Showing posts from March 9, 2008

Palm Sunday - a critique

Tomorrow (today by the time you read this) March 16th 2008 is, in the western Christian tradition known as “Palm Sunday: The Sunday of the Passion”.

For thirty years I thought that this was an important day in the life of the Church, and urged the parishioners in Fitchburg, Chicopee, Pittsfield and Cambridge (each in Massachusetts) to attend.

I planned exquisite and lovely liturgies, and even if they did not “come off” - well there was always next year.

Now, two years into retirement, I am not sure if I will attend the Palm/Passion Sunday liturgies.

If I do, it will be at St.X's Church where there will be many palms, but little passion.

St. X's is a great Church. The Clerics preach well, the music is superb, the ambiance is liberal, and the people are cool.

Liberal as it is (and I love that), it is a “top-down” parish with the Rector (a good and wise man) very much in control.

St. X's does everything right, but it lacks passion. I long for this Church to “let loose”.

I l…


I strained a back muscle a couple of days ago. For now it’s hard to stand up from a chair, or to get out of bed. “Tis nothing serious, and ibuprofen brings temporary relief.

So I decided (or my back decided) not to bowl today. Nonetheless I, having enjoyed lunch with Ben and Mel, took myself to the bowling alley simply to be with friends.

Well, there’s nothing like a bad back to bring out the physician in every person. “Use heat”, said one. “Use an ice pack”, said another. Yet another offered to walk on my back.

As we left the alley I said to Ben “I came to bowling today looking for sympathy. All I got was advice!”

(“You’re lucky you got anything” was his tongue in cheek reply).

It reminded me of the time about ten years ago when “S” came to see me in my office in Pittsfield. She was rebuilding her life after a miserable break up of her marriage.

She began to talk. After three or four minutes I sprang into my usual problem solving mode, and have her the benefit of my wisdom.

She d…

More memories

I would sometimes walk, or sometime ride my bike to do my morning paper route. My route would take me up over the railway bridge on Devon Road, passing Chelsea Gospel Hall ( my Plymouth Brethren Meeting Room), and down York Rd onto Bellevue Road. There I would pass the Tudor Road Methodist Church. My paper route would take me near St. Anne’s Church, Greenbank (where my mother and her second husband were married, and from where they were buried); Castle Green Congregational Church; St. Mark’s Baptist Church, and St. Mark’s Church (of England).

After delivering the papers I would stop by Nanny Povey’s home, and light her morning coal fire.

If on foot I would then take the #2 or 2A ‘bus from Stapleton Road in Eastville. Across the street from the ‘bus stop was the Eastville Methodist Church where my Mum and Dad had been wed; where I was baptised; and where later I preached.

Eastville was then a bustling working class shopping area with two Banks (Lloyds and Westminster), a Polic…

A shameful part of Bristol history.

1963 Bristol Omnibus Company's colour bar against black bus crews

1963 was a quite a tumultuous saw the first woman in space and a rash of political assassinations. MLK marched on Washington and George Wallace stood in that schoolhouse door. It was a year of hope & heartbreak, ripe with the promise of beginnings and scarred by tragic endings.

Alcatraz prison, off San Francisco CA, closes its doors - MI6 turncoat Kim Philby defects to USSR - Profumo sex scandal rocks Britain - Sir Winston Churchill proclaimed honorary U.S. citizen in White House ceremony - Civil Rights leader Medgar Evers assassinated in Mississippi

Meanwhile back in the UK .... There was unrest on Bristol Buses.

On the 30th of April 1963 local West Indian activists publicly exposed Bristol Omnibus Company's long standing colour bar against black bus crews. The bar was perfectly legal, for although an Immigration Act had been passed the year before, no law yet existed against rac…

Willie the Barber and Tony Benn

Willie is a wonderful and eloquent young hairdresser who visits Resurrection House each Thursday morning to give free hair cuts. I admire him greatly.

The other week as we chatted, he asked me if I knew of Tony Benn. “Tony Benn”, I exclaimed, “he is one of my heroes, and at one time was a member of the British Parliament representing a Bristol (my home City) constituency”.

“How amazing” I thought, “that a young African-American barber should know about Tony Benn”.

We agreed that Mr. Benn is one of the last true Socialists.

I also admire (at a distance) Giles Fraser the Team Rector in Putney, London. I have a feeling that I’d like to attend his Church.

He recently hosted an Anglican/Roman Catholic dialogue at which Tony Benn was a speaker.

Here is something from Giles:

“I have a feeling the Pope pinched Jesus from me and moved him into the Vatican.” These words were spoken recently in my church — though not by me. They came from one of my political heroes, Tony Benn. His complaint about…

Telling Secrets: The Radical Orthodox Rabbi

Sex and George Bush

The Press, T.V. Stations and Internet have been crowded this day with the dreadful story of New York Governor Elliot Spitzer’s various trysts with high cost prostitutes. Some sources indicate that he may have spent $80,000 for such tawdry encounters.

I’ve felt a wee bit betrayed as Gov. Spitzer has been one of my minor heroes as a crusading Attorney General in New York, and as a reforming Governor in that Empire State.

I hope that he will resign. He has betrayed the trust of his family; of the residents of New York State, and of those of us who hope for a deep reformation of American politics.

( I was also one of the minority of Liberals who thought that Bill Clinton should have resigned over the Monica Lewinsky affair. My thoughts were rooted not in squeamishness about sex, but in my sense that Pres. Clinton had betrayed the American people by this abuse of power).

And the media are baying for Spitzer’s resignation. It may be forced upon him.

Sex is the sin that sells, and that is …

A "Paper Boy"

When I reached 13 years of age I was able to deliver newspapers. The law then made 13 the youngest age for this work.

In the United Kingdom at that time “paper girls and boys” did not work for the newspaper. Instead they worked for the local Newsagent.

I worked for Frank Moore on Bellevue Road, Easton, Bristol. His little shop sold cigarettes, sweets, chocolates, news papers and magazines. He was a cheapskate, and I earned a shilling or two less each week than my friends in other shops.

He had a saying which I vowed I would never repeat. But of course I do. He would says to me, or to a customer “thank you very much, and if I can ever do the same for you, don’t mention it”.

My morning route, using a bicycle, started on Greenbank Road, took him some side streets, and then down Robertson Road to Mivart Street and to St. Mark’s Road. It was maybe one and a half or two miles.

On St. Mark’s Road, I would deliver at “Ashman’s Builders’ Yard” which always scared me as the owners always l…

Are you Dunne?

John Donne (1572-1631) was an English Roman Catholic who became an Anglican, and later was an Anglican Priest, and Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, U.K.

He is known in the Christian world today for his meditations, poems and sermons. Many know this:

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manner of thine own
Or of thine friend's were.
Each man's death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

These words are part of a much longer Meditation which can be found below.

He wrote “A Hymn to God the Father” - it is one of my Lenten favourites. We sang it this morning at St. David’s, Englewood, FL

“Donne” is pronounced “Dunne”, and the hymn is a wonderful pun in his own name.

by John Donne

WILT Thou forgive that sin where I begun,

For whom the bellt tolls (full meditation)

For whom the Bell Tolls
John Donne

From "Devotions upon Emergent Occasions" (1623), XVII: Nunc Lento Sonitu Dicunt, Morieris - "Now, this bell tolling softly for another, says to me: Thou must die."

PERCHANCE he for whom this bell tolls may be so ill, as that he knows not it tolls for him; and perchance I may think myself so much better than I am, as that they who are about me, and see my state, may have caused it to toll for me, and I know not that.

The church is Catholic, universal, so are all her actions; all that she does belongs to all.

When she baptizes a child, that action concerns me; for that child is thereby connected to that body which is my head too, and ingrafted into that body whereof I am a member.

And when she buries a man, that action concerns me: all mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated; God employs seve…