dual personalities

Category: inspiration

“Take ’em to Missouri, Matt.”*

Huzzah! We have a long weekend ahead of us and perhaps some actual places to go! Or we may just stay in and listen to music and watch movies, because–of course–it’s supposed to rain all weekend!

Monday is Memorial day and one of the ways I typically observe Memorial Day, honoring the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military, is to watch a good war movie. Here are a few suggestions, mostly old movies as is my wont, but please note I have included one from the 21st century!

They Were Expendable (1945) John Ford directed this story of a PT boat unit defending the Philippines during WWII. John Wayne and Robert Montgomery star.

Cry Havoc (1943) A mostly all-female cast portrays a group of Army hospital volunteers stationed in Bataan during WWII. In some ways it is standard wartime melodrama, but the ending, as the brave nurses and volunteers fall into the hands of the Japanese, is quite powerful. Margaret Sullavan and Joan Blondell star.

Twelve O’Clock High (1949) Gregory Peck stars as a general who takes over a bomber unit suffering from low morale and whips them into shape before collapsing himself under the strain.

The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) Robert Emmett Sherwood adapted MacKinlay Kantor’s story of veterans returning to their hometown after service in WWII. William Wyler directed; Frederic March, Dana Andrews, Myrna Loy, Harold Russell star.

She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949) Captain Nathan Brittles, on the eve of retirement, takes out a last patrol to stop an impending Indian uprising following the disaster at the Little Big Horn. John Ford directed; John Wayne stars.

Hacksaw Ridge (2016) An Army medic and conscientious objector becomes the first man in American history to receive the Medal of Honor for incredible acts of valor without having fired a shot. The scenes during the Battle of Okinawa in WWII are very intense and more graphic than I like to see, but the movie is a good one. Directed by Mel Gibson and starring Andrew Garfield and Sam Worthington.

Monday is also John Wayne’s birthday (🎉🎉🎉) so I will probably be leaning toward They Were Expendable. 

Last Monday (our regular John Wayne movie night) I watched Red River (1948) and it was great. John Wayne and Montgomery Clift play so well off each other.  Clift was never better.

So you might want to check it out as well.

I should also note the passing of Indian-born Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias.  Ravi’s ministry gradually evolved, but his basic focus remained the same: to “help the thinker believe and the believer think.”

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In March doctors discovered a malignant tumor when he underwent back surgery. He began receiving treatment, but two months later they deemed his cancer untreatable and he died shortly thereafter. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.

And I really want one of these face masks from the National Cowboy Museum! #HashtagTheCowboy…

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*Tom Dunston to Matthew Garth in Red River. They end up taking ’em to Kansas, of course, in order to avoid the marauding border ruffians in Missouri.

Playing it like a waffle iron

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We made it to another Friday! And without much cuddling, am I right?

My routine is down to the bare bones, the highlight of my day being a daily walk in the spring sunshine (if I’m lucky). Not much else going on besides work.

I did manage to record and then watch two movies starring Clifton Webb, whom I have always liked.

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Mr. Scoutmaster (1953) is a comedy about an effete television star (Webb) whose ratings are on the decline because he doesn’t relate to children. Somehow he is convinced by the local Episcopal minister (Edmond Gwen) to become the new Scoutmaster of a troop of incorrigibles. Of course, Webb really gets into being a Scout, buying all the stuff and learning all the rules–remind you of someone?–and hilarity ensues. There is  a subplot involving a neglected child who desperately wants to be a scout that is quite effecting and, if I had not been watching with the OM, I probably would have broken down several times and wept.

Screen Shot 2020-04-16 at 12.56.02 PM.pngThey knew how make you cry in a comedy back in the day. The kid (George Winslow) was very good and the perfect foil for Clifton Webb.

Anyway, I recommend this movie whole-heartedly. Interestingly, the scout troop includes a couple of African-American kids and at the Court of Honor at the end of the movie a band of mostly Asian Boy Scouts plays. Even in 1953 the diversity of the Boy Scouts was on display and (subtly) applauded.

