Saturday, December 01, 2007

World AIDS Day

Image from Aids Arms

Ss Kosmas and Damianos, the Unmercenary Physicians

In 2000, heads of state made a promise to halt and begin to reverse the spread of AIDS by 2015. The World Health Organization predicts that in the next 25 years another 117 million people will die, making AIDS the third leading cause of death worldwide.

[The image and paragraph above are from JN1034.]

Prayer for World AIDS Day (Cliff Reed)

O God, healer and comforter, be with all who suffer and all who strive to end the suffering. May your Advent hope be made real to those who struggle with sickness and despair. And God, when the world's griefs make us weary, help us still to care. We ask this in the spirit of Jesus. Amen

[From Susan Russell's An Inch at a Time]

Here's to Gary, David Lee, Lee, John, Mark, Walter... and the millions who have died of AIDS/HIV throughout the world. May you rest in peace and rise with Christ in glory.

For all who work for the prevention, mitigation, and cure of this disease, and all who care for the sick and the dying: May you be given patience and power, persistence and insight, wisdom and effectiveness.

For all who live with HIV/AIDS: may your lives be filled with faith, hope, and love.
Image via ebogjonson
--the BB

Making a difference

One of the things that makes December bearable--amid the sense-ravaging and soul-destroying commercialism--is discovering alternative ways to honor God's self-giving in the Incarnation by giving of ourselves. More and more churches have alternative gift bazaars where one can find unique handcrafted items that support local workers in third-world countries or nurture ecologically responsible production. Heifer International and Oxfam and others provide venues to help people feed themselves and become self-supporting. And then opportunities pop up where one may touch lives for the better. I don't know about y'all, but I take heart when I see these opportunities and have a chance to pitch in.

Having rejoined the ranks of the unemployed as of this morning, I may not be able to do much, but I can do my little bit and I am passing on links to a couple of venues where I chipped in my very modest bit today, all courtesy of our fellow bloggers.

Those who visit Grandmère Mimi at Wounded Bird are familiar with the image above. The Dillenkoffer Endowment was established in memory of Mimi's beloved sister Gayle who was a victim of pancreatic cancer. Alyse Gordon, pictured below, was a scholarship finalist this year.

What a wonderful, supportive work. I can recall my own youth when there was no encouragement I knew of for lesbian, gay, bi, or transgender teens. All one typically knew was isolation, fear, and the terrifying sense that one was not only different but "wrong." The courage of youngsters who are willing to be themselves, to be out and proud, is inspiring. A growing awareness that we are ALL just people and we ALL need the freedom to be who we are is both a sign of hope and an ongoing challenge.

You can read more about Alyse and the Dillenkoffer Endowment at Wounded Bird and at FranIAm's blog where she says all the eloquent things I wish I were typing right now.

What's more, you can head on over to the Dillenkoffer Endowment site and make your own contribution.

Then there is THE GREAT 2007 CHRISTMAS APPEAL at OCICBW. MadPriest and That Kaeton Woman have joined forces (and that should scare us right there) to support ministry in the Cidade de Deus (City of God) neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro where seminarian Luiz Coelho has been serving. A PayPal account has been set up. Click on over to Maddie's place to read more about it and don't forget to click that PayPal button and help out. You'll be glad you did.

We intend to be a place where all are welcome to be free, especially in the Cidade de Deus (City of God) neighborhood, where poverty, violence and hunger are so well-known. And in order to live this Gospel of liberation and reconciliation of the entire world through Christ Jesus, we also seek to integrate the Church with society, through several social projects. Our mission is bold: to say that Christ is the King is to say that love has the last word in the midst of this world of calamities. However, we are sure that, with Him, we are victorious. (link)
Frankly, I'm terrible at organizing and social justice work. But I have heard the voices of the prophets and felt the compassionate heart of God and can at least pass the word.

Check out the kids from Christ the King Anglican Church in the Cidade de Deus. As Wikipedia says: "These days Cidade de Deus is infamous as a high crime quarter saddled with social problems." You may have seen the film about it (City of God). You can be part of making a difference there.

