Friday, January 30, 2015

Think. Nope.

Wake at 1:15, up, back to sleep, wake at 4:15 same reason, sit up dopily, up to stay. Coffee in an old plastic mug, blue velvet chair by the window bayside, what? Same green light flashing as always and ever. 

Much less inspiration, lacking inclination to write. Open spider solitaire and easily finish a game that last night was impossible. Think. Nope. Wordsmith concludes the week with scabrous. Jiminy Christmas, a week’s worth of words exactly tailored to fit my being: scurvy, apoplectic, jaundiced, metastasize, scabrous. Think. Nope. The window frames total soft blackness with just that one green light tormenting me from, what? two miles away and across eternity. Think. Still nope. Tap icon for favorite comic strip, not the favorite, just one of half a dozen favorites: Candorville. Lemont is talking with his nutty psychiatrist about his relationship with his son Lionel. 

Not sleepy last night so opened and read three or four chapters of All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. A novel, perfect to my taste, gripping, short chapters. Marie, a little blind girl in Paris as the bombs begin to fall, alternating with Werner, and his sister Jutta, German orphans with wild, white-blond hair. Each chapter is but a page or two: I can read a bit at a time and hope it never ends.

Cardio this morning, Chuck’s Shop. Do I look forward to it? The mind isn’t working, I look forward to nothing but looking out over my Bay.


Light in the eastern sky to the south, and a boat heading out. Bow light and red port light just the other side of my empty coffee mug. Now orange stripes between the gray.

+Time with Tom+

Thursday, January 29, 2015

by example

At the moment the lectionary has us reading through 1st Corinthians Sunday by Sunday. This comes round every three years in the lectionary cycle, and this is the year. 

Although scholars seem to prefer Romans as the most brilliant, mature and theological of Paul's writings, I like 1st Corinthians for sensible things, practical guidance that Paul tells us all through it. But sometimes, especially when read out of context, Paul can be confusing and even profoundly boring. 

In the 1st Corinthians 8:1-13 reading for Sunday, Paul tells us that it may be a sin to do perfectly harmless things if you know that doing them will scandalize people who are not as sophisticated and modern as you consider yourself to be. The issue Paul uses is meat. 

In the days of the Roman Empire, there was no Publix or Winn-Dixie to buy groceries: the meat that people bought in the marketplace to take home for supper had been brought to market from altars where the animal had been slaughtered as a sacrifice to some god, some idol or other. Sacrificed and then sold in the marketplace. That was a custom in that pagan society, and it was good and profitable business. Some Christians, former pagans who understood the nature of such sacrifice, were saying that it was a sin to eat meat that had been sacrificed to idols, because to eat the meat was to acknowledge the sacrifice and worship the god, the idol. Paul says it’s harmless, meaningless to eat the meat, because the idol is nonexistent, not a god at all, only the Lord is God; so it really doesn't matter if you eat that meat. 

But Paul goes on to say that there are many people who believe that you must not eat the meat because if you do you are worshiping the idol; and to them, if you are a Christian and eat the meat anyway, to them it means you are telling people that it's OK to worship that idol as well as worshiping the One God and Father of Jesus Christ. 

Again. It was a pagan society in which many gods were worshiped, and one means of worship was to take an animal to the sacrificial altar and have it slaughtered in sacrifice to the idol god. Paul says that although eating that meat is meaningless, you may mislead people, confuse them, scandalize them, cause them great anguish, and even turn them away from Christ, and that's a sin.That's what the issue is all about here in thie Second Reading for next Sunday.

It's a lesson worth bringing into modern life. We think we are so sophisticated that "anything goes" and nothing is a sin, and in doing that we risk misleading people who are more naive and innocent. We may stir up anguish, hatred and divisions in the church, among the faithful, in the family and home, among those who trust us and follow us through life. Although we no longer sacrifice to idols as did the pagans, we have our own indulgences and excesses, which may be the same thing. Our god, our idol, is that on which we spend our time and money. 

No one is so insignificant but that someone is following them and going their way, doing what they do, accepting their values, if for no other reason than that they know no other way to go. 


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Darkness and, Unclean

Darkness and, Unclean

Wide news coverage, here we are seventy years on from liberation of Auschwitz, one of many concentration camps run by the Third Reich to exterminate entire segments of humanity. The Story and stories are well known, remembered by some of us, recorded by victims, written about -- I have written here about that period in my life. There was no television, no internet, wifi: we got our news in the daily paper but most vividly in the newsreels at the local movie theater. For us here in Panama City in that time, the Ritz Theatre. Where the Martin is now, why in its recovery and renovation the Ritz was misnamed Martin IDK, but OK, it's done. The other movie theater was the Panama a couple blocks south down Harrison, maybe where the parking lot is now at Oak and Harrison. I’ve written before that I was never allowed in the Panama Theater, my mother forbade it, something about dirty old men. We only were allowed the Ritz. In my earliest memory, admission was eleven cents until you were twelve years old, then a quarter. 

