Saturday, 18 October 2008

Credo: sixth and final report

Before you read my final report on CREDO (which I know you long to do!), please watch the marvelous John Cleese on Palin/McCain


It was wonderful to see two former Western Massachusetts colleagues at CREDO, Marilyle Sweet Page from Rochester, NY, and Denis Ford now in Colorado.

Marilyle had been in Westfield, MA. Denis had been in Springfield, MA, and later he was in Lee MA.

I enjoyed these colleagues in Western Mass, and it was great to see them again.

Since those days Marilyle’s husband had died, as had Dennis’ wife. Denis is now very happily re-married.

There were new colleagues to meet. Most were fine and enjoyable new acquaintances, but there were also two or three doozies. I relaxed in the thought that I’d never have to meet the doozies again. (Perhaps they thought the same about me!).

But on the whole I am happy to say that I was with a good group of retired colleagues, all my peers.

I liked most of them, and most of them liked me.


I drove Ben to a new opened Wine Store which he was anxious to see. The variety of wine was astounding. Ben thought that that process were excellent, and he bought $100 worth of good wines.

After lunch at a Japanese/Chinese restaurant we went to see the Bill Maher docu/movie

It was amusing enough, though a bit sophomoric. Bill was good in poking holes in religious argumentation, but he did not get anywhere near the idea (which I share) that the Bible must be understood as myth.

Friday, 17 October 2008

Credo: fifth report

CREDO provided a skilled faculty, members of which enabled plenary sessions, workshops, worship and individual consultations.

We were led in such on the four themes of health, finance, spiritual life and vocation.

Daily Worship in the Chapel was gentle and filled with lovely quietness. The rhythm of daily worship and the lusty singing of hymns brought a sense of well being.

But I lamented the lack of inclusive language. God was always referred to as “he”, and most of the pronouns were in the masculine gender.

John Harris of Cincinnati, OH and Phyllis Strupp of Scottsdale, AZ excelled in the areas of finance. John was particularly good in matters relation to taxes; the Church Pension Fund; and Social Security/Medicare. Phyllis excelled in her plenary and in an individual consultation on long term financial planning.

Mary Margaret Davis RN, of Alaska was great on health. She had a “guilt free”, and encouraging attitude to matters of diet and exercise.

Ernie Bennett of Florida was a joy to meet - he is such a well grounded and humorous man. His plenary on “vocation” was amusing at the time, but I cannot recall a word of his content!

Perrin Radley of Maine, and John Harmon of Washington DC were “in charge” of worship.

Perrin was the pianist for the services and he played wonderfully. He helped us sing well.
His homily had good content, but was delivered in a stilted style.

John led a plenary on “spirituality” which left me numb. It was so wordy and so complicated. I “checked out” about 1/3 of the way into his speech, and dozed off to sleep.

Yet I had a one on one consultation with John (making an old fashioned confession) which left me refreshed and filled with joy.

The star of the show was Jo Ann Hardy of Michigan. She was the conference administrator, and thanks to her there was not a glitch in all the arrangements.

Jo Ann is the kind of person you’d love to hire to arrange a family re-union; or a trip to Kazakhstan, Peru and The Gambia. She would get it right!



I was at the bank to cash a cheque. As I returned to my car, a couple was getting out of their vehicle parked alongside mine. The wife said “we love your bumper sticker”. It was for OBAMA.

Later I stopped at a traffic light alongside a car which also had an Obama sticker. I tooted my horn and the driver looked over. As he saw my “thumbs up” he grinned from ear to ear, and returned the gesture.

We are two and a half weeks away from the General Election, and “hope springs eternal”

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Credo: fourth report

One measure of a Conference Centre is the quality of the food. Duncan Conference Cente excelled in this field.

We were provided with a constant supply of reasonably healthy snacks, sodas, juices and iced tea. Coffee (that great Sacrament of the Church!), was available from 6:30 a.m. until 10:30 p.m.

Breakfast included oatmeal, grits, sausage, egg and bacon, together with sweet pastries. For diet conscious folks like I there was also fresh fruit in abundance.

Lunch saw good salads and soups, together with a hot main course, or sandwich fixings.

For dinner there was the usual meat (usually pork or chicken); lovely vegetables (crunchy and not over-cooked); and various carbs., such as pasta or rice.

So I was able to stay on diet, and gained but a pound in one week.

I did let loose on Friday night when we were served a barbecue. I enjoyed a cheeseburger (without bread), a barbecued chicken leg, and barbecued shrimp. I enjoyed being off diet for one night!

Hats off to the Duncan Conference Centre, for good food, and a rich variety.


My good friends Dain and Constance Perry from Charlestown (Boston), MA were here for dinner tonight.

Dain is one of the two sons of my great mentors Kitty and DeWolf Perry.

Many Perry family cousins are engaged in showings of “Traces of the Trade”, the story of their ancestor, the Bristol, R.I. slaver James DeWolf.

See for details of this film.

Dain and Constance are in town for a showing of the film at the Convention of the Diocese of South West Florida (Friday and Saturday in Bradenton, FL - just a few miles north of here).

