Saturday, October 31, 2009

All Saints' Sunday

This week Solomon waxes poetic on the nature of the soul, John of Patmos waxes hallucinogenic on the new Jerusalem, and Jesus demonstrates the exact way to read his audience's emotions. All this plus how Halloween reinforces social convention [and why that's important].

The lections may be found here.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Hey, Parents

Just a reminder that the Rectory will be dispensing the usual treats for All Hallows' Eve on Saturday in Roxbury from 5pm until 7pm. Consider it a very safe stop for trick-or-treaters and a rest stop for parents.

Just Perfect For A Snow Day; Or When The Schools Are Closed Due To H1N1

A website that enables you to watch hundreds of classic movies on your computer. For free, I might add.

Classic Cinema Online

[If you don't know, ask the rector how to hook up your computer to your tv set. It's especially good if you have a 58 inch set.]

I recommend "Crack in the World". It stars the ever-fab actor, Kieron Moore.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Best Story And Photo Of The Week. Thus Far.

KFC 'colonel' dupes UN security

[You should know that Mrs. Rector once worked for a television ad studio that had The Colonel as a client. Lord, the stories she could tell you about Harlan.]

Changing Times

The first wetsuit I ever bought was black. The second one was black with the manufacturer's name written in gray on the chest. Both were long-lived and serviceable in a variety of surf conditions. In fact, I'd still have that first one if a mouse hadn't eaten through it one winter.

This is what the new one looks like and, believe me, this is one of the "quieter" examples in the art of neoprene:

It reminds me of what a lot of congregations try to do: bring a lot of flash to something that's actually pretty basic. All a wetsuit needs to do is keep me warm in the surf and not come apart on rough days. It should be capable of being balled up in the back of the pickup for the ride home, abide with all forms of abrasive sand, and even host a shellfish or two. A fashion plate I don't need to be.

All congregations need to do is provide ministries that support all who enter through the doors. Parishes are to invite, welcome, sustain, and challenge as they have been doing since the first timorous collection gathered in those terrible and exciting early days of Christianity. While one may dress up ministry with new slogans, trendy topics, and obsequious overtures to episcopal authority, real ministry, whatever its guise or presentation, is carried not by its packaging but by its reality. It serves in a manner that is sturdy, long-lived, and remarkably utilitarian.

As a wetsuit is judged by its function rather than its colors, so is a parish judged by the happiness and community that is generated by its ministry. I think we've done well in regards to happiness. Now its time to begin to rebuild the aspects of fellowship and innovation that will enable our community to become stronger.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Another Sort Of Story About Canterbury

This seems apt, given that today is the Feast of William Temple, who was Archbishop during the Second World War. This story, however, is about a more contemporary Archbishop of Canterbury and includes a bit of a mystery; one that is aided by a scuba diver with the uncanny ability to assign motive without the clumsy need of corroborating evidence. Come to think of it, a weird religious practice would be a good way for the divers to sell their story for publication and, maybe, a reality series.

Bishop’s rare gifts immersed in river mystery

My favorite quote: "But Gary Bankhead does not believe a robbery was involved. Based on the location of the finds, he has concluded that Ramsey himself probably dropped the items into the river."

Thanks, "Kreskin".

[Above is Durham Cathedral, thought by many to be the most beautiful of all the cathedrals in the UK.]

Deanery Meeting Tonight

As hosted by Christ Church, we will be offering a program on the H1N1 virus. All members of the deanery [that's you, the reader] are invited. It begins at 7:00 pm with the Office of Evening Prayer.

Their Water Tasted "Salty"

Something sure to raise the blood pressure of anyone who has ever worked in any form of emergency services, especially as a volunteer:

Responders fear misuse of 'Yuppie 911' GPS beacons

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Twenty-First Sunday After Pentecost

This week Job concludes, Christianity is reconciled with the Jewish priesthood, and Jesus grants a special request. All this plus how some old rectory floorboards gives sustenance during difficult days.

The lections may be found here.

Follow The Episcopal Election On Twitter

Just look to the right hand column of The New Coracle to find the frequent updates.

