Cromey Online

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

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Location: San Francisco, California, United States

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


I wish I could write something original about gun control. All the cogent arguments are out there. I’ll be content with whatever the President can get through the congress. I’ll have to be. It astonishes me that so many Democrats, including Harry Reid, a good guy, can be  staunch believers in gun availability for most people.

I am a moralist enough to hate hunting for sport. Grown men and women loving to kill helpless birds and animals for fun is sickening. Respect for life, all life, is not a bad motto for Christians and also for all human beings. A hunting guide in the TV show Downton Abbey said animals deserve a merciful death. A touch of civility for a professional hunter.

I loved toy guns as a youngster and so did my brother. We played kill the Japanese and Nazis during World War 2. Cap pistols, handguns and pieces of wood sat in for rifles around our toy boxes. Eventually I outgrew them.  Dad forbade BB guns, fearing we might shoot someone’s eye out.

The summer I worked a the farm in Oneida, NY, in 1944, I shot a woodchuck and a robin. I was glad I hit the targets, but felt bad afterward.  I did like handling the rifle, however.  Once in the 1980s I helped clean out a man’s apartment and discovered a small revolver. I took it to a gun store and sold it. I felt creepy just handling it and a bit afraid, too. I might shoot myself or someone else because I was too ignorant of how it really worked.

In high school I thought about going to Annapolis or West Point. I liked the uniforms. Then I found out you needed math and science to prepare for those institutions. I realized that was not for me. I barely passed either subject. It never occurred to me until later that those academies were places where one learned to shoot and kill. Like most kids I idolized the military for its glamour, not seeing deeply that one learned to kill and be killed. I certainly never thought of the pain inflicted or received. The notion of suffering never entered my adolescent mind.

I wobbled between support and opposition during the Korean and Vietnam War. However, during the anti Vietnam war days I realized I could only be a pacifist. I do not want to kill other people. War is madness. The civil rights movement and the writing and speaking of Martin Luther King, Jr. inspired by Gandhi solidified my antiwar convictions. The natural result were my anti-gun sentiments.

As a life long-Episcopalian I heard precious little teaching about the ethics of war and guns. The late Norman Pittenger at The General Theological Seminary did give a powerful talk against hunting. Today the national and diocesan church is silent on gun control. I seldom preached or wrote about gun control. I’ll remedy that. I often preached anti-war sermons.

The Quakers have always seen it as their Christian duty to oppose war. I see it as mine.

I certainly hope churches and seminaries will provide study and sermons dealing with these important issues. Youth groups could expand their programs to include issues of war, guns and alternatives for military careers. Kids can be taught about the joys and perils of being a conscientious objector.

Those of us who follow Jesus as a revolutionary rather than a pale pilgrim, notice his voice rang out for peace, forgiveness and compassion. That plus feeding the hungry and healing the sick were the essence of his words and ministry. We Christians could be leading the way to peace and safety from guns.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


On board Zaandam, Holland American Line Cruise to the Mexican Riviera, 2/9-16.

For the first couple of days I asked, “What are we doing here?” I wanted warm weather it has been cool too cold so far. No one swims in the outdoor pool on deck. Cloudy to hazy skies, some bright sun mid day. Plenty warm inside and lots of places and rooms to explore, a library, auditorium and casino. Lots of older folks and I am one of the oldest. Mostly couples, some gays, lesbians harder to spot. The younger attractive people seem to be the entertainers, staff and teachers of various activities of which there are a slew.

We meet some pleasant individuals at meal times.

Maurice is a retired meat cutter from Safeway in Canada. Good Roman Catholic with an inquiring and questioning mind.  We talked about authority in the church. I explained how that in the Episcopal Church lay people participated in the election of rectors and Bishop, fund raising and expenditures. He is unsound n the gay issue citing the Bible as literal. Pleasant guy spoke far to long to say far too little.  I was glad to escape.  One good thing is that we seldom see each other much as we have open seating at all meals.  People are pleasant and open to starting conversations.

I met Tom from Palm Springs one evening. He is a retired Presbyterian minister, married for 31 years with several children, and came out of the closeted 20 years ago. Served as a chaplain in a retirement home for twenty years. His partner does not like cruises so he thought he’d it one on his own,

Most stories are pretty conventional American and Canadian success tales as these folks like us can afford a cruise. We are surprised at how many spend a lot of time taking cruising. One woman said she took 51 cruises, she was nuts in a lot of ways.

I don’t want to take long cruises. Too much good food, most of what I do on board is what I do at home except for the cooking and shopping. The activities do not interest me much. Wine tasting, one shot cooking classes and gambling, bridge playing, and contests are skimpy fare.  Going on shore excursions, and shopping on and off the ship and at ports have little interest for me.  Ann will go bird watching in Puerto Vallarta, I probably won’t bother to get off the ship.

