Cromey Online

The writings of author, therapist, and priest Robert Warren Cromey.

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Location: San Francisco, California, United States

Sunday, October 13, 2019


Saturday, October 12, 2019

Dear Bishop Andrus,

Heal from the stroke. Perhaps the Holy Spirit has sent you a message to stop gallivanting around the country yammering about climate change. Stay home and lead the people of your diocese facing issues of immigration reform, homelessness, poverty, police brutality, income inequality, health care and peace. You were elected to lead your people not the whole country. Climate change is safer than the issues of urban pain. We need your leadership here.

Robert Warren Cromey

Friday, September 27, 2019


Rob Droste Oh Robert, you crack me up. You've given up so much and risked so much, all actions taken, as you've been so clear, out of your Christian faith. Those, my beloved friend, are all acts of love - actions of the heart - extravagant, costly, unexplainable in worldly terms - in other words, not "intellectual realities" but acts of passionate fire and blood and love. So while you'd renounce cold dogma, I very much doubt you'd instantly renounce the great principles of compassion and justice that have formed who you are, say turning your back on black people or gay people or poor people. And I absolutely refuse to believe that's all some sort of sterile intellectual exercise with you. It comes directly out of powerful feelings that make you the person we all love so much


My daily prayer is Thank You God through Jesus Christ:
For Ann, Daughters Leigh, Sarah and Jessica, Grandchildren Mary Charlotte, Eric, Caleb, Daniel and Catherine. Men in my daughters lives, Ben, Rich, Greg Bird, Greg Buck, David L.

For the departed: First wife Lillian, Grandson Austin, Parents Helen and Warren, Cousin Richard. Ruth and Gene, Ann’s mother and father.

I really do love these thanksgivings. They are the best part of my prayer life. They bring happy memories from the past. Warm thoughts about my mother and father. Guilt and sadness emerge too as I think of Lillian and deaths of so many loved ones. Also, the joys of the births of my daughters and grandchildren emerge. 

I do not meditate very well. I fall asleep, think of sex and when the hell will this be over.
I do not read the Bible regularly nor the daily offices. I find them boring, repetitive and irrelevant. My personality does not allow for those rote routines. However, I like my routines of three meals a day, cocktail hour, reading and writing, shopping and cooking.

I have not had a religious experience. I don’t like to pray in restaurants or in small groups or before meetings. I am embarrassed by public displays of piety.

We say grace at dinner blessing and giving thanks for the food. We include specific reference to the hungry, poor, sick, immigrants and lonely, all in the name of Jesus Christ, the Revolutionary. I hate that some might think I was a fundamentalist or a pious poop.

I do read some religious literature – Thomas Merton, Anne Lamott, Frederick Buechner, St. Francis de Sales, Rumi, St. Ignatius, Martin Luther King, Jr., The Bible etc. I like writing that roots me in the reality of God in my daily life, thoughts, causes, social, psychological and political. 

I often recite the Jesus Prayer, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, Have Mercy upon me a sinner. 3X. This is apparently a Russian Orthodox pious practice. I like to recite it to myself when it pops into my head. It is a constant reminder that I am a sinner, both in the past and in the present. My glorious arrogance needs confession from time to time.

I recite the Lord’s Prayer and the Glory be… from time to time. Sometimes I say/think the opening prayer of the mass. “Almighty God, unto whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from no secrets are hid. Cleanse our hearts by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit…”

I do regard my spiritual life as rather thin. Other people seem to do it all much better than I. But I am happy with the way it is for me. I do have tinges of “I should do it better.” I cannot think about going to a spiritual director. I pray the way I can, not the way I can’t

I do not want to develop a better discipline. I’d rather flop along as I am.

I love the Eucharist on Sundays. There I feel close to Jesus and God and the other worshipers at the table. I love the incense, hymns, organ music and a good sermon that relates to my life and values.

I have little emotional feelings about God or Jesus. They are mostly intellectual and mindful realities. I know I have connections to both. I can’t imagine being tortured or dying for my faith. I’d renounce my faith in a second if it might cause me pain or death. I also do not believe in a God who would care one way or another about my faith. I do believe in the God of love who loves me.

