Saturday, November 24, 2007

Another silly quiz

Your results:
You are Spider-Man

Iron Man
Wonder Woman
The Flash
Green Lantern
You are intelligent, witty,
a bit geeky and have great
power and responsibility.

Click here to take the Superhero Personality Quiz

Thanks (I think) to MikeF at The Mercy Blog for this one. I was rather unsure of several answers on this one, so no guarantees that it might not come out differently on another attempt; but I usually take whatever comes out the first time. Now, if I only looked that good in tight clothing.
--the BB

La luna è sorta - again

Last month's moon.

I joined a group in a going-into-winter retreat this afternoon. It involved a ritual trip to the river--the Rio Grande in this setting. We smudged one another, we walked, we had a four-direction prayer in Navajo, we walked, we read poems, we walked, we stood on the riverbank. We shared a litany, listened to haunting flute music, and we watched as the sun set, the shadows deepened, and eventually the full moon rose over the northern edge of the Sandias, reflecting in the waters of the Rio Grande. We returned (hastily, for we had pretty well all frozen our butts off), shared a meal, read the compline published here earlier, moved tables and chairs back where they normally belong, and headed our separate way. That's the prose version.

Given the snowfall yesterday afternoon, I was very grateful that today, though chilly, was a bright day, full of sunshine and a glorious clear blue sky with only a few clouds hovering around Sandia crest. The sage was heavenly, a restorative scent. We walked with cowbells of varying pitches ringing as we moved through the bosque. Cottonwood leaves mottled the ground, their pale shades of straw and pearl gray washed over with that coppery tint they acquire in the fall. Some still fluttered in the breeze overhead, bright against the azure sky. We passed bushes with branches of a rich color evocative of something between chestnut and cherry, rich red verticalities. Many were bare though a few still held a pastel mist the hue of pale pumpkin rind, though only lightly saturated.

As we neared the river that wonderful autumn afternoon light characteristic of this region gave things a golden wasj. By the time we reached the river and looked across to toward the east bank the trees there were bright with the low-angled sunlight, the water varying shades of blue gray, the Sandias toward the northeast majestic and snow-tipped. As the sun slid lower the bright golden tints faded and the grays and pale muted greens along the opposite bank became more prominent, shadows inching leftward (as we saw it). Eventually the trees lining the river had all settled into shadow and we watched the sunlight retreating up the slopes of the Sandias, tinging them pink, then lavender, then a misty indigo. By the time the sun no longer touched any part of the the earth we could see, the sky took on a rosy hue like some pink veil floating above the mountains.

The flute would play with duck calls. We watched a grebe hold its place amid the river, refusing to float downstream with the current. Small ripples roiled the surface of the Rio Grande as water flowed over vegetation and sandbanks. A new chattering interrupted the stillness of two dozen people waiting wordlessly. Cranes flew in from the southeast, reached the river, then turned north only to settle just upriver from us and near the opposite bank. Party central. More and more groups of cranes arrived, announcing their arrival and being answered by those waiting with the keg ready (or whatever cranes do on Saturday nights). And still more. There will be a wild time by the bosque tonight.

The world grew darker. And colder. I was thinking that with each passing minute our return path was becoming more obscure. We were all chilled. And then a small patch of ivory cream light appeared at the northern edge of the Sandia crest. It grew. It's reflection rippled in the water. The moon rose and she was glorious, radiant, majestic.

I have watched the moon rise in Albuquerque a number of times but never over the Rio Grande. A real treat.

We walked back in rather obscure light. To the southwest a golden gold glow still hovered, silhouetting the cottonwoods. Now and again we saw the moon, now a snow white orb risen higher, revealing herself when the trees thinned. Lovely. I should have sung the Phos hilaron as sunlight fled the riverbank but I sang it now.

Well, that's where I've been boys and girls. What have y'all been up to this weekend?
--the BB

Christian people ought to be bothered

I am indebted to Grandmère Mimi at Wounded Bird for passing on word of the work of the Rev. Rex Reyes on behalf of the people being "disappeared" in the Philippines. Mimi shares passages from an article at the United Methodist Church website that recounts the problem and efforts to address it.

There are a couple of powerful statements from Reyes that I pass on here.
"Christianity is not just a social club," he said. "It is a movement primarily of people who are concerned that everybody should have abundant life. And clearly in our experience, the reason the National Council of Churches in the Philippines is howling is that its people are howling."

Protesters in Manila, in the Philippines, march on International Day of the Disappeared to denounce the disappearance of activists allegedly killed or snatched by security forces. (BBC Photo)

Reyes said the Scriptural teaching that all people are created in God's image is "not an empty statement for Christians. Christian people ought to be bothered when people are getting killed," he said.

