Wednesday, May 25, 2016

One Fish, Two Fish

One Fish, Two Fish

I still have all my childhood Dr. Seuss books.  My mother read me those early classics, McElligot’s Pool, Bartholomew and the Oobleck. But Cat in the Hat and One Fish, Two Fish I could read myself.
See these cool Dr. Seuss’s posters for World Oceans Day 2010?  Makes sense that the man who brought us so many weird animals would love the ocean, with all its weird critters.  (2010 was also the 50th anniversary of One Fish, Two Fish.)

World Oceans Day is June 8 - only two weeks away! Check out for this year’s cool poster, an event near you, resources.  How will you celebrate?

I reread One Fish, Two Fish this week.  Remember the refrain, which is really the theme song of all Seuss?

“From there to here,
from here to there,
funny things
are everywhere.”

Dr. Seuss taught me to love reading and to love counting.  So I want to thank him, for (at least) five ways he teaches us how to love the ocean.  Can you think of more?

1) He celebrates diversity: one, two, red, blue, black, blue, old, new, sad, glad, thin, fat – this one has a yellow hat!  (So many other tales of diversity.  The Sneetches!)

2) He loves to list and count.  The Association of Zoos and Aquariums used Seuss for their great resource: “1, 2, 3 and the Seas: Counting on You: Children of all ages will discover the importance of inventorying different species through activities using numbers and identification skills. Kids will apply the concept of counting to gauge the health of our oceans and to monitor the impact of disasters such as the Gulf oil spill.”  Our Blue Theology youth groups do lists and counting when we do citizen science research on sand crabs and climate change.

3) He makes the littlest ones the heroes.   Small fish can make a whale of a difference.  “A person’s a person no matter how small.”

4) He has taught millions of kids how to read.  Reading about the ocean helps us love it more.  (Want to be even more literate?  Check out the 7 basic principles of ocean literacy at

5) He always said that most important thing for everyone is to have fun!  From here to there, funny things are everywhere.  It’s hard not to have fun at the ocean.

Oh yeah, one more, I like his attitude about presenting important issues to kids:

“Geisel made a point of not beginning to write his stories with a moral in mind, stating that ‘kids can see a moral coming a mile off.’ He was not against writing about issues, however.  He said that ‘there's an inherent moral in any story’ and he remarked that he was ‘subversive as hell.’”

Thanks, Dr. Seuss.  Just what the doctor ordered!

(We are still booking summer and fall Blue Theology youth mission trips and adult pilgrimages.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Wind, Wind on the Sea

Wind, Wind on the Sea

This is what the day of Pentecost looks like on the Central Coast.  The Holy Spirit is not just windy, but wet.

I’ve always thought of Pentecost as a dry land holiday. The Holy Spirit fills the streets of dusty Jerusalem like a hot sirocco wind, with burning tongues of hot prophecy.

But this past Sunday, when we sang Jim Manley’s fantastic Pentecost hymn “Spirit,” I heard for the first time a Spirit that is wet-blue as well as dry-red.

The moving refrain I’ve sung a million times:
 “Spirit, spirit of gentleness, blow through the wilderness,
Calling and free.
Spirit, spirit of restlessness, stir me from placidness,
Wind, wind on the sea.”

Wind, wind on the sea?

Of course, those are the Spirit winds of creation.  “You moved on the waters, you called to the deep.” Spirit and water are our very womb.

But for the rest of the song the Spirit blows on dry land: “you swept through the desert…you sang in a stable…down in the city you called once again….”

Until we sang that haunting refrain over and over, “Spirit of restlessness….Wind, wind on the sea.”

