Putting another minnow on the hook, the media question this morning: “What makes rich men want to hunt beautiful animals?” Continuing to play yet another media-managed stampede and we are so obtuse as always to bite. All well and good, moral outrage that a lion with a name making it human was baited from its sanctuary to be shot and this is not the hunter’s first brush with the law and his hunting associations. But the question is not the question. Before an American is returned to morally indignant and self-righteous Zimbabwe to “stand trial” and be imprisoned, the government of Zimbabwe ought be held accountable for decades of incompetence, despotism and ruination. Our government doesn’t have the guts to take that on. Instead, from top to bottom, U.S. government officials will be working the crowd by playing Superman to hunt him down and extradite him. Unless he can be shot while running for the woods.
Media puppets, Americans need a sense of perspective, priority and balance about moral outrage. There are hungry children, children without shelter, children without medical care, entrenched unescapable poverty; and politicians and ordinary Americans who don’t give a good gardenia. The public is a ship of fools, puppets controlled by media who make a living of stirring this outrage and that. Perspective. Comes to mind Hagrid sobbing over a dead spider as Filch mutters, For the love of God, man, get a grip.
Success will be if the media can play this frenzy out to another windfall and the government of Zimbabwe can turn attention away from their own wickedness and lynch someone else, especially if it happens to an obscenely rich American big game hunter. The question is why we are so easily baited, like shooting fish in a barrel. W¨
Full moon on 2 July makes this night of 31 July - 1 August a “blue moon” then down it fades into waning gibbous. There’s one shrimpboat moving on St. Andrews Bay, flat and white ‘neath the moon. From my angle, directly over BayPoint and far out over the Gulf of Mexico, lightning in a cloud. Two flashing red buoys: channel lights just over a stone’s throw from my porch. And with rubies set in it, that diamond bracelet string of lights from Courtney Point round Thomas Drive.
Thomas Drive. My memory of it being opened, cut in deep white sand when I was an adolescent. A dirt road and all too easy to get stuck, though I never did. A friend’s father had a new 1950 Cadillac 62 sedan, a bunch of us, the St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church youth group, took it and our ’49 Plymouth woody wagon out to the beach one Sunday afternoon. Instead of driving all the way out to Wayside Park, we went to the brand new Thomas Drive. Because I was more interested in the Cadillac
than the beach, she let me drive it around while everyone else went swimming. A skilled driver by then, I took care not to get it stuck in the sand. My first time driving a Cadillac, smitten for life, V8 hydramatic and nobody ever heard of power steering or a/c, but oh man was it silky smooth. Still a friend and neighbor, the girl remains anonymous. That’s the memory Thomas Drive strikes.
Still lightning, and the moon is sliding down the southwestern bowl of the firmament. Too still for comfort, humidity 92% but either I’m a native Floridian or I’m not, so out here I sit, my chair against the porch rail. This time yesterday I was browsing lower case g in various fonts to choose one, ended up with American Typewriter, a favorite except that it has no slant, for obvious reasons, no italics. In typewriter days, for italics we underlined. I neglected to underline Pudd’nhead Wilson so went back just now and did that along with a modest overhaul of yesterday’s early and groggy blogpost.
What’s today’s blogpost about? Usual nonsense and a ride down Thomas Drive. The girl’s father next had a 1954 Cadillac 62 sedan and I got to drive that one too.
Still lightning, now wider and brighter to the south beyond Shell Island now but no thunder. Occasional splash in the Bay: mullet jumping?
gggggggGggGgggggg Wunderlich or American Typewriter then. Or Chalkduster. No. Unless the font is the message, and it isn't. Sometimes the font is distracting and Chalkduster is that unless Tom is what? selling ice cream on the boardwalk? For what one might use Chalkduster, IDK, I like its g though it obviously can't hear, and I prefer the ear of AT's g that reminds me of a California quail. But looking at Chalkduster, I hear a fingernail scraping on the blackboard in a classroom somewhere early in the twentieth century, and cringing.
Twelve-something with the blue moon at zenith, now two-oh-three. A small glass of milk and back to bed. Or maybe, having worn the battery down nineteen percent, close the thing and doze in the blue lift chair. My mother used to wake in the night, get up, read awhile then turn out the light and go back to sleep. Seems like eighty is old enough, but I’m forty-five days short.
For some reason, yesterday, browsing online took me by Mark Twain, came across Pudd’nhead Wilson, which I’ve never read, so downloaded and read a few chapters. Two baby boys born the same day, a baby boy who’s 31/32 white, and except for the rags or ribbons can’t be told from the supposedly 32/32 boy next to him, is about to be swapped out by his 1/16 slave mama to save him being sold down the river. Samuel Clemens had the dialects down perfect. But I’ll not resume, because the situs shows there’s no reason for an American to be ashamed of just his German heritage. Would 1/32 still be a Jew in Deutschland? Or a slave in America? Mark Twain is poking at our ludicrosity, but has me cringing in shame.
Who knows where this will go, nobody do, not even The Shadow. Making my coffee in the dark this morning, I decided to have one of Linda’s little creamer pods for a change, picked it up, pulled the top back, and poured it on the coffee machine instead of in the cup. So there was a mess to clean up. When a day starts like that anything can happen, so I’m keeping it strictly under prayerful surveillance.
Anyway this. A couple weeks ago I noticed that those who are using Lectionary B Track Two were reading from Jeremiah instead of the David stories from 2Samuel. Jeremiah comes along after the so-called Eighth Century Prophets of Doom (Isaiah, Hosea, Amos and Micah), and I always enjoy reading Jeremiah, especially because I like the prophet’s story of his call. It’s pretty abrupt and “make-no-mistake-about-it, BuddyBoy.” Jeremiah 1:4-7. Listen:
4 Now the word of the Lord came to me saying, 5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
6 Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy.
7 But the Lord said to me,“Do not say, ‘I am only a boy’; for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and you shall speak whatever I command you...”
Why is this bothering me this morning. Easy. No fundamentalist, literalist or inerrantist Christian, I nevertheless have a sense of “call” that goes way back in my life, in fact goes back seventy years. When I was ten years old, “just a boy” as Jeremiah protested, I first knew that I was going to do this nonsense with my life. I submitted, then when a sophomore at UFla I rebelled and went off in another direction and other directions until I was in my early middle forties. Wouldn't have missed it for the world, though my experience was that finally giving up and giving in was what it took for satisfaction, relief, happiness. The story I’ve told too many times to repeat here this morning, but here I am, still happy.
Again, what stirred this little bowl of Thursday Soup? In a.word.a.day this week, Anu Garg is doing common words that we got from Hebrew. I love this. So far he’s done tohubohu, behemoth, leviathan, and today manna. (leaving the word as links in case anyone wants to explore). I love this, was looking forward to it, and we’ll see what word Anu has tomorrow, Friday. One reason I love this goes to the Jeremiah 1:4-7 passage. If Jeremiah is true (remember my motto, “believing it don’t make it so”), then there’s something to a notion that our souls are separate from our bodies. Sort of like dropping a 4 or 6 or V8 engine into a car, eh. Not to offend, but I used to be proud and happy thinking myself of English heritage, something complete and perfect about that. Several years ago when I found out it was not English but German, I was horrified; for a long time almost devastated, because growing up during World War 2, and with the mix of wartime propaganda, and facts culminating in the liberation of the concentration camps that we saw on newsreels, the idea of being one of them was crushing, and the likelihood that Weller (Wäller) cousins would have been among those in the frenzied saluting mobs. It’s been about five years and there’s still a horrid fascination, but maybe I’m resigned.
Jeremiah still, and the thought that I could have been other. Not being English that so pleased me, but German that still does not, what would I choose to have been? Well, either Jewish or Greek so I could be at home and comfortable with the languages of the Bible. Except for the tetragram, I’ve given up on Hebrew, that kind of learning just doesn’t work at this age. But I can still muddle through the language of the New Testament.
Forming me in the womb, ὦ δέσποτα Κύριε אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה? Make me Greek. Or a Greek Jew, s'il vous plaît.
