Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Tuesday afternoon picture of a hurricane remnant centered on Pittsburgh, stretching from Bangor, Maine to Chicago, Illinois. Halloween morning stretching from east and north of Bangor to Minneapolis. Damage beyond incredible, flooding, and fires still raging. Hurricanes are supposed to be relatively small and die out quickly, what’s the deal, climate change or once a century storm? Don’t say climate change, it's politically incorrect. How can one be so stupid as to think climate change is political not scientific. Ushher's 4004 BC crowd. 

Bad news from all over: don’t climb trees in Brazil, and this is just one of sixteen species waiting

Before WWII my father was in the fish business like his father before him. An early memory is of watching as the brand new 1941 Chevrolet truck parked in our back yard just outside the dining room windows, was driven off by whoever bought it from my father, who was going into the maritime service for the duration. 

It was not a pickup and it certaintly did not have WSW, but a ton-and-a-half long wheelbase chassis ready for construction and installation of an insulated room-size box-body for hauling fish. Before refrigerated vehicles, the cooling was by ice. Anyway, the styling was like the picture above, and it was just this color. My brother and sister are too young to remember that truck tucked away in my brain and watching sadly as it was driven away. 

What got me here this morning is not Hurricane Sandy but the truck and the spider. After WWII my father had a fishhouse on 12th Street in St. Andrews, across the dirt street from the inlet and beach that is now Shrimp Boat restaurant and yacht basin. With a fishhouse you have fish. With fish you have flies. With flies you have spiders.

Big ones. Not tarantula enormous, but big enough. Spiders everywhere.

And my father was not in favor of killing spiders, as they kill and eat insects.

Working around a fishhouse, as I did from age nine forward, you wore knee-high rubber boots because everything was constantly being washed down for cleanliness, hygiene. One knee-high rubber boot makes a perfect lair for one enormous spider, waiting for a fly or for a boy's toes. 

Two boots, two spiders.

One learned early on to knock out one’s boots before putting them on, because without exception a large arachnid has taken refuge there. 

And to check the inside, outside and sleeves of any jacket.

Growing up working around a fishhouse was interesting, educational. Often fun: one starts driving by learning to drive large trucks. But one can acquire an aversion to the wildlife.


Tuesday, October 30, 2012



Sunday mornings, or any morning when my plan of the day requires stamina or the use of my diminishing brainpower, my breakfast focuses on protein. Salmon, chicken, beef or pork, often my Sunday breakfast is an omelet that combines two eggs with one of those other proteins and maybe a bit of forbidden cheese. This morning's omelet, eggs, chicken, cheese, shake of parmesan, half cup of GiaDa's marinara tomato sauce with artichokes, yum. And Dr. Oz or somebody said Sribacha hot sauce kicks up the metabolism, so a teaspoon of that so I don't fall asleep during my "lecture" (or sermon) a la the shaggy professor on Rowan and Martin's Laugh In a generation or two ago. Who was it? Didn't he also play the stupid Nazi soldier? 

Late this morning. Up early today, my time was used not dreaming up and writing my usual Nonsense, but checking on a parishioner who had surgery last night into the wee hours, then preparing for our Bible Seminar this morning and again tomorrow afternoon. We will be discovering and discussing the Secret Gospel of Mark, evidence of it first discovered in 1958 by a scholar named Morton Smith, in archives that he was exploring, of a monastery in the middle east, a letter fragment attributed to Clement of Alexandria. In it Clement talks about SGM and quotes two sections that apparently were, perhaps originally, included in the Gospel according to Mark but later were taken out for whatever reasons, some obvious according to what one infers, some far more subtle. If we were doing astronomy instead of historical criticism we might say, "Oh, so that's why the star is wobbling," but we aren't doing astronomy; but we can speculate with SGM about the three strange young men in Mark -- the rich man who went away sorrowful, the young man in Gethsemane who ran off naked, the young man in Jesus' tomb wearing a linen cloth; and about why canonical Mark has Jesus rushing through Jericho so quickly and apparently meaninglessly, and also introduces Salome; and even raises a gnostic issue. Plus, similarities in John's gospel about -- Lazarus, the disciple Jesus loved, and perhaps the "other disciple" who went into the courtyard with Peter before Peter's denial, who was known by the high priest. 

It should be an interesting discussion this morning and tomorrow afternoon. If it's interesting enough but doesn't stir up too much controversy, I may take it to the folks in my Sunday school class this week. Or maybe not.