It’s really windy on the Central Coast these days, because it’s the annual “upwelling” season.  Each spring the prevailing westerlies shift to the north, and as they push along the coast, they blow the surface water south and away. Deep sea currents, cold and nutrient rich, “wake from their slumber, rise on their wings” (Manley) and bring to the surface a once a year all-you-can-eat-buffet for whales and squid and pelicans and you and me.  The Central Coast is one of only five places in the world, west coasts, where this massive upwelling surges from the deep each spring and summer.  We shiver because the upwelling also brings cold windy fog, but marine life thrives and rejoices.

Upwelling is good reminder that when we let our own surface be blown away, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we are always nourished from the deep.  Pentecosts galore – spirit and nourishment for the whole community.

(Come visit our Blue Theology Mission Station for incredible Pentecost whale sightings and other windy wonders.)

Wind on the sea means food from the deep.  Holy Spirit hovering is the wet force and source of renewed creation.

Manley wrote this hymn while pastor in Hawaii – surely he experienced firsthand the spirit over water; “you blew through your people on rush of the wind”.

Flames (at least on my gas stove) can be blue as well as red.  Happy wet Pentecost.
Another great NOAA photo by Chad King, off Pt. Pinos, Pacific Grove

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Ocean Preaching

Ocean Preaching

Look – it’s Hawthorne, the hermit crab in the comic strip “Sherman’s Lagoon.”  He’s in church, assisting the preacher, perhaps bringing holy greetings from the Lagoon.  Jim Toomey’s droll strip about Sherman the doltish shark (Toomey says he’s Homer Simpson with fins) and his underwater friends appears in 150 US newspapers and in 30 foreign countries.

Don’t you love it when two of your favorite things come together unexpectedly?  I’ve always liked this comic strip, and then I found out that Jim Toomey is a hugely committed ocean advocate.  This image comes from the book he illustrated, “50 Ways to Save the Ocean” by David Helvard.  It’s a great book that I buy in bulk and hand out liberally.

This image is #11: “Talk about the ocean in your place of worship. The spiritual connection we feel with the ocean is a sacred trust.” I love that Helvard includes worship as a good way to save the ocean, and that Toomey illustrates with a woman preacher! In fact, several of the “ways” are spiritual, like “Get Married on a Wild Beach.”  Each one has a good rationale and helpful tips – “Pack everything out, littering is not romantic.  Check the tide tables…”

Some other good suggestions:
#3: Dive Responsibly -Take only pictures and leave only bubbles while exploring underwater wonders.

#45: Talk with Your Cousin in Kansas about the Weather - Become an educator on how the oceans affect us all.

#49: Vote for Those Who Protect the Coast – Let your elected representatives know you evaluate them and vote on how they treat the coast and ocean.  (Cute picture of Hawthorne the hermit crab coming out of the voting booth.)

#20: Opt Out of the Throwaway Culture - What we throw out doesn’t ever really go away.

On YouTube you can see Toomey’s great TED Talk and his sweet 100-second tribute to Jacques Cousteau on his 100th birthday.  He donates all kinds of artwork for the National Marine Sanctuary Program.  He’s on the board of Mission Blue, Sylvia Earle’s advocacy group for Marine Protected Areas.  And he’s just a funny cool guy. 

Thanks, Jim, and thanks Hawthorne for being like me, a preacher for the oceans.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016


The bud 
stands for all things, 
even for those things that don’t flower, 
for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;   
though sometimes it is necessary 
to reteach a thing its loveliness, 
to put a hand on its brow 
of the flower 
and retell it in words and in touch 
it is lovely 
until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing;   
as Saint Francis 
put his hand on the creased forehead 
of the sow, and told her in words and in touch   
blessings of earth on the sow, and the sow   
began remembering all down her thick length,   
from the earthen snout all the way 
through the fodder and slops to the spiritual curl of the tail,   
from the hard spininess spiked out from the spine   
down through the great broken heart 
to the sheer blue milken dreaminess spurting and shuddering   
from the fourteen teats into the fourteen mouths sucking and blowing beneath them: 
the long, perfect loveliness of sow.

“St. Francis and the Sow”

Galway Kinnell