Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Rev. Frank Toia

In my old age I find myself thinking about the days of my youth. After about 18 months after joining the United States Marine Corps, I was transferred to the Third Marine Division on Okinawa. I arrived on Christmas Eve Day, 1963.

Within a matter of days after settling in at my quarters, I attended a chapel service on a Sunday morning at Camp Hague. The minister was a young (just a few years older than I) presiding. It was an Episcopal Church service of Holy Communion from the Book of Common Prayer. After the service I met the young clergyman thinking that he was a U.S. Navy Chaplain. He was not.

Frank Toia was an Episcopal missionary and was the curate at All Souls Episcopal Church near Naha, Okinawa in a township called Machinato. The English-speaking church had a membership of mostly U.S. military personnel and their families. I wasted no time getting involved in the church family, not only on Sunday mornings but during the week, if I could.

Father Toia and the senior minister at All Souls, Father Paul Savanack, began to take me (and others) under their wings and prepared many of us for Confirmation. The bishop of Honolulu, Harry Kennedy, confirmed me and others only a few months later on March 31, 1964.

Fr. Toia and his family lived in a local Okinawa community. As time passed he continued his missionary work. I attempted to track him over the decades but apparently he was accepting calls for missionary duty around the globe. The last I heard, which was only a month or so ago, was that Frank Toia had been a missionary in Guatemala. That was good. It sounded like him and his work.

The news I learned last week from internet blog posts was that Fr. Toia is sick with recurrent pneumonia and is using his home as a hospice as he awaits his calling home.

I am grateful for - and I remember vividly - Frank Toia and his young family from all those years ago. A faithful follower of Christ, he knew no stranger. It appears that his entire ministry over the  years served people around parts of the world.

I pray that his earthly life passes peacefully and without pain. I know that his entry into eternity will be a glorious passage.

This is one of the Internet links where I learned of Frank Toia recently.
NYT article about Frank Toia and friends

Monday, May 25, 2015

America's Memorial Day

Sometimes Americans confuse Memorial Day with Veterans' Day. But that's OK. 

On both holidays those who died serving their country are remembered and honored. Although the phrase is becoming or has become cliché, we should understand why "freedom is not free." In the end it takes an individual working in concert with other patriots to defend us from harm.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if there were no wars to fight? Wouldn't it be wonderful if we had no need for a national defense of any sort? Yes, it would be wonderful, but the world does not operate that way.

Not all those who have died protecting their fellow citizens were military. Many who have died for our freedom never intended to get themselves involved in a situation which denied them life and breath. But that's the way the world operates sometimes. It seems unfair for any person who might wander into harm's way and lose their life to protect the rest of us.

All of us should take time to reflect on how life works and what might even be required of us. None of us elected to be born - we did not create ourselves. Nonetheless we are the living. Perhaps we should renew our minds and ask questions about how to live in the reality we find ourselves. And then uncover what life means - life's purpose and our daily response.

Today, Memorial Day 2015, we remember and give thanks for those who gave their lives for us and for our freedom. And as we renew our minds and mine through our thoughts, and repossess our understanding of the gift of life, let us reconcile ourselves with our Creator who is the alpha and omega of our existence.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

African American Entrepreneurs in Alabama 1802-2014

African American Entrepreneurs in Alabama

In 2014 I compiled and published a booklet about African American entrepreneurs in Alabama. The book is a timeline of significant events and persons who created businesses and organizations despite their social and political circumstances. Perseverance loomed large with these creators of wealth and mind-changing ideas.

The book could be used by students when researching papers. The timeline begins in 1802 and identifies leaders up to current day. It is an excellent starter-kit for reference and resource development.

ALABAMA TIMELINES: AFRICAN AMERICAN ENTREPRENEURS can be purchased through many online book retailers. See the links below.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

My biography of William Jelks Cabaniss, Jr., Former U.S. Ambassador to the Czech Republic

WILLIAM JELKS CABANISS, JR., of Birmingham, Alabama, is former United States Ambassador to the Czech Republic (2004-2006). Subsequent to his graduation from Vanderbilt University and his service in the United States Army in Germany, Cabaniss returned to Birmingham. After working several jobs for a few years, Mr. Cabaniss acquired the assets of a small sheet metal grinding company and built it into a successful enterprise serving other businesses in the Southeast.

As his own company’s salesman, he traveled the Southeast looking for contract work. Over the first six or seven years of this routine he learned that other southeastern states were beneficiaries of plant relocations from the Rust Belt to the Sun Belt, with Alabama excluded. Why?

