Saturday, July 31, 2010

Rectory Phone

It appears that the Rectory telephone is not receiving calls.  It can make them; just not take them.  So, please call the parish office if you're trying to reach me and we'll see if A.T. and T. can clear this up quickly this coming week.

The Tenth Sunday After Pentecost

This week Ecclesiastes' teacher gives us the word about vanity, Paul gives the Colossians the eternal teaching about what matters and what doesn't, and Jesus rejects a common role of 1st Century rabbis.  All this plus the media fascination with the cost of some politician's kid's wedding.

The lections may be found here.

Friday, July 30, 2010

A Video For Friday

This is Piwi, a kiwi, which is a flightless bird, who is recovering from two broken legs.  Piwi's story has captured the attention of lots of folks in Austrailia and New Zealand, judging by the number of references to him in the media.  In this video of Piwi's physical therapy, one may see the end result of a lot of loving care.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Odds 'N Sods

These have been sitting around the file for more than a few weeks.  The first two are fine examples of the headline editors' art.  The first headline states the basic story in such a way that makes one want to read the rest, while the second makes it sound as if the article is about a government official battling addiction.

The third is really special: Whale on the boat!  [This almost happened to me once, as recounted here.]

1.  Female Runner Allowed to Compete as a Female

2.  High Obama aide to meet with Brewer

3.  Forty-ton whale lands on yacht

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Speaking Of Nuns

As I mentioned the other day, the Episcopal Church does have nuns and monks included as part of our spiritual organization.  More precisely, the Church has included religious orders [and celibate clergy] for its entire history.  Your Rector, who is a former member of the Society of St. Barnabas, a religious order that was dissolved some twenty years ago, credits his ecclesiology to his early monastic training.  Not to mention his difficulty in taking days off or scheduling vacations.

[Our monastery, St. Barnabas House, is pictured above. It now serves as an assisted living facility.]

However, there are still a number of religious organizations in the Episcopal Church.  In fact, it appears that there are more than ever, which would seem to be sign of spiritual health that is often missed by the PTB*. 

A complete official list may be found here.

[ *Powers That Be ]

I'm Guessing That Most Of The Newsroom Is On Vacation

Jesus seen in chicken's feathers

This sub-headline about sums it all up:

"Jesus, not content with just appearing in Marmite, a frying pan and a drain pipe,..."

This Is Brilliant

So, you have to write a story about the Pope's upcoming visit to the UK.  Really, that's not all that interesting, even for Roman Catholics.  What better way to introduce the story, then, than to make it about his headgear, at least through the first five or six sentences?

Pope sports a very casual cap

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Almost Heaven: A Surf Beach With An Archaeological Site

Rhode Island beach erosion unearths buried ship

[Speaking of which, I'm shredding waves, maybe in Rhode Island, tomorrow.]

Buy This Book

How pleasant it is to sit in the living room of the rectory and listen to CDs by Fawn Segerson and Martin Meyer, peruse Vanity Fair [the magazine, not the Thackeray], watch a couple of Gilpins either be murdered or accused of murder on TV shows, and now open the volume of fascinating personal history that is Jay Tunney's The Prizefighter and the Playwright: Gene Tunney and George Bernard Shaw.

Certainly, Christ Church's members offer a full range of entertainment services to the general public.  Oh, and to the Rector.

Follow the carousel below to purchase those items referenced above.  Remember: 4% of the purchase price is donated by to Christ Church at no extra cost to the purchaser.

This Week In History

July 27, 1681: During a bitter battle between Scottish Episcopalians and Presbyterians, five Presbyterian preachers are martyred in Edinburgh. The Church of Scotland became Presbyterian permanently in 1690.

July 28, 1727: Moody, stiff young preacher Jonathan Edwards marries Sarah Pierrepont, a lively 17-year-old. The union proved happy and produced 11 children, six of whom were born on Sundays. This caused a bit of a scandal, because people then believed children were born the same weekday they were conceived.

July 29, 1794: In a converted blacksmith's shop in Philadelphia, former slave Richard Allen assembles a group of black Christians who had faced discrimination in the local Methodist Episcopal Church. They formed the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, the mother church of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, now known throughout the world.

July 29, 1833: English abolitionist William Wilberforce dies a mere three days after England abolishes slavery.

July 30, 1775: The U.S. Army founds its chaplaincy, making it the Army's oldest division after the infantry.

July 31, 1966: John Lennon proclaims the Beatles to be "more popular than Jesus".

August 1, 1714: The "Schism Bill," which was intended to reestablish Catholicism in England, dies with its chief supporter, Queen Anne. For years, Dissenters regarded the date as a day of deliverance, the "Protestant Passover."

