Monday, February 29, 2016

Time to Walk


Barbara Crafton is a writer, speaker, and recently retired Episcopal priest who seems to me to “have it all together” might be the descriptive idiom. For years she’s published The Geranium Farm, which describes itself as “The Almost Daily eMo.” I’ve not always read it, but it’s always worth the read, though after retiring she reduced its frequency, re-ran touching decade old issues from her files, and devotes some issues to imaginatively critiquing classical art. An extract from her upcoming book, this morning’s edition contemplating Moses at the Burning Bush touches me deeply.

Barbara nails it. Yes, for us who ourselves are at the far end of life, but especially for us who always try but feel we never quite succeed in our ministries with those who are closer to the end than we think we are, and those who face the rest of their lives agonizing over the loss of a loved one. Crafton’s questions are the ones that ultimately matter. What about death? What did life mean? Will I ever see her again? Will I get a second chance? Will this pain go on forever? 

The end of life seems so far away in its youth, until death hits us. Two mornings a week when I park on Linda Avenue behind Cove School and get out of my car to walk, I see the place on the playground where in January 1947 I choked back a sob and told my teacher, “My grandmother died.” Pain and sadness subside, and in each loss we learn that we can go on after all, that we can make it, though the scar’s always there. Or more scab than scar, because unlike the appendectomy scar on my abdomen and the stripe down the center of my chest, rubbed, a psychic wound opens and hurts and bleeds all over again regardless how long. Many good things happened in the house where I grew up, but what happened to me the morning a year or so ago when the current owner graciously showed us through, was the thought as I stood at the kitchen sink that I was standing in this very spot after school that day when asked, “Did you know that your grandmother died?” I knew instantly which grandmother, and it was my life’s first moment of a broken heart. It's not just a scar. And in the hall where we had our telephone, this is where I stood that day agonizing and didn’t make that call. Barbara Crafton uses the term “existential cry” and one doesn’t have to reach eighty to know it or, in ministry, to share with others who are knowing it. It’s not only about death and dying, it’s leaving a daughter at college (I'm glad I no longer have that car), or a little grandson moving far away (I'm glad I don't still have that porch where I sat and wept). As Good Friday comes round again, it’s imagining standing there looking on and pressing close enough that the blood drips on me. 

Barbara asks if the Logos can incarnate for us, and reflects that this is more than a game, that our losses resound throughout our lives, and that they are the reason that our exploration for God matters. She nails it. Faith, our hope, is that it’s not all internal to us, that there really is something there watching and waiting and loving.

Time to walk.



Sunday, February 28, 2016


Especially if something has occurred to journal or blog of a morning, I avoid opening email or news first thing, as doing so instantly sweeps the mind. Best avoided, the outside world shades, dims, ability to focus. Bibel und Zeitung doesn’t always work well this early. Meaning to have a go at today’s gospel, I quickly browsed today’s news anyway, and that was that. Luke would have been better:

Gospel, Luke 13:1-9

1 It was just about this time that some people arrived and told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with that of their sacrifices. At this he said to them, 2 'Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than any others, that this should have happened to them? 3 They were not, I tell you. No; but unless you repent you will all perish as they did. 4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower at Siloam fell, killing them all? Do you suppose that they were more guilty than all the other people living in Jerusalem? 5 They were not, I tell you. No; but unless you repent you will all perish as they did.’

6 He told this parable, 'A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came looking for fruit on it but found none. 7 He said to his vinedresser, "For three years now I have been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and finding none. Cut it down: why should it be taking up the ground?" 8 "Sir," the man replied, "leave it one more year and give me time to dig round it and manure it: 9 it may bear fruit next year; if not, then you can cut it down.”

That, at least the parable (13:6-9), could easily be taken into the politics of the presidential election. I hugely disappreciate hesitant micromanagement of war, and I'm uneasy about all the manure being spread around the nonproductive fig tree; but I’m most wary of what is seeming to be meant by the slogan “make America great again,” and slogans are just the beginnings of the birthpangs. America is great, and my German is not good enough to follow the link I uneasily sense between early 20th century and early 21st century maniacal rubbish, not to repeat skybalon, being passed as rhetoric; and it seems true that hysterically shouting loud and confident still brings the crowds to their feet saluting and screaming. Run it up the flagpole and see if anyone salutes, and sure enough, they do. God help us. Please.

