Noblesse Oblige

By Matt VanScoik


I recently had the opportunity to go to Rome. Gary Krupp, an author I work with through the author publicity division at my company, Bohlsen Group, used to build medical facilities in New York, but his life has taken a more esoteric turn. For the last few years, Gary and his wife, Meredith, have been running a non-profit called Pave the Way Foundation, whose main goal is to build relationships between religions. They helped the Vatican digitize its archives, are helping to re-open the Orthodox Halki Seminary in Turkey and regularly help arrange interfaith tours to Israel, among numerous other things.

One of the projects they are working on now, be it by providence or happenstance, ended up being assigned to me. “Pope Pius XII and World War II: The Documented Truth” is a compilation of primary-source international evidence that reveals the wartime acts of the Vatican.

“The most noteworthy part of my trip was of course meeting Pope Francis himself.”

The Vatican has had more than its share of public relations problems, and I had always heard, as many have, that Pope Pius XII was either silent during the Holocaust or even complicit. As I began to review the evidence for myself, cracks began to form in what I thought I knew to be true.  Although it still seems to me that the Vatican supported Fascist governments to an extent, it is abundantly clear to me that the papal household and the Nazis had a deep gut-wrenching hatred for each other.

Among the interesting things t4295-06928hat you can read on Pave the Way Foundation’s well-organized library of 76,000 pages of documentation are: Nazi intelligence documents that name Pope Pius XII as a collaborator in the famous Valkyrie plot to assassinate Hitler, Nazi plans for the invasion of the Vatican and the assassination of Pius XII, and documents that show how Pius XII used his own life as leverage to halt the arrest of the Roman Jews.

Every day of this trip to Rome got more and more exciting to me as someone who is interested in military affairs, history and religion. At one point I told Gary that I needed to find a basement, because these jaw dropping experiences required me to find something deeper than floor level to facilitate the further extension of my dentition.

The most noteworthy part of my trip was of course meeting Pope Francis himself during a public audience where we presented him with a coin to commemorate a trip he had made to Israel.  I spoke some broken Spanish to him and he shook my hand with the tired but bright eyes of a man carrying the burdens of being both a political and spiritual leader who is trying his best to make a difference in a chaotic world.

“Noblesse oblige,” is a phrase I kept hearing during my trip. It means with nobility and station, comes great obligation.

Why one man is learning to drive again

photo (3)By Debra Des Vignes

For several years Tyrone C. was homeless and struggled to keep a job and find a place to stay. He felt alone and overwhelmed. Take a look at how one homeless veteran’s journey might look like.

Tyrone’s part-time job ended and he did not know where his next paycheck would come from. With his daughter in Indianapolis, he traveled by bus to stay with her and they looked for help, a place for a homeless veteran to stay. On his third day in Indianapolis he heard about the Hoosier Veterans Assistance Foundation (HVAF). From the moment a veteran enters HVAF’s housing, the goal is to help him or her regain stability and take back their life. The following day Tyrone spoke to a case manager and was provided supportive housing at HVAF’s Moreau property. At Tyrone’s request, his case manager connected him with one of HVAF’s partners, the Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic for legal help.

“The 53-year-old Marine Corps veteran couldn’t get behind the wheel.”

From the street.

Once housed, Tyrone had a barrier he faced that limited his mobility. His driving privileges had been indefinitely suspended since 1999. In fact, he was on a lifetime habitual traffic violator (HTV) status. The 53-year-old Marine Corps veteran couldn’t get behind the wheel.

The Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic represented Tyrone in successfully petitioning the Marion Circuit Court for a probationary, restricted license which allows him to drive to and from work, medical appointments, and rehabilitation programs. Although this type of license comes with significant restrictions, Tyrone learned in September that he will receive full driving privileges back in three years (which would be for the first time in 18 years!). He currently has probationary driving privileges, so he can drive to work and medical appointments once he has a vehicle.

Someone to turn to.

“It’s overwhelming, the outpouring of support. I get emotional sometimes because I definitely needed the help,” says Tyrone.

NCLC also represented Tyrone in seeking an expungement of his prior convictions. Although it has been moer than 15 years since his last conviction, a record can still present obstacles to getting a better job. This process will improve Tyrone’s prospects because it removes low-level convictions from the public record.

Tyrone has a lot to look forward to. He moves into his own one-bedroom apartment next month and is excited about driving again soon as well as having a clean record and a fresh start.

He says his life intersected with organizations and resources that made a difference and the results will last a lifetime. There’s no greater example than Tyrone to show us that along life’s journey, second chances remain within reach.


Debra Des Vignes is Vice President of Marketing, Communication and Public Relations at HVAF of Indiana.

