Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Feast Of The Holy Name

Something a little different this Sunday as we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Name as the Second Sunday in Christmas.  That means Matins and Mass and hymns designed around Jesus' eighth day of life.  Also, the Congos are invited to stop by at 10.  I've even asked their pastor to tell us everything he knows about holy circumcision.

The lections may be found here.

Friday, December 30, 2011

I Appreciate That The United Nations' Millenium Development Goals Are Important To Some, But This Is A Little More Urgent [And Compelling]

I discovered nearly thirty years ago that when clergy have nothing left to say about Christ, Christianity, or the Gospel and its relevance in contemporary life, they turn into politicians. Not in any obvious way, of course, but when you listen to a sermon that is mostly recycled talking points from one of the political parties, perhaps with a few references to God sprinkled into the text, you realize that the preacher has really just about shot his or her bolt when it comes to perspicacious spiritual commentary.

Similarly, when politicians get preachy, when they decide that they’ve become the moral voices of their society [don’t laugh, now], it seems clear that they’re either in political trouble or running for re-election. A few years ago, a prominent politician, who had promised that her party, when in power, would be the least corrupt in history, started to become remarkably “Christian” in her public speaking when it became obvious that her party had no intention of being any less corrupt than the former. Repeatedly, she would refer to Jesus, Mary, and Joseph as the “homeless family” whose needs would have been cared for by contemporary politicians. The irony, of course, is that the “homeless family” wasn’t homeless at all, but merely satisfying government bureaucracy, a census, by being forced to travel at great inconvenience to the birth city of Joseph. They actually had a perfectly good home in Nazareth and, if not for government requirement, Jesus would have been born indoors in his own family’s house.

So, it is with great caution that I approach a concern I currently have with a world situation, one that I think is under-reported and not entirely embraced by either church politicians or “churched” politicians. However, it is becoming apparent that the recent and dramatic changes in Middle Eastern politics, named the “Arab Spring” and “Facebook Revolution” by the more dewy-eyed members of the media, are creating difficult, outrageous, and impossible conditions in the lives of Middle Eastern Christians. Bombs detonate in Ethiopian churches during Christmas services; Christian women are taken from the streets in Egypt to be beaten or mutilated; members of Egypt’s Coptic Church are seeking asylum from persecution in other nations, especially the United States; Algerian Protestant churches are being closed by the government; Christians are immolated by mobs in Pakistan; anti-Christian violence continues to escalate in Iraq. Those of us who are not church leaders are beginning to find these circumstances more in need of address than the usual political boilerplate.

As there is no formal process of address, and as the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church has yet to make any cogent statement about these events [although, to be fair, her official website carries no more recent public statements than those from this past September], I find myself in that remarkable place inhabited by Christians aware of a great, even massive, injustice, yet without the wherewithal to address the circumstances politically. That means we will rely on the traditional power that we do have, which is that of prayer. However, as I recently stated in a sermon, “Sometimes prayer isn't simply sitting quietly where no one can hear you but God. The Baptist comes to mind this season, for example. Often it is forgotten that what he did by the Jordan was an act of prayer; defiant, raucous, red-blooded, and history-altering prayer.”

So, with that in mind, we will pray on Sundays, as part of our intercessions, for the Christians of the Middle East. I would also invite those interested in addressing this international situation to join with me in urging our diocesan bishop, who frequently enjoys world-hopping on church business, to aid us in organizing a more tangible program. We may also, through correspondence, see if the Presiding Bishop’s office is willing to use its influence with the White House to see that the considerable resources of our State Department might be employed to some effect.

But, in particular, reminded as we are that Christians in the Middle East live the same covenant and bear the same responsibilities to the Gospel as those of us in Roxbury, let us pray for our brothers and sisters-in-Christ, that God’s favor will deliver them from the all-too-familiar sins of tribalism, hatred, and mortal disregard, and that we may be empowered to act, too. As St. Francis once prayed, “Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary use words.”

"As The Age Of The Physical Book Retreats, The Cult Of The Physical Book Advances"

I confess that this article, from Forbes, is a little on the twee side [The author's name is Trevor Butterworth, for heaven's sake.  What, was "Percy Dovetonsils" already taken?]; in fact, it reminds me of one of those pieces I would have read aloud to some classmate or colleague back when I was a student or teacher of literature.  Funny how distant that seems, now.

Anyway, an interesting starting point for a meditation on the changes to publishing and reading.  Lately, I find that I use the Kindle for mass-market paperbacks, but still prefer a physical book when reading something heavier, such as works of theology, history, or big wave surfing.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

I Used To Play Bass For The Exploding Churros

Chile daily must pay readers for exploding churros

Universities In The Post-Modern Age

Harvard Pressures Freshmen to Sign a Moral Pledge

Now that higher education has abandoned its Christian [and Classical] roots, and with it any common format for broad moral discourse, it's interesting to note what administrators try to do to fill that vacuum.

Allow me sardonically to observe that as the post-modern distaste for Christianity on campus involves our religion's supposed "monolithic thinking" (only people of historical retardation would ever level that charge, btw), I am amused that the response to this at Harvard and other campuses is...a monolithic oath.

Arab Spring; Christian Winter

Categorized by theme, November's batch of Muslim persecution of Christians around the world includes (but is not limited to) the following accounts, listed according to theme and in alphabetical order by country, not necessarily severity.

More from the Wall Street Journal: Egypt's Embattled Christians Seek Room in America

An Obituary Of Note

Cheetah the chimp from 1930s Tarzan flicks dies

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Surfboard Tales: Tripping Over Jerusalem

Because of the full moon, there was enough light to see that I had just tripped over Jerusalem.  Also that a portion of my face had landed on Gilgal.

“I meant to tell you about that,” whispered Cokes.  “This guy is some sort of Jesus freak.  He’s got like a map of Bible stuff in his yard.  Try to hold down the noise, willya?”

As I hadn’t yet recovered my breath, which had been knocked out when my solar plexus made contact with Jericho, I wasn’t ready to debate with Cokes the definition of “Jesus freak”.  In walking over what I thought was a small hill just off of the super-secret, privately-owned entrance to a fabled surf break, I had managed to place myself in the middle of a geographic replica of the Holy Land, complete with the Biblical cities carved in stone, including name plates, placed in scale relationship to one another. 

