Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Thank You and Deep Joy

Thank you to my friends and family members who live in so many places.

2013 has been a year in which you have loved me, blessed me, encouraged me, laughed with me, and corrected me.

 I know that my life would have been miserable without you.

I also know and rejoice in the fact that your presence in my life has blessed me immeasurably.

I am deeply grateful.

I dare to believe that the truth of the following bible verse has been lived out in my life during 2013

If possible, so far as it depends upon you, live peaceably with all. (Romans 12:18)

By God's grace I believe that I am at peace with all those who love and care for me, and with all those who I love and care.  I enter 2014 with deep joy.

Monday, 30 December 2013

Bob's your uncle, and adventures with Ben.


1.  For reasons which I do not understand, I was thinking earlier today of the expression "Bob's your uncle",  which is/was in common use in the U.K.

 
Here is what Wikipedia has to say about this idiomatic expression:

 
"Bob's your uncle” is an expression of unknown origin, commonly used in Britain and Commonwealth nations. Typically, someone says it to conclude a set of simple instructions, similar to the French expression "et voilà!" or the American slang expressions "...and that's that," or "...and there you go!"


 
What Wikipedia did not say is  that if a person says "Bob's your uncle", some other person will invariably add "and Fanny's your aunt".   Who knows why?

 

I say "God bless Uncle Bob and Aunt Fanny".  Are there any dissenters?


 

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2.  My morning plan was simple.  As well as engaging in the traditional task of "Monday as washing/laundry day"'   I planned:-

 

First to go to the Post Office to buy stamps
Second to stop by my local supermarket to buy nothing more than some "Half and Half" and some "Scotch/Sello tape"
 
Third to go to the most local pet food store which stocks "Science Diet" cat food, there to buy some canned food for my felines and some poopy bags for my dog.
 The plan was working well until, when I was  wandering my local supermarket I  did not see my good friend Ben whose macular degeneration is a great source of sadness for him, and of great worry for his pals.
 
But Ben saw me!


He ventured that he planned to go to Staples to buy yet another "super magnifying glass".


I was a-feared at the prospect of  Ben driving the four or more miles to our nearest Staples.  So I offered to drive him there and baited him with the prospect of a stop at Total Wine, his favourite store!

 Ben drove to his home to disgorge his groceries, and I followed along. That having been done I drove him to Total Wine and to Staples.

Total Wine is a bit misnamed. It is a source of the best wines, and of  huge variety of spirits, and a grand array of beers, ales, porters and ciders etc

My dear Ben purchased a shipping order at Total Wine, so much so that I ventured that we needed a  Pantechnicon to take his goods home!

Then we went to Staples so that Ben could buy his magnifier. He did so (even though I "have me doubts" that any magnifier is effective against macular degeneration).

It was at that point that I realised that I had not yet gotten the cat food.

So, with Ben's cooperation we back-tracked  to Pet Smart to purchase the delicacies for my cats.

 
I drove Ben to his home and helped him to unload his goods, and  drove home  to disgorge my stuff.

 
Guess what?

 In my great adventure with Ben I had forgotten to buy any dog poop bags,

 

OH POOP!

Sunday, 29 December 2013

A Sunday with my English family.

It does not get much better than this!

My good niece Anne (daughter of my oldest sister Maureen and her husband Bernard) is on holiday at Disney with her excellent husband Stuart and their daughter Olivia (13)

I assisted at the wedding service for Stuart and Anne at St. Philip and St.Jacob Church in Bristol, U.K. back in Nineteen ninety ?? something.

So Stuart, Anne and Olivia came over to SRQ from Orlando today. (They have been here before),

First they came to my home where Anne fell in love (again) with my dog Penne; and the cats Ada and Adelaide decided that a simultaneous "sitting on Olivia's lap" was just the best thing. (Sorry no pics).

Then we went off to Marina Jack's restaurant for lunch.

see http://www.marinajacks.com/

It has been unusually rainy for this time of year, so we ate inside.  It was wonderful to be together.

On our way home we drove through SRQ's Pinecraft area, home to many Mennonites and Amish.  Few people know that SRQ has this Anabaptist community, fewer in summer and  more in winter.  See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinecraft_(Sarasota)

Anne and Stuart had many questions about the Mennonites and  Amish.  I told them as much as I knew, even as Olivia "drank this all in" from the back seat of the car where she sat with her mother

Pinecraft is the home of the Famous Big Olaf's Ice-Cream stand, well known to my brother Martyn and his son Sam  (but closed on Sundays)

http://bigolafs.com/

Back at home Penne sang for joy when she saw Anne again. (Yes Penne sings).  That greatly pleased Anne  (and me!)

Stuart, Anne and Olivia
 

Anne, "Livy" and me (I am trying to be goofy)

Penne in all her glory.






.

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Caught in the act

I heard a strange noise this evening, coming from the hall closet where I keep two litter boxes for my two cats.

As I walked into the hallway from bedroom, Penne emerged from the closet. Lord knows what she had been up to.

In a very quiet voice I said "What were you doing there Penne? I don't think that you were up to anything good".

She slunk away from me and walked to her bed, tail between her legs.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

A woman who lives down the road has one of those "little white dogs" which never stops yapping.  The woman often takes her yappy dog for a ride in a baby-buggy/push-chair.  When the dog (named Coquette) sounds off, her owner yells "Oh shut up Coquette, be quiet will you".

In the same vein a man in our neighbouring community uses his electric wheelchair when he takes his Airedale named "Scout" out for walks.

Scout is energetic and rambunctious. He wants to chase squirrels. He has taken a great dislike to Penne and barks at her from a distance of 50 feet.

Scout's owner, a very nice WW II veteran, has an extremely loud voice.  We hear him from far away yelling "bad dog, bad dog, bad dog", or "no, no, no" with increased volume on each "no".

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I do not believe that yelling at our pets serves any useful purpose. How are they to understand that a loud noise means "naughty"?

And slapping or hitting pets is more than useless. *

It is relatively simple to train pets so that they know when they have "crossed the bounds".

In the case of my cats, a click of my thumb and middle finger does the trick. And when I make a "tut tut tut tut" sound with my tongue clicking against my palate they know that they are being summonsed for a little TLC.

Penne responds to two things.

First, a quite reproachful tone.

Second, when and if Penne gets too excited and rambunctious in her greetings when I return to our home after an absence I simply stand still and fold my arms.  That's enough to encourage Penne to lie down on her bed and be at peace. 

