Friday, December 25, 2015

Strengthen the weak hands...

...and make firm the feeble knees.
Say to those who have an anxious heart,
'Be strong; fear not!
Behold, your God will come with vengeance,
with the recompense of God.
He will come and save you.'

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
then shall the lame man leap like a deer,
and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.

For waters break forth in the wilderness,
and streams in the desert;
the burning sand shall become a pool,
and the thirsty ground springs of water

-- Isaiah 35: 3-7a

A voice cries:
'In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

Every valley shall be lifted up.
and every mountain and hill made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.

And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all flesh shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.'

--Isaiah 40: 3-5

So they said to him, 'Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?' He said, 'I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, "Make straight the way of the Lord," as the prophet Isaiah said.'

-- John 1:22,23

"As dry leaves which before the wild hurricane fly...

When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky..."

Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Nuances of Truth-telling

Teetering between Cyncism/Irony and Hyper-Sentimentality....

This author touches on a couple of topics -- some gems here for the social media age:

-- "To live ironically is to hide in public."

-- How we manufacture sentiment and nostalgia.

Both are deceptions.

[Less we react so much against irony that we blather our every heartfelt feeling, dark secret, and deepest motive, let us affirm this is not a call to publicly navel gaze or broadcast every feeling on social media. It is a call to authenticity instead of irony. A call to real-ness over cool-ness.]

How We Instagrammed Away Our Feelings

Friday, December 11, 2015

Prayers for the People (40, 41)

40. For Knowledge of God's Creation

Almighty and everlasting God, you made the universe with
all its marvelous order, its atoms, worlds, and galaxies, and
the infinite complexity of living creatures: Grant that, as we
probe the mysteries of your creation, we may come to know
you more truly, and more surely fulfill our role in your
eternal purpose; in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

41. For the [Care] of Natural Resources

Almighty God, in giving us dominion over things on earth,
you made us fellow workers in your creation: Give us wisdom
and reverence so to use the resources of nature, that no one
may suffer from our abuse of them, and that generations yet
to come may continue to praise you for your bounty; through
Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

-- Adapted from the Online Book of Common Prayer --

"No one had ever lived with so many choices before."

This is an article about the modern, middle-class, western woman (not the poor woman or the rich woman or the 3rd world woman) and the radical transformation of life for her in the 20th century. 

One might call it "Decter's Last Stand."

"A quiet look around would have told her and anybody else who actually cared about her that her life had undergone a revolutionary change. For one thing, she was being positively beset by new freedoms. Before marriage, she was now free to pursue an education of her choosing or not, to take a job or pursue a career, to engage in a kind of sample mating, and to marry or not when and as she saw fit. And though there of course remained social pressure on her to marry, if she did not, she was no longer consigned to playing the maiden aunt.
Once married, she was now free to continue her career or give it up, remain married or change her mind about her choice of husband, have a child or not, and at a time and place of her choosing. She could also now look forward to being vigorous and attractive well past what was once middle age, thanks to both birth control and the mechanization of housework—indeed, there was by now an ever higher statistical probability that she would end up a still-healthy widow. She had, in short, become the most transformingly advantaged beneficiary of modern technology, above all, modern medical technology.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Prayers for the People (39)

39. For those who Influence Public Opinion

Almighty God, you proclaim your truth in every age by many

voices: Direct, in our time, we pray, those who speak where
many listen and write what many read; that they may do their
part in making the heart of this people wise, its mind sound, and
its will righteous; to the honor of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

--Book of Common Prayer,

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Prayers for the People (69)

69. On Sunday

O God our King, by the resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ
on the first day of the week, you conquered sin, put death to
flight, and gave us the hope of everlasting life: Redeem all
our days by this victory; forgive our sins, banish our fears,
make us bold to praise you and to do your will; and steel us
to wait for the consummation of your kingdom on the last 
great Day; 
through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

-- Book of Common Prayer.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Dog Diaries

Kermit's Confidences:

My name is Kermit the Dog. I am nine months old. My first owner named me after a muppet. I came to live with my new owners after that first lady said I was a little too much for her.

I am a big, black puppy. I love my new family very much. I love Fall very much. I love to eat the acorns very much. They are little balls rolling all over the land. They make me get a little sick inside, but I still like them very much. I like to chase the leaves in the street very much. It is fun to chase them. They are running away from me, but I will catch them! My mommy has to run with me after the leaves, because I am so fast and strong. I know she likes that exercise very much.

I love my family very much, and I know what they like for me to do: they like for me to share their things. I know they want to share things with me, but they forget. They forget to share, so I take some things. Like bread loaves, cheese, and potatoes. I took a big raw potato the other day and ate it. I like potatoes and things I find on the counter very much. Also I ate a tube of cortizone cream. The people in my family forget to share, so I help them by getting the things off the counter. The little dog likes me then. I share the things from the counter with him.

