Saturday, 8 November 2008

Wise, sour and sweet

The outstanding Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, the Most Revd. Katherine J Schori spent five hours with the clerics of South West Florida yesterday.

She was little short of magnificent in her sermon (which I will publish tomorrow), and superb in her relaxed question and answer encounters with us.

Comfortable in her own skin, as cool as cucumber, filled with intelligence and wisdom, and extremely articulate – this spiritual leader delighted us all.

She talked about the necessity of “blessing” those with whom we disagree.

I returned home on a “high”, only to encounter my very difficult neighbour engaged in a tirade against our landscaper. Her language was foul, and she called him every name in the book - plus some which are not in any book.

I stood mute with the landscaper (I respect him greatly) and he kept his cool. Then she began to explain to me how she had caused damage in my car-port earlier in the day.

Lord only knows why she had been in my car-port, but it transpired that she had parked her car there whilst I was away.

I asked her to stay out of my property, and also to “stay out of my life”. (She truly is the most difficult person). Then I too was serenaded with an array of insulting language.

I went into the house knowing that I was incapable of “blessing her” – but remembering, thank God, that our Presiding Bishop had also talked about the importance of boundaries in human relationships.

After an early lunch today, I stretched out on my sofa for a nap. Ada, my shy cat, jumped up and stretched herself out on my tummy, so that she too could nap.

My two sweet cats more than make up for my sour neighbour

Friday, 7 November 2008

"Ship of Fools" and J. Michael Povey

This is the "Ship of Fools" Mystery worshipper report from when I presided and preached at St. Hilary's, Ft. Myers last August.

Bishop Gene Robinson meets President-elect Barack Obama

From Times Online
November 6, 2008
Barack Obama asked gay bishop Gene Robinson what it was like to be 'first'

The full interview
Barack Obama sought out controversial gay bishop Gene Robinson not just once but three times during his campaign to become President of the United States, The Times can reveal.
Bishop Robinson, the 80-million strong Anglican Communion’s only openly gay bishop whose consecration in 2003 has left the Anglican Communion on the brink of schism, was sought out by Mr Obama to discuss what it feels like to be “first”.

Bishop Robinson, who received death threats after his election as Bishop of New Hampshire and was advised by police to wear a bullet-proof vest at his consecration, also discussed with Mr Obama the risks incumbent upon being a high-profile leader in a country such as the US.
Bishop Robinson said: “At the end of the day you have to decide whether or not you are going to be paralysed by threats and by violent possibilities or whether you just move on and do what you feel called to do despite the risks.

Bishop Robinson, in London as a guest of the gay rights group Stonewall for its annual “Hero of the Year” awards dinner at the Victoria and Albert Museum tonight, said that Mr Obama’s campaign team had sought him last year and he had the “honour” of three private conversations with the future president of the United States last May and June.

“The first words out of his mouth were: ‘Well you’re certainly causing a lot of trouble’, My response to him was: ‘Well that makes two of us'.”

He said that Mr Obama had indicated his support for equal civil rights for gay and lesbian people and described the election as a “religious experience”.

Bishop Robinson described his conversations with him as part of Mr Obama’s “extraordinary” outreach to all religious communities, not just Christian groups. Mr Obama, although not a member of The Episcopal Church to which Bishop Robinson belongs, is a committed Christian with the United Church of Christ.

He said that the Mr Obama was taller than he had expected and described him as “Lincolnesque”, both literally and metaphorically. They discussed the dangers both of being demonised by opponents and idealised by supporters.

Bishop Robinson said: “And I must say I don’t know if it is an expression here in England or not but he is the genuine article. I think he is exactly who he says he is.”

The bishop, who services on The Episcopal Church pension fund board at national level, said that another member of the board, who had been friends with Mr Obama since college days, shared this view.

The bishop said: “He is impressive, he’s smart, he is an amazing listener. For someone who’s called on to speak all the time when he asks you a question it is not for show, he is actually wanting to know what you think and listens.”

He said that this made a refreshing change from the Bush regime. "We’ve had eight years of someone who has listened to almost no one.”

He added: “To see the tears in the eyes of African-Americans, it’s just been a profoundly, I would say religious, experience, very exciting.”

They spent more time discussing international issues than lesbians and gays. “He certainly indicated his broad and deep support for the full civil rights for gay and lesbian ... I pressed him on the Millennium Development Goals. I wanted to know whether he thought more about them than just they were a good idea but whether he had any intention of pushing for their full funding and so on.”

Bishop Robinson said he feared that the economic crisis might affect this agenda. “I hope the United States will not shirk its responsibilities in aid to the developing world. That’s going to be a hard-fought fight, not just with President Obama but all the powers in Washington.”

The Anglican church’s first gay bishop and the United States’ first black President-elect discussed in depth the place of religion in the state.

