Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Wilhelm or William?

Blogging possibilities are illimitable for intriguing oneself or for fatiguing self and others. Unless there is a hurricane in the Gulf, for example, to comment constantly on the weather, which this morning seems nonexistent, just a Florida Gulf Coast muggy morning not nearly so delightful as yesterday. I guess it wasn’t autumn after all. Here on the downstairs front porch waiting for the carrier to toss the PCNH while the sprinklers shift to different zones hoping to get me: each lawn sprinkler system has its demon, each head its own pixie.

It’s not PC to say the paper boy, anymore it’s the carrier. Same with the mail man.

In the blackness there’s that long-legged bird doing its squawking sound, from where, can’t tell. Yesterday when I went down to the Bay it flew with a huge protest out of a pine tree, more often I see it wandering down front, fishing just off my beach. This is a brown bird, not the white one. 

So what then? Yesterday’s primary? I haven’t looked again this morning for upsets, but no surprises last night. Give it up, some of you, unless you just like your name on little signs, and going round the Wednesday morning after to collect them. I trust the majority of folks are happy though, that’s the way with a democracy. Or at least various pluralities should be tentatively satisfied. Until November.

Not me. Oh, with the election primary, I’m good, but yesterday’s TWP had a headline that world leaders have lost confidence in our WH to take command and lead the way against ISIS. I didn't read the article but admit to preferring John McCain to lead such a war, not Romney what the hell does he know about war, but McCain because the situation has gone off extremely critical and John knows better the meaning of all out and how to proceed and what to drop, and critical is where we have arrived because of stupid Tuesdays in decades past. Stop it, Bubba, lest you offend someone.

Have not scanned news online this morning, or opened email. Today: pay a couple of bills, start sermon thought for Sunday, open my new book that the Easter Bunny left on the front porch yesterday. W. Wrede on the Messianic Secret in Mark. Das Messiasgeheimnis in den Evangelien published 1901 but my German is so bad that I have the English translation not published until seventy years later, J.C.G. Grieg, 1971. Seeing that Wrede (is it William or Wilhelm, make up your mind) is credited with opening that box -- and seeing that throughout Year B we read Mark and I intend that we read and discuss Mark in my Tuesday morning Bible seminar, after reading and discussing the Gospel of Thomas -- I might as well read Wrede. Supposedly also, in the book Wrede argues persuasively that Jesus‘ itinerary was not historical but the evangelist’s literary construct for purposes of his agenda, and I’m intrigued. Everyone else can be fatigued, I couldn’t care less.  


Little scratchy this morning are we, Sonny Boy? 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


Goodness, four:fifteen, late again today, not seven o’clock as yesterday, still later than my Usual. And a special Goodness for a repeat of yesterday’s temperature, pleasantly cool down by the Bay as I went down to get Linda’s PCNH, and pretty good up here on my upstairs front porch. Can’t see anything yet though, only darkness. The city’s street lamp is an extra half-moon. Off to the east and south, that green navigation light winking at me from across the Bay: what a tease. I'm not going there, cut it out.

Good coffee, Italian roast. The Kona is almost gone, so I'm rationing it out. Who knows, maybe someone will bring me a can of that for my birthday in two weeks. 

Tuesday, for my walk in the Cove with Robert, seven o’clock. Counting breakfast after it’ll be two hours. A stop to visit friends I still love and will always miss; well, not always, eh? Hey that’s a nice light breeze, an early autumn would be fair after the brutal summer, but the weather also is a tease. I’m thinking still a month before it’s safe to settle in happy about the weather, and may the Evil Eye not be reading over my shoulder with a tropical storm in his backpack.

Kristen heads off back to university later this morning, a college senior, she’s all grown up, why have my girls done this to me? My friends who are enjoying sons and daughters at home might bless themselves by giving thanks for a child, a person who passes through your life on their way to becoming an adult, which is what Time is all about. What about Eternity: what is heaven like? A tiny girl holds out her arms to me and says “picka me up, Daddy.”

Green right departing.


Monday, August 25, 2014

Heaven: cool breeze, clear sky, ship passing, green light

Not to say the sleeping habits of the aged, more our nocturnal erraticisms innit. Maybe it’s actually making up for, IDK. Saturday evening my head was on the pillow by seven:thirty and awake at 12:19, downstairs drinking coffee before 12:30. Last night light out after watching Mike on the lawyers’ call-in program, I didn’t know Mike took a turn on the show but as always he was the neatest, coolest and sharpest but the sound was mute because Linda was asleep and I couldn’t follow the conversation via the subtitles however Mike is one of my heroes so I watched anyway; then this morning Linda sits on the edge of the bed watching to make sure the Bubba is still breathing (oh rats) then says what’s going on, it’s seven o’clock. 

