Monday, May 31, 2010


Note: The picture and parts of the post are taken from my Memorial Day tribute last year, and the year before, and the year before, with the numbers of dead in the US military for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan changed. As of today the number of the fallen from the Iraq War stands at 4400 and the number in Afghanistan at 1087. Last year, the numbers were 4300 for the Iraq War and 687 in Afghanistan. When will it all end? When will the bodies stop coming?

The picture moves me greatly. Some years ago, a video surfaced showing the deeply respectful manner in which the caskets were transported to and loaded upon the planes headed for Dover Air Force Base, but it soon disappeared due to directives from the Bush maladministration, for "security reasons" and "respect for the fallen and their families". I don't recall that names were visible anywhere, and I'd think that many families and friends of the fallen would have cherished the portrayal of the loving respect with which the brothers and sisters in arms treated the remains of their loved ones. But it was not to be.

President Obama lifted the ban on media coverage of the remains of the fallen arriving at Dover, so long as the families don't object, which is exactly how it should be. The families' desire for privacy must always be respected.

Memorial Day is a day of remembrance of those in all our wars who gave everything in the service of their country. We honor them for their courage and dedication to duty. We extend our sympathy to their families and friends, whether the loss is recent or from long times past. We stand with you. We mourn with you.

Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the house of the God of Jacob;
that he may teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths.’
For out of Zion shall go forth instruction,
and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between many peoples,
and shall arbitrate between strong nations far away;
they shall beat their swords into ploughshares,
and their spears into pruning-hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more;
but they shall all sit under their own vines and under their own fig trees,
and no one shall make them afraid;
for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken.
Micah 4:1-4

Lord God, Almighty and Everlasting Father, we pray for all those who have died in wars. We pray the they may rest in peace in the perpetual light of your love. We pray for your blessing upon the families and friends of all those who have died in service to their country. Console them for their aching loss. Bring them healing of body, mind, and spirit. Give them strength and courage to go forward, and Lord God, above all else, give them your peace that passes understanding to keep their minds and hearts.

UPDATE: Below is the faded bumper sticker that I put on my car in 2003 after the start of the war in Iraq. Originally, the top letters were bright yellow, and the bottom letters were bright blue and red.

The war in Afghanistan began in 2001. The military are suffering more losses now in Afghanistan than in Iraq. So far as I know, President Obama is following the time table for withdrawing troops from Iraq. I pray that he focuses on getting our troops out of Afghanistan. Nine years is enough.




Thanks to Lapin for the cartoon.


From The Lead.

About halfway through weighing some of the issues that I’ve written about here before, I had a sudden realization: reflecting on Rowan Williams’ letter wasn’t a worthwhile use of my time; writing it was not a worthwhile use of his. The issues at stake have become so trivial—We are not debating right and wrong, we are debating whether there should be trifling penalties for giving offense to other members of the Communion.—that to engage them at all compromises our moral standing and diminishes our ability to speak credibly on issues of real importance.

Amen. The time I spent parsing the Archbishop of Canterbury's letter could have been better spent.


From Ann Fontaine about her brother Steve, whom we prayed for last Friday:

My brother died this am
Thanks for the prayers
It was quick and pain free physically

May Steve rest in peace and rise in glory.

Receive, O Lord, your servant, for he returns to you.
Into your hands, O Lord, we commend our brother Steve.

Wash him in the holy font of everlasting life, and clothe him in his heavenly wedding garment.
Into your hands, O Lord, we commend our brother Steve.

May he hear your words of invitation, “Come, you blessed of my Father.”
Into your hands, O Lord, we commend our brother Steve.

May he gaze upon you, Lord, face to face, and taste the blessedness of perfect rest.
Into your hands, O Lord, we commend our brother Steve.

May angels surround him, and saints welcome him in peace.
Into your hands, O Lord, we commend our brother Steve.

For all who love Steve:

Let us also pray for all who mourn, that they may cast their care on God, and know the consolation of his love.

Almighty God, look with pity upon the sorrows of your servants for whom we pray. Remember them, Lord, in your mercy; nourish them with patience; comfort them with a sense of your goodness; lift up your countenance upon them; and give them peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

(Book of Common Prayer, pp. 465-467)


Yobey Benjamin at SFGate writes an excellent post on what the next steps should be now that the BP's attempt at a top kill has failed to stop the oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico. Since the flow of oil may continue until August, when the relief well operation begins, (if all goes well!) shouldn't increased efforts be directed to mitigation and containment of the oil?

What about the toxic dispersants? Are they of any use, but to hide the amount of oil in the Gulf?


Corexit is illegal in the United Kingdom. As I wrote in an earlier post, if there is a similar problem in the UK's North Sea, BP would not be allowed to use Corexit.

The dispersant Corexit and even the "less toxic" alternative Sea Brat are both highly toxic to marine life. Yes the ocean will look better on the surface but it does not solve the problem.

There is no good reason to use dispersants because all it does is hide the oil from the surface. Are our seas and marine life not as important as the UK's North Sea and their marine life?


The real solution seem to be "coagulants" so that congealed oil could be mechanically collected from the water surface. In the Saudi Aramco disaster, Nick Pozzi reported they successfully used flour (yes, flour for baking) and straw (yes, the one you feed to livestock) to absorb oil. The congealed oil was then mechanically collected and properly disposed of.

Sucking congealed oil floating on top of the water is easier than shoveling oil out of beach sand. In the marsh, corral reefs or Everglades it is nearly IMPOSSIBLE to extract oil.


In 1993, a massive 800 million gallon oil spill happened in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Aramco successfully cleaned up that spill. The lead engineer that cleaned that spill was an American engineer who worked for Aramco. His name is Nick Pozzi and is based currently based in Houston. Apparently Pozzi offered his solution to BP and Coast Guard and they promptly dismissed his solution.

Was it too expensive?

It's a lot simpler to understand than the top kill. It simply requires oil tankers equipped with giant vacuums (think a massive wet/dry shop vac) to suck the oil and water into oil tankers. Using a centrifuge, the tankers have the capability to separate the oil and water. The water is filtered and sent back to the ocean. The oil is recovered and processed as usual.

The method has been validated by John Hofmeister, former CEO of Shell Oil. So why are we not trying it? Nobody seems to know.

How about it, White House? The author's suggestions make a lot more sense to me than any I hear from BP. BP tried the top hat, the top kill, spoke of using the junk shot, and will next attempt to cap the well with a containment valve, which is not guaranteed to work. What are the chances that it won't? If past attempts are any indication....

Read Benjamin's entire post. Lots of good stuff there.

Sunday, May 30, 2010


When people asked how old she was,
she would say 1009365, more or less,
because she was so glad to be alive that
she counted every day a birthday.

She had some disagreement from her
knees about the actual figures though.

This one is mine, folks, written for me.

From StoryPeople


From The Huffington Post:

BP PLC Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles said the company determined the "top kill" had failed after it spent three days pumping heavy drilling mud into the crippled well 5,000 feet underwater. More than 1.2 million gallons of mud was used, but most of it escaped out of the damaged riser.

But BP has another plan.

Suttles said BP is already preparing for the next attempt to stop the leak that began after the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded in April, killing 11 people.

The company plans to use robot submarines to cut off the damaged riser from which the oil is leaking, and then try to cap it with a containment valve. The effort is expected to take between four and seven days.

"We're confident the job will work but obviously we can't guarantee success," Suttles said of the new plan, declining to handicap the likelihood it will work.

He said that cutting off the damaged riser isn't expected to cause the flow rate of leaking oil to increase significantly.

Confidence, but no guarantee of success. If BP guaranteed that their next plan would work, would you believe them? What if the next plan doesn't work? Why do I doubt that the next plan will work? If the powers at BP are confident that the next plan will work, why didn't they try to cap the well with a containment valve, before they tried the top kill?

