Wednesday, July 29, 2015


An Invitation - Marthe G. Walsh
a villanelle call to prayer

Let us talk with God, oh near friend of a friend,
Surrender, together, in love to this clear divine recognition:
Our voices, our choices, by One were given, with intent to attend.

If a silent response we were meant to send,
The Creator would have made us all mute, unable to petition.
Oh let us talk with God, near friend of a friend.

Sing with adorations, with errors contend,
Patience, praise, doubt, fear, idle tears, our Lord hears without condition.
Our voices, our choices, by One were given, with intent to attend.

In offering ourselves, on knees meant to bend,
We show that we know the need to mend, and just Who can grant remission.
Let us talk with God, near friend of a friend.

In this conversation we need not pretend,
Or try to amend, ask for another, seek peace in devotion,
Our voices, our choices by One were given, with intent to attend.

With you, with all, with God, is the point in the end,
To be in relation, in response full of meaning, with a mission.
Let us talk with God, near friend of a friend.
Our voices, our choices by One were given, with intent to attend.
The poem is from Marthe's collection, Heretic for a Loving God, and is used with permission.

Sunday, July 19, 2015


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.

(Prayer in the Early Evening - Book of Common Prayer)

Phos Hilaron (Φῶς Ἱλαρόν) is an ancient Christian hymn originally written in New Testament Greek. Often referred to by its Latin title Lumen Hilare it has been translated into English as O Gladsome Light. It is the earliest known Christian hymn recorded outside of the Bible that is still in use today. The hymn is part of vespers in the Eastern Orthodox Church, and also included in some modern Anglican and Lutheran liturgies.
The picture, taken with my phone camera last evening, is of a slender sliver of a waxing crescent moon and the planet Venus.  My hand is not steady enough to capture the true appearance of the sliver of moon as it really looked, but, along with the color of the clouds in the fading light, it was a magnificent sight.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015


Love Is Strange, directed by Ira Sachs, is a wonderfully tender, bittersweet, and gently humorous love story with very fine acting by all the performers, especially the two principals, John Lithgow, as Ben, and Alfred Molina, as George, two Manhattanites of a certain age who have been together nearly 40 years and are finally able to marry.  Unfortunately, smooth, wedded bliss does not follow as George is fired from his job teaching music in a Roman Catholic school. 

The school authorities knew George was gay and partnered and looked the other way, but his marriage is a whole other matter and costs him his job. Ben is retired, and, with their income reduced to Ben's pension and payments from George's private pupils, the two are forced to sell their apartment and live apart until they find a place they can afford. 

Ben moves in with his nephew, Elliot (Darren Burrows), wife, Kate (Marisa Tomei), and teenage son, Joey (Charlie Tahan), who live in a smallish apartment, where he shares a room and bunk beds with Joey.  George stays in the apartment of his two partying policemen friends, where he sleeps on the sofa, which is difficult when there's often a party going on. 

The two men give perfect performances as long-time lovers who remain quite fond of one another, despite the petty annoyances common to all relationships.  There's no sex in the film, but the actors show affection for one another in what is perhaps the most believable way I have ever seen in a movie.  Marisa Tomei is outstanding as Kate. The film is understated, and the facial expressions and body language of the actors speak as eloquently as words.

Of the three outstanding and memorable movies I've seen recently, I'm sad to say not one was a big money maker at the box office.  I hope the earnings from rentals and streaming are sufficient to encourage the producers and directors to continue with such quality productions.  The other films are Calvary, with Brendan Gleeson, and Locke, with Tom Hardy, which I posted about earlier.

Monday, July 13, 2015


Last night I watched three hours of soap opera on my local public television station. Not everyone will agree with my description of all three as soaps, and the quality among the three most certainly varies. First up was Last Tango in Halifax, with a magnificent cast of fine actors. The episode last evening was eventful, to say the least, and ended with a Perils of Pauline cliffhanger, which I will not spoil. I adore watching the performances of the actors, especially Derek Jacobi's Alan and Anne Reid's Celia. I admire more and more with each episode Nicola Walker's performance as Gillian, Alan's daughter. Sarah Lancashire as Celia's daughter, Caroline, the Ice Queen, is very good, too. The entire cast is superior, and none of the actors strike a false note, so I continue to delight in watching the performances, even as I sometimes roll my eyes at the twists and turns in the plot.

Then on to the new Poldark series, with Aidan Turner as the smoldering, shirtless Poldark, which I admit has improved over the first episode, which was quite disappointing. Poldark smolders less since he married his kitchen maid, Demelza, played by the lovely, flame-haired Eleanor Tomlinson, but he must be shirtless when he democratically shares in the mine digging with his workers. At least one mine owner does what a mine owner's got to do in hard times, and Poldark is not above hard physical work when it's warranted.

The last soap opera series, The Crimson Field, which becomes soapier with each episode, tries my patience, but I will probably continue watching just to see how the story turns out. There will be no second season for the series.

Thursday, July 9, 2015


The Imitation Game was last week's movie. I have the least expensive Netflix subscription, so I receive only one DVD at a time and average about one movie a week.  Since I can watch only one movie at a time, the inexpensive option works well.  I assume most of you know something of the story of Alan Turing, thus I am not concerned about writing a spoiler review.  During World War II, Alan Turing, a brilliant Cambridge mathematician, worked at Bletchley Park Code and Cypher School in England where the supposedly unbreakable Enigma code used by the German military was, in fact, broken, thus shortening the war by a number of years and saving a large number of lives.  Turing also formalized "the concepts of algorithm and computation with the Turing machine", a hypothetical device that is the father of the computer as we know it today.

While I enjoyed the film, I had the sense throughout that the story was in some way forced, that the director, Morten Tyldum, and script writer, Graham Moore, were trying too hard in a way that seemed fairly obvious to me.  However, since I knew only the bare bones of Turing's story, that he was a mathematical and cryptological genius, that he helped break Enigma, the German military code, while working at Bletchley Park during World War II, and that he was gay, I couldn't be sure of the how and why of the apparent strain.  After watching, I did a bit of online research and learned that the story, as told in the movie, took great liberties with the facts of Turing's life, such as they are known.  Though I agree it's quite common and sometimes works well when films take liberties for the sake of a more interesting story line, it seems to me that the movie would have been more entertaining if the director and writer had not portrayed Turing as two-dimensional, an awkward, anti-social, nerdy, gay genius and martyr to an ungrateful, homophobic nation, and rather fleshed him out as a complex and more rounded human being.

In 1952, Turing was charged with "gross indecency" for committing homosexual acts to which he confessed after he was arrested. To avoid prison, he was forced to undergo a year of chemical castration therapy.   In 1956, a little over a year after the hormone therapy had ended, Turing committed suicide.  Laws against same sex relationships were on the books in England until 1967 (and much later in some states in the US).  Though I do not minimize the cruel consequences of the laws for gay men, I wish the movie had been truer to the story of Turing, the man, who made no great effort to hide his sexual orientation from those who knew him and worked with him.  Also, according to biographer Jack Copeland, though he was indeed introverted and eccentric, "Once you got to know him Turing was fun — cheerful, lively, stimulating, comic, brimming with boyish enthusiasm."   Copeland also questioned the suicide verdict of the inquest.

If Turing is portrayed as two-dimensional in the movie, the supporting characters are one-dimensional, and that's not to demean the performances of Benedict Cumberbatch, as Turing, and the other actors, whose skillful efforts succeeded in holding my interest throughout the film by doing their best with poor material.

What the movie accomplished was to motivate me to learn more about Turing, which I've done by searching for material online and giving Jack Copeland's book, Turing: Pioneer of the Information Age, a place on my reading wishlist.

Saturday, July 4, 2015



Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand

A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Emma Lazarus

UPDATE: Accompaniment to the picture and poem.

Friday, July 3, 2015


Thanks to Doug for his very wise words which helped me articulate my thoughts about tomorrow, our national holiday, in which we celebrate the birth of the United States of America. The original sin of our birth as a nation is grave, indeed, and soils all that followed, with serious consequences still felt today. The US is my country, because I choose to live here, rather than somewhere else, but I am no fervent, flag-waving patriot, because I see the good, the bad, and the ugly in our history. (As a matter of fact, flag worship is repulsive rather than inspiring to me.) I prefer to honor the inspirational words in the Declaration of Independence and the Preamble to the US Constitution, which did not speak the whole truth at the time they were written, and are not yet wholly true to this day. I will continue to do my duty as a citizen, as I see it, because it is my responsibility to do so in my country of choice, with only a remote hope that the splendid ideals spelled out in the founding documents will one day be realized.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015


The House of Deputies concurs with the House of Bishops on Resolutions A054 and A036 that provide for marriage equality. Thanks be to God and to the bishops and deputies at General Convention. May God bless the Episcopal Church.

Saturday, June 27, 2015


Michael Curry, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina, is the 27th Presiding Bishop-elect of the Episcopal Church. He was chosen on the first ballot.


Almighty and everliving God, source of all wisdom and understanding, be present with those who take counsel at the 78th General Convention for the renewal and mission of your Church. Teach us in all things to seek first your honor and glory. Guide us to perceive what is right, and grant us both the courage to pursue it and the grace to accomplish it; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.