The scene opens with the Wicked Witch of the West cackling to her flying monkey.  She gazes over a crystal ball, and she says, “Now, my beauty, something with poison in it, I think.  Poison in it!  But attractive to the eye and soothing to the smell. Poppies!  Poppies will put them to sleep.”

"Poison! But attractive to the eye and soothing to the smell."

“Poison! But attractive to the eye and soothing to the smell.”

The camera then zooms into the crystal ball to reveal a field of luscious red poppies that extends all the way to the Emerald City.  At the edge of the field, Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion have seen the great city, and they are anxious to arrive at this home of all their hopes.  But first they must move through the field of poppies, the Wicked Witch’s poison.  As they wade through the field, Dorothy and the others begin to get drowsy.  And before you know it, the poppies overcome brains, and heart, and courage, and loyalty all.  Despite their best efforts, and despite the Emerald City glowing and pulsating just before them, the heroes fall fast asleep.

Continue reading

A Few Thoughts on “Noah”

Noah posterA few immediate thoughts on “Noah”… As biblical movies go, this accomplished what most do not: genuine dramatic tension. It’s difficult to engender such tension when the narrative outcome is so well known and when the characters have become two dimensional through millennia of repeated telling.

The complaint I’ve read of the film’s script is that it plays fast and loose with the biblical story. Numerous critics decry the fallen angels who assist Noah as well as Noah’s recounting of Genesis 1 to his family.

Continue reading

That You May Be a Blessing

1839 was a year for the ages.[i]  On the world stage that year, the Treaty of London constituted Belgium as an independent kingdom.  Guatemala established itself as a republic.  The first opium war erupted in China.  Closer to home, the Cherokee Nation formed, and courageous Africans captives seized the slave ship Amistad.

The first ever baseball game was played in Cooperstown, NY, in 2839

The first ever baseball game was played in Cooperstown, NY, in 1839

In the realm of science and technology, the first glass plate photograph was taken.  Charles Darwin was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Science.  William Otis (cousin of Elisha Otis, inventor of the elevator) patented the first steam shovel, making earth excavation infinitely easier.

In Cooperstown, New York, American leisure was forever changed in 1839, when the first-ever pitcher climbed the first-ever mound to throw the first-ever pitch in the first-ever baseball game.

Continue reading

A Future Filled With Hope

This month marks the 175th birthday of Christ Church Cathedral.  We kicked off our celebration on March 2, Texas Independence Day.  The celebratory dinner was held at the Rice Lofts Crystal Ballroom, on the same site as the Republic of Texas Capitol Building, in which the original organizers of Christ Church chartered the parish.  As the first organized house of worship in Houston, Christ Church was a “foreign mission” of the Episcopal Church in the United States!

Continue reading


Shh!  Do you hear that?  Listen carefully for a moment.

I enter the Cathedral sometimes during the week, when no one else is here.  I do so for the silence.  It envelopes.  It protects.  There is a reason that many Christian traditions refer to the entire space of the church building—chancel and nave—as the “sanctuary.”  Its sacred space provides a place of womb-like safety from the outside world.

Granted, on Sunday mornings it is rarely absolutely quiet in the Cathedral, nor should we expect it to me.  The rustle of leaflets, the creaking of pews, the murmur of children—and adults, for that matter—are all the natural sounds of gathered worship.  But think of the things we don’t hear, God willing: cell phones, the ping of an email inbox, talking heads on blaring televisions, the general stridency that marks our world.

Continue reading