I like to chew things very much. I like to chew things that remind me of my family. I like to chew socks and shoes very much. I know they leave them out for me to taste, so that I won't forget them while they are at the store. One time I ate a white sock whole. But it made me feel a little sick inside my tummy. Do not worry, right after I swallowed it, I gave it back to mommy, so they could still use it. Mommy didn't want to use it anymore.

When I am outside, I like to be inside. And when I am inside, I like to be outside. I like all the sides. I wish I could be on all the sides at once.

I like the little, grouchy dog, named Cowboy, very much. He does not like me very much. But that is ok because I will keep trying to be friends. He does not like for me to step on him by accident, because I have a big paw. So I tell him I am very sorry by starting a fun game of chase. I know he would like to chase me when I take his red panda toy. It is so fun for us to chase each other. He does like to chase me very much. He does like to bark at me sometimes. I like him very much. He puts all the chewies under the bed. Does he know I do not fit under the bed? One day we will be good friends.

Cowboy's Confidences:

Let's kill the big dog.

No one needs to know.

Kermit's Confidences:

I like to jump on people very much. After I jump on many people mommy puts me in the big crate with a treat to "just quiet down." I don't mind the crate. Sometimes I go in there by myself to quiet down. Sometimes I need to quiet down. Mommy helps me quiet down. It is hard to quiet down.

I am afraid of getting in our car. But when I am already in our car, I like it there very much. I like to look out the window very much. I feel very sad when my people get out of our car for their sports. They leave us and I feel sad, and so I cry out loud for awhile. It is sad that they would leave our car. Why would they leave our car?

I like to rest on the cool floor by mommy and put my head on her feet. I like her feet very much. I don't mind that her feet are very bumpy under my head. I just like to be near my mommy. I like my whole family very much.

Cowboy's Confidences:

He must perish in flames.

Prayers for the People (69)

Two days ago I wrote my dad, a Navy veteran, a note. I thanked him for his service to our country throughout modern history -- he was in the Navy during Vietnam and the rest of the Cold War, and, after retiring, worked in anti-terrorism. He was part of three great western conflicts, and numerous small ones (though no conflict is truly small to those who are in it). 

From time to time, a culture corporately exhales and says, "Ah, it is over." But then the next ferocious enemy arises. It hunts at us with a different set of teeth and claws, but with the same spirit. Perhaps it hunts us with weapons, or intrigue, or guerrilla warfare, or terror -- or even (especially?) ideas.

A bloody pageant of cruelty and injustice is being played out around the world and in our own country, but Christians, of all people, must never be surprised. 

And along with terror and injustice always comes great stories of boldness, bravery, clarity. We will soon hear stories of people who were very brave, who resisted, who tended the hurting, who shared the gospel in word and deed.

Today after the events on Paris, which are the most recent part of a sustained effort to terrorize around the world, I want to skip ahead in the Book of Common Prayer to this prayer, number 69, entitled "On Sunday."

69. On Sunday

O God our King, by the resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ
on the first day of the week, you conquered sin, put death to
flight, and gave us the hope of everlasting life: Redeem all
our days by this victory; forgive our sins, banish our fears,
make us bold to praise you and to do your will; and steel us
to wait for the consummation of your kingdom on the last
great Day; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Prayers for the People (38)

38. For the Right Use of God's Gifts

Almighty God, whose loving hand hath given us all that we
possess: Grant us grace that we may honor thee with our
substance, and, remembering the account which we must one
day give, may be faithful stewards of thy bounty, through
Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

--Book of Common Prayer 

(available at

Lisitsa plays Liszt

Hungarian Rhapsody #2

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Prayers for the People (36, 37)

36. For the Oppressed

Look with pity, O heavenly Father, upon the people in this
land who live with injustice, terror, disease, and death as
their constant companions. Have mercy upon us. Help us to
eliminate our cruelty to these our neighbors. Strengthen those
who spend their lives establishing equal protection of the law
and equal opportunities for all. And grant that every one of
us may enjoy a fair portion of the riches of this land; through
Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

37. For Prisons and Correctional Institutions

Lord Jesus, for our sake you were condemned as a criminal:
Visit our jails and prisons with your pity and judgment.
Remember all prisoners, and bring the guilty to repentance
and amendment of life according to your will, and give them
hope for their future. When any are held unjustly, bring them
release; forgive us, and teach us to improve our justice.
Remember those who work in these institutions; keep them
humane and compassionate; and save them from becoming
brutal or callous. And since what we do for those in prison,
O Lord, we do for you, constrain us to improve their lot. All
this we ask for your mercy's sake. Amen.

--Book of Common Prayer

What heart heard of, ghost guessed

Poems for Fall

Spring and Fall

Gerard Manley Hopkins

to a young child
Márgarét, áre you gríeving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leáves like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! ás the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you wíll weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sórrow’s spríngs áre the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It ís the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.

(thanks to poetry foundation website)

Joy's that Sting
CS Lewis

"Oh doe not die," says Donne, "for I shall hate 
All women so." How false this sentence rings. 
Women? But in a life made desolate 
It is the joys once shared that have the stings. 

To take the old walks alone, or not at all, 
To order one pint where I ordered two, 
To think of, and then not make, the small 
Time-honoured joke (senseless to all but you); 

To laugh (oh, one'll laugh), to talk upon 
Themes that we talked upon when you were there, 
To make some poor pretence of going on, 
Be kind to one's old friends, and seem to care, 

While no one (O God) through the years will say 
The simplest, common word in just your way.

(thanks to conquering poet/blogspot)

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

"Valorizing the trades" (once more)

(to quote Camille Paglia.)

CityLab article, Bachelor of Arts in fine building trades in Charleston, South Carolina.
(As an aside, Joe Riley has been the mayor of Charleston since before I was in high school there in the '80s.)

Yestermorrow Design/Build School

List of Schools (and resources) from PBS's The Woodwright's Shop

Dimming of the Day

A beautiful classic by Richard Thompson

Dimming of the Day 

This old house is falling down around my ears
I'm drowning in a river of my tears
When all my will is gone you hold me sway
I need you at the dimming of the day

You pulled me like the moon pulls on the tide
You know just where I keep my better side

What days have come to keep us far apart
A broken promise or a broken heart
Now all the bonny birds have wheeled away
I need you at the dimming of the day

Come the night you're only what I want
Come the night you could be my confidant

I see you on the street in company
Why don't you come and ease your mind with me
I'm living for the night we steal away
I need you at the dimming of the day

I need you at the dimming of the day

Allison Krauss and Union Station

The Corrs

L&M (adorable young ladies)

Bonnie Raitt and Richard Thompson

And the original: Richard and Linda Thompson 

Monday, November 9, 2015

Prayers for the People (35)

35. For the Poor and the Neglected

Almighty and most merciful God, we remember before you
all poor and neglected persons whom it would be easy for us
to forget: the homeless and the destitute, the old and the sick,
and all who have none to care for them. Help us to heal those
who are broken in body or spirit, and to turn their sorrow
into joy. Grant this, Father, for the love of your Son, who for
our sake became poor, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

-- Online Book of Common Prayer

See -- great resource

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

What Frame and Hafeman Said

Message of the Bible in one sentence

In my opinion, Hafeman and Frame win because man and his redemption are only part of the story. (And also because "brevity is the soul of wit.") God's being and glorious acts are the whole story; man and his troublings and troubles are part of it.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Prayers for the People (33, 34)

33. For Cities

Heavenly Father, in your Word you have given us a vision of
that holy City to which the nations of the world bring their
glory: Behold and visit, we pray, the cities of the earth.
Renew the ties of mutual regard which form our civic life.
Send us honest and able leaders. Enable us to eliminate
poverty, prejudice, and oppression, that peace may prevail
with righteousness, and justice with order, and that men and
women from different cultures and with differing talents may
find with one another the fulfillment of their humanity;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

34. For Towns and Rural Areas

Lord Christ, when you came among us, you proclaimed the
kingdom of God in villages, towns, and lonely places: Grant
that your presence and power may be known throughout this
land. Have mercy upon all of us who live and work in rural
areas; and grant that all the people
of our nation may give thanks to you for food and drink and
all other bodily necessities of life, respect those who labor to
produce them, and honor the land and the water from which
these good things come. All this we ask in your holy Name.

-- copied and adapted from the Book of Common Prayer

Flotsam and Jetsam

Huge crack develops in Wyoming visible in earth in week(s) due to water saturation (CBS Denver)

Death of Ken Taylor, brave Canadian diplomat who rescued American's during Iranian hostage crisis (LA Times) (Trust Hollywood to never tamper with a good story -- ahem)

One useful perspective on packing Samaritan's Purse Christmas shoeboxes for kids in other cultures -- from missionary who is there when they are received. (blog)

Two liberal writers every conservative should read (Washington Examiner).
And Galston's article on poverty. The Poverty Cure (WSJ)

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Prayers for the People (32)

Back again after hiatus! 

32. For the Good Use of Leisure

O God, in the course of this busy life, give us times of
refreshment and peace; and grant that we may so use our
leisure to rebuild our bodies and renew our minds, that our
spirits may be opened to the goodness of your creation;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

-- Book of Common Prayer

Hipsters in Winter

Heard him for the first time today. Love this song and sound from Rocky Votolato. 

