Saturday, 5 February 2011

Tapioca Pudding and the Super Bowl.

Our local supermarkets have been crowded and busy these past few days. This puzzled me as we are not in “hurricane season”, nor are we in the snow and ice belt. 

Then it dawned on me.  This is “Super Bowl” weekend, the highest of American High Holy Days. 

It’s central to American belief that one should invite at least 75 of one’s closest friends to gorge on junk food, drink gallons of beer, and maybe watch the game on one’s new 185” flat screen. Tomorrow the Pittsburg Steelers will meet the Green Bay Packers in Dallas.  They play what is quaintly known as “American Fooball”.

I am a heretic and will not be partying or watching the game. I might have had a slight and theoretical interest in the Super Bowl had the New England Patriots been involved, but other than that I think that American Football (and most other professional sports) are about as fascinating as cold tapioca pudding.

(But even cynics such as I hold a bit of respect for the Packers.  Green Bay (in Wisconsin) is a city with about 100,000 residents, and the team is publicly owned.  It’s fairly cool that a team which is based in a small city, and does not have a money-bags owner is now in contention in this premier (American) Football game.)

Meanwhile my friend Derrick Jackson, a columnist at the Boston Globe, raises some important questions about (American) Football.  See

And another friend, Bob Ginn, posted this lovely cartoon about men and (televised) sports.

Friday, 4 February 2011

God save the Queen -- or the people?

The protests against miserable  and repressive regimes in Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan and other places remind me that government should be “of the people, for the people, and by the people”.

Miserable and repressive governments are not the sole province of Arab and Muslim states.   

I can think of a couple of nations which I know well, where the “people” have ceased to be stake-holders in their own governance. 

In these nations  (each has a name which begins with “United”!), government is now "by the professional politicians and for the oligarchs".

In thinking about this, my mind went back to the 19th Century hymns by Ebenezer Elliott, a great and noble champion of the poor.  His hymn is a “people’s anthem”, rather that a national anthem.  He asks God not to save the Queen, but to save the people.

(His hymn was, of course, used in “Godspell”).

You may read more about Elliott by following the link below.

First, his hymn:

When wilt Thou save the people?
O God of mercy, when?
Not kings and lord, but nations
Not thrones and crowns, but men!
Flowers of Thy heart, O God, are they
Let them not pass, like weeds, away
Their heritage a sunless day
God save the people!

Shall crime bring crime forever
Strength aiding still the strong?
Is it Thy will, O Father
That man shall toil for wrong?
"No," say Thy mountains; "No," Thy skies
Man's clouded sun shall brightly rise
And songs ascend, instead of sighs
God save the people!

When wilt Thou save the people?
O God of mercy, when?
The people, Lord, the people
Not thrones and crowns, but men!
God save the people; Thine they are
Thy children, as Thine angels fair
From vice, oppression and despair
God save the people!

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Jane Dunning/The Blizzard of 2011/The London Daily Mirror/Sally Caulfield

This photo' was taken earlier today  (2nd February 2011).  It was taken by a State Trooper at exit 2 on I 93 in New Hampshire.

My good colleague Jane Dunning posted it on her facebook page.  It intrigued me because quite apart from the drama of the photo' itself, I know that part of I 93 very well -  it being about 25 miles up the road from where I lived in Medford, MA.  I re-posted the photo' on my facebook page.

A bit later in the day I checked in on the U.K. site of Google News to see if it carried any up to date news about the  situation in Egypt.

My attention was drawn to an unrelated story about the inept British Premier David Cameron on the London "Daily Mirror" newspaper website.

"Lo and behold" (!) the picture was already posted to the Mirror's web-page.

I became aware (again) of the smallness and interconnectedness of our electronically linked "village"  (a.k.a. "the World").  Within just a few hours of it being taken by a N.H. State Trooper a "neat" photo' could be viewed in a British newspaper.  We are all now villagers.

Sally Caulfield?   She's a good pal, now living in North Redington Beach, FL who saw the photo' from my facebook entry.  She lived for many years in Beverly, MA.  The picture triggered her memories of trips from Massachusetts into New Hampshire.

Welcome all to the parish pump!

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Feminism? YEAH!

Despite the abundance of  “news” which is available to us via radio, television, the internet, twitter et al,  we sometimes have to dig deep to find new stories which never make the headlines.  Thanks to a fairly cool website called Episcopal CafĂ© I was able to track down these two items.

The first  (from National Public Radio) might help us each to understand that there is no monolithic Islam, and that a secular state such as Tunisia (with an overwhelming majority Muslim population)  might indeed have something to teach us about feminism.

(You may have to "cut and paste" this link into your browser)

The inner feminist in me was also delighted to read the following article from the Irish Times, which is published in the overwhelmingly Roman Catholic Republic of Ireland.