Sunset 20150727 Everybody who’s going to stop watching or reading the news until this pathetic, humiliated woman Joyce Mitchell is no longer the headlines say “aye.” In Pennsylvania thirty-something years ago, one of our diocesan priests was chaplain at Camp Hill prison. His name escapes me, but he was retiring and I talked with him about the ministry. He said long years of dealing with selfish people whose only interest was manipulation had exhausted him to a burned out cynic. He did not recommend the ministry to anyone. This morning my mind stirs that memory, and Mitchell the Pathetic, and Sunday’s gospel, into a nasty gravy that I don’t want on my grits. In John’s gospel (pasted below) Jesus is offering signs (semeia) of who he is -- the one sent from heaven by God -- and he realizes that the people are not interested in the sign or in what the sign signifies, which is eternal life; all they are interested in is free bread. They have followed him home to Capernaum hoping for another free meal. John has Jesus seem frustrated, cynical and sarcastic; and stepping into John’s story, it’s a wonder to me that Jesus didn’t throw up his hands and quit. He had gotten down to our reptilian center of total selfishness. Nobody is what others see and remember, deep inside each of us is someone ugly and reptilian known only to self and God, but I lovingly remember my grandfather Gentry as a kind and generous man. He was a Baptist, he and my grandmother raised their five children as Southern Baptists, and after a daughter in law died in 1939, they took in and raised two grandchildren, first cousins whom I dearly loved and loved going to Sunday School and church with them. Daddy Walt drove us in the 1939 Chrysler sedan, then in the 1942 Chrysler sedan, then in the 1946 Chrysler club coupe, then in his 1947 Plymouth club coupe, then in the blue 1949 and black 1950 Chrysler sedans (my grandmother wrecked the blue '49 Windsor, which had been her Mother's Day present that year, another story), and as he parked in his traditional parking spot right on the corner headed out, he handed each of us a nickel for Sunday School offering. My growing up years, Daddy Walt signified to me that a Baptist was a generous, kind and loving Christian. And I remember him saying that in the Baptist church “every man interprets the Bible for himself.” I further remember being disappointed and disillusioned many years later, in Harrisburg going to a huge assembly where Jerry Falwell was forming a chapter of the “Moral Majority” and watching Dr. Falwell on television over the years, hearing a message that Christians had to believe that every word of the Bible was inerrantly, literally true, and that one must accept Christ as Personal Savior so that one could be “as sure for heaven as if you were already there.” The Baptist message had changed incredibly from what I had heard and seen in my grandfather all my growing up years, to a selfish gospel in which what mattered was “being saved,” a feat one accomplished for oneself by walking down an aisle and accepting Christ. The same as tracing Jesus to Capernaum for another free meal. In defense of the Baptist side of me that I still love when I think of Daddy Walt, I don’t totally see that anymore. The outreach ministries of places like St. Andrews Baptist Church seem to be everything that, in my understanding, Jesus taught and preached. The adage “every man interprets the Bible for himself” seems to have given way to a dogma of literalism and inerrancy that I find stifling, oppressive, narrow and intolerable, but the heart of what I see seems good. Maybe more like Luke than John. I don’t know. I do know that I do my own thinking. Me and Daddy Walt. T+ John 6:24-35 Disciples’ Literal New Testament (DLNT) 24 So when the crowd saw that Jesus was not there, nor His disciples, they got into the small boats, and went to Capernaum seeking Jesus. 25 And having found Him on the other side of the sea, they said to Him, “Rabbi, when have You come here?” 26 Jesus responded to them and said, “Truly, truly, I say to you— you are seeking Me not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves-of-bread and were filled-to-satisfaction. 27 Do not be working for the food which is perishing, but for the food which is remaining to eternal life— which the Son of Man will give to you. For God the Father certified this One”. 28 So they said to Him, “What may we be doing in order that we may be working the works of God?” 29 Jesus responded and said to them, “This is the work of God: that you be believing in the One Whom that One sent-forth”. 30 So they said to Him, “What then do You do as a sign, in order that we may see it and believe You? What thing do you work? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, just as it has been written [in Ps 78:24]: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat’”. 32 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, Moses has not given you the bread from heaven, but My Father is giving you the true Bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is the One coming down from heaven and giving life to the world”. 34 So they said to Him, “Master, give us this bread always”. 35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. The one coming to Me will never hunger, and the one believing in Me will never ever thirst.
PCNH this morning, Linda showed me, front page of the B section, has an interesting article with pictures of what is being done along Lisenby Avenue (east of Lisenby, north of 11th Street, south of K-Mart, and west of Lake Caroline, to box it in). Watching the construction happen, I thought it was just fancy fenced-in drainage, but turns out it’s another nice park with a walking area, and intended to improve water quality in Lake Caroline and ultimately to help improve water quality in St. Andrew Bay. That is good news, and impressive. My further thought is that if the authorities truly want to improve the Bay they must open the Old Pass so that circulation is possible instead of stagnancy and the slow filling in with marshy area and that makes Shell Island actually a peninsula not an island. What was the name of that barrier before the new Pass was cut, when you would have been able to walk from the Long Beach Casino all the way down to the (Old) Pass? I’d have to ask my grandfather.
