Saturday, January 19, 2008

Sunday reflections

As we continue our journey, so early in Epiphanytide, still wet behind the ears with baptismal water, we do well to contemplate the objective reality of God's saving engagement with the beloved creation.

I love the way the Orthodox liturgies proclaim the whole mystery of the "Christ event," not just the Paschal Mystery contained in three days but the entire life of Christ. It is all one, inextricably interwoven. There is a shift in reality from the moment of Incarnation. New things come to pass. The world is different even as Christ rises from the waters of the Jordan, raising all creation with him.

All this God does for love.

And now we are called into this saving mystery. Jesus calls the disciples to himself, he calls us to himself. Come. See.

He said to them, "Come and see." (John 1:39a)
The calling of the disciples by Ghirlandaio

And so we enter the mystery. We get a glimpse of a world in transformation--hints of what the reign of God is like, of what is possible, of what life in God really is--and in the process we start to notice that we are being transformed too.

Then we are informed that we shall be sent out as Jesus was sent, to proclaim and be agents of this transformation. Who are we that we should do such a thing?

We are the called. We are the gifted. We are the sent.

You are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. (I Corinthians 1:7)

Shall we hide this vision? Be silent about this message? Hold back what is so graciously given?

I proclaimed righteousness in the great congregation; * behold, I did not restrain my lips; and that, O Lord, you know.

Your righteousness have I not hidden in my heart; I have spoken of your faithfulness and your deliverance; * I have not concealed your love and faithfulness from the great congregation.

You are the Lord; do not withhold your compassion from me; * let your love and your faithfulness keep me safe for ever.

Psalm 40:10-12 (BCP)

Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ is the light of the world: Grant that your people, illumined by your Word and Sacraments, may shine with the radiance of Christ's glory, that he may be known, worshiped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

--the BB

A Natal Festivity

Today, January 19, is the feast of Saint Wulfstan, Bishop of Worcester (d. 1095). We give thanks especially for his opposition to slavery. Clearly he was a man ahead of his time. You may read about him at Mimi's place or at Jane's.

In my family, however, it is the natal festivity of my little sister, Ivajeane, who was born on this day a little while ago. Here are some vintage photos of my sis. She is the second from the right in the first photo where she appears with husband, kids, and grandchild.

In the lower middle photo, Iva is on the left, big sister Shirley is on the right, and our grandmother Iva is in the center. And now you can see why Iva is my little sister, even though I am the baby of the family. Isn't she just too cute?

Happy Birthday, Little Sister!
Watch over thy child, O Lord, as her days increase; bless and guide her wherever she may be. Strengthen her when she stands; comfort her when discouraged or sorrowful; raise her up if she fall; and in her heart may thy peace which passeth understanding abide all the days of her life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

(The Book of Common Prayer, page 830)
-the BB

Relationships and benefits: HRC comes through

John Aravosis at Americablog shares a good statement from Hillary.  Good for her!  She was on the Tyra Banks show.  You can read it here.

HRC: That's right. I believe the benefits are yours and you ought to be able to give them and pass them on to whomever you choose. Also, as we begin to see different states making these decisions, civil unions, domestic partners and, marriage, the federal government ought to make all of the benefits through Social Security and other programs available to any legally recognized relationship and I intend to do that.
--the BB

This is what we've come to

The Washington Post reports that the United States has been listed among nations that torture by Canada.
In Canada, the United States has joined a notorious group of countries -- Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Afghanistan and China, among others -- as a place where foreigners risk torture and abuse, according to a training manual for Canadian diplomats that was accidentally given this week to Amnesty International lawyers.

The manual is intended to create "greater awareness among consular officials to the possibility of Canadians detained abroad being tortured." Part of the workshop is devoted to teaching diplomats how to identify people who have been tortured. It features a section on "U.S. interrogation techniques," including forced nudity, hooding and isolation.
Trying to smooth over ruffled feathers, the Canadians say it is not an official position.
"The document is a training manual. It is not a policy document or a statement of policy. As such it does not convey the government's views or positions," said Marina Wilson, spokeswoman for the Department of Foreign Affairs in Ottawa.


George W. Bush has done so much for this nation.

h/t to Joe Sudbay (DC) at Americablog.

Oh, and what does Tom Ridge say?

"There's just no doubt in my mind — under any set of rules — waterboarding is torture," Tom Ridge said Friday in an interview. Ridge had offered the same opinion earlier in the day to members of the American Bar Association at a homeland security conference.

"One of America's greatest strengths is the soft power of our value system and how we treat prisoners of war, and we don't torture," Ridge said in the interview. Ridge was secretary of the Homeland Security Department between 2003 and 2005. "And I believe, unlike others in the administration, that waterboarding was, is — and will always be — torture. That's a simple statement."

How we squares that with "we don't torture" I have no idea.
--the BB

Another African voice

OCICBW points today to an article in the News & Record by Nancy McLaughlin where she writes of The Rt. Rev. Musonda Trevor Mwamba, Bishop of Botswana, who spoke at the convention of the Diocese of North Carolina yesterday.
He's not asking people to change their positions, necessarily, but an Anglican bishop says there can be middle ground in the lingering and angry debate over the ordination of an openly gay man as a bishop by U.S. Episcopalians.

