Friday, July 31, 2015


gggggggGggGgggggg Wunderlich or American Typewriter then. Or Chalkduster. No. Unless the font is the message, and it isn't. Sometimes the font is distracting and Chalkduster is that unless Tom is what? selling ice cream on the boardwalk? For what one might use Chalkduster, IDK, I like its g though it obviously can't hear, and I prefer the ear of AT's g that reminds me of a California quail. But looking at Chalkduster, I hear a fingernail scraping on the blackboard in a classroom somewhere early in the twentieth century, and cringing.

Twelve-something with the blue moon at zenith, now two-oh-three. A small glass of milk and back to bed. Or maybe, having worn the battery down nineteen percent, close the thing and doze in the blue lift chair. My mother used to wake in the night, get up, read awhile then turn out the light and go back to sleep. Seems like eighty is old enough, but I’m forty-five days short.

For some reason, yesterday, browsing online took me by Mark Twain, came across Pudd’nhead Wilson, which I’ve never read, so downloaded and read a few chapters. Two baby boys born the same day, a baby boy who’s 31/32 white, and except for the rags or ribbons can’t be told from the supposedly 32/32 boy next to him, is about to be swapped out by his 1/16 slave mama to save him being sold down the river. Samuel Clemens had the dialects down perfect. But I’ll not resume, because the situs shows there’s no reason for an American to be ashamed of just his German heritage. Would 1/32 still be a Jew in Deutschland? Or a slave in America? Mark Twain is poking at our ludicrosity, but has me cringing in shame. 

Friday: a walking day and breakfast.

as in vaylor

Thursday, July 30, 2015

What would I be?

Who knows where this will go, nobody do, not even The Shadow. Making my coffee in the dark this morning, I decided to have one of Linda’s little creamer pods for a change, picked it up, pulled the top back, and poured it on the coffee machine instead of in the cup. So there was a mess to clean up. When a day starts like that anything can happen, so I’m keeping it strictly under prayerful surveillance.

Anyway this. A couple weeks ago I noticed that those who are using Lectionary B Track Two were reading from Jeremiah instead of the David stories from 2Samuel. Jeremiah comes along after the so-called Eighth Century Prophets of Doom (Isaiah, Hosea, Amos and Micah), and I always enjoy reading Jeremiah, especially because I like the prophet’s story of his call. It’s pretty abrupt and “make-no-mistake-about-it, BuddyBoy.” Jeremiah 1:4-7. Listen:

4 Now the word of the Lord came to me saying, 5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

6 Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy.

7 But the Lord said to me,“Do not say, ‘I am only a boy’; for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and you shall speak whatever I command you...”

Why is this bothering me this morning. Easy. No fundamentalist, literalist or inerrantist Christian, I nevertheless have a sense of “call” that goes way back in my life, in fact goes back seventy years. When I was ten years old, “just a boy” as Jeremiah protested, I first knew that I was going to do this nonsense with my life. I submitted, then when a sophomore at UFla I rebelled and went off in another direction and other directions until I was in my early middle forties. Wouldn't have missed it for the world, though my experience was that finally giving up and giving in was what it took for satisfaction, relief, happiness. The story I’ve told too many times to repeat here this morning, but here I am, still happy. 

Again, what stirred this little bowl of Thursday Soup? In this week, Anu Garg is doing common words that we got from Hebrew. I love this. So far he’s done tohubohu, behemoth, leviathan, and today manna. (leaving the word as links in case anyone wants to explore). I love this, was looking forward to it, and we’ll see what word Anu has tomorrow, Friday. One reason I love this goes to the Jeremiah 1:4-7 passage. If Jeremiah is true (remember my motto, “believing it don’t make it so”), then there’s something to a notion that our souls are separate from our bodies. Sort of like dropping a 4 or 6 or V8 engine into a car, eh. 

Not to offend, but I used to be proud and happy thinking myself of English heritage, something complete and perfect about that. Several years ago when I found out it was not English but German, I was horrified; for a long time almost devastated, because growing up during World War 2, and with the mix of wartime propaganda, and facts culminating in the liberation of the concentration camps that we saw on newsreels, the idea of being one of them was crushing, and the likelihood that Weller (Wäller) cousins would have been among those in the frenzied saluting mobs. It’s been about five years and there’s still a horrid fascination, but maybe I’m resigned.

Jeremiah still, and the thought that I could have been other. Not being English that so pleased me, but German that still does not, what would I choose to have been? Well, either Jewish or Greek so I could be at home and comfortable with the languages of the Bible. Except for the tetragram, I’ve given up on Hebrew, that kind of learning just doesn’t work at this age. But I can still muddle through the language of the New Testament. 

Forming me in the womb, ὦ δέσποτα Κύριε אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה? Make me Greek. Or a Greek Jew, s'il vous plaît.


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Wednesday morning

Sunset 20150727

Everybody who’s going to stop watching or reading the news until this pathetic, humiliated woman Joyce Mitchell is no longer the headlines say “aye.”