“Yeah, the first time I came here I thought it was a miniature golf course,” Cokes continued.  “Which would be kind of neat, wouldn’t it?”

“Maybe it’s that, too,” I said with my first complete breath.

“Hey, that would be the gnarls.  Come golfing at Jesusville!  Sin-free until 7!”

With that he started to giggle, then cackle, then laugh so loudly that I expected lights to come on at the mansion house, illuminating me like Steve McQueen in The Great Escape.

“I thought I was supposed to hold it down.”

“Ah, never mind.  Who could hear us over the surf, anyway?”

Which was true.  The beach to which we were sneaking had once been the proving ground for many of the early surfing champions and their boards.  It was here that skills were refined and informal experiments in board technology were carried out, leading to the advances in fin arrangement and board length and shape that marked the genesis of surfing as a mainstream activity, rather than a curious pursuit of some mildly shell-shocked World War II veterans.

Times had changed in this area since the 1950’s, however.  What had once been a beach that was publicly accessible had become private property.  For a couple of decades, the owner had placed a gate across the only entrance, which was a footpath, but generally left it unlocked.  After a burst of thefts in the increasingly high-priced area, he locked the gate but let some of the area surfers have keys to it.  Of course, by the early 1980’s the keys and their copies had made the rounds of the serious surf community from one coast to the other and back again.

By the 1990’s, though, the new owners decided they didn’t want scruffy surfers walking on their beach and using their ocean, so the footpath was landscaped over with rocks and new plantings, including some surprisingly mature trees, and every portion of the property surrounded by either brick, stone, or security fencing.  Well, all portions except for one small opening in the ramparts where the brick and metal fencing did not quite mesh.  This hole in the wall was a secret closely guarded by only about 100,000 surfers in the contiguous United States.

Still, because of the proximity of the house to the beach, and the new owner’s rumored affection for firearms and pit bulls, the only time that anyone could get to the surf was during the middle of the night, and then only when the moon was full so that one could see the way and the water.  The fact that this was the primo feeding time for the more aggressive sharks was usually not mentioned.

Cokes, whose nickname was earned not because of drug use, but because he was all but blind without glasses that were pop bottle-bottom thick, had offered to be my guide because, as he had noted earlier that day, “It’s a place of history, man.”  So, with a cassette of “Surfin’s Safari” set on perpetual loop, we took his venerable Toyota pickup at 1 in the morning to the hole in the wall, squeezed through its opening with a couple of nine-and-a-half foot boards, and navigated our way over the Jesusville golf course to the place of legend; a legend well-earned.  When I entered the water I had that same feeling I had when I first saw the Liberty Bell, or the time I shook John Glenn’s hand.

Surf beaches can change over time, either due to natural disaster, erosion of the bottom, or changes in current patterns wrought by those who claim to have the science to address such things.  Some of the famous beaches, especially those in family-friendly areas, are no longer able to provide any experience of interest to the obsessed surf community, as they have been “improved” with jetties and other artificial construction so that maladroit, video-addicted children won’t hurt themselves in 12 inches of water.  This beach, however, kept for nearly half a century in a state of suspended animation, still had the rhythm and power that made it a Mecca in the early days of our very odd avocation, and every ride put one in touch with the guys of equal legend who carried nicknames like Midget, Canoe, and Da Cat.

After a few hours riding the evening glass, with dawn getting nearer, and with it the reality of guard dogs, handguns, and hypothermia beginning to claim our attention, we reluctantly left the beach, now almost too tired to lug the boards, not to mention play commando just to get back to the Toyota

With “Surfin’ Safari” once again playing on the pickup’s tinny radio, I thanked Cokes for this memorable participation in natural and living history.  “Sometimes it’s worth tripping over Jerusalem, I guess,” said Cokes.  Sometimes, indeed.

[Excerpt from Reading Water, all rights reserved ©2011]

Mellow Now Seriously Harshed

Surfline founder dead at 59

Nice guy and a business genius.

Monday, December 26, 2011

More Great Moments In Archaeology

Stunned Scottish couple unearth '800-year-old' stone head in their garden

Sometimes It Takes A Rabbi To Save Christians

When Lord Sacks, chief rabbi in England, rose in the House of Lords to speak about the persecution of Christians, he quoted Martin Luther King. "In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."

Actually, I Noticed This When I Was A Seminary Lecturer, Too

Increasingly, undergraduates are not prepared adequately in any academic area but often arrive with strong convictions about their abilities. So college professors routinely encounter students who have never written anything more than short answers on exams, who do not read much at all, who lack foundational skills in math and science, yet are completely convinced of their abilities and resist any criticism of their work, to the point of tears and tantrums: "But I earned nothing but A's in high school," and "Your demands are unreasonable." Such a combination makes some students nearly unteachable.

Dear Hollywood, Not Everything Is Special Effects

The other day some actor didn't respect the waves and almost paid the price.  Mavericks, the waves in question, are the scariest things I've ever seen in my entire life.  Kelly Slater, who is mentioned in the article, is the best surfer of his generation and maybe the best surfer ever, and he was almost killed there.  An actor who is learning how to surf for a movie role doesn't stand a chance if this is where he decides to hone his technique.

[After reading another article about this, I was surprised to see that the actor was using a traditional longboard, which is also, along with inexperience, a certain way to hurt yourself at Mavericks.  Now it may be that was misinformation, since most members of the media know as much about surfing as they do about firearms and Christianity, but who knows?  Throwing away actors like this seems awfully extravagant.]

More about Mavericks may be found here.

There Was A Shortage In The 1st Century, Too

In fact, anytime after the mysterious disappearance of the city of Ubar, which was the frankincense capital of the Middle East once upon a time.  [The mystery of its disappearance was solved in the late 20th century.]

A Shift for the Magi? Frankincense Shortage


TRENDING: Americans still prefer 'Merry Christmas' over 'Happy Holidays'

That's because it is not some random "holiday", the date of which was assigned by the government. It's an actual holy day with purpose, context and resonance.

Clearly, Scotland Has Solved All Of Its Other Problems

Railway police to be taught sectarian hate songs

It would be much cheaper just to buy the police tickets to a Glasgow Celtic vs. Glasgow Ranger football match, as you will hear sectarian songs of such nimble vulgarity as to stand in awe of the English language.

