Monday, April 30, 2012



During my years as chaplain at Holy Nativity Episcopal School we had Holy Communion at Middle School chapel on Wednesdays. Everyone present, every student, every faculty and staff member, every visiting parent was always invited and welcome to our Eucharist to Taste and See that the Lord is Good. The Hindu students always participated in our celebration and were as much part of our worshiping community as everyone else, enriching the spiritual life of our school. One of the Hindu students told me at the time that they like to mix and blend and take part in the culture around them, and welcome others to share in theirs.     
Last week, the Hindu Students Association at Kristen’s college invited other students to enjoy their celebration of the Holi festival of colors. They tossed colored powder and sprayed water, making the colors stick and run. This is my happy college girl at her multicultural school.


Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sunday Rambler

It’s early Sunday morning, but not all that early. Linda is still lying here asleep. It’s nice and cool, and tomorrow maybe the blog will be about our recent adventure. In the meantime, the New York Times is online for browsing. Washington Post isn’t online yet, their morning update is always later than the NYT. Haven’t checked CNN yet to see if anything happened overnight.
It was “Holi” this week, Festival of Colors, and at Kristen’s college the Hindu Student Association invited the entire student body to help them enjoy the festivities. Celebrants threw around colored powder, and they were spraying water so the powder would stick. She sent me pictures of multi-colored students, wet and happy. If she says it’s OK to share, I will post one.
Facebook comes to mind because there’s a friend request online this morning. The nicest people ask me to be Facebook friends, and also folks ask me to connect with them on LinkedIn. My habit is generally to accept, but Facebook has “improved” their site to the point that I no longer know how to navigate around it, so I never post, and only check it when notified that there’s something personal for me. As for LinkedIn, I accepted the first few invitations, but forgot to jot down my password and so can’t get on it any longer. No matter. The invitations are kind, but folks who invite me mustn’t be surprised and disappointed that they never hear from me again.
NYT Sunday Review is usually interesting, just so this morning. Couple of “right on” pieces. Like it or lump it, right on. Obsessions, especially in the name of the Church are very telling, very, very revealing. 
Vatican and bishops condemn nuns for feeding the poor instead of railing against contraception? Vatican and bishops condemn -- anybody? God help us -- please. My father liked to say something about people who live in glass houses throwing stones. 
Westboro Baptist Church hates gays? Now we understand, Pastor Fred Phelps. No, take out the comma.
Sunday Rambler. Speaking of which, we had two Rambler station wagons early in marriage. The second one was two-tone pink and had push-buttons on the dashboard for shifting the transmission. Our first air-conditioned car. 

Brought to us by my hero George Romney. Very  good car, a demo we bought at the Nash dealership in Jacksonville and took to Ann Arbor for my time at University of Michigan. Traded for a new 1963 Chevy station wagon to take to Japan. 

Linda’s awake and it's not so early anymore. Time for coffee.
BTW - ours was a couple years later Rambler Cross Country than that one above, but the same color. 

Saturday, April 28, 2012

I AM the Good Shepherd

John 10:11-18
King James Version (KJV)
 11I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. 12But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. 13The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.
 14I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. 15As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.
 17Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. 18No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.
Felix Just, SJ, has compiled a list of forty-five times in John’s gospel that Jesus says “I AM” (Greek, ego eimi) of himself. The relationship to YHWH (I AM), the Hebrew name for God, is no coincidence in John, the spiritual gospel that presents Jesus as God the Son. Nine of the sayings are absolute (e.g., 8:58, Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”). Sixteen are predicates giving various metaphorical images:
  • I AM the bread of life
  • I AM the light of the world
  • I AM the one bearing witness to myself ...
  • I AM from above
  • I AM the door of the sheep
  • I AM the good shepherd
  • I AM the resurrection and the life
  • I AM the way, and the truth, and the life
  • I AM the true vine
Our tradition on the Fourth Sunday of Easter is to hear Jesus name himself the good shepherd. Again, it is an assuring, comforting picture of our God and Savior, and of ourselves being cared for so lovingly. One of my favorite images is in the commendation prayer of the burial office, as we send ourselves off into the care of the Shepherd who claims us for all eternity:
Into thy hands, O merciful Savior, we commend thy servant
N. Acknowledge, we humbly beseech thee, a sheep of thine
own fold, a lamb of thine own flock, a sinner of thine own
redeeming. Receive him into the arms of thy mercy, into the
blessed rest of everlasting peace, and into the glorious
company of the saints in light. Amen.   