In Pennsylvania thirty-something years ago, one of our diocesan priests was chaplain at Camp Hill prison. His name escapes me, but he was retiring and I talked with him about the ministry. He said long years of dealing with selfish people whose only interest was manipulation had exhausted him to a burned out cynic. He did not recommend the ministry to anyone. 

This morning my mind stirs that memory, and Mitchell the Pathetic, and Sunday’s gospel, into a nasty gravy that I don’t want on my grits. In John’s gospel (pasted below) Jesus is offering signs (semeia) of who he is -- the one sent from heaven by God -- and he realizes that the people are not interested in the sign or in what the sign signifies, which is eternal life; all they are interested in is free bread. They have followed him home to Capernaum hoping for another free meal. John has Jesus seem frustrated, cynical and sarcastic; and stepping into John’s story, it’s a wonder to me that Jesus didn’t throw up his hands and quit. He had gotten down to our reptilian center of total selfishness.

Nobody is what others see and remember, deep inside each of us is someone ugly and reptilian known only to self and God, but I lovingly remember my grandfather Gentry as a kind and generous man. He was a Baptist, he and my grandmother raised their five children as Southern Baptists, and after a daughter in law died in 1939, they took in and raised two grandchildren, first cousins whom I dearly loved and loved going to Sunday School and church with them. Daddy Walt drove us in the 1939 Chrysler sedan, then in the 1942 Chrysler sedan, then in the 1946 Chrysler club coupe, then in his 1947 Plymouth club coupe, then in the blue 1949 and black 1950 Chrysler sedans (my grandmother wrecked the blue '49 Windsor, which had been her Mother's Day present that year, another story), and as he parked in his traditional parking spot right on the corner headed out, he handed each of us a nickel for Sunday School offering. 

My growing up years, Daddy Walt signified to me that a Baptist was a generous, kind and loving Christian. And I remember him saying that in the Baptist church “every man interprets the Bible for himself.” I further remember being disappointed and disillusioned many years later, in Harrisburg going to a huge assembly where Jerry Falwell was forming a chapter of the “Moral Majority” and watching Dr. Falwell on television over the years, hearing a message that Christians had to believe that every word of the Bible was inerrantly, literally true, and that one must accept Christ as Personal Savior so that one could be “as sure for heaven as if you were already there.” The Baptist message had changed incredibly from what I had heard and seen in my grandfather all my growing up years, to a selfish gospel in which what mattered was “being saved,” a feat one accomplished for oneself by walking down an aisle and accepting Christ. The same as tracing Jesus to Capernaum for another free meal.

In defense of the Baptist side of me that I still love when I think of Daddy Walt, I don’t totally see that anymore. The outreach ministries of places like St. Andrews Baptist Church seem to be everything that, in my understanding, Jesus taught and preached. The adage “every man interprets the Bible for himself” seems to have given way to a dogma of literalism and inerrancy that I find stifling, oppressive, narrow and intolerable, but the heart of what I see seems good. Maybe more like Luke than John. I don’t know. I do know that I do my own thinking. Me and Daddy Walt.


John 6:24-35 Disciples’ Literal New Testament (DLNT)

24 So when the crowd saw that Jesus was not there, nor His disciples, they got into the small boats, and went to Capernaum seeking Jesus.
25 And having found Him on the other side of the sea, they said to Him, “Rabbi, when have You come here?” 

26 Jesus responded to them and said, “Truly, truly, I say to you— you are seeking Me not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves-of-bread and were filled-to-satisfaction. 27 Do not be working for the food which is perishing, but for the food which is remaining to eternal life— which the Son of Man will give to you. For God the Father certified this One”.

28 So they said to Him, “What may we be doing in order that we may be working the works of God?” 

29 Jesus responded and said to them, “This is the work of God: that you be believing in the One Whom that One sent-forth”.

30 So they said to Him, “What then do You do as a sign, in order that we may see it and believe You? What thing do you work? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, just as it has been written [in Ps 78:24]: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat’”. 

32 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, Moses has not given you the bread from heaven, but My Father is giving you the true Bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is the One coming down from heaven and giving life to the world”.

34 So they said to Him, “Master, give us this bread always”. 

35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. The one coming to Me will never hunger, and the one believing in Me will never ever thirst.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

tossed to and fro

PCNH this morning, Linda showed me, front page of the B section, has an interesting article with pictures of what is being done along Lisenby Avenue (east of Lisenby, north of 11th Street, south of K-Mart, and west of Lake Caroline, to box it in). Watching the construction happen, I thought it was just fancy fenced-in drainage, but turns out it’s another nice park with a walking area, and intended to improve water quality in Lake Caroline and ultimately to help improve water quality in St. Andrew Bay. That is good news, and impressive. My further thought is that if the authorities truly want to improve the Bay they must open the Old Pass so that circulation is possible instead of stagnancy and the slow filling in with marshy area and that makes Shell Island actually a peninsula not an island. What was the name of that barrier before the new Pass was cut, when you would have been able to walk from the Long Beach Casino all the way down to the (Old) Pass? I’d have to ask my grandfather. 

