Friday, April 18, 2014

GOOD FRIDAY

"Crucifixion (Corpus Hypercubus)" - Salvador Dalí

PRAYER
Almighty God, we pray you graciously to behold this your family, for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed, and given into the hands of sinners, and to suffer death upon the cross; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

(Book of Common Prayer)

Did You Die For Me?

Did you die for me,
Jesus, did you?
Did God raise you for me?

Why? Why for me?
What good am I?
What use to you?

You say because you love me.
Why do you love me?
Because you are love, you say.

I must love my brother;
I must love my sister.
As you love me, so must I love.

Spirit of God,
Dove of love,
Fill my heart to overflowing.

(June Butler - 3-20-08)
Though I looked at other paintings of the Crucifixion, the Dali is so very stark and powerful, that I posted it once again.
Gospel of John 19:1-19

Thursday, April 17, 2014

MAUNDY THURSDAY - THE LAST SUPPER

BASSANO, Jacopo
The Last Supper
  Galleria Borghese, Rome
Almighty Father, whose dear Son, on the night before he suffered, instituted the Sacrament of his Body and Blood: Mercifully grant that we may receive it thankfully in remembrance of Jesus Christ our Lord, who in these holy mysteries gives us a pledge of eternal life; and who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

(Book of Common Prayer)
The Last Supper

Come, my friends, it's Passover night.
Find the room; prepare the table.
Buy the bread; get the wine.
One of you will betray me.

Take and eat. This is my body,
Given for you.
Drink the cup, my blood shed for you
And many.

We'll not eat together again
Until kingdom come.
Sing with me now, for you'll run
When they take me.

"Oh, no, Lord, not I!"
Peter, my friend, you will,
And deny me, too.

(June Butler - 3/12/08)
Bassano's painting is admirable and unusual because he depicts Christ and the apostles as entirely human, rather than as haloed saints, and because the setting of gathering is somewhat disorderly in appearance, as such gatherings would be in real life.  Also, I love the dog curled up asleep by the table.

Gospel of Mark 14:12-25 (NRSV)  

"A FATAL GRACE" - LOUISE PENNEY

Spoiler alert!

While I enjoyed the second book in the Chief Inspector Gamache mystery series, I thought it fell short of the first, Still Life. First of all, that the story was set in the the same small, remote village of Three Pines stretched credulity a bit too far for me. Second, the story includes references to an investigation in Gamache's past that gravely affected his chances for further advancement in the Surété du Québec, but the reader is given only only the sketchiest of glimpses into the case. Third, the book concludes with another loose end left dangling. I suspect the reasoning behind the references to the past and the loose end is to entice the reader to read the next book in the series, but it bothers me because I believe each book, even stories in a series with recurring characters, should stand on its own.

Also, I guessed the identity of one of the murderers, which did not at all detract from my enjoyment of the book, but I was surprised because it almost never happens.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

LET THE PEOPLE DECIDE ABOUT MEDICAID EXPANSION

Promoting it as a health care and economic issue, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu pushed Tuesday for Louisiana voters to decide the fate of Medicaid expansion.

“The governor has clearly put his political future ahead of the future of the state of Louisiana,” said Landrieu, D-La. “Let the people decide what is fair, whether they want to expand and use over $16 billion” in federal funds.

“It’s kind of our last hope to let the people make the decision. It’s not too much to ask,” Landrieu said.
Bobby Jindal won't allow Medicaid expansion in the State of Louisiana, despite gaping holes in the state budget for health care, so will the Louisiana Legislature have the courage to let the people decide? The lawmakers who worry about any association with Obamacare can then wash their hands of responsibility and blame the expansion on the people of the state.
Landrieu said the proposition makes good economic sense. “In order to have a strong workforce, you need a healthy workforce,” she said. She said the state is rejecting $16 billion available “to strengthen the workforce.”

The Medicaid expansion also would bring 15,600 new health care-related jobs in 2016 and help sustain financially struggling rural hospitals, Landrieu said.
Governor Jindal chooses to put his personal ambitions for national office ahead of the nearly 250,000 citizens of Louisiana who need health insurance, so it's way past time for the legislators to do the job the people of the state elected them to do, for which they're paid salaries with our tax money, and let the people decide.

Louisiana has far too many laws embedded in the state constitution, but, in this instance, there is no way around Bobby Jindal's refusal to help the citizens of the state other than one more constitutional amendment.

Monday, April 14, 2014

ON NEARING MY NINTH DECADE

Even as I resist and lament
Assorted aches and pains,
Energy reduced, senses diminished,
Failing memory,

World grown smaller,
Walls closing in
As the days and hours pass
In a life nearing the ninth decade,

I remember the many
Who never grow old,
Whose lives are cut off
By untimely deaths,

And I welcome the turning
Of the decade as a gift
Not given to everyone,
And bow my head in gratitude.

(June Butler - 4/13/2014)

Sunday, April 13, 2014

NEW RECTOR FOR ST. JOHN'S AND TRINITY

At the Palm Sunday service at Trinity this Sunday morning, the senior wardens of St. John's and Trinity announced that Fr. Doug Lasiter has accepted our call to be the next rector for St. John's and Trinity.

