Wednesday, February 10, 2016

sound the alarm

40F at 4:06, going to 38F by 8:00, a car or two moving on Beck Avenue. From 7H I can see three traffic signals, Beck and 11th Street, Beck and 15th Street, Beck and Hwy 98 out at St. Andrews Baptist Church. All three lights keep changing, hoping, I suppose, for cars to come and affirm their function. As Mrs. Macready chides the four arriving Pevensie children in TLTW&TW, “Everyone has their function. One mustn’t deprive people of their function.” So, cars must come, otherwise there’s no need for the lights.

Pancakes last evening, pancakes and sausage, also jambalaya with shrimp, quite tasty. For a few years I kept a quart jug of maple syrup in the fridge at church for Shrove Tuesday, eventually brought it home. Mine is thick, dark and earthy as though made from the roots of the maple tree, incomparable, and in a fit of enthusiasm eight or ten years ago I ordered enough to last me a lifetime. Unopened, it keeps forever; opened if kept in the refrigerator. 

But one mustn’t avoid the elephant on the calendar: today is the first day of Lent 2016. Here I sit with coffee, daily morsel of dark chocolate already having melted on my tongue and on its way to the brain. “What are you giving up for Lent?” today’s question. For me, I already said: I’m giving up my daimonion by driving It (remember, τὸ δαιμόνιον is neutral) back into its neuron every time it stirs. “At the cross, at the cross,” as everyone knows, demons are afraid of the cross. That it roams the darkness might be stopped by garlic as a bedtime snack. Wonderful roasted garlic is on the olive bar at Fresh Market, truly delicious to the taste, but needs followed by Tums. 

Traditionally there is a choice of OT readings for Ash Wednesday. My preference is Joel, besides which we seldom read from, I love the mental image of shofar, the horn, hauntingly, eerily, sounding a chilling alarm: Adonai is gathering clouds of devouring locusts and sending them, they are coming, to punish the sins of Israel. Or perhaps (we do not know for sure the dating of Joel) Adonai is gathering enemy hordes to overrun and destroy us. Listen for the ram’s horn:

Joel 2:1-2, 12-17
2:1 Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming, it is near- 2:2 a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness! Like blackness spread upon the mountains a great and powerful army comes; their like has never been from of old, nor will be again after them in ages to come. 

2:12 Yet even now, says the LORD, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; 2:13 rend your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the LORD, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing. 2:14 Who knows whether he will not turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind him, a grain offering and a drink offering for the LORD, your God. 2:15 Blow the trumpet in Zion; sanctify a fast; call a solemn assembly; 2:16 gather the people. Sanctify the congregation; assemble the aged; gather the children, even infants at the breast. Let the bridegroom leave his room, and the bride her canopy. 2:17 Between the vestibule and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep. Let them say, "Spare your people, O LORD, and do not make your heritage a mockery, a byword among the nations. Why should it be said among the peoples, 'Where is their God?’”

+++   +++   +++

A Joel scholar we read in seminary said God was gathering the viciously cruel army of Assyria to overrun Israel, the Northern Kingdom, in the eighth century B.C. Another said the reference to Zion suggested it was Sennacherib’s 701 B.C. siege of Jerusalem. Our OT professor insisted it was a horde of all consuming locusts swarming to darken the sun, destroy everything in the fields and bring on famine. Whatever, sweet dreams. Sweet dreams.

Ash Wednesday. Don’t go about today hoping people will ask you about the smudge on your forehead: wash your face. Matthew 6:16-17.


