<$BlogRSDUrl$>

Tuesday, August 30, 2005


Almost there... 

Ok, I am almost done. Will y'all faithful readers please comment on the legibility of this new format. I'm particularly interested in how readable the text is and how easy it is on your eyes to read. I'm less interested, though still would appreciate your remarks, on how you like the new colors and fonts.

My working idea for colors and fonts was "ocean and grass", just to give you an idea of where I was coming from. Don't ask where I dreamed that up, it just came to me, and I've learned to run with that when that happens.

I am working on one more thing that would really make it sharp, but that one thing happens to be really difficult and so I've emailed a friend for some advice. If he can help me do it, then it might be able to get done, but if not, then what you see here is likely 99% finished product.

You'll notice I have eliminated the sub-title, "A Maze of Lyrics". That was a holdover from my much older website where I posted my poetry and I used it when I started the blog cause I didn't know what else to use. But now I don't post poetry really anymore (I hardly write any, anymore) and I think most people know my blog as "Everyday Faith". So, that is the only and official title now.

-R

(8) comments

Pardon My Dust 

I'm giving my blog's color scheme a face lift, which is more complicated that it sounds (at least to me, whose knowledge of HTML and CSS is minimal). So, if things don't look quite picture perfect around here for a bit, excuse me please, and enjoy the blog otherwise.
-R

(5) comments

Monday, August 29, 2005


Introductions: Blogaria Grows 

I've been meaning to add some new blog roll links for a while, but now the new ones have accumulated enough that I can't kep track of them in my head. So, it's forced me to add them. Allow me to make introductions.

Four blogs that I've begun reading I found through the Bloggin' Episcopalians blog ring. They include a new priest ministering in Georgia - Dancing on the Head of a Pin; a Postmodernist faithful on a journey who does cool Q&A type entries - A New Life Emerging; a young Southern woman recently graduated from Case Western who is getting ready to begin seminary at EDS - Ordinary Time; and an Anglo-catholic blogger who may be in seminary, I'm not certain - All Too Common.

Then, even more recently, as in, just now, I found the blogs of three people who I did theatre with at Wake. All of them are graduated and now doing work in various parts of the country/world. Let me introduce three of the funniest guys I know, Scotty (Bringing a Little ATL to Columbus), George (It's Not Rocket Scientist), and Scott T. (Scott or Not), to whom I owe a lot for when he stepped up for me in a great time of need.

And certainly, last, but not least, a fraternity brother of mine and someone whom I feel I did not get to know as well as both I should have and he deserved during our time together in school, artist extraordinaire Brad Abrahams at Virtual Sketches.

Enjoy!

-R

(1) comments

Impending Castastrophe 

My thoughts and prayers are going out to the folks in Louisiana and Mississippi, where Katrina will likely produce the most devastation. It seems like this summer and last I have been checking the National Hurricane Center's website more than regular news services. This is a mighty storm. A scary storm. Lord, we're done with hurricanes now, ok? We've had our fill, and the kids swear they don't really need any more days off school. So, no more, ok?

-R

(0) comments

Friday, August 26, 2005


Thundercats, Ho!!!!! 


When I saw this newly released DVD boxed set in the store, I immediately went home and ordered it from Netflix. This, my friends, is my favorite cartoon from when it was on when I was a kid! I've watched three episodes so far and it is just as cool!

-R

(2) comments

Thursday, August 25, 2005


For America? 

I don't blog about politics usually because it typically sparks fruitless, simplifying, polemicizing, mean-spirited remarks. But I have to raise this one question. I was watching the evening news and, as has been the custom of late, there was a story about Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a U.S. soldier killed in Iraq who has been protesting the war outside the Bush ranch in Crawford, TX. The story was not so much about Ms. Sheehan, as it was about the movements she has sparked, both for and against her. It seems she is now an icon, of sorts. Signs are going up on front yards - "Cindy Sheehan speaks for me!"; ""Cindy Sheehan does NOT speak for me!" One lady who was interviewed was livid with Sheehan as she exclaimed on national television, "She's saying America's not worth fighting for! How can a person say that?"

I did not realize we were over there "fighting for America". Has the war come to our coasts? No. In what way has the U.S. led invasion of Iraq affected American living? To contrast, in what way has it affected Iraqi living? As a friend of mine recently put it, in his most Harvard politically correct way, "Iraq is permafucked." No, I don't think we are "fighting for America", nor do I think that Cindy Sheehan is saying that America is not worth fighting for. Indeed, it is. America is my home and I want my shores defended as much as anyone else. But let us not confuse the issue. Invading Iraq was not fighting to defend America. To give the most credit possible to the administration that has led us to this war, one could say that invading Iraq was "fighting for democracy". And that's giving a lot of credit. But, not "fighting for America."

Nor do I agree with all of the war protesters who say we should pull out of Iraq now, that we should get all U.S. presence out of there. No, that would also be wrong, at this stage in the game. It is challenging for my pacifist self to say this. Iraq is more dangerous now than ever it was under Hussein's dictatorship. We created a big mess and we need to clean it up. I hesitate to say this, but I think even the President is coming around to realizing that. So, let us call a spade a spade; let us take off the rose colored glasses; let us remember the real battles that were fights for America. To call this war a fight for America does a grave disservice to those folks who actually gave their lives winning us our freedom, actually defending our country -- and I don't want to be a part of that.

-R

(4) comments

Odds and Ends 

Both of the baseball games I went to were excellent games. Chipper's 2 HR night on Monday propelled us to victory and I tomahawk chopped my entire section, but sat down when one Cub fan appeared like he was about to be violent. Honestly...

