Saturday, 12 September 2009

The Truth will make you free

My sister in Jesus, and good friend Elizabeth Kaeton this morning posted the following on her blog

She has put in to words that of which I have been hinting regarding the reactions to the Presidency of Barack H. Obama.

I commend her article, and I believe that her analysis is entirely accurate.

Should you decide to make comments here, please do not comment on Elizabeth's exact words. They are hers, not mine, and you should comment directly to her at her blog.

But you may comment to me about Elizabeth's thesis: one which I fully share and entirely endorse.

J. Michael Povey



Civility and Racism: A White Suburban Christian Girl Plays The Race Card

Civility.We seem to have lost it.Or is it that we've lost our minds? Even as the President was calling for civility during an historic Joint Session of Congress, it became obvious that it had already left the building. In case you've been under a rock or in a monastery on silent retreat for the past week, I'm talking about this: Representative Joe Wilson (R-SC) heckled the President during his speech on Health Care Reform. That's him in the picture above during the historic moment of shame. (photo' is on Elizabeth's blog - not here. jmp)

I watched - and heard - it happen and I still can't believe it. The President was in the process of debunking the horrible lies and scare tactics that have been circulated by the Radical Right. He had just spoken about the rumors - the horrible flat-out lies about "death panels" which had been circulated by none other than Sarah Palin - and was just asserting that legislation for health care reform would not mandate coverage for illegal immigrants.

"You lie!" shouted Rep. Wilson - another man from South Carolina, doing his state proud. You can hear the moment recorded here.

(The Associated Press noted:
It wasn't the only interruption during Obama's speech to a joint session of Congress in the House of Representatives. Earlier, Republicans laughed when Obama acknowledged that there are still significant details to be worked out before a health overhaul can be passed.Wilson's outburst caused Obama to pause briefly before he went on with his speech. )

Overhead in the visitors' gallery, first Lady Michelle Obama shook her head from side to side.

What the what? I mean, this was a Joint Session of Congress, not a meeting of the British House of Commons (admittedly the 'Lower House' of Parliament - the 'Upper House' being the House of Lords, but that has nothing, nothing in the world, to do with a two-track Anglican Covenant) where heckling and brawls are standard operating procedure.

All of that renowned British Reserve goes right out the window -- which may be due to the fact that there are more pubs around Parliament than tea shops or cafes.

This is the kind of behavior one expects from the comment section of some of the "orthodox," so-called "Christian" blogs. In fact, I'm thinking Joe Wilson might be either the one who signs off as "Born Again Anglican" or, perhaps, "Saint Anonymous".

Joe Wilson is a Man of the South. A Southern Gentleman. Someone whose Momma taught him Southern Hospitality and How to Behave in Public. ('Yes, sir. No, Ma'am')

Then again, so is the governor of South Carolina, a family man with family values with a wife and four kids, who had that steamy-hot, notorious affair with a South American woman ("my soul mate"). Remember him? Sanford. Mark Sanford. Some folk are continuing to call for his resignation. During his last tryst with his mistress, the story he told his staff and his staff told the world was that he was "Hiking the Appalachian Trail." Yeah, that's right. That's the ticket.

Sheesh! Is there something in the water in South Carolina? Which reminds me: The Episcopal Bishop of South Carolina is Mark "I'm not going to leave the Episcopal Church" Lawrence, who is heading up the "Common Partnership Bishops" who seek to find a way to be Anglican (and orthodox) so they can gather up those who have gone astray under the more broken of the right winged brethren and THEN fulfill the dream of supplanting The Episcopal Church as the "true church." No, they haven't said that, flat out, but if you woke up the Episcopal Bishop of South Carolina at 3 o'clock in the morning in the midst of one of his dreams of glory and asked the question, my money is on the fact that he would not yell, "You lie!"

It is also home to the founder of "Chicken Little Anglican Theology", the ubiquitous and peripatetic Kendall "The Anglican Sky Is Falling" Harmon, as well as "orthodox" acid-tongue blogger Sarah "Dolphin and Maternal Like"

Hey.Let us not forget the former South Carolinian senator Strom Thurman. Remember him? He's the only US Senator to have reached the age of 100 while still in office. He also holds the record for the longest filibuster ever by a U.S. Senator in opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1957, at 24 hours and 18 minutes in length, nonstop.

