Cromey Online

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

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Location: San Francisco, California, United States

Friday, June 06, 2014


 JUNE 6, 2014

Today’s newspapers tell us Israel is building new settlements on disputed territory in response to the Palestinians unifying their government with Hamas and alleged terrorist organization. The Israeli government does all in its power to keep the Palestinians weak and divided. Fortunately world leaders for their cruel action have condemned the Israeli government.

The SF Muni sick out has apparently ceased to the relief of the commuters. A new contract is to be worked out.  The Muni system is reportedly badly broken. Why doesn’t the city really overhaul the system and improve it?  The answer is that it would take a lot of money.  The no tax-averse attitude of the citizens prevents the needed overhaul. As usual people would rather complain, suffer inconvenience and blame the drivers than do the obvious, which is fix what is broken, the Muni.

Today is the 70th anniversary of D-Day the invasion of France by Allied forces to begin and finish the war against Germany in 1944. The war ended a year later. As a boy I remember reading about the invasion and the carnage that took place on both sides. It did not have any impact except the exhilaration that that our soldiers were winning. The pain and sorrow of so many killed and wounded did not impact me until years later when I began to realize the horrors of war and the suffering physical, mental and emotional of the people who did the fighting.

We visited one of the beaches a couple of years ago and it was a beach with sun and water bathers, peaceful, calm and beautiful. We also   visited the American Cemetery with gleaming white crosses and stars of David, green lawn and the Red, White and Blue everywhere. It is a celebratory cemetery.  We also visited the cemetery where German soldiers were buried. It was dark, ochre and somber. The effect elicited sadness and the pain visited on the troops buried there.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014


The Palestinians try to unify their country by connecting to Hamas. This harried people want strength, unity and cooperation among their dispirit communities. Hamas is labeled a terrorist organization. Who voted to decided to call this people by that name? Terrorist is thrown around when someone feels threatened. That does not make them terrorists.

Labeling and name-calling is a sure way to create hostility. Mr. Netanyahu and the Israeli government do not seem to really want to find peace. Their tactics create enemies not unity and peace.

Sunday, June 01, 2014


God's Joke on the World

Funny Lord, how we love this life you have given us.  Of course we get tired, bored, worn down by the stupidity that surrounds us.  But then that stupid person does something, says something that is wonderful, funny, insightful.  How we hate for that to happen.  But, thank God, you have given us one another, ensuring we will never be able to get our lives in order.  Order finally is no fun, and you are intent on forcing us to see the humor of your kingdom.  I mean really, Lord, the Jews!  But there you have it.  You insist on being known through such a funny people.  And now us--part of your joke on the world.  Make us your laughter.  Make us laugh, and in the laughter may the world be so enthralled by your entertaining presence that we lose the fear that fuels our violence.  Funny Lord, how we love this life you have given us.  AMEN
--Stanley Hauerwas.

Jesus looked up to heaven and said….” What follows a complex prayer about the relationship between Jesus and God. I suggest you take this Gospel home and read it very slowly and figure out what it means to you.

Jesus prayed a lot. We are supposed to pray a lot. Sometimes we even do pray. When we remember to or if we want something. God’s Joke prayer gives us a humorous and realistic way to think about prayer and then do it.

Anne Lamott teaches us the basic prayer:
Thank you, Thank you, Thank you
Help, Help Help

We often pray for things over which we have no control.
Please God:
Don’t let this plane crash. Let the Giants win. Bring peace to the world. Feed the hungry. Don’t let my mother die.

The prayer that brings the most sense to our minds and pleasure to our hearts is the prayer of Thanksgiving.

We give thanks for our food, family, and friends; our money, freedom and democracy.
We also give thanks for the unearned gifts in our lives:
Life it self
Our brain
Our hands, feet, eyes and ears, sight and hearing.

We did not earn these things. They are God’s free and unearned gifts to us.  That makes me humble, that these essential parts of my being are not something I earned, but have been given.

Few specific thanksgivings in the prayers of the people – The late Jean Cathcart was a long time member of Trinity. In the prayers of the people she would pray aloud in her good strong voice. “That you God for all the beautiful things, the flowers, the trees.” We all chuckled bit, but then we realized she was absolutely right. She gave thanks for specific things she saw.

Prayer works on us, not on God.

We have a healing station for those who are ill or if you want to pray for someone who needs healing. Healing.

Meditation: Meditation – Maya Angelou – “Listen to yourself and in that quietude you may hear the voice of God.”

How I pray. I swim laps at the pool. I thank God for my wife Ann on the first lap, me daughter Leigh on the second lap. My daughter Sarah on the third lap and Jessica on the fourth lap. I pray for Richard, our Vicar, our congregation and other people on subsequent laps of the pool.  

