Monday, November 30, 2015

and November.

Orion the Hunter was up there when I looked thirty minutes ago, and Sirius, maybe hunting with them. Why, is Sirius a retriever? IDK. 3:44, too dark and early to see clouds, but they are there, because Venus is straight in front of me, now not, now there, now gone again. Below Venus, the line of lights that is downtown Panama City, behind them papermill smoke illuminated by surrounding lights.

In three hours the mill whistle will sound, at exactly seven o’clock, sometimes off a few seconds, two or three.  

Opposite direction, looking west beyond Magnolia Beach and Thomas Drive


Thirty days hath September, April, June and November, so tomorrow is December 1st, we’ve owned this condo a year then. Took a month casually to paint the main room, replace bedroom carpets, change the living room floor from carpet that had earned its rest to wood flooring (well, it looks like wood), replace the kitchen appliances, and the following month we moved in. We’re not finished: late fall into winter the sun moves south and, together with its glare off the Bay, heats the place substantially until the sun goes north again for spring and summer. We replaced the original sagging blinds with solar shades, which Joe put up for us last summer, now we need to add a curtain with rubber or reflective back, it gets that warm. 

At the moment four o’clock-oh-eight there are soft noises of the city waking up, loud reverberating bangs that may report dumpsters being changed, a car light or two moving along W. Beach Drive. You can have Grover's Corners, New Hampshire, this is My Town.

Speaking of which, on my computer desktop is my downloaded copy of Thornton Wilder’s Our Town from the Kansas City Public Library. It was first checked out in June 1966 and last thirty years later, May 1995. My all time favorite, which I first saw one evening on the stage of the old Bay High School. Packed, the auditorium, which doubled as Study Hall, was right in front of you as you walked in the front door and from the reception and office area into the front hall. The building was a square of four halls with classrooms on each side. Billy Something, as I recall, if I can find my Bay High annuals around here I may be able to find the Stage Manager’s name. He did beautifully, a splendid job that night. Older than me (I), I hope he had a good life too.

Venus: gone again. And morning has broken.

Thos+



Remember, this blog and all posts are not to entertain you, amuse, move, inform, or disabuse you. It's all for me, my morning substitute for a diary, journal. It's nothing but musing, thoughts that go through my mind that I bother to jot down as mental exercise to keep away Χάρων, who's waiting in his boat the other side of that green light, to come for me.



Sunday, November 29, 2015

not just a game

When my Kristen was small and first started playing youth soccer with a competitive local league, probably U6, she loved the game and even though her team never won. The team may have been Wendy’s Wildcats, I still sometimes drink my coffee from the mug with her picture on one side and the team photograph on the other. All her friends were playing. At long last the day and game did come when the Wildcats won, and I well remember her exhilaration as we drove home after, “I never knew how good it feels to win!!”

Of course it did, and of course it does. I know how it feels to win. But mainly I know and remember how it feels to lose, how terribly it hurts to lose. Losing once long ago made my decisions for me more than once later into my life. Nothing in life is so “it’s just a game” that it doesn’t hurt to lose. Someone said, and it’s been repeated until it was so trite that we probably quit saying it, “Winning isn’t the main thing, it’s the Only thing.” If your team loses, it doesn’t matter whether the score is 27-2 or 42-13 or 37-32, losing is painful, demoralizing. The wide scores are humiliating, but the close scores, or the stunning, crushing last second upsets, can hurt the most; remembering October 24 at Bobby Dodd, Atlanta against Georgia Tech. 

Americans seemed conditioned and accustomed to win, losing not part of our national identity or destiny. The hurt of losing can last long, decades, generations, and can determine who and what we are. In all our history, until the disgrace of Vietnam, we lost only one war: Union soldiers right here in our land, on our soil, pulling down our flag, the humiliation, anger, bitterness and hatred was more than just lingering during and throughout my growing up years. For perspective, that Civil War was no farther ago when I was a little boy than WW2 is now, when many remember and may still hate. Few and fewer are living today who fought and remember the front lines, but many of us knew the daily newspapers and weekly newsreels and propaganda and atrocities. I remember the glow of flame over the horizon of the Gulf of Mexico one dark night as we drove home from Pensacola. I remember worrying about my father serving in the Maritime Service in 1943 and 1944, in a tanker somewhere in the same Gulf imperiled by German U-boats. And the Blue Stars in the front windows of relatives, friends and neighbors all over town, and Gold. Winning can be national even as losing is personal and heartbreaking: few Gold Star mothers celebrated with the rest of us on VE day and VJ day.

The national humiliation of American helicopters evacuating our last troops and terrified Vietnamese to U.S. Navy warships offshore. Losing is worse than “it's a bitch, ain’t it.” It hurts, and may hurt grievously, and the hurt may never go away.

During the Cold War, both sides, East and we West, developed a foreign policy of Mutual Assured Destruction, everybody called it “MAD” and it was. Fingers were on buttons, ready to ignite the eschaton if the other side scratched or blinked. It was an insanity in which we were fully prepared to bring down the human race in order to keep the other side from winning, in order not to lose. I wonder what historians in Third World countries and the Southern Hemisphere will say about that era, or whether they will ever realize how close they came to walking The Road with Cormac McCarthy and the rest of us.


