Tag Archives: Austin Rivault

Faith Camp, Bukidnon Youth Conference and the Future

Faith Camp is a one week long camp held for middle school aged students based somewhere in Vermilion Parish. There are currently two such camps held each year. While the kids are the focus it is an event that involves people of all ages. For many who participate in its various aspects it is both an optimistic and fun experience and a deeply spiritual one. The Catholic faith is celebrated in a context which is fairly complete and brings the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the experience of church into the lives of these young people in a complete way.

The last two weeks  before this posting there has been ongoing the 20th year of continuous Faith Camps. This ministry was founded by my sister Susanna whom I saw at Faith Camp last night. At the time she founded she and were regular prayer partners and she was in the area and living at Big Woods during the summer after having started her studies at the Franciscan University of Steubenville. It was a fairly small camp that year but I was deeply impressed with it and shared with her my own memories of a live-in conference  in Bukidnon when she was a child as one of my better memories and so the two things were linked in my mind at the inception although there was not much of a causal link.  Susanna wasalso a small child when the Bukidnon Youth Conference was going on around and near her in various manifestations in Malaybalay, Bukidnon on the southern island of Mindanao in the Republic of the Philippines. I haven’t been back since the 1980s but it was a time which I have always felt had a big influence on the rest of my life and other lives in the family. Many members of my family have played key roles in the success of the camp over the decades. This year a middle school aged child of one of the campers at the second camp was a camper at Faith Camp.

 

 This year my sister Sarah’s eldest daughter Alyse is the coordinator of Faith Camp as she was last year. This is one of the blog posts that I write that is not primarily driven by the news. It is more driven by  a series of important experiences, recollections  and feelings which resonate in my life. This is one of those posts which combines both some vivid recollection and some fading memories: But the hope one felt at key times continues. The possibility of really putting together a history of those years is a daunting and not a very promising prospect. But the prospect of trying to recapture some of the spirit of those times seems a worthy aspiration as it will help me to convey some thoughts about the current times and some of the times in between now and then. I went from New Zealand to the Philippines with my birth family when I was seventeen and arrived there around Christmas. The bottom right hand picture below is of the Maranatha Youth Group in St. Pius X Church Parish in Titahi Bay which I left behind there on those cool windswept coasts. We passed through Australia on the way there.The top set of damaged images are from my time in the Philippines as is my better picture of myself leading my sisters on the carabao. The bottom right hand corner isa picture of the wall of my Household at the Franciscan University of Steubenville.

 

 We were in the Philippines for a couple of years (or so I remember without checking) and Simon was born with difficulties associated with Prader-Willi Syndrome. That was also at Christmas and was at the time of my Bukidnon Youth Conference which is the real subject of part at least of this post. Due to Simon’s condition we came back to the United States. While there I completed my Freshman Year at USL — now the University of Louisiana  — in one semester and in the preceding summer worked in some college and youth ministries in the church. Then we all returned to the Philippines and I renewed my ministry for a while and in the summer just after my brother Joseph was born and having overstayed my visa in a tense time in a country on edge and with a gift of a large and dangerous looking tribal sword I flew back alone to the United States.The picctures I took there for various reasons have not much been digitzed and the ones that were have not al made it into part of the cloud I can access. But the memories that I have of the Philippines are indeed plentiful and meaningful. Many of them were pleasant enough. Although the images in the pair below do not show the day to day life there as I justified that life they do show some of the rewards of the experience. Visiting the sick westerners in trouble, prison ministry, speaking to dozens of groups and working with college ministries all filled most of my days. But the Bukidnon Youth Conference was perhaps the  peak of my ministry there.  Being a 52 year old, divorced, childless near indigent was not the future among many possible futures which I saw as most likely in those days. But the journey since has certainly been a complicated on and rich too in color and texture and that sense of richness makes me feel like an expert on almost everything on some days. While that is not fair to much of anything neither or the days entirely fair when I feel that my onIy efforts to communicate come from having little else to do that is fulfilling and that I only ever feel that I  am well qualified to be a sage because I appear not to be qualified for anything else. My life has not been laser focused in a single direction and my time in the Philippines was not either. I like Faith Camp and I liked the Bukidnon Youth Conference in part because they touched many aspects of life from the arts to sport to socializing over dinner. This reminds me of one of my first Facebook notes when I wrote about  some of the extracurricular activities and hobbies that have enriched my life  and divided them into the big three categories of Faith, Science and Sports which I  chose to denominate as easy issues for that early Facebook note. These Easy Issues are not to be confused with the Easy Essays written by Peter Maurin of the Catholic Worker Movement. His essays were easy,  because he easily guided the reader through the complexities of political philosophy to a simple and cohesive approach which would provide the framework fo the movement he and Dorthy Day were founding. In my Facebook the subjects are easy because of my tremendous insights into the very narrow experience I had in each of those fields — I did not concern myself with the larger picture. There was some tongue in cheek in the use of there terms and words but Faith Camp and the Bukidnon Youth Conference were also founded to give young people a real body of experience that they could claim as their own. A small window of controlled positive experience from ehich to see the world.

