Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The End of the Year

A week ago, on Christmas Eve, Liz and I left New York and drove to Jane and Scott's house in Vermont. We had a great time there, not least because we got to spend a good bit of time with our granddaughter Amanda. On the way home we stopped first and ahd lunch and a nice visit with Liz's brother and sister-in-law Peter and Cynthia. Afterwards we drove on down to the Berkshires and spent the night with our friends Roger and Holly, who are building a house near where Holly grew up. Finally we drove home, getting here midafternoon on Tuesday the 30th.

More to come.

Monday, December 08, 2008

The first week of December

Let's see.
Barack Obama named Hillary Clinton as his Secretary of State.
A group of former Episcopalians and others formed what they call a province of the Anglican Church in North America, but which is in fact a new denomination.
The Episcopal Bishop of Los Angeles promulgated a rite for the blessing of same sex blessings.

Closer to home:
I picked up my computer, but it has crashed again. Probably I need to have Windows reinstalled.
On Saturday evening, Liz and I went to dinner in a Venezuelan restaurant with four three generations of the family of a friend of Liz's from her Union Seminary days. It was in honor of the birthday of the friend's granddaughter. Among the party were a female same sex couple who attend another St. Mary's Church -- this one in Rockport. MA. It was fun talking to them, and I'd like to get better acquainted.
Not technically part of the first week, on December 7th at St. Mary's, the celebrant was the Rev. Patricia (Patty) Ackerman. Patty was at St. Mary's as a seminarian, and has been actively ivolved on several progressive fronts. The Gospellers were Lysander Puccio and Miguel Escobar (we hear the gospel in both English and Spanish.) The sermon was by Betty Reardon, in honor of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. During the service I counted seven known lesbian and gay people among the thirty or so people there. I think there might be others, but my gaydar isn't what it used to be. In an interesting and unplanned way, this service was St. Mary's answer to the "Duncanites."

It's Monday morning, and I'm off to the computer shop again.

Monday, November 24, 2008

My Computer

I got my computer back last Thursday, after three weeks without it. Then, the same day, it crashed again with a blue screen. I took it back to the shop and am again working with Liz's laptop, but not before I had managed to get almost all of the files I need backed up -- either on external media or on Liz's computer.

I feel curtailed in two or three ways -- first, although I now have access to my files, in order to use them effectively I would have to take over Liz's computer. Second, projects I was working on during the summer and into the fall are now at a standstill. Third, I am limited in what I can take on new. In short, I need my own computer.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Morningside Heights and Harlem Delights

From our terrace in Morningside Gardens I can see parst of Grant's Tomb, Jewish Theological Seminary, Union Theological Seminary, Corpus Chrisi Church, the Interchurch Center, Teachers College, Barnard College, Columbia University, and look across Harlem on 124th Street. Nearby, but out of sight from our apartment are Riverside Church and the Manhattan School of Music.

On Friday evening, Liz and I attended an evening of opera scenes at Manhattan School of Music (MSM). MSM does this twice a year and we have attended many times over the years. This year the theme was Opera as Politics -- the evening began with a scene from Donizetti's Maria Stuarda dramatizing the final rift between Queen Elizabeth I and Mary Suart Queen of Scots. There were several fine musical moments in the evening. I want to take note of two dramatic highlights.

I especially enjoyed an excerpt from Lehar's Die Lustige Witwe -- the end of the second act in which Hanna pretends to be engaged to Camille. I don't think I have ever scen this operetta performed in German before. The portrayal of Danilo by Chris Lucier seemed to me to be the best I have ever seen -- in part because the scene plays better, to my ears at least, in German than in English translation.

The Merry Widow was the applause machine that ended the first part; the evening ended with another applause machine -- because of its staging: the election campaign scene (Act III, Scene III) of Douglas Moore's The Ballad of Baby Doe, in which William Jennings Bryan comes to Leadville during one of his presidential campaigns. MSM cast the sole Black member of the ensemble as Bryan. It was brilliant stagecraft and musically satisfying as well.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wednesday Jury Duty

Today I started jury duty at 100 Centre Street -- the Criminal Court Building in New York City.

When I first got the summons for September 11 this year, we were planning to stay at Heart Lake for several weeks so I took advantage of an automatic deferment option. I was presented with the choice of deferring for anywhere from two to six months. I knew we would back in New York in November, so I chose to defer for two months.

The work on my dental implants is taking place only on Wednesdays, and I knew when I got the jury notice for November 12 that if I got on a case there was a likelihood that I would be tied up not only today (a Wednesday) but also next Wednesday. As it happens, I am currently part of a group undergoing voir dire on a case that is scheduled to hear evidence next Wednesday. I have an appointment next Wednesday and if I get on the jury I will have to reschedule it. I will know by the end of tomorrow whether I am on the jury or not.

Over the years, I have been on several juries -- the ones that stand out in my memory are murder, drug sales, and robbery in state criminal court and two interesting federal cases: a complaint against the City of New York and several corrections officers of assault on a prisoner and a wire fraud case (involving gold plated silver replicas of Chinese gold panda coins) before Judge Michael Mukasey.

I have also been empaneled but not selected on several cases, too. So I really don't care whether I am chosen -- on the one hand, a trial is fun, on the other hand, I have plenty to do and I don't need to be on a trial for entertainment.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Saturday Rambling Thoughts

There's lots of big news this week. And there has also been some small developments in my own life.

First, of course, is the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States. I first voted for president in 1960. The country has come an amazing distance since then. I heard one commentator mentioning the difference in perceptions between people over and under 45 -- I think the magnitude of the change resonates more for those in my generation -- the pre boomer generation who lived through the civil rights movement of the late 1950's and the 1960's.

Second, the anti equality votes for LGBT people in California and elsewhere is disappointing. The struggle continues.

Third, the vote by the Diocese of Quincy to align with the Province of the Southern Cone, while expected, is saddening.

In my own life, the most pressing matter is the death of my computer. As I noted in an earlier post, the computer failed over a week ago, on October 29. Since I have Liz's laptop to use, I took my time deciding what steps to take. I finally decided to take it to a place on Broadway near 32nd Street that offers both computer repair and data recovery services. On the repair side, they told me that the hard drive was damaged, so I asked for a quotation on data recovery. When that quote came back at $925, I realized I had some hard thinking to do.

I called the shop that sold me the computer and they tried hard to sell me a new laptop with similar power for over $1,800. I'd love to have a powerful new computer, but I don't want to spend that kind of money this year for reasons that are probably obvious to everyone. So I did a little more investigating.

I found a recommendation to remove the hard drive and put it in a USB drive enclosure, so I rushed out and bought an enclosure so that I could try to recover the data myself. Then i went to the repair shop to pick up my laptop. While I was there, the technician asked me whether I had considered repairing the computer. She said that if I provide a new hard drive, she can reinstall the operating system for $150. At the same time, she told me what kind of hard drive to buy -- and I learned that I had bought the wrong enclosure for the damaged drive.

I know I am going to go ahead, buy a new hard drive, and have the computer repaired. I am still undecided about whether to attempt data recovery myself, or simply to pay for the recovery.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Struggle Continues

Liz and I went over to vote a little after 10 am -- there was quite a line and we finally voted at about 11. I had every intention of following Tobias's Election Gospel Challenge but there were too many friends in the line for me to concentrate on reading Matthew -- I only got up to the verse where Joseph names the baby Jesus. Like Counterlight I voted for Obama, and for my State Senator, Bill Perkins, on the Working Familes line, but I did not vote for US Representative, Charlie Rangel. Instead I voted for Craig Schley -- it was a protest vote because Rangel consistently supports real estate interests over the objections of our local community.

As I heard Howard Zinn say recently, I voted for Obama -- with trepidation. He talks as if there are no poor people -- it's all about "middle class." A tax cut for everybody making less that $150,000? Come on! Last night at St. Mary's food pantry they gave out 50 packages of food in a little over an hour. Because it was the first Monday of the month, that was a low amount -- the week before, the last week of October, it was 80 packages.

Remember, whoever wins, the struggle continues.

Monday, November 03, 2008

All Saints Sunday

Yesterday at St. Mary's we had a baptism -- an interesting way to celebrate All Saints. On the first Sunday of the month, we have a custom of "Prayers for Baptismal Anniversaries, Birthdays and other special occasions." This comes before the Peace -- and yesterday it took place directly after the baptism at the font. November 2008 marks the fiftieth anniversary of my attending St. Mary's.

I don't remember which Sunday I first went there -- but I think it must have been November 16th. I met Rex late election night -- in the small hours of Wednesday, November 5, 1958, and went with him to evensong at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine on the following Sunday, November 9th. So I probably went with him to St. Mary's the Sunday after that. It's been a long time and it makes St. Mary's the second longest constant place in my life. (The first is Heart Lake in Susquehanna County Pennsylvania.)

Friday, October 31, 2008

A Tough Week

On Sunday, October 26, after Liz and I went to St. Mary's for the first time in many weeks, we drove back to Heart Lake for what was intended to be our last regular trip of the season. After conversation on Monday with our contractor, we have determined that we will make another trip (either a day trip or overnight) within the next couple of weeks.

Monday night it started to snow. We were planning to close up Tuesday anyway, and return by way of Binghamton, but weather conditions in the morning determined us to skip the Binghamton part. I drained the water and we loaded the car and were on the road before 11:30 am. The trip took eight hours (normally it takes around three hours.) I went almost direct from the car to a board meeting which lasted until 11:00 pm.

On Wednesday my computer died. Since I use a high powered laptop instead of a desktop, there are complicated issues around repair and recovery. I don't have a current backup of my data -- my backups are at least four months out of date.

Right now I am using Liz's laptop, so for current things I am ok, but I did an awful lot of data entry over the summer -- mostly family history and other genealogy data. I don't want to have to redo all of that. Also my Quicken files -- although I could reconstruct them from paper records I certainly don't want to. There are pictures, however, for which there is no backup or way to recover them except from the hard drive.

I think my problem is that Windows is corrupted, but I am not geeky enough to be able to tell. I don't want to spend hundreds of dollars for data recovery if I can do it myself, but I also don't want to risk losing my data. So I am actively researching theissue before I do anything. More later.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Home Turf

I have been seeing where the links took me. I started on Saturday at Mimi's Wounded Bird and Wednesday I ended up at JaneR's Acts of Hope. Along the way I hit several blogs that were at least somewhat familiar to me.

When I looked at JaneR's bogroll, I found myself using, for the second time in this exercise, the expression "home turf." Let me explain. I am by temperament more of a lurker thatn a participant in blog conversations. I only really started looking at blogs with any consistency during the spring and summer of 2006, in the lead up to General Convention that year. I soon zeroed in on a small set of blogs that I read faithfully -- in fact, at first only two -- Father Jake Stops The World and Of Course I Could Be Wrong. At those sites I became familiar with the comments of a numbers of people who comment, or did at that time. These folks constitute the core of what I think of as "home turf."

Some of them are listed on my blogroll, but that roll is sorely out of date. I have slowly been adjusting it, but that takes a degree of concentration and discernment that exceeds what I can muster right now.

I began this blog two years ago with a post on October 23, 2006, in which I said "Yesterday I went to my home church, St. Mary's, for the first time in more than 12 weeks." Once again, it's been twelve weeks since I have been at St. Mary's. I won't be there this Sunday either. St. Mary's is truly my home church -- I first went there 50 years ago, in 1958 -- most likely my first Sunday there was November 16, 1958 -- so I am just four weeks away from my fiftieth anniversary. The reason I won't make it to St. Mary's this Sunday is that there are strong reasons for Liz and I to remain at Heart Lake for a day longer than we had planned.

Heart Lake is also home turf to me. I was conceived within 100 yards of the desk where I am writing this. I know that, because when I came out to them in the spring of 1958, my parents, for some reason, told me. This year we have been here since the beginning of July and were planning to shut down this Saturday, October 18. As it happens, though, we are having some landscaping done and it will go on through Sunday, so we have decided to stay on until Monday morning.

Finally, Morningside Gardens and our apartment is another home turf to me. I'll be back there on Monday and will be based there for the next seven to eight months. I'm eager to be home -- and at the same time sorry to leave here.

But back to home turf on the intertubes -- that travels with me.

More links

I decided not to linger over Andrew Plus -- most of his recent posts are more serious than I want to tackle right now. So I'll move on to the blogroll. At the top is A Blogspotting Anglican Episcopalian, so I'll go there. For a change I think I'll scroll down to see who has commented on a post. The first comment I find is by The Wayward Episcopalian whom I have already visited. The next two comments (on a post about Anne Holmes Redding, the priest who has become a muslim) are from people who seem interesting in their own pright, but don't have blogs that interest me right now. Next are two comments on a post about Father Geoff Farrow -- the first is a reference to the fact that Grandmere Mimi has posted on the topic and the second is from someone without a blog.

Moving on, I find no other comments without going to "older posts", so I go over to the blogroll. The first entry is A Guy in thePew, Chuck Blanchard, whose current posts are understandably political. He picked up from another site a wonderful bumper sticker: Micah 6:8, Obama '08. On reflection, he states that he has reservations about it, for good reason, but I think that this particular bumper sticker does not point towards a theocracy. In any case, I checked out the blogroll at A Guy in the Pew and the first real bog that I had not visited in this cycle was Caught By The Light, by Richard Helmer. Richard's most recent post is a sermon from a few weeks ago, so I move on again, to Acts of Hope by JaneR. Here I am back on home turf, for reasons I'll go into in my next post.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Following the links

Sunday mornig, October 12, I was all set to continue blogging about following links. However, I got distracted into setting up "My Blog List" and "Blogs I Follow." I need to do a lot more housekeeping on the blog and I will do that over the next few weeks (or, to be honest, possibly the next few months.)

On Monday, October 13th, Liz and I went Binghamton for errands and to visit relatives. This morning, we're back at the lake with just a few more days until we have to close up for the year. But I have some time, so I'll go back to following the links.

When I left off I was looking at Noble Wolf's Blog List. The first, that is -- most recent -- entry was for Counterlight's Peculiars which i was intending to go to next anyway. I first met Counterlight at Father Jake's, before Jake stopped stopping the world. On Saturday, Counterlight had a great post called No More Martyrs on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the death of Matthew Shepherd.

Counterlight has been blogging since June of this year -- he's been commenting on other blogs for much longer. Perhaps in a later post I will linger longer over individual blogs -- today, however, I'll move on. In Counterlight's "Blog Friends and Favorite Links," the first I haven't visited recently is The Three Legged Stool --its name identifies it as Anglican. It turns out to be the blog of James, another name well know from comments on other blogs. At The Three Legged Stool, James has a post n the convention of the Diocese of Western Louisiana. In accordance with my aim here, I will move on.

Starting at the bottom of The Three Legged Stool's "Links of Interest," I find The Wayward Episcopalian -- a blog by a senior at Dartmouth College. His most recent post is on a visit of the Presiding Bishop and the Diocesan, Bishops Katharine and Gene, to the Dartmouth campus. He can be forgiven for calling Bishop Katharine "Very Reverend" rather than "Most Reverend." I move on, as usual.

At the bottom of "Episcopal Links and Blogs" at The Wayward Episcopalian, I find The Reverend Boy, another blogger known to me. I wasn't going to, but I left a comment there. And now I'll move on.

At the top of the Reverend Boy's Blogroll is Andrew Plus, the blog of a priest in the Diocese of Bethlehem, the diocese where I am physically located right now. It's getting late in the day and I'm tired, so I'll start off the next post with Andrew.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Surfing Blogs

My silence over the past few weeks does not mean that I have been hibernating. Liz and I have been busy in many spheres -- in the past two weeks we have been in New York (and St. Louis) more than we have at Heart Lake. On Thursday, we came back to Heart Lake for ten days -- the end of our season for 2008. Every day, I check a few blogs --but outside pressures have occupied me and I have not found the time to write a coherent blog post. This morning, I do have some time and I am taking a new tack -- I'm going to blog as I surf.

First, I like to check the news -- today I went to Thinking Anglicans first and found coverage of the events in the Diocese of Pittsburgh. Next I went to The Lead at Episcopal Cafe. There was coverage there of the hearings in the California Supreme Court on a church property case in the Diocese of Los Angeles. Then I checked in on Mark Harris at Preludium -- Mark seems to be marking time and has not had anything new since October 8th.

Over at Mimi's Wounded Bird I found a link to new blog called Father Geoff Farrow -- the name of its author, a courageous Roman Catholic priest in California who is defying the hierarchy and urging people to vote against Proposition 8 (which would ban gay marriage in the state.) It was this blog and its comments that inspired this post on following the links. One of the commenters on Father Geoff's blog was Michael-in-Norfolk, who has a blog of that name. Michael is a gay lawyer in Virginia who came out in mid-life. His blog has posts dating back to 2006 -- his recent posts (apart from daily"male beauty") deal mostly with politics and are anti McCain and Palin.

I decided to check out Michael's blogroll. The first link was to 1Body2Souls -A Gay Confession. This turns out to be a gay Indian man who describes himself as "living as a straight guy." He tells us that "being gay is punishable by law in India." He signs his posts Manav Desh and his blog is liberally sprinkled with pictures of guys. I found his blogroll too hard to follow so I tried the next on Michael's blog roll: Aman Yala, written by Sandouri Dean Bey(who signs himself Dean) and described as "reflections of a gay Greek-American musician in search of a hamam." The final post on this blog was dated Septemeber 27. A look at the archive list indicated that this was September 2007. I went to the comments on this last post and found the name Christopher. I thought it might be someone I recognized so I clicked on it and was led to Betwixt and Between. This is a blog I have visited before. Christopher is a gay Episcopal lay person in San Pablo, California, partnered with a German Lutheran pastor. He is a Benedictine Oblate-Novice and I have sometimes wondered if he is acquainted with Liz's (and thus my) aunt, Adele Hanson, who lives in Berkeley and is associated with a Benedictine Community in Oakland. Christopher's posts are generally llong, serious, and well thought out. His blogroll is also long and includes some blogs that have Morningsider on their rolls. He also has a section "Queer Takes" and links, for example to Boys Are Ugly But So Cute -- the personal blog of a very young man named Ryan.

