Wednesday, July 31, 2013


Sometimes there is no other way, but to begin writing a paragraph, or even a sentence, with the word “I” should be avoided when possible. Being a mental drone, I have to keep this in whatever is left of mind. Though likely unconscious, when done repeatedly, starting with "I" is a self-diminishing practice and unfortunate style that turns on a light shading what one says as egocentric drivel. It marks one as childish and ignorant, not unlike indiscriminately sprinkling commas. Which reminds me that when my mother died I handed the undertaker an obituary to transmit to the newspaper. When it showed up on the newsstand and I discovered that it had been edited by an ignorant and uneducated Commacrazy, I resubmitted it with orders that it be reprinted and not one dot, jot, tittle or iota be touched, nor one comma added.

Interesting things open in daily email. NYT and Washington Post are never favorites, never. Necessary but not favored. Two favorites are a daily essay from delanceyplace and Anu Garg’s, especially the words. Every week Anu has a theme. This week it’s words we use in plural form and for which the singular form has evaporated. So far, auspices, paparazzi, cognoscenti. Datum might be one. Datum is and Data are, but we have said Data is so long that it has become as correct as hopefully. Auspice? My blog is not under my own auspice, but under the auspices of, whom I appreciate. 

News anyway. Manning convicted of all but the most serious crime of Aiding the Enemy, and embarrassing the government shouldn’t be a crime at all. Snowden faces similar. We can be thankful for our jury system and glad not to be on most of them, although nobody should be able to pick a fight and then kill the other guy when he fights back and starts winning. However, the media seem to have wrung all they profitably can out of Zimmerman, perhaps he will now go the way of old soldiers. The internet has made Everyman an expert jury secondguesser, but at least it provides a public forum that will be handy Comes The Revolution.

Comes The Revolution? People often have unrealistic expectations of The Revolution. Angry comment overheard locally five years ago in the lobby of St. Andrews Towers: “When Obama wins, we’re gonna take over this place.”

Nothing changes but U. S. Government, a slow-moving tsunami, an encroachment of fire ants, a migration of Brazilian killerbees. for USG is inexorable.

Favorites? Candorville. Doonesbury. Calvin and Hobbes. Allowing myself one chapter at a time of Roger Ebert's Life Itself: A Memoir so as not to use it all up. Next up on Kindle, Reza Aslan's Zealot, then Proof of Heaven by Eban Alexander, MD.

( ) Pox
( ) Pax
( ) .gov
( ) All of the above
( ) None of the above

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


This old house absurdly has so many bedrooms I have to stop and count. The type is “American Foursquare” popular for forty years from late 19th century into early 20th century. On the internet are pictures, floor plans and advertisements. From Sears Roebuck you could order the whole thing, finished, under $2,500, 

and actually I’m looking at one right now for $966 finished. Don’t know if Pop did that or just bought lumber and had his fishermen start building. It was started in 1912 and finished in 1913 when my father was two years old.

Classic design was a square floor plan, two story, four rooms upstairs and four rooms down, hip roof with short overhang, and a front dormer. Except for two additions that Linda and I added in 1997 and 2002, all interior walls and ceilings are solid tongue-in-groove, no drywall, such that every room is practically soundproof. Thus, if I have my glass of red wine at suppertime and later snore, Linda can get up and steam off into another bedroom, even an adjacent room, and enjoy total quiet.

When my grandparents built the house they modified the foursquare interior. The original building is 33‘ x 32‘ and they put two bedrooms downstairs with the bathroom in between them. Upstairs, two bedrooms instead of four, and the other half of the upstairs space was one large room with a pool table. Outside, instead of just the usual downstairs front porch, they put an upstairs front porch as well. As I’ve written before, during WW2 the house was converted into four apartments, two up and two down, and three bathrooms were added as well as the outside entry that now is our fire-escape.

In 1997 Linda’s stepfather died and her mother moved in with us in the rectory in Apalachicola. It became clear that wasn’t going to work when we would go into the kitchen and find that she had left the gas burners on the stove blazing high. It was even clearer to me when I would go upstairs to bed at night and find my MIL ensconced in the marriage bed, on my side of the bed, watching TV and only leave grudgingly so I could go to bed. So we added rooms to this house, roughly doubling the floorspace, and a kitchen with double refrigerators, dishwashers, ovens and sinks, to make the house bearable for us and two mothers-in-law. That was when we ended up with more bedrooms than I can count without taking off my shoes to count toes. Three bedrooms are currently being used for other living space, otherwise there are four bedrooms downstairs and four bedrooms upstairs. Two bathrooms upstairs, two and a half down. Need a big house looking out across St. Andrews Bay?! It isn’t luxurious by any means, it’s just roomy with all sorts of privacy.