Monday, October 29, 2012

Forty Ford Not Forgot

Forty Ford Not Forgot

Joe knows I love cars, especially old cars, most especially cars that were on the road from the mid-1930s up through the late-1940s, when I was a boy. 

When Joe sees an old car that he knows I would like he snaps and sends me pictures. Saturday mornings, he and a neighbor go out for breakfast, and this past Saturday he spotted a car he didn’t know but said, “My dad will know.”

Any car nut my age will go off nostalgic at a forty Ford with chevron taillights, 

especially a forty Ford tudor, especially a forty Ford Standard tudor, arguably one of the most desirable Ford collectibles of all time. Though most collectors prefer coupes, and most collectors may prefer the forty Ford Deluxe coupe, the Standard has more classic styling. 

Ford has licensed and authorized the building and sale of brand new forty Ford Deluxe coupe bodies through Ford Restoration Hardware:

Late 1939 or early 1940 our next door neighbors Bill and Mary Guy brought home a brand new forty Ford that they drove all through the decade of the forties, a maroon forty Ford Deluxe tudor.

They had that car through WW2 then had a 1946 Ford up until the day Mr. Guy drove home in a new 1949 Ford Custom fordor. When he insisted the car was his, Mary Guy bought a new 1949 Ford convertible. She died of a heart attack at age 39 not long after that, and Mr. Guy kept the convertible. It became Bill, Jr.’s car when we were in high school and college, and was mine to drive the 1955 or '56 summer he visited his aunt Maggie, uncle Chuck and cousin Pat in St. Paul, Minnesota. 
But this is about the forty Ford. 

Continuing Ford (and GM) practice of the era, there was a forty Ford Standard 

and a forty Ford Deluxe 

and the differences were not just in trim. Not to wander too far again, but the Standard/Deluxe offering is best illustrated by the 1935 Chevrolet, which came in a Standard and a Master. The ’35 Chevrolet Standard was the same old-style design as the 1934 Chevrolet, 

having some wooden body parts including roof slats covered with a fabric insert roof that eventually rotted out and leaked, a curse of all cars before the mid-1930s, and a flat one-piece windshield.

The 1935 Chevrolet Master was no simple update but a completely new, longer and streamlined all steel design featuring GM’s “turret top” and front-opening front doors, a new two-piece slanted windshield, low instead of top wipers, as well as underneath design features such as (as I recall but will not verify this early morning) hydraulic brakes that the Standard lacked. 

Just so, the 1940 Ford Standard was a continuation of the 1939 Ford:

but with a different headlamp treatment, low instead of high wipers, and chevron taillamps:

The pics Joe sent are my favorite, forty Ford Standard tudor. Though my favorites also include the 1938 Ford styling,

Can't decide.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Not for the Faint of Heart

Not for the Faint of Heart
Some folks are tired of the political campaign. Not bothering us, we mute the commercials and voted Saturday. Saturday: a day for remembering why heart patients should not watch Gator football. SEC East standings this predawn morning still show Florida above Georgia, which is ridiculous after yesterday. 
Gamecocks game tense all the way through to the pass interception grand finale, or was it a fumble, it looked like a snatch, great ending play, good score. Terrific game sadly dampened by Lattimore’s injury which may end his NFL prospects. Vince Dooley’s son Derek, Atty at Law, may be returning to the courtroom, eh?
Need to change the subject completely.
FLORIDA 2013 Schedule
Sept. 28 at Kentucky
Oct. 12 at LSU
Oct. 19 at Missouri
Nov. 2 vs. Georgia (Jacksonville)
Nov. 16 at South Carolina

Sunday school this morning: one last swing through the Gospel according to Mark. Sermon: the Gospel according to Job. Midweek Bible seminars: the Secret Gospel of Mark.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Yellow Butterflies

Outside the back door, yellow butterflies are fluttering around Patty's Garden. They remind me of Ilse. A bright and cheerful member of our choir, Ilse Newell died of self-inflicted gunshot a Sunday morning, September 1985. We had been in Apalachicola a year, and the men of the church were having our first fish fry. The day before, a couple of them had been out in the bay with cast nets, then a bunch of us gathered in a fishhouse down on the river and cleaned mullet. 

