Thursday, October 30, 2008

Greetings from Chicago

It's only going to get more busy, so while there is still time, a little update:

1. The weather is clear and gorgeous and almost warm. We had a spectacular view flying down over Chicago at night with the city's grid landscape all light up.

2. It took me as long to get from O'Hare to the hotel downtown as it did for the plane to fly from Greensboro to Chicago.

3. The hotel staff calls me "Miss." (In Greensboro it would be "Ma'am.")

4. The hotel is a maze. I've gotten lost twice already, and I am a veteran of much girl scouting with a good sense of direction.

5. I went in search of food and found pappardelle with vegetables and some kind of fancy-shmancy parmesan. I almost ordered room service but it was the same food, only pricier, and it's already bad enough. So I suffered through the noisy half-closed hotel restaurant. Question: WHY do semi-chichi places feel they have to blast rock music through their eateries and lounges? You can't heard yourself think. With this statement, I am officially an Old Fart.

6. I have run into several friends and colleagues already. The conference officially begins Saturday but there are a gazillion pre-conference meetings. There are relatively few of us around, though. Tomorrow night and Saturday it will get truly crazy.

7. I left my name badge and other registration stuff at home because the study at my new house is only half set up and I was rushing to leave after my 4 p.m. class and changing cat-sitter plans. Stupid, stupid. For once I had registered early and had all my paperwork. I even rescued it carefully when the house thing happened and put the AAR registration materials envelope with my folders of Very Important Stuff That I Moved By Hand. It's not an enormous big deal, since the registration people will have me in their computer, but it does mean I will have to stand in line. And I might not have as pretty a nametag. Big crises I can deal with -- it's the little stuff that gets me.

8. I also left the eat-at-the-airport yogurt at home in its cute little pot with the plastic spoon I had carefully put with it, hence my need to rustle up dinner when I arrived here. Oh well.

9. There is construction on Wabash under the El. There is always construction somewhere in downtown Chicago. Wait, I haven't been here in 15 years, this generalization won't work.

10. I ran into Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim (who are married to each other) and had a lovely chat with them. They invited me to the Religion and Ecology Luncheon tomorrow. They've been at Yale for three years and are happy there. We knew each other in Berkeley. They are also leading an afternoon session with this description:
This session will feature the new film Heart of the Universe with Brian Swimme. This is the first film to offer a comprehensive narrative of the evolution of the universe and the earth. The film draws on the best of current science blended with a poetic sensibility that evokes awe and wonder. This symposium will be led by Brian Swimme and Mary Evelyn Tucker, who together wrote the script and the accompanying book.

I know this will be wonderful and groovy, but I think I will just go to the lunch. Tomorrow is for the Art Institute and working on my paper and also for remedying my registration materials problems, and then at 4 p.m. is the annual meeting of the Feminist Liberation Theologians Network (FLTN, this is the land of acronyms, as are most professional organizations or clusters of organizations) and we're off and running.

In case I don't write again for a while: Saturday morning (another pre-conference meeting) is the Society for the Study of Anglicanism (SSA). Topic: "Christ and Culture: Post-Lambeth Perspectives." (I just added a whole paragraph here and decided to delete it for reasons of diplomacy. What I will say is that I'm not sure I want to spend an entire morning on Lambeth postmortems right now.)

At the same time are a forum on religion and violence, a panel on "Presidential Politics and Religious Rhetoric", a meeting of the Society for Buddhist/Christian Studies with a focus on Merton this year (boy, that one is tempting), and the Presidential Address at the Society for the Study of Christian Spirituality (Mary Frohlich, Catholic Theological Union, Chicago on "Under the Sign of Jonah: Studying Spirituality in a Time of Ecosystemic Crisis") , a Global Ethics and Religion Forum on "The Role of Religion in a Just and Sustainable World" with six panelists from different fields, and numerous other sessions. And that's before the official beginning of the AAR.

All for today. Peace out.

Photo of a little something from "Iconic Chicago Chocolate Maker Fannie May" (dixit a local business rag), whose newish store I (in the airport van) passed on Wabash.

A day late but not too late: No on 8

P.S. Missed the blogswarm yesterday, since it was my 8 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. work day, but dear Californians, please vote no on 8. Let people love each other, for goodness' sake.

And preserve their human and civil rights.

Here's a link to Fran's post and another to Paul's.

Second City bound

Remember last November? The American Academy of Religion (AAR), just before its split from the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) (rumor has it the two Annual Meetings are going to get back together, but I digress), was at the two societies' joint conference, just before Thanksgiving, in San Diego. I was a little wacked out from jet lag and culture shock, having just returned from another conference in Belgium with a side trip to Paris, or maybe Belgium was the side trip and Paris was the main course; they were both wonderful.

At the San Diego meeting my colleague Eric and I were interviewing candidates, sixteen of them as I recall, for the soon to be vacant position in our department (and eventually, in the spring, hired Parveen, our new colleague who arrived two and a half months ago) and the conference was half consumed with that work. It was tiring. I also was a respondent to a paper and attended a few other sessions besides the one at which I was a respondent. It's like going to school for three days, except that last year I couldn't do as much learning as usual due to our being "in a search," as they say in academe. I did manage to have a meal or two with friends.

This fall the two professional societies are meeting separately and at different times in November, and I am only going to one of those conferences, the AAR one, which is in Chicago this year. It begins this weekend. I head for Chicago later today, after my late afternoon class, because I have a pre-conference meeting tomorrow and also because I want to make sure I get to the Art Institute, which is very close to the hotel. Girl with no social life and a big culture deficit finally gets a break.

It's especially nice to see some of my friends and colleagues from the West Coast. I'll be seeing some from California and Oregon this year, and also some folks from the U.K. and a colleague from Mexico I haven't seen in years.

My publisher is throwing me a little party Sunday night in honor of the book's release; Chicago folks or people with Chicago peeps (ahoy Dennis) write me at widsauthor at earthlink dot net, and I can have Amanda The Publicist contact them with the info.

Monday morning I am presenting a paper (my first one at the AAR, I have only given responses to other people's papers thus far, the competition can be stiff to get a paper accepted) in the morning. Have I finished writing it yet? Of course not. The title of the paper is pretty sexy, but if I write it here MadPriest will mock me (he had a field day with this last year) so perhaps I'll just write it in the Comments section below.

