Monday, January 29, 2007

I got pinned

I got pinned tonight -- got my pin for five years as a volunteer, on-call chaplain at a local hospital, that is.

Five years have flown by. It doesn't seem like I've done enough to earn the pin, but I'll put it on my ID badge, anyway.

Looking around the room at the group of volunteer chaplains sharing dinner tonight, I saw a great group of people. Their views might diverge widely, but they would come together for anyone who needed prayer and comfort. I was comforted by their company.

The chaplain I sat next to had a tiny, handcrafted angel dangling from her badge. Apropos of nothing, she suddenly removed it and gave it to me, so I'd have a little angel to watch over me, she said, and she would make another one for her badge.

The (official) hospital chaplain is terrific. I've gotten to know a lot of the local pastors through my job, and there are none I admire more than this one.

He knows of the situation with my mother. He put his arm around me tonight, and said, "Let's have lunch or a cup of coffee, and you can tell me about it and cry on my shoulder. I'm here for you, too."

It struck me, I don't have anyone at my church I could talk to right now. Father J left last week. There's no assisting. We'll be getting an interim.

This kind man made me feel so much better.

Thank you Lord, for the people you put in my life.

Happy anniversary, Caminante!

Caminante is celebrating the 13th anniversary of her ordination. Congratulations, gal!

And since you have no comments section on your blog to tell you this, I'm posting it here. And I'm lifting the poem, the one you've been saying for 13 years, because it's so terrific:

The day you were called
to break bread for a living
was the day you were called
to be broken.

The days you spend
bending over bread
are spent
bent around a mystery of fraction.

If you are indeed broken,
you need to gather up
each other's fragments gently,
and remember how,
again through you,
God feeds so many
with so little.

(author unknown)

Always remember the mystery. Here's to the next baker's dozen of years!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

A curious tale

In my day job, some interesting stories come across my e-mail. Take this one, for example: from The Advocate - Louisiana.

Report: Officers followed policies in subduing man

Published: Jan 24, 2007

LAFAYETTE, LA - Police officers did not violate any department policies and procedures in the Dec. 17 death of a man who died hours after officers used a Taser stun gun to subdue him, a Lafayette police spokesman said in a news release issued Tuesday.

Forensic reports from the Lafayette Parish Coroner's Office found MR. SMITH of X-TOWN died as a result of "cocaine-induced excited delirium," Cpl. Paul Mouton said. The department's policy on the use of stun gun devices was scheduled to go before the Lafayette City-Parish Council on Tuesday night.

MR. SMITH was involved at a disturbance at a Waffle House on Northwest Evangeline Thruway. He was naked and confronting a female employee, police said.

A male employee managed to subdue MR. SMITH, but when police arrived, MR. SMITH began to resist again, police said. MR. SMITH was eventually subdued by the use of a Taser stun gun - an electrical stunning device - then taken to a local hospital, which is automatically required under the department's policy.

He died later that day at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital.

Police conducted an administrative inquiry into MR. SMITH's death. The inquiry is a normal procedure whenever a person is injured or dies while in police custody, Chief Jim Craft said shortly after the man's death.

MR. SMITH was naked and causing a disturbance about 5:10 a.m. on that Sunday. His leg had been broken and the bone was sticking out of his skin from an earlier jump from the second story of a Motel 6 on Evangeline Thruway. After jumping, police said, MR. SMITH removed his clothes in the hotel lobby before hitching a ride down the street to the Waffle House.

The initial investigation had pointed to MR. SMITH being on some sort of mind-altering substance, Craft said. "We don't think the Taser caused his death," Craft said. Police policy requires officers to be trained in the use of stun
guns, also known as an "electro-muscular disruption device," before using such a device.


Now, my question is NOT whether it was cocaine or Taser that done him in, which was the sender of the e-mail's concern. It seems obvious to me, combine a bunch of cocaine with tasering, and it's goodbye cruel world.

No, my question is, who would let a naked, drugged-up man with his bone sticking out of his leg ('cause he just jumped out of the second floor of a Motel 6) "hitch a ride" to the Waffle House with them?

Sometimes you've just got to wonder.

p.s. I changed the man's name -- this is a true story.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

'I'm so tired and I just wanna go home'

I made a blitz of a trip to see my mother, 450 miles one way up yesterday afternoon, then another 450 back today, after a visit with her in the nursing home this morning.

Faithful readers will remember she fell and broke her hip a couple of weeks ago. She underwent hip replacement surgery, for which her heart meds and coumadin had to be cut back, then had a bout of atrial fibrillation. Every time she's had one of these bouts, her mental functioning has gone down a notch, I suspect because not enough oxygen gets circulated into her brain. She has Alzheimer's.

She's definitely worse than last time I saw her, in October. Today, she stayed a little confused about who I am, even thought I made sure to tell her a couple of times. She sat and talked for a couple of minutes, though what she said didn't make sense, then the light just seemed to go out. She quit talking and just sat there.

She did this last week, when I called to talk to her. Pain meds could be muddling her mind a bit, but my sense is this is how she is now. She cried and fussed in pain when the aide put her on the toilet.

My mother looks skeletal. She is so thin and without padding, I could see the shape of every bone in her face and skull. The aide said she doesn't want to eat, except for a few sweets. This is nothing new, except maybe the degree. She's grown progressively thinner the last few years.

A nurse told me "not to get my hopes up" my mother would be able to walk around again, or show significant improvement.

No, I won't. I got the sense, sitting with her, my mother wants to go on out of this life. It's just a question of how long it will take her body to cooperate. I anointed her with oil, as she slept, asking God to bless her and keep her, make her comfortable, take away her pain and anxiety, then wrap her in his arms and take her home when the time comes.

I flew back up the highway, longing for my little haven of a home, messy and grubby though it is -- sure sign of a blogger, I hear. Betsy, who is the best dog in the world, accompanied me on the trip, and I was glad for her companionship. She loves to go with me, but even she was tired and starting to fret the last miles of the trip.

I came in, checked my e-mail, fixed supper and unloaded the car while it cooked. Now I'm sitting, thinking, and listening to the great music of the young Rod Stewart, courtesy of MadPriest, as I sip a glass of wine.

