Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Today's Cooking Class: Tempura

Today the Lovely Mona and I taught the Cooking Class. We prepared Tempura with Japanese style rice and a dipping sauce. We prepared mushrooms, carrots, onions, broccoli, and langostinos. Mona taught how to make the tempura batter and supervised the cooking, while I showed them the proper way to prepare kokuho style rice and how to make the delicious tempura dipping sauce. I also spent time over the hot stove, too. Mona had to run off to school but I got to enjoy the tempura with the class. And I didn't yell or get territorial in the kitchen at all!

1. The Ingredients
2. Trying to get into the kitchen
3. Mona Cooking
4. Padre Cooking with Dolores Scotland, Director of the Program, and Teresa Brathwaite
5. Waiting For A Taste
6. Padre Preparing Plates

News From The Global Center

The Rt. Rev. Julio E. Murray Th., the Bishop of the Diocese of Panamá, a diocese of IARCA (Iglesia Anglicana en la Región de America Centro), has been elected President of the Latin American Council of Churches. Here's a fóto of him blessing the UTO Ingathering at the ECW Convention earlier this month.

Also, The Episcopal Church of Cuba has just elected their first female bishop. The (soon to be Rt.) Rev. Canon Nerva Cot Aguilera will be the suffragan bishop for the western part of Cuba. She is married to the dean of the cathedral in Havana and her daughter, who is also a priest, is pursuing her doctoral degree in Brazil. She will be the first Latin-American female bishop (note: we lost the opportunity of having the first one, since in the last election for the bishop of Pelotas, one month ago, the Rev. Ilaine Marizete Zschornack didn't manage to win and ended up as the 2nd).

Filed by Padre Mickey's Dance Party Global Center News Correspondent, Luiz Coelho, On The Road
Fótos by the Lovely Mona and REUTERS/Claudia Daut CUBA

PS: Fidel called Hugo's radio show and said he's doing much better, thank you.

Feast of Anna Julia Haywood Cooper

Anna Julia Haywood Cooper was born in slavery in 1858, in Raleigh, North Carolina. Her mother, Hannah Stanley Haywood, was a slave and her father, George Washington Haywood, was the slave owner. Anna was an academically gifted child, showing much promise at an early age, and at the age of nine years she earned a scholarship to attend St. Augustine's Normal School and Collegiate Institute, a school established by the Episcopal Church to educate recently freed ex-slaves, both men and women, as teachers and clergy. She became a member of the Episcopal Church. While at St. Augustine’s she forced her way into a Greek class for male theology students. She must have made a great impression on the instructor, the Rev. George A.C. Cooper, because she married him in 1877. Father Cooper, a West Indian, was the second man of African descent to be ordained to the priesthood in North Carolina. They were only married for two years before Father Cooper died. While this was a tragedy for his young wife, it also opened up an opportunity for her, because now she could become a teacher. In those days no married woman, white or black, could pursue a career as a teacher. She received a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in mathematics from Oberlin College, and in 1887 she was recruited to teach at M Street High School the only Black High School in Washington, D.C. She became its principal in 1902. Her educational philosophy was considered controversial for the time; the educational philosophy of Booker T. Washington was dominant, and he believed that Blacks needed to work their way up through society, starting with manual labor, so a technically based education was the best path for African-American students. Cooper disagreed with this philosophy; she insisted on preparing her students for university, and her students attended Harvard, Brown, Oberlin, Yale, Amherst, Dartmouth, and Radcliffe. The elite of Washington, D.C., could not stand the thought of African-American students attending the best universities in the United States at that time, the Ivy League, and they made her life miserable. In 1905 the D.C. Board of Education fired her for minor infractions. Apparently, she was also in trouble for renting a room in her house to a male boarder. She was victimized for being a black woman fighting against the White Status Quo, and because she was an ambitious woman. She refused to lower her educational standards and believed that African-American students deserved the same educational opportunities as did white children. She was invited back to the school to teach Latin in 1910.

In 1915, she adopted the five orphaned grandchildren of her half-brother. She was not a young woman at that time, she was in her mid-fifties, and she had to interrupt her Doctoral studies at Columbia University. Ten years later, she received her Doctorate from the University of Paris. She was the fourth African-American woman to earn a Ph.D. She served as president of Frelinghuysen University in Washington, D.C. from 1930-1942. She cared about the advancement of Black youth through education, and she also cared deeply about the advancement of women. In 1912 she helped to found and organize the “Colored” Young Women's Christian Association in Washington, D.C. The segregationist policies of the YMCA and YWCA of that time limited the funds and resources available to Cooper’s group, but the efforts of Cooper and her colleagues "built an organization that was the epitome of efficiency, self-reliance, and resourcefulness that was cited as a model for the nation". She also assisted in the formation of the Colored Women’s League.

