Friday, December 12, 2014

Giving thanks for the life of Martha Giltinan

When I learned this morning that Martha Giltinan died today, this song was playing.  It seems to fit, like a selection from the soundtrack of this past year and the journey she shared so freely, so transparently with friends and family since her diagnosis last winter.  To say she will be missed is an understatement.  A light has gone out.  But I think one of her greatest legacies is that - through her life - she lit so many lights that now blaze brightly across the world, a light fueled by the redeeming love of Jesus. And that Light, we know, will never go out.

And this from Audrey Assad:

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Mary did you know?

Been watching the coverage and Twitter posts on Ferguson when this song was posted by a friend on Facebook - and it just seemed to hit the place for prayer. We do not mourn like those who have no hope.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Late Night at the Cafe: Things Have Changed

Good night for Dylan.

Today at the Cafe: Somewhere i have never travelled

somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond
any experience,your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near

your slightest look easily will unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skillfully, mysteriously) her first rose

or if your wish be to close me, i and
my life will shut very beautifully, suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;

nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility: whose texture
compels me with the colour of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing

(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens; only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody, not even the rain,has such small hands
e.e. cummings

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The U2 Masterpiece

One cannot say I have no need of you.

For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. 

If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 

But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. If they were all one member, where would the body be? 

But now there are many members, but one body. 

And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable, whereas our more presentable members have no need of it

But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 

And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.

I Corinthians 12:12-27

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. 

But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.

I Corinthians 13

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Thursday, October 16, 2014

David Brooks: The message is the person

From here:

The audio is here.

