Saturday, December 25, 2004

Christmas in the Desert 2004

Friday, Christmas Eve, as I flew into Tucson and into another southwestern sunset, the desert displayed to me its breathtakingly barren, apparently bleak magnificence for what felt like the thousandth time. Despite the Nativity-tides I've spent in the snowy climates of New England and the Intermountain West and notwithstanding representations of snowy if not actually snowbound states of nature generally being considered most illustrative of Christmas, for me the fullness of the reality of God's incarnation as a human alive in human history becomes most poignant among the palms, sands, rocks, cliffs, cacti, aloes and agaves (Partial list of local plants: barrel cacti, chollas, desert broom, Joshua trees, mesquite, ocotillo, palo verde, prickly pear cactus, saguaro...), the reality of God-among-us all the time no matter what, remains most self-evident in the fire of a desert sunset, in the budding dawn and incipient day the desert sunrise promises. [why? I’ll leave my readers thinking and guessing, though my essential theology gives you a major clue] And somehow remembering Jesus' birth in the Arizona desert is very different from recalling Jesus' Birth in the coastal desert of San Diego, where I've been spent more than a few wintertimes.

At Patti and Floyd's place way outside the Tucson city limits, our dinner for the big yearly gala was amazing! The buffet included chips and dips, a plethora of flavorsome and savory Mexican menu items (tacos, tostadas, flautas—or were they taquitos?—tamales, red chile, green chile, guacamole, refritos, arroz…as well as several sweet flavorfuls: giant cookies, chocolate layer cake, vanilla ice cream and homemade flan). Now Christmas Day evening has arrived; sundown's here again and we're ready to enjoy traditional turkey while the 7 (seven!) Husky, almost-Husky and Husky-look-alikes (Blues, Copper Queen, Denali, Easter Angel, Nanook, Nikki and Spirit of 2004) lounge around enjoying and protecting their gift toys and treats. Meanwhile, the evening news just announced it snowed today in Corpus Christi, TX, for the first time in over a century!

A most blessed Feast of the Nativity to all my readers and to God's entire beloved creation, reborn and redeemed in Christ Jesus!

Monday, December 06, 2004

All Who Love and Serve Your City

1. All who love and serve your city,
all who bear its daily stress,
all who cry for peace and justice,
all who curse and all who bless,

2. In your day of loss and sorrow,
in your day of helpless strife,
honor, peace, and love retreating,
seek the Lord, who is your life.

3. In your day of wrath and plenty,
wasted work and wasted play,
call to mind the word of Jesus,
"I must work while it is day."

4. For all days are days of judgment,
and the Lord is waiting still,
drawing near a world that spurns him,
offering peace from Calvary's hill.

5. Risen Lord! shall yet the city
be the city of despair?
Come today, our Judge, our Glory;
be its name, "The Lord is there!"

* Words: Erik Routley
* © 1969 by Stainer & Bell Ltd. (admin. by Hope Publishing Co., Carol Stream, IL 60188).
* All rights reserved.

* Music: Birabus by Peter Cutts
* ©' 1969 by Stainer & Bell Ltd. (admin. by Hope Publishing Co., Carol Stream, IL 60188).
* All rights reserved.

* Other tunes: Charlestown, Dominion-Chalmers, Marching, Omni die
* Meter: 87 87

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

ekistic units

anthropos – 1
room – 2
house – 5
housegroup – 40
small neighborhood - 250
neighborhood – 1,500
small polis – 10,000
polis – 75,000
small metropolis – 500,000
metropolis – 4,000,000
small megalopolis – 25,000,000
megalopolis – 150,000,000
small eperopolis – 1,000 million [1,000,000,000]
eperopolis – 7,500 million [7,500,000,000]
ecumenopolis – 50,000 million [50,000,000,000]

Saturday, October 09, 2004


From The Road to Daybreak by Henri J. M. Nouwen:
[California] is a land to which people go to be free from tradition, constraints, and an oppressive history. But the price for this freedom is high: individualism, competition, rootlessness, and frequently loneliness and a sense of being lost. –Page 198

still-current lists from the past

Here's one I made for some class somewhere (at UMassBoston, probably):

City, cities:

• Cash economy—as opposed to barter economy
• Class, ethnic, economic, linguistic and cultural diversity
• Communications!
• Concentrated housing—esp vertical concentration
• Education on all levels, particularly university and technical
• Home of the middleclass!
• Home of the middleperson—the broker
• Major arts events; major sports events
• Medical centers
• Multiculturalism; transculturalism
• Habitual, deliberate, intentional and purposeful [how many more adjectives would you like to describe this activity?] contact with entities outside of itself

Ghetto of any kind and every type (my apologies for writing this down without a source):
"Nothing much goes in or out of it that wasn't there the day before."

Another list, from the same time, same place:

Body Image, where:
  • body,
  • mind,
  • psyche,
  • spirit and
  • culture
converge. Its impact reverberates in all areas of life:
  • mental,
  • physical,
  • emotional and
  • spiritual.

From AT&T (1970s?) ads

  • At least talk to each other!

  • Divisions evolve from the barriers we construct

  • Evol/Love (in addition to the print ad, I saw this one in a video at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago)

  • Meet somebody halfway

  • Out of a sense of self, a sense of the other

  • Reach out for someone

  • Understanding begins with communication

  • There's something you can do about it... somebody halfway... communicate is the beginning of understanding!
...did someone say "speech is the language of covenant?" I read that somewhere and I completely agree! For my theology site I'm working on some ideas about prayer.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Culture Bound

Culture, identity, home, belonging, etc.

As those cultural anthropologists insist, each of us inhabits a range of cultures; more than a single culture encumbers each of us. We see, hear and feel; we remember, dream and hope through the senses our cultures have given to us and we've inadvertently received; and to some extent, our cultural identities constrain and limit us.

Wednesday evening, August 18, 2004, I watched The Reunion, on our local ABC affiliate, KGTV Channel 10. The subject struck me extremely: present-day interviews and retrospective reminiscences of the experience of some Shaker Heights, Ohio residents who'd been part of an intentional racial integration project beginning with their kindergarten class and continuing through high school in the Shaker Heights public schools. Those were the identical years I spent experiencing blockbusting, white flight and redlining in Boston; those same years some of the neighborhoods around me blazed with anger and rage at the same time Watts, Detroit, Atlanta and too, too many U.S. inner cities became furious conflagrations and locales of supercharged and globally publicized citizen/police interactions.

But that's almost a digression, since lately I've been thinking I need to go home, and although there's no way I can return (or would return) to Chestnut Place or any of those other physical dwellings, no way could I return to First Mariner's Church (especially since it disbanded a while ago), I can return to my *home* culture, the culture that's my Muttersprach, my cultura franca – to invent an idiom – and I need occasionally to do so! Besides, in the same way you never step into the same river more than once, because both of you and the river have changed, the home you return to cannot be the home you left, so even if I had a physical option to go back there, I still wouldn't be able to relive something that's no longer there, a location that even in terms of my heart's identity I've rationalized, streamlined and simplified.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Font of blessing...

Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing!

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.

Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Here by Thy great help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood.

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

Words: Ro­bert Ro­bin­son, 1758; appeared in his A Collection of Hymns Used by the Church of Christ in Angel Alley, Bishopgate, 1759.

Music: "Nettleton," Wyeth’s Repository of Sacred Music, Part Second, by John Wy­eth, 1813

Tuesday, July 06, 2004


Here's the start of my bibliography for

Justice, Freedom and Redemption:
Divine Image and Creation's Glory

1. BEKER, JOHAN CHRISTIAAN, Paul's Apocalyptic Gospel: The Coming triumph of God. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1982.

2. BRUEGGEMANN, WALTER, The Land: Place As Gift, Promise, and Challenge in Biblical Faith. First Edition, Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1977.

3. BRUEGGEMANN, WALTER, The Land: Place As Gift, Promise, and Challenge in Biblical Faith. Second Edition, Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2002.

4. DE WAAL, ESTHER, The Celtic Vision: Prayers and Blessings from the Outer Hebrides. Petersham, Massachusetts: St. Bede’s Publications, 1988.

5. FOX, MATTHEW, Original Blessing: A Primer in Creation Spirituality. New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher | Penguin Putnam, Inc., 1983.

6. FOX, MATTHEW, Wrestling with the Prophets: Essays on Creation Spirituality and Everyday Life. New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher | Penguin Group (USA) Inc, 1995.

7. MOLTMANN, J√úRGEN, The Spirit of Life: A Universal Affirmation. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1992.

8. O’DONOHUE, JOHN, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom. New York: HarperCollins | Perennial, 1998.

9. O’DONOHUE, JOHN, Eternal Echoes: Celtic Reflections on our Yearning to Belong. New York: HarperCollins | Perennial, 2000.

10. SANTMIRE, H. PAUL, How does the liturgy relate to the cosmos and care for the earth? In What are the ethical implications of worship? Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 1996.

11. SANTMIRE, H. PAUL, Nature Reborn: The Ecological and Cosmic Promise of Christian Theology. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2000.

12. SANTMIRE, H. PAUL, The Travail of Nature: The Ambiguous Ecological Promise of Christian Theology. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1991.

13. STENDAHL, KRISTER, Paul among Jews and Gentiles. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1976.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

4 July 2004

Sunday, July 04, 2004, Independence Day!!!!!

"Summer afternoon, summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language."
~~Henry James to Edith Wharton

commonplacebook notes

Sunday, July 04, 2004

from The Other Side, May 1988, page 15:

"A spiritual revival means a revival of confidence, of hope, of the ability to affect one's own future.

"That, of course, is a synonym for power..."
—John Heinemeier

Psalm 16:7

God gives me does my heart!

Joseph Brodsky on freedom:

"When you forget the spelling of the tyrant's name."

A Promise:

God will not send you
beyond where your Heart can defend you
God will not lead you
beyond where the Spirit can feed you

and a reality:

Our survival depends on the health of our environment.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Early Light

Early Light!

♫ Yes, I can see by the early light ♪
♪ The peril of the night is gone ♫
♫ And far across the distance range ♪
♪ I see the road to freedom ♫
♫ There are many paths you can follow ♪
♪ And many fields to roam ♫
♫ So I walk free beneath the stars ♪
♪ Yet shining over our land and home ♫

by Jonathan Elias; I heard this in a PBS commercial 2 December 1993

Saturday, June 26, 2004


For books in my spiritual growth/discipleship library that've endured (at least for me), I'll include William Stringfellow's An Ethic for Christians and Other Aliens in a Strange Land

Since first reading Stringfellow's pivotal book I've read and drawn upon Walter Wink's Powers  trilogy, but almost nothing has hit me in the gut the way An Ethic  did. Here are the basic three in Wink’s triad, as well as a link for a 4th, related but shorter book:
Volume 1: Naming the Powers: The Language of Power in the New Testament

Volume 2: Unmasking the Powers: The Invisible Forces That Determine Human Existence

Volume 3: Engaging the Powers: Discernment and Resistance in a World of Domination

one volume, sort of, but mainly a condensation or digest of volume 3:
Engaging the Powers: The Powers That Be: Theology for a New Millennium
In addition, for all time: Martin Buber, I and Thou,

the triad of sermons by Paul Tillich: The Shaking of the Foundations, The Eternal Now and The New Being;

Anthony Padovano, Dawn Without Darkness: A Trilogy on the Spiritual Life, Including Belief in Human Life and Free to Be Faithful, a slender volume illustrated with exquisite photographs and published by Paulist Press (always a favorite),

Richard Niebuhr's Christ and Culture [Christ Against Culture; Christ of Culture; Christ Above Culture; Christ and Culture in Paradox; and Christ the Transformer of Culture.]

Since I'm writing about books, here's my Amazon Wish List!

Friday, March 12, 2004

Main Street

Main Street experiences?! I love this topic and the Main Street/Church Street sign on the UCC homepage is wonderful! First, I’ll confess I’ve never read Lewis’ Main Street, so I’ll run with some images and impressions. BTW, many years ago I spent an interesting citified summer on West Main Street.

That particular urban locale aside, for me the name “Main Street” kindles a generic picture and a general metaphor. My picture is from New England or somewhere in the American Midwest; it’s a single central street lined with shops: hardware store, drugstore with soda fountain, flower shop, curio shop, bookstore, coffee/sandwich shop and maybe a down-home-cookin’ restaurant. Ages ago a poem I wrote included the phrase, “The Colonial’s a restaurant on Main Street” [Hudson, Ohio]. This Main Street sports one or two branch banks, the town offices and – at one end of the commercial strip – the absolutely requisite iconic white-steepled church building, most likely Congregational, possibly Presbyterian or Lutheran, but you’d better believe it’s big “P” Protestant!

My Main Street picture has featureless people, but my Main Street metaphor is primarily a lifestyle that includes a describable type of person. Here’s a start: this Main Street Person [MSP] wants to belong - to be homogenous yet stereotypically distinctive and noticeable; trendy and up-to-date about ideas, politics and general styles of everything like attire and apparel, vehicles, home furnishings, recreation pursuits and vacation venues without being on the cutting edge of much of anything; spiritual, but without real commitment to institutional religion or to the radical way of Jesus ... this MSP is anything but counter-cultural and not remotely willing to disengage from whatever society’s mainstream conventions have become for the moment, the particular moment that’s (very) close at hand. Do you remember Charles Schulz’s Lucy as psychiatrist with her, “The Doctor is in ... The Doctor is Real in?” Well this MSP is real, real “in!”

How does my life and style as a Christian correspond to this MSP? And, should it - or not? The “Main Street” subject relates to our discussion over in Evangelism and to the “12 Steps for the Recovering Pharisee (like me)” book thread. Last summer we talked about “evangelism in the vernacular,” in a twist on Luther’s insisting on “worship in the vernacular” as a mark of the true church. Peculiar people as we’re supposed to be, we also need to be appear enough like everyone else that they can identify with us and therefore with the reasons we’re in Christ (aside from God’s calling and election of us, but that’s a different subject for another day).

Recently I’ve been reading again Walter Brueggemann’s Biblical Perspectives in Evangelism (I originally read it a couple years before the UCC E-Forum became so active, and I wanted to see how my perspective had been changing). In that book he talks a lot about living “gospeled” lives, which include keeping covenant, keeping the Sabbath and keeping the tithe. During this Lent I’ll be participating in a live(!) discussion of Lauren Winner’s new book, mudhouse sabbath. And, some time ago I read Marva Dawn’s book, Keeping the Sabbath Wholly: Ceasing, Resting, Embracing, Feasting (Eerdmans, September 1989). So I’ll conclude by saying one of the distinctions and contrasts between the MSP and what my lifestyle as a Christian needs to be involved the way I keep Sabbath! And I’m planning to continue this topic some other time.

Saturday, January 03, 2004

another new blog!

Hi everyone, here's another new blog - this time because I wanted to be sure to get the Sun Country Living title. Email me and let me know what you think, and a most wonderful 2004 to everyone!