Monday, September 30, 2013

Remember This, Current And Former Students

Why Tough Teachers Get Good Results

Bruce Lee, Cha-Cha Instructor

Bruce Lee dancing Cha-cha-cha-
And thus ends the brief experiment with adverts.  I've reconsidered after capricious rules were presented by Google in a seemingly unending cascade; that, plus anyone may object to the content of an ad at any time and have them pulled until I "appeal" Google's decision.  Yeah.  After having twice to appeal a Google decision to withhold ads from the site, for reasons that they will not reveal, I realized why the corporation and our government get along so well.

So, back to normal.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

This Week's Feast Days

October 1: St. Remi [or Remigius; 438-530]

Remi was the Bishop of Reims in France beginning at the age of 22.  Yes, that's right.  Remarkable that in contemporary times we draw out the process of electing a bishop through multiple meetings, video presentations, and "penetrating" questions.  As we have seen in our Monday lesser feasts, early Christian bishops were selected according to the regard of the faithful; they are either very young or, for the times, rather elderly when appointed, and yet are able to lead and inspire with great power.

Maybe we should go back to the old method.

Remi was one such bishop, who was able for 70 years to present a mighty witness in what is now France.  In fact, the devoted style of Christianity that is practiced by the French [including Acadians, Canucks, Cajuns, etc.] began when Remi  baptised King Clovis [as seen to the left], thus converting an entire and sizable portion of Europe from a variety of pagan beliefs.

More of him may be read here.

O God, by the teaching of your faithful servant and bishop Remigius you turned the nation of the Franks from vain idolatry to the worship of you, the true and living God, in the fullness of the catholic faith: Grant that we who glory in the name of Christian may show forth our faith in worthy deeds; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

October 4: St. Francis of Assisi [1182-1226]

Certainly, one of the best known of all the medieval saints, so much so that there are at least a dozen films made of his life, countless publications, plus one Marvel comic book. The monastic order that he established, the Society of St. Francis, or SSF, is not only still in existence but there is still a very active chapter that is part of the Episcopal Church.

It would be difficult to distill his life into a few paragraphs, not to mention a disservice to his considerable story, so I'll simply make reference to a few sites to be found at the links here, here, and here.  Lay people who are interested in having more routine spiritual direction in their lives may join the Third Order of the SSF, which enables those who are in the world to have the support of a prayerful community and the occasional opportunity for retreat and meditation as supported by a world-wide network of like-minded people.

Most high, omnipotent, good Lord, grant your people grace to renounce gladly the vanities of this world; that, following the way of blessed Francis, we may for love of you delight in your whole creation with perfectness of joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

And Finally, I Used To Play Bass For The Hanging Cheese

My New Favourite Supermarket Section

Like I Said, Violence In Churches Is Becoming More And More Common

Pastor shot, killed during church service

The 11 O'Clock Report

First Story:
(1) Contrary to some initial news reports, Alexis did not use an AR-15 assault rifle. Rather, he used a shotgun, which he brought with him, and a pistol he appears to have taken from an armed guard at the Navy Yard. So, arguments about banning “military-style assault rifles” don’t fit this particular — still tragic — narrative. 

(2) Alexis had a Secret security clearance. More than a simple criminal background check, the procedure requires a few months to a year of investigation. So, the usual arguments about basic background checks for gun ownership preventing tragedies of this sort don’t fit this narrative either. 

So, what does fit? What changes to law and policy can we talk about in the aftermath of this week’s tragedy?

Second Story, something one won't find in any American media:
SAS hero of the mall massacre: Off-duty soldier with a handgun saved 100 lives as terrorists ran amok 

Third Story, to be filed under "Gee, no kidding":
Bloomberg News - Turns Out Obamacare Is Going to Limit Your Choices

Fourth Story: The folks we're currently supporting in Syria removing a cross from a Christian church because it "offends" them.

Would You Like To Hear F. Scott Fitzgerald Read Shakespeare? Of Course You Would.

F. Scott Fitzgerald Reads Shakespeare

Anger In Higher Education

The problem is that the feminist anger of the 1960s and 1970s s been institutionalized on our campus, where it seems impervious to change. Consider what your son faces if he enters a college in North America, Australia, or most of Europe. In the first week or two, he is required to attend a program on date rape, but nothing on date communication. By October, he will encounter Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but nothing about a "prostate cancer awareness month," though the incidence and deaths from the two diseases are similar. If your son becomes involved in student activities, he has access to significant student funds for women's centers and speakers on women's issues, but not for men's centers or speakers on men's issues. 

If your son is heterosexual, he may express interest in a woman who is taking a women's studies course or degree, and see her researching papers on how the patriarchy consists of men who made laws to benefit men at the expense of women. He may learn she is on a scholarship to encourage women in engineering, math or the other STEM professions; if he's observant, he'll note that despite few men majoring in the social sciences, he hasn't run across even a single man with a scholarship designed to encourage men to enter the social sciences. The low percentage of women in STEM fields is depicted as very troubling, but the fact that males account for only 43% of all college students is not.

