Thursday, November 26, 2015

2 legs good, 4 legs better

Sip of hot black coffee and the square of dark chocolate forest mint melting on the tongue reminds me, Wednesday was a lovely day -- speaking not for mankind, but for me [codgerly, I'm unapologetically a KJV and 1928 BCP man and if I want to say mankind instead of PC humankind, I'll damn well do it]. At any event, having gone to bed at eleven Tuesday night as an experiment to see how late I might sleep, up at seven, not bad.

So Wednesday: up, tomato sandwich for breakfast. Stop at the church for prayerbooks and reserved sacrament, say the rubrical words (BCP 408) to remind B&W that they were already consecrated and transubstantiated. To the home of parishioner friends by ten o’clock. Home after, stopping at Buddy Gandy’s for oysters. Kristen came over to frost and decorate the Italian Cream Cake, part of Thanksgiving dessert she and Linda baked Monday. 20-minute nap. For lunch about one p.m. we went down the street for three tiny pizzas at Enzo’s. Thin individual pizza with double anchovies for me, and a Killians Red, avoiding the 30A beer I was going to order until I saw it was listed and priced among “Imports.” Well, it is a long way to the Walton County line, isn’t it. Kris and Linda ate their pizzas, I have three pieces left over, in the refrigerator. Breakfast, perhaps. 

Perfect afternoon because Kris was here. About four-thirty the almost daily sludgery sets in and with it Linda's almost daily caution "don't go to sleep, it's too late to nap," and then suggested I have a dark chocolate square to wake me up. Perfect: one square with ice water (too late for coffee). My chocolate consumption may double, having discovered it works as well late afternoon as early morning. Octogenarian's afternoon delight: chocolate instead of an Olds Cutlass, and nose into a book. 

In the book I’m loving, A. N. Wilson's biography of C.S. Lewis, I’m up to the Inklings chapter and watching Lewis and Tolkien, whom Lewis called “Tollers”, manipulating for the devilment of it, election of the nice but borderline incompetent Magdalen college chaplain as Professor of Poetry at Oxford for the year 1938. Fox’s distinguishing work apparently was "Ole King Cole", but in his ignorance he slammed the foremost literary scholar of England who had been nominated, saying “they might as well elect me Professor of Poetry,” to which Lewis responded, “Well, we will” and proceeded to organize it. 

Elsewhere, I’m enjoying an online lecture course on C.S. Lewis offered by Hillsdale College, and downloaded free online “The Abolition of Man” to read on my laptop. I mean, without a sermon to write every week there's time on my mind and the Olds Cutlass out in the garage won't start. Dead battery, I reckon.

Supper, eight braised oysters on thin wheat toast. For soup, poured together in a coffee mug four oz. pot liquor from the yellow squash for tomorrow’s squash casserole, three oz. oyster potliquor, one ounce milk and cream left over from the pumpkin pie chilled overnight out on the porch. Delicious. 

Re: cooling holiday food, the 7th floor porch is safe from raccoons compared to the porches at the big house. Could be gulped by a pelican or carried away by an osprey, I suppose, but so far hasn't been. Today will be our first celebratory holiday in our downsized home, 13 room house to 3 room condo.
 As well as the two of us, we’re expecting five loved ones from Tallahassee + five locals = 12. A four-legged turkey so there are enough drumsticks, Happy Thanksgiving to all, and to all a good night. I'm thankful for all these people and more. I'm thankful for Wednesday Nights at HNEC. 

Last night returning to regular habit, to bed at eight, up at four with chocolate and cuppa.


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

'Twas the Month before XMAS

From summer direct into winter, apparently: as we drove out 231 for Tallahassee yesterday the thermometer in Linda’s car read 34 degrees and in the fields along the highway the weeds were covered with frost shining in the rising sun. Sure enough, the electronic device that TJCC gave me for Christmas some years ago reads 52, so I guess winter is upon us early. Not quite ready yet, but as long as the temperature doesn’t drop, it’s cool, Baby. A bit chilly for sitting on the porch. Here in my blue lift chair, feet and legs covered with a light blanket, sliding glass door open to let in the Month Before Christmas. Across a calm, dark Bay, Shell Island beckoning but no takers, and Life Is Good. Retired with plenty going on to exercise mind, body and soul, lots of people to love, and I’d rather be 80 than 20 and starting my senior year of college.