Self-care: First step in the journey toward healing

By Dan Carpenter

“I am the most important person in the world.”

For many of us, all it takes to utter that proclamation is a little brass or a sense of humor.

For those on the journey to recovery as codependents of persons addicted to alcohol or other drugs, it is an act of liberation and of courage.

For the codependent, the journey upward and forward must first be a step back and a look inside.

For the codependent, the addiction is The Other – he or she who is out there God knows where doing the Devil knows what, and taking family and friends along for the ride to destruction as helplessly as he himself or she herself is carried.

The alcoholic, knowing better, takes one drink. Back home, the wife, the father, the lover, the friend worries, waits up, works the phone, prowls the bars, pays the bail and the bills, issues the ultimatums, shouts the indignation, pleads for common sense, makes excuses to the drinker’s boss, concocts lies for the neighbors, and generally sacrifices health and happiness to the cause of saving the life for which the codependent feels responsible.

Knowing better.

“For those on the journey to recovery as codependents of persons addicted to alcohol or other drugs, it is an act of liberation and of courage.”

Knowing, if he’ll just review his own record and consult the wealth of literature and the vast experience of others in his fix, that it doesn’t work.

Not helping the alcoholic hurts those of us who love him. Hurts like hell. And guess what? Helping the alcoholic hurts him. Often, to hell.

Freeing the alcoholic to find his own path to sanity and a decent life means overcoming one’s own aversion to feeling selfish. It means embracing self-care. It means stepping back to accept the futility of denying one’s powerlessness, and looking downward to find the sources of one’s impulses to control, to cure and to play the martyr.

It’s scary, just like the fundamental change that the alcoholic must undertake in order to escape the opposite trap of self-absorption. In each case, the most important and most avoided person in the universe must be confronted at last – the true self, warts and all, needs and not-really-needs.

In neither case can the journey be made alone. Just as not drinking and not using have proved impossible without the fellowship of love and without a surrender to a Higher Power of some definition, so goes the challenge of learning to sleep with the phone turned off, to spend the lawyer money on a long-overdue vacation, to tell your husband’s boss nothing and your own boss you’ll be happy to take on that time-intensive extra project. Oh, and did I mention Al-Anon and Alateen and meetings, sponsorship, meetings, prayer and meetings? Just like “your” alcoholic and his/her program. Only from this foundation of honesty and self-worth can real generosity be accomplished.

And guess what? “Your” alcoholic is very likely to feel, not resentment, but riddance from a resentment that codependence has only aggravated. That’s in the experience and literature also. In other words, you’re not alone as Number One. Go for it.


Dan Carpenter is a former columnist for The Indianapolis Star and the author of two books of observations and opinions from his long journalism career, Hard Pieces and Indiana Out Loud.   

Join is Nov. 8, 2014 at Fairbanks Recovery Center for Spirit & Place Festival event, “From Addiction and Loss to Wholeness.” Learn more

To Make Sure You Get There Alright


Matthew-BoultonBy Matthew Myer Boulton

Maybe it’s because of our location, once described as the country’s frontier and now as its heartland, “the crossroads of America.”  Or, speaking of roads, maybe it’s because our signature sporting event is a celebration not only of speed but also of the very idea of a 500-mile journey.

Whatever the reason, the notion and experience of a journey has always been close to the Hoosier heart.  Some of us travel far and wide.  Others of us basically stay put, welcoming travelers with that legendary Hoosier hospitality.

I say this as a relative newcomer, my family having moved to Indianapolis from Boston just a few years ago so I might serve as president of Christian Theological Seminary.  Now, Boston is a friendly place – but there are differences.

“The notion and experience of a journey has always been close to the Hoosier heart.”

My very first week here in town, I found my car nearly out of gas, and so asked a stranger for directions to the nearest gas station.  After providing them he offered to follow me.  A bit taken aback, I said, “Why?”  I’ve never forgotten his answer.

“Well,” he said, as if it was the most natural thing in the world, “to make sure you get there alright.”  Still a bit off-balance, I declined his offer – but as I drove to the station, I smiled all the way there.

We still have a long way to go on this journey we call “Indiana.”  There are too many hungry kids in our neighborhoods, too much violence in our streets, and in our homes, and in our hearts.  The great teachers and traditions often turn to the theme of journey in their stories and instruction – and this is no accident.  It’s part of the genius of the Jewish and Christian scriptures, for example, that the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, end not in the promised land, but on the verge of it:  in sight of the land of milk and honey, but not there yet.

We’re not there yet either, and we need the best in our traditions to propel us and challenge us to take pride not only in the distance we’ve traveled, but also in the distance we will travel today and tomorrow.

