Saturday, 16 April 2011

A response to Jesus' teaching about the poor

He was ahead of me in a line (queue) at my local gas station and convenience store. I suspect that he was 28 – 30 years old.

The body language of the clerk (cashier) indicated that he had little patience for this man who was ahead of me.  It appeared that this particular customer was purchasing a money order, and that the clerk (cashier) was either bored with, or disdainful of the transaction.

The clerk (cashier) disappeared into the nether regions of the store, in order to make photocopies of the customer’s driving licence and social security card.

In the interim, I greeted this man who was ahead of me in the line. I wanted him to know that though the clerk (cashier) seemed to be unkind, I was in no great hurry.

He responded by saying “Now I have only $20 which will have to last me for the next two weeks”.

Then, at my prompting, he told me that he had a girl-friend, and that they 
had two children, aged 4 and 6.

At this point my irrationality overcame my prudence.   I reached into my billfold (wallet), and into my pockets.   I emerged with about $3.85 – all that I had on hand.  I gave it to him with the muttered hope that he might use it to buy a bit of bread and some milk for the children.

He was genuinely grateful.   I left the store and got back into my car, with a 
nagging feeling that I should have done more.

I hung around, and when he came out of the store, I suggested that he should follow me to the nearby Supermarket, where I would spring for some foodstuffs for him, for his partner, and for their children.

He turned my offer down with genuine grace. So we shook hands, and exchanged names.

His name is Matt.   You know that I am Michael.

Thus we are the M and M’s.   We both need your good thoughts and/or loving prayers. 

Friday, 15 April 2011


I recall a cartoon which I saw many years ago.  It depicted a rear view drawing of “Adam and Eve” as they were leaving the Garden of Eden. 

One is saying to the other, “It seems that we are entering a time of transition”.

The myth of Adam and Eve aside, we humans have ever had to face transition.  

Change is one of the “built in” factors for the universes, and for our own little planet, with its mountains, oceans, plants, birds, insects, fish and animals etc., etc., etc.  In the best of evolutionary terms this change is called adaptation.

We human animals have ambivalence about change. It summons our best and worst reactions: e.g.

1.    We laud and welcome it when we believe ourselves to be the authors of change.

2.  We resent and resist change when we realise that it is being imposed on us by the oligarchs of politics, and of big business.

3. We scarcely understand the changes which “nature/evolution” determine.

4.  We often long for things to change, but simultaneously hope that they will stay the same.

My Rector at St. Boniface Church on Siesta Key, Sarasota, FL is about to retire.  He has been the Rector of St. B’s for twenty years.

Change is at hand!

My reaction to his retirement is ambivalent.

On the one hand I cannot imagine St. B’s without him.  He is a fantastic human being, and a generously minded pastor.

On the other hand his impending retirement has caused me to think about all the ways in which St. B’s has disappointed, angered or frustrated me.

I am both fearful and joyful.   Such is the nature of change.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

I have....

I have nothing to say about anything tonight.

But don't hold your breath.

I am sure to rant again in a day or two!

Tuesday, 12 April 2011



A sweet and juicy “Bosc” pear, smeared with a bit of chunky peanut butter for breakfast.

At lunch, a bowl of my home-made cabbage soup.  (Let me know if you’d like a copy of the recipe).

In the afternoon – ten pin bowling – (which I’d not done in a year)
In my second game I achieved a “turkey” for the first time in my life.  

(A “turkey” in American bowling parlance is three strikes in a row).  I ended this game with a score of 173.  

But I will not brag!

Some stir fry for dinner: – onions - mushrooms - carrots and parsnips (par-boiled in advance), with a bit of leftover chicken - seasoned with some low sodium" soy sauce.

All this, plus the joy and company of my cats, and of my dog.

Monday, 11 April 2011

More about miserable Church (see yesterday's blog)

My grumpy blog entry of yesterday partly reflected what I did in the afternoon after Church.

I hoved over to the New American Theater in St. Petersburg FL, and attended their final performance of “Songs for a New World”.

“Songs for a New World” has lyrics and music by Jason Robert Brown. It was originally produced by the WPA Theatre in New York City back in 1995.  It is an all musical production which contains some 19 songs, each with the theme of a “New World” – understood both literally as the “New World” of the Americas, and symbolically as the “New Worlds” which we each face from day to day.

It’s a show about our hopes, dreams and ambitions.  It’s also a show about our frustrations, limitations and disappointments.

The music has its roots in gospel, jazz, and spirituals.

The lyrics speak very deeply to the human condition of hope and despair.

I found myself to be strangely moved – with joy and tears – as I allowed the production to enter my soul.  It all was delightful, challenging and powerful. 

As I relaxed I was energised.

This new energy contrasted most severely with the entropy of Church earlier in the day.

I was at the show simply because Kevin R Rose has been a lead singer in the St. Boniface Church Choir. He was a star singer and co-Director of “Songs for a New World”.

 Kevin is a fine singer. He is also an uncomplicated human being.  I admire him.

Kevin is leaving St. Boniface Church and the Sarasota area to pursue his musical theatre career “up north”. 
I wanted to honour him by attending his final gig in this area.   I did so, and it was more than worth the drive over to St. Pete.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Miserable Church today - a rant from jmp

Easter is late this year, so many snow birds in the St. Boniface Choir have already gone north. With that in mind I signed up to rehearse and sing for today, for Palm Sunday (17th April 2011), and for Easter Day (24th April 2011).

Self interest serves me well.  I am back in the choir again because I love to sing, and because on Easter Day we will sing a very lively setting of the Mass by Mozart.  It is called, in English, the “Sparrow Mass”.

But before Easter comes the fifth Sunday in Lent (today), and Palm Sunday (next week).   

So this morning I found myself singing the dreariest Lenten music:-  by the Italian composer Pergolesi, and by the English composer Thomas Tallis.  It’s the kind of music in which even singers want to go to sleep.

I have come to the conclusion that “Lent” is a bogus season.  It’s supposed to be about fasting, self denial, and renewed works of charity and mercy. 

Few of us buy into that, but we make up for our spiritual shortcomings by making Sunday worship in Lent as boring and miserable as is possible.

That well describes my experience at Church this morning.

The service was boring.

 I was disinterested.

We were bombarded with “words, words, words”, with ne’er a moment for silent reflection, nor any call to action.

Don’t get me wrong.  

I think that my parish is filled with good and well-meaning people.  

I have the greatest of respect for the Rector, and the Assistant Rector. 

I am grateful for the three organists/choir directors who lead our music.

It’s all good and well meaning. But my parish has not a damn word to say about the chaos, cruelty, and corruption of our world.

The parish observes Lent with scrupulous attention to detail.

But you’d never know a thing about our fu-ked-up world if you had been there today. Instead you would have heard too many words, and some very miserable music.