Tuesday, February 9, 2016

shrive, shrove, shriven

This is not a political blog not only because I’m no politician, but these days because our political scene is shameful, disgusting, embarrassing, humiliating, the worst of filthy crudeness, racism, arrogance, bullying ignorance rising to the top and America back to the jungle and up into the trees where we climbed around before the Lord God named us Earthlings. We are Shift, the evil monkey in The Last Battle, showing our ass in the lionskin, if you don't know the Puzzle, it's time to read the story. We live where being politically correct or even humanly decent is politically incorrect, it’s if you’re against me you’re trying to be politically correct, a four-letter obscenity. The new political correctness is to be politically incorrect and shout "politically correct" at the opposition, too obtuse to see the irony. That’s one side of our new political spectrum and the other side is if you’re a woman and not supporting the woman you’re going to hell. Jiminy Christmas. Who am I for? IDK, I don’t think she/he exists. I was for grandmothers, but what I had in mind was Golda Meir reincarnate. I’m against career establishment politicians, who have given us rule by the worst kind of government bureaucracies. What we need is one term of me as president-for-life after which I’ll pardon myself and come back home to 7H.

Today is Shrove Tuesday, day to shrive oneself, day to be shriven of one’s impurities and clean out one’s soul and one’s kitchen but eat up the sinful food instead of throwing it in the garbage. Have at it, sinfully binge before tomorrow, when we get earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust smeared on our faces and in prideful contempt or abysmal obliviousness of the red letter words at Matthew 6:16-17 go about showing everyone we’ve been to church.

What am I giving up for Lent? Certainly not sarcasm. For Lent I’ll be singing “At the cross” and driving out my demon. For gardenia sure, I'll be washing my face.

20160208 sunset from 7H.


Monday, February 8, 2016


Sunday, February 7, 2016, a day that will live in infamy: I almost did the Seminole chop, but forced my arm down and restrained it. 

In Tallahassee we attended PRISM in the Ruby Diamond Concert Hall, my first time ever in the magnificent building that in my mind as a college student sixty years ago symbolized Florida State University. 

One wonderful music presentation after another lighting up different parts of the hall, symphony orchestras, ensembles, 

the Marching Chiefs raising the roof and, as the conclusion of two all-too-short hours, everyone but me singing “Hymn to the Garnet and the Gold,” and doing the Seminole chop, PRISM turned out to be my favorite Sunday afternoon in memory. “PRISM: a collaboration with the Florida State University College of Music” says the billing. Beyond incredible.

A Christmas gift to Linda and me from TJCC.

Lunch at Food Glorious Food, hadn’t been there in years and they’d expanded. Catfish on collard greens and grits, topped with shoestring potatoes, an imaginative presentation I should’ve captured on film but didn’t. Best in the universe, their coconut cream pie may also be the most expensive, but hey, who cares, we brought home a slice to share. 

Monday before Shrove Tuesday.



Sunday, February 7, 2016


Chilly on 7H porch before daylight this morning, 46F and 47% humidity. Seven o’clock we are heading to Tallahassee for the day and a concert with TJCC, thinking to return home early evening. Yesterday seemed sort of lost somehow, why do some days do that? Supper last night was a small can of Bar Harbor brand cherrystone clams while standing at the kitchen counter, chewy and not at all as I’d anticipated: like sitting out on the dock of a bayside restaurant in Maine and digging them out of the shell while the no-see-ums swarm up out of the marsh grass, buzz around and eat me up. Summer sunset in Maine.

Tomorrow? Up early, two routine doctor’s appointments, early morning and late afternoon. These dates come round with the iPhone calendar, I’ve noticed, and the reminder chimes. I long ago gave up a watch and a pocket calendar, maybe time to throw the iPhone off the balcony into the sea?

At this age take care always to clarify “routine” lest loved ones worry you. And, as I say, there are those dozen or so lovelorn toothless old men hopefully checking the obits for me every morning, whom I love disappointing. What I’m finding so far is eighty is even better than seventy-five in almost every way. Almost. 7H is a vast improvement for us, but nails need clipping more often, WTH is that all about?

Ted Pinocchio on television last night, and Senator Polo playing, as Governor Christie kept pointing out rather sharply, his memorized 45-second response regardless of the question. Three governors running, a physician and a — what? Disestablishmentarian, but I just don’t know. Maybe take a pill and wake up in four years to see if there’s anything left.

Tass is deciding a place for us to have lunch with our beloveds, always a fun adventure. Last month Kristen turned 23 and Carolyn turned 13, ten years and a week apart every January. 