August 1, 1779: Francis Scott Key, author of "The Star-Spangled Banner" and a devout Episcopalian who helped establish the American Sunday School Union, is born.

August 1, 1897: Pope Leo XIII issues the encyclical Militantis Ecclesiae, which describes Protestantism as the "Lutheran rebellion, whose evil virus goes wandering about in almost all nations."

August 2, 1100: William the Conqueror's son and successor Rufus, a wicked king who delighted in torture, seizing church property, and blasphemy, is mysteriously killed while hunting by an arrow that flew out of nowhere. No one mourned, and England took his eternal damnation for granted.


I'm a member of a national organization of chaplains for fire departments.  As such, I am on an e-mail list that urges prayers for those injured on the job and their families.  The most ominous acronym to appear in the subject heading in any e-mail is "LODD".  It stands for "Line of Duty Death".

Overnight I received just such a notice for two firefighters with the Bridgeport FD.  I pass it along for those who pray: 

Two Bridgeport Firefighters Die Battling Blaze, Others Injured

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Ninth Sunday After Pentecost

This week Hosea is ordered to do something that Victorian scholars of the Bible said was just not done; the Colossians learn a lesson worth remembering, and the disciples ask Jesus to teach them the simplest and most transcendent of human actions and they attempt to find their "sound".

The lections may be found here.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Feast Of Mary Magdalene

Mary has been known since early Christian tradition as "the first witness" and "the apostle to the apostles", as she was the first to witness the resurrected Jesus when she came to the tomb on Easter morning and was the one to announce the resurrection to Peter, John, and the others.

She is not identified in scripture as having been a prostitute, by the way.  She is mentioned in Luke 8:2 as having seven demons delivered from her body, a reference that grew into the common misconception in Western Christianity that she was not only the "first witness", but a practitioner of the "first profession."

For those willing to commit to some minor research, look up the Eastern Christian story of Mary and the red egg.

Almighty God, whose blessed Son restored Mary Magdalene to health of body and mind, and called her to be a witness of his resurrection: Mercifully grant that by your grace we may be healed of all our infirmities and know you in the power of his endless life; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Archaeological News [Well, Ancient Language News, Anyway]

Computers to translate world's 'lost' languages after program deciphers ancient text

The Rt. Rev. Desmond Tutu Was In Yesterday's NYT

Obama’s Overdue AIDS Bill

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Why I Love Ohio

Since it is a slow news day, I offer this fascinating article with a great photo:

Death Mask Of Pretty Boy Floyd

Actually, this website is fun if you're planning summer day trips to places of absurd interest.  Check out what's to be found in Connecticut and nearby New York and Massachusetts.

Yes, Definitely Slow

Police report no incidents at James' home   

Must Be A Slow News Day

Dead body found in cemetery

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Feast Day of Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Amelia Bloomer

A number of years ago, the PTB* of the Episcopal Church realized that not enough women or people of color were represented on the calendar of feast days.  As is often the case, the rectification was done in a hurried and [surprise!] politicized manner, resulting in days such as this one, where a convenient historical [and secular] event serves as the platform to capture the contributions of four individuals, all of whom get plunked down on one date.  While I find the relationship to the Episcopal Church rather tenuous in the case of two of today's honorees,  I do know that the other half of today's feast were communicants of the same small parish in upstate New York.

Today is the anniversary of the Women's Rights Convention held in Seneca Falls, New York in 1848.  It is considered by many scholars [and by the young woman in my household who has a minor in Women's Studies from William Smith College] to be the formative moment in American feminism.  One of the reasons that Seneca Falls was the site of this conference is that it was the hometown of Cady and Bloomer; both of whom were members of Trinity Episcopal Church in Seneca Falls.

There are many sources with information about Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman, both of whom have inspiring life stories.  Likewise Amelia Bloomer, who was a popular public speaker, especially when she would appear in churches to discuss her underpants [or "bloomers"].  She was also a committed missionary of the frontier.

From a scholarly point of view, Elizabeth Cady Stanton was perhaps the most interesting, as she may have been the first "progressive" in the Church to use her religion mainly as a platform for political commentary.  As we now live in an era when even sermons are to be judged more for their political correctness than for fealty to developed Christian thought, this historical addition to common discourse is worth noting. 

[I say this chiefly because I was a seminarian during the Church's most politically guilty period and was privy to well over 100 sermons preached from the seminary chapel's pulpit, only two of which I remember were actually about Jesus.  One sermon was entirely about the preacher's daughter's battle with drug addiction.  A compelling and sympathetic story, certainly, and one that I thought would be worth putting into context with the salvation offered by the resurrected Christ.  Apparently, the preacher did not agree and never did mention Our Lord in his entire oration. 