During those years when ministry was part of my life I did a lot of work preparing to work . One thing  or another or many things must be left out including almost all my regular Catholic  school time but I now note  the religious education I received. Some I received within the context of the schools mentioned. However, I also took a set of remote preparation confirmation classes in the Diocese of Lafayette within the Come Lord Jesus Program and the brief imediate preparation course at a Parish in the Archdiocese of Wellington, New Zealand. I was confirmed by a cardinal. In the Diocese of Lafayette I also completed instruction in and was commissioned for Evangelism as a Lay Evangelist of my native dicoese. This was also where after college I was certified as a catechist. Beyond those things, I completed the Life in the Spirit Seminar, the Cursillo de Cristiandad (en Ingles), a basic Lector’s training, Prayer Group Leaders Training Course, a salvation history micro course and stdied as a journalist the English translation of the Prelature of Bukidnon’s Alagad course which was a successful lay leadership course. I also read and discussed the Documents of the Second Vatican Council many times and in many contexts. Susanna who founded Faith Camp completed here degree in theology while continuing to build up this ministry. The two things have in common that they communicate to the kids from a depp and well laid foundation.

Like a lot of activity among Christians it is designed to provide an opportunity for a personal spiritual experience. The importance of personal spiritual experience in America is more evident than in some countries. One of the reasons for that comes from a man who was not a Christian but had a profound influence on the Christian and other populations of these United States at a critical time — the Revolution. Thomas Paine, one of the great thinkers of the American revolution basically stated that one of the profound problems with revelation as a basis for any law or covenant is that as soon as it is written down or described rather than existing as a perceived miracle or apparition or Messianic epiphany it becomes mere tradition. Three things can be said about that idea that miracles and revelation become traditions:

1. It is somewhat true and worth keeping in mind.
2. If God, the universe, the gods and Divine Wisdom were communicating with humanity they might not excuse people who said “Well, I needed that direct Apparition your Highness — didn’t get it so it’s your fault not mine.”
3.In places and times such as existed in the Charismatic renewal there was a renewal within the person which was seen to confirm the written Word and the received tradition. It is out of that third connection with the renewal of the background music and lifestyle of our family that the Bukidnon Youth Conference (BYC) and twenty years of Faith Camps have come. The Bukidnon Conference was less part of the Charismatic Renewal than was some of my work in those days and the current Faith Camps only remind one of the renewal. But the tradition is there.

St. Augustine is credited with two sayings that mean a lot to me as far as faith goes. One is “Seek not to understand that you may believe. Seek rather to believe that you may understand.” That saying is not perfect and is easily misconstrued but it remains profoundly true and truly profound.The second saying I will allow to explain itself and to be interpreted without me. St Augustine wrote “The best and the worst men in the world live in monasteries.” The idea that these young people come together to find understanding and to explore a fully lay spirituality does not mean that none will later become monks, priests, scientists or theologians some do and those around usually rejoice.  But the experience is of a different focus of informing a growing faith and living for Christ in the world.

That Filipino journey  in which the Bukidnon YouthBconference was born was one  which only temporarily ended just after the conference itself. But after returning with them from my time at USL and in this region I did not stay but went to enroll at the school where Susanna was studying when Faith Camp was founded.  I returned a bit early and went to live that summer with my paternal grandparents in a larger than most two storey house beside a park. That  is where I lived in that intervening summer have lived at other times and is also where I am living  now as I type this but I have only been here for a few months this go round. Then I enrolled as a sophomore at the Franciscan University. The summer after my sophomore year I returned to the Philippines to visit and overstayed my visa yet again by only a few days and flew home alone. I left school in mid semester for complicated reasons including some to do with problems in the Philippines related to those whom I had invited into the region to help me with the Youth Conference and  shortly after leaving school I met my parents returning to Abbeville where I currently reside. All of that was along time ago and I took a break to do some more ministry and other things before enrolling again at USL and finishing my degree there. Thousands of picture taken during those and subsequent years are unavailable to me here and now on this blog. But the family on the bottom left hand of the set below are the son of Abbeville friends and his wife who have been FMC missionaries where we once served for more than a few years now. The picture on the bottom right hand corner shows my brother Simon and my parents at an FMC Donors Dinner. He clearly survived the ordeals surrounding his birth as did we all.