In the afternoon I am presiding at a session where other people are giving papers. It's not as glamorous as it sounds: I get to be the timekeeper and hold up little signs saying "TWO MINUTES" and I facilitate the discussion after everyone has presented.

Then I fly back to Greensboro, and Godde and the airlines willing, get in not too late, get a good night's sleep, and get up Election Day and volunteer for the Obama campaign until it's time to teach my afternoon class. Yes we can.

5 days.

Brought to you by your daily ¡Sí, se puede!

Activated till the polls close on November 4.

Photo: Camel and Rider, Tang dynasty (618-907 C.E.), China, 1st half of 8th century. Permanent Collection, Art Institute, Chicago.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

It's here!

Thanks to a staff person who will remain nameless, a copy of the brand spankin' new edition of the paperback of When in Doubt, Sing made its way by overnight UPS to the door of my house, where I went and fetched it after lunch and between worky engagements. Good thing I live near my place of employ. The book is beautiful and I love holding it in my hot little hands.

I presented it to Miss Maya Pavlova as soon as I took it out of the wrapping and placed it on the floor. She showed no interest because she was showing me her belly, which she does whenever I walk in the door. (Drop to floor, roll on back, show off fuzzy tummy, roll around on back for a while.) Then she came up to it and sniffed it (it smells brand new and definitely not like cat food), placed two paws on it in blessing, and returned to her feline pursuits.

I took a couple of photos of her with the book later on but she was really not interested in posing, because she was washing her paws, and in the land of cats, this takes precedence over literature. Cats already have great literature in their heads.

But I think Her Grace, the Feline Bishop Extraordinaire, will allow herself to be photographed again with a different attitude toward the book. Give her a little time. For now, I am back at the office after a Division Meeting (that's the Humanities Division, of which the Religious Studies Department is a member) at which we discussed the current humongous budget cuts at the college. Not cheery. I am teaching tonight, but not till 8 p.m., so it's possible I will go home for a bit of chicken soup (a new batch). +Maya Pavlova will be interested in that.

This bears repeating: yes, we can.

An oldish video by now (over a million hits on YouTube), but it's a good day for a replay.


Thanks to my friend Paul, the Byzigenous Buddhapalian, for the reminder, and for being a man who does not shy away from tears.

6 days.

Brought to you by your daily ¡Sí, se puede!

Activated till the polls close on November 4.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Making a book, cont'd (and Chicago party reminder)

Lest you think all we do here is self-promotion, let me note that we also promote our family and our friends. And our favorite presidential candidate. All in one day, in this case.

We are, however, back in the land of shameless self-promotion -- or rather, book promotion.

When we last checked in with the new paperback edition of When in Doubt, Sing (a.k.a. WIDS), we got a look at the inside of the book, i.e. the printed pages. Now we get a look at the cover. And at the whole book, though it is still in process. Click on photos to enlarge and see detail.

The press is in Indiana, as are the publishing offices. Ave Maria Press (under whose imprint, Sorin Books, WIDS is being published) has its roots in the Ave Maria magazine, begun by the same Holy Cross priest, Edward Sorin, who founded the University of Notre Dame. Sorin, in an unusual move for his day, handed over the reins to Sister Angela Gilespie, a nurse veteran of the Civil War, who ran the magazine for many years.

This is binderyman Mike Doll.

Bonus photo (with Mike in the background) for people who like machines and mechanical things.

Tom the Publisher writes:

It's a real book! At least we have a few samples. By the end of the day the whole run should be complete. The first step is to fill (and refill) the pockets with the 15 32-page signatures [note from Jane: a signature is a stack of pages] of the book. (It's a big book!) Then the signatures are gathered together and wrapped in the cover. Heat is applied to secure the glue. Then the book blocks are stacked on pallets awaiting the final step, which is to trim the excess from three sides of the book.

This is Amanda Williams, otherwise known as Publicist of Acts of Hope and Amanda the Publicist. She visits this blog now and again, and she is organizing the Chicago book party. See below on this post for info on the party.

Great photo of Amanda the Publicist with WIDS.

Where, oh where, is a photo of Publisher of Acts of Hope? Once again, thanks to Ave Maria Press Publisher and President Tom Grady, who is modestly hiding off-camera, but who is bringing you this series of pictures, and the book.

When in Doubt, Sing: Prayer in Daily Life

by Jane Redmont

Coming November 1, All Saints' Day!

As previously noted on this blog, there are contact people for sales, promotion and author appearances. See here.

Reminder: There will be a book party at the American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting in Chicago, next Sunday night. That's November 3. Contact us if you live in Chicagoland or are planning to be in town for the AAR and you want to come. It's a wine and cheese sort of thing. With books, of course, and yours truly, and Amanda the Publicist (Tom the Publisher has a family commitment and cannot be there) and friends from hither and yon.

Contact Amanda Williams, Publicist at 800-282-1865 x206 or Awilli21 at nd dot edu.

You can also write me at widsauthor at earthlink dot net.

Yes, there will be a party in Greensboro, later in the fall or early winter, and probably something in Boston, too. Any excuse for a party is good.

The book is up on (with a discount!), but you can also support your local independent bookstore and order it from there.

I hope the book is helpful to you. I wrote it to help people to pray. I welcome your feedback. And yes, I do travel and give talks and facilitate retreats.

Here endeth the promotion message.

Photos: Ave Maria Press. Click on photos to enlarge.

On for Election Day

My local Obama organizer, a smart and polite young man, called me and signed me up for a volunteer shift on Election Day. I am headed for the American Academy of Religion (AAR) Annual Meeting later this week, but will be back, Godde willing, on Monday night. I don't teach till late afternoon on Tuesday, so I am canceling my early afternoons office hours (the other office hours are after class that day, so the little darlings will still have access to me) and devoting my morning plus a few additional hours to helping get out the vote.

For the rallying cry from Louisiana, see here, and don't miss the link to the Zydeco video.

8 days.

Brought to you by your daily ¡Sí, se puede!

Activated till the polls close on November 4.

Another stay of execution for Troy Davis

I meant to post this before the weekend. Troy Davis has received another stay of execution.

There were rallies around the world last week in support of Mr. Davis and in protest of the scheduled execution.

Stay informed.


A little prayer wouldn't hurt, either.

A midnight postscriptum: My friend Ethan at the Fellowship of Reconciliation has a fine post on Troy Davis and the death penalty here.

Slow Food conquers the world from Italy

Ahoy, foodies! Brother of Acts of Hope, ever on the watch for Italy stories, Turkey stories, and Italy-Turkey stories, has written an article on Turin (the city in Northern Italy) and the Slow Food movement. As in the case of previous stories we have highlighted here, this comes to you from the Turkish Daily News, Istanbul's English-language paper. I have mentioned before that they are a bit wiggy with the punctuation. Here the editors have made a typo in the headline. Don't blame my brother. The article is good.

Yes, the whole Acts of Hope family is a foodie family. Food and media.


And enjoy your food.

Snazzy Mimi, the Brainy Belle of the Bayou, Hits Headlines on HuffPo

I meant to get to this yesterday, but it's been one of those wild work-y periods, including all weekend. But I have napped and I have talked with our local Obama organizer and +Maya and I have eaten, and now it is time to toot our fabulous friend's horn.

Grandmère Mimi, already famous in this corner of the blogosphere, is the star of an article at the Huffington Post (a.k.a. HuffPo) by Georgianne Nienaber. It's a very good piece and captures the intelligence, warmth, and passion of our Mimi. The headline is, well, sexist (would they have called Mimi's husband "Granddaddy") though catchy. (No, "Belle" above is not sexist. I will call Mimi's spouse a "Debonair Dad" any day now. And she's a brainy belle. All hail to Smart Southern Women, eh Doxy?)

You can read Mimi's tale of the HuffPo adventure here. There is a link to the HuffPo story in that post. You can also go directly to HuffPo to read the story here, and you can read Mimi's comment on the aftermath of the story here. Enjoy!

Here is Mimi's bookshelf, as photographed by HuffPo.

You'll have to go to the article itself to see a photo of Mimi with her sparkling smile. (Can you see the mischief and wisdom there too?) HuffPo also published Mimi's "element" photo from our own canine bishop +Clumber's archives, but without explaining the Anglican context.

Bonus video, also courtesy of Mimi but in a different post: Zydeco for Obama! Oui, on peut.

Hurrah for Mimi. Long may you blog in the great state of Louisiana, dear Mimi. Your fans are cheering.

We're also voting.

Yes, we can.

8 days.

Brought to you by your daily ¡Sí, se puede!

Activated till the polls close on November 4.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Night prayer

Now that the sun has set,
I sit and rest, and think of you.
Give my weary body peace.
Let my legs and arms stop aching.
Let my nose stop sneezing.
Let my head stop thinking.
Let me sleep in your arms.

8888888888 - Traditional Dinka prayer (Sudan)

(Found in Phil Cousineau, ed., Prayers at 3 A.M. Quoted in Jane Redmont, When in Doubt, Sing.)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Episcopal and other resources on creation, science, and religion

A while back I posted some science-and-religion resources. They are still alive and kicking and here is the link.

Meanwhile, I am just back from Hillsborough where I met with the candidates (well, three candidates and one postulant) for the vocational diaconate, to whom I teach theology once every few weeks this fall, and I promised them I would post a link or two to the Catechism of Creation. The Catechism of Creation is one of the better efforts of our national Church and comes out of the Executive Council's Committee on Science, Technology and Faith.

So I posted the resources to the Deacon Theology blog, which is not open to the public, and was thinking of making a post here to share the resources with a broader audience.

But first, moving into web-bopping mode as one does in these distracted and curious days, I went over to my friend Paul's (Paul a.k.a. the Byzigenous Buddhapalian) and what should I read but this.

Folks, science is important to our society. If this is the way the Governor of Alaska thinks of research, we are in big trouble if she gets anywhere near Washington. How does she think her lipstick got here? That's chemistry research, Governor, and so is hair dye. And your microphone is technology. So is your SUV. So is your pap smear. Wake up and smell the fruit flies.

Oh, and here is the info I posted to the deacon theology blog. (Deacon Formation Program, Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina. October 25, 2008.) Thanks to TCR for the photos.

* * * * * * *

The Catechism of Creation was prepared in 2005 by the Committee on Science, Technology and Faith of The Executive Council of The Episcopal Church. It is a great resource.

Main resource page for the Catechism of Creation with related resources.

The home page of the Episcopal Church Network for Science, Technology, and Faith is here. The page of the Executive Council Committee on Science, Technology and Faith is here.

Text of the Catechism of Creation in pdf.

There are also links to specific sections in the Catechism of Creation via the main resource page at the first link above. You can also find related Bible studies there. It's a fine resource for Adult Forums, Youth Ministry, Christian Education, professional support and study groups, Bible study, or your own edification -- and preaching too!

Here's the Episcopal Ecological Network.

And here's the Society of Ordained Scientists!

Photos by The Cunning Runt of Little Bang Theory. Click to enlarge.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Hope and discipline

I voted today. North Carolina is one of the early-voting states. I arrived at the polling place sometime after 2 p.m. and the parking lot was nearly full. Inside, there was a long line. I have never since I moved here seen so many people at the polls. I thanked the poll workers who helped me and so many others and commented to one of them about the numbers. "It's been this way every day this week," he said. (I had thought to myself that the high numbers might have something to do with its being a Friday afternoon.) "We've had about 900 people a day."

Everyone was serious and purposeful. There was a tiny bit of joking. No one said anything partisan. People waited their turn patiently and no one complained about the queue.

The comparison is not really apt, because for so many decades there was no vote for the people of South Africa, but still, the only event to which I can compare this is the first free democratic vote in South Africa, when the new photos showed us lines of people, patiently waiting, focused on their purpose, with a kind of buzz in the air that was in some ways more sober than jubilant. Government by, of, and for the people is serious business.

Like FranIAm and Grandmère Mimi, I have been obsessing about the election. For two hours before I voted and at least an hour after, I could not concentrate. I ran errands after going to vote, and at the bank I commented to the woman behind me on line (young, African American) how many folks I had just seen at the polls. "Everyone wants to get out there and make history," she said calmly.

I long for a president who will call us to service and sacrifice. We are a bloated and lazy nation in many ways --I count myself in the lot-- and it has been years, decades, since anyone has taken the lead in telling us that the energy crisis, the environmental crisis, the economic crisis, all of those and more, will require effort and self-denial on all our parts and collective work for the common good. It's our work our country needs and we need, not just "the government over there" or the corporations, though I long and call for their engagement and structural change and all the rest.

