Cromey Online

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

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Location: San Francisco, California, United States

Saturday, May 29, 2010


I am sick over the oil spill in the Gulf. Those oil companies are so irresponsible about their exploitation of the earth’s resources, and so callous of the fishing and farming of the poorest people of Mexico and even the US south along the coastline. God only knows of the impact on the oceans, swamps, rivers, beaches and wildlife.

We do love the blame game in our culture. To blame the president, the need for oil and human failure for the oil spill rather than the profiteering of the oil industry and lack of controls by the capitalistic Republicans is ludicrous. Oops there I go blaming the Republicans.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


The Republicans believe in letting the capitalistic system function with minimal government involvement in the society. Democrats want government to help people in those areas where the capitalistic system fails to provide for certain human needs like education, medical care, food and shelter. Both of these basic purposes have failed particularly in the state of California. The state cannot pay its own way with the income available. We citizens of California pay quite low taxes compared to most of the people in first world countries around he world. It is time to step up and pay our fair share of taxes supporting the government the majority has elected.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Thank You Notes

“Thank you notes, how quaint and old fashioned,” said a 65-year-old friend recently. Ann had said how much she appreciated getting such notes after giving a dinner party. Friend said she never sends any. That person says she is often lonely. I wonder if there is a connection?

My teen grandchildren always send a thank you note or email when I send them money for their birthdays, graduations and for Christmas. Their mothers urge them to do so perhaps threatening that Grandpa expects a thank you note if you expect to get any further gifts. My daughters are right.

The point is not future expectations of more gifts or invitations. Thank you notes are good for the giver. When we have dinner with friends they have given us a gift of time and money. Our hosts have gone to the store, paid for the food, taken time to prepare, cook and serve the meal. Perhaps they served drinks or wine, provided dessert, coffee and after dinner drinks. The home was clean and made ready for our visit. We were welcomed into their home. They fed us food and showed their interest and concern and perhaps even love for us. What a wonderful gift they have given us, a free gift, a grace.

Hospitality makes us feel grateful for friends and generosity. If it doesn’t perhaps we have not sat back and given much thought to this gift we have been given. Do we take it for granted that we deserve this gift? Or do we think it is quaint and old fashioned and we don’t have to do it anymore? Is it just a reflection of the “me generation” giving no thought to others? Is it that it just isn’t done?

When you don’t send the note, e-mail or telephone call expressing thanks, the giver of the gift is not acknowledged for their time and generosity, they are not thanked for their care of you. When you do send that thank you note, you are reminded once again that people love you and want to serve and perhaps even help you if needed. You sense how fortunate you are to have friends who will feed you. You know that you are able to give pleasure to other persons by responding to their generosity.

The whole world yearns for acknowledgement, to be thanked. There is no way we can give thanks enough for all we have been given. When I was rector of a parish, each year at Thanksgiving time I would say to the congregation, “You can never thank me enough for all that I have do for you. And there is no way I can never thank you enough for what you do for me.”

Those of us of a religious bent know that all that we have and all that we are, are gifts from God. We did not earn our bodies, brains and health. They are free gifts to us, and for these and all our gifts and blessings we give thanks to God.

A fully mature grown up human being, an authentic human being, is one who lives a life grateful for all one has and is. Saying thank you to our friends, spouses and to our children is a way of strengthening and acknowledging them and affirms our own awareness of our dependence on others.

So the quaint, old fashioned, polite, caring and thoughtful writing of a thank you note is as important for us as it for our host and gift-giver.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


I have a friend who admits to taking money from another person. He has been told to leave his church for two years because of that behavior. My friend thinks there are extenuating circumstances, which justify his action. His critics have not heard his side of the story. Some people have said they would forgive him if he would only apologize.

The interesting question for me is, “Can one demand an apology before forgiving another person? Is an apology a quid pro quo for granting forgiveness? Is an apology wrung from a sinner a valid apology? Can forgiveness be granted without an apology, a confession, and an amendment of life?”

