Monday, March 30, 2015

Palm Sunday at Smokey Matt’s 

Before driving back home from a blessed visit to Denton, Dallas (The King’s College Choir concert with an old friend was blessed, but NOT the traffic.), and Pilot Point, I finally got to visit Smokey Matt’s for their Palm Sunday Solemn High Mass.

I say “finally” because I have not been able to visit in years.  Fr. Duncan was still the rector when I last visited.  Long time readers know I affectionately refer to this parish church as Smokey Matt’s because Fr. Duncan loved to use incense generously.  When I informed the current rector, Fr. Christopher Cantrell, of this before the main service, he remarked with some pride that he smokes things up more than ever.

The liturgy was of a high standard, of course, including my first outdoor Palm Sunday procession.  I know – shocking that I had not done a Palm Sunday procession before, and it was past time for that to be remedied.  It was pleasant weather for it, and I heartily enjoyed singing All Glory, Laud, and Honor as we processed around the front of the church holding our palm fronds.

During the Mass, particularly as I received, I felt a sense of gratitude and also of sorrow and of my own unworthiness as I reflected on the Passion. It is difficult to put into words, and I cannot recall feeling quite that way during Holy Communion.  As the sermon pointed out, Palm Sunday liturgy is jarring by design, moving quickly from the Triumphal Entry to the Passion of our Lord.  And it did jar me, as it should.

The parish has posted a number of photos from the procession and mass.

Afterwards, Fr. Cantrell asked if the use of incense lived up to the moniker of Smokey Matt’s.  I answered it did indeed.  He was quite pleased. :)

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

An excerpt from Pilot Point for Passion Week 

In many church traditions, including my traditional Anglican one, of course, this week is Passion Week, which focuses on the Passion of Christ.  It serves as good preparation for Holy Week, which begins this Palm Sunday.

I think this a good time to post the following excerpt from Pilot Point based on a location on Interstate 20.  For years, the Kendrick Religious Diorama portrayed Bible events, including the Passion.  And they placed on a mound just off the north side of I-20 in West Texas a freestanding portrayal of Jesus carrying his cross to remind people of Christ’s Passion and to make people aware of the diorama.

Here you may find some history concerning the Kendrick Diorama.  I’ve called a number I found to see if perhaps it has reopened.  But I received no answer.  So I guess it is still closed.  And, as it has been many years since I’ve driven that stretch of I-20, I do not know if any remains of the little statue remain on the mound.

Here is the passage in which the 13-year-old orphan Clayton Hays first sees the statue of Jesus in the midst of a dust storm.  Yes, this location is of significance to the novel more than once.  But I shall not say more.

Grains of sand blew away from him. He focused on them, following them until they disappeared. Then, he made out waves of dust and sand surrounding him. The waves blew past and away from him. He gazed at them, wave after wave. Soon, the sand blowing away from him looked to him like a tunnel of dust with never-ending walls. The walls of dust led to a point of nothingness. The point shifted around with the shifting wind. Laying his head against the seat, he kept gazing out his window at the dust blowing away from him in a tunnel of chaos. His mind drifted off with the dust. It seemed time and the world was being blown away past him into an infinity of dust.

         He was almost drifting off to sleep when something caught his eye. He lifted his head and saw something to the left of the road that he had noticed on drives before. But seeing it through the dust made it strange and haunting. He turned toward it. On the side of a rough, steep mound were large letters stuck into the soil. Clayton could make out “KENDRICK RELIGIOUS DIORAMA.”

         On top of the hillock was a lone small statue of Jesus. The statue was draped in a light blue tunic—light hues out of place in the brown darkness—and crowned with a garland of thorns. His eyes were fixed downward on the dark way ahead of him. He was walking weighed down, carrying a cross amidst a field of crosses.

         Wind and dust were whipping around him. And the cross was heavy. But, though burdened and weary, he did not totter or waver.

         The boy had seen many paintings and statues of Jesus, but this one was different somehow. This Jesus was so forlorn and windblown, and so alone, as he carried his cross. Seeing the lonely shadow of Jesus bowed over through the dust, it seemed he was carrying the whole weight of the dust storm as well.

         The dust thickened and obscured the lonely hillock, and Clayton could see it no more.

         Before, the boy had always thought the mound was overly religious. But now he was strangely moved by it. He stared back into the dust toward the veiled hill.

         He turned back forward in his seat and let his mind wander.


Pilot Point is available in both print and Kindle on Amazon.

This Friday and Saturday, I will be doing book signings for Pilot Point in Denton and in the town of Pilot Point itself.  The schedule is as follows:

Friday, March 27th
3-6pm    Recycled Books  (A great used book and music store, by the way, where I’ve bought any number of books, including from the Victorian era.)

Pilot Point:
Saturday, March 28th
10am-noon Sweetwater Coffee House
1pm           Pilot Point Community Library
around 2pm  Lowbrows

And do be sure to like Pilot Point on Facebook.

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Monday, March 23, 2015

Ride On! 

A favorite hymn of mine is Ride on! Ride on in majesty!, particularly by the tune of Winchester New.  (On Jordan’s Bank, another favorite, is a more well known hymn commonly sung to that tune.)