Friday, September 27, 2013

First They Removed The Fire Pits, Now This

Southern California beaches aren't as much fun as they used to be:

City officials in San Diego said the annual July 4 marshmallow fight will no longer be allowed in the Ocean Beach neighborhood.

Not Just In Science, But Also Theology

No matter what subject they touched -- the Big Bang, the origin of life, the intersection of ideology and science -- every author had the same adolescent tone of smug superiority to go along with their dull absence of style and their one-dimensional shallowness of thought. The magazine seems to exert a heavy editorial hand that banishes seriousness of thought; or that affirms a frivolous certainty.

To put it another way, their minds are entirely lacking in creative surprisal, so perhaps the metaphysic they embrace is just a massive projection of their own experience and limitations.

Warning: Some adult language may be found in the body of the article.

One May Have Something To Do With The Other

Man with completely blue skin dies at 62

Friday's Church: Harajuku Protestant Church, Japan

The "waves" in the ceiling cause sound to echo for two brief seconds, which both enables the congregation to hear without extraordinary amplification and lends a natural reverb to chant.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Archaeological News [Sorta]

Lost cities discovered in the Amazon basin:
The combination of land cleared of its rainforest for grazing and satellite survey have revealed a sophisticated pre-Columbian monument-building society in the upper Amazon Basin on the east side of the Andes. This hitherto unknown people constructed earthworks of precise geometric plan connected by straight orthogonal roads. Introducing us to this new civilisation, the authors...also suggest that we have so far seen no more than a tenth of it.

Hang on, this means that the land was cleared not just during recent decades, but in ancient times as well.  This means, too, that the rain forest is far more durable than is generally acknowledged.

Thursday's Biblilcal Recipe: Pistachio-Crusted Sunfish

  • 2 cups pistachios (or almonds), finely chopped
  • 3 Tbsp. zaatar
  • 8 nice-sized sunfish
  • 4 eggs, well beaten
  • 1 stick butter, melted, or ½ cup sunflower oil

  • Chop the nuts finely just short of a powder. (You can use a blender or a mini-food processor or do it the old-fashioned way, with a mallet in a sieved cloth). Place the nuts in a large bowl and quickly mix in the zaatar. Wash the fish in cold water; then dip them into the beaten eggs. Sprinkle the nut and zaatar mixture onto one side of the fish; then press it in to provide an ample coating. Fry the fish in melted butter or sunflower oil at a very high temperature, turning frequently so that they do not burn.
    Yield: 4 normal servings

    Sunday, September 22, 2013

    This, Too, Is Becoming More And More Common

    The attack occurred as worshipers left the All Saints Church in the old quarter of the regional capital, Peshawar, after a service on Sunday morning. Up to 600 worshipers had attended the service and were leaving to receive free food being distributed on the lawn outside when two explosions ripped through the crowd.

    Dozens of people were killed and more than 100 wounded, said Akhtar Ali Shah, the home secretary of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province.

    This Week's Feast Days

    September 25: Sergius of Moscow [1314-1392]

    While Western Christians have little knowledge of the abbot/farmer, he is the patron saint of Moscow and is much revered in the Russian Orthodox Church.  Like many of the "old-time" saints, he has a feast day on our calendar inherited from before our church's 16th Century split from the Church of Rome.

    Sergius' power over Christian imagination is due not to his ferocity, self-humiliation, or academic degrees; he was known for his personality and humility, even to the extent of refusing to be named Metropolitan [that is, archbishop] of Moscow as he would have to wear an icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary suspended by, and here's the point of controversy for Sergius, gold chains.

    As he noted at the time:

    "From my youth up, I have never possessed or worn gold, and how now can I adorn myself in my old age?"

    Much more of him may be found at the link that marks the quotation.

    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 Sergius of Moscow, 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.

    September 26: Lancelot Andrewes [1555-1626]

    Portrait of Andrewes
    Once upon a time, bishops were true scholars with degrees in subject areas of which people outside of the church had actually heard.  Andrewes was one such bishop/scholar, and the one who has had more influence over our understanding of the Bible than anyone else in the Western Church.  Think I exaggerate?  Andrewes was a polyglot who was fluent in 21 languages.  His ability in English was so sublime that, had it not been for his particular, and rather staggering achievement, he would have been remembered as one of the church's great poets.  This is high praise, as he was a contemporary of Christopher Marlow, Ben Jonson, and, oh, yes, William Shakespeare.

    With his linguistic talent, artful ability to write clearly, and political savvy, Andrewes was the ideal man on whom to call to lead a large collection of scholars charged with a singular responsibly.  Namely, translate the entire Holy Bible into a lucid and linguistically accurate English.  His patron for this was King James I of England [and, as I learned in school in gloomy Edinburgh, James VI of Scotland].

    The finished product is the King James Version of the Holy Bible, or simply the KJV.