I pray that this will come to pass. I pray and I will defend to the end the rights of those who do not pray and do not wish to pray. I think Barack Obama has the potential to lead us in both hope and discipline --we need one as much as the other-- and I think it is hope that helps us to engage in discipline, and sometimes, if the discipline is healthy (a big if, I know, as abuses of political and religious power have forever shown) discipline that can lead to hope.

I pray also, in this nation whose religious liberty I will forever honor and whose establishment clause I firmly support, I pray for our nation and I pray for the safety of our candidates, of "that one" especially.

I am still stunned by the experience of voting this year. I have not seen an election like this since 1984. (Reagan's re-election and Mondale-Ferraro and the nuclear buildup.) In other ways I have never seen an election like this, and yes, race has something to do with it. I never dreamed that I would be involved in this kind of election, much less in the American South. (I am also remembering Jesse Jackson's candidacy, with all its flaws, and other predecessor events to this year's election.)

Perhaps I need not say, but I will say it anyway: the sacrifice and discipline of which I am speaking do not involve military violence.

The polar ice cap is melting, the economy is imploding, the poor are getting poorer, our soldiers die abroad, mothers clutch bone-thin children in Darfur and fathers weep for their daughters and sons in Israel and Palestine, and doggedly, with hope in our guts, we stand in line and vote.

Hope is not born in optimistic times. Hope is born in times of fear and dread and oppression and threat.

Hope and vote. Vote and hope.

J.T. weighs in

A form letter, via e-mail, but hey, I'll take my correspondence from James Taylor in any form. It arrived a few days ago but I was deep in the teaching week and last night I didn't have time to finish this post last night because I was engaged in shameless self-promotion about the book and study of the long, long, long North Carolina ballot so that I could go vote today.

Dear Jane,

I grew up in North Carolina. To me, it will always feel like home. And today, I'm not the only one with Carolina in my mind. In fact, the whole country is looking to our state to make the difference.

There's something different in the air this year. I've sensed it in the crowds I've played to, and seen it in the eyes of folks I've talked with. North Carolinians are hungry for a change. And for the first time in a generation, the presidential race could go either way in this state -- it's all up to us.

That's why this week I'm doing my part by traveling around the state I love, using my voice to tell everyone I can reach that it's time to vote for change. And now I'm asking you to do your bit. Find a Campaign for Change office near you and volunteer to talk to voters. The Obama campaign has a plan to win North Carolina, but they need 100,000 volunteer hours to pull it off. I'm going to give as many as I can, and I hope you'll join me.

We all know that we have some serious challenges to solve: The economy is in rough shape, jobs are disappearing, and quality, affordable health care is out of reach for far too many.

Across the country, folks are realizing that the only way to really tackle these challenges is to work together. If we let ourselves be divided by party, race, or fear, we'll fail. And the stakes are just too high to let that happen.

This spirit of unity and purpose is what Barack Obama's campaign is all about, and it's why I'm a proud supporter.

But proud support is not enough right now. We have to get out there, tell folks they can start voting today, and make sure they do. So please, sign up to join me and volunteer as much as you can this week.

[There was a link to "mybarackobama" here - I am replacing it with a universal link here so you can all log in and explore the possibility of volunteering. Remember there are many ways of volunteering and you can find one that suits you. You can also contact your local campaign office rather than poking around the Web. There are campaign offices all over the country. When you get to the main website, click on "states" to locate the office nearest to you. - JR]

Together you and I, and the great state of North Carolina, are going to put our country back on the right track.

Thank you,

James Taylor

Paid for by Obama for America

And here's your bonus: A much younger J.T. singing "Carolina in my mind."

Taylor is doubly a landsman of mine, since he now lives in Massachusetts and I lived in Massachusetts for many, many years.

11 days.

Brought to you by your daily ¡Sí, se puede!

Activated till the polls close on November 4.

It was bound to happen

Hat tip to Caminante.

11 days.

Brought to you by your daily ¡Sí, se puede!

Activated till the polls close on November 4.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Making a book

My very nice publisher, Tom Grady, sent me some photos yesterday. This is the new edition of When in Doubt, Sing in production.

Tom writes: "The sheets have all been printed, and now it's being folded and gathered in preparation for the binding either later this week or early next."

Isn't this fun? I don't know the name of the bearded printer, but he's in Indiana and that really is my book. Enjoy.

(Friday: Now I do, thanks to Amanda the Publicist: His name is Robbie Thomas and he's the binderyman.)

Coincidentally, just yesterday, in one of my classes on Christianity in the 16th century, I was telling my students about the relationship among the advent of the printing press, Christian humanism, and the Reformation.

I love books. Always have. One of my favorite books as a child was a French novel called La Petite Plantin, about the daughter of a printer named Christophe Plantin (a real historical person) who lived and worked in the Low Countries (Antwerp, if I remember correctly -- Anvers in French, a city in what is now Belgium) after the invention of the printing press and during the rise of the Reformation. I loved it because it had a strong female heroine, printing presses, language, and even a love story, though that was not the central thread of the biography. What is interesting is that the big project in the story is a multilingual (polyglot) Bible and that at the time I read the story I had no idea that I would become an active Christian, much less a preacher, nor that I would be teaching Christian history and theology. I just loved the book. I still think of it. I don't know where my copy is. When my parents moved from France back to the U.S. they couldn't move all my old books and many of my childhood books stayed in Europe. They gave some to friends and family so it's possible my goddaughter's family have some of them. Perhaps some day I'll find and read that book again.

I also love printing presses -- and old-fashioned teletype machines. My father was a journalist when I was growing up and I remember visiting his office when I was young and he was working for a news agency. It had a newsroom in the old style, wide open with everyone working in one space, and you could hear the clatter of typewriters and of the teletype. To this day I find those sounds both comforting and exciting. I also used to fall asleep to the sound of my father's typewriter in the next room. To me, this is one of the sounds of home. The typewriters are in storage (I don't think either my father or I can bear to let go of our typewriters even though we no longer use them) and both of us --and my mother and brother too-- have computers with near-silent keyboards, but the sound of the typewriter is like a heartbeat to me.

The sound of my mother's heartbeat, the sound of my father's typewriter. Yes, I am one of those people with ink in their veins.

Photos: Ave Maria Press. Click on photos to enlarge.

Our Prayer, Not My Prayer (a WIDS excerpt)

As promised and somewhat belatedly, a bit of spiritual nourishment. Chew on it and see whether it feeds you.