I believe an apology is not worth anything unless it is freely given. A forced apology is as worthless as information provided after coercion or torture. An extracted apology as a necessary condition before forgiveness or reinstatement into the church is coercion and should not be believed.

An apology with reservations is worthless. An apology must be freely given. If it cannot be freely given, one can ask why this is so. Why can’t it be freely given? Then those asking for the apology might seriously listen to my friend and try to discover why the apology cannot be freely given.

When both sides are wiling to be in dialogue with each other about what the alleged crime really entails then perhaps understanding and even apology and forgiveness is discovered.

As for forgiveness, it can only be given freely. Jesus said “forgive until seventy time seven” that means endlessly. It was the church that set up the elaborate legalistic system that says to be forgiven one must make a confession and promise amendment of life. Jesus did not set that up. His teaching about forgiveness saw it as an outpouring of love toward all people including the sinful and outcasts.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

$$$ on Military, from a friend

As I often talk about these things, I did a little reading and came up with the following numbers. Nothing is surprising -- most Defense numbers just keep getting larger, except the aggregate total of US nuclear weapons, which while having shrunk remains ridiculously excessive if not flat-out useless.

So here be the factoids:

The US military currently spends as much as $250 billion per year maintaining approximately 865 facilities in more than 40 countries and overseas US territories.

The F-35 fighter program alone may end up costing $338 billion, or more.

"The USA enters 2010 with approximately 9,400 nuclear weapons. Of these, 4,200 are retired and awaiting dismantlement. 2,500 are in reserve, and 2,700 nuclear weapons are deployed and operational around the world on US bases and submarines, many on hair-trigger alert, meaning that within minutes they can obliterate entire populations. Not only does the United States have superior weapons, but U.S. delivery vehicles and missile technology bring nearly the entire Earth within range of a U.S. nuclear attack." (Peace Action Education Fund OpEd piece of 3/11/10).

All other considerations aside, the magnitude of these numbers and what they represent is staggering, and is ominously indicative of just how unsustainable this society's use of finite resources really is. And we go around worrying ourselves about government-mandated Health Care Reform sucking away our precious personal wealth?


Monday, May 10, 2010

The Real Simple Way to Find a Church, Synagogue or Mosque

Denominational loyalty is no longer the first reason people choose a religious community.

People who feel the urge to connect to a church can shop around. The clergy expect that is what a newcomer is doing. People tend to choose the church near where they live. Try one out for a few Sundays or Saturdays. See if you feel welcomed in the service and refreshment time afterward. If not, move around and try another one.

Some people want a church with clear rules of behavior and belief. Roman Catholics, Mormons, and Southern Baptists offer those aspects of religion.

Others love smells, bells, music and sacraments but are more flexible about beliefs and ethical standards. Episcopal and Lutheran churches fill that bill.

Presbyterians, Unitarians and Methodists are good resources for those who want simple worship and excellent preaching.

Some love the silence of a Quaker Meeting. Others enjoy elaborate liturgy and music in a foreign tongue. The Greek, Russian and Armenian Orthodox churches offer such ways of worship.

Jews want their children educated in Hebrew language and traditions and presented for bar or bat Mitzvah. Shop around for a synagogue that feels right for you and your family.

The Orthodox Jews have firm beliefs, traditions, rules and laws which make adherents live an enjoyable life. Worship is in Hebrew. Sermons and teaching are in the language of the people.

Conservative congregations present modified Jewish teachings and traditions and use a lot of Hebrew in the worship.

Reformed Jews use English. They make the ancient Jewish traditions relevant to modern life.

Independent Jewish groups using ancient and modern musical instruments and songs are visible. Counter culture groups attract young people and Jews willing to connect to contemporary life. Potluck suppers, children’s services and groups for singles, the divorced, alcoholics and the just plain lonely are available.

People of Islam will find mosques and Islamic Centers in major cities and many communities. Visiting, looking at web sites and telephone calls to them will bring welcoming responses and information.

People want to join a religious institution seeking a community of faith. Searchers have many options to try new things, places, traditions and practices.

Try some out, trust your own values and resources and be willing to learn.