Friday, December 31, 2004

New International Thomas Merton Society Chapter in Rome, Italy

Previously Sherri sent the photograph of a special place in Rome identified with Thomas Merton.

Sherri Russo has a report of a new Thomas Merton ITMS Society meeting in Rome, Italy. Enclosed are details:

Good news is that on Dec. 11, 2004, we opened the first Italian section
of the ITMS.
We met at the Trappist monastery in Rome, Italy (the Tre Fontane) where we watched the video "Trappist monks remember Merton", walked to the nearby sanctuary "S. Maria of the 3rd Millennium" where he has an inscription dedicated to the virgin, and gathered for lunch afterwards.

Notice these events in Thomas Merton's Life:

--Early Spring, 1933 Following his 18th birthday, on a trip to Rome, Italy, Thomas Merton walks in silence under the eucalyptus trees on the grounds of Tre Fontaine and an idea takes form (for the first time), "I would like to become a Trappist monk."

--March 19, 1947 Merton takes solemn vows at Gethsemani

--April 12, 1947 Apparition of the virgin at this sanctuary, saying "I will work miracles with this dirt for the conversion of sinners"

--October, 1948 Publication of "Seven Storey Mountain", a book about Merton's conversion which surely aided in the conversion of others.

Dec. 11th was a beautiful day for everyone, united in love, united with Merton.

Let's hope for a future with Merton, in the catechism and in the world.


Sherri McFerran Russo

BEST BLOG ARTICLE OF THE YEAR 2004- Tortured Thoughts About Prayer by Jen Lemen

This blog, Tortured Thoughts on Prayer, was the greatest blog I read all year !!!!!!!! It is a keeper for us all. Thanks Jen !

Second place goes to Jenell Paris for All the Answers!

International THOMAS MERTON Society Meets in Rome Italy.

ITMS Italy

Sherri sent me this picture from Italy. I do not know the complete details of it. It mentions Merton in Italian. Can anyone translate this to English for me? She also has a Merton book in her hand. Wish I knew more about this. Anyone help?

P.S. I have heard from Sheri Russo. This was a founding picture related to the initial meeting of the Thomas Merton Society on Dec. 11, 2004, in Rome, Italy. More details will follow.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

AM with MERTON (In Solitude)

"Life in the world was utterly abnormal. Life in the monastery is not ordinary. It is a freakish sort of life. The freakishness is not St.Benedict's fault, but maybe it is necessary. In solitude, at last, I shall be just a person, no longer corrupted by being known, no longer creating myself in the image of a slightly unbalanced society. Living in the likeness of God who is my life: that is to say, living asunknown. For a Christian is one whom the world does not know.

'Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us that we should be called the Children of God, and such we are. This is why the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.' I John 3:1."

( A SEARCH FOR SOLITUDE THE JOURNALS OF THOMAS MERTON Volume Three 1952-1960, page 27...Thomas Merton wrote this in his journal on December 29, 1952 )

What part does solitude contribute to my life?

Via Wayne Burns-- thanks Wayne

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Top 5 Blogs for Year from Dan Phillips-MONASTIC SKETE

TOP 5 BLOGS – Dan Phillips

1. A Daddy’s Memory-For Melinda (I wrote this to her the day before she got married)-October 14, 2004

2. Baptist Monk Manifesto- September 30, 2004

3. Jerry Falwell Bobblehead Doll – October 28, 2004

4. ONLINE RETREAT- November 16, 2004 – A Day of Recollection

5. Prayer of Invocation on a Riverboat-(for hospital staff) September 22, 2004


Sunday, December 26, 2004

The Day After Christmas

For the first time in several weeks I am sitting in my favorite chair for a devotional time. What a rarity, or maybe what a shame for one who calls himself a contemplative, or maybe what a treat/blessing!

Janet has been gone a month, lacking one day. The arduous return journey was followed by a full day of relatives and nice gifts and watching the new dvd movie we had all been waiting for, Napoleon Dynamite. We all laughed through it again. All in all we are thankful we are alive.