Lyrics (from MetroLyrics)

Please slow it down
There's a secret magic past world
That you only notice when you're looking back at it
And all I wanna do is turn around

I'm going down to sleep
On the bottom of the ocean
'Cause I couldn't let go of the water
At the setting sun

Passing white daisies, taking turns
Close the door, walk to the street
Catching raindrops on your tongue and for a minute it all stops
But it won't last man, just a passing moment gone

Please slow it down
Theres a secret place that I know
If I could a dig a grave, Id then climb underground for good
And all I wanna do is turn around

I'm going down to sleep
On the bottom of the ocean
'Cause I couldn't let go of the water
At the setting sun

Passing white daisies, taking turns
All those evenings on the back deck of our first apartment
They meant everything but the wind just carried them off
And you cant go back now, just a passing moment gone

Please slow it down
Theres a secret magic past world
That you only notice when you're looking back at it
And all I wanna do is turn around

I'm going down to sleep
On the bottom of the ocean
'Cause I couldn't let go of the water
At the setting sun
'Cause I couldn't let go of the passing moment gone

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Flotsam and jetsam

The Muppet Show: here your viewing pleasure at Tales from Shangri-La, is a bunch of classic Swedish Chef skits all in a row (with a serendipitous cameo of the sardonic balcony guys, Statler and Waldorf)!

Swedish Chef Culinary Delights

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Prayers for the People (31)

A reminder that at points in the BoCP we are invited to be specific in our prayers. As you pray these prayers, do elaborate with the names of particular entities to which the prayer may especially pertain -- family, friends, and neighbors, states, governments, school colleges, students, teachers, etc.

31. For Schools and Colleges

O Eternal God, bless all schools, colleges, and universities, that they may be lively centers for
sound learning, new discovery, and the pursuit of wisdom;
and grant that those who teach and those who learn may find
you to be the source of all truth; through Jesus Christ our
Lord. Amen.

--Book of Common Prayer

Ecumenicism: Accommodation and Orthodoxy

Here in First Things, Dr. Scott Redd shares a charitable and nuanced approach to ecumenicism in light of a letter from Pope Francis to evangelicals. Redd invites believers to have a respectful and truthful dialogue about what both unites and divides Catholics, Protestants, and Orthodox.

Link to First Things article

Here's an outquote that hits at the crux:
In the letter, Francis also cites recent, public instances of Christian persecution around the world and the impact they have had on his understanding of Church unity. “The one that persecutes does not make a mistake, he doesn't ask if they are Catholic, Evangelical, Orthodox. . . . They are Christians, followers of Jesus Christ, and that is enough. This blood challenges us,” he writes. Indeed it does. The global plight of the Christian in the twenty first century ought to unify those who follow Christ and seek to proclaim his gospel in word and deed.
This issue also raises the question of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ and to share in that, for lack of a better word, communion in which the church is united in his suffering. Not all who share in his suffering, for instance, can share in the same sacramental table, due to different understandings of the meaning of Christ's presence at the table or altar. Similarly, not all of those targeted by ISIS or North Korea agree about the meaning of the church or the content of the gospel we proclaim. All religious persecution is horrific and wrong, but we do not define the community of faith by those whom the persecutor victimizes. How ought we to think about other persecuted groups who hold to a heretical understanding of the incarnation or the deity of Christ? We are united with them in their humanity, but are they Christ's church?
These questions are not without significance, touching on the person of Christ and the nature of faith, and the answers will only come from an engaged discussion of the authority of Scripture, the historical witness of the church, and the clarity with which the councils, creeds, and confessions give expression to the teaching of the Bible. These discussions can get into the weeds quickly, to be sure, but they are nevertheless crucial to moving toward meaningful unity. True healing comes once the illness is diagnosed.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

"A Most Unlikely Saint"

My friend sent me this rollicking, well-crafted description of G.K. Chesterton's works in The Atlantic.

A Most Unlikely Saint

God covenants with us as Father and King

A short description of God as a royal Father, from my brother, Scott Redd, here featured on Third Millennium's website.

God Our Father

Thursday, October 8, 2015

When Suffering Is Bracing

Paul wrote a letter during his imprisonment in Rome to the church at Philippi which described the bracing effect of his suffering on the moral constitution of believers.

In his letter to the Philippians, Paul wrote:

"I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear." (my emphasis)

Paul, not content with the suffering he'd already endured, continued his missionary journeys after leaving this imprisonment. Far from prudently bowing out of danger, he continued preaching the gospel and meeting with believers even though his name and person were apparently well-known throughout the imperial guard (and "all the rest," also -- whoever that means) of the most powerful nation on earth, and one known for it's ruthlessness and cruelty. Imprudent behavior, to say the least. Perhaps his protege, Timothy, was now well-known to the authorities, as well. (One of my parents' former pastors used to say at infant baptisms -- I paraphrase: "Do you love God enough to encourage your children if they choose to do mission work in dangerous places far away?")