Friday, October 23, 2009

We Won

I do have celebratory news to bring via Diocesan Convention. Christ Church, Roxbury just received a very large trophy for pledging the largest amount to the Bishop's Fund. Maureen and I received it on everyone's behalf and it is now strapped to the hood of my car.

Photos to follow, I hope, and it will be in the sanctuary on Sunday morning.
I just read of the terrible accident that occurred yesterday, and of the stark tragedy that has been experienced by an area family. Please mark these young men in your prayers and, if anyone knows how we may be of assistance, please let me know. A convention at which I am merely an observer is something that is easy to skip in order to aid those in my town, regardless of whether or not they are members of our parish.

UPDATE: Many thanks to those of you who alerted me to this. As it turns out, the young man who died was also a graduate of Rumsey Hall School, where I serve as chaplain. As ever, please let any and all know that we stand by to help.

From One Convention To Another

Back just in time for the Connecticut Episcopalian version of Woodstock. [Well, without the mud, music, drugs, or general conviviality.] Watch Twitter for updates, such as they are. I'm banished to the cathedral choir loft due to diocesan bureaucracy which prevents me from voting or sitting on the floor. [Apparently, I haven't been in the diocese long enough. Yeah, I know.] But I may have the chance to blog, so who knows?

One other advantage to non-voting is that I may be able to visit the Cabela's store for their weekend sale without missing a ballot.

Yellow Helmets

[The West Coast guys prefer these to the black helmets familiar in the East. Don't know why.]

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sunday, October 18, 2009


I'm to attend the annual convention of fire department chaplains in California this week, then return just in time for diocesan convention on Friday and Saturday. Before anyone gets any ideas, the convention is nowhere near a surf beach. In fact, it's in the California desert where, two days ago, it was sunny and 100 degrees Fahrenheit. I understand it will cool down to 97 this week.

No updates for The New Coracle, unless I get near an open computer, but there may be some Twitter haiku from time to time [located in the right hand column of this page].

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Scenes From Today's Tractor And Farm Show

Okay, I confess it. I'm actually more interested in Highland cattle, old pickups, stuff from Cleveland, and vintage logo graphics. Also, the batteries in my camera went dead after about six photos.

Do we not live in a great town?

[Click photos to enlarge.]

The Twentieth Sunday After Pentecost

This week Job gets his answer, the Hebrews learn why Jesus fits the criteria for high priest, and their rabbi deals with a dispute among the disciples. All this plus a day on the water with the battling Clifford brothers.

The lections may be found here.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Today In History

October 16, 1555: Church of England bishops Hugh Latimer [Worcester] and Nicholas Ridley [Rochester] are burned at the stake at the order of Roman Catholic Queen Mary Tudor.

Above is a monument to Latimer and Ridley, as well as to Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, who was martyred a year later. The monument is found in Oxford at the site of the martyrdom. [Please click to enlarge.]

A Birthday Of Note

Today is Michael "Flea" Balzary's birthday. This may mean nothing to you, but he's the bassist for the Red Hot Chili Peppers and is easily one of the best in popular music. Interesting taste in stage wear, too. [Warning: This music isn't to everyone's taste.]

Thursday, October 15, 2009

That Flag Again

Having dinner at the Rectory with a Yalie tonight. Naturally, that means the Princeton flag comes out.

I may as well just leave it up since Princeton [orange and black] plays Brown [brown] in football on Saturday.

I'm Really Hoping The Browns Signed That Deer

Ohio Boy Tackled By Deer While Playing Football

Surf Festival Guitar

For those who asked....

Amazing what one may do with a shower curtain, isn't it?

An Obituary Of Note

Blue Cheer's Dickie Peterson, 1946-2009

I realize that this is of interest to very few of those who read this [me], but Peterson was significant for two reasons:

1. He was a bass player.

2. He played so loudly that he literally had calluses on his eardrums. [A medical fact.]

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I Was Robbed

I didn't make the list? Quelle domage!

100 Best Professors Who Blog

Of course, my tenure as adjunct professor of Christian Education and Spirituality [there's that word, again] at Hartford Seminary is over, but still....