On the walk Friday, great photo ops on E. Beach Drive, of that dying old dock with the gate, jutting out pathetically over the muddiness of a low tide, and my iPhone wouldn’t take pictures. It has 5,132 pics on it, maybe that’s about the limit. Or, I got it in April 2011, maybe it’s time to replace? IDK. I don't like changing phones or prayerbooks. 

No wisdom this morning, life, love, coffee and a bit of chocolate to stir the brain.


Saturday, February 6, 2016

February 6

Church Triumphant

In 1978 and 1979 when I first retired from the Navy, I lived in WashingtonDC working with what’s locally called a “Beltway Bandit,” a consulting firm of retired officers doing contract work with DoD; while at the same time I was establishing myself as a private consultant with the Australian DoD, the Canadian Department of Industry, Trade and Commerce, and a particular office of the Navy Department with whom I developed and participated in seminars all across the country for over five years. Actually from 1978 until 1984, when I was ordained priest and we moved to Apalachicola.

Mostly I’d drive home to Harrisburg on Friday, but when in Washington over the weekend I would go to one of two Anglo-Catholic parishes on Sunday mornings. St. Paul’s K-Street was an active church with lively social outreach that then or certainly later had an early Sunday morning ministry called the “Grate Patrol.” After early Mass, members of this ministry (I was not one) loaded up vehicles with bags/boxes of prepared meals and delivered to homeless people who slept on the large grates around the city, that were — vents I suppose — that emitted warm steamy air on bitter cold winter nights. They were always crowded with homeless people, unwashed and inadequately clothed for the weather. It was common to see "grate people" wet with the warm steam that billowed up beneath them. St. Paul’s Grate Patrol delivered a hot meal to them all over the city at least once a week. Anyone who read Doonesbury in those years will remember the homeless characters Alice and the deranged Elmont, both of whom regularly slept on the steamy grates. Alice and Elmont eventually married, which not only let Alice move up on the housing list, but also, as I recall, allowed them to sleep on the same grate. They may have spent their honeymoon on a grate, I’m not sure, it was a long time ago for me. 

Anyway, St. Paul’s had elegant liturgy, including once I phoned the rector on Saturday to ask what Sunday services would be, to which he replied, “Litany and Solemn.” It was magnificent, the Litany chanted by celebrant and choir as they shuffled around the aisles of the Nave and, as I recall, enveloped in smoky, aromatic incense. Solemn High Mass was Rite I Holy Eucharist. I went there often when in town and the church was always packed.

“My” other Episcopal parish in WashingtonDC was Ascension and St. Agnes up north on embassy row, where Mass always began with celebrant cum aspergillum shaking holy water over the congregation in an opening rite of purification. The same is served by the Collect for Purity which, theologically, cleanses the worshipers, like washing up before coming into the presence of God. I’ve never been to worship in a mosque, but I understand that Muslim practice involves a thorough cleansing, perhaps including shower, before going in to prayers. 

One thing I learned at Ascension and St. Agnes was about "Years Mind." The liturgy prayers always included Year’s Mind calling by name those who had died this time a year ago, or two, or ten, remembering lovingly before God and here in Christ’s Church Militant, loved ones and friends now around the throne in Christ’s Church Triumphant. May the souls of all faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Thos+ still here in Militant
ho anaginowskown noeito

Friday, February 5, 2016

Rebuking τὸ δαιμόνιον

τὸ δαιμόνιον

Onego Power 470x76 arrives in the sunset, from Baltimore, to unload reels. 20160204. 

Private, Keep Out. Nobody Needs to Read This Rambling Nonsense, Please. Go Home.

A Father Pleads With Jesus To Heal His Son Whom The Disciples Could Not Heal (DLNT)

In all three synoptics, this is right after Jesus and three disciples come down from the mountain. It’s still in mind because Luke’s version is in the Sunday lectionary for Last Epiphany Year C.

