Relationships in a World of Individualism

  • rWorld

    The rWorld is about more than Dale Kuehne's book Sex and the iWorld.
    The rWorld is a New England based, non-profit (in formation), that is composed of a growing number of people and organizations from many faith and ideological backgrounds worldwide. We believe that much of the fulfillment for which women and men are looking can be found by enhancing the quality of our relationships. While the individual freedom we enjoy in the West is a gift, the love and intimacy for which humans yearn will not be found in self-serving materialism or hedonism, but in a variety of healthy relationships.

    Contact us if you'd like get involved:

  • Dale Kuehne

    Sex & the iWorld

    Professor of Politics and The Richard L. Bready Chair for Ethics, Economics, and the Common Good at Saint Anselm College, Manchester, NH.

    In this blog I'm highlighting signposts of the world in which we presently reside as a means of helping promote a civil, and meaningful dialogue about what kind of world in which we wish to live. I am particularly interested in exploring how might we reconcile the individual good and the common good, and where reconciliation isn’t possible, which should take precedence and why.

    I also blog at

    [Content Caution]

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Archive for the ‘rWorld’ Category

Relational Well-Being Trumps Wealth

Posted by Dale Kuehne on April 13, 2017

Still more research to indicate that the quality of our relationships matter more than our standard of living.

When will our political and economic leaders catch on?

Probably when we all begin to realize that what is missing from our lives is not more income but better relationships. It is not more money that we need.

Well He hasn’t always been around
And He won’t always be.
But He’s on the move at this moment
Measuring life for you and me.

I fear we all submit to him
Existing anxiously,
And no one is able to turn him off
Except the Lord who holds the key.

Time by Phil Keaggy from Love Broke Through (1976)


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My Heroes (Take 1): Camille Paglia

Posted by Dale Kuehne on March 15, 2017

During my lifetime I have had a few intellectual heroes. My first was versatile American novelist Walker Percy to whom I was introduced while in College. Then at Harvard Divinity School I learned from Dutch priest Fr. Henri Nouwen. During Graduate School I was blessed to be tutored by Jean Bethke Elshtain whom I was later blessed to count as a friend and colleague. Now, with Jean’s passing, Camille Paglia of the University of Pennsylvania has assumed the mantle of contemporary intellectual from whom I’d most like to take an advanced degree.

I’d settle for a long lunch, … mostly because she can’t settle for anything short.

What do my hero’s have in common? They each caught a wiff of something lethal and put it to words. Be describing death they also came to understand what it means to call forth life.

Too alarming now to talk about
Take your pictures down and shake it out
Truth or consequence, say it aloud
Use that evidence, race it around

There goes my hero
Watch her as she goes
There goes my hero
She’s ordinary

Don’t the best of them bleed it out
While the rest of them peter out
Truth or consequence, say it aloud
Use that evidence, race it around

There goes my hero
Watch her as she goes
There goes my hero
She’s ordinary

Kudos, my hero
Leaving all the best
You know my hero
The one that’s on

My Hero by the Foo Fighters from The Color and the Shape (1998)

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Charles Murray and Middlebury: Bordering on Resignation

Posted by Dale Kuehne on March 14, 2017

As one who has drawn askant stares for requiring my Politics of Diversity students to read The Bell Curve by Charles Murray, this episode grieves me. As one who regards the University as our society’s last hope for freedom because of its singular role in fostering the free exchange of ideas, I find myself discouraged to the point of resignation. As one who still bears the physical and emotional scars from the actions of University protestors that shut down talks I was invited to give in the US and Europe on the meaning of the human person and human relationships, I find myself wondering if the good in me is dead.

What I need, what we need, is to somehow start again. To be reborn.

16th of June, nine 0 five, door bell rings
Man at the door says if I want to stay alive a bit longer
There’s a few things I need you to know. Three

Coming from a long line of travelling sales people on my mother’s side
I wasn’t gonna buy just anyone’s cockatoo
So why would I invite a complete stranger into my home
Would you?