And whether the "discipline"  be the gentle voice or the folded arms, I am always careful to be quick in tickling her ears or scratching her back, thus reassuring her that she is loved.

* No child and no animal should ever be slapped or hit.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Holy Scripture in Proverbs 15:1 states that "a soft answer turns away wrath".

I add that "a soft voice encourages good behavior"


Friday, 27 December 2013

Some silliness and other matters

 Daisy is a cat who lives six houses away from me with her doting "parents" Bert and Polly.  Daisy likes dogs.  When any dog passes by Daisy rushes out to go nose to nose, and then rolls on to her back.
 
Daisy and Penne
 
Daisy


===============================================================
 
 
I am not sure what to say about this sign at our local Walgreens.
 
 
 
 
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
 
A chair that I used at my desk collapsed under the weight of its own responsibility. Perhaps I could have repaired the split wood -  if I'd had some good wood glue, a strong clamp, and some skill.

Those things being absent I bought a handsome new chair at a local thrift shop for the princely sum of $8.




 
==============================================
 

 Betty M is a fabulous octogenarian former Marine (as was her late husband),  Betty is adored by all we old queens.
My pal Ben and I each gave her dark chocolate for Christmas.  We know all about her sweet tooth.

Betty responded with gifts for Ben and me.  She insisted that we should open them at the same time  and in the same place.  That we did, and laughed our silly heads off at her "gag" gifts of flashing bow-ties.  (Betty also gave me a bottle of  80 proof "Old Grand-Day Whiskey" (Bourbon) out of  Frankfort-Clermont KY.  Since I don't touch a drop I'll take this Bourbon to a New Year's Day party in my locality).

Ben
 

jmp
 

Penne got in on the act

Thursday, 26 December 2013

My sermon for Christmas Day 2013


Sermon for Christmas Day 2013

The Revd. J. Michael Povey at St. Boniface, Sarasota FL

 

What are your favourite hymns?   I’ll wager that they are the ones you learned as a child.

 

What are your favourite Christmas carols?  “Hark, the herald angels sing?”, “Joy to the World?”, “O come all ye faithful?”, and “Silent Night”, especially “Silent Night”. You’ve been singing them for fifty, sixty or seventy years, and your Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without them.

 

That’s partly because three of them have endings which we can belt out without a hymnal and with abandon. “O come let us adore him”, andHark the herald angels sing”, and “and heaven and nature sing”.  (I sang these ending lines from the pulpit )

 

Mind you, one of the repeats in “Joy to the World” is odd: In verse three we sing “Far as the curse is found” three times. (I sang from the pulpit again ) and then said “these are such strange words to be belting out at Christmas!”  That’s why we’ll omit that verse today.

 

Many priests and church musicians have learned that life is scarcely worth living should they omit a tried and true favourite at Christmas.

 

In one parish I got into great trouble by moving “Silent Night” to the pre-service carol sing, instead of after communion. If I had denied the Virgin Birth the congregation would have said “ho –hum”, but messing with Silent Night was a serious and dangerous error.

 

It’s all very well I suppose, but it is a bit limiting.  There are great and glorious carols and Christmas hymns which we never get to sing because we do not know them. 

 

We do not know them because we never sing them.

 

I worry a bit because most of our favourites take us to the end of the story of Christ, and ignore the beginning.  Jesus is “the new born King”, he is “Christ the Lord” whom we are to adore, and we sing “let earth receive her King”.

 

Even those songs which focus on Jesus as a baby can get it wrong. We sing “but little Lord Jesus no crying he makes” as if Jesus were the idealistic super baby.  I change that word and always sing “but little Lord Jesus LOUD crying he makes”.

 

For the God who we see in Jesus entered this world as a red and wrinkled baby who peed and pooped, and screamed and cried, and suckled at his mother’s breast.

 

The God we see in the birth of Jesus is weak, vulnerable and embraceable.

 

There are a couple of Christmas hymns which allow us to see the frail and very human Jesus.

 

For example “Break forth O beauteous heavenly light” with words by Johann Rist and utterly gorgeous music by J.S. Bach says this “This child, this little helpless boy, shall be our confidence and joy”. 

 

And the 15th Century hymn by Jean Mauburn which starts with the words “Dost thou in a manger lie?” goes to say “If a Monarch where thy state? Where thy court on thee to wait? Sceptre, crown, and sphere? Here no regal pomp we see, naught but need and penury”

We rarely sing them because we don’t have time and the Christmas season is so short. “Tis a pity I think. For in my hours of weakness, despair and pain I am not much helped by the idea of Jesus as a super-King who can solve all my problems and make everything come out right. That does not happen.

 

But I am strengthened and encouraged by the presence of a Jesus who has gone through every bit of human weakness from the cradle to the grave and therefore can say “I know, I understand, I have been there and done that”. “Embrace me in my human frailty and I will embrace you”

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

A perfectly wonderful Christmas Day

I presided and preached at the 10:00 a.m. Christmas Day service at St. Boniface.  It was good to be back in the saddle.

I'll publish my sermon tomorrow.

After service a visitor said  "you are a very good actor".  I took that as a great compliment. Good liturgy is also good performance  as we enact the great themes of our faith.

The congregation  (mostly visitors) numbered 58.  That included the two Churchwardens who made it their business to be present (good for them), and our Director of music playing his fourth service in eighteen hours.

I saw from the attendance book that the Christmas Eve attendance topped 1,000 (in three services).

This afternoon I was at the home of Chris and Greg for a Christmas Feast.  Chris is a professional chef with an international reputation, and Greg is a gracious host.

They open their home on Christmas Day for those who otherwise might be alone.  There were about 35 of us. It was a fantastic feast, with good company (old and new friends) and lively and funny conversation.

'Twas a lovely day.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Late breaking news

 
 
It's a boy!

"O Holy Night"

 
The "history of "O Holy Night"   (and Merry Christmas everyone!)

 
N.B The following is not my writing.  I "lifted it" from the WWW


Stories Behind the Music: "O Holy Night"

"O Holy Night" remains one of the world's most beloved Christmas carols, with uplifting lyrics and melody.

The lyrics were written by Placide Cappeau (1808-1877), a resident of Roquemaure, France (located a few miles north of the historic city of Avignon). Cappeau was a wine merchant and mayor of the town, as well as an occasional writer of poetry.