After church I went outside to where the mullet were being fried and immediately Linda called me to the phone. George Chapel was calling from Ilse’s house across the bridge and turn right, on Magnolia Bluff overlooking the river and bay. Ilse is dead, he said. She hadn’t been in choir for church and he had driven over to check on her. I missed the fish fry. Ilse was lying face down in the yard. The sheriff arrived a minute or two after me. 

It was yellow butterfly season. All that afternoon butterflies fluttered round the yard, landing on Ilse’s red hair then flitting away. It was my homily at her funeral: yellow butterflies on Ilse’s beautiful red hair.

Only that and nothing else comes to mind this time of year with the yellow butterflies.

Butterflies are a sign of the Resurrection. That comes to mind more so in the autumn than at Easter. Because of Ilse.

September 1985 was my 50th birthday. At 77, I’m more than half again that age now. It was long ago. Before real personal computers, smart phones, the internet and Google. Googling “yellow butterflies” just now came up with The Butterfly Website. There are stories from people who have known the presence of a dead loved one as a butterfly flew by just when it mattered most, when someone was especially missed and a sign was desperately needed, and hope and joy came present, resurrection in a resurrection symbol. A butterfly. I see no reason in the world why it can’t be true, and every reason why it is true.

Yellow butterflies are like life, gone soon, their season over and done. They will be back.


Friday, October 26, 2012


ΚΑΤΑ ΜΑΡΚΟΝ 10:46-52 1881 Westcott-Hort NT (WHNU)

46 και ερχονται εις ιεριχω και εκπορευομενου αυτου απο ιεριχω και των μαθητων αυτου και οχλου ικανου ο υιος τιμαιου βαρτιμαιος τυφλος προσαιτης εκαθητο παρα την οδον
47 και ακουσας οτι ιησους ο ναζαρηνος εστιν ηρξατο κραζειν και λεγειν υιε δαυιδ ιησου ελεησον με
48 και επετιμων αυτω πολλοι ινα σιωπηση ο δε πολλω μαλλον εκραζεν υιε δαυιδ ελεησον με
49 και στας ο ιησους ειπεν φωνησατε αυτον και φωνουσιν τον τυφλον λεγοντες αυτω θαρσει εγειρε φωνει σε
50 ο δε αποβαλων το ιματιον αυτου αναπηδησας ηλθεν προς τον ιησουν
51 και αποκριθεις αυτω ο ιησους ειπεν τι σοι θελεις ποιησω ο δε τυφλος ειπεν αυτω ραββουνι ινα αναβλεψω
52 και ο ιησους ειπεν αυτω υπαγε η πιστις σου σεσωκεν σε και ευθυς ανεβλεψεν και ηκολουθει αυτω εν τη οδω
Mark 10:46-52 Young's Literal Translation (YLT)

46 And they come to Jericho, and as he is going forth from Jericho, with his disciples and a great multitude, a son of Timaeus -- Bartimaeus the blind -- was sitting beside the way begging,
47 and having heard that it is Jesus the Nazarene, he began to cry out, and to say, `The Son of David -- Jesus! deal kindly with me;'
48 and many were rebuking him, that he might keep silent, but the more abundantly he cried out, `Son of David, deal kindly with me.'
49 And Jesus having stood, he commanded him to be called, and they call the blind man, saying to him, `Take courage, rise, he doth call thee;'
50 and he, having cast away his garment, having risen, did come unto Jesus.
51 And answering, Jesus saith to him, `What wilt thou I may do to thee?' and the blind man said to him, `Rabboni, that I may see again;' [ραββουνι ινα αναβλεψω literally, rabbi, that again I will see]
52 and Jesus said to him, `Go, thy faith hath saved thee:' and immediately he saw again, and was following Jesus in the way.

