dual personalities

“He will my shield and portion be”*

Today on the Episcopal Church calendar is the feast day of the worthy William Wilberforce, English politician, philanthropist and a leader of the movement to abolish the slave trade.

Unfinished portrait by Sir Thomas Lawrence

Unfinished portrait of Wilberforce by Sir Thomas Lawrence

He was born in 1759 and served in Parliament from 1780 to 1825. A turning point in his religious life came while on a tour of Europe. In the luggage of a travelling companion he saw a copy of William Law’s book, A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life. He asked his friend, “What is this?” and received the answer, “One of the best books ever written.” The two of them agreed to read it together on the journey, and Wilberforce embarked on a lifelong program of setting aside Sundays and an interval each morning on arising for prayer and religious reading. He considered his options, including the clergy, and was persuaded by Christian friends that his calling was to serve God through politics.

He was a major supporter of programs for popular education, overseas missions, parliamentary reform, and religious liberty. He is best known, however, for his untiring commitment to the abolition of slavery and the slave trade. He introduced his first anti-slavery motion in the House of Commons in 1788, in a three-and-a-half hour oration that concluded: “Sir, when we think of eternity and the future consequence of all human conduct, what is there in this life that shall make any man contradict the dictates of his conscience, the principles of justice and the law of God!”

The motion was defeated. Wilberforce brought it up again every year for eighteen years, until the slave trade was finally abolished on 25 March 1806. He continued the campaign against slavery itself, and the bill for the abolition of all slavery in British territories passed its crucial vote just four days before his death on July 29, 1833. A year later, on July 31, 1834, 800,000 slaves, chiefly in the British West Indies, were set free.

A movie of the life of William Wilberforce, Amazing Grace, was released in 2006. It stars Ioan Gruffudd as Wilberforce.

wilberAlso featured are Albert Finney as John Newton, Rufus Sewell as Thomas Clarkson and Benedict Cumberbatch as William Pitt. It is definitely worth watching for many reasons, not the least of which is that Mr. Gruffudd is so darn cute.

*Amazing Grace by John Newton

Information about Wilberforce from Christianitytoday.com.

 

Twinklings

john_singer_sargent

John Singer Sargent

Here come real stars to fill the upper skies,
And here on earth come emulating flies,
That though they never equal stars in size,
(And they were never really stars at heart)
Achieve at times a very star-like start.
Only, of course, they can’t sustain the part.

–“Fireflies in the Garden” by Robert Frost

“In the external scheme of things, shining moments are as brief as the twinkling of an eye, yet such twinklings are what eternity is made of — moments when we human beings can say “I love you,” “I’m proud of you,” “I forgive you,” “I’m grateful for you.” That’s what eternity is made of: invisible imperishable good stuff.”
–Fred Rogers

“Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”
–I Corinthians 15:51-52

This is how my mind works.

The famous Whitelaw monument in the Glasgow Necropolis features the scripture from I Corinthians around its base.

The famous Whitelaw monument in the Glasgow Necropolis features the scripture from I Corinthians around its base.

 

“You mistake my choice not to feel as a reflection of my not caring, while I assure you the truth is precisely the opposite.”*

 

at the seaside

Edward Potthast “At the Seaside”

The woman in this painting looks comfortable, doesn’t she? Reading under an umbrella at the beach. Lovely. It was very hot this weekend in my flyover town and I could have used a beach, but there is no beach nearby. I had to make do with an air conditioned house. Not complaining.

I was working on my DIY project anyway. I developed blisters on my hand and had to stop. You might think this is because I was working so hard, but really I am just a wimp.

I finished the Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling) mystery which I enjoyed. I hope she writes more with Private Detective Cormoran Strike.  I started in on John Cheever stories. I am not a big fan of short stories. They are always a little too creepy and clever. Cheever’s are no exception, but he is a good writer.

church

I went to evensong with the boy to see his old pal Michael preach–his first homily since getting the green light for divinity school.

choristers

The boy and his old chorister buddies (head proctor, middle, and chaplain, right, at the RSCM camp)

The chaplain’s grandmother told me that she thinks we should all rent a bus and travel to NYC together when he is ordained. I was like, for sure, great idea! I can picture it now: the bus pulls up in front of St. Bart’s and all Michael’s flyover friends and family spill out on to Park Avenue! I am so ready.