A remembrance of horror that early part of 1945 as the war was coming to a victorious close was newsreels about what our allied forces found as they pushed through Germany and the lands of the Third Reich, including parts of Poland. The Holocaust is rubbished by moronic fools, bigoted imbeciles of racism and hatred, especially religious and cultural hatred; but it happened, happened in my time and memory, and we saw the pictures. As the war in Europe was ended by American and allied forces, newsreels showed emaciated creatures barely recognizable as human, prisoners holding on to concentration camp fences and gates as American, British and Russian soldiers set them free. Showed mounds of naked, rotting corpses twisted and grinning at Creator, their dying grimace at heaven and wondering "why?" and "where?" Showed huge metal ovens where human beings were cremated, some stuffed in alive, locked in, and cooked to horrible death. Film showed us as oven doors were opened, human bones spilling out, scorched skulls and bones, burnt skeletons. The memory is a horror that has never left me, pictures that never go away, laying in me, not coincidentally after the anti-German propaganda that blanketed us during the war years, a hatred of everything German, contempt that seventy years on I still fight to overcome, and that in the last several years brought me to recoil in appalled dismay and shame at finding out my primary heritage is German, not English as I had always been told. Not English, but one Andreas Wäller who in the 18th century emigrated to America from Hamm in Westphalia. Andreas, of course, had naught to do with the German Holocaust of the 20th century, but left relatives behind in Germany, which doubtless means that my own blood kin undeniably saluted the Nazi flag and would have been part of all that implies and entails. There was no innocence: pictures and videos from the Third Reich show frenzied Germans screaming “sieg heil” and hailing the times, saluting the Fuhrer: the nation was complicit to a man, to a woman, to a child. Andreas Wäller in the Hitlerjunge. Shame of my being, and guilt.

A hypocrite of lowest order, I love German cars and the German language, German music, German food and beer while despising all things human, the worst that we can be. Sensing my heritage and my kin, I rush to wash my hands, to bathe but what cannot be soaked away.

The Auschwitz seventieth anniversary observance is not celebratory but ugly, stirring stories, experiences, personal memories and visions of horror. As long as humans inhabit the planet, our era of evil and cruelty ought never be forgotten. This is what we can be, and are. Forgiveness, which is unthinkable, can only come from those who were murdered, and their loved ones who survived and remember -- -- and from their generations of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren unto the ages of ages who, like the descendants of the Ethiopian eunuch, will never be. Germany.

Germany. German. But then My Lai, and then Shock and Awe, and I cannot even refuge beneath Old Glory.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Starts Next Tuesday, Feb 3rd

Syllabus: 2015 Spring Session Tuesday Morning Bible Seminar, HNEC

Mentor & Sponsor: Tom Weller

Place: Mary Stuart Poole Library. Use either door. The street door is probably more convenient for those who park on 3rd Street.

When: Tuesday mornings 10:00 to 11:15. Please arrive between 9:30 and 10:00 for coffee, a slight snack, and to visit. Kindly be on time so as not to enter during our prayer or disrupt the class startup. We sit down at 10:00, convene with prayer at 10:05, and adjourn promptly at 11:15 so people can keep lunch plans. 

Class Schedule: February 3, 10, 17, 24. March 3, 10, 17, 24. No class March 31 (Holy Week, priests are frantic). April 7, 14, 21, 28. May 5, 12, 19, 26. We have a child at college, so if I need to cancel a session to go to some college event I will let you know. Because people’s personal and family schedules vary and change, everyone misses some sessions. No one is expected to attend all sessions. Each session stands on its own so that there’s no catching up to do if you miss. People are expected to come when they want to and miss when they can’t come, but if you’ll be absent it’s helpful if you tell us (

Study. Our first two sessions will continue the Gospel according to Mark that we studied our Fall 2014 Session: one or two sessions beginning with Mark chapter 10 with Secret Mark “restored,” and we will discuss Secret Mark again to get back into form. After that, we decide as a group what to read and study. Mostly, this is not a devotional style Bible study but variation of the so-called “critical” approach used in Bible courses at "mainline church" seminaries. By the way, “critical” does not mean throwing stones, it means probing history, form, text, editing, perhaps especially trying to grasp what the author wrote and meant to say and to whom and when; and how and why the text may have been changed after being written. It’s enormous fun and always respectful and reverent.

Material. If you have a Study Bible, bring it, any translation is fine, it’s interesting to have a variety in class. If you do not have a Study Bible, that also is fine. We have a lot of them to lend out; most of ours are New Revised Standard Version. 

Thanks for joining us. Enjoy!


Monday, January 26, 2015

epidermal urevap

Monday waking thoughts. Waking, eyes clenched shut against the clock's red glow. Warmly, comfortably, drowsily willing a drifting back to sleep in defiance of the ancient foe. Doze. Wake again realizing the Prince of Darkness grim is winning. The Creator should have consulted me in designing Ish: instead of a bladder, expanded application of the epidermis as evaporator. 

More waking thoughts: two people I envy. No, covet, breaking a commandment. One reads Mark in Greek. Other has a blue 1958 Bonneville in the garage, drives it from time to time. My Hebrew attempt failed, but if more determined I could do Mark. The Pontiac? Dream on.

