Saturday, March 31, 2012

Sabbath is TIME. Sometimes a day. Sometimes a long weekend. Sometimes a long vacation. Sometimes a few minutes. Sabbath is TIME for relaxation and enjoyment of what brings one peace and fulfillment. This early Saturday morning, Sabbath includes lying here stretched out in bed, cup of coffee in the mug Kristen gave me for Christmas from her college. 
Upstairs porch door open, bit humid as the Creator means Florida to be, slightest pre-dawn breeze, 74*F, glancing out into the blackness where, looking hopefully toward a new day, St Andrews Bay and Shell Island will appear in due course. Silence. Quiet. Cool. Dark.
Sabbath includes an email from Walt, who has been keeping up with my raccoon adventures, including a telephone visit yesterday afternoon, and sent a picture. 
Surely there's a lesson in a raccoon coming to the door and asking, "Did you lose a cat?" One lesson might be that any raccoon who brings your kitty home can get the newspaper and bring my coffee. 
Up early thinking about adult Sunday School for tomorrow morning, Also about the financial aid decisions we made at the HNES financial aid committee meeting this past Wednesday. Those who generously help make our financial aid program possible can be proud that many children are able to attend our school, who otherwise would not be able to do so. The number of children needing assistance for school year 2012-2013 is up 33%, yes owing to the economy; but also to our attracting new families with deserving and promising children. Being Financial Aid Administrator for the school and dually for the Holy Nativity School Foundation has been one of the brightest spots in my life for the past dozen years and more. 
My part of West Beach Drive is the far west end beyond Frankford Avenue where there is almost zero traffic. Three cars have driven by in the past two hours, one being the folks who deliver the PC News-Herald every morning. Sometimes they tap the car horn lightly as they toss. 
Bit later now. Another cup of coffee. And a favorite sandwich. Smear of something yellow (Benecol?) on two slices of 100% whole wheat bread, couple tablespoons of peanut butter. My peanut butter is zero salt, from Fresh Market, ground by me, watch each peanut fall into the grinder and out into the container. Perfect: tiny bit grainy. My preference is chunky, but tiny bit grainy also is perfect.
My Sabbath. My TIME. My beloved town. My spot. And just now coming barely visible on my Bay down front, My Laughing Place.

Life IS short. 
And we HAVEN'T much time to gladden the hearts of those who travel with us.
So, be quick to love.
And make haste to be kind.

Thunder. Lightning and thunder. Over the Bay, right out front
Now, raindrops.
Now, a downpour.

Every day is beautiful.

TW+ in +Time

Friday, March 30, 2012


CANON 2: Of Translations of the Bible
The Lessons prescribed in the Book of Common Prayer shall be read from the translation of the Holy Scriptures commonly known as the King James or Authorized Version (which is the historic Bible of this Church) together with the Marginal Readings authorized for use by the General Convention of 1901; or from one of the three translations known as Revised Versions, including the English Revision of 1881, the American Revision of 1901, and the Revised Standard Version of 1952; from the Jerusalem Bible of 1966; from the New English Bible with the Apocrypha of 1970; or from The 1976 Good News Bible (Today's English Version); or from The New American Bible (1970); or from The Revised Standard Version, an Ecumenical Edition, commonly known as the "R.S.V. Common Bible" (1973); or from The New International Version (1978); or from The New Jerusalem Bible (1987); or from the Revised English Bible (1989); or from the New Revised Standard Version (1990); or from translations, authorized by the diocesan bishop, of those approved versions published in any other language; or from other versions of the Bible, including those in languages other than English, which shall be authorized by diocesan bishops for specific use in congregations or ministries within their dioceses. (2009 Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church)
Traveling on business years ago, my car radio was tuned to a “talk program” featuring listeners calling in with religious questions and comments. OK, it was 1980, easily remembered because of the car I was driving. The radio host seemed quite learned and was responding to a particular caller by telling something that the original Greek language said. The caller, abysmally ignorant judging by his use of English, (right, “judge not, lest ye be judged”) interrupted rudely and said, “I don’t go by the Greek, I go by the King James Bible, the inerrant word of God.” The host eventually gave up on him and went on to another caller.
Probably the most commonly used Bible in Episcopal parishes these days is the New Revised Standard Version, which is among those listed above as authorized by General Convention for use in our worship. It has always intrigued me that some denominations insist that the King James Version is the only true Bible, the literal and inerrant word of God. Likely they don’t realize that what they are using is a 1611 translation by and for the Church of England. Why folks who are not Anglican would insist on using only our Bible is beyond me, but we are what we are taught. There are modern and clearer translations from the Hebrew and Greek, using more ancient texts than were available to the Church of England scholars who worked on the Authorised Version (AV, KJV) from 1604 to 1611. 
For psalms in worship, my preference is the Coverdale Psalter. For memorizing, always and only the King James Version. For hearing, my personal favorite for language and sound is the RSV, which is in the KJV tradition of word for word translation. The NRSV is my choice for study, but can be annoying with some of its liberated word and phrase choices. Many people prefer the NIV, which seems to have more theological agenda and bias than the RSV/NRSV. However, the Authorised Version (KJV) itself apparently had an agenda to protect the episcopal organization of the Church of England. Nothing is free from the human touch.
Regardless, there is only one true Christmas story
And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child... (Luke 2, KJV)
We all have personal preferences and prejudices, self included.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Foot Envy