What has happened? Here am I, Lord, on an August morn, sleeping till seven o'clock and now sitting on my upstairs front screen porch looking out across St. Andrews Bay at Shell Island and in a light, comfortable, even cool, breeze. Maybe the Bubba is not breathing, this is as heavenly as anyone could ever get, maybe I am in heaven. No, I don’t hear the Anglican Chant, so obviously this is not heaven and I’m still alive.  

O Lord, our heavenly Father, almighty and everlasting God,
who hast safely brought us to the beginning of this new day:
Defend us in the same with thy mighty power; and grant that
this day we fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of
danger; but that all our doings being ordered by thy governance, we may do always what is righteous in thy sight; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (BCP)
Incoming: a ship moving east in the far channel, in a couple minutes she will pass me in the near channel heading west to the Port, yep there she goes, a container vessel heavily laden.
Actually, maybe this is heaven. Where’s that green channel marker, Lord?


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Don't have a hissyfit

Don't get yourself into a tizzy

(this morning I won't be at HNEC as usual because I'm filling in for Father Chuck at St. Thomas by the Sea, Laguna Beach. Chuck is recuperating from injuries in a car crash last weekend.)

Matthew 16:13-20 (KJV) Confession of Peter
13 When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? 14 And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. 15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? 16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. 17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. 18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 20 Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.

Above is our gospel reading for today. Matthew 16 takes it over from Mark 8, where it is somewhat problematic for understanding in light of Mark’s theme and agenda, which late 19th / early 20th century German Lutheran professor and theologian Wilhelm Wrede called das Messiasgeheimnis, which has come to us in English as the messianic mystery or the messianic secret. Matthew expands on Mark right off the bat by 

  • changing “who do men say that I am?” to “who do men say the Son of Man is??
  • expanding Peter’s response from “You are the Christ” to “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
  • adding Jesus’ response to Peter from no words to “Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. 18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven,” which does not appear at all in Mark's original. 
What’s going on? 

Wonderfully, and as we might expect, scholars do not agree. The first issue is within Mark, at least a couple of things. For Jesus to center attention to himself, a self-effacing, humble man, seems out of character. Another, Peter knowing who Jesus was is counter to the Geheimnis that Mark features from start to finish for what are to me, clearly reasons of inspiring his frustratred hearers to dash out and proclaim Christ crucified and raised. For another, Peter knowing and confessing before the Transfiguration, which comes next but has not happened yet, seems asynchronous within Mark's own story. For still another, some scholars, take them or leave them, point out that use of the title Messiah (Christ, xristos) for Jesus is post-Easter, also asynchronous. These same issues come over into Matthew, who seems to have written perhaps a generation after Mark (c.a. 65-70 A.D.) when the fledgling Christian church was growing and needing divine sanction for its developing authority structure, with interesting implications for text criticism. 

Not good for the pulpit lest people in the pew be horrified, hyperventilating, fanning and fainting, these are nonetheless great topics for Sunday School or Tuesday morning Bible seminar. 


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Don't say His Name, Harry

One of many joys of this electronic age and the internet is the seemingly infinite availability of free resources, things that have been written over the years and down through the ages of history. Walking on my treadmill, which I detest, I have read several Shakespeare plays (I’m not his fan but he beats staring at the clock) and novels of Charles Dickens: typically, one chapter is a decent workout for me. I’m not especially a Dickens fan either, though the romanticism of several is touching. And Mr. Pickwick’s exciting adventures all while dealing with the unwanted affections and eventual lawsuit of his landlady, who thought he was proposing that they marry and live and love together when all he was asking was permission to have a manservant in his apartments; and Pickwick lost in court and, as well as finding other rooms, was found guilty and had to pay the lady a substantial fine for leading her on. Well, Little Dorrit is pretty sappy with the time in debtors prison, and Dickens goes on and on and on and on chapter after chapter after chapter after chapter because he was earning his living by writing serials for newspaper publication. 

But anyone who ever loved and lost in their youth might like Great Expectations and its final scene when the long lost beloved Estella unexpectedly shows back up in Pip’s life in his later years and they walk off into the moonlight. “I took her hand in mine, and we went out of the ruined place; and, as the morning mists had risen long ago when I first left the forge, so the evening mists were rising now, and in all the broad expanse of tranquil light they showed to me, I saw no shadow of another parting from her.”

Anyone harboring a teenage daydream in their waning years has got to love Pip and Estella. Go for it, Mr. Pip, and all free online.

