Forbes: As an adult, Martin Luther King Sr., whose given name was Michael King, chose the name Martin Luther for himself and for his young son after visiting the region of eastern Germany where Martin Luther, the Father of the Reformation, was born, lived and worked, according to LutherCountry, an umbrella title for two neighboring German states, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia...
Back in the 1934, Martin Luther King Sr. was one of 10 Baptist ministers who traveled first to the Holy Land and then to Germany. It was on this trip that the senior King “discovered” Martin Luther, and upon returning, gradually changed both his name and his then five-year old son’s, the group said.
The New Mexico state motto is "Land of Enchantment." It fits. From the New Mexio Rockies, through mesa country, into the southern desert, the land has an ethereal, almost mystical, quality. Granted, in 15 hours it can get somewhat monotonous, but then so can the topography pretty much any place.
To go from Denver to Tucson, you make one turn. You drive 10 hours south on I-25, turn right and drive 5 hours west on I-10. For the first three hours, you move along the front range of the Colorado Rockies, then drop out of Raton Pass into northern New Mexico.
The first real town of any size is Las Vegas, NM. If it's lunch-time, go downtown to the old Plaza Hotel. Last time I was there was for Sunday brunch, and it was accompanied by a fine performance by a local folk-singer.
From Las Vegas to Santa Fe is about an hour. Along the way is Glorieta, which was the site of the western-most battle of the Civil War, a Union victory. About 3000 Confederates got it in their head to attack west. Their ultimate goal was said to be capturing San Francisco and turning California Confederate. This was quite an ambitious strategy, which, in any case, was foiled by Union soldiers at Glorieta.
Santa Fe--the "City Different"--is its own unique experience. Until about 20 years ago, Santa Fe was roughly a third Anglo, a third Native American, and a third Hispanic. Unfortunately, having been discovered by the plutocrat crowd, Santa Fe has now become a majority-Anglo city. Definitely visit the Georgia O'Keefe Museum, the Palace of the Governors, and the Indian Museum of Arts and Culture.
Santa Fe has several notable churches. The Cathedral of St. Francis is right at Plaza Square in the heart of the city. (Plaza Square is the end-point of the Santa Fe Trail.) The Loretto Chapel is interesting because of the weird legend about a mysterious stranger who built the winding staircase. The architecture is gothic, however, which seems out-of-place in a city of abode.
Christo Rey, however, is a classic example of southwest mission architecture. Personally, my favorite is the Sanctuario de Guadalupe (photo). The archdioceses' collection of New Mexican santos (holy pictures) is here as well as a painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe painted by renowned artist, Jose de Alzibar.
North out of Santa Fe is Taos, one-time home of Kit Carson and, in the 1930's, some of the southwest artists, such as Walter Ufer and Bert Geer Phillips.
Also north is the small town of Chimayo. Visit the Sanctuario Chimayo, one of the early Catholic missions of the southwest. The sanctuary itself is a great example of hispanic folk art.
Off to the side of the sanctuary is a room the walls of which are festooned with walkers and crutches from the people who were healed by the "healing dirt" of Sanctuario Chimayo. You can take some for yourself from a hole in the floor.
Also worth a visit is Bandolier National Monument, a cliff-dwelling site once occupied by the mysterious Anasazi. The rock walls were formed from lava and contain a number of "bubbles." The people lived in these "bubbles." It is unlike any other Anasazi site in the southwest.
If you're up for an adventure, take the highway northwest out of Albuquerque and head for Chaco Canyon. Northwest New Mexico can be pretty bleak. Look for the turn-off to Chaco, which, last time I was there, was a dirt road that extended for thirty miles. It's worth it, though. Eventually, you drop off into a canyon, turn a corner, and there stands the oldest ruins of North America, occupied by the Anasazi around AD 900, about a century before it's believed Mesa Verde was founded.
For the longest sustained beautiful drive in America, try the seven-hour jaunt from Santa Fe through Abiquiu (one time home of Georgia O'Keefe), to Chama, NM, then north to Ouray and Montrose in Colorado. Try the Chama Toltec scenic railroad in Chama, or drive north to Durango and take the Durango-Silverton line. For an end-of-the-trail meal, try the restaurant at the St. Elmo in Ouray or the Glenn Eyrie in Montrose.
Fr. Francisco Fahlman served the people of Moquegua, Peru for over 35 years. He died at age 74 in 1997. I met him in 1995 through a Habitat for Humanity Global Village trip to Moquegua. The word moquegua is Quechua in origin and means "quiet place." Possibly, it was named that for its pleasant climate, which is the reason it is sometimes known as "sleepy Moquegua" in Peru today. (The town plaza was designed by Gustave Eiffel--yes, that Gustave Eiffel.)
