Saturday, 19 September 2009

Good stuff via my brother Martyn and his colleague Dudley

1. Never, under any circumstances, take a sleeping pill and a laxative
on the same night.

2. If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race
has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that
word would be "meetings."

3. There is a very fine line between a hobby and mental illness.

4. People who want to share their religious views with you almost
never want you to share yours with them.

5. You should not confuse your career with your life.

6. Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and dance.

7. Never lick a steak knife.

8. The most destructive force in the universe is gossip.

9. You will never find anybody who can give you a clear and
compelling reason why we observe daylight savings time.

10. You should never say anything to a woman that even remotely
suggests that you think she's pregnant unless you can see an actual
baby emerging from her at that moment.

11. There comes a time when you should stop expecting other people to
make a big deal about your birthday. That time is age eleven.

12. The one thing that unites all human beings, regardless of age,
gender, religion, economic status or ethnic background, is that, deep
down inside, we ALL believe that we are above average drivers.

13. A person, who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a
nice person. (This is very important. Pay attention. It never fails.)

14. Your friends love you anyway.

15. Never be afraid to try something new. Remember that a lone
amateur built the Ark. A large group of professionals built the

Friday, 18 September 2009


The "check engine" light came on in my Hyundai car today.

I had to wait for an hour today at the car dealership, for the computerised diagnostic test.

Do not be shocked - it revealed that my car engine needs a new "oxygen sensor".

D'ya ever have the feeling that every diagnostic test on cars/autos ends up with the the diagnosis of "oxygen sensor malfunction"?

I had an appointment with my Physician for 3:00 p.m. ( a routine appointment - no crisis in my health!). She finally saw me at 4:30 p.m.

I'd probably "give up" on a lunch date should a friend be 90 minutes late.
But my Physician is so wise and cool that I waited, and waited, and waited.

The waiting itself was not bad, but the constant reporting of news from the waiting room T.V. drove me to distraction. It was the "same old, same old non-news".

Lest I surrender to terminal old-cootiness, here are a few pictorials which amuse me, and which I hope will do the same for you!

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Old friends - and heritical thoughts

Yesterday I attended the closing Eucharist and lunch at the Episcopal Diocese of South West Florida annual retreat for Priests and Deacons.

I wanted to be there to listen to OLD FRIEND 1, Curtis Almquist, the (Father) “Superior” at the Episcopal Monastery on Memorial Drive, Cambridge, MA - a “house” of the Society of St. John the Evangelist (SSJE).

SSJE (a.k.a. “the Cowley Fathers”) was founded in Cowley, Oxford OK in 1865. It was the first Anglican (Church of England) monastic order to be established after the English Reformation.

The Cambridge MA Monastery is a source of great wisdom for the Episcopal Church. Much of this is thanks to Curtis Almquist, so I was happy to be able to see and hear him again.

I was not disappointed. His meditation at the service yesterday on “The dreams we have, and the dreams into which we live” moved me to be teary eyed. The older I get, the tearier I become. I welcome the tears with gratitude to Curtis. He speaks truth.

OLD FRIEND 2 was the hymn we sang during Communion “Take my life and let it be, consecrated Lord to Thee”.

In the absence of a good supply of hymnals I sang it, almost word perfect, from memory. For of course I learned it 50 – 55 years ago in the fundamentalist Gospel Hall/Plymouth Brethren congregation in which I was raised.

I disliked the hymn all those years ago. I sang it with good voice, but not with good heart yesterday. I simply cannot sing the words with truthfulness of heart.

Later at the Communion we sang the hymn which I dislike with a passion “Amazing Grace”. It’s become a favourite of many because of Judy Collins’ and Scottish Bagpipers’ renditions. It is, for me, like English Roast Beef – “overdone, grey and dry”.

But, to be a good sport I sang along with the others. But I could not help but whisper to my colleague Andrea Taylor that the last verse makes heaven sound so boring.

