Month: June 2021


Years ago, a friend was interviewed to direct a capital campaign at a local church. A member of the hiring committee asked him, “Do you believe in the Second Amendment.” My quick-thinking friend replied, “I believe in All the Amendments.” I must leave it to you to determine how the right to bear arms is a factor for hiring a fund-raiser.

This anecdote reminds me that many Americans hold as sacred the right to bear arms. So, I’m reluctant to suggest the US has too many guns in circulation. However, I invite you to consider whether there is any correlation between the two charts below. My personal view is that we have plenty of firearms and too many automatic (machine gun) type weapons.

When it comes to guns, my motto is “All Things in Moderation.”

From “America’s gun culture in charts,” BBC News, April 8, 2021

Peace officers

Jim Arness (1923-2011) was Matt Dillon in all 635 episodes of Gunsmoke’s 20-year TV run. He shot 383 people: One every 1.7 episodes. That’s a lot, but most of the smoke was from other guns. Arness had a peaceful demeanor. His character was reluctant to use force.

I prefer the term peace officer. It’s a subtle but basic shift. At their best, peace is what they do. It’s who they are. Let’s honor our peace officers and lift up those who model the profession’s best practices.

I agree with Peggy Noonan that we need more, not less, funding for peace officers. We ask too much and pay too little. The “defund” movement seeks to redirect resources to accomplish some social service roles we ask of law enforcement. It can be both/and, not either/or. Fund the cops. Find ways to offload some of their social work duties.

In 1985, Charles Strobel, a Roman Catholic priest in Nashville, opened his church to the homeless. Until then, when the dispatcher received a complaint about a homeless person, an officer’s only recourse was jail. Strobel’s work led to Room in the Inn, a faith-based shelter-providing network that has been replicated in other cities. There are creative ways citizens can be involved.

From “13 certified as peace officers,” by NPC, White Mountain Independent, June 25, 2021

Deep roots

Casey, Crime Photographer; The Fat Man; The Man Called X; Mystery Is My Hobby; The Silent Men; Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar; Radio Detective Story Hour; Dick Tracy; Dragnet; Nick Carter, Master Detective; Gang Busters; and 21st Precinct.

The dozen links (above) provide a sampling of “modern” US radio crime shows, as opposed to “old timey” radio shows like The Lone Ranger, Tom Mix, and Gunsmoke.

Some radio shows had later incarnations as television shows, including two decades of TV’s Gunsmoke. Before we dig into some current issues of crime and how we police ourselves, these samplers provide a nostalgic and instructive background of our national crime-solving consciousness.

From Calling All Cars: Radio Dragnets and the Technology of Policing, Kathleen Battles, 2010

A place to begin

When I write a string of posts about a topic, it’s not because I have answers, but because I have questions and it helps me to write, and engage others, in my search for next steps. The impetus for these posts came from two newspaper items. One was Peggy Noonan’s May 27 Wall Street Journal column, “Defund the Police? No, Fund them Better.” You can read it free at her website,

The immediate catalyst was Neil MacFarquhar’s June 24 New York Times article, “Why Police Have Been Quitting in Droves in the Last Year.” Asheville, NC lost more than one-third of its officers in one year. The article includes the painful story of one officer caught in an us-versus-them crossfire. Officer Lindsay Rose was belittled by some of her LGBTQ friends who chanted, “All gay cops are traitors.” It’s a complex, multi-faceted problem.

And it’s not new. Violence is introduced in the first biblical family, when Cain, the son of Adam and Eve, murdered his brother Abel. Among the story’s lessons: (1) We’ve always been prone to violence; and (2) we are all family.

Officer Rose quit. She later asked the chief if she could have her old badge to give to her grandfather, who had pinned it on her. The chief talked her into returning to the force. He had made some changes. One example: short-sleeve shirts are now okay.

From “Why Police Have Been Quitting in Droves in the Last Year,” Neil MacFarquhar, The New York Times, June 24, 2021


Closure is often sought and difficult to achieve. Friends and family of the June 24th Surfside, Florida condominium collapse are dealing with the “what if” and “if only” thoughts that are part of achieving closure after a tragedy.

The June 25th sentencing of Derek Chauvin for the May 25, 2020 murder of George Floyd was another opportunity this week for the entire nation to move toward closure after a tragically transformative event in Minneapolis.

For the next week, these posts will focus on issues of crime and restitution. Crime isn’t a uniquely American problem, but America has a unique crime problem. Crime is a universal problem, as old as the first family in the Bible.

Tomorrow, I’ll share a newspaper article that prompted my own self-reflection about these issues as well as a word about our brothers, Cain and Abel.

What’s happening in one city: The Stan Greenspon Center for Peace and Justice at Queens University, Charlotte, NC

Shovel ready?