Our first evening in Moquegua, we had dinner with the local Habitat board, among whom was Fr. Fahlman. He also served as our interpreter. He was actually a Canadian by birth, which is how he knew English, but had been in South America for so long that he now thought and dreamed in Spanish, and had for quite some time.
He was then 72 and the only priest in a large parish. Two nuns were also assigned to the congregation, but they spent most of their time running the orphanage next door to the church. Fr. Fahlman had 400 children in confirmation!
As one of the few people in the city with advanced education, he was also in demand for community service, such as serving on the Water Board, other civic associations--and, of course, the Habitat board.
As the only priest in a city of 30,000, he presided at several Masses each week, at least a few funerals, and special Masses for special occasions. "If it's National Firefighters Week," he said, "the firefighters want a Mass."
He took Wednesdays off and drove about 45 minutes to Ilo, which is on the Pacific coast. This is where he found the vast majority of his pre-Columbian artifacts. Over the years, his collection had grown quite extensive. He persauded the local copper mine--the fourth largest in the world--to support forming a museum around his collection, the Museo Contisuyo in Moquegua.
Fr. Fahlman could get quite animated, in his quiet way. He was no friend of "liberal economics." Back in the 1980's, "liberal economics" was all the rage in Peru. ("Liberal economics" is what they call free market-ism in Latin America.) Presidential candidate Fujimori was pushing it at the time, and Fr. Fahlman voted for Fujimori when he first ran. He did not vote for Fujimori when he ran for re-election because, as Fr. Fahlman acidly said it, "Liberal economics 'helps' poor people by getting rid of poor people."
Fr. Fahlman's theology was "liberationist." This was not simply an academic position, nor an intellectual one. Quite the contrary, it was practical and down-to-earth. Fr. Fahlman's people were poor, and he was on their side and he was sure God was too. Theologians call it "preferential option for the poor." Fr. Fahlman called it "following Jesus."
Moquegua has a fall holiday known as the Festival of Santa Fortunata. The alleged bones of "Santa Fortunata" were brought to Moquegua in the 1700's. Fr. Fahlman said nobody really knows who the remains actually were, but somehow they wound up being Santa Fortunata. "And the Franciscans did this!" he said, with great indignation, an indignation made even sharper by the fact that he was also Franciscan.
One of the features of the Festival of Santa Fortunata is the local custom of offering a toast before one downs a local drink known as a Pisco Sour. The toast, if I remember correctly, is "no soy un protestante," which means, "I am not a protestant." Fr. Fahlman didn't care much for this practice, not least because it seemed to say that the drunker you were, the better Catholic you were.
He went on a campaign against it. He wanted to have the so-called remains of the so-called Santa Fortunata removed from the church. The reasoning he presented to the church was that Santa Fortunata was an Italian and the church should honor a Peruvian saint, such as St. Rose of Lima, for example, or St. Martin de Porres. Both, he also pointed out, helped the poor.
The way he told the story, a sizeable group of men worked and worked and worked and couldn't get the remains of "Santa Fortunata" out of the church. Not long afterward, Fr. Fahlman had his first heart attack while serving Mass. Many of the people were convinced that Santa Fortunata was getting even with Fr. Fahlman for trying to put her out of the church. An astute parish politician, he said, "After that, there was never much hope of making a change."
The local orphanage began during his tenure. It began when someone left a baby on the church steps. They took the child in, and soon they had three or four more. Suddenly, they were operating an orphanage. They decided they could not take more than ten children. When they got up to around 15, they decided that 20 was the absolute limit. When they hit 25, they absolutely, absolutely could not take more than 30.
When we were there--this was 1995--there were 186 children in the orphanage. The nuns were quite accomplished at pointing out the cramped conditions and the special challenges of their situation. They survived on contributions, after all, and, as I myself like to say, "Donations are always cheerfully accepted." Besides, having seen those little Peruvian faces, how could you not?
Fr. Fahlman was a prime mover in the local Habitat affiliate, though he was not alone in this. Local Habitat boards are organized the same way around the world. The Moquegua board seemed representative of the community and had a high level of commitment. The project we were working on was called the "City of Angels" project--Cuidad Los Angeles. The planned 200 homes have been completed for some time now, of course, providing safe and decent housing for at least 1000 people.
Fr. Fahlman died on August 22, 1997 during heart surgery following his fourth heart attack, a priest to the end. I heard they renamed the Cuidad Los Angeles project after Fr. Fahlman. They have also named a school after him, and, I believe, a local park--also, apparently, a local sports team.
