Sunday, January 31, 2010

Haiti Benefit Concert

There will be a concert at Christ Church on Sunday, February 7th at 4pm.
While the concert will be free to the public, its purpose is to raise an offering from those present to benefit Episcopal Relief and Development's ongoing work in Haiti.

We have a variety of musicians from our congregation and community who are planning on participating. A complete list will appear later in the week. We can use folks willing to welcome visitors to the church and to help spread the word. As ever, share the stoke.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Fourth Sunday After The Epiphany

This week Jeremiah receives his divine commission, the Corinthians hear something very familiar, and Jesus runs afoul of expectations. All this plus the three most ubiquitous surfing rules.

The lections may be found here.


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Archaeological News

When I studied archaeology, my field was Meso-America, specifically the Maya. Actually, my speciality was Mayan buttons [it's a long story]. Anyway, this story caught my attention as it may either be a remarkable development or it's an archaeologist looking for some sensational press coverage because his grant is running out. In either case, it is interesting.

Mexican archaeologist finds tomb in Mayan area, say it could shed light on collapse

The Feast Of Thomas Aquinas

It seems hard to believe now, but there was a time, specifically in the 13th century, when the works of Aristotle had fallen out of common usage and were unstudied in the universities of Europe. Thanks to the Muslim scholars of Arabia and Spain, who were enamored of Aristotle's natural philosophy [Islam and its relationship with Western thought has really changed since then, eh?], Aristotle was ready for re-discovery when Thomas of Acquin, a Dominican monk of no small intellect, published a series of works re-presenting Aristotelian thought to his contemporaries and matching it with the theological framework of medieval Christianity. [It is helpful to remember, despite what trendy secularists would have one believe, that Christianity created the university model that educates the Western world to this day; not to mention also enabling scientific method to develop.]

As one with degrees in both philosophy and theology, I can testify to the continued influence of Aquinas in both fields. In fact, his popularity in secular philosophy continues to grow. All subsequent Western philosophy is in reaction to Aquinas's works. There is no greater figure in history whose accomplishments so strongly stand in the face of the errant belief that there is, or should be, a separation between theology, philosophy, and science.

Perhaps his most interesting contribution to human thought is through the field of natural theology. In an overly succinct definition, natural theology is the study of God as known not through sudden revelation, but through the application of observation and reason.

I would encourage readers to follow the links for more information. I will leave with this piquant quotation from G.K. Chesterton, the Catholic writer [and creator of the literary detective "Fr. Brown"] as to Aquinas's ecclesial abilities and ambition:

"His experiences included well-attested cases of levitation in ecstasy; and the Blessed Virgin appeared to him, comforting him with the welcome news that he would never be a Bishop."

He died on this day in the year 1274.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Feast Of John Chrysostom, Bishop Of Antioch And Constantinople

John was called Chrysostom (which means "Golden Mouth") because of his eloquence. He was a priest of Antioch known as an outstanding preacher. So much so that congregations were warned not to carry large sums of money when they went to hear him speak, since pickpockets found it easy to rob his listeners as they were too intent on his words to notice. His sermons were mostly unadorned expositions of Holy Scripture emphasizing literal meaning, even though the style in Alexandria in his day tended to the allegorical.

He loved the city and people of Antioch and they loved him. However, he became so famous that the Empress at Constantinople decided that she must have him for her court preacher, so she had him kidnapped and brought to Constantinople and there made bishop. This was a failure all around. His sermons against corruption in high places earned him powerful enemies (including the Empress), and he was sent into exile, where he died in the year 407.

O God, you gave your servant John Chrysostom grace eloquently to proclaim your righteousness in the great congregation, and fearlessly to bear reproach for the honor of your Name: Mercifully grant to all bishops and pastors such excellence in preaching, and faithfulness in ministering your Word, that your people may be partakers with them of the glory that shall be revealed; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

What A Beautiful Morning

My father is not the most loquacious of people even under the best of circumstances, especially with electronic communication. [This is ironic since he's been working with computers since 1962, back in the days when a small one filled a warehouse.]

So, imagine my delight at receiving this message from him this morning:

"My cancer is gone or diminished beyond detection..Just came from the doctor's office."