I thought I’d want to talk about is how to be religious in the public square. What does the culture need from you? At least in my opinion.
Now I grew up in a slightly different atmosphere than a lot of people in this room. I work at what I think of as the greatest newspaper in the world, but being a conservative, religious person at The New York Times is a bit like being the chief rabbi in Mecca. There’s not a lot of company there some days.
I grew up in a very left-wing household in Greenwich Village in New York. Nonetheless I went to Grace Church School. I was part of the all-Jewish boys’ davening choir at Grace. We sang the hymns, but to square with our religion we didn’t sing the word, “Jesus,” so the volume would drop down and then come back up.
I went to the University of Chicago, which we called the Wheaton of the Southside. The best line about Chicago: it’s a Baptist school where atheist professors teach Jewish students St. Thomas Aquinas.
I’ve lived much of my life in the secular culture. And it’s an achievement-oriented culture. If you go to the elementary schools in my local  neighborhood in Washington, DC, you see the kids coming out at three in the afternoon, they’ve got those 80-pound backpacks on. If the wind tips them over, they’re like beetles, sort of stuck there on the ground. Lines of luxury cars come up, usually Saabs, Audis and Volvos because in my progressive neighborhood, it’s socially acceptable to have a luury car so long as it comes from a country hostile to US foreign policy.
These creatures come out, I’ve written about in one of my books, called “Über-moms” who are highly successful career women who have taken time off to make sure all their kids get into Harvard. And you can usually tell the Über-moms because they actually weigh less than their own children.
They’ve got little yoga mats stapled to their hips, you know in the moment of conception they’re doing little butt exercises to stay fit and trim. During pregnancy, they’re taking so many soy-based nutritional formulas that the babies plop out, these gigantic 14-pound toothless defensive lineman, just boom.
Über-moms cutting the umbilical cord, flashing little Mandarin flash cards at the things, getting ready for Harvard. They have their spiritual yearnings which they express mostly through food. So they go through Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, the progressive grocery stores that all the cashiers look like they are on loan from Amnesty International. And my favorite section is the snack food section because they couldn’t have pretzels and potato chips…that would not be spiritual. So they have these seaweed-based snacks. We had bought veggie booty with kale, which is for kids who come home and say, “Mom, Mom I want a snack that will help prevent colorectal cancer.”
And these kids turn into the junior workaholics of America. I teach them at Yale. I only teach at schools that I couldn’t have gotten into. And by the time they’ve applied to schools, they’ve started six companies, cured three formerly fatal diseases, played obscure sports like Frisbee golf. When I ask my students what you are doing Spring Break, it’s like “You know I am unicycling across Thailand while reading to lepers.” That sort of thing.
They have tremendous faith in themselves. In 1950, the Gallup organization asked high school seniors, “Are you a very important person?” And at that point 12 percent said yes. They asked the same question in 2005 and 80 percent said, “Yes, I am a very important person.” Americans score 25th in the world in math, but if you ask Americans, “Are you really good in math?”
We are number-one in the world at thinking we are really good at math.
Time magazine asked Americans, "Are you in the top one percent of earners?” Nineteen percent of Americans are in the top 1 percent of earners. So they have a lot of self-confidence. And the great desire for fame. Fame used to be low on a value. Now fame is the second-most desired thing in young people.
They did a study, “Would you rather be president of Harvard or Justin Bieber’s personal assistant, a celebrity’s personal assistant?” And of course by 3 to 1 people would rather be Justin Bieber’s personal assistant. Though to be fair I asked the president of Harvard, and she would rather be Justin Bieber’s personal assistant.
And so this is an achievement culture. A culture of people striving and trying to win success. The way I express this contrast, this hunger for success is by two sets of virtues, which you could call the résumé virtues and the eulogy virtues. And the résumé virtues are the things you bring to the marketplace which you put on a résumé. And the eulogy virtues are the things you get expressed in your eulogy. And these are non-overlapping categories. So the eulogy virtues are to give courage, to give honor, what kind of relationships do you build, did you love.
And in my secular culture, we all know the eulogy virtues are more important, but we spend more time on the résumé virtues. Another way to think about this is the book Joseph Soloveitchik, the great rabbi, wrote in 1965 called “Lonely Man of Faith." He said we have two sides to nurture, which he called Adam One and Adam Two, which correlate to the versions of creation in Genesis.
Adam One is the external résumé. Career-oriented. Ambitious. External.
Adam Two is the internal Adam. Adam Two wants to embody certain moral qualities to have a serene, inner character, a quiet but solid sense of right and wrong, not only to do good but to be good, to sacrifice to others, to be obedient to a transcendent truth, to have an inner soul that honors God, creation and our possibilities.
Adam One wants to conquer the world. Adam Two wants to obey a calling and serve the world. Adam One asks. “How things work?” Adam Two asks, “Why things exist and what we’re her for?”
Adam One wants to venture forth. Adam Two wants to return to roots.
Adam One’s motto is “Success.”
Adam Two’s motto is “Charity. Love. Redemption.”
So the secular world is a world that nurtures Adam One, and leaves Adam Two inarticulate.
The competition to succeed in the Adam One world is so intense, there’s often very little time for anything else. Noise and fast, shallow communication makes it harder to hear the quieter sounds that emanate from our depths.
We live in a culture that teaches us to be assertive, to brand ourselves to get likes on Facebook, and it’s hard to have that humility and inner confrontation which is necessary for a healthy Adam Two life.
And the problem is that I have learned over the course of my life that if you’re only Adam One, you turn into a shrewd animal whose adept at playing games and begins to treat life as a game.
You live with an unconscious boredom, not really loving, not really attached to a moral purpose that gives life worth. You settle into a sort-of  self-satisfied moral mediocrity. You grade yourself on a forgiving curve. You follow your desires wherever they take you. You approve of yourself as long as people seem to like you. And you end up slowly turning the core piece of yourself into something less desirable than what you wanted. And you notice this humiliating gap between your actual self and your desired self.
So this secular world may look like Kim Kardashian and vulgarity, but I am telling you it is a river of spiritual longing. Of people who are aware of their shortcomings and lack of direction and in this realm.
They don’t have categories, they don’t have vocabularies, but they know the gap.
They know the gap because none of us gets through life very long without being knocked to our knees either in joy or in pain. And a bunch of activities expose the inadequacies of an Adam One life.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Investiture of an Archbishop

Tonight at 7:00 p.m. (EDT) is the official investiture of the Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America.  Watch it live!

Saturday, October 04, 2014


And the trees are stripped bare
Of all they wear
What do I care

And kingdoms rise
And kingdoms fall
But you go on, and on.


Thursday, October 02, 2014

All bets are not off! Scientists compete to sneak Bob Dylan lyrics into journal articles!

From here:

It all started 17 years ago in 1997 when Swedish scientists John Lundberg and Eddie Weitzberg from the Karolinska Institute penned a Nature journal article about intestinal gasses. As huge fans of Bob Dylan, the pair couldn’t resist titling the paper ‘Nitric oxide and inflammation: The answer is blowing in the wind.’

"We both really like Bob Dylan so when we set about writing an article concerning the measurement of nitric oxide gas in both the respiratory tracts and the intestine, with the purpose of detecting inflammation, the title came up and it fitted there perfectly," Weitzberg said

A few years later, a librarian spotted another Dylan reference in an article by two different medical professors from the same university. Jonas Frisén and Konstantinos Meletis had published a paper in 2003 on how non-neural cells could generate neurons in mice and humans, and called it ‘Blood on the tracks: a simple twist of fate?’

The four scientists quickly got in touch and a bet was made.

"The one who has written most articles with Dylan quotes, before going into retirement, wins a lunch at the Solna restaurant Jöns Jacob," Lundberg explained.

Shortly after, a fifth person, Professor Kenneth Chien, also joined in on the wager after discovering there were other Dylan-loving scientists on campus. In 1998, long before he met or knew about his colleagues, Chien had already published ‘Tangled up in blue: Molecular cardiology in the postmolecular era.’

"We're not talking about scientific papers - we could have got in trouble for that - but rather articles we have written about research by others, book introductions, editorials and things like that," said Weitzberg.

Weitzberg told The Local he didn’t want Dylan’s lyrics to detract from the importance of the scientists' work, but admitted that the competition so far has been fun.

"We really are not the only ones who try to be smart and catchy in our headlines," said  Weitzberg.

"I would much rather become famous for my scientific work than for my Bob Dylan quotes... But yes, I am enjoying this."

Monday, September 29, 2014

Today at the Cafe: My Back Pages

Crimson flames tied through my ears
Rollin’ high and mighty traps
Pounced with fire on flaming roads
Using ideas as my maps
“We’ll meet on edges, soon,” said I
Proud ’neath heated brow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now
Half-wracked prejudice leaped forth
“Rip down all hate,” I screamed
Lies that life is black and white
Spoke from my skull. I dreamed
Romantic facts of musketeers
Foundationed deep, somehow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now
Girls’ faces formed the forward path
From phony jealousy
To memorizing politics
Of ancient history
Flung down by corpse evangelists
Unthought of, though, somehow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now
A self-ordained professor’s tongue
Too serious to fool
Spouted out that liberty
Is just equality in school
“Equality,” I spoke the word
As if a wedding vow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now
In a soldier’s stance, I aimed my hand
At the mongrel dogs who teach
Fearing not that I’d become my enemy
In the instant that I preach
My pathway led by confusion boats
Mutiny from stern to bow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now
Yes, my guard stood hard when abstract threats
Too noble to neglect
Deceived me into thinking
I had something to protect
Good and bad, I define these terms
Quite clear, no doubt, somehow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now
B. Dylan 1964

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

How deep the Father's love for us ...

How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure,
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure.

How great the pain of searing loss -
The Father turns His face away,
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory.

Behold the man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders;
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers.

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished;
His dying breath has brought me life -
I know that it is finished.

I will not boast in anything,
No gifts, no power, no wisdom;
But I will boast in Jesus Christ,
His death and resurrection.

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer;
But this I know with all my heart -
His wounds have paid my ransom.

Stuart Townend 1995

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

This week at the Cafe: Brìgh gach cluiche gu dheireadh

Yes, my grandfather's mother, Margaret Minford, was a Scot—and there are Highland and Lowland Scots all over the family tree, so watching with interest the vote coming up in Scotland on Thursday. Wonder what the ancestors would say?

Friday, September 12, 2014

Shepherd, show me how to go ...

As some of you may know, I was raised in the Christian Science Church, as was my mother, my grandmother, and my great-grandmother. As a teenager I witnessed the conversion of my mother when she decided to place her trust in Jesus Christ and no longer in the teachings of Mary Baker Eddy.

In the autumn of 1974, I began to attend a Christian coffee house near where we lived in San Diego and met more people whose lives had been transformed through a personal relationship with Jesus. Such things I had never experienced as a Christian Scientist, though my favorite hymn in the Christian Science Church spoke of a shepherd, a shepherd who was nameless. 

Shepherd, show me how to go
O’er the hillside steep,
How to gather, how to sow,
How to feed Thy sheep.
I will listen for Thy voice,
Lest my footsteps stray;
I will follow and rejoice
All the rugged way.

Thou wilt bind the stubborn will,
Wound the callous breast,
Make self righteousness be still,
Break earth’s stupid rest.
Strangers on a barren shore,
Laboring long and lone,
We would enter by the door,
And Thou knowest Thine own.

