Saturday, 18 July 2009

The War to end all Wars

Henry Allingham has died at aged 113. He was reputed to be the oldest man in the World.

He may also have been one of the last 3 or 4 survivors of World War I.

In his later years, he was a tireless advocate for Peace. I think that he understood the following WWI "statistics".

The total number of casualties in World War I, both military and civilian, were about 37 million: 16 million deaths and 21 million wounded. The total number of deaths includes 9.7 million military personnel and about 6.8 million civilians. The Entente Powers (also known as the Allies) lost 5.7 million soldiers and the Central Powers about 4 million.

Friday, 17 July 2009


I'll be preaching on Sunday (July 19th) for the first time since June 7th.

The older I get, the harder it is to write sermons.

I've spent three days on my upcoming sermon, and it is still weak.

But my pets provide some relief. I get a kick out of their activity.

Both cats, Ada and Adelaide love to hang out in small boxes. Below is Adelaide in an old shoe box.

And you'll see Penne. She'll hang on to her dog biscuits for hours before eating them. I've entitled her picture "Penne with a stogy".

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Episcopal Church and Gay or Lesbian Ministers

Episcopal Church and Gay or Lesbian Ministers

(You've seen the press, now read the text!)

Printed below is the text of the Resolution passed by our General Convention. (The numbering of the resolutions is mine, for convenience in reading)

(1) Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring,

That the 76th General Convention reaffirm the continued participation of The Episcopal Church as a constituent member of the Anglican Communion; give thanks for the work of the bishops at the Lambeth Conference of 2008; reaffirm the abiding commitment of The Episcopal Church to the fellowship of churches that constitute the Anglican Communion and seek to live into the highest degree of communion possible; and be it further

(2) Resolved, That the 76th General Convention encourage dioceses, congregations, and members of The Episcopal Church to participate to the fullest extent possible in the many instruments, networks and relationships of the Anglican Communion;

and be it further
(3) Resolved, That the 76th General Convention reaffirm its financial commitment to the Anglican Communion and pledge to participate fully in the Inter-Anglican Budget;

and be it further
(4) Resolved, That the 76th General Convention affirm the value of "listening to the experience of homosexual persons," as called for by the Lambeth Conferences of 1978, 1988, and 1998, and acknowledge that through our own listening the General Convention has come to recognize that the baptized membership of The Episcopal Church includes same-sex couples living in lifelong committed relationships "characterized by fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect, careful, honest communication, and the holy love which enables those in such relationships to see in each other the image of God" (2000-D039);

and be it further
(5) Resolved, That the 76th General Convention recognize that gay and lesbian persons who are part of such relationships have responded to God's call and have exercised various ministries in and on behalf of God's One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church and are currently doing so in our midst;

and be it further
(6) Resolved, That the 76th General Convention affirm that God has called and may call such individuals, to any ordained ministry in The Episcopal Church, and that God's call to the ordained ministry in The Episcopal Church is a mystery which the Church attempts to discern for all people through our discernment processes acting in accordance with the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church;

and be it further
(7) Resolved, That the 76th General Convention acknowledge that members of The Episcopal Church as of the Anglican Communion, based on careful study of the Holy Scriptures, and in light of tradition and reason, are not of one mind, and Christians of good conscience disagree about some of these matters.

Even though I am in broad sympathy with the "intent" of the Resolution, I think that it is a bit of a "fudge".

It purports to be a "description" of where we are at in the Church, but it will doubtless be interpreted as a "prescription" of where we should be.

To my liberal allies in the Church I say: "Listening" (resolved 4) is simply inadequate if that listening is not in the context of intensive biblical and theological scholarship. And there is sufficient biblical and theological scholarship to support our point of view.

To my conservative friends in the Church I say: "If listening is our crucial criterion, then clearly you have not been heard". Maybe this is because of the malaise of institutional deafness. I think that resolved (7) is a gratuitous "tip of the hat" in your direction, which means nothing.

To my liberal allies in the Church I add: As a gay Priest I rejoice when the ministries of gay and lesbian Christians are welcomed, especially as they become a means of grace to the wider body. Nonetheless, we gay and lesbian Christians do not have a monopoly on grace, nor should we be given special privilege. All Christians are called to be servants.

To my conservative friends in the Church I add: Your participation in our common life is essential. I refuse to say that I have no need of you (see 1 Corinthians 12:21).

To whomever reads this I say: "I am a liberal Christian for strong biblical and theological reasons. But I am cynical about the obfuscation in this General Convention Resolution".



Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Dog = Michael = God

Penne’s behaviour has been odd today. She’d been both full of energy, and very cloying.

She has “demanded” many walks, and we must have put in at least six miles.

Back at home, she’s wanted to be so close to me at all times.
I projected “she’s trying to tell me something”, but whatever it was, it was unfathomable.

I was out all evening (5:00p.m. – 10:00 p.m.) and I hesitated to leave her at home.

On arriving back at home she greeted me with wild enthusiasm. I took her for one last walk, and she has now settled quietly alongside my bed.

I suspect that there are congruencies between the way Penne “relates” to me, and the way I relate to God.

Dog – Michael – God eh?

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Vive la France

For at least twenty years on July 14th I have taken out a C.D. and played Hector Berlioz’ arrangement of the French National Anthem: "La Marseillaise".

It is a stirring anthem, with an incredible tune. In my opinion it is one of the greatest National Anthem tunes in the world.

It makes the tune of “God save our gracious Queen” sound very pedantic.

It makes the tune of the American National Anthem ( a tune “stolen” from a British drinking song) seem quite boring.

Forgive me if I assert that the British “God save…” is the most sing-able.

(Like it or not, Beethoven so liked “God save our…etc” that he wrote a whole set of variations on the melody).

But it is the French tune which stirs me most! And the arrangement by Berlioz is superb.

On this 14th July 2009 I ask you to lift your glass and say with me: “Vive la France”.
Our world would be greatly impoverished without France and the French people.

Monday, 13 July 2009


Today I called Comcast (my Internet Service/and Cable T.V. provider), to request an additional Cable TV outlet on my Lanai.

‘Tis true that I rarely watch T.V., but having been given a T.V. set I thought that an outlet on the Lanai would be at least useful for my guests.

A youngish man named Lance fielded my call.

He could see my name on his computer screen, and after I had made my request he asked:

“Are you the Michael Povey who used to preach in Pittsfield?

I confessed that was the case.

Then both he and I got goose-bumps. It transpired that he was Lance Larosa, who (then a High School kid) attended St. Stephen’s in Pittsfield with his pal Michael Wheelock, back in the late 90’s when I was Rector there.

This is a small and strange world.

It’s strange because of all the SRQ Comcast workers, my call was received by Lance.

It’s strange because he was encouraged to ask the question when he thought that he not only knew my name, but that he also recognized my voice.

It’s strange because we have each washed up in Sarasota.

Lance moved here in 2000 (I think), shortly after I left Pittsfield for Cambridge.

Lance had nice things to say about my ministry in Pittsfield, and about my St. Stephen’s curate, Manny Faria.

He also has good memories of St. Stephen’s Parishioner Bill Frazier, a former Guidance Counselor at Pittsfield High School.

Such a small world!

Lance (now 27) lives down in North Port. He and I will get together soon.

He (and his wife) may even come to hear me preach at St. Margaret’s in Sarasota this Sunday.

Isn’t this a “goosebumpy” story!

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Barack Obama: Katherine Jeffords Schori: The Episcopal Church

Dammit. I am confused!

I have a high regard for our President, Barack Obama. I would vote for him again in a heartbeat.

But there are days on which I wish that he were not so much of a Saul Alinsky type community organizer.

I wish that he could get down and dirty with the Congress. I’d rather that he drew inspiration from Lyndon Baines Johnson than from Saul Alinsky.

I have a very high regard for the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, the Most Revd. Katherine Jeffords Schori.

I know that she is bright.

I wish that she were more passionate.

(Today I watched her Press Briefing at the Episcopal Church General Convention, and even though I agreed with her views, I missed some passion).

[To be fair, perhaps our world cannot deal with passionate female leaders.]

I am happy that my beloved Episcopal Church is ever more welcoming of gay and lesbian Christians.

But I wish that my Church would not only speak of “welcome”, but also of repentance and faith.

I am a gay Christian, but that does not give me automatic rights and privileges in the Church. With all other Christians I am called to daily repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.

Even as I rejoice in the “big tent” which is the Episcopal Church, I am disturbed by the apparent triumphalism of some of my allies “on the left”.

We dare not rejoice whilst more conservative Christians feel excluded or marginalized.

See from I Corinthians 12 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many members, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you," nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you."

My welcoming Church should not be inferring that we have no need of more conservative Christians. Nor should it act to exclude them.

So there is my confusion.

And since what I say may be enticing to the right (and I am not on the right), or provocative to the left (my home country), I will not accept anonymous comments to this particular blog entry.