 Known more for his poetry than his church attendance, it probably shocked Cappeau when his parish priest, shortly before Cappeau embarked on a business trip, asked him to pen a poem for Christmas mass.

In a dusty coach traveling down a bumpy road to France's capital city, Cappeau considered the priest's request. Using the gospel of Luke as his guide, Cappeau imagined witnessing the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. Thoughts of being present on the blessed night inspired him. By the time he arrived in Paris, "Cantique de Noel" had been completed.

Moved by his own work, Cappeau decided that his "Cantique de Noel" was not just a poem, but a song in need of a master musician's hand. Not musically inclined himself, the poet turned to one of his friends, Adolphe Charles Adams, for help, when he arrived in Paris.

Adams was an acquaintance of Monsieur and Madame Laurey, who were friends of Cappeau. The son of a well-known classical musician, Adams had studied in the Paris conservatoire. Adams was at the peak of his career, having written his masterpiece, Giselle, only a few years before, in 1841. He was also the composer of over eighty operatic stage works. His talent and fame brought requests to write works for orchestras and ballets all over the world.

Yet the lyrics that his friend Cappeau gave him must have challenged the composer in a fashion unlike anything he received from London, Berlin, or St. Petersburg.

As a man of Jewish ancestry, for Adams, the words of "Cantique de Noel" represented a day he didn't celebrate and a man he did not view as the son of God. Nevertheless, Adams quickly went to work, attempting to marry an original score to Cappeau's beautiful words. Adams' finished work pleased both poet and priest. The song was performed just three weeks later at a Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, 1847, in Roquemaure.

Initially, "Cantique de Noel" was wholeheartedly accepted by the church in France and the song quickly found its way into various Catholic Christmas services. However, the song's popularity declined after its initial acceptance, based on the reputations of the lyricist and composer. Late in his life, Cappeau left the church and became an active part of the socialist movement. He was described as a social radical, a freethinker, a socialist, and a non-Christian.

Church leaders also discovered that Adams was a Jew, and the song--which had quickly grown to be one of the most beloved Christmas songs in France--was suddenly and uniformly denounced by the Church. The heads of the French Catholic church of the time deemed "Cantique de Noel" as unfit for church services because of its lack of musical taste and "total absence of the spirit of religion." Yet even as the church tried to bury the Christmas song, the French people continued to sing it.

Fortunately, more rational perspectives have prevailed. By 1855, the carol had been published in London, and has been translated into many languages. The best known English translation is " O Holy Night" authored by John Sullivan Dwight (1813-1893), a Unitarian minister, an American music critic and journalist who made his home at the Transcendentalist community of Brook Farm, Massachusetts

. Dwight felt that this wonderful Christmas song needed to be introduced to America, and he saw something else in the song that moved him beyond the story of the birth of Christ. An ardent abolitionist, Dwight strongly identified with the lines of the third verse: "Truly he taught us to love one another; his law is love and his gospel is peace. Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother; and in his name all oppression shall cease." The text supported Dwight's own view of slavery in the South.

Published in his magazine, Journal of Music, Dwight's English translation of "O Holy Night" quickly found favor in America, especially in the North during the Civil War. By coincidence, Christmas became a legal holiday in Massachusetts the same year as Dwight published his translation.

There is an unsubstantiated (but frequently repeated) story that this carol figured prominently on Christmas Eve, 1870, during the Franco-Prussian War. The story goes that, in the midst of fierce fighting between the armies of Germany and France, during the Franco-Prussian War, a French soldier suddenly jumped out of his muddy trench. Both sides stared at the seemingly crazed man. Boldly standing with no weapon in his hand or at his side, he lifted his eyes to the heavens and sang, "Minuit, Chretiens, c'est l'heure solennelle ou L'Homme Dieu descendit jusqu'a nous," the beginning of "Cantique de Noel." After completing all three verses, a German infantryman climbed out his hiding place and answered with, "Vom Himmel noch, da komm' ich her. Ich bring' euch gute neue Mar, Der guten Mar bring' ich so viel, Davon ich sing'n und sagen will," the beginning of Martin Luther's robust Christmas hymn, "From Heaven Above to Earth I Come." The story goes that the fighting stopped for the next twenty-four hours while the men on both sides observed a temporary peace in honor of Christmas day. Perhaps this story had a part in the French church once again embracing "Cantique de Noel" in holiday services.

Adams had been dead for many years and Cappeau and Dwight were old men when on Christmas Eve 1906, Reginald Fessenden, a 33-year-old university professor and former chief chemist for Thomas Edison, did something long thought impossible.

 Using a new type of generator, Fessenden spoke into a microphone and, for the first time in history, a man's voice was broadcast over the airwaves: "And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed," he began in a clear, strong voice, hoping he was reaching across the distances he supposed he would.

Shocked radio operators on ships and astonished wireless owners at newspapers sat slack-jawed as their normal, coded impulses, heard over tiny speakers, were interrupted by a professor reading from the gospel of Luke. To the few who caught this broadcast, it must have seemed like a miracle, hearing a voice somehow transmitted to those far away. Some might have believed they were hearing the voice of an angel.

 Fessenden was probably unaware of the sensation he was causing on ships and in offices; he couldn't have known that men and women were rushing to their wireless units to catch this Christmas Eve miracle.

After finishing his recitation of the birth of Christ, Fessenden picked up his violin and played "O Holy Night," the first song ever sent through the air via radio waves. When the carol ended, Fessenden read another selection from the book of Luke: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of good will." The Christmas program was picked up as far south as Norfolk, Virginia; when the program was repeated on New Year's Eve, it was heard as far away as the West Indies.

Since that first rendition at a small Christmas mass in 1847, "O Holy Night" has been sung millions of times in churches in every corner of the world. And since the moment a handful of people first heard it played over the radio, the carol has gone on to become one of the entertainment industry's most recorded and played spiritual songs. This incredible work--requested by a forgotten parish priest, written by a poet who would later split from the church, given soaring music by a Jewish composer, and brought to Americans to serve as much as a tool to spotlight the sinful nature of slavery as tell the story of the birth of a Savior--has become one of the most beautiful, inspired pieces of music ever created. The lyrics are reprinted below.

O Holy night, the stars are brightly shining
It is the night of the dear Saviour's birth
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till He appeared and the soul felt His worth
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices
For yonder beams a new and glorious morn
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine! O night when Christ was born!
O night divine! O night, O night divine!

