Saturday, January 13, 2018

Climate Change Forum IV Prayers


May this day be holy, good, and peaceful.
May the creative spirit of the universe
enliven us with hope.
May the nurturing spirit of the universe
compel us to care for creation - and each other.
May the valiant spirit of the universe
imbue us with the fortitude
to see the truth,
and the wisdom
to act upon it.

Followed by Song of the Three Young Men, Introduction and Part 1, Book of Common Prayer, 1979, 88-89.

Closing Prayer

Creator of science and of creativity itself,
we praise you and thank you for the insights of science.
Guide us into all truth and lead us in compassionate action.
Challenge us when we need to change our way of thinking - and of living.

For the sake of those facing rising temperatures, drought, and water shortages,
Creator, in your mercy,
restore and renew the world.

For the sake of those facing extreme weather events, disrupted seasons, and failed crops,
Creator, in your mercy,
restore and renew the world.

For the sake of those facing flooding, land loss, and salination of vital water supplies,
Creator, in your mercy,
restore and renew the world.

For the sake of all those who fear the changing climate,
Creator, in your mercy,
restore and renew the world.

For the poor, the vulnerable, and the refugee,
Creator, in your mercy,
restore and renew the world.

For the sake of us all, Creator, in your mercy,
re-create our hearts, that we might work together - to
restore and renew the world.

Climate-Change Forum IV – Credibility, Urgency & Caution
a continuation of “A Religious Response to Climate Change”
St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church, Tucson, Arizona
Smith Parish Center, 13 January 2018

Friday, December 29, 2017

climate change reading list: extreme weather

Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851)

Brown, Don. Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans. 2015.

Conrad, Joseph. Typhoon and Other Stories. 1902. 

Emanuel, Kerry A. Divine Wind: The History and Science of Hurricanes. 2005.

Kostigen, Thomas. Extreme Weather: Surviving Tornadoes, Sandstorms, Hailstorms, Blizzards, Hurricanes, and More! 2014.

London, Jack. "Typhoon off the Coast of Japan." San Francisco Call. 1893.

Miles, Kathryn. Superstorm: Nine Days Inside Hurricane Sandy. 2014.

Neufeld, Josh. A.D. New Orleans After the Deluge. 2010.

Parker, Bruce B. The Power of the Sea: Tsunamis, Storm Surges, Rogue Waves, and Our Quest to Predict Disasters. 2010.

Streever, Bill. And Soon I Heard A Roaring Wind: A Natural History of Moving Air. 2016.

Winchester, Simon. When the Sky Breaks: Hurricanes, Tornadoes, and the Worst Weather in the World. 2017.

Extreme Events. (Joseph Conrad) (Jack London) (J.M.W. Turner)

Supplementary reading list for Climate-Change Forum IV – Credibility, Urgency and Caution: a continuation of “A Religious Response to Climate Change” - Saint Michael and All Angels Church, Tucson Arizona, Saturday 13 January 2018.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Holy Land reading list


The Bible

Jerome Murphy-O’Connor, The Holy Land.  An Oxford Archaeological Guide from Earliest Times to 1700. 5th ed.  (Oxford University Press, 2008).

Suad Amairy - Sharon and My Mother-in-law: Ramallah Diaries (New York: Pantheon Books, 2005)

Hanan Ashrawi, This Side of Peace: A Personal Account (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1995)

Sari Nusseibeh, Once Upon A Country: A Palestinian Life (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007)

Simon Sebag MontefioreJerusalem: The Biography (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2011).

Ari Shavit, My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel (New York: Spiegel & Grau, 2013).

Raja Shehadeh - Palestinian Walks: Forays into a Vanishing Landscape (New York: Scribner, 2008)

Avi Shlaim - The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World (New York: W. W. Norton, 2001)

Sandy Tolan, The Lemon Tree: An Arab, A Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East (Bloomsbury, 2006).

Lawrence Wright, Thirteen Days in September: Carter, Begin, and Sadat at Camp David (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2014).


Translations of the Quran:

The Koran Interpreted  by A. J. Arberry 

Readings in the Quran by Kenneth Cragg


Arthur Green, Judaism’s Ten Best Ideas: A Brief Guide for Seekers (Woodstock VT: Jewish Lights, 2014)


Ibtisam Barakat, Tasting the Sky: A Palestinian Childhood (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007)

Amos Oz, A Tale of Love and Darkness (London: Vintage, 2005).

Donald Nicholl, The Testing of Hearts: A Pilgrim’s Journal (London: Lamp Press, 1989).


Laurie R. King, O Jerusalem (New York: Bantam, 1999)


Karen Armstrong, Jerusalem: One City, Three Faiths (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1996).

Martin Van Creveld, The Land of Blood and Honey: The Rise of Modern Israel (New York: Thomas Dunne/St. Martin’s Press, 2010).

Historical perspectives

Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East by Scott Anderson 

A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East by David Fromkin 

Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph by T. E. Lawrence

Josephus, The Jewish War (Penguin)

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The radioman's prayer

Lord of the Universe

Please, increase your transmission strength
here I
can’t hear, don’t know
if once again you’ve stuck a metal flower in the antenna’s lapel.
You’re so gentle. Why
are you so soft, why are you always

Can you hear me clearly, over.
Roger, you too sound cut off, you
sound amputated, you

Are in a valley, deployed three-sixty. Hills
and a different Sea of Galilee. Please
apprise me of your transmission strength, with radar
we can’t see your face, why
are you not on treads, why
are you not fighting, should we
send you a mechanized patrol, I
am full of faith
that it won’t arrive and won’t come back...