    More of Bishop Andrewes may be found here.  More of the KJV and its considerable influence may be found anywhere Bibles are sold, discussed, or, in particular, read aloud.

    Lord and Father, our King and God, by your grace the Church was enriched by the great learning and eloquent preaching of you servant Lancelot Andrewes, but even more by his example of biblical and liturgical prayer: Conform our lives, like his, to the image of Christ, that our hearts may love you, our minds serve you, and our lips proclaim the greatness of your mercy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

    Saturday, September 21, 2013

    Hey, What's Our Senator Up To?

    Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said that it would be morally justifiable for Congress to pass a continuing resolution that forces Americans to buy health care plans covering abortion-inducing drugs even if doing so violates their religious beliefs.

    Congress is now a moral agency and Catholicism and Islam aren't.

    And Now, The Obligatory Granddaughter Photo

    "Who are you lookin' at, huh?"

    We're Going To See More And More Of This

    Worshippers Robbed During Holyoke Church Service

    God's Grandeur

    Inlet Carved Across Fire Island by Sandy Flushes New Life Into Great South Bay

    It’s the modernist’s lament. Everyone is so damned happy for the silliest of reasons. If only they knew how miserable they should be, everything would be so much better.

    There is no morality in art. There is morality in religion; there are philosophical objectives embedded in politics. The two are intertwined in a society and reflected in its art. When you sever art from its cultural moorings and make “newness” the overriding criterion by which the merits of a work are judged, then anything is possible. This results in crap.

    Not Even A Govt Can Quell The Spiritual Impulse

    Staffers at State Department headquarters in Washington, D.C. held their own private ceremony Wednesday to commemorate the first anniversary of the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya after finding out the agency would not be organizing a formal, official memorial service.

    Archaeological News

    Florida boy, 7, finds ancient canoe while scuba diving

    A Difficult Translation From A Shawnee Poem [On The Occasion Of Today's Warrior Dash]

    The day will come when the pack will not wait
         And you will not be able to run with them
    The body will age but the spirit still yearn

    But today is not that day
    Today you will run and you will climb
         You will crawl through thicket and mud
               As you did when you were young
         You will leap again through fire

    The pack will climb
        And if halted, will break the obstacle

    The pack will leap
        And if held, will rend nature itself

    We will not be burned by the fire
         We will burn hotter than the fire

    And when the pack ends its journey
         You will be with them
    The pack will know and will see
          Will power wrapped in scar tissue

    So come then, sons and daughters of war hounds
         Come hither and taste blood.

    Friday, September 20, 2013

    For more than 50 years now, we in the United States have been gradually reducing children’s opportunities to play, and the same is true in many other countries. In his book Children at Play: An American History (2007), Howard Chudacoff refers to the first half of the 20th century as the ‘golden age’ of children’s free play. By about 1900, the need for child labour had declined, so children had a good deal of free time. But then, beginning around 1960 or a little before, adults began chipping away at that freedom by increasing the time that children had to spend at schoolwork and, even more significantly, by reducing children’s freedom to play on their own, even when they were out of school and not doing homework. Adult-directed sports for children began to replace ‘pickup’ games; adult-directed classes out of school began to replace hobbies; and parents’ fears led them, ever more, to forbid children from going out to play with other kids, away from home, unsupervised. There are lots of reasons for these changes but the effect, over the decades, has been a continuous and ultimately dramatic decline in children’s opportunities to play and explore in their own chosen ways. 

    Over the same decades that children’s play has been declining, childhood mental disorders have been increasing.
    A member of our extended community will be recovering from surgery during a couple of weeks in October and is looking for a wheelchair to use during that time. If anyone should have such an apparatus and is willing to lend it, please give the rector a call.

    Friday's Church: Santa Maria Maggiore, Bergamo, Italy

    Thursday, September 19, 2013

    Thursday's Biblical Recipe: Lentil Stew

    • 1/2 cup fresh chopped cilantro (coriander), divided
    • 3 carrots
    • 3 celery stalks, including leaves
    • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 large onion, diced
    • 1 clove garlic, crushed
    • 2 cups dry red lentils
    • 1/4 cup pearl barley
    • 2 qts. vegetable or chicken stock
    • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
    • 1 tsp hyssop or parsley
    • 1/2 tsp sumac (optional)
    • 1 bay leaf
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    Servings: 6
  • Roughly chop the cilantro. Scrub the carrots, then cut them into chunks (do not peel). Cut celery into chunks, including leaves. Reserve.
  • In a medium sized soup pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add diced onion and saute till translucent.
  • Add garlic, carrot chunks, and celery. Continue to saute till onion turns golden and ingredients begin to caramelize. Add red lentils and barley to the pot, stir. Cover mixture with 2 qts. of broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. Add 1/4 cup of the fresh cilantro to the pot along with the cumin, hyssop or parsley, sumac (optional) and bay leaf; stir.
  • Cover the pot and let the stew simmer slowly for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring every 30 minutes, until barley is tender and the stew is thickened.
  • At the end of cooking, season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish bowls of stew with the remaining fresh cilantro. Serve as a one pot meal or with a side of sliced bread.
  • Tuesday, September 17, 2013

    Tuesday's Wave

    “I would rather feel compassion than know the meaning of it." - St. Thomas Aquinas

    Monday, September 16, 2013

    Remember to click on the advert below.  You don't have to buy anything, just click on it and the parish will earn a donation.  Thus far, we've earned $4.12, minus the 28% that goes to gov. Malloy.