The relief well won't be operational until August.

Saturday, May 29, 2010


Mark Harris at Preludium posted the entire text of Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams' Pentecost letter.

What to make of the Pentecost letter? The missive is not Good News for one member of the Episcopal Church, namely moi.

The ABC recently hosted an annual seminar The Building Bridges Seminar, at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. The seminar "is a unique annual series which brings together a range of internationally recognized Christian and Muslim scholars for intensive study."

The Archbishop seems to put forth a good deal more effort to build bridges with Christians of other denominations and with Muslims than he does with the Episcopal Church in the US, a member church of the Anglican Communion of which he is primus inter pares. Did he speak one word to or even lay eyes on an Episcopalian while he was in the US?

Back to the letter.

When the Church is living by the Spirit, what the world will see is a community of people who joyfully and gratefully hear the prayer of Jesus being offered in each other’s words and lives, and are able to recognise the one Christ working through human diversity.

The Archbishop wants diversity, but not too much diversity, at least with respect to to Holy Orders and our GLTB brothers and sisters having access to all orders of ministry, should they be in faithful, partnered relationships and out of the closet.

And if the Church is a community where we serve each other in the name of Christ, it is a community where we can and should call each other to repentance in the name of Christ and his Spirit – not to make the other feel inferior (because we all need to be called to repentance) but to remind them of the glory of Christ’s gift and the promise that we lose sight of when we fail in our common life as a Church.

I'll say it plainly. I call the ABC to repentance for straining the bonds of affection by what I can only call his contemptuous attitude towards the Episcopal Church. Any of you who have read the entire letter, feel free to call me to account for my use of the word "contemptuous". I emphasize that I don't mean to make the archbishop feel inferior.

In several places, not only in North America, Anglicans have not hesitated to involve the law courts in settling disputes, often at great expense and at the cost of the Church’s good name.

The English tell me that the property laws are clearer for Church of England property than for the property of the Episcopal Church in the US, but I believe the laws are pretty clear here, despite the fact that certain people choose to test them. However, what if a breakaway group from the Church of England occupied a church and would not leave? Would the authorities in the Church of England simply turn the property over to the group if negotiations failed to get them to leave, or would they call the police to evict the group? I suppose the expense would be all on the part of the police, but nevertheless, there's the good name of the church to consider.

It is significant that there are still very many in The Episcopal Church, bishops, clergy and faithful, who want to be aligned with the Communion’s general commitments and directions, such as those who identify as ‘Communion Partners’, who disagree strongly with recent decisions, yet want to remain in visible fellowship within TEC so far as they can.

It is significant that ABC gives the Communion Partner bishops a nice pat on the back - the very bishops whom I see standing with one foot in and one foot out of TEC, the very bishops who would not surprise me if they decided to bolt from TEC.

A time of transition, by definition, does not allow quick solutions to such questions, and it is a time when, ideally, we need more than ever to stay in conversation. As I have said many times before, whatever happens to our structures, we still need to preserve both working relationships and places for exchange and discussion. New vehicles for conversations across these boundaries are being developed with much energy.

So. We must remain in conversation, despite our differences.

And when a province through its formal decision-making bodies or its House of Bishops as a body declines to accept requests or advice from the consultative organs of the Communion, it is very hard (as noted in my letter to the Communion last year after the General Convention of TEC) to see how members of that province can be placed in positions where they are required to represent the Communion as a whole.

Does the Archbishop of Canterbury see himself as representing the Communion as a whole? He has no basis for making such a claim. His views on certain matters do not represent my views. The thought that one province or one person can represent or misrepresent the Communion as a whole is absurd.

I am therefore proposing that, while these tensions remain unresolved, members of such provinces – provinces that have formally, through their Synod or House of Bishops, adopted policies that breach any of the moratoria requested by the Instruments of Communion and recently reaffirmed by the Standing Committee and the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order (IASCUFO) – should not be participants in the ecumenical dialogues in which the Communion is formally engaged. I am further proposing that members of such provinces serving on IASCUFO should for the time being have the status only of consultants rather than full members. This is simply to confirm what the Communion as a whole has come to regard as the acceptable limits of diversity in its practice

Wait! The ABC said previously that we should stay in conversation, despite our disagreements. But then he says not this ecumenical conversation, because we don't represent the mind of the Communion. Which he does?

At this point, I'm ready to bang my head against the keyboard. I didn't finish parsing all the parts of the letter that I'd have wished to, because I became tired and stopped.

For more brilliant and learned commentary see Mark Harris, Fr. Jake, Andrew Gerns at The Lead, and last, but not least, Caminante.


From the BBC:

A gay couple jailed in Malawi after getting engaged have been pardoned by President Bingu wa Mutharika.

Mr Mutharika, speaking as UN chief Ban Ki-moon visited his country, said he had ordered their immediate release.

Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga were given 14-year jail terms earlier this month after being convicted of gross indecency and unnatural acts.

The case has sparked international condemnation and a debate about homosexuality in the country.

Mr Ban hailed the president's decision as "courageous".

"This outdated penal code should be reformed wherever it may exist," he said.

The BBC's Karen Allen, in Lilongwe, says Mr Ban is trying to put pressure on parliamentarians to reform anti-homosexuality laws that date back to colonial times.

Thanks be to God! And it's about time to reform the laws that date back to colonial times.

Thanks to Ann for the link.


From McClatchy:

Federal regulators complained in a scathing internal memo about "significant deficiencies" in BP's handling of the safety of oil spill workers and asked the Coast Guard to help pressure the company to address a litany of concerns.

The memo, written by a Labor Department official earlier this week and obtained by McClatchy, reveals the Obama administration's growing concerns about potential health and safety problems posed by the oil spill and its inability to force BP to respond to them.

David Michaels, the assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health who wrote the memo, raised the concerns on Tuesday, the day before seven oil spill workers on boats off the coast of Louisiana were hospitalized after they experienced nausea, dizziness and headaches.

Late Friday, the disaster response team sent four more workers to the hospital by helicopter, including two with chest pains.

Graham MacEwen, a spokesman for BP, maintained that his company is being responsive to any problems as they develop.

"We consider safety a number one priority," he said. "We will continue to try to improve our safety record."

Yes, and I have this bridge....

From the AP:

At nearly every step since the Deepwater Horizon exploded more than a month ago, causing the worst oil spill in U.S. history, rig operator BP PLC has downplayed the severity of the catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico.

On almost every issue — the amount of gushing oil, the environmental impact, even how to stop the leak — BP's statements have proven wrong. The erosion of the company's credibility may prove as difficult to stop as the oil spewing from the sea floor.

"They keep making one mistake after another. That gives the impression that they're hiding things," said U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat who has been critical of BP's reluctance to publicly release videos of the underwater gusher. "These guys either do not have any sense of accountability to the public or they are Neanderthals when it comes to public relations."

Nothing new here really. As I've already said, the president, the federal and state agencies, and all the rest of us should verify every statement by anyone associated with BP before we believe a word of it.


Philippe Cousteau, the grandson of French explorer and ecologist Jacques-Yves Cousteau, to Bill Maher:

The Florida Keys, third longest barrier reef in the world, is a dead zone. Ninety percent of the big fish, the tuna, the sharks, and other things, are already gone in the oceans. There's a dead zone in the Gulf Of Mexico every summer the size of New Jersey, where there's not enough oxygen for things to live. So it's not a question of 'Can the oceans take any more?' The oceans can't take any more. They couldn't take any more fifty years ago. The question is, when are we going to stop?

From the The Huffington Post:


Because I feel silly, sad, addled, tired, a jumbled mixture of emotions, I take you back to 1958 to the Chordettes singing a good jitterbug song. A lively jitterbug session would shake all that stuff right outta my head.

And there's Andy Williams doing the "pop".


He told me about Jesus & Arizona & the
best way to make beer & I said you're a
funny kind of preacher & he said it's a
funny kind of world & I still remember
his eyes clear as a desert morning.

From StoryPeople.

Friday, May 28, 2010


From Yahoo News:

Perhaps you saw news footage of President Obama in Grand Isle, La., on Friday and thought things didn't look all that bad. Well, there may have been a reason for that: The town was evidently swarmed by an army of temp workers to spruce it up for the president and the national news crews following him.

Jefferson Parish Councilman Chris Roberts, whose district encompasses Grand Isle, told Yahoo! News that BP bused in "hundreds" of temporary workers to clean up local beaches. And as soon as the president was en route back to Washington, the workers were clearing out of Grand Isle too, Roberts said.

"The level of cleanup and cooperation we've gotten from BP in the past is in no way consistent to the effort shown on the island today," Roberts said by telephone. "As soon as the president left, they were immediately put back on the buses and sent home."

So much for BP putting forth its best efforts in the clean-up.

H/T to The Huffington Post.


Ann Fontaine informed me that her brother, Steve, for whom we prayed several days ago for a illness in his lungs, has been diagnosed with lung cancer, adenocarcinoma to be specific, with a prognosis of only six months or so.

Please pray for Steve, his wife and children, and all the family, including our friend, Ann.

Heavenly Father, giver of life and health: Comfort and relieve your sick servant Steve, and give your power of healing to those who minister to his needs, that he may be strengthened in his weakness and have confidence in your loving care; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
(Book of Common Prayer, p. 459)


God to enfold him,
God to surround him,
God in his speaking,
God in his thinking.

God in his sleeping,
God in his waking,
God in his watching,
God in his hoping.

God in his life,
God in his lips,
God in his soul,
God in his heart.

God in his sufficing,
God in his slumber,
God in his ever-living soul,
God in his eternity.

From the Carmina Gadelica. (Edit.)

Thursday, May 27, 2010




From this:


My daughter at the age of one year. The portrait was originally beautiful and colorful, but it faded and yellowed over the years. I brought the picture home with me last time I visited my daughter, and today, with my quite limited photo-shopping program, I fiddled and fixed and came up with what I think is an improvement, but, by no means, is the result as good as was the original. I printed the copy on picture-quality paper and put the copy in the frame which held the original. The yellowed, faded version should be put away in a dark place to insure that it doesn't fade further.


An English professor wrote the words: "A woman without her man is nothing" on the chalkboard and asked his students to punctuate it correctly.

All of the males in the class wrote: "A woman, without her man, is nothing."

All the females in the class wrote: "A woman: without her, man is nothing."

Punctuation is powerful.

Don't blame me. Blame Lisa.


A young heron sits dying amidst oil splattering underneath mangrove on an island impacted by oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in Barataria Bay, just inside the the coast of Lousiana, Sunday, May 23.

The original peoples of the North American continent understand that we are all connected, and that harm to one part of the sacred circle of life harms the whole. Scientists, both the ecological and physical sorts, know the same reality, expressed in different terms. The Abrahamic traditions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) also charge human beings with care for the whole of creation, because it is God's good gift to humanity. Another way of saying this is that we are all connected and there is no escape; our common future depends on how we care for the rest of the natural world, not just the square feet of soil we may call "our own." We breathe the same air, our food comes from the same ground and seas, and the water we have to share cycles through the same airshed, watershed, and terra firma.

The still-unfolding disaster in the Gulf of Mexico is good evidence of the interconnectedness of the whole. It has its origins in this nation's addiction to oil, uninhibited growth, and consumerism, as well as old-fashioned greed and what my tradition calls hubris and idolatry. Our collective sins are being visited on those who have had little or no part in them: birds, marine mammals, the tiny plants and animals that constitute the base of the vast food chain in the Gulf, and on which a major part of the seafood production of the United States depends. Our sins are being visited on the fishers of southern Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida, who seek to feed their families with the proceeds of what they catch each day. Our sins will expose New Orleans and other coastal cities to the increased likelihood of devastating floods, as the marshes that constitute the shrinking margin of storm protection continue to disappear, fouled and killed by oil.

The oil that continues to vent from the sea floor has spread through hundreds of cubic miles of ocean, poisoning creatures of all sizes and forms, from birds, turtles, and whales to the shrimp, fish, oysters, and crabs that human beings so value, and the plankton, whose life supports the whole biological system -- the very kind of creatures whose dead and decomposed tissues began the process of producing that oil so many millions of years ago.

We know, at least intellectually, that that oil is a limited resource, yet we continue to extract and use it at increasing rates and with apparently decreasing care. The great scandal of this disaster is the one related to all kinds of "commons," resources held by the whole community. Like tropical forests in Madagascar and Brazil, and the gold and silver deposits of the American West, "commons" have in human history too often been greedily exploited by a few, with the aftermath left for others to deal with, or suffer with.

Yet the reality is that this disaster just may show us as a nation how interconnected we really are. The waste of this oil -- both its unusability and the mess it is making -- will be visited on all of us, for years and even generations to come. The hydrocarbons in those coastal marshes and at the base of the food chain leading to marketable seafood resources will taint us all, eventually. That oil is already frightening away vacationers who form the economic base for countless coastal communities, whose livelihoods have something to do with the economic health of this nation. The workers in those communities, even when they have employment, are some of the poorest among us. That oil will move beyond the immediate environs of a broken wellhead, spreading around the coasts of Florida and northward along the east coast of the U.S. That oil will foul the coastal marshes that also constitute a major nursery for coastal fauna, again a vital part of the food chain. That oil will further stress and poison the coral reefs of Florida, already much endangered from warming and ocean acidification. Those reefs have historically provided significant storm protection to the coastal communities behind them.

The dispersants that are being so wantonly deployed will have consequences we're not yet cognizant of, and the experience of gold and silver mining in the West is instructive. The methods used in those old mining operations liberated plenty of arsenic, mercury, other heavy metals, left cyanide and acids, all of which have significant health effects on those who live in the immediate area of mines and tailings, as well as those who use water downstream and breathe downwind air.

There is no place to go "away" from these consequences; there is no ultimate escape on this planet. The effects at a distance may seem minor or tolerable, but the cumulative effect is not. We are all connected, we will all suffer the consequences of this tragic disaster in the Gulf, and we must wake up and put a stop to the kind of robber baron behavior we supposedly regulated out of existence a hundred years ago. Our lives, and the liveliness of the entire planet, depend on it.

And they all said, "Amen!"

Image from MSNBC.

Thanks to AmyJ for the link to the essay at The Huffington Post.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


May 21, 2010, New Orleans, LA - The Gulf Relief Foundation announced Today that last Sunday's Gulf Aid Benefit Concert raised $300,088.65 The Foundation will be distributing the funds in the coming weeks.

"This was truly an 8-day wonder," said David Freedman, General Manager of WWOZ and a member of the board of the Gulf Relief Foundation. "The Foundation's first distribution will be to the fishing community most impacted by the shutdown of activity in St. Bernard and Plaquemines Parishes.

Consulting with the United Commercial Fishermen's Association, the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board and the United Way, Gulf Relief Foundation officials will be traveling to the area next week to talk to people on the ground about their needs. In the following two weeks, working with Tulane School of Social Work we'll begin triage activities, followed by case management and financial support," Freedman said.

"Last Sunday's Gulf Aid benefit concert is just the first in a series of food and music events planned by the Gulf Relief Foundation to raise additional relief funds," said Sidney D. Torres, owner of SDT and Foundation board member. "Donations are still coming in and we expect a boost in donations from tomorrow night's documentary airing on Fuse TV," Torres said. Fuse is carried in New Orleans on Cox channel 359, DirecTV channel 339 and DISH channel 158.

