Sacred Music Friday: The Storm Is Passing Over

“The Storm Is Passing Over,” by Charles Albert Tindley, arranged by Barbara W. Baker. Sung by the Trouveres youth choir at All Saints Church, Pasadena, on Sunday, October 6, 2013.

Seeing Jesus as…

The Gospel lectionary reading for last Sunday was Luke 20:27-38. It is the story of the Sadducees, who did not believe in the resurrection, challenging Jesus on the law of Levirate marriage. To quote Father Phil, “If a married man died without children, his brother was obligated to marry the widow to have a child that would be designated as his dead brother’s offspring.” The Sadducees asked if a woman’s husband died and left her childless, as did his six brothers, who would be her husband at the resurrection? You know the story. Jesus responds that at the resurrection people neither marry nor are given in marriage. But I love the context Father Phil provides. He says,

The Sadducees are presented as sort of Harvard trained lawyers who are going to take this Matlock-like country bumpkin rabbi Jesus to the intellectual woodshed.

I told Fr. Phil after the service that I had never heard Jesus compared to Matlock before. He agreed that it might be a first.

It reminds me, though, that we do see Jesus through our own lens.

I believe it was one of the Great Courses lectures I was listening to, and I believe that the lecturer was taking a shot at the members of the Jesus Seminar, saying that there were those who viewed Jesus as the witty university faculty lounge lizard colleague.

So if that, why not Jesus as an Andy Griffith-type character? Probably not Peter Falk/Columbo. But, yes, perhaps Andy Griffith/Matlock.

We do create Jesus in our own image.

change of approach

I’ve been pretty good the past few years about exercising regularly. The fact that I maintain up an Excel spreadsheet to keep me accountable helps a lot. I either walk outside or get on the treadmill.

When I first got an app for my smart phone to track my progress back in 2011, I wrote in my blog:

I’m finding that the temperature range within which I’m wiling to go outside and walk to be narrower than I would have expected. I’m getting on the treadmill more and walking outside less than I thought I would.

That’s not the case today. These days I want to get outside whenever I can, and I’ll only get on the treadmill when the weather isn’t cooperating. That’s a good thing, I think. I get a better workout outside, and it’s just plain a good thing to get out of the house and into the fresh air.

Alice and gluten-free pizza

OliveStsmallWhen I was living on Olive Street during my post-Pitzer College Claremont cockroach days from 1975-77, I had this sign on my front door. For the first part of that era my roommate was George. Actually it was his apartment, and the sign seemed appropriate to both of us. Certainly our friends thought so. I was working at B. Dalton Bookseller, reading books, listening to soft rock on KNX-FM, and Aliceattempting, not terribly successfully, to be the next George Orwell. Not George Orwell the novelist, but George Orwell the essayist. George my roommate engaged himself in various endeavors, but spent much of his time at the computer. This was long before the days of the personal computer. We’re talking mainframes and dumb terminals here. So he sat at a terminal in a small room on the Pitzer campus or on one of the other Claremont campuses. Or he hung out in the actual computer room, a privilege granted a very few. He had the habit of doing things like inviting people over for dinner, and then getting engrossed in a computer program he was writing and leaving the preparation of dinner and the entertaining of guests to me and Alison, his sometime significant other.

It so happens that this same picture hangs on the wall at our new gluten-free bakery, Patti’s Perfect Pantry. In the several months that Patti’s has been open I’ve enjoyed the Alice in Wonderland theme of the shop. I had never noticed, however, this particular picture. I saw it for the first time on Friday as we were waiting for our gluten-free pizza, something new on the menu. I went over to take a look, and noted that the text associated with the picture was actually an excerpt from an earlier part of Alice’s conversation with the Cheshire Cat. A picture frame directly underneath, however, displayed the text in question.

Terry and I have loved Patti’s from the first day we walked in the door. For us, unlike for many other people, the fact that the shop is gluten-free is incidental. We love it because the food tastes marvelous, because we get to sit in a pleasant environment, and because Patti and her staff interact with us in a most friendly and attentive manner.

And now a tie to memories of some of my favorite days from the past. I’m delighted we have Patti’s.


ordinary time

I haven’t had a lot to say about religion, liturgy, and spirituality of late. Part of it is just where I am right now. Part of it is where we are in the liturgical calendar. We had a very early Easter this year. That means a very long season after Pentecost. Yesterday was the 25th Sunday after Pentecost. That is, as you’re well aware, one week short of half a year.

It’s ordinary time. The Episcopal Church doesn’t officially use the term “ordinary time” in its liturgical vocabulary. We talk about the Season After Epiphany and the Season After Pentecost. The phrase “Season After” as opposed to “Season of” is supposed to indicate that it is outside one of the sacred seasons. But I like the phrase “ordinary time,” because it tells us precisely where we are.

I’m glad that this long season of ordinary time is drawing to a close. Next week we observe the 26th Sunday after Pentecost, and then the Last Sunday After Pentecost, or Christ the King Sunday. And then December 1, the First Sunday of Advent.

