Saturday, December 29, 2007

Happy Holidays from sunny Florida



Warm season's greetings from sunny Florida! I snapped the photo of this gator at the run at Blue Spring State Park.

It's been gator weather - warm and sunny, after just a couple of cool days right before Christmas. Highs in the 80s today. It's supposed to turn chilly right after New Year.



This baby is enjoying the sunshine while he can get it. He says, stop on by, chat a while.

A big Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Glad tidings



Another Christmas Day is gone, but I'm trying to enjoy the season of Christmas. It seems like I've done nothing but work. I get very limited paid time off from work, and was here at the office for a good part of Christmas Eve, then went home.

I had Christmas Eve dinner at the home of one of the evangelical/Pentecostal ministers in town, and it was a lovely Italian-style buffet - his family is Italian. Yes, I'm ecumenical -- I get around! Then, I went to the late Christmas Eve service, where I put on a Santa hat to do one of the readings. With my red sweater and long, black skirt, I was Mrs. Santa Claus.

Friends shared Christmas Day dinner with me. I baked a pecan pie to bring, and we played board games after dinner.


Betsy's another year older

Betsy got her annual a couple of weeks ago, and the vet is now calling her a "senior" dog. Betsy was a little miffed at that, but good-naturedly, didn't bite, even when the vet poked around her butt. The vet pronounced Betsy in excellent health, thank goodness.


Waffling and fence-sitting

Yes, in response to someone's question. Our Bishop Howe is straddling the fence so hard I'm sure his privates are sore. This is his latest missive to clergy; it's in the same vein as previous letters. I received it Dec. 17, and copy-clipped it exactly as forwarded to me:



My Dearly Beloved Brothers and Sisters,

Most of this letter was written two weeks ago, but I did not believe it was timely to send it. I think that the Protocol has now been adopted by the Diocesan Board it may be right to do so.

Not a single one of you has asked the question: "Bishop, why are you allowing these rectors who want to 'disaffiliate' the space to pursue their objectives? They are clearly in the process of abandoning the communion of this Church. Why are you not moving against them by inhibition and deposition?"

Here is my answer to the unspoken question: I am deeply sympathetic to any who believe that the current leadership of The Episcopal Church has greatly compromised the "doctrine, discipline and worship of Christ as this Church has received them." And I am extremely reluctant to discipline those who, for conscience sake, are finding they MUST "disaffiliate. "

I believe that many of our clergy and lay leaders have attempted to be completely loyal to our received heritage, and have tried to reform a Church that is in many ways errant. And they have finally concluded that such reformation is not going to be successful. They want to "protect" the members of The Episcopal Church entrusted to them from any further spiritual incursions against them.

I am not convinced we have come to a point of no return. But I understand why they may believe we have done so. I believe it is still possible to be a faithful parish, or a faithful diocese, within The Episcopal Church. And I am still eager to hear what the Archbishop of Canterbury has to say about all of this.

Some of our people have expected and hoped that I would attempt to "lead the Diocese out of The Episcopal Church." (They are, frankly, deeply disappointed in me!)

I do not believe that is possible, though I recognize that some of our Bishops are attempting to do precisely that. I do not think they will be successful. They can leave, and they can take any number of clergy and laity with them. They can affiliate with some foreign jurisdiction such as the Southern Cone.

But there will be a remnant who will NOT want to leave, and that remnant will constitute the continuing Diocese of Pittsburgh, San Joaquin, Fort Worth, etc.

I expect that millions of dollars will be spent in lawsuits that will ultimately fail as far as those who wish to leave are concerned. And I cannot be part of that.

Nor can I be part of litigation against those who, for conscience sake, believe they must leave The Episcopal Church. These are faithful brothers and sisters who only want to remain true to what we have always been: orthodox Anglican Catholic Christians.

We have spent two months (four meetings, approximately twelve hours) attempting to craft a Protocol (a page and a half) which is finally in place - to deal with those who wish to "disaffiliate. " This Protocol does not spell out the whole process. It merely brings to the threshold of being able to deal with those congregations. I want to state again my gratitude for the prayers of so many, and my particular gratitude for the members of the Board, the Standing Committee, the Special Task Force, and especially our Chancellors. We could not pay them for the time they have invested on our behalf!

The Protocol does not guarantee success. If the leaders of some congregations offer unreasonable proposals, and we cannot possibly accept them, and if I and the Board offer counter proposals that these leaders cannot accept...there is no guarantee whatsoever that somebody may not do something that the other side will find litigious. I believe that nobody wants to go there. But we may not be able to avoid it.

The Church of the New Covenant attempted to transfer title to a separate non-profit 501 (c)(3) corporation, and forced our hand four years ago. We had to file suit, and we did so. Something like that could occur again. I pray it does not.

On one level, I think the honorable thing those who wish to "disaffiliate" would be to simply walk away.

That is what happened at St. John's, Melbourne, and Shepherd of the Hills, Lecanto. And it appears that is what is about to happen at St. Edward's, Mount Dora.

But, on another level, I believe that there is a validity to the argument of some who wish to 'disaffiliate" that it is they who have been faithful, while the national leadership of The Episcopal Church has increasingly abandoned the very heritage we have all sworn to protect.

So, I want to try to work with these brothers and sisters if it is at all possible. (It may not be.) We have received proposals from three of these congregations so far. In all honesty, I do not think any of the three are realistic. But now that the Protocol is in place, we can begin to discuss these proposals.

Each church's situation is unique, and each will have to be dealt with on its own merits. My life, since October 18, has been totally consumed with all of this, and I can tell you there is not a shred of joy in any of it. (Ernie's, too.)

I will attempt to keep you apprised of where we are as this process unfolds.

My warmest regards in our Lord,

(And yes, you may post off the list so long as you post the whole thing.)

The Right Rev. John W. Howe
Episcopal Bishop of Central Florida


Our diocesan convention is coming up in January. Some of the "reasserters" want to get some bail-out language into our diocesan constitution. The new, pertinent language is in bold. The final paragraph is an addition, also.

As long as we're a constituent member? As determined by whom? Who are they to grant conditional allegiance?

Sigh.

Here's the proposal:




DIOCESE OF CENTRAL FLORIDA

Thirty-Ninth Annual Convention

JANUARY 25 &26, 2008

Title of Resolution: C-1 Amend Diocesan Constitution, Article III

Presenter: The Reverend Eric Turner on behalf of the Diocesan Board

Date: November 15, 2007

RESOLVED: That this 39th Annual Convention of the Diocese of Central Florida

Article III

Purpose

The Diocese of Central Florida acknowledges its allegiance to be due to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of Christ.; {and recognizing the body known as the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America otherwise known as the Episcopal Church to be a true branch of said Church, having rightful jurisdiction in this country, hereby declares its adhesion to the same and accedes to its Constitution and Canons.} Furthermore, this Diocese is a constituent member of the Anglican Communion, a Fellowship of those duly constituted Dioceses, Provinces, and regional Churches in communion with the See of Canterbury, upholding the propagating the historic Faith and Order as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer. So long as The Episcopal Church is the constituent member Province of the Anglican Communion with rightful jurisdiction in this country, the Diocese of Central Florida declares its adhesion to the same and accedes to its Constitution and Canons.

The Diocese of Central Florida acknowledges itself to be called and sent to exercise the ministry of Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit, celebrating and proclaiming the mystery of redemption to the praise of God's glory, the benefit of His Church and the salvation of the world. To this end the Diocese acknowledges its duty to provide for the worship and honor due Almighty God, to provide for the tradition of the Faith and the proclamation of the Gospel, to provide for the welfare of those given to its care, and to labor to demonstrate the truth in love that the Kingdom of Christ be advanced in the world and that the Church be edified into Christ.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Christmas Greetings





Betsy, simply the best dog in the whole wide world, wishes everyone a very Merry Christmas.

More news to come.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Singing Christmas ditties


Yes, Thanksgiving's barely over, and Saint Pat is already singing and humming Christmas songs. Purists like MadPriest will heap shame upon her, for sure.

What's a poor girl to do? The merchants have made it clear it's Christmas NOW. The municipal Christmas parade will roll in tomorrow's muggy evening air. (It's still warm here, though a "cold" front is supposed to move in midweek.) Betsy, the best dog in the world, will be crushed to find the saintly employer won't have a float this year; therefore, she will be unable to march in the parade.


Betsy loves marching in parades. She doesn't mind motorcycle roars and truck backfires, as long as she's marching. The only things that spook her are horses. Those are big, scary dogs, the likes of she's never seen before!

Though we won't have a parade float tomorrow, tonight, my employer will take part in the downtown open house, so us employees will have to be Christmas-y.

Meanwhile, what is Thanksgiving weekend without football? Just fine, to me. I don't watch it.

Friends are more into pigskin punting, though, and even get their kids and grandchilluns into the act:


























































Even mighty football players get tired and fussy!





Sunday, my dear friends from church invited me over to feast on Thanksgiving leftovers, then we went boating on the Halifax River.

The Halifax is an intercoastal waterway, separated from the waters of the Atlantic Ocean by only a thin peninsula of land. It is wide and shallow, with salt water from the inlet mixing with freshwater from the Tomoka basin. You can see dolphins and manatees along its stretch.

While the St. Johns River is quiet, deep and mysterious, the Halifax says, "Come on and play with me!" Fishermen, jet skiers, and boaters of all sorts share its waters.

Watch a flock of seagulls winging low over the water, searching for dinner, and you'll never think of them as awkward or ungainly birds again.





The Ponce Inlet Lighthouse looks over the Atlantic Ocean in the background, while a sailboat makes it way up the Halifax River.

To see more photos of the Halifax River, go to Pat's Flickr photo album.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Moving into holiday season



Saint Pat spent the day as a bird of the air, or a lily of the field: She toiled not, yet her good Father provided for her.

Thanksgiving was a day of living off the fruits of other people's efforts, and it was a good one!

I went to church in the morning, followed by a great Thanksgiving luncheon in the parish hall. I sat at the table with the bird griller. Yes, the parish turkeys had been grilled over charcoal, and the turkey was quite tasty, with a slight mesquite flavor!

Our turkey chef and his wife had been in a bad auto accident. They were cheerful, and grateful for their continuing recovery, though the missus still wears a large brace around her midsection. When I left, they reminded me to wear my seatbelt. Sweet people.

After a few hours at home doing some housekeeping chores and baking a pumpkin pie to take with me, I went to my friends Bob and Linda's house for a small dinner party. We enjoyed a wonderful dinner of roasted Cornish hens with mashed potatoes, peas, cranberry sauce, salad, wine, and of course, aforementioned pumpkin pie for dessert. It was cool enough to eat on the front porch, which had been decorated with Japanese lanterns. The whole house was lovely, and the feast beautifully presented. My friend Linda can outdo Martha Stewart!

I did think about the things for which I am grateful. The nasty cold bug made me appreciate my overall good health, and the senses of smell, taste and hearing!

I'm grateful for good friends, for my home -- my haven -- and for the ability to enjoy life. I'm grateful for the cruise. I'm grateful to God for pulling me through the bad times and giving me the good ones.

God gave me good things for my enjoyment, and it's disobedience not to honor his intention.

I want to enjoy life. I watched my mother refuse to enjoy it, and I don't want to be like that. She was determined that Thanksgiving (and every other holiday) was nothing but another day to her, and even though a turkey may be prepared, there was no joy allowed in her house, especially if it was just her and me for the holiday. And was it was usually just her and me. My brothers always had better things to do. I spent some dreary Thanksgivings and Christmases at her house.

This is no disrespect to my mother. It was her woundedness, and her anger with God and the world, which got worse after Dad died. Dad enjoyed holidays, and they were good when he was around, but Mom outlived him by many years.

I will celebrate the holidays. Holy days are holy.

Thank you, Lord for all the good things of this life.

Today, I'm going to the newspaper office for a little while, but I'm not going to work all day, and I'm taking Betsy, the best dog in the world, for whom I'm also grateful, with me.

Tomorrow, I'm going to the house of friends Michelle and Ken, where there will be a big Thanksgiving party, and more turkey feasting.

Thank you, Lord.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Great vacation, back to the daily grind



I'm back. The cruise was great!

Here's what we did:

The band of cruisers met in the church parking lot on a chilly Monday, Nov. 5, and climbed on a charter bus headed for the Port of Tampa, where we boarded the Carnival ship Inspiration.

A view of the Inspiration from a tender boat at Grand Cayman. The ship got underway that afternoon, and the chilly weather was soon left behind.

We spent Tuesday at sea, and Father M led us in a church service. It was a day to relax, hit the decks, and get involved in shipboard activities. After supper, there was a show, with rock-and-roll song and dance.




Wednesday, the Inspiration dropped anchor at Grand Cayman. We had choices of scuba diving, snorkeling, shopping, island tours or whatever we wanted to do. I went snorkeling, which was terrific -- until I got back on ship and was horrified to discover videos of my wide load climbing into the snorkeling boat was being broadcast hourly over the ship's TV station!


Thursday, we docked at Cozumel, where again, we could choose from a number of excursions. A number of us opted for a trip to the Mayan ruins at Tulum, which overlook a cliff along the Caribbean. We traveled there by a catamaran bus-taxi and a wheeled bus. The ruins were beautiful and fascinating relics of a bygone culture.








Maybe they just downplayed the bloodier aspects of Mayan life here, but I got an impression of a more peaceable life at Tulum than I got from the Mayan ruins I visited in Copan, Honduras a couple of years ago. Tulum temples celebrated the air, the water and other life-giving forces of nature.

It was a beautiful spot, with buildings lining a cliff overlooking the turquoise waters of the Caribbean.


Friday we spent at sea. Mother C celebrated the Eucharist, then it was time for fun -- games, the giant water-tube slide, or relaxing in the spa or on one of the decks. We saw a Latin-music inspired show -- watch out, Carmen Miranda!

Passengers responded to the dare to come to a midnight deck party in bathrobes.

Saturday, we were back home again, and trying to decide where to go next year.

Yes, I know -- I've been back for a week without posting.

I came down with a nasty sinusy-cold thing as soon as I got home. Better than on the cruise! But I couldn't take off work, and worked 11 and 12 hour days, then came home and collapsed into bed. No blogging.

I'm over the worst of it now, and a weekend to mostly rest is definitely helping.



Comparing cruises

I had a good time aboard Carnival.

If I had to compare, I would give last year's Royal Caribbean an "A-" and Carnival a "B."

Perhaps this was a misfortune of everyone arriving at the same time, but there was a long queue to check-in and board the Carnival ship. Lunch on deck, once we got there, was zooey, with people grabbing for tables and chairs and juggling carry-on bags, because we couldn't yet get into our cabins to deposit them. It went much more smoothly for last year's cruise.

Carnival's dining room offerings were good; Royal C's were superb. The service was great on both ships. Traveling companions who had been on other Carnival cruises said the food was better on those trips. Some didn't like the "entertainment" in the dining room -- after the main course, the Maitre D' and wait staff would sing and engage cruisers in song and dance. I thought it was fine and fun.

Our Maitre D', George. Part dining room supervisor, part showman.


I didn't like Carnival's scrambled eggs, either in the main dining room or at the grill, which also served breakfast. The eggs tasted like they were made from cheap powdered stuff. The other food, while not top-notch, was good, though. The buffet lunch and supper food served in the Brasserie was very good.

The wait staff was great.

Cardinal sin No. 1: Carnival's coffee wasn't very good. It tasted rather bitter and overcooked. I ended up drinking hot tea or hot chocolate at breakfast. One could supposedly buy gourmet coffee beverages at an onboard coffee shop, but I never did, in protest. I did have a great cuppa at a coffee shop at Georgetown on Grand Cayman, and sipped it while I watched the boats come in and out of the bay from a seat by the window in the second-floor shop.

