Thursday, 31 December 2015

Silliness, whimsy and huma for the end of one year, and the beginning of another.


"The Lantern" is a venue which  was previously known as Hall Two at the Bristol (U.K.) concert hall; the Colston Hall.

"Hall Two" has been renovated and re-named.

The Bristol Post (on line edition)  greeted this renovation with the following headline:

"Lantern aims to be Colston Hall's shinning light".

(Enjoy music, but wear your shin-pads?)



My local United States Post Office at  935 N Beneva Rd Ste 801SarasotaFL 34232 is officially designated as the GLENGARRY STATION POST OFFICE.  

It is NOWHERE near Sarasota's Glengary Street, nor is it near the town of glengarry station in ontario, Canada.

Does anyone know why my local USPO bears this name?


Aisle sign at the Winn-Dixie Supermarket (South Trail and Bahia Vista). Not one Aide would come home with me.

How many Floridians know about this Statute?   How many residents of SRQ know where this sign is posted,  (First correct answer sent to  will receive a $10 Starbucks Gift Card).


At at Parking Lot at the Publix Supermarket at Clark and Beneva, SRQ. Are the isles the grassy verges between each parking area?  Or are they the parking areas between each grassy verge?  Or did the sign-maker get in wrong and write "Isle"instead on"Aisle"?  Or do I have a silly sense of humour?


Finally: here is a lame (but cunning) jpost!

(Thank to Andrew B)

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

A visit to the United States Post Office (or "Life is so unfair")

Monday morning saw me at my local Post Office on North Beneva Road (about a mile from my home).

I had an awkward sized envelope filled with Christmas Cards which had arrived to the home of my neighbours Bert and Polly after they'd gone back to Fishers, IN  to live with their son. (Bert and Polly can no longer take care of themselves).

There were two clerks on duty. Each was attending to a customer.  There were two people in line ahead of me.

I heard some back office grumbling which led me to believe that there had been a massive failure in the scheduling of counter clerks.

This showed on the face of one of the clerks, I'll call him "Mr. I Don't Want To Be Here".

The woman clerk, having attended to her customer said, with a smile and a tone of regret, "I am sorry, I have to close down now".

Mr. I Don't Want To Be Here was doing his best to explain to a non-English speaking customer that a USPS notification that he had mail awaiting had been put into his box by mistake.

Then that surly faced (but professionally polite) clerk had to serve a woman who had two express mail letters, but who had filled in the forms incorrectly.

I was next in line.  Another clerk arrived for duty, but for reasons I cannot understand decided that he wanted Mr I Don't Want To Be Here's spot, leaving the latter to move to another desk.

I waited. There were eight or ten customers in line behind me.

Now, I am not a very patient person.  But in circumstances such as the one I am describing I've taught myself a trick.  I pretend that I am patient.

(It's called "fake it 'til you make it"  and it works).

My turn came.  Mr I Don't Want To Be Here beckoned me to his desk. I turned on my considerable *** professional charm  (but couldn't make him smile!).

As he attended to me a woman came in straight off the street, stood to my left brandishing a piece of paper and saying "I have some very disappointed grand-children".

Mr I Don't Want To Be Here responded  "you'll have to wait while I deal with this customer".

 "No" she said "I want to speak with someone in charge".  The clerk asked her to wait in line and said that when her turn came someone would help her,

She turned away and exclaimed "Oh, that's so unfair".

I didn't know whether to be mad at her, or to feel sorry for her.  I decided that discretion  would be the better part of valour, since if I had engaged her, that might have aroused the grumbling of the  eight or ten people who were already waiting patiently in line.

I wanted to say (in my best English accent)  "Madam please get a life.  I could tell you a hundred stories about how life has been truly unfair to good people, and none of them have to do with waiting patiently in line.".

 "Oh, that's so unfair".   Really?


