Saturday, 10 March 2012

Oh phooey

1, In the USA we “spring forward” tonight to enter “Daylight Savings Time”. What a pain -  is there any truly worthy reason for this nonsense. OH PHOOEY

2.     I forgot to turn the radio on this morning, so I missed one of my favourite NPR Saturday shows “Wait, wait, don’t tell me”.  It’s often very funny (‘specially so when Paula Poundstone is one of the panellists.).  She has a wickedly wonderful wit.  (see ) OH PHOOEY

3.     I drove to the store this afternoon, and listened to a bit of the NPR broadcast of the “Metropolitan Opera” on my car radio.  ‘Twas a glorious production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni.  When I got home I again forgot to turn my radio on. OH PHOOEY.

4.     At the supermarket a man ahead of me at the service desk spent $58 on lottery tickets.  He was “betting” multiple numbers on the Florida Lottery and on an inter-state “Powerball”.  I wanted to tell him that he had no more chances with (say) 20 tickets on a lottery than he would have with just one ticket.  For the odds are stacked against all those who purchase lottery tickets.

Should the lottery require the matching of seven numbers the odds of winning are 1 in 85900584.00, according to one website.

  It is impossible to beat those odds however many tickets a person might purchase.  So, whilst it may be fun to purchase one $1 ticket just for the heck of it, it makes no sense to purchase (say) ten such tickets – each with a different set of numbers.  For the odds against winning are 1 in 85900584.00 for each and every ticket.

To put it another way. Let’s imagine that the jackpot is $5 million. A person could purchase five million tickets (each with a discrete set of numbers) and still not win. That’s because for each and every ticket the odds against winning are identical.

What makes me mad is that the various States in the USA proclaim two messages.

One is that the key to success is “hard work”.

The other is that the key to success is a lottery ticket.

Most U.S. State Governments offer these as equally valid options, (and they entice “punters” by suggesting that lottery proceeds will benefit “education” – or some other good cause).  OH PHOOEY.

By all means buy one ticket for the fun of it.  But remember that your “investment” of a pound or a dollar is more than likely to benefit the State or the lucky winner. OH PHOOEY.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

A joke



Eve chats with God. "Lord, I have a problem."

"What is it, Eve?"

"I know that you created me and provided this beautiful
garden and all of these wonderful animals, especially that hilarious snake,
but I'm just not happy."

"And why is that Eve?"

"Lord, I'm lonely, and I'm sick to death of apples."

"Well, Eve, in that case I have a solution. I shall create a man for you."

"Man? What is that Lord?"

"A flawed creature with many bad traits. He'll lie, cheat and be vain. All in
all he'll give you a hard time, but he'll be bigger and faster and will
like to hunt and kill things. I'll create him in such a way that he will
satisfy your physical needs. He will be witless and will revel in childish
things like fighting and kicking a ball about. He won't be as smart as
you, so he will also need your advice to think properly."

"Sounds great," says Eve, with ironically raised eyebrows, " but what's the catch?"

"Well, can have him on one condition."

"And what's that Lord? "

"Well, since he'll be proud, arrogant and self-admiring, you'll have to let
him believe that I made him first. 

And it will have to be our little secret
.. you know, woman to woman."



Wednesday, 7 March 2012

The Great Litany and Evangelical students.

Of all the services in our American Book of Common Prayer, “The Great Litany” is one of my favourites.

A Litany is a prayer consisting of a series of invocations and supplications by the leader with alternate responses by the congregation.

The “Great Litany” as used in the Episcopal Church is more or less a direct descendant of the one compiled by Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer in 1544.  Thus Christians in the Anglican/Episcopal tradition have prayed in the same words for over 450 years.

There were days when the Litany was a regular part of Sunday morning fare. These days it is used only in Lent - if at all.  (The parish I attend these days never uses it).

More’s the pity, for the Great Litany forces us to have a concern for God’s world and God’s church which is much wider and broader than “normal Sunday prayer”.

