Friday, 20 March 2009

Flying many miles

I have taken three very long airplane trips.

In 1973 it was London to Nairobi (with a 24 stopover in Cairo), but a direct flight back. 4228 air miles

In about 1989 it was Boston to Honolulu. I took a flight there, with a brief stop to re-fuel, but I stopped off in San Francisco on the way home. 5089 air miles.

In 2003 or 2004 I flew from Boston to Beirut, with a 12 hour stopover en-route in Frankfurt, and a three day stopover in Germany on the way home. 5430 air miles.

So the longest trip I have taken by air was Boston/Frankfurt/Beirut/ Frankfurt/Boston - 5430 miles each way.

And the longest non-stop was Nairobi to London - 4228 miles.

Just to think - when I was 6 or 7 years old my most exciting journeys were from my home town of Bristol to the seaside town of Weston-super-mare - 22 miles each way!

I’ve also taken some long trips by train and ‘bus. I’ll write about them on Sunday evening.

There will not be a blog entry tomorrow as I’ll be in Fort Myers overnight, so that I can preside and preach at the Saturday and Sunday services at St. Hilary’s Church in that town.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Other flights

My mother, born in 1913, made about 8 round trips between the U.K. and the U.S.A. I think that she enjoyed them.

One day I said “Mum, I bet your own mother would not have believed you if you’d said ‘One day I will fly to America’

Mum replied “I would not have believed it myself”

Now I have made about 15 or so of those round trips, plus a couple from the U.S.A to Germany, and another to Rome.

And I have taken at least two score flights within these United States.

At one time I thought that these flights were fun. Now I hate them. The cabins are so cramped, and my legs and feet inevitably get to ache, and to be restless. “If only” .... I could afford Business Class.

I’ve also taken three longer trips.

1, From London to Nairobi. (With a bonus layover in Cairo, where I got to see the pyramids and the sphinx.

2. From Bradley International Airport (Hartford Ct/Springfield Ma) to Oahu (Hawaii).

3. From Boston to Beirut, Lebanon.

None of my recent flights have been anything but a chore. But I cannot afford to use a sea cruise liner, and there are no trains from the U.S.A. to Europe!

So, with legs already aching, I’ll fly from Tampa, FL to London (Gatwick) in May.

I’ll then enjoy my family and friends in England.

Midst my anticipatory moans, I’ll try to remember earlier immigrants in the U.S.A., who, having taken an ocean liner, never again saw their kin.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

My first flight

My first flight took place when I was about 25 years old. I flew on the old British European Airways (BEA) from Southampton UK, to Jersey in the Channel Islands.

It was on a propeller plane (probably an old Dakota). The flight was for somewhere between 45 and 60 minutes.

I tried to be very cool, and carried my boarding pass in my shirt pocket, as did all the frequent flyers in those days.

Cool though I tried to be, I was so thrilled!

Now, flying is a bore. It’s so tiresome and uncomfortable. ( I recently took 6 flights in 13 days).
Nonetheless I plan to fly to England in May to visit with my family, and to celebrate my 65th

I cannot swim well, and ocean voyages are too expensive. So there is no other way to get to England, and home again.

But I am wistful for those days when flying was an adventure.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

When Popes are stupid


In his four years as pope, Benedict had never directly addressed condom use, although his position is not new.

His predecessor, Pope John Paul II, often said that sexual abstinence — not condoms — was the best way to prevent the spread of the disease.

Benedict also said the Roman Catholic Church was at the forefront of the battle against AIDS.

"You can't resolve it with the distribution of condoms," the pope told reporters aboard the Alitalia plane heading to Yaounde. "On the contrary, it increases the problem."
The pope said a responsible and moral attitude toward sex would help fight the disease.


What word would you leave with the church on this occasion?

I would commend to the church this Franciscan benediction that I have come to love, because I think it is kind of marching orders for the church in the 21st century:

"May God bless you with discomfort...At easy answers, half truths and superficial relationshipsSo that you may live deep within your heart.

"May God bless you with anger...At the injustice, oppression and exploitation of peopleSo that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.

"May God bless you with tears...To shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger and war So that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain into joy. "

And may God bless you with enough foolishness...To believe that you can make a difference in the world,So that you can do what others claim cannot be doneto bring justice and kindness to all our children and the poor. Amen

Monday, 16 March 2009

Maybe I will visit my English homeland later this year

...........this scepter’d isle,

This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,

This other Eden, demi-paradise,

This fortress built by Nature for herself

Against infection and the hand of war,

This happy breed of men, this little world,

This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall,

Or as a moat defensive to a house,

Against the envy of less happier lands,

This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Diocese of South West Florida

It’s an ecclesiastical twilight zone here in the Diocese of South West Florida.

Our Bishop, Dabney T Smith is an affable enough guy. There is nothing not to like about him. But his policies are confusing.

When he licensed me to serve in this Diocese he gladly accepted me for who I am, a Christian, a Priest, a Gay man.

But he vetoed a visit from the Bishop of New Hampshire, the Right Revd. Gene Robinson.

Bishop Smith was never entirely clear why he would not welcome Gene Robinson (our only openly gay Bishop (and a friend of mine).

It “seemed” that Bishop Smith was afraid of the “right wing, anti-women Priest, homophobic” Priests/ Congregations in his Diocese. It seemed that he caved in to their pressure (and maybe their dollars).

As I write, two Bishops from Nigeria are on a “mission” in this Diocese.

A norm of the Anglican Communion is that no Bishop visits a Diocese which is not her/his own without the permission/invitation of the Diocesan Bishop.

Yet these Nigerian Bishops are here without Bishop Smith’s invitation or permission.

They are sponsored by the aforementioned “right wing, anti-women Priest, homophobic” Priests/ Congregations in this Diocese.

Bishop Smith has been mute. In effect he has given a nod and a wink to the visit of the Bishops from Nigeria.

That nod and wink has been given to Bishops from the most virulently anti-gay Church in the Anglican Communion - the Church of Nigeria.

So my Bishop vetoed a visit from a Gay Bishop, but has acquiesced to the presence of two anti-Gay Bishops.

His actions leave me to feel very unsafe. Although my ministry has been found acceptable in four local parishes, I suspect that one complaint about my being gay would leave to a withdrawal of Bishop Smith’s licence.

Let it be so.

I’d rather be “out” and loved by G-d, than be “closeted” to please a Bishop.