Saturday, July 25, 2009

Sunday, August 2nd, Ninth Sunday after Pentecost. Proper 13

© 2009 by Louie Crew

Today’s Lections

The Collect

Let your continual mercy, O Lord, cleanse and defend your Church; and, because it cannot continue in safety without your help, protect and govern it always by your goodness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

2 Samuel 11:26-12:13a

In the epistle for today, Saint wants Christians to live in contrast to the those who are tossed about from doctrine to doctrine by people’s trickery: “But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.”

In a very different context, Nathan the prophet “speaks the truth in love” to David -- harsh truth, saving truth: “You have despised me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife. Thus says the LORD: I will raise up trouble against you from within your own house….”

David might have protested, “No, Lord, I have not despised you. I have just disobeyed you, and for that I am truly sorry.” Indeed, in the version Samuel gives, “David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the LORD’”; but David does not deny that he has despised God. His behavior indicts him. We confirm out attitudes about others not by the love we profess but by the love we enact.

So many Christians tell me, “I have nothing personal against lgbts.” But their behavior belies the claim. They allow our taxes to pay for benefits accorded to their relationships but not accorded to ours. Most rarely stand up for us when their friends revile us, and persecute us, and say all manner of evil against us. They confirm their attitudes about us not by the love they might profess, but by the unloving behavior they enable and sometimes even participate in.


Our neighbor's a fag and bakes good cakes,
as parents are careful to warn children.
But he's just an undertaker,
so there ain't much way
he could harm no living thing.

He even married wunts,
to a widow schoolteacher;
but their maid let out
how the two lived in separate parts
of the house right from the beginning,
and the teacher, being sickly,
conveniently upped and died real soon.

I think those boys were wrong to beat him up
when he wrote the paper about Anita.
A little sugar in his gas tank
or a few discreet breathing calls
oughta been enough to keep him scared
to make another public move.

We ain't got nothin gainst queers, really,
long's they don't do nothin or tell nobody.
We never have let the Baptists
tell us how to run our lives.

-- Louie Crew, 1978

Has appeared:

  1. Rural Gays and Lesbians. An anthology edited by James
    D. Smith and Ronald Mancoske. NY: Harrington Park Press, 1997.
  2. Gruene Street March 1997. An online journal
  3. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services 7.3 (1997):
  4. Parva Sed Apta 2007

Psalm 51:1-13

Two weeks ago, on the 7th Sunday after Pentecost, when we first encountered King David as a voyeur, I mentioned this psalm, noting

This dark side of David is familiar. After he had wronged Bathsheba, he sent her husband Uriah to the front lines so that he would have the best chance of being knocked off, as he was, and then in Psalm 51 David has the audacity to pray to God, “Against you and you only have I sinned”! What chutzpah! Ask Uriah's survivors.

Be very careful if your Confessor gives as your penance the recitation of the 51st Psalm. Don't apologize just to God; go and make things right with the one you have wronged.

I learned about asking for forgiveness the hard way. When I was in the first grade I stole a nickel from a fat girl who lived “on the other side of the tracks.”

My parents were horrified when I bragged about it. I had to fetch my own switch, but the worst part was afterwards: they put me in the 1939 black Chevrolet, drove to the other side of the tracks, and said I must confess what I had done, give back the nickel, and tell the girl that I was sorry. If they did not hear every word of it while sitting in the car, I would have to tell her again.

I have never stolen a thing since. I cannot claim any virtue for that fact: I don’t have anything to do with it: I have never even been tempted to steal again. "Thou shalt not steal" was dramatically inserted into my spiritual DNA.

Unfortunately my parents pedagogy did not have the same efficacy for many other temptations.

Ephesians 4:1-16

I founded Integrity in 1974 as a newsletter, titled Integrity: Gay Episcopal Forum. In the first issue, dated November 1974, I called for the creation of chapters and indicated that I would put subscribers in the same area in touch with one another. I noted that Ernest and I knew very few gay people and none that were gay Episcopalians in our tiny town Fort Valley, Georgia. [Later we met a few.]

By mid-November a priest named Tyndale and a layperson named Wycliffe each called from Chicago. Neither knew the other, and I put them in touch. With Reformation names like theirs, the Holy Spirit was saying something very powerful to me. Others called from Chicago and a group of 6-8 met in Wycliffe’s apartment to found Integrity’s first chapter in December. That chapter hosted our first national convention at the Cathedral Church of St. James in the summer of 1975.

In the early days of Integrity, my salary was especially low as a professor at a small state college for black students. I saved money by taking all trips on buses rather than airplanes, and I would routinely write a bishop or two en route to set up appointments to talk about the new ministry. I spent the summer of 1977 at the University of Texas as a fellow for the National Endowment for Humanities. When I returned to Fort Valley from Austin, I got off the bus in Jackson, where I had an appointment with Bishop Duncan Gray, Jr. He graciously received me and listened patiently to my story.

Late in conversation, he said, “I have made strong commitments to Civil Rights that I won’t dilute by being your public advocate; but your ministry is very important and I sense that God has a hand in it. I have long known that some good gay priests serve faithfully in the Diocese of Mississippi, and for the most part they have given me less trouble than some of their straight counterparts.

“But you need to know something about leadership,” he continued. “You need to hold yourself to a higher standard than you might feel necessary as a private citizen. You need to think of the consequences of your behavior on those whom you serve, not just of the consequences that you might be willing to bear for yourself.”

Bishop Gray was giving the same counsel that Saint gives to the Christians at Ephesus in today’s readings: “I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

I can’t begin to describe the power of what this man -- a Bishop!, like me a Southerner! and a Christian -- was saying to me.

I asked him to bless me and knelt as he laid his hands on my head to ask God to be with me.

As gay male of my generation, I had been brought up to think of myself more lowly than it is healthy to think. I had easily thought of myself as a worm, as creature of little worth if those who liked me really knew who I am. Bishop Gray treated me as a joint heir of Jesus Christ. With that spiritual birthright, one wants to take responsibility.

John 6:24-35

Jesus understands the dynamics of the crowd. Many come along for the show, for the impressive miracles, for the lovely stained glass, for the miles of organ pipe well played…… ‘What sign are you going to give us? Are you going to do the manna trick that Moses did in the wilderness?’

‘Moses didn’t do it; God did,’ Jesus correct them.

And then in a rhetorical switch that John often uses, the tale shifts from narrative to metaphor. It does so in ways less disruptive than would have seemed appropriate in the synoptic Gospels. The synoptics were written nearer the time of Jesus. John is writing decades later, when the meaning of Jesus’ life, not just the narrative of its details, focuses attention.

Manna and real bread shift to spiritual sign and symbol: "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty."

People don’t talk to each other like that. John has Jesus interpret himself in ways that the disciples did not understand until after Jesus’ death and resurrection. Rather than say about him, “Jesus is the bread of life,” John puts the words into Jesus’ mouth: “I am the bread of life.”

Rhetorically it works. Small wonder John was known as John the Evangelist.

See also

Friday, July 3, 2009

Sunday, July 26, 2009. The Eighth Sunday after Pentecost

© 2009 by Louie Crew

Today’s Lections

The Collect

O God, the protector of all who trust in you, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy: Increase and multiply upon us your mercy; that, with you as our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we lose not the things eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen..

For several reasons we might call this “Greater Expectations Sunday”:

  • The disciples are sure they won’t have enough food to feed the five thousand people; Jesus knows that the amount the little boy gives will be multiplied to become enough.

  • Saint Paul tells Christians at Ephesus that they have not yet imagined what they are able to accomplish through God’s power working within them.

  • The psalmist sees, as does God, that all have “proved faithless; all alike have turned bad”; yet the psalmist has greater expectations “when the Lord restores the fortunes of his people.”

  • In the collect we ask God to multiply upon us his mercy.

2 Samuel 11:1-15

The Samuel reading alone counters the theme of ‘greater expectations.’ In it David goes from bad to worse, from peeping-Tom seducer of Bathsheba to a criminal who arranges for the almost certain death of her husband Uriah. In modern law King David could be charged and convicted of murder.

I reflected on David’s abuse of his power in my comments about the readings for last Sunday (see below). What I find particular refreshing about the biblical narrative is the clarity with which David’s misbehavior is reported. Indeed, the candor and the confession (Psalm 51) seem almost to get David off the hook. Whether we like it or not, he keeps his stature as Israel’s most beloved king. Undoubtedly his reign was a great improvement over Saul’s, and his kingdom enjoyed much prosperity -- always good for a politician’s reputation.

David was also blessed not to have 24-hour coverage on world TV. Compare President Clinton and his affair with Monica Lewinsky. There was significant delay between David’s deeds and the public knowledge of the deeds -- time for David to shore up his reputation and his popularity with the public.

Yet Samuel’s details mercilessly indict him, much as the stains on Monica’s dress indicted President Clinton. Uriah is too good even to cooperate with David’s plan to make Uriah appear to be the father of David's love child. Out of loyalty to the king, Uriah sleeps at the entrance of the king’s house rather than go home to sleep with his wife. David tries getting Uriah drunk, and that won’t work either. No Cialis. No Viagra. No erection lasting more than 3 hours.

David resorts to putting Uriah at the front lines so he cannot testify at any paternity hearing.

(Note that President Clinton did not try to get anyone murdered to cover for himself.)

Psalm 14

The psalm is a difficult to follow in places. The second half of the first verse has no clear relation to the first half, yet verse 2 does cohere with the first half of verse 1, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God’…[yet God,] the Lord looks down from heaven upon all of us….” The fool is a fool for not knowing about God’s attention to all the details of our lives.

The psalmist spends most of the psalm revealing the ubiquity of evil that God beholds. Yet in verse 4 the psalmist speaks of ‘my people’ as the victims of the evil-doers, not evil-doers themselves. The evil-doers tremble noticing that “the righteous” enjoy God’s protection. The psalmist concludes the evil-doers will not win out in the end, “when the Lord restores the fortunes of his people.”

James Russell Lowell put it this way:

Though the cause of evil prosper, yet the truth alone is strong;
Though her portion be the scaffold, and upon the throne be wrong;
Yet that scaffold sways the future, and behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above His own.

Ephesians 3:14-21

Saint Paul did not look to the culture around him to validate the Christian witness. Rather, he spoke of our “inner being” and prayed that Christians at Ephesus would be strengthened therein.

In a post-Christian age, Christians easily become despondent as we see our numbers decrease and the church’s influence diminish. We can learn much from those at Ephesus: they lived in a pre-Christian age. Numbers of Christians were very small until well into the fourth century, and they had very little influence on the culture around them.

Saint Paul asserts that God’s “power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine.”

Jesus started with only 12, and one of those was a lemon. Why do we feel we must have mega-crowds to “accomplish abundantly”?

John 6:1-21

Charles R. Bell, long-time pastor of First Baptist Church in Pasadena, California, attended Howard College in Birmingham, Alabama with my father in the 1920s and came to his hometown Anniston for his first assignment. The parsonage was one block behind our house, and Charles and my father planted a victory garden in the vacant half of the space that separated us. I was a small child and Bell was my major hero.

When I was a student at Baylor (1954-58), I was delighted that Bell came speak on campus, but quite surprised by his interpretation of the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000. He dismissed the conventional view that Jesus himself multiplied the child’s five barley loaves and two fish to enough barley loaves and fish to feed the five thousand people.

Many in that crowd would never have left home without stashing a bit to eat in a shirt or bag, Bell noted, but no one would dare to eat in front of those who might not have brought anything, lest they be asked to share. According to Charles R. Bell, a far bigger miracle than the mere trickery of creating more loaves and more fish was the miracle of the hearts of the stingy changed when Jesus put at center stage the generosity of the child.

Too often we depend on the millionaires and other rich people to have enough to “accomplish abundantly,” but collectively a few poor people can make a huge difference when their hearts are changed. Witness the first eleven disciples.

See also

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Sunday, July 19, 2009. The Seventh Sunday after Pentecost

© 2009 by Louie Crew

Today’s Lections

The Collect

Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom, you know our necessities before we ask and our ignorance in asking: Have compassion on our weakness, and mercifully give us those things which for our unworthiness we dare not, and for our blindness we cannot ask; through the worthiness of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen..

This collect manifests humility in spades: 'We are ignorant.' 'We are weak.' 'We are unworthy.' 'We are blind.' Whew!

Are we really?

Is that the self-understanding of someone who attends closely to Jesus?: “I have not called your slaves (or servants), but friends.”

Do you want to be friends with someone who expects your default approach to be “I am ignorant. I am weak. I am unworthy. I am blind”?

Is that how you expect your friends to approach you?

Some prefer to be dummies before God. It’s much easier to put the onus on God to make all things right rather than take responsibility for making them right ourselves.

I love the sonorous language of the collect. At 72 I am weary enough to enjoy retirement from many of the challenges that used to engage me. As a gay person of my generation, I know too much about humility. The word comes from humus, ‘dirt’. Thousands in the church have told the world that I am ‘low down, dirty, despised, queer, faggot‘….that my marriage is not to be blessed, that folks like me should never be consecrated as bishop….

On this Sunday, I shall privately substitute my own collect:

Jesus, gentle brother, wise and compassionate, thank you for being our friend. Help us as we struggle to discern what the world needs. We pledge to adjust our own needs to accommodate the needs of others, near and far, in your name, God’s name, and the Holy Spirit’s name. AMEN

2 Samuel 7:1-14a

I spend a lot of time visiting churches, all over the country, but especially in my diocese. See God’s Real Estate in the Diocese of Newark. Many of these were grand when built, and most reflect the builders’ expectations the kind of dwelling that they thought God might like to live in, given what they could afford. The wealthier often built versions of their own homes. After all, most of the Tiffany glass for homes as well a churches was made in Newark, and Tiffany built its manager a home, fitted with fine glass, two blocks from where my husband I lived when we first moved to New Jersey. The 19th-century factory looked much like the dirty old churches built in that period until recently when a developer bought it and made it into condominium, with steep stairwells and expensive price tags.

One or two generations after building God a house, the congregation often finds it difficult to keep it fit for God to live there. The slate roof is expensive to repair, and few sweeps are around to clean the chimneys or the belfries. Rusted wire often covers the glass and statuary to protect from vandals and vermin. The place is too cold or too hot much of the year. The toilets often are not accessible to those with special needs, and the plumbing often looks like it came from a junk yard. Still, the costs of upkeep stretch the parish budget so that mission to the world outside the church is dramatically reduced -- perhaps grocery bags for the poor who arrive before the daily ration runs out, and some money to the rector’s discretionary fund for the hard core cases.

Small wonder that Samuel hears God saying that God got along well enough in tents for generations, thank you very much. David’s new prosperity is not reason enough to put the God into fancy digs. Besides, David’s character is suspect, and God prefers to have any fancy house for himself to be built by David’s son Solomon. So there!

Samuel is of course more diplomatic in telling David than I am. He attributes all of David’s military success to God. I personally doubt that God is in the business of killing our enemies, nor does God want us to kill them either. But monarchs are powerful, and Samuel understands how to survive.

One of the advantages of many voluntary societies within the church is that we don’t have to be significantly in the real estate business. We can pitch our “tents” where anyone will have us, and pay rent when required. O to be sure, when Integrity/New York City died in one of its recent incarnations, the convener at that time, a lawyer, gave much effort to the legal desertification required of the state, and he had to find an appropriate home for a treasure trove of vestments which some of the most distinguished vestment makers in The Episcopal Church had made for the chapter; but that was done fairly painlessly. Within four or five years, younger lgbt Episcopalians in New York City discovered that they needed to connect and applied for certification from the national board, and meeting strict requirements, were certified and are now meeting and thriving.

Parishes desperately need to be like Gideon’s scouts, and like God in this reading, lean and able to move quickly to new exigencies.

And try selling your notion that decrepit and dirty old buildings are “God’s houses.” You won't attract many of those who haven’t darkened your doors yet.

Psalm 89:20-37

Those who win the battles get to write the history of them. This psalm is propaganda. I will stay quiet in my pew when the congregation recites it.

Some dictators require everyone to display their picture in their homes. David, as the best known of the psalmists, managed to get this psalm into the Book of Common Prayer of his day so that anyone challenging his authority would be warned that God is own David’s side.

This dark side of David is familiar. After he had wronged Bathsheba, he sent her husband Uriah to the front lines so that he would have the best chance of being knocked off, as he was, and then in Psalm 51 David has the audacity to pray to God, “Against you and you only have I sinned”! What chutzpah! Ask Uriah's survivors.

Be very careful if your Confessor gives as your penance the recitation of the 51st Psalm. Don't apologize just to God; go and make things right with the one you have wronged.

Ephesians 2:11-22


Remember that at one time you lgbts were called ‘Sodomites,’ ‘defilers,’ arsenokoitai (‘temple prostitutes‘); ‘unnatural….’ by those who are called heterosexuals. Remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Christianity, and strangers to the new covenant of love, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both straights and lgbts into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it.

The entire history of Christianity is marked by its further extension, one by one, to groups previously excluded.

Mark 6:30-34, 53-56

When we make the Episcopal Church safe for sinners, we too will experience crowds like those Jesus drew everywhere he went in Mark’s story.

Self-righteousness is a paltry substitute for the loving, life-giving presence of Christ in our lives.

See also

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Sunday, July 12, 2009. Sixth Sunday after Pentecost

© 2009 by Louie Crew

Today’s Lections

The Collect

O Lord, mercifully receive the prayers of your people who call upon you, and grant that they may know and understand what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to accomplish them; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-19

What an extraordinary liturgy for Ordinary Time. The most far-out dean of a cathedral of TEC would hardly risk the dances here, much less the sacrifice of live animals. This combines the pageantry of a bullfight with the intrigue of an enemy peeking out of her window, with food typical at many parish suppers, “a cake of bread, a portion of meat, and a cake of raisins.”

We feasted on finger food at the end of the recent 20th anniversary of the Oasis, an official ministry of the Diocese of Newark with lgbt folks; and to begin the liturgy, the congregation walked quietly two long blocks down Washington Street, where we lined up behind a buff bag-piper. The bishop said some prayers and the bag-piper, with grand posture, heralded us back the route to the church.

The street was busy with lots of folks celebrating the first bright warm day of the year, watching us intently. I told Christine Spong, walking next to me, that I should have worn a bright dress so the on-lookers would have had a better idea of what kind of Christians we are, but later the rector told that a woman on the street had seen the rainbow flag hanging in the entrance od the church and had asked, half in unbelief, “Does that mean what I think it means?” He told her ‘yes’ and invited her to join us.

For the moment, forget Michal glaring out the window at our extravagant celebrations. She may scorn, but the God of all universes has invited us to dance and to feast.

Psalm 24

Lift up your heads, O gates;
lift them high, O everlasting doors;

As early as 8 or 9 I wondered how gates could have heads. Were the heads sculpture on top of high doors? But why were the doors above the gates?

As an old man fully aware of metaphor, I still have trouble distinguishing the ‘vehicle' from the ‘field’ in this phrase, used twice in the psalm, as pomp and as prelude to God’s entrance. Small matter my confusion: I like the wording. I am a member of a “generation of those who seek him.”

The psalm heralds access to God. God will bless

Those who have clean hands and a pure heart, *
who have not pledged themselves to falsehood,
nor sworn by what is a fraud.

I rejoice that later Jesus came to make hearts pure enough so that my access does not depend on my righteousness, but Jesus’. Ir is of no consequence if I fail to make the grade: Jesus makes it for me.

I am intrigued by the psalmist’s geological assumptions manifested in verse 2:

For it is he who founded [the earth] upon the seas *
and made it firm upon the rivers of the deep.

According to this wording, the earth is on top of seas, firm upon the rivers of the ocean.

How would we describe the world and its relation to water in a psalm sensitive to global warming?

For it is he who surrounded the land with waters*
and gave us the responsibility for not making ice to melt and flood the earth(?)

That does not work for me, because the new subject is too strong and distracts from the main subject. How would you rewrite the verse to reflect modern perceptions?

Ephesians 1:3-14

My aunt lost two children in childbirth. I was 6 or 7 when she lost the second. She had come to our home in Anniston because she could not get good medical care in the poor county where she lived. Yet the doctors could not save the second child any more than they could the first. Never had I heard fervent wailing like my aunt‘s as she lay in he guestroom at the front of our house. She wailed hour upon hour.

When I was 10, I was visiting my aunt out in the country, and she and my uncle took me with them to the state adoption agency in Montgomery to receive a lovely little girl, just six months old. I waited in the car as they went inside. As I was an only child, it felt like I was getting a little sister. No one could ever smile any wider than they did as they showed Sally to me. When we got back to their home, it seemed everyone in the small country town had bought Sally a dress or a toy.

Years later, when Sally and I were both long grown, my mother, in one of her less thoughtful moods, was angry about a family decision and said, “I don’t see why your grandmother is giving that (I don’t even remember what ’that’ was) to Sally rather than to you. After all, you are blood kin, and Sally is kin to her only by adoption?!”

Remembering the glow in the eyes of my aunt and uncle years earlier, I said, “Mother, you and I are children of God only by adoption. Doesn’t that count? Are we not heirs equal to God‘s blood relations?”

When General Convention in 1976 affirmed that “homosexual persons are ‘children of God’ and entitled to the full love, care and pastoral concern of the church,” I assumed that the battle was over. What other credentials does one need in the Church besides being God’s child?

But the church has steadily backed off from giving us the full love, care and pastoral concern. When Paul Moore, Bishop of New York, ordained lesbian Ellen Barrett to the priesthood in January 1977, many in the church went ballistic. In 1979 General Convention said that sexuality was appropriate for priests only in heterosexual marriages. 'It's okay to be a song bird,' they said, 'but don't you dare sing.'

Any priest openly in a committed same-sex relationship was virtually unemployable, and in the mid-1990s bishops brought to trial for heresy the Rt. Rev. Walter Righter, then assisting bishop in Newark, for ordaining an out gay man in a committed relationship….

One evening in anguish I asked my friend, the Rev. Carlisle Ramacharan, “How can they call us ‘children of God’ and treat us so abominably?”

“Easy,” he replied. When India outlawed calling people ‘Dalits’ or ‘untouchables,’ do you know what they were then called?

“No. What?” I replied.

“Children of God,” he said, smiling, as in “God love them; I don’t have to.”

In his letter to the Christians at Ephesus, Saint tells those outsiders, those gentiles, that they are not second class, that God had a plan for us even before God made the world: “He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he lavished on us.”

Listen up, Church. Listen up lesbians and gays. On this Sunday General Convention will be half-way done. Some there will be saying, like my mother on one of her worse days, “I don’t see why we should bless lgbt folk or consent to their consecration. After all, we have kept the faith. We have faithfully drunk Christ‘s blood. These nasty folks are God’s only by adoption. Let God love them. We don’t have to.”

God does love us fully and unconditionally.

Listen up all those other peeking out the window wondering whether God could possibly love you: yes God does. God knows everything about you and still fully and unconditionally loves you.

Mark 6:14-29

Note the lavish details of the feast, the sensual details of the dancing. Note the grandiosity of power: “And he solemnly swore to her, ‘Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.’"

Then the silver platter. Surely it was stamped "Sterling."

We cannot control the limits of those who will to do us harm. We rejoice to have much better news.

See also