Later in my career, when I was responsible for a staff of four other clergy, one of the associate priests would, in essence, preach the New York Times Op/Ed page.  He called it a sermon because he sprinkled two or three references to God into it.  God, mind you, never Jesus.]

Anyway, there are many, many sources of information about these women and their stories should be known.  Certainly, we should always remember such visionaries in our prayers:

O God, whose Spirit guides us into all truth and makes us free: Strengthen and sustain us as you did your servants Elizabeth, Amelia, Sojourner, and Harriet. Give us vision and courage to stand against oppression and injustice and all that works against the glorious liberty to which you call all your children; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
* Powers That Be

[An unfortunate postscript:  My niece Amanda is educated about the significance of this date in feminist history, especially as William Smith College is very near Seneca Falls.  However, I was a little surprised to discover that never was there any kind of field trip to this place of importance.  I was not surprised to discover that no one at Hobart/William Smith College, an Episcopal Church institution of higher learning, knew or taught that Stanton and Bloomer were Episcopalians.  Conventional wisdom in the over-priced palaces of higher learning often holds that Christianity was not a part of life for feminist icons.]

Monday, July 19, 2010

Almost Forgot This One

On this day in 1954, Sun Records released the first single from a young truck driver named Elvis Presley: “That’s All Right”/“Blue Moon of Kentucky.” Many say it’s the moment that signified the beginning of rock and roll.

"Many" would be completely wrong, of course.  Rock and Roll was a pure American hybrid of Country, Blues, and Gospel music that was first captured when Jackie Brenston and the Delta Cats recorded and released "Rocket 88" three years earlier.  "Rocket 88", in turn, was an updated version of the blues classic, "Cadillac Boogie".

By the way, there were no "Delta Cats".  Jackie Brenston was the saxophonist for the real artists, the Riverside Hotel house band from Clarksdale, Mississippi.  There were named the Kings of Rhythm and were under the direction of Ike Turner, who would later marry and divorce a woman named Tina.

Click below to listen, especially to the song's intro, as the steady, rocking rhythm creates the platform for the rest of the song.  That's the "rock" and the "roll", in case you ever wondered.  If you still have doubts, remember that this is a song about a big, V8-powered, highway cruising car.  That just screams "American Music", doesn't it?

The Feast Of Macrina

Macrina was not only the sister of Saints Basil and Gregory, but was the matriarch of the first Christian "salon" that established the standard for monasticism in the Eastern church.  The section below is from the New Advent encyclopedia:

Born about 330; died 379. She was the eldest child of Basil and Elder Emmelia, the granddaughter of St. Macrina the Elder, and the sister of the Cappadocian Fathers, Sts. Basil and Gregory of Nyssa. She received an excellent intellectual training, though one based more on the study of the Holy Bible than on that of profane literature. When she was but twelve years old, her father had already arranged a marriage for her with a young advocate of excellent family. Soon afterwards, however, her affianced husband died suddenly, and Macrina resolved to devote herself to a life of perpetual virginity and the pursuit of Christian perfection. She exercised great influence over the religious training of her younger brothers, especially St. Peter, afterwards Bishop of Sebaste, and through her St. Gregory received the greatest intellectual stimulation. On the death of their father, Basil took her, with their mother, to a family estate on the River Iris, in Pontus. Here, with their servants and other companions, they led a life of retirement, consecrating themselves to God. Strict asceticism, zealous meditation on the truths of Christianity, and prayer were the chief concerns of this community. Not only the brothers of St. Macrina but also St. Gregory of Nazianzus and Eustathius of Sebaste were associated with this pious circle and were there stimulated to make still further advances towards Christian perfection. After the death her mother Emmelia, Macrina became the head of this community, in which the fruit of the earnest Christian life matured so gloriously.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

This Week In History

July 19, 1692: Puritan magistrates convict and hang five women for witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts. By September, 20 people had been executed.

July 19, 1848: More than 300 men and women assemble in the Wesleyan Chapel at Seneca Falls, New York, for the first formal convention to discuss "the social, civil and religious condition and the rights of women." The event has been called the birthplace of the women's rights movement. [Which explains Tuesday's feast day.]

July 20, 1054: Patriarch of Constantinople Michael Cerularius, having been excommunicated from the Roman church four days earlier, excommunicates Pope Leo IX and his followers. This precipitates the Great Schism. [No, I excommunicate you! -ed.]

July 22, 1822: Gregor Mendel, the Austrian monk and botanist who discovered the basic laws of genetic inheritance, is born. [So much for the division between science and religion -ed.]