The Guardian

"One duty of a door-keeper is to stand guard against all that is harmful; another is to welcome whoever may come as a guest."(From the Celtic Prayer Book)

I have also been reading from Ecclesiastes, chapter 12, which describes pretty much the effects of age, or the feelings of those of us who have grown older.

My paraphrase is something like this, "it is a day when the guardians of the house tremble, the strong men stoop, and the few women left see dimly through the windows. The daughters of song grow faint, the grasshopper loses its spring, and they are afraid of heights and dangers on the road." Nothing beats good poetry for describing real life.

The gas logs heat the room. How I enjoy a fireplace, one of my favorite things. My faithful dog, Prissy, sits at my side. The sun shines outside.

I am energized by the discussions related to the emerging church, partularly Chris Marshall and others, but realize that age has its toll gate. Health becomes a major concern for those hampered by this aging disease. Life is more uncertain. And even the church and its meaning seem to dissolve when one stands for 30 minutes singing praise music (this actually happened to me 2 weeks ago when I timed how long we stood). You have to be young to
physically stand for that long!

Yes, living the Christian life from the sidelines may be more important than we realize. Remember it was the shepherds doing nothing but gazing at the stars who heard the heavenly choir.

Where am I hearing God's voice?

THOMAS MERTON (Christmas crisis)

"As usual, Christmas was a kind of spiritual crisis for me."

( DANCING IN THE WATER OF LIFE THE JOURNALS OF THOMAS MERTON Volume Five 1963-1966, page 49...Thomas Merton wrote this in his diary on December 25, 1963 )

What did you write in your diary for Christmas yesterday?

Thanks Wayne Burns

Friday, December 24, 2004

Long Journey

Long Journey

We left Detroit at 4:45 am this morning. We have been at a standstill several times. At least 3 hours in Cincinnati and now over an hour in Louisville. A nine hour drive looks like it will turn into a 14 hour drive. Everything will be closed when we get home. We have no food in the house.

I told Janet we will have to eat supper and christmas breakfast at waffle house, the only thing open.

Janet had a first cousin who died yesterday, the second first cousin of hers in two weeks to die. Janet's 88 yr old father had a bad fall night before last. And her brother eric had a bad car wreck yesterday and ended up in the hospital.

It is going to be a meager christmas. It doesn't look like we will be able to get with family this christmas, something we have always enjoyed doing.And we are going to miss going to a Christmas service tonight because it will be so late when we get home.

Enclosed is a picture of a barren tree I saw at a rest stop in kentucky today. It pretty much describes how I feel this christmas eve.

Thursday, December 23, 2004



Snowbound in Michigan.

Janet gets out of the hospital at 2 pm this afternoon. We are hopefully of getting home tomorrow night. It looks like this wil be a memorable Christmas.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

The Cell

"The cell is the most holy place on earth."anonymous

I bring my bible to the hospital room and read slowly. May God be gracious to us and bless us. Perhaps a meager beginning. At least it is a start.

Several days ago Janet said, "this being in the hospital is like living in a nursing home like your Mom did." It got me to thinking. Is this what our life eventually comes down to, an 8 by 10 room shared with another? Is this the way it will end?

The Cell

The cell if it is to be a holy place is known by its meagerness, its lack of tangible things. There is little room for anything but necessities. For me: a bible, a USA Today, the Lawrence Durrell Travel Reader and my Sidekick to write and blog on. If this were permanent? I would hopefully have a pretty good radio? like a Sony 2010 shortwave to listen to amateur radio stations on.

A cell is serious business, perhaps a place to pray, to remember friends and trials and a place to listen for "the still small voice."

There is little diversion here, a walk down the hall if one feels like it, a look out the window, an unappetizing tray of food that sits near during the day, and perhaps a snack at night or a tv show. That is pretty much it, except for the
prayers or a few friends who eventually pass.

I am not being negative in this appraisal but realistic. Life does end with a whimper, a breath that weakens, an unduring silence, and hopefullyfor those of us who believe an eternal home with peace.


Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Merton quote and Christmas trees

From Wayne Burns---

"Today, cut a few Christmas trees for the house, and a big one for the
novitiate. It was not quite raining, but cloudy and cold. Walked home
alone by the lake near Bardstown road. The loblolly pines planted
during my 1955 crisis are growing well. The whole property is dotted
with trees I have planted in hours of anguish. The ones I planted in
hours of consolation hae not succeeded."

1952-1960, page 360...Thomas Merton wrote this in his journal on
December 1959 )

What lessons have I learned from trees, and do I have a favorite tree?


Chelsea Morning

Chelsea Morning

Chelsea. MI is a neat town. It looks as much like a Santa Claus village
as I have ever seen. The Chelsea Community
has one of the highest ratings for patient satisfaction for
any hospital in the country.

Chelsea is known for the Jiffy Mix cornmeal factor, the home of actor
Jeff Daniels, and the Teddy Bear Outlet factory. And it has been cold.
Today it is in the twenties and 6 inches of snow is forecast for

Janet has not been any better for her headaches. We are disappointed.
Thanks to all of you for your prayers.

Chelsea Morning

Chelsea Morning

Chelsea. MI is a neat town. It looks as much like a Santa Claus village
as I have ever seen. The Chelsea Community
has one of the highest ratings for patient satisfaction for
any hospital in the country.

Chelsea is known for the Jiffy Mix cornmeal factor, the home of actor
Jeff Daniels, and the Teddy Bear Outlet factory. And it has been cold.
Today it is in the twenties and 6 inches of snow is forecast for

Janet has not been any better for her headaches. We are disappointed.
Thanks to all of you for your prayers.

Chelsea Morning

Chelsea Morning

Chelsea. MI is a neat town. It looks as much like a Santa Claus village
as I have ever seen. The Chelsea Community
has one of the highest ratings for patient satisfaction for
any hospital in the country.

Chelsea is known for the Jiffy Mix cornmeal factor, the home of actor
Jeff Daniels, and the Teddy Bear Outlet factory. And it has been cold.
Today it is in the twenties and 6 inches of snow is forecast for

Janet has not been any better for her headaches. We are disappointed.
Thanks to all of you for your prayers.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Reflections from a hospital window

For some reason, these woods surrounding the hospital, and the hospital
itself, have a monastic quality. Even the bathrooms smell like

The hospital has many little rooms where one can get sidetracked into
meditation and silence. We sat in the ICU waiting room today and did
some Christmas cards. I even took a nap. Like the old monk said, "a good
retreat consists of eating a lot, praying a lot, and sleeping a lot.?
That sure fits here.

And we enjoyed the chapel service led by Rev. Kathy Schell, the chaplain
who has been here for 21 years. The chapel was nice. It was a good place
to pray. Candles were quitely flickering in the background, the songs
were sung with real meaning behind them, and the eucharist was shared
with His presence near.

The hallways seem endless and one can get lost, like the night at
Gethsemani when I locked myself out of the room and ran around lost in
the November cold in my shorts, barelegged and sockless, until I found
the sign that told me how to find Father Rene who could get me back in
my room.

And the cold, 6 degrees outside with the ground covered in snow, adds a
flame of spirituality to the moment.

I write this at 1:30 am. Sleepless because I drank coffee tonight for
the first time in years and it will probably keep me awake most of the
night. When will I ever learn?

Bro. Dan Sleepless in Canton, Michigan

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Helping Hand

Helping Hand

This statue is at the entrance to Chelsea Community Hospital where Janet
is a patient. I title it "the helping hand" statue. I think nothing
could signify the meaning of a hospital more.

It has been snowing off and on through the night. The temperature has
dropped. It is 6 degrees outside. Pretty cold. It will be zero tonight.
My car was not happy this this morning.

