Thursday, 6 December 2007


My good friend Betsy Pusey from Pittsfield arrived this evening (6 Dec.)

She'll be here until Monday 10th, so my blog will be on hiatus until then.

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Her name was Carla. His name is Zach.

Her name was Carla.

I’d see her at Resurrection House, the day shelter for homeless people where I volunteer. She was slender, pretty, with lovely hair.

She was always in a daze. “Out there” I said to one of the other guests today. “Way out there” he replied.

There was a story about Carla in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune on December 4th 2007

HOLMES BEACH -- Investigators know Carla A. Beard left a residential drug rehabilitation center in Sarasota on Nov. 26, and that she died of blunt trauma to her head about two days later on Anna Maria Island.

As a first step to catch her killer, detectives are trying to piece together a time line of who was with the 29-year-old after she left the center and how she got to the Holmes Beach neighborhood.

Beard's decomposing, partially nude body was found this weekend, days after her death, giving investigators a slow start on the investigation into how she ended up about 100 feet from the Gulf of Mexico.

So Holmes Beach police Chief Jay Romine sent her photo to the media in the hope that someone saw her in a cab, on a bus or "anywhere from last Monday to Wednesday night."

A medical examiner's report puts the time of death somewhere around Wednesday night. There is no evidence Beard was killed somewhere else and then dumped in the quiet neighborhood, Romine said.

"It's no question it was a violent death," Romine said. "We don't have a weapon we've recovered."

People renting a house for a weekend party found the body while investigating an odor in pine trees behind the home, near Fifth Avenue and 50th Street, Romine said.

Relatives of the Sarasota woman did not want to comment or did not return calls Monday.

A spokesman for First Step of Sarasota, the drug treatment program, declined to comment, citing concerns about the dead woman's privacy.

Beard had a short criminal history related to drug charges, including a plea to marijuana possession and paraphernalia possession in 2001. She was also cited for possession of paraphernalia, which she pleaded to in July.

His name is Zach.

He was my check-out clerk today at our local Super Target. He asked “how are you doing?” and I replied with my usual “excellent”. “And how are you?” I asked him. “Outstanding” he said.

“Outstanding?” I queried. Yes, outstanding”

I said, "you are either coming off duty or you have a date tonight"

I followed up with “What will you be doing tonight” “Golfing” he said. “Are you on a High School team” I enquired. ( I thought that he was about 17 years old).

, he countered, “I’m in the Army and I’m on leave”.

“Where are you based?”

“Fort Bliss”

“Have you been deployed?”

“Yes, to Iraq”.

“What was that like”.

“It was my first time out of the USA, and it was all very different. I saw things that I wished I had not seen”.

“When do you go back?”

“Back to Fort Bliss in January”

“And then”

“We’ll be shipped out again”.

I asked his name (Zach), shook his hand, and promised to pray for him.

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

My letter to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune today. Not sure if it will be published

Is Christmas a Christian adaptation of Saturnalia? That's widely believed, but there is an alternative idea as to why this festival is celebrated in December.

Some ancients believed that people died near to the date they were conceived. According to the Christian Gospels Jesus died at Passover time, in what we know as March or April. Hence, according to some, he would have been conceived at that time of year, and thus born nine months later, in December. So a December Christmas would be conceivable (pun intended!).

Christians have a blessed freedom in these United States to celebrate their festivals in any way they please. I suspect that most Christian celebrations of Christmas are not very different from those of non-Christians. They celebrate an essentially secular Christmas with a bit of Church thrown in. Never mind. It's great to have feasting, festivals and even worship which encourage charity and loving kindness for Christians and non-Christians alike.

And the culture will not falter or fall if Christians use "Merry Christmas" as a greeting. Members of other faiths, and people of no faith expect Christians to use their own greeting. Nor will the culture fall if others say "Happy Holidays".

For in this beautiful American kaleidescope of many faith and none, there is room for ""Merry Christmas" and "Happy Holidays".

(The Revd) J. Michael Povey
Episcopal Priest (retired) Sarasota

Monday, 3 December 2007


I was surfing through another blog “frjakestopsthe world” and came across this piece

(Cut and paste this, then scroll down to Autobiographical (on the right) and click on A Ghost from the Past)

He quotes the wonderful Paul, McCartney song “Blackbird”

It’s always been one of my favourites, and I had it sung on my last Sunday at the Church of the Good Shepherd, Fitchburg, MA - Easter Day 1980

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise.

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these sunken eyes and learn to see
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to be free.

