Archive for July 2019

The Joy of Lectionaries   1 comment

Orderly Reading of Scripture

SUNDRY THOUGHTS is the oldest of my eight weblogs.  Four of its spinoffs are ADVENT, CHRISTMAS, AND EPIPHANY DEVOTIONS; LENTEN AND EASTER DEVOTIONS; ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS; and the cleverly-named (with a nod to St. Thomas Aquinas) BLOGA THEOLOGICA.  I like to alternate between writing about saints and writing based on lectionary-based devotions.  The latter is the only Bible study method I have maintained for years–about a decade now.

I have already published new content for the complete church year that will begin in Advent 2019 at the first three spinoff weblogs listed above.  My thoughts have turned toward saints again, hence the drafting of new posts for saints with feast days in January.  My thoughts have also turned to lectionaries for church year 2020-2021 and later, due to my preference for planning.  I have written Years A and B of the Will Humes four-year lectionary, leaving Years C (2020-2021) and D (2021-2022).  And, at BLOGA THEOLOGICA, I have written all but a little of the now-abandoned, two-year lectionary from the Presbyterian Book of Common Worship–Provisional Services (1966).

With half of the Humes lectionary behind me and the Presbyterian lectionary of 1966-1970 accomplished, I have a plan for the next few years:

I will complete the Humes lectionary by writing Years C and D at the three devotional weblogs I key according to date and copy and paste those posts into BLOGA THEOLOGICA, also.

After that, I will write the three-year lectionary (Sundays, mainly) of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, from the Lutheran Service Book (2006).  I will post at the three devotional weblogs I key according to date and copy and paste those posts into BLOGA THEOLOGICA, too.

For the next two yeas, at BLOGA THEOLOGICA, I will write the two-year lectionary found in A Book of Worship for Free Churches (The General Council of the Congregational Christian Churches in the United States, 1948).  Given the absence of collects in that volume, I will use the collects from the Book of Worship (Evangelical and Reformed Church, 1947).

Next, at BLOGA THEOLOGICA, I will write the two-year lectionary found in The Book of Common Worship (Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., 1946).

I invite you, O reader, to visit these weblogs and find much useful reading.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 29, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS MARY, MARTHA, AND LAZARUS OF BETHANY, FRIENDS OF JESUS

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My Tenth Anniversary of Blogging   6 comments

Above:  Kappa, the Tenth Letter of the Greek Alphabet

Image in the Public Domain

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SUNDRY THOUGHTS is a decade old today.

I created SUNDRY THOUGHTS on July 27, 2009.  I had little idea what I was doing.  I have, in fact, deleted the vast majority of early posts and spun off seven other weblogs–different channels, so to speak.  The content of this weblog has simultaneously improved and become less sundry.

The project that grew into my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days was one of the original purposes for creating SUNDRY THOUGHTS.  I recently (three weeks ago) completed the renovation of that Ecumenical Calendar.   That process took about two and a half years, on and off.  That stage completed, I will resume merely updating my Ecumenical Calendar–adding “new” saints and occasionally changing the dates of some feasts.

I also call your attention, O reader, to the episode guide to Starhunter (2000-2001, 2004-2005), one of my favorite series.  I delight in having filled a void after not finding a good episode guide online.

May you, O reader, find here much that is interesting, edifying, and informative.

Pax vobiscum,

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 27, 2019 COMMON ERA

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Posted July 27, 2019 by neatnik2009 in Various Memories and Opinions

Happy to Be an Episcopalian   1 comment

Above:  The Flag of The Episcopal Church

Photograph by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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I have belonged to three denominations and chosen one.  When my parents were Southern Baptists, so was I.  Likewise, in 1980, when my father left the ordained ministry of the Southern Baptist Convention for that of The United Methodist Church, I became a United Methodist at the age of seven years.  Thus, in June 1980, our family moved from Newington, Georgia, where he had been pastor of North Newington Baptist Church, and settled in the parsonage in Vidette, Georgia.  He served as the minister of the Vidette, Friendship, and Greens Cut congregations in Burke County.  In the ensuing years, I took the grand tour of rural southern Georgia.  My initial spiritual formation occurred within the context of rural Southern United Methodism, a different creature from United Methodism as it exists in much of the rest of the United States and the world.