In this passage Paul is describing how God prepares believers to be bold by putting the suffering of the faithful on display.

I used to think I was a brave person. But as I got older, I found out that I am really quite a fearful person. As 21st Century Christians, we have recently been given opportunities to have our faith strengthened and our hearts emboldened through the terrible pageant in the media of believers being publicly martyred and tortured for their faith throughout the Middle East, on the shores of the Mediterranean, in Africa, and even in a classroom in Oregon. And we have the bracing visual display of believers in Charleston demonstrating a supernatural, immediate forgiveness of an attacker.

"Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ....not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have."

What is that conflict between? The Love and Light and Truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ for God's glory (and man's sake) -- against Darkness, Hate, and Lies.

And it is my prayer that you love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God."

How do we engage? "Not with swords loud clashing." But with the whole armor of God -- weapons of Light. Here's Paul again, in a different letter from jail (courtesy of Bible Gateway).

Ephesians 6:10-20 10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God,so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powersof this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 19 Pray also for me,that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
In our flesh we think of suffering, imprisonment, and death as ways the gospel is halted, stymied, blocked, diminished. But Paul and the Scriptures see things differently, and a now-infamous Paul expresses that here. And goes on to keep preaching.

Kansas and Oz, a "Leap" and a "Yearning"

"Words make you think. Music makes you feel. A song makes you feel a thought." E.Y. Harburg

5 Minutes from PBS celebrating the anniversary of "Over the Rainbow"

Prayers for the People (30)

30. For the Unemployed

Heavenly Father, we remember before you those who suffer want and anxiety from lack of work. Guide the people of this land so to use our public and private wealth that all may find suitable and fulfilling employment, and receive just payment for their labor; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

-Book of Common Prayer p 824

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Prayers for the People (29)

29. For Agriculture

Almighty God, we thank you for making the earth fruitful, so that it might produce what is needed for life: Bless those who work in the fields; give us seasonable weather; and grant that we may all share in the fruits of the earth, rejoicing in your goodness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

-Book of Common Prayer, p 824

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Prayers for the People (28)

28. In Times of Conflict

O God, you have bound us together in a common life. Help us, in the midst of our struggles for justice and truth, to confront one another without hatred or bitterness, and to work together with mutual forbearance and respect; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

-The Book of Common Prayer, p 824

Monday, October 5, 2015

What Is a Mum?

One of the good things about moving many times is getting to know lots of places a little more "from the inside." You can get past the official, Chamber of Commerce tourist presentation of a town and get to know the people and what they do every day, their little traditions and unspoken values and stylings.

Without further ado:

Have you ever seen a corsage so big, the petite little high school girl has to hang it on straps around her neck while she wears it to school all day? Maybe this corsage has a back piece to help hold it on/balance the weight? In fact, maybe her homecoming date has to carry it for part of the school day to help take the load off? And perhaps her date's mom or sister made it for her after consulting about her interests and activities?

I wanted to attach a few articles about a Texas tradition which was totally new to me when we moved here first -- the tradition of the Homecoming Mum. It's a purely Texas Thing that has spilled over into some parts of border states Oklahoma and Louisiana.

When you first encounter Homecoming Mums in Kroger or Michaels, you can't imagine what you are looking at. What on earth is that gaudy wall of fake flowers, teddy bears, and metallic streamers for? Then someone explains...but you still feel a little incredulous. Would high school girls really wear that? (And Texas natives, likewise, are incredulous that you don't know about Homecoming Mums.)

However, before you read the below articles and say, "My hometown doesn't do anything crazy like that" -- a word of caution. This coming summer will be my 25th move in 44 years (30th move, if you count the 3-6 month stints), and I promise you that your hometown DOES do at least one crazy thing -- or have at least one crazy point of view -- or at least one very odd but understood-among-the-locals tradition. You just don't see it because you grew up there.

And because your hometown isn't in Texas, it isn't both BIG and crazy.

12 Things Non-Texans Need to Know about Homecoming Mums

This article includes a picture of an original midcentury mum:
Homecoming Mums: A Texas Tradition

Finally: some pics of really over-the-top ones: Massive Mums

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Prayers for the People (27)

27. For Social Justice

Grant, O God, that your holy and life-giving Spirit may so move every human heart and especially the hearts of the people of this land, that barriers which divide us may crumble, suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease; that our divisions being healed, we may live in justice and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Prayers for the People (26)

26. For those who suffer for the sake of Conscience

O God, our Father, whose Son forgave his enemies while he was suffering shame and death: Strengthen those who suffer for the sake of conscience; when they are accused, save them from speaking in hate; when they are rejected, save them from bitterness; when they are imprisoned, save them from despair; and to us your servants, give grace to respect their witness and discern the truth, that our society may be cleansed and strengthened. This we ask for the sake of Jesus Christ, our merciful and righteous Judge. Amen.

--The Book of Common Prayer, p 823

Friday, October 2, 2015

Flotsam and Jetsam: Carpool In the Texas Suburbs

A few car games for you to play even if you are alone in your car:

Mangle the Song Lyrics Game

We all know about Taylor Swift's "Starbucks lovers." I've been known to mangle lots of song lyrics while singing loudly in my car. Let's play "Mangle The Song Lyrics with Anne."  Can you guess what songs these are?

Song 1:

"Ain't it stormy to my soul?
Stormy just like jelly rolls.

Song 2:

"I'm not talkin' 'bout the linens.
And I don't want to change your life
But there's a warm wind blowin' the stars around
And I'd really love to see ya tonight."

What If Her Majesty Sang It? Game

As I am driving the miles down the Sam Rayburn Tollway to classes and lessons and appointments for the kids, it's fun to re-imagine the lyrics to 80's rock songs being spoken in the parlance of the Queen of England. Or Mary Poppins. Or some such person.

You can play this game even when the kids have friends in the car, as you need not speak the words aloud, and so the kids need not die of embarrassment.

Do you know the song Elizabeth II is speaking here?

"Look at those fellows. That is the way one does things.
One plays the guitar for the music television station.
No indeed, that isn't working. That is the way one ought to do things.
One gets one's money for doing nothing. One gets one's consorts for free."

Or this one?

"I've been shot through my heart,
And you are the one who is to blame.
Poppet, you give Love a questionable reputation."

Prayers for the People (25)

25. For those in the Armed Forces of our Country

Almighty God, we commend to your gracious care and keeping all the men and women of our armed forces at home and abroad. Defend them day by day with your heavenly grace; strengthen them in their trials and temptations; give them courage to face the perils which beset them; and grant them a sense of your abiding presence wherever they may be; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Prayers for the People (24)

24. For an Election

Almighty God, to whom we must account for all our powers and privileges: Guide the people of the United States in the election of officials and representatives; that by faithful administration and wise laws, the rights of all may be protected and our nation be enabled to fulfill your purposes; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

--Book of Common Prayer, p 822

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Three In June

I posted some time ago about a hard-working, young friend in Hollywood named Allison Mattox working on producing her first film, a short called Three In June.

She's finished it, and it will be screened at the Buffalo Independent Film Festival in October!

Link attached is the film's festival page listing screenings. Hers is described under the "BIFF: SHORTS: Before the Feature" beginning with "In 1960s rural Georgia..."

Congratulations, Allison!

Prayers for the People (23)

23. For Local Government

Almighty God, our heavenly father, send down upon those who hold office in this State the spirit of wisdom, charity, and justice; that with steadfast purpose they may faithfully serve in their offices to promote the well-being of all people; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

-- The Book of Common Prayer, p 822

Monday, September 28, 2015

Bill Nye, the Logical-Fallacy Guy?

A short piece on abortion, embryology, and basic logic.

Bill Nye's Unscientific Tirade on Abortion

Prayers for the People (22)

22. For Sound Government

O Lord, our Governor, bless the leaders of this land, that we may be a people at peace among ourselves and a blessing to other nations of the earth.

To the President and members of the Cabinet, to Governors of States, Mayors of Cities, and to all in administrative authority, grant wisdom and grace in the exercise of their duties.

--The Book of Common Prayer, p. 821

[this is only part of the complete prayer]

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Prayers for the People (21)

21. For Courts of Justice

Almighty God, who sittest in the throne judging right: we humbly beseech thee to bless the courts of justice and the magistrates in all this land; and give unto them the spirit of wisdom and understanding, that they may discern the truth, and impartially administer the law in the fear of thee alone; through him who shall come to be our Judge, thy son our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

--The Book of Common Prayer, p 821

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Defending Unborn Infants from Predators

Women who survived abortions as infants testify before Congress in the links below:

Gianna Jessen

Melissa Ohden

I heard Ohden speak at an event last year and she was frank, truthful, and hopeful in the telling of her story.

One spiritual sub-story here is the lack of bitterness these women hold for those who abused them.

(A disclaimer: for these testimonies, I am linking to the site of a woman named Julie Roys who has published both of their testimonies, but I don't know her material otherwise so can't recommend the rest of her site.)

Listening to pro-abortion activists (cue Wendy Davis) feels like some kind of true-life "A Modest Proposal:" What to do with all these babies, coming from nowhere, mysteriously bestowed upon these autonomous women and men -- How will they be educated? How will they be fed and cared for? What to do, what to do here in our rich, populous, first-world nation? I have a proposal! Let's kill them all, and use their body parts for research! 

Prayers for the People (20)

20. For Congress or a State Legislature

O God, the fountain of wisdom, whose will is good and gracious, and whose law is truth: We beseech thee to guide and bless our Senators and Representatives in Congress assembled (or in the Legislature of this State, or Commonwealth), that they may enact such laws as shall please thee, to the glory of thy Name, and the welfare of this people; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

-- The Book of Common Prayer, p 821

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Stopping by Woods

...written and read by Robert Frost -- read when he was an older man.

Whose woods these are I think I know

Prayers for the People (19)

19. For the President of the United States and all in Civil Authority

O Lord our Governor, whose glory is in all the world: We commend this nation to thy merciful care, that, being guided by thy Providence, we may dwell secure in thy peace. Grant to the President of the United States, the Governor of this state [Texas], and to all in authority, wisdom and strength to know and to do thy will. Fill them with the love of truth and righteousness, and make them ever mindful of their calling to serve this people in thy fear; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.

-The Book of Common Prayer, p 820

Monday, September 21, 2015

Prayers for the People (18)

This series of prayers in The Book of Common Prayer focuses on national life.

Believers are told in 1 Timothy to pray for rulers and authorities over us. We know that God cares about the moral disposition of non-Israelite nations and the rulers of those nations (cf Ninevah, Gomorrah, Salem, any of the local tribes in the Levant God judged using Israel, et al) and so we can confidently pray for our own nation and also for our authorities and rulers.

In the democratic republic of America, the electorate are rulers, as well, so it makes sense to pray for the electorate in how they vote and in how they live, as well as our local, state, and national elected and appointed officials as they make and execute laws.

18. For our Country

Almighty God, who hast given us this good land for our heritage: We humbly beseech thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of thy favor and glad to do thy will. Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in thy name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to thy law, we may show forth they praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the time of trouble, suffer not our trust in thee to fail; all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 

Friday, September 18, 2015

Prayers for the People (17)

The last in the series of prayers focused on the church in The Book of Common Prayer series beginning on page 814.

17. For Church Musicians and Artists

O God, whom saints and angels delight to worship in heaven; Be ever present with your servants who seek through art and music to perfect the praises offered by your people on earth; and grant to them even now glimpses of your beauty, and make them worthy at length to behold it unveiled for evermore; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen 

-The Book of Common Prayer, p 819

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Prayers for the People (16): Deep Wells and Bright Stars

Prayer 16 in The Book of Common Prayer is for those in monastic orders. To stay in keeping with my own tradition, I am going to, instead, post a prayer from The Valley of Vision, edited by Arthur Bennett.

The Valley of Vision is a collection and compilation of puritan prayers. This is the first prayer in the book

Lord, high and holy, meek and lowly

Thou who hast brought me to the valley of vision, 
where I live in the depths but see thee in the heights;
hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold thy glory.

Let me learn by paradox
that the way down is the way up,
that to be low is to be high,
that the broken heart is the healed heart,
that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,
that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,
that to have nothing is to possess all,
that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,
that to give is to receive,
that the valley is the place of vision.

Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from the deepest wells,
and the deeper the wells the brighter thy stars shine;

Let me find thy light in my darkness,
thy life in my death,
thy joy in my sorrow,
thy grace in my sin,
thy riches in my poverty,
thy glory in my valley.

-- The Valley of Vision, Ed. Arthur Bennett, p xxiv-xxv

Farm to Table

Check out Cartermere Farms here in North Texas, owned and operated by a creative, enterprising family who also attend my son's university model school.

"You can go online and order from the farm and pick up at the farm between 3:30-5:30 on Friday. We have eggs, honey, freshly milled grains, jalapeno jellies, prickly pears and basil. More to come from our fall crops soon."

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Prayers for the People (14 and 15)

The prayers in the series from The Book of Common Prayer (pages 814-835) continue for the church universal and local. I've adapted them at points to be relevant to a larger body of believers or to my own Presbyterian tradition, for instance using terms like "minister" instead of "bishop."

Looking forward: after prayer 17 the prayers move to a new topic: prayers for national life.

I am posting them in the order they appear and with the numbers designated by The Book of Common Prayer. I am going to include today's and tomorrow's as I am not sure how much computer time I will have tomorrow.

