Sunday, January 15, 2017

EVENING PRAYER


Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love's sake. Amen.

(From Evening Prayer, Book of Common Prayer)

Just by happenstance, in the World Cycle of Prayer:

We pray for the people of United States.

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT


If you have health insurance under the ACA or the Affordable Care Act, which is the same thing, you are covered by Obamacare. If Republicans succeed in repealing Obamacare, you will lose your coverage under the ACA.

Monday, January 9, 2017

MERYL STREEP - MY HERO



It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter, someone he outranked in privilege, power, and the capacity to fight back. It -- it kind of broke my heart when I saw it. And I still can't get it out of my head because it wasn't in a movie. It was real life. 

 And this instinct to humiliate, when it's modeled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody's life, because it kind of gives permission for other people to do the same thing. Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incites violence. When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose. 
Meryl Streep is my hero, and not for the first time.  She said what needed to be said about President-elect Donald Trump in her speech at the Golden Globe Awards.  When Trump mocked reporter Serge Kovaleski's physical disability, he should have been shunned by everyone, including sane members of the GOP, and eliminated from the field of candidates.

When the tape of Trump boasting about assaulting women was released, his candidacy should have been finished, over, done, but that did not happen.

Trump invited his friend Putin to hack Hillary Clinton's email, and I don't recall a GOP outcry at the time.  The vast majority, if not all, Republican members of Congress endorsed Trump in the end. Putin followed through, hacked the Clinton campaign's email server, and interfered with the election.  Now, too little, too late, a few Republican leaders are "concerned".  That Trump is unfit to serve as president is obvious, but where were the sane Republicans who should have been speaking out forcefully against Trump for months and months?

Also, now that the election is over, Democrats are far too quiet about Trump's unfitness to suit me. The Democratic leadership, with some exceptions, seems overly focused on a smooth transition of power, but a smooth transition to what? Maybe the focus should be on the disastrous nightmare that will follow the smooth transition. WTF?

Friday, January 6, 2017

WATCH WHAT THEY DO


Paul Ryan blathers on about Obamacare...we'll repeal it this year, blah, blah, blah...we'll have a plan, blah, blah, blah....  Maybe they will, and maybe they won't, but ask yourself if the continuing conversation about Obamacare is perhaps a distraction from what the members of the GOP are actually doing in the House.  Remember this from early December?
Donald Trump’s transition team has issued a list of 74 questions for the Energy Department, asking agency officials to identify which employees and contractors have worked on forging an international climate pact as well as domestic efforts to cut the nation’s carbon output.

The questionnaire requests a list of those individuals who have taken part in international climate talks over the past five years and “which programs within DOE are essential to meeting the goals of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan.”  (My emphasis)
And then this from yesterday while Ryan was blathering about Obamacare.
House Republicans this week reinstated a procedural rule created in 1876 that allows lawmakers to cut the pay of individual federal workers down to $1, The Washington Post reported Thursday.

The Holman Rule allows members of Congress to propose amendments to appropriations bills that target specific government employees or programs in an effort to cut spending.
One wonders if the Trump transition team wanted the present Energy Department to name names and then later Congress will use the old procedural rule from 1876 to cut the salaries of the employees to $1 per year, under cover of cutting spending.  That would be the same as firing them.  Of course, once Trump is inaugurated, he will have access to all the information on the employees and contractors.

Will all efforts to reduce carbon output and lessen effects on the climate from fossil fuels both domestically and internationally come to an end?  The mischief we will see from the present unrestrained GOP Congress will go far beyond repealing Obamacare, which seems to be making its way to the back burner, because there is no plan to replace the ACA, and some Republican members are getting jittery.

As you listen to what Trump and the GOP say, watch what they do, because what they make the most noise about is sometimes no more than a distraction from the mischief the Republican Congress is already making.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told reporters this week that the Holman Rule gives Congress a chance to change how government works, something voters asked for when they voted for Trump.

"This is a big rule change inside there that allows people to get at places they hadn’t before,” he told reporters.
Indeed it is.  To paraphrase Dr Seuss, oh, the places they'll go.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

LORD, WHEN DID WE SEE YOU?

Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” 

(Matthew 25:35-40)
The Kingdom of God turns the present powers of the world upside down.  In God's Kingdom, the proud are scattered, the powerful are knocked from their thrones, the poor and powerless are lifted up, and the hungry are fed, as Mary proclaims in the Magnificat.  Mary's prayer is subversive, as is the entire story of Jesus' humble birth, after which the family was forced to flee as refugees to a foreign land to escape from Herod's wrath.  Jesus was born a Jew, and he died a Jew, and his teachings in the Gospel are rooted in the Jewish bible.

The work of building the Kingdom of God is for those of us who claim to follow the teachings of Jesus. In this new year 2017 the challenges are great, and we will have plenty of work to do.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

THAT'S HOW I BELIEVE


Collect - Christmas Day
O God, who makest us glad by the yearly remembrance of
the birth of thy only Son Jesus Christ: Grant that as we
joyfully receive him for our Redeemer, so we may with sure
confidence behold him when he shall come to be our Judge;
who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one
God, world without end. Amen.


(Book of Common Prayer)
A favorite passage from one of my favorite books is the quote below from Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited. Charles Ryder and Sebastian Flyte, two young Englishmen, meet at Oxford in the period between the two world wars. Charles is not a believer, and Sebastian is from an aristocratic Roman Catholic family. After they've been friends for a while, Sebastian brings up the subject of his faith and Catholicism. What follows is the dialogue between the two:
Sebastian: "Oh dear, it’s very difficult being a Catholic!"

Charles: "Does it make much difference to you?"

Sebastian: "Of course. All the time."

Charles: "Well, I can’t say I’ve noticed it. Are you struggling against temptation? You don’t seem much more virtuous than me."

Sebastian: "I’m very, very much wickeder," said Sebastian indignantly."

Charles: "… I suppose they try to make you believe an awful lot of nonsense?”

Sebastian: “Is it nonsense? I wish it were. It sometimes sounds terribly sensible to me."

Charles: “But my dear Sebastian, you can’t seriously believe it all."

Sebastian: "Can’t I?"

Charles: "I mean about Christmas and the star and the three kings and the ox and the ass."

Sebastian: "Oh yes. I believe that. It’s a lovely idea."

Charles: "But you can’t believe things because they’re a lovely idea."

Sebastian: "But I do. That’s how I believe."

I love the passage, because Sebastian describes how I believe, too. It's very much the stories, the myths (not myths in the sense of something that's not true - myths in the sense of universal truths) that are a great part of what draw me into Christianity.



A Blessed and Merry Christmas to all!

Reposted from 12/25/14

Sunday, December 18, 2016

PRESIDENT OBAMA'S FINAL PRESS CONFERENCE



After listening to part and reading the whole of the text of President Obama's final press conference, I came away thinking that his optimism seemed quaint, as if from another time quite different from the present.  I wondered if he truly felt optimistic, or if he stretched the truth a bit about his real feelings to lift the spirits of the people of the country so that we don't lose all hope.  Either way, I completely understand why he spoke as he did, and I admire him for doing so.  Of course, it's quite possible that, through it all, he remains what he's always been, a man of hope.

Obama has taken the duties of the presidency as seriously as any president in my lifetime and has been a steadying hand in the midst of difficult times.  He carried himself always with a dignity and composure that befitted the office of the president, and I admire greatly.  He is a mensch.  I'll surely not see his like in my lifetime.

The president's prepared statement at the beginning of the video, which is approximately eight and a half minutes long, is well worth watching or reading.  His final words:
So even in a season where the incredible blessings that we know as Americans are all around us, even as we enjoy family and friends and are reminded of how lucky we are, we should also be reminded that to be an American involves bearing burdens and meeting obligations to others. American values and American ideals are what will lead the way to a safer and more prosperous 2017, both here and abroad, and, by the way, if you embody those values and ideals like our brave men and women in uniform and their families.

So I just want to close by wishing all of them a very merry Christmas and a happy new year.
The Washington Post has the entire text of the press conference.