But that’s not what’s occupying Uncle Bubba’s twisted, twisting and turning mind. What I was doing when Linda handed me the PCNH was/is reading through lectionary lessons for the upcoming Sunday. The OT reading continues the forgettable story of David & Bathsheba, but with God’s mercy nevertheless and notwithstanding. Turns out David is no better or worse than the rest of us, and it’s all (2Samuel is all) the post-Solomon court reporter’s story of David’s life and leading up to the reign of Solomon anyway, and without Bathsheba you can’t have Solomon -- how much of this graphic little πόρνη is “agenda” to get to Solomon, IDK. In “Children’s Time” last Sunday I sure couldn’t tell the kiddiewinks what David had been up to. So this morning I’m taking a break from the OT’s Sunday School stories and browsing the Ephesians reading. 

Sunday’s reading is Ephesians 4:1-16. This is our fourth Sunday reading in Ephesians, which I have been ignoring. Bit of introspection: why have I been ignoring it, why do I not like Ephesians? IDK, it’s subconscious or at least unconscious, I haven’t thought about it. Maybe because deep down I agree with scholars who say it’s dated 80 to 100 AD, not from St. Paul, and based on Colossians (50-80 AD), which itself is contested as to whether Paul wrote it or not. I think it’s psychological with me and I need to worry that. But right now, I’m wandering someplace specific and yet one more time again changing my unsure mind about something.

First, those who were with us for the three services of Holy Baptism that we just had at HNEC will recognize in the Ephesians reading (scroll down, pasted below) where the introduction to the baptism liturgy comes from. Second, my wandering mind traces over to Colossians, so I go read Colossians again, beginning to end. (Reading Colossians start to finish doesn’t take but a few minutes and it’s good stuff, try it, you may like it, Sam I Am).

No, I don’t find Sunday’s Ephesians verses in Colossians, but I find more interesting. So I go read again what some scholars argue about the Pauline authenticity of Colossians. I thought NO, then I thought YES, then I thought NO, now I’m in my favorite place, which is not certain. I despise certainty. Read these three verses: Colossians 2: 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. 

What I find in Colossians, after not having paid much attention to it for twenty or thirty years, is that it may have heavily influenced the high christology of those who framed the Nicene Creed, who thought it came from Paul. So if Paul’s christology was as unchangingly low as I thought, Paul did not write Colossians (AD 80?). But if Paul did write Colossians (AD 50-60?), his christology changed markedly over his several years of ministry and writing. Look at Colossians 2, “… Christ, for in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.”

There are credible scholars on every side. 

I wish I’d explored Colossians again before I insisted last week on Paul’s low christology. Now I’m back to not certain, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine. Jiminy Christmas.

/S/ Waffling Bubba
Ephesians 4:1-16 (NRSV)

1 I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.
7 But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8 Therefore it is said,
“When he ascended on high he made captivity itself a captive;
    he gave gifts to his people.”
9 (When it says, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended [other ancient authorities add first] into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is the same one who ascended far above all the heavens, so that he might fill all things.) 11 The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ. 14 We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. 15 But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.

Monday, July 27, 2015

TheD &etc

Looking up across St. Andrews Bay from the city marina halfway through our walk about six-thirty this morning. We’ll probably go on starting at six until the weather cools a bit. Also, as days dawn later.

Anyone looking to my nonsense for help or spiritual guidance will go unrewarded: crossing the mind in spite of itself is the one called “The Donald,” I sure hope he's having Gulf Coast Pest Control come out and spray that head of hair for mice and roaches. 

I have a nonsensical theory. GovernorPresident C. and SenatorSecretary C. attended one of TheD’s wedding ceremonies. And TheD, according to something I read last week, it may have been a lie, IDK, made a healthy contribution to her last political campaign, and apparently they are friends. I say apparently, because TheD doesn’t seem to remain friends with anyone for long. 

Anyway, my theory is that there’s a strategy. TheD is currently the Republican frontrunner, a sign that a fourth of Republicans like him. And he has stated that if the GOP doesn’t treat him right, he will run as a third party candidate. There ain’t no way the GOP will put TheD on the ticket, and there ain’t no way a Democrat will vote for TheD. He’s a Populist, neither right nor center nor left; a strange mix. The strategy is not that he will be President, a notion beyond the pale, but that he will split the Republican electorate so his friend can easily take the election next year.

Of course, we could have a really interesting spread of candidates from right to left with, say, Ted (who writes me all the time, Dear Thomas, send money), and TheD, and the SenatorSecretary, and Senator Sanders promising everyone free fried chicken every Sunday -- wings and necks.

I'm looking forward to the Republican debates.

ho anaginowskown noeitow.

Have a nice day.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

No-Name Sunday Sermon 20150726

Jesus feeding the five thousand is one miracle or sign that all four Gospel writers remember. It’s “re-member” in the sense of putting the old Sunday School story back together. Each evangelist assembles it differently, with a result like Johnny Cash sneaking out parts from the factory and building a Cadillac one-piece-at-a-time. The synoptics, Mark, Matthew and Luke are most alike — seeing the Savior’s chesed, his lovingkindness, as a powerful act of compassion responding to tired and hungry people in a deserted place far from home.

