Saturday, 4 April 2009

Archbishop of Canterbury (and others) fail.

These stories made my blood boil today:

My blood boiled because of the regressive and hateful role of religion in our world.

I allowed it to boil since I have been a practitioner of the Christian religion for at least 50 of my (almost) 65 years.

I began my (lay) Christian preaching as a religious conservative in the Plymouth Brethren. Having moved away from their nonsense I became an Anglican yet was still theologically a conservative.

As I have grown up, so I have become more and more biblically astute and radical, both in theology and politics. I have learned to rejoice in the fuller inclusion of gay and lesbian Christians in the Episcopal Church leadership; and even more as I delight of the ministry of women as Deacons, Priests and Bishops.

But some in my Church (the Episcopal Church) are still opposed to the full inclusion of women, and gays and lesbians in the ministerial ranks.

And my “Mother Church” (the Church of England) still has its “knickers in a twist” (i.e. “Y-fronts” [BVD’s]) as to whether or not women should be Bishops.

So I must ask:

Is there any difference between the misogyny and homophobia of the Episcopal Church, and of the Church of England , and that which is found in parts of Islam?

I think not.

Therefore I cry shame upon the Archbishop of Canterbury (who knows better), and upon the American Bishops (who should know better) for your continued collusion with misogyny and with homophobia.

Please do not construe this as as attack upon Islam, but as a sad reflection on Angican Christianity.

Friday, 3 April 2009

Listening and Dancing - the Church for which I long.

I have not written much in recent weeks about Resurrection House, the day shelter for homeless people at which I serve in SRQ.

This is mostly cos I have not been there so frequently in recent weeks.

We have been inundated with “snow birds” - winter residents of Florida - from such American States as Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Minnesota, and from the Province of Ontario in Canada. These snow-birds have been more than anxious to volunteer.

So much so, that in recent months Res House has had too many volunteers! So I have taken a wee break. These northerners will return to their homes quite soon, and then I’ll be back at my usual joyful tasks.

Nonetheless I have been at Res. House for the weekly prayer service which I facilitate. I never “preach at” our guests at this service (the whole fundamentalist world is more than active in “preaching at” them).

So I facilitate a quiet time in which my homeless friends can be certain that someone will listen to them, and not preach at them.

That’s my kind of Church: a place where listening is more important than preaching.

One of my most precious homeless friends, a woman named Tara, recently died. She was a lovely and feisty woman. She always insisted that I do a dance of celebration when I saw her.

I led her memorial service at Res. House, and I danced to celebrate her life and her passing.

What a Church we could be if we concentrated on listening and dancing!

Thursday, 2 April 2009

The concept of Monarchy has its own mystique.

The concept of Monarchy has its own mystique.

A commentator on a British TV station said today “there is something almost sacred about the Monarch”

I am reminded that sacred and scared have the same 6 letters!

Queen Elizabeth II of the “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland” (to give my homeland its full moniker) has achieved a semi-goddess status partly because of her longevity – she is 82 years old and has been Queen of the UK since 1952; and partly because of the myriad of protocols and courtiers who protect and encourage her Royal Mystique.

She has worn well, and I suppose that most U.K. subjects (yes, folks are subjects in the U.K – not citizens) regard her with a benign affection. I do.

I also suppose that most of those people resent the “flunkery” and flummery which “protect” the Royal Household. I do.

We certainly know that the Dutch and Scandinavian Monarchies survive well without the flunkies and the flummery.

Many, if not most Americans have a strange devotion to the British Monarch. She is probably more popular here that in those countries of which she is the Queen (The U.K., Canada, Australia, New Zealand).

I think that we Americans like her because there is something good about having a Head of State who is not a member of the Executive. It’s sometimes hard in America to respect the President as Head of State when he (so far) is also an elected head of a political party.

But the “Brit” in me also protests that many great countries have non-political and elected/appointed Heads of State - Germany, Italy and India to name but three. These are not hereditary leaders.

And “that’s the rub”. The Head of State in the U.K., Australia, Canada and New Zealand (Queen Elizabeth II) is in that position solely because she inherited the Office.

In this particular case QEII has done a fairly decent job - based in her sense of duty.

I (with others) am not so easily convinced that the Heir Presumptive (Charles, Prince of Wales) is capable of such a sweet Monarchy. He seems too cranky for that role.

All this leads me (in my mind, if not in the preceding text) to declare that I am a republican at heart.

Never did I think this as strongly as both yesterday and today as I read texts and saw pictures of President and Mrs. Obama in London, and at Buckingham Palace.

They showed a regality and “royalty”, which seemed to be of the people, and for the people.

It is a regality which is FROM the people.

No wonder that the sweet Queen of England, at 82 years of age, could not resist putting her arm around our fine “First Lady”.