I watched several movies including Star Trek Into Darkness (2013) wherein Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) et al go on “a manhunt to a war-zone world to capture a one-man weapon of mass destruction.”

mza_4220965654344585491

My expectations were low, so I enjoyed it. Personally I think they should make a whole movie about Dr. McCoy (Karl Urban) who definitely did not get enough face time in this voyage of the starship Enterprise.

I also watched an old favorite of mine, Proud Rebel (1958), which deeply affected me as child.

The_Proud_Rebel_-_1958-_poster

Alan Ladd plays a former Confederate who is searching for a doctor who can help his son who is mute as a result of a traumatic event during the Civil War. His son is played by his real-life son David Ladd and they make a likable and attractive duo. Wonderful Olivia de Haviland plays the woman who helps them and gives them a place to live and falls in love with both of them. The supporting players are good and it is well directed by the great Michael Curtiz. The music is even by Jerome Moross! It is a good movie that has a lot going for it. If only Alan Ladd weren’t as stiff as a board! If only he could muster an iota of romantic interest in Olivia’s character! If only he could act! It has everything going for it–even a smart and loyal dog–except for a leading man who is up to the part. There are many reminders of Shane in this film–from the boy to the bad guys–but one of the reasons I suppose Shane works is that the title character (as played by Ladd) endeavors heroically not to show his feelings for Mrs. Starrett. Alan Ladd is good at not showing his feelings.

And what did we learn here? That Alan Ladd could have played Spock? Discuss among yourselves.

*Mr. Spock

 

To the lads of Cabar Féidh

This week, in between working and watching a delightfully mellow French movie, “The Grocer’s Son” (watch it, it’s pretty and sweet), I snuck in a little genealogy time with fruitful results! I found our great, great, great grandfather, Kenneth Cameron, who served in the 79th Regiment of Foot, the Cameron Highlanders, during the Napoleonic Wars. Picture him like this:

cameron highlander

According to the records, he was born in 1782, was 5′ 8″ tall, had brown hair, brown eyes, a “long visage” and a dark complexion. He first joined up when he was sixteen years old in 1798 and served until June 26th, 1802 (? hard to read the date). He then rejoined and served under Wellington in the Peninsular War in Portugal and Spain. He fought at the battle of Busaco on September 27th, 1810 in Portugal.

 

an artist's tepid rendition

column and line — the British hold the high ground

The artist’s rendition is rather tepid, but you get a better idea of the battlefield from this photo.

Busaco ridge today

Busaco ridge today

He also fought at Fuentos d’Orno on May 3rd, 1811. The Cameron Highlanders won battle honors for both engagements. This river ran the length of the battlefield at Fuentos d’Orno.

Dos Casos River

Dos Casos River

I lost track of Kenneth after that, but I’ll keep looking. You can raise a glass to him and the Cameron Highlanders (not yet known as the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders — that would come later) with their own toast:

Tir nam Beann, nan Gleann, ‘s nan Gaisgeach;
Far am faighear an t-eun fionn,
‘S far am faigh am fiadh fasgadh.
Cho fada ‘s chitear ceo mu bheann
‘S a ruitheas uisge le gleann,
Mairidh cuimhne air éuchd nan treun.
Slainte agus buaidh gu brath
Le Gillean Cabar Féidh!
Cabar Féidh gu Brath!

The land of hills, glens and horses;
Where the ptarmigan thrives,
And where the red deer finds shelter.
As long as the mist hangs o’er the mountains
And water runs in the glens,
The deeds of the brave will be remembered.
Health and success for ever
To the lads of Cabar Féidh,
The Deer’s Horns for Ever!

And while you’re doing that, you can listen to the regimental charge, “The Standard on the Braes of Mar” and imagine our wild Scottish ancestor charging the French.

Don’t be put off by the muscle shirt, the guy can really play the pipes.

Have a great weekend!

Tout va bien

So look at this:Screen shot 2014-07-23 at 7.38.25 PMJ. Crew put my mantra on a t-shirt. Once again I am hipper than I supposed.

And guess what? It’s Friday!

