Friday, 28 October 2011

Perception = Reality

This is how the London Guardian's cartoonist Steve Bell views the St. Paul's Cathedral/Occupy London stand-off.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

A subversive Church?

There's been a bit of minor crime in "Glen Oaks Estates" which borders my community  "Glen Oaks Ridge".

The good people of Glen Oaks Estates post a sign from time to time  (see below).

If the Church were faithful to Jesus'  subversive message of the Kingdom of God then such a sign would be posted outside every Church building.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

In my neighbourhood

Truly, I saw this horse today.  It was set up near a road in my neighbourhood, quite far from any houses.

I could not resist taking a photo'.  But I could not find a Princess.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Jewish, Christian, Muslim: tangled family tales.

I’ve had a couple of good reads.

First there was “The Girl from Foreign” by Sadia Shepard (Penguin Press 2008).

The author, Sadia Shepard,  grew up in a middle class Muslim home in a Boston suburb.  Her mother was from Pakistan. Her father was an American from the mid-west – who grew up as an Episcopalian, and adopted Islam upon his marriage.  Sadia’s beloved Pakistani grand-mother also lived with them.

Grand-mother had been the third wife of a wealthy Pakistani businessman.  She was originally from India, and was born Jewish and adopted Islam when she married and moved to Karachi.

[This grand-mother had been a part of the “Bene Israel” community of western India (see below note (1)].

Sadia Shepard received a Fulbright scholarship and went to India for a year to trace her grand-mother’s Jewish heritage, and to connect with the dwindling Bene Israel community.  She also took a side trip to Pakistan for a family wedding.

She writes about the tangled web of familial and religious heritages with enormous respect and admiration for her Grand-mother – an Islamic Jew.

Then I read “In my Brother’s Image” by Eugene L. Pogany (Pengin Press 2000).

Eugene Pogany tells the story of his father Miklos and his uncle Gyuri, (identical twins from Hungary) born in 1913.  

Their parents Bela and Gabriella were Hungarian Jews who had converted to Catholicism. Gabriella becomes a “devout Catholic”.  

Bela, who served in the Hungarian Army during World War I as a veterinarian, was at heart sceptical about both faiths.

The twin brothers were baptised as Christians, and became “true believers”.  

Uncle Gyuri became a Roman Catholic Priest. 

Miklos (the author’s father), remained in Budapest got a job in a bank, and married a Jewish woman “Muci”.

Bela died before the outrages of both Hungarian and German Nazism.

Gabriella was put to death in a concentration camp, for despite her pious Catholic faith, she has “Jewish Blood”.

The Priest brother Gyuri escaped the horrors of Nazism.  He spent the war years in Italy where became a protégé of the (in) famous Padre Pio. In due course he emigrated to the U.S.A. and became the parish priest for Hungarian Catholics in the Newark, N.J. area.

Miklos and Muci were both interned in prison camps, and barely escaped with their lives. After the war they moved at first to Sweden and then to the United States. 

Miklos was angered, disgusted and horrified by the failure of his adopted Catholic Church in Hungary to resist anti-Semitism: -  so much so that he returned to the Jewish faith of his ancestors. 

He and his wife Muci raised their children in the Jewish faith and traditions.

The identical Hungarian twin brothers were eventually reunited in New Jersey.

As they talk, Miklos is scathing in his criticisms of the Hungarian Roman Catholic Church, and its failure to resist anti-Semitism.

Gyuri (the Priest) defends his Church with passion. 

But there was a shock in store for him. 

He ministered to Hungarian Catholics who had fled to the United States after the failed Hungarian revolution against the Soviets (1956).  But some of those émigrés, now in freedom, began a whispering campaign against him as “the Jew Priest”.


“In my Brother’s Image” by Eugene L. Pogany (Penguin Press 2000) is a powerful and compelling tale of family, religion, and heritage.  It’s an honest story which reveals the ugly side of religious and nationalistic prejudices.  I recommended it.