We are still there. Or there again, though more subtly and sinisterly but no less evil, wickedly. But something about us has changed, is changing. A generation have been voted in and taken charge who do not remember nationally about winning, that winning isn’t the main thing, it’s the only thing. Floundering, foundering, we don’t know what to do. We think it’s only a game. We have grown timid, reluctant, hesitant. In time, losing will cost us dearly. This may even be the last game we play.  


Saturday, November 28, 2015

υἱὸς ἀνθρώπου

We have an interesting, not to say frightening, mix of Bible readings for tomorrow, the First Sunday of Advent. I have some comments, and then some of the lectionary (Advent1C) and other related text is quoted below in English. 

Through Advent we are dealing with old stories, traditions, beliefs and expectations. Advent One is our apocalyptic Sunday that, using those old traditions, looks toward the eschaton, the End of Time. Paul, in 1st Thessalonians, his first extant writing (maybe about 45 CE?) anticipates the eschaton coming very soon and encourages his audience in their acceptance of the Lord Jesus Christ and his God; as Jesus, Paul teaches, will be the One returning from heaven to earth to rule for God. Ancient Jewish tradition, at least from about the second century BCE through the first century CE, seems to have been that God would apocalyptically bring an end to life on earth as it was known, would resurrect the dead, and would call everyone, living and resurrected, before him for judgment. Judgment would consider whether the judged had lived righteously. Those judged unrighteous would be damned to eternal death (whatever that entailed). Those judged righteous would be saved to live in God’s kingdom on earth, which would be ruled by the Son of Man, the apocalyptic figure from Daniel 7 who had existed in heaven but now was sent to earth by God to reign for God. This Son of Man from Daniel 7 is the figure of whom Jesus is speaking in Luke 21:25-36, tomorrow’s Gospel. When Jesus uses the term “Son of Man” (υἱὸς ἀνθρώπου) in the gospels, each instance of usage may be different, and may mean one of three things: he may mean human beings in general (i.e., sons of Adam the Earthling), he may be speaking obliquely and perhaps modestly of himself instead of using the Greek “ego” (“I”), or he may be referring to the Daniel 7 figure. In each instance, it’s the reader’s job to discern what the evangelist intends. It’s not always straightforward, but it seems so in Luke 21:25-36. It also seems to me that Luke means for his audience to discern that Jesus is himself that Son of Man, and so the figure in tomorrow's gospel may be taken two ways: I, and Daniel's Son of Man. I think that’s what Luke means and means his audience to understand.

Just as I love the Revelation of John, I love Daniel 7, which never ceases to intrigue me, even in my abysmal ignorance. There is always room for argument, and scholars make their living by arguing with each other and by pointing out various contrasting and contradictory possibilities, but from the scholars I have read, I think Daniel, including Daniel 7, was written in 165 BCE, probably in Aramaic but perhaps in Hebrew, by an anonymous author writing retrospectively, historically, imaginatively, and biographically (and attempting autobiography in behalf of Daniel), about one Daniel who lived in the time of the Exile, wrote it as a message of encouragement (as the Revelation of John is a message of encouragement) to Jews living in the time of the brutal Syrian ruler Antiochus Epiphanes (BCE 178-164). Mark (Luke lifts his 21:25-36 from Mark 13:24-37), and especially Matthew, reads from the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible. So, the evangelists report Jesus speaking of υἱὸς ἀνθρώπου, son of man. He’s been in heaven forever, but he is sent by the Ancient of Days, to rule on earth as the Eschaton comes. This is all relevant for Advent, during which we celebrate both the first coming of Christ in the manger of Bethlehem and the Second Coming of Christ (as the Son of Man in Daniel 7). I’m loving it, see, because I kind of visualize this most every evening at sunset up here in my seventh heaven.


Thos+ in +Time+  

Advent:



Luke 21:25-36 The Coming of the Son of Man
Luke 21. 25 “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. 26 People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

The Lesson of the Fig Tree
29 Then he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees; 30 as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. 31 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. 32 Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

Exhortation to Watch
34 “Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, 35 like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. 36 Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

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Daniel 7. 9 I beheld until the thrones were set, and the Ancient of days sat; and his raiment was white as snow, and the hair of his head, as pure wool: his throne was a flame of fire, [and] his wheels burning fire. 10 A stream of fire rushed forth before him: thousand thousands ministered to him, and ten thousands of myriads, attended upon him: the judgment sat, and the books were opened. … 13 I beheld in the night vision, and, lo, [one] coming with the clouds of heaven as the Son of man, and he came on to the Ancient of days, and was brought near to him. 14 And to him was given the dominion, and the honour, and the kingdom; and all nations, tribes, and languages, shall serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom shall not be destroyed. 

וְעַתִּ֥יק
and the Ancient

יוֹמִ֖ין
of Days

כְּבַ֥ר
(one) like the Son

אֱנָ֖שׁ
of Man


1 Thessalonians 1 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Salutation
1 Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy,

To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace.