(You may have to "cut and paste" this link into your browser)

You’ll probably not see these stories on the Fox News network in the United States,  or in the Sun Newspaper in the United Kingdom.  Rupert Murdoch, the ghastly “boss” at both Fox and the Sun, is not known for his deep insights, or liberal sympathies.

But, hell! -   neither have I seen such important articles in the more liberal British and American newspapers, (e.g.  the Guardian from London, or the Times from New York).

I am just saying!

Monday, 31 January 2011

Joy and Tears are very close neighbours,

There is a very narrow line between laughter and tears; between joy and sorrow.
I was both teary eyed and joyous as Bishop Gene Robinson ministered to and with us yesterday at St. Boniface Church, Siesta Key, FL.

I experienced both emotions in the afternoon as I attended a Symphony concert at Sarasota’s Van Wezel Performance Center.

Our fabulous Sarasota Orchestra was at its best.  I do not know if this local orchestra is “world class”  as I have never heard some of the international greats.  

But I do know that the Sarasota Orchestra could hold its own in the finest concert halls in the United States, South America and Europe.  They are “that good”.

The programme began with the always crowd pleasing “Roman Carnival” overture by Hector Berlioz. 

Then we were treated to a superb performance of Mozart’s Piano Concerto #24.  I’ve heard this work many times but yesterday’s rendition was “over the top”. Yesterday’s pianist,  Alessio Bax is a gentle and thoughtful performer. It seemed clear to me that he loved the music and the piano more than he loved himself:  i.e. he is a beautiful craftsman, and not a prima-donna.

The second movement of this concerto ranks  (for me)  as some of the most beautiful and lyrical music ever written.   Thus, as I listened yesterday, I became misty eyed with teary wonder.

The second half of the concert began with the always pleasing “Italian Symphony”  by Mendelssohn.  The orchestra was  never jaded as it played this “old chestnut”.  Thanks to the programme notes I was able to recognize and  be glad for the “star” role which Mendelssohn assigned to the (oft ignored) viola players.

The Sarasota Orchestra’s Artistic Director and Conductor, Leif Bjaland, had picked out a relatively unknown work to close the concert -  Respighi’s “Feste Romane”. 

Bjaland wisely spoke to the audience and introduced the work before it began.

Once it began we were entranced.  The music includes moments with  sublimely beautiful melodies as to make one weep.  But it also includes such wild and frenzied parts as to make us want to laugh out loud.

Sarasota audiences are (in my opinion) far too generous in their “standing ovations”. 

But at the close of this Respighi music there was nothing more to do than to stand up, and cheer like mad! 

Thank you to Leif, and to the Orchestra. I have a sense that Leif loves and respects his players, and that they love and respect him.

It had been like that at Church earlier in the day.  Bishop Robinson showered both love and respect upon the St. Boniface congregation.   We, in turn,  were “happier than clams”  to respect and honour his ministry.

Church and Orchestra   -   not far apart.

Joy and Tears -   very close.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Bishop Gene Robinson (2)

Bishop Gene Robinson presided and preached at this morning’s 9:00 a.m. St. Boniface Eucharist.  We were just about at seating capacity!

Here a couple of points from his sermon:

1. He reminded us that because of death threats, he had to wear a bullet proof vest for his consecration as bishop, (as did Barbara Harris, the first female bishop in the anglican communion).  This disturbed his two daughters (from his first marriage) very greatly.

Gene said to those daughters “there is something which is worse than death.  It is not having lived (fully)”.

2. Bishop Robinson also said  “Jesus does not need any admirers. Jesus calls us to be disciples”.


These powerful words challenged my own faith. 

1. I am not sure that I have lived as fully as God intends.  I am ever susceptible to pride and to fear.

2. I know that I am far more likely to admire the teachings of Jesus, than to make them the lodestar of my life.


Having said that, I report that it was a wonderful eucharist. I was privileged to be a part of the body of Christ at St. B’s this morning  -  glad that the parish at which I hang my hat is filled with people who welcome all of God’s children.

As I stood at the altar I noted that I was standing with one bishop, seven priests, and one deacon.  I mused thus:

The bishop and one of the priests  (moi) are “openly” gay.  Another of the priests is female and glad to be married.  The other four (male)  priests are  also happily married.

I know that pride is considered to be a sin, so I’ll simply say that this morning I was happy to be a christian in the episcopal church tradition.

P.S.  the “intimate and exclusive” reception for bishop Robinson and sixty St. Boniface members last evening was a joyful event.

(1) As Gene Robinson and I reminisced we came to the conclusion that we have known and  respected each other since 1982.

(2) I had never thought that sushi could become part of my diet.  But the sushi which was available as part of last evening’s reception was delicious.  I “gobbled it down” with enjoyment and delight.  (It’s never too late to learn!)