    Princeton University, The Arch

    Sunday, September 15, 2013

    Relax, Let The Professionals Handle The Guns

    Unarmed man, looking for help after wreck, shot by police 


    Cops shoot two bystanders on Broadway

    This Week's Feast Days

    September 17: Hildegard of Bingen [1098-1179]

    Hildegard of Bingen, from the Rupertsberger Codex  One of the most significant women in the history of Medieval Christianity and certainly deserving of a date on the feast calendar [even if her inclusion did appease one of the many political sub-divisions in the Episcopal Church].  This quotation sums up her theology rather nicely:

    "Listen: there was once a king sitting on his throne. Around him stood great and wonderfully beautiful columns ornamented with ivory, bearing the banners of the king with great honor. Then it pleased the king to raise a small feather from the ground, and he commanded it to fly. The feather flew, not because of anything in itself but because the air bore it along. Thus am I, a feather on the breath of God."

    While she is primarily recognized for her visions, she was also one of the most educated women of her time and contributed mightily to the life of the mind on which Anglican/Episcopal Christianity is centered.

    More of her may be read here.

    God of all times and seasons: Give us grace that we, after the example of your servant Hildegard, may both know and make known the joy and jubilation of being part of your creation, and show forth your glory not only with our lips but in our lives; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

    September 18: Edward Bouverie Pusey [1800-1882]

    There was quite a dispute within the Church of England in the early 19th century.  To make a long, involved story terribly short, the "high church" elements that had been brutally eradicated some 300 years before were beginning to make a comeback, especially as many of the younger clergy found value in acts of obvious devotion.  These included, but are not limited to, anything to appears to a newcomer to our own parish as "catholic" in nature. 

    This came to be called the Oxford Movement.  If you click on the link, you may read a brief history of the event written by my favorite writer.

    Since young clergy are often ignored, they needed some senior members of the Holy Orders to speak for them in the halls of power.  One of them was Pusey, who was, up to that point, a rather fussy, dusty professor of Hebrew.  Many were surprised to discover that, when facing a challenge, he was also a bit of a fire-eater.

    More of him and his compatriots may be found here.

    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 Edward Bouverie Pusey, 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.

    September 19: Theodore of Tarsus [602-690]

    It's hard to believe that what drove the first and hardest fissure into Christianity was a dispute over how to calculate the date of Easter, but that was the case.  This dispute festered for some centuries until The Great Schism between the Eastern and Western traditions was realized in 1054.  In its earliest rumblings, much of the dispute was made dormant by the sagacity of a monk who, through sheer happenstance, became the Archbishop of Canterbury.

    The Bishop of Rome was to appoint a new Archbishop, you see, but the candidate died from an illness contracted while travelling from England to Rome.  The Pope then chose an older candidate [65] from the hometown of St. Paul.  An unusual choice, many thought, but one that proved to be perfect.

    Much more of Theodore may be read of here.  Please do so, as it's a good story.

    Almighty God, you called your servant Theodore of Tarsus from Rome to the see of Canterbury, and gave him gifts of grace and wisdom to establish unity where there had been division, and order where there had been chaos: Create in your Church, by the operation of the Holy Spirit, such godly union and concord that it may proclaim, both by word and example, the Gospel of the Prince of Peace; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

    September 20: John Coleridge Patteson [1827-1871]

    A martyr, although in an indirect manner.  Nevertheless, through his sacrifice, Bishop Patteson helped to end the illegal slave trade in the Pacific islands.  More of his life and death may be read of directly here and less so here.

    Almighty God, you called your faithful servant John Coleridge Patteson and his companions to be witnesses and martyrs in the islands of Melanesia, and by their labors and sufferings raised up a people for your own possession: Pour out your Holy Spirit upon your Church in every land, that by the service and sacrifice of many, your holy Name may be glorified and your kingdom enlarged; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

    September 22: Philander Chase [1775-1852]

    Chase's story is rather typical for an Episcopal cleric of his generation, at least in terms of background and opportunity.  Like John Henry Hobart from last week's feast days, Chase's career crosses historical paths with my own.

    He was born in New Hampshire and educated at Dartmouth [Boo.  Go Princeton Tigers.]  He left the Congregational Church [yay] to become an Episcopalian and shortly afterwards read for Holy Orders.  His career, by all accounts, was peripatetic from that point forward, including starting the first Episcopal Church in New Orleans and serving as the rector of Christ Church in Hartford*.  [Christ Church in Hartford is currently the cathedral of our diocese.]