Friday, April 27, 2012

ens, garry & pat

ens -- an episcopal news service email for Thursday, April 26, 2012 discusses proposals that the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music will make to General Convention this summer. Among them, SCLM will propose that The Message and the Common English Bible be approved translations for use in worship. This may or may not happen, but going on the assumption that it will happen, this blog will use both variously from time to time, usually in comparison each time with the King James Version. Here are two settings of the Acts lesson for this coming Sunday:
Acts 4:5-12 King James Version (KJV)
 5And it came to pass on the morrow, that their rulers, and elders, and scribes, 6And Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem. 7And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?
 8Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, 9If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole; 10Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. 11This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. 12Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given  among men, whereby we must be saved.
 Acts 4:5-12 The Message (MSG)
 5-7The next day a meeting was called in Jerusalem. The rulers, religious leaders, religion scholars, Annas the Chief Priest, Caiaphas, John, Alexander—everybody who was anybody was there. They stood Peter and John in the middle of the room and grilled them: "Who put you in charge here? What business do you have doing this?"
 8-12With that, Peter, full of the Holy Spirit, let loose: "Rulers and leaders of the people, if we have been brought to trial today for helping a sick man, put under investigation regarding this healing, I'll be completely frank with you—we have nothing to hide. By the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the One you killed on a cross, the One God raised from the dead, by means of his name this man stands before you healthy and whole. Jesus is 'the stone you masons threw out, which is now the cornerstone.' Salvation comes no other way; no other name has been or will be given to us by which we can be saved, only this one."
The Message translation is often vigorous and enthusiastic in its presentation, even sometimes can be startling.

New subject but also vigorous and no holds barred was Garry Trudeau's comic strip Doonesbury for yesterday. 

And likewise Pat Oliphant for Wednesday.

No offense.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Not in word or tongue, but in deed and truth

1 John 3:16-24 (KJV)
 16Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his heart of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?
 18My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. 19And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. 20For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.
 21Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. 22And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.
 23And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. 24And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.
Over the centuries, many Christians, including Martin Luther, father of the 16th century Reformation, have taken issue with the Letter of James, even suggesting that it should not have been included in the New Testament canon. Luther called James "ein rechte stroern Epistel," “a right strawy epistle,” that lacks substance, contradicts Saint Paul’s theology of justification by grace through faith, and has no gospel character to it. With all reverence for my betters and superiors in the faith, that is nonsense and a narrow, impoverished understanding of faith. As James says, “even the devil believes -- and shudders.” Faith is a package comprising what we believe and what we do because of what we believe. Believing alone, as James says, is worthless.
This view is vigorously and pointedly ratified in this coming Sunday’s reading from First John. Let us not love only in what we say, but in what we do.  The word for love is agape and it is not a feeling, but what we do for other people. Our baptismal covenant, which should be our creedal reminder throughout the Easter Season, lays it out well for us in its two steps; first “Do you believe?” and then “Will you?”
A Christian is one who walks in The Way and ultimately looks down from the Cross.

Many thanks to special friends for locating Luther's quotation for me! The quotation is from his Introduction to his first edition of his German New Testament, 1522

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Good Shepherd Sunday

Good Shepherd Sunday
Fourth Sunday of Easter
O God, whose Son Jesus is the good shepherd of your people;
Grant that when we hear his voice we may know him who
calls us each by name, and follow where he leads; who, with
you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, for ever
and ever. Amen.
The Fourth Sunday of Easter is always Good Shepherd Sunday. We sing shepherd hymns, we hear Jesus describe himself as the good shepherd (John 10:11-18), we may say or sing the twenty-third psalm. 