Even Santa Can't Catch A Break

Father Christmas busted by fun police

It appears that Australia is also descending into a nation of legalisms instead of laws.

Everthing Old Is New Again

Midnight Masses canceled in Iraq because of growing security concerns

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Thanks for the photo, Anne.  [Click to enlarge.]

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Fun Way To Learn Of The Maccabees

Walter Reed Hospital Bans Bibles, Rosaries, Etc.

"Issued on the date of the official consolidation of the region's two military medical centers, the memo on visitor and patient policy contained a section stating "No religious items (i.e. Bibles, reading material, and/or artifacts) are allowed to be given away or used during a visit." The Sept. 14 memo came from the desk of Col. Norvell Coots, the commander of the Walter Reed Healthcare system."

They did seem a little nervous when I told them that guitars for veterans were being sent from a church in Connecticut.  Maybe they were afraid they might have some Jesus in them.

I'm enjoying the fact that it took a group of Army personnel to write one memo [it takes one Marine to write one memo, thank you] and that no one can remember who wrote the line about Bibles, etc.  There is a name for that in the miliary, but it's too vulgar to print here.

Again, why is it always Bibles?  Why is it never the Koran or the Teachings of the Buddha?

Monday, December 19, 2011

As I Have Been Saying For Years...

Artful Perspective: The X in Christmas

I Link To This Only Because It Took Place In My First Parish

A "parish", in Episcopal Church language, is a geographic area, not just a church building.  This gives you a pretty good idea of the pastoral issues I often had to address.  Man, life is much better these days.

Police: Woman angered over missing phone crashes car into Corry tavern

Here's the capper:  "She was then brought to the Corry police station, where he said Jensen found her missing cell phone in her bra."

Another Sorta Jesus Sighting

Baby Jesus found, after pic posted to Facebook

Because no one knows what he looks like, I guess.  Too bad we didn't have Facebook eleven years ago, eh, Henry?  You know, back when you and your buddy stole Christ Church's original nativity scene.

Ah, well.  Water under the bridge, etc.  Besides, the redoubtable Ken did recently find the original set's baby Jesus, which will be used this year, so that's nice news.

Great Moments In Archaeology

Kaiser Willhelm's urinal found at bottom of Baltic

Sunday, December 18, 2011

No Reason For This. I Just Liked The Photo

Two Secret Service agents and their surfboards in Hawaii for the presidential vacation.

I'm Glad To Have Lived During A Time When A Playwright Could Be A World Leader

Vaclav Havel, Czech dissident, playwright, politician dead at 75

A playwright, I might add, who was thrown in prison for 4 and 1/2 years for protesting the arrest of a rock and roll band.

"We Need More; You Have More"

A surprisingly telling quote from one of the remnant of the "Occupy Movement" that so enamored the media a month or so ago.  Trinity Church on Wall Street [yes, it's one of ours] gave generous support to the protesters in a manner that was appropriate to Gospel teaching and Anglican theology but, as our brothers and sisters in the Church of England learned, that's never enough.

Please note the eloquence from the parish rector's website.

(An interesting update: You'll notice some criticism of Trinity Church's decision offered by another rector. As it happens, the Manhattan clergy I know received an e-mail from The New York Times asking not for their open opinion, but if they disagreed with Trinity's rector. Only one fell for the NYT's fishing expedition.)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Children's Pageant, Sunday at 4pm

If you enjoy some good, old-fashioned small parish charm, remember that the Children's Pageant will be performed at Christ Church this Sunday at 4pm, to be followed by a pot-luck supper.  We can still use some additions to the supper, so please bring something so that we aren't pot-luckless.  And, because two people have called the parish to ask, yes, the Children's Pageant is free to parishioner and public alike.

Another Provocation For This Week

Don’t Support Your Local Bookseller

The issue that I started to have in the earlier part of this century with indie bookstores was that they would either not carry books in which I was interested, especially intelligent works about Christianity, or openly condescend to me when I asked if I might order N.T. Wright's latest offering, for example.  Sorry, hipster clerk, but I'm really not ready to be sneered at by a recent college graduate with a degree in "something Studies" just because I wish to read an academic work on my religion. 

Really, after earning three Master's degrees and two doctorates, and spending over thirty years teaching students from kindergartners to doctoral candidates, I really don't need the trendy, pseudo-intellectual, atheistic attitude.   I don't want to surrender Christ in order to prove that I have the intellectual wherewithal to give some bookstore my money. Online, they just take my money and send me the book, which is a much preferable arrangement.

Okay, my rant has concluded.  I think I ate too many carbs yesterday.

As Overheard On The Radio

I should warn those of sensitive disposition that this is from a syndicated radio show whose host labels himself a "conservative", so if you prefer only to hear viewpoints similar or identical to your own [and there's nothing constitutionally wrong with that], you may wish to avoid the entire transcript.  I listen because I enjoy hearing a variety of perspectives on secular and religious issues and because the host and I were in Boy Scouts together in Ohio a very long time ago.  What drew my attention was an observation similar to my own of recent years, namely, why is it that atheist groups dislike only one holiday in one American religion?  Why, of all the rich panoply of religions practiced in the United States [every single world religion is practiced in our country, and God bless it], is the Christian Feast of the Incarnation the only one that can't be expressed without a countering display or commentary?
There’s something rather sad, I think, about how Christmas is the only holiday that has to become a universal whatever you want holiday. Nobody tries to sort of do this to Eid or Ramadan or whatever. But it’s just that now, you cannot have any public expression of Christmas unless there is also a public expression of whatever anyone else does. When the President hosts a Ramadan banquet, no atheist group says well, hang on a minute, we don’t go along with Ramadan, so we want to have a big old, we want to have a banquet for people who believe that at this time of year, you should eat as much food as you like. It’s only Christmas this is applied to, and I detest that, because it’s just part of the pathetic civilizational self-loathing. We’ve heard it all, and there’s nothing new about any of this stuff. And it’s got nothing to do with the separation of church and state, because anyone who, if anyone spent the trouble to study ten minutes of history, it would be perfectly plain what that meant.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Adult Forum Tonight. Be There. Aloha.