Cardinal sin No. 2: the drinks weren't very good. Those of you who know Saint Pat knows she has a certain fondness for Margaritas. She never makes them at home, but at a Mexican restaurant, or on a cruise, she might order one. The Margarita ordered on the cruise just wasn't very good. It tasted like it was made from cheap mix.

The entertainment was great on both ships. On Royal C last year, there was a professional-stage show every night. On the Carnival cruise, there were audience-participation games a couple of nights. Maybe that was due to the lengthier voyage.

Carnival came up tops in staterooms. My budget-priced cabin was much larger than Royal C's, with a nicer shower.

Both ships had loads of activities. You could stay busy constantly, or opt for the quiet of your cabin or the library. I took some naps in between events.

I felt slightly more like I was being herded around at times aboard the Carnival ship, which was brimming with passengers. Sometimes it was hard to find a place to sit on deck, at least with a little table for my cup of tea.

But, as I said, I had a good time. After hearing some good and some very negative stuff about Carnival, I'm happy to give this cruise a thumbs up.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Going on vacation



At last, it's here. My much-awaited vacation. Dear Lord, may we have safe travel and a joyous trip.

More about that to come.



New prayer gig



Friday night, I took my first shift doing intercessory prayer at the new, faith-based free clinic in town.

It was awesome.

I prayed with four people, two couples. In between, and before and after, I prayed up the building, the staff (all of whom donate their professional skills) and the patients.

And, in between, I sat with my prayer book and read evening prayers and compline and the collects for the day. I had time to meditate and just be with God. I soaked it up.

The people with whom I prayed thanked me. They had no idea. I was the one who was blessed, by them and by that time in the prayer room.

Thank you Lord, that you call us to you, from the business of the world. You refresh us with your spirit.

Friday, November 02, 2007

A trip up the St. Johns River


I went up the river with a watchdog-conservationist group called the St. Johns Riverkeeper the other day. They rightly figure the more people know and love the river, the more they will want to protect it. I snapped these photos during the trip.

Like most of our water resources, the St. Johns, one of the few rivers to flow south to north, is threatened by development, by the growing need for water, and all the other indignities with which we can threaten it.


An anhinga (snakebird) dries itself on a dock alongside the river.




Plans to withdraw water from the river to satiate the thirst of the population boom in Central Florida are a major cause of concern. The various cities along the river are talking about pulling a total of 262 million gallons of water a day from the river. Treatment plants would pull salts, other minerals and pollutants from the drinking water. Guess what they'll do with the waste: discharge it into the river, thus not only reducing the water level, but increasing the water's salinity, threatening the river ecosystem.

What a mess we make of things.

The old fishermen who grew up on the river say it's gone downhill from the times of their youth, but the St. Johns is still gorgeous, and there's still plenty of fish and wildlife, even if the quantities of bass aren't there anymore.

The Riverkeeper believes it isn't too late to save the St. Johns, but like for the rest of the planet, time is running out.

Rivers are like people, I suspect, each with its own personality. The St. Johns is lush, darkly beautiful and mysterious.





















A bald eagle watches our boat go by.







The water, the hyancinths and short vegetation, the taller grasses and the trees all provide habitats for wildlife on the the river. The trees are filled with snowy egrets.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Of wine-tastings, B-17s, and a spot of fun



Lest you think Saint Pat spends all her time worrying over the state of the Anglican Communion and separatist parishes in Central Florida, let me assure you, she's been having some fun lately. It's been most needed.

First, friends took me out Friday night for our annual wine-tasting. This is a local tradition and fundraiser. It always falls near my birthday, and the admission ticket is my birthday present. It involves wandering from one station to another in our little downtown, tasting all the wine you can hold down. A few yuckky samples went into bushes, but I enjoyed quite a few more, and restrained myself, didn't drink TOO much - and I had a designated driver. We met some other friends of mine at I-Hop for late-night coffee.
Saturday, I had lunch with friends and porch-sat, then went to another friend's house for a showing of My Fair Lady, one of my favorite musicals from my youth. Some of it is really dated now, but Rex Harrison can still charm the birds off the trees.

Sunday I went to church, then laid around the house and recuperated from earlier weekend activities. I napped and watched movies on TV.

Monday, oh boy, oh joy, I got to go for a ride on a B-17 Flying Fortress. That's the big bomber that flew missions from England over Europe, and helped us trounce the Nazis in World War II. The ride was a job perk - a publicity flight for the touring aircraft, Aluminum Overcast. She's lovingly restored and maintained.

The plane


What a great experience. Some of you know I have a private pilot's license. I never got to pilot anything like a B-17. What an awesome experience to go up in one!
Here's the take off. Pardon the jiggling camera.



The flight was smooth, with the B-17's four radial engine purring like four big cats in a small room.









Our intrepid pilots, Dave and Bob, after a perfect landing.


What great days!

Thank you Lord, for great friends to share life, and the great experiences you give us.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Celebrating St. Margaret, Queen of Scotland



Back to some posts about female saints!

I use James Kiefer's bios a lot, but I lifted this one from Notable Women Ancestors, which is full of colorful detail.

Margaret, Queen of Scotland
16 November 1093

A woman after me own heart: She got them all taking Communion!

When the people were afraid of taking Communion on Easter because they felt too sinful, she said, "if the Savior had intended that no sinner should receive the Holy Sacrament, He would not have given a command which, in that case, no one could obey. "We," said she, "who many days beforehand have confessed and done penance and fasted and been washed from our sins with tears and alms and absorption, approach the table of the Lord in faith on the day of His Resurrection, not to our damnation but to the remission of our sins and in salutary preparation for eternal blessedness."

Amen.

St. Margaret, Queen of Scotland

Margaret was born around 1045 in Hungary, the daughter of the exiled English Prince Edward "the Outlaw" Atheling of the English royal house of Wessex, and a German Princess named Agatha. Margaret was raised in the court of St. Stephen, King of Hungary. In 1057 when she was about 12, Margaret and her family returned to England, where the king was St. Edward the Confessor.



After the Norman conquest in 1066 and after her father's death in 1068, Agatha with her son and two daughters resolved to return to Hungary and embarked with that intent. Their ship was driven up the Firth of Forth to Dunfermline, where Malcolm III, king of Scotland, received them hospitably and granted them refuge. He very soon offered the whole family a permanent home with him and asked that the Princess Margaret should become his wife. Margaret, who was very devout and much impressed with the futility of earthly greatness, had very nearly determined to be a nun, but when Malcolm's request was made to Edgar, "the Childe said 'Yea,'" and Margaret was persuaded to marry the king as his second wife.

Malcolm III was born ca 1031 and founded the house of Canmore, which ruled Scotland for more than 200 years, and consolidated the power of the Scottish monarchy. He was the son of Duncan I, who was killed (1040) by Macbeth. Malcolm lived in exile until he defeated and killed (1057) Macbeth near Lumphanan in Aberdeenshire. He succeeded to the throne in 1058, and married Margaret ca. 1068-1070.

Her holiness and wisdom had an impact on Malcolm, causing him to be a better ruler. Malcolm regarded his wife with holy reverence, and with most devoted love followed her advice, and guided by her he became not only more religious and conscientious but more civilized and kinglike. The king's devotion to her and her influence over him were almost unbounded. He never refused or grudged her anything, nor showed the least displeasure when she took money out of his treasury for her charities. Although he could not read, he loved her books for her sake, handling them with affectionate reverence and kissing them. Sometimes he would take away one of her favorite volumes and send for a goldsmith to ornament it with gold and gems. When this was done, he would restore it to the queen as a proof of his devotion.

