Saturday, 26 July 2008

Monda, Mondial, Mondeo, Mundane

One of the regular guests at Res. House is William Monda. I always call him “William of the World”, and this seems to amuse him.

I think that his name is rooted in a French word, which has been adopted without change into English, viz: mondial “ of whole world: relating to or involving the entire world”

An Italian Car manufacturer knew this, and so marketed their Ferrari Mondial.

As did the Ford Motor Company with their “Mondeo” models.

Also related is the word “mundane”

I found the following in an on line dictionary.


Middle English mondeyne, from Anglo-French mundain, from Late Latin mundanus, from Latin mundus world

15th century

1 : of, relating to, or characteristic of the world 2 : characterized by the practical, transitory, and ordinary : COMMONPLACE

I got to “mondeo”, “mondial” and “monda” as a result of looking up the etymology of the word “mundane”. For I had decided to call today’s blog entry - “A mundane day”

That it was, and all the better for it. After my early coffee I fed the cats (and by the way, they are still gorgeous, wonderful and happy members of my household).

Then I walked for an hour in the cool of the early morning. I returned home to write some cheques (checks) for various bills, including one for my ultra expensive health care insurance.

At about 11:00 a.m. I began to prepare lunch for the guests who were due to arrive at Noon. I made a Waldorf salad which I served on a bed of Romaine lettuce, together with some grilled chicken strips.

My guests were good Ben Morse, my fine neighbour David Foster, and a lovely couple from south Sarasota, Ron and Charlotte Thompson.

After lunch I tootled up to Sam’s Club to get my new spectacles, and then frittered away the balance of the day.

It has been a mundane day, and for that I am most grateful. There is a certain contentment in the ordinary.

Friday, 25 July 2008

The Audacity of Hope and Jeremy.

Jeremy is homeless. He is 18 years old, tall, skinny, with a gap between to his top front teeth. He dresses as well has he can, and is careful to shower every day at Res. House. And to iron his clothes after they have been washed.

He dropped out of school when in 10th grade, and has been more or less on the streets since he was 16.

To say that his background was dysfunctional is to say the least, and to call it a family would degrade that word.

Both of his parents are drug addicts, and his father has recently been sentenced to seven years in the slammer.

He has a sister but when Jeremy said that he hoped her children would not be taken away from her that gave me some indication of her dysfunction.

Jean F is one of our finest volunteers. She has a concern and passion for Jeremy’s well being. She moved heaven and earth last Monday to get Jeremy into a residential programme at the Salvation Army.

By Wednesday Jeremy had left the “Sally”. He could not hack the rules. I called Jean F. To tell her this bad news, but neither of us were shocked or surprised.

For Jeremy has no faculty from which to make good decisions, no framework on which to build a good life. And that’s not his fault.

I saw him on Thursday at Res. House. He was excited because he was going to Nokomis where he had been offered two days of work as a so-called landscaper. Nokomis is some ten miles south of SRQ, but as far as Jeremy was concerned, he was as excited as you or I would be if we were about to take a Mediterranean cruise.

He said that he would be staying overnight at a home in Nokomis. Of course I fear that he has been picked up by some would be “sugar daddy”. Jeremy does not have the experience to figure out that possibility.

The “system” is simply not set up in a way which could have helped Jeremy in his younger years, nor in a way which could help him today.

No wonder we need those “faith based programs” which have proven effective with kids like Jeremy. And I do not particularly worry if they receive government funds, just as long as there are not “government strings”.

Senator Obama’s “Audacity of Hope” may ring true with the educated blue and middle classes. But it means not a damn thing to the Jeremys of this world. For they have no vantage point from which to glimpse even a sliver of hope.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Jesse Stickler and Barack Obama

Years ago, when I worked for the Westminster Bank in England, I met a man whose name was Jesse Stickler. Jesse was a bank inspector, which meant that he was one of that dreaded cadre of Westminster Bank employees who would descend, without notice on a branch bank to make sure that we were not cooking the books.

Jesse lived up to his name. He was a stickler.

I met him when I was a member of the Westminster Bank Christian Fellowship. The Bristol (U.K.) chapter would have occasional meetings at his home in Bitton, near Bristol.