Plaquemine and St. Bernard Parishes were devastated by Katrina and the federal flood, and now comes the oil.

Thanks to Ginny S, who brought the video to the attention of MadPriest.



Thanks to Lisa.


From The Huffington Post:

"The President of the United States could've come down here, he could've been involved with the families of these 11 people" who died on the rig after an explosion, Carville said on ABC's Good Morning America. "He could be commandeering tankers and making BP bring tankers in and clean this up. They could be deploying people to the coast right now. He could be with the Corps of Engineers and the Coast Guard...doing something about these regulations. These people are crying, they're begging for something down here, and it just looks like he's not involved in this."

His voice rising, Carville cried out, "Man, you got to get down here and take control of this! Put somebody in charge of this thing and get this moving! We're about to die down here!"

I fully understand that BP and Obama want the gusher stopped as much as any of us down here in south Louisiana. I don't know if the technology exists to plug the well, but I hope it does.

Where the Obama administration can help and should help is in mitigating the damage from the gusher. Neither BP nor the administration has done everything that was and is possible to protect the coast and marshes. Here we are crying that we are dying, and we don't get the emergency help that we need. If the feds won't help, then, at least, get out of the way of local people let us try our solutions. Suspend the rules and regulations. We are desperate. What you've done thus far is all too little and too late.

UPDATE: Be sure to watch the video at HP - at least the beginning about the administration's response to the oil gusher.

UPDATE 2: Here's the link to the live video feed of the gusher from BP's site.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


There was an Italian immigrant man who had worked all his life, had saved all of his money, and was a real "miser" when it came to his money.

Just before he died, he said to his Italian wife..."When I die, I want you to take all my money and put it in the casket with me. I want to take my money to the after life with me."

And so he got his wife to promise him, with all of her heart, that when he died, she would put all of the money into the casket with him.

Well, he died. He was stretched out in the casket, his wife was sitting there - dressed in black, (what else), and her best friend was sitting next to her.

When they finished the ceremony, and just before the undertaker got ready to close the casket, the wife said, "Wait just a moment!"

She had a small metal box with her; she came over with the box and put it in the casket.

Then the undertaker locked the casket down and they rolled it away. So her friend said, "Girl, I know you were not fool enough to put all that money in there with your husband."

The loyal wife replied, "Listen, I'm an Italian Catholic & I cannot go back on my word. I promised him that I was going to put that money in the casket with him.."

You mean to tell me you put that money in the casket with him??"

"I sure did," said the wife.

"I got it all together, put it into my account, I wrote him a check....

If he can cash it, then he can spend it."



Don't blame me. Blame Doug.


From Yahoo News:

According to two surviving crew members of the Deepwater Horizon, oil workers from the rig were held in seclusion on the open water for up to two days after the April 20 explosion, while attorneys attempted to convince them to sign legal documents stating that they were unharmed by the incident. The men claim that they were forbidden from having any contact with concerned loved ones during that time, and were told they would not be able to go home until they signed the documents they were presented with.

Stephen Davis, a seven-year veteran of drilling-rig work from San Antonio, told The Guardian's Suzanne Goldenberg today that he was held on a boat for 36 to 40 hours after diving into the Gulf from the burning rig and swimming to safety. Once on a crew boat, Davis said, he and the others were denied access to satellite phones or radio to get in touch with their families, many of whom were frantic to find out whether or not they were OK.

Davis' story seems to be backed up by a similar account given to NPR by another Deepwater Horizon crewmember earlier in the month. Christopher Choy, a roustabout on the rig, said that the lawyers gathered the survivors in the galley of a boat and said, "'You need to sign these. Nobody's getting off here until we get one from everybody.'

I'd heard Christopher Choy's story some time ago. From the beginning, something seemed fishy about the waivers signed so quickly, or perhaps I should say oily. Other than that, I let the stories speak for themselves. I have no words.


Monday, May 24, 2010


She asked my sons what strange
countries they had been to & my oldest
son said England & my youngest said we
live in Louisiana & they all agreed that was
strangest of all.

From StoryPeople.



From the Times-Picayune:

On a Sunday of expanding coastal destruction from the Gulf oil disaster and little progress in containing it, frustrations bubbled to the surface from local and state leaders in Venice to federal officials in Houston and Washington, D.C.

Parish leaders and Gov. Bobby Jindal emerged from an afternoon strategy session at a Venice fishing harbor to complain about a lack of urgency from federal agencies and BP to address the oil washing into coastal marshes day after day.

Jindal said he supported a decision by local and Jefferson Parish leaders on Grand Isle on Saturday to commandeer about 30 fishing vessels that BP had commissioned but hadn't deployed to lay down protective boom as the oil came ashore.

On a Sunday of expanding coastal destruction from the Gulf oil disaster and little progress in containing it, frustrations bubbled to the surface from local and state leaders in Venice to federal officials in Houston and Washington, D.C.

With each criticism of BP and the federal government's inability to force the company to move faster when oil is spotted coming ashore, local officials have started to clamor for President Barack Obama to federalize the disaster response under the Oil Pollution Act.

But Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Thad Allen, the national incident commander, reiterated on the Sunday morning talk a message he's been sharing almost since the disaster struck April 20: Industry, and not the federal government, has all the resources to deal with the leak 5,000 feet below the sea and as it comes toward land.

The fear is that if Obama federalizes the response and supplants BP, not only will it be more difficult to get the company to pay for the response efforts, but the federal government may not have the capacity to get the job done.

If less than the best efforts to protect the coast are being implemented by either BP or the federal agencies because of concerns about who will pay the costs, then shame on them. Let's not have the blame game about protecting the coast from further damage going back and forth between BP and the feds, if something can be done now. Whatever you can do, do it! Give the local people the go-ahead to implement their plan, which seems to have worked.

The disconnect between state and federal governments was clear as Salazar trumpeted 1.73 million feet of boom and more than 1,000 vessels deployed on the front lines, while Jindal complained that during a boat tour of oiled coastline Sunday he saw only two vessels trying to protect the shore.

Jindal said 143,000 feet of boom sat in staging areas while oil damaged 65 miles of Louisiana coastline. It has been 20 days since the state asked for 5 million feet of hard boom, but only 786,185 feet of hard boom has been delivered so far, he said.

Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser, along with Jindal and other parish leaders, said the White House's first priority should be granting an emergency permit to skip federal environmental reviews and allow coastal parishes to follow their 3-week-old plan to place dredged sand as berms between barrier islands so oil won't get into delicate marshes, something that wouldn't require any change in BP's role.

"The president has the authority to issue an emergency permit," Jindal said.

"This is proof that the parish plans work," he added, pointing at a picture of sand berm in Fourchon laid by Louisiana National Guard troops in four days that kept oil out of an estuary.

Then he pointed to a picture of a oiled pelican at a bird sanctuary on Cat Island, off the coast of Plaquemines Parish, unable to fly or swim because of the oil, and another picture of pelican eggs discolored with brown gunk, saying: "This is the danger of not acting."

What are the chances for the oiled pelican? What are the chances that the eggs will hatch into healthy pelican chicks and grow to maturity?

Look at the numbers and varieties of birds just from one picture of Cat Island. The threat is the same for the other rookeries and bird sanctuaries across the coast and in the marshes.

As my friend Elizabeth said in the comments to another post:

Sad. Sad. Sad. Mother Earth is weeping for her children.


If the Gospel is not Good News for ALL, then Christianity has little to offer.

Inspired by Counterlight's commentary.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


From Arkansas Hillbilly:

I just got word this evening that my grandmother, Maxine, is in the hospital with some form of colitis. Could you all please add her to your prayers for me? Thank you.

From Hillbilly on Maxine:

Update from Dad's cousin Shelia. Grandma is doing much better, and if she's able to keep food down, they'll let her go home tomorrow! Thanks be to God and thank you all for your prayers!


Prayers for my brother, Steve, who has idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, and my niece, Hilary, just diagnosed with breast cancer.



UPDATE 2 posted by MadPriest:

My dog socked me in the eye again this morning. This time I ended up at the eye doctor. I have a serious lesion on my cornea. Which probably explains why it hurt like hell. I've got to use anti-bacterial eye drops every two hours for a couple of days, but they think I'll live. I was a very brave boy.

O God, the strength of the weak and the comfort of sufferers: Mercifully accept our prayers, and grant to your servants Maxine, Steve, Hilary, and Jonathan the help of your power, that their sicknesses may be turned into health, and our sorrow into joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.



Joey is my eldest grandchild and the first to graduate from high school. I'm quite proud of him, as he graduated with honors and got to sit on the stage in a place of honor. In the fall, Joey will go to LSU (Louisiana State University). When he graduates, he will be the third Joseph Thomas Butler to graduate from LSU. Note: I said when, not if. His great-grandfather and his grandfather are both graduates. Grandpère and I abandoned the tradition of passing on the name when we named Joey's dad, our son, Tim, but the next generation returned to the tradition. Tim attended Nicholls State University here in Thibodaux.

When I asked Joey's mom, Cindy, if I could post his graduation picture on Wounded Bird and write about him, she said, "Yes, but I wished he'd shaved." No matter. He's still good-looking, isn't he?

Joey was smart from an early age. I remember when he was about 18 months old, we went to visit my mother in the retirement complex in New Orleans. When we left her apartment and reached the elevator, Joey pointed to the number next to the elevator and said, "Nine." I nearly fell over. Cindy told me that when he saw a Walmart ad in the newspaper, he'd say, "Walmart."

While his parents worked, I cared for Joey for a few months before he was a year old. From his infancy, he loved music. His favorite song when he was around 7 months old was Burl Ives singing "The Little White Duck". He'd sit on the floor and listen, almost in a trance, and rock from side to side in time with the music, and when the song was finished, he'd cry. I'd say, "Wait! Wait! I'll play the song again," and I'd move the needle on the old vinyl back and start the song over. We'd do the routine for quite a while before I could get him to move on to listen to the other songs on the record.

When I rocked Joey to sleep, I sang to him, nursery rhymes, children's songs, and sometimes I'd run out of songs and start singing the same songs again. I wondered that I didn't bore him to sleep more quickly, because I bored myself nearly to sleep. Along with my singing, I played tapes and records of children's songs for him. We liked Raffi, especially "Five Little Ducks". Ducks again! One day, Cindy came to pick up Joey to take him home, and the song was playing.

Five little ducks went out one day,
Over the hills and far away.
Mother duck said "Quack, quack, quack, quack, But only four little ducks came back.

The song went on until:

One little duck went out one day,
Over the hills and far away.
Mother duck said "Quack, quack, quack, quack, But none of the five little ducks came back.

Cindy looked a little stricken and said, "But it's such a sad song."

And then came the final verse:

Sad mother duck went out one day,
Over the hills and far away.
Mother duck said "Quack, quack, quack, quack,
And all of the five little ducks came back.

And all was well again.

One day, when Joey was not yet two years old, I was changing his diaper, and I noted that the diaper had the rhyme "Five Little Monkeys" printed on it. I said the rhyme once or twice, and Joey repeated the rhyme back to me. I thought he'd learned the counting rhyme from his parents, but when I asked Cindy about it, she told me that, so far as she knew, he'd never heard it before. Quite a memory for a little one. Joey was full of surprises.

Joey still loves music and has a vast collection of songs. He plays the guitar, both electric and acoustic. A few years ago, I gave him my nice Yamaha acoustic guitar which I had stopped playing long before and which I never played at all well.

Prayers, congratulations, and blessings, Joey, as you embark on your new adventure.

Note: I asked Joey if I could feature him on my blog, and he said yes, but he's not responsible for what I say here.

UPDATE: One more Joey story.

My mother passed away when Joey was five years old. During the memorial mass, the priest did a dialogue sermon, asking questions of the people at the mass and going back and forth in a conversation. One of his first questions was, "What happens when people die?"

Joey's hand popped up, and the priest called on him. Joey said, "They go to heaven to be with Jesus."

The priest said, "Yes, they do."

Joey spoke again, "And if you love them, they live in your heart."

After mass, I asked his parents whether they had told Joey what to say, and they both shook their heads. Amazing!

Saturday, May 22, 2010


From the Salt Lake Tribune:

Utah Episcopalians on Saturday selected Scott Hayashi as their 11th bishop to replace the Rev. Carolyn Tanner Irish, who will retire this fall.

Hayashi, who was rector at Ogden's Good Shepherd from 1989 to 1998 before leaving to become a diocesan administrator in Chicago, emerged as choice to lead an estimated 6,000 Episcopalians in the state after two rounds of balloting at a special convention attended by priests, deacons and lay members at St. Mark's Cathedral in Salt Lake City.

The biography of the new bishop-elect may be found at the Episcopal Diocese of Utah website.

Thanks to Ann for the link.


Still from BP's live feed video from The Huffington Post, May 21, 2010.
Two Republican governors, in California and Florida, have withdrawn their support for the idea of expanded offshore drilling and a number of Democrats in Congress have warned that they can no longer support energy reform legislation if it includes such provisions.

President Barack Obama recently announced that he was willing to lift a decades-long moratorium on drilling in new areas of the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic coastline.
At the time, he said any new exploration would "balance the need to harness domestic energy resources and the need to protect America's natural resources".

But with the true consequences of the spill yet to be determined, this is perhaps a little premature. What is more clear is that making history seems less of a priority right now than establishing blame.

Last week, it was Wall Street "fat cats" who were being roasted by members of Congress.
Yeah, poor babies. My heart bleeds for the executives.
But while venting anger and debating when and how to reintroduce a moratorium might make people feel good, what does it actually achieve?

Of course all of this depends on a disaster which hasn't quite materialised yet.
And yes, Bill, who would ever have expected that a disaster would materialize after 17 days of thousands upon thousands of barrels of oil gushing from a well in the Gulf of Mexico?
As of yesterday, the BBC appears to have caught up with the reality of the disaster in the Gulf. Watch the video on the right of the BBC website of Rep. Ed Markey's (D-MA) commentary. It's short and to the point.
BP said it had siphoned 2,200 barrels in the 24-hour period to midnight on Thursday, down from an estimate of 5,000 barrels earlier in the day.

The US government has formed a team to develop a more precise estimate of the amount of oil gushing from the well.

BP will attempt to stem the oil flow next week, instead of Sunday as hoped.

The oil leak began more than a month ago, when a rig leased by BP exploded.

The spill has reached Louisiana and is threatening Florida and Cuba.

Thick, sticky oil is washing on to miles of fragile Louisiana wetlands, with brown, foul-smelling globs coating reeds and grasses.
For playing down the extent of the disaster 17 days after the explosion, I'd like to ship Bill Adams an oiled, dead pelican to hang around his neck for - let me think - perhaps 17 days?

Thanks in great part to the efforts of Rep. Ed Markey, a live video feed of the oil leak is available at BP's website.

UPDATE: My post at Wounded Bird on May 6, 2010. Who would ever have expected...?


Before officials closed it Friday, visitors walked along the beach at Grand Isle, checking out the oil that washed up on the sand from the offshore platform that exploded and sank in April....

From the Advocate in Baton Rouge, Louisiana:

Walking over the sand dune separating Grand Isle camps from the Gulf of Mexico, Paul Trouard said he didn’t see anything unusual.

Trouard, 36, and Walter Allred, 41, both of Lafayette, were on the island to get together with friends and do some fishing.

They said they hadn’t been on the Grand Isle beach for years, but with all the talk of oil in the Gulf of Mexico, they decided to take a look for themselves Friday morning.

“I didn’t expect this,” Trouard said, pointing to the beach.

On the water’s edge, the beach was covered with oily globs the consistency of chocolate mousse and streaks of oil. In some locations, pools of oil were getting trapped in low-lying beach areas.

“They told us it was coming,” Allred said.

He said he brought a plastic bag to the shoreline to collect some of the oil and a camera to take some pictures. Trouard and Allred both agreed they’d probably be telling their children about the day they were fishing and oil came ashore in Grand Isle.

“It’s epic,” Allred said.

It's epic all right, epically catastrophic.


A small sand crab covered with oil...makes its way around the beach Friday at Grand Isle.

What are the chances for the little sand crab?



Grandpère picked the produce pictured above this morning, the first of the season. They're fresh from the garden, not even cleaned yet. He's proud, and I don't blame him. He works hard in his spring vegetable garden, and we both enjoy eating the harvest. Mmm-mmm good!

Friday, May 21, 2010



A man was driving down the road and ran out of gas. Just at that moment, a bee flew in the window.

'What seems to be the problem?' asked the bee.

'I'm out of gas,' replied the man.

The bee told the man to wait for a few moments, and flew away. Minutes later, the man watched as an entire swarm of bees flew to his car and right into his gas tank. After a few minutes, the bees flew out.

'Try it now, ' said one bee.

The man turned the ignition key and the car started right up.
'Wow!' the surprised man exclaimed, 'what did you put in my gas tank?'

The bee answered,


Wait for it. Wait for it...


You're just gonna love this...



I see you smiling.


I figured why not go a little mad in the middle of the sorrow and depression with a timely joke, which admittedly did not result in LOL, but did, in fact, make me smile.

Don't blame me. Blame Doug.



Just as after Katrina and THE FEDERAL FLOOD, the New Orleans newspaper has done a terrific job with their local team in reporting on the oil gusher, the resulting damage, the negligence and incompetence of BP, and all matters relating to the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.


As you see, oil has already arrived in Louisiana on the beaches and in the marshes shown in the locations marked in black on the map, showing not potential damage, but real damage, with worse almost certainly to follow.


Myers apologized for his idiotic and repulsive comments, but only after Mayor Mitch Landrieu fired off a letter to Faux News:

In his letter to Goren, Landrieu called Myers' comments "offensive and unacceptable." Saying the "hearts and prayers" of Orleanians go out to flood victims in Tennessee, Landrieu wrote: "This is not Nashville versus New Orleans. And anyone who dares to draw such a comparison is being divisive and reckless."

Landrieu added that "faulty construction caused the breach of (federal) levees, ... forcing the people of New Orleans to 'stand on rooftops.'" He adds that "almost every levee" built by the Army Corps of Engineers failed, leaving 80 percent of the city underwater and claiming 1,464 lives in Louisiana.

Go get 'im, Mitch!

Of course, no one in New Olreans helped anyone else, Chris, and when you're standing on a rooftop surrounded by water, it's not easy to help yourself, much less anyone else, Chris. But folks did help one another, and some lost their lives helping others, Chris.

I had great difficulty in restraining my language when speaking of Chris Myers.


BP admitted Thursday that a figure it has been citing for weeks as its best estimate of the total amount of oil flowing into the Gulf of Mexico, 5,000 barrels a day, is too low. A tube inserted into a hole in a broken riser pipe is now capturing 5,000 barrels of oil per day, but oil is still gushing from that hole as well as from another leak nearby, BP spokesman Mark Proegler said.

BP is measuring the oil as it is siphoned onto a drill ship on the water's surface, Proegler said.

Who knew? Only everyone but the credulous US government. And who would ever have expected that BP was not telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?


Thursday, May 20, 2010


Oil in the marshes in Louisiana


BP hired a top oilfield service company to test the strength of cement linings on the Deepwater Horizon's well, but sent the firm's workers home 11 hours before the rig exploded April 20 without performing a final check that a top cementing company executive called "the only test that can really determine the actual effectiveness" of the well's seal.

A spokesman for the testing firm, Schlumberger, said BP had a Schlumberger team and equipment for sending acoustic testing lines down the well "on standby" from April 18 to April 20. But BP never asked the Schlumberger crew to perform the acoustic test and sent its members back to Louisiana on a regularly scheduled helicopter flight at 11 a.m., Schlumberger spokesman Stephen T. Harris said.

At a few minutes before 10 p.m., a belch of natural gas shot out of the well, up a riser pipe to the rig above, igniting massive explosions, killing 11 crewmembers and sending millions of gallons of crude oil into the Gulf. The rig's owner, Transocean, blames failed cement seals, installed by Halliburton, for the disastrous blowout.

The truth seeps out slowly, because BP has not been forthcoming in releasing information. Senate committee hearings on the oil gusher seem to be accomplishing their mission, which is to gather all pertinent information.

Also from

The White House is asking BP PLC to publicly disclose more information about the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, including measurements of the size of the leak 5,000 feet under the sea and air quality.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Thursday that the White House is writing to BP asking the company to put that information on its website and be more transparent about its response.

BP is under fire as scientists dispute the company's estimate of how much oil is spilling into the Gulf.

For weeks BP has said the flow is 210,000 gallons a day, but scientists say the amount could be much higher. A BP official conceded Thursday there could be more.

Scientists also are criticizing government agencies for not pushing the company harder to let independent experts take measurements.

It's about time for the White House to stop relying on BP's words. From day one of the explosion, BP issued incomplete and misleading information. Why have the Obama administration and the federal agencies been so trusting and credulous and not moved forward more quickly with plans to verify BP's statements and findings?

BP says it is now collecting 3000 barrels of oil a day from the leak, but the amount of oil gushing from the well is under dispute, so we still don't know how much is being released into the Gulf.

More oil in the marshes of Louisiana

Images from The Huffington Post.


A prayer written by the Rev. Albert Kennington as a responsive reading for a congregation. It may be equally useful as a family devotion, a devotion for a Bible study or prayer group, or simply as a personal devotion.

The Officiant and People say responsively
Glorify the Lord, O springs of water, seas, and streams,
O whales and all that move in the waters.
All birds of the air, glorify the Lord,
praise him and highly exalt him forever.
Glorify the Lord, O spirits and souls of the righteous,
praise him and highly exalt him for ever.
You that are holy and humble of heart, glorify the Lord,
praise him and highly exalt him forever.
The voice of the LORD is upon the waters;
the God of glory thunders; the LORD is upon the mighty waters.
The voice of the LORD is a powerful voice;
the voice of the LORD is a voice of splendor.
O Lord, how manifold are your works!
in wisdom you have made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.
Yonder is the great and wide sea
with its living things too many to number,
creatures both small and great,
There move the ships, and there is that Leviathan,
which you have made for the sport of it.
You give it to them; they gather it;
you open you hand, and they are filled with good things.
You send forth your Spirit, and they are created;
and so you renew the face of the earth.

For the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, that they may be kept pure as you created them.
Lord, have mercy.

For all who work on the waters that they be safe from harm; for all who have been injured, for all who have died, and for all who mourn.
Lord, have mercy.

For all who support their livelihood and the care of their families and communities from the harvest of the waters,
Lord, have mercy.

For all who live along these waters and for their livelihood, provide places of rest and recreation for others,
Lord, have mercy.

For all who explore the depths of the earth, even under the sea, for the resources of your creation for the common good,
Lord, have mercy.

For all creatures of your making and for the wonderful mysteries of natural habitats you have willed for them, that they be protected from all dangers,
Lord, have mercy.

For all in authority over us, in the government of our nation, our states, and communities, that they may serve your will for the common good, and no other,
Lord, have mercy.