Bishop Robinson said: “He and I would agree about the rightful place of religion vis-a-vis the secular state. That is to say, we don’t impose our religious values on the secular state because God said so. Our faith informs our own values and then we take those values into the civil market place, the civil discourse, and then you argue for them based on the Constitution. You don’t say to someone, you must believe this because this is what God believes.

“I think God gives us our values and then we argue for those on the basis of the Constitution and care of our neighbour. And I think the Bush administration got very very close to the line if not going over the line in terms of offering support to religious-based groups who were using their social service arms to proselytise and evangelise which I would say is inappropriate.”

Bishop Robinson said that Mr Obama had not hesitated to talk about his faith.
“I find that remarkable, not only in a politician but also in a Democrat. For years it’s only been Republicans who wanted to talk about religion. All the Democratic candidates felt disposed to do so this year.”

Thursday, 6 November 2008

What love is (sentimental), and a joke

>>> What Love means to a 4-8 year old....>>>> Slow down for three minutes to read this. It is so worth it. Touching >> words from the mouth of babes.>>>> A group of professional people posed this question to a group of 4 to 8 >> year-olds, 'What does love mean?'>>>> The answers they got were broader and deeper than anyone could have >> imagined See what you think:>>>>>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------->>>>>>

'When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn't bend over and paint her >> toenails anymore.>> So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got >> arthritis too. That's love.'>>>> Rebecca- age 8>>>>

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------->>>>>> 'When When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different.>> You just know that your name is safe in their mouth.'>>>> Billy - age 4>>>>

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------->>>>>> 'Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne >> and they go out and smell each other.'>>>> Karl - age 5>>>>

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------->>>>>> 'Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French >> fries without making them give you any of theirs.'>>>> Chrissy - age 6>>>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------->>>>>>

'Love is what makes you smile when you're tired.'>>>> Terri - age 4>>>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------->>>>>>

'Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip >> before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK.'>>>> Danny - age 7>>>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------->>>>>> '

Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing, >> you still want to be together and you talk more.>> My Mommy and Daddy are like that. They look gross when they kiss'>>>> Emily - age 8>>>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------->>>>>>

'Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening >> presents and listen.'>>>> Bobby - age 7


'Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it >> everyday.'>>>> Noelle - age 7>>>>


'Love Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still >> friends even after they know each other so well.'>>>> Tommy - age 6>>>>


'During my piano recital, I was on a stage and I was scared. I looked at >> all the people watching me and saw my daddy waving and smiling.>>>> He was the only one doing that. I wasn't scared anymore.'>>>> Cindy - age 8>>>>

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------->>>>>> 'My mommy loves me more than anybody>> You don't see anyone else kissing me to sleep at night.'>>>> Clare - age 6>>>>


'Love is when Mommy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken.'>>>> Elaine-age 5>>>> ----------------


'Love is when Mommy sees Daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is >> handsomer than Brad Pitt.'>>>> Chris - age 7>>>>


'Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone >> all day.'>>>> Mary Ann - age 4>>>>

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------->>>>>> '

I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes >> and has to go out and buy new ones.'>>>> Lauren - age 4>>>>


>>>>>> 'When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars >> come out of you.' Karen - age 7>>>>


'Love is when Mommy sees Daddy on the toilet and she doesn't think it's >> gross.'>>>> Mark - age 6>>>>


'You really shouldn't say 'I love you' unless you mean it. But if you >> mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget.'>>>> Jessica - age 8>>>>

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------->>>>>> And the final one>>>>

The winner was a four year old child whose next door neighbor was an >> elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife.>>>> Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman's >> yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there.>>>> When his Mother asked what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy >> said,>>>> 'Nothing, I just helped him cry'

The joke

The year is 2016 and the United States has elected the first woman, aswell as the first Jewish president, Susan Goldfarb.

She calls up her mother a few weeks after election day and says, 'So,Mom, I assume you will be coming to my inauguration.

'I don't think so. It's a ten hour drive, your father isn't as young as he used to be, and please my arthritis is acting up again.'

'Don't worry about it Mom, I'll send Air Force One to pick you up and take
you home. And a limousine will pick you up at your door.'

'I don't know. Everybody will be so fancy-schmantzy, what on earth would I wear?'

'Oh Mom' replies Susan, 'I'll make sure you have a wonderful gowncustom-made by the best designer in New York '

'Honey,' Mom complains, 'you know I can't eat the fancy foods that you andyour friends like to eat.'

The President-to-be responds, 'Don't worry Mom. The entire affair is goingto be handled by the best caterer in New York , kosher all the way. Please, Mom,I really want you to come.'

So Mom reluctantly agrees and on January 21, 2017, Susan Goldfarb is beingsworn in as President of the United States .

In the front row sits the new president's mother, who leans over to a senator sitting next to her.

'You see that woman over there with her hand on the Torah, becoming President of the United States ?'

The Senator whispers back, 'Yes, I do.'

Says Mom proudly, 'Her brother is a doctor

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Whoop de doo!