2 We always give thanks to God for all of you and mention you in our prayers, constantly 3 remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. 4 For we know, brothers and sisters beloved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our message of the gospel came to you not in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of persons we proved to be among you for your sake. 6 And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for in spite of persecution you received the word with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit, 7 so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. 8 For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place your faith in God has become known, so that we have no need to speak about it. 9 For the people of those regions report about us what kind of welcome we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols, to serve a living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath that is coming.


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Friday, November 27, 2015

Black Friday

The first time I heard of “Black Friday” would have been November 23, 1990. Tass was a freshman at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, and we were there for Thanksgiving with her. Thoughts wander, especially when they are memories, and that’s a happy one in the months I was still working through what was for me the almost unbearable grief of her going away to college. 

The day before, the three of us’d had Thanksgiving Dinner at a little cafe Tass thought might be open, turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and something green, maybe peas, and doting on my beautiful girl. Pumpkin pie. Memory says we were the only customers. 

In August we’d left Tass there in Lynchburg, Virginia at the same college where I’d driven to see her mother (1990 - 1955 =) thirty-five years before, and counting Parents Weekend just three weeks earlier — Parents Weekend the first weekend of November got us out of the nightmare Florida Seafood Festival in 1990, 1991 and 1993, but not 1992 because Tass was at university in England that year — this was now our third of several but never enough drives up to Lynchburg her four years of college.

Our motel was one where we stayed a few times, this would have been the third time. We had a second floor room I think, our back window looking across a shopping mall parking lot. Glancing out before dawn, I, most recently from Apalachicola where the only thing that happened that early in the morning was the roosters finishing crowing all across town, was astonished to see a huge mob of humanity gathered, gathering, and growing, I had no idea why. About the moment the sun came up, the mall doors opened and people were sucked inside as though into a vacuum. 

We loved going to Lynchburg during Tassy’s years at R-MWC. Had a favorite little shop close to the college, they sold interesting things and served a nice lunch. I went up to Lynchburg more than Linda, once by bus and once on the train, both stirring other memories. There was the time we both flew up: one evening Tassy’s roommate called to say Tass had fallen from a horse and was in hospital. Frantic, we were at Tallahassee airport before dawn the next morning, flying up to see about her.


Christmas vacation one year, it was that same freshman year, Linda drove me to the bus station in Tallahassee. I took a bus to Atlanta, AmTrak from Atlanta to be roused from my sleep and kicked off the train onto the Lynchburg loading platform, my suitcase spilling out and me half dressed in the freezing dawn, another story I remembered here before. That December, we drove home to Apalachicola in Tass’s car, a low-mileage used Mercedes 300SD I’d bought her when she was a senior at Apalachicola High School. That December, her roommate rode with us to her home, a small town in Georgia. Memories keep popping up, don’t they. For lunch driving down, we stopped somewhere in the Carolinas at a McDonalds. We waited in line to place our order and, seeing me kiss Tass on the cheek yet one more time again, her roommate exclaimed, “Oh, I can’t wait to see my daddy!!” He must have loved her almost as much as I love my girl.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

2 legs good, 4 legs better

Sip of hot black coffee and the square of dark chocolate forest mint melting on the tongue reminds me, Wednesday was a lovely day -- speaking not for mankind, but for me [codgerly, I'm unapologetically a KJV and 1928 BCP man and if I want to say mankind instead of PC humankind, I'll damn well do it]. At any event, having gone to bed at eleven Tuesday night as an experiment to see how late I might sleep, up at seven, not bad.

So Wednesday: up, tomato sandwich for breakfast. Stop at the church for prayerbooks and reserved sacrament, say the rubrical words (BCP 408) to remind B&W that they were already consecrated and transubstantiated. To the home of parishioner friends by ten o’clock. Home after, stopping at Buddy Gandy’s for oysters. Kristen came over to frost and decorate the Italian Cream Cake, part of Thanksgiving dessert she and Linda baked Monday. 20-minute nap. For lunch about one p.m. we went down the street for three tiny pizzas at Enzo’s. Thin individual pizza with double anchovies for me, and a Killians Red, avoiding the 30A beer I was going to order until I saw it was listed and priced among “Imports.” Well, it is a long way to the Walton County line, isn’t it. Kris and Linda ate their pizzas, I have three pieces left over, in the refrigerator. Breakfast, perhaps. 



Perfect afternoon because Kris was here. About four-thirty the almost daily sludgery sets in and with it Linda's almost daily caution "don't go to sleep, it's too late to nap," and then suggested I have a dark chocolate square to wake me up. Perfect: one square with ice water (too late for coffee). My chocolate consumption may double, having discovered it works as well late afternoon as early morning. Octogenarian's afternoon delight: chocolate instead of an Olds Cutlass, and nose into a book. 

In the book I’m loving, A. N. Wilson's biography of C.S. Lewis, I’m up to the Inklings chapter and watching Lewis and Tolkien, whom Lewis called “Tollers”, manipulating for the devilment of it, election of the nice but borderline incompetent Magdalen college chaplain as Professor of Poetry at Oxford for the year 1938. Fox’s distinguishing work apparently was "Ole King Cole", but in his ignorance he slammed the foremost literary scholar of England who had been nominated, saying “they might as well elect me Professor of Poetry,” to which Lewis responded, “Well, we will” and proceeded to organize it. 

