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There were good Catholic parents waiting for my child, and they would take him or her and love it more than I could, and what future could I give it, after all? Washburn, who had succeeded so well at success, and failed so badly in life. If life means coming home to your wife and children, eating a good dinner, and smoking a pipe in your library after your meal.

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And who would care for my child, after I left the home? I was in, after all, Necedah, Wisconsin. I was months away from giving birth, and half a year from meeting Mary Ann van Hoof, who swore like a truck driver and called me a slut and wept because the Virgin Mary had visited her--years before I was born--and now visited no more. I was as ephemeral as a falling leaf from an old tree in the grounds of the asylum that the governor of Wisconsin tries to forget, as he stares out into the widowed future in his portrait.

She was gone, as were her two daughters. I was gone too, as was my son, and all I had left to do was take care of an old lady, as nasty and crude as any I had met. The old lady who saw the Virgin Mary. Tuesday, July 11, Bumping into Mary. You might as well herd cats…. And somebody has to do something with Mary Ann van Hoof.

Her bishops completely failed her, which is a shame, since look what they just did with Sister Adele? I say it with pride--the only time that the Virgin Mary ever set foot in the good old US of A was right there in my home state. More to the state than cheddar cheese and toilets, I can tell you that. And then you tell me about about cheddar cheese--which I know about--and then toilets….

Well, well--the cheap leaves dear, as we say. After all, look at the Madison Museum of Bathroom Tissue! Closed in , after a mere eight years in existence. On Wednesday, December 8, which is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, the Most Reverend David Rickin, Bishop of the Diocese of Green Bay, decreed with "moral certainty" that the events, apparitions and locutions given to Adele Brise in October of do exhibit the substance of supernatural character, and approved these apparitions as worthy of belief although not obligatory by the Christian faithful.

Well, screw that! Or maybe she does, and nobody recognizes here. Though it does make you think…. Spaceships and virgins! The mob, back in the days of Al Capone, used to run up from Chicago to get rid of their corpses in Necedah and Juneau County. Mary Ann van Hoof, and the Virgin.

One feels a bit sorry for both of them. Well, the Virgin is still stomping about, though the bishops keep sniffing their noses at her.

But Mary Ann van Hoof died in , and is all but forgotten, and she went to her grave just as she sprang into the cradle. And since all you have to do nowadays is not drink, well, you might just as well write the story of van Hoof and the Virgin.

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Then we can all have a book presentation, and drink champagne to your success. Sorry, none for you…. Did I ever tell you about the tarantula that lived in our bathroom? Get to work! I paint houses, you write the story of la Hoof! Just time enough! Wednesday, May 24, Visiting Hours. Yes, I conceded that there were miracles all around us, and indeed within us.

I granted—perhaps arrogantly? And then I said that God made Himself known, and spoke to me, through music. And so I ventured on to Chapter 5, which is entitled How it Works.

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We can tiptoe around the God issue once again! In fact, I had bemoaned the need to cook up a Higher Power to my sister-in-law, who is as godless as I am. She is, however, one of the best people I know, as well as being a virtually teetotaler, which in my family is unheard of. Anyway, she had the answer…. No, dammit, step three means just what it says, and no weaseling or pussyfooting!

Here it is, dammit! My biggest fear is of living in a world in which people have turned over their will and lives to the care of God as they understood Him.

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Which is why, today, I have not read much about the bombing in Manchester, England, immediately following a pop concert that attracted mostly teenagers. It was clear after the Boston marathon bombings that reading the biographies, getting the back story, watching the sobbing mother and the angry father—all of that was not going to explain how a suburban Boston man could put a pressure-cooker filled with nails and a timer in front of a child. Yes, a child he must have seen. But is there any doubt that he was giving his life and his will as well as several other lives and wills to his God as he understood Him?

Life, Death And Iguanas

This is extreme, of course. But I could also recount an experience that happened to me the last time I went into swimming in a pool. We were in St. Thomas, staying at a hotel instead of enduring the San Sebastian Festival. And among the hotel were a young couple, clearly Muslim: the woman was draped in full-length black robe, and wore hijab , or head covering. We observed her as we frolicked in the pool, which was dangerous even for me, tall and a strong swimmer. The first ten feet or so gradually deepened, but in a footstep the water went from being at shoulder level to being over my head.

And it was into this pool that the young Muslim women entered. Dressed, yes, fully in her robe and her headscarf. I thought it might be me, trying to drag an hysterical, panicking body wrapped in yards of waterlogged fabric out of danger. I freely grant you that we do not—we freethinkers—set up soup lines, feed the homeless, shelter runaways, visit the aged and infirm, and do a host of other good things that good churches do.

Powerless over alcohol? See the picture below for a glimpse of how I looked, and how I was feeling, and admission to rehab the second time around. So—the Big Book told me to scurry around and find a God. After all, I dragged poor Boethius into it, and he seems to have given up the consolations of philosophy and living about a millennium and a half ago. It was the best I could do.

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I am truest to the godhead, at least as I understand it , when I listen to music. So yesterday, I abandoned myself to the Lamentations of Jeremiah, which are usually listened to in the Tenebrae. I had heard about the Lamentations, and I had read about the Tenebrae, but I never knew much about it until I went to the grocery store. There, I ran into the Episcopalian minister who was the partner to the manager of the gay bathhouse.

Since the wait in line at the checkout is usually as long as Lent itself, I got a full description of the glorious music of Thomas Tallis, and of the precise order in which the fourteen candles or more are extinguished. The minister painted a wonderfully evocative of the darkening and then darkened church Tenebrae deriving from the Latin word for shadow. Wikipedia, here, will have to suffice:. The principal Tenebrae ceremony is the gradual extinguishing of candles upon a stand in the sanctuary called a hearse. The six altar candles are put out during the Benedictus, and then any remaining lights in the church.

The last candle is hidden beneath the altar, ending the service in total darkness. The strepitus Latin for "great noise" , made by slamming a book shut, banging a hymnal or breviary against the pew, or stomping on the floor, symbolizes the earthquake that followed Christ's death, although it may have originated as a simple signal to depart.

All rise and then leave in silence.