Sunday, May 31, 2015

Moths around Light

Eternity must be a matter of perspective, eh? Last evening The Weather Channel was on quietly as we had a glass of shiraz, well I had wine, Linda had a bowl of cereal, a program about asteroids and meteorites. The usual visuals of a dinosaur vapidly watching the flash of its demise as one slammed into our planet millions of years ago, Παντοκράτωρ tiring of lizards and deciding to change the channel. What will He watch after Anthropon and the Flood? Glimpses into the stars and the dark beyond kept me sensible of insignificance. Eternity at the moment is the view from my hotel window: framed by a black sky, moths fluttering around a security lamp.

Were moths here with the dinosaurs? If moths have collective memory what will they tell whoever or whatever comes on next about us? 

Bernard of Cluny was wrong, but this poem from his profuseness failed to make the cut in the transition from our 1940 Hymnal to The Hymnal 1982. One (that’s me) thinks it wasn’t because we never sang it, though we didn’t. 

The world is very evil,
The times are waxing late;
Be sober and keep vigil,
The Judge is at the gate;
The Judge that comes in mercy,
The Judge that comes with might,
To terminate the evil,
To diadem the right.

It’s a dismal hymn even though we who are singing are smugly certain that we are among those about to be diademed. We all assume that; it’s the central blemish of certainty.

Eternity? It’s a wait and see proposition, isn’t it.

TW gratefully in +Time


Saturday, May 30, 2015

Where am I?

-> In the Staybridge Suites, a new hotel in the park setting of a large, scenic business park. The cheapest of all motels we've stayed in since the days of looking for Motel Six in order to avoid paying twenty dollars at the Holiday Inn, we have two rooms and a bathroom. Free breakfast and light supper with beer and wine. One room is the bedroom, of course, two queen beds and television. The other room has a complete kitchen in one end, dining counter with chairs, a livingroom with sofa and chair, desk and chair, tables and another large television. We are on the fourth floor and both rooms have a large window with pleasant outlook.  

-> In the Name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Trinity Sunday the wise rector calls in sick and it makes no difference who preaches in his stead, because nobody understands it anyway, least of all the clergy who try to explain it. Quicunque Vult, the Athanasian Creed has it right: “the Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Spirit incomprehensible. And yet they are not three incomprehensibles but one incomprehensible.” (BCP864). That’s as clear as it gets. Yet someone, thinking he’s got it down cool, always chirps in knowingly, “as I understand it the Father does this, and the Son does that, and the Holy Spirit does such and such.” No matter how he puts it, that’s generally the heresy of modalism, and I get to say, “no communion wafer for you, heretic, until I discuss your case with the bishop.” 

The closest I might get functionally is in a prayer we say at time of death, “God the Father who created you, God the Son who redeemed you, God the Holy Spirit who sanctifies you …” Which also accommodates the modern need to ungender the Deity as Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier. But isn't it modalism to say the Father creates, the Son redeems, the Holy Spirit sanctifies? Doctrinally inseparable, the Three in One and One in Three; indeed, the Creed itself says of the Son, “through him all things were made.” And of the Spirit, “the giver of life (ruach or pneuma)” both of which, making things and giving life, are component of creating.  

Not to mention that one needs to believe it in the first place or the conversation is meaningless.  

Where am I? Well, I can say the Nicene Creed all the way through with a straight face but this still says it best 

-> In Tallahassee, arrived Thursday, likely return to PC Tuesday. Daughter Tass had a bilateral mastectomy after discovery of a malignancy. Linda and I came over to be with Caroline and Charlotte so Jeremy can give full attention to Tass. Surgery was yesterday, she may come home today, we aren’t sure. Test reports and treatment plans are supposed to be known Tuesday. Anyone who wants to ask, don’t ask her daddy, ask Linda, who had this 25 years ago and is fine.

Where am I?


Friday, May 29, 2015

Night of the Apple IIe

Night of the Apple IIe

Sometimes the most sound one can make is silence. The fingers won’t dance. Nor the mind have its magical thoughts.

Nighttime in a small town. In the office next door to church and rectory, thinking, reading, a little prayer, you type a sermon on the Apple IIe. Outside a siren goes screaming by. A few minutes later screams back again. You keep thinking, typing. The office phone rings and you answer. From the rectory next door she says, “Are you sitting down? She’s fine. Tass is fine.”

"What?" You are no longer sitting down. "What?"

“She’s fine. Tass is fine. She called me from the hospital, she’s fine. Her face is cut and bleeding but she’s fine. They had an accident on the bridge. That was the ambulance that went by.”

Shaking, you run. Run. Run. Run. Thirty seconds to the hospital in your car. Down the hospital aisle in pajamas. Grab her. Hold. She’s fine. She is fine. She says, “I told them not to call, I had to call myself. My parents would have a heart attack if anything happened to me.”

She’s fine. 

Her daddy

Thursday, May 28, 2015

keeping on keeping on

The email list just gets too long to scroll down, doesn’t it. I use gmail and keep that file cleaned down. The Knology now Wow! list grows by a hundred or so a day and I have to roll down it and press the little garbage can at least every other day to keep it from rolling over me like the crimson tide. I still have one other list that I haven't checked in a couple years: it probably has thousands waiting to be opened. But this morning even gmail has forty something, and I’ve read and responded to just one so far.

