Monday, February 1, 2016

of polls, pols, coloring books, and squirrels

I don't know whether to laugh or cry. I think fear is one of my reactions. But not the same set of fears that are driving the people that have me praying for our country.  I've been thinking about a blog post for a few days but have been too under the weather to have the energy. Not that I'm over it. But now this: CNN: Why I'm voting for Donald Trump. Did not watch the videos. Just couldn't. (And I'm not watching the Iowa caucus returns tonight.) But I did read the article.

Fear always plays into politics - always has, always will.
This started before the cavemen, I'm sure.

And I know I know people who are thinking just exactly those things. And will vote for him. That frightens me more than the reality of potential terrorist attacks, which I've accepted as a possibility since 9/11 made me think of it. The homegrown variety is still the most dangerous, and statistically speaking, chances are it will be a white man who identifies as Christian. Can. Not. Comprehend. That. Last. Part. I think we must be reading different Bibles.

Also, the racism.

The racism.

I've been wanting to write a post on that. Several posts, actually. And I have no time to write something thoughtful. I need to find it, somehow. But, oh, the racism. (And people try to tell me this is a post-racial society? Ha. First, Flint. You can stop there. Or just do a few searches on Twitter. It's jaw-dropping.)

I read a BBC article a while back that seems to echo some of my thoughts, though through a different lens.  It opens with an excellent question: Is there a greater democratic show on earth than the American presidential election?

Key word: show. It's like a circus crossed with a slow-motion train wreck. Reminds me of the time I was on the way home from school riding in a friend's car. Creeping along the icy road not far from the high school's exit, we came across another student's car, which had slid off the road, and that of yet another group of students who had slid in the same spot right into the first. Then it was our turn. The steering wheel turned, and the car did not. As we frantically waved our friends out of the way (successfully! whew...), we watched ourselves slide slowly right into those two cars.  If you made these clown cars and waved flags, that might closely approximate what I see happening here. At least we noticed we were sliding and waved our friends out of our path.

The Physics of Clown Cars

A quote from "The Physics of Clown Cars" seems apt here:

However, how many clowns go in is a mix of Clown Politics (CP), Clown Size (CS), Clown Flexibility (CF), General Survivability (GS), and the critical Maximum Clown Hilarity (MCH) quotient.
Unfortunately, and contrary  to accepted folklore, clowns need to breathe. Discomfort is to be anticipated, but General Sur­vivability demands some consideration of  physiological needs. 

Just consider the potential application for a moment.

best title: the braggadocious billionaire

Back to the BBC:
The problem is that the greatest democratic show on earth also doubles as the most outlandish.
For international onlookers, it can seem freakish and bizarre: a long-running farce populated by cartoonish characters, which works as entertainment but is a poor advertisement for American democracy.
Though presidential elections easily satisfy most theatrical requirements, do they meet the needs of a well-functioning democracy?                

Theatrical requirements may be met on some grounds. I gather this election cycle is the hottest topic on Facebook. Thank God I have friends who don't rant on Facebook. (If I'm ranting, I apologize - but at least this isn't hate speech in your Facebook feed, which some of my friends apparently get.) I have friends at the far ends of the spectrum - both ends - and so I appreciate it even more. I intend to keep all of them. But it's just as well I don't spend too much time on Facebook. Even better that I don't watch television when I'm not on holiday with my family (and that tends to be HGTV). What is obvious to me from the articles I've read - and to you who probably watch television and could give me quotes - politics is going from nasty to nastier.  That crossed my mind during Sunday's reading from Galatians (5:13-25).

For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” If, however, you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.

So I am praying. Truthfully, prayer for our country has been pretty low on my priority list. I say to myself, well, it could be worse. We could be having elections like those in Haiti, which continue to get more complicated and eye-crossing from day to day. I did learn to appreciate the way things work here when I lived in a place where they didn't. But that's not much of a comparison. (Oh, and PLEASE pray for Haiti and their current election dilemma - it's awful, and it makes writing this post feel whiny just thinking of it. Still writing it, though.)

(do not have source for this - my apologies)


Yes. Yes, I do prefer squirrels and art supplies to politics. It's time, however, for me to commit to attending to prayer for our country and specifically for our elections. 

Maybe we should all pay more attention. Not to the show. Less there. More attention to the content, the voter turnout, and prayer for the process, the outcome, the candidates, the voters, and all whose lives will be most heavily impacted by the decisions we make collectively this year. 

the mad dash to the top

Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on all of us sinners.

