Saturday, September 15, 2007

Hand me that whip!

Cleansing the Temple by El Greco
Don't we all just want to be the one with the whip in hands, driving out God's enemies, who just happen to be our enemies? God does share our list, no?

The story of Jesus cleansing the Temple presents us with powerful and appealing imagery. The drama sparks and crackles with tension. Every conflict Jesus has had with authorities throughout his life hovers in the background now. We know those in power are just waiting for that one egregious slip that will yield the troublemaker up to their righteous judgment.

He, meanwhile, does some judging of his own, striking at the heart of national piety and calling into question all our systems of approaching (and managing) God. Listeners to the Gospel cannot help identifying with Jesus, yearning to cheer as he purifies God's house, driving all manner of evildoers from the Temple.

[Cue the Mikado.]

Don't we all have a little list? Those we consider to be the stumblingblocks to legitimate desires for holiness? Those who pollute holy places? Those who set up barriers to God? Those who pervert the Gospel? Those who get it all wrong and, in turn, lead others astray? Those who set up stumblingblocks? Those who come as angels of light but are, instead, agents of the enemy of souls? The wicked. The sinners. The ungodly. Those we could so easily and happily do without?

Unfortunately, no matter how appealing the tale of temple cleansing may be, Jesus had this other story--you know, the one about tares and wheat. Well, darnel. Anyway....

It seems we are to leave weed-pulling and whip-wielding and all that other righteous discernment stuff to God.

And just what part of "leave it to God" is unclear?


So, while fulminators fulminate and all manner of weeping, wailing, hand-wringing, gnashing of teeth, shouts, and enough anxiety to make the Theotokos break out into a flop sweat swirls about us...

How about we take a deep breath





Whether the Anglican Communion survives is surely more a matter of the Holy Spirit's gracious persistence and our cooperation, in the long run, with said Spirit, than it is of any individuals or groups having their way.







[And, by the way, if you find your voice rising in decibels, it is definitely time to STFU.]

I don't care which end of which spectrum you are on, or where you are in the middle. Jesus is perfectly capable of whipping our sinful asses and I suggest we leave it to him.

Just saying.
--the BB

Ode to bloodthirsty chickenhawks

Adolph Gottlieb, Blast I, 1957
Glenn Greenwald has a gift for naming what is amid all the illusions, distortions, misdirections, obfuscations, and outright lies. Time and again he helps us all call a spade a damned shovel.

He wrote today at Salon of those lovers of war, the Kagans.
If troops want more time at home, [Fred] Kagan says, there is an easy way to achieve that: "win the war we're fighting." Of course, that would not even work, because Kagan and his friends at the Weekly Standard and the American Enterprise Institute have many more wars planned beyond Iraq for other families' sons and daughters to fight. For that reason, Kagan actually had the audacity several months ago to type this:
The president must issue a personal call for young Americans to volunteer to fight in the decisive conflict of this generation.
That's the history of our country for the last six years at least. The Fred Kagans and his dad and his brother and his wife and his best friend Bill Kristol sit back casually demanding more wars, demanding that our troops be denied any relief, demanding that the President call for other families to volunteer to fight in their wars -- all "as an intellectual or emotional exercise," as Webb put it. [Emphasis mine]

Some commentary from Wilfrid Owen of an earlier war:
Nevertheless, except you share
With them in hell the sorrowful dark of hell,
Whose world is but the trembling of a flare,
And heaven but as the highway for a shell,

You shall not hear their mirth:
You shall not come to think them well content
By any jest of mine. These men are worth
Your tears. You are not worth their merriment.
--Apologia Pro Poemate Meo (November 1917)

Just saying.

Laurence Binyon's 1914 poem "For the Fallen" heads today's I Got The News Today posting at DailyKos, honoring more of our precious troops. It is to weep.

Memory eternal.

--the BB

So, what is the Anglican Communion all about?

God's loving embrace, that's what.

Photo of my dear friend JoAnne Bennett the day she was ordained a priest by the Rt Rev Wm E Swing in Grace Cathedral, San Francisco.

All the rest, my friends, is commentary. Or irrelevant.

--the BB

The National Hispanic Cultural Center

La Santa Familia from the Permanent Collection
(I did not see the date or artist's name on the website;
if anyone can provide the information I will happily credit.)

I often let photos I have taken inspire postings here. Such is the case this evening, though the first three photos are from the website and not my own.

One of the treasures here in Albuquerque is the National Hispanic Cultural Center at 4th and Avenida César Chávez. I remember visiting there when it was quite new and being ensorceled, even if there was no current exhibit. I got to see items from the permanent collection and stroll around as though I had the whole place to myself.

We won't mention how I got totally turned around and confused north and south that day. The moral of the story, for me, is that when looking at a map the map must be oriented to the land itself, with north pointed north. Do not, under any circumstances put a map on a table in front of me with north pointing south or east or west. If you do, I will have my internal compass out of whack.

That was when I was playing tourist here. Over time I have become oriented to the Sandias in the east and thus can always tell at least that much. When mountains rise abruptly some five thousand feet at the edge of town it's hard to miss them.
Working on the mural in the Torreón
Well, back to the Center. In addition to the museum they also have a center for the performing arts with theatre for performances, rehearsal halls, an auditorium for lectures and presentations, and a film theatre. They have the Spanish Resource Center and the Instituto Cervantes; La Fonda del Bosque Restaurant (pleasant atmosphere and delicious food, I can attest). La Tiendita gift shop has all sorts of goodies and pleasant staff.

I enjoy the permanent collection and the changing exhibits are fascinating and educational. Not so long ago friends and I caught "The African Presence in Mexico," an illuminating exhibit on the neglected "third root" of modern Mexican culture. The next exhibit features Mayan textile art (see below) and opens September 28.
Just wow!
I have been there when the Plaza Mayor was jammed with throngs of people (Children's Day) and when I was practically alone. Always great energy, though very different.
It was a late winter afternoon the first time I visited and the light as I exited caught the Torreón and made it glow against the sky. I am afraid my photo gets some of the drama but not the intensity of colors.
The Plaza Mayor echoes the great pyramids of Meso-America. The aesthetic beauty of it all was stunning though I also had the uneasy feeling that heartless bodies could come tumbling down at any minute. I think the architecture is great.
Isn't this a lovely spot in between the museum and office on the one hand and the performing arts center on the other? The light at that time was magical and I encourage you to click and enlarge this shot. Not bragging on my photos but on what I was privileged to see.
And oh! the cottonwoods in the courtyard--majestic, ¿que no?

How did you guess that I signed up to become a foundation member? Well, I just want to share a local treasure with a larger audience. If you ever come to ABQ, perhaps I can take you there for a visit.

Nos vemos.
--the BB

Friday, September 14, 2007

Michael Ware of CNN lays it all out

For all the talk about listening to the generals on the ground (which Bush never does, he just fires the ones who disagree and looks for yes-men), what might we learn from a reporter on the ground, someone who's spent a lot of time in Iraq and has a better sense of what's going on than DC pundits and WH toadies?

Well, here is CNN's Michael Ware talking to Anderson Cooper.

Thanks to Hoffmania, from which I snaffled this.

I weary of the lying weasel in the Oval Office. Worse than weariness is grief over the damage done to our country, the needless slaughter of our fighting men and women, the callous indifference shown as our infrastructure deteriorates, our cities perish, our land is poisoned, our people suffer and die at the hands of insurance companies (if they have insurance), the global situation becomes increasingly parlous, and the America of which I have been so proud now stands among the nations a thing of disappointment, pity, and moral revulsion.

Dammit, Americans, take your country back!

And Democrats in Congress, for the sake of all that is holy regrow your spines. Don't give that spoiled dry drunk fratboy an inch. Stand up for the Constitution. Stand up for America. Stand up for this fragile world. Stand up for our troops. Stand up for future generations. I am tired of watching y'all drop trou (or hoist skirt) and bend over for that son of a bitch.

There, I said it. I mean it.

Bring back leadership.

And bring back America.

I miss it.

You can hear more of Michael Ware at Crooks and Liars:
…if the President means by ordinary lives families essentially living locked up in their homes in almost perpetual darkness, without refrigeration or perhaps constantly struggling for ever more expensive gas to run generators, if he means waiting in their homes wondering if government death squads will drag them off and torture them and execute them, if he means living in sectarian cleansed neighborhoods where people who were your friends have had to flee, if he’s talking about living in communities that are protected by militias, then yeah, life’s returned to ordinary.

--the BB

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

I like this part of the world

Another picture from a year ago, taken near my current home (Desert Farne: no alisos in this neighborhood).

Speaking of St Cyprian's Day, which it will be in this time zone in less than twenty minutes, Happy Birthday to Darren Boghosian!
--the BB

Calling all New Mexico botanists!

The photo above is a bit out of focus (I believe the wind was blowing as I took it). You may click on it to enlarge. I took this photo on St Cyprian's Day last year: September 13, 2006.

These flowering plants appear to grow wild and I like the pale orange blossoms but I have not seen a photo in any field guide that strikes me as this plant. Can someone tell me what it is?

Thanks in advance.
--the BB

The inner tree

Alnus rhombifolia, methinks

When I moved to my previous home in Hercules, California, there were lots of alder trees in the condo complex. This included several right in front of my unit. I lived on the upper floor and looked out into lovely branches and foliage, as though I dwelt in a tree house.

I recognized alder trees because there lots of them near my dorm at UCLA back in the early 70s. Given the botanic garden just downhill from the dorm, we were treated to labels of the flora on campus. I rather took it as a sign that I should live there. I loved the trees, I talked to the trees, I prayed with the trees.
April 2002 was when I moved in. How I reveled in those trees. I even named my home "Los Alisos" (Spanish for "the Alders").

The following January I spent the night at a friend's house and came home the next day to see my beloved trees cut to the ground. There had been no prior warning. All I had were stumps and those were removed fairly quickly. (I was able to salvage one slice of one tree.)


I smudged the wounds in the earth where the trees had once been and sprinkled the spot with tobacco. (I don't smoke; it is for offerings to the seven directions and to the earth when I harvest.) I mourned.

Fortunately it was a period when I had been reading Buddhist materials and I was very conscious of the impermanence of all things. Lesson brought home, eh?

I concluded that the trees had blessed me for a while and that now it was time for me to cultivate my inner alder, the well-rooted and grace-bestowing tree within me.

While browsing photos on my computer I came across the ones above and thought it must be time to share this.

May your inner trees flourish and give fruit and shade to those around you.

Happy New Year!
--the BB

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Speaking of cats, bears, trees, etc.

There is a lovely post at JN1034 titled Orthodox Prayer for Creatures and Creation. The folks there have begun the new Orthodox ecclesiastical year with a nice emphasis on creation. If you don't know that site, it has lots of interesting posts and link to tons of Orthodox resources.

O God, you are the Giver of all life, the One who has called creatures and all creation into being according to Your love, reflecting your own image, your own breath of life, your own Spirit.

If it's September, it must be the Forest Service

Looking into the crater of Broken Top, (Elev. 9165’),
high in the Three Sisters Wilderness Area.

Photographer: Leland J. Prater
Courtesy of the US Forest Service

Posting was light last week (and may continue to be) since I began work as a consultant at the Albuquerque Service Center of the Forest Service. This is the third year in a row I have begun a temporary consulting job there. Maybe this time around I will be able to land something permanent. I do enjoy the people and the commute is fine. I especially love the physical environment, the architecture and landscaping around the Journal Center here in Albuquerque. The little vignette of the San Francisco Building currently in the top right of this blog is one shot I took of the building where I am working once more.

I like to think of it was working for Smoky. He and I come from the same era and Smoky Bear was a really big icon of my childhood. Not to mention that there is the affinity among fellow bears.*

*We are talking totem animal and psychic identification here, not the furry gay men gathering at the Russian River for Lazy Bear Weekend. I may qualify for the latter but that's not my inner identity.

During my childhood and youth I spend my summers in the Sierra surrounded by the Sequoia National Forest. That experience has shaped me profoundly and has a lot to do with why I consider myself a tree mystic. I don't hug them, but I do bond with them.

Well, since tomorrow is a work day--Work?!!! Thank you, Maynard Krebs--I will stop typing and post. Will try to do better about posting as days go by.
--the BB

I have never understood...

... the whole phenomenon of Friday cat blogging. I know cat lovers love their cats. "Some of my closest friends are cat lovers." [Honest!] And, in fact, I have loved me some cats in my day.

Anyway, I have for some time felt I should put my two cents' worth in. So here, for all the felinophiles, is my entry in Sunday cat blogging. [Well, I didn't have time to do it on Friday.]
Patches on the right is a calico house cat, of course. Markus is the big lion and Leo is the cub trying to get out from under his big brother's paw. Each is a gift linking my memories to wonderful persons and special occasions. In fact, they are all related in different ways to my vocation.

Markus came to me from Marilyn Belove who once said, during those seemingly endless years of the process toward ordination, "God ordained you a priest before the foundation of the world." She helped me get through some thin times, let me tell you. Thank you, Marilyn!

Walter Guettsche, a priest from Texas, gave me Leo as an ordination present, celebrating my having survived the ecclesiastical hoop jumping. Walter, may you rest in peace and rise in glory!

John and Gail King presented me with my first cat, Patches, at a farewell party when I left Saint Cuthbert's, Oakland. Like Molly Sugden as Mrs. Slocombe, I am fond of my pussy. [If you have not watched countless episodes of Are You Being Served, don't ask. And for heaven's sake, let's go beyond that. Don't ask. Don't tell. Don't even go there.] The Kings have blessed me with lovely holiday meals and Christmastide has not seemed the same since I am not near enough for their Boxing Day feasts. Bless you, John and Gail (today and every anniversary).

Among the blessings of vocation, I had the privilege of presiding and preaching at Holy Eucharist this morning for San Gabriel's, the parochial mission of St. Michael and All Angels. I am rarely happier or more fulfilled than doing just that. Boundless thanks and lots of love to all who helped me on the journey (which continues).

--the BB