In our gospel reading for Sunday, Jesus is still on his way from Galilee to Jerusalem, going through Jericho, conveniently on the way, a town to get a BigMac maybe, but Mark doesn’t indicate that Jesus stopped there, looks like he rushed straight through maybe.
This reading shows some of Mark’s writing characteristics, which I love to discover. There’s his “historical present” that can make a passage more dramatic as though the narrator is bringing the reader right into the scene (... they come to Jericho, and as he is going forth ...). There’s Mark’s obsessive use of και “and” to start almost every thought. And there’s that word ευθυς usually translated “immediately” or “straightaway” that gives a constant sense of urgency to Mark’s message. There’s the healing miracle because of Jesus’ compassion (as opposed to his use of “signs” in John to indicate who and what he is). There’s the title “Son of David,” and question, how Bartimaeus knew this about Jesus, and isn’t it messianic? How does a blind man know that about Jesus when all the "seeing" people around Jesus were so obtuse? (Get it, reader?!) There’s Jesus’ line, η πιστις σου σεσωκεν σε “the faith your has saved you” and the question, was Bartimaeus saved by faith alone, (which we can carry out theologically with Paul) or was he healed by Jesus’ presence and words and lovingkindness -- Jesus doesn’t touch Bartimaeus here or smear mud on his eyes as in another case -- if Jesus doesn’t need to touch, why can’t my faith cure my ills, what was so special about blind Bartimaeus?
The most enjoyable thing I do these days is Bible study in groups, enormous fun. Some flak comes my way from time to time because my Bible studies are never devotional as popular Episcopal teacher Verna Dozier offered (and her style is still popular), but always the historical criticism method that I discovered in seminary and enjoy in all my personal study since then, and love sharing with interested folks. Someone told me that my style lacks the presence of God that one could know in devotional study; but everyone is different and I totally disagree! Jesus promised that when two or three are gathered in his name, he is in the midst of us, and for me, God comes present palpably, tangibly everytime we convene a group Bible study with prayer. This was pointed out to us as the case in our seminary classes, and I've always found it so. Bible study does not need to be devotional style -- which in fact I do not enjoy at all and find rather more pietistic than I like -- But the fact of the study is itself a powerful spiritual event. That a group enjoys gathering in God's name, praying, studying together enthusiastically (which means literally “filled with God”), asking questions, discovering what was going on for a gospel writer, why he wrote, what he seems to have meant, his special agenda, little nuances such as how his autograph may have been changed in later generations and why, theological implications and the church’s influence on the author’s text as finally canonized, often laughing together, is itself the presence of the Holy Spirit. 

So, I make no apologies, although being in charge of adult Christian education for HNEC I may need to rethink this and come up with alternatives for folks who prefer a devotional approach. Maybe a team teaching arrangement with alternating teaching styles.

Anyway, there you go. I’m outta here, it's getting late.

P.S. Sorry I forgot to include the CVN picture yesterday, scroll down, this is POWER!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Right On!

Part of Me!

Some will remember. In the old days when cigarette smoking was general, as soon as a Navy ship left port and reached the three-mile-limit a bosun's pipe would shrill and an announcement would be passed over the 1MC, “Now, sea stores, sea stores, the ship’s store is open for sale of sea stores cigarettes.” They were a dollar a carton, available without paying taxes and tariffs. And when there was a break in a day’s work routine, at sea or ashore, the supervising petty officer would say, “Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em.”

These great “posters” are pseudo, spoofs. One I’ve shared here before as a blog post.

The naval service has changed since my days, but the organizations I still admire most after more than a half century as a naval officer are the Navy SEALS 

and the submariners. 

But the guys in naval aviation, both Navy and Marine Corps were the most laid back and the most fun to work with.

Commander, U. S. Navy (Retired)

Thanks, Bonnie!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wanting What You're Going to Get Anyway

Proper 25    The Sunday closest to October 26
Almighty and everlasting God, increase in us the gifts of
faith, hope, and charity; and, that we may obtain what you
promise, make us love what you command; through Jesus
Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy
Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
This collect for next Sunday always reminds me of the time fifty-four years ago when Navy officers in my graduating class were speaking to the “detailer” about what kind of an assignment we wanted. The “detailer” being the officer from Washington who did our “detailing,” made our assignments. A few shore assignments were available, plus a tender homeported in Villafranche. Most of us would be going to sea duty, either destroyers, cruisers, aircraft carriers, or tenders (large ships that do maintenance on destroyers or submarines, and that stay tied up to the pier most of the time).
One member of my class, an ensign my age, about 22, was newly married and did not want to go to sea, and if he had to go to sea he wanted a large ship, not a destroyer. On his preference for duty card, then, he had written his three choices. 
1. Any shore duty 
2.  AD or AS
3. CVA
AD and AS were destroyer tenders and submarine tenders, a CVA an aircraft carrier. When the detailer arrived from Washington to discuss our assignments, each of us had a five-minute appointment to speak with him. Weller here, wanting the most career enhancing assignment and seeing the handwriting on the wall anyway, requested 
DD Newport
DD Mayport
DD Norfolk
destroyer homeported in Newport, Rhode Island, Mayport, Florida or Norfolk, Virginia. It was easy for the detailer: USS CORRY DDR-817, NORVA, 