Well, I don’t know, what I’m thinking about right now with this weather is that it feels just like my first week at Navy OCS in Newport, Rhode Island, July 1957. I thought I'd moved into a refrigerator. That was fun, I might go back after all. Or spring 1978 and 42, retired from the Navy and heading off to Australia for the first time. Oz at the time was like stepping back 75 years, and by the time I’d been there five weeks, one thought was to migrate to Sydney. 

Yesterday morning we attended for the last time, the wonderful Grandpersons Day at Holy Comforter Episcopal School. Next fall, Charlotte will go to public middle school and Caroline will be a high school freshman. Both girls are musical, Caroline plays flute and Charlotte trumpet in their school bands, maybe those interests will continue in their next schools such that there will be reasons for us to keep on enjoying their school days with them.

In the news, horrific events since 9/11, and building, the Paris atrocity, and now a NATO nation shooting down a Russian warplane, feels grotesquely like living into the first chapter of Alas, Babylon, The Day After, On the Beach, or The Road. I think I'll take my past over your future.

Anu Garg again.
We haven't yet learned how to stay human when assembled in masses. -Lewis Thomas, physician and author (25 Nov 1913-1993) 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


It’s difficult for people of reason, conscience and compassion to know what to say and think about the refugee crisis that is so threatening here and so real abroad. Scrolling down news sites such as NBC, one discovers no end to pathetic pictures of people waiting to cross borders. The ones with little children touch my heart the most. Those of angry young men are frightening, perhaps they should not be so. Winter is coming on, people will be suffering, some dying, maybe many will die, most of the dead, children. This will be unconscionable, our own holocaust in history’s judgment. A global catastrophe looms that’s too big to deal with. And the fear of terrorists coming in is real, both the fear and the threat. Our government is foolish to stomp over the people's fear instead of facing it and responding. For myself, I’ve lost all confidence in government's competence to deal with the situation while also dealing with a priority of trying to keep Americans feeling safe a little longer. Of course, we fool ourselves: terrorist cells are already here, waiting for the word. In another place and generation they would already have been rounded up, information extracted, and interned or executed. It can still be done: do we want that?

Speaking of and frighteningly, the refugee situation is feeding right wing extremism in Germany, where guilt should stir the national conscience forever, but where seventy years have not washed away their core aryan contempt of foreigners and people of other races, people who are different. Nor am I sure we are cleaner in America as both Right and Left shriek with hatred, the Left with hatred of the Right, the Right with hatred born of fear. But the fear is reasonable and human: we hate and fear those who hate, threaten and hurt us. At some point perhaps we will better understand how they feel in Israel, the rage, the fear, the hatred and determination. Sadly, the government is doing nothing to teach, inform and assure the people, rather the government is as arrogant as dictators, not of, by, and for the people. And the biggest fools are not government but common American citizens who are adamantly certain they are correct, both Right and Left. At the moment, the Left is more arrogant and certitudinous.

What to do? I don’t know. I do know that I would rather at this time in this crisis have government led by a president who is not timid, who knows that those who hate us cannot be discouraged and contained and frightened away into submission. I want leadership who remember that war is  fought to be won, But neither do I want the egotistical, populist raving dog, an arrogant, pompous, blustering, know-nothing madman. I Like Ike but I don't see him.

Here are a couple of voices of calm.

