Saturday, 4 October 2008

Blog Sabbatical

This blog will take a sabbatical.

Check in again on Oct 13th or 14th (2008)

Friday, 3 October 2008

This and that

My older cat Ada has been unwell.

She has been using the Litter Box about every half hour, and this morning she left spots of blood on the ceramic hall tiles.

I feared the worst, but after a day at the Veterenarians it was discoverd that she has an U.T. infection. The vet administered a single shot of anti-biotics. That should take care of matters.

When I brought her home she gobbled down a whole mess of cat food - the poor cat had been hungry all day long.

As one who was formerly indifferent to cats I suprised myself at the depth of my concern for dear Ada.

And Adelaide, my younger cat was mewing all day long. I like to think that she missed her "sister" cat.

I'll be in Delray Beach (on the east coast of FL) next week. The following is a "canned" press release which will tell you what I'll be about.

After Sunday 5th you'll not see a blog entry from me for a week.

Nor will I be able to respond to any e-mails.


The Rev. J. Michael Povey to attend CREDO Conference

The Rev. J. Michael Povey has accepted an invitation to attend a CREDO conference from October 6-13, 2008 at the Duncan Conference Center located in Delray Beach, Florida.

The eight-day conference provides participants with the means to find direction and clarity in four component areas: spiritual, physical, vocational, and financial. CREDO provides a foundation for participants to embrace wellness and to prayerfully discern the direction of their vocation.

CREDO was founded in 1997 as a pilot program funded by The Church Pension Group. Episcopal clergy, deacons and bishops from virtually every diocese in the country have taken advantage of the CREDO benefit. Participants are selected at random from all active clergy with more than one year in the Pension Fund. The Church Pension Fund pays all but $500 of the conference costs.

The Rev. J. Michael Povey will join approximately 30 other clergy in the CREDO conference. Over the course of the conference, participants will meet in plenary sessions, small groups and private consultations with faculty members. Participants also have ample quiet time to reflect on their personal and professional lives.

Each participant commits to extensive reflection through pre-conference instruments and surveys that focus on personal and professional wellness. The work of CREDO is organized around four major areas in each person’s personal and professional life. Each of these components is explored as an integral part of the whole.

• Spiritual – offers a sacred space where each participant can reflect on his or her interior life and relationship with God in Christ.
• Vocational – provides opportunities for reflection, discernment, and planning in the professional areas of vocation, career, and work.
• Health – encourages reflection on physical and emotional health and well-being, stewardship of the body, and development of a plan to address the individual’s health needs.
• Financial – explores all aspects of personal financial management and encourages reflection on God-given resources and how best to use them in response to God’s call.

Through this discernment and visioning process, and with the help of a faculty team of professionals, each participant builds a CREDO Plan – a personal covenant based on his or her CREDO work and a formal expression of the CREDO experience. The CREDO Plan provides a personal baseline and strategy for effective implementation.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

One year on

A year ago today my friend Bruce Wirtz died, aged only 72.

I miss him dreadfully.

One of the chief reasons for my retirement to Sarasota was that Bruce was here, together with his wonderful partner Ben.

Now Bruce is no longer with us.

So I pal around with Ben (aged 84). We see each other most days, and we are good for each other.

I am still upset that Bruce died.

I am very grateful for Ben’s friendship.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Horse feathers (thank you "MASH") and the real stuff

I met a Farrier today. He lives in Bradenton, FL, and has a mobile forge. He serves the many horses in this area.

He volunteered at Res. House and I was his “trainer”.
It’s been a long time since I heard the word “Farrier”, and our encounter brought back many memories.

There was a Forge and a Blacksmith (Smithy) near to the school, Eastville Junior Mixed School, which I attended between 1953 and 1955. Even then we knew that the Farrier’s art was fast disappearing.

But we still saw the occasional horse and cart on Devon Road. Every now and then a Mounted Policeman might pass by.

Our neighbour Mr. Hurkett (across the street) had a keen ear for horses’ hoofs.

Whenever he heard such he would rush outside with a shovel and wheel cart. He would hope for “hors d’oeuvres” (horse droppings) with which he would fertilise his backyard crop of rhubarb.