For instance it causes us to pray for:

All prisoners and captives
All who are desolate and oppressed
All women in childbirth (still a dangerous experience for some in our world, and for many women in the developing world).
For our enemies, persecutors and slanderers.

In fact the Great Litany encourages us to “pray around the world”, thus delivering us from our usually parochial and often petty concerns.


I was “on duty” tonight at the 5:30 p.m. Wednesday Eucharist at St. Boniface on Siesta Key.  I knew that the gathering would include some 18 students from the Central Michigan University who are in Florida for Spring Break. They are part of an Evangelical Church at their University – see

These students are sleeping at St. B’s.  During the day time they are working with Habitat for Humanity, restoring houses for lower income people.  That is impressive – much more so than the wet tee shirt contest, get laid, and too much booze Spring Break which is the norm.

So, I knew that 18 or so young people from an Evangelical background would be at the Eucharist.

I could have pandered to them by dumbing down the service. 

Instead I decided to rachet it up.

I gave a brief introduction to the Great Litany, and then we prayed it.  Oh yes, we prayed it.

 These fabulous students from Central Michigan University prayed the litany with respect, dignity and grace.  They allowed themselves to be “stretched” and blessed with a form of prayer which was brand new to them.  (Not one of them was Episcopalian -  I checked this out!).

‘Twas a steep learning curve for them, and for me. It was a time when liberal and evangelical Christians were united in the Holy Presence.

So it was that I in turn honoured their tradition.

Instead of the Prayer Book post communion prayer we sang a song from the Evangelical Church.  It runs this way.

Father we adore You, Lay our lives before You. How we love You.
Jesus we adore You, Lay our lives before You. How we love You.
Spirit we adore You, Lay our lives before You. How we love You.

(Indeed it’s a sorta “Litany” song!)

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Islamic Leader's Wisdom

When the Justice and Development Party won the 2003 election in Turkey (where is it is known as the AK Party), the un-informed anti-Islamic prejudices of both the conservative and liberal media in the west came into play.  We were assured that Turkey would become a basket case of Islamic fundamentalism.

So much for the media. 

As it happens, the party, under Prime Minister  Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has governed with a mildly progressive agenda, so much so that the Turkish economy is booming, and the Turkish response to the horrors of the Syrian regime has been stellar.

Prime Minister Erdogan is emerging as a wise and prudent leader.

POINT # 1.  Please do not believe all that you are told by the (western) popular media about life in Islamic countries.  Please understand that Islam is no more monolithic than is Christianity.

There is an Islamic minority in Turkey known as “Alevi” Muslims (NOT to be confused with the Alawite Muslim group which is the governing minority in the horrid and repressive Syrian Regime). They are regarded as “semi-heretics” by mainstream (i,e, Sunni) Muslims.

Within Turkey there has been some vandalism against properties which are owned by Alevis.
In the face of this vandalism, Turkish PM Erdogan said

“We are not the government of a certain belief or ethnic group, we are the government of all 75 million citizens,” Erdogan told a meeting of his ruling party in the Parliament. “We are the guarantor of the rights and security of all people without any discrimination.”
By Associated Press, Updated: Tuesday, March 6, 8:29 AM

POINT # 2.  Thank goodness for wisdom from wherever it comes. Prime Minister Erdogan’s wisdom is to be celebrated!

The Turkish Government has not been so wise and prudent in its treatment of the Kurdish minority.  That is to be lamented.

“Nobody loves the Kurds”. They are despised and rejected in Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and in the former Soviet States.  They are ignored by the Western democracies.

POINT #3.  We all are wilfully prejudiced against Kurds.

Despite the ill-treatment of Turkey’s Kurdish minority, I still believe that Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey has a word which is important to consider in the U.S.A. as we begin to think about our next President.

Wouldn’t it be great if the candidates from both parties would say as Erdogan said: 

“We are not the government of a certain belief or ethnic group, we are the government of all citizens,” “We are the guarantor of the rights and security of all people without any discrimination.”