Jesse was a dour man, a Methodist of the old school. I cannot forget the time he said “I’ve never thought that hope was a very valuable commodity”. That comment seemed to sum up his name and his character.

And now, Senator Barack Obama is campaigning for the Presidency on his slogan “the audacity of hope”. That slogan rocks for many of us.

We see it in the light of Senator John McSame, who has nothing to offer save the failed and disastrous policies of the Bush/Cheney Junta.

“The audacity of hope”. Who could fail to be moved at the fact that Senator Obama attracted a crowd of 200,000 in Berlin today?

It reminded us of those hallowed days when the United States was a beacon of hope for all of Europe. Days which Reagan/Bush/ Cheney have squandered.

“The audacity of hope”. These are words which are rooted in the Christian gospel, (‘though I sometimes wonder if Christian hope is anything more than a con-job).

“The audacity of hope”. I so much want to believe in Barack Obama’s message. But I wonder.

We were all so hopeful when William Jefferson Clinton was elected President. He did many good things, but failed the trouser zipper test.

We were all so hopeful when Tony Blair became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom after 11 years of miserable Tory rule. But we ended up despising him.

Bill Clinton and Tony Blair made the classical mistake of all leaders. They believed their own propaganda.

It’s more than likely that Senator Obama will make the same mistake. But I will still vote for him. Hope is to be preferred over McSame.

And tomorrow I will tell you about Jeremy, who has no hope, and with good reason.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

'Nothing of importance happened today.'

From NPR:

“In the past we've said that "on July 4th, 1776, George III, king of England, wrote in his diary, 'Nothing of importance happened today.'"

Turns out we were taken in by an old historic myth.

"King George III never kept a diary," says Arnold Hunt, curator of historical manuscripts at the British Library. "The quote is a variation of another well-known story from the French revolution," he says.

On July 14, 1789 — the date of the storming of the Bastille — Louis XVI of France wrote in his diary "rien (nothing)." Hunt says Louis was referring to a hunting trip where he came back empty-handed.”


But so far as the Lambeth Conference of Bishops is concerned: 'Nothing of importance happened today.'

If you do not believe me, or if you are a Lambethaholic, check out this amazing website.

The Journalists and Bloggers are going wild with boredom.


Meanwhile back in SRQ: 'Nothing of importance happened today.'

“Unique Air” provided great service and my a/c was up and running by 10:30 a.m.

I picked up my car and paid a huge bill at Gettel Hyundai.

Ben and I went to the Asolo Theatre and enjoyed a terrific performance by some Chinese Acrobats. (But I’d kept on getting confused and told Ben that we were going to see the pygmies!)

Now a huge storm is brewing, so I must go off line

July 23rd 8:22 p.m.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

The minor inconvenies of life

I took my car to the Dealer this morning, (July 22nd) for a 30,000 mile service. I’d thought that I was covered by my service plan, but discovered that the plan covers oil changes etc only.

My sticker shock was when the service manager told me that this particular service would cost me nigh on $600. Ouch.

He called me later in the day to say that the car needed two new hoses, which would not be available until tomorrow (July 23rd). So I have been land-locked for the day.

True I could have taken a one mile walk to the ‘bus stop, but that’s not great when it is 90 F outside.

Good old Ben drove me to the market so that I could buy some veggies which I needed for dinner. He is of the “step on the brakes hard, and step on the accelerator hard” school of driving, so riding with him is always a bit of an adventure.

But that was not the greatest of my adventures.

My air conditioning unit has gone caput. The service techy from “Unique Air” arrived at 5:20 p.m. He thinks that there is a leak in the Freon system. It cannot be repaired until the morning.

So I am sweating a gallon a minute, and trying to stay cooler with some fans. It’s marginally cooler outside than in, so I have all the doors and windows open.

Oh for the hills of Vermont!

It all reminds me of two of the disadvantages of living in SRQ. We need air conditioning almost year round; and our ‘bus service is not great.

But then again, it does not snow here in winter!

This too shall pass!

Monday, 21 July 2008

The glitch which could have de-railed my plan to move to the States/

My plans to move to the United States almost fell apart. This was because of a reckless act on my part.

Sometime in April/May 1976 I had been at home in Bristol for a weekend. I had the use of a car (I cannot remember how or why, but I did not own a car at that time).

