Saturday, December 31, 2011

Kristine Holmgren for President

Thank you, thank you, thank you - no.

After long conversations with my family, my neighbors, my cat, my neighbors' grandchildren and a pedophile acquaintance who moved back to Stillwater last week, I must again, decline the opportunity to represent you all as President of the United States. 

Official - I will not seek, nor will I accept, the Republican Party's nomination in 2012. 

I hope this clarifies.

Please - stop sending contributions.  Going forward, all donations to my campaign will go directly to the Kristine Holmgren Mortgage fund held in escrow by the lender who screwed up my credit back in '07.

I throw the full power of my support behind whoever wins the nomination, and trust she will play her appropriate role in history.

Monday, December 19, 2011

THEATRE IN THE ROUND PLAYERS is the venue for the staged reading of SWEET TRUTH

Free admission to a STAGED READING of this new comedy
by former Star Tribune columnist, Kristine M. Holmgren. 

The staged reading of a new comedy
former Star Tribune columnist
Kristine M. Holmgren

Wednesday, January 11 at 7.P.M. 

Hosted by 
Theatre in the Round Players 
245 Cedar 
Minneapolis, MN

Admisison free - Champagne and cupcake reception following!  

Based on dating experiences as a divorced single mother, Kristine Holmgren wrote her new comedy, SWEET TRUTH, as a light-hearted gift to the Twin Cities theatre community. 

"I've been talking about these guys for years," Holmgren said, "even written about them.  But I've never put them into dramatic action before!"

Sweet Truth tells the story of a single mother facing mid-life alone.  Desperate to find a partner, Bernice Fairfax is becoming dangerously addicted to on-line dating despite the strange men she meets. 

This is Holmgren's third play, and the second to appear in staged reading at Theatre in the Round Players (TRP). 

The last time TRP  hosted a Holmgren play, she filled the house. 

"The largest crowd we've ever seen for a staged reading," said Steve Antenucci, TRP's managing director. "We were happy to host another." 

Kristine Holmgren enjoys a healthy audience for her current projects.  In 2009 she instigated the salon, "The Dead Feminists Society of Minnesota," - a monthly soirĂ©e where feminists study, discuss and integrate topics of gender equity.  The Dead Feminists Society of Minnesota has a membership of over 400, and the Minnesota Women's Press honored Holmgren as a "Changemaker" for her good work. 

Of course, most Minnesotans remember  Holmgren for her Star Tribune column which appeared on the editorial pages of the Star Tribune for almost ten years.  Touching, taunting and always talk-worthy, her narrative focused on the ways our domestic policies affect the day-to-day lives of Minnesota children, women and families. 

Sweet Truth fits in that frame - and promises a light-hearted evening of laughter, followed by complimentary cupcakes and champagne. 

Holmgren's first play PAPER DADDY premieres April 13th at the Northfield Arts Guild in Northfield, Minnesota - and her second play, The God Girl will enjoy a public reading at the Minnesota History Theatre in May of 2012. 


Bernice Fairfax is too long single and about to turn forty. Her adorable cupcake shop is struggling, her fourteen-year-old daughter is on a body-piercing binge and the only men Bernice meets are sick, bad, crazy or stupid.  Will a visit from her born-again-Druid-Priestess- mother change anything?

Join in the staged reading of Kristine's hilarious new work - and stay for complimentary champagne, cupcakes and a lively discussion!

Directed by Adam Arnold - Stage Management by Jeff Musch

“Bernice Fairfax” ......... Roneet Aliza Rahamim
“Carla Clifford” ............... Hannah Benedict
“Scout Fairfax” ................ Stephanie Kahle
“Sheila Malmquist” ............... Annette Kurek
“Charlie Fairfax” ..................... Tim Como
“John” ............................. Rick Lamers
“Russ” ............................. Eric Nelson
“Bill”, ”Amaranth" .............. Dave Heffernan
Narrator ....................... Christine Sweet

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

AUDITIONS - SWEET TRUTH at Theatre in the Round

AUDITIONS  for the staged reading of my new play, Sweet Truth were announced today.

They will be held on Friday, December 9, 5-7 PM and Saturday, December 10 12 Noon - 2:00 PM at the following location:
Blank Slate Theatre,
499 Wacouta Street
Saint Paul, MN 55101

The performance is scheduled for Wednesday, January 11th at Theatre in the Round Players,  245 Cedar Avenue, Minneapolis, MN.

Put it on your calendar!  Champagne and cupcakes following the performance - - and a lively discussion of the play!

See you then! 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The rock, the girl, and the hope for freedom

An ordinary rock.  Nothing special, nothing important.
Once upon a time there was a rock.

An ordinary rock.  Nothing special, nothing important.

Except for this.  Under this rock lived an entire civilization.

A entire world of creatures who crawled, pro-created, lived and breathed the stifled, filthy air the rock allowed.

They were tiny critters; limited in imagination; ugly, useless but not evil.

They lived within the boundary of birth.  Their boundaries were harsh, settled and heavy.  They were, after all, the boundaries of the rock's edge.

Beyond their little. dark and limited world was grass, sunshine, the traffic of others, fresh oxygen. 
 But under their rock they enjoyed dark, moist, fertile, worm-laden comfort. 

Always they had a choice, of course. 

Like all creatures, every day they had the opportunity to scurry beyond the edge of the heavy, hard, dead rock that comforted them.  They could scatter into possibilities, golden daylight, rain and snow.

Some of them had done so, and disappeared to the outside.

The creatures left behind understood this.  And so they chose comfort.

Until the day everything changed.

It was a day like any other. 

Every day is the same as the last, when one lives under a rock.

They felt the pressure as she sat.
The creatures sensed it.  They heard the soft plod of her foot steps as she approached.  They sensed her interest, her curiosity as she walked around their rock and inspected their home. And then, they felt the pressure as she sat down.

Her presence was quiet - calm.  Even so, some of them knew their lives were about to change forever.

She was in search of a rock - the right rock for her garden.  Within moments, she was joined by others - assisting her. 

Under the rock, the little creatures felt the action.  Under the rock they felt the disruption.  Under the rock, they felt the change.

Within minutes their home was upended.  And nothing was ever the same. 

. . . and nothing was ever the same.
Humanity is like little creatures, hiding under a rock.

Sometimes it takes a great force, with a plan for new beauty,  to upend, disrupt and renew us.

The ripping of the old, the tearing loose of the hard, immovable crust that holds us tight to old assumptions - this does not happen easily.

It often happens against our will.

Even so, it is always, always available to us.

We always have the power to choose sunshine; to walk in the truth and enjoy the bright, clear inspection of decency.

Those who live under rocks are invisible to others.  Safe, unexamined, they live deep in decay and know not their own suffering.

If they cannot scurry free on their own, they can still be released.  Against their will, against their destiny - uncovered by chance and set free by accident.