Elsewhere, I’m enjoying an online lecture course on C.S. Lewis offered by Hillsdale College, and downloaded free online “The Abolition of Man” to read on my laptop. I mean, without a sermon to write every week there's time on my mind and the Olds Cutlass out in the garage won't start. Dead battery, I reckon.

Supper, eight braised oysters on thin wheat toast. For soup, poured together in a coffee mug four oz. pot liquor from the yellow squash for tomorrow’s squash casserole, three oz. oyster potliquor, one ounce milk and cream left over from the pumpkin pie chilled overnight out on the porch. Delicious. 

Re: cooling holiday food, the 7th floor porch is safe from raccoons compared to the porches at the big house. Could be gulped by a pelican or carried away by an osprey, I suppose, but so far hasn't been. Today will be our first celebratory holiday in our downsized home, 13 room house to 3 room condo.
 As well as the two of us, we’re expecting five loved ones from Tallahassee + five locals = 12. A four-legged turkey so there are enough drumsticks, Happy Thanksgiving to all, and to all a good night. I'm thankful for all these people and more. I'm thankful for Wednesday Nights at HNEC. 

Last night returning to regular habit, to bed at eight, up at four with chocolate and cuppa.

Thos+

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

'Twas the Month before XMAS

From summer direct into winter, apparently: as we drove out 231 for Tallahassee yesterday the thermometer in Linda’s car read 34 degrees and in the fields along the highway the weeds were covered with frost shining in the rising sun. Sure enough, the electronic device that TJCC gave me for Christmas some years ago reads 52, so I guess winter is upon us early. Not quite ready yet, but as long as the temperature doesn’t drop, it’s cool, Baby. A bit chilly for sitting on the porch. Here in my blue lift chair, feet and legs covered with a light blanket, sliding glass door open to let in the Month Before Christmas. Across a calm, dark Bay, Shell Island beckoning but no takers, and Life Is Good. Retired with plenty going on to exercise mind, body and soul, lots of people to love, and I’d rather be 80 than 20 and starting my senior year of college.

Well, I don’t know, what I’m thinking about right now with this weather is that it feels just like my first week at Navy OCS in Newport, Rhode Island, July 1957. I thought I'd moved into a refrigerator. That was fun, I might go back after all. Or spring 1978 and 42, retired from the Navy and heading off to Australia for the first time. Oz at the time was like stepping back 75 years, and by the time I’d been there five weeks, one thought was to migrate to Sydney. 

Yesterday morning we attended for the last time, the wonderful Grandpersons Day at Holy Comforter Episcopal School. Next fall, Charlotte will go to public middle school and Caroline will be a high school freshman. Both girls are musical, Caroline plays flute and Charlotte trumpet in their school bands, maybe those interests will continue in their next schools such that there will be reasons for us to keep on enjoying their school days with them.

In the news, horrific events since 9/11, and building, the Paris atrocity, and now a NATO nation shooting down a Russian warplane, feels grotesquely like living into the first chapter of Alas, Babylon, The Day After, On the Beach, or The Road. I think I'll take my past over your future.

Anu Garg again.
A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
We haven't yet learned how to stay human when assembled in masses. -Lewis Thomas, physician and author (25 Nov 1913-1993) 


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Afraid

It’s difficult for people of reason, conscience and compassion to know what to say and think about the refugee crisis that is so threatening here and so real abroad. Scrolling down news sites such as NBC, one discovers no end to pathetic pictures of people waiting to cross borders. The ones with little children touch my heart the most. Those of angry young men are frightening, perhaps they should not be so. Winter is coming on, people will be suffering, some dying, maybe many will die, most of the dead, children. This will be unconscionable, our own holocaust in history’s judgment. A global catastrophe looms that’s too big to deal with. And the fear of terrorists coming in is real, both the fear and the threat. Our government is foolish to stomp over the people's fear instead of facing it and responding. For myself, I’ve lost all confidence in government's competence to deal with the situation while also dealing with a priority of trying to keep Americans feeling safe a little longer. Of course, we fool ourselves: terrorist cells are already here, waiting for the word. In another place and generation they would already have been rounded up, information extracted, and interned or executed. It can still be done: do we want that?

Speaking of and frighteningly, the refugee situation is feeding right wing extremism in Germany, where guilt should stir the national conscience forever, but where seventy years have not washed away their core aryan contempt of foreigners and people of other races, people who are different. Nor am I sure we are cleaner in America as both Right and Left shriek with hatred, the Left with hatred of the Right, the Right with hatred born of fear. But the fear is reasonable and human: we hate and fear those who hate, threaten and hurt us. At some point perhaps we will better understand how they feel in Israel, the rage, the fear, the hatred and determination. Sadly, the government is doing nothing to teach, inform and assure the people, rather the government is as arrogant as dictators, not of, by, and for the people. And the biggest fools are not government but common American citizens who are adamantly certain they are correct, both Right and Left. At the moment, the Left is more arrogant and certitudinous.

What to do? I don’t know. I do know that I would rather at this time in this crisis have government led by a president who is not timid, who knows that those who hate us cannot be discouraged and contained and frightened away into submission. I want leadership who remember that war is  fought to be won, But neither do I want the egotistical, populist raving dog, an arrogant, pompous, blustering, know-nothing madman. I Like Ike but I don't see him.

