Piety Hill Musings

The ramblings of the 50 year old Rector of St. John's Episcopal Church of Detroit. Piety Hill refers to the old name for our neighborhood. The neighborhood has changed a great deal in the over 150 years we have been on this corner (but not our traditional biblical theology) and it is now known for the neighboring theatres, the professional baseball and football stadiums and impending hockey arena.

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Location: Detroit, Michigan, United States

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Staying put.

We took the house off the market today. It has been on the market for 9 months and despite lots of showings and visitors at open houses, we have yet to have one offer. We are tired of living in 'limbo', with 20% of our stuff in boxes in storage in the garage to make the house look bigger, and jumping everytime the phone rings thinking we have to put away the homeschooling stuff and mop and vacuum for a showing.

So if we are going to move into a bigger home, someone will just have to appear and offer to buy our house while not on the market, while we are actually living in it with our stuff.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Court hearing today

I sat in on the hearing today between The Downtown Development Authority of Detroit and the American Atheists Inc., of which St. John's is an intervening defendant.

Last year we were offered a matching grant for a facade improvement and parking lot edges beautification program to improve the neighborhood. After doing the work and paying for it, the AAI sued to prevent us, Central United Methodist, and Second Baptist Church from benefiting from the program. Since then we have been paying interest in the $93,000 owed to us by the DDA.

It was interesting sitting in on the hearings. I don't want to comment on the actual proceeding and arguments since I am not a lawyer and might mess up what was being argued. But let me make some observations about the "scene".

First, the courtrooms in Federal Court are MUCH nicer than 36th District Court or the Frank Murphy Court building. Most likely, due to federal funds AND much less traffic (the other courts seem to handle MANY MORE cases in my experience with jury duty and police chaplain at 36th district).

Secondly, it was interesting to see that the AAI had one lawyer there to argue the case. He was in an expensive looking suit and had a pony tail. For the defense we had 7 lawyers - 3 for the city/DDA, 3 for St. John's including parishioner John Nicholson and two more from The Alliance Defense Fund
http://www.alliancedefensefund.org/news/story.aspx?cid=3958
http://www.alliancedefensefund.org/news/story.aspx?cid=4164
and a lawyer from the U.S. Department of Justice, who have filed and AMICUS (friend of the court) brief supporting our position.

Third, in the Gallery, there were two people from St. John's, and perhaps another 20 from Central Methodist and Second Baptist. There were three or four people there listening supporting the atheists. They all sat in the front row behind their lawyer. They were all older, with grey hair, and all looked very unhappy. Perhaps angry is a better observation. They confirmed a stereotype of atheist activitists being older angry folks dressed primarily in black and in birkenstock sandals with socks (at least one fit that dress code description to a "T").

Finally, all the lawyers on both sides seemed to me to be very well spoken.

The entire hearing from start to finish took a little over an hour. Of course there were hours of preparations and stacks of documents submitted in advance - all of which the judge has to go through to make his decision.

After the hearing, I leaned over to our lawyer and asked when the decision would be made, expecting an answer of next week or the one afterwards. The answer? It could take weeks or MONTHS!

And of course, then there is always the possibility of appeals, etc.

This is all an interesting learning experience for me, and unfortunately an expensive one for the Church as we continue to pay interest on the loan!

A ridiculous quote in the New York Times

In a recent article in the New York Times concerning upcoming Vatican approval for more use of the Tridentine (Old Latin) Mass in the Roman Church, there was this interesting quote.

"In addition, Jews and Catholics involved in interfaith relations have expressed concerns to Vatican officials that the Tridentine liturgy still includes passages offensive to Jews. The liturgy for Good Friday, for instance, contains a prayer “for the conversion of the Jews.”
The Rev. Keith Pecklers, a Jesuit liturgical scholar at the Gregorian University in Rome, said: “We’ve made tremendous progress in 40 years of Jewish-Christian relations since Vatican II. What will that mean now to return to a liturgy that prays for the conversion of the Jews on Good Friday?"

God help us if we are not praying for the conversion of the Jews, and Muslims, and Mormons, and Jehovah's Witnessess, and Scientologists, and all those who do not know that Jesus Christ is Lord as he as revealed himself to us in Scripture and the breaking of bread! What arrogance and prejudice to exclude any group/person from the Good News that Salvation is ONLY through the name of Jesus Christ!