For all who work to preserve us from the dangers of this present calamity, that they may be blessed with success and kept safe from all harm,
Lord, have mercy.

For our deliverance from fear, anxiety, and anger,
Lord, have mercy.

For your will to be done on earth as it is in heaven,
Lord, hear our prayer.

Mercifully hear us, O Lord our God.
Let our cry come to you.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen

Written by the Rev. Albert Kennington, Priest Associate, St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Daphne, Alabama.

Thanks to Ann.

From Atmore News.


From xkcd.

Thanks to Paul (A.)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Not even my comments appear on my blog. I get email notification of the comments, but they do not appear on my blog. I presume that Blogger is working on the problem, but who knows? Sorry.

UPDATE: Leo, nada, mi amigo.

UPDATE 2: The problem seems to be fixed now.


From the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana:

Join us at the Cathedral for the enthronement of Bishop Morris K. Thompson, Thursday, May 13th, at Christ Church Cathedral at 6 pm.

The new bishop will preach and celebrate.

I'd like to have attended the service, but it would have meant spending another night in New Orleans, and I was not ready for that, since I had done so just a few nights before for the bishop's ordination. I especially would have liked to hear Bishop Thompson preach. Another time.

I confess that I was disappointed that the term "enthronement" was used on the diocesan website for the ceremony of the bishop taking his seat.

There are two aspects to the episcopate:

Bishops are for the whole Church. That’s why every election must be approved by a majority of other dioceses, and why the Presiding Bishop and other bishops come to consecrate a bishop.

Our new bishop is also for Louisiana. That’s why, after the consecration is over, we need to welcome him to our cathedral and seat him in his official chair. Mostly, we’ll be celebrating the Ascension Day. But, at the beginning of the service, the bishop will knock on the door, seeking entry, and be admitted and welcomed by the Dean and Wardens to his Cathedral Church. Then he will be conducted to his chair, to be at home in his new place

William Morris+

That's better. As I see it, "enthronement" should be banished from the Episcopal Church lexicon. A bishop is elected to serve the people of the diocese, to be the servant of all. Why then use a term that suggests that the diocesan bishop rules like a king on a throne?

I've been told that enthronement is a proper usage, and if that is true, then we should reconsider our terminology. To speak of "Seating the Bishop" seems appropriate to me. In truth, the use of enthronement is one of my pet peeves. Off with it!

None of what I've said about terminology here is meant to reflect on our new bishop. +Morris Thompson was amongst my favorites after I read the biographies of the six candidates. After I attended the walkabouts, +Morris Thompson was my top candidate, the man whom I hoped would be elected 11th bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana. I rejoiced upon his election, especially so, since my support for candidates is usually the kiss of death for their chances to be elected. Not this time, thanks be to God!

Almighty and everlasting God, from whom cometh every good and perfect gift: Send down upon Bishop Morris Thompson and upon the congregations committed to his charge, the healthful Spirit of thy grace: and, that they may truly please thee, pour upon them the continual dew of thy blessing. Grant this, O Lord, for the honor of our Advocate and Mediator, Jesus Christ. Amen.

(Book of Common Prayer, p.817, edit.)

Note: As you see, I'm inching my way back into blogging. I hope to restrict my postings to one a day, or less, as my friend Elizabeth suggested, and to write in my own voice more often, rather than linking and quoting, and to refrain from writing about what many other bloggers are already saying, but rather contribute when I have something unique to say, as my friend Lisa suggested. We'll see how this goes. Sadly, I make many resolutions that I don't keep.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010



Before going on a blogging sabbatical, I wanted to post about the ordination ceremony of the new bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana, Morris Thompson, at Christ Church Cathedral in New Orleans, but I was in a period of frenetic blogging, so much so, that I never wrote the post while the ceremony was fresh in my mind. The service was simple and dignified, but beautiful. Considering that south Louisiana is still recovering from Hurricane Katrina and the federal flood and Hurricane Gustav, and that oil was gushing from the exploded well in the Gulf of Mexico south of us, a modest and unassuming service was entirely appropriate. The liturgy from the Book of Common Prayer for the ordination of a bishop was the ceremony. The organists, cantor, and choirs performed beautifully, and the congregation made a joyful noise unto the Lord. A spirit of reverent prayerfulness was palpably present throughout the service, which lasted about two hours.

A bit of excitement, at least for me, came when the young people from our church passed in procession. Dianne Guthrie carried St. John's banner, and Chelsea Rivera served as crucifer representing the Southwest Deanery, immediately preceding the dignitaries in the procession into the cathedral. I offer my congratulations and prayers to Dianne and Chelsea, who will both graduate from high school this year.

The thurifer, Brad Copeland, proceeded down the aisle swinging the thurible with considerable vigor on what seemed quite a long chain, which was a little scary to me. However, Brad seemed quite confident of his skills, and all went well.

For you musicians and music lovers:

Opening Voluntary - Fantasie in A Major - Cesar Franck

Hymn - The Old Hundreth Psalm

Procession - Christ Is Made the Sure Foundation,
Alleluia! Sing to Jesus

Bishop Stacy Sauls, Bishop Morris Thompson's bishop in Lexington, KY, preached the sermon.

Post Sermon - King of Glory, King of Peace

Before the Ordination - Come Holy Ghost, Creator Blest

The Examination

My brother, the people have chosen you and have affirmed their trust in you by acclaiming your election. A bishop in God’s holy Church is called to be one with the apostles in proclaiming Christ’s resurrection and interpreting the Gospel, and to testify to Christ’s sovereignty as Lord of lords and King of kings.

You are called to guard the faith, unity, and discipline of the Church; to celebrate and to provide for the administration of the sacraments of the New Covenant; to ordain priests and deacons and to join in ordaining bishops; and to be in all things a faithful pastor and wholesome example for the entire flock of Christ.

With your fellow bishops you will share in the leadership of the Church throughout the world. Your heritage is the faith of patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and martyrs, and those of every generation who have looked to God in hope. Your joy will be to follow him who came, not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.

Are you persuaded that God has called you to the office of bishop?

I am so persuaded.

Offertory - Now Let Us Rise and Hymn the Grace

Communion - I Come With Joy to Meet My Lord, I Am the Bread of Life

Closing hymn - Lift High the Cross

Voluntary - Prelude & Fugue in B Major, Opus 7, No. 1 - Marcel Dupré

Note: I'm still on sabbatical, but for this post. Since I was present, I wanted to give my impression of the ceremony before too much more time passes.

Friday, May 14, 2010


I couldn't let this pass, could I? Okay, I'm done. Really.

author says:

You may notice a new banner ad at the bottom of the comic. It's a new volume of J&M strips, available from Lulu!

My wife thinks I'm wasting my time writing J&M. If you are kind enough to buy a copy, it will help convince her that she is wrong.

Peace and blessings,


From Jesus and Mo.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


...and will take a break from blogging. I'm burnt out, and, since I can't discipline myself to blog in moderation, going off cold turkey seems to be the only way I can have a rest. Wounded Bird will stay as it is, with comments open, and, after a break of an indeterminate period of time, I may have something to say. I'll post at Facebook when I've written something new. However, my posts will very likely be much less frequent in the future.

For over three years, I've blogged nearly every day, except when I've been traveling. Until now, I've enjoyed myself, and when blogging came to seem more like a chore, than fun, I thought it best to bow out for a spell.

Thank you all who have visited over the years. A special thank you to those who took the time to leave comments. You provided me with much of my energy. Through the world of blogs, I've made fantastic friends in real life and virtually through the intertubes. I couldn't have gone three-plus years without you. Thanks to all who sent links, jokes, and funny pictures which helped me fill my pages. Again, I couldn't have done it without you.

I won't say, "Good-bye," because I'll see y'all around and about in Blogland.