Thanks, Maddie. It's just what I needed.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

It's like I said, church buildings don't travel well

From Episcopal News Service

VIRGINIA: Bishop inhibits clergy; diocese responds to filings by separated churches

By Mary Frances Schjonberg
Tuesday, January 23, 2007

[Episcopal News Service]  Bishop Peter Lee of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, inhibited 21 diocesan clergy on January 22 and rescinded the licenses of six others, saying that he was acting on the determination of the diocesan Standing Committee that the clergy "have openly renounced the doctrine, discipline or worship of the Episcopal Church and, therefore, have abandoned the communion of the Episcopal Church."

Lee's action came after the votes of the majority membership of 15 diocesan congregations at various times in 2006 to leave The Episcopal Church.

The Standing Committee met on January 18 and determined that the clergy attached to these departed congregations "are now leading congregations that have declared that they do not recognize the ecclesiastical or legal authority of either The Episcopal Church or the Diocese of Virginia," according to a January 23 diocesan news release.

The clergy have six months under the terms of Episcopal Church canons (Canon IV.10.1-2) to reverse their decision to abandon the communion of the Church. After that time they can be removed from the Episcopal ministry.

Inhibited clergy are not members of the Virginia Annual Council under Article III of the diocesan Constitution. The Annual Council meets January 26-27, with the election of a bishop coadjutor and Lee's eventual successor set for the first day.

"As further evidence of their decision to abandon The Episcopal Church and the Diocese" the release said, the majority membership of the 15 churches have filed civil actions styled as "reports" with the respective circuit courts in an effort to transfer ownership of the congregations' properties. The diocese has filed responses denying any transfer of property, citing both Virginia law and the canons of the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia, the release said.

"The majority membership of the 15 churches voluntarily chose to sever their ties with the Diocese and, in doing so, they abandoned the property for the purposes for which it was set aside, namely the mission of the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia," the diocese argued in the release.

According to the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church, dioceses are created or dissolved only by acts of General Convention (Articles V and VI) and dioceses create or dissolve Episcopal congregations in their midst. Congregational property is held in trust for the diocese, and the diocese holds property in trust for the wider church (Canon I.7.4 of the Episcopal Church). Virginia's diocesan canons concur with the national canons.
In a January 18 letter to the diocese, Lee said, "In the structure of the Episcopal Church, individuals may come and go but parishes continue."

He wrote that "previous generations of Episcopalians worshiped, worked, prayed and gave generously for the spread of the Kingdom of God. It is the trust that they created, and that we inherited, which now we must move to protect, preserve and expand for generations to come."

The 15 congregations (of the 195 in the diocese) where property has been declared abandoned are: All Saints, Dale City; Christ Our Lord Anglican Church, Lake Ridge; Church of the Apostles, Fairfax; Church of the Epiphany, Herndon; Church of the Holy Spirit, Ashburn; Church of Our Saviour, Oatlands; Church of the Redeemer, Chantilly; Church of the Word, Gainesville; Potomac Falls Church, Sterling; St. Margaret's, Woodbridge; St. Paul's, Haymarket; St. Stephen's, Heathsville; South Riding Episcopal Church, Fairfax; The Falls Church, Falls Church; and Truro Church, Fairfax.

The majority of the laity and clergy of those congregations voted to sever ties with the Episcopal Church and affiliate with the Anglican Church of Nigeria by way of the Anglican District of Virginia, part of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA). The members amount to about 8,000 of the diocese's roughly 90,000 Episcopalians. The Episcopal Church includes some 7,200 congregations in its 100 domestic dioceses, and about 150 in its 10 overseas dioceses and one convocation.
-- The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is national correspondent for the Episcopal News Service.


Wednesday, January 24, 2007

St. Mary Mags takes an encore

All right: Per Maddie's request, St. Mary Magdalene in the Grotto makes a return appearance. The artist was Jules Joseph Lefebvre, who painted Mags in 1876. He apparently liked his Bollywood women of the day, and the nuder the better.

To see more of his paintings, go to The Art of Jules-Joseph Lefebvre. A number of them are really quite good IMO, but I prefer the clothed ones. Mags is the best of the nudes -- the others are mostly all painted in the same hip-jutting posture and get a little boring. I'm not a man, however.

Where I first came across the painting, though was at a site with the story -- a combination of information from the Bible, various legends and conjecture -- about the life of Mary Magdalene, at The Nazarene Way. Interesting reading.

The St. Mary Madalene in the Grotto painting illustrated one of the French stories of how St. Mary Magdalene came to France. (from whence Dan Brown copped some of his Da Vinci Code stuff. She would go to a grotto to reflect, fast and pray penitential prayers, according to the stories.

Somehow, I don't think the spiritual side of St. Mags was the only thing on Lefebre's mind.

There. I feel better about posting it, with a little lesson attached. St. Mags is at the top of my "Favorite Saint" list. She was a real, live passionate woman.

Maddie, you DID read the lesson, didn't you?

Also, scroll down to Jan. 19's "I've been tagged!" entry for KJ's response to the 7 Things Meme.

From St. Pat's bad joke files

Here's a joke I've been longing to tell:

"You know how President Bush likes those photo ops of him clearin' brush with the ranch hands or hangin' out at the ranch in a cowboy hat and shirt."


"Yup. The truth is, he's terrible scairt of horses. That's why you never see him ridin' a horse."

"Well, if that don't get all."

"Yup. Cowboy? Why, the closest that man ever got to the back of a horse was openin' a can of Alpo."

(St. Pat rolls on floor, laughing her patootie off. Well, it's late, and she's a little punchy. Plus, she lived in Texas when she was a child, and rode horses. She can't help it.)

Bush hoofs it. It's a long ride across Texas, without a horse.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

My two feet

Have you ever noticed the two sides of our bodies are mirror images of each other? On my left foot, the big toe is on the right. On my right foot, the big toe is on the left. The little toe is on the left on my left foot, and on the right on my right foot.

Hmm. Diversity.

Can the toes on my right foot judge the toes on my left foot defective, and unfit to serve my body, because the orientation of the left toes is the reverse of the orientation of the right toes? What if my right foot accused my left foot of walking apart?

How can it?

Would I think my feet were serving me properly?

What if my hands were to decide neither of my feet are worthy to serve Christ, because feet are so obviously differently from hands, and now my hands want to sever themselves from my body, and join a new, footless body?

Kind of ridiculous. And painful, for hands and body.

That's the point of today's epistle, Paul's letter to the Church at Corinth (1 Corinthians 12:12-31a). See the full text of the reading at the end of the entry.

When I hear church people speak of being unequally yoked, I wonder why they want to pull the wagon, "the body," if you will, all alone. The yoke will chafe them. They will tire out much more quickly. They can't go as far. They will fail in their mission.

It's like removing the left engine of a twin-engine aircraft just before takeoff, because the right engine doesn't like being "yoked" to the other engine. The result: The aircraft would pull sharply to the left and down after it just got into the air -- crashing and bursting into flame. The right engine isn't strong enough to lift the aircraft off the ground properly, and the plane's energy is out of balance.

When one engine goes out during flight, the plane just wants to go in circles.

The right engine could power a single engine plane alone, but without the same strength, cargo (read "mission") capacity, or range. When it has a bad day, the plane goes down. There's no backup.

In the same way, a church that eliminates or segregates some of its members becomes weaker and out of balance.

I don't want to belong to a "straight" church. I don't want to belong to a "gay" church. That's a church hopping around on one foot.

I don't want to belong to a church that worships the thinking of Spong or Akinola, either one. That church, and its theology, is out of balance.

To go back to the airplane analogy, we need to fly the course that recognizes, "If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together."

I hear some in my diocese, and in other dioceses, say the Episcopal Church is screwed up, and they want to leave it to join like-minded "right" feet in another province.

I think they're making a mistake, one that diminishes all of us, the body of Christ.

We are the body of Christ, Paul tells us.

1 Corinthians 12:12-31a

Just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body--Jews or Greeks, slaves or free--and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot would say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear would say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many members, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you," nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you." On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.

Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? But strive for the greater gifts.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Sex lives of Windsor bishops

This morning, I was thinking how ridiculous is all this absorption some people have with the sex lives of others. Windsor bishops must spend a lot of time contemplating other peoples' activities behind closed bedroom doors, they stay so het up about it. Their musings seem to take them particularly into the areas of homosexual activities, å la Viruosity.

What's the deal with this? All sex is kind of ridiculous-looking, whether heterosexual or homosexual. I don't want to spend time considering what other people are doing. Yuchhh.

[Of course, my romantic fantasies aren't yucchhy at all, but they're mine. And they're private.]

I don't enjoy seeing people making a spectacle of their sexuality. I don't want to ponder what others, especially clergy, are doing in the bedroom with their significant others. Keep your private life private, thank you.

And, it isn't any of my business. Thank God! Imagine having to contemplate the sex life of +Robert Duncan or +Peter Akinola. EEUUUWWWW!!! ACKKKK!!!

They don't have any business trying to peek into the bedrooms of monogamously partnered clergy, either.

Maybe the Windsor bishops could spend more time worrying about their flocks, and less time on their prejudices and/or secret fantasies.

Then I read Bishop Desmond Tutu's comments here.
Of course, I could be wrong...: Tutu With Follow Through

"I am deeply disturbed that in the face of some of the most horrendous problems facing Africa, we concentrate on 'what do I do in bed with whom'," Tutu told a news conference in Nairobi.

"For one to penalise someone for their sexual orientation is the same as penalising someone for something they can do nothing about, like ethnicity or race. I cannot imagine persecuting a minority group which is already being persecuted."


Mrs. Grundy-bishops, please spend more time on other things.

Friday, January 19, 2007

On a more enjoyable note,

I've Been Tagged!

The 7 things meme

Padre Mickey done tagged me!

1. Name a book that you want to share so much that you keep giving away copies

Hmm. That would be All Creatures Great and Small. I've bought (used) and given away several copies of it. It's one of my all-time favorites.

2. Name a piece of music that changed the way you listen to music

Schubert's "Ave Maria." It's so full of the longing for the divine; it reaches straight into my soul, and takes me so close to the divine, as I listen.

3. Name a film you can watch again and again without fatigue

There are two that come to mind, both with the name Africa in them. Out of Africa, which I've seen a number of times, yet, if it comes on TV, I find myself sitting and watching again. The other is The African Queen. Another great story, with two of my favorite actors: Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn.

Like Kate, I adored Bogie.

4. Name a performer for whom you suspend all disbelief

The aforesaid Humphrey Bogart (whom I've adored since I first saw him) and Katharine Hepburn. Also, Kevin Spacey, Morgan Freeman, Tom Hanks, to name a few more. I obviously have trouble limiting my choices.

5. Name a work of art you’d like to live with

Hmmm... so difficult to choose. Some great works of art are great on museum walls, but difficult to live with. I guess I'd pick one of the impressionist or post-impressionist paintings -- maybe Degas' "Dance Instructor." I have a copy of Van Gogh's "Sunflowers" -- maybe "Starry Night" to go with it. Maybe Rodin's sculpture "The Thinker."

6. Name a work of fiction which has penetrated your real life

I read To Kill A Mockingbird as an adolescent, after having spent a couple of years in South Alabama, where white people still held their breath while passing a "colored" person on the street. I had picked up some of those attitudes, but that book started a shift in me. Then, I read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings in high school. Oh, my. On a more intellectual level, and also read in high school, Brave New World and 1984 shocked me into what is my now firm anti-FASCIST stand and reluctance to give up any right to Big Brother. (George W. Bush certainly augmented and cemented that attitude.)

7. Name a punch line that always makes you laugh

I'm not sure it's a punchline, but Jack Benny putting his hand to his face and saying, "Well." Benny is another one I saw on TV from the time I was a little child, and I adored him. Still do.

OK. I tag Jim at Today's Gospel Insights, Lisa at My Manner of Life and Brother Causticus at titusoneten! (I can't wait to see which books and movies he casts his gimlet gaze upon!) And KJ, ninh and Mimi, who post at MadPriest's all the time. Drat that Padre Mickey -- he already tagged MadPriest.

Update 9:58 p.m. Friday, Jan. 19

I've heard back from Jim at Today's Gospel Insights. His musings are too good to be left in the comments section:

Well, OK. Jim says

1. Name a book that you want to share so much that you keep giving away copies: The Way of the Wolf, by Martin Bell

2. Name a piece of music that changed the way you listen to music: "Once in Royal David's City," performed by the Cambridge Choir.

3. Name a film you can watch again and again without fatigue: The Caine Mutiny, once again a Bogey flick. I have met too many Queegs in my life, and enjoy rolling the marbles down their speaking pipes!

4. Name a performer for whom you suspend all disbelief: Bogey! Who knew?
[I suspected, Pat says]

5. Name a work of art you’d like to live with: Michaelangelo -- Anything

6. Name a work of fiction which has penetrated your real life: Thomas Wolfe's You Can't Go Home Again. You can't.

7. "Come on, Dad, you promised you'd play fair!" (Jesus to God on the first hole)

Jim's answer to No. 7 made me spew Diet Coke all over my keyboard.

Update 3:15 p.m. 01-20-07

Both Lisa and Brother Causticus have posted great entries. Grandmére Mimi, are you out there?

Update 11:38 p.m. 01-24-07

Our friend KJ chimes in with his 7 Things Meme:

KJ said...
I have completed my homework.

1. Name a book that you want to share so much that you keep giving away copies

"Is the Homosexual My Neighbor?" by Letha Scazoni and Virginia Mollenkott. This book was given to me prior to coming out and I found it very helpful in making the seemingly complex very, very simple. As I have become an evangelical gay boy magnet, I find many opportunities to share this book.

2. Name a piece of music that changed the way you listen to music

J.S. Bach's Concerto for Two Violins in D minor, 2nd movement. Few baroque pieces communicate passion the way that movement does, IMO.

3. Name a film you can watch again and again without fatigue

October Sky. I think that the theme of father and son with so much in common, yet worlds apart, both loved, faults and all, by wife and mother, is ageless.

4. Name a performer for whom you suspend all disbelief

Denzel Washington and Jodi Foster. I'd pay to watch and listen to the two of them read the phone book.

5. Name a work of art you’d like to live with

I own it. It was painted by a friend of mine. It's a Western Washington pastoral scene, milk cows and all. It hangs on the wall next to my desk where I can look at it as opposed to the parking lot out the window.

6. Name a work of fiction which has penetrated your real life

"The Keys of the Kingdom" by AJ Cronin. I first read this book when I was in high school and it challenged many of the stereotypes I had about priests, and the Catholic faith.

7. Name a punch line that always makes you laugh

"Run away! Run away!" which I guess isn't really a punch line as much as a recurring funny line in a movie of infamy and damn good advice.

KJ, I don't know the movie you're referring to in #7. ?? (I don't get out a whole lot) I remember Keys of the Kingdom - terrific.

I suspect Grandmere Mimi is going to be busy trying to figure out her new blog for a little bit. We may have to wait a while for her "7 Things."

Thursday, January 18, 2007

An eerie stillness

There's an eerie stillness in the Diocese of Central Florida tonight. The news is out, posted by sources as varied as The Daily Episcopalian and Titusonenine.
The Episcopal Voices listserv is quiet. There's not a word from anyone, yet the news is big.

Bishop Peter Lee and the Diocese of Virginia have declared the 11 parishes that voted to leave the Episcopal Church for the Nigerian church vacant and abandoned, and they are being reclaimed for the Episcopal Church.

Lee said, in a separate letter, "When the membership of these congregations voted to sever their ties with the Episcopal Church and affiliate with CANA, they left remaining Episcopal congregations in those places without vestries, without clergy and without their churches, whether the remaining congregations numbered one or 100 souls. The spiritual abandonment of their Episcopal brothers and sisters of the past, the present and the future, is perhaps the greatest offense for which there is no redress under our tradition...

Bishop Lee detailed his attempts to maintain relations with the leadership of these churches, for naught.

"We have resisted attempts to deny them seat, voice and vote at the Annual Council when they stopped funding the budget of the Diocese. They have enjoyed access to our diocesan-managed medical and dental benefits. They have enjoyed other diocesan resources like grant funding for church planting, mission work and congregational development, Shrine Mont and Roslyn. I have met dozens of times with the leadership of these churches and with their counsel in an effort to find common ground on matters of theology."

I'm waiting to see what happens here, in the eerie quiet. Is it the calm before the storm?

The groundwork was being laid in this diocese for the move to Nigeria. Last week, one of the Network types in my parish (a nice person, but sadly tapped into this stuff) sent a e-mail around, with propaganda hot off the AAC press:

The Path of the Episcopal Church

Here we chronicle the events and their dates leading up to the "Walking Apart" of the US branch of the Anglican Communion from the main body of both the Communion and the Holy Catholic Church.

The Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States of America (PECUSA), is also known as the Episcopal Church of the United States of America (ECUSA), the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (DFMS), and The Episcopal Church (TEC).

After this intro comes a long timeline of "proofs" that the Episcopal Church has chosen to walk apart. Spong's name figures big in it. Events of 2003 (Gene Robinson becomes bishop, the General Convention) are marked it red.

The sender says, "An interesting read no matter how you 'feel' about things. I hope you'll familiarize yourself with events and go on line and do your own research. I truly believe we will be challenged to make some decisions sooner or later and the more informed each of us is, the better we'll be able to make those decision. SO - PRAY, RESEARCH, PRAY, READ, PRAY and PRAY someone."

I have been, and Bishop Lee and the Diocese of Virginia have answered one of my prayers.

Now let's see what the leadership in this diocese does.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Mad kings and mad wars

[If the cartoon text is difficult to read, in the top line, Hobbes asks Calvin, "How come we play war and not peace?" Calvin replies, "Too few role models."]

War is stupid. It should be resorted to in last-ditch defense.

Unfortunately, we have a leader in the White House, who when he can't intimidate the generals into saying what he wants, fires them. We have a leader who listens to no one -- not even the Pentagon or his advisors, about this war. We could soon find ourselves at war in other places in the world. Iran? Bombing Somalia? Mad King George reigns.

Even the Saudis are nervous. And they're unhappy with the Shias, who are in charge of the Iraqi government. The Saudis are Sunnis.

The more I read Middle Eastern news, I see how the U.S. has destabilized an already volatile region. All of it could be engulfed in a religious war.

Perhaps Bush is one of those end-timers who wants to bring it on.

Here a take that seems to sum up Arab thinking:

Arab Perspectives on Bush's Iraq plan
Q&A with Jamal Dajani
New America Media, Q & A, Camille T. Taiara, Posted: Jan 16, 2007

Editor's Note: The Arab media was "bewildered" by Bush's plans to send more troops to Iraq without changing an admittedly failing strategy, reports Jamal Dajani, director of Middle Eastern programming for LinkTV.

Bush's plan to place new brigades in some of Iraq's most hotly contested areas is equivalent to "poking a tiger with a stick," Jamal Dajani said. And the administration's refusal to negotiate with Iran -- as the Baker-Hamilton Report advised -- is putting our allies in the region in an increasingly tight spot.

In the meantime, Iraqis are bracing themselves.

New America Media interviewed Dajani within 24 hours of Bush's speech, in an article called
Arab Perspectives on Bush Plans.

Bush said the purpose of sending the extra troops is to help the Iraqis quell sectarian violence. But how will this "surge" actually affect the war?

This is the Shia's first opportunity in hundreds of years to have a Shia-dominated government. I wouldn't be surprised if [Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri] al-Maliki starts purges against Sunni strongholds. At the same time, putting 4,000 of those new troops -- who are unfamiliar with the terrain, the customs, the culture -- in [Sunni-majority] Anbar, which is a very large province, is just creating more targets for the Sunnis, who still perceive the U.S. as occupiers. U.S. troops might find themselves in the position, not only of separating the Shia from the Sunnis, but of being under very heavy attack from the Sunnis, and then they'll be playing into the hands of Maliki -- by bombing the Sunnis by air, by using heavy force against them. At the end of the day, you're going to see more American soldiers killed, and it's not going to stop the sectarian war.

How is the Arab world interpreting the opposition Bush faces from Congress, from the American public, from within the military?

Basically, they feel that Bush is defying all logic. But whereas people used to differentiate between U.S. policy and the American people, there's been a change in attitude. People feel the Americans are co-conspirators, because they elected Bush, and they let him continue with his policies.

Meanwhile, the toll mounts. Here'sThe Palm Beach Post Jan. 15, on the true cost the president's "surge" will have on American soldiers:

Within hours after President Bush announced a troop increase in Iraq, the Minnesota National Guard began reaching out to family members of soldiers.

The president's "surge" will mean that as many as 3,000 Minnesotans may have to spend an extra four months in Iraq. The Minnesota Guard is sending military counselors and making mental health-care providers available to help families, stressed emotionally and financially to the breaking point, deal with the extension. The same is happening in other states. In 2005, according to the Pentagon, more than half of the combat forces in Iraq were guard members. "Citizen soldiers" doesn't fit anymore.

Last week, an Associated Press investigation found that an Army private charged with slaughtering an Iraqi family had been diagnosed as a homicidal threat by a military mental-health team three months before the March attack. About 20 percent of soldiers returning from Iraq come home with serious mental illness. The length of deployment, repeated tours, family separation and the stress of urban warfare have spread post-traumatic stress disorder like a virus. Veterans hospitals are seeing a spike in war patients in their 20s. The suicide rate for Iraq soldiers and veterans doubled in 2005, surges the administration doesn't talk about.

Democrats are pushing through stopgap financing to keep the Veterans Affairs health-care system running. It needs $3 billion more this year just to continue covering the veterans already in the system. Backlogs in claims processing and appointments with physicians are surging toward historic levels. It will be years before the VA feels the full weight of the Iraq toll.

The president's call for more troops stresses the all-volunteer military as never before. It takes two years to recruit, train and arm 10,000 troops. Recruiters already have lowered standards to reach targets, thus risking more atrocities such as Mahmoudiya. The Army's 3rd Infantry from Fort Stewart, Ga., that led the 2003 invasion has been recalled to Iraq, the first division to be tapped for a third deployment.

President Bush wants a "surge" of 21,500 troops. The question obvious everywhere but in the White House is: A surge from where?

Yeah, I wonder.

Your own somebodiness: Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Only a day late ...

Among King's best-remembered writings are his "I Have a Dream" speech and his letter from Birmingham jail.

This one touch me deeply, too. It's timely, in these days when some people in the church are told they're not worthy:

In 1967, King spoke to a group of students at Barratt Junior High School in Philadelphia. He said, "I want to ask you a question, and that is: What is your life's blueprint?"

He went on to say, "Whenever a building is constructed, you usually have an architect who draws a blueprint, and that blueprint serves as the pattern, as the guide, and a building is not well erected without a good, solid blueprint."

"No. 1 in your life's blueprint, should be a deep belief in your own dignity, your worth and your own somebodiness. Don't allow anybody to make you feel that you're nobody. Always feel that you count. Always feel that you have worth, and always feel that your life has ultimate significance."

Monday, January 15, 2007

Calvin, the anti-blah

Caught in the throes of my foul mood Saturday, I flopped down in my green easy chair. Looking for something to distract me, I pulled a book from the coffee table. It was a collection of Calvin and Hobbes comics (Weirdos from Another Planet) I came across it a while back, while looking for another book.

I sat and flipped through it, and in a short time, found myself laughing out loud.

Calvin, the anti-blah. I think he's my spiritual child. If I had a little boy, I suspect he would be just like Calvin.

Bill Watterson packed a lot into these little comics. Many of them have as much message as you could get in an hour's sermon -- but packaged in terms of hilarity. No preaching involved.

Watterson quit doing the strip in 1995. It is our loss.

So, I''m taking a retro look at the theology and philosophy expressed Calvin and Hobbes. Take a look at the Calvin and Hobbes site. You can pull up comic strips according to theme. If you're not familiar with Calvin and Hobbes, here are a few hints: try searching for snow, God, food, school.

The series involving snowmen is the best anti-winter-blah medicine around -- also check out Calvin and Hobbes Snow Art Gallery.

To be, or not to be ... or to melt. Take THAT, winter!

Thank you, Bill Watterson.

