Friday, August 31, 2012

Paul Bigsby


It looks like a brake caliper, doesn't it?  I always thought so.  A brake caliper from a motorcycle, as a matter of fact.  I always thought they looked out of place on anything that wasn't driven by some form of internal combustion engine.  Despite my reaction to its appearance, there was, and is, no denying its ability to perform in a manner yet to be improved upon by other, similar devices, or even by artificial electronics.

It's called a tremelo, and its inventor was Paul Bigsby who was, no surprise, a former motorcycle mechanic.  He was also buddies with Les Paul and Leo Fender.  Between the three of them, Paul the guitar vituoso; Fender the electrical engineer [who did not play the guitar himself], and Bigsby, the very first electric guitars were made.  Bigsby was the genius of the group, though.

Paul Bigsby

For those who don't know, this is what a Bigsby tremelo does:

He makes the Friday list due to things beyond mere mechanical ability.  He was humble and serious about the luthier's call and, according to his biographer, " 'Bigsby was literally a craftsman who made guitars one at a time for key players of the day,' " ; to the extent that he was sometimes up to two years behind on orders.

Making one guitar at a time for specific players is an almost lost practice.  Since those "key players" included guitarists in both country and western bands, "tiki" music of the late 1950's/early 1960's, and rock icons, his invention influenced the sound that we have associated with popular music since the mid-20th century.

I remember once at a concert watching Neil Young torture a tremelo during "Like a Hurricane" and thinking that the song would have been impossible without that arrangement of shaped metal. 

More may be read via the link above and on the official Bigsby website.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

No Comment

Thursday's Prayer

We beseech thee, Master, to be our helper and protector.
Save the afflicted among us; have mercy on the lowly;
raise up the fallen; appear to the needy; heal the ungodly;
restore the wanderers of thy people;
feed the hungry; ransom our prisoners;
raise up the sick; comfort the faint-hearted.

(Clement of Rome, 1st Century)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

As My Inner 12-Year-Old Would Say: This Is Neato

Underwater wheelchair put to test ahead of Paralympics

Anything To Say About This, Desmond?

Christians in Pakistan Hiding in Forest

Great Moments In Education

A Nebraska school district asked a deaf preschooler to change his sign language name because they believe the hand motion he used looked like he was shooting a gun

The boy's first name, you see, is Hunter.

Archbishop Dolan To Pray At Both Political Conventions. Hmmm.

Okay, all you “progressives” who were fuming and breathing fire because Dolan was delivering the closing prayer at the GOP convention? (You know who you are — the folks sending me snarky little, “why-don’t-the-fascist-misogynistic-bishops-just-admit-they’re-Rethuglicans?” love notes, to which I kept gamely responding, “Catholicism is not Democrat or Republican” while you cursed at me?) Well, now you can start fuming b/c he is delivering the closing speech at the Dem convention, too.

Oh, wait. My bad. Now Dolan praying at a political convention must be okay. Or, he’s just trying to prove he’s not the rat you thought he was. Or, perhaps Obama ignoring Dolan’s offer to pray wasn’t polling well.

Meanwhile, all you “conservatives” who were praising Dolan for speaking at the GOP convention? You can start accusing him of “destroying the church from within”, now!

Why Don't Nobel Laureates Have Anything To Say About This?

Paging Desmond Tutu:

17 Afghans beheaded for attending dance party

"Isaac Is Struggling To Form An Inner Core"

It's rare that the National Hurricane Center gives me a sermon idea, but there you go.

Everything Old Is New Again

Unilever sees 'return to poverty' in Europe

"Unilever will adopt marketing strategies used in developing countries in order to drive future growth in Europe, as the head of its European business warned that poverty will rise in the region as a result of the debt crisis."

Unilever is the multi-national corporation that owns a remarkable number of European food manufacturers.  In the US, and this is just offhand memory, they own the Ben and Jerry's ice cream concern.

If you thought that Ben and Jerry's was owned by a couple of elderly hippies, then you see the power of Unilever's marketing approach.

I wonder what role Christianity will play in this new European reality.  Well, if any.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tuesday's Quotation

"Nothing so offends the doctrinaire intellectual as our ability to achieve the momentous in a matter-of-fact way, unblessed by words." - Eric Hoffer

Monday, August 27, 2012

This Week's Feast Days

August 27: Thomas Gallaudet [1822-1902]
Thomas Gallaudet
Galludet's mother was deaf, and his father, Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, was the founder of the West Hartford School for the Deaf.  Galludet was ordained an Episcopal priest, after serving, like his father and mother, as a teacher to the deaf.  In 1852, he established St. Ann's Church in New York, with liturgies especially for deaf persons and offered primarily in sign language.  Galludet University is named for him.

In recent years, to appease political organizations for the deaf, Galludet's student, Henry Winter Syle, the first deaf priest in the Episcopal Church, has been added to the feast day.

