Thursday, October 27, 2005

And don't let the door hit you on the backside

Now that Hurricane Wilma has come and gone, pushed rapidly through Central Florida by a cold front, my attention has turned to church politics.

Remember when, after the ordination of Gene Robinson, the ultraconservative-fundamentalist leaders in the church decided they were "Anglican" and not Episcopalian? The focus was on being Anglican — paugh on this "revisionist" Episcopal Church!

Now, the ultracon mouthpieces aren't too happy with Anglican things, like the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Church of England or Robin Eames, either. They just aren't following the program.

What to do, with the threatened break away from the Anglican Church, and Archbishop Peter Akinola writing snippy letters to Eames and all?

Maybe since our Network bishops are forming alliances with Southern Cone (Southern Hemisphere) bishops in Africa, the Caribbean and Asia, they can change their name for at least a third time.

Yes, they can go from "American Anglican Council" to "Anglican Network" to ... "American Conehead Council (ACC)," demonstrating their true allegiance.

Just imagine. They can have special Conehead decoder rings to decipher the Bible's one, true and Conehead interpretation.

For fundraisers, they can sell special Conehead x-ray vision glasses, guaranteed to detect any homosexual tendencies on the part of clergy or prospective clergy, and vestry members and lay leaders.

Clergy and parishioners will have to sign the "Conehead Covenant" instead of the "Windsor Covenant."

It will be a brave, new world.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Waiting for Wilma

Hurricane Wilma is like her sister, Ophelia. She likes to keep everyone guessing. She continues her dance on the Yucatan, a guest who coyly declines to say when she'll leave.

When she does, she'll leave her hurricane calling card: death and misery. My heart goes out to the people there.

Wilma's shy about her plans. We're not sure when she will leave the Yucatan or how fast she will make tracks across the water toward Florida, when she'll hit, where she'll hit, and how hard she'll hit. The waiting is nerve-wracking for hurricane-weary Floridians. Some figure they survived everything last year, and they'll just ride it out, whatever comes.

Not the right attitude.

The storm will likely be much weaker before she hits Florida, but she will still be a menace, especially to areas still trying to recover from last year's storms. The southwest coast is the most vulnerable, but even here, in Central Florida, we're still dealing with too much water and damages left from last year's unprecedented three hurricane hits.

We have to keep watching ... and waitng. And praying.

God, please bless the storm-wracked with evidence of your presence, and tend to the fearful, the dying and the grieving. Give them comfort and peace, and show the survivors the way to safety. Prepare your relief-workers for what they must do, trusting in you and your goodness. In Christ's name, Amen.

The joy of vinyl

Compact discs are handy. They're obviously compact and portable. Most of them don't skip.

I have a confession, though: I miss those spinning discs that were called "LPs," or long-play albums, that have mostly disappeared from record-store shelves.

Maybe the nostalgia for LPs is because it seemed more exciting to buy recorded music in my youth. I would rush home with my purchase, carefully remove the cellophane wrapping, and smell the sweet scent of new vinyl.

The little hiss from the speakers as the needle made contact with the album's outer grooves was the sound of anticipation; then the music began.

Album covers were big enough to display real art. Many albums had double covers to open, and inside were lyrics to read along with the music, and memorize.

When I reallly "grooved" on a song, I could pick up the needle's arm, put the needle back to the beginning of the tune, and listen to it over and over again.

A biography of the performer(s) was usually printed on the back of the album cover, so I learned tidbits about these favorite artists. I never bought fan magazines.

Ah, the days of Simon and Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, Marianne Faithful, and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. Folk-rock. Motown. The Beatles.

Then came the years of infamy, a black mark on the history of music: no, not disco, but eight-track tapes. Oh, horrors. They tangled. They dragged. Suddenly, voices descended three octaves and sounded like utterances of doom.

Nevertheless, the cool kids all had some kind of eight-track players in their cars. Never mind if they had to stop and deal with tape spewing from the players like spaghetti from a pasta maker, or if the machines' batteries died.

I refused to have anything to do with these afflictions on the ears and psyche of humanity.

A little later came cassettes, and for a long time, I was convinced they were just slightly different versions of eight-tracks, and not to be trusted.

Then came compact discs (CDs), just when I had finally installed a cassette player in my car. Sigh. I still drive around with a portable CD player plugged into my car's cigarette lighter, and I enjoy loading up my CD player at home.

Sometimes, though, I go to my old record player, relegated to the back room, and play some of my elderly albums. I still have the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and Bob Dylan's Nashville Skyline among a stack of albums that have survived the years.

I think I hear Cat Stevens' Tea for the Tillerman calling me. Catch you later.

Betsy and Jack the Brat follow me to the back room to see what I'm doing. Would you believe my little baby Jack now weighs 11 pounds? He went to the vet today for his annual.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

So close your eyes

Hold Demi at Pilgrim's Progress in your prayers -- she lost her father Saturday morning.

She blogged about hearing the song "Stardust" in a dream and realizing it was about her dad's life and death.

It reminded me that I had a song in my head, from the time in June, in Honduras, that I learned of my younger brother's death, all the way back to the States. It was James Taylor singing "Close Your Eyes"

So close your eyes
You can close your eyes
It's all right
I don't know no love songs
And I can't sing the blues anymore
But I can sing this song
And you can sing this song when I'm gone

Monday, October 10, 2005

Blessing the animals

Sunday, I took two of my pets to church for a Blessing of the Animals.

For those who are unfamiliar with Episcopal traditions, the life and ministry of St. Francis of Assisi is observed on Oct. 4. Along with his ministry to the poor, the sick and the downtrodden, St. Francis was known for having an affinity with animals, and the legends say even the wild animals of the forest would come to him peaceably, Thus, the Blessing of the Animals is done near this date, in St. Francis' honor.

I took Betsy and Jack the Brat. I had to leave one of the cats home because I only have one pet carrier now, and Elvis ended up staying home this time -- not that he minded. They won't both fit in the carrier; Elvis can hardly fit in it by himself. I'm going to bless him tonight with my stash of holy water, and he can get a priestly blessing next time.

Betsy, a very social dog, enjoyed the whole event and the chance to visit with other dogs, particularly a Rottweiler who was giving her the eye. She was most appreciative of the blessing she received, and gave the Father a big, slurpy kiss in the face to show her appreciation.

Jack the Brat had a dimmer view of the event, and stayed curled up in the back of his carrier. I flick water on him to chase him off the kitchen counter, and I'm sure he took the holy water sprinkled on him in the same light -- only, he had no place to run.

Oh, well, he needed a special blessing.

Let me digress: Last weekend, I found two tiny black-racer snakes dead on the floor next to the sliding doors. Jack had apparently pulled them through the tiny space above the runner. He spends a lot of time there, watching lizards on the patio through the glass, and scrabbles his paws along the tracks, somehow getting hold of a tail once in a while with his sharp claws. Maybe I need to keep them trimmed very short.

How my little hunter did it, I don't know, but I don't think the snakes got in by themselves. My guess is they got up around the door to get out of the rain that night and got their tails in the space under the door that runs back and forth. They were probably dead by the time he pulled them under the door. I found them with one's head bitten off and one's tail bitten off, and a blotch of blood next to the door. Yuch. Anyway, it's lucky they weren't pygmy rattlers -- I might have a dead cat. So, Jack needed the blessing for protection.

Anyway, people brought dogs and cats of all sizes, shapes, and degree of furriness for blessings, and there were two big birds, as well. After the blessings, people were served animal crackers and pets were served people crackers.

What fun! Then Jack, Betsy and I took a ride to the beachside.