The Gospel according to John re-members differently: to witnesses in John’s multitude it’s Jesus’ sign that he is the one prophesied by Moses — Moses who also led them and fed them in the wilderness.

Regardless which gospel story we hear, it’s the same event, re-membered differently from writer to writer; but tradition actually identifies a spot high on a mountainside overlooking the Galilean Sea where this took place, and it’s so beautiful that you can long to have been there with Jesus on that beautiful day. Gospel John re-members that day as God the Son lovingly sharing the abundance of his creation. God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God. There’s nothing miraculous or incredible about this story, we are being fed that day, and this day, by the Word “through whom all things were made.” In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth; and the earth was without form, and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God moved over churning chaos; And God said and it was so, the Creating Word.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things came into being through the Word. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us: Jesus Christ, logos, the creating Word. Nothing astounds us that comes out of the power and mouth of God the Word. Just so today, Jesus Feeds the Multitude: our beautiful story and pastoral scene of God loving his people.

+++   +++   +++

In baptism last Sunday morning we renewed our Baptismal Covenant, and we’re renewing again this morning with the baptism of Sawyer Scott Cramer, a tiny boy. The celebrant will say “Let us join with those who are committing themselves to Christ and renew our own baptismal covenant,” and you will stand and say it yet one more time again. We’ve done that so often we almost know it by heart. And there’s a problem with that: do you have any idea what you are saying, what you are doing? Do you have any idea? It’s not just words. This is between you personally and God personally — or do you even believe God exists other than as an idea in songs and pictures and Sunday School stories? Because what you believe is not just in what you say, what you believe is exposed to the world like a naked streaker on a football stadium in how you live

In C.S. Lewis’ story The Great Divorce, the Ghost in Gaiters is a Bishop who’s died and gone to hell and doesn’t realize it. But with others in the story, the Bishop rides the overnight bus up to heaven to see what it’s about. Upon arrival in heaven the Spirit who welcomes him tells him that if he decides to stay in heaven he will actually meet God face to face. Scoffing, the Bishop describes God as “a beautiful idea” but scorns the naive notion that God is real. A self-important, pompous little vapor, he says he will only agree to stay in heaven if he is needed, if he can be useful. The Spirit talking with him says, “Surely you know, there are no needs here! All needs are satisfied!” Before his day in heaven is over, the Ghost in Gaiters gets back on the bus for the return trip to hell, where he is needed: he heads up an evening discussion group of intellectual sophisticates who write dissertations about God, read their “papers” aloud, and critique each other.

Are you a believer? Or a scoffer, one who just stands and says the Creed, the Vow, the Covenant? If you do not take this morning’s promises out of here as the foundation for your life this week, then perhaps you are just one who stands and says. Because if you truly believe God is real, then you cannot possibly lie to God.

There are lots of ways to go from here, but I’m thinking personal, surely about me, maybe about you. It’s 2015, an American election campaign is heating up, hatred is boiling over across the land. The, mean, hateful, scathing name-calling and bitter vitriol of our election campaigns are not the proclamation of Jesus Christ that you promise in your personal covenant with God. By that covenant and the water of baptism, you step into The Way of the Cross, you promise to live your life in a certain way because Jesus lived his life that way. But you see, this week there will be words of contempt and hatred spoken aloud, spread in rumors, posted on the internet and on Facebook. Words filled with malice. If this morning you covenant with God from your heart, you cannot participate in that evil. You cannot participate unless you believe that God is just an idea.

There are three “I believe” questions in the Baptismal Covenant -- "I believe in God the Father, I believe in God the Son, I believe in God the Holy Spirit" -- but the covenant is not about what you believe. In fact, never mind what you believe, as Saint James wrote in holy scripture, “Even the devil believes — and shudders.” The covenant is not about what you believe. The Covenant is your five promises to live your life in a certain way. Will you? Will you? Will you? Will you? Will you?

And have you ever noticed: the promises grow harder, more demanding and personal as the Covenant progresses. This was pointed out to us in last Sunday’s sermon: were you listening, did you take the point? Most important, how did you live this past week? Did you keep your promise to God? You’ll get another chance today, right now: listen —

Will you continue in the apostles' teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers?
Easy one: I will, with God's help.

Will you persevere in resisting evil, and, whenever you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord?O sure, I will with God's help, and besides, the priest always pronounces Absolution anyway, so my sins are cleared.

Will you proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ?
Okay, not sure what that means, so I will, with God’s help. Oh no you don’t! It’s quite clear what that means. It means you commit to be Christ, to become Jesus Christ in all that you say and do: do you mean to keep that promise? If you do, watch your mouth, and your attitudes.

Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?
I guess so. I will, with God’s help. Well, God helps you among other ways, with his word in scripture: 1st John 4:20, “Whoever says ‘I love God,’ but hates another person is a liar.” Hate, like love, is not a feeling, it’s how you treat other people, including malice from your mouth and on the internet.

Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?
Uhhh hmmm, can I get back to you on that? No, you may not. This is the moment of truth. God loves you, and you can only love God by respecting the dignity of every human being — 
  • Every person of every race.
  • Every religion.
  • Every sexual preference.
  • Every political party, left, right or center.
  • Every social origin. Will you?

Will you? Will you? Will you? Will you? Will you? 

Think about it before you make those promises today. This is personal between you and God. And God is not just a beautiful idea.

No-Name. Give it whatever name or title you like. Sermon in Holy Nativity Episcopal Church, Panama City, Florida on Sunday, July 26, 2015. The Rev Tom Weller. Text: John 6:1-14 and The Baptismal Covenant. Printed to keep faith with a promise to a dear friend.


This morning we read Gospel John’s account of Jesus Feeding the Five Thousand. This story is in all four canonical gospels, slightly different in each of the three synoptics, Mark, Matthew and Luke. But writing later, a full generation after Mark when things were changing for and within the church both sociopolitically and theologically, John has it quite different from the others. We’ve talked about this before and often, and it never gets old. 

For John — unlike the synoptics where Jesus is pictured responding compassionately to a crowd of hungry people — John sees Jesus giving the people a sign that he is indeed the prophet like Moses whom Moses prophesied centuries earlier — Moses who led them and fed them in the wilderness, where they are again on this isolated mountainside, led and fed in the wilderness. 

We’re going to look at this in Sunday School this morning, and among other things, we’ll compare John’s story of a sign to Mark’s story that has eucharistic overtones. 

Mary Stuart Poole Library, 9:15 to 10:15. Come early, come on time, come late, but come and enjoy!


Saturday, July 25, 2015

Myths Again, and &

More sleep all in one batch would be nice, but predawn has for years been my favorite time of day, and I wouldn't miss it. The silence, and magnificent lightning in the southern sky far off over the Gulf of Mexico, too distant to hear even the faintest rumble of thunder. Terrific photo ops here, but my camera is on my iPhone and I've not been able to capture the lightning, or zoom shots of birds carrying fish. For better pictures I'll have to do better than iPhone. At any event, about the sleep, if it's really short at night there are morning or early afternoon naps. I mean, I'm retired, baby.

One of an infinite number of enjoyable things about living into this electronic age is the endless availability of information, instantly retrievable. And with that, the discovery and rediscovery of my clueless ignorance, which makes me rejoice that there’s so much more to learn. It's far better than the long gone Britannica we bought in 1968. And just this week two things came along that never occurred to me that, once opened, seem so obvious and ponderable. 

Tuesday, a friend emailed me an article that used a term “Christian LXX.” I have a Septuagint, the Greek language Bible of the Jews dating a couple centuries before Christ, that I've used for years, also for years I’ve used online versions of the Septuagint. I’ve always blithely assumed (yep, I know) that what I’m using is the same the Alexandrian and other Greek-speaking-and-reading Jews used in those centuries BCE, that Jesus and his contemporaries would have used, and that demonstrably the gospel writers used. It is so obvious, but never even swept through my cluttered mind, that the LXX would have been “christianized” in various ways over the centuries before showing up on my computer screen. That realization has been even more helpful to me than the author’s basic premise in his article, a theory that LXX and early Christian writers wrote the Hebrew tetragram instead of a Greek translation such as kyrios when writing the divine name quoting from Jewish scripture. That seems far-fetched until one remembers that those early writers and their copiers were not using computer fonts, typefaces, or setting linotype, but scribing by hand, and it wouldn't matter to them whether they inked down YHWH in Hebrew or Kyrios in Greek. That becomes even more thinkable when one contemplates the scene of a reader reading aloud to a room full of scribes -- both what the reader dares read aloud, and what each scribe hears, understands, and writes. But it has had me worrying a notion that this is how Jesus got so intermingled with YHWH, which I think would have scandalized both him and Paul. Jesus had no idea of a high christology, and in my view Paul the apocalyptic Pharisee (who was not trying to introduce a new or expanded deity but working to unite "the nations" under the banner of the God of Jesus before the eschaton came and it was too late) did not either, including not in Philippians 2:5-11, which we so love to misunderstand. But the idea that mingling the kyrios of YHWH and the kyrios of Jesus in the minds and understandings of early Christian writers and Church Fathers — by confusion and/or intention — has given us our sacred story.

But that isn’t what my aged mind is worrying at the moment. Rather, it’s a extract from last Monday, July 20th, discussing what makes us human. Thought-provokingly its sentence, “The truly unique feature of [Homo Sapiens or Sapiens] language is not its ability to transmit information about the [tangible]. Rather, it's the ability to transmit information about things that do not exist at all.” About theoretical, hypothetical things. It’s talking not just about religion and religious concepts, belief and faith (that too) but about most any human construct that unites us, ties us together, makes us community because we have in common a myth. Illustration may work best when all are strangers, such as strangers at the battlefront fighting for and protecting each other because everybody’s wearing gray and the battleflag fluttering over them signifies their common myth; but I’m thinking in the extreme about stories of two brothers, one in blue and one in gray, confronting each other on the battlefield and some myths are deeper held than others, that is to say, "family" over "nation." For many, including Christian martyrs down through the ages, the sacred story is worth dying for, as Onward, Christian soldiers … with the Cross of Jesus going on before. For others and in other times, including for me, it's a flag that obscures all other symbols and is at the center of my own self-identification. Flag, and its song -- "still there." Flag, song and myth eclipse all others. This is why I do not like the flag in church: if I can see the flag, myths collide and I cannot see the Cross.

