Saturday, November 30, 2013

side by side on the table sat

mene, mene, tekel, upharsin

If Amos eighth century prophet of doom had been writing about football, this would be The Day in Gainesville and Ann Arbor

Thus says the Lord, the God of hosts, the Lord: In all the squares there shall be wailing; and in all the streets they shall say, “Alas! alas!” They shall call the farmers to mourning, and those skilled in lamentation, to wailing; in all the vineyards there shall be wailing, for I will pass through the midst of you, says the Lord. Alas for you who desire the day of the Lord! Why do you want the day of the Lord? It is darkness, not light; as if someone fled from a lion, and was met by a bear; or went into the house and rested a hand against the wall, and was bitten by a snake. Is not the day of the Lord darkness, not light, and gloom with no brightness in it? (Amos 5:16-20)
If John of Patmos had written The Apocalypse, the Book of Revelation, about the sixty minutes of football, this would be the day, not of salvation and everlasting peace, but of being tossed into the lake of fire. "They will stand far off, in fear of her torment, and say, “Alas, alas, the great city, Babylon, the mighty city! For in one hour your judgment has come.'” Revelation 18:10.

For today, as the Lord says in tomorrow’s reading from the Gospel according to Matthew, “... two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left.” 

Flee for the hills. 

Of today’s Iron Bowl, Bleacher Report has conflicting prophecies, one of a tsunami of terrible destruction when the Tide rolls in. The other, Brian Pedersen prophesies Auburn 30 Alabama 28. Likely which, if that should happen, then, μὴ γένοιτο, Ohio State would rise to number 2, μὴ γένοιτο, face FSU in the BCS championship bowl and, μὴ γένοιτο, for once in a lifetime I would be forced to be a Seminole fan, μὴ γένοιτο. 

Or to pray for the resurrection of Eugene Fields chanting "The Gingham Dog and the Calico Cat."

Candorville by Darrin Bell

Finally, let the reader understand, the most ominous signs of gathering doom are that two Athletic Directors have issued statements of strong support for their Head Coaches, in The Swamp for Will Muschamp, at the Big House for Brady Hoke. Anyone who can’t read the handwriting on the wall doesn’t know his Bible as well as I. mene, mene, tekel, upharsin - numbered, numbered, weighed, divided.

Alas, Babylon.


Friday, November 29, 2013

Saying Too Much

about that wind in the pines

It’s possible to say too much, isn’t it. My diet -- no, d _ _ _ is one of those four-letter words I try to skip here -- my range of foods since October 2010 specifically excludes bacon; but yesterday our Thanksgiving spread included a Brussels sprouts dish that Ray makes once or twice a year starting last Thanksgiving. Whether he blanches them first I don’t know, but they are sliced and cooked in cream with a couple of other things including lots of cut up bits of bacon. The pot cooks down until it’s thicker than the most delicious brown turkey gravy, and I had one small serving. But I did not eat Ray’s mashed potatoes before the FDA comes out and determines whether the first ingredient listed must be potatoes or heavy cream. Anyway, there being some of both last night for leftovers, my supper included a spare tablespoon of Ray’s mashed with a tablespoon of the sprouts gravy, then the ACE inhibitor, carvedilol and statin; plus a furosemide even knowing it would increase nocturnal activity from one wandering to several.

Yes, it is possible to say too much. Which reminds, my rough draft Sunday sermon needs cutting way back. 

Wednesday arrived in the mail the used copy of Robert Funk’s The Gospel of Jesus which I read yesterday. For a couple bucks on Amazon Prime with free shipping, rated “good” and never even been touched. On the other hand, the used, “good” copy of Machen’s N.T. Greek for Beginners that came last week looks like it’s been passed along from generation to generation of eager seminarians with pencils, pens and yellow highlighters; no lie, there is even a sticky note inside that says “please give to Phil C.” or some such. Funk's gospel is good, if like a puzzle with several pieces missing, more again some morning.