At this point in Luke’s gospel, Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem, teaching, healing, preaching along the way. Looking back at what precedes “it was just about this time” confirms that some of the preaching is discomfitingly apocalyptic. Who besides me is uneasy no matter what or who?


Saturday, February 27, 2016

the Name is E-Yeh

Moshe! Moshe! 
Take off your shoes, 
make yourself comfortable,
and let’s talk!

Exodus 3:1-15
Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian; he led his flock beyond the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed. Then Moses said, "I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up." When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, "Moses, Moses!" And he said, "Here I am." Then he said, "Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground." He said further, "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

Then the Lord said, "I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the country of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. The cry of the Israelites has now come to me; I have also seen how the Egyptians oppress them. So come, I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt." But Moses said to God, "Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?" He said, "I will be with you; and this shall be the sign for you that it is I who sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God on this mountain.”

But Moses said to God, "If I come to the Israelites and say to them, 'The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,' and they ask me, 'What is his name?' what shall I say to them?" God said to Moses, "I am who I am." He said further, "Thus you shall say to the Israelites, 'I am has sent me to you.'" God also said to Moses, "Thus you shall say to the Israelites, 'The Lord, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you’: This is my name forever, and this my title for all generations.”

+++   +++   +++

“The peace of God which passeth all understanding,” goes the closing benediction and blessing of our traditional liturgy, “keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God, … .” We stretch comprehensibility to imagine “knowing” the creator God who inhabits eternity from whence Logos conceived “Let there be light” and “Let us create earthlings in our image,” and who self-introduces in word and in the world about us. Bible study may help us know God better, or may confound us further with fear and awe of a threatening presence, as seems to have been so with Moses the day he trespassed onto holy ground and stumbled into that encounter with terrible, blazing Holiness.

But it may not have been that way at all.

When I was eleven, twelve, thirteen — after the War when automobile production resumed — along in the fall (I’m thinking late September, early October) searchlights would play in the evening sky. I remember going in the car with my parents and siblings to see what it was all about. After the first time one knew of course, but I remember that first night driving from our house, following the searchlight in the sky, around Massalina Bayou to 4th Street, turning left to cross the bridge, up past the courthouse and to Harrison Avenue. Still following the sweeping searchlight, right on Harrison and north two and a half blocks, just past First Baptist Church, to a huge World War Two searchlight on a flatbed in front of Nelson Chevrolet, where the newest models were in the showroom,

 crowds gathering. The awesome light was a bit scary, reminiscent of lights sweeping dark, smoke-filled skies for enemy bombers, shining now in peace to attract attention, inviting and welcoming people to come see.

In a rabbinic discussion someone suggested that, considering the grace and hospitality of God, it may not have been frighteningly awesome at all between Moses and E-Yeh that morning as, shepherding his sheep, Moses turned aside to see. The bush was burning to get Moses’ attention, inviting and welcoming him to come see. As he comes closer a welcoming voice booms out. “Moshe! Moshe! Welcome, don’t be scared, this is my yard, holy ground: take off your shoes, make yourself comfortable, and let’s talk! By the way, I’m the God of Abraham, … E-Yeh’s the Name. E-Yeh A-Sherrr (God rolls his R’s, but He’s sure as hell no Scottish Presbyterian) E-Yeh! ” E-Yeh A-Sherrrrr E-Yeh. And just so, after some four centuries, the Creating God resumes Heilsgeschichte as he chats with a reluctant Egyptian prince.

The searchlight appeared in Panama City’s night sky the fall of every year during new car introduction time. My father must have been as interested as I, because it never was a struggle to get him to drive me to follow the searchlight. I remember it in front of Cook Ford at 4th and Harrison.  At Rowell Motors,

the Nash dealership at Hamilton and 6th Street where there’s a red-light now,
  the old building still has part of the Nash logo showing behind peeling paint on the front. Part of me will no longer
be when that shabby mess is finally pulled down, or spruced up and the front painted over.

At the Kaiser-Frazer dealership in the ultra-modern art-deco showroom on Highway 98 across town in Little Dothan. 

That building was recently demolished. 

That old Sunday School Bible story of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named-And-Centuries-Later-Would-Be-Revered-as-Adonai-Because-E-Yeh-Was-Too-Sacred-To-Be-Uttered-Aloud — the God of Abraham introducing himself to Moses — is one of my all time favorites. It best keeps my heart and mind in the knowledge and love of God as I visualize, “Moshe! Moshe! Welcome! Hey, man, this is my place, holy ground: take off your shoes and make yourself comfortable. I AM the God of Abraham, Name of E-Yeh. Let's talk!”


