Saturday, 7 June 2008

We become our parents.

We become our parents.

Yes indeed.

When I look into a mirror, I look just like a bearded Mum.

I have her cheek bones.

My formerly red hair has faded, just as hers did.

I have that jowly loose skin around my neck, which only plastic surgery could put right. And I do not have enough “plastic” to afford plastic surgery.

When I am at ease, I realise that I am holding my head just as she did.

She gave me a love for immigrants. Mum was the only person on our Street to welcome some immigrants from Pakistan with a gift of food.

And there were gifts from Dad,

He loved Irish people. Unusual for an Englishman.

He was a bit of a loner - so am I.

He spent many by listening to “classical” music on the radio.

That’s my deal too.

But it is not “all the same”

I grow much more liberal as I get older. I have no patience with conservative crap in Church or State. I think that Mum and Dad were much more conformist. I suspect that they both admired Winston Churchill.

I believe that he was an inspiring World War II leader for the U.K.; but also that he was a reactionary prick.

I know that Mum loved the British Royal Family.

I despise them, and would not cross the street to say “hello” to any one them.

But when I cut up a juicy pear - well then I know that my dear Mum lives in me.

And that’s also true for Dad when I savour a bit of watercress,

Friday, 6 June 2008

This and that again - June 6th

1. Post breakfast nap on my bed, for both cats.

2. Adelaide - inquisitive as ever.

3. Ada, sleeping - her favourite "activity".

It’s been damn hot here, maxing out at 91F during the day. ‘Twas even to hot to walk this a.m.. besides which, I wanted to do some planting. I did so just after morning twilight.

I am choosing Florida friendly and drought resistant plants - some of which I’d never heard in Massachusetts - viz Jatropha and Porter Weed.

Ben and I had lunch at a new Italian restaurant nearby. I ate 2 ½ slices of Pizza - my first in three months, and I immediately felt fat.

In fact I have lost 34lbs through eating wisely, and walking each day.

But I felt fat!

I thought about joining a local Health Club, where I could exercise in air-conditioned comfort.

Then I remembered that we have a exercise room in the Glen Oaks Ridge Clubhouse. So, after bowling I took myself there and walked 1 ½ miles on a tread mill, at 3.2 m.p.h.

After which I forgave myself for the Pizza.

Later in the afternoon it rained for about an hour - glorious rain. I simply had to take myself out to the car port to enjoy the rain. (We are in a drought, and every bit of rain is a cause for rejoicing).

The cats are well (see photo’s). Ada loves to sleep and eat. Adelaide is more active, and is very demanding of attention.

Ada is the cat I’d love to be.

Adelaide is the attention seeker that I am.


And here is some other stuff.



Tobias Wolf in the New Yorker



Dreadful jokes a la Henny Youngman (via Rory O’Connor)

Let Me Tell You About My Doctor. He is very good.

If you tell him you want a second opinion, he will go out and come in again.

Another time he gave a patient 6 months to live. At the end of the 6 months, the patient hadn't paid his bill, so the doctor gave him another 6 months.

While he was talking to me his nurse came in and said, "Doctor, there is a man here who thinks he is invisible." The doctor said, "Tell him I can't see him."

Another time a man came running in the office and yelled, "Doctor, my son just swallowed a roll of film." The doctor calmly replied, "Let's just wait and see what develops."

One patient came in and said, "Doctor, I have a serious memory problem." The doctor asked, "When did it start?" The man replied, "When did what start ?"

I remember once I told my doctor I had a ringing in my ears. His advice: "Don't answer it."

My doctor sure has his share of nut cases.

One said to him, "Doctor, I think I'm a bell." The doctor gave him some pills and said, "Here, take these, and if they don't work, give me a ring."

Another guy told the doctor that he thought he was a deck of cards. The doctor simply said, "Go sit over there. I'll deal with you later."

When I told my doctor I broke my leg in two places, he told me to stop going to those places.

