Saturday, 9 January 2010

From a liberalist

When and why, in popular culture, did Muslims get to be called Islamists?

Should Christians be called Christianists?

Should  Jews be called Jewists (or perhaps Judaists)?

Just a thought from a Liberalist Christianist Homosexualist.

Friday, 8 January 2010

England? Britain? Great Britain? The U.K.?

Here is a remarkable satellite image of  a snow covered Great Britain, taken on 7th January 2010. I lifted it from a BBC website.

The BBC correctly identified it as “Great Britain”.

Here’s the dope.

“Great Britain” is a geographical term which refers to the western european island which includes England, Scotland and Wales.

“Britain” is an historical word which far antedates the emergence of Scotland and England as nations.

The “British Isles” is another geographical term. It refers to Great Britain, and to the many small islands off the coasts of England, Scotland and Wales.

Historical and geographically Ireland is also a “British Isle”, but for political reasons that reference has been dropped.

Scotland and England have been nation states – both were monarchies, and had parliaments.

Wales has never been a nation state: - in the sense that there never was a parliament which embraced the entire Welsh homeland. That homeland was, by hook or by crook, absorbed into the English kingdom and parliament.

The island of Ireland had a number of local kingdoms, but no national government. It was colonized by both the English and the Scots.

It was not until 1922 that the 26 southern counties of Ireland were constituted as the “Irish Free State” (a Dominion within the British Commonwealth). In due course that Dominion
asserted full independence and emerged as the Republic of Ireland.

The 6 northern counties of Ireland declined to be include in the Irish Free State. They, for religious reasons, retained loyalty to the British Crown and became known as “Ulster” or as “Northern Ireland”.

The “United Kingdom” refers to the union of the kingdoms and parliaments of Scotland and England, in 1707.

Each nation had been headed by the same Monarch from 1603, when King James VI of Scotland inherited the throne of England, and became King James I of England.

Thus the Monarchs between 1603 and 1707 were Kings of Scotland and also Kings of England.

Queen Anne was the first Monarch of a United Kingdom.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Clever, or crafty?

Each day I walk my dog “Penne” around a local pond. Each trip around the pond is 1/3 mile. We enter and leave on a walkway at the east end of the pond, and we always walk clockwise. Thus, when we enter or exit, we turn left from and to the walkway.

Penne loves to walk and is loathe to quit.

After the first 1/3 mile, as we approach the exit, she steadfastly turns her head to the right, and quickens her pace as if to say “if I cannot see the exit, it is not there”.

She does the same after the second circumnavigation, when we are at 2/3 mile.

At the end of the third trip she gives up, as if to say “I cannot push my luck, Michael will never consider a fourth trip”.

I am not sure if she is clever, or crafty - or a combination of both. But I smile at her “nerve”.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Epiphany 2009

'A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.'
And the camels galled, sore-footed,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.

Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their
liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the
lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns
And the villages dirty and charging high
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears,
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a
temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of
With a running stream and a water-mill
beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped in
away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with
vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for
pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no imformation, and so
we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment
too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say)

All this was a long time ago, I
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth,
We had evidence and no doubt. I had
seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different;
this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like
Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these
But no longer at ease here, in the old
With an alien people clutching their
I should be glad of another death.

Journey Of The Magi by T. S. Eliot

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Name dropping, friends, and the joy of a child.

Life has given me some wonderful friends, and wonderful days.

“Tinka” Perry (see yesterday’s blog) is staying with me. She and I took off in our conversation where we “left off” a number of years ago.

We’ve not seen each other today. She slept in whilst I shoved off to St. Boniface. By the time I got home, Tinka was at the funeral of her friend’s father.

Today I was at the regular Tuesday morning Eucharist at St. Boniface, and the bible study for ordained ministers, which follows the service. We welcomed a guest who, in Christian circles, is a well known theologian – Prof. Harvey Cox. It so happens that Prof. Cox became a friend whilst I was in Cambridge, so we hooked up again today. The other ministers were delighted/awed to have him share in our studies. Then he and I had lunch together, and the opportunity to get caught up.

His daughter lives in Pittsfield, and she knows my Congregational colleague the Revd. Rick Floyd, so we were also able to enjoy some Pittsfield chatter.

Later in the day I got over to All Angels Church on Longboat Key (my other Church) for their annual 12th night Concert. I had a role as “Good King Wenceslas” with the only child in this congregation of seniors as my page. She is the most wonderful Chase, aged 10.

I wanted to weep for the joy of her earnest and lovely and lovely singing. And of course I loved to be showing off, as I sang the role of the King!

Monday, 4 January 2010

How I came to be here ( 2nd of 2 posts today, see # 1 below))

I have uploaded a “new” photo’ on my face book profile.  I cropped it from this photo’, which was taken in 1975.

We are pictured at the now closed Bement Camp and Conference Centre in Charlton, MA.  We had been there for a week of training to equip us to lead vacation church school in the Diocese of Western Massachusetts.

As a result of a friendship with an American seminarian who studied with me at St. John’s Theological College, Nottingham, U.K. his Bishop (the late Alexander D. Stewart) invited me to join one of two vacation church school teams for that summer. We led programmes in the cities of Greenfield, Worcester, Northboro’, and Oxford, MA.

Bishop Stewart liked me well enough to invite me back the next year to serve initially for two years at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Fitchburg, MA.  The rest is history and I am still here.

I made some what proved to be lasting friendships that year.  One such was with the Revd. Gwen W Sears, with whom I served for 16 years in Pittsfield, MA

Another friend from that summer was the late Revd. DeWolf Perry who was destined to play a crucial role in my life as friend and mentor. His wife, Kitty also played an important role in my “formation”.  (I have stayed in touch with two of their children, Dain and “Tinka”).  I saw Dain and his wife Constance last summer and “Tink” is visiting with me even as I write. She is in town for a funeral -  that of the father of her college class-mate.

Noreen Suriner (on the right) was our supervisor that summer.  She was the first woman to be ordained in the Diocese of Western Massachusetts, and was called to ordained ministry from St. Stephen’s in Pittsfield!  She and I are still in touch.

Debby Jenks was also a St. Stephen’s member but the General Electric Company moved her father from Pittsfield to Pennsylvania, and we lost touch.

A silly looking man (First of two posts today)

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Simplicity at All Angels by the Sea, Longboat Key, FL

Episcopalians place great stock in their parish “Coffee Hour”, a time of refreshments which usually follows the later service on any Sunday morning. We sometimes refer to it as “the third sacrament” (after baptism and eucharist).

I’ve attended coffee hours which included sherry or wine with cheese and crackers. In some parishes I’ve endured crummy coffee in a styrofoam cup with ancient cookies.

At St. James’s, Cambridge, MA where I was rector from 2000-2006 “coffee hour” offered such excellent comestibles that I (and many others) were happy to skip lunch when we arrived at home.

At All Angels by the Sea on Longboat Key, FL this morning the food at coffee hour was both simple and entirely delicious. Our hosts provided good bread and butter, with excellent preserves (jams).

Wow oh wow! Good slices of baguette type bread, with fruit-filled preserves. Who could ask for anything more.