Beverly Sills - gravely ill

My freshman year in college I lived in a 'College House' at the University of Pennsylvania called Van Pelt (I think it has been renamed since then).

Anyway, one of its unique things was that it has a special guest resident a week or two a year, someone famous from the arts. My freshman year it was Beverly Sills, the famous opera singer. I sat next to her one night at dinner, and heard her give an impromptu performance in the lounge next to the piano.

Honestly, I was not a opera fan then, and didn't know who she was other than that she was a famous opera singer. As I learned to appreciate it later on, I was honored, in hindsight, to have met her.

Here is the AP article about her illness and impending death
----------------------------------
BY VERENA DOBNIK
ASSOCIATED PRESS
Editor's note: An earlier headline gave incorrect information about opera singer Beverly Sills. She is gravely ill.

NEW YORK — Beverly Sills, the opera diva who won over fans worldwide with her sparkling voice and charming personality and later became a powerhouse in the New York arts world, is gravely ill with cancer, the Associated Press has learned.

Sills, 78, was chairwoman of the Metropolitan Opera until she resigned two years ago, citing health and family reasons. She remains the Met’s chairwoman emerita.

The Met would neither confirm nor deny news of her illness, but people close to the situation said Sills was at a Manhattan hospital, with her daughter at her side.

In an e-mail this week to members of its board, the Met said Sills was “gravely ill.” One person said she was suffering from lung cancer. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to announce news of her health.

Sills, a nonsmoker, underwent successful cancer surgery in 1974.

Born Belle Miriam Silverman in Brooklyn, the coloratura soprano made her opera debut in 1947 in Philadelphia in a bit role in Bizet’s “Carmen.” She became a star with the New York City Opera, where she first performed in 1955 in Johann Strauss Jr.’s “Die Fledermaus.” She was acclaimed for performances in such operas as Douglas Moore’s “The Ballad of Baby Doe,” Massenet’s “Manon,” Handel’s “Giulio Cesare” and the roles of three Tudor queens in works by Gaetano Donizetti.

She didn’t appear at the Met until 1975, shortly before her retirement from singing — which made it surprising when the Met asked her to sit on its board in 2002.

Beyond the music world, Sills gained fans worldwide with a personality that matched her childhood nickname — Bubbles. The relaxed, red-haired diva appeared frequently on “The Tonight Show,” “The Muppet Show” and singing with her friend Carol Burnett. As recently as last season, she hosted some of the Met’s new high definition theater broadcasts.

Sills retired from the stage in 1980 at 51 and began a career leading New York’s performing arts community as general director of City Opera. She became chairwoman of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in 1994.

Back from "Holiday"

We are back from our trip out west to Colorado. For details/photos about our trip we set up a blog for the boys to see. Sam and Andrew stayed here in Grosse Pointe Park with Jennifer's Dad while we traveled. When they got knocked out of the playoffs they went to Sturgis to wait for us to come back and bring them home.

To see the pictures go to www.cotrip.blogspot.com remembering that the photos/posts at the top are the END of the trip, scrolling down to previous posts to see the beginning of the trip.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Another mention in the newspaper

This time, in The Detroit Free Press by David Crumm, the religion writer
http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070623/COL15/706230312
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Here's a summertime suggestion that costs little and connects with some of Detroit's most impressive cultural gems: Plan a Sunday trip to the city's new RiverWalk or maybe a baseball game, but come early enough to visit a historic, downtown church.
In fact, you can make it a religiously diverse morning by stopping by the new historical marker honoring Chapman Abraham, Detroit's first Jewish resident, at Tri-Centennial State Park just east of the Renaissance Center.
"Our downtown churches are some of the city's real architectural jewels," said the Rev. David Eberhard, pastor of Historic Trinity Lutheran Church, within walking distance of Eastern Market, Comerica Park and the riverfront.
"Here at Historic Trinity, we've got the large stained-glass windows and excellent stone carvings that people appreciate seeing, plus more than 400 wood carvings and Pewabic tiles," Eberhard said. "We have people who come for all of it. They'll eat over at Eastern Market, visit the river and take in a ball game."
Best of all? You can come as you are. You'll find people wearing suits and dresses in downtown churches, but you'll also find casually dressed members and visitors.
The Rev. Carol Cole Flanagan, interim rector at Christ Episcopal Church near the Renaissance Center, said, "If you're wearing T-shirts or other casual clothes, you're welcome here. We have a very diverse congregation, multiracial, multiethnic, and we want people to feel comfortable."
Plus, Christ Church has two Tiffany stained-glass windows that rank among the city's most beautiful jewels.
There are a few religious limitations. For example, non-Catholics cannot fully participate in communion at SS. Peter and Paul Catholic Church, across the street from the Renaissance Center. But visitors are welcome.
To feel completely comfortable, just arrive early for worship and ask an usher a few questions.
Visitors also should realize that the length of services varies. The 8:15 a.m. service at Christ Church is 45 minutes long, but the 10:30 a.m. service at Detroit's oldest African-American congregation, Second Baptist Church in Greektown, can run for more than two hours.
Even the styles of downtown churches vary. On Woodward Avenue, near Comerica Park's entrance, are two churches with gorgeous, historic architecture and entirely different approaches to worship.
On one corner, beside the Fisher Freeway, is St. John's Episcopal Church, which describes itself as traditional and uses a form of liturgy that was published in 1928 and is no longer used in most Episcopal churches in the United States. On the other corner, facing East Adams, is Central United Methodist Church, a church that's famous as a center for political activism and proudly lists labor leader Walter Reuther and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. as having spoken from its pulpit.
"You'll find more creativity and diversity in some of our downtown churches than you'll find in neighborhood churches closer to home," Eberhard said. "And here in the city, we don't shut down for the summer. We look for visitors."

Friday, June 22, 2007

St. John's mention in the Detroit News Woodward Ave Series

I spoke on the phone with this reporter for 20 minutes, and faxed over some information about what "Piety Hill" means from our Centennial history book. This series has been running for several months, and after the first one appeared, I emailed the reporters and editors and recommended "Worship on Woodward" as an installment, which they hadn't planned yet. I have highligted the part about St. John's in the article below.
It can be found on line at http://detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070618/METRO/706180360&theme=Metro-Woodward
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The road the righteous travel is like the sunrise, the Old Testament says: "Brighter and brighter until the daylight has come."
Churches on Woodward have led the faithful of Metro Detroit along the road to enlightenment for 200 years.
From the presidency of John Quincy Adams, through the industrial revolution and into an era of new technology, Woodward Avenue has provided a prominent place for worship.
Beginning in 1824 when Episcopalians established St. Paul's Church on Woodward between Congress and Larned streets, through 1999 and the dedication of the Detroit Michigan Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Bloomfield Hills, the faithful have built dozens of worship houses along the grand avenue.
Today, there are 34 churches, from storefronts to cathedrals, on the 25-mile stretch of Woodward, from the Detroit River to downtown Pontiac.
"One of the things you notice about these churches is that they draw from well beyond their area," said Dennis Archambault of the Ecumenical Theological Seminary, which is on the site of the renovated former First Presbyterian Church, just north of Interstate 75. "They are magnet churches."
The avenue reflects much of the wide diversity of religious practices in the region: African Methodist Episcopalians, Baptists, Catholics, Congregationalists, Episcopalians, evangelicals, Greek Orthodox, Latter-day Saints, Methodists and nondenominational.
Indeed, around the start of the Civil War, the area from Grand Circus Park to Mack Avenue was dubbed "Piety Hill" because of the presence of a cluster of institutions that eventually included Central United Methodist Church, St. John's Episcopal Church, First Universalist Church, First Presbyterian and a synagogue, Temple Beth El.
Efforts to stay on Woodward have led some congregations to extremes. In 1936, amid the Depression, the Episcopalians dug under St. John's, near Comerica Park, to move the behemoth 60 feet so the city could widen the central artery. Just down the street, the Methodists were slicing up Central United Methodist and putting it back together like some giant jigsaw puzzle to accomplish the same feat.
Islam never rooted along the thoroughfare. But the first mosque in Detroit was just two blocks east, on Victor Street, near Henry Ford's Model T plant, where Muslims helped build autos and a metropolis.
Of all of the churches, today, the most diverse congregation is likely at St. Vincent de Paul in Pontiac. Blacks and whites worship there in large numbers, as do Filipinos and Hispanics. And the Hispanics are a diverse group unto themselves, with parishioners of Puerto Rican, Mexican, Cuban and Caribbean descents.
"You get a sense of the whole church when you look at our congregation, and when they look back up at the ministers," said the pastor, the Rev. Sean Sylvester. "You see an image of the church that is truly all of God's people."
The rich seek the divine on Woodward, along with the poor; the immigrants, with those of long-settled families.
As he helps guide a visitor on a tour of the recently renovated St. George Greek Orthodox Church in Bloomfield Hills, Angelo Mago points to the brilliantly painted icons of the faith that adorn ceilings and walls and the display of the relics of saints. Mago describes the sensuality of Orthodox worship. "Not only are you hearing the liturgy, but the icons help visually to bring you into communion not only with other people but the history of the church," Mago said. "In the liturgical richness of the church, one of the things that's important in the Orthodox faith is that all of the senses be filled."

