Those 7 Essays All At Once

The previous six essays form a six piece monograph. Since everything comes up in reverse order, you may see the last one first. This is just a note that you might want to go back to the introductory post that introduces the six essays. It can be found here.

Happy reading.


Why no Outrage?

This morning I was asked why I haven’t written something condemning white supremacy in the United States and saying something about the Charlottesville march, the General Lee statue, etc. There’s a very good reason for it, imho, but before I get to that I will say that I find the state of affairs to be abhorrent. It says bad things about us as an American society when self-professed neo-Nazis feel comfortable marching without the anonymity of the white sheets they used to use … And we’re still not doing much about it!

I also suspect that there are a whole bunch of angry but ignorant young people who were never properly taught history who are caught up in the alt-right movement without any real understanding of how dangerous and abhorrent the larger impulse is. So I am more saddened than angry by the current state of affairs.

But social media is not the appropriate forum for this condemnation. For most of us it is easy to express outrage in the relative anonymity and safety of the internet. (I am well aware of trolls and the psychic terror they can cause. Before social media was around I received death threats aimed at me and my family through the mail at the church, so I do have a sense of the violation and fear that these sort of activities create, but that is the exception rather than the rule.) For most of us, expressing our online outrage costs us nothing and accomplishes nothing while simultaneously making us feel morally superior because we merely expressed our outrage.

Expressing outrage is not the purpose of this blog. If I do express outrage about Charlottesville, shouldn’t I also express outrage about Syria and Egypt where they pick up random Christian clergy and jail them or torture them simply because they can? And if I express outrage about Charlottesville, Syria, and Egypt, shouldn’t I express outrage over the child abuse by Roman Catholic priests in Guam? And if I do that, shouldn’t I also do the same about Canada where the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has fallen far short in its duty to address the abuses of native people over the years?  … well, you get the idea.

If it’s local and I have some insight that others may not have, I do use this blog as a forum. I recently expressed outrage again at ABC when they essentially admitted their culpability in the smear campaign against Iowa Beef Products. I have personal experience and knowledge about how damaging that so-called news reporting was, so it seemed okay to express my opinion. But that is the exception that proves the rule. If I lived in Virginia or was still teaching in Mississippi then Charlottesville would be the exception that proves the rule, but that’s no longer my context.

So enough outrage on this forum for now. I’ll get back to the lectionary, Karl Barth, and the occasional Zombie Apocalypse news flash.

A Word on what’s going on

I’ve been attending St. Thomas Episcopal Church for a while. (Yes, I’m Orthodox, there’s a story, but that’s between me and my confessor and not for thee general public, so don’t ask.) Pretty consistently after the sermons (by Fr Jay Denne), I think, “That’s not how I would have approached the text.” In nearly every case the way that he approached the text was far superior to how the text struck me when it was proclaimed minutes before the sermon.

But it raises the question, how would I approach the text if I actually gave prayerful thought about them rather than reacting to them moments after their proclamation from the center of the nave.

Since the blog has been rather dead lately, I decided to reflect on next week’s text starting on Sunday afternoon.

These are not sermons because they lack community context. I am no longer a pastor and thus no longer have my pulse on a community. On occasion they may be a response to my crazy “Emerging Church Cheerleader” colleague at work, or possibly a riff on the current news cycle, etc. But they are not aimed at edifying a community of faith, rather they are (for me) pre-worship preparation. They occur, not in the hurly-burly of community, nor in the collegiality of a study group, but in the quiet of my own head.

You may find them interesting or you may find them self-indulgent. As always (for this is how I have used my blog for years), they are a repository, or possibly a filing cabinet, for ideas, thoughts, and inspirations I have as I reflect on scripture. The previous post was the first of this little exercise. They probably won’t be every week. I do hope you find them helpful and interesting.

Mea Culpa

Sometimes I mistake myself for a humorist. A good humorist can be acerbic without being small-minded. (Don’t forget that before “mean” meant “hurtful” or “offensive,” it meant “small-minded.”) My humor too often is small-minded and thus unintentionally veers off in the direction of mean-spiritedness.