Foot Envy
NYT this morning introduces a new hominum with an opposing big toe. Found in Ethiopia near where Lucy was found, they lived between three and four million years ago, contemporary with Lucy perhaps, but like Ardi man they were suited to moving and living in trees. 
When I was a boy dense forest covered the entire Cove area of Panama City with tall trees and thick brush. In some places around our neighborhood there were no roads, only a few well worn footpaths that at least my imagination knew had been travelled by an earlier race long ages before. For a boy like me who loved climbing trees, having four hands instead of two hands and two feet would have been just the thing. 
My father built us a -- we called it a tree house but it was actually a platform -- in the chinkapin trees in our back yard. Long gone, they were where the carport was built about 1948 because we had a new car that my mother didn’t want ruined sitting under the pine trees as the car before it had been. A chinkapin tree is obnoxious for barefooted boys,
because the burrs harden, drop to the ground and become like large sandspurs, stickers, painful to step on. With two more hands instead of feet life would have been more pleasant in the summertime, because I would not have come down from the trees.
It would have made picking up scallops in St. Andrews Bay much easier too.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


My mother died last year, an event still on my mind. As my car backed out of the carport on the drizzly Sunday morning in July, there was a slapping on the car trunk. Brake the car, open the window. Linda said, “Community called. Your mother just died.” Spent the next hour or so in the room with her, church’s prayers at time of death, trying to reach family by cellphone, waiting for the funeral director. A nurse’s aide came into the room, expressed condolences, said, “You must be ‘her Bubba.’ She talked about ‘my Bubba,’ is that you?”  
We are trying to share her things with family members who might cherish them because of growing up memories. Furniture. Dolls she made and dressed long years ago. Weller pottery she collected. The mover is coming tomorrow morning. It isn’t that I “don’t want” these things, I want all these things, in fact, I want nothing to change, it’s simply wanting to share. There’s a big difference, at least to me; everyone doesn't seem to understand that. One relative wants a long sofa that has childhood memories of being piled with family for photographs during visits to the grandparents. That‘s the idea.
That Sunday evening, Linda and I drove around a bit. The neighborhood in the Cove where we grew up. Our old house on Massalina Drive looks the same except that little three-trunk magnolia tree that I stood on the front porch and watched my father and “Old Dave” plant one day in 1938 is quite large, has spread to shade the entire front yard. We had supper out, my plate of fried mullet for July, stopped by the bay to get a picture of the end of the day.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday
Almighty and everliving God, in your tender love for the
human race you sent your Son our Savior Jesus Christ to
take upon him our nature, and to suffer death upon the cross,
giving us the example of his great humility: Mercifully grant
that we may walk in the way of his suffering, and also share
in his resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives
and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever
and ever. Amen.
For each Sunday, the Propers include a Collect for the Day, which almost invariably contains specific theological assertions. In many collects the theology is simple and straightforward. But the theology of our collect for Palm Sunday is a fabric rather than a thread: 
  • God is almighty and eternal, 
  • God loves people dearly (implying not only that God is not  dispassionate but that the Lord is so peculiar a God as to care about humans), 
  • God sent Jesus to become truly human, 
  • God sent Jesus to suffer and die on the cross, and that specifically so that we should see and follow his example of humility (the above contemporary language collect may be “liberated,” but the traditional language version is clearer theologically, “and to suffer death upon the cross, that all mankind should follow the example of his great humility”).
Interestingly, this collect does not carry the theology that Christ came/was sent to die for our sins. But more interesting is the assertion that God sent him for this purpose, to be crucified, a cruel, humiliating, excruciatingly painful way to die. Reason, a characteristic of Anglican theological thinking, would recognize that if Calvary was God’s purpose and intent, those who were instruments of God’s purpose and intent must in the end be judged innocent pawns in the drama. Judas Iscariot. Caiaphas the chief priest. Peter who denied him. The Sanhedrin. The screaming crowd. Pontius Pilate. The soldiers who tormented him. The passersby who mocked him. God who willed it. Jesus son of Mary. Eloi eloi lama sabachthani.
This line of Reason absolutely comes down to Judas, whom the Christian ages have reviled and condemned more than any other, perhaps because, opposite to Caiaphas and Pilate, he was a trusted and loved disciple. Perhaps Judas was an innocent pawn then. Just an actor in the drama. Is that unthinkable?