I will be at the hospital most of the day. I am looking forward to the
chapel service in the hospital this morning.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Solid Rock Church

Solid Rock Church

The Solid Rock Church is near Monroe, Michigan. The statue of Jesus is

Rest stop in ohio

Rest stop in ohio

I am half way to Michigan. Am at a rest stop.near Dayton, Ohio. Cold and
.windy !!!

Friday, December 17, 2004

Janet 3

They placed a cortizone shot in Janet's neck this afternoon. Everything
went well. I am planning on going to Michigan tomorrow to be with her. I
plan on staying for as long as she is there.

Pray for safe journeys.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Janet 2

They have discovered degenative arthritus. She will have a cortizone
shot at 3 pm est Friday. Please pray with me that all goes well. So far
nothing has helped.


I came across your blog while researching on the net for a documentary I am working on. I'm a photographer, and working on a project about hermits, people living an eremitic life and recluse by choice. I know it's a long shot... but was wondering if you would know of hermits in your area, or anywhere in the U.S., who may be willing to be included in my project. Which means answer a few very simple questions, and be photographed in their daily activities. I did put a notice in Raven's Bread (excellent newsletter for hermits), and got several positive answers. But still need more.

My project is about eremitic life as an answer, not as an escape, and maybe a possible source of inspiration. So far I found people living in the desert, in rural area, in the middle of big cities,... so the image of being an hermit in the 21st century is quite different of the received image of someone living in a desolated place. And many of them have contacts with the society.

Best regards.

(Editoral note:) His main website is at Novopix and he has some interesting photographs on the web. One, titled "Where Fit Transforms Fat," shows numerous fat ladies exercising and another on Vanishing railroads.

P.S. - Luc: Sorry I am no help on hermits.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Spiritual Books Catalog

From Tom Magness:

Hi Dan,

I ran across your various websites today while surfing the web. I enjoyed them highly and bookmarked them. We seem to share a lot of interests. I have a strong interest in Thomas Merton, monasteries, retreats. I enjoyed visiting Gethsemani back in the early 80s.

I have a strong interest (calling?) in spiritual books. So much so that I set up a mail order book service in 1993 and this year moved it to the web. It is called the Spiritual Books Catalog.
Thanks Tom for the note. I checked out your website and it looks great. Thanks.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004


Janet has been having it rough the last couple of days. Headaches have worsened, naseau, very low blood pressure. Remember her in your prayers. Thanks.

Father Carlos

Father Carlos

From Wayne Burns:

I hear from Fr. Carlos fairly often. He is doing okay. He misses the fellowship he had at Gethsemani. Not many in Japan to converse with him in English. He is still studying Japanese, but he is doing well but eating too much. Too many Nuns to look after him...It appears he is enjoying that attention.

By the way, Carlos told me that he had been assigned to "hard labor" for a while. Working in the "Cookie Factory" since some nuns were sick. Can you imagine Fr. Carlos in a Cookie Factory? Now that is something to think about.

(Reminds me of the scene from I love Lucy when she was in the cookie factory)

Father Carlos was a beloved monk at the Abbey of Gethsemani who made many of us feel at home. We have missed him since he moved to Japan. (editor)

Silence and Solitude--(continued)

One of my friends wrote, "solitude is only welcomed in places where we seek it, not in places where we expect to find companionship. "Home is a place for family and not a solitary retreat."

Yes, I have had difficulties with solitude at home, but at times it is

A busy morning: a physical at my doctor's, then a haircut. Trying to get it all done in one sweep. Temperature was 16 degrees this morning. Pretty cold!

Monday, December 13, 2004



Rich and Mary invited me to supper. Mary made great pork chops and they tasted just like Patti's. What a treat. Rudolph guarded the house. Note his shadow on the house.

Silence and Solitude

It is amazing how events are interpreted. "Since you wife is away you will have plenty of time for silence and solitude," say friends.

Well, I admit it sounds good to a monkish person like myself, but it doesn't work that way. When I walk in the house I turn on the TV so there will be noise, as if I share the place with someone. I really enjoy the dog's bark and the cat's meow.