That last sentence hit me right between the eyes.

How true.

And then we look at the world and our role in it.

'Nuff said.
Check Mimi's article here or the original (with additional photos and audio links) here.
--the BB

Friday, November 23, 2007

Context, context, context

JN1034 has a brief but terrific post about the future thrust of theology.

Theology is nourished and supported by the past but it is oriented to the future.
--Prof Dr Nikos A Nissiotis
It concludes with a dynamite quote from none other than Athanasius: a comment with significant application in our own time. Check it out!

[They're also doing a pretty hot job of honoring sacred humanity these days.]

Photo of Cat's Eye Nebula NGC 6543 from Hubble Telescope courtesy of NASA
--the BB

Outside agitators

Juan Cole reminds us of some important facts:

A treasure trove of guerrilla documents, according to the NYT, shows that 41% of the foreign jihadis in Iraq come from Saudi Arabia, which is also a major source of funding for them. Another big group comes from Libya, with Yemenis the third largest cohort. There were none from Lebanon, despite constant US accusations of Hizbullah involvement. Of the some 25,000 alleged insurgents in US custody in Iraq, only 390 are foreigners. 4/5s of the Iraqis and nearly all the foreigners are Sunni Arabs. (The US appears to have never captured a Shiite Iranian fighter in Iraq.) The statistics raise the question of why US military officials are always focusing on Iran and Hizbullah so much, when they clearly are not very much of the problem, while never, ever, mentioning the Saudi issue. The Guardian has more. [emphasis mine]

We are clearly not being given the whole picture.

Tired of Bushco catapulting the propaganda?

Have you told Nancy Pelosi lately that if impeachment is off the table, so is democracy?
--the BB

Friday Prince Blogging

Thank you for your patience, prince fans. I have been saving this one for a while. First we need to announce that he is an alumnus of Cal (that's the University of California at Berkeley) and thus a Bear. Go, Bears!

Yes, we are talking a BA in political science from Cal in 1999. I remember commuting through the campus wondering if I would ever get a glimpse of him. (I didn't.) He was a dish back then. And he ain't getting ugly at time passes.
Yes, we are speaking of the Crown Prince of Norway, HRH Haakon Magnus.
He has an older sister but primogeniture was not sorted out in Norway until too late for her. It is not retroactive and so HRH Märtha Louise has to step aside and let her kid brother ascend the throne.
Here he is in younger days.

He was born on 20 July 1973 in Oslo. (Sigh, makes me feel old. I was out of seminary and in UCLA at that time. Go, Bruins!)
He married a single mother but the Norwegians have come to terms with it. Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit have two children: Princess Ingrid Alexandra and Prince Sverre Magnus in addition to her son and Haakon's stepson Marius Borg Hølby.
Now, here he is not dancing with his wife but with Princess Victoria of Sweden. We Scandinavians fight amongst ourselves but have to unite against the rest of the world.

[OK, you got me. For all the protests of a Latin soul, I will stand up for the North once in a while. Just wish I were standing next to HRH. Woof!]
25 August 2001 at Oslo Cathedral: the royal couple tie the knot. Isn't that a sweet picture?
A music fan, fond of windsurfing, a patron of several causes, a supporter of culture
Oops, he even hangs out with clergy (God save His Royal Highness!).

I lifted the info out of Wikipedia. The photos I've gathered over time.

Haakon is also a Knight of the Elephant in Denmark, a holder of the Grand Cross of the Order of the Chyrsanthemum in Japan, and in Sweden a Knight of the Order of the Seraphim. Sing, choirs of heaven!
--the BB

Miscellaneous tidbits

Fence across the street from the Church on Spilled Blood
St Petersburg, Russia, November 2004
(Just because the photo feels autumnal)

It is snowing this afternoon, though most of its seems to melt on landing.

Many readers here will already have been alerted to Jenny Plane Te Paa's address at the "Drenched in Grace" conference in England. Don't you just want to bask, splash, and soak in the phrase "drenched in grace"? We are such pathetic minimalists in a world of God's superabundance. We are drenched in grace already; we need to acknowledge it and live like it.

JaneR pointed me to Jenny's speech and I went over to Inclusive Church to read it. Here is one paragraph to whet your appetite:

We are I believe being challenged in the current circumstance not so much to focus too intently and singularly on the bad behaviour of the few, but rather to focus anew the very good behaviour of the many whose exemplary regard for the sacredness of all others whom God has created points us all toward that way in which God would probably say that grace is to be truly expressed.


On a different topic, did you remember this is Buy Nothin Day? It is one way to protest our destructive consumerism.


“We have a saying in America: If you’re in a hole, stop digging. . . . I’m not sure I should have said that."

