Ascension Day No. 1, a poem by Peter Menkin

Religious and spiritual poem that reflects on a trip to Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, CA USA with a friend in the year 2000. No. 1 was written in 2008. Aspiring poet Peter Menkin is also known as a “Parish Poet” because his poems appear on the website of and newsletter of Church of Our Saviour (Episcopal), Mill Valley, CA USA. An image of the Church in Mill Valley (north of San Francisco) ends the poem. It was taken by Rick White, Peter’s neighbor who is 77 years old (as of 2008). Rick has 9 children, 20 grandchildren, and 4 great grandchildren. He worked as a travel photographer, and as an advertising agency art director. The first image of the poetry movie is “Bird of Paradise,” taken at Wanshishan Botanical Gardens, Xiamen, Fujian, Chine circa 2007–taken by Rick White.
Video Rating: 0 / 5

Conversation With Aged by Peter Menkin

Conversation With Aged by Peter Menkin

Conversation With Aged by Peter Menkin

Free Online Articles Directory

Why Submit Articles?
Top Authors
Top Articles
AB Answers

Publish Article

0 && $.browser.msie ) {
var ie_version = parseInt($.browser.version);
if(ie_version Hello Guest

Login via

My Home
Sign Out



Remember me?
Lost Password?

Home Page > Writing > Poetry > Conversation With Aged by Peter Menkin

Conversation With Aged by Peter Menkin

Edit Article |

Posted: Sep 20, 2008 |Comments: 0




Ask a question

Ask our experts your Poetry related questions here…200 Characters left

Related Questions

I am female age 50 yrs, my uric acid level is 7.2, having problem of pain in ankle joints, calf muscles & bones, I am under treament of calcium defeciency after abdominal hystrectomy, taking ca sandoz

Syndicate this Article

Copy to clipboard

Conversation With Aged by Peter Menkin

By: Peter Menkin

About the Author

Peter Menkin, an aspiring poet, lives in Mill Valley, CA USA (north of San Francisco).

My blog:

(ArticlesBase SC #570502)

Article Source: – Conversation With Aged by Peter Menkin

Conversation with Aged
by Peter Menkin

I recite a long Psalm,
beginning as a confession
but lending my thoughts
and opening my heart.

Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes,
And I shall keep it to the end

Give me understanding, and I shall keep your law;
I shall keep it with all my heart.

Be gentle to memory: of failure
to seek God, and desire good
creates a long list of weakness
and mindless concerns that ignore
God for so many years.

Let your loving-kindness come to me, O Lord,
And your salvation, according to your promise.

Old ones I talk with as I read, speak
of their youth, and I think
“Is this what is on their minds?”
So I soothe and open my heart
to let in healing to younger times
in my life. Even to childhood.

Happy are they whose way is blameless,
Who walk in the law of the Lord!

Happy are they who observe his decrees
And seek him with all their hearts!

I say words for them, these old people, and
for others:
in thought before words,
in mind before thought,
present in the heart, and I listen,
always desiring to hear.
This talk with old people
leads me to gentleness with myself.
This is their message.

They say to me, “I am living
so long. I hardly think about it.”

I continue my reading
Psalm 119.

I am a stranger here on earth;
Do not hide your commandments from me.

Let my cry come before you, O Lord,
Give me understanding, according to your word.

These notes about poetry I write were originally made for The Academy of American Poets writers workshop. As artistic statements, they are more that than they are apology. Thank you in advance for reading them. One reason for posting them with this particular poem, which is new, is that the poem uses quotations from the Psalms. The poem about the presence of Christ, in the previous post, also references the Bible. As well, just recently, this last Sunday, yesterday, I talked with Deacon Betsy Rosen on some of my reasons for writing religious and spiritual poetry. In a way, these artistic notes and statements touch on my intention to write poetry of praise and gratitude.

Artistic notes, a series of statements (referencing “Christ’s Presence”):
A Biblical set of words enlarges the meaning of the poem by providing a larger sense of “generation to generation,” at least to me, and has a kind of finality. I do hope it does these things, and I am working on that still. As in the Psalms, used in this poem posted here, and the “Dust to dust” reference in the posting just before this one, they have resonance.

It is as a statement, for me as someone familiar with some of the Bible, a resonance of God, and emphasizes that this poem is religious and spiritual with a given discipline and basis of concern and point of view, expressing as well some of the insight of Christian living, and an aspect of the visitor’s reason for visiting, implied as a visit to the sick, or the aged, or the dying.

This charitable act indicates a certain kind of stance, specific to practitioners of Christianity, and certainly of my denomination, and demonstrates a kind of compassion and mercy with which the writer believes we live in the light and life of a God of goodness.

This is a Christian poem, and a poem of religious and spiritual dimension, as much as it may need some help and may be lacking. That is the effort. To avoid the Bible would be to deny some of the authority, purpose, and strength of the statement. At least for this writer. I am not making apology in the work. The work may lack, but the intention of the writer is hopeful for the work.

There you have my rant on the subject, and I could go on with a statement of my own personal intentions in poetry of this kind, but I wanted to stick with this specific piece and the use of the Bible in it. Though I do use various words or phrases, ideas of Biblical kind, including the Psalms in my poetry. At least I try. You’ll see in my poem about an aged person, also posted on the site at the same time, I quote hymns. I think that works, hopefully, and is appropriate to the work.

But I am grateful to you for commenting. For you are not the first to raise the issue, not only of the use of the Bible in a poem, but also the need and correctness of form of a poem containing a Biblical sense, or religious and spiritual one that makes a statement. Hopefully, I’m in the realm of the okay with this kind of work.

Another artistic statement (referencing “Christ’s Presence”):
You’ve hit a nerve with that one, how a reader may pass over the words, “Dust to dust,” (in the poem posted previous to this one with its references to Psalms, also Biblical), because they have little in them to catch their imagination. I am looking for a way in my response to say that may be a problem for me, and I would like to think in context of the poem a reader’s problem. For “Dust to dust” brings up thoughts of death and burial, at least for me. Age is certainly a thought, but in the context of the poem the certainty of mortality. In other words, I hope that the context of the poem brings out some kind of unpacking of the few Biblical words.

I think what I am trying to prove in my comments, or at least convince myself of if no one else, is that “Dust to dust,” and in this poem posted here with quotations from Psalm 119, are good in the context of the poem. I did not think it would be a larger issue, but because we enter what is for me a realm of Biblical and religious concern, the vision as it were, of the poem, I am willing to focus more on Biblical resonance.

In the event you are interested in the Bible, and I hope I am not turning you off, I’ve discovered a wonderful paper by a British Bishop named Tom Wright. The link to his sermon, really an address before the Anglican Lambeth Conference 2008, is below:

I can’t but help to advertise these wonderful remarks, which I find instructive, since my own work in Poetry is part of my relationship with God. I like to think, and do think, my motivation for writing religious and spiritual poetry is as praise for God, and in my wild imagination I think that others who write similar works are similarly inclined in their way to engage their spiritual relationship more fully.

Again, an artistic statement (referencing “Conversation with Aged”):
I did go with a number of other quotations than the one you suggested (from the dialogue on the poem), and they aren’t in a particular sequence, as in sequence from Psalm 119. I chose to explore the text of the poetic statement, and maybe in its way, explore the texts I chose from Psalm 119.

I considered a number of translations: King James Version, Grail version, Vulgate, RSV, even the NSRV (because it is so modern). I decided to go with the Psalms as they are printed in “The Book of Common Prayer,” the prayer book of the American Episcopal Church (Anglican), mostly because I use it when visiting

Homily: Archangel Michael by Peter Menkin

Homily: Archangel Michael by Peter Menkin

Peacemaker blessed, may he banish

From us striving and hatred:

Archangel Michael (Hymn 282)

“The Hymnal 1982,” Episcopal Church USA


Peter Menkin, Obl Cam OSB
Church of Our Saviour (Episcopal)
Mill Valley, CA USA
Wednesday Eucharist, September 30, 2009
Lesser Feasts and Fasts, 1994

Genesis 28: 10-17

Revelation 12: 7-12

John 1: 47-51

Psalm 103


In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

  Let us speak of angels, one in particular with who all are familiar as they are familiar with their Bible: Michael… Holy Archangel Michael: Prince of Angels, Prince of Light, Defeater of Satan, Helper of Mankind, Leader of Armies of Angels.