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Christ Hymn

Philippians 2:5-11 King James Version (KJV)
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Called the Christ hymn from Philippians, in this beautiful and much loved passage, Paul is urging his listeners to live humbly, as Jesus lived humbly. That’s what it is, actually; not to say “that’s all it is,” which might unintentionally sound dismissive. For two millennia the passage has generated theological argument about whether it asserts the divinity of Jesus; but then theologians have no way to earn their livings but to discuss and argue with other theologians and write textbooks to be sold to seminarians and mystify everyone else -- it’s called loftily, “theological discourse” and is meant to keep the argument going and more books being written and sold and revised into new editions; and often seems further intended to keep the laity at a respectful even awestruck distance.
Bearing in mind that it is common for New Testament writers, especially the Gospel evangelists, to lift Old Testament passages entirely out of context and interpret them in an altogether new way that is foreign to what the Old Testament prophet knew, meant or intended (e.g., Matthew 1:23 from Isaiah 7:14), it seems perfectly legitimate for Christians today to go into a letter of Paul and perceive meaning that not unlikely would have surprised, distressed, even outraged the author in his day and age. That indeed might be the work of the Holy Spirit -- which in the Anglican ethos could be understood as the practice of Reason.
That’s been the case with the Christ Hymn over the generations of the Church, to perceive in Philippians 2:5-11 an assertion of the eternal divinity of Jesus Christ. That’s all well and good; and it’s certainly what the Gospel of John teaches, but it’s not what Paul meant to say. Paul is trying in elegant language to teach us to live humbly.
The Christ Hymn, BTW, is our second reading for Palm Sunday, next on the calendar.

Sunday, March 25, 2012


There is wi-fi in the house for anyone who brings a laptop or iPad when they come to visit. And my mother’s old computer is online downstairs for anyone to use. The girls play games on it. But the main thing is “Papa, may I use your laptop?” One girl using it stirs the other to want to use it, a law of nature that had it tied up Friday and Saturday such that my time on it had to be early before there were girl noises from the pink bedroom or light shining under their door. 
Anyone who won’t let a child touch their computer likely doesn’t have granddaughters. The one with her head in the stratosphere seems more focused on it than the other.  
Recently she asked, “Mom, do you know why I don’t run faster in PE?” 
“No, why?”
“Because the faster I move in space the slower I move in time, and I don’t want PE to last any longer than it already does.”
A house is happiest for me when there are child noises. Even the sound of squabbling is better than nothing. The sound of silence is too loud when no girls are around.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Presence of the Lord

Surely, the Presence of the Lord is in this Place
Jeremiah 31:31-34 (NRSV)
31 The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 32It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. 33But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, ‘Know the Lord’, for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more. 
Caroline and Charlotte are here with us while Tass and Jeremy enjoy an overnight away together. At bedtime, Linda reads them a story, and the story has a presence and being of its own, it’s not just Nana sitting there reading from a book, they get into it and respond. A child has a wonderful sense and ability for that. In our Sunday morning worship, Bible lessons are read to us. As lessons are read and we hear them, it is not simply that someone is standing up there reading to us and we are sitting here listening and reading along from a lectionary sheet, it is a Holy Moment of the Divine Presence; God is present in and as God’s Word -- present spiritually, present physically in the very sound that hits our ears and enters our hearts and minds. We are meant to get into it with God.

This was taught to me in seminary, where it became my spiritual practice and holy experience of worship. And it may have been more than thirty years, those seminary days, since I was able to “become as a child” and get into the Scripture in that way. Because unfortunately, or perhaps unblessedly, as clergy my bent is to look at the reading, think about its historical setting, explain when and why and to whom Jeremiah said this, and the prophet’s mood at the time, visualize how it might be taught and discussed in Sunday school class or Bible study, fingers moving back and forth through the Bible and the other books in front of me, even over the computer keys as we look up stuff on line. To a great extent, that wandering mind robs me of the moment of God’s presence in worship. 