At Wednesday's game, a seven yeard old girl Cub fan taped a paper napkin to my back inscribed with the message, "Kick me, I'm a Braves fan." I tomahawked her when we won. But, that was all in good fun.

In between the games, I went to my first ever major big concert - Kenny Chesney at the AllState Arena. Pat Green and Gretchen Wilson opened for him, and both of those acts were excellent. Kenny, though, was awesome. He was lowered into the auditorium on a swing while singing "Keg in the Closet", and when he sang out the part about Lambda Chi, he tipped his hat. I tipped my hat back, but I'm not certain he saw me. The whole experience was awesome! When he got to the song, "When the Sun Goes Down", sung as a duet with Uncle Kraker on the album, Uncle Kraker came out to join in the fun, which was cool. Pat Green had his boy on stage with him for the end of his set and Gretchen Wilson made no apologies for being a Redneck Woman. A successful first big major concert I would say.

-R

(1) comments

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


Crazy Fun 

This week's insane, but awesome, schedule:

Monday - Braves/Cubs game. Braves won, 4-2. WOOO!
Tuesday - Kenny Chesney concert.
Wednesday - Braves/Cubs game.
Thursday - Southern Schools BBQ
Friday - Taking the Yancuba's clothes shopping; Jeff's championship hockey game.

Of course, my allergies decided this would be a good week to not allow me to breathe.

-R

(3) comments

Sunday, August 21, 2005


Endings 

One of the oddest sensations in the whole world is striking a set. You can't know this unless you've been involved in theatre or film. You live, breathe, work, play, romance, feud, cry, and sleep on that set. You also act. But when it is over, you strike. You tear down the house you lived in. You divorce your wife. You abandon your children. You burn your bridges and you tell your friends to go to hell. You also act.

You may call me crazy, but there are some folks I'm going to miss now that they're gone. Dead, really. The characters of the HBO series, "Six Feet Under". I liked these guys. Ok, some of them I hated, but at one point or another, I liked them. Believe it or not, I think I learned from this show. Tonight, it was over. I wept at some of the more touching moments and at some of the silly ones. I groaned over the few cliches. And I'm going to miss them. Isn't that odd? It's a TV show!

Most will tell you it was a TV show about death and dealing with death. I'm going to pull my own cliche here and say it was a show about life and dealing with life, of which death was a part.

This morning, at St. Luke's, I helped a family ritualistically say goodbye to their Mom and Dad. I helped them inter the ashes of their parents into the ground. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. They thanked Jeannette after the short committal service. Then, one of the sisters surprised me by turning and thanking me. Really, all I did was hold the BCP for Jeannette. But, this woman thanked me for being there because I looked like her son. Isn't that odd? This was an ending for them.

In a strange turn of events, I was brought back into touch with a friend I have not seen in six years. Kirsten and I were very close friends through middle school and high school. We used to have long talks about all kinds of stuff - most notably religion (she was Jewish, I was Christian, and neither of us backed down - you can imagine how interesting that was). We used to sit for hours on my backyard swingset debating and discussing. After high school we lost touch. She went to Michigan, I to Wake. My mother's hairdresser's daughter is one of Kirsten's close friends, so periodically, Mom would tell me updates about Kirsten via Laura, the hairdresser. Thus it was that I learned Kirsten had gone off to live in Israel, to study theology. This was not surprising to me really - she was always into it. It did surprise me to learn that she had become rather conservative (lower case "c", not "C" in the Judaic denomination sense). It also surprised me when she called me two days ago, to tell me that she as going to be in Chicago and that we should visit. We arranged for Sunday afternoon. I was informed by her that though I may want to give my old friend whom I've not seen in six years a hug, it was not permitted. A modesty thing, apparently. I can respect that, even if I think it's a bit much. So it was that she knocked on my door this afternoon. There she stood, looking a bit older, but still the same old vibrant, full of life, Kirsten that I remember (only clad in Orthodox skirts and long sleeves). We talked for a few hours, catching up on old times. As we were talking about all these old people I heard myself telling her about Andrew, and how he had died in that car accident almost four years ago. She didn't know. I felt very strange telling someone that who had not known - it was weird. Almost uncomfortably so. And here I am, the guy who spent last summer telling people their friends or family had died. The moment passed, but not without me taking note of it. In any event, here we are:

I spoke to another friend of mine's wife briefly this afternoon. He has been shipped out to Kuwait, so our prayers are going with Head. Come back safe, man.

Strange endings today - I spoke in my sermon this past week about the night Andrew died as the night I lost my immortality. I think my childhood is also in my past, and has been for some time, but it's taking me a long time to realize it. I may be an old man before I do.

-R

(2) comments

Saturday, August 20, 2005


A Fun Experiment 

Jeff pointed me last night to this interesting baseball article wherein Stephen Cannella wonders what if. What if there were no such thing as free agency or trading players? What if each team was stuck with the players they drafted, what would the teams look like. He's done the hard work and shows the lineups - every one is an All-Star line up, it's amazing. Jeff and I decided Oakland, Washington, Houston, and Seattle were the best looking teams, but it was not easy to choose. Then we got the idea to use the video game's, MVP 2005, "Manage Roster" option to actually create these teams and to pit them against one another to see what would happen. He selected the Mariners and I went with the Astro's, both teams complete with retro uniforms. Well, the first inning got off with a bang as Ichiro ran around the bases for Jeff faster than I knew what was happening, making the score 1-0. In the bottom of the second I tied it up with an RBI triple from Bobby Abreu. 1-1. By the 5th, it was 2-2, neck and neck. Then, in the bottom of the 7th, I use a Biggio to pinch hit for Johann Santana, and he hits a 3 run blast to right field, proving that Ichiro cannot, in fact, fly. That ended up being the final score, 5-2, so without that big homreun, it was even. It was a really fun experiment and we plan on trying the A's against the Nationals next. If anyone else out there experiments with this, let me know what happens, it's kinda fun!