O loving God, who willest that everyone should come to thee and be saved: We bless thy Holy Name for thy servants Thomas Gallaudet and Henry Winter Syle, whose labors with and for those who are deaf we commemorate today; and we pray that thou wouldst continually move thy Church to respond in love to the needs of all people; through Jesus Christ, who opened the ears of the deaf, and who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

August 28: St. Augustine of Hippo [354–430]

From the Stanford Encyclodpedia of Philosophy:
One of the decisive developments in the western philosophical tradition was the eventually widespread merging of the Greek philosophical tradition and the Judeo-Christian religious and scriptural traditions. Augustine is one of the main figures through and by whom this merging was accomplished. He is, as well, one of the towering figures of medieval philosophy whose authority and thought came to exert a pervasive and enduring influence well into the modern period (e.g. Descartes and especially Malebranche), and even up to the present day, especially among those sympathetic to the religious tradition which he helped to shape. But even for those who do not share this sympathy, there is much in Augustine's thought that is worthy of serious philosophical attention. Augustine is not only one of the major sources whereby classical philosophy in general and Neoplatonism in particular enter into the mainstream of early and subsequent medieval philosophy, but there are significant contributions of his own that emerge from his modification of that Greco-Roman inheritance, e.g., his subtle accounts of belief and authority, his account of knowledge and illumination, his emphasis upon the importance and centrality of the will, and his focus upon a new way of conceptualizing the phenomena of human history, just to cite a few of the more conspicuous examples.

Wow, Stanford can really kill off any interest in a subject, can't it?  Suffice it to say, Augustine, along with Aquinas, are considered the two greatest philosopher/theologians of our tradition.

Lord God, the light of the minds that know you, the life of the souls that love you, and the strength of the hearts that serve you: Help us, following the example of your servant Augustine of Hippo, so to know you that we may truly love you, and so to love you that we may fully serve you, whom to serve is perfect freedom; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

August 31: Aidan of Lindisfarne [?-651]

St. Aidan

Monastic founder, bishop, and miracle worker known for his kindness to animals...Aidan was born in Connaught, Ireland. Tradition states that his birth was heralded by signs and omens, and he showed evidence of piety as a small child. Educated at Leinster, Aidan went to St. David monastery in Wales. He remained there for several years, studying Scriptures, and his presence saved St. David's from disaster. Saxon war parties attacked the monastery during Aidan's stay, and he supposedly repelled them miraculously. In time, Aidan returned to Ireland, founding a monastery in Ferns, in Wexford. He became the bishop of the region as well. His miracles brought many to the Church. Aidan is represented in religious art with a stag. He is reported to have made a beautiful stag invisible to save it from hounds.

 O loving God, you called your servant Aidan from the peace of a cloister to re-establish the Christian mission in northern England, and endowed him with gentleness, simplicity, and strength: Grant that we, following his example, may use what you have given us for the relief of human need, and may persevere in commending the saving Gospel of our Redeemer Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

September 1: David Pendleton Oakerhater [?-1931]

Oakerhater [on the left wearing the deacon's stole] was the first American Indian [Cheyenne, actually] to be ordained in the Episcopal Church.  He was a deacon, never a priest, and is of great importance to all tribal people who are baptized Christians.  A considerable amount is written of him, with his official website [yes, he has one] to be found here.

A fine quotation from The Rev. Mr. Oakerhater, "Men, you know me. You remember me when I led you out to war. I went first, and what I told you was true. Now I have been away to the East, and I have learned about another captain, the Lord Jesus Christ, and he is my leader. He goes first, and all he tells me is true. I come back to my people to tell you to go with me now in this new road, a war that makes all for peace and where we never have only victory..."

O God of unsearchable wisdom and infinite mercy, you chose a captive warrior, David Oakerhater, to be your servant, and sent him to be a missionary to his own people, and to exercise the office of a deacon among them: Liberate us, who commemorate him today, from bondage to self, and empower us for service to you and to the neighbors you have given us; through Jesus Christ, the captain of our salvation; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Thirteenth Sunday After Pentecost

You will never guess what Jesus is talking about this week.  Did you guess "living bread", etc?  Also, Solomon dedicates the massive temple by placing the ark not in a tent but in the holy of holies, marking it as a beacon for all who quest for God.

The lections may be found here.


Charitable giving highest in the most religious portions of the USA

Of course I solicit donations in the nation's least religious state, so....

Friday, August 24, 2012

Jane Scott

Everything I knew about rock music I learned from this woman, who looks like the world's best grandmother.  Hard to believe, but Jane Scott was the definitive rock music critic of the Midwest.

I met Ms. Scott back in the 70's when I was working at an AOR*-formatted radio station, but I'd been reading her column since I was 13.  The same year we met I had interviewed Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead, Denny Laine of Paul McCartney's band, Wings, and jazz legend Larry Coryell, but she was the one of whom I was in awe.  Jane Scott was a great lady and a great reporter, and very patient with what I'm sure were some tedious interview questions from a 20-year-old.

