Saturday, December 29, 2007


Today's update includes comments from jimB in response to a post at OCICBW about "INNOCENTS IN AN UNHOLY WORLD":
In the time it takes the average Episcopal sermon to get to its hearers, call it ten - twelve minutes, worldwide, over 200 children die of preventable causes traced to water born disease or or water scarcity issues. Just water and our negligence dose that. Then we get to abuse, starvation, industrial accidents, and the toll rises.

The same people who shout about abortions are strangely quiet about what happens to kids once born. Where indeed is the outrage as the children suffer and die?

The child labor situation just appalls me. We are part of a conspiracy that puts our prices ahead of their lives.

It is time to ignore the Southern Cone heads and raise some serious hell about this in the public view. We shall always have the poor and the stupid with us, but we can do something about the poor. If nothing less, we can make poverty more bearable.

And our current total is not much changed:

The OCICBW... Community Christmas Appeal this year is raising money to help pay for the work being done by the Anglican Church of Christ the King in the City Of God district of Rio De Janeiro. Full details about the project and how to send your gifts can be found HERE.
You may read the update, find a Paypal button for donation, and see a photo of Father Eduardo at Cristo Rei here.
--the BB

On the fifth day of Christmas

Blogging may be a bit slow this weekend. I shall be picking up a house guest from the airport later tonight (yes, flight delays, etc.) and we anticipate being busy tomorrow. Sunday afternoon I will be heading up to Santa Fe with a chum and partying a bit there.

Play nicely with one another.

Be civil, but don't roll over and make nice with renegade bishops and other fundamental apertures. In fact, you may politely tell them where they can shove their miters, but you probably shouldn't. Jesus, being a carpenter and all, is probably selecting just the right 2x4 to whack them upside the head with, in which case miters become irrelevant. To paraphrase Nancy Reagan: Just say No to abuse!

I am looking at the moon through the mini-blinds right now. Hau, Hanwi!

Perhaps if you're very good, or I'm very naughty, I will tell you my little story of the Holy Innocents and the beartoons.

Time to log out for a while.
--the BB

Yes, there is a lot of Hermione in me

Mimi has noticed I was the kid who'd done his homework and wanted to answer every question. That's Hermione, all right.

Of course, that was from kindergarten through high school. In college I was surrounded by very bright people and started playing more and studying less. Still made it out cum laude but only by trying to haul grades back up in my senior year. My academic efforts thenceforth have been spotty. Sometimes I work manically and others I slack and try to fake it. Very inconsistent. But still, I do confess it, intellectually competitive.

I don't remember doing this one but I'm getting senile.

Your Harry Potter Alter Ego Is...?
created with
You scored as Hermione Granger

You're one intelligent witch, but you have a hard time believing it and require constant reassurance. You are a very supportive friend who would do anything and everything to help her friends out.

Albus Dumbledore


Hermione Granger


Remus Lupin


Harry Potter


Ginny Weasley


Sirius Black


Ron Weasley


Severus Snape


Draco Malfoy


Lord Voldemort


So, 30% Voldemort, eh? Nice to know I have a little bite in me.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Why hasn't this m**********r been impeached?

So, it seems George W. Bush deems the Senate to have adjourned even though it hasn't. So he gets to ignore or distort the Constitution by claiming a pocket veto for H.R. 1585.

Kagro X at Daily Kos writes:

Because the bill has so much in it for veterans and active members of the Armed Forces, Bush apparently doesn't dare sign an affirmative veto. Instead, he'll pretend it... just went away on its own.


Not only that, but you may recall that the Senate has remained in session all this time explicitly to prevent trickery like this....

But not in Bushworld. In Bushworld, these sessions don't count. Because he says so.

And if Bush thinks the Senate's sessions don't count, what's stopping him from making recess appointments?

Read about it here.

If he is this ignorant of the laws of this land, he should not be in office. If he is this unwilling to acknowledge that he is bound by the laws of this land, he should be removed from office. If he had two functioning brain cells to rub together, I would conclude he is evil. In any case he is an utter disaster for this nation and the world.

And Nancy's doing fuck-all. See here. To think, I was once excited to see a woman speaker and Pelosi in particular. Now I am simply disgusted with Congressional Dems. What was the point of a spectacular victory in November 2006? (Pelosi said it was "subpoena power." What a pathetic joke that has turned out to be when the White House ignores congressional subpoenas and nobody does a damn thing about it.)

I. Just. Want. Him. Out. Of. Office.

And every week that goes by I find it harder to be civil about it.
Marcy Wheeler asks about this sudden veto here. Digby wonders about it also here and adds some interesting comments by a reader here.

We are reminded that vetoed bills are returned to the house that originates them and though the Senate has remained in session it seems the House has not. So the little shit could pull this off.

Meanwhile, bear in mind that this is the defense appropriations bill that he's been having hissyfits over, stomping his feet and whining that Congress wasn't getting it to him. The surface reasons for his vetoing it just don't sound sufficient so there is speculation that it might be something like a section of the bill that would require releasing information to oversight committees. If he signed that into law then he would have trouble withholding, oh, say, information on waterboarding or something.

Would Bush sabotage military funding to protect his own ass? Sacrifice out troops to keep himself out of prison?

In a heartbeat.
--the BB

Fran tempted me, but it's really my own fault

FranIAm got tagged with a meme: to tell seven untrue facts about oneself. She played along like a good sport, tagged some others (while giving them right of refusal) and invited those who felt so inclined to play along too.

Well, how can I claim to write fiction and not want to do something so silly?

So, here it is:
1. I am the love child of the late Prince GustavAdolf Oscar Fredrik Arthur Edmund, Duke of Västerbotten, and an anonymous New England commoner of German descent, as they celebrated the surrender of Japan. My legitimate half-brother was born eight days before me and is the current King of Sweden. My adoptive father was very proud of the family legend that his mother’s line traces back to Axel Oxenstierna, Count of Södermöre and Lord High Chancellor of Sweden from 1612 until his death in 1654. Dad never lived to learn his son is the half-uncle of today’s blogging prince. (Which means, of course, that I can have no intentions upon HRH. Ucky!)

2. In the 1970s I founded a small off-shoot Baptist denomination with liturgical tendencies, St Irenaeus Orthodox Baptist Fellowship, but the group faded when we could find no one in apostolic succession who would make me a bishop. I gave up that dream and became an Episcopalian instead.

3. I have seventeen published erotic novels under nine different pseudonyms though the payment therefrom hardly justified the effort. Even my best friends do not know about this (or they didn’t until I clicked “publish.”)

4. I have visited three countries not reflected in the stamps on my passport and the less said of those incidents the better. Valerie Wilson and I once posed as a married couple but Joe has nothing to worry about. (No one bought it but we did successfully pass as a couple pretending to be married for personal rather than political reasons and all was well.)

5. I was nowhere near the Oak Room of the Plaza Hotel on the night of April 27, 1973, and the rumors that I was are unqualifiedly false. I do not know a Mr. Blackmun and have no links to the diamond trade.

6. Through the miracles of modern technology I have managed to remove the tattoo on my knuckles acquired during my summer in Fresno County Juvenile Hall. It was merely a survival technique in that environment and meant nothing. Thanks to my size I was nobody’s bitch in juvie.

7. “The Mystery of Appleton’s Orchard,” my first short story for children, was a distant contender for a Caldecott thanks to the brilliant illustrations of watercolorist Daisy Fegnor. Alas, distant contenders don’t get mentioned in the public records.

I am delighted to add that several true, or partially true, items are mingled in with this little foray into prevarication, which makes it more delicious.

All may, none must, some should play along.
--the BB

Friday Prince Blogging

One of the world's most eligible royals (according to an article of 9/3/2007)

I know I've said that I feel like a Mediterranean or a Latin in a Swedish body and don't resonate a whole lot with Scandinavia. I don't do coffee or herring or lutfisk. Still....

Time to celebrate roots. My grandfather came from Nykroppa and my grandmother from Stockholm. My breakfast this morning was toast made from limpa that I baked myself.

He sails, he skis, he races cars, and he's into photography and design. He was born first in line to the Swedish throne but the laws were changed, promptly moving his older sister into that slot. It's that hunk from the House of Bernadotte, HRH Carl Philip of Sweden!

Born in the royal palace, Stockholm, on May 13th 1979

Their Royal Highnesses Prince Carl Philip, Princess Madeleine, Crown Princess Victoria, and their Majesties Queen Silvia and King Carl XVI Gustav.
From a video of the King's birthday celebration
Even princes get scruffy sometimes
Carl Philip and Orlando Bloom: separated at birth?
Men vad i... Kolla in, vår hunk-prins Carl Philip och filmhjälten Orlando Bloom är kusligt lika! Samma ögon, samma näsa - till och med samma frisyr. Vad tycker du? [source] Same eyes, same nose.... What do you think?

Attending the royal wedding of Prince Fredrik of Denmark with his sisters

Image from Wikipedia
Carl Philip Edmund Bertil, Prince of Sweden, Duke of Värmland, was born on 13 May 1979.

He is the second oldest child of King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia. He has two sisters, Crown Princess Victoria and Princess Madeleine.
Prince Carl Philip has a naval education and became a Lieutenant in December 2004.
In May 2006 Prince Carl Philip finished a two-year course in Graphic Design at Forsbergs School of Design.

(from the official Royal Swedish website)
Hobbies: art, scouting (when he was younger), sports (athletics, motor sports, football, tennis, skiing, swimming), hunting and nature. He has a racing licence of the Swedish Motor Sport Association.


Image from the Carl Philip website

The Washington Post reported last January that Prince Carl Philip slipped into town on a work assignment and back out again without drawing attention. He was working with National Geographic.
All that globe-hopping meant no chance to flirt with the Swedish Prince Charming -- but then, he's already spoken for. Carl's been dating Emma Pernald for about eight years now, and is waiting only until big sis picks a husband before tying the knot.

So, sorry ladies, it appears he's rather taken.

I want to close with one paragraph from the King's Christmas address:
There must be a ways to live side by side in a mutual respect for each other’s differences. We should try to keep this vision alive.
--the BB

When a city of eight million shuts down

Photo source: ABC News Australia

Juan Cole shares last night's toll in Karachi following the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto:
Number of vehicles burned: 150
Number of streets where tires were set afire: 26
Number of banks set on fire: 16
Number of gas stations torched: 13
Number of persons shot dead: 10
Number of persons injured: 68
Number of PIA flights coming in: 0
Number of shops and businesses closed: Most

Let's imagine sixteen banks set on fire last night in New York. And no flights coming into the airports. Not good.

Cole, who is a professor of Middle Eastern history, concludes his post with this:
Folks, I've seen civil wars and riots first hand, and revolutions from not too far away, and this situation looks pretty bad to me.

Remember, this is one of the nuclear nations. Bhutto's party were moderates. The guy currently in charge declared martial law recently and flouted the Supreme Court. Pakistan harbors bin Laden, coddles the guy who gave nuclear secrets to North Korea, has a very small but militant minority faction, and is someplace we do not want chaos. The country is now in turmoil. President Musharraf is a highly problematic figure in all this though if he were to leave the scene there might be the sort of vacuum in which far worse things might happen, including nuclear weapons coming into the hands of renegades and terrorists, the very real fear that lies behind so much posturing these days.

Turmoil serves tyrants well; look at how well our wannabe-emperor George IV does, manipulating and reinforcing every threat (real of fabricated) to increase his power and reduce the rights and powers of the people.

Not good. Not good at all.

Bhutto was not untainted by corruption but she was a moderate and democratic voice. Her assassination is a great loss on many levels.

Glenn Greenwald at Salon has some cautionary comments:
Finally, for those questioning why I'm not writing about Benazir Bhutto's death, I try not to write about topics unless I think I have something to say about them worth saying. What's there to say at this point? Nobody even knows yet who is responsible for her assassination; it's been less than 24 hours since it occurred; Pakistan is an incredibly complex country; and none of this is susceptible to facile, instantaneous analysis, despite how prevalent such analysis is.

For those demanding to read something, here is among the best commentaries I've read, from former intelligence officer A.J. Rossmiller, who warns against "any kind of rush to judgment." I also think the claims about how this is going to alter everything in our elections are vastly overstated.

Contrary to the prevailing views of our political and media elite -- virtually all of whom seem eager to debate how we should best resolve Pakistan's problems: demand elections? get rid of Musharraf? find a replacement for Bhutto? -- that country isn't our protectorate or our colony and I doubt that the average American voter wants candidates to prove that they can best manage Pakistan's internal political mess. We have substantial messes of our own and I suspect voters are more interested in how candidates will manage those.

--the BB

Sorry about the third day of Christmas

When the French hens are on strike there is little one can do.

--the BB

On the fourth day of Christmas

Image from here

A couple of weeks ago I went to the movies with two friends. We saw the trailer for the movie Atonement. There was one brief shot, perhaps no more than two seconds, of a soldier walking through a field of red poppies. Those who read this blog know that I am easily given to tears and red poppies are a sure trigger of my feelings about dead soldiers. I just lost it in an instant. Fortunately, my ex was sitting next to me and held my hand for the next five minutes as I settled down. No explanation was needed.

It certainly seemed like the sort of rich, beautiful, haunting, elegiac British film one wants to see (well, some of us, anyway). Here is the synopsis from the film site:
The film opens in England in 1935, on the hottest day of the year. In the looming shadow of World War II Briony Tallis and her family live a life of wealth and privilege in their enormous Victorian Gothic mansion.

As the family gathers for the weekend the combination of the oppressive heat and long suppressed emotions coming to the surface create an ominous sense of threat and danger.

Briony, a fledgling writer, is a girl with a vivid imagination. Through a series of catastrophic misunderstandings she accuses Robbie Turner, the housekeeper's son and lover of her sister Cecilia, of a crime he did not commit.
The movie is stunning. Whether we are talking about direction, acting, cinematography, sets, costumes, or concept. I have not read Ian McEwan's novel, so cannot speak to the adaptation, though reviewers have both praised and pooh-poohed the translation to screen.

I was concerned that it would be a two-hanky movie. While other friends and I had a box of tissues with us when we saw Schindler's List, I had only one bandana to get me through this. I was fine, even in the war scenes, though moved. Then came the final scenes with Vanessa Redgrave as the aged Briony, followed by Cecilia and Robbie behaving playfully on the Dover coast.

I lost it throughout that and all the credits, in a way far beyond the usual good cry at a film. I automatically describe my reaction to friends with words like "slice" and "probe" and "cut too close to the bone." In other words, it reached deep inside me to a very vulnerable and sacred place.

Peter Travers reviews the movie in the December 13, 2007, issue of Rolling Stone and concludes thus:
In the end, Wright brings Atonement back to words, words with the force of ideas behind them. The older Briony (Vanessa Redgrave) is giving a TV interview about her latest novel. Redgrave isn't onscreen for very long. She doesn't need to be. Held in fierce close-up, she demonstrates what great acting is. And her words, reflecting on life's tendency to wound and art's propensity to heal, cut to the quick. Behind her shocking revelations lies a puzzle: Can an artist make amends for her sins through her art? Where Atonement is concerned, the only sin would be to miss it.
I had chatted with a friend last week about this review snippet. She is a fellow writer. Part of the issue is atonement but it was a larger ramification that got to me.

As writers we try to express truth, or a specific truth, or something true. If we write fiction, we do it by writing all manner of lies (making things up, playing with them, embellishing here, omitting there, leading and misleading the reader). In the process we attempt to further the world's co-creation and its healing. Granted, that is not every writer's perspective but I think it is shared by many. We try to make sense of the disjointed chaos around us, to heal what is broken, ennoble what is degraded, or at the very minimum provide some new perspective or insight that helps us live with reality. The issue raised at the end of the movie is whether we can truly do any of that.

I know that my fantasy fiction attempts to offer ways we might, in our present reality, perceive and behave differently. I do it by telling tales fabricated from all manner of fragments. (And here I recall how struck I was as a freshman in college by the phrase "these fragments have I shored against my ruins" in The Waste Land.) Among the many fragments assembled in my stories are bits and pieces from my own life, mostly in metathemes and small motifs rather than in any narrative sense. So, even in fiction of the "sword and sorcery" genre, there is an autobiographical element in accordance with the old dictum: "write what you know." I re-tell my own life in an indirect manner in order to make sense of it, to heal old wounds, to enable new possibilities, to find redemption.

The question remains: Can we truly do any of that?

I knew all that before watching the film. Having it exposed so poignantly, so beautifully, so tragically, so eloquently....

Close to the bone indeed.

Yes, I'm recommending the film, though I hope your hankies fare better than mine.
--the BB

Thursday, December 27, 2007


Maddy gives us the new figure:
Movin' on up!

Our new total is:


The OCICBW... Community Christmas Appeal this year is raising money to help pay for the work being done by the Anglican Church of Christ the King in the City Of God district of Rio De Janeiro. Full details about the project and how to send your gifts can be found HERE.

Keep those checks and Paypal donations coming in, folks!

And thanks to all who have contributed.
--the BB

May we discuss disappointment?

I do not usually include here comments by the Rude Pundit because his tirades are so, well, rude. Which is why I love them. Some folks have a gift for saying what we're all thinking. The Rude One has a gift for saying what I am feeling. The language is unbridled (= obscene, blasphemous, creative, colorful, and highly offensive) and I love reading it.

Today I am going to share two paragraphs because they are informative and capture well the hypocrisy of the weasel in the Oval Office:
This year, though, Bush said, "I am disappointed in the way the Congress compiled this legislation, including abandoning the goal I set early this year to reduce the number and cost of earmarks by half. Instead, the Congress dropped into the bill nearly 9,800 earmarks that total more than $10 billion. These projects are not funded through a merit-based process and provide a vehicle for wasteful Government spending." You got that? See, finally, after years of winking and letting the Republican-led Congress tear through money like a Blackwater Humvee through the streets of Kirkuk, Bush made it a "goal" to cut earmarks in half.
By the way, the Bush administration considers FY 2005 as the "benchmark" for cutting earmarks by that magical 50%. As they were at least a little frightened of losing power in the upcoming election, in 2004, the Republican-led Congress acted like meth-addicted looters after an earthquake: "In fiscal year 2005, there were 13,492 earmarks totaling $18,944,327,000 for appropriations accounts." This year, in the first budget under the new Democratic-led Congress, there were, as Bush said, "nearly 9,800 earmarks" that came in at a little more than $10 billion. By any measure, that's a big damn cut. So, really and truly, George W. Bush and the bags of douche, who wander around like lamed bitch chihuahuas whining about "earmarks," can go eat a bowl of fuck.

I couldn't say it any better myself.
--the BB

Wolves in shepherds' clothing

Motto of the "Anglican" Diocese of San Joaquin /
verse from Matthew

I am borrowing the following wholesale from Fr. Jake. Many of the people who visit here follow his posts also. I trust they will know why I want to help get this out into the public consciousness.

Southern Cone Attempts to Remove Episcopal Vicar
You can read about the recent events at St. Nicholas Episcopal Church in Atwater, California on December 23 here and here.

The following email was received by St. Nicholas Episcopal Church on Christmas morning:

Dear Jo and Deacon Buck,

The attached document is the letter notifying Fr. Risard that his deployment at St. Nicholas is now over. We wish you to know that the Bishop and the Diocese are fully behind the continuation of your church in Atwater and will do all that we are able to support you during this transition.

There are many details to take care of, and many questions which you probably have for the Bishop or me.

The most important Directions from the Bishop to accomplish immediately include:

Change the exterior locks immediately, including the interior lock to the priest's offices and any file cabinets.

Retrieve the bank statements of any accounts that Fr. Risard had signature authority to: the discretionary account, and any other accounts.

Notify me of any minutes from past Bishop's Committee meetings for the past three months and forward them to me. This is especially important if there are commitments made to Mr. Michael Glass, an attorney referenced in the letter of Fr. Risard to the Bishop.

We will assume that the Deacon will be able to lead worship for a short period of time, especially this next Sunday. Reserved sacrament will be provided by the Rural Dean, Fr. Ron Parry, or by me if necessary.

Our prayers are with you during this time of transition.

Yours faithfully,
The Rev. Canon Bill Gandenberger

Mark has provided us with some additional information:

Fr. Fred has removed himself from the church building, but is reorganizing the mission to meet in another location. This will match what is happening in Turlock, Bakersfield, and other places. We who are loyal to the Episcopal Church will continue to support Fr. Fred and his congregation.

On Christmas morning. They are using the season of "Peace on Earth" as a cover for their most nefarious actions.

What are the stories of events in Turlock, Bakersfield and Tracy? We need those reports. And we need a team in there now to stop this blatant pillaging by the Southern Cone.

From Ezekiel 34:
1 The word of the LORD came to me: 2 "Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them: 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Woe to the shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? 3 You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. 4 You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. 5 So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals. 6 My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them.

7 " 'Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD : 8 As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, because my flock lacks a shepherd and so has been plundered and has become food for all the wild animals, and because my shepherds did not search for my flock but cared for themselves rather than for my flock, 9 therefore, O shepherds, hear the word of the LORD : 10 This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock. I will remove them from tending the flock so that the shepherds can no longer feed themselves. I will rescue my flock from their mouths, and it will no longer be food for them.
I should like to note that even soldiers are legally required to disobey unlawful orders.

The thing I wish to say most forcefully about this is that an appropriate model here is abuse. The first goal--after breaking through denial that abuse is happening--is to stop the abuse and prevent it from recurring. Until you put an end to the abuse, by one means or another, talking about it and trying to help the abuser see the error of such behavior and still allowing abuse to happen is hardly effective. You stop the abuse. Then you can talk. You may understand how the abuse arose (most abusers are themselves victims of abuse) but you don't excuse it. And if one hopes for healing, one does not rush to forgiveness because doing so minimizes what has happened and may preclude full acknowledgment and thus be counterproductive to true healing.
--the BB

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


Jonathan provides an update at OCICBW:

The appeal will run until the 6th. January, 2008 at which point the PayPal facility will close. We will then wait seven days for any last minute cheques to turn up and then the money will be transferred, in full, to Christ the King in Rio. After that, any monies that turn up will be divided equally between That Kaeton Woman and myself and will be spent on riotous living.

So, time is now of the essence. If you have been considering making a donation then consider your arm well and truly twisted and make that donation while your brain is still nicely befuddled by Christmas good cheer. Or, maybe, like me, you are waiting for your pay cheque to come in at the end of this month, having blown last month's supporting western capitalism at its most grasping. If so, you will still have six full days to make your donation.

And don't forget, it's the dribs and drabs that count (even I believe that bit in the Bible). The OCICBW... Community Appeal doesn't turn away anything, not even the most meagre widow's mite (heck - we'd snatch her hand off!).

There is also a letter from Fr. Eduardo at Cristo Rei (Christ the King Anglican Church) plus a video of the children singing.

The OCICBW... Community Christmas Appeal this year is raising money to help pay for the work being done by the Anglican Church of Christ the King in the City Of God district of Rio De Janeiro. Full details about the project and how to send your gifts can be found HERE.

So join the fun and experience the joy. Click and follow the links to donate. And thanks!
--the BB

On the second day of Christmas

St Stephen depicted by Carlo Crivelli on the Demidoff
, 1476 (source
Wikipedia Commons)

As if we didn't have enough challenges with relatives getting drunk at Christmas, today the deacon gets stoned. Life is never simple.
When Stephen, young and doomed to die,
fell crushed beneath the stones,
he had no no curse nor vengeful cry
for those who broke his bones;
but only in his heart a flame
and on his lips a prayer
that God, in sweet forgiveness' name,
should understand and spare.

--Hymn # 243, The Hymnal 1982
words by Jan Struther (1901-1953), alt.

Ormonde Plater has a nice post up on Stephen, as does Grandmère Mimi at Wounded Bird. I shan't try to add a third, I just wanted to get in that terrible pun.

I would like to say, on this feast of the first martyr, how grateful I am for deacons and the restoration of the diaconate in our time. I have seen deacons ministering faithfully in the world and in the church, bridging the two, diligent heralds of the Gospel. On Christmas Eve I got to be the "servant of the servant," holding the Gospel Book for Deacon Karly as she sang the Christmas Gospel.

This puts me in mind of Christmas Eve 1989. I was a freshly-minted transitional deacon (don't get me started on that, I do NOT view the diaconate as a stepping-stone to priesthood and support both per saltem ordination for presbyters and the full independence and integrity of the sacred order of deacons), and thus had the chance to chant the Christmas Gospel at St Mark's, Berkeley. I had donated a brass-bound Gospel Book to St Mark's in memory of my mother. This meant I would be holding that particular Gospel Book as I chanted. That might have been challenge enough. But the last time I had seen my mother (barely) conscious was on Christmas Eve a few years earlier, just before her death, and in the hospital room I read to her the Christmas Story from Luke.

So, as I practiced the Gospel tone in the week leading up to Christmas I kept breaking into tears. I wondered how I would make it through at the Midnight Mass.

God, in her mercy, gave me something else to think about when the time came. I was, blessedly, rather thoroughly cried out by the time Christmas arrived. The more immediate challenge now was being in decent voice late at night with incense swirling in the air. As we concluded the sequence hymn I unthinkingly began the chant on the concluding note of the hymn. This was right near the very top of my range, so as the words "The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Luke" came out of my mouth for the congregation to hear and respond to, my mind was uttering "holy shit I'm never going to get through this." Well, I did, though the strain on my mind and vocal cords was considerable. And several musically savvy folks in the choir, recognizing what had happened (these are the folks who pay attention to pitch, after all) were having the same silent thoughts I was. We were all relieved when I made it to the end.

If your true love happened to give you a partridge in a pear tree yesterday, I confess I have no idea what to do with a partridge. As to pears, however, I can recommend the Tarte aux Poires à la Bourdaloue found on page 642 of Volume One: Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, Louiette Bertholle, and Simone Beck. I haven't made it in years but I can guarantee you will impress and delight your friends.

There are of course, plenty of recipes for dove meat, though I simply prefer to listen to them coo and have always considered doves a happy sign of spring. They are randy critters, however, and I was given the repeated spectacle of their amorous pursuits on my deck rail in California. Also incredibly stupid when it came to nesting. Some of them would try to lay eggs on the tinest of ledges without lip, dooming the eggs to rolling off and falling to their doom. Tsk, tsk. In their defense, however, I also got to see them encouraging and modeling the art of flight to their fledgling when it came time to kick the little buggers out of the nest and get on with life. Very patient and persistent. I've also watched a mother dove act as a decoy to lure attention away from her chicks by doing the injured bird act.

Well, Maddy's sent folks off to meet new bloggers (poor sods) and, holy Mother Mary, I think I've gone and fallen in love. She's taken, but the lovely Charlotte, whom Maddy calls babelicious (how does he get away with this?) has yet another wonderful idea for pears! Check out her Pear Tarte. (Control yourself, folks, it is not a euphemism.)
--the BB

Monday, December 24, 2007

A holiday pause

The limpa is rising, three batches of cookies have been baked, the nacimiento is--at the last possible minute--set in place.

Of course, the baby Jesus has not shown up and the wise guys are still in transit. Beyond that, both horns of the cow have vanished over the years, along with one ear of the donkey. I don't have scenery for it; it's just sitting on the altar in my parlor. But it's up.

I will be heading out before long for the High Mass at the Mission San Gabriel where I will serve as thurifer. Here's hoping I remember the thurible and incense, the pointed Gospel for the deacon, and sundry vestments. Plus bread and cookies and wine for tomorrow, a change of clothes, toiletries, and a few presents. I will be catching the Midnight Mass at St Michael and All Angels later, then spending the night at my best friend's. We plan to have Mexican hot chocolate and chilaquiles for breakfast tomorrow, a tradition of ours that makes a nice counterpoint to too many sweets. Nothing like green chile salsa--yum! (There are, of course, red salsa fans and those who want both ask for "Christmas" = red and green.) A lovely roast tomorrow and many other delicious things along with a passel of chums.

All of which is to say, the loquacious one will not be blogging again until, perhaps, tomorrow night. So, in the meantime, I wish each and every one of you a blessed Christmas, whatever form that takes for you. Be kind to yourselves, to others, to this precious world. Let yourself be loved.
Virgin Mother of God, rejoice!
Mary full of grace, the Lord is with you.
Blessed are you among women
and blessed is the fruit of your womb
for you have born the Savior of the world.
-the BB

¡Todos te felicitamos, Padrecito!

Abdul Cole presents the Sunday School gift to Padre Mickey as la Parroquía San Cristobal celebrates the tenth anniversary of el Padrecito's ordination. Enjoy the whole event here.


Maddy catches us up:

I've had a word with my good friend, Father Christmas (who, if the truth be known, probably hates Christmas as much as I do) and he has told told me that he will definitely be visiting all those good little boys and girls who have already donated to our appeal.

We will be continuing to hassle you for money up until Epiphany so there's still time to book a visit from Poppa Christmas when he returns again on 24th. December, 2008.

Our new total is:


The OCICBW... Community Christmas Appeal this year is raising money to help pay for the work being done by the Anglican Church of Christ the King in the City Of God district of Rio De Janeiro. Full details about the project and how to send your gifts can be found HERE.

So, there's still time to boost this total higher!
--the BB

Call to Christmas Prayer

Bidding Prayer at Christmas Lessons and Carols
Beloved in Christ, in this Christmastide, let it be our care
and delight to hear again the message of the Angels, and in
heart and mind to go even unto Bethlehem, and see this
thing which is come to pass, and the Babe lying in a manger.

Let us read and mark in Holy Scripture the tale of the loving
purposes of God from the first days of our disobedience unto
the glorious Redemption brought us by this holy Child; and
let us make this place glad with our carols of praise.

But first, let us pray for the needs of his whole world; for
peace and goodwill over all the earth; for the mission and
unity of the Church for which he died, and especially in this
country and within this city.

And because this of all things would rejoice his heart, let us
at this time remember in his name the poor and the helpless;
the hungry and the oppressed; the sick and those who mourn; the
lonely and the unloved; the aged and the little children; and all
those who know not the Lord Jesus, or who love him not, or who by
sin have grieved his heart of love.

Lastly, let us remember before God his pure and lowly Mother, and
all those who rejoice with us, but upon another shore and in a
greater light, that multitude which no one can number, whose hope
was in the Word made flesh, and with whom, in this Lord Jesus, we
for evermore are one.

[Book of Occasional Services]

John Lennon's "Happy Christmas" with images to move us toward intercession and work for peace and justice:

For the Poor and the Neglected

Almighty and most merciful God, we remember before you all poor and neglected persons whom it would be easy for us to forget: the homeless and the destitute, the old and the sick, and all who have none to care for them. Help us to heal those who are broken in body or spirit, and to turn their sorrow into joy. Grant this, Father, for the love of your Son, who for our sake became poor, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For the Oppressed

Look with pity, O heavenly Father, upon the people in this land who live with injustice, terror, disease, and death as their constant companions. Have mercy upon us. Help us to eliminate our cruelty to these our neighbors. Strengthen those who spend their lives establishing equal protection of the law and equal opportunities for all. And grant that every one of us may enjoy a fair portion of the riches of this land; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For the Human Family

O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For our Enemies

O God, the Father of all, whose Son commanded us to love our enemies: Lead them and us from prejudice to truth; deliver them and us from hatred, cruelty, and revenge; and in your good time enable us all to stand reconciled before you; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


TROPARION From The Festal Menaion
Thy Nativity, O Christ our God, has shone upon the world with the light of knowledge: for thereby they who adored the stars through a star were taught to worship Thee, the Sun of Righteousness, and to know Thee the Dayspring from on high. O Lord, glory to Thee.

KONTAKION From The Festal Menaion
Today the Virgin gives birth to Him who is above all being, and the earth offers a cave to Him whom no man can approach. Angels with shepherds give glory, and Magi journey with a star. For unto us is born a young Child, the pre-eternal God.

An Arabic Christmas Carol (Byzantine Hymn to the Nativity):

Collect for Christmas Day
Almighty God, you have given your only-begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and to be born [this day] of a pure virgin: Grant that we, who have been born again and made your children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by your Holy Spirit; through our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom with you and the same Spirit be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

h/t to JN1034 for the videos and the concept
--the BB

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The face of American diplomacy

Paul F. Richards/AFP/Getty Images
via Dependable Renegade

THAT should curdle your eggnog!
--the BB

Blog Blessing

I got tagged today by Fran--tagged with a blessing. (You are a total sweetie, Fran, but I'll try not to ruin your reputation by saying that too loudly; I want you to stay scary to warmongers and workers of injustice.) [I lifted the following paragraph from Fran.]

This is a blessing meme. The point is to tag in order to know that someone has blessed you and to let them know you hold them in thought and prayer. And what better thought than that at Christmas time, right? You can read about the origin of this blog blessing here.

So, on this night of Advent 4, I bless... Padre Mickey, JN1034, and my canine friend Rowan.

I bless el Padrecito (and the lovely Mona and the entire Dance Party gang) for the wonderful, positively magical, blend of incarnate love of people, whimsy and irreverence, scholarship, and fervor. Nice to return an earlier favor. If you have not been to any Christmas pageants yet this year, may I recommend one? [It's best if you followed the drama leading up to it, so you may want to read this and this first.]

I bless JN1034 for their fervent witness among the Orthodox and all of us, championing the fullness of the Orthodox faith and LGBT folks as children of God, holding out the reminder that God became human that humans might become lil'gods, to use their term. We are part of the transfiguration of all creation and these folks, with passion and humor and deep spirituality maintain the prophetic prodding lest we sleep in unawareness. [Gotta tell ya, when I saw their photo of an orthodox cleric waving a rainbow flag I wept, much as I did hearing Archbishop Tutu uttering the words of apology.]

I bless Rowan the Dog for his bravery and his wisdom and his intrinsic goodness. He knows how to cut through all our human silliness and take us right back to what is real. Thats one of the many things dogs are good at. A few licks and a few woofs and the world shifts back into place, or at least we get shifted back into place again.

These three, among so many others, worthies all, remind me who I am and Whose I am; they enlarge my world and help me to see in fresh ways; they challenge me and help me laugh. They are prophets and priests and healers and clowns; they are good companions on the journey.

I don't like tagging folks but I don't mind blessing them and telling them they are blessings in my life. (And if you do pass the blessing, note that I replaced the original graphic because it was too light for me to read--getting old here.)

Blessings to all my blog companions--spiritual, political, whimsical, or other (specify). I am grateful for sharing the journey with y'all.
--the BB

Ten Questions

From Crooks and Liars comes this exercise: questions James Lipton asks of his guests on Inside the Actors’ Studio, inspired by the French interviewer Bernard Pivot.

1. What is your favorite word?
2. What is your least favorite word?
3. What turns you on?
4. What turns you off?

5. What sound or noise do you love?
6. What sound or noise do you hate?
7. What is your favorite curse word?
8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
9. What profession would you not like to do?
10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

My answers:
1. I have never thought of it. For mouth feel there is “luxuriate,” in the conceptual category there is “perichoresis,” for life orientation there is “thanks,” and in everyday life there is “yes!” I fell under the spell of words no later than when father taught me to read (i.e., when I was three years old). They have always seemed magical: the mere idea that we can communicate through sounds and symbols amazes me.

2. One I would never use here and find it almost impossible to type in any situation. I find it utterly vile, though I use it when I want to describe certain kinds of despicable behavior.

3. Warm, relaxed, genuine smiles. I melt.

4. Attitude—almost any form of pomposity, especially among bosses and clergy. Get over your effing self (see # 7 below); we’re not impressed.

5. The cry of a hawk, the gentle sound of water in a brook or fountain in the background, someone moaning or purring with pleasure (in any context), cellos, and lots of silence (see # 6 immediately following).

6. Any noise intruding on nature: leaf blowers (an abomination), portable radios outdoors (or any car radio that can be heard more than three feet away from the driver), cell phones used on public transportation (your wife does NOT need to know you just got through the tunnel and will be home in twelve more minutes; she expects you, for God’s sake, and we don’t want to listen to your fucking conversation (see # 7 below; it’s escalating).

7. Based on frequency of use in almost any situation? The f-bomb, hands down. Off limits in sermons and with children around; otherwise liable to explode anywhere.

8. Teaching (formally; I’ve done it informally all my life). And, of course, being a published author with several books in print.

9. Sales; I loathe pressuring people and I dislike sales pitches aimed at me. If I am already interested, by all means tell me the benefits of what you offer but do not push. (Taurus here; it’s a bad idea to pressure me.)

10. Kazan is waiting for you just inside; here’s a Swedish pepper cookie so you don’t have to greet him empty-handed. Btw, you loved my world and fed my sheep. Welcome.

By now y’all know I don’t tag but I do invite. So have at it if you wish. Post at your place and let me know (or you may answer in comments). Have fun!
--the BB

O God, enlarge my heart

Savior is Born by Estonian artist Ain Vares

Diane posted a prayer at Faith in Community that I cannot resist sharing here:

Advent Prayer
O God:
Enlarge my heart
that it may be big enough to receive the greatness of your love.
Stretch my heart
that it may take into it all those who with me around the world
believe in Jesus Christ.
Stretch it
that it may take into all those who do not know him,
but who are my responsibility because I know him.
And stretch it
that it may take in all those who are not lovely in my eyes,
and whose hands I do not want to touch;
through Jesus Christ, my savior. Amen

Prayer of an African Christian
With All God's People, World Council of Churches, 1989
From the book Bread of Tomorrow, ed. Janet Morley, Orbis Books 1992

It puts me in mind of that glorious passage in Isaiah:
Sing, O barren one who did not bear;
burst into song and shout,
you who have not been in labor!
For the children of the desolate woman
will be more than the children
of her that is married,
says the Lord.
Enlarge the site of your tent,
and let the curtains of your habitations
be stretched out;
do not hold back;
lengthen your cords
and strengthen your stakes.

For you will spread out
to the right and to the left,
and your descendants will possess the nations
and will settle the desolate towns.
(Isaiah 54:1-3)

Our hearts, our dreams, our visions, our hopes are all so small. God calls us to enlarge them all, to make room for the new, to make room for more.

The Theotokos is called Platytera, More Spacious [than the heavens], because she contained in her womb the Creator of all things. We too are called to be God-bearers as Christ dwells also in and among us.

There is so much enlarging to be done.

From Pepper Marts came this prayer to point us beyond Tuesday:

The Work of Christmas

When the star in the sky is gone,
When the Kings and Princes are home,
When the shepherds
are back with their flocks,
The work of Christmas begins -
To find the lost
To heal the broken
To feed the hungry
To release the prisoner
To teach the nations
To bring Christ to all
To make music in the heart.

-- Howard Thurman

Be kind to yourselves these last few days before the Feast of the Incarnation.

Keep space for God.

God will enlarge us; we need to say, "Yes."
--the BB