--the BB

Sanctified fornicating feces! (HFS for short)

AUSTIN (AP) — The state's director of science curriculum said she resigned this month under pressure from officials who felt she gave the appearance of criticizing the instruction of intelligent design. [USA Today]

Well, that's the state of science instruction in Texas. Now, can we please give Texas back to Mexico?

Wait, I like Mexico.

I have it! Let's give Texas to Greg Venables, the English primate of the Southern Cone. They'd get along famously. If oil reserves run low the remaining 49 United States could periodically invade and occupy the former state and steal the oil, but we wouldn't have to claim Texas or really do anything for it (how's that Iraqi infrastructure doing these days?).

To borrow my mama's phrasing: How can people be so stupid and live?

h/t to John Aravosis at Americablog

UPDATE: In my haste I forgot to mention the amnesty period when sane persons would be allowed to leave Texas before it becomes part of the Southern Cone. Giving them a chance is the only humane thing to do. I'm estimating it at about 3.7 per cent of Texans. Given the population of Texas that's still a lot of fine people and I don't want to tar them with the same brush. I love me some Texans, but they are clearly a minority. And the Crawford "ranch" goes complete with W. He's part of the deal. Good luck, Greg!
--the BB

Counterterrorism? Not a Bush priority

Poster courtesy

Remember the SCWOT (so-called war on terror)? Well, in case you thought the Bush maladministration gave a good goddam about it, let's take note of this from the WaPo today:
Emergency Responders Face Deep Aid Cuts
The Associated Press
Saturday, December 1, 2007; 6:51 AM

WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration intends to slash counterterrorism funding for police, firefighters and rescue departments across the country by more than half next year, according to budget documents obtained by The Associated Press.
The plan calls for outright elimination of programs for port security, transit security, and local emergency management operations in the next budget year. [emphasis mine]

Feeling any safer? Me neither.

They plunge the nation further into debt for the accumulation of power and the profits of their crony corporations, destabilizing the world and leaving us increasingly vulnerable, then this?

Ah, I forget, they have a plan to make us "safer"--taking away our liberties!

Poster courtesy

As some others have begun writing in end-tags: impede, impeach, imprison. They have violated their oath of office and are imperiling the American People.

UPDATE: h/t to BarbinMD at DailyKos who alerted me to the WaPo passage. (I did not mean to omit the acknowledgment in the original post.)
--the BB


Photo from JN1034
An ongoing work of witness (martyria) takes place at JN1034 where, from the perspective of the Orthodox faith, the authors proclaim God's unfailing love for all creation, including God's lesbian and gay children. They are attacked, as one would expect. Yet they continue to proclaim.

It is a joy and encouragement to see the cosmic embrace of Orthodoxy affirmed. So often what we hear is the pinched and condemning side of all our various traditions, drawing lines, excluding, and claiming (daring!) to uphold God's holiness. (Remember Uzzah, y'all?) We do well to remember that God is the all-competent and all-adequate defender of Godself. Our task is to love and reverence God and proclaim God's passionate desire for the sanctification and transformation of all, not to presume that God will suffer without our protection. Sheesh.

Truth and leniency always go together. If you want to separate truth from leniency, separate them for your own self! But then, know it, you will hear the truth without leniency!
— Archimandrite Joel Giannakopoulos

Pray for our Orthodox siblings throughout the world and for the folks at JN1034.
--the BB

Climbing the nearest church steeple

Hunter got a major rant on over at Daily Kos and I can so identify with it.
I can't do it. Maybe it's the cough medication talking. Maybe it's the season. Maybe it's the knowledge that we're about to launch into a new presidency which seems already, by many of the most important measures, to be destined for either completely out-in-the-open Republican insanity or fear-spangled Democratic timidity. But I have Outrage Overload, and I can't manage anything pithy to say about the current environment that doesn't involve just climbing the nearest church steeple and swearing at the top of my lungs.

Right now I just want to run every last reporter and politician on earth through a cheese grater.

--the BB

Friday, November 30, 2007

Through all the contradictions

Christ in Majesty from the Lorsch Gospels
Image via Wikipedia

"The four animals thus signify men who recount the holy, saving riches of Christ."
(My translation of the inscription above. "Men" used because it reads "viros" and not "homines.")