-R

(0) comments

Thursday, August 18, 2005


Christian Formation Meeting 

I just returned from a Christian Formation meeting at St. Luke's that fascinated me. Their approach to Christian formation is really different from the way I would do it. Given the general intellectual air at St. Luke's, they seem to have a sucessful history and probably successful plans to do series' of teaching classes, run by experts, on every sort of topic. Jeannette, the priest-in-charge, wants to push them towards doing more spirituality/prayer focused groups. I think, if I were asked for my two cents, I would suggest trying to get broad lay leadership/ownership of these formation groups more in play.

The ideas that I had swimming around in my head all seemed to resonate with many members of the group. As part of my learning goals, I have contracted to convene two small groups for discussion, one on humorously themed novels that I will call "Reverent Satire", and one that tackles Christianity in 3 very different ways through movies that I will call "Faith in Film". Those should be fun. I also put forward to Jeannette, and she brought it up tonight, the idea of doing an All Hallow's Eve Midnight Mass/Costume Party/Lock-In for the youth (getting the idea from All Saints, Bellevue, WA - my plunge site). We're talking going all out - high altar service lit only by candles, huge scary organ music, Book of Occasional Services Liturgy, and the works! They loved that idea, and actually seemed somewhat disappointed when it was brought up that this would be themed and aimed at the youth! But, maybe we'll get the chaperones we need this way!

They seem to be struggling with what to do with the youth in general though. Should we have a youth group or not? If so, how do we involve the choir youth? (St. Luke's has a huge and extensive shoir program that'll knock your socks off, so come check it out in the Fall!) Should youth have "Sunday School", and if so, what format should it take. Who will lead it and them?

I remember clearly when my home parish was in this stage. Indeed, I was in the inaugural class, if you will. My youth group was extraordinarily successful, if you ask me, and those people bonded together in a way that can't really be put into words. Suffice it to say the connection is still very strong among most of us and we all stay in very good touch. So, I have lots of ideas for them, but I don't want to be typecast as "the youth guy", nor do I want to seem like I'm presenting a way for them to recreate for themselves what St. Hilary's had in the Cool Beans and the Hilary Sprouts programs. But, at the same time, I think these ideas could work for St. Luke's, at least some of them. And hey, why not ask the youth?!?!

-R

(1) comments

16 Innings and a Comedy of Errors Sermon 

Last night's Sox/Twins game ran ridiculously long. We left in the 13th, with the score 4-4, very aware that it was almost midnight, that some of us had an hour's train ride home, and that all of us had to be at work in the morning. When I got home I learned the game went to the 16th, when the Twins exploded to win 9-4. I am glad the Twins won, if for no other reason than it was Bert (number 5 on this list) who got us the tickets and, with me not really being a huge fan of the Sox or the Twins, was just in it for a good game. He called me after the game to make sure our seats were ok and that we had enjoyed the game. In that we were a whopping 100 feet directly behind home plate, I let him know the seats were quite fine. I used the train ride home to put the finishing touches together for this morning's sermon at St. Luke's Wednesday mass.

That turned out to be a lesson in humility. When I arrived, I saw the lections marked already, so I thought I'd check them over. Well, they were not the lections I had read over to prepare for the sermon, so I asked. Long story short, when I checked on the lectionary website, I had inadvertantly read the lections from the daily office, not daily mass. Jeannette said this was no problem, we'd just use the lections I had prepared. I felt Baptist. So, I set out the Gospel lesson I had printed up on the lection stand, vested, and prepared for the service. When it came time for her to read the Gospel, she picked up the Bible from the lector/server, but he whispered that he had not marked the Gospel. I whispered I had set my copy on the lectern. She said, not to worry she would use that. As she walked to the lectern, I felt a moment of doubt - I had bracketed off the section of the gospel that I wanted to highlight, but in lectionary texts for lectors, brackets mean "optional"! And sure enough, but not at all her fault, Jeannette, read only the first half of the Gospel, which was unbracketed.

I could do naught else but begin my sermon by confessing my bumblings. I said simply that sometimes things like this happen, here's the gist of the rest of the gospel lesson (I quoted it a bit in the actual sermon) and then proceeded to deliver what I thought actually turned out to be an excellent sermon. So, it worked out in the end. Now, surprisingly, I did not feel nervous or panicked through all of this, so I think that is a good sign. Had this been a SUnday Mass, that might have been another story, but I love this Wednesday crowd; they are a small group, very friendly, and so I feel comfortable with them.

So, all that is to say, I love baseball and Field-Ed is going great!

-R

(1) comments

Monday, August 15, 2005


Baseballmania 

Boy, have I ever hit the jackpot. Let's just say I'll be going to three ball games over the next two weeks and I'll not be paying for anything but my hot dogs!!

Dear Bert Blyleven, Tim Hudson, and Marcus Giles, thank you so very much. You guys rock!!

Go Braves!!!

