Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The first iServant Media-inspired news story

I want to thank KOMO Newsradio's Brian Calvert for having the heart to tell this story the right way.

(Courtesy of KOMO Newsradio)

"Food, Shelter, and Safety. That's all one woman needed to point her life in a positive direction.

Like so many others, Sandra needed out of her lifestyle ruled by drugs and alcohol.

'I was dead in my tracks, and I had burned all my bridges,' Sandra tearfully told KOMO News.  'I finally admitted that what I was wasn't me.'

Sandra knocked on the door of the Salvation Army Womens' Shelter at Pike and Boren on Seattle's Capitol Hill. She had a place to sleep, a place to eat, and as it would turn out…a place to start over. You see, a lot of us think of shelters as a place one where just gets some sleep and food. But Captain Dana Libby reminds us that is merely where this new journey begins.

'People have the ability to change their circumstances if you can help them overcome their immediate needs,' Libby says.

Watch the rest of Sandra's inspiring story by clicking the video link above.

There will be a benefit Saturday, September 29th in Ballard to raise money to expand this womens' shelter. For more information on the 'Gimme Shelter' event with host Joel McHale, click here.


Tickets are still available to "Gimme Shelter."  Click on the below link to purchase:

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

"Is Catholic journalism just PR?"

Great article on The Deacon's Bench blog by author Deacon Greg Kandra (another former member of the secular news media spreading Good News):


Courtesy The Deacon's Bench blog


There’s a question for the ages. This is something everyone who works in church media wrestles with — and the question isn’t an easy one to answer, especially when the organization you’re covering, the Church, is also the one signing your checks.

But John Burger, late of the National Catholic Register, got one answer following the Benedict Groeschel debacle. The good folks at Get Religion have more, but here’s the headline: Rod Dreher is reporting that Burger was sacked over the interview:

Here is how Dreher’s post opens, and closes:

Several readers have e-mailed to say that John Burger, the veteran National Catholic Register writer and editor who conducted that controversial interview with Fr. Benedict Groeschel (it’s been removed from the site; story about the controversy here) was fired by the EWTN-owned newspaper because of it. I confirmed with Mr. Burger that he was let go because of the incident, but he did not wish to comment further.

This is disgraceful on the Register‘s part, just disgraceful. I hope somebody in Catholic media with a job to offer will contact John Burger and talk to him.

And the conclusion:

EWTN and the newspaper it publishes has made John Burger, now jobless, suffer for committing the sin of journalism. At the Register, the truth won’t set you free; it’ll cost you your job. See, this is part of the reason why so many talented men and women of faith stay away from church-affiliated news and entertainment media. People who run churches and church organizations often don’t understand what communications (journalism, filmmaking, etc.) is. They think it’s all supposed to be publicity, and so they guarantee mediocrity, and ultimately the discouragement of talented people — artists and journalists — who have good and useful talents to give to the whole church.

Frankly, I don’t think Burger was the one at fault. He did his job, and delivered what the Register wanted. Could the interview have been better? Probably. It would have been good for Burger to sense that something was wrong with Groeschel’s comments and ask him, “Just to be clear…are you saying…??” or give the priest a chance to get out of the corner into which he’d painted himself. But Groeschel’s remarks went by unchallenged, and the rest is history.

No, the real problem was with the editorial process. Did no one in the editorial hierarchy read the interview and say, “Wait a minute. He said WHAT?” Did no one pick up the phone and call the publisher (which happens to be Groeschel’s boss, EWTN) and say, “We have a problem.” Did no one think for a moment that having a popular and widely revered figure like Fr. Groeschel say those things might stir up trouble? Did no one consider that they should get some clarification on those comments — or, to protect the old man’s reputation, just remove them? (The interview, an admiring anniversary piece anyway, wouldn’t have suffered without them.) Finally, did no one understand what so many people have been saying for years (and what he admitted in his statement): that Groeschel’s health is frail and his wits aren’t as sharp? Who thought interviewing him was a good idea in the first place? And why didn’t the Friars of the Renewal intervene to protect Groeschel from himself?

Those who toil in Catholic media are constantly walking a tightrope, between being fair and balanced journalists and being unabashed apologists. I once worked for a Catholic media enterprise where the rules were clear: “You can tell both sides of the story,” my boss said, “but you have to let the Church have the last word.” That worked better in theory than in practice. There were also a lot of issues that never got coverage — the debate over women’s ordination leaps to mind—because they were radioactive and deemed too controversial.

In the Groeschel case, someone clearly had to take the fall for this monumental blunder. Unfortunately—and unjustly— it was John Burger.

But the reality is: there’s plenty of blame to go around.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Light Of Christ Shines Through

Posted this picture on Facebook. I was attracted to it for obvious reasons on this the 11th anniversary of 9-11.

A church friend (Karl Holtzknect) was the first to notice the unique aspect of the photo:

"I love the photo and how it reminds me of the cross in our individual lives and yet how the light of Christ through the Cross transforms our lives into new life."