It is, in the end, their only hope.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Walking the talk

Remember the SLUT WALK?  Come on.  You remember. I know you remember

Remember how the organizers promised us their movement was more than the "sensationalism" behind the irritating title? How they want to stand up for victims - want to speak on behalf of survivors of rape and sexual assault?

Remember how they took your money and promised future action?

Herman Cain might one day be President of the United States.
So, where are they when we need them?

This past week, Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain, trashed, damaged and denyed four women who dared to call him out on past sexual harassment claims.

Why are SLUT WALK leaders (and the 1400 Minnesota SLUTS who support them) not speaking up in support of Karen Kraushaar, Sharon Bialek and the other women he assaulted?

If there were ever a time in our recent history when women needed other women, this is it. 

Not that long ago

Less than two months ago, SLUT WALK promoters promised us that the only way to end the "rape culture" was to "reclaim" the word SLUT, dress like whores, pimps and cops and parade through the streets of Minneapolis. Remember?

I do.  Oh, yes.  I remember.  You better believe I remember. I'll never forget.
I remember because I dared to speak out against SLUT WALK's irresponsible use of the term "slut."  And when I did so,  the wrath of angry women rained down upon me. I received hate mail and threatening phone calls from as far away as Pine City.  The whole thing was a little unnerving.  So, I know personally that SLUT WALK women know how to use the phone to let their opinions be heard. 
Where are the Slut Walkers when we need them? 
But this isn't about the way SLUT WALK treats those who disagree.  This is about the sad, simple silence of an organization that promised so much and delivered so little.

Pride in the "S" word

 A little stroll down SLUT WALK memory lane for those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about.

The SLUT WALK movement was the brainchild of men and women dedicated to the proposition that all women are created promiscuous - that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights - and that among those are life, liberty and the persuit of  female-initiated sexual expression.

For those of us silly enough to be insulted by the word "slut," the SLUT WALKERS assured a deeper lesson lurked under their wild-eyed advocacy of provocative dress and reclaiming of the insulting title. 

The problem, they said, is not in the negative connotation of the term, SLUT.  The problem is the critic's limited understanding of female sexuality and personal freedom.

According to the SLUT WALK leaders, a woman's claim to independence goes further than accessible birth control and abortion, equal pay for equal work and equal treatment under our common rule of law. 

SLUT WALKERS believe that freedom's just another word for the ability to dress in fishnet, and sleep around.  They call this behavior "SLUTTY"  - and they're damn proud of it. Moreover, they claim that their preference for promiscuity, drunkenness and dressing to seduce are their rights - and should be protected by law enforcement and our judicial system.

How about them apples?

I know, I know.  I didn't take any of this seriously either, until angry, livid, irate and obscenity spewing rape survivors harassed me, demanding aan apology for my suggestion that SLUT WALKERS wise up to their denial of political context and personal consequence.

I learned something in all this.  Many young women today think that feminism and "freedom" begins and ends with their access to sex with men.    

SLUT WALK women consider themselves "free"  when they call the shots - sexually speaking.  That's it.  That's freedom to a SLUT WALKER.

Rush Limbaugh calls her "Buy a lick."
Oh, and one more important, critical caveat informs the SLUT WALK philosophy of feminism. 

They also believe that women who dress in provocative clothing are not necessarily seeking a sexual encounter with anyone. Never assume, SLUT WALKERS claim, that a woman in a low-cut dress wants you to touch her breasts.  Never assume a woman in fishnet is a hooker.  SLUT WALKERS stand firm on this.

And this is the only point, the singular issue, that is non-controversial  All women, irrespective of dress, action or words, should be free from sexual battery, assault and harassment.

And that's why I thought SLUT WALKERS would be all over the media in support of Ms. Karen Kraushaar and Ms. Sharon Bialek's claims of sexual harassment; the one thing they say that makes real sense.

 “I’m walking for someone who is currently being sexually abused and isn’t able to speak out," Minneapolis resident Anna Giuliano said as she marched in the SLUT WALK.

So - what's up?  Why isn't Ms. Giuliano once again in the media,  supporting Ms. Karen Kraushaar and Ms. Sharon Bialek?  

Heck, why isn't someone, anyone in that group of women speaking out?

Hurling insults 
In the past few days, Republican operatives have begun the slow character assassination of the women Cain assaulted.  They are isolated, maligned and destroyed because they came forward to tell their stories. 

Kraushaar's entire financial history, personal nuances and romantic relationships came under attack.  And yesterday Rush Limbaugh had the audacity to call Ms. Bialek,  Ms."Buy-A-Lick." 

I thought SLUT WALKERS would rise up - insist that justice be done to the man who refuses to take responsibility for the sexual and professional damage he did to these women.

Am I wrong to think this?

If the mission of the SLUT WALK is more than flaunt,  am I wrong to expect SLUT WALK leaders to speak in support of Kraushaar and Bialek as they are ripped to shreds by Republican operatives?

Unlike SLUT WALK women, Bialek and Kraushaar never sought the tag  "slut."   But you better believe - they're wearing it today.

For those of you who have been asleep all week. . . 

At a news conference in New York on Monday, Bialek said Herman Cain made a sexual advance one night in July 1997, when she went to Washington to meet him and ask for help finding work. The encounter occurred while the two were in a car.

"Instead of going into the offices he suddenly reached over and he put his hand on my leg, under my skirt toward my genitals," she said. "He also pushed my head toward his crotch," she added.

The experience left her rattled, depressed and angry.

Meanwhile,  at the same time, in another part of the country, Kraushaar was stepping forward to complain to the National Restaurant Association of harassment by Cain, who was the association's chief executive.  To silence her and dismiss her claims, she was forced to leave her position at the National Restaurant Association and agreed to a $45,000 settlement from the restaurant group, if went away and promised to never tell her story.

When Kraushaar learned that Cain was running for President, she didn't want her name dragged into any of this - didn't want to be called names and humiliated.

When her case against Cain was outed by Politico, she remained in the shadows.
Kraushaar never wanted to be called a "slut."

But when Bialek stepped forward, she did too.  

Joel P. Bennett, the Washington lawyer who represented Kraushaar in her calims against Cain, announced her invitation to other women who have been harassed by Cain.  She wants them to join in a news conference to demonstrate solidarity and truth against Cain's blatant and irrational denials. 

Dead Feminists speak out!  
Since the SLUT WALK organization in the Twin Cities is ignoring this issue, The Dead Feminist Society of Minnesota will highlight it at our January meeting.  Watch for a formal announcement about the following:
On January 18th, join The Dead Feminists Society of Minnesota, when they hosts a presentation by Donna Dunn, Executive Director of the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault. 
With over 20 years of experience in community based private non-profits, Ms. Dunn will share with us her perspective on the ramifications of workplace harassment and the legal consequences of rape and assault.
You're never be called a "slut" when you hang with feminists.  In our circle you're a strong, forthright, powerful woman.   Always.  Count on it. 
Walk the walk - talk the talk. 
 A long time ago, a wise man wrote, "By their fruits you will know them."  The Dead Feminists Society honors our mothers and grandmothers; Susan B. Anthony,  Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Gloria Steinem and Grace  and Claire Deason.