 

Of the  actual BYC as an event I have no photos to share and never had many photos. Indeed of the conference itself very little documentation was made and far less survives. But there are a few things and here are a pair of snippets of that time. The newsletter Resounding Praise which defined so much of our communication with the rest of the world had a feature on the conference. This gathering so distant in time and space is still near to my memory and sensibility. The sense and vision behind the conference was one of bringing young Catholics and some not sure they were Catholics together to celebrate the gospel and to deal with the real challenges not only of their personal lives but of Islamist and Communist pressures from groups which in several cases were profoundly hostile to their Catholic Christian commitments.  There was also a real openness to finding what could be improved in the generally pro-American, Catholic, free market synthesis that informed the conference. There was not a tone of xenophobia or paranoia but of relatively optimistic participation in the world as it was  for young Catholic Christians. There is something in Faith Camp’s tradition that has always reminded me of that event.

 

 

There are bigger events in the world than Faith Camp or the Bukidnon Youth Conference but bigness is not everything. Nonetheless as America approaches it participation with other countries in the Rio Olympic Games I am reminded that the New testament is full of references to Olympic events. Paul wrote of racing, boxing, archery and of the disciplines of training as well as the glories of victory in those ancient games. For those going to the Olympics who are Christians while they should respect the games and the diversity there it can be both a mission and a spiritual experience in Christ.

A few years ago London prepared to see the wedding take place in Westminster Abbey there was a lot of suffering and pain in the world. Truthfully, there is almost always a lot of suffering and pain in the world.  Whatever their role may be in adding to the sum of distress in the world, the British royals do quite a bit to lessen the sum of woe and that was not the less true in a year when they were planning a royal wedding . That  set of outreaches to those in need is an effort that  is well documented. Prince Charles, Camilla Duchess of Cornwall and Prince William (the bridegroom this weekend) all have long supported a variety of charities benefiting humans, animals, ecosystems and cultural groups in distress.Prince Charles has a substantial income as Duke of Cornwall and donates a great deal of the income to charities in such a way that it leverages and is leveraged by other charitable donations. While it may well be that not a direct penny of that family’s efforts and gifts will go to help those hurt by the tornadoes whch ripped through the South last night it is also true that they are part of a philanthropic community around the world in which helping is informally circulated almost everywhere. Two babies (at least) ago the United Kingdom and the British Commonwealth celebrated on the 29th of April 2011 The wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton. This expensive and extravagant occasion was also a Christian ritual and gathering and an expression of faith. The scene was truly extraordinary and the elegant venue and the well prepared  liturgy and preaching were all rather impressive even for those who are not so easily impressed.  The sermon of the Anglican Bishop of London is one which I have found to be a worthy sermon to address our times:

“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” So said St Catherine of Siena whose festival day it is today. Marriage is intended to be a way in which man and woman help each other to become what God meant each one to be, their deepest and truest selves.

Many are full of fear for the future of the prospects of our world but the message of the celebrations in this country and far beyond its shores is the right one – this is a joyful day!

It is good that people in every continent are able to share in these celebrations because this is, as every wedding day should be, a day of hope.

In a sense every wedding is a royal wedding with the bride and the groom as king and queen of creation, making a new life together so that life can flow through them into the future.

uture.

 

The future does flow through families and gathering and weddings and the like. Churches and other communities have an obligation, it seems to me to prepare young people to be conduits of the grace of God and the hope of the future into new generations. They need to be prepared for the task. All married couples, all celibates and many other classes of not mutually exclusive kinds of people have to be educated in that complete humanity. For Faith Camp that is a Catholic Christian experience An I like that best but it also speaks to those not with us in that community. I am not a young optimist and my own view of life can be pretty bleak often enough. But while  I am sorry that when caught up in nearly apocalyptic events I often already have declared myself to have been involved in a number of calamities — sorry but not very repentant. these conferences and other things have not made me boldly cheerful in that sense. But each Faith Camp and its predecessor to my view  have in fact reminded me that how one engages with life may change over the years  but faith filled engagement  and courage remain necessary.  I know that I  was at one time more fully engaged in meeting the world and the changes going on around me with gusto and energy than I am now. I beilieve that some of those now enthused will persevere in doing good but will not have the same zest when they are my age as they do now.  The world is no stranger to my dire assessments and prognostications regarding my own life and future but the truth is I am still in the fight for the same causes and so are some of those who fought with me under that old distant BYC banner. So also is Susanna and her early team.