These days are better than that
These days are better than that

Every day I die again, and again I’m reborn
Every day I have to find the courage
To walk out into the street
With arms out
Got a love you can’t defeat
Neither down or out
There’s nothing you have that I need
I can breathe
Breathe now

16th of June, Chinese stocks are going up
And I’m coming down with some new Asian virus
Ju Ju man, Ju Ju man
Doc says you’re fine, or dying
Nine 0 nine, St John Divine, on the line, my pulse is fine
But I’m running down the road like loose electricity
While the band in my head plays a striptease

The roar that lies on the other side of silence
The forest fire that is fear so deny it

Walk out into the street
Sing your heart out
The people we meet
Will not be drowned out
There’s nothing you have that I need
I can breathe
Breathe now
Yeah, yeah

We are people borne of sound
The songs are in our eyes
Gonna wear them like a crown

Walk out, into the sunburst street
Sing your heart out, sing my heart out
I’ve found grace inside a sound
I found grace, it’s all that I found
And I can breathe
Breathe now

Breathe by U2 from No Line on the Horizon (2011)

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Norman William Frederick Kuehne 9/2/1929-7/9/2016

Posted by Dale Kuehne on July 29, 2016

Eulogy for our father.

A number of years ago our father, Norman, wrote down his preferences for a memorial service to be held after his passing. In this, he stated his reasoning for not wanting a eulogy of his life included. Since what he wrote provides an insight into his thoughts, and him as a person, we thought we’d read it out on this occasion. In his words:

I’ve always felt uncomfortable with services which include eulogies that focus on the life, relationships and/or accomplishments of the deceased. My life was not exemplary nor did I accomplish anything of note. I’m only a poor sinner, saved by God’s grace. Our Lord deserves the focus because he created us, sustained our lives and paid the ultimate price for our redemption. It is he, and he alone, that deserves our worship, honor and praise!

Now with that being said he later gave us a bit more freedom in planning his memorial service, telling us to say what we felt was appropriate, so we have added the following narrative about his life:

On Monday, September 2nd 1929, Norman William Frederich Kuehne was born in a homestead farmhouse in Long Prairie Township, Todd County Minnesota as the eldest child of Otto and Ruth Kuehne. He arrived just a few weeks before the Stock Market Crash that would plunge the country into the Great Depression throughout the 1930’s. Six siblings would follow – four sisters and two brothers – and there was never a shortage of work to be done or hands to do it. The five-bedroom farmhouse had been built by his grandfather to accommodate his eight children, plus relatives from multiple generations, and extra farmhands. The wood to build the house came from trees on their property that were cut and milled locally. Even though the Rural Electrification Act lines had not yet reached their farm, grandpa had the house wired for electricity when it did. Times were difficult, but the family made do with what they had, and were generous to the passing drifters who would knock on their door, asking for something to eat. Not only were they provided for, but were invited to sit at the table and partake with the family.

Though it sounds like something out of Little House On The Prairie, he really did have to walk a fair distance to a one-room elementary schoolhouse in the country, and found his first day there especially daunting, as English was spoken rather than the German he had grown up with at home and church. Students were required to bring their lunch, and leave it in the coatroom, which was unheated in the winter. On many days they all ate frozen sandwiches at lunch. He adjusted quickly to the new routine and did well at school, and blazing a trail for his siblings to follow in the years ahead. This was altered one winter morning when he was about 10 years old. Following a serious asthma attack, he awoke with a terrible headache, finding he couldn’t move one leg; he knew what it was, but he hoped he was wrong. Infantile Paralysis, later known as Polio, was an epidemic in the late 30’s and early 40’s had struck. He was diagnosed by their local doctor and was later admitted to Gillette Children’s Hospital in St Paul for extended inpatient treatment. He said that the lowest point of his life was being dropped off by his parents and entrusted to the care of people he didn’t know in a city far away from home at such a young age, facing a frightening prognosis.