Since the subject of the hymn is the Triumphal Entry, it is associated with Palm Sunday.  But my parish sung it as the recessional hymn this Passion Sunday morning yesterday, and it indeed does meditate on the Passion of our Lord.

I’ve always found the contrast in the following lyrics brilliant and moving.

In lowly pomp ride on to die.

Christ’s Triumphal Entry is majestic, yet at the same time lowly, on a donkey even, and a ride to his death on the cross.  And Henry Milman captured that so well in so few yet clashing words.

I have to confess I could not quite finish the last verse yesterday.  The words of the hymn and my inability snuck up on me and suddenly caught me unawares.  Those darn allergies made me tear up, don’tcha know.

Ride on, ride on in majesty!
In lowly pomp ride on to die;
bow your meek head to mortal pain;
then take, O Christ, your power and reign.

May you, too, find this Passion Week and the coming Palm Sunday and Holy Week moving with a fresh vision of the majesty, humility, love and Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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Friday, March 20, 2015

Seeing the Choir of King’s College Cambridge Again 

In addition to doing book signings for my novel Pilot Point next week in Denton and in the town of Pilot Point itself, I am looking forward to seeing the Choir of King’s College Cambridge again in Dallas on the 26th.  It is part of their U. S. Tour that I believe begins tonight in New York.

This, of course, reminds me of the very first time I saw this great choir just over ten years ago, also in Dallas.  It was a wonderful night.  And my attachment to the Choir has only grown through the years.

This will be the third time I’ve attended a U. S. Tour by this choir.  It has been excellent the past two times and surely will be again.  If you can get a ticket, I highly recommend attending.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Return to Pilot Point 

I’ve long desired to return to the town of Pilot Point with my novel Pilot Point.  That time is now near!  Also, I will get to return to Denton as well to have a book signing in the very same building on the Square where I lived for four years.

Here’s the schedule:
Friday, March 27th
3-6pm    Recycled Books  (A great used book and music store, by the way, where I’ve bought any number of books, including from the Victorian era.)

Pilot Point:
Saturday, March 28th
10am-noon Sweetwater Coffee House
1pm           Pilot Point Community Library
around 2pm  Lowbrows

If you can make one of these appearances, be there!  If you cannot, Pilot Point is available in both Kindle and print at Amazon.  Also, do like Pilot Point on Facebook.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

What Every Leftist Should Be Told 

Ace of Spaces regularly has a comment of the day or two.  And one they picked for overnight probably should be Comment of the Month at least.

But first, a little background.  The People’s Republic of Seattle recently passed a $15 an hour minimum wage in the face of warnings that it would result in business closings, particularly restaurant closings, and lost jobs.

Now, lo and behold, popular restaurants are closing by the score amidst much handwringing.  Gosh, who would have seen that coming?

But at least one good thing is coming out of this debacle – an object lesson that feel-good “progressive” solutions do not work.  Of course, some (most?) Leftists refuse to get it and remain as self-righteous as ever, e.g.:

This thread and discussion has been hijacked by thoer [sic] who believe greed is a virtue. Those are the same sociopaths and trolls that are uncapable [sic] of having a [sic] intelligent discussion about community or society, the same unintelligent trolls who think socialism and communism as the same thing, the same people who think Obama is a American hating Muslim. You made my my [sic] point. See ya.

Which comment on a thread prompted the following comment.  And its application applies far beyond Seattle.  This should be read to everyone who voted for Obama twice and has otherwise acted to impose tyranny on those not as enlightened as they.

No you don’t get to get away with that. You don’t get to advocate policies which allow you to use force to deprive people of their jobs and their opportunities and then claim that those who would have provided the jobs are the heartless ones.

You don’t get to trot out the insipid, mindless, tendentious talking points about how you are morally or intellectually superior when every “solution” you proffer is destructive and is based upon forcing others to do your bidding. You don’t get to decide whose job is worth preserving and whose isn’t and still claim the moral high ground.

You have to own this. You have to accept responsibility for the suffering your ignorance has caused and you have to understand that there is no way forward as long as you remain ignorant. Until you can begin to think rationally instead of being so full of hate that you think the best solution to every problem is to use force against those you disagree with then you can’t be accepted into the company of decent people and will always be seen as supporting those who would oppress us because that is exactly what you are doing.

To which I can only say, “Hear! Hear!”

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Thursday, March 12, 2015

Lois Lerner, Lisa Jackson, Hillary, Eric Holder . . . Sense a Pattern? 

On the heels of Hillary Clinton’s e-mail scandal comes word that Eric Holder used e-mail aliases to conduct business, not unlike former EPA czar Lisa Jackson.

But I’m sure “Henry Yearwood” has complied with all Congressional subpoenas.

And, of course, the IRS and Lois Lerner are still trying to cover up their attacks on the unapproved free speech of real Americans even though the IRS story of Lerner’s magically disappearing e-mails has been exposed as a big lie.

Sense a pattern?

This is a regime that conceals its misconduct and attacks on Americans by using secret e-mail accounts and aliases to evade accountability and violate the Open Records Act.  And then it “loses” or erases e-mails for good measure ala Lois and Hillary.

One does not have to be conspiratorial to see this.  It has become obvious by now.

This is a criminal regime disguised as an administration.

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