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming
Here came the wise men from the Orient land

The King of Kings lay in lowly manger
In all our trials born to be our friend
He knows our need
To our weakness no stranger
Behold your King! before the lowly bend!
Behold your King! before Him bend!

Truly he taught us to love one another 
His law is love and His gospel is peace 
Chains shall He break, for the slave is our brother 
And in His name all oppression shall cease

Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus rise we
Let all within us praise His holy name
Christ is the Lord
Then ever, ever praise we
His pow'r and glory ever more proclaim
His pow'r and glory ever more proclaim


Monday, 24 December 2012


The "history of "O Holy Night" , and Merry Christmas everyone.



(If you go to You Tube  and  search for  "O Holy Night/Nat King Cole"  you will encounter  a wondrous version  of the song, and rejoice in Nat King Cole's  and in  his fabulous diction).

There is a story behind this song. I reproduce it here.


N.B Thie following is not my writing.  I "lifted it" from the web


Stories Behind the Music: "O Holy Night"

"O Holy Night" remains one of the world's most beloved Christmas carols, with uplifting lyrics and melody.

The lyrics were written by Placide Cappeau (1808-1877), a resident of Roquemaure, France (located a few miles north of the historic city of Avignon). Cappeau was a wine merchant and mayor of the town, as well as an occasional writer of poetry.

 Known more for his poetry than his church attendance, it probably shocked Cappeau when his parish priest, shortly before Cappeau embarked on a business trip, asked him to pen a poem for Christmas mass.

In a dusty coach traveling down a bumpy road to France's capital city, Cappeau considered the priest's request. Using the gospel of Luke as his guide, Cappeau imagined witnessing the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. Thoughts of being present on the blessed night inspired him. By the time he arrived in Paris, "Cantique de Noel" had been completed.

Moved by his own work, Cappeau decided that his "Cantique de Noel" was not just a poem, but a song in need of a master musician's hand. Not musically inclined himself, the poet turned to one of his friends, Adolphe Charles Adams, for help, when he arrived in Paris.

Adams was an acquaintance of Monsieur and Madame Laurey, who were friends of Cappeau. The son of a well-known classical musician, Adams had studied in the Paris conservatoire. Adams was at the peak of his career, having written his masterpiece, Giselle, only a few years before, in 1841. He was also the composer of over eighty operatic stage works. His talent and fame brought requests to write works for orchestras and ballets all over the world.

Yet the lyrics that his friend Cappeau gave him must have challenged the composer in a fashion unlike anything he received from London, Berlin, or St. Petersburg.

As a man of Jewish ancestry, for Adams, the words of "Cantique de Noel" represented a day he didn't celebrate and a man he did not view as the son of God. Nevertheless, Adams quickly went to work, attempting to marry an original score to Cappeau's beautiful words. Adams' finished work pleased both poet and priest. The song was performed just three weeks later at a Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, 1847, in Roquemaure.

Initially, "Cantique de Noel" was wholeheartedly accepted by the church in France and the song quickly found its way into various Catholic Christmas services. However, the song's popularity declined after its initial acceptance, based on the reputations of the lyricist and composer. Late in his life, Cappeau left the church and became an active part of the socialist movement. He was described as a social radical, a freethinker, a socialist, and a non-Christian.

Church leaders also discovered that Adams was a Jew, and the song--which had quickly grown to be one of the most beloved Christmas songs in France--was suddenly and uniformly denounced by the Church. The heads of the French Catholic church of the time deemed "Cantique de Noel" as unfit for church services because of its lack of musical taste and "total absence of the spirit of religion." Yet even as the church tried to bury the Christmas song, the French people continued to sing it.

Fortunately, more rational perspectives have prevailed. By 1855, the carol had been published in London, and has been translated into many languages. The best known English translation is " O Holy Night" authored by John Sullivan Dwight (1813-1893), a Unitarian minister, an American music critic and journalist who made his home at the Transcendentalist community of Brook Farm, Massachusetts

. Dwight felt that this wonderful Christmas song needed to be introduced to America, and he saw something else in the song that moved him beyond the story of the birth of Christ. An ardent abolitionist, Dwight strongly identified with the lines of the third verse: "Truly he taught us to love one another; his law is love and his gospel is peace. Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother; and in his name all oppression shall cease." The text supported Dwight's own view of slavery in the South.

Published in his magazine, Journal of Music, Dwight's English translation of "O Holy Night" quickly found favor in America, especially in the North during the Civil War. By coincidence, Christmas became a legal holiday in Massachusetts the same year as Dwight published his translation.

There is an unsubstantiated (but frequently repeated) story that this carol figured prominently on Christmas Eve, 1870, during the Franco-Prussian War. The story goes that, in the midst of fierce fighting between the armies of Germany and France, during the Franco-Prussian War, a French soldier suddenly jumped out of his muddy trench. Both sides stared at the seemingly crazed man. Boldly standing with no weapon in his hand or at his side, he lifted his eyes to the heavens and sang, "Minuit, Chretiens, c'est l'heure solennelle ou L'Homme Dieu descendit jusqu'a nous," the beginning of "Cantique de Noel." After completing all three verses, a German infantryman climbed out his hiding place and answered with, "Vom Himmel noch, da komm' ich her. Ich bring' euch gute neue Mar, Der guten Mar bring' ich so viel, Davon ich sing'n und sagen will," the beginning of Martin Luther's robust Christmas hymn, "From Heaven Above to Earth I Come." The story goes that the fighting stopped for the next twenty-four hours while the men on both sides observed a temporary peace in honor of Christmas day. Perhaps this story had a part in the French church once again embracing "Cantique de Noel" in holiday services.

Adams had been dead for many years and Cappeau and Dwight were old men when on Christmas Eve 1906, Reginald Fessenden, a 33-year-old university professor and former chief chemist for Thomas Edison, did something long thought impossible.

 Using a new type of generator, Fessenden spoke into a microphone and, for the first time in history, a man's voice was broadcast over the airwaves: "And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed," he began in a clear, strong voice, hoping he was reaching across the distances he supposed he would.

Shocked radio operators on ships and astonished wireless owners at newspapers sat slack-jawed as their normal, coded impulses, heard over tiny speakers, were interrupted by a professor reading from the gospel of Luke. To the few who caught this broadcast, it must have seemed like a miracle, hearing a voice somehow transmitted to those far away. Some might have believed they were hearing the voice of an angel.

 Fessenden was probably unaware of the sensation he was causing on ships and in offices; he couldn't have known that men and women were rushing to their wireless units to catch this Christmas Eve miracle.

After finishing his recitation of the birth of Christ, Fessenden picked up his violin and played "O Holy Night," the first song ever sent through the air via radio waves. When the carol ended, Fessenden read another selection from the book of Luke: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of good will." The Christmas program was picked up as far south as Norfolk, Virginia; when the program was repeated on New Year's Eve, it was heard as far away as the West Indies.

Since that first rendition at a small Christmas mass in 1847, "O Holy Night" has been sung millions of times in churches in every corner of the world. And since the moment a handful of people first heard it played over the radio, the carol has gone on to become one of the entertainment industry's most recorded and played spiritual songs. This incredible work--requested by a forgotten parish priest, written by a poet who would later split from the church, given soaring music by a Jewish composer, and brought to Americans to serve as much as a tool to spotlight the sinful nature of slavery as tell the story of the birth of a Savior--has become one of the most beautiful, inspired pieces of music ever created. The lyrics are reprinted below.

O Holy night, the stars are brightly shining
It is the night of the dear Saviour's birth
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till He appeared and the soul felt His worth
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices
For yonder beams a new and glorious morn
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine! O night when Christ was born!
O night divine! O night, O night divine!

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming
Here came the wise men from the Orient land

The King of Kings lay in lowly manger
In all our trials born to be our friend
He knows our need
To our weakness no stranger
Behold your King! before the lowly bend!
Behold your King! before Him bend!

Truly he taught us to love one another 
His law is love and His gospel is peace 
Chains shall He break, for the slave is our brother 
And in His name all oppression shall cease

Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus rise we
Let all within us praise His holy name
Christ is the Lord
Then ever, ever praise we
His pow'r and glory ever more proclaim
His pow'r and glory ever more proclaim

(If you go to You Tube  and  search for  "O Holy Night/Nat King Cole"  you will encounter  a wondrous version  of the song, and rejoice in Nat King Cole's  and in  his fabulous diction).
 

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Happy pre-Christmas thoughts

Christmas-tide  is great --- even if you are not an observant Christian, or if you profess another faith, or if you are agnostic about belief, or if you are an atheist.

1.  It brings people together to enjoy good food and to enjoy each other.  In my case it was the blessing of a gathering on Saturday 21st December with my good friends Ron and Charlotte, with Ron's sister Karen and her husband Den, and with Cindy -  a new friend in this area.  Such good food. Such lively conversations.

2. It provides a good reason to be in touch with friends and family members who we rarely see, or who live far away.  In my case it was a long 'phone conversation today with a fabulous friend in Massachusetts, my dear Gwen S.

3. It encourages people to "put on the ritz".  In my case the "ritz" was a totally gorgeous display of Christmas lights outside a home some four doors east of Ron and Char's home.   The home is ablaze with white Christmas lights on every bush and shrub, and all around the street side of the home.

As I began my drive home last night my eyes and heart were filled with delight at this stunning blaze of light.

4.  I hear the voices of children.  For better or worse I moved into a 55+ condominium complex when I moved to SRQ in 2006.  No children live here.  But at Christmas-tide some of my neighbours enjoy visits from their grandchildren. The sound of the voices of these young ones makes my heart glad
.
Christmas-tide  is great --- even if you are not an observant Christian, or if you profess another faith, or if you are agnostic about belief, or if you are an atheist.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Small and harsh world.

I attended a funeral at my Church (St. Boniface, Siesta Key) this morning.  It was for a wonderful man named Joe Hinds (1924-2013).  I always loved to greet Joe and his wife Nancy after services, so was happy to be able to show my respect and love for Nancy this morning.

At the reception which followed the service I chatted with another of my favourite parishioners Carolyn W.  I said that I had seen (but not been able to greet) her Marine son, Jody.

Jody is just back from a tour in Afghanistan with the Marine Corps Special Forces.

Some of you will have read in the British and American press about the young American couple who were on their honeymoon in Australia this week.  They sky-dived (the wife in tandem), and the husband, an experienced jumper went solo.

Something dreadful happened on the way down, and as a result the husband was killed.  I glanced at this story and thought: "how awful, to die as a result of an accident on one's honeymoon".

My life went on.  It's going on so very painfully for the wife, Cherilyn.

The husband's name is Brandon.  He is also a Marine who had just returned from Afghanistan and got married on leave.

His death was "brought home to me" today.  For you see , our good parishioner Jody was in the same 30 man unit in Afghanistan with Brandon.  They were close buddies in a very cohesive special forces group.

Jody is hurting like hell.  Pray for him, for his fellow Marines in that unit, and for Cherilyn.  The Military is sending  'plane to bring her and her husband's remains back to the States.

Semper Fi.

Friday, 20 December 2013

A novelist and Pope Francis:The Joy of The Gospel.

In her novel  "Flight Behavior"  (Harper-Collins 2012)  the great novelist Barbara Kingsolver writes about  the struggles of life in rural Appalachia. 

In the early pages of the book a number of women are working together to comb sheep fleeces for burrs and bits of straw.

They are presided over by a very religious family matriarch  named Hester.

Hester's daughter in law Dellarobia is not so sure about the certainties of conventional religion.

Here is an excerpt from Chapter Two:  "They (the women) all attended Hester's Church, which Dellarobia viewed as a complicated  pyramid scheme of moral debit and credit resting ultimately  on the shoulders of the Lord, but rife with middle managers"

====================================================


Good Lord above, as a semi-retired Priest , I know that I have often been a controlling middle manager.

I think that the tantalisingly wonderful Pope Francis also knows all about this. 

Here is a commentary about,  and excerpt from his most recent  missive "The Joy of the Gospel" - lifted from the U.K. newspaper "The Independent"


The Pope first looks with an unforgiving eye at the barriers to missionary ministry that the Church itself erects. In his exhortation,

 Pope Francis says “I do not want a Church… which... ends by being caught up in a web of obsessions and procedures.”

Surprisingly, he rails at the “excessive centralisation” which, rather than proving helpful, “complicates the Church’s life and her missionary outreach”. He warns that “mere administration can no longer be enough”.

Pope Francis despairs of “the gray pragmatism of the daily life of the Church, in which all appears to proceed normally, while in reality faith is wearing down and degenerating into small‑mindedness”.

He calls this “A tomb psychology”, which slowly transforms Christians into “mummies in a museum”.

And in a thrust that could as well be aimed at the Church of England as well as at the Church of Rome, he notes that in some people we see “an ostentatious preoccupation for the liturgy, for doctrine and for the Church’s prestige, but without any concern that the Gospel have a real impact on God’s faithful people and the concrete needs of the present time. In this way, the life of the Church turns into a museum piece or something which is the property of a select few.”


Good Lord above.  This Pope gets it!

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Senior cat Ada's day at the Vet.

Dear and sweet Ada (now aged 13) spent most of today at my Veterinarian's place.

This was on account of Ada's up-chucking for three days, and her inability to retain and digest both dry and wet food.

So what was the diagnosis.  My silly and/or cynical side says "$314".

The locum vet listened to me. He chastised me because I had not brought Ada in for treatment on her first day of vomiting.

He examined Ada.  Her temp was fine. There was no fever. Her vitals were good.  She had lost 1lb in weight since 2011.

Then the  vet injected Ada with an anti-biotic  ( strange since there was no diagnosis).  He also gave her an anti-nausea shot, and took some blood to be tested.

Ada  remained "under observation"  until 4:00 p.m. at which time she was released to my custody, (sans the blood test reports which we will get tomorrow).

The very good "techie" told me that Ada had ingested  some Hill's "Prescription Diet I/D "wet food during the day and had "kept it down".  "Maybe" she said, "Ada was suffering from nothing more than a temporary gastro-intestinal blip",

She suggested that I should feed this and this alone to Ada for the next three days.  I hope that it will not be longer because three 156g  (5.5oz) cans cost me $5.

So Ada came home.  She was greeted by Penne the dog, and Adelaide the junior cat, both of which greeted her with a nose to tail sniff-fest.

Ada has eaten some prescription I/D food this evening and has kept it down.  But she still seems to be a bit under the weather, and is still hiding in dark places in my home.

I worry!

====================================================================

About that $314

1.  $130 of this is the charge for the out-sourced analysis of blood.

2.  And I understand that any decent Veterinarian has huge overheads (rent and staff wages being a large part of the "mark up") so that the in-source charge of $184 seems quite reasonable for Ada's treatment and care,

3. But how tough it must be to pay these bills by my poorer friends who love their pets, but have no money.

4.Maybe my pet loving friends and I could/would send a few dollars to a local "free care" or "reduced fee" Veterinarian.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

A burial service today at Sarasota County FL Pauper's Cemetery.

It was not until today (Dec 17th 2013) that I knew of a Pauper's cemetery in Sarasota County FL

Here is a bit about it. 


http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=cr&CRid=2304221

Such cemeteries are sometime known as Potter's Fields   see:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potter's_field

All that being said I was at the Sarasota County Pauper's cemetery this morning   to pray at the internment of the ashes of someone I had never known.

His name was Rich.  He hailed from New Jersey.

Rich had been on his own since the age of 16 by which age both his Mom and Dad had ded.

 He died some weeks ago at the age of 60.  He had been dead for five days when his corpse was found in  a trailer (caravan) in which he lived in SRQ.

The "authorities"  could identify but one contact for the deceased , a retired firefighter named Mike B  from Buffalo NY  who now lives in this part of FL. 

Mike B and I know each other because we have ministered together at the daytime shelter for homeless people in SRQ  Resurrection House.

Mike B is not overtly religious, but he is a man after God's own heart,

He cared for Rich  so much that he was determined that Rich's cremated remains should not be interred in the Pauper's cemetery  without prayer.  That's where I came in.

I, with Mike, with Mike's good friend Len, with a Sarasota County Social Services staff member, and with a cousin  of Rich (who appeared out of nowhere) stood around a hole which in the ground and into which we placed Rich's cremated remains, with prayer.

I am saddened by the circumstance of Rich's death.

I am so deeply honoured that Mike B asked me to pray when R's ashes were interred in a pauper's  grave.



In all our desperation  and cynicism let's be grateful  for gracious blue collar folks such as Mike B who put their money alongside their mouths,

Monday, 16 December 2013

(1) Thank goodness for public libraries. (2) King size bed.

I am a frequent and grateful patron of Sarasota County's public library.  I find it hard to imagine life without them.

This library in Hillsdale N.J. gets my vote for the "library sign of the year".  (Photo' via my friend Regina L.W.)

 
====================================================
 
My friend Pam B offers this picture of what may be the first king sized bed.
 
 



Sunday, 15 December 2013

The strange ways of Dennis Rodman.

The following (it is long) is from the newspaper of the DRPK.  It is the "rationale" for the execution of  Kim Jon Un's  uncle  Jang Song Thaek.  It is an amazing example of Soviet style "purple prose".

Given the brutality of the DRPK regime I find it hard to understand why Dennis Rodman considers Kim Jon Un a friend, and why Rodman is willing to coach the DRPK National basketball team.

Has Rodman lost his marbles?  Is he naïve?  Is he a buffoon? Is he a self-promoter?

Who knows?  Your guess is as good as mine.

==================================================================

The tribunal examined Jang’s crimes.

All the crimes committed by the accused were proved in the course of hearing and were admitted by him.

A decision of the special military tribunal of the Ministry of State Security of the DPRK was read out at the trial.

Every sentence of the decision served as sledge-hammer blow brought down by our angry service personnel and people on the head of Jang, an anti-party, counter-revolutionary factional element and despicable political careerist and trickster.

The accused is a traitor to the nation for all ages who perpetrated anti-party, counter-revolutionary factional acts in a bid to overthrow the leadership of our party and state and the socialist system.
Jang was appointed to responsible posts of the party and state thanks to the deep political trust of President Kim Il Sung and leader Kim Jong Il and received benevolence from them more than any others from long ago.


He held higher posts than before and received deeper trust from supreme leader Kim Jong Un, in particular.

The political trust and benevolence shown by the peerlessly great men of Mt. Paektu were something he hardly deserved.

It is an elementary obligation of a human being to repay trust with sense of obligation and benevolence with loyalty.

However, despicable human scum Jang, who was worse than a dog, perpetrated thrice-cursed acts of treachery in betrayal of such profound trust and warmest paternal love shown by the party and the leader for him.