Old timers who memorized the twenty-third psalm as children often have little patience with a modern translation of it, and even the children at Holy Nativity Episcopal School learn, a verse a week, the six verses of the King James Version. The contemporary version in the psalter of the 1979 American Book of Common Prayer has it

23  Dominus regit me

The Lord is my shepherd; *
    I shall not be in want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures *
    and leads me beside still waters.

He revives my soul *
    and guides me along right pathways for his Name's sake.

Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I shall fear no evil; *
    for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

You spread a table before me in the presence of those who trouble me;*
    you have anointed my head with oil,
    and my cup is running over.

Surely your goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,*
    and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

But the KJV is tucked away at page 476 ready for use if anyone doesn’t carry it around in their mind:

Psalm 23     King James Version

The LORD is my shepherd; *
    I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; *
    he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul; *
    he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his
                             Name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil; *
    for thou art with me;
    thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of
                             mine enemies; *
    thou annointest my head with oil;
    my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days
                             of my life, *
    and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
It’s a comfortable, soothing, assuring metaphor, Jesus the good shepherd, that calls to mind David the shepherd boy and king. And the traditional version is dear to many hearts.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


In our Bible Seminar this morning we plan to read through First John, non-stop as it would have been read or preached to the first hearers perhaps 90 to 120 A.D. As we read aloud, folks will circle things they want to discuss when the reading is finished. It is not unlikely that someone will circle the term “mortal sin,” which occurs several times in chapter 5, toward the end. In the Greek, the term reads literally “sins unto death” or “sins toward death”, which leaves no doubt the writer took it seriously. 
What might be “sin unto death” then? What might be such a sin, and what might the writer mean by “unto death”? The church at times, and Christians glancing at Dante’s Inferno, sometimes have fiery torment in mind. 
Perhaps there will be discussion of it in class this morning.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Dodge Dart

July 1966, heading home to the USA after three years in Japan, my thoughts were on car shopping. We had taken a new 1963 Chevrolet station wagon to Japan, but sold it to someone who wanted it and replaced it with two cars, a 1952 Chrysler Saratoga coupe bought for $100 from a civilian supervisor at my duty station; and a 1952 Cadillac series 62 sedan bought for another $100 from an Air Force officer who was PCSing back to the U.S.  Those two cars did the job for us, especially the Chrysler V8, which was ONE HOT CAR. 

One car in mind was a Mustang, the new little car Ford had put on the market while we were living overseas. 

But an aunt dashed that by writing with alarm that Mustang gas tanks were exploding and people burning to death, and that we should get a Dodge Dart. Without checking for false rumors, Mr. Safety dropped the pony car from the list and actually did end up with a 1966 Dodge Dart. Light blue coupe purchased on a “newspaper ad special” by Fairfax Dodge who had a couple dozen brand new ones in stock for $1,650. Stick shift, no air.

Almost from day one, the transmission on the Dart was quirky, hard to shift, grinding loudly when shifting into first gear. Back to the dealer several times, but they never got it corrected. Consequently, I sold it and bought a totally rebuilt VW from H. B. Lantzsch Volkswagen, for $695, turning my back on Chrysler products forever -- actually until years later when they came out with the first minivans in 1984 and the enticement of a new Plymouth Voyager was one of the things (a beach house was another) that helped persuade Linda to cooperate when we were choosing between a call to St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Mount Joy, Pennsylvania and the call to Trinity, Apalachicola. We did have two of the Chrysler minivans over the next few years, the Plymouth Voyager, and a Dodge Caravan that someone fleeing from the police totalled for me one night when I was driving to HNES school board meeting. But that’s a couple more blog postings. 
What brought all this to mind is this morning’s Automotive News email with a piece about the 2013 Dodge Dart. It looks really cool. 

