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Why "Black Lives matter" matters to me.

Black Lives Matter began in July 2013 as a hashtag #blacklivesmatter in response to the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in 2011.  It gained national attention in 2014 with the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Eric Garner in New York City.  While there is a national organization of sorts, BLM is best described as a “decentralized network of activists with no formal hierarchy.” (Wikipedia) For me and many others, however, the phrase is a simple expression of a powerful truth:  All human lives matter.
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George Edward Pickett: Is Fort Pickett a good idea?

Fort Pickett was established in 1942 as Camp Pickett.  It has been in more or less continuous use since then.  It was initially home to the 79th Infantry Division but has served many purposes and army units since then.  It is currently used by Virginia National Guard and Air Guard units.  It was named for George Edward Pickett.  The fort’s website tells us that “the name was chosen to honor Richmond, Virginia native Major General George E. Pickett, whose ill-fated charge at the Battle of Gettysburg in Pennsylvania during the US Civil War, holds a unique place in the history of warfare.”  
 Almost 80 years later does it make sense to name a military facility after a general who led troops against the United States and its soldiers? I am distantly related to General Pickett and I want to tell you something about his background and my thinking on the issue.  I will conclude that I think it was a bad idea in 1942 and an even worse one today.
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Take a pledge to reduce racial polarization

I am asking each of you to take a pledge to reduce racial polarization.  I believe that this or something very similar is the only way to begin to address the issues that have become so apparent to the white majority in the past three months.  I want to share my thoughts about why this is the time for action.  The text of the pledge is at the end of this blog post.
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Latest Instagram Photos

Saturday, November 19th, 2022 at 9:02pm
Thursday, November 17th, 2022 at 3:15pm
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Thursday, November 10th, 2022 at 3:59pm
Thursday, November 10th, 2022 at 3:53pm
Wednesday, November 9th, 2022 at 2:21pm

On Pilgrimage with Bill

This is a blog for my thoughts about religion.  Sometimes I share my reflections on the Old and New Testaments through the daily lectionary readings.  Other times I share reflections on theological issues and the role of religion in our lives.  Currently, I am trying to come to an honest understanding of my own religious convictions. Click here to view the complete blog and use the email link to sign up for notices of new postings.  The following is the most recent posting.

Is ten percent of my heart enough? Not even close.

When Jesus looked up he saw some wealthy people
putting their offerings into the treasury
and he noticed a poor widow putting in two small coins.
He said, “I tell you truly, this poor widow put in more than all the rest;
for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth,
but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood.” Luke 21:1-4

This is a familiar gospel story, one I remember from my years in a Catholic grade school under the care and supervision of the Sisters of Mercy from Omaha. Until recently, its meaning for me had not changed much. It speaks to generosity in giving. Even though the rich people may have given more than the widow in absolute terms, her gift of two small coins represents a great percentage of her limited, if any, wealth and thus she was the more generous. So if I donate to charity a recommended ten percent of my income, should I be satisfied that I am being all that generous when others with substantially less resources give a smaller amount but one which may far exceed that ten percent benchmark? Who is the more generous? The answer is obvious.

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The First of my Three Misconceptions about Christianity: It's all about you and me, God.

I have been a faithful Roman Catholic since birth.  During those 80 years, a lot has changed in the world, in Christianity, in Roman Catholicism, and in me.  In fact, so much has changed that it is difficult to remember exactly what I was like at different points in my life let alone remember what the Church or the world was like.  But recently I have come to realize that for much of that time, I labored under at least three misconceptions about Christianity.  And these are not minor or trivial issues but ran right to the heart of what it means to be a Christian.  This post will focus on the first of these three.  Read more.

Podcasts

I began recording my blog posts and made them available on several platforms including Spotify and Apple Podcasts.  Just go to wherever you get yours and search for “The World According to Bill Pickett” and subscribe.  You can click here to see nine platforms currently carrying my podcasts.  Click below to listen to the most recent podcasts.

Our Trip Blog

With eight children and twenty grandchildren living in six states and two countries, we tend to travel a lot.  In addition we enjoy winter vacations in sunny and warm places, cruises to the same and trips to other interesting places.  Since 2010, I have been documenting these trips in both words and photos.  You can find links to all those blogs on the blog page.  Below you will find summaries and links to our most recent trips..

Final Days: Cologne, Kinderdijk, and Amsterdam

Our final three days began in Cologne, a large city (1.1 million people) on both sides of the Rhine.  In 39 BCE a a Germanic tribe, Ubii, entered into an agreement with the Romans to establish a military camp in this location.  In 50 AD the Agrippina the Younger, wife of the Emperor Claudius and native of this area, asked for her home village to be raised to the status of a colonia — a city under Roman law. It was then renamed Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensis (colony of Claudius and the altar of Agrippina), shortened to Colonia Agrippina (Colony of Agrippina).  It was the Colony part of that long name that stuck and hence Cologne.  The central city was effectively destroyed during World War II.  It has been rebuilt to create the look and feel of what was there before the war including several Roman ruins scattered around the city.

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Days Four and Five: Speyer, Rudesheim, Middle Rhine, and Koblenz

As we cruised overnight from Strasbourg, the Rhine stopped being a boundary between France and Germany. As we docked at Speyer, the Rhine was the boundary between two German states: Rhineland-Palatinate and Baden-Wurtemberg. Being on the left or east bank, Speyer is a city in the first. Between the cathedral and the Bishop’s Palace on the right, the Romans established a camp in 10 BCE. Its name, Noviomagus, was a Latinization of a common Celtic placename, New Market.  Speyer and its cathedral are important for several reasons. First is a UNESCO World Heritage Site And is one of the finest examples of Romanesque architecture.

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