Thursday, January 16, 2020

not unhome

Total fog out, fog and 70°, it's the season and welcome, glad and happy here. This time last year was hurrication exile in Walton County, which is unhome. Bay County is home, StAndrewsBay is home, looking out on the foggy white Bay is home. Indeed is not all nor even the main, but one reason I no longer live in Harrisburg, 44° at the moment. No cat 5 hurricanes in Pennsylvania though. WashDC and Northern Virginia. Places near the heart. Do you remember ...

Trying to pick back up on Hebrew, this time with a book. And my practice with Exodus 3 and Genesis 1. Besides an imbecile IQ, my problem with Hebrew is that being able to sound the letters through to make a word is more difficult when the Hebrew has no vowel markings, then not knowing what the word means anyway, so have to go to an interlinear or look at the picture in an ad on Haaretz. A related problem with English pronunciation, works better if you speak the language and already know a word and in its context in order to pronounce its spelling. Read: I read every day. I read yesterday. Right Rite Write Wright. Working at it regardless is good mental exercise for one in my age group, which is 39 to 84. Exercise like writing a blogpost (did you actually think I write this rubbish for you to read?). Working, okay playing, solitaire games that are free online, Bubba's cheap, I don't pay to play. Prepping sermons and the study necessary competently to lead Sunday school class also work the brain. Even so I can't find my keys, I don't know where I parked my earphones before going to bed last night. And I cannot remember to turn my cellphone back on after church on Sundays, thus it never rings when you call, it's not that I don't want to talk with you.

But oh - - according to "recents" I had eleven crank calls yesterday. They don't ring though, because only "contact" calls ring. If even you call and are not on my contacts list, my phone doesn't ring. I'd love to chat with you, but leave a message.

On our walk last Friday morning, I took a picture of my childhood home, the house where I grew up. Looking good, although HMichael took down the trees in the front yard. Across the street, where used to be Massalina Bayou, is now just a criss-crossed mess of enormous hurricane toppled pine trees.


Wednesday, January 15, 2020


Sure enough, it's fog season, time is after seven o'clock and the fog is retreating, maybe as the air is warmed by the sun, but still out there. From 7H porch, looking across StAndrewsBay, past Davis Point and onward into the whiteness. 

Our bible story for this coming Sunday is John's account of the baptism event in which he, John, skirts any mention of Jesus being baptized by John the Baptist. So, if John was our only canonized gospel, it would be arguable at best. Gospel John slides by the baptism to the next day and the next, when, both days, John the Baptist sees Jesus walking by and remarks to his disciples, "Behold the Lamb of God", which sets one element of Gospel John's agenda in which Jesus is crucified on the day of preparation for the Passover, when the lambs were slaughtered for the feast, thus becoming the Lamb of God. John's gospel is far different to the Synoptics in almost every way and of the four, at least to me, Gospel John has the best control of his agenda, his story about Jesus, Christ, Logos. That still does not steer me off my path in which my favorite books of the Bible are Genesis, Mark, and Revelation. 

Do I have least favorites? Come to think of it, I never thought about it that way, but maybe Joshua with its presentation of a murderous people driven by their scorched earth Deity. So, yes, Joshua. 

And maybe Acts, which, Luke's great adventure stories leave us feeling we have a definitive historical account of Paul. Writing what? thirty years or more after Paul's death?, Luke is so convincing that it doesn't occur to us to wonder if what Luke writes about Paul in Acts ties to what Paul tells us about himself in his own letters. Luke is likely close enough to Paul, though he, Luke, develops his adventure stories in more detail and verbatim than one might reasonably expect from stories passed down for several decades. Granted, tradition takes over to answer questions and close disconnects.

At any event, I appreciate this coming Sunday's gospel story from John that also lets us explore Simon's Aramaic name Κηφᾶς and it's translation Πέτρος Peter, and trace to the Matthew 16:17f exchange when Jesus names and commissions Simon as Peter the Rock, and what the Christian church has done with that. And the relationship between our Collect for the Day that calls Jesus the Light of the World, and our Old Testament lesson from servant song Isaiah 49 in which the oracle says You are too great to be just my servant and save Israel, I'll make you a light to the gentiles so you can save all the world. And to Luke's character Simeon who calls the infant Jesus "a light to enlighten the Gentiles". And circle back to John 8:12 I AM the light of the world, where Jesus, again central to John's agenda, offends his Jewish audience with his I AM sayings by which Jesus blasphemously ties himself to God naming himself I AM as He speaks to Moses from the burning bush in Exodus 3; and back to the Collect. 

After eight o'clock and still foggy out there, the foggy foggy dew dripping from the scaffolding.


Exodus 3:14 καὶ εἶπεν ὁ Θεὸς πρὸς Μωυσῆν λέγων· ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ ὤν. καὶ εἶπεν· οὕτως ἐρεῖς τοῖς υἱοῖς ᾿Ισραήλ· ὁ ὢν ἀπέσταλκέ με πρὸς ὑμᾶς. (LXX)

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Fr Arnold

In my email this morning is a notice that calls to mind an awareness that we live into and through a season and then all of a sudden we realize it's history, part of our past:

With sadness, we report that former Interim Rector of Holy Nativity, the Rev. Arnold Bush, died on January 10, 2020. 

Arnold arrived as Interim Rector in January 2003 and brought relief, smiles, happy faces, happiness itself, the happiness that is the experience of love, back into our parish. As nearly all parishes do at some time in life, ours had been going through a rough period that those of us who were there and cannot forget, or worse, worst, will not forget, a time we call The Troubles. From April 2000 until January 2003, Linda and I had been away at Grace Church PCB where I was Interim Rector for awhile, and then at St Andrew's Episcopal, returning home to Holy Nativity on Arnold's first Sunday. Looking at the calendar and reconstructing events, it would have been Sunday, January 19, 2003. 

Recognizing me in the congregation, he stopped me after church, we chatted, and Linda and I invited him to have supper with us at our home that evening. He came alone, Zoe was home at their cottage on Choctawhatchee Bay near Niceville, Valparaiso, where before retiring, Arnold had served as rector of St Jude's Episcopal Church. Meeting in church that morning, and our meal together that evening, began a happy working relationship for the next year and a half, and a warm friendship that only ended last Friday when Arnold died. 

Arnold was happiness itself, smiles without end amen. He was a character. His Monday morning staff meetings could go all morning and did so. His vestry meetings lasted hours upon hours. Arnold that first evening asked me to come on HNEC staff and help him. In church Sunday mornings, once we realized what was about to happen again as Arnold set up a music stand in the center aisle at sermon time, those of us sitting behind the Altar under the Jesus figure (which is where it was at the time) looked at each other knowingly and checked our watches. Ray Wishart was often one of us, called where we were sitting "under Jesus' armpit", which was so. Arnold's sermons were like the Gloria Patri, "world without end". They went on and on and on, But we loved Arnold, and it was okay. In advance he printed copies of his sermon outline, and (I don't recall) it was either tucked into the worship bulletin so you could follow along with him, or available on a table by the door as you entered church for worship.

Arnold's tenure with us was my second time serving Holy Nativity as "priest associate", a title which simply meant (and still means today) that as a retired priest, I help the rector in any way he needs that requires an ordained priest. I was on the preaching schedule to give him relief. I filled in as "supply priest" when he was away, including summers, when he and Zoe took extended vacations. Loving Arnold, everyone nevertheless groaned, at least inwardly, as he set up the music stand after the gospel every Sunday morning and began his sermon. When I told him, "Arnold your sermons are way too long, you're losing your audience, you need to not talk so long" he laughed loudly and said, "That's the same thing Zoe tells me!" and nothing changed. 

Sometime in 2003 someone asked Arnold something about EfM*, Episcopal program of theological education by extension, and Arnold heard me mention that I had once been an EfM mentor for several years. Arnold immediately told me he wanted me to start an EfM seminar group at Holy Nativity. I resisted, but found it useless to say NO to Arnold, because he never gave up; and I started an EfM group that for years met in my classroom at Holy Nativity School, then moved to the school library, then the church library, eventually expanded to three groups, then two at HNEC, one at St Andrews Episcopal and one at St Thomas Laguna Beach, all that I mentored for years until fall 2010 when my heart issue rose and I had to turn all the groups over to Ray Wishart, who had recently become my co-mentor, and whom I subsequently recruited into the Episcopal clergy. 

In August 2004 I was asked to be priest at St Thomas by the Sea, Laguna Beach, left Arnold at Holy Nativity, and was at StThomas nearly five years, through April 2009. But when Arnold arrived at HNEC in Jan 2003, I had been serving as school chaplain and religion teacher at HNES since the previous HNEC rector left, and had long been on HNES school board and school foundation board, and continued all that; so even after leaving HNEC I still worked with Arnold some. Our relationship was always far warmer than simply cordial. 

What is still in my mind this morning, is Arnold's obliviousness to time, the passing of time. For Arnold, Time was simply the Present, which never passed. Which, though his sermons seemed unending, was part of his Being. That Sunday evening seventeen years ago when he came to our house for supper was a delightful visit. But a couple of hours into it, and as we were eating supper, the phone rang and from Tallahassee either Jeremy or our daughter Tass told Linda that her water had broken and she and Jeremy were on the way to the hospital. Tass has been my One since we found out Linda was pregnant in 1971, and I panicked and said we need to get over there right now. But Arnold talked and ate and we finished supper and beyond my saying every time he paused for breath, "Well we really need to leave now and get on over to Tallahassee now", Arnold talked and talked on and on and on as long seconds ticked by and my anxiety rose. Eventually, about nine o'clock, the evening came to a close. Along with Arnold, Linda and I carried our suitcase out, closed and locked the door and got in our car as Arnold got in his car to return to Choctawhatchee Bay. 

We sped to Tallahassee only to spend hours in the waiting area until Jeremy came out in the wee hours of Monday, January 20, 2003 and told us Caroline is here. She's named for me, Carroll, and she'll be seventeen this coming Monday. And she's very special. 

That Sunday evening in our home was a wonderful visit with Arnold Bush, helped establish our happy working relationship as colleagues, and was always a friendship of the lovingkindness that was Arnold's very personality.

Go with God, Arnold.


EfM Education for Ministry

If you have a favorite picture, it doesn't need to be related to your text. Osprey diving for a fish. Action shot by dear friend Arthur Reedie.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Bubba likes Red

What to say, write, this morning, it's 5:04 and I've been up an hour. Evidently (what's the evidence? a full cup of cold coffee sitting under the brewer spout), I brewed my cup of coffee unintentionally, pushing the button by accident last night, so it was cold and didn't well melt the square of wake-up chocolate. Why not brew a fresh cup? because the machine sounds loud in the utter silence of predawn, and I didn't want to wake Linda, who's still asleep. Things have changed for me in the past thirty or forty years, and I no longer enjoy getting up at four o'clock in the morning to begin my new day. Busy morning ahead, or I'd have my eye on a nap.

So reading, what? BBC news online, why? because it's not Fox or CNN. News often not Of General Interest, but there it is. Rebels in the Royal Family. Canada PM raging about Iran mistakenly shooting down the airliner (in 1988 the American guided missile cruiser USS Vincennes shot down Iran Air passenger airliner as it took off, mistaking it for an incoming missile, so horrific tragedy works both ways). But intriguing human stories now and again, today this one

Walk time moved from 7:00 to 7:15 for this morning. 68°F out, a reasonably agreeable Florida Gulf Coast winter thus far. One thing we've notice living here right on top of StAndrewsBay is that since Hurricane Michael there are no pleasure boats out on the Bay, neither on what were once normal boating Saturdays nor even on holidays. Many, many boats were destroyed, and all the marinas were destroyed. And maybe the appeal and excitement of being out on the Bay and to Shell Island and back are gone?

What today? Not wanting the last of it to disappear, have reconstructed a small remnant of proper gumbo with filé gumbo powder, a quart can of gumbo mix bought in Louisiana our last visit to Denham Springs, and a quart of raw oysters cooked into it. It's thick and dark brown and delicious. 

So, what else is new?

It's raining. Raining and thick fog at the moment. Octogenarians, two old men in our middle eighties don't need to tempt Father Nature & Father Time when they unite against us. We no longer take risky chances. I'll have to check the clouds and see if walking is advisable.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

In This Way

In This Way

Sermon in Holy Nativity Episcopal Church, Panama City, Florida on Sunday, January 12, 2020, The Baptism of Christ. The Rev Tom Weller. Text: Matthew 3:15.

Matthew 3:13-17
Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented. And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”


“Let it be so now; for it is proper for us In This Way to fulfill all righteousness.” Did you know that those are Jesus’ first words to us?

Did you know that every word in the Bible is intentional? And the various sequences, all intentional. Nothing is incidental, every verse is there for a reason, in its right order, in its right place, God telling you something. Just so Jesus’ very first words to us, “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us In This Way to fulfill all righteousness.” 

In the Bible, this is the first thing Jesus says, Jesus first command: “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us In This Way to fulfill all righteousness.”

What does He mean? For centuries on end, Bible scholars have pondered the meaning of these words. Why does Jesus say this, what does Jesus mean by it? In terms of “literary criticism” (“criticism” means “discussion and analysis leading to better understanding", it does not mean throwing stones!), why is this command of Jesus, here made to John, but ultimately made to us? Why is it so important to Matthew that he remembers it as the very first words out of Jesus mouth?

Do not be thrown off track by the situation here. That John the Baptist baptized Jesus was a problem for the early Christian community. To them, it implied a ranking in which John out-ranked anyone he, John, baptized, including outranking Jesus, who presumably then becomes John’s disciple. It was a matter of submission. 

So early on, as the Christian movement realized who Jesus was, it was imperative to see John the Baptist, not as Jesus’ superior, but as his predecessor and proclaimer. 

Furthermore, there was a movement in those days, that lifted up John the Baptist as Christ, the Messiah, and that movement had to be addressed and dismissed. All four canonical gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, face this issue and deal with it right at the very beginning of their gospel stories; and they do so competently if somewhat subtly - - it’s a literary technique how one presents the facts - -

the gospel writers report John the Baptist himself setting the stage so to speak, in which John himself announces that One is coming after John who was before John, and who is greater than John. Then when Jesus arrives, John proclaims that Jesus is The One. Here in Matthew, John even says “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” Jesus tacitly affirms yes, that is true, but goes on, “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us - - In this Way - - to fulfill all righteousness.” At first shallow glance it seems, in context, simply to be Jesus’ participating in a conversation affirming that Jesus outranks John. But to focus on that distracts from what Jesus says to us.

There’s a second issue, equally distracting, equally shallow - - today 20 centuries on, we say it is not appropriate for John to baptize Jesus because John’s baptism is for the forgiveness of sins, which, being without sin, Jesus does not need, and to baptize the sinless One is redundant. But that’s us today here and now. Matthew’s story is of John and Jesus then and there.  

So here’s the essence: Jesus’ first words to us, at his baptism, lay the foundation for human life, as Jesus is baptized into the Way of the Cross.  At Matthew 3:15, Jesus sets the standard for Christian life: baptism sets YOU on "The Way to fulfill all righteousness”, which is precisely the Way of the Cross not only for Jesus, but for you.

Yes, baptism is a rite of initiation: baptism inducts you. - - Just as Jesus did (and God affirms him, saying “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased’), you come out to be baptized, you submit to the power and authority of the Holy Spirit in baptism, you come up out of the water, sin washed away, spiritually reborn. You become a member of the Body of Christ, a citizen of the kingdom of God (Matthew calls it the kingdom of Heaven), which is not up above the clouds high in the sky, the kingdom is right here, right now, today. The kingdom of God is this morning, this hour. The kingdom of God is your waking up tomorrow morning and going forth to live your life this week in the way of the cross as it is laid upon you. This is the kingdom of God, and Baptism is the gate.

Baptism is also how you acquire the absolute right to receive the the Body and Blood of the Blessed Sacrament. Here at Holy Nativity we invite, encourage and welcome everyone to receive Holy Communion with us, no matter who or what you are, because that’s what Jesus does. In Holy Communion when the invitation is given, everyone present is invited and welcome to break bread with Jesus, just as Jesus Took and Blessed and Broke and Gave the bread to the five thousand. But with baptism, you do not have to be invited, you acquire The Absolute Right.

But remember - - with rights come responsibilities, as Jesus says at baptism, “… it is proper for us In This Way - - to fulfill all righteousness”. In what Way? What righteousness? BAPTISM!! Baptism is The Way. Baptism is not only your initiation into being a Christian to worship and eat and drink together. Baptism sets you on the Way of the Cross, a way of love and sacrifice.

Again, when you come to baptism, you submit to the power and authority of the Holy Spirit. You make promises about the Way you will live as a baptized Christian, a child of God. And what is required of you as a Christian, what is required and what you promise, is clear and precise. Baptism is a covenant, your contract with God, in which you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you promise to follow and obey him as your Lord, and you promise five things as your way of righteousness:

You promise to continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of the bread, and in the prayers. That means being involved in the ongoing life of the church as your centering point.

You promise to persevere in resisting evil, and whenever you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord. Nearly every Sunday, the liturgy gives you an opportunity to examine yourself, confess your sins, and start anew as if you’rd being baptized all over again. We’ll ;do that this morning. 

You promise to proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ. Everyone who encounters you should see Jesus in everything you think, and say, and do; and in this 21st century, that includes what you write on social media, the hateful things people write anonymously about those who disagree with them socially and politically. You are Christ in the world today: if you are not Christ, then Christ is not Risen.

You promise to seek and serve Christ in ALL persons, loving your neighbor as yourself. Your neighbor is not people who think and believe and behave and vote as you do, but Americans who hate you for being Republican or Democrat. Your neighbors are immigrants to this Land of Promise and Freedom, and foreigners of a different religion and color, who make television headline news by doing something hateful to you or to our country.

You promise to strive for justice and peace among all people. Perhaps more important than everything else, you promise to respect the dignity of every human being. Do you degrade or dismiss people who are a different race, nationality, religion, color, people who are brown or black and you are white; people who are gay and you are straight, people who love the politicians you hate and hate the politicians you love? This is election year: do not participate in the hatred.

You are baptized into the Way of the Cross. That means that sometimes you have to let life hurt without striking back. How are you doing? You are only human, you will break your promises to God. But He whose word cannot be broken will never stop being your God. God does not let you go, God does not dismiss you, God does not scratch you off the list, God does not throw you away like rubbish. When you stray, God watches for you, keeps the light on in the window and sits up all night waiting for you to come home. Once you submit to God in baptism, God will never let you go. 

As we remember the Baptism of Jesus, you have a new opportunity this morning, a chance to start over and recommit your life to Christ.

First the promises, then the water. The baptismal bowl contains water that some of you brought back from the River Jordan last summer, we’ll pray God to renew that water’s holiness this morning, so you may touch it, if you wish, and make the sign of the cross in remembrance and renewal of your baptism.

“Let it be so now, for In This Way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness”. Will you come? 
Will you renew your promise? 

If so, will you stand?

Art pinched online. Sorry. Will delete if asked.

Friday, January 10, 2020

The Way

Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented. And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:13-17, NRSV)


Matthew 3:13-17 is our gospel reading for this coming Sunday, The Baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though none are scheduled in our church, the day is nominated as especially appropriate for being baptized. Baptism is the first of the two so-called dominical sacraments of the Church, dominical from Latin for Lord because, according to the Bible, the Lord Jesus himself instituted Baptism and Holy Communion, Mass, Eucharist, the Lord's Supper.

Volumes have been written about Baptism and Christian theology and practice of baptism, including in The Episcopal Church. Where one might look to determine what we believe, though, is, as the Latin phrase "lex orandi lex credendi" suggests, in our liturgy, at what we do and say and sing and pray when baptism comes along, in the liturgy itself and in our lives, our compliance, observance, practice, keeping the promises we make in the sacrament we receive.

Here's what the Catechism says. Remember, a catechism is a teaching in question and answer format.

Holy Baptism
Q. What is Holy Baptism?
A. Holy Baptism is the sacrament by which God adopts us as his children and makes us members of Christ's Body, the Church, and makes us inheritors of the kingdom of God.

The catechism answer is only half adequate. Holy Baptism is a covenant in which we make specific life-defining commitments to God, a "new life of grace".

A liturgical prayer expressing theology of Baptism reads:

"Heavenly Father, we thank you that by water and the Holy Spirit you have bestowed upon these your servants the forgiveness of sin, and have raised them to the new life of grace. Sustain them, O Lord, in your Holy Spirit. Give them an inquiring and discerning heart, the courage to will and to persevere, a spirit to know and to love you, and the gift of joy and wonder in all your works. Amen."

Theologically, the prayer asserts that in Baptism we receive forgiveness of sin and are raised to a new life of grace. The new life of grace might be our stepping into the Way of the Cross as we live into the promises we make in our Baptismal Covenant. As to forgiveness of sin, does it mean forgiveness of each of the individual sins we’ve committed, known and unknown, petty and major, venial and mortal, up to now? Or does it mean the washing away of our human sinful nature as the doctrine of Original Sin has it?  

Baptism might be seen as a rite of purification of all the sins one has committed in one's life up to this point, as asperges and/or the Collect for Purity are a rite of purification as we enter worship, as washing hands before supper. And there may have been a time, or perhaps still is, when the church, or some, regarded Baptism as washing away the stains of Original Sin, about which our Anglican history, in the 39 Articles of Religion, says:

IX. Of Original or Birth Sin.
Original sin standeth not in the following of Adam, (as the Pelagians do vainly talk;) but it is the fault and corruption of the Nature of every man, that naturally is engendered of the  offspring of Adam; whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and is of his own nature inclined to evil, so that the flesh lusteth always contrary to the Spirit; and therefore in every person born into this world, it deserveth God's wrath and damnation. And this infection of nature doth remain, yea in them that are regenerated; whereby the lust of the flesh, called in Greek, Φρόνημα σαρκός, (which some do expound the wisdom, some sensuality, some the affection, some the desire, of the flesh), is not subject to the Law of God. And although there is no condemnation for them that believe and are baptized; yet the Apostle doth confess, that concupiscence and lust hath of itself the nature of sin.


XVI. Of Sin after Baptism.
Not every deadly sin willingly committed after Baptism is sin against the Holy Ghost, and unpardonable. Wherefore the grant of repentance is not be denied to such as fall into sin after Baptism. After we have received the Holy Ghost, we may depart from grace given, and fall into sin, and by the grace of God we may arise again, and amend our lives. And therefore they are to be condemned, which say, they can no more sin as long as they live here, or deny the place of forgiveness to such as truly repent.


XVII. Of Baptism.
Baptism is not only a sign of profession, and mark of difference, whereby Christian men are discerned from others that be not christened, but it is also a sign of Regeneration or New-Birth, whereby, as by an instrument, they that receive Baptism rightly are grafted into the Church; the promises of the forgiveness of sin, and of our adoption to be the sons of God by the Holy Ghost, are visibly signed and sealed; Faith is confirmed, and Grace increased by virtue of prayer unto God.
The Baptism of young Children is in any wise to be retained in the Church, as most agreeable with the institution of Christ.

The 39 Articles trace to the 16th century Reformation, and, as well as some articles of doctrine, reflect the Church of England's position vis-a-vis certain aspects of Roman Catholicism and Calvinism, where some of the language is quite strong. Glory to whoever drafted Article IX, I'm sure he was proud of his product and himself, perhaps a stern ascetic shaking his head in disgust and pious disapproval that God, who looked and said it was Very Good, made sexuality such a central part of human nature and human life. 

In 1628 Charles I prefixed a royal declaration to the articles, which demanded a literal interpretation of them, threatening discipline for academics or churchmen teaching any personal interpretations or encouraging debate about them. It states: "no man hereafter shall either print or preach, to draw the Article aside any way, but shall submit to it in the plain and Full meaning thereof: and shall not put his own sense or comment to be the meaning of the Article, but shall take it in the literal and grammatical sense". (Wikipedia)

In my experience of human nature for well more than eight decades, it is obvious to me that self-preservation is our first nature, and that we are basically selfish. As to a doctrine of Original Sin, though - - in the Episcopal Church of the 21st century, nihil obstats me from commenting, and my view is that a theological doctrine of Original Sin is nonsense, including not holding that Baptism wipes out Original Sin individual by individual, one by one. Somewhat in that regard, I enjoyed Archbishop of Armagh John Bramhall's 1643 comment on the 39 Articles:

"Some of them are the very same that are contained in the Creed; some others of them are practical truths, which come not within the proper list of points or articles to be believed; lastly, some of them are pious opinions or inferior truths, which are proposed by the Church of England to all her sons, as not to be opposed; not as essentials of Faith necessary to be believed by all Christians necessitate medii, under pain of damnation". (Wikipedia)

Baptism, I say and teach, is a start-over point, the sacrament by which we are inducted into Christ's body the church, and through which we promise henceforth to live our lives in a certain way, which may be defined as the Way of the Cross.


Thursday, January 9, 2020

dreams and aspirations

Making notes out here on 7H porch yesterday afternoon. With new lightweight Xmas telescope, gazing out across Shell "Island" at a nearly invisible speck offshore: a large 4-crane ship's been sitting out there for several days, swinging at anchor, likely waiting for another ship to clear her berth at Port PC. She's maybe six or seven miles away, across the Bay and a couple miles offshore. Cannot read the name on her bow with my telescope, but I'm thinking she's waiting to enter port and load wood pellets for Tyne, UK. 

Yo ho ho ho, a sailor's life for me. BTDT.

Reading some fun books at the moment. Moving books in my church office Tuesday, came across J M Sweeney's Born Again and Again about his life growing up. Starting it at the office, seems I read it years ago, but brought it home to read again. Like others who've shared their journey, he was born into a fundamentalist Christian family, a year or so at Moody Bible Institute, stories about his training to "save souls". Not going there, but I'm in a chapter of Part 2, and he's still assigned to save souls in a Chicago suburb, but struggling with certainty, let it slip about later becoming an Episcopalian. Don't know if this is where he settles or whether he'll wander on off into agnosticism and beyond, like many who become disillusioned with their lives of certainty. Certainty is the worst sin when directed toward compelling other people to think and believe as you do, vice the godly lovingkindness of "caring for souls" by affirming and honoring the culture and birthright of others. JMS is easy reading and I'm enjoying it as January Lite. 

God willing and the Creek rise (knock on wood and wishing me long years to ward off the Evil Eye) and there's no Breaking News, this time next year I expect to need another two-month sabbatical of despair, depending on, and if so I'll again need some serious reading like the Russian novels and other books read Jan/Feb 2017. 

Another is Carlos Eire's Waiting for Snow in Havana, which I may've already mentioned. It's a book to read slowly so it doesn't end. Also recently that way was Andy Catlett: Early Travels by Wendell Berry. And these books by chef David Lebowitz in Paris. 

Also in the office yesterday and Monday, came across a couple of fictions that I got into eight or ten years ago and didn't finish. One* by Salman Rushdie, I didn't get much past the opening conversation between characters floating down from the sky after the plane exploded, maybe I'll resume, or save it for JanFeb2021. 

Also a thick and long, patience-required series-novel** that's centered in a building and apartment in Paris. I got into it and more than halfway through when something happened and I laid it aside and never picked it up or thought of it again, IDK, maybe Oct2010 heart episode unto Jan2011 Cleveland Clinic adventure and return to other things in life. May pick it up again when I'm in the office tomorrow and lay it aside also for 2021 escape into other realities as the world turns. 

Anthony Bourdain Remembered is a book of short remembrances of one whose tv show magically transported watchers from life's troubles for a Time. With a life that seemed enchanted, his work enriched the lives of others. His death was incomprehensible, at least to anyone who's never suffered from depression, and I wonder if he had any idea what he was doing to us as he slipped the rope over his head and round his neck. He was escaping something or someone, not unlikely himself, which I can understand. But from outside looking on, it made suicide look like an ultimate act of selfishness. 

The picture above is from a page early in the book. Notably and most timely, in Iran, with a couple of Iranians posting. Which might remind us in our government-stirred hatreds, that the nations of people we hate most at the moment are only humans and were once our friends and, like Vietnam, will be again, depending on who we bully and for how long. In my lifetime, being friends with Japan and Japanese, with Germans and Germany, would have been unthinkable. Iranians are the ancient Persians, humans, people, children, men, women, families like us, who would rather be friends with us than in the middle, as both they and we are, of governments who drive us to hate each other. Read the print on the picture page. And look at the news after Iran took their revenge for our killing their general: after all the screaming and shouting, signals were sent and missiles were not fired until we had time to clear out so that there were no human casualties, then Iran posted that they were not after continued escalation of hostilities. National pride was satisfied and self-respect preserved.

Bourdain himself has the last word in the book, large, attractive, sort of a living room coffee table volume to pick up and read a page or two. Anthony Bourdain:

"Travel isn't often pretty. It isn't often comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that's okay. The journey changes you: it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind."

In my own mind and memories, Bourdain well expresses a season of life. So does the ship waiting far offshore, almost out of sight. I guess you had to be there.

Ship now gliding by 7H at 3:23 Wednesday afternoon as I type. I'm guessing she's Oslo Bulk 355x60, from Limon now bound for Colon with kraft liner. We'll see if this stirs movement by the much larger ship offshore.


* Satanic Verses

** Gravity's Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon