Friday, August 31, 2007

Friday Red Mr. Peanut Bank and Gallito Mescalito Blogging

I guess the past two week's performances have given Miss Egyptian Hippo of Love the desire to start a band. Well, we can't dress everyone up like bishops ALL the time! Tonight we are auditioning guitarists.

Red Mr. Peanut Bank I am Red. Mr. Peanut Bank. I specialize in camp fire-style guitar work. I know everything Woody Guthrie ever played or thought of. I also play a mean version of "Pharaoh Pharaoh." off camera voice Can you play "Louie Louie"? Red Mr. Peanut Bank Er, no. But I do know "Seek Ye First." I have also lost several guitars to the camp fire. off camera voice Well, why don't you play something for us.
clears throat Mimimimi Found a peanut, found a peanut, found a peeeeenut just off camera voice NEXT!!

Mr. Chompy's Chewed-up Squeaky Kitty Toy tears it up with the guitar solo from "Another Girl, Another Planet" by The Only Ones
Mr. Chompy's Chewed-up Squeaky Kitty Toy Rock 'n Roll, ya pukes!!
off camera voice Very nice. Stay close to the phone!

Some fine, flaminco-style guitar work, and then ¡El Toro! sings One ton tomato. I gotta one ton tomato. One ton tomato, I need a one ton tomatooooo
off camera voice ¡¡Por Fa Vor!! ¿A quién le toca?

Bunrab, the Filthiest Toy in the House My music is my art. I am such a sensitive artist that I can barely stand the fact that you will be listening to me as I sing from the depths of my soul.
off camera voice Can ya play "Louie Louie?"
Bunrab, the Filthiest Toy in the House Er, no. But I do know "Pharaoh Pharaoh."
off camera voice Well, why don't you play something for us.
Bunrab, the Filthiest Toy in the House I've suffered for my art. Now it's your turn.
sings and strums I gave my love a cherry, it had no bones. I gave my love a chicken, it had no stones. I gave my love a off camera voice NEXT!!

La-la the Tellytubby La-la play gehtah!
off camera voice Run away! Run away!

After some really fine guitar playing, Diablito Sucio sings Que mis ojos se despierten con la luz de tu mirada yo, A Dios le pido. Que mi madre no se muera y que mi padre me recuerde. A Dios le pido.
off camera voice ¡Qué Bueno! Stay close to the phone, pal!

Gallito Mescalito in motion Shri off camera voice Who let the bird in? NEXT!

Guatemalan Apocalyptic Angel of Doom I don't normally play guitar; I'm more of a horn player. However, I need the work. I will be using a unique technique in which I will be blowing on the strings. It produces a very subtle sound.
off camera voice Can ya play "Louie Louie?"
Guatemalan Apocalyptic Angel of Doom Er, no. But I can play "La Bamba!"
off camera voice Well, don't call us, we'll call you.
Guatemalan Apocalyptic Angel of Doom Can I play something?
off camera voice No. NEXT!

Wooden Kuna Doll I can't play. Padre Mickey just posed me with the guitar because he was on a roll.
off camera voiceThank you for your honesty. You look good; maybe you should take lessons. Learn to play "Louie Louie."

Squeaky Gorilla Every body loves this! plays dow-dow-dow-dow dow dow! dow-dow-dow-dow dow dow! dow-dow-dow-dow dow dow! Dow. Dow. Dow.
sings Hey ho, let's go! Hey ho, let's go! Hey ho, let's go! Hey ho, let's go!
They're forming in a straight line dow dow!
They're going through a tight wind dow dow!
The kids are losing their minds: The Blitzkrieg Bop! bwah bwah bwah!
off camera voice Thank you. Very nice. Nothing like the classics!

So, the auditions are over. Who would YOU want as Miss Egyptian Hippo of Love's guitarist? Place your votes in the comments.

The Votes So Far:
The Cat is in the lead.

Mr. Chompy's Chewed-up Squeaky Kitty Toy: Three Four votes
Squeaky Gorilla: Two votes
¡El Toro!: One vote
Blurry Bear: One vote from some nutty Brasileño
Guatemalan Apocalyptic Angel of Doom: One vote from the foot of a volcano in Guatemala
Diablito Sucio: Possibly two votes, although it's hard to tell if one vote is only a suggestion and the second is wavering.

Friday Random Ten

1. Take The Pain Away Ramones
2. Arthur Badfinger
3. Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment Ramones
4. Rocomby Lord Cobra & Pana-Afro Sounds
5. Hunting Tigers Out In 'INDIAH' Bonzo Dog Do Dah Band
6. Sound And Vision David Bowie
7. Jimmy Mó Mhíle Stór The Chieftains with The Rainkins
8. How I Got Over Mahalia Jackson
9. Virginia Plain Roxy Music
10. Sisters Of Mercy Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris

Hmmm, double-Ramones action! "Arthur" is a truly bad song, just miserable! "Rocomby" is Panamanian Calypso and contains the lines: One night I took a chance, and I went to a Voodoo dance. I was looking for new romance, that's why I went to the Voodoo dance. How come no one writes like that anymore? Every thing else was great, too, especially that organ on "How I Got Over ." I loves me a Hammond B-3 with leslies spinnin'!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Miss Evie, Beautiful Granddaughter

Miss Bebé the Granchile is now walking, and here we see her walking down the streets of Berkeley with her mum, Tara.

I like this one a lot because I have seen photos of the Lovely Mona at this same age and the photos are very much alike. Well, actually, the Lovely Mona was dressed in a frilly dress with ten-thousand petticoats, which was the style at the time, but their faces are the same. So now we know that Evie will grow up to be beautiful (as if there was ever any doubt)!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Prayers for JohnieB

I just received word from our sister JaneR over at Acts of Hope that the mother of our on-line friend JohnieB died today.

Rest eternal grant unto her, o Lord, and may light perpetual shine upon her.

O God, who by the glorious resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ destroyed death, and brought life and immortality to light: Grant that your servant Pearl, being raised with him, may
know the strength of his presence, and rejoice in his eternal glory; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Most merciful God, whose wisdom is beyond our understanding: Deal graciously with our brother JohnieB in his grief. Surround him with your love, that the may not be overwhelmed by his loss, but have confidence in your goodness, and strength to meet the days to come; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

More on Augustine

I agree that my little biographical essay on Augustine does put him in a rather positive light, and that is because I originally wrote it as a sermon on his feast day and I usually try to be positive during sermons. Yeah, I have problems with the idea of "original sin". Augustine was a grumpy sort of guy, and I agree with Paul that the way he treated his mistress was terrible, and I agree with John that when reading Augustine one is often tempted to say "Lighten up!" But I think that compared to the Party of Donatus and the Pelagians, people who saw their opponents as less than pure and too weak to live sinless lives, our man Auggie was the life of the party.

The thing about Augustine which really intrigues me is that Manichee period because that experience really seemed to influence his spirituality and the fierceness he showed towards his opponents. To me the Manichees are similar to the Cults of the 1970's. Most of us of a Certain Age remember the Hare Krishnas (ISKON) and the Moonies. I, too, belonged to a Cult in those days; I was a member of Divine Light Mission, a psuedo-Hindu meditation group with the 16 year-old Perfect Master, Balyogeshwar, also known as Guru Maharaj-ji. Like the Manichees, there were different levels of involvement. Some folks received "Knowledge" (as the meditation techniques were called) and went on with their lives; others gave up everything and entered the Ashram, living a monastic lifestyle. Then there were the folks like me who were into the whole thing but weren't ready to live in the Ashram. I did give lots of money to the organization, I went to Satsang almost every night, and I always dropped everything to go see Guru at some festival somewhere. I couldn't keep a decent job as I would leave for a week or so when Guru called.

I really think that people like myself and Augustine are attracted to such groups (usually at the age of eighteen) because the group appears to be much more serious about the faith than everyone around them. As Peter Brown says in his biography of Augustine, the Manichees were the Bolsheviks of the fourth century. They were severely thin people; they were vegetarians and the only vegetables they would eat were those "with light" such as cucumbers and zucchini. I had abandoned Christianity because I grew up with Evangelicals and Pentecostals and was always shocked by the hypocrisy I saw around me, especially the religious-right attitude which was coming up. Guru Maharaj-ji and Divine Light Mission gave me the chance to get in on the ground-floor of a new religion (we were told that Maharaj-ji was the latest Incarnation of God; what a deal!) and we were going to do things right. But the thing that is really appealing is the same thing which makes Gnosticism attractive, the idea that this group knows the Truth and have that secret knowledge which the regular slobs aren't smart enough or holy enough or pure enough to even comprehend. That spiritual pride, in my opinion, also fuels Donatism, Pelagianism, Pentecostalism and Calvinism and I have also noticed such tendencies amongst the CANAnites and their ilk.

When Augustine realized that the Manichees were wrong, he dropped them, although the fact that he had been a Hearer would haunt him the rest of his life and would be used against him by his opponents. When I couldn't take the spiritual abuse of DLM any longer I dropped them cold. I decided that all spiritual paths were nonsense and was atheist for a while. I believe that Augustine was so fierce with the Manichees, Donatists and Pelagians because he was truly concerned that people would be led astray and he would do whatever it took to keep people from those who denied the power of the Holy Spirit. But it did make him a bit of a jerk. My jerkiness comes out when I hear New Age stuff; I really want to smack people when I hear that crap, and my Cult-Radar tends to go on full when I'm around Cursillo and Alpha types because their use of "buzzwords" and all remind me of DLM. I had a pleasant experience with Cursillo and have even participated as a Spiritual Director on weekends, but I gotta tell you, when someone says "De Colores" I shiver and have to hold my tongue. But I guess that's why I sympathise with Augustine. I admire him because I believe he was offended by the spiritual elitism of the heretical groups of his day, and he was sincere in his desire that everyone experience the truth of the Good News.

I think I'm rambling...

If you really want to read about a jerk, try reading about Cyril of Alexandria; a great Trinitarian Theologian but a terrible, mean, nasty person!

Feast of Augustine, Bishop of Hippo

Lord God, the light of the minds that know you, the life of the souls that love you, and the strength of the hearts that serve you: Help us, following the example of your servant Augustine of Hippo, so to know you that we may truly love you, and so to love you that we may fully serve you, whom to serve is perfect freedom; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

There was a time when I didn’t like Augustine; I just knew him as the “inventor of the concept of original sin” so I figured he was really just a harsh man, but the more I studied his writings the more I was convinced that he was a compassionate man and one of the greatest early theologians. I was able to make connections between events in his own life and in mine, and this helped change my original impression of the man.

Augustine was born in the year 354 in the city of Thagaste in North Africa. His father was a pagan but his mother, Monnica, was a devout Christian. Her tenacity regarding her faith resulted in the eventual baptism of her husband, although most folks doubted it would ever happen. Monnica made sure that Augustine had a Christian education although it didn’t seem to take during his youth and young adulthood. He attended the University at Carthage, where he studied rhetoric and considered becoming a lawyer, but he soon became most interested in literary pursuits. While in Carthage, he pretty much abandoned any Christian faith he may have had and he took a mistress, to whom he was faithful for fifteen years; they had a son together. He was a bit of a truth seeker, investigation various philosophies and the different religious disciplines popular in the era of Late Antiquity; he even cast horoscopes for a while. His experience with astrology led to his later denouncement of the so-called science. At the age of nineteen he joined the Manichees, a religion formed around the teachings of Mani, a third-century Persian who called himself “The Apostle of Jesus Christ.” Mani taught a dualistic form of Christianity which he claimed to have received in direct revelation from God. Peter Brown, in his biography of Augustine writes of them: The Manichees were a small sect with a sinister reputation. They were illegal; later, they would be savagely persecuted. They had the aura of a secret society: in foreign cities, Manichees would lodge only with members of their won sect; their leaders would travel around a network of ‘cells’ scattered all over the Roman world. Pagans regarded them with horror, orthodox Christians with fear and hatred. They were the Bolsheviks of the fourth century... Augustine was a hearer of the Manichees, a member of the outer circle. The Manichees required a celibate and vegetarian lifestyle, and Augustine wasn’t quite ready to give up his mistress yet (I don’t know how he felt about meat), but as a hearer he could subscribe to their teachings without giving up everything just yet. The Manichees lived harsh lives, and this is often attractive to young, spiritually inclined persons. I spent some three years in a cult, and I joined at the age of nineteen, and I was attracted to the group’s fierce spirituality, which seemed so much more authentic than the faith of my parents, and I think that Augustine was very much influenced in the same way. But there was a point when the teachings of Mani no longer appealed to him; he became disillusioned when he met one fo the great Manichean teachers, Faustus. Faustus was unable to answer Augustine’s questions about the faith. When Augustine finally finished his courses at University, he left the Manichees and Carthage, and moved to Rome to teach. But he was so disgusted with the actions and attitudes of his students, whom he considered dishonest, that he left Rome and moved to Milan to be the Teacher of Rhetoric for the city. Now during his time in Carthage his mother Monnica never stopped praying that he would become a Christian. While in Milan he fell under the influence of Ambrose, the Bishop of Milan. Ambrose was a great preacher and orator, and Augustine enjoyed listening to him. Over time, the teachings of Ambrose began to take hold in Augustine, and one day, in a garden in Milan, Augustine, wrestling with the idea of giving up his present life and having that change of mind and heart which is repentance, sat under a fig tree, crying and wondering what to do. He heard the voice of a child from a nearby house chanting: “Pick up and read; pick up and read.” He picked up his friend’s Bible, opened it at random and read Romans 13:13-14: Let us live honorably in the day, not in riots and drunken parties, not in eroticism and indecencies, not in strife and rivalry, but put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh in its lists. Augustine wrote about this event: I neither wished nor needed to read further. At once, with the last words of this sentence, it was as if a light of relief from all anxiety flooded into my heart. All the shadows of doubt were dispelled. And at that moment Augustine’s life changed. He was later baptized, and brought much joy to his mother’s heart. But he had many difficult decisions to make regarding his mistress, his teaching position, and his life in general. He left his position as Teacher of Rhetoric in Milan, and began to write essays on Christianity and philosophy and became a bit of a star in Christian circles.

Upon the death of his mother, he returned to Thagaste to take over the family estate. He and some friends decided to live lives of monastic discipline and start a monastery. Augustine went to the city of Hippo to see a friend and invite him to become part of their monastic community. The friend and Augustine attended services at the bishop's church; the bishop was preparing ot retire and was speaking of the needs of the Church. The people in the church saw Augustine and grabbed him and wanted to make him Bishop, very much like what happened to Ambrose in Milan so many years before. The bishop, Valerius, managed to get Augustine to agree to become a priest in Hippo, and many witnesses thought that when Augustine burst into tears, he was sad because eh wanted to be a bishop rather than a priest, but the truth was that Augustine didn’t want ordained ministry of any kind. He agreed to be a priest because he believed that this was God’s will, but it was not part of his desire.

There were two churches in North Africa in those days: the Catholic Church (not Roman Catholic) and the Party of Donatus, or the Donatists. During the Diocletian persecution the clergy were given a decision of whether to turn over the scriptures to the police and recant their faith or be executed. Some clergy gave up the scriptures and denounced their faith, but repented at the end of the persecution and returned to their churches. The Donatists believed that the sacraments administered by such clergy were not valid, since they had turned their backs on Christ and his Church. The Catholic church had reaccepted such clergy upon their repentance, but the Donatists refused them and fought with the Catholics. In many cities (much like today but unheard of in those days) there were two bishops: a Catholic bishop and a Donatist bishop, and the churches would fight and take over each other’s buildings, turning over the altars and trashing the place. Augustine preached against the Donatists, and when he became Bishop of Hippo he fought against them fiercely. Augustine taught that the bread and wine were a sacrament, not because of the worthiness of the priest, but because of an act of grace by God. The Donatists were harsh and unforgiving, but Augustine taught that God forgives all who repent, so the clergy who repented were still valid priests. Augustine became known as a great fighter of heresy. He waged war against the Donatists, the Manichees, and the Pelagians, because he desired that “no one be led astray.” Augustine wrote many volumes against the Donatist, the Manichees, and the Pelagians, and he also wrote many volumes on the scriptures and the Christian life. We could go on and on talking about his writings and many have, but we’ll move on to his final days. Augustine was a man who loved his books and his library. He spent the last three years of his life living in his library, editing and rewriting and organizing his papers. This library contained two-hundred thirty-two little books which made up ninety-three of his own works, not to mention many letters and copies of his sermons, which had been taken down by the stenographers of his admirers. He set about rezeroing his many works and produced Retractiones, a catalogue of titles, arranged in chronological order, with a brief note of the content of the work, along with Augustine’s comments. May of the remarks are self-criticisms, but quite often they were also attempts to explain himself. At the same time that he was organizing this library, he was also involved in a debate by correspondence with Bishop Julian of Eclanum, a defender of Pelagius. Augustine would spend his nights rezeroing his works and writing comments, and his days dictating letters and fighting with Julian. He was sad to see the decline of Rome and tis civilization and the military attacks of the Vandals which threatened Roman Africa. The Vandals were Christians, but Arian Christians, another group of heretics destroying the world in which Augustine lived.

In August of the year 430, Augustine came down with a fever. He knew he would die, and he wanted to die alone. His first biographer, Possidius, described Augustine’s attitude: He had told his followers that even praiseworthy Christians and bishops, though baptized, should still not leave this life without having performed due and exacting penance. This is what he did with his own last illness: for he had ordered the four psalms of David that deal with penance to be copied out. From his sickbed he could see these sheets of paper every day, hanging on his walls, and would read them, crying constantly and deeply. And, lest his attention be distracted from this in any way, almost tend days before his death, he asked us that none should come in to see him, except at those hours when the doctors would come to examine him or his meals were brought. This was duly observed: and so he had all that stretch of time to pray...

Augustine died and was buried on August 28, 430. A year later Hippo was evacuated and partially burnt, but his library escaped the destruction, and that is why we know so much about him today. His experience in rhetoric and logic, and his studies as a Neo-Platonist, along with his powerful intellect, made him a most worthy adversary of Greek philosophy, and his many written works are still studied by theologians today. His two books The Confessions and The City of God are considered classics. Yet I think it his understanding of God’s love and grace, and his desire that no one be led astray that made Augustine the mighty warrior for Christ that he was. The faith which Augustine received and defended was strengthened by his gifts, and we, the Body of Christ, are very much blessed because of his great faith. The Manichees, the Donatists, and the Pelagians all believed that humans had the power to live perfect lives or that humans could stop the work of the Holy Spirit, but Augustine taught us that “man is but a little piece of God’s creation” and that God so loved this piece of creation that God would forgive us all our sins. Augustine believed strongly in God’s grace and love. May we, too, experience God’s love and grace.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Today At Parroquia San Cristóbal

Unless it's a high feast, we have two services every Sunday at Parroquia San Cristóbal: A Choral Eucharist in English at 7:30 a.m. and La Misa en Español a las 10:30 a.m. The Lovely Mona usually attends la Misa a las 10:30, but arrives early enough to visit the folks from the 7:30 service. This morning she took some nice photos of the Coffee Hour Crowd.

This morning the Fourth Grade students of Instituto Episcopal San Cristóbal and their parents worshipped with us at 10:30 a.m. The children always do a presentation just before the Offertory. This morning they said the 23rd Psalm and sang a song. As usual, Padre Cáceres and I blessed the children during Communion.

Here are photos of today's service:

Coffee Hour Conversation

Mrs. Milray Barrow

Mr. Hurdle and Mrs. Kelly (Mrs. Kelly was our neighbor when we lived in the former Canal Zone town of Paraíso). Mr. Hurdle is 90 some years old and wears an earring, which makes him cooler than anyone on the planet, IMHO!

Profesora Joyce Green, Directora of Colegio Episcopal de Panamá and Mrs. Rachel Weeks, President of the Altar Guild

Randall is a man who lives in the neighborhood. He has been washing my car every Sunday morning for about five years now. It's the first regular income he's had in years. I also pay for most of his medical expenses from my discretionary fund. Sometimes he comes asking for money a bit too often and I say, "Randall, I know you call me Padre but I'm not your Daddy." Then I give him the money anyway. (Special Version for our new Dance Party Buddy Jim The Commentor from Fort Worth, Texas: Padre oppresses the Black Man by forcing him to wash his car in the rain, due to his White Supremist Tendencies)

El Coro de Jovenes, the choir for the 10:30 service

Congregation reading the psalm

Grade Four reciting Salmo 23

An ocean of children!


Saturday, August 25, 2007

¡Feliz Cumpliaños, Leonardo!

That's right! Today is the birthday of the Dance Party Artist in Residence, the one, the only, Leonardo Ricardo. The man who won't back down when commenting at Thinking Anglicans and Fr. Jake Stops The World. The man of a thousand names when commenting here. The guy we love and are proud to call friend and brother.
Happy Birthday, Leonardo. May God continue to bless you in every way!!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Friday Red Mr. Peanut Bank and Gallito Mescalito Blogging

I apologise for getting this up late, but I had trouble coming up with an idea (I'm sure THAT'S obvious) and then, once inspired (or what passes for inspiration around here) Señorita Chompita Wiggletail saw the camera come out and she hid Mr. Chompita's Chewed-up Squeaky Kitty Toy!! But, the show must go on!

Well, the big news in the World Wide Anglican Communion gossip mills Blogs was all about letters. That's right, Episcopal Correspondence! Someone found a letter on a public computer at the meeting place of the Windsor Bishops and sent it to Faddah Mark Harris. A "Short Version" of the letter, discovered by the shadows of Red Mr. Peanut Bank and Gallito Mescalito's comb, is illustrated below. (Gallito Mescalito is VERY upset to hear the rumour that the bishops were sacrificing chickens to Vishnu at Camp Allen).


Then there was the controversy regarding A Most Agonizing Journey, a letter from Archbishop Peter Akinola to the Synods of the Church of Nigeria, which should be subtitled As Told To the Rt. Rev. Marty Minns.
This kinda stuff can make us sad, it can make us despair for reconciliation, and it can make us angry, but here at Padre Mickey's Dance Party, it makes us want to sing!!!
The Letter With Apologies to the Box Tops

Gimme a ticket for an aeroplane,
Ain't got time to take a fast train.
Goin' to Nigeria, or maybe it's Virginia,
'Cause some bishop just a-wrote me a letter.

I don't care how much money I gotta spend,
Gots to get away from them gays again
Goin' to Nigeria, or maybe it's Virginia,
'Cause some bishop just a-wrote me a letter.

Well, he wrote me a letter
Said I couldn't live with dem heretics no mo'.
Listen mister can't you see I got to get back
To dem Donatists once a-mo'--anyway...

Gimme a ticket for an aeroplane,
Ain't got time to take a fast train.
Goin' to Nigeria, or maybe it's Virginia,
'Cause some bishop just a-wrote me a letter.

Well, he wrote me a letter
Said I couldn't depend on the Creeds no mo'.
Instead it's got ta be an unequivocal acceptance
and commitment to letters a through h, ohhh--anyway

a. The Authority and Supremacy of Scripture.
b. The Doctrine of the Trinity
c. The person, work and resurrection of Jesus the Christ
d. The acknowledgement of Jesus as Divine and the One and only means of salvation
e. The Biblical teaching on sin, forgiveness, reconciliation, and transformation by the Holy Spirit through Christ.
f. The sanctity of marriage.
g. Teaching about morality that is rooted and grounded in the Biblical Revelation.
h. Apostolic Ministry
From Now On!!!! YEAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!

Gimme a ticket for an aeroplane,
Ain't got time to take a fast train.
Goin' to Nigeria, or maybe it's Virginia,
'Cause some bishop just a-wrote me a letter.
Yeah, some bishop just a-wrote me a letter
Yeah, some bishop just a-wrote me a letter

Judge won’t block Noriega’s extradition to France

US Federal District Judge William M. Hoeveler has held General Manuel Antonio Noriega’s prisoner of war status does not shield him from extradition to a third country to face criminal charges. The decision allows an effort to extradite Noriega to France to face money laundering charges to proceed.
Hoeveler made his ruling on a narrow ground that he has no jurisdiction to grant a habeas corpus motion in Noriega’s circumstances. In dictum --- a speculative legal argument not necessary to the decision of the case --- he used scholarly commentaries on the Fourth Geneva Convention and applied them by analogy to the Third Geneva Convention, the latter which rules the treatment of prisoners of war, to conclude that “competing claims for Defendant’s extradition are matters for the Secretary of State to resolve.”

From Eric Jackson at the Panama News

I guess he won't be coming back to Panama to sit on a rocking chair with his grandchild just yet.

Friday Random Ten

1. I've Got Levitation (Live) The 13th Floor Elevators
2. Pretty Woman (From Kal Ho Naa Ho) Shankar Mahadevan/Ravi "Rags" Khote
3. Sunlight Of No Light The Gospel At Colonus
4. Beata Viscera (Perotin) The Hilliard Ensemble
5. Reptilia The Strokes
6. ¿Cuando Los Angeles Lloran? Maná 
7. My Life Is In Your Hands Kirk Franklin and God's Property
8. When A Man's In Love The Chieftains
9. Cincinatti Fatback Roogalator
10. A Big Surprise Sparks

Once again, we're all over the place. That first number is really something. The Lovely Mona found me this obscure live recording of The 13th Floor Elevators which I really love. The jug player was still in the band, and he really made the sound. Roogalator is one of those obscure bands known to the likes of Matty Boy, the Madpriest, and myself. The Bollywood version of Pretty Woman is one of our favorites, and the movie Kal Ho Naa Ho has a great story of Sikhs and Christians in one family. Padre says, "Check it out!"

¡Feliz Cumpliaños, Tía Sue!

Tía Sue prefers kitties, but this lil' mousie wishes her happy birfdei anywei

It's Tía Sue's birthday today. Being a gentleman I won't comment on her age (actually I have no idea what it is anyway), but join with the entire Dance Party to wish her a Happy Birthday.

Why not go to her blog and leave your birthday greetings?

Feast of St. Bartholomew, Apostle and Martyr

Almighty and everlasting God, who gave to your apostle Bartholomew grace truly to believe and to preach your Word: Grant that your Church may love what he believed and preach what he taught; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Today is the Feast of St. Bartholomew, Apostle. Of course, we don't know much about Bartholomew; actually, we really don't know anything. He is listed in the synoptics, but not the gospel attributed to John, while Nathaniel is mentioned in John's list but not in the lists in the synoptics, so some scholars think they may be the same person. Bartholomew name or person does not appear in The Acts of the Apostles. According to Eusebius' History of the Church, when Pantaenus was doing missionary work in India he was shown a copy of Matthew's Gospel in Hebrew which tradition stated was a gift from the Apostle Bartholomew. There are traditions which teach that Bartholomew preached in Mesopotamia, Persia, Egypt, Armenia, Lycoania, and Phrygia.

Jerome and Bede both mention a Gospel of St. Bartholomew, but no copies exist in our day.

There is a tradition that Bartholomew was martyred in Armenia, flayed alive and crucified upside down for having converted Polymius, King of Armenia. However, according to the text The Martyrdom of St. Bartholomew, he was beaten with rods and then beheaded.

The Martrydom of St. Bartholomew really doesn't concentrate on the martyrdom, but tells a fantastic story of Bartholomew's battle with the demons behind the idols in "India." The definition of "India" in those days was a bit more broad than that of our day: it bordered on Ethiopia, Media, and the actual subcontinent of India. Bartholomew was in "India" (probably Armenia) where there was an idol to the god Astaruth. People would bring their sick to the Temple of Astaruth and sacrifice to the idol, and the sick person would appear to be healed physically, but would actually become "more diseased in soul." When our man Bart showed up in town, Astaruth stopped healing folks. People didn't know what to do, but they went to another town to a Temple to the god Becher, and the priests asked Becher what was going on. Becher said, and I quote: "From the day and hour that the true God, who dwells in the heavens, sent his apostle Bartholomew into the regions here, your god Astaruth is held fast by chains of fire, and can no longer either speak or breathe." The priests asked, "Who is Bartholomew?" and Becher responded, "He is the friend of the Almighty God, and has just come into these parts, that he may take away all the worship of the idols in the name of his God." The priests said, "Really? What's he look like? We need to find this guy!" Becher gave the following description: "He has black hair, a shaggy head, a fair skin, large eyes, beautiful nostrils, his ears hidden by the hair of his head, with a yellow beard, a few grey hairs, of middle height, and neither tall nor stunted, but middling, clothed with a white undercloak bordered with purple, and upon his shoulders a very white cloak; and his clothes have been worn twenty-six years, but neither are they dirty, nor have they waxed old. Seven times a day he bends the knee to the Lord, and seven times a night does he pray to God. His voice is like the sound of a strong trumpet; there go along with him angels of God, who allow him neither to be weary, nor to hunger, nor to thirst; his face, and his soul, and his heart are always glad and rejoicing; he foresees everything, he knows and speaks every tongue of every nation. And behold now, as soon as you ask me, and I answer you about him, behold, he knows; for the angels of the Lord tell him; and if you wish to seek him, if he is willing he will appear to you; but if he shall not be willing, you will not be able to find him. I entreat you, therefore, if you shall find him, entreat him not to come here, lest his angels do to me as they have done to my brother Astaruth." After that, Becher held his peace.

The priests headed into the streets to find Bartholomew, looking into the faces of each person going by to see if they matched Becher's description (how many guys with black, shaggy hair and a blonde beard could there be in that town?). They found him when a person possessed by a demon shouted out, "Apostle of the Lord, Bartholomew, your prayers are burning me up!" Our man Bart said, "Hold your peace and come out of him!" and the man, who had been possessed for many years, was freed. Polymius, the king of Armenia, just happened to be standing across the street when this all happened, and, having a daughter possessed by a demon, he wanted Bart's help. His daughter was chained in a dungeon, because she was tearing the skin off her limbs and biting everyone who came near. Bart came and cast out her demon, and she was whole. The king was so happy that he loaded camels with gold and silver and precious stones and pearls and clothing for Bartholomew (who left the palace immediately after the exorcism), but they couldn't find Bart and brought everything back to the palace. Early the next morning, as the sun was rising, Bartholomew appeared in the king's bedchamber and said, "Why did you look for me all day with all that gold and stuff? Those gifts are appropriate for those who seek earthly things, but the only thing that interests me is the gospel." He then preached the Good News to the king. He also explained to the king what was going on in Astaruth's temple, and that an angel of the Lord Jesus Christ was keeping the demon Astaruth in fiery chains. The king and Bart agreed to go to the temple that morning while the priests were sacrificing to see Bartholomew take care of Astaruth. When they arrived at the temple, the priests were sacrificing, when all of the sudden a voice came out of the idol, screaming: "Refrain, you wretched ones, from sacrificing to me, lest ye suffer worse for my sake; because I am bound in fiery chains, and kept in subjection by an angel of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, whom the Jews crucified: for, being afraid of him, they condemned him to death. And he put to death Death himself, our king, and he bound our prince in chains of fire; and on the third day, having conquered death and the devil, rose in glory, and gave the sign of the cross to his apostles, and sent them out into the four quarters of the world; and one of them is here just now, who has bound me, and keeps me in subjection. I implore you, therefore, supplicate him on my account, that he may set me free to go into other habitations." Bartholomew then said to the demon, "Confess, unclean demon, who is it that has injured all those that are lying here from heavy diseases?" The demon said, "The devil, our ruler, he who is bound, he sends us against men, that, having first injured their bodies, we may thus also make an assault upon their souls when they sacrifice to us. For then we have complete power over them, when they believe in us and sacrifice to us. And when, on account of the mischief done to them, we retire, we appear curing them, and are worshipped by them as gods; but in truth we are demons, and the servants of him who was crucified, the Son of the virgin, have bound us. For from that day on which the Apostle Bartholomew came I am punished, kept bound in chains of fire. And for this reason I speak, because he has commanded me. At the same time, I dare not utter more when the apostle is present, neither I nor our rulers." Bart said to him, "Why don't you save all who come to you?" and the demon answered, "When we injure their bodies, unless we first injure their souls, we do not let their bodies go." Bart asked, "How do you injure their souls?" and the demon answered, "When they believe that we are gods, and sacrifice to us, God withdraws from those who sacrifice, and we do not take away the sufferings of their bodies, but retire into their souls." Bartholomew then turned to everyone in the temple and said, "Behold, the god whom you thought to cure you, does the more mischief to your souls and bodies. Hear even now your Maker who dwells in the heavens, and do not believe in lifeless stones and stocks. And if you wish that I should pray for you, and that all these may receive health, take down this idol, and break it to pieces; and when you have done this, I will sanctify this temple in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; and having baptized all of you who are in it in the baptism of the Lord, and sanctified you, I will save all." The king gave orders to the people and they all returned to the temple with ropes and crowbars but were unable to pull the idol down. Then our man Bart had them take the ropes off the idol. Facing the idol, he said, "In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, come out of this idol, and go into a desert place, where neither winged creature utters a cry, nor voice of man has ever been heard." At that, the idol rose off of its foundations and crashed to the ground, breaking into little pieces. At the same hour all the idols in the temples bell to the ground and were broken into pieces. And all witnessing this miracle cried out: "He alone is God Almighty, whom Bartholomew the apostle proclaims!!" Then Bartholomew raised his hands to heaven and prayed a long prayer which I will not quote here, but rest assured that it was full of good gospel imagery. All responded "Amen!!" and suddenly there appeared an angel of the Lord, shining brighter that the sun, winged, and four other angels holding up the four corners of the temple. And with his finger the angel sealed the temple and the people and said, "Thus says the Lord who has sent me, As you have all been purified from all your infirmity, so also this temple shall be purified from all uncleanness, and from the demons dwelling in it, whom the apostle of God has ordered to go into a desert place; for so has God commanded me, that I may manifest Him to you. And when you behold Him, fear nothing; but when I make the sign of the cross, so also do ye with your finger seal your faces, and these evil things will flee from you." He then showed them the demon and cast him away. Then the angels disappeared. The king, the queen, their two sons and all the people were all baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and King Polymius even laid aside his diadem to follow Bartholomew and the way of Christ.

Polymius' elder brother was Astreges, king of the Greeks, and when he learned what had happened to the temples, and that all the people had converted AND that Polymius had put aside his diadem, well, he was less than pleased and sent an army to find Bartholomew and bring him in chains to his presence. When Bartholomew was brought to the court, the following conversation took place: The king says to him: "Are you he who has perverted my brother from the gods?" To whom the apostle answered: "I have not perverted him, but have converted him to God." The king says to him: "Are you he who caused our gods to be broken in pieces?" The apostle says to him: "I gave power to the demons who were in them, and they broke in pieces the dumb and senseless idols, that all men might believe in God Almighty, who dwells in the heavens." The king says to him: "As you have made my brother deny his gods, and believe in your God, so I also will make you reject your God and believe in my gods." The apostle says to him: "If I have bound and kept in subjection the god which your brother worshipped, and at my order the idols were broken in pieces, if you also are able to do the same to my God, you can persuade me also to sacrifice to your gods; but if you can do nothing to my God, I will break all your gods in pieces; but believe in my God." The king was then informed that his god, Baldad, and all the other idols, had fallen down and broken into pieces. Hearing this news, the king rent his garment, and then ordered Bartholomew to be scourged and beheaded. Twelve thousand people who had been converted by Bartholomew's witness came and took his body and laid it in the royal tomb of the king of Armenia. When Astreges heard of this, he ordered that the remains be thrown into the sea, but the faithful moved his remains to the island of Liparis.

Here is how the account ends: And it came to pass on the thirtieth day after the apostle was carried away, that the king Astreges was overpowered by a demon and miserably strangled; and all the priests were strangled by demons, and perished on account of their rising against the apostle, and thus died by an evil fate.

And there was great fear and trembling, and all came to the Lord, and were baptized by the presbyters who had been ordained by the holy apostle Bartholomew. And according to the commandment of the apostle, all the clergy of the people made King Polymius bishop; and in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ he received the grace of healing, and began to do signs. And he remained in the bishopric twenty years; and having prospered in all things, and governed the church well, and guided it in right opinions, he fell asleep in peace, and went to the Lord: to whom be glory and strength for ever and ever. Amen.

A King AND a Bishop! I wonder if the head of the Global South Steering Committee has considered THAT option?

UPDATE: Grandmère Mimi has a wonderful picture of our man Bart gazing fondly at a flaying knife. You will notice that the man in that picture pretty much matches the description of Big Barty the Apostle given by the idol Becher, except that I can't tell if his clothes have been worn for twenty-six years. That's right, Grandmére Mimi's blog features a picture which matches a description given by a demon. Just sayin'. Wait a minute... the guy in the icon up on the right matches the description, too! D'oh!

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Last Week's Adventure IV

Man, I've got some nasty virus with one heck of a sore throat and aching muscles and a fever, so I'm not up to too much blogging. If I die, the Lovely Mona promises to Maintain the High Standards Which Have Been Established at Padre Mickey's Dance Party, and to avenge my death.

Soooo, last Thursday we rose early in the morning to catch the water taxi back to Almirante, where Eduardo was waiting with the Busito. Padre Nelson joined the merry busito troop and we headed back to Panama City. We made great time and got home just before 5:00 p.m., even with stoping at San Felix to drop stuff off to Revda. Carmen's nephew and our stop in Santiago de Veraguas for lunch. Of course, Mona and I had the separate adventure going home with The Car That Would Not Run. It's fixed now, having happily emptied our bank account. Here in Panamá we have this interesting thing called "13th month" or decimo (I always say, "¡Gracias, Omar!" And, I know that decimo does not translate as 13th month, but that's what we call it). If one works for a year, one gets an extra month's pay during the year; a third in April, a third in August, and a third in December. So, I just received the decimo but el carro decided it was ITS money. Reminds me of the car we had in Berkeley; we had this 1988 Mercury Sable station wagon which had some kinda computerized thang in it which, it turned out, was connected to our Wells Fargo account. It always knew when we had some extra money so it would break down and the cost was almost always equal to the extra cash we had received. I really wanted to park that car in the middle of the street and light it on fire, but you can't do that kinda stuff that close to the Oakland Hills. Actually, I've wanted to do that to almost every car I've owned; I HATE CARS!!! But I digress.....

So here are some photos from the ride home.

On the water taxi back to Almirante

Bocas Bay from the road

A Ngöbe Bugle house near the bay

Casa Indigena

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Last Week's Adventure III

Monday was spent traveling, Tuesday we spent in Workshops, but Wednesday we took some time off for relaxation! We started our day with Morning Prayer at St. Mary's, had breakfast, then caught a bus to Bocas del Drago, a beach on the other side of the island. We passed the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute's station in Bocas and several plantations. We also had to stop and shoo five goats out of the middle of the road, but I didn't grab a photo of that. Then the road seemed to have more potholes than paved surface. It was an interesting drive, with some tropical forest on one side of the road and the beach on the other. When we arrived at our destination, we grabbed a few tables and ordered coffee and sodas. Some folks went in the water, some folks grabbed a hamaca, and some of us sat at the table and talked. I also did some reading (The End of Ancient Christianity R.A. Markus, if you must know). Señora Paola, who cooked for us all week, provided us with snacks; we had to be discreet sitting at the edge of the restaurant, but we had plenty pattie and ham and cheese sammiches, too. We headed back to Bocas del Toro around 1:00 p.m. to rest up for the evening's activities.

Here are photos

Bishop Murray at Bocas del Drago

The Restaurant

The beach from the right and the left

Reyito en un hamaca

Padre José en un hamaca

Tropical Forest (taken in motion on the bus)

That evening we participated in the Patronal Festival at Iglesia Santa María. Padre Victor, a Dominican and the pastor of the local RCC, participated and vested with the clergy of the diocese. He worked with Bishop Murray back when Padre Murray was priest-in-charge of St. Mary's and St. George's. Of course, the Bishop preached and celebrated. We also had a wonderful repast after the service with much fellowship. I have spent a lot of time in Bocas, and it is always great to see everybody once again.
Here are photos

Padres Moreno y Austin before the service.

In the sacristy

The organist waits

The church is almost full a good half hour before the service

Bishop Murray preaching

The congregation of Iglesia Santa María with Bishop Murray and Padre Kenny Ryan-King.

This is my friend Shirley and her son and granddaughter. They are members of St. Michael the Arch Angel Church in Guabito.

Padre Victor, Obispo Murray, y Padre Kenny

These little girls were quite well-behaved during the service

I decided they needed to let loose

I See You!

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