Mark 9:14 And having come to the disciples, they saw a large crowd around them, and scribes debating with them. 15 And immediately all the multitude, having seen Him, were struck-with-wonder. And running-up, they were greeting Him. 16 And He asked them, “What are you debating with them?” 17 And one from the crowd answered Him, “Teacher, I brought my son having a mute spirit to You. 18 And wherever it overcomes him, it throws-him-to-the-ground, and he foams-at-the-mouth and grinds his teeth and becomes-stiff. And I spoke to Your disciples in order that they might cast it out, and they were not strong-enough ”. 19 And the One, having responded to them, says “O unbelieving generation, how long will I be with you? How long will I bear-with you? Bring him to Me”. 20 And they brought him to Him. And having seen Him, the spirit immediately convulsed him. And having fallen on the ground, he was rolling-himself while foaming-at-the-mouth. 21 And He asked his father, “How long is it since this has happened to him?” And the one said, “From childhood. 22 And it often threw him even into fire and into waters in order that it might destroy him. But if You are able to do anything, help us, having felt-deep-feelings [of pity] toward us”. 23 And Jesus said to him, “‘If You are able?’ All things are possible for the one believing”. 24 Immediately, having cried-out, the father of the child was saying, “I believe. Help my unbelief ”. 25 And Jesus, having seen that a crowd is running-together-upon them, rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it “Mute and deaf spirit, I command you— come out of him and enter into him no longer”. 26 And having cried-out, and having convulsed him greatly, it came out. And he became as if dead, so that the majority were saying that “He died”. 27 But Jesus, having taken hold of his hand, raised him. And he stood-up. 28 And He having entered into a house, His disciples were questioning Him privately, “Why is it that we were not able to cast it out?” 29 And He said to them, “This kind can come out by nothing except by prayer”.

Matthew 17:14 And they having come to the crowd, a man came to Him, kneeling-before Him, 15 and saying, “Master, have mercy on my son, because he has seizures and is suffering badly. For he often falls into the fire, and often into the water. 16 And I brought him to Your disciples and they were not able to cure him”. 17 But having responded, Jesus said, “O unbelieving and perverted generation! How long will I be with you? How long will I bear-with you? Bring him here to Me”. 18 And Jesus rebuked it, and the demon departed from him, and the boy was cured from that hour. 19 Then the disciples, having come to Jesus privately, said, “For what reason were we not able to cast it out?” 20 And the One says to them, “Because of your little-faith. For truly I say to you, if you have faith like a seed of a mustard-plant, you will say to this mountain, ‘Pass from-here to-there’, and it will pass. And nothing will be impossible for you. 21 But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting. 

Luke 9:37 And it came about on the next day, they having come down from the mountain, that a large crowd met Him. 38 And behold— a man from the crowd shouted, saying, “Teacher, I beg You to look upon my son, because he is an only-born son to me. 39 And behold— a spirit seizes him and he suddenly cries-out. And it convulses him, along with foam [at the mouth]. And it departs from him with difficulty, while bruising him. 40 And I begged Your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able”. 41 And having responded, Jesus said, “O unbelieving and perverted generation, how long will I be with you, and bear-with you? Bring your son to Me here”. 42 And while he was still approaching, the demon threw him to the ground and convulsed him. And Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the boy, and gave him back to his father. 43 And they were all astounded at the majesty of God.

Why are you bothering me, God? For reasons that woke me way too early this morning, I continue to be bothered by this story, of which Luke’s version is optional in our gospel reading for Sunday. In all synoptics, it’s the same story, but each evangelist tells it differently, even significant differences though Mark seems to be the source for both Matthew and Luke. No Greek scholar, I looked at Aland’s parallel gospels in English and Greek and the only commonality I see is “Oh unbelieving (faithless) and perverted generation,” and there only Mt/Lk are absolutely identical, which makes me wonder if they found it in Q instead of Mark. But I guess not and who cares anyway (well I do, but nevermind, and I don’t recall ever reading a scholar who thought Luke copied from Matthew). 