The house isn’t for sale actually. All this came to mind because last night I woke at three o’clock for the usual and instead of coming downstairs, went into one of the “snore rooms” and snuggled in, cool, pitch black dark, and quiet as the God who is the Sound of Silence. Didn’t wake up again until 5:15 a.m. 


TW still here in +Time

Monday, July 29, 2013

Credit, Debit, or Cash Only

Gomenasai. A sometime necessity is revisit my blog postings after they’ve been online an hour or three. Typically, as now, they are written before sunup, with a mind that coffee has not yet unclouded. Yesterday’s blog post had to be revamped.

Viva! Watching the Pope on his South America trip. A true Jesuit, ever since he was first vested in white and, instead of getting in the pontifical limo to be chauffeured imperially to dinner, got on the bus and took his old seat with the other cardinals, he has been my man. He lives in a simple room, shunning the papal palace, and he picks up babies. If Popes had been like Jorge Mario Bergoglio over the past two thousand years, there would be no need for both Roman and Anglican and I could be as Catholic as the Pope.  

Stupidity. Arizona has a Stupid Driver Law. When authorities put up danger barriers warning drivers not to drive through floodwaters and drivers are so stupid as to drive through anyway and get swept away and have to be rescued, they are fined. Are we so stupid we can’t have the same law for folks who ignore the double red flags and go in the Gulf anyway and have to be rescued from drowning? Stupid Swimmer Law. If you drown, no charge. If authorities rescue you, you are honored with a free ride in a police car: go to jail, go straight to jail, do not pass Go, do not collect $200. Upon arrival at the jail a 24/7 magistrate greets you with a choice: $10,000 fine or 180 days in the lockup. VISA, Discover, MasterCard, American Express. Credit, Debit, Cash only. No personal checks.

Redux. Leadership of both parties in Congress are rethinking NSA surveillance programs. This is solely due to the revelations of Edward Snowden, who begins to look like a national hero instead of an international criminal, in which case it would make no sense to arrest, prosecute and imprison a man who instigated major reform. But the law will require it anyway, ratifying Mr. Bumble yet one more time again: the law's an ass - an idiot. We already knew that.    


Sunday, July 28, 2013

Not Going There

Browsing both the internet at large and even Facetime in particular can be depressing, discouraging. As with everything irrationally indiscriminate, shotgun blast slamming of the President for every breath he takes smacks of mindlessness, smells racist, and robs the slammer of the last iota of credibility such that there’s no point in reading what they say when you know it’ll be more worthless spewed hatred. When the White House changes from Red to Blue or Blue to Red, nothing changes but the “hunter-spewers,” though the most rabid fringe element do seem to come only in certain colors and a bigot is a bigot.

Three years ago someone suggested my +Time musings be posted on Facebook instead of an obscure blog. I don’t do that, partly because the musings were then and are now for myself, a struggle against the ravages of aging, especially mental deterioration -- which of course may be evident in the writing itself, which undoubtedly is why some people check me every morning and post me on the graph. 

And thank you very much Shutterstock. In spite of the black suit, the hair gives it away: that obviously isn’t me. Forty years ago maybe. No, forty years ago my black suit had gold stripes on the sleeves, try thirty-five years ago.

Another reason for blogging obscurely is to avoid having left-wing and right-wing nut-cases feel invited and welcome to respond. Facebook postings get shared and passed around, and to post on a wide social media encourages comments from political and religious fringes with whom I have zero interest in dialogue. Facebook et alia are great for keeping friends informed about one’s journeys of all sorts, photos, sharing jokes, even, for some who evidently think the world is interested in their every movement, realtime complaining that there is no toilet paper on the roll.  

In spite of all that, there are some deliciously funny things on Facebook. This one, posted by a good friend, is even relatable to this morning’s Hosea lesson. In a small town cafe, there’s Barry visiting with a little boy as his mother watches. The dialogue is hilarious.

