Baldy Mountain Jazz

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A half-wit once tried to change the name of the Baldy Mountain Jazz Band, which plays at The Press Restaurant in Claremont. The building used to house the local newspaper’s printing presses, but it’s now the home of an adventurous and tasty chef (last night quail was on the menu) who is almost worth driving the nineteen miles for. It’s definitely worth it when Baldy are there playing New Orleans-type jazz (which is hard to find in Los Angeles).

Mount Baldy rises 10,000 feet above where we live. It’s where we can most often see snow, and where Leonard Cohen spent five years in a Zen monastery before coming back down and touring again after his manager made off with his money (so we owe her a debt of thanks; maybe even Leonard does). I like to picture the band trekking down the mountain to play and then trekking back to resume their jobs as tree-fellers or whatever. To encourage that impression, one or two wear plaid shirts, and one wears a cap and suspenders (braces in Brit-speak).

Actually they are bank managers and builders and the like. The leader and trombonist used to be a retired science professor, but alas he passed away last year. They include a father and son duo (in their seventies and forties) on guitars, a trumpeter who plays drums to do them a favor, and a pianist who is the band’s musical arranger and indispensable heart.

The odd thing is that they almost seem to make a point of never having what I was taught was a “proper” New Orleans front line—trombone, trumpet, clarinet. In Britain in my teens, the great controversy concerned whether the addition of saxes was an act of betrayal. Nowadays saxes have an unquestioned place (but this is California). The new leader also plays flute, and Last night claimed that one of the numbers had never been played on flute before.



Daily Prayer: A Frame for Life and Love

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April 14, 2015

John spoke at a Prayer Summit yesterday that was organized by the All Nations Church in Lake View Terrace, CA. It remined me that when I travel with John I frequently get questions from the wives of students or faculty about our marriage.

The most crucial component of our marriage, it’s basic framework, is our prayer life. It is within our prayer format that we read the Bible together.

Several times a day we say set prayers out loud together from the Episcopalian Book of Common Prayer. The Daily Devotions for Individuals and Families has bits that repeat the same scripture or words everyday- that’s the “set” part. There are also suggestions like “a canticle may be used” or “prayers may be offered for ourselves and others.”

It is here that we insert a chapter or so from the Bible. We will soon start reading the set lessons from the lectionary every week! We hope you will read along with us.Our ponderings will be on this blog.

We’ve had various reactions to this set prayer and readings habit:

“Isn’t it boring?”  “For me, making up prayers for each situation is more meaningful.  “I often pray, but don’t feel a need to be legalistic about it.”  “What a cool thing for a couple to do, I wish we had the time.”

Yes, sometimes it is boring, and we don’t have time. Or the words don’t fit the situation. It’s especially hard during a spat and it therefore doesn’t seem cool to have to come together to pray.  But we do it anyway and prayer has thus become a precious foundation for our marriage.


Even though I find it both emotionally grounding and a great bonding routine, even though it can set the tone for the day and help me sleep at night, the most important reasons we have for praying are much more profound.

Watch here for upcoming blog posts on three profound reasons we need to regularly pray the “set prayers.”

John’s two papers from the Prayer Summit: “The Psalms as an Invitation into a Spiral Relationship with God” and “Praying For and Against Others” are posted under the Other Papers tab.

DSCF4397At our wedding on the beach. 12/10/10



Who Would Miss the Body of Christ?

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April 10, 2015

Asbury-Theological-Seminary-50933041The last three days we were in Kentucky at Asbury Seminary. John gave some papers, we had some great fellowship with students and faculty, and we heard some great questions.

The one that haunts me the most is: “If your church disappeared tomorrow, would anyone from outside the church miss it?”


For our church, St. Barnabas, the answer might be those who enjoy the meals we provide at Union Station Homeless Services the third friday of each month. Who else? Who for your church? Should churches be concerned about this? We welcome your comments.

The papers John gave are posted under “Other Papers.”