This isn’t where I meant to go, this morning I was going to do Funk. A week or so ago, knowing how my Thanksgiving dinner plate would look, Linda handed me a health article that warns overeating brings on heart attack, so my plate was half of what I wanted, I drank only one glass of Pinot Noir, had a tiny sliver of pumpkin pie, and did not leave the table feeling stuffed. What came to mind on the second or third nocturnal rising was a comic strip from earlier in the week

Get Fuzzy by Darby Conley

and my trip to Greenwood yesterday. A cold morning for Florida, gate still chained and padlocked at seven o’clock, so to Dodge’s for gasoline, and when I returned at seven-fifteen gates were open. Cold, windy, blue sky, it’s a beautiful day, otherwise it would have felt bitter, but both graves are close to the center road, easy to get out and visit for a few minutes. Thinking of both Darby Conley and John 14:2, mindful of the turkey with oyster dressing I would make sure not to overeat in five hours, realizing from my time alone with them at Wilson’s last year that neither one was there and I really was alone, so why do I come except for love when it still stirs my rage at the deity, I monologue. Where are you? Silence. Wind in the pines. What’s it like? No reply. Has He kept His promise? Silence. More wind. Wind? Don’t I remember Mary Elizabeth Frye?

Breakfast this morning, with little girls making the noise that is so welcome and alive, will be black coffee and another sliver of pumpkin pie.

A thousand winds that blow.


Thursday, November 28, 2013

for traveling mercies

Thanksgiving for Traveling Mercies

On this day my mother used to tell me that she and my father were thankful, as they neared sixty years of marriage, that they had never lost a child or grandchild. That is a thankfulness and appreciation of which I am unendingly conscious as husband, father, grandfather, cousin, uncle, friend -- son, grandson, nephew -- , loved one and one who loves and has loved; perhaps especially in this vocation of sharing life and its experiences with many people and families. 

My own continuing prayer is for what some call traveling mercies, for where I am and have been and may yet be, for loved ones where they are on the road, the roads, wherever they are and whatever they are doing, driving, riding, sleeping, studying, in class, at work or school or the office and on the way there and back, taking a test, tending a child, being a child, cooking, shopping, eating, being a blessing, protecting, loving and being loved and cherished. 

What do I hope God will do for His part of the traveling mercies? Well, whatever, seriously, whatever, whatever God can and will do to help life along positively, including simply casting love down. My part is gratitude, being thankful for it all. Some time today, maybe this morning while the aroma of pumpkin pie and roasting turkey fills the house -- a private and personal twenty minutes because it’s a short little drive there and stop for a moment of being there -- I’ll visit and say hello to two friends who were especially special to me, who left way before I was ready for them to go or to leave them, and be thankful for the caring lives that they lived and for how they blessed the lives of many in their own journey, blessed my life too. 

And I’ll come home and be thankful for life as it is here in my house today. All my girls are here. A couple of the boys, but all my girls

A cherished prayer is the blessing our pastor lays on us at the close of each worship, that helps keep me mindful of why I am here in the first place. Life is short, and we haven’t much time to gladden the hearts of those who travel with us. So be quick to love, and make haste to be kind. And the blessing ..


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Hallelujah, Amen

Can somebody shout Hallelujah --

Just the other side of Thanksgiving Day, this very weekend, comes the First Sunday of Advent. No doubt it will be a low Sunday with many folks out of town visiting and celebrating Thanksgiving and feasting with loved ones. We’ll be doing that in our family, right here. Kristen is already home from college for the weekend, and Tass, Jeremy, Caroline and Charlotte are to arrive late this afternoon. We plan to welcome and enjoy with a family steak dinner, cooked outside on the grill. Ray, a chef at a fancy restaurant at the Beach, will be working, Ray usually grills the steaks and I sit there with a glass of red wine and say, “Mine’s done, take it off.” It used to be that I grilled the steaks and Ray kept my wineglass filled. Either way, I’ll miss Ray this evening.

Advent One is my Sunday to preach, and it’s made a little more challenging than usual, because along with the ominous readings of this apocalyptic Sunday, we are to baptize a tiny baby at ten-thirty worship. “OMG, what to say” came to mind this morning after 0215 bladder call. What to say? 

Some who are trained in the art simply climb into the pulpit, turn off the brain, open the mouth and let the Spirit keep promise. For me, that doesn’t work. Tried it once and instead of hearing the Spirit speak, heard him laughing. At me. So, six or seven or a dozen hours or more sermon prep, which includes a time of confrontation with God, whom we believe to be present both in the gospel as it is read, and then in the pulpit as the gospel is proclaimed. God creates heaven and earth in six days but needs nearly a full day to wring a sermon out of me. 

But, hallelujah, I’ve got it. That’s why my +Time post is late this morning.

