Archive for the ‘St. Gregory the Great Episcopal Church Athens Georgia’ Category

Time to Switch Gears   Leave a comment

Above:  Spur Gear

Image in the Public Domain

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For more than a month I have focused on blogging about saints with feast days in August and late July.  I have, since I commenced blogging about saints with feast days in July, been writing and publishing hagiographies for more than three months, including some time off, to publish already-drafted lectionary-based devotions at LENTEN AND EASTER DEVOTIONS.

Certain activities edify me spiritually.  Worshiping as a member of my congregation (St. Gregory the Great Episcopal Church, Athens, Georgia) helps to ground me.  Serving (usually two Sundays a month) as a Eucharistic minister is meaningful to me, for I have, since my childhood as a United Methodist in rural southern Georgia (with infrequent Communion), felt closest to God when taking Communion.  Thus partaking of the Eucharist is crucial to my religious life.  Teaching Sunday School is a vocation I enjoy greatly.  Preparing hagiographies deepens my faith, for the lives of saints help me learn how to be a better Christian.  Studying the Bible with my intellect and spirituality fully engaged is also essential.

Above:  My Desk, Saturday, July 7, 2018

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

Translations, from left to right:  TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985), The New American Bible (1991), The New Jerusalem Bible (1985), The New Revised Standard Version (1989), and The Revised English Bible (1989)

Reality requires me to choose my focus on one blogging project at a time.  I choose to focus next on drafting (in a composition book) devotional posts (based on Year A of the four-year lectionary by the Reverend Will Humes) for the Season after Pentecost 2019 at ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS.  The process of drafting these twenty-six posts (eleven of them already composed) should require just a few more days to complete, but the methodical and non-continuous process of updating ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS, scheduled to commence this summer, will properly end in early December.  Matters of the calendar, as it stands in relation of the post-1969 church calendar in most of Western Christianity, have given me a head start; five posts I have published at ADVENT, CHRISTMAS, AND EPIPHANY DEVOTIONS and one I have published at LENTEN AND EASTER DEVOTIONS can, slightly altered, transfer to ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS, bringing the count of new posts to thirty-two, not counting the six monthly guide posts (for June-November) and the new cap post (“Thank You for Visiting This Weblog”), intended to be temporary, deleted after a year or so.  That will be thirty-nine new posts, offset slightly by the deletion of the current cap post and the monthly guide posts for 2018.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have made plans for renovating the September portion of my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.  Stage One, complete, was to edit extant posts, sometimes changing feast days.  Stage Two, also complete, was to prepare a list (in pencil) of people to consider adding to my Ecumenical Calendar, as well as posts to rewrite.  I have decided to write about saints with feast days in September between periods of working on ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS and BLOGA THEOLOGICA, on which I work in tandem with the lectionary-based devotional weblogs.

From time to time I will post here at SUNDRY THOUGHTS for other reasons also.

Until later….

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 8, 2018 COMMON ERA

PROPER 9:  THE SEVENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST

THE FEAST OF GERALD FORD, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND AGENT OF NATIONAL HEALING; AND BETTY FORD, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND ADVOCATE FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE

THE FEAST OF ALBERT RHETT STUART, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF GEORGIA AND ADVOCATE FOR CIVIL RIGHTS

THE FEAST OF GEORG NEUWARK, GERMAN LUTHERAN POET AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF GIOVANNI BATTISTA BONONCINI AND ANTONIO MARIA BONONCINI, ITALIAN COMPOSERS

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July 12, 2018

Above:  Composition Book

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

I have completed the process of drafting new posts for ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS.

The drafts, which I plan to publish in installments between this month and early December, fill the space between the bookmarks in the composition book in the photograph above.

KRT

July 12, 2018

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Feast of St. Zacchaeus (August 20)   Leave a comment

Above:  Zacchaeus in the Tree, by William Hole

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT ZACCHAEUS

Penitent Tax Collector and Roman Collaborator

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Height was not his only shortcoming.

–J. Neil Alexander, Episcopal Bishop of Atlanta, on Zacchaeus, at Saint Gregory the Great Episcopal Church, Athens, Georgia, a Few Years Ago

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The Gospel of Luke, half of Luke-Acts, is a well-organized theological work.  One theme in it is the reversal fortune, as in the Beatitudes and Woes (6:20-26), as well as other passages.  Given the structure of the text, the story of Jesus and St. Zacchaeus (19:1-10) stands in continuity with previous passages, including 18:9-27.  I encourage you, O reader, to reread these passages carefully before reading what I have written in the following paragraphs, for I cannot tell the story better than Luke 19:1-10 does.

The narrative from Luke 19 is quite interesting.  It is an account of a literal tax thief–a man who had purchased the contract to collect taxes from his fellow Jews to finance the Roman occupation, as well as his lavish lifestyle.  Luke 19:1-10 is the story of a man who, having exploited his neighbors, had become prosperous, but recognized his spiritual emptiness and sought a way out of that life.  This is an account of Jesus, who wanted to help him escape to a life that did not entail exploiting people.  This is the story of a man who volunteered to give half his wealth to help the poor (contrast this with the man in Luke 18:18-23) and to pay a restitution rate of 400% when the Biblically mandated rate for restitution for fraud was 120% (Leviticus 6:5).  (400% was the rate of restitution for sheep or a sheep.)

Some dubious traditions regarding St. Zacchaeus exist.  According to one, he became the Bishop of Caesarea.  On the really sketchy end of the spectrum is the story that he married St. Veronica, traveled to Gaul, and became a hermit also known as St. Amator/Amadour, buried at Rocamadour.

I, as a student of the Bible, sometimes wonder what happened next after reading a story.  The narrative continues by following a different character or set of characters, and never again mentions the character or characters really interesting to me.  St. Zacchaeus is one of these characters.  The narrative in Luke moves along into the pivotal events of Holy Week.  I still wonder about the subsequent life of St. Zacchaeus, though.  It suffices that St. Zacchaeus and his community were never the same after that crucial day.  It is enough that shalom came to town.

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Loving God, who rejoices when sinners repent,

we thank you for the good example of your servant Saint Zacchaeus,

who, in turning his back to his sins, found peace with you, his neighbors, and himself.

May we, by grace, erect no barriers between ourselves and you,

erect none between others and you,

and rejoice when you establish shalom.

May we, by grace, be agents of shalom.

In the Name of God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Leviticus 6:1-7 (Protestant versification)/5:20-26 (Jewish, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox versification)

Psalm 15

Philippians 2:1-11

Luke 19:1-10

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 22, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALBAN, FIRST BRITISH MARTYR

THE FEAST OF DESIDERIUS ERASMUS, DUTCH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, BIBLICAL AND CLASSICAL SCHOLAR, AND CONTROVERSIALIST; SAINT JOHN FISHER, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC CLASSICAL SCHOLAR, BISHOP OF ROCHESTER, CARDINAL, AND MARTYR; AND SAINT THOMAS MORE, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC CLASSICAL SCHOLAR, JURIST, THEOLOGIAN, CONTROVERSIALIST, AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF GERHARD GIESCHEN, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT PAULINUS OF NOLA, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF NOLA

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Spiritual Life Movie Series of 2018   Leave a comment

Above:  Church Sign, Saint Gregory the Great Episcopal Church, Athens, Georgia, April 22, 2018

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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In late 2014 the Spiritual Life Committee of my parish asked me to revive the dormant movie series at church.  I accepted, obviously, and relaunched it in January 2015.   Serving as director of this series has entailed showing ten movies each year, usually on the last Friday of each month from January to October.  Twice I have had to screen the movie for March on the penultimate Friday, for the last Friday has been Good Friday.  During the last two years I have dug deeply into the classics.

The selections for the 2018 series follow:

  1. January–Bicycle Thieves (1948),
  2. February–Casablanca (1942),
  3. March–The Navigator:  The Medieval Odyssey (1988),
  4. April–The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976),
  5. May–The Maltese Falcon (1941),
  6. June–Regarding Henry (1991),
  7. July–The Natural (1984),
  8. August–The Magnificent Seven (1960),
  9. September–The Verdict (1982), and
  10. October–Driving Miss Daisy (1989).