Valentine’s Day on the Vaandam anchored off Cabo San Lucas.

After a day and a night in PV we are heading north and home - at last. Stopped for a few hours in Cabo, Ann has gone shore. I have not. I had a physical therapy appointment to work on my knee, with Bayley an Australian instructor. I plan to spend the day on the ship, reading eating, napping and getting ready for the next meal no matter what it is. It is hot and sunny today and that really feels good, getting what I wanted from the cruise at last. Actually we had four nice warm days. .

I read My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor. It is a fine story of a Puerto Rican woman brought up in the Bronx housing projects, graduating with all the honors from Princeton and the Yale law School and then on to the Supreme Court. Very moving.

We are having a happy and restful time.

At the main port for cruise ships, right across a six-lane road is a Walmart. The standing joke on the ship is that we come all this way to shop at Walmart. One annoying thing about the ship is that they charge $3.55 for a big bottle of water. Most people are outraged. One very large overweight woman asked her friend to help her off the ship so she could buy water at a cheaper price at Walmart. The friend dutifully helped her very slow and awkward friend down the gangplank, over the six lanes of traffic and a 300-yard walk to Walmart. When Large Lady got there she found the water at about the same price as on the ship. In a huge huff, she asked her companion to take her back to the ship. Realizing how far away the ship was and how arduous it was for her to walk, she took a cab for the short ride back to the ship, $5.00 plus tip. Saving money is indeed a virtue.

I met a man while waiting on the line for dinner. I asked him what he did for a living. He said he was a Ferrier. I tried to use my Latin and Greek to find the root meaning, to no avail. He told me he was a blacksmith as was his father before him. He shoes horses, which need to be reshod every six weeks so he has a regular clientele of horse lovers who come to him to shoe their horses.

I asked another man what he did for a living. He replied that he was a hair-raiser. I asked, “Is that a stockbroker? He laughed and said, “No, I raise hair on people who are losing their their's.  More women are coming to me all the time.” People pay him a bundle of money and come to him to help them grow hair. He had a splendid main of hair himself and it wasn’t a toupee.

I also met a physician from Taiwan who had graduated from UCSF medical school and practiced in Taipei. He told me what I wanted to hear. He said studies have fond that after one is 75 years old one can eat whatever they want. I loved that. Besides, he said I looked great.

Ann and I travel well. As at home we come and go as we please and meet up for meals. I am glad we took this week off from retirement. We won’t be doing another cruise for a while.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

On Nudity in San Francisco

No public nudity is allowed in San Francisco starting February 1, 2013. Too bad. I never saw a naked body that was not beautiful, fat skinny hairy or hairless. Men with burn scars on their chests, women with one or two breasts removed were lovely. Human bodies come in all shapes and sizes and all are beautiful, if you really look at them with an admiring eye.
I walked up Castro Street the other day to the corner of Market. Ten men basked in the 70-degree heat wearing nothing else but a hat, sunglasses and shoes. They snapped pictures of each other and posed for tourists to photograph them. I had forgotten my camera.
A startling lithe young woman had red body paint over every inch of her naked body. An African-American woman with large breasts, belly and butt gave me a big smile. All she was wearing was necklace and earrings. They were having fun, showing off and enjoying the warm January day.
For sure, many respectable Americans and San Franciscan are shocked and uncomfortable seeing people nude and naked in public places. They will always pass laws trying to forbid the freedom of some who wish to doff their clothes in public. The idea that children will be offended or corrupted by seeing naked people is offered as a reason to prohibit public nudity. Some say it is undignified. Others say nakedness arouses sexual passions and corrupts the weak and the young. Sadly, some think the human body itself is sinful. Many people feel shame when they are seen naked or see others nude.
In the 1940s my mother, father, grandfather, brother and I lived in a railroad flat in the East New York section of Brooklyn, N.Y. There was one bathroom, a tub and no shower. I often saw the adults in the family nude or semi-nude scurrying in and out of the lone bathroom. They were not showing off but they were not trying to hide anything either. I had the usual amount of teen embarrassment about being nude. The male shower room in high school erased a lot of that.
As a Biblical Christian I see our bodies as gifts to us from God. Bodies are part of the creative order. Bodies are beautiful and to be admired. If some people wish to be nude in public I think they should have the right to be so. That most people want to stop public nudity is certainly their right.
I spent five months at Esalen Institute in Big Sur, CA. in 1969. At the hot springs baths people gathered for nude communal bathing. I saw and admired many men and women with no clothes on. They were all beautiful. Alan Ginsberg, Jerry Garcia and I once shared a tub.