Saturday, September 29, 2007

Recommended Reading

"To Show He Loved His Country" by George Wallace (former poet laureate of Suffolk County, NY).

Here's the first few stanzas, to tempt you to enter the MySpace regions:
to show he loved his country he locked it up. he stored it in the dark. he watered it like a flower. he protected it with a dagger and a pistol.

to show he loved his country he sent himself secret messages. he dressed himself completely in white. he cursed like a freedom fighter. he wrapped his shit in cellophane.

he was a book of saints. he spoke in tongues. he was morse code. he was a pyramid of masonic longing.

This Is Post 1958

This is post 1958, of a blog which began in April 2003. The nature of this space has changed over the years, from the "I Hate Shrub Show" to a place to indulge my religious obsession, to (lately) a space which has been relatively neglected over the past year.

That neglect has been primarily due to my focus on my "Project 365" blog, Jonah 365. As of today, there are 259 entries on that space that might have appeared here if I had not chosen to set up a separate blog for the goal of posting a verbal or visual image a day.

So here's the point. I'm just 42 entries away from number 2000 on this space. Seems an occasion for celebration. That represents a lot of writing, image editing and manipulation, and copying of striking quotes.

Your mission, should you chose to accept it, is to suggest an topic, idea, theme (etc) for the 2000th entry. Post it in the comments of this entry. I think this will be fun and challenging.

Idée d’jour

 I lost sight
  of the skylark.
— Yayu

Friday, September 28, 2007

Idée d’jour

You have your brush, you have your colors, you paint paradise, then in you go.
— Nikos Kazantzakis, poet and novelist (1883-1957)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Idée d’jour

What is beyond, is that which is also here.
— Ancient Indian Aphorism

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Idée d’jour

Peaches and plums don't talk, and yet the path is naturally made under their blossoms.
— Zen Commentary

Monday, September 24, 2007

Post-Communion Prayer

Eternal God, heavenly Father,
Today, we have made your offering.
Today, we became your children.
Today, we became your grandchildren.
We will live as you have taught us.
Your commandments we will follow.
You hear our prayers.
Watch over us. Stand as our defense.
Speak for our defense.
From the trees, there is beauty to us.
From the grass and herbs, there is beauty to us.
From the breeze, there is beauty to us.
From the passing rain, there is beauty to us.
From the passing thunder, there is beauty to us.
The dew will form all around us.
The corn pollen will form all around us.
Before there is beauty, behind there is beauty.
Walking in long life according to happiness,
It is completed in Beauty. It is completed in Beauty.
It is completed in Beauty. It is completed in Beauty. Amen.
This was the closing prayer at the dedication of the Oakerhater Episcopal Center in Watonga, Oklahoma. Photos are featured on this page, beginning at 261/365.

Native Profession of Faith

We believe in the Creator, the Great Spirit,
Maker of Mother Earth and Father Sky,
Creator of the seasons and of all living things.

We believe in Jesus of Nazareth, a man of God,
who lived with the courage of commitment,
who sacrificed life that the people may live,
for all people, for all ages, for us.

We believe in the Holy Spirit,
the action-love of the Great one and of Jesus,
who breaks down barriers between people
and empowers us to love one another.

We believe in the community
of committed and faith-filled people.
We believe it is our task
to be the salt of the earth
and the light of the world,
justice and peace-makers,
knowing that this calls us
to the sacrifice of the cross.
We believe in the power of the Great Spirit's presence
as it fills our hearts,
helping us to reach outward
in the Four Directions
To all people in need of healing.

We believe in a just world,
in equal rights for all.
We believe in resurrection,
and in a more full life
with the Creator in the world beyond.
We believe! Help our un-belief! Amen.
This was used at the dedication of the Oakerhater Episcopal Center in Watonga, Oklahoma. I think I prefer it to the traditional Nicene Creed.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Friday Five: Decluttering

This week's theme suggested by Sally.
  1. Are you a hoarder or a minimalist?
    Sadly, I am a hoarder. Padre was an object lesson in the danger of taking this to an extreme - he hoarded egg cartons, saying he might have a use for them. He was quite upset with me when I used one to mix watercolors.
       It would seem I have not learned from this extreme example. The oddest thing I have hoarded are plastic bags; these are not recyclable. There are a couple of agencies I could donate them to, but I haven't taken the action (yet). I also have an impressive collection of old magazines, though I'm working on culling those down.

