Monday, April 30, 2007

Happy Labour Day!

Almighty God, you have so linked our lives one with another that all we do affects, for good or ill, all other lives: So guide us in the work we do, that we may do it not for self alone, but for the common good; and, as we seek a proper return for our own labor, make us mindful of the rightful aspirations of other workers, and arouse our concern for those who are out of work; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Almighty God, whose Son Jesus Christ in his earthly life shared our toil and hallowed our labor: Be present with your people where they work; make those who carry on the industries
and commerce of this land responsive to your will; and give to us all a pride in what we do, and a just return for our labor; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Almighty God our heavenly Father, you declare your glory and show forth your handiwork in the heavens and in the earth: Deliver us in our various occupations from the service of self alone, that we may do the work you give us to do in truth and beauty and for the common good; for the sake of him who came among us as one who serves, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

In the early 1980's, the only job I could find as a Purchasing Agent was with a Defense Contractor, the notorious United Technologies Corporation, Chemical Systems Division. We made rocket engines. I used to buy all the electronics for the IUS, or Inertial Upper-stage, a rocket which propelled satellites into orbit after they left the cargo hold of the Space Shuttle. I didn't fit in very well, but I struggled on. My dear friend Matty Boy, who was working as a game designer for Activision, loved to call me every May 1 and say "Happy International Worker's Day, Comrade! Here's hoping your office is heavily festooned with flowers!!" and then he'd hang-up. Now I live in Panamá, where 1 de Mayo actually IS Labour Day.

The Lovely Mona has requested that I be very clear that SHE IS NOT A COMMUNIST, unlike her commie-bastid husband. She is also winging her way to Boston today to spend some time with our new granddaughter, Anne Evannie, and her parents Anne and Evans.
Chompita and I will be holding down the fort here in Parque Lefevre. Today I'm spending the day in Gamboa with the clergy and vestries of Parroquia San Cristóbal, Iglesia San Mateo, Iglesia San Marcos, y Iglesia San Francisco de Asís. We are holding a Vestry Academy. Should be fun.

May God bless all the workers around the world, those employed and those un-employed and those under employed. Here in Panamá, way too many workers are unemployed. May their situation change for the better. And remember, everyone, the Workers hold the means of production!

Here's hoping your office is heavily festooned with flowers!

Monday at the Hogar

This morning I had a fun day at the hogar. First I worked with two girls on their English. We went over the words and pronunciation.

Then Adelia came to me wanting to color. She's five going on three. She's very young and sits on my lap much of the time when I'm there. I decided coloring would be a good idea. She needs to learn the colors and how to color. She's in the first picture.

The second foto is of the girls coloring. Once the box of colors came out I was surrounded. Next to Adelia is Carla. Carla is also 5. The two of them are in kinder together. Sol is standing next to Carla the looking for colors. Maria Isable is coloring and that's Estephani's head. More kids joined us, but I got into coloring to and stopped taking fotos. Not pictured is Enibeth who gave me her picture when she was finished. I thought that was really sweet of her.

The last foto is of the kids waiting for their sheets. They change the sheets on their beds every Monday. As always, click on the fotos and you can see the close ups of the coloring and more details.

Parade of 1000 Polleras

All photographs by Eric Jackson, The Panama News. Click on photo for larger version

Yesterday was the Parade of 1000 Polleras. The Pollera is a long, full skirt which is one of the national symbols of Panamá. Nowadays pollera means the entire outfit, including the camisa, or blouse. A proper pollera includes motas or wool pompoms on the front and back of the neck of the camisa, and tembleques, hair ornaments made of wire and beads which resemble flowers, mariposas, and even birds. St. Christopher's offers classes every two years in the sewing of polleras and in making tembleques.

I wasn't at the parade yesterday, but my good friend Eric Jackson of the Panama News was there with his camera. I'll share some of his photos. You can see all twenty-six photos at the Panama News site. Just click on the link.

