Saturday, May 31, 2008

More politics, from the thoughtful janinsanfran

My friend Jan of janinsanfran is a much more sophisticated political observer and activist than I. She does it for a living, but also, she is just plain better at it than I am. She has a good post up on feminism, the Democrats, H. Clinton, Obama, and related matters which I commend to you and am going to re-read.

You can get your McCain comments there too -- and not just comments, but facts. Jan is a reality-based blogger, and not reality as in reality show, but reality as in facts and good reporting.

Here endeth (for now) the political update. Go in peace and remember the standard: What is the impact of my political and civic decisions on the most poor and marginalized members of society? That is all.*

*As PJ would say.

Yes, there are cherries here

I posted the photo of the cherries below partly because it was pretty and seasonal and partly because life has not been a bowl of cherries these days given a number of converging pressures. But I am happy to report that there are fresh cherries at my Undisclosed Location (which is urban but has good produce) and that I have eaten a quantity of them, and also strawberries, to round off my birth-month.

I have been working very hard, but things are now easing off. I am well and in addition to having some good breaks from midweek on, I have been enjoying some Sabbath time this weekend, both figuratively and literally, since I accompanied a Jewish friend and her family to synagogue last night. On one of the stained glass windows (this is a historic synagogue and quite old by U.S. standards) is the saying "Feed the hungry. Clothe the naked. Shelter the homeless." Yup, straight out of Isaiah. Jesus didn't get this from nowhere, he got it from his own folk.

Bumper sticker of the week: "GOT HOPE?" Black and white, plain lettering, brought to you by the Obama campaign.

Regular blogging will resume after the weekend, when I am back in the fair state of North Carolina.

Meanwhile, send prayers to my friend Jim who is co-chair of the Democratic Party Rules Committee! (No, my trip had nothing to do with the Democratic Party and I haven't seen Jim and his family in months.) He is a person of deep integrity, I can tell you that. I think the article gives a sense of this.

Many thanks to friends from OCICBW for the prayers during a very stressful time, and special thanks to MadPriest for taking the initiative to put up the request. Now send some prayers his way. He has a little stress of his own. Let us know what we can do besides pray, brother.

P.S. Prayers and good thoughts are also welcome for my friend Ken (see comments) who just lost his job. Or to put it more exactly, whose corporate employer took his job (and the jobs of a bunch of other people) away from him.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Away for a bit

Starting this evening, running off to an undisclosed location. ;-)

Be good to yourselves and to each other and if you want, leave notes in the Comments, I'll probably check in by midweek, or before, or after.

Life isn't exactly a bowl of cherries, but this picture is nice.

Beautiful words for today

The Lessons Appointed for Use on the Sunday Closest to May 25
Proper 3,
Year A, RCL

Isaiah 49:8-16a
Psalm 131
1 Corinthians 4:1-5
Matthew 6:24-34

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Still more writing: "Reclaiming the Sabbath" at the Episcopal Café

Given the way time and lack of time have been issues in my life all year, there is a certain irony in my having written this month's column for the Episcopal Café on Reclaiming the Sabbath.

But we always preach to ourselves, and I think this is an issue for all of us. What the essay addresses more specifically is the Sabbath and the overscheduling of churches, particularly here in the U.S.


And don't forget to read Luiz's fine piece on religious freedom from yesterday.

Friday, May 23, 2008

More writing: friends at the Episcopal Café

Luiz today (Friday) on the front page! Permanent link here.

Luiz's essay is titled "Religious Freedom in a Diverse, Secular Society."

Yours truly tomorrow (Saturday) with link coming in the morning.
*******Sat. -- It's morning and here it is!
*******"Reclaiming the Sabbath" is what it is.

I may make two separate posts at that point. Some of the labels at the bottom of this post are about Luiz's column, others about mine, though "these United States" fits both. We'll see.

Writing (with continuing doggie theme)

Father of Acts of Hope, who is a pretty good writer if I may say so my(daughterly)self, once gave me a copy of this -- I think when I was working on my first book. He gave me the black and white version, though. I still have it. Lo and behold, there is a color version on the Web.