Friday, February 26, 2016

Life Is Good

Life. It goes, is going, has gone, went by too fast. Best thing about old age? That I have more memories than you, that I can remember what you thought was only history. Neither are my memories eighty years of the same thing over and over again, but series of different things, different eras, different people, different loves, different words**, different children, different schools, different vocations, different places, different cars***, different tastes, different interests*, different stages, different ages …

*Different interests: there was when my main was astronomy, but long faded and I don’t even want my telescope back except to look at ships way out in the Gulf of Mexico from 7H which, to use an astronomical telescope such as mine required an eyepiece with an erecting prism, otherwise the ship would show upside down. I prefer theology to politics; and the comics to the news, especially Candorville, Calvin & Hobbes, and Cul de Sac where there’s a buckethead
 named Kevin in whom I see myself, a buckethead of neurons and synapses that in Time will stop shining like a burned out lightbulb. That’s for Time; as for Eternity, IDK, but I’m thinking it may be the Time and Space between the Big Bang and Absolute Zero. The other side of Absolute Zero is nothing comprehensible, not even Space, not Time and, without synapses and neurons, no thought, no concepts, no Being. Meaning that even Eternity has boundaries, limits. Einstein said outside the universe is nothing, not even space, but I think he was wrong, that our expanse is just one of infinite probabilities in which countless tiny dots are eternally banging. I’m no goofier than usual this morning, but sitting here at my Bay window I see flashing red and green lights on the sea, I see the moon in the sky, I see what may be Jupiter, and I’m wondering what if we had four moons in the sky instead of just one.

**See, this is what happens at Old Age, when I’m so free that my main worry can be the difference between τό δαιμόνιον and ὁ δαίμων. What comes next? And when?

***Different cars: my all time favorite was a red Tahoe, now it’s a silver SRX V8.
 Or maybe this and a lunch of mullet and oysters. Ah and Frank reminded me, the gumbo with its thick dark brown roux!!


Thursday, February 25, 2016

7th Heaven

Nothing is served by saying “some dodo bird” because it could have been me (it wasn’t) or a friend or someone I care about, but somebody ran their vehicle into the exit gate and knocked it loose, it’s hanging by just its bottom hinge the past couple days, and both gates open. I don’t really like that, it diminishes the sense of security, safety. Thus, I reckon, the dream last night of a burglar here.

What else I love is the wide open southern view across to Shell Island. In yesterday’s aftermath of the violent overnight storm, from 7H we could see breakers in the Gulf of Mexico rolling ashore on the other side of the island. And during the night, the lights of a sizable ship out in the Gulf waiting for daylight and calm to enter the Bay. 

Actually, I’m not sure it’s still an island, the Old East Pass may be completely filled in and closed so that it would be Shell Peninsula or such.

Also to love is the complete sweep of St. Andrews Bay from east to west. I could wish 7H had been here forty years ago when we retired from the Navy. 

A calm, peaceful, safe and secure, private, beautiful place to live. I don’t see children, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t here, because we hardly ever see anybody. 

Some sort of working craft sitting directly across from us, looks like something from Tom Sawyer's day. Could be a dredge IDK. 

Seeing that I'm thinking of Tom Sawyer, make that we don't hardly never see nobody. 


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

every day is a beautiful day and life is a toll bridge

Every Day is a Beautiful Day and Life is a Toll Bridge

A highlight, one of the best things I’ve been subscribed to (tks, Bonnie) is Anu Garg’s When the news is bad, it will be bad throughout 2016 God help us what imbecile shouts “I love uneducated people”, or the weather is bad, even bad weather is a joy from 7H, or to daimonion emerges from the shadows to stir a computer-crashing song or memory, Anu opens for a lift, both with a new Word and with a cleverly selected Thought. 

Sometimes, as for Monday, the word was especially apt, “piacular” showing up during Lent. So, theologically, in Christian theology, the sins of the world — human sins that is — nonhumans, all who didn’t eat the apple with Adam, even the serpent didn't get a taste -- are incapable of sin, a benefit of knowing not that you know not — the sins of the world are piacular, requiring atonement. And O Lamb of God that takest away the sins of the world is theologically the piacular sacrifice; indeed according to atonement theology the only one that could accomplish the work. It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, that the torturous dark casuistry of rationalizing a Father God who demands justice that can be accomplished only by the sacrificial agony of the one and only Son GodMan is, to use a choice word of the Athanasian Creed, incomprehensible. But there it is, all laid out for us, and for justifying one such as a recent shooter who, having just murdered several people, said that as long as he believes in Jesus, he is saved. Whatever that means. God save us from the ignorant.