Friday, December 16, 2016

"BUCK UP, DEMOCRATS AND FIGHT LIKE REPUBLICANS"



Dahlia Lithwick of Slate and law Professor David S Cohen from Drexel University in The New York Times:
There's no shortage of legal theories that could challenge Mr. Trump'a anointment, but they come from outsiders rather than the Democratic Party. Impassioned citizens have been pleading with electors to vote against Mr. Trump; law professors have argued that winner-take-all laws for electoral votes are unconstitutional; small group of Hamilton Electors is attempting to free electors to vote their consciences; and a new theory has arisen that there is legal precedent for courts to give the election to Mrs. Clinton based on Russian interference, All of these efforts, along with grass-roots protests, boycotts and petitions, have been happening without the Democratic Party. The most we've seen is a response to the C.I.A revelations, but only with Republicans onboard to give Democrats bipartisan cover.
Clinton won nearly 3 million more votes than Trump. Trump won by 1% in Pennsylvania, but he received all 20 electoral votes, which disenfranchises the people who voted for her in the state and in all the other winner-take-all states. Why not support the Hamilton electors in the Electoral College in doing the job as described in The Federalist Papers #68? Why have the Electoral College at all if it's never to be used for it's proper purpose?
It was desirable that the sense of the people should operate in the choice of the person to whom so important a trust was to be confided. This end will be answered by committing the right of making it, not to any preestablished body, but to men chosen by the people for the special purpose, and at the particular conjuncture.
....

It was also peculiarly desirable to afford as little opportunity as possible to tumult and disorder. This evil was not least to be dreaded in the election of a magistrate, who was to have so important an agency in the administration of the government as the President of the United States. But the precautions which have been so happily concerted in the system under consideration, promise an effectual security against this mischief.
Tumult, disorder, and mischief abound in Trump's leadership and in his team. Democrats generally fight fairer according to Marquess of Queensbury-like rules and traditions, and Republicans take off the gloves and fight unbound by tradition and unwritten rules, which makes the fight assymmetrical, leaving Democrats at a disadvantage. As witness, during the writers' joint appearance on Chris Hayes' All In, Lithwick notes the 300 days the nomination of Merrick Garland languished in the Senate with no forward movement. Sorry, I can't get the embed link for the video to work, but you can try this link and look for the title Should Democrats act more like Republicans?.

If electors choose not to vote for Trump and write in another name besides besides Clinton, and no candidate receives the required 270 votes, the decision would go to the House of Representative. Of course, the majority will vote for Trump, but then the responsibility for the Trump presidency and its consequences will rest entirely in the hands of Republicans.

My post is not about laying blame for what's past, but rather about what Democrats do now. The electoral vote is on Monday, November 19, so there's very little time. Is there a way to stop the Putin-Trump co-presidency of the world?

Sunday, December 11, 2016

THIRD SUNDAY IN ADVENT - GAUDETE SUNDAY


Gaudete Sunday

The third Sunday of Advent in the Roman Catholic calendar of the church year. The term is derived from the Latin opening words of the introit antiphon, "Rejoice (Gaudete) in the Lord always." The theme of the day expresses the joy of anticipation at the approach of the Christmas celebration. This theme reflects a lightening of the tone of the traditional Advent observance. It was appropriate for the celebrant of the Mass to wear rose-colored vestments on this day instead of the deeper violet vestments that were typically used in Advent. This Sunday was also known as "Rose Sunday." This custom is not required in the Episcopal Church, but it is observed by some parishes with a traditional Anglo-catholic piety. This custom is reflected by the practice of including a pink or rose-colored candle among the four candles of an Advent wreath

Collect

Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come
among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins,
let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver
us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and
the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen

Psalm 63

O God, you are my God, I seek you,
   my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
   as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. 
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
   beholding your power and glory. 
Because your steadfast love is better than life,
   my lips will praise you. 
So I will bless you as long as I live;
   I will lift up my hands and call on your name. 

My soul is satisfied as with a rich feast,
   and my mouth praises you with joyful lips 
when I think of you on my bed,
   and meditate on you in the watches of the night; 
for you have been my help,
   and in the shadow of your wings I sing for joy. 
My soul clings to you;
   your right hand upholds me. 

But those who seek to destroy my life
   shall go down into the depths of the earth; 
they shall be given over to the power of the sword,
   they shall be prey for jackals. 
But the king shall rejoice in God;
   all who swear by him shall exult,
   for the mouths of liars will be stopped.



Lying abounds in our time and perhaps in all times, but it seems particularly acceptable today. Oh God, that the mouths of liars will be stopped!