14. For the Unity of the Church

O God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, our only savior, the Prince of Peace: Give us grace seriously to lay to heart the great dangers we are in by our unhappy divisions; take away all hatred and prejudice, and whatever else may hinder us from godly union and concord; that, as there is but one Body and one Spirit, one hope of our calling, one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of us all, so we may all be of one heart and of one soul, united in one holy bond of truth and peace, of faith and charity, and may with one mind and one mouth glorify thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

15. For those about to be Baptized 

O God, you prepared your disciples for the coming of the Spirit through the teaching of your Son Jesus Christ: Make the hearts and minds of your servants ready to receive the blessing of the Holy Spirit, that they may be filled with the strength of his presence; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

-Adapted from The Book of Common Prayer, p 818-819

Monday, September 14, 2015

Prayers for the People (13)

This prayer has to do with an election of a bishop, so I will paraphrase it to be a general prayer for new ministers:

13. Almighty God, giver of every good gift: Look graciously on your church, that we may receive a faithful pastor, who will care for your people and equip us for our ministries; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

--Adapted from The Book of Common Prayer p 818

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Prayers for the People (11 and 12)

11. For the Parish

Almighty and everliving God, ruler of all things in heaven and earth, hear our prayers for this parish family. Strengthen the faithful, arouse the careless, and restore the penitent. Grant us all things necessary for our common life, and bring us all to be on one heart and mind within your holy church; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

12. For a Church Convention or Meeting

Almighty and everliving God, source of all wisdom and understanding, be present with those who take counsel for the renewal and mission of your Church. Teach us in all things to seek first your honor and glory. Guide us to perceive what is right, and grant us the courage to pursue it and the grace to accomplish it; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

-Adapted from The Book of Common of Prayer p 818

Friday, September 11, 2015

Mark Twain

The only footage of Mark Twain known to be in existence

"Thomas Edison once said, 'An average American loves his family. If he has any love left over for some other person, he generally selects Mark Twain.'"

"Cheerful Courage and Compassion"

Here's an article in The Gospel Coalition on InterVarsity's response to challenges:
An excerpt:
 "...because InterVarsity students did not see exaggerate their difficulties, they were better prepared to treat their opponents with respect and dignity. They overcame the temptation to resent the people who marginalized them. Even though they were taunted and shamed, accused of being intolerant bigots no better than white supremacists, they cheerfully served the people who maligned them. They brought water and doughnuts to LGBT groups protesting them. They took stands against LGBT bullying even while facing ideological bullies in university leadership. They prayed for their university leaders and found creative ways to support and strengthen the institutions that were bent on driving them out.
David French witnessed InterVarsity’s cheerful courage and compassion firsthand:
“With my own eyes I’ve seen young college students – kids who months before never imagined they’d be at the center of a national controversy – braving physical intimidation in deliberately darkened hallways, barred from entering campus hearing rooms to respectfully defend religious freedom. I’ve seen young women endure rape threats and death threats yet double down on their faith commitments and commitment to free speech for all. Young students have been subjected to Star Chamber-like proceedings in which furious campus administrators tried to hector them into doubting and denying their faith. And students have turned out by the hundreds, crowding campus buildings, to pray for their university and protest their unjust punishments.”
InterVarsity leaders challenged policies they believed were unwise or discriminatory, but whenever they lost, they submitted to the decisions and moved forward without campus recognition."

"Not Just the Pretty Babies"

...Indeed, if the pro-life movement were so shallow as to feel compassion only for theoretical, abstract, pretty babies, or so sentimental as to think eliminating abortion would provide a fuzzy blanket and a happy ending for every child, it would be of little use to children or society. Being pro-life is about far more than can be captured in a well-lit Facebook image. It is about avoiding the many tempting promises of barbarity. Both sides in the abortion debate are aware the world is full of things that ought not to be. Babies should not be ill, dependent on tubes for survival, exposed to drugs or alcohol in utero, born into poverty in crime-infested neighborhoods, or rejected by their biological families.
Barbarians respond to the world’s brokenness by doing what seems necessary to protect either themselves personally or their group as a whole.
...the solution is not to eliminate...these babies while they are most vulnerable. Doing so is to fall into the understandably human, but absolutely wrong, logic that was used by a group of third-grade boys in my classroom when they asked why, since the Middle East is always fighting and wants to hurt America, we don’t just nuke the whole region to end the problem.

Prayers for the People (9 and 10)

9. For Clergy and People

Almighty and everlasting God, from whom cometh every good and perfect gift: Send down upon our ministers, and other clergy, and upon the congregations committed to their 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

10. For the [Presbytery]

O God, by grace you have called using this [presbytery] to a goodly fellowship of faith. Bless our [ministers and elders] and all our people. Grant that your Word may be truly preached and truly heard, your Sacraments faithfully administered and faithfully received. By your Spirit, fashion our lives according to the example of your Son, and grant that we may show the power of your love to all among whom we live; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

-- Adapted from The Book of Common Prayer p 817

[References to Bishops and Dioceses changed to reflect Presbyterian governance.]