Sunday, 26 July 2015

And I say to myself "what a wonderful week".

Careful readers of this blog will have noted that I had two first-class visits last week with friends from St. Boniface Church, Sarasota.

On Monday last it was with Deacon Alan Rogers.

On Friday last it was with  the the Revd. John (Jack) Chrisman and his wife Donna.

I began this new week (Sunday 26th July 2015)  with another time of blessing with a friend.

He is Joe R, (from Massachusetts) whom I have known since 1980.

I have been with Joe through thick and thin:  as an assisting Priest at his wedding to Deanne; at the time when one of his brothers was murdered (a ghastly time); and at the funerals for his mother Irene, and his father Ray.

My friendship with Joe and Deanne has led to them have a rich and abiding friendship with my brother Martyn and his wife Wendy (that's a long and lovely story).

Joe is in Orlando, FL for a business conference.  He took advantage of some down time in that conference to drive over to SRQ today.

It was a gracious and blessed time.  We "took up" as if we were close neighbours:  with  humour; with shared news about our Church memberships and our families; and with that trusting emotional and intellectual intimacy which is the fruit of a thirty five year old friendship.

It was great, but not perfect -  for Deanne, Martyn and Wendy were not present.

I chose to eat in  (restaurants are all to often crowded, noisy and busy).

I think that Joe liked my home made Gazpacho, which was followed by my (also) home made Tabbouleh Salad, corn, peas, and butter-cooked rib eye steaks.

If he did not like it, he was wise enough to flatter me with gracious compliments about my culinary skills.

That's what friends are for!

AND  I SAY TO MYSELF  "what a wonderful week".

"Dear Alan, Jack, Donna and Joe -  you are gifts of grace to me".

Dear God - I am grateful.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Slippery Words: 3 - "Courage" (and bravery)

The English word "courage" is rooted in the Latin word "cor" meaning "heart".

Here are some other words with the same root (cor/cord):  accord, cordial, core, concord, discord, discordant, encourage, record.

"Brave" is a  Middle French word which has been directly imported into English.  It meant "splendid, or "valiant".

 ( In former times, a man decked out in his finest clothing would be described as being in his "braveries"  - how splendid!).

I do not believe that the two words are synonyms.

I think that "bravery"  is a learned behaviour.  For example, the best military training teaches women and men how to be brave.

Thus Senator John McCain exhibited bravery when he flew his naval jet on combat missions in Viet-Nam. Similarly the Viet-Nam era American and Australian ground troops know as "Tunnel Rats" were brave -  as a result of their training.


When I visited Viet-Nam I tried to enter one of those tunnels.  Even 'though it had been enlarged for the benefit of tourists I had to withdraw after no more than 10 yards. I was overwhelmed with claustrophobia.  I was not brave, even in peace time.

I was not brave, but what about courage?

It seems to me that those who have not been trained to be  brave are very often courageous.

I think of those women and men who sheltered Jewish men, women and children during the N-zi era.

One such courageous Polish  woman sheltered Jewish children in her cellar, even as Gestapo agents sequestrated her home.

After WW II,  (and following  the subsequent Soviet Russian domination of Poland),  this woman was free to speak her mind.  Her witness was that she had never planned to protect Jewish children,  but when the time came she knew what she had to do, and to hell with the consequences..

Oh such genuine courage!  A courage for which she risked her life.


 Courage bears a price; it holds a risk.

That is why I am a skeptic regarding the recent ESPY award for courage  which was awarded to the man who wishes to be known as Caitlyn Jenner.

If he, Bruce Jenner, wishes to be known as Caitlyn -  all well and good.

But let us not describe his/her decision as courageous,

It is a decision of convenience which bears no price, and carries no cost,


COURAGE, if it is applied to Bruce/Caitlyn is an entirely slippery word,

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Slippery Words: 2 - "Forgiveness"

Many were shocked/surprised/amazed at the reaction of some Amish families after their young ones had been horribly murdered.  This National Public Radio story sheds some light on the forgiving spirit of Amish families whose children had died.

In a similar vein, some members of  the A.M.E "Emmanuel" Church in Charleston, S.C.  offered forgiveness to the alleged murderer (evidently a White Racist), of their brothers and sisters.

How cozy it is to "coo" with pleasure when Amish and A.M.E. Christians forgive those who have brutalized them.

But what about us: do we have the same ability and willingness  to forgive?

I think about a woman I know,  who finds it impossible to forgive the man who murdered her daughter.

I have suggested to her that it is indeed  utterly difficult for her  to forgive a man with whom she has no relationship;  a man who has never asked to be forgiven.

AND YET  true forgiveness is not  dependent on the one who needs forgiveness; instead it is routed in the one who is called to forgive,  ------  at a price

The  forgiving  person has to pay the price of abandoning pride, bitterness, resentment, anger, self-righteousness,  and the like.

That is why forgiveness is so difficult.  It carries so much pain for the potential forgiver.

BUT the refusal to forgive is even more painful.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Oh those rumours, or "ain't that the truth!"


A rhyme from 1916/1917  -  re the rumours in London during "The Great War".

Absolute evidence have I none,
But my aunt's charwoman's sister's son
Heard a policemen on his beat
Say to a housemaid in Downing Street
That he had a uncle who had a friend
Who knew for a fact when the war would end.
I happened upon this rhyme in the book  * "The Panther's Feast" by Robert B. Asprey  ( Published by Johnathan Cape, 1959).
Asprey attributes it to Sir George Aston.
Other sources say that the rhymer was Reginald Arkell.

* "The Panther's Feast" is a historical novel about Alfred Redl, the notorious head of Military Intelligence in the Austrian Army, who was also a spy for the Russians -  between 1901 and 1913