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Showing posts from November 25, 2007

Moving away from being horribly religious

So I returned to Bristol with my tail between my legs after the failure of my stellar attempts (!) to become an Evangelist. The year was 1965 and I was 21 years old.

I was 21 years old and utterly unqualified for any career. After all, I had gained only two O levels in “High School” - in English Language and English Literature. Most white collar employers demanded a minimum of five O levels, and I was totally unprepared for blue collar work.

So I went on the “dole”. In order to receive unemployment payments I was required to sign in twice each week at the Employment Exchange on Nelson Street in Bristol.

I would shuffle through the lines of unemployed men and women to await my “interview” with a clerk. Most of the unemployed smoked cigarettes, and I joined them. We would puff away as we awaited our turn.

The dole lasted for ten weeks. Then I landed a job as a Civil Servant - at the very lowest level. I clerked at the “ Inspectorate of Armaments” (IArm) and the “Inspectorate of F…

Purple-itis

There was a time when I wanted to become a Bishop. I had that dreadful Episcopal Church disease called “purple-itis”. Supremely confident in my own ability, I knew that I would be a great, godly and wise Bishop!

Bull-shit. If I ever had become a Bishop I would have fallen into that greatest trap - “believing my own propaganda”. That’s what happens to Bishops.

Bishops wear purple. Hence purple-itis. That purple came from the Roman Empire. Men of the equestrian and senatorial classes were allowed to wear togas with purple stripes. It was a sign of status.

Victorious Generals were allowed to wear the “toga piota”, a toga dyed entirely in bright purple. Later on Emperors wore this toga piota, even hairless boy Emperors who had never seen the light of battle.

That’s what our Bishops wear.

We swear that some parish Priests have a purple clerical shirt in their closet “just in case they should become a Bishop”. I never owned a purple shirt, but I wanted to be a Bishop.

That desire was…

When you are older than your Father.

I had been anticipating November 26th for about three months. In the event the day came and went, and it was not until this evening (29th Nov) that I remembered the significance of that date.

For on November 26th I became older than my father was when he died. That’s given me pause for thought.

Dad was born in November 1910. He died in May 1974.

He was born into a world in which Britain ruled the waves, and the British Empire had never been more “glorious”. That Empire wealth was leached away in the Great War -1914/18, a war from which the comparatively few “heroes” returned to a Britain which was beginning to go broke.

They came back to be heroes, and were greeted with massive unemployment for all but the reviled and despised military “Officer Class”.

Winston Churchill was discredited on account of the disastrous Dardanelles campaign against the Turkish Navy. The working people never forgot that Churchill had mobilised troops against strikers in 1910/11.

By 1926 when Dad was 16, t…

Aunts, Uncles and Cousins

My mother’s birth name was Evelyn Maud Finch. She hated her middle name. We would tease her by singing “Come into the garden Maud”.

Her parents were Francis Finch and Kate Ames.

Kate, my maternal grandmother died six months after my birth, and Francis died when I was less than two years old.

Mum had one sister, Kate, who died at a young age of what was called “lockjaw” (tetanus?).

There were six brothers. John, Harold, Reg, Fred, Wally and Albert.

I met my Uncle John only once. He was a mortician. He lived in Southend-on-Sea, Essex, and came to Bristol for the one family reunion which Mum organised. Uncle John and his wife (whose name I cannot remember) had one child, my cousin Margaret.

Harold was a cobbler. I knew him quite well, as well as his wife my Auntie Doll. They had two children, my cousins John and Shelia.

Reg was married to a fairly unkind woman, my Aunt Dorothy. They were childless, but “fostered” many children with a harshness that bordered on cruelty.

Uncle Fred and his w…

Her name is Anna

Her name is Anna. I met her at one of the three parishes I attend in this neck of the woods.

I recognised her faint German accent and told her about the wonderful German bakery here in SRQ.

Anna is in the hospital, and I visited her yesterday.

She was born in Berlin in 1930, just three years before H-tler’s rise to power. As inflation was conquered and employment grew, she enjoyed those days. A little girl would not understand the abnormality of the ghastly regime.

Even during the first years of the war, things seemed normal to Anna. Then the Allies began to bomb Berlin, and her father sent her, with her mother and sisters to a safe country place near the Polish border.

Anna was a member of the H-tler Youth (what child of that era in Germany was not?) and she, at aged 13 and 14 would be marched out every day, with other children, some younger, to dig trenches for the retreating German soldiers to occupy.

Then the Red Army began its march west, and the females of this divided family mov…

Friends and Thanksgiving

As you know my friend, Bruce Wirtz, a retired Episcopal Priest, died on October 2nd. He was but 73 years old. I had known him since 1976.

Bruce and his wife Mary Virginia divorced many years ago. They had four wonderful children, Nelson, Kati, Andrew and Eunice.

Mary Virginia died in 2006 and I officiated at her funeral in Worcester, MA. Just six week previously I had officiated at the marriage of Nelson and his beloved Meredith, on Cape Cod.

Bruce met Ben Morse 15 years ago and they enjoyed a wonderfully loving relationship. It was largely because of Bruce and Ben that I moved here last year.

Nelson, Kati, Andrew and Eunice adored their father, and his partner Ben.

So it was no surprise that Nelson and Meredith invited Ben to join them on Cape Cod for Thanksgiving. Ben (85) asked if I would travel with him, and I was pleased to do so and be part of this family Thanksgiving. The family includes Emma, a fine thirteen year old young woman from Nelson’s first marriage.

Ben and I left Sa…

Nov 25th Left brain sermon which I did NOT preach. Scroll down for the sermon I preached

Sermon for November 25th 2007
The Revd. J. Michael Povey at All Angels Church, Longboat Key, FL

Jeremiah 23: 1-6, Psalm 46, Colossians 1:11-20, and Luke 23: 33-43.



Thank you for your welcome when I visited last month, and again this morning.
My name is Michael Povey, and your Rector and I knew each other back in Massachusetts. I have one little question. What happened to St. Michael in your Church dedication!

The Queen and Prince Philip celebrated their sixtieth wedding anniversary last weekend. It always amuses me in republican (small R) America, that whenever we say “The Queen”, we know that we are taking about the Queen of the United Kingdom, not the Queen of Spain or of Belgium. Sometimes it feels as if she is our honorary monarch!

You know that today we reach the end of a one year cycles of readings for each Sunday. What we’ve read through the long green season, culminates in what Roman Catholics call the “Feast of Christ the King”. Although that is not an official feas…

November 25th Right Brain sermon which I preached

Sermon for November 25th 2007
The Revd. J. Michael Povey at All Angels Church, Longboat Key.

Jeremiah 23: 1-6, Psalm 46, Colossians 1:11-20, and Luke 23: 33-43.



Thank you for your welcome when I visited last month, and again this morning.
My name is Michael Povey, and your Rector and I knew each other back in Massachusetts. I have one little question. What happened to St. Michael in your Church dedication!

There is a word in the Welsh language which is almost untranslatable into English. It is “hierith”. It is a word for this time of year, between Thanksgiving and Advent.

Hierith is a word which is so hard to describe. It’s a longing for one’s home, land, family, and it’s a deep sadness in the soul for all those who are away from their homeland and kinfolk. It’s a longing, yearning to be whole again, both a sadness and a blessing.

I wrote my sermon for today last Monday. It’s alright in its own way, and I’ll post it to my blog. But it is not this sermon. For I had a moment o…