I write this in a busy coffee shop where jingle bells plays above my head. I have my journal nearby and am struggling for words related to honesty, but I am glad to see others eating or passing. At least that shows others are alive and moving. I drink my coffee slowly to drag out the minutes. I think of phone calls I need to make, Christmas cards I need to send, stamps I must buy, and gifts I have forgotten.

This is my real solitude. This is the real aloneness I cherish -- a coffee shop loneliness, dotted with extraneous people, warmed up coffee, and moments of silence hidden among the eggs and grits.

Where do you go for silence and solitude?

Sunday, December 12, 2004



The sun setting tonight was beautiful.

Le Peep

Le Peep

Went to church this morning at Crosspoint Community Church where my
daughter was in a drama. Enjoyed it.

Then Mike and I went to Le Peep for breakfast. It was great. I
had never heard of it. The following picture was on the wall. Who are
these people. The one on the left looks like Peter Sellers.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Domestic Engineering

With Janet in the hospital, I spend most of my time as a domestic
engineer. The dog and cat scream for bloody murder until I feed them,
the clothes have to be washed, food fixed, wash dishes, pay bills, water
plants, send out Christmas cards without help, buy groceries, and a
multitude of opportunities--like work. It leaves precious little time
for Bible study, solitude, and silence.

Plans for today, beside the activities above, include a Dicken's of a
Christmas in downtown Franklin, TN (I will post pictures later in the
day), a local Christmas concert at a local church, and a party I have
been invited to today.

And, oh yeah, what about the bills and the cleaning out of all the messy
papers I was going to sort? Selah

Friday, December 10, 2004

New Respitory Mask

New Respitory Mask

I was fit for a new respitory mask so I will not get TB when I counsel
patients in isolation. Mars here I come !!

Thomas Merton - December 10 - Day of Desecration


Sent: Thursday, December 09, 2004 05:32 PM
To: Subject: Thomas Merton and catechism

The International Thomas Merton Society is sponsoring an effort to reverse the decision by US bishops to remove a profile of Thomas Merton from the new American Catholic Catechism (see story below).

The ITMS has drafted a letter to Bishop Donald Wuerl, chair of the committee charged with writing the catechism, and USCCB president Bishop William Skylstad, explaining why the decision to omit Merton should be changed (see attachment). All who agree with the statement are invited to have their names included on the letter.

The letter will be sent with an initial group of names on December 10, 2004, the thirty-sixth anniversary of Merton's death. To be included in this mailing, please send your name to [] by 1:30 p.m. EST Friday. Please include with your name a short identification: either any Merton connection, or institutional affiliation, or city and state address. The ITMS will continue to collect names at the above email address, which will be sent periodically to the bishops as long as people continue to sign up. The letter is also available on the Merton Society/Merton Center web site at

If you wish to write your own letter, please forward a copy to ITMS President Erlinda Paguio at so that we can keep track of the number of people who have contacted the bishops. Thank you.

Please feel free to forward this message to any and all friends who you think would be interested in being included in this petition. Thank you.

Subject: + Merton removed from Catholic catechism

December 10, 2004

Bishop Donald W. Wuerl
Diocese of Pittsburgh
111 Boulevard of the Allies,
Pittsburgh, PA15222-1618

Dear Bishop Wuerl:

Congratulations on the completion of work on the new American Catholic Catechism that you and your editorial board submitted to the bishops for approval in November. We hope the book will serve as a powerful tool for evangelization in the years to come, particularly among young Catholics. We agree that presenting profiles of faithful Catholic leaders as models to introduce each of the book’s chapters will be an effective technique for attracting and instructing readers, and we were pleased to learn that efforts by ultra-conservative critics to persuade the bishops to omit Cesar Chavez and Cardinal Bernardin from the catechism were unsuccessful.