Perhaps a Lenten task is to be mindful of that and repent, which is to say, change and reclaim the sacredness of the moment, the holiness that I once knew. Tomorrow morning, perhaps I can for once have a quiet mind as the Lord comes present in and as the Word, enters me, writes on my heart; and perhaps I can be the Lord’s and let the Lord be my God.  

Friday, March 23, 2012

Raccoon War Turns Nasty
It isn’t who you know, it’s who you ask. At church Sunday, Linda asked friends to suggest a company who might come do major trimming on the trees around our house, trees raccoons have been climbing to jump to the roof, thence force their way into the attic. After an initial visit to scope it out, the company came Thursday to do the trimming. What a marvelous job they did. Trimmed four large cedar trees on the east side of the house, two palm trees, three enormou oak trees, and a too tall grapefruit tree on the west side of the house. They came out with professional equipment and a crew of eight men, were here two hours and forty minutes. We are pleased beyond words. The company is Gulf Coast Tree Specialists, Inc. The owner is a certified arborist who knows trees. This is not a commercial; but yes, it is a recommendation, these folks are fast and professional.
Friend and neighbor set his raccoon trap in my side yard. First night, trapped another possum. Maybe save him to take to the Possum Festival in Wausau on the first Saturday in August? At the annual Possum Festival they offer all manner of possum dishes, fried possum, possum stew, cajun possum chili, stuffed possum, baked possum, roasted possum, sweet potato possum, even possum ice cream, and that’s no lie. Here’s a verbatim quote lifted right off their website about all the possum dishes: “The most popular treat, being, well you guessed it...Possum Ice Cream!” Couldn’t find the recipe for possum ice cream, but here’s a treat for your church Supper Club:
Baked Possum
Recipe At A Glance
Serves/Makes:   4
1 large possum, skinned, dressed, and washed
1 quart beer
4 tablespoons Tabasco sauce
1 1/2 tablespoon salt
2 onions, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
4 sweet potatoes
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 ounce whiskey
Mix the beer, whiskey, salt, Tabasco sauce, and Worcestershire sauce together. Place possum in a large roasting pan. Sprinkle the celery, onions, and the garlic all over the possum. Pour the liquid mixture over the possum as well. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 350F. Place the sweet potatoes around the possum. Bake covered for 1 1/2 hours. Baste once or twice with the marinade from the pan as the possum cooks.
Son-of-a-gun, look what I came across on line while hunting that possum ice cream recipe:

Roast Raccoon with Stuffing

~ 5 - 7lb raccoon, dressed, not cut up
~ 1/2 lb sausage meat
~ 3 tbsp butter
~ 1 onion, chopped
~ 1 cup chopped celery
~ 2 tsp salt
~ 1/2 tsp pepper
~ 1/4 cup cream
~ 2 cups corn bread crumbs
~ 2 tsp sage
~ 3 tbsp chopped parsley
~ 1 tsp marjoram
~ 1/2 tsp mace
~ 1/4 cup orange juice
~ 1 cup red wine
In a skillet, saute the onion and celery in the butter. Add the sausage meat and cook until brown. Drain off the fat. In a bowl mix the sausage mixture, cream, corn bread crumbs, sage, parsley, marjoram, mace and orange juice together thoroughly. Salt and pepper the raccoon inside and out. Stuff the raccoon and close up the belly cavity. Place on a rack in a roasting pan and cook for 45 minutes per pound at 300 degrees. Turn over when half done.Baste frequently with the wine and the pan juices when they cook out.
Serve and Enjoy!
One thing's for sure, one thing's for dang sure: I sure as heck wouldn’t use no cheap wine with that.

Make that Raccoon War Turns Tasty.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Peer Control?