Faith Camp prayer - 8   But there is a time and a place for looking back on all that has happened in ones life and that place is this blog. The time is spread out over many posts and pages. The truth is that I was not always quite so late middle aged, directionless and chronically despondent as I am now.  There were times when I aspired to other and more things in daily life than a differing serving of a perpetual mix of the routine, the impossible and the trivial. I was working hard at BYC but perhaps nobody got more out of it than I. I rejoice in the legacy I see although nobody else may see it the same way exactly.

The outgrowth of my various involvements and labors over the years are not all that easy to track, however there has been an institution which has grown out of all that activity in one sense or another and which is also dear to my heart for various reasons…  My brother John Paul was the head coordinator longer than anyone else so far I believe. It is also interesting that this year’s head coordinator Alyse Spiehler has a brother who although he only went to the first camp and was abroad on his birthday during the second camp has celebrated his birthday at Faith Camp several years and probably will again. In fact all of my sibling except Simon and my deceased half brother have served ads head coordinators or coordinators although I never have. I did of course at BYC which I consider to be an ancestor of Faith Camp. The family tie is a real one with my family but there are many other family ties as well. This does not make the focus more narrow and our family does not embody any analogous local set of privileges to those that shaped the hosting of the large wedding in London mentioned before. But the family story is part of the Faith Camp story.

 

That is, with everything else already mentioned and many other things not mentioned here  — the ongoing work of Faith Camp. That is the distant legacy of the BYC. And in some way it is the universal call of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We are called to be the Body of Christ as Church and to celebrate the mystery of the fullness of life Christ came to offer and assure. All of that is part of the Faith Camp Story.

faith camp week 2, 2016 - 4 faith camp week 2, 2016 - 2 faith camp week 2, 2016 - 1

The People Who Make Up a Life

Today Seth Fontenot was sentenced in the shooting of Austin Rivault and the shooting assaults on his two companions. He received a sentence of three years and may be out in thirteen months. I am very sad about this sentence as I feel that it cheapens the life of Austin and the lives of other people.

I knew Austin, I took the pictures of him which appear in this blog post. The action by Judge Rubin is another demonstration of how far from any sense of justice this country is as far as I see justice.

Austin Rivault with friends

Austin Rivault with friends

This week is a Faith Camp and I have not yet been out there but I have been thinking about them and praying for them.  I have done less and less over the years but I do care about the outcome of the event and the opportunity it provides for those involved.  Austin had attended Faith Camp. But his long term contribution to the community was cut short.

I posted about the sentence on Facebook today and had not gotten back on the site since that time when I started typing this post. Several of my friends have lost their accounts (most have gotten them back) but it made me realize that I need to get  a few things that are new copied elsewhere just in case. One of them is the contact information for a Mark John I will soon introduce in this post. I am not sure why it is that I have lost contact with each person that I wish I had kept contact with but I am sensitive about this matter.

I had not seen Austin in years when he died (about two years) but I sometimes thought of him. So Austin is one person who makes up the fabric of my life. That continues even as we deal with the aftermath of his death.

I mentioned a name just above that is the happier side of the week for me. I will return to that and I also have been corresponding with an old friend who is in Argentina and his absence is on my mind too. His initials are LPB and h e had one comment on this blog but I had not even noticed he was following my Facebook profile all these years. He invited me to visit him but I doubt I will. That perhaps makes the invitation easier. Although it is somewhat good that we can regularly correspond now I wonder if LPB and I could have helped each other make life and legacy better over time if we had been together more often. That brings me back to Mark John whom I mentioned before and who I have not seen since he was a baby. I just restored contact with him and that was a good thing. But the Facebook outage made me realize I need to get his email address and give him mine.

I also have had a happy reunion with my godchild and only godson Mark John Braña although we were only connected on Facebook and only for a few days and it is possible that that single contact is now threatened before we could exchange other contact information. But I do post his photograph with his family here. below the pictures of Austin.

Austin at a Faith Camp Reunion

Austin at a Faith Camp Reunion

I get the blues fairly often and fairly deeply. That’s been true most, if not all of my life. I have good reasons to be sad, moody or despondent. Usually I think that the state of mind I am describing is one which is a reasonable and relatively healthy response to the conditions in my life. I also worry and not everything I worry about  turns out to be a real problem — thank God for that. I would be sad if I lost contact with my godson although there is not much if anything that I can do for him. However it would make me sad  if that happened and right now I have a worried sadness that his might happen. The three males I discuss in this blog are not the only people I miss. I miss women whom I miss differently — not just the  love interests but even female friends and relatives.  I sent Mark John a picture of my own godmother whom I do not see all that often. I recently had a nice reunion with her as well. But there was melancholy in that as well. Such as the fact that her sons and I were once friendly.

My recent reunion with my godmother Cousin Mickey or Aunt Mickey depending on my mood.