My Religious Experience

The closest thing to a religious experience for me was in direct action events.
I felt exhilaration, joy and fear when I went to Selma, was arrested in a sit-in in SF and stood on a weekly witness for peace for 15 years in SF. In those moments when doing something specific for social justice, I felt a “strength.” As a therapist and pastor, when a client “got it,” had a moment of insight, I felt a joy moment. In moments of deep sexual passion, my out of body experience was holy. Hearing great music, seeing divine sculpture and paintings and reading a great book, I am in awe and wonder.

God but no Jesus

The Dearly Beloved
By Cara Wall

I want to praise many things about this thoughtful book and I will. But first there is one insulting, naïve and blatant omission. Two of the main characters become Presbyterian ministers. Yet the name of JESUS never appears once in the entire book. This is an obvious omission. The publishers did not want to put off buyers who might be uncomfortable with the person of Jesus. Christian ministers wrestle with the identity and spirituality of this central character of the faith.

The author shows us how the ministers wrestle with their faith in God. The struggle is significant and the answers ambiguous. The courtship of the husbands and wives are depicted in moving terms. The problems of ministering in a downtown church are well done.

The serious and painful discussion of the birth, education and raising of an autistic child is magnificently told. He is the child of the wife of one of the ministers. Their agony, fear and eventual healing are most moving.

This is the story of redemptive suffering and emerging into new relationships and love. For Christians, the life death and resurrection of Jesus is our constant source of redeeming love.

-Robert Warren Cromey

Sunday, September 08, 2019


Sermon at requiem for Toby Wiggins at Church of St. John the Evangelist, San Francisco, CA September 7, 2019

Toby took his own life a month ago. 

There is nothing you can ever do that will keep you from the love of God. 

I suppose David could even say that there is nothing that Toby could have done to keep him from David’s love. David was certainly hurt and saddened and even angry that Toby had taken his own life.
Toby was an artist. Many of us have little gems that he made and passed around to his friends. Ann has ear rings, I have a brouche and a six-pointed star. He created them and gave them away to friends and strangers.

David and Toby, Ann and I had meals together over the last decade. We witnessed their love, caring and support. They travelled, went to endless doctor’s appointments, meetings and social events. They lived together and nurtured each other for twenty years. Toby is dead and David is wounded. We his friends and church community are here to nurture him as he has cared for us. Know that David.

There is nothing you can ever do that will keep you from the love of God.

Many conservative people in our country work vigorously to opposed adequate medical care for our citizens. Jesus’s ministry was as a healer. Jesus healed the lame woman, the blind man and children. Christians, serious Christians, can continue to work hard to guarantee adequate medical care for all people. Toby needed all kinds of medical help. He received some but needed more. We can be healers on how we vote.

The Christian faith means we care for our brothers and sisters in sickness and in health. Our church communities love and support the lonely, sad and all the rest of us that are a bit odd and queer. That is what Jesus calls us to be and to do. 

There is nothing you can ever do that will keep you from the love of God.

Our worship of God through Jesus, our prayer, meditation, retreats, intercessions and thanksgivings are necessary for our faith life. Flowing from that spirituality is a commitment to justice, peace and healing. Without that active commitment to justice and peace our spirituality is pretty thin.

We are resurrection people. Easter means we have new life always. We live with a sure and certain hope of life beyond death. Some of us have high hopes for a celestial kingdom where we can rejoin our long dead families. Some believe that we are reincarnated in nature. Some have other views. Tobey used to say we came from the stars and we return to the stars.

The saying there is nothing you can ever do that will keep you from the love of God.

I like what our slave brothers and sisters believe. Sing with me;

Swing low, Sweet chariot, comin’ for to carry me home. 
Swing low. Sweet chariot comin’ for to take our Toby home.

-The Rev. Robert Warren Cromey

Friday, August 16, 2019


Why do we have so many illegal immigrants in the United States?
Stingy congresses have starved the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for many years;
1.   Low pay, poor working conditions, not nearly enough officers meant that illegal immigrants came in droves with no officers to check on them.
2.  Few U.S. citizens will do the hard work harvesting grapes, artichokes and other products.
3.  People from Mexico and Central American countries came to the U.S. willing to do the hard work.
4.  Immigration officers were too understaffed to follow up on immigrants who overstayed their allotted time in the U.S.
5.   Many of the illegals got jobs, had families, paid taxes and applied for citizenship.