Fifth Sunday in Lent
O Almighty God, who alone canst order the unruly wills and affections of sinners: Grant unto thy people that we may love the thing which thou commandest, and desire that which thou dost promise; that so, among the sundry and manifold changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Anyone who has taught middle school students doesn’t have to look up the definition of “unruly.” But for one to whom teaching is fun and being around budding (bursting) adolescents is true joy, those years at Holy Nativity Episcopal School were the top of my life. Unruly only in class though, and perhaps only in my classes, perhaps because they could sense that almost everything they did amused and entertained me. But the unruliness could quickly be brought to order because mounted on the wall just inside the door of my classroom was a large ship’s bell. One clang on the bell was so deafening that there would be total silence in the classroom as ears rang in the clang’s long residual ringing hummmm. 
Not that the bell was God, nor the clang the Word of God, nor the students sinners with unruly wills and affections. And the bell was seldom rung, because usually they behaved, were a joy to be with.
Our collect for this coming Sunday is charged with theological assertion: we can’t get ourselves under control, only God can do that. And presumably only if we submit to God, and that through prayer. Which by the collect we are doing, praying Almighty God to make us love and want what God commands and promises; and find true joy there. Because the world around us is tumultuous and fickle, unfaithful and undependable. Perfidious is the word, eh?
The collect for next Sunday rings a bell in my mind this morning about those middle schoolers. Unruly as they may have been in class, in chapel a cloud descended. Or a fog. While on the stage up front the middle school praise band and chorus played and sang and praised joyfully, assembled adolescents stood mute and staring straight ahead lest a peer see them being uncool. Unruly entering, then instantly muted. So if in theological discourse about the collect we assert that only God can control our unruly wills and affections, the question is, how, how does God control? One answer might be that God may control through our peers, through those around us.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Pogo for President

A web log may be for self-expression, but if others read it from time to time one may be inclined to hold back at least on some topics and not so much in-your-face. Just so, seldom is there a +Time reference to party politics, just as there isn’t from the pulpit, where the idea is to be encouraging, never divisive. Also, nobody wants to read some idiot blogger’s view on news events when there’s already a super-abundance and over-sufficiency in the media. 
Self-restraint is challenging though when things like contraception are, incredibly, twisted and blown into a national political issue and termed “conservative.” It used to be that “conservative” meant minding your own business -- in the home, domestically, and nationally, and in industry and commerce, and in foreign affairs. But in Century 21, “conservative” has been twisted to mean preemptive strikes and peeping into people’s bedrooms to make sure they’re not doing something you think is nasty. Shades of 1984. We have met Big Brother and he is running for president. Thank you very much, George Orwell, Joe McCarthy and Walt Kelly. 
After World War II there was talk of running the beloved General Douglas MacArthur for president, and people expressed fears that a general for president would lead the country toward military dictatorship. Then in the late 1950s and early 1960s JFK started running for president and there was concern lest the Pope and Catholic bishops suddenly acquire influence and power in America where we have separation of church and state.

Speaking of which, one wonders where the contraception issue started and where the candidates go to church. True modern “conservatism” would demand they publish their prescriptions and the name of their pharmacy so we can check to make sure they’re on the rhythm method and we’re not paying for their pills. Next big plank in the “conservative” political platform: picket and boycott drugstores that sell condoms over the counter without a note from your pastor.
A chicken in every pot and a camera in every bedroom.

God help us. Please

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Break A Nose

Many Christians enjoy a daily devotional reading of one kind or another, a personal discipline of some sort. Because of our custom of “giving up something for Lent,” this is an apt season to get into such a habit; that is to say, giving up time that otherwise would have gone to something else or even to nothing. Mine is encouraged by fascination with electronics, so lifting the MacBook lid opens possibilities every morning.
One, Days of Praise, appeals to me unfailingly, because the writer is bright and educated, and because coming from The Institute for Creation Research, what he says is often 180 out from me and stirs the mind. How dull life would be if lived mentally unchallenged. Which makes it seem dimwitted, for example, to watch only a television news channel that propounds only one’s own views. 
This morning’s meditation, “Statement of Christ’s Purpose,” says Jesus came to preach the kingdom of God, to call sinners to repentance, to give his life a ransom for many, to teach and send forth disciples; and goes on to say that each of us should have a clearly defined purpose. Each will vary, differ, according to gifts and talents, but the end of each should be the same as Christ’s own purposes.
Which has me contemplating my own purposes today, finishing prep for Tuesday Morning Bible Seminar, reading another ancient noncanonical gospel (instantly available on line that twenty years ago would have been too much trouble to bother), being brought up short by a verse from Psalm 2 that made its way into some gospels canonical and other. 
And again with delight reading articles from Michigan Today that arrives faithfully by email monthly. Among others this morning
  • When continents collide (yep, still evolving)
  • Pregnant primates miscarry when new male enters group (no comment, might be considered sexist) 
  • Belief in global warming rebounds after period of decline (Belief?! Only in America do folks don blindfolds in the name of -- "religion" -- choosing darkness instead of light)

    • Renaissance man - U-M's first black football player, George Jewett, spoke four languages, was valedictorian of his high school, earned a medical degree, and could wriggle through defenders or break a nose when he had to.        
    • Heart-powered pacemaker
    Observe, read, learn, be challenged and astonished, pass it on; break a nose when you have too.