Giants lose a close one!

Just a quick moment to check in.

On Wednesday the Giants lost a close one, to the Indians, 2-0, knocking them out of the playoffs in the semi-final round.

The starting pitcher hurt his neck in the first inning and Andrew came in and pitched 5 2/3 innings giving up the second run later in the game.

Everyone is sad and disappointed at the finish, but what a great season it was!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

A new word being used by the kids in Grosse Pointe Park

As the kids in GPPLL are talking to each other or to the coaches, instead of asking "who are we playing next?" they say, "who are we VERSING" (as in Giants versus the Devil Rays). I have never heard of the use of word in such a way.

Sounds odd to me. I looked the word up in several on-line dictionaries. The proper definition of VERSING is to tell a story in verse or poetry. Several "Urban Slang" dictionaries noted the new use of it as a verb from of VERSES.

Giants advance to semi-finals

On Monday Sam and Andrew's team won 6-0, our second straight shut out in the play-offs! This time it was Chris Gordon who started, and pitched a 2 hitter in 4 innings. Sam was supposed to pitch the middle innings, but Chris was HOT, so he stayed in. He pitched 7,7,12, and 13 pitches in the 4 innings, keeping him under 40 pitches, which allows him to pitch again on Wednesday if necessary. Billy Michels closed out the game for us.

Today the other two games were played today, and we now know that we will be playing the Indians on Wednesday. We beat the Indians 12-2 and 6-2 during the season, but they have been RED HOT since the last week of the season, scoring tons of runs in their last 3 regular season games, and then beating the devil rays and mariners in the playoffs. St. John's Parishioner Brad Thompson is an Indian.

The winner of the Giants-Indians game will play the winner of the Rangers-Devil Rays game for a best of three Grosse Pointe Park Double A World Series Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, weather permitting.

Monday, June 18, 2007

More on the possibility of a new hockey arena in the neighborhood

From the Detroit News on line
http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070618/SPORTS0103/706180381

DETROIT -- Mike Ilitch and the Detroit Red Wings have two months to tell city leaders whether they will exercise their option to renew for 20 years the exclusive lease -- considered the best of any NHL team -- for Joe Louis Arena and Cobo Arena.
The Aug. 16 deadline is expected to set in motion intense deal-making and negotiations that will involve the future of Cobo Arena, Joe Louis Arena -- the home of the Red Wings -- and how much money the state, city and taxpayers are willing to toss in to subsidize a new Detroit hockey arena.
"They talk to us all the time," Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick said. "They're still trying to decide whether to stay and improve the (Joe Louis) facility or move."
Ilitch, whose fortune started with a suburban pizza place in 1959, bought the Red Wings for $8 million in 1982. The team is now worth an estimated $258 million -- a value due in large part to the bargain-basement lease on the Joe. According to Forbes magazine, he is among America's richest citizens, worth $1.5 billion.
The Ilitch family, through its Olympia Arenas company, rents Joe Louis Arena and Cobo Arena for $450,000 a year. Olympia Arenas manages and operates all concessions and has exclusive rights for other events there, such as wrestling shows and concerts.
The lease expires in August 2008, and Olympia Arenas -- Mike Ilitch is president, his daughter, Denise, is vice president and his wife, Marian, is treasurer -- must notify the city this August whether it will opt out of renewing the deal, according to reports prepared for the Detroit City Council and the lease signed on Jan. 23, 1992.
Over the past decade, companies controlled by the Ilitches have acquired nearly all of the land behind their Fox Theatre and Hockeytown Café, fueling speculation they will build a new home for the Wings and move the team to the Foxtown area on Woodward north of Grand Circus Park.
No decision has been made, said Karen Cullen, a vice president for Ilitch Holdings, the company Mike and Marian Ilitch created to oversee their ventures, ranging from Little Caesars to the Detroit Tigers.
"Over the past 25 years, we have worked hard to contribute to improving the city of Detroit," Cullen said. "As we finalize our decision on Joe Louis whether to renovate or to build a new arena, either way we see this as a great opportunity to make a positive impact."
Some executives for Ilitch's companies are not sure city officials have the right deadline date. They note, for example, the team did not take occupancy for more than a year after the agreement was signed, a situation they suggest pushes the renewal date back.
Either way, a showdown is expected this summer.
Outside funding needed
Professional sports arenas experts say while the Red Wings may have the land to build in a location that would give them a near-monopoly on the post- and pre-game entertainment dollars from hockey fans, the project would still be too costly without government assistance -- especially since the Ilitches pay bargain-basement rent for control of the Joe and Cobo.
"They're going to look for help and probably considerable help" in building an arena for the Wings, said Marc Ganis, a consultant who helped engineer a new arena deal for the New Jersey Devils.
One potential funding stream, Ganis speculated, is "tax increment financing," which taxes property owners in an area to build a facility, which the city or another government entity would own and the Wings would rent.
Detroit entrepreneur and landlord Jerry Belanger, who this year opened the Park Bar one block behind the Fox Theatre, knows his bar would benefit if the Wings move nearby. "I should pay some of the cost because that's going to help me," he said. "But another business owner is going to benefit much more. That cost has to be shared fairly."
He also said if the public is asked to contribute, it should be done so those who attend games are the ones paying.
"I know there are a lot of little old ladies who don't like hockey and would probably have better use for their tax dollars than on a new arena," Belanger said.
If the Ilitches owned the building, the property tax burden would be too great to make it profitable, Ganis said.
The taxes on a $300 million building in Detroit would be $10 million a year.
Another funding stream is naming rights, which could be done for a new facility or Joe Louis Arena. Pepsi recently paid $68 million to have its name on the home of the Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche.
Council doesn't like deal
So far, the Red Wings and their owners have remained quiet. The city isn't saying much, either.
The city recently sold to Olympia Development, another of the Ilitch-run companies, two vacant, tax-reverted parcels behind the Fox for $200,000. Earlier this year, the city awarded Olympia development rights for the historic GAR building nearby.
The Ilitches are known as hard negotiators. In the 1990s, Mike Ilitch threatened to move the Tigers unless the team got a new ballpark -- which it did, across Woodward Avenue from his Fox Theatre and Hockeytown Café.
This time, Ilitch is in the driver's seat, thanks to the deal brokered in 1979 by Mayor Coleman Young that kept the team from moving to Pontiac.
Ilitch will decide whether to extend the lease -- the city has no vote -- and if the pact is extended, it will become even more favorable for him and the Red Wings.
Currently, the city imposes up to a 10 percent surcharge on tickets sold to events at Joe Louis and Cobo Arena; Detroit gets a cut of concessions and luxury suites.
If the lease is extended, the city will lose the surcharge -- which brings in about $2.5 million a year -- and, in five years, its share of concession and suite revenue. Council fiscal analyst Irv Corley, in a February report to the council on the lease, said the contract is "strongly in favor" of the Ilitch companies. He called it "convoluted" and questioned whether the city was receiving its fair share of concession sales.
The lease is much more lucrative than those of other teams. For example, the San Jose Sharks pay $1.6 million a year for the building and get a small percentage of ticket sales, but the team also chips in money for capital improvements and agreed to split with San Jose any profits from naming rights.
Council members have been upset for several years about the lease arrangement, but their anger reached a new level in February, when the fiscal analyst, at their urging, probed the specifics of the arrangement between Detroit and the Ilitch-family controlled company.
"This is clearly a sweetheart deal, and if they (the city law department) don't find a way to terminate this contract I'm going to turn it over to the FBI because this is ridiculous," Councilwoman Barbara-Rose Collins said.
Councilwoman JoAnn Watson also criticized the deal. "I think we need to lift the cloud over the mysteries shrouding the Cobo Arena business," she said earlier this year.
Councilwoman Sheila Cockrel said the agreement was necessary. "They were going to move. There was little else to do," she said.
In 1975, the Detroit Lions moved from Tiger Stadium to the Pontiac Silverdome; the Pistons left Detroit for Auburn Hills in 1978. The following year, the lease was signed with the Wings.
It's unclear how much the Red Wings are worth to the Detroit economy, but the pro hockey lockout in the 2004-05 hurt the city. Revenues from the ticket surcharge dipped from an average of $2.3 million a year to below $500,000. Bars, restaurants and parking lot operators also suffered.
"Generally there is too much emphasis put on how much sport teams help a community," said Dana Johnson, an economist for Comerica Bank. "Whether or not the Red Wings are here, people have a finite amount of money they will spend on entertainment. The difference is with the Red Wings, people are spending money in downtown Detroit instead of other places in Detroit or the region."
Neil DeMause is co-author of "Field of Schemes," which questions the public financing of public stadiums.
"You're about to have a very profitable organization that is going to try to do whatever it takes to make even more money," he said. "Mike Ilitch is a very good businessman, and the city is going to do what they can do to please him."

