Thursday, March 5, 2015



White again, white outside, fog right up to the balcony rail. Little tiresome day after day, but okay with me because it’s part of life on the Florida Gulf Coast, which I am thoroughly enjoying and pray it goes on a bit longer. Visitors will be wanting sunshine, and I hope they get it.

Photos and news items of personal interest to me, kindness of and thanks to my friend Mike. Pic of the Bank of St. Andrews under construction, 1906-1907. 

Photo taken in front of the bank apparently the day my grandfather became mayor of the town of St. Andrews. St. Andrews, included in the 1900 US Census, is older than Panama City, which was not listed. In the picture below, that’s Pop sitting on the white horse or mule. 

The bank looks great, but dirt roads. I wonder when Beck Avenue was paved. It has been concrete pavement all my life, US98 paved from Hathaway Bridge all the way through St. Andrews to Panama and on out through Millville and Bay Harbor to DuPont Bridge. When I was a boy all the other streets in St. Andrews were dirt roads. Including 15th Street, which was a little-travelled pair of ruts; and including 11th Street, much used deep sandy ruts, you could get stuck. 

Newspaper editor has his own 1915 sense of humor. “Weller Hospital” is the jail. “A Quiet Social” obviously is mayor’s court.

St. Andrews Bay News 
February 19, 1915


An ordinance regulating the running of automobiles or motor vehicles on the public streets or highways in the town of St. Andrews, and providing penalties for violations of same.

Be it ordained by Mayor and Town Council of the Town of St. Andrews.

Sec. 1. All persons operating vehicles propelled by motor power on the streets of St. Andrews shall be provided with a suitable bell, whistle, or horn to be used as a signal. They shall likewise be provided with two lights on forward end of vehicle and one on back end which shall be lighted between sunset and sunrise, when in use on the streets of St. Andrews.

Sec. 2. Upon approaching any curve, bridge, fill, or crossing, of other strets, the person operating such Motor vehicles shall give ample signal or warning of its approach, and shall not run the same at a rate of speed exceeding six miles per hour at such street crossing, bridges or curves.

Sec. 3. Upon approaching a person walking or a team being driven in the street, the person operating the Motor vehicles shall have due regard for the rights of such persons and give ample signal or warning of its approach, and shall make said Motor vehicle under perfect control.

Sec. 4. It shall be unlawful for any person to operate any Motor vehicle on any of the streets of St. Andfews at a ratre of speed exceeding twelve miles per hour.

Sec. 5. Any person failing to comply with or violating any of the provisions of this Ordinance shall be fined not exceeding Fifty Dollars, or fifty days at hard labor in the streets, or both at the discretion of the Mayor.

A.D. Weller, Mayor
Attest, J. W. Brown, town Clerk

St. Andrews Bay News
November 24, 1915


The coastwise steamship Tarpon taken water and coal at the ice plant whart.

The Am. schooner Annie and Jennie arrived in port from the snapper banks with a good catch of red snappers. The captain reports very bad weather, having encountered a heavy gale of wind.

The steamship Tarpon, Captain Barrow, came in Wednesday on schedule time bringing in 5 passengers for St. Andrews and a good cargo of freight.

Weller Hospital

The Weller hospital is at present occupied by a very sick man, who having been operated on for selling “spirits sataninicus” commonly called snake bite remedy. He will most likely be confined to his cot for a period of 30 or 40 days, but the chef of hotel Weller tells us that by a second operation, which will cost between 50 and 60 bucks, he can be instantly relieved from confinement. We would advise those who suggest to this ailment to be careful.

St. Andrews Bay News
December 2, 1915

A Quiet Social.

Mayor Weller’s court was the scene of much rejoicing on Friday morning, a choir of five attended in a body. After some very interesting arguments the choir sang the old familiar song “not guilty” with having used some bad language, being drunk and disorderly all around and having a good time. Three sung to the tune of $10.00 and costs and were allowed to go. Two were ordered to wear more clothes and “vamoose” from the city within twenty-four hours.


The smack Annie Jennie, Capt Hussey, is on the marine ways undergoing a thorough repairing.

The steamship Tarpon, Captain Barrow, arrived on time from Pensacola, with several passengers and a cargo of general merchandise.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015


Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves
to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and
inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all
adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil
thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus
Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy
Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

This collect for the upcoming Third Sunday in Lent was in our prior prayerbooks for the Second Sunday in Lent, and Hatchett (Commentary on the American Prayer Book, p.175) says it was so in the Gregorian Sacramentary, the Roman book dating to the sixth century. Hatchett says it reminds us that God’s protection is necessary to defend us from assaults upon the soul as well as those on the body. 

Historically we take our liturgy from the Roman church, but during my summer 2014 Ignatian retreats I experienced their worship as more adapting to the world than ours. Wondering if they have discarded ancient prayers that we cling to, I downloaded their online Roman Missal this morning. Here is their collect for Lent 3.

O God, author of every mercy and of all goodness, who in fasting, prayer and almsgiving
have shown us a remedy for sin,
look graciously on this confession of our lowliness, that we, who are bowed down by our conscience, may always be lifted up by your mercy.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Our near obsession with clinging to antiquity unnecessarily dates our worship. Many of our Episcopal parishes customarily use Cranmer’s liturgy at one service, but General Convention needs to make the other service is truly contemporary (not to slide into the trite word “relevant”) and not just change the thees and thous and erase the vouchsafes and call it “contemporary.” It isn’t. It is not contemporary. Rather than setting the stage for worship as the collect was meant to do, our above collect from Gregory’s era is a distracting mind stopper. Like it or not, we still have much to learn (and mimic) from Rome.    


Tuesday, March 3, 2015


There’s a saying that properly prepping a room before you paint it is a lot more work, and takes a lot longer, than when you actually do the painting. I’ve found that true. It’s true also for sermon preparation. A crummy twelve minute sermon -- including the sermon or homily "My Eschaton" printed just before this blog post -- takes hours and hours and hours of preparation. And still, even so, may sound like the work of a dark and disordered mind. Count on it: the longer the sermon, obviously the less time went into preparing it. And the saying, “If I’d had more time, I’d have written you a shorter letter.” 

For three hours (3 AM to 6 AM) I’ve been sitting here finishing up preparation that started Sunday afternoon and went through Monday -- preparing for this morning’s Bible Seminar. I'm still not well prepared. Nevertheless, we gather for coffee and visiting between about nine-thirty and ten o’clock. At ten o’clock we sit down. At ten-oh-five sharp we open with prayer. Always extemporaneous, our prayer this morning will include all the things and people in our hearts and minds that we want to mention to God. Then we will tackle the end of Mark chapter 12; and all of Mark chapter 13, which is the so-called “Little Apocalypse.”

Everyone who wants to come is invited and welcome. Disagreement with my radical views and outrageous statements is welcome. So that people can keep their lunch plans, we adjourn promptly at 11:15.


Monday, March 2, 2015

My Eschaton

My Eschaton
Lent 2B. 20150301. HNEC, Panama City, FL 
The Coming of the Son of Man. MK 8:31-38

      Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return. Lent, I am remembering, and contemplating eternity; and I shall speak of it, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. You may be seated.

Who, who is this Son of Man of whom Jesus often speaks? Inevitably in my mind it whirls visions of Daniel 7. Apocalyptic, Daniel’s dream, he is told by the angel when it’s all over, is a vision of the eschaton, the end of time when God’s kingdom is established on earth under the reign of God’s regent. In his vision Daniel encounters God, the Ancient of Days; and then his dream, which has become Bible prophecy for us, the Word of the Lord, introduces that regent, whom he calls “k’bar enash” -- 

“I saw in the night visions, and, behold, k’bar enash one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.
“And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” (Daniel 7:13-14 KJV)

Whether because the music and words are so majestic, or emotionally because of powerful and beloved memories, I am not sure; but a lifelong favorite is a hymn we call (by its tune name) “Saint Patrick’s Breastplate,” in our Hymnal, number 370, a hymn of the Holy Trinity -- 

  • I bind unto myself today, the strong Name of the Trinity, by invocation of the same, the three in one and one in three.

  • I bind this day to me forever, by power of faith, Christ’s incarnation. His baptism in the Jordan River, his death on cross for my salvation.

And a verse especially and most powerfully for me, perhaps because of youthful memories of singing it lustily while looking out over white sand and across the sea beyond the horizon and into my own unknown, the verse -- as a youth -- a child -- speaking as a child, understanding as a child, thinking as a child -- before years, decades and half-centuries of living through what life and love and the world and time do to us -- this verse --

  • I bind unto myself this day, 
the virtues of the starlit heaven, 
the glorious sun’s life-giving ray, 
the whiteness of the moon at even,
the flashing of the lightning free, 
the whirling wind’s tempestuous shocks, 
the stable earth, the deep salt sea, 
around the old eternal rocks.

That powerful conversion hymn that I sang in my youth -- when it seemed that life and love could not but go on forever, and to make the most powerful observances of Trinity Sunday, and especially for me personally at my ordination as priest among people who loved me so dearly that the Holy Spirit spoke powerfully to me through them, music so moving and magnificent, powerful words that are said to have come from St. Patrick himself, a song of Ireland, the hymn is to me the essence of eternity as God the Father anoints the Son of Man and sends him forth, his dominion an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed. That is eternity.

That is eternity, a theological notion beyond space and time, that has no beginning and no end. Eschaton, the End of Time, either my time or all time, has no meaning, force or power in or over Eternity, the deep salt sea, around the old eternal rocks. 

Earth Abides. Nothwithstanding The Road, Earth Abides.

But it does not -- abide.

This week I did something that emotionally struck me down. I gave away my telescope. My beloved telescope. I would not have sold it, but a friend suggested I offer it to the Junior Museum -- the Science and Discovery Center. I took my grandchildren there often when they were small - and also to the Junior Museum in Tallahassee, especially Nicholas and Kristen. So this week, after delaying for weeks, I put it in my car, took it there, and they were delighted to have it. It was part of me, part of my life since 1964, and driving away from it was emotional trauma. Genesis One is only words on a page, you see, but God’s creation is real, and you can look at it and touch part of it, and I discovered Creation with my telescope,

  • roamed the universe, went to the moon, circled Saturn with its rings, 
  • watched entranced the moons of Jupiter as they move back and forth along their straight line plane on a flat disk that is actually a circular orbit around that giant planet, 
  • found galaxies of all shapes.
  • One clear, cold, pitch black night half a century ago, after some research about when and where to look, I found the planet Neptune, a tiny green disk so far away in the eastern sky, it’s too dim for the naked eye. 
  • My children and grandchildren used my beloved telescope for science projects.
Looking, as Eucharistic Prayer C says, at galaxies and stars, beyond this fragile earth, our island home, I realized that eternity is beyond human knowing. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved over churning chaos. And God said, Let there be light. And there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good. (Gn 1:1f). But there’s a puzzle, you see, a puzzle in that --

If the conundrum bothers me, pointing out sagely, chuckling knowingly, as Bible sophomores are want to do, that the “P Writer” of Genesis One has God create light before creating the sun and the moon (and the stars), if that bothers me, then as J. B. Phillips wrote, Your God Is Too Small. When God speaks, light bursts forth -- light and life, being, essence -- and somewhere untold eons beyond the Word, come sun and moon, the stable earth, the deep salt sea, and the old eternal rocks.

But I have looked and seen the great immensity. I have peered into the heavens by telescope, and seen that the rocks are NOT eternal, and neither am I:

I am dust and to dust shall I return.

I am Waiting for Godot. In some absurdist theater of time and space, I am Estragon waiting for God’oh -- the Lord God of my fathers, God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, God and Father of my Lord Jesus Christ.

With those who love Jesus, I am waiting for my Eschaton, and the coming of the Son of Man in the glory of his Father, with the holy angels. 



Fog! I saw it coming: half an hour ago beyond channel navigation lights across a crystal clear Bay, the bright low cloud hanging over the Gulf. I look away to open my laptop, look back and my window is white, no lights visible through opaque cream soup. Tradition says pea soup but pea soup is pale green, so I’m naming it vichyssoise. 

I love this spot, love, love, love, love, love it.

A walking morning but it will be fine. 59F. My head full of a spring cold, the walk will be okay. The fog will start to lift, and I will walk anyway because the gardenia cold will no doubt last for alphabet weeks. Back home (yep, home, it feels that way now) to shower. A meeting. 

The rest of the morning with a stack of papers, my annual exercise as Financial Aid Administrator for Holy Nativity Episcopal School, calculating financial aid applications for the 2015-2016 school year. Our school does, has always done, an honorable and respectable job of helping needy children. 

For a wonder, my sleep last night was a full seven or eight hours -- without once having to get up for Father Nature’s Call, thanks doubtless, to the slice of pizza for supper that Linda said was so salty. Not before but after the walk, though, I will have to swallow furosemide then do those financial aid calculations just outside a door that says “Men.” Let the reader understand. 

Yesterday was my turn in the pulpit, and as I promised a friend to print my homiletic nonsense on my blog, there will be two posts today; fog now, sermon later. 


Sunday, March 1, 2015

T+ in +Time

Comes along early Sunday morning, black out my window and across the beloved Bay, cold, well 51F colder than I like, and I muse on what to write that could bless this my thinkingest part of my day and holiest part of my week. Not a scan through the news, it could only bring me down, that’s fer sure, that’s fer dang sure.

Yet I scan anyway: a gray world where all the news is always all bad, it’s why my business associate in northern Virginia my first year of Navy retirement 37 years ago told me he never turns on the car radio on the drive to work: he refused to start his day other than up and bright. 

Scan the lectionary for today? Nah, been doing that all week long in an effort to lasso what to preach on, Genesis, Mark, and Paul in Romans all remembering Abraham.

The God of Abraham praise, who reigns enthroned above;
Ancient of everlasting days, and God of Love;
The Lord, the great I AM! by earth and Heav’n confessed;
I bow and bless the sacred Name forever blessed.

What about something from the corners of my mind, some ember still glowing -- maybe a Pontiac from long ago, or that Oldsmobile in the garage out back, is it still there? They don’t make ‘em like they used to. In fact, they don’t make ‘em at all anymore. But then neither do I, so WTH, never mind. 

Open and run the cursor down the email, nope. Oh, wait, yep, email from MJ is usually a surprising delight. There could be no more peaceful way to open the Lord’s Day than to watch Mother Nature in action, a calving glacier, a far corner of Creation being itself as life goes on. Thank you, Mary.

One thing I notice about life: I’m really enjoying growing old, so why rush it -- 

T+ still in +Time 

Saturday, February 28, 2015

kebar enash

Mark 8:31-38 Common English Bible (CEB)

31 Then Jesus began to teach his disciples: “The Human One [or Son of Man] must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and the legal experts, and be killed, and then, after three days, rise from the dead.” 32 He said this plainly. But Peter took hold of Jesus and, scolding him, began to correct him. 33 Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, then sternly corrected Peter: “Get behind me, Satan. You are not thinking God’s thoughts but human thoughts.”
34 After calling the crowd together with his disciples, Jesus said to them, “All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross, and follow me. 35  All who want to save their lives will lose them. But all who lose their lives because of me and because of the good news will save them. 36  Why would people gain the whole world but lose their lives? 37  What will people give in exchange for their lives? 38  Whoever is ashamed of me and my words in this unfaithful and sinful generation, the Human One [or Son of Man] will be ashamed of that person when he comes in the Father’s glory with the holy angels.”

+++   +++   +++

That’s the gospel reading for tomorrow, the Second Sunday in Lent, the Common English Bible. A scholarly translation, the CEB was published in 2011 as a comfortable Bible for most English readers, and General Convention 2012 authorized it for liturgical use in the Episcopal Church. Because among other things Lent is a season for learning something, we are using the CEB during Lent this year, with the people invited to notice and tell how they feel about it. There is a common, I think unfortunate, sense that the Bible must “sound holy” like the King James Version did to our 20th century ears because it was in English that sounded and was ancient, quaint, out of date. We may like to think the more mysteriouser and the more elusiver the more holier; but like the CEB today, when published in 1611 the King James Bible was the contemporary, everyday spoken English of the realm.

At any event, there’s Mark's term τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου (LXX υἱὸς ἀνθρώπου, which may help or hinder understanding of the source) that CEB renders “Human One” or alternately “son of man” that Jesus uses often, what’s it mean? In my mind it calls up a figure Daniel saw in his dream, or “night vision.” It’s at Daniel chapter 7, quite vivid, a dream that Revelation John may have had in mind in describing his own apocalyptic vision. In fact, I think Revelation John had just read Daniel 7 before going to bed, and had nightmares about it all night long, thus our book The Revelation of John. In Daniel's dream, he first sees “the ancient one” or the “ancient of days,” whom we are to recognize as God, the One God. Next steps forward a figure whom Daniel calls “kebar enash.” (LXX υἱὸς ἀνθρώπου)The footnote says it’s an Aramaic idiom literally “like a son of man” that actually means -- as all idioms mean something at least slightly different from the literal words to those who understand the expression because they are native to the language -- means “like a human being.” For some reason, the expression fascinates me such that it always takes me off on a tangent, which is my terrible habit whether writing or talking, I just cannot stay on subject. 

Why would an Aramaic idiom be used at Daniel 7:13 but Hebrew “ben adam” commonly used in other instances, including by Daniel? How did Jesus understand the term? Did he mean it to refer to that mysterious figure whom God in Daniel 7 sent forth empowered for eternity? And if so, did Jesus have himself in mind as that figure? Or was it a common idiom that those around him, who also spoke Aramaic natively, would understand as “man” or “human” without having to have this discussion every time? Or was the idiom commonly used, by the folks of that region whose native language of the day was Aramaic, to refer subtly, modestly or obliquely to oneself, or just to mean "people"? Have we made it something mysterious that was never intended? That Jesus never intended, or more specifically that Mark never intended? Or was it intended? Remembering that it’s Mark Evangelist’s story just as the words and thoughts and meanings of Tom Sawyer conversation are Mark Twain’s story. That, my thought process, is not irreverent or trivializing, it’s an intellectual aid for exploring the story: how did Mark intend for me to understand what he quotes Jesus saying? Or the other Mark and the other Tom.

In this case, I think Mark, who in my view -- if not the most eloquent with his Greek starting almost every sentence with "and" and in practically every thought rushing me forward with "immediately" -- was the most clever of writers, Mark means me to stir the Son of God with the Son of Man and come out inevitably and inescapably with Jesus.

Here's the Daniel 7 passage:

Daniel 7:13-14 Common English Bible (CEB)

13 As I continued to watch this night vision of mine, I suddenly saw one like a human being[Aramaic kebar enash (like a son of man) is an idiom that means like a human being]
    coming with the heavenly clouds.
He came to the ancient one
    and was presented before him.
Rule, glory, and kingship were given to him;
    all peoples, nations, and languages will serve him.
His rule is an everlasting one—
    it will never pass away!—

        his kingship is indestructible.

Over the years, I've diverted the attention of many, many Bible study classes to this topic, and it still fascinates me.