Category - Culture

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While I’ve Been Gone…
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Another Homecoming Tale
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My Hot Homecoming: Return to MIcronesia
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Immunization Against Microbes and the Hard Knocks of Life
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Reflections on Two Years Stateside
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We Used to Be Just Odd… Now We’re All Sick
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What Do You Do with a Failed State?
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Cultural Collisions

While I’ve Been Gone…

Next week I leave for Buffalo for a weekend with the family, centered around the wedding of a niece. After that, thankfully, it’s back to the islands to set up camp on Guam.  Just today I received an email confirming that I will be living at the cathedral rectory in downtown Hagatna (as it is now called).  I’ll be doing pastoral work on weekends, teaching a course at the seminary, and trying to take advantage of whatever opportunities come along to do useful things. A few projects have already been proposed by some–for instance, a short book to commemorate the Diocese of the Carolines.  I’m sure there will be others. The truth is that I haven’t found myself idling for too long at any stage of my life. Read More

Another Homecoming Tale

Yap may be a small island , but there is a lot going on there these days.  “The Island of Stone Money,” as the place is sometimes called, seems caught up these days in the other kind of money–the green stuff bearing portraits of US presidents.  All week long there have been budget hearings to deal with projected cuts in funding. Read More

My Hot Homecoming: Return to MIcronesia

It’s hard to explain to others how comforting it is to be uncomfortably hot.  Since I landed on Yap three days ago I’ve been sweating constantly.  What a relief!  It doesn’t hurt that I’ve had a 5 PM basketball game set up every afternoon, courtesy of Dickson Tiwelfil, the young man from Woleai who will entering the Jesuits later this summer.  I knew that I’ve been homesick, despite the wonderful people I’ve worked and recreated with in the US over the past two years, but I never reflected on how Read More

Immunization Against Microbes and the Hard Knocks of Life

Those hand sanitizers that I wrote about a few months ago are still on the credence table in our church here at Oceanside to keep parishioners safe from germs.  But there is plenty of other evidence germophobia is here in the US to stay.  Last night a woman from the parish told me that some families are taking their kids to see allergy specialists at the first sneeze during the pollen season. I wish I’d had that option years ago when my eyes watered so much with rose fever that I could barely see the book in my hand. Some parents seem to live in fear that Read More

Reflections on Two Years Stateside

Let’s just call this blog posting an update.  Since my time here in the US is coming to an end, let me offer a few thoughts on what these past two years here have given me.  They’ve been very different years–last year at America Magazine and this one at a parish.  Each has played to one of the two facets of ministry that has been especially important to me in the past: speaking to public issues, and personal care for the needy. Read More

We Used to Be Just Odd… Now We’re All Sick

Once upon a time, long ago, we were all just ordinary people. Well, some of us might have had our quirks and been teased about them, but at least we were accepted as fundamentally sound members of the human family, oddities and all.  This woman was skinny, while that one was fat.  One person in our neighborhood was known as “loopy,” while another had graduated to being outright crazy.  The woman across the street was hot-tempered, as I recall, while her husband was known to have a strong liking for the “sauce.”  There were the moody people, and others who shed tears profusely at any little thing that happened. Then, too, there were also those who were up-tight. Read More

What Do You Do with a Failed State?

First, you find out what the term means.  Unfortunately, the Fund for Peace, an NGO that each year publishes the Index of Failed States, doesn’t seem to offer much help.  It offers a list of symptoms–civil strife, hunger, poor economic performance despite sometimes rich resources, breakdown in government services, widespread corruption, and a steady flow of refugees heading for the border.  But at bottom all these are just consequences of the core problem: a national government that is too weak and ineffective to rule. Read More

Cultural Collisions

The other night I asked one of the men here if he wanted to go with me to see a move that he had mentioned approvingly the week before.  He replied that he didn’t feel in the mood to see a movie tonight. His favorite TV program was on that evening, he was feeling a little tired, and he wasn’t sure that he even wanted to see the movie in the first place.

“Listening to you makes me yearn to be back in the islands,” I told him.  “At least in the islands a person I was inviting to a movie would save face all the way around by making Read More

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