Thanks for the prayers, everyone.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Special Request, Especially Of Cat Lovers

All -

My close friend passed away yesterday. She has two beautiful cats that need a home. They have lived with my friend for 13 years in her studio apartment in New York, and I am afraid if I take them, they will be miserable with the commotion, and terrified of our 80lb dog - and our cat. If you can think of a someone with a quiet household who would like to be the "parent" of two healthy albeit older cats, please please let me know. She loved her pets, and I would like to find them a good home. One is all black and the other is black with a white blaze. Their names are Siesta and Soleil. Attached is a photo taken when they were younger, but they still look the same - only bigger! They will need to stay together. They are up-to-date with their shots etc...

Thank you!
Cindy Turner

Those interested may contact the parish office at

I Think This Photo Sums It Up

One of the reasons that I have been highlighting Haitian recovery efforts, and will be directly joining in them in a couple of weeks, is because of our long-standing diocesan relationship with the Episcopal Church in Haiti. This is the reason that we pray for a different Haitian parish each week. In turn, Haitian Episcopal parishes pray for those in Connecticut, including Christ Church.

Above is a photo of a Baptist church in Port-au-Prince. That's its pastor, by the way. Although I do not yet have photos of Episcopal churches, suffice it to say that they are in the same shape, as are the 200+ Episcopal schools in the country.

[Some folks have pointed out to me that there are needs to be met in the USA, too. Yes, there are, especially on reservations set aside for America's indigenous population, which is another area of interest of mine. However, and this is important to anyone who seeks to live in a Covenant relationship with God, we have made a promise of support to the Diocese of Haiti that should be honored. As their needs are extraordinary, so should be our response.]

The Feast Of Timothy And Titus

From the Universe Bulletin [a Roman publication known for its scholarship]:

"St. Timothy has been regarded by some as the "angel of the church of Ephesus", [Revelation 2:1-17]. According to the ancient Roman martyrology he died Bishop of Ephesus. The Bollandists (24 Jan.) give two lives of St. Timothy, one ascribed to Polycrates (an early Bishop of Ephesus, and a contemporary of St. Irenæus) and the other by Metaphrastes, which is merely an expansion of the former. The first states that during the Neronian persecution St. John arrived at Ephesus, where he lived with St. Timothy until he was exiled to Patmos under Domitian. Timothy continued Bishop of Ephesus until, when he was over eighty years of age, he was mortally beaten by the pagans. According to early tradition Titus continued after St. Paul's death as Archbishop of Crete, and died there when he was over ninety."

Almighty God, you called Timothy and Titus to be evangelists and teachers, and made them strong to endure hardship: Strengthen us to stand fast in adversity, and to live godly and righteous lives in this present time, that with sure confidence we may look for our blessed hope, the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Day Off On Monday

I know, I don't know what's gotten into me. But, I will be taking Monday off in order to, um, meditate and stuff.

Actually, I have to customize a guitar for a client and, thus, need to spend a day inhaling paint fumes. Back to the office on Tuesday.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Third Sunday After The Epiphany

This week Ezra offers an ancient version of a telethon, Corinth learns the meaning of the Body of Christ, and Jesus shocks the home crowd. All this plus the two top music groups enjoyed by the lower school students.

The lections may be found here.

[I'm sorry this was so late today. What with the Oratory, the Benefit Concert, the approaching annual meeting, and dealing with the owners of a DC-3 in Knoxville (long story), I almost forgot to post the lections.]

Friday, January 22, 2010

Oratory Of The Little Way

Just a reminder that there will be a presentation by folks from the Oratory Saturday morning at 10am. This will serve as an introduction to their ministry and courses, and, I hope, also serve as an encouragement for those willing to help us construct and larger and more frequently offered sacrament of healing.

More about the Oratory's work may be found at their website.

The Inflatable Hospital

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Feast Of Fabian

No, not the singer of "Like A Tiger" and star of "Ride The Wild Surf". This is the Fabian who was Bishop of Rome in the mid-Third Century.

"Upon the death of Roman Bishop Antherus in 236, a council was convened in Rome to elect his successor. In the crowd was Fabian, a layperson. According to the historian Eusebius, a dove flew into the building and landed on Fabian's head. The people immediately interpreted this to be an omen, and unanimously acclaimed Fabian as Rome's new bishop.

He turned out to be an excellent leader. He organized the parochial structure of the Church that is still in use, developed the rites of veneration for the martyrs buried in the catacombs, and appointed fourteen scholars to record the lives of the martyrs so that they would not be forgotten in future years.

