Bernard Brady, Office for Mission

In the News: Bernie Brady on the Golden Rule and a Legendary Minnesota Fish Tale

Bernie Brady, theology professor at the University of St. Thomas College of Arts and Sciences, recently spoke with the Star Tribune for a story about ethics, morals and a Minnesota teen who caught $2,000 cash while fishing the massive Lake of the Woods.

Star Tribune logo

From the story:

A fish tale, according to the Britannica Dictionary, is “a story that is so strange or surprising that it seems very unlikely to be true.” Which may be the natural reaction to the story reported on Monday about Connor Halsa, a 14-year-old angler from Moorhead who made quite a catch this summer on Lake of the Woods.

Fishing in 20 feet of choppy water, Halsa snagged not a walleye but a wallet that had been lost the previous year by Jim Denney, a livestock hauler from Mount Ayr, Iowa, just north of the Missouri border. In it was $2,000 of U.S. currency and a business card from a livestock owner in western Wisconsin.

The first wonderment in this true fish tale is just the odds of hooking a sunken, small wallet in a lake 70 miles long and 60 miles wide.

The second more profound marvel is what young Connor and his cousin, Brandon Klipping, did next: They separated the wet bills, dried them out on the boat’s dashboard, and without hesitation went to work with Connor’s aunt, Christine Klipping of Red Lake Falls, to track down the rightful owner and return the money. Money that Denney told Connor to keep as a reward for his honesty, but the Halsa family refused ...

“Just about every religious tradition I’m familiar with, or every ethical system, has some sense of the golden rule,” which Connor impressively acted upon, Bernard Brady, a professor of theology at the University of St. Thomas, told an editorial writer.

Just about every religious tradition I’m familiar with, or every ethical system, has some sense of the golden rule.

Bernie Brady, University of St. thomas theology professor

That’s important on an individual level, but also a broader one.

“Common morality is something on a basic level that all of us share – it is individual responsibility underlying the whole social fabric.” These acts are “vitally important; it’s part of the threads that keep us together,” Brady said, adding, “We need to hear these stories; I think we need to be inspired by them.”

Which is perhaps why this fish tale hooked so many – and not just in Moorhead or Mount Ayr, but at “Inside Edition,” the New York Post and elsewhere, including the Star Tribune.