"When I hear all these harsh tones being exchanged," said the Right Rev. Musonda Trevor Mwamba of Botswana, "... I ask if anybody is praying."
"The majority of African Anglicans," he said, "they have their minds focused on life and death issues, like AIDS, poverty ... and not what the church thinks about sex or the color of your pajama pants. Villagers who live on less than $1 a day aren't aware this is going on. The majority of Africans who can afford TVs and radios, they don't want to see the communion incinerate."
The core message among Christians should be enlarging the Kingdom of God, Mwamba said, and not looking for ways to make it smaller.

"So why do we keep thinking separately — us and them?" Mwamba asked. "Could it be because we have lost sight of the height and depth of the kingdom ... the infinity of God in us?"
Jane R of Acts of Hope was there and reports that she received communion from him. We hope to hear more from her soon.

On a separate topic, Jane reports "Wore bright red (blouse of stiff silk with fabulous collar and cuffs, a hand-me-down from Mother of Acts of Hope), silver earrings, black slacks." She had asked what to wear to convention and I had opined: "Something designed to break hearts, I should think. Every straight man and lesbian in the room should take note and the gay men should all admire how it's accessorized. Church business should not excuse dowdiness. Stun them, my dear. At the end of the weekend you should have at least half a dozen new phone numbers. Being a lady you won't call, of course, but they will still be pining for you." For that reason we include the fashion update. I am sure she, being a beautiful lady, dazzled them.

In other fashion news, a crown has been awarded to a very different bishop who wins the title of drama queen.

I have very fond memories of Bishop Mwamba's predecessor, Archbishop Khotso Makhulu. I had written to him just prior to Lambeth 1998, offering my prayers for him and all the bishops of the Province of Central Africa. A seminarian from Zimbabwe whom I knew was the link that led me to assure at least one African bishop that some of us American "liberals" were not their enemies. I received a very gracious reply (tinged with humor) from him after he returned from the conference.

Here is an excerpt of a sermon he preached at evensong Lambeth 1998. I saw it online at the time and it gave me a glimpse of what a great and good chief pastor he was.
So, as a people of encounter, coming to encounter the living God, and to encounter others who in faith are gathered here, we have done a variety of things through this encounter - through bible study, through meetings, through discussions. I remember hearing an Irish priest - I hope there are no Irish here... He was a member of the Community of the Congregation of the Sacred Passion and he was called to attend the Chapter of his Order and he sent a letter to his Superior saying 'Sorry, can't be present' and signed himself 'Holy Spirit'. Sometimes our deliberations have made me wonder if we have chased the Holy Spirit away.

Those we have encountered in the presence of God, those who encounter the presence of God, are invariably moved to repentance. I am not doing an 'evaluation form' from the pulpit of what this conference is about, but I am doing a number of things. First of all I thank God for the opportunity of having shared in the worship, of having been reminded that I belong to a wider community of believers and worshippers. But, equally, I am reminded that on this occasion a variety of things have happened, and if we are to be called to repentance, we have to be agents of reconciliation. The tenor of some of our discussions can only be described as 'frenzied'. The tone in which they were expressed was devoid of the love of God. We have had tyrants using the Bible as armour, and words spoken from this very spot that were aimed to wound and to win score debating points.
I do not believe that this is the economy of the community of the Trinity. I do not believe that this is the basis of our Lord Jesus Christ. In our confusion He comes in order that He may shed light upon us. In our perplexity He comes that we may have comfort. In our bewilderment He sheds a light, a comforting light, so that we may truly be representatives of His.

There were those in this conference who have power, those who want it and want it badly, those who want to use it - whether by being utterly articulate or experts at procedural devices - those who have the 'lollie' [money] and know exactly how to use it to best advantage.

Sadly, we have equally had those who have been marginalised in our midst - some are confused and others remain wounded. From my background, I want to say here and now, I have resisted tyranny all my life and nor will I ever tolerate it from those who claim the love of the Bible over everyone else. Let not the intolerance of a variety of contexts inexorably lead us to intolerance, which, if unchecked, will find us with a band of vigilantes and fundamentalists.

I pray to God that the spirit of Anglicanism will survive, that we shall come to engage each other and find the best way forward. May God forgive us our wrong doings and our failure to strengthen His fellowship. I heard the Cross mentioned, and at times one got the impression that that Cross was not the life-giving Cross but was almost some kind of whip to whip those who were sinners.

You may read it all here.

I thank God for the bishops of Botswana.
--the BB

Friday, January 18, 2008

The invisible candidates

I get furious with the American media for ignoring... well, lots of things. What goes on in the world that may be important to the globe but isn't fixated on the U. S. Substantive issues. Concepts that take more than a soundbyte to explain. Context. And damned near anything that might conceivably threaten the corporations that own the media.

