our new presiding bishop

As part of my appreciation of all of the marvelous happenings of last week in yesterday’s blog, I briefly mentioned the election of the new presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church. This event deserves more than just a passing mention however, not only because it happens only once every nine years, but because of a couple of a couple of firsts in the election.

BishopCurryOn Saturday 27 June, the Episcopal Church’s 78th General Convention chose Bishop Michael Curry of the Diocese of North Carolina to be its 27th presiding bishop. In the first ballot Bishop Curry received 121 of 174 votes cast. The other three nominees received a combined 53 votes. Never before has the Episcopal Church elected a presiding bishop on the first ballot. Curry is also the first African American elected to that position.

Since the House of Bishops makes the selection, with the House of Deputies simply concurring with the choice, I have to believe that the bishops know their own. And the vote says we must truly have the right person for the job.

Curry’s words suggest to me that he is indeed the right person for the job:

quoteThere’s a lot of suffering in this world. There’s a lot of heartache, there’s a lot of nightmare. We are people who believe that God has a dream and a vision for this world, and that Jesus has shown us how to follow him in the direction of that and how to help this world live into God’s dream and vision for us now.
Our work is actually the work of participating in the Jesus movement, which seeks to realize God’s dream and seeks to accomplish God’s mission in this world.

You may want to read the entire Episcopal News Service story.

As Bishop of the Diocese of North Carolina Bishop Curry recorded a powerful and pastoral video about the Eucharist, which I share with you here. Thanks to Ann Fontaine for posting that to Facebook.

His term starts on All Saints’ Day, 1 November. I am looking forward to that.

that was the week that was

Last week was rather amazing, wasn’t it?

The Supreme Court did the Right Thing on two counts.

On Thursday it focused on the intent and not the letter of the law and ruled that the subsidies in the Affordable Healthcare Act were constitutional, therefore avoiding what might have been chaos in the healthcare world.

The next day the court upheld marriage equality. As my friend Boston Pobble pointed out, there is a lot more work to be done, but this is a big, big step in the right direction.

Also on Friday President Obama delivered a powerful eulogy for the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, and reminded us that an act that what was intended to start a race war has done more to bring us together than anything in many years.

Friday evening the USA women beat China 1-0 in the World Cup soccer quarterfinals and will advance to the semi-finals against Germany on Tuesday.

On Saturday, Bishop Michael Curry of North Carolina was overwhelmingly elected 27th Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church on the first ballot. He is the first African American to hold that position. Thanks to Susan Russell for this quote from his post-election press conference:

quoteIt’s marriage. It’s not gay marriage; it’s not straight marriage
— it’s marriage

That was the week that was, and what a week it was.

Sacred Music Friday: Lift Every Voice and Sing

A very young Ray Charles on the Dick Cavett Show September 18, 1972, with the Raelettes: Vernita Moss, Susaye Green, Mable John, Dorothy Berry, & Estella Yarbrough.

an unexpected conversation

I don’t normally make my Scotch buying habits a topic of conversation. In Gilroy it was probably limited to the fact that I had recently been buying my Scotch at Costco, but that when Costco stopped carrying J&B I went back to buying it at BevMo.

Somehow it became an extensive conversation at breakfast/lunch with the family on Friday. It revolved around the fact J&B has become harder to find and when it can be found in Hemet it is expensive. The solution is to go to BevMo which is either 30 minutes south or 25 minutes east of the Four Seasons community.

But then it also became a discussion about brands of Scotch (and other) whiskey. What was interesting was that the conversation was with my nephew Eric. I forget that he is not the youngster that he once was, but is an adult in his thirties. While he prefers Jameson, which is Irish whiskey, I stick to Scotch. And I’m very partial to J&B. When we first moved in I bought a small bottle of Dewar’s at a local liquor store. It is actually more expensive than J&B, but I like it less. I find it has a smoky taste, with which Eric agrees. (Remember the full-page “Dewar’s Profile” ads in magazines like Harper’s and The Atlantic in the 1970’s?) I bought a bottle of Cutty Sark at the grocery store, which is a somewhat passable substitute for J&B, but it also is not J&B.

So I drive to BevMo and have conversations about Scotch with my nephew.

highway names

There are a lot of differences in Northern and Southern California culture. One of them is how we talk about highways. In SoCalHighwaysNorthern California we never put “the” in front of the highway number. We say “101” or “280” or “85.”

Down here it is “the 10,” “the 60,” or “the 15.” Traffic reporters do it and so do the newspapers.

While my Bay Area snobbery prefers that method, the region can’t afford to be too snobby.

After all, in Northern California we talk about The El Camino Real: “The The Royal Road.”

Episcopal worship

I learned Episcopal worship the traditional way at All Saints’ in Palo Alto: juggling the worship folder, the prayer book, and the hymnal. That’s what we did at St. Stephen’s in-the-field as well.

Things were different during my ten-year sojourn in the Lutheran church. The liturgy and hymns were together in one book, so juggling was not an issue.