Here’s my own means-spiritedness measuring stick: Would I be embarrassed to meet a person face to face of whom I wrote about on the internet? On a handful of occasions the answer is yes. Two come to mind. The first is this little attempt at humor I wrote back in April. I would like to think that anyone reading that piece, where I skewer academics getting government grants, is tongue-in-cheek, and not designed to be informative, only humorous. Now that I’ve reread it I suspect that Mark Dixon, Carter Johnson, Mike Scott, Daniel Bowen, and Lisa Rabe (author’s of said study) probably wouldn’t think it so humorous. I know I’d be a bit embarrassed to meet any of them face to face if I knew they had read that piece.

The same can be said for the newscaster I skewered a couple of days ago. I suspect it’s shamefully embarrassing to be caught not knowing the facts about something you should understand, and the health care story had only broken an hour or so prior to the interview, so she undoubtedly got sent to the street by her boss without getting the proper background. Rather than hanging her out to dry, I should have kept my mouth shut.

Mea culpa.


Pictures added

I have edited the previous post (about the new header photos). Since it’s inconvenient and time consuming to continually hit the “refresh” button on the browser just to look at the header photos, I turned the previous post into a gallery post with all twelve photos included.

In Honor of Cruise Ships

First there was a Costa cruise ship that ran aground while the captain was evidently flirting with a blond lady. Yesterday there was a fire in a Costa cruise ship engine room, leaving the ship helpless in pirate waters north of the Seychelles.

So before all the cruise ships sink to the bottom of the deep blue sea or are taken over by pirates (arrrgh!!) I thought I should post some cruise ship pictures. Such times may be but a memory if things continue in the industry.

I replaced the old header photos with a dozen new ones. The headers will appear randomly on the site with each refresh of the page. Since refreshing the page is a bit of a crap shoot for bringing up pictures, I’ve posted them below.

Two cruise ships docked somewhere in the Caribbean

A frigate bird floats in the air looking for a morsel along the beach.

The "Lawn Club" -- real grass on the top deck of the Celebrity Solstice.

The harbor at St. Maarten - the Dutch side of the island

Going to heaven? No just boarding the ship from the Zodiacs near Walrus Island in Canada. Cruise Ship? not exactly. One probably ought to call it an "Expedition Ship."

A piece of driftwood on a local lake. I wonder if it could sink a cruise ship? Good thing they don't sail Crystal Cove Lake!

A pelican looking for a handout

A street vendor in the Casco Viejo District of Panama City

Joshua Tree blossoms after a March thunderstorm in the desert

A Tiger Swallowtail butterfly resting in some ivy in the Colorado mountains

A father and son playing chess in the library of the Norwegian Spirit

A turtle in the Sabine River on the Texas-Louisiana border

Granted, they’re not all cruise ship pictures. But variety is the spice of life.

New web site theme

Changing header photographs is a real pain with WordPress. I still haven’t found a great solution, but I did decide to switch themes. The new theme loads a random header photograph each time a page is brought up. One can also click on the picture to change it.

What’s missing is the text to explain the images. I would also like a bit more control over image selection. Right now the two options seem to be a static or random image. But for now, this theme (which is called twentyeleven) will work.



I was looking through my spam queue (making sure legitimate posts weren’t getting cast into e-gehenna where there is gnashing of tweets and the worm never dies) when I discovered my filter flagged the following reply to one of my posts as spam. Can you believe it?!?

Simply want to say your article is astonishing. The clearness in your post is simply spectacular and i can assume you are an expert on this subject. Well with your permission allow me to grab your rss feed to keep up to date with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please keep up the gratifying work.

Maybe I’ll have to look for a new spam filter.

p.s. Did you know, according to the SPAM Museum in Austin, Minnesota, that Nikita Krushchev credited SPAM with the survival of the WWII Russian Army? “Without SPAM, we wouldn’t have been able to feed our army.” So, what is it with the Russians and SPAM? (Pretty astonishing thought, eh?)