Yet I have always had an inner Catholic.  The sacraments, central to my faith, were too infrequent in those rural United Methodist churches.  My attraction to the Deuterocanon (what many call the Apocrypha) asserted itself, also.  Furthermore, my interest in history, and therefore, in ecclesiastical history, made me an outlier in the congregations my father served.  Church history, as it existed in those places, started with Jesus, ran consistently through the Apostles, jumped to the Crusades, jumped again to Martin Luther, ran forward, and really started sprinting with John and Charles Wesley.  That version of church history left many gaps.

In the autumn of 1991, I started my studies at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, Tifton, Georgia.  I started attending services at St. Anne’s Episcopal Church, Tifton, on the Sunday after All Saints’ Day.  On December 22, 1991, Bishop Harry Woolston Shipps confirmed me.  I remained in the Diocese of Georgia through 2005, belonging to the following congregations:

  1. Christ Episcopal Church, Valdosta, Georgia (1993-1996),
  2. St. Thomas Aquinas Episcopal Church, Baxley, Georgia (1996-1998),
  3. Christ Episcopal Church, Cordele, Georgia (1998-2001),
  4. Trinity Episcopal Church, Statesboro, Georgia (2001-2003), and
  5. Christ Episcopal Church, Dublin, Georgia (2003-2005).

I have worshiped as a member of St. Gregory the Great Episcopal Church, Athens, Georgia, in the Diocese of Atlanta, since August 2005.

I have enjoyed the liberty of being a layman and the pleasure of belong to congregations that respect scholarship and encourage the asking of questions.  My father, as a pastor, censored himself; he made honest theological statements at home he dared not utter from a pulpit.  I did not feel free to ask certain questions in those churches.  In Episcopal churches, however, I have asked questions freely and heard priests utter statements (not all of whom I agreed with) that would have gotten my father into great trouble.  The threshold for offending people was low in his case; my father once offended people by supporting the Martin Luther King, Jr., federal holiday.  That position contributed to us moving.  On another occasion, he upset a parishioner by preaching that Jesus had a sense of humor.  He had allegedly insulted her Jesus.  The District Superintendent did not take the complaint seriously, fortunately.

Many of my statements on my weblogs, such as this one, would have cooked my goose in those churches.

So be it.  I refuse to back down from my Catholic tendencies and my acceptance of Single Predestination.  I refuse to back down from my support of civil rights (and not just based on skin color), of Biblical scholarship, and science.

I am where I belong–in The Episcopal Church.  Thanks be to God!

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 25, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JAMES BAR-ZEBEDEE, APOSTLE AND MARTYR

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Nobody Should Be Above the Law.   Leave a comment

The following two statements are principles I affirm:

  1. Nobody should be above the law, and
  2. Mercy should temper justice.

In other words, sometimes mercy on a person, such as a battered woman, should mitigate how one handles a technical violation in the judicial system.  Making someone more of a victim is unjust.

Even though Boo Radley attacked Bob Ewell in defense of the children, the sheriff made the correct decision by declaring that Ewell fell on his own knife.

Justice also conquers cynical abuses of power and dismissal of objective reality as “fake news” and of honest, legal investigations by men of sterling character as “witch hunts.”  In the United States of America, nobody should be above the law.  The legal theory of the President as a unitary executive above the law, which found a home in the White House during the administration of George W. Bush, thrives again.  The theory is inherently specious.

Nobody should be above the law, but, practically speaking, some people are.  I refer to cases that tug at the heartstrings–cases in which arresting and/or prosecuting people would be to victimize victims further–but to the powerful who, through their perfidy and corruption, damage lives and societal and political institutions, who undermine republics, and seek to evade the proper consequences of their actions.

In the United States, a sufficient number of people can hold them to account via constitutional and legal means.  May they do so.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 25, 2019 COMMON ERA

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Eucharistic Ministers   3 comments

Above:  A Clip from The Episcopal Church in Georgia, December 1997

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I have been a (Lay) Eucharistic Minister (the “Lay” part of that title is redundant) in The Episcopal Church since 1997, with a brief interruption after I transferred from the Diocese of Georgia into the Diocese of Atlanta, in late 2005.  I have been a LEM/EM in the following congregations:

  1. St. Thomas Aquinas Church, Baxley, Georgia;
  2. Christ Episcopal Church, Cordele, Georgia;
  3. Christ Episcopal Church, Dublin, Georgia; and
  4. St. Gregory the Great Episcopal Church, Athens, Georgia.