Today it wouldn't be necessary to buy all these pricey textbooks, practically anything I ever had to read in theological seminary is now available on the web. And one no longer must own a costly encyclopedia, or if it comes down to it even a dictionary or thesaurus, because thoughts and words and names can be looked up instantly online quicker than turning pages and running one’s finger down the letter by letter descending alphabet of word lists. There was a time when I had to plan special trips to the library to do research for sermons, or, when I was in business, dig out information for my Australian and Canadian clients. No more.

And it is enormous fun discovering things to share with my Sunday School class and folks in my Tuesday morning Bible Seminar. Yale University has a wide range of online courses that include the course lectures by their professors, which one can either read the transcript or watch the professor lecture, virtually being there in the classroom even while students ask and the professor answers questions. I have done both the Old Testament course, taught by a Jewish scholar, and the New Testament course, interestingly enough taught by a professor who grew up in a literalist fundamentalist church, and admits to now being an Episcopalian.

Bother, where was I going? Oh yes, Bible Gateway is the most wonderful online resource imaginable, with translations in every language including a couple dozen English, several Hebrew Bibles and four Greek New Testaments; including at least one TR where one can compare, for example, the text of the KJV with later translations from better and more ancient sources, enlightening, for example, questions about the so-called Johannine Comma. And Peter Kirby’s Early Jewish Writings and especially his Early Christian Writings with it’s  scholarly essay on each book of the Bible and many excellent links, may be my second most useful online resource. EssWord, rambling again, TomBo.      

At BibleGateway, the Orthodox Jewish Bible, completed by Phillip Goble in 2002, is an English language version that applies Yiddish and Hasidic cultural expressions to the Messianic Bible, with some fascinating yields. Tomorrow’s story, for example, of the background, conception, birth and rearing of Moses, reads quaintly in the OJB as though Harry Golden's mother were reading it to him at bedtime. And our liturgical response to that opening story in Exodus, Psalm 124. Read the psalm below. 

Hashem, BTW, is the Jewish name for God (whose name YHWH is too sacred to speak) that one speaks when one is not in a worship environment (where one would say Adonai instead of YHWH) and one needs to make very damnable sure that one does not accidentally slip up and commit the stoneable sacrilege of saying The Name aloud. The OJB is very neat:

Tehillim 124 Orthodox Jewish Bible (OJB)
124 (Shir HaMa’alot, [Song of Ascents] of Dovid). If it had not been Hashem Who was lanu (for us, on our side), now may Yisroel say;
If it had not been Hashem Who was lanu, when adam (man) rose up against us;
Then they had swallowed us up chayyim (alive); when their wrath was kindled against us;
Then the mayim would have overwhelmed us, the torrent would have swept over nafsheinu (our nefesh); (Shir HaMa’alot, [Song of
Then the mayim hazedonim (treacherous waters) would have swept over nafsheinu (our nefesh).
Baruch Hashem, Who hath not given us up as a prey to their shinayim (teeth).
Nafsheinu (our nefesh) is escaped as a tzippor (bird) out of the pach (snare of the fowlers); the pach is broken, and we are escaped.
Ezreinu (our help) B’Shem Hashem Oseh Shomayim vaAretz.

I might add, Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.


Friday, August 22, 2014

Biff!! Pow!!! But!!

Trivia notes that the predawn temperature has for weeks been 80F to 82F unchanging and threatening. Each day differs in discomfort. During yesterday’s walk the body was unbearably sticky sweaty even during breakfast in the cool breeze at Bayou Joe’s, returning home straight to the shower. Today's heat index: 115F. Discomfort? Trivia. People are dying. Hating. In a world of murderous hatred, my life is self-centered trivia. 

But political correctness is a multifaceted brilliant cut diamonique. What is seen vice what is. On this side, from my facet I sympathize, believing I understand the seven decade history that brought Gaza, Hamas and the West Bank to this bitter morning: I am millennia shortsighted, TeeComeLately. Their warring and bitter hatred are from everlasting and even the Holocaust is but a chapter. Yes, stop the slaughter, but for Israel to negotiate truce with Hamas is to trim the claws of a madman whose declared sole purpose is eradication, there is no peace with him, history is where it is, not where we might have it, his children terrorists in waiting for generations to come and blessed are the peacemakers are delusional. Hopeful, well-meaning, not to say fools, but oblivious or turning blind eye, deaf ear. Is it time for the once and for all to settle Hamas, IDK, neither do you. Am I changing sides? No, watching, contemplating, maybe seeing. Why? Why now? 

