Sunday, August 29, 2010

End of Summer Thoughts

Here at Heart Lake as I sit at my computer and look out at the lake, while I listen to "Discovering Music" on BBC Radio 3 (a program about Brahms' Violin Concerto,) my mind is full of a number of apparently disparate topics. Sunday morning Liz and I went, as we usually do when we are here in the summer, to the Heart Lake United Methodist Church. This small church is currently in financial trouble and its future is uncertain. We are hanging in there with the active congregation -- a little over a dozen people. The situation at that church is very much on my mind, although in fact it is peripheral to my major concerns.

Thinking about the church here at Heart Lake, by an obvious connection of ideas, puts me in mind of the situation at St. Mary's. I took a break from the active treasurership for the month of August -- and indeed I won't piuck it up again in earnest until after Labor Day. Even then, I'll be pretty much an absentee treasurer until sometime in October.

Another obvious connection of ideas brings me to the wider Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. I am somewhat, that is, slightly, less addicted tyo reading all of the blog commentary on Anglican doings than I was, say a year or more ago -- but I still follow with bemusement the oddball antics of certain Anglican prelates with regard to the wedge issue of saem sex relationships.

On Sunday afternoon we attended a concert at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Montrose. During this past year, St. Paul's called as its rector the Rev. Paul Walker, whose life partner, the Rev. Randy Lee Webster is serving St. Mark's Church in New Milford and Christ Church is Susquehanna. I mentioned a few weks ago that we had met Randy Webster at a Saturday afternnon concert in Susquehanna. I'm impressed, anda little surprised , that the Episcopal Churches in upper Susquehanna County are welcoming and affirming. St. Paul's has a formal statement to that effect -- I don't know about the other two churches, but they are certainly welcoming and affirming in practice. (As, I may add, is St. Mary's, which does not yet have a formal public statement to that effect, despite our history of having gay and lesbian clergy, wardens, vestry members, and ordinary congregants.)

Two of the newer congregants at St. Mary's are Tom Cahill and Joel Kovel. I don't know Tom except to exchange the peace with, and he doesn't attend as often as Liz and I do when we are at home, so it will take a while to get to know him. Currently, I am reading the second of his Hinges of History books, The Gifts of the Jews. I know that sometime this past year I began Desire of the Everlasting Hills, but I don't think I finished it. Part of my problem is that I try to keep too many books going at the same time.

I do know Joel Kovel a little better. He has been going to our Celtic Morning Prayer held in the Lampman Chapel at Union Theological Seminary every weekday morning. (Liz and I started going only last November, but we find it a good way to start the day.) We are slowly reading ,out lous, Joel's book, The Enemy of Nature. It's a little tough going. Although I call myself a socialist, and having been going to the Socialist Scholars Conference and its successor the Left Forum for about twenty years, I am not well grounded in Marxist or other socialist thought, and I don't know enough to be able to fuuly understand the technical critique of capitalism that Joel makes, nor the concommitant argument that eco-socialism is the only viable choice. Both in The Enemy of Nature, and in statements made very recently, Joel has acknowledged the difficulty of overcoming capitalism and replacing it with a system with an ecocentric ethic. A major part of the difficulty, I would say, is persuading people that capitalism is in fact the enemy of nature and needs to be overcome.

Joel Kovel is about four months younger than I and his intellectual achievements leave me awestruck and more than a little regretful that I did not pursue my original desire to become an academic. I am also impressed by his activism -- mine amounts to attending the odd march or rally and making relatively small financial contributions to causes I find worthy.

I am, to be sure, being selectively unfair to myself here. Over the past thirty years, I have devoted quite a bit of energy to the governance of Morningside Gardens, the housing coop where we live and over the past forty years or so I have devoted energy to the lay leadership of St. Mary's Church.

I'll sign off here.

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