An excerpt from the beginning of Chapter 15 of When in Doubt, Sing: Prayer in Daily Life by Jane Redmont (Sorin Books, 2008).

“I am,” the African proverb says, “because we are.” One cannot be a Christian away in a corner. Even hermits pray as members of the universal church. We are always linked in prayer with those who share our faith and our tradition, across geography and through history. We speak their words. We speak their names. We draw from their strength.

“How can I find God?” The question came to Jim Martin, a young Jesuit writer and editor, from a close friend who had “lost touch with her church. Like many contemporary Americans, while she viewed herself as ‘nonreligious,’ she admired friends who lived lives of faith, and desired that faith for herself. Still, she was essentially a skeptical woman---intelligent and well-educated---living in a secular culture…. I did the best I could, and then decided to ask other people of faith what they might tell my friend.” Like many of the people Jim Martin consulted, and whose answers he later published, I offered the caution that it is more naturally God who finds us. Remembering Jesus’ invitation, “Come and see” to the would-be disciples, I also offered a pragmatic approach. Don’t think too much about finding God: do something, and the finding will follow. Do it on two levels. Find what speaks to your deepest heart. Go to that intimate place where you are infinitely sad, or ecstatic, or creative and talented, or bereft, or deeply engaged, and there you will find God, if you enter into that place and ask what it means for you and for the rest of the world that you are there. The other level may be even more important because you have asked, “How can I find God?” To “find God,” I suggested, “go find yourself a ‘we’.” I would have answered in much the same way if she had asked: “How can I learn to pray?”

Go find yourself a “we,” I insisted. A community, any community. A Christian community, if the path into which you were born or are drawn is Christian; a Jewish one, if you are a Jew by birth or by choice; a Muslim one if that is your path. I would say the same of the great religious paths that do not have a “God,” such as Buddhism---where one “takes refuge in the Buddha, the dharma (Buddhist teaching and practice), and the sangha (the community).” Find yourself a community of practice and of faith---one that meets your standards of intellectual honesty, lack of hypocrisy, sincere concern for others, non-coercive welcome of the stranger. If the community is Christian, the “we” might be a parish, where worship may be noisy or quiet, structured or chaotic. The “we” might well also be a prayer group---contemplative, charismatic, or other---or a Bible study group, a women’s liturgical gathering, a Catholic Worker community, a team that cares and prays for people with AIDS, or an adult education class with some soul and some teeth. You may have to look around, and you may have to try a few different communities, I wrote Jim’s friend. Given them a chance. “Come and see.” Then stay for a while. See what happens.

I know. Groups are difficult. Common life is messy. Institutional religion may have wounded you, I wrote---hence my listing of several forms of community, in the hope that one might serve as a gateway into the common life that is faith. God alone can answer the lonely yearning inside that heart of yours which is like no other heart. But God without the “we” experience is not the God of whom the Jewish and Christian Scriptures speak, nor the God whose message the Prophet Mohammed carried to the people who became followers of the path of Islam. God---“I will be who I will be”---is involved in history, in our history. In this history, we meet companions. In their friendship, we find God, and God finds us.

(c) Jane Redmont, 1999, 2008

October 23: James of Jerusalem, brother of Jesus, bishop, martyr

I am slowly crawling my way back to posting on feasts and saints. As always, when my own efforts and time are insufficient--and also when they are not-- I give thanks for the witness of others. Today, warm sisterly thanks to Tobias and Michael (a.k.a. Padre Mickey), priests and teachers.

Icon written by Tobias Stanislas Haller, BSG.

The economy, in brief

Hat tip to my friend ILC in France.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Daily comic relief: Chocolate News on the first Black president

You may have to bear with a short commercial first (sometimes it comes on before the comedy segment, sometimes not) but it's worth it.

What? You don't watch Chocolate News? Another Comedy Central winner. With David Alan Grier.

So think about it: America's first Black president?

Warning: Irreverent, with strong language.

14 days.

Brought to you by your daily ¡Sí, se puede!

Activated till the polls close on November 4.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Alert, NC and TX voters

If you are headed for Early Voting and if you vote a straight Democratic ticket, your presidential vote may not be counted. Seriously. Not a crazy internet piece of spam. Have a look at the post and link over at Paul the BB's place.

Please call your local people and local campaign about this.

The picture worth a thousand words

Okay, I can't resist. This is the picture to which the link below leads. Thanks again to P.J.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Go and see PJ's Picture of the Day

Worth a thousand words.

Carolina is Obama Country

So says a sign a few blocks down on my suburban-ish street, next door to a McCain-Palin sign and two houses from two more McCain-Palin signs.

Two days later, two more signs appeared, tidily planted next to each other on the same lawn: McCain-Palin and Obama. (I don't think the latter had Biden's name on it.) Yup, living together, maybe sleeping together, in the same household.

The campaign is growing more intense in this battleground state as we enter the last two weeks.

The Guardian UK says this morning that the South may be shifting toward the Democratic Party for the first time since the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act came to pass in the mid-1960s. We shall see.

16 days.

Brought to you by your daily ¡Sí, se puede!

Activated till the polls close on November 4.

Yikes, how did I miss this? Le Clézio's Nobel

One more proof that I am not functioning at full tilt: I somehow missed the announcement of this year's Nobel in literature ten days ago, and it went to a Frenchman, too! J.M.G. Le Clézio, and you can read about him here.

Tip of the fedora to Maitresse, whom I wandered over to see in a late night tour of blogs I hadn't visited in a while. Her post about the Nobel is here.

An interesting interview with Le Clézio, pre-Nobel, is here, courtesy of France Diplomatie, the online publication of the French Foreign Ministry (what we call the State Department).

Oh, and the Booker Prize just went to Aravind Adiga (sometimes spelled Adigha), whom I'd never heard of. He's an Indian writer; both he and Amitav Ghosh (whom I have heard of and read) were short-listed this year. Adiga is only 34 and The White Tiger is his first novel.

I want to spend three months doing nothing but reading fiction.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

No more Opus :-(

Click to enlarge.

Salon has an interview with Berkeley Breathed, creator of Opus the Penguin and his band of friends, on why he's ending his strip. It has something to do with the quality (if you can call it that) of our national discourse.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Shabbat Shalom

Go here, on one of the webpages of the Ritual Well, to read a beautiful prayer-song in Ladino (Judeo-Spanish, the Mediterranean equivalent of Yiddish, spoken by Sephardic Jews) and to hear it sung. To hear the music, go to the bottom of the page and click on "click here." Your computer's media player will open up and play the song. This is a blessing to sing before the lighting of the Sabbath candles.

