Saturday, 5 May 2012

Jesus was not a Bishop

"Jesus was not a bishop — Alleluia!"

This quote is from a reader of the "Baltimore Sun".  He was responding to an article about the strange behaviours of Roman Catholic Bishops.

I like what he had to say:: "Jesus was not a bishop — Alleluia!"

But to be clear, indeed Jesus was not a Roman Catholic Bishop. Nor was he a Bishop in the Church of England, or the in the American Episcopal Church.

Nor was he a Priest in the hierarchical way which Catholics and Anglicans promote.

1.Jesus is our brother.

2. Jesus is a servant.

3. Jesus is a teacher.

4. Jesus is the human face of the Holy God.

5. Jesus  is the "Great High Priest" for those who come to God through him.

6. Jesus is not the font of a Churchly hierarchy.


.Bishops and Priests (and I am a Priest) may be all well and good if they serve for the "bene" (good) of God's people.

They are dangerous when the assert that their ordinations are of the "esse" (essence) of what it means to be Church.

They are best when they minister:

as sisters/brothers;
as servants;
as teachers;
as human faces of the eternal and gracious God.


"Jesus was not a bishop — Alleluia!"

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Bert and Polly

They live five doors away from me

.I think that they are in their eighties.

They are snowbirds – spending some of each year here in Sarasota, and the balance in Indiana.  I encounter them as sweet, gentle and caring people.  I bet that that have been married for at least sixty years.

They are Bert and Polly.

Some mornings (if I am up and about before they are) I pick up the newspaper from their driveway and place it on the hood (bonnet) of their car, to save them from having to bend over on the driveway.  It’s a little thing, but it means a lot to them.

Most days we chat about the little things when, as I walk Penne, I pass their home, and they happen to be outdoors.

We chat about their newly adopted cat; or about my two cats; or about my dog; or about the weather.

Bert is usually “on message”.

Polly is not quite as sharp.

 I fear that she may be in the early stages of what we used to call “senile dementia”.

As I passed their home yesterday afternoon on a dog walk I noted that another good neighbour (named Jean) was loading Bert and Polly’s baggage into the back of her SUV.

I stopped to help. (The suitcases were very heavy).

It transpired that Jean was about to drive them to Sarasota’s Airport (SRQ) on the first leg of their journey to Indiana, where they will live with their children for the summer.

(Their baggage included a cat carrier. This made me happy, for Polly is besotted with her adopted cat).

So they went their way – en route to SRQ, and Atlanta, and Indiana.

 I also went my way, and continued to walk with my dog.  But I grew sad when it occurred to me that this could well have been my final interaction with Bert and Polly.

I fear that they may become too frail to come back to SRQ next winter.

Au revoir Bert and Polly.  

I hope that it will be "au revoir"  rather than "adieu". 

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

I rarely buy books these days.  It does not seem terribly wise to line my shelves at aged (nearly 68) when I can borrow much of what I want to read from Sarasota County’s excellent library system.

But from time to time I purchase a book which I can then pass on.

One such recent purchase was “La’s Orchestra Saves the World”, a charming novel by Alexander McCall Smith.  I heard a radio interview with the author and was so taken with the way he spoke that I bought the book.  I loved every page.

But rather than adding it to my book-shelves I signed and dated the fly page of the book, then mailed the book to a dear friend in Massachusetts suggesting that she too might read and enjoy it, and then sign her name and “pass it on”.

I also bought David McCullough’s masterful “The Greater Journey”, a mostly fabulous tale of those Americans who travelled to France and lived there in the 19th Century.  It was worth a read, especially and particularly because of McCullough’s accounts of the incredible integrity of Elihu Washburne, America’s minister to France between 1869 and 1877.

I have loaned this book to my pal Ben, and when he is done with it.  I will e-mail it to my Franco-American friend Lizzie who lives in Bordeaux.

Some months ago I heard a radio interview (maybe on the Diane Rehm programme) with Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows the authors of “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society”. (Dials Press 2008)

That interview stuck itself into my mind.  So much so that could not resist buying a copy of the book last week.

To be truthful it was on sale at our local Fruitville Library by the volunteer “Friends of the Library” at the priceless sum of $1.

It is an exquisite novel – filled with references to the good, the bad, the indifferent and the ugly in the Channel Island of Guernsey during the N-zi Occupation and the immediate years thereafter.

