Cromey Online

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

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Location: San Francisco, California, United States

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Friendship and Light

John the Beloved Disciple.

Who is your best friend? What is it about them that make them your best friend?

Trust? You can tell them anything. They understand you. She accepts your faults. He does things for you. Is it your dog or cat?

In high school I was playing basketball and Buddy Hooss fouled me and I was so mad I punched him in the face. He fought back and soon later we became best friends the rest of time we were in High School. We expressed our anger and rage and forgave each other.

My best friend now is my wife Ann. I wonder how she can put up with me, faults and joys shared.

St. John the Evangelist is this parish’s patron Saint. John was described as Jesus beloved disciple or best friend.

The famous Leonardo Da Vinci painting of the Last Supper has John leaning on Jesus breast.

Dan Brown in The DaVinci Code suggests that Leonardo painted John as a young girl. Perhaps sexual variation is appropriate for our parish. Little did our founding mothers and fathers suspect the appropriateness of the name St. John.

The Gospel of John is attributed to our St. John. John did not write the Gospel of John as it was written by an educated writer, in the finest Greek probably fifty years ater the death of Jesus. John, the beloved disciple was a working Man or woman, uneducated and wandered around with Jesus the Rabbi. The writer of the gospel had a sophisticated view of the incarnation or the idea that the word was enfleshed in Jesus yet there is no birth narrative in this Gospel.

The Word was made flesh. The word Word is another word for God. Our story is that God entered human history as the man Jesus.

What a friend we have in Jesus. It is rather a corny hymn. The idea that God became a human being as a friend is kind of corny too.

But think about it. What a profound an idea of friendship. Jesus was in profound and deep friendship with John, the beloved disciple, and also his other disciples. In Jesus and his friendship with his followers and with us that the church proclaims that the best way to understand God is through Jesus. The word was made flesh and dwelt among us. The nature of God is in the nature of Jesus. Our deepest friendships on this earth are reflections of our relationship with God.

We are in love with our friends. We see them, care for them, heal them, nurture them and would even die for them. Sounds like Jesus to me.

Friendship is illustrated by this story sent to me and many of us by Michael Music…….

Twenty Years Later

December 24, 2009

As people across the world tonight light Christmas candles at Christmas Eve services, my mind goes back to another Christmas 20 years ago in Romania, when the country was still in the grip of communist tyranny.

The story begins with Laszlo Tokes, pastor of a fast-growing reformed church in the city of Timisoara. His powerful preaching had caught the attention of communist officials, and they began a strategy of suppression. They stationed police officers around his church, machine guns cradled in their arms. They hired thugs to attack him. Finally, just before Christmas, they decided to send him into exile.

But when the police arrived to hustle Pastor Tokes away, they were stopped cold. Around the church stood a wall of humanity. Christians from around the city—Baptist, Pentecostal, Orthodox, Catholic, Jews—had joined together to protest.

All through the day they held their post. As it grew dark, a young Baptist student named Daniel Gavra pulled out a packet of candles, lit one, and passed it to his neighbor.

Then he lit another. One by one the burning candles were passed out among the crowd. Soon the darkness of the December night was pierced by the light of hundreds of candles. When Pastor Tokes looked out his window, he saw a sea of faces lit up by a warm glow.

That night, he said later, was the “turning point in my life.” He would never erase from his mind the picture of believers from all denominations joining hands in his defense.

Two days later, police finally broke through the crowd and dragged Pastor Tokes away. But that was not the end. The people now streamed to the city square and began a full-scale demonstration against the communist government.

Once again Daniel Gavra passed out his candles. Once again the night was lit by their glow.

Finally, the communist officials began to panic. They brought in troops and ordered them to open fire on the crowd. Hundreds were shot. Young Daniel felt a searing pain as his leg was blown off.

Yet the brave example set in Timisoara inspired the rest of the nation. Within days the entire population of Romania had risen up and the bloody dictator Ceausescu was gone. The churches filled with worshippers offering praise to God.

For the first time in half a century, the people of Romania celebrated Christmas in freedom.