My recent reunion with my godmother Cousin Mickey or Aunt Mickey depending on my mood.

There are different types of sadness and my own blues are often a sort of medley of sadness. I’m sure some of my readers can relate to that kind of sadness. I am sad that my relationships of various kinds are not all they could or should be. Austin died a long time ago and we were not very close but I am sad about his being ripped away from us all.

This is a blog post which will look at a few recent events in the my life and ask the simple if not easy questions about them.  Maybe it will attempt to answer some of those questions too. I was a good friend of Mark John’s family but initially I refused to be his godfather because I was afraid we might fall out of touch and we did do that.  I tried hard although not endlessly to overcome that separation and for a day or so at least I did. However, that too may be temporary.

My godson Mark John Braña with his wife and children in the Philippines

My godson Mark John Braña with his wife and children in the Philippines

I am reasonably tired today and there is not much chance that I will feel full of pep and energy. I simply feel the need to  do what can be done to deal with a variety of demands on my limited time and resources and I have little capacity to do more than I am currently doing. In fact I find that much of what I am trying to do or doing is not all that sustainable. But I stay fairly busy. While I am busy I still think of people who have mattered to me and still do matter.

I am not sure what other people that I miss or worth mentioning today. But I do know that I have  valued many people and that my future is not likely to be crowded with them. It does not matter to me so much why the people who make up my memories are not around. It matters more  to me to try and be true to the memories and contacts I had with them.

I hope that another day will bring a better and happier view of the future. But that is not this day, not so far anyway.

Dying Young in America: Contrasts in Black and White

I am going to discuss Thanksgiving in this blog post. I  wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving here and will do so again. But unfortunately this is not a post about the joys, pleasures and warmth of the season.   Sadly it panders the personal to the political. Because I feel obligated to engage the issues of my time and place.

A Christmas turkey opened like the one ready for Thanksgiving here and now.

A Christmas turkey opened like the one ready for Thanksgiving here and now.

There is a lot being said about race in America right now.  I am adding to it a few ideas that may give shape to larger and smaller discussions of race in this blog. To do this I am sacrificing a chance to blog on Thanksgiving topics solely. I am discussing the death of a relative outside an obituary context. But I feel that I want to give some general ideas of what I have always thought about race before dealing with recent events out of context or not responding as some visit racial posts I have put up in the past.

The Civil Rights movement has shaped much of my life experience. I am fifty years old.

The Civil Rights movement has shaped much of my life experience. I am fifty years old.

I am out not doing as much as I should to get ready for Thanksgiving probably. That includes the fact that this post is not as thanksgiving oriented as it ought to be in an ideal world. I did find some holiday spirit yesterday as I made an effort to be in the right spirit and also to rush through the Thanksgiving shopping I am doing to help my mother this year.  I enjoyed the three years when I brought a turkey twice and a ham once. It made me feel less bleak in the holidays. I also enjoyed the company and the leftovers. It is always a challenge to blend dishes as I recall back from the years when I won turkeys for Thanksgiving and hams for Christmas at the big house from the Meridional football prediction contests and or combined with vendor canvassing contests by the same newspaper. I think of those years and the three years I bought the family smoke turkeys to add to Thanksgiving.. I will plan to attend on my own wheels and schedule but let Mom’s goods represent the kitchen I used in those years. I will try to pick up a few drinks. I will probably only be there not so very long and am trying to control how much I eat this season and have no separate leftovers to store so mostly a seat is what I will require. I of course look forward to the visit I also remember cleaning up after the big meals and know that is a gift to all of those who attend which goes past the limited time I will be there and so I am appreciative of that as well. I do remember a couple of pretty sad Thanksgiving Days spent by myself. Likewise some  shared with friends, relatives and near strangers in odd groupings.

A dinner over a holiday other than the principal dinner at the home my grandparents owned on 1812 Palmer Avenue in New Orleans -- my uncle Will and I

A dinner over a holiday other than the principal dinner at the home my grandparents owned on 1812 Palmer Avenue in New Orleans — my uncle Will and I with Dad on the right edge

Thanksgiving Dinner is of course a big deal and a special occasion. It is great of my sister to host this event this year. The details change from year to year but I am glad to see the family keeping things going and her role is appreciated. This season I intend to do less of everything than usual and see how things work day to day but I hope to enjoy what I am able to do. But the holidays are special and sacred. This year mine are crowded with distractions.

