Saturday, 28 March 2009

Evolution; G-d, and Interdepence

It is in the ordinary that we find the extra-ordinary.

Having never been the greatest of animal lovers, I now find myself to be devoted to three pets.

Adelaide and Ada, the cats, made their home with me just under a year ago. They are simply gorgeous, and I cannot imagine life without them.

Last Tuesday I adopted “Penny” a seven year old mutt. She had been left at the Humane Society Shelter.

Penny and I have bonded in a most marvellous way. Wherever I am in my small home, Penny decides that she must be as near to me as possible. I like that!

She loves to walk, and to ride in my car.

I left her alone for about three hours today. When I returned home she greeted me with a wild excitement. Of course that made me happy.

And the cats have been more solicitous than ever for my company since Penny arrived.

I know that I am an animal, as are Ada, Adelaide and Penny.

Yet we seem to be animals that “need” each other. Somewhere in the process of evolution (yes Darwin was right!), many animals have developed interdependence.

And if there is a G-d, (and it’s a big “if”), then perhaps there is a necessary interdependence between the Divine and the Human.

If that is so, my years of ministry may not have been futile.

Perhaps the best “ministry” is that which celebrates interdependence.

I fell asleep last night and forgot to post this.


Fundamentalists claim to be “Bible believing”.

There are two Fundamentalist/Evangelical Churches in my neighbourhood. Their buildings are no more than 500 yards apart.

Each of these Churches have (today) billboards which advertise classes/seminars on Financial Security.

Do not these “Bible believing” Churches agree with the following words from Holy Writ?

Matthew 6:24-34

6:24 "No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

6:25 "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

6:26 Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

6:27 And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?

6:28 And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin,

6:29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these.

6:30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you--you of little faith?

6:31 Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will we wear?'

6:32 For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

A frustrated lefty

Being a member of the Labour Party in England, and a determined Democrat in these
United States, is almost a part of my DNA.

I am decidedly left of centre.

So it pains me to see that the British Labour party has forgotten, or chosen to depart from its historical mission.

And I am so disappointed with the policies regarding the economy of President Barack Obama.

“Change” and “Yes we can” seem to have evaporated overnight.

The world economy is in deep doo-doo, but Premier Brown and President Obama seem bereft of any ideas other than those of the failed Keynsian or Reaganite orthodoxies.

In both countries, interest rates are at an all time low - in order- we are told – to stimulate credit, i.e. spending.

Can we spend ourselves out of this crisis?

I doubt it!

Maybe we should increase interest rates so that citizens will save, and use those savings to alleviate the liquidity problem.

Certainly I believe that saving makes far more sense for national economies than spending (on credit).

In China the “average” wage earner saves 25% of her/his disposable income.

In these United States the “average” wage earner saves a meagre 0.7%.

So my guess is that Chinese saving is enabling American borrowing.

If the Chinese continue to save, and we Americans continue to spend - which nation will eventually be more prosperous?

Of course, this is just an uninformed lay view of economic matters.

In the picture below, the cats are American, British and western European.

The bird is Chinese!

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Adoption Day 2

Penny is settling in far quicker than anyone could imagine. She is a very placid and gentle dog.

She likes to walk, so now I will be taking three shorter walks each day rather than my one long walk.

She also loves to ride in the car. When we leave the house she goes directly to my car, hoping for a ride.

And, thank goodness, she neither jumps up on humans, nor does she try to lick their faces.

I’d thought that she did not bark, but she did tonight. I had friends here for dinner tonight and they knocked on the door, and then walked in. Penny greeted them with many hurrahs of barking, but quit just as soon as I told her that all was well.

My dear cats, Ada and Adelaide are reacting very well to this stranger in their midst. I tried to keep the dog and the cats separated for two days (as the Humane Society recommended), but that proved impossible as the cats were determined to investigate.

Ada, the shyer of the two cats, has throughout the day been so friendly towards Penny, with much sniffing and rubbing alongside.

Adelaide, the flirty cat, spent most of the day hissing and growling at Penny, but later, she too did some inquisitive sniffing.

There was a wonderful moment this afternoon when as I sat on the Lanai, Adelaide and Ada took their places on adjoining chairs, whilst Penny rested on the carpet. And the three animals simply looked at me!

Next I’ll get a talking goldfish or a swimming parrot!

Tuesday, 24 March 2009


I gave in to my whim today and went to the Sarasota Humane Society. There I adopted "Penny" a 7 year old Terrier mix.
She is the most social and friendly dog, and has already had friendly encounters with four of the neighbourhood dogs.
Within the house she loves to be near to me, and would be tres affectionate with Ada and Adelaide my cats, if only they would consent.
That will happen within a day or two.
I used to be quite indifferent about pet animals - now I have three.
Maybe there is a friendly goldfish on my horizon!

Monday, 23 March 2009

On the strange side

1.I knew a couple, Bert and Edna Air, (both now deceased) who spread marmalade on all their hot and cooked meats - ham, lamb, chicken, beef or pork. They thought that it was the most wonderful thing.

I had dinner at their home one day - and I begged to differ.

2. When I walk each morning, I have to walk in a clock wise direction to and from my home. I feel very uncomfortable if I have to walk anti-clockwise.

Go figure.

3. Overheard in a store today when two female friends (strangers to me) encountered one another:

Friend One: “Wasn’t that a wonderful show last night”

Friend Two: It gets better every year.