At any event, two or three bits of wisdom from Anu Garg this week. 



adjective: Making or requiring atonement.

Good one, and apt, but piacular is too recent in for me to work it into a sermon and leave hearers impressed that I actually already had it in my vocabulary. I’ll use it next Lent.

Here’s more from Anu:

The closing years of life are like the end of a masquerade party, when the masks are dropped. -Arthur Schopenhauer, philosopher (22 Feb 1788-1860) 

Speaking for myself, the eighties are surely the closing years of life, but I’m not about to drop the mask. Old tommy wooden head still masquerading as the real boy that Pinocchio so longed to be. Pinocchio made it, tommy wooden head cannot possibly and will go to the grave wearing this mask.

Anu’s offering for Wednesday, this morning —

Come, live in my heart and pay no rent. -Samuel Lover, songwriter, composer, novelist, and artist (24 Feb 1797-1868) 

My response is that you pay no rent but you sure as hell take a toll. 


Every day is a beautiful day. On this beautiful day, the sky is fairly clear, sun is out, wind is gale force, and St. Andrews Bay is beautiful whitecaps.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Ships passing not in the night

Ships coming and going: first time since living here we've witnessed two sizable vessels meeting and passing in the channel right off our porch, directly in front of us. There was no exchange of horn signals indicating otherwise, and they will pass port to port, the convention. Ship on the right, with her superstructure and bridge in her bow, is headed east toward the hairpin turn and out to sea. Ship on the left is headed west and toward the channel's sharp turn and on to the Port of Panama City. In the background: Davis Point, with its memories.

2016 Lent Term: the second session of our Tuesday Morning Bible Seminar gathers this morning. As is generally the case, we have a nice size group for lively discussion, but still and always plenty of room at the table for whoever would like to come, so this is our open and ongoing invitation. Mary Stuart Poole Library at HNEC, ten o’clock to eleven-fifteen.

This morning we’ll finish last time’s opening discussion of Luke’s christology, and I have five more examples for us to consider: did the evangelist, author of the Gospel according to Luke actually have as low a christology as scholars have been telling us these past maybe two hundred years or so, or are there hints otherwise? 

A few minutes to think on that; then, seeing it’s Lent, we’ll pick up our journey as Jesus arrives in Jerusalem and spend our sessions until Palm Sunday with him there ministering toward his destiny: 

VI. Jesus’ ministry in Jerusalem (19:28-21:38)
  A. Entry, lament over Jerusalem and cleansing of the temple (19:28-46)
  B. Reaction to Jesus: Hostility and acceptance (19:47-48)
  C. Teaching: Controversies with authorities(20:1-21:4)
  D. Teaching: Fate of Jerusalem, persecutions, end time (21:5-38)

VII. Passion of Jesus (22:1-23:56a)
  A. The empty tomb (23:56b-24:12)
  B. Appearance on the road to Emmaus (24:13-35)
  C. Appearance commissioning the disciples (24:36-49)
  D. Jesus is taken up into heaven (24:50-53)

I want to finish our study of the gospel with Luke’s presentation of resurrection and ascension, because during the Easter Season this year, Lectionary Year C, we have our opportunity that comes round once every three years, to read and discuss Revelation, the Apocalypse.


"... for whoever would like to come" is a prepositional phrase and it's mine, so I'm making "whoever" nominative, the subject; not accusative and "whomever" as I would if there were nobody who would like to come; like it or lump it.

Monday, February 22, 2016


From the middle nineteen-forties when World War II ended with the two main aggressors crushed in large part because of our participation and contribution, America has been regarded as leader of the free world. There has always been reservation to it, seeing us as leader, because admired is not the same as feared, and respect is earned not commanded. Power is an element of leadership, but brandishing power not. Being a “superpower” carries enormous risk and responsibility, because arrogance and bullies are hated, detested, contemned. Goes whether it’s business, military, nation, school, classroom, family, playground, government. 