Back then (1949 – 1955) we thought that he was crazy. Now I know that he was wise.

Farriers, backyard crops, and horse manure are good.

You heard this from me first!

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

The Phantom of the Opera

The Phantom of the Opera in the American political and financial crisis is Ronald Wilson Reagan. We are haunted by his ghost.

Ronald Wilson Reagan claimed all too much credit for the breakup of the Soviet Union. His jubilation was premature. A newly confident and oil/gas rich Russia rises to claim its Soviet era hegemony.

Ronald Reagan taught us that big Government was the problem. He allowed us to believe that taxes were in and of themselves a bad thing. He was the apostle of the de-regulation of the so-called free market. He lived and breathed myths about such matters as Evil Empires and Welfare Queens. He cared not one fig about the AIDS crisis which emerged in his Presidency. He nominated the most dreadful Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Anton Scalia. He ran up record national deficits, surpassed only by those of his disciple George Walker Bush.

George Herbert Walker Bush followed Reagan’s economic myths (and was undone when he was forced to raise taxes - we all had read his lips!). He pursued a more realistic and modest foreign policy.

William Jefferson Clinton was a Reaganite in all but name, though he did restore the national budget to balance, and even surplus.

George Walker Bush is the Reaganite par excellence.

“Anti-government, anti-taxes, imperialistic foreign policy” are the Reagan doctrines he has most fervently embraced (even as he probably did not understand them).

The results of the Reagan doctrine have led us to the present disaster.

Our Foreign policy has made us the laughing stock or despair of the sensible world.

De-regulation for de-regulation’s sake has led us to a fiscal crisis beyond belief.

We were until two weeks ago officially “anti big government”: now Reagan’s heirs are telling us that more Government is the answer to our problems.

The present Administration believes firmly in welfare for corporations; socialism for the crooked bankers/ investment houses; and golden parachutes for failed C.E.O’s.

Yet they still tell us that taxes are bad, blithely leaving a huge pile of debt for our grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

The General Election is five weeks away.

John Sidney McCain has prostituted all that he ever stood for, to emerge as John McSame. Can we survive four more years of the same?

Sarah Palin is ill equipped to be the Superintendent of Cemeteries in Wasilla, Alaska let alone to be the Veep, within a heartbeat of the Presidency.

(McSame’s choice of this pistol packin’ Momma reveals that he is not only a prostitute, but also a “John”)

Barack Hussein Obama will not be able to effect the changes which are necessary without the wholehearted support of the American people. I am not sure that this will be readily forthcoming.

But I will work for his election, and vote for him, for at the very least he will bring a change of tone, marked by humility and a well informed mind. (It will be nice to have an educated President!)

Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr. for Veep? Where is Waldo Joe in this campaign?

But he, (unlike Sarah “Russia is at my back door” Palin) has some experience which could fit him for the Presidency.

My fervent hope is that in this election, the ghost of Ronald Wilson Reagan will sooner, rather than later be exorcised.

((see for Christopher Hitchens on Reagan)

(Also see below for my link to a great blog article by my friend and colleague Elizabeth Kaeton, entitled “The Anglo Files” )

Telling Secrets: The Anglo Files

Telling Secrets: The Anglo Files#

Monday, 29 September 2008

In the face of recession

At the local Publix Market this afternoon I bumped into Randy, a Mennonite Minister who sometimes volunteers at Resurrection House.

He is a gentle and sweet man who lives up to the very best of Mennonite traditions.

We chatted about his congregation and he related that last Sunday they had an informal conversation regarding their common fears on the cusp of a Presidential election, and with the American economy in the tank.

(Unemployment is all around, and all too many houses have been abandoned, or are in foreclosure – you know the story wherever you live).

We agreed that our response as Christians is that we will share. However hard the times become (and they will become harder) – we will share.

We will share food, and money, and bedrooms before our sisters and brothers become homeless or destitute.
We will share our fears.
We will share our hope in Christ Jesus.
We will share our laughter.

And we will remember, that to a greater or lesser extent, we have all benefited from the mock prosperity of recent years.

I have a few personal choices.

• I will cancel all my credit cards, save one for “emergencies”.