I also watched The Man Who Never Was (1956), a British espionage film about a scheme to deceive the Nazis about the impending invasion of Italy. The intricate plot entails releasing a dead body just off the coast of Spain, where strong currents will almost certainly cause it to drift ashore in an area where the Germans will find it and the secret papers it carries.Screen Shot 2020-04-16 at 1.23.56 PM.png

 

Screen Shot 2020-04-16 at 1.27.42 PM.pngI had seen it before and it is definitely worth a re-watch. Clifton Webb plays Royal Navy Lt. Commander Ewen Montagu, who devises Operation Mincemeat and sees it carried out. A pre- Ben-Hur Stephan Boyd plays an Irish spy who nearly foils the plan. 

I wrote about Clifton Webb in an earlier post and included some other recommendations if you are interested.

I have also been reading some Raymond Chandler, who supplies some ready diversion to the person with a rather scattered concentration. (I refer to myself.)

“Some days I feel like playing it smooth. Some days I feel like playing it like a waffle iron.”

– Trouble Is My Business

Today I will make my weekly visit to the grocery store for “cornmeal and gun powder and hamhocks and guitar strings” and then it’s back to the virtual salt mine.

Hopefully I’ll get outside to enjoy the spring sunshine.

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Be encouraged! “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” –John 16:33

“Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.”*

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Today is Good Friday and I am taking the day off. Yes, I am still home–where else would I be?–but I am not checking my work email and reading spreadsheets or attending Zoom meetings. I will try to focus on the day, starting with John 13: 31–18:1 and moving on through the readings of the day. We’ll see how far I get.

For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. (Romans 7:15)

Today is also the birthday of Lew Wallace (April 10, 1827 – February 15, 1905)…

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…Civil War General, Governor of the territory of New Mexico when it was quite a hotspot, and author of Ben-Hur. I will toast him tonight as I watch Ben-Hur (1959), which as you know, is a Good Friday tradition in my family.

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Also I will note that tomorrow is the anniversary of the day Michael Curtiz died in 1962. He was an amazing director, one of the best. He was “the classic example of a studio director in that he could turn his hand to almost anything. He could go from any genre to another, and somehow this Hungarian knew exactly how those genres worked.” (film historian David Thomson)

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From Captain Blood (1935) to The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) to The Santa Fe Trail (1939) to Casablanca (1941) to Mildred Pierce (1945) to Life With Father (1947) to White Christmas (1954) and King Creole (1958)–you can’t go wrong. Here’s a list of his impressive filmography.

Curtiz didn’t direct any religious or biblical epics, but he did direct The Egyptian (1954) which was based on an international best seller by Mika Waltari published in the 1940s. I might have to check it out.

Screen Shot 2020-04-09 at 10.41.24 AM.pngMeanwhile the Babylon Bee continues to amuse:

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Way harsh, but not unfair.

Have a blessed Easter. Celebrate it in whatever way makes your heart sing! Even if it’s just on your computer, celebrate it! Eat some Episcopal soufflé, pop the prosecco and watch Ben-Hur!  Alleluia, Christ is risen indeed.

“O death, where is thy victory?
O death, where is thy sting?”  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

(I Cor. 15:55-57)

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*Ezekiel 37:4

All glory, laud, and honor to thee, Redeemer, King!

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Well, I have been spending a lot of time in this room lately. Thankfully, I like this room. I like all the rooms in my house.

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And, as you can see, I like to see my favorite people around me.

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I haven’t seen my loved ones (except the OM) up close for over three weeks. We get daily texts…

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…describing their daily endeavors. Both daughter #1 and daughter #3 have been occupied making face masks. The boy brought two over for our use yesterday and he stood at the front door and we gabbed for a few minutes which was nice.

I have to say I am starting to really like my virtual church services from Charlottesville, Virginia–beamed in from afar. It is the bare bones of the service: the litany, the hymns, a sermon. I sing along and pray aloud. Maybe I am losing it, but I don’t think so. Our hometown rector says, when this is over and we can go back to church, we will have a big party (with booze, we’re Episcopalians) and I am all for it. But in the meantime, there is nothing wrong with enjoying the peace and quiet and the company of angels.

Sunday afternoon I spent a few hours watching the first half of Franco Zeffirelli’s Jesus of Nazareth.

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I thoroughly enjoyed it and will watch the rest during the week. It is a great lead up to Good Friday.

A childhood friend of mine who has lived in Texas since college re-posted this on Facebook and I have to share it because I think it is spot on:

After the President’s news conference was over tonight, one of the reporters made the observation that for the first time in our nation’s history we won’t be celebrating Easter. Well let me tell you one thing, [the reporter is] dead wrong. We might not celebrate what Easter has become in that there may be no new clothes bought for that Sunday. We might not hide and hunt eggs in mass quantities. We may not travel home to attend church with our family. We might not see some folks at our worship services that we haven’t seen since Christmas, but we’re going to Celebrate Easter. As a matter of fact, every Sunday is Easter Sunday. Every time we assemble for worship we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Pilate couldn’t kill Him and the grave couldn’t hold Him. You think the Coronavirus is going to stop Easter? More people this year will hear the gospel than any other Easter before.

Easter is not just about special programs. Its not about the egg hunt or good lunch. It’s not about the trumpet call or the mass crowds. It’s the fact that we serve a living Savior who is still transforming lives today. Easter is not only about His resurrection, but our ability to rise with Him. Easter is about the hope of tomorrow and the gift of everlasting life. Yes indeed, we will celebrate. We’ll celebrate what God did for all of us at Calvary. How? By remembering Him. By loving Him. By worshipping Him. By praising Him. Easter for us is everyday. Let the celebration begin. Sing with me:

I serve a risen Savior, He’s in the world today
I know that He is living, whatever men may say
I see His hand of mercy, I hear His voice of cheer
And just the time I need Him He’s always near
He lives (He lives), He lives (He lives), Christ Jesus lives today
He walks with me and talks with me
Along life’s narrow way
He lives (He lives), He lives (He lives), Salvation to impart
You ask me how I know He lives?
He lives within my heart

Happy Easter my friends!🙌🏼🙌🏼🙌🏼

In the meantime I will continue to “work remotely,” listen to Sinclair Ferguson sermons on YouTube while needlepointing, take walks and appreciate the beauty of spring.

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How about you?

Sieges tremendous*

Now be witness again, paint the mightiest armies of earth,
Of those armies so rapid so wondrous what saw you to tell us?
What stays with you latest and deepest? of curious panics,
Of hard-fought engagements or sieges tremendous what deepest remains?*

Well, another week of Zoom meetings…

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and cramped working space has come and (almost) gone. I can’t complain. Like my DP, there is a part of me that really enjoys being home, far away from the madding crowd. Another part says, Let’s try to make the most of our predicament! And, of course, I am counting my blessings.

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Since it is Friday, I am, of course, thinking of movies to watch over the weekend. Did you watch siege movies last weekend? I watched Rio Bravo (1959) and The Desert Rats (1953)–both were great!  This week’s theme, in consultation with daughter #2, will focus on our other preoccupation–babies!

The 1980s supplies the lion’s share of our titles. (What is with that?) We remember these movies fondly as being lightweight, but fun:

Willow (1988)–Warwick Davis plays a dwarf and aspiring sorcerer, who protects the infant Elora Danan from an evil queen in this fantasy directed by Ron Howard.

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Three Men and a Baby (1987)–Tom Selleck, Steve Gutenberg and Ted Danson play three bachelors attempting to adapt their lives to pseudo-fatherhood. Mishaps and adventures ensue. I had forgotten that it is directed by Leonard Nimoy and is based on the 1985 French film Trois hommes et un couffin, which as I recall, is also worth watching.

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Look Who’s Talking (1989)–A RomCom starring John Travolta and Kirstie Alley. Bruce Willis plays the “voice” of the baby, Mikey. This was the movie that re-launched Travolta’s career.

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Baby Boom (1987)–Diane Keaton as a yuppie who “inherits” a 14-month-old girl. Sam Shepard co-stars.

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Of course, our favorite “baby” movie of all time is John Ford’s 3 Godfathers (1948)–there is no resisting John Wayne, Harry Carey, Jr. and Pedro Armendáriz as the fabled outlaw godfathers of a newborn.

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Meanwhile our own wee babes are sheltering at home and learning like little Einsteins.

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Brilliant.

One of my students shared this with me. It is très amusant.

Have a good Zoom-free weekend! Sunday is Palm Sunday! Can you believe it? Be sure to go to virtual church!

*Walt Whitman, “The Wound-Dresser”–read it all here.

“When through the deep waters I call thee to go…”*

…the rivers of woe shall not thee overflow;

for I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,

and sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

They sang this hymn in the Morning Prayer service at Christ Church, Charlottesville, which I tuned into remotely as is my new Sunday morning routine. I do not mean to be disloyal to my own Grace Church, but it’s a nice change. Anyway, the words to this well-known hymn are perfect for our time. Read them all here.

So have you resorted to cleaning out drawers to amuse yourself yet? I have. I’m sure you can imagine the things I have found! Lots of snapshots from back in the days (the ’90’s) when we still used camera with film…

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… but survival cards for Southeast Asia?!

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…the Shakespeare Game?

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…and lots of half used candles (for emergencies) and coasters…so many coasters!

I also cleaned up the Florida room and moved all my plants out there.

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Ah, progress.

Besides all this sorting and cleaning, the OM and I went on an outing on Saturday to Lone Elk Park where we practiced social distancing with buffalo and elk.

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This drive-through park is perfect for this time of enforced isolation when the zoo and botanical garden are closed. Of course, lots of people had the same idea–the traffic was bumper to bumper!

Meanwhile the wee babes are hanging out at home, eating outside and studying remotely…

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…and you can picture me at the virtual salt mine…

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Take time to smell the flowers!

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*”How Firm a Foundation” attributed to Robert Keen, ca. 1787.

“Confusion to our enemies. Good luck to our friends.”*

Well, I have to say this telecommuting is not all it’s cracked up to be, especially considering we thought we could get into our offices on Friday, but now the situation is changed yet again and so on and so on. I am stressed to the max.

But what can we do but keep smilin’ through?

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So I will continue to self-medicate by watching my favorite movies and reading good books. Last night I watched My Darling Clementine (1946) which was on TCM. It is really a Top Ten best movie. (It was named the Best Foreign Film of 1948 by the Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists. They got it right.) Good medicine indeed. Right now I am reading Hilary Mantel’s new book The Mirror and the Light and it is terrific. It is also a timely reminder that times have always been crazy and politics has always been a cut-throat business (literally in the 16th century).

‘I neglect no precautions,’ he had said. ‘The times being what they are, a man may enter the gate as your friend and change sides while he crosses the courtyard.’

Also, I thought this quote from C.S. Lewis was awfully good:

The war [WWII] creates no absolutely new situation, it simply aggravates the permanent human situation so that we can no longer ignore it. Human life has always been lived on the edge of a precipice. Human culture has always had to exist under the shadow of something infinitely more important than itself. If men had postponed the search for knowledge and beauty until they were secure, the search would never have begun. We are mistaken when we compare war with ‘normal life.’ Life has never been normal.”

Found here–read the whole thing.

So keep smiling. You have a nice place to telecommute from and Rice-a-roni in the pan.

*Thomas Cromwell in The Mirror and the Light

“And Joshua said, ‘Sanctify yourselves: for you have not passed this way before.’”*

Did you know that every year March is designated Women’s History Month by Presidential proclamation. The month is set aside to honor women’s contributions in American history. Here is President Trump’s proclamation from 2019.

Americans are so conflicted these days concerning who is a hero/heroine and who is a villain that it makes these honorific months problematic. Take, for instance, the case of  Hannah Emerson Dustin (1657–1736). Hannah was a colonial Puritan mother of nine living in Haverhill, Massachusetts when she was abducted by Abenaki Indians along with her week-old baby and nurse. When the baby would not stop crying, one of the Indians took hold of it and bashed its brains out against a tree. Later, while detained on an island in the Merrimack River, Hannah took an ax and killed and scalped ten Indians while they slept and took off with her friend and the 10-year old boy also being held by the Indians.

Hannah was considered a hero to the following generations and is believed to be the first American woman honored with a statue. There are two statues, in fact, one in New Hampshire and one in Massachusetts.

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But nowadays we can’t be proud of Hannah. No, we even doubt that the Indians killed her baby. Maybe it just died. We can’t hold her up as an example of female bad-assery, a woman who didn’t need a man to save her or wait for one to rescue her to wreck havoc on her kidnappers. No, we are just embarrassed by her wrath–remember this is a woman who has just given birth, her hormones were raging, her milk flowing–and the revenge she dealt to her murderous enemies. It is so typical that people are sympathetic to the poor Indians she “murdered” and not to the kidnapped and traumatized woman.