I spent Sunday and Monday marking the passing of Jerrel “Bubba” Hancock who died Thursday, November 20, 2014. . This was a very traumatic time and the loss of such a young life was stinging. I was off Facebook for a while and lost a few FB friends  from my list with whom I mostly communicated by Facebook and the lest of those who left included the widow of my Uncle Will and her children. I just discovered when my mother asked me to identify a picture of the person who had been killed in an oilfield explosion  that Jarel “Bubba” Hancock was killed offshore. Kayler and Jennifer’s father was Will’s friend and after he died Will and Brenda eventually  got married and reared them together. Kayler’s husband came to some of our family gatherings as a couple and then a family. When I got the new  I was more stunned than I probably had a right to be… Bubba was only 24 and aside from his widow Kayler Roy Hancock leaves two children Lane Ross Hancock and Lexi Linn Hancock. He was a really great presence to be around. My condolences were first extended to Brenda Summers, Bubba’s sister Shalacy Griffin by name and  to all of his family and friends who may be on my Facebook account.  Here I would extend my condolences to the whole family including his father, Clarence Hancock;  his mother, Sue Clark; grandfather, Jerrel Dean Hancock; three sisters, Shalacy Griffin and her husband Heath, Courtney Duhon and her husband Keith, and Brittney Lopez and her husband Joshua; nieces, Emile Duhon, Emma Pommier, Journey Lopez; nephews, Cade Touchet, Jett Lopez, Ryker Griffin; nephew/godchild, Jax Lopez; aunt, Joyce Clark Cuevas; mother-in-law, Brenda Summers; and sister-in-law, Jennifer Pommier and her husband Jeremy.  There is so much tragedy in the story. I did contact Brenda on Facebook and called and then went to meet the mourners at  Vincent’s funeral home in Abbeville which handled the arrangements. In a life taken offshore or in an oil and gas related accident or incident people here recognize that this is a dangerous industry which also supports our local economy. Much as with whalers in history’s whaling communities, seamen in ports and miners in mining communities we note the deaths of those who fall in this line of duty as having a communal element just a little removed from a military or first responder funeral. May Bubba rest in peace.  He was gathered to his kinfolk who include his grandmother, Wilda M. Clark; great grandmother, Ella Pontiff Suire; grandfather, John Clark; uncle, John Clark, Jr.; and father-in-law, William C. Summers, My uncle. The funeral services were held Monday, November 24, 2014 at a 10:00 a.m. with a Mass of Christian Burial at St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church   and   Reverend Bill Melancon officiated the services and there were  many mourners and some well sung hymns. I do not pretend to know what everyone was thinking or felt although I did here some people talking.

View of Bubba's funeral from near the church entrance looking at the altar.

View of Bubba’s funeral from near the church entrance looking at the altar.

He was laid to rest at St. Paul Cemetery after the Mass but I did not attend the actual burial.  No doubt there will be questions about any negligence that may have cost Bubba his life but this was not a time when such questions were foremost.  People gathered to honor his life, console his bereaved and  note his passing.

Funeral cortege arrives at church which will carry the remains out to burial a bit more than an hour later.

Funeral cortege arrives at church which will carry the remains out to burial a bit more than an hour later.

However, Monday night the news came out that a grand jury did not indict Darren Wilson the officer who shot Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. This incident of the issuing of a no true bill caused or occasioned a violent response across the city and disruptive protests across the nation.  This is Thanksgiving week and I normally post about holidays near the holidays as you can see here, here and here. In addition, I also  devote myself to supporting the Holidays in a variety of ways.  But this year is different.  I am in the midst of some holiday preparations but they are a scaled down version of some years. I am I supposed somewhat distracted from the season by many concerns of many kinds. Happy Thanksgiving to all Americans regardless of race, ethnicity or circumstance.  I have had a bit of a bump in views and visits on this blog and I am pretty sure that such an increase had more to do with the events surrounding the Ferguson riots and the shooting of Michael Brown by Darren Wilson than it has had to do with the Holiday. Perhaps some people are looking for answers outside the political mainstream more than usual. The Holiday deserves a great deal of a post but this is not such a post. This is not even a heartwarming family post if one takes out the fact that it occurs when one might post about Thanksgiving. This is a post about America, family and community but not nearly enough about the kinds of shared feeling between colonists and aboriginal Americans which has a place on our calendar for shared and celebrated memories. The stuff about the country in this note is not about that Plymouth Thanksgiving but perhaps is related to another root of the Thanksgiving Day holiday. I have blogged about Acadian, Texan and other roots of Thanksgiving besides the Plymouth Holiday. I have also mentioned the Lincoln roots. Those seem most suitable today. So I am thinking about another of the many fathers of the Thanksgiving Holiday. To some degree it was proclaimed by Abraham Lincoln after the extremely bloody Battle of Gettysburg. Even if one believes that Gettysburg was a great and important moment of good (my own feelings are ambiguous but I am more of a Confederate sympathizer than a Lincoln fan — that much is sure) this was the darkest pattern to help make the Thanksgiving tradition. Even if you just count Yankee dead it was a bloodbath which would not have rated such a holiday under any other President we have had up to now. I don’t see the current somewhat Illinois man proclaiming such a holiday in such circumstances either. This holiday too will come after quite a bit of tumult although nothing compared to the scale of Gettysburg.