Our inept congresses and a racist president are the root causes of the present crisis and the inhumane treatment of people from North and South America.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Controlled Capitalism

Capitalism depends on acquiring more money, using the earth’s resources for gain and greed, the idea that the more you get the more you want. Capitalism creates profit and poverty.

Controlled capitalism means that government puts controls on banking, real estate, and business to insure competition and prevent gross profit making. We had those controls starting with Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The Reagan and Clinton presidencies whittled away those controls so that few of them exist to curb the rampant capitalism of today.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Wrong or Right

I believe in America WRONG and RIGHT. The present noisy slogan of conservatives is “I believe in America right or wrong.” I prefer realism to hokum.

Racism, persecution of immigrants and guns all over the place is wrong
Efforts of science, research and extraordinary acts of charity are right
Lack of medical are for all, Americans homeless, hungry and in poverty is wrong.
Space travel, industrial innovation and a good way of life for many is right.
Gross salaries, income inequality and luxury for its own sake is wrong.
Capitalism that creates poverty is wrong.

That is enough for now. I am an American and can live with ambiguities

Monday, April 29, 2019


Quotes are from notes I take when reading. I give credit for a few of them. Others, I either do not remember or have lost them in my often illegible hand writing. I write them for your entertainment and thought. -RWC

Money and Politics

The more you get, the more you have.
The more you give away, the more you are.

I don’t want more money. I want reassurance that I won’t run out of it.

Money has worth only if there is not enough for everybody.

US is a dysfunctional plutocracy.   (Paul Beatty)

I am a Palestinian.  (RWC)

Just don’t let them get you to hate them.

The global move to divest from South Africa is what brought down the apartheid regime.

I’d rather be judged by twelve than be carried by six.

I forget who I am supposed to hate. – Irish saying.

He was a warm compassionate fellow who never stopped feeling sorry for himself.  J.Heller

It is useless to vigil for peace, go to church and demonstrate. It is witness.

“Just about all I could find in favor of war was that it paid well, and liberated children from the pernicious influence of their parents.” -Joseph Heller

Peaceful madmen are ahead of the future. – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Why I hate the Olympics

Great skills-yes.
Professional amateurs – come on.
Commercials interrupted by events
The lie of perfectionism-No such thing.
You gotta win. Why?
Competition sucks

Death and Dying

Losing a friend is a terrible thing, the memories it shakes loose.  (Peter Robinson)

Choose the death you want.

Mr. R. died last year, he fell off an Alp.

The wrinkled flow of grief.

T.S. Eliot wrote

We die with the dying
See, they depart and we go
With them
We are born with the dead
See they return and bring us with them.

-Little Gidding

I don’t think my life will last forever. But I don’t want it to end.  -rwc

Undertaker’s Vocation

Hope for the living
Hope for the dead.
To serve the living
By caring for the dead.  
(Thomas Lynch, poet and undertaker)

Gladness gleams all the way to the grave. M.O.

I am doomed but life is a magical and mystical gift.

Nobody gets to heaven without a reference letter from the poor.

The church is a community that takes death seriously.

I hope to die gracefully.  -Jerry Garcia

Who died in 1965?
More worthy of honor
Other than Lark, the cow
Who gave to mankind
165,000 liters of milk?


Sacred, beauty and mystery,
Holy and infinite
Mysterium tremens
Eternal and honor

Love yourself and then forget it and love the rest of the world.

What is God saying who loves?
It means nothing except love and lust
Love and love.
We all love, so what?

Christ the Redeemer Billiard Parlor.

Recognize untruth as a condition of life is placed beyond good and evil.

The temptation to be less than human is yearning for certainty.

People who came to Jesus did not find a spiritual drill Sargent.

To choose what is difficult
All one’s day
As if it were easy
That is faith

WH Auden

To discover how to be human
Is why we follow the star (WHA)

Jesus – an alternate life.

We are pre-approved. Nothing you can do that will make God stop loving you.

God shows us a way out of no way.

Meek – Charlie Chaplin’s little tramp. Beaten up but moving on with dignity.

Preaching to bishops is like farting too skunks.

A smart mouth Atheist spouts, “There is no God.” Proper answer is “You are not smart enough to be an atheist.”

She is a fundamentalist atheist.

Charlotte Reinemann prays for people by finding a suitable hymn from the hymnal
And playing it on her piano.

The slick mountain of love breaths on us.

The truth is that we know we lie.

A person is a person through other people.

The Church has a preferential option for the poor.

Prophecy is not predicting the future. Prophecy is speaking the true nature of things.

God has skills, plays and grace adequate enough to bring light into darkness.  – Lamott

Faith means we are out of control.

How I hate the shakedown sermons. A. Lamott

Man is born broken. He lives by mending, and the grace of God is the glues. E. O’Niel

The birth of Jesus was the ingress of love.  -Auden

The infinite is made finite.  -Auden

We have mosaic chips of forgiveness.

Looking like someone facing a firing squad while facing a party.

My daughter has a vocabulary of 200 words, 100 of them are awesome.

I hate the book I am reading for the book club. I chose it.

Parents think that raging at their children or their teachers will change what they got in the delivery room.

The drug stores and the banks were anodyne excrescences from huge chains.

She did not finish Silas Marner and couldn’t even finish the cliff notes.

“Her arms spoke too elegantly of the gym.” Bet

“Clergy blessed the debutantes as they blessed the foxhounds in the fall”

“They were shaped by what they had forgotten.” -Beth

Salvation Armani

Growing up means the death of many talents.

I thought I’d go to an Alcohol support group and went to a bar on Third Avenue.

Think About These

An older, not elder, said, “You know what the worst thing about getting older is?”

“Feeling invisible. Olders in community do not feel invisible.

Unhappy people dread ageing

Favorite Eccentric – Who is yours?

She was a human tsunami.

Beauty is to excite the viewer to sublime thought.

Someone’s face whom you love will be as a star, both intimate and vulnerable and you will be both heart shaken and respectful.

He casts his seed into my indignity.
The plumb line in further.

Fucking is a gift of pure comfort as humans do
to each other when they offer themselves to each other.

I am waiting on YOUR hand and foot.

The whole kit and kaboozle.

If you think you are enlightened, go spend a week with your family.

The spectacles we wear and the spectacles we make of our selves.

Marriage is often a matter of dexterity.

“Doesn’t a day like today make you glad to be alive?”
Samuel Becket said, “I would not be so glad as to say that?”

A friend calls his mother: Our Lady of Sorrows.

Odd Ends

I wonder if I have forgiving Lillian for not forgiving me?   Rwc

He was briary.

She undulates into the chair. You are what they see.  – M. Attwood
None of us are young as we were. So What?
Friendship never ages.   -Auden

The more I write, the more I read, the more I write well. -rwc

It is not love that sustains marriage. It is marriage that sustains love.

From The Loved Oneby Evelyn Waugh
About Americans:
They don’t expect you to listen
They talk only for their pleasure
Nothing they say is designed to be heard.
There are many titles in Hollywood. And
Some of them are authentic

It is my combination of melancholy with an English accent, says Waugh.


Hand Job

Cute name for a manicure and pedicure salon in the Castro is Hand Job. It is at the corner of 18thand Hartford Streets in San Francisco. I went in to the clean warmly lit space. There was a brown leather or Naugahyde couch and two like armchairs. They were deep and comfortable. 

A quite pretty Japanese young woman invited me to sit in one of the chairs. She was in the twenties, perfect skin, black hair and brown eyes. She wore tight jeans and a T-shirt with yellow and red splashes of color. I sat and rested my cane and hat nearby. She gave me a pillow for my lap. I placed my right hand on the pillow as she seated herself on a small red chair at my feet.

She opened a fresh pack of what appeared to be sterilized scissors and nail files. That was impressive. Where I usually go for a manicure, the implements are just sitting there from one customer to the other. I don’t think they are sterilized after each use.

The manicurist worked quickly, cutting and filing and soon finished the nails on my right hand. She then got a bowl of warm water to soak the nails. I noticed something in the bottom of the little bowl. It was a bright yellow lemon slice. Classy, I thought.