In 239, the Emperor Decius instituted a persecution of Christians. This was the first persecution to be waged throughout the entire Empire, rather than just a local phenomenon. Fabian was captured and brutally executed. The courage with which he went to his death was an inspiration to thousands who followed him in martyrdom. His broken tombstone in Rome still exists, with three words on it are still legible; 'Fabian ... bishop ... martyr.'"

O God, in your providence you singled out the holy martyr Fabian as worthy to be chief pastor of your people, and guided him so to strengthen your Church that it stood fast in the day of persecution: Grant that those whom you call to any ministry in the Church may be obedient to your call in all humility, and be enabled to carry out their tasks with diligence and faithfulness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

"Secret Jesus Bible Codes?" Really?

Of course, normal people just call them Bible verses.

U.S. Military Weapons Inscribed With Secret 'Jesus' Bible Codes

Wow, ABC, whatta expose! [It took three reporters to come up with this.]

By the way, our "secret Jesus Bible codes" for this coming Sunday may be found here.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Feast Of Wulfstan

When William the Conqueror took England for the Normans in 1066, he replaced most of the native Saxon bishops with clergy from Normandy. An exception was Wulfstan, Bishop of Worcester, who had been a supporter of Saxon King Harold, but who submitted to William after Harold's death, and became one of the new king's most trusted advisers. A devout Benedictine monk, he is best remembered for his opposition to the Irish slave trade in western England. Interestingly, he was also a vegetarian, because the smell of cooking lamb once distracted him during the celebration of the Holy Communion.

He died on this day in the year 1095.

Almighty God, whose only-begotten Son led captivity captive and gave gifts to your people: Multiply among us faithful pastors, who, like thy holy bishop Wulfstan, will give courage to those who are oppressed and held in bondage; and bring us all, we pray, into the true freedom of your kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Haitian Donations

As I mentioned during announcements at the 10am liturgy yesterday, donations for Haiti relief may be made through the website of Episcopal Relief and Development [formerly known as the Presiding Bishop's Fund for World Relief].

The website may be accessed by clicking here.

Let me again note that 100% of your donation will go to relief and rescue efforts and not be shared with administrative costs.

Some Haitian News

A particularly good article from today's LA Times:

Searching among a Haitian cathedral's ruins

Sounds like they need a clergyperson with archaeological experience and knowledge of church architecture, not to mention some search and rescue training. I may have just volunteered for a job.

Also, the Brethren have mobilized:

Child is Saved By British Firefighters


FDNY Firefighters In Haiti


USAR Teams Deploying to Haiti

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Second Sunday After The Epiphany

This week Isaiah works towards a verbal vindication of Zion, the Corinthians are schooled in gifts, and Jesus and his mother get into it during a wedding reception. All this plus the widening gyre.

The lections may be found here.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Scenes From Port-au-Prince

Everyone in Port-au-Prince regarded the Roman Catholic cathedral as the most solid construction in the city. It's where people would traditionally take refuge during hurricanes. As one construction worker pointed out to me, "It's like an American building."

As testimony to the power of the earthquake, above is a photo of its current state. More may be found at this link. I regret to hear that the archbishop was killed in the collapse of his neighboring residence.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

It Seems Inevitable

I had already received my first call from a reporter by 8am this morning. It was at my emergency number, naturally. Of course at 8am on Thursdays I'm with the entire upper school and faculty of Rumsey Hall and not sitting by the phone, so the call went unheeded. In a tried and true fashion, the reporter indicated in his message to me that he was "on deadline". This is an old reporter's trick to coerce someone into returning a call in a timely fashion. I used to use it myself. Thing is, it doesn't exactly work when one isn't interested in returning a reporter's call.

Was it the tragedy in Haiti that he wanted to talk about, given my work for a hospital and school there? Sorta. He really wanted to talk about what Pat Robertson said about the Haitian earthquake the other day. He wasn't interested in what the Episcopal Church teaches in such circumstances, just my explanation of what a televangelist said. Great, suddenly I'm Pat Robertson's apologist.

Here's what Robertson said: Haiti disaster blamed on pact with devil

This is consistent with his theology that God micro-manages every single thing that happens in the mortal plane and, while weird and off-putting to most Christians, I would observe that it is consistent with other statements he has made over the years.

As pixilated as Robertson's comments are, I actually find it more annoying for members of the media to present him as the spokesperson for Christians. There were a great many touching and meaningful [and theologically sane] statements made by Christian leaders of all churches and denominations, since Catholics and Protestants alike have had long-term missions in Haiti. Yet, it was Robertson's that were featured. Remarkable.