my most fun tour of duty in twenty years, 

the one that made me decide to augment from USNR to USN, and the assignment that gained me a below-the-zone promotion to 0-3, the only one I ever heard of. Beep beep.
But the newlywed officer who did not want to go to sea was not so -- fortunate. The detailer took his preference for duty card and looked at it. After staring at it for a moment, he said, “Why don’t you request a destroyer so you get what you asked for?”
He got a San Diego destroyer. It was pretty clear to all of us from then on, that the preference for duty card was more for us than it was for the detailer. 
The Sunday collect’s petition, “and, that we may obtain what you promise, make us love what you command,” always brings that to mind. The theology that comes to me is that I’m going to get what God commands anyway, so might as well want it. As a matter of fact, it ties in to my midlife career change and the day after years of internal and external -- harassment -- I was called to my rector’s office in Harrisburg to hear him ask, “How much longer are you going to ignore God’s call on your life?” And my answer, “Oh, what the hell, I give up.” To which he picked up the phone and called the bishop and I was on my way to seminary.
A warrant officer got the AD in Villefranche.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Not Getting an Amen

Can I Get an Amen?

A friend sent me the picture recently, saying the squirrel reminded her of childhood years attending a church with her grandmother, and the preacher up front shouting, “Can I get an Amen?”
Not many Amens shouted in Episcopal worship these days, although the church means for the Great Amen that concludes the Eucharistic Prayer to be enthusiastic and vigorous: AMEN
Not many hands in the air either. 

When Episcopalians go to seminary, where we go and what we study is decided by the bishop who is sponsoring us (this is the Episcopal Church, and episcopal means governed by bishops, so most of us are not loose cannons). As a kindness to me because it was close to our home in Harrisburg and I could commute and would not have to move my family, my bishop (Diocese of Central Pennsylvania) sent me to the Lutheran Theological Seminary, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. But he specified that I must take certain courses at the Episcopal Theological Seminary in Alexandria, Virginia (commonly called VTS); and my final semester of seminary was in residence there, with a room in a residence hall, and commuting weekends between Harrisburg and Alexandria. 

While at VTS, I found out that Truro Parish in nearby Fairfax, a quiet, rustic small town church where Linda and I had been members nearly twenty years earlier, had since under a new rector (John Howe, who later became a bishop here in Florida) become a hotbed of renewal, and that they had a Prayer & Praise Service every Friday evening. Intrigued, I determined to go and did so once, to my -- then -- horror. It was standing room only. There was a loud band up front, some 800 Episcopalians and others crowded into that large church singing and shouting, hands in the air, “words of knowledge” bursting spontaneously from one or another member of the congregation “speaking in tongues” followed by someone across the room standing up and rendering with the gift “interpretation of tongues” (1 Corinthians 12:10). 
Ordained before graduating seminary, I was a deacon at the time, a staid liturgical traditionalist, and when my bishop found out that I was appalled by the antics of the renewal movement, he insisted I become more rounded by attending the upcoming Episcopal Renewal Conference at Ridgecrest, NC, summer 1983. It was so transforming that my conservative rector accused me of coming back a holy-roller.
In the months after that, using a program I brought back from the Episcopal Renewal Conference at Ridgecrest, I introduced “Shepherd Groups” at our church in Pennsylvania. It was quite successful while we were there. Every member of our large parish was assigned to a neighborhood “Shepherd Group” of six to eight people, that met in the "Shepherds'" homes for sixty minutes each Monday evening with Bible study guidelines that I prepared and distributed to the “Shepherds” who were the group leaders. We had about fifty "Shepherd Groups" as I recall, and I stayed at home by the telephone to take calls or questions during the Bible studies. Every Tuesday morning I met with all the Shepherds for Eucharist in the sanctuary -- pouring wine that I purchased at a winery here in the Florida panhandle while teaching my two defense acquisition management courses at the University of North Florida to take back to Harrisburg just for this -- then after Eucharist I cooked bacon and omelets for them in the church kitchen and each Shepherd Group leader briefed on how their Monday evening groups had gone. After we left and moved to Florida, the program died out for lack of leadership; but it worked beautifully while we were still at that parish; including that members of Shepherd Groups often sat together for worship on Sunday mornings: this was especially good for incorporating new members into the life of the parish. It was a lot of work, but enormous fun, and great fellowship. At churches we have served since then, I have discussed the idea of Shepherd Groups as a way of building up the body of Christ, and been met with blank stares. 
Holy Nativity has programs and small groups gazoo, several things for everyone, and does not need Shepherd Groups. However, struggling small Episcopal parishes, including some in Bay County, could find shepherd groups a marvelous way to spread the gospel while building a church. A key problem is, it takes strong leadership, loving dedication and serious commitment, and most folks are too busy with life to be bothered doing anything spiritual and religious during the week, much less organizing and leading and guiding to success, and sticking with it.
Besides, to raise the curtain of honesty, most folks are satisfied with their little churches, love the smallness and intimacy, and prefer to keep them just as they are. For all the lip service about church growth, most folks really don’t want to grow or change, and resist change -- because it's a lot of trouble and because "change" challenges and threatens many things and people and positions and ministries within a parish. This makes “church growth” just a phrase for the members to say to each other and something to assure the bishop that there is a Church Growth Committee. But the bishop is never fooled. 
In stewardship season, nothing could be more powerful than a parish decision to commit to small groups and get it moving. But it would be a tremendous nuisance and bother compared to simply asking for pledge cards to be turned in. 