Scripturally, based on this morning’s reading, Hosea 1:2-10, I reckon the little boy’s name is Loammi, which means “You’re Not Mine, You Little Bastard.” That’s Gomer looking on. 

Where’s the prophet? Not going there.


Saturday, July 27, 2013



The Ilfracombe Incident occurred in 1932 when a rogue Common Welsh Green dragon attacked a group of sunbathers at Ilfracombe in Devon, England. 
The attack was thwarted by a vacationing wizard family who then proceeded to cast the largest group of Memory Charms seen in the twentieth century. Despite their mass charming of the muggles who had witnessed the attack, some escaped from their Memory Charms, including a certain “Dodge Dirk” who maintains to this day, much to the confusion of muggles, that a "dirty great flying lizard" punctured his inflatable rubber beach mattress.

Pressing Unsend

Friends who exchange emails with me know my bad habit of starting to type, going with a stream of consciousness, and pressing Send. Too often, the next morning upon reading what was sent, it is obvious that instead of Send, I should have pressed Draft and then Delete.

Same with conversation, what we say can never be unsaid. We can apologize or try to rephrase, or agonize about what we should have said instead, but it stays said forever. In 1988 Massachusetts elected the Rev. Barbara Harris as the first female bishop in the Anglican Communion, and the church was going through the churchwide approval process before her consecration, including debating (an overly kind word for it) her qualities and qualifications. At a clergy and spouse conference in the midst of that, we had conversation about it and members of the Standing Committee said they’d voted “No” because she’d never gone to seminary. Angered and disgusted, I stood and spoke extremely rashly. People gasped and the bishop immediately recessed the conference. A quarter-hour later when we reconvened, I stood and apologized. But it was said, I had humiliated myself, was filled with regret and thoughts of what I should have said instead -- or simply remained seated and kept my mouth shut. But it had been said, could not be unsaid, will forever drift and float in the ether of OMG, did I really say that?

This surfaces this morning after reading an article about aging that said we become less and less reserved and more and more inclined to just speak our minds. God forbid. With the marvels of modern electronics advancing not just day by day but hour by hour, surely some genius will give us an Unsend button to press. 

Better yet, a Hogwarts app for downloading Harry Potter’s obliviate charm that erases all memory of what happened.


Friday, July 26, 2013

Boy, Who's Yo Daddy?

Hosea 1:2-10 (NRSV) Hosea's Family

2 When the Lord first spoke through Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea, “Go, take for yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the Lord.” 3 So he went and took Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.
4 And the Lord said to him, “Name him Jezreel; for in a little while I will punish the house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel. 5 On that day I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel.”
6 She conceived again and bore a daughter. Then the Lord said to him, “Name her Lo-ruhamah, for I will no longer have pity on the house of Israel or forgive them. 7 But I will have pity on the house of Judah, and I will save them by the Lord their God; I will not save them by bow, or by sword, or by war, or by horses, or by horsemen.”
8 When she had weaned Lo-ruhamah, she conceived and bore a son. 9 Then the Lord said, “Name him Lo-ammi, for you are not my people and I am not your God.”
10 Yet the number of the people of Israel shall be like the sand of the sea, which can be neither measured nor numbered; and in the place where it was said to them, “You are not my people,” it shall be said to them, “Children of the living God.”
+++   +++   +++
After Amos, here we go with another of the four so-called eighth century prophets of doom, Hosea. A northerner, a resident of Israel the northern kingdom, Hosea is called by God to prophesy in Israel against social and cultic evils, bringing the doomsday news that God has condemned Israel and is about to bring the nation down in desolating ruin. Our R-rated first reading for Sunday, July 28 lays out Hosea’s shocking family situation, God calling Hosea to marry a prostitute so as to symbolize the nation Israel’s unfaithfulness to God. The escalating names that God tells Hosea to give to the children of this union are both droll and prophetic. My favorite is the third child, a son who, poor little boy, is named “You Little Bastard.” 

Sociologists today tell us that the horrendous names that some modern American parents are making up and tacking onto their innocent babies are a factor of destiny in how the child turns out, which is to say, as a criminal. I shouldn’t wonder if Loammi grew up the neighborhood terror, ultimately stoned for some terrible crime.

