February 20, 2006

Ahh yes, President’s Day. The holiday nobody observes and/or cares about – sans, perhaps, furniture stores and auto dealerships. Perfect for cleaning out my own “oval office” desk after my vagabond existence for the past week and a half:

The mainstream media’s meltdown over the Veep’s hunting accident last week – as opposed to focusing on the truly bad stuff on our and the world’s pu-pu platter last week like this, this, and this, for example – revealed just how petty and out of touch they are. Look, I don’t hunt, but hell, you get a bunch of guys out in the great outdoors armed and hell-bent on killing poor, defenseless birds – aren’t accidents of this sort considered an occupational hazard? Mark Steyn, I think, has it right. (Hat tip: Polipundit).

The news that New Hampshire’s openly-gay Episcopal bishop V. Gene Robinson checked himself into a treatment clinic for alcoholism has resulted in both shameful accusations from liberals (hinting his drinking problem was at least exacerbated – if not outright caused – by conservative scrutiny and the resulting controversy over his election) and finger-wagging from conservatives (see, I told you so!). In a day and age where religions of all stripes are increasingly under attack from those in the secular media, can’t we as Episcopalians put aside our differences just once and simply express our concern and prayers for someone in need of God’s strength and care during a difficult time? Who was it who said, “he who is without sin cast the first stone”?

Is it just me, or is the Bush administration’s HSA proposal to turn security at six major U.S. ports over to an Arab company just plain dumb?

UPDATE 2/21/06: Now things are getting curiouser and curiouser. My friend Dona sent me this news item today. Could it be the Arab world’s attempt to infiltrate US ports with aliens – and I don’t mean the “illegal” kind – once they’ve taken control of them? 🙂 Just what my friend Pasquale (“LP”) needs – after hours perusing the UFO Filer files this will send him completely over the edge!

UPDATE 2/21/06 (15:26 MST): OK, OK, so I got it wrong – sorry Dona, thanks TKO. I see now, the UAE is taking over our ports, we’re building them a spaceport. Besides, the Prez was just quoted as saying he’s right on this, and will fight to the death – even with a veto if Congress objects – to protect the UAE’s parent company’s right to run the ports. And now Hillary has moved to the right on the Prez on this?. Man, the whole world is going to you-know-where in a you-know-what. Sigh….

Glad to hear about Jerry Remy’s election to the Red Sox Hall of Fame. The RemDawg’s rocket-like ascent from solid second-baseman to cultural sports icon has been nothing short of amazing; I think Red at Surviving Grady sums it up best as to why:

…Utterly invaluable to each and every game. Sends us all home with big goofy grins and mussed-up hair, even if the Sox got shellacked. I’ll be honest: They could have anyone from Mitt Romney to The Pussycat Dolls working the Red Sox play-by-play [note to NESN: Feel free to pull out that last one for “sweeps week”] and I’d still watch the games with a fervor usually reserved for church-going or slamming Jaegermeister shots with teenaged Russian chicks. But in my mind, the presence of Jerry Remy turns each game into a religious experience. There’s a reason a little part of our hearts withers and dies with every national Sox broadcast: absence of Remy.

Finally, R.I.P. Curt Gowdy, who has passed away at the age of 86. What Boston-area baby boomer didn’t grow up with Curt and his easy way of delivering baseball games and commercials? l can still hear him saying, “Hi neighbor, have a ‘Gansett!’

Filed in: Golf & Sports,Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 13:29 | Comment (1)
February 18, 2006

Made it up here to Massachusetts so I could experience what real winter feels like. It’ll be goin’ down to 8 degrees tonight, something I guess they’d call a “three dog night” up in these parts…

Spent today with my friend Pasquale (“Little PC”) in Boston’s famous North End for some veal and a nice dago red at Pagliuca’s. Kudos afterwards to the lovely “Barracuda” at the Neptune Oyster Bar, where we were served a lovely apperitivo of a Prosecco, a Harpoon IPA, and three littlenecks on the half shell. Yumm! ….Gotta love an eating establishment where you have to have a nickname to be a part of the organization. Just like in the Nation!

Tomorrow, it’s back to the dust and desert of the Great American Southwest. Blog ya then!

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 16:41 | Comments Off on In the Great White North
February 16, 2006

UPDATE 2/16/06: OK, OK, so I may have been a little – a little – rough on the Episcopal Bishop of Kentucky Ted Gulick in my original post (below). Since both my mom and my dear friend Dona expressed their, um… disappointment with the original verbiage, and I trust their sense of fairness and good taste implictly, I have, in the spirit of congeniality, fellowship, and world peace chosen to take the high road and deleted that particular portion of my original rant for posterity’s sake. There, I feel better already.

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 17:09 | Comments (2)

It promises to be a busy next few weeks on the reading front:

Jimmy Buffett’s A Salty Piece of Land; another fun, sun-soaked Caribbean tale of nothing really – perfect to sip foo-foo drinks by and extend for a short while longer the karma of the Goodboys’ recent “Vegas Vacation”.

Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer; sounds like an intriguing 19th century detective story.

And, with Lent just around the corner, a couple of religious titles perfect for contemplation as well: The New Faithful: Why Young Adults Are Embracing Christian Orthodoxy, and, in a more classical vein: Catherine of Genoa: Purgation and Purgatory, The Spiritual Dialogue.

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February 14, 2006
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February 12, 2006

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February 9, 2006

…listened to George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass on the way to work this morning and, while listening to his beautiful song “I Live For You”, was struck by just how much the lyrics seem reflective of my own relationship with God, those I love, and the world I find myself a part of at this time:

All alone in this world am I
Not a care for this world have I
Only you keep my eyes open wide
Yes it’s true
I live for you

Not a thing in this world do I own
Only sadness from all that is grown
In this darkness I wait for the day
Yes it’s true
I live for you

For many years I wait
For many tears I wait

All this time my thoughts return to you
Give my love that is all I can do
Wait in line till I feel you inside
Yes it’s true
I live for you

For many years I wait
For many tears I wait

If indeed the “you” in Harrison’s lyric is God (which, from his other writings at the time, I believe to be so), the aching sense of desire, longing, sadness, and frustration he expresses are so real, and so heartfelt, that I find myself strangely comforted to know that my own place and time with God and the world I live in is something that can be so articulated for me and thus shared with it.

The contradictions of longing and desire to feel God’s Presence and the sober realization that patience and trust in God’s will and intentions are what is needed most during times of trial are classic in the writings of Christian mystics and writers, two fine examples being St. John of the Cross’ Dark Night of the Soul and Thomas Green’s When the Well Runs Dry. These works are not simply based on psychology and human experience – after all, throughout the Old and New Testaments the same expressions sung by Harrison abound (the Psalms, and Jesus’ expression of abandonment on the Cross, to name two) to help us understand that part of being human will always result in times when God seems very far away and, hopefully, those times when God feels very close. Both Mother Teresa and Mother Angelica – no spiritual and mystical slouches, they – experienced periods of a sense of abandonment often in their lives and referred to them as a form of purification, believing that such times can be a healthy thing if it means replacing our innocent perceptions of God and the way His Church functions on earth with a healthy, sober realism that we are all sinners striving for perfection, completion, and a true peace and happiness that is unattainable in this life, yet promised to us in the next by God if we are willing to empty ourselves before Him and humbly serve Him in our time on this earth.

Spiritually, the last five years for me have been filled with an almost-suffocating darkness and emptiness following my bitter experiences with the Episcopal Church in Kentucky, and it is only recently that I have the slightest hint that this period of trial may be finally beginning to lift. Harrison’s words in “I Live For You”, then, provide a source of hope for me and, I hope, those like me in a similar place. Thanks, George, for the lift – may God have mercy on your soul and all of us in this life trying to live their lives for “You”.

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 10:39 | Comments (2)
February 8, 2006

OK, I’ll admit it: I’m a big, BIG fan of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. I like her style; I like her presence. Heck, I’ll admit it – I like her looks. But, more than anything else, I like the way she talks: when she does, she says what she means and means what she says. If she were a golfer, she’d be a cross between Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods: intense, fearless, tough. If she was a Goodboy….well, she’d never be a Goodboy – she’s too learned, too responsible, too sober…

One of my favorite bloggers, The Anchoress, sums up Dr. Rice’s qualities in a way I could never do better:

Serious. Succinct. Direct. Lucid. There is no doubletalk, no shading. There are no codes, no winks and nods. No vague, empty sentences that leave room for “re-interpretation” and spin.

And yet, still graceful, even feminine. Still self-possessed and self-assured. Clearly intelligent. Clearly in command, clearly respected, and yet cool and detached. There is nothing harsh, nothing shrill. Nothing preening. Nothing to disrupt or distract from the matter at hand.

This is quiet courage and reassuring strength. Dignity, actually.

…She appears to be the sort of woman who can, as the Irish like to say, “tell you to go to hell in such a way that you are looking forward to the trip.” And her words hold weight and credibility, except to the adolescent and feckless. I think when she quietly narrows her eyes, it speaks volumes, and it is understood.

When she talks, people on the international scene listen, which is why Syria and Iran ought to be paying very close attention to what she had to say today.

Afterthought: I often wonder why you never hear the Prez get any quarter from the NAACP, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, or any other left-of-center African-American politicos, even though he’s put African-Americans like Dr. Rice and Colin Powell in high-visibility roles where no African-American has ever gone before. In a society where young African-Americans are in such dire need of healthy role models, you’d think their political leaders – regardless of political philosphy – would at least acknowledge the advances that have been made in this regard and the efforts of the President of the United States in helping make such advances possible.

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