If the choice is between sluts and feminists, we know who we are and where we stand.

The walk is over.  The sluts are silent.

And the proof, my dear, is in the pudding.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Silenced by those who should love us

Somewhere, out there, people are afraid to voice opinion.

I know this for fact, because so many have asked where I get my "courage."

We're living through a sad and anxious time, when those who disagree are shamed into silence, and those who bully are allowed to advance.  Ideas still matter.  Words still hurt.  No two people see the world in the same way.  And without the freedom to advance a contrary opinion, we are all slaves.

This past week, I've received violent, angry, frightening emails and phone messages from obviously inebriated, drugged and illogical people, threatening me because I spoke my opinion on the Slutwalk.

Without contrary opinion, we are all slaves.
Their rage and threats concern me; not for the reason one might expect.

I'm not intimidated by obscenity or conflict.  Nor am I silenced by irrational people.

I do know, however, many people who choose to not speak because they are afraid of the backlash.  I know strong, forthright men and women who have been bullied into silence, who shy from discussion, sharing of ideas and dialogue because they cannot countenance the anger they inspire in others.

And I wish, oh how I wish, those who disagree could put their little private hurts aside, and learn to listen and grow.

I have no doubt that Slutwalking women have a great deal to teach me.

They cannot teach, however, with hate speech.

Odd - how the people who want to do away with violence can, without intention, perpetuate its evil arch.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Media, message and misogyny - Slutwalk hurts Minnesota women.

Don't ask.  I won't be there.

Don't try to sell me a tee shirt.  I don't want your bumper sticker.  

I'm not a slut.  Nope.  Never have been.  Never will be.

And I don't think the "Slutwalk" teaches anyone anything.  (Click this link to see my interview with Kare 11 news.)

The men lined up along the side of the road, wearing "I love sluts" tee shirts are a bit too titillated by this thing to make me comfortable.

In my experience; when men are amused, women lose.

Slutwalk organizers don't agree.  They like the attention - from the men, from the media, from the mob.

The organizers actually say the following as a justification for using the "s" word: "Now that we have your attention. . ."

Too late.  Too sad.

Too ignorant of message, media and the politics of misogyny.

I'm afraid this whole thing is too insulting and demeaning to teach anything to anyone.

No - this "march" will not change a single rapist's mind. It will, however, please and tease the men (and women) who think all women's issues are a joke.
When men are amused, women lose.

Slutwalk, organized by a generation of women ignorant of the real work of feminism,  is a frat party gone sour.

Its meaning is lost, lost, lost in its delivery.

But hey - - if the prevalent world-wide "rape culture" disappears because women prance down our streets in lingerie and fishnet, I'm happy to eat my words.

Meanwhile, the whole thing makes me sad.  And it makes my little sisters look stupid, desperate and ignorant of our common history and the fragile, ever-eroding political power of Minnesota feminism.

It's come to this.  Young women can think of no other way to get their message out.

Unable to recognize the power of their choices, they chose folly over ferocity.  Unable to recognize how they are being victimized, they jump into the cage and call themselves free.

Young women, uninformed women, well intended women hungry for feminist affiliation, driven by limited vision and manipulated by media - show their communities how little they ask by way of respect, humanity or decency.

They don't want justice - if they did, the cry for justice would be louder than their self-depreciation.  

Ignorant of message, media and misogyny.
 They don't want fairness - if they did, their ranks would be filled with the women who are most vulnerable to sexual assault; women of color, disabled women, elderly women, poor women.

No.  They want attention.  And they are willing to stoop, stoop, stoop to get it.

This is how low they go.

This is how they break their sisters' hearts.

Really?  Who cares.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Having a little trouble with your metaphors? Is that what's bothering you, Bunky??


The Annual English Teachers' awards 
for best student metaphors/analogies

These gems were found in actual student papers!   Enjoy! 

His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like
underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.

She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just
before it throws up.

Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.

He was as tall as a six-foot, three-inch tree.

The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling
ball wouldn't.

From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie,
surreal quality, like when you're on vacation in another city and
Jeopardy comes on at 7:00 p.m. instead of 7:30.

The hailstones leaped from the pavement, just like maggots when you fry
them in hot grease.

Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the
grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left
Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at
4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph.

John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had
also never met.

He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy
who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those
boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at
high schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one
of those boxes with a pinhole in it.

He fell for her like his heart was a mob informant, and she was the East

Even in his last years, Granddad had a mind like a steel trap, only one
that had been left out so long, it had rusted shut.

Shots rang out, as shots are wont to do.

The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law George. But unlike George,
this plan just might work.

The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating
for a while.

He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck, either, but a
real duck that was actually lame, maybe from stepping on a land mine or

The ballerina rose gracefully en pointe and extended one slender leg
behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.

It was an American tradition, like fathers chasing kids around with
power tools.

He was deeply in love. When she spoke, he thought he heard bells, as if
she were a garbage truck backing up

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Nothing attractive about "mellow"

Have you ever been mellow?
Olivia Newton John sang a song in the 1970s that drove me a little batty.

The lyrics were something like, "Have you ever been mellow?    Have you ever let someone else be strong?"

The words bug me because, no; I can't say I ever have.  Been "mellow," I mean. 

We made a difference

There came a time in the 1970s when the quest for "mellow"was endemic.  The previous decade left us exhausted.  We had tried for a decade to change everything about our world;  our families, our love-relationships, our racial relations. We wanted a world with clean air and water, trees and wildlife.

And we made a difference.  Because of our protest, more women moved into the work force.  Because our brothers and friends burned their draft cards, the war in Vietnam was shortened and the draft eradicated.  Because we dared to instigate, Jim Crow laws dissolved into history.

His administration hated dissent.
But we did these things at great personal sacrifice.  The hard work left us weak, vulnerable and disillusioned.

Our president called us names

Our fatigue made perfect sense. Those were hostile, angry times.

The cruel war was raging.  At home, our  president called us "effete" for standing up for our liberties, "arrogant" for protesting the war and "elite" for pushing for investigation of his administration.  His administration hated dissent.

Those were violent, frightening times.  While the anti-war demonstrations across the nation grew in number and intensity, military and police action against us became more and more aggressive.

On May 4, 1970, four Kent State students were killed; shot by the National Guard while protesting the war in Vietnam. 

The violence was part of everything
We were never, never allowed to look away from the violence.

Every day broadcast news brought vivid, ugly images into our living rooms.  Night after night we sat together and watched images of our young men fight the first war our nation ever lost.

We watched our boyfriends, brothers and dads kill and die.