I enjoyed this book so much that I want to pass it on.

 It’s a  “first come first served” to anyone who sends an e-mail to me at  

I will mail my copy of “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” to that person, in  the hope that she/he will pass it on.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

May Day 2012 - a day on which I am proud to be a Socialist

On this May Day I remind myself that I am not a liberal. I am a Christian Socialist.

United States citizens (limited as they are in their understanding of European history) may never have heard of the Christian Socialist Movement.

It is a non-revolutionary and non-violent movement.

It is deeply rooted in the teachings of the Bible.

See for more information.

SO ON THIS MAY DAY, this day of solidarity with the workers (in europe) I, as a proud socialist, offer you the text of “The Red Flag” – an anthem for working people.

PLEASE  NOTE  This anthem was written in 1889.  Thus its references to “The Red Flag” have nothing to do with Soviet State Communism (not the same animal  as Democratic Socialism); and the “Moscow” in stanza 2 is the Moscow of the tyranny of the Tsars.

The lyrics of the song were written by Irishman Jim Connell in 1889.[There are six stanzas, each followed by the chorus. It is normally sung to the tune of "Lauriger Horatius", better known as the German carol "O Tannenbaum"

1. The people's flag is deepest red,
It shrouded oft our martyred dead,
And ere their limbs grew stiff and cold,
Their hearts' blood dyed its every fold.


Then raise the scarlet standard high.
Within its shade we live and die,
Though cowards flinch and traitors sneer,
We'll keep the red flag flying here.

2. Look round, the Frenchman loves its blaze,
The sturdy German chants its praise,
In Moscow's vaults its hymns were sung
Chicago swells the surging throng.


3. It waved above our infant might,
When all ahead seemed dark as night;
It witnessed many a deed and vow,
We must not change its colour now.


4. It well recalls the triumphs past,
It gives the hope of peace at last;
The banner bright, the symbol plain,
Of human right, and human gain.

5. It suits today the weak and base,
Whose minds are fixed on pelf and place
To cringe before the rich man’s frown,
And haul the sacred emblem down.

6. With head uncovered swear we all
To bear it onward till we fall;
Come dungeons dark or gallows grim,
This song shall be our parting hymn

 Then raise the scarlet standard high.
Within its shade we live and die,
Though cowards flinch and traitors sneer,
We'll keep the red flag flying here.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

St. Boniface, Siesta Key, FL. My delight in Church School this morning

It fell to my joyful lot to be the leader at our tiny Church School this morning.  We left the service during the hymn before the gospel – “we” being me, two other adults and eight children – the children aged between 4 and 9 years.

We made our way to Room “F” on the St. Boniface Campus.

At first we had a ceremony of lighting a candle and saying a prayer.  The children sat on the floor. The candle was on a small table – it was maybe 18” high.  I lit the candle and began the prayer.

My prayer was overwhelmed by my own giggles.  For the children had one intention in mind -  it was to blow out the candle. They huffed and puffed so much that I could scarcely pray for laughing.

So I “transformed” the ceremony by announcing that I would light the candle, and that each child could, in turn, use a snuffer to extinguish the flame.

I lit the candle 8 times.  And the eight children took turns to snuff it out.  ‘Twas such fun for them, and for me!

Next came “story time”.  I told the children that they could either sit on the floor, or on the chairs which were set beside some tables.  Each child elected to take a chair.

I said “while I tell the story” you can draw and listen, or you can just draw  (we had an ample supply of paper and magic markers”).

Six of the eight elected to draw. The other two elected to simply listen.

I told them my “made up” story of my pet elephant Mildred who ran away from my home, ate a great feast at Chuck E Cheeses, swam in the Gulf of Mexico off Siesta Key, and then told me that she wanted to return home to Africa.

My story continued – I took “Mildred” to Miami on my tricycle, and then we rowed from Miami to Africa where “Mildred” thanked me for taking her home.

I left it there.  I drew no meanings or morals.

Meanwhile S.B. (aged 6) drew and coloured a picture of her stuffed toy.  It was a remarkable work from a 6 year old.

Here it is- S.B’s drawing, alongside her bear, as photographed by her mother C.B. later today.

Whether or not my story had a deep meaning I rejoice that young S.B. was relaxed enough to create this fabulous drawing. It's an incredible pirce of work for a six year old.