Because ISIS is precisely more of the same that makes me suddenly see Hamas/Israel as a picture-in-picture with America on the big screen. To merely stop ISIS at the dam is trimming fingernails. Bombing enemy’s soldiers on the front line, tearing down his statue and declaring victory is the warfare of fools, we have stood on the flight deck and waved that vee. To stop an enemy is only to destroy his economic support, obliterate his industrial base and wreck his logistics train. ISIS has declared permanent war on us, as Hamas on Israel. We do not need a short term solution, we will fight only the ISIS front line at our national peril, but I wonder if our leadership is that timid. Reluctance is understandable, timidity is suicidal. Martin is right, are you listening, Barry? 

Batman, come.

And Ferguson? I can and do sympathize, though with what seems to me a reasonable viewpoint; but it is not possible for me a white man to understand that reason is not the issue, being is the issue, trust is the issue, the issue is existential and I am not and have never been. I may and do despise the media for their incendiary phrase “unarmed black teenager shot down by a white policeman” and they have stirred my contempt for freedom of the press, but I am not there, no policeman ever pulled up beside me downtown shouting, “Get the f--- out of the street” as a normal, usual, accepted and acceptable way of dealing with me, I haven’t lived there, I don’t know how my quick temper might respond, though certainly not blessed are the meek, likely the scene would be ugly, not unlikely turn deadly. I may and do contemn the Missouri governor, a contemptible political hack screeching "a vigorous prosecution must now be pursued" before investigation is done. But white, I am not on the other side of being. From my pov and life I’ve deeply respected authority and the police, but my life experience is not being treated negatively by a public official only because of my color, it isn’t possible for me to understand, it just isn’t. I just have to watch.

And yet, if is the Ferguson police force, I wonder why, in a town 70% black why there is a white mayor and white police force? Whose fault is that? Who didn't care enough to vote, but only to demonstrate.

Lost and wondering where I am and where I'm headed. Johnny Nash and me.


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Life: Take with Food

Life: Take with Food

What’s happening on this end? Series of things, eh, each different, at this hour all forgettably zilch. Usual evening close of day is fruit for supper, never meat. Empty dehumidifier. Half hour to hour on computer upstairs, load Linda’s crossword puzzles, NYT, WP, USAToday, and one called Daily that its software messes up half the time and it won’t load, plus on Monday a weekly that comes “easy, medium, hard” print those out and deliver to the lady of the manor. Next, really super important stuff on which Time can’t be wasted predawn when the brain works. Study cars from favorite era 1920s and 30s up to early 40s (do you know why Buick alone of GM cars didn’t adopt Fisher Body’s “Turret Top” in 1935? well, I do, and there’s a trick question that goes along with that, and both questions will be on St. Peter’s exam at the pearly gate, probably an essay question too, not your multiple choice stuff  so you’d better get with it if you want to be Saved, and that's your spiritual advice from here this morning), check out Dilbert, Calvin & Hobbes, Cul-de-Sac, Get Fuzzy, Doonesbury, Rudy Park, Candorville. Now and then Two Cows and a Chicken. Alternately instead of web browsing, read in bed until Linda startles me awake saying, “why don’t you just turn out the light?” which happened last night at 8:15. 

Why the line “... , never meat”? Because such as the delicious spicy taco salad with glass of malbec for supper at church last evening dependably wakens me by two a.m. with it’s the big one Elizabeth I’m comin’ to ya, honey heartburn, so generally only fruit for supper. Now and then a tomato sandwich if there's a bright ripe red tomato, but not often, because I like it with lots of mayonnaise. This stage of life is memorable specifically because I remember when my father got to this point in digestion and no longer could eat meat at night. So, heavier protein at breakfast, sometimes at lunch with red wine and a vegetable. Supper? fruit. Linda may eat cottage cheese: I love cottage cheese, especially with milk and sugar, but have memories of that day when our next door neighbor Commander Don McCarthy’s wife telephoned Linda and asked, “do you know Tom is rolling on the grass in your backyard?” and Linda said, “oh yes, he’s just passing kidney stones.” I recently read that Don went on to vice admiral.    

There’s today's lesson in growing old. Here’s the other lesson in aging. Take your heart meds after your morning walk, not before. Tuesday morning I had to cancel the long walk with Robert, not because we had a funeral later Tuesday morning, but because I had gulped the meds at six, and 30 minutes later BP had dropped so low I was too dizzy to go outside in the humid heat to walk. So take with food as the label says.  

So what else is new? Harry Golden wrote. Email from Norm. Email from Bill Fuller, hope to see Bill & Ann at St T church this fall and winter, also Phil & Sheree. Linda scans a newspaper article and says, “I don’t understand about NASCAR, lots of people going around in circles.” OK, just for that I don’t understand about Pinterest. Or this circular business of aging, and anybody who thinks it’s not a business hasn’t been here yet.