As I know there isn't a member of my parish who would view the world through the Robertsonian lens, I'll simply remind us all of Job 5:7. To live in the world is to encounter accident, tragedy, and disaster. Some of it natural, some of it caused by unruly passions. This has been the feature of the human condition for as long as we have lived outside of Eden.

However, those of us who are in the world but not of the world [John 17] understand that, while such events are inescapable, we are also, through the mutuality of prayer and community, able to find support and care not only from divine agency, but from our brothers and sisters in Christ.

So, in light of the events in Haiti, and similar events that will vex the world community in the future, remember the folks of Haiti in your prayers. If so called, feel free to donate to relief as offered through Episcopal Relief and Development. And at all times, let's give thanks for what we have and what we can give.

Please Read This

Haiti struck by devastating earthquake; diocese suffers heavy damage

The Reason For Twitter

The reason I opened a Twitter account [as seen in the right column of this weblog] wasn't so I could share the fascinating minutiae of my day ["I'm praying right now." "I'm crossing myself." "I just had a Vegemite sandwich, etc."], but so that I could keep track of what was happening in the aftermath of the Iranian elections last year. You see, with all of the ways in which we can now communicate, the best and clearest uncensored information coming out of Iran was through Twitter.

I'm seeing the same thing again with the devastation in Haiti. There are a number of Twitter accounts that you may follow. The one I recommended recently is RAMhaiti. Others may be found by following the site linked here.

[There are two things that currently give me hope. One is that there are a great many faithful Christians in Haiti, with supportive brothers and sisters in Christ throughout the world. The other reason for hope is this.]

[BTW, I'm currently ranked 482,996th on Twitter.]

Don't Know What To Do With Your Old Christmas Tree?

The Most Talented Headline Writer In America...

...came up with this one:

Skywalkers in Korea Cross Han Solo

Yes, Jesus Sightings Continue

This time in some naan.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Aid For Haiti

One of the interesting features of serving as an interim rector is that one winds up inheriting leadership in non-parish ministries that former rectors had integrated into their role. One such responsibility I once took on was as a member of the board of a hospital in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. I also helped to build a school in that same city, and re-build it twice in 2005 when two hurricanes removed it from its setting as surely as an atom bomb.

Under the best of circumstances, Haiti is a difficult place. This is particularly true in times of natural disaster as trained, organized emergency response is rare and construction standards are not always what they should be [poured concrete walls and floors without rebar support, for example].

In other words, they need help. Those wishing to do so may donate through the Episcopal Relief and Development website. As with any donation to ERD, 100% is used to address the specific need.

[The photo above was something I came across reading the papers this morning. It's the "Departures" board at Miami airport. Nothing quite so reinforces the sense of Haiti's isolation than do those "cancelled" notices. Click to enlarge.]

It's Not A Religion Without Guilt, I Guess

Green Guilt

"...religious emotions, like guilt and indignation, are still with us, even if we're not religious. He claimed that we were living in a post-Christian world—the church no longer dominates political and economic life—but we, as a culture, are still dominated by Judeo-Christian values. And those values are not obvious—they are not the Ten Commandments or any particular doctrine, but a general moral outlook."

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The First Sunday After The Epiphany

This week, Isaiah illuminates the older covenant, the "laying on of hands" continues the tradition of the apostles, and Jesus and John have a moment of epiphany in the Jordan River. All this plus Zack's candy bar.

The lections may be found here.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Feast Of The Epiphany

In many cultures, gifts are exchanged in Christian households on this day to note the arrival of the Three Kings, Wise Men, or Magi to the place of Jesus' birth with their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. As we discussed on Sunday, these gifts were specific in their meaning and helped to broaden the common understanding of what the Messiah was to be.

The word "Epiphany" is from the Greek language and, in English, means "a sudden manifestation of the essence or meaning of something" and "a comprehension or perception of reality by means of a sudden intuitive realization."

In other words, it's that "light bulb moment" famed in song and cartoon. The multiple definitions of epiphany well summarize a season that includes the arrival of the Magi, the baptism of Jesus [his own moment of "epiphany"], and the occasion of his first miracle.

By tradition, this is a day of devotion and prayer.

That so thy Blessed Birth, O Christ,
might through the world be spread about,
the star appeared in the East,
whereby the Gentiles found thee out;
and offered thee Myrrh, Incense, Gold,
thy three-fold office to unfold.

Tears that from true repentance drop,
instead of Myrrh present will we:
for Incense we will offer up
our prayers and praises unto thee;
and bring for Gold each pious deed,
which doth from saving faith proceed.

And as those wise men never went
to visit Herod any more,
so, finding thee, we will repent
our courses followed heretofore;
and that we homeward may retire
the way by thee we will enquire.

George Wither (1588-1667)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Celtic Prayer

I quench the fire this night
As the Son of Mary would quench it;
The compassing of God be on the fire,
The compassing of God on all the household.

Be God's compassing about ourselves,
Be God's compassing about us all,
Be God's compassing upon the flock,
Be God's compassing upon the hearth.

Who keeps watch this night?
Who but the Christ of the poor,
The bright and gentle Brigit of the kine,
The bright and gentle Mary of the ringlets.

Whole be house and herd,
Whole be son and daughter,
Whole be wife and man,
Whole be household all

Monday, January 4, 2010

An Easy Way To Contribute

Remember that, by clicking on the icon below to access your page, any purchase made from or their many third-party vendors will result in a donation to Christ Church of 6% of the purchase price.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Gentlemen, You Can't Fight Here. This Is The AutoZone Liberty Bowl Awards Banquet

ECU suspends two

Best quotation: "Paulk and Williams scuffled...and nearly flipped over a table while fighting over a dessert."

An Obituary Of Note

I'm glad the New York Times didn't let the passing of this great American go unnoticed.

Curtis Allina, Executive Who Put Heads on Pez, Is Dead at 87

[When I was a boy, the beard fell off of my Santa Pez dispenser. It looked positively demonic without it. My little sister would call it "Santa Satan".]

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Second Sunday After Christmas

This week Jeremiah gives hope to God's scattered, the Ephesians receive a letter, and the three wise men are given their orders. All this plus the significance of their gifts.

The lections may be found here.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Soon to Be Profiled on The Coracle

Happy New Year

I received an airbrush for Christmas. If you don’t know, an airbrush is a tool through which compressed air propels a fine stream of paint onto an object. It is used to put artwork on the sides of vans, for jazzing up the gas tanks on motorcycles, for fine detail on model planes and cars, and, in my case, for intricate design work on guitars and basses. The one I received even came with its own air compressor. It has all sorts of attachments for making even more refined its uses. The only thing it didn’t come with was a manual.

Naturally, this means that I have to experiment with the tool so that I can figure out how it works. That’s never easy and, in the case of an airbrush, potentially disastrous. One can make a lot of errors, something I realized shortly after I managed to paint my eyeglass lenses completely opaque in a shade of Cadillac Red. However, there is also the joy of discovery as one gets to know the tool and the many things it can do, even if that learning curve is somewhat dented by the fits and starts of experimentation.

I’ve often wished that parish ministry came with a manual, too. While the Holy Bible guides us to salvation, ministry has always been the product of experimentation aided by the collective efforts of a prayerful congregation. We try new things and renew things familiar. We add services to our schedule and alter others. We try to reflect the realities of a changing society while maintaining the traditions and standards that have made us what we are. There can be moments of great success and remarkable failure. If well grounded in prayer and comfortable with whom we are as a parish, even the failures [or especially the failures] remind us of what a special endeavor is a Christian parish. The manual, then, is written with our intentions and through our travails.

If that is the case, then the manual our parish has written over the last four months has been wonderfully comprehensive. Together, through a variety of means and methods, we have begun to realize an increase in attendance and giving, new ideas and emphases, and a hopeful beginning to what a small parish can do in the contemporary age. As rector, I want to thank all who supported the varied ministries of Christ Church; those who remained positive and committed to our mission and who helped to re-establish those things that made us what we have been in the community. It’s safe to say that I’ve never greeted a new year with more hope and readiness than the one to come, especially as I now see that those things which had been cast down are being raised up, and that the old is being made new in our presence.

O God of unchangeable power and eternal light: Look
favorably on your whole Church, that wonderful and sacred
mystery; by the effectual working of your providence, carry
out in tranquility the plan of salvation; let the whole world
see and know that things which were cast down are being
raised up, and things which had grown old are being made
new, and that all things are being brought to their perfection
by him through whom all things were made, your Son Jesus
Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity
of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.