But doctors can be so frustrating.

You wait a month and a half for an appointment. Then he says, "I wish you had come to me sooner."

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

At the breast, and on the knee

My friend “Pru” recently wrote a marvellous meditation on Psalm 131

You may read it at:

And another blogger (whom I do not know), also wrote about this Psalm: (see entry for May 28th)


Here is the text of Psalm 131 from the Book of Common Prayer

Psalm 131 Domine, non est
O LORD, I am not proud; *
I have no haughty looks.
I do not occupy myself with great matters, *
or with things that are too hard for me.
But I still my soul and make it quiet,
like a child upon its mother's breast; *
my soul is quieted within me.
O Israel, wait upon the LORD, *
from this time forth for evermore.


“I do not occupy myself with great matters, or with things that are to hard for me”

But of course I do! I fret and fume about the ghastly regime in Washington, D.C.

I worry
about the General Election, (next November), hoping that Senator Obama will best Senator McClain, and that Senator Clinton will play an important role in the next administration. (But I have but one vote).

I fret about the future of the Episcopal Church, hoping that it will not veer to the right.

I am all too concerned
about the future of the Anglican Communion, fearing that it will be taken over by the evangelicals.

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things that I cannot change”.

When I live into that prayer, I do not occupy myself with great matters. Instead, I rejoice in the little things:

My cat Adelaide, racing all over the house with a catnip drenched toy mouse, kicking it around with a all the skill of a great soccer player, and then carrying it in her mouth as if it were her kitten.

The other cat, Ada, nuzzling me through the night so that I would stroke her head and chin.

The 8/9 year old boy
who walked up to my local “Publix” Supermarket with his Mum; and vaulted a fence with the greatest of ease.

The immigrants
who are working so hard to replace our mansards. Some of them speak little English, but they know the word “beer”. So sometimes I buy a 12 pack for them to drink at the end of the day. I drive past them, saying “Beer tonight”.

Then I put the 12 pack in my fridge, and grin from ear to ear when they come to my front door at the end of their work day - with broad smiles on their faces as they anticipate the beer (about one can per person). They leave, always calling out “thank you man!”

(I should preach a sermon on “Beer: The Sacrament of Hospitality”)

Of course I occupy myself with great matters.

But I am happiest when I am a babe at Mother G- d’s breast; or a child on
Mother G-d’s knee.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

And so it goes again. Photo's from China, and another Povey Pun

Another Povey Pun.

Not many people know that the Virgin Mary was a stickler for diction.

So many of us refer to her as "Our Lady of Consonants"

And the pictures are via my friend Rosemary Lee

Monday, 2 June 2008

And so it goes

I made this (joke) up yesterday.

“I have a friend who has a very short fuse, and he gets irritated very easily and quickly.

He suffers from premature exasperation”


This truly happened at Resurrection House today.

A guest, unhappy that I would not give her special privileges, called me an “asshole”.

I told the other volunteers: “this is true, but I don’t want to hear it from her”.


Tra la-la


Sunday, 1 June 2008

Two blogs today. The "Herald Tribune" article about a U2Charist at First Presbyterian Church, SRQ (see below for my account of the service)

First Presbyterian mixing faith and U2 in its service

A trend that has captivated churches across the nation since 2004 will come to Sarasota on Sunday when First Presbyterian Church holds a worship service built around the music of the rock band U2.

The "U2Charist" will feature the band's recordings of its own music, and First Presbyterian's live band performing some U2 songs. It will be accompanied by not only U2 concert snippets, but also images from the Qatsi series of documentaries about life in war-torn and industrialized countries.

And as important as the U2 theme, said associate pastor Clay Thomas, is a call to "active discipleship," which he describes as discipleship that "takes into account the suffering of the world and tries to do something about it." Attendees will be asked to sign up for three different community service projects.