I pray the Jesus Prayer– Lord Jesus Christ Son of God have mercy on me a sinner. Say it 3 times at least when taking off and landing. Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me a sinner

PRAYER WORKS ON US, NOT ON GOD. God the sustainer of the universe has lots of other things to care about than my concerns.

PRAY FOR A SICK PERSON, then do something, send a card, pay a visit, make a casserole. DO SOMEHING

Pray for peace, then DO SOME THING – Attend the vigil on Thursdays. Write letters to the president and congress, lots of letters.

Pray FOR THE HUNGRY – then do something. VOLUNTEER IN FEEDING PROGRAMS, find something to do.

We pray for pure WATER in Nicaragua, – Join and support EL PORVENIR, a program supported by our church community.

Pray for IMMIGRATION REFORM – Do something. WRITE CONGRESS, Join a COMMUNITY ORGANIZATION – Our Vicar is a hero for Immigration reform.

Pray for LGBT RIGHTS – DO SOMETHING. Join a group, send checks, talk with neighbors and friends about human rights.

SOME TIMES WE ARE POWERLESS – Malaysian Airline Tragedy. The 9/11 DISASTER. MASS KILLINGS -PRAY ANYWAY. Helpless. Hope for a miracle.

PRAYER WORKS ON US. It helps us focus on our most important values. So pray and get to work.

Thursday, May 22, 2014


Here is the way I see it:

No government or business has the willingness or charity to stop global warming, racial hatred, homophobia, war, murder, sickness, disease et al.  We will just go on doing what we do until the planet destroys itself.

Being a simple minded Christian and believe the kingdom of God will come at the end of history and then the lion will lie down with the lamb etc., I have expected the end will come sometime.  Meanwhile being a follower of Jesus, I choose to work to serve others. Many others and I work for an end to global warming, promote racial justice, LGBT rights, end war, murder, sickness, disease et al. I do all that because I feel better when I do and it may even serve some others. I have a good life, wife, family and friends. I have had a life and work that I both loved and enjoyed.

If others find joy and fulfillment by worshipping money, power, sex (tried that), science, I wish them well. My bet is those pursuits will not bring much real joy. But, who knows?

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Lecture on Jesus to Stanford Medical Students

May 15, 2014    (a draft)

Your Patients have a wide variety of religious and spiritual values. I am going to give you some ideas about what some Christian ones are.

The doctor is pastor sometimes just listening to the patients. That is basically what I do as a priest and pastor. I listen. Help them make their own decisions.

I had a small stroke earlier this year. Neurologist and internist lead my wife and me through a decision making process about whether or not I be given the stroke preventer – TPA. 6%. They were presenting us a values examination. Since the stroke symptoms had subsided they mentioned that there is a 6% chance the TPA could cause another stroke or death. The doctors listened and watched me. We decided not to take the drug. I am fine now.

Attitudes toward religion include people who say, “Religion is bunk” are not making a responsible statement. He/she does not know enough about religion to say that.

“I” think religion is bunk is responsible statement. Here the person takes responsibility for her or her statement.


Sometimes I cringe when I say his name. The ignorance and superstition that surrounds his name is often embarrassing to me.

“Have you found Jesus?”
“Is Jesus in your heart?”
“Have you had a personal experience of Jesus?”

“What would Jesus Do”

Jesus as a rabbit’s foot. I’ll pray to Jesus that this plane won’t go down or that the Giants will win.

Jesus is the butt of many jokes. On Easter there is hunky Jesus contest in SF’s Dolores Park.

Jesus on the cross. Jesus is “hung up.”

Jokes about Jesus walking on the water, having sex with Mary Magdalene and scoffing at the myth of the Jesus’ mother being a virgin.

Then there are the followers of Jesus, who have distilled his teachings into:

No birth control
No abortions
Homosexuality is evil

Who is Jesus???

John Dominic Crossan, Biblical Scholar has said of conservative Christians and many non-believers:

“What bothers me is not that ancient people told literal stories and we are smart enough to take the symbolically, but that they told them symbolically and now we are dumb enough to take them literally.”

Jesus was the illegitimate child of a Jewish teen girl who married Joseph her betrothed. The story is that he lived with his parents; perhaps trained as a carpenter or cabinetmaker. In about 30 AD he began an itinerant life, homeless, no visible means of support. Preached about helping the poor and needy and talked about the Kingdom of God. The Roman rulers in Jerusalem abetted by the Jewish temple leaders, crucified him because he appeared to be a threat to Roman rule that they were the only kingdom. After his death and burial, his followers said that he had risen from the dead.

The earliest writing about Jesus was by St. Paul who told some of the Jesus story in the 50s AD. Twenty years after his death. The biographical writings about Jesus began in about 60 AD, thirty years after Jesus’s death in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in the 90s A.D.

The only outside historical record of Jesus was a mention by the Josephus, a first century Jewish scholar and historian. The mention is fleeting and much argued about his significance.