Anna Julia Cooper was a scholar, writer, educator, and activist, and she fought against the racism and sexism which was used to keep African-American women from reaching their full potential as Christians and human beings. She was able to balance all those vocations, and raise the five orphaned children of her nephew, and earn a Ph.D.! She died at the age of 105 in 1964. Her life spanned the years from the end of slavery to the years of the Civil Rights Movement. We celebrate her as a saint of the Church because she took the commandments of Jesus seriously. She realized that God calls all of us to reach our potential, and she knew that a decent education was what would help raise the children of recently freed slaves to become the people God called them to be. We still need to fight for decent education and for opportunity for all children, not just black children,but indigenous children, for poor children, for children living in the war zones of Iraq, Afghanistan, Colombia, and Africa, and for the children living in the war zones which are our inner cities. Anna Julia Cooper is a model to us because she did not allow the racism and sexism of her time to hold her back. She fought for justice and righteousness, she lived a Christian life of selflessness and caring for others, she lived a life of commitment, even accepting public censure on behalf of her students, and she was willing to stand up and speak the truth to those in power, she was willing to stand up for the oppressed. When the great African-American educator Booker T. Washington was convinced that blacks should have only a technical education, Anna Julia Cooper stood up and said that black youth were just as smart and just as deserving of preparation for a University education as the children of the majority, as the children of whites. She would not let her students be ostracised and be treated as second-class citizens. In this time when some are calling us to exclude members of the Church because of their sexuality, when some Primates of the Church demand that we ignore the pastoral needs of our GLBT brothers and sisters to meet their reading of scripture, we need to remember the example of Anna Julia Cooper. We need to remember her example, listening and responding positively to the words of Wisdom “Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed. Lay aside immaturity, and live, and walk in the way of insight.”

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Even MORE Additions to the Blog Roll

I have been quietly adding new links to the Blogroll, and, of course, they are all blogs worth reading every day.
First up, Political Spaghetti is THE blog to read to keep current on the nasty business of that terrible law the Archbishop of Nigeria is supporting.
Opinionated Old Fart is back and handing out the opinions of an elder with gas.
Aghaveagh, whose name I can't even pronounce, has a lovely blog, The Moon By Night.

My friend Eric Jackson is one of us. I don't mean that he is an Episcopalian, but that he is one who cares about the truth and speaks the Truth to Power. He is presently experiencing problems due to a hacker who attacked The Panama News site and expanded the bandwidth being used, creating problems with his carrier.

Next, with all the nastiness going on, many of us are feeling a bit bewildered and, well, let's face it, depressed. Visit Whitney Music Box for some amusement.

As always, Padre says, "Check it out!"

Sunday, February 25, 2007

La Boda de Edwin Pérez y Emily Maduro

I've mentioned before that the lovely Mona and I have an extended family here in Panamá, folks with whom we get together for Pesach and Thanksgiving, and every member of this family is very dear to us. Today we had the wonderful opportunity of attending the wedding of two members of this family: Edwin and Emily. They are one cute couple. They met at med-school here in Panamá and were inseparable from the beginning. I'll never forget the first family Seder Edwin attended and how impressed we all were with his theological reflection. The wedding was held at the Union Club in Paitilla and was a very interesting liturgy, combining elements of both a Protestant and Jewish wedding, and it was bilingual. Here are some fótos of the wedding. ¡Felicidades, Emily y Edwin, y mazeltov!

1. Edwin and Emily from the center of the aisle
2.Edwin and Emily
3. The Happy Couple
4. Mona gets arty: Edwin and his parents, Edwin y Astudillo, coming up the aisle
5. More members of our family: the Artist Janet Levi and her artistic son David, and Padre in a bow tie

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Choir Rehearsal

The Lovely and Talented Mona directs the Youth Choir

Feast of St. Matthias

Good Old Matthias. He was one of the seventy who were sent out two by two to cast out demons, heal the sick, and proclaim the Good News of forgiveness of sins and the coming of the Reign of God. He won the lot-drawing against Joseph Barsabas, and replaced Judas in The Twelve. Outside of that, we know nothing about him, which is actually more than we know about some of the original Twelve! The tradition is that he was crucified in Ethiopia. Origen and Jerome refer to a Gospel of Matthias and it is possible that this apocryphal gospel was quoted by Clement of Alexandria in discussing the traditions of Matthias according to the heretics Valentinus, Marcion, and Basilides. My friend Dr. Thomas Ferguson, calls Matthias "The Boring Disciple." I agree, no great stories here. But, he was an Apostle, and he did know Jesus and follow him and his life was changed by Jesus, and that's gotta count for something!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Reflexions on Dar-es-Salaam

Reflexions on Dar-es-Salaam
by the Rev. Canon Francisco de Assis Silva
Provincial Secretary - The Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil
Translated from Kantinho Do Rev Translation, I believe, by Our Friend In Brasil, Who Is Presently In The U.S.

At a recent presentation elaborated by the Rev. Dr. Carlos Calvani, of which I had the honor of presenting in Berkeley, before an audience of American Episcopalians, I reaffirmed that the Anglican Communion needed to re-discover the authentic meaning of communion and get over the illusion that the rationality embedded in certain "consensual textual instruments" could be the warranty of unity of this part of the Church of Christ.

Even having told that to an audience that was very heterogeneous (theologically speaking), their reaction was of a complete empathy with the pre-supposition that a communion is made of feelings in much more a horizontal rather than a vertical dimension of truths built by reason.

Sadly, this dichotomy ended up winning at the Primates' meeting, in Dar-es-Salaam, last week. Their final document simply submits an important part of the Anglican Communion to a scrutiny that makes me remind the famous papal edicts of the Middle Ages, against those who would dare to think differently. The "liberals", as they are commonly called, have a fixed date to formally apologize for their pastoral excesses.

Normally I use this space here for political and everyday analysis. Rarely I use it for expressing specifically theological opinions. However, I would have the freedom of expressing, at the beginning of the liturgical Lenten time, my deep sadness for such a huge step back in a process I would call the hermeneutical journey of the Church. I affirm peremptorily here the exclusive personality of my opinion, detached from any institutional role I represent. It is the opinion of a theologian who insists on believing that the Gospel is made of inclusion and caressing of all people.

Instead of being concerned with the issues that really disqualify our world, such as poverty, war, aggressions to the environment, among so many urgent ones, they keep spending words and money being concerned about their peers who have advanced in the comprehension that people who have a sexual orientation that is different from heterosexuality
are equal beyond God and are also equal in their beloved God's service.

And this is just because the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada have decided to advance with respect to the way with which homosexuals are treated among their jurisdictions.

An uncertain future is before the Anglican Communion. And it is sad to realize that the climate of confrontation now comes to ecclesiastical discipline, which means power and a not very adequate use of it for maintaining the "neurosis of the discursive correction of the faith".

As I have commented somewhere else, the communion is broken. The fact that some conservatives refuse to take part of the Eucharistic table with their equals is an irreversible symptom that the Anglican Communion is agonizing.

Unfortunately, some of the primates - fundamentalists and sexists - have twisted the Church's agenda: from serving the world to a negative focus on sexuality. The world expects much more from the Church than value judgments or correct dogmatic formulas. This is part of the Age of Reason, that has shown to be innocuous as a tool for struggling with the real dilemmas of mankind!

Lenten Practices

When Mona and I lived in San José, California, we were members of St. Francis Episcopal Church. The parish is very supportive of our mission and you can visit their website by clicking on their link in the blogroll. The Lenten practice at St. Francis was a Wednesday night Soup Supper with a lecture series after dinner. I always enjoyed the classes and the soups. Here in Panamá, we really don't want to eat soup during Lent because it's still Summer time and really, really, hot; soup just isn't as comforting as it is in California during Lent (where my sister tells me it's snowing at her house in Redwood City!). No, no soup during Lent here!

I remember that many churches in the U.S.A. have their Lenten classes on Wednesday nights; I noticed that Rev. Ref+ is doing that at his parish. Here in Panamá, it's Friday nights for Lenten stuff.

Here at San Cristóbal the tradition is Stations of the Cross on Friday nights during Lent. Before the stations, I usually give a class, either a Bible study or a lecture. Last year we looked at the ancient heresies and their modern manifestations; we have had classes on Early Christian spirituality and on different prayer styles. This year we will talk about the Anglican Communion and what the heck is going on. This should be interesting!!

What are the practices in your community?

Tacky Clocks

Wow!! Look at what I found with just a short zip about the blogosphere! I love that moog clock 'cuz I loves me the micro-moog; I actually had one for a few years! I'll bet no one can top the lamp/telephone/clock combo of love!!! AND IT'S PINK AND BLACK!!

Friday Red Mr. Peanut Bank and Gallito Mescalito Blogging

Here the boys pose with a tacky piña clock in my office. When I first came to San Cristóbal, I needed a clock for the office and someone was sweet enough to give me that monstrosity. I kinda likes it, though, especially after having it sit on my shelf for all these years, and, believe me, it could have been MUCH, MUCH worse!! I have seen clocks with pictures of Jesus with the clock right about where the Sacred Heart would be located, I've seen terrible redwood-burl clocks in the shape of the U.S.A. (not here in Panamá, of course!), etc. I'm sure you've seen some awful clocks in your time, too. In fact, you may OWN some terrible clocks, or maybe your mom does, or your crazy Uncle Lou. What the heck, if you have photos of terrible clocks, send them to me at and I'll post them here at the Dance Party. What time is it? It's time to get rid of that clock!!

Friday Random 10 (or maybe 11?)

1. Reptilia The Strokes
2. Domine Secundum Actum Meum (Byrd) I Fagiolini
3. God Save The Queen Sex Pistols
4. Lookin' Out For Me Kirk Franklin
5. Mother Bowed The Pilgrim Travellers
6. Dawn Of The Dreads Arrested Development
7. Like Spinning Plates Radiohead
8. Siete Horas Bebe
9. Can't Wait Piper
10. End Of The Line Roxy Music
Bonus 11. Sunlight Of No Light The Gospel At Colonus (Original Cast Recording)

Well, a classic, two gospel songs in a row, an ancient safe-for-white-guys rap group, and who'da thought we would have such an appropriate numbah ten? And the bonus is great!!

Feast of St. Polycarp, Bishop and Martyr of Smyrna

O God, the maker of heaven and earth, you gave your venerable servant, the holy and gentle Polycarp, boldness to confess Jesus Christ as King and Savior, and steadfastness to die for his faith: Give us grace, following his example, to share the cup of Christ and rise to eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Today is the feast of Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, and martyr. Smyrna was a city in Asia Minor, in the nation we now call Turkey. Born in the year 69, Polycarp was a student of John the Apostle and Evangelist, studying under him during his time in Ephesus, after his exile on Patmos. Polycarp was one of the bishops actually consecrated in the Apostolic succession since he was ordained by an Apostle. He was a well respected bishop; when Ignatius made his journey to Rome for his own martyrdom, he wrote letters to various churches along the way, and one of the letters was addressed to Polycarp. Polycarp wrote an Epistle to the Philippians which was read by many early Christian communities, although it was not included in the canon. In this epistle he reminds the Christians in Philippi of the importance of holding on to the promises of God, of the importance of keeping the faith, and that the clergy must be self-disciplined, righteous, humane, and hard working. He was very clear that clergy must not be "in love with money" and live lives of holiness as examples to the flock. He also wrote that it was important to remember that Jesus had two nature, human and divine, in opposition to the Docetists.

The account of Polycarp's martyrdom may have been written by Irenaeus of Lyons, and it is the earliest account of a martyrdom after the story of the deacon Stephen in the Acts of the Apostles. One in the year 155 or 156, a crowd was at the stadium in Smyrna watching the spectacle of several Christians being thrown to the wild beasts. The Christians stood firm and died noble deaths, but the crowd, upset by the martyrs' heroism, broke into cries of "Down with the infidels!" and "Go find Polycarp!" When the bishop learned that the crowd wanted him, he was all for staying in the city and facing the music, but members of his church took him out of town and to a hiding place in the hills. He spent his entire time there, day and night, praying for those who were being persecuted. One day while praying, he had a vision in which his pillow ignited and burned to ashes. He went down stairs and told his companions, "I seems that I will be burnt alive." They kept moving him from one farm to another with the authorities hot on their heels. Soldiers arrested two servant boys at one location, and, under torture, they told the police where Polycarp was. When the police appeared at the farm, Polycarp surrendered rather than continue on the run. He asked the police for just a little time to pray, and, seeing that he was rather elderly and not much of a threat, they agreed. He prayed so full of God's grace that two whole hours passed before he could stop praying. Several of the police began to feel some remorse for having to arrest such a saintly old man. Polycarp was brought to the Police Commissioner, who took him into his carriage and said, "Come on, what's the harm in offering some incense and saying 'Caesar is Lord?' It will save your life!" Polycarp said, "No, I won't take your advice." Many people tried to convince him to offer incense to the honor of the Emperor but he would not budge. They finally arrived at the stadium, where the crowd was waiting for the day's entertainment and all worked up. When he walked into the stadium, a voice from the heavens said "Be strong, Polycarp, and play the man." Standing in front of the crowd, the police gave him one more chance to recant, saying, "Think of your years. Swear by the luck of the Emperor, or at least say 'Down with the infidels.'" The Governor finally said, "Take an oath and I'll let you go. Revile your Christ." Polycarp said, "I've served Him for 86 years and he had done me no wrong. How can I blaspheme and deny my King and Savior?" They threatened him with wild beasts, and he said, "Bring on the animals, because I will not trade a good way of thinking for a bad one. It might be a good idea for you, however, to switch from the wrong to the right!" Like most men in power, the Police Commissioner didn't appreciate smart-aleck answers, and he hollered "I'll have you burned with fire since you think so lightly of the beasts!" Polycarp responded "The fire you threaten me with won't burn for very long; it will eventually go out, but are you unaware of the eternal flames of judgment and eternal torment that wait for the ungodly? Come on, stop wasting time, do what ever yo are going to do!" The crowd shouted, "Polycarp has admitted to being a Christian!" (Duh! Ever notice how intelligent large crowds in stadiums are?) and started gathering wood to burn Polycarp. When the pile of combustible materials was ready, Polycarp took off his tunic and sandals and stood next to the stake. They fastened his feet with irons and were about to nail him to the stake when he said, "Let me be; He who gives me strength to endure the flames will give me strength not to flinch at the stake without your making sure of it with nails." So they tied him to the stake, instead. Polycarp looked up into heaven and prayed: "Almighty God and Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ, you are the God of angels and power and of the whole creation, and all the generations of the righteous live in your sight. I thank you for granting me this day and hour that I might be numbered amongst the martyrs, to share the cup of your Anointed and to rise into life everlasting. May I be received this day into your presence, a sacrifice rich and acceptable, for you are the God of truth and in you is no falsehood. I praise you, I glorify you, and I bless you, through our eternal high priest in heaven, your believed Son, Jesus, Christ, by whom and with whom be glory to you and the Holy spirit, now and for all ages to come. Amen." As the "amen" soared up and the prayer ended, the men lit the fire and a great sheet of flame blazed out. It enveloped Polycarp like a ship's sail and formed a wall around him, and he was in the center of the fire, like an ingot of gold being refined in the furnace. Then everyone smelled a wonderful fragrance, not the odor of burning flesh, but of fine incense. Finally, when they realized the fire would not destroy him, two tough-guys went up and stabbed him. As they did, a dove flew out of the fire and there was such a rush of blood that the flames were extinguished! And with that, the great Bishop of Smyrna, Polycarp, student of the Beloved Disciple, went to his reward, to a robe of white, standing with a palm branch in front of the throne of the Lamb, saying "Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb."

Tertullian said, "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church." The witness of brave Christians like Polycarp has been an example to Christians for centuries. When I read of Christians in the U.S. claiming that they are being persecuted because their children can't pray around a flag pole at school, or those in TEC who claim persecution because gay and lesbian Christians are being ordained and treated as human beings, I think of someone like Polycarp, someone who knew real persecution, someone who stood up to the authorities, someone who braved the wild beasts and burning at the stake, and I think, "aren't we blessed that we don't know real persecution?" May Polycarp's witness be a model for us all.

Thursday, February 22, 2007


I was just listening to the KQED-FM feed of the News Hour, right after listening to Randi Rhodes on Air America. I read the NYT on-line every morning, and all I can say is


Well, they hit the church again and this time they stole the cable for the 220 volt circuits. It's good that the Cooking Class isn't meeting today since their electric stove is out, as are the air-conditioners for our offices. I have power to my computer but not for my lights or AC. Now I'm off to spend the morning (and possibly the afternoon) at the police station. This stuff can take forever

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Ash Wednesday

Jesus tempted in the Wilderness

Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have
made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent: Create and
make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily
lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness,
may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission
and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives
and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever
and ever. Amen.

Practicing fasting, alms giving, and prayer are important aspects of Lent, and these practices can deepen our spir and strengthen our connection with the Lord, but what is most important is our intention in doing these things. Are we doing this to show how holy and righteous and wonderful we are, are we doing this to show we are so much better than those people who aren’t wearing ashes, or are we doing this as a sign of true repentance? Are we practicing prayer, fasting and almsgiving as a means of showing the world that we are pious, or are we doing this in order to strengthen our relationship with God? If you are going out the door with this smudge on your forehead to show your neighbors what a good person you are because you were at church at 7:30 this morning, you should wipe the ashes off your head as you go out the door. God knows our hearts, God knows what is going on in our lives. We may fool our neighbors but we can't fool God. If our Lenten practices are a means of bringing attention to ourselves, then we will already have our reward. But if we do this as a means of coming closer to God, as a means of increasing our own spiritual life and that of this parish, if these acts reflect true repentance on our parts, we will then be experiencing a true and holy Lent. May our intentions and motives this Lent be pure. May we use this time as a means of spiritual preparation. May we use this time to grow in our love of God and each other. May we all keep a holy Lent.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Bishop Marc Andrus of California Responds to the Primate's Communiqué

I am writing in response to the Communiqué coming out of the primates meeting in Tanzania. While many are reacting to the words of the Communiqué, I would like to respond from an awareness of the foundation of the day-to-day ongoing commitment of Christians to the gospel of Jesus. As bishop to the Diocese of California, I make the following affirmations:

The inclusion of gay and lesbian people in the full life of the Church is a matter of justice: as we are all part of the world, and the kindom of God is like a net laid over that same world. All on the earth are connected by this net, whether perceived or not. Actions of justice and injustice reverberate throughout the whole, promoting either integrity, remembering, and shalom, or diabolic isolation.

Understood as expressed above, our task in the Church is not actually to include or exclude anyone, but to show forth an intrinsic co-inherence that simply is, created and sustained by God.

Gay and lesbian people who come to the Church seeking the blessing of the Church for their unions are people seeking to lead holy lives, exactly like heterosexual couples. The Church must respond to gay and lesbian people seeking the blessing of counseling, community support, prayer, and sacrament in the same way it does to heterosexual couples.

The Diocese of California is a place within the Church -- not alone, but prominently -- where gay and lesbian people have been freer to offer their gifts: Both professional gifts and those of lay and ordained ministry. As a result, the Diocese of California has been immeasurably enriched. As bishop of this diocese, I know very well that the Christian rights of gay and lesbian people are intrinsic and must be supported, and that without these gifts, this diocese would be as immeasurably impoverished as it is now enriched. Immeasurably as the spiritual gifts of all God's people know no measure.

The polity of The Episcopal Church requires the deliberation and consent of two bodies, the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies, to properly respond to the requests made by the primates in their Communiqué.

The Episcopal Church should make every effort, including an extraordinary meeting of the two houses, and redoubled efforts to help the other provinces of the Communion understand both our theology relating to marriage and human sexuality and our polity. We should make these efforts, and at the same time not compromise the essentials of theology or our polity.

I will call on the Diocese of California to come together at Grace Cathedral during the Easter Season (at a time and on a date to be determined) when we affirm the triumph of Christ over all that destroys the creatures of God, filling that great house of prayer for all people with the full diversity of the people of God: people who differ in mind but not heart; gay and straight people; men and women; the young with the old; the poor and the rich; people of every ethnicity, all together to show our understanding of Christ’s gift of new life in the Church.

The Rt. Rev. Marc Handley Andrus, Bishop of California
San Francisco
Shrove Tuesday, 2007

A Season of Fasting

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori offered the following reflections following the February 15-19 meeting of Anglican Primates near Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

A Season of Fasting: Reflections on the Primates Meeting

The recent meeting of the Primates in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, was a challenging one. Fourteen new primates joined the group; three longer-serving primates were unable to be present. It was a great joy to meet and begin to know a number of the primates, and to renew friendships with others. While much of our time and energy was focused on the Episcopal Church, several other agenda items were of considerable interest to many of those who gathered.

The Design Group for an Anglican Covenant submitted an initial draft for consideration by the Primates' Meeting, which in turn commended it to the Communion for consideration, debate, and revision before the Lambeth Conference next year. This covenant is a further step in the Windsor process, engaged in the understanding that all human communities need boundaries in order to function. Anglicanism has always valued a rather wide set of boundaries, and boundaries are a central issue in the current debate - where are they, and how wide a space can they contain? The Covenant in its current draft attempts to define what the essentials and non-negotiable elements of Anglicanism might be, and how the Communion might live together in diversity.

The new United Nations observer, Hellen Wangusa, was installed during our meeting, and also led a discussion on the Millennium Development Goals. The Goals are directed primarily toward the governments of this world, both those in the developing world, who will have to design the systems to implement the goals, and the governments of the developed world, which are asked to contribute 0.7% of their annual incomes. She challenged us to recognize that these goals only go part way toward achieving full healing in the world, and that our own vision is of a world entirely reconciled and healed in God.

We also heard about the work being done on Theological Education in the Anglican Communion (TEAC). This body has produced thoughtful and creative, outcome-based guidelines for theological education of our baptized and ordained members.

The highlight of our meeting was the visit to Zanzibar and the remembrance of the end of the slave trade. We worshiped at the Anglican Cathedral in Zanzibar, built over the old slave market. Slavery was outlawed in British Empire in 1807, but it took another 90 years for the trade in Zanzibar to finally come to an end. Anglicans were a profound influence all through that period, and the Sultan of Zanzibar only signed the final treaty when faced with British warships in the harbor. David Livingstone is commemorated here for his tireless efforts to put an end to the ancient and inhuman practice of slavery. The struggle to end slavery has some parallel with our current controversy, and we can note the less than universal agreement about the moral duty of Christians over a lengthy period. The United States also experienced major division over slavery, even though the Episcopal Church did not fully divide. Some see that part of our history as shameful, while others see it as a sign of hope, and that, too, has current parallels.

We traveled home from this meeting at Carnival, the farewell to meat (carne vale) that comes just before Lent begins. That is an image that may be useful as we consider what the Primates' gathering is commending to the Episcopal Church. The Episcopal Church has been asked to consider the wider body of the Anglican Communion and its needs. Our own Church has in recent years tended to focus on the suffering of one portion of the body, particularly those who feel that justice demands the full recognition and celebration of the gifts of gay and lesbian Christians. That focus has been seen in some other parts of the global Church, as inappropriate, especially as it has been felt to be a dismissal of traditional understandings of sexual morality. Both parties hold positions that can be defended by appeal to our Anglican sources of authority - scripture, tradition, and reason - but each finds it very difficult to understand and embrace the other. What is being asked of both parties is a season of fasting - from authorizing rites for blessing same-sex unions and consecrating bishops in such unions on the one hand, and from transgressing traditional diocesan boundaries on the other.

A parallel to this situation in our tradition might be seen in the controversy over eating meat in early Christian communities, mentioned both in the letter to the Romans and the first letter to the Corinthians. In those early communities, the meat available for purchase in the public market was often part of an animal that had been offered (in whole or in part) in sacrifice in various pagan religious rites. The troubling question in the Christian community was whether or not it was appropriate to eat such meat - was it tainted by its involvement in pagan religion? Did one participate in that religion (and thus commit apostasy) by eating it? Paul encourages the Christians in Rome and Corinth to recall that, while there may be no specific prohibition about eating such meat, the sensitive in the community might refrain if others would be offended. The needs of the weaker members, and the real possibility that their faith may be injured, are an important consideration in making the dietary decision.

The current controversy brings a desire for justice on the one hand into apparent conflict with a desire for fidelity to a strict understanding of the biblical tradition and to the main stream of the ethical tradition. Either party may be understood to be the meat-eaters, and each is reminded that their single-minded desire may be an idol. Either party might constructively also be understood by the other as the weaker member, whose sensibilities need to be considered and respected.

God's justice is always tempered with mercy, and God continues to be at work in this world, urging the faithful into deeper understandings of what it means to be human and our call as Christians to live as followers of Jesus. Each party in this conflict is asked to consider the good faith of the other, to consider that the weakness or sensitivity of the other is of significant import, and therefore to fast, or "refrain from eating meat," for a season. Each is asked to discipline itself for the sake of the greater whole, and the mission that is only possible when the community maintains its integrity.

Justice, (steadfast) love, and mercy always go together in our biblical tradition. None is complete without the others. While those who seek full inclusion for gay and lesbian Christians, and the equal valuing of their gifts for ministry, do so out of an undeniable passion for justice, others seek a fidelity to the tradition that cannot understand or countenance the violation of what that tradition says about sexual ethics. Each is being asked to forbear for a season. The word of hope is that in God all things are possible, and that fasting is not a permanent condition of a Christian people, nor a normative one. God's dream is of all people gathered at a feast, and we enter Lent looking toward that Easter feast and the new life that will, in God's good time, be proclaimed.

A Strange Blog

So, I thought that the Red Mr. Peanut Bank and Gallito Mescalito series was a little strange, but I discovered this blog, The Adventures of the Bobble-head Jesus, which I think many of you will enjoy. He really gets around, and the photo-blogger places him in much stranger places than I place Red Mr. Peanut Bank and Gallito Mescalito.

I'm not sure, but I suspect that der Bobble-head is connected in some strange way to Ms. Alexandra Martin, a YASC missionary in Germany.
Padre says, "Check it out!!"

Carnaval At Hogar De Las Niñas

Photo from

Tía Sue has a great post about the Carnaval celebration at el Hogar.
I think it sounds like more fun than a Shrove Tuesday pancake dinner in the Parish Hall. I´ll never forget the faces of the Youth at San Cristóbal when I told them about Shrove Tuesday celebrations in the U.S. They couldn't believe that everyone would eat pancakes for dinner!
So, go check out Tía Sue's blog.


Eileen the Episcopali-fem has tagged us all with the following meme: "Describe Eileen in one word." So, here it goes: Eileen = joyful.
Let's face it, she comes off as joyful most of the time, and even when she's bummed-out it seems as if she will burst out smiling pretty soon.

Go to her site and describer her. And now you've all been tagged by me. Describe Padre in one word, and keep it clean.

My First Reaction To The Communiqué From The Primates Meeting

The Communiqué was released last night just as we were heading out to dinner with friends, so I didn't have a chance to really read it until this morning. I am quite disappointed with this document, but it is simply a communiqué; it came out of a meeting in Tanzania and not on stone tablets from Mt. Sinai.

It seems that no matter how often TEC explains its polity to those from more hierarchical and less democratic provinces, they simply can't comprehend the process or refuse to under stand it. This passage:
...In particular, the Primates request, through the Presiding Bishop, that the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church
1. make an unequivocal common covenant that the bishops will not authorise any Rite of Blessing for same-sex unions in their dioceses or through General Convention (cf TWR, §143, 144); and
2. confirm that the passing of Resolution B033 of the 75th General Convention means that a candidate for episcopal orders living in a same-sex union shall not receive the necessary consent (cf TWR, §134); unless some new consensus on these matters emerges across the Communion...
ignores the House of Deputies and assumes that the House of Bishops may do whatever they want to do without the House of Deputies. They simply don't understand how things work, or they refuse to understand how things work!

I must say that I am saddened with, what appears to me, the willingness of the Primates to give in to a certain African Archbishop who refused to have communion with the ABC and other primates, who avoided sharing meals with the others, and avoided attending services with the others on Sunday. I guess if one acts like a little brat, sitting in a corner pouting, the majority of the Primates will give him what he wants! Perhaps this is because they are males; there is often a strong strain of "stupid" which manifests in large gatherings of males. I can't imagine such behavior being tolerated in a gathering of women.

I want to spend some time digesting this news, so I won't be posting much today. No matter what has been decided in Tanzania, the work God calls us to do goes on. I still have to right a sermon for tomorrow and work on my Lenten Series talk which starts Friday. I won't be deserting my GLBT brothers and sisters in Christ. We at Parroquia San Cristóbal will continue to preach the Good News of forgiveness of sins and the coming of God's Reign. We will continue to reach out to those who are hurting, who are hungry, who are in despair, and tell them of God's unconditional love. We will continue to do the work God has given us to do.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Draft Anglican Covenant

The Draft Anglican Covenant from the Covenant Design Group is available here in pdf form.

We try to stay on top of things here at the Dance Party.

I invite discussion of the text in the comments.

I'll Bet Heads Are Spinning At Some Of Those "Reasserter" Sites!

Here's some interesting news coming from the Primates Meeting in Tanzania, thanks to Jim Naughton over at Daily Episcopalian. Please comment on this; I wanna know what ya'll think about this.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

A Carnaval Photo for MadPriest

Carnaval Options

Photos by the Lovely and Talented Mona

One has several options during Carnaval: Join the others in the street in semi-nude, drunken abandon (working on something to be penitent about during Lent), or hide in one's home, or attend Edifying and Uplifting Sunday Afternoon Programs. We went with the latter option this afternoon. We attended a Concert in Honor of Mr. Stafford Edwards, put on by St. Simon's Church at the Bishop Clarence Hayes Gymnatorium at Instituto Episcopal San Cristóbal. Stafford was a member of both St. Simon's and St. Christopher's and he was an amazing Male Soprano. He sang with the choir at St. Christopher's and he also sang with the All Male Extravaganza (yeah, I know, the name means something totally different where you live. Behave yourself!!). He died late last year, so we wanted to honor his memory with music. I was the Master of Ceremonies. The program started on time and ended on time, a new experience for so many of us here in Panamá! Mrs. Elizabeth Leigh and Mrs. Constance Blackman performed several pieces, accompanied by Mr. William Hutchenson. Mrs. Nora Johnson, accompanied by Mr. Reynaldo Taylor also performed. St. Christopher's Parish Choir sang, as did the Pan American Chorale (also accompanied by Mr. William Hutcheson). Elder Marcelino Marshall (my good friend), of Berean's Seventh-Day Adventist Church-Parque Lefevre, sang, as did the All Male Extravaganza, a choir of men from local Methodist, Episcopal, and National Baptists churches (I have been known to perform with them and they are all friends). The Reverend Nelson Edwards, priest of St. Simon's gave the invocation and the benediction. All in all a very pleasant afternoon!!
Cast In Order Of Appearance:
1. Padre Mickey (wearing gray again; no, I'm not a Canon, Leonardo!)
2. Mrs. Elizabeth Leigh and Mrs. Constance Blackman with Mr. William Hutchenson
3 Mrs. Nora Johnson with Mr. Reynaldo Taylor
4. Choir of St. Christopher's Parish
5. The Pan American Chorale
6. Elder Marcelino Marshall
7. The All Male Extravaganza
8. Revdo. Nelson Edwards

Mrs. Thelma Welsh

Wow, Mona is getting really good with the new camera! I just had to share this photo she took this afternoon of our friend Mrs. Thelma Welsh. She is a member of St. Simon's in Gamboa, and she and her husband Homer were our neighbors when we lived in Paraíso in the former Canal Zone. I really like the lighting and everything about this shot

Retiring Alleluias For Lent

Today is the last Sunday of Epiphany, which means today was the last Sunday to say or sing "alleluia" for several weeks. There was a discussion on this subject over at Grandmère Mimi’s the other day. It made me think about what hymns everyone sang at church today. At the 7:30 am (English language Choral Eucharist) we sang: Alleluia, Song of Gladness; O Wondrous Type, O Vision Fair (of course!!); Alleluia, Sing to Jesus; Alleluia; He Touched Me (!?!); and Ye Watchers And Ye Holy Ones(just like you, ePisco!). At la Misa a las 10:30 am we sang Caridad y Comprensión, Aleluya; Ale, Ale, ¡Aleluya!; Busca Primero El Reino De Dios (Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God); El Señor Nos Ama Hoy(Ricardo and I really kicked that one!) Gloria, Gloria, Aleluya(the tune is the Battle Hymn of the Republic, but the words are quite different). I sang the Easter Alleluia at the Fraction and used the Easter Dismissal, 'cuz dey gots plenty alleluias dem.

So, what did ya'll sing today?

Saturday, February 17, 2007

From the Daily Diaries of Pets

This is great! I found it over at First Draft
Excerpts from a Dog's diary

8:00 am - Dog food! My favorite thing!
9:30 am - A car ride! My favorite thing!
9:40 am - A walk in the park! My favorite thing!
10:30 am - Got rubbed and petted! My favorite
12:00 pm - Lunch! My favorite thing!
1:00 pm - Played in the yard! My favorite thing!
3:00 pm - Wagged my tail! My favorite thing!
5:00 pm - Milk bones! My favorite thing!
7:00 pm - Got to play ball! My favorite thing!
8:00 pm - Wow! Watched TV with the people! My
favorite thing!
11:00 pm - Sleeping on the bed! My favorite thing!

Excerpts from a Cat's Daily Diary :

Day 683 of my captivity:
My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little
dangling objects.

They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while the other inmates and I are fed hash or some sort of dry nuggets. Although I make my contempt for the rations perfectly clear, I nevertheless must eat something in order to keep up my strength.

The only thing that keeps me going is my dream of escape. In an attempt to disgust them, I once again vomit on the floor.

Today I decapitated a mouse and dropped its headless body at their feet. I had hoped this would strike fear into their hearts, since it clearly demonstrates what I am capable of. However, they merely made condescending comments about what a "good little hunter" I am. The audacity!

There was some sort of assembly of their accomplices tonight. I was placed in solitary confinement for the duration of the event. However, I could hear the noises and smell the food. I overheard that my confinement was due to the power of "allergies." I must learn what this means, and how to use it to my advantage.

Today I was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of my tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking. I must try this again tomorrow -- but at the top of the stairs.

I am convinced that the other prisoners here are flunkies and snitches.

The dog receives special privileges. He is regularly released - and seems to be more than willing to return. He is obviously retarded!

The bird has got to be an informant. I observe him communicate with the guards regularly. I am certain that he reports my every move. My captors have arranged protective custody for him in an elevated cell,
so he is safe....... for now...


Photo credit: IPAT

Carnaval Queen 2007 Kathy Real

It's Carnaval en Panamá, which means lots of noise, craziness, and public drunkeness. Elektranoreste, the power company, is celebrating by turning off the power in our neighborhood for several hours. Just wanted to get this post in before the lights go out. It'll be a Low Sunday at the Spanish-language service tomorrow.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Last Day of Vacation Bible School

Today was the final day of VBS. We started the day like we have all week, with singing and Bible reading and a lesson. The kids worked on some crafts and then headed to Parque Omar for a few hours. They returned to the church for lunch, and then the Clausura, or Graduation. This entire program was run by our Youth Group, Luz de Mañana (Morning Light) with a few kids from San Francisco de Asís, and they did a great job, especially having to work around space problems and the lack of electricity. We had a total of 48 kids this year, which is pretty good since usually los Jovenes go around the neighborhood the week before VBS inviting all the children. This year they were at Diocesan and Convention all week so they didn't have the opportunity to invite as many kids as usual. All in all it went very well.

1. Little Kids
2. Los Intermedios
3. Big Kids
4. Denzel and Jimmy being cool
5. Juan with a sleepy little one
6. Praying together
7. Lil' Kids Graduate
8. Intermedios Graduate
9. Big Kids Graduate
10. Even Bigger Kids Graduate
11. Final song
12. It's Over!

I See You!

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