On my way back to Nottingham, I stopped off at a gay bar somewhere in rural Derbyshire. There I met a man of my age with who I had a brief, but very pleasurable, let's say “assignation or liaison”.

I got back to Seminary in the wee hours of Sunday morning, and awoke in the morning racked with guilt/shame/ regret. I tuned into the BBC, and by God-incidence heard a religious radio program – a meditation on the following text:

A Hymn to God the Father

WILT Thou forgive that sin where I begun
Which was my sin though it were done before?
Wilt Thou forgive that sin through which I run
And do run still though still I do deplore?
When Thou hast done Thou hast not done;
For I have more.

Wilt Thou forgive that sin which I have won
Others to sin and made my sins their door?
Wilt Thou forgive that sin which I did shun
A year or two but wallow'd in a score?
When Thou hast done Thou hast not done;
For I have more.

I have a sin of fear that when I've spun
My last thread I shall perish on the shore;
But swear by Thyself that at my death Thy Son
Shall shine as He shines now and heretofore:
And having done that Thou hast done;
I fear no more.

It’s a wonderful text by the 17th Century Priest and Poet John Donne. “Donne” is pronounced “done”, and the whole poem contains a great pun on his name.

As I listened to the radio programme, and heard John Donne’s words, I knew myself to be forgiven.

So, with confidence I told the whole story to a dear Seminary friend who had graduated the year before, and was back at St. John’s College for a meeting. (I had been the best man at his wedding)

He immediately related this to the Principal (Dean) of the Seminary, saying “I believe that Michael Povey is unfit to be ordained”. Then he told me what he had done.

So I had some music to face. I met with that Principal (now a Bishop) and told him my sorry tale. After extensive counselling he gave me “sacramental absolution”, and told me that the matter would rest there, and that he would not tell my Bishop. (I have never forgotten his wisdom and grace!)

But he added that I should report this affair to DeWolf Perry, who would be my mentor/supervisor at Good Shepherd in Fitchburg.

I wrote to DeWolf, expecting the worst. He had a Post Office mail box. The day my letter arrived he’d gone to the Post Office to mail a letter to me. But first he read my sorry letter.

Then, knowing that I would be anxious, he scribbled a note on the envelope of the letter he was planning to mail to me.

It read something like this: “Received your letter. Don’t worry. All will be well, and we can talk about this when you arrive”.
No wonder that I loved and respected DeWolf so much!

And I forgave my Seminary friend years ago. I last met him some 20 years ago when he was Chaplain at Clare College, Cambridge, U.K. He is now a Canon at Westminster Abbey.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Teaching Sermon July 20th 2008

Sermon for June 20th 2008.
The Revd. J. Michael Povey, at St. David’s, Englewood, FL.
Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43
Wheat and weeds: Let both of them grow together until the harvest.

This snippet of a verse from Matthew’s Gospel is a slender reed on which to build a sermon. But I believe that it is strong enough to support what I have to say.

If you have any interest in the doing of the Anglican Communion, you will know that most of her Bishops are now gathered for their once every ten year’s Conference in Canterbury, England. It is called the “Lambeth Conference” because the first of such gatherings took place in “Lambeth Palace” the London home of the Archbishops of Canterbury. I say “most”, because some Bishops have chosen to absent themselves. I’ll get back to this later.

Until a few years ago, many American Episcopalians did not know that they were also Anglicans. They did not know that we are united in a fellowship of tradition, love and concern with Christians like us, throughout the world. The Episcopal Church is part of the Anglican Communion.

That Communion is in many senses an accident of history. It grew out of the British colonial drive, as a result of which parishes of the Church of England were established wherever there were British colonies. In due course as the colonies with white governments – Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa were given self government as “Dominions” within the Empire, so their Church of England Parishes formed national Churches, such as “The Church of England in Canada”, later to be re-named the Anglican Church of Canada.

The big exception was the American Church, which formed itself as the “Missionary Society of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States “and gained its own independence and autonomy as a result of our own War of Independence.

Then when Britain began to de-colonise, starting with India and Pakistan in 1948, and then moving to Africa, the West Indies, and Asia, the Churches in those former colonies became self-governing and autonomous.

