Saturday, 27 August 2011


Google Directions from 3901 Glen Oaks Dr East, Sarasota to the Sahib Shrine on North Beneva Rd in Sarasota.
1. Head southeast on Glen Oaks Dr E toward Ashwood Ln
420 ft
2. Turn right onto Breezemont Dr
0.1 mi
3. Take the 2nd left onto Calliandra Dr
233 ft
4. Turn right onto Circus Blvd
0.7 mi
5. Turn right onto N Beneva Rd
Destination will be on the right.

I live at 3901 Glen Oaks Drive East.

At 4:00 p.m. on Sunday 28th August 2011 Representative Michelle Bachmann (R) from Minnesota will give a speech at the Sahib Shrine.

We will be one mile and a thousand years apart.

Friday, 26 August 2011


My niece Anne and her husband Stuart  (Anne and Stuart Weston) are visiting from London UK and are at Disney in Orlando, with their daughter Olivia.  So they drove over to see me today.  We went down to Sarasota's Marina and had a tasty enough lunch at "Marina Jacks" restaurant.

We were delighted to be together.  ( I assisted the English Parson when Stuart and Anne got wed in Bristol, U.K.)

(Anne is the youngest daughter of my oldest sister Maureen)

For God and Country?

The 8th August 2011 edition of the New Yorker magazine has a fascinating article on the death of Osama bin Laden. (see Reporter at Large “Getting bin Laden”)

It’s an amazing tale of:
1. superb CIA planning,
2. excellent CIA/Navy logistics,
3. first class Presidential backing,
4. immense professional skill, courage and expertise on the part of the U.S. Navy “Seals”.

It’s easy to forget that this CIA/Navy operation could have gone seriously wrong.

I suppose that it was “necessary” to kill bin Laden.  I hope that his death will make our world a safer place.

One part of the article made me jittery.  It’s towards the end and it reads thus:

Nine years, seven months, and twenty days after September 11th, an American was a trigger pull from ending bin Laden’s life. The first round, a 5.56-mm. bullet, struck bin Laden in the chest. As he fell backward, the SEAL fired a second round into his head, just above his left eye. On his radio, he reported, “For God and country”.

It’s the “For God” bit which worries me.

The shooting and death of Osama bin Laden may well have been good for “the country”, (i.e. the USA).  But only terrible hubris would equate American military success with the will of God.

I get very ancy when Christians assert that G-d’s will and America’s success are identical.
I get very ancy when Muslims kill others in the name of Allah.  (Incidentally “Allah” is simply the Arabic word for the same G-d who is trusted by Christians, Jews and Muslims).
I get very ancy when my Jewish sisters and brothers assume that the Holy One is “on their side”.

In 1991 I was in Atlanta, GA, USA on my sabbatical leave from St. Stephen’s, Pittsfield, MA,

This was at the time when USA President George Herbert Walker Bush authorised American and NATO forces to push the Iraqi army out of Kuwait.

One Sunday I attended my first and only Southern Baptist Church.  The Pastor spoke.  He said “many people have asked me ‘On which side is God in this war’?”

His answer surprised and heartened me.  “God”, he said, “is always on the side of the poor and the oppressed”.  “That”, he said, “is an answer as old as Scripture itself”.

I am certain that a Southern Baptist Pastor in Atlanta GA had a better hold on truth than any claim than any bombastic slogan such as “for God and Country”.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Washington Cathedral earthquake damage

The great Church building on Mount St. Alban’s in Washington D.C. is the Cathedral Church of St. Peter and St. Paul – the spiritual home for the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, D.C.

It is also known as the “National Cathedral”

The cornerstone for the “National Cathedral” was laid in 1907 in the presence of President Theodore Roosevelt.

In that era the American ruling classes were inevitably WASPS (White Anglo-Saxon Protestants).  At the pinnacle of the WASP establishment was the Episcopal Church. 

Membership in the Episcopal Church became the jewel in the crown for successful businessmen, financiers, manufacturers, lawyers and politicians.

The Washington Cathedral is ostensibly there “for the glory of God”.   But I believe that it is also a monument to the historical arrogance of the WASP ruling classes; and to the elitism, pride, snobbery, classism and racism which is part of the DNA of the Episcopal Church.

Yesterday (23rd August 2011) the Cathedral sustained some damage in an earthquake which rattled the eastern sea board of north America.

As earthquakes go it was not a “biggy”, and I am glad that no lives were lost, nor were any people injured.

As for the damage to that heap of stones on Mount St. Albans I shed no tears

I take my cue from a stanza of a hymn which we often sing in the Episcopal Church. 

The hymn originated with one Joachim Neander (1650 - 1680). His text was worked into a poem/hymn by Robert Bridges (1892 – 1983).