  One prayer regarding Angels said for evening time reads:

 That your holy angels may lead us in paths of peace and goodwill

…we entreat you, O Lord.

 Angels are higher than man in the order of celestial beings, supernatural these spirits of God fight evil, for it is said Michael defeated Satan himself. Thank God.

 One Episcopal sermon states of Angels: Angel, of course, means messenger, and Archangel means first or highest messenger. The angels deliver messages and do God’s bidding. According to Tradition, Michael is the archangel who battled Lucifer, the fifth archangel who began the first war in Heaven…

 [Grace Church in Providence, 14 September, 2008,

Preached by: The Rev. Rich Bardusch]

This Homily is a list of the wonderful attributes of Michael and angels in general. For example, Pope Leo XII prayed this prayer:


Saint Michael, Archangel, defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness
and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
And do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host,
by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all the other evil spirits who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.



Those devoted to angels offer to God in Christ a form of Christian life characterized by:

Gratitude to God for having these heavenly spirits of sanctity and dignity aid man; A devotional attitude that lives in the constant presence of God’s Holy Angels; That there is serenity and confidence granted us by this knowledge of angels when facing difficult situations; That the Lord guides and protects the faithful through the ministry of Holy Angels.


Who is so brave, noble, and mighty a warrior in heavenly things as Michael?

Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they were defeated and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world — he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.

— Revelation 12:7-9 [RSV]


In matters celestial, who aids us as does Michael? It is said that at the time of death, Michael helps each of us cross over to the afterlife. He is a minister of God.


At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time; but at that time your people shall be delivered, every one whose name shall be found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.


–Daniel 12:1-3 [RSV]


Just speaking these wonderful words of promise is worthwhile.

 Many people believe there is healing in angels, and when a stressful or negative experience causes pain, either physical or emotional pain, it’s wonderful to call on the Archangel Michael. He is supreme helper in any experience that brings up fear. If you need an additional convincer of his ability to lead and give courage, know he was one of Joan of Arc’s voices.

 Great and heroic is Michael.

 Tradition declares that Michael entered upon his role of defender at the time of the biblical patriarchs. The wonderful historic Rabbi Eliezer ben Jacob tells us, it was Michael who rescued Abraham from the furnace into which he had been thrown by Nimrod Michael, the told Abraham that Lot had been taken captive, and Michael protected Sarah from being defiled by Abimelech. He also announced to Sarah that she would bear a son, and he rescued Lot at the destruction of Sodom.

An amazing and mythical angel of power and might, we know that as messenger and helper of mankind, there are forces of good led by God’s goodness. These celestial creatures of spirit have been in places of Biblical history Midrash of Hebrew scholarship says. Angels and Michael in particular are known to the Old Testament, as we see.

It is said that Michael prevented Isaac from being sacrificed by his father by substituting a ram in his place. Later Michael prevented Laban from harming Jacob According to one source, it was Michael who wrestled with Jacob and who afterward blessed him.

The midrash Exodus Rabbah holds that Michael exercised his function of advocate of Israel at the time of the Exodus also, when Satan (as an adversary) accused the Israelites of idolatry and declared that they were consequently deserving of death.

A wonderful statue of Archangel Michael stands at an entrance of England’s Coventry Cathedral. Dramatic and bold, magnificent, this statue proclaims the victory of the Church, the victory of good over evil, the vanquishing of Satan. Coventry Cathedral was ruined in the Second World War, and it is fitting that the Archangel Michael as bold leader of Heaven’s Angels did aid in the defeat of the Axis Powers by the Allies. That he is helpfully responsible for the rebuilding of the Cathedral and instrumental in the preservation of the Church.

My favorite quote from the Bible about Michael is this one:

Once when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing before him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went to him and said to him, ‘Are you one of us, or one of our adversaries?’ He replied, ‘neither; but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.’ And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshipped, and he said to him, ‘What do you command your servant, my lord?’ The commander of the army of the Lord said to Joshua, ‘Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy.’ And Joshua did so.

 –Joshua 5: 13-15[NRSV]


But of course, our Gospel tells us from John there is an angel quality to the Apostles, but more that at the end angels will appear.

When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you,” you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.

–John 1: 47-51


 I believe Angels help us to believe, not because we believe in angels, but because angels believe in us. It is angelic to have faith. It is celestial to hold the heavens and God in Christ in ones heart. It is angelic to turn towards the good, to have mercy, to believe. It is angelic to hold as spirit the awesome magnificence of life and our creator.


Glorify the Lord, O spirits and souls of the righteous,

praise him and highly exalt him for ever…


Let us glorify the Lord: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit;

praise him and highly exalt him for ever.

In the firmament of his power, glorify the Lord,

praise him and highly exalt him for ever.




Audio of the Homily is here:

Peter Menkin, an aspiring poet, lives in Mill Valley, CA USA (north of San Francisco).

My blog:

The Names, Word of God by Peter Menkin

The Names, Word of God by Peter Menkin

An imperfect poem… Yes!

Usually I send my poems to friends so they can be my readers. One wrote back that I had not followed the form of “names” well enough, but they knew what I meant. I took that as enough license to allow this imperfect poem.

After three years of regular attendance, one could say they have heard all (most) of the Bible read aloud. In this cycle all the readings are complete. Well, as you know probably, the Lectionary is chosen by members of the Clergy, at least in the Episcopal Church. They have Gospel reasons for their selections. Some things are left out. Yet, I am inspired by the inspirational attention that is given to the reading of the Bible in Church, and by the selections that are made.

People read these selections earlier in the week to prepare for the coming Sunday. In the Church I attend there is a Bible study every week to look at the selections. A lot of attention is paid to these readings, and so I hope I have communicated that I read the names in the Bible. This includes the long lists of names of family members, who begat whom.

Huston Smith, a famous theologian, gave a talk at Star King Chapel at the Graduate Theological Union some years ago and talked about how he loved the begats and the begats. I heard him speak.

The Names, Word of God…

by Peter Menkin

I waited on the names,

Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

Jeremiah, Isaiah.

I have read Isaiah,

and I must read him again.

So many chapters, he writes.

The names of the books

are wonderful.

Have you read the names in the Bible?

The geneology, here

and there–such names!

Did you know that God

is alive in history?

Do you believe?

Is it faith that leads one?

Questions. So many

in this 21st Century;

even questions are familiar

entrance for the inspired words

Dare one say, divine inspiration?

In Church, people

say, “The Word of the Lord.”

Audio reading of the poem by the poet is here:

Peter Menkin, an aspiring poet, lives in Mill Valley, CA USA (north of San Francisco).

My blog:

Homily…Let us Speak of Holiness this morning: Bernard of Clairvaux by Peter Menkin

Homily…Let us Speak of Holiness this morning: Bernard of Clairvaux by Peter Menkin

Let us Speak of Holiness this morning:

Bernard of Clairvaux
A homily,
Peter Menkin, Obl Cam OSB
Church of Our Saviour (Episcopal)
Mill Valley, CA USA
Wednesday Eucharist, August 19, 2009
Lesser Feasts and Fasts, 1994

Ecclesiasticus 39: 1-10

John 15: 7-11

Psalm 139: 1-9


In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Let us speak of Holiness this morning, God’s Holiness, as we learn of Bernard of Clairvaux. This is his Feast Day in our Episcopal Church.

From a hymn attributed to Bernard of Clairvaux, Abbot, born in 1090, at Fontaines, near Dijon, France:

My Shepherd, now receive me; my Guardian, own me Thine.
Great blessings Thou didst give me, O source of gifts divine.
Thy lips have often fed me with words of truth and love;
Thy Spirit oft hath led me to heavenly joys above.

This is a request of God in Christ by a man who founded 162 monasteries, was a man who deeply admired Mary, Mother of God, and is considered a man of God’s wisdom and holiness.

Herewith this is a remark, a statement, part of Psalm 139…

You search out my path and my lying down, /and are acquainted with all my ways. /Even before a word is on my tongue,/ O Lord, you know it completely… /Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; /is is so high that I cannot attain it.

Friend of God, yes. Man of God’s wisdom, yes. Man of Holiness, yes.


