Saturday, January 12, 2008

Vivat Bohemia!

And this afternoon a visitor from the Czech Republic joins us. Welcome.
I recall how dismayed I was when the glorious hopes of the Prague Spring in 1968 were crushed. I bought a small (3x5 inch) Czech flag and I think I still may have it somewhere. It used to sit in my pencil holder where I could see it and yearn for the Czech people to govern themselves freely again. Eventually the day came.

One side of my ex's family came from that part of the world, so I bless the soil of Bohemia for that.

Who's next? Any predictions?
--the BB

Sunday reflections

Then Peter began to speak to them: ‘I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.
(Acts 10)

Thus says God, the Lord,
who created the heavens and stretched them out,
who spread out the earth and what comes from it,
who gives breath to the people upon it
and spirit to those who walk in it:
I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness,
I have taken you by the hand and kept you;
I have given you as a covenant to the people,
a light to the nations,
to open the eyes that are blind,
to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,
from the prison those who sit in darkness.
I am the Lord, that is my name;
my glory I give to no other,
nor my praise to idols.
See, the former things have come to pass,
and new things I now declare;
before they spring forth,
I tell you of them.
(Isaiah 42)

Fr Jake commented about the inhibition of former bishop Schofield:
The people of San Joaquin are now free to seek a new vision of what God is calling them to become.

I am rejoicing with them, and do not apologize for it. I feel no sadness. Bp. Schofield brought this on himself by his voluntary choice to leave. Consequently, he is no longer my concern. So now I choose to rejoice that the captives have been set free.

Leslie of St Francis in exile responded:
It truly does feel like freedom this morning. Praise God!
Let there be freshness and new life at every turn. May the churches of the San Joaquin know and feel that they no longer operate under a cloud but that the Light of God shines all about them. May all the faithful claim their calling to give light to the nations.

O God, open to us today the sea of your mercy
and water us with full streams
from the riches of your grace
and springs of your kindness.
Make us children of quietness and heirs of peace:
kindle in us the fire of your love;
sow in us your fear;
strengthen our weakness by your power
and bind us close to you and to each other.

--Iona Abbey Worship Book

Almighty and everlasting God, from whom cometh every good and perfect gift: Send down upon our bishops, and other clergy, and upon the congregations committed to their charge, the healthful Spirit of thy grace; and, that they may truly please thee, pour upon them the continual dew of thy blessing. Grant this, O Lord, for the honor of our Advocate and Mediator, Jesus Christ. Amen.
(BCP, 817)

Двадцать три

The Winter Palace viewed from the bus going to the Strelka
St Petersburg, Russia

Today we were joined by a guest from the Russian Federation. Welcome!

I was blessed to visit St Petersburg twice, once in September 2001 (yes, then) and again in November 2004. I love the city and I enjoyed meeting and chatting (to the extent I could) with the Russian people there.

Just a few more weeks until my first Russian class. Очень ҳорощо!
--the BB

Friday, January 11, 2008

For the unity of the Church

Christ by El Greco

O God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, our only Savior the Prince of Peace: Give us grace seriously to lay to heart the great dangers we are in by our unhappy divisions; take away all hatred and prejudice, and whatever else may hinder us from godly union and concord; that, as there is but one Body and one Spirit, one hope of our calling, one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of us all, so we may be all of one heart and of one soul, united in one holy bond of truth and peace, of faith and charity, and may with one mind and one mouth glorify thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
--The Book of Common Prayer, page 818

A Te Deum and non nobis

This blog notes with thanksgiving that one wolf in our midst has had his actions evaluated and named for what they are.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori on January 11 inhibited Diocese of San Joaquin Bishop John-David Schofield.


On January 9, Upper South Carolina Bishop Dorsey Henderson, committee chair, wrote to Jefferts Schori, telling her that the nine-member committee had met that day and that a majority agreed that the documentation provided to them "demonstrated that Bishop Schofield has abandoned the communion of this Church by an open renunciation of the Doctrine, Discipline or Worship of this Church."

Read it all here.

Please continue to pray and support the People of God in the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin.


Let us not forget the fallen, those damaged on every side, and let us pray for healing. I wept (again) watching this scene.


