Saturday, 28 April 2012

Political hypocrisy from Speaker Boehner


The following is a quotation from the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Rep. John Boehner (R. Ohio)

His words are in the context of a legislative effort to extend the lower interest rates for student loans for one more year. This matter is being debated in the house of Representatives

Representatives who are members of the Democratic Party are in favour of this extension. They believe that it should be off-set by a revision of tax policies which give “breaks” to the big oil companies.

Representatives who are members of the Republican Part are in favour of this extension. They believe that it should be off-set by reductions in health care programmes for women.

Here is how Rep. Boehner put it:

“Why do people insist that we have a political fight?” Boehner said. “People want to politicize this because it’s an election year, but my God, do we have to fight about everything?
“Now we’re going to have a fight over women’s health. Give me a break,” 

Give me a break about women’s health? (jmp)

John Boehner seems to forget that it is the members of his Republican Party (the dog which is being wagged by the Tea Party tail) who began this fight with their regressive policies: e.g. defunding Planned Parenthood, and restricting the choices of women in the grave and brave decisions they have to make regarding abortion.

As I understand it, the Republican Party is no friend of women. (jmp)

Rep. John Boehner’s comments seem to suggest that I am correct.  Here they are again:

“Now we’re going to have a fight over women’s health. Give me a break,”

No John Boehner, I will not give you a break. ‘Twas your Party which started this fight.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

After my rants I move to cats.


My cats sometimes like each other. They are resting on a Union Flag "throw" - a gift from my cousin Janet. Senior cat Ada is on the left, Junior cat Adelaide on the right.  Ada, from time to time, asserts her authority and "bats" Adelaide who is then sent scattering to the wind.



Junior Cat Adelaide loves to sit on the window sill in the late afternoon.  Here she is, viewed through the sheer curtains  (1)



Junior Cat Adelaide loves to sit on the window sill in the late afternoon.  Here she is, viewed through the sheer curtains  (2)

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

On not attending Church two weeks in a row (3)


Careful readers of this blog will have noticed that I often write “G-d”, or “The Holy One”.  I have adopted this custom from Judaism which has a wise caution against the casual invocation of the name of “The Eternal One”
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To name something or someone is (in some fashion) an expression of a very limited human understanding.

When I see a cat I say “there is a cat”.

When I see a friend I say “hello Harry”.

I know these words, but they in no way express the meaning of “cat-ness” or “Harry-ness”.

Similarly I know the word “God”, but knowing that word does not mean that I have any deep inkling of God-ness.

That is why, in solidarity with my Jewish friends, I am sometimes wary of naming G-d.

It is important that my religious experience be rooted in awe and wonder, rather than in ** chumminess.

If the Creator is  awesome (and I believe that s/he must be so), then I will pray to that Creator not as “my best friend”, but as to a Being who is entirely above and beyond me -  viz: the Holy One.

Such is the awesomeness of G-d that to pray is to be reduced to silence. The psalm writers knew this some 3,000 years ago.  See this for instance:


Psalm 62 1 For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. 2 He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall never be shaken.


So it is that I have learned to appreciate G-d in silence, rather than in the often busy, and sometimes frenetic Church services.

1. I began to learn this in 1984 when I became the Rector at St. Stephen’s in Pittsfield, MA.  My fabulous predecessor, the Revd Andrew Wissemann had instituted a daily regime of Morning Prayer (9:00 a.m), and Evening Prayer (5:00 p.m.) using the services of the Book of Common Prayer.
We continued this regime under my Rectorship. (1984-2000). In the silences of daily morning and evening prayer I sensed the presence of the Holy One.

2. In 1999 I spent a week at the Taize Community in Burgundy, FR. (Check with Google for more information about Taize).  The worship there – three times a day – includes a ton of silence – experienced in the presence of some 3,000 other people.

It was in that in that shared silence (which at first I resisted) that I yet again had a palpable sense of the awesome presence of the awful G-d.

As the Psalmist wrote  “For God alone my soul waits in silence


(** Of course I understand that God in Jesus Christ calls me a friend.  But good friends often have their most intimate times in shared silence).

Monday, 23 April 2012

On not attending Church two weeks in a row (2)


I added this comment to my own blog entry yesterday since a couple of folks thought that I was referring to a particular parish

"For clarification - my musings are rooted in my experiences in congregations in general (six where I have worshiped in SW FL,  and four where I was Rector in MA) - not in any parish in particular."

That having been said, my concern is about the busy, cluttered, noisy and unfocussed nature of much of Church life.

I confess that as a Rector I often thought “the busier the better”, and was rarely if ever open to the heartfelt desire of many parishioners: i.e. to clear away the clutter, and to enable prayer and the practise of the presence of G-d.

Now that I am on the “other side of the altar/pulpit” I have an acute awareness that Church services are not often the best vehicles for:

1.  our encounters with the Holy One;

2.  our sense of dependence upon G-d;

3.our experience of awe and wonder;

4. the ability to listen to what G-d might be telling us from the Bible and in the Holy Communion.

It sometimes seems to me that our Church services are purposefully busy - precisely because we are scared of the prospect of encountering the awesomeness of G-d.

Tomorrow I will write about a couple of experiences of worship in which the presence of G-d was palpable.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

On not attending Church two weeks in a row


I didn’t go to Church this morning.  That’s the second Sunday in a row.

 I sometimes need to miss Church so that I can discern whether or not I value and need it.

That sounds fairly self centred, and it probably is. At one level I know that I need the discipline of shared worship, a discipline which can move me away from my hubris and self-sufficiency.

But I didn’t go to Church last week or this because Church is the last place on earth where I can pray; the last place on earth where I can expect God’s Word to speak to me. 

It’s all too busy, too cluttered, too noisy, too un-focussed.  It tries to please too many people for too many reasons.

Church can be very (or fairly) entertaining.  It can be informative.  It can be a pleasant enough place to meet my friends and colleagues.

There are many other groups and places at which I can be entertained and informed.  There are many other groups and places at which I can meet my friends and colleagues. G-d is present in those groups and places too, but as an anonymous and un-named guest.

There are precious few places where I can anticipate a deep encounter with the Living God, a place where S/he is acknowledged, honoured and obeyed.

Church should be one of those places:  I/we should expect that our joining with other Christians of a Sunday morning would lead to an encounter with the Holy One.

But it rarely happens.

It rarely happens because Sunday worship is often too busy, too cluttered, too noisy, too un-focussed.

That’s been my experience in the Churches I attend in the SRQ
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And it was most probably the experience of the parishioners in those places where I was the Rector.