No Surprise, Really

Especially as its the closest church to the White House, the easiest for the Secret Service to secure, and the one with a congregation that does not stare at First Families, given how used they are to hosting them.

Have the Obamas found a church?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A Word About The Header

It's been a while since I changed the header of this weblog, mainly because it took me so long to find a good photo of an actual coracle. If you don't know what a coracle is, please scroll below.

However, I made a temporary change because I had become used to the happy face depicted above greeting me every morning. Since that greeting has been missing for the past week, I arranged the next best thing. It'll stay for awhile, mainly because the photo fits so well with the title and the silliness below it.

For the new readers of the weblog, of whom there are now many, I should explain a few things.

1. I once worked as a "stringer", a very free-lance reporter, for a newspaper chain in western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio. It was the practice of one of the editors to post poorly written sentences, paragraphs, and, in particular, headlines on a bulletin board in the middle of the reporters' room. Usually they were pretty funny and I have been amused by such errors ever since, especially when I make them. With the advent of the Internet, I find more and more examples and share them from time to time, usually on Sunday afternoons or evenings.

2. We really do have an international readership and I regularly correspond with many of those who read the weblog. It's an interesting collection of folks, especially those from Finland. A map may be found on the right side of this page that displays where our readers live.

3. After a decade as a private school chaplain, I became fatigued with parents and their offspring explaining to me that they didn't engage in the practice of common worship [in other words, going to church on Sunday mornings] because they were "spiritual, not religious". That was a convenient way, I thought, to intellectualize Sunday morning indolence, especially since their definition of "spiritual" seemed to be limited to reading the collected works of Shirley Maclaine, sort of knowing that Buddhist monks looked kind of cool, and despairing of those who weren't of their social class.

In a gentle lampoon of that attitude, I understood that meant that those of us who do worship together on a Sunday and other mornings, and do strive to conform to the holy call of the Gospel, were "religious, not spiritual". Hence, my insouciant motto. Really, though, can one be spiritual and not feel the call to common worship and a deeper knowledge of at least one religious tradition, with all of its challenges? Can one be truly spiritual and not be religious?

4. A coracle is a round, rudder-less boat that more or less goes where it wants to go. Rather like this weblog, you see. While useful for moving downstream, a coracle is a near complete botch in open water. However, there is a very important story in Celtic Christianity about three men in a coracle which I will be happy to reveal one Sunday morning. Just not sure when, yet. I guess you'll just have to keep coming Sunday mornings to find out.

The Inevitable Christmas Creep

No, it's not a person; it's the anticipated Feast of the Incarnation getting even more anticipated by the nation's retailers. As we all recognize, and especially in a time of economic fluctuation, the sooner a business can get out its seasonal inventory, the better for the bottom line.

Some examples from The Consumerist:

On Sept. 27th

On August 27th

On Sept. 9th, a Big Lots was already having its "Christmas Clearance" sale.

From last year, a Halloween Tree

And, on a related note, Easter candy for sale in December.

Just so you know, in Christianity, the Christmas season still begins at sundown on December 24th.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Calling All Cars

Raven Detained for Stalking Woman Escapes Police

Best sentence: "A malevolent raven described by authorities as 'incredibly clever' is back at large after escaping from police custody."

I'm guessing the bird answers to the name "Professor Moriarty".

Most Everyone, Actually

Most children treated in hospital were previously healthy

There's A Hospital For Bison?

Hunter gored by bison recovering at hospital

More From The Post-Christian World

E.E. Evans, of the website, often writes about how common usage of religious terminology has been changing as more and more people are disassociated from religious life and unfamiliar with the theological definitions of the words they employ, often to describe popular personalities and social trends. Through no fault of his own, our current president seems to particularly attract religious adjectives. [So much so that I've even heard him jokingly referred to as the Obamessiah and The Dalai Obama.]

At any rate, if this is a topic that interests you, I would encourage you to give this a read: The man from hope?

By the way, the author is an Episcopal priest with whom I attended seminary.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Nineteenth Sunday After Pentecost

This week Job's travails continue, the Hebrews learn why a Messiah is better than a chief priest, and Jesus radically educates a wealthy young man. All this plus a visit with the Moosa's of Mosul.