Here are a couple of voices of calm.


November 18, 2015
Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop and Primate Michael B. Curry addresses the current Syrian refugee crisis:

“Be not afraid!”  
Often in the gospels, fear grips the people of God, and time and again, either the angels, or Our Lord himself, respond with the same words of comfort: “Be not afraid.”  
In times like this fear is real.   And I share that fear with you.  Our instinct tells us to be afraid. The fight-or-flight mentality takes hold.  At the present moment, many across our Church and our world are grasped by fear in response to the terrorist attacks that unfolded in Paris last Friday.  These fears are not unfounded.  We can and should support law enforcement officials who are working hard and at great risk to protect us from crime and keep us safe.   And yet, especially when we feel legitimate fear, our faith reminds us “Be not afraid.”  The larger truth is that our ultimate security comes from God in Christ.
In the Book of Leviticus, God says to the people of Israel that, “the foreigner who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the foreigner as yourself, for you were foreigners in the land of Egypt.”  Accordingly, we welcome the stranger.  We love our neighbor.  The Episcopal Church has long been committed to resettling refugees in our own communities fleeing violence and persecution.
The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, through its Episcopal Migration Ministries service, works with dioceses and congregations, and the United States government, to settle refugees in communities across this great country.  The Episcopal Church has been engaged in this ministry for more than 75 years.  We will not let the nightmare this world often is keep us from carrying out the words of Jesus who told us to be a neighbor to those in need.
Refugees from places like Syria seek to escape the precise same ideological and religious extremism that gave birth to the attacks in Paris.  They seek entry into our communities because their lives are imprisoned by daily fear for their existence.   Just as Jesus bids us not to be afraid, we must, in turn, pass those words of comfort to those who turn to us for help.
But Jesus calls us to go even further: not just to love our neighbors and our kin, but to love our enemies.  This is particularly difficult when we are afraid.    But even in the midst of our fear we stand on the solid ground of our faith and proclaim the faith in Christ crucified and risen from the dead.  In practical terms, this may mean finding strength in prayer, or in our neighbors, or in our churches, or in acts of solidarity with others who live in fear.   This is the hope that casts out fear.  
The fear is real.  So we pray.  We go to church.  We remember who we are in Jesus.   Our resurrection hope is larger than fear.   Let nothing keep us from that hope, that faith, that security in Gods dream for all of humanity.
“Be not afraid!”


Monday, November 23, 2015

τρίτου οὐρανοῦ

This is now, sunrise before morning walk,



 but sunrise or sunset, that brilliant streak of red orange never takes, does it, never shows up with my iPhone 4 camera. This is decent, isn’t it, the camera lies, but there’s the paper-mill against the skyline from seventh heaven. Which, 2 Corinthians 12:2, makes me wonder again what Paul was talking about when he wrote, “οἶδα ἄνθρωπον ἐν Χριστῷ πρὸ ἐτῶν δεκατεσσάρων, εἴτε ἐν σώματι οὐκ οἶδα, εἴτε ἐκτὸς τοῦ σώματος οὐκ οἶδα, ὁ θεὸς οἶδεν, ἁρπαγέντα τὸν τοιοῦτον ἕως τρίτου οὐρανοῦ.” Nicholas Poussin paints an image of it though, “Paul’s Ascent to the Third Heaven”



and the discussion seems to be that Paul was talking about himself. Could it have been a dream? Or an out of body experience. Fourteen years ago I was sixty-six and it would have been, what November 23, 2001.That’s a long time for the world to have been at war. Will historians ratify Pope Francis, that this was WW3, or will someone push a red button igniting such a global conflagration that there are no historians? The other day the Pope characterized Christmas as a “charade” that we celebrate and make merry as though all is joy, peace and goodwill to anthropos in whom God is well-pleased, when all the world is at war, cruelty, hunger, suffering, homelessness. 

Time to change clothes and walk.


Thos+ in +Time+

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Collect

Almighty and everlasting God, whose will it is to restore all
things in your well-beloved Son, the King of kings and Lord of
lords: Mercifully grant that the peoples of the earth, divided
and enslaved by sin, may be freed and brought together
under his most gracious rule; who lives and reigns with you
and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer has a different prayer, called a “collect” to be said at the beginning of worship for each Sunday of the church year. Above is our collect for today, which with other liturgical churches of the Western tradition, we observe as the Feast of Christ the King. The observance was established by Pope Pius XI in 1925 as a response to growing nationalism and secularism after World War I, in particular the rise of fascism in Italy under Benito Mussolini. 

The construct of a collect always get my attention. Not all by any means, but the classic, usual form is three parts: an address to God that usually is a theological assertion of a characteristic of God, a single petition praying God to take a particular action, and a closing in the Name of the Trinity. This is such a collect.