 *** Ministers and Priests take a course in professional charm in Seminary.  It's a way of coping with the twice a year parishioner who wants to engage the Priest/Minister in a long conversation about a third cousin in Tipperary who is dealing with bunions, and why did we not pray for the cousin, when all the Minister/Priest wants to do is to remove her/his vestments, have a pee, and get a cup of coffee.

Tongue in cheek re Seminary courses,


P.S.  None of this is critical of the USPS desk clerks.  They are at the whim of their superiors, and they often have to deal with difficult or stupid customers.

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Dreadful and Delightful

When my two older sisters and their husbands visited me in November, (and used my car) they got lost more than once.

We had a standing joke about this when we were driving together.

On one journey, brother-in-law Bernard snapped some coot as the old fella was driving.  Bern put the photo' on Facebook with the caption  "I am sure this is the way to Trader Joes".

When I first saw Bern's photo' I thought "who the heck is that?.   Then I recognised my shirt, then my hat from Vietnam, then my scrawny neck.

Oh dear!

Poor old codger!

On Christmas Day I was the guest of my friends Fred and Diana for a superb buffet dinner at a Country Club on Longboat Key.

Diana thought that a photo' with "Santa" would be nice ( and when I discovered that the photo's were gratis I was more than happy to take one home).


Sunday, 27 December 2015

Sermon for Christmas Day 2015. The Revd. J. Michael Povey, at St. Boniface Church, Siesta Key, FL.


Gospel Reading:  (from the King James/Authorised translation, at my request.

Luke 2:1-20

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.
(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.


 Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, 2but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son,*whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. 3He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains* all things by his powerful word. Hebrews 1 v 1, 2

That is how the anonymous author of the letter to the Hebrews comments on the story from Luke.  This reading from Hebrews, (great as it is), is somewhat theoretical and theological. (But it is important).

By contrast, the reading from Luke is homely and concrete: It is a story of a man and woman, the birth of a baby, and the power of bureaucrats and empires.
We all understand the lives of Mary and Joseph; the birth of a child; the plight of the homeless; and the oppression of government.

We all understand this, for it is the  story of our own lives.

It is a story which many of us love.

We love it because it is familiar.  I memorized it when I was about seven years old, that’s why I asked for it to be read from the King James translation which is how I first heard it.

We love it because it is the truth. All we need to know about the mysterious and inscrutable God is revealed to us in the child who, as Luke has told us, is “a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord”.

“God from God, Light from Light” is what we sing as we make the powerful assertion that Jesus of Nazareth, born of Mary in Bethlehem is (as Bishop John Robinson put it), the human face of God.

We love it because it is entirely accessible. Not one single human being has to be a philosopher or theologian to “get it”.   

It could be told like this:

Mary and Joseph are from Wauchula in Hardee County. Their ancestors were from Arcadia in DeSoto County, where some faceless bureaucrat has ordered them to report for the census, at the decree of a “Great Big Bureaucrat” in Tallahassee.  The Shepherds live just outside Clewiston in Hendry County.

Of course the story says Nazareth and Bethlehem, with Cyrenius being the faceless bureaucrat, and August Caesar the “Great Big One”. But the truthful theme of the story is universal.

My point is that we could be:

 a Syrian Christian family in refugee camp in Jordan,

or a poor, barely literate family from Honduras who have settled in south L.A.  to protect their sons from the violence in their home country,

or a delightful young recent graduate of Wellesley College who is about to marry her fiancĂ© (he who was graduated from Amherst College)  both Summa Cum Laude;

or the good people who are here today ---- we could be any of those, and still “get it”.     We can “get” the truth of the story of the incarnation of the Word of God, because in Luke it is told in such an accessible way.

I need to “get” the story again, because “Fear Not” said the Angel.

Like the Shepherds, I am sometimes tempted to be “sore afraid”.  But because of these tiding of great joy and truth I will not allow myself to be seduced by the Carnival Barkers who pose as politicians, and who would have me be afraid of Mexicans, afraid of Muslims, afraid of refugees, afraid of Black young men, afraid of the poor, afraid of the homeless.

“Fear not” says the angel to me, and I pray in agreement, knowing that fear leads to despair, and despair leads to anger, and anger lead to hatred, and hatred lead to violence. I will not allow myself to be seduced by any words other than those which bring me “good tidings of a great joy, which shall be to all people”.

I need to "get" the story again because it says: “Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart”.  

Mary was reflective, she was not reactive.

I need to “get” this story so that my life, with Mary will be reflective and not reactive.  Since my mind can easily move from despair to joy within a matter of hours, I must learn not to react to the latest dreadful sound-bites, but with Mary to reflect, and to allow my spirit to rejoice in God my Saviour. 

I need to "get" the story again because it says :All they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds”.  

 I need to hear the shepherds again so that my life will not be governed by cynicism, but will be energized by wonder - that sense of joyful awe as it is expressed in a prayer for those who have just been baptised; a prayer which asks that we may be given “the gift of joy and wonder in all God’s works”.

With me, thank God today for this familiar, true and accessible story.  With me pray to God today to be delivered from fear, reaction and cynicism, and to live with great joy, with deep reflection, and with the gift of wonder in all God’s works.

In particular at this Christmas to be in awe at the GREAT WORK OF GOD, whose only-begotten, as Hebrews says, “is the reflection of God’s glory, and who bears the exact imprint of God’s very being”, even as we see and know it in this child in a manger.

Saturday, 26 December 2015

So silly

My friend Nancy D posted this on Facebook.

Making fun of myself!

As a left of centre liberal who tries to be culturally sensitive, this made me snort with laughter.

Boxing Day/St. Stephen's Day/My youngest sister's birthday

26th December

In countries which are part of what once was called the British Empire and Dominion, then the British Commonwealth, now "The Commonwealth of Nations" it is Boxing Day, one of the few good things the English shared with the world.  (Scotland did not observe Boxing Day until comparatively recent years).

God for ye in the Commonwealth  -  an additional public holiday after Christmas Day  -  how very smart!

St. Stephen's Day too.  An inconvenient day for a "Patronal Festival" when I was Rector at St. Stephen's, Pittsfield, MA.   But a day for a good song, especially as it is sung by the Irish Rovers.

 BEST OF ALL, December 26th is my youngest sister's birthday.   We had a good chat earlier today.

Friday, 25 December 2015

The story of "O Holy Night"

French Carol - Abolitionist anthem

I post the following just about every year in December.  I am not the author of the following ( jmp)

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


This link should send you to the wonderful Nat King Cole rendition.  (Note his marvelous diction)

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Dec 22nd - 25th

I will not be posting to "Povey Prattle" between now and Christmas Day, and maybe beyond 25th December.

Instead I will post some of my favourite Christmas music directly to  Facebook.

They  will be songs/carols/ hymns from outside of the traditional British "canon", i.e. music  from Spain, France. Germany etc.

No "Povey Prattle" for a few days, but good stuff from me  on Facebook, beginning today.

Monday, 21 December 2015

Au Revoir and Adieu

Au Revoir to Betty M.  

Her home faces mine on the other side of our street.

Betty has moved to a retirement home, way south of me on Beneva,

She is one of the most gracious and utterly happy people I have ever met.

I will miss her as an utterly delightful neighbour.

I hope to see her from time to time in her new abode.


Adieu to Bert and Polly.

I have grown to care for them in the 9 1/2  years during which I have lived in SRQ.

Their home is four doors away from mine.

Polly, in her mid 90's, has become increasingly forgetful.

Her husband Bert  ( a bit younger) has shown every sign of stress due to his extreme tiredness.

Bert and Polly have spent their summers in Indianapolis, at the homes of their daughter (and her husband); and their son (and his wife).

I have often wondered if they would be fit and able enough to return to SRQ for the winter months.

True to form, they came back to SRQ just before Thanksgiving 2015,

They came back, but it soon became clear that, despite their best intentions and efforts they were unable to take care of themselves.

That being the case, their daughter and son arranged yesterday to fly them back to Indianapolis.

Bert and Polly will spend their remaining years  in Indianapolis with their children.

That is wise, good, and inevitable.  BUT  I will never again see them.  That makes me sad. Adieu mes amis.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

More silliness - this one made me splutter with laughter! (at the Nathan Benderson Park).

I was a wee bit jaded this afternoon, so I did the right thing and took Penne for a walk.

I drove her to the Nathan Benderson Park here in SRQ.

We entered the park at the south end (off Cattlemen Road), and walked for thirty five minutes  along the nice footpaths at the south end, and a bit of the west end.

Penne loved it -  there were so many fresh smells for her enjoyment.

I took a gander at the Sarasota County bulletin board.

There were a list of rules, including this one:

Dog owners must pick up after defecating dogs.

I  hope that you find this as amusing and confusing as I did!

Saturday, 19 December 2015

More whimsy (to amuse you).

FROM THE BOOK "Black Diamonds" by Catherine Bailey (Penguin 2008 [UK]. 2014 [USA]

(More about this book later in the week, or after Christmas Day).


pp 91/2

"The Duke of Portland was one of the richest coal owners in England..  In the 1860's , when construction first began. a miner working at one of his collieries earned around 50 pounds a year..  The Duke's annual income was in the region of 108,000 pounds.  Whimsy, not wages, drove him to burrow underground; an eccentric and a recluse, he could not bear to be seen,

The Duke spent his life wandering his estate at Welbeck. Tenants,labourers and servants were forbidden to speak to him, or even to acknowledge his presence.. If they chanced upon the Duke. their instructions were to pass him by 'as they would a tree'.  The man who dared to touch is hat would be instantly dismissed.  The temptation to stare must have been strong.  Winter or summer, the Duke dressed in the same peculiar fashion.  His trousers were tied inches above the ankle with a piece of string; he wore a sable coat that touched the ground, and an old fashioned wig. On top of the wig, he wore a hat two feet high.  Rain or sunshine he carried an umbrella to hide beneath of anyone passed.  He never mingled in society, and was never seen at court.  When he drove out alone on his estate, it was alone, in a black carriage, drawn by black horses, with the blinds down.


p 123

In 1911 (or 1912) King George V and Queen Mary made a tour if the industrial north of England following the suggestion of Cosmo Gordon Lang, the Archbishop of York,

In Rotherham (Yorkshire) the Archbishop records overhearing the following conversation:

'Na then, which is t'King'.
'It's that little chap i' the front wi' a billycock hat'
'Nay, he ain't seech a fine man as Teddy [King Edward VII)'
'Well, anyway, he's gotten him a fine oopstanding wife.


That fine oopstanding wife was Princess Mary of Teck, a.k.a. Queen Mary, a.k.a. the Dowager Queen Mother.

I am old enough to remember when she was alive! We shared a birthday.

She was born on 26 May 1867 – , and died on 24 March 1953.

I was born on 26 May 1944, thus I was just short of ten years of age when she died,

We never met!! 

Friday, 18 December 2015


The other day I viewed a You Tube video of the the Basque song "Gabriel's Message" which (in English)  begins with the words "The Angel Gabriel from Heaven Came".

It's a sweet enough song,  even though it portrays Mary as a docile woman  (that she wasn't!) .

The refrain (at the end of each verse) is "Most Highly Favoured Lady: Gloria"

But one person who had viewed this Video made a comment.  He/she  was not familiar with the biblical story,

So, she/ he did not "hear"  "Most Highly Favoured Lady: Gloria"  

 Instead that You Tube viewer thought that the words were "Most Highly Flavoured Gravy: Gloria ".

I love it!!!

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Close encounters of the heart warming sort.

Ed is a a bagger at my local "Publix"  Supermarket.

He is a gentle man with "special needs".

I thanked him for bagging my groceries.

He replied "It's my pleasure".

I grinned from ear to ear because I knew that he meant what he said.  It was indeed his pleasure to bag my purchases.


I was at the Sarasota Office of the "Triple A"  (American Automobile Association) the other day, to purchase some Great Britain Pounds.

I was attended to by a genial and pleasant "Anglo" employee.

To my right an Italian speaking AAA employee was engaged in a lively conversation with an Italian customer.

Their conversation was music to my ears.

I had a vague understanding of what they were saying, but that was not the main point,

The main point was that I was excited and charmed to hear the Italian language -  surely one of the most delightful sounds for those of us who are of Western European descent ( and also for other "World Citizens" )


My Sarasota friends Ron and Charlotte stopped by last night for a snifter and some nibbles. (Our mutual friends Ben and Bob were also here). 

Ron and Charlotte rarely attend Church, but they are deeply rooted in  Christian traditions,

They are amongst the most generous, wise, thoughtful, and compassionate folks one could ever hope to meet,

Makes you think eh?  -  when we are blessed by the friendship of fabulous people who rarely attend Church.

------  of such is the Kingdom of Heaven!

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Use your minds friends! (There is no "war on Christmas". and no-one has been banned from saying "Merry Christmas".)

It's the most crazy time of the year.

Once again certain segments in the "market place of ideas" are asserting that there is a "war on Christmas".

I beg to differ and ask you to bear the following in  mind:-


Retailers love Christmas.
Supermarkets love Christmas.
Restaurateurs love Christmas.
The Entertainment Industry loves Christmas.
The Sports Industry loves Christmas.
The Advertising Conglomerates love Christmas.

---- etc., etc., etc.,

In short, if there was a war on Christmas, it would be a war against capitalism and free enterprise!


In these United State NOT ONE CHRISTIAN has been banned or barred from the free expression of her or his faith at Christmas-tide.    Every Christian in America is utterly free to attend the Church of his/her faith to celebrate the birth of Jesus.


The only time in American history when the celebration of Christmas was banned was when the sincere and godly Puritans/Calvinist CHRISTIANS  ruled the roost in Massachusetts. They were godly men and women, but they were most likely mistaken in their theology.


The origins of the supposed "War on Christmas"  are in part rooted in the anti-Semitic rantings of Henry Ford.  See the following, and then pause for thought.


RE the greeting "Merry Christmas".

There is a crazy/loony idea going around that the expression "Merry Christmas"  is verboten in modern America.  This is phony/baloney at its nonsensical peak.

If you disagree with me, please  post an attested and notarized account of any lawsuit or occasion by which an American citizen has been sanctioned/punished/censured for saying "Merry Christmas".

BUT BEFORE YOU GET THERE please note this:

I encountered my Jewish neighbours A and R as we walked out this afternoon.

I asked "How would you respond if someone or other wished you a "Merry Christmas"?

R said "I would also say Merry Christmas".

R  is a wise Jewish  woman who would respond to a Christian greeting on the basis of good neighbourliness.

Of course I added  "I would not say Merry Christmas to you, because I know that you are Jewish, and do not celebrate Christmas.

You heard it right there are some people to whom I do not say "Merry Christmas" because I try to be a good and respectful neighbour, who honours the religion/s of others.

NOTE ALSO  If business leaders instruct their employees to use generic greetings such as "Happy Holidays", or "Seasons Greetings" it is not because they are Grinches who wish to steal Christmas.  It because they are business owners with an eye to the bottom line!  They are acting as good free market capitalists.



Don't fret about a non-existent problem

Filled with the joy of the Lord, have yourself a Merry Christmas

Take yourself to Church to pray, and to give thanks for the gift of God in Jesus

Do as the bible instructs and be generous to the poor

And above all, develop a gracious spirit towards those workers (especially in "retail")  who do not participate in Christian worship, but who are glad to enjoy a brief holiday.

As you enjoy our Holy Day pray that they may indeed have a Happy Holiday!


The wise and wonderful Howard Thurman must have the last word.

Great story about a Conservative Christian

Via Religion News Service.

American Christians could take a lesson from Angela Merkel (COMMENTARY)
Guthrie Graves-Fitzsimmons | December 10, 2015 

(RNS) Time magazine’s 2015 “Person of the Year” is a self-identified conservative Christian, but not one of the many running for president of the United States. While the dynamics of faith and politics are different in Europe, German leader Angela Merkel is an example of a conservative Christian living out her faith in the public square quite differently than we see in the U.S.
Time, which calls her “Chancellor of the Free World,”  characterizes her strong leadership of economic and political crises in Europe as “no flair, no flourishes, no charisma, just a survivor’s sharp sense of power and a scientist’s devotion to data.” She may be a quantum chemist, but she’s also an Evangelical Lutheran preacher’s kid with an unwavering faith.

The chancellor has described her personal faith in several interviews. “The structure of the world relating to belief is a framework for my life that I consider very important,” she said in one. “I believe in God, and religion is also my constant companion, and has been for the whole of my life,” she told a theology student during a video interview in 2012. She kept her faith mostly quiet up until that point, which is understandable given the rising secularization of Germany.
She has held firm to her socially conservative belief that marriage is the sacred union of one man and one woman. (She has also voted against abortion rights.) But unlike conservative Christians in America, she has strongly favored anti-discrimination legislation. “Wherever we still find discrimination, we will continue to dismantle it,” she told influential YouTube star Florian Mundt.
Merkel’s faith-based leadership stands in stark contrast to her Christian conservative cousins in the United States.

Her shift on social issues has upset the more extremist faction within her Christian Democratic Union party, according to the New Republic. She angered right-wing Catholics on issues such as gay rights, abortion, stem cell research and the family. And in the process, she “opened up the prim party to other kinds of conservatives, even ones who happened to be single mothers, gay, or from another country.”
But she wasn’t named Time’s Person of the Year for her stances on domestic social issues. She received the honor, according to Time editor Nancy Gibbs, because “Merkel brandished a different set of values — humanity, generosity, tolerance — to demonstrate how Germany’s great strength could be used to save, rather than destroy.” That’s been on display nowhere more than her advocacy for religious tolerance in light of terrorism and the Syrian refugee crisis.
That advocacy is rooted in her own faith. “We all have the opportunity and the freedom to have our religion, to practice it and to believe in it,” she has said. “I would like to see more people who have the courage to say ‘I am a Christian believer,’ and more people who have the courage to enter into a dialogue.”
Religious intolerance can’t be the overwhelming guide to public policy. “Fear was never a good adviser,” she said. “Cultures that are marked by fear will not conquer their future.”
And her stance is unequivocal. “Every exclusion of Muslims in Germany, every general suspicion is forbidden,” she said recently. “We will not let ourselves be divided.” That faith sets her apart from Christian conservative politicians in the United States, where fear dominates and the worst parts of the American psyche are stoked.

She has good advice for defensive and fearful Germans who are engaging this topic: Go back to church. She suggests that in light of the debate about Islam, people return to the “tradition of attending a church service now and then, and having some biblical foundations.” She says this debate “could lead us (to) deal again with our own roots and to know them better.” That’s good advice for American Christians as well. For Americans, both constitutional and Christian foundations call for religious freedom. Going back to church would, in no uncertain terms, undermine the calls for religious vetting of immigrants.
Time has named a conservative Christian as Person of the Year, perhaps just the type that the United States and the world needs.

(Guthrie Graves-Fitzsimmons writes about faith and public policy. From 2011 to 2015, he worked at the National Immigration Forum mobilizing Christians to advocate for the value of immigrants and immigration to America. Follow him at @guthriegf)