At St. John the Divine in Morgan Hill the entire service was printed in the worship folder: the hymns, the creed, the Prayers of the People, the confession, the Eucharist prayer, everything. That makes things simpler and avoids the need to do any juggling. It also makes things easier for people new to Episcopal liturgical worship. Not that we had many of those. Most newcomers knew exactly what Episcopal worship was like. (One Sunday a well-dressed older woman whom I hadn’t seen before very primly pulled out both the prayer book and the hymnal in preparation for worship, not realizing that she wouldn’t need either.)

BCPandHymnalHere in Hemet at Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd we use the hymnal and the prayer book. We also use the supplemental hymnal Renew! with some regularity. So there is plenty of juggling.

I like that. I prefer it. I love holding the Book of Common Prayer in my hands. It gives me a feeling of connection with the Episcopal tradition and other Episcopal worshippers.

Then there is something else. In the St. John’s worship folder the Nicene creed and the confession are all scrunched together in block paragraphs. In the prayer book they are spread out in verse form, so I get a feel for their rhythm and cadence.

For me, it is Episcopal worship as it is meant to be.

prophetic and pastoral

The Episcopal priest and social justice advocate Susan Russell posted the following on Facebook Saturday evening:

quoteMy other random thought du jour as we head to #GC78:1 Can we get OVER the competitive/scarcity paradigm that if we’re prophetic we can’t be pastoral and if we’re pastoral we’re selling out our prophetic voice and recognize if we can’t figure out how to be a both/and church nobody is going to be left to care about either?

She nailed it here. I responded with the following comment:

Speaking as a lay person, I have to say “exactly right!” I need my priest to be prophetic in her Sunday sermon, and we all need to know that she is there to address our pastoral needs as they arise throughout the week.

Interestingly, that comment got four Likes. It seems that many of us in the laity believe that Susan has it right.

Fr. Phil at St. John the Divine in Morgan Hill had no problem being prophetic in his sermons. At the same time his pastoral radar was always up and running. When Terry’s stepfather died and she headed south to help her sister take care of things, Fr. Phil’s response was prompt and pastoral.

Here in Hemet at Good Shepherd Episcopal I have heard Pastor Kathleen be prophetic from the pulpit (virtually speaking: she doesn’t use one) more than once. Her response yesterday to the Charleston shootings was marvelously prophetic. I won’t try to paraphrase what she said because I won’t do it justice, but believe me, she nailed it. At the same time I see regularly how important the pastoral aspect is to her ministry.

We need both. I admire and respect those priests who give us both.

1 The Episcopal Church’s 78th triennial General Convention convening in Salt Lake City this week

Sacred Music Friday: Flight Song

“Flight Song” by Norwegian composer Kim André Arnesen, performed by the St. Olaf Choir, Anton Armstrong, Conductor. Words by Euan Tait.

Real People

RealPeopleReal People: A Novel
Alison Lurie
Open Road Media (originally published 1969), 188 pages
Kindle edition, $9.99
Purchased as an Early Bird Books special for $2.99

Real People is a portrait of a group of visitors at Illyria, a fictional retreat for artists and writers. The narrator, Janet, is a writer of moderate success who is also a wife and mother. Although feeling somewhat guilty about leaving her family, she is spending time at Illyria to focus on her writing.

Things start out well enough and Janet is happy to see a friend from a previous visit. Janet and the others enjoy the interaction with each other and struggle with actually doing the work that they are there to do. Quickly, however, things start to fall apart and relationships deteriorate and become tense. The goddaughter of the owner of the retreat plays the role of femme fatale, and has a central role in the deterioration of those relationships.

In the end there is no great climax, and conspiracy theories about the role of the goddaughter in some sort of Dickensian Miss Havisham revenge plot are dismissed.

Real People does not offer anything profound, but it is an enjoyable diversion about the artistic life.

a different Saturday routine

Terry and I long had a standard Saturday morning routine. We slept late and fixed a big breakfast. It normally included scrambled eggs and sausage. Sometimes we would have waffles instead. For the past couple of years we got our sausage from Rocca’s Market and I squeezed fresh orange juice (thank you Tahoe Mom!). We listened to West Coast Live via the live KALW stream.

But we’ve moved, and new shows on WCL have become so sporadic it’s hard for me to give the show much respect any longer. And in any case, things are done differently down here.

My brother Brian and sister-in-law Bobbie, my dad, our nephew Eric and his daughter Teaghan have long gotten together for a late breakfast, brunch really, on Saturdays. We are now part of that routine.

It works like this: once Brian and Bobbie are up and moving about they make a decision as to where we’re going to meet for breakfast. They then let everyone know. They have a rotation of locally owned restaurants, at which they are well-known and valued customers, from which they select. The decision is always last-minute and we never know which place they will choose. We generally meet some time between 10:00 and 11:00.

It is a very different routine for us, but it is a lot of fun sharing a meal and conversation with family.