The lections may be found here.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Another Sign Of The Post-Christian Age

A rather light article on the new head of the National Institutes of Health appeared in the New York Times earlier this week and there was one portion that stood out for me. No, it wasn't that the subject rides a Harley or wears a leather jacket when so doing. It was this one:

"First, there is the God issue. Dr. Collins believes in him. Passionately. And he preaches about his belief in churches and a best-selling book. For some presidential appointees, that might not be a problem, but many scientists view such outspoken religious commitment as a sign of mild dementia."

Are there degrees of dementia, by the way? You know, hot, medium, and mild? Or, was the qualifier "mild" just a "weasel word" designed to lighten what seems to be a remarkably intolerant regard for the majority of the people in the world. So, "many scientists" think that we're acting out of dementia when we build and staff hospitals, construct homes, fight for social rights, enable the creation of 12-step programs, address those in grief, visit prisoners, clothe the naked, feed the hungry, etc.

If that's the case, then please, "many scientists", I'd like not to be regarded as "mildly demented", but as "just plain nuts" if that's what it takes to work for a better world and the creation of at least a portion, a shard, of the Kingdom on Earth.

Archaeological News

Bluehenge unearthed: Prehistoric site that could be famous stone circle's little sister

Thursday, October 8, 2009

What Flag Is That?

Because so many in my parish and community have a relationship with some member of the Ivy League athletic conference, and as the Princeton Tigers football team can use as much help as they can get, today the Rectory proudly flies the flag of the university.

This is especially important as Princeton faces Colgate this evening; the New York team currently has the best league record and the Tigers are coming off a 38-0 loss against Columbia. [Columbia? Really?!].

Today In History

October 8, 451: The Council of Chalcedon opens to deal with the Eutychians, who believed Jesus could not have two natures. His divinity, they believed, swallowed up his humanity "like a drop of wine in the sea." The council condemned the teaching as heresy and created a confession of faith which has since been regarded as the highest word in Christology.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Tractor Parade

I'm afraid these photos aren't the best [I was facing the sun], but they certainly capture the flavor of our annual Roxbury event in all of its simple glory.

I tell friends about the things that occur in my new home town and they don't always believe me. Well, feast your eyes, non-believers.

Biblical Archaeology News

Bath Used By Temple Pilgrims Found In Jerusalem

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

ave atque vale

So long, old friend.

Today In History

October 6, 1536: English reformer William Tyndale, who translated and published the first New Testament in the English language, an act that was strongly contrary to contemporary law, is punished by being strangled then burned at the stake on this day.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Celtic Prayer

O Christ of the road
of the wounded
O Christ of the tears
of the broken
In me and with me
the needs of the world
Grant me my prayers
of loving and hoping
Grant me my prayers
of yearning and healing.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Eighteenth Sunday After Pentecost

This week the saga of Job begins, God's "placement" of the human race is taught to the Hebrews, and Jesus debates rabbinical points of law. All this plus the diabolical invention of Autotune.

The lections may be found here.

Archaeological News

Coins from Era of Biblical Joseph Found in Egypt

Thursday, October 1, 2009

From This Morning's Mail

I belong to an organization of fire chaplains and firefighters, some of whom are currently volunteering to aid the people of the Philippines, where storms, floods, and typhoon have created scenes such as those above. One of those volunteers forwarded these photos to me.

For those who wish to do something from Litchfield County, Episcopal Relief and Development, an agency of our national church, addresses such needs. Conveniently, donations to ERD may be made on line. [100% of these donations is applied to relief work rather than split with administrative costs.] Their page may be found here.

Let's also remember them in our prayers this week.

[Click on photos to enlarge.]

Quotation For The Week

"Where there is Love and Wisdom, there is neither Fear nor Ignorance.
Where there is Patience and Humility, there is neither Anger nor Annoyance.
Where there is Poverty and Joy, there is neither Cupidity nor Avarice.
Where there is Peace and Contemplation, there is neither Care nor Restlessness.
Where there is the Fear of God to guard the dwelling, there no enemy can enter.
Where there is Mercy and Prudence, there is neither Excess nor Harshness."

—Francis of Assisi