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Dear Friends,


All of what follows and much of what I write this week is inspired by my reading of Aeon, an online magazine, “committed to big ideas, serious enquiry and a humane worldview. That’s it.”


You can find Aeon at


Maurice Merleau-Ponty is a French philosopher that I studied when I was in college and, probably, he is the reason that we have the suckers, the ice cream trucks, Trunk or Treat, and a whole lot of food and drink involved with our parish.


He came to the conclusion that we learn more effectively and creatively by doing rather than just seeing, human thinking emerges out of human experiencing.


Rene Descartes a French philosopher in the 16th century said, “I think therefore I am.”


With that, he created a gulf between the body and the mind that is still painfully afflicting us today and, in, particularly perverse ways, young people, at least as I observe them.


I should point out that Rene Descartes’ mother died shortly after giving birth to him, his father was a member of the regional parliament and was away from home most of the year, so little Rene was raised by his grandmother and bachelor great uncle.


No wonder he thought!!!


Feelings hurt!!!


Descartes made his “I think therefore, I am” a non-negotiable principle of philosophy and it has been embedded as boiler plate in Western European/American thinking ever since.


Our minds cannot, stop and think about this, our minds cannot exist independent of our bodies.


Our mind is not “out there” ahead of us, us being the whole rest of the operation, the me, that is me, is not just thinking about being with friends or lovers, it is anticipating the whole experience, tasting it, salivating over the promise of breathing the same air with one we care for and, love.


Dancing isn’t learned by thinking, it is learned by doing, shaking and jiggling your body parts alone or with others, makes for dance.


George Balanchine one the most creative and important choreographers in the 20th century had Igor Stravinsky write the music before he created the dance, so important was the ear to the legs and feet and arms.


I know there is a relationship between mathematics and music but anyone who writes music that people listen to knows that the composer felt before he counted.


Today there is a whole genre of “new music” doesn’t count at all, it flows. Karin plays some as preludes and meditations. Listen!


Over the years when my young friends have discovered sexual intimacy, they will, often, tell me, “I act like an animal,” and I’ll say, “you’re don’t, you are just you, enjoy it!”


They do!


No one really believes that “when you have your health you have everything,” no one. When you have life, you have everything as long as you possibly can hold on.


Our grief, our painful teacher of teachers, is not an intellectual process.


Tears are not the same as thought, tears and thoughts comingle with feelings of despair, doubt, remorse, anger, and fear, to be grief, the reality that can only result from love.


For weeks, I love to look at the indentations on my couches after friends have sat there, I rarely straighten things up.


The wrinkles left in pillows, the crumbs on the carpet, sometimes empty bottles or cans, and smells, the smells that are left behind, all of this is irrational but, I’ll bet a pretty universal experience that is human and humanizing.


These are just some of the ways that we can think about that false divide that Descartes created and we can choose to live in ways that are more holistic, healthy, and fulfilling.


So why then are we giving tablets and computers to our kids to learn about life from? What ultimate good does a STEM based education do for anyone?


Every evening I like to walk down to my favorite park in Paris, I have talked about it before, I’ll sit for an hour or two.


The park is filled with little kids in a marvelous play area, young lovers on the grass, groups of friends sharing bottles of wine or pop or beer, old folks, like me, on benches on the periphery.


Occasionally, I will glance up and notice, that all of us, all of us, except the little kids, have a damn screen in front of our faces. 


In the lobby of the Louvre Museum there are hundreds, maybe, even, thousands of people, at any given time, and most of them are looking at screens in front of them, walking blissfully into one another because there is free and pretty good WIFI in the Louvre.


Looking at screens has benefits, no doubt, but it also has a very limiting downside. Screens raise barriers to human contact and interaction, physical and emotional and spiritual.


The screen filters the humanity of the interaction, it is nice to ‘face time” but isn’t it more fun to be with one another and maybe the desire or loneliness we feel when we are apart from those we care about teaches us something that we need to know and would like to know.


Maybe it teaches us at a very deep, but very real level, that physical presence is but one dimension of our relationship but there are other dimensions that keep us in touch that are just as real.


So, I am hardly a good spokesperson for Jesus but when he talks about eating his flesh and drinking his blood he does mean something, not anything. We will live forever, if we feast on his flesh and blood.




Deciphering that metaphor means that the Sunday Liturgy means more than the Catholic practice has let it mean. It means that somehow that language has got to find a way into our minds and our hearts and our eyes and ears and mouths and feet, every single body part.


The Sunday Liturgy should and can be an erotic experience in the fullest sense of the word. It should “taste” good and feel good.


Allowing the whole thing to be filtered through the experience of white, European, childless males for almost 2000 years, is a big, big mistake. Isn’t it?


I think Jesus relied on common sense and expected us to have the people who dissolved their bodies into our bodies, our mothers, take the lead in teaching the metaphor, but, alas!



Father Niblick