-R

(3) comments

Sunday, August 14, 2005


The Tale of the Gold Man 

There once were two sisters who lived in a small village outside of Yorkshire. A day of festival was coming up, and the village was a buzz with preparation. Excitement filled the air and no one was more excited than the children, for it was widely whispered that if ever there was magic to happen, it would happen at festival. And everyone knows children are far more prone to see magic than adults. Now, these two particular sisters were the same in many ways, but were also quite different in some ways. The younger of the two sisters, Jane, was exceptionally good and was never bad. Jill, the elder, was sometimes good and was sometimes bad. Were you to speak to Jill's mother, you would think Jill was always bad, but that was not the case. See, Jill liked to have fun and everyone knows that sometimes, in order to have a little fun, you have to be a little bad.

Well, the sun rose on festival day, and rise high it did, high and bright. As the girls were bounding down the lane towards the activities, there was suddenly a sound as of tiny bells ringing and POOF, a puff of smoke appeared before them. Out of the ground, amidst the smoke there rose a man and everything about him was gold. His trousers, his shirt, his waistcoat, all woven of gold. His shoes, his socks, his hat, the feather in the hat, all gold. Every braclet round his wrists, every necklace round his neck, every ring upon his fingers, toes, ears, lips, and tongue were gold. And how it shined!! How he shined! Even his skin, as if all that gold had seeped into him, shined. In each hand he held and tossed, tossed and held, a golden ball. He reached out with his hands to given the golden balls to the sisters, but held back at the last moment as he said, "Are you sure you want them?" "Oh, yes," they replied, "we surely do!"

Jane and Jill both indeed did want the golden balls, but for very different reasons, you see. Jane, the younger sister, loved to play and loved shiny things, so the golden ball was a perfect gift for her to show off to her playmates. Jill, the older sister, had almost outgrown playthings. No, she wanted the golden ball for quite a different reason.

Jill's sweetheart, Jack, loved football. He loved watching football, talking football, playing football with his mates. Were you to ask Jill, Jill would say she figured Jack loved football even more than Jack loved Jill. But were you to ask Jack or Jack's mates, he and they would tell you he surely did love Jill, loved her even more than he loved football. For everyone knows, when it comes right down to it though it may seem contrarywise, the fellas loves their sweethearts more than they love football. How great the difference may be is never told, but it is the truth.

Jack was in the pub that day watching his favorite football team with his mates and though he did love her, had no intention of playing games at festival with Jill and her sister. But Jill wanted Jack's attention, because she would rather spend the day with him than playing games. And she thought the golden ball just the ticket to tear him away from the match and his mates and bring him to her.

"Oh, yes," they replied to the golden man, "we surely do!" "Then I must tell you the rule," said the gold man, "the rule of the ball and the rule of life. If I give you this gold ball you must promise to protect it, to keep it safe, to keep it secure, for it is valuable. In three days time, I will return and ask you for the ball and if you can produce the gold it'll be proof you're a good girl and worthy of all the rewards of life. But if you cannot produce the gold, it'll be proof you're a wicked girl and worthy of punishment. If you cannot produce the gold, I will take you by your hair and drag you to Yorkminster where you'll be hung for all to see how wicked you are!" (The people of Yorkminster are an unsavory type, and they like to turn out for nothing more than a good hangin'.) "Now," said he, "do you want the golden balls?"

"Oh, yes," they replied to the gold man, "we surely do." He reached out and handed each of them their golden ball. Even as he disappeared in another POOF of smoke they could hear him whispering, as if right in their ears, "Three days time..."

No longer that interested in playing with her golden ball, Jane became more interested in keeping her promise, for she was exceptionally good and never did anything bad. So, she ran home immediately and put her golden ball in a safe place, where she would admire it over the next three days, but where it was in no danger of wandering off and becoming lost.

Jill took her ball to the front of the pub where she began parading around trying to catch Jack's eye. She bounced the ball upon the ground and caught it again. She tossed the ball into the air and caught it again. This she did back and forth, but Jack would not look up. She bounced the ball upon the ground and caught it again. She tossed the ball into the air and caught it again. Back and forth again, but Jack would not look up. She bounced the ball upon the ground and caught it again. She tossed the ball into the air a third time, but a wind grabbed it and carried it. The wind carried it high and over a stone wall, a wall higher than anyone could see over and no one had found the way up or around or under it. No one, ever. But there the ball had gone.

Jill yelled for Jack to come, and when he heard her a cryin', came he did. She told him the story of the gold man and how she had been wicked and lost the gold ball and that in three days time, she would be dragged off to Yorkminster and hanged, hanged for all to see how wicked she was.

They did not know what to do for there was no way in, up, around, or under the wall. Three days passed. POOF! A puff of smoke appeared and out of the ground came the gold man, grinning mischievously. "Have you got the golden ball," he asked to Jane. "Yes," Jane said in return, handing it over to him, "here it is." "You are a good girl and worthy of all the rewards of life, " said the golden man, tapping her upon the head with his golden hand. "Have you got the golden ball," he asked to Jill. "No, I have not got the golden ball," said Jill. "You are a wicked girl," said the golden man. He grabbed her by the hair and dragged her off, yelling across his shoulder as he dragged her away to be hanged, "In three days times we'll come to Yorkminster, and then she'll be hanged if the gold ball be not produced, hanged for all to see how wicked she is." And they were gone.