But that’s not what’s occupying Uncle Bubba’s twisted, twisting and turning mind. What I was doing when Linda handed me the PCNH was/is reading through lectionary lessons for the upcoming Sunday. The OT reading continues the forgettable story of David & Bathsheba, but with God’s mercy nevertheless and notwithstanding. Turns out David is no better or worse than the rest of us, and it’s all (2Samuel is all) the post-Solomon court reporter’s story of David’s life and leading up to the reign of Solomon anyway, and without Bathsheba you can’t have Solomon -- how much of this graphic little πόρνη is “agenda” to get to Solomon, IDK. In “Children’s Time” last Sunday I sure couldn’t tell the kiddiewinks what David had been up to. So this morning I’m taking a break from the OT’s Sunday School stories and browsing the Ephesians reading.
Sunday’s reading is Ephesians 4:1-16. This is our fourth Sunday reading in Ephesians, which I have been ignoring. Bit of introspection: why have I been ignoring it, why do I not like Ephesians? IDK, it’s subconscious or at least unconscious, I haven’t thought about it. Maybe because deep down I agree with scholars who say it’s dated 80 to 100 AD, not from St. Paul, and based on Colossians (50-80 AD), which itself is contested as to whether Paul wrote it or not. I think it’s psychological with me and I need to worry that. But right now, I’m wandering someplace specific and yet one more time again changing my unsure mind about something.
First, those who were with us for the three services of Holy Baptism that we just had at HNEC will recognize in the Ephesians reading (scroll down, pasted below) where the introduction to the baptism liturgy comes from. Second, my wandering mind traces over to Colossians, so I go read Colossians again, beginning to end. (Reading Colossians start to finish doesn’t take but a few minutes and it’s good stuff, try it, you may like it, Sam I Am).
No, I don’t find Sunday’s Ephesians verses in Colossians, but I find more interesting. So I go read again what some scholars argue about the Pauline authenticity of Colossians. I thought NO, then I thought YES, then I thought NO, now I’m in my favorite place, which is not certain. I despise certainty. Read these three verses: Colossians 2: 8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ. 9 For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10 and you have come to fullness in him, who is the head of every ruler and authority.
What I find in Colossians, after not having paid much attention to it for twenty or thirty years, is that it may have heavily influenced the high christology of those who framed the Nicene Creed, who thought it came from Paul. So if Paul’s christology was as unchangingly low as I thought, Paul did not write Colossians (AD 80?). But if Paul did write Colossians (AD 50-60?), his christology changed markedly over his several years of ministry and writing. Look at Colossians 2, “… Christ, for in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.” There are credible scholars on every side.
I wish I’d explored Colossians again before I insisted last week on Paul’s low christology. Now I’m back to not certain, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine. Jiminy Christmas.
/S/ Waffling Bubba
Ephesians 4:1-16 (NRSV)
1 I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.
7 But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8 Therefore it is said,
“When he ascended on high he made captivity itself a captive;
he gave gifts to his people.”
9 (When it says, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended [other ancient authorities add first] into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is the same one who ascended far above all the heavens, so that he might fill all things.) 11 The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ. 14 We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. 15 But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.
Looking up across St. Andrews Bay from the city marina halfway through our walk about six-thirty this morning. We’ll probably go on starting at six until the weather cools a bit. Also, as days dawn later.
Anyone looking to my nonsense for help or spiritual guidance will go unrewarded: crossing the mind in spite of itself is the one called “The Donald,” I sure hope he's having Gulf Coast Pest Control come out and spray that head of hair for mice and roaches. I have a nonsensical theory. GovernorPresident C. and SenatorSecretary C. attended one of TheD’s wedding ceremonies. And TheD, according to something I read last week, it may have been a lie, IDK, made a healthy contribution to her last political campaign, and apparently they are friends. I say apparently, because TheD doesn’t seem to remain friends with anyone for long. Anyway, my theory is that there’s a strategy. TheD is currently the Republican frontrunner, a sign that a fourth of Republicans like him. And he has stated that if the GOP doesn’t treat him right, he will run as a third party candidate. There ain’t no way the GOP will put TheD on the ticket, and there ain’t no way a Democrat will vote for TheD. He’s a Populist, neither right nor center nor left; a strange mix. The strategy is not that he will be President, a notion beyond the pale, but that he will split the Republican electorate so his friend can easily take the election next year.
Of course, we could have a really interesting spread of candidates from right to left with, say, Ted (who writes me all the time, Dear Thomas, send money), and TheD, and the SenatorSecretary, and Senator Sanders promising everyone free fried chicken every Sunday -- wings and necks.