Friday, July 23, 2010

Personal Aside: It’s Number 82, Folks, and Counting—and So Far it’s Been a Fun Ride.

                                                          Feast of St. Brigid of Sweden.*   
                                      July 23, 1928.
    Today is number 82 for me, thank God. I say thank God because I’m very grateful to Him for giving me great parents, a wonderful wife, four good kids to be very proud of and 13 superb grandchildren…besides which… 
       an interesting career which includes these highlights: 
      … a 1938 visitor to Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy and eyewitness to Hitler’s “anschluss” of Austria,  in company of my parents (my father was a covert FBI consultant)…a beneficiary of traditional Catholic education with 4 year intensive understudy of a great authenticist theologian and philosopher, Fr. Ernest Kilzer OSB…a great find of a wife whom I have loved more than 50 years which led to the aforementioned 4 kids and grandchildren of whom I’m extraordinarily proud. . 
       …And as an adult several careers. One as, a journalist, the 2nd as aide to a major political party, 3rd: aide to two top-notch congressmen including the ranking Republican on House Foreign Affairs (this during the Cold War)…4th: aide to an extraordinarily successful governor of Minnesota;  
        5th: Service as Assistant Secretary of Commerce, 6th : director-public affairs for the Peace Corps and a foreign service officer.  7th : vice president of Quaker Oats; 8th: adjunct teaching experiences  at Harvard (where I was a John F. Kennedy Fellow; Princeton, N. J. a Woodrow Wilson International Fellow; lecturer at St. John’s College, Oxford, Wharton, Northwestern, Loyola, DePaul, the University of Illinois-Chicago and Roosevelt University)…8th: media experiences as Op Ed writer for the Sun Times, Tribune, Wall Street Journal and currently for The Wanderer, the oldest sustaining national Catholic weekly…as well as a continuing Sunday talk-show host on WLS.   
       And for multiple civic experiences here in Chicago. 9th : founder of Project LEAP (an anti-vote fraud organization), longtime board member of the Better Government Association, 10th: president and chairman of The City Club of Chicago, 11th: leader of two pro-life organizations and chairman of Catholic Citizens of Illinois and 12th (which means very much to me) the vice chairmanship of Haymarket Center which ministers to the poor-addicted in Chicago. 13th: writer for this blog and for The Chicago Daily Observer in partnership with John Powers.  
        Beyond that for giving me generally excellent health (notwithstanding a continuing search for the origin of the mystery fever of unknown origin that comes and goes).   
         One eulogist at the funeral of a lawmaker whom I believe was one of the greatest extant in my lifetime, Sen. Robert A. Taft of Ohio, said that the best thing he could say about the distinguished Ohioan was the list of impressive enemies he had collected. The list included the entire cadre of the FDR and Truman administration as well as big labor unions handicapped by Taft-Harley.  Global internationalism as well.    I have a goodly number of them, all of them liberals including the Tribune’s Eric Zorn and the Sun-Times’ columnist Neil Steinberg.  Steinberg the other day called me a “Catholic gargoyle.”  Interesting appellation.
         In architecture, a gargoyle is a carved stone grotesque with a spout designed to siphon water from a cathedral roof and spew it away from the side of the building so as avoid drainage which erodes the mortar between the stone blocks.   Gargoyles originally were conceived by architects to convey messages to the common people.  Since literacy was uncommon in  the Middle Ages they were molded to influence the average passer-by of the end of days.  Well, then, being called a Catholic gargoyle by the eminent Mr. Steinberg may not be too bad.  
        Zorn has accused me to spewing…well…bile. This comes from, in part, my having referred to Obama as a “mulatto” which Zorn deems offensive although “mulatto” has long been acceptable as describing the progeny of one black parent and one white.  But those who do not believe in religious or theological absolutes must compensate in other ways…and Zorn (as well as Steinberg) have an entire list of liberal politically correct concepts from the canons of modern liberalism which I violate regularly and intentionally on this blog.   
        Wouldn’t like to disappoint them.  
      *: St. Brigid of Sweden. [1303-1373].  The patroness of Sweden who has much to do to return that country to its original Catholicism. She is another member of the nobility to be canonized. The daughter-in-law of Berger, governor of Upland, she married  Ulf Gudmarrson when she was only 14 and for many years she lived as chatelaine (mistress of the household) on the estates and bore eight children, one of whom became St. Catherine of Sweden.  In 1335 she was summoned to court to become principal lady-in-waiting to the Queen, Blanche of Namur, wife of King Magnus II.  But she was too pious for the court and became the victim of gossip because of her sanctity and frequent pilgrimages. 
         Then her husband died and she lived for a time at a Cistercian convent before undertaking to found a monastery-convent at Lake Vattern, Vadstena, for 60 nuns and 25 monks. In temporal matters Brigid as Abbess was supreme but in spiritual exercises it was the monks.  All superfluous income was given to the poor; luxurious buildings were forbidden but members could have as many books as they wished to study.  It was known as the Brigettine Order and was under the patronage of King Magnus. 
        She went to Rome to obtain approval for her Order and never returned to Sweden but spent the remainder of her life in Italy and on various pilgrimages. Her austerity of life and her energy in serving pilgrims and the poor won her widespread recognition despite her disinclination to be well known. She tried to dissuade King Magnus from making a crusade against the pagans of Estonia and Latvia but failed. She urged Pope Clement VI to return to Rome from Avignon and to help effectuate peace between England and France.  Her Order once numbered 70 houses but now there are only 12 Brigettine convents in the world.  She died a great visionary and supporter of clerical reform.   


  1. Happy Birthday Tom!

    You've had a very impressive first 82 years on Earth, the question is, what are you planning for the next 82?

  2. It's St. Bridget of Sweden. St Brigid of Kildare is the great Saint of Ireland -- although there are thousands of Irish women mistakenly baptized as Bridget. (well, not mistakenly baptized - but, you know what I mean)

  3. Hope you had a happy birthday! Your blog is my favorite (only?) source for conservative politics from a Chicago perspective. Many happy returns of the day!