What made her great was an instinct that cannot be learned, as illustrated in this quotation from her obit: "She found her lifework on Sept. 15, 1964, the day four lads from Liverpool came to Cleveland. No one at the paper was interested in covering the Beatles, and Ms. Scott volunteered."  See what I mean?  She knew something special was about to happen and, being a good reporter, she wanted to be there to experience it.

The evening I met Ms. Scott, we were in attendance at a concert in a 200-seat venue in Cleveland's Playhouse Square.  “He looked like a cross between a dockhand and a pirate,” she wrote in The Plain Dealer in 1975, reviewing the young musician we had come to see. “He stood on the darkened Allen Theater stage last night in a black greaser jacket, blue jeans, a gray wool cap pulled over an eye and a gold earring in his left ear. ... His name is Bruce Springsteen. He will be the next superstar.” She made this prediction at the age of 56, and was the first to do so.

When she died last year, her obituary ran in the Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, New York Times, and, of course, the Cleveland Plain Dealer.  Even before her death, she had become legend.

* AOR = Album-oriented Rock

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Widening Gyre, Part Three

Judging from the tone and content of messages I'm receiving from ordained colleagues, the unofficial Episcopal Church motto for the election season is, "Respect the dignity of every human being [except those who disagree with you politically]”.

Again, this is what happens when secular politics trumps theological foundation.  Have we forgotten that we are in the world but not of the world?  Never mind, I know the answer.

I wonder if I can avoid e-mail and Facebook until mid-November?

Thursday's Prayer

Look upon us, O Lord,
and let all the darkness of our souls
vanish before the beams of thy brightness.
Fill us with holy love,
and open to us the treasures of thy wisdom.
All our desire is known unto thee,
therefore perfect what thou hast begun,
and what thy Spirit has awakened us to ask in prayer.
We seek thy face,
turn thy face unto us and show us thy glory.
Then shall our longing be satisfied,
and our peace shall be perfect.

(Augustine, 354 - 430)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Were Ribs On The Menu? Neckbone?

Jersey City health inspectors shut down fundraising BBQ at cemetery

I Know An Easier Way

How to Tell an Elephant From a Cat? Check the Larynx

A New Definition Of Luck

Discovery of body parts in sewer was pure luck, official says

Well, That's Okay, Then

In reference to a previous posting, the new, improved government explanation is even more chilling.

Agencies tamp down speculation over hollow-point ammo purchases

If you're wondering what the big deal is, and you have no idea about guns and ammunition, hollow point bullets are designed to kill, dismember, maim or otherwise permanently disable a person if you hit them at all with the bullet.

This is what they do inside the human body:

To put this in perspective, the Geneva Convention does not permit their use on the battlefield.  However, agents of the US government are allowed to stockpile hundreds of thousands of rounds.  In the words of yet another tedious bureaucrat, "...the type is "standard issue" and is used during 'mandatory quarterly firearms qualifications and other training sessions.'"

Pretty extravagant using flesh crushing hollow points on paper targets.  I use target ammo, myself, as it's cheaper and, depending on the range, less likely to blow through the target, the wall behind it, and the cars in the parking lot.

This was my favorite quotation, though, summing up why the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration needs 46,000 rounds of maiming/killing power: "NOAA officers and agents enforce the nation's ocean and fishing laws to ensure a level playing field for fishermen and to protect marine species like whales, dolphins and turtles...."

Kind of brings all new meaning to "saving the whales", doesn't it?

I'm Sorry, But I Keep Laughing At This

Spanish fresco restoration botched by amateur

You have to see the picture. This quote captures the "restoration" nicely: "The once-dignified portrait now resembles a crayon sketch of a very hairy monkey in an ill-fitting tunic...."

Living The Gospel Is Tricky Business, Redux

Valley woman told she could not hand out free bottled water in summer heat

Living The Gospel Is Tricky Business

Lunch lady faces fine for feeding poor kids in Pennsylvania

Cue the tedious bureaucrat: "What she is doing is commendable.... But if we don't have laws, there's chaos."

My New Word: Apocaholic

Apocalypse Not: Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Worry About End Times

The Widening Gyre, Part Two

Three things this week;

1.  It was suggested to me this week by someone friendly with diocesan powers, someone who wishes to one day bask in the illumination of glory that is a diocesan house, that if I were willing to become a part-time rector my congregation would be able to give the diocese more money. 

2.  My wife, who has, save for a brief interruption when she worked in another state, been a member of our current diocese since 1984, had major surgery three weeks ago [as a brain aneurysm survivor, every surgery is major], and was just released from the rehab clinic on Saturday after spending two weeks learning how to use her new hip.  She has yet to receive a visit, phone call, or note from any of the three full-time bishops of the diocese.