Not tomorrow, but next Tuesday, 3 February opens the Spring Session of our midweek Bible Seminar. Ten o’clock sharp to eleven-fifteen, also sharp. All welcome. To register, email me Several already have done. 


Sunday, January 25, 2015

Hoot of the FoxOwl

Cool. No, damright chilly 38F but 82% is comfortably dry for us. And zero precip is good for the Sunday when we are having breakfast and our annual parish meeting. No adult Sunday School today, pick it back up next Sunday, February 1st. 

Then on Tuesday, February 3rd start a new session of weekday Bible Seminar. More about that to come.

Linda and I are loving our new digs, me especially the small size and the view from my blue velvet chair at windowside. The chair is facing east, a table with lamp to my left as is natural for a righthanded person, and to my right is St. Andrews Bay. Directly across, on a clear day I can see, from this seventh floor, over Shell Island at a low and thin wide spot with no trees, into the shining Gulf of Mexico.

Also love being immersed in downtown St. Andrews instead of five or six blocks away, and seeing from the small bedroom not only the changing traffic lights at Beck Avenue and 11th and 15th but whatever is going on, and the marina and the mini-myriad of cafes or restaurants. The Shrimp Boat sits exactly on the spot where I used to play on the beach as a boy, where there were always jillions of fiddler crabs, and where in the mid-1940s our skiff was built by hand. Always loving Hunt’s and Captain’s Table, we’ve found two more favorites, Enzo’s Pizza and Chez Amavida, and there are more. Bit pricey, Thai Basil was excellent the two times we went there. We tried the newly reopened coffee house across the street and were more than slightly disappointed and won’t return, maybe for breakfast but never lunch again. 

This isn’t a theology, psychology, philosophy or food blog, just a rambling old man, but Chez Amavida is delightfully unique for around here, Seattle St. Andrews. We went back again for supper last evening and repeated dishes we’ve had there before, they were so good. But then the sign out from says “killer food,” and they’ve got that right. With free wifi, it’s like a college hangout coffee shop for 21st C hippies, always young people there doing homework, reading, MacBooks open. Last evening two guys playing chess at the next table; and a guy with guitar, amp/speaker and decent singing voice. I would have sworn I was in a Seattle Coffeehouse. 

Also. At last the truth can be told. My friend Mike emailed me from Atlanta about that owl that, last Wednesday morning (Massalina Bayou) Robert and I spotted way up high on the dock post in Massalina Bayou, saying owls only come out at night.
 I rode by yesterday afternoon on my way to the church to officiate a wedding, and sure enough the owl is still standing there. It’s fake, a faux owl, apparently keeping watch over the bayou by night and day. What a hoot.


Saturday, January 24, 2015

dreamless sleep

Sound of waves lapping the shore below. Looks to be grim weather. StABay looking southwest from my porch just now.

I’m no photographer, but the views from here are so captivating that the iPhone camera stays busy. Grainy, but I’m not interested in moving up from bad to good, much less better, best. The pics are for me in the moment.

Considering whether to add Saturday to my morning exercise “regimen” that’s no regimen at all but Monday - Friday hour sometimes half-hour, not to be beautiful but to maybe extend +Time. Article online this morning says for best effects exercise before breakfast, so I’m sitting here typing and starving while deciding whether to cook an omelet or go downstairs to the gym room. The important thing will not be the decision but how I feel later about what I actually did. My history and being is the omelet. But I wasn’t a heart patient looking at 80 then either.

Officiating a wedding this afternoon. My sister’s birthday today. Fourth anniversary of that morning in Cleveland. It’s in my personal time capsule. Rise early, shower head to toe with foul soap that I was warned not to get in eyes or mouth, bundle up, meet friends and loved ones in the lobby, go outside into bitter cold Ohio winter dawn, board bus trolley for ride to the heart institute, wait in waiting room with friends and loved ones for a few minutes until name is called. Hugs and get in a wheel chair. Roll to the prep room. Take off everything but your birthday suit orders the aide. Shall I keep my birthday suit on? I reply for a little Monday morning humor but the grim-faced aide cracks no smile, just repeats the order. Take off everything but your birthday suit. Covers me up with a warm blanket. Do you want to see a minister before you go for surgery? asks the voice of doom. No thank you, I say, my priest is here. Aren’t you from Florida? Yes. You’re here from Florida and your priest is here with you? Yes. He comes in for prayer, anoints my forehead with oil, sign of the cross. Final family hug as gurney with me aboard swings round and heads out through double doors like a battleship leaving port for the war zone. Ties up to a pier for nearly an hour as I watch enormous machinery wheeled into my OR and my Team assemble. Clutching my bottle of nitrostat, I’m planning my dreams. The main one will be riding the Jamestown Ferry, in my sailor uniform, from downtown Newport across Narragansett Bay to where that green Dodge sedan is waiting on the pier. 

No dreams came. I woke up thinking I was drowning, struggling to breath as a tube was pulled up my throat. Eyes open. Loved ones beaming down at me. “I’m alive!” I exclaim as +Time begins ticking.