While Polio could be a devastating disease, he was hugely fortunate to be evaluated by Australian nurse Sister Kenny, a groundbreaking pioneer in Polio treatment and physical therapy. Her methods were unconventional and viewed with skepticism by the medical community, until they proved so successful, that her approach became the accepted method of treatment. While Polio left its mark on him for the rest of his life, he eventually returned home able to walk, and with a strength of Faith and a force of Will that that never departed him.

Back on the farm, they had begun transitioning from farming with horse teams to early tractors. Even so, when it snowed heavily in the winter, Dad’s father Otto still used a horse-drawn sleigh with a heavy blanket in the back for warmth, to ferry the children back and forth to their township school. Stories such as these come from a time that feels distant to us now, and unfathomable to a younger generation. Indeed, upon hearing about the sleigh a few years ago, Ross’s young son Zachary pondered it for a bit, and asked with a quizzical look: “Does Farfar know any Reindeer?”

Dad’s education in the one-room schoolhouse continued through 8th grade, progressing on to Long Prairie High School, graduating in 1947. He then moved to the Twin Cities to attend Minneapolis Business College, graduating in 1948. He started work as a bookkeeper at International Milling, and later moved on to Lew Bonn Electronics, where he became an Office Manager in charge of Credit. He then spent 25 years at Douglas Corporation, retiring in 1998 as Vice President of Finance. While working for Doug Skanse at Douglas, he had a serious pituitary incident, which went undiagnosed for several months. This was discovered during an examination at the University of Minnesota hospital, which referred him to the Mayo Clinic. Over the next 30 years he received outstanding care from multiple departments at Mayo, and Doug Skanse supported Dad above and beyond, every step of the way.

Yet, for all he achieved from modest beginnings, there is no question that his greatest accomplishment came in 1953 when he married Janet Mae Stanway of Virginia Minnesota. He told me more than once, that the biggest problem in the world was that there weren’t enough Methodist Minister’s Daughters from the Iron Range to go around. She stood by his side through good times and challenging ones for 62 years, and we cannot understate our profound appreciation of what she has done in single-handedly caring for him over these past few difficult years. Our father never played the lottery, perhaps because he knew he had already struck the jackpot at home.

Without question, the underlying bedrock of our father’s life was an abiding faith in Christ, a source of strength and comfort throughout his days. He grew up in a Christian family, being baptized and confirmed at the Immanuel Lutheran Church in Long Prairie Township. He and our Mom were married at the Covenant Church in Virginia Minnesota, and when they moved to Southwest Minneapolis, became active members of Edina Covenant Church, serving in a number of roles over many years. When growing up, our family’s circle of friends were drawn as much from the families we knew through church, as it was from our extended family of relatives, friends, and our home neighborhood. I also want to mention how much all of those groups supported our parents over these past few years, and how grateful we are for their assistance.

Now, because our father was a stoic man who dressed neatly, drove a sensible car, and brushed after meals, he sometimes gave the impression of being the sort of person who loosened his tie before going to bed. And while it’s true that he was a serious man of purpose who had lived though some difficult times, he also had a dry wit and a genuine enjoyment of life which might not have always been obvious to others. He was an avid follower of Minnesota sports, loved the outdoors and playing golf, and was a very good writer, in later years emailing reflections on events and life far and wide. He was willing to join in with his sons’ childhood hobbies and interests, to the point of playing Frisbee, driving us out of the city to launch Model Rockets, and getting up at 4am on cold winter mornings to help drive us along our newspaper routes. Especially treasured memories are numerous family vacations over the years from Florida to the Canadian Rockies, and later from England to Germany.

As for his Dry humor, as a teenager I remember coming home one summer night in the 1980’s when our mother was away for the week, opening up the refrigerator, and seeing a six pack of beer, which was quite a surprise in a household such as ours, which seemed unaware that Prohibition had ever ended. Playing it as low-key as possible, I walked into the den, sat down on the couch and after a minute or so asked my father if he had noticed that there was a six-pack of Bud in the fridge. Without missing a beat, or lowering the newspaper he was reading, he told me it was for watering the tomato plants in the garden. I never did see what happened to the beer, but couldn’t deny that the tomatoes grew well that summer.