Let all the people say, Amen.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

time travel

Let him who has ears to hear travel in time

Sunday morning we had a splendid sermon which our rector began by remembering his feelings and where he was that Friday, November 22, 1963 when news came that President Kennedy had been killed, then tied to our untimely gospel about Christ the King. Untimely because Linda just bought our Thanksgiving turkey and a new Christmas tree, and holiday season lights are going up around town, yet here we are on Calvary’s Hill with Jesus on the Cross, and it’s Good Friday afternoon not "sleigh bells ring, are you listening." 

Sermons have life and every sermon is different for every hearer as Spirit touches and Word speaks differently and personally for each one in the crowd. Sunday morning I heard every word clearly even as I was moved to a different time and place in my own life, not only a faraway city because we lived in Yokohama, and time because it was Saturday morning there not Friday as it was in Dallas, but also to a different age of my being, and then to different ages. 

Assisting at both services, I heard the sermon twice and it was even different for me each time. At eight o’clock I was stunned by what it did to me emotionally and where it took me spiritually, physically. At ten-thirty I was looking forward to going there again, to our little house on the very high bluff of a ridge overlooking Tokyo Bay, and being 28, and doting on a beautiful little girl and a tiny boy who now and then squabbled over who got to sit in Daddy’s lap. The phone call from Wayne's wife Beverly Hatchett across the cul-de-sac, rushing around the living/dining area to turn off the Japanese TV and turn on the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service. Falling into a nightmare when all sound changed to dirge. The next morning at our little Anglican church, the stunned congregation as our English vicar prayed for the Queen and for the soul of the President of the United States of America.

When Fr. Steve said that as a first grader it was his first experience of living in history as it happened, it took me to the April 12, 1945 instant when Bill Guy’s grandmother came outside and told our little neighborhood group that President Roosevelt was dead: my first thought was not believing this could happen, he had been president all my life, was in his fourth term as president and it was inconceivable that he would not be president forever. My second thought was fear: our president is dead, now we will lose the war. 

Steve in first grade for his first taste of history took me to another Sunday morning, Miss Violet Heyward’s first grade class at Cove School the day after Pearl Harbor, and to the December 1941 afternoon a week or so later when I came out of school and couldn’t find my mother because she was in our brand new 1942 Chevrolet with Gina and Walt in the back seat; in the front seat Mom, my beloved grandmother, next to Mama who was driving. The candy-striped seats and new car smell. Most of all Mom, in whose house I now live.

Sermons have life, and power. So does a child. Sunday morning Christian was there with his mom and dad, and I got to hold him. His soft blondness reminds me of Jody when he was tiny and we lived in Japan. Picking Christian up reminds me of Ryan at the same age running down the aisle at Grace Church and jumping into my arms. Ryan just turned 15 last week, and I have a picture of him holding his new drivers license. Not long ago Ryan’s mother pointed to me holding Christian and told him, “That’s your replacement.” 

Not so, everyone is still there, nobody ever replaces anyone in my heart. In Sunday’s gospel Jesus told the thief on the next cross, “today you will be with me in paradise.” Paradise: that’s exactly what happened to me, where I went during Steve’s sermon and all the rest of Sunday morning.


Monday, November 25, 2013

... and start over."

... and start over." 

Sleeping ‘til 5:30 is not my thing but happened because at 2:35 I sat up on the edge of the bed, stared out over the front yard and down to the Bay, thought about Alfred, wondered whether that was light surf or wind in the pines, remembered Rhode Island mornings, snuggled back down for a moment and woke when Linda closed the open porch door at 5:30. Late was good, especially considering James M. Robinson’s The Gospel of Jesus had put my lights out at 8:30. Seems Robinson was a helpful sedative one other time. 

Still like the topic, so just ordered The Gospel of Jesus by the late Robert W. Funk, a cheap used copy on Amazon Prime so free shipping. Funk's scholarship has integrity and loyalty to the historical Jesus that intrigues me. Having at least two other Funk books, my confidence is high, also my hope and expectation.

Looks like nearly a couple months of PCNH comic sections stacking up there for me. This morning Linda handed me the Viewpoints page with a Marianna resident's letter relating man’s justice and divine justice. He doesn’t say quite what I might say, but the idea --. It’s saddening when love of neighbor, which is the whole idea of Jesus, becomes too politically charged and divisive to be sermon material. The church is moving into Advent, when, starting over yet one more time again with the Gospel according to Matthew, we joyfully anticipate His coming, but one wonders why He bothered instead of just returning again to Genesis 6:5-7 or listening to Satan’s advice to God in The Gospel according to Mark Twain. A swearing, smoking, drinking man, Mark Twain’s sociology, which could be carried into many facets of life not just racism, was sharp but almost invisibly subtle, his theology as sharp but not so subtle. 