Blackbird fly...Blackbird fly
Into the light of the dark black night.

Blackbird fly...Blackbird fly
Into the light of the dark black night.

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life...
you were only waiting for this moment to arise...

There is a youtube video of the song which you may be able to access. The video is poorly lit, and the singer is not great, but her guitar work is lovely.
(Cut and past this and you should get the youtube video)

Sunday, 2 December 2007

In a "Wonder Bread" mood

I did not go to Church today. I was not slated to assist in Englewood, and I half a mind to go St. Boniface, but in the end I settled for a long nap.

I hang around three parishes. St. Boniface has the best sermons. St. David’s has the warmest Rector. All Angels has the friendliest congregation. Each congregation is fine in its own way, but they are still Church, and sometimes I don’t want to do Church.

Earlier in the week I was talking with Daegan, a young man from Canaan, New York who used to attend St. Stephen’s, Pittsfield with his sister Carrie and their parents Eric and Maggie

I’ve not set eyes on any of the family in nearly eight years. But have remembered them with fondness. Now Daegan is planning to get married to his beloved Talia, and they have asked my to officiate. It will be an outdoor wedding, next year in Massachusetts.

As you might guess, I was tickled pink to be remembered and asked.

Daegan started along that road which is often taken by those who have lapsed from Church. “Talia and I don’t attend Church” he said “but we think that the spiritual life is important”.

I cut him off gently and quickly. I used to argue with people who claimed to be spiritual but who do not attend Church, but now I understand them much more. I needed no defensive reaction from Daegan.

We talked a bit about this. I told him of my “Wonder Bread” sermon in which I had a loaf of that stuff in the pulpit.(“Wonder Bread” is crap, but it suited my purpose for the sermon).

I said that the wrapper was extremely useful - a convenient way to carry sliced bread.

But we would be foolish to spend hours admiring the wrapper whilst never eating the bread. ‘Twould be equally silly to treasure the wrapper after all the bread had been eaten.

The Church is a wrapper, and no more.
It can be an extremely useful institution for “sharing the bread of life”, but it is not the bread itself.

Yet we spend so many hours admiring, defending and beautifying the Church (wrapper) whilst people are hungry for spiritual bread.

A whole mythical commercial empire has grown up to defend and protect the Church.

The Papacy in all its glory is part of that myth, designed to create and protect power.Do we really fool ourselves into believing that Peter was the first Pope? Do we truly believe that Benedict XVI bears any spiritual resemblance to that bumbling stumbling fisherman called Peter?

Evangelical and fundamentalist Pastors
build their own defensive towers from which “struggling for biblical preaching” is a slogan which really means “covering my ass and getting rich”.

And we are being urged to adopt quasi-papal structures in the Anglican Communion, through which the Archbishop of Canterbury would serve like a genteel and oh so polite English “Pope”. Why? To save and protect the damn institution? To adorn and embellish the wrapper whilst the bread goes stale?

I think that’s why I am irked with my Bishop for dis-inviting Bishop Gene Robinson here. The good Bishop has fallen into the trap of defending the institution, rather than allowing Bishop Gene to break the bread of life with those who would hear him.

I believe that G-d does not care one whit about the survival of the Diocese of South West Florida, or the Anglican Communion.

I know that G-d does care that the poor hear the Gospel.

I know that G-d cares for justice for the oppressed (and you can bet your last pledge offering that gay Christians are oppressed in Africa and South East Asia).

I believe that G-d wills all persons to be saved, be they Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus or none of the above.

I do not believe that Jesus ever intended to found a Church (and I’ll argue with you about that passage about “you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church”).

I do not see a place anywhere in the Gospels where Jesus explicitly or implicitly calls people to become Christians.

But the Church has decided that our chief purpose is to make Christians.
To hell with feeding the poor, clothing the naked, visiting the prisoners, and giving water to the thirsty. We want to make more Christians “in our image” - Christians who will become as venial and proud as we.

I am grateful for the sister and brother clerics at St. David’s. St. Boniface and All Angels who “get this” as much as if not more than I did when I was a parish Rector. Now retired, I am glad that I am not in their shoes.

And I felt the joy of my retirement this morning. I was in a “Wonder Bread” mood. So I did not want to be in a place where Bishop Smith’s fallible judgments become law. And, because I am retired I did not have to be in Church.

I went Christmas shopping, wrote Christmas Cards and ate dinner with a friend. It was a good Sunday.

Talia and Daegen’s wedding will be similarly good.