Sunday, December 31, 2017

Reflections on 2017 - A Resolution for 2018

Well, I did it.  I fulfilled my New Year’s Resolution for 2017 and blogged at least twice a week for the entire year.  I learned a lot about Tolerance, and hope that you may have, too.

It appears that these blogs have been viewed about 10,000 times, or about 70 times per blog.  I have heard from several readers – thank you for the encouragement!

Lately, however, I’ve been reflecting on who has been reading my musings.  It appears, for the most part, that you have been sympathetic to thoughts on tolerance in the areas of race, religion, sexual preference, gender, etc.  I have not heard from anyone who has been critical of Tolerance, or any of the blog posts that I have published.

So, while I am humbled and grateful to those who have read and even more so those who have given me feedback, I wonder how much I have been “preaching to the choir.” 

It seems to me that what our society needs now to address the issues of Tolerance and civility is a conversation among people who hold different viewpoints.  It seems that, at least in the discussion of politics and policy, we have devolved into talking AT (maybe, shouting at) each other instead of having a fruitful conversation where we consider another’s point of view and honestly examine our own beliefs to see if we have something new to learn – something we had not considered before.

This is the last post in Tolerance 2017.  Time to try to reach out to folks who don’t think like me to see if I can learn something new.

So, my Resolution for 2018:  Become a moderator of groups of “red” and “blue” citizens to start the conversation.

I’m signed up for moderator training through Better Angels[1] in February.  I hope to be able to team up with another moderator for conversations in rural Minnesota.

If you’re interested in becoming a member of Better Angels, see the website in the footnote below.  If you’re interested in helping convene a conversation in your community, drop me a note at .  I’ll try to put you in touch with folks from Better Angels.

Happy New Year!  2018 has the prospect of being a good year for America, if we pledge to engage our fellow citizens in good faith, with respect and – dare I say? – Tolerance.   

[1] To learn more about Better Angels, see

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Pope Francis' Christmas Message

Here are excerpts from Pope Francis’ Christmas message.  The full text can be found at  I highly recommend reading the full homily.

Mary “gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn” (Lk 2:7). ….

Let us go back a few verses. By decree of the Emperor, Mary and Joseph found themselves forced to set out. They had to leave their people, their home and their land, and to undertake a journey in order to be registered in the census. This was no comfortable or easy journey for a young couple about to have a child: they had to leave their land. At heart, they were full of hope and expectation because of the child about to be born; yet their steps were weighed down by the uncertainties and dangers that attend those who have to leave their home behind.

Then they found themselves having to face perhaps the most difficult thing of all. They arrived in Bethlehem and experienced that it was a land that was not expecting them. A land where there was no place for them.


So many other footsteps are hidden in the footsteps of Joseph and Mary. We see the tracks of entire families forced to set out in our own day. We see the tracks of millions of persons who do not choose to go away but, driven from their land, leave behind their dear ones. In many cases this departure is filled with hope, hope for the future; yet for many others this departure can only have one name: survival. Surviving the Herods of today, who, to impose their power and increase their wealth, see no problem in shedding innocent blood.


The faith we proclaim tonight makes us see God present in all those situations where we think he is absent. He is present in the unwelcomed visitor, often unrecognizable, who walks through our cities and our neighbourhoods, who travels on our buses and knocks on our doors.

….. Christmas is a time for turning the power of fear into the power of charity, into power for a new imagination of charity. The charity that does not grow accustomed to injustice, as if it were something natural, but that has the courage, amid tensions and conflicts, to make itself a “house of bread”, a land of hospitality. ….

In the Child of Bethlehem, God comes to meet us and make us active sharers in the life around us. He offers himself to us, so that we can take him into our arms, lift him and embrace him. So that in him we will not be afraid to take into our arms, raise up and embrace the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, the imprisoned (cf. Mt 25:35-36). ….

Moved by the joy of the gift, little Child of Bethlehem, we ask that your crying may shake us from our indifference and open our eyes to those who are suffering. May your tenderness awaken our sensitivity and recognize our call to see you in all those who arrive in our cities, in our histories, in our lives. May your revolutionary tenderness persuade us to feel our call to be agents of the hope and tenderness of our people. 

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

We Wish You a Merry Christmas

This song is a surprising choice for Christmas music with a tolerance twist. 

We wish you a merry Christmas
We wish you a merry Christmas
We wish you a merry Christmas
And a happy New Year.
We wish you a merry Christmas
We wish you a merry Christmas
We wish you a merry Christmas
And a happy New Year.
Good tidings we bring to you and your kin.
We wish you a merry Christmas
And a happy New Year.

And, unless you really want to read about figgy pudding, you don’t have to go to the link for the complete lyrics!

Peter, Paul and Mary performed this song in their Christmas concert, broadcast several times on the Public Broadcasting Network.  They added some words to the song.  (Would this be “a bridge”?  I’ll have to refer that question to my grandsons……)

Once in a year, it is not thought amiss
To visit our neighbors and sing out like this.
Of friendship and love, good neighbors abound
And peace and goodwill the whole year around.

(Pace!) (Shanti!) (Salud!) (Shalom!)
The words mean the same, whatever your home.
Why can't we have Christmas the whole year around?
Why can't we have Christmas the whole year around?

(You really should listen to this performance, and you can by clicking here.)

The words are the same, whatever your home, but if your home is Syria, you can’t come here to America (according to some people). 

We sing out of friendship and love and good neighbors – whatever their skin color, religion, sexual preference, etc., etc….

And the last line of this bridge (if that’s what it’s called): 

Why can’t we have Christmas the whole year around?

Peace on earth.  Goodwill to all.  Generosity.  Respect.


There is, in fact, no reason we cannot have the Christmas spirit all year.  It is only our lack of imagination and perseverance that prevents it.

And we all can take action to change our attitudes, even if only a little bit.

I wish YOU a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!