Saturday, 25 January 2014

Fellowship of Dog Walkers.

With the exception of a father or mother walking out with their new born infant or young child,  (or coming across Meryl Streep or Queen Elizabeth II and strolling around with her) the sure way of having conversations whilst peregrinating is to walk your dog, (or dogs).

Of course there are a few folks who studiously ignore you because they are lost in thought. Doubtless they are making plans for a human colony on Mars, or for world peace and happiness. (Do not be taken in. Some of them are thinking about Mars Bars or Whirled Peas).

Some others smile, but not at you.  They look at the dog and smile.  Dogs loved to be "smiled at", but not cats or goldfish. Those are well known facts.)

Then there are those who are desperately anxious to know the breed of your dog. This happened to me as I walked my Penne this afternoon.  I met a very pleasant woman who is in this neck of the urban sprawl to visit her sister.  She asked about Penne's heritage.  I confessed that I am  not sure but that the Sarasota County license  identified her as "terrier and retriever".

( You understand of course that the "her"  in the previous sentence refers to my dog, and not to the woman who was chatting with me.)

The woman was not content with the terrier/retriever description. She wanted to include German Shepherd as part of Penne's heritage.  Her sister demurred.

The last thing I wanted is for these sisters to fight.  So I settled it once and for all.  I said "if you truly want to know Penne's breed it is darling". They agreed.

That being said, the best fellowship is with those walkers who know and recognize Penne. She also knows and recognizes them and squeals with glee (her tail a-wagging like a helicopter rotor) as they draw near.

As for other dogs?  Penne is not very keen on fellowship with them.  In truth she disdains most of them. (I am not sure if she is scared of them, or if she is simply aloof,  in which case I will guess that she has an English aristocratic background),

But every now and then Penne gets all of a quiver when she meets other dogs.  She was positively crazy about a handsome male Shar Pei named Basil.  But Basil and his owner moved away, depriving Penne of her romantic interest.

Until now.  For two gorgeous male standard poodles have moved into the area (with their owner).  These handsome guys are named Louis and Vuitton.  This has been the cause  of  ecstasy for Penne. 

I kid you not.  Penne can scarcely contain herself when she comes across the smell of their pee.

And when Penne meets up with Louis and Vuitton as she did this afternoon -  well then she becomes happier than a thousand clams.  Penne goes nose to nose with Vuitton. She allows Louis to sniff her tail end. This indeed is sweet canine fellowship.

My dog likes strong and handsome males. I wonder where she got that from?

Friday, 24 January 2014

Thank goodness for the Revd. Andrea Taylor.

The Revd. Andrea (Andi) Taylor is a fabulous Priest in the Episcopal Church.

Her official title at St. Boniface Church (Episcopal) on Siesta Key, FL is "Associate Rector".

That's a nice enough title for those who think that titles are important.


For you see, the story is more important than the title.


Andi has been a consistent, centered, trustworthy, wise, and discreet presence at St. Boniface Church in the 32 months since our Rector for  twenty  years (Ted Copland) retired.

It's been an unusual and uncertain time in our parish life, with lots of joys and hopes, and with not a few sadnesses and disappointments. (That's normal in an Episcopal Parish after a long term tenure of a well respected Rector).

In all of this our dear and beloved Andi has been a calm, wise, centered and un-anxious leader.

Alleluia ( or words to that effect)

Thursday, 23 January 2014

What if Justin Bieber was black or hispanic?


My nephew Richard (in the U.K.)  was a bit shocked that the news of the Miami arrest of Justin Bieber was considered important enough to be part of a main B.B.C. "news" broadcast

I responded this way:
There is something dangerous in societies which promote youngsters such as Justin Bieber to "stardom", and there is something perverse when news outlets such as the BBC see fit to report on young Bieber's activities as if they were important.
I have some more comments.
Without condoning Bieber's excesses I feel so sad for him. He is caught up in an entertainment industry which is often evil, and which rarely respects true human dignity.
In this industry Bieber is nothing more than a product (to be marketed and then to be discarded).
It is also an industry which seduces teenagers such as Justin to believe that they are worthy of all manner of excesses, for example that this particular 19 year old should own a Lamborghini. That can go to a kid's head!

Bieber was charged with DUI, and with resisting arrest in Miami Beach Drag-Racing Incident.
( I am a bit confused as to why he was not also charged with underage drinking.)

He was released from jail after posting a  $2,500 bond.

LUCKILY ENOUGH  FOR  JUSTIN the scales of justice are unbalanced .

Those scales  favour  the rich and/or famous, and lead me to ask a question.

QUESTION: who in the world would believe that a nineteen year old Black or Latino kid in Miami, if charged with similar offences, would be bound over by such a small bond ($2.500), and then released?

ANSWER: only those who believe in the tooth fairy, and/or Santa Claus, and/or members and supporters of the Republican party.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Noah and Kyle - my friends in dangerous places - and a bit from the Prayer Book.

For some reason  the following words from the 1662 (or maybe 1552/1549)  English Book of Common Prayer have been in my mind all day:

"And we most humbly beseech thee, of thy goodness, O Lord, to comfort and succor and all those who, in this transitory life, are in trouble, sorrow, need, sickness, or any other adversity."

It's been many moons ago since I heard or used these old-fangled words in church. 

Yet they have been in my mind for new-fangled concerns for my friends who are in dangerous places.

There is Kyle.  I got to know him when he and his mother worked in one of our local supermarkets. They were both amongst the cheeriest and most efficient workers there.

Now Kyle is in the United States Air Force.  He is serving a six month stint in Afghanistan I worry and pray for him every day.

There is Noah.  He is the oldest child of my very good Cambridge friends Elizabeth Keller and her husband the Revd. Steve Bonsey (they - and their other children Sam, Josiah and Annie -  were part of the parish community at St. James's Episcopal Church in Porter Square, Cambridge) .

I hooked up  again with Noah, and his fiancĂ© Zehra, last year when they both lived in Tampa FL.

I hope to attend their wedding in Virginia later this year.

In the meantime Noah is enjoying his dream job as an analyst with the International Crisis Group ( )

This is a dream job which requires him to live in Beirut, Lebanon.   I worry and pray for him every day.

Back to the Prayer Book: "And we most humbly beseech thee, of thy goodness, O Lord, to comfort and succor and all those who, in this transitory life, are in trouble, sorrow, need, sickness, or any other adversity."

Please pray with me for Kyle and Noah who live and work in the shadows of  "any other adversity."


Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Silly... and Super


Cartoons from the monthly paper "Funny Times"
My Staten Island cousin Kippy's  Newfie out in the snow today

Today, from Don Morton  a Facebook friend in Fairbanks, Alaska

Monday, 20 January 2014

St Boniface Church fail --- and it's about the Revd. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, ( but it's more than about him).

Today was a national holiday in these United States, but you would scarcely know it.

Apart from the closing of Federal, State, County and City functions (e.g. all government offices closed, no delivery of mail, public schools closed) life has gone on as abnormal (although the banks have been closed  in what is the American equivalent of the British Bank Holiday).

For today has been the U.S.A. holiday known as Martin Luther King day.

MLK needs no introduction, and the creation of a national holiday in his name is laudable indeed.


1. Yesterday my  local Episcopal Parish made no mention of Dr. King, or of the ongoing  sins of racial injustice, despite the fact that we pride ourselves as being a "progressive" Church.

(Come to think of it I have never in seven years heard  any sermon at St. B's about the sin of racism, nor indeed of any sin!).

2. I have no reason to be proud. I intended to attend a MLK service at one of the Black Churches in SRQ, (Bethel CME)  yesterday afternoon  ---  but I completely forgot. 

( I tried to redeem my conscience by going to a MLK festival in Newtown (SRQ's Black area) this afternoon.) Many of my polite liberal friends say that Newtown is a dangerous area. That is pure crap. It's a great part of our City. I was glad to be there.

3. The white dominated media (Press, T.V, Internet) loves to pay homage to (quote) "the slain Civil Rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr." on this one day of the year

This amounts to no more than a tip of the hat to Martin Luther King, Jr,

( And it is all  too facile in the face of continuing racial prejudice against African Americans in the popular culture, and in governmental discrimination against blacks in States which draw "white friendly" electoral boundaries, and create barriers for blacks who wish to vote.)

4. We do well to honour Martin Luther King.  He lived and died for the sake of biblical justice. 

 But we must also remember the hundreds of thousand of blacks who were enslaved (in the North  as well as in the South) and beaten, lynched, raped, and demeaned  over the ghastly years of our history. They too must be honoured.

 ** MLK day is facile if we have no knowledge of other courageous and utterly truthful sisters and brothers who prepared his way.

** MLK  day is no more than liberal tokenism if we whites ignore the current sins of racism buried deep in our own hearts, and in our laws. .

** MLK day has so much failure about it. 

I dare you to read about these MLK precursors


Sunday, 19 January 2014

Sam who? Silly me?

At the very moment when I got to the entrance foyer at St. Boniface Church, Siesta Key, FL  for the 9:00 service this morning I realized that I had left my permanent name label in my car.

I thought "dearie, dearie me" (or words to that effect), and then decided that I would not walk the 300 yards to where my car was parked, but that I would use a temporary name label from the stash in the Church foyer.

Some of my best buddies were in the foyer.

I said (feeling unusually silly) "I think that I will make a  name tag with a false name to see if anyone  notices". (I had thought to write  name tag with the name "Horace")

But one of my foyer pals said "write Sam on your tag".

This I did.

Katie, my regular pew mate, was the first to notice my new and false moniker.  I told her that I was being silly (how unusual) and she said "I think that you look like a Sam. That would be a good name for you".

Another parishioner said (with a twinkle in his eyes) "I knew that you were being silly (wot me?) so I decided to ignore you".

At "the Peace" when we greet one another in Jesus' name I  had to explain to the young couple who were sitting behind me (they are "regulars" but we had never before met) that Sam was not my real name. They were nice to me (but maybe they thought me to be  a wee bit crazy).

Do I  look like a Sam?

I think not, but if it were true I would be honoured,

For my very best and favourite nephew is named  ......  SAM!

This morning I was merely a S(H)AM