I am, as usual, looking forward to my weekend. I have no glamorous plans beyond finishing this book

CuckoosCallingCover

which is not bad–Robert Galbraith, aka J.K. Rowling, knows her characters and the dialogue is quite good. The action moves right along. A couple of people at work recommended it and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised.

I will also continue to scrape wallpaper glue off the walls of an upstairs bathroom.

Don’t worry–I won’t be home all weekend. I  plan to go to an Evensong service where the boy’s childhood friend (and Best Man) is preaching. The RSCM (Royal School of Church Music) choir camp will perform. All my children attended this  camp at some point, the boy for the longest duration. He even went to one in North Carolina. Anyway, that should be fun, if not super-fun.

The weather the last few days has been unbelievably beautiful–cool and not humid–and so unusual for this neck of the woods in July. I am extremely grateful. It is the kind of weather that makes you glad to be alive.

Take a deep breath and say, “Smell the pine in your nostrils!”

Okay I’ll explain. My best friend in the third grade Nancy went on a family vacation out west and she wrote me riotously funny letters. In one she described how her mother was continually saying, “Smell the pine in your nostrils!” Somehow this vivid picture stayed with me through the years and I used to say it to my children when they were growing up. We would giggle. Perhaps they will say it to their children.

Anyway, tout va bien! Have a great weekend.

 

“Take yourself by the scruff of the neck and shake off your incarnate laziness.”

Today is the birthday of Oswald Chambers (24 July 1874 – 15 November 1917), an early 20th century Scottish Baptist and Holiness Movement teacher and evangelist.

oswald-pic

You can read about him here. He is most famous today as the author of My Utmost for His Highest (1924), a daily devotional composed of 365 selections of Chamber’s talks, each of about 500 words. The work has never been out of print and has been translated into 39 languages. The book was published after Oswald’s death in 1917, his wife Gertrude Hobbs compiling the passages from her shorthand notes.

I have had my own copy of this wonderful book for many years. It is dog-eared and much highlighted. If you do not have a copy, I recommend you get one.

“The teaching of the Sermon on the Mount is not–Do your duty, but–Do what is not your duty. It is not your duty to go the second mile, to turn the other cheek, but Jesus says if we are His disciples we shall always do these things. There will be no spirit of–“Oh, well, I cannot do any more, I have been so misrepresented and misunderstood”. . . Never look for right in the other man, but never cease to be right yourself. We are always looking for justice; the teaching of the Sermon on the Mount is–Never look for justice, but never cease to live it.”

There is a good reason that this book has never been out of print! There is also a daily online devotional.

“Get into the habit of saying, ‘Speak, Lord,’ and life will become a romance.”

Bonus tidbit: Since we celebrated the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing in 1969 earlier this week, I thought I would share this story with you. Do you know that Buzz Aldrin, an elder in his Presbyterian Church in Texas, brought communion on the space flight and  celebrated it with Neil Armstrong on the moon? He did. Here is the full text of the original article — written by Buzz Aldrin — published inGuideposts magazine in October of 1970.

So I unstowed the elements in their flight packets.  I put them and the scripture reading on the little table in front of the abort guidance system computer.

Then I called back to Houston.

“Houston, this is Eagle.  This is the LM Pilot speaking.  I would like to request a few moments of silence.  I would like to invite each person listening in, wherever and whomever he may be, to contemplate for a moment the events of the past few hours and to invite each person listening to give thanks in his own individual way.”

Amazing. Read the whole thing.

Are you washed in the blood of the lamb?

On this day in 1865 British revivalist preacher William Booth founded the Salvation Army.

william-booth

Originally a prominent Methodist evangelist, Booth felt constrained by the need to have a pastorate. Eventually he resigned from the ministry and began preaching to crowds of people in the streets of the East End of London. Soon he and his wife opened ‘The Christian Revival Society’ (later renamed The Christian Mission) where they held meetings every evening and on Sundays.

The Salvation Army, as the mission became known, was modeled after the military, with its own flag (or colors) and its own music, often with Christian words put to popular and folk tunes sung in the pubs. Booth and the other soldiers in “God’s Army” wore the Army’s own uniform, ‘putting on the armor’ for meetings and ministry work. He became the General and his other ministers were given appropriate ranks as officers. Other members became soldiers. During his lifetime, William Booth established Army work in 58 countries and colonies, traveling extensively and holding salvation meetings.