“We’re not there yet either, and we need the best in our traditions to propel us and challenge us to take pride not only in the distance we’ve traveled, but also in the distance we will travel today and tomorrow.”

One of the most beautiful ideas in the Christian tradition is the idea of vocation or “calling,” of living life as an answer to a kind of summons.  Dag Hammarskjold, former secretary-general of the United Nations and a man of extraordinary spiritual insight, describes it this way:

“I don’t know Who – or what – put the question, I don’t know when it was put.  I don’t even remember answering.  But at some moment I did answer Yes to Someone – or something – and from that hour I was certain that existence is meaningful and that, therefore, my life, in self-surrender, had a goal.”

Which is to say, his life became:  a journey, a great adventure of discerning and living out what we are meant to do, what we are inspired to do, what we are drawn to do – drawn as if by a magnet outside of us that pulls on something deep inside of us, something that’s been there all along.

What we may need most are intentional, extraordinary conversations about this kind of journeying, and this kind of purpose.   Not only so we can each clarify our own callings but also so we can support each other along the way:  whether we find ourselves at a crossroads, or turning around a great track of 500 miles or more that always, in the end, brings us back home.

So let every Hoosier follow his or her own path – but let us also take care of each other, all of us, as we go.  And if any of our fellow travelers ask us why, we can always say, “Well, to make sure you get there alright.”

Matthew Myer Boulton is the President and Professor of Theology, Christian Theological Seminary

A Journey to Paradise

Sandy Reiberg essay imageBy Sandy Reiberg

When my new husband and I boarded a plane bound for the U.S. Virgin Islands forty-four years ago, we thought our journey was to an interesting place for a year or so. Instead, we stayed for six years and planted seeds that would grow into our life’s work. One week earlier we had learned that we’d been hired as teachers in St. Thomas, so we packed our bags, got married, and headed for paradise.

One evening about two years later, as we were walking down a narrow street in town, I heard music from an upstairs window that stirred childhood memories and called to me irresistibly.  I climbed the stairs and found myself in the outer office of a ballet studio.  I had studied ballet from the age of six to sixteen, but hadn’t taken a dance class in six years.  After a few classes, I was asked if I would like to audition for the Ballet Theater of the Virgin Islands.  “I’d be honored” was my immediate response. Thus began four years of daily classes, performing throughout the Caribbean, and presenting concerts yearly on St. Thomas. My husband Bob took ballet classes with me and became the official photographer for the company. Through these experiences, our stay in paradise was enriched beyond beautiful flowers and sunny beaches.

“Through these experiences, our stay in paradise was enriched beyond beautiful flowers and sunny beaches.”

When we returned to Indiana, the arts continued to be woven into our lives. I continued to teach and take dance classes, Bob continued his photography, and we had two children and bought a home. I was hired to teach ballet in the Dance Magnet program at Shortridge Junior High, a job I could only have dreamed of in my years as a student at Shortridge High School. My next opportunity was establishing the I.P.S. elementary Arts Magnet program at School 70, followed by directing the Arts and Humanities Magnet program at Broad Ripple High School.  Meanwhile, Bob taught science in I.P.S. for nine years, and one day took a ceramics class at the Indianapolis Art Center which lead to his next career as a professional potter.

“I hope to dance as much as I can along the way, wherever the journey leads.”

Right after retiring from I.P.S. in 2009, I nearly died from an allergic reaction to a medication.  A year later, David Hochoy gave me the opportunity to dance a small role in a Dance Kaleidoscope production.  Again, I found myself dancing after a long absence from classes. At the end of the first rehearsal, I felt that I was truly alive again. I don’t know how much longer the journey that began with hearing familiar music on a tropical island may be, but I hope to dance as much as I can along the way, wherever the journey leads.


Sandy Reiberg is an award-winning arts educator, dancer, and civic volunteer.


A Familiar but Forever New Journey

Bill Watt

Bill Watt

By Bill Watts

I am a long-distance cyclist.  I ride about 8,000 miles a year, and I have had the good fortune to ride my bicycle in China, in Australia, and in much of Europe.  This past summer, I climbed the Col D’Aubisque, a mountain pass that is often featured in the Tour de France.  The climb was thrilling.

But the most significant and important journey for me is the one I make almost every day, from my home on the near northwest side of Indianapolis to my workplace at Butler University.  Much of my route follows the towpath along the Central Canal.

“I am in my twenty-fourth year of riding along the canal, but I still find it fresh and invigorating.”

I am in my twenty-fourth year of riding along the canal, but I still find it fresh and invigorating.  For me, this journey tells several intersecting stories.