We are therefore particularly disappointed and deeply disturbed by news reports that the figure of Thomas Merton, who was to have appeared in the opening chapter of the catechism, was eliminated from the final draft. Merton has played a crucial role in the faith journeys of thousands upon thousands of Catholics (as well as other Christians and even non-Christians) both during his lifetime and since his death, and we believe his inclusion in the catechism can and should be a significant way to extend the powerful witness of his life and writings to a new audience.

Your statement in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that Merton was removed from the final version of the catechism because “the generation we were speaking to had no idea who he was,” and that “only secondarily did we take into consideration that we don’t know all the details of the searching at the end of his life” appears to us neither cogent nor persuasive. We would venture to guess that Merton is far better known to the target audience than (for example) Rose Hawthorne Lathrop (whom we are delighted to find included in the volume) and many if not most of the other figures profiled.

Many of us have taught classes on Merton on secondary, collegiate and graduate levels, or have included him in classes on topics from social ethics to spirituality to world religions, thus familiarizing the next generation with his work. Conferences of the International Thomas Merton Society in recent years have been marked by the enthusiastic participation of students and young adults, who now even have their own web site ( Graduate students in many disciplines continue to produce masters and doctoral theses on Merton in an impressive quantity and quality. The Merton Center at Bellarmine University in Louisville, the major repository of Merton’s papers, receives hundreds of visits and thousands of inquiries every year from scholars and readers throughout the country and the world. Merton is being studied and written about with growing interest and insight in former Iron Curtain countries such as Poland, and his work is being translated and published in Russia. Books about and even by Merton continue to appear at an amazing rate, including his selected letters (1985-1994) and complete journals (1995-1998) issued by major secular publishing houses (Farrar, Straus, Giroux and HarperCollins, respectively). When the Trees Say Nothing, a recent collection of Merton’s writings on nature, has appeared on the Catholic Best Sellers list. The Thomas Merton Encyclopedia received the award as the best reference work from the Catholic Press Association two years ago. The Inner Experience, his book on contemplation finally published in 2003, was a Book of the Month Club alternate selection. A volume on Merton published this year was among the first six (and the only one focused on a male American) in the “Spiritual Leaders and Thinkers Series” issued by Chelsea House and aimed at a junior high audience. The Thomas Merton Curriculum produced by the Merton Foundation is in use in more than 200 secondary schools and 250 parishes throughout the nation. People of all ages continue to flock to lectures, conferences and retreats focused on Merton. We believe that Merton remains a figure of great fascination and attraction, and will continue to serve as an outstanding model of faith, wisdom and compassion for many years to come. But even if this is not the case, it would seem to be an argument for inclusion, not exclusion: his presence in the catechism would be a wonderful opportunity to bring him back to the attention of the Catholic and wider American public.

As for the “secondary” consideration “that we don’t know all the details of the searching at the end of his life,” we are aware of no reputable Merton scholars or even of careful readers of Merton who think that his interest in Eastern religions toward the end of his life, which led to his Asian journey and his untimely death, in any way compromised his commitment to the Catholic Christianity that he had embraced thirty years before. On the contrary, a reading of the major biographies by James Forest, Michael Mott and William Shannon, of The Other Side of the Mountain, the final volume of his journals, of his retreat conferences in Thomas Merton in Alaska, given immediately before leaving for Asia, and of his final talk on the day of his death, published in The Asian Journal, confirm that it was because of the deep grounding in his own Catholic, Cistercian, contemplative tradition that he was able to enter into meaningful dialogue with representatives of other religious traditions like the Dalai Lama, who has repeatedly said that it was his encounter with Merton that first allowed him to recognize the beauty and authentic spiritual depths of Christianity. As Merton himself said in a classic passage in his Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander (published two years before his death): “I will be a better Catholic, not if I can refute every shade of Protestantism, but if I can affirm the truth in it and still go further. So, too, with the Muslims, the Hindus, the Buddhists, etc. This does not mean syncretism, indifferentism, the vapid and careless friendliness that accepts everything by thinking of nothing. There is much that one cannot ‘affirm’ and ‘accept,’ but first one must say ‘yes’ where one really can. If I affirm myself as a Catholic merely by denying all that is Muslim, Jewish, Protestant, Hindu, Buddhist, etc., in the end I will find that there is not much left for me to affirm as a Catholic: and certainly no breath of the Spirit with which to affirm it.” Merton’s combination of inter-religious awareness and openness with fidelity to his own tradition is an invaluable model for the dialogue among religious traditions that will necessarily mark our new century, a model that Catholics, young and old, need to know. We find it ironic that in the very month which saw the publication of Peace in the Post-Christian Era, his work on the nuclear threat that he was forbidden to publish in 1962, his voice is once again being “silenced” by leaders of a Church that is in vital need of his continued witness.