The story seems more about the disciples’ lack of empowering faith than about Jesus casting out the demon to heal the boy. Actually, only Matthew calls it daimonion, Mark and Luke call it pneuma, spirit. Mark’s version is much longer in the middle with things that Mt/Lk omit. Why they tell it so differently would be for reasons of agenda (e.g., Mark 9:20a evidencing that the demon recognizes Jesus, a key in Mark, which may be why Mark is so much longer in the middle), and is not what’s bothering me this morning. Nor does it bother me that fellows of the Jesus Seminar credit the story not to received tradition but to Mark using a filler story to go with Jesus chastising the disciples’ lack of faith. I believe this cure happened pretty much as the core story goes, including nobody goes back later to see if the boy had more seizures but that's not part of anyone's story or agenda. Nor am I trying to fool myself as some sophisticated scholar. 

Okay, now I’m rambling, sorry. Not really. 

Rather, my issue is both personal and encountering on two consecutive days, devastating life situations for loved ones whom I don’t know, of people very dear to me who are now in grievous anguish of worry, such that I ask what is a demon, and how does one get shed of it?

I’m not talking about curing physical afflictions that are the province of medics. What I’m worrying is the demonic anguish of, in this story’s case the boy’s father but in 2016 of those who are in agony about a loved one; and answers do not present this morning two thousand years after the Sunday school story. To separate it from the boy and his demon and isolate it to the bystander, the father in his demonic agony, metaphorically, I’ll establish a base that shows myself what I mean. I couldn't care less whether you read me or not.

It’s Tuesday, January 8, 1918, the newspaper St. Andrews Bay News headline reads “Appalling Disaster” over the story that has just now arrived in town, wreck of the Annie & Jennie and loss of three of those aboard including Mom and Pop’s son Alfred Daniel Weller, Jr. From an innocent morning, Pop is now in-an-instant afflicted with a demon that will never go away, whose name is “If Only.” And at this moment of finding-out, he hasn’t even gone across the road to the house to tell Mom. His demon has just arrived.

“How to cast it out?” is the problem that’s worrying me.

In the story, Jesus calls them a bunch of “little faiths” and in Mark (and Matthew in some manuscripts) says “only with prayer.” So I’ll go that way.

Setting aside for a moment the parents of the afflicted ones in the two cases that I found out about yesterday and the day before, I’ll focus on myself. Not to be cute or mysterious, I am naming it “El Daimonion” and mentally rebuking it by humming, from Isaac Watts’ exquisite hymn, Ralph E. Hudson’s crass refrain 
“At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light,
And the burden of my heart rolled away,
It was there by faith I received my sight,
And now I am happy all the day!” 
every time El Daimonion or one of its (a neutral noun) grating tunes enters my mind. Maybe this technique will help someone else who also has a worry that can be named a tormenting demon.

What of the other two situations? I have already assured the parents that they are — as they indeed are — that they are in prayer that God’s Spirit will enfold them now and in the days ahead. I will do my part with the prayer, just as five years ago so many so powerfully and unceasingly held me up. That’s what and all I can do at this point in the fight.

Back from walk. When the contractor finishes repainting the gym downstairs, I must resume faithful use of the facility. 


Recognizing that rebuking to daimonion properly casts the demon in the accusative when I have it in the nominative, I don't care.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

2 Corinthians and a Model T Ford named Jim

A Model T Ford named Jim

2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2 (NRSV)
12 Since, then, we have such a hope, we act with great boldness, 13 not like Moses, who put a veil over his face to keep the people of Israel from gazing at the end of the glory that was being set aside. 14 But their minds were hardened. Indeed, to this very day, when they hear the reading of the old covenant, that same veil is still there, since only in Christ is it set aside. 15 Indeed, to this very day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their minds; 16 but when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.

Therefore, since it is by God’s mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart. We have renounced the shameful things that one hides; we refuse to practice cunning or to falsify God’s word; but by the open statement of the truth we commend ourselves to the conscience of everyone in the sight of God.

When my parents were in high school in Pensacola, this would have been between 1925 to 1928 -- pardon the digression but around here I have newspaper clippings listing my father playing football for Pensacola High School on the same team with a boy named Tom Xxxx who until my father moved to Pensacola had been my mother’s boyfriend; and another newspaper clipping from the next year showing my father playing football against Pensacola for Bay High -- they had — I think my father owned it with Wilbur Gentry, my mother’s brother — an old used Model T Ford jalopy. 

They said they paid $15 for it. It was a touring car body with no top, and for a taillight — it had no taillight, on the rear end of the car they hung an old lantern provided by a relative who worked for the railroad, that swung and banged back and forth as they rattled along. 

And they’d named the car “Jim.” I do not recall ever being told why “Jim,” but that was the car’s name. 

At some point before I sign off on wherever this blogpost is going, maybe I’ll remember why reading next Sunday’s lesson from 2 Corinthians made me think of Jim; but if not, we have a bit of family history that I grew up hearing, and their adventures with Jim always charmed me. 

At any event, yes our second reading for Sunday is from a 2016 presidential hopeful’s favorite Bible book, good old Two Corinthians. And a snide aside, one who visits an XnRt university and arms self with a Bible verse to spout while there can be labeled populist not conservative. 

Taken out of context as our lectionary framers never cease loving to do, the 2nd Corinthians reading is puzzling. But I see why they did it. In 2 Cor, Paul wanders about worse than any blogpost I’ve ever posted, and one must read the entire letter to see where he’s coming from and where he’s going. In this particular part, he’s telling them to live in the spirit of God as given to us in Jesus Christ over living by the letter of the law of Moses. He’s lauding the New Covenant in Jesus over the Old Covenant with Moses. And he mentions Moses’ shining face. The reading selection could have been clearer if it had started at least as far back as verse 7 or even at the beginning of Chapter 3. Instead, our second reading prompts the listener (my observation is that people doze off whenever Paul is read, and the lectionary framers knew that and figured it didn’t matter because nobody would be listening anyway) to respond, “Say WHAT?” But there’s never time to respond and think after the second reading anyway, because instead of the recommended “moment of silence” the liturgy always jumps into the sequence hymn before the reader even gets back to his/her seat; and besides, no one preaches on the epistle reading anyway, so what diff? 

Back to the main path. The lectionary framers made all three readings a theme park climaxing with Jesus being transfigured with Moses and Elijah on the mountain peak. So, first read Exodus about Moses with his shining face as he brings the law; then Psalm 99 chimes in; then Paul’s 2Corinthians allusion to Moses with his shining face and law left in the dust by Jesus and the new covenant; then Luke’s version of the transfiguration in which Moses and Elijah are eclipsed by Jesus shining brighter than the sun. The scripture on Sunday will be like a jigsaw puzzle in which the 2Corinthians reading is a piece of the puzzle that makes no sense on its own, until we see that it in fact does fit beautifully as part of the picture.

The sequence hymn to seal it all together is the 15th century Latin

O wondrous type! O vision fair
of glory that the Church may share,
which Christ upon the mountain shows,
where brighter than the sun he glows!

The law and prophets there have place,
the chosen witnesses of grace;
the Father's voice from our the cloud
proclaims his only Son aloud.

With shining face and bright array,
Christ deigns to manifest today
what glory shall be theirs above
who joy in God with perfect love.

And faithful hearts are raised on high
by this great vision's mystery;
for which in joyful strains we raise
the voice of prayer, the hymns of praise.

O Father, with the eternal Son,
and Holy Spirit, ever One,
vouchsafe to bring us by thy grace
to see thy glory face to face.

One of our most beautiful hymns. It’s all too wonderful for any human to preach. And I do remember how a Model T Ford named Jim fit into all this. Jim had a cutout that was popular among teens in those days, an exhaust cutout. The driver could stomp a button on the floor, or pull a lever, that cut out the exhaust from the muffler so that the engine’s deafening roar could be heard all over East Hill and up and down Cervantes and Palafox out Garden and to the Navy Yard. It was cool, man, the cat’s meow, but why the lectionary framers cutout so much of the scripture beats the aitch out of me.