    While establishing a parish and school in Worthington, Ohio [my Dad's hometown], he was called to become the first bishop of Ohio [my home and sponsoring diocese at the beginning of my career].  Among other accomplishments, Chase founded Kenyon College [my niece's alma mater] and it's divinity school [which, if it's still in existence, moved to Rochester, NY sometime in the late 1970's or early 80's].

    Much more of him may be read here.

    Almighty God, whose Son Jesus Christ is the pioneer and perfecter of our faith: We give you heartfelt thanks for the pioneering spirit of your servant Philander Chase, and for his zeal in opening new frontiers for the ministry of your Church. Grant us grace to minister in Christ's name in every place, led by bold witnesses to the Gospel of the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

    [*An annoying footnote.  I once mentioned to a bishop that Chase should be placed on the feast calendar and that his nomination could be made by Connecticut, as he was once a rector in Hartford.  The bishop, who was against including any more "straight, white men" on the calendar responded, "No, he wasn't."  After I sent him all of the historical information about Chase's position in Hartford, including those taken from the archives of the diocese, he stopped talking to me.  My next job was in another diocese.  Ah, the church.  If we learn anything from the witness of Pusey above, it's that one may love the church more than it loves you.

    Anyway, I'm happy to say that Philander Chase is now on the calendar.  That's all that really matters.]

    Saturday, September 14, 2013

    Big Deal. We've Been Doing That At Our Church For Four Years Now

    Pet cemeteries will now accept human remains for burial alongside beloved family pets

    But They Won't Touch Even One Of Their 958 Administrators

    "Indiana University, which currently spends $215 million a year on health care, will shift 50 maintenance and custodial employees to an outside contractor that will hire them and will manage their hours. According to Indiana’s WRTV, the university is doing so to avoid paying for health insurance for the workers...."

    God Is Good

    New aquifers found in desert-dry region of Kenya

    A Quiet, Yet Seminal Moment In Human Achievement

    Voyager 1 becomes first human-made object to leave solar system

    This Shouldn't Have Made Me Laugh, But I Did Own One Of Those Things And, Yes, We Kept It In The Laundry Room

    Rather Than A Lawsuit, I'd Rather Have The Right To Deliver One Good Punch

    State Takes Baby for First 75 Days of the Baby’s Life, Because of Mother’s Use of Poppy Seed Dressing

    I have a concern, based on historcial events in our nation's culture, that the recent high-handedness of government officials, aided by an immense and contradictory body of laws, will eventually result in extra-legal violence.  The only positive aspect is that extra-legal violence sometimes serves as a corrective to authoritarian overzealousness.

    Friday, September 13, 2013

    Friday's Church: All Saints' Chapel, University of the South

    The University of the South, commonly called "Sewanee" after the town in Tennessee where it is located, is the premier Episcopal Church university in the United States and hosts, among other professional schools, St. Luke's School of Theology.  Remember now, this is merely a university chapel.

    Some more views:

    All Saints' Chapel, Sewanee

    Thursday, September 12, 2013

    Thursday's Biblical Recipe: Basai Badawi (Onions with Lentils, Nuts, and Fruit)


    4 large onions (Spanish onions are ideal) ½ cup red lentils, cooked salt and pepper to taste ¾ cup plain yogurt 2 Tbsp. dates, finely chopped 2 Tbsp. walnuts, chopped 1 Tbsp. raisins or sultanas 2 Tbsp. bread crumbs 1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped.

    Preheat oven to 350°F. Peel the onions (do not cut off the ends) and place them in a large pan of boiling water. Reduce the heat and let them simmer for 15–20 minutes, covered, until they are fairly tender. When they are ready, take them out and set aside to cool. Using a knife and fork, carefully remove the top of each onion and trim the base. Remove the center section of the onion, leaving a shell about ¾″ thick. In a bowl, mix together the lentils, salt, pepper, yogurt, dates, walnuts, raisins or sultanas, and bread crumbs. Fill the onions with this mixture. Keep any filling that remains and mix it with the chopped discarded onion centers. Place the filled onions in an oven-proof dish, spoon any remaining mixture around them, and cook for about 20 minutes. Garnish with parsley and serve with bulgur or “red” rice.

    It makes about 4 normal sized servings.

    Wednesday, September 11, 2013

    Something For Today

    I dislike running on the boardwalk; I always get blisters when I do, which is something that doesn't happen on the roads around Roxbury or on the gym's treadmill.  But, in a stray 36 hours, when I had already spent four hours in the water getting smashed into by large waves, and occasionally getting the better of them, I also wanted an hour to wring out my muscles by jogging the 2 and 1/2 miles of boards and back again.

    But something caught my eye this week, because it was unusual and unexpected.

