Monday, May 28, 2012

Summer #55 [Anticipated]

In over fifty summers, I've sustained a damaged rotator cuff, torn thumb tendon, strained Achilles tendon, sprained ankle, simple orbit fracture, cracked palate, demolished molar [a surf board hit me in the side of the face; not my board, some teenager's], two black eyes [not at the same time], bloodied noses, a sprained elbow, jellyfish stings, and forty-eight sixty sixty-six stitches in various parts of me. Not to mention sunburn [although not since the early 80's], dehydration, ear infection, various minor abrasions, contusions, lacerations, a profound sinus irritation, and shredded knee cartilage. Oh, and a barracuda once gave me a dirty look.

Then again, I've seen colleagues literally work themselves to death in the face of their congregations' spiritual lassitude, sneering indifference, and occasional hostility, so it seems that surfing is safer.

From The Dawn Patrol, by Don Winslow:

"The physicists call it a 'energy-transport phenomenon.'

The dictionary says it's 'a disturbance that travels through a medium from one location to another location.'

A disturbance. It's certainly that.

Something gets disturbed. That is, something strikes something else and sets off a vibrations. Clap your hands right now and you'll hear a sound. What you're actually hearing is a sound wave. Something struck something else and it set off a vibration that strikes your eardrum.

The vibration is energy. It's transported through the phenomenon of a wave from one location to the other.

The water itself doesn't actually move. What happens is one particle of water bumps into the next, which bumps into the next, and so on and so forth until it hits something. It's like that idiot wave at a sports event - the people don't move around the stadium, but the wave does. The energy flows from one person to another.

So when you're riding a wave, you're not riding water. The water is the medium, but what you're really riding is energy."

[Above is a photo of a Roman Catholic nun whose religious order hosts an annual charity surfing competition in Stone Harbor, New Jersey.]

Memorial Day

Memorial Day in Roxbury means at least a couple of things, from the fun of our very particular town parade to the quiet witness of small American flags sprinkled throughout the three cemeteries.  Below is the collect for today:

Lord God Almighty, who have made all peoples of the earth for your glory, to serve you in freedom and peace: Grant to the people of our country a zeal for justice and the strength of forbearance, that we may use our liberty in accordance with your gracious will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Sometimes the old poetry teacher in me comes out, too.  Below, A.E. Housman's "Here Dead We Lie":
Here dead we lie
Because we did not choose
To live and shame the land
From which we sprung.

Life, to be sure,
Is nothing much to lose,
But young men think it is,
And we were young.

[For Jeff and Scott, who were young; and for those of the 1/4th Marines who fought the good fight and kept the faith.  "Whatever It Takes."]

Wherein I Take Umbrage At Something In The NYT

This may not be the first time that I've winced at something in the New York Times [I think that was when they tried to turn the obit for movie cowgirl Dale Evans into a dissertation on post-modern feminism], but this opening sentence, while compelling and designed to please an editor on a holiday weekend, isn't accurate:

In the end, it was a typical Monaco Grand Prix procession: The man on pole finished first, the man who started second finished second, and none of many potential surprises came to be.

Well, racing reporter, except for the races that were held between 1989 to 2007.  That would seem to make it not typical at all.    

[This is for Formula One nerds only, of whom I know only two others.]   

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Day Of Pentecost

This week, as is traditional, we witness the procession of the early Christian phone book, appropriately groan in labor pains with the early church, and learn of the Advocate, who is to be our perpetual guide through all things temporal. All this plus what I witnessed at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo in 1972 [or was it '71?].

The lections may be found here.

Remember: It is customary to wear the color red on the Day of Pentecost.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Too Busy To Blog

I became remarkably busy this week and was unable to spend any early morning, or late night, time in front of the computer.  Also, today was the last day of school for me for this academic year, which meant I took a little more time at RHS this morning.

Returning soon....

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Today Is National Maritime Day

It's a grand day for those of us who have the honor of serving as chaplains to merchant seamen. An often forgotten form of national service gets its due by presidential decree on this date each year. I also get to wear my uniform. Well, if I can find it.

More may found here.