Update on the Double A play-offs

The playoffs started on Saturday, but not well. The Giants lost 7-5 to the Rangers, a team which we lost to once, and beat once, in the regular season. We stranded 11 base-runners, and in the ultimate indignity....hit into a triple play! The first baseman dove for a line drive and caught it. The bases were loaded, and the runners on first and second took off on contact (no outs). The first baseman jumped up and ran back to first before our runner got back to first.
The baserunner who was on second ignored the flailing command of the third base coach to go back to second. He made it all the way to third so that we had 2 men on third! The first baseman and short-stop, having the wherewithall (aided by the shouting of the Ranger coaches), made the third out at second!

Today was a better day. We played the Rockies, another team to which we beat once and lost once to during the regular season. Today we were dominant, beating them 8 to 0 - a shut out!

Our starting pitcher, Charlie Gordon, threw 4 2/3 hitless innings. When he gave up two back to back hits with two outs in the fifth we pulled him, just short of 60 pitches. This means he has to have two days off (Monday, Tuesday) and we could use him for the semi-final on Wednesday.
My Andrew came in in relief and got the next 4 batters out on 14 pitches, allowing him to pitch again tomorrow.

Interestingly, of the first three games today - all the teams that lost on Saturday won on Sunday. The last game (Nationals v. Rangers) I do not know the final score.

We play tomorrow at 4pm. If we win we are in the semi-final on Wednesday.
If we lose, there is a small mathematical chance we could make it. But we would rather just win!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

A great photo with St. John's in it!

From Sunday's Detroit News on-line
The Race for the Cure on Woodward Avenue

Saturday, June 16, 2007

It's Saturday, which means....

....the Jehovah's Witnesses will be knocking on doors this morning.

Last Saturday the JW's made the grace-filled 'mistake' of knocking on my door. I knew immediately who they were: bibles in hand, copies of The Watchtower, and dressed in their Sunday best. I was in my workout clothes (shorts and t-shirt).

When I saw them I started right up. "What a blessing today is for you!" "You have an opportunity to repent and turn to the truth about Jesus Christ!"

Stunned silence for a few awkward moments from the middle-aged woman and teen-aged boy.

"So you read the bible" she began, "I am glad to hear that".

"Oh yes, I read the bible...one translated from the original languages!" "The one you have in your hands is a mis-translation from Mr. Russell and Mr. Rutherford, the founders of your sect. Neither could read Greek or Hebrew, but they and their successors require that you only use their translation and their mis-interpretations for bible studay as published only by the Watchtower Society!"