Our father lived a surprisingly long life for someone who faced as many physical and medical challenges as he did, and I don’t think that anyone was more surprised about that than he was. Such challenges were not easy to face, and he certainly didn’t welcome them, but he accepted them, and moved on. I remember once when I was young, asking him if he was bitter about having had so many hurdles to overcome. His response has stayed with me: “You can be defined by what happens to you, or you can be defined by how you work to overcome what happens to you.”

Until we are reunited by Faith and Grace in the next life, here’s to us all working to overcome the challenges we face in this life.

We give thanks for the life of Norman William Frederich Kuehne, grateful for all he accomplished, and thankful he is now free of earthly tribulations, and starting again with a new body, and a new life, eternal.

Amen and Amen.

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A Wondrous Valentine’s Day Massacre

Posted by Dale Kuehne on February 14, 2016

The question is not whether God made us to passionate, but how.

A Valentine’s Day meditation on one dimension of love.

Don’t the hours grow shorter as the days go by
You never get to stop and open your eyes
One day you’re waiting for the sky to fall
The next you’re dazzled by the beauty of it all
When you’re lovers in a dangerous time
Lovers in a dangerous time

These fragile bodies of touch and taste
This vibrant skin — this hair like lace
Spirits open to the thrust of grace
Never a breath you can afford to waste
When you’re lovers in a dangerous time
When you’re lovers in a dangerous time

Sometimes you’re made to feel as if your love’s a crime —
But nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight —
Got to kick at the darkness ’til it bleeds daylight
When you’re lovers in a dangerous time
Lovers in a dangerous time
And we’re lovers in a dangerous time
Lovers in a dangerous time

Lovers in a Dangerous Time by Bruce Cockburn from Stealing Fire (1984)

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Making rWorld a Better Place: Hardly Random Acts of Kindness

Posted by Dale Kuehne on August 29, 2014

A whiff of something wonderfully lethal from Thailand.


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Family Matters: With and Without You

Posted by Dale Kuehne on January 29, 2014

A study commissioned by the British Government discovers family break-up is costing the island nation between 20-44 Billion pounds a year, and that every pound invested in keeping families together could save the government 11 pounds.

More evidence to suggest that society can’t afford a future without family even as we are losing hope in family.

See the stone set in your eyes
See the thorn twist in your side
I wait for you

Sleight of hand and twist of fate
On a bed of nails she makes me wait
And I wait without you

With or without you
With or without you

Through the storm we reach the shore
You gave it all but I want more
And I’m waiting for you

With or without you
With or without you
I can’t live
With or without you

And you give yourself away
And you give yourself away
And you give
And you give
And you give yourself away

My hands are tied, my body bruised
She’s got me with
Nothing to win and
Nothing left to lose

And you give yourself away
And you give yourself away
And you give
And you give
And you give yourself away

With or without you
With or without you
I can’t live
With or without you

With or without you
With or without you
I can’t live
With or without you
With or without you

With or without you
With or without you
I can’t live
With or without you
With or without you

With or Without You by U2 from Joshua Tree (1987)

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Jean Bethke Elshtain 1941-2013

Posted by Dale Kuehne on August 14, 2013

My heart breaks to learn of the death of Jean Bethke Elshtain of the University of Chicago and Georgetown University.

Not only did she have a foundational impact on my worldview, she was, and is, a role model for me of what it means to be a Scholar, Public Intellectual, and Christian.

She barely knew me, and yet was willing not just to read the manuscript of my book Sex and the iWorld, she also wrote the foreword. I later asked her why she took the risk of writing a foreword for a relatively unknown scholar and a very politically incorrect book. She replied by saying that it gave her a chance to write on a subject on which she had never published.

I am look forward to having an endless conversation with her in eternity. I pray that until then I can come to embody just a bit of what she professed.