Can I get an Amen?
No? Ah, well.
Thanks, Missie, I love the pic!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Come Build a Church

Proper 24    The Sunday closest to October 19
Almighty and everlasting God, in Christ you have revealed
your glory among the nations: Preserve the works of your
mercy, that your Church throughout the world may
persevere with steadfast faith in the confession of your
Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns
with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Perhaps all prayer is good prayer, yet to me as celebrant our collect for yesterday felt and sounded like something plain vanilla being said because it was the place to say something. New to the 1979 edition of The Book of Common Prayer, it dates at least from the 8th century Gelasian Sacramentary (Book of Sacraments of the Church of Rome) according to Hatchett. 
My feeling about the collect instantly went away though as the choir of Grace Episcopal Church, PCB so beautifully sang their offertory anthem, Ken Medema’s, “Come Build a Church.” 
Come build a church with soul and spirit, come build a church of flesh and bone.
We need no tower rising skyward; no house of wood or glass or stone.
Come build a church with human frailty, come build a church of flesh and blood.
Jesus shall be its sure foundation. It shall be built by the hand of God. 
What would have made it perfect would have been singing “The Church’s One Foundation” as either the opening or closing hymn.
A dozen years ago the bishop asked me to come out of retirement and go to Grace Church to help them deal with a crisis, and then they called me to serve as Interim Rector for the nineteen months of their calming down and then search process. It was a spiritually rich time for me, which I enjoyed tremendously. So much so, that a bit later when the good folks at St. Thomas by the Sea, Laguna Beach asked me to come be their Vicar, and my family were encouraging me to stay home retired, I said that if serving at St. Thomas was just half as wonderful as Grace Church had been, I didn’t want to miss it. The nineteen months at Grace and five years at St. T were bright spots of my life.
My prayer this morning is that God will bring to pass yesterday’s collect and anthem at Grace Church.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

:- (

If international disputes could be played out and settled on the gridiron, the baseball diamond, the soccer pitch, the basketball court, what a happier world this could be. 
Even in the American autumn there are more important things in the world than football; but nothing is more important than love and friendship. A teacher at our school of whom I am very fond happens also to be the daughter of my all time favorite Florida football coach who raised Florida to national prominence and has helped burnish the SEC into the nation’s top football conference. While at Florida, Amy was even the Kappa Alpha Rose, our equivalent of the Sweetheart of Sigma Chi
Amy is so much a favorite that when the Gators play the Gamecocks I am truly torn. Yesterday as promised, I wore my Gamecocks cap all afternoon through the game, and the score, which I had hoped and anticipated would be touch and go, greatly saddened me rather than how I otherwise feel about a Gator victory. I will say, SC scored the first defensive two-point conversion I have ever seen.