I also get upset over their trying to shape campaigns instead of reporting them or helping us understand them. Eliminating candidates from debates, for instance. Or acting as though it is only about A or B, while ignoring C, D, E, etc.

I have already admitted that, with Gore out of the picture, I have a preference for John Edwards. I may be very white collar professional but my roots are entirely blue collar. I know what it feels like to try to scrape by while wondering how to keep some semblance of health care, and struggling to decide which bills to pay this time around. I have lived close to the edge far too many years of my life (and am still far from financially secure). So when Edwards speaks of "two Americas" and the need to disempower those who profit from the misery and insecurity of the many while continuing to accumulate more power and wealth in the hands of the very few, I cheer him on. One may argues parties and ideologies but for my money, Edwards has targeted where some of our thorniest and most intractable issues lie, the ones that actually affect us daily. So, my bias here is right up front, where it should be.

Now, sit back and enjoy the video. John who?

h/t to the Vagabond Scholar, who has more on this, including a nice graph to help one visualize the issue, and to FranIAm who pointed me to the video and to the Invisible Scholar.
--the BB

Go to hell

Keith Olbermann comes through again.

A few comments on how the government treats our troops.

h/t to Hoffmannia whence I got the video.
--the BB

From the land of Alexander

"The State symbol is a golden sun symbolizing the freedom of the country and its people. "

Welcome to our visitor from Macedonia. This makes 33 countries since we began counting.

I tried for find an online translation of "welcome" into Macedonian but had no luck. I did learn some interesting things about the Macedonian language though.
--the BB

Fried squirrels are window dressing [updated]

Homeboy image from commercial site

While folks laugh (or get queasy) about Mike Huckabee and his college-era penchant for squirrels fried in a popcorn popper (video here), let's not kid ourselves about the theocratic perspective this man represents.

Tristero on Digby's Hullaballoo revisits a post he did against theocracy last year:
Back in 1998, when he was still serving as governor, he [Huckabee] helped write "Kids Who Kill," a short book purporting to analyze the outbreak of school shootings by teenagers. His coauthor was George Grant, a well-known militant Christian reconstructionist author, activist and educator. That same year, the libertarian Reason magazine published an exposé of reconstructionism titled "Invitation to a Stoning," which identified Grant and quoted him on the movement's ambition for "world conquest." Scorning the moderation of other conservative Christians, Grant explained, "It is dominion we are after. Not just a voice ... not just influence ... not just equal time. It is dominion we are after."
Huckabee is more discreet than this and may not fully agree with Grant but he cannot pretend to have no connections with Dominionism.

Tristero continues in today's post:
I'll say it again: Huckabee is not a joke and he has no business being one of the frontrunners of a major political party. That he has come this far is extremely ominous. If he were to get the nomination, it would be a terrible catastrophe even if he were to lose, as he almost surely would, the presidential race. Why? Because Christian Reconstruction will take one more giant step towards the mainstream.
Don't kid yourself. Huckabee and his ilk play for keeps. It may take another 40 years, but as long as normals continue to underestimate and dismiss christianism with a superior snicker instead of fighting back as hard as possible, the most repulsive notions of the religious right will further dominate our discourse. This is a war; christianists are acting like it is. And the rest of us are laughing ourselves silly at the very idea that such ignorant phonies and weirdos could be that dangerous.
Alex Koppelman and Vincent Rossmeier provide "A list of religious extremists linked to the GOP candidate" in an article in Salon. They note the following:
Ideas like the ones some of Huckabee's supporters hold stem from two radical doctrines, reconstructionism and dominionism. As Conason writes, these ideas come down to "the notion that America, indeed every nation on earth, is meant to be governed by biblical law." Additionally, they stem from a belief that the United States was founded as a Christian nation, then betrayed by secular humanist liberals who created a myth of separation of church and state in the 20th century, leading the country to immorality and godlessness, and that the United States must be taken back by Christians. Some of the proponents of this idea are unashamed about using the word "theocracy" to describe their goal. The most radical among them -- including two of the movement's leading lights and progenitors, R.J. Rushdoony and his son-in-law Gary North -- advocate a return to the practice of stoning as a method of execution, and expanding this death sentence to the crimes of homosexuality, blasphemy and cursing one's parents.
For both more complete information and some nuancing, one should read the entire article. I am less familiar with some of the characters they describe but I have been on the e-mail list for Donald Wildmon's group and know that their agenda is cultural and political with little linking to its alleged biblical basis (and that is severely distorted). I believe the technical term is "batshit insane," but I have not reviewed the DSM-IV to verify that. They are, snark aside, very dangerous people and they mislead the uninformed faithful very day.

In short, Huckabee's candidacy is no joke. It is a threat to constitutional democracy and a way for religious extemism to move into the "acceptable" mainstream. The American people are not prepared for what Huckabee and his allies have to offer but his folksy, pleasant manner can lull the public into thinking he is a fine fellow. A homeboy. Plus, he's not Mormon (if you have that prejudice or one against flip-flopping plastic), not a corrupt egocentric philander, not too old for two terms, and not half asleep during his campaing (not to name names).