I choose not to screen a movie on the last Friday of November or December, due to Thanksgiving in November and the Christmas-New Year time in December.

If you, O reader, are of a mind to watch quality movies in search of spiritual lessons, I suggest these selections for your consideration.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 16, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF GEORGE BERKELEY, IRISH ANGLICAN BISHOP AND PHILOSOPHER; AND JOSEPH BUTLER, ANGLICAN BISHOP AND THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF JOHN FRANCIS REGIS, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

THE FEAST OF NORMAN MACLEOD, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER; AND HIS COUSIN, JOHN MACLEOD, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, LITURGIST, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF RUFUS JONES, U.S. QUAKER THEOLOGIAN AND COFOUNDER OF THE AMERICAN FRIENDS SERVICE COMMITTEE

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Beauty for the Sake of Beauty   Leave a comment

Above:  From the Grounds of Saint Gregory the Great Episcopal Church, Athens, Georgia, April 29, 2018

Photograph by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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One needs no excuse to share a photograph of natural beauty.  Daily one might witness much political and cultural ugliness, much of it consisting of self-inflicted injuries.  Nevertheless, natural beauty surrounds us constantly.  We should notice it, thank God for it, and perhaps even take some occasional pictures of it.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 30, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JAMES MONTGOMERY, ANGLICAN AND MORAVIAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JAMES EDWARD WALSH, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY BISHOP AND POLITICAL PRISONER IN CHINA

THE FEAST OF JOHN ROSS MACDUFF AND GEORGE MATHESON, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN MINISTERS AND AUTHORS

THE FEAST OF SARAH JOSEPHA BUELL HALE, POET, AUTHOR, EDITOR, AND PROPHETIC WITNESS

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More Saints Coming Soon: July Edition   Leave a comment

Above:  July

From Gleason’s Pictorial, July 15, 1854

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-USZ62-42800

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I am preparing to return to the renovation of my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days in a few days, picking up where I left off in February.

I have been working on other blogging projects, including some I have yet to publish.  I have, for example, drafted the new posts for LENTEN AND EASTER DEVOTIONS, a weblog I am waiting until late May to begin renovating and updated, due to May 20 being the Day of Pentecost, the last day that weblog covers.  I have also renovated and updated ADVENT, CHRISTMAS, AND EPIPHANY DEVOTIONS.  Along the way I have also added to BLOGA THEOLOGICA methodically.

My renovation of my Ecumenical Calendar has followed a deliberate plan–to start with posts for January 1 and work chronologically.  I have, however, made three exceptions–for December 26, 27, and 28–due to the renovation and updating of ADVENT, CHRISTMAS, AND EPIPHANY DEVOTIONS.  So far I have renovated the January, February, March, April, May, and June sections of my Ecumenical Calendar, changing dates on many posts, deleting others, replacing many of the deleted posts with better entries, and adding “new” saints to the calendar.  I have prepared a two-page-long list of names for July.  Some of these are posts to redo, but many will be new to my Ecumenical Calendar.

I admit to having competing and frequently mutually exclusive interests.  For example, I relish lectionary-based Bible study, which I carry out in preparation for the Sunday School class I teach at St. Gregory the Great Episcopal Church, Athens, Georgia, and at more than one of my weblogs.  I also enjoy reading and writing about lives of holy people.  I find, however, that sometimes I am “in the zone” for Bible-based blogging but not for lives of the saints, and visa versa.  So I listen to myself.

For your information, just in case you, O reader, are interested, I do have longterm plans for my Ecumenical Calendar.  At present the maximum number of posts I assign per day is four.  A post might cover more than one saint, but I stack up no more than four posts per day, with some days blocked off for just one post.  Whenever I, having renovated the December portion of my Ecumenical Calendar, return to the January section again, I intend to stack up as many as five posts per day, and to apply that rule to the subsequent months.  I might go to six or more eventually.  There is no shortage of holy lives about which to read and write, after all.