A lifelong Episcopalian, my observation in liturgical worship is that certain elements are done somewhat by rote and without being noticed by the people except that some will notice if they are omitted. This includes the collect for/of the day, which simply gets said as part of the opening rite as the liturgy passes on to the next step. Mindful of this, and resisting rote in worship simply because it’s pretty much the same Sunday to Sunday, I have taken to paying attention to the collect and often making a point of it in such as adult Sunday School class. We may take notice of the theological assertion and have a short discussion about whether we agree with what it says about God. And/or we may look at the petition and wonder what we believe, expect or hope about God’s response. In the first place, lex orandi lex credendi, our theology is found in what we do and say and sing and pray when we gather for worship, and so the collect is a manifestation of our Anglican theology: this is what we believe about God and about what God can and will do.

America is today, and is often described as a multicultural society. We have here, and it is our national tradition to expect and accept that not everyone is like us, our neighbors are different, including different backgrounds, origins, heritages, religions, beliefs, observances, celebrations, practices, foods, holidays. There is no place in America for intolerance, except perhaps intolerance of people who insist that others must think and believe as they do. It’s okay to believe that others are wrong, but it’s unAmerican, not okay to insist by law or force. I don’t want to wander off my track, but it seems to me that, as well as coming out of oppression, terrorism says that you must believe and do as I believe and do, or I will kill you and yours to scare and force you into compliance. That’s probably only true to an extent, as terrorism seems to degrade civilization into anarchy with no clear objective.

Anyway, I’m pondering the collect, both what we assert that God wants, and what we ask God to grant. I’m not sure that God is displeased with our multicultural society and wants us all to be the same, Christians. I’m not certain of that anymore than I’m certain that it was God who wanted the wandering people of Israel to slaughter all living things as they crossed the river into the promised land and conquered each city. I think that was the Israelites’ perception of what God wanted as their victory, but I’m not sure it was God’s will. I’m a bit uneasy about this collect as well, because I believe that God likes what America ideally could be: a nation of freedom and peace for all peoples and an example to the world. We are, as another collect says, multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. I believe God loves us just as we are, the way we are, or at least the way we mean to be, which is diverse and multicultural. I don’t believe God’s will is that we all must be the same, μὴ γένοιτο. I certainly don’t believe God wants you to be like me, or, μὴ γένοιτο, me to be like you.


But I’ll say the collect this morning. It's lovely words, in good taste, and prescribed for today. Nobody will notice what it says anyway.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Inadvertently

inadvertently I deleted Saturday morning's blogpost that blanketed a post from Barbara Crafton, college football, the crow that I'm afraid I'll have to eat again for Thanksgiving dinner, the current political firefight over refugees, and the collect of the day for tomorrow, the Feast of Christ the King. The blogpost was so off the wall that I likely would have Reverted it to Draft anyway, but it's deleted; so if you got it you got it and if you didn't you don't.




Friday, November 20, 2015

Quiet

It’s three o’clock in the morning, and four, a time of peace up here in the sky. Pelicans will arrive soon, seagulls, cormorants, egrets and others, splashing and flapping, fishing for their breakfast, but at the dark moment it’s peace, all quiet. 

Birds don’t hate other birds, far as I can tell, I don’t know that different species understand each other, but where a few gather, others circle and splash down. They may steal fish from each other’s mouths, but I’ve never seen one sea bird attack another with vicious intent. 


Why do we hate? Next time, if I get to choose, I’m being a pelican. An osprey. Not a human, never again.

Five o'clock in the morning, soon six, a place and time of peace.


Six o'clock, and seven.


Thursday, November 19, 2015

Reversing

This is what we see this morning, overnight brought blowing rain as shown by water sitting on the table and my wet socks, 70F or so, 97%, slightest soft, cool breeze.


Haircut later at Tyndall, browse commissary and BX. Leaving about nine o’clock. Usually we have Philly cheesesteak there for lunch. BX card, 10% discount. And my only coke of the month.

Religious nor spiritual nor political but sometimes pugnacious, my blogs aren’t sequential, fact is I make a point of today’s not following such as answering yesterday’s question, “What does our scripture require of us?” But. If there’s a clean slate to write on, the gospel answer may be clear, but the slate’s not clean, is it, chalk smudged on the slate dates back a hundred years and more, doesn't it, and our problems, as Dalai Lama says are of our own doing, are beyond undoing; so the answer’s hazy, isn’t it. Eighty and aging, I can pick my own verses. If Jesus is the answer, we might angrily rail at the Darkness while turning the other cheek, loving our enemies, and passively waiting to be crucified by the evil that hates us. However, so far as we know, Jesus has many brothers and sisters but no children and grandchildren to agonize about, so I can’t step into his shoes nor can he walk in mine. 

Though yesterday morning I pressed “Revert to draft” for my angry rail of Monday and it sits there trying to break out of unbaptized limbo, I’m disturbed about arrogant, defiant determination in the face of the People’s fear and People's loss of confidence and trust in government’s judgment and ability. Defiant arrogance assures no one, charges on. A nation of immigrants, America is historically, still and always a compassionate, welcoming land

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

God love us, we want still, always and ever to be this, but we have seen and are afraid, reverting instinctively to self preservation, protection of those we love most, and fearing the unconscionable evil that threatens them. For what I see myself becoming, I hate myself, but I feel called by no verse or gospel to stand by silently and passively while those I love are put at risk by government that cannot and will not protect them to the max. Nor do I feel patient with government that wages war of attrition with restraint while the enemy expands derisively. Ours is not hate, it's fear. 