But I’m sticking with the General.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


It was three years ago this morning, Sunday, April 19, 2009. Nearing the end of my five years as Vicar of St. Thomas by the Sea Episcopal Church, I left home early to drive the seventeen miles out to Laguna Beach. Linda stayed home because we were expecting the call from Joe. It came, "conveniently" of all things, between services, and Linda rang me to say, “Joe just called. Patty died twenty minutes ago.” Beloved daughter-in-law had finished life after an eight or nine year fight with breast cancer. The feeling was crushing. Just crushing.
In a telephone conversation a few months earlier, Patty had told me, “I’m so scared. And I'm so tired of putting on a happy face.” There was nothing I could do for her. She went on with life, “putting on a happy face,” as she said. 
Besides physical pain that can accompany some terminal illnesses, there may be anxiety, grief, fear, terror. Patty had at least some of that. What might have been done to help her mentally and emotionally when nothing more could be done physically? NYT yesterday had a relevant article, "How Psychedelic Drugs Can Help Patients Face Death". It was excellent and is tucked away in mind in case ever needed. That people abused psychedelic drugs doesn’t make them “bad” any more than the abuse of alcohol, or firearms, or automobiles or marijuana makes them “bad.” Tobacco? Not going there. Anyway, the link to that NYT piece.
We had expected to have one more Sunday at St. Thomas after that, but we left mid-week to drive to Dayton, Ohio, where the following Saturday I officiated Patty’s funeral at Lutheran Church of Our Savior. So, that Sunday that Patty died turned out to be our last at St. Thomas. For that day, choir director Norman Hair and organist Gordon Gaskin had put together, for me, a choir presentation of “Siyahamba, We are marching in the light of God.” It was beautifully done, and made the day, our last Sunday at St. Thomas, far more than special, very dear, and very memorable, sung as the offertory at the ten-thirty service less than an hour after Joe’s call.
Life never comes round again, does it! We loved you dearly, Patty. And Gordon. And Norman. Very, very dearly. Very dearly indeed. God rest ye.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Postcommunion Prayers

Almighty and everliving God, we most heartily thank thee
for that thou dost vouchsafe to feed us, in these holy mysteries, with the
spiritual food of the most precious Body and Blood of thy
Son our Savior Jesus Christ; and dost assure us thereby of
thy favor and goodness towards us; and that we are very
members incorporate in the mystical body of thy Son, the
blessed company of all faithful people; and are also heirs,
through hope, of thy everlasting kingdom. And we humbly
beseech thee, O heavenly Father, so to assist us with thy
grace, that we may continue in that holy fellowship, and do
all such good works as thou hast prepared for us to walk in;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom with thee and the
Holy Ghost, be all honor and glory, world without end.
Eternal God, heavenly Father,
you have graciously accepted us as living members
of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ,
and you have fed us with spiritual food
in the Sacrament of his Body and Blood.
Send us now into the world in peace,
and grant us strength and courage
to love and serve you
with gladness and singleness of heart;
through Christ our Lord. Amen.
God of abundance,
you have fed us
with the bread of life and cup of salvation;
you have united us
with Christ and one another;
and you have made us one
with all your people in heaven and on earth.
Now send us forth
in the power of your Spirit,
that we may proclaim your redeeming love to the world
and continue for ever
in the risen life of Christ our Savior. Amen.
In that lex orandi lex credendi, one may perceive the Eucharistic theology of the church moving from medieval focus on personal salvation through the sacrifice and consumption of Christ’s body and blood, to our being united with God and all persons through the sharing of the common meal. The first prayer above was essentially the same from its first English use in prayer books of the fifteen-hundreds. The second came in liturgical reforms of the early second half of the twentieth century. The third, the church gave us in Enriching Our Worship, authorized by General Convention 1997. It is a case and example of Tradition in transit with the spirituality of the people. Not revolutionary as we are experiencing with electronics, but nevertheless; and goodly so.
In the metaphor of theological reflection, one (well, OK, just me) may visualize parking one’s curved dash Oldsmobile and driving away in a new Chevrolet Volt. 

Realizing, of course, that in a few years it will be time to trade again. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Capitalize the Pronouns?