Just a reminder that tonight is the final Adult Forum for 2011, where we shall look at art associated with the Nativity, plus a potpourri of remaining works and whatnot.  Parish house at 7pm.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Gov. Patrick agrees it’s a Christmas tree

Please see this other story from neighboring Rhode Island that may be found earlier in The Coracle here.  Yep, all religious accouterments actually have meaningful and accurate names like Koran [not "happy holiday book"], Menorah [not "really cool holiday candle holder thingy"], and Wheel of Life [not "happy some kind of Eastern religion holiday device"].

Seriously, if anyone in government has that big of a problem with it, just don't put up a tree.

Archaeological News

Christian prayer box discovered in City of David parking lot

[Bad link before; now fixed.]

Monday, December 12, 2011

This Week's Provocation

Christians Are Still Having Sex

Today’s American family is quite different. Mom and Dad usually work in different jobs far from homes; they get in their cars and drive off. Home is a place where people spend money and enjoy leisure time; the family bonds around the TV rather than in the corn field. Both parents have work friends who their spouses know only slightly if at all; they outsource much of the work of raising and teaching their kids to schools.

The bonds between the members of these units tend to be weaker than the bonds on the farm where the parents and children worked together as a team to keep each other clothed and fed. If we are serious about strengthening the America family, and I think we should be, we will have to think much more deeply about how our society works.

Defending the American family and laying the foundation for strong homes in the 21st century is a much bigger project than worrying about extramarital sex or, for that matter, gay marriage. Evangelicals and other Christians who want to play a role in the revitalization and protection of the family need to get away from a “moral panic” agenda and begin to analyze the ways our current social and economic order weakens and impoverishes family life. Then comes the hard work of figuring out how to fix what has gone wrong. There is a lot of work to be done.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Surfboard Tales: Pure Yucatan

The monkey had seized his Pepsi, an act that left Estefan somewhat agitated.  He had never liked Mexican spider monkeys ever since he had seen one snap his brother’s index finger like a twig back when they were boys.  Twenty years later, the sight of one would reduce him to a state of medieval terror.  The fact that the monkey was now sitting next to him on the tailgate of one of the pickup trucks belonging to the university’s archaeology department, with its legs crossed like his, helping itself to his bottle of Pepsi and behaving like any of the other diggers under the shade of some mangroves, had left him in a state of descolada.

Of course, Estefan also disliked thunderstorms, mud, bus drivers, Coca-Cola, and norteño music; the latter being something on which the two of us often agreed.  This was not lost on Heraclio, another digger at the archaeological site and our truck driver, who would gleefully read the weather report to Estefan whenever it included a prediction of rain, deliberately drive closely behind buses on the winding, narrow roads of the central portion of Quintana Roo, and turn up the volume whenever Los Tigres del Norte were playing on the radio.  In fact, I wouldn’t have been surprised to learn that Heraclio had trained the monkey to steal Estefan’s Pepsi.

The relationship between the two diggers, who were also cousins, would have made for an execrable journey had it not been for the fact that they were taking me to what they described as “a beautiful cenote [or sinkhole]” so that I could experience Yucatan-style surfing.  As we were about twenty-five miles from the coastline, my curiosity was piqued some by a surfing opportunity in the middle of the dry llano.  That and I had never seen a sinkhole that could be described as beautiful.

So, as we drove through towns named after either Christian saints or monstrous Mayan royalty, as Estefan and Heraclio bickered about technique, I heard about the main feature of the Yucatan method.

“We do not use surfboards, doctore,” said Estefan.  “We use rododendro.  You will see; it is pura Yucatán  Heraclio just laughed and nodded like a bobble-head doll.

My Spanish has always been horrible.  In fact, the university staff would label what I spoke “kitchen Mexican”, so I didn’t think it odd that Estefan had just said that they surfed using houseplants.  I just assumed that I hadn’t understood him over the roar of the loose muffler and the top 40 norteño hits that Heraclio had blaring from the truck’s radio.  That is, until we got to the cenote.

Truly, if a sinkhole could be beautiful, this was the one.  It was introduced by a stark opening at ground level of approximately seventy-five feet in diameter.  Crude stairs that looked rather ancient had been cut in the limestone walls in a rough spiral from the opening to the small patch of earth and sand about three stories below.  The remainder of the sinkhole’s base was liquid.  Aided by the minerals in the earth and vegetation that grew within and around the opening and down its dark shaft, the water at the bottom of the cenote was made azure; capturing and magnifying the available sunlight but retaining a refreshing coolness.

Second only to the water in vividity was the verdant vegetation that clung to the sides of the shaft and dropped roots from the sun-soaked surface thirty feet down to the water, lacing into strong knots of vines that formed basketball-sized root balls just below the water’s surface.  It wasn’t until I saw the cousins grab these vines and begin to swing themselves from the spiral steps to just above the water level that I realized the plants were, in fact, tropical rhododendrons.  Remarkably, I had heard correctly; they did use rhodadendro instead of surfboards.

The sport, as I came to learn it, in sinkhole surfing is bending both vine and body so that the soles of one’s feet, at the right moment of the parabola, make contact with the water and, if timed right, enable the “surfer” to release his grip upon the vine and glide across the water’s surface on a buffer of surface tension.  It wasn’t a long ride, and the cousins would loudly celebrate even a five foot glide, but it also wasn’t easy.  In fact, learning the nuance in a Hawaiian short board was probably simpler.  For over an hour, once I was assured that the vines would hold my weight, I repeatedly sent myself inauspiciously into the water with a sizable splash.  However, in the second hour, I was beginning to get the hang of it.

It was a hot, humid day and a dusty ride after a long week of fruitless digging among the remnant stones of a pitiable Mayan archaeological site, but, when Estefan suddenly remembered that on his last trip to the cenote he had hidden a number of bottles of Noche Buena in the cool deepness, it turned into one of the best and most memorable times spent in any kind of water.  Our fatigue from work, and Estefan’s descolada, were cured.

In fact, to this day, after a particularly restorative session of conventional surfing, if asked, I sometimes respond that it was “pura Yucatán”.

[Excerpt from Reading Water, all rights reserved ©2011]

Saturday, December 10, 2011

When you live in a circa 1740 house, you spend a lot of time fashioning custom shims so that the furniture sits level. Otherwise, you wind up spending your mornings picking up stuff that has slipped off shelves and tabletops during the night, as if by some bipolar poltergeist.