3.  The new paradigm for priests is to be bi-vocational, according to the uni-vocational bishops.

The center, as Yeats noted, cannot hold.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tuesday's Quotation

"A religion without mystery must be a religion without God." - The Rt. Rev. Jeremy Taylor

Monday, August 20, 2012

This Week's Feast Days

August 20: Bernard of Clairvaux [1090-1153] Abbot and Theologian [and a poet, too].

From a family both pious and military, Bernard entered religious orders as a reformed Benedictine [or Cistercian] at the age of 23, the beginning of forty years of life in cloister. Theologically, while he was as doctrinaire as any of his 12th century contemporaries, he presented some foundational ideas that were later to be embraced by the Protestants in the early days of the Reformation.  More of him may be found by clicking the paragraph below:

Bernard was able to accomplish many things; one of his greatest achievements took place after the death of Pope Honorius II in 1130. A disputed election of the new pope caused a schism in the Church. Both Innocent II and Anacletus II were claimed to be the new pope. Catholics took sides and neither side would give in. Bernard traveled from one country to another to talk to church leaders in an effort to end the rift. After eight years of preaching and negotiating, the schism was finally ended. That was thought to be Bernard's crowning triumph.

O God, by whose grace your servant Bernard of Clairvaux, kindled with the flame of your love, became a burning and a shining light in your Church: Grant that we also may be aflame with the spirit of love and discipline, and walk before you as children of light; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

August 25, King Louis IX of France [1214-1270]:

It often surprises people that a monarch, and a non-Anglican one at that, is on the list.  His inclusion is due to his sense of justice and considerable interest in the charitable life.  Heck, he lowered taxes and reduced regulations; that alone would grant him a date on my personal feast day calendar.  More may be found by clicking on the paragraph below:

"...despite his wealth and affluence, St. Louis spent his life crusading for justice, love and generosity. It was the poorest of the poor that were recipients of his charity and alms everyday. It is said that he always gave to beggars on his travels, and twice a week, money, bread and leftovers from the royal table were handed out. Every day 120 poor people ate in his household, 13 ate in the same room and three ate at his table...Louis was considered by his family, friends, French nobles, and religious men and women to be a deeply pious and honorable man. He took a special interest in charitable institutions, regarding his kingly duties as part of his Christian vocation."

O God, you called your servant Louis of France to an earthly throne that he might advance your heavenly kingdom, and gave him zeal for your Church and love for your people: Mercifully grant that we who commemorate him this day may be fruitful in good works, and attain to the glorious crown of your saints; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Twelfth Sunday After Pentecost

David dies, Solomon succeeds and sets the standard for the relationship between God and monarch that will be copied, or attempted to be copied, for the next 3000 years.  However, the seeds of complication will begin to be planted....

The lections may be found here.

Friday, August 17, 2012


I suppose I should mention some folks from the annals of Anglicanism, but it seems like so many of them are covered by the feast days and, really, it's too much fun to share obscure heroes of music and water, especially as I've discovered in recent weeks that many of the people who read The Coracle had never heard of Kahanamoku, Mishima, Manry, or Howlin' Wolf.  There is a whole rich parade of uncommon people who don't make it on our cultural radar sometimes just because...well, I don't exactly know why.  Maybe it's because they're Polynesian, Japanese, black, or from Cleveland, and those aren't the folks who come to the attention of most of the people with whom I associate these days.

My wife, who is of this writing still incarcerated in a post-surgical rehab clinic, and I were joking the other day about my springing her out of the place.  I told her, when she decided it was time to leave, to simply work the name "Steve McQueen" into a sentence, then I would liberate her from their tender mercies.  Perhaps by using a motorized wheelchair instead of McQueen's iconic motorcycle from The Great Escape.

While I wasn't surprised to discover that the 20-something physical therapist didn't get the reference, neither did a 40-something nurse or an 80-something relative.  So much for Hollywood's "King of Cool", eh?

At any rate, the Episcopal Church's King of Cool, as far as I'm concerned, is a 19th century priest named William Augustus Muelenberg [1796-1877].  Among other achievements, he founded what's now St. Luke's/Roosevelt Hospital, the Fresh Air Fund, one of the first pension funds, a couple of religious orders, pioneered new ways to use flowers and colors to enhance liturgical presentation, allowed people to sit in any pew they wished [as opposed to those that families had purchased for their own usage], and generally made more sense than any other cleric of his time. Naturally, he was never a bishop.

Oh, and he founded the Church of the Holy Communion in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan. The congregation could no longer support the parish as of the 1980's, so it was sold by the Diocese of New York.  It then became the rather notorious Limelight nightclub and is now, I'm told, a mini-mall.  God help us.  So, in a way, Muhlenberg may also be credited with helping to create the now-infamous nightclub scene of thirty years ago.  Not a bad legacy, really.

