Monday, March 30, 2009

What A Radical Notion

Michelle Obama: Happiness tied to how I feel

Newport Beach Sunset

If you squint, or enlarge the photo by clicking on it, you can see Catalina Island off in the distance.

Today In History

March 30, 1533: Thomas Cranmer is consecrated Archbishop of Canterbury, England's highest religious post. He is best known for writing the first Book of Common Prayer.

March 30, 1820: The first Anglican missionaries arrive at the Sandwich Islands, now known as Hawaii, and are welcomed by King Kamehameha II.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Euclid Beach Rocket

[I can't tell you how much fun it was to grow up just a couple of miles away from a lakefront amusement park.]

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Earth Hour

A very earnest young woman called the office the other day to ask if we were participating in "Earth Hour". For those who do not know, this is a well-meaning and scientifically delusional attempt to encourage people around the world to think that they're doing something warming, I guess, or carbon something or other.... Come to think of it, she really didn't explain it too well. Anyway, it involves shutting off the lights for one hour beginning at 8:30 Saturday evening.

Well, as one who once carried a "Nuclear Freeze" placard in a demonstration about three decades ago and is married to someone who once protested the launching of a nuclear submarine, I wanted to assure her of my Pyrrhic resume. Thus, I promised that we would not have any lights on at Trinity Church at 8:30 this evening. In fact, I told her we would extend our participation in Earth Hour from one hour to eleven hours and would not turn the lights on at the church until 7:30 on Sunday morning.

She was very pleased with us.

I then asked her if she would be participating in our "Hour of God" demonstration on Sunday morning and I think she choked a little bit. She said she would think about it. Yeah.

The Fifth Sunday In Lent

Jeremiah offers prophecy as to the new covenant to come, the Hebrews learn of who appointed Jesus, and the Greeks get interested in this new rabbi who is both anarchic and orthodox at the same time. All this plus what happens when you paint a hearse blue instead of black.

The lections may be found here.

Today In History

March 28, 1661: Scottish Parliament passes the Rescissory Act, repealing all church-state legislation created since 1633 (Charles I's reign). In essence, the act restored the Anglican episcopacy to Scotland and quashed Presbyterianism, which had been the national church since 1638. In 1690 Parliament again established the Church of Scotland as Presbyterian.

Noir Stairwell

Friday, March 27, 2009

Bach And Brahms, Too

Beethoven likely to miss Kentucky Derby

An Obituary Of Note

This really isn't for people who limit themselves to Euro-Caucasian music, so skip it if you do, but Uriel Jones has died. He was the only drummer who could bring out the fire in the late James Jamerson, my bass-playing idol.

Above are the two laying down the funk.

[An interesting footnote: Jamerson's bass, the Funkmaster, disappeared shortly before his death. It was thought that he hocked it for drug money. Over the decades it has become a kind of "holy grail" in the bass world, as it is still sought be collectors and others. It has one recognizable feature, which I will reveal only in person. You can't be too careful, you know.]

Charlotte Amalie

Quotation Of The Week

"You are surprised that the world is losing its grip? That the world is grown old? Don't hold onto the old man, the world; don't refuse to regain your youth in Christ, who says to you: 'The world is passing away; the world is losing its grip; the world is short of breath. Don't fear, your youth shall be renewed as an eagle.'"

—Augustine of Hippo

Today In History

March 27, 1667: English poet John Milton publishes Paradise Lost, the epic of creation and the fall.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Someone Call MADD

Wild turkey sends Maine motorcyclist to hospital

Today In History

March 25, 1625: England's King James I dies. In 1604, at the Hampton Court Conference, James authorized the translation project that produced the 1611 King James (Authorized) Version of the Bible.

Above is a link to an extremely lively, readable, and interesting book about the translation and composition of the King James' Version, along with all of the political games and personalities that make history so eternal. [It was recommended to me by Bill Warren.]