Speaking of which, pray that SEC and the Tide quickly regain their rightful place. Pray harder that MGoBlue obliterates Ohio State. No, it’s too soon to be thinking of CFB. No it isn’t. Yes it is. No it isn’t.

It’s four-thirty. An hour and a half ago I was out on the balcony porch enjoying the wonder of earth and life, and should still be out there. But on the bed in the Bay bedroom I have one of those wedge pillows that makes sitting up in bed so comfortable and easy. Big sliding glass door, and I can see shrimp boats — their lights — moving on the Bay. Someone will eat good today.

We’re headed to Tallahassee this morning.

Trinity Sunday coming up. I don’t know about all this doctrine stuff. But then that’s what faith is, isn’t it: not knowing.

Good church service last night. The bishop must have been surprised when he couldn't see the congregation for all the children crowded round the Altar. That's the way it is! The kingdom of God on earth. Jesus said it would be like this!


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

spit, swish, spit

spit, swish, spit

Least of all me, nobody can think all the time, much less always be thinking about things eternal and unseen. Or maybe some can, what the heck do I know; but not me. This morning I got up late, after four o’clock, acknowledged mother nature and old father time, cursed the clock and snuggled snugly back under the sheet on the bed in the Bay bedroom thinking of nothing but to doze until time to walk three hours thence. As sleep returns, suddently a buzz and a flashing light. My phone with me all night in case Tass, Malinda or Kristen calls, I leap up awake, alert, alarmed. Linda’s iPhone flashing news: in response to U.S. indictment FIFA officials have been arrested on corruption charges.

My older model iPhone sleeps on. But not I. Damn the instant news anyway.

Maybe this is the morning to write about bathroom habits. By late high school years it became necessary to shave every morning. Razor with doubled-edge Gillette blade that I changed every couple days, dropping used blade down slot in side of medicine cabinet: nine thousand years hence, archeologists will be able to tell much about our civilization. Brush with bone handle. Smelling nice, marked “Yardley,” and shaped to fit the palm, a small wooden bowl with wooden lid. The good old days were best. Wet brush, vigorous circle motion on soap in wooden bowl, lather face, shave. Stiptic wet and ready. Run stripe of Ipana full length of toothbrush, brush teeth with mouthful of foam, spit, rinse, spit. 

Some years later, in response to cute and catchy roadside signs, I switched to a can of Burma Shave. Per instructions on can, shake can, squirt golfball-size ball of shaving creme into other hand, lather face, shave with Schick razor, click-click dispenser changes instantly, easily, daily if feeling flush, without slicing finger tips and less wear on stiptic pencil to dab bloody chin.

Life moves from 18 toward 81. Pea-size is sufficient. Pea-size drop of Crest and swish with FoxListerine.  Pea-size dab of Barbasol (89 cents a can, cheapest for the cheap): purpose is not to soften the beard anyway but to paint the face white so I can tell where still needs scraping with the everlasting Gillette that needs a new blade annually.

Another day: sacred shampoo story.

From the ridiculous to the sublime.

Walking day, but I can't remember whether it's seven, seven-fifteen, or seven-thirty. 


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Lemme Loose

Evenings when weather is right I'm outside on the balcony. It’s good at the moment, light breeze, sound of little kids laughing, talking, running on the boardwalk in the city park below. Linda is inside with a book and the television on, and probably her iPad, maybe scrolling Facebook but for sure checking how to have healthy hydrangeas and how to make them pink and how to make them blue. This weekend we brought two hydrangeas in pots from the house, one of each color. 

About dark last eveing I went back to the house to rescue something my nephew Mike wanted: the door jam in the kitchen that my parents used for nearly forty years to mark the growth of grandchildren. I’m pretty sure everybody’s on there, including great-grandchildren. Family history that I didn't have the heart to toss it when we remodeled the kitchen in 2002, I tucked it away in a garden shed that we called "the half-house" because the front door of it was the old front door of the house and on the door we had the numerals 2308 1/2. This evening the house and that door post became a family topic on Facebook. Mike said he wanted the post and I went immediately and got it. Obviously, I'm not the only sentimental one, and I'm delighted someone will cherish it. I only wish I could have given someone the house to go with it.

Seldom but now and then I use this evening outside time to draft what may or may not be my blog post the next morning. Most often better judgment prevails after a night’s sleep and in the wee hours I reread and find it was too frank and revealing of the grouchy old man -- grouch and grieve -- and I ditch it and write something rational. But I like tributes written over the weekend about John F. Nash, Jr. and his evident disdain for forcing oneself to be rational because that’s what’s expected of one. If +Time and I are still together after I retire from all responsibility to others, I may say the hell with what’s expected and set loose who I really am. Monster at large.

We have our Tuesday Bible Seminar this morning, usual time and place, final gathering for the Spring 2015 season. My intention is to open the discussion for people to share personal experiences of Pentecost, and then have a hack at one more chapter of the Gospel according to John before recessing for the summer.

Salty outside this morning, humid and salty.


Monday, May 25, 2015


Zero dark thirty and the third day of a good three day weekend for Memorial Day. What is it? Well, Tass and family are here, and Malinda and Kristen have come, all of whom make my moments perfect. The condo is still quiet, everyone but me sleeping. I won’t allow the mind to think past noon, when remnants of the carrot cake Linda baked for Jeremy’s birthday will be packed up along with girls and stuffed animals. My girls make my life.