At this point I look over to the teenage boy, who is probably more used to being treated rudely than being challenged. I turned to him and pleaded.
"For the sake of your soul, read the bible as handed down to THE CHURCH - and bible study materials from anyone else and compare it to the stuff you are required to read only!"

The woman jumped in, "We respect your opinion" "We are going to houses today to speak about why there is evil in the world" . This is a common ploy to start a conversation, used by the JW's. They of course have a watchtower publication to sell/give to me with all the answers to why they say evil is in the world.

I answer, "Evil is the privation of God's created goodness. Men loved evil and darkness more than goodness and light, and due to our free-will evil enters in when goodness is rejected"
She then asks, "have you ever heard about a war in heaven?"

I immediately respond, quoting the passage from Revelation "and there was a war in heaven, Michael and his angels...." and began to explain that the fallen spirits, the demons, have dominion over the earth.

I then looked again at the boy "This is why we must battle against the tempations of The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. The world seeks to draw us away with treasures and enticements (the JW's certainly understand this and reject the world in severe terms), the flesh entices us to pleasure and selfishness that is unlawful, and the devil seeks to deceive us. One great deceit was the founding of the Jehovah's Witnesses. Would God really hide the truth after the death of Jesus, until Mr. Russell figured out the truth 1800+ years later? Why, if the bible expressly forbids setting dates and times for Jesus' second coming was your sect founded on the setting of those dates TWICE, and now tries to hide that history from converts? Please look it up and find out if this is true....it is! And the devil would certainly try to deceive those who want to be prayerful and holy by having them deny revealed truths such as the Trinity - there is One God in three Persons, or that Jesus Christ is the Son of God!"

At this point the woman jumps in, "We believe that Jesus is a son of God." I respond as quickly - "Not just "A" Son of God, he is the unique Son of God, God himself, the second person of the Trinity who took flesh and died for our sins on the cross"

She then says, "well, I respect your opinion" and motions to the teenager, who has been completely silent throughout, to head down the steps of the porch. "Have a nice day" she says.
I plead, "Repent of this sin and turn to the truth that Jesus Christ IS Lord! - I will be praying for you!"

They moved quickly to the next porch and I waited on mine, near the edge across the driveway from them, to help my neighbors to avoid the deception. He kept looking back at me and I smiled and put my hands together in a prayer postion and then pointed to him and he looked away. No one answered next door, and the woman JW gave me an uncomfortable look as I was watching her leave that porch. She skipped several houses to get out of eye-shot of me.

This one was almost as good as when the Mormons came to the door of a house in Charleroi, PA while we were having a bible study, and almost all of them present had just finished my adult ed class on American Heresies. Boy did they ask the Mormon Missionaries all the uncomfortable questions, and didn't take their evasive responses. I imagine I will never see two mormons so anxious to get back out the door of a house!

God help us for not being better equipped to lead the JW's and Mormons from their errors, and for not being better about evangelism to lead our neighbors into the Good News of God in Jesus Christ before the heretic sects lead them astray.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Playoffs start tomorrow

The Double AA Grosse Pointe Park Little League Playoffs start tomorrow. Our team, the Giants, play the first game at 9am Saturday. The team finished first in the league in the regular season.
We actually finished tied for first, and as the email to the coaches explained to break the tie
"Giants and Devil Rays: they were 1-1 head to head and the Giants won the runs allowed tie breaker." We allowed 41 runs in 14 games. The Devil Rays allowed 59.

We have 3 play-off games to start, one Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. It is a 'round-robin', with the first two teams of four from the bracket moving on, which means you have to win at least 2 to move on. The semi-final is one game on Wednesday. The winners of the semi-final games play a best of three on Friday/Saturday and Sunday if necessary the following weekend.

Good Luck Giants!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Verlander throws a no hitter....


....and we were there!

Sam, Andrew, William and I were at the game, with the boys' Black Belt Club (Karate) outing.

What a great game. As memorable as the Tigers eliminating the Yankees last year in the ALDS.

WOW!

Last Tiger No-Hitter at home - 1952. Last Tiger No-Hitter - 1984.

And now June 12, 2007!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Bang, bang, bang.....




That is the sound of the construction going on on Woodward Avenue in front of the Church.


Having raised the bridge over I-75 six inches, they are now raising the road bed in front of the Church to meet the new height of the bridge.