Here's a photo of the Episcopal Church's King of Cool and, by extension, nightclub progenitor:

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Thursday's Prayer

Lord, be with us this day,
Within us to purify us;
Above us to draw us up;
Beneath us to sustain us;
Before us to lead us;
Behind us to restrain us;
Around us to protect us.
         - St. Patrick, [Fifth Century]

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

And I Was Considering Using Them To Insure My Truck

Yeah, about that, Progressive.  Never mind. 

This is worth some of your reading time, as this is how people really speak truth to power.

At the trial, the guy who killed my sister was defended by Progressive’s legal team.
If you are insured by Progressive, and they owe you money, they will defend your killer in court in order to not pay you your policy.

In considering David vs. Goliath, when it comes to the Internet [or a slingshot wielded by a clever shepherd], always bet on David.

[Neither of these guys is an English major, so be prepared for some spelling/grammatical errors.]

In The 21st Century, This Is Considered "Brave"

Desmond Tutu calls for axing 'Stars Earn Stripes'

Let's think about this one a sec, shall we?  We live in the eleventh year of the Global War on Terror, American troops are still placed all over the Middle East, and are getting killed every day [the media got bored with the weekly "death count" after Bush left office], and despite promises made by a tenth Nobel Peace Prize laureate [mention of whom is conspicuously absent from this story], Guantanamo Bay is still open, and this brave collection of peace advocates decide that what is worth their attention is a summer reality show on the 4th ranked network on US television.

Wow, they're really speaking the truth to power now, aren't they?

If I didn't know Tutu [he's a former teacher of mine], I would think he was in the employ of an NBC public relations or advertising firm, as all he did was bring attention to a TV show of limited interest.

This is the danger when secular politics trumps moral theology.  The Episcopal/Anglican Church is invested in the current US president to the point that they cannot criticize him in the least. So, to slake their reason for being, they attack a chimera.

Just so you know, in my world, my colleagues refer to this kind of press release as "courageous".

A real mortal problem is the increasing usage of drones in combat, devices that are notoriously deadly to innocent by-standers.  Among non-combatants in the Arab world, US military drones are known, in English, as "random death machines".  Nice, huh?  That might a good name for a TV show, now that I think about it.  Then, maybe, it would be worth the attention of these luminaries.

Gee, No Kidding. You Should Ask Them Their Opinion About Christianity.

Numerous surveys have found that professors, especially those in some disciplines, are to the left of the general public. But those same -- and other -- surveys have rarely found evidence that left-leaning academics discriminate on the basis of politics. So to many academics, the question of ideological bias is not a big deal. Investment bankers may lean to the right, but that doesn't mean they don't provide good service (or as best the economy will permit) to clients of all political stripes, the argument goes.

And professors should be assumed to have the same professionalism.

A new study, however, challenges that assumption --

Wait, What?

Social Security Administration To Purchase 174 Thousand Rounds Of Hollow Point Bullets

Oh, this just gets better: National Weather Service “ammunition” solicitation triggers confusion

It's okay, it's just a "clerical error".  Nothing to see here, folks.  Move along.  These aren't the droids you're looking for.

I Really Picked The Wrong Profession

Hermosa Beach meter maids making nearly $100K?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tuesday's Quotation

"The man who really prays never attempts to justify himself. In true prayer, he knows that he cannot do so." - Karl Barth (1886-1968)

Monday, August 13, 2012

This Week's Feast Days

August 13:

Jeremy Taylor [1613-1667] -  In the years between 1633 and the ascendancy of the Puritans in 1645, Taylor was a Fellow of two Cambridge colleges and chaplain to Archbishop Laud and to King Charles. Under Puritan rule, he was imprisoned three times, and forced into retirement as a family chaplain in Wales. After the Restoration, in 1661, he became Bishop of Down and Connor in Ireland.

Taylor wrote many works of theology, but they can be best summarized by this quotation he once offered to one of his students: "A religion without mystery must be a religion without God."

O God, whose days are without end, and whose mercies cannot be numbered: Make us, like your servant Jeremy Taylor, deeply aware of the shortness and uncertainty of human life; and let your Holy Spirit lead us in holiness and righteousness all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

August 14:

Jonathan Myrick Daniels [1939-1965] - Daniels was a seminarian at Episcopal Theological School [now known as Episcopal Divinity School] in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  More of his compelling story may be read here, including links to more sources.  Suffice it to say, he went to Selma, Alabama to witness for civil rights and was martyred by government authority.  It's an old story, isn't it?

The good that came from his martyrdom is that the Episcopal Church did have a renewed sense of mission to the marginalized.  What is often missed is that Daniel's is a story of moral and physical courage, without which no social change may be engaged.  Too many of our contemporary leaders wish to question authority, but not in a way that really endangers them or their way of life.