In the hospital, Daniel Gavra celebrated while learning to walk with crutches. His pastor came by, offering him sympathy, but Daniel wasn’t looking for sympathy.

“Oh, Pastor,” he said softly. “I don’t mind so much the loss of a leg. After all, it was I who lit the first candle.”

What a powerful image for us here in America as we celebrate this Christmas—the picture of a black December night lit up by a glowing testimony to the unity of God’s people.

What mighty things the church could do today when it is truly is the church: when we stand shoulder to shoulder with all our brothers and sisters, ready to fight evil, prepared to give our limbs—and yes, even our lives—to light a candle in the darkness.

John also says Jesus is the Light of the world. The light of Christmas.

That light illumines our friendships, forgives the pain and sorrow we give our beloved friends, lights the way to new life.

Tips for an enlightened friendship:

Listen to what your friend is saying.

Ask your friend to tell you his story, listen to it.

Share yourself, you joys, sorrows and what makes you vulnerable.

Forgive, forget and move on.

Laugh at yourself.

Let her laugh at and with you.

Keep your agreements.

Be generous with your time and money.

We pray our president and congress continue to see the light of God’s word, Peace and Healing to all. We pray for and exert political pressure on them to push with all their might for more peace and more healing.

We pray that each of us will keep our promises to our friends and families. We know that we are forgiven and what we can do is be clear about what we intend to do and do it, knowing in the end we may have to repent and be forgiven.

John the beloved Disciple, the friend of Jesus, has this church named after him. This parish’s motto is More LOVE. What better ingredient of friendship than MORE LOVE. What better way to think of our whole life than a life lived for MORE LOVE.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas 2009

What is the oldest Christmas Carol? Silent Night, 1792; Adeste Fidelis, 1711; Of the Father’s Love Begotten, 348 A.D.? No, the oldest was written by a pregnant teen-age girl 2000 years ago. Her song is the Magnificat. The song is made most famous by Bach’s Magnificat, of which the first line is “My soul doth magnify the Lord.” (We heard it sung wonderfully by the SF Choral Society this December.) She begins by praising God and giving thanks that she has been the chosen one.

Then she says:

God has scattered the proud with their inmost thoughts;

He has brought down rulers from their thrones.

He has sent the rich away empty.

Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole or Irving Berlin never put those lines in their Christmas songs thousands of years later. These words, said by a powerless, penniless, illiterate Jewish peasant girl, are found in Luke’s gospel.

She amplifies her sentiments:

He hath put down the mighty from their seat,

And hath exalted the humble and meek.

He hath filled the hungry with good things,

And the rich he hath sent empty away.

Years later, the girl’s son, an itinerant Rabbi, came along and said:

Blessed are the poor, blessed are the hungry, blessed are the meek.

The government of Guatemala banned this song in the 1980s as subversive.

This Christmas we celebrate the birth of that Rabbi, son of the singer of the Magnificat. We still hear powerful men and women urging more war, opposing health care for all and unwilling to alter a culture that keeps people hungry and homeless.

We again can hear the message of the Rabbi’s Gospel, Peace on earth, good will to all. Ann and Robert add to that freedom, mercy and justice for all human beings.

Advent and Christmas 2009

Dear Friends,

We have had a healthy year. Good food, exercise, cheerful but realistic views and warm intimacy make us very happy.

Travels to Savannah, Charleston, Washington, DC, New York City, Tuxedo Park, Litchfield, CT, Hamden, CT, and Andover, MA and Boston in May took us to friends or family in each of those locations. We spent two weeks in July at Brighton, Utah, in a large cabin where we are partners with Ann’s brothers and sister.

Ann is gong to Vietnam for three weeks in January. I am going to a writers’ conference at Esalen, Big Sur, for a week while she is away.

Ann loves tutoring at Mission High School near our home. She takes lots of enjoyable classes at The Fromm Institute for Life-long Learning, and she’s studying Spanish. She also enjoys going to the opera and the symphony and to exhibits at museums in San Francisco.