Pax vobiscum!

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 13, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH BARBER LIGHTFOOT, BISHOP OF DURHAM

THE FEAST OF HENRI PERRIN, WORKER PRIEST

THE FEAST OF SAINT DAVID URIBE-VELASCO, MEXICAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINT ZENO OF VERONA, BISHOP

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The Joys of Reducing the Quantity of Possessions   Leave a comment

An Account of Deliberate and Purposeful Activity, as Well as Serendipity

I used to have a pattern:  I reduced the quantity of my possessions, accumulated too much again, and repeated the cycle.  One summer, years ago, for example, I sold about 1000 books to a family.  Then, over time, I build up my library again.  Then I needed to purge it again.  The trigger for it was helping a local hoarder who, quite frankly, offended and scared the hell out of me.  She was endangering her health and the health of her son; that offended me, for both of them deserved better, and her son did not ask for his circumstances.  Her excess inspired me to commence a material purge of staggering proportions, not that I was ever close to being as possessed by my possessions as she was.

During the subsequent years I have undertaken occasional, less dramatic acts of reducing my possessions.  Instituting the policy of reconsidering possessions throughout each year has been a wise decision.  This week, while searching for my digital camera (which I had forgotten I had left in my car), I spent much of a night emptying bookshelves and spraying and wiping them.  Along the way I filled two boxes with books to donate.  It was an unplanned act of weeding out my library, which remains relatively large, compared to the collections of many people.  Now I have reduced my library to about 700 volumes–about right for me.  My library used to be about 2,400 books.

I have begun to donate the weeded books.  I have given the Lutheran denominational histories to Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Athens, Georgia.  I have made plans to add the other volumes to the library at my parish, St. Gregory the Great Episcopal Church, Athens, where I serve as the librarian, tomorrow.

I have also reduced my wardrobe so that it fits into one medium-sized closet easily.

I have more than one reason for doing all this.  One is consideration for other people, especially those who will have to pack up and dispose of my possessions after my death, whenever that will happen.  Ideally they will be able to complete that task between breakfast and supper, with a break for lunch, in one day.  Other reasons are purely aesthetic and selfish.  I like seeing walls and floors.  I adore having empty surfaces.  I like being able to see almost all of my kitchen counter tops, for example.  If I own an object, it must occupy space.  Too much occupied space causes me stress.  As scripture says,

Life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.

–Luke 12:15, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

Indeed, too much abundance detracts from the quality of life.  Furthermore, excessive abundance proves burdensome.  Is freedom from such a burden not a virtue?

For now I am content with the volume of my possessions.  A year from now, assuming I will be alive (as I hope to be) then, I will probably have less in that category.  Maybe owning fewer books and movies will be a good idea.  The occasional reviews will continue.  Along the way I intend to keep what I use, what enriches me, and what I need, as well as to add that which I should add.  I also mean to continue to strive to follow the rule that, except in a month in which I move from one abode to another, the combined volume of that which I remove from my home and decide not to bring into should exceed the volume of what I bring into it.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 12, 2018 COMMON ERA

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Gratitude for Athens, Georgia   Leave a comment

Above:  The Dome of the City Hall, Athens, Georgia, August 5, 2009

Photographer = Carol M. Highsmith

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-highsm-04138

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Seeking reasons for gratitude to God is a daily activity; it is an easy one, fortunately.

During the last few days I have been thinking deeply about a subset of those reasons; I have been pondering reasons I am blessed to live in Athens-Clarke County, Georgia.  Many such reasons–too many to enumerate in a succinct blog post–have come to mind.

A few follow.

A visit to relatives in Americus, Georgia, followed shortly by a lecture at The University of Georgia (UGA), started me down this path.  Last Tuesday night I attended a lecture by Dr. Richard B. Miller, the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Professor of Religious Ethics at The University of Chicago Divinity School.  Miller spoke about St. Augustine of Hippo‘s concept of the common good and of its implications for today.  The full explanation of St. Augustine’s definition of sin as disordered love proved especially helpful.  As I listened and learned, I also thought about how fortunate I was to live in the town in which that event happened.  UGA, my relationship with which has been both positive and tumultuous, at different times, since 2005, made that lecture possible.

