Monday, August 31, 2009

Oh Happy Dance, Yeah!

This is why I love The Flight of the Conchords

Forget the opening part; it's the video that counts!

Yahoo! My internet connection stayed on long enough for me to post this! I've been trying all day.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Friday Red Mr. Peanut Bank and Gallito Mescalito Blogging

Red Mr. Peanut Bank Well, here we are, in the beautiful Trinity Alps!
Gallito Mescalito ¡Shriek!
Ida Hedgehog So, what is this place, anyway?
Miss Egyptian Hippo of Love We're at Padre and the Lovely Mona's Ancestral Manse. Isn't it beautiful?
Ida Hedgehog It looks like two trailers in the Odd Fellows Camp to me!
Gallito Mescalito ¡Shriek!

Red Mr. Peanut Bank Now we're in the forest. I liked standing on that deck (which Padre actually built!) but it's more comfortable here in the woods.
Ida Hedgehog Not too many bugs, ya know?
Miss Egyptian Hippo of Love But, lawdy, it is HOT! I remember when I used to soak in the Nile on days like this!
Red Mr. Peanut Bank There certainly are temperature swings here! It's 40ºF in the morning and then 110ºF in the afternoon.
Gallito Mescalito ¡¡Shriek!!
Ida Hedgehog It must be around 90-some-degrees right now!
Miss Egyptian Hippo of Love Lord, I know! I'm about ready to wilt. What can we do?

Moments Later

Miss Egyptian Hippo of Love Hey, you guys! Come on down here! It's nice and cool!

Temporary continuity problem
Gallito Mescalito ¡Shriek!
Red Mr. Peanut Bank Yes! Where are you?

Miss Egyptian Hippo of Love I'm down here at the creek! Come on down!

Señorita Chompita Wiggletail, the Cutest Dog in All the Americas™ Hey, Hippo! Ya want me to bring 'em down here? Huh? Huh? I'll git 'em!
Miss Egyptian Hippo of Love Well, thank you, sweet doggy! Please escort my silly friends down here.
Señorita Chompita Wiggletail, the Cutest Dog in All the Americas™ Yeah, yeah, yeah; I'll go get 'em!

Red Mr. Peanut Bank Ooh, it is nice and cool down here! The breeze blows off the water in the creek, which was snow only hours ago!

Gallito Mescalito ¡Shrieky-shriek-shriek-shriek!
Red Mr. Peanut Bank You're right; this rock is precarious, but at least we're cool!

Ida HedgehogOh yeah, baby! This is nice and cool! My quills are standing up!!!
Miss Egyptian Hippo of Love Well this water was snow just hours ago!

Red Mr. Peanut Bank Hey, I'm having some trouble keeping my balance here.
Miss Egyptian Hippo of Love Please! How bad can it be?
Ida Hedgehog Really, dude. It's not like there is any wind. It's a gentle breeze!
Gallito Mescalito ¡Shriek!

Red Mr. Peanut Bank AAAARRRRRGGGGGHHHH!!!!! THIS WATER IS COLD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Miss Egyptian Hippo of Love WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN THERE, BANK???

Señorita Chompita Wiggletail, the Cutest Dog in All the Americas™ HOLD ON. I'LL GET HIM!!!!

Moments Later
Red Mr. Peanut Bank Oh Chompita. ¡Muchisimas Gracias!

Red Mr. Peanut Bank Well, I'm okay.
Los otros YAY!!!
Miss Egyptian Hippo of Love Perhaps we should be a bit more cautious near the creek!


Actual photo of Padre Mickey this morning

I read this little article this morning during my web-surfing. It's a pleasant clarification by the Presiding Bishop of a sermon she gave at General Convention. She further discussed the "heresy of individualism" (something discussed over at Faddah Jake's a short while back.

I didn't find anything earth-shaking in her sermon or in this clarification; in fact, I agree with much of what she said. I was about to get on with my life when a little devil whispered in my ear: Hey Mickey, don't you think it would be fun to check out those Other Blogs to read their reaction to what the Presiding Bishop wrote? Oh, my sisters and brothers, I am a weak man, I am a man who used up almost every bit of will-power when I quit smoking many years ago, so I actually did go read at that blog named after a Bible verse. Then I realized that there was no need to actually read the comments posted there, as I already knew how the regulars there would respond. I mean, come on! They are so predictable!

Any post at That Place on a sermon by the Presiding Bishop will elicit, without failure, the following responses:
a. She didn't mention Jesus
b. She didn't mention Jesus enough
followed by:
c. Mrs. Schori is a heretic. If she was a Real Christian™ she wouldn't be suing Faithful Orthodox Christians™
which will elicit the ever-popular:
d. She is confused. AND if she really followed Jesus the ASA for Episcopal Churches would be the same as the ASA for the opening days for the Star Wars and Lord of the Rings franchises at your local movie theatre.
And so forth.

Let's have some fun! I'll post titles from some posts and you give the Approved Orthodite Comments in the comments section here!

1. RNS: Conservative Christians say U.S. health care system 'is working'
2. New Jersey bishops encourage Catholics to protect marriage against redefinition
3. The Rt. Rev. "Gene" Robinson Said Something Somewhere
4. Gay Muslim Pagan Communist Carrot-worshipping Woman Priest Discovered In The Diocese of Rio Grande

Be creative but accurate!

This post was visited by the Alter Guild

Friday Random Top Ten

What can I say? I love this picture!

Ya pushes "shuffle" and ya takes yer chances. . .

1. Been Listening All The Day Blind Joe Taggart
2. Black Eye Town Madder Rose
3. Sapphire Bullets Of Pure Love They Might Be Giants
4. Big Boy Sparks
5. Garden Of Earthly Delights XTC
6. Town Cryer Elvis Costello and the Attractions
7. Hang Down Your Head Tom Waits
8. Unhappy Outkast
9. The Air Near My Fingers White Stripes
10. Me Quedare Sufriendo Samy y Sandra Sandoval

I gotsta say that I'm very surprised that I could link to this many videos; I thought this list would be almost video free. The video for #1 is NOT Blind Joe Taggart, but it IS the song. Too bad you can't link to the Samy y Sandra song, but that's life.

Watchu listening to today?

Feast of St. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo

St. Augustine

This is the same post as last year. It is a version of my sermon for Augustine's Feast Day. Even though many people don't like St. Augustine, he is one of my favorite saints.

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 of the 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 more 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, investigating various philosophies and the different religious disciplines popular in that era; 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 this group: 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 own 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 (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 which 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 of 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 lusts. 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 the mother of his son, 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 to 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 he 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 reorganizing his works and writing comments, and his days dictating letters and fighting with Julian. He was depressed to see the decline of Rome and its 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 ten 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.

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.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Today at Parroquia San Cristóbal

Today was the Closura, or graduation for this year's International Cooking Class. The Neighborhood Training Classes of Parroquia San Cristóbal offer classes to help people learn employable skills. We offer classes in cooking, sewing, Belleza (hair-dressing and make-up and manicures and pedicures; that kinda stuff), and even classes in making furniture from PVC pipe or corrugated cardboard.

The Cooking Classes have been doing some amazing stuff since Reinaldo Beckford started teaching them. They serve a several-course meal to their family and friends as part of the graduation. I give the invocation, hand out certificados to the instructors, and then eat!

Here are photos of today's event.

In the kitchen beforehand

Family and Friends

The Graduates

Profesor Beckford listens as a student thanks him for on behalf of the class

Just before we started handing out certificados, the heavens opened up and it poured! People had to move over towards the wall.

Folks receiving certificados

Reinaldo would tell a story about each person before they received their certificate

Our first beverage

Course 1 A soup tasting of fish with just a touch of cayenne pepper

Course 2 A pasta salad with raw mushrooms, some vegetables, pepperoni, and a dressing of sour cream with dill

Course 3 Rice with red and yellow bell peppers, spinach, and dill. Bacalao (salted codfish) in a paprika sauce, and pollo moruno, chicken marinated in spices and then grilled. It was very spicy!

Our second beverage


I guess it's tossed salad for dinner tonight!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Rock 'n Roll Mickey

Yeah, thirty years ago I was skinny and had hair.

The Dream Lives On

¡Muchisimas Gracias, Teddy! We'll miss you!

Wednesday Miss Bebe, The World's Most Beautiful Granchild™ Blogging

She's wearing her new favorite dress!

Rest In Peace, Edward Kennedy

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 Edward, 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.

It's the end of an era. Let's hope that the Congress will do the right thing and pass a Health Care Plan of which Ted Kennedy would be proud.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sunday at Parroquia San Cristóbal

I wanted to post these photos yesterday, but the internet access at la rectoria has been intermittent at best. I'm posting these from my office at the church.

The Kindergarten class from Instituto Episcopal San Cristóbal visited with their families at the 10:30 am service. They sang a couple of songs before the offertory. One song involved many hand-motions and some jumping.

All the little ones came up for blessings during Communion.

Next Sunday we'll have another class and their families visit.

The Lovely Mona and I also went to lunch with our friend Michael Stanley, who's visiting from New York, and Tía Sue, a member of our extended family and a fellow missionary. Michael was in Panamá some seven years ago as a YASC (Young Adult Service Corp) missionary, teaching at Instituto Episcopal San Cristóbal. Folks were very happy to see him on Sunday.


Coffee Hour

This is Mabel Smith. She makes sandwiches every Sunday for Coffee Hour

Mr. Percival Thomas rehearses a Trio

Michael Stanley with Norma Blackman

Youth Choir

The Kindergarten Sings!


I See You!

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