Gettysburg settled upon our country many parts of a new consensus . . .

Gettysburg settled upon our country many parts of a new consensus . . .

In this blog I have certainly addressed racial issues.  For many years I  sought to avoid addressing this so publicly and clinically as I now do quite regularly. There are many reasons for that one is that race is used to confuse issues as often as to clarify them.  There is a black man around here who is suing to see why the police shot his son and that man and his substantial body of supporters have behaved nothing like the mobs of radicals or would-be radicals and others around Ferguson and the shooting of Michael Brown. However, I do believe that we are in a racial crisis in America. I believe any number of very bad outcomes are more likely than those outcomes I would consider to good. The Ferguson riots are not isolated from a bigger picture in my view. Other instances of racial problems I have discussed can be found here, here and here. We must acknowledge those things that cause us anxiety and I am anxious about the state of racial politics in this society, the recent events associated with Michael Brown and Darren Wilson  only illustrate more alarming tensions and trends.  While it is mostly in writing I confront that anxiety here by stating what I believe to be the truth. Nonetheless, there is some long history of my life which has also been devoted to dealing with racial questions. This is a relatively risky and thankless thing to do in living acts or in writing in this blog or elsewhere but I undertake to do it because it is necessary for the other objectives of the blog. I am not defining and discussing race here in the context of every possible perspective, system of priorities or historical antecedent. I am primarily writing about race as it relates to the constitutional history of this country and the  transformation of America advocate which has occurred in my lifetime and the different transformation advocated  in this blog. That does not mean that I do not believe that the things I argue, advocate and suggest here are objectively true and valid.  It only means  that these positions and ideas would not be equally relevant to  all other circumstances and positions. I have decided to address issues of race race in my life and writing and have done so for a while.When I say that this is risky I mean that it is conceivable thatI will suffer some terrible outcome for publishing this. Such a thing is not at all impossible. But I feel the need to state my position as clearly as I can. I think that it is a serious matter. Besides Bubba’s tragic death I also think of the terrible incident involving Austin Rivault and his companions shot by Seth Fontenot. You can read more about this incident here. While this is a terrible situation nothing like the Ferguson, Missouri response is contemplated on any side of the issue.

Austin at a faith Camp reunion a few years before he was shot.

Austin at a faith Camp reunion a few years before he was shot.

Let me say that these ideas do not come out of the blue. They come out of  a tradition informed by American experience, Acadian experience, Louisiana experience, French experience, Greek and Hellenic experience and many other traditions that join to form the experience and tradition which I represent.  They are informed by a life time of travels and studies and dialogs with people of varied cultures and races around the world.  These ideas are also informed by reading and examination of any of a number of scientific surveys, treatises and postulated models for human development and behavior.  They are based on the long devotion to the study of Scripture and Church doctrine but not in the sense that I am postulating them as the authoritative Christian position. In fact, they are heavily controverted within all parts of the Christian Community. The people rioting in and with Ferguson also have a context. They see the Occupy Movement, the Arab Spring and popular culture from rap songs to movies like the Hunger Games and Insurgent in their minds. I share their awareness of tumult and  their sense of the need for change. Here then are  Twelve Principles of Racial Politics that should be understood to apply to all of my thoughts and assertions within this blog and within all of the political  models and programs I outline for application in the larger world: First Summers Racial Politics Principle:

  1. Race does exist but it is one of the more relatively fluid, complex and continuously self-transforming  categories and groupings that define humanity, the human community and the distinctions between people.
race is one part of understanding human diversity it is not the only part.

race is one part of understanding human diversity it is not the only part.

Second Summers Racial Politics Principle:

  1. As an existing quality or property of a person racial well-being was intended to be protected by the founding fathers as part of that intangible form of property that the Declaration describes as “the Pursuit of Happiness” which should not be understood solely in individual terms. The founders also intended their documents to apply in a different way to “their posterity” than to all of humanity without distinction. No understanding of America which does not embrace these realities is adequate fo charting the course of America.
We have a responsibility to understand the words we use to shape our live and society. This is a picture of the Declarators committee.

We have a responsibility to understand the words we use to shape our live and society. This is a picture of the Declarators committee.

Third Summers Racial Politics Principle:

  1. In the republican Union and in what I believe to be our proper destiny as a Federal American Empire of the United States all persons should start off on a path to hold the basic rights to vote, enter into contracts, hold property, bear arms and marry regardless of their race.
Liberty must evolve but not be abandoned.