From long ago, Jang had a dirty political ambition. He dared not raise his head when Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il were alive. But, reading their faces, Jang had an axe to grind and involved himself in double-dealing. He began revealing his true colors, thinking that it was just the time for him to realize his wild ambition in the period of historic turn when the generation of the revolution was replaced.
Jang committed such an unpardonable thrice-cursed treason as overtly and covertly standing in the way of settling the issue of succession to the leadership with an axe to grind when a very important issue was under discussion to hold respected Kim Jong Un in high esteem as the only successor to Kim Jong Il in reflection of the unanimous desire and will of the entire party and army and all people.
When his cunning move proved futile and the decision that Kim Jong Un was elected vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission of the Workers’ Party of Korea at the Third Conference of the WPK in reflection of the unanimous will of all party members, service personnel and people was proclaimed, making all participants break into enthusiastic cheers that shook the conference hall, he behaved so arrogantly and insolently as unwillingly standing up from his seat and half-heartedly clapping, touching off towering resentment of our service personnel and people.

Jang confessed that he behaved so at that time as a knee-jerk reaction as he thought that if Kim Jong Un’s base and system for leading the army were consolidated, this would lay a stumbling block in the way of grabbing the power of the party and state.


When Kim Jong Il passed away so suddenly and untimely to our sorrow, he began working in real earnest to realize its long-cherished greed for power.

Abusing the honor of often accompanying Kim Jong Un during his field guidance, Jang tried hard to create illusion about him by projecting himself internally and externally as a special being on a par with the headquarters of the revolution.

In a bid to rally a group of reactionaries to be used by him for toppling the leadership of the party and state, he let the undesirable and alien elements including those who had been dismissed and relieved of their posts after being severely punished for disobeying the instructions of Kim Jong Il and kowtowing to him work in a department of the Central Committee of the WPK and organs under it in a crafty manner.

Jang did serious harm to the youth movement in our country, being part of the group of renegades and traitors in the field of youth work bribed by enemies. Even after they were disclosed and purged by the resolute measure of the party, he patronized those cat’s paws and let them hold important posts of the party and state.

He had let Ri Ryong Ha, flatterer, work with him since the 1980s whenever he was transferred to other posts and systematically promoted Ri up to the post of first vice department director of the Party Central Committee though he had been purged for his factional act of denying the unitary leadership of the party. Jang thus made Ri his trusted stooge.

Jang let his confidants and flatterers who had been fired for causing an important case of denying the unitary leadership of the party work in his department and organs under it in a crafty manner in a few years. He systematically rallied ex-convicts, those problematic in their past careers and discontented elements around him and ruled over them as sacred and inviolable being.

He worked hard to put all affairs of the country under his control, massively increasing the staff of his department and organs under it, and stretch his tentacles to ministries and national institutions. He converted his department into a “little kingdom” which no one dares touch.

He was so imprudent as to prevent the Taedonggang Tile Factory from erecting a mosaic
depicting Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il and a monument to field guidance given by them. Moreover, Jang turned down the unanimous request of the service personnel of a unit of the Korean People’s Internal Security Forces to have the autograph letter sent by Kim Jong Un to the unit carved on a natural granite and erected with good care in front of the building of its command. He was so reckless as to instruct the unit to erect it in a shaded corner.

He committed such anti-party acts as systematically denying the party line and policies, its organizational will, in the past period. These acts were a revelation of deliberate and sinister attempt to create extreme illusion and idolization of him by making him appear as a special being who can overrule either issues decided by the party or its line.

He went so rude as to take in the middle even those things associated with intense loyalty and sincerity of our army and people towards the party and the leader and distribute them among his confidants in an effort to take credit upon himself for doing so. This behavior was to create illusion about him.

Due to his persistent moves to create illusion and idolization of him his flatterers and followers in his department and organs under it praised him as “No. 1 comrade.” They went the lengths of denying even the party’s instructions to please him at any cost.

Jang established such a heterogenous work system in the department and the relevant organs as considering what he said as more important than the party’s policies. Consequently, his trusted henchmen and followers made no scruple of perpetrating such counterrevolutionary act as disobeying the order of the Supreme Commander of the KPA.

The revolutionary army will never pardon all those who disobey the order of the Supreme Commander and there will be no place for them to be buried even after their death.

Dreaming a fantastic dream to become premier at an initial stage to grab the supreme power of the party and state, Jang made his department put major economic fields of the country under its control in a bid to disable the Cabinet. In this way he schemed to drive the economy of the country and people’s living into an uncontrollable catastrophe.

He put inspection and supervision organs belonging to the Cabinet under his control in defiance of the new state machinery established by Kim Jong Il at the First Session of the Tenth Supreme People’s Assembly. He put all issues related to all structural works handled by the Cabinet under his control and had the final say on them, making it impossible for the Cabinet to properly perform its function and role as an economic command. They included the issues of setting up and disorganizing committees, ministries and national institutions and provincial, city and county-level organs, organizing units for foreign trade and earning foreign money and structures overseas and fixing living allowances.

When he attempted to make a false report to the party without having agreement with the Cabinet and the relevant ministry on the issue related to the state construction control organization, officials concerned expressed just opinion that his behavior was contrary to the construction law worked out by Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il. Hearing this, he made the reckless remark that “the rewriting of the construction law would solve the problem.”

Abusing his authority, he undermined the work system related to the construction of the capital city established by Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, reducing the construction building-materials bases to such bad shape little short of debris in a few years. He weakened the ranks of technicians and skilled workers at the unit for the construction of the capital city in a crafty manner and transferred major construction units to his confidants so that they might make money. In this way he deliberately disturbed the construction in Pyongyang.

He instructed his stooges to sell coal and other precious underground resources at random.

Consequently, his confidants were saddled with huge debts, deceived by brokers. Jang made no scruple of committing such act of treachery in May last as selling off the land of the Rason economic and trade zone to a foreign country for a period of five decades under the pretext of paying those debts.

It was none other than Jang who wirepulled behind scene Pak Nam Gi, traitor for all ages,  to recklessly issue hundreds of billions of won in 2009, sparking off serious economic chaos and disturbing the people’s mind-set.

Jang encouraged money-making under various pretexts to secure funds necessary for gratifying his political greed and was engrossed in irregularities and corruption. He thus took the lead in spreading indolent, careless and undisciplined virus in our society.

After collecting precious metals since the construction of Kwangbok Street in the 1980s, he set up a secret organ under his control and took a fabulous amount of funds from a bank and purchased precious metals in disregard of the state law. He thus committed such anti-state criminal acts as creating a great confusion in financial management system of the state
.
He let the decadent capitalist lifestyle find its way to our society by distributing all sorts of pornographic pictures among his confidants since 2009. He led a dissolute, depraved life, squandering money wherever he went.