O God of justice and compassion, you put down the proud and mighty from their place, and lift up the poor and the afflicted: we give you thanks for your faithful witness Jonathan Myrick Daniels, who, in the midst of injustice and violence, risked and gave his life for another; and we pray that we, following his example, may make no peace with oppression; through Jesus Christ the just one, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

August 15:
Feast of St. Mary the Virgin [formerly known as The Feast of the Assumption], of which more will be offered on the day itself.

August 18:

William Porcher Dubose [1836-1918] - One of the Episcopal Church's premier theologians from the latter portion of the 19th century.  If you haven't heard of him, it's because Yankee difficulty with the Confederate States of America, the army of which Dubose served as a chaplain during the War Between The States, prevents him from being too dramatically acknowledged lest his early service distract from the preferred historical narrative of our tradition.

However, some of his books are still around.  As is a well-received biography.

Even his Collect is , as my Scottish grandmother would say, a little "tupenny/ha'penny".

Almighty God, you gave to your servant William Porcher DuBose special gifts of grace to understand the Scriptures and to teach the truth as it is in Christ Jesus: Grant that by this teaching we may know you, the one true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The 11th Sunday After Pentecost

The last chapter in our summer saga of King David; this week he lets down the whole team with misplaced sentiment.  Also, Jesus is just too dang common to be the vehicle of divine revelation.  After all, he's just one of us.

The lections are here.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Duke Kahanamoku

In keeping with the month and its aquatic nature, this week features one of the lesser known American Olympic athletes, but one who has had a massive influence on American culture and sport more than any other Olympian.

Duke Kahanamoku competed in the 1912 Olympics, winning a gold medal in swimming [Yes, just "swimming" and not butterfly, freestyle, breaststroke, etc.  Swimming competitions weren't as rich and various as they are today]; he came back to the Olympics eight years later and, at the age of 30, won his second gold medal.

Chiefly, though, he is recognized as the father of surfing and, as such, is featured as a statue in Huntington Beach, California [see above] and a mural in Ocean City, New Jersey [see below].  That's really all that matters to me, but much more can be read about The Duke here, here, and here.  The story of his rescue of sailors from a sinking boat is worth reading, as it explains why California lifeguards to this day use surfboards as one of their rescue tools. [A practice that's beginning to take hold in the eastern USA, too.]  It also represents the qualities of self-sacrifice and compassion for which Duke was known and which informed traditional, pre-commercialized surfing, as his nature and character offer what's best about the very odd sport and spirituality of surfing.

[You can find the menu from one of the many restaurants that bear his name here.  I just thought I'd mention it as I'm having a craving for some huli chicken.]

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Not Entirely Sure Why, But This Made Me Kinda Sad

World’s Oldest Shipping Company Closes Amid Industry Decline

Thursday's Prayer

Come I this day to the Father,
Come I this day to the Son,
Come I to the Holy Spirit powerful;
Come I this day with God,
Come I this day with Christ,
Come I with the Spirit of kindly balm.

God, and Spirit, and Jesus,
From the crown of my head
To the soles of my feet;
Come I with my reputation,
Come I with my testimony,
Come I to you, Jesu;
Jesu, shelter me.

- ancient Celtic prayer of unknown origin

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Tuesday's Quotation

Life together under the Word will remain sound and healthy only where it does not form itself into a movement, an order, a society... but rather where it understands itself as being a part of the one, holy, catholic, Christian Church, where it shares actively and passively in the sufferings and struggles of the whole Church. Every principle of selection, every separation connected with it that is not necessitated quite objectively by common work, local conditions, or family connections is of the greatest danger to a Christian community. When the way of intellectual or spiritual selection is taken, the human element always insinuates itself and robs the fellowship of its spiritual power and its effectiveness for the Church, and drives it into sectarianism.
 Dietrich Bonhoeffer [1906-1945), from Life Together [1954].

Monday, August 6, 2012

This Week's Feast Days

August 7:

John Mason Neale [1818-1866] - Neale founded the Sisterhood of St. Margaret, an early convent of nursing nuns in the Anglican [Episcopal] Communion, specifically of and for the Church of England.  However, his greatest contribution was as a composer of hymns, of which this is but a partial list:

A great and mighty wonder
All glory, laud and honor
Alleluia, song of gladness
Blessed city, heavenly Salem
Blessed feasts of blessed martyrs
Brief life is here our portion
Christ is made the sure foundation
Christian, dost thou see them
Come, Holy Ghost, with God the Son
Come, ye faithful, raise the strain
Creator of the stars of night
Draw nigh and take the Body of the Lord
For thee, O dear, dear country
Jerusalem the golden
Jesus, Name all names above
Let us now our voices raise
Light's abode, celestial Salem
Now that the daylight fills the sky
O blest Creator of the light
O God, creation's secret force
O God of truth, O Lord of might,
O sons and daughters, let us sing
O Trinity of blessed light
O what their joy and their glory must be
O wondrous type! O vision fair
Of the Father's love begotten
Sing, my tongue, the glorious battle
Stars of the morning, so gloriously bright
The day is past and over
The day of resurrection
Those eternal bowers
Thou hallowed chosen morn of praise
To thee before the close of day 

Grant, O God, that in all time of our testing we may know your presence and obey your will; that, following the example of your servant John Mason Neale, we may with integrity and courage accomplish what you give us to do, and endure what you give us to bear; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

August 8:

Dominic [1170-1221], the founder of the Dominican Order of monks and nuns, originally established as a religious community based on the vow of poverty and the exercise of the intellect, and officially known as the Order of Preachers.  Three times he was offered the post of bishop, and turned down each in order to continue a life that was simple and without the opulence that had become associated with episcopal authority.

