Saturday, 7 May 2011

Hey hey for the seventh of May

Johannes Brahms:  German/Austrian composer. May 7th 1806 – April 3rd 1897.

The English poet Robert Browning was born on May 7th in1812.

“Petr Il’yich Tchaikovsy” -  there’s  a wonderful name for you!   This famous Russian composer was born on May 7th 1840.

On May 7th 1901 the famous actor Gary Cooper entered human life in Helena, Montana.

The infamous Argentinean, (Evita) Eva Peron was also a May 7th baby.

Most importantly, our dear mum Evelyn Maud Finch (her birth name) was born this day in 1913 – in Lowestoft, Suffolk, U.K.  Today would have been her 98th birthday, but by the mercy and grace of God she died 9 years ago at aged 89.    Her life had featured many hardships and very many joys.  We were sad when she died.  We were also glad that her passing was peaceful, and that she was well prepared for death.

Mum gave birth to ten children.  One (my sister Sylvia) died in infancy. The remaining nine of us yet live.  Although Mum was “Evelyn Maud” (she hated her middle name), we would often call her “Gert” or “Gertie”.

Coincidentally the two adult children of the late Betty Pusey also gave her the nick-name of “Gertie”.    Betty was the wife of the Revd. Cortland R. Pusey - a retired priest who worked with me at St. Stephen’s in Pittsfield, MA.  Guess what?  Betty (Gertie) Pusey was also born on May 7th.

My former colleague Margaret Quill is also a May 7th child. 

As is the wonderful Anna (Anne) Vincent, a fabulous Pittsfield parishioner, she is now almost blind but she is also filled with joy and hope.  I always telephone her on May 7th.

Rebekah Bjork is a fabulous parishioner at St. James’s, Cambridge, MA.  I am sure that you have already guessed that today is also her birthday.

On this May 7th in the year 2011 the good people of St. Stephen’s, Pittsfield gathered together in a memorial eucharist for the fabulous Phil Desch, who died a week ago at aged 90.  (see my  earlier blogs about Phil).

I  celebrate life and death on every 7th May.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Manly men and plumber's crack

I was at Lowes ( ) today with Aldo Bari, a handyman who will work on some cosmetic and decorative improvements to my screened in porch. 

Aldo and I were picking out lumber, beading, insulation, and laminates for the work he will do.

Lord above, did I feel like a manly man!

I am (as my Dad would have said) “cack-handed” when it comes to tools, DYI, materials etc.  Ne’er mind -  Aldo was the expert, and I was there to make sage comments, to choose styles, to load the store cart, and to pay the bill.

But as I said above “I felt like a manly man”.

I wished that I’d been wearing a tool belt so that other shoppers could have resonated with my DYI skills.

On the other hand, had I been wearing such a belt I probably would have revealed a bit of “plumber’s crack”, and thereby be recognised by other friends who could have been in Lowes today.

(There’s a bit of wry humour here which I’ll leave you to discern!)

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Praise for Pres. George W. Bush

American President, Barack H. Obama has hit all the right notes following the killing of Osama Bin Laden.

My President has seemed to be -  well -  calm, collected, wise and "Presidential"

The same is true for his predecessor President George W. Bush.  His reaction to Bin Laden's death was muted. His words about Pres. Obama were entirely gracious.  

And he rose to the occasion by declining Obama's invitation to the "Ground Zero"  wreath- laying ceremony today so that he would not be in the spotlight.

I express my admiration for both Presidents.  

"Well handled sirs!"

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

What the hell is Chrysler selling?

A video advert for the (Chrysler) "Jeep Compass"  included these words:

"Genetically engineered"

"Iconic beauty"

"Red blood attitude"

"The evolution of a legendary blood line" 

I suggest (with all modesty) that this is a bit "over the top" for a gas/petrol guzzling motor vehicle. 

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Love bugs, Pets hairs, and Benjamin Franklin

After a few years of apparent dormancy the "Love Bugs" are back in full force.

See also

They are not "dangerous", but they have a huge nuisance value.  

Penne, my dog, loved to snap at them and eat them as we walk.  Not much I can do about that!

Speaking of Penne:- although she is a short haired mutt, this is her hair shedding season.  I brush her (outside the house) at least twice a day.  Despite this, the floors in my house get "covered"  with dog hairs, and I have to vacuum clean or dry mop at least twice a day.

When I am not worrying about Love Bugs or pet hairs, I continue to read. Here is my report about one of my latest reads

Benjamin Franklin - An American Life,  by Walter Isaacson (Simon and Schuster 2003).

This is the most recent and (probably) definitive biography of one of America's "Founding Fathers".  

It takes us beyond the limited and popular understanding of Franklin as merely an author of bon mots and a source of witty aphorisms, and then reveals his idiosyncratic personal life, and his crucial role in the journey t'wards American independence.