“When we’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the Sun.
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise, than when we first begun”.

Lord above, I do not wish or care to be there, or anywhere, for ten thousand years. 60, 70, or 80 years of consciousness is quite enough, thank you!

Yours heretically.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Joe Wilson does not have a racist bone in his body. I have racism in my soul

South Carolina Representative Joe Wilson (R), is the man who cried out “you lie” during President Barack Obama’s address to a joint session of congress.

Various folks: my friend and Episcopal blogger Elizabeth Kaeton, NY Times columnist Maureen Dowd, my friend and Boston Globe columnist Derrick Jackson, President Jimmy Carter - and I - have wondered aloud if there is a racist component to the widespread anger directed at our President. We wondered if Rep. Wilson’s verbal ejaculation was the tip of an ugly racist ice-berg.

Rep. Wilson’s son commented as follows in response to President Jimmy Carter’s assertions.

"There is not a racist bone in my dad's body," said Alan Wilson, an Iraq veteran who is running for state attorney general in South Carolina. "He doesn't even laugh at distasteful jokes. I won't comment on former President Carter, because I don't know President Carter. But I know my dad, and it's just not in him."

And you know - I believe Alan Wilson.

I believe that his knowledge of his dad is just as he says – a certain knowledge that “there is not a racist bone in my dad’s body”.

I do not know Joe Wilson or Alan Wilson.

Their politics are not mine for sure, and I think that Joe Wilson was at the very least discourteous and stupid to cry out “you lie”. (Wise people know when to speak and when to keep silence).

But I know something about myself.

I would want it to be said of me that “there is not a racist bone in his body”.
If that were said I would smile, and then demure.

For I know that unconsciously, or sub-consciously, I am infected by the sin of racism.

It’s there.

I may deny it.

I will fight it.

I will repent of it.


But to be sure, it’s there.

British and American white males of my generation grew up with the certainties that the “rest of the world” was to be seen and judged through the lenses of our superiority.

This means that I am capable of the meanest and most horrid racist thoughts.

My bones may not be racist.

But my soul is.

Mea culpa.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Dreadnought / Massie

Ok. I am an old fart. I knew that it would come to this. I had planned to be a “coot”, or a “curmudgeon”, but “old fart” will do.

I realized this today when on “Face Book” I saw references to Kanye West and Taylor Swift. I had to “Google” these names in order to discover references to the MTV awards. Thank goodness I knew that MTV stood for “Maryland Transit Vehicles”, or maybe it is “Marcia’s Terrific Vulgarity”.

You see, I do not watch T.V. for anything more than 30 minutes each week. That’s simply to tune into SNN (Sarasota News Network) to check whether or not my neighborhood has been taken over by Repuglicans.

So what do I do in my spare time?

Of some things I will not speak, lest you blush.

But I read. I read books of history and biography.

At present I am immersed in the 900 or so page “Dreadnought” by Robert K Massie (Random House 1991). Massie’s book is a “tour de force” of the events in Germany and Great Britain, which led to “The Great War”.

(Here I will add a disclaimer. I have met Robert K. Massie. I met him in Cambridge MA where his son (The Revd) Robert K. Massie, Jr) was one of the Assisting Priest at St. James’s where I was Rector from 2000 – 2006)

That being said, I recommend the book, and venture to say that Massie’s “take” on the 1890- 1914 events in Western Europe is prescient for today.

My English heritage begs you to read more about the great Sea Lord “John Fisher”. He was the visionary who enabled the building of British “Dreadnought” vessels. He was admiited to the Royal Navy at aged 13 by being able to write out the Lord’s Prayer and jump (naked) over a chair. That being accomplished, he was given a glass of Sherry.

Later he became one of the greatest of Britain’s great seamen.,_1st_Baron_Fisher

I am also intrigued by the short term Liberal Party Prime Minister, Henry Campbell-Bannerman, and his courage in identifying the barbarous nature of British Concentration Camp in South Africa.