For reasons I don't want to elaborate on, I decided not to follow that path any longer. I slept on it, and in the morning (Saturday the 11th) I decided to go back to Father Geoff's blog. In an open letter to his parish community Father Geoff said that he has been suspended as a priest by his bishop. When I checked, the first comment was by Brian R whose name I didn't recognize but who is gay Australian Anglican whose blog Noble Wolf has links to many of the blogs I normally read. Brian also has a post on the Last Night of The Proms which endears him to me.

I shouldn't be surprised that if I started with Wounded Bird I would end up back on home turf, so I am bowing to the inevitable. In the next installment I will visit one of the blogs on Brian's roll that is not that familiar to me (though the blogger, as a matter of fact, is familiar to me from comment threads.)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

End of Summer Thoughts

For most of the past three weeks I have unintentionally fasted from blogs. Friday morning my inbox contained the news, from Episcopal Life Daily, that the House of Bishops, meeting in Salt Lake City, had voted to depose Robert Duncan, the Bishop of Pittsburgh. This led me to check out a few of the more (Anglican) news oriented blogs -- The Lead at Episcopal Cafe, Preludium, and Thinking Anglicans. I can easily get caught up in reading about this essentially uninteresting (from one point of view) development, and I can also be tempted to write about it. But the truth is, Bishop Duncan and his followers in the Diocese of Pittsburgh are going to do whatever they do -- and the faithful Episcopalians in the diocese will do what they have to, with the aid of the rest of us and of the national church.

I am not a expert on any of the issues, but I am a reasonably well informed layperson and I know that just about every claim made about "the faith one delivered" is contestable. Similarly, just about every statement about the true nature of Anglicanism is also contestable. I am bold enough, however, to make the following observations.

First, in the 1789 Preface to the American Book of Common Prayer, the indebtedness of this Church to the Church of England is acknowledged. It is also stated that "this Church is far from intending to depart from the Church of England in any essential point of of doctrine, discipline, or worship; or further than local circumstances require. This preface has been reprinted in every successive revision of the prayer book up through the latest revision in 1979. From this, I take it that we can look at the history of the Church of England before 1789 to gain an idea of what constitutes Anglicanism.

Second, in Article Thirty Seven of the original Thirty Nine Articles, is the sentence "The Bishop of Rome hath no jurisdiction in this Realm of England." Note that the title of Article Thirty Seven is "Of the Power of the Civil Magistrates," and that it begins "The King's Majesty hath the chief power in this Realm of England." Since the articles deal elsewhere specific doctrinal issues, it's clear to me that the thrust of the sentence on the Bishop of Rome is to underline the national character of the Church of England -- the fact that it is autocephalous, if you will. And if the Church of England is autocephalous, so to is the Scottish Episcopal Church, the (US) Episcopal Church, and indeed all of the churches in the Anglican Communion.

Third, along with autocephaly, the Church of England, under Elizabeth I and her successors, exhibited both comprehensiveness and controversy. I think it's fair to say that Anglicanism characteristically treats a wide range fo theological and doctrinal differences as adiaphora -- things indifferent and not central to the faith.

Fourth, the claim of the schismatics, like Bishop Duncan, that the Episcopal Church has fallen into apostasy is just rhetoric, and warmed over, if superheated, rhetoric at that. The evidence they adduce is either a kind of inverted proof-texting from sound bites of utterances by, say, the Presiding Bishop, or the citation of various "clobber" passages from scripture. The problem is, that the issues they allege are matters for serious debate within the church, and they have prejudged the questions and avoided the debate.

Finally, as to the deposition of Bishop Duncan, I see a number of topics for consideration:
  • Deposition is merely removal from office -- namely that of Bishop of the (Episcopal) Diocese of Pittsburgh
  • "Abandoning the communion of this church" means the Episopal Church -- what some of the schismatics call, sneeringly but correctly, "the General Convention Church." It is a juridical, not necessarily a theological abandonment.
  • The canonical question as to whether the House of Bishops acted properly was resolved in the only way possible under our polity -- by a vote of the bishops. To be sure, this is a circular process, but it's the only one we have.
  • The factual question as to whether it was necessary to wait for a definitive action by Bishop Duncan was resolved, as one bishop wrote, by deciding to take Bishop Duncan at his word as to his intentions. Subsequent events demonstrate, unquestionably, that indeed he is as good as his word.
Having writtenl this, I do not know whether I will return to a fast from blogland or not.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Ho Hum

At The Lead (Episcopal Cafe) Jim Naughton references Mark Harris's piece at Preludium on the communique from the GAFCON Primates Council.

They have set up something called the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans - FCA. Now one of my ancestors, Rev. Francis Marbury, was what might be called a confessing Anglican. He was jailed in 1578 and inhibited in the 1590s for his presumption in telling off bishops. (He held the outlandish view that parish clergy should know something -- that is, be educated.) His daughter Anne married a fellow named William Hutchinson and was later thrown out of the Puritan church in Boston and exiled to Rhode Island for her teachings -- she was called an antinomian but since she left no writings it is hard to determine exactly what she taught.

Back to the FCA -- I was taught that we Episcopalians, along with other Anglicans, belong to a credal church and not a confessing church. That's part of what the Winthrop Fleet and the later English Civil War in the seventeenth century were about. It's also why there is a Scottish Episcopal Church, which with the consecration of Samuel Seabury launched the Anglican Communion.

But what does the communique (including the announcement of the FCA) really amount to? To me it seems to be simply the logical next step in a process of separation that has already begun. The self described reasserters -- the ones who define orthodox as that which has long been believed -- are going their own way and given the nature of their views it is not surprising that they want to invite others to join them. But we knew that -- we've known it for a long time.

And let's be honest -- we too are going our own way too. There is still struggle within both secular society and the church to achieve full equality -- racial equality, gender equality, sexual orientation equality. I'm much more interested in those struggles than in the internal behavior of those on the other side of those struggles. Si se puede!

So the GAFCON Primates Council issued a communique. Ho hum.


This isn't a political blog but --- . This week Liz and I watched the Democratic Convention -- the first four days we watched mostly on PBS -- we watched the roll call moment when Sheldon Silver introduced Hillary who made the dramatic motion to nake it unanmous on ABC -- because we don't have cable here at Heart Lake. Last night, however, we went to the Montrose Theater to see the last few hours of the convention on a big screen, via CSPAN.

Yesterday on Democracy Now, Ralph Nader told us what was wrong with Joe Biden (stressing a bad consumer credit law) and complained because the Democrats are not far enough to the left. An Obama presidency won't be anywhere near as satisfactory as I (and many people who think as I do) would like. That's mot a reason to vote against Obama.

Earlier this year, I was in a room with Dave McReynolds of the War Resisters league and former Socialist candidate for president (1980 and 2000) and Green Party candidate for Senator (against Schumer in 2004.) In speaking of the Democratic field, Dave said, "We can't always get what we want -- we have to take what we can get."

There are good reasons to wish Barack Obama were more progressive (I don't have a better word) but as Al Gore said last night it was wrong in 2000 to think there was no difference between the candidates and it's wrong in 2008.

President Dwight Eisenhower ( who warned us against the military industrial complex) told us that we need changes in the way we elect the president. As I recall he advocated a parliamentary system. We need ways to strengthen minor parties -- proportional voting and representation would be a good start. But for now, we have two viable candidates for President.

So last night I decided (with Liz) for the first time in my life to put a political bumper sticker on our car. We're also going to put up a lawn sign for Obama here at Heart Lake -- something we've never done.

Today on Democracy Now, actor Wendell Pierce, echoed by professor and Baptist minister Michael Eric Dyson, said in effect that Obama does not get a free pass -- we have to keep pressure on him. But first, we have to elect him.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Coming Up and Looking Around

I can hardly believe that it's been nearly three weeks since I last posted. After I returned from the trip to Maryland and my subsequent dash to New Yorkm Liz and I spent about a week getting ready for guests, then we had Jane Scott and Amanda here for five nights, followed by Liz's sister and brother-in-law, Nancy and Ross (both visits were very pleasant but they are not my present topic.) Then I went again to NYC for an overnight trip and there were things to do after I got back. At last I have a little time to come up for air -- and settle myself internally.

Last week, I wanted to post a reflection inspired by Tobias Haller's Crumbs. Inspired by a question on the House of Bishops / Deputies list, Tobias reflects on last week's Gospel – the story of the Canaanite woman who implores Jesus to heal her daughter of a demon as told in Matthew 15:22-28. Jesus says to her “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs,” and she replies “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Tobias tells us that the question on the HOB/D list was basically, “Do gay and lesbian persons really mean the same thing ‘we’ do by monogamy?”

