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.


Almighty God, giver of every good gift: Look graciously on your Church, and so guide the minds of those who shall choose a presiding bishop for this church, that we may receive a faithful pastor, who will care for your people and equip us for our ministries; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Friday, June 26, 2015


The film, directed by Steven Knight, is gripping, harrowing, and claustrophobic. Nearly the entire movie is filmed inside a moving car with with one character, Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy), a foreman in the concrete business, talking on the phone with various voices on the other end of the phone. Ivan is on his way to London from the hinterlands at night, in the dark, under great stress. The moving car lights on the road and road lights whizzing by are dazzling, dizzying, and blinding, all of which make for a dangerous ride and sustained suspense for the viewer. Will Ivan make it to London in one piece?

Locke has a cold; he coughs and constantly wipes his dripping nose throughout the film. The viewer sees Ivan's face, arms and hands, surrounded by darkness and never gets a look at the rest of him.

One bad thing after another happens to Ivan all along the way, but we hear about them only through the phone conversations. As Ivan's life begins to fall apart, in a sort of crazed desperation, he talks to his dead bastard of a father about how well he's handling all the problems. At one point, he says, "The Lockes were a long line of shit, but I straightened them out." And yet, and yet, even as he's near the edge, Ivan maintains enough control and sanity to deal with the problems as best he can, with very mixed results.

Hardy as Ivan is superb; words fail to adequately praise his performance. As noted above in the conversations with his dead father, gallows humor (unintended by Ivan) runs throughout the course of the film. I think especially of Ivan's attempts to calm the women on the other end of the phone by repeating, "You're distressed", and to calm those around the women with, "She's distressed". Another instance is when Ivan responds to one of the voices wanting reassurance that everything will work out, "Absolutely!...hopefully" The actors doing the voices on are terrific, too, especially Andrew Scott as Donal, Ivan's assistant on the job.

After watching the movie once, I decided to see it again before I sent the DVD back to Netflix, and I watched once more the following evening. Indeed, I had missed parts of the dialogue that I picked up on the second viewing, so it was a good thing I saw the film again. Not quite so harrowing the second time around, but nonetheless quite enjoyable.

Friday, June 19, 2015


Are we now seeing the beginning of the breakdown of civil society in the United States?

Have we ever had a civil society in the US?

Is there greater violence now, or were we always a violent nation?

When is a massacre by a white person a terrorist act, an existential threat that we must fight with all our might?

When will we give attention to the phrase "a well-regulated militia" in the Second Amendment and seriously discuss the meaning of the words? Or does the phrase signify nothing whatsoever?

Not that I expect answers, but I do believe we need to start talking about these matters.

Though I know them to be true, I was saddened by President Obama's words.
We don’t have all the facts, but we do know that, once again, innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun.

Now is the time for mourning and for healing. But let’s be clear:

At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries. It doesn’t happen in other places with this kind of frequency. And it is in our power to do something about it.
It is in our power to do something, but we will talk about the shootings for a while, and then we will do nothing.

The president said further:
The fact that this took place in a black church obviously also raises questions about a dark part of our history. This is not the first time that black churches have been attacked. And we know that hatred across races and faiths pose a particular threat to our democracy and our ideals.
The dark part of our history goes back to the beginning, with the Founding Fathers acceptance of the institution of slavery for the sake of unity.


Dear God, may all those who died in the massacre at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, rest in peace and rise in glory. May God give comfort, consolation, and peace to all who love them.
A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 36:26)
Oh God, let it be.

The names of those who were killed:

Rev. Clementa Pinckney, 41
Ethel Lance, 70
Susie Jackson, 87
Tywanza Sanders, 26
Cynthia Hurd, 54
Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton,45
DePayne Middleton-Doctor, 49
Myra Thompson, 59
Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr., 74

Wednesday, June 17, 2015


The other evening, I watched the film Calvary written and directed by John Michael McDonagh, starring Brendan Gleeson, as Fr James, a good Roman Catholic priest serving in a small church in the north of Ireland. Gleeson's performance is riveting, comparable to Mark Rylance's work in Wolf Hall. In Wolf Hall, it was Rylance's eyebrows and silences that so often communicated without words.  Gleeson, who is a large bear of a man, appears in nearly every scene in the film, and his rough, mobile facial features speak volumes without words.

McDonagh's script doesn't flinch as it takes us through the via dolorosa, which is Fr James' everyday life and most surely tests his faith to its limits. The good priest has the heart of a pastor and goes about his parish work shouldering the burden, as many priests do, of the aftermath of the child abuse scandal.   A dark comic thread runs through the movie but does little to relieve the sadness and gloomy portent that pervade the film.  Though I was completely caught up in the story throughout the course of the film, I found it difficult and disturbing to watch, but, at the same time, it was impossible for me to turn away. Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal came to mind.

The movie was filmed in and around County Sligo in the north of Ireland.  Though the beach scene settings and recurring views of the impressive Benbulbin rock formation are picturesque, I could not help but think of the town and the surroundings as relentlessly godforsaken places.

Writing about Calvary was probably the most difficult review of any I've ever done, because I admire the film greatly, and I wanted to get the words right.  Gleeson is magnificent in his role, and, though he dominates the film, the supporting cast of characters are intriguing and talented enough to hold their own.  In his script and direction, McDonagh resists any temptation to cater to the audience or take the easy way out in tackling difficult and controversial subjects in this splendid and powerful film.