It's amazing how seeing things through a prism of faith can change the view.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

23rd Sunday in Ordinary Times - Reflection During Homily

Jesus Christ heals us in truly amazing ways. He heals us from the bad things in all of our lives if we are open to it. The Kingdom of God is present. All we need to do is open our ears to hear.

But we have to first heed Isaiah's plea to "Be strong. Fear not."

I'd like to share a story about a boy I know.

When he was seven, his baby sister died. She had a congenital heart defect. The little girl lived to be three and her suffering made a big impression on her big brother. Some of the boy's first memories are of going to the hospital to see his little sister held up to a window as he stood with his grandmother outside.

The little girl would die in the arms of their mother on the way to the hospital after a long illness.

Fast forward seven years, and the boy was now a teenager. He was 14 and in middle school, but he was hiding a dark family secret. His sister's death had triggered his father's mental illness. For several years, his father checked into mental hospitals for electric shock treatments in hopes of ridding him of his demons. It was an all too common drama for his mother, two brothers and himself. One the boy was too embarrassed to share with his friends.

The boy had a paper route and was up at the crack of dawn every morning to deliver the daily news. One November morning as he was returning home from his paper route, his father met him at the door.

It was a work day, but his father was not dressed for work. The 40-year-old man had eyes red with tears as he told the boy he loved him and then said "goodbye."

The boy knew something was wrong. But he didn't tell anybody. Instead he just dressed and went to school. That afternoon, his uncle picked him up after sports practice and told him his father had committed suicide.

The boy started to cry.

Just then, two of his friends came up and said "Hi," and the boy buried his tears of anguish and pain, putting them away for many, many years.

Fast forward again and the boy was now a man. He has two children of his own and a beautiful wife. His life has been extraordinarily blessed. But there's an unresolved wound in need of healing.

The man goes to Church with his family, but is not really buying this faith thing. His wife signs him up to be a lector in the parish. He studied speech in college and was even a competitive public speaker. She thought it was a good place for his talents.

He agreed, but only to keep his faith-filled wife happy. It wasn't going to change how he felt about going to Church. For him, he was just going through the motions.

The man trained with a long-time lector in the parish asking the lector if he should count to five or ten on the "prayers of the faithful" when it called for "prayers in the silence of our hearts." The patient trainer told him to "just listen for the Holy Spirit."

As he began to serve as a lector, the man could swear the readings he read and heard every week were aimed directly at his life. This startled him.

Over the next advent season, the man had an amazing experience. As he read and listened to the readings at Mass, he felt he was being called to do something he swore he would never do.

So, one day after Mass, he told his wife he wanted to go for a drive to a special place to do something important.

As they approached the place, his young boys asked, "Daddy, where are we going?" The father explained, "You know my dad died when I was a boy. This is the cemetery where he's buried... next to my little sister."

As the man walked up to the tombstone, he knelt and did what he heard the Word of God telling him to do. He forgave his father.

As he forgave his father, a weight was lifted off his shoulders and he began to cry.

And in his tears of sorrow and joy, the man realized the Father he was really forgiving was God the Father. And the man wept even harder.

God wants into the unhealed and broken parts of our hearts. Jesus Christ wants to take us away from the hustle and bustle of this present world and perform a miracle in our lives.

But we have to be open to letting these miracles happen. And they may not always be the miracles we expect.

In Mark's Gospel today, Jesus uses the word "Ephphatha" when curing the deaf man. We are told in the reading the word means, "be opened." But it also means "be released."

By Jesus healing this deaf-mute, Mark is showing us all that Jesus is opening up people to the word of God.

By taking this man away from the crowds and doing this miracle in private, Jesus is manifesting the love God has for each and every one of us and how it is shown in personal and private ways throughout our lives.

The whole Gospel event echoes the words found in our first reading from Isaiah:

"Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared; then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the mute will sing."

This living water -- the Word of God -- poured out from this ambo at Mass each week is a well-spring for our salvation.

It is living water that bursts forth in the desert of our modern world. And we all know what happens when water bursts forth in the desert? Beautiful new life begins to bloom.

As we drink of this water each week, we are healed by our Lord and Savior. We are given new life and are called to shed our old lives. We are called to "Be strong, fear not!" We enter the Kingdom of God.

For Mark and his readers, Jesus is saying, "Follow me on my way. Care for my people, until there are no longer any sick or hurting people on this earth. But know that in your healing service of others you will experience the same pain that I experienced in making you whole. Stay with me. I will provide the nourishment you need."

I think many of you have probably already guessed as to the identity of the man whose life was changed by the Word of God.

I am forever grateful to my God, for this beautiful faith community, and to Jesus Christ for healing me from the personal tragedies in my life.

I was once deaf. But now I hear.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Blessed Mother Teresa

15 years ago today the world lost Blessed Mother Teresa. Just thinking of her today and praying for her guidance for our troubled world.