In history every “superpower” eventually has come down, some brought down, some just disintegrated. It has been sad to me, and distressing, to observe our decline in my lifetime. We were never perfect “within,” but there were years in my memory when America seemed like the place to go, a land of freedom, opportunity, goodness. Time was when people were sneaking in, nobody was trying to escape America, and sneaking in to work and live and love, not to kill and maim and hate. Lederer & Burdick’s Ugly American was always around but not always our embodiment. That has shifted. We have become second rate and embraced it; worse, relishing it. Not in a power sense, but in a human sense. We are the bully, the buffoon, the boor, we are Moe of Calvin and Hobbes. Comic, our political circus is a laughing stock of classless clowns. It’s time to be ashamed, but we've lost the sensitivity to discern that.


Sunday, February 21, 2016

Abram and יְהוִה

This morning I’m looking at today’s First Reading (Genesis 15) where Abram is chatting with God, and here is God again shamelessly enticing Abram with the idea of land and descendants and being a blessing; and Abram scoffs. Remember, the next time God does this, years later, Abram and Sarai laugh outright, embarrassing God and annoying God finally to procreative action, God saying Sarai won't have the last laugh. 

But anyway, I’m looking in the Hebrew bible at this morning’s conversation between God and Abram, and I’m noticing that Abram is calling God יְהוִה. Well, they were old drinking buddies by then, weren’t they, a relationship that started way back when Abram was only seventy-five, and lasting a quarter century while Abram and Sarai were believing יְהוִה, and יְהוִה was reckoning it to them as “righteousness” when all the aging couple really wanted was a child.

Isaac, of course finally arrived while יְהוִה was still seething that everybody had laughed at Him. I doubt that יְהוִה was amused, either, when Sarai named Isaac “laughter” or "the last laugh" —which may be one reason God gives Isaac such a relatively minor role in Heilsgeschichte

So, what’s my point. Nothing really except that quite clearly, Abram was on a first name basis with יְהוִה centuries before Moses ever showed up at the burning bush and asked God his Name and God said, probably already annoyed at Moses for grazing sheep in his front yard, "I'm the God of Abraham ... and my name is יְהוִה." In today's story, יְהוִה tells Abram what’s going to happen in the future that ultimately will involve Moses. But in my view, Abram and David were God’s all time favorites, not Moses at all. Moses and יְהוִה constantly irritated each other, and I don’t think יְהוִה even really liked Moses. Loved him yes, chesed and agápē, but Moses was reluctant and a whiner, and it’s not easy to like a whiner. I don’t know how יְהוִה could stand him.

But today’s old time Genesis 15 Sunday School story
 about יְהוִה and Abram and the two old friends enjoying and trusting each other, sealing covenant with bloody, gory chopped up animals, and vultures circling, and a smoking hot furnace and flaming torch. I love it, in the darkness, weird, scary, mysterious, one of my favorites. 


Saturday, February 20, 2016

χαρὰ καὶ στέφανός

βλέπετε τοὺς κύνας

3:2 Be watching-out-for the dogs[a], be watching out for the evil workers, be watching out for the mutilation[b]. 3 For we are the circumcision, the ones worshiping in the Spirit of God and boasting in Christ Jesus and not putting-confidence in the flesh— 4 though myself having confidence even in the flesh!

If any other person thinks that he may put-confidence in the flesh, I more— 5 in circumcision the eighth day; from the nation of Israel, the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew from Hebrews; in relation to the Law— a Pharisee; 6 in relation to zeal— persecuting the church; in relation to the righteousness in the Law— having been blameless[c].

7 But what things were gains to me, these I have regarded to be a loss for the sake of Christ. 8 But more than that, I am indeed regarding all things to be a loss for the sake of the surpassing greatness of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for the sake of Whom I suffered-loss-of all things and am regarding them as garbage in order that I might gain Christ 9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness from the Law but the one through faith[d] in Christ, the righteousness from God on the basis of faith— 10 that I might know Him and the power of His resurrection and the partnership[e] of His sufferings, being conformed to His death 11 if somehow[f] I might attain to [the power of] the resurrection-out from the dead.

12 Not that I already obtained it or have already been made-perfect[g], but I am pressing-on to see if I may indeed take-hold-of [h] that for which also I was taken hold of by Christ Jesus. 13 Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold, but one thing I do: forgetting the things behind and stretching-toward the things ahead, 14 I am pressing-on toward the goal for the prize of the upward[i] calling from God in Christ Jesus.

15 Therefore, all who are mature— let us be thinking[j] this. And if you are thinking anything differently, God will reveal this also to you. 16 Nevertheless, to what thinking we attained, by the same let us be walking-in-line. 17 Be fellow-imitators of me, brothers, and be watching the ones walking in this manner, just as you have us as a pattern. 18 For many walk as to whom I was often saying to you, and now even weeping say, they are the enemies of the cross of Christ— 19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their stomach and glory is in their shame— the ones thinking[k] the earthly things 20 For our place-of-citizenship is in the heavens, from where also we are eagerly-awaiting the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 Who will transform the body of our lowliness[l] so as to be similar-in-form[m] to the body of His glory, according-to the working that enables Him also to subject all things to Himself.

4:1 So then, my beloved and yearned-for brothers, my joy and crown, be standing-firm in this manner in the Lord, beloved.

2 I exhort Euodia and I exhort Syntyche to be thinking the same[a] thing in the Lord. 3 Yes, I ask you also, genuine comrade[b], be helping these women who contended-together[c] with me in connection with the good-news, along-with both Clement and the rest of my fellow-workers, whose names are in the book of life.

4 Be rejoicing in the Lord always; again I will say, be rejoicing. 5 Let your kindness[d] be known to all people. The Lord is near. 6 Be anxious-about nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgivings, let your requests be made-known to God. 7 And the peace of God surpassing all understanding will guard[e] your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8 Finally, brothers, be considering these things— whatever things are true, whatever things are honorable, whatever things are right, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are commendable, if there is any virtue, and if there is any praise. 9 Be practicing these things which you indeed learned and received and heard and saw in me, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 3:2 - 4:9 Disciples Literal Translation)


If I were preaching on our Second Reading tomorrow (which I am not preaching at all tomorrow, not on this Second Reading or anything else), I might mention that many scholars (I do not deceive myself by taking a seat among them on stage, but only in the farthest and cheapest seat in the back corner of the audience) opine that Paul’s Letter to the Philippians is not a “unity” at all, but three or four letters from Paul that someone later cobbled together, and that a bit clumsily, to yield what we have today. 

And that our Second Reading (Philippians 3:17-4:1) is part of a letter that may go from Philippians 3:2 to 4:9 or so, in which Paul rails furiously against what some call the “judaizers” or “circumcision party” of people who came along after Paul, telling the folks of the churches Paul had established, that Paul was wrong in teaching that it isn’t necessary to first submit to the Law of Moses, be circumcised, and become a Jew before becoming a follower of Jesus Christ; but that it is indeed necessary to submit to the entire Law of Moses in order to be saved.

“βλέπετε τοὺς κύνας, βλέπετε τοὺς κακοὺς ἐργάτας, βλέπετε τὴν κατατομήν” Paul rages startlingly, “look out for the κύνας (dogs, scavenging canines, spiritual predators who feed off others), look out for the the evil workers, look out for the false circumcision.” Then he reminds them that we are the circumcision in the spirit of God. He says those enemies glory in showing you περιτομή, what they have cut off, the body that they have created by what they have cut off; but we glory in the new body that Christ Jesus will give us when he returns, a body like his own resurrection body. 

Doubting Thomas here, the skeptic doesn’t know quite what to make of Paul’s assertion that our citizenship is “in (the) heavens” (ἐν οὐρανοῖς - dative plural). He does not say “in Heaven” so that we visualize what we have come to believe, a place around the throne of God and the Lamb where we saints will stand singing the gloria in excelsis in Anglican Chant throughout eternity. Paul didn’t believe that. An apocalyptist, Paul anticipated the imminent eschaton, the end of the world and the Second Coming of Christ when everyone living and dead would be raptured into the sky for judgment and those who had been under the umbrella of the God of Jesus Christ would be eligible for salvation into the New Creation, the kingdom of God on earth under the reign of the returned Jesus Christ. So, I am not certain what to make of Paul’s statement except in that regard and context of his apocalypticism. 

Thomas again, onetime sometime amateur astronomer gazing into uranos, the heavens, the skies, and not seeing that, of billions upon billions of billions of heavenly bodies, Pantokrator is going to finish such a new creation of this one insignificant tiny Earth speck in anyone’s lifetime.

But then, WTH do I know, I’m certain of nothing, absolutely nothing. Except that χαρὰ καὶ στέφανός the names Stephen, Stephan, Steven, Stephanie mean “crown” and the names Kara, and I suppose Karen, mean “joy.” 