Florida our alma mater, thy glorious name we praise. Florida and South Carolina and Michigan and PennState, and whoever is playing the Seminoles.
My guess this morning:
Kansas State
Notre Dame
LSU ...
... which if things continue, does not bode well for my hopes for a season in which the Gators do not face the Crimson Tide. One Florida loss should put the Tigers back in there against the Tide again though.
This morning I’m preaching at Grace Episcopal Church, Panama City Beach while Father Joe takes time off.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

... to annoy ...

adversus vermis
There was a time when it seemed to make little difference who was president, the incumbent just got jerked around by Congress. Disillusionment came when Reagan sent Marines to Lebanon in 1983 against the advice of his Secretary of Defense, and again when Bush launched the Iraq war against the advice of his Secretary of State and all norms of law, sense and decency. Worry now is Cold War mentality talk of Russia as the Threat, talk of softness toward China, a subtly developing capitalist nation and international factor where more Buicks are built than in America, and of longtime personal coziness with Bibi the manipulative saber rattler. 
The real and greatest Threat is religious fanaticism, much overt, more waiting to crawl out if its rock is kicked over.
Disillusionment is a good thing: nobody with good sense would wish to live with illusions. 
It makes all the difference in the world.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Jesus Was Adopted?

Jesus Was Adopted?
Hebrews 5:1-10
Every high priest chosen from among mortals is put in charge of things pertaining to God on their behalf, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2He is able to deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is subject to weakness; 3and because of this he must offer sacrifice for his own sins as well as for those of the people. 4And one does not presume to take this honour, but takes it only when called by God, just as Aaron was.
5 So also Christ did not glorify himself in becoming a high priest, but was appointed by the one who said to him,
‘You are my Son,
   today I have begotten you’;
6as he says also in another place,
‘You are a priest for ever,
   according to the order of Melchizedek.’
7 In the days of his flesh, Jesus* offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. 8Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; 9and having been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him, 10having been designated by God a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.
Interesting things to chase down in our second reading for Sunday. One is the phrase “You are my Son, today I have begotten you.” Where did that come from? It’s rather startling for anyone who enjoys celebrating Christmas and hearing the Nativity stories in Luke and Matthew about Jesus being the Son of God from his conception and birth. More, it’s quite shocking for anyone accustomed to saying the Nicene Creed most Sunday mornings, with its words,
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
    the only Son of God,
    eternally begotten of the Father,
    God from God, Light from Light,
    true God from true God,
    begotten, not made ...
with its high Christology lifted directly from the Prologue of the much later (perhaps 90-125 AD) Gospel according to John, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” (John 1:1,2). But the words in the Hebrews reading
‘You are my Son,
   today I have begotten you’
come directly from Psalm 2 and the older Gospel according to Luke, and at Acts 13:33. In some ancient manuscripts, the account of Jesus baptism at Luke chapter 3:21,22 reads, “Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Beloved Son, with you I am well pleased.’” Surprisingly, other ancient manuscripts read, “... And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Beloved Son, today I have begotten you.’” The difference is significant on several levels. One is a historical criticism issue of what the gospel writer (whom we call Luke) originally wrote and why we have two different versions. An answer would be that the more surprising version is Luke’s original, and that it was soon “corrected” to agree with Mark’s older (perhaps 70-72 AD) account, and to agree with the teaching of the Church, and also because it’s inconsistent with Luke’s own Nativity story. And then the question arises, whether the Nativity story itself was added later. It’s a thorny path.
In any event, the surprising version of Luke seems to be what was known to the writer of Hebrews, which may be dated about 80-90 AD. So, that tells that the surprising version was what was in circulation then (unless the author of Hebrews had access to an oral tradition about Jesus’ baptism), which may help date Luke as well. 
The statement, “You are my Beloved Son, this day I have begotten you,” is even more clearly adoptionist than the oldest gospel account of Jesus’ baptism at Mark chapter 1; and the Church made adoptionism (the view that Jesus was adopted as Son of God at his baptism) heresy even before it was settled once for all in the Nicene Creed (eternally begotten). Thus, the need for "correction."
Perhaps it all comes down to “what did the voice from heaven actually say?” and the answer to that is easy: It depends on whose story you are reading. And each story is different. In Mark and Luke the voice is speaking directly to Jesus, there’s no indication anyone else heard it. In Matthew the voice is spoken so that apparently everyone present heard it. Plus, the Luke story has these two different versions, one arguably original and the other arguably a “correction” for reasons of theology and consistency. The Gospel according to John doesn't discuss the baptism event at all, for reasons that any competent Sunday School discussion clarifies.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

"Go to Hell"

Go to Hell

Science News is that a planet has been detected orbiting Alpha Centauri B, a star nearest us. It’s about the size of earth, so the question stirs of colonizing it, but apparently it’s only four million miles from its sun, so would be too hot for comfort. Might in time be a good place for a penal colony though, just as Australia was first colonized as a hellish place to banish British criminals. At the sentencing hearing the judge will say, “Mr. Smith-Jones, go to Hell,” whereupon the convicted felon will be taken to the transporter room and zapped to an inferno four light years from earth. In due course S-J will find a suitable help meet; or he will fall into a deep sleep and when he awakens the judge will have sent him one. They will be fruitful and multiply, and the rest will be future.