So, when day grows dark and cold,
Tear or triumph harms,
Lead Thy lambkins to the fold,
Take them in Thine arms.
Feed the hungry, heal the heart,
Till the morning’s beam;
White as wool, ’ere they depart,
Shepherd, wash them clean.

Mary Baker Eddy, Christian Science Hymnal #304, 1887

It is very much a Christian Science hymn because the emphasis is on the shepherd as the "Way-Shower," and not as The Way, our Redeemer, our Lord. 

Even today in Christian circles, we are sometimes taught that Jesus is an example, but it is overlooked that he is our redeemer. It is difficult to see him as a redeemer, if we do not know we are in slavery, in prison, lost.  It is not that he shows us the bread of life, to feed the hungry, heal the heart.  It is that He is the Bread of Life.  

I did not know I was lost until I was found.

The cross is hidden, missing from those teachings and so is missing from our lives—as it is still missing from every Christian Science Church (and its descendants) across the globe. 

Jesus is very clear when he teaches what it means to "follow" him.  It’s not just that he shows us the the way to go, it is that he is the Way.

And what does he actually say? “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24) 

Deny myself, take up my cross, and follow him.The cross— we are to pick up our cross?  I have a cross?

Are we not just to follow, but to pick up our own cross and follow? Are we to walk the road of suffering just as He did?  That part, the picking up the cross part, was missing from my life as a Christian Scientist.

Now when I hear Shepherd Show Me How To Go, I long for the missing verses. Where does the Shepherd go but to the cross? And how do I carry my own?

Jesus the Shepherd does not just feed His sheep, He lays down His life for His sheep. He is not only the Shepherd, but He is also the Lamb, the shepherd who became a lamb, one of us. 

The surprise about it all is that the cross, where the “Lamb of God” suffered and died looked and felt like a failure to those who followed Him. Most ran away.  It wasn't even enough for Jesus to merely follow on His own, but to do the will of His Father. And so He went to the Cross. 

Reading through the stanzas again of a song I still have memorized from babyhood, I see that imagery is meant to comfort, but it is distorted.  We are not washed in the morning beam, we are washed in the Blood of Christ, an image that reminds us of His sacrifice. By His wounds, we are told, we are healed.

So what is the new song?  What hymn is there to redeem this song of my childhood, to teach me how to carry my cross and follow Jesus?  

In the early hours of my own conversion in that coffee house in San Diego I heard a song.  This hymn recalls some of the thoughts of that song of my childhood—oh but the good news, the Good News of Jesus, my Shepherd, my Redeemer, my Lord.

To pick up the cross and follow Jesus, even though it may, no, it will be a path of suffering, is redeemed because Jesus is risen.  We do not follow a nameless Shepherd, but the Risen Jesus, who saves us, redeems us and fill us with the Holy Spirit. That is how pick our cross and follow him.

The cross, that looked like a failure is a reminder that we are loved.  When we pick up our cross we are reminded of the amazing love of Jesus. When we pick our cross and follow him, we are free.


Love divine, all loves excelling,
Joy of heaven to earth come down;
Fix in us thy humble dwelling;
All thy faithful mercies crown!
Jesus, Thou art all compassion,
Pure unbounded love Thou art;
Visit us with Thy salvation;
Enter every trembling heart.

Breathe, O breathe Thy loving Spirit,
Into every troubled breast!
Let us all in Thee inherit;
Let us find that second rest.
Take away our bent to sinning;
Alpha and Omega be;
End of faith, as its Beginning,
Set our hearts at liberty.

Come, Almighty to deliver,
Let us all Thy life receive;
Suddenly return and never,
Never more Thy temples leave.
Thee we would be always blessing,
Serve Thee as Thy hosts above,
Pray and praise Thee without ceasing,
Glory in Thy perfect love.

Finish, then, Thy new creation;
Pure and spotless let us be.
Let us see Thy great salvation
Perfectly restored in Thee;
Changed from glory into glory,
Till in heaven we take our place,
Till we cast our crowns before Thee,
Lost in wonder, love, and praise.

Charles Wesley, "Hymns for those that Seek, and those that Have Redemption," 1747

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Awaken us

Just love this - a new Anglican church planting community in Chicago presents this video. Inspiring.

Remembering September 11, 2001

Remembering that day, that week, that year, that decade.

Monday, September 01, 2014

Late Night at the Cafe

How many deaths will it take 'til he knows that too many people have died?

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Today at the Cafe: Remembering Robin

UPDATE: Just read one of the best written and thought-provoking pieces on Robin Williams. It's by Russell Brand - please read it here.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Exodus 15

Been praying for Canon Andrew White today and this song came to mind. Please do continue to pray for him, as well as for the people of Iraq.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Financial Times takes note of Anglican Church growth in the Diocese of London

The Financial Times writes that, "the Church of England has hit on a winning formula to attract London’s younger crowd – musicians and DJs, good coffee and challenging talks. FT enterprise correspondent Jonathan Moules reports on its entrepreneurial approach to boosting attendance."

Watch the video - of interesting side note to us here at the Cafe is Nicky Gumbel in a "Roman-style" collar.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

What was it like electing the new ACNA Archbishop?

Watch Stewart Ruch, Bishop of the Diocese of the Upper Midwest, as he reports on his experience of electing the new archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America. A must-watch!

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Interview With Philip Yancey — Why Suffering?

Author Philip Yancy speakes on suffering this past week at Holy Trinity Brompton in London.

Please watch it all:

Saturday, May 31, 2014

There's an evenin' haze settlin' over town ...

Click here for the song:

There's an evenin' haze settlin' over town
Starlight by the edge of the creek
The buyin' power of the proletariat's gone down
Money's gettin' shallow and weak

The place I love best is a sweet memory
It's a new path that we trod
They say low wages are a reality
If we want to compete abroad

My cruel weapons have been put on the shelf
Come sit down on my knee
You are dearer to me than myself
As you yourself can see

I'm listenin' to the steel rails hum
Got both eyes tight shut
Just sitting here trying to keep the hunger from
Creeping it's way into my gut

Meet me at the bottom, don't lag behind
Bring me my boots and shoes
You can hang back or fight your best on the front line
Sing a little bit of these workingman's blues

Now, I'm sailin' on back, ready for the long haul
Tossed by the winds and the seas
I'll drag ‘em all down to hell and I'll stand ‘em at the wall
I'll sell ‘em to their enemies

I'm tryin' to feed my soul with thought
Gonna sleep off the rest of the day
Sometimes no one wants what we got
Sometimes you can't give it away

Now the place is ringed with countless foes
Some of them may be deaf and dumb
No man, no woman knows
The hour that sorrow will come

In the dark I hear the night birds call
I can hear a lover's breath
I sleep in the kitchen with my feet in the hall
Sleep is like a temporary death

Meet me at the bottom, don't lag behind
Bring me my boots and shoes
You can hang back or fight your best on the front line
Sing a little bit of these workingman's blues

Well, they burned my barn, they stole my horse
I can't save a dime
I got to be careful, I don't want to be forced
Into a life of continual crime

I can see for myself that the sun is sinking
How I wish you were here to see
Tell me now, am I wrong in thinking
That you have forgotten me?

Now they worry and they hurry and they fuss and they fret
They waste your nights and days
Them I will forget
But you I'll remember always

Old memories of you to me have clung
You've wounded me with words
Gonna have to straighten out your tongue
It's all true, everything you have heard

Meet me at the bottom, don't lag behind
Bring me my boots and shoes
You can hang back or fight your best on the front line
Sing a little bit of these workingman's blues

In you, my friend, I find no blame
Wanna look in my eyes, please do
No one can ever claim
That I took up arms against you

All across the peaceful sacred fields
They will lay you low
They'll break your horns and slash you with steel
I say it so it must be so

Now I'm down on my luck and I'm black and blue
Gonna give you another chance
I'm all alone and I'm expecting you
To lead me off in a cheerful dance

Got a brand new suit and a brand new wife
I can live on rice and beans
Some people never worked a day in their life
Don't know what work even means

Meet me at the bottom, don't lag behind
Bring me my boots and shoes
You can hang back or fight your best on the front line
Sing a little bit of these workingman's blues

B. Dylan 2006

UPDATE: The song above by Bob Dylan is called Workingman's Blues #2.  It seems to be a follow-up or inspired by Merle Haggard's Workingman's Blues.  Merle Haggard, as I recall, was touring with Dylan around the time it was written.  Here is Merle Haggard's Workingman's Blues:

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day: Giving thanks for those who sacrifice it all

When they say goodbye they do not know if those they love who serve in the United States Armed Services will ever return. Our troops indeed are the bravest men and women on the planet, but their families who let them go are also brave, standing courageously and steadfast in their love and support of those serving their country so far from home. 

Today at the Cafe we remember the families who also sacrifice so much and especially those who let go of the ones they love forever.

I especially want to remember my grandfather, John William Ailes III.

Grandaddy on board ship circa WWII.
John William Ailes III

The Navy Cross is presented to John W. Ailes, Commander, U.S. Navy, for extraordinary heroism in the line of his profession as Commanding officer of the U.S.S. Cassin Young in action off Okinawa, Ryukyu Islands, on 12 April 1945. His conduct throughout was in keeping with the highest traditions of the Navy of the United States.

The Navy Cross is the second highest medal that can be awarded by the Department of the Navy and the second highest award given for valor. It is normally only awarded to members of the United States Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard but could be awarded to all branches of United States military. It was established by Act of Congress (Pub.L. 65-253) and approved on February 4, 1919. The Navy Cross is equivalent to the Distinguished Service Cross (Army) and the Air Force Cross.

Grandaddy with his sons, CAPT J.W Ailes and RADM R.H. Ailes
April 1, 1945, was D-day at Okinawa. After escorting assault craft to the beaches and providing shore bombardment, Cassin Young took up the duties of radar picket ship, possibly the most hazardous duty performed by any warship during World War II. The picket's role was to provide early warning of impending air attacks to the main fleet. The ships assigned to the fifteen picket stations bore the brunt of over fifteen hundred kamikaze attacks in the weeks and months ahead. Radar Picket (RP) Stations 1,2, and 3 faced the worst of these attacks. On April 6 the Japanese launched the first of ten massed attacks, sending 355 kamikazes and 341 bombers towards Okinawa. Cassin Young was on duty at RP Station 3. The ship downed three "bogeys" (enemy planes) and picked up survivors from the destroyers assigned to RP Stations 1 and 2 (both were hit and sunk by kamikazes).

Cassin Young was then assigned to RP Station 1 where, on April 12, the ship came under massive attack. Six kamikazes were shot down, but one hit the mast and exploded fifty feet above the ship. One sailor was killed and 59 were wounded. 

Grandaddy and me.
RADM John W. Ailes, III (1907-1974) was the commanding officer of the USS Cassin Young in April, 1945. He was a member of the crew of the USS Honolulu in Pearl Habor on December 7, 1941. In addition, he was the commanding officer of the Battleship, the USS Iowa (1955-1956) during the Korean War, was Commander Cruiser-Destroyer Flotilla 6 during the Cuban Missle Crisis (1962) and was Inspector General of the United States Navy.

But to me he was Granddaddy, always ready with a bottle of "Cherry Smash" or to  take me fishing or go to MacDonald's.  I had no idea about his background when I was growing up - he was just Grandaddy.  But you didn't tell him no.

You may visit the USS Cassin Young. It is open to the public and moored next to the USS Constitution in Charlestown Harbor in Boston, MA. Read more about it at the webpage of the Boston National Historic Park. The tour includes Granddaddy's Cabin - restored to it's World War II period. You may see a presentation on the kamikazes attack here.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Happy Birthday, Bob Dylan

Yes, he is celebrating his 73rd birthday today.  So with that in mind, here is one of the great "newer" ones, When the Deal Goes Down from Modern Times (2006).  Happy Birthday.

In the still of the night, in the world's ancient light
Where wisdom grows up in strife
My bewildering brain, toils in vain
Through the darkness on the pathways of life
Each invisible prayer is like a cloud in the air
Tomorrow keeps turning around
We live and we die, we know not why
But I'll be with you when the deal goes down
We eat and we drink, we feel and we think
Far down the street we stray
I laugh and I cry and I'm haunted by
Things I never meant nor wished to say
The midnight rain follows the train
We all wear the same thorny crown
Soul to soul, our shadows roll
And I'll be with you when the deal goes down
The moon gives light and shines by night
I scarcely feel the glow
We learn to live and then we forgive
O'er the road we're bound to go
More frailer than the flowers, these precious hours
That keep us so tightly bound
You come to my eyes like a vision from the skies
And I'll be with you when the deal goes down
I picked up a rose and it poked through my clothes
I followed the winding stream
I heard a deafening noise, I felt transient joys
I know they're not what they seem
In this earthly domain, full of disappointment and pain
You'll never see me frown
I owe my heart to you, and that's sayin' it true
And I'll be with you when the deal goes down

Bob Dylan 2006

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Evangelical Worship in the Church: Are we headed for a crash?