I think that Barack Obama believes this, but I wish that he would state it more clearly.

I also believe that Mitt Romney believes this.  No one, (excepting ignorant anti-Mormons) should doubt that a Romney Presidency would be religiously neutral.

POINT # 4.  If a Turkish Prime Minister can speak so powerfully about the rights and security of all people why are American politicians so wimpy?



FIRST from AP News:

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey’s prime minister on Tuesday promised to protect the country’s largest religious minority after 25 houses mostly belonging to Alevi Muslims were vandalized, raising fears for their safety.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan said an investigation was launched into the vandalism in the southeastern city of Adiyaman. Interior Minister Idris Naim Sahin earlier said children were believed to be behind the marking of the houses with red paint.

The incident has stoked fears of violence in Adiyaman since Alevi houses were similarly marked before the killing of more than 100 Alevis in neighboring Kahramanmaras province in 1978. Alevi houses were also marked in the same way before clashes in the central Anatolian city of Corum in 1980.

The country’s Alevi Muslims, who incorporate shamanistic traditions and do away with many customary Islamic practices, including the separation of men and women in prayer, have long faced discrimination in Turkey. They are considered heretics by many Sunni and Shia traditionalists.

“We are not the government of a certain belief or ethnic group, we are the government of all 75 million citizens,” Erdogan told a meeting of his ruling party in the Parliament. “We are the guarantor of the rights and security of all people without any discrimination.”


SECOND   From Wikipedia

According to former minister Hüseyin Çelik, "the AK Party is a conservative democratic party [but] the AK Party's conservatism is limited to moral and social issues." The Economist characterizes the party as "mildly Islamist" while Reuters refers to the AKP as "Islamist-rooted" and "Islamic-leaning." The party objects to the frequent descriptions of it in the Western media as Islamist. In March 2010 Çelik complained that "in the Western press, when the AK Party administration... is being named, unfortunately most of the time 'Islamic,' 'Islamist,' 'mildly Islamist,' 'Islamic-oriented,' 'Islamic-leaning,' 'Islamic-based' or 'with an Islamic agenda,' and similar language is being used. These characterizations do not reflect the truth, and they sadden us.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Gale Temple, Tornadoes, and heavy winds in SRQ

The tail end of the storm which spawned all those ghastly tornadoes reached south west Florida this morning.

When I arose at 4:30 p.m. the outside temperature was 75f. Within the space of two hours it had dropped by 10 degrees as the winds came rushing in.   It’s not gotten back to 75f all day.

Mind you -  we have been fortunate.  We did not even get the heavy rain and thunderstorms which were visited on the panhandle and other parts of north Florida yesterday.  

For a while at about 7:00 as I was walking Penne the storm clouds were full and I anticipated a drenching.  But they blew over, and we received no more than a few sprinkles.

But it has been very windy all day, reminding us of the amazing power of wind, and of the awesome and awful damage wrought by tornadoes. 

As I have looked at the photo’s of flattened towns and villages especially in Kentucky and Indiana, I have wondered “how to people start all over again when they have lost everything?”

(By the way, that 14 month old toddler who was discovered all alone is in critical condition. However, contrary to earlier reports, she was not found ten miles from her home - in fact she was very near where her home had been).  (Be wary of the accuracy of news when it is initially reported).

I was heartened by the words of an evangelical Baptist minister on the radio this morning. His church building was intact though surrounded by flattened houses and stores.  The NPR reporter asked him whether he would have services this morning.  “No” he calmly replied.  “We are being Christ today by rendering all the assistance we can to those who have lost so much”.  That man had his priorities right!

The storms and the winds have reminded me of an incident in  my home city of Bristol U.K. some 55 – 60 years ago.  

During a stormy night, with gale force winds, a baby girl was abandoned in or near our man railway station – known at Bristol Temple Meads Station.    The Bristol Evening Post nicknamed her “Gale Temple”.

I wonder what happened to her.  I can only hope that she was adopted by a stable and decent family.