Sacred Music Friday: All Bells in Paradise

Very cool! A (relatively) new piece by John Rutter. Composed on commission to coincide with the Kings College Cambridge choir launching its own label.

standing in awe of God

westernreligiousexperienceThe Significance of Religious Experience
Howard Wettstein
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: Oxford University Press
List price $65.00 Amazon Price $41.49

I read a review of this book in Books and Culture and it sounds like fascinating reading. But take a look at the price in relation to the page count, and the fact that it is not available in Kindle format. Guess I’ll have to pass.

Here, however, is the reviewer’s summary of the essence of the book. Looks to me like material for considerable further thought and reflection:

The Bible is not a list of God’s qualities we must believe; it is a collection of narratives about God’s roles that helps us to live in awe of God. Liturgies are not a telescope by which our gaze can escape the world and see only heaven. Rather, the prayers and stories of the Bible are the means of standing in awe of God, fostering love for neighbors, and practicing gratitude.

turning sixty

Social media has certainly changed how we communicate and interact. Certainly Facebook has connected me with former classmates (high school and college), relatives, former work colleagues, fellow (and sister) Episcopalians, as well as others, and allowed a level of interaction that was not possible before.

sixtyOne thing that has been very noticeable through Facebook for me these past several months is the fact that most of my classmates from Hemet High School class of 1971 and Pitzer College 1975 are turning sixty this year. I wrote about that fact in May. As I wrote, it was good in that I had the chance to think about the fact and prepare. (Unlike the folks whose birthday was in January.)

So here I am today and it’s my turn. How do I feel? Good. I have a marvelous marriage to a terrific woman, a loving four-footed child, a great home with a remodeled kitchen and solar power, and a job that is less stressful than it has been at other times. I exercise and eat relatively well. I don’t feel sixty, even though I’m periodically offered the senior discount at restaurants without asking.

Not so bad.

How do I express this musically? I thought about He’s an Old Hippie, but it really doesn’t apply to me. The subject of the song is not up with today’s society and technology, and that is certainly not me. I tipped my hand in June, when I wrote that the song was “Forever in Blue Jeans.” I have not come up with a better choice during the last two months. That says it best.

“it wasn’t me”

The other day I was working upstairs when I heard the Dirt Devil loudly doing its thing downstairs. I went down there and Terry said that in doing one of her yoga stretches she noticed all this dog hair in the air intake for the wine cooler. The fridge was fine. Seems the cleaning ladies take care of that. But the wine cooler is non-standard and our cleaning service only does standard stuff.

Tasha6a.jpgAs we were talking, Tasha came inside and started jumping up on me, which she doesn’t normally do. I could swear she was saying, “Daddy, don’t believe Mommy! It wasn’t me. The hair came from somewhere else. Really!”

That’s our Tasha. We love her. (Or maybe it’s my imagination. But either way.)

can we live out God?

One last quote from my Dorothee Soelle course:

The question which is often put to me, “Do you believe in God?,” usually seems a superficial one. If it only means that there is an extra place in your head where God sits, then God is in no way an event which changes your whole life, an event from which, as Buber says of real revelation, I do not emerge unchanged. We should really ask, “Do you live out God?” That would be in keeping with the reality of the experience.

— Dorothee Soelle, Thinking about God

Shortly after I saw this, Sappho, over at Noli Irritare Leones, quoted Dorothy Day:

It’s no use to say that we are born two thousand years too late to give room to Christ. Nor will those who live at the end of the world have been born too late. Christ is always with us, always asking for room in our hearts.

But now it is with the voice of our contemporaries that he speaks, with the eyes of store clerks, factory workers, and children that he gazes; with the hands of office workers, slum dwellers, and suburban housewives that he gives. It is with the feet of soldiers and tramps that he walks, and with the heart of anyone in need that he longs for shelter. And giving shelter and food to anyone who asks for it, or needs it, is giving to Christ.

We can do now what those who knew Him in the days of His flesh did. I’m sure that the shepherds did not adore and then go away to leave Mary and the Child in the stable, but somehow found them room, even though what they had to offer might have been primitive enough….

—Dorothy Day, “A Harsh and Dreadful Love” (reproduced in the 80th Catholic Worker Anniversary edition of the Los Angeles Catholic Worker’s Catholic Agitator)

I felt plenty challenged by Soelle’s words. Then I read Dorothy Day. As my online reading habits have evolved, I am experiencing plenty of opportunities to have my complacency confronted.

That’s a good thing, even though I don’t always like it.


Sacred Music Friday: Angelus ad pastores ait

More from St. Olaf: Early Music Singers and Collegium Musicum (Gerald Hokestra, conductor) perform “Angelus ad pastores ait” by Giovanni Gabrieli (c.1554/57 — 1612).

my blog readers

Last week I wrote about some of the blogs I read. Today I want to pay tribute to the readers of my blog. They are small in number but a marvelous and diverse group. I’m happy that some of them are also bloggers about whom I wrote last week.

This diverse group includes:

  • a pagan writer of romance novels based in New Orleans who is married to and travels with her husband, a helicopter pilot
  • her mother, a Christian living in the Lake Tahoe area who currently does not attend church
  • a practicing Catholic, former high-power executive, now church office administrator who just got an M.A. in theology
  • a couple of young professional women in the Philippines
  • various members of my class of Pitzer College 1975
  • classmates from Hemet High School class of 1971
  • a long-time good friend who I first met when she was seeing my roommate in my post-college Claremont days
  • former work colleagues
  • the now adult daughter of my late first wife and perhaps her brother
  • a relative I didn’t know I had until recently, an academic and biochemist who loves the theater, and who shares many of my beliefs and values
  • my spiritual director
  • cousins on both sides of my family who see by blog via Facebook who probably thought I was weird as a kid, and who perhaps think the same thing today based on what they read in this blog
  • a number of folks about whom I know nothing, but who have chosen to follow my blog on WordPress

blogrssMy apologies to anyone I may have omitted.

I value and appreciate all of you.

letting it go

I don’t like standing in line at the store. I’ve been more patient since I’ve been able to peruse my Facebook app on my iPhone while waiting, but I still don’t like it. I like it even less when there is a delay of some sort. Usually the cause of the delay is someone in front of me. but sometimes I’m the cause, even if it isn’t my fault.

A couple of weeks ago at BevMo I was just about to be checked out when a clerk dashed up to the checkstand and put two expensive items (an oversize bottle tequila and something else ) next to mine and then went dashing off. The clerk staffing the cash register scanned my items and those two as well before I realized she had done so. She had to get help removing the items, and managed to remove one, but not the other. She was finally able to remove the super tequila bottle, and I had to point out to her that in the process she had removed my scotch as well. It finally got all sorted out, and my bill ended up exactly right. In the meantime I was standing there waiting.

The thing is, why am I complaining? I’m not still standing at the checkstand at BevMo trying to get this resolved, am I? I’m home writing this blog, correct?

So I need to remind myself to let it go.


kitchen update

I haven’t given you a kitchen update for a while, but then there hasn’t been much to report. Recently, however, we’ve picked up a couple of new kitchen appliances.

First, we got an electric knife sharpener. That’s something we should have gotten a long time ago. Neither of us is very good with that rod sharpener thing, and we’ve had a number of knives in need of sharpening.


Then our toaster oven of over ten years died. The new one has a larger capacity and takes up less space than the old one. The new one is entirely mechanical, while the old one was electronic with a digital display. That’s fine though. The digital ones they had at Bed Bath & Beyond were from a manufacturer we were not familiar with, and had way more settings than we needed. (Why bother with a separate bagel setting?) This one has toast, bake, and broil. What else do you need?


I trust both new appliances will last us a good, long time.

trusting the power of Christ in the Sacrament

It’s no secret that I am a believer in open Communion, and that I was disappointed that the last General Convention of the Episcopal Church failed to change the policy of baptism being required for Communion. So I am happy to know that most priests and bishops of whom I am aware conveniently ignore that canon.

waferJennifer Phillips writes a marvelous piece over at Episcopal Café in which she describes how she meets each person where she or he is, and gives the host to those who wish to receive, while giving a blessing to those who are not comfortable receiving. She writes about giving Communion to a woman who turned out to be Jewish, but who “had a sense of the presence of God in the service and sermon…and thought it would be right to do what others were doing around her.” Phillips wrote, “I trust the power of Christ in the Sacrament.”

She concludes:

All sorts and conditions of people are drawn to the rail for all sorts of reasons conscious and unconscious, in a great variety of states of preparedness and unpreparedness. There’s always lots of teaching going on to help form people in our sacramental life, but the plain truth is that the power of God in the liturgy touches, moves, transforms, and attracts people right then, and at the rail doesn’t seem a good place to question beyond “do you desire to receive the Body of Christ?” At the heavenly throne I’d much rather be explaining why I fed some people inappropriately than why I failed to feed some who hungered and thirsted for God and put their hands out; and I’d rather give an extra blessing with a touch to someone who is drawn forward than explain they should be satisfied with a general blessing at the end. Like grain, in full measure, poured out, spilling over into one’s lap, this love and graciousness of God in the sacrament of the altar.

Thank you Rev. Phillips. I’m glad your views are reflective of those of so many Episcopal priests.