Be concerned. And be sure you let people know just how far out on the fringe this man is.

The Cunning Runt over at Little Bang Theory has an eloquent discourse on this issue set in a larger historic context. I highly recommend it. He has really pretty pictures too. Glad he's getting back in form after arm surgery.

John Aravosis has a note from Americablog:
Does Huckabee pray to Jesus with that mouth? So much for our Christ-invoking preacher. Now he's suggesting that civil rights advocates shove flag poles up their ass. Not a very nice, or mature, thing for any adult candidate to be saying, let alone the guy who says that God wants him to be president and that he's going to amend the Constitution to bring it in line with the Bible. I don't think the Bible says anything about shoving flag poles up your ass.

Oh yeah, Huckabee's also hanging out with the same white supremacist that Trent Lott and far too many southern Republican racists hang out with.

You can read the story about Myrtle Beach here. A Nation opinion article comments:
Again and again on the campaign trail in South Carolina, the state that led the south into rebellion against the Union, Huckabee has gone out of his way to discuss and defend the "right" of southerners to fly the Confederate flag in official settings.
Comments on this and how it is being ignored in the MSM at TPM. David Kurtz notes:
As far as I can tell, Huckabee hasn't done anything to distance himself from APAC or its ads, which may be difficult since the ads simply tout Huckabee's undisputed public position on the issue.

--the BB

I just hate when that happens

I saw Eileen's, then Kirstin's, so here's my fortune cookie comment:

My Fortune Cookie told me:
Don't you just hate it when even the aubergines are plotting against you?
Get a cookie from Miss Fortune
--the BB

It is such a secret place, the land of tears

We have a very special prince this Friday.

Here is a clue:

When a mystery is too overpowering, one dare not disobey.

Here is another:

I like my misfortunes to be taken seriously.

And another:

To forget a friend is sad. Not every one has had a friend. And if I forget him, I may become like the grown-ups who are no longer interested in anything but figures...


"If some one loves a flower, of which just one single blossom grows in all the millions and millions of stars, it is enough to make him happy just to look at the stars. He can say to himself, 'Somewhere, my flower is there...' But if the sheep eats the flower, in one moment all his stars will be darkened... And you think that is not important!"

Conceited people never hear anything but praise.

Yes, you have guessed it. Today we honor Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince), introduced to us by Antoine Saint-Exupéry.

Just that," said the fox. "To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you, I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world..."

"Men have forgotten this truth," said the fox. "But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed.

"The men where you live," said the little prince, "raise five thousand roses in the same garden-- and they do not find in it what they are looking for."

"They do not find it," I replied.

"And yet what they are looking for could be found in one single rose, or in a little water."

"Yes, that is true," I said.

And the little prince added:

"But the eyes are blind. One must look with the heart..."

One runs the risk of weeping a little, if one lets himself be tamed...

"In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing, when you look at the sky at night... you-- only you-- will have stars that can laugh!"

Here, then, is a great mystery. For you who also love the little prince, and for me, nothing in the universe can be the same if somewhere, we do not know where, a sheep that we never saw has-- yes or no?-- eaten a rose...

Look up at the sky. Ask yourselves: is it yes or no? Has the sheep eaten the flower? And you will see how everything changes...

And no grown-up will ever understand that this is a matter of so much importance!

Puisque c'est ma rose.

--the BB

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Word from Rio

Jonathan (Mad Priest) got this news from Father Eduardo in Rio:
I had an motorcycle accident when I was going to my parish in city of god. A taxi was running away from police and they crash me in the midle of the street, it was very scare... Was kind of seeing the death face to face..., anyway... The death ran away from me at the moment, and I'm still alive, with some headaches, but alive.

There is more. You can read about the alligators at OCICBW. The Mad One even throws in a musical bonus from his incredible collection. (No, not that evil Christmas music.)

The Christmas Appeal has concluded but let's keep Eduardo, the Anglican Church of Cristo Rei, the children of Cidade de Deus, and Luiz in our prayers.

Photo via OCICBW

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Thursday Constitution Blogging

Today we take a peek at the "full faith and credit" clause found in Article IV. Section 1.

Article. IV.
Section. 1.
Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.
Where federal statutes or regulations do not apply, states may set their own laws and regulations, procedures and standards. Lest we fall into chaos, a birth certificate issued in Montana is recognized in Missouri. Likewise the decision of a court in Delaware is recognized in Oregon. That sort of thing.

This basic principle of our system enters into debates about same-sex marriage. If I am legally married in Massachusetts, is my marriage recognized in Alabama?

Well, usually. But there have been exceptions and arguments around issues like miscegeny and all hell seems to have broken loose whenever gay marriage becomes, or threatens/promises to become, a possibility. Suddenly folks don't want to give "full faith and credit" to the actions of other states. And amendments to the Constitution are suggested to make sure no state is forced to recognize marriage among queers. This and related issues are discussed in the Wikipedia article on this topic.

Lots of interesting questions to be pursued there.
--the BB

Tuesday Prayer Blogging

I find the following prayer charming, perhaps because I know how far I fall from goodness. And yet I have desired it.