Jamie Brown of The Falls Church Anglican is just back from the National Worship Leaders Conference in the DC metro area.  He reflects on his experience there and the current state of evangelical worship:

Worship Leader Magazine does a fantastic job of putting on a worship conference that will expose the attendees to a wide variety of resources, techniques, workshops, songs, new artists, approaches, teachings, and perspectives. I thought of Mark Twain’s famous quote “If you don’t like the weather in New England, just wait 5 minutes.” 
The same could be said of this conference. It’s an intentionally eclectic mix of different speakers, teachers, worship leaders, and performers from different traditions, theological convictions, and worship leading philosophies. You’ll hear and see some stuff you like and agree with, and then 5 minutes later you’ll hear and see some stuff you don’t agree with at all. 
It’s good for worship leaders to experience this kind of wide-exposure from time to time, and the National Worship Leader Conference certainly provides it. 
Yet throughout the conference, at different sessions, with different worship leaders, from different circles, using different approaches, and leading with different bands, I picked up on a common theme. It’s been growing over the last few decades. And to be honest, it’s a troubling theme. And if this current generation of worship leaders doesn’t change this theme, then corporate worship in evangelicalism really is headed for a major crash. 
It’s the theme of performancism. The worship leader as the performer. The congregation as the audience. The sanctuary as the concert hall. 
It really is a problem. It really is a thing. And we really can’t allow it to become the norm. Worship leaders, we must identify and kill performancism while we can.

Read it all here.  And be sure to read the comments to the article - they are a must-read as well.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Tonight at the Cafe: My Back Pages

From the 30th Anniversary Concert:

Crimson flames tied through my ears
Rollin’ high and mighty traps
Pounced with fire on flaming roads
Using ideas as my maps
“We’ll meet on edges, soon,” said I
Proud ’neath heated brow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now
Half-wracked prejudice leaped forth
“Rip down all hate,” I screamed
Lies that life is black and white
Spoke from my skull. I dreamed
Romantic facts of musketeers
Foundationed deep, somehow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now
Girls’ faces formed the forward path
From phony jealousy
To memorizing politics
Of ancient history
Flung down by corpse evangelists
Unthought of, though, somehow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now
A self-ordained professor’s tongue
Too serious to fool
Spouted out that liberty
Is just equality in school
“Equality,” I spoke the word
As if a wedding vow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now
In a soldier’s stance, I aimed my hand
At the mongrel dogs who teach
Fearing not that I’d become my enemy
In the instant that I preach
My pathway led by confusion boats
Mutiny from stern to bow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now
Yes, my guard stood hard when abstract threats
Too noble to neglect
Deceived me into thinking
I had something to protect
Good and bad, I define these terms
Quite clear, no doubt, somehow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now
Bob Dylan 1964

From here.

Time to put this one up again

Sometimes it seems helpful to take the long view.

Saturday, May 10, 2014


In 2007, I wrote this piece about my mother, Marian Coleman Ailes (1933-1977).  With Mother's Day here I thought I'd republish it.  I am so very grateful for her life.

My brother and I with mom, circa 1964.
This past week was my mother's birthday and it's caused me to reflect, as I often do on her birthday. She was the one most responsible for bringing me to the Lord. She was a devoted Christian Scientist who had an extraordinary transformation in her life when she came to Christ in 1974. She impacted so many people around her. Not long ago, my dad told me that in the last years of her life, when we were living in Hawaii, she use to go the local Episcopal Church for Eucharist and prayer. I had no idea - my first introduction to the Episcopal Church was when I first walked into Truro in 1979. But according to dad, she was on the Canterbury Trail. I can certainly see that now.

She won a full four-year scholarship to Smith College in the early 1950s (her college roommate was the poet, Sylvia Plath), but she hadn't been there long before she found that the school was teaching a radical secular humanism which she totally rejected and so she resigned her scholarship and put herself through college, graduating from Hunter College in New York City while working at McGraw Hill.

When we were living in Charleston, South Carolina (1971-1973), we were all still devout Christian Scientists. We only saw the Christian Science Practitioner when we were sick (though we were all immunized, and I do remember my dad giving me aspirin when I had a fever). Yet, my mother was all ready searching—she had tried out Edgar Casey and Transcendental Meditation (that was an interesting time) and then thought it might be a good idea to have an inductive Bible Study on Sunday mornings before the service began at the First Church of Christ Scientist in downtown Charleston.