Lisa at Episcopal Majority reminds us we can send love in tangible forms to Remain Episcopal.
Contributions may go to:
Remain Episcopal
2067 W. Alluvial
Fresno, CA 93711

--the BB

Grandmère tagged me

Perhaps all those terrible things Maddy says about her are true. Do you suppose? Anyway, Mimi has tagged me and there you have it.

I will play along lest some swamp mafia come after me (and my stuffed animals too).

- Link to the person that tagged you. (done)
- Post the rules on your blog. (done)
- Share six non-important things/habits/quirks about yourself. (done)
- Tag six people and at the end of your post, link to their blogs. (not done)
- Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog. (also not done)

1. I have been hankering for oatmeal of late, what with the colder weather, and this morning I had a huge bowl of it with orange zest, chopped walnuts, cinnamon, craisins, brown sugar, and half and half. Whatever virtue all that oat bran may have was probably offset by the sugar and cream but, my, it was delicious and satisfying!

2. I have not planted my bulbs yet. In California I would be a month late and have no idea what will happen here. (Nothing, if I don't get my rear in gear.)

3. I am a compulsive player of Freecell. If a window takes more than 0.1 second to load, I have probably begun another game of it.

4. I kick off my shoes the moment I come in the door. As a child I did not run around barefoot but in stocking feet. In adulthood I moved to barefoot whenever possible. My father disapproved of shoelessness. That should be the worst worry of all parents!

5. The remains of a rabbit lie outside my back door near the lilac. Perhaps a coyote dined there. It is winter in the desert; I am allowing natural dessication to take place, not to mention nourishment of insects. Eventually I will dig a hole, sprinkle some prayer tobacco, and let the last remnants go to soil.

6. As a child in the Central Valley of California (and with aunts and uncles with farms) I did not eat fresh grapes, strawberries, peaches, figs, plums, or most of the things that are truly delicious when locally grown and fresh off the vine. I might as well have lived in a remote non-farming area with nothing but apples, bananas, oranges, and canned fruit cocktail (yes, the horror!).

Having accepted that tag, I am not tagging others. All may. None must. Some should.
--the BB

Eileen leads me astray. Again. Twice.

You Are 25% Left Brained, 75% Right Brained

The left side of your brain controls verbal ability, attention to detail, and reasoning.
Left brained people are good at communication and persuading others.
If you're left brained, you are likely good at math and logic.
Your left brain prefers dogs, reading, and quiet.

The right side of your brain is all about creativity and flexibility.
Daring and intuitive, right brained people see the world in their unique way.
If you're right brained, you likely have a talent for creative writing and art.
Your right brain prefers day dreaming, philosophy, and sports.

Not much of a surprise here.

Poor Eileen came out 50-50: what a dilemma!

Wait. There's more!
The Recipe For Pavel

3 parts Originality
2 parts Flirtation
1 part Wit

Splash of Wisdom


Now, I prefer to be savored rather than chugged, thanks. Oh well, today's silliness.
--the BB

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Φώς ιλαρόν

Sunset this evening, viewed from my office at home

Φώς ιλαρόν
αγίας δόξης αθανάτου Πατρός,
ουρανίου, αγίου,
μάκαρος, Ιησού Χριστέ,
ελθόντες επί τήν ηλίου δύσιν,
ιδόντες φώς εσπερινόν,
υμνούμεν Πατέρα, Υιόν,
καί άγιον Πνεύμα, Θεόν,
Αξιόν σε εν πάσι καιροίς
υμνείσθαι φωναίς αισίαις,
Υιέ Θεού, ζωήν ο διδούς,
διό ο κόσμος σέ δοξάζει.

O gracious Light,
pure brightness of the everliving Father in heaven,
O Jesus Christ, holy and blessed!
Now as we come to the setting of the sun,
and our eyes behold the vesper light,
we sing your praises, O God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
You are worthy at all times to be praised by happy voices,
O Son of God, O Giver of life,
and to be glorified through all the worlds.