Regarding Mary, history tells of Bernard:

He considered and admired the feminine in the holy, in the divine story, as Bernard played the leading role in the development of the Mary cult. One of the most important manifestations of the popular piety of the twelfth century, the Virgin Mary had played a minor role and it was only with the rise of emotional Christianity in the eleventh century that she became the prime intercessor for humanity with the deity. She is sometimes referred to as the “fourth part of the Trinity,” for Mary is a feminine figure much admired and even referred to in prayer to this day. We pray,

“Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death…”

A Cistercian Monk, Bernard, is considered in this manner by our readings today, reflecting the three-fold manner of his character and relationship with God and man. He died at Clairvaux, 21 August, 1153:

Bernard is wise, with the wisdom of God. Bernard is Holy, with a Holiness of God. Bernard is friend of God, as the New Testament tells us of friendship with God. This is the way to abide in God.

Our Gospel, says:

If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my job may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.

So part of our reading from John for today, tells us of Bernard’s love in Christ, and his friendship with God in Christ.


In this way is Bernard found wise, so another of our readings tells us:

If the great Lord is willing,/ he will be filled with the spirit of understanding; /he will pour forth words of wisdom of his own/ and give thanks to the Lord in prayer./ The Lord will direct his counsel and knowledge, /as he meditates on his mysteries.

So goes part of our reading from Ecclesiasticus (the Apocrypha) for today, tell us of Bernard’s wisdom.


It is as a holy man we remember Bernard of Clairvaux today.


An internet search on received this definition of holiness: “The New Testament Greek word that translates KADOSH is HAGIOS.  In the New Testament it is everywhere used of Christians.  Christians are said to be HAGIOI (plural.)  All the English translations here read ‘saints’.  Paul writes letters to congregations in a dozen different cities, always beginning his letter, “To the saints in…( Corinth , Philippi , wherever.)  To be holy, a saint, is simply to be different.” 


Holiness is that which allows us to be separate –as we are closer to and with God. It is that of separation as seen in hagios from hagos, which denotes “any matter of religious awe” (the Latin sacer); and that of sanctioned (sancitus). That which is hosios has received God’s seal.


Thomas Aquinas says, “All who worship God may be called ‘religious’, but they are specially called so, who dedicate their whole lives to the Divine worship, and withdraw themselves from worldly concerns, just as those are not termed ‘contemplatives’ who merely contemplate, but those who devote their whole lives to contemplation”. The saint adds: “And such men subject themselves to other men not for man’s sake but for God’s sake,” words which afford us the keynote of religious life–so it is called.


What we are speaking of is the inner dynamic within and between God and man. And it has the most dramatic effects, bringing uprightness, happiness, yearning, treasuring, and delight.


The late Anglican Reverend Professor Daniel Hardy, defines Holiness.


So holiness is not to be seen, but it is found in those whose hearts are formed by the inward laws given to Moses by the Lord. Moreover, it is found again in those whose hearts are formed by the consistent faithfulness of the Lord in the crucified and risen Christ. And the benefits go beyond what we saw in the passage from Nehemiah. Then there was uprightness, happiness, yearning, treasuring, delight, and their lives were filled with the unfathomable presence of the Lord, whose holiness and joy flooded their hearts. But now there is a ‘spiriting’ of human hearts that makes them responsive and responsible, a people affirmed by the Lord and marked by inner peace, meaning and purpose, faith, hope and love. All these rest on what we might call the three I’s.


Daniel Hardy explains more:

All these rest on what we might call three ‘I’s’:

(1) That the Lord is ‘I am, always with you’ — ever faithful and loving to us; (2) That this Lord gives and ‘spirits’ another ‘I’, responsive to the ‘I am’ and responsible for us, who abides with us; (3) That this ‘I am, always with you’ gives and ‘spirits’ the ‘I’ that each of us is, to be responsive and responsible.

Reverend Professor Daniel Hardy explains, also: When the ‘I’ that I am, or you are, is within the ‘I’ that Jesus is, and thereby with the ‘I’ that the Lord is, our hearts will burn within us as we remember him. There we will know holiness and peace, and give faith, hope and love to each other.