I made a tasty salad with spinach, orange peppers, good tomatoes and sliced red onions.

This was followed with my home made “Black Bean Soup”. The recipe calls for black beans; cooked and sliced up bacon; with diced tomatoes, sautéed onions and garlic; and chili powder, all cooked in chicken broth. I added some sautéed and sliced up chorizo to spice it up.

There is no point in being modest - it was very, very good. Simple cooking of casseroles and soups is a cinch!

Good food is good!!!

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Credo: third report

Behold “Generation Y”
(thanks to Pam B who sent me this).

Here is the CREDO “Mission Statement”

To provide opportunities for people to examine significant areas oftheir lives and to discern prayerfully the future direction of their vocation as they respond to God's call in a lifelong process of practice and transformation.

Sure sounds like gobble-de-gook to me! But then again, I take a dim view of most “mission statements”.

I believe that most groups/committees/ boards etc take endless hours to produce a “mission statement”, then having published the same with a fanfare of self-congratulation, the statement is ignored or forgotten.

(I also take a jaded view of words such as “vision”, or “transformation” which are employed by organizations such as CREDO. “Planning” is a much more realistic word than “vision”, and “change” a more realistic word than “transformation”!)

But at CREDO 156, we did take a look at significant areas of our lives viz: health, money, spirituality, and vocation.

We did this by means of lectures, workshops, liturgies, informal conversations, personal time with faculty members, and small group work.

I found some good help and guidance in the areas of money and health.

CREDO gave me some tools to continue to take care of my health, and I learned that my income and small savings should be quite adequate for the foreseeable future.

I did not spend much time thinking about my “spiritual life”.
This is because I do not believe in “spiritual lives”.

I believe that we each have lives - period (or full stop in U.K. English!).

Those lives have possibilities for body, mind, and spirit - but to think that we can concentrate on one aspect (e.g. the life of the mind, or the body, or the spirit) is to lead us away from wholeness (integration), into sickness (fragmentation).

Mission statement or not, I gained some useful information at CREDO, all in an atmosphere of good comrade-ship, with no “should” or “oughts”.

Some 3,000 clerics in the Episcopal Church have attended CREDO since its beginning in 1997. I believe that this has helped to create a group of Priests and Bishops who are well in body, mind and spirit; and who are well able to lead our beloved Church.

The Moon was full last night (Oct 14th) It cast a wondrous beauty, and I went outside at about 9:00 p.m. to enjoy it. It was equally lovely when I walked at 6:00 a.m. today.

Things disappear! I used my keys to drive, and to get into my home late this afternoon (Oct 15th). But I am darned if I can find them now. Good thing that I have a set of spares!

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Credo: second report

Duncan Conference Center, Delray Beach, FL

On the first two days of the CREDO conference we were all much like cats.

Some folks were sniffing at each other, wondering if they’d get along.

Others (such as I) were prowling around on the edge of things, showing up for food, but all the while looking for an escape route should one be necessary.

By the end of the conference there had not been one single cat fight. We were each resolved to get along.

But I was sharpening my claws “just in case”. One woman “drove me crazy”. She kept up a running commentary in the plenary sessions, and was always the first to answer a question.

Then I realized that she was not a constantly mewing cat, rather she was simply “thinking out loud”. So I was able to tune out her babble and did not need to get mad.

Inevitably a couple of participants prowled at the edges all week. I could but hope that they were enjoying the event even though they were not “joiners”.

Of course I was missing Ada and Adelaide, but the Conference Center had its own cat “Monk”, a stray who had adopted the Center. I befriended this very shy cat, and was in cat heaven when he jumped up on the bench besides me, and then relaxed on my lap.
Back at home

I turned into Calliandra Drive (the street which leads to our condo. complex) today, and there they were - two of those gorgeous Sandhill Cranes.
They are such lovely creatures, and they mate for life. You never see one without the other.

Sadly they are fearless around humans, and all too many of them get killed on the streets and highways.

Later in the day I had an hour’s worth of oral surgery. It was all but painless, but I have a big fat upper lip.
The pain will come when the Novocain wears off.

The most painful bit was not being able to talk for an hour!

Monday, 13 October 2008

Credo: first report

With two former Western Mass
colleagues, at CREDO
Dennis Ford and Mary Lyle Sweet Page

I have just returned from CREDO # 156 at Delray Beach, Florida, (a four hour drive from my home)

For more information about CREDO see

I’ll write about the Conference every day this week.

For now, I’ll tell you about the moment the ice was broken.

Conference attendee Alan Grant of Minneapolis was talking. He told us about his recent bout with prostate cancer, and the removal of a cancerous place on the tip of his tongue.

He said: “because I had surgery on the tip of my tongue I talk funny. If you can’t understand me --- tough shit”.

From then onwards we each let down our guards!

A couple of days later Alan came up to me and without explanation began to recite a very old limerick. I’d heard the limerick years ago, but was still reduced to helpless giggles

“On the chest of a barmaid from Yale
were tattooed all the prices of ale;
and on her behind
for the sake of the blind,
was the same information in Braille.”