Lord, I am no hero, I have been careless, cowardly, sometimes all but mutinous. Punishment I have deserved, I deny it not. But a traitor I have never been; a deserter I have never been. I have tried to fight on Thy side in Thy battle against evil.

I have tried to do the duty which lay nearest me; and to leave whatever Thou didst commit to my charge a little better than I found it.

I have not been good, but at least I have tried to be good. Take the will for the deed, good Lord. Strike not my unworthy name off the roll call… which is the blessed company of all faithful people… even though I stand lowest and last upon the list. Amen.
—Charles Kingsley (1819-1875)

From Give Us Grace: An Anthology of Anglican Prayers, edited by Christopher L. Webber (Morehouse Publishing, 2004)
--the BB

Like, wow!

Well, this isn't too big a surprise is it? No, when everyone else was smoking dope I had not yet tried it. But later.... When everyone was talking about "free love" I was a virgin. But later.... When folks were dropping acid I wasn't tempted. And never have been.

Yes, I was behind the curve and generally deemed a total square by all, but I did graduate in 1968 (and the movie The Graduate captured a lot). I protested the Vietnam War, had a bumper sticker (on the 1951 Dodge that my grandmother had once driven) reading "America: change it or lose it." I questioned the corporatism and consumerism that seemed to be eating away at the soul of the nation (and still are). I deplored the staid, unimaginative world of my parents' generation. I had an upside down flag in my dorm room proclaiming our nation in distress. (Some things either never change or, lamentably, recur). To my mother's horror I put embroidered patches on my jeans. And I questioned.

You are a Hippie

You are a total hippie. While you may not wear birks or smell of incense, you have the soul of a hippie.
You don't trust authority, and you do as you please. You're willing to take a stand, even when what you believe isn't popular.

You like to experiment with ideas, lifestyles, and different subcultures.
You always gravitate toward what's radical and subversive. Normal, mainstream culture doesn't really resonate with you.

Don't stop questioning. Ever!
--the BB

Österreich macht 32

Greetings to our visitor from Austria who brings the flag collection up to 32.

Once again I repeat the invitation for visitors to join in comments if you are so inclined.

Hypocrisy or ignorance?

Reuters photo by Kevin Lamarque via Dependable Renegade
Reuters photo by Larry Downing via Watertiger

Barry Lando at AlterNet writes:
To thank the Saudis for supporting the latest, feeble U.S. peace efforts in the Middle East, Bush is promising them 20 billion dollars in sophisticated weapons—including 121 million dollars worth of precision guided bombs.


Which brings us to another irony of the current Bush trip. A few days ago in Abu Dhabi, trying to whip up support for U.S. policy, he gave a speech condemning Iran and extolling the virtues of democracy from the cavernous marble auditorium of a 3 billion dollar gold plated hotel.

A strange choice of venue: the rulers of Abu Dhabi and Dubai and the rest of the emirates give short shrift to democracy themselves.
What was this trip to the Middle East: a fashion show with Bush sending words down the runway that everyone could ooh and aah over but nobody was going to buy? In other words, a glitzy media event lacking in substance. [Sorry, couturiers of the world.]

Atrios summed it up thusly:
Spreading freedom by distributing high tech weapons to brutal oligarchies and dictatorships. It's the Bush way.
h/t to A. J. Rossmiller at Americablog.

Steve Benen at Crooks and Liars pointed me to Newsweek's Michael Hirsh, who had this to say about the Preznit's trip:
A day after George W. Bush gave his big democracy speech and declared the opening of "a great new era … founded on the equality of all people"—a line he delivered at the astonishingly opulent Emirates Palace hotel, where most of the $2,450-a-night suites are reserved for visiting royals—the president flew to Saudi Arabia on Monday. There he planned to spend a day with King Abdullah at his ranch, where the monarch keeps 150 Arabian stallions for his pleasure, and thousands of goats and sheep "bred to feed the guests at the King's royal banquets," as the White House put it in the "press kit" it handed out to reporters on the eve of the president's eight-day Mideast tour. Bush was also expected to take time out to meet with a group of "Saudi entrepreneurs."

What could not be found on Bush's schedule was one Saudi dissident or political activist, much less a democrat. Just a day after his speech in Abu Dhabi—and three years after declaring in his second inaugural address that "it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture"—the president made time for a tour of Saudi Arabia's National History Museum but not for a meeting with Fouad al-Farhan. Farhan, Saudi Arabia's most popular blogger, was arrested in Jidda last month for daring to defend a group of Saudis who wanted to form a civil rights group. [emphasis mine]
Nothing Bush has ever done gives evidence that he believes in democracy.
--the BB


Those who visit our friends at JN1034 were startled by the announcement of an offline emergency on 4 January, followed by no blogging. We held them in our prayers. Since then there have been only two posts, the most recent having ominous overtones.

The delicate nature of things and the precarious position of those who speak out on behalf of LGBT people within the Orthodox Church combine to make it unlikely that faithful readers will, or should, learn all that is going on--BUT WE KNOW OUR ORTHODOX BROTHERS AND SISTERS NEED OUR PRAYER.