    Along the ocean side of the boardwalk are benches; some face the ocean but most face the boardwalk itself.  I've sat on those benches through the decades, as a kid waiting with my Dad and sister while my mother spent time in one of the shops, while holding hands and eating ice cream cones with a teenage sweetheart, or when shaking the sand out of my wetsuit after a day in the surf.  Each bench has been sponsored by or for a person or family; their names are found on bronze plaques bolted to the center of the benches' backrests.  Some include the birth and death dates of the honoree, others carry quotations either from that person or meaningful to them.  Some are funny; some are touching.  They have been on the benches for decades now and I really don't notice them anymore.

    But as I ran by the Wonderland amusement pier, which marks the ocean end of the street on which I spent my childhood summers, I noticed red, white, and blue paper stars and glittery pinwheels taped to one of the benches across from where the bumper cars and shooting gallery used to be.

    It's rare in that fresh and near-constant ocean breeze for such fragile items to be found.  I stopped and discovered a plaque dedicated to one of the victims of the atrocity that is remembered today.  It is, as I have since discovered, one of four benches so dedicated and one woman, while a stranger to all four victims, has seized a particular sense of propriety with them and decorates these benches each year.  It is a remarkable gesture and a wonderfully touching witness.  The simplicity of the decorations speaks with greater resonance than the formalized gestures of some of our more cynical politicians or the media's use of "mourn porn" to sell their advertisers' merchandise.

    More of this woman and her story, and the stories of those remembered on the benches, may be found here: Ocean City's 9/11 Benches: 'It’s My Duty to See That People Notice'

    From Something I Copied Into A Notebook Some Nine Or So Years Ago

    Forgetfulness occurs when those who have been long inured to civilized order can no longer remember a time in which they had to wonder whether their crops would grow to maturity without being stolen or their children sold into slavery by a victorious foe.…

    They forget that in time of danger, in the face of the Enemy, they must trust and confide in each other, or perish.They forget, in short, that there has ever been a category of human experience called the Enemy. And that, before 9/11, was what had happened to us. The very concept of the Enemy had been banished from our moral and political vocabulary. An enemy was just a friend we hadn’t done enough for — yet.

    Or perhaps there had been a misunderstanding, or an oversight on our part — something that we could correct. And this means that that our first task is that we must try to grasp what the concept of the Enemy really means.The Enemy is someone who is willing to die in order to kill you. And while it is true that the Enemy always hates us for a reason — it is his reason, and not ours.

    Wednesday's Art: Stained Glass Astronaut

    A detail from the stained glass at Grace Episcopal Cathedral in San Francisco, which also includes in another window Albert Einstein and his famous equation.

    Tuesday, September 10, 2013

    Tuesday's Wave

    “I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.” - C.S. Lewis

    Sunday, September 8, 2013

    This Week's Feast Days

    September 10th: Alexander Crummell [1819-1898]

    Crummell was the founder of the Union of Black Episcopalians.  Shortly after being educated by the Episcopal Church of the United States he moved to the Church of England.  After being further educated by the C. of E., he moved to Liberia, where he hoped to become the bishop/president of a black Christian republic.  That didn't work out, so he then moved back to the United States, where he worked as a parish priest in the District of Columbia. 

    He left behind little written work; no scholarly articles of his are available, or even listed, online.  A half-dozen or so of his sermons are to be found, though.  The best known is probably "Common Sense in Common Schooling", based on Proverbs 9: 12.  If it appears to be more of a speech than a sermon, understand that was Crummell's style and was reflective of the standard of his age.

    At the request of the UBE and its supporters, Crummell was added to the calendar in 1994.

    Almighty and everlasting God, we thank you for your servant Alexander Crummell, whom you called to preach the Gospel to those who were far off and to those who were near. Raise up in this and every land evangelists and heralds of your kingdom, that your Church may proclaim the unsearchable riches of our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

    September 12: John Henry Hobart [1775-1830]

    Without too much debate, Hobart is considered by many as the greatest churchman of his generation.  Certainly, without his endeavors, neither I nor half of my family would have received the formal education that we have enjoyed.

    From the Diocese of Central New York's website:

    After the American Revolution and the Independence of the United States, the Episcopal Church, under public suspicion in many quarters because of its previous association with the British government, did very little for about twenty years. John Hobart was one of the men who changed this.
    John Henry Hobart was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 14 September 1775, the son of a ship's captain. He was educated at the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton University, ordained deacon in 1798 and priest in 1801. Called as assistant minister to Trinity Church, New York, in 1803, at age 36 he was elected assistant bishop of the diocese in 1811, becoming diocesan in 1816.
    To look at John Henry Hobart, you wouldn't have predicted greatness. Height always distinguishes, and he was notably short. Blessed with attractive blue eyes, he was nearsighted and forced to wear thick glasses. In an age of marmoreal gestures in the pulpit, he was melodramatic. At a time of dignified eloquence, he spoke rapidly, with emotion. When most men were reserved, even with their families, he was warm, whether with ambassadors or farmers, to the point of being thought odd.
    Most bishops were content if they bestirred themselves for episcopal acts a hundred miles from home. Hobart had the energy of ten men: horses dropped under his exertions and he thought nothing of a winter visitation of 2,000 miles in western New York or 4,000 at a more seasonal time.
    Early in his career he tackled publicly issues still dubious in the American mind: episcopacy and apostolic succession, arguably besting in print a redoubtable Presbyterian opponent.
    He founded two institutions: a college in Geneva (later Hobart College) and General Theological Seminary in New York City, breaking his health to get both off the ground.
    He not only looked after the Diocese of New York (46,000 square miles and virtual wilderness west and north of Albany) he served as rector of Trinity Parish, the wealthiest and most influential church in the country. Agreeing to oversee the diocese of Connecticut, since its high- and low-church party roils had prevented the election of a bishop, he covered its parishes more thoroughly than any bishop ever had. New Jersey, similarly bishopless, appealed to him, and he looked after it as well.
    He knew all the clergy in the Church generally and in his own diocese intimately. He was aware of their background, remembered their families, forgave their frailties, and appreciated their strengths. He watched over his candidates for Holy Orders with a paternal interest, meeting with them weekly.
    His instinct for politics never overrode his principles. Once convinced of the rightness of his position, no wave of unpopularity would budge him. His friends adored him and even his enemies credited him with frankness and fearlessness. He held no grudges and played no games, two qualities that endeared him to many. In a turbulent New York State election for governor, a common saying was that only Hobart would have been easily elected.
    He took 26 clergy at the beginning of his episcopate in 1811 and quintupled them to 133 by his death; watched the number of parishes increase from about 50 to almost 170; and confirmed roughly 15,000.
    This lovable, indefatigable, type-A bishop went virtually nonstop from his ordination until his death. The only surprise was that he didn't die sooner. At midnight, September 7, 1830, a young clergyman rode in a stage through Auburn on his way to Binghamton. Passing the rectory of St. Peter's Church, he was puzzled to see a light so late. He rapped for the stage to stop and soon learned from the rector, John Rudd, that Bishop Hobart was ill. Francis Cumming remained to assist in any way he could.
    Hobart's illness wasn't that surprising. Troubled for years with what was most likely a bleeding ulcer, with rest and medication he would generally rebound. In Auburn he had preached and confirmed and other than a slight cold, seemed fine. But soon the serious nature of his attack became clear and he cancelled the remainder of his visitation. Over the next few days, he frequently requested to hear portions of Lancelot Andrewes's litany, in which he would join.
    The third bishop of New York is buried under the chancel of Trinity Church, New York.

    Revive your Church, Lord God of hosts, whenever it falls into complacency and sloth, by raising up devoted leaders, like your servant John Henry Hobart whom we remember this day; and grant that their faith and vigor of mind may awaken your people to your message and their mission; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

    September 13: St. Cyprian of Carthage [c. 250-258]

    Two years after he was baptized, Cyprian became the bishop of Carthage in northern Africa.  Yes, they did things rather quickly in the 3rd century.  During a vicious persecution by the Roman emperor, Cyprian, rather than face certain death by creative torture, "bravely ran away".  [With apologies to Monty Python for that paraphrase from "...and the Holy Grail."]

    He received much criticism for this, yet remained a bishop and served as a champion for those who had recanted their faith rather than face their own slaughter and that of their nearest and dearest.  Cyprian prescribed both a form of probation and some direct penance for those who wished to rejoin the flock.  What he prescribed for himself is not known by the sources I consulted. 

    As was common for clergy of his day, he was involved in various theological disputes, more of which may be read of here.

    When the second wave of persecutions came, Cyprian did not adjourn to the hills, as it were, but instead faced his persecutors and paid the martyr's price for such defiance. 

    Almighty God, who gave to your servant Cyprian boldness to confess the Name of our Savior Jesus Christ before the rulers of this world, and courage to die for this faith: Grant that we may always be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us, and to suffer gladly for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

    Friday, September 6, 2013

    Friday's Church: Quarry Chapel At Kenyon College

    Although, like Trinity College in Hartford, Kenyon College in Ohio takes great pains to pretend that it has no affiliation with the Episcopal Church [or with Christianity at all], it is one of the handful of Episcopal colleges in the United States.  It was also the loving creation of one of the most powerful and prolific of the church's early clergymen, Philander Chase, of whom we have written before in The Coracle.  His feast day is upcoming on September 22nd.

    So serious was Chase about providing Christian witness on the frontier that he imported English stonemasons to build the college.  They stayed and their immediate descendants built this chapel.  More of the chapel may be found at this link.

    Thursday, September 5, 2013

    Thursday's Bible Recipe: Goat's Milk and Pomegranate Syrup Torte


    2 cups all purpose flour
    1 tsp. baking powder
    ¼ cup light olive oil
    ¼ cup sunflower oil
    ½ cup beer
    1½ cups creamy goat cheese (or sheep's milk cheese)
    ¾ cup pomegranate juice
    1 tsp. vanilla extract
    1 tsp. ground mastic
    ½ tsp. ground allspice
    2 eggs ground nutmeg

    Preheat oven to 375°F. In a large bowl combine the flour with the baking powder. Add the oils and beer and mix briefly by hand into a soft, oily dough. (If it becomes too soft to handle, add a bit more flour to your hands and knead again.) Work the dough mixture into a ball; cover and set aside for 10 minutes or so. Take the dough and flatten it with both hands. Place in a baking pan with a removable bottom and press it evenly against the bottom surface as well as up the sides. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 15 minutes. Uncover the pan, prick the dough all over with a fork, and bake for 15–20 minutes more. (The crust should look slightly browned.) Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. In the meantime, combine the cheese, pomegranate juice, vanilla extract, mastic, and allspice in a blender until smooth. Add the eggs and blend again. Pour into the prepared crust and even out the surface with an icing spatula or flat spoon. Bake for approximately 30 minutes. While still warm, sprinkle with a bit of ground nutmeg. Let cool before serving.

    Tuesday, September 3, 2013

    Oh? Quelle surprise!

    Slate Magazine: The anti-war movement was really just anti-Republican

    This is the problem when the leadership of the Episcopal Church takes sides in secular political ideology.  Since the United States is divided fairly evenly between the two political parties, to support one half of the nation against the other half, dress it up as an "anti-war" theology, and sprinkle it with spiritual condescension, means that the Episcopal Church appears to disdain half of its potential membership.

    I won't get into how it also is a violation of the Gospel teaching, as I think the link presents enough of a challenge to my fellow clergy.

    "Get your foot off of that desk, you gormless undergrad."

    Embedded image permalink

    So once said my favorite professor to a fellow student in the university library, as I was reminded when I saw this photo of the current occupant of the White House placing his sole on that fantastic and historical piece of craftsmanship.  That desk, a gift of Queen Victoria, has been around so long that it has a name, "Resolute".  Its fascinating history may be found by following the link.  It has been there through the terms of Presidents Kennedy, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, and Obama*, and will, if treated correctly, be there through many, many more administrations.

    *It was removed after Kennedy's assassination then eventually returned to the Oval Office by Carter.

    Tuesday's Wave

    "We may pass violets looking for roses. We may pass contentment looking for victory."
     ~Bern Williams

    Sunday, September 1, 2013

    Meanwhile, In My Home State Of Ohio...

    Robber Hit Clerk With Bible

    This Week's Feast Day Of Note

    September 4th: Paul Jones, Bishop of Utah -

    Jones was the bishop of Utah during the First World War. He was a pacifist who well-represented that demographic in the Episcopal Church. He resigned as bishop the year of US entry into WWI, feeling that his theological perspective was insufficiently supported by his diocese and the greater church. After leaving the see of Utah, he continued to work for peace for two decades until his death a few months before Pearl Harbor.

    There are some representations of his life available, mainly composed by those strongly opposed to war in any circumstance, even the Augustinian notion of "just war", that prefer to present the resigned Jones as a victim of the powerful, wealthy, and war-mongering. I'm particularly amused by the notion that he was "silenced" once he resigned as diocesan bishop. As one remains a bishop for life, it is not as if his ordination was negated or that his membership in the House of Bishops ceased.

    Certainly, as anyone who has ever spent even a millisecond near the echelons of power in the Episcopal Church knows, there is absolutely no such thing as a silent bishop.

    [I also reject the notion, common to Jones' biographies, that only bishops have a voice and the rest of us are relegated to silence. Really, is that what Jesus taught us? Please.  There are and have been a great number of influential clergy and laity who were not members of the House of Bishops, yet altered their world for the better.]

    It may be heresy to note that Jones was a little vague in his opposition to war from a practical point of view. From one of his sermons before his resignation, he stated that, "I believe most sincerely that German brutality and aggression must be stopped and I am willing, if need be, to give my life and what I possess, to bring that about...I have been led to feel that war is entirely incompatible with the Christian profession. . . Moreover, because Germany has ignored her solemn obligations, Christians are not justified in treating the sermon on the mount as a scrap of paper." [The Witness, March 2002]

    You see, I get confused as to how one combats German aggression, even to the point of self-sacrifice, yet not through some type of conflict. Perhaps he meant through prayer alone, although that is usually not a mortal activity. I think some of Jones' contemporaries were confused, too, although it should be noted that history generally states that the majority of his diocesan clergy and laity supported him. If he had been willing to stand up to those who opposed him, odds are he would have been successful and his message made more compelling. However, fighting even the good fight seemed to be something Jones decided to do in a passive manner.

    While he was not a martyr, person of letters, mystic, or monastic, and lived a life that was quiet and comfortable, in a nod to the Episcopal Peace Fellowship, which was, in its original form, founded by Bishop Jones, he has been included on the calendar.

    Merciful God, you sent your beloved Son to preach peace to those who are far off and to those who are near: Raise up in this and every land witnesses who, after the example of your servant Paul Jones, will stand firm in proclaiming the Gospel of the Prince of Peace, our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.