On a lighter noteMassie tells how C-B would choose one walking stick for his peregrinations, and then apologize to the others for not selecting them. He (C-B) would also salute, and greet the trees planted in a ring around his estate.

C-B had a host of pencil stubs in his desk drawer. He would not dispose of them, on the basis that they were old friends who had served him well.

Thanks to R.K. Massie I have a new understanding of the demise of the old British Liberal Party because of divisions regarding “Irish Home Rule” and “Imperialism”.

It had given me new insights about my (British) people’s perfidy in the “Boer War”, and the British creation (in South Africa) of Concentration Camps.

It re-introduced me to men of whom my parents talked - Campbell-Bannerman, Balfour, Asquith, Lloyd George etc.

It informed of the sad history of German “blood and iron” philosophy.

It helped me to understand again the pride, stupidity and folly in Britain and in Germany which led to that most un-necessary of conflicts– the “Great War”

My friends – read the book!

And many thanks to you Robert K. Massie, Sr

Monday, 14 September 2009


Old, but good. Not sacrilegious but funny!

If the disciples had been gay.'

1. The sermon on the mount would be a musical

2. Jesus would never wear white after Labor Day

3. Catholic Priests would get married … wait a minute..…never mind…forget that thought

4. The Gospels would be Matthew, March, Luke and Bruce

5. Mary’s hair would be flawless

6. The Temple would not have been cleansed of money-changers, just redecorated

7. The water at the wedding feast in Cana of Galilee would have turned into dry martinis, with a splash of Curacao for colour

8. The triumphal entry would have included a drag number

9. The beatitudes would each begin “fabulous are they….”

10. The Eucharist would be a brunch

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Sentimental loveliness

I stole this ta(i)le from Two Aunties" via "The Mad Priest" for those of us who's best friend is and was the four footed kind!

A man and his dog were walking along a road. The man was enjoying the scenery, when it suddenly occurred to him that he was dead.

He remembered dying, and that the dog walking beside him had been dead for years. He wondered where the road was leading them.

After a while, they came to a high, white stone wall, along one side of the road, it looked like fine marble. At the top of a long hill, it was broken by a tall arch that glowed in the sunlight. When he was standing before it he saw a magnificent gate in the arch that looked like mother-of-pearl, and the street that led to the gate looked like pure gold. He and the dog walked toward the gate, and as he got closer, he saw a man at a desk to one side.

When he was close enough, he called out, 'Excuse me, where are we?'
'This is Heaven, sir,' the man answered.

'Wow! Would you happen to have some water?' the man asked.
'Of course, sir. Come right in, and I'll have some ice water brought right up.'

The man gestured, and the gate began to open.

'Can my friend,' gesturing toward his dog, 'come in, too?' the traveller asked.

'I'm sorry, sir, but we don't accept pets.'

The man thought a moment and then turned back toward the road and continued the way he had been going with his dog.

After another long walk, and at the top of another long hill, he came to a dirt road leading through a farm gate that looked as if it had never been closed.

There was no fence.

As he approached the gate, he saw a man inside, leaning against a tree and reading a book. 'Excuse me!' he called to the man. 'Do you have any water?'

Yeah, sure, there's a pump over there, come on in.'

'How about my friend here?' the traveller gestured to the dog.

'There should be a bowl by the pump.'

They went through the gate, and sure enough, there was an old-fashioned hand pump with a bowl beside it. The traveller filled the water bowl and took a long drink himself, then he gave some to the dog.

When they were full, he and the dog walked back toward the man who was standing by the tree.

'What do you call this place?' the traveller asked.

This is Heaven,' he answered.

'Well, that's confusing,' the traveller said. 'The man down the road said that was Heaven, too.'

'Oh, you mean the place with the gold street and pearly gates? Nope. That's hell.'

'Doesn't it make you mad for them to use your name like that?'

'No, we're just happy that they screen out the people who would leave their best friends behind.'