The cruelest months

I've been thinking about my foul mood of the other day. (See entry of Saturday; thanks to the gang at MadPriest's for sending hugs and prayers.)

This is the crummiest time of year for me. Maybe there's some SAD (seasonal affective disorder) going on. But it's the time of year of several significant losses and other bad things.

Maybe Father J leaving is adding to it. Intellectually, I know it isn't, but that little girl inside me isn't happy at this abandonment.

I have detailed images stored in my memory of the appearance of snow blanketing the ground, and the way the light hit it, as my father fought his final battle with cancer. Memory is a strange thing.

I've been making a mental list of the good things that happened this time of year. And refleccting on the bad stuff, I see the good things that later came from it.

And spring is just around the corner.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Female Saints of the Week and Other Godly Women

I posted the image of a penitent, weepy Saint Mary Magdalene as sort of a humorous counterpoint to the image of my undeserving self.

Then, I got to thinking, it would be nice to feature images of various saints who happened to be women, and I thought, "Well, we have to have a little bio of the saint of the week, so everyone will know who she is/was."

Women have always made the church go 'round.

It's a good reminder of the role of women in the church these days, when some want to push us back into a box we were never in -- like that pope of the Middle Ages, who connected Mary Magdalene with the penitent (former prostitute?) who anointed Jesus' feet. There's no reason to think that woman was Mary Magdalene.

Who was Mary Magdalene, then?

It's possible Mary Magdalene was the Mary who was sister of Martha and Lazarus. I can see her sitting at the feet of Jesus. Also, Jesus' resurrection of Lazarus was not long before Jesus' final trip into Jerusalem -- Mary could have accompanied him.

Still, there's nothing in the Scriptures that definitely connects the two Marys. And Mary (or "Miriam," like John and James, was a very common name.

We know for certain that Mary Magdalene was Jesus' most dedicated apostle. He had healed her. She stayed with him at the cross, when others turned and ran in fear. She was the first to see the risen Lord. And by many accounts, she was a favorite of Jesus.

So, there you have it. I'll change the image every week or so. It will uplift me; you can look if you want.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Bad, bad mood

I've been in a bitchy mood all day.

I've been in a bad mood all week.

I feel like Calvin (of Bill Watterson's comic strip, "Calvin and Hobbes").

It was only the best comic strip ever.

Anyway, there was one where a disgruntled Calvin, stomping around with a big frown screwed onto his face, says, "Boy, I'm in a bad mood today! Everyone had better steer clear of me!"

Screwing his face up even more, Calvin says, "I hate everybody! As far as I'm concerned, everyone on the planet can just drop dead. People are scum."

Calvin stands, his hands crossed over his chest, glaring, waiting for a reaction.

"WELL-L-L-L? Doesn't anyone want to cheer me up????" he says, after a moment.

I know just how he feels.

Can I get a virtual hug, please? Sometimes when we need it the most is when we act like it the least.

Thank you.

Fascism, anyone?

It's time to look at the 12 warning signs of fascism again. While the imagery designed at the site focused on national politics, the same principles apply to church politics.

Go here.

Insert +Iker or +Akinola or +Duncan's face for Bush's or Cheney's, and see what you get.

Sexism, homophobia, intellectual bullying, spiritual abuse, identifying dissenters as treasonous (revisionist-not-real-Christians) are all acceptable, in this brave, new world.

Adios, muchachos ...

Simon Sarmiento has a post over at Thinking Anglicans that adds to the evidence the Anglican Communion is already splitting in two. He quotes from announcements of 93 Nigerian bishops who just met for an annual retreat:

Lambeth 2008

We stand by our earlier endorsement of the recommendations of the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa (CAPA) document: “The Road to Lambeth” and maintain the posture that we cannot claim to share fellowship with member-Provinces that denigrate the authority of Scripture on the life of the Church. Our participation in this worldwide fellowship is contingent on genuine repentance by those who have chosen to walk away, for two cannot walk together except they are in agreement. Christian unity must be anchored on Biblical truth.

Well, my Nigerian brothers, it's difficult to walk with someone who swings a baseball bat at me for expressing thoughts that go against your "convictions" (feel free to read that as "prejudices.")

It's odd -- I can see two friends walking down the road together, then sitting at a café together. They're talking, discussing, arguing, and breaking bread together.

But your hot-button "convictions" are too powerful to allow you to hear anything that contradicts them. So you accuse your friend of walking apart, as you make a sharp turn to the right. Besides, you see opportunities to take over this now unworthy friend's home and acquaintances. You want to be unyoked from him, disavow him to yourself and others, and justify your actions.

Go in peace, then, bubbas.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Spiritual blindness

To read a great essay about the state of the church, the Communion and madness of some of the thinking going on, read this:

Admiral of Morality: "No authority to diminish the personhood of a single one of God's children for any reason whatsoever"

Thanks to the Admiral for posting it. It's by Bruce Garner, a member of the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church, and here's a brief clip from the essay:

... the Covenant Design Group, the Dallas and Ft. Worth "plans", the Texas meeting and so much of the other "stuff" going on are simply further sometimes covert but often not manifestations and examples of sexism, racism, heterosexism and homophobia.

Now we can place theological position names on these actions and attitudes and we can dress them up with different code words and new dresses and suits, but they remain very real manifestations of "modern racism."

Characteristics are attributed to groups of people using a very broad brush.

Those characteristics are intended to somehow diminish those who are in the groups as children of God. It becomes ok to label them in an effort to figure out how they don't really "fit in" with everyone else. It becomes ok to very subtly treat them differently because of characteristics that are inherent in them. (Let's not go into the nature/nurture issue or the orientation/behavior distinctions...they are in themselves simply further manifestations of ways to diminish the worth of individuals by those who either can't accept or understand them, fear them, hate them or whatever happens to bounce through one's head at the moment. ) And of course, in some cases, the different treatment is far from subtle. Witness [the dioceses of] Ft. Worth, Quincy, Dallas, SC[South Carolia]. CFL [Central Florida] just to name a few. And yes I can hear the howls of protest, but don't waste time or postings with those. Actions have clearly spoken louder than words used in denial of the reality that exists for a variety of "target group" folks in those places...