Yes, that's our beloved Donald Rumsfeld, and you can hear this and others of his famous quotes when you purchase a Rummy doll for Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Solstice/Yule.
You know, you can't make this stuff up. [Rolls eyes.]


While specific manifestations are often a cause for dismay, I am quite pro-marriage. I am not, however, going to say it should be available to everyone because there are lots of folks, or couplings, that really should not be encouraged in this direction (though it has nothing to do with the genders involved). There needs to be a lot more attention given the whole "soberly and advisedly" side of things if you ask me, which you didn't.

I do think our whole theology around marriage is rather piece-meal, shoddy, inconsistent, and frequently either stupid or heretical, but that's neither here nor there, nor even remotely where I'm heading here.

I am not so gung-ho on weddings, especially the excesses encouraged by the wedding industry. [Shudder. Snarl.] I have enjoyed officiating at some weddings where the couples really belonged together and they were sensible and the whole thing wasn't some status statement or cloying over-the-top confection. Pre-marital counseling is a lot of work, wedding rehearsals are a pain in the ass, and the minister's role in the whole thing is often thankless. I rather think one of the more comforting canons gives us the right to refuse to solemnize matrimony with no stated reason.

Burial of the dead, on the other hand, is one of the opportunities to be of comfort in the hardest of hard spots. While I prefer to stay away from the wedding business, I have often said "I'll bury anybody."

All of which is very rambling background to expressing here my admiration for Mad Priest's pastoral practice on funerals. He speaks eloquently of it at OCICBW. "I love a good funeral" is the title of the post. He is a good priest (and it would be an honor to have him "plant" me, but he's in Newcastle and I'm in New Mexico). So, to borrow a phrasing common on blogs:

What Maddie said.

He clearly has it right.

[Plant is a euphemism but not, as I am using it, for anything in violation of the canons or ethical policies of either the diocese I live in or the one in which I am canonically resident, so those of you with wicked minds, just don't even think of going there. My namesake said "to the pure all things are pure" and there is a rather contrary corollary to that which frequently applies to the reprobates I run around with. Well, why do you think I run around with them?]


Elizabeth (whom Maddie calls "that Kaeton woman") has a thoughtful musing on class and worldview and religious perspective.


Is it not interesting that W doesn't think Musharraf has "crossed the line" even though the General forcibly replaced the Supreme Court and has jailed scads of lawyers? Does this mean we could get a general to replace SCOTUS and undo W's appointment? Would that be OK? Just fantasizing here, folks. Great article by scarecrow at the link, btw.


Bunrab, the filthiest toy in the house, learns to sympathize with +Cantuar over at Padre Mickey's Dance Party in a classic holiday re-run.

Hope y'all have been having a good day. The snow continues to fall.
--the BB

Slow blog day

It snowed last night and the world this morning is lovely. At first we weren't sure because it was more like rain with touches of ice (is that what sleet is? raining slush?). Then the big fluffy flakes began.

Having imbibed very little of my drug of preference--Diet Pepsi, which I consume in huge quantities daily from the moment I get up--I was very undercaffeinated on Thanskgiving Day and before we got to dessert I felt like something half-dead. So I spent the night in the guest room instead of driving home (and happily had a change of clothes in the car). I don't have my jump drive full of photos and tidbits that is my usual resource and I am going in to work today.

Friday prince blogging will be this evening and I will reward the patient.

If you have today off, enjoy it. If you were thinking of shopping, please find something nicer to do for yourself. If you are working, thanks for keeping the world running. If you are just going to sit and enjoy the beauty of creation, thanks for knowing we don't keep the world running. If you get the chance, say something random and loving to somebody.

And if you are a health maven, I already know artificial sodas are not healthy but it's MY habit and you are invited to keep your lectures to yourself. If I thought telling people what they do wrong were a useful thing to do with my life, I'd still be an evangelical fundie. If you don't have good news, don't preach.

I love how nutritional understandings keep shifting. I knew that margarine was too artificial to be good for a person and have never allowed it in my house. Finally they come out and say you're better off with real butter. Caffeine dehyrdates but in more recent studies they found out that those who imbibe it regularly have a readjustment in their body so that dehydration effect no longer obtains. Time makes ancient good uncouth. Ah well.

We are maintaining the standards: I checked this morning and this blog still has an NC-17 rating--no one under 17 admitted. Mostly because of mentions of torture, death, and hell, but I had a couple of dicks and one queer on here (funny, I don't remember inviting dicks and I am sure we've hosted more queers than that, but what can I say?). This paragraph probably moved me over to an X. Such silly standards.

My sympathies to those who everindulged yesterday.
Peace out.
--the BB

Thursday, November 22, 2007

While we're giving thanks...

And I am crossposting to the articles of others on this morning off....