Enough when the anger stirs. For cover and shame, I keep myself stuffed into a box, and no doubt this blogpost also will Revert to draft in short order. I have left undone those things I ought to have done, and I have done those things I ought not to have done, and there is no health in me. Instead of loosing Pandora, I ought to have written about the cormorants, pelicans and seagulls fishing in the sea at my feet.



A large ship enters the Pass into St. Andrews Bay, moves slowly to the channel’s hairpin turn, reverses direction, and glides close by my balcony rail.


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Grooms and Clowns


201511180642. Pleasant enough outside, balmy 74F 89% but quite a stiff breeze. Up here on the seventh floor right on the Bay and coming straight off the Gulf it must be above 20 mph and gusting forty. I like “forty” because religiously it means “a lot”. Israelites forty years in the wilderness. Moses forty days on the mountaintop. Jesus forty days in the wilderness. Forty days of Lent. The realtime weather map on my iPad shows the storm stretching from down in the Gulf all the way up to Thunder Bay, passing through New Orleans moving slowly east. Channel 13 says 90% prob of rain, but the storm’s southern tip seems to be moving north faster than east. Rain by two o’clock this afternoon, he says. We'll see.

At eighty, I’m loving a morning with nothing on the calendar. Well, examen, there’s that, prayerful self-examination, self-reflection, self-recrimination. One of my checks on myself, political, social, religious (not spiritual, I give myself F-minus, a failing grade in Spirituality), is whether other people agree with me, agree with my view, my stance. It’s one of my measures of what I am. Not who I am, but what I am. Whether I’m with the crowd, in the majority. If so, I become uneasy with myself. If I’m in the minority, such as being Anglican, Episcopalian, then “I’m good” as I say when the waiter asks if I want a second glass of wine. But if everybody seems to agree with me, then I’m pretty sure that I’m wrong; and if emotion is a driver, then I’m fairly certain of it, that my soul is in danger. 

It is not my nature to be against other people. To hate, to be irrationally, or even reasonably, against others. Impossible for me to be against a child, any child. Well, any but a bully, and even a bully is that because of feeling bullied at home. I became uneasy with myself when everybody started climbing on the anti-Syrian-refugee hayride. All the while recognizing its propaganda force on me, I’m looking at the pictures and videos of the refugees from the MiddleEast, including those from Syria. All the children, some afraid, some smiling hopefully. We have been horrified that forces of evil are scaring them, driving them, from their homelands, and have so viciously persecuted Christians. Their own people of other sects too, but it’s personally more painful to read and hear of their unspeakably cruel treatment of Christians. Does their scripture require that? Flipping the coin, what does our scripture require of us? 

All the problems of the world we have because we humans created them. As I’ve seen it in eighty years, most have been religious hatred based. It goes as far back in history as history is recorded, and beyond into prehistoric Times and Humans. I reckon we’ll never get it right. 

People are saying, pray for Paris, pray for France. The Dalai Lama said this week, don’t pray for Paris, all the world’s problems are of our own doing, do we expect God to step in and make it all right, to solve for us the problems that we have created and continue to create? Creating peace is up to us. The holy man is right, halfway so. God who hears our prayers has not shown in history — scripturally in heilsgeschichte yes, but not in realtime — has not shown an inclination to step in, reverse our dominion, and set things right. If God does do, then God will have ceased speaking to us. Perhaps in response to our prayers God may turn our prayers around upon ourselves so that we finally get it. That would be the way to peace. The only way. But I think we are too selfish. I know I am. I don’t have an answer. Maybe God smushing my prayer in my face. 

I’m thinking of a wedding I officiated years ago, a marriage that started off wrong because the groom cutely smushed wedding cake in her face, causing everyone to laugh and her to burst into tears and rush out of the room in embarrassment. I’m thinking of clowns smashing cream pies in each other’s face. I’m thinking of humans. I have no hope for the race, but I’m praying anyway. Whatever you say, God.

Windy, and loud wave action in my beloved Bay this morning.


Thos+

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Oh well, WTH!!

Life changes second by second, and even when it doesn’t the sky as we see it from here does, does change. The sun’s play on clouds and Bay makes each moment as different as though we were taking fingerprints instead of snapping pics. Coming out to look at the sunrise, I was so astonished that I ran in to where my iPhone was still charging after going dead yesterday, but rushing out to the balcony rail twenty seconds later it was gone. Jiminy Christmas, there comes another one. Naanh, I’ll just show last night after sunset, moon over the Gulf and from Courtney Point west beyond Thomas Drive.


Earlier, just after four a.m. the sky appeared cloudless, two brilliant planets in the high east and Sirius announcing Orion high in the black western sky. Last night, Linda saw a shooting-star from the porch rail. 

Anyway, "it’s almost tomorrow, and here comes the sun". Our freshman year at UFla the university radio station went off the air every evening with the DreamWeavers singing that song, which nightly rendered me as nostalgic a teenage lovesick fool as ever there was. If I used exclamation points I’d put one there because I’m not serious, just jabbing myself for my post-adolescent immaturities, but I don't use exclamation points, the punctuation marks of fools!! 