There was definitely a "What??????????" response--from me; I cannot vouch for others--to Padre Mickey's naming me for the Manny (see, no respect, already). In my response to him, however, I wrote: "I give thanks that God is the fixed point around which all I am and all I experience dances."

This remains true, through all the contradictions, the gross impiety and the yearning for holiness. I rely on that fixed point and my relationship to it. I do not rely on myself, or hopes for human progress, or my chums for that deep certainty, though I do rely on them in countless subsidiary ways and in the faith that we are all grasped and held and cherished and assured by that same still point. Those who might think of me as a secular humanist (my conservative family, perhaps) thus miss the mark. If I believe in my fellow humans (and I do) it is because I profoundly believe that God believes in us. And I put far more weight on God's belief in us than in our belief in God.

So there, at the crossing point, in the center of the Medicine Wheel sits Christ enthroned. From each cardinal direction goes out a voice to proclaim the Word that all the world may hear God's eternal Word, God's eternal Yes.

If, in any sense, I am faithful to that Word and its proclamation, my life is well spent.

At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.

—From T. S. Eliot, “Burnt Norton,” stanza II, in Four Quartets

My acrostic poem using the last line and a half of that passage is posted below (for any newcomers).
--the BB

They bring God to us

God clearly has an amazing sense of humor. All we have to do is look around at God's odd children (thanks to Maddie at OCICBW for his midwifery of a question.)

Padre Mickey has nominated this silly spot for a most gracious award. As you read the blurb below you may well wonder how anyone so cantankerous and given to public rants and demonstrable lack of charity could be named for an Emmanuel Award.

Well, the answer is grace. And the blessed and astonishing fact that God comes to us in all our oddness, sin, stubbornness, folly, and illusion. Our sacred tradition is replete with tales of failures and scoundrels and fools through whom God brings saving grace.

The award, so far as I can tell after back-clicking a few times, originated with Marie and Ginny, and how very gracious it was of them to encourage us this way.

On behalf of reprobates and fools for Christ everywhere (if I may make so bold), I say, Thank you, Padre Mickey. Thank you, Sweet Jesus. Thank you, God. Thank you, Lifegiving Spirit. Thank you, Mary, Mother of believers. Thank you Cuthbert, Guilhem, Julian, Magdalen, Raphael, and all the communion of saints. Thank you, all blogging friends (saints here on earth) for visiting, commenting, sharing, and companioning me on our journey.

Emmanuel Award
"God With Us"

In a consumer society it is a blessing to read blogs where the writer's main focus is God. Where they express their love for their faith so visibly and joyfully.In a cynical world it is refreshing to see so many blogs which are generous, giving, who care about others and demonstrate what being a Christian is about, loving God and loving our neighbor.

Through their faith, lives and spirituality, they bring God to us, they in essence make God visible, 'God with us.'

This Award goes to all the faith filled blogs who make evident 'Emmanuel'- God with us, with Joy in their hearts.

Please share this Award with Christian blogs that focus on the real meaning of Christmas, the birth of our Savior.

Peace, JOY & Merry Christmas
As we are beginning to write into a new cliché, one wants to nominate one's blogroll (except mine is a bit too eclectic for all this piety, though they belong too). I am forced, by nascent tradition, to name two.

Jesus comes to me through many but assuredly through Mimi and Tobias. So I nominate for the Emmanuel Award Grandmère Mimi at Wounded Bird and Fr. Tobias Haller, BSG, at In a Godward Direction. My thanks to them for their thoughtful posts (and for Mimi's comments here) and to all my blogging companions.
--the BB

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Friday Prince Blogging

This week we head a bit toward the south, to Savoy and the Italian royal house. Well, sort of. Our prince of the week has been living in Russia. But he's of the House of Savoy.
Coat of Arms of Savoia from Wikipedia

Yes, we are speaking of the Duke of Apulia, otherwise known as Aimone Umberto Emanuele Filiberto Luigi Amadeo Gustavo Elena Maria Fiorenzo of Savoy. [And Mimi may have thought my bear Cocoa had a long name.]

Well, here he is with Princess Olga of Greece. They have been a long-standing item with an elusive date for tying the knot and I don't really know if they've done it yet or not. Speaking of Russia, is Aimone going for the Czar Nicholas II lookalike here? Just asking.