Friday, December 9, 2011

This Is An Abomination!

A nature-free surf spot.  This is worse than AstroTurf.

A surf park high in the Pyrenees

A nightmarish quotation from the article:  "High in a misty valley in the Basque Pyrenees, miles from the ocean and surrounded by verdant sheep pastures, lies a prime surf spot. Its swells break with no wind or reef, and you can turn them on and off whenever you want."

No wind or reef, huh?  Wow, it sounds so authentic.  Part of the fun of surfing is waiting for the waves and then riding their glorious, and occasionally dangerous, unpredictability.  This "wave park" nonsense is like dressing up in hunting clothing and grabbing your Remington 700 to go to the meat section of the supermarket.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

It Appears That There Is Still A Lot Of Downed Foliage From The October Storm

I say this because a seven-year-old girl at Rumsey Hall School this morning told me that she wanted a chainsaw for Christmas.  At least it wasn't a chainsaw and hockey mask.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Well, This Brought A Little Smile First Thing This Morning

Carolers interrupt lighting of ‘holiday’ tree

"Holiday tree"?  What...?  What's really embarrassing is that, when I worked at a parish in Rhode Island [which was also embarrassing], the current governor was on our list of members.  I never saw him, though; not even on Holiday Eve.

To extend the logic behind this, his state could truly affirm its role as one of the first secular governments by re-naming Hanukkah as "Holiday Candle Time" and Muslims as "Holiday-makers".

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Once Again, I Wish To Thank My Grandfather For Leaving The UK For The USA

Christmas decorations banned over health and safety fears

"Just Be Back In Time For Dinner"

As my mother used to say to me back in the days of childhood freedom, when I would ride my bike out of the driveway for a day of aimless adventures with all of the other kids.  From the article, it appears I'm not the only one wistful about days gone by.

Welcome to the Age of Overparenting

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Adult Forum This Evening

We have Adult Forum this evening in the parish house at 7pm Tonight we'll look at the artistic representations of the disciples, as it is through their human-ness that we gain access to the Almighty.

A Seasonal Favorite

27 worst nativity sets

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

This Week's Jesus Sighting

Image of Jesus Christ Appears in Wet Paper Towel

Feast Of St. Andrew

Most references to Andrew in the New Testament simply include him on a list of the Twelve, or group him with his brother, Simon Peter. But he appears individually three times in the Gospel of John. When Greeks wish to speak with Jesus, they approach Philip, who tells Andrew, and the two of them mediate with Jesus (Jn 12:20-22). Before Jesus feeds the Five Thousand, it is Andrew who says, "Here is a lad with five barley loaves and two fish." (Jn 6:8f]; and the first two disciples whom John reports as attaching themselves to Jesus (Jn 1:35-42) are Andrew and "the disciple whom Jesus loved" [John].

Having met Jesus, Andrew then finds his brother Simon and brings him to Jesus. Thus, on each occasion when he is mentioned as an individual, it is because he is instrumental in bringing others to meet the Savior. In the Episcopal Church, the Fellowship of Saint Andrew is devoted to encouraging personal evangelism, and the bringing of one's friends and colleagues to a knowledge of the Gospel of Christ.

Several centuries after the death of Andrew, some of his relics were brought by a missionary named Rule to Scotland, to what is now known as St. Andrew's, nowadays best known as the site of the world-famous golf course. Hence, Andrew's association with the jewel of the British Isles.

According to pious legend, Andrew was crucified on an X-shaped cross, as represented on the design of the official flag of Scotland.

For those interested, the flag of the United Kingdom, the "Union Jack", is a combination of the crosses of St. Andrew [white x-shaped cross on a blue field], St. George, the patron of England [red cross on a white field], and that of St. Patrick, the patron of Ireland [red x-shaped cross on a white field].

Sorry, Wales and St. David. You got left out.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Rectory Flag

This isn't an easy one to recognize, especially as it's not the official flag of Scotland [pictured below], but the unofficial, and rather insurrectionist, "Lion Rampant". Why don't I use the official flag? Because I don't have one.

Why is any flag of Scotland being flown? Easy. Wednesday is the Feast of St. Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland and one of the lesser feast days in the Episcopal Church. This is particularly significant since it was not the Church of England that consecrated the first bishop of TEC, but three bishops of the Scottish Episcopal Church. For all of our Anglican pretense, we owe our existence to the Scots and trace our independent lineage from them.

More about St. Andrew on Wednesday.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The First Sunday Of Advent

New season with an old message, mainly about the calendars that my students used to keep that let them know how many days were left until vacation.

The lections are to be found here.

An Obituary Of Note

New Orleans music legend Coco Robicheaux dies

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

My Favorite Thanksgiving Recipe

Since people ask me what we do for Thanksgiving [I know you're just being polite, but be careful what you ask for], there is a particular dish that I like to prepare to either delight or horrify those with whom we share the holiday. [If you're looking for a turkey recipe, you've come to the wrong place. We never eat turkey at Thanksgiving. What are we, a buncha Congregationalists?] The recipe and preparation instructions follow:

Surf City Curbside Fish Tacos


1 lb of fresh swordfish steak
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
1 doz corn tortillas
Vegetable oil or butter (optional, depending on how you heat your tortillas)
Lime Mango sauce [see instructions]
1 ripe Avocado
Cabbage or iceberg lettuce
Cider vinegar

Prepare the sauce. This can be done either the simple or the complex way. The simple way is as follows:

1. Go to Stop and Shop
2. Buy some lime mango sauce in aisle 6

You may use it as a marinade for the fish and then, with the addition of some sour cream, use the remainder as the sauce for the finished dish. Naturally, don't use the sauce in which the fish has been marinating for the presentation sauce. At least, that's what Jenni always tells me. What she doesn't know won't hurt her.

The more complex way is to do the following:

Place two ripe, peeled and pitted mangoes and some lime juice [two limes or equivalent] into a food processor and blend until pureed. If the sauce is too thick, add a tablespoon or two of cold water. Stir in one diced jalapeno with seeds and skin removed [unless you like four-alarm sauce, like I do, in which case toss the seeds and skin into the whole shebang] and there you go. Save it until taco construction.