Liberty must evolve but not be abandoned.

  1. Many of the ideas of human dignity coming from a spiritual perspective can be asserted and explained even to a materialist atheist. I believe materialist atheism is not such a great thing but we need to govern race in America and many things almost at this level because of the diverse ways in which our spiritual perspectives express more beautifully a basic truth in ways which are not as compatible as they become less basic. But all share in the holy heritage of humanity’s special place in God’s order in my theology.
My friends, brothers in Christ and fellow music makers in New Zealand.

My friends, brothers in Christ and fellow music makers in New Zealand.

Fifth Summers Racial Political Principle:

  1. The State, constitutional authority and Union may assert classifications of race when a strong interest compels them to do so and then they must limit such findings to individuals upon whom they are passing judgments. The basic body qualified to declare race is the family and they should do so. The fact that family has almost no legal existence or stature in America is an evil that should be remedied and does not vitiate this principle.
The Current Queen of England and Scotland's United Kingdom with Eisenhower

I don’t think any two constitutional changes are the same. The British Monarchy is not our target here.

Sixth Summers Racial Political Principle:

  1. Families should belong to weak and loose but not powerless and non-existent associations of ethnicity which have their own racial policies published and define race within their own context. Acadians, True Yankees, New York Jews, Louisiana Italian-Americans are examples that   come to mind. These should have some legal standing. This is also a legal principle that should apply elsewhere and usually does so that the ethnic quality is seen as part of  legal right.

Seventh Summers Racial Politics Principle:

  1. Whatever the races that make up the human race may be they all have some cluster  of advantages and disadvantages that generally obtain. None is inferior in every way nor superior in every way to the others. However, they can be discussed in terms of inferiority and superiority which are meaningful.

Eighth Summers Racial Politics Principle:

  1. It is fairly clear that there are two largely fair-skinned races which have shown more capacity for many thing which are  vital to survival of large populations in complex and varied circumstances  and to the progress of civilizations. One of these is the complex and somewhat hodgepodge collection of  white  and near white peoples developing in a complex history over Europe, the Mediterranean basin, and along tendrils into Westernmost and Central Asia. The other is the race more homogenous in every way but also a complex web of mostly near white and some pure white races centered in North Asia  and the great Chinese plains. Many other races are an admixture of these races and other races their racial position must be recognized as intermediate. Black Africans developed some highly successful groups but in general were low in population, free-exploration and  civilized arts. Slavery and their expansion into mixed race groups was a means of progress and stability that existed far outside the Triangular Atlantic trade.

Ninth Summers Racial Political Principle:

  1. It is the nature of  a true civilization to create a common and public thing in which the best are able to achieve greater rewards and to be recognized as superior but are also tied to the needs not only of a theoretical whole but to benefits for all sections of society. America should be a white supremacist society in which many principles as important and more important than racial distinction are upheld to assure opportunity and decent humane autonomy to all persons and groups which participate supportively in our civilization. Among the nonracial principles to be upheld are: Federalism, Subsidiarity, Conservation, Progress, General Welfare, Common Defense, Decent Respect for the Opinions of Mankind, Due Process of Law, Family autonomy and I am proposing Royalism. I will not  define these principles here.

Tenth Summers Racial Political Principle:

  1. We must honor America’s specific racial reality. In our case we ought to exhibit due respect for senior ethnic groups within races and do a good job of ordering such things. We also must  give official recognition to the Western over the Oriental in this land as a matter of history .   We must give special protection and recognition to the American Aboriginal peoples as having both rights that flow from who they are but also from seniority. Nonetheless “Western White” settlers are our predominant leadership race. We must recognize also the uniquely complex and multiply referenced status of Creoles of Color in three principal communities: Louisiana, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands we must allow them to help define published ways of integrating those mixed race African-Americans they wish to receive who wish to enter  those communities.

Eleventh Summers Racial Politics Principle:

  1. We must find ways for things to be made equal where that is appropriate, separate and near equal and stratified where appropriate. We must develop a racial consciousness and laws which are predictable, fair and reflect reality. Once this is established then some of the members of society have to be willing to kill and die for it or it will not endure.

While I did post this just before Thanksgiving Day and I have been preoccupied with politics, policy, chores and other matters — I did celebrate Thanksgiving Day properly with family and the grand dinner required.  I add that part of the post last and can say that I enjoyed it thoroughly if in some degree of moderation.

Thanksgiving Dinner 2014 -- a single backlit shot to serve for a whole set of images and memories...

Thanksgiving Dinner 2014 — a single backlit shot to serve for a whole set of images and memories…