Thursday, February 23, 2017

Hey Father!

So after eating Todd and I are walking up University Street to the parking lot when we hear the shout, "Hey Father!" Todd spots her first, a black woman waiting in the left-turn lane who'd rolled down her window. The corner of University and Main is, especially at Noon, the most congested in Peoria. Hers is the only car with an open window and she's looking our way, waving her arm.

"Hey, Father, can you pray for my nephew? We lost him yesterday, he's 3 months old."

"Absolutely," I shout to her across the street.

"Pray for his family, too, Father" she continues. "His name is L... K.... Pray for them when you pray next."

"I will," I say as we start walking again and she thanks me and the light changes so she'll be able to make that left turn onto Main.

And I have. As I have for C..., who rang up my groceries at the market the other evening. Her request wasn't as specific, but she was appreciative that I would pray the Holy Spirit to watch over her.

This was only moments after Todd and I had prayed,
...I pray that all my intention, actions, and works of this day may be directed solely to the greater glory of God's Divine Majesty....

Does this happen to pastors who wear polo shirts?

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Community? Not!

I just heard it used again on a radio broadcast and I've had it. The speaker was representing "the hospital community." A few weeks ago a young woman described trying to break into "the modeling community." The "education community" is upset over the President-elect's choice for their Cabinet post.

Nonsense! These aren't "communities," where people live or have personal relationships with one another like the community in which I was raised or the communities with whom I worship the Lord Jesus. I didn't pass the CPA exam to become part of "the accounting community." These are businesses, trades, professions, industries.

I know. Language changes over time. Words take on expanded, or new, or even very different, meanings. And when that happens to help in understanding or communicating, it can be well and good. But more often than not these new "communities" are just trying to put a human face on something that is often not very friendly or neighborly.

The community doctor of decades ago listened when you weren't feeling well. I remember my dad's doctor -- and we were part of the Kaiser plan, one of the original "health maintenance organizations" -- coming to the house when he had the mumps. Just like Marcus Welby or Dr. Kildare! Recently the local hospital stopped allowing one's family doctor to be one's attending physician. You must be treated by their "hospitalist" and your doctor isn't supposed to even come in through the doors to be part of your care.

But this afternoon on the radio they're "the hospital community," kindly concerned about the repeal of Obamacare. Not the hospital industry having first access to everyone's money. Yeah.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

My SFnal Day

Carrie Fisher died this morning. I was 18 when she burst indelibly into my eyes as Princess Leia in Stars Wars. She was not-yet 21.

For dinner tonight I had breen. It's a Narn food I learned about on Babylon 5. G'Kar tells us it is one of those universal mysteries, for every known sentient race has a food just like it. On Earth we call it "swedish meatballs."

As the photo might suggest, I saw Rogue One. That's the tub of popcorn I'm holding. In the end it is a satisfying film, much more satisfying than the last film in the Stars Wars franchise, The Force Awakens. But it takes a while to get there. In fact, midway through the film the litany against fear from Dune entered my mind:
I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear....
Probably not the best thing to have going through my mind while watching a Star Wars film.

But in the end Rogue One was a satisfying film, with the final word pronounced by Princess Leia herself — hope. Ah, to be 18 again. May Carrie Fisher rest in peace.

It was a nice way to finish the day, even if I didn't finish my popcorn. But that will be very good tomorrow.


"SFnal" means "science fictional," from the abbreviation commonly used by readers of science fiction, "SF."

Monday, November 14, 2016

The Election

I posted the following earlier today at ALPB Forum Online in response to comments on the topic "Election followup." Pastor Zip

I picked up reading long before starting Kindergarten in 1964.

One of my books (which I probably read a couple of hundred times) was a child's biography of President Kennedy, which in addition to lots of pictures told of his ancestry and childhood, schooling, service on PT 109, Congressional and Senate campaigns as a Democrat (running against the Republican Henry Cabot Lodge), marriage to Jackie and their children (who were about my age), and his election as our first Catholic President. I don't recall whether it included his assassination, but I certainly read his story many, many times remembering that and his funeral on TV. Whether it was part of the book or not, I knew at age 4 that his story ended in tragedy.

Even then I knew my parents were not Democrats. They had not supported JFK in '60 and would not have supported him in '64. And these were not unusual perspectives in the West San Fernando Valley of the 1960s. But they taught their young boy to respect the President of the United States and admire his accomplishments and good qualities. Even if you didn't agree with him. Even if you worked to oppose something he wanted to do.

And as I've seen and heard reactions these last few days to the election here, and on the news, and on my Facebook feed, I've thought about that book a lot. Thankfully.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Of Course I Voted

I walked into the polling room at Neighborhood House about quarter to four. The three booths were occupied and, after I checked in, I was told to have seat with a few others folks already there before they called my name. Not a long line by any means, but I had to wait a few minutes before I voted -- and I don't recall waiting that long in this precinct before. I was about the 160th voter, which pretty much fits with recent national elections.

I didn't turn on the TV until 11 pm and quickly noticed (even before I saw any numbers) how 4 of the 5 networks were quite subdued. The next few hours are going to be interesting.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Advertising Algorithms: Still Not Ready

Inspired to action by Bishop Barron's comments on Fleming Rutledge's The Crucifixion, I added the book to my Amazon Wish List a few moments ago. The Rev. Rutledge is a retired Episcopal priest who has long had a reputation as an excellent preacher and orthodox theologian. I had heard her speak at the Center for Catholic and Evangelical Theology's conference "Who Do You Say That I Am? Following and Proclaiming Jesus Today" a few years ago and was suitably impressed. She is both an engaging speaker and serious Christian theologian.

Seeing my interest in this book, as a matter of course Amazon wants me to sell me similar merchandise. The question is, what might be "similar" to 700 page book that was the Academy of Parish Clergy's "Reference Book of the Year" for 2015 and is highly recommended by theologians like Robert Jenson and Stanley Hauerwas. Why, a pick from... Oprah!
I'm guessing the algorithm's categories are "female" and "spirituality." Which takes me back to a saying I learned in my 8th grade computer programming class, GIGO -- "garbage in, garbage out."

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P.S. Turns out today is the anniversary of the senseless shooting death of the young Angels outfielder (and fellow CSUN alum) Lyman Bostock in 1978. The first of the "promoted stories" at the bottom of that page is a photo of a lovely young woman and the headline "37 Shocking Celebrity Cup Sizes You Couldn't Have Guessed." Ahh, those algorithms...

Friday, July 29, 2016

The End of a Long Day

It was quarter-to-five Thursday morning when I walked into a largely empty, but awakening, Stockholm-Arlanda Airport to begin the return journey home to Peoria from 2 weeks in Sweden.

Some 22 hours later I exited my third jetliner of the day into a largely empty, going-to-sleep, Peoria International Airport as the voice of Hilary Clinton giving her historic acceptance speech eminated from the monitors still tuned to CNN. My mind immediately went back in time...