I also recommend “The Girl from Foreign” by Sadia Shepard (Penguin Press 2008).

Both are stories for our own nationalistic and myopic times.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Sermon for 23rd October 2011

The Revd. J. Michael Povey at All Angels by the Sea, Longboat Key, Florida.

1 Thessalonians 2:1-8

Tony is madly in love.  He writes to his new girl friend Melissa.

“My darling, I would climb towering mountains for you.  I would ford raging rivers for you.  I would cross blazing deserts for you.  With all my heart, Tony”.

P.S.  “I’ll see you on Friday if it’s not raining”.

That’s not much of a love letter.

Does anyone write love letters nowadays?  

In our most recent American  history some of the tenderest letters were exchanged between soldiers, sailors and airmen serving in World War II, and their wives, fiancés and girl-friends back home.
In the midst of the brutality of war strong men would pen some of the most affectionate and romantic letters.  In turn, the women on the home front would respond with words expressive of the deepest and fondest love.

In an earlier era, say in the founding days of our republic, parents would write gorgeous love letters to their children (with the noticeable exception of Abigail Adams!), and children were unabashed and unrestrained in the love of which they wrote in their replies.

And before that time, the too often maligned Puritans wrote of the bliss of their married love. Here for instance is John Winthrop writing to his wife Margaret in 1637 (see note (1) below)

My sweet Wife, -- I prayse God I am in good 
health, peace be to thee & or familye, so I kisse thee, 
& hope shortly to see thee: farewell.
Hasten the sendinge awaye Skarlett, & gatheringe 
the Turnips

My sweet Wife, -- So fitt an occasiō must not 
passe wthout a token to thee. I prayse God I am 
well: the Lo: blesse thee & all ors, so I kisse thee the 
second tyme, farewell.

And there is this poem from Anne Bradstreet (1612-1672)  to her husband.
To My Dear and Loving Husband

If ever two were one, then surely we.
If ever man were loved by wife, then thee.
If ever wife was happy in a man,
Compare with me, ye women, if you can.
I prize thy love more than whole mines of gold,
Or all the riches that the East doth hold.
Nor ought but love from thee give recompense.
Thy love is such I can no way repay;
The heavens reward thee manifold, I pray.
Then while we live, in love let’s so persever,
That when we live no more, we may live ever.  (Note 2)

We read a bit from a love letter in today’s Epistle. Here is St. Paul, not the crusty Paul of our imagination, but the tender Paul writing to his beloved children, the first century Christians in Thessalonica.

“But we were gentle among you, like a nurse tenderly caring for her own children. 8So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us”. ( 1 Thess 2:7b,8)

That’s exactly how many pastors and rectors feel about the members of their congregations. We would put it the same way as Paul did: “So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the Gospel of God, but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us”.

Long before the first century the scriptures of the Hebrew people included what is a quite remarkable and erotic poem.  That poem is also part of our scriptures, we call it  “The Song of Solomon”

Song of Solomon 2:10-13; 8:6-7

My beloved speaks and says to me:
‘Arise, my love, my fair one,
   and come away; 
for now the winter is past,
   the rain is over and gone. 
The flowers appear on the earth;
   the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the turtle-dove
   is heard in our land. 
The fig tree puts forth its figs,
   and the vines are in blossom;
   they give forth fragrance.
Arise, my love, my fair one,
   and come away.
Set me as a seal upon your heart,
   as a seal upon your arm;
for love is strong as death,
   passion fierce as the grave.
Its flashes are flashes of fire,
   a raging flame. 
Many waters cannot quench love,
   neither can floods drown it.
If one offered for love
   all the wealth of one’s house,
   it would be utterly scorned.

Who needs a love letter from you?   Your spouse of many years? A favourite aunt?  A darling grandchild?  Your in-laws?  A friend from fifty years ago?

Write it this afternoon.

Note (!)
New York
Note (2) Taken from the internet source “The Poetry Foundation”