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Category: Sabbatical in America

Remembering Maya Angelou

Remembering Maya Angelou

  I started my blogging life in 2008 partly as a way of capturing my experience of a sabbatical in America. In the spring of that year I spent a month in Washington DC followed by three months in Chicago. It was a rejuvenating and very significant time. I managed to get over to Washington for the annual American Society of Ageing conference and here is my blog from that day. I kept the rather incidental comments about  the conference and…

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Sabbatical Reflections after two months return!

Sabbatical Reflections after two months return!

It is now nearly two months since I returned from my sabbatical. I have spent some time ( but not too much!!) reading English Bishops reflections on the Lambeth conference. What surprises me most is the latent anti Americanism that come from their pens. Here is my tribute to the episcopal Church in America!!   Listening to the experience of a sabbatical can be rather like looking at a neighbour’s holiday photographs – hard to share the interest unless you…

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Frank Lloyd Wright

Frank Lloyd Wright

 What a genial looking chap – though I understand from his biographer that he was a complete rascal !  I spent a morning in Oak Park exploring the unique style of this architecture. His use of space and light and design are quite extraordinary. I then discovered that one of his houses was on the doorstep to Brent House on Woodlawn Avenue: The Robie House is one of the best known examples of Prairie style architecture, a style in whose creation…

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Jet Lag

Jet Lag

By the time you read this I (hope) that I shall have arrived back in England! I am flying Virgin Atlantic and they have flooded Chicago with adverts. There is a stretch of Michigan Avenue called the magnificent mile where most of the major retail outlets are and many of the famous skyscrapers. Virgin have hired huge sides of walls to announce that: Only 3,990 magnificent miles to London – fly with us!! Great advert but I do not really…

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And be Thankful

And be Thankful

For those if you who know your Bible you will be able to find the source of these three words! As the second leg of my sabbatical draws to a close I am full of gratitude – to people back home and here who have made this extraordinary experience possible. I love this city and its noise and energy and positive feel. I have learnt so much – and visited places – even within myself – that I would not…

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On top of the world?

On top of the world?

It is good to be a tourist and to tick those three star ‘musts’ off the list. And ever in need of a sermon illustration I wondered whether one really did feel nearer to God in the worlds tallest building! So – here is is – the Sears Tower – 233 South Wacker Drive – to give it its precise address. This has been the tallest building in the world for over 20 years and it cuts an unmistakable profile in the…

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Painted Glass

Painted Glass

You might remember my writing about Washington National Cathedral last month. I was reminded of a funny conversation that I overheard. I should say that it is not difficult to overhear conversations – they speak so loudly here! Referring to the glass a lady asked ‘Do they have to paint the glass every so often?’  The guide gave her a firm no in response pointing out that the glass is stained. ‘Stained?’ she replied, ‘ why – it looks lovely…

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Ten things you probably didn’t know about Chicago

Ten things you probably didn’t know about Chicago

This is the city’s flag Here Wrigley’s invented chewing gum Charlie Chaplin made some of his films here Adler and Sullivan invented the skyscraper here The tallest building in America is here Louis Armstrong recorded some of his work here This was Al Capone’s backyard The atom was split here in the University of Chicago It sits adjacent to the largest lake in the world It is the home city of Barack Obama – possibly the first black American president.

Who will rule the world?

Who will rule the world?

  This is a very fascinating race for the White House and the most powerful position in the world. The rules and regulations that surround the election seem to an outsider as very complicated. I get my main US news from CNN and Chicago public Radio. The only thing that I am clear about is that everyone I have met and listened to hates Bush with a lack of charity surprising in a Christian nation. They hate his taking the…

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Presbyterian Homes

Presbyterian Homes

   Ever keen to connect with the developing culture of care and housing for older people I am invited to travel north of the city to visit Presbyterian Homes – or more precisely – Westminster Place in Spokie (an Indian word) in Evanston. My guide is Dr Celia Berdes who is the Director of Research and has very kindly organised a visit. This will be my last visit to a centre for housing and care in America and will bring…