From the moment you were born,
your death has walked beside you.
Though it seldom shows its face,
you still feel its empty touch
when fear invades your life,
or what you love is lost
or inner damage is incurred…

Yet when destiny draws you
into these spaces of poverty,
and your heart stays generous
until some door opens into the light,
you are quietly befriending your death;
so that you will have no need to fear
when your time comes to turn and leave,

that the silent presence of your death
would call your life to attention,
wake you up to how scarce your time is
and to the urgency to become free
and equal to the call of your destiny.

That you would gather yourself
and decide carefully
how you now can live
the life you would love
to look back on
from your deathbed.

For Death by John O’Donahue from To Bless the Space Between Us (2008)

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Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Hollowness

Posted by Dale Kuehne on August 10, 2013

According to recent scientific studies, life is not about happiness after all.

It turns out happiness without meaning is hollow.

Meaning is life.

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats’ feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar

Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;

Those who have crossed
With direct eyes, to death’s other Kingdom
Remember us-if at all-not as lost
Violent souls, but only
As the hollow men
The stuffed men.


Eyes I dare not meet in dreams
In death’s dream kingdom
These do not appear:
There, the eyes are
Sunlight on a broken column
There, is a tree swinging
And voices are
In the wind’s singing
More distant and more solemn
Than a fading star.

Let me be no nearer
In death’s dream kingdom
Let me also wear
Such deliberate disguises
Rat’s coat, crowskin, crossed staves
In a field
Behaving as the wind behaves
No nearer-

Not that final meeting
In the twilight kingdom


This is the dead land
This is cactus land
Here the stone images
Are raised, here they receive
The supplication of a dead man’s hand
Under the twinkle of a fading star.

Is it like this
In death’s other kingdom
Waking alone
At the hour when we are
Trembling with tenderness
Lips that would kiss
Form prayers to broken stone.


The eyes are not here
There are no eyes here
In this valley of dying stars
In this hollow valley
This broken jaw of our lost kingdoms

In this last of meeting places
We grope together
And avoid speech
Gathered on this beach of the tumid river

Sightless, unless
The eyes reappear
As the perpetual star
Multifoliate rose
Of death’s twilight kingdom
The hope only
Of empty men.


Here we go round the prickly pear
Prickly pear prickly pear
Here we go round the prickly pear
At five o’clock in the morning.

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom

Between the conception
And the creation
Between the emotion
And the response
Falls the Shadow
Life is very long

Between the desire
And the spasm
Between the potency
And the existence
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom

For Thine is
Life is
For Thine is the

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

The Hollow Men by T.S. Eliot (1925)

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Praying for Theo

Posted by Dale Kuehne on March 19, 2013

Even as I publish this, the life of 15 year-old Theo Menswar hangs in the balance. The medical community is telling us he is living on borrowed time, though Theo doesn’t seem to agree. I spent the end of last week with Theo and his family, Brant, Emily, and Brady Menswar. I expected great sadness, but what I found in the midst of exhaustion and weariness was a presence of comfort beyond explanation.

You can find my attempt to find words for this in my latest sharewik blog:

Breathing in and breathing out
My head leaned back my hands are tied
I stand in here alone I scream, questions why
Days slip by and nights I taste
These memories run through my veins
Injecting me with one last kiss, screaming why

This medication can’t save me
This desperation takes hold of me
I wanted to believe in all of this
I wanted to believe in you

All I am, all I have
Leads me down these roads again
Take my hand, show me the way
And never bring me back here

Determination, is pushing me
Perseverance, is what I bleed
I wanted to believe in all of this
I wanted to believe in you

All I am, all I have
Leads me down these roads again
Take my hand, show me the way
And never bring me back here

These are my unanswered prayers
The time has come for me to say goodbye

God please hear me, calling

All I am, all I have
Leads me down these roads again
Take my hand, show me the way
And never bring me back here

These are my unanswered prayers
the time has come for me to say goodbye

God please hear me, calling

Prayers by In this Moment from Beautiful Tragedy (2007)

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