Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Orchids… the symbol for events that have been successful.  Overall, for me the year ending today has been an orchid year.  Naming the “good stuff” of the year would take too much time and space.  Forget my ranting and raving about conditions that I wouldn’t, couldn’t have planned in 2013. Focus on all the good that happened last year; and going into the New Year, gird your loins.  

After typing that last phrase, I thought I’d better check the dictionary to see if it means what I’ve always thought it means. It’s an ancient saying, particularly in the Biblical Middle East, suggesting that it’s a good idea to gather up any part of a long garment and tuck it in before going for a walk or run to prevent tripping and falling.  That’s exactly what I had in mind.  Peace.

Monday, December 30, 2013

The bark on trees not far from my house seemed weary of the year today... ready to begin a new one.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

This MELALEUCA stump caught my attention as I walked past it this morning.  I don't know why it stopped me.  I like the image, but I don't know of any meaning that I can assign to the photograph.

I took both the stump picture and this pattern that appeared on my coffee after I added the milk this morning... no meaning to assign there either.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The first picture is a corner of the Davids’ dining room…  Nancy made the glass plate.  She is a talented potter, so I wasn’t surprised when she branched out to working also in glass.  

Bark has become for me a personal symbol of protection, so I can’t pass up an interesting tree… and after I’ve downloaded a bark image onto my computer desktop, I can resist playing around with it.  Today’s bark fascinates me as both positive and negative images.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Zoo Portraits

Thursday, December 26, 2013

In the middle of this last week of the year my mind is swirling with all sorts of thoughts about projects which might be possible and interesting for 2014.  Perhaps I should take up again a writing project I began a long time ago and left unfinished… Growing Up on the Edge, an exploration of a phenomenon that has fascinated me for all of a long professional career working with adolescents and young adults… Why it is that much of the best work, especially in the arts and in literature, in any age has been done by individuals who were decidedly unconventional in their cultural settings.  

Or maybe I will undertake a writing project built around unconventional theological ideas that have been playing through my thoughts for several months. British evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins’ The Selfish Gene has set my thinking on an exciting path. I’m sure Karen Armstrong’s The History of God, along with Dawkins’ theories, will push me along that road.  Dawkins coined the word “meme” from the Greek μίμημα, a word (idea, actually) which he uses to represent “an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture.” Before I got to Armstrong’s book, Dawkins’ had already sent me back to Joseph Campbell’s and Bill Moyers’ discussions and writings about The Power of Myth. I'm learning not to be afraid of my own conclusions on the subject of God.

Another thing:  I’ve been following up on the situation with little Valeria in Tijuana who was born blind but can almost certainly gain eyesight through surgery.  My friend is getting information to me tomorrow about how Margaret and I can help the family.  I’ll include the information on the BLOG and on FACEBOOK tomorrow or the next day for others who may want to help.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Day with family is about as good as a holiday can be… If the world could be like ours seemed today, we could say there is indeed “Peace on Earth… Good will…”  

Some of us broke off from family celebrations in the middle of the day to join a few others in serving a special Christmas lunch at a senior center downtown. That interval was a bitter-sweet reminder that life is very good for some of us and not so easy for many others. The senior center lunch was more than adequate and received with gladness and appreciation by more than a hundred people; but it didn't include anything like Patrick's escargot served with his home-made French bread and Elaine's turkey and David's risotto in a cinderella pumpkin and Nancy's green bean casserole and candied sweet potatoes and Margaret's and Helen's desserts and a great variety of wonderful cheeses and other delicious dishes and good wine. We went back home to all that good stuff from the senior center determined to continue to try to find ways to convince reluctant legislators that the people who get their "free" Christmas dinner in a crowded room with strangers aren't dead beats. As a nation we've definitely got to find ways to give better, more consistent care to our citizens marginalized by poverty... without considering them a burden on the rest of us who are more fortunate.  

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The way I see it everything changes… or dies out eventually.  Evolution is a basic fact of life.  Look at these magnolia seed pods.  They dropped from a magnificent, huge tree on our hill. Fossilized specimens of magnolia trees have confirmed its presence on Planet Earth for at least 20 million years ago.  It evolved from plants identified and called by botanists Magnoliaceae which can be dated back 95 million years. Anybody interested in the details of its evolution can easily learn the theories of why the flower bud of the magnolia developed bracts rather than sepals.  It all has something to do with survival.  

My point is that everything that exists today will continue to exist only if it changes in whatever ways are necessary to live in changing environments, in new realities. The Methodist Church will change or it will cease to exist.  Some people within the church would prefer to see the church die rather than change. Consider the cultural volcano that is erupting within the Methodist Church after a Pennsylvania conference defrocked...took back the ordination for ministerial service from a pastor who dared to perform a marriage ceremony for two adult men who wanted to be a family the way one man and one woman can legally bind together to be a family.  Although homosexuality has long been a historically verifiable characteristic of homo sapiens (sometimes called Homo sapiens sapiens), primates of the family Hominidae, the only extant species of the genus Homo, some of the species simply refuse to accept a cultural reality that will forever be part of the human condition…  one man loving another man and one woman loving another woman, out in the open, holding hands in public, kissing in public, expressing adoration for each other, and getting married to form a family unit. 

The Methodist Church has among its clergy many, many people who are unwilling to go on acquiescing to the demands of ignorant members of their denomination and of their churches.  The life of their church depends on its willingness to adapt to new cultural realities. The Methodist Church can continue to gather itself around such fools as the duck dynasty reality TV star who declared that homosexuality is a form of beastiality, or it can choose to live.  If I were a member of that church I would vote for a living church, not a dying one. 

Monday, December 23, 2013


Whenever possible
bad stuff 
from happening

Sunday, December 22, 2013

My photo du jour is Irene’s stollen.  At our house we began the day with her cake… Wonderful… then we went off to church.

It’s Christmas Season… and while I’m not in the mood for ranting, some “stuff” that happens cries out for more than a ho-hum response.  I’ve followed the news reports coming out of Pennsylvania  about  Methodist Pastor Frank Schaefer who was stripped of his credentials after he decided to violate church rules knowing full well that his disobedience to the institutions requirements could get him defrocked. He officiated at his gay son’s marriage.  His denomination’s decision to punish him will almost surely push thousands of parishioners in Methodist churches all over America to decide they can no longer ignore the institution’s prohibition of a relationship between two people who happen to be a same gender couple. Civil laws in the majority of states don’t prohibit same gender couple from loving each other… they just can’t be married to each other.  The Methodist Church, among several religious institutions, not only refuses to allow their clerics to officiate at same gender weddings in buildings the church owns,  it refuses to allow ordained Methodist clergy to officiate at same gender weddings no matter the venue.  Furthermore, Methodist clergy may not serve same gender Christian couples who simply wish to have a ritual of blessing in states where gay marriage is not allowed.  As a matter of fact, sexual relations as expressions of love between same gender persons are explicitly forbidden because such behaviors are considered “not consistent with the Christian Gospel.”

Some Christians serious about their commitment to civil justice and love for all people may continue a relationship with a church because of the obvious good it does in community, but many will find ways other than church membership for affirming and promoting civil justice and love. Several years ago I withdrew formally my membership from a Methodist Church.  I sent a letter asking for my name to be stricken from the membership roll.   For several reasons I continue to “go to church.”  I especially like the actual inclusiveness of the Methodist Church where I attend services, inclusiveness in spite of the prohibition in the Methodist Book of Discipline.  The church hires employees known to be gay. I like the physical church, the beauty of the sanctuary. I like the music. I like the clergy who cry out for the denomination to change its institutional insistence that LGBT persons may  participate in some of the sacraments but not in others. I have held onto a belief that I can do more to effect change by my presence  in the community, even as a non-member, than I could by staying away altogether. Sometimes like now, however,  as I think about Frank Schaefer, I find myself wondering if I should disassociate myself altogether from the Methodist church… wondering if I am wasting my time and energy. 

I am encouraged to continue because Bishop Minerva Carcaño has invited Fran Schaefer to serve in ministry in the California-Pacific  conference. She says she has no power as bishop to reinstate Schaefer’s ministerial credentials, but she indicated a willingness to seek procedures that could lead to his credentials being restored to him. I like what she does and what she says… Carcaño acknowledged that she holds no power to reinstate Schaefer’s ministerial credentials, but that she will continue to seek a way to do it.  “I believe that the time has come for United Methodists to stand on the side of Jesus and declare in every good way that the Unit ed Methodist Church is wrong in its position on homosexuality,” Carcaño wrote.  “Frank Schaefer chose to stand with Jesus as he extended love and care to his gay son and his partner.  We should stand with him and others who show such courage and faithfulness.”  The senior pastor of the church which I attend has said he likes and supports Bishop Carcaño’s decision to stand with Frank Schaefer.