1 John 3:1-7 (KJV)
 1Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. 2Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. 3And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.
 4Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. 5And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. 6Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. 7Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.
There’s no accounting for where the mind wanders, especially in predawn when, truth be told, it should still be asleep anyway. What wandered into my mind this morning while reading the First John lesson for this Sunday was that verse 7b is ambiguous, depending on where the lector puts the inflections. “he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.” Does the second “he” refer to the same person as the first “he” or not?
Then it occurs to me that my problem is this habit of always starting with the King James Version; so what says the NRSV, from which the Sunday lector actually will be reading? 
1John 3:1-7 (NRSV)
1See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he* is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. 3And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.
4 Everyone who commits sin is guilty of lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5You know that he was revealed to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6No one who abides in him sins; no one who sins has either seen him or known him. 7Little children, let no one deceive you. Everyone who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. 
OK, a little clearer, not much. It would be clearer if the second “he” were capitalized, wouldn’t it. And there has been a cultural, or maybe pious habit among some folks, of capitalizing pronouns that refer to God or Jesus. Does any Bible translation follow that practice? Yep, the New American Standard Bible does:
1 John 3:1-7 (NASB)
 1 See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.
 4 Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. 7 Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous;

Much clearer, and piously, perhaps from childhood, capitalizing the pronouns appeals to me as properly respectful, reverent. How about another translation? How does the Good News Translation render it?
1 John 3:1-7 (GNT)
 1 See how much the Father has loved us! His love is so great that we are called God's children—and so, in fact, we are. This is why the world does not know us: it has not known God.2 My dear friends, we are now God's children, but it is not yet clear what we shall become. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he really is.3 Everyone who has this hope in Christ keeps himself pure, just as Christ is pure.
 4 Whoever sins is guilty of breaking God's law, because sin is a breaking of the law.5 You know that Christ appeared in order to take away sins, and that there is no sin in him.6 So everyone who lives in union with Christ does not continue to sin; but whoever continues to sin has never seen him or known him. 7 Let no one deceive you, my children! Whoever does what is right is righteous, just as Christ is righteous. 
Clearer still and in accordance with the “sense of it” translation style of the GNT over against the “literal word for word” translation style of the KJV and its successors. But how much liberty is taken with the original Greek? 
ΙΩΑΝΝΟΥ Α΄ 3 1881 Westcott-Hort New Testament (WHNU)
 1ιδετε ποταπην αγαπην δεδωκεν ημιν ο πατηρ ινα τεκνα θεου κληθωμεν και εσμεν δια τουτο ο κοσμος ου γινωσκει ημας οτι ουκ εγνω αυτον
    2αγαπητοι νυν τεκνα θεου εσμεν και ουπω εφανερωθη τι εσομεθα οιδαμεν οτι εαν φανερωθη ομοιοι αυτω εσομεθα οτι οψομεθα αυτον καθως εστιν
    3και πας ο εχων την ελπιδα ταυτην επ αυτω αγνιζει εαυτον καθως εκεινος αγνος εστιν
    4πας ο ποιων την αμαρτιαν και την ανομιαν ποιει και η αμαρτια εστιν η ανομια
    5και οιδατε οτι εκεινος εφανερωθη ινα τας αμαρτιας αρη και αμαρτια εν αυτω ουκ εστιν
    6πας ο εν αυτω μενων ουχ αμαρτανει πας ο αμαρτανων ουχ εωρακεν αυτον ουδε εγνωκεν αυτον
    7τεκνια μηδεις πλανατω υμας ο ποιων την δικαιοσυνην δικαιος εστιν καθως εκεινος δικαιος εστιν
Quite a bit, obviously; but the GNT is still good. Of the above English translations, however, the NASB is my preference -- the question being, “To capitalize pronouns that refer to God and Jesus, or not to capitalize?” Piety and reverence aside, to capitalize makes for less ambiguity.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Hardly. Not Hardly. Not Hardly Not.

Annoying? Not hardly.