Jack did not know what to do. He surely did not want to see Jill hanged for Jill was his sweetheart and he loved her much. When he walked past the stone wall that night, under the light of the moon, he saw a door he had not seen before. He knocked on the door and an ageless woman answered. Quickly, but politely, he asked her, "Have you got the golden ball?" "Yes," she said, "and no. Come in and see." So Jack walked through that door and by the light of the moon he saw a strange thing. A football game was going on in the yard inside the stone wall and the strangest football game it was that he ever did see. For the players for one side were pixies and fairies and elves, and on the other side were ghosts and ghouls and goblins. And there, on the field, being used as the football, was the golden ball. Now this was the strangest football game he ever did see for each time a ghoul kicked the golden ball his leg fell off in rot, and each time a ghost kicked the football his leg passed right through it and each time a pixie or fairy, being small, went to stop the ball from being kicked it squashed them flat. The woman turned to Jack and said, "Are you clever and are you brave?" "Yes," said Jack, "I am clever and I am brave." For all young men think this of themselves, but truthfully Jack did not feel so clever nor so brave. The woman said, "Sit down, and if you are clever and if you are brave, you'll save your sweetheart yet." So sit Jack did, and, at midnight, through the gate came a giant. An ugly giant was he, with one head and one ugly eye square in the middle of the head. Jack got an idea. He snuck behind the giant's back and drew the giant's sword. Now, Jack was clever and Jack was brave and whack, he chopped off the giant's head. Taking it by the hair he brought it to the game and said to the players, "If I give you this giant's head, with one eye, to use for a ball, will you give me the gold?" They all paused, and replied at once, "No!"

Jack despaired but he came back the next night to see what he could do. And when he came in, the woman said to Jack, "Sit down, and if you are clever and if you are brave, you'll save your sweetheart yet." So sit Jack did, and, at midnight, through the gate came a giant. An even uglier giant was this one, with two heads. In the middle of the one head sat one ugly eye and in the middle of the second head sat two ugly eyes. When the giant sat for the game, Jack snuck behind the giant's back and drew the giant's sword. Now, Jack was clever and Jack was brave and whackity-whack, he chopped off both the heads. Taking them by the hair he brought them to the game. He said to the players again, "If I give you this giant's head, with one eye, to use for a ball, will you give me the gold?" They all paused, and replied at once, "No!" Jack held up the second head, "If I give you this giant's head, with two eyes, to use for a ball, will you give me the gold?" They all paused, and replied at once, "No!"

Jack despaired but he came back the next night to see what he could do. And when he came in, the woman said to Jack, "Sit down, and if you are clever and if you are brave, you'll save your sweetheart yet." So sit Jack did, and, at midnight, through the gate came a giant. An even uglier giant was this one, with three heads. In the middle of the one head sat one ugly eye and in the middle of the second head sat two ugly eyes and in the middle of the third head sat three ugly eyes. When the giant sat for the game, Jack snuck behind the giant's back and drew the giant's sword. Now, Jack was clever and Jack was brave and whackity-whack whack, he chopped off all three of the heads. Taking them by the hair he brought them to the game. He said to the players again, "If I give you this giant's head, with one eye, to use for a ball, will you give me the gold?" They all paused, and replied at once, "No!" Jack held up the second head, "If I give you this giant's head, with two eyes, to use for a ball, will you give me the gold?" They all paused, and replied at once, "No!" Jack held up the third head, "If I give you this giant's head, with three eyes, to use for a ball, will you give me the gold?" They all paused, and replied at once, "Yes!" So, the exchange was made and the game went on, but Jack did not stick around to notice. For it was the eve of the third day and he had to get to Yorkminster by dawn. He tore off, making his way to Yorkminster.

As the sun rose in Yorkminster, the gold man drug the girl by the hair to the main square, where there had been erected a gibbet. Tied to the gibbet was a lone noose for her to be hanged, hanged for all to see how wicked she was. As she was marched up to the gallows, she looked out over the crowd and saw her father. She cried out him, for when a girl is in trouble, who can she count on but her father? "Father, have ya got the ball, the gold to set me free? Or have ya come to see me hanged, hanged on the gallows tree?" "No," he said, "I haven't got the ball, the gold to set ya free. I've come to see ya hanged, hanged on the gallows tree."

As she was stood upon the stool, she looked out over the crowd and saw her mother. She cried out to her, for when a girl is in trouble, who can she count on but her mother? "Mother, have ya got the ball, the gold to set me free? Or have ya come to see me hanged, hanged on the gallows tree?" "No," she said, "I haven't got the ball, the gold to set ya free. I've come to see ya hanged, hanged on the gallows tree."

As the noose was tightened around her neck, she looked out over the crowd and saw Jack runnin' up and over the hill. She cried out to him, for when a girl is in trouble, who can she count on but her sweetheart? "Jack, have ya got the ball, the gold to set me free? Or have ya come to see me hanged, hanged on the gallows tree?" "Yes," he cried, "I've got the ball, the gold to set you free. I'll never see you hanged, hanged on the gallows tree!" And with that, he held the gold ball aloft and tossed it to the gold man. The gold man caught it in surprise and POOF, in a puff of smoke, he was gone back into the ground and was never seen again. Jill was taken down from the gallows tree and was not hung, hung for all to see.

-R

(0) comments

Saturday, August 13, 2005


Storytelling 

Last night's activity was amazing. I was invited by some friends to go with them to the Celtic Knot (a local pub) and listen to a professional storyteller. Given that the Celtic Knot is a very traditional looking pub, with lots of neat stonework and dark wood dimly lit, and my general liking for things medieval, I imagined myself a traveler in about the 13th century, stopping off at an inn along the way for a night and happening upon a bard who was paying his way by entertaining the other guests. I didn't know such things as professional storytellers existed - the wife of a classmate of mine would have loved it. So we crowded into a cozy room and all took our seats, ale in hand. The gentleman who would be "telling", as they called it, was from London. His name was Patrick Ryan (sounds like he should have been from Dublin, but maybe he was originally as he had an Irish accent). He regaled us with all sorts of tales, some fantastical, others more set in the realm of reality. Anyone who has ever read a fantasy book will recall the author writing about bards who tell their stories in a "high, almost chant-like voice". That's high as in elegant, not pitch. I never really could fully imagine what that meant until last night. It was amazing. Clever use of meter and rhyme, frequent alliteration, and changes of tone and pitch all led to an experience tht transported us to the world of these tales. We were there, in them, watching them unfold, not infrequently upon the edge of our seats! It was so cool! To try and give you a sample of what we heard, I will, to the best of my ability, re-tell a short story here, and then in the next post, re-tell a longer story. I hope you enjoy and I hope if you get the chance to hear one of these folks, that you do. Future and current preachers out there - we have much to learn from storytellers.




The Tale of the Boy Without a Story

Times were hard, food was scarce, and so it was that young Johnny set out upon the road, seeking his fortune, as young boys are wont to do. He left home with naught but the clothes on his back and the stick in his hand, taking to the trail in good spirits. But, by the end of the first day, as night was settling in, he was in a somewhat more dampened mood. He had nothing to eat and nowhere to lay his head and no prospect of work. For he had been to several towns and villages that day, looking for employment to no avail. Butchers, farmers, merchants all turned him out. Chandlers, cooks, and cobblers had no work for him at all. He had begged a place to stay but had been unsuccessful and so struck out, as twilight was upon the land.

It was then that he happened upon a lone farmhouse, apart from anything else in the land, and he bore himself up proud and knocked upon the oaken door. The farmer answered, greeting him cordially, for these were good people. Welcoming Johnny in, he offered him a warm meal and a bed of fresh straw to lay his head for the night. "It's not much," said the farmer, "for we have little ourselves, but what little we have we will share." Johnny thanked him mightily and enjoyed the small amount of stew the farmer's missus set before him. After supper, the farmer brought out his fiddle and played a few light hearted tunes. The missus joined a lovely voice to the strain, and sang of whimsy and love. The song came to an end and the fiddle's voice was quieted as the farmer looked at Johnny and said, "Ok, now it's your turn." Johnny looked abashed, "I cannot do anything sir," he said humbly. "Oh, come now," replied the farmer, "surely you can sing us a song or tell us a story?" "No," said Johnny sadly, "I am not skilled in telling stories, and besides nothing interestin' ever happens to me to tell." "Well then, sing us a tune," enjoined the missus. "I'm afraid I've no voice for singin'," Johnny replied. "How bout a dance then. Can you do a jig? Something from where ya come from to share with us a bit of your home flavor?" "Alas, no," Johnny said, "I've no skill at jiggin'".

The farmer looked disturbed, and he said slowly, "You mean to tell me, you come to my house, beggin' me of room and board, and you've no story to share, no song to sing, and not even a dance to dance. Is that what you're tellin' me lad?" "Yessir, I'm afraid it is."

The farmer stood up and walked to a wooden cupboard. Reaching high up on top of it he pulled down an old shotgun that looked a bit like a blunderbuss with it's large barrel. He pointed it at Johnny and Johnny said, "Are ya gonna shoot me because I've no story to tell?" The farmer said, "Go in there," pointing to a room beyond a darkened doorway. Johnny started to when the man pointed the gun at his wife. Johnny turned and said, "Are you gonna shoot your wife because I've no story to tell?" The man said to his wife, "Go in there, " pointing to the same room. When they got in there, the farmer pointed the gun back at Johnny and said, "Strip off your clothes." Johnny said, "Ay, I cannot do that sir. For I am a good lad. No woman has ever seen me naked except my mum and the last time that was was when I was five." The farmer said again, "Take 'em off." Pointing the gun at his wife he said to her the same. Johnny looked ashamed and said, "Ay! She cannot do that! For I am a good lad and I've never seen a woman undressed!" The farmer said again, "Take 'em off," Then he said to the both of them, "Now get into the bed yonder." Johnny blanched and said, "Ay, sir! I cannot do that at all! For I am a good lad and I've never done that!" "Go!" said the farmer. When they were both naked and in the bed together, the farmer put down the gun, smiled and said, "Now, the next time you're a beggin' room and board and your benefactors ask for a story, at least you'll have something to say!"

-R

(1) comments

Thursday, August 11, 2005


Baseball: the Unlucky, the Unfortunate, the Unswept 

It's been a weird day and a half in MLB. Yesterday, Brian Schneider, a young player for the Expos the D'Backs Terrero, who was on 3B against the Marlins, was tagged out by Mike Lowell in a successful application of the hidden ball trick. Apparently, that actually does happen in the majors. Unlucky, for Schneider Terrero; hilarious for the rest of us. Hats off to a guy who pulls that trick twice and gets it to work!

A line drive hit between Mets outfielders Carlos Beltran and Mike Cameron today resulted in them colliding head on. Announcers warned viewers it would be disturbing to see before showing the reply during the Braves game. Beltran is out with a bruised should, but Cameron had to be carted off the field. When the report came in he suffered a broken nose and multiple fractures in both cheek bones. Highly unfortunate for both those players, as well as the Mets and we wish them a speedy recovery.

San Francisco did not get swept tonight by the Braves due to a 7th inning two run blast by Giants outfielder, Randy Winn. This ruined a great night of pitching for Tim Hudson, who had a season high 10 strike outs before giving up the homerun.

And, an odd place to get this piece of news, but TBS announced they would be showing several college football games this upcoming season, the second of which will be Wake Forest v. Nebraska. That brings the total of WFU football games I'll get to see on TV up to a whopping three. Is it basketball season yet? Oh, wait, we're going to have a "rebuilding year" this year.

-R

(3) comments

American History X vs. The Believer 

Two movies. Two M.O.'s. One message.

That message is that anti-semitism and racism are bad, a noble and righteous message to be sure. Yet, one film accomplishes the goal better than the other. American History X take the social justice route and also uses a bit of shock value to bring its message of hope and redemption. The story is of Derek Vinyard and his family. Derek, a neo-nazi prodigy with a swastika tattooed on his chest, has been arrested for murder of two black men who are robbing him. While in prison, two things happen. The "joint messes with [his] mind," and his young brother starts following down Derek's path. Told from two time angles, it shows Derek's story as well as his younger brother's story. It is not aimed, I believe, at people who are already inclined to think that racism and anti-semitism are bad, but rather at those folks who might be riding that line. Maybe neo-nazis are, in fact, the intended audience. That seems to me to be why the film makes use of such violence. It's got to leave an impression on the hate-filled and violent people out there. It's got to leave that impression so strongly that they start thinking about changing their ways.

The Believer, on the other hand attacks the question from the religious perspective. It is the story of a young neo-nazi man living in New York City. The trouble is, he is a Jew. Throughout the film, his religious roots begin tugging at him and he finds himself confused. Though he is confused, he continues to carry out violent and hate-filled acts with his gang. But all the time, his understanding of and feelings towards Judaism wax and wane. The film repeats the Genesis 22 story often, and even offers some interesting exegesis. But the reason I don't care for this movie is that, in the end, it takes the tact that anti-semitism is stupid because there is no god, and thus, such hatred is based on a specious distinction at best.

American History X gets the Ryan Whitley two thumbs up, and really is the better movie in this highly specific sub-genre.

-R

(0) comments

Monday, August 08, 2005


Sunday, Busy Sunday 

At church this morning I received a reward I did not expect. While I was at coffee hour in between services, our refugee family arrived (since I'll be writing about them more, I think I'll call them by their name, Yancuba). The youngest child, a 15 year old boy, ran up to me when he saw me, grabbed my hand and said, "It has been a long time since I have seen you. You were not here last Sunday." I felt pretty good, to see that I had had such an impact on someone in such a short amount of time. Later that coffee hour, I learned they had received a gift of a Playstation 2. So, I asked him if he would like a few games. I have a bunch I was going to sell back to EB cause I never play 'em anymore, but this was a better place to give them. So, I went over to their house Sunday afternoon and dropped off four games much to his disbelieving delight. The daughter was quietly pleased as well - she likes to play them but doesn't quite like to admit it. Their Mom and Dad were excited to have me over as well. So excited, in fact, that they fed me. The meal was of rice and fish with a homemade spicy sauce; it was declared by the daughter to be "African food". I enjoyed it a lot, even if it was a bit much for 3pm. I also noticed they had proudly hung their wall clock we bought them last week on their wall, still in the box. I didn't have the heart to say anything.

The remainder of the day was spent helping my self-declared "self sufficient" friend set up her apartment and build the furniture she had bought at Ikea. I built a dresser, a book shelf, a night stand, and a small dresser-like thing. At 11:30, I looked at her, exhausted and said questioningly, "Self-sufficient?" She asked me to let her know when I hated her. Hate is not really a part of my ethos, so I smiled and said it had been my pleasure, which it really had been, just exhaustingly so. I got my "Ryan's Summer Moving Ministry" price out of it as well - dinner and undying gratitude. I really do love helping folks move like that. I don't know, it's kinda weird, but it gives me a sense of accomplishment and it eases the stress on them from moving. Anyway, she has a lovely apartment in the city, a block away from Second City, so I look forward to visiting and admiring her lovely bookshelves.

-R

(9) comments

Sunday, August 07, 2005


Calamity Touch 

Wherever I went this weekend, disaster struck, or so it seemed. On my way to the train Friday night, I pass an elderly woman that had fallen on the ground while trying to get out of her wheelchair into her car. Her daughter is yelling at a man to come help, I'm assuming the daughter's husband, but he is in no hurry. The woman on the ground is uninjured, and so I lift her and put her in the car.

Then, in Lincoln park, as I am walking down Diversey, I pass a side street where two fire engines, a police car, an ambulance, and a news van have congregated. I take a look down the street just to see what I can see. An enormous oak tree had apparently dry rotted at the base and broke off about a foot from the ground, sending this 50+ foot tall tree crashing into the street crushing cars and houses, and, judging from the ambulance, at least injuring one person.

On my way back home from being out, I am waiting for the Linden bound purple line train at Howard (usually a long wait at night) when two cop cars go buzzing by, lights and sirens blaring. Then, two more. Then, three more. Then, two more marked cars, four unmarked, two fire engines, and an ambulance. They just kept coming. All told, about 30 police cars (no lie), marked and unmarked must have screamed by. It was unbelievable. While I guessed Osama Bin Laden must have been found, of all places, in his Rogers Park residence, another train goer postulated that Dunkin Donuts announced a free donut special for five minutes only. They were going right near the L stop, Howard and Paulina, but I could not see anything. Anyone know what happened for real??

While driving to dinner Saturday night, the car in front of me blatantly runs a red light. In dismay I look up wondering where a cop is when you actually need one. Oh, good, thought I, there is one right there in the south bound lane of Chicago Ave. I mean, this cop was right there, in front of the line of traffic stopped at the stop light. Did the cop turn on her sirens and lights? Did she even make any attempt to pull this person over. No, not at all. Having been the dumbass once who ran a red light and actually managed to hit someone, I know how dangerous and scary that can be and thus, was incensed at this total disregard for that serving and protecting bit. I roll down my window and none too cordially clue her in to what just happened as I drive by. To my further dismay, she is talking on a cell phone. Didn't we just make that illegal in Chicago? My friends with me were worried she was going to pull me over. Oh boy, would I have loved to have that happen!

