Piety Hill Musings

The ramblings of the 51 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 new hockey/basketball arena.

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Location: Detroit, Michigan, United States

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Two noteable passings today

Two interesting people died today.

From the New York Times, via TitusOneNine...

William F. Buckley Jr., who marshaled polysyllabic exuberance, famously arched eyebrows and a refined, perspicacious mind to elevate conservatism to the center of American political discourse, died Wednesday at his home in Stamford, Conn.Mr Buckley, 82, suffered from diabetes and emphysema, his son Christopher said, although the exact cause of death was not immediately known. He was found at his desk in the study of his home, his son said. “He might have been working on a column,” Mr. Buckley said. Mr. Buckley’s winningly capricious personality, replete with ten-dollar words and a darting tongue writers loved to compare with an anteater’s, hosted one of television’s longest-running programs, “Firing Line,” and founded and shepherded the influential conservative magazine, “National Review.”He also found time to write 45 books, ranging from sailing odysseys to spy novels to celebrations of his own dashing daily life, and edit five more. Two more books, one a political novel, and the other a history of the magazine called “Cancel Your Own Goddam Subscription” are scheduled to be published in 2007.The more than 4.5 million words of his 5,600 biweekly newspaper columns, “On the Right,” would fill 45 more medium-sized books.

And less well known, but certainly very interesting....

Myron Cope dead at 79
By The Tribune-Review Wednesday, February 27, 2008
His high-pitched screech was the most unlikely to serve as the voice of Steeler Nation.
Yet for more than three decades, Pittsburgh's football faithful muted their televisions and turned up the radio to hear the beloved icon known simply as Myron.
Hall of Fame Steelers broadcaster Myron Cope died this morning at a nursing home in Mt. Lebanon, said Joe Gordon, a former Steelers executive and a longtime friend of Cope's. Cope had been treated for respiratory problems and heart failure in recent months, Gordon said.
He was 79.

He was the inventor of The Terrible Towel, the yellow towels Steelers fans wave over their heads during the games.

Friday, February 22, 2008

A sad statement about the City of Detroit

Wednesday the Mayor of Detroit met with City Council. Avoiding talking about the legal troubles the Mayor is in, they discussed other topics, one of which is the condition of the Detroit Police Department. The Mayor said that they need 500 more officers (due mostly to retirements and those quitting), and then made this sorrowful statement (as recorded in the Detroit News)

He added that the city is struggling to find new officers -- especially those who are black or are Detroiters -- because they can't pass the drug test for marijuana.
"If you can't stop for 10 days, we don't want you driving a truck or carrying a gun," Kilpatrick said.

I can understand wanted to encourage people in your own city to be employed by your police force, but there is no residence requirement to do so. But really - can't find enough detroiters because they can't pass a marijuana drug test? If this is true (and/or truthfully reported) it is an awful statement about the state of Detroit's young men and women.

And BTW - I would hope they aren't just stopping for 10 days if they apply........

Friday, February 15, 2008

The Inge anxiety overshadows camp

Pitchers and Catchers have reported to Detroit Tiger Spring Training, with Brandon Inge there as a catcher.

Manager Jim Leyland said that he wants Brandon there, but doesn't because he knows he is unhappy not starting.
Can you see the anxiety in this photo here? Talk about two people who like each other but are unhappy about the situation and attention to it - it shows in the photo!

The banner is nearing its end

Last year the banner was down for a period of time while we did some restoration work on the windows.

But now the wind has done a number on it and it has come to the end of its life. Here is a photo of the corner blowing up in the wind. 2 of 6 gromits have pulled out from the wall, ripping the banner. The printing on it, from the movement, is cracking.

This is actually the second banner. After the first one was damaged by wind, we replaced it with a new one inviting prayers for the Tigers AND Lions (the Lions stadium had opened by then). The first one was installed in 2000, before I arrived.

The cost for these are considerable, and I don't think we will replace it immediately. Our new electronic sign carries the "Pray Here for the Tigers" message in season. Perhaps next year we will put up something for our 150th Anniversary, and then if the Red Wings build a new arena nearby.....

A belated St. Valentine's Day

Meg wanted to show off her Valentine's Day dress, so here it is.
She is quite the ham for the camera, even if it is just my camera phone.
And with the new digital technology, every kid, after having their photo taken, says, "let me see, let me see" for the view screen. My boys find it amazing we used to have to wait a few days to see our photographs, which we sent out for developing!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

425 hours later....

...I turned in my Detroit Police Department Chaplain badge today. I volunteered 425 hours since November 2004 according to my time sheets on file (and I am missing a couple months of xeroxed sheets).

But with a new Chain of Command having been elected it was time to evalutate my continued membership with the DPD Chaplain Corps. With a 16 volunteer hours a month requirement I don't always have that much monthly time available, nor am I available for a required monthly evening meeting. I am saddened to have to do this because I enjoyed the privilege of caring for the officers at the old 1st Precinct, the Central District, The Court Unit (especially our own Sr. Malinda) and the Mounted Unit (when it was still in existance) and will miss that interaction.

As for the future. A Michigan State Police Chaplain suggested I consider volunteering with them (and they have a 6 hour a month requirement). And through my Motorcity Horse Force Foundation http://www.motorcityhorseforce.org/ connection I have come to know some of the Wayne County Sheriff's Department Mounted Unit officers and have thought of volunteering to be their chaplain. I particularly enjoy working with the Mounted Units, having learned to ride in the First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry while in college.

Police Chaplaincy is something I really enjoy, and feel called to, and I look forward to how that will come into effect in the coming months.

An amazing photo

This is the largest statue of Christ, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

It is 130 feet tall!

What is amazing is capturing this photo of lightning striking it!

Rector's Rambling for February 10th

Friends -

My Rector's Rambling in the weekly Chronicle was cut off before the end, so I thought I would reproduce it in full here.


We have finally come to my favorite season of the Church year – Lent. I certainly like Eastertide and Christmastide too, but Lent is a time that appeals to my sense of order and discipline, a sense that is well hidden under layers of disorganization and sloth! It is during Lent that I make a good effort, by God’s grace, to ‘clean house’ spiritually, and prepare myself for the coming celebration of the Resurrection at Easter.

One of the things even the world has noticed is the Lenten discipline of “giving something up for Lent”. Unfortunately, the world doesn’t really understand why. It isn’t to lose weight, or to prove your will-power. It is about holiness and learning sacrifice (which actually means, from the Latin, to make holy) in our lives.

When we ‘give something up for Lent’ we are doing a couple of things. One thing we might give up is something that is not good for us. If this is true we give it up in hopes of learning to live without it not only in Lent, but permanently (smoking is a good example of this!). Other things we might give up for Lent are things that are not necessarily bad for us, but are a good thing to give up because we need to learn that we don’t have to give in to every desire or passion we might have! Not eating meat on Fridays (or perhaps Wednesday or Friday) is not because meat is bad, but because we sacrifice it to learn the discipline of not having it whenever we may want it! And the expense saved by eating vegetarian or a simple fish or egg dish could be used for something like your UTO offering, or other giving to the poor.

But ultimately we do this in Lent because we need to learn that we can depend on God and His grace to conquer our passions (as scripture calls it “the flesh”) and not be enslaved by it! A Russian Orthodox priest and I were once discussing the strict Lenten discipline in their Church. I asked if he expected his 7 year old to keep a Lent without sugar, oil, eggs or meat (all 40 days). He quipped, “If my son can’t learn to say no to a candy bar or hamburger now, how is he going to learn to say no to the allure of drugs, alcohol, or pre-marital relations when he is a teenager – especially when the rest of the world is encouraging it?”

Becoming holy is learning how to say no to the temptations of the World, the Flesh, and the Devil, so we have room to say Yes to God! Lent is a good training period for us!


Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Ash Wednesday

Lent begins.....

ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who hatest nothing that thou hast made, and dost forgive the sins of all those who are penitent; Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we,worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness. may obtain of thee, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

This Collect is to be read every day in Lent, after the Collect appointed for the day.

Some views from the Shrove Tuesday gathering

A great time was had by all! It was our largest Shrove Tuesday gathering to date, about 60 people, and a dozen acts were shared at the talent show.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Shrove Tuesday

The day before Lent, and it is not only a dieter's nightmare, but particularly for those of us Low Carbing.

The big threat?


The lard, sugar, and flour laden treat!

Combined with Pancakes and Ice Cream at the Shrove Tuesday dinner tonight.

It is an insulin overload day - diabetics beware!

And of course tomorrow we Fast.

I will stick to the sausage tonight - avoiding the carbs.....

But I hear the Pączki calling....in Polish....and unfortunately I went to a Polish High School and can understand enough Polish to hear the beck and call!

Monday, February 04, 2008

If not theological correctness, what is it?

Today I read this quote by the new Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago -

"That's one of the tragedies afflicting the church right now," he said. "So many of us seem to think that salvation depends on our theological correctness."

So then I just have to ask - if not being correct about God, then what is our Salvation dependent upon? If we don't believe that Jesus is Lord and His is the only name under heaven by which you can be saved, then you certainly not "theologically correct". And if you hold a belief contrary to this, then is God and His holy Word a lie?

Of course, when this bishop (and all others) was consecrated, he promised to guard the faith, unity and doctrine of the Church. Does this include the theological correctness that Jesus Christ is uniquely Lord? How about guarding the Faith as the Church has believed throughout all time?

Sigh. Pray, Pray, Pray. Being theologically correct - or at least desiring to be so - matters. May God the Holy Ghost guide us in this conversion of life!

Baseball is starting!

The Tiger pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training in less than two weeks - Hurray!

But even closer to home, we got a phone call yesterday, asking Andrew to join the 10 year old tournament team. Practice started YESTERDAY! They are practicing this month at an indoor facility on Sunday afternoons. Then in March they add a few weekday evenings (indoor and out if weather permits). And then they play their first tournament in April before the regular little league season begins.

He then plays on a regular Little League team for the regular season, and plays another tournament Memorial Day weekend when there are no Little League games. After the regular season ends in Late June, they then play in tournaments, including the Little League District playoffs.

I can almost smell the fresh cut grass and hear the crack of the bat!