Franklin is the only founding father who signed all four crucial documents: (a) the Declaration of Independence, (b) the alliance with France, (c) the Treaty with Great Britain, (d)  the report of the Constitutional Convention.

If you have an ounce of interest in British and American history this is a must read.

Monday, 2 May 2011

A death in Pakistan

Osama Bin Laden has been killed.

I am neither happy nor sad about this.  His death is simply a verification of Jesus' teaching that "they who live by the sword will die by the sword"

His death will not add an iota of "security" to our western world.  

Truly, truly I ask:

(1) "will you sleep sounder tonight because Osama Bin Laden is dead?" 

(2) "will those of you who gloated over his death (and maybe "partied" in the streets), do all in your power to work for justice and peace in all places?"

(3) will you listen to the following "alternative voices"?

A.Via my friend Bob G.  

Religious wisdom always has us look at ourselves and what opportunities we have to be makers of peace.  As Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn once said, “Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either, but right through every human heart, and through all human hearts.”

B. From the Vatican.

"In front of the death of man, a Christian never rejoices but rather reflects on the grave responsibility of each one in front of God and men, and hopes and commits himself so that every moment not be an occasion for hatred to grow but for peace." Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman.

C.  From America's prophet and martyr, Martin Luther King, Jr.

 I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that." 

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Sermon for 1st May 2011

 The Revd. J. Michael Povey at All Angels by the Sea, Longboat Key, FL
Acts 2:14-41; I Peter 1:3-9; John 20:19-31

A meditation in four parts.

(Introduction) The Gospel according to John was most likely compiled in about A.D. 90.  It is therefore a reflection on the meaning of Jesus by those who were convinced that Jesus had been raised from the dead, and that he was God’s Messiah. They already believed, and wanted others to believe.

Meditation One

These believers were living in a time when the rupture between the synagogue and the church had become acute. So it is, that when John’s Gospel makes frequent and unflattering reference to “The Jews” it is about Jews who were their contemporaries, not the Jews of the time of Jesus.  Jesus and the disciples were all Jewish.

John’s constant and unflattering references to the Jews led to the ghastly and violent anti- Jewish word and deeds which are a shameful part of our Christian history. “Jews” became stereotyped to represent everything which opposed Christianity.
21st century Christians might ask themselves “what other shameful stereotypes infect our think and acting?”  We have come to understand that anti-Semitism is evil. Are we now in danger of accepting the notion that it is alright to be anti-Islam?   Have we ever entertained the thought that there is no monolithic Muslim faith, and that there are many varieties of Islam?  John said (unhistorically) that the doors were locked for fear of the Jews. 

What doors are we locking for fear of Muslims?


Jesus gives the disciples a task, a mission. Just as he is, so they were to become.  That mission was to be people of forgiveness. “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained”.  That mission was never intended to be the exclusive possession of Priests and Ministers.  It is for all God’s people.

Part of the meaning of the word “forgive” is to “let go”, or “release”.  So the options are to release -  or to retain.  When we forgive others, it is not only they who are released, it is also we.  In the act of forgiveness we release ourselves from the prisons of bitterness, anger, or resentment.  When we refuse to forgive, and chose to retain, that bitterness, anger and resentment is retained not in the persons we refuse to forgive, but in ourselves.

Where do we need the grace of the Holy Spirit to forgive, to “let go”, to “release”?

Meditation Three

Thank God for Thomas.  Forget all the nonsense we’ve learned about “doubting Thomas”.  He was not a doubter.  His great strength was that he sought a faith of his own, not a second hand faith which depended on the words of others. 

We can be sure that Thomas not only came to believe, but that he began to act.  It is more than likely that he travelled as far east as India, there to witness to the resurrection.  When Christian missionaries from England went to India, they discovered that there was already an Indian Church -  it’s called the “Mar Thoma” Church, and traces its foundations to St. Thomas.

How can we be more like Thomas, and come to a faith of our own?  In other words, can we reach for a faith which does not depend upon what others say, but which rests on that which we have come to believe for ourselves?

Meditation Four

Thomas’s confession “My Lord and My God” reflects the astonishing theological claim being made by members of the Jesus Movement, that Jesus of Nazareth was Lord and God.  

Yet it is more than a religious belief.  It is also a political statement.  For you see, Caesar, over in Rome, also was acclaimed as “Dominus et Deus” -  Lord and God.  Loyal members of the Empire were expected to visit a shrine to the Emperor, and toss a few grains of incense into a brazier in his honour.  Jews had been exempted from this civil religion.  The new Christians also refused to participate in Emperor “worship”. 

For them the issue was clear.  Either Jesus or the Emperor was Lord and God, it could not be both. To declare that Jesus was Lord and God was an act of political defiance against the Empire. Early Christians knew that their obedience to Jesus trumped their loyalty to the Emperor. 

Are there situations in which our discipleship of Jesus will bring us into conflict with our patriotic and political loyalties?