Robert writes each day and puts much of it in his blog, He occasionally gets letters or articles published and has an extensive email correspondence. He continues to stand vigil, with others, every Thursday against the present wars and has written letters and articles emphatically supporting health care reform.

We wish you a blessed Christmas and a joyous new year.

Ann and Robert

Friday, December 11, 2009

Just War-No thank you

I feel bad for Obama but the notion of a just was came from a time when nations fought against other nations. Afghanistan is a puppet government ruling over disparate tribes who have no desire to be unified. I think there are plenty of ways to protect our borders and security than going to all out was against a poverty stricken nation

KDFC & Chronicle

My mind is full of stuff I want to say, read and shout so hear goes.

KDFC has music free of commercials from 9-12 Noon daily and Sunday. The weekday morning djs prattle between pieces, give ads for free concerts and so we still have music interruptus during those commercial free times. More music and less talk is still sorely needed on KDFC.

The endless announcing of the KDFC call letters is ludicrous. I am trying to forget them but they are inescapable. Whenever I hear KDFC I think, “repetitive and boring music.

Mozart, Mozart, Mozart. If he were a listener he would puke at the endless tinkling of his piano and other works.

KDFC gives us Christmas music from the day after Thanksgiving. I suggest about half the number of selections, fewer of the cutesy tunes set to string quartets or roaring choruses. i.e. Rudolph, 12 Days, all those tunes mentioning bells, including Jingle.

I do like the new guy on Sacred Concert. He is enthusiastic, knowledgeable and brief. I think Sacred Concert could use some hymn programming too.

I still think in the non-Christmas season more vocal and chorus music could be played as is done during the Christmas mush.

The Chronicle has a front-page headline about stadia in Oakland. How can this be important even in Oakland? Meat eating dinosaurs on the front page cannot be interesting to anyone but ten year olds. The paper continues to trivialize itself and news.

The Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday papers are referred to as he SF Pamphlet in our house.

Thursday, December 03, 2009


Dear Friends,

I sent the following letter to the SF Chronicle this morning. They have not published one of my many letters since January. My job is to write and send my opinions. Their job is to publish them or not.

I will add here a bit about my Christian value system that motivates my writing on this topic. The Chronicle probably will not publish my faith perspective so I usually leave it out when I send them my letters.

As a follower of Jesus the revolutionary, I believe that caring or the poor, disenfranchised, the sick and dying is the essence of our ethics and morality. That is what flows from our worship in word and sacrament. We go out into the world to love and serve all the people. I believe violence only begets violence, thus I am against war. It is that simple for me. That is the background for writing the enclosed.

Another letter to the San Francisco Chronicle:

This business of sending more troops is about getting out of the war, annihilating Taliban and al Qaeda, stabilizing Afghanistan, containing costs and making our country safe. Editorials and letters extol or decry the president’s effort. Few commentators mention the killing of human beings, civilian men, women, children, the elderly and infirm as well as the soldiers of the United States and Afghanistan. Intensifying the war will result in the deaths of thousands upon thousands of human beings. I do not think the stated ends justify the necessary killing of all those human beings.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Obama's Mistake

The president’s speech was superb, his reasoning clear, his grammar excellent and his conclusion mistaken. Thirty thousand more American soldiers going into Afghanistan means more killing of civilians, soldiers and so-called terrorists.

Afghanistan is not a country; it is a band of terribly independent tribes, living in desert and mountainous regions with little sense on unity as a nation as we know it. Taliban and al Qaeda are small deadly groups bent on destruction. They hide in caves and villages using civilians for shields. There are roughly 20,000 Taliban and 100 al Qaeda. Rooting them out with 98,000 troops can only result in the massive destruction of thousands upon thousands of civilians.

Massive infiltration by trained experts like the CIA is doing in Pakistan is worth more money and effort than the massive use of force planned by the president.

Our security is not at stake. Attacks like 9/11 are impossible to happen again. The massive security in this country and around the world can keep us secure without the massive killings that will occur with a surge in the military presence in Afghanistan.