Saturday, November 25, 2006

Saturday morning cat fights

It's Saturday morning, and both contenders have entered the ring at the Saintly household. On the left is Jack the Brat, the scrappy revisionist upstart. He's already chewing up the carpet in anticipation of the match (one of the reasons the Saintly household has no decent carpets). On the right is Elvis, the big fundagelical fatcat.

They tangle. It's fast and flurious.

Jack the Brat uses his famous grab-and-bite technique.

Elvis returns with a mean right hook.

Jack retires to his corner, a look of innocence on his face, though he has strands of Elvis' fur in his mouth.

Elvis inquires, "Other cat? What other cat?"

Unlike people, they quit before anyone really gets hurt.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thank you for this new morning

I woke up early this morning, around 5:30, before the alarm sounded. I couldn't go back to sleep, so I got up and put on a pot of coffee.

Coffee cup in hand, I watched the sleeping earth wake to the rays of the sun.

Thank you, God, for this beautiful, frail island Earth. Thank you for its incredible beauty. Thank you for its incredible variety of life.

From my windows, I can watch some of that incredible variety of life, especially the birds native to Central Florida. Great and small herons, egrets (probably my favorites), sandhill cranes on occasion. Redheaded woodpeckers. Cardinals. Doves. Anhingas. Hawks. Some are just passing by; some have made homes in the little hammocks of trees on either side of my house, along with squirrels, moles, armadillos (hated by my neighbor, but I don't mind them), black snakes and garter snakes. Lots of lizards.

As I get older and realize more the frailty of life, stewardship of the Earth becomes a more and more important concern to me. This beauty, this life, must be protected. We must be the stewards -- the defenders -- of the Earth God intended us to be.

Thank you Lord, for appointing those defenders of your realm who lead us in conservation.

Most everyone knows the lyrics to "Morning Has Broken," (Bunessan), but some don't know the second half of Eleanor Farjeon's poem. It fit the morning perfectly, except there are no mountains in Central Florida. The clouds roll in and peak the tall-sand pines, instead.

This poem fits my mood exactly. The sun has risen and cut me loose from the shadows; it fills me with joy; it fills me with praise.

Cool the gray clouds roll
peaking the mountains,
Gull in her free flight
swooping the skies:
Praise for the mystery
misting the morning
Behind the shadow
waiting to shine.
I am the sunrise
warming the heavens,
Spilling my warm glow
over the earth:
Praise for the brightness
of this new morning
Filling my spirit
with Your great love.
Mine is a turning,
mine is a new life;
Mine is a journey
closer to You:
Praise for the sweet glimpse
caught in a moment,
Joy breathing deeply
dancing in flight.


Praise the mystery of each morning. Praise the mystery of God's love.

Thank you Lord, for the gift of life itself. Thank you for the special people around me. Thank you for renewing my zest for life.

Thank you for everything.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Hot off the press

YEEEOWSER! Schori gets tough!

May the ultracon bishops who voted for Schori in an attempt to create dissension stay up late with heartburn tonight, after reading this, hot off the press from Episcopal News Service:

San Joaquin bishop sent letter from Presiding Bishop

Monday, November 20, 2006

Bishop John-David Schofield of the Diocese of San Joaquin

[Episcopal News Service] Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori -- concerned by current affairs in the Fresno-based Diocese of San Joaquin, California -- has written to its bishop, the Rt. Rev. John-David Schofield. The diocese, which is scheduled to meet in convention December 1-2, includes an estimated 10,000 Episcopalians in some 48 congregations. The text of Jefferts Schori's November 20 letter follows.
November 20, 2006

The Rt. Rev. John-David Schofield
Diocese of San Joaquin
4159 E. Dakota Avenue
Fresno, California 93726

My dear brother:

I have seen reports of your letter to parishes in the Diocese of San Joaquin, which apparently urges delegates to your upcoming Diocesan Convention to take action to leave the Episcopal Church. I would ask you to confirm the accuracy of those reports. If true, you must be aware that such action would likely be seen as a violation of your ordination vows to "uphold the doctrine, discipline, and worship of Christ as this Church has received them." I must strongly urge you to consider the consequences of such action, not only for yourself but especially for all of the Episcopalians under your pastoral charge and care.

I certainly understand that you personally disagree with decisions by General Conventions over the past 30 and more years. You have, however, taken vows three times over that period to uphold the "doctrine, discipline, and worship of the Episcopal Church." If you now feel that you can no longer do so, the more honorable course would be to renounce your orders in this Church and seek a home elsewhere. Your public assertion that your duty is to violate those vows puts many, many people at hazard of profound spiritual violence. I urge you, as a pastor, to consider that hazard with the utmost gravity.

As you contemplate this action I would also remind you of the trust which you and I both hold for those who have come before and those who will come after us. None of us has received the property held by the Church today to use as we will. We have received it as stewards, for those who enjoy it today and those who will be blessed by the ministry its use will permit in the future. Our forebears did not build churches or give memorials with the intent that they be removed from the Episcopal Church. Nor did our forebears give liberally to fund endowments with the intent that they be consumed by litigation.

The Church will endure whatever decision you make in San Joaquin. The people who are its members, however, will suffer in the midst of this conflict, and probably suffer unnecessarily. Jesus calls us to take up our crosses daily, but not in the service of division and antagonism. He calls us to take up our crosses in his service of reconciling the world to God. Would that you might lead the people of San Joaquin toward decisions that build up the Body, that bring abundant life to those within and beyond our Church, that restore us to oneness.

