Sacred Music Friday: Love Divine

Charles Wesley and William Penfro Rowlands; arranged by James O’Donnell, The Choir of Her Majesty’s Chapel Royal, The Choir of Westminster Abbey, The Organist and Master of Choristers — Prince William and Kate Middleton Royal Wedding


I was recently grousing about the Advent liturgy at St. John’s. As I thought about it, I figured that rather than being unhappy I should ask Fr. Phil what his thinking was. So I sent him an email.

He replied, and I found out a couple of things. First, the Kyrie, from an orchestral piece by Beethoven, as it turns out, that I thought to be so somber and less appropriate for Advent than for Lent, is not the one we’re using this year. Rather, we’re using the Healey Willan version (below) which I think will be wonderful.

Even better, we’re using Eucharistic Prayer C, which, as I have mentioned, is my favorite. It is the one with the marvelous words:

At your command all things came to be: the vast expanse of
interstellar space, galaxies, suns, the planets in their courses,
and this fragile earth, our island home.

It’s also this same Eucharistic Prayer which reminds us, and I do need reminding:

Deliver us from the presumption of coming to this Table for solace only, and not for strength; for pardon only, and not for renewal.

As I said in my response to Fr. Phil’s email, “I’m there!”

how not to treat our best

I hadn’t heard anything from her in a while, but she popped up on Facebook in response to the Church of England’s failure to allow women bishops. Her comment, “last one out, please turn out the lights” was representative of her perspective on those rare occasions she did comment on matters related to the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. If that perspective is somewhat cynical, she is justified.

She was an associate at a large Episcopal parish in the San Francisco Bay Area. She left, not of her own accord I inferred, during the administration of an interim. Which is a terrible shame, because I’m sure she would have gotten along marvelously with the eventual permanent choice.

She herself became an interim at a large Episcopal parish in Southern California. When the newly called rector arrived, he asked her to stay on as an associate. He then did an about-face and soon decided, ostensibly though hardly believably, to lay her off for financial reasons. Her plan to be priest at large in the diocese soon faltered. She ultimately removed all references to the Episcopal Church from her Facebook profile and is now back home in her native Canada.

I knew her through her podcast sermons, and was distressed at the turn of events. I wrote about what had happened, planning to publish it here. I wrote then, and still feel:

Her sermons were lively, witty, contemporary, both thoughtful and thought-provoking, while challenging us to live the social gospel in the best tradition of both Jesus and the Episcopal Church. I loved listening to them.

I sent her a draft, and we ultimately had a marvelous telephone conversation. She asked me not to publish the blog, saying that it was all too accurate and sill too raw. I had to honor that. I was flattered that she said I understood her well and even more flattered by her favorable comments on my writing.

More than a year has now passed and I feel the need to speak out. In deference to her original request, however, I do not use her name as I did in my initial draft.

There is a lesson here. The Episcopal Church did some marvelous work at General Convention this year regarding inclusiveness, but if this is how we treat our best, most intelligent, most engaging young clergy, who can reach out to those who might otherwise not join us, there isn’t a lot of hope for The Episcopal Church in the United States.

I trust that this was an exception, and not the rule, and that others of her caliber receive far better treatment.

I can only hope.

thanks, Amazon

I spend a fair amount of money with Amazon. I hate returning stuff, but sometimes I have to. I ordered a battery for one of our cordless phone units, and it was the wrong size. I went online to return it, and they said, “We’ll refund your money. No need to return the battery.” That was nice.

More recently I ordered a 1.5 Terabyte external drive for my PC backups to replace the existing 640 GB pocket drive (since the new computer I bought in August has a 1 TB hard drive). Problem was that when I plugged it in my PC gave me a “failed to start error.” I packed it up and returned it. The surprising thing was that they didn’t wait to get the unit before they initiated the refund. I had an email that it was in process within a couple of hours of the UPS pickup scan.

Now I’m very much tied to Amazon. I had a first generation Kindle, a second generation Kindle, the Kindle app on my short-lived HP TouchPad, and have the Kindle app on my current iPad 2, which gets opened and used almost every day.

If Amazon thinks that processing a refund so quickly is going to reinforce customer loyalty, well, they’re right.

Thank you, Amazon. There are lots of Kindle books I still have lined up to buy.

parsing words

I take a perverse delight in seeing different ways a phrase, name, or sentence can be parsed. I think it actually annoys Terry sometimes, but it’s how my mind works.

A headline from this fall as the Giants were on their way to the World Series:
    Unlikely umpires will have to delay Game 1 or 2
Now the intent of this headline is straightforward:
    Unlikely [umpires will have to delay Game 1 or 2]
But I realized that if, say, the designated umpiring crew were stranded at O’Hare airport in Chicago and Major League Baseball had to recruit local little umpires for the game, and if in fact it was going to rain, one could read:
    [Unlikely umpires] [will have to delay Game 1 or 2]

See, it’s this kind of thing that annoys Terry.

In the realm of restaurants, it was only recently that I realized that:
    Thai basil chicken
Is, in fact:
    [Thai basil] chicken
and not
    Thai [basil chicken]

I have long known that the Episcopal book of liturgy, Lesser Feasts and Fasts, now replaced by Holy Women, Holy Men, is:
    [Lesser Feasts] and Fasts
and not
    Lesser [Feasts and Fasts]

(Similarly, The Book of Common Prayer is the book of prayers we say together in worship, not the book of average, ordinary, everyday prayer.)

I think that the folks who branded the store where we get Tasha her food intended it to be read two ways. Petsmart can either be parsed as Pets-mart or as Pet-smart.

I’m sure they’re happy with either as long as you’re shopping there.

Sacred Music Friday: Psalm 138

Psalm 138 sung by Westminster Abbey Choir at the visit of the Pope, September 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

A song traditionally associated with Thanksgiving sung by that quintessentially American choir.

Facebook foible

Many of us would say Facebook probably has a lot of those. But here’s the one that’s on my mind: it’s hard to disagree on Facebook in a way that it is clear that you are disagreeing.

If I comment on a post, or a link, or a photo it shows up on my friends’ News Feed saying, “Mike Christie commented on a photo,” or whatever. I think the default assumption is to assume you agree with the item. Most people won’t bother to look at the comments, and if it’s an item with several hundred comments it may be close to impossible to find mine. So if I see something that I think is incorrect, misguided, or just plain outrageous, registering an opinion puts me at risk of being misunderstood.

There’s nothing I can do about it, but I’m just sayin’ …

my tradition points me to God

I don’t agree with everything John Shelby Spong says, but he has it exactly right here, to my mind at least.

God is not a Christian, God is not a Jew, or a Muslim, or a Hindu, or a Buddhist. All of those are human systems which human beings have created to try to help us walk into the mystery of God. I honor my tradition, I walk through my tradition, but I don’t think my tradition defines God, I think it only points me to God.

writing and television

I’ve written before about how little television I watch. I do catch part of the morning news, and when I’m heating up my hot tea during the week I have been known to catch a few minutes of Rachel Ray, but please don’t tell anyone that.

There are times when I’m sitting down and actually watching, but that’s the exception, not the rule, as was the case on election night. In the evenings when our feet are up we listen to jazz and I am surfing my iPad. The only things I record are Giada at Home and Mexican Made Easy. Terry has her favorite shows which keep the DVR somewhat busy, but I just take a quick look as I pass by.

In her course Writing Creative Nonfiction from The Great Courses, Tilar Mazzeo recommends that people who want to write for a living, or at least for part of their living, not own a TV at all. She says that television is a story-telling medium and by watching it you can have your story-telling needs met and not need to tell your own story.

I have no illusions about making my living by writing, as much as I would love that to be the case, but I do see her point. Even as a blogger I can see that not watching TV dramas and comedies perhaps helps me to be more productive in my own story-telling.

In any case, I don’t miss those shows, and I would rather be at the keyboard writing this blog than watching them. That, I think, is a good thing.