At least he didn’t start smoking until he was nine.

There are gospels and then there are gospels.


Sunday, November 24, 2013

1931 Ford

Cool out, 54F out my back door on the way to get the newspaper, but windy, stiff breeze makes it feel chilly though it isn’t. Pleasant with a sweater. At 78 I still have sweaters my mother made for me forty, forty-five, maybe fifty years ago and this is the season for one.

Football, no point in talking about it, SCar cleaned up but everyone else on my cheering list -- -- not going there. What’s happening? Is anyone driving down to see a game in The Swamp when you can rue it from your sickbed and know it’s a bad dream and you’ll only wake up with a headache -- I’ll wake up in a few minutes in a sweat, realize it was a nightmare, and laugh, pinch me. This isn’t where I came in.

Can it get worse? Oh yes, yes indeedy, wait till Saturday. This is what I get for poking incredulous jabs at UCF early in the season. Can we start over? 

A friend had two flat tires on a trip, that’s stuff from old times. It’s why in my growing up years and before, some cars had not one spare tire, but two. 

Twin side mounts they were called. 

In the really classic days of motorcars we saw twin side mounts 

and a trunk rack. 

There’s that blasted spinning beachball again, won’t go away -- too many programs open, have to save and reboot.

That’s a 1931 Model A Ford roadster with twin sidemounts, a trunk rack and a rumble seat. 

Not to mention the white sidewall tires. It would have hit the showroom autumn 1930. That year the Gators had a 6-3-1 football season, losing to Furman, Alabama and Tennessee. The Georgia game ended scoreless, tied 0-0. That’s the year Florida Field opened, 1930.


Thanks, Shinyside!

Saturday, November 23, 2013


Late in the year, November 23, so brought a sweater and neck scarf out onto the downstairs front porch to watch and wait for Linda’s PCNH. Don’t need either one, it’s that -- balmy is the word, 66F and 83%. The carrier throws the newspaper on the back driveway unless there’s a substitute, in which case it may get thrown on the walk down front. The car rolls by slowly in silence, usually here long before now, four a.m. One morning a few years ago there was no paper because the carrier had had a heart attack, pray all is well this morning.

Newspaper thrown from a car by someone old enough to fear a heart attack: this must not be Grovers Corners anymore. It was when I grew up here. Doesn’t matter, Joe Crowell, Jr. is gone either way, age or war.

There’s the rolling car, pause and get the paper, don’t like Linda going out in the dark.

Headlines include GAME DAY. BCS team #2 paying $900,000 to play the Idaho Vandals who are 1-9 this season and were 1-11 last year. They must be saving up for a new stadium. Make that colosseum. This is championship football? 

21st century newspapers are becoming not PCNH but HuffPost and The Daily Beast.

Yesterday The Daily Beast ran James Kirchick’s review of Josef Joffe’s book The Myth of America’s Decline -- Politics, Economics, and a Half Century of False Prophecies. Dorian Gray comes to mind. A high intellectual not to be dismissed, Joffe is a professor driven to publish like any other professor, publish and sell books; and although it makes a marketable title, as a Jew he should but doesn’t seem to know that false prophets are not disproved in their own time but over generations even centuries. And his premise, judging by his extended title and by Kirchick’s review -- I have enough books to read and am not going to read Joffe -- is politics and economics, not cultural, national ethics, moral character. Surprising, considering the nature of Die Zeit that he currently edits. Yet even liberal has a fancy fringe. Still --

Economic, industrial, military strength, entrepreneurship and all that, we live in an unprecedentedly wealthy, wonderful seemingly free country that in our time has risen as lone ranger international superman. We can run two wars, Iraq and Afghanistan, at the same time. The U.S. Navy is greater than the next forty navies of the world combined. We have forbearance not to use our nuclear might in justified fury in response to 9/11. We could order Iran to cease and desist a nuclear program that Israel also should not be allowed to have as neither should India nor Pakistan, and can enforce our will economically, militarily if pressed. We meant well by our own standards in Vietnam and elsewhere, and who thinks we were right in Vietnam must watch "Good Morning, Vietnam." We always mean well and we are always certain. We saved the world in response to the Japanese Empire and the Third Reich; but we have taken it to our heads, and in the space of two generations have come to be resented, despised throughout the world as few other powers in history, all demised or diminished. Of our offenses, we excuse ourselves and march on. A former president and his retired administration initiated war crimes and crimes against humanity that, were we weaker instead of strongest, international tribunal would have had them on the gallows. We account to no one, least of all ourselves. 

Confident, certain, self-righteous and sure, we can’t even look back seventy years and understand 9/11, and Joffe would never understand it. We would rather pay to invade sovereign nations and wage decades of war on them than pay for the medical care of our own American children whom we didn’t want aborted. We are no longer, and less and less, governed by government of laws whom we elected but by administrators and regulations run amok, ever and oppressively more costly and burdensome, unanswerable and uncontrollable. Divided and dividing, hated and hating, we are a religious people of absolutes without reason, a litigious people of rights without responsibilities. Joffe is good, and his newspaper is good, born a Polish Jew, he is a German who knows America as well as any American, but patting us reassuringly on the head, he pats a body not a soul.  

No prophet of doom wants America to fall, including those Kircher and Joffe deride. But Isaiah, Hosea, Amos, Micah and Jeremiah are alive and well in our time, and they are not false prophets. Economics given, there are declines and there are declines and even the strongest nation will not forever abide universally hated and without a soul. An intellectual’s intellectual, Josef Joffe nevertheless has background, baggage and agenda no less than any writer, including Mark, Matthew, Luke, John, Paul, Mohandas K. Gandhi, those five doomsday prophets of the Hebrew Bible, Joffe’s “false prophets,” Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde, and Gary Trudeau.

Which to press: Publish or Delete?

Friday, November 22, 2013


Jeremiah 23:1-6 King James Version (KJV)

Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the Lord. 2 Therefore thus saith the Lord God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the Lord. 3 And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase. 4 And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the Lord. 5 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. 6 In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, The Lord Our Righteousness יְהוָה צִדְקֵנוּ .
This is our First Reading Sunday, the last Sunday of the Church Year, celebrated as the Feast of Christ the King. Jeremiah did not have Jesus of Nazareth in mind when he wrote his prophecy in the seventh century BC, in fact, he had no idea whom God would raise up as his new king; but we Christians may say that God knew and simply tarried until his time was fulfilled. I like that, it sounds pious and holy, doesn’t it.
Reading verse 6, Jeremiah seems to say that the name of the new king will be Yahweh our Righteousness or Adonai our Righteousness. You can see יְהוָה Yahweh in the name, but צִדְקֵנוּ the vowel-less second part that means "the righteousness of us" or "our righteousness" is fairly unpronounceable -- just cough and clear your throat. The name as Luther has it in his Bible is Der Herr unsre Gerechtigkeit. I like that. YahGerechtigkeit. Jegerechtigkeit. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Rite One, Rite Two, Rite Riot

Rite One, Rite Two, Rite Riot

This morning after reading Delanceyplace about the 1913 Riot at the Rite in Paris, I took advantage of modern electronics and watched two large screen presentations of Igor Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du printemps to see what the disturbance was all about. In Paris, the first is abstruse, a one-ring circus of horses and men and difficult for a novice to perceive. I should have read about it before watching, but wanted to get that first audience’s sense of shock. No ballet fan, watching and wondering how they managed dozens of horses in that 1913 performance and why was Igor so surprised and infuriated at the riot, I watched another. 

Same cacaphony, the second is in Berlin, hundreds of young dancers, girls and boys, two parts and to the point. With total chaos of both dancing and music, the second is like middle school gradual to high school, and almost delightful. Anyone who has taught middle school and been in the hall when classes are changing would feel right at home in a ballet where understanding, perceiving (thinking of the NT Greek word ἴδωσιν see, understand, perceive) is not part of the formula. Whether it’s ballet or concert orchestra I have no clue, may watch it again, still a different presentation, but certainly not just listen on the Bose without pictures. Without dancers it would be Apocalypse instead of Springtime. You have to be there in the hall between classes, otherwise you think you’re experiencing the eschaton. 

So, why the riot at the 1913 premiere? Because it’s counter to all expectation, that’s why. A concept well worth trying Sunday morning in an Episcopal church: in three stages, a new persona for eight o’clock worship. First a riot of the elderly, second an empty vacancy, slowly building to can’t find a parking place outside much less a pew with an empty seat inside.

Wednesday noon at HNEC. 11:15 Healing prayers for those who come early. 11:30 Holy Communion [fifteen minutes max, my thirty-year Lenten specialty]. Bible study over lunch follows in Battin “fellowship” Hall. We don’t meet on Thanksgiving Wednesday, we don’t meet on Lessons & Carols Wednesday, we meet twice in December, then recess for the Christmas holidays, then resume Wednesday, January 15. At 78 I must add “God willing.” Having watched two performances of Le Sacre du printemps -- a riotous, chaotic, cacaphonic Sacrifice of the Mass -- I may change the Wednesday noon format going into Spring 2014. No horses.

Thinking of my own eschaton, I might choose as my heaven wandering for all eternity in the CoveSchool/HNES hall between classes, invisible, unseen, while Igor plays his tune about the Rite of Spring.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Black this Morning

Every morning when I come down several things are waiting to be opened, that help make life more interesting. Not that life needs help, it’s interesting as it is, even left alone like the black coffee in the Navy-style mug that says “Life is good” and “Do what you like. Like what you do.” Coffee that now and then gets a sprinkle of black pepper, or cinnamon, or a splash of milk, or a little cup of Linda’s french vanilla whitener. Or this time of year when she makes pumpkin pie, a dollop of thick whipped cream. Black this morning.

But the laptop ... in the email there’s always delanceyplace. Sometimes a welcome email from a friend, today some old historic Navy pictures from MJ -- 

the battleship reminds me that Captain Brown who ran USS MISSOURI aground was once the CO of our Navy base here, and a member of our church and a friend, how sad my parents were when the grounding ended his career. Only this week I said I’d never missed the Navy but sometimes I wonder if I lied to myself. No, memories change reality, e.g., this old house is not as enormous as it was the first time I came in here nearly seventy years ago: not the house, it’s me, I was way different then. Sometimes memory is better than reality was. Or worse.

This morning the delanceyplace selection talks about our system of imprisoning people, physically, psychologically, the effect on children when their mother is in prison, that it’s really the children who are punished, with catastrophic effect both personal and societal. It will never change, our society is too enormous and members too self-absorbed for there to be social change like Women’s Suffrage, to change how we treat people, ... love neighbor and that. Or to be as obsessed with medical care for the children we didn’t want aborted as we were obsessed with not aborting them in the first place, some kind of national obtuseness, blindness in a society that thinks of itself as "Christian" but is precisely the opposite of the mind of Jesus Christ. Robert Jenson, my theology professor at seminary, once said something about “rights and responsibilities” that took years for my light bulb to come on. These days the light bulb comes on every time some wacko goes into a school and shoots little children.

Best thing waiting this morning, and often so, is Wordsmith with A.Word.A.Day. Sometimes it’s the Word. This morning it’s at the end, the Thought For Today that has nothing to do with the Word. “Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won't come in.” Alan Alda, actor and director (b. 1936). To me Alan is a TV doctor during the Korean War, never thought of him as a philosopher, or theologian. But then, he was the star and the sensible one, the one with the heart. My age, Alan was the handsome doctor on M*A*S*H, I wonder if he has aged too.

If I were to rework what Alda said, I’d only change “assumptions” to “certainties.” Matter of fact, as a theologically-oriented person, I do try to keep scraping the certitudes off of my windows on the world, life, creation, religion, reality, faith. It’s an ongoing work in progress, because I’ve always been pretty sure of a lot of things. But Steve Jobs helps me -- “Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.” And now Alan Alda. Scraping off the certainties.        

In the news, federal appeals court lifts two stays of execution for racist serial killer.

Anticipation. Whipped cream in my coffee the end of next week. Granddaughters filling up the house, full up to busting with love. Life is good.


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Pogo and the Visigoths

Pogo and the Visigoths

Difficult to say nothing, indeed, saying nothing spells cowardice the other side of the Bully coin and as guilty. LAX shooter, shopping mall shooters, bombers, bullies, suicide bombers at Iranian embassy in Beirut kill at least 23, shooters at schools, Richie Incognito bullied as a boy, now obscenely, perversely a contemptible racist bully himself. LaPierre and his goons in the national Capitol. Taliban and al Qaeda self-righteous bullies and center evil of the universe, breaking into a hospital in Syria, dragging out a wounded soldier, decapitating him and gleefully dancing about with his head, only to find out he was one of their own soldiers being treated in hospital. IRS. Assad in Syria, all who support Assad, all who oppose Assad, Assad himself. Netanyahu for U.S. Secretary of State? NSA. Everyone with power over others, God help us even kindly National Park Service rangers during The Shutdown showing bully colors vice gentle heroes in sheeps clothing. 

LAX shooter not unlikely had a grudge against TSA, if not personal then for their publicized arrogance bullying children, crippled, elderly, tormenting people at their mercy in the name of rules and regulations. Whoever favors bullies and cowards getting their just desserts on the scaffold or from the barrel of a gun struggles to sympathize. 

Our bent as a bully society is to punish: punish the symptom but ignore the cause lest rights of the fringe be infringed, or we be compelled to admit error - impossible for a nation so self-righteous that narcissism is being taken off the cuckoo list, we are that legion. Shooters get tried, terrorists assassinated and we strut off having executed justice like a gang of brown shirt fascists while problems creep that a century from now will have consigned bully America the fate of bully Roman Empire, bully British Empire of Brigadier Dyer and his April 1919 Amritsar massacre as in, "General, if you could have gotten the armored car in would you have used the machine gun (against the women and children)?" Dyer: "Yes." My Lai, Kent State, Iraq and Afghanistan. Sgt Barbera murders deaf, unarmed brothers Ahmad, 15, and Abbas, 14, as they tend cattle in Iraq and we wonder why we are so hated. Following 9/11 Mayor Guiliani rebuffs a relief donation from Prince Al-Walid bin Talal bin Abdul Aziz - nephew of King Fahd of Saudi Arabia - because of remarks relating 9/11 and U.S. foreign policy. Narcissistically best at taking offense and placing blame, as a nation we don't get it, too thick for introspection and realization, much less confession and penitence, we learn zilch from the Goths or from Adonai and the Babylonians. Police state of New Mexico (what, no comma?) firing on a fleeing minivan with a mother and five children ayfsm? Zimmerman the Innocent arrested again for domestic violence while the United Methodist Church convenes the ecclesiastical trial of a pastor who officiated the marriage of his gay son: bully reign of the canons in the Kingdom of the Pharisees. There is no help or hope, relief only in returning to oblivion and leaving all to future generations of the certitudinously self righteous. 

"We have met the enemy and he is us." "For lo, his doom is sure." The firing squad are here, any last words, Pogo?

“... tyrants and murderers – and for a time they can seem invincible. But in the end they always fall. Think of it – always . . . When you are in doubt that that is God's way, the way the world is meant to be . . . think of that.” Gandhi.

A Mighty Fortress ... Rise and Fall


Monday, November 18, 2013

817 & 403

817 & 403

Five Gold Rings & Four on the Tree

My NFL memory. Autumn 1971/2/3 getting off the gray Navy bus in Cincinnati with RearAdmiral Chet Heffner and others and watching Browns fans, the manhood of Cleveland, exiting their bus loaded up drunk and steaming toward the stadium gate chugging DEfense DEfense DEfense DEfense DEfense strutting macho as a fascist firedrill. That’s my view of pro football and Incognito hasn't helped: grow up. Compared to CFB, why Tebow would want that for his life instead of working with youngsters as a CFB coach or high school head coach beats the hell out of me. Matthew 6:24, Tim, let him who has ears hear, how loud does the Lord have to speak, how hard does God have to shake you? Grow up, be a man, praise the Lord, say another prayer and get a job. Though he does sell TT memorabilia on his FB page.

Watching football games Saturday, I saw a Chevrolet Malibu commercial. For some reason -- no, truth, there's no reason, it's beyond reason -- the mind is mixing up CFB, cars and warships 

and what comes to mind is a Saturday morning, late summer early fall 1959, a cool day in Norfolk, Virginia. I loved my first ship, skipper and shipmates, enjoyed the duty, found my niche instead of the stupid lurking seminary idea, and came to feel so good about myself and my worth in life that I changed USNR to USN, to the disgust of my roommate Russian major Harvard graduate Ensign Don Senese, who couldn't believe I would so degrade myself. After the Navy, Don returned to Harvard and St. Cyril. Bostonians, his family were members of an Episcopal parish that instead of coffee hour served bloody Marys. A possible idea for church growth.

That autumn Saturday morning most of the wardroom of USS CORRY (DDR-817) left the destroyer piers with me and drove downtown to the Peugeot dealership. Our wardroom had one snob, Ensign Bill, a Naval Academy graduate who was such an arrogant equusposteriessimus that he was denied the automatic promotion to lieutenant (junior grade), didn’t go with us that morning, nor did the married officers (Linda was home in Panama City with Malinda, so I was a single officer that day). We went into the showroom in uniform, checked out a Peugeot 403 demo with four speed stick on the column, underpowered French I4 engine

piled into it, no room for the salesman to go with us, and sped off for Virginia Beach, me driving. 

When we returned the 403 late that afternoon muddy and with quite a few miles on it the salesman, who'd -- assumed -- we were driving it around the block, was in trouble, the general manager was furious, we handed back the keys, said thank you we love it and headed to the NOB O’Club for happy hour.

Number one for young twenties fun: junior officer in a Navy destroyer. Not much is more fun than being 23. You don't have to rank above ensign or j.g. to have plenty of brass. At the DesDiv party at the O'Club that Christmas I helped sing "five goo--ooo-old rings" competitively in a contest for which wardroom sang not best but loud and most obnoxious. Linda drove home that evening. If the tooth fairy offered me one wish and it couldn't be unlimited wishes I might wish to live that first tour of sea duty all over again, including other Saturdays sailing on Guantanano Bay with Don Senese and an iced tub of Heineken.

The tooth fairy or the narrator in Our Town. 

Never got the Peugeot, but 1983 we bought a new Renault station wagon from a dealer in Harrisburg. Choice car that I loved and drove between Pennsylvania and Florida couple times. We gave it to Malinda when we moved Harrisburg to Apalachicola and don't remember what happened to it.


Sunday, November 17, 2013


No sense to some fool priest’s CFB two cents, but anybody who watched something else during the Auburn Georgia game deserved to miss the game of the season. One of those games where Bubba had a favorite but not a Dawg in the fight -- in fact, a Gator never has a Dawg in the fight, never, never, ever. Going down to the final couple minutes it looked like the Tiger was about to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory. If Bubba was a religious man he would rate that final Auburn touchdown an Act of God, did you see that ball bounce? only the Holy Ghost could pull that off, St. Nick and St. Ricardo getting their miracles for canonization. Even so it wasn’t over till the clock said. Georgia did a scrappy comeback. 

Gators did respectable against SCar, but Coach pulled it out.

Love this morning: BCS projections slipping OSU below Baylor. Disagree, but love.

MGoBlue in third overtime. How many EMS ambulances were in the parking lot to deal with heart attacks?


Saturday, November 16, 2013


Not cold out here this morning, pleasantly cool. But that slightest breeze chills the neck, so inside to get the scarf Tass made that meant so much that freezing predawn in Cleveland, getting on the trolley and riding over to either +time or nothing forevermore. Much better, and a blanket over lap and legs.

On the scrolldown blogger menu there’s a Stats item that, click, goes to a screen showing, among other things, how many pageviews the blog got. Today, yesterday, pageviews total to date. Usually runs about 130 or so a day, sometimes several hundred, 4,603 pageviews last month, Why? I don’t understand, though a particular day’s title may cause a jump. Something over a thousand postings so far, 1,033 on +Time to be exact plus whatever was on CaringBridge up to the day we left Cleveland, something over a hundred thousand viewings so far: 103,468. Why anyone would read my nonsense I don’t understand except some are observing my state, slide into senility as mind and body age: is it time to send the wagon over to collect this pathetic refuse and take Linda out of her misery suffering through life with such a wretched creature? Apparently not yet. 

Who is watching and reading? The same cadre of elderly eligible bachelors who so hopefully and eagerly check the obits for my name every morning. Dream on.

Temptation to leave this quiet back porch where the only sound, now that the blasted water pump has finally shut down, is the occasional car driving by on 9th Street half a block away, and go out on the front porch.

There. Flat Bay, some light clouds. Sky is white blue, humidity must be up, eh? Quiet except for the sound that is either frogs, birds and crickets or my tinnitus. If you don't hear it too, it's me. Stepping out onto the upstairs front porch earlier I could hear the surf roar from the Gulf of Mexico, what, four miles away. Soft sound, waves rolling into the front yard, either a boat went by or tidal action.

Saturday morning. Prepare tomorrow’s adult Sunday school lesson: what? Either finish up the Nicene Creed or ...

Think I'll go out and pick a grapefruit for breakfast.