I do not recall having ever served in this capacity at Trinity Episcopal Church, Statesboro, Georgia, at which I worshiped from August 2001 to December 2003.  I do remember habitually attending the early, quiet service, followed by Sunday School, then going home, eating brunch, and resuming my studies.  (I was in graduate school.)

Most of the time (1996-1998) I was a member at St. Thomas Aquinas Church, Baxley, the congregation had Eucharist every other Sunday, for we shared a priest with St. Matthew’s Church, Fitzgerald, a few counties away.  We LEMs assisted at Eucharists, of course.  Every other Sunday, when Father Basinger was in Fitzgerald, two of us presided over Morning Prayer, a beautiful ritual displaced in the 1960s and 1970s, when Eucharist became the default service.  (Morning Prayer does come with the option of celebrating Eucharist, though.)

I took this responsibility seriously, and planned accordingly.  For example, one week, I noticed that the lectionary readings for the upcoming Sunday were about forgiveness of sins.  I consulted Morning Prayer Rite II in The Book of Common Prayer and selected the two canticles.  The first canticle was a prayer for forgiveness.  The second canticle thanked God for forgiveness.

Officially, The Episcopal Church does not attempt to explain how Jesus is present in the consecrated bread and wine; it merely affirms his presence in the elements.  My position is the Roman Catholic one:  transubstantiation.  Most months, at St. Gregory the Great, I distribute consecrated wine two Sundays.  I tell people that the wine is

The blood of Christ, the cup of salvation.

I mean it literally.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 15, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BONAVENTURE, SECOND FOUNDER OF THE ORDER OF FRIARS MINOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT ATHANASIUS I OF NAPLES, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF DUNCAN MONTGOMERY GRAY, SR.; AND HIS SON, DUNCAN MONTGOMERY GRAY, JR.; EPISCOPAL BISHOPS OF MISSISSIPPI AND ADVOCATES FOR CIVIL RIGHTS

THE FEAST OF SAINT SWITHUN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF WINCHESTER

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Contemptible   Leave a comment

Donald Trump is contemptible.  His contempt for the freedom of the press is old news.  His racism, xenophobia, misogyny, and nativism are also old news.  Now they are fresh news because of some more tweets directed at women of color (almost all of them native-born citizens, so how can they go back where they came from?) who disagree with him.  Trump thinks that real Americans agree with and support him.  “Real Americans, ” then, are a minority population.

I know the feeling of hearing that I am allegedly not a real American–not a real patriot, at least.  As I have written at this weblog, the administration is not the nation-state.  There is a higher loyalty–adherence to the highest ideals, such as toleration of peaceful dissent.  Official violations of that high ideal in the United States is at least as old as the Sedition Act of 1798.  Political labeling of the other side as unpatriotic, un-American, et cetera, is both old and current.  It is especially rampant during wartime, when peace activists become targets of jingoisitic attacks.  I take great offense at all suggestions that my peaceful dissent makes me less American, un-American, less patriotic, or unpatriotic.

I am convinced that, if Trump thought Congress would pass a modern-day counterpart to the Sedition Act of 1798, which criminalized, among other things, criticism of the President, he would push for it then sign the bill into law.  (Trump does like dictators, after all.  Life for him would be easier if he were one.)  Lindsey Graham would vote for the bill, too.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 15, 2019 COMMON ERA

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Objective Reality   Leave a comment

I live in a polarized, postmodern society in which many people want to have not only their opinions but their own facts, also.  This is shameful.  As Daniel Patrick Moynihan said, people are entitled to their opinions, not their own facts.  I, as a student of history, rely upon a body of objective evidence.  History, strictly speaking, is the interpretation of that evidence.  Interpretations vary, but the evidence remains.  To quote John Adams,

Facts are stubborn things.

Consider a recent news story from Boca Raton, Florida, O reader.

William Latson, the Principal of Spanish River Community High School, had an exchange with a parent in April 2018.  The topic of the exchange was the state mandate (dating to 1994) to teach about the Holocaust in Tenth Grade world history classes.  Latson told her that, at his high school, that one-day lesson was optional because some parents did not want their offspring to participate.  The anonymous mother replied,

The Holocaust is a factual, historical event.  It is not a right or a belief.

Latson answered her,

Not everyone believes the Holocaust happened and you have your thoughts but we are a public school and not all of our parents have the same beliefs so they will react differently.  I can’t say the Holocaust is a factual, historical event because I am not in a position to do so as a school district employee.

Latson has apologized and visited Holocaust Memorial Museum.

The Holocaust was real.  The Third Reich documented it thoroughly.  Survivors told their stories.  Soldiers who liberated death camps saw the evidence.

The Holocaust should fill every human being with moral revulsion.

The unwillingness to admit something documented so thoroughly speaks ill of those who either deny or minimize the Holocaust.

One of the main ideas in the study of history is that we do not have to respect every opinion.  We have no obligation to respect any opinion that depends on fallacies.  Whenever I can contradict someone’s opinion solely by reciting accurate, objective information, I encounter an opinion for which I properly have scorn.  Holocaust deniers and minimizers exist; the Internet amplifies their opinions, unfortunately.  I heap scorn upon them and their counterfactual and anti-Semitic opinions, as I should.

We cannot repeat the past, for time does not play on a loop.  We must, however, be careful not to repeat the mistakes of the past in different circumstances.  The first step is learning the proper lessons from the past.  We cannot do that as long as we confuse the categories of the objective and the subjective.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 9, 2019 COMMON ERA

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Best Wishes for Episcopal Congregations to Which I Used to Belong   Leave a comment

Above:  St. Thomas Aquinas Episcopal Church, Baxley, Georgia, December 2018

Cropped from a Google Earth Image

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I was part of the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia for nearly fourteen years.  On December 22, 1991, at St. Anne’s Church, Tifton, Harry Shipps, the Eighth Bishop of Georgia, confirmed me.  I moved to Athens, Georgia, and, by extension, into the Diocese of Atlanta, in August 2005.  Shortly thereafter, my membership transferred to St. Gregory the Great Episcopal Church, Athens.  I have been part of that parish since.  In the same length of time, from 1991 to 2005, I belonged to six congregations–four parishes and two missions:

  1. St. Anne’s Church, Tifton (1991-1993);
  2. Christ Church, Valdosta (1993-1996);
  3. St. Thomas Aquinas, Baxley (1996-1998);
  4. Christ Church, Cordele (1998-2001);
  5. Trinity Church, Statesboro (2001-2003); and
  6. Christ Church, Dublin (2003-2005).

I have, from time to time, checked on these congregations online.  The current rector of St. Anne’s Church, Tifton, was in high school and a fellow parishioner at Christ Church, Valdosta, when I was a student at Valdosta State University (1993-1996).  St. Anne’s Church, Tifton, and Christ Church, Valdosta, have added on to their facilities.  Christ Church, Cordele, a struggling mission when I belonged to it, has become a lively congregation.  Christ Church, Dublin, has also become more active since my departure for Athens.  The Rector of Trinity Church, Statesboro, just left for Charlotte, North Carolina, after she had served for about seventeen years.

Above:  St. Thomas Aquinas Episcopal Church, Baxley, Georgia, May 25, 2017

Cropped from a Google Earth Image

I have had little success in finding information at St. Thomas Aquinas Church, Baxley, online.  It, founded in 1982, was a small mission when I was part of it.  I poured myself into that church.  I served on the Mission Council and as Junior Warden. I redecorated two of the rooms.  I began to serve as a Lay Eucharistic Minister in the Diocese of Georgia, and to lead Morning Prayer, for we shared a priest with St. Matthew’s Church, Fitzgerald.  We had Holy Eucharist every other Sunday.  The internal arrangement of the building has never left my memory.

I remember the way the worship space looked in 1996 and how it changed in for the better.  I recall that the building, constructed for another congregation of another denomination, had a baptistry behind the high altar.  I remember work to hide the baptistry, expand the altar area, add new railings, and replace the aging red carpet with green carpet.  I also recall the redecoration of the altar space (the sanctuary, properly) to look good, as if someone cared.  I remember that we did care.

A few days ago, on the website of the Diocese of Georgia, I read of the impending sale of the building.  The congregation, with an Average Sunday Attendance of thirteen, has moved in with St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church.

Above:  St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church, Baxley, Georgia, May 2014

Cropped from a Google Earth Image

The first Episcopal Eucharist in that building will be at 6:00 p.m. today.  This occasion marks the opportunity for rebirth.

St. Thomas Aquinas Church has come full circle.  Prior to 1989, when it moved into its acquired building on the Golden Isles Parkway, the Episcopal congregation worshiped in the space of what was then St. Christopher’s Catholic Church.