O God of the prophets, you opened the eyes of your servant Dominic to perceive a famine of hearing the word of the Lord, and moved him, and those he drew about him, to satisfy that hunger with sound preaching and fervent devotion: Make your church, dear Lord, in this and every age, attentive to the hungers of the world, and quick to respond in love to those who are perishing; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

August 10:

Laurence [?- 258] was one of the seven deacons of the congregation at Rome, those who were in charge of administering the church budget, especially for the care of the poor. In 257, Emperor Valerian began a persecution aimed mostly at the clergy and the laity of the upper classes, the goal of which was the seizure of church property and elimination of Christian "meetings".  Pope Sixtus II and most of the clergy were summarily executed.

The Prefect of Rome, knowing that Laurence was the principal financial officer, promised to set him free if he would surrender the wealth of the Church. Laurence agreed, but said that it would take him three days to gather it. During those three days, he placed all the money at his disposal in the hands of stewards, and then assembled the sick, the aged, the poor, and the widows and orphans, presented them to the prefect, and said, "These are the treasures of the Church."

This was not well-received by Roman authority and Laurence was martyred with creative brutality.

Almighty God, you called your deacon Laurence to serve you with deeds of love, and gave him the crown of martyrdom; Grant that we, following his example, may fulfill your commandments by defending and supporting the poor, and by loving you with all our hearts; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

August 11:

Clare of Assisi [1194-1253] was the sister of St. Francis and, with him, founded of the distaff portion of the Society of St. Francis, or Franciscans.  Franciscan nuns are sometimes referred to as the "Poor Clares" due to their history of living in extreme poverty, never sleeping in beds, eating only donated food, and eschewing from the consumption of meat.

O God, whose blessed Son became poor that we through his poverty might be rich: Deliver us from an inordinate love of this world, that we, inspired by the devotion of your servant Clare, may serve you with singleness of heart, and attain to the riches of the age to come; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Only If You're Intolerant

The gold medalist is a teenager of deep faith and gratitude -- and that can be a little unnerving

Really? To whom is it unnerving? And why?

Please, writers from 'zines like Salon and those who internally digest them, just come out of your closet and admit you want all people of faith to shut up and go away. Let's be honest about this quiet bigotry now. This attitude has already gelded Protestant leaders. They keep trying to make you and yours happy and have just about made mainstream Protestantism irrelevant, all because they think that's what you want.  But you and me, we know the truth, don't we? You're not going to reward Protestant leaders for their efforts, are you?  It's time to battle this out honestly in what William Blake called "mental fight". I know you want us silent, so that means it's time to shout.

Also, I'd like to add that I find it a little discomfiting that a white writer for Salon, a 'zine with an overwhelmingly white readership, would wish to suppress a genuine expression of African-American  Christianity.  It's almost as if you're saying that you want not only people of faith, but people of color, to shut up and go away.  Ew.

Behind The Pieties

After A Long Fight, Bishop Seabury Church Holds Last Service

I know their politics weren't mine, but they were an active parish and it seems that diocesan leadership could have saved this relationship. Now, over 300 communicants have left the diocese.

It's been an odd week, what with the discarding of this congregation, a priest who is also a bishop's spouse celebrating the sacrament in my parish without my knowledge or consent, and no bishop at all even phoning my wife after her surgery.

 The gyre is widening.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Friday, August 3, 2012


We all know this fellow.  Maybe because it's summer, and my mind, despite the distractions of a very busy parish season, plus my wife's surgery this week, is filled with the delights of the waterman's pursuits, but I was thinking about Jacques the other day.  Maybe it was because I couldn't get that funky taste out of my scuba regulator, who knows?

Jacques Cousteau was not just the host of the very, very best National Geographic specials EVER [I had them all on videotape and then DVD; I'm going to get them all on digital as soon as they're available] but he was the developer of the underwater portable breathing device, in particular the bulbous gadget attached to the mouthpiece of a scuba ensemble.  It was marketed with the name "aqua lung", which is what they were still called when I first donned one for my federal uncle back in the 1970's.  The bundle he made from that enabled him to leave the French Navy and lease his famous ship Calypso, in order to study most directly the wonders of the oceans.

In addition to his underwater work, he also wrote some bestsellers, including my fave The Silent World, and filmed some theatrical documentaries, two of which won Academy Awards, including World Without Sun, which was one of the two films I saw while on a seaside vacation [the other was The Endless Summer] that either made my life or ruined it, depending on whom you ask. 

More of Cousteau may be found here.  You can also get a red knit cap at that site, just like the ones worn by Cousteau and his divers.  [Yes, I have one.]

I would be remiss not also to mention the fellow who formed my daydreams of scuba diving before I even heard of Cousteau.  He was fictional, but no less real to those of us in the Midwest: Mike Nelson of the TV show Sea Hunt.  The boys of my neighborhood used to pull our t-shirts partially over our heads, with our faces staring our the head hole, and would pretend to "swim" about our yards like Mike and company.  We would also make the gurgling stomach noise that Nelson's regulator always made, too.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Clearly, The Time Has Come For Ukulele Control

Man attacks roommate with ukulele, police say

Thursday's Prayer

O Master and God, Father almighty, Lord, and only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, and Holy Spirit, one divinity and power, have mercy on me a sinner, and save me, your unworthy servant, in any way you know; for you are blessed unto the ages of ages. Amen.
- by St. Mardarios

[Early Christian prayer tended towards the penitent petition.  As such, the prayers tend to be a little off-putting to 21st century Western Christians.]

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A Question You Would Not Have To Ask If You Ever Had My Dad As Your Math Teacher

Is Algebra Necessary?

Yeah, the problem with American education is that there's too much Math. Please.

(Amanda and I agree that my father was the best teacher we ever had; because of him she does billing for a corporation, I do Algebra problems in the evening like others do crosswords.)

Clearly, The Time Has Come For Burrito Control

Minnesota man charged with burrito assault

The Spirit And Promotion Of International Brotherhood That Is The Olympics

Lebanon judo team refuse to train alongside Israel

Ah, The Secular Paradise: No Sin, No Judgement, No Outcasts. Oh, Wait A Minute....

"Back to the new war against obesity: It is not difficult to predict the trajectory which this project will follow. Very probably it will replicate, step by step, the war against tobacco. Once again, the basic rationale is the prevention of illness. Heart disease is the illness most closely associated with obesity—not as scary as lung cancer, but scary enough. The scientific validation of the project is clear—obesity is unhealthy. The same interests that supported the anti-smoking crusaders can be mobilized once again—doctors who jump on the prevention bandwagon when their ability to cure is often limited, researchers in need of funding, bureaucrats looking for new behaviors to regulate, activists in search of employment opportunities, and of course, legions of tort lawyers, salivating at the prospect of gargantuan settlements from the food and drinks industry. Pizza Hut and Pepsi Cola may take the place of Philip Morris as public enemies (and defendants in class-action lawsuits). The same arguments will serve to counter libertarian scruples—social costs and innocent bystanders. Children will again be featured in the litany of victims. (Michelle Obama understandably likes to preach in kindergartens and elementary schools.) Finally, class is again involved here: Upper income and higher education is associated with virtuous slimness, while all these fat working-class types waddle from Burger King to the unemployment lines. Just as the Victorian bourgeoisie tried to convert the poor slobs to its table of virtues (alcohol of course was then the most targeted vice), so the new bourgeoisie bombards the lower classes with its temperance crusade. (One might speak of the eternal return of the Salvation Army—George Bernard Shaw’s Major Barbara would today be reincarnated as a coach with Weight Watchers)...

Does this have anything to do with religion? I think it does. The quest of immortality is one of the most ancient religious themes. The health cult, with its mirage of endless youth if not immortality, is a quasi-religion. Its dogma is the obligation to live healthily. Like all religions, the health cult has a catalogue of virtues and a catalogue of vices, with rituals to affirm the former and ostracize the latter. There is also an equivalent of the Saudi Arabian police force dedicated to “the promotion of virtue and the suppression of vice”—an army of therapists, coaches, educators, advice columnists, dieticians, and other moral entrepreneurs.

Hmmm, "moral entrepreneurs".  Yes, that's a good one.

Maybe The Best Twitter Account Ever

A "mash-up" of the writings of philosopher Soren Kierkegaard and those of...Kim Kardashian.

The Building Conflict Between 'Progressives' And The Faithful

It may seem strange that anyone could look around the pornography-saturated, fertility-challenged, family-breakdown-plagued West and see a society menaced by a repressive puritanism. But it’s clear that this perspective is widely and sincerely held.

It would be refreshing, though, if it were expressed honestly, without the “of course we respect religious freedom” facade.

If you want to fine Catholic hospitals for following Catholic teaching, or prevent Jewish parents from circumcising their sons, or ban Chick-fil-A in Boston, then don’t tell religious people that you respect our freedoms. Say what you really think: that the exercise of our religion threatens all that’s good and decent, and that you’re going to use the levers of power to bend us to your will.

There, didn’t that feel better? Now we can get on with the fight.