Prepare the cabbage and avocado. Thinly slice the cabbage and put it in a small serving bowl, sprinkle it with cider vinegar (about a tablespoon) and salt (about a teaspoon). Mix in the vinegar and salt. Peel the avocado and remove seed. Chop and reserve for later.

Heat the tortillas. There are two ways of doing this.
1. Simply heat them in the microwave for 20-25 seconds on high heat, on top of a napkin or paper towel to absorb the moisture that is released.
2. Or heat a cast iron skillet to medium heat. Add a teaspoon of oil to the pan or spread a half a teaspoon of butter on one side of one tortilla. Place tortilla in the pan (butter side down if you are using butter). As the tortilla sizzles, flip the tortilla with a spatula so that the other side gets some of the oil or butter from the pan. Continue to flip every 10-30 seconds until the tortillas begins to develop air pockets, after about a minute. You can always skip the butter or oil.

Remove the tortilla from the pan and place it folded on a plate. If the pan is large enough you can prepare two or more tortillas at once. Continue until all the tortillas (estimate 3 per person) are cooked. Set aside.

Cook the fish. Soak the fish fillets in cold water for at least one minute. Pat dry with a paper towel. Heat a large stick-free skillet to medium high heat. Add a couple of teaspoons of olive oil to the skillet. Place fish on skillet. Cooking time depends on the thickness of the fillets. A thin fillet may take only one minute on each side to cook. A thicker fillet may take a couple of minutes. Fish should be still barely translucent when cooked. Break off a piece and test if you are not sure, or give it to your cat and see what he does with it. Do not overcook the fish. When done, remove the fish from the pan to a separate plate. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Place the plate of tortillas, fish, the sauce, cabbage, and avocados on the table and let everyone assemble their own. You go to a separate room where it's quiet and watch a football game. Preferably, Ohio State, since Princeton isn't playing on Thursday.  [Besides, Princeton's own mama doesn't watch Princeton play football these days.] Or maybe that DVD of Endless Summer I or II.

The staff of The Coracle will be off-duty on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of this week. Please have a pleasant Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Evensong tonight at 7:30, featuring the Litany of Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Last Sunday After Pentecost

Also known as Christus Rex, or Christ the King. By either name, the day always reminds the rector of baseball, circa 1861.

The lections may be found here.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Sunday, November 13, 2011

An Obituary Of Note

She's not anyone famous, nor is she connected to our parish.  She was just a kind young woman at the beginning of her adult life, who also happened to be my niece Erin's best friend.

This is the second young person I've known whose obit I've read in the past week.  Sometimes, as Wordsworth once said, "The world is too much with us."

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Twenty-Second Sunday After Pentecost

This week we see what happens when one is attempting to hide the equivalent of 80 lbs. of silver, or 130 lbs. of gold, or twenty years' wages [there seems to be some disagreement about this in academic circles] when it is freely granted to us.  Also, a tad cautionary for church leaders, lay and ordained, too.  All this and the poet John Milton.

The lections may be found here.

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Prayer For Veterans Day

God of compassion,
God of dignity and strength,
Watch over the veterans of the United States
In recognition of their loyal service to our nation.
Bless them with wholeness and love.
Shelter them.
Heal their wounds,
Comfort their hearts.
Grant them peace.
God of justice and truth,
Rock of our lives,
Bless our veterans,
These men and women of courage and valor,
With a deep and abiding understanding
Of our profound gratitude.
Protect them and their families from loneliness and want.
Grant them lives of joy and bounty.
May their dedication and honor
Be remembered as a blessing
From generation to generation.
Blessed are You,
Protector and Redeemer,
Our Shield and our Stronghold.

Funny the uniforms one wears over the course of a lifetime.

This Is What Happens When The Church Tries To Be "With It"

Most of my ordained colleagues, on both sides of the Atlantic, are sincere and well-meaning individuals.  However, for the most part, they have lived lives sheltered in academia and ecclesia, and, in some cases, pure economic privilege, thus they find their work especially fulfilling when they can support those who have not lived with the same benefits or who have an ill-defined grievance against the world in general.  My colleagues are sometimes shocked, though, when their sincere, if naive, attempts to minister to the "marginalized" are occasions of exploitation rather than thanksgiving.

For example, the staff of St. Paul's Cathedral in London have, literally it appears, stepped in it.

Protesters use cathedral "as a latrine"

Please read the whole article, as both the dean and a canon have resigned in recent days, vandals have painted "666" on the walls, health and safety officials have had to close the cathedral [CLOSE A CATHEDRAL?], and the staff is ready to mutiny.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Here's The Previous Surfing Wave Record (It Was Only 60 Feet)

Today In US History

Almighty Father, whose command is over all and whose love never fails, make me aware of Thy presence and obedient to Thy will. Keep me true to my best self, guarding me against dishonesty in purpose and deed and helping me to live so that I can face my fellow Marines, my loved ones, and Thee without shame or fear. Protect my family.
Give me the will to do the work of a Marine and to accept my share of responsibilities with vigor and enthusiasm. Grant me the courage to be proficient in my daily performance. Keep me loyal and faithful to my superiors and to the duties my Country and the Marine Corps have entrusted to me. Help me to wear my uniform with dignity, and let it remind me daily of the traditions which I must uphold.
If I am inclined to doubt, steady my faith; if I am tempted, make me strong to resist; if I should miss the mark, give me courage to try again.
Guide me with the light of truth and grant me wisdom by which I may understand the answer to my prayer.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

An American Surfer Rides A 90 Footer Off The Coast Of Portugal

Not to be outdone, I pressed ninety pounds with my surgical leg. Hey, it's something. Wait'll next year.

Of Archaeological Interest

Here's something I didn't know: Those heads on Easter Island have bodies.  Bodies that were buried somehow.  What the heck?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

"The past is never dead. It's not even past."

"No one is without Christianity, if we agree on what we mean by that word. It is every individual's individual code of behavior by means of which he makes himself a better human being than his nature wants to be, if he followed his nature only. Whatever its symbol -- cross or crescent or whatever -- that symbol is man's reminder of his duty inside the human race." - William Faulkner

Saturday, November 5, 2011

All Saints' Sunday

Let's try this again, shall we?  This week we look at what happened at an art show, how saints, souls, and sinners combine, and are reminded of how the mission of the church is borne through chaos.