Thomas coordinated the service with the help of a church worship team and his former seminary colleagues, with whom he communicated through a Facebook thread dedicated to the topic. He hopes the U2Charist will uniquely reach both First Presbyterian's relatively sizeable youth membership and people who assume church is just not for them.
"Some people feel alienated from the church because they feel the church is self-serving," Thomas said. "This service is all about going out and serving the world."

The U2Charist is a concept first established by Episcopalian churches -- and in particular author and priest Sarah Dylan Breuer -- in 2004. In recent years, other denominations including Methodists and Presbyterians have established their own version of a U2Charist.

The idea is inspired by the band's socially conscious -- and sometimes blatantly spiritual -- lyrics, and lead singer Bono's long-term commitment to fighting poverty in Third World countries. In particular, Bono helped establish the Millennium Development Goals, a set of eight human justice goals undertaken by the United Nations.

Thomas, a U2 fan, said the band's lyrics also demonstrate the spiritual struggles universal to all people. "Their faith has ebbed and flowed just like everyone else's," he said.
First Presbyterian's U2Charist is the first in Sarasota by any denomination, and also the first such service in a series to be conducted nationwide by Thomas' colleagues in the next four months.

The service makes greater use of symbolism and poetry than a typical Eucharist, Thomas said, a quality that some more traditional worshippers might find challenging.
"Its message is not as explicit as we often see," he said. "But at the same time, Jesus was a man of parables, and he challenged listeners to be able to hear: what is the word in that for them?"

Thomas also emphasized that he and his worship team are committed to ensuring the service is more than simply a multi-sensory experience, and stays grounded in its original purpose of worship, communion and biblical callings.

"It's really important that this be about: How can people worship and have an encounter with God that inspires them to a higher level of discipleship?" he said.

Two blogs today - my attendance at the U2Charist

So I attended the U2Charist today, at the invitation of Pastor Clay Thomas. It took place in First Preby’s Fellowship Hall.

The Hall was crowded, with what I would guess an attendance of 200+, maybe 250. I’d also guess that the median age of the worshippers was 50 or 55, but with enough children, youth and under 50’s to make it feel less geriatric.

The seats were comfortable, and the audio-visual presentations were outstanding. It was clear that much hard work had gone into the planning of the U2Charist.

U2 music is great and the lyrics are powerful, and this helped to make the message clear.

Yet it was hard to get away from the thought that this was a “performance”, rather than an act of participatory worship. Some of the music was followed by applause, when hearty “Amens” might have been more useful.

And this was clearly a non-singing congregation. Nor would the worshippers “boogey”, which I desperately wanted to do! We needed a non U2 song which would have us on our feet, singing and dancing!

This is partly because Protestant ( e.g. Baptist, Methodist, United Church of Christ, and Presbyterian) worship is so very “front centred”. There was next to no congregational participation.

(Say what you will about Episcopal Liturgy, it demands congregational participation).

I also encountered the dreaded Protestant “children’s moment”.

The children came forward, very conscious that their role was to be cute. The message was underwhelming. Using that sing-songy voice which children despise, the speaker used words which no child could understand. This could have been a moment for “Godly Play”.

I plead for the abolition of children’s sermons! 99.9% of them are awful.

But there were great moments. Pastor Clay Thomas preaches so well. He has a tentative humour which is lovely. And his sermon was thoughtful, and thought provoking as he meditated from the Scripture (Matthew 9:1-9).

And the invitation to Communion was welcoming and embracing. None could resist the invitation to “Eat this Bread and Drink this Cup”.

We were served real bread and grape juice.

(Episcopalians use fake bread and fermented wine).

One day we shall each use real bread and fine wine!

And that (un-stated) was the core of Pastor Thomas’s message. G-d offers true bread and intoxicating wine to we the disciples of Jesus; so that we may be agents of sustaining bread real food) to a hungry world; and tipsy joy to the hopeless.

It’s all about grace. That clearly is at the heart of Pastor Thomas.