Thursday, November 8, 2018


Dear Archbishop George Lucas,

It’s time to go.

To be fair, you are not alone. The Catholic Church is rotting from within, from the top down to the people in the pews. Incremental change is ineffective in a time of crisis. The time for formal listening sessions and public relations blunders has long passed--it’s time to overturn some tables.

In every published word you have spoken (that I can find) regarding the scandal in which your archdiocese is currently mired, you’ve made it clear that it hasn’t been you who failed--it has been the policies to which you have adhered. Your explanations for future change are a constant, unceasing chorus of self-talk disguised as responsibility where you give voice to your own doubts and failures by nervously negating them in front of your flock--a constant dilution of your voice, thanking lay people for the generosity of their criticisms, and treating the “thanks” of your parishioners for your listening as a substitute for the gravity of accepting that your very actions placed them in the position to have those criticisms in the first place.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018


What if we lived in Norfolk, Nebraska for the rest of our lives? With no family within four hours, only two other family members in the same state, and two families scattered in every imaginable way and direction, Norfolk has some things going against it. Depressing things.

Yet Norfolk offers almost everything that many people have said they want in their hometown--it’s small enough to feel safe, big enough to support a family, remote enough that it’s largely populated by people who were born in the area, and slow enough that it will probably be the same town when your kids have kids of their own. Omaha doesn’t check any of those boxes, and Lincoln is full of people who are just taking a break before they move to their mountain homes in Vail.

Sunday, September 23, 2018


I’ve spent the past two years trying to remove things from my life--dieting, selling cars, getting rid of possessions, cutting expenses, and focusing less on loose relationships and more on a small core of friends and family.

This was partly done out of a self-diagnosed need. In the case of my diet, I was 15 pounds overweight. While that doesn’t sound like a big number, my clothes weren’t fitting comfortably anymore. It was time to either make a change or buy new clothes, and clothing isn’t very high on my list of spending priorities--especially when an ongoing basement project provided more interesting ways to spend money.

Sunday, June 11, 2017


When words lose their power and honesty is not welcome, silence follows. Silence is often not merely appropriate--many times, it is the only honest part of a broken relationship. Broken is broken, regardless of mutual acknowledgment.

Logic is useless in a mind which defies, denies, or ignores reality. And honesty is not welcome in a relationship when problematic stories are expected to be believed without question and wrong actions are expected to be allowed without correction.

While it is true that everyone has the right to be wrong, rights have consequences. No one wants a spouse who defends his or her behavior on the basis of “rights.” Having the right to mistreat a love one is about as useful as claiming the right to speed when a police officer is standing next to your car. Rights aren’t the same as being right, and--codependency aside--the consequences aren’t always within the control of the offending party.

When one side of a relationship starts dictating the terms of the conversation because they are tired of having their stories picked apart, that’s cause for honest silence. It doesn’t matter if their stories are full of holes, nor does it matter that a new, equally hole-filled story will take their place once the initial stories meet resistance. What matters is that honesty is barred when faith is expected by those whose constantly-shifting stories confirm the lack of basis for their expectation.

Silence isn’t the same as giving up; sometimes silence is the only honest part of a relationship. What power do words have when logic is useless and honesty is not welcome?

Monday, February 27, 2017


The primary goal of a wall is to avoid moving. Most walls are designed and built with this goal in mind. So, if your goal is to make a wall move, you have to understand that you’re attacking its strength.

Attacking a strength is a good way to lose.

Walls come in many forms: a closed mind. Delusion. Thoughtlessness. Intolerance. On…and on…and on.

You can’t change someone’s mind when it is closed. Honest conversation is impossible when you’re talking to a person who believes their own lies. And logic is useless when you’re dealing with someone who refuses to think for himself.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Dear D.L.,

…and now we’re more alone than ever.

There were five people in agreement on what needed to happen.

Less than a week later, it was down to four.

And now--six months later--only two people are following through on the actions which five originally agreed upon. Those two people are the problem--everyone else has moved on.

This was never about the yelling. The yelling was one of the many symptoms of an abuser who refused to take responsibility for his actions.

Short and simple: the abuser still hasn’t taken responsibility.

Nothing has changed.

Those who have moved on have simply moved on. No one else talks about this situation every night. It’s fixed. It’s over.


Truth sounds like hate to those who hate truth. Silence confirms this, and silence says more than an endless stream of delusional explanations ever will.

Dear D.L.,

I should have written this before last Friday, but it’s tiring when you’re expected to be the only one who comes up with answers. So a post-weekend prediction--which proved to be true--will have to do.

You hadn’t visited in almost six months. You didn’t call, write, or give any explanation for your silence. You let your wife--who was all to happy to put on a good front, to tell everyone how much you’ve changed--do all the talking for you. You took the easy way out, thinking that the passing of time would replace the explanation you refused to give.

Time won’t heal this one. You want to us to come back in the water because you’ve stopped being a hurricane. But you haven’t acknowledged what you’ve done. You haven’t expressed any remorse to anyone, with the exception of the codependent enabler in your life who will always coddle you and tell you how much it wasn't your fault. You’ve just stopped raging (this is second-hand knowledge--please confirm), with the hope that everyone will forget. But how can anyone believe what you refuse to acknowledge?

Last September, there were six of us in a room. Five of us all agreed on what had to be done: you had to make visible, outward changes, and that the rest of us couldn’t go back to acting like everything was normal until you did. But you wouldn’t even admit your fault when we gave you specific examples of your abuse. You blamed your victim, you denied your responsibility. You had no idea what was important in your life, you professed to love an occupation that clearly makes you miserable, and you refused to take responsibility for the changes you need to make in your life.

You know how this situation came to be. For 46 years, no one has ever held you accountable. Your family, for all of their virtues, cowered in fear of you. When you blew up, no one called you on it. You just expected everyone else to get over it--and if they didn’t, that was their fault. You just moved on, as though it was your place to do so. You'll be lucky if that trait doesn't continue into the next two generations.

Which brings me back to this past weekend. You want everything to go back to normal because you’ve been behaving--but in three days of visiting, you didn’t even acknowledge the change in your behavior, much less the reason for the change. But I can give you the simple version: an outsider came into your family and showed you a mirror. You--and everyone else in your immediate family--has now seen who you’ve been, who you are, and who you’re going to become if you don’t take responsibility for your life and make dramatic changes as a result. Incremental changes are already obsolete, and your continued silence will only make things worse.

Things don’t have to get worse. They can get better--you can decide to make changes. This is not as good as it gets. The present situation is not the best we can do. What we (and by "we," I mean the rest of us) are dealing with right now is trying to make the best of a broken family--and fixing broken things is what you do better than anyone I know. Fix this. Fix it now.