As much as I have tried, I just can not find any evidence where any of us has been given the authority to judge another of us in our relationship to God or our personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Yet some do that on a daily basis in the name and cover of theological purity or some other such nonsense. Let's be clear: Jesus did not give us that authority over each other. Despite our best efforts to justify exceptions or qualifications to the "second and great commandment," there are none. Love your neighbor as yourself is simple, direct and clear. We don't get to choose. We don't get to qualify. We don't get to except anyone from that commandment.

It struck me, reading this post, what a blindness, perhaps deliberate blindness, there is, among the ones who presume to judge who isn't a "real" Christian or fit to take Communion.

Some of the African leaders want the Archbishop of Canterbury to disinvite Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori from the Tanzania meeting in February"

Kenyan Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi said he found it "difficult to share a meeting with somebody who is ... fighting what we believe Scripture is saying.

"There is dialogue, this can take place, but I think we have listened to one another enough," he told Reuters.

A spokesman for Nigeria's Archbishop Peter Akinola, Africa's staunchest opponent of gay rights, said many primates -- heads of member churches -- were loathe to meet with Jefferts Schori.

"How that can be done remains mere speculation, " said Canon Akintunde Popoola. In an unprecedented move, several primates refused to take communion alongside Frank Griswold, Jefferts Schori's predecessor, at their last meeting in February 2005.

And who are they to usurp the privilege and authority of Jesus Christ?

Meanwhile, Bishop Howe of Central Florida is saying it's not really alternative oversight he asked for, since the PB doesn't really have any authority in diocese, anyway.

Howe is the one who invited Schori to the diocese right after convention, then "disinvited" her to visit.

In the January Diocesan newsletter, he stated, "In our joint Communique to the Archbishop, dated July 20,2006, the Bishops of the (then) seven Dioceses attempted to make clear that what we were asking for was not so much 'oversight' as a continuing relationship with him and the rest of the Communion of 'full constituent membership' (while the rest of the Episcopal Church seems to be moving toward some kind of 'associate' membership -- again, using the words of the Archbishop himself.)"

Again, it's the real ("first tier") Christians versus the "not-real" Christians, he has judged.

It's the blindness of modern racism and the deliberate blindness of self-interest.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Prayer Request

Please keep my mother, Marie, in your prayers. She fell and injured her hip; had a hip-socket replacement Monday, and all seemed to be going well. This morning, however, she's in intensive care with atrial fibrillation -- a racing heart rate. It's one of the health problems that she's had the last few years, along with the advancing dementia, and it's life-threatening. There's also the possibility of a blood clot or stroke as a post-surgery complication.



UPDATE 5 p.m. - Good news:

The ICU nurse said Mom's heart rate has come way down, and she's doing "fine," but Mom will remain in ICU.

Friday, jan. 12

Update: Mom's out of ICU and back into a regular hospital bed.

Black Monday:
two missives issued Monday, Jan. 8

All right, all you Bishop's Best Girls who have been walking in goose-step with the ultraconservative agenda in this diocese. The writing is on the wall.

If you're ordained, don't look for there to be much of a place around here for you. Oh, there might be a well-connected, token favorite or two kept around. The rest of you will be pushed into the background or out. The ones of you in seminary now have probably figured out you need to look for jobs in other dioceses when you graduate.

You didn't think the forces of prejudice, the ones who want to turn the clock back 60 or 100 years would turn on you, as you backed the anti-gay hysteria agitated by the AAC/Network groups. You were in there solid with the conservative push, after all.

Read on. Read the writing on the wall.

Episcopal News Service
January 8, 2007

Panel of Reference tells Episcopal Church it should clarify stance on women's ordination

Wording of canon on availability of ordination process called 'ambiguous'

By Mary Frances Schjonberg

[ENS] The Anglican Communion's Panel of Reference
( org/commission/ reference/ index.cfm) has recommended that the Archbishop of
Canterbury discuss with the Presiding Bishop the possibility of clarifying what it called the
ambiguous wording of a 1997 amendment to the Episcopal Church's ordination canon "so as to
ensure that the permissive nature of the ordination of women is maintained in any diocese."

"At the same time the apparent intention of the amendment to defend the interests of women
candidates for postulancy, candidacy and ordination in a diocese that does not ordain women
would be underscored, " the panel's recommendation said.

The recommendations are part of a report
( org/commission/ reference/ docs/Fort_ Worth_final. pdf) issued by the panel
sometime in December and posted on the Anglican Communion Office's website January 8. The
panel's report is its response to a submission by the Diocese of Fort Worth
(http://www.fwepisco which states that the diocese and its bishop, Jack Iker, "are
concerned that the action of the General Convention of ECUSA in passing Canons which makes
women's ordination mandatory makes it impossible for the Diocese at some future date to
receive confirmation of the election as their bishop of a man who disapproves of the
ordination of women to the presbyterate and/or episcopate."

The diocese has put in place a procedure known as the Dallas Plan to provide women access to
the ordination process and provide for parishes that want to call a woman priest.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said, in response to the report, that "We
recognize that women do have access to ordination under the Dallas Plan at present, which
seems to address the intent of the canon."

No timeframe has yet been set for consultation during which the Presiding Bishop and the
Archbishop of Canterbury will take up further discussion of the issues at hand.

Full story: http://www.episcopa 3577_81044_ ENG_HTM.htm

-ENS provides information and resources which we consider to be of interest to our readers.
However, statements and opinions expressed in the articles and communications herein, are
those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of ENS or the Episcopal Church.

Missive No. 2:

Thugs in charge of the Communion

I'm not sure what to think of this. I'd like to ask the Archbishop of Canterbury what he's thinking! So Drexel Gomez will be leading a "covenant design group?"

At this point, I don't know that I have any confidence left in the ABC or the Anglican Communion.

But they'll probably spend years arguing over terms of the covenant.
It's interesting there is a woman on the panel. Will the Diocese of Fort Worth be able to accept its recommendations?

ACNS 4235 | LAMBETH | 09 JANUARY 2007
Archbishop of Canterbury announces Covenant Design Group members

The Archbishop of Canterbury today announced the members of the Covenant Design Group that he has appointed in response to a request of the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates’ Meeting and of the Anglican Consultative Council.

The group will meet under the chairmanship of the Primate of the West Indies, Archbishop Drexel Gomez, and includes experts in canon law, the nature and mission of of the church and ecumenical relations from around the Communion. In addition to a small core group, the Archbishop is also appointing a wider circle of corresponding members, who will be assisting the Group’s work.

The Group will hold its first meeting in Nassau, the Bahamas, in mid-January 2007, and present an interim report to the Primates Meeting and Joint Standing Committee when they meet in February in Tanzania.

The members are listed below:

The Most Revd Drexel Gomez, West Indies
The Revd Victor Atta-Baffoe, West Africa
The Most Revd Dr John Chew, South East Asia
Ms Sriyanganie Fernando, Ceylon
The Revd Dr Kathy Grieb, USA
The Rt Revd Santosh Marray, Indian Ocean
The Most Revd John Neill, Ireland
The Revd Canon Andrew Norman, Archbishop of Canterbury’s Representative
Chancellor Rubie Nottage, West Indies, Consultant
The Revd Dr Ephraim Radner, USA
Ms Nomfundo Walaza, Southern Africa
The Revd Canon Gregory Cameron, Anglican Communion Office, Secretary

Monday, January 08, 2007

Make me stop. Please.

As I took Betsy for a walk in the early morning chill (75 degrees here in Central Florida), I realized I was singing "Jingle Bells."

Then, I was singing "Silver Bells."

Somebody, make me stop.

Tomorrow, it's supposed to turn cooler.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Winter no relief for allergy sufferers

TRENTON, N.J. - AP The unseasonably warm weather along the East Coast has flooded some offices with patients suffering from an unusual ailment this time of year: allergies.

Doctors say this winter's weather has sparked an onslaught of mold spores that cause allergies and fluctuating temperatures that irritate already-suffering nasal passages. Many patients may confuse an allergic reaction with a common cold.

Yed, I doe.

While people in the Northwest are being buried under snowstorms, we on the eastern coast are having unseasonably warm weather. Mold and mildew proliferate in Florida. There's no snow in the Northeast, forcing ski slopes to close down. Trees are budding -- and will suffer for it, if the weather snaps back with a freeze.

I just heard a meteorologist predicting a record-breaking warm year for 2007, due at least in part to global warming.

Monday, January 01, 2007

On a rant

I'm sorry. I've been on a mental rant about this for more than a week. See preceding entry for reasons.

Michael Moore (Farenheit 911) was right. This administration is going after our young people, the ones with limited opportunities, and using them as cannon fodder.

I watched a discussion on Chris Matthews' TV show last week, about the shortage of military personnel. No one would use the big "D" word -- draft -- even Chris Matthews. It's being used now. That's a good thing, I think. Maybe it will put an end to this war.

Mr. President, where are your daughters?
Show us the party girls in desert drab
sleeping on sand in an Army pod,
eating Halliburton food, carrying rifles.

Mr. President, send your own to slaughter
if this is a just war; if you want
to be a wartime president
to get revenge for your pa
to avoid tracking Osama
to reward your business buddies.

O, senators, where are your children?
O, congressmen, defense contractor execs,
cabinet members,
where are yours?
Where are yours?

Happy New Year - some headlines

updated New Year's morning

It was the best of times,

• NEW: Celebrations around the globe usher in 2007

It was the worst of times

Pentagon: U.S. troop deaths reach 3,000


Why I included this awful New Year's news. Put it together with this.

From a National Priorities Project (NPP) newsletter I received last week:

Army Fails to Meet its Own Recruitment Benchmarks;
Wealthy Recruits Continue to be Under-Represented

Northampton, MA -- The Army filled its ranks in 2006 by ignoring
its own benchmarks for recruits' education standards, according to an analysis of 2006 military recruitment data released today by the National Priorities Project (NPP), a non-profit research organization that studies the local impact of federal policies.

According to the Army's benchmark, 90 percent of new recruits should have a high school diploma. In 2006, 73 percent of all new recruits met this requirement, a drop of 13 percentage points since 2004.

"While President Bush talks about expanding the troops to fight the war in Iraq, the Army is already going after kids who haven't had the privilege of finishing high school," said Anita Dancs, research director of the National Priorities Project. "It appears that the Army's ticket to recruitment success is finding young men and women with limited opportunities."

At the same time, 2006 Army recruits from wealthy neighborhoods -- those with median household incomes of $60,000 and above -- continued to be under-represented at about the same level as 2005 and more so than in 2004, according to the NPP analysis. The low- and middle-income neighborhoods were more over-represented than in 2004.

State and county military recruitment data and analysis are available at While the Army met its goals for new recruits in 2006, it did so with a significant drop in what the Department of Defense (DoD) deems to be 'high quality' recruits. This qualification requires a high school diploma and a score of at least the 50th percentile on the Armed Forces Qualification Test. In 2006, according to the DoD's criteria, more than half of the Army´s recruits for active-service duty were 'non-high quality,' well below their 60 percent benchmark. The 47 percent of recruits who were 'high quality' in 2006 is 14 percentage points lower than the 61 percent in 2004.

"The answer to these inequities or shortfalls in military recruiting is not a draft," Dancs continued. "Instead, we should be talking about how we can ensure these young people get a quality education and avoid this devil's choice by not engaging in wars of

Or how about just ending this war? -- Saint Pat

Back to the newsletter: The NPP analysis indicates that the states with the largest proportion of high-quality recruits were: North Dakota (59 percent), Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Ohio, Pennsylvania and South Dakota. All of those except for Nebraska and Wisconsin had recruiting rates (recruits per 1000 youth population) below the national average. None of these states had a proportion of high-quality recruits equal to the national average of 2004.

The states with the lowest proportion of high-quality recruits were: Mississippi (35 percent), Alabama (37 percent), Arkansas, Louisiana, Nevada, Georgia, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Hawaii, and Tennessee. Of those, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Rhode Island were below the national recruiting rate.

May the Prince of Peace soften the hearts of the warmongers, so all will put down their weapons, in Iraq and other places in the world where mothers' children are dying.

May the words of the prophet be fulfilled:
"He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore."
-- Isaiah 2:4

Have a safe, joyous, blessed, wonderful and peaceful New Year.