From the balcony porch and front window we look out on the breadth and distance of St. Andrew Bay. Saturday morning early the Bay began filling up with boats zipping across to Shell Island, continuing until afternoon. I wondered if the beach scene was anything like this

Mid-afternoon the boats started flowing this way like an incoming tide. As I watched them, with yet another round of dermatology zaps on my head, I hoped nobody got as sunburned as I did so many times at the beach sixty and seventy years ago. Sunburn has reared its ugly head: mine.

Memorial Day, with the obligatory guilt trip remarks that everyone ought to remember it’s not about a day off, a long weekend, a picnic, the start of summer, that it’s about being thankful for those who gave their lives in national service. Flanders Fields, Let’s Remember Pearl Harbor, Decoration Day. 58195 names on The Wall. Before lunch, on the way back from buying fried chicken at Publix, I’ll wear my U.S. Navy Retired cap with scrambled eggs on the bill and visit a couple friends. I appreciate.

I appreciate, and appreciated being appreciated. Bit of bitterness creeps in. Returning from the Vietnam War in the late 1960s and early 1970s, we were advised not to wear the uniform in public, because we were apt to be harassed or spit on. And we were — by people who didn’t have sense enough, were too gardenia alphabet stupid, to realize that the unpopular war was not our doing but the work of the politicians they voted for. However, a nation with narcissistic personality disorder never looks in a mirror and spits, but always finds someone else to blame.

On Memorial Day this is not a grouse, but a memory. I’m thankful for the Day, and most of all for my beloveds.

Commander, USNavy (Retired)

Sunday, May 24, 2015

a rushing wind violent

Frightening. Scary.

Over the years our other readings for this day have varied, but we always hear Luke’s story at Acts 2 of the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples gathered in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost. It must have been terribly exciting, even frightening, scary. “And suddenly there came from heaven ἦχος ὥσπερ φερομένης πνοῆς βιαίας a sound as of a rushing wind violent, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.” 

It isn’t as if this were the first time the wind, spirit, breath of God shows up in Bible stories. In fact, it was there from the very beginning of our history with God, before the word was spoken to bring order out of chaos; and on the day God fashioned an earthling and breathed life into us; and upon Saul and upon the Lord's beloved David. And the post-resurrection appearance on the evening of Easter Day when Jesus came into the midst of his disciples and breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit.” Whether the word is ruach or pneuma, the bursting sound of it carries the sense of it. 

But this is the first story of the Spirit coming upon an assembly of what will be the church. The mental picture of cloven tongues of flame dancing upon people’s heads gives us the excuse to wear red today. After all our own recent moving and shuffling, I hope I can find my fiery red orange stole that I bought at Redeemer, Houston when Linda, Tass and I went out to Texas in 1985 soon after Nicholas was born. The stole is somewhere around, but I think that parish may have disappeared, a shame because at the time they were the center of pentecostal revival in the Episcopal Church. Redeemer, Houston gave us many wonderfully uplifting music, songs, hymns. We worshiped with them that Sunday morning exactly thirty years ago, our own personal day of Pentecost, and we have felt the joy of their mountaintop ever since, being right in the middle of the charismatic renewal of the late 20th century. 

Back to Jerusalem where I’m trying to know that sound of a rushing, violent wind. It must have been like my father’s memory of seeing a tornado out the school window one day in the twenties when they lived in Ocilla, Georgia. He said it stretched up into the sky, and sounded like a freight train. 


Saturday, May 23, 2015


Strip of lights to the east is downtown Panama City, due south between me and Shell Island and spread out among the channel marker lights are a few shrimp boats working St. Andrew Bay, strip of lights to the west is the east end of Panama City Beach. 

Way too early to operate my magical coffee machine for a cuppa Kona, so a mug of Community coffee and a small glass of Bulgarian style buttermilk from the Tyndall commissary. 

Pentecost tomorrow, on the Christian calendar the fiftieth day after Easter dawn. We celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit into the church as told in the story at Acts chapter 2, and wear red to commemorate the tongues of flame that Luke mentions dancing on the heads of the disciples.

Holy Spirit is a mystery, I suppose. Doubtful eisegetic scholarship perhaps, but I like to perceive the Holy Spirit as far back as Genesis 1, “In the beginning Elohim created the heavens and the earth, and the earth was chaos, and vacant, and darkness was upon the face of the abyss; and the (ruach, πνευμα, breath, wind) spirit of Elohim moved over the surface of the waters, and Elohim is saying (this saying I like to understand as logos, the creating word whom Gospel John defines as Jesus Christ) ‘let there be light …’ and there was light.” So, there’s the Holy Spirit already vibrating, moving and shaking; and already knowing what I intended to find, I went into Genesis chapter one and read and found it. In fact, there’s the whole Trinity, all three of them. That it isn’t a rabbinical understanding bothers me not in the least: a story belongs to the reader.

But my favorite impression of the Holy Spirit might be from a summer 2013 Ignatian retreat,my spiritual advisor characterizing the Holy Spirit as “Mary’s husband.” I was astonished, but there’s naught to be gained by arguing. Thinking to “correct” someone about how to understand a story that’s just as much his as mine is arrogance personified, and I’m not that. Besides, faith is not knowledge, it’s making up your own mind about things unseen.  

