Tuesday, August 28, 2012


Isaac (Tropical Storm?  Hurricane?  it doesn't really matter that much) is upon us, with bands of wind/rain lashing us.

I have no doubt we'll be fine in the long term (and as Charles Williams once wrote, "All luck is finally good luck").  Meanwhile, we 'hunker down' and ride it out.

Having lived in Alabama since 1974, this is of course not my first hurricane.  I've lived through some of the big ones:  Frederick, Ivan, Opal, Katrina... (but why do I feel like Fred Sanford when I say that?!)--but always in Montgomery or Troy:  this is the first one I've been through while in Mobile.  "Preparedness" takes on a whole new meaning here, whether or not all the precautions turn out to have been necessary.

We sandback and tape doors; anthing "moveable" (patio furniture, for example) is stowed away; drinking water and ice and non-perishable foods are stock-piled; batteries are bought; we consider whether we should have bought generators; and no doubt wine will be drunk!  Will we be OK?  Yes...

Just a couple of nights ago we had a huge fiesta to celebrate the 20+ years' relationship we've had with our sister-parish of San Francisco de Asis in Temascalapa, Mexico.  And this is really the core of "church," after all:  mutual membership in the Body of Christ.  It's what remains if the church building is washed away.  And it's what's fundamental to the Faith.

For your listening pleasure, I am adding an excerpt from Benjamin Britten's one-act opera, Noye's Fludde, based on a mediaeval English mystery play.  Noye and his family and the animals, in the Ark, sing (along with the audience) the "Navy Hymn," Eternal Father, Strong To Save.  These days we sing an altered version for the other military branches, but I far prefer the original.  The excerpt is vv 2-3 of the hymn.

As a personal footnote, I had the privilege of singing the title role in a production in Montgomery in 1983 (which, I guess, makes me as old as Noah!)...

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


[What I have posted below is in fact going to be on the parish website (www.oursaviorparish.org) this weekend, but I thought I'd share it now with hopefully a wider audience.]


            I write this while in Destin for the last few days of my vacation time, and this has already been a very sad week for our country and for the world.  Three events stand out in my mind for their sickening statements about human nature enmeshed in sin.

            The first is the recent killing in the Kogi state of Nigeria—a Christian (fundamentalist?) church called Deeper Life was attacked by men with assault rifles while worship services were going on—the pastor was one of the many killed (no word, as of this writing, on how many were also wounded).  The attackers were from the radical militant group Boko Haran, which is utterly opposed to all things “Western.”

            We all know by now about the shooting and killing that took place at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin—Wade Page, the accused killer, has had ties to white a supremacist group, and reportedly the songs he performed while part of a rock group were strewn with hate lyrics.

            Finally, courtesy of a Facebook post from Fr Buddy Noel, either in “retaliation” or in “copycat” mode to the Wisconsin attack, someone set fire to a mosque in Joplin, Missouri.

            Again courtesy of Facebook, a quote from Eric Parsons (via my friend Doris Underwood) makes a simple statement:
I was gonna post something that would tell you the difference between Hindus and Sikhs and Muslims but I realized that you don’t need to know anything about somebody’s religion to know that you shouldn’t shoot them.

      But I guess there are just enough people in the world who believe that if you believe differently from me you are “The Enemy” and must be destroyed.  This obviously goes far beyond the flap over Chick-Fil-A, yet it’s cut from the same piece of cloth, in the long run:  it’s about tolerance of differences that don’t have to make a difference in our ability to get along.

            Just last month our Mobile Trialogue was hosted for a prayer and discussion event at a local masjid (otherwise known as a mosque)—for most of us who were Jews or Christians it was the first time we actually sat in on a Muslim prayer service.  What a difference a few days makes…

            Muslims regard Friday as the special day of prayer and worship; Jews (and Seventh Day Adventists) believe that Saturday is the Sabbath that must be kept holy; Christians see Sunday as “The Lord’s Day.”  Muslims have the 30-day period of fasting called Ramadan; Jews have the 10 High Holy Days of repentance from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur; Christians look to the 40 days of Lent for a special time of fasting and penance.  We disagree on the nature of Jesus, the hope for the longed-for Messiah, and the purpose of the Prophet—though they are all expressions of hope for fulfillment in the Kingdom of God.  Do these “disagreements” justify hatred and violence? 

            Fr Buddy Noel wondered (on his FB post) whether we should not be standing guard over one another’s houses of worship to prevent such attacks in the future.  In the beginnings of the “Arab Spring” in Egypt, that was exactly what Muslims and Copts in the streets did:  one group circling the other protectively as they worshiped.  Is this so hard, really?

            Hate and terror are, in fact, quite “ecumenical”—they recognize no boundaries of religion and are quite willing to destroy you, no matter your faith, if you are perceived as standing in the way of their “agenda.”  Why?