The radioman’s prayer by Be'eri Hazak, Israeli reservist who died along the Suez Canal in 1973. From Pumpkinflowers: A Soldier’s Story, by Matti Friedman (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2016)  p. 130-131, a memoir and investigative study of the Lebanon security zone held by Israel until 2000.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Longest Night

Last night Susan Karant-Nunn, professor emeritus at the University of Arizona, remarked to me that the one word that encapsulates Luther’s theology for her is Trost: Consolation, or Comfort.

Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.
Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.
The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

Isaiah 40:1-3

Luther was passionately concerned with bringing consolation to a people devoid of it, a people frightened into compliance by a misguided attempt at an economy of grace that had devolved, for him as for the people of his pastoral concern, into a buy-and-sell of indulgences and blessings. So he advocated with all the sternness and anger at his disposal, for disposal of that very system, and an assurance, so evident in his Christmas sermons, of the love of God for humankind, embodied in a helpless baby…

(See Martin Luther’s Christmas Book, edited by Roland Bainton, 1950)

From the Camaldolese Hermits of America based at New Camaldoli Hermitage I received this gift at Hallowe’en:

Faithful hearts should be allowed to grieve for their loved ones,
But with a grief than can be healed.
Let them shed their tears that can be wiped away,
Tears that can quickly be checked by the joy of faith.

From a Sermon by St. Augustine.

Friday, November 3, 2017

all souls

Tonight I could have watched some of my favorite comic book characters combine forces to achieve a victory over Death. It was the kind of arena-rock scale movie that requires big gestures, broad humor, and lots of noise. 

Instead I went to a requiem mass for all faithful departed, at my local Episcopal church. There were production values there too. Cordial neighbors, marvelous music, beautiful art, lovely building; in the midst of it was a man raising a piece of bread and saying, "This is my body."

And so in the midst of a remembrance of death, of a death in particular, came the gift of life.

As long as we have the story, the bread and wine, the water and oil, each other and the Spirit, we will be all right. 

(Herb O'Driscoll said that; he was right.)

In the midst of a celebration of death, a remembrance of the dead, and a solemn liturgy, a simple gesture reminded us: that in that very moment of perishing, of emptying out, of offering his very substance of life, the Christ Jesus did achieve a victory over death - a victory that was final. And has yet to be completed. As we have yet to be complete. For we are part of that victory. 

Not by bombast or melody, not by might or mousy self-erasure, but by a simple act of substance: a giving of ourselves commensurate with that victory: total.

And in the midst of it, amidst well-meaning neighbors and uncomfortable feelings breaking me out of the spell of the liturgy, I remembered my mother, who died this past August, reciting for me in June something surprising, a poem she must have learned as a little girl. It was a private smile to share amid the tragic solemnities:

Bean soup
tastes so bad
it makes me mad
when Mother gives
such stuff to me;

But when I pour it 
on the floor
I am as happy 
as can be.

When Mother spanks
I give her thanks 
for I know
'tis good for me.

Thanks, Mom.

All Souls' Day Mass and Reception 
The Commemoration of All Faithful Departed, also known as All Soul's Day, is this upcoming Thursday, November 2nd. At 7:00pm we will hold a Requiem Mass in memory of all those who have died. You can submit names of loved ones you would like to have remembered at this service by emailing Kelli at by Wednesday, November 1st. The Saint Philip's Staff Singers and the Canterbury Choir will perform Requiem for My Friend by Zbignew Preisner and In Paradisum by Eriks Esenvald, in what will be the Southern Arizona premiere for both works. Following the Eucharist there will be a reception hosted by the Parish Life Committee in the Perry Garden. Please don't miss this wonderful and moving service!  -- from the parish news, Saint Philip's in the Hills, October 26, 2017.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Remembering 5A

For some reason today as I think ahead to All Saints and All Faithful Departed (All Souls) observances later this week, what came to mind was my joy at seeing Eugene and his partner Frank years after I met them in the summer of 1977. Back then I was the 'file boy' as my neighbor Lamar Spencer so kindly put it, a GS-2 clerk-typist at the US Environmental Protection Agency Region Nine headquarters, in downtown San Francisco, at 100 California Street. Years later, after the AIDS epidemic had peaked, I saw them at a party - and was overjoyed. For years I had wondered if they survived, and there they were, and together.

In the meantime I had worked with the Rev. Canon William (Bill) Barcus, who served as the AIDS spokesman for the Bishop of California as long as he could. The last time I saw Bill he waved valiantly to me, hands full of groceries, from the sidewalk in the Castro, along upper Market Street, as I drove by.

And later I tried volunteering at San Francisco General Hospital, Ward 5A, which by then had taken over as the principal treatment center for AIDS patients.

This was well before the disease was fully understood and before more effective and affordable treatments became available.

What I remembered this morning was not the where or what - but the sudden sense of the loss of a whole generation of young men. Loss, and grief, and sorrow.

And some gratitude at their valiant hope - for others if not themselves - and patience.

And the love of others for those who suffered and whom we have lost.

Robert, Andy...