    Monday, March 19, 2012

    Hebrews Lesson for Next Sunday, Lent 5

    Hebrews 5:5-10
    King James Version (KJV)
     5So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee.
     6As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.
     7Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; 8Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; 9And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; 10Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.
    Invariably, Hebrews 5:5 “he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, today have I begotten thee” catches my eye and stirs up -- what? Well, frankly, controversy, which is always much relished. The phrase appears several places in the Bible including Psalm 2, Hebrews 1, Hebrews 5, Acts 13.

    But most intriguingly in some translations of Luke 3 at Jesus’ baptism. 
    New Jerusalem Bible, Luke 3:21-22 21 “Now it happened that when all the people had been baptised and while Jesus after his own baptism was at prayer, heaven opened 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in a physical form, like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, 'You are my Son; today have I fathered you.'” 
    And the Scholars Version, Luke 3:21-22 “And it so happened when all the people were baptized, and after Jesus had been baptized and while he was praying, the sky opened up, and the holy spirit came down on him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came from the sky, you are my son; today I have become your father.”
    It appears in the fifth century Greek manuscript Codex Bezae. And in fourth century church father Epiphanius’ discussion of the Gospel of the Ebionites (c.a., 100-150 AD). 
    It makes for excellent controversy. Was it suppressed by some scribes, translators, and/or the Church and church fathers because it contradicts the Nativity story in Luke and more significantly goes against the prologue to John’s gospel? And obviously is counter to the Nicene Creed’s assertion of the eternally begotten Son.
    So the question for the class, then, is “When did Jesus become the Son of God?”
    Is “Well, it depends” one possible answer?
    Is “Seek the truth, come whence it may, cost what it will” too threatening?
    And is “Just because you believe it, that don’t make it so” too startling and in your face?!

    Sunday, March 18, 2012

    Car Puzzles

    Recently a friend emailed me pictures of four old cars and invited me to identify them. Two were easy, one was probably being introduced in showrooms across the country the day I was born, and during our growing up years the Sheffield family, second door down, had one, a light blue Dodge sedan. Theirs was a 1937, but the one sent me for a puzzle was a 1936 like so: 

    My memory of that car is the running boards, that when Mrs. Sheffield arrived home from wherever, she would always stop at the bottom of the driveway, and the five of us, Walt, Bill, Jimmy, Charles and I would run to the car, step on the running board, and hold on for dear life as she sped up the driveway. That’s likely too long ago for the others to remember, and Bill’s long dead. The last time we did it I hopped off a moment too early and the right rear tire rolled over my foot. Thereafter my mother forbade the activity. Mothers do the strangest things to boys.

    Another of the four cars was as easy because it also was a Dodge, identifiable by the hood ornament, and there was one similar at an online web site, a 1934 Dodge business coupe. Notice the forward opening front doors that were all the fashion for several years in the early to middle thirties. This particular car, the above web picture, is really beautiful, at least in the eye of this beholder. Maybe because it's my favorite color.
    The third one required a bit of chasing. Starting with the radiator with a distinctive line at the top of the chrome radiator shell, and the radiator emblem with a distinctive shape. Couldn’t get close and clear enough to read it, but the shape was a giveaway, though requiring a quick online search of old car radiator emblems. Then finding one like if for sale on eBay was the clincher, a 1930 Reo Flying Cloud:

    The photos my friend sent are private, so what’s shared here are the online shots that helped me make the ID.
    The fourth car is a brass era touring car with carbide headlamps. It has a front license plate dated 1910, so that’s a hint. And there are a couple of special features about the brass radiator shell. But it has me puzzled and still working.
    Time to stop and do that last minute work on my sermon for this morning. See you at church and Sunday school.