I am ready for Advent. More than ready.

Sacred Music Friday: For All the Saints

I preempted Sacred Music Friday on all Saints’ Day last Friday in favor of an appreciation of our four-footed child Tasha, on the anniversary of our bringing her home from the shelter eight years ago. So let’s enjoy my favorite All Saints’ Day hymn today.

This particular rendition was recorded at the memorial service for Bishop Melvin E Wheatley, Jr. at Westwood United Methodist Church, Los Angeles, March 22, 2009, so although the video shows a length of 10:19, the music actually ends at about the five minute mark.


how many books?

In particular, the question is: how many books do I want to be reading at once?

I’ve juggled as many as three at one time. Some people read more simultaneously. Recently, however, I’ve concluded that I can do the books I’m reading the most justice by reading one at a time.

That may not always be the case. I’m thinking about reading A Cruel and Shocking Act: The Secret History of the Kennedy Assassination, which describes how lost evidence and bad decisions in the course of the Warren Commission investigation led to the widespread belief in a conspiracy, when in fact, the author argues, there probably was none. That could be a bit heavy, and I think I would need something lighter to go to in the midst of this book.

My spiritual director mentioned to me the title The Beauty of the Infinite: The Aesthetics of Christian Truth, which I think might be worth reading, but which is apparently quite dense. I think in this case I’d probably also want something lighter with which to alternate.

My current reading, The Village: 400 Years of Beats and Bohemians, Radicals and Rogues, a History of Greenwich Village, has my full attention.  And in fact for the most part, I think I’m going to stick with one book at a time and give it my full attention.

parsing communications

The way we parse what we read affects how we understand the meaning. I often notice myself parsing incorrectly.

Headline in an email newsletter: Ways to secure a router. This could mean different ways to buy a router. What it did mean was how to make the data you send over your router safe.

Newspaper headline: Realtors: Beware of scams. I first read it as the writer of the article telling realtors they should be aware of scams. What it really meant was that the article was reporting that realtors were telling the public to be aware of scams.

Temporary street sign:
street work

I first read this as October 8 through September 13, which makes no sense as we have not yet achieved the ability to move backwards in time. What it meant, of course, was the street work was to be done October 8 & 9 2013

Automatic Out of office reply. What I read the first time:

“I will be out of the office today for something truly urgent. You may be able to reach me on my cell.”

What it actually said was:

“I will be out of the office today.  For something truly urgent you may be able to reach me on my cell.”

It’s always good to take a second look at such things before making an assumption or saying something.

diet choices

We have a new bakery in Gilroy called Patti’s Perfect Pantry. Patti bakes gluten-free products exclusively. Terry and I have not made the gluten-free move, but we love eating there because Patti serves incredibly delicious food. Interestingly, while they bake only gluten-free products, the ingredients in their sandwiches include not only chicken, but ham and bacon. No beef, though. Not sure if that’s deliberate.

This has made me think about all of the various diet philosophies people adhere to. Many vegetarians eat fish, milk, and cheese. Strict vegans eat no animal products at all, of course.

The clean eating movement generally believes in locally sourced food raised without chemicals, but they cook with both chicken and beef.

Of course you can find a study to support just about whatever direction you want to take. It can get very confusing.

I have had my vegetarian phases, but right now I feel like I need meat in my diet. Perhaps the best approach is to eat whatever it is that your body tells you is best for it.

Telling Our Way to the Sea

TellingOurWayTelling Our Way to the Sea: A Voyage of Discovery in the Sea of Cortez
Aaron Hirsh
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
August 2013,  416 pages
Amazon Hardcover $19.35
Amazon Kindle $14.99

Aaron Hirsch and his wife Veronica are both scientists and college professors in the field of the natural sciences. They take a group of students to the Sea of Cortez each summer for teaching and scientific observation. This book narrates one summer’s expedition.

Hirsh paints the picture of a motley crew. He talks about a blind fellow, who gets about nimbly and effortlessly. An Australian guy learns quickly that brash behavior is not safe in this environment. The obligatory prima donna has to keep proving that what anyone has done she has done one better. Some of the best parts of the book describe the interactions and dynamic among Aaron, Veronica, the students, and Graham, the other professor on the trip.

Hirsh frequently veers off into digressions on a variety of themes. He describes the invasion of Baja California by Cortez and his letters back to Spain, which seem to reflect more of what Cortez thought the king wanted to see than the actual reality. He makes forays into biological taxonomy, sea turtles, the migration of whales, and efforts to develop the coastline for tourism.

Hirsh does pay passing tribute to John Steinbeck’s Log from the Sea of Cortez. His story is not Steinbeck’s, so passing tribute is all I would want or expect, but I was happy to see him acknowledge that classic, which is also a lot of fun to read.

If you enjoy popular natural science, travelogues, or the nature of human interaction, I think you’ll like Telling Our Way to the Sea.