But no one understands context these days.

There are a couple of good stories based on Hannah Dustin’s story and others like hers, including “The Iron Shrine” by Conrad Richter and Hannah Fowler by Janice Holt Giles.

 

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I recommend them. These authors understood context.

Meanwhile we are still in February through the weekend (leap year!) Daughter #1 is coming into town on Saturday to get the oil changed in her car, so we will be able to do a few things.

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@wanderthewoodddk

Check this out: another good one from my favorite female priest. And in case you missed it, yesterday was the feast day  of George Herbert, priest an poet.

Our God and King, who didst call thy servant George Herbert from the pursuit of worldly honors to be a pastor of souls, a poet, and a priest in thy temple: Give unto us the grace, we beseech thee, joyfully to perform the tasks thou givest us to do, knowing that nothing is menial or common that is done for thy sake; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

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Watch a good movie this weekend! Since it is the last weekend of Black History Month, it might be time to view something from the Denzel Washington oeuvre. The Book of Eli (2010) is a personal favorite.

Have a good weekend!

*Joshua 3:4

Sackcloth and ashes

Daughter #1 usually posts on Wednesdays, but since she is on the road, traveling around the state, I am pressed into service.

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The OM and I went to the pancake supper at church last night as we usually do on Shrove Tuesday. No wild parties for us. Just pancakes–good times.

Now, on to Lent.

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Here are some wise words from Frederick Buechner to get us thinking for the 40 days of Lent:

In many cultures there is an ancient custom of giving a tenth of each year’s income to some holy use. For Christians, to observe the forty days of Lent is to do the same thing with roughly a tenth of each year’s days. After being baptized by John in the river Jordan, Jesus went off alone into the wilderness, where he spent forty days asking himself the question what it meant to be Jesus. During Lent, Christians are supposed to ask one way or another what it means to be themselves.

If you had to bet everything you have on whether there is a God or whether there isn’t, which side would get your money and why?

When you look at your face in the mirror, what do you see in it that you most like and what do you see in it that you most deplore?

If you had only one last message to leave to the handful of people who are most important to you, what would it be in twenty-five words or less?

Of all the things you have done in your life, which is the one you would most like to undo? Which is the one that makes you happiest to remember?

Is there any person in the world or any cause that, if circumstances called for it, you would be willing to die for?

If this were the last day of your life, what would you do with it?

To hear yourself try to answer questions like these is to begin to hear something not only of who you are, but of both what you are becoming and what you are failing to become. It can be a pretty depressing business all in all, but if sackcloth and ashes are at the start of it, something like Easter may be at the end.

Whistling in the Dark

Well, there’s some food for thought.

Ad referendum*

Daughter #1 asked me to post today because she got home from her trip to D.C. late last night.

Screen Shot 2020-02-11 at 8.22.28 PM.pngHaving shot my wad yesterday, I was at a loss. [I’ll let Sen. Orrin Hatch remind you what “to shoot one’s wad” means.]

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I haven’t seen the wee babes for a couple of weeks, but luckily the boy keeps me up-to-date with what they are doing at school…

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Lottie staying inside the lines, the wee laddie not so much…

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Learning to toast in preschool (“L’chaim!”)

Today on the Episcopal Church calendar we honor Charles Freer Andrews, an Anglican priest and missionary, who was an educator and social reformer in India. He was a friend and associate  of Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore. Perhaps you remember him as portrayed in the film Gandhi (1982) by Ian Charleson.

Screen Shot 2020-02-11 at 8.42.56 PM.pngGandhi’s affectionate nickname for Andrews was Christ’s Faithful Apostle, based on the initials of his name, “C.F.A”.  He is widely commemorated and respected in India.

Gracious God, you called Charles Freer Andrews to show forth your salvation to the poor: By your Holy Spirit inspire in us a tender concern, a passionate justice, and an active love for all people, that there may be one Body and one Spirit in Jesus Christ, our Savior; who with you and the same Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

And lest we forget:

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*For further consideration