• I will cut off the bits of fruits and vegetables which have gone bad, and eat the rest, rather than throwing the whole item away.

• I will make lists afore I shop, and stick to them, lest I should be tempted to make impulse purchases.

• I will resist the temptation to drive to the supermarket for that “one thing” which I forgot, and which can wait until another time.

• I will use cold water for my laundry, knowing that most of my clothing, sheets, towels etc do not need hot water.

• I will (as I already do) shop and thrift and second hand stores. I do not need everything I own or wear to be brand new.

• I will NEVER give up on hope for a better, simpler world.

Please let me know your plans to deal with the upcoming recession. I’ll value your advice.


Sunday, 28 September 2008

All Angels Church this morning, and F.W.Faber

F.W. Faber 1814-1863 was an Anglican Clergyman, who became a Roman Catholic in the 19th Century “Catholic Revival” in England.

We heard one of his hymns at All Angels on Longboat Key this morning. More about this later.

Faber (even as a Roman Catholic) was capable of the most evangelical sentiments.

For instance take this text from his hymn known either as “Souls of Men why will ye scatter, like a crowd of frightened sheep?” or “There’s a wideness in God’s mercy.

For the love of God is broader than the measure of man's mind,
and the heart of the Eternal is most wonderfully kind.
But we make his love too narrow by false limits of our own;
and we magnify its strictness with a zeal he will not own.

Magnifying the strictness of God’s love is the besetting sin of both Catholic and Evangelical expression of Christianity. Faber got it right!

But Faber could also be very sentimental. See for example the last four lines of “Souls of Men".

If our love were but more simple,
we should take him at his word:
and our lives would be all sunshine
in the sweetness of our Lord.

Of course, no lives are ever all sunshine in the sweetness of the Lord. Modern hymnals have improved Faber’s sentiment by rendering the last two lines thus:

“and our lives would be thanksgiving
for the goodness of the Lord.

That’s more realistic!

Faber hits a wonderful tone in a verse from his “My God, how wonderful thou art”

No earthly father loves like Thee,
No mother, e’er so mild,
Bears and forbears as Thou hast done
With me, Thy sinful child.

But then he gets all sentimental again in the concluding stanza

“Father of Jesus, love’s rewards
What rapture will it be,
Prostrate before they throne to lie
And gaze, and gaze on Thee”

Sounds very uncomfortable to me! And eternity of prostration - really!

Faber also wrote “Faith of our Fathers”, which as recently as the mid seventies of the 20th Century, was a favourite in Episcopal Church.

We would sing:

“Faith of our Fathers, faith and prayer
Shall win all nations unto thee”

We did not know that Faber wrote:

“Faith of our Fathers, Mary’s prayers
Shall win our nation unto thee”

In other words, the prayers of the Blessed Virgin Mary would return England to the Roman Catholic faith!

Back at All Angels this morning the soloist and choir sang a Communion Anthem by F.W. Faber, with a tune by Henry Smart.

I was immediately transported back some 40 years when I last sang the hymn. I remembered most of the words, and all of the harmonies.

Back then it was one of my favourite hymns.

Now I see it as sentimental rubbish.

But I was glad to be taken back this morning to my early 20’s, when my faith was much more assured than it is today.

Here is the text.

Hark! hark, my soul! angelic songs are swelling,
o'er earth's green fields and ocean's wave-beat shore:
how sweet the truth those bless├Ęd strains are telling
of that new life when sin shall be no more.

Refrain:Angels of Jesus, angels of light,singing to welcome the pilgrims of the night!

Onward we go, for still we hear them singing,
"Come, weary souls, for Jesus bids you come";
And through the dark, its echoes sweetly ringing,
the music of the gospel leads us home.


Far away, like bells at evening pealing,
the voice of Jesus sounds o'er land and sea;
and laden souls, by thousands meekly stealing,
kind Shepherd, turn their weary steps to thee.


Rest comes at length: though life be long and dreary,
the day must dawn, and darksome night be past;
faith's journeys end in welcome to the weary,and heaven,
the heart's true home, will come at last.


Angels, sing on, your faithful watches keeping;
sing us sweet fragments of the songs above,
till morning's joy shall end the night of weeping,
and life's long shadows break in cloudless love.