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Usable News

Spring gardening is a dangerous sport, claim doctors

Today In History

March 24, 1208: After England's irreligious King John opposed his choice for Archbishop of Canterbury, Pope Innocent III places Britain under an interdict. Innocent had all religious services canceled, churches closed, and the dead were not given Christian burials until John surrendered. Soon after, the king signed the Magna Carta, in which the first article affirms "That the Church of England shall be free . . .

Foo Dog

Saturday, March 21, 2009

More News From The Greater Church

Pine Ridge congregations vote to form new church

Interesting quotation:

"In September 2008, Bishop Creighton Robertson announced plans to close the nine churches because of falling attendance and failing finances and to return the buildings and land to the original owners, or to the tribe. Some of those churches, including Christ Church, Inestimable Gift Church in Allen and St. Barnabas Church in Kyle, which Montileaux serves, continued to hold services in defiance of diocesan orders."

So they don't have the people or finances to keep these mission congregations open, but the parishioners have the fire and gumption to keep worshipping in the face of both canon and civil law. The folks that brought Anglicanism to this part of the world sure earned their 87 cents a year. Still, there must be more to this story....

[One thing that comes to mind is that the bishop is a member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota tribe and most of the leadership of the "closed" parishes is Oglala Lakota; tribal issues and rivalries run deep, even (surprise!) in the the Episcopal Church. It's much easier to be Shawnee.]

Confirmation Class Rumor Control

I heard a rumor that I wasn't interested in holding Confirmation classes. Oh, dear. That's hardly accurate, in fact quite the contrary, especially given my stirring announcement at the annual meeting [you had to be there to hear it] and this posting from a couple of months ago.

Really, when have ever been disinterested in preparing people for the sacrament?

Confirmation is open to youth and adult members of the parish who wish to enrich their spiritual and, more importantly, religious lives. Please ask the vicar for details.

The Fourth Sunday In Lent

Also known as Laetare Sunday [Latin for "O be joyful"], this week we look at the Old Testament remedy for snakebite, aspects of Ephesian grace, and hear once again the most oft-quoted verse from the Gospels.

All this plus we meet an Austrian schlangenfresser.

The lections may be found here.

Attention Chefs And Cooks: This May Be The Best Weblog Ever

No, not this one. This one:

The Crepes of Wrath

I'm going for the Crock Pot Shredded Chicken Chili myself.

Friday, March 20, 2009

News From The Greater Church

The bishops of the Episcopal Church, concerned as they are about both the economy and the environment, spent diocesan money to fly and drive to North Carolina to speak of such things and to write a letter, the text of which may be found here.

Do you think we'll ever come to a day when the expression "speak truth to power" doesn't appear in a well-meaning missive produced by a committee of concerned people? Or variations of the expression "to live into"?

[An explanation of the photo: Kanuga Conference Center, where the bishops met, is near Hendersonville, North Carolina. That was the home of Johnny Cash (and also, for a time, Roy Orbison)].

Mean Woman Blues - Roy Orbison

The World Is Too "Evolved" For Religion, Part Two

Chaplain at Hospice resigns over ban on word 'God'

It's okay to talk about mortality, just don't mention the Creator.

Stella Maris

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I Wonder How It Got Into His Underwear

Man wrestles 'lunatic ninja' kangaroo in his underwear

A Letter From OWLs Kitchen

Click to enlarge and read.

[I should point out that this donation was raised, on the spot, by those in attendance at the annual Shrove Tuesday dinner.]

Great Photo. Wish I'd Taken It

Click to enlarge.

Celtic Prayer

It is Thou
who givest the bright sun,
together with the ice;
It is Thou
who createdst the rivers
and the salmon in the river.
That the nut-tree should be flowering,
O Christ,
it is a rare craft;
through Thy skill too
comes the kernel,
Thou fair ear of our wheat.
Though the children of Eve
ill deserve
the bird-flocks and the salmon,
it was
the Immortal One on the cross
who made
both the salmon and the birds.