S.A.R. (His Royal Highness) Aimone was born 13 October 1967 (while I was in Montpellier, France on my semester abroad--hmm, in Haute Savoie at one point....). He is the only son of Amedeo the Fifth Duke of Aosta and the last of his line. Perhaps he and Olga should get busy.

His father's official site is here. Amedeo disputes Vittorio Emanuele, Prince of Naples, as to succession to the Italian throne and I rather suspect poor Aimone is of the disgruntled line. At least that is where the other members of the House of Savoy place him (link, in case you read Italian. Check the counterclaims at Amedeo's site at the beginning of this paragraph). Still, if one looks only at the photo just above he at least gets the Leo DiCaprio lookalike award.
Flag of the Kingdom of Italy (not to be confused with the simpler and familiar flag of the Republic of Italy).

Ciao, tutti!
--il BB

More Constitution Blogging

Support the FDNY here.

The Telegraph has an article by Tom Leonard noting a plan to use firefighters to spy on citizens:
Unlike police, firemen and paramedics do not need warrants to get into homes and other buildings during technical inspections of emergency facilities, making them particularly useful for spotting signs of terrorist planning.
The Homeland Security Department has been secretly testing a pilot scheme in New York in which firefighters are trained to identify suspicious material or behaviour. If successful, the programme will be extended to other large cities.

I heard a firefighter call in on the Randi Rhodes show this evening to talk about this. Evidently DHS wants firefighters conducting fire inspections to look at more than wiring, pipes, flooring, etc. with fire and other disasters in mind. They should be noting what books people read, what videos they watch, what is lying around that might be suspicious.

Amendment IV
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Something does not compute. At what point do the People of the United States demand that we restore the rule of law?

h/t Crooks and Liars and Keith Olbermann

Don't get me started

Ah'm gonna hol' mah breath.*
Bush urges Congress to approve war funding before Christmas
--CNN headline

Uh, George. The House passed it. Tell your Republican chums in the Senate to quite obstructing it. Then sign it. You don't like some of the provisions about winding down the Iraq occupation. Well, TS. Cry me a river.

*In my dreams.
--the BB

At the end of the year

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia
It is early evening, a cold and dark November evening, and at sunset the day after tomorrow one Church year will end and another begin.

The hinge of our years, the center of our days and nights, is the ineffable Word spoken into the void, the Light that darkness never understands and cannot overcome: Christ.

Since I have explicitly stated that this is a pagan-friendly site, one may assume my vision of the Christ is a cosmic one. This is also a Muslim-, Hindu-, Buddhist-, Taoist-, indigenous-friendly site as well. I have been formed in one tradition and I have questioned and redefined but never left it. Like a banyan tree, I may have grown from one root but have since put down others. I am nourished from many traditions, as the title of this blog indicates.

My own tradition is betrayed and distorted and misused. And which faith has not been? Yet I believe within it and live from it. I seek its deep truths, not its shallow betrayals. I hope to live from the heart of the Holy, not from some rabid sectarianism. So one need not feel excluded here if I speak from within my own conceptual framework.

I just want to share a little tale, one that has been mentioned here before.

In summer of 1997 I spent two weeks in Durham, living in the University dormitory that was once the Bishop's Castle, and walking across the Green to Durham Cathedral and the shrine of St Cuthbert and the tomb of the Venerable Bede. One day we met with the Cathedral Librarian. he took us to the Muniments Room where treasures are kept and allowed us to carry some of the manuscripts from the vault, through the cloister, and into the library. There we could examine them. Being the largest person in our group I carried the largest book, one that was in a wooden box. Mother Columba and I chanted the Te Deum because it seemed the thing to do processing through a cloister.

When I opened the box I saw a manuscript bound in white goatskin. I opened it. It was the Durham Gospels, one leaf of which is pictured here. I had seen photos. I knew what I held in my hands. This was a book from which the Holy Gospels had been proclaimed in the worship of the community at Lindisfarne, the Holy Isle. I felt a tangible link with that worship, those years of service, that bastion of holiness, that island of saints.

While websurfing today I came across this photo and wanted to share this with you.

Blonde and blue-eyed because depicted by Saxons, I am guessing. So long as we don't consider Saxons normative there is nothing wrong with this. I have written an icon of a Cambodian Christ who looks, well, like Buddha. We must not limit Jesus but we must also meet him in our own place and time. He takes flesh, as the Word has ever taken flesh, in our midst.

So this is my pre-Advent meditation. May the Word surprise you, startle you, exalt you, bless you, overturn you, raise you up again, and transform you. You never know what you may find as you turn a page.
--the BB

Thursday Constitution Blogging

Monsoor Ijaz poses a question to Mitt Romney, Republican primary candidate for President of the United States:

I asked Mr. Romney whether he would consider including qualified Americans of the Islamic faith in his cabinet as advisers on national security matters, given his position that "jihadism" is the principal foreign policy threat facing America today. He answered, "…based on the numbers of American Muslims [as a percentage] in our population, I cannot see that a cabinet position would be justified. But of course, I would imagine that Muslims could serve at lower levels of my administration."

The United States Constitution:

Article. VI.

Clause 3: The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

Questions (for Mr. Romney and all of us):

In what way does considering an American citizen’s religious affiliation as in any way relevant to fitness to serve in government office NOT a religious test? And how could that not be deemed a violation of the Constitution?

In what possible manner can religious demographics be related to justifying cabinet positions without violating the United States Constitution?

Have you ever read the United States Constitution?
--the BB
If you don't think this is a current and vital issue, may I refer you to Leaves on the Current's post at Daily Kos titled "Tonight, the Constitution Died." Writing of the YouTube debate among Republican presidential hopefuls, Leaves notes that someone held up a Bible and asked the candidates if they believed every word in it is true. As Leaves notes, a citizen is free to ask any question. But NOT ONE candidate, nor Anderson Cooper, pointed out Article VI, Clause 3 (cited above). Which might lead one to wonder: Has any Republican candidate for President of the United States read the Constitution? And if they have, does any of them believe in it? There is an oath to be taken, after all (though Bush has demonstrated how lightly that can be taken).
Leaves on the Current writes:
No religious test. None. Yet what we saw tonight was a religious test. A crystal-clear, absolutely open and direct violation of Article VI of the Constitution.

And no one in that roomful of politicians and political experts and politically committed Americans had the courage to say so, or perhaps even the knowledge to recognize it for what it was.
Read the article.

Sports break

Photo via Le Monde Magique d'Harry Potter
where you can read about Quidditch in French.
Yes, fans, this is not a site famous for sports news, but ya gotta hand it to those students at Vassar! Welcome to Quidditch for muggles.

h/t to Towleroad
--the BB

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I paroli perduti

Littlebangtheory has a nice post on words, the loss thereof.

A sample:
And with these words went their meanings. “Compassionate” now means a kind of conservatism which replaces the helping hand with a boot in the ass. “Morals” now means swallowing a peculiar diet of dogma without daring to ask, “What’s in this stuff?” “Values” has become a codeword for a narrow Fundamentalism which preaches the disenfranchisement of any who disagree.

This is no quirk of etymology, no gradual shift in meaning brought on by ignorant mis-usages of nebulous words. This is the willful, blatant theft of ideas, kidnapped from the high ground of hope, dragged into the shadows, taught to kill, and then let loose among us.

Cruise (or cybertransport, or click) on over and read it all. It's a rousing article.
--the BB

get your groove going with the giblet gravy

Paul Cezanne, pommes et oranges
Eileen tipped me to Mary Sue's list (via Elastic Waist) of "Top Ten Comebacks for Well-Meaning but Obnoxious Relatives." We all have some relative or friend who will open mouth and insert foot making a gratuitous comment about eating over the holidays.

Why do people assume that OUR bodies are THEIR business? I find it irritating as a male. The womb-enabled half of the population gets this odious projection compounded by people, usually old men, who want to tell them what to do with their bodies as though being able to bear a child makes you someone else's property. WTF?

If you haven't read the list yet, head on over and enjoy. It starts like this:
Oooh, do you really think you need another biscuit? “I don’t need it. I WANT it.”

I rather think this should be said with a face that implies that the offending party, in the interest of continuing to draw breath on this planet, would do well not to come between that biscuit and oneself. Give them an inch....

[I borrowed the title line from the intro to the list.]
--the BB

Beware flying toilet seats

Pearls Before Swine by Stephen Pastis

Rat is one sick critter, which may be why I am amused by him. This is a little reminder not to get caught up in one's own inflated fantasies.

Actually, it was Over the Hedge that recently ran an inflated fantasy series. But that's another story.

Meanwhile, back on earth, my current contract assignment comes to an end this Friday and I am looking for work again. Prayers gratefully accepted.

Not every day one can use a post title like that, eh?
--the BB

Salva nos, fons pietatis

Officials from 49 nations gathered Tuesday
at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.,
for a one-day conference on Middle East peace.
Photo by Doug Mills/The New York Times
After all the hype and spin about how much President Bush cares about bringing peace to the Middle East, and how he’s worked the phones and listened in preparation, our Commander in Chief took off after spending less than three hours at the summit.

--Logan Murphy at Crooks and Liars

For Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel, left,
and Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president,
a handshake was a starting point.
Photo by Doug Mills/The New York Times

It's just as well the jerkwad went for the photo op and split. With him out of the way the chances of communication, negotiation, and progress increase by huge orders of magnitude.

I do pray for the success of this and any attempt to resolve longstanding problems in the Middle East, yearning for that brilliant combination of justice, compromise, reconciliation, and agreement that will allow people to live side by side in peace. I also pray for the day that pathetic narcissist leaves office, and that it will hasten. (Cf. #3 of things I am thankful for.)

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem...and the entire region and the rest of the world.
--the BB

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Just because


Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us--that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion--that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.

--Abraham Lincoln

Follow-up new from the Philippines

The Rev. Rex Reyes, who has labored on behalf of the disappeared in the Philippines was elected General Secretary of the National Council of Churches of the Philippines (NCCP). You can read more over at Preludium where Mark Harris, who knows Rex, gives more details.

--the BB

Monday, November 26, 2007

Behold the King!

Via Dolorosa
Kent Wahlbeck, 1994

HERR, gedenke an mich, wenn du in dein Reich kommst!

--the BB

A day late

and God only knows how many trillion dollars short. Still, it seems timely.

So many blogs have wonderful thoughts, sermons, and reflections on what the reign of Christ means or might mean to the world and in our lives. Thanks to all who share.

Alas, I do not remember whence I got this photo. Happy to give credit upon notification.
--the BB

Tuesday Prayer Blogging

Christ mandala
Nalini Jayasuriya
Sri Lanka

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 2:6-7, Ezekiel 47, Revelation 22. The themes of fire and water mingle in the Orthodox liturgies of the Feast of the Theophany.
--the BB

And the thanks goes on....

FranIAm has picked up the thankfulness meme in the most wonderful pictorial essay (words too!) and graciously blogrolled me. I hereby return the favor.

Many who visit here already know FranIAm from either her blog or her comments posted in places many of us visit. If you haven't met her, click on over. She's one of my fellow purple brain people (and if you just dropped in, doesn't that just sound scary as hell?).

Let's hear it for gratefulness. We are a people of ευχαριστια (eucharistia: thanksgiving).

Meanwhile, Kirstin is giving thanks for things she's no longer afraid of (or is making significant progress). Hooray!

Peace out,
--the BB

The real thing

Full Moon Rising over the Rio Grande
24 November 2007

Thanks to Anne-Marie and Sue we have a photo from Saturday's retreat. Heaps of gratitude to them.

Hau, Hanhepiwi!
--the BB

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Yes. Another one of those things.

Photo from here

As a freshman in college I fell in love with T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land. I read it over and over, aloud, savoring the words, the sounds, the rhythms, the images. The quiz results below made me think of "the violet hour."

At the violet hour, when the eyes and back
Turn upward from the desk, when the human engine waits
Like a taxi throbbing waiting,
I Tiresias, though blind, throbbing between two lives,
Old man with wrinkled female breasts, can see
At the violet hour, the evening hour that strives
Homeward, and brings the sailor home from sea,
The typist home at teatime, clears her breakfast, lights
Her stove, and lays out food in tins.
Out of the window perilously spread
Her drying combinations touched by the sun's last rays,
On the divan are piled (at night her bed)
Stockings, slippers, camisoles, and stays.
I Tiresias, old man with wrinkled dugs
Perceived the scene, and foretold the rest—
I too awaited the expected guest.
He, the young man carbuncular, arrives,
A small house agent's clerk, with one bold stare,
One of the low on whom assurance sits
As a silk hat on a Bradford millionaire.
The time is now propitious, as he guesses,
The meal is ended, she is bored and tired,
Endeavours to engage her in caresses
Which still are unreproved, if undesired.
Flushed and decided, he assaults at once;
Exploring hands encounter no defence;
His vanity requires no response,
And makes a welcome of indifference.
(And I Tiresias have foresuffered all
Enacted on this same divan or bed;
I who have sat by Thebes below the wall
And walked among the lowest of the dead.)
Bestows on final patronising kiss,
And gropes his way, finding the stairs unlit...

She turns and looks a moment in the glass,
Hardly aware of her departed lover;
Her brain allows one half-formed thought to pass:
'Well now that's done: and I'm glad it's over.'
When lovely woman stoops to folly and
Paces about her room again, alone,
She smoothes her hair with automatic hand,
And puts a record on the gramophone.

I owe this one to FranIAm. Her brain is purple too.

Your Brain is Purple

Of all the brain types, yours is the most idealistic.
You tend to think wild, amazing thoughts. Your dreams and fantasies are intense.
Your thoughts are creative, inventive, and without boundaries.

You tend to spend a lot of time thinking of fictional people and places - or a very different life for yourself.

I have to say, this one is spot on, as my readers may well surmise. Intense dreams? Can we say cast of thousands, huge scene crews, and Technicolor? Move over, Mr. DeMille.

Flowers from here
--the BB

And the thanks goes on... on and on and on

Arctostaphylus uva ursi, 22 February 2003

Kirstin at Barefoot and Laughing has tagged me, so here goes:

Here are the rules, from John at SmuloSpace (the same guy who brought you 5 Things I Dig About Jesus):

• Write down five things that you're thankful for.

• Tag five friends who you'd like to see participate in this meme.

• (Optional) Include a link to the original at SmuloSpace in your post, and then visit the post yourself and place a link to your completed meme in the comments section so John can keep track of the thankfulness running around the blogosphere.

  1. My new electric blanket from Costco. Years ago I bought one that didn’t work and it was too much bother to return and exchange (retailers count on this when they do shoddy quality control). This one works and it has a pre-heat function so on cold nights I jump into a warm bed (and snuggle up with my largest teddy bear, but you really didn’t want to know that, did you?). [What? You expected lofty? You have no idea how grateful I currently am for that blanket. First thing that popped into my mind.]
  2. Finding a home in the Anglican Communion. I will also be thankful when the moralizing malcontents haul their grumpy asses out of it and we can get on with life and the mission to which Christ calls us. [It would be nice if they'd STFU on their way out the door. And yes, you are to go out the door, you don't keep buildings and other items that belong to the Episcopal Church. I give to other charitable institutions but I don't presume that I own anything about them.]
  3. Learning that I don’t have to be nice all the time (see #2 above). I regret that it took me so long to learn this. Nice cloys. Nice sucks. Nice accomplishes very little and destroys authenticity. If you’re a “nice” addict, seek professional help. You will much happier and more real.
  4. January 1, 1978.
  5. The glory of creation.

Some of us, including moi-même, are averse to tagging others. So, grab the baton, run with it, and pass it on if you feel called to do so.

It’s all about vocation.
--the BB

Sunday Morning Reflections

Jeremiah 23:1-6

Canticle 16 or Psalm 46

Colossians 1:11-20

Luke 23:33-43

Christ in Majesty from the Codex Amiatinus (Wikipedia Commons)

We have come to the Last Sunday after Pentecost (aka the Solemnity of the Reign of Christ). Some thoughtful folks I know really dislike this Sunday because of its imagery of domination. I believe their distaste indicates that they have actually heard Jesus and paid attention.

While we borrow ancient imagery from oriental potentates to call him King of kings and Lord of lords, Jesus turns around to challenge our understanding of sovereignty. The examples we have to work with leave something to be desired in the eyes of God.

Therefore thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who shepherd my people: It is you who have scattered my flock, and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. So I will attend to you for your evil doings, says the LORD. (Jeremiah 23:2)

Accustomed to “pastoral” imagery in church contexts, we tend to think of these shepherds as clergy, perhaps the priests of the Temple in Jerusalem, but in the ancient Near East shepherd imagery was attached to rulers. This is why Psalm 23 (The LORD is my shepherd) is translated in Latin as “Dominus regit me” (the LORD reigns over me). [Click on "Psalm 23" to hear the tune by the Latin name, which we know as the hymn "The King of love my Shepherd is.")

The imagery exists in the mythology of Dumuzi (Tammuz), the dying-and-rising shepherd god and consort of Inana, who is variously identified with local kings (background, p. 96) and in the designation of the Hyksos as “shepherd kings” in Egypt.

Mosaic ikon of Christ Pantokrator in La Martorana, Palermo, Sicily
Image by ChrisO, April 2006 (via Wikipedia)

“I’m a uniter, not a divider.” (George W. Bush)

It is you who have scattered my flock, and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. (The LORD, the God of Israel)

[I know y’all could make this link without me but I could not pass it by and remain subtle.]

Rulers may assume they have unfettered rights but our faith tradition considers them answerable to God. We all tend to think we are commissioned and empowered by the Holy for whatever it is we want to do; we prefer not to think we are to be judged by the Holy for what we do. It is evidently the way we are, rulers and governed alike.

I have done lots of preaching, telling people they are commissioned and empowered by God. I hope that in doing so I have always stressed that we are commissioned and empowered to do God’s will and work, not our own.

Actually, if George really believed in what he said (cited above) and lived into it, he would have found himself doing the work of God’s reign—engaged in reconciliation, healing divides, building alliances, bringing social structures into alignment with the good of the people, the good of nations, and the good of the earth. This is because uniting is precisely the work God calls us to. It is the supreme work of Christ in which we share.

For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross. (Colossians 1:19-20)

Q. What is the mission of the Church? A. The mission of the Church is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ. (The Catechism, BCP page 854)

The sovereignty that desires unity is not, however, a sovereignty that seeks its own glory. Those of us who believe that Jesus reveals God to us see God’s power linked to God’s love, God’s justice to God’s mercy, God’s holiness to God’s desire to redeem and sanctify and thus to God’s compassion. The divine might is manifested in self-emptying, not in self-aggrandizement (Philippians 2:5-11).

Jesus comes to us as a servant, a slave, not a ruler, and calls us to serve each other. No wonder he could tell Pilate (in the Gospel for this Sunday in another year) that his kingdom is not of this world, not defined by this world’s values and power structures.

And so we see, in one of those delicious and profound literary ironies, that those who mock Jesus, this alleged king dying on a Roman cross, are actually pointing toward the most profound truth. “He saved others,” they jeer, “let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!" (Luke 23:35)

It is precisely as God’s chosen, as the one anointed to rule in God’s way and for God’s purposes, that he will not save himself, for only in renouncing the false path can he be true to God’s design and effectively save others.

I have posted at length on the choice between the path of Jesus and the path of Caesar, the way of power and dominion versus the way of the Cross. It is a central theme in the Christian Scriptures and speaks to every aspect of our life and all our daily choices. It underlies the stories in my fiction and fires my political passions. So I will conclude this morning’s reflections with links to posts since those who are new to this blog may have missed them.

Satan’s Throne

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Assisi souvenirs, photo by zyance (Wikipedia)
I also want to repeat the invitation to do some dreaming with me. As I wrote not too long ago:

It seems I never get away from the abiding question: who is Lord, Jesus or Caesar? Our answer obviously determines how we live.


If you were to imagine a new faith, or an old faith that you could embrace with joy, what might it look like?

What would be your John 3:16?

Your Lord's (or Lady's) Prayer?

What would be (or already are) the virtues of your favorite saint?
I didn’t get any responses the first time. Do I need to make this one of those tag games? Well, not tagging anyone, just inviting.

Have a blessed Lord’s Day.
--the BB