Jesus was a storyteller – The Good Samaritan and The Prodigal Son are two great many layered stories of compassion and forgiveness. Many other parables-mustard seed, unjust ruler.

The story is that Jesus was a healer. Blind were made too see, the lame walk and the dead raised.

The story is that Jesus was a social prophet. He called for the hungry to be fed, peace to the world, healing to those that were sick. Matthew 5 and 6.

Jesus inspired people to follow him. Paul organized the church and led the followers to bring the message of Jesus throughout the Mediterranean world.

The liberal branches of Christianity have taken the words of Jesus for healing, social justice and peace. I can say I am a follower of Jesus because I want to dedicate my life to working with the poor, the sick, the disenfranchised, the homeless and the social outcasts.

Martin Luther King, Jr. A follower of Jesus excited the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s and the laws discriminating against people of color were erased from the law books.

As a follower of Jesus, I worked for the Civil Rights movement and marched in Selma, Alabama in 1964. I helped found the Council on Religion and the Homosexual also in 1964. In the 1980s Trinity Church where I was rector, we ministered to the gay men sick with the then unknown disease of AIDS. We held 72 funerals for young men from 1984-1990. Friends, lover, family, children, grandparents of men who died of HIV disease. Our church was first host to project Open Hand, which provided thousands of meals for sick gay men. Since I retired I have been on a Thursday Vigil outside SF’s Federal Building against war.

The new Pope Francis chiding his church to emphasize caring for the poor and the hungry and work for peace heartens us liberal followers of Jesus.

Social Worker vs. Follower of Jesus.
 The difference between the most honorable professions is that followers of Jesus gather for worship. We pray, sing and take bread and wine together as a remembrance of Jesus.

We go to churches where all people are welcome. No one can be turned away. We do not get to vote on who are our members. It is not a private club.

We worship means we give our ultimate worth and value to God in the name of Jesus.

The mass is the most honored command of Jesus. He said eat and drink this bread and wine whenever you gather together. He said, “Do this in remembrance of me.”

At every minute of every hour of every day somewhere in the world a Christian priest is saying mass or the Holy Communion. It is Jesus’ most obeyed commandment.

We Christians are called to service in obedience to the will of God. That is our purpose in life.

How did Jesus become the Christ or God in the flesh?

The early church battled for four hundred years arguing as to the nature of Jesus.

One groups said he was not really a man, but a spirit
Another said he was half man and half God
Another said he was mostly God and but a small part was a man.
Some said he was a great prophet only.

In 325 AD, The Emperor Constantine got the Christian Bishops and scholars together. Constantine hoped Christianity would unify the decaying Roman Empire. The Bishops came up with the formula that Jesus was truly God and truly man. This is the doctrine of the INCARNATION.

Now of course that is a paradox, which the Christian churches have wrestled with ever since.

I am not here to convert you. In fact I don’t care what you think or believe. But, I do hope I have put the man Jesus in an historical perspective that will help you think past stereotypes and clichés, jokes and sentimentality. Like it or not Christians are here to stay and many of us see that the Jesus we follow led us to be concerned for justice, poverty, healing and peace.

Christians certainly differ tremendously.  Roman Catholic Representatives Boehner and Ryan don’t thin the government should be in the business of health care.  Protestant liberals like President Obama; the Clintons believe like I do, that only the government can be rich enough and strong enough to care for all the people in our country in need of health care. In this case the leaders say they are Christians and followers of Jesus.

Compassion and forgiveness were a basic message of Jesus. Forgiveness. A compassionate person forgives those who have hurt or maligned them. Forgiving one’s self is the hardest thing to do. One can forgive one’s self but, the guilt may remain forever.

A Woman can commit adultery and finally be forgiven by her spouse. She may even forgive herself. But, the guilt persists, perhaps for life. Learn to live with it, as my doctor said to me thirty years ago about the pain in my neck.
Doctors – and chaplains “need to help the dying to review their achievements as well as resolve their failures, to suture again with those they have loved, to realize they have tried.” (Zaroff?)

This what we in religion call confession and forgiveness.

All of us are spiritual. Spirituality is very popular today.
I am spiritual but not religious is an expression that a great many people use.

I chatted with a woman at an airport recently and she told me she was Spiritual by not religious. I asked her to tell me what she meant by spiritual. She said she was a journalist and thus inquisitive:

Civil Rights and social justice
A sense of the transcendence in life.
Healing – She was pregnant.

These values are in fact the same values of most Christian Churches – at their best. Judaism and Islam. Of course there are some people in all religions that eschew some of these values, like science, birth control, abortion and the creation of the earth.

All people worship something. Worship is the activity in which you place the things that are worth the most to you. We all have those basic values or ideas of what is most important, most worthwhile.

Money, Science, Medicine, Family, God, power, work, Law  – what else? Combinations of all these are what people worship. I choose the God as expressed in the teachings of Jesus.