Friday, January 8, 2016

psalm verses for an election year

This morning's psalm at the Eucharist seemed particularly appropriate. We're in election season in the US and in Haiti, as well as in other countries around the world. It seems to me that our leadership, current and potential, needs all the prayers it can get. There is certainly no lack of scripture from which to choose, but since this is in today's lectionary, I share it with you. May God guide our choices and bless our leaders with a spirit of peace, wisdom, justice, and compassion.

Psalm 72    

1 Give the King your justice, O God, *
    and your righteousness to the King's son;

2 That he may rule your people righteously *
    and the poor with justice.

3 That the mountains may bring prosperity to the people, *
    and the little hills bring righteousness.

4 He shall defend the needy among the people; *
    he shall rescue the poor and crush the oppressor.

Amen. May it be so.

one of the magi figurines, St. John's, Hingham, MA

And may all kings, queens, presidents, prime ministers, members of congress, town council reps, judges - any and all in authority - remember who, in the end, is the real Lord and King.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

a camel's epiphany

Found something wonderful. Must share.  It's from a literature blog by Dr. Robin Bates. In this post, he shares a poem of his father's, written from the point of view of one of the magi's camels. He introduces it with a reflection, part of which I'm sharing here (follow the link at the bottom to read the rest).

"I like it here
I’m staying with them
As I wanted to stay
In Bethlehem"
camel from St. John's, Hingham

Regardless of where we live and what we do, we can live in love and service.  That, the camel tells us, is how Christ’s love manifests itself in the world. 

There is an implied criticism in the poem of the kings for not having stuck it out with the Christ child–that’s why the camel has to slip away–so perhaps the poem does echo Eliot’s.  We once were in touch with divinity before returning to our normal lives.   Then again, as I said, we all of us lose the vision and must rediscover it.  Again and again. You’ll probably recognize the Biblical allusion in the final stanza but, in case you don’t, it’s Jesus’ assertion (Matthew 19:24) that “it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of Heaven.” “Effendi” is Arabic for “Master.”

Fable of the Third Christmas Camel
By Scott Bates
(Editor’s note: The following poetic fragment, evidently an overlooked scrap of the Dead Sea Scrolls, was recently discovered near Jerusalem, stuck to the bottom of an empty bagel can. We offer here an approximate translation into modern English of this invaluable historical document.)
I went all the way
But on the return trip
I gave the caravan
The slip
One desert night
Quit Balthazar
With all his frankincense
And myrrh
And headed out
Across the sand
It was dawn when I came
To this strange land
And found this family
Living here
Without a camel
Because they were poor
So I stayed with them
Carried their hides
Gave all the kids
Free camel rides
Sat with the baby
Worked with the man
Sang them ballads
Of Ispahan
Carried the water
Pulled the plow
Loved my neighbor
Who was a cow
I like it here
I’m staying with them
As I wanted to stay
In Bethlehem
With that other
Family I knew
Which proves Effendi
That passing through
The eye of a needle
Is an easier thing
For a camel
Than a king
Epiphany from a Camel's Point of View

three kings - music for the Epiphany

Sunday, January 3, 2016

interesting MA event - Meet a Muslim Day

Look at this! I wish I could go. but between obligations and the distance, I don't think it's going to work. I will console myself by remembering that I have been on a couple of mosque tours before, including one of the new mosque in Roxbury near the old convent. Now this is the way to work for peace and mutual understanding. If you are near Worcester, MA, go!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Holy Name

At the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow.
Every tongue confess him King of Glory now!
'Tis the Father's pleasure we should call him Lord
Who from the beginning was the mighty Word.

Eternal Father, you gave to your incarnate Son the holy name of Jesus to be the sign of our salvation: Plant in every heart, we pray, the love of him who is the Savior of the world, our Lord Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
- Collect for The Holy Name - Book of Common Prayer 1979, p. 213.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Advent music

I'm working on the music for Advent Lessons and Carols at St. John's, Newtonville on Sunday, December 13 at 4PM. I haven't seen it advertised yet, or I'd include the link, but I'm sure it will be posted somewhere soon if you want more information.

Meanwhile, I thought I'd share with you videos of some of the music we'll be doing in case you would like to sing along with me as I practice. It may also be that you, too, would find it a good way to enter into Advent prayer. (We will also be doing an arrangement of the hymn posted here earlier.)

Adam Lay Ybounden (Boris Ord) - King's College Cambridge

Stanley Vann: There is a flow'r sprung of a tree

A song of peace, Charles Villiers Stanford