Saturday, 8 December 2018

Friday, 7 December 2018

Seasonal Beauty

Christmas Ship sailing just off of the Oregon Coast at 

Garibaldi  (via my Face Book friend Arthur L)

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

A business sign which always warms my heart.

It's on Bee Ridge Road in Sarasota, Florida.

Why does it warm my heart?   Let me tell you. It's about a woman whose first name was Barbara.

Barbara was a member of St. Stephen's Parish in Pittsfield, MA  where I served as Rector 1984-200

Her memory is a treasure.  She was a mother by birth, adoption and fostering to scores of children, many of who would have otherwise never known fierce love.

She was a tireless worker for civil rights in the face of racism.

She was feisty.  She was funny. She was fearless.

Barbara had a will of steel and a heart of gold.

She knew how to tell me (in no uncertain terms!)  when I stepped out of line (every Rector/Vicar/Pastor needs a parishioner who has the spiritual gift of ass-kicking!).

She inspired me. Her memory is a blessing.

And that business sign?

Barbara's "married name" was Barbara Hanger.

Her "birth name" was Barbara Frye.

What a splendid coincidence.  I smile and bless God every time I see it.

Monday, 3 December 2018

** Praise in the common things of life.

**  (From the hymn "Oh for a heart to praise my God")

Just ordinary activities today.  There can be splendor in the ordinary.

Laundry/washing of course.  After all, it's Monday!

Two walks with Zion in the neighbourhood, and two at our favoured Arlington Park.

Zion to the Vet for his annual check up and some shots. He is *mostly in good health.

A Veterinary technician took him off to draw blood.  She came back and said "he is so good. I usually need someone to hold dogs and cats when I draw blood, but not with Zion. He did not fuss a bit. I will note on his chart that he is a good dog".

(We all know that!).

* Mostly, but the Veterinarian noted that he needs to lose about four pounds in weight and gave me instructions as to how to achieve this. We also talked about his scratching "issues" and hope that as I move him away from beef or chicken based kibbles and treats it will ameliorate. 

To Discovery Village  in Bradenton to visit with my friend Bob (always a pleasure) and to let Zion exercise his ministry as a therapy dog in the memory unit.  His bff Tina shed her usual tears of joy on seeing Z, who seems to know what those tears are all about.

Lunch at Millie's on Clark Road

with my friends Deb and her husband Ev.

Deb is the utterly esteemed and recently retired director of Sarasota's fabulous Circus Museum at "the Ringling".

Ev (Everett) was the beloved Rector of St. Margaret of Scotland Episcopal Church in SRQ until he retired about two years ago.

Our gathering today was one of those events that we have promised each other for a while,  and accomplished today.  We sat at table for nearly two hours (almost unheard of for lunch!) and had a sometimes lively, sometimes funny, and sometimes serious conversation. OH JOY!

"Millie's" is one of those old style breakfast and lunch joints where one can get a hearty breakfast or a healthy lunch at a decent price.  I had a tomato stuffed with chicken salad and surrounded with fresh fruit. Good!  So very good.

The waitresses ( to use an old fashioned word) are mostly middle aged women who know well the skill of taking care of diners without fussing over them: women who have honed their craft and skills.  YES and AMEN!

Praise in the common things of life.

I didn't even get a nap today!

Sunday, 2 December 2018

I am a well meaning male white liberal....

....and it doesn't help.

I've been there and done that with the best of intentions.  But it's scarcely made a thimbleful full of difference to a stinking ocean of bigotry.

Yesterday I browsed the pages of the local Episcopalian Diocesan magazine/newsletter.   The back page of the magazine bears a photo' of the Diocesan Clerics, some one hundred of them, clad in their fine array for a group photo'. Apart from the instantly recognisable Presiding Bishop, the Most Revd. Michael Curry finding back or brown face in their serried ranks is more difficult than finding that proverbial needle in ten hay stacks.

There are maybe less than a handful of black or brown skinned clerics in this Diocese, none amongst the movers and shakers. 

It reminded of the words of  C.O. a Jamaica born woman who was a member of the Vestry at St. James's in Cambridge., the only black skinned person in a Vestry of white skinned people. "Of course" she said "I know that I am a token".  We didn't like it, but she was right

 To have C.O. on the Vestry made us feel good.

 It reminded her of our unthinking but real condescension

One article in the Diocesan Magazine announced that a parish not far from Sarasota is slating a weekly (for six weeks)  programme American Racism: Yours, Mine and Ours.

Good for them of course,  or maybe not.  I can well imagine the dark skinned presenters looking out at a white skinned audience (with a sprinkling of black faces), and thinking "When will they ever learn, when will they ever learn?"  

I've been to such workshops and led some of them.  What a great accomplishment, to ace Racism 101 and feel good about it, until from deep within in my soul comes the troubling question: "When will I ever act, when will I act?"


To be well meaning may salve the conscience of white liberals, but it is inadequate.  Worse still it is delusional and dangerous.  It is like placing a band aid/plaster on the arm of a person who suffers from the ravages of cancer and thinking "that should make her/him feel better".

The cancer in the soul of America is racism.  That cancer began with the genocide of native Americans and with the enslavement of  African human cargo in slavery.

It is embodied in our woefully compromised Constitution, (the 3/5  "solution").  Anti-black racism was the fountain-head of the so-called Jim Crow laws -  De-Jure in the former Confederate States -  De-Facto in the Union States.

Abraham Lincoln emancipated Slaves.  He did not and could not emancipate white skinned people from their fear and their subsequent anger.

Their fear.  White skinned Americans are terrified that the "Blacks"  (and people of Hispanic origin) will take over - hence Senator Mitch McConnell's determination that President Barack Obama should be blocked at every turn. McConnell won.  

Post the 2018 election McConnell is already dissing the New York State Representative in Congress-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She has a suspiciously sounding Hispanic sounding name.  

Their fear and anger.  Pres. Donald J. Trump has tapped into the (white) nativist fear of "the other" (in this case people of Hispanic origin).  Hence his determination to build a wall. We all know that his wall has nothing to do with the two U.S.A borders with Canada or with the entre-ports of our many air and sea ports.

I know that in the face of this deeply rooted and systemic white supremacist racism,  being a well meaning white liberal is not enough. It is the system which needs to be changed.

Well meaning parish programmes on anti-racism are all well and good. but they can never cut the mustard.

"Racism 101" parish courses may be more harmful than good when they inoculate well meaning white liberals from endemic racism: the soul killing disease which is at the heart and centre of American political power.

I am a well meaning male white liberal.  Pshaw that's such a feeble cop out. When will I ever learn  and act?

The Racist in Chief
His ally and best buddy, the Senate Majority leader,

The essential gad fly in the new Congress. All power to her!