Today the Salvation Army is one of the largest and most popular charitable organizations in the world.

salvation-army

George Bernard Shaw wrote a three-act play Major Barbara about a Salvation Army member who becomes disillusioned when the charity accepts money from a arms maker and a whiskey distiller. In the preface to the play, however, Shaw derided the idea that charities should only take money from “morally pure” sources. He points out that donations can always be used for good, whatever their provenance, and he quotes a Salvation Army officer, “they would take money from the devil himself and be only too glad to get it out of his hands and into God’s”.

Vachel Lindsay wrote a poem about General Booth, General William Booth Enters Into Heaven. (You can read the whole poem here. )

And when Booth halted at the curb for prayer

He saw his Master thro’ the flag-filled air.

Christ came gently with a robe and crown

For Booth the soldier, while the throng knelt down.

He saw King Jesus. They were face to face,

And he knelt a-weeping in that holy place.

Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

On a lighter note, while toasting the Army tonight, we could all watch Guys and Dolls (1955).

313-Guys-And-Dolls

As you know, this is how my mind works…

“This is Jim Rockford. At the tone, leave your name and message, I’ll get back to you.”

When I talked to daughter #1 on Sunday, she told me that James Garner had died.

james-garner-300

“You’ll have to break it to dad gently,” she said. Then we chuckled because it has been a family joke for years that the OM has a bit of a thing for old James Garner. I always thought this man-crush was odd because JG always reminded me a lot of the OM’s pater and their relationship was, shall we say, less than familial. But let’s not get too Freudian about it all…

James Garner, you will recall, was the star of the hit TV series The Rockford Files and Maverick and some good films including The Great Escape (1963), The Thrill of it All (1963) and The Children’s Hour (1961). He was only nominated once for an Oscar–for Murphy’s Romance (1985)–and, of course, he didn’t win. (William Hurt won that year for Kiss of the Spider Woman! Remember that one? Me neither.) He was miscast a lot–he played Philip Marlowe in Marlowe (1965) and Ira Moran in Breathing Lessons (1994). Frequently you had the feeling he was the second or third choice for a role.

But you had to hand it to him for being a working actor for all those years–1956-2010–that’s impressive. He didn’t seem to care if he had top billing; he just wanted the work. He gave the impression that he didn’t take his profession too seriously–he knew he was no Olivier–but it paid well and, despite the physical trauma of stunt-work, it wasn’t too hard.

“I’m a Methodist but not as an actor,” he wrote in his autobiography The Garner Files. “I’m from the Spencer Tracy school: Be on time, know your words, hit your marks, and tell the truth. I don’t have any theories about acting, and I don’t think about how to do it, except that an actor shouldn’t take himself too seriously, and shouldn’t try to make acting something it isn’t. Acting is just common sense. It isn’t hard if you put yourself aside and just do what the writer wrote.”

A refreshing attitude, to be sure. He had “exasperated” down to a “T”. You can read all about his career here.

My mother was a fan of those Polaroid commercials he did with Mariette Hartley in the ’70s. Remember those classic commercials? (Remember those cameras?!) She thought they were great and I’m sure she bought at least one Polaroid because of them.

 

Anyway, I settled in and watched several episodes of The Rockford Files–Season One on Sunday night.

140720-jim-rockford-james-garner-600-1405872962

Rockford in all his Sansabelt, poly-wool glory

I find it very comforting to watch The Rockford Files with its car chases through the banal southern California scenery and the really bad ’70s apparel, home decor and hairdos, because I can imagine my parents watching it. It was one of their favorite shows. The 1970s (worst decade ever!) was the decade of my youth after all–when I graduated from high school and went to college. So The Rockford Files is nothing if not familiar.

So rest in peace, James Garner. We’ll miss you. And the walk down memory lane with the The Rockford Files just may continue tonight…I highly recommend it.

Into paradise may the angels lead thee; and at thy coming may the martyrs receive thee, and bring thee into the holy city Jerusalem. 
–BCP, Burial of the Dead, Rite I

We are climbing Jacob’s Ladder

sarah&duncan

Lovebirds circa 1988

Since my dual personality already posted about her silver anniversary and the wonderful wedding in England that started it all, I will refrain from doing so. My pictures from the big event are pretty much the same.