Oh, yeah. He was also a "Dixiecrat,' a 'segregationist' who, it was revealed after his death, had fathered a child at age 22 with Carrie Butler, a then 16-year-old household servant, who was African American.

I'm going to resist playing into the stereotype of the Southern Man as the Face of Racism in the United States of America. God knows, there's enough racism hidden in the most surprising corners of this country for me to know that Racism is not a Southern Malaise or one that has geographical boundaries.

But I am going to call it for what it is - or, at least, what that tawdry demonstration of lack of civility was fueled by: Racism. There, I said it. A White Girl from the Affluent Suburbs of New Jersey played the Race Card.

Not a difficult feat. It's not exactly Rocket Science. Since we were talking about 'lies', let's tell the truth, shall we?

That would never - EVER - have happened if the President were Caucasian. You know it. I know it. Some of us understand that one does not have to be civil to the "dhakies". So, Joe Wilson wasn't. Didn't have to be.

It was also part of his childhood training in How To Behave in Public."You have to be carefully taught."I understand he apologized within the hour, saying, "I let my emotions get the best of me when listening to the President's remarks" .

It was pretty clear he apologized only because he was told he had to or he would be banned from the floor of the house until he did. That's hardly an apology.It wasn't even the first time the man "let his emotions get the best of him."

Turns out, in mid-December 2003, Essie Mae Washington-Williams, an African American and daughter of the above mentioned Carrie Butler, came forward with the bombshell that she was the illegitimate daughter of the recently-deceased patriarch of South Carolina politics, Sen. Strom Thurmond.

Rep. Wilson, a former page of Thurmond's, immediately told The State newspaper that he didn't believe Williams. He deemed the revelation "unseemly." And he added that even if she was telling the truth, she should have kept the inconvenient facts to herself."It's a smear on the image that [Thurmond] has as a person of high integrity who has been so loyal to the people of South Carolina," Wilson said.

And, of course, Rep. Wilson is a veritable paragon of virtue, a virtual bastion of 'high integrity'.Smear? 'Takes one to know one', eh?

While racism is certainly a central dynamic to the lack of civility in our public discourse, it can not be underestimated as the underlying cause of the outbursts during the Joint Session of Congress, which are fueled by the volatile, toxic fodder spread by Glen Beck and Rush Limbaugh, as well as the . . ."concern" . . . expressed by parents who didn't want their school-aged children to listen to a special address by the President of the United States.

Imagine! And, what did the President say? Oh, stuff like this:

"But at the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, and the best schools in the world – and none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities. Unless you show up to those schools; pay attention to those teachers; listen to your parents, grandparents and other adults; and put in the hard work it takes to succeed."


"We need every single one of you to develop your talents, skills and intellect so you can help solve our most difficult problems. If you don’t do that – if you quit on school – you’re not just quitting on yourself, you’re quitting on your country."

Hard work? Personal Responsibility? Patriotism? Even 'honor thy father and mother'? Sounds like the making of a 'commie socialist plot' to me.Yes, all of this is being fueled by the religious fervor of Radical Right Fringe groups.

Yes, it is part of the "Political Theater" that has always been part of our system of government since the Boston Tea Party - not to be confused with the present day 'Tea Baggers'.

It's pretty clear to me that Obama's race leads some of his critics to feel they have permission to deny him the legitimacy, stature and common courtesy that are any president's due.

The ugly, public demonstration of the lack of civility among some members of Congress is just the tip of the iceberg of escalating violence in this country. Yes, people are anxious about the inflation, recession, depression and rising unemployment that are part of our present reality.

All of these anxieties find an unhappy home in the issue of Health Care Reform. Those who are most anxious, however, seem to have forgotten that the same Right Wing Nuts who are feeding their fears are the very ones who helped to bring it about.

During his speech to the Joint Session of Congress on Health Care Reform, President Obama said "I am not the first president to take up this cause, but I am determined to be the last."