    Saturday, March 17, 2012

    Sabbath: Shalom

    Many folks like to sleep late on Saturday. Sabbath, it’s a day to be easy and not so somber, take life and oneself not so seriously. Karzai, Bales and Rutgers do stretch that possibility this morning. So does an NYT discussion of charter schools damaging NYC public schools, topic that rings bells a thousand miles south. Other hand: San Francisco Bay coffee for K-cups, Fog Chaser blend, different design, much cheaper, worth a try.
    Scary reading from the book of Numbers for tomorrow, “Moses and the Fiery Serpents.” Wring even a Lenten sermon out of that. And a children’s time chat. 
    PCNH reports this morning that Covenant Hospice will have a 15-bed residential hospice at BayMed, good news for Panama City. August 2001 Linda’s mother was stricken while we were in Tallahassee and when we were given a grim prognosis in the ER we were able to move her to a residential hospice there in town. A lovely, peaceful place and an incredible blessing.
    On the home front, yesterday the raccoon trap caught a possum, who was set free. If we do finally get the raccoon though, he’s coming to your neighborhood to be released. Probably in your yard.

    Friday, March 16, 2012


    The recent raccoon invasion of our attic, and ejection and discouragement measures include a radio in the attic, tuned to the world’s most obnoxius rock and big mouth talk station, top volume. It’s muffled in our second-floor bedroom, but audible anyway. So we’ve been sleeping downstairs in Joe’s room. Which has the most comfortable beds in the house. And being in the center of the long, sprawling structure, it’s away from noise. A result has been longer sleeping hours, this morning not waking up until six o’clock. Last time that happened? Maybe ten years ago.
    Otherwise, routine goes on, brew coffee, check email first thing. At this moment, Joe is at his office in Winston-Salem, enjoying a Chik-fil-a spicy chicken biscuit and cafe-du-monde coffee. Rowan Williams has accepted appointment as Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge University, and will be stepping down as Archbishop of Canterbury the end of December. He has done admirably in a stressful decade for the Anglican Communion, though it seems to me that other Anglican provinces are slowly beginning to take a yawn and nap attitude toward what nine years ago seemed like the extreme brassiness of the American church. NYT and TWP headlines, US and Afghan relations worsening. Speaking of brassiness, in myucomics, Garry Trudeau has been up to his spot-on political satire this week, so much so that some newspapers around the country have been running a substitute Doonesbury strip that Garry apparently drew “just in case” for the weak of heart. Here’s today’s strip.

    TGIF? Not for me. Since ordination nearly thirty years ago it’s been TGIM. Friday just means the pulpit looms large, get busy thinking and writing.
    Pax anyway.

    Thursday, March 15, 2012

    Ford Family of Fine Cars in the Forties

    Panama City is defined in my heart by how it was when I was a boy. When I was a boy, Harrison Avenue ended at the Tally Ho and 15th Street was unpaved ruts out in the boonies. When I was a boy, you could get stuck in the sandy mess that was 11th Street. When I was a boy, West Beach Drive in front of my house was two ruts running through the lower part of the front yard, not only no pavement, not even a road yet, just the two light ruts through the Bermuda grass. My father’s older sisters remembered the nineteen-teens, before even the ruts, that there was no road, but a boardwalk along Bayview Avenue (as it was named then), starting east of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, running west in front of the houses, down and round into St. Andrews and north as far as I’m not sure where.
    When I was a boy, that long stretched out now pink building, southeast corner Harrison Avenue and Fourth Street, was Cook Ford, the Ford dealership. Seems to me the service entry on the back side of the building had this sign on it. 

    My freshman year at Bay High there was a “student work day” with the merchants down town paying the school a small donation for a student to come work for a day. My assignment was to Cook Ford, and taking it very seriously, my expectation was to be put to work in the showroom as a salesman! Or at least trained for that! But they had forgotten all about it and, surprised when I walked in that morning, gave me a stack of leaflets to hand out to people as they walked by on the sidewalk. My introduction to the car business was a career ending disappointment! 
    Some merchants don’t take kids seriously when they come in the store, being too shortsighted to visualize that someday that obnoxious boy will grow up and, with a good memory, shop here. Or, with an unpleasant memory, shop elsewhere. Same with noisy kids in church. The more kids the happier. They’re noisy? It’s the best part of the worship service. A crying baby is better than a sermon any Sunday morning, and that ain't no bull.
    Ford was not an especially nice word in our family when I was a small boy. When my grandparents moved away from Panama City in 1920, running from the grief of having lost their son Alfred, drowned in the wreck of a fishing schooner in January 1918, they went to Ocilla, Georgia, where Pop was the Ford dealer for several years. It was the age of the Model T, and my father told me the new Fords arrived in town by freight train, in a box car, “knocked down” - meaning they were not fully assembled. Eleven, twelve, thirteen years old by then, he was sent to the train depot with the necessary tools to put on the tires, bolt on the fenders, running boards, windshields and whatever, and drive them the few blocks to their Ford garage. 