In addition to her influence with her husband and her sons, who later succeeded their father in ruling Scotland, Margaret took a direct role in helping the people of Scotland. She devoted time and money to works of charity, assisting the poor, the aged, orphans, and the sick. She also prevented a schism between the Roman Church and the Celtic Church, which had been cut off from Rome. In addition, she introduced European culture to Scotland, and did so more successfully than the forceful introduction in England under the Normans.

She was as saintly and self-denying on the throne as she could have been in the cloister. She at once perceived it to be her duty to benefit and elevate the people among whom it was her destiny to live, and this she undertook with the greatest of diligence and the most earnest piety. There existed so much barbarism in the customs of the people, so many abuses in the Church, so much on all hands to reform, that she called together the native clergy and the priests who had come with her, her husband acting as interpreter, and she spoke so well and so earnestly that all were charmed with her gracious demeanor and wise counsel and adopted her suggestions.

St. MargaretMargaret is credited with the introduction of English (Roman) usages into the Scottish church. Among other improvements, Margaret introduced the observance of Sunday by abstaining from servile work, "that if anything has been done amiss during the six days it may be expiated by our prayers on the day of the Resurrection." She influenced her people to observe the forty days' fast of Lent, and to receive the Holy Sacrament on Easter day, from which they had abstained for fear of increasing their own damnation because they were sinners. On this point she said that if the Savior had intended that no sinner should receive the Holy Sacrament, He would not have given a command which, in that case, no one could obey. "We," said she, "who many days beforehand have confessed and done penance and fasted and been washed from our sins with tears and alms and absorption, approach the table of the Lord in faith on the day of His Resurrection, not to our damnation but to the remission of our sins and in salutary preparation for eternal blessedness."

Margaret re-founded the monastery on the Island of Iona (originally founded by Saint Columba, an Irish missionary who found the monastery in 563 in an attempt to convert the Picts). One of her first acts as queen was to build a church at Dunfermline, where she had been married. She dedicated it to the Holy Trinity. She gave it all the ornaments that a church requires, amongst them golden cups, a handsome crucifix of gold and silver enriched with gems, and vestments for the priests. Her room was never without some of these beautiful things in preparation to be offered to the Church. It was like a workshop for heavenly artisans; capes for the singers, sacerdotal vestments, stoles, altar clothes were to be seen there; some made and some in progress. The embroideries were executed by noble young ladies who were in attendance on her.

No man was admitted to the room, unless she allowed him to come with her. She suffered no levity, no petulance, no frivolity, no flirtation. She was so dignified in her pleasantry, so cheerful in her strictness that every one both loved and feared her. No one dared to utter a rude or profane word in her presence.

She did much for the secular as well as for the religious improvement of her country. She caused traders from all lands to bring their goods, and thus introduced many useful and beautiful articles, until then unknown in Scotland. She induced the natives to buy and wear garments and stuffs of various colors. She is said to have introduced the tartans that afterwards became distinctive of Scottish costume. She instituted the custom that wherever the king rode or walked he should be accompanied by an escort, but the members of this band were strictly forbidden to take anything by force from any one, or oppress any poor person. She beautified the king's house with furniture and hangings, and introduced cups and dishes of gold and silver for the royal table. All this she did, not that she was fond of worldly show, but that the Court should be more decent and less barbarous than heretofore.

Numbers of captives were taken in the wars in raids between England and Scotland, and many English prisoners were living as slaves in Malcolm's lands. They were of somewhat better education and superior culture to the Scots and gradually advanced the civilization of their captors. Many of these were set free by the queen.

When she met poor persons, she gave them liberal alms, and if she had nothing of her own to left to give, she asked her attendants for something that she might not let Christ's poor go away empty-handed. the ladies, gentlemen, and servants who accompanied her took a pride and pleasure in offering her all they had, feeling sure that a double blessing would reward their alms when given through the saintly queen.

She provided ships at a place on the Firth of Forth, still called "The Queen's Ferry," that all persons coming from distant parts on pilgrimage to St. Andrews might be brought across the water free of charge. She also gave houses and servants on either shore for their accommodation, that they might find everything necessary for their repose and refreshment and might pay their devotions in peace and safety. Besides this, she built homes of rest and shelter for poor strangers in various places. From childhood she had diligently studied the Holy Writ and having a keen intelligence and an excellent memory, she knew and understood the Scriptures wonderfully well. She delighted to consult learned and holy men concerning the sacred writings, and as she had a great gift for expressing herself clearly, they often found themselves far wiser after a conversation with her. Her love for the holy books made her spend much time in reading and studying such of them as she had. She longed to possess more portions of the Word of God, and she sometimes begged Turgot and other learned clergymen to procure them for her. Margaret brought up her eight children very strictly and piously, instructing them in the Holy Scriptures and the duties of their station and associating them in her works of charity. She made a great point of their treating their elders with becoming respect. The fruit of her good training appeared in their lives for long years after her time.

There were many holy anchorites living in cells or caves in different parts of Scotland. These the queen occasionally visited, conversing with them and commending herself to their prayers. It was not uncommon in the ancient Celtic Church for devout secular persons to withdraw for a time from association with the rest of the world; they devoted themselves entirely to prayer and meditation for a long or short season, and then returned to the ordinary duties of life. A cave is still shown, not far from Dunfermline where tradition says this holy queen used to resort for solitude and prayer.


stained glass from the Chapel of St. Margaret in Edinburgh


Her abstinence was so great and her care for her own needs or gratification so small that her feast days were like the fast days of others. She fasted so strictly that she suffered acutely all her life from pain in her stomach, but she did not lose her strength. She observed two Lenten seasons in each year - the forty days before Easter and the forty days before Christmas. During these periods of self-denial, her biographer says that after sleeping for a short time at the beginning of the night, she went into the church and said alone three sets of Matins, then the Offices of the Dead, then the whole Psalter, which lasted until the priests had said Matins and Lauds. She then returned to her room and there, assisted by the king, she washed the feet of six poor persons who were brought there by the chamberlain. After this, she "permitted her body to take a littel slepe or nodde". When it was morning she began her works of mercy again; while the psalms were being read to her, nine little destitute orphans were brought, and she took each on her lap and fed it with her own spoon. While she was feeding the babies, three hundred poor persons were brought into the hall and seated all round it. As soon as Margaret and the king came in, the doors were shut, only the chaplains and a few attendants being present while the king and queen waited upon Christ in the person of His poor, serving them with food and drink. After this meal, the queen used to go into the church and there, with tears and signs and many prayers, she offered herself a sacrifice to God. In addition to the "Hours", on the great festivals, she used to repeat the Psalter two or three times, and before the public Mass she had five or six private Masses sung in her presence. It was then time for her own dinner, but before she touched it she waited on the twenty-four poor people who were her daily care at all seasons; wherever she happened to be, they had to be lodged near the royal residence.

She had a Gospel Book which she particularly prized and often read. It had beautiful illuminated pictures, all the capital letters shining with gold. One of her people, when passing through a stream let it fall into the water, but was not aware of his loss and went on. By-and-by the book was missing and was looked for everywhere, and eventually found at the bottom of the stream; the pieces of silk that were between the leaves to prevent the letters rubbing against each other were washed away; the leaves were shaken to and fro by the movement of the water, but not a letter was obliterated. She gave thanks for its restoration and prized it more than ever. This book, with the water stain on the last leaf, is now in the Bodleian Library.

For more than six months before her death, Margaret could not ride on horseback and was often confined to bed. Malcolm invaded England many times after 1068. supporting the claim of his brother-in-law Edgar Atheling to the English throne. In 1072, however, he was forced to pay homage to William I, and in 1091, to William II. Shortly before Margaret's death, the king, against her advice, made a raid into Northumberland where he and her eldest son, Edward were slain by Norman forces at Alnwick. Malcolm died at Alnwick Castle on November 13, 1093. The queen, who had a presentiment of it, and said to those that were with her, "Perhaps this day a greater evil has happened to Scotland than any that has befallen it for a long time."