The good news in Hosea is in verse 1:10 which is the prophecy that God will eventually save Israel after all. Which may signify Hosea’s name, which means “salvation.”


Thursday, July 25, 2013

What Do YOU Think?

Colossians 2:6-19 (NRSV) Fullness of Life in Christ

6 As you ... have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7 rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.

8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ. 9 For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10 and you have come to fullness in him, who is the head of every ruler and authority. 11 In him also you were circumcised with a spiritual circumcision, by putting off the body of the flesh in the circumcision of Christ; 12 when you were buried with him in baptism, you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 And when you were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive together with him, when he forgave us all our trespasses, 14 erasing the record that stood against us with its legal demands. He set this aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in it.

16 Therefore do not let anyone condemn you in matters of food and drink or of observing festivals, new moons, or sabbaths. 17 These are only a shadow of what is to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. 18 Do not let anyone disqualify you, insisting on self-abasement and worship of angels, dwelling on visions, puffed up without cause by a human way of thinking, 19 and not holding fast to the head, from whom the whole body, nourished and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows with a growth that is from God.
+++   +++   +++
The lesson for this coming Sunday is an exhortation to life in Christ. Of thirteen letters in the New Testament traditionally accorded to Paul, seven are almost universally agreed as “authentic,” written by Paul himself: 1 Thessalonians, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, Philemon and Romans.

Three are generally agreed as not written by Paul: 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus. 

Three are disputed: 2 Thessalonians, Ephesians, and Colossians. The Colossians letter is one of those on which competent and learned scholars disagree and dispute authenticity, with, some scholars say, about 60% doubting Colossians. However, there can be little doubt the early Church felt Colossians was authentic, if for no other reason than that Ephesians later seems largely to have been lifted from it. 

Modern scholars doubt Colossians on the basis of, for one primary reason, its christology. In our second reading for the upcoming Sunday, above, specifically Colossians 2:9 says of Christ, “For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily,” a developed christology that many scholars say would have made Paul, a solid, life-long monotheistic Jew, roll in his grave at the idea of deifying a human being or placing anything but the One God in the Godhead. "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One." 

For all the things about Colossians that point to it as authentically Paul, including a notion that relates it to Philemon, verse 2:9 raises among Pauline scholars the most solid basis for doubt: "... in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily."

Notwithstanding interesting, scholarly, even fun debates about authenticity, the Church has canonized Colossians in the New Testament as the Word of God, giving it as much value to us, and as much credence, as every other book of the Bible. Authorship is not the key; the key is that Colossians is part of our canon of Scripture.

What do I think about Colossians? I see Colossians as a beautiful precursor of the Church's ultimate realization as proclaimed a couple of generations later in the prologue to the Gospel according to John: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." And I think scholarly squabbling helps make Bible study enormously enjoyable.


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Going Back

Caught my eye on Google news this morning, the 1940 Ford coupe that finished last month’s 2013 Peking to Paris Race. It’s a 1940 Ford Standard that the owner drivers found on the internet for sale in Michigan, 

and shipped to the UK where they tore the car completely down and built it up for the grueling race.

They named the car “Shiner” to honor the classic ’40 Ford V8 coupe, fast and with a huge trunk that was perfect for transporting moonshine.

Run every three years, the Peking to Paris Rally is the longest and most difficult in the world, over 7,000 miles. 

Reading about it brought to mind the front cover of a 1952, ’53, ’54 Motor Trend magazine that’s likely in my treasure chest, showing a Lincoln Capri leaning into a turn at high speed in La Carrera PanAmericana. It was a day and age when Lincoln was big on racing and got great publicity from their fast and beautifully designed cars. 

Would I go back? For a day as Emily did on her 12th birthday in Our Town. 


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Elvis & Ringo

HRH Prince John George Paul Ringo of Cambridge has a nice ring, eh? America needs a king instead of a president. King and parliament: any idea how much easier it is to change prime ministers than it is for us to change presidents? Basically there’s a vote in parliament and you tell the now ex-PM to go sit down. If we had a king it could be Elvis, because a king is ceremonial and doesn’t have to be seen any more than the government has to show you twenty dollars worth of silver for a Jackson. 

Elvis’ picture would be on all currency, and

to ensure public confidence in the dollar, his grave would be moved to Fort Knox.