Given the building climate of violence in this country, I don't know if I'm the only one who had the thought, "That may be the greatest line of this speech" while simultaneously experiencing a cold chill. I'm hoping and praying that this was not an awful premonition of the consequences of his determination.

Take a good look. The lack of civility we saw the other night is the public face of racism in this country. It's far from a pretty picture.

The question is: What are we - especially those of us who are Christians - going to do about it?

Friday, 11 September 2009



"Senator", "Representative", "Bishop", "The Revd", "The Honourable", "Judge" , "Lord", or "Sir/Dame" before a person's name


"M.P.", "D.D.", "O.B.E" (etc) after a person's name

Ought not, in and of itself, lead us to believe that that person is wise, intelligent, honourable, or trustworthy.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

All over the map


Ben and I did a wee shopping trip today. I needed to donate some items to the St. Boniface Thrift Shop, and he needed to buy some items at “Bed, Bath and Beyond”.

It was good for Ben to be out of his house as the Plumbers were there in full force. He’s had a major underground water pipe leak, so his nice home is in a state of chaos.

(The “State of Chaos” is of course in Republican hands).

After our shopping we went to Sarasota’s “Island Park” and ate a simple picnic lunch with I had prepared - including the so-called “New-Englander” sandwich of which I wrote yesterday. There are some pictures of the park below. I am lucky to be living in a City which has such a place.

[“The Kiss” statue, based on a 1945 “Time” photograph is not entirely popular in SRQ ( but I like it, so there!)]

Ben and I love to chat about old fashioned words. (What else is there to do after you’ve finished “curmudgeoning” about the pathetic Republican Party?)

Today we were on “pantechnicons” see

And “charabancs” see

There are pictures of these too!


As os 3:30 p.m. today my fabulous dog Penne had not eaten for 48 hours. Like a desperate parent who calls a Paediatrican (English spelling) when her/his child will not eat, I called my Veterinarian. He was not “phased” and recommended that I should cook a bit of hamburger meat for her.

Penne, of course ate this with relish. She needs to understand that this was a rare treat, and that it is back to canned food ASAP.









Wednesday, 9 September 2009

A darned good sandwich

I first encountered this sandwich at Samel’s Deli on Elm Street in Pittsfield MA. There it was called “The New Englander”.

You’ll need good bread. Whole wheat is fine, multi-grain is better.

( Target “Super Stores” sell a terrific multi-grain bread).

As a spread I use good Dijon mustard, but other prefer mayonnaise.

If you live in the American south, do be sure to use “Duke’s” mayo - it is simply the best.

The fillers are:

1. Turkey Breast. (Winn-Dixie stores in the south have excellent rotisserie turkey breast – it actually tastes like turkey!)

2. Sliced cheese. I recommend good sharp Cheddar, but sliced Swiss is also good – just so long as the cheese you choose is real cheese (not a “cheese-product”), and has a “tangy” flavor. “Publix stores” have a good range of sliced and real cheeses.

3. Thin slices of peeled “Granny Smith” apple.

4. Maybe a leaf or two of Romaine lettuce.

If you are not in Target/Duke’s Mayo/ Winn-Dixie/Publix territory then:-

make sure that you have good bread;
that the turkey breast tastes like turkey;
that you use the best mustard or mayo;
and that the cheese tastes like cheese.

I trust that the crucial ingredient - Granny Smith apple – is available wherever you live. Slice it thinly – maybe a quarter of an inch thick.

Eat the sandwich at lunch with a friend or family member.

Your post eating comments are welcome.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

A question for you

Do my cats glare at me?

Or is it that I think that they are glaring at me?

I need to know.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Tampon and Condoms ( 2 of 2 for today)

The photo’s of Penne and me which I posted yesterday were taken my Mary Caulfield. Mary is a good friend from St. James’s, Cambridge who visits her parents in North Redington Beach, FL about twice a year. Mary and I try to get together when she makes those visits.Yesterday’s photo’s were taken at a very pleasant picnic area at the north end of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge where Mary and I met for a sandwich lunch.--------------------------------------------------------------------

Homeless people endure many indignities.

One such is for women who are menstruating and have no money for sanitary products. We keep a supply of such items at Resurrection House. For some reason we hide them away in a drawer. Some women are very reluctant to ask a male volunteer to access them. As Chaplain I am a “safe person” to be asked if no female volunteers are nearby.

Strangely enough, we keep a basket laden with condoms in full view.

I think that we are giving a very mixed message - i.e. that men are expected to need condoms, but that women should be embarrassed by menstruation.

This leads me to say that the work of feminism is far from over, and is still vital.

My own feminist awareness needs more than a little tweaking.

For instance, as I was listening to a radio program today a person who called in spoke of a ‘bus driver. I immediately thought of a male driver.

Speaking of radio.

(1) Announcers on WGCU (one of my local public radio stations) invariably pronounce Florida as if it were spelt “Floorida” (as in “floor”). I think that it should be pronounced “Flow-reeda”, but then again what do I know!

(2) But I do know how to spell and pronounce “athlete”. So I gritted my teeth today, when on the self-same public radio station, a man kept pronouncing the word as if it were spelt “ath-a-lete”

Right wing. Republican and Evangelical nut-cases ( 1 of 2 for today)

Right wing, Republican and Evangelical nutcases have opposed the following speech by President Obama, to be delivered on 8th Sep 2009.

I suppose that means that they are opposed to education.

It's an unexceptional speech, filled with platitudes, and guaranteed to bore just about every student.

But it contains no brain-washing; nothing socialist or seditious; nothing which will undermine our Republic.

So why have the Republican/Right wing/ Fundamentalist/ Evangelical fear mongers gotten all riled up about the speech? You tell me.


Psst. Is it because our President is African American? jmp


The President: Hello everyone – how’s everybody doing today? I’m here with students at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia. And we’ve got students tuning in from all across America, kindergarten through twelfth grade. I’m glad you all could join us today.

I know that for many of you, today is the first day of school. And for those of you in kindergarten, or starting middle or high school, it’s your first day in a new school, so it’s understandable if you’re a little nervous. I imagine there are some seniors out there who are feeling pretty good right now, with just one more year to go. And no matter what grade you’re in, some of you are probably wishing it were still summer, and you could’ve stayed in bed just a little longer this morning.

I know that feeling. When I was young, my family lived in Indonesia for a few years, and my mother didn’t have the money to send me where all the American kids went to school. So she decided to teach me extra lessons herself, Monday through Friday – at 4:30 in the morning.

Now I wasn’t too happy about getting up that early. A lot of times, I’d fall asleep right there at the kitchen table. But whenever I’d complain, my mother would just give me one of those looks and say, "This is no picnic for me either, buster."

So I know some of you are still adjusting to being back at school. But I’m here today because I have something important to discuss with you. I’m here because I want to talk with you about your education and what’s expected of all of you in this new school year.

Now I’ve given a lot of speeches about education. And I’ve talked a lot about responsibility.

I’ve talked about your teachers’ responsibility for inspiring you, and pushing you to learn.

I’ve talked about your parents’ responsibility for making sure you stay on track, and get your homework done, and don’t spend every waking hour in front of the TV or with that Xbox.

I’ve talked a lot about your government’s responsibility for setting high standards, supporting teachers and principals, and turning around schools that aren’t working where students aren’t getting the opportunities they deserve.

But at the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, and the best schools in the world – and none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities. Unless you show up to those schools; pay attention to those teachers; listen to your parents, grandparents and other adults; and put in the hard work it takes to succeed.

And that’s what I want to focus on today: the responsibility each of you has for your education. I want to start with the responsibility you have to yourself.

Every single one of you has something you’re good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is. That’s the opportunity an education can provide.

Maybe you could be a good writer – maybe even good enough to write a book or articles in a newspaper – but you might not know it until you write a paper for your English class. Maybe you could be an innovator or an inventor – maybe even good enough to come up with the next iPhone or a new medicine or vaccine – but you might not know it until you do a project for your science class. Maybe you could be a mayor or a Senator or a Supreme Court Justice, but you might not know that until you join student government or the debate team.

And no matter what you want to do with your life – I guarantee that you’ll need an education to do it. You want to be a doctor, or a teacher, or a police officer? You want to be a nurse or an architect, a lawyer or a member of our military?

You’re going to need a good education for every single one of those careers. You can’t drop out of school and just drop into a good job. You’ve got to work for it and train for it and learn for it.

And this isn’t just important for your own life and your own future. What you make of your education will decide nothing less than the future of this country. What you’re learning in school today will determine whether we as a nation can meet our greatest challenges in the future.

You’ll need the knowledge and problem-solving skills you learn in science and math to cure diseases like cancer and AIDS, and to develop new energy technologies and protect our environment. You’ll need the insights and critical thinking skills you gain in history and social studies to fight poverty and homelessness, crime and discrimination, and make our nation more fair and more free. You’ll need the creativity and ingenuity you develop in all your classes to build new companies that will create new jobs and boost our economy.

We need every single one of you to develop your talents, skills and intellect so you can help solve our most difficult problems. If you don’t do that – if you quit on school – you’re not just quitting on yourself, you’re quitting on your country.

Now I know it’s not always easy to do well in school. I know a lot of you have challenges in your lives right now that can make it hard to focus on your schoolwork.

I get it. I know what that’s like. My father left my family when I was two years old, and I was raised by a single mother who struggled at times to pay the bills and wasn’t always able to give us things the other kids had. There were times when I missed having a father in my life. There were times when I was lonely and felt like I didn’t fit in.

So I wasn’t always as focused as I should have been. I did some things I’m not proud of, and got in more trouble than I should have. And my life could have easily taken a turn for the worse.

But I was fortunate. I got a lot of second chances and had the opportunity to go to college, and law school, and follow my dreams. My wife, our First Lady Michelle Obama, has a similar story. Neither of her parents had gone to college, and they didn’t have much. But they worked hard, and she worked hard, so that she could go to the best schools in this country.

Some of you might not have those advantages. Maybe you don’t have adults in your life who give you the support that you need. Maybe someone in your family has lost their job, and there’s not enough money to go around. Maybe you live in a neighborhood where you don’t feel safe, or have friends who are pressuring you to do things you know aren’t right.

But at the end of the day, the circumstances of your life – what you look like, where you come from, how much money you have, what you’ve got going on at home – that’s no excuse for neglecting your homework or having a bad attitude. That’s no excuse for talking back to your teacher, or cutting class, or dropping out of school. That’s no excuse for not trying.

Where you are right now doesn’t have to determine where you’ll end up. No one’s written your destiny for you. Here in America, you write your own destiny. You make your own future.

That’s what young people like you are doing every day, all across America.
Young people like Jazmin Perez, from Roma, Texas. Jazmin didn’t speak English when she first started school. Hardly anyone in her hometown went to college, and neither of her parents had gone either. But she worked hard, earned good grades, got a scholarship to Brown University, and is now in graduate school, studying public health, on her way to being Dr. Jazmin Perez.

I’m thinking about Andoni Schultz, from Los Altos, California, who’s fought brain cancer since he was three. He’s endured all sorts of treatments and surgeries, one of which affected his memory, so it took him much longer – hundreds of extra hours – to do his schoolwork. But he never fell behind, and he’s headed to college this fall.

And then there’s Shantell Steve, from my hometown of Chicago, Illinois. Even when bouncing from foster home to foster home in the toughest neighborhoods, she managed to get a job at a local health center; start a program to keep young people out of gangs; and she’s on track to graduate high school with honors and go on to college.

Jazmin, Andoni and Shantell aren’t any different from any of you. They faced challenges in their lives just like you do. But they refused to give up. They chose to take responsibility for their education and set goals for themselves. And I expect all of you to do the same.

That’s why today, I’m calling on each of you to set your own goals for your education – and to do everything you can to meet them.

Your goal can be something as simple as doing all your homework, paying attention in class, or spending time each day reading a book. Maybe you’ll decide to get involved in an extracurricular activity, or volunteer in your community.

Maybe you’ll decide to stand up for kids who are being teased or bullied because of who they are or how they look, because you believe, like I do, that all kids deserve a safe environment to study and learn.

Maybe you’ll decide to take better care of yourself so you can be more ready to learn. And along those lines, I hope you’ll all wash your hands a lot, and stay home from school when you don’t feel well, so we can keep people from getting the flu this fall and winter.

Whatever you resolve to do, I want you to commit to it. I want you to really work at it.

I know that sometimes, you get the sense from TV that you can be rich and successful without any hard work -- that your ticket to success is through rapping or basketball or being a reality TV star, when chances are, you’re not going to be any of those things.

But the truth is, being successful is hard. You won’t love every subject you study. You won’t click with every teacher. Not every homework assignment will seem completely relevant to your life right this minute. And you won’t necessarily succeed at everything the first time you try.

That’s OK. Some of the most successful people in the world are the ones who’ve had the most failures. JK Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was rejected twelve times before it was finally published.

Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team, and he lost hundreds of games and missed thousands of shots during his career. But he once said, "I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."

These people succeeded because they understand that you can’t let your failures define you – you have to let them teach you. You have to let them show you what to do differently next time. If you get in trouble, that doesn’t mean you’re a troublemaker, it means you need to try harder to behave. If you get a bad grade, that doesn’t mean you’re stupid, it just means you need to spend more time studying.

No one’s born being good at things, you become good at things through hard work. You’re not a varsity athlete the first time you play a new sport. You don’t hit every note the first time you sing a song. You’ve got to practice. It’s the same with your schoolwork. You might have to do a math problem a few times before you get it right, or read something a few times before you understand it, or do a few drafts of a paper before it’s good enough to hand in.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I do that every day. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. It shows you have the courage to admit when you don’t know something, and to learn something new. So find an adult you trust – a parent, grandparent or teacher; a coach or counselor – and ask them to help you stay on track to meet your goals.

And even when you’re struggling, even when you’re discouraged, and you feel like other people have given up on you – don’t ever give up on yourself. Because when you give up on yourself, you give up on your country.

The story of America isn’t about people who quit when things got tough. It’s about people who kept going, who tried harder, who loved their country too much to do anything less than their best.

It’s the story of students who sat where you sit 250 years ago, and went on to wage a revolution and found this nation. Students who sat where you sit 75 years ago who overcame a Depression and won a world war; who fought for civil rights and put a man on the moon. Students who sat where you sit 20 years ago who founded Google, Twitter and Facebook and changed the way we communicate with each other.

So today, I want to ask you, what’s your contribution going to be? What problems are you going to solve? What discoveries will you make? What will a president who comes here in twenty or fifty or one hundred years say about what all of you did for this country?

Your families, your teachers, and I are doing everything we can to make sure you have the education you need to answer these questions. I’m working hard to fix up your classrooms and get you the books, equipment and computers you need to learn. But you’ve got to do your part too. So I expect you to get serious this year. I expect you to put your best effort into everything you do. I expect great things from each of you. So don’t let us down – don’t let your family or your country or yourself down. Make us all proud. I know you can do it.

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Photo's 6th Sep 2009. SERMON BELOW

My sermon at All Angels on Longboat Key, Sarasota, FL is below.

Here are a few photo's from today.

Two are of the glorious sunrise I enjoyed from my Lanai this morning.

Two are of my dog Penne and me. We drove over to Pinellas County, FL to have lunch with my Cambridge, MA friend, Mary Caulfield.

Sermon for 6th September 2009

Sermon for 6th September 2009. The Revd. J. Michael Povey at All Angels by the Sea, Longboat Key, FL
James 2:1-17; Mark 7:24-37

Here is a story about a healing service in a “holy roller” Church.

"Anyone with needs to be prayed over, come forward, to the front at the altar," the Preacher says. Bubba gets in line, and when it's his turn, the preacher asks: "Bubba, what do you want me to pray about for you." Bubba replies: "Preacher, I need you to pray for my hearing." The preacher puts one finger in Bubba's ear, and he places the other hand on top of Bubba's head and prays and prays and prays.

After a few minutes, the Preacher removes his hands, stands back and asks,"Bubba, how is your hearing now?" Bubba says, "I don't know, Reverend, it ain't 'til next Wednesday!"

It is the call of a Rector to be both a coach and a cheerleader. If he or she only coaches, the congregation will grow weary and frustrated. If she or he only cheerleads, the congregation will become flabby and self-satisfied.

What I refer to as coaching might also be called teaching, or educating. The best teachers are those who not only impart information, but also “draw out” from the student that we she or he already knows, or can infer. (“Educate” and “educe” come from the same linguistic root).

I have had the good fortune to visit both Tyre and Sidon. In Sidon I walked around the old Souk or market, a place bustling with people, market stalls and caged chickens and rabbits, ready to be taken home and slaughtered for dinner.

I also went out to the old Crusader Fort where I chatted with two young Muslim men: they were playing hooky from school. I tried to draw out from them what they knew about the USA. They drew out from me what I knew about Lebanon.

In Sidon I saw the ruins of the old Roman City, and tried to imagine Jesus walking those ancient streets.

Tyre and Sidon were “foreign territories” for me, as they were for Jesus. He was in a Gentile region. Somehow a Gentile woman had heard of him, and she begged him to heal her daughter. At first blush his response seems curt, blunt and rude. “Let the children be fed first”, he says, “for it is not fair to take the children’s food and feed it to the dogs”. It’s clear who the children are - they are Jesus’ fellow Israelites. And the dogs are the Gentiles.

Jesus met his match in this woman in this quick witted woman. “Sir”, she answered, “even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs”.

I suggest that Jesus was not in fact being so harsh to the woman. I believe that he is drawing out from her something she already knew. He baits her with words about dogs, so that she can rise to that bait, and give him an answer which surely made him smile.

If the food represents the grace and mercy of God, then this woman already knew that grace and mercy is extended to all people, including Gentile women. And the deeper miracle for the deaf man in the other story from Mark was that he was able to hear about that marvelous grace and mercy.

Jesus’ encounter with the woman is a good model for what we call evangelism.

When we speak about our faith to others it should not be to prove that we know everything and they know nothing.

Nor should it be to prove that they are wrong and we are right.

Rather, evangelism is to draw out from the other person what they already know to be true.

Having coached them in that manner, we then become joyful cheerleaders as we affirm that faith they already have.

St. James coaches us all this morning. He asks us to examine the ways in which we as a Christian congregation make distinctions about people, distinctions which are based on our own inherent prejudices - yes indeed you and I tend to want to hang around with people who are just like us.

Many years ago a married couple with two young children came to St. Stephen’s Parish in Pittsfield where I was Rector. They arrived a little late, and entering via the parish hall they came in to the Sanctuary at the front by the Altar. They were splendidly and elegantly dressed, and they paused for a moment, surveying the congregation, as it were.

After service a cheer-leading parishioner approached me and said “Did you see that wonderful couple and their lovely children. We’ll have to make sure that they join us”. That was the moment for me to engage in a little gentle coaching”. “Jim”, I said, “would you have made the same comment had they been shabbily dressed?”

My mind was on the passage from James we read this morning. My parishioner was sufficiently savvy and self-secure to respond positively to my coaching. My words were intended to loose his ears to what the scriptures teach.

In evangelism, Scripture calls us to have a different prejudice - one which is rooted in the grace and mercy of God for all people, rich or poor.

I need coaching, and I need to be a cheerleader. But for this to happen I need to be healed of religious deafness, so that I can have compassionate hearing.

This most often happens as I work with the poor at Resurrection House. They are not my kind of people. But they teach me.

Last week at our prayer service a woman spoke. She was probably in her sixties. Her face was worn and sad. Her expression was earnest.

She talked about flip-flops.She told us that many years ago she had a house in which to live, but she had very little money. Her only foot-wear was a pair of flip-flops. Lord, how she hated those inadequate flip-flops.

She went on to tell us of her amazement that in these days “everyone” wears flip-flops. Why, she wondered, would folks choose to wear the foot-wear which to her was a sign and reminder of poverty?

She added that “everyone looks at your shoes to judge who you are”. Then she told us that although she is now homeless she always tries to wear good shoes. I "heard her".

The Prayer service always takes place on Wednesday mornings.

Like “Bubba” in my opening story, my "hearing" is also on next Wednesday.