Cabaniss’s prospective clients told him that it was difficult for them to conduct business within the State of Alabama due to its anti-business posture by state government officials and the severity of Alabama’s tort laws. Alabama was a plaintiff lawyer’s paradise in the 1960s and 1970s and continued to be through the 1990s. Sensing a challenge to do something about this anti-business condition in his home state, Cabaniss set about doing something about it.

In 1978 William J. Cabaniss, Jr. ran and won a seat in the Alabama House of Representatives from the suburban Birmingham town of Mountain Brook. Four years later he was elected to the Alabama Senate and re-elected in 1986. This was all well and good except for the fact that he was a Republican in a legislature composed of more than 100 Democrats.

Cabaniss and the three other Republicans, some Independents, and a few conservative Democrats, could only stop bad bills from sailing through the legislature. His persistence over time changed the thinking of many legislators. Cabaniss also wrote and submitted many ethics reform and tort law reform bills. His legislative career was highlighted by his care for beloved state of Alabama and its respect around the nation.

In 1990 Cabaniss ran an unsuccessful campaign against incumbent United States Senator from Alabama, Howell Heflin.

In 2002-3 he managed the gubernatorial transition of Alabama Governor Bob Riley. Many of Governor Riley’s cabinet and department appointees were recommended by Bill Cabaniss. To this day William J. Cabaniss, Jr. counsels sitting and future political officeholders in Alabama. When still managing Riley’s transition, Cabaniss was nominated by President George W. Bush to become U.S. Ambassador to the Czech Republic. 

Bill and Catherine Cabaniss arrived in Prague in January, 2004.

My biography about Ambassador Cabaniss is primarily about his personal integrity. There is also much Alabama history in it including stories about his historical, ancestral progenitors. Cabaniss's father was a decorated World War II Navy officer who fought in the Battle of Leyte Gulf and the Battle of Okinawa. Alabama Governor William Dorsey Jelks (1901-1907) was Cabaniss's great uncle. Cabaniss is of French Huguenot heritage. It is an exciting book to read.

Follow these two links below to purchase the eBook, paperback, or hard cover version of William Jelks Cabaniss, Jr.: Crossing Lines in His Business, Political, and Diplomatic Life

Monday, May 18, 2015

Diocese of Fort Worth (TEC) elects provisional bishop.

From Saturday, May 16, 2015
The Reverend Curt Norman at Trinity Church-Fort Worth during the special election of a provisional bishop. Father Norman, pictured here, is president of the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth (TEC). Bishop Scott Mayer was elected provisional bishop. See video below.

Is N.T. Wright About Paul?

Is N.T. Wright about Paul,
The faithfulness of God, et al?
Did he write something new,
With perspective and worldview,
When working his scholarly call?

Yes! Wright shares Paul’s empathy with Onesimus
Which seems perfectly right to all the rest of us,
For Wright unpacks unrighteousness,
Citing Paul’s brotherhood in Dominus.

With Onesimus and Paul in chains,
On Philemon, Christ placed his claim,
That all men are one,
Whether of slavery or none,
For Jesus binds all to His Name.

Two millennia have passed with swift flight,
And the Gospel has not lost its might.
For helpful scholars and students,
Whose study has been prudent,
We thank Professor N.T. Wright.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

SIX BITS Amazon Kindle eBook - My time in the USMC

Purchase and download the book here: SIX BITS - USMC 1962 - 1963

My new eBook on Amazon's Kindle is now available. The book will be in three, perhaps four, different books or volumes. Book one is about my years in the USMC between June, 1962 and December, 1963.

I served in three different USMC Bands in my four-plus years in the military: 2nd MAW Band at Cherry Point, North Carolina; 3rd Marine Division Band on Okinawa; and MCS Band at Quantico, Virginia. The term SIX BITS was the Marine musician's nickname for the march SEMPER FIDELIS.

In my tenure as a military musician I happened to witness several significant international events - military and political - and I have recorded many of them in this book. I served during the early part of the Vietnam Era. The book is primarily a memoir.

Three days after graduating from high school (mid-June, 1962) I found myself being yelled at (and physically buffeted) in the mosquito-infested swamp known as Parris Island, South Carolina where "every day is a holiday and every meal a banquet."

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Going Green - sort of

The global warming pseudo-evidence is so persuasive that I have decided to Go Green. Over my lifetime I have noticed how harmful the Sun is to us human beings. But the wisdom contained in the Serenity Prayer restrains me from changing what the Sun is doing to us. Therefore, I have begun writing a book on how we human beings can protect ourselves from this awful and radiating invasion of Earth’s atmosphere – and I’m sure Al Gore will appreciate my effort. My book is entitled “50 GRADES OF SHADE.”