I will limit myself to this one of daughter #1 (almost 5) and the boy (2 1/2).

wedding1

The boy, as previously noted, was coming down with chicken pox, but he was enough on the ball to be quite taken with the wedding. It was in the fall, after all, that he came home one day from pre-school and announced that he “had decided.” “Decided what?” I gamely asked. “I’ve decided to marry Lauren B.”

And, reader, he did. Just about twenty-three years later, he did–and in July as well!

I don’t think he would have been contemplating wedlock if he had not attended this great wedding in England. You just never know what your younguns are thinking.

wedding 2

What a bud.

Anyway, how was your weekend? I estate-saled, ran errands, tore wallpaper off the walls of an upstairs bathroom (you gotta have a project), attended church, and planted a rose bush.

As I noted on Friday, I planned to watch Road to Perdition, but I could not find my copy! Can you believe it? Curses again. Instead I watched The Naked  Jungle (1954) with Charlton Heston, Eleanor Parker and William Conrad with a really bad French (?) accent.

the naked jungle

You remember–it’s the one about the plantation in South America that is in the path of a 2-mile-wide, 20-mile-long column of army ants! It was clearly shot on a soundstage, but it is better than it sounds. Charlton is always worth watching.

On Saturday night I watched The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014).

Grand-Budapest-Hotel-The-poster

I am not a fan of Wes Anderson–he is highly over-rated, if you ask  me–so my expectations were low. I enjoyed it, however, mostly because I am a  minor fan of Ralph Fiennes. He is wonderful (who knew he could be funny?) and elevates the material. There are the usual cameo appearances by Wes’s hipster friends (Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Ed Norton, Bob Balaban, etc.) and inappropriate (and an inordinate) use of the F-word, but it is worth watching for Ralph and his sidekick played by the very funny teenager Tony Revolori.

I was a reader once again at church (substituting for vacationing lay readers) and I read the story of Jacob’s dream of the angels ascending and descending the ladder (Genesis 28:10-19a). I also read Romans 8:12-25, which includes “you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear” and also “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us.” Good stuff.

Here is a terrific rendition of the old negro spiritual “We are climbing Jacob’s ladder” sung by a Dutch men’s chorus. (I love that they pronounce Jacob as “Yacob.”) We don’t hear this one much anymore–probably because of the refrain: “Soldiers of the cross.” Listen to the whole thing–it’ll rev your engines to start the week off right!

If you love Him, why not serve Him?

(Here are all the words.)

 

Here’s to the first twenty-five

Yes, folks, this week my DH and I celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. A quarter of a century ago, on the 22nd of July, we gathered a few people together in sunny (and uncharacteristically hot) Titchfield, UK (home of my intended) and tied the not.

See the happy couple…

d&s wedding happy couple

…so much younger, thinner, and care-free. Sigh. My sister kindly allowed me to wear the beautiful dress that my mother made for her wedding. It meant a lot to me that I could fit into it to wear it.

pardon the pics, they didn't reproduce too well

the flower girl doesn’t look too thrilled, but then she had just sat through a long C of E service

My wonderful aunt Donna, brother, and dual personality, together with her OM and (then only) two adorable children, flew all the way to England for the occasion.  They were incredibly helpful and supportive, not to mention lots of fun.

It was a beautiful wedding and (despite the bad photo reproduction here) the colors were gorgeous!

the original is in focus and belongs in a bridal magazine

the original is in focus and belongs in a bridal magazine

My soeur was a perfect matron of honor!

the matron of honor, my lovely sis

also belongs in a magazine

We had a grand time, albeit since it was a wedding, inevitable crises caused extra stress. My soon to be step-father-in-law’s father passed away just a day or so before the wedding and my sis lived in fear of chickenpox. My niece, the lovely flower girl, still bore the scars from a recent attack and the incubation period predicted that her little brother would come down with the disease just in time for the flight home.

Does this child look like he's coming down with chickenpox?

Does this child look like he’s coming down with chickenpox?

But it all worked out in the end. After all, incipient chickenpox looks a lot like mosquito bites, right?

How long ago and far away it was —  but a great day to remember. Happy (almost) Anniversary, my DH. And here’s to the next quarter century!

 

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