Upon waking this morning I thought to blog about Colossians. Another day.


Monday, July 22, 2013

Alfred's House

One of the best things about Sunday afternoon is waking from my nap and looking out across to the other side of St. Andrews Bay. Unfortunately, a pine tree, and the cedar tree that’s My Laughing Place, have inched up ‘til they’ve now hidden Shell Island from my view. The Old Pass is filled in now, so it’s no longer an island, but a pencil-thin peninsula stretching to the jetties of the new pass. 

My father started out in this house, a picture around here shows him sitting in the leaning-double-trunk cedar tree down front, dressed in a little boy suit. He was five years old, which would have been 1916, a couple of years before the January 1918 night when his brother Alfred drowned in the wreck of the twin-masted fishing schooner Annie & Jennie. When I was a little boy, my grandmother Mom used to tell me about Alfred, whose story has always been a powerful part of my own life. One day some two years after his death, Mom and Pop packed up and drove away with their family, never to return to this house so filled with memories. Even after my parents bought it back into the family in 1962, Pop would never come back. He told me, “I can’t go there, because of Alfred.” 

As well as about Alfred, Mom told me about my father. One time there was a fox under the house and my father “chunked him out,” as Mom said, throwing stones until the fox ran out and away into the surrounding woods. Another time, my father was sitting in the upstairs window of Alfred’s bedroom, currently my bedroom, and from that window, which I’m looking at right now, he fell out onto the ground below. His oldest sister, my aunt Evalyn, used to say, “He landed on his head and he’s never been right since!” 

As I wrote last week, my mother died two years ago, July 17, 2011. Eighteen years but just three calendar days apart, my father died twenty years ago, July 20, 1993. He started here. A picture shows Mom holding my father, a baby, in front of the older house that was here before this house was built. That older house is across the street, across Calhoun Avenue from us. My father remembered when the older house was rolled across Calhoun Avenue on logs, watching the kitchen light, hanging at the end of a long cord, swing back and forth. He was two years old. My father told me about the time he let the pump go out for several days because it wouldn't start and he couldn’t figure out how to fix it and was afraid he had broken it, and the high water cistern ran out of water for the house. In those days, he said, St. Andrews Bay was alive with every kind of sea creature and you could catch crabs and mullet galore down front. Pick up oysters, and scallops.

This house changed hands over the forty years after Mom and Pop moved to Georgia with their four living children. Later owners did various things to it. During WW2 when there was a severe housing shortage in Panama City, the house was converted into four apartments, and whoever did that installed a metal stairway on the back of the house as the entryway to the two upstairs apartments. Linda and I have added more, so that the metal stairway is now our fire escape in the middle of the house. The first time I came here was about 1947 with my mother: the house was for sale and we came and looked. Beach Drive down front was just one set of tire ruts through the Bermuda grass that was the front yard. 

My parents didn’t buy the house then though, they bought it back in 1962, partly trading for a waterfront lot they owned in Lynn Haven, while Linda, Malinda, Joe and I lived in Ann Arbor, where I was an MBA student at the University of Michigan. Christmas vacation that year, we took the train home and I helped my father tear out the partitions that had converted the old house into four apartments. I will never forget the look on my father’s face when we lowered the wall that was covering up the bannisters and stairway going upstairs, and he again saw the house as he last had seen it the evening he left with his family, about 1920. And he showed me, in the living room right in front of the fireplace, “That’s where my brother’s casket stood.” 

The old house is too big now for just Linda and me. During my silent directed retreats this summer I have experienced that three rooms and a bathroom would be perfectly adequate. But here we are. I expect to leave when -- you know.   

If I were younger than going-on-78 it probably would be possible for me to remember where I meant to go with this blog post when I started out writing it a few minutes ago, but I have no idea.

Shell Island is the strip of land on the far horizon.


Sunday, July 21, 2013

Amos and Carter

Last week, “Amos, what do you see?” “A plumb line.” This morning, “What do you see, Amos?” “A basket of summer fruit.” From the Old Testament this summer we are reading the graphic prophecy of Amos. One of the four so-called “eighth century prophets of doom,” with Hosea, Isaiah and Micah, Amos is a southerner, a Judean who has gone north to prophesy against Israel, the northern kingdom. Like his brethren in prophesy he is a bother, a nuisance, a pest, unwelcome, and the authorities have ordered him to return to his own country.