According to news reports, the catechism still has to be approved by officials in Rome and thus publication is not expected until 2006. Therefore there is time to reconsider the decision to remove the Thomas Merton story from the catechism. We respectfully request that the committee reverse its decision and restore the material on Merton to its original place in the volume. We believe that doing so will make the catechism a better book and will assist its readers in becoming wiser, more mature, more committed Catholic Christians.


cc. Bishop William S. Skylstad, President, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Archbishop Alfred C. Hughes, chair, USCCB Office for the Catechism



David Brudnoy-Legendary WBZ personality dies

David was a voice of reason in a world dominated by boisterous, non-caring, radio personalities. For full details.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Real Live Preacher and the TallskinnyKiwi


(This is from an old friend so be sure to read carefully)

For months now I have been reading Real Live Preacher. It has been an interesting experience. From my reading, I decided it was written by a famous preacher in Texas writing this because the number of hits he was getting was tremendous.

The ground even felt uneven as I read of his exploits, his musings with the hope that his congregation was not reading his blog, the exploits of raccoons when I myself was struggling with a mouse army about to devour me, and the story of his wife – an overworked Hospital Chaplain. Which, by the way, I certainly identified with since I am the only chaplain of a 600 plus bed hospital and am on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

But, I could never quite determine who the persona for this thing was. Such fame is amazing, THEN SOMETHING FANTASTIC HAPPENED:

I was searching blogrolling to see how many sites were tied to Andrew Jones,, and found only one, that of Jon Amos titled AMINOR. In reading his blog, I discovered a name I had not heard in a while, Gordon Atkinson. Now it was familiar because several years ago, when the internet was young, Gordon and I corresponded.

Now mind you, I was REALLY surprised to discover that Gordon Atkinson was THE REAL LIVE PREACHER. I almost fell out of my chair. How amazing !!! And I didn’t even know.

Well Gordon, I have my own blog now, MONASTIC SKETE, and was amazed to discover that your church website still had references to my web addresses. For instance you reference, Web Surfer Travel Journal, the adventures of Calvin Swine from my web book FOUR CORNERS-A Literary Excursion Across America, and How to Develop A Spiritual Journal.

So Gordon, I want to congratulate you a whole lot. I hope your book goes well. I am adding your link to my site, and now when I read Real Live Preacher, I am going to remember that you were awfully kind to me in my early internet enterprises many years ago. You linked to me when no one else would. Thanks!!

In closing, last year my wife of 36 years, took me on a surprise journey to your city for a special birthday. We had a fantastic time there. I wish I had looked you up then. I would like to meet you someday.

And in closing, it is interesting to see how Christian Blogging bounces around the universe. It is like the JEPD versions of the Bible. Your links rarely coincide with Tallskinnykiwi, yet both of your are within 2 years of age of each other, both were involved with the BGCT, both went to the same denominational seminaries, and both are advancing the cause of Christianity in our world. One as a real live preacher, the other as a founder of a Baptist monastery in Scotland. The Lord does surprise us all, right.

By the way, my Thomas Merton site is going great. You might check it out sometimes. And please don’t forget to read my blog sometimes:

Monastic Skete

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Dan Phillips
Franklin, TN 37067

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Christmas Cheer

Christmas Cheer

Each year at our hospital the employees receive a free breakfast meal.
This was a photo of a pixie server.