I stand ready for conversation and reconciliation. May God bless your deliberation.

I remain

Your servant in Christ,


The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate

It's going to be an interesting one to watch. I'm betting on Schori.

Things have been very quiet in the Diocese of Central Florida. There's been talk "nothing will happen" and talk that home churches could become the wave of the future for some of the faithful Episcopal remnant.

We're still in "wait and see" mode.

I remember our bishop backed down back in '97, after the presiding bishop came down hard on those bishops who tried to form a parallel church.

Now, he has some right-wing rabble rousers pushing him on, but Schori's coming down hard. She's what we need, I believe. Compassionate and tough.

In the meantime, Episcopal Voices members are planning to make a strong showing at the diocesan convention in January, with some resolutions of our own, like acceding to the canons and constitution of the church.

More wait and see time.

Shocking non-Christian stuff

In church, even

Yesterday, at the Church of Open Arms, we observed one of my favorite days of the year. The day borrows from the Hebrew Feast of Tabernacles, the celebration of the harvest.

A sukkah, a crude temporary shelter with a palm-fronded roof, provides the shelter, just as tents and crude structures provided the only shelter to the people who spent 40 years in the wilderness, searching for the Promised Land. They had to depend on God to cover them with His protection.

They kinda had nada.

A sukkah covered the altar yesterday, adding a touch of leafy green and rough 2-by-four.

After communion, the congregation brought canned goods (representing the fruits of our harvests) to go to the needy, and stored it under the sukkah.

And the needy are really needy -- Central Florida is filling not only with the well-to-do who have winter homes here; it's filling, as it does every winter, with the poor who want to escape the cold, and hope to find work and a new life in Central Florida.

Often, all they find is a hard time and nights colder than they expected.

So this combination of ancient and modern celebration serves a practical purpose. And it's just fun. Prayers and music have a spirited, Messianic flavor on this day, and there's even dancing.

Our Christian roots are in these ancient celebrations. Christianity didn't spring up from nowhere -- Jesus didn't float down to Earth on a cloud. He was born into a human, Jewish family. That was the appointed place and time for him to pitch his frail tent of a human body among us, and fulfill the prophecies.

Lucky for us, we are heirs of Abraham through adoption.

Let's sing, dance, clap our hands and make a joyous noise to the Lord.


Father J brought in a bedraggled little two-foot Christmas tree and sat it on the altar rail. Another "heathenish" custom, the Christmas tree.

As I looked at this Charlie Brown creation, I thought, "It's kind of like me."

I was raised in a nominally Christian household, but just nominally, in name only.

Like the pagan Christmas tree, and like so many of the first Christians, I've been brought into the church -- converted -- to serve Christ.

Another adoption.

The Christmas tree, a pagan symbol of the regeneration of life and the promise of spring to come, has become the evergreen symbol of life eternal: Jesus' birth, death and resurrection.

That little tree wasn't much to look at, but it was full of promise. Through Christ, it becomes beautiful.

Mazel tov, y'all!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

I'm baaack

To any faithful readers - sorry to be away from my blogging post so long. It's the result of a combination of good news and bad news.

The good news is, I had a wonderful little vacation. I joined 80-some other people from my church on a three-day Caribbean cruise, and it was wonderful. I'd been looking forward to this for months, and it didn't disappoint, although I never cracked one of the paperbacks I brought with me.

No, I was too busy going to shows on board, going ashore at stops at Nassau and Coco Cay, eating (constantly), dancing, wave running, socializing, and having an all-around great time.

I had good enough time to even plug it: I was on Royal Caribbean's Sovereign of the Seas. It's a beautiful ship, and the service was terrific. The crew was friendly and attentive, the food was delicious and too plentiful for my waistline.

The tiny cabin on a lower deck in what I fondly called "steerage" was barely big enough to turn around in. The shower was designed for Lilliputians and the water pipes screamed horribly, but who cares.

It was a well-needed and well-appreciated vacation.

I couldn't take the digital camera, and haven't even dropped off film for developing, but when I get some photos, I'll post them.

The bad news is, my home computer's in the shop, getting worked on.

I haven't been able to get online at home for the past couple of weeks, since my renter moved out and took his internet connection with him (the nerve). I asked the cable company to hook me up to a cheaper version of the internet, and apparently, the card is bad -- I think from a power surge it got in a previous life.

So, here I am, blogging at the office after pushing for a big deadline for the big Thanksgiving edition, but hopefully, I'll be back in operation at home sooon.

Gotta go now.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Vive la Presiding Bishop

I couldn't attend the investiture in person, and wasn't even able to watch it Saturday on TV. But I'm watching now, via the Internet.


Tears came to my eyes as I watched Katharine Jefferts Schori accept the water, wine, bread oil and primatial staff. This is a truly historic and remarkable time, and watching her, I believe Schori will be a terrific presiding bishop -- strong, calm, loving and firm. She was a reflection of Christ.

The message of inclusion, of diversity, of those things which had been thrown down being raised up, and reconciliation came through loud and clear.

I wonder if any other presiding bishops have worn lavender during their investiture?

Lord, grant Katharine the strength, wisdom and confidence to do your work. Let it be a blessing to her, and her a blessing to us all. Lead her to be gentle as a dove and wise as a serpent as she proclaims the Gospel, always, and leads your church. Help her in all things. Amen.

Shalom, y'all!