From the The Guardian:

"The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean. The amount of volume of oil and dispersant we are putting into it is tiny in relation to the total water volume," he said.

Yeah, yeah, Tony. Most consoling. By the way, the Gulf of Mexico is not an ocean. It is a gulf. Its name gives it away.

Hayward promised that BP would "fix" the disaster, which is on course to eclipse the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill as the worst US oil spill in history. "We will fix it. I guarantee it. The only question is we do not know when."

Hayward stressed that BP's efforts to contain the spill had succeeded in dispersing the oil and preventing large amounts reaching the shoreline around the Gulf. But environmentalists are concerned about the unseen damage being done to marine life by the oil which is sinking to the seabed.

Those of us in the vicinity of the leak are pretty anxious to know when the "fix" will be in.

So your job may be on the line. That's tough, especially in these tough economic times. But I have a sneaking suspicion that you won't be reduced to life on the dole.

Thanks to Cathy for the link.


Oil spill underwater video - 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill

The failed blowout preventer on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig had a hydraulic leak and a dead battery in one of its control pods, and testing in the hours before an April 20 explosion revealed that pressure in the well was dangerously out of whack, a House committee investigating the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico said Wednesday.

"The more I learn about this accident, the more concerned I become," said Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, who has cast the explosion and the ongoing oil spill that followed as a cautionary tale of America's dependence on oil and what he characterized as "dangerous" deepwater drilling in particular.

In recent days, the Energy Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations has been combing through documents provided by BP, the oil giant that had been on the verge of announcing a huge find in the deep waters 50 miles off the Louisiana coast, and Transocean Limited, the contractor whose offshore rig blew up three weeks ago, killing 11 workers and opening an undersea gusher that is releasing about 5,000 barrels of crude a day into the Gulf.
The investigation by the subcommittee, of which Rep. Henry Waxman is chairman, obtained more information than the two Senate committees which grilled the CEO's yeaterday. Waxman is one of my heroes in Congress. He's a bulldog. He won't let go.

The finger-pointing blame game amongst the corporations involved continues unabated, but the consequences of the disaster will affect all the companies involved, no matter their efforts to throw the blame off themselves.
According to Waxman, just after midnight the morning of April 20, Halliburton finished cementing the well. Waxman said that James Dupree, the BP senior vice president for the Gulf of Mexico, told the committee staff that a 5 p.m. pressure test, to determine whether any gas was leaking into the well through the cement or casing, had an unsatisfactory result, and a second test also discovered a disturbing imbalance between pressure in the drill pipe and in the kill and choke lines.

Waxman said that while Dupree indicated that the well blew right after the second test, BP lawyers told the committee that additional tests were done and well operations resumed. Two hours later the well blew.

"The investigation will have to tear that apart piece by piece," said Lamar McKay, the president and president of BP America, of the discrepancy in the pressure tests.
Why, why, why wasn't the well shut down when the tests showed unsatisfactory results? Why?

Rep. Charlie Melancon (D), my rep in Congress, is running against Sen. David Vitter for his Senate seat, but he's far behind Vitter in the polls. He needs to wake up to the reality of conditions in the US today. Melancon says:
"We're the United States, and I would have thought if this was going to happen, it would have been in maybe a South African continent or some Third World country that just looked the other way or said, you know, if there's still such a thing -- and I'm sure there is -- kickbacks, that that would have happened there and not here in the United States," Melancon said. "And, of course, having come through Katrina, Rita, Gustav, Ike and now Horizon, it's just, I guess, the anxiety is building on South Louisiana as though there's a bull's eye on us."
Where ya been, Charlie? Asleep? Are you just now noting all is not hunky-dory in our country? Although our decline started before the Cheney/Bush regime, didn't you see the trashing of our institutions and agencies during the 8 years those guys were in charge? You voted their way a good many times, loyal Blue Dog Democrat that you are.

My hero.


Yesterday afternoon, I listened to and read the transcript of Archbishop Desmond Tutu's latest interview on Public Radio. What a godly and delightful man.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu: There's no question about the reality of evil, of injustice, of suffering, but, you know, at the center of this existence is a heart beating with love. You know, that you and I and all of us are incredible. I mean, we really are remarkable things. That we are, as a matter of fact, made for goodness.

Archbishop Tutu begins the interview with a prayer:

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of thy faithful people and kindle in them the fire of thy love. Send forth thy spirit and they shall be made and thou shalt renew the face of the earth. Amen.

I know the prayer with slight changes in wording from my Roman Catholic elementary and high school days.

Ms. Tippett: Right. You had spiritual companions.

Archbishop Tutu: Yes. They are more than that. I mean, they are people who helped to form me. And then discovering that the Bible could be such dynamite. I subsequently used to say if these white people had intended keeping us under they shouldn't have given us the Bible. Because, whoa, I mean, it's almost as if it is written specifically just for your situation. I mean, the many parts of it that were so germane, so utterly to the point for us …

Ms. Tippett: Can you recall one of those early discoveries as the Bible as dynamite? Some teaching that you suddenly saw as so relevant?

Archbishop Tutu: Well, it's actually right the very first thing. I mean, when you discover that apartheid sought to mislead people into believing that what gave value to human beings was a biological irrelevance, really, skin color or ethnicity, and you saw how the scriptures say it is because we are created in the image of God, that each one of us is a God-carrier. No matter what our circumstances may be, no matter how awful, no matter how deprived you could be, it doesn't take away from you this intrinsic worth. One saw just how significant it was.

Ah yes. The Bible is dynamite, right from the beginning. The creation story is the source, in great part, of my sense of myself as a person of value.

Ms. Tippett: There is a lot of violence in South African society right now, and that violence is connected, as you say, to these 300 years that couldn't possibly be resolved by the Commission.

Archbishop Tutu: Yeah.

Ms. Tippett: I mean, how do you think about what's happening now and that as part of this project?

Archbishop Tutu: I think, I mean, that we have very gravely underestimated the damage that apartheid inflicted on all of us. You know, the damage to our psyches, the damage that has made — I mean, it shocked me. I went to Nigeria when I was working for the World Council of Churches, and I was due to fly to Jos. And so I go to Lagos airport and I get onto the plane and the two pilots in the cockpit are both black. And whee, I just grew inches. You know, it was fantastic because we had been told that blacks can't do this.

Ms. Tippett: Right.

Archbishop Tutu: And we have a smooth takeoff and then we hit the mother and father of turbulence. I mean, it was quite awful, scary. Do you know, I can't believe it but the first thought that came to my mind was, "Hey, there's no white men in that cockpit. Are those blacks going to be able to make it?" And of course, they obviously made it — here I am. But the thing is, I had not known that I was damaged to the extent of thinking that somehow actually what those white people who had kept drumming into us in South Africa about our being inferior, about our being incapable, it had lodged some way in me.

As a result of living many years under the thumb of an oppressive government, even Archbishop Tutu, who seems a model of a whole man, suffers from damage from which he has never fully recovered. But then he goes on to say:

Archbishop Tutu: Well, yeah, but I have to say, you know, if you are devoid of hope then roll over and disappear quietly. Hope says, hey, things can, things will, be better because God has intended for it to be so. You know? At no point will evil and injustice and oppression and all of the negative things have the last word. And, yes, I mean, there's no question about the reality of evil, of injustice, of suffering, but at the center of this existence is a heart beating with love. You know, that you and I and all of us are incredible. I mean, we really are remarkable things that we are, as a matter of fact, made for goodness. And it's not a smart aleck thing to say; it's just a fact. Because all of us, even when we have degenerated, know that the wrong isn't what we should be, isn't what we should be doing. We're fantastic. I mean, we really are amazing.

Archbishop Tutu is fantastic and amazing. I recommend listening to the entire interview or reading the transcript.

H/T to Ann Fontaine at The Lead for the link to the interview.