Sunday 10 October

It has rained much of today or at least when I wasn’t in church! I was awoken by the rain at 2am, drove through it at 7am and left work in it at 1.30pm and has rained several times since then. So now it’s past 6pm and I thought I’d update my blog.

The big news was the announcement by brother Richard and wife Camille that they have a baby due in April. I’m hoping that Coronavirus may have reduced its grip on the world and that I might be able to visit near the birth. It might be a forlorn hope as UK looks certain to announce increased restrictions tomorrow and there are spikes all over the world. In Florida, or at least in Hillsborough County, it is still a very present threat. Two weeks ago I was showing symptoms and went to get tested. I must applaud the fact that this was most efficient. The test was administered exactly at the time I had booked and the result arrived 26 hours later! It was negative. Phew. The previous week I had had a ‘flu shot and may have had an adverse reaction to this. I worked from home much of the following week.

I continue to get used to my new Nissan Rogue. It has an intelligence greater than mine and the downloadable manual runs to 600 pages or is available at a cost of over $200! I have now got to grips with the cruise control which I find very useful … it even slows the car down if i get too close to the car in front! However I need to learn how to diasble its ‘intelligence’. On Friday I decided to go kayaking which meant towing a trailer. All was fine until it came to moment when I attempted to reverse the trailer into a slot close to the water. The system applied the brakes … the reverse gear camera saw a kayak behind the car and presumable did not want me to hit it! I manged to manhandle the trailer to the required position and refix the trailer to my car much to the amusement of the locals!

I’ve managed to keep up with the composing of a psalm setting each week. Publishers are not interested in psalms, it would appear, but this has not dampened my zeal. Today’s psalm was Psalm 23, one of the most popular psalms (The Lord is my shepherd) and my Cantors at St Lawrence really worked hard to deliver it.

There is a closed group of composers I belong to. In fact they have been my greatest inspiration since arriving in USA. One of our number is the liturgical composer David Haas on whose activities a report has been produced by IntoAccount which in its 22 pages absolutely cites him as a sexual predator active for over 41 years with at least 44 victims coming forward to date. This has been devastating news for us but the group as acted most appropriately and in fact has explored this whole situation with survivor-centered sensitivity. One of the staggering statements from a statistical point of view was that it was likely that in our number there would be the perpetrator, the aware and the survivor. The use of his music in our churches today constitutes a continued assault on the survivor whether we know their presence in our communities or not. In future months the truth of David Haas will spread more widely and rather than ask for the legal system to deal with it (unlikely) we will have to center our actions on the survivor’s perspective and the great many survivors who do not even know who David Haas is , but who will feel more pain if we do nothing. In y own church I have decided not to use his music at all, and thereby not to grant him further income from royalties.

On September 24 I was invited to speak to the Tampa City Council in defense (from a biblical stance) of the expansion of Goodwill Industries hidden service as a provider of accommodation for ex-prisoners who having served their time need somewhere to settle so that they don’t return to earlier ways. An added delight was that the Council Chairperson recognized me from church and wanted to publicly acclaim what I do. Another also praised the Christian witness in my address. I am more delighted that the council approved the expansion!

After months of campaigning we are finally approaching the final run-up to the election. Of course in Uk we’d get this all done in 6 weeks or so but here in USA there is enough money floating around (and corporations wanting more power) that they can make it last a year. The Presidential debate was a lamentable farse, and then the nation paused while POTUS endured his personal coronavirus (with doctors in both the White House and the local Hospital on hand to provide the full gamut of care and obfuscation). The debate between the Vice-Presidents showed the power of Harris in asserting order when she wished to speak in the debate. In my own friendship group people whisper their criticisms of the present incumbent behind hands hiding lips. So much for the freedom of speech, eh? Division is the new normal, soon to be replaced, I pray.

How long will it be before the mask is lifted to reveal the irresponsibility of the maskless? And what about care of our poor, jobless, elderly and those waiting longer for life-changing operations?

We endured a cool snap in Tampa at the end of September but after a few days of temperatures which dropped to 78F in the late evening I am pleased to say it was short-lived.

Leaves continue to fall into my pool which provides me (and my pool cleaning machine) something close to exercise. I may not overdo this!

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