Fr. Doug has been serving as the rector of Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Miles City, Montana, and Ascension Episcopal Church in Forsyth, Montana, so he has experience working with two congregations at the same time. Fr. Doug and his wife Robi and their teenage son and daughter are excited about moving to Louisiana and becoming part of our church communities. Robi and the children have been residing in the Houston area so that their daughter, who is a highly accomplished gymnast, can have access to the appropriate facilities and training. The Lasiters are looking forward to once again being together as a family under the same roof, and Fr. Doug is very much elated about the prospect of thawing out from the long Montana winter he's been enduring.

Fr. Doug has indicated that his starting date will probably be June 15th.
Thanks be to God, and a warm welcome to Fr Doug and his family.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

O GRACIOUS LIGHT

O Gracious Light
Phos hilaron

O gracious Light,
pure brightness of the everliving Father in heaven,
O Jesus Christ, holy and blessed!
Now as we come to the setting of the sun,
and our eyes behold the vesper light,
we sing your praises, O God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
You are worthy at all times to be praised by happy voices,
O Son of God, O Giver of life,
and to be glorified through all the worlds.

JUSTIN WELBY'S NON-EXPLANATORY EXPLANATION

Archbishop Justin Welby's non-explanatory explanation of his commentary on LBC radio in England during his visit to Canada.  See my previous post, but only if you want to know more.
Q: Were you in fact blaming the death of Christians in parts of Africa on the acceptance of gay marriage in America?

A: I was careful not to be too specific because that would pin down where that happened and that would put the community back at risk. I wouldn't use the word “blame”— that's a misuse of words in the context. One of the things that's most depressing about the response to that interview is that almost nobody listened to what I said; they mostly imagined what they thought I said...It was not only imagination, it was a million miles away from what I said.
Many of us heard and understood what Justin said, but we want to know why. If he's going to lay a certain responsibility for violence in Africa on Americans (though he won't call it blame), he needs to provide a better explanation to Americans than what he's said thus far.
Q: So what exactly were you saying?

A: What I was saying is that when we take actions in one part of the church, particularly actions that are controversial, that they are heard and felt not only in that part of the church but around the world...And, this is not mere consequentialism; I'm not saying that because there will be consequences to taking action, that we shouldn't take action. What I'm saying is that love for our neighbour, love for one another, compels us to consider carefully how that love is expressed, both in our own context and globally. We never speak the essential point that, as a church, we never speak only in our local situation. Our voice carries around the world. Now that will be more true in some places than in others. It depends on your links. We need to learn to live as a global church in a local context and never to imagine that we're just a local church. There is no such thing.
There most certainly is such a thing as the local church within the Anglican Communion. Contrary to  Justin's words, there is no such entity as a global Anglican church.  The AC is rather a fellowship of churches or provinces with roots in Anglicanism. Each church is autonomous, with its own form of governance and canons.  Though he may wish to be, the Archbishop of Canterbury is not the Anglican pope. He doesn't even speak for everyone in the Church of England, much less for other churches in the AC.

H/T to Kurt Weisner at The Lead.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY JUSTIN WELBY ON THE RADIO

CHRISTIANS are being killed in Africa as a consequence of liberal attitudes towards homosexuality in the United States and Britain, the Archbishop of Canterbury suggested on Friday.

Speaking on LBC radio about his opposition to same-sex marriage, he said: "I've stood by gravesides in Africa of a group of Christians who had been attacked because of something that had happened far, far away in America."
Good grief! I find the archbishop's words astonishing. Is Justin Welby saying that Americans with "liberal attitudes" about gay sexuality are complicit in murder?
Clarifying his comments on the mass grave, he said: "What was said was that 'If we leave a Christian community in this area' - I am quoting them - 'we will all be made to become homosexual, so we are going to kill the Christians.' The mass grave had 369 bodies in it, and I was standing with the relatives. That burns itself into your soul - as does the suffering of gay people in this country."
A deep tragedy, indeed and a sight surely never to be forgotten.  Where was the mass grave?  Do the murderers speak truthfully about the reason for the mass killing?  Is it right to take the words of murderers on the reason for the killings and, on that basis, refuse justice and equality to the LGTB members of the Church of England?
"I was in the South Sudan a few weeks ago and the church leaders there were saying: 'Please do not change what you are doing because then we could not accept your help. And we need your help desperately.' And we have to listen to that."
I have news for the archbishop: Diocese to diocese and parish to parish relationships continue between Episcopal churches and African Anglican churches, despite the rants of homophobic African bishops about the practices of the Episcopal Church.  Policies of justice and equality for LGTB Episcopalians have been implemented, even as TEC and African churches continue to work together. The ABC seems to think "bash the Americans" is good church policy. I don't know. Maybe it works for him.
"What was said was that 'If we leave a Christian community in this area' - I am quoting them - 'we will all be made to become homosexual, so we are going to kill the Christians.' The mass grave had 369 bodies in it, and I was standing with the relatives. That burns itself into your soul - as does the suffering of gay people in this country."
Why not lay the blame squarely where it belongs, on the murderers and leaders who pass and implement draconian laws that cause great suffering and even death for LGTB people in their countries?  Why  blame Americans with "liberal attitudes"?
Asked whether he could imagine a day when two people of the same sex married in the Church of England, he said: "I look at the scriptures, I look at the teaching of the Church, I listen to Christians round the world, and I have real hestitations [sic] about that. "

He added, however: "I am incredibly uncomfortable about saying that. I really don't want to say no to people who love each other, but you have to have a sense of following what the teaching of the Church is. We can't just make sudden changes."
"Sudden changes?" Where has he been for the last 20 years?

More from Archbishop Welby on the broadcast, which runs for nearly an hour.
Rev Welby’s callers included former Tory MP Ann Widdecombe, who asked him whether the Church does or does not approve of homosexuality. The Archbishop told her drily: “How unsurprised I am by that question, I can't imagine.

“I just said the Church is quite clear that sex outside marriage is wrong, and marriage has been understood as a man and woman. That seems to be a fairly clear statement.

“I'm not going to pull my punches on that. I think I'm right, you think I'm wrong. We differ.”
Where's the love in saying no to marriage or a blessing to two people of the same sex who love each other? Where's the love in saying to gay priests that they can never marry and must always remain celibate?

It seems to me that unless and until the office of Archbishop of Canterbury is separate from the office of "primus inter pares" of the Anglican Communion, LGTB members of the Church of England will continue to be held hostage without justice and equality because of homophobic attitudes of certain African bishops.

Friday, April 4, 2014

MARTIN LUTHER KING - "REMAINING AWAKE THROUGH A REVOLUTION"

Icon of MLK by Tobias Haller

From Martin Luther King's speech at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC, four days before he was assassinated 46 years ago today.
ON WAR:

Through our scientific and technological genius, we have made of this world a neighborhood and yet we have not had the ethical commitment to make of it a brotherhood. But somehow, and in some way, we have got to do this. We must all learn to live together as brothers or we will all perish together as fools. We are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality. And whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. For some strange reason I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. And you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the way God’s universe is made; this is the way it is structured.

ON RACISM:
The hour has come for everybody, for all institutions of the public sector and the private sector to work to get rid of racism. And now if we are to do it we must honestly admit certain things and get rid of certain myths that have constantly been disseminated all over our nation.

One is the myth of time. It is the notion that only time can solve the problem of racial injustice. And there are those who often sincerely say to the Negro and his allies in the white community, "Why don’t you slow up? Stop pushing things so fast. Only time can solve the problem. And if you will just be nice and patient and continue to pray, in a hundred or two hundred years the problem will work itself out."

There is an answer to that myth. It is that time is neutral. It can be used wither constructively or destructively. And I am sorry to say this morning that I am absolutely convinced that the forces of ill will in our nation, the extreme rightists of our nation—the people on the wrong side—have used time much more effectively than the forces of goodwill. And it may well be that we will have to repent in this generation. Not merely for the vitriolic words and the violent actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence and indifference of the good people who sit around and say, "Wait on time."

ON POVERTY:

There is another thing closely related to racism that I would like to mention as another challenge. We are challenged to rid our nation and the world of poverty. Like a monstrous octopus, poverty spreads its nagging, prehensile tentacles into hamlets and villages all over our world. Two-thirds of the people of the world go to bed hungry tonight. They are ill-housed; they are ill-nourished; they are shabbily clad. I’ve seen it in Latin America; I’ve seen it in Africa; I’ve seen this poverty in Asia. 
....

Not only do we see poverty abroad, I would remind you that in our own nation there are about forty million people who are poverty-stricken. I have seen them here and there. I have seen them in the ghettos of the North; I have seen them in the rural areas of the South; I have seen them in Appalachia. I have just been in the process of touring many areas of our country and I must confess that in some situations I have literally found myself crying.
....

And this can happen to America, the richest nation in the world—and nothing’s wrong with that—this is America’s opportunity to help bridge the gulf between the haves and the have-nots. The question is whether America will do it. There is nothing new about poverty. What is new is that we now have the techniques and the resources to get rid of poverty. The real question is whether we have the will.

In a few weeks some of us are coming to Washington to see if the will is still alive or if it is alive in this nation. We are coming to Washington in a Poor People’s Campaign. Yes, we are going to bring the tired, the poor, the huddled masses. We are going to bring those who have known long years of hurt and neglect. We are going to bring those who have come to feel that life is a long and desolate corridor with no exit signs. We are going to bring children and adults and old people, people who have never seen a doctor or a dentist in their lives.
....

Let me close by saying that we have difficult days ahead in the struggle for justice and peace, but I will not yield to a politic of despair. I’m going to maintain hope as we come to Washington in this campaign. The cards are stacked against us. This time we will really confront a Goliath. God grant that we will be that David of truth set out against the Goliath of injustice, the Goliath of neglect, the Goliath of refusing to deal with the problems, and go on with the determination to make America the truly great America that it is called to be.
Amen.

Icon by Tobias Haller.

Text of the speech from Stanford University.