He took at least 4.6 million Euro from his secret coffers and squandered it in 2009 alone and enjoyed himself in casino in a foreign country. These facts alone clearly show how corrupt and degenerate he was.

Jang was so reckless with his greed for power that he persistently worked to stretch his tentacles even to the People’s Army with a foolish calculation that he would succeed in staging a coup if he mobilized the army.

He fully revealed his despicable true colors as a traitor for all ages in the course of questioning by uttering as follows: “I attempted to trigger off discontent among service personnel and people when the present regime does not take any measure despite the fact that the economy of the country and people’s living are driven into catastrophe. Comrade supreme leader is the target of the coup.”

As regards the means and methods for staging the coup, Jang said: “I was going to stage the coup by using army officers who had close ties with me or by mobilizing armed forces under the control of my confidants. I don’t know well about recently appointed army officers but have some acquaintances with those appointed in the past period. I thought the army might join in the coup if the living of the people and service personnel further deteriorate in the future. And I calculated that my confidants in my department including Ri Ryong Ha and Jang Su Gil would surely follow me and had a plan to use the one in charge of the people’s security organ as my confidant. It was my calculation that I might use several others besides them.”

Asked about the timing of the coup and his plan to do after staging the coup, Jang answered: “I didn’t fix the definite time for the coup. But it was my intention to concentrate my department and all economic organs on the Cabinet and become premier when the economy goes totally bankrupt and the state is on the verge of collapse in a certain period. I thought that if I solve the problem of people’s living at a certain level by spending an enormous amount of funds I have accumulated under various names after becoming premier, the people and service personnel will shout “hurrah” for me and I will succeed in the coup in a smooth way.”

Jang dreamed such a foolish dream that once he seizes power by a base method, his despicable true colors as “reformist” known to the outside world would help his “new government” get “recognized” by foreign countries in a short span of time.

All facts go to clearly prove that Jang is a thrice-cursed traitor without an equal in the world as he had desperately worked for years to destabilize and bring down the DPRK and grab the supreme power of the party and state by employing all the most cunning and sinister means and methods, pursuant to the “strategic patience” policy and “waiting strategy” of the U.S. and the south Korean puppet group of traitors.

The hateful and despicable nature of the anti-party, anti-state and unpopular crimes committed by Jang was fully disclosed in the course of the trial conducted at the special military tribunal of the DPRK Ministry of State Security.

The era and history will eternally record and never forget the shuddering crimes committed by Jang Song Thaek, the enemy of the party, revolution and people and heinous traitor to the nation.
No matter how much water flows under the bridge and no matter how frequently a generation is replaced by new one, the lineage of Paektu will remain unchanged and irreplaceable.
Our party, state, army and people do not know anyone exceptKim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il and Kim Jong Un.

Our service personnel and people will never pardon all those who dare disobey the unitary leadership of Kim Jong Un, challenge his absolute authority and oppose the lineage of Paektu to an individual but bring them to the stern court of history without fail and mercilessly punish them on behalf of the party and revolution, the country and its people, no matter where they are in hiding.

The special military tribunal of the Ministry of State Security of the DPRK confirmed that the state subversion attempted by the accused Jang with an aim to overthrow the people’s power of the DPRK by ideologically aligning himself with enemies is a crime punishable by Article 60 of the DPRK Criminal Code, vehemently condemned him as a wicked political careerist, trickster and traitor for all ages in the name of the revolution and the people and ruled that he would be sentenced to death according to it.

The decision was immediately executed.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Gifts by and for the idle rich

In Great Britain we write "pyjamas".

In the U.S.A. it is "pajamas".

The spelling is probably not important  (except that the British are correct (lol).

The word has its roots in Persia.  Wikipedia will tell you all about this.

Who wears pyjamas these days? Not many.  In fact when I moved to SRQ and spent a few nights with my pals Ben and Bruce I emerged one morning wearing them.  Ben stated that he had once seen such garments in a museum!

Ben and I apart there must be a market for pajamas in these United States.  At this time of gift giving I often hear radio advertisements from the Pajamagram Company which offers matching pajamas for all the family.

Horrors!  Who could imagine sitting down for Christmas Day breakfast with Grandma and Grampa, and Mum and Dad, and older sister, and younger brother each wearing matching jammies.

That would put me off my bacon!

What is worse is that Pajamagram company also offers matching p.j's for our cats and dogs.  See:

http://www.pajamagram.com/category/pajamas-for-family-pets.aspx

"Bloody Hell"  as we say in the U.K. -   these are products for the jaded and indolent rich. 

(And homeless children sleep under railway bridges).

Friday, 13 December 2013

Winston Churchill and false memories

From Benjamin Shwarz's review in the New York Times of  the book "The Roar of the Lion.  The untold story of Churchill's World War II speeches",  written by Richard Toye and  published by  Oxford University Press)



"The one unassailable aspect of Churchill's career up to now has been the series of speeches in the darkest days of the war,,,,,

Hisorians and commentators have long declared that these speeches (recognizable in a few key phrases - "blood, toil, tears and sweat" "their finest hour" "so much owed to so many by so few") inspired the British to hold on despite disaster and the threat of invasion, and are therefore of  world-historical significance.......

But, as Richard Toye points out in "The Roar of the Lion" nearly all the evidence supporting the speeches' decisive impact on British morale is derived from retrospective accounts   -  ( i.e " in the post war period  jmp ] and people's memories of  the myth of 1940, a myth promulgated during the war by British propaganda and advanced by Churchill and his supporters, then embraced by Britons who were no doubt  flattered by the image that it projected of them...

Toye, a professor of history at the University of Exeter, demonstrates the unreliability of such retrospective  accounts by citing people who remembered the impact of hearing Churchill on the wireless delivering his post Dunkirk speech, with the vow that Britons "shall fight on the beaches....."

Yet Churchill never did broadcast that speech; it was delivered, unrecorded, only to the House of Commons. (Churchill did make a phonograph recording of the speech - in 1949.)

Indeed, the image of Churchill inspiring a nation huddled around creaking (crackling?)  radios is fundamentally wrong - he delivered most of his speeches to Parliament".

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Source New York Times Book Review December 2nd 2013 - in a review by Benjamin Schwarz of Richard Toye's "The Roar of the Lion.  The untold story of Churchill's World War II speeches. Oxford University Press)