Tuesday 4 July

Today I have a day off (what the Americans call ‘a holiday’) because Americans want to celebrate their independence from Britain! To make me suffer further this evening the sky will be full of fireworks and the accompanying noise more closely resembling the bombardments which USA has not experienced since Pearl Harbour.

Last night I got chatting to a couple I’d never met before. My opening gambit was “I see you are sitting in the danger zone”. This comment was returned by confused looks. I explained that a week ago on a Sunday afternoon a customer to the bar had driven his car at some speed through the plate glass window and as far as the bar itself. The driver was driving his mother’s car and allegedly had a suspended license himself. Alex, who had been sitting on that side of the bar had got up to visit the restroom (toilet) only 12 seconds earlier.   Alex at the point of this conversation had now chosen to sit on the other side of the bar!

Our conversation began with Brexit and then ventured into Trump. The two are very similar. Absurd things happen when a part of the electorate takes the outcome for granted. I recall a few weeks ago listening to an interview with the author Elizabeth Stroud talking at the Hay Festival about her books and the political situation in USA. She refused to even speak the name of the current President but his ‘success’ down to the provincial nature of the United States. She argued that voters in New York state for instance could not imagine that people would vote in any other way than they would.

I learned so much from this very cultured couple. One detail I learned was that the DC in Washington stood for District of Columbia which she described as akin to the Vatican City as a state within in a State. I also had reaffirmed what I already knew … that people vote out of ignorance and that if politicians press the right buttons then ignorance wins!

One of the athings about living here is that you can view major catholic conferences on your TV.. For the last few days the US Bishops have been meeting in Orlando for a congress of Catholic Leaders. I have heard some great addresses by Bishop Robert Barron and Cardinals Tobin and Mahoney. I also heard a ‘worship session with musician Matt Maher. This affirmed me in my belief that Matt Maher and his ‘lifeteen’ ilk are very misguided people. The first two songs he presented had no reference to scripture nor any mention of Jesus. The only involvement of the assembly was in repeating an inane ‘woh, woh’ phrase as many artists do if they think the people may have stopped becoming engaged.

His third song’ Your grace is enough’ was at least well known and people and bishops responded predictably. He then handed over to  his guest, Audrey Assad. I had never heard of her but she was ‘on message’ introducing her songs with references to a wounded faith and a sense of lament. “I didn’t divorce God but we did argue a lot!”

She spoke of despair as being a luxury. Most people in desperate situations do not have time for it. She questioned the most popular of psalms saying that ‘there is nothing I shall want’ seemed unreal. When you are desperate you need so much. She prayed ‘Lord, help my unbelief’. She exhibited an integrity I had not expected at a Matt Maher event.

All too soon Matt Maher was back with ‘Lord, I need you’ and moving the assembly to frenzy with repetitions of ‘Everything’s gonna be alright’.  If this was conceived as worship then it was misguided. Before the final episcopal blessing the MC broke in with an announcement about luggage. She clearly did not think she was intruding on anything at all profound. She was right!

Since I last blogged the school has ‘broken up’ which means I can use the time for getting ahead with planning. At the same time we are working on a project which will impact on my working hours. Already full on I think the need to provide material for presentation on screens will add so much to my job.

My house-hunting is now more focussed. If you have followed this then you will know that I was being restricted by the Green Card process and by my credit history. The Green card process seems to have re-started as I learned during the week that my cheques for $1200 have been drawn by Immigration services.  At the same time I have learned that my lender does not wish to hold me back because of no Green Card. I also learned that the lender has now decided that my 2-year credit history will be achieved by 1 August after which date I can be under contract on a house purchase!

So I have started boxing up things which I have not used for a while. I am also on the look out for house items at the local charity store. Last week I bought a 23 setting fine china dinning service. I think I’ll probably sell most of this on … but it was a bargain. For $38 I also bought a sterling silver flute dating from 1923! I have seen these on sale for $800!

Next week I head off to Cincinatti for the annual NPM congress. I always learn so much about US liturgical culture at these gatherings. It is also a great opportunity to rub shoulders with my Diocesan colleagues.


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