Friday prince blogging

Imperial Seal of Japan (Wikipedia Commons)

Recalling our recent visitor from Japan, today we visit the heir to the Chysanthemum Throne, His Imperial Highness Crown Prince Naruhito of Japan.
Photo via Mongolia-Web
From Wikipedia:
Crown Prince Naruhito of Japan 徳仁皇太子 (Naruhito Kōtaishi) (born February 23, 1960 at Togu Palace, Tokyo) is the eldest son of HIM Emperor Akihito and HIM Empress Michiko. Titled Prince Hiro (浩宮 Hiro-no-miya) as a child, he became heir apparent to the Japanese throne upon the death of his grandfather, the Showa Emperor (Hirohito), on January 7, 1989.

The Crown Prince is well known for his extensive charity work. He also carries out a full schedule of royal duties.

Source: BBC (Chinese)

Here he is hanging out with the arriviste British royalty. By tradition, the Prince's father, Emperor Akihito is the 125th direct descendent of Emperor Jimmu, who founded the empire in 660 BCE. Libby certainly seems to have tarted it up a bit to meet him, don't you think?
[Yanks: no respect!]

Source: Time
On June 9, 1993, he married Masako Owada, who then became Her Imperial Highness Crown Princess of Japan.

Photo via
HIH Princess Aiko's first day of school. She was born on 1 December 2001.

Source: Agence France Presse via SFGate
I love this father-daughter photo as they walk together in the rain. Too cute!

There was a great deal of controversy and some talk of changing the succession laws to allow females to inherit equally (and Japan has had female rulers, I read) but the birth of a male nephew has "solved" the traditionalist dilemma and it seems that Princess Aiko may never ascend the throne after her father. Sucky.
Source: Getty Images

You may read a bit more about the imperial family here. [Don't tell HIH but I think his wife's a dish.]
--the BB

Let's keep the prayers coming

I just saw the following headlines on Google News:

Bomb Kills at Least 23 in Pakistan
New York Times - 2 hours ago
By SALMAN MASOOD ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - A suicide bomber walked into a crowd of police officers outside a courthouse in the eastern city of Lahore on Thursday and set off a powerful explosion, killing at least 23 people and injuring 58, police officials ...

Diplomatic bid to resolve Kenya crisis fails
Los Angeles Times - 3 hours ago
US and African diplomats leave the country without reaching agreement on how to resolve the disputed presidential election. A new round of talks is planned.

Prayers from Diane here
--the BB

Now, why did we escalate?

Bush a year ago, announcing the surge:
To establish its authority, the Iraqi government plans to take responsibility for security in all of Iraq's provinces by November. To give every Iraqi citizen a stake in the country's economy, Iraq will pass legislation to share oil revenues among all Iraqis. To show that it is committed to delivering a better life, the Iraqi government will spend $10 billion of its own money on reconstruction and infrastructure projects that will create new jobs. To empower local leaders, Iraqis plan to hold provincial elections later this year. And to allow more Iraqis to re-enter their nation's political life, the government will reform de-Baathification laws, and establish a fair process for considering amendments to Iraq's constitution.

AP photo

Atrios asks:
Any of that happen?

Approx. 789 US troops died to not achieve all that stuff.
[emphasis mine]
Why is Bush not defending himself in the Hague by now?

Congressman Robert Wexler has these observations.
A new troubling myth has taken hold in Washington and it is critical that the record is set straight. According to the mainstream media, Republicans, and unfortunately even some Democrats, the President's surge in Iraq has been a resounding success. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

This assertion is disingenuous, factually incorrect, and negatively impacts America's national security. The Surge had a clear and defined objective - to create stability and security - enabling the Iraqi government to enact lasting political solutions and foster genuine reconciliation and cooperation between Sunnis, Shias, and Kurds.

This has not happened.

There has been negligible political progress in Iraq, and we are no closer to solving the complex problems - including a power sharing government, oil revenue agreement and new constitution - than we were before the Administration upped the ante and sent 30,000 more troops to Iraq.
[emphasis in the original]

Read it all here.

h/t Truthout
--the BB

Loving the sinner

Lisa at My Manner of Life has some comments about "love the sinner but hate the sin" that ring true to my ears.
When anybody tells me they "Love the sinner, but hate the sin," I immediately know I'm dealing with someone who hates me, my life, my relationships, and everything I treasure in my life. Those people can quibble and temporize all they want. But the fact is, "Love the sinner, hate the sin" has become a bastion for people who are willing to tolerate every other "sin" except for the supposed "sin" of Christians who are in committed relationships with people of the same sex. Do they look at the morbidly obese former-bishop Schofield and offer to love him but hate his sin? No, they do not. Do they turn their little slogan against twice-divorced-and-thrice-married bishops of our church? No, they do not.

It seems to me that the only people against whom I hear them deliver this slogan is us gay people. And the message is condescension, pure and simple.

If they were talking about "colored people" or "retarded people," someone would call them on their bigotry. But so far, as of January 7, 2008, they are still allowed to trot out their "Love the sinner, but hate the sin" mantra as if it did anything besides articulate mask deep, uncompromising hatred of homosexuals. And even our best friends try to engage those "Love the sinner, hate the sin" people as if they were rational. It is so easy to get sucked in by their apparent sense. [emphasis mine]

Now, much umbrage is being taken because nobody seems to hear this phrase used except in the context of homosexuality. That may well be the case nowadays though I remember hearing it used in lots of categories during my evangelical youth. Which doesn't really help because (1) I could always hear in the phrase an element of self-righteous judgmentalism that belies the very idea of love and (2) whenever it is used there is a very clear declaration of sin without qualification or nuance.

It quickly leads into all manner of tricky issues. For instance, it would be used of an alcoholic, and I heard it used that way. This presupposes that alcoholism is a sin and not a disease, and I have a problem with that. Some folks think equating homosexuality with alcoholism is a step forward because it acknowledges a disease rather than a consciously chosen sin. Not an advance at all. Disease or sin, neither fits with the experience of LGBT people as they know it.

The analogous category that works for me is handedness. My being left-handed is not a disease, it is not a sin, it is not something I chose, and it is not an abnormality in any sense other than being a minority condition, yet one that works just fine. By innate preference and ease I do things with my left hand that most people do with their right hand. I have learned to shake hands with my right hand because that is what one does in our society, rooted in exposing the sword hand to assure peaceful intentions. Well, like Ehud the judge, I could easily have that sword in my left ready to strike you, but I don't and my extended right hand means the same as anyone else's.

Though I do not assert that this is the case with all folks who use the phrase, I nonetheless hear in it elements of superstitious relief: by loving the sinner I can maintain our shared commonality as human beings but by hating the sin I separate myself from that "other" and spare myself the contagion of the sin. It is very important for some people to resist even de facto recognition of something for fear it will taint them as granting it de jure recognition. "I don't think it's right for you to be in a same-sex relationship so I will to my death condemn that relationship, even if I love you both, because if I don't condemn it then the world (and God) might think that I approve. And I don't. Love your company but don't want your cooties when the Great White Throne Judgment comes along, thanks."

It reminds me of the old "there but for the grace of God go I" line that also makes me wanna puke. It seems like an amulet, some ancient magical formula, the recitation of which reinforces the distinction between my state and that of the identified unfortunate. It allegedly acknowledges that whatever the other person's condition may be I too could fall into it, thus implying the virtue of humility and recognition that I too am capable of folly and sin or susceptible to misfortune and disaster, thus no better than the other person. And yet, and yet.... It clearly delineates me from that other person and attributes the difference (oh, so humbly) to God's grace. What? Does this mean the other person is in some unfortunate state also by God's grace? It must. Is God's grace so arbitrary? Why would God's grace "rescue" me and not someone else? What grace leaves that other person homeless and walking the streets in unmedicated agitation? I don't get it. Is this grace either random or sadistic?

The only version of that which works for me is "there in the grace of God go I," without setting up the barrier or distinction. We are all in this together and I am not safe or separate.

So what galls me about the "love the sinner, hate the sin" cliché? I think that while it does recognize that we are all sinners and all beloved at one and the same time it basically declares the distinction/barrier between the speaker and the spoken about rather than affirm our essential commonality. While love knows distinctions it is not about distinctions; it sends rain (life, blessing) on the pure and the impure alike. Jesus manifests a love of God that is quite prodigal and not very concerned with purity. Wholeness and holiness, yes, but not so much what passed in his day, or ours, for purity.

Thus what I hear in the phrase is "I am not like you [thank God]." I don't hear the love. Not even a little bit. I hear self-deception, judgment, and the desire to keep a safe distance.

If I were to say "I love heterosexuals but hate their orientation" I suspect most folk would consider the statement inherently contradictory, even though one may justify it in terms of logical distinctions only. If I hate the attraction of men for women and women for men then I clearly find something about straight folks inherently ucky and this would make it very difficult to truly love them qua straight folk. I mean, I'd love them so much more if they weren't straight, right? If I didn't have to see them hold hands or kiss or call each other by endearments, you know?

But that's not how I feel at all. I really enjoy attraction, affection, mutual delight, desire, and all that good stuff between humans in any configuration. I'm a real romantic.

And that God-given drive and attraction gets used in all manner of life-giving and destructive ways. But it ain't the gender involved that decides what interactions are sinful, it's the way we treat each other and whether we seek only ourselves or something larger than ourselves.

So, yes, I think loving the sinner and hating the sin is a crap phrase.

If any of us loves anyone at all we are loving sinners. Do we really need to go on and specify that we are hating their sins, whatever the hell those sins may be?

Is that addition really an expression of love or of God's righteousness? I think it's superfluous, alters the entire meaning of the love alleged in the first instance, and implies to all (and absolutely shouts from the housetops to the targets) that the love ain't there, folks.

I am glad I am not on the HoB or HoD list serves and thus spared the brouhaha going on. But I clearly have my feelings about it and you just read them.
--the BB

Just checkin'

Anybody else out there find pleasure in imagining Chris Matthews' mouth duct-taped?

There is a blog out there, the name of which appeals to me:

I know, hatin' on someone ain't nice and Jesus don't like it. I don't really hate him, I just want him to shut up. Is that so much to ask?

h/t to bluegal at Crooks and Liars
--the BB

Poland makes 22

Polish winged hussar by T Benda (Wikipedia)

My neighbor Frank Furgal in West Hollywood was a Polish American and an artist. We went to see an exhibit of Polish arts and crafts in Los Angeles ages ago because he had something on exhibit. He did a series of what he called Hussar's Wings. These were based on an earlier era than the Napoleonic Hussars we tend to imagine (see illustration above).

Frank drew on the image of the wings these soldiers wore, constructions of eagle feathers, leather, and metal harnessed on. The object, according to Frank, was to scare the shit out of your opponents as these winged warriors rode upon them.

Frank's art recycled mail pouches, those canvas bags that held letters. Diamond-shaped pieces of canvas were sewn and arranged to make abstract pairs of wings, their subtle shades of tan and gray giving texture. My father, who was a letter carrier, did not care for this "art" because it simply represented a dirty but necessary item of utility. In fact, reactions tended to fall into the categories of
(1) I don't get it
(2) cool! What is it?

Well, we loved the series and talked about buying one. We moved from West Hollywood to the Bay Area without doing so.

I could not guess my Christmas present that year. It came wrapped in blankets and strapped to the top of the car. Only when I removed packaging and saw a corner of plywood, canvas, and plexiglass did I realize it was, indeed, one of Frank's Hussar's Wings. Too cool and totally unexpected.

Tried to find a photo today but no luck. There was probably one among the photos that did not survive yesterdays hard disk reformat. In any case, as I did not have a house with walls large enough for the wings, they now are at my ex's home (it was a very amicable division of goods). I can still see them.

Well, that's my Polish story. Welcome, whoever you are who visited from Poland.
--the BB

Thursday Constitution blogging

Amendment V

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
What does it mean that no person shall be deprived of liberty without due process of law? How does this apply to persons designated [arbitrarily by one person, the POTUS] as "unlawful enemy combatants" who are sequestered without habeas corpus, without charges, without trial?

Just asking.
--the BB

I like this test result

I think that, for all my protests, the Swedish genes are coming out. And yes, I have a jar of cardamom pods in my cupboard. After my comments the other day about my grandmother and aunts baking, I have been thinking about goodies with the scent of cardamom. I may have to whip something up.

Your Score: Cardamom

You scored 75% intoxication, 50% hotness, 50% complexity, and 50% craziness!

You are Cardamom!

Not many people know you. You're kind of sweet, subtle, and maybe even shy. You're definitely understated and totally underrated. But once people get to know you, they can't get enough. You touch some esoteric, ancient place deep inside people and they love you for it.

Link: The Which Spice Are You Test
h/t to Max on whom I blame this one!
--the BB

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

What is the Gratitude Campaign?

Elizabeth explains it nicely along with a video. Check it out here.
The Gratitude Campaign is not about politics. It is about saying 'thank you' to those who fight in a war not on their own soil, of their own making, and often not of their own desire. They want to be home with their families as much as we all want them home and safe and the world to be at peace.

While we work and pray to bring an end to war, let us not forget to say 'thank you'.
Thanksgiving for Heroic Service (BCP page 839):
O Judge of the nations, we remember before you with grateful hearts the men and women of our country who in the day of decision ventured much for the liberties we now enjoy. Grant that we may not rest until all the people of this land share the benefits of true freedom and gladly accept its disciplines. This we ask in the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
--the BB

City of God giddiness

Woohoo! Yippee! Or, as Mad Priest puts it, Yowzah! Check out the tentative total:
All I can say is:
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.
--the BB

Pop the champagne, we're 21 now!

We've now had at least one visitor each from Japan and Nicaragua. I've never been to either country but I have fallen in love with Kabuki theatre and studied it in college. Under the tutelage of Leonard Pronko and with the aid of his dance instructor Fujima Kansuma, we produced Kabuki plays in translation at Pomona College. I will never forget Yoshitsune Sembon Zakura, Narukami, or Migawari Zazen. Woohoo, wonderful times and exciting theatre! The kind ladies who helped construct our costumes never ceased giggling over my immense size. Vikings got around a lot but not to Japan.

I do have a Nicaraguan flag in my physical flag collection and a lovely Nicaraguan family attended St Cuddy's in Oakland. One of my high school classmates was a journalist in Nicaragua during the intense civil struggles. We are all intimately connected.

Welcome one and all!
--the BB

Almost recovered

Katherine Palace at Tsarskoye Selo, Russia

Most of the software is reinstalled. Most of the archived files are restored. There is hope.
Slava Bogu! (Thanks be to God)

There were losses (I knew there would be). I had not backed up everything, just most things. Most of my photo files are intact. Some I need to copy once again from my old PC to my laptop. My novel and everything related to the fiction writing is safe (that is backed up multiply on general principles). Genealogy files, liturgical resources, poetry, journals, recipes, financial records, etc. are all fine.

I lost all the music I had copied onto the computer and all my archived mail from the last year. Life will go on. It does, you know. Thanks for the sympathy, gang!
--the BB

We are experienceing technical difficulties

Two weeks ago iTunes stopped working on my Mac. Then several days ago iPhoto would not launch. Yesterday Safari would not launch. I also have used Firefox so I still had a browser but life got very complicated. After the longest diagnostic and repair run the guy at the Apple Store had ever seen we just reformatted the hard drive and I now have to reload all my saved files and reinstall all my non-standard software.

As someone who had over 300,000 files on this laptop, I am sighing and being very patient and stoic about it all. YOu might not hear a lot from me until tomorrow.

May computer angels defend you all!
--the BB

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Light posting today

I haven't put much up because I don't have a lot to say at the moment. I know, here I am typing when I don't have anything to say. Just can't help myself.

I am intrigued by the primaries but have nothing to add to the commentary floating about. Not in one of my rant modes at the moment. Fear not, Bush will do something evil or stupid or both very soon and I will be off and running again.

Not full of theological ponderings or spiritual wisdom at the moment either. [You needn't speculate what I am full of because we all know the answer to that.]

A very minor tidbit of news: last night I signed up for beginning Russian to be taught at the University of New Mexico (continuing education program) on Tuesday nights beginning in February. I loved my two trips to St Petersburg and want to go back (and catch Moscow next time around as well). Cassettes and CDs have given me practice saying a limited number of phrases and I have used phrase books to good effect but I want to be able to do more. So, a new linguistic adventure.

Languages for which I have taken classes (of any kind)--plus reasons why I took them:
Spanish - beginning in the 8th grade--because it was there
Latin - beginning in the 10th grade--because I wanted the classical background
French - beginning in freshman year of college and I majored in it--because it was fun
Classical Greek - three semesters in college--because I wanted to read the New Testament
German - one year in college, on review quarter in grad school--so I could understand the Bach St Matthew Passion
Hebrew - one year in seminary--so I could read the Old Testament
Old French - one semester in grad school--to expand my French and read the chansons de geste in the original
Japanese - night classes in adult school but not long enough--because it was so different and I had friends who had studied it in high school; a change to learn a bit more
Armenian - also night classes in adult school but not long enough--because I grew up with Armenian friends and I would be one of the few odars who bothered [an odar to Armenians is like a goy to Jews]
Italian - nigh classes in adult school (plus the menus and operas!)--because it's beautiful, of course
Russian - coming soon at a university near me!--because it is so different from the Romance languages I've studies, has wonderful collisions of consonants, and can get me around in St Petersburg

I have about five sentences of Khmer (Cambodian) just because of Cambodian friends through church. I tried to learn more but, Lord have mercy, have you looked at the Khmer alphabet? I, who learned the Greek and Hebrew alphabets at age twelve (and bits of Russian and Arabic alphabets too), was defeated with Khmer. One can clearly absorb so much more before age 20 than one can after age 55 (over 60 now).

A question for readers: What is the most unusual/exotic/obscure language you have studied and why?
--the BB

Tuesday Prayer Blogging

A westward looking panorama of Albuquerque
December 29 2005

Almighty God, the giver of wisdom, without whose help resolutions are vain, without whose blessing study is ineffectual; enable me, if it be your will, to attain such knowledge as may qualify me to direct the doubtful, and instruct the ignorant; to prevent wrongs and terminate contentions; and grant that I may use that knowledge which I shall attain to your glory and my own salvation, for Jesus Christ's sake. Amen.

-Samuel Johnson, English writer and lexicographer

[From The Communion of the Saints: Prayers of the Famous, ed. Horton Davies]
--the BB

Monday, January 07, 2008

Welcome # 19

Another nation represented as we get a visitor from down under. Good show on dumping the former PM! Welcome.
--the BB

A little bit later

The other day I shared a photo of a dramatic sunrise. Here is a shot a short while later.
--the BB

Acceptance and freedom

Ivy photographed on the morning of
the Feast of St John the Evangelist 2003

John Bradshaw discusses some ideas from Virginia Satir on five freedoms in his book Healing the Shame That Binds You:
When we are wholly and fully self-accepting, we have the freedom to see and hear what we see and hear, rather than what we should or should not see and hear; the freedom to think and express what we think, rather than what we should or should not think or express; the freedom to feel what we feel, rather than what we should or should not feel; the freedom to love (choose and want) what we want, rather than what we should or should not love (choose and want); the freedom to imagine what we imagine, rather than what we should or should not imagine. When we are loved unconditionally, i.e., accepted just as we are, we can then accept ourselves just as we are. (page 154)

This passage just hit me one morning a while back and I’ve been wanting to share it with you all ever since.

How much of our lives, how much of our energy, is wasted striving to see and hear, think and express, feel, love, or imagine what someone else thinks we should (or should not)?

What a gift it would be if we could tell the next generation that their perceptions and desires are real and to be honored. [Omigod, I can hear the control freaks freaking already. But that’s inviting chaos, sin, awful stuff! To which I say: Oh, bite me.]

Just because one recognizes, acknowledges, and honors desires does not mean you encourage indulging all of them. But it sure as hell does NOT mean you deny or repress them. If you do that, then you are the one to be bitten you know where, and when you least expect it.

My best friend observed that I have spent most of my life trying to fit into spaces too small for me. The observation sprang from an immediate physical context (one in a long series) but he meant it in the broadest metaphorical sense. I have tried to fit into spaces based on other folk's perceptions and wishes rather than my own. And, perhaps even worse, many were not even their spaces but my imagination of their spaces.

I'm working on finding my own space now.

It's about bloody time.
—the BB

Le dix-huitième drapeau

Feestelijk inhalen

Quelque'un des Pays-Bas nous a visité aujourd'hui. Soyez le bienvenu!

[Of course I know French is not the language of the Netherlands but I have no facility in Dutch. Zip. Zero. Nada. OK, I can go adequately guttural when saying "guilders" in Dutch but that is the only word that stayed with me from the few hours I spent in Amsterdam some 29 years ago. Perhaps I can make amends with the House of Orange in prince blogging later this week.]
--the BB


This morning's update shows us less than $300 from my $10,000 goal.
I don't know when the Paypal closes. Check and take us over the top.
--the BB

Sunday, January 06, 2008


Just before heading off to bed, Mad Priest has given us not one but TWO updates on the Appeal.
Update 1:
Oh my goodness! Oh my goodness! Oh my goodness!

I reckon we have no more than 12 hours before the shutter goes down and our total is now:


I think we've probably received all the cheques we are going to receive through the post so if we are going to hit $10000 we are going to have to do it electronically over the next few hours.

[There was a thank you to Sweden with a photo of Abba (?)--I hope to learn what that is all about. Not the photo, the Swedes.]

Update 2:
Well, I'm off to bed now so this will be the last update for 6 or 7 hours.

Our total is now:


I would be over the moon if we could raise $9870.

We CAN break $10,000.
--the BB

The Holy Theophany of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ

Christ is baptized:
he comes up out of the waters,
and with Him He carries up the world.

Today the creation is enlightened.
Today all nature is glad,
things of heaven and things upon earth.

At thine appearing in the body,
the earth was sanctified,
the waters blessed,
the heaven enlightened,
and mankind was set loose
from the bitter tyranny of the enemy.

When Thou, O Lord,
wast baptized in the Jordan,
the worship of the Trinity
was made manifest.
For the voice of the Father
bore witness unto Thee,
calling Thee the beloved Son,
and the Spirit in the form of a dove
confirmed His word as sure and steadfast.
O Christ our God who hast appeared
and enlightened the world,
glory to Thee.

Photos used in the graphics from
Texts from the liturgies of the Theophany in The Festal Menaion, tr. by Mother Mary and Kallistos Ware
--the BB

Make that seventeen

Welcome to Iranian guests! May there be a righteous peace and healthy friendship between our nations.

I started out on rather safe ground, with languages I speak (at least somewhat). I do not speak Farsi so am trusting an online translation page. If the text above does not say "Welcome!" then I apologize. I'm trying here, folks.
--the BB

Memory eternal

A week ago my Aunt Ruby V. Rosander was received into the everlasting arms. This afternoon my brother-in-law sent me a scan of her obituary.
For the non-Central Valley folk reading this, rolling trays is what you do with trays of raisins drying in the sun.

Aunt Ruby was the eldest daughter, as my father was the eldest son. They remembered the hard times when resources were few and life was tough. Her memories were much darker than those of Aunt May, who is the baby of the family (as am I). Things had improved over time. Comments above about farm hospitality were true and I remember having coffee in her kitchen.

["Coffee" to Swedes is like "tea" for the Brits. It's what you do at four in the afternoon. I never drank coffee because I don't like the taste of it, but I had coffee in the larger sense. Grandmother and my aunts knew how to bake!]

Grandpa's name was Victor and so my dad was Paul Victor and Ruby was Ruby Victoria. It sounds like a very grand name and, in truth, I rather think that Aunt Ruby was an empress on the farm.

May she rest in peace and rise with Christ in glory.
--the BB

George McGovern weighs in

George McGovern writes in today's Washington Post that "Nixon was bad. These guys are worse." He sets out his sense that, regardless of political feasibility of conviction, impeachment "is the rightful course for an American patriot."
As former representative Elizabeth Holtzman, who played a key role in the Nixon impeachment proceedings, wrote two years ago, "it wasn't until the most recent revelations that President Bush directed the wiretapping of hundreds, possibly thousands, of Americans, in violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) -- and argued that, as Commander in Chief, he had the right in the interests of national security to override our country's laws -- that I felt the same sinking feeling in my stomach as I did during Watergate. . . . A President, any President, who maintains that he is above the law -- and repeatedly violates the law -- thereby commits high crimes and misdemeanors."

I believe we have a chance to heal the wounds the nation has suffered in the opening decade of the 21st century. This recovery may take a generation and will depend on the election of a series of rational presidents and Congresses. At age 85, I won't be around to witness the completion of the difficult rebuilding of our sorely damaged country, but I'd like to hold on long enough to see the healing begin. [emphasis mine]

Just thought I'd pass it on. You can read it all here.
--the BB