You’ll find when you get to eighty that you’re as big a fool as ever, and likely you’ll be as impetuous as I and almost as lacking in good judgment. Like me, you also won’t give a dee who likes it and who doesn't.

My morning heart pill has me so dizzy I can’t walk straight, so I’m laying a light breakfast and another cup of hot black on top of it while sitting outside bundled up to keep the chilly wind off the head and neck. Two slices of toasted very thin 35 calorie whole wheat bread with a favorite unmentionable smeared thickly inside. Whine, whine, whine.


For this morning’s Bible Seminar I’ve prepared two things in response to what the group asked for last Tuesday. I have copies of the Holy Quran for everyone in the group, and we will thumb through while I show them The Prophet’s mentions of John the Baptist, Mary the Mother of Jesus, and Jesus: this seems timely in our seasonal ramp-up to Advent and Christmas. Following that, I have a short intro to the Gospel according to Luke and reading Luke chapter 1 for discussion.


Thos+

Monday, November 16, 2015

As any fool can see

As any fool can see

As ever throughout our history, America is a country from which no one seeks to escape and people from other nations are always wanting to get in by all means possible, legal or illegal, documented or undocumented. That truth about America marked the difference between us and all others during the years of the Cold War, when people behind the Iron Curtain were seeking to escape, and after the Vietnam War, when Vietnamese refugees were welcomed into the United States and resettled peacefully across our land.

The Syrian refugee crisis is altogether different, driven by religious insanity. Last Friday rendered it moot that the nations of western Europe are making a fatal mistake for which the horrendous Paris atrocity is, as yesterday’s gospel from Mark 13 phrased it, "but the beginning of the birth pangs." And now, the United States, the ultimate target, the most hated nation for many, many reasons but nevertheless, bringing in Syrian refugees. Federal officials who are not toeing the WhiteHouse line and are not afraid to speak the truth admit it is impossible to screen these immigrants to keep Americans safe. Those who hold up figures showing statistically how infinitesimally unlikely it is that radical Islamic terrorists are among the immigrants can answer morally and self-righteously to the families of those innocents, including an American girl, someone's beloved daughter and granddaughter, murdered in Paris last Friday by terrorists taking instructions from ISIS in Syria. Statistics and those who rattle them off be damned, it only takes one organizer here and one there. Shall we become a policed state with armed guards at every department store entrance and back door, every bank, every mall, every theater, every sports arena, every elementary school, at every gated community, the walled off entrance to every neighborhood, surrounding every high school stadium, on every rooftop? I saw that in the Philippines during the late 1960s and it was not uncommon in Eastern European countries behind the Iron Curtain to control the people. Our government is insane. At the certainty of my being judged to have finally gone off the deep end, we have reached the point where the federal government is the enemy of the people. And once again, this is why our founding fathers gave us the Second Amendment, not for hunting squirrels or shooting burglars, but to stand against the powers of darkness. Alabama and Michigan governors have said their states will not accept Syrian refugees. Those are meaningless gestures, as once inside American borders, travel across state lines is not an issue for anyone. They are toothless protests anyway, as states are not in control and federal government is not of the people, by the people, and for the people, but federal bureaucracy answering to no one. 

Paris? America. It’s a matter of time. We will have done it to ourselves by becoming powerless against our own government.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Ending

Our lectionary gives us a couple of especially interesting lessons for this morning, three counting the response to 1 Samuel 1, which fittingly is the Song of Hannah in 1 Samuel 2. Timed and timely for our seasonal approach to Advent, both are reminiscent, and likely inspired Luke’s narrative about the origins of John the Baptist and the responsive Song of Zechariah. Which lead into his, Luke’s, Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and her Song, the Magnificat, which hopefully we shall sing Advent 4, sometimes called “Mary Sunday.” For a steeped in tradition Anglican Chant-o-phile, there is only one proper version and tune for the Magnificat, the one we sang at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in the 1930s, 40s, and early 50s, but the last church I served that knew it by heart and sang it well was Trinity, Apalachicola through the 1980s and 90s; and I daresay it has long since slipped from their tongues. There was a time when I knew and taught that Anglicanism was a sound, a sound in worship, the exquisite sound of Anglican Chant, and we have grievously lost it. 

Our other lesson suitable for Sunday School chat this morning is the wonderful “Little Apocalypse” that is Mark chapter 13. Catering as usual to our cultural Attention Deficit Disorder, the Gospel reading is a snippet, Mark 13:1-8, but Adult SS is our time to compensate for lectionary failures that include not giving us credit for the sense and patience to attend the whole piece. The BCP’s broad rubrics enable us to overcome the new lectionary’s shortcomings, but I’ve only known that to be used in one place. No matter, at eighty I’m a watcher. Which returns me to Mark 13 and Jesus’ watchword, γρηγορεῖτε.

The so-called Little Apocalypse at Mark 13 is picked up by Matthew at his chapter 24 (with some verses sorted into Matthew 10) and by Luke’s chapter 21. Checking Aland, there are a few verses or phrases identical across the board in the Greek, but otherwise there’re enough language differences to make me wonder if some of MT and LK may have come from Q traditions or even their own sources. At any event, at this writing hour, 2:57 A.M. I’m thinking there’s enough to interest the SS class without sinking too deep into the mud.



Thos+