Also, have fun playing "Guess the mariner" with the photo below.  Hint: a great number of America's writers have been merchant mariners, including Herman Melville, Jack London, Allen Ginsberg and Mark Twain.  Joseph Conrad, while not American, was a merchant ship captain before becoming one of the great stylists of the English language.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

I Used To Play Bass For Sarcastic Fringehead

The things I meet while surfing. Check out the photo. (Bad link now fixed.)

The Government Gets Ready To Go After Guitars Again

Feds threaten to disrupt summer concerts 

"Lawmakers are scrambling to save the summer concert season from federal agents poised to seize the instruments of rock and country stars because the wood used to make them may have been illegally harvested--and without their knowledge."

Yes, it's this weird "illegal" wood fixation that portions of the federal government seem to have with Gibson guitars. Note that Martin guitars, which are made from the same wood from the same source, have never been subject to government scrutiny nor have they ever been raided by armed federal law enforcement personnel. [Ditto Clements guitars, I might add.]  Odd, isn't it? It's almost as if there's something political about all of this. Nah, that's crazy talk.

The New York Times Explains This "Christian Marriage" Notion To Its Readers

Mitt and Ann Romney’s marriage is strong because they believe they will live together in an eternal afterlife, relatives and friends say, which motivates them to iron out conflicts.

Honestly, whenever the NYT speaks of Christian theology or sacrament these days, it's as if they're explaining the practices of some odd cargo cult to a collection of curious readers.  It reminds me of the tone heard in those old travelogues that used to be shown in movie theaters: "Here are the Tahitians in their colorful native dress.  Don't shrink our heads, boys and girls." or "Behold the Navaho trinket salesman.  Don't worry, he doesn't want your scalp!"  Yeesh.

The part that gets me is that the NYT implies that this belief of the Romney's is something particular to Mormons.  In fact, it is the Christian sacrament of marriage as understood by anyone who is, well, a Christian of any type, denomination, or church.  That's why marriage is a sacrament; it's eternal.

I Used To Play Bass For Vegetarian Shark

World's First Vegetarian Shark Prefers Heads of Lettuce

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Parish News

I received word this morning that Marion Oonk, a long-time member and former lay minister at Christ Church, has died. In fact, she was the lay minister I worked with on my first Sunday at Christ Church back in 1999. Let light perpetual shine upon her.

Rite Of Sancturary Is Offered To Black Bears, Too

This fellow came to visit me in front of the parish this morning.  By the time I found my camera he was making his way along South St.

The Widening Gyre

An ordained friend of long acquaintance called me today.  "Did you know that there is General Convention this summer?"

Actually, if I did make note of it, I had forgotten.

He then asked the question that haunts me: "Do you think it matters any more?"

My answer to that question scares me a little.

When the center of this gyre we call the church no longer holds, what happens?  No, I know the answer.  It's happening now.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A Marvelous Letter From Yesterday's Wall Street Journal Web Page

It regards the woman who was once referred to as the Harvard Law School faculty's "person of color", an ostensible 1/32nd Cherokee, whose claims to being the member of any tribe are...weak:

I think everyone is missing the point about the Elizabeth Warren matter. What's important isn't whether or not she lied. What's important is that once she was hired, and Harvard et al. were able to check the diversity box, it didn't matter one little bit if she was actually an Indian or not. This whole kerfuffle exposes the diversity hoax.
On the one hand, back in 1997 we were to celebrate that Harvard had hired its first "woman of color." Finally, Harvard was diversified, which is apparently vitally important for many unnamed reasons, or so we are told. On the other hand, we are assured by all the involved parties that she was hired and evaluated on her performance, not on the diversity that she brought to the institution.
Unlike Warren, I am an "official" Cherokee Indian. I have the pedigree card from the Department of the Interior, Indian Affairs Bureau to prove it. But just like Warren, any "diversity" I bring to an institution has nothing to do with that pedigree. I didn't grow up on a reservation. I don't participate in any Indian-specific religious or cultural institutions. The diversity I bring is related to being the first in my family to go to college. It comes from being in the military. It comes from growing up, being educated, serving my country, and working under my own unique circumstances. In short, the diversity I bring is only different, not better, not worse, than anyone else's "diversity," regardless of skin color or bloodline. It is certainly not related to my great-grandmother being a Cherokee.
But if I check that box, somehow my employer might be viewed as better, more progressive and more "diverse" than others. That's a pile of Indian-pony dung.
Of course this means that any who are of mixed racial background, and yet are as oatmeal-colored as Elizabeth Warren, are held up to even more ridicule by pure Caucasians; something that has been an unforturnate experience for some time.  Between academic poseurs such as Warren, and the odd collection of "Indians" who operate casinos, the honest claim of Indian blood is now always to be suspect.  In the 21st century, the only good Indian is the one you can pretend to be.