I wish all the Episcopal congregations to which I used to belong well.  I pray each one will serve God as effectively as possible in its community and county.  I pray for St. Thomas Aquinas Church, Baxley, in particular.  The mission occupies a soft spot in my heart, although I will probably never live in Appling County again.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 7, 2019 COMMON ERA

PROPER 9:  THE FOURTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF JOSIAH CONDER, ENGLISH JOURNALIST AND CONGREGATIONALIST HYMN WRITER; AND HIS SON, EUSTACE CONDER, ENGLISH CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF FRANCIS FLORENTINE HAGEN, U.S. MORAVIAN MINISTER AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF SAINT HEDDA OF WESSEX, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINTS RALPH MILNER, ROGER DICKINSON, AND LAWRENCE HUMPHREY, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS, 1591

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Oh, the Irony!   Leave a comment

Chris Thile, host of Life from Here (formerly A Prairie Home Companion), said that the only soft and tender thing to come out of the City of New York was Donald Trump’s ego.  That soft and tender ego has long been on display.  Recently, when certain members of United States team at the Women’s World Cup expressed their opinions of him and said they would reject any invitation to visit the White House, the Big Blustery Baby criticized them for their lack of respect.  The irony was rich!  Trump has risen to high office primarily on his policy, which I summarize in the Anglo-Saxon expression,

Up yours.

No politician who builds campaigns on contempt (in Trump’s case, xenophobia, nativism, racism, et cetera) has a moral right to complain when people have contempt for him.  (Being the target of contempt comes with public office.  One who cannot stand the heat should stay out of the kitchen.  As Harry Truman said, anyone who wants a friend in Washington, D,C., should get a dog.) Trump could change his personality and respect people, but I am not holding my breath; I would die of asphyxiation.  He is reaping what he has sown and continues to sow.

I want the following statement to be clear:  I respect many people (including politicians) with whom I usually disagree.  I am a student of history; I respect many deceased people with whom I usually disagree.  Respect is something a person earns by having proper character.  As much as I have much respect for many people (living or deceased) with whom I usually disagree, I have little or no respect for many people (living or deceased) with whom I usually agree.  I strive to avoid being a partisan hack.

Here endeth the lesson.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 7, 2019 COMMON ERA

Feast of St. Zoticus of Constantinople (December 31)   1 comment

Above:  Roman Imperial Constantinople

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT ZOTICUS OF CONSTANTINOPLE (DIED CIRCA 350)

Priest and Martyr, Circa 350

St. Zoticus of Constantinople comes to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church in America.

St. Zoticus cared for the poor and the sick, and became a martyr.  He was a wealthy man in the service of Emperor Constantine I “the Great” (reigned 306-337).  In 330, when Constantine I moved the imperial capital to Constantinople (the former Byzantium), St. Zoticus also moved to Constantinople.  He became a priest and began to take care of poor people and orphans in his home.  Thus began a homeless shelter, built and maintained at least partially with imperial funds.  St. Zoticus objected to the customary practice by which the military drowned lepers.  He rescued the lepers and cared for them at the shelter.

Emperor Constantius II (reigned 337-361), an Arian, crossed theological paths with the orthodox St. Zoticus.  The immediate cause of the martyrdom of St. Zoticus, however, was much like that of the martyrdom of St. Laurence of Rome about a century earlier.  When Constantius II, assuming that St. Zoticus had used imperial funds to purchase luxury items, tried to claw back the funds.  St. Zoticus presented sick and homeless people.  Constantius II ordered the execution of our saint, dragged over stones, behind wild mules.

St. Zoticus agreed with St. Laurence, who asserted that the poor are the treasures of the Church.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 6, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHN WYCLIFFE AND JAN HUS, REFORMERS OF THE CHURCH

THE FEAST OF GEORGE DUFFIELD, JR.; AND HIS SON, SAMUEL DUFFIELD, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTERS AND HYMN WRITERS

THE FEAST OF HENRY THOMAS SMART, ENGLISH ORGANIST

THE FEAST OF OLUF HANSON SMEBY, LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

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O God, your Son came among us to serve and not to be served,

and to give his life for the life of the world.

Lead us by his love to serve all those to whom the world offers no comfort and little help.

Through us give hope to the hopeless,

love to the unloved,

peace to the troubled,

and rest to the weary,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 60

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