That went on for a while and she a got a good group together—only they were studying the Bible without the Science and Health by Mary Baker Eddy (just not done). They were just actually reading it - the whole thing, not just the bits like the Science & Health instructed, each week. Somehow the "Mother Church" in Boston got wind of it and told her to shut it down.

That sure left a lasting impression. Why did this beloved church suddenly get so put-out because some lady in Charleston wanted to study the Bible with a bunch of other Christian Scientists? Was it dangerous? It had them scared to death and they shut it down. She was pretty ticked off about that. I wasn't so unhappy because we were coming to church early and I had to hang around for an hour being still.

We moved to San Diego and she got so sick with cancer and through friends back east, a local pastor from the United Methodist Church (who had no idea she was a Christian Scientist) came to visit her in the hospital and shared the Gospel with her, not only in word, but through friendship. After a year of conversation, she made a commitment to follow Jesus rather than Mary Baker Eddy and we gave up going to the Christian Science Church, after four generations in my mother's family.

She then started praying for her family, for my dad, my brother and me. I was a particular challenge in that I was wanted to grow up as fast as I could so I could be a flower child and move to San Francisco with flowers in my hair (of course, by the time I would actually be old enough to do that the flowers would all be gone, replaced with Disco balls). But I was pretty determined to be rebellious (I escaped to an Alice Cooper Concert on my twelfth birthday, but that's another story). 

My brother and I with mom in Hawaii, circa 1977.
So she was praying, and getting all her friends to pray. Finally, she persuaded me to go to a Christian coffeehouse sponsored by this pastor's church. It turned out it was a Methodist church in renewal and reaching out to to all the hippies floating down the coast from San Francisco to San Diego. 

Of course, the Jesus Movement was in full swing. Bob Dylan was about to be hit up north in LA and Bono was experiencing his version in Ireland (and surprisingly, even Alice Cooper would come to follow Jesus too). At the time, though, I just couldn't believe it when mom said that I could stay out until midnight as long as I stayed with her designated people (who looked like hippies to me). I thought she had either lost her mind or she'd become, like, the coolest mother ever. So I did it, I went, and well, that changed everything for me.

We moved to Hawaii and mom's cancer returned and it was a great challenge for our family. But we stayed together, laughed together, cried together, prayed together, and somewhere along the way my mother and I became friends. Very good friends. In her last weeks we started each morning off, before I went to school, with Bible Study. She was teaching to the end.

I try to live my life in a way that I would hope would honor her. In these rather tough days, I think about her and her little Bible Study in Charleston, and the Mother Church up north and all that it led to. God turned a defeat into a brand new life. And then He did it again. And again. And again. And He'll do it again. That's His Promise.

Thanks, Mom, I do miss you. Thanks for giving me life - and showing me the Way to Life.


Wednesday, May 07, 2014

A pledge we can agree on

After I read the list of signatories I was amazed, simply amazed.  I tweeted to @markdtooley Still amazed to see you and PB Schori on the same signature list - and not one piglet in the sky!

From here:

More than 150 American Christian leaders from across ecumenical lines are issuing a call to action in response to a crisis facing ancient faith communities.

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) and Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA), co-chairs of the bipartisan Religious Minorities in the Middle East Caucus, hosted a Capitol Hill press conference this morning featuring several prominent American Christian leaders who will be releasing a “Pledge of Solidarity & Call to Action” on behalf of Christians and other religious communities in Egypt, Iraq and Syria who are increasingly threatened in the lands they have inhabited for centuries.

The Pledge, in part, says: “Now facing an existential threat to their presence in the lands where Christianity has its roots, the Churches in the Middle East fear they have been largely ignored by their coreligionists in the West… American religious leaders need to pray and speak with greater urgency about this human rights crisis.”

Read it all here.  

More than 100 Christian leaders supporting the document include:

  • Leith Anderson, President, National Association of Evangelicals
  • Robert Duncan, Archbishop, Anglican Church in North America
  • Timothy George, Dean, Beeson Divinity School
  • Russell D. Moore, President, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
  • Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop, the Episcopal Church
  • Mark Tooley, President, Institute on Religion & Democracy
  • Jim Wallis, President and Founder, Sojourners
  • Donald Wuerl, Cardinal and Archbishop, Archdiocese of Washington

Among those scheduled to attend the press conference include Canon Andrew White.

Read the pledge here.