November 18, 2015
Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop and Primate Michael B. Curry addresses the current Syrian refugee crisis:

“Be not afraid!”  
Often in the gospels, fear grips the people of God, and time and again, either the angels, or Our Lord himself, respond with the same words of comfort: “Be not afraid.”  
In times like this fear is real.   And I share that fear with you.  Our instinct tells us to be afraid. The fight-or-flight mentality takes hold.  At the present moment, many across our Church and our world are grasped by fear in response to the terrorist attacks that unfolded in Paris last Friday.  These fears are not unfounded.  We can and should support law enforcement officials who are working hard and at great risk to protect us from crime and keep us safe.   And yet, especially when we feel legitimate fear, our faith reminds us “Be not afraid.”  The larger truth is that our ultimate security comes from God in Christ.
In the Book of Leviticus, God says to the people of Israel that, “the foreigner who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the foreigner as yourself, for you were foreigners in the land of Egypt.”  Accordingly, we welcome the stranger.  We love our neighbor.  The Episcopal Church has long been committed to resettling refugees in our own communities fleeing violence and persecution.
The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, through its Episcopal Migration Ministries service, works with dioceses and congregations, and the United States government, to settle refugees in communities across this great country.  The Episcopal Church has been engaged in this ministry for more than 75 years.  We will not let the nightmare this world often is keep us from carrying out the words of Jesus who told us to be a neighbor to those in need.
Refugees from places like Syria seek to escape the precise same ideological and religious extremism that gave birth to the attacks in Paris.  They seek entry into our communities because their lives are imprisoned by daily fear for their existence.   Just as Jesus bids us not to be afraid, we must, in turn, pass those words of comfort to those who turn to us for help.
But Jesus calls us to go even further: not just to love our neighbors and our kin, but to love our enemies.  This is particularly difficult when we are afraid.    But even in the midst of our fear we stand on the solid ground of our faith and proclaim the faith in Christ crucified and risen from the dead.  In practical terms, this may mean finding strength in prayer, or in our neighbors, or in our churches, or in acts of solidarity with others who live in fear.   This is the hope that casts out fear.  
The fear is real.  So we pray.  We go to church.  We remember who we are in Jesus.   Our resurrection hope is larger than fear.   Let nothing keep us from that hope, that faith, that security in Gods dream for all of humanity.
“Be not afraid!”

Monday, November 23, 2015

τρίτου οὐρανοῦ

This is now, sunrise before morning walk,

 but sunrise or sunset, that brilliant streak of red orange never takes, does it, never shows up with my iPhone 4 camera. This is decent, isn’t it, the camera lies, but there’s the paper-mill against the skyline from seventh heaven. Which, 2 Corinthians 12:2, makes me wonder again what Paul was talking about when he wrote, “οἶδα ἄνθρωπον ἐν Χριστῷ πρὸ ἐτῶν δεκατεσσάρων, εἴτε ἐν σώματι οὐκ οἶδα, εἴτε ἐκτὸς τοῦ σώματος οὐκ οἶδα, ὁ θεὸς οἶδεν, ἁρπαγέντα τὸν τοιοῦτον ἕως τρίτου οὐρανοῦ.” Nicholas Poussin paints an image of it though, “Paul’s Ascent to the Third Heaven”

and the discussion seems to be that Paul was talking about himself. Could it have been a dream? Or an out of body experience. Fourteen years ago I was sixty-six and it would have been, what November 23, 2001.That’s a long time for the world to have been at war. Will historians ratify Pope Francis, that this was WW3, or will someone push a red button igniting such a global conflagration that there are no historians? The other day the Pope characterized Christmas as a “charade” that we celebrate and make merry as though all is joy, peace and goodwill to anthropos in whom God is well-pleased, when all the world is at war, cruelty, hunger, suffering, homelessness. 

Time to change clothes and walk.

Thos+ in +Time+

Sunday, November 22, 2015


Almighty and everlasting God, whose will it is to restore all
things in your well-beloved Son, the King of kings and Lord of
lords: Mercifully grant that the peoples of the earth, divided
and enslaved by sin, may be freed and brought together
under his most gracious rule; who lives and reigns with you
and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer has a different prayer, called a “collect” to be said at the beginning of worship for each Sunday of the church year. Above is our collect for today, which with other liturgical churches of the Western tradition, we observe as the Feast of Christ the King. The observance was established by Pope Pius XI in 1925 as a response to growing nationalism and secularism after World War I, in particular the rise of fascism in Italy under Benito Mussolini. 

The construct of a collect always get my attention. Not all by any means, but the classic, usual form is three parts: an address to God that usually is a theological assertion of a characteristic of God, a single petition praying God to take a particular action, and a closing in the Name of the Trinity. This is such a collect.

A lifelong Episcopalian, my observation in liturgical worship is that certain elements are done somewhat by rote and without being noticed by the people except that some will notice if they are omitted. This includes the collect for/of the day, which simply gets said as part of the opening rite as the liturgy passes on to the next step. Mindful of this, and resisting rote in worship simply because it’s pretty much the same Sunday to Sunday, I have taken to paying attention to the collect and often making a point of it in such as adult Sunday School class. We may take notice of the theological assertion and have a short discussion about whether we agree with what it says about God. And/or we may look at the petition and wonder what we believe, expect or hope about God’s response. In the first place, lex orandi lex credendi, our theology is found in what we do and say and sing and pray when we gather for worship, and so the collect is a manifestation of our Anglican theology: this is what we believe about God and about what God can and will do.

America is today, and is often described as a multicultural society. We have here, and it is our national tradition to expect and accept that not everyone is like us, our neighbors are different, including different backgrounds, origins, heritages, religions, beliefs, observances, celebrations, practices, foods, holidays. There is no place in America for intolerance, except perhaps intolerance of people who insist that others must think and believe as they do. It’s okay to believe that others are wrong, but it’s unAmerican, not okay to insist by law or force. I don’t want to wander off my track, but it seems to me that, as well as coming out of oppression, terrorism says that you must believe and do as I believe and do, or I will kill you and yours to scare and force you into compliance. That’s probably only true to an extent, as terrorism seems to degrade civilization into anarchy with no clear objective.

Anyway, I’m pondering the collect, both what we assert that God wants, and what we ask God to grant. I’m not sure that God is displeased with our multicultural society and wants us all to be the same, Christians. I’m not certain of that anymore than I’m certain that it was God who wanted the wandering people of Israel to slaughter all living things as they crossed the river into the promised land and conquered each city. I think that was the Israelites’ perception of what God wanted as their victory, but I’m not sure it was God’s will. I’m a bit uneasy about this collect as well, because I believe that God likes what America ideally could be: a nation of freedom and peace for all peoples and an example to the world. We are, as another collect says, multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. I believe God loves us just as we are, the way we are, or at least the way we mean to be, which is diverse and multicultural. I don’t believe God’s will is that we all must be the same, μὴ γένοιτο. I certainly don’t believe God wants you to be like me, or, μὴ γένοιτο, me to be like you.

But I’ll say the collect this morning. It's lovely words, in good taste, and prescribed for today. Nobody will notice what it says anyway.

Saturday, November 21, 2015


inadvertently I deleted Saturday morning's blogpost that blanketed a post from Barbara Crafton, college football, the crow that I'm afraid I'll have to eat again for Thanksgiving dinner, the current political firefight over refugees, and the collect of the day for tomorrow, the Feast of Christ the King. The blogpost was so off the wall that I likely would have Reverted it to Draft anyway, but it's deleted; so if you got it you got it and if you didn't you don't.

Friday, November 20, 2015


It’s three o’clock in the morning, and four, a time of peace up here in the sky. Pelicans will arrive soon, seagulls, cormorants, egrets and others, splashing and flapping, fishing for their breakfast, but at the dark moment it’s peace, all quiet. 

Birds don’t hate other birds, far as I can tell, I don’t know that different species understand each other, but where a few gather, others circle and splash down. They may steal fish from each other’s mouths, but I’ve never seen one sea bird attack another with vicious intent. 

Why do we hate? Next time, if I get to choose, I’m being a pelican. An osprey. Not a human, never again.

Five o'clock in the morning, soon six, a place and time of peace.

Six o'clock, and seven.