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Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Sermon on Exposition Boulevard

These started out as some of my thoughts (or what passes for such) some years back. Some things like wine improve with age; others, like sweat socks, not so much. You decide.

I used to be a Catholic--actually that's less than accurate. It's like saying I used to be an alcoholic. Those two statements have no past tense, or pretense (literary joke)-they just are and in this case I am both. 

The jaded, faded imitation of a person I am looks at his faith as a child and finds it easy to mock the boy on his way to manhood, but also envies him the beliefs that he had. When I threw the faith of my fathers into the ocean of doubt, I had nothing to hold onto in its place as I never had the courage of my own convictions and could not trust those of any other.

Today is Easter Sunday the most important feast in the Christian liturgical calendar and (pardon my pseudo-theological seminary sermon) precipitant of the article of faith that makes us Christian, if that's indeed what we are. I, of course, didn't actually attend classes at any seminary His Holiness, Pope Francis I, would recognize but I did stay in a Holiday Inn Express (and have the towel, and the drinking glass 'sealed for your protection' to prove it).

Christmas gets a lot of press and songs and cards and window dressing and don't look for a Macy's Day Parade to mark the start or end of Lent because that's not happening. In these parts, Christmas gets marketing help from every wholesaler and retailer imaginable and why not? Christmas is a lovely story, wonderfully symbolic and simply beautiful if you don't want to think too much about it.

Take a look a today in the New Testament of your choice and foreboding's afoot in every verse of every version about the events leading to Easter (those are the versions of my choice). And in one of the most ironic choices of terms associated with any aspect of Jesus Christ, is Good Friday, which marks His Crucifixion and Death (I went back and made the "h" a capital, not because there's hope for me but out of fear that there is no hope). And as you read the accounts, let's face it, the events of that day are absolutely horrible.

The crowd, the occupying forces, everyone, it seems has abandoned the Son of God who is sentenced to die (I'd say 'murdered' but some might argue the state does not murder) in an extraordinarily, excruciatingly manner. 

And it is both that death by Crucifixion but more importantly the belief in the Resurrection that so many commemorate today that is the defining event for every Christian, even the ones who seem more like Simon Peter than even they could ever admit in this life.  I want you to remember this. Come on, try to remember.
-bill kenny

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Not Even an Original Sin


James Tolgo, realizing the presumption of innocence until proven guilty may not apply to the same degree to knuckle-headedness and stupidity, what's the matter with you?

In the words of Howard R., the (late, I assume) athletic director at Carteret Academy for Boys, in reacting to boorish, bull-necked stupidity on a very long bus ride home after we got our buttocks beaten badly in varsity football by the Blair Academy Bozos (I have no idea of their mascot but Squirrel would be perfect, would it not?), and he berated a defensive lineman for trying to moon most of the Garden State Parkway with 'if they put your brain in a mosquito's a--, it would roll around and make a noise like a bee-bee in a box car.'

In my house, we go through six to nine pounds of peanuts a week, all for feeding squirrels. And here you are, Jimbo with an assault rifle (at the ready?)-kinda takes the sport out of it, especially since there wasn't any there to start with.

What's your take on badgers? Spoons at ten paces. Begin.
-bill kenny

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Faith of Our Fathers

This is Good Friday and if today there are rituals and obligations within your religious faith or value system, I hope you have a blessed day in their accomplishment and that their completion brings a measure of peace and a closer contact with The Sacred behind the scenery and machinery of our everyday lives to you and yours.

As W. H. Auden, with both feet on the earth but his gaze fixed on the heavens, observed, "Christmas and Easter can be subjects for poetry, but Good Friday, like Auschwitz, cannot. The reality is so horrible it is not surprising that people should have found it a stumbling block to faith."

I leave you with the eloquence of Phil Ochs from (probably) before you were born, "And the night comes again to the circle studded sky. The stars settle slowly, in loneliness they lie. 'Till the universe explodes as a falling star is raised, planets are paralyzed, mountains are amazed, but they all glow brighter from the brilliance of the blaze. With the speed of insanity, then He died."
-bill kenny

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Great Hairafter

Osmium is the densest naturally occurring element on this planet. If you could read that, thank a teacher and that it's here is thanks to me. You're welcome. And people tell you reading this is a waste of time-they have no clue.

Tying dense, waste of time, and no clue into one tidy, if slightly porcine and corpulent package (the difference between uniformed and UNinformed is barely noticeable. From space), here's the kind of story that saves me hours at the venomous vitriol factory because this stuff is so much better than anything you can make up.

Seriously. I almost admire the North Koreans. Heck, even the Chinese have a McDonald's at Tienanmen Square, where everything on the menu is "to go" and the Russians have Levi comfortable fit (= wide butt) jeans in their T-72 tanks rolling through Crimea.

Not Kim Jong-un's charges. They march to the beat of their own, but different, drummer. Their aim is true. Talk about keepers of the flame. The only thing missing might be "hair dyers mounted on a rifle rack with a barber chair in a Peterbilt." Of course, I would support that as well as the poster because "I run this church for loggers."
-bill kenny

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Clicks and Hisses

I wasn’t born in Norwich, Connecticut but you know that. Point in fact, as many have told me on more than occasion in the course of the last two decades, “you’re not from here.” Imp of the Perverse that I am, I wear that as a badge of honor.

Here’s a little secret, I’m not the only one. More and more often there are less and less of us ‘from here’ despite the continuing growth of our total population. Close to 40% of those who now call Norwich home, says the 2010 US Census, weren’t here ten years ago and there’s no reason to believe that trend won’t continue for the next ten years.

It’s not a surprise, it’s biology: we have legs and feet so we can move around rather than roots which serve better as anchors.

Being NFH, not from here, rather than an alumnus of NFA, Norwich Free Academy, allows me to see Norwich through new eyes (a term I’m borrowing with the blessing, I hope , of former Mayor Art Lathrop who had, and has, a great regard for our city’s history but also high expectations for its possibilities.)

We can certainly use more consciously planned celebrations of our city and regional history to better position ourselves to leverage our possibilities and prosperity which brings me to tomorrow, literally not figuratively.

Tomorrow afternoon starting at half past three and going until five in Slater Museum on the NFA campus is the “Norwich Heritage Partnership Hospitality Reception.” I know you’re fretting because you didn’t get to the store to buy a card. It’s okay. Cards aren’t necessary though presence, if not presents, should be.

If you don’t have it on your calendar, it’s not too late to pencil it in. It’s more or less come as you are- more casual and comfortable than business khaki but think about wearing pants with pockets so you have someplace to put all the knowledge and fun.

Though it has a fancy title, consider the Reception (did you see what I did there with the capitalization?) to be a sort of Open House, a potpourri of tips and tricks about points of interest , both recreational and occupational, throughout the City about which each of us knows something but that no one knows everything, at least not yet.

I’m starting a rumor that there will be pony rides and pudding pops (hopefully not at the same time) but attempted humor aside, there will be more than enough to see and do without equine and gelatinous diversions.

Leave your world-weariness at the door and be prepared to keep repeating the phrase “I did not know that” throughout the afternoon, because whether you did know it or not, and I don’t pretend to be anything resembling an expert (I’m not from here, remember?), we have some thoroughly cool and amazing stuff to see and do within this 9 Mile Square we call home.

The Norwich Heritage Partnership Hospitality Reception tomorrow afternoon can be a mirror we use to look at ourselves and a window to what the world could see when it looks to us. It can be crystal clear, or stuck between stations.
-bill kenny

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Declare the Pennies on Your Eyes

This is the nearly-universally dreaded "Tax Day" here in the Land of Unlimited Opportunities Where Seldom Is Heard a Discouraging Word and the Skies Are Not Cloudy All Day. How all of that gets reduced to USA always amazes me but I chalk it up to a triumph of marketing and branding.

Speaking of which, how'd you like to tell folks you work for the Internal Revenue Service? Don't be like that! Somebody has to! And tens of thousands of people do and despite our muttered imprecations and seriously intended aspersions cast without benefit of a net, they do what they are charged to do and what Oliver Wendall Holmes, Jr. succinctly summed up, though probably pre-audit.  

Point in fact, we pay taxes every day. And every year we file a return to see if we are to get back some of our own money. I remember my wife filing her taxes in Germany when we lived there and she rarely saw any money returned to her. I often thought because her husband was such a sonderangebot, her government saw no reason to bless her twice. Strangely I never got around to mentioning that theory to her when we lived in her country.

Like you, in all probability, I've filed my taxes already. Do I grumble? Of course I do and anyone who tells you s/he doesn't grumbling is a liar. And speaking of grumbling, I can only assume Jarod Kintz doesn't know my dulcet-toned friend from Palestine, Texas, David "Lips" Malone when he offers with some acerbity "Taxes and Texas, they have the same letters but only one can go to Hell."
-bill kenny

Monday, April 14, 2014

Ready, Aim.....

Yesterday was Palm Sunday but more immediately in my neighborhood it was an opportunity to again appreciate the people in public service about whom we rarely think until/unless we need them.

The house up the street and around the corner, at 218 Washington Street, caught on fire shortly after a quarter past eight and in moments there were seven different different fire companies responding to a blaze that licked and lapped up the exterior and interior walls of a classic old house, now a multi-family dwelling, turning into a ravaged ruin by the noon hour.

Everyone who lived in the house got out safely and no reports of injury were made. With temperatures in the low sixties on an overcast day, the protective clothing the fire fighters wear isn't the coolest of apparel on an early Spring Sunday.

We think of those in public safety as abstractions in terms of dollars spent for payroll and benefits and the annual cost of acquisition of the various devices they request in order to address their #1 priority: the preservation of life and protection of property. With all due respect to the credit card commercial, that is priceless.

-bill kenny