Words Written In 1978 [Italics Are Mine]

I speak as a socially concerned evangelical, one who sees that the Gospel is a stick of dynamite in the social structure. We need to proclaim the whole Gospel to the whole man, and this includes relating Christian faith to the whole man, and this includes relating Christian faith to the economic and political areas of life as well as the so-called religious area. At the same time we must beware of combining the Gospel with any social ideology.  - Donald G. Bloesch

True, as the Episcopal Church's strong association with one branch of one secular political party often renders it an irrelevant entity in the lives of about 80% of the American public.  It also sends the unfortunate message that The Church believes that Jesus is only for those who politically agree with its leadership.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

And Also With You

Man arrested for throwing Bible at roomie

But You'll Die Healthy

Deadly organic food – worse than Fukushima

The Educational Conundrum

College artists take out onerous student loans in order to learn how to paint a mural that...protests student loans?

Ah, The Simple Joys Of Summer

Armed environmental police shut down ice cream stand

Cue the bureaucrat: "I like ice cream as much as anybody, so it pains us to even temporarily close what is an iconic property, but we have to make sure people eating ice cream there are safe,' said Lambert."

Feel his pain, and that of the thirteen now-unemployed high school + college students.

Some More About Donald "Duck" Dunn

Not to be tedious, but as mentioned in a post from a few days ago, Dunn was a major influence on most of the popular music that grew out of the cauldron of the 1960's; a time when the blending of styles created music so memorable that I still hear it played in high school dormitories.  This link is to an excellent article about him in The Atlantic with mentions of the songs on which he played, his style in regards to the other two bass greats of his era [James Jamerson, who died of a drug overdose, and Jaco Pastorius, who was beaten to death by a bouncer.  Rough crowd I hang out with, aren't they?] and the inspiration he bequeathed to bass players everywhere, even ratty nightclub hacks from the late 70's/early '80's [like me].

Dunn leaves behind an impressive legacy: just a quiet guy holding down the low end who managed to change the sound of pop music.

Friday, May 11, 2012

An Obituary Of Note

Carroll Shelby, Builder of Cobra Sports Car, Dies at 89

Maybe the coolest guy ever. I think he was on his fourth heart.  Here he is talking to some guy who's only half as cool.  And look at that car....

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Yes. Next Question.

Are the Indians for real?

(It's about baseball, not political candidates.)

Surprisingly, This Was Written In 1911

"Modern culture is a mighty force. It is either subservient to the gospel or else it is the deadliest enemy of the gospel. For making it subservient, religious emotion is not enough, intellectual labor is also necessary. And that labor is being neglected. The Church has turned to easier tasks. And now she is reaping the fruits of her indolence. Now she must battle for her life." - The Princeton Theological Review, Volume 11, 1911

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Ohhhhhhh, Canada

A Christian student suspended from a high school in Nova Scotia for sporting a T-shirt with the slogan "Life is wasted without Jesus" vows to wear it when he returns to class next week.

Cue the bureaucrat: "Nancy Pynch-Worthylake, board superintendent, said some students and teachers found the T-shirt offensive. "When one is able or others are able to interpret it as, 'If you don't share my belief then your life is wasted,' that can be interpreted by some as being inappropriate," she said."

Perhaps I shouldn't smile about the bureaucrat's name sounding like a Month Python character's.