CB, My Story: Retired Episcopal priest writing for mental therapy as part of recovery after open heart surgery at Cleveland Clinic, and as an early morning means to annoy self and others. Politics and the news this morning? No comment on Ann Romney never working a day in her life except to say the onliest reason Bubba had all those jobs over the years was to finance the home front. Onliest? Yep. What about our shibboleth “The Navy comes first”? Nope, not on my watch, family first and onliest. Clergy with parishioners in every camp best not comment on presidential politics, especially now the primary scumbags and intellectual vacuums are sidelined. Democrat in the day when our grandfathers remembered the carpetbaggers and all decisions were made in the Democratic primary, Republican until Reagan sent Marines to Lebanon. Now? Secret ballot. Zero comment on Zimmerman, but stand-your-ground was not to shield stalkers. Pentagon ignores crude photos until they appear in latimes, whereupon busily grimace, investigate, fingerpoint. No comment on Secret Service frolics in Colombia. Escort? The shaggy dog story ends, Just what do you think I am, mister? To which the client says, We already settled that. Now we’re negotiating price. For a quiet $800 some loud drunk could have kept his job and his housekey. And now, an officious, self-righteous congressional investigation of the human male on TDY. Did we think they were going to Bible study? Not hardly not. In its infinite wisdom Congress will restore the biblical system of protecting the monarch: eunuchs. A prestigious, highly selective, exclusivist, elite corps of eunuchs. Attractive, enticing and appealing Secret Service recruiting posters on college campuses across the land. 
Hefty enlistment bonus and thirty days last chance to squander it before reporting for duty. But no re-up cash next time, what would be the point? 
Today's political definition. 20th century conservative: someone who thought everybody should mind his own business. 21st century conservative: someone who makes it his business to find out what you bought at CVS -- and who paid for them. 
Latest outrage: ‘Hopefully’ springs eternal. If only Bubba would’ve paid more attention in grammar class instead of drawing pictures of cars. 
Destined to make the AP Stylebook next: 'not hardly'.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

No worries, mate

No worries, mate.
Psalm 4. Cum invocarem.
HEAR me when I call, O God of my righteousness: * thou hast set me at liberty when I was in trouble; have mercy upon me, and hearken unto my prayer.
2 O ye sons of men, how long will ye blaspheme mine honour, * and have such pleasure in vanity, and seek after falsehood? Selah
3 Know this also, that the LORD hath chosen to himself the man that is godly; * when I call upon the LORD he will hear me.
4 Stand in awe, and sin not; * commune with your own heart, and in your chamber, and be still. Selah
5 Offer the sacrifice of righteousness, * and put your trust in the LORD.
6 There be many that say, * Who will show us any good?
7 LORD, lift thou up* the light of thy countenance upon us.
8 Thou hast put gladness in my heart; * yea, more than when their corn and wine and oil increase.
9 I will lay me down in peace, and take my rest; * for it is thou, LORD, only, that makest me dwell in safety.
For the director of music: with stringed instruments. A psalm of David.
We can’t be sure what, but something is troubling the psalmist, whoever he/she is and whenever he/she wrote. Something offensive is going on. A personal lament, it’s not penitential but perhaps was originally an evening prayer in which the psalmist chides his adversaries before God and comes out feeling better, confident, peaceful.
That at some point it is a congregational hymn is evidenced by the fact that there are directions for the musician, and that “selah” appears after verses 2 and 4. (We don’t know what “selah” meant, but it may have been a musical cue).
The psalm is attributed to David, and may have concerned the time when he was in refuge from king Saul or later when he was fleeing from his son Absolom. 
For us, the psalm is a prayer, a song of glad confidence that no matter what is going on with us, God loves us, God is on our side. Of that we may be assured, and we can sleep peacefully tonight faithful that God is with us. 

P.S. Psalm 4, for Sunday, April 22, 2012, Third Sunday of Easter, Year B, Translation: Coverdale Psalter. Why this lament is appointed for a Sunday of Easter beats me. Maybe because it follows the Acts reading in which Peter and John are being abused. It cannot reasonably have been appointed because of the lame man they healed, because he isn't even in the appointed portion of the reading. Maybe we can figure it out in Sunday school.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Life Is Good and Everyday is a Beautiful Day. Especially birthdays. Birthdays present and birthdays in memories. 

Late Monday afternoon, wandering my yard, thankful for Bill. His life, his friendship, his being. His birthday. 
The pink rose is fragrant. There's just the one blossom. And that's the last branch of the English dogwood for this year.