It is He
who makes
the flower of the sloe grow through the bark of the blackthorm,
and the nut-flower on the trees;
beside this,
what miracle is greater?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Looks Like The Honeymoon Is Over

Obama merchandise 50% off

Feast Day Of The Great Scotsman

St. Patrick, of course. I also understand he had something to do with Ireland. If one attends one of our offerings in Celtic spirituality, one may learn more of this fellow. It's a pretty good story.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Third Sunday In Lent

Wherein we compare the financial structure of General Motors with that of the Temple, with appreciation of Jesus particular role as an autonomous agent. The lections may be found here.

[Above is Casting Out The Money Changers by Carl Heinrich Bloch]

Lest We Forget

Today is National Pi Day. [Why? Because it's 3/14]

Above is Jenni's famous tomato pie. I don't know who took the wedge out. Maybe the dog.

Green Flash

For those unfamiliar with the tropics, there is a legendary moment when, just before the sun sets, there appears a "green flash" as the star disappears below the horizon. It is rare to see, so much so that early Caribbean tribal religion thought it to be a portent of great change.

This is as close as I ever got to a photo of it. As you can see, a filter had to be used to mute the sunset some.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Oxford Movement

This morning our processional hymn was #10, or Kedron, the text of which was taken from a poem by The Rev. John Keble. As promised, here is further information about Keble and his colleagues.

It was one of those occasions, routine and familiar in the workings of both the Church of England and the Royal Courts. At the beginning of each annual session, judges, barristers, solicitors, and other court officials would gather for a service in the chapel at the Inns of Court and listen to a sermon on the topic of justice. Generally, this sermon was not at all memorable.

On July 14, 1833, The Rev. John Keble, chair of poetry at Oxford University and the author of a very popular collection of poetry entitled The Christian Year, was invited to give the “Assize Sermon”. While some may have been blithely looking forward to a sermon of some intelligence and even lyricism, a note of its title, “National Apostasy”, may have given them some clue as to what was to follow.

Remarkably, Keble, a clergyman of careful articulation and pastoral bearing, denounced both the nation and the leadership of the Church of England for turning away from God and coming to regard the Church as a mere institution of society, rather than as the prophetic voice of God. The sermon caused a tremendous sensation.

So sensational, that Keble’s fellow ordained Oxford dons, a group that included John Henry Newman, the vicar of the university’s church, and Edward Bouverie Pusey, professor of Hebrew at Christ Church, joined together to continue the address of this serious issue and to aid the return of more devotional elements in theology and worship. Namely, they strove to bring back a theology of the sacrament and an intellectual muscularity to common churchmanship.

The Oxford Movement’s rallying point was what was known as “Branch Theory”, which understands that Anglicanism, along with Eastern Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism, form three "branches" of one catholic Church. Correspondingly, most of the Movement’s leaders included traditional aspects of liturgy from medieval practice, in order to emphasize the non-verbal aspects of worship in whose absence the Church had become rather plain. Thus, there was a return to the so-called “high church” practices that are found in the stronger communities within the Anglican Communion to this day.

This was not a popular notion to the leadership of the Church of England. In true episcopal fashion, Keble, Newman, and Pusey were all subjected to some form of punishment for their efforts. Keble was banished to a parish in Hampshire. Pusey was forbidden from preaching for five years. Newman became so alienated that he "swam the Tiber" and beacame a Roman Catholic priest, and eventually a cardinal. The students of the dons were largely denied positions in the church, thus forcing them to find ramshackle ministries in either the slums of London or in the less savory portions of the British Empire.

However, the effect of the Oxford Movement was not so easily suppressed. The zeal known by the students of the dons, fueled as it was by their sense of employment injustice and the bureaucratic martyrdom of their favorite professors, was fed into a variety of organizations that became dedicated to addressing issues of social inequality, especially the seminal Christian Social Union.