So this is a plea for a strong prayer vigil. You may drop by and send them your love and by all means let us hold them in our hearts before God.

May the Holy Angels guard and defend them.

May the Theotokos cast her mantle over them.

May Christ be their Light, their Peace, their Shield, and their Joy.

May Truth and Righteousness prevail.

Original image borrowed from JN1034

Having risen from sleep I hasten to you,

O Lord, Lover of humanity,

and by Your loving-kindness

I strive to do your work,

and I pray to You:

help me at all times,

in everything,

and deliver me

from every evil thing of the world

and every attack of the devil,

and lead me into Your eternal Kingdom.

For You are my Creator,

the Giver and Provider of every good,

and all my hope is in You,

and to You I send up glory, now and ever,

and to the ages of ages. Amen.

--Third Prayer of St. Makarios the Great

--the BB

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Ya son treinta y uno

And, since Fran was thinking of a series of countries beginning with "I," Indonesia was one that she named, so kudos to Fran.

[Bonus trivia item: Did y'all know that "kudos" is a singular Greek word, not a plural? Rhymes with "hoss" not with "doze." So, next time, remember that it takes a singular verb, just as media requires a plural verb form. This moment of pedantry was brought to you by my sensitive ears. We now return to our regular program.]

Welcome, friends, from across the Pacific and from the other end of the Americas. Nice to have you here.

The Argentine flag is another that I have in my physical collection, along with Chile, both countries that my ex visited on business trips. Nor can I forget Monica the Spanish tutor who was from Argentina.

Selamat! I am honored also to have a visit from Indonesia. As the internet links folks from all around the globe I pray that people may connect in friendship and dialogue, fostering the vision of Dr. King (see below) so that all peoples may live together in peace and justice, working together for the good of all.
--the BB

The Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.

From Dr. King's Nobel Prize acceptance speech, December 10, 1964:

Civilization and violence are antithetical concepts. Negroes of the United States, following the people of India, have demonstrated that nonviolence is not sterile passivity, but a powerful moral force which makes for social transformation. Sooner or later all the people of the world will have to discover a way to live together in peace, and thereby transform this pending cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood.

If this is to be achieved, man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love. The tortuous road which has led from Montgomery, Alabama, to Oslo bears witness to this truth. This is a road over which millions of Negroes are travelling to find a new sense of dignity.

This same road has opened for all Americans a new ear of progress and hope. It has led to a new Civil Rights bill, and it will, I am convinced, be widened and lengthened into a superhighway of justice as Negro and white men in increasing numbers create alliances to overcome their common problems.

I accept this award today with an abiding faith in America and an audacious faith in the future of mankind. I refuse to accept despair as the final response to the ambiguities of history. I refuse to accept the idea that the "isness" of man's present nature makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal "oughtness" that forever confronts him.

I refuse to accept the idea that man is mere flotsom and jetsom in the river of life unable to influence the unfolding events which surround him. I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality.

I refuse to accept the cynical notion that nation after nation must spiral down a militaristic stairway into the hell of thermonuclear destruction. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant.

I believe that even amid today's motor bursts and whining bullets, there is still hope for a brighter tomorrow. I believe that wounded justice, lying prostrate on the blood-flowing streets of our nations, can be lifted from this dust of shame to reign supreme among the children of men.

I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits. I believe that what self-centered men have torn down, men other-centered can build up. I still believe that one day mankind will bow before the altars of God and be crowned triumphant over war and bloodshed, and nonviolent redemptive goodwill will proclaim the rule of the land.

"And the lion and the lamb shall lie down together and every man shall sit under his own vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid."

I still believe that we shall overcome.
Thank you, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. You inspired me when I was a teenager and your words continue to inspire. May we do our part to live up to your vision. --the BB

Pseudopiskie tempted me with this one too

What Byzigenous Buddhapalian Means

You are full of energy. You are spirited and boisterous.
You are bold and daring. You are willing to do some pretty outrageous things.
Your high energy sometimes gets you in trouble. You can have a pretty bad temper at times.

You are a free spirit, and you resent anyone who tries to fence you in.
You are unpredictable, adventurous, and always a little surprising.
You may miss out by not settling down, but you're too busy having fun to care.

You are incredibly wise and perceptive. You have a lot of life experience.
You are a natural peacemaker, and you are especially good at helping others get along.
But keeping the peace in your own life is not easy. You see things very differently, and it's hard to get you to budge.

You tend to be pretty tightly wound. It's easy to get you excited... which can be a good or bad thing.
You have a lot of enthusiasm, but it fades rather quickly. You don't stick with any one thing for very long.
You have the drive to accomplish a lot in a short amount of time. Your biggest problem is making sure you finish the projects you start.

You are deeply philosophical and thoughtful. You tend to analyze every aspect of your life.
You are intuitive, brilliant, and quite introverted. You value your time alone.
Often times, you are grumpy with other people. You don't appreciate them trying to interfere in your affairs.