July 24, 1725: John Newton, author of "Amazing Grace" and other hymns, is born in London. Converted to Christianity while working on a slave ship, he hoped as a Christian to restrain the worst excesses of the slave trade, "promoting the life of God in the soul" of both his crew and his African cargo. In 1764 he became an Anglican minister and each week wrote a hymn to be sung to a familiar tune.

July 25, 325: The Council of Nicea closes. The first ecumenical council, convened by the Roman Emperor Constantine, it rejected the Arians (who denied the full divinity of Christ) as heretics.

July 25, 1918: Walter Rauschenbusch, Bapstist pastor and theologian of the Social Gospel, dies. His books, including Christianity and the Social Crisis and The Social Principles of Jesus, influenced many—among them Martin Luther King, Jr., who observed that "Rauschenbusch gave to American Protestantism a sense of social responsibility that it should never lose.

July 26, 1603: James VI of Scotland becomes James I of England. Among his many acts affecting English religious life (it is he for whom the King James Version is named) was the issuing of the Book of Sports, approving sports on Sunday.

July 26, 1833: Having abolished the slave trade in 1807, Britain's House of Commons bans slavery itself. When William Wilberforce, who had spent most of his life crusading against slavery, heard the news, he said, "Thank God I have lived to witness [this] day." He died three days later.

July 26, 1882: Richard Wagner's opera, "Parsifal," premieres in Beirut.

[History courtesy of our friends at Christianity Today. Wagner knowledge courtesy of my misspent youth.]

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Eighth Sunday After Pentecost

This week Abraham practices hospitality, the Colossians learn of how the Body is organized, and Jesus deals with some sibling rivalry.  All this plus what happens when you pray for an atheist.

The lections may be found here.

[Above is a Tintoretto (1518-1594)]

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

It's A Rough Week For Clevelanders

George Steinbrenner, Who Built Yankees Into Powerhouse, Dies at 80

Office Hours Adjustment This Week

As it is the season, I will be taking a couple of vacation days off this week; a sort of "mini-vac", as the British used to call it. I will be around the office on Monday, but gone on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.  In case of an emergency, please notify the parish office or wardens.

No e-mail this week as I really don't care for it and as I hope to be on the boat [propane; no electricity] or in the water as much as possible.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Another Piece Of My Youth Is Surrendered

Cleveland comic-book legend Harvey Pekar dead at age 70

This Week In History

July 12, 1536: Desiderius Erasmus, Dutch scholar and the first editor of the Greek New Testament, dies in Basel. One of the leading scholars of the Protestant Reformation, he also wrote the influential In Praise of Folly. "Most holy was his living," said one observer, "most holy his dying".

July 14, 1833: Anglican clergyman John Keble preaches his famous sermon on national apostasy, marking the beginning of the Oxford Movement in England. Keble was joined by John Henry Newman and E.B. Pusey, who led this effort to purify and revitalize the Anglican Church by reviving the ideals and practices of the pre-Reformation English church.

July 16, 1519: The Disputation of Leipzig, in which Martin Luther argued that church councils had been wrong and that the church did not have ultimate doctrinal authority, ends.

July 17, 180: Seven men and five women who had been captured carrying "the sacred books, and the letters of Paul" are tried before Roman proconsul Saturninus. Since none would renounce their Christian faith, all 12 were beheaded.

July 18, 64: The Great Fire of Rome begins, and to direct suspicion away from himself, young Emperor Nero blames the city's Christians. A persecution followed in which Christians were (among other punishments) burned alive.

July 18, 1870: The Vatican I Council votes 533 to 2 in favor of "papal infallibility" as defined that "the Roman Pontiff, when he speaks ex cathedra, that is, when in discharge of the office of pastor and teacher of all Christians, by virtue of his supreme apostolic authority he defines a doctrine regarding faith or morals to be held by the universal Church . . . is possessed of that infallibility with which the divine Redeemer willed that his church should be endowed. [The idea of voting on infallibility seems novel, doesn't it? -ed.]

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Seventh Sunday After Pentecost

This week Amos uses a plumb line in a new and interesting manner, the Colossians receive a letter, and Jesus delivers one of the most enduring lessons ever.

The lections may be found here.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Rite Of Christian Burial...

...will be read for Dorothy Diebold at Christ Church on Friday, July 9th, at 11am.

Give to the departed eternal rest,
Let light perpetual shine upon them.
May her soul, and the souls of all the departed,
through the mercy of God
Rest in peace.  Amen.

More is to be found here.

Monday, July 5, 2010

This Week In History

July 5, 1865: William Booth founds The Christian Mission to work among London's poor and unchurched. Later, he changed the mission's name to the Salvation Army.

July 5, 1962: H. Richard Niebuhr, theologian, Yale professor, and author of Christ and Culture (1951), dies at age 67.

July 7, 1647: Thomas Hooker, Puritan pastor, political theorist, and founder of Connecticut dies on his sixty-first birthday.

July 8, 1741: Colonial Congregational minister Jonathan Edwards preaches his classic sermon at Enfield, Connecticut: "You are thus in the hands of an angry God; 'tis nothing but his mere pleasure that keeps you from being this moment swallowed up in everlasting destruction".

July 9, 381: Nestorius, the first patriarch of Constantinople, is born in what is now Maras, Turkey. Nestorius attained fame for his teaching that Christ had two natures and two persons (rather than two natures in one person), which the Council of Ephesus in 431 condemned as heresy.

July 9, 1228: Stephen Langton, greatest of the medieval archbishops of Canterbury, dies. He had formulated the original division of the Bible into chapters in the late 1100s, and his name appears on the Magna Carta as counselor to the king (though he supported the English barons in their pursuit for more freedoms).

July 10, 1863: Clement C. Moore dies. In 1819 he established the General Theological Seminary, where he taught Greek and Hebrew Literature for 28 years. He also authored "A Visit from St. Nicholas" ('Twas the Night Before Christmas . . . ) in 1823.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The American Tradition Of Education

1 in 4 Americans Don't Know Who We Fought for Independence

The brief article includes this gem: "... 6 percent...are unsure that the United States fought any war of independence at all...."

Quotations From The Founders

“ The general principles upon which the Fathers achieved independence were the general principals of Christianity… I will avow that I believed and now believe that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God.”

“[July 4th] ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty.”–John Adams in a letter written to Abigail on the day the Declaration was approved by Congress

"We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." - John Adams, October 11, 1798

“Why is it that, next to the birthday of the Savior of the world, your most joyous and most venerated festival returns on this day [the Fourth of July]?" “Is it not that, in the chain of human events, the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Savior? That it forms a leading event in the progress of the Gospel dispensation? Is it not that the Declaration of Independence first organized the social compact on the foundation of the Redeemer's mission upon earth? That it laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity"?
- John Quincy Adams in 1837, at the age of 69, when he delivered a Fourth of July speech at Newburyport, Massachusetts.

“ God governs in the affairs of man. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? We have been assured in the Sacred Writings that except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. I firmly believe this. I also believe that, without His concurring aid, we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel”
– Benjamin Franklin, Constitutional Convention of 1787.

"For my own part, I sincerely esteem it [the Constitution] a system which without the finger of God, never could have been suggested and agreed upon by such a diversity of interests." 
- Alexander Hamilton, 1787, after the Constitutional Convention.

“It cannot be emphasized too clearly and too often that this nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religion, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason, peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here.”
- Patrick Henry, in a May 1765 Speech to the House of Burgesses.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Sixth Sunday After Pentecost

This week Naaman learns the value of a prophet, the Galatians learn of spiritual gardening, and Jesus shows what many voices, many hearts, and many people can add to the sacred proclamation even in the face of opposition.  All this plus what Coney Island, Pike's Peak, and pistols in the pulpit have to do with today's holiday.

The lections may be found here.

[Above is "Naaman" by the 17th century Dutch artist Pieter de Grebber.]

Oh, Swell

Coast Guard Shark Advisory for Northeast

Actually, I think this is a ploy on the part of the Coast Guard to get the media and the public to pay attention to their annual reminder about wearing life jackets, carrying a marine radio, eschewing alcohol use, etc.  As Great Whites are seen off the coast of Cape Cod every day, this is hardly a news flash.  Well, except to reporters whom I suspect do not actually swim, boat, surf, or wade.  If they go to the beach at all, it's to sit in a comfy chair and sip chilled white wine or something.

I was once menaced by marine life off the coast of Cape Cod, though, in the open ocean just outside of Provincetown Harbor, when a humpback whale became enamored of my boat's hull and decided to "go courting", which meant it kept coming closer and closer; so close that I could reach its tail fin from my perch at the tiller. 

Never tacked so fast in my entire life.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Another Small Bit Of Restoration, Part Five

Those of you who travel into town on South St. may have been temporarily blinded this morning by the sight of Christ Church appearing before you.  Our dear parish was power-washed and bleached yesterday into a mighty, Transfiguration-like white.  Stop by and admire, willya?

We still need to paint, however.  [Click on the photo to enlarge it.]

For those of you wondering, the situation with the flags is shortly, and finally, to be resolved.