Ordered him to return to his own country? Sounds vaguely familiar, eh? Current events from nearly three thousand years ago?

After David and Solomon the united kingdom split back into the natural and historic tribal identities of Israel and Judah. It is a terrible time for both nations in the eyes of God. The ruling classes and the wealthy are despotically oppressing the common people. And people have fallen away from worshiping The Lord. On both counts, God is furious with his people and here through Amos, is warning them that their end is at hand. God will become their enemy and bring them down. The prophetic images in Amos are raw: today’s basket of summer fruit signals that the good times are over, the end has come, this is it: the winter of desolating ruin is at hand.

Indeed, what comes first upon Israel and then upon Judah are not unlike what, a generation ago, we feared as deadly nuclear winter.

Except perhaps for the enjoyment of holy history and reading the Word of the Lord, it would seem that there is nothing particularly special today about the prophecy of Amos and the others. But anyone who thinks so might want to look around at what is slowly happening in America. Gradually, imperceptibly, over recent generations, fully under both Democrats and Republicans since the time of the New Deal that brought us through and out of the Great Depression, so slowly that we can’t even see it, our constitutional government, has turned us over to the tyranny of despotic administrators. Hailing Edward Snowden as useful to wake us up, even former President and Commander in Chief Jimmy Carter says America is no longer a democracy. Another, for anyone who might be inclined to read his blog, is Jonathan Turley. Anyone who wonders whether Turley is a perfectly balanced center-field American need only read his blog about changing Wrigley Field; where were you, Jonathan, when General Convention revised the Book of Common Prayer? Maybe these are latter day prophets, eh? Maybe Americans ought to be listening. Who knows, maybe even God is angry.

Maybe Amos is still right. Or, right again.

Regardless, as of yore, the latter day prophets will shriek in vain until it's well past too late. It may already be.


Saturday, July 20, 2013

Tuna With Good Taste

Tuna With Good Taste

Zimmerman demonstrations will happen because they will happen, and they will happen until there’s worse news to report or until people realize they’re going to be late for work, whichever comes first. Opinions on all sides are valid to whoever is expressing them. The Castle Laws seem right to me, we may be wrong but within ethical bounds I agree with whoever said “If you enter my house unbidden, don’t expect to walk out: you’re going to be carried out under a sheet.” An extension, Stand Your Ground also seems right although you should not be able legally to shoot if you picked the fight in the first place, and juries should be able and led to explore that. 

We are headed for parts known. It will be deja vu all over again, back to the Old West and the big decision for church vestries will be whether you must leave your firearm in the narthex. Which unfortunately will encourage people to come early and get a back pew, already a problem in the Episcopal Church. WWMDD, What Would Marshall Dillon Do?

If it’s poor taste to make light of something so serious, it tastes even nastier to take our own views with such dead certitude as many are doing. But it’s not about tuna with good taste, Charlie, it’s about good-tasting tuna.

Ethics and law are not always in synch. The key to Richard Nash’s morality play The Rainmaker is a scene after the Rainmaker has made love to the lonely spinster girl in a barn at midnight. The pathetic girl's outraged brother Noah brandishes a pistol, intending to right the girl’s honor and the family’s reputation by shooting the Rainmaker. Their father, an old Texas rancher, grabs the pistol away. “Noah, you’re so full of what’s right you can’t see what’s good.”

We’re so full of what’s legal we can’t see what’s moral. Christians should not be conquesting Canaan with Joshua but crowding around Jesus as he preaches the sermon on the mount. 


Friday, July 19, 2013


Sometimes on a Journey 
You Don’t Go Straight 
To Your Starting Out Destination

Yesterday on Facebook I could not with certainty ID a branch and nut as chinquapin because it has been too many years. I had forgotten the leaf design but recognized the nut. It all comes back.

The Massalina Drive house that our parents built in 1937 and that we moved into in January 1938 just before Gina was born, was tucked into the woods. That soon changed as houses were built behind us on Linda Avenue and Allen Avenue, destroying the deep, thick forest between us and the western bend of Massalina Bayou that moves round to Tarpon Dock Bridge. 

