Friday, 5 November 2010

Off line for a while

My blog will be off-line until Monday 8th November 2010

In the meantime here are some local scenes.

1. Bougainvillea

2.Flowering tree in November 2010

3. Neighbourhood visitor

4. Snowy Egret in the shrubs.

5 and 6.    Bismark Palm

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Post election. Yes, Mr. President.

Yes Mr. President.

Come 2011 the House of Representatives will be dominated by the G.O.P.  (Greedy Oligarchs Party).

The Senate will have a DEM majority (Dismal, Enervated, Milquetoast Party).

Thank heavens we shall still have our excellent and wise President.  He has a good mind which he puts to good use.  He is mercifully unflappable. 

Thankfully he is possessed with neither the braggadocio of George Bush, nor the lack of personal discipline of Bill Clinton.   

His is a calm presence in a wild political season. 

His is the voice of moderation midst the clamour of un-reason.

President Barack Obama ran for office on the slogan of “Yes WE can”. 

He did not say “I can”.

He did not say “the Democrats can”.  

 He said “Yes, WE can”.

Sadly the Republicans and the “Blue-Dog” Democrats chose not to be part of the WE, even though he led from the centre.  Instead they chose to oppose him at every turn. 

In his fine press conference today the President again indicated that he will work with both Republicans and Democrats to do what can be done (politics is the art of the possible) for the good of our nation.

If only the new Congress will understand that just as our foundational document begins with the words “WE the people”;  so they will serve us all best if they place the word “WE”  before and instead of all party, factional and sectarian vested interests.   

“WE” deserve no less.

Yes indeed Mr. President. “WE CAN!”

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Why I am a joyfully liberal Christian

Church leaders meet with President on eve of election

(Episcopal Church) Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and other church leaders met with President Obama on the eve of the election. The National Council of Churches revealed the meeting in a press release Monday, as reported by the Rev. Chuck Currie of the United Church of Christ:
This afternoon, on the eve of the mid-term election and in celebration of 100 years of U.S. Christian cooperation across denominational lines, prominent American Christian leaders met with President Obama to speak for the millions of Americans struggling to find jobs, make their next rent or mortgage payment, and put food on the table.

Leaders with both the National Council of Churches and the global humanitarian agency Church World Service thanked President Obama for passage of historic health reform legislation and robust engagement with the faith community, while also pressing him to take a strong stance on behalf of families facing poverty and hunger.

Rest of report below: 

"As the economic downturn has battered the middle class, it has been even more devastating to those already living on the economic margins of society," said Rev. Peg Chemberlin, the president of the National Council of Churches, which represents 45 million people and 100,000 congregations in the U.S. "Our denominations and organizations are on the front lines-providing meals, support, and assistance to those hit hard by the economic downturn-but we know that more needs to be done." 

As political campaign rhetoric has descended into fear-mongering and divisiveness in the past few months, these leaders also spoke in a unified voice to inject civility and hope back into the public dialogue. The delegation emphasized the need to work together towards the common good and the power of churches to lead and break down walls of division across the world.

"Regardless of the outcome of tomorrow's election, our faithful witness is needed now more than ever," said Rev. Michael Kinnamon, general secretary of the National Council of Churches. "We cannot stand by while people of goodwill are baselessly attacked for their faith, their political beliefs, or their identity. We have no reason to fear or demonize those who are different from ourselves. Today, tomorrow, and into this next Congress, our country needs to come together and reclaim our values of justice and equality." 

Church World Service, which annually sponsors CROP Hunger Walks in 2,000 communities across the nation to raise funds to assist local and global hunger programs, urged the President to help implement domestic and international policies to make sure all families and children have access to nutritious, affordable food.
"We are facing a severe global economic crisis, and the repercussions extend beyond the borders of our country," said John McCullough, president and CEO of Church World Service. "As families in the U.S. find their household budgets more and more strained, families in the developing world are hurting too. Today, we asked for the President's leadership in crafting policies that ensure men, women, and children have access to nutritious food and that we invest in diversified agriculture and ongoing community-based nutrition education." enough food and adequate nutrition for all, particularly children, as well as policies that support sustainable, diversified food production. 

Leaders of major Christian denominations joined NCC and CWS leaders to thank the President for his leadership and to urge him to prioritize a number of issues, including strengthening our fraying safety net, extending unemployment benefits as the economy continues to falter, and lifting people out of poverty with a focus on job creation for those in poverty, job training, and education. 