You are friendly, charming, and warm. You get along with almost everyone.
You work hard not to rock the boat. Your easy going attitude brings people together.
At times, you can be a little flaky and irresponsible. But for the important things, you pull it together.

You are very intuitive and wise. You understand the world better than most people.
You also have a very active imagination. You often get carried away with your thoughts.
You are prone to a little paranoia and jealousy. You sometimes go overboard in interpreting signals.

You are well rounded, with a complete perspective on life.
You are solid and dependable. You are loyal, and people can count on you.
At times, you can be a bit too serious. You tend to put too much pressure on yourself.

You are a very lucky person. Things just always seem to go your way.
And because you're so lucky, you don't really have a lot of worries. You just hope for the best in life.
You're sometimes a little guilty of being greedy. Spread your luck around a little to people who need it.

You are the total package - suave, sexy, smart, and strong.
You have the whole world under your spell, and you can influence almost everyone you know.
You don't always resist your urges to crush the weak. Just remember, they don't have as much going for them as you do.

You are balanced, orderly, and organized. You like your ducks in a row.
You are powerful and competent, especially in the workplace.
People can see you as stubborn and headstrong. You definitely have a dominant personality.

You are truly an original person. You have amazing ideas, and the power to carry them out.
Success comes rather easily for you... especially in business and academia.
Some people find you to be selfish and a bit overbearing. You're a strong person.

You are usually the best at everything ... you strive for perfection.
You are confident, authoritative, and aggressive.
You have the classic "Type A" personality.

You are influential and persuasive. You tend to have a lot of power over people.
Generally, you use your powers for good. You excel at solving other people's problems.
Occasionally, you do get a little selfish and persuade people to do things that are only in your interest.

You are relaxed, chill, and very likely to go with the flow.
You are light hearted and accepting. You don't get worked up easily.
Well adjusted and incredibly happy, many people wonder what your secret to life is.

Scratch the Type A bit. Ugh.

At least half of the comments above recurred when using my full legal name. Some of the new stuff that popped up was way off base. Perhaps I am more BB than I am the signature on checks.
--the BB

Pseudopikie led me astray

... and, I confess, I went willingly.

You Belong in Summer

Energetic, creative, and very curious about the world...
You're not going to let anything hold you back, especially a cold day.
Whether you're chilling out at the beach or partying all night, you live for the warm weather.

I wavered on one question. Tried again with my other answer and it shifted to spring but that also clarified my response. I am a heliolater, you see. So bring on the summer sun, hours at the beach, and my favorite SPF zero. [Don't even begin the lectures, folks.]

I love springtime, and autumn too, but do think that my soul is a summer soul. You can forget that partying all night bit, however. That was never me, even when young.
--the BB

Monday, January 14, 2008

Taking counsel for the renewal and mission of the Church

Faithful Episcopalians are gathering to take counsel together for the restoration of the Episcopal Church in dioceses where the leadership has castigated TEC and abandoned it or is threatening to abandon it.

Forth Worth Via Media is sponsoring a gathering for Episcopalians in the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth on January 19. [Story at Fr Jake's; their site here.]

Remain Episcopal and national church leaders will gather Episcopalians in the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin on January 26. [Story at Fr Jake's; their site here.]

These folks need prayer, financial support, consolation and encouragement. If you are near enough to do it, showing up in solidarity ain't a bad idea either.

Almighty and everliving God, source of all wisdom and understanding, be present with those who take counsel for the renewal and mission of your Church. Teach us in all things to seek first your honor and glory. Guide us to perceive what is right, and grant us both the courage to pursue it and the grace to accomplish it; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
(BCP, 818)
--the BB

On the matter of texture

Once while discussing journeys and destinations with a friend I opined that we have different starting places but ultimately come to the same destination (my eschatological hope coming through there). He agreed but said that because of our differing journeys the texture will not be the same. We were speaking metaphorically of the many divides in we experience, the ways we differ, the ways our experiences are colored so differently by context, limitations and possibilities, personal and collective history--how, for instance, men and women experience the world differently though always within our shared humanity. By the time we reach the "other side of glory" we find ourselves in the same gracious presence, finding our fulfillment in the One who transcends all our names and concepts. But we arrive there with a variety of textures. I liked that perspective.

I am now engaged in revising the first draft of my novel. Some suggestions from friends have come in and more are forthcoming, but now I have a chance to return after a time away and think about what I have told (and not told). There are places where I can make the story tighter and places I have limned too vaguely. Overall folks have thus far found the tale engaging enough and rich with characters who are multi-dimensional. OK, I probably flatter myself in this recounting of feedback.

But texture is important to me. I try to visualize these people and the world they move about in and their interpersonal context as richly as possible so that what I relate will have, you guessed it, texture.

Given the complexity of the tale (and that it lays the groundwork for several volumes to follow), you may well imagine the spreadsheets, detailed maps, and other tools that help me keep it all straight. There were timelines laying out the plot, who was where when and what happened day by day, so I could tell the story without falling all over myself. There were spreadsheets that helped me keep track of all the characters and places and how they relate to one another and what they look and act like. Now I have new genealogical softward and more fictional characters in it than I have of my own family (separate files, of course). In the process of pondering the background of sequels I have looked much more deeply at the families of my characters.

