Friday, January 28, 2011


Among the many blessings in my life has been the presence of people in recovery programs. Daddy was never in one himself, but he taught me the Serenity Prayer when I was a kid. He said it came from Alcoholics Anonymous, but ours was not a drinking family, so that didn't register much. But other important people have been in The Program. Starting back when I was a seminarian with a spiritual director and a confessor who were recovering alcoholics to today when I have friends who are in recovery from addictions to drugs, spending, pornography, overeating, gambling and sex. Some of my students were in recovery, and I learned far more from them about life than I think I ever taught them.

Not all of them participated in one of the gazillion Twelve-Step Programs based on the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous. One of the things I learned is that AA doesn't claim to be the only solution to alcoholism. It just says it has worked for its members, and it makes available what they have learned to anyone who is interested in hearing about it. They have an absolute aversion to taking money for it, too. [That alone makes me wonder when I read that Twelve-Step Spirituality is a truly American spiritual tradition.]

Most of us have heard of the Twelve Steps, even if we don't know what they are. There are also organizational rules (if you can call anything about AA a rule, or even call it an organization) that are called the Twelve Traditions. The word tradition is intentional. Not Twelve Commandments or Twelve Ordinances or Twelve Laws or Twelve Decrees. Twelve traditions -- that is, the way things have been done and handed down. Not from God, just from previous generations. A big part of the study of the Traditions is an explanation of why each one exists. Often this consists of a story about a really good idea that proved to be not so great. So the Tradition arose to keep that lesson alive. One friend told me that the Steps -- how the person in recovery lives life -- keep the alcoholic from killing him- or herself. The Traditions -- how the group operates -- keep alcoholics from killing one another.

Tradition Three sets out in clear English "the only requirement for A.A. membership."

If you don't already know, take a moment and look at this list. What do you think the one requirement is?

1) To stop drinking one day at a time
2) To attend meetings regularly
3) To practice the Twelve Steps under the guidance of a sponsor
4) To admit you are an alcoholic
5) To accept the basic principles of recovery as set out in the official literature

Well, which one? If you know much about recovery programs like Alcoholics Anonymous, you know that they make a big deal of doing it one day at a time, of the need to attend meetings, of the role of an experienced person in helping you make the Steps, of the fundamental need to admit you have a problem, that the basic literature is very important.

So what is the sole requirement?

Tradition Three: "The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking."

That's it. A desire to stop drinking. [Or stop using drugs, or stop overeating or stop whatever the addictive behavior may be.]

Amazing! No promise to believe the Book, much less buy it. No promise to show up at least once a week. No promise to do what the Book says to do. The only requirement is the desire to stop whatever is killing you. And the only other thing you hear that might sound like a demand, but is really just an invitation, is "Keep coming back."

Oh, there's a lot more to recovery than that. But that's the only requirement. The way you do the rest is up to you and God (or in recovery-speak, your Higher Power.)

I guess that sounds a lot like my vision of God right now. A God who reaches out to me and says the only requirement is a desire to stop killing myself. And the invitation to keep coming back.
He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:8
I'd be happier if I could just do that.

So might we all.

They Were Flying For Me - The Challenger Space Shuttle

Click on arrow to watch video. Make sure your sound is on.

Well I guess that you probably know by now
I was one who wanted to fly
I wanted to ride on that arrow of fire right up into heaven
And I wanted to go for every man
Every child, every mother of children
I wanted to carry the dreams of all people right up to the stars

And I prayed that I’d find an answer there
Or maybe I would find a song
Giving a voice to all of the hearts that cannot be heard
And for all of the ones who live in fear
And all of those who stand apart
My being there would bring us a little step closer together

They were flying for me

They were flying for everyone
They were trying to see a brighter day for each and everyone

They gave us their light

They gave us their spirit and all they could be
They were flying for me
They were flying for me

And I wanted to wish upon the Milky Way

And dance upon a falling star
I wanted to give myself and free myself, and join myself with it all

Given the chance to dream, it can be done

The promise of tomorrow is real
Children of spaceship Earth
The future belongs to us all

She was flying for me

She was flying for everyone
She was trying to see a brighter day for each and everyone

She gave us her light

She gave us her spirit and all she can be
She was flying for me
They were flying for me
They were flying for everyone
They were trying to see a brighter day for each and everyone

They gave us their light

They gave us their spirit and all they can be
They were flying for me
They were flying for me
They were flying for me
They were flying for me

Words and music by John Denver

This is John Denver's memorial to those who lost their lives in the Challenger disaster 25 years ago. Christa McCauliffe, the science teacher who died along with her companions, was from Concord, NH and the Carmelite nuns there knew her.