I am so happy, and so tired! I stayed up until 12:30 a.m. today (Nov 5th), and after five hours of sleep I worked a full morning shift at Resurrection House. Then my pal Ben and I had a celebration lunch. (I had my first hamburger and fries in a year - surely the most “American” of meals for a day on which I am so proud to be an American).


We did in the Electoral College, and in the popular vote:

BARACK Obama won the popular vote by a six-point margin of 52 to 46 per cent for vanquished Republican rival John McCain, US networks said today.

Senator Obama earned 62.98 million votes nationwide and Senator McCain, 55.78 million, NBC reported.

My adopted State of Florida voted for Senator Obama!

I voted for Jesse Jackson in the 1988 primary. I shared his tears last night.

As soon as the Florida polls closed last night I stole a sign from the local polling station. (We are not allowed signs in my condo. complex). I’ll keep it as an antimacassar!

Michelle and Barack Obama show each other such great tenderness.

Three vignettes.

M.W. is a “70 something” guest at Resurrection House. She is a white woman from rural Kentucky. She asked me today what I thought about the election. I told her of my joy.

She told me that she was scared. I asked her if this was because of her background and up-bringing. “Yes” she replied.

I told her that she had nothing to fear.
That Senator Obama was the very best candidate.
That he was very bright, and good for the country.

She grinned and then said “Now that you have said that Pastor Michael, I will not be afraid”. We hugged and laughed.

Miky is a neighbour. She is a Jewish woman in her early 80’s. We have kvetched about
the election lo these many months. This evening we danced a jig for joy out in our street, whilst her dog “Gigi” looked on - tail-a-wagging.

I was at the customer service desk in our local “Publix” supermarket this evening. Ahead of me was an African-American woman who was buying up every copy of our local daily newspaper.

I noticed her red eyes and asked “have you been crying?” “Yes”, she said, “for joy. I cried all night”.

Then she continued to extemporize about Senator Obama as a President-elect for all the people. She insisted that this had nothing to do with the colour of his skin, and everything to do with the content of his character. She was sure that he would bring us together. She talked about the magnitude of his task. She spoke of Senator McCain’s terrific concession speech

Meanwhile I got teary eyed, as did three other customers who were nearby.

So there you have it: A “red neck” woman; a Jewish woman; a black woman; and this old white fart.

Four people united in hope.

But now I must sleep!

Monday, 3 November 2008

The eyes of the World

The eyes of the World will be on the United States general election of 4th November 2008.

I chatted with a Brazilian friend of mine today, and he related that the T.V. in that country is filled with American election news, and that many in Brazil are longing for an Obama Presidency.

I sent an Obama button to an American friend of mine who lives in London, U.K. She was in Kenya recently, and related to me that grand Masai warriors grinned from ear to ear when they saw that button.

Strange as it sounds, it is still the United States of America which is a sign of hope for freedom loving people. So much rides upon our shoulders - of which we are totally unworthy.

Those who long for freedom and justice look not to China or India, nor to Russia. They look to the United States.

What a strange fate and a heavy burden for us, her citizens.

Of course I look for the election of Senator Barack Obama. He has caught the zeitgeist.

This good man gets the big picture.

I’ll be working in his Sarasota office on Election Day. Never have a felt so invested in a Presidential election.

I also chatted today with another friend who is a respected columnist for a major American newspaper.

He looks forward to an Obama landslide. I hope so much that he is right.

But it has been a shallow campaign, focused on the economy.

There have been a few words about the disastrous campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Nothing has been said about the closure of the abominable prison at Guantanamo Bay; the rights of minorities; the fate of the poor and homeless; the dreadful Supreme Court; Health care; housing; or the Constitution and Bill of Rights of the United States.

Those of us who are Obama supporters have kept our fingers crossed that he will be “good” on these issues.

The press – T.V., Radio, Newspapers and the Internet have been dismal sources of hard news.

OPINION rules the day.

“Jack has been as good as his Master”.

Even the most stupid opinions of the “man/woman on the street” have been treated with reverence and lack of critique.

I believe that democracy is in grave danger when opinion is counted more important than facts.

So I’ll leave the last words to Roman Catholic Sister Joan Chittester.

"Ever since we began "embedding" journalists with army units, getting the whole story from any one news outlet has gotten to be more and more infrequent. Real news is getting tricky to come by as journalism traffics more in cheerleading and entertainment than it does in straight news. It isn't that we don't have need for good commentators and good columnists, both of which are by definition editorialists. It's just that we need good reporters, too -- journalists who dedicate themselves to grind out the news without editorial comment so that we can come to our own conclusions about it. Those kind of professionals are getting to be rare on the ground."

I’ll blog again after the election.


Sunday, 2 November 2008

Weary after enormous exertions

After a good night’s sleep, Adelaide and Ada each enjoyed breakfast and a visit to the litter box.

Exhausted by these activities they retired to Michael’s bed for a well deserved nap.