In lieu of Friday cat blogging. Told you, we are dog-friendly here too.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Blog alert, South Africa

My old and dear friend Jim (not old in years, he's younger than I - but we have been friends forever) and his spouse Randy are far from their original home of Massachusetts and on an extended stay in Johannesburg, South Africa. Jim began a blog not long ago and his most recent post is on protests at the university where he and Randy are in Jo'burg - against the xenophobic violence about which you may have heard on the radio. He also writes about wanderings in this new landscape, in and outside the city.

A few of the photos in the most recent post don't show up (at least w/my browser), but make sure you look in the right hand column of the blog for slide shows with excellent photos of animals and other marvels.

Acts of Hope says "highly recommended blog!" Have a look.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Senator Kennedy: a doggie post, with well wishes

We at Acts of Hope have sent a little note to the Senator assuring him of our good wishes and prayers and thanking him for his ongoing leadership, especially for justice for the poor. We also just discovered his DOGS. Are they cute or are they cute? (Photo taken upon departure from hospital today.)
We are still in alleged no-blogging mode, and have no deep thoughts to share or capacity to chat, but we send this post out with special greetings to MadPriest and Mrs MadPriest and their canine companions, to Wormwood's Doxy and the dogalicious Jasper, and to naughty, distinguished, grandpup-loving Clumber, whom we haven't had time to read this week.

We may be a Committed Cat Household, but we are all for multi-species inclusiveness. For this they call us heretics? We are Jesus-loving, Trinitarian, sacramental, multi-species critters here. What's the problem?

And hang in there, Senator. You've got a loving family, good friends and allies, fine doctors, and fabulous dogs. And Godde embraces you as you face the challenge of malignant illness. We love you.

* * * * * * *
May 23 postscript - Here's a moving article from today's Boston Globe on how the Senator, efficiently and compassionately, has helped scores of ordinary people. And again I say: Thank you, Ted; we love you.

Okay, Democrats, this is it! (A little humor before we get serious.)

This video does not intend to be an exact representation of the candidates. (Even if Obama did once compare Clinton to Annie Oakley.) Nor does it constitute an endorsement of either one. (Even though I did vote for one of them in the North Carolina primary.)

It's for laughs.

It's also enough, already. Roll all y'all's sleeves up, and don't let this election slip by. No more head-butting. Look outward, for the republic's sake.

This message brought to you by friends of Mimi, FranIAm, and musical theatre.

*A Maya Pavlova production*

Monday, May 19, 2008

Blog flashback: last year on this date

Blog flashback:

Last year on this date...

Academic writing (with a little assist from our friends Calvin and Hobbes)

Grouchy (with a historical aside from the Napoleonic era)

It's getting a little monomaniacal around here with the grumpy academic theme. Don't worry, this too shall pass. Meanwhile, have a look at Calvin and Hobbes, today and on last year's page.

Back and busy - and button of the week

Back safely. Nice airplane pilots. Cat in good shape. Dogwood in bloom in Boston. Harvard still there. Parents of Acts of Hope looking well. Memorial service moving. Sat in row of old friends. Laughed and cried. Legal Sea Foods had overly long wait, couldn't get in; will have to wait till next visit to eat bluefish.

Button of the week, spotted on someone at memorial service: Barack Obama spelled out in Hebrew letters, like this:

Blogging will be scarce for the next ten days or so except for a post or two. Prayers and greetings are most welcome! Explanations later. Yes, I'm fine.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Beantown bound

I'm gettin' out of Dodge early tomorrow.

I'll be in Boston attending Krister Stendahl's memorial service on Friday and visiting Parents of Acts of Hope for a few days .

Maya Pavlova will have a nice cat-sitter and house-sitter.

Talk amongst yourselves...

Peace out.

There is a new Stendahl memorial page with texts and pictures on the Harvard Divinity School website. Lots of good reading and visuals.

Krister Stendahl (retired Bishop of Stockholm) with Caroline Krook, Bishop of Stockholm, at his 80th birthday celebration, April 2001. Photo: Harvard Divinity School.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Bourrée, again -- this time live and recently

See and hear the post below first to get the full effect: 1969 recording there, 2006 live performance here. Ian Anderson with Ann Marie Calhoun and the Symphonette Raanana. Performed at the Amphi, Raanana, Israel, Sept. 17, 2006. Read up on Anderson here. Links to more Jethro Tull fan fare on same site.



Click here.

(I had a YouTube screen, but opened the post to edit it --wanted to put "music" label on-- and YouTube doesn't like when you do that and makes the upload disappear.)

Just because I love this tune -- and because I missed Papa Bach's birthday last month. Sorry, J.S. Here's some Jethro Tull for you. Rock on.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Interfaith peace delegation to Iran - and a woman rabbi speaks in Tehran

My friend Ethan Vesely-Flad, who works for the Fellowship of Reconciliation and with whom I helped start the East Bay chapter of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship some years ago when we were both living in the San Francisco Bay Area (East Bay means Berkeley, Oakland, and environs), is in Iran with an interfaith peace delegation.

You read that right, Iran. One of the members of the delegation is Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb and she recently stood before an Orthodox Jewish congregation in Tehran, a historical first.

Ethan, who edits FOR's magazine, Fellowship, is reporting on the trip. You can read about it on the FOR blog here.

Make sure you click the "read more" words so you can read the full stories. The home page of the blog just shows the first paragraph of each blog entry. Read the one about Lynn under "Climbing mountains, making history." (Direct link to the story here.)

Blogging will be scarce in this space for a few days again while I take some more writing time to work on a Big Theological Tome (and also on the required year-end reports - more of the romantic life of academe), but Ethan's writing is much more worthy of your attention right now than my writing, so enjoy and ponder.

It's worth exploring the whole FOR homepage and links too. Scroll all the way down on that page, there is a wealth of information.

A few prayers for the interfaith delegation wouldn't hurt, either.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mothers' Day

As you may have noticed a couple of posts below, we have a new feature at Acts of Hope, "blog flashback." I was inspired by my friendly colleague Jennifer, she of the fine food blog and priestly ministry. She calls her flashbacks "archive alerts."

Usually I will post these flashbacks at the bottom of posts and not devote a full post to them, but occasionally I will just post a flashback, as I am doing here. I had more wisdom to share a year ago than I do now!

This evening we bring you a couple of Mothers' Day flashbacks.

Blog flashback: Last year at this time:

Mothers' Day: Peace, Not Hallmark

A little late with your Mom's Day greetings?

Thank you, Holy Spirit

I went to bed in the late afternoon yesterday after Commencement and got fourteen hours of sleep.

Kevin Matthews preached a fine sermon today for Pentecost.

The Ave Maria Press catalog came out this week. The new paperback edition of When in Doubt, Sing will be out in October.

I have finished writing the New Preface by the Author.

The campus is empty. Soft rain is falling.


Sadao Watanabe: Pentecost. Stencil, 1979.

Blog flashback: Last year at this (liturgical) time:

Pentecost: Images from India

Pentecost stained glass window, Taizé Community

We love Stringfellow (4): a post for Pentecost (on the Holy Spirit)

Pentecost and Memorial Day: resources, reflections

Pentecost - Mexico. (Author unknown - if you know who wrote this icon, please tell me.)

The images from India and from Taizé are still my favorites -- dynamic and red!

Click on those links to last year to see them.

Taizé Veni Sancte Spiritus (not the one most of us know)

Not the Taize "Veni Sancte Spiritus" most of us know and love, but a meditative vigil piece. From "Nights of Light" at Nuremberg.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Just when I was having a Manhattan-Boston-San-Francisco-Rome-Paris-London-Istanbul craving...

I popped in on Eileen and there was one of those silly tests that proves to be (once again) on target.

You Should Live in a Big City

You don't want anything in particular out of life... you want it all.

You crave new and exciting experiences. And you get bored fairly easily.

Only very big cities can keep you entertained and stimulated.

It is not true that I get bored easily. I rarely get bored. I just like big cities.

Meetup time: Jasper visits Maya Pavlova

Glory hallelujah thank you Jesus. The grades are in, Commencement is tomorrow (graduating seniors' grades were due Wednesday, in case you wondered), and today was a day to function without much of a brain. You have all been very kind to leave nice comments on my addled posts below and I am grateful for your visits, I truly am.

In face-to-face life, I just spent three hours with the lovely and lively Doxy, who was on her way from Here to There and whose itinerary just happened to take her right through my fair city.

We did not quite get Jasper and Maya Pavlova together, because Jasper stayed outdoors (he is as large as he will get but still technically a puppy) and Maya Pavlova is supposed to stay indoors, but someday they will actually meet face to face. Doxy and I live in the same state so it's bound to happen. However, I have now met Jasper and Doxy has now met Maya P. and everyone is duly impressed with everyone else.

Doxy and I talked a mile a minute the whole time (why is no one surprised?) and I had a chance to enjoy Master Jasper's company when we took him for a walk on the campus. He is one handsome sweet dog, that one. Miss Maya Pavlova greeted Doxy at the door, sniffed her delicately, and then climbed all over her while she was having her tea. (Yes, tea, we are proper Anglicans, though neither of us was wearing pearls. No heavy drinking, someone had to drive -- we'll do that part of Episcopal life next time we meet.)

I seem to be having more and more meetups, about half a dozen so far -- Ed (and same), who seems to have vanished and whom many of us miss and have tried to contact, and Mother Laura (an unintentional meetup at a conference) and lj and Luiz and Chris. So I am now creating a "meetup" label and will tag my other meetup posts with it. Note: I haven't posted on all my meetups, some of the links above are to the other folks' blogs. All meetups have been one on one so far; group meetups will doubtless happen in the future. (Alert: I am way overdue for a trip to Manhattan.)

This, of course, does not include people I already knew pre-blogging days or whom I met almost simultaneously on blog and IRL. I just realized there are at least a dozen of them. I've seen a few of them in the past year, too.

Anyway, this is mostly a salute to the fabulous Doxy. And to the dogalicious Jasper, who is, by the way, no longer the tiny puppy in the pictures. He is now a huge 50-pound puppy with a lot of muscle power.

Friday cat blogging: Roman encounter, 2003

Nearly five years ago, in early June, I was in Rome for a family wedding and went to an antiquities museum with two of my cousins, and in the courtyard on the way out, we encountered one of Rome's many, many street cats. Here I am feeding it some water from my hand. (One cousin is taking the picture and the other is telling me not to get too near the cat because I'll catch some horrid disease.) You can't see either me or the cat too well, but it's still a nice picture, and I like the cobblestones. Sure beats the mall-sprawl scene here, which has been driving me a little batty.

Miserere: Myanmar

Myanmar businesses gouge as more rain falls. (Los Angeles Times)

Episcopal Relief and Development has an update from the Anglican Church of the Province of Myanmar (CPM), with which communication has been restored.

To help people affected by the cyclone in Myanmar, please make a donation to Episcopal Relief and Development’s “Myanmar & Cyclone Response” online at , or call 1-800-334-7626, ext. 5129. Gifts can be mailed to: Episcopal Relief and Development “Myanmar & Cyclone Response” P.O. Box 7058, Merrifield, VA 22116-7058.

You can go directly to the online donation form here.

Burma shuns foreign aid workers. (BBC)

In addition to the print story at the BBC site, there is a bit of amateur video in which you can see some of the material damage and, thanks be to Godde, living people. There are also documents offering background information and details on the catastrophe.

The BBC still calls Myanmar "Burma." An anti-dictatorship statement perhaps? (Or just keeping the language of the British Empire?)

Hard to take into one's mind and heart the thousands of deaths and all the displacement and devastation.

Caminante has been posting on Burma regularly since the cyclone hit.

Miserere eis. Miserere nobis.

Still up grading

I think about another hour to go... It depends how fast I can read six term papers... More like two hours...

Ask me about lack of Sabbath time.

And lack of sleep.

In other news, we had two tornadoes in the neighborhood tonight along with a violent thunderstorm. We got emergency alerts on our cell phones from the college about the tornadoes and had to take sheltered positions.

I had no idea there were tornadoes in North Carolina.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

A churchy day at last

Ah, at last, a churchy day. At least in part. I had a meeting with a colleague from the diocese to talk about the respective groups we chair and ways for us and our committees and constituencies to work in common. We spoke also about the over-programming syndrome in congregations and dioceses and the lack of sabbath time in the lives of laypeople, and clergy too...

I may write about the latter topic in my next Episcopal Cafe column. (I'm a regular contributor as of this month.) I may write about race instead. I have a few days to think about this. I'll write about both these topics in the coming months, in any case. It's just a question of when and how.

Meanwhile, I have almost finished writing the New Preface by the Author. I had no idea it would take so long.

After the meeting and lunch, there was more reading and grading. This evening, there is still more reading and grading -- till whatever time of night I finish, because final grades for most students are due first thing tomorrow morning. Final grades for seniors were due yesterday.

Graduation is Saturday and, like last year, I will be doing a little dance afterwards.

Julian of Norwich, contemplative, mystic, counselor, theologian

Church of St. Julian, Norwich, England.

And last year's words.

It's also Paul's birthday!

It's Paul's birthday!

Haha, I hope to be the first to post greetings for the prolific, pastoral, fun-loving, and classy Paul, a.k.a. the Byzigenous Buddhapalian, formerly of the San Francisco Bay Area, currently of Albuquerque, temporarily in New Orleans. Happy Birthday, friend! May blessings shower upon you and may some of them taste like champagne and others smell like honeysuckle and a few sound like Vivaldi.

And how lovely to have a birthday on the feast of Julian of Norwich!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Gratuitous Red Sox photo

Because it's spring.

This photo of David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez is from several weeks ago, at the beginning of the baseball season.

Natal day blessings

Holy One of Blessing
Your presence
fills creation.
You have kept us alive,
You have sustained us,
You have brought us
to this moment.

[Inclusive-language translation of the traditional Jewish prayer of gratitude Shecheheyanu.]

* * * * * * *

Grandmère Mimi popped in in the comments of the post below to wish me a happy birthday. Thank you, Mimi!

The Adorable Godson and I share a birthday, so I am taking him out to lunch.

I will complete this post in a few hours...

Please remember to pray for Robyn.

* * * * * * *

It is evening now. The Adorable Godson, who is also the Brainy Godson, is reading Euclid for fun. Not in Greek, but still -- have you ever seen the English edition of Euclid's The Elements? It is huge. You could use it for weight-lifting, or for one of those yoga bricks they sell for $15 at the overpriced health food store. He brought it along to lunch. We (the Adorable Godson and I, not the book) ate Thai food and talked about Life --also Religion and Science and The Scholarly World-- and had ourselves a fine time.

Otherwise it was a quiet day, and this evening was the antithesis of last year's birthday evening, when I cooked supper for a couple of dozen of my local nearest and dearest. But this year's age is a nondescript one that does not require a party, and besides, the academic schedule is different and we are still in finals, so I have a stack of papers to read and final grades to calculate.

Such exciting lives we lead.

Oh, and the Adorable Godson has very good news. He has an internship for the summer at UNC-Chapel Hill, where he will be programming (as in computer program) a telescope. If I understood correctly, the telescope is actually in Chile. People will be able to view quasars and other astronomical marvels through it, using their computers. The Adorable Godson wants to be an astrophysicist. He is currently getting a second bachelor's degree, in physics (the first was in computer science) so that he can apply to graduate school in a couple of years and pursue his dream. More power to him! Today was his 23d birthday.

Thanks for the visits and greetings, all! And thanks be to Godde. I'm not wild about this particular age, but it beats the alternative.

A five quasar gravitational lens. Credit (and explanation): NASA

Monday, May 5, 2008

Anglican palate-cleanser: a postcolonial perspective (don't be put off by the word "postcolonial")

Still no real time to write, and the little darlings just left the house, so I have to spend a little time in the kitchen, but have a read, this is very, very interesting. As you know, I pick my Anglican news carefully where this blog is concerned, and this one has the Acts of Hope "gotta read" on it.

Read it here:
Colonial legacies, Anglican identities addressed at pioneering conference in Manchester.

I'm not wild about the jargon in there, and some of you won't be either, but try to make your way through this piece. It's not the first time this perspective has been around the Anglican Communion -the last decade has seen a lot of these conversations - but this is a first in other ways, as you will read.

I'll post a few pictures of something or other here and below later in the evening, because all these words words words are getting a bit dull visually. Sorry... I am not liking this haste and overload much and it seems to be the theme of this entire academic year...

But the students had a good time at the party and so did I, and Mademoiselle Maya Pavlova flirted assiduously with three male students. She has manners, so she visited nicely with the female students as well, but she does fancy the gentlemen.

Speaking of elephants...

I promised you some visuals to keep the blog lively. This is the Indian/Hindu god Ganesh. People invoke him for sustained intellectual effort, among many other things...

Posted May 7 with a May 5 signature.

Political palate-cleanser: Frank Rich on the all-white elephant in the room

Well, palate-cleanser in one way -- at least it's a break from the brouhaha over Pastor Wright and a call to examine our double standards.

Frank Rich of the New York Times weighs in.

... Mr. Hagee's videos have never had the same circulation on television as Mr. Wright's. A sonorous white preacher spouting venom just doesn't have the telegenic zing of a theatrical black man.

Perhaps that's why virtually no one has rebroadcast the highly relevant prototype for Mr. Wright's fiery claim that 9/11 was America's chickens "coming home to roost." That would be the Sept. 13, 2001, televised exchange between Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, who blamed the attacks on America's abortionists, feminists, gays and A.C.L.U. lawyers. (Mr. Wright blamed the attacks on America's foreign policy.) Had that video re-emerged in the frenzied cable-news rotation, Mr. McCain might have been asked to explain why he no longer calls these preachers "agents of intolerance" and chose to cozy up to Mr. Falwell by speaking at his Liberty University in 2006.

None of this is to say that two wacky white preachers make a Wright right. It is entirely fair for any voter to weigh Mr. Obama's long relationship with his pastor in assessing his fitness for office. It is also fair to weigh Mr. Obama's judgment in handling this personal and political crisis as it has repeatedly boiled over. But whatever that verdict, it is disingenuous to pretend that there isn't a double standard operating here. If we're to judge black candidates on their most controversial associates - and how quickly, sternly and completely they disown them - we must judge white politicians by the same yardstick

Read the full text of "The All-White Elephant in the Room"here.

And now, term papers... and still writin'

Oy. The stack of student research papers is in, the reflection papers are arriving today, and we enter the marathon of reading and grading.

Welcome to my birthday week. (Yes, I have strawberries.)

And I'm still writing. That will now have to alternate with the Grading Marathon.

Also, my end-of-semester student party is this evening. Cinco de Mayo theme* with a little Puerto Rican thrown in. (The Fabulous Teaching Assistant is half Puerto Rican and she is making the beans part of the rice and beans.)

*Note: Cinco de Mayo is NOT Mexican independence day. It is mostly a regional holiday in Mexico, but here in the U.S. has acquired greater status than it has nationally in Mexico. Now you can go look up the rest of the story. I am too swamped, alas, to search for and make links. Ay de mi. Señorita Maya Pavlova, however, is fine, and sitting with white paws folded in prayer position in front of her. Thank Godde for cats.

No, I won't forget the North Carolina Primary tomorrow.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Gone writin'

Friends, I am taking some time away from both my Guilford work and my blogging to get some writing done.

There is plenty to read below (see also the archive to the right) since, as usual, I have been posting obsessively, so enjoy yourselves and please don't stop visiting. Plus, I'll be checking my home e-mail and your comments come to me there too.

Also, I would love some prayers for focus and concentration. Seriously. Thanks.

Please note the prayer request for Robyn on the post below, too.

Yes, I have read the seven senior theses and been to all those thesis defenses plus one. All I have now is a stack of final research papers, haha, and the final reflection papers which students will have handed in by Monday. Monday is also the party for students (I always throw one at the end of the semester, usually during Finals Week) and that's Monday, May 5, so of course there will be a Cinco de Mayo theme. In the food department, that is. We are also adding a little Puerto Rican to the Mexican, because my teaching assistant is half Puerto Rican and she makes rice and beans the Puerto Rican way.

Meanwhile, I am crawling into the hermit cave to meet my own writing deadlines.

Peace out. Back in a few days.

"Green Patriarch" honored by Time -- and ABC RW

I have great fondness and respect for His All Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew. Time Magazine has just recognized him for his religious and environmental leadership, and guess who wrote the tribute?

Hillary is on campus

The place is, apparently, crawling with security people. Senator Clinton is speaking mid-afternoon.

Me, I am away from campus --well, I live on campus, but the house I rent is away from center campus-- and am staying here, away from the bedlam, because I have some important writing to do.

I'll be curious to see and hear the reactions after the fact. Many of the campus activists here are Obama supporters but I'm sure we have some Clinton folks as well. She didn't pick her time well - it's the first day of Finals, and we aren't really prime Clinton territory; Obama has already been to Greensboro (huge success) but I wonder if he'll come back. The North Carolina Primary is May 6.

And yes, I'm sure there are some McCain voters around this campus too.

I'm off now, really. (I'm posting this after the post above, but am changing the time signature so that the "gone writin'" post is the first thing people see.) Pray for me.

Prayers for Robyn

Dear prayer posse out there,

Please pray for Robyn Few. I met Robyn in the Bay Area when she was founding SWOP-USA, the Sex Workers Outreach Project-USA, of which she has been a brave and feisty leader. I have just heard that Robyn is in hospital at San Francisco General and has just been diagnosed with B Cell Lymphoma, a non-Hodgkin's disease. It is, Robyn writes, "a very aggressive form of cancer and grows quickly which makes it more vulnerable to treatment."

The physicians are saying Robyn will be on chemotherapy "for at least 4 to 6 months or possibly 1-2 years ( if I can stand it. )." If Robyn is all right after this first stay in the hospital, she will be able to go home on or around Tuesday and rest up till her next round of chemotherapy. The chemo treatment is every 21 days.

As Kirstin has so movingly noted about her own experience and as Caminante often reports about the people for whom she so lovingly cares as a pastor, every cancer story is different. Robin writes about what is helpful to her right now. "We know everybody has a story about cancer but for now if they'd just keep the stories to themselves, we'd truly appreciate it." She does have a good support system in San Francisco. On the aesthetic front, she reports that her hairdresser is going to visit this weekend and shave her head and that when she gets through the first bout of chemo and feels better, she will write again and send pictures.

Carol Leigh, a good friend of Robyn's, intervened to get her to the hospital and the doctors say she saved Robyn's life.

Robyn is sad that she will miss attending the Barcelona International Harm Reduction Conference, which she was going to attend this month. In honor of her work, have a look at the link. (What is Harm Reduction? See here.)

Please pray for Robyn, for strength, for healing, for endurance. Pray for her advocacy work on behalf of sex workers. And pray for all those whom we stigmatize because of their occupation, their sexual practices, their drug use, or their health status, and for all those who stigmatize them and see them as less than human and unworthy of love -- and pray in thanksgiving for Jesus, who never hesitated to have dinner with the sex workers of his day.

(And I am still kicking myself for forgetting to post last December about the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers.)

I commit myself to praying daily for Robyn, and I just wrote her telling her I was enlisting my prayer posse. Thanks, friends!

Photo: Thor Swift for New York Times

Thursday, May 1, 2008

A year ago, part II (calendar year: International Workers' Day - Labor Day)

A year ago according to the secular calendar I was pondering labor and lilies of the valley.

And, in another post, honoring Mother Jones.

Later in the month, I posted a May 1-related post I had promised back then, on the origins of Labor Day and the link between labor and lilies of the valley in the land of my birth.

A year ago, part I (liturgical year: Ascension)

A year ago, liturgically speaking, I was musing on why the Ascension didn't "grab" me and posting icons and some commentary.

This year, I am reading with great appreciation two colleagues' sermons:

From the city of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, this one.

From a small town in Vermont, this one.

Thank you, inspirational Anglicans. Nourishing food after a day that reminded me how much I cherish the church and its worship, because I had to be away from it.

I'm skipping Stephen Colbert for this, I'll have you know.

Giotto: Ascension. Click to enlarge.

Italy: a view from Turkey, in English

Latest in our continuing series of international and intercultural insights by Brother of Acts of Hope.

This one is called "Italy -- a new kick for the boot!" and is, once again, from the Turkish Daily News, Istanbul's English-language paper.

Previous articles are here, here, and here. All have some kind of Italy/Turkey angle.