The New York Times Explains These "Christian" Creatures To Its Readers

I saw that when people prayed, they imagined themselves in conversation with God. They do not, of course, think that God is imaginary, but they think that humans need to use their imagination to understand a God so much bigger and better than what they know from ordinary life. They imagine God as wiser and kinder than any human they know, and then they try to become the person they would be if they were always aware of being in God’s presence, even when the kids fuss and the train runs late.

If I were of a scabrous nature, I'd say "Duh". I'm not, though.

The Feast Of Julian Of Norwich, 1342 – 1416

Insomnia, from which I occasionally suffer, can be great when working on sermons or catching up on a variety of letters and notes that need to be sent out. It's also good for catching that deer that's eating my rhubarb.

But, around early afternoon, it can be a bit of a drag. Rather, I can be a bit of a drag by early afternoon. Insomnia usually causes word-retrieval issues, spontaneous bursts of laughter at nothing in particular, and a certain impatience with common foibles.  At those times, it's best that I not be around ordained colleagues.  For some, it can permit compelling experiences with non-linear perception.

One of Christian history's insomniacs, as well as a sufferer of migraine headaches [specifically, scintillating scotoma] was Julian of Norwich, whose feast day is today, of whom more may be found here.  Suffice it to say that she was one of the great mystics of the Anglican tradition and her story evocative of that portion of spirituality of which we seem rarely to speak these days. Given the volume of literature that has been produced about her and her visions, especially since the mid-20th century, she is certainly the most identifiable of Anglican mystics.

The saying, "…All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well", which Julian claimed to be said to her by God Himself, reflects her theology.  T.S. Eliot incorporated this phrase in his "Little Gidding", the fourth of his Four Quartets poems:

Whatever we inherit from the fortunate
We have taken from the defeated
What they had to leave us—a symbol:
A symbol perfected in death.
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
By the purification of the motive
In the ground of our beseeching.

Lord God, in your compassion you granted to the Lady Julian many revelations of your nurturing and sustaining love: Move our hearts, like hers, to seek you above all things, for in giving us yourself you give us all; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Useful Information

'Death is one of the most important things in life'

The Commonwealth Of Mass. Discovers The Cause Of Obesity

Turns out, it's school bake sales.

Bake sales, the calorie-laden standby cash-strapped classrooms, PTAs and booster clubs rely on, will be outlawed from public schools as of Aug. 1 as part of new no-nonsense nutrition standards, forcing fundraisers back to the blackboard to cook up alternative ways to raise money for kids.

I haven't purchased school bake sale goods in well over a decade, which explains why I'm whip thin.

Cue the bureaucrat: "State Sen. Susan Fargo (D-Lincoln), chairwoman of the Joint Committee on Public Health, said the problem of overweight children has reached “crisis” proportions.  'If we didn’t have so many kids that were obese, we could have let things go,' Fargo said."

Gosh, the government can fix everything. It's like Jesus and Superman combined. Of course, if state funding hadn't been cut from athletic/outdoors programs, I doubt this would be an issue. That's why obesity isn't such a problem at private schools.

Monday, May 7, 2012

The New Town Christmas Tree Has Been Planted

The annual party may continue.

Fun Things For A Day Off

Well, it may not be your day off, but it's certainly mine.

Ever consider how important a mail order catalog was in the formation of American music?  Here's an interesting article:  How Sears, Roebuck & Co. midwifed the birth of the blues

This morning's news from France reminded me of this article by P.J. O'Rourke from about four years ago, which was ostensibly about graduation speeches:  Bad Advice for New Graduates

It includes this gem:

"6. Whenever you’re unsure about what course to take in life, ask yourself, “What would France do?”You see, France is a treasure to mankind. French ideas, French beliefs, and French actions form a sort of loadstone for humanity. Because a moral compass needle needs a butt end. Whatever direction France is pointing in—toward Nazi collaboration, Communism, existentialism, Jerry Lewis movies, or President Sarkozy’s personal life—you can go the other way with a clear conscience."

And finally, from the world of sports: Kiteboarding replaces windsurfing in the 2016 Olympic Games

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Just So You Know...