Time overtook me in two ways -- the second and most obvious is that events
overtook me and I simply didn't have enough time to write a coherent post. The
first was that as I was writing last Sunday -- August 17 -- I suddenly realized
that it would have been Rex's 82nd birthday. That realization caused me to struggle with exactly what I was going to say -- particularly on the question raised on the HOB/D list. Rex and I were a genuine couple from the time we met in November 1958 to the time of Rex's death in February 1973. We shared a household, had somewhat commingled finances, were physically intimate, attended both church and opera together, and had many shared interests. But Rex was promiscuous - I had to content myself with the thought that he was faithful to me in his fashion. Was that monogamy in the sense that the HOB/D questioner meant it?

When I first read the question, I thought it was worthy to be included among MadPriest's Homophobic Quotes of the Day. Not knowing who asked the question, I can at least say that it is grounded in a homophobic stereotype. It's worth reading Tobias' post and the conversation in the comments -- but for my part I have to say that I do not think that sexual infidelity is necessarily destructive of a marriage (same-sex or otherwise) -- and yet sexual fidelity is the ideal to which all marriages should aspire.

That was not the reflection I had intended to write -- I was going to speak about the notion of crumbs -- but that will have to wait.

It's not even the post I intended to write when I started again this week -- that, too, will have to wait.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008


Monday & Tuesday August 4th and 5th

Whew! Or, rather, almost whew! Yesterday evening just before 7 PM Liz and I got up from the dinner table in Columbia, Maryland and drove the 259 miles from my cousin’s house back here to Heart Lake. Yahoo Maps said it would take four hours and 24 minutes and they were just about spot on – thanks be to God. Today I have to go to NYC for a meeting of the Tenant Selection Committee, which I chair. Tomorrow I return and we’ll see how long I can put off going again for the mail.

My head is swirling with impressions from the weekend. Getting to know my cousins better, going to the memorial for my aunt, looking at memorabilia, all this makes a grand mix to process.
Then there’s the return to life here and the trip to New York later today.

Yesterday the Lambeth Conference wound up. Bishop Gene celebrated the Eucharist and preached at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Glasgow. When I got up this morning I logged on to Wounded Bird – because I love Mimi and because she has near the top of her blog links to a number of sites about Lambeth. She pointed me to the story of MadPriest’s adventure – MP and fellow (or maybe genuine) Geordie TheMeThatIsMe went to Scotland to see and hear Bishop Gene.

I urge you to watch and listen to Bishop Gene’s sermon. He preached on two of the texts of the day – Jacob’s wrestle with the angel and the feeding of the five thousand – a wrestling match and a picnic. Two things he said in the sermon struck me particularly – one, as MadPriest noted, is the concept that most Christians think we are on the Selection Committee whereas we are really on the Welcoming Committee. That one was easy. The second is a little harder – speaking of the church, he pointed out that God is a welcoming committee of one, and by virtue of our baptism we are all brothers and sisters in Christ. That, too, is not a problem for me – but I do have a problem finding satisfactory words to discuss our (as Christians) welcome of those who are not baptized – for example, my cousins.

{written Monday and posted Tuesday]

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Sunday in Columbia

Yesterday there was a memorial service for my Aunt Edith in a Unitarian Universalist Church here in Camp Springs, Maryland. Liz and I had driven down on Friday from Heart Lake -- the trip took us well over five hours, Yahoo Maps said it would take four and a half hours.

We're staying with my cousin Vicki in Columbia, Maryland and will be leaving towards the end of the day to drive back to Heart Lake. My cousin Gary is also staying here -- its good to be in touch with family. Aunt Edith had six children -- her daughter Meg died in 2000 of a brain tumor -- of the five left, four are in the capitol area and have been around. My grandmother had sixteen grandchildren, fourteen of us are still alive, Gary and I were the only cousins who were able to make it.

Liz and I are missing church today for the first time in months -- this is a time when being with my secular family is more important than trying to get to a church service. Edith was a Unitarian for most of her adult life -- as a child she was baptized and confirmed in the Episcopal Church and she was married at All Saints Episcopal Church in Johnson City, New York, her home parish.

Edie's son Max worked in New York for a short time in the early 1970's and visited me and Rex at our apartment. This must have been about a year before Rex died in February, 1973. Max's brother David was seventeen and later told me that when he was coming to terms with being gay, Max had told him about Rex and me. About ten years later, David hooked up with Sergio -- they are still together after 27 years.

Digression -- I have three cousins named David and at least two of them are gay.

Anyway, it's wonderful being with my cousins on my father's side -- there's a warmth here that reminds me of my paternal grandparents house. My grandfather died when I was was fourteen,so it revives a fifty eight year old memory
Liz and I will be driving back to Heart Lake this evening.

I have to go to New York tomorrow for a meeting, then from Tuesday I'll be back at Heart Lake. Since we don't have mail forwarded, I'll have to go back to NY about once every two weeks, but on my own schedule. I can't wait.

Later this week, I'll catch up on the doings at Lambeth and in the Anglican Communion.

Friday, August 01, 2008

From Mimi's Blog "Wounded Bird"

From MadPriest...

OCICBW... got attacked by a particularly vicious troll last night. It was so bad I had to close down the comments overnight.

He seems to have got his revenge by reporting me as a spam blog to Blogger and they have blocked my blog. I have asked for reinstatement but it's taking up to a week to sort out at the moment.

Would you please notify people of this on your blog and tell them to put it on their blogs. I don't want them thinking I've done a runner or been disappeared by the Church Police.



This morning (Friday) Liz and I will be leaving Heart Lake to join some of my cousins for a memorial service for my Aunt Edith, who died two weeks ago. We will drive to Columbia, Maryland -- about a 4-1/2 hour trip, but who knows on a Friday in August -- to the home of my cousin Vicki. I don't know how many of her brothers will be there. Also my cousin Gary has floown up from Florida. The glue that holds that side of my family together is real, but not as thick as on the other side.

The last (and first) time we visited Vicki was in 2004 and we vowed then to be more in touch. I hope we can keep that promise going forward from this time.

I'll have limited, if any, internet access between now and Sunday evening.


Wednesday, July 30, 2008


From Madpriest:

I have just received the following. Please cut and paste to your own blogs.

Dear Jonathan,

It is with deep regret that I inform you of the passing of Elizabeth Kaeton's mother, Lydia.

I don't know if you have been told yet. Elizabeth will be flying directly to Massachusetts. Her mom had been ill on and off for the past year. Elizabeth has traveled up to visit her on several near death occasions. We ask all her friends for prayers.

Almighty God, Father/Mother of mercies and giver of all comfort; Deal graciously, we pray you, with all those who mourn, that casting every care of you, they may know the consolation of your love, Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

I lost my mother about 15 months ago, and even though I was expecting it and she had a full life, I had to live through the grief. Elizabeth is in my prayers.

This weekend, Liz and I are driving to Maryland to gather with some cousins for a memorial service for my Aunt Edith, who had a hard death just two weeks ago. As a child, Aunt Edith was confirmed in the Episcopal Church, and she ended her days as a Unitarian Universalist.

My grandmother wrote this verse in the back of her prayerbook, after her husband and her brothers had all died:

I should utterly have fainted, but that I believe verily to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Psalm XXVII, 15

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sunday, July 27

Here, from Walking With Integrity, is a video interviewBishop Gene gave the Washington Post. 'Nuff said.

I have mentioned that Liz and I attend the Heart Lake United Methodist Church while we are here at Heart Lake. We love the people there and in general I find the service truly worshipful. We don't get enough scripture, though -- which is a little weird, I think. This morning, we had, for the Responsive Reading, all of Psalm 111, and for the Scripture Reading, Psalm 84: 1-2 and 4-5.

Saturday afternoon we went to a service at St. Matthew's, Stevensville, the oldest Episcopal Church in the area -- it was consecrated in the 1820's by William White, the second US Episcopal Bishop, who was at the time Bishop of Pennsylvania and Presiding Bishop. The church is now under the care of St. Paul's, Montrose, and the service turned out to be a Eucharist. The celbrant was the interim at St. Paul's, Charles A. Cesaretti. I was a little surprised that there was no mention of the Lambeth Conference -- not even in the intercessions. A GoodSearch on his name shows that Fr. Cesaretti's background certainly makes him more than qualified to speak about Lambeth from a distance.

After church this morning, I caught the second half of Choral Evensong on the BBC. This week it was from Bucjfast Abbey, a Roman Catholic Benedictine Community. During the intercessions, immediately fter the prayer for Pope Benedict, there was a prayer for Archbishop Rowan and the Bishops of the Anglican Communion during the Lambeth Conference.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The holy blisful martir for to seke that hem hath holpen

In this Canterbury Tale, Bishop Gene Robinson recounts his experience making his own pilgrimage to Canterbury Cathedral while the bishops at the Lambeth Conference were off in London on Thursday. Bishop Gene was told "We can't have any photographs or film of you entering the Cathedral," he said, "because we want this to be a church for ALL people." He thinks the gentleman who made this statement was representing the Dean and Chapter.

I wonder whether the remark was caught on video. In any case, it was very foolish and is part of the general pattern of ill considered and ungenerous actions toward Bishop Gene, and indeed others, during this Lambeth Conference.

Happily for us and for him, Bishop Gene reports on other, more positive, experiences -- with bishops, clergy, and laity -- young and old.

Than longen folk to goon on pilgrimages
(And Bishops for to seken straunge strondes)
To ferne halwes couth in sondry londes;
And specially,from every shires ende
Of Anglicanlond, to Caunterbury they wende,
The holy blisful martir for to seke,
That hem hath holpen, whan that they were seke.
(Prologue to the Canterbury Tales -- modified by EAM)
The Anglican Bishops (and the the Anglican Communion as a whole) is indeed "seke" right now. The Lead quotes Bishop Catherine Roskam as saying "... I confess to you that I almost lost my temper in our Indaba session this morning when one bishop said he thought that our focus on the MDG's was a distraction from the issue of human sexuality." That quote is here on Bishop Catherine's blog (#7) on the Diocese of New York web site; the remark is a sign of the sickness of the communion.

I pray for the healing of the communion, of the church in general, of the bishops. I pray that our faithful US bishops will have strength to carry on. I pray that the dissident bishops will cease their warfare and find peace.

I pray especially for Bishop Gene and Bishop Catherine and for the other blogging bishops, for my diocesan, Bishop Mark and for Presiding Bishop Katharine. I pray for Archbishop Rowan. And I pray for Bishop Bob, Bishop Jack, Bishop John-David, Bishop Martyn, Presiding Bishop Greg, Archbishop Peter, and all other Bishops.

O God, the creator and preserver of all mankind, we humbly beseech thee for all sorts and conditions of men (and women and children); that thou wouldest be pleased to make thay ways known unto them, thy saving health unto all nations. More especially we pray for thy holy Church universal; that it may be so guided and governed by thy good Spirit, that all who profess and call themselves Christians may be led into the way of truth, and hold the faith in unity of spirit, in the bond of peace, and in righteousness of life. Finally we commend to thy fatherly [that is, parental] goodness, all those who are in anyways afflicted in mind, body, or estate; especially those Anglican Bishops whom I have named, all other Anglican Bishops, Priests, and Deacons and the entire laity, especially LGBTQ persons; that it may please thee to comfort and relieve them according to their several necessities, giving them patience under their sufferings, snd a happy issue out of all their afflictions. And this we beg for Jesus Christ's sake. Amen.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A failure to hope in Christ

Over at The Lead Jim Naughton quotes the Bishop of Central Florida's comments on Monday at the Lambeth Conference. This excerpt from Bishop Howe struck me:
I remind myself of the Archbishop's comment that, "A failure in leadership is a failure to hope in Christ."

An hour long gathering of the American Bishops in mid-afternoon was equally disappointing. Presiding Bishop Schori (sic) called us together "just to check in with each other and share any concerns." Fully two-thirds of our time was spent discussing Gene Robinson's sadness - and the injustice! - over his not being allowed to be part even of this meeting of "his own House."

(Conference organizers responded to objections that: "This is NOT a meeting of the House of Bishops; it is a gathering of American Bishops at a meeting of the Lambeth Conference, and only those invited to the Conference can be part of the gathering.")
There have been several failures of leadership -- most striking is Archbishop Rowan's treatment of the Bishop of New Hampshire.

Bishop Robinson is being shunned and banned, not for something he has done, but for something he is. That is simply wrong. And the responsibility lies not with "comference organizers" but with Rowan Williams.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Here's to you, Bishop Robinson

This morning I woke up at 5 AM with a heavy heart. Yesterday evening I had seen this post by Bishop Gene about his heavy heart as his Sunday started near, but not at, the Lambeth Conference in Canterbury. As it turned out, later on Sunday his spirits were lifted at the outdoor Eucharist sponsored by Integrity\Changing Attitudes.

I wanted to write something about it earlier, but I had to drive to New York ,this morning, and I haven't had a chance to get to the computer until now.

When I read Bishop Gene's Sunday morning post, I remembered hearing him say that he thinks we are witnessing the beginning of the end of patriarchy. His exclusion from Lambeth, and from the meeting of the Episcopal Church (USA) bishops is an instance of the kind of "power over" that characterizes patriarchy.

Bishop Gene has taken on a great responsibility -- he is bearing witness on behalf of all LGBTQ chrisitans, but especially LGBTQ Anglicans. And he is being vilified for it. Of course it is hard to bear sometimes. But, God love him, he gets up and keeps on going.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Doin' the Lambeth Walk

Well, Lambeth '08 began yesterday, so I decided to find out about "The Lambeth Walk." Here is a clip of the song as performed in New York at the Tony Awards in 1987.

For those few readers who don't know, Lambeth '08 refers to the decennial meeting of bishops in the Anglican communion -- named after Lambeth Palace, the official London residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury. The conference this year is actually being held at Canterbury and not in Lambeth. Nonetheless, it is called the Lambeth Conference. A quick Goodsearch reveals a few references to the Lambeth Walk by bloggers and journalists in connection with Archbishop Rowan or the Lambeth Conference, but I haven't spotted anyone who noted that some of the lyrics of the song seem strangely appropriate to the Anglican Circus.

Lambeth you've never seen,
The skies ain't blue, the grass ain't green.
It hasn't got the Mayfair touch,
But that don't matter very much.
We play in a different way,
Not like you but a bit more gay
And when we have a bit of fun
Oh, Boy.

Earlier this week, MadPriest ran a competition for a caption of this picture of Luiz "He looks gay" Coelho and Allie "the Episcojew" Graham, two blogging Lambeth stewards.

Here's my belated entry:
Ev'ry little Lambeth gal
With her little Lambeth pal,
You'll find 'em all doin' the Lambeth walk. Oi!

Miguel Escobar is a member of St, Mary's and is also on the Presiding Bishop's staff. He is leaving tomorrow for the Lambeth Conference where he will be working. A Google search on his full name turned up a letter he wrote to blogger Lee Davenport on behalf of Bishop Katharine. Thing is, Miguel addressed Lee, who is male, as Ms. Davenport. Here is a picture of Miguel from last year:

Here's a verse and chorus for Miguel:
Ev'rything's free and easy,
Do as you darn well pleasey,
Why don't you make your way there,
Go there, stay there,

Once you get down Lambeth way,
Ev'ry evening, ev'ry day,
You'll find yourself doin' the Lambeth walk. Oi!

And here are Bishop Robinson and Elizabeth Kaeton:

Once you get down Lambeth way,
Ev'ry evening, ev'ry day,
You'll find yourself doin' the Lambeth walk. Oi!

Anytime you're Lambeth way
Any evening, any day,
You'll find us all doin' the Lambeth walk. Oi!

Bishop Gene wasn't invited but he's there. Mother Elizabeth is there for the Episcopal Women's Caucus.

As Dogberry said, God save the Foundation!

We play in a different way,
Not like you but a bit more gay
And when we have a bit of fun
Oh, Boy.

One Week

Liz and I have just had quite a week. We went home to New York for five nights starting last Friday -- first Liz had a vestry retreat Friday evening and during the day on Saturday. Liz was also pressed into service to play the piano for the principal Eucharist on Sunday morning at St. Mary's -- which took practice time both on Friday afternoon and Saturday evening.
On Sunday afternoon we took a tour of three of the window bays at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. In the fifty years since I first went to the Cathedral, I had never climbed to the clerestory level -- in fact, I had never been on a tour at all.
On Monday we joined Liz's cousin Oliver and his wife Pat, who were here from put of town, for a visit to the American Museum of Natural History. We hadn't been there in a long time.
On Tuesday, Liz joined three of her high school classmates for lunch in Greenwich, Connecticut. I did the laundry, some shopping, and began loading the car for our return to Heart Lake Wednesday morning.
We returned here yesterday, Wednesday, basically for the remainder of the summer.

That was an exceptionally busy five days for us -- especially for Liz. Oh, and I forgot to mention that Liz developed a cough and squeezed in a doctor's visit Monday afternoon in case it was a treatable infection. It has now developed into a cold -- which I hope I do not catch.

Now that I'm back at Heart Lake, I hope to be able to turn back to blogging a bit more regularly -- and maybe I'll even be able to get some readers.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

In memoriam

Last week my aunt Edith went in hospice. Aunt Edith is my father's sister, about 4 1/2 years younger. I have spoken to two of her children, but not in a week, so I have to check for an update tomorrow.
I have also been in touch with two of my cousins, children of my father's older half brother, and I have sent an email to my Aunt Joyce, Edie's younger sister. I'm waiting to hear back from Joyce.

Just as I was typing the last sentence an email arrived from Aunt Joyce that Edie died at 3 pm today. So I'll call my cousin Vicki tomorrow.
Into your hands, O merciful Savior, we commend your servant Edith Ellen. Acknowledge, we humbly beseech you, a sheep of your own fold, a lamb of your own flock, a sinner of your own redeeming. Receive her into the arms of your mercy, into the blessed rest of everlasting peace, and into the glorious company of the saints in light. Amen.

May her soul and the souls of all the departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Finite Time

There seems to be a limit to the number of different things I can keep going at the same time. The White Queen told Alice that in her youth, by practicing for half-an-hour a day, she could sometimes believe as many as six impossible things before breakfast. Now I am neither in my youth nor is believing things – impossible or otherwise – the difficulty I face, but still ...

This morning I made a list of the things I am working on and it is fairly daunting.

My major volunteer interest is as a director at Morningside Gardens.

I have named four current intellectual interests:
Pope’s Dunciad
Literature (i.e., current reading)
But the taxonomy is idiosyncratically arbitrary. Blogging, for example, includes my current theological and biblical field reading – for example, Richard Hooker and Dominic Crossan – as well as my leftish political interests. Blogging also includes the blogs I read. I try to keep up with developments in Anglican land and with some, but not all, of the progressive Anglican blogs.

The Dunciad category shares with Blogging my current reading of Ben Jonson’s Bartholomew Fair, inspired by a recent non-wedding in Smithfield, not to mention my currently inactive Dunciad blog. Literature currently consists of Anthony Powell's A Dance to the Music of Time.

Then there are recreational pursuits. Here I chiefly name music and light fiction.

These are some of the things I do by myself -- they don't include my share of household tasks or much of my joint life with Liz. It's no wonder I make such slow progress.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Time and Again

On Sunday of this week, I posted It’s about Time – and never got to say as much about time as I had planned because I ran out of time.

As I have mentioned, I was recently reelected to the Board of Directors of my housing cooperative – Morningside Gardens in New York City. I won’t go into the politics of it, but I am currently the first Vice President and it fell to me to preside over the monthly board meeting last week. The main business of the meeting was on a topic of great interest to many of our cooperators and I found the technical and the psychological preparation for the meeting to be both demanding and time-consuming.

These days I feel pulled in several directions – in New York, I am trying to bring order to my study – a long-standing project. Then here at Heart Lake Liz and I have a project of organizing things in our cottage. When we bought the cottage in 1987 from a cousin, it was filled with the possessions of my great aunt Esther, including some family memorabilia and items of genealogical interst. Then in 1988, we were basically wiped out by a fire and so we had to start over (fortunately, most of the genealogically important material survived.) We rebuilt at a very low cost, and have gradually been making improvements. Each set of improvements has caused disruption, as things were moved around.

For example, this spring we had a lot of finishing work, including our kitchen, done by a marvelous contractor named Brad Hall. In order to do the work in the kitchen, Brad had to move everything, So now we have an improved work space with new cabinets – and we have to put everything away – in fact, we have to establish a new system of organization.– sort of like after moving.

We still haven’t recovered from the disruption made by earlier improvements – not to mention the stuff we moved here from cleaning out my mother’s house. So it’s possible we will spend a lot of time organizing while we re here to enjoy relaxing, being away from the city, and generally letting down.

I am also pulled in other directions – towards this blog, for example, and towards trying to keep up with other blogs, especially in the progressive Anglican blogosphere. Then there is my literary side – I have more or less stalled on the Alexander Pope project, though it hasn’t gone away. My reflections using the lens of Dominic Crossan’s writings have slowed down also.

People in our building in New York use several shelves in the laundry room as an informal book exchange. Recently Liz found the second and fourth movements of Anthony’ Powell’s A Dance to the Music Of Time. Each of the four movements consists of three of the twelve novels that make up the entire work. I first began reading Dance over forty years ago and read the last few novels as they first appeared in US paperback editions. I am now reading it again. The action takes place over a period of about fifty years as the narrator, Nick, goes from schooldays to early old age. Flashbacks and recollections extend the time covered to more than sixty years. It's a marvelous work and seems to fit my current mood.

That’s all for now. Next time, I'll still be on the topice of time.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

It’s about Time

I began my last post, Bartholomew Fair, four days before I finally felt it was in condition to post. In part that’s because I am quite particular in my editing of my own writing and in part because I was also doing several other things. In fact, I do a lot of multitasking. But for a number of reasons, I have not been reading blogs with my usual assiduity in the past few weeks.

The tag at the head of this blog says these are the “thoughts of a progressive Episcopalian,” And indeed that is a good description of where I am coming from, and I write fairly often on churchy topics. By the time I turned back to this blog today, it was Sunday again – LGBT Pride Sunday in New York. A few weeks ago, I thought I would march in the parade, but then Liz and I came to the conclusion that it would really be too much. A few people from St. Mary’s went – we were hit by heavy rains a couple of times this afternoon and I hope they didn’t get drenched, but I suspect they did.

The primary reason I didn’t march today is that Liz and I are going to leave for Heart Lake tomorrow morning – in fact, we would have left today, but we couldn’t get ready in time.

This past week there was something called GAFCON going on in Jerusalem. GAFCON was a meeting of a peculiar group including neo-puritans who want to refight some of the battles that took place within the Church of England after the accession of Elizabeth I in 1558 and culminated with the restoration of Charles II in 1660, but mostly characterized by syncretism - they want to raise their cultural aversion to same-sex sex to the level of Christian doctrine.
Tobias has the best comment on them that I have seen. (Well, actually Jim Naughton’s comment at Jake's place quoted from The Lead at Episcopal Cafe -- is a winner.)

I have to stop now, because I’m going to watch Inspector Lewis.


Monday, June 23, 2008

Bartholomew Fair

Alexander Pope’s 1728 Dunciad begins:

Books and the man I sing, the first who brings
The Smithfield muses to the ears of kings.

In his notes to these lines in the Dunciad Variorum, 1729, the learned Scriblerus tells us that

“Smithfield is the place where Bartholomew Fair was kept, whose Shews, Machines, and Dramatical Entertainments, formerly agreeable only to the taste of the Rabble, were, by the Hero of this Poem and others of equal Genius, brought to the Theatres of Covent-Garden, Lincolns-Inn-Fields, and the Hay-Market, to be the reigning Pleasures of the Court and Town.”

There’s quite a bit of information about Bartholomew Fair available on the internet – I don’t particularly like to do research for blog entries anywhere else. A 1614 play by Ben Jonson called Bartholomew Fair takes place at the fair and gives us a glimpse of what the fair was like about a century before Pope’s reference to it. By Jonson’s time, the fair was already centuries old. It started (according to Wikipedia) in 1133 and continued until it was suppressed in 1855, at which time the Smithfield Market was built on the site of the fair. The fair took place annually for three or more days beginning on August 24th, the Feast of St. Bartholomew, in an area adjacent to the Priory of St. Bartholomew and St. Bartholomew’s Hospital. The hospital, the priory, and the fair are all said to have been founded by Rahere, a courtier of Henry I who is reported to have had a religious conversion after the disastrous shipwreck of the White Ship in November. 1120. (The loss of the White Ship and it’s aftermath provide the historical background for Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth – a book, by the way, that I do not find compelling enough to finish.)

At the dissolution of the monasteries, much of the priory was pulled down and the hospital lost its funding. Henry VIII therefore provided the hospital with its own foundation – and it continues to this day. We know that the hospital was referred to as “Bart’s” in the nineteenth century because the noted Dr. Watson tells us that he was connected with Bart’s before his service in Afghanistan and that after he was invalided back to England, Stamford, a younger associate from his hospital days, took him back to Bart’s to meet a man who was looking for someone to share lodgings. That man was Sherlock Holmes.

Along with the hospital, two churches called St. Bartholomew’s remain from the days of the priory. St. Bartholomew the Less is located within the hospital grounds and is called “the less” to distinguish it from its larger neighbor, the Priory Church of St. Bartholomew the Great (often called Great St. Bart's) which contains the tomb of the founder, Rahere.

Recently an event involving two men less well known than Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, but this time real persons, put Great St. Bart’s in the news. That event was the blessing of a civil union of two Anglican priests (both male) that closely resembled a wedding. The news broke two weeks after the ceremony itself – here’s a link to the first mention at Thinking Anglicans and another to The Lead at Episcopal CafĂ©. Both of those sites have posted followup stories. There has also been quite a bit of comment elsewhere in the blogosphere and in the press.

In the Dunciad, Pope lamented what he saw as a decline of taste, as popular entertainment, the taste of “the rabble,” spread from Smithfield to London's West End and to Westminster. He called it “the Progress of Dulness.” These days something else is emanating from Smithfield. I am hopeful that the emblematic ceremony at Great St. Bart’s on the Feast of the Visitation will prove to be another step in the right direction for the Anglican churches – and, of course, for the Church of England.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Political Compass

The Political Compass

Economic Left/Right: -8.88
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -8.72

Thanks to Tobias (and ultimately to Mimi) I discovered The Political Compass.
I took the test and found myself way down towards the corner in the third quadrant.

Over at Mimi's, I found that I was in the company of johnnieb and pj, both of whom were at the MadPriest gathering last fall. Most of the folks were in the same quadrant, but rather closer to the origin (center.)

This was my introduction to the two-dimensional Cartesian approach to political analysis, and I am impressed by the approach. Unlike most of the tests found on websites, this one is non-trivial.

There's darn little information on the website to identify the originators -- which I think is a shame -- and also nothing to clearly identify how the center is defined. The website has a reading list of writers in each of the four quadrants -- I would like to know where each of the writers falls on the graph.

In my local situation (Morningside Gardens, my housing coop,) I am involved in governance, and thus in a political situation. I am keenly aware of the distinction between the desirable and the achievable -- and probably few of my acquaintances know just how far to the bottom left I am.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Jerusalem, dearest

Fifty years ago, I graduated from Hamilton College. Hamilton was a small school then – our class totaled about 130 men at graduation. I certainly didn’t know everybody, but I knew who everybody was – and not just for my class – we all knew who most of the other students were.

This past weekend I attended my first reunion – the fiftieth. I had given some thought to attending other reunions – and now I regret that I never did. One reason I stayed away was that I was not in a fraternity – and not by choice – nobody wanted me. I was in a select group – 10% of my class – who were so-called “independents.” It was not until I had been out of college for ten or more years that I articulated to myself the anger at Hamilton that I felt because I had not received a bid to a fraternity. I hope to reflect more on that topic later – for now I’ll turn the page.

During my fifteen years with Rex, the occasion never arose to return to College Hill -- from 1961 to 1973 I used up all of my vacation time in annual trips to Europe. Shortly after Liz and I were married in 1975 we visited upstate New York and as part of the trip we drove through the Hamilton campus. Liz tells me she doesn’t remember that quasi-visit and I have no clear memory of it myself, so that flyby visit doesn’t really count. On June 5, 2008, I returned to College Hill for the first time in fifty years. As we pulled into the parking lot beside Emerson Hall for registration, I teared up. It really was a homecoming – I’ve not finished processing the emotions I felt and still feel about the visit.

On occasion I have observed that talking about experiences and feelings is like peeling an onion all the way down to the center. In this case, I’ll start with the most recent impressions – the end of reunion weekend –and then I expect to work backwards.

Before the class dinner Saturday evening, Liz and I went to the rehearsal of the mixed voice reunion choir – the choir sang two anthems during the Service of Remembrance on Sunday morning. I never sang while I was at Hamilton – I’m really sorry, because I might have been a better singer if I had. Sunday morning after breakfast we rehearsed again, and then came the service. My uncle Chuck, class of ‘46, came up from Binghamton for a special breakfast and the memorial service, and he and Nancy came into the chapel while we were rehearsing. Liz and I went downstairs from the gallery to greet them in the brief interval between the rehearsal and the service, spoke to them again after the service, and then joined them and two of Chuck’s contemporaries for the closing lunch. We got our money’s worth at that lunch – we both ate enough for both lunch and dinner. We did not need to eat again after we got to Heart Lake.

It was fun connecting with Chuck and Nance on the campus and at the reunion. Chuck is only 12 years older than I and I have memories of him from about the time I was 5 and he was 17 – he of course remembers me from even earlier – I was his first nephew and we have always had a special tie – which has become stronger in recent years.

When we got to the chapel for our rehearsal, the Baldwin choir – named for John Baldwin, the choir director of my time – was finishing their rehearsal of music for the choral prelude to the service. Suddenly they sang Parry’s Jerusalem (the original, with Blake’s words.) My first post on this blog in November 2006 included a story about Jerusalem at St. Mary's. That song gets to me – both the tune and the hokey Blake words – replete with English nationalism and Glastonbury legend.

The Service of Remembrance was structured like a generic Protestant worship service – complete with scripture readings – the New Testament reading was from Matthew, the beatitudes (5:1 - 12) and the light of the world (5:14 - 16.) There were psalms, prayers, and a sermon by one of my classmates. The service managed to be both worshipful and almost completely devoid of explicit Christian content. The main part of the service was the reading of the names of members of the reunion classes who had died in the past five years.

After the blessing and dismissal we all sang Carissima, Hamilton’s alma mater, written by Melancthon Woolsey Stryker, class of 1872, who was a Presbyterian Minister and President of Hamilton College from 1892 to 1917. Carissima is sung to a tune by the Italian composer Fabio Campana. (Using only internet resources, I have not found any information about the tune – Campana was a composer of operas and songs and lived from 1819 to 1882.)

As we were driving to the college, I sang Carissima to Liz, then on the Hill we sang it twice – the first time was at the Annual Meeting of the Alumni Association on Saturday. Both times I was briefly moved to tears. I cry easily, but I was surprised at my reaction to Carissima. I did notice Chuck with a handkerchief at the same point I cried.

That was the first layer of the onion of feelings and impressions about my return to Hamilton.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Tiles and Open Market

Open market was defeated. Now Liz's and my attention can turn to other things.

We went to Heart Lake on Friday and found Brad and his son just wrapping up in the kitchen. We were fairly wiped out when we got there and didn't do very much Friday night -- oh, I almost forgot about the water. Brad had turned on the water for us, but had discovered that the bathtub wouldn't shut off -- and I don't have shut off valves just for the tub, so he turned the water o.ff at the tank. I took a look late Friday to see if there was anything I could do. There wasn't, so we in effect camped out, but at least we had water to fill pails. My main task Saturday was mowing the lawn -- it's a big lawn, the grass was very high -- and it took me four or more hours. After that I didn't feel like tackling the water system.

We decided to leave the tiles as they are for now -- so we have ten extra tiles.

For several reasons we did not stay at Heart Lake for the entire weekend. We drove back to NY early Sunday morning so as to get to church for the 10 AM service. Earl preached and Luis Barrios celebrated.

Now it's Tuesday so I'll post this.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Open Market and Tiles

Liz was very caught up in the campaign to defeat the proposal to go to open market pricing here at Morningside Gardens. I supported that effort, but there were a couple of reasons that I felt unable to take an active role in the campaign.

On Wednesday, the day before the vote, however, I did help in flyering one of the buildings -- I doubt whether the flyers distributed that late had much of an effect on the vote -- and they certainly didn't change the outcome.

I'm not saying what the outcome was, because I am writing this before the results have been officially released.

On Thursday evening, as I was looking at my calendar as the Personnel Committee tried to select a date for our next meeting, I realized that once again I had missed the Wednesday night Bible study.

This morning, Liz and I are going to Heart Lake for part of the Memorial Day weekend. We have not yet decided when we will return, but it will probably be on Monday -- in part it depends on what we find there and in part on how anxious we are to get back home.

The campaign against open market pricing has had a significant effect on our domestic life -- things have bee n put of that we are eager to get back to. Also, we are leaving for Vermont and then Hamilton in just over a week, so there is pressure to be here in New York and not off in the country.

We have been having work done at the cottage. One of the biggest pieces was tiling the kitchen -- we used tles that had been left over from our kitchen at home. There is no clear demarcation between the kitchen and a downstairs study, but we want one more row of tiles to make the kitchen area a lttle larger. Both on Monday and yesterday, we went looking for more tiles that would blend in with those already on the floor. Finally, we found some and we will be taking them with us for the contractor to use in the next few weeks.

I have no idea what state the kitchen will be in when we get there -- we expect it at least to be usable for cooking -- and we will probably be able to start putting things away -- that is, if the countertops are installed. We'll see.

I'm posting this even though i have more to say.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Trinity Eve

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I was running for the Board of Directors here at Morningside Gardens. Well, I was elected as I foresaw and there was also an effort on the part of some board members to persuade me to run for president of the coop. Luckily for me, there weren't enough votes to elect me, so I escaped. I was nominated at the organizational meeting, but I declined. If it had come toa vote and if I had voted for myself the result would have been a five-five tie, which would have launched the year on a note that I think would have been singularly unfortunate.

In addition to real life, which we have had a little time for, Liz and I have been very engaged in the current debate here at Morningside Gardens over open market pricing. I hope it is voted down and I have been helping those who are actively campaigning for its defeat. I have not felt able to actually campaign publicly against it myself -- for a number of reasons I won't go into here. But my opposition is no secret.

The engagement with Morningside Gardens affairs has been enormously absorbing and even distracting. For example, this past Wednesday I completely forgot to go to the next to last session of a Bible study series using Crossan's God and Empire as a basis. Oh well, there's one more session -- I hope nothing keeps me from that.

My 50th college reunion is coming up in three weeks. Liz and I are going to Vermont to visit Amanda and her parents Jane and Scott at the beginning of that week and then we'll drive to Clinton on the Thursday for the reunion.

I think I have only been on campus once since 1958, and that was only to drive through without stopping shortly after Liz and I were married. My memories of college life are not entirely happy -- but I am glad to be going back this year. So far, none my particular friends from that time have indicated they will be there --- I haven't kept up with anyone, so I have to check the alumni web pages to see who's coming. Anyway, it will be interesting.

Also this spring, Liz and I are having work done on our Heart Lake cottage kitchen, and we have visited the cottage twice -- each time was a day trip. We'll have to get up there next week to mow the lawn.

Friday, April 25, 2008


The April editon of Focus at Episcopal Life Online includes a segment on St' Mary's and friends chanting the Great Litany in Procession at the Isiah Wall in Ralph Bunche Park across from the UN. Thanks to Father Jake for pointing to this. The procession shown in the segment was on the fourth Friday in Lent, when I was unable to join them. (Liz and I were in Vermont, visiting Jane, Scott and Amanda.) Several persons I have mentioned on this blog can be seen in the video including of course our rector, Earl Kooperkamp. The thurifer was Miguel, the crucifer was Sarah, the cantor was Ishmael, and there is also a good shot of Janet.
Janet and Ishmael (and Earl) can also be seen in the photo I posted here from the fifth Friday.

Monday, April 21, 2008


Today was my 72nd birthday. I had a Finance Committee meeting at St. Mary’s at 10 AM. Then Liz and I went to the 1 PM showing of Body of War in Greenwich Village. That was the extent of the celebration.

It’s been a while since I posted anything here. Just for my own sake, I’ve decided to try to account for that.

The first and short answer is that I have been filling my free time reading – and doing light reading at that. I have just finished rereading most of the Orson Scott Card’s Ender and Ender Universe stories – I lost my copy of Children of the Mind in a copy store last week and have ordered a used copy from Now I am reading Martha Gtrimes’ latest, Dakota. And still waiting is Robert B. Parker’s Stranger in Paradise. I’ll soon be saturated and sated with light fiction.

A good deal of my attention has been devoted to matters here at Morningside Gardens where I live. We are preparing for a vote in May as to whether we will cease being a voluntarily limited equity cooperative and simply go to open market pricing. My own position is complicated – I don’t want to go to open market, but I have worked hard on the required amendments to our bylaws and lease to bring us to open market. At the same time, Liz is actively campaigning for a NO vote.

I am also running for the board of directors here. If I am elected it will be the sixth time I have served on the board. There are ten candidates for four spots and I have no idea what my chances are.

So Morningside Gardens and light fiction have occupied far too much of my attention recently. And if I am elected to the board, Morningside Gardens will continue to occupy much of my attention. Many people want me to be president of the coop again – I have already been president twice before. I have said – and I mean it – that I am not running to be president. We have a president who has strengths that I do not have and I am not going to challenge her. But if a sufficient number of board members want to replace her, and if I am indeed elected to the board, then it’s possible that I will be “drafted.” I have no idea whether that is likely or not. I do know that if the board does elect me as president, then I will have to devote a lot of time to the job. Last time I was president I carried much of the burden alone and made some decisions that I later regretted – but I’ve already said enough about Morningside Gardens.

Late last summer I decided to publish on the web my Master’s Essay on Alexander Pope’s 1728 Dunciad. I have moved that project to a back burner for a number of reasons, but it is still bubbling along quietly.

Meanwhile, I’ve been steadily reading the major works of John Dominic Crossan. Here at last I have found a way to read scripture that is both intelligent and faithful. Right now I am somewhere in The Birth of Christianity. It’s slow going, because Crossan makes his argument both carefully and thoroughly.

So for all of these reasons and maybe more I’ve slacked off on blog reading, and on blog posting. I’ll get back to it though.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Bob Castle

I learned this evening that there was a video of Bob Castle on YouTube:

Monday, March 31, 2008

Not so Low Sunday

Yesterday morning at St. Mary’s, Manhattanville, we were joined by friends old and new. I’ll just mention three with national reputations.

First, the Gospeller was the Rev. Patricia (Patty) Ackerman, who was at St. Mary’s as a seminarian in 1991 when our Rector was arrested for sitting in at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Patty has been active in Integrity, Code Pink, and the Fellowship of Reconciliation. She can be seen with Cindy Sheehan here.

Then the sermon was given by our former rector, the Rev. Robert (Cousin Bobby) Castle. Bobby’s cousin Jonathan Demme, the film director, was in the congregation. Bob Castle has appeared in several movies directed by his cousin, including an uncredited appearance at the end of The Silence of the Lambs.

Bob’s sermon was in large part about the evils of the wars the US is involved in. He lives now in northern Vermont and serves four small churches in the Diocese of Quebec where they pray for the Queen. The withdrawal of Prince Harry from Afghanistan led him to note that every soldier is a prince or princess in their own family and every prince and every princess deserves to come home to be taken out of harm’s way.

Bob spoke about his love for the Episcopal Church and its support both of women and of gay and lesbian people. He also had kind words for the United Church of Christ, home to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

At the end of his sermon Bob reminded us that Jesus is alive (Christ is arisen!) And that we Episcopalians can learn from our evangelical and pentecostal brothers and sisters how to live with an awareness of the closeness of God.

After church I was talking with a friend who works at 815. Speaking about recent and future events in the Episcopal Church I said that one of the problems of people on our side is that many of us are too nice to the opposition. My friend knew exactly what I meant and said Bishop Katharine does not have that fault. Let the church say "Amen1"

Friday, March 28, 2008

Here Come Da Judge

This past Tuesday, the adoption of our granddaughter Amanda was completed. As you can see, Amanda was in charge.

Here is the happy family, Scott, Jane, and Amanda:

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Five Years of Praying for Peace

Every Lent for the past five years, some of us at St. Mary's, Manhattanville, along with some of our friends, have been singing the Great Litany in procession at the Isaiah Wall in Ralph Bunche Park opposite the United Nations. We are praying for an end to the war in Iraq. This year we did it on the two Fridays preceding Holy Week, and also on Wednesday in Holy Week, the fifth anniversary of the invasion.

The Episcopal Church: Praying for Peace Since 1789
The picture shows most of us who processed on March 14, with a banner which we hung on the fence while we processed. The banner was made by Nathanael Kooperkamp, the son of our rector Earl Kooperkamp, and says "The Episcopal Church: Praying for Peace Since 1789." I don't know the names of three of the people in the picture, so I won't identify anyone except me -- I'm the guy in the brown jacket standing next to the banner.

I was not able to get to the procession on either March 7 or March 19. Today is Holy Saturday and I hope to observe it by joining at noon in River to River -- people joining hands across 14th Street to protest the Iraq war.

Forty years ago the United States was engaged in another war -- in Vietnam. I was not politically conscious then. At St. Mary's we talked about the civil rights movement, but we didn't talk about the war.

I was very interested in what was going on at the Metroplitan Opera. For example, on April 1, 1967, the Met broadcast the new opera "Mourning Becomes Electra;" on April 4, Martin Luther King delivered his speech "A Time to Break Silence" at Riverside Church. I was excited by the opera and completely unconscious of the speech.

Even the events of the spring of 1968 didn't wake me up. I was shocked by the assassinations of Martin Luther King on April 4, 1968 and of Robert F. Kennedy on June 6 the same year. But while I remained strongly stirred by the civil rights movements, I still held to the unexamined belief that we live in a good country. We don't do bad things. We don't engage in unjust wars. So the war could not be a wrong thing. I don't think like that any more.


St. Mary's is a small church and we haven't done a full fledged Easter Vigil in a few years. But we will do a vigil at 6 AM on Easter, complete with new fire, Exsultet, and Paschal candle. I'm going to try to be there.

The peace of the Lord be always with you.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday

When I first started going to St. Mary’s, Manhattanville, we did not have a three hour service on Good Friday. Rex and I used to go to one of the larger churches in Manhattan to hear some outstanding preaching of the passion.

Then, around 1970, we started doing the three hours at St. Mary’s, usually with meditations by several persons. On three or four Good Friday’s in the past four decades I have given one of the meditations. This afternoon, Liz will be giving a meditation. I’m looking forward to it.

For many years, both Liz and I sang in the choir at St. Mary’s. This year we have been recruited to assist in singing Randall Thompson’s Alleluia on Easter. On both Wednesday and Thursday we were there for rehearsals preceding the Tenebrae and Maundy Thursday services, and we added our voices to the choir for those services (in which the choir didn’t vest but sat in the congregation.)

I read at both services. At Tenebrae on Wednesday I read from “The Treatise of Saint Augustine the Bishop on the Psalms” and at the Eucharist on Maundy Thursday I read the lesson from Exodus. I am not a great fan of foot washing. Since we have begun doing the foot washing ceremony at St. Mary’s, I have had various responses. Some years I enter into it – other years I sit it out. This happened to be a year that I sat it out. I think part of my problem with it is that in a culture and at a time of year when everyone wears shoes – it being too cold for sandals or flip flops – the artificiality of foot washing overrides the symbolism, so it just seems strange.

As I mentioned on Palm Sunday, I have been doing a lot of reading in the works of John Dominic Crossan. Following Crossan (and many other Christian scholars and theologians), I fully believe that it is a mistake to read the passion narratives as history. They are stories that contain truth – not historical truth but truth nonetheless. I pity people whose faith is so weak that they have to believe in the literal truth of the Bible.

Was there a man called Jesus? Yes. Was he executed under Pontius Pilate? Yes. Do we know the particulars of his arrest? No. Was there a trial? It’s not likely. Was he crucified? Almost certainly. How was he buried? Most likely not in a new tomb; perhaps not at all.

What about the resurrection? Historically, we have no idea . We do have the testimony of Paul that Jesus appeared, first to others and then to him. As a Christian, I believe in the resurrection, not as a metaphor but as something that was actually experienced by the first Christians. But that is a topic for Easter. Today is the day we re-experience the tremendous loss when Jesus was taken from us, humiliated, tortured, and brutally killed.

Ah! Holy Jesus. How hast thou offended?