Symbols signify, unite. I recall Bishop John Shelby Spong saying that even though he's not literally into the myths they proclaim, he loves the Christmas carols and hymns, loves the music, loves singing them, loves being in the community of God's people. 

That’s enough. It isn’t at all that the myth idea is worrying me, but that my mind is worrying the myth idea. It's one more thing that never before occurred to me in quite this way. So --

"We believe in …" but Seek the Truth, Come Whence It May, Cost What It Will said the lintel over the library door of my Episcopal seminary. Seek, then, and slowly awaken to why you "know" you are what you hold yourself to be, and to why you believe what you claim to believe. And to why sapiens in far lands are willing to kill and die for their very different myths, and we for ours.

Myths are not lies, not fables, not fairy tales, but sacred stories that unite us, make us what we "know" ourselves to be.  


Morning 20150725

Friday, July 24, 2015


Not a clap, a loud, loud deep rumble of thunder woke us at 4:23, then at least one flash of lightning bright enough to light the Beck bedroom even with blinds shut and curtains drawn. So loving a storm, up and at ‘em for the day. Linda inside reading her PCNH with coffee, me outside here on the porch with coffee. Still black dark, can’t see the Bay, but wave action below is quite loud, though not rolling crashing ashore, just lapping up on the beach. And enough wind to breeze around me beautifully.

Photographs were last night at sunset, and judging by this morning’s sky activity, it must have come true somewhat.

Friday: walk day and breakfast after. We take turns paying, I don’t remember whose turn to pay this morning, but not mine, I paid last Friday. Coffee, glass of water, eggs over medium, dry wheat toast. Not dry for health, dry better to soak egg yellow.

If raining at Cove School, we don’t walk.

Golden groves and crystal waters
with their waves so blue … Cove, Cove
dear old Cove
thee we'll never fail ...

Sharing the myth keeps us friends even after 73 years. The myth.

Lightning has stopped, lighting has begun.


Thursday, July 23, 2015


Thursday is coming alive to be nice as imaginable. Right now I’m inside at my magical Window by the Bay after an hour outside on the porch enjoying the cool breeze at seventh floor height, watching as sun and clouds urge the day into being.

This is a spot on earth where one could happily be forever, looking south, east and west across St. Andrews Bay as blue, white, pink and gray eternally shift colors. As flights of pelicans glide close by, between their island at the Port and wherever they go each day. Osprey and lover circle, dive, fly up and away clutching a mullet, shrilly shrieking “Look at me!”

Not just themselves, they must be feeding young, otherwise why the two here early morning and just before sunset — 

The day just keeps getting better and better. How does it go? There are several, here’s one

Morning has broken like the first morning,
Blackbird has spoken like the first bird. 
Praise for the singing! Praise for the morning!
Praise for them, springing fresh from the Word!

W+ willing +Time to go on a bit

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Obsessions of a Split Mind

Keeping a blogpost, somewhat like keeping a frog, is in the same stadium with a journal and a diary, but has a different name because it’s not the same as either just as a frog and a toad are different. We don’t eat toad legs, so in the Resurrection, better be a toad than a frog if those are one’s reincarnation options. Better yet, be a pelican if that's offered, or an osprey. 

Outside on the porch this morning, sunrising in the east, and to the west, gazing right past Courtney Point, those high-rises at Bay Point and on round to the Gulf-front high-rise condos along Thomas Drive. It was not so when I was a boy here, and while the old ways were best, I also love it the way it is this morning. One blessing I love most is that Tyndall Field came to us with WW2 and has stayed, thus preventing greedy development of the land across St. Andrews Bay that I see between Redfish Point and Davis Point.

Here comes a shrimp boat, heading in from all night at sea, someone will eat good today. Is there a moral ethical difference between boiling the fresh shrimp I can buy at Gandy’s or Tarpon Dock, versus boiling what one of the Barber boys used to offer me, knocking on the front door of the rectory at dawn and me buying five pounds of darling little jumbos with their feet still moving? 

This is my all time favorite place to live. The notion of it first came to me, planted itself as a seed and kept growing, in 2007 when we drove down to central Florida on the Atlantic Coast to officiate a wedding. The family kindly lent us a brand new Chevrolet Equinox for the drive, and when we got there it was covered head to toe with lovebugs; and I remember The Man joked, "You get a lovebug on it, you own it!" Anyway, they graciously put us up in a wonderful hotel room high up, looking out over the harbor and right down into the sea and I said, “I could live here.” The upshot is that it don’t git no better’n ‘nishere, and here I am, here we are, living high.