As far as τοὺς κύνας the dogs, the cutters, when they come to town
 I'd agree with Paul, βλέπετε and, adelphoi, KYPIYP, so just as well I’m not preaching tomorrow.

But I may or may not open this up in Adult Sunday School.

Thos+ just mucking along

Friday, February 19, 2016

né Carroll

Seventy or so years ago, wondering why the name I was stuck with (Carroll Weller, Jr.), I asked my father, Thomas Carroll Weller (who was always called Carroll), where his name came from. He said he was named for an uncle named John Thomas Carroll. Growing up, I knew and was told absolutely nothing about that uncle. Browsing online yesterday afternoon, I came across his grave (1855 - 1936) and the grave of his wife Mary Flemming Weller Carroll (1870 - 1948) in Live Oak cemetery. 

Mary Weller and John Thomas Carroll were married at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Jacksonville, Florida, where my ggf was rector after his 1889 retirement from St. John’s, Jacksonville. Mary (b.1870) was one of my grandfather Alfred Weller’s sisters*, the next older child than Alfred (b.1872).
 She and another sister, Hallie, died the same year, 1948. I don’t remember Mary or her name ever being mentioned during my childhood, but Hallie, “Aunt Hal” to my father and his sisters, was often mentioned lovingly, and always seemed special to my grandfather. Though I don't recall ever meeting Hallie, I do remember that my father and Pop drove over to Live Oak for Aunt Hal’s funeral in May 1948. But why I’ve no memory of Mary I cannot imagine; especially seeing that they apparently were close enough at one time for my father to be named for Mary's husband.

I can understand including the surname Carroll, but why my father was called Carroll instead of Thomas beats me. I even came across a silver beltbuckle once, engraved CTW, and asked about it. My parents explained that Mom, my father's mother, had given it to him years ago, having it engraved CTW because she couldn't remember whether his name was Thomas Carroll or Carroll Thomas and concluded it was Carroll Thomas because he was always called Carroll. My mother (né Louise Gentry) who, because of tension between the Gentry and Godfrey/Coley families in Bluff Springs two generations earlier (maybe another story for another time but probably not) had an uneasy relationship with Mom (né Carrie Godfrey), happily regarded the CTW beltbuckle as disgraceful. 

Anyway, had my father been called Thomas, I could visualize a different life for myself growing up a generation later; and probably today I'd be running for president against Bernie Sanders. But being called “Carroll” had to be explained (and dammit, it's a surname and it's spelled Carroll not Carol) throughout my growing up years, and was a source of unending selfconsciousness. I’ve told the rest of the story here before, but it wasn’t until my eighteenth birthday, September 14, 1953, my first class at the University of Florida, that I was saved by a class roster listing me as Weller, Thomas C., Jr. and checking the roll the professor called “Thomas Weller?” No longer "A Boy Named Sue," I answered, “Here" and have been here ever since.

Thomas+ (né Carroll)

* pic: thanks, Mike McKenzie

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Ready or Not

PCNH reprints of front pages from the early 1940s WWII era and an October 1953 issue with Korean War news are in the tray here in the Beck bedroom. May 1942, German submarines operating near shallow waters in the area, I do remember that. I remember worrying my mother about my father, during the war a Maritime Service officer in a tanker steaming the Gulf of Mexico where U-boats were prowling. October 1953 I was a freshman at the University of Florida.

At two o’clock in the morning the liquid supper came home to roost as Father Nature knocked insistently, jumping up and down on my bladder. Our first lenten Wednesday soups were delicious as ever. I try to have a taste of each, concluding with a bowl with cooked carrots and cooked mushrooms, two favorite ingredients. All tasty.

Wednesdays after church generally are social, supper and visiting. But Lent we have an excellent program I really liked, short film “Twenty-four Hours that Changed the World,” a Methodist pastor giving tour, talk and lesson in Jerusalem. Relaxing, informative, pleasant. Over against Leonardo da Vinci's famous painting of the Last Supper with Jesus and disciples sitting at a traditional modern table, the pastor showed us how it actually was, a long, low table, dinner guests on cushions, stretched out reclining to eat. The host at the second place, an honored one on each side. The pastor’s presentation made it logical and obvious that Judas Iscariot was one of two especially honored with a place next to Jesus that night; on the other side of Jesus, the disciple Jesus loved (a figure only in The Gospel according to John).