The ragged cedar down front at the edge of the Bay is My Laughing Place. For remembering. Being thankful. 
Thankful for Bill. Bill and June.

Thank you, God. For a beautiful day. For life.
For a birthday.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Nobody's Perfect

Acts of the Apostles 3:12-19 
12When Peter saw it, he addressed the people, ‘You Israelites,* why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we had made him walk? 13The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our ancestors has glorified his servant* Jesus, whom you handed over and rejected in the presence of Pilate, though he had decided to release him. 14But you rejected the Holy and Righteous One and asked to have a murderer given to you, 15and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. 16And by faith in his name, his name itself has made this man strong, whom you see and know; and the faith that is through Jesus* has given him this perfect health in the presence of all of you.
17 ‘And now, friends,* I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. 18In this way God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, that his Messiah* would suffer. 19Repent therefore, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out,
Nobody is perfect, so though disclaiming the role or title of perfect malcontent, it still and always mystifies me why the worthy scholars who put the lectionary together for us insist on getting into the middle of something and quoting out of context as they did with our Acts reading for next Sunday, Easter 3 (above). The first thing that comes to mind is a rather nonplused -- “When Peter saw it,” -- when Peter saw what? What was it? Why did you start this lesson out in the middle of a story? And then, Lord help us, end it in the middle of a sentence? Yes, they actually ended it with a comma.
This lesson is from a story in the beginning of Luke’s second book “Acts of the Apostles.” Peter and John are going into the Jerusalem temple, when they come upon a lame beggar. He makes his living by being carried daily to the temple gate and set down there to beg. When Peter and John see the man, Peter tells him, “I have no money, but I will give you what I have,” and he takes the man by the arm, raises him up, and his lameness is healed. The man rejoices and enters the temple with them. Everyone who sees the formerly lame man walking is astonished. Peter then chides the crowd for having Jesus crucified, and reveals to them that they have executed God’s chosen one, the Messiah, who will come again; and that they must repent and be ready when that happens.
What the lectionary scholars think next Sunday’s preacher is supposed to do with the Acts 3:12-19 snippet out of context is beyond me; so I’m going with the lesson from First John, or maybe the post-resurrection appearance in Luke’s gospel. Meanwhile, Luke’s story from Acts chapter 3 is below, and it goes on over into chapter 4.
Acts 3. One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, at three o’clock in the afternoon. 2And a man lame from birth was being carried in. People would lay him daily at the gate of the temple called the Beautiful Gate so that he could ask for alms from those entering the temple. 3When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked them for alms. 4Peter looked intently at him, as did John, and said, ‘Look at us.’ 5And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. 6But Peter said, ‘I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth,* stand up and walk.’ 7And he took him by the right hand and raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. 8Jumping up, he stood and began to walk, and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. 9All the people saw him walking and praising God, 10and they recognized him as the one who used to sit and ask for alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
11 While he clung to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the portico called Solomon’s Portico, utterly astonished. 12When Peter saw it, he addressed the people, ‘You Israelites,* why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we had made him walk? 13The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our ancestors has glorified his servant* Jesus, whom you handed over and rejected in the presence of Pilate, though he had decided to release him. 14But you rejected the Holy and Righteous One and asked to have a murderer given to you, 15and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. 16And by faith in his name, his name itself has made this man strong, whom you see and know; and the faith that is through Jesus* has given him this perfect health in the presence of all of you.
17 ‘And now, friends,* I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. 18In this way God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, that his Messiah* would suffer. 19Repent therefore, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out, 20so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Messiah* appointed for you, that is, Jesus, 21who must remain in heaven until the time of universal restoration that God announced long ago through his holy prophets. 22Moses said, “The Lord your God will raise up for you from your own people* a prophet like me. You must listen to whatever he tells you. 23And it will be that everyone who does not listen to that prophet will be utterly rooted out from the people.” 24And all the prophets, as many as have spoken, from Samuel and those after him, also predicted these days. 25You are the descendants of the prophets and of the covenant that God gave to your ancestors, saying to Abraham, “And in your descendants all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” 26When God raised up his servant,* he sent him first to you, to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.’ (NRSV)