Thursday, 7 June 2012

Today, tomorrow , Saturday and Sunday

1. It has been a rainy and thundery day here in south west Florida.

We who live here rejoice in every single drop of rain and are glad when the “monsoon season” fulfils its promise. Gotta fill those aquifers y’know.

I enjoy the distant rolling of thunder.

Thanks be to some evolutionary trait my dog  Penne is not spooked by thunder.

She and I have been able to take some good walks in-between the storms.

2. I am off to Boston tomorrow for a brief visit with dear friends in Cambridge, MA and Providence RI.

3. Jill, my good house and pet sitter will take care of my home and my pets. Penne likes Jill. The cats like anyone who feeds them.

4. Below  is   the "fly past" photo’ from the Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II of the United  Kingdom.  The photo' was taken from the tail of a World War II Lancaster Bomber  (must have been a remote control camera), the plane in the foreground is a World War II Spitfire.

You can see the huge crowds outside the Palace and along the Mall.  What a great view of London.


I'll be back in touch on Sunday evening  10th June or Monday morning 11th Jue

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

In praise of .....

.... Georgia peaches.

One of the best aspects of  life in Florida is that (at this time of year) our markets have an abundance of Georgia peaches.

I've been buying them at Sarasota's  Mennonite owned "Yoder's Market" on Bahia Vista Street.

These peaches are firm-fleshed, but not hard.

They peel away from the stone with the greatest of ease.

They are sweet and juicy.

I've had nothing but a peach for my breakfast these past five days.

This too shall pass, but for now I am glad that Florida is so near to Georgia --  "The Peach State"

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

The Archbishop of Canterbury's sermon at St. Paul's Cathedral this morning

Who knows what an Archbishop should preach at the Diomand Jubilee of  a Monarch.  This  is what Archbishop of Canterbury,  Dr,.Rowans Williams said today.

I suggest that he paid all due deference to E II R (as he was expected to do), yet also "nailed" some important Christian themes.  Here is his sermon.

The emphases are mine, so if you wish to forward the sermon please use this original from the ABC's website


In the Name of the Father and of the  Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Some words from St Paul: ‘Present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God.’

There will be other occasions to remember the splendour and the drama of the Coronation; today’s focus is different. What we remember is the simple statement of commitment made by a very young woman, away from home, suddenly and devastatingly bereaved, a statement that she would be there for those she governed, that she was dedicating herself to them.

‘Dedication’ is a word that has come to mean rather less than it used to. Those of us who belong to the same generation as Her Majesty’s older children will recall a sixties song about a ‘dedicated follower of fashion’ – as though to be ‘dedicated’ just meant to be very enthusiastic. But in the deep background of the word is the way it is used in classical and biblical language: in this context, to be ‘dedicated’ is to be absolutely removed from other uses, being completely available to God.

And so to be dedicated to the good of a community – in this case both a national and an international community – is to say, ‘I have no goals that are not the goals of this community; I have no well-being, no happiness, that is not the well-being of the community. What will make me content or happy is what makes for the good of this particular part of the human family.’

It is an ambitious, even an audacious thing to aim at. It is, of course, no more so than the ideals set before all Christians who try to model their lives on what St Paul says about life in the Body of Christ. That doesn’t make it any easier to grasp or to live out; but the way St Paul approaches it should help us see that we’re not being encouraged to develop a self-punishing attitude, relentlessly denying our own goals or our own flourishing for the sake of others. What’s put before us is a genuine embrace of those others, a willingness to be made happy by the well-being of our neighbours.

‘Outdo one another in showing honour’, says St Paul. Compete with each other only in the generous respect you show to one and all; because in learning that respect you will find delight in one another. You will begin to discover that the other person is a source of nourishment, excitement, pleasure, growth and challenge. And if we broaden this out to an entire community, a nation, a commonwealth, it means discovering that it is always in an ever-widening set of relations that we become properly ourselves. Dedication to the service of a community certainly involves that biblical sense of an absolute purge of selfish goals, but it is also the opening of a door into shared riches.