"As voters go to the polls tomorrow, they go with a sense of deep anxiety about their fragile economic situations. It is absolutely crucial for our political leaders to govern with a profound understanding of the hardships Americans are facing," said Rev. Michael Livingston, director of the newly-launched NCC Poverty Initiative. "More and more families are losing their homes and struggling to make ends meet. As a faith community, we have a moral obligation to speak out for the 'least of these' and urge Congress and President Obama to make combating poverty and hunger a top priority." 

The delegation also raised pressing issues around Middle East peace and the U.S.'s fraught relationship with Cuba, urging the President to lift the travel ban from the U.S. to Cuba so that American-based organizations like Church World Service can support churches and communities in Cuba. Other issues raised included energy and climate, and care for those hit first and worst by climate change, as well as immigration reform.

The delegation also included Bishop Johncy Itty of Church World Service, Bishop Mark Hanson of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Bishop John R. Bryant of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, Rev. Sharon Watkins of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Bishop Thomas L. Hoyt, Jr. of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, Mr. Stanley J. Noffsinger of the Church of the Brethren, Archbishop Khajag S. Barsamian of the Armenian Church of America, Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori of The Episcopal Church, Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Church of America, Rev. Gradye Parsons of the Presbyterian Church (USA), Rev. Dr. Betsy Miller of the Moravian Church, Thomas Swain of the Religious Society of Friends, Rev. Wesley S. Granberg-Michaelson of the Reformed Church in America, Bishop Sharon Zimmerman Rader of the United Methodist Church, Metropolitan Jonah of the Orthodox Church in America, Rev. Geoffrey Black of the United Church of Christ, and Dr. Walter L. Parrish III of the Progressive National Baptist 

Convention. The delegation presented the President with a Saint John's Bible, a framed sampler of statements commemorating 100 years of ecumenism, and a picture plaque commemorating the Church World Service's "Feed the Future" initiative.

"On All Saints' Day, it was very good to gather with the president to speak words of support for him as a leader, particularly his work on behalf of so many people on the margins," Jefferts Schori told ENS. "We expressed our concern for the divisive rhetoric so prevalent in our society today. We also expressed gratitude for his administration's concern for the poor and hungry, and our hopes for continued work on the economic situation in this nation, on Middle East peace, and on the travel ban and restrictions on religious work in Cuba."

Monday, 1 November 2010

Fleas fled

Earlier this year I had a battle with fleas.  They invaded my home.  They were relentless in their attacks on my dog and cats.

None of the chemical cures (“Front-line”, and whole house spraying) were effective, even after I had thrown out Penne’s bed and two carpets,  each of which were presumed to harbour flea eggs.

It was only after my dog-trainer neighbour, Randi, gave me a “natural” remedy that the fleas hopped off elsewhere.  They have not returned in as many as six months.

I decided today that Penne deserved a new bed, so I bought one.

I donated her temporary bed (a folded up bed-spread) to the cats.

It is clear that Penne “loves” her new bed, and that the cats like their pre-owned bed.

I’ll send you the natural anti-flea recipe upon request.  It truly works!

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Identity and integrity.

Somewhere within my files is the “National Identity Card” which was issued by His Majesty’s Government in the U.K. soon after my birth in May 1944.  The card is printed on thick stock paper. 

The details of my name and date of birth are handwritten, and entered in pen and ink. (Who remembers pen and ink?).  There is no photograph – leading me to believe that these National Identity Cards were not terribly useful!

World War II in Europe ended about 13 months after my birth, and I have never once been asked to produce or show the card.  I possess the card thanks to my Mum who “saved” such items.

Of course the card, in and of itself, says little about my identity.

 I am more than my name and date of birth.

For instance:

1.       I attended the gay pride event yesterday in Sarasota.
2.       I was at Church this morning at St. Boniface on Siesta Key.
3.       This afternoon saw me at the Sarasota Opera House for Rossini’s   opera “La Generentola” (Cinderella).

I ask myself two questions.

1. First:  Do these three disparate events reveal any clues as to my “identity”?

2. Second:  Am I the same person whether at gay pride, church, or opera; or is my identity defined by where I am, and by what I am doing?

These important questions have to do with integrity, much more than with identity.  

My identity and integrity are not measurable when I am “out and about”. 

They are revealed only when I am in the secrecy and privacy of my own home and thoughts. 

That is when my actions and thoughts are only scrutable to God and to me.