Effects of the Oxford Movement may be seen in our own practices, too. The fact that we celebrate the Holy Eucharist, that our clergy wear vestments, and that men and women are welcome in Holy Orders all grow from the writings and practices of those simple academicians.

Keble’s Assize Sermon may be found here. A sound history of the Oxford Movement may be purchased through the link supplied below.

From Today's Adult Forum

An aerial view of a model of Jerusalem as it appeared in the First Century, A.D. [or C.E.]. Note that this was the urban portion and that there were "suburbs" that ringed the city as well. The large structure to the right is, of course, the Temple.

Population in the First Century was about 50,000 within the walls and, according the Tacitus, around 600,000 if the surrounding area is added to the total. [I had always been told 300,000, but there is no sure way of knowing, of course. The 50,000 figure is based on an anthropologist's estimate of how many could fit within the walls without succumbing to famine and/or disease from a fouled water supply.]


Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Second Sunday In Lent

This week we learn what's in a name and Jesus continues his teachings on the role of paradox in comprehending the Kingdom. We also meet Cousin Buzz and Uncles Bon and Wiwi.

The lections may be found here.

[Icons of Abraham and Sarah are rare outside of depictions of Isaac's near-sacrifice. Above is an icon entitled "The Hospitality of Abraham and Sarah" when they hosted angels by the oaks of Mamre.]

Tomorrow Is Liberation Day

Liberation, that is, from the infamous "Walk of Shame" and the barring of the door.


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Another Feast Day

Because it's 3/3/09.

Feast of John and Charles Wesley

During one of the moribund periods in church history, namely during the first half of the 18th century when [surprise!] usage of the Book of Common Prayer had fallen into an indifferent lassitude, the Wesleys, along with fellow students at Oxford, began to re-discover prayerful harmony through adherence to the Prayer Book's structure. Because of this, they were referred to by their fellow students as "Methodists".

As time went by, they graduated and moved to the colony of Georgia, where John served as an Anglican missionary and Charles as assistant to the governor. Neither found those positions particularly fulfilling. Then, within days of one another, the brothers received a moment of epiphany. As powerful as the intellect could be in proclaiming the Gospel, so, too, was to be honored the emotional response one may elicit. Thus began this evangelical strain within our tradition.

John was the preacher and Charles the hymn-writer. John believed in the use of lay preachers, sometimes ill-educated, to create a Paul-Peter type of proclamation dualism. While this practice may have caused the Wesley's homiletics professors to shudder, it could be effective. Consider the following anecdote:

The early Methodist meetings were often led by lay preachers with very limited education. On one occasion, such a preacher took as his text Luke 19:21, "Lord, I feared thee, because thou art an austere man." Not knowing the word "austere," he thought that the text spoke of "an oyster man." He spoke about the work of those who retrieve oysters from the sea-bed. The diver plunges down from the surface, cut off from his natural environment, into bone-chilling water. He gropes in the dark, cutting his hands on the sharp edges of the shells. Now he has the oyster, and kicks back up to the surface, up to the warmth and light and air, clutching in his torn and bleeding hands the object of his search. So Christ descended from the glory of heaven into the squalor of earth, into sinful human society, in order to retrieve humans and bring them back up with Him to the glory of heaven, His torn and bleeding hands a sign of the value He has placed on the object of His quest. Twelve men were converted that evening. Afterwards, someone complained to Wesley about the inappropriateness of allowing preachers who were too ignorant to know the meaning of the texts they were preaching on. Wesley, simply said, "Never mind, the Lord got a dozen oysters tonight."*

Charles wrote over 600 hymns, including such favorites as "Oh for a thousand tongues to sing".

The Methodist Society was intended to be a part of the Anglican/Episcopal Church as a place for evangelical zeal and teaching. So ill-received was it by the bishops, yet so popular with laity and clergy with common sense, that the Methodist Church eventually developed into it's own denomination.

The lections for today may be found here.

[*from John Wesley's Sermons: An Introduction, by Albert C. Outler.]