O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, Derby Cathedral, England, courtesy of Unapologetically Episcopalian.


Something, I don’t remember what now, made me think of Alfred Lord Tennyson’s words:

The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
‘Tis not too late to seek a newer world.

Which reminded me of the words from the sixties anthem “Turn!Turn! Turn!” “…a time for peace, I swear it’s not too late.”

Yet in today’s world that attitude is so hard to maintain. When I see the news about the economy and hear the views of the Republican presidential candidates, I want to curl up under the covers in a fetal position and hide.

But as Fr. Phil has said, what’s wrong with a utopian vision? Is it preferable to have the opposite, a dystopian vision? Of course not.

Sometimes we need to take a deep breath and move ahead. Perhaps we start with Samuel Beckett’s words “I can’t go on, I’ll go on” and evolve from that to a more proactive and energized approach where we truly recognize that it is not too late to seek a newer world.

pastoral care

One of the things I like about St. John the Divine is the attention that Fr. Phil gives to individual parishioners. A few times now I’ve gotten email from him that had nothing to do with church business, but commented on matters of my own personal interest. He sent me an email when Meg Whitman was named CEO of HP and one when he got word that Good Shepherd had voted to move to the ELCA. It’s a small thing, but it indicates that he takes his pastoral role seriously, and I, personally, really appreciate it.

Olive Street

An Olive Street recollection.

You may recall that I’ve done the occasional blog recalling my Olive Street days. That was my “Claremont cockroach1” time from the fall after I graduated from Pitzer College in 1975 until I moved to Laredo, Texas two years later. I was thinking that I should once again indulge in a periodic recollection of those days. What follows is a combination of two blog entries that I did over at TypePad to provide a re-introduction to that life.

I had graduated from college and decided to stay in Claremont for the time being. I had been working for the college food service company and thought I was going to go into management with the company. I had given up my College Avenue room and made arrangements to share the Olive Street apartment with George when his roommate Andrew went off to UCLA in the fall.

But that was a couple of months away, and I needed a place to live in the meantime. One of our friends, Anne, the butch dyke, was staying in Claremont for the summer and had leased a unit in a triplex, literally just “on the other side of the tracks.” I agreed to spend the summer sharing the apartment with her.

When fall came Andrew moved to Westwood, but before I had a chance to move in, the lost soul willowy femme lesbian Ann returned from Los Angeles and asked George for a place to stay temporarily. Given the mellow, kind-hearted person he was, he agreed.

At the same time Anne was making me crazy (for a variety of reasons, probably material for another blog entry), and I wanted to get out of the triplex and into the Olive street apartment. While I knew both Anne and Ann were lesbians, I didn’t know Ann had a crush on Anne. So I asked Ann if she wouldn’t like to share the triplex unit with Anne. She was of course delighted.

And I was able to move to Olive Street, my home for the next twenty-one months.

During my Olive Street days I was working at B. Dalton bookseller and generally enjoying life, in spite of my tendencies to over-worry and make much of too little.

Later George also moved to Westwood, and I had a roommate for a short while named Jim about whom the  less said the better.

For the 1976-77 academic year I had a roommate named Beth. She was a sophomore at Scripps College. We got along well as roommates for the most part, and I enjoyed her sharing the apartment with me. (Strictly platonic, in case you were wondering.)

In June of 1977, I had to give up my Claremont cockroach ways after getting a job as B. Dalton Bookseller store manager in Laredo, Texas.

But that’s a time I’ll always look back on fondly.

1 Claremont cockroach n. Someone who graduates from one of the Claremont Colleges and stays in the town or nearby because he or she can’t bear to leave.

the color of Advent

One of the things I liked about the Lutheran Church was that the color used for Advent is blue rather than purple. The idea was to represent Advent as less a penitential season and more of a season of preparation and expectation. This was first instituted in the Lutheran Book of Worship which was published in 1978.

In the Episcopal Church, of course following the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, purple is still the color. I’m not exactly in love with the somber Kyrie we have been singing on Sunday mornings at St. John’s this Advent. It’s appropriate if you look at Advent as a penitential season, but it just doesn’t seem to me quite right for Advent. In his sermon for Advent 2, Fr. Phil explicitly said, and I paraphrase remembering as best I can, that Advent is a penitential season where we let go of the things, good and bad, that get in the way of our being ready for the coming of the Christ.

That does make sense. But my spiritual director suggested that I look at purple not as a penitential color but as signifying awaiting the coming of royalty. I like that.  It takes me back to preparation and expectation, which is what I think Advent should be all about.

Sacred Music Friday: Wake, O Wake!

Wake, O Wake! subng by Trinity College Choir, Cambridge, courtesy of Unapologetically Episcopalian.

relationship considerations

I’ve written about how much I like The Bridge on XM radio. It’s seventies soft rock: the music of James Taylor, Carly Simon, Simon & Garfunkel, CSN (and sometimes Y), etc. To the same degree that I like it, Terry hates it. “Fingernails on a chalkboard,” she once called it.

In my car I make sure to change the station when Terry is along. But Terry has programmed it into the radio in her car. I try not to abuse the consideration too much.

But, really, I see that as a sign of a relationship built on mutual love and consideration. A pretty good place to be, I’d say.

iPhone part 2

I’m delighted to be part of the brother and sisterhood of iPhone owners.

My iPhone is much lighter than my old semi-Android phone, lacking the external keyboard. I think the screen is much sharper. It is happy to talk to a WiFi connection, which my old phone never would for some reason. And of course there is the famed iPhone user interface which is as great as it is made out to be. I even learned that I can group similar apps into folders: news, utilities, weather, Episcopal resources, etc. Something, it turns out, that works equally well on my iPad.

Speaking of the iPad, there’s also the fact that the two user interfaces are very similar. It’s easy to go back and forth between the two. With Apple’s new iOS 5 and iCloud my contacts, browser bookmarks, and notes are all in sync. Love it!

My only quibble: on my old phone I used an app called Cardiotrainer to track my walks. A man with a proper British accent would tell me, “workout started,” “workout paused,” workout resumed,” or “workout ended.” That app doesn’t exist for the iPhone and in my search for the right app for tracking my walks on my iPhone I haven’t yet found that pleasant voice.

A small price to pay for such a fun, cool device.

iPhone part 1

I ordered my iPhone on the day after Thanksgiving, the first day I was eligible for a new phone. In my impatience I toyed briefly with the idea of going to the Verizon store, but I knew that was a bad idea given that the store is located in the same shopping center as Target, Kohl’s, Ross, and Barnes & Noble. In any case I logged on to the Verizon Web site and quickly forgot about doing something so silly. I found my iPhone 4 at the expected $99 dollar price along with an additional $30 online discount. How about that? Verizon is rewarding me for doing something I didn’t want to do anyway.

It took me maybe twenty minutes to step through the whole process of ordering the phone, selecting my voice and data plans, and checking out. When my phone arrived on Tuesday of last week setup was simple and straightforward. I was up and running in another twenty minutes or so.

This compared to going into the Verizon store, waiting fifteen or twenty minutes for a sales rep, and then spending an hour going through the process of buying and setting up my phone, confirming my voice and data plans, and being presented with accessories I don’t need while the sales rep stares at his computer and mumbles.

How cool is that?

avoiding Advent snobbery

We were talking about information overload long before Facebook and RSS Feeds. You know what it’s like now. I have all of my thoughtful and literate Episcopal, Catholic, Unitarian, Quaker, and more Facebook friends who provide links to intelligent and thought-provoking blogs and essays. Then there’s the blogs I read directly with my RSS Reader. Unless I make a note of something of interest when I see it chances of finding it later are small.

Such was the case with a blog I saw earlier this week. The writer had a number of suggestions about how to make Advent more meaningful. Most were in line with the Advent ideal of preparation, but one caught me by surprise. He said pull out your collection of Christmas music early, listen to it, and add to it each year.

That set off my Advent snob alarm. “You’re not supposed to do that!” But, as my spiritual director once reminded me, I am not the Advent police. (And Fr. Phil had plenty to say about the Advent police yesterday.)

And really, why not do that? If it helps put us into the spirit of the season and prepare for the returning of the Light, why shouldn’t we?

What I’ve decided to work on this year: stop being an Advent snob.