congratulate him and ask if he remembered Otis’ words. “‘Of course I do,'” Boone recalled Reagan saying.

Paul Kengor in God and Ronald Reagan tells the same story.  He also  records that Reagan’s born-again experience as an 11-year old was so strong that he received special permission to be baptized a year before his church normally allowed for baptisms among youth under the age of 12.  Years later as governor of California Reagan participated in a prayer circle in which an influential Christian leader named George Otis delivered a message from God to Reagan that if he continued to live righteously he would one day live in the White House.

Steven Lawson, writing in Charisma talked about the influence that both Bredesen and Otis had on Ronald Reagan.  He said, “Bredesen was with [Pat] Boone and evangelist George Otis, Sr., on another much celebrated visit, this time with then-California Gov. Ronald Reagan.  Otis told Reagan that if he remained faithful he would someday occupy 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Eric Tiansay and Adrienne S. Gaines, also writing in Charisma, said: “Some Christian leaders say Reagan felt a sense of calling to the presidency.  Christian broadcaster and author George Otis said he prophesied to then Gov. Reagan at his home in the late 1960s that he would one day occupy 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.– if he walked uprightly before God.

Harald Bredesen died at age 88.  At his 85th birthday party, Pat Boone recounts that Bredesen pulled him aside and pointed to one of the guests, Senator Sam Brownback R-Kan.  “Remember when we prayed for Ronald Reagan? Bredesen asked. “ I have the same feeling about Sam Brownback.  Someday he may be president.”

George Otis, Sr., described as a millionaire turned evangelist,  died in 2007 at the age of 90.

Herbert Ellingwood was  appointed deputy Counsel to the President in 1981.  As best as I can determine, Herbert E. Ellingwood died in 1998 at the age of 67.

Pat and Shirley Boone are still alive according to a letter from Pat Boone Enterprises of Los Angeles in September 2008.

Nancy Reagan lives on at 88.   Wondering if Nancy might mention the incident in her book, My Turn, I ordered and read it.   I found it very enjoyable for insights into the years of the Reagan presidency.  Nancy kept a diary of those years and relates details of visitors to the White House and Camp David including how she arranged the seating at formal meals and what was served.  It is actually a very informative book but it did not contain the information I was looking for.  On writing to Mrs. Reagan I received a note back from her assistant, Wren Powell, saying:
“Unfortunately, Mrs. Reagan is unable to help you with your request for information regarding a meeting at her home in 1970. She did not keep a diary at that time, and has no recollection of the event you describe.”

Of those present at the prophecy and still living,  only Shirley Boone remains to weigh in.  I have recently written to her at Pat Boone Enterprises in Los Angeles and have had no response to date.


Ronald Reagan’s 1981 Christmas address:

Reagan jokes:

Interesting sidelights: