Monday, January 4, 2015,

Dear Friends and Family of the Diocese of Eau Claire,

Back in the 1990’s, Garrison Keillor on his radio show, “A Prairie Home Companion” said that the Civil War made everyone sick of war. As a result the United States engaged in no conflicts for the next 33 years. It was the longest period of peace in our nation’s history. More importantly an attitude emerged in that era. This was a time to develop our country.

From 1865 to 1898, Americans, both rich and poor, took calculated risks in hope of a better life. As a result, the United States became more productive than ever. With the transcontinental railroad, people could travel from east to west in a week when only a few years earlier the trip took months. Steel production soared. Thomas Edison’s work with electricity was producing new marvels. Immigrants from Europe flowed into the country thanks to cheap ocean liner prices. Many of these new Americans soon had money to return to their country of origin and visit relatives. In the 1888, my great grandfather and three others invented and manufactured a kerosene fueled portable blow torch. This made it possible for people to weld metals at home or on their farms.

Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, we have been on a constant war footing. Will we ever have peace again? As we take responsibility as the world’s primary superpower, we know insertions of military power cost money and lives. They also can cause us to ignore new dreams and possibilities.

My wish for 2016 is that our nation will refrain from new military initiatives. If we have them, I hope we will develop rapid and effective exit strategies. Meanwhile, perhaps God will renew in us spiritual purpose and meaning for life that will catch fire as never before. Maybe God in leading a new “Great Awakening” will show us new ways of living that will amaze and delight everyone. With my love and best wishes, I am,

Your brother in Christ,