The first time I saw this video, I cried. At the time it was because of the tragedy of the explosion. Today it brings tears to my eyes because it recalls a time when we did wonderful things in this country and when people of many opinions, beliefs, backgrounds and political positions worked together to risk building a better future for everyone -- "for me", Denver sings, for all of us. Today that seems a forlorn memory.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Another potential title for a book

A few weeks back, I posted about possible titles for my next book. Possibilities keep cropping up ...

You may recall the wonderful 1980 movie, The Gods Must Be Crazy, in which a band of bushmen are living well off the land in the Kalahari Desert. They are happy because the gods have provided plenty of everything, and no one in the tribe has unfulfilled wants. One day, a glass Coke bottle is thrown out of an airplane and falls to earth unbroken. Initially, this strange artifact seems to be another boon from the gods, and the bushmen find many uses for it. But unlike anything that they have had before, there is only one bottle to go around. This exposes the tribe to a hitherto unknown phenomenon: private personal property. They soon find themselves experiencing things they never had before: jealousy, envy, anger, hatred, even violence.

Since it has caused the band unhappiness on two occasions, one of the men -- Xi -- decides that the bottle is an evil thing and must be thrown off of the edge of the world. He sets out alone on his quest and encounters Western civilization for the first time. The film presents an interesting interpretation of civilization as viewed through Xi's perceptions.

I saw the movie in 1984 with some missionaries while studying at St. Louis University, and their experiences in Africa gave them a take on the movie that added to my enjoyment of it.

At the library yesterday, someone referred to the movie and then altered the title for my benefit: The Dodds Must Be Crazy.

It could work.

Things you learn by reading other people's clothing

This past week I picked up a faux retro Green Lantern t-shirt, a bit like the one my hero Sheldon Cooper wears on The Big Bang Theory. Yesterday, I wore it for casual Friday at the library, over a long-sleeve t-shirt, à la aforementioned Dr. Cooper. Alas, unlike Sheldon, I do not have an actual Power Lantern nor a Green Power Ring and I do not, even in the privacy of my own room, ever, ever, EVER recite the Green Lantern oath (Hal Jordan version):
In brightest day, in blackest night,
No evil shall escape my sight
Let those who worship evil's might,
Beware my power... Green Lantern's light.
At any rate, a middle-aged Ho Chunk man who comes to the library all the time commented that it was a nice t-shirt. I thanked him and he opened his jacket to show me his t-shirt. It said, "Stereotypes are great time-savers."

As Sheldon Cooper would no doubt say, "Bazinga!"

For what it's worth, I also picked up a Sheldon Cooper t-shirt that says Bazinga!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Baby, it's cold outside!

It is -17 (-27.2 C) at 8:00 AM.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Lance Lundsten, 18, Miltona, MN

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

RE Facebook

About every six months I check Facebook -- mainly to see if there are any pictures of Riley, Jackson, Brooke or Brinkley.

Today when I went to look, I discovered that apparently someone (in England???) has been trying to hack my Facebook account. So no more Facebook for me, boys and girls.

Just in case you are wondering ...

I'm baaack!

I got back last night from Texas. I had a nice visit with my parents, my brother Ted and sister-in-law Cynthia, my niece Kristin, her husband Vince and their lovely baby daughter, Miss Brinkley. An aunt picked me up at the train when I arrived and a cousin and her husband took me to catch my return train, so I got to visit with them, too.

The train trip was pleasant, except that I left my wallet on the train when I got off in Texas. Well, everyone needs a little drama in life, right? The good news is they found it at the next stop and sent it back on the next train. So that was all over in a matter of hours. (Don't ever, EVER do this, okay?)

I have today off to catch up on things and rest up before heading back to the library tomorrow. So I will do some housecleaning in preparation for Tom's foster son and his daughter who will arrive for a visit tomorrow. I will shop and cook dinner, too, since Tom is spending much of his day at the little railroad, plowing snow. Because it never stops snowing in Wisconsin.

We had snow in Whitehouse while I was there over the weekend, and East Texas is totally unprepared for it. But it didn't last long enough to create problems. That picture is of icicles melting off the palm trees by the Barnes & Noble. Yup, palm trees. So much for winter storms!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

I'm leaving on a real train ...

Tomorrow I head to Texas to spend a few days with my parents and to see other members of the family. I will have access to a computer, but I doubt I will post anything. My mother has assured me she will keep me busy!

So until I get back, take care.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Best New Year's toast

May your troubles last only as long as your New Year's resolutions!