  2. Name one important object (could be an heirloom) that you will never part with.
    Padre's guitar, which belonged to his father before him.
    Will's Guitar
    It's one of the first electric guitars, made sometime in the late 1930s. It has a nice tone, even unplugged.

  3. What is the oldest item in your closet? Does it still fit???
    To answer the implied question, there are a number of things in my closet which no longer fit. Culling those is also on my to-do list. Probably the oldest is a suit jacket.

  4. Yard sales- love 'em or hate 'em?

    Hate is to strong a word. I don't seek them out. I will go to an occasional estate sale (which has the advantage of being indoors), and go to thrift shops once a month or so.

  5. Name a recycling habit you really want to get into.
    I've been recycling poetry on my MySpace page. Does that count? Relieving myself of the bulk of those plastic bags seems a worthy goal.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Idée d’jour

Monks recite the sutras,
Their voices a cacophony.

We make love; afterward our whispers
Mock the empty chanting.
— Ikkyu

Friday, September 14, 2007

Friday Five: Meetings, Meetings

This week's theme suggested by Reverend Mother.
  1. What's your view of meetings? Choose one or more, or make up your own:
    1. When they're good, they're good. I love the feeling of people working well together on a common goal.
    2. I don't seek them out, but I recognize them as a necessary part of life.
    3. The only good meeting is a canceled meeting.

    If you've heard me gritch about Vestry Meetings, you might have expected me to answer "c". The main problem with vestry meetings is that they have traditionally lasted late into the evening (sometimes as late as 10:30 or 11). One of the main reasons for this is the fact that the chair (a) thinks out loud; and (b) tends to get lost in his own digressions.
       This has improved over the past year, partly because the Vestry agreed to meet earlier in the evening.
       If we had an official parlimentarian, s/he would shudder at how poorly we follow the traditional Rules of Order. The most egregious example being the tendency to discuss issues without there being a motion on the floor. In my first year on the Vestry, I mentioned this to the chair. His response was that this was fairly common, and he didn't know a better way to conduct business.
       Other boards I have served on have committed the same "sin", so his point is well-taken. My vague recollection of Robert's Rules is that the intent is that committees and individuals develop ideas and motions that are brought to the central Board. This system, I think, is intended to keep the Board on task, and on topic.
       My experience, however, is that even when you have a committee system, board members still want to discuss the issue at length, and still want to offer off-the-cuff alternate resolutions.
       So, one can either be a stickler for the Rules, or strive to keep free-wheeling discussions on-point. The latter preserves a strong dynamism, which seems a worthy goal for a church board meeting.

  2. Do you like some amount of community building or conversation, or are you all business?
    Pre- and post-meeting visiting is desirable, and is often where the "real" business gets done - politicing and lobbying, if you will. The key point, in my mind, is to start and end in a timely manner - no more than five minutes late seems a worthy goal.

  3. How do you feel about leading meetings? Share any particular strengths or weaknesses you have in this area.
    I have been chair for a church group for the past two years. My goal has been to honor the agenda, and to listen more than I talk. Most days, I think, I achieve that goal.

  4. Have you ever participated in a virtual meeting? (conference call, IM, chat, etc.) What do you think of this format?
    My only experience is through attempting to conduct some business via e-mail. This works fairly well in terms of setting up meetings, confirming calendars, and introducing issues and concerns. It lacks the dynamics of a real-time meeting.
       I have also been involved in a couple of teleconferences. Those seemed to work fairly well, but I did miss the physical interactions.

  5. Share a story of a memorable meeting you attended.
    The first story that comes to mind is the time I worked up the nerve to confront our Dioscean bishop. This was near the end of my term on the relevant board, and I felt frustrated with what I felt to be a double-standard.
       The issue was the matter of churches paying their assesment (sort of a tithe churches make to the Diocese). The bishop was firm in saying that churches that could not pay their assesment, or make arrangements to be forgiven for not paying their full assesment, be changed from parish to mission status.
       The difference between parish and mission is whether a church is self-supporting: a parish is; a mission receives assistance from the Diocese. In the bishop's view, failure to pay this assesment was a sign that a church could no longer be self-supporting.
       This topic never came up when discussing one of the two largest, and wealthiest, churches in our diocese. This church had chosen not to pay any assesment because it did not agree with particular issues - primarily women in the ordained ministry, and the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.
       I kind of enjoyed the irony of "All Saints and Cadilacs" being "demoted" to mission status. The bishop's approach was pastoral: he felt it was more important to keep this church in the family, rather than push them out.
       I might argue that the church in question has only been nominally part of the family, but I see his point (in retrospect).

Abbey's Optimism

In a comment on yesterday's quote, Brother Dave rightly points out that I did not include the full quote. I only copied the bit that amused me, and reflected some of the discouragement I feel. I'll explain in a moment.

First, this is how Edward Abbey expressed the same thought in a letter/interview with Karen Evans (18 June 1984):
I am a pessimist in the short run, by which I mean the next fifty or maybe a hundred years. In that brief interval it seems quite probable that too many of us humans, crawling over one another for living space and sustenance, will make the earth an extremely unpleasant planet on which to live. And this quite aside from the possibility of a nuclear war.

In the long run, I am an optimist. Within a century, I believe and hope, there will be a drastic reduction in the human population (as has happened before), and that will make possible a free and open society for our surviving descendants, a return to a more intimate and tolerant relationship to the natural world, and an advance toward ... a civilized form of human society ... [elided for space].
This clarification shows that Abbey truly was an optimist: he assumed we would have surviving descendants.

I'm not so optimistic. I believe the damage we've done the world is nigh irreversible. Our "progress" goes forward unchecked. Most people in the industrialized world are too fond of their creature comforts. We prefer not to consider the consequences of our gas burning cars, or the coal that produces most of our electricity.

The damage to the ecosystem is global. People in Third World nations could possibly have survived if Industrial Society had spontaneously combusted in 1984; I'm not sure they have another fifty years to wait. Many scientists suggest that if pollution stopped today, it would take almost that long to reverse global warming.

This comes back to an off-hand comment I made over a year ago: humanity is a cancer on the face of the earth. What Abbey writes in another letter concerning cancer, seems a fit description of humans: "Delighting in nothing but multiplication, cancer ends by destroying both its host and itself."

Yes, I am feeling especially misanthropic and depressed this season. Why do you ask?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Idée d’jour

In the long-range view, I am an optimist: I think that the greed and stupidity of industrial culture will save us from ourselves by self-destruction.
— Edward Abbey, letter to George Sessions, PhD, Aug. 30, 1979
from Orion, July/August 2006, pg 49

Monday, September 10, 2007

Idée d’jour

A single stroke of the prayer bell wakes me.
Does it also awaken my soul?
— Tu Fu

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Idée d’jour

The turnip farmer
  points the way
   with a turnip.
— Issa

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Idée d’jour

It is by the goodness of God that in our country we have those three unspeakably precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence never to practice either of them.
— Mark Twain, author and humorist (1835-1910)

Monday, September 03, 2007

Idée d’jour

What I know of the divine sciences and of Holy Scripture I learned in woods and fields, by prayer and meditation. I have had no other masters than the beeches and oaks.
— St. Bernard of Clairvaux
I can easily imagine Henry David Thoreau making this statement. It is somewhat surprising to read it from a saint of the Christian tradition.

However, St. Augustine spoke of there being two books of scripture, The Bible and Nature. This was also a view of the Celtic Christians. Both Augustine and the Celts acknowledged one could learn as much about God from God's creation as from the Book of Books.

Incidentally, this is the Bernard for whom the rescue dog was named.