Happy 2020 Thanksgiving

As we celebrate Thanksgiving 2020, we still have much to be thankful for, even if at times it does not appear that way. For my family this is a particularly poignant Thanksgiving because my older brother, Joe, passed from this life to the next life on November 15. We are sad and yet so very thankful for brother Joe.

For a great many people, Covid-19 worries and separation, the loss of family members and friends, and Covid-related financial worries raise dark clouds. But the sun does rise each morning. The sunrise photo I am using today was taken at Goguac Lake in my old hometown, Battle Creek, Michigan, by my friend John Zuk. I use it with John’s permission. John’s photo reminds us that even on cold mornings and with wintry leafless trees the sun does indeed still rise: the Creator’s reminder that, even if we have occasionally cloudy vision and dark days, the Source of Life has not abandoned us. And we cannot abandon each other.

While looking for a Thanksgiving reflection for 2020, I came across a poem by Takashi “Thomas” Tanemori. Takashi was eight years old when, on August 6, 1945, the world’s first atomic bomb was dropped on his home city, Hiroshima. The explosion immediately killed an estimated 80,000 people. Tens of thousands more later died of radiation exposure. Tanemori survived. He is still with us. He wrote this poem called “Looking into Heaven with Love and Gratitude” on Thanksgiving Day, November 23, 2006  

Turning my face to Heaven

I sense rather than see

the endless blue.

Beyond the dancing leaves and soaring hawk,

its immeasurable stillness

reflects the wonder of all Creation.

Morning dew glittering in the dawn,

like precious jewels;

and twinkling stars echoing in the silent night,

like the songs of angels,

We gather the fruits of the earth,

till the barn is overflowing with bounty.

My heart fills with countless blessings:

food, shelter, clothing and friends to be encircled.

Looking back, I see how

my stumbling steps have become a path

and how, on this lonely road,

I have never been alone.

The kindness of many has been

like a spring rain,

bringing new life to my heart,

as a “Blade of Grass” ever emerging

from the ashes of the Past.

I stand, Amazed at my blessings,

grateful for God’s Wonders!


A very Happy Thanksgiving.

Thank you for traveling with me on Another Voice.


26 November 2020

Religion and Reality

A short reflection about religion and reality, with a contemporary  Catholic nuance.

Our word “religion” comes from the Latin root lig, meaning “to connect,” and the prefix re, meaning “again.” We find for example the root lig in the word “ligament,” which connects muscles to bones. 

Religion, ideally, connects us to reality in all of its depth and mystery.

It happens of course that people can also use religion to try connecting to a long-gone past, the good old days, or to an artificial reality, by denying contemporary reality and creating their own truths. Cultic groups, for example, venerate the artificial reality created by authoritarian leaders. 

A contemporary Catholic religious distortion struck me this week, as I read news reports about the Italian Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò. He served as the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States from 19 October 2011 to 12 April 2016. He is well known for his conspiracy theory criticism of the pope and has now criticized Archbishop José Gomez, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops for congratulating Joseph Biden on his election as the soon-to-be second US president who is Catholic. (Yes, Gomez later said he was concerned about Biden’s position on abortion; but he also praised Biden for his policy proposals regarding immigration reform, refugees, the poor, racism, the death penalty, and climate change. These are truly pro-life issues. I hopeArchbishop Gomez and his episcopal colleagues can truly enter into respectful conversation with the new president and further dismantle US polarization.)

Viganò, however, who has strongly supported the current president has been strongly condemnatory of the president-elect. In a letter sent for publication to LifeSiteNews he stressed that “Covid and Biden are two holograms, two artificial creations, ready to be adapted time and time again to contingent needs or respectively replaced when necessary with Covid-21 and Kamala Harris.” 

“Let us allow light to be shed on the deceptions of Biden and the Democrats,” Archbishop Viganò continued. “The fraud that they have plotted against President Trump and against America will not remain standing for long, nor will the worldwide fraud of Covid, the responsibility of the Chinese dictatorship, the complicity of the corrupt and traitors, and the enslavement of the deep church.” 

When it comes to religion and reality, Viganò and his Catholic supporters twist and mix facts and fantasy. They are “alt-Catholics,” who have found ways to integrate sexism, bigotry, xenophobia, and isolationist nationalism with their religion.Their distorted Catholicism has a seductive appeal. It asks no questions, and it blesses their unwillingness to navigate in the world of contemporary reality. 

Healthy religion focuses on today’s questions and concerns about human meaning, identity, and purpose. The goal is to better understand all human contexts in which faith arises: philosophy, history, literature, sociology, psychology, anthropology, economics, and the arts. No single discipline has a corner on the truth. We draw from all and we learn and live together. We strive for collaboration not polarization. 

Healthy religion, above all, recognizes the depth of the mystery of life and allows the God-mystery to stand as the horizon for all learning. God is disclosed in the human journey even when some humans cannot find or refuse to find God. We are never dismissed or abandoned by God. When we open our eyes and hearts to the people around us, we open the way to God’s revelation.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906 – 1945), pastor and theologian, said it so well in one of his Advent reflections: “Living WITHOUT mystery means knowing nothing of the mystery of our own life, nothing of the mystery of another person, nothing of the mystery of the world. It means passing over our own hidden qualities and those of others. It means remaining on the surface, taking the world seriously only to the extent that it can be calculated and exploited, and not going beyond the world of calculation and exploitation. Living without mystery means not seeing the crucial processes of life at all and even denying them.”

Take care. With healthy religion we can dialogue, collaborate, and move ahead. Religion is at its best when it forces us to ask the hard questions. May we ask and listen and learn together.



I want to thank all who have so far responded to my annual Another Voice appeal. Today’s post is my last notice for anyone who still wishes to contribute. Any amount is appreciated. There are four ways readers can contribute:

(1) With a US dollars check, from a US bank, sent to: 


 Geldenaaksebaan 85A    3001 Heverlee    BELGIUM

(2) By ZELLE using: jadleuven@gmail.com

(3) By US bank transfer to: 

 Account 7519230887 in name of John A. Dick

 Routing number 072400052


(4) By international bank transfer to my Belgian bank: 

 BNP Paribas Fortis Bank


 IBAN: BE83 2300 3923 6015


Some brief (and non-political) thoughts this weekend about biblical translations. 

Over the years I have done a lot of translation work and have learned that a translator must try to understand the context, meaning, and nuance of the original text and then pass that on in the new other-language version. It is not always easy. For many years I was the ghost translator for a now deceased cardinal, who wrote in French and Dutch. We became good friends and he said he liked my work because I understood what was going on in his head: I understood his nuance and context. 

SAME WORDS DIFFERENT MEANINGS: If one does not understand the contextualized meaning of the original words, sometimes rather humorous mistakes can be made as well. Years ago while shopping in London, I discovered much to my surprise that the word “pants” in British English means underwear. British “trousers” are what Americans call “pants.” I had told the fellow in the London men’s clothing store that I wanted a “nice pair of pants” to visit the Archbishop of Westminster. He just started laughing. 

INTERPRETATION: Translation is also a work of interpretation which can become especially significant if one is translating Sacred Scripture. When the Hebrew version of the Old Testament (what we prefer to call today the “Hebrew Scriptures”) was translated into Greek, there was interpretation. When Jerome translated the Greek New Testament into the Latin Vulgate, he did a lot of biblical interpretation, nuanced occasionally by his own misogyny. 

JEROME: Jerome (c.342 – 420 CE) did profoundly influence the early Middle Ages. He often stressed how a woman devoted to Jesus should live her life and, somewhat ironically perhaps, he had close non-sexual patron relationships with prominent female ascetics who were members of wealthy Roman families. Personally, however, he was strictly anti-sex. He advocated and praised virginity. He found women too often vain and demanding and denigrated their sexuality. Here are a couple examples: In the story of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife in Genesis 39, where she attempts to seduce him, the original Hebrew text narrates the story in a straightforward, non-judgmental way. The woman says to Joseph “Lie with me,”and the Hebrew text says simply “and he refused.” Not so in Jerome’s translation: “And he refused” becomes in Jerome’s translation “by no means agreeing to this wicked deed.” And then in Jerome’s translation of Genesis 3.16 we read that God has been addressing severe words to the serpent in the garden and God finishes with a warning to Eve in these words: “Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” While “he will rule over you” makes clear the husband’s predominance over the wife, the impact is softened somewhat by the other half of the verse, “Your desire will be for your husband.” The Hebrew word for “desire” here has a sexual nuance. In Jerome’s version, however, that half of the verse is changed to “You will be under the power of your husband” and “he will rule over you.” The complete subjection and subordination of the woman is now clearly stressed in Jerome’s interpretive translation.

SEPTUAGINT – FROM HEBREW TO GREEK INTERPRETATION: In the Hebrew language version of Isaiah 7:14, we read the prophet Isaiah, addressing King Ahaz of Judah (763 – 710 BCE) promising the king that God will destroy his enemies. As a sign Isaiah says that a specific “young woman” (almah in Hebrew) will conceive and will bear a son whose name will be Immanuel, “God is with us,” and that King Ahaz should not worry because the threat from his enemy kings will be ended. When the Hebrew Scriptures were translated into Greek however, in what is called the Septuagint, the Hebrew word for “young woman”: almah was translated as the Greek word parthenos meaning “virgin.” And so we end up in Matthew 1:23 with no mention of Ahaz and the re-worked translation from Isaiah 7:14:  “Behold a virgin will conceive and bear a son and they shall call his name Immanuel.” And ever since the text has been understood as a prophecy about Jesus’ “virgin birth.”

NEW TESTAMENT BROTHERS AND SISTERS: Many New Testament books and letters are written to or about people called adelphoi in Greek. The word is often translated in English as “brothers.” Many translators have argued that, since the Greek says “brothers,” texts using that word should always be translated “brothers” in English. In fact, however, the Greek does not say “brothers.” The plural Greek word adelphoi refers to siblings in a family. In New Testament usage, depending on the context, adelphoi may refer either to men or to both men and women who are siblings (brothers and sisters) in the Christian community. 

CONTEMPORARY INCLUSIVE PRACTICE: Contemporary biblical translations AND all who read or proclaim the Scriptures in public should always use inclusive language: “humankind” in place of “mankind,” “brothers and sisters” in place of “brothers,” “men and women” or “all people,” when the meaning is clearly about men and women. The practice should be followed by writers of church documents. I once told a bishop friend, when we were both attending a conference, that it would be better if he used inclusive language in his pastoral letters. He thought that was a bunch of  “feminist foolishness.” When I got back to my hotel room and my laptop later in the day, I took the first two pages of his most recent pastoral letter and changed all of his masculine nouns, pronouns, and adjectives to female nouns, pronouns, and adjectives and sent it to him as a friendly “inclusive language meditation text,” starting with his opening greeting “My Dear Sisters in the Lord…” He was not amused.

MOVING AWAY FROM PATRIARCHAL INTERPRETATIONS: Just because the Bible has sometimes been used to reinforce patriarchy does not necessarily mean that that was the original intention of the biblical authors. For many years, the only voices that were heard when interpreting and describing the experiences of biblical personalities were the voices of men. Even passages about women were often interpreted from the male perspective. When one looks at life through male-tinted glasses, one writes about and interprets life in that light. Moreover, women’s experiences can be depicted in such a way as to justify their subordination, as we occasionally see in Jerome. Fortunately today we have a great number of biblical scholars who are women and who are correcting earlier patriarchal and misogynist translations of Scripture.

A FINAL OBSERVATION: Many biblical translations have interpreted words in ways that reinforce an institutional understanding of Christianity. Some items that immediately come to mind: the words ekklesia in Greek and ecclesia in Latin should not be translated as “church” but as a “gathering,” “assembly,” or “community of believers.” The words “episcopos” and “episcopus” should not be translated as “bishop” but as “overseer.” The development of the monarchical bishop in the second century had a big impact on reinforcing what one can call institutional translation interpretations.The historical Jesus did not found an institutional church. He called together a group of followers. After his death and resurrection those followers became an energetic faith community. The institutional church came later and expanded along Roman imperial structural lines.


Annual Donation

Once again, between now and December 20, I invite my readers for a contribution to keep Another Voice speaking. This annual donation helps cover computer upgrading (needed) and internet and website costs. It is especially helpful because my retirement income is limited. I don’t use PayPal but here are four ways readers can contribute:

  • With a US dollars check, from a US bank, sent to: 


                      Geldenaaksebaan 85A

                      3001 Heverlee


                      Account    7519230887 in name of John A.  Dick

                      Routing  number   072400052

                      SWIFT CODE    FTBCUS3

  •  By international  bank transfer to my Belgian bank:   

                     BNP Paribas Fortis Bank

                     SWIFT CODE     (BIC): GEBABEBB    

                     IBAN: BE83 2300 3923 6015

To Make an End is to Make a Beginning

Ordinarily I would not have posted another reflection until the end of the second week in November. But as I stressed last week, we are now in a time of transition and in many ways in an extra-ordinary phase. 

The major news outlets announced on November 7th that Joseph R. Biden, Jr. has won the 2020 US Presidential Election and Kamala Harris the Vice Presidential Election. This is a major and significant event. It marks an historic transition for the United States as well as the entire world.

Now we need to put political rhetoric aside for a while and confront polarization with its violent destructiveness. We need thoughtful and respectful conversation and peaceful collaboration – without demeaning or denigrating one another. One can agree or disagree with a former or future president; but we all need to collaborate in constructing and maintaining “the common good.” T.S. Eliot’s words in “Little Gidding” call out to us strongly: 

For last year’s words belong to last year’s language

And next year’s words await another voice.

And to make an end is to make a beginning.

In the coming months, I hope to offer clarifying theological and ethical perspectives anchored in ongoing historical research and discovery.  I greatly appreciate the observations of all who have journeyed with ANOTHER VOICE so far this year…..That being said, it is time once again for my annual financial appeal. 

ANOTHER VOICE is offered without a fee. That will not change. Between now and the first week of December, however, I invite my readers for a contribution to keep ANOTHER VOICE speaking. This annual donation helps cover computer upgrading (needed) and internet and website costs. It is especially helpful because my retirement income is limited and Covid-19 has halted some of my part-time teaching revenue. Small or big I appreciate what you can do.

I don’t use PayPal but here are four ways readers can contribute:

(1)       With a US dollars check, from a US bank, sent to: 


                      Geldenaaksebaan 85A

                      3001 Heverlee


(2)       By ZELLE  using:        jadleuven@gmail.com

(3)       By US bank transfer to:  

                      Account    7519230887 in name of John A.  Dick 

                      Routing  number   072400052 

                      SWIFT CODE    FTBCUS3

(4)       By international  bank transfer to my Belgian bank:   

                     BNP Paribas Fortis Bank

                     SWIFT CODE     (BIC): GEBABEBB    

                     IBAN: BE83 2300 3923 6015

Many thanks for your support and warmest regards.


Transition: Time to Change the Conversation and Change Course

November 5, 2020

The election of 2020 remains a major event, regardless who is eventually and officially proclaimed the winner. Much more than the election of 2020, however, we are clearly in an historic transition, with socio-cultural and political change not just in the USA but everywhere around the globe. It comes too often with violent eruptions. 

In this national and global transition, we really have to start working together to change the conversation and change course. We need new directions for church and civil society. We need confidence, courage, and creativity. It has not yet happened but we can and will overcome Covid-19. Just in time for climate change: our next big challenge?

At home in the USA, we have urgent issues: health care, jobs, financial security, and civil unrest. We need to reassure people, deflate violence, and conquer ignorance and falsehood. We need to reaffirm our commitment to truth and honesty. We have had enough empty political rhetoric and headlined falsehoods.