Note the pile of dirt/stones near the corner of Montcalm Ave. It is up to the "Episcopal Church Welcomes You" sign which is about 10 feet high. Oh the temptation to climb it!!!




GRAND SLAM!!!

Sam and Andrew's team had their final game Saturday, before the playoffs begin next weekend.

They only needed a win to secure at least a tie for first place. All other 7 teams have at least one more game this week, but due to the way the schedule was done, we are done.

We played the Rangers, one of four teams to beat us this year (the other three each beat us once and we beat them once). In the second inning, Andrew hit an in-the-park GRAND SLAM, putting us ahead 4-0. By the 5th inning it was 10 nothing Giants, and the final was 10-2. It was really exciting and I am so proud of Andrew! Of course, this earned him the game ball.

Now we are at least tied for first place. With the way the tie-breaker works, if the other team with only 4 losses wins the next game, we still are seeded first in the play offs since the first tie-breaker is one an one game (each team we lost to we also beat once too), and then the next tie-breaker is least number of total runs allowed in the season - and with our pitches we have the lowest total in the league, period.

It has been a very exciting season, but the 'season' that count starts next weekend with the play-offs!

Friday, June 08, 2007

The First St. John's Garden Reception



With an idea copied from another parish, in Philadelphia, which has a torchlit reception in their garden after the Corpus Christi, we did the same last night at St. John's. It was a grand service, sublime music, and a wonderful gathering afterwards.

I can see that there will be many more occassions in the future to light the torches and gather outside for fellowship!

In addition to the 'crowd' shots, there is a picture of me with Dr. Lewis and our outgoing Edwards Organ Scholar, Susan DeKam, and incoming Scholar Richard Newman.

Also, a farewell shot of the Joneses , who came for Corpus Christi and are moving to Maryland. We will see them again before and after St. Michael's Conference in July.

I was surprised that many of the clergy who said they would be there did not show up, but Fr. Mike and I were up to the task of the service.

We also unveiled the new white dalmatic and tunicle, which matches the new white set we ordered for Easter.

Unfortunately the construction crews began an hour before the start of the service, to demolish the rest of the street and bridge over I-75, so some of the a cappella settings of the Mass were accompanied by the pounding of the cement by the jackhammer on the backhoes!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Corpus Christi Service TODAY

We will be celebrating, with grand solemnity, The Feast of Corpus Christi, on Thursday, June 7th at 7pm at St. John's Episcopal Church in Detroit.

The St. John's Church professional choir, under the direction of Dr. Huw Lewis FRCO, will be singing Vittoria's Missa O quam gloriosum est regnum, as well as pieces by Byrd and Mozart.

The Solemn High Mass is followed by Benediction and Procession.

After the service a reception will be held by torchlight in the parish garden (or in the Undercroft if the weather is inclement).

I hope to see you at the Festivities on Thursday, June 7th, beginning at 7pm.

St. John's is located on the corner of Woodward Avenue and I-75, next to Comerica Park. Free gated secure parking is plentiful in our lot next to the Church.For more information go to www.stjohnsdetroit.org

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

I know it is bad for the mortar....



....but I do like the look of Ivy growing on buildings. Here is a patch of it growing up the front. It will be taken down.

We have some great old photos of the entire front of the building covered in Ivy. I think it looks great, but we can't let it grow. (Perhaps as a project for the Sesquicentennial we can scan and post our historic photo collection!)

By the time I went to college at an "Ivy League" school they had already done away with the Ivy (which at The University of Pennsylvania was eating the serpentine stone on the old College Hall building - pictured here) before I arrived in 1984.





Monday, June 04, 2007

Overdue photos of the Garden Planting

We had a great crew of helpers to put the flowers in in the garden at St. John's!

Thanks to Kathy DiGuilio, who is a parishioner who does this for a living (click on the picture of her in front of the trailer to get her contact phone number) and coordinates our efforts and purchases the flowers.

Volunteers included Jeff and Laurie Smith, Clay Atwater, Bette Ann Hart, Sarah and Ralph Babcock, and my family.

Tristan Williams was there too, running support from his apartment in the office complex!










Sunday, June 03, 2007

Trinity Sunday

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost!

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen!