Saturday, October 22, 2016

four minutes to launch

fawns will say anything

Watching. From 7H porch at the moment, watching the sky, which has not been more clear since we moved here. Never saw Orion so bright, and Sirius the Dog Star. Also watching the presidential campaign, the sky is falling Chinese fire-drill hysteria of misinformation and ignorance in news and online after the Wednesday evening debate, that the Blue candidate's "four minutes" comment imperiled the nation. 

A few weeks ago I watched a television program that described our system and protocol for launching nuclear weapons. It was on primetime after the Red candidate began to sound loose and eager about getting the power and authority to launch nuclear weapons. The tv program seemed intended as a response and assurance that there is no nuclear button, and explained the "nuclear football" and "nuclear biscuit" and the flow of events. Searching to find the program again, I didn’t, but did find the unclassified, readily available online information on which it was based

The program was assuring actually, not about any requirement for the president’s judgment and sanity because there is none, the president may be totally off the wall nuts, but about the system’s ability to launch on selected targets with astonishing speed. A clock was used through the program, timing step by step and check by check to show that surface ICBMs could be in the air on the way to their targets within about four or five minutes of the president’s decision and order, submarine launched missiles within about fifteen minutes. Anyone with a television anywhere on earth could have, and probably did, watch the program. It has been forty years since I held a top secret clearance and so I have forgotten a lot, but I was surprised at how much was unclassified until I found the internet link and confirmed what I saw on television that evening.

It was disgusting but not especially surprising, the hair-tearing hysteria that presumably sane but doubtfully well-meaning people stirred up rabidly shrieking that the Blue debate opponent had given away national military secrets with the “four minutes” comment. Either intentional misleading or ignorance ignited by urban legend, it was all too typical of what we are seeing in the campaign, which will be over none too soon, in which nobody hesitates to scream and shout inaccuracies and nonsense and tear their hair about non-events, go rushing round and round the car until the light turns green, and certainly never stop to correct themselves, but pile back into the car and go speeding off to create the next absurdity. This was one such: no military secrets were disclosed, it's all public. We seem increasingly to live in a culture where care with the truth is no longer a factor in our integrity.

Of those in the fire-drill, what occurred to a Narnia enthusiast was the White Witch’s comment to Edmund, who then passed it along to Lucy, “Fauns will say anything.”

Fauns, Fawns, whatever. 

Snopes for President.


Friday, October 21, 2016

Bing Crosby's Dodge

Not surprisingly considering who, on my MacBook desktop is a picture of a 1939 Pontiac silver streak sedan, a car, cars, I well remember on the road, and around the neighborhood, and on Harrison Avenue downtown, on Beach Drive between PC and StAndrews and Highway 98 between here and Pensacola in those years. 

For whatever reason that escapes but also not surprising, this morning I felt inclined to root out a same-year Dodge sedan, all these things are instantly available in today’s magical age of electronics. Two of many automobile websites I browse show car brochures that go well back in the industry’s history, one to 1930, another basically to whenever a make started or whenever the website owner could collect a brochure, Fords from 1903 for example,

Studebaker from 1903, Packards from 1904, Oldsmobile from 1903 including an Olds delivery car.

But going for Dodge this morning not unlikely because we had a new 1948 Dodge sedan that was in the family ten years, including Linda and I had it as our first car and the year before that in Gainesville at UnivFlorida my senior year, I went for a 1939 Dodge picture,

then clicked back year by year, 1938, 1937, cars I remember and loved, 1936, still on the road my growing up years.

And I recall standing on the runningboard of the Sheffield's blue Dodge sedan two doors down, to ride up the driveway. On the 1936 Dodge page was an ad about a man who said he’d put 281,000 miles on his Dodge, which he bought in 1920, 

so, intrigued, I went to the 1920 Dodge brochures to see what it likely looked like. Not surprising at least to me as a looker over the years, there was the Dodge Brothers car with the prominently high front headlamps that gave the car a bit of a bug-eyed look. And I thought Mr Capton probably had a touring car, so I went to that model page in the brochure - - likely his car 

Cars are interesting and fun to me, have been throughout my life, may always be. I’m thinking of the Packard sedan with a trunk-rack that overtook and passed us one dark night on the totally deserted, bleak and empty two-lane Highway 98 through the SJPC pine woods between Destin and Philips Inlet as we were driving home from visiting the grandparents in Pensacola.

Watching the time now, and leaving to meet Robert for our walk. Maybe breakfast, our Friday custom.

Maybe Crawdad's for lunch to see if they have mullet today.


Thursday, October 20, 2016


Jesus said “Two men went up into the temple to pray; one a Pharisee, and the other a Publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this Publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the Publican, standing afar off, would not so much as lift up his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, ‘God be merciful to me a sinner.’ I tell you, this Publican went down to his house justified rather than the Pharisee"

+++   +++   +++


A parable is a story that takes a roundabout way of making a point: “Jesus told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt.” (Luke 18:9, but it’s not part of the parable)

A Publican was a public officer, and this one is a tax collector who cheats people, overcharges people on their taxes and puts the extra in his own pocket to enrich himself. He’s the scum of the earth, everybody hates a Publican, and that’s why Jesus uses him in this upside down parable that’s meant to shock.

Jesus is comparing the respected Pharisee who does everything that’s required and expected of him to the despised Publican, turning our values upside down and inside out to show God’s values. Maybe the parable will make you examine yourself and become more self-aware.

Jesus’ word “justified” means that the wicked Publican has been cleared of his sins. He is NOT found not guilty, he’s still guilty, but charges will not be pressed, as in “case dismissed.”


In this story, what causes the good guy to become the bad guy?

What turns the villain into the hero, i.e., what “saves” him?

Why isn’t the Pharisee “justified”?

Who in the parable is “going to heaven”?

We like to find ourselves in Jesus’ parables: which character are you?

BTW, don't feel sorry for either of these guys, they both arrived at Temple in chauffeur-driven Bentley limousines.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016


Never start the day by scanning the news unless the news is so enticing as never to say never. 

The enticing news is tonight’s presidential debate, that this time The Donald has been preparing. I’m no debate person, but I was on a debate team in speech class at Bay High, and I remember finding out the importance of being prepared, and relishing the enjoyment of making a complete ass of my opponent. 

Naturally, all that was before I was a naval officer, much less a humble holy man, and that’s all the holy man is going to say about that.

Here’s our Old Testament lesson for the upcoming Sunday, the promise of future restoration after the desolating visitation of God’s raging fury:

O children of Zion, be glad
and rejoice in the Lord your God;
for he has given the early rain for your vindication,
he has poured down for you abundant rain, 
the early and the later rain, as before.
The threshing floors shall be full of grain,
the vats shall overflow with wine and oil.
I will repay you for the years
that the swarming locust has eaten,
the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter,
my great army, which I sent against you.
You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied,
and praise the name of the Lord your God,
who has dealt wondrously with you.
And my people shall never again be put to shame.

You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel,
and that I, the Lord, am your God and there is no other.
And my people shall never again
be put to shame.
Then afterward
I will pour out my spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
your old men shall dream dreams, 
and your young men shall see visions.
Even on the male and female slaves,
in those days, I will pour out my spirit.
I will show portents in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes. Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved; for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the Lord has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls. (Joel 2:23-32, NRSV)

On a popular lectionary website, the art for the week is about rain, and half a dozen or so works of art are offered for liturgical use such as on worship bulletins and that. Above, the recommended one, is “A kinetic sculpture by the Venezuelan artist, Jesus Rafael Soto. Soto has created penetrables, interactive sculptures which consist of square arrays of thin, dangling tubes through which observers can walk. It has been said of Soto's art that it is inseparable from the viewer; it can only stand completed in the illusion perceived by the mind as a result of observing the piece,” which I think is bovine excretion, but what the hell do I know with my military mind, nicht wahr - - -

Of the offered works of art, to me this one (top and below) best tells the view from the window, of what lies in wait before the time of promise. Unattributed, its name is Scary, Scary Night. Sometimes that’s where we are in life:

But remember the promise. Sunday is coming.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

quick, and make haste

quick to love, and 
haste to be kind

In the dark just off 7H and the moon doesn’t illuminate her. Noisy, she’s pressing forward too fast to be a trawling shrimp boat, but as there’s no moving green light far ahead of her she’s no tug pushing a barge. Quick inside to grab my camera, but rounded the bend to head north with BayPoint and Gulf front high-rises on Thomas Drive in the background, she almost disappears from sight before I get back out here. Best do I like to catch a boat with couple navigation lights, and did, Red but not crisp. 

Blurry, like suddenly my eyes. I keep thinking to have Ray and Diane over for supper and to see our 7H vantage point and so Ray can give me some photography pointers, and then the realization floods and the heart crumbles, and the ache in my throat. I didn't make haste to be kind. I can’t believe he’s gone. From 1998 to 2016 a light in my life and heart. Ray, have you ever thought about a call to ordination? ... 

Some nights I enjoy sitting outside on 7H porch with no thoughts but mulling over life and the seascape. Nine o’clock last night there was no moon, no shrimp boats on the Bay. Must have been cloudy as no stars. Black velvet Bay with downtown Panama City to the east because that’s the way my porch high chair faces. Over to the right is that bright white light at Tyndall, and though I missed it, the tower isn't closed down for the night so if I keep watching, its green light will come round again, then the white one.

No matter, on over to the right (west) of it is my Green buoy. Quick to love, and ...  nevermind

My best use of this chair was on the back porch at 2308, sipping wine as my grandson the chef grilled steaks. SSSSS, flip mine over, son. Ssssssssss, quick, take it off, it’s done.

Life is short and we haven’t much Time …

DThos+ past regulation Time
past +Time and pushing +Time+
!!! !!!!!!

gardenia eyes, where's my alphabet handkerchief

Monday, October 17, 2016

And there was evening and there was morning ... a new day

Slightly different high and right on the Bay, but reads 68° 93% and I believe it. Also, wind 5mph cool, damp breeze from the Gulf, across the Bay and to 7H. 

From the Gospel according to Luke this coming Sunday, October 23, Jesus tells his Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican, which I’ll get to before the week is out. For now, little noticed for preaching and Bible study, the Second Lesson that in the past we called The Epistle is

2 Timothy 4:6-8,16-18
I am already being poured out as a libation, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
At my first defense no one came to my support, but all deserted me. May it not be counted against them! But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion's mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and save me for his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
The wiles of life weigh heavy upon us, but with faith as a grain of mustard seed we may see it through, as for Robert and his family this first day of the rest of life. Both she and they have struggled valiantly, and now nothing more the medics can do for his daughter, they are discharging Cindy home. I appreciate the verse “the Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and save me for his heavenly kingdom,” and pray that in the present darkness Robert and family may find a sense of promise, of thanksgiving for life and love, and promise and hope of dawning and new morning. 


Sunday, October 16, 2016

trick or treat

Here, masquerading as another word of graceful lovingkindness, is today’s gospel reading that, when we open the door, shouts “trick or treat” and rips off the fairy mask to reveal a wolf. 

Jesus ... 2 ... said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. 3 In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Grant me justice against my opponent.’ 4 For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, ‘Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.’” 6 And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? 8 I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:5-8 NRSV)

In preparing for Sunday School, the scholars I looked at are confident (like me, they’re almost never certain of anything) that Jesus actually told this parable, verses 2-5, and that verses 6-8a are Luke’s or the early church’s addition to soften, rationalize, mollify the bedtime story that Jesus leaves us pondering and unable to go to sleep. The question at 8b seems off the wall altogether, though group discussion might suggest some relevance other than that Luke’s entire section has something to do with prayer and faith. 

At any event, in Sunday School discussion this morning, I’m going to stick to the hard part, which is the parable itself with its startling allusion. Where’s the good news?