I now know things I did not know when I first began to tell the tale. I know about secret oaths, about family relationships, about family members lost in the plague years. I also know whose children will marry whom in the next generation, binding characters in the first book more closely together. In short, I just know more about them. I also have a better idea of the size of the capital of the tribe and a clearer sense of its physical nature and extent.

So as I work my way through the story I correct very minor items and drop in more texture, a few of the things I have learned since the beginning. How will readers believe if I do not? And yes, my friends, I do believe.
--the BB

Fran got it..with delays

Fran suggested India and a couple of other countries beginning with the letter "I." Now we must grant that a few other countries got here first, but a visitor from India stopped by today.

Here is a mantra that we learned when I took a course on Hindu wisdom from a fine Jesuit teacher.

Lead us from non-being into being,
from darkness into light,
from death into deathlessness.

I still chant it by myself from time to time.
--the BB

Sober assessment

The most sensible comment I've seen on the so-called recent confrontation in the Gulf of Hormuz is this by A. J. Rossmiller on Americablog:
The comparison to the USS Cole is one that I've been hearing a lot, but it's not really a helpful analogy, and here's why: the Cole attack was carried out by terrorists, i.e., there was nobody for us to hit back against. Were an Iranian navy ship to suddenly decide to randomly carry out a suicide attack against a US ship, we'd bomb Iran back to the stone age, and of course they know that. There's absolutely *no* incentive for them to do such a thing, which is why we can coexist all the time in the Gulf with their ships. Iran is absolutely not going to attack us (at least not openly) because they're a state, not a terrorist organization. So while they *could* have done something to the ship, it's so extraordinarily unlikely that to hype it like it was a close call or something seems pretty disingenuous of the administration.

Given that no one has identified the source of the threatening sound byte that was added to the video, it seems that a threatening mountain has been created out of a perfectly ordinary molehill. Fortunately, the public is increasingly skeptical of the administration that cried wolf.
--the BB

Four more since yesterday morning!

I have to confess here that my physical flag collection only has one of these four flags: South Africa.  I got to meet a wonderful South African couple when we were having our trees trimmed (when I lived in the East Bay hills in California).  I chatted with them just after South Africa had its first elections with black citizens fully enfranchised.  The whole idea of a new South Africa emerging was so exciting I could hardly wait to get their new flag.  The other two African flags I have are Kenya and Zimbabwe.  I wonder if we will see visitors from there.

Hello to Singapore!  You know I keep looking for any ties to different countries, no matter how tenuous.  This blog does tout me as a world citizen, after all.  One of the great people I got to meet while a pastor in Oakland was a woman born in Singapore who later lived many years in Canada, then the Boston area, before coming to Oakland.  She gave me a great perspective of a lifelong Anglican who had lived in three countries and was a delightful musician.  Here's to you, Evelyn.

My ex has been to Budapest for a business trip but I, alas, have not.  I would dearly love to visit Eastern Europe and see Hungary and Bulgaria.

It's a joy to have visitors from around the world.  Welcome to you all!

Any guesses who might be next?
--the BB

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Returning stolen goods

Mad Priest drew my attention to the ABC's joining the voices that call for the return of the Lindisfarne Gospels to Northumbria. The Journal Live reports:
THE leader of the Church of England yesterday backed the campaign to bring the Lindisfarne Gospels “home”.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, said on a visit to Durham: “It would be wonderful if the Gospels were returned to their spiritual home, their historical home alongside St Cuthbert, who is buried in this cathedral.

“I appreciate there would be obstacles to overcome, and the conditions would have to be right, but I would love to see them here and I see no reason why the right conditions should not be found here to protect these manuscripts.”

His comments lend weight to a mounting campaign for the long-term loan of the Gospels to the North-East.

Incipit of Matthew's Gospel, Lindisfarne Gospels
Illumination by St Eadfrith of Lindisfarne

The Lindisfarne Gospels currently reside in the British Library in London. I saw them in 1997 while the British Library was still housed adjacent to the British Museum, just before moving to separate digs.

I have a rather strong personal devotion to St Cuthbert, having served as vicar of St Cuthbert's in Oakland for a decade. But it is more than that. I have sensed his presence and relied on his support and, sometimes, direction. So this is an emotional issue for me.

This is one time I can agree with the Grand Tufti. He may have only been making nice on the day that Durham University gave him an honorary doctorate but I join him in saying the Gospels should be with Cuthbert.
Tomb of Saint Cuthbert, Durham Cathedral

Lapinbizarre opines that they should go to Lindisfarne and that the Stonyhurst Gospel that was actually buried with Cuthbert should be relinquished by the Roman Catholics and returned too, in the course of which he implies that this may be great silliness. [See comments at Maddy's.]

Holy Cuthbert, pray for us.
Holy Eadfrith, pray for us.
All ye saints of the Holy Island, pray for us.

--the BB