-R

(0) comments

Thursday, August 04, 2005


Indulging 

There has been a little voice in the back of my head recently (don't tell the diocesean psychologist!) that has been whispering to me. It's been saying, "Banana pudding."

So, while at the store yesterday, I bought the ingredients.

Mmmm...banana pudding.

The recipe obviously was for more than an individual serving, so I'll be enjoying it for, oh, the next two weeks or so. Unless I have some help. But, I'm not asking for that.

-R

(2) comments

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


Great Lines from the Bros 

Some great lines from my brothers, from over this past weekend:

Trevor

(He is putting sunscreen on my back for me. When I think he is done, he adds a little bit more.)

Me: "A little more for good measure?"
Trev: "No. For bad measure. Cause I didn't measure right the first time."

Brennan

(This is actually from a while ago and was reported back to me this weekend. Brennan, while taking his SAT, encounters a question about the Ming Dynasty. He raises his hand.)

Brennan: "Check please!"

-R

(2) comments

Sticks and Stones 

Words will hurt. If I've learned anything in the past two weeks, it is that. Words will be misunderstood; words will be taken out of context; words will be placed in my mouth; words will unwantonly invoke old wounds; words will tear new holes in fragile skin. I've seen this happen recently in my life, and in the lives of some of my friends. It hurts. And so it is with that in mind that I turn to a subject I've consciously ignored for some time, because of a dire need of a respite from it.

When I lifted my head from the sand, it seemed there still was a crisis in the Anglican Communion and ECUSA.

I've not gotten in on all the discussion about the so-called 'Connecticut Six", because, frankly, I don't live in Connecticut, I don't know all the facts about what has actually gone on there, and what does goes on there concerns me only peripherally. What interests me much more is what is going on is my own Diocese of Southwest Florida.

The AAC (American Anglican Council) recently held a "rally" at Christ Church, Bradenton. The report of it, and some of the things that were said there can be found here in this issue of the diocesean newsletter, the Southern Cross. One of the things that was said was by Doug Spangler, the diocesean AAC coordinator. I quote, "Via Media – I’m not going to make any bones about it – represents revisionist theology in this diocese. So if, God forbid, in the absence of [Bishop Lipscomb’s] presence, John Adler, effectively, would be your bishop. Now that’s a serious, serious situation."

Via Media is a self declared group of centrist Episcopalians working for a way to proceed forward together. The Rev. John Adler, in addition to being the Chairman of the Standing Committee, is also a founding member of this group. The Rev. John Adler is also a good friend and a fine priest, undeserving of such below the belt rhetorical tactics. I happen to disagree with him from time to time, but that does not change the above facts.

Via Media Chairman, the Rev. Ted Copland, responded to the AAC rally remarks with this statement of repentance.

Meanwhile, the Bishop is calling for all congregations in the diocese to, via vestry, support and agree to live into the the recommendations of the Windsor Report. He is also asking all clergy to make a personal committment to so do. This is a move that I support. If we, as a Province of the Anglican Communion, choose to act in a way contrary to the beliefs and will of the broader Communion, even if we do so in good conscience and under the assumption we are doing the work of the Holy Spirit, then we need to be willing to be patient and accept the consequences. If it is indeed the work of the Spirit, nothing can get in its way for long. If it is not, it will fail. Bishop Lipscomb is doing an excellent job of trying to walk the middle way and hold the church together, on the diocesean level, the national level, and the international level. He is committed to the Episcopal Church in its current manifestation as ECUSA, even if he disagrees with the actions of the 2003 General Convention and will work to see that it stays in the Anglican Communion.

As a future clergyman in the Diocese of SW FL, consider this my public pledge to abide by and support the Windsor Report recommendations, as outlined in Bishop Lipscomb's remarks.

Please also consider this my public condemnation of the hurtful words spoken by Mr. Spangler at the AAC rally. This is not a war, folks. We are not enemies. It is not John Adler vs. John Lipscomb or even AAC vs. Via Media. We are all in this together, as the Body of Christ! Woe to us if we trod the path which leads to that life-giving and grace filled belief being forgotten!

AAC and Via Media, and everyone else who this concerns - please don't make me choose. I am not in this business to choose. I am not in this business to pit people against one another, but to bring them together the best way that I know how to do. So, please don't make me choose. Because if I have to choose, as I have said before, I will choose to stand with ECUSA so long as it stands with and in the Anglican Communion. Should it walk apart, I will stand with the Anglican Communion. I may grow to be a dissenting member thereof, (indeed it seems I am moving towards that) but a member nonetheless. I submit this in a humbled spirit.

Faithfully,
-R

(1) comments

Tuesday, August 02, 2005


Returned! 

I am returned, though you did not know I was gone save by my absence of postings. A month and a half or so ago, my father and I concocted a plan to have me fly in to FL to join my family for our bi-annual timeshare week at Vero Beach. I was a surprise to everyone but my Dad. My brothers, Mom, Grandma, cousin, and aunt and uncle were all quite shocked to see me and it was hilarious. I had a nice, long weekend, took in probably a few too many rays, drank my share of margarita, and body surfed to my heart's content (and that while keeping out a sharp eye for sharks, which have been doing their part to keep the tourist population in FL down over the past few weeks). When I got back, I had no less than three surprising emails, some good, some not so good, that I need to turn to now, but I did want to pop on here and say that I had not given up the ghost.

-R

(2) comments

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?