We watched two of the films, must have been about ten minutes each, and informal discussion after. In the second short film the pastor took us across the Kidron Valley with the little company after supper, including showing us a tree in the garden said to be three-thousand years old, and still there to this day. I can’t help listening to what people say and watching, as I did here, for something that catches me up short as not quite right, or even wrong. Sorry, but I did it again, it happened here. Describing confrontation between Jesus and the devil (the pastor may have called him Satan), the pastor said (don’t recall exact words) that Jesus refused to give up his mission of dying to save the world. I didn’t say so during the discussion after, but the statement struck me as more sentimentality, naively pietistic than anything I’d likely have said, not to mention asynchronous. Giving the pastor positive credit, it did sound more Methodist than Episcopal (at least, my Episcopal). My name is Thomas and I doubt Jesus had it in his mind that night to decline Satan’s offer so that he could go ahead with his mission of dying to save the world. That theology of the cross was retrospective, laid down by the four evangelists and Paul in their writings and developed by the church in generations to come. Jesus’ intent as the pastor expressed it in his statement was a bit much, too sentimentalistic for Thomas. Still and nevertheless, the films are informative, spiritually moving, quite good, and the pastor gives an excellent presentation.

Up early this morning, Thursday, way too early because I couldn’t go back to sleep after Father Nature left. So thinking and typing, and totally absent as an hour long version plays into my head of Canon in D, stirring love in heart and mind.

/s/ Thos+ at 80 remembering 17 & 39 & 63 as Pachelbel hums along. As τὸ δαιμόνιον loves to torment me, old age comes much sooner than expected. I wasn't ready. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

hear nothing, see nothing, know nothing

Pitch black dark predawn, ship arriving in the Bay and sailing briskly by my porch couple minutes later, two tugs await her at the turn north toward the Port. Latest Vessel Schedule was 2 Feb, can’t reliably tell what ship so guessing Forest Panama 442x69 because this old schedule had her ETA yesterday and nothing due in today. A guess is as good as a mile, or something.

Nice on the porch, clear sky, loaded with planets and stars. Love having this south outlook across St. Andrews Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, unobstructed view of the sky. Miss about the old place just one thing: slipping down to MLP from time to time, haven’t been able to adapt porch, or elevator down to park next door, as MLP replacement. 

Yesterday was Bible Seminar, start-up for the Lent Term. Beginning something new I always say too much by way of introduction. The first day, and those present wanted to continue next time, instead of plowing serially through Luke chapter by chapter as we did Mark -- after prayer, opened with my too long intro, then chased from here and there into Luke, Isaiah, Malachi, Mark, looking to form our own tentative opinions of whether the modern Bible criticism school has been unobservant and too assuming these past couple hundred years with a view of Luke as having and conveying what Bible scholars call a low Christology. Looking at what Gabriel said to Zechariah v. Mary; what Zechariah sang v. what Isaiah wrote; what Luke has Jesus say in a story v. what Mark has Jesus say in the same story Lord to specificially God; Luke mingling κύριος from the Greek Septuagint where the Hebrew Bible says YHWH and importing the same verse but κύριος referring to Jesus or deliberately ambiguous. Once we “get it” we can resume our usual practice of plowing through chapter after chapter but alert to Luke’s possibly subtle high Christology. 

Or we can explore an idea that Q is an erroneous hypothesis, that Luke actually had Matthew as a source, an almost heretical notion in modern NT study; and watch for Q instances as we go along and see what we think. Of many fun and interesting possibilities in studying the gospels, one is approaching each in a totally different way; another is testing existing hypotheses such as Q. A scholar I was just reading doubts Q, thinks Luke used Matthew. My tentative problem with that at this point is two-fold. First, considering how long for Matthew to get not just written but into circulation: how much later does that have to make Luke and Acts; and incidentally, what might that do to credibility of the “we” participant in Acts accounts of travels with Paul? Second, difference in Matthew’s and Luke’s beatitudes v. the standard test that the simplest came first. But then what about Luke’s “woes”? IDK, I like the no-Q theory, but at eighty I’ve known Q too long to give it up easily.

Oh WTH, nevermind, IDK.  Shultz, I hear nothing, I see nothing, I know nothing, nothing.

No tabasco chicken okra sausage oyster gumbo for supper, and to daimonion failed to show up in dreams.  

Sunset last evening 20160216:

Mill whistle: 0700 sharp

Thos+ slogging deeper and deeper into the muck of +Time+