The Lehman Brothers bankruptcy in September, 2008, signaled a major financial crisis. Cascading stock prices bottomed in March, 2009. We remember those days as the “Great Recession.” Barack Obama, then a candidate for president, identified some much-needed “shovel-ready” projects to stimulate the economy. He worked for this in the early days of his administration. The young president wasn’t able to accomplish his goals.

In the fall of ’08, I hoped we would rebuild our infrastructure. In the fall of ’16, I hoped another new president (said to be good at “building things”) would prioritize our infrastructure. His priority was overturning the Affordable Care Act. A recent TV news broadcast showed a crumbling highway bridge in Rhode Island that has been shored-up with wood pilings. Recently, the I-40 bridge over the Mississippi River has been closed to repair a cracked beam.

So, I was happy to watch President Biden’s announcement of a bi-partisan “deal” on infrastructure. Based on earlier failures of our national government’s efforts, I confess some skepticism whether it will be passed by Congress and signed by the President. But, as Alexander Pope said, “Hope springs eternal.”

From “Bipartisan Solutions to Rebuild America’s Infrastructure,”by Jessica Lombardo,, April 26, 2021

Escape from Fantasy Island

Two friends I’ve never met are Peggy Noonan (whose column I cite occasionally) and Rachel Maddow (whose TV program I’ve not cited until today). It’s quite possible they’ve never met. They could be good for each other as each has been good for me.

A true friend encourages a person to think, which these commentators accomplish from their respective perches on the right and on the left.

Noonan’s recent Wall Street Journal columns are available without a paywall at her website. She writes for her friends on the right and the center right. Her recent columns urged them to reject the conspiracy theories that have flourished in America’s Fantasy Island atmosphere of recent years.

Maddow is our best Fantasy Island tour guide, giving context for conspiracy theories. A replay or transcript of the 6/22/21 program gives oxygen to important reporting by the Arizona press about the bizarre events unfolding there around the election “audit.” Let’s find a way off this island!

From “The Arizona election ‘audit’ is a partisan and amateurish endeavor that ‘should not be trusted,’ expert review finds,” by Charles Davis, Business Insider, June 22, 2021

A friend at the center

A friend I’ve never met is Cynthia Bourgeault. Among her many involvements is serving on the faculty of the Center for Action and Contemplation. I know her primarily through her contributions to CAC’s daily meditations.

Bourgeault practices a tradition called centering prayer. I’ve learned from her interactions with people in a variety of spiritual traditions. They’re drawn together by a common interest in contemplative prayer.

Our chaotic, fragmented world needs the healing that comes when we are drawn together in silent prayer (like spokes of a wheel get closer as they get nearer the hub). Bourgeault reminds me to create space for silence, reflection, consciousness of what I’ve come to call the Defining Presence.

“Wisdom, like water, is itself clear and formless, but it necessarily assumes the shape and coloration of the container in which it is captured. Between formless essence and manifesting particularity there is a reciprocal dynamism; you can’t have one without the other.” – Cynthia Bourgeault, from “Wisdom Teaching and Quotes,” at The Wisdom Way of Knowing.

From an introduction to Cynthia Bourgeault at The Contemplative Society

A friend on the right

The Weekly Standard, a conservative magazine, was an early opponent of Trumpism. It was acquired by the Washington Examiner and is now an arm of the Examiner. A recent article described the search for “the ‘alpha energy’ that motivated at least some of Trump’s supporters without making the outlandish statements that many found off-putting.” (From “Trumpism After Trump,” by Sean Trende, June 17, 2021.)

Some of the pre-Examiner Weekly Standard writers are now at The Bulwark, a web-based magazine with conservative principles that I find helpful. A self-description: The Bulwark is a news network launched in 2018 dedicated to providing political analysis and reporting free from the constraints of partisan loyalties or tribal prejudices.”

A friend I’ve never met at The Bulwark is Charlie Sykes. Yesterday’s “Morning Shots” focus was: “Why Ban Only Critical Race Theory?” His classic conservative principles express the essence of democracy.

From “Charles Sykes, Author at The Bulwark


I’ve read about friends who never met but had long, deeply personal correspondence with paper and ink. I have friends I’ve never met, which is increasingly common in Cyberspace.

Matt L.R. is someone I know only through WordPress, the blog platform you’re now reading. He’s a cartoonist who conveys much-needed humor around some of life’s absurdities.

At Matt invites me to reflect about life’s meaning from a safe distance. Charles Schulz (1922-2000) did that with Peanuts. We all need a safe place to ponder life’s mysteries.

I grew up with Mad Magazine. As editor of our school paper in the 9th grade, Alfred E. Neuman graced the cover of our first edition. My mom gave me an appreciation of satire and self-deprecating humor.

From “The cartoons woke me from a deep sleep,” by Matt L.R., LASTFLYINGCOW