Three days after this, she felt a little better and went into her oratory to hear Mass and receive the Holy Communion. She then returned to bed, and growing rapidly worse, begged Turgot and the others who were present to keep commending her soul to Christ with psalms. She asked them to bring her the black rood, which she had brought from Hungary and always regarded with great veneration. It was of gold set with large diamonds and said to contain a piece of the actual cross of Christ. She devoutly kissed and contemplated it, and when she was cold with the chill of death, she still held it in both hands and kept praying and saying the fifty-first psalm.

Her son Edgar, who had gone with the king to Northumberland, came into her room to tell her of the death of his father and brother. Seeing his mother was dying, he was afraid to tell her the sad news; but she said, "I know, I know, I conjure you to tell me the truth," and having heard it, she praised God and died, just three days after her husband, on November 16, 1093 at Edinburgh Castle. The Annals of Ulster for 1093 say, "Maelcolaim Mac Donnacha sovereign of Alban and Echbarda his son, slain by the Franks. His queen, viz. Margarita, died through grief before the end of (three) days."

While her body still lay in Edinburgh Castle, Malcolm's brother, Donald Bane, assisted by the King of Norway, attacked the castle, but he only watched the gate, thinking the other parts of the fortification inaccessible. Margaret's family and her faithful attendants escaped by a postern called the West Yhet, taking with them the revered corpse. A thick mist hid them from the enemy. They crossed the sea and arrived without hindrance at Dunfermline, where they buried her according to her own wish. Malcolm was succeeded briefly by his brother Donald Bane. Margaret's brother, Edgar the Atheling took Margaret's children to England, and for fear of the Normans, gave them privately to friends and relations to be brought up. He afterwards helped to restore them to their country. Margaret's sons continued her work, which contributed greatly to a golden age in Scotland for two hundred years after her death. First to the throne was son, Duncan II. Three other sons also succeeded to the throne: Edgar (r. 1097-1107), Alexander I (r. 1107-24), and David I (r. 1124-53). Margaret and Malcolm's daughter, Edith, also known as Matilda, became the wife of England's King Henry I, the fourth son of William the Conqueror.

Prayer (contemporary language)

O God, who called your servant Margaret to an earthly throne that she might advance your heavenly kingdom, and gave her zeal for your church and love for your people: Mercifully grant that we who commemorate her this day may be fruitful in good works, and attain to the glorious crown of your saints; though Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Psalm 146:4-9 or 112:1-9
Proverbs 31:10-11,20,26,28
Matthew 13:44-52 (Bap)

Monday, October 08, 2007

The Confession of St. Pat


I'm back from Virginia, where my mother was finally laid to rest next to my father, in view of the Blue Ridge Mountains, where they lived after Dad retired from the Navy.


Morning view of the Blue Ridge in the mist, from the burial site


I think of the life they had together there, in the mountains -- their dreams, their plans for the future, so many years ago -- and wonder, is there any meaning to all this? What's the point of living, breathing, hoping, to have it all reduced to ashes and dust?

The logical part of my mind argues life is a purposeless endeavor, a joke on humankind, who presumes to more, but nothingness comes in the end. There's no grand purpose or design to our being. We just live our little bit and die, to sleep, to dream no more.

Nothingness. Love and dreams vanquished, life often ended in suffering.

Yet, I am convinced there is more. I have experienced the love of Christ, who came searching for me, and who has protected me. I believe what he said. I know my mother is precious to him, and she is healed and whole, and made beautiful.

It is in Christ, in God, we live and move and have our being, and he is eternal. I do not know his plans, but I know he will never desert us.

He is my savior, whom I shall see with my own eyes.

As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives
and that at the last he will stand upon the earth.
After my awaking, he will raise me up;
and in my body I shall see God.
I myself shall see, and my eyes behold him
who is my friend and not a stranger.

(from the liturgy for burial in the Book of Common Prayer)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Acts of purposeful kindness



It's been 12 days since Mom died. She won't be buried up north until weekend after next, with a graveside ceremony. It seems like too long a time to wait for the comfort of a service.

Father M came to the rescue, with a great touch of kindness. He called me last week and suggested a memorial service at the church, with my church family and friends around me.

I was covering a city council meeting when the call came in. I cried all the way home. This was such a kind, thoughtful thing to do. There's no one at church who ever even met my mother. Nevertheless, we'll have a service.

It will make me feel much better. I'll have a safe place to mourn, and the communion of saints to surround my mother -- and me -- in a service that's meaningful to me. I'll be fortified to make the trip for the other service, where I'll have the chance to see some family and friends I haven't seen in a very long time.


Strange things

This happened the morning my mother died. I was in the kitchen, making coffee, a little after 7 a.m. I heard the words come out of my mouth, "It's time to go now, Mom."

I was horrified. I didn't know what made me say that. It wasn't up to me to decide when Mom's time had come. I prayed, and told God I was sorry; I know such things are in his hands.

A couple of hours later I got the call mom had died, a little after 6 a.m. That was Central time -- it would have been a little after 7 a.m. Eastern time, here.

There are more things in heaven and earth than our philosophies have dreamed of, and the veil can be very thin, indeed.

When I got the word, I already had a measure of comfort, because it was affirmed to me: God is in charge, and Mom is with him. I could release her to the safety of his hands.

This comfort remains with me.

UPDATE SATURDAY 09-29-07

What an incredibly beautiful service. Everything was perfect -- the music, Father M's homily, the reception. I was overwhelmed by the love of Christ surrounding me.



The altar, ready for the service, with flowers and a photo of Mom Father M. enlarged for the display. I love the old chapel at the church (dating from the 1890's), with its stained-glass image of Jesus the shepherd, carrying a lamb close to his heart.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Trying to buy a bishop



Something stinks in the Diocese of Central Florida, and it isn't just the fish.

A couple of priests reported from a clergy meeting Sept. 10.

One said,"The information is shocking to many of us. The short summary is that an effort has been made to 'buy out' the Bishop or give him a 'golden parachute' to retire in an attempt to take the Diocese out of the Episcopal Church. The information we have from our meeting last week is that five of the Anglican Communion Network Bishops are preparing to take their dioceses out of the Episcopal Church after October 1, 2007. The other five Anglican Communion Network Bishops (including Bishop Howe) are not leaving. Bishop Howe has also said that he has no plans to retire.

Another priest reported the bishop didn't come to the Sept. 10 meeting of priests who want to stay Episcopal, held at the diocesan retreat center, so priests could speak freely, but he will be present at future meetings with this group.

Canon Ernest Bennett was at the meeting, and made a presentation. He had consulted with Bishop Howe on his talk before the meeting.

Canon Bennett referred to "those who see things differently" as "the
Twenty."

"He went into some detail about how we need to speak respectfully," the report stated.

It went on:

"15-22 Rectors and Vestries in the Diocese have talked in one way or
another about leaving the Episcopal Church (ECUSA). 17 Central Florida Anglican Communion Network (ACN) parishes are thinking of leaving ECUSA on October 1. The Bishop is now being told that there is no firm date to leave, which is technically true. When asked if they will leave, the answer is, 'Not Yet.' Canon Bennett indicated that this is like one spouse saying to another, "I will not divorce you yet.'"

"The Chancellor (Butch) [Wooten] has said that congregations cannot leave, that
clergy and parishioners can leave."

"An overall strategy of 'The Twenty' has been to always deal at the highest level possible first. The justification given is that this strategy would spare parishioners in the pew from making hard choices to leave. They could simply be told by the "higher level" that their church was re-aligning. They sought and succeeded in controlling the Diocesan Board and the Standing Committee. There has been an attempt to join with other ACN Dioceses in separating from ECUSA. 'The Twenty' were very disappointed that the Bishop would not do this. There was an effort to change the Constitution of the Diocese to eliminate the 'accession clause.' the clause that states that the Diocese accedes to the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church."

"The Bishop ruled this out of order."

"There has been an attempt to move out of the Episcopal Church as a 'block.' This proposal was for 'The Twenty' to pay a block amount of money so that all the departing parishes would exit with their property at the same time. The Bishop has said that he will not negotiate with any 'block' but is ready to negotiate with any individual in good faith."

"A group of four persons, including members of the Standing Committee, approached the Bishop to ask him to retire. They offered to pay off his mortgage ($335,000) plus give him the difference between his salary and retirement income if he had served until age 72. The Bishop was born 11/4/42; he is 65 years old. (His yearly compensation according to the Journal of the 2007 Convention is $131,700)."

"The Bishop refused this 'golden parachute' or 'buy-out' for two reasons: (1) He
wants to be there for those who are staying in ECUSA and (2) He wants to be there for those who are leaving ECUSA."

"There have been efforts to get vestries to act on behalf on congregations (rather than congregational meetings) to remove congregations from ECUSA. The Canons of the church Title I.17.8 prevent this, as does Florida state law which states that when you cease to be a member of an organization, you cannot act on behalf of that
body."

"What is the role of the National Episcopal Church? ECUSA has said that it will not intervene in a diocese unless a Diocese refuses to enter into good faith negotiations or unless the diocese attempts to transfer property to another part of the Anglican Communion."

"Plans are already underway in some congregations to lay the groundwork to leave. In at least one instance money that has been pledged in a particular congregation is being channeled into a separate corporation and current expenses are being paid from Memorial and other accounts."

"Canon Bennett stated that Vestry members have been asked by the rector
to resign for not going along with this plan."

"Bishop Howe is sad right now, but is completely committed to those who remain in the Episcopal Church. He has no immediate plans to retire, but the option is tempting given the health of his wife. If he were to announce his retirement it will be orderly, announced at Convention with a future election of a Coadjutor Bishop who would serve under Bishop Howe for a time."

"'The Twenty' asked Bishop Howe to fire Canon Bennett. Bishop Howe does not plan to do so.The Diocese is not preparing a budget yet for 2008 as there is great uncertainty and the likelihood that several parishes may leave reducing diocesan assessments. They know that there will be a financial impact, but it is not yet predictable."

"Canon Bennett urged the clergy present to think about elections in the upcoming Diocesan Convention particularly the ones involving the Standing Committee and the Diocesan Board."

"Canon Bennett and Bishop Howe are in complete agreement, but have come
to this from different perspectives."

"There may be a need for retired clergy to help the diocese by serving,
perhaps without pay, in situations where priests will be needed."


Episcopalians were asked to keep Bishop Howe and Canon Bennett in their prayers, and send them both notes of encouragement.

I will keep them in my prayers, and I thank God the bishop and canon will remain in the church.

As for the diversion of funds within a parish, that certainly seems a violation of trust.

I would say more on the topic, but I have to go now.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Musings on death on a rainy Sunday afternoon



My mother is back in the hospital, and likely won't come out this time. I'm not trying to go see her. It's too far, and I don't have the money for gas, motel bills, etc.to go sit a death watch that could last days or weeks. She's where brother and his family live, and they should be there. Mom isn't really there now.

I'll go pay my respects when she's buried next to my dad.

I went to see her at the nursing home for a last goodbye, after she broke her hip. She was already fragile, and I figured she would go downhill rapidly. When I went in, she didn't know who I was until I told her. She forgot who I was several times during my visit, which I'm sure she completely forgot as soon as I was out the door. But I told her I love her, and her spirit remembers that.

The last couple of months, her mind has been completely gone.

I started dreaming about her a week before I got a call about the latest hospitalization, and I'm sure her spirit has left, too. She was letting me know that. It's just the remains of her body in that hospital bed.

This is a joyous occasion for my mother. She had always hated the idea of being helpless in any way. It was a blessing when she didn't realize anymore she was in a nursing home.

I've been meditating and praying. It's been a good, rainy afternoon, the kind of rain that washes away tears and pain.

Go in peace, Mom. Your creator will heal all your wounds and infirmities, and lift you up as on eagle's wings.


UPDATE 9-10-07

Mom's nurse said Mom is having difficulty breathing, even with a breathing mask, and her blood pressure is low. The nurse called Mom's condition "guarded," rather than "critical," which I take to mean they are not sure how long she will last.

UPDATE 9-13-07

Mom died around 6 o'clock or so this morning. I'm relieved for her; I know she is where she wants to be. Her mind is restored and she's out of that weak shell.

I've been shedding some tears, but I already did much of my grieving after the last visit with her. The warmth and caring of my friends, including all of you, are making this time so much easier than it would be. My love and thanks to you all.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

He's giving me hysterics



Hysterical laughing fits, that is. You have to go over to Clumber's and take a gander at his funnies.

If the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion dissolve, at least we'll go down laughing.

Monday, September 03, 2007

A visitor to my back yard



Good God almighty. I walked into my back yard this morning to find this critter sitting in her web, hanging from a tree.




I'm not usually nervous around spiders, but when they're big and tough looking, and displaying colors and patterns (often associated with poisonous creatures), I get a bit nervous. I took this photo of the arachnid and used it to compare to some online spider id information, and it's apparently a female orb spinner -- not poisonous. They enjoy crunching on grass hoppers and other insects.

This spider's body is a good inch long, and from leg-tip to leg-tip, probably three inches or so.

If anybody who better knows spiders recognizes it as something different, let me know. I'll leave it in peace in the meantime. There are lots of spiders in Florida, but only a few are poisonous.

I had a little house spider living in my bathroom cupboard for a good while. He found a little space between the cabinet and the wall, and would emerge from it now and then, to peek at me. I started to kill him when I first saw him, but he seemed like, well, such a friendly little spider, I figured we could co-exist, and he could feast on any ants or gnats or other pesty insects that found their way in.

Jack the Brat cat became aware of him. I'm not sure if Jack got him (probably) or if he died of natural causes, but I found his little spider corpse curled up on the bathroom floor last week. I said a few words over him as I picked him up with a piece of tissue paper.

All these little creatures have their place in the world.

Except fleas, ticks and roaches. And leeches. They're evil perversions of nature.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Trying to make a difference



The thing about working for a small-town paper is the chance to maybe make a difference -- even though the pay is lousy (hence my part-time job) and the benefits nearly nil.

I believe it's part of my calling. God might put me in some other post in the future, but this is what I'm supposed to be doing now.

Of course, I don't inject that into my stories, but I can say it here, and not care if I sound like a religious nut.

Protecting the environment is part of my concern - we are trustees of the Earth, not
its masters. We're charged with protecting and conserving this beautiful, fragile orb that floats through space.

The LandLord is not pleased with what we're doing to his planet.

I've watched a developer trying to put a huge marina into the heart of an aquatic preserve on the river, upstream from Blue Spring State Park, a manatee habitat area.

About two weeks ago, I heard divers were complaining about the water quality at Blue Spring, and investigated.

I got mad, after taking a look at cloudy, sickly-green looking water.

Part of the clouding came from limestone particles in the water, from the collapse of an underground cavern in the spring system. While such collapses occur spontaneously, I think they're occurring more often because of wells pumping water out of the aquifer - the river of water that runs beneath the earth and limestone in Florida. It's the source of our drinking water, and the source of the water that bubbles up from the boil at Blue Spring.

Combine a year of low rainfall with all the wells, municipal and private, drawing water out of the aquifer, and some of these caverns that are normally filled with water dry out. They become weaker without the water to help hold their walls in place. Then, after a heavy rainfall, more water washes into them, and walls collapse from the impact.

Cloudiness caused from dissolved limestone in the water was starting to improve when I went out there. It was up to around 15 feet, when a week before, it was only 7-8 feet.

Problems from algae remain, though, and the park manager is concerned about the spring's health.


This is my photo taken at Blue Spring run 11 days ago.




















This is the run as shown on a state Web site. Manatees swim through crystal-clear water.



Blue Spring sits at the low point of a big basin that takes in surrounding towns and unincorporated but developed areas. Water can wash directly into the river and run area of the spring as runoff after rain; it can percolate down into the aquifer and into the spring, or it can run into sinkholes for a pretty direct route into the aquifer. This runoff is filled with nitrates, because people like to fertilze their lawns. Fertilzers contain high levels of nutrients to fertilize grass. Those nutrients also feed algae.

[Of course, after fertilizing the lawn, people want to water it, pulling more water from those underground caverns.]

Septic systems also contain a lot of nitrates, and bacteria, too. Last summer, the spring was closed twice due to unacceptable levels of f coli and enterococcus bacteria.

We have an ailing spring and manatee preserve. It's suffering from development we've already done. Now we have developers who want to build huge projects on either side of it - the developer I mentioned before, who's fighting the state's denial of the project because of environmental concerns, and another developer who wants to build a huge resort complex with more docks on the other side of the spring.

I've reported forced resignations of environmentally-friendly county planners and written about the flap between a county manager and environmentalists who charge he is too developer-friendly. I've been in the uncomfortable situation of being the only one to report on what's been going on. A political columnist for one of the other papers has written a column on it, thank goodness.

Agencies charged with protecting the environment often compromise with bargaining developers. I'm going to be watching and telling what they do.

What's going on would be enough to make a true saint angry.

We can't just blame it all on developers and officials. We have to change our ways - all of us - as consumers, as protectors of the environment and as watchdogs of our public officials.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

A case of cause or effect


From the Washington Post:

Bush Compares Iraq to Vietnam
KANSAS CITY, Mo., Aug. 22 -- President Bush defended his ongoing military commitment in Iraq by linking the conflict there to the Vietnam War, arguing Wednesday that withdrawing U.S. troops would lead to widespread death and suffering as it did in Southeast Asia three decades ago....


EXCUUUUSE ME.... It's sending troops in for a STUPID POINTLESS WAR that leads to widespread death and suffering. Yeah, just like Vietnam. That's what I said when Bush sent our troops in, to get killed. Deja vu, only sand instead of jungle.

Get our troops out and stop the insanity!

Is Bush dumber than we think?

Oy! IMPEACH the bastid. And he's still trying to make the Al Queda-Iraq-911 connection. Well, they have anti-American terrorists in Iraq now, that's for sure.

What that man has done to our country and other countries like this is tragic. I've been hearing from travelers how much people in other countries hate Bush, and hate Americans, because of him.

End of rant, for now.
Signing off.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

An example for Nigeria


Bigamist Ordered to Give Pig and Buffalo



KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — A Malaysian villager who took a second wife has been ordered by a court to compensate his first wife and their children with a buffalo and a pig, an official said Wednesday.

The Native Court in Penampang district on Borneo island annulled the man's 10-year marriage to his first wife and granted her custody of their three children Tuesday, said District Native Court Chief Innocent Makajil, who presided over the panel deciding the case.


"It is a symbolic punishment because he violated his people's customs by marrying more than once," Makajil said by telephone.

The identities of the couple are not being revealed due to a request by the wife, Makajil said.

The man, a self-employed 30 year old, is from Borneo's Kadazan-Dusun indigenous community. His second wife, whom he married earlier this year, is a Muslim, and he converted from Christianity to Islam, Makajil said.

Polygamy is rare within the group, he added.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Another quiz



Uh-oh. Another quiz. Grandmere Mimi had this one posted, "What Kind of Liberal Are You?"

How to Win a Fight With a Conservative is the ultimate survival guide for political arguments

My Liberal Identity:

You are a Working Class Warrior, also known as a blue-collar Democrat. You believe that the little guy is getting screwed by conservative greed-mongers and corporate criminals, and you’re not going to take it anymore.




Actually, I'm an all-breeds type, I think. On most questions, I wanted to check "all of the above."

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Some interesting information



One thing I did hear this past week was some third-hand talk, that Bishop Howe told someone 17 parishes in Central Florida want to leave the Episcopal Church. That's out of 88 or 89 parishes in the diocese -- hardly an overwhelming majority.

If true, and I would guess it is, that's only around 20 percent of parishes who have run out or silenced the moderates and progressives, and set up shop with the Network/AAC. Forgive me if I sound a little pissed -- but that's what happens.

Most parishes are a mixed bag of conservatives, moderates and progressives, most of whom don't want to leave the Episcopal church.

If you want to listen to the diocesan board try to overrule the bishop, break the constitution and canons, still find a way to take the property, and convince themselves 80 percent of the people in the diocese are with them, go to the AAC-Central Florida Chapter Web site and listen to the June 21 meeting.

One member put it forward that the diocese should consider itself a member of the the holy catholic church, not the Episcopal Church.

You'll hear people saying things like, "I just think we're being held hostage to the constitution and canons of a church that's walked away from everything I've been taught," with "priests who are Muslims," etc., etc.

"Not in this diocese," Bishop Howe said.

"I can't stay under this presiding bishop and what she teaches," the woman continued.

"You're free to go," Bishop Howe replied.

"I may have to," she demurred.

They're planning for a split in the Communion, if the Archbishop of Canterbury doesn't go in their direction, with a task force in place that will make preliminary recommendations Nov. 1, for consideration at the Nov.15 meeting. The bishop said he'd like to appoint the members from the diocesan board and standing committee, and they must consult with the chancellors.

Don Curran made a motion for a special convention mid-November, citing the Sept. 30 deadline of the Dar Es Salaam communique and TEC's anticipated rejection of it. "If there's a need for a constitutional change," he said.

Any proposed amendments require a 60-day notice before the regular January convention Jan. 25-26.

They also moved for a special convention in mid-March, presumably to withdraw from the Episcopal Church -- just in case.

The recording of the May 24 joint board-diocesan committee meeting, of which I transcribed parts earlier, is also on the Web site.

I haven't heard anything else of interest. It's been quiet, at least on the surface.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Decompressing



It's been a wild and weird week, and an exhausting one. I don't know what's been going on TEC and AC-wise.

I covered a trial this week. A young man was charged with manslaughter with a firearm. That may be a more everyday trial in bigger cities, but this is a small town, and the victim was a well-loved member of the downtown community.

He was hit by a hollow-point bullet fired from a 9mm gun aimed down the sidewalk. The young man who fired the gun apparently always carried it with him. He had a concealed weapon permit.

What 22-year-old student needs to carry such a weapon with him? In my mind, drug dealers and gangsters carry around such weapons.

An argument started between this young man's cousin and another man in a bar, at a
pool table. The argument was aggravated by racial slurs hurled by the (white) cousin against the (black) men the cousin was arguing with.

Outside, the verbal threats and insults became more physical.

According to whose account you would believe, the fight consisted more of pushing and shoving (the version I believe), or the cousin was being beaten and his life was in danger, causing the young man on trial to whip out his 9mm and shoot down the sidewalk at one of the men in the other party.

The guys involved in the confrontation were about 15 feet away from the 22-year old shooter, who told police he saw one of the men's arm come down in a motion that made him think he had a knife.


People hearing the shouting had come outside a restaurant and were standing on the sidewalk, on the other side of the fight from the shooter. One of these bystanders was hit by the young man's bullet and died pretty much instantly on the scene, both lungs and his aorta pierced by the 9mm hollow-point bullet.

No one saw any weapon, until they saw this man's gun still pointing down the sidewalk, after he discharged it.

The defense was that the young man had the right to defend his cousin's life, as he would have the right to defend his own, making the accidental death justifiable.

The prosecutor argued, when one is the aggressor, the aggressor has to back down, and can't claim self-defense, so this variation of self-defense doesn't transfer to defending to someone who is acting as the aggressor. The cousin pulled his shirt off in the "let's fight" signal, and said he was gonna whup the other party (I'm using mild language; his was full of "F" words and "N" words), and after being wrestled into the car by the shooting cousin's car to leave at one point, got out and broke loose to go fight. "Confrontational" and "aggressive" and "wanting to fight" were the words witnesses used to describe him.

The prosecutor said firing down that sidewalk was reckless disregard for human life, and the taped police interview of the young shooter bore that out.

That disregard is what I find most disturbing about the shooting. He never showed the least feeling about taking the life of another. He never expressed any sorrow or dismay - absolutely nothing. He talked about thinking his cousin's life was in danger (which I might give him the benefit of the doubt on - maybe that was so in his perception) and telling the investigators what a good shot he was, and didn't need to use his sights as much as other people might.

When investigators asked him if he hadn't thought about the other people on the sidewalk, he said yes, but, “I thought the safety of my cousin’s life was more important.”

Even when the young man took the stand during the trial, he expressed no feeling about killing this man. The shooter said he hadn't known he'd shot and killed his victim when police interviewed him. This was a blatant lie; one witness testified to shouting, "You shot him! You killed him!" after the shooter fired.

The young shooter did dial 911 on his cell phone afterward. Too bad he didn't do that instead of shooting.

I heard something the jurors didn't, and that was the 911 tape from the incident. People filled the street after the shooting, and were screaming hysterically in the background about the victim being shot. The shooter was there on the scene as medics attended to the dead victim.

I don't know if jury reacted the same way I did to the tape, but they found the shooter guilty of manslaughter with a firearm.

They could have found him guilty of simple manslaughter or culpable negligence, both lesser charges, or innocent. Manslaughter with a firearm carries a penalty of up to 30 years in prison. The judge may not impose the maximum, given the shooter's youth and lack of criminal history; the won't hold that hearing until he gets the results of the pre-sentencing investigation.

Many people who used to feel safe going out in our neat little downtown don't any more. That's too bad.

I keep asking myself why. Why this young man, who described himself as a student who didn't go out to bars much, who didn't even drink because of medical problems, carried that gun with him everywhere.

If he hadn't been carrying it, no one would have died. A few people might have been arrested for disturbing the peace, and finished the night in jail.

If he hadn't fired that gun down the sidewalk, nobody would be dead. Wouldn't have firing the gun into the air put an effective stop to the brawl, if all he wanted to do was protect his cousin? Yet, he chose to shoot down the sidewalk, which had a number of people on it, including his cousin.

If he had shouted, "Stop! Or I'll shoot," and shown the gun,wouldn't that have put an end to it? He didn't. He seemed to want to shoot somebody.

Now, he's taken a life, ruined his life and the lives of his parents, who were there throughout the trial and wept at the verdict, and damaged all the people who cared about the victim, for whom he showed no regard.

He told police during the interview, "I'm a pretty smart kid."

I'd disagree with that assessment.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Rove to resign



Is there something about this in the Book of Revelation?

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Now I'm Spain



Uh-oh. I took the latest personality quiz. I picked this one up from Wormwood's Doxy, who picked it up from Eileen.

I also took the "What Kind of Animal Are You" quiz last week at Sharecropper's, and this is what I found: It told me I'm a deer, a little paranoid about hunters and rifles and stuff, but I should stay away from hunting lodges and headlights.

Good advice, probably :)

So anyway, now, I'm Spain:




You're Spain!

You like rain on the plain, as well as interesting architecture and
a diverse number of races and religions.  You like to explore a lot, but sailing,
especially in large groups, never really seems to work out for you.  Beware of pirates
and dictators bearing bombs.  And for heavens' sake, stop running around bulls!
 It's just not safe!



Take the Country Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid

Saturday, August 11, 2007

The feast day of St. Clare



Today (Aug. 11) is the day we celebrate St. Clare. See the bio posted a couple of entries below.

Thank you, Clare, for your shining example of humility, courage and determination to serve Christ. You denied yourself, giving up a life of wealth and privilege, to take care of His sheep.

You remind us our joy is in the Kingdom of God.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Just a thought: Be all God meant you to be



I've been thinking about those 21 priests Bishop Lee of Virginia released from ordination. Poor guys, what will they do now?

I had a Google-search inspired vision: They can join the Progressive Universal Life Church (PULC).

The PULChritudinous Web site promises,

We want to help you reach your full potential in life. We want to help you become all that God meant you to be! The PULC offers ordination, degree & diploma programs to help you in your spiritual journey. Order our ministerial certificate now and become a legally ordained minister with the right to use the title "Reverend".
The Progressive Universal Life Church welcomes all individuals, regardless of race, creed or ethnic background. Our members are from all religious faiths and All Parts of the World. We Pray You Will Join Us! God Bless You!


Bring your concerns to PULC and leave with the confidence
that God will see to your every need.


Why a Doctoral Degree from PULC?

Religion, Theology, Divinity,
Counseling, Metaphysics,
Hypnotherapy, Parapsychology,
Holistic, Healing, Wellness,
New Age, Motivation & More!



And the church promises there's pretty good money in it.


Become an ordained minister and enjoy a new outlook on life! As a P.U.L.C. Minister (with the legal right to use the title "Reverend") you will be free to preach and teach according to the dictates of your heart.
WE AUTHORIZE YOU TO
PERFORM ALL FUNCTIONS
OF THE MINISTRY including marriages, baptisms, funerals, services, etc. As a point of passing, thousands of Ministers
have become enormously wealthy performing simple religious ceremonies.





(Note: For a serious discussion of the matter, read Mark Harris' PRELUDIUM: Deposition and Recognition: A wee shell game..)

Saint Clare of Assisi



Imagine. Your well-to-do parents are arranging your marriage to a wealthy man. Your mother is a pious woman, who has pilgrimmed to the Holy Land.

Life is good.

Then, you're taken with this preacher who's taken a vow of poverty. Gossip around town is he runs through the streets naked. He's a crazy man. Your parents lock you up to protect you, like his parents had tried with him.

You leave home to follow him. You let him cut off your hair as a sign of the life of poverty and chastity to which you've sworn.

I wonder, Saint Clare, how much your heart burned with love for that man, known as Saint Francis of Assisi, for whom you cared tenderly through his life. You cared for all the poor, the sick, the needy, throughout your own life, and founded an order dedicated to that cause.



Clare's story is more dramatic than any fiction. Here's the official bio, by James Kiefer:

11 August 1253
Clare Offreduccio, born in 1194, was the daughter of a wealthy family in Assisi. When she was eighteen years old, she heard a sermon by Francis of Assisi, and was moved by it to follow the example of the Franciscan brothers and vow herself to a life of poverty. Her family was horrified, and brought her back home by force; but one night, in a gesture both tactical and symbolic, she slipped out of her house through "the door of the dead" (a small side door that was traditionally opened only to carry out a corpse) and returned to the house of the Franciscans. Francis cut off her hair, and placed her in a nearby convent. Later a house was found for her, and she was eventually joined by two of her sisters, her widowed mother, and several members of the wealthy Ubaldini family of Florence. Clare's best friend, Pacifica, could not resist, and joined them, too.

The sisters of her order came to be known informally as Minoresses (Franciscan brothers are Friars Minor = "lesser brothers") or as Poor Clares. When the order was formed, Francis suggested Clare for the Superior. But she refused the position until she turned twenty-one. They devoted themselves to prayer, nursing the sick, and works of mercy for the poor and neglected.

They adopted a rule of life of extreme austerity (more so than of any other order of women up to that time) and of absolute poverty, both individually and collectively. They had no beds. They slept on twigs with patched hemp for blankets. Wind and rain seeped through cracks in the ceilings. They ate very little, with no meat at all. Whatever they ate was food they begged for. Clare made sure she fasted more than anyone else. Despite this way of life, or perhaps because of it, the followers of Clare were the most beautiful young girls from the best families of Assisi.

The community of Poor Clares continues to this day, both in the Roman and in the Anglican communions.


PRAYER (contemporary language)

O God, whose blessed Son became poor that we through his poverty Might be rich: Deliver us from an inordinate love of this world, that we, inspired by the devotion of your servant Clare, may serve you with singleness of heart, and attain to the riches of the age to come; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.