And the bodies.  The media allowed us to see the corpses of our brothers, boyfriends, friends and fathers returned to us in body bags, day after day after day.

Evening newscasters didn't joke with each other in those days; no one laughed at the events of our world.  These were the days of real media, real news.  These were the days before we expected our journalists to entertain.

Innocence lost

We were the Sunday school generation of the 1950s.  Every day of our elementary school career, we rose together in unity, placed our tiny hands over our hearts and pledged allegiance to the flag of the United States of America.

And they lied to us.  All of them.  Our teachers, our politicians, our parents.  Hard to imagine today, but being lied to was a shocking thing in the 1970s.

It hurt us.

More than anything else, however, it made us want to do better than had been done to us. We felt like we were part of something leading to a new world - a new creation.  The dawning of a new age.

In order to build it, however, we were going have to stay the course - fight the good fight.

But my generation was tired.

Olivia wanted us to be as "mellow" as possible.
"Mellow" became a quest
And so, when Olivia asked if we had ever thought about being "mellow," many of us answered, "damn straight."

Not me.  I didn't have the privilege of "mellow."  My father was dead; my mother and I were alone.  She needed me sober, straight and sane.  I was not about to let her down by using drugs.

But I know many individuals who did everything they could to be as mellow as possible.  

Pot, cocaine, heroin and LSD did the trick.  Instant mellow.  Memory loss.

I had friends who lived on drugs.  They pressured me - sure they did.

"Open your mind," one friend said. "Turn off, turn in, turn your mind around."

I assured him that there were still those among us who all ready had an open mind.  And the last thing my mother needed was a stoned daughter.

Take a baby boomer to lunch this week.  

You don't have to be an old hippie to feel the outrage over the way our media is working to sell us on new and better ways to make the rich wealthier.

If you feel it, you're not alone.  Trust me.  Many Baby Boomers (like me) are on to what's happening today.  And we don't like it.

If you're walking through the street sometime and you encounter a Boomer, think for a moment of all we did and the work we left undone.

Don't assume we're "mellow." Many of us are still mad as hell.

Ask questions.  We're always happy to tell our stories.

All we are saying is give peace a chance. 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The bad mommy in us all

I'm writing a play about motherhood.

All of my plays, in one way or another, are about my relationships with my two daughters.

This play, in particular, is about the following; my biological and much-loved mother, the woman who mothered me with her friendship - and a serious critique of my own job as a mom.

For the past twenty years I've taken credit for my kids' lives.
For the past twenty-something years I have taken full credit for my daughters' wonderful, creative and excellent lives.

I guess that's not a sin.  Lately, however, it occurred to me that most of the work raising these kids was done by the people we all hung around, and the messages they received from the media.

Of course, I controlled most of the media when they were little binks. . .

I don't know.  Maybe I was right in the first place.  Maybe I'm the main source of their success!

My mother certainly thought the same thing of herself.

Of course, I agreed with her.  There's no doubt in my mind that, without my mother, I'd be living today in some damn trailer down by the river.

If not for my mother I'd be living today in a trailer .
Still - comparing my mother's mothering to the way I raised my children is an apples and oranges event.

This play will be interesting.

The title?  "The Simple Truth."

Will you come to the public reading?  I hope so. . .

Saturday, September 3, 2011

For love or money

I found the chops to walk away.
I used to think I needed a $60 thousand salary to make ends meet.

I was terrified to leave my well-paid position as a curriculum writer for a here-unmentioned online university.

Even so, on October of 2008, as the market crashed and the Great Recession terrified the nation, I found the chops to walk away from a job that made me sick.

In those days, my "boss" was a thirty-something frustrated poet, trying to find her inner "tough-guy" at the workplace.  I liked her.  I really liked her.

No matter.  For some odd reason, she chose to try out her new Nazi skills on me.

Surrounded by people twenty, thirty years younger does not have to be a bad experience.  The harsh stuff happens when you are treated like a child by most of them, and ignored by the others.

I remember the first time my staff went to "happy hour" - my entire staff, mind you - and didn't invite me.

My feelings - - my poor, baby-tender hearted feelings - were seriously hurt.  I thought my colleagues were my friends.  I thought we had shared values, shared goals, and shared respect.

I look back on those days and chuckle.  My ignorance of the American workplace was stunning.  My innocence, even at age 59, was almost pathetic.

Walking away was the most terrifying, provocative and worthy thing I have ever done.

And I don't regret it.

Somewhere, out there, on the Tuesday after Labor Day, an alarm will go off in a lonely bedroom.

Brown haired, blurry eyed and a little unconscious.
A thirty-something-year-old woman who would rather write poetry will rise, shower, pull on her panty hose and hop the bus to downtown Minneapolis.

Brown haired, blurry eyed, and a little unconscious, she'll enter her password to her corporate computer and begin another day, like the day before and the day before - identical to the all the days to come.

I'll be here - on my screened-in front porch, drinking in the last golden days of summer and sipping my home-brewed Caribou french roast.  The newspaper in my lap, and new ideas for my next play dancing through my brain, I'll rethink the dialogue I'm writing, reconsider the plot development, reconfigure my strategy to get the thing on stage.

My former boss has more money than do I. 

And I have birdsong, fading petunias, and the hope of a visit from my three-year-old friend, Brigid.  Brigid wants me to help her decide who she will be on Halloween.

Sixty thousand dollars?

By now,  Miss Boss makes three times that salary.

And I've never been happier.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Fewer and farther between. . .

Haven't seen much from me lately, I know. . .

I'm writing a new play - and have several deadlines this fall.  The title is "SWEET TRUTH," and the staged reading is November 3 at Theatre in the Round Players, in Minneapolis.

I'll be posting more when the writing slows. . .

Check back - and thanks for your support!! 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Nightmare of fascism still terrifies

( Here, by request - is the reprint of the essay published by 
Pioneer Press, Chicago Tribune, NPR Common 
and throughout the internet. 
First published November 20, 2001.
Still holds true, don't you think? ) 

I had the dream again.

It is a Technicolor, not-ready-for-prime-time dream, spiced with foul language and blood-chilling foreboding.

In my dream, I am held captive in the front seat of a shabby sedan by a fat, dark haired man with a gun. I sit as far from him as I can, silent in my fear.

The nauseating foreshadow of death floats through the air of the grubby automobile. I squirm as my obese captor brags about how easy it was to trap me.

Piece of cake, he snorts. All he had to do was follow me for a week and study my predictable life. He knew where I went for coffee, where I bought my groceries, how often I take out my garbage.

Stupid, stupid, stupid, I say to my dreaming myself. Why didn't I change jobs? Why didn't I move from my small town? Now, I am sunk.

This awful man is going to murder me and leave my body by the side of the road and no one will know where to find me.

My heart pounds in my ears, my stomach aches with nausea. But I have hope. Inside the fat man"s jacket is a small cell phone. I feel it as he pulls me toward him. While he laughs, I slide my hand into his pocket and try to dial 911.

But my hand is shaking, and I am discovered. I grab for the phone. My fatal mistake. He reaches for my throat and I awaken with a cry.

I don't need to go to a gypsy to understand my dream. It is a nightmare of fascism.

And it makes sense. Even in my waking hours, I am afraid. Not of the anthrax bacteria or the release of smallpox into the air. I don't believe anyone would bother to poison me, tucked away in this tidy little Minnesota town.

Neither am I afraid of planes striking my home or my children dying in their beds under shell fire of some half-crazed suicidal idiot. My imagination cannot stretch that far.

My fears are more practical. In the past few years, I watched them creep upon me like smog over a bright city.

They began when President Bill Clinton denied responsibility for violating a young woman in the Oval Office. They increased when Gov. Jesse Ventura shouted shame and discouragement to a young mother who came to him for help, and when Sen. Tom Neuville asked again for our Legislature to take away a woman's right to decide if and when she wanted to bear children.

Following the last election, when Supreme Court violated my voting franchise by naming the next president of the United States, and a chill of dread began to churn in my soul.

Even here in Northfield, I have reasons to be fearful. My local school district is so afraid of adolescent sexuality, drug use and music videos they are willing to suspend my civil rights to proselytize for Jesus Christ.

The Northfield police built additional barricades to protect the "Safety Center" from assault from some unknown enemy.

Firefighters are ready and able to evacuate the city in the event of bio-chemical attack. And my daughter is afraid to open our mail.

I wish I could believe this all began with the events of Sept. 11. But I know better.

Fascism crept upon post-World War I Europe with the same soft, calm footsteps it is using these days in the United States. As always, it begins with a loss of empathy and demonizing of the poor. A splash of patriotism here. A dab of nationalism there. Here a little affluence, there a little poverty.

Then one day, a shot rings out, a tower tumbles, an airline halts. The economy shivers. Rights are suspended and tyrants rule.

Last month, the House of Representatives and the Senate lined up behind President Bush in a mad dash to suspend the civil liberties of ordinary folks. Neither with a bang, nor a whimper, our liberty was trashed. With the exception of Sen. Russ Feingold, no one spoke a word of protest.

If there were a vaccine to prevent the decline of democracy, I know a few million people who would not even bother to show up for the inoculation.

Who will save us from this national nightmare? No one. It is impossible to dial for help when the fat man holds the phone.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Dear Kristine - I look at the Republicans and wonder. . . Why doesn't God love me?

Dear Kristine -

You're an ordained Presbyterian minister, right?

I lost my job in 2008.
So - I figure you know a few things about God and stuff.

Can you help me with this little problem?  I wonder why God created a worm like me?

And if I'm not a worm, why is God so unkind to me and so loving to people like Tim Pawlenty and his attractive wife, Mary?

Here's my sad tale.

I lost my job in 2008.  Since then, my home has gone into foreclosure, my oldest child got pregnant by her no-good boy friend.

In 2010, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer - but I can't get treatment because I don't have health insurance.

Even so, I've had this sense that God loves me - that I have something to look forward to.

Until today.

Today, someone sent me this Republican video, promoting Pawlenty's religious faith.  When I saw Tim and Mary,  how happy they are, I realized how awful it must be for God to look at such a loser as I.

I have been a faithful person all my life.  Even so, I can't say that God has ever spoken directly to me.  In fact, I've always thought that people who said stuff like that were probably mentally ill or something.

But now, everywhere I look, all I see are beautiful, rich people, touting their religion and telling me that God wants them to rule over me.

Look at Pawlenty, for instance.

Michelle Bachmann claims God wants her to be President.
Tim Pawlenty was governor of Minnesota.  According to him, he was a great leader.  Last Sunday he bragged to David Gregory (on Meet the Press) that he was the first Governor of Minnesota to shut down state government -  - and that was more than Michelle Bachmann has ever done in her whole life.

Michelle Bachmann is running for president because God wants her to do so.

And here, in my own state, the Republican legislators tell us that God wants every woman pregnant,  every couple straight, and every child educated at home.

What do I know?  I don't know nothing.  I never talked to God in my life.  And when it comes to jobs, my work was nothing compared to Pawlenty's great accomplishment of shutting down Minnesota.  I was only a school teacher.  I couldn't even shut down my second grade when they ticked me off.

 So, what's the deal?  What do I tell my twelve-year-old when she asks me if I'm going to die?  What do I tell my wife when she asks how she and my children will survive after I'm gone, or why I'm so "down" when I should be trying to get a job, get medical insurance, and deal with my cancer?

I'm pretty much at the end of my rope here.

I understand that I'm not lovable.  But why are Tim and Mary so loved by God?

 Sign me -
The Reluctant Skeptic

Mary Pawlenty is so holy she squeaks.

Dear Relly -

 Your letter is so pathetic I'm inclined to believe you're putting me on.

But since I am a woman of faith, I have to believe you.  So - I'm going to take seriously your questions and do my best to help.

First - my condolences.  It's miserable to lose a job.  It's awful to work in a career that one hates - - but it sounds like you loved teaching.  Please accept my sympathy for your loss.

I have to tell you - I have all ready seen the video you reference.  I found it so offensive, I could hardly make it through my day. An earlier blog describes my personal relationship with Tim Pawlenty.  He is not a good man - and he is certainly not a man of God.  I don't know you as well as I do him, but I can tell by reading your letter that your conscience is clear, your life is righteous.

Here's what I know for certain; God is a guess.  None of us know why, where, when or how the Universe operates.  Morality is vague; only through pain and delight are we able to monitor our state of grace.

He's smug; he doesn't have a chin. He's Pawlenty.
I do know this; God is good.  And none of this nonsense will go unpunished.

These wealthy, arrogant, ignorant pedestrians will not prevail.  Public servants with real concern for humanity still abound.  John Marty, Mark Dayton are watching out for our well being as best they can.

I recommend you tell your story often.  Let your legislative representative know of your circumstance.  Make noise.  Seek, and you shall find resources.

And look to the light.  You are about to be a grandfather.  Granted, not in idea circumstances, but a grandfather nonetheless.  Celebrate the new life in your family.

When the government is up and running again, contact your county and ask for help.  You might be eligible for Minnesota Care, Medical Assistance or another form of assistance.

I'm not going to recommend you go to worship.  I wish I could - but my experience with organized religion is negative.  The last thing you need is the pain of an indifferent or cruel faith-based community.

So, buck up.  Be strong.  Believe in yourself.  Forget the Pawlentys.  My mother always said that when we compare ourselves to others, we always come up short or tall.  It's never good to think of ourselves as better or worse than others.

And I will keep you in my prayers.  Good luck, Relly.

Don't let the bastards get you down.

Sincerely yours,
Pastor Kristine

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Gays, lesbians, and the question that pushes history

Should men be allowed to marry men? Women be allowed to marry women?

I don't know if anyone should ever be "allowed" to marry. My feeling about marriage is as skewed as you might expect from a twice married, retired cynic.

But that's the point, isn't it? Why should my feelings about who marries whom mean anything to anyone?

Although I have no dog in this fight, I was thrilled with the recent decision in New York. I guess I'm in good company. Hollywood elites are twittering their delight over the news. Apparently Steve Martin was so enthused, he proposed to Alec Baldwin.

My inability to get up a strong opinion on who marries whom doesn't seem to stop my state legislators from spending their time fantasizing over the sex lives of lesbians-in-love and gay men.

Here in Minnesota, we're gearing up for an amendment to our state constitution to make certain the marriage of homosexual or lesbian couples never happens on our sacred soil.

Asking citizens to decide this issue is a little like asking the Carpet Baggers of 1870 if blacks should vote, the 1945 Klan if Jews should marry Baptists, the 1955 members of Yale's Skull and Bones if the university should admit women.

Our Republican legislators articulate a strange justification for the vote, which will be on our November 2012 ballot.

"This is not about hatred, it is not about discrimination or intolerance," Republican Representative Steve Gottwalt said of the amendment. "I have faith we as Minnesotans can have a reasonable dialogue on this issue characterized by respect and decency and allow the people of Minnesota to decide."

That's where I'm tossed. I'm never too comfortable letting the "people" decide on issues that move us forward.

Why? Because most of us like things as they are.

Susan B. Anthony spent her entire adult life fighting for women's suffrage. She died before women were granted the vote in 1920; a decision seventy-three years in the making.

I sleep well at night, knowing I live in a republic, where elected officials make decisions on my behalf. If I lived in a democracy where the masses ruled, I fear my sex would still be the legal property of fathers and husbands; my female children would not have the right to inherit or work. No - - "the people" are not usually the best force for history's epiphany.

I hate to see these important, critical issues handed over to people like me - who care when called upon, but don't deserve this kind of power over the happiness of others.

When we start thinking that the world is becoming a more humane, sane and open place, remember this: Twenty-nine states have adopted constitutional amendments restricting marriage as between a man and a woman, and 12 other states have passed laws to that effect, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

Here in the heartland, the battle lines are forming.

Hold onto your hat. It going to be a long, bumpy ride.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Another day in la-la-land. . .

Few of us afforded a winter vacation this year. The economy crushed our plans for Hawaii . We're not the kind of people who complain, however. The tulips were extraordinary this spring, and the tomatoes are budding early. As we say in Minnesota, things "could be worse."

The problem is, they probably will.

Like the rest of the nation, our state legislature is populated with people who don't care if government shuts down.

Although our governor has offered concessions to the far-right agenda, the men and women elected by the Ipod addicted "Dancing With the Stars" gang are running with scissors and taking us with them.

There's an election in seventeen months-
-an opportunity to change the mood of this nation.

I'm not sure Obama is brave enough, strong enough or convicted enough to raise a middle class in America.

I do know, however, that his rhetoric is pure.

I'm watching for candidates who won't leave us here; who care about this nation and the good it can achieve.

A great man once said, "the labor is great and the workers are few."

The cheap and easy way is to salute, march in file, and ignore those of us who are hurting.

More than ever, this nation belongs to the electorate.

I hope, this time, we take the election seriously, remove our ear plugs long enough to acknowledge the growing poverty of our communities.

One thing we know for certain - government will grind on, with or without us. Now is the time to make certain those who do the grinding remember who they serve.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Wiener ettiquette or, Ten rules to keep Mr. Wiener under wraps

You never think it will happen to you. You're out to dinner with a colleague; a 62-year-old balding clergyman you have known for over forty years. You know his wife, you admire his children.

He's always been a little in love with you; you know this. Still, he's a consummate gentleman and you're always comfortable in his company. You're a little charmed by his hearing aids, and the way he snorts, ever so slightly, when he laughs.

Then, after three glasses of Pinot Noir, he reaches for his cell phone.

"I have something," he says, "I want to show you. A picture I took today. I get so excited when I think of you."

Yup. It happened to me.

Let me make one thing perfectly clear - I'm not the kind of woman men expose themselves to - in any shape or form.

I'm no babe.

I'm more of a dumpling than anyone's darling.

So, if this can happen to me, it can happen to anyone.

The experience made me wonder, what's wrong with these guys? Have they forgotten the basic rules of human interaction; don't show your wee-wee to anyone?

In response to this horrific interaction (which ended a forty-year friendship and devastated me for weeks), I sought out the following rules for wiener exposure. I share them with you and hope they lead to more respectful, thoughtful approaches to that critical moment, when the wiener asks to be invited to the party.

For those of you who all ready know the best ways to control your wiener, please accept this review of simple etiquette as a brief (probably necessary) refresher tutorial.
Rule #1) Don't show your wiener to the other schoolchildren. Even if you think they might be impressed.

Rule #2) Your wiener is not welcome to dinner unless it is invited. No surprise show-ups.
 This is especially true if your wiener is thirty - years -old, or older. 
Rule #3) "If you show me yours, I'll show you      
mine" is not funny. Not even if you offer to show yours first.
Rule #4) The power of the wiener is nothing compared to the power of the press. Never whip out your wiener to a truth-telling journalist or a prolific blogger. (Ahem) 

Rule #5) Your wiener is created to be camera shy. If your wiener insists on having his picture published, it's time to have a talk with it and explain a few things. This is called "counseling." Your wiener will feel most comfortable if you accompany it into therapy. Resist your desire to video record this counseling session and post it on Facebook.
Rule #6) If you get caught showing your sixty-two-year-old wiener to anyone, it is not an acceptable excuse to say, "I only did it to show you my prostate so you'd understand why I have to pee every half hour..."

Rule #7) If your wiener had its own hands, it could take its own photo for you. But since it doesn't, it can't. Don't lie to me and tell me you don't know who took the picture unless you think I'm as stupid as your ridiculous wiener.

Rule #8) When you get caught trying to expose your wiener to a woman, tell her "Blame it on bad judgement!" She won't care - she'll still be freaked - but she'll agree. Bad, bad judgement.

Rule #10) This is the most important rule: Never let your wiener do your thinking. This is actually a sensible rule for Congressmen, husbands and every Presbyterian clergyman I've ever known, come to think of it.
Finally - if, in spite of all your best intentions, you cannot stop yourself from taking a picture of your wiener, do us all a big favor.

Keep it to yourself - or better yet, do a quick two step.

Peek once, delete.

Then, get over yourself.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Kristine Holmgren's ebook flying off the shelf! Gotta Kindle? Get this book!

I always thought that mature men would make mature mates.

I was so wrong.

After my unfortunate divorce from my indifferent and distant husband, I convinced myself my romantic life was not over.

I was, after all, only 50-years-old. My children were nearly grown; the best was still before me.

So, like so many women singled in the 20th century, I turned to the internet to meet the man of my dreams.

Okay, okay, okay - maybe my expectations were a little out-of-line.

Nonetheless, I persevered.

Years. Yes, years. Too many, truth be told.

Some of us are slow learners. It took a while for me to get real about dating after fifty.

But when I finally woke up and smelled the coffee, I decided the caffeine was no longer my beverage of choice. I decided to become a fan of cranberry/apple juice - and to walk away from the whole scene.

But before I walked, I trolled the ponds for every available fish in the sea.

My book is about my adventures in risk-taking, my courageous thrust into the world of middle aged men.

After His Heart profiles the many ways eternal hope springs in the heart, irrespective of wrinkles, increased cholesterol levels or diminished ability to navigate an automobile after dark.

More than anything, my little book is a cautionary tale to any married woman who thinks the grass is greener out here, where the single old women romp.

Got a Kindle? Get my book!


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Tim Pawlenty: The bully who would be King

"I try not to say that God is on my side, but I strive to be on God's side." - Tim Pawlenty

This is the tale of a bully who ruined Minnesota and tried to destroy me. Now, he stands ready to be named as Vice President running mate for the Republican candidate for President of the United States.

I was Chaplain for less than two months at the Minnesota Department of Corrections Facility at Shakopee when one of Pawlenty's men told me to shut up.

It happened during new employee training.  I asked one-too-many questions about a new program coming to the Shakopee women's facility; the InnerChange Freedom Initiative. 

InnerChange Freedom Initiative (IFI) is a faith-based prison ministry founded by Chuck Colson.

If the name rings a bell (or, sets off an alarm) it is because Chuck Colson is a convicted felon; a Watergate conspirator who spent time in federal prison.

 (See below for a brief overview of Colson's criminal history.)

Abusing Christianity, abusing vulnerable citizens - Colson's tax-funded "ministry"

I know Chuck Colson. I went to school with Chuck Colson.

After his release from prison, Colson applied to and was accepted by Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS).

I was a student at PTS when Colson arrived on the scene.  I remember how he strutted through campus, surrounded by lackeys who schlepped his books so he was free to glad-hand at will.

Strutting was about all Colson did.

He never enrolled in classes - he didn't have to.  He never intended to study with the rest of us and we all knew it.

Colson's time at PTS was a cynical, premeditated strategy to attract religious Republican funders.

Republican financiers played right into his hands.  Within months of his admission to PTS,  Colson disappeared,  endowed with enough capital necessary to start his mega-million "Prison Fellowship ministry;" the tax exempt, tax guzzling, tax shelter Colson needed to launch the second half of his corrupt, ridiculously profitable and vacuous life.
Chuck Colson - Strutting was all he did.

The InnerFaith Freedom Initiative program is an outgrowth of Colson's tax-exemt Prison Fellowship mega-ministry.

Prior to George W. Bush's terms in office, Prison Fellowship was funded by individuals and conservative Christian congregations and denominations.

When President Bush lifted the curtain between church and state through the creation of the Office of Faith-Based Initiatives, all that changed.

Chuck Colson started InnerFaith Freedom Initiative, began drawing down tax dollars and became filthy rich.

Colson's IFI program uses public facilities, public employees and tax dollars to assure that certain, preselected offenders receive mentoring while in prison, housing when released and jobs on the "outside."  Their price for this?  They submit to a "conversion" to Christianity.

Your tax dollars - used to select special offenders - to provide special privileges - and to convert them to Christianity.
Conversion to Christianity is not, however, the mission of our state and federal prisons but to hold safe and separate the incarcerated felons of Minnesota.

Selecting specific felons for faith development is beyond the scope of any prison.   Faith development is the goal of a church community, a faith-based system.   Faith development is voluntary - and best conducted in trust-centered, faithful communities where free people make free choices.

Asking the Department of Corrections to do "faith development" is akin to asking a plumber to rewire your house.

When we teach Christian, church-centered values in religious settings we grow community. When we construct a Christian community in a state prison, we grow gangs of righteous offenders.

Pawlenty wanted IFI to grow in Minnesota.  He especially wanted the program to expand to the women's prison at Shakopee - where I was Chaplain. 

At Shakopee, the IFI program would be supervised by the chaplain; by me.  And so it came to pass that I asked questions - lots of questions.

And Associate Commission, Eric Skon  said the InnerChange Freedom Initiative (IFI) program was a "done deal" at Shakopee women's prison.  He said Governor Pawlenty wanted it,  loved it and was bound to have it.

When I asked him if the governor understood the program had been outlawed in the Iowa prisons, Skon told me to shut up.

"He knows it's a can of worms," he said,  "You need to shut up about this. It's going to happen." 

Fighting for a Spot

As soon as the Shakopee offenders got wind of the upcoming IFI program, the competition began.

Women lined up to speak with me about getting into the program. Women learned of the special favors and demanded to be considered.

"This is not fair," one inmate complained, "How can they offer this to only a few people?  Why can't the rest of us have the same opportunities?"

Indeed.  Offenders admitted to the program receive a "coach" in the facility, a community (or gang) to protect you,  and special tutoring.

When released from prison, IFI graduates get a job, housing and a mentor.

All off this in exchange for accepting You Know Who as your You Know What. 

Who wouldn't want that?"

Who, indeed.

People who value their personal integrity, perhaps.  People who don't believe in Jesus Christ, for starters.

The program is focused on a "Christ centered" life.   Jews, Muslims, Agnostics and others who will never accept Jesus Christ as the son of God need not apply

The big lie

Colson and his friends disclaim the charge that their program uses tax dollars.  They say the program is funded by voluntary contributions, nothing more.  Religious individuals and congregations committed to prison ministry are their only support.

Colson is a liar.

Here's where his lies got him in trouble in Iowa.
The offenders in IFI are recruited from across the prison, and housed together in state buildings using state-funded utilities and infrastructure.

The IFI staff are paid salaries laundered from the fees charged to the state.  IFI charges the state for their program - and then pays their staff with the revenue they receive from Minnesota.  Your tax dollars at work.

In addition to hiring and paying their staff with tax dollars, the program uses Minnesota state employees as support staff. They use our phone lines, our paper, pencils, markers.

And finally - the IFI staff is supervised by Minnesota Correctional security staff. These are folks hired and trained by state professionals in state funded programs.   Their work is to oversee the programs initiated by IFI - keeping their staff protected from offenders.  Once again, tax dollars.

In spite of all this, Colson claims his program operates with private funds only.

A liar or a fool?

Imagine if Colson were right. Although we know him to be a criminal, a liar and a huckster, imagine a prison system where a program like IFI was not supported by your tax dollars; a program where any religious organization could construct its own program within the prison. 
If Colson were telling the truth about IFI,  Muslim religious professionals would be free to demand that Minnesota institute a comparable program for the many incarcerated Muslims of Minnesota.  Roman Catholics, Methodists, Druids could all have special, specific programs for their believers. 
Imagine a prison  system where all faith systems share in an equal, established residential program for their special group.