Hillary Rettig and One Pissed Of Liberal (aka OPOL) combine forces for a tribute to progressive activists to whom we owe so very much. They also invite us to become active in the causes of freedom, justice, and peace. Hmm, for those of the Christian flavor that might translate as furthering the reign of God, or cooperating with the Holy Spirit in the redemption and sanctification of the world, or something like that. For others it might be "tikkun" or "right action." Anyway, it sounds like a really good idea.
This Thanksgiving, let’s all give thanks for the progressive activists who have fought against often incredible odds to give us a better world, and continue to do so. Then, go out and do some progressive activism and BE PROUD OF IT. Fly your activist flag proudly, and encourage others to do the same. Remember that progressive activists are, quite simply, the most precious resource in the world, and that if we all just do a bit more activism, and encourage others to do the same, we can create an enormous amount of social progress.

So, if you have a few minutes, check out "Giving Thanks for Progressive Activists"--lots of inspiring pictures and links to take action as well.

This morning's lessons are from the Fourth Gospel

I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’ (John 13:34-35, NRSV)

How far we fall from Jesus' injunction.

What twisted psycho-spiritual experience (and fundamentalist brainwashing, of which I know something) leads people to think they are honoring or obeying God and glorifying Jesus when they act hatefully, glorify violence, and take pleasure in the punishment of others?

theyrereal has an article at DailyKos about the rabid version of aggressive "Christianity" that seems to permeate far too much of United States military forces.

Mikey Weinstein, a former Air Force JAG and White House attorney for Ronald Reagan, has received over 6,000 complains from military personnel about being harassed by Evangelical "Christians". 95% of these complains come from people who are, actually, already Christians.

For his trouble, Weinstein, founder of The Military Religious Freedom Foundation, has found "dead animals on his porch, feces smeared on his walls, or slashes in his tires. Men have called to threaten his daughter, women to chant rhymes about shooting him in the head, small children to inform him that he will burn in hell."

The story of what passes for "evangelism" is quite frightening.

Jesus began to weep. (John 11:35, NRSV)

Be informed. Read the article. And support the First Amendment.

UPDATE: A second article today by Troutfishing discusses "predatory evangelism."
--the BB

Realpolitik and Morality

Devilstower has an article today over at DailyKos titled "Schizophrenia as a National Doctrine." He discusses the emergence of modern diplomacy as diplomats ceased to represent "affronted honor" or "the lust of individual rulers." What we then see is supposedly rational pursuit of a nation's interests.

As he puts it:
The trouble with the "realism" in realpolitik, is that it's little but an acceptance of cynicism. Under the disguise of being realistic, governments can not only refuse to be swayed by honor, but can justify any action at all. Practitioners of realpolitik sadly shake their heads and discard the idea of morality as a force in international relations. It's an invitation to view the world as a mechanical system free of human obligations, a series of nodes connected by rubber bands of power, the importance of each limited only by it's ability to pull.

Devilstower puts forth a troubling illustration of Ted Koppel's comments on earlier days in Iran: the Shah, the demonstrators, and the interests of the United States. All of this is great material for our reflection in an era when the repercussions of power are all we talk about and what is right and moral fades into the background (if it makes an appearance at all).

We know that legislating morality doesn't really work. But neither does ignoring it and allowing an atmosphere to develop where it no longer arises as an issue.

Devilstower writes: "To cure the national schizophrenia we must accept that human rights and democracy are not separable from our national interest."
Is that unrealistic politics? One thing is for sure, it's untried politics. And after the results of a century of realpolitik, anything has to be better than a policy that's committed us to calculated cruelty and produced nothing but failure.
Imagine what it would be like for the United States to be an honorable nation once again.

It takes a lot of imagining. And will take a lot of work.

Do not weary in doing what is good.

Check out the entire article.
--the BB
Photo of the Shah's family courtesy of PBS

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thursday Constitution blogging

Article. I.

Section. 8.

Clause 1: The Congress shall have Power....

Clause 11: To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

As they say here in blogtopia (™ skippy the bush kangaroo), IANAL, which is, being interpreted, I am not a lawyer, however it seems to me that if power to make rules concerning captures on land and water is vested by the Constitution in the Congress--and NOT in the Executive Branch--then we should not tolerate silly ass quibbling over things like rendition and Guantánamo because the President doesn't have a damned thing to say about it.

So, Congress, get your asses in gear and pass a law NOW, unless one or more are already in place, to say that rendition is not allowed and persons held in our custody are entitled to know the charges brought against them. And if such laws are already on the books, then Judiciary, get your asses in gear and nail the bastards. Here's a clue: habeas corpus. End of story.

I might cut Congress some slack and say they have other more pressing work to do but since they have neither (1) ended the illegal and immoral occupation in Iraq--and I won't call it a war because they haven't frigging declared one--nor (2) begun impeachment proceedings against the Dark Lord and the Fratboy, nor (3) overhauled health care in this nation, nor (4) passed legislation to ensure a verifiable vote count across this nation, then they might as well do this because they seem to be doing sod all.

Here endeth the rant.

Have YOU read the United States Constitution lately?
--the BB

Thanksgiving 2007

For the infinitesimal point that exploded into the universe
I am grateful
For the eons of unfolding that led to this moment
I am grateful
For the miracle that anything exists
I am grateful
For the wonder of continuous creation
I am grateful
For the glory of the cosmos
I am grateful
For this amazing and beautiful planet
I am grateful
For the emergence of life
I am grateful

For reflective consciousness
I am grateful
For the surprising fact that I am alive
I am grateful
For all the wonders I have experienced
I am grateful
For all the love I have received
I am grateful
For every act of kindness and compassion in the world
I am grateful
For the myriad species that populate the earth
I am grateful
For every newborn and each unfolding flower
I am grateful
For air to breathe and water to drink
I am grateful
For light and warmth and the energies of creation
I am grateful

For stories and song and dance
I am grateful
For the sharing of meals and laughter
I am grateful
For companions on our journey
I am grateful
For every gentle touch and warm embrace
I am grateful
For Light and Word and Truth and Wisdom
I am grateful
For faith and hope and love
I am grateful
For the entire fabric of existence
I am grateful
For all of it
I am grateful

--the BB

Photos: V838 Monocerotis Light Echo-October 2004 (Hubble Telescope) courtesy NASA; Puddle near the railroad tracks, Hercules, California, January 17, 2003 (PES); Herminia Ramos, bereaved Salvadoran mother (source uncertain).

I don't think this is quite right

But then, there was at least one question where none of the choices came even close to fitting the truth. I re-tried this changing one answer where I waffled but it didn't change the result.

You Are An Iris
You are a unique person who seeks out novelty in life.An inspiration seeker, you often have to change scenery to recharge.You don't deal well with structure or rules. You need to do it your own way.Your ideal relationships are free and flowing. No one can tie you down.

I got this from Kirstin. Who's next?
--the BB

Mimi is stirring up class wars

I know that au fond I am white (sigh) middle class (yep) and my own mother considered my life boring. My only defense is that mother didn't know everything about my life and we were both happier that way.

What Social Status are you?
created with
You scored as Middle Class

You're content in your position and would prefer a house or a family than a seven figure pay cheque. But you have your moments of weakness when you buy a lottery ticket in the hope of knowing how the rich and famous live.



Lower Class


Middle Class


Upper middle Class


Luxurious Upper Class


Nothing good can come from this.
--the BB


A crisp November wind swirled about me this morning as I walked from the parking lot into the office. Leaves scuttled in all directions: first this way, then that. Large crumply tan leaves of the great plane trees (here at the southwestern edge of the Great Plains?) littered the roadway. On the sidewalk were lots of ash leaves--their color a subtle blend. An underpainting of something I struggle to name--pale ochre? a mustard pastel? Over that washes of rust and faded lime. Very rich and wonderful in all its complexity and gradations. The non-bearing plums boasted their individuality. One is a motley of greens, gold, and reddish-orange; the next a shower of gold (brace yourself Danae); and the one beyond them still green, though it is fading toward yellow. All of it lovely... and it feels so good to tighten one's jacket in the cooler air.

Photo is from January 2003 in California, not November 2007 in New Mexico but I love the sun glowing through the blood-red liquidambar leaf against the clear blue sky.
--the BB

Treat yourself

I have mentioned this blog before but want to point any newcomers here to it once more.

Speculator at La Vie Graphite posts irregularly and his posts are worth the wait. He writes beautifully and accompanies his writing with beautiful photographs. He has moved recently and has been pondering for a while now on transitions. This morning I read the following:

A year of travels and transition winds again into the country of cold weather. Pilgrimage may be comprehended as a year of many days’ transition, or more broadly as an unfolding voyage, prefaced and accompanied by years of transformation. But surely not simply change for the sake of change; by choosing to move forward, albeit while seeing through the proverbial glass darkly, we can indeed journey from one fulfillment to another. The future is not meant to be a replication of the past.

Treat yourself.
--the BB

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Thank God some local media bother to notice

It is making the rounds in blogtopia (™ skippy the bush kangaroo) but I wonder if the MSM will pick up on this. They should. It is a frigging scandal of major proportion.

KDKA in Pittsburgh brings us the story. In short:

The U.S. Military is demanding that thousands of wounded service personnel give back signing bonuses because they are unable to serve out their commitments.

To get people to sign up, the military gives enlistment bonuses up to $30,000 in some cases.

Now men and women who have lost arms, legs, eyesight, hearing and can no longer serve are being ordered to pay some of that money back.

So, you sign up, you serve, you suffer some devastating injury, and the Pentagon wants its bonus back. Sorry about that lost limb, brain damage, PTSD, your lost job, ruined marriage, and impending homelessness but we think you should return the money your family has already spent to survive.

Excuse the fuck out of me but some general's head, or several, should be rolling right out the Pentagon's front door right now.

A signing bonus is for signing, not for surviving long enough to serve. I should think the troops have sacrificed enough in their own body not to have this obscene outrage perpetrated upon them. I want this story blazoned across the front page of every newspaper in America. Be sure to tell at least ten people about this.

God help us to do right by those who sacrifice for the United States Constitution. Yes, that's what their oath is about too.

UPDATE: The original local case the KDKA was reporting on has seen the Pentagon backpedal. There are no promises regarding other cases, however. Meanwhile, Freshman Democratic Rep. Jason Altmire has introduced legislation to undo any policy of demanding bonuses back when troops are injured. More power to him as we need to rein in such abuses. [Thanks to Daily Kos for the update.] Keep spreading the word and bringing pressure to bear on our government to do the right thing--in this and all the rest. Power to the People!
--the BB


Your Inner European is Spanish!

Energetic and lively.
You bring the party with you!

It's nmwolfboy's fault, I was just blogsurfing when he led me astray.

I accept the verdict, however. I believe my country came out Spain some time back (and Mimi's too, IIRC). Bring on the sunshine!
--the BB


With the word "blazing" in the previous prayers one might reasonably conclude that I have a pyromaniacal piety. Close, but not quite.

In addition to my sense of a deep bond with trees I think I am also a light mystic. My fiction is replete with light mysticism, my image of God is radiant light unfolding in unending graciousness, and I happen to be a huge fan of color in all its variety and nuances.

I am devoted to the "glorious feasts" and the beatific vision of God's glory, plus all the moments when we have foretastes of
L'amor che muove il sole e l'altre stelle
The love that moves the sun and other stars

[Concluding line of Dante's Commedia]
--the BB

A Prayer of Thanksgiving

Gracious God, for three things today
I thank you,
for four I praise your Name:
for the wonder of existence
and for the blazing passion
of your steadfast mercies,
for uplifting deeds
of human kindness,
and for the capacity to love;
Quicken my abilities to feel
awe and gratitude, to open
my heart to each
of your children
and to you.

--written on the Feast of St Bartholomew 1986

This prayer, based on the Hebrew wisdom pattern of “three things and four,” touches on the miracle of creation (its “thatness”), God’s covenant love (the whole issue of relationship), the outworking of God’s love and grace through human beings (participation and cooperation), and that within us which can love (the image of God). [Distilled from the notes in my paper of prayers]
--the BB

Tuesday Prayer Blogging

We used to wonder where war lived,
what it was that made it so vile.
And now we realize that we know where it lives,
that it is inside ourselves.

—Albert Camus
So instead of loving what you think is peace,
love other [people] and love God above all.
And instead of hating the people you think are warmakers,
hate the appetites and the disorder in your own soul,
which are the causes of war.
If you love peace,
then hate injustice, hate tyranny, hate greed –
but hate these things in yourself, not in another."

—Thomas Merton, from "New Seeds of Contemplation"

A Prayer for Deliverance
O God, your glory blazes with the light of love and justice, your righteousness and your mercy flow together as one mighty stream: May we who beseech deliverance from violence, oppression, and degradation be purged within of their roots—of fear, envy, powerlessness, anger, resentment, the lust for revenge and the desire to hurt—and of the blindness and willfulness which beset our best intentions; that we may not act with violence, neither oppress nor degrade any of your creatures, but may strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being; for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

This prayer expands a petition from Form I of the Prayers of the People and concludes with the final vow of our Baptismal Covenant. Imagery is drawn either explicitly or allusively from Hebrews 12:29 (and Eliot’s complex vision of fire in “Little Gidding”), Amos 5:24, Ezekiel 34:26, Psalm 72:6-7, Ezekiel 47, Revelation 22. The themes of fire and water mingle in the Orthodox liturgies of the Feast of the Theophany.

--the BB

Monday, November 19, 2007

Prayers of the People

We give you thanks and praise, O God of creation, for the grandeur of all that you have made: for the soaring birds of the air, the crawling creatures on the earth, the gliding fishes in the seas, for all creatures great and small with whom we share the web of life,

For all our relations we call on you.
With all our relations we praise you.
For the invigorating sunlight of the day, the deepening mystery of the night, the wonder of the stars, the call of the unknown in the universe, and for those who have walked before us and those who come after us,

For all our relations we call on you.
With all our relations we praise you.

For courage and wisdom to do what you call us to do; for humility and compassion, that we may serve with love,

For all our relations we call on you.
With all our relations we praise you.
That the People of God in all the world may worship in spirit and truth,

For all our relations we call on you.
With all our relations we praise you.
That the Church may discover again that unity which is your gift,

For all our relations we call on you.
With all our relations we praise you.
That the whole creation, groaning in travail, may be set free to enjoy the glorious liberty of the children of God,

For all our relations we call on you.
With all our relations we praise you.

Here other intercessions may be offered.
(The People add their own petitions.)

That all who have entered the shadow of death and now walk the star path may find the fulfillment of life and peace,

For all our relations we call on you.
With all our relations we praise you.
With all the saints in light, let us offer eternal praise to God.

For all our relations we call on you.
With all our relations we praise you.

We used the above prayers for our Turtle Island Mass. I don't remember if I borrowed this or composed it. So if anyone finds a source, let me know so I may give credit.
--the BB

A heart on fire

Mosaic in Church on Spilled Blood, St Petersburg, Russia

MikeF shared a story from St Isaac of Ninevah that I feel compelled to offer here.

'An elder was once asked, "What is a merciful heart?" He replied:

"It is a heart on fire for the whole of creation, for humanity, for the birds, for the animals, for demons, and for all that exists. By the recollection of them the eyes of a merciful person pour forth tears in abundance. By the strong and vehement mercy that grips such a person’s heart, and by such great compassion, the heart is humbled and one cannot bear to hear or to see any injury or slight sorrow in any in creation.

For this reason, such a person offers up tearful prayer continually even for irrational beasts, for the enemies of the truth, and for those who harm her or him, that they be protected and receive mercy. And in like manner such a person prays for the family of reptiles because of the great compassion that burns with without measure in a heart that is in the likeness of God."'

Historia ipsa loquitur
Mike has further commentary on this and contemplative prayer if you click on his name above.
--the BB

I am so easily swayed

This time it was our canine friend Rowan who posted Lindy's score. Well, here is mine.

You Are 40% Misanthropic

You're a little misanthropic - but who isn't? Your reactions to other people are pretty normal.
You enjoy being friendly with people you encounter, but if you're having a rough day, watch out!

I typically want to answer questions such as those posed in this quiz with multiple responses as the question, as posed and without context, requires a "sometimes this" and "sometimes that" answer to be even remotely accurate. Still, I made my choices and this is what I got. And yes, I have bad days. I even had a very uncharitable thought during the words of institution at Mass this morning. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea naughtyssima culpa. I should have been focused on Jesus. But I wasn't, and Jesus loves me anyway and, what brings it home to prick my heart, Jesus loves those about whom I harbored (and enjoyed) those uncharitable thoughts.

And I must protest. The cameo face above does not resemble me in the least. Too young, too female, and way too phony a smile. The real BB is at the top in last December's snow.

This was fun. A big Woof out to Rowan.
--the BB

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Mimi started it

Now she'll accuse me of avoiding personal responsibility again, but really, she did start it. Or at least I followed her example.

Go over and give Grandmère some love. She came out The Godfather.

A neighbor of mine in California was the daughter of one of "Schindler's Jews." The world is small indeed.

Never forget.

Update: and what leader am I? Mother Theresa. I don't think so. I am too pro-choice (on her dark side) and not really that loving and giving (on her bright side).
--the BB

Concluding the lessons

Tower of St Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church
Albuquerque, New Mexico

This morning I saw one person baptized and twenty-one people confirmed, received, or reaffirming. Bishop Gayle Harris, Suffragan of Massachusetts, visited St Mike's and it was wonderful. It was especially exciting because just last Trinity Sunday our ordinary, Bishop Jeffrey Steenson, visited and did a raft of confirmations and receptions also. Church feels alive when people are making commitments like that. I just want to share that bit of joy with you.

Just a couple more tidbits from the Lessons for today. From the Gospel's conclusion:
By your endurance you will gain your souls.

And from the first lesson taken from the Book of Isaiah:
Be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating.

I think they can stand quite well without comment.

Peace out!
--the BB

Blame Kirstin

The New Jerusalem

What's your eschatology?
created with
You scored as Moltmannian Eschatology

Jürgen Moltmann is one of the key eschatological thinkers of the 20th Century. Eschatology is not only about heaven and hell, but God's plan to make all things new. This should spur us on to political and social action in the present.

Moltmannian Eschatology












Left Behind


Because neither she nor I are literalists, I cannot say she tagged me, but the implication was pretty strong. Serves her right; I got the Moltmannian score.

Who's next?
--the BB

What has this man done to "our song"?

My very first evening with the person who turned out to be the love of my life (now ex and still beloved) included listening to an album of baroque music. It was my exposure to Pachelbel's Canon in D, one of the most famous pieces of baroque music in our time. I always thought of it as "our song." OK, not your usual romantic ballad with lyrics and all. Still, it brings a smile to my face whenever I hear it. (And in stereo with headphones after smoking a little pot--wow! Hey, I am a child of my time, and that was long ago.)

I was thinking of it this morning with the Hallelujah (or Alleluia) theme in the post below. The high school choir in the movie Ordinary People (1980) sings "Alleluia" over and over set to Pachelbel's Canon. That movie (with Timothy Hutton, Mary Tyler Moore, Donald Sutherland, and Judd Hirsch et al.) spoke powerfully to us and images of it still haunt us, so that is part of "our" shared mythology as well.

Which is background to my searching YouTube for Pachelbel's Canon to see if I could add it to Rufus Wainwright singing Cohen's "Hallelujah." I didn't find the choir in the movie but I did find a very funny comedic routine: Rob Paravonian's Pachelbel Rant at Penn State. Enjoy.

--the BB

Sunday morning thoughts

When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified.
--The Gospel according to Luke
Here we have another encouraging phrase lifted from the lessons for today. Much apocalyptic imagery operates within the metaphor or birth pangs of the new age. Any mother will tell you we don't get from conception to birth without a difficult transition. Mothers go through birth pangs for the sake of the new life that emerges. When we read that Jesus went to the cross for the joy that was set before him there is an echo of this.

The reality of human history is that wars and insurrections have been going on every moment throughout history. Although I don't recall the specifics or the source, I seem to have read once that the historians Will and Ariel Durant looked at recorded history and the number of years when the whole world seemed to be at peace numbered in the forties. I suspect that if they had more records it would drop to zero. This suggests to me that we are always living in the transition to the coming age, always in the process of the arrival of God's reign.

Having spent many hours and read many books on apocalyptic, I have no patience with folks who try to pin down the various "signs" with specific happenings in their own day in order to manage their anxiety about "the end" and/or the parousia. Jesus told us that was the Father's matter and even he didn't know when, so what in God's Name are people doing trying to know more than Jesus? Well, I just named it: managing their anxiety. To that extent I can feel some compassion but so much hysteria arises around the process that it only increases anxiety among some and produces deadly false certainties in others. Those who would hasten the return of Christ by fomenting events they consider prerequisites are trying to force God's hand and alter God's timing for their own purposes, and this strikes me as seriously blasphemous. To promote Armageddon, heedless of the destruction one unleashes, is a serious sin and there are many people, some in high places, who appear hellbent on doing it. I might add that "hellbent" is a very apt word in this instance.

"Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, 'I am he!' and, 'The time is near!' Do not go after them."

Jesus has a tendency to speak to the fearsome storms of our lives and say, Peace, be still. In today's Gospel he addresses all the scary stuff and even promises that his followers will be persecuted, hated, and betrayed by their own. He also promises that we will be given words to say when the time comes and we will be all right.

Knowing that you are God's beloved and that nothing in life or death can separate you from that love does make a difference. It is like the equanimity of the Buddhist facing someone who threatened to slay him. "Don't you know that I can kill you?" the attacker said. "Don't you know that death holds no fear?" was the response. [If you know the story, you know I just oversimplified it.] Whether we live or die, we are the Lord's.

In a comment on my previous post JN1034 wrote something so wonderful I want to promote it into this post:
"We've the grace to loosen and bind. Let's use the former on ourselves and the world, and the latter on none."
What a wonderful statement! We are indeed all called to join God in setting the world free. We don't need to go around binding; there is more than enough of that. Trying to bind is a sign of fear and love casts out fear. To live in God's love is not to be fearful. Christ has already bound the enemy. As our evangelical sisters and brothers would say, Claim it! Now, let's get busy helping to liberate. All of God's people have the power to speak words of truth, love, grace, and power. You don't need to be a priest to absolve someone (I know, here I go on my Protestant side), at least for the sins and follies committed against you. If you speak the word of forgiveness it will not only set them free for restored relationship, it will set you free.

Have you ever had someone speak a word of encouragement to you and found yourself putting aside a burden, letting go of a fear, shedding a resentment, and stepping out once more in faith? Pass this kindness on. We are part of something wonderful.

Writing of the wide range of our emotions and the need to feel them, I responded in the same comments thread: "We are graced with the gamut of the psalms--we not only recite them and pray them, we live them. That means we end with Hallelujahs." And so, some music:

Rufus Wainwright singing Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" from Summer Stage at a Central Park music concert.

--the BB