The lections may be found here.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Everyone: The power is intermittent, and the Internet connection a little questionable at times, but we are generally with power. If anyone wants to help organize a soup dinner and set up the parish house for "orphans of the storm", please call either the office or the rectory.

Some Notes From The Great Blackout

Using up everything in the fridge (as we did during the day-after-Christmas blizzard and in the direct aftermath of "Hurricane" Irene). This lead to some...creative dishes, shall we say?

Running out of "flushing" water and having Amanda fill buckets with snow, only to have buckets still filled with snow sitting in the bathroom four days later.

Listening to the young woman on the radio reading the list of closures pronouncing the word "mammography" differently each time. She finally got it right, but then messed up "cardiology".

Watching my wife create new drinks based on the dwindling liquor supply, such as tea with tequila.

In response to my wife's bartending skills, composing my own version of a Kenny Chesney song and calling it "You and Earl Grey make me crazy".

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Shark Week, I Guess

Monterey Bay Shark Attack Leaves Surfer Hospitalized


Pro Surfer At San Francisco Event Withdraws After Seeing Large Shark
It's difficult for me to type on this little Android screen, but before I return to the communications blackout in the Rox, I did want to thank Leann, who braved snow, fallen and falling trees, not to mention power lines, to deliver flowers of her own arrangement to church on Sunday morning. That was above and beyond. As cold as the church is right now, they are perfectly preserved, too.
Took refuge in a town with power and a functional Internet, not to mention hot water. On my way back to the Rox today to spend yet another night in the dark and cold. Land lines are now working, however. As Amanda said, "This is easy if we pretend we're cave people.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Twentieth Sunday After Pentecost

Upon occasion, age and art combine to create something trancendent; this week Jesus combines the disciples with their historic literature to do the same.

The lections may be found here.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Surfboard Tales: Of Aussies And August

Or, rather, Of Aussies and the august August in August:

No one could get anything to eat because the Australians were there. They were blond, blue-eyed, and thought to be wealthy as they were sponsored by one of the major surfboard manufacturers. All of the waitresses were hovering around them at the small combination sandwich shop/bar/surf wax dispensary, hoping to catch their eye; making sure they had refills of their iced tea, that their tofu burgers were to their liking, and, in one case, making sure that they didn’t have to cut their own food.  It was as if the waitresses were dreaming of being swept away to some Aussie future in exotic places like Bondi Beach, the Gold Coast, or Surfer’s Paradise.

We had gotten to the shop before the Australians, but were still waiting for our “fish taco supremes” forty-five minutes into what had now become a spontaneous autograph party organized by the wait staff.  Since I had been in the water for nine or so hours and had eaten nothing all day other than a Pop Tart, my blood sugar was around .0001 and I was genuinely considering mayhem. Dangerously, I was hearing the voice of my former drill instructor echoing in my head with his litany of the seven quickest unarmed methods to take out an enemy.

 My companions saw that I had almost reached the point of no return and made a helpful suggestion.  "Why don't you take a walk? Charlie Manson used to play guitar at the place on the corner.  Check it out.  Take half an hour; we won’t get anything before then, anyway."

 It was a weeknight in the late summer, which meant the streets in the main commercial section were crowded with shoppers, tourists and partiers.  I wandered a little bit past the restaurants and sidewalk cafes, tempted to snag someone’s half eaten meal.  I stopped at the place that had once hosted Charlie Manson as its folk music artist; now it had a different name and much, much different clientele.  I walked along the sidewalk decorated with the names of those who had been inducted into the Surfing Hall of Fame, nodded to the statue of Duke Kahanamoku, the father of surfing, and steadily moved east, getting a little turned around on some of the side streets, where I found myself in the middle of a crowd of motionless young men and women who were silently, and rather eerily, staring off into the distance like seagulls pointing into the wind. 

I joined them, looking into the distance, not wanting to ask any questions to disturb what I thought might be some form of southern Californian spiritual experience.  As it turned out, I wasn’t far off.  They were watching a figure across the street, who was covered in stray bits of the Styrofoam-like material found in the center of surfboards, quietly working a sander as he patiently, quarter inch by quarter inch, shaped a new board before it was to be sheathed with fiberglass.  He was tall and well-muscled; somewhere between 40 and 50-years-old and completely absorbed in his work. 

One of the young men turned to me and said, “This is really something.  I never thought I’d ever….”  His observation was interrupted when the surfboard shaper, this obscure figure of adoration, noticed his audience, smiled and waved to them, and then turned off the lights to his workshop and closed the garage door.  The idolaters were ecstatic, saying the only thing to do now was to get back in the water and surf some evening glass.  I agreed, although to what I still wasn’t sure.

When I returned to the café, and blissfully to my fish taco supreme, I related the story to my companions, one of whom was a local.

“You know who that was, don’t you?  That was Robert August.”


“Yep.  His shop is just down the street.  He still shapes his own boards.  The kids like to gather there; they think it’s lucky to be seen by him.  That it means good surf.”

I should have recognized him, of course.  The whole reason I was in Surf City was because of him; because of a generation-old documentary film that followed August and his surfing companion around the world looking for the perfect wave; the film that I saw with my dad, on a rainy day in Ocean City, in the summer of 1966. 

My fish taco was gone in two minutes.

“I’ve got to get going.  I think I need to surf some evening glass.”  And, sure and behold, after such a “blessing”, the moonlight surf was terribly good.

[Excerpt from Reading Water, all rights reserved ©2011]

This Week In Christian History

October 24, 1260: France's Chartres Cathedral, the purest example of Gothic architecture, is consecrated.

October 24, 1648: The Peace of Westphalia ends central Europe's Thirty Years War. Extending equal political rights to Catholics and Protestants (including religious minorities), the peace treaties also marked the first use of the term "secularization" (in discussing some church property that was to be distributed among the warring parties).

October 25, 431: The Council of Ephesus replaces Nestorius with a new patriarch of Constantinople. Nestorius was anathematized for holding the belief that two separate persons indwelled the incarnate Christ.

October 25, 1400: English poet Geoffrey Chaucer dies in London, having abruptly stopped writing his famous Canterbury Tales some time before. Though not a religious writer, his characters aptly illustrate the best and worst of the church in his day. Chaucer was buried in Westminster Abbey, a high honor for a commoner, and became the first of those entombed in what is now called Poets' Corner.