After our new house was finished, our front yard was plain until the day I stood on the front porch with my mother and watched as my father and a black man called “Ol’ Dave” carefully planted a little three-branch magnolia grandiflora down in the middle. We haven’t lived there in half a century this year, but the magnolia lived and now spreads out across the entire front yard. It’s funny how the heart can take possession of something or someone that belongs to somebody else. That magnolia tree will always be mine. In my lifetime I’ve done that with several babies too, bonding with somebody else’s child. It’s a part of life that likely ends in heartbreak as they grow up and away and you realize that they never really belonged to you in the first place.

We find out that it’s that way with every child passing through. Which reminds me that my mother cried all the way home after they dropped me off at North Hall, University of Florida, Gainesville on my 18th birthday: I was gone forever. Every child of mine has done that to me too. Malinda, Joe, Tass, and now even Kristen. It's the way it is.

But the chinquapin, eh. Our front yard was plain but the back yard was filled with trees and so shady that we never got grass to grow well. Of course, I had to mow the whole thing anyway because there was a sprig here and there, just as I still have to get a haircut now and then. But up a slight rise and fairly close to the house was a little stand of chinquapin trees. We, maybe it was just me, begged for a treehouse for years. Though I had in mind a real treehouse hidden high in one of the oak trees, our father built a platform up about six feet high stretching from trunk to trunk among about four chinquapin trees. It wasn’t the treehouse of my dreams, but it was up and away. Once you get a treehouse you discover that it isn’t really all that great after all, because there’s nothing to do there but sit, but it was a treehouse.

A problem was Boy and Nuts. A stand of chinquapin trees is friend only to squirrels. It covers the ground with nuts that it drops in a protective spiny hull. The spiny hulls dry and become as evil as any yard full of sandspurs. From the day school was out in May until school started again the day after Labor Day in September, a boy was barefoot. Shoes? Unthinkable. This meant it was impossible to get to the treehouse without stepping on chinquapin burrs -- making the treehouse inaccessible. Put on shoes to get there? So absolute was barefoot season that putting on shoes to get there never occurred to me.

Not even tennis shoes -- a blog post for another day perhaps. And eat a chinquapin? Squirrels ate them. I'd sooner have eaten acorns. Little did I know then that they are little chesnuts.

The stand of chinquapin trees was cut and cleared in 1948. For six years, our 1942 Chevrolet had been parked every night under tall pine trees beside the house and was covered with pine droppings, resin. We called it turpentine. My father was about to order a new car -- this was when I was hoping for a Buick from Bubber Nelson but he ordered a Dodge from Karl Wiselogel -- but my mother said no new car until there was a carport for it so the pine trees didn't ruin it. The carport went exactly where the chinquapin trees had been. It was built for one car but a couple years later we got a second car, the 1949 Plymouth woodie wagon and my father expanded the carport to accommodate two cars.

And today as often, my +Time blog post is a windy road of nonsense to nowhere.


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Drink Florida Orange Juice

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” Matthew 10:34, NRSV.

In my hearing at a large social gathering some fifty but less than sixty years ago, a young man whom I had grown up with as neighbor and playmate from earliest childhood criticized our rector for, as he said, “preaching politics instead of the word of God.” By marriage he had changed from Baptist to Episcopalian and was not used to our ways of thinking and believing. I might have taken issue or at least engaged him, but having long contemned him as a fool and known him as a person of zilch integrity anyway, I simply turned away. 

Many years later he died after a long and terrible illness and my parents asked me to go with them to his funeral. More long years later and far too late, I deeply regret declining to accompany my parents to his funeral. But I do not regret turning away from challenging his remark of then forty years earlier, because in experience of life I have found that there is no satisfaction in conversing with fools, less in arguing, even less in trying to reason.

“Preaching politics” as my childhood friend put it, is the call of every Christian, and these days is practiced in every church, every denomination of every political bent. We don’t agree with each other, our convictions range far and wide. Unfortunately, if we occupy the extreme end of a subject, we call anyone who disagrees with us the “anti-Christ.” That’s too bad, but at least we are trying to carry Christ as we understand Christ into the world. That’s our call. And disagreeing is our privilege in a democracy.

Unlike Christian churches where there is a measure of political unity among members, the Episcopal Church is a mixing bowl. In the current generation our denominational leadership seems to lean left politically, but the people in the local parish and pew are politically as conglomerated as a tossed salad. And none of us lend special political credence to the one in the collar, who, not wanting to stir counter-productive divisiveness and also realizing that he is likely outweighed intellectually among those in the pews, usually has sense enough to refrain from politics on Sunday morning. 