Changing the conversation and charting a new direction means moving beyond self-centered “my group” expediency to a more genuine human community and a safe and healthy society for all citizens. What we used to call “the common good.” It means looking at life and talking about life in new ways. It means moving beyond racism and hateful behavior. It means humbly and honestly acknowledging that big changes are reshaping our lives, our environment, and our understanding. 

What are my conversation and course change topics right now? 

POLARIZATION: The 2020 election has revealed the alarming depth and extensiveness of societal polarization. Well, we need to seriously reflect, converse, and change course. We are all part of formal and informal interlocking institutions: schools, neighborhoods, churches, companies, families, and political parties. Each comes with personal and group collaborative roles and responsibilities. Polarization destroys collaboration and could very well be the national dysfunction destroying our life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness…Either Trump or Biden will win but with unresolved polarization America’s deepest problems will remain. 

A WARNING: It has happened in highly polarized (and “civilized”) countries that conversation stoped, collaboration ceased, and one group led by a cultic authoritarian dictator, warning of chaos, assumed control. Patriotism became unquestioned obedience and loyalty to the dictator. The “disloyal” were set aside and one way or another eliminated.

WHITE CHRISTIAN AMERICA: Are we experiencing the “end of white Christian America”? Probably. Should we be anxious about this? I don’t see why. It is not the end of Christianity. It is not the end of America. It is reality. Now how do we talk about it? How do we live with the new reality?

AMERICAN DIVERSITY: Americans in the United States are more racially and ethnically diverse than in the past. They will be even more diverse in the coming decades. By 2055, the US WILL NOT have one single racial or ethnic majority, and “white people” will be a minority group. It may come as a surprise to some observers; but Asia has already replaced Latin America (including Mexico) as the biggest source of new immigrants to the United States. The US Asian population grew 72% between 2000 and 2015 (from 11.9 million to 20.4 million), the fastest growth rate of any major racial or ethnic group.

LGBTQ: One of my correspondents wrote recently that “gays are destroying American society and thanks to them family life is disintegrating.” Well that is one way of looking and speaking. What, however, would gay people say about American society today? How would they speak about family life? If we can shift our conversation from quick condemnation to dialogical comprehension, we might also become a bit more understanding and supportive of men and women living and struggling in a variety of family situations. Now even Pope Francis sees the importance of same-sex civil unions, because “They are children of God.” The Catholic Church has a lot of catching up to do. It is still officially anti-gay and yet thousands of the church’s priests are gay. By the way, that includes a lot of bishops.

INTER-RELIGIOUS DIALOGUE AND RESPECT: Another important element in changing course and changing our conversation must be inter-religious dialogue. As we chart a new course, we need to start building bridges with Islam.  By 2050, the number of Muslims in our world will nearly equal the number of Christians. In our churches, we can and should have Muslim/Christian discussion groups and adult education programs. Why not have an adult ed. presentation on “Understanding the Qur’an: Islam’s Holy Book.” Let’s not forget Judaism either. Antisemitism is on the rise on both sides of the Atlantic. Muslims, Jews, and Christians are brothers and sisters in the same Abrahamic tradition. With one God who is Father and Mother of all.

CHURCH LEADERSHIP: We need a change of course in church leadership. Protestant theologian and professor of sociology at the University of Giessen in Germany, Reimer Gronemeyer, recently concluded that Protestant and Catholic Churches will only survive amid the multiple crises currently gripping Christianity and the world to the extent that they open up their leadership to non-white, non-male people. He stressed that the church will have a future “only if it frees itself from the rule of old white men.” I thought immediately about the old men at the Vatican and the Roman Catholic college of cardinals…

Well enough thoughts for today. (I am still pondering the election.) I have quite a list of topics for change, but these are at the top. 

Even if it is hard to see it right now, a new age is being born. Now is the time to look ahead with courage and creativity.



Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events. It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time we stand up for an ideal, or act to improve the lot of others, or strike out against injustice, we send forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.” — Robert F. Kennedy, 1966