Today is Jeremy's birthday, and the four beloveds are coming over from Tallahassee to celebrate with us. Ribs and carrot cake.

There are mosquitos out here, I’m going inside.

Hey, it's almost tomorrow.


Friday, May 22, 2015

What do Episcopalians believe? is a question

What do Episcopalians believe? is a question that’s lately been working on me more than I’ve been working on the question. It’s a question that may have less of an answer than it has questions. Only once in my years of wearing this goofy collar has the question been put to me in the nature of get-it-right-or-it’s-a-deal-breaker. Years ago a newcomer to Apalachicola came to Trinity a few times and was welcomed and taken in, “adopted” so to speak. Telling me that she liked the people and liked our worship, including our music and our prayers and the eucharist, she made an appointment to come talk with me. She wanted to make sure we believed the same as her church back home where she grew up, or she’d have to keep looking. 

No, come to think of it, a second instance comes to mind. Same town and church. A man, lifelong resident and businessman, came a few Sundays. He was a Baptist, I knew him at Rotary, but knew him anyway because it’s a small town, 2,500 people, where nobody doesn’t not know everybody. After his second or third Sunday I asked if he’d like to talk with me about becoming a member. He said, “No, because I just noticed that you pray for the dead. That’s against the Bible. Jesus said leave the dead to bury their dead.” 

So, what do we believe? My first question might be “what do we believe about what?” About God? About Jesus? About the Bible? About liturgical worship? About written prayer? About eucharist, holy communion, the Lord’s supper? About the real presence of Christ in the bread and wine? About the virgin birth? About the Trinity? About the resurrection? About life after death? Okay, about praying for the dead? About the priest’s power and authority in the confession of sin and absolution? I’m going to work at one question, but first, a logos from our Creator:

What do we believe about God? (a) One way to get an answer is to worship with us and pay attention to what we do and say and sing and pray. We have a Latin phrase lex orandi lex credendi translated the law of praying is the law of believing: our theology (what we believe about God) is found in our worship. We don’t have an official theologian, or an official confession, or a curia or library, we have our worship. 

An example might be the second instance above, the local man who paid attention and noticed prayer for the dead: “And we also bless thy holy Name for all thy servants departed this life in thy faith and fear [especially                       ], beseeching thee to grant them continual growth in thy love and service.” 

(b) Another way to get answers is to know that our doctrine is the historical doctrine of the universal Christian church. Thumb through the Book of Common Prayer, read the Nicene Creed and the Baptismal Creed (Apostles’ Creed) that are ancient belief statements of the Christian church; read the catechism (a teaching in question and answer format). Read the Historical Documents in the back of the book, including the Quicunque Vult and the Articles of Religion, keeping your sense of humor and remembering that your mind is as good as the mind of any old bishop. Read the examination questions for those about to be baptized, read the examination and assurance required of one about to be ordained. It’s all there if you look for it. 

(c) My favorite answer might be to enjoy worship and especially friendship and fellowship in a church that goes back two thousand years, whose doctrines are those of the ancient church, and make up your own mind what you believe. No two people in the sanctuary on a Sunday morning believe exactly the same thing, and nobody is going to make sure you are “orthodox” before opening the door for you or as you come down the aisle to receive Holy Communion. None of us worries about what the person sitting, standing or kneeling next to us believes; and, believe me, we’re all different.

And my standing slogan: just because we believe it, that don't make it so. 


Thursday, May 21, 2015

that, creeping slow

that, creeping slow

Yesterday morning, Wednesday our walking day, while waiting for Robert I walked from where my car was parked on Linda Avenue north to 2nd Court, saw a mom and son get out of their car and walk across the stone drive toward the lower elementary school entrance. John Greenleaf Whittier’s poem “In School-days” came to mind. The little boy’s mother walked spritely ahead, he, as I would have done at his age, trailing slowly behind, head down. We never change: boys are boys from age to age, and I am glad to have been one of them with summer vacation about to start and three months to play in the dense woods around our house on Massalina Bayou. The most wonderful thing that could happen in any boy’s life is to have been an American boy growing up. 

And in an American father’s life, the most wonderful thing that could have happened is to have had ten little girls like mine.   

We’re walking this morning because Robert mixed days and plans yesterday and we didn’t walk. Well, I walked around the school while pacing sidewalks waiting for. But the serious walk didn’t come off, instead I filled the car tank with gasoline because the low fuel warning light came on to stay, its alarm tone sounding ominously. Stopped at dermatology for a walk-in zap: one spot he said, “that has to be gone, if it’s still there in six weeks, call and tell them I said let you in.” Is that scary? At this bus stop in life nothing about self is scary, everything is about others. Came home for a cucumber sandwich breakfast, a favorite.

Less is better: with three rooms instead of seventeen, eighteen counting the huge attic, there’s no room for clutter, so instead of one, I now have three places to sit and love life. By the living room window looking across my Bay, the blue velvet chair mama had reupholstered forty, fifty, sixty years ago and gifted to me twenty or thirty ago. Asa McNeil’s wife had the upholstery shop. Asa was a fisherman early; for a while in the late 40s or early 50s he worked in my father’s seafood business before becoming a PCPD policeman. Now and then he’d swing by in uniform on his motorcycle.

We’ve arranged the Bay bedroom with a sitting area. Facing the TV, Linda’s chair is the platform rocker mama reupholstered when Nicholas was little. Mine faces the Bay, the blue lift chair we gave mama on her 98th birthday. She never managed the controls. My third spot is one of those wedge shaped bed lounge cushions. It has a light but in the move the light cord disappeared. Anyway, all three have good lower back support and a pillow, are good for reading, blogging, dozing off.

Still sits the school-house by the road,
   A ragged beggar sleeping;
Around it still the sumachs grow,
   And blackberry-vines are creeping.

Within, the master’s desk is seen,
   Deep scarred by raps official;
The warping floor, the battered seats,
   The jack-knife’s carved initial;

The charcoal frescos on its wall;
   Its door’s worn sill, betraying
The feet that, creeping slow to school,
   Went storming out to playing!

Long years ago a winter sun
   Shone over it at setting;
Lit up its western window-panes,
   And low eaves’ icy fretting.

It touched the tangled golden curls,
   And brown eyes full of grieving,
Of one who still her steps delayed
   When all the school were leaving.

For near her stood the little boy
   Her childish favor singled:
His cap pulled low upon a face
   Where pride and shame were mingled.

Pushing with restless feet the snow
   To right and left, he lingered;—
As restlessly her tiny hands
   The blue-checked apron fingered.

He saw her lift her eyes; he felt
   The soft hand’s light caressing,
And heard the tremble of her voice,
   As if a fault confessing.

“I’m sorry that I spelt the word:
   I hate to go above you,
Because,”—the brown eyes lower fell,—
   “Because, you see, I love you!”

Still memory to a gray-haired man
   That sweet child-face is showing.
Dear girl! the grasses on her grave
   Have forty years been growing!

He lives to learn, in life’s hard school,
   How few who pass above him
Lament their triumph and his loss,

   Like her,—because they love him.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

What time do you get up?

From time to time someone asks “what time do you get up mornings?” Sunday and Tuesday I have mental work to do preparing for the morning, and if I’m not up by three it puts me behind and unprepared, but sometimes it’s as late as four anyway. Other days it varies. If two or even three, I may lie down in the other bedroom and try to resume sleep, which may come; like this morning up at three I slept until just after five. If four, I make coffee, Kona if I have the beans, in my magical machine and begin enjoying being alive. I may start writing a blog post, which is not to entertain but to help keep my mind from calcifying, which it's doing anyway. Now and then, it’s too late to blog before my exercise and the blog gets done later. Once in a while I decide, as now, I’m tired of this nonsense, besides I’m becoming Balaam (Numbers 22), I’m quitting. But at this age the mental exercise of thinking and writing is fully as important as the physical exercise, maybe even more so. I like to read. I don’t read the newspaper except online snatches of NYT, TWP, CSM, and a handful others. I don’t watch TV, can hardly bear the sound of it being on, so I read or write. Nor listen to the radio in my car, can’t stand the sound of it intruding into beloved silence. But dislike that the blogpost lets the world observe me devolving — one of Anu Garg’s recent words — into cantankerous, grouchy, opinionated, disgusted, sometimes angry and bitter, now and then vicious, generally politically incorrect but stuff it. But that’s the way it is and unfortunately I’m as human as can be. So leave it up, only one time in five years have I deleted a post the next day: leave it up to document my slipping into the abyss. At least I’m not certain of anything; especially my harebrained opinions.

This blogpost probably should have been two or three paragraphs. 

Okay, this makes three.


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Pogo for President

Since Dzhokhar was sentenced to death there’s much going round and in the press about capital punishment. I keep writing about it then deleting instead of tapping Publish. To be honest, which is the idea, my view from the seventh floor isn’t worth any more than any other American’s opinion even though I think it is. 

Frankly, if Dzhokhar weren’t so young and cute, and I suppose sexy with that tousled head of hair and innocent who me look, people wouldn’t be so up tight about killing him. But that’s not the issue, is it. The creature is as evil as we get.

My opinion is that there’s no space on earth nor breathing room in the atmosphere for anyone who hurts or kills a child, and my heart doesn’t bleed when executions of such monsters are botched. 

Here’s my problem. Government by Administration has bred nests of slithering certitudinous mediocrities. To my chagrin, even the FBI, whom I've admired and felt essential to public safety and security, recently proved this about themselves beyond all shadow of moral challenge when it was disclosed that "Nearly every examiner in an elite FBI forensic unit gave flawed testimony in almost all trials in which they offered evidence against criminal defendants over more than a two-decade period before 2000," the newspaper (TWP) reported, adding that "the cases include those of 32 defendants sentenced to death.” My problem is shame: the lack of honesty and integrity in government seeking convictions at all cost regardless of truth. With no saving grace, government cannot be trusted, which means that our system is — flawed is a weak weasel-word. The word is disgusting. Shameful. Immoral. Incompetent. Lacking human decency. Contemptible. This is why we have the Second Amendment: not for squirrel hunting or for deer season or for shooting up rival motorcycle gangs or even for castle law. It’s because our national origin is historically based in our need and ultimate right to rid ourselves of evil government.    

There are crimes so heinous that, given our constitutional prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment, anything other than the death penalty is morally reprehensible. But we cannot trust overzealous government to bring only those cases before our juries for capital prosecution. Government is its own case against itself. Government, of course, is of, by, and for the people. So Pogo again, "We have met the enemy and he is us."


Monday, May 18, 2015

Eighty and Still in First Place

Back from the Monday morning walk, grilled a cube steak for breakfast as an open-faced sandwich, with a mug of Kona here on my -- never sure whether to call it a porch or a balcony. It’s about square and the size of the small bedroom, a room in the building, not just a jut-out. Porch, I guess, eh.

One of the great things about it is the clouds that drift from over the Gulf of Mexico and cross the Bay. When I first came outside, this was the view. 

That’s Davis Point to the left, Shell Island in the distance and even if the pic isn’t that good, the early fog has cleared and I can see into the Gulf beyond Shell Island. The Pass is to the right, behind Courtney Point.

Within a few minutes the main cloud changed from a wispy thing to bulky with a dark bottom like it might want to rain.

On the walk this morning, we stopped at one of the benches along E. Beach Drive and watched two yellow boats darting here and there, Robert tells me they test boat motors for Mercury.

Before Robert arrived at our meeting place on Linda Avenue behind Cove School, I snapped a couple pics of something I’ve noticed before.

Didn’t have my HNES keys with me so couldn’t get inside the playground to check it out on the other side; but the old chain link fence has been there long years, and a tree has grown up against it, apparently absorbing the fence. 

I say apparently, but that’s how it looks. The old fence is rusty and shabby, maybe one day the HNES school board will replace it. If so they’ll have to cut down this tree and it will be possible to find out if tree and fence have actually become one.

Robert was always our class athlete, at Cove School and then at Bay High. He’s done it again: this past weekend he beat me in the race to eighty. His daughters, whom he is as emotional about as I am about mine, surprised him by arriving from their faraway places and they had a wonderful birthday celebration weekend catching up, feasting, and enjoying the beach. In September I’ll catch back up with Robert, and then the race is on again to see who can make it to ninety. Actuarial: the SS life expectancy chart says 87.6 for me, for him it says 88.1. Looks like he’ll beat me again.

Shrimp boat from St. Andrews Marina on the way out.

TW in +Time with no time-outs left, and not counting

Sunday, May 17, 2015

One Reason Why I Am An Episcopalian

Besides that I was born one why am I an Episcopalian? Because it’s part of the ages of ages. Because Old Testament hospitality to strangers trumps Church rules about who can come to Supper. Because it's part of the ages of ages. Because it is okay that my pervasive doubt is the pillar and buttress of my tottering faith. Because it’s part of the ages of ages. Because I can pshaw the Nicene Creed even as I stand and say it. Because it’s part of the ages of ages. Because I don’t have to leave my brain at the door when I come to church. Because it’s part of the ages of ages. Because I don’t have to accept the dogma of superstitious old men from hundreds of years ago. Because it’s part of the ages of ages. Because it is good practice for heaven where nothing is sung but Anglican Chant. Because it’s part of the ages of ages. Because we can count back more than five thousand years. Because it’s part of the ages of ages. Because it's okay to see that a story is just a story. Because it's part of the ages of ages. Because I can hear God's song in the silence of space beyond the stars, stretching to the edge of this universe and beyond to the next, billions of eons in every direction. Because it's part of the ages of ages. Because it's okay to realize that the Big Bang and the Logos hum the same tune. Because it’s part of the ages of ages. Because its worship and theology are not the thinking of some local fool. Because it’s part of the ages of ages. Because I can love my children whom I see and touch more than I love the Unseen. Because it's part of the ages of ages. Because I am free to pick the Bible to pieces. Because it’s part of the ages of ages. Because I am at home worshiping in any Episcopal church in the land. Because it’s part of the ages of ages. Because I believe that my children are God’s love for me. Because it’s part of the ages of ages. Because I don’t have to believe what everyone else believes. Because it’s part of the ages of ages. Because it isn’t changing trendy from year to year. Because it’s part of the ages of ages. Because it’s about agápe. Because it’s part of the ages of ages. Because it’s not about right or left wing political agenda. Because it’s part of the ages of ages. Because we can worship together and be friends even though your candidate for president is a nutcase. Because it’s part of the ages of ages. Because I don’t have to hide my bottle of malbec in the check out line. Because it’s part of the ages of ages. Because I don’t have to rationalize God. Because it’s part of the ages of ages. Because I don’t have to justify God with Achen at Ai. Because it's part of the ages of ages. Because faith doesn’t require me to be an insufferable idiot who smugly says I believe this even though I know damn well it ain’t so. Because it’s part of the ages of ages. Because I don’t have to walk meekly to Moriah with Moses and Isaac. Because it's part of the ages of ages. Because I can be both a scientist and a Christian. Because it’s part of the ages of ages. Because evolution isn’t a four-letter word. Because it’s part of the ages of ages. Because the Big Bang doesn’t cause me to bury my head in the sand. Because it’s part of the ages of ages. Because nobody says literal and inerrant. Because it’s part of the ages of ages. Because this Bread means Jesus loves me. Because it’s part of the ages of ages. Because I can think for myself. Because it’s part of the ages of ages. Because I can laugh at the talking snake. Because it’s part of the ages of ages. Because I can chuckle when a talking jackass shows its master who's the jackass. Because it's part of the ages of ages. Because my "being saved" (whatever that means) is God's problem not mine, and my task is simply to love my neighbor. Because it's part of the ages of ages. Because the Bread means Jesus loves you. Because it’s part of the ages of ages. Because faith is hope, not certitude. Because it's part of the ages of ages. Because the Bread means Jesus loves, loves, loves, loves, loves, and the Bread is for everyone, not just insiders. Because it's part of the ages of ages.

Instructed Eucharist in the nave (sanctuary) this morning. Sunday School class today for those who've already participated in the Instructed Eucharist. As I promised during the confirmation class sessions, let's search out the common elements of our nine Eucharistic Prayers. Come play the game.


Saturday, May 16, 2015

With a shout

With a shout

O God, the King of glory, you have exalted your only Son Jesus Christ with great triumph to your kingdom in heaven: Do not leave us comfortless, but send us your Holy Spirit to strengthen us, and exalt us to that place where our Savior Christ has gone before; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

This collect for the Seventh Sunday of Easter: The Sunday after Ascension Day, was prepared for the 1549 prayer book by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, based on an antiphon sung to Christ at vespers on Ascension Day. Better than most of our collects, it suits the collect’s purpose of collecting the congregation’s focus on the tone of worship that follows. The specified readings for the day are a bit distanced from the theme though; and while I love Psalm 1, which my mother helped me memorize as a child, I do regret that the new lectionary removes the option of experiencing Psalm 47 with its exultant opening “Clap your hands, all you peoples, shout to God with a cry of joy,” and its wonderfully explosive line “God has gone up with a shout, the LORD with the sound of the ram's-horn!” 

Ascension Day is one of the seven Principal Feasts of the church, but nobody these days comes to a service which is always on a Thursday. As a result, nobody gets to hear Luke’s imaginative Bible stories about that fantastical event. So in my years as parish priest I took liberties with my canonical authority, and especially with our remoteness all the way at the far end of the diocese out of the bishop’s oversight, by changing the readings at will. Now my mind is wandering. In a beautiful old historic church, with two genuine pipe organs and a Baldwin grand piano, professional musicians to play and lead, a seriously committed choir of long years dedication, and a faithful congregation who baked fresh, warm, fragrant bread for Eucharist every Sunday morning, we had the most extraordinary worship imaginable for a remote town of 2,500 people. Linda, Tass and I lived there through a golden age.

Every age has its glitter and even the oysters are gone now: bags of oysters are trucked in from Texas, Louisiana and Alabama, shucked in the oyster houses, and shipped back out in containers cleverly labeled to show where they were packed.

This, my alternative to the commentary I wrote last evening on Dzhokhar and our own golden age of America, long past. No age was truly golden, it's all in the eye of the beholder looking back. 

Gone with a shout or a whimper


Friday, May 15, 2015

Hearsay in the night

This is what it was all about, then, wasn’t it: the Rev. Canon Bryan Green preaching persuasively and movingly about “a speck on a speck” and the speck was the planet earth and the speck was me. I find it so easy, from gazing at the stars before dawn, to glancing down at this artist’s image circling a tiny section of our Milky Way galaxy 

to see perfectly clearly that we are out of our minds. Not J, who was not writing theology but poetic irony, someone said perhaps even a children’s bedtime tale, always entertaining, mischievous, sometimes capricious, at points frightening, even leave the light on scary. But P, especially P to trounce the mythologies of Babylon and the nature gods that those left behind picked up from their Canaanite and Palestinian friends and neighbors during the Exile. Nevermind and not to mention E and D, all merged and meshed into an alphabet guidebook for normative Judaism by R the Redactor and the rabbis. So I think P had it right with the Speaker, though speaking loud, louder, loudest beyond what P imagined; and then J, with the elohim delightedly spotting a livable place among the stars, having J’s eyeh coming to play in the mud and coincidentally getting things started and in love with us ever since. More than agápe, love that is a feeling after all, even storgē, he dotes on us: could I believe that of one who said to me in the night, “I AM speaking to you, Tom Weller.” 

If I want it to be so, and if faith is deciding to accept the evidence of things not seen no matter how implausible, I reckon I can at least let that much light shine in to my darkness.


The Reverend Canon Bryan Green (1901-1993) was a foremost British evangelist who preached to us at St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Harrisburg the spring of 1980.

And with apologies to self for constant repetitive use of the Milky Way image, which I just can't seem to shake off and be shed of.

Thursday, May 14, 2015


Interesting and affirming to find the J writer’s Yahweh whom I finally met in Harold Bloom’s The Story of J has indeed been with me all my life. Nearly eight decades have I known this storied companion with whom I am, as Bloom says, incommensurate. He likes that word, incommensurate, Bloom does; and its what, corollary?, commensurate. And normative, Bloom likes that word also. That is to say, he likes the word he uses to speak of religion as humans have evolved it; religion beginning with J and ultimately delivered to us in scripture by R: faith of our fathers, holy faith of Jesus under which umbrella St. Paul summons us to huddle as we await the imminent coming of God’s reign on earth.

Earthy and ironic, playing in the mud he finds on the surface of this world, J’s Yahweh fashions, for no apparent reason, perhaps coincidentally, a mud doll. Blowing into it, he fills it with being; including somewhat regrettably a mind and will of its own. Nevertheless, befriends it. Makes a garden for it to live in and care for, and puts it in charge. Walks there and chats with it, unlike the vaporous spirit of P, E, D and eventually R. Teases it (sometimes a more apt word is torments it), cuts it in two to create for it companionship of its own kind. Plants fruit trees, tells Hava and Adam not to eat the most delicious and beautiful fruit. When in conversation with a fabulous talking animal they eat anyway, impetuously and inexplicably punishes them all out of proportion to their curiosity; and seems impishly to relish doing so. But in self-contradictory irony, sews clothes for them before sending them off. 

Seems to want them to emulate him but when they try, thwarts them out of what, insecurity? Reluctance to have them join the heavenly company of Elohim? -- who later meet Abram outside his tent and, after a hospitable dinner under the shadetree, tolerate Abram’s company and presumptuousness on their walk to Sodom. But destroy Sodom anyway, why? Because its residents are inhospitable? 

Extracted as best possible from the normative pottage that R has stirred of J, P, E, D and parts-is-parts, J’s Yahweh is, so Bloom finds, an impish, self-contradictory, impetuous human-all-too-human character of enigmatic irony. Who by the end of J’s story, has created an unmanageable self-destructive nightmare. Rather tired of them, and with other and better things to do than be our constant keeper at any event, leaves us to manage as best we can and withdraws into the company of the Elohim who, like he himself, wonder why he did this in the first place.

Fog this morning: are You there, eyeh, is that You?


Wednesday, May 13, 2015


Daddy's girl

Last evening on the Historic Vehicle Association News I watched a delightful video in which an elderly woman showed a 1934 Chrysler Airflow sedan and reminisced about it, the car and the trips her family took in it, including the time they pulled a large travel trailer across country and over a high mountain pass, and a picture of that memory. Original and immaculate, the Chrysler had been her daddy’s car. In a photo of the car with her standing in front of it with her family, I reckon she was six years old at most, so if the car was new she would be 87 now. As she finished narrating the little video she added, “I was daddy’s girl.”

She was daddy’s girl, I reckon. I reckon she was, and I know how that is, “daddy’s girl.” And I was thinking what a blessing she was to him, and he to her, filled his life with love, and it seemed pretty clear that the love went both ways such that if one laughed the other was happy, if one hurt or was afraid the other wept, if one rejoiced that was all it took to fill the other's heart up to busting. I know how that is too, all of it, and I was touched at the love still between them stretching across time and the ages. So car and girl and love get mixed, stirred up in my mind, heart and soul. We live at the condo now; but when we lived at the house, one of my dread moments was when daddy’s girl left after an always too short visit. The car backing out and driving slowly away as the horn toots, and turning the corner, and me waving at her, and her waving back at me and then her car window goes up and she heads back into her own real life, and here I am left in memory. 

Several years ago my mother watched that scene yet one more time again, suitcases taken out, the car packed, hugs and kisses, and the car’s people get in, the car backs out and I stand in the middle of the street and wave as the car turns the corner and drives away with its little family of four: a man, a woman nearly middleaged with touches of gray in her hair, and two more little girls. That Sunday afternoon as I went back in the house I overheard mama say to Linda, “She’ll always be his baby.” 


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Papa's girl

This morning we will be on our way home from Atlanta, where yesterday we proudly attended the commencement ceremony, Kristen receiving her bachelor's degree from Emory University.

Keynote speaker for the graduation was Salman Rushdie, an author whose fiction is exquisite with intricate detail. Midnight's Children, a long novel following and interweaving the lives of several people, strangers to each other, all born, with special almost occult powers, simultaneous with the independence and partition of British India into Pakistan and India at midnight August 15, 1947, is one of my most gripping books ever. Rushdie's talk in the Emory quadrangle yesterday morning, prodding the graduates and jabbing sharply at the world's ignorance, prejudice and stupidity, was caustic perfection for the commencement address at this private multicultural institution of excellence and intellectual freedom. Parts of his speech had me shaking uncontrollably with laughter. I hope it will be available online for download. A member of Emory faculty for the past decade or so, Rushdie said that in common with the graduates he also was completing the Emory chapter of his life, and returning home. Like his life as a whole, Sir Salman (the queen knighted him years ago) is fascinating, unconventional, extraordinary, anything but run of the mill. His courses must have been a riotous challenge. Rushdie could make me wish I had been young enough to be his student.

One thing rattled me yesterday. After the graduation ceremony, we got on a university shuttle bus with Kristen, to ride to her dorm where her car was garaged. As I made my way toward the back of the crowded bus, a young woman leapt up and offered me her seat. I wasn’t wearing white collar and black shirt moving down the aisle bestowing blessings with the sign of the cross like a pious old prelate, so reckon it was unusual to see such an antiquated old man on the bus. Her kind gesture brought to mind Jesus’ words in our Sunday gospel about the agape’ love and charity that is not a feeling but courtesy, thoughtfulness, generosity, lovingkindness. Thanking her, I declined and moved on toward the seat next to Linda in the back of the bus. 

Thinking back to my own college days, I am so proud of my girl, and happy for her. She majored in economics, the thought and memory of which still makes me shudder from my own econ courses at the University of Florida and the University of Michigan. The theorems, math, formulas, graphs, trends, factors to factor in, factor, factor out and analyze blew me away then and now. I am no economist or economic theorist. Kristen's minor was religion, which I loved hearing about and getting involved in with her as much as possible. 

We pray, after breakfast, more coffee, and negotiating the nation's worst traffic, all to be home early afternoon.