The first line of the hymn is “All my hope on God is founded”.

The second stanza has words of challenge and faith which say something to me about the “edifice complex” of my Episcopal Church, and of all the other monuments (religious or otherwise) to human pride and folly. Here it is:

Mortal pride and earthly glory,
Sword and crown betray our trust; 
Though with care and toil we build them
Tower and temple fall to dust. 
But God’s power, hour by hour, 
Is my temple and my tower.

In my world people, and families, and children are worth saving.

Clinics and schools, and homes and hospitals are worth building.

Office towers and magnificent Churches are not worth preserving.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Watch this space

Today's Fox TV show is  

"Palin  ..... Bachmann..... Perry..... experts on the constitutional right of free speech"

It will be followed by a production of

"Anthony Comstock Revividus"

Monday, 22 August 2011

"Facebook" is essential to western civilization, democracy and freedom of information.

Here are some "cut and pasted" comments from various of my Facebook friends.

As you read them you'll understand why Facebook is utterly important (lol)

(#'s 1 -8 are indeed the comments of these friends. I have not included their names for I know that each one of them is entirely modest about her/his profound wisdom.)

1. Is about to scare myself with a film!! Wish me luck

2.What is so hard about silencing your freaking cell phone?

3. is incredibly lethargic.

4. The ' DUDE ' was looking good !!

5. I can feel it, I know it's getting close, my little heart is beating a bit faster the anxiety is lifting, the bike is almost ready! Tomorrow we ride enjoying the freedom of the road!

6. HVAC being installed in new organ loft

7. would like to not have to go to the grocery store. And yet, if I want to eat something other than PBJ for dinner, I must.

8. Can't wait to be home tonight!!! Goodbye West Virginia... At least momentarily :)

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Sermon for 21st August 2011

This sermon is a “worked over” version of one of my recent blogs on prayer.

The Revd. J. Michael Povey, at St. Boniface, Siesta Key, FL.

Romans 12:2  “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Do you suppose that God ever gets weary with our words and whines?  Has it every occurred to you that God is bored by our prayers? Do you suppose that God sometimes wants to say “be quiet, let me get a word in!”

In 1999 I spent a week at the Taize Community in Burgundy.  I went there for the music.  It was a quiet week in Taize.  There were only about two thousand pilgrims there.  At least sixteen hundred of them were under the age of thirty.  Can you imagine two thousand voices united in singing:

“In God alone my soul can find rest and peace
In God my peace, my joy.
Only in God my soul can find its rest
Find its rest and peace.

The singing was everything I had hoped for.  But I was in for a surprise.  As part of the Taize meetings, we two thousand pilgrims would keep prolonged silences.  Two thousand pilgrims in one big Church, most of them seated on the floor, and you could’ve heard a pin drop.

Oh those silences were difficult.  I was a twitterer before “twitter”, and in the silence my mind tweated ad infinitum.   That was at first.  After a couple of days I began to cope with the silence.  Two or more days later and I began to enjoy it.

At last I was giving God a break from my incessant nattering, and allowing her to speak.  I was learning to listen to God.   And for that I needed silence. I still need it.

We all need silence in the presence of God.  St. Paul reminds us that our call as disciples of the Lord Jesus is this:

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2).

There are barriers to discerning God’s good and complete will.  

Our minds will never be renewed in Christ so long as we pay so much attention to the nattering nabobs of the left and of the right, and their constant chatter on radio, TV and through the internet.  Those voices will fill our minds with anger, self righteousness, greed, envy and fear.  That is not good, or perfect, or acceptable.

If only we had the sense to take a break from these self appointed experts in order to listen to God!

But it’s not just the the pundits. If only we were courageous enough to take a break from our own natter and chatter, in order to listen to God!

And here’s a revolutionary thought! If only we could entertain the notion that some silence in our services might be necessary in order for us to hear God’s word.  Ah, there’s a novel idea.

It was probably eighteen years ago that Susan, a parishioner in Pittsfield, MA came to see me one Saturday morning. She was and is a very smart business woman.  The spectre of alcoholism was destroying her husband’s life.  She wanted to talk with a christian priest.

Susan began her tale.  Within a minute or two this priest began to talk as he  moved into his male “problem solving” mode.

Susan drew herself up in her chair.  She looked at me and said  “Michael Povey, I am perfectly capable of figuring out my own problems.  I did not come here for your advice.  I came to see you because I wanted someone to listen”!

I suspect that God often wants to say the same to us. God is probably saying “my dearly beloved, I truly do not need your advice.  I simply want you to listen”.  That’s why we need, and I mean need silence in prayer.

“In God alone my soul can find rest and peace
In God my peace, my joy.
Only in God my soul can find its rest
Find its rest and peace.