    Ford Motor Company was a bully in those days, never above treating dealers shabby and highhanded. One day a freight car arrived in the tiny town of Ocilla, Georgia with a full inventory of Lincoln parts. There wasn’t a Lincoln automobile within forty miles, and so Pop refused the shipment and sent it back to Detroit, saying he would never have use for Lincoln parts. One day soon after that, representatives of Ford Motor Company drove up to his Ford garage in a disabled Lincoln that needed just the parts in the shipment he had refused. Don’t remember whether the end of the story, which I’ve told here before, was that he lost his dealership franchise over that, or he threw up his hands and the family moved on. Whatever it was, he was left with a bitter dislike for Ford. These things can carry down for generations just like hatred of Yankees. And so, Pop and my father drove Chevrolet cars and trucks only for many years. 
    Nevertheless, when the dazzling new 1949 Ford arrived in showrooms, late 1948, Pop took me down to Cook Ford to have a look, and I got a 1949 Ford brochure, which doubtless is among the treasure of old car folders in my trunk upstairs. The difference in the pre-war 1941-48 tudor and the ultramodern 1949 tudor was stunning:

    My own first recollection of Ford cars is our next door neighbors’ 1940 Ford DeLuxe V8 tudor sedan, which they drove through the war years and beyond. That car was traded for a new 1949 Ford fordor sedan. Only FoMoCo spelled it tudor and fordor.

    Early forties Fords are somewhat classics today. Each year model was noticeably different, a marketing strategy. The 1940 was distinctive:

    Some will remember the classy chevron taillights:

    The 1941 Ford was different, new body style:

    The 1942 year model Fords were only produced and sold a short time because WorldWarII broke out and automobile production was converted to war production:

    So there were a few 1942 Fords, but no 1943, 1944 or 1945 Fords at all. The 1946 Ford was the prewar Ford with a different grill treatment, which stayed in production for 1946. Notice the open cowl vent on the '46 convertible. No air conditioned cars in those days.

    1947 and ’48 had slight grille, parking light and chrome strip changes from 1946 that only a certified car lunatic can distinguish today; 

    although anyone who looks closely may spot the differences. 

    Parking lights location. Ford emblem. And the 47-48 had different chrome stripping on the trunk lid. These things are important, undoubtedly will be on the exam St. Peter gives in deciding who gets in and who gets the trap door treatment. All I'm saying is you'd better be able to identify the different year models by the Ford pics that Pete flashes when you show up at the Pearly Gates.

    Those model year Fords were favorites for enthusiasts to chop and channel and do custom paint jobs:

    The pre-war cars went out of production with the 1948 model year, and the 1949 Ford was a totally streamlined beauty with no fenders; and the "suicide doors" were gone:

    Our neighbor’s mother had a red 1949 Ford convertible that became Bill’s after his mother died when we were in high school. One of my great memories is of the summer Bill went off to visit his aunt and cousin in St. Paul, Minnesota and left the Ford convertible in my sole care:

    SHMG, I have no idea. In the middle of the "bomb" in the center of the grill was a "6" or an "8" that told whether the car had a six or V8 engine.

    Ford woody station wagons were classy cars, but through 1948 they had the old fabric tops. A 1946 model, and a 1947-48 model are below. Check out the difference: parking light, Ford emblem:

    With the 1949 model and for the next few years, Ford station wagons were two door cars, quite stylish, and finally a steel roof instead of fabric:

    This would have been the forerunner of the Ford Country Squire wagons with fiberglass and decal trim that were America's most popular station wagon for many years. The final model Country Squire was a 1991, because minivans had replaced station wagons as people and stuff haulers; and the Ford Taurus, a new and modern size, style and design, had become the rage. This is a 1959 Country Squire:

    There was also a Ford Sportsman convertible offered for 1946 and 1947-48:

    Linda and I had several Fords during our years. Our first brand new car was a 1958 Ford Custom 300 tudor sedan, two-tone white and blue.

    After that we didn’t have Fords for years until 1969, living in Newport, Rhode Island, we bought a Ford Thunderbird, one of the four door sedan models with suicide doors that Ford offered for a few years: 

    In 1984 we moved to Apalachicola, where the Ford dealer was a parishioner and good friend. This made for many years of visiting and shopping and trading to the heart’s content.