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Things I like about America

Things I like about America

  Do you understand anybody that exists without making a list or two or even three?? I thought I would offer one by way of a little lighter read: Here is a list of my top twenty likes –   Coffee Cheap and efficient public transport Steak The American Episcopal Book of Common Prayer M and Ms (candy here – sweets in the UK) – the chocolate covered peanuts are best Pedestrian Crossings – all cars stop at the sight of…

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Jimmy’s: The Woodlawn Tap

Jimmy’s: The Woodlawn Tap

 I am sure some of you may wonder what life is like out here – well it has its ups and downs – things that make one smile and others that bring a slight frown! I was in the library for most of yesterday struggling with a very dense book entitled Narratology: An Introduction to the theory of Narrative.  I tell you it isn’t easy – and requires some element of concentration! Behind me a mathematician was working on some…

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What is in a story?

What is in a story?

  The rain has stopped and there are promising signs of sunshine – I rise early and have some breakfast in Starbucks which at 6 45am is too full! I share a table with a young black woman who is reading her Bible. This, I have found here, is very common. How many of you have your Bible open at this hour?  The advantage of sitting in a throng of people is that there are all kinds of things going…

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St James’ Cathedral Chicago

St James’ Cathedral Chicago

Woken early by the extraordinary amount of rain falling from the sky – and three hours later it is still coming down. I thought it was supposed to be wind on Pentecost Sunday ? I pop upto Starbucks for my morning coffee and look out over the wide roads and cars struggling with the water. The drains seem unable to cope with the water and the sideawalks are flooding. Today is the great Feast of Pentecost and I decide to…

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My Small House

My Small House

How much space do we need in which we can  live? How many things do we need for fulfillment? Perhaps most of our lives are cluttered in some way or another – waiting for the next Jumble Sale to off load this and that. I read recently that we only have space for about thirty books – which would you choose and why? Here is a picture of the my room in Brent House at the top of the house….

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The thing about life is one day you’ll be dead

The thing about life is one day you’ll be dead

  I was going to have a rant about the annual accounts from the Church of England (see news item 6 May on at www.cofe.anglican.org) and how much it costs us to keep Bishops – if someone can explain it to me without causing a minor stroke I should be grateful – but I resist for fear of reprisals and causing boredom to the casual visitor to my Weblog. But – I may be tempted to express a view if…

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Lunch in Marshall, Field and Co (MACY’s)

Lunch in Marshall, Field and Co (MACY’s)

I have been waiting to catch up with Sam, an Episcopalian priest friend, and we decide on lunch in the large department store in the centre of town – Macys – on the fifth floor in a restaurant called The Walnut Room! It is good to chat about the sabbatical, church life, ministry and its ups and downs and a whole assortment of other topics. He is a sane and seasoned mentor and I like his approach to life. He…

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To speak or not to speak on a lazy Sunday?

To speak or not to speak on a lazy Sunday?

We all have our habits and mine is a large coffee absolutely first thing. Thankfully we have a Starbucks a block away and it has become my regular haunt – ‘ Its my English sugar’ exclaims the waitress ‘speak to me – I love that English accent’ – friendly but a bit forward if you ask me! Today (Sunday) the Regular Brew is Komodo Dragon Blend. And here is a description of the taste Big and Bold with herbal, spicy,…

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The University of Chicago

The University of Chicago

I see that Mr Brown has had an inevitable thrashing at the polls – I hope it causes a wake up in some sort of shape. From this distance and looking at the newspapers here I have come to see that there is some poverty to the quality of politcal debate in the UK. And these levels of government are not clear. Has anybody any idea of what a local council does? How does our vote there change the price…

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Welcome to Chicago

Welcome to Chicago

I confess to a certain unease about flying – I never quite know how and why the plane manges to get off the ground – and this particular plane did seem to be oddly noisy!  It doesn’t help sitting over the wing where if you look closely things do wobble a bit. However, American Airlines coped with this particular passenger and my small anxieties on my part are embraced with good humour. The preparation for the departure are helped by: a. smooth…

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