Low and far out clouds over Shell Island are pinking up now, their top peaks welcoming Wednesday dawn. Large dark gray cloud coming at me from over the Gulf, but it’s getting pink shades also.

Two consuming early morning obsessions before starting to blog. Reading again an article a friend sent, “The Tetragram and the New Testament” by George Howard, discussing use of the divine name 
in pre-Christian Greek manuscripts of the Jewish Bible; and theorizing about its use in early Christian documents, with subsequent text editing and development that has  interesting implications not so much for the issue with Psalm 14 that was bothering me yesterday, as especially for responding to the Sunday School and Bible Seminar question “When and how did Jesus of Nazareth become the divine Son of God, and the second figure in the formula 'God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit'?"

Bit hazy out beyond Shell Island, but may clear up, depends on the humidity, I reckon.

The second obsession is from a link in an antique automobile magazine another friend sent me. Studying pictures of 1928 Buick cars.

The popular and pricey models for collectors are convertibles, roadsters and touring cars and I also like those. But my two favorites are closed cars, the four door sedans

and the two door cars — not so much the square two door sedans or the three or five window coupes, although I love them too, but a style that’s sometimes labeled “victoria” —

it’s a two door car with more inside space than a three-or-five-window coupe, but, unlike the square two door sedans (often called “coach” body), has a gracefully curved rear end.

Eat your heart out if you wanted a sunrise picture this morning, and the pictures are really wonderful, especially the long, low, purple clouds moving slowly east beyond Thomas Drive. 1928 Buick, this is your day.

When better automobiles are built, Buick will build them.


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Dixit insipiens

This morning I’ve been doing to suit myself rather than grousing about life and my own being and all the fools at large including the stupid, arrogant alphabet POS who only likes people who weren’t captured — such as himself slithering out of military service and riding around Manhattan in his father’s limo during the Vietnam War. Anyway, the blogpost is for self, take it or leave it.

Psalm 14. Dixit insipiens. A psalm of David.

THE fool hath said in his heart, * There is no God.
2 They are corrupt, and become abominable in their doings; * there is none that doeth good, no not one.
3 The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, * to see if there were any that would understand, and seek after God.
4 But they are all gone out of the way, they are altogether become abominable; * there is none that doeth good, no not one.
5 Have they no knowledge, that they are all such workers of mischief, * eating up my people as it were bread, and call not upon the LORD?
6 There were they brought in great fear, even where no fear was; * for God is in the generation of the righteous.
7 As for you, ye have made a mock at the counsel of the poor; * because he putteth his trust in the LORD.
8 Who shall give salvation unto Israel out of Sion? * When the LORD turneth the captivity of his people, then shall Jacob rejoice, and Israel shall be glad.

The psalm for Sunday is 14, Psalm 14. As I enjoy doing, I’ve looked at it from various ways, at multiple translations, including the BCP rendition we use Sunday in liturgy, at the Hebrew (which I cannot read but only pick at pathetically, I can no longer even recognize the alphabet), Young’s Literal Translation, the Orthodox Jewish Bible, the Complete Jewish Bible, the Septuagint, the King James Version, and the Coverdale Psalter (the magnificent poetry that was in use in our church until the 1976/79 prayerbook).

Here’s why I was interested.

The psalm is attributed to David, but it doesn’t sound like David to me. It sounds more like either (i) something from the period of the eighth century prophets (“workers of iniquity who eat up my people as they eat bread”) — although the eighth century prophets didn't liken the people to bread, they condemned the leaders as evil shepherds who ate up the sheep, God’s people; or (ii) something from the time of the Exile (“When the LORD turneth the captivity of his people, then shall Jacob rejoice, and Israel shall be glad). 

The psalm is peculiar, doesn’t seem to fit usual words for categorizing the psalms (praise, lament, petition, e.g.). 

Scanning, it seems as if the KJV and our BCP Psalter, including going back to Coverdale, are based on the Septuagint, because they use “Lord” where the LXX uses κυριος while the Hebrew original uses יְֽהוָ֗ה which is the name God spoke to Moses from the burning bush, YHWH, ehyeh — ehyeh asher ehyeh, which the Jewish related translations, honoring the ancient Jewish tradition that the sacred Name of G_d is not to be pronounced, render יְֽהוָ֗ה as Jehovah (YLT), Hashem (OJB), or Adonai (CJB and English translations of the Masoretic Text).

Liturgically, the psalm is our response to the OT reading, which is the story from 2Samuel of David seducing Bathsheba, impregnating her, and when his scheme to deceive Uriah backfires, he has Uriah killed and marries the woman. So how does Psalm 14 respond to that? Well, for me the connection is a bit of a stretch, but okay. However, I think we should get real and say Yahweh, but that's just me.


Monday, July 20, 2015

and all shall be well

shall be well

Almost every Sunday afternoon is a joy. Large ship leaving port. Sunday lunch with Malinda and Kristen. Glass of red wine, yesterday the bottom of the zinfandel bottle. After, a nap, then wake to look out just as another large ship leaving port heads out to sea.

No secret I've detested television, especially what some call “sound” but to me is static between me and possibilities for peace. Weather is the exception, or a major news item. But now with no potato vine to pull out of the azaleas, I’m checking out movie channels. An evening last week we watched (something) Destiny from 1941, an unmemorable cast of nobody we ever heard of, rated about four stars and we resolved never to watch a 1 or 2 star movie, it was terrible, terrible. But keep checking. The late thirties and early forties cars are usually worth the watch. End of one movie last week starred a 1940 Buick Limited limousine.

For lack of a TV channel movie, after Sunday nap I found a movie on YouTube where one can see whatever one chooses. General Galland reminiscing for six minutes. Then Wings of the Luftwaffe a three-quarter hour story of the Me-163 Komet, Messerschmidt jet fighter plane that, along with the Me 262 Düsenjäger, had Hitler the vision to listen to General Galland, we would have lost the Battle of Britain and eventually the war. The U2 was a farce, a noisy, scary, terrifying absurdity, but the German jets were formidable. Bracketing military jets, Celtic Woman, and Andrea Bocelli & Sarah Brightman singing “Time to Say Goodbye” and other wonders of the world.    

Late afternoon early evenings we sit out on the porch trusting a breath of breeze will come, but with a plastic box fan going anyway. Loving life in this presence, the full stretch of St. Andrews Bay. Glass of wine. Linda likes a Barefoot sweet reisling, I like if a bottle of malbec is waiting for me to finish off the last three ounces. Not so last evening, so one finger of Lagavulin, one of several favorite Islay single malts, with an ice cube. For supper, two stuffed egg halves. In my lifelong weight loss program I've lost thousands of pounds, so obviously a success. 

Sunday evening call from Tass, highlight of every week. All manner of things shall be well.

Lightning to the west and south far out over the Gulf of Mexico as dark falls. O Lord, support us all the day long until the shadows lengthen and the evening comes and the busy world is hushed and the fever of life is over and our work is done. Then in thy mercy grant us a safe lodging, and a holy rest, and peace at the last.

Lighten our darkness, we beseech thee, O Lord, and by ... Now the day is over, night is drawing nigh, shadows of the evening steal across the sky. .... Jesus, give the weary, calm and sweet repose and He has, and does, and we are gone. Bishop blesses, stand, brush off sand, walk away from campfire.

This morning, walk somewhere in the Cove. 

Sunday School fun yesterday as ever, full table by the time the usual suspects round themselves up and trickle in.

Every day I’m realizing more and more the relieving goodness and my gratitude living here. One is the distancing from when Kristen was growing up in the house with me and never out of my sight and I long for every second of those years. Another is that all those years I lived in Alfred’s house, it could never have been mine. Alfred’s house, Alfred’s bedroom, Alfred’s porch. Alfred’s stairs and bannister: every time I went upstairs it was with Alfred. Every time I walked downstairs I followed Alfred on the way out the door to Annie & Jennie to sail into eternity. It was even my ICU psychosis that day or two in intensive care at Cleveland Clinic. Stories about Alfred that Mom told me when I was a boy. After him, the sadness never departed the house, never left and never let me be. Understanding Pop’s telling me about The Old Place, “I can’t go there because of Alfred.” Now I know. Mom & Pop sold The Old Place. So have I and there is a sense that all is well. That all shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.


Sunday, July 19, 2015

Sleep, Eat, Walk

Three o’clock and I’ve been up forty-one minutes, including just finished reading a Fortune online article about sleep. From the article, one thing’s sure: I’m out of synch with my chronotype, and it’s telling. I can do something about that myself, such as the walk yesterday about two o’clock instead of nap (though morning would have been better plus this incredible afternoon heat seemed deadly to be out in), decent breakfast, medium power! lunch for two that we cooked on our new electric grill out on the porch,
 and supper of half a peach, half a banana, seven bites of that green melon that I can never remember the name of. Honeydew, that's it. Small glass red wine with lunch -- a 2012 Cupcake zinfandel I got someplace really cheap, I think Sam’s.  

Now yawning, which says I need to give going back to sleep a chance instead of blogging and finishing prep of Sunday School lesson. But on Sunday morning I can’t go back to helpful sleep after three a.m., keep waking and checking the clock to make sure I’m not oversleeping. Ah, well, there’s the inviolable Sunday afternoon clergy nap. 

Mike’s at a Jesuit retreat in Atlanta, what to do in Sunday School class? We've been having a full table, great for summertime. Three lessons, 2Samuel with David being ordered not to build a temple, that his son and successor will build it (what does this suggest about the timing of 2Samuel?). The Psalm 89 selection (vss 20-37) looks to be some musician’s effort to sop up to king David by singing about him in church. Ephesians, it’s a very pious reading but I don’t like it any more than I like the very overused word “very,” which diminishes almost any conversation. And the lectionary framers have done a peculiar thing with Mark 6 about the feeding of the five thousand, namely to read the part before the feeding and the part after the feeding and skip the feeding itself. Why did they do that? Come, let’s talk about it.

Tom+ in +Time

T+ in +Time and glad of it