Look! ¡Diablitos Sucios! A Conga Queen! Ruben Blades! And lots and lots of polleras!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Two of the Three Pillars

According to The Beautiful Princess Sparkle Pony and my dear friend Matty Boy, The Three Pillars of Successful Blogging are #1 Pretty Girls; #2. Babies: and #3. Dogs. This evening I am proud to present two of the Three Pillars: Numbers 1 & 3. This is my Panamanian granddaughter Alejandra with her BFF Señorita Chompita Wiggletail. Alejandra is six years old, going on seventeen. She will be here for the weekend. She tells everyone "I have a dog, her name is Chompita, and she lives with my abuelos." Chompy has always stayed right next to Alejandra during meals, as Alejandra is a generous and giving soul, and always shares here meals with Chompita. I remember when Alejandra was about three years old, witnessing her taking a bite of her dinner from her fork and then spearing the next bite and giving it to Chompita. As you can see, they loves each other. We are all rejoicing, as abuela Mona baked Toll House cookies (galletas de abuela, as Alejandra calls them!) in honour of Alejandra's visit! AND we had pizza for dinner! Hooray for grandkids!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

UTO Workshop

Today the Episcopal Church Women of Panama Metro held a UTO Workshop at at San Cristóbal. It ran from 11:00 am until 2:00 pm. I attended a bit of it, and learned a lot about the UTO and the responsibilities of the leaders of the ECW towards the UTO. The United Thank Offering is very important in Panama, as many of our churches were built with UTO gifts. As a result, the people of the Episcopal Church of Panama are very supportive of the UTO, and participate happily in the two in-gatherings each year.

1. The Participants
2. Mrs. Cora Gill and Mrs. Clara Edwards (of St. Christopher's) lead the Workshop
3. The Materials
4. The UTO sign
5. Mrs. Cora Gill, Mrs. Clara Edwards, and Mrs. Teresa Brathwaite (all of St. Christopher's)
6. Another shot of the participants

The Great Wall of Parque Lefevre Continues

Work on the Wall continues. They've been working on it for two weeks now. I figure it will be finished next week. Once it's finished it will be painted, and then, the part I dread, terrible nasty razor wire will be placed on the top, our way of saying "The Episcopal Church Welcomes Some of You, But Not Those of You Who Steal Electrical Cables for the Copper!" Maybe we can paint the wall in rainbow colours.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Friday Red Mr. Peanut Bank and Gallito Mescalito Blogging

1. This is The Tick. He is a Super Hero. Is super powers are nigh-invulnerability, which allows him to crash and bang about without injury; super strength (he can bend a steel girder with ease); and "drama power", or basically a tendency for the Tick's powers to increase as the situation becomes more dramatic. He can also survive out in space without a suit and underwater without oxygen. This is an old photo. It is also a bit blurry, which matches this evening's theme.

2. This is a tiny little bear the Lovely Mona got with a box of Red Rose tea during some ancient promotion. I can't get a clear photo of him, 'cuz he's shaking like crazy, or 'cuz he's so tiny I can't focus the camera, one or the other. Today the Tick and the Blurry Bear join the cast of Friday Red Mr. Peanut Bank And Gallito Mescalito Blogging!

3. Tick: My super-ticky-sense is aware of the presence of an enemy, one I have yet to meet, but one so full of evil I can barely stand up straight!

4. Blurry Bear: It is I, your new nemesis, BLURRY BEAR! I will disarm you with my unfocused cuteness, rendering you helpless as I conquer the entire planet, starting with the Heart of the Earth, PANAMÁ!!! Jijijijijiji (a blurry, evil laugh)

5. Tick: You don't scare me. Look! I am HUGE! I am BLUE! I make the background REDDISH IN HUE! I AM RED, BLUE, AND POWERFUL!!

6. Blurry Bear: You are nothing to me! Try to focus on my eyes! Jijijijijiji, you can't even see them! Also, not so huge are you, it's all in the camera angle.

7. Red Mr. Peanut Bank: You are rather short, Tick. And trying to focus on that bear hurts my eyes and is giving me a headache!
Gallito Mescalito: Shriek-shriek! Shriek! Shriek! SHRIIIEEEKKK!!!
Tick: Well, it's all relative. That bird is giving me a headache!
Red Mr. Peanut Bank: That BIRD, as you call hu, is my best friend and bigger than you and not intimidated by un oso emborronado, ya big chicken!
Gallito Mescalito: Shriekshriekshriekshriek!!
Tick: I wish Arthur was here!

8. Blurry Bear: You're all giving me a headache. I will stand out here on the car! You win. I am almost in focus, you nasty trio.

9. Red Mr. Peanut Bank, Gallito Mescalito, the Tick: We have vanquished the foe. WE ARE ALL HUGE!! SHRIEK! SHRIEK!! SHRIIIEEEEKKK!!!!

Ya know, it's getting harder and harder to come up with stories, as you can tell with this evening's episode. I'm just not that inspired. I admit that Red Mr. Peanut Bank and Gallito Mescalito Blogging is a strange feature, and I suspect if keeps me off the Episcopal Café and E piscope blogrolls. I invite all story writers to submit stories to mgdbach at hotmail dot com. I'll take the photos, you write the stories. Otherwise I will be tempted to put the boys on hiatus. Of course this means next week I will be totally inspired and will come up with the BEST EPISODE EVAH, but until then, send me your ideas.

Local Colour

A few weeks ago the Lovely Mona and I were in Gamboa for a service at St. Simon's. I just found these photos from that day. One is of the railroad track next to the Canal. The other two photos are of The Bridge. The only way into Gamboa, other than the Canal, is across this one-lane bridge. All traffic is one-way, directed by the traffic light. I've actually seen cars backing-up on the bridge because they decided no one was coming and ignored the light!
See that crane in the background of the third photo? It is huge and painted red, white, and blue. It floats down the Canal. I've seen it used to change gates on the locks over at Miraflores. One day when we lived in Paraíso I saw the top of the crane passing by the top of a hill next to our house; that was one of the strangest sights I've ever seen. I wished I'd had a digital camera that day!

Friday Random Ten

1. Bowtie Outkast
2. Dum Sigillum (Perotin) Hilliard Ensemble
3. Blue Murder The Wonders Of Science
4. Woman Be My Country Johnny Clegg & Savuka
5. Hoover Factory Elvis Costello and the Attractions
6. Sweet By and By (There's A Land That Is Fairer Than Day) Anonymous 4
7. Kabhi Khushi 3 Lata Mangeshgar
8. Planxty Brown/The William Davis's/Lady Wrixon The Chieftains
9. Long, Long, Long The Beatles
10. Games Hüsker Dü

Kinda all over the place today!
#3 is one of Matty Boy's songs. Being the exploitive kinda dad that I am, we had little Tara and Anne sing background on the final chorus. They were just little thangs and it took a long time to record. The girls were in the studio, daddy was in the control room, and everytime daddy would speak to them through their headphones they would stop and look all around, trying to figure out where I was. Once we were able to get them to sing it only took a few takes.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Da SyncMastah!

On April 2, a day which will live in infamy, the Lovely Mona arose and took the sweet Señorita Chompita Wiggletail on her walk. When she returned home, whilst the Padre snored away in the bedroom, she fired up the macmini and was shocked when the screen wouldn't come up. Yes, our display was on the blink. And blink is the correct word, as it would flash for a second and then go dark. Padre awoke, swore, and messed with the computer for an hour, then surrendered and called the Shop. The LG monitor was on the fritz. It's under a three year warranty, but LG Panamá will take a month to repair it, so Padre brought the eMac home from la oficina so that the Lovely Mona could finish her studies for the year (which she finished on Monday!! Yahoo!!!). Today, after a major thunderstorm, the ol' eMac decided not to turn on, so we were forced to go purchase another display for the macmini. We purchased a display which was relatively inexpensive, but has the wonderful name of SyncMaster 740n. All Hail the SyncMaster!! The only problem is it's always showing that photo of the Forbidden City.

I hates having to buy new stuff all the time!

This morning, while standing in the shower, I thought "Maybe there's a circuit breaker or something on that eMac." So, before the Lovely Mona and I took off for DataServe (Your Authorized Apple Service Center in Panamá!), I tried to find another button. There wasn't another button, but I pushed the "on" button (Push the button, Frank) and it came on! Praise the Lord! Everything is working again!!!

If You Haven't Done So Already

Go read this from Father Jake

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Feast of St. Mark, Evangelist and Martyr

Almighty God, by the hand of Mark the evangelist you have given to your Church the Gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God: We thank you for this witness, and pray that we may be firmly grounded in its truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good tidings, who publishes peace, who brings forth good tidings of good, who published salvation, who says to Zion, "Your God reigns!"

Mark the Evangelist brought good tidings which continue to change lives. In the NRSV the ευανγγελιον Μαρκον opens "The beginning of the Good News of Jesus, Christ, the Son of God" while other English language versions use the English word "Gospel" in place of "Good News." From this beginning all other stories of Jesus' life were called Gospels. The gospel attributed to Mark is the earliest of the canonical gospels.

As is usually the case with these early saints, especially the Apostles and Evangelists, we know very little about St. Mark. According to St. Paul's letters and the earliest accounts taken from the bishops Papias, Hippolytus, and Eusebius, John Mark was the cousin of Barnabas. He actually set out with Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey but tuned back for some reason. Paul was so upset with Mark's leaving that he wouldn't let him accompany them on another journey, and the disagreement became so sharp that Barnabas left Paul to go with his cousin Mark. The breach between Mark and Paul was healed later, and Mark spent some time with Paul in Rome, where he also spent time with Peter (another person who aggravated Paul). According to tradition, Peter's recollections of his life with Jesus were the basis for Mark's gospel. There is another tradition that Mark was the young man who lost his sheet at Jesus' arrest and ran off naked.

According to tradition, St. Peter sent Mark from Rome to preach the Good News in the areas around the Adriatic. Every where he went he established Christian communities which became churches. St. Peter then consecrated Mark a bishop and sent him to Egypt. After spending some time visiting the coastal cities of Pentapolis, preaching and baptizing and setting up churches, the Holy Spirit led Mark to the city of Alexandria, a very intellectual city, a city with the largest library in the Greco-Roman world. He started several churches in Alexandria and established a catechetical school. This school produced folks like Clement, Dionysius, and Gregory the Wonderworker. My hero, Origen, taught at that school. Many in authority were unhappy with the spread of Christianity in that city, and set out to murder Mark. He heard about the plot and ordained Anianus bishop, then took-off for Pentapolis again. He strengthened the churches he started there and then traveled throughout Northern Africa, bringing the Good News of forgiveness of sins and the coming of the Reign of God to remote parts of Libya and Ammonicia.

The gospel attributed to Mark is my favorite gospel. Many people are very fond of the mysticism of the Gospel of John, or they love Luke's gospel with its angel visitations, or Matthew's use of Hebrew scripture and exegesis, but I love Mark, and not because it's the shortest gospel! Mark gets right to the point: "This is the beginning of the Good News of Jesus, Christ, the Son of God." He starts with John the Baptizer preparing the way of the Lord, he moves on to Jesus' baptism and the start of his ministry. In just a few verses he has Jesus calling disciples and healing the sick, casting out demons and proclaiming the coming of the Reign of God. Mark doesn't need angel visitations to prove that Jesus has a divine nature, and he doesn't need the visit of the Magi to prove that Jesus is a king; for Mark, Jesus is both human and divine because he is the Messiah. Jesus performs miracles of healing throughout Mark's story. Jesus turns everything upside down in Mark's gospel but whenever someone realizes Jesus' true nature, he tells them to keep quiet; this is called the "Marcan Secret." Even though Jesus' miracles showed that he was the Messiah, no one was to say it aloud because Jesus' arrest, death and resurrection would prove that he was the Messiah. In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus heals the sick as a sign of the Reign of God, he casts out demons as a sign of the Reign of God, he eats and drinks with sinners and outcasts and proclaims forgiveness of sins as a sign of the Reign of God. Jesus defeats death and rises from the dead as a sign of the Reign of God.

Seeing the Resurrected Christ transformed the lives of the disciples, the life of James, Jesus' brother, and the lives of all who saw him. The witness of these people and the story they told transformed the lives of all who heard it and believed. If Mark was the guy who lost his sheet, he was one of Jesus' early followers and he may have been one of the five hundred who saw the Resurrected Christ at one time. We know that his life was transformed and that he was willing to travel to the Adriatic and Northern Africa to tell the story of Jesus. Mark's life was changed by the Resurrected Christ and he, with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote an account which allows people to meet the Resurrected Jesus to this day. Mark's witness, though his gospel, continues to help transform lives, and his account even helped inspire Matthew and Luke, so the glad tidings he brought were passed on to others through the works of the other Evangelists. Mark wasn't writing an historical document as we in our era understand history; he was writing the Good News of Jesus, Christ, the Son of God. He was writing an account of salvation, not an historically accurate, day-by-day reporting of the life and activities of Jesus. St. Mark was telling the people of his time and in the times to come the story of how God intervened in history, how the Creator of the universe decided to come among the creation and bring it hope, renewal, and the defeat of death. Mark wanted to tell the story of how God became a human being, lived and laughed and loved and suffered among us, ultimately suffering death as a common criminal, yet rose again and changed the lives of those who believed.

Here is an account of the martyrdom of St. Mark, adapted from the Menology of St. Dimitri of Rostov:
"The approaching celebration of Pascha coincided that year with the festival of the pagan god Serapis, drawing scores of idol-worshippers to the city. As St. Mark was celebrating the divine service, a mob of pagans broke into the church and seized their prey. The holy Apostle was bound with a rope and dragged through the streets of the city, as his captors shouted mockingly, 'We're taking the ox to the stall!' He was thrown into prison, his body lacerated by the sharp stones over which he had been mercilessly dragged. That night an angel strengthened him for his final trial. 'Slave of God, Mark, thy name is written in heaven in the Book of Life. Thou hast been numbered among the holy apostles, and thou wilt be remembered unto ages of ages. Thou wilt rejoice with the powers on high, and on earth thy precious relics will be preserved.' Then the Lord Himself appeared and said to the Saint: 'Peace to thee, Mark, My evangelist.'

In the morning the Saint, a rope tied around his neck, was again led through the streets like some dumb beast, accompanied by a great crowd of jeering pagans. Utterly spent, the meek sufferer eventually collapsed and his soul, released from its earthly tabernacle, ascended to heaven. The pagans, not content with having killed the Saint, wanted to destroy also his lifeless body, but they had scarcely lit the bonfire that was to have consumed the body before there was a mammoth thunderclap; the earth shook and the sky loosed a storm of hailstones. The fire was quenched and the pagans dispersed, allowing the Christians to come and collect the sacred remains of their martyred bishop and father in the Faith. These they placed in a stone coffin in the place where they gathered for common prayer."

As Christians, we still meet the Resurrected Christ, and the Resurrected Christ still transforms lives. And we are able to do this because God the Holy Spirit inspired this young Jew, John Mark, to write down the remembrances of St. Peter. Because Mark wrote down the story of the women's visit to the tomb, because he wrote down the stories of Jesus healing the sick and casting out demons and proclaiming the Good News, people are open their lives being transformed by the Resurrected Christ. Mark was a martyr, a witness, and the gospel which bears his name has witnessed to people throughout the centuries.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Ever Expanding Blog Roll

It's time to add to the blog roll again.

Reverenda Lauren Gough is a priest presently serving in Upstate New York. She is also a really cool person. How do I know? I knew her when she was serving in the diocese of El Camino Real and I was a candidate in that diocese. She has two blogs, Stone of Witness and For A Season. I'm glad I found her again!

Judith has a blog interestingly titled I enjoy her blog and I think you will, too.

I was a church musician for the Roman Catholic Diocese of San José, Ca. for seven years, and my sister is still a church musician for the RCC. Actually, I'm still a church musician, but now I'm working for free, unless my stipend is for the music and not the priest stuff. I like church musicians! Edward Murray is the organist at Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles and he has a terrific blog at Simple Village Organist. My first Presbyterian blog!

Most of you are already familiar with the next bunch: toujoursdan at Culture Choc, the fabulous Cynthia of Reverend Mom, Mark of Enough About Me: An Autobiography and Paige of Wormwood’s Doxy.

Padre says, "Check ALL of them out!"

Monday, April 23, 2007

Is This Really Worth Getting Worked-up About?

I took a little visit to a certain "orthodox" so-called site today and noticed this article. It appears that some mainline churches in Tucson, Arizona, including an Episcopal church, are not using the term "Lord" in some of their liturgies. From the article: "Lord" has become a loaded word conveying hierarchical power over things, "which in what we have recorded in our sacred texts, is not who Jesus understood himself to be," St. Philip's associate rector Susan Anderson-Smith said.. As you can imagine, this really has the majority of the folks at a couple of the "orthodox" so-called sites quite worked-up.

According to the article, the folks at St. Phillip's-in-the-Hills have an alternative worship service in which they don't use gender-specific pronouns when talking about God. This is one service, not every service, yet the folks at Those Places are in danger of their heads exploding.

In my personal worship, I don't use gender-specific pronouns for God either. I am the father of two daughters, and one day I thought about how they must feel hearing all references to God as masculine. Since I don't believe God is male or female, I really had no problem no longer calling God "he". I refer to Jesus as he because when Jesus was in a human body, he was a man, no getting around that. But God the creator, no, not a male or female. There are times when it becomes a bit linguistically awkward not to use "he" or "him" when referring to God, so I use it. Plus, it's not such an issue here in Central America.

As far as the use of the term "Lord," well, I really don't have any problem with that. Yes, the term is hierarchical, but, honestly, when you hear God or Jesus referred to as Lord do you think of 16th century monarchs? Believe me, I don't! I was raised in the Assemblies of God church and was educated by Protestant Evangelicals, so for me "Lord" might as well be Jesus' nick name! I grew up around some "Lord, I just wanna..." type prayers (no one did the "Father God" thang, thank the Lord!) and I certainly avoid that, but I'm not going to get worked up about using the terms Lord or Señor when referring to God. If I thought my use of those terms were a stumbling block to some I might reconsider my stand, but right now, here in Panamá, it's a non-issue. The Communion is breaking apart, Calvinists and Neo-Donatists are trying to destroy Anglicanism, yet people are getting worked-up about this issue.

What are your experiences with these terms? What do you think of the article? Is this an issue in your parish?

Heheh. Heheh.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Beautiful Granddaughter Photos

Well, she's standing (with some help) and she has developed the Dresbach-Johnson "fake smile" which is so important for most human interaction. After closer examination of the photo, it appears that her parents have lopped off her right foot, probably in some disciplinary action. We did the same stuff with her mom. You gotta keep 'em in line!Meanwhile, back in Boston, her cousin takes it easy.
photo removed by request of mother
Hey, have you voted for this blog over at that bloggerschoice thang? My goal is to come in fourth, behind Madpriest, Fr. Jake, and Susan Russell, although I may have to settle for fifth behind that Kaeton woman. I can live with that. As long as I beat Standfirm and Titus 1:9. Oh yeah, and as long as we beat those papist bastids.

I See You!

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