I have never carried my political flags into the pulpit. The Episcopal Church is a decent example that people with far differing political and social views can check their differences instead of their brains at the door, and worship, respect and enjoy each other together. And it is not a bad thing that members of a church who constantly pray for “the unity of the Church” can at least begin by finding unity in worship.

This is in mind this morning while media continue to stir the Zimmerman verdict on which public opinion, broadening into stand your ground and now calling for yet another boycott of perfectly innocent and unbiased Florida orange juice and even Walt Disney World (I mean, who could hate Mickey Mouse and Tigger), splits racially as well as red/blue, conservative/liberal. Likewise on Edward Snowden, a new man without a country. On both issues, my views are solid but recognizedly no better than the opinions of highly intelligent people around me with whom I disagree strongly. Plus, on all sides of both subjects I notice many fools, with whom there is no point in engaging conversation anyway. 

My preference might be that the media shift to stirring up demonstrations and boycotts of Rolling Stone and their advertisers and those who have the August 1, 2013 issue in their bookracks. RS has interesting coverage of many topics, but they seem to be feeling unloved and not getting their share of attention. Let them have it. 

If the text doesn’t bear out the scripture, one of many great things about being Episcopalian is being comfortable with inconsistency: doesn’t bother me in the least.

TW observing what’s going on around me in +Time

Wednesday, July 17, 2013



A friend and encourager all our years in Apalachicola, George Chapel was a brilliant man with a photographic memory who had a mind for history and the gift for telling it, writing and speaking. With two affectionate and attentive cats here, one must be ever mindful of George's stories of the Rt. Rev. Reginald Heber Gooden, Bishop of Panama in the years when George grew up in the Canal Zone. Among them was the time Bishop Gooden called at the home of a lady who was a prominent and active member of the diocese. Ushered graciously into her sitting room, the bishop sat down in a chair only to squash the tiny dog of his hostess. Many years later when George hosted Bishop Gooden's visit to Apalachicola, the bishop confirmed that this was indeed a dark part of his history.

Combining the Gooden Disaster with the MIND THE GAP signs one sees at every exit of the London Tube, it's a good idea here at the Spinks house to take a look before taking a seat.

+++ +++ +++

What's in my mind right now is two years ago, July 17, 2011, a drizzly, muggy summer Sunday morning, shifting my car into reverse and backing out of the carport to head to church. Linda tapped on the car trunk. "Community called," she said. "Your mother just died."

Today for me is Two Years Mind, for remembering. Expected at any moment, and not a disaster because at 99 years old and in pathetic health, it was time, but nevertheless a moment, a morning, that stays with me. At her bedside a few minutes later, I had the prayers at time of death, removed her wedding ring for Susanna, then sat in a chair and talked with her for the next hour until the funeral director arrived. As I sat there talking a nurse's aide came in. "You must be her Bubba," she said. "She was always talking about 'my Bubba.'"

+++ +++ +++

iTitan shows a clear day in Tallahassee. Currently 71F, still, wind from the West at 0 mph whatever that means. Humidity 99% and I'm sure what that means. Mostly sunny. High 94F. Chance of rain 20%.

Monday we had lunch at Catfish Pad, a seafood cafe on the far west side where we can always get fresh, fresh mullet even when it's not available in Panama City. Mullet and oysters cooked beautifully delicious and arriving at your table too piping hot to touch. To give you an idea, decor and ambience are even south of Hunt's in St. Andrews but the food perfectly suits a Florida native.

Tuesday lunch at Vertigo, where the hamburgers are "so good it'll make your head spin." Apalachee Parkway across from Governors Square Mall. Linda had the "Southern Spin" hamburger. My burger was the "Greak Out," which is lamb instead of beef. Fried green tomatoes and chocolate shake.

Today? Maybe a trip to Fresh Market and mix up two of their deli stand shrimp salad dishes, dollop of mayonnaise.

This morning maybe think about my next sermon, which is August 4th. Maybe not.

No internet connection, I'm retyping this on iPad for 3G transmission. And for Mary Kay I'll go ahead and put the link on Facebook!


Sunset July 17, 2011