Imagine cell blocks at each prison, running independent of each other, each focused on teaching the practices of Jews, Sunni Muslims, Wiccans.

Imagine the infrastructure necessary to maintain each program; the security risk to the offenders and to the rest of us.

Lucky for us, we don't have to imagine such a fiasco.   No - all we have to suffer is the IFI program.

And the Iowa courts found IFI unconstitutional in 2006.

That Was the Year That Was: How I got hurt by all this 

In 2006, I was Chaplain at Shakopee.  Remember - I was nervy enough to ask Minnesota leadership why the Minnesota Department of Corrections would want to get in bed with people like Colson and a program like IFI - so overtly illegal and unfair.

In 2006 Americans United For Separation of Church and State prevailed in Iowa and they would prevail anywhere else this ugly program attempted to draw down tax dollars.

If IFI were to begin at Shakopee, our prison would be the first to institute this illegal program in a women's facility.  My question - - why would we do this?

When I began to dig into the funding background of IFI in Minnesota, the warden of Shakopee told me to "back off" or I would be fired.

According to the warden, associate commissioner Erik Skon, commissioner Joan Fabian -  the Governor of Minnesota Tim Pawlenty wanted me fired. 

So important were the funders who support Colson's work.

My supervisor was program leader, Jim Verhoye. "We've never seen anything like this," Verhoye said, "from all across the organization. Never. For some reason, this is big stuff. So you have to take it underground. Keep it quiet, or it will be your job."

Of course, in the end, it was my "job." I was fired for speaking against this program.

But it was my "job" with a price tag.

Governments cannot fire employees for asking questions. Nor can they fire staff for attempting to protect citizens. The program I questioned is harmful; not only to the incarcerated women it assaults, but to all Minnesotans. When our constitutional rights erode, we all suffer.

And so I filed a law suit against them and in February of 2011.   After five years of struggle, they agreed to settlement of close to a quarter-million dollars.  Tax dollars. 

I knew I was right to sue. I knew I was right to win.

What I did not know, however, was this; why would the Governor or Minnesota endorse an illegal prison program?

And when I questioned the program, why was I a threat? Was more at stake than presented itself?

What was the real reason for my firing?

As the years passed, I learned the answer. 

God, Greed and the Governor

Other than his relationship with a certain group of evangelical Christians, Tim Pawlenty has no political base. Nor does he seem able to build upon his current status. He lacks the libertarian philosophy necessary to attract Tea Party conservatives and his flawed tax-reform positions are too bland for Republican fiscal conservatives.

The mother lode of Pawlenty support resides in Wooddale church; one of the wealthiest congregations in the nation.

Pawlenty is not a natural-born evangelical. He started out a poor, Catholic lad from working-class South St. Paul.

According to his autobiography, as his mother lay dying, Pawlenty promised her he would go to college. Apparently he never promised her he would be true and faithful to Roman Catholicism.

Since his 1987 marriage, Pawlenty has been a member of the mega church dominating the skyline of Eden Prairie, Minn.
Wooddale is the national evangelical epicenter of wealthy, conservative, right-wing politics.

The senior minister of Wooddale is Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals. He followed Ted Haggard who, in 2006 was discovered regularly visiting a male prostitute who also provided him with methamphetamine.

Haggard admitted his wrongdoing and resigned. In January 2009, Haggard admitted to a second homosexual relationship with a male church member on CNN-TV and other national media, and when asked, would not directly answer a question about his other possible homosexual relationships. Ted Haggard has recently started a new church.

The National Association of Evangelicals has an interesting tagline; "cooperation without compromise."

Wooddale Church serves as the central office for the association. As Chaplain, I worked with dozens of volunteers from Wooddale; congregants who frequently asked if they could invite the chair of the Republican party to participate in prison programs.

When I asked that they also invite the chair of the Democratic party, one of them said, "Our pastor tells us there's no such thing as a Christian democrat."

No. Wooddale is in the business of supporting Republican Christians for public office. If you don't believe me, phone and ask. I did.

I phoned Wooddale Church several weeks after the prison fired me. I asked if I could speak to someone who could tell me about the "culture" of the place.

The woman who took my call was eager to tell me that Mary and Tim Pawlenty were members; that Joan Fabian, the Commissioner for the Department of Corrections was intimately involved in the prison ministry, and that the church was proud to be anti-choice, anti-gay, pro-gun and anti-immigrant.

"We believe," she said, "that one party has the vision. We do all we can to advance that - all we can," she giggled, "without losing our tax status."

I laughed with her and hung up. I had my answer.

Pawlenty and his commissioners fired me because they were afraid I would offend the evangelical religious right. Pawlenty was afraid to disaffect the volunteers from Wooddale Church. He was afraid of questions, afraid where they lead.

Pawlenty and Colson. Cut from the same cloth.

Lord, have mercy.

**** A short study of a vacuous man ***

Charles Wendell Colson was born in Boston in October, 1931. After graduating from Brown University Colson joined the U.S. Marine Corps (1953-55). This was followed by the post of Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of the Navy (1955–56).

Colson was a member of the Republican Party and in 1956 he became Administration Assistant to Senator Leverett Saltonstall. In 1961 Colson became a partner in the Gadsby and Hannah Law Firm.

In 1969 Colson was appointed to the White House staff as Counsel to President Richard Nixon. Colson also began involved in the activities of the Committee to Re-Elect the President (CREEP). On 20th March, 1971, at a meeting of CREEP it was agreed to spend $250,000 "intelligence gathering" operation against the Democratic Party.

Colson and John Ehrlichman appointed E. Howard Hunt as a member of the White House Special Investigations Unit, the group who placed electronic devices in the Democratic Party campaign offices in an apartment block called Watergate. On 3rd July, 1972, Frank Sturgis, Virgilio Gonzalez, Eugenio Martinez, Bernard L. Barker and James W. McCord were caught by the police as they broke into the Watergate.

The phone number of E.Howard Hunt was found in address books of the burglars. The trial of Frank Sturgis, Virgilio Gonzalez, Eugenio Martinez, Bernard L. Barker, James W. McCord, E. Howard Hunt and Gordon Liddy began in Washington in January, 1973. All the men refused to explain who paid them to take part in the break-in. As a result they all received long prison sentences.

At that time, Colson began cooperating with federal prosecutors. In 1974, he entered a plea of guilty to Watergate-related charges. He also pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice in the Daniel Ellsberg case. He was given a one-to-three year sentence. However, he only served seven months at Alabama's Maxwell Prison.

In 1976, Colson founded Prison Fellowship Ministries, receiving tax dollars to visit offenders. In 1995, in cooperation with George W. Bush, Colson founded IFI with tax dollars and private funding.

In 2006 the program was found unconstitutional in Iowa.