The patron saint of horsemen is St. James the Greater. Unofficially, St. Augustine of Hippo (whose mother was Monnica, whose feast day was this week) is the patron of horse racing.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Useful Information

Saturday's Supermoon won't destroy Earth

The Feast Of Monnica

St. Monnica [note the two "n's', as there is an interesting archaeological tale involved in that spelling] was the mother of St. Augustine of Hippo, one of the three or four greatest theologians in Christian history, whose most favored quotation was from his great work The Confessions, in which he said that, despite his mother's devotion to Christ and her desire for her son to be equally devoted, in his younger days his prayer was "Lord, give me chastity, but not yet."

Anyway, Monnica was a well-born member of a North African family of the early 4th century; her family was Christian.  In her youth, she was a little on the wild side [a family trait, it appears]; her fondness for wine was extreme to the point that her family's servants would openly ridicule her for her drunkenness.  A sense of shame and developing maturity caused her to eschew wine for the remainder of her life.  However, it is safe to say that she did find her spirituality to be intoxicating.

Her husband was a pagan, and it was to these outworn creeds that her brilliant, precocious son Augustine was originally drawn.  Her singular mission was to see that her son came to Christ, and it was to this she remained dedicated until, with inexorable results, Augustine would be baptized on Easter of 387.  It should be noted that it was the Christian intellectual Ambrose, the bishop of Milan, who had much to do with Augustine's conversion, as Ambrose taught Augustine that one could be both an intellectual and a Christian.  Ah, for an Ambrose in the 21st century....

Monnica followed her son as his political career took him from Carthage to Rome; her work with Christians in the Holy See would become legend.  Interestingly, it was through her efforts that the sites of the Holy Land, while part of the Christian Roman Empire, would be set aside as special.  The building of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which is thought to be on the site of Jesus' crucifixion, was the singular project encouraged by her work and devotion.

She died before she could return home to Carthage and was entombed in Ostia, on the Italian coast, on this day in the year 387.  Her tomb would be discovered and revealed by archaeologists at the end of World War II.  On it, the spelling of her name is as it appears in this posting, and not as "Monica", which is how it had been spelled in history texts since...well, for a long, long time.  It is not known if the newer [which is to say, older] spelling is accurate or the result of a clumsy stone mason, but it is the spelling that is now accepted.

O Lord, who through spiritual discipline strengthened your servant Monnica to persevere in offering her love and prayers and tears for the conversion of her husband and of Augustine their son: Deepen our devotion, we pray, and use us in accordance with your will to bring others, even our own kindred, to acknowledge Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

National Day Of Prayer

We will be meeting at noon on the Great Lawn of Christ Church today to recognize the National Day of Prayer.  If inclement, we will meet in the church.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Supermoon = Superwaves

Biggest Full Moon of the year due this weekend as 'supermoon' raises tides around the planet

Continued Gender Problems In Higher Ed

The major reasons young males are not matriculating is a campus atmosphere that is unwelcoming…. It is voiced by young men who enroll but may leave after several semesters: We do not feel welcomed. The environment is anti-male in many classrooms. Administrators, who are now for the most part women, are not interested in how active young men are in college life, with the exception of athletics. Lack of engagement of men in on-campus activities and organizations was one of the first signs of young men being turned off by college life….

This is a commonly expressed issue in seminaries and divinity schools too; although sotto voce, as no one in the greater church wishes to be labeled "disharmonious".

Post-Modern Anarchy: Blowing Up A Place Popular For Elementary School Field Trips

FBI: 5 arrested in plot to blow up bridge

What a surprise: They're members of the Occupy bunch.

Something NPR Left Out

Oh yeah, and a visit from God

Feast Of Sts. Philip And James

As in the case of the other apostles, we see in James and Philip human men who became foundation stones of the Church, and we are reminded again that holiness and its consequent apostolate are entirely the gift of God, not a matter of human achieving. All power is God’s power, even the power of human freedom to accept his gifts. “You will be clothed with power from on high,” Jesus told Philip and the others. Their first commission had been to expel unclean spirits,heal diseases, announce the kingdom. They learned, gradually, that these externals were sacramentsofan even greater miracle inside their persons—the divine power to love like God.

Almighty God, who gave to your apostles Philip and James grace and strength to bear witness to the truth: Grant that we, being mindful of their victory of faith, may glorify in life and death the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.