Indeed, I have may reasons to be grateful for and to UGA.  It creates a wonderful intellectual environment in Athens.  I care nothing about the athletics of a university, for the purpose of such an institution is supposed to be primarily educational, is it not?  The presence of UGA in Athens not only makes Athens what it is, but also makes me feel at home in this town, a colony of members of the intelligentsia.

I grew up in a series of United Methodist parsonages in small towns and communities in southern Georgia.  The intellectual atmosphere (not in the parsonage, of course) was generally lackluster, even anti-intellectual.  (Nevertheless, I do recall that sometimes even my father angrily rebuffed some of my attempts at academic discussions, especially of the Bible.  There was no good reason to fear Higher Criticism.  No philosophical meat grinder will grind up the truth, after all; the truth will break the meat grinder.)  I usually felt like an intellectual outcast and the resident heretic.  (Today I wear the label “heretic” with pride.  As churchy as I am, given the option of avoiding church or facing allegations of heresy in a congregation, I would choose the former.)  Politically and socially most of the neighbors were or seemed to be beyond conservative–reactionary, actually.  Many were openly and unapologetically racist.

Of course I gravitated toward the left side of the spectrum.  I have remained a man of the left, although I have, with greater frequency, found myself in rooms with people to my left–sometimes far to my left.  I have shifted slightly to the right in some ways, and far to the left (relative to my former position) in others.  Overall, I have continued to occupy a center-left position.  (I tend to be center-right in liturgical matters and to the left politically, socially, and theologically.  My unapologetic Western Classicism in music is prominent in my daily life.)  I have ceased to be the resident heretic, for (1) I worship with people, many of whom are to my left, and (2) I worship in a faith community where nobody accuses me of heresy.  Charges of heresy have usually come from the right, not the left, after all.  (This is why most ecclesiastical schisms occur to the right and the majority of church mergers happen on the left.  Tolerance and acceptance are antidotes to Donatism.)

St. Gregory the Great Episcopal Church has been my spiritual home since August 2005.  The parish has saved my life (in 2007) and become a means by which I offer gifts and talents to God.  I have, for years, curated a movie series, functioned as the librarian, and taught adult Sunday School, for example.  For nearly a decade I sang in the choir.  (I have many fond memories of that time.)  Although some people roll their eyes when I obsess over the proper arrangement of chairs, hymnals, and prayer books in the worship space, tending to that matter has long been something I have offered to God.  (I have come to long wistfully for pews.)  Also, the music has long been mostly excellent in the parish.  Last Sunday, for example, a string quartet performed at the 10:30 service and accompanied the choir during a performance of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart‘s Ave Verum Corpus.

As much as I enjoy visits to relatives in Americus, Athens is my place.  As much as I visit Calvary Episcopal Church, Americus, occasionally, and find my spot in a pew there comfortably, St. Gregory the Great Church is my place.  As much as I enjoy visiting Americus, I also enjoy returning to Athens.

I am also grateful for friends and acquaintances. all of whose privacy I respect in this post by preserving in this post by naming none of them.  Some of them have saved my life and seen me through difficult times.  I have also performed my sacred duty and helped one friend to the point of self-sacrifice.  If necessary, I would do it again, without hesitation.

I hope to reside in Athens for long time.  The possibility of leaving eventually remains, of course; I admit that doing so might be proper one day.  That hypothetical day is one I hope is far off, if it is extant.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 24, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF OSCAR ROMERO, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF SAN SALVADOR; AND THE MARTYRS OF EL SALVADOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT DIDACUS JOSEPH OF CADIZ, CAPUCHIN FRIAR

THE FEAST OF PAUL COUTURIER, APOSTLE OF CHRISTIAN UNITY

THE FEAST OF THOMAS ATTWOOD, “FATHER OF MODERN CHURCH MUSIC”

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