I don’t think it’s at all fanciful to say that, in all her public engagements, our Queen has shown a quality of joy in the happiness of others; she has responded with just the generosity St Paul speaks of in showing honour to countless local communities and individuals of every background and class and race. She has made her ‘public’ happy and all the signs are that she is herself happy, fulfilled and at home in these encounters. The same, of course, can manifestly be said of Prince Philip; and our prayers and thoughts are very much with him this morning.  To declare a lifelong dedication is to take a huge risk, to embark on a costly venture. But it is also to respond to the promise of a vision that brings joy.

And perhaps that is the challenge that this Jubilee sets before us in nation and Commonwealth. St Paul implies that we should be so overwhelmed by the promise of a shared joy far greater than narrow individual fulfilment, that we find the strength to take the risks and make the sacrifices – even if this seems to reduce our individual hopes of secure enjoyment.

Moralists (archbishops included) can thunder away as much as they like; but they’ll make no difference unless and until people see that there is something transforming and exhilarating about the prospect of a whole community rejoicing together – being glad of each other’s happiness and safety. This alone is what will save us from the traps of ludicrous financial greed, of environmental recklessness, of collective fear of strangers and collective contempt for the unsuccessful and marginal – and many more things that we see far too much of, around us and within us.

One crucial aspect of discovering such a vision – and many still do discover it in their service of others, despite everything –is to have the stories and examples available that show it’s possible. Thank God, there are many wonderful instances lived out unobtrusively throughout the country and the Commonwealth. But we are marking today the anniversary of one historic and very public act of dedication – a dedication that has endured faithfully, calmly and generously through most of the adult lives of most of us here. We are marking six decades of living proof that public service is possible and that it is a place where happiness can be found. To seek one’s own good and one’s own well-being in the health of the community is sacrificially hard work – but it is this search that is truly natural to the human heart. That’s why it is not a matter of tight-lipped duty or grudging compliance with someone else’s demands. Jesus himself says ‘My food is to do the will of him who sent me’, and that’s what is at the heart of real dedication.

This year has already seen a variety of Jubilee creations and projects. But its most lasting memorial would be the rebirth of an energetic, generous spirit of dedication to the common good and the public service, the rebirth of a recognition that we live less than human lives if we think just of our own individual good.

Listen again for a moment to St Paul. ‘We have gifts that differ according to the grace given us … the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness … Outdo one another in showing honour … extend hospitality to strangers … Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another … take thought for what is noble in the sight of all.’ Dedication to the health and well-being of a community is all this and more. May we be given the grace to rediscover this as we give thanks today for Her Majesty’s sixty years of utterly demanding yet deeply joyful service.

© Rowan Williams 2012

Sunday, 3 June 2012

The U.K. Monarch's Diamond Jubilee

I am not a monarchist by a long chalk.  This goes back a long way.

When I was twelve years old Queen Elizabeth made her first official visit to my home City - Bristol, U.K.   Of course we had a day off school, and were expected to line the streets and wave our Union Flags.

I had no patience, even at the age of twelve, for all things Royal, so I chose not to do so, much to my mother's dismay.  She, like many Britons of the WW II era had a great respect for the British Royal family.

Nonetheless, 60 years is a good innings as Head of State. 

So having attended the 8:00 Eucharist at St. B's today, I tuned in to live coverage of the River Thames flotilla when I returned home.

It was a wee bit underwhelming.

I had imagined Tall Ships and Royal Navy Vessels in abundance, i.e. something rather more grand than today's motley flotilla.

The coverage by the BBC was dismal. There were miserable camera angles, sound and vision breakdowns, useless cut-away interviews, and "over the top" fawning and sophomoric commentary.

( I have checked with British new sources, and many others have expressed similar sentiments about the Beeb's coverage).

Nevertheless the old lady seemed to be having a good time.  She smiled a lot, and waved even more.

There is a marked lack of sympathy for republican government in the United Kingdom.

That being the case we must wish E II R many more years.  She is infinitely to be prefered over her pampered, reactionary, antediluvian and  fuss-budget son and heir.



Here is part of the oath I swore when I became a United States Citizen in 1984:  I took the oath seriously, but I add it here "tongue in cheek",  in view of  my lack of enthusiasm for the Monarchy in the land of my birth and heritage.

"I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen;