Friday, October 31, 2008

my neighbours' business, but

I couldn't resist this!!!

cookery and other things

Broke away from the office yesterday mid-afternoon to collect Honorary Grandson from where the bus drops him off and convey him to his DRUM LESSON. (No, the drums are not part of the entourage, DG!) We were enjoying a healthful snack at the Conservatory and awaiting his 4:30 lesson-time when his teacher emerged from the bowels of the institution to inform us the 4 p.m. student wasn't coming, would Z like the earlier lesson? "YES," said Z's gramma...that half-hour made considerable difference in the smoothness of the evening schedule.

Drove the boy home, swung around the block and collected Daughter Unit and SIL for a quick supper, dropped SIL back at their house to get ready for choir practice, and Herself and I were off to Major Downtown Hostelry for an alumni association event (mine).

A couple of dozen alumni of Snotty Eastern Post-Secondary Hub were assembled, and there were elegant things to eat and potable things to drink, and then we had a fine presentation by Noted Alumna and Professional Cook, and then the inevitable opportunity to buy the cookbook and have it autographed, and so home.

This morning I am trying to make all reasonably tidy in the desk dep't. and perhaps advance one or two balky projects, and then head for home again midday, collecting pumpkin and candy en route, and some major housecleaning, and trick-or-treaters this evening, "and so to bed," as they say.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

somethings to think about

A tip of the hat to friend Steve who shared the link to a recent interview with Rowan Williams about Dostoevsky, and other things.

Our Wonder Secketry is away today and I am all hands plus the ship's cat...Thursday must be the peak day of the week for phone calls! "How are our refugee family?" "What do we need to bring to the baptismal rehearsal?" "What's the date for our cabaret and silent auction?" "Can our group rehearse downstairs this Sunday afternoon?" "Can the Youth Co-op hold their Christmas Dinner Collective Kitchen on December 12?" "Where's the big display board for our Marriage Preparation Course?" "How do I do the Prayers of the People at a baptism, where do I put the prayers-for-the-church and the prayers-for-the-sick?" "Will somebody be there in 20 minutes if I come to put up posters for my recital?"

"Somebody" has been here for a long sequence of 20 minuteses, and is now going to go and find LUNCH.

And how 'bout them Phillies. Not my first choice favourites, but hey! their socks are the right colour at least.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wednesday, all day long

The Rambler has been stalking the corridors of power this morning...rather like Hamlet's father's ghost (or possibly Anne Boleyn)...

For 30 years in Prairie Metropolis, meetings of the City Council have begun with a prayer offered by a representative of one or another "faith group." In these "religion is a private matter" times, this is fairly remarkable; more remarkable is the comfortable assumption that the prayer-leaders will speak from their own conviction, understanding, tradition, while abstaining from gratuitous offence to others: Christians pray as Christians, Jews as Jews, Muslims as Muslims, and so on.

So this morning, under the combined guidance of the City Chaplain, and the Board of the Interfaith Centre for Education and Action, ten of us were assembled to open the City Council meeting with a ten-fold prayer.

Discipline was strict (but imperfectly obeyed -- hey, these are "hooman beans" after all): we were NOT to ad lib and NOT to identify ourselves and NOT to talk ABOUT our faith, just step up to the mike, pray, step out of the way.

As Prez of the City and District Council of Churches, the Rambler got to be "The Official Christian."

And this (thank goodness for the Book of Common Prayer, 1962) is what I said:

O Almighty and most merciful God, in your bountiful goodness, protect and defend us, we beseech you, from all things that may hurt us; so that we, being ready both in body and soul, may cheerfully accomplish those things that you would have us do, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

All the prayers -- Eckankar, Hindu, Baha'i, Jewish, Sikh, Unitarian, Muslim, Jain, and Zoroastrian, were lovely, and thoughtful, and concise. And Hizzonner the Mayor, having given us a lovely nibbly breakfast buffet beforehand, thanked us nicely; and all the alderpersons looked gratified and as uplifted as their natures would allow.

A pleasant way to start a day!

Monday, October 27, 2008

ha! who knew.

Your result for Are You a Jackie or a Marilyn? Or Someone Else? Mad Men-era Female Icon Quiz...

You Are a Jackie!


You are a Jackie. "I do everything the right way."

Jackies are realistic, conscientious, and principled. They strive to live up to their high ideals.

How to Get Along with Me

* Take your share of the responsibility so I don't end up with all the work.

* Acknowledge my achievements.

* I'm hard on myself. Reassure me that I'm fine the way I am.

* Tell me that you value my advice.

* Be fair and considerate, as I am.

* Apologize if you have been unthoughtful. It will help me to forgive.

* Gently encourage me to lighten up and to laugh at myself when I get uptight, but hear my worries first.

What I Like About Being a Jackie

* Being self-disciplined and able to accomplish a great deal

* Working hard to make the world a better place

* Having high standards and ethics; not compromising myself

* Being reasonable, responsible, and dedicated in everything I do

* Being able to put facts together, coming to good understandings, and figuring out wise solutions

* Being the best I can be and bringing out the best in other people

What's Hard About Being a Jackie

* Being disappointed with myself or others when my expectations are not met

* Feeling burdened by too much responsibility

* Thinking that what I do is never good enough

* Not being appreciated for what I do for people

* Being upset because others aren't trying as hard as I am

* Obsessing about what I did or what I should do

* Being tense, anxious, and taking things too seriously

Jackies as Children Often

* Criticize themselves in anticipation of criticism from others

* Refrain from doing things that they think might not come out perfect

* Focus on living up to the expectations of their parents and teachers

* Are very responsible; may assume the role of parent

* Hold back negative emotions ("good children aren't angry")

Jackies as Parents

* Teach their children responsibility and strong moral values

* Are consistent and fair

* Discipline firmly

Take Are You a Jackie or a Marilyn? Or Someone Else? Mad Men-era Female Icon Quiz at HelloQuizzy

really important stuff for a change

The wisdom of Joe Blanton:
"I shut my eyes, swung hard, and hoped that something good would happen."

Words to live by, friends!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Friday Five -- Location Location Location

Singing Owl has set out this Friday Five for us, contemplating all the places she and her husband have lived:

"Therefore, tell us about the five favorite places you have lived in your lifetime. What did you like? What kind of place was it? Anything special happen there?"

Whooee. Someone told me the three nomadic occupations were ministry, military, and mining, and my Dad was a mining engineer. He and Mom lived in 25 different places in the first 20 years of their did slow down after that, thank goodness!

And I have now lived not just in the same community but in the same house since 1973, WHICH SUITS ME FINE, THANK YOU. My last move was 12 blocks. Ideal, I say.

Five favorite places, h'm.

1. Carmacks, Yukon Territory...The summer I turned five. A reasonably modern bungalow -- without electricity! A well in the cellar and a coal stove for cooking and heat. The all-but-midnight sun. Paddle-wheel steamboats still operated on the Yukon River, stopping at the mine at Carmacks to load barges of coal. My Dad calculated that there wasn't another white child within a radius of 200 miles. My birthday guests included my parents, the mine foreman, two steamboat captains, two chief engineers, a Mountie, the postmistress, the telegraph operator, the Taylor & Drury factor, and an Oblate missionary. Pretty cool!
2. Taku Tulsequah Polaris, B.C...the following summer. A summer made memorable by swimming in the Taku River -- not the main channel, which was glacier-fed, but in the pools in the sandbars, which were thoroughly sun-warmed. We had a pleasant house, and lots of opportunity to be outdoors, which was good. The townsite was at the bottom of a valley, and the valley was so narrow and steep that the sky was not visible from inside the houses. Radio reception was very fitful but we heard lovely classical music from time to time--courtesy of Radio Moscow, English language service! (Yes, "we could hear Russia from our house"!)
3. Giant Mascot Mine, Spillimacheen, the East Kootenays, on an enormous erratic boulder (mountain-sized) west of the Columbia River wetlands. Our first house here had, for some strange reason, a picture window, looking out on the Bugaboo Spire and glacier. We had an earth cellar, accessible through a trapdoor in the floor. Between packrats in the cellar and Big Cat Tracks on the snow on the roof, my mother wasn't overly fond of this house. Later that year we moved into one of three brand new houses--with the same fantastic view.
4. Cambridge, Massachusetts; lived here for two winters in a women's graduate dorm, pursuing a couple of degrees. A very different climate and different verdure (magnolias!) and different kind of beauty in the landscape.
5. Spenser's Green, London, the bottom half of a house, of which the upper half was also occupied by Canadian graduate students. COLD in the wintertime, until we mastered the management of portable heaters--but a pretty back garden, and central London just a moderate trainride away, including the British Museum, where I sat and sat and sat and read Renaissance grammar and rhetoric texts for my dissertation. And we went to "everything" in the theatre that winter to make up for my never having had a really adequate course in English drama...and comprehensives were coming! Highlights...standing in the back of the first balcony to see Olivier play Shylock, against Joan Plowright as Portia.

All Anglican, all the time.

How can you not love this church? (OK, OK, never mind~~there may be reasons, all right, point taken, please sit down now...)

But in the midst of alarm and despondency and tumult and outrage and affright and carryings-on, what does the Archbishop of Canterbury do? Does he tremble, does he blinch?

Not he. He writes a whopping book about...Dostoevsky.

Talk about taking the long view and going for the big picture.

And this is no mere flourish of what my Beloved Professor used to rejoice to call "belletristic expertise" -- but it is illuminating of the current and actual predicament.

And I quote:

"It is this fusion of a surrender to the claims of an independent truth and a surrender to the actual risks and uncertainties of asserting this truth in word and action that makes the entire enterprise of spiritual -- and specifically Christian -- life one that is marked by the decentring and critique of the unexamined self. What is so distinctive about Dostoevsky's narrative art is that he not only gives us narratives in which this difficult fusion is enacted; he also embodies the fusion in his narrative method, in the practice of his writing, risking the ambitious claim that the writing of fiction can itself be a sort of icon."

And there you have it. Great review in the Times Literary Supplement, October 10th.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

yet again!

In loving memory of Johnny Hart, may he rest in peace, and in honour of the clam chowder that is about to be concocted for the Rummage Crew. Peace on them, too--PLEASE! They have already consumed beef-tomato-vegetable, turkey-and-rice, split-pea-and-ham. Either I'm getting sharper about the quantities, or we have more folks working...minimal left-overs, DG.

It's been a good week for rummage: tons of stuff, and hordes of sorters and pricers. Plenty of pretty good fellowship and a minimum of outrage and hard words. Only one vast mystery at this point -- who stole the exercise machine that was left outside our back door, and how and when they managed it?

Now if anybody needs a set of 5 wine glasses, we have several styles to choose from...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

whose image is this...

Some reflections on last Sunday's lectionary. This was, more or less, the sermon.

Of all the phrases that jump up for attention in this morning's readings...the one that caught me was Paul's phrase about "serving a living and true God" and what that might mean.
I have been pondering it in the light of the bishop's charge to synod this week, and the concerns expressed by the church locally, and nationally, and internationally, for MISSION: the missio Dei, the "mission of God."
How are we to be a missionary church. And of course this is near the heart of Paul's concern here as well, the question of how the gospel is spread. In fact he sounds quite Anglican, there, I think, when he speaks to his friends in Thessalonika about how the Good News has somehow "spread from them" -- and this is the Anglican part, "so that I have no need to speak about it." What a happy thought, that people might just "get it," without our actually having to utter something.
But taking into account that we DO have to "speak about it," and that the world is plainly, in some sense or another, in need of it, the question that keeps nagging at me is this:
"How are we to preach the Gospel, and evangelize, without turning the Good News of Jesus Christ into just another variety of imperial currency?"

Because make no mistake -- the coinage of the Empire of this world, "legal tender," is also a proclaimer of Good News, of a sort. And most of the people who haven't heard the Gospel (just like most of the people who have), figure that a little more abundance of the coin of the realm is all the Good News they need right now, thank you. A tax cut. A raise. A dividend. A stock split. A legacy. A lottery jackpot. Now THAT is Good News.
But the imperial currency isn't only cash: it's all those symbols of value in our society -- attractiveness, prestige, mobility, power...the list goes on and on.

And in this we are not nearly distinct enough from the people among whom we live and to whom we are supposed to be in mission.

Perhaps in this light we can hear and even recognize Moses' anxiety, as he beseeches God to give him some kind of a glimpse of what isn't clear to him: "or I'm not going any further," he says, "I'm going to park it right here. Enough is enough." (And do you know why Moses was in such a snit at this exact moment?...OK, this afternoon you are going to read through the book of Exodus, right? He has just come down from Sinai with the law, with this wonderful expression of God's concern for his people, and he's found them all perfectly happy doing the golden calf stunt. And he's tired, and disappointed, and angry, and afraid.)
"Show me your glory," he says. "Show me your face."
And the Lord says, "Well, no. How about my goodness, instead? How about I make a lovely parade of all my goodness, and you can stand right here and watch it? And you can see my back. But not my face -- not yet -- and not my glory -- not yet."
So if we are in Moses' quandary, face to face with people who aren't all that interested in our "fresh expression" of the Gospel; and if we still share Paul's sense of mission, then how do we sound forth the word? how do we do this work of faith, this labour of love; how do we realize this steadfastness of hope?

One of the answers -- and we heard it in the Bishop's charge -- is that we carry out "needs-based evangelism." Which sounds very sensible -- we find out what people need, and we answer that need with the Good News of Jesus Christ. But again -- how do we do that without just sliding into the currency of pandering, bribing, and flattering, which is so infinitely marketable--so that we become just another "self-help" pusher...telling people that they themselves are the pivot of the universe, the measure of all things...traders, again, in the currency of the empire.
Elton Trueblood has pointed out that it is a perversion of the Gospel to present it as a success story: "The gospel may do a great many things for us, but is deeply misunderstood if it is interpreted merely as a psychological instrument for our help. It is, instead, a relationship which begins with a dangerous and uncalculating commitment."
And Fr. Martin Smith has written a sharp and helpful essay on what the church's "mission" has meant since the beginning, in terms of the "needs" that it has undertaken to meet: first of all the nightmare of mortality, emptiness, futility. The resurrection of Jesus Christ spoke to that nightmare and said, "Not so."
In later years, the nightmare became one of alienation...separation from God because of one's own guilt and sinfulness. And again, the resurrection of Jesus Christ spoke to that nightmare and said, "Not so."
And finally in our own time Fr. Smith suggests that the nightmare is the one of loss of meaning, the fear that perhaps Feuerbach was right all along, and we've been simply, in all faiths, "making up" something to comfort us in the face of the abyss of meaninglessness, randomness, the void.
And perhaps, if we carry the good news of Jesus Christ into that need and nightmare, we may be able to show ur neighbours the glory of God, at long last, in the cross. And the face of God, at long last, in the one who died on it...and then at last we and they may come to see that face in the faces we meet, and carry that glory into a confused and frightened world...

Monday, October 13, 2008


...and they have all gone home, replete.

And the fridge is full of enticing aluminum-foil-swathed masses of things which will become sandwiches for the inner city mission and/or SOOP for the rummaging hordes...

We had 38 souls, all sorts and conditions. And they all visited nicely with each other, and laughed and laughed. And stayed to the bitter, bitter end, until the last pot and spoon and fork were washed and put away.

When the teenagers and post-teenagers we NEVER see at other times came sloping into the kitchen, "Can I help?" -- I said, "Yes, please, go and check the situation in the dining-room and if anybody is sitting alone in the corner looking sad and mouldy, or moldy, GO VISIT WITH THEM." And they laughed, and did.

And the young man who brought the pumpkin a professional brewmaster (isn't God good to us?)

I am pooped, dear friends, I am going home to bed.

happy thanksgiving

At this exact moment we have two turkeys in the ovens downstairs, one ham in the oven upstairs, and the Rambler is getting her cardio in, on the stairs between one batch of bastings and the next.
I think we have a sufficiency of food, AND DRINK, for our parish Thanksgiving supper. And people have brought their offspring, and their parents, and newcomers have ventured in bravely with cases of pumpkin beer, and generally there is revelry toward, in these parts.
COLD here...down to +11 Fahrenheit one morning already, tough on the geraniums...hard frost on the roofs and bushes and cars.
One of our "alumnae" -- now studying theology in another place -- is home for Thanksgiving, so we were able to combine turkey-basting and theology for a bit this afternoon.
Struggling as she is with finding a parish accessible to her where the preaching reflects the breadth of the Gospel challenge to a faithful life...or, in short, something beyond,
"Let's just talk about being good to the poor because everybody's already in favour of that project."
We have discussed the many and varying ways in which we as believers, worshippers, even as preachers, choose to emphasize the locally palatable aspects of the Good News.


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

cold hard reality

At this point the Rambler is about to devote some serious hours to the IRL part of her existence (if that's what this is, existence), otherwise there are liable to be Fell Consequences.

Keep blogging, valiant comrades, I'll be ba-a-a-ack.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

home again

After a really great break to attend Nephewedding #2 in Our Nation's Ca-pi-tal, strictly as an observer and supporter.
Good crisp weather -- and we were...outdoors...
I had packed my glam long black skirt and my glam crushable velvet jacket and my glam little sparkly black camisole top...contemplated the temperature and opted instead for the marginally-less-glam long-sleeved crewneck pullover sweater. A sound choice.
They truly did have the all-time Calendar Picture backdrop, the Gatineau Hills in fall colours, punctuated by French-Canadian church steeple.
Fun reception and a great meal; we were booked into a super hotel and the young-uns were so thoughtful as to send round "goodie baskets" to all the out-of-town guests in the hotel, pretty nice.
And then we had time the day after for some sightseeing with friends, around and about, and further sightseeing yesterday before I had to catch the plane home.
Sightseeing of this kind: "let's get in the car and point it outward and see what we see" is known as "boring around" -- "boring" as in "drilling," not at all as in "yawning."
We had very fine "boring" yesterday and saw lots and lots of gorgeous colour, maples and sumacs and stuff that doesn't show up much in Prairie Province.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

just to make everything quite clear

Jane Austen. Because a person can't have too many pictures of Jane Austen.

Very truly run after...

like Old Man Kangaroo, if anybody out there still reads Just So Stories.

I am pondering an invitation from the Mothers-in-Zion of the Diocese Just North Of Us, to come and address "the annual" next spring; three or four talks over a Friday night and Saturday, plus preaching in their cathedral on Sunday morning. Dates to be chosen in consultation with my schedule...time to block in the RGBP BE and the Festival of Homies, "just in case." I expect I'll say yes...not a clue what to address them about!!

And this morning a representative of JASNA*, local chapter, bounced into my office to remind me, "You said you might be able to come and talk to us again about Jane Austen's clergy???" That date is set for late February, a Saturday afternoon.
*Jane Austen Society of North America