Thus the Anglican Communion “happened”. It is a worldwide fellowship of some 42 autonomous Churches, recognized and loved by the Archbishop of Canterbury. He is the spiritual head of the Communion. He has no legal authority outside of England. We call him “primus inter pares”, that is “first among equals”. He it is who issues the invitations to this Lambeth Conference.

The word “Anglican” is not copyrighted. Sadly it is used all too often by groups which have left the Episcopal Church for one reason or another - the 1976 Prayer Book, the Ordination of Women, the consecration of Bishop Gene Robinson, etc., etc. At my last count there were fifty - yes fifty independent denominations, each claiming to be the true Anglican Church.

In many ways, that should not surprise us. For the Anglican Communion has always been very untidy. This is partly because, thank God, we do not have centralized authority. We have no person or institution which is remotely like the Pope or the Vatican. Nor should we long for such, lest we become like the ancient Israelites. They longed for a King, but got a series of despots.

Because of their very untidiness, Anglican Churches have always had their reform movements. This is rooted in our particular history.

We go back, inevitably to King Henry VIII of England. He was a particularly unsavoury character, but he never was a Protestant. Henry wanted an English Catholic Church, answerable not to the Pope, but to him. He allowed but very modest reforms.

When Henry died, his nine year old son Edward became King. He was clearly under the control of Protestant leaning nobles. An English Prayer Book was issued in 1549, and yet another in 1552. The Church was becoming Protestant along Continental lines. But Edward VI died when he was 16.

His half sister Mary Tudor inherited the throne. She undid all the reforms, and placed the Church under the authority of Rome. A somewhat tragic figure, Mary alienated her subjects when she married King Francis of Spain. And she became reviled as “Bloody Mary”, as three hundred Protestants were burned at the stake in her brief reign. It was brief, for Mary died after five years as Queen.

Another half sister. Elizabeth became Monarch. She was to rule for forty years.
The mood of the country had swung to a decidedly Protestant place, and Elizabeth knew that she must allow reform. So she imposed a settlement on the Church, which gave it Protestant theology in a Catholic form.

It did not please everyone, and those who wished to purify the Church yet more were called Puritans. They were to have their heyday in the following century when, after the English Civil War, England became a “Commonwealth” under Oliver Cromwell, and the Church was protestantised.

It was when the Monarchy was restored under Charles II that the Church of England returned to that Elizabethan settlement.

Imperfect as it is, that Elizabethan settlement has been challenged down through the centuries by many reform movements.

I note two.

There was the Evangelical Revival spearheaded by the Wesleys, and nurtured by the godly Charles Simeon of Cambridge, England. This was essential a reform against dry and formal religion.

And there was a 19th Century reform movement from what we know as the Anglo-Catholic movement emerged. This was essentially a reform against the subjugation of the English Church to Parliament.

And the beat goes on. Even now, some two hundred Bishops, mostly from Africa, have declined to go to Lambeth, believing that the American, Canadian and English Churches are unfaithful to the Gospel. Their Churches will probably not leave the Anglican Communion, but will continue as a “Church within the Church”.

In addition, some Bishops were not invited to the Lambeth conference, most notably my good friend the Rt. Revd. Gene Robinson, Bishop of New Hampshire.

Anglicans have had their struggles and reform movements for well nigh four centuries. “There is nothing new under the sun”

In the midst of our present struggles, I pray that we shall not forget two important insights of Queen Elizabeth the First.

She famously said “We would not have windows into men’s souls”. We should mistrust any persons or movements who would wish to judge our souls.

Second. Elizabeth said: “As to matters of conscience, we would not molest our subjects, provided they be conformable”.

To be “conformable” meant simply to worship in the Church of England using the Book of Common Prayer.

In inelegant shorthand, that means “we won’t mess around with your conscientious beliefs so long as you agree to worship with us”.

These words of Elizabeth serve us well if we understand that we worship together in a mixed Church.

For we are the saved, the half saved, and the not sure that they want to be saved. We are true believers, half believers and agnostics. We are enthusiastic and jaded. We are high church, low church and bored to death with Church.

But we have covenanted to stay together, to stick in with each other “warts and all”, and to worship together. We do not wish to have windows into each others’ souls. We refuse to be purifiers.

We’ll leave that to the Lord of the Church who said
Wheat and weeds: “Let both of them grow together until the harvest”.