Michelle Obama rocks!

And her husband ain’t bad.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

I have been published (so to speak)


(Please cut and paste this url)

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

A foolish consistency

I like to be cranky.

I wrote this on my facebook wall today:
“Cranky thoughts: I don't have a puppy - I have a dog. I don't have kitties - I have cats. People don't have kids - they have children.”

This did not come out of thin air. My Dad hated the word “kids” as it applied to children.

He was clear. “Goats have kids”, he would say, “but people have children”.

Dad was cranky about speech. He would sometimes pretend to trip, and then explain:- “I tripped over the consonant you dropped” (e.g. a “t” or a “d” at the end of a word.)

I was raised in the same school as Dad. It was the school which said “take care of the consonants and the vowels will take care of themselves”.

But “a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of tiny minds”. Dad was not foolish, nor consistent. He persisted in pronouncing the “aitches” at the beginning of words such as “honour”, or “honest”.

I am happy to have inherited my father’s crankiness and inconsistency!

Sunday, 29 March 2009

My sermon today at All Angels by the Sea, Longboat Key, FL

The Revd. J. Michael Povey at All Angels by the Sea, Longboat Key, FL
Jeremiah 31:27-34; Hebrews 5:1-10; John 12:20-36

In 2007, the first full year of my retirement it was mid-way through a Wednesday morning before I remembered “my goodness, this is Ash Wednesday”. For more than 30 years I had, as a parish Rector, been obsessively aware of Ash Wednesday, as one of the important lodestars of parish life. I had often wondered why the Church was not filled on that incredibly important day.

In 2007 I got the answer to my wonderings – people were not in Church on Ash Wednesday because they forgot!

On March 17th of this year I made a comment on my Facebook “wall”. It read “I think that most Lenten disciplines are bogus”. I wrote this in part because I have never been skilled in keeping a Holy Lent, (after all I did forget Ash Wednesday a few years ago); and in part with my tongue in my cheek.

One of my peers wrote back asking “are you getting crotchety in your old age?”, to which my reply was “what do you mean by old age!”

A young man from Dalton, MA wrote “I could not agree more”. That surprised me a bit as I could not even imagine that he would even think about Lent, so I wrote back and teased him about his comment.

Then he told me what he meant, and I was sorry that I had teased. He told me that two years ago he had promised himself that he would try to be the best husband and father he could be. He went on say that this entailed daily discipline and self denial. He was trying to live in a Lenten way year round.

Earlier this week I read your good Rector’s letter to the parish in the “Sandpiper”. David Danner, one of the most self disciplined persons any of us have ever known, wrote of his struggles with the disciplines of Lent. His words and those of my young friend in Dalton have given me pause for thought.

I suspect that I’ve never cared much for Lent as I am not a sack-cloth and ashes kind of Christian. I find it easier to bask in joy than to lament in failure.

Now I am trying to understand that Lent has its own particular joys.

That joy is expressed to me in a few words from each of our hymns. I chose them with this sermon in mind.'

When I was seven or eight I heard “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” for the first time. Two words from that hymn seized me then as they seize me now.

They read “Ponder anew”. Oh the joys that come from the simple discipline of pondering anew the mercies of the Lord. Although our experience of God is often tinged with doubts, fears and questions, as we ponder anew, as we look back, it is to realise again the faithful and tender mercy of the Lord.

“Ye Holy Angels Bright”, written by the great Puritan Richard Baxter, is a celebration of what we call the communion of Saints.

Note the first words in each stanza.

“Ye Holy Angels bright”.

“Ye blessed souls at rest”.

"Ye saints who toil below”.

And finally “My soul, bear thou they part”.

The angels, the faithful departed, the church in the world, and then me.

The call to the individual in that hymn is sweet indeed. We are called to “a well tuned heart”. What a lovely and suggestive phrase. A well tuned heart. Just as the orchestra tunes up before the symphony, so Baxter urges us to tune our hearts to the purposes of God. It is of course a daily tuning. It’s a tuning that enables us to create wonderful melodies and harmonies to respond to the song of Universe.

That song is sung to us with joyous sound and delightful lyrics by Jesus the Son of Man. Through him we are each enabled to know the Lord – untaught by prelate or priest, but experienced personally as our iniquity is forgiven, and our sins are no longer remembered by the faithful Lord.

With the Greeks “we would see Jesus”. In the joyous disciplines of “pondering anew” and “tuning our hearts” indeed we are reconnected with the one who was lifted up, to draw the whole world to himself.

My young friend in Dalton ponders anew, and tunes his heart each day, to become the best husband and father he could possibly be.

With you I ponder anew , and tune my heart this day – we are moving towards being the best Christians we know how to be.