He had come to visit not long before. He stayed at our house and wanted to see as many of his Colorado friends as possible, not realizing that we lived all over a very big state. Over a week's time, we did re-connect with a few, showing him big chunks of the Rocky Mountains along the way. Of course, when you have the Andes in your backyard, the Rockies don't make the same impression as they do if you're from North Dakota. When we weren't doing that, he liked to watch television. "Wow, you must have 50 channels," he'd say. Turns out, it's not that hard to entertain someone from the third world.
He also happened to be in town during a time when I was likely to be called to the particular congregation I serve now. Before the final deal had been struck, however, we needed to have dinner with the congregation. Of course, we brought Fr. Fahlman as a guest. I don't think it hurt my prospects any that I was able to introduce someone to them whom I regarded as a saint.
I was once asked my favorite memory of Habitat for Humanity. I have several, but if I had to choose one, it would be the final worship service of our week at Cuidad Los Angeles in Moquegua. We were all gathered under a tent on the Habitat site. A slight breeze caught Fr. Fahlman's vestments every now and then while we and our Peruvian friends sang joyful songs in Spanish. Most of us did not know the words, but it didn't seem to matter that much. Besides, el amor de Jesucristo is not that difficult to translate.
Fr. Fahlman is a hero to the people of Moquegua, and to me, and I hope also, dear reader, to you.
Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) said that Ciudad Juarez is the "most dangerous city in America." It's quite likely he'll be ridiculed in the press for this, but, actually, he is correct that Ciudad Juarez is in America. It's just not in the United States.
Cuidad Juarez is clearly in America. Pretty much anything this side of the world is in "America." In fact, it's even in North America. People tend not to think of it this way, I don't think, but Mexicans are our fellow norteamericanos, along with Canadians.
Whether it's the "most dangerous city" on the entire American continent is probably a judgment call, but possible. I'm no expert on the city of Juarez, but we've heard little positive in recent months, and much negative.
These things can change, and probably will in the case of Juarez. Cartegena, Colombia was once a dangerous city, but word is that much has changed, and that Cartegena is, once again, a tourist destination.
In any case, technically speaking, Gov. Perry is right about Juarez being in America. One would reasonably guess, however, that he wasn't thinking of it in the terms described above at the time he said it.
Doing a little browsing related to the Andes' mountains, I happened to run across the photo on the left.
It was taken in a small town near Puno, Peru named Chucuita, and purports to be an ancient Inca "fertility garden." Supposedly, these fertility symbols point to the Inca sun god, Inti. Even today, local women are said to sneak into the garden to perform some sort of fertility ceremony to help them get pregnant.
As it happens, I've been there. In the course of walking around this "fertility garden," I happened to run into a man, originally from Scotland, who then taught at the Universitad Nacional del Altiplano in Puno. He said the "fertility garden" was something of a local Chamber-of-Commerce project to generate some tourist traffic. Who wouldn't want to see an ancient Incan "fertility garden"?
The new governors of Wisconsin and Ohio have both stopped improved passenger rail service in their states. The Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood, has rescinded $1.2 billion in funds that would have gone to those states. The Wisconsin project would have brought passenger service from Madison to Milwaukee. The Ohio project would have connected Cincinnati, Columbus, and Cleveland.
Why would you not want projects that create jobs, provide a service, and stimulate economic development, and, oh by the way, improves the environmental impact of the state's transportation network?
Back in the 1950's, the Eisenhower administration decided to favor car traffic over rail traffic, and so, built the nation's interstate highway system. The reason was partly national security. The administration believed that urban rail stations would easily be compromised by a nuclear attack.
The United States is way behind in terms of transportation infrastructure, and especially in regard to rail. This affects the nation's prosperity. If we can't deliver goods and services as efficiently as China or Europe, that is to our disadvantage.
The administration says that the money will be distributed to other states.
Cardinal Walter Kasper got bounced from the entourage accompanying the Pope to Great Britain. They say it's a health issue, but probably it's because he supposedly slighted London by cracking that Heathrow Airport was like a "third world country."
This was taken as a slight to London, but you could just as well say it's a slight to third world countries, who, after all, have millions of perfectly fine people, but who are just poor, that's all. In fact, many millions of those millions are Catholics.
Come to think of it, I once said the same thing about Midway Airport in Chicago. It was around Christmas, and the place was jam-packed. Many different languages could be heard in the din, and, given Christmas, everybody was in a pretty good mood. I thought to myself, "This is like a third world country," but meant it as a compliment.