Friend One: “He was wearing the most beautiful gown. He says that he has other gowns stored away”.

Friend Two: “Yes, and he is very handsome”

Silence from the (presumed) husbands of these women.

4. I am a counter.

I count my paces when I walk, I count the treads when I walk up or down stairs, I count the seconds at traffic lights, or when I am in an elevator/lift.

I have lost count of the occasions on which I count.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

1 of 2 for March 22nd

Not by plane, but by road.

On Saturday 21st I took off early afternoon to be present at the funeral for the Revd. R. Bruce Ryan, a retired Priest who hung out at St. David’s, Englewood, FL (where I used to assist).

Bruce died at aged 80. He was very conservative in his theology. He and I would have disagreed on so many Church “issues” - but for the fact that Bruce had the most generous of hearts.

So we never had to disagree - we simply cared for each other for the right reasons and did not fight with each other for the wrong reasons.

I left St. David’s and headed down to Fort Myers FL where I was “supply Priest” for the weekend at St. Hilary’s Church.

En route I was dazzled (and almost drove off the road) as I witnessed the performance of the U.S. Navy “Blue Angels” who were part of the Port Charlotte, FL Air Show.

These pilots are the tops. They are based in Pensacola, FL - the retirement home town of my good friends Barbara and Don Hauler.

St. Hilary’s is a neat parish and I enjoy “supplying” there. As a great bonus my former Cambridge Parishioner, “Dennie” Bolis was there, with her daughter Janice. We enjoyed lunch after the third service this morning.

St. Hilary’s has a Saturday evening Eucharist, and three Sunday morning Eucharists. It is a tiring schedule.

(And I was bored with my sermon (see below) when I preached it for the 4th time at the 11:00 a.m. Eucharist!)

I was so very weary as I drove to my home this afternoon (a journey of about 75 miles, north of Ft. Myers) on Interstate 75.

But the people of St. Hilary’s are cool - so it was with a good weariness that I arrived home.

2 of 2 for March 22nd

Sermon for March 21/22

Sermon for March 21/22 2009
The Revd. J. Michael Povey at St. Hilary’s, Fort Myers, FL

Numbers 21:4-9; Ephesians 2:1-10; John 3:14-21

We all know that our Christian faith sprang out of a much older faith, the one we call Judaism. Sometimes we forget that Jesus was never a Christian, but that he was Jewish to the core.

What we now call Judaism in turn sprang out of the life and experience of an ancient near-eastern people, the Hebrew people. What we call the Old Testament is a written version and interpretaion of their lived history - a history in which a wandering clan became a people, and then a nation.

We imagine that the Hebrew people had always believed in but one G-d. That is not the case. Long before “Moses” we hear tales such as that of Rachel, who travels with her household gods.

Long after “Moses” we read such startling things as this (in Psalm 82) “G-d” take his place among the council of the gods”, suggesting that the Hebrew G-d was one of many.

It was as those nomadic people began to settle in Canaan that they hit upon the “truth” of but one G-d - the Lord of heaven and earth.

Belief in one G-d was hard to sustain, particularly as they lived among a people who had other more attractive gods, such as the gods of fertility. That is why the ancient prophets are always railing against the “false gods”. The prophets were opposed to the “high places”, the “sacred groves”, and the “sacred poles” - places for religious activity for the adherents of other gods.

Hebrew writers were sometimes embarrassed by the history of their own people. Had they indeed once followed false gods, epitomised by sacred poles?

Of course they had, and the story of the serpent in the wilderness is an attempt to explain away this older way. It’s as if they were saying “yes, we did look up to sacred poles, but only because the Lord told Moses to make one for our healing”.

Some later Rabbis explain it away be saying that the people did not look up to a pole, but that they looked up to the Lord above the pole.

When we come to the Christian era we find that John makes reference to the serpent in the wilderness “just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up”. He is in effect saying, “yes, that may well have happened ‘way back then’, but it was no more than a pre-figuring of the real thing – the lifting up of the Son of Man”.

John refers to the lifting up of the Son of Man as the way to eternal life. Note, if you will, that eternal life is not the same thing as heaven. It is the way we experience life here and now, and the choice is stark “choose life or perish”. Again, that “perishing” does not refer to hell - but it’s a metaphor for life without God – a life in which we perish on the vine so to speak.

In what way do we perish? I suggest (with Rabbi Arthur Waslow) that we are in danger of perishing when we ignore the snakes or serpents in our own lives, and let them bite away at our souls. I think of the insecurity that I frequently feel. “If only” I think, “people really knew me, they would not like me”. Or I think of the times when I get so needlessly angry. That anger eats away at me. Living in anger or insecurity is a way of perishing - I know it all too well.

Rabbi Waslow suggests that one meaning of the snake on the pole is that we must look at our own snakes – full in the face. For it is when we begin, in true Lenten style, to face our own fears, angers, insecurities and sins that we can engage in repentance, and turning to the Lord.

We cannot bear all our own sin, anger, pride, lust or fear - it simply eats away at us and we perish.

But to look at the Son of Man lifted up, is to see one who does not and will not condemn us. He is the one who bears all that we cannot endure. So we bring our own snakes and serpents to him. We bring them out of our own dark places into his light.

It is the way of eternal life. For when we know that we are not condemned by G-d, then we are delivered from our own perishing self-condemnation. And if we are not condemned, what’s the point in condemning others!