October 26, 899: Alfred the Great, ruler of Wessex, England, from 871, dies. His defeat of the Danes ensured Christianity's survival in England, but he is also known for his ecclesiastical reforms and his desire to revive learning in his country.

October 26, 1529: Thomas More becomes Lord Chancellor of England. Though he defended religious freedom in his book Utopia, he strongly opposed the Reformation and wrote against Luther, Tyndale, and others. Because he also opposed Henry VIII's claim to be the supreme head of the English church, as well as the king's divorce, he was executed.

October 27, 1746: Scottish Presbyterian pastor and theologian William Tennant obtains a charter for the College of New Jersey, which is now Princeton. He had founded the school in 1726 as a seminary to train his sons and others for ministry. Presidents of the college later included Aaron Burr, Jonathan Edwards, and Reverend John Witherspoon, who led the school to national prominence.

October 29, 1562: George Abbot, translator of the Gospels, Acts and Revelation for the King James Bible, is born. He became head of the Church of England in 1611, but his popularity (and his health) declined sharply after he killed a man in a hunting accident in 1621.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

We Won. Again.

For the third year in a row, we have been awarded the trophy for raising the most donations for the Bishops Fund for Children.

Friday, October 21, 2011

First Bibles, Now This

Torrington Woman Stole Crosses to Pay Electric Bill: Cops

I Think I Played Bass With This Band

Surfing Snails

Word Of The Week: Diocese


A unit of church organization; the spiritual domain under a bishop. A diocese may contain many parishes and missions. When used as an adjective, the term is diocesan. The diocese is most often thought of as the primary and basic unit of the Church.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Thieves take Bible at gunpoint

This Week's Provocation

When Boomer Culture Finishes Its Suicide, What Will Rise Next?

"Ginsberg, Burroughs, Kerouac, Cobain, Thompson, and Hendrix didn’t build anything. We writers and artists are an over-glorified, over-praised lot. We cast our little literary spells, throw up our paint, and dance across the stage."

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A 2500-year-old Museum Of Antiquities

The story behind the world’s oldest museum, built by a Babylonian princess 2,500 years ago

Jesus Must Have Made Too Much Money

Church attacked, desecrated in Rome

This Week In Christian History

October 16, 1311: The Council of Vienne opens to decide if the Templars, a military order sworn to protect Christian pilgrims, are heretical and too wealthy. Pope Clement V decided to suppress the order. Its leader was burned and members' possessions taken by the church. That decision was adamantly derided by the poet Dante and by later historians.

October 16, 1555: English reformers Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley are burned at the stake at the order of Roman Catholic Queen Mary Tudor.

October 16, 1701: Unhappy with growing liberalism at Harvard, Congregationalists found Collegiate School, later known as Yale.

October 21, 1555: Finding that the recent martyrdom of bishops Nicholas Ridley and Hugh Latimer had intensified Protestant zeal, Queen Mary launches a series of fierce persecutions in which more than 200 men, women, and children were killed.

October 21, 1663: Virginia colonist John Harlow is fined 50 pounds of tobacco for missing church.

October 21, 1692: William Penn is deposed as governor of Pennsylvania. His grateful overtures to James II for permitting religious freedom for Dissenters from the Church of England led William and Mary to charge Penn with being a papist. They were also troubled by his pacifism.

October 22, 4004 BC:: According to James Ussher, the well-respected and scholarly Anglican primate of the Irish Church in the early seventeenth century, God created the universe on this date at 9:00 a.m. GMT.

October 22, 1811: Pianist Franz Liszt, known for his Romantic orchestras and songs, but also the author of more than 60 religious works (including the song known today as "Fairest Lord Jesus"), is born in Raiding, Hungary

Sunday, October 9, 2011

This Week In Christian History

October 13, 1670: Virginia bans slavery for Africans who arrive in the American colonies as Christians. The colony repealed the law 12 years later.

October 14, 1066: William the Conqueror leads the Normans to victory over the English Saxons in the Battle of Hastings. William is also considered one of England's most important religious reformers; he spent his last days in intense Christian devotion.

October 14, 1633: James II of England, whose conversion to Catholicism in 1670 created a constitutional crisis in Anglican Britain, is born.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Seventeenth Sunday After Pentecost

Not sure about the sermon, but the lections may be found here.

The Word Of The Week: Fraction


The part of the Communion liturgy where the Communion bread is broken by the celebrant. According to the prayer book, a period of silence is to follow, and then can be said or sung, "Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us." (prayer book pages 337 and 364)


I’ve discovered that when immobilized during convalescence, the mixture of soap operas, painkillers, and the Princeton Theological Review causes one to have dreams where Kierkegaard and Nietzsche are arguing with one another in a contemporary suburban living room about which one is more in love with the pool boy.  I’ll have to stop reading the PTR.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Today's Knee Update

Really, it's either this or a synopsis of yesterday's soap operas.  Yes, my days are filled with wonder.

I want to note that the folks at Litchfield Hills Orthopedic and its related surgery center were great.  They are punctual, always pleasant and smiling, terrifically organized with the paperwork, and tell me everything that I want to know.  [I've found that if I ask questions that are too specific, some health care pros bristle a little bit.  The LHO folks didn't mind at all.  In fact, the anesthesiologist gave me the breakdown of the local he was injecting into my knee without speaking to me as if I were brain-addled.]

The best part about Wednesday's surgery is that I was permitted to remain conscious and was able to watch the surgery, along with the surgeon, on their brand new hi-def TV.  Not only that, but the surgeon kept up a running commentary on what he was doing, showing me the various tools he was inserting in my knee, and even pointing out some areas to watch in the future.  [Turns out I had both new and old trauma to that knee; not to sound "macho", but there is a real downside to having a high pain threshold.]

Anyway, all went well and I don't think the actual surgery took more than 30 minutes.  I was released early, after exchanging war stories with the discharge nurse, a Gulf War vet who switched from the infantry to the medical corps because she couldn't throw a hand grenade far enough.

So, now I'm catching up on some theology books that have been published in recent years and with some murder mysteries, as well as a history of the so-called "Chitlin' Circuit", that collection of roadhouses and nightclubs that used to serve the "racial music" demographic and were the birthplace of rock n' roll. 

Today's big event: the massive dressing comes off.