Saturday, January 21, 2017

ok, ok, I'll try not to....

I'll try not to assault you every day with my opinions on the new President for 4 years. I'll try.

But today, I will.

Trump's press spokesman briefed the press today on how woefully underestimated the number of people at the Inauguration was and how over estimated the crowds at the Women's March were. Just look on line at the aerial photos and let me know.

Trump also took off the federal government's websites information about climate change today.

His speech yesterday was distopian at best and blatantly wrong at worse.

Lordy, Lordy, I hope to live four more years at least, but at this rate my heart may not take it....

Friday, January 20, 2017

LA LA Land (2)

So, I posted three weeks ago that to miss the Trumpness of  today, Bern and I were going to see LA LA Land. And we did.

And it is great!

I've never seen a movie quite like it. It is a musical movie that succeeds both as a musical and as a movie.

It is a wonderful story--right out of the dreams of la-la-land and Hollywood. And, amazingly, right out of real life.

It's worth the price of admission for the John Legend music and the opening scene. But it is worth so much more. Laughter, tears, amazement, whimsy, beauty (lots of visual beauty) love and loss.

What else would you want? Oh, a little movie magic? Lots of that too.

Must see, I'd say.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Life via the New Yorker

My latest edition of The New Yorker arrived today. OK, I know, having a subscription to The New Yorker makes me the kind of liberal elite that offended enough white people in four states to make Donald Trump President. I know, I know, but I love the magazine.And I'm proud to be a Blue State liberal elite, thank you very much....

The cover shows the President-elect (who knew I would be so fond of 'elect' since November that I can't face the fact that that part of the title goes away in two days!!!) in one of those car machines you see outside Walmart. There's an American flag on the hood and he's riding it with Secret Service people's shoulders showing on each side.

And that's my take on all this. President Obama's farewell speech Tuesday and final news conference today demonstrated what has made me adore him, in spite of his inability to truly 'rule' with such opposition from the Republicans--he is a responsible adult.

He even said in his press conference that 'no-drama Obama' was exactly who he was. A grown up, for goodness sake has been our leader for eight years.

The New Yorker cover depicts 'the Donald' as a child.

I've had two children and now four grand-daughters and I've been a child and I've known a multitude of children. And now, in my mind, one will be our President.

Even Ivanka, his wife, said in an interview that she sometimes felt she had 'two children'--Baron and Donald. And who, I ask you, names their son "Baron"? I would have named one of my little plastic men--of which I had hundreds as a child--'Baron'. But a real human being? I don't think so.

Hopefully someone will keep feeding quarters into the car ride to keep our boy President occupied and let career folks run the country.

Just me talkin'.....

Just me hoping....

OK, I don't do this kind of thing....

I tend to think of myself as "with it". Then I remember I don't have a Facebook page, I don't tweet, I have a flip-phone, for God's sake. I'm not 'with it' at all.

I listened on line to an 8 minute video of music by Marconi Union called "Weightless" because it was seen as the best 'music therapy' music ever. And I admit, my calmness after 8 minutes was a tad surprising--since I'm 'calm' already. I wasn't sure I could stand up, for example. And my Tinnitus 'crickets' were gone (and still are, an hour later)!

So, though I don't do this kind of thing, I suggest you go on line and find "Weightless" by Marconi Union and listen to it and see how you feel.

I may find a way to listen to it daily.....

Something to ponder.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Something from the past...

I noticed several people had viewed this 2009 post so I read it and thought it worth re-posting.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

wearing a collar

Several months ago I bumped into a member of St. John's, the parish I serve, in a grocery store. I gave her a hug and she said, "I don't think I've ever seen you without a clerical collar."

That's one reason for not wearing clerical garb--the black shirt and wide, circular band of white collar--you don't have to...people see you in it anyway. The truth is I haven't worn a collar for five or six years now but there was no way I could convince that devoted member of the parish. "You wear one every Sunday," she said. And I believed that's what she saw every Sunday.

I didn't stop all at once. It was more like attrition. I lost all my collar buttons at some point and being naturally abscent minded, forgot to order more. Collar buttons come in several styles--most of which don't work. I always used the ones that went through the little holes in the black shirt and opened like a toggle switch to hold the collar in place. All the other styles--in my experience--find a way to edge through the hole in the shirt on the front or back or slip out of the "Clericool" collar. That's what the kind of collar I wore was called, believe it or not, since it was made of some material that doesn't exist in nature and probably never decomposes and had little holes in it to circulate air next to your skin. I kept wearing collars after I lost all my buttons by attaching them to my shirt with small paper clips, bobby pins or twist ties I'd take from loaves of bread. The twist ties worked best, but like they do when holding bread wrappers shut, they tended to get twisted the wrong way and I'd have to seek help getting them undone.

So, a second reason not to wear a collar is how hard it is to keep up with the buttons. When dropped on the floor they were designed to be invisible until you stepped on them with your bare feet, bruising the soles of your feet and making you walk funny for a day or two. I once was holding the button I was going to attach to the back--you have to attach the front one first unless you wear a collar 4 or 5 inches too large...which some priests do, I've noticed--and swallowed it by accident. Well, it was like an accident--certainly not on purpose--I laughed at something when I had it in my mouth and down it went. Since collar buttons are not cheap, I watched for it for a few days but decided that was sick. I hope it came out and isn't discovered in my next colonoscopy. That would be really embarrassing, it seems to me.

Finally, one of the twist ties I was using broke the hole in the collar because I had worn all the paper off it and the twist tie was like a scalpel at that point. That was my last collar and since I hadn't gotten around to ordering buttons I was equally negligent in ordering collars. After that I wore black shirts without collars for a while, pretending I had on a collar, but people would say, "did you forget your collar?" a lot and I got tired of making up humorous responses.

I could, I suppose, have worn those clergy shirts that have what's called a "Roman collar" or a "tab collar"--a little piece of plastic that looks like a tongue depressor--but I've noticed most priests who wear those carry the tab in their chest pocket, like a fountain pen, rather than wearing it. The collars I always wore are called "Anglican collars" and I really didn't want to be mistaken for a Roman Catholic priest. It was bad enough being mistaken for an Episcopal priest.

Another reason for not wearing a collar is that it is a 'fun stopper'. You can walk into a really great bar at Friday happy hour in a collar and practically close the place down. Everyone is suddenly siezed by childhood infused guilt, stops cursing, takes their hands off people they aren't married to and decides they've had enough to drink. I was once at a picnic on a hot August day and an acquaintence of mine who is also an Episcopal priest, showed up in a summer weight black suit and a collar. I said to him, "did you have a funeral this morning?" He seemed confused and went on to tell me he and his family were going horseback riding after the picnic. I'd never ride a horse with someone in a collar and I really didn't enjoy the picnic with him slinking around looking clerical.

I only rode an airplane once in a collar. Airplanes and collars do not mix since whoever you are sitting with either wants to confess sins you don't want to hear or turns out to be a religious nut. A friend of mine who I suspects has PJ's with a collar on them told me that he flew from LA to Chicago in his collar and had a sensible conversation with the stranger beside him until they were landing at O'Hare. Then the man said, "what do you Do?" My friend looked down at his black shirt and felt to make sure he still had on his collar (the buttons could have slipped out over Idaho and disappeared on the floor of the plane, after all). "I'm a priest," my friend said. The man replied, "oh, I know what you Are. I want to know what you Do...."

I've used that story in several sermons at ordination services. I use it to tell the person being ordained that 'being a priest' is more about 'being' than 'doing' and you don't need a uniform.

Just last week I told the wife of a priest that I didn't own any clericals. She was somewhere between shocked and outraged. "But don't you ever want to 'be in uniform'?" she asked. I probably said I preferred being a 'plain clothes' priest, sort of an ecclesiastical detective. And the truth is, I've never much liked uniforms of any kind. People in uniform are proclaiming that they 'do' something--direct traffic, drive buses, conduct trains, fight wars, put out fires, etc. Uniforms are designed to separate out the people wearing them from everybody else. They announce for all the world to know, "I am DOING something here--give me room to do it". A priest, unless a religious service is going on--and we have these really hot 'uniforms' for those--isn't 'doing' much of anything that needs space and room to perform. So, no, I don't want to be in uniform.

Back when I was 'in uniform' I noticed that I could wander around hospitals with great impunity. I once found myself one door away from an operating theatre in what was surely a sterile area because I was lost and not one of the dozen hospital employees I'd passed since breaking through into a place I shouldn't have been had called me to account about why I didn't have on a mask and gloves and those neat little booties people wear in such places. That's really nuts, to have a guy soaked in germs wandering free in a supposedly germ free space because he had on a collar. I don't like the deference people give me when I'm 'in uniform'. I AM, after all, a priest and can inform anyone of that if they ask. But wearing the uniform forms a shield of invulnerability and provides a cloak of invisibility to a priest that I'm not sure is a good idea, especially not a step away from open heart surgery, or most anything.

(This next paragraph contains graphic language that most people thing people who wear...or could wear...collars should never write. I didn't say them, but I will write them. The faint of heart should scroll down quickly lest they be offended....)

I was coming back from lunch at a downtown restaurant a few years ago with a priest friend. He was in clericals and I had on jeans and a second-hand sports coat. I noticed how people separated to let us pass--good people, bad people, people of all shapes and sizes and colors...all except the little old Italian ladies who wanted to kiss his hand. (Not having strangers kiss my hand is another reason I don't wear a collar!) Then we met up with this crazy guy who I knew who always asked me for money. He knew I was a priest in my tee-shirt and said, drugged half-out of his mind, "Fa-der, give me two dol-lers." I said 'no', quietly and firmly and kept walking. Then he started yelling at me: "Fa-der, ya are a muther-fucker! Fad-er, Ya don't care if I go ta hell...." And kept yelling it louder and louder. I stepped a step or two away from my friend and all the people on the street looked at him like he was spitting on the cross for not helping that poor man. One of the little old Italian ladies screwed up her courage and said to my friend, "you're shameful..." I just walked along, smiling, out of uniform.

Finally, I am so liberated by not wearing a collar because of my neck. Or, more accurately, my 'no neck'. I am a man whose head rests on his shoulders. If I look up, you can see my neck, but it is really a 'no neck'. Clerical collars were designed for people with long, gazelle-like necks. They look fabulous on people with real necks. Angelina Jolee would look great in a collar. In fact she would look very seductive in clericals....Well, let's don't go there. Suffice it to say, collars were made for men and women with necks. They look like a kind of necklace on some people. On me, a collar looks like a hangman's noose and is about that comfortable.

A dear priest friend of mine had spent all morning laboriously boning the Thanksgiving turkey and was planning to come home after he did a noon Eucharist and stuff it in an elaborate way. As luck would have it, he was distracted and didn't get home until 3, after his wife had returned from work. He looked in the refrigerator and found his fully boned turkey (a feat of no mean merit!) gone. When he asked his wife where it was she told him something terrible had happened and the turkey had collapsed so she threw it out. My friend was so distraught (being naturally prone to histrionics) he began, in the good old Old Testament way, to 'rend his clothing'. He tore most all his clothes into shreds, his wife told me later, but his collar wouldn't come undone. He must have had toggle switch buttons or twist ties holding it on. So she left him writhing on the kitchen floor, choking himself with his Anglican collar.

That's a final reason not to wear one--it ruins such dramatics....

There really is no moral to this story. I wore collars faithfully for over 25 years, in spite of the discomfort and how no one really 'looks' at you on the street and how collars make some people nervous and brings out the neurosis in normal folks on airplanes. It was simply fortunate for me that I swallowed that collar button (this is the first time I've revealed that event, by the way) and cut my last collar with a twist tie. I just never got around to ordering new ones and everyone who knows me knows I'm a priest and I am perfectly happy that those who don't know me don't know that about me. And I'm lots more comfortable. Besides, I don't think the woman in the super market is the only one who sees it when it's not there!

(Just so you don't believe I am ultimately frivolous about this, two stories.
Years ago I was at a meeting with a bishop from Africa who came from a nation where Christians were being horribly persecuted. When some asked, "Bishop, what can we give you to help?" he thought a moment and said, "clerical collars so that when the people are being dragged away to prison and torture they can see their priests are being dragged away as well...."
Back after 9/11, I went several times with a group from St. John's to Ground Zero to work at St. Paul's church, serving food, praying with rescue workers, just listening to people. We clergy were asked to wear collars so people could recognize that we were there for more than giving them lunch and a bottle of water. In that case I was humbled to wear a collar.
Should such needs arise, I would put a collar on even if I had to use duct tape to hold it on....)

Monday, January 16, 2017

Open letter to my "grand" girls #7

Playing the game....

Dear Emma, Morgan, Tegan and Ellie,

I was in Baltimore this weekend with you Bradley girls' father and Ellie McCarthy's uncle Josh. We had several long discussions about the subject of all these letters--how to live in "Trump World" as liberal, progressive, proto-socialists.

My son and I have often, often disagreed but on this Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend, I found him insightful and well worth pondering.

MLK and 'the Donald'--no more striking contrast in two men could be drawn. And yet, King's national holiday and Donald's inauguration are separated by less than a hundred hours.

What your dad/uncle and my son showed me was this: we are beginning a four year 'game'. And we need to learn how to play it. In spite of what all the TV talking heads and pundits are begging for, Trump isn't going to change. We have 4 years of tweets to deal with. We have irrationality to deal with. We have 'no clear policy' to deal with. It won't be 'politics as usual', it will be a grand 'game' that we must learn to play.

Logic, rationality and politics are out the window. We on the Left know how to do that. What we're being invited into is a vast game that requires us to forget what we know about how to 'do politics' and to live and be and do in an alternative universe not of our making.

Direct attacks may not be the way to go. Subtlety and spinning irrationality may be the way to play the game.

When to make him react and when to merely act around him--that will be the decisions we have to make. Manipulating the Grand Manipulator is the way to go forward.

I'm not sure what all that means yet and hope I'll learn the game as I play it. But I no longer feel depressed and out of control. Suddenly Josh gave me an option. There's a new game in town and we have to learn to play it....

I'll let you girls know how it's going....

Love you so, Granpa.....

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Oh, Joe, I love you....

I just watched on-line, President Obama present Vice-President, Joe Biden with the Medal of Freedom, with 'distinction'. Only three other people have received that highest civilian honor "with distinction"--Ronald Regan, Pope John Paul II and Colin Powell. Those are all by other Presidents. This is the only time Obama has given a 'with distinction' Medal.

Biden was obviously taken by surprise. He turned his back and wiped his face with his handkerchief (of course Joe Biden carries a handkerchief, starched and ironed, I'm sure) and he also had to blow his nose. His look was one of disbelief and wonder as the President put the Medal (which is kinda tacky, I'd say!) around his neck.

I watched the three minute clip three times and wept more each time. (I have such a bad cold that weeping is not a good idea--more mucus is a mistake!)

Oh, Joe, I so wish  you had run for President.

I understand completely why you didn't. If one of my children died, I'm not sure I could get up in the morning and function, much less do more than function. I know. I understand.

But how different the world might look to me today had you been able to run for President, had Bo not died. How different the world might look to me as you prepared to be inaugurated.

And I have no doubt you would have won. Those folks in PA and Wisconsin and Michigan who turned the tide would have been your voters--not Trumps. Scranton, PA, for God's sake. You are, perhaps the 'man of the people' as no one else is.

Bless you for your service, your dedication, your ethics, your 'man of the people-ness', your tears today, your disbelief and humility and wonder.

Oh, Joe, Love you I do....(as Yoda, who is not unlike you, would say....)

Blog Archive

About Me

some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.