One story is cultural and institutional.  I pass in front of Naval Armory as I make my way to the towpath, and I am always amused to think of this massive structure guarding the White River from any foreign navies that might dare to invade central Indiana.  Soon thereafter, I pass by the stately homes of Golden Hill, safely situated on the other side of the canal.  Then it is the Indianapolis Museum of Art, with its lovely grounds, and its grand building presiding over the White River Valley.

“I think of the Canal as a kind of cultural corridor that connects some of the most important and interesting institutions in the city.”

When I take the wooden underpass under Michigan Road, I always remember Ray Irvin, the former director of the Greenways, first for the city and then for the state, who did so much to develop our system of trails and to make my commuting route pleasant.  Soon after that, I pass by the Christian Theological Seminary, and I admire its architecture and am grateful to the Irwin and Miller families for their contributions to public buildings in both Indianapolis and Columbus.  And, finally, I arrive at Butler, where I am proud member of the English Department.

In this way, then, I think of the Canal as a kind of cultural corridor that connects some of the most important and interesting institutions in the city.

Bill Watt-canalBut the canal also gives us entry into the natural life of the city.  When I was a boy, I remember traveling deep into a forest to see a Wood Duck.  Now, I see wood ducks almost every day, and I am still enthralled by their bright colors and exotic markings.  In the late Fall, I often come upon a Great Blue Heron, who is startled into flight when he sees me, and lands a bit up the canal.  When I come up to him again, he again commences his gawky-but-graceful flight, and I think of him as a kind of guardian angel, guiding me on my daily commute.  I sometimes see kingfishers, beaver, foxes and deer, and I always see turtles.  I love them all.

My journey down the canal is also a personal one.  I remember running into my friend, Scott Swanson, jogging over there, and Jim Poyser, riding his bike, over here, and just a bit further down the path, I fell one slick winter evening and broke my wrist.  It is a path full of memories for me.

I believe that we have a duty to see the world, and, in coming years, I will make a point of seeing as much of the world as I can from the seat of my bicycle.  One of the benefits of travel, though, is that it allows us to see the familiar world to which we return in a new light.  My daily journey along the canal is familiar and comforting, but it is also endlessly surprising and enlightening.


Bill Watts is an Associate Professor of English at Butler University.

The Long Journey to Now

Diana Ensign

Diana Ensign

By Diana J. Ensign

Our lives are made up of numerous moments—most of which pass by in a blur.

We give shape and meaning to those moments by the stories we tell.  A collection of life’s fleeting moments get stored in our mental time capsules with titles such as, “When I moved to Indiana,” “When I graduated high school,” “When I got married,” “When I lost my job,” or “When my father died.”  We define our lives by pivotal events—how we handled them or failed to handle them, what we did before or after significant life transitions, and the lessons we carry forward.  Over time, these moments become the legends and myths we pass along to our children, share with our family and friends, and reminisce about during weddings and funerals.

I love stories.  My writer’s antenna is constantly tuned toward stories that make a positive difference in the world.  I love listening to them, and I love giving voice to them in a book or article. I love knowing people who have taken their life stories and drastically re-written them in order to be a catalyst for change.

“We define our lives by pivotal events—how we handled them or failed to handle them, what we did before or after significant life transitions, and the lessons we carry forward.”

At some point along our journey, we may arrive at an unfamiliar juncture in the unfolding of our life story. It’s that place—often discovered late in life or after a crisis—where we’re no longer running from grief and sorrow and no longer racing toward happiness and success.  This less traveled path is not highly regarded by our culture, because it doesn’t require outside validation or the purchase of goods and services.  It’s found in the here and now. For me, it’s a place of contentment.

Being in the present moment is simple; and yet, extremely difficult for most of us to do. Ancient Masters have written volumes over the eons on how to ‘be’ in the now.

Here’s how I try to make sure this moment doesn’t slip past unnoticed:

I take a deep breath…

I look around…

I feel the wind on my arm or the sun on my face…

I observe a white butterfly flittering near a yellow flower or note the reddish tinge suddenly appearing on the leaves…

And I say, “Thank you for this day”…

No past. No future. Just blue sky, wisps of white clouds, majestic trees, an ever-changing Midwest landscape, and an unseen mystery that defies all that we think we know.

Pause… Breathe… Listen…

The journey is now.


Author Bio

Diana J. Ensign, JD, is an Indiana writer and author of ‘Traveling Spirit: Daily Tools for Your Life’s Journey” (available on Amazon).  She blogs on Spirituality for Daily Living at  Diana is one of the panel speakers at the Spirit & Place event, From Addiction and Loss to Wholeness, Saturday, November 8, 1:30-3:00 PM. Fairbanks Recovery Center, Rm. 128. Presented by Fairbanks, Indiana Addictions Issues Coalition, and The 24 Group. For event info: 317-572-9469 or