Handmaiden of the lord

Kimber has a new blog called
Handmaiden of the Lord.
Check it out!!!

Merton on Prayer

(Written while praying in the woods.)....."this sacramental moment of time when the shadows will get longer and longer, and one small bird sings quietly in the cedars,one car goes by in the remote distance, and the oak leaves move in the wind. High up in the late summer sky I watch the silent flight of a vulture, and the day goes by in prayer. Sept. 15. 1952 "

Where do you go to pray?

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Janet is in the hospital

Finally, Janet is in the hospital in Michigan. She has only been
approved for 3 days but we hope it will be extended. Her cell phone
works in her hospital room and I am thankful for that. I continue
praying for her.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Remember Janet in Your Prayers !!

Remember Janet in Your Prayers !!

Janet (my wife) is still waiting in Michigan to enter the hospital. (I
am in TN). They called her today and she was suppose to check in but
something fell through. I hope she can get in tomorrow or she may not be home for Christmas.

On a previous post I gave information about her headaches. This photo was made on our daughter's wedding day in October. Thanks

Jack's Barbeque in Nashville, Tennessee


A favorite place to eat on lower broad.

Iona Crosses

This is my first attempt at adding pictures using FLICKR.COM
This is a picture of the crosses on Iona, which was the place where Columba began his monastic experiences in the 5th century. It is a place I would like to go.

Thomas Merton- Ninth Annual International Thomas Merton Society Meeting

What a great program is planned for the Ninth Annual Thomas Merton International Meeting. Go to this site to check it out:

International Thomas Merton Society Meeting

Sunday, December 05, 2004


To Jenell

The Theology of personal disaster - interesting. Unfortunately, we
probably focus to much on ourselves than others.
For instance, I am being a bachelor for 3 weeks. My wife is in Michigan
waiting for entrance to a hospital. The hospital is full and she is just
waiting, and I AM WAITING. I want to be with her but can't! I am just
Waiting. And it is Advent, a time of waiting.

This week I will be doing a special memorial service for FAMILIES who
have lost babies this year. I may pass out your website. Many will
identify with you. Many are still grieving, but is that not all of our
stories: the dream delayed, something lost and found, the bad memory
that will not die, the wrong turn that changed our life, BUT THEN Rom.
8:28 --God's Way Not Ours and it turned out for the best after all.

(P.S.) You make me think Jenell and I am appreciative. That is your
special gift to us this Advent season.

Waiting in TN. Dan

Mobile hiplog

Friday, December 03, 2004

Jack's Barbeque - Nashville, TN

I ate at Jack's Barbeque in Nashville today. It was one of the favorite eating place for the Emergent Convention in Nashville earlier this year.

I use to eat at the Old Jack's Barbeque which was located near the present Hard Rock Cafe. It was a small place. It was removed to make room for bigger and better things. Thankfully Jack has gotten it going again. It is a wonderful place. Also check out the pictures.


My wife Janet is still waiting in Michigan to get into the hospital for her headaches. It may be several more days before she can get in. It has been frustrating. Thankfully her brother lives there and she can stay with him.

The scripture for the day has been Psalm 143, David's Cry for Mercy. And my outline is:

There is a time for prayer - "Hear my cry." vs. 1
There is a time when our spirit fails. "My spirit is weak within me." vs.3
There is a time for remembrance. "I remember the days of old." vs. 5
There is a time to trust God. "For I trust You." vs.8
There is a time for God's Guidance. "Reveal to me the way I should go." vs.8


Thursday, December 02, 2004


Left Detroit yesterday with it snowing and a 50 car pile up. Janet stayed in Michigan with her brother. It looks like it will be several days before she can get into the hospital. So I am working today and tomorrow and seeing what happens.

For a full report of my last days in Detroit go to and see pictures and story of visit to the Henry Ford Museum.

Sign on back of car on way to work: STUPIDITY should be painful.

Thanks to each of you for the prayers during this time. I was impressed with the clinic and hope that they will be able to help Janet.