Then two men came in. They were seated at each end of the couch. They came prepared for a pedicure as they wore shorts so it was easy to get at their feet. Suddenly, two young black-haired Japanese men placed large bowls of water in front of their customers and sat crossed legged on the floor beside the bowls. They placed the men’s feet into the water and began to gently wash their  feet and proceed to give them pedicures. I left before they might have stayed for manicures.

Meanwhile my manicurist finished cutting and filing my left hand’s fingers. She then placed my left hand into the lemon water, while she buffed and oiled the nails on my right hand. She removed the warm water and gently and firmly massaged my hands and forearms. I closed my eyes and just enjoyed the touch and movement.

Hand Job Salon provided a number of firsts. I had never seen male manicurists before. I loved the lemon. The sterile implements were delightful. The music was quiet probably, Japanese meditation music. 

Cost? $25.00 plus a $5.00 tip. It was twice as much as I paid at High Class Nails and worth it. I am sure to return.




Friday 4/5

The ceiling was red, the sheets white and rumpled. I clutched my knee, the pain thickening and swelling increased. My heart pounded and my breath sibilant through my teeth. I realized I could not stand up nor walk. Six feet, four inches, two hundred pounds, wide awake and helpless. I used my iPhone to call Ann, our neighbor Dora but no one was available to help me.

Strangely, I looked around the room at the huge brown bookcases stuffed with books with red, yellow and blue bindings. The row of photos atop the bookcases of my daughters, my brother and Pamela and several of Ann and our wedding photo. I felt collected and ready to do something else. Out the window, I saw puffy white clouds floating through the blue. Slips of Palm green also.

I did not want to call 911 for emergency help. I could not move enough to let them into our flat. I could not get to the silver lighted buzzer on top of the stairs. Oh, the hell with it I thought, surely, they knew how to break into the front door twenty-five steps below our third story flat.

911 answered almost immediately. The friendly but direct woman took my story. She asked if I had heart problems, fever, headache, vomiting, bleeding or perspiring. She sent the emergency people who arrived in fifteen minutes. They were slower than usual since I was no having a heart attack or bleeding.

I heard some scratching at my front door and in three minutes, I was besieged by five burly blue clad firefighters and two ambulance attendants. They all showed concern and sympathy. They put me in a small wheel chair, got me to the top of the stairs and plunked me into the stair lift. I had a lot of howling and pain while they hoisted me about. I am not the silent type. Down the stairs I went and into a stretcher, hurled into the ambulance.

Then a brute shoved a needle in my arm to give me some medication. While wincing, I got calls from. Ann, Sarah, Leigh and Jessica. I chatted briefly with all lying on my back on the gurney, looking at the shiny white ceiling in the rumbling along chariot. I watched green trees, blue and white buildings trolley wires that I have seen hundreds of time driving by in my car. They seem new and strange even exotic as I look up at them from on my back glancing at them through the small ambulance windows. We glided into the Emergency Care section of the brand-new California Pacific Medical Center on Van Ness Avenue (CPMC). We go into the Franklin Street entrance.

 It must have been a slow day, as I had a nurse receive me into a private ER room and within minutes Dr. Rooke was examining me. Nurse Emily entered my body into one of those blue and white back-tied hospital gowns. We had a brief chuckle about modesty. (I noticed the sexism, he is Doctor Rooke, she is Emily) (To continue the sexism, Emily was far prettier than Rooke.)

Rooke said he would stick a needle in my knee and draw out the offending liquid that was causing my knee to swell and hurt. He slid away saying he’d be back after seeing X-rays and blood work. A technician wheeled in an X-ray machine and took shots of my knee. Then Emily drew blood and I was alone again for an hour. I looked around at the clean, newly painted white wall, gray floor and tan curtain, which was draw to close off my room from the hallway.

Ann joined me to await the procedure

PS: Dr. Rooke needled 140ccs of blood out of the knee and sent us home.

Monday 4/8 -Went back to the ER. Ann and I waited six hours for Dr. McDermott to needle another bit more out of my knee.
Tuesday 4/9 Going to Orthopedist Dr. Cox at 10 AM.
Result; No amputation. It'll heal by itself from now on. Take two aspirin and come back in two weeks, he said.