Photo: Detroit Jewish Community Relations Council

Friday cat blogging: Maya in the new place

We are having a somewhat gloomy day at Acts of Hope, weather-wise and otherwise. The resident human, being the queen of delayed reactions, has finally been feeling the impact of the last couple of months with the Great Tree Disaster, the precipitous move, the unceasing onslaught of work, the gazillions of boxes to unpack (remember they were packed in haste -albeit by the moving company- so the chaos factor was high and the labeling accuracy low), six nearly simultaneous deadlines (four of which the aforementioned human did not meet and still has hanging over her increasingly grey head), and several other stressors. There is also the advent of shorter days. Seasonal Affective Disorder, anyone? (Try this. I'm serious.)

The resident feline, on the other hand, is cheery, with the occasional trace of post-traumatic reaction when someone moves furniture or shuffle boxes around. Her Grace does have her favorite napping spots, though, set up by her Canon to the Extraordinary.

When we first moved, she headed for the Canon's pillow every day and sometimes every night. Here she is either opening her eyes from a nap because of the sound of the camera or still freaked out by the move. Behind her is the headboard to the Canon's grandparents' bed, which the tree disaster broke into bits. But it's easy to lean the rescued headboard against the wall and make a plain ol' cheap bed look fancy. We have saved the pieces of the old bed and maybe some day we can have it fixed. We're not holding our breath.

Now Her Grace has migrated and has found other soft spots. She has a perch in the bedroom and another in the living room. Here's the bedroom one. The piece of furniture is the landlady's and instead of having it in a corner, we have it in front of the window. The windows here are much higher up than the windows in the old place. With this particular perch Miss Maya can be up against the window as she likes to be, thanks to these nice open shelves. At first she napped on the bare shelf, quite happily, but now there is an old mattress pad, nice and soft, for her leisure. It's not pretty but it's comfy.

Here's the living room one. The Canon is going to have to move the cushions, one of which belongs elsewhere, but she has held off in the interests of feline episcopal stability, and for about a month this has been the main episcopal seat in the house. Note the sage napping pose.

This is an all-purpose cathedra (bishop's seat). It is good for napping and also for watching kitty tv, of which there is plenty: birds, squirrels, rain, and now a few falling leaves.

It is also good for keeping a lookout for the Canon when she returns home.

Next to the Feline Bishop Extraordinaire is a makeshift curtain of Indian print with elephants on it. We think the Canon to the Extraordinary has had this piece of material since college, but we're not sure. For now, it works to give the living room some privacy.

We took down the landlady's curtains for a variety of aesthetic reasons. The windows are, as they say, butt-ugly, and we are going to get new window treatments, we just haven't yet. (One more thing on the list.) But the old window treatments had to go.

This window is not much of one since it is where the air conditioner lives (the old place had central air conditioning and big picture windows) but it does provide a great place for +Maya Pavlova to jump onto, and sometimes when she is up there, once she has finished looking out at the leaves and the bugs and the birds,

she poses.

She wants you to see both profiles. Aren't they handsome? Is this not the most regal feline bishop you have ever seen, even on top of an air conditioner in a butt-ugly window? Not for nothing is Maya Pavlova the Right Reverend AND Right Honorable.

Here you can see she can still look a little freaked out. Bishops are human, er, feline too, you know. Remember your bishops are breathing feeling animals.

Mostly though, she's okay.

Click on the photos to enlarge them. Especially this last one.

Finally, a good laugh

The lovely and talented PJ, who also has a wicked sense of humor, shares with us this video of Barack "Steve" Obama doing stand-up in white tie at the Al Smith dinner. You must watch it. Put down your coffee mug first or your keyboard will suffer.

Enjoy. Thanks, PJ!

18 days.

Brought to you by your daily ¡Sí, se puede!

Activated till the polls close on November 4.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Troy Davis update: appeal denied

Janinsanfran posted on this on Tuesday. You may remember I posted about Troy Davis a few weeks ago. ("Blood on our hands," September 23.) I'm surprised I have not yet heard from either Amnesty International (which has taken up Davis's case) or People of Faith against the Death Penalty (whose e-mails were a little slow on the uptake last time there was news, but you'd think they'd write us on this one), but Jan heard from Equal Justice USA. The Supreme Court denied Davis's cert (= certiorari) petitition two days ago.

Amnesty does have an update on its website. Davis is scheduled for execution October 27. Pray.

There is a global day of action on October 23 and the Amnesty International site has information on what you can do and whom you can write. The ACLU is also involved in this case. MikeF wrote in from England last time I posted here that there has been significant attention to Troy Davis's case there. I see on AI's site that there has even been a Resolution from the European Parliament.

You can write the Georgia Board of Pardon and Paroles here.

Troy's website is here. I missed his birthday, which was October 9 - hadn't noticed it was coming up. You can still write him a note!

Give to the emperor...

... or as the old translation says, "render to Caesar..."

I haven't preached in a few months, since a while before the tree fell, as Kevin has very kindly not bugged me about getting back on the rota, but we recently had a convergence of my volunteering and his asking (he just got back from CREDO, the same program Padre Mickey went to --different place, different group-- and Caminante will go to next year, and from there had to go almost directly to Clergy Conference) and I am on for Sunday.

I have my thoughts about the several lessons for the day, but I am curious about your collective wisdom on the "render to Caesar" passage. So how 'bout it, campers? Your thoughts.

I'll start: Doing biblical study is a little like doing detective work. The Gospels are not a reporter's account. They tell us as much about the communities that produced them and the communities for whom they were intended as they do about what was going on in Jesus' day. I remember being in a group of people in which one person (an older Presbyterian woman) said the meaning was obvious, and another offered a different, equally obvious to him, interpretation. The fact is, this is one of those texts with which we have to wrestle, in today's context of today's empire. What is certain is that the text points to a preoccupation of the early Christian communities -- their relationship with the empire in which they lived. Remember, too, the last few Sundays, where economics shows up as a major theme. Here we have both economics and politics. And, as always, the kin(g)dom of heaven.

This is the context in which to place the election, the economy, and everything else. But I don't think the answer is a simple formula.

So, have a look. Read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest. Then go to the Comments.

P.S. One rule: I will not allow simplistic interpretations of or misuse of "Pharisees" as "hypocrites" or "bad guys." For more on "Pharisees" and Christian (including progressive Christian) misuse of the term and its promotion of both theological anti-Judaism and antisemitism, see some of Sarah Dylan Breuer's fine reflections on the topic. For Jesus and some of his followers, the Pharisees were family. The disputes with them were internal. We have treated them as if they were disputes with the greater powers of the day, ignoring those powers --those of the Roman Empire. The greatest Pharisee, after whom Jewish campus centers are named? Rabbi Hillel, of precious wisdom and revered humility. Nuff said. Read what Sarah wrote. She's the biblical scholar.

Matthew 22:15-22

The Pharisees went and plotted to entrap Jesus in what he said. So they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, "Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and teach the way of God in accordance with truth, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?" But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, "Why are you putting me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin used for the tax." And they brought him a denarius. Then he said to them, "Whose head is this, and whose title?" They answered, "The emperor's." Then he said to them, "Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor's, and to God the things that are God's." When they heard this, they were amazed; and they left him and went away.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Twenty days till Election Day in the U.S.

I am swamped, as many of you know, so I'm not canvassing or putting in much time beyond things that can be done at the computer, but I am signing up to volunteer on Election Day. I don't teach on Tuesdays till the late afternoon and I think I am going to change my office hours that day, exceptionally, so that I can stay out of work till about 3:30 p.m. I'll be getting back from out of town (academic conference) the previous evening, but I can get up bright and early to drive people to the polls or do some monitoring of polling places -- more likely the former, though I am checking in with the campaign to make sure I'm useful and go where I can do the most good in my local community.

What are YOU doing on Election Day?

What are you doing between now and then?

This isn't a guilt trip (okay, maybe just a little), more like a solidarity call. You don't have to do much. But do something. Even a little something. You'll be helping your country. And therefore helping a lot of people. And you'll feel good.

Make that phone call.

Or sign up online.

20 days.

Brought to you by your daily ¡Sí, se puede!

Activated till the polls close on November 4.

Be prepared...

... be prepared, always, to be part of God's answer to your own prayers ...

That beautiful piece of wisdom is from MikeF at The Mercy Blog. It comes toward the end of his post for Blog Action Day, a bloggers' day on world poverty. FranIAm has also posted for this action.

I am a little low-energy today and looking at four (or is it five?) unfinished projects, none of them optional, so I am re-learning the lesson of the Body of Christ, and remembering to be grateful for my friends whose prayers carry me and who also act when I cannot.

As I write, I am especially grateful for Mike's wisdom.

By the way, Mike just made his Life Profession as a Third Order Franciscan. Read about the fine day at Hifield Friary here, and if you want to know more about what it means to be a Tertiary as opposed to a Brother, don't be afraid to ask Mike! P.S. Mike is also a grandfather and a cat person. +Maya wanted me to write that.

Art: "Communion of Saints," by Ira Thomas. Tip of the fedora to ConcordPastor. (Fran, note, I just found this via a Web search for art on the Communion of Saints!)

Steal back your vote!

Read this piece by Greg Palast and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. here.

See also here. (You can dowload the comic book there, too.)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Phun with Phyllo Dough

Phyllo, fillo, I dunno. I always saw it spelled phyllo. Then I got a package of frozen phyllo dough but the box said fillo, and so did TCR's blog, which I read a few days later. (Coincidentally, TCR and I both decided to experiment with this thin pastry dough around the same time.) So I spelled it fillo here, and PJ, whose real name begins with Phyll, noted that she'd always seen the thing spelled phyllo, and she's probably the bearer of correct spelling, being an MFA and a writing teacher and all.

Anyway, whatever it is, it's good and I have been experimenting with it.

The Cunning Runt (TCR) over at Little Bang Theory has been baking main courses, like seafood in fillo. Yum. I am not much of a baker and thought dessert might be interesting. It being apple season, I made a mix of apples (locally grown), cinnamon, nutmeg (freshly grated if you please), and walnuts (which I happened to have in the freezer; yeah, keep them nuts in the freezer --no jokes please, I mean walnuts and cashews and the like-- so they will not go rancid or get soft) with a touch of maple syrup and then did the phyllo thing and made several different shapes of pastry (flat, rolled, more phyllo layers, fewer phyllo layers) to see what would happen.

"Doing the phyllo thing" means you have to take a sheet of phyllo dough, brush it with oil or melted butter, fold it, repeat, stack, cut, etc. It's basically a puff pastry with most of the work done for you 'cause if you buy this stuff frozen you won't have to make the dough and then roll it as perfectly thin as a Greek or Austrian or Turkish grandmother could do.

The not entirely reliable Wikipedia is pretty accurate about phyllo (the original Greek spelling) or fillo, and notes that this kind of pastry dough appears all over the former Ottoman Empire and its border lands, which is why your Jewish grandmother made strudel and the ladies at Dormition of the Theotokos Greek Orthodox Church up the road (yes, in Greensboro!) make spanakopita and in Turkey cooks make börek, and there are several kinds of baklava from various places around the Mediterranean.

This phyllo turns out to have been not only organic, but vegan. Hence, no dairy. I decided I might as well go all the way and brush the sheets of dough with oil (I used canola oil) as the recipe on the box suggested and not with melted butter. This also, I thought, would mean I could eat lots of whatever I made. Rationalization! Can't live without it! (Remember the quip by the Jeff Goldblum character in "The Big Chill" about how you've had a day without sex but you've never had a single day without rationalization.)

In any event, the key thing, which required a bit of planning, was the defrosting and the refrigerating. Which is a whole lot easier than making the dough from scratch, but you still have to plan, which in most people's lives is not too easy, given children, jobs, spouses, urgent household tasks, unpredictable office or church schedules, et al. This timing is key because the dough can't be too cold or too warm since you have to be able to lift it and fold it and it is paper-thin.

Then there's the fact that you can either 1) refreeze the dough and use it later (meaning you have to go through the whole defrosting thing again) or 2) refrigerate it and remember that it only lasts "a few days."

Things made with phyllo dough don't really last well, not so much re: food safety as re: the dough, which will lose its crispiness if you don't eat all the pastries right away. Of course you could saturate them with sweet syrup and make something baklava-ish, but I am refraining eating baklava more than a few times a year. Also, I don't do super-sweet much. I really didn't want to re-freeeze, so this meant keeping the dough (what was left over after the first baking) in the fridge and using it fast. Three nights in a row. With enough left over for breakfast.

Day One of the Phyllo involved the apple mixture and various shapes and thicknesses of dough.

Day Two of the Phyllo involved the plums I had been saving in the fridge for a couple of weeks, past the end of the plum season, under the illusion that I would make some kind of plum tart or plum crumble or, in extremis, stewed plums. These are cooking plums. I wasn't sure till today what their name was in this country; apparently they are called "Italian plums." They are not the best to eat raw (for a nice sweet-tart juicy plum, you want a Santa Rosa, preferably fresh off a California tree within the last day or two) but they are divine cooked.

Day Three of Phyllo involved an apple mixture again, but with different apples and not very many walnuts, because I ran out of them, so I added some raisins and did not add anything else to sweeten. I used cinnamon again (less than before, I was experimenting with that too) and nutmeg. By then I had figured out the best thickness and shape for this kind of dish. I am now ready to make this for guests.

Reheated in the toaster oven to crisp it up (not quite good enough for guests, but good enough for family), this fruit pastry is also really good for breakfast. And again, it's not super-sweet (the filling is mostly fruit) and the kind of fillo I used had no butter in it.

The same brand, Fillo Factory, makes whole wheat fillo and spelt fillo. Not sure I saw any of those at the food co-op, though. I saw the spelt and whole wheat info on the Web.

Yet another JohnieB update

Various blogger buddies have asked how JohnieB was. Being in possession of his new phone number, I called him, since he is not yet back on the intertubes. You may recall that 1) he moved; 2) his computer went kerflooey; and 3) Miz Scarlett, the cat, was having some issue.

In brief:

JohnieB bought a laptop this a.m.

He has made lamb stew and has had some wine.

He spent three hours on the phone to AT&T today and tomorrow will have visits from the phone people and the cable people. Sounds like my saga with setting up the electronics after my recent move. There are wiring problems with both his phone and his internet.

JohnieB has bought himself some "middle-class furniture" and a rug.

Miz Scarlett is doing better. Her appetite is returning. She is no longer leaving traces of her displeasure in places where she should not. No visit to the kitty psychiatrist was necessary, except, says JohnieB, for the one Scarlett has at home, namely, JohnieB.

Over and out.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Media coverage of elections - and everything else

Father of Acts of Hope has given another presentation at the retirement community's second Election Forum. As usual, he was measured and nuanced and also uttered a few zingers (in gentlemanly manner of course) and talked about issues (imagine that) including one of his favorites, single-payer health care. Though he favors one candidate (easy to guess which), he did not spare criticism of either.

He continues to urge his listeners to exercise critical thinking about the media (of which he was a member for decades) and to get their information from more than one source.

He also acknowledges that it's hard to digest all the information and keep abreast of even the major issues. At the end of his comments (at least according to the notes he sent me), he notes:

Maybe it’s all too much for the media, the public or the candidates, to digest. I remember a story told by David Brinkley on Meet the Press some years ago.

He said you need to recognize there are limits. “If Moses came down from the mountaintop with the Ten Commandments today, how would television news cover that?”

Then Brinkley intoned the answer, “Moses came down from the mountain top today with the Ten Commandments. Here’s Sam Donaldson with the three most important ones.”

Fall break

It is fall break at the college where I teach. I've been sleeping, cooking, continuing to unpack and set up the house, and as of yesterday in the late afternoon, catching up on church work -- and taking lots of quiet time. Also writing three or four posts, which will show up when I finish them. They include a passage on community and prayer from When in Doubt, Sing and a post called "Phun with Phyllo Dough." I also have to finish a report for school, but after that, no school for a week. The solitude is heavenly.

Her Grace the Feline Bishop Extraordinaire is deep in her afternoon nap.

The Adorable Godson is not feeling well and I may have to go in search of another happy chicken. Stay tuned.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Two signs of the times in France

Two interesting stories on French culture and society. Warning: they are in French. I will be happy to provide a short summary in the late evening today; just leave a request in the Comments section.

1. Twelfth transpeople's march in Paris yesterday (Saturday) draws nearly 400 people. The annual Pride march in Paris, which is much larger, has not highlighted transpeople, who felt they needed their own public presence.

2. A former trader on the stock exchange became a monk two decades ago. Still under vows and living in a small community of brothers, he now teaches in a poor immigrant neighborhood of the Southern port city of Marseille.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

October 11: Philip the Deacon

I've always enjoyed Ormonde Plater's blog, Through the Dust, but it has taken on a new dimension for me since I became the theology instructor for the people in the vocational deacon formation program of my diocese this fall. I have, of course, recommended the blog to my deacon-candidate students.

Ormonde has a short post about Philip, about whom we don't know very much, but whose feast is a major one which we celebrate on the same day as the Orthodox Church. Padre Mickey wrote a fine post about Philip last year.

As I think about theology through the lens of diaconal ministry this year, the feast of Philip reminds me (and all who observe the feast) of the proclamation of the Gospel, which is part of the deacons' particular ministry. Of course, deacons, like priests and bishops, remind us through their ministries of all our ministries as baptized Christians. We are all called to proclaim the Gospel, just as we are called to lives of service. Deacons, in embodying these two ministries in a particularly visible way, call all of us to them.

Philip is also the one who catechized and baptized the Ethiopian eunuch. In the person of the eunuch we see someone who, though a person of high position in Queen Candace's court, was sexually outside the societal norm, and who was also an African, active in his embrace of Christianity. We see this in the Ethiopian eunuch's request for baptism and in his initiative in reading the Scriptures. (I have a sermon about this somewhere - must go search for it and retrieve it somehow. There was a winter 2008 computer disaster with my old Berkeley computer about which I have not written here.) In remembering Philip, we remember not only his actions and his faith and his being among the first seven deacons. We also remember, once again, the church that Philip helped to build and its flowering among persons of all races, nations, and manners of life. May the witness of these early Christians be a blessing to us.

Holy One,
whose word is alive in our day
as it was in the days of the apostles,
we bless and praise you
for the life of your servant Philip,

friend of Christ,
bearer of your life,
builder of your community.
In the name of Jesus Christ,
Word made flesh,
and in the power of your Holy Spirit,
we pray.