All the steaks will be cooked well done in Hell, but will there be religion in Hell? If there are people, there will be religion. At EfM last night discussion was about Friedrich Schleiermacher, who during the Enlightenment defended Christianity from its scorners. In 1799 he wrote and published a series of essays, “On Religion: Speeches to Its Cultured Despisers,” in which he asserted that there is implanted in each of us a sense of the infinite. God is not something we make up because we need a higher power or an explanation for what we see around us, our being already has a sense of the Divine, ready and waiting to be argued about. So, in time there will be bishops, priests, deacons and laypersons in Hell, and churches.

In Hell, the bishops and theologians will devise a creed to prescribe what people must say they believe. Seeing that Schleiermacher thought that the notions of God settled as orthodoxy in the Nicene Creed are beyond human knowing, perhaps the new creed will be more reasonable and, in response to the Quinque Vult, the Divinity more comprehensible.

No doubt, there will be religious wars.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012


Traveling Mercies. My agony begins every time, the instant she drives away, heading back to college, and only ends five and a half hours later when the text comes, “I’m here.”

Wednesday. Things to do this morning. Later to the Wednesday afternoon Bible Seminar, which will be a diversion within Mark’s gospel for a slight change so things don’t become dull or too routine. This evening, Eucharist at EfM, for which my plan is something different, not to say weird. Eccentric perhaps, but not weird. Well, maybe a bit weird.

Glow. Autumn 1986 we had the sesquicentennial celebration of Trinity Church, Apalachicola, after which the -- glow -- held on for quite some time, almost a touchable presence. Autumn 2012, the 75th anniversary celebration of Cove School: the glow may last my lifetime! The first room on the right, front, was my first grade classroom the day after Labor Day 1941, maybe I’ll shake some holy water and swing an incense thurible in there one of these days! Come to think of it, maybe I'll do the whole building. The alma mater sense for Cove School is far, far stronger than for any school since, Bay High, University of Florida, University of Michigan, Naval War College, Lutheran Theological Seminary, Gettysburg. Can’t explain it, don't understand it, don't need to. 

Prayer this morning
For traveling mercies, 
thanks be to God. Amen.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Not Mark Twain

Not Mark Twain

This is Lectionary Year B, in which most of our gospel readings are from Mark. Each of the four Sundays of October we are reading from Mark chapter Ten, which tells what happens during Jesus’ journey from Galilee as He heads down toward Jerusalem. Mark mentions six things:
Jesus’ enemies try to trick him with a question about divorce.
Jesus receives little children and proclaims that the kingdom of God is like them. 
A wealthy man asks Jesus about gaining eternal life and is told that all he needs to do is give away everything and follow Jesus; the man finds this too hard to do, and Jesus says that it is very hard indeed for us to do this but it’s the only way. Ever mindful of themselves, the disciples point out that they have done it; to which Jesus responds that the first shall be last and the last shall be first.
Jesus tells his disciples that in Jerusalem he will be tormented and put to death, and that after three days he will rise again. Because this is a Lent or Holy Week theme, the lectionary doesn’t have us read it at this time.
James and John ask privately to sit on Jesus right and left hand in his glory. Jesus says he can’t promise that. The other ten disciples are angry with James and John. Jesus teaches that whoever wishes to be first must be slave of all, and that he himself came to give his life as a ransom for many (the NT Greek is πολλῶν which means “many”). It doesn’t say “all,” it says “many.”
Jesus and his disciples come to Jericho, where blind Bartimaeus asks to have his sight restored, and Jesus responds that his faith has made him well.  
During our Bible Seminars this morning and tomorrow afternoon, I think we will have a go at Mark Ten instead of picking up where we left off last week. All are invited, all are welcome. Be in my office at Holy Nativity NLT ten o’clock this morning; or be in Jewell Hall at St. Thomas by the Sea NLT one o’clock tomorrow afternoon. 
See you there!