Bernard of Clairvaux writes in his paper on the Song of Songs:


… (M)etaphor shows that we cannot of ourselves come to Christ in our Lord, unless he draws us by his grace, which is laid up in his storerooms: that is, in the mysteries of Faith, which God in his goodness and love for mankind hath revealed, first by his servant Moses in the Old Law in figure only, and afterwards in reality by his only begotten Son Jesus Christ…




A Prayer attributed to Bernard goes:


Jesus, the very thought of Thee
With sweetness fills the breast;
But sweeter far Thy face to see,
And in Thy presence rest.

Nor voice can sing, nor heart can frame,
Nor can the memory find
A sweeter sound than Thy blessed Name,
O Savior of mankind!

We know that Bernard of Clairvaux, the historic figure of the Middle Ages, was a defender of the twelfth century Church, known for his ardor he preached love of God, “without measure.”

A Holy Man, we thank God on this day for his life.

Bernard is wise, with the wisdom of God. Bernard is Holy, with a Holiness of God. Bernard is friend of God, as the Gospel tells us of friendship with God.


May the lord bless us and keep us. Amen. May the Lord make his face to shine up us and be gracious to us. Amen. May the Lord life up his countenance upon us and give us peace. Amen.


An audio recording of the Homily is here:

Peter Menkin, an aspiring poet, lives in Mill Valley, CA USA (north of San Francisco).

My blog:

Presbyterian Church USA Middle East Study Committee recommends Kairos Document adoption for study by General Assembly 2010 by Peter Menkin

Presbyterian Church USA Middle East Study Committee recommends Kairos Document adoption for study by General Assembly 2010 by Peter Menkin

Presbyterian Church USA Middle East Study Committee recommends Kairos Document adoption for study by General Assembly 2010
by Peter Menkin

The Kairos Document is a work that is a kind of Christian peaceful means of declaring war based on various “peaceful methods” of protest and action regarding an unfair and unjust nation’s activities in its own national self-hood, in its own national actions and policies against its citizens, and in its own national actions against another people. The Kairos Document is a work created by Palestinian Christians and aimed at Israel, as a State, a government, and this writer thinks also in its reflection on its Jewish citizens and Jews in general regardless of nationality.

That latter statement about it is a reflection of Jews as people, rather than the government of Israel and Israeli actions towards Palestine is probably the widest area of judgment against what is in many respectable quarters considered a radical document that should not be adopted as recommended by the Presbyterian/Israel policy committee on the Middle East by the Presbyterian Church USA at their General Assembly meeting July, 2010. All of the parts of the Kairos Document have been strongly criticized, and held as anti-Semitic by major mainline Jewish organizations in the United States, including the respected human rights organization, The Wiesenthal Center, based in Los Angeles.

This article is the third in a series of three on the Middle East Policy Committee of the Presbyterian Church USA paper that is more than 150 pages long and can be found here. It is the final of the three reports in this series, and for readers not familiar with the Kairos Document, a PDF of the Document is found here. This is an important Document, supported by many Presbyterians, obviously since it appears in their recommendations for policy towards Israel, and is popularly support by numerous “peace” groups in the United States, and even in Europe and the Middle East.

In an effort to be more transparent in this last of the series, this writer offers an opinion regarding the Israeli need for peace, and peace for all the Middle East. With the proviso that this is a commentary and report, not an editorial or opinion piece reflecting the writer’s views, nonetheless, it is appropriate to say that the key element for work towards peace in the Middle East is continuing dialogue, lack of hostilities, which means truces and aspects of various kinds of truces. This takes a mature diplomatic series of helpful actions on the part of nations. The effort of the Presbyterian Church USA in its policy recommendations is an effort to work towards peace, as is the intent of the Presbyterian Church USA. No doubt of their sincerity, in this writer’s estimation, and is the clear work of the Presbyterian as they form Christian responses to Israel and Middle East issues.

Readers who are familiar with the Presbyterian Church USA policy report and have followed it as it has developed know it is a controversial document made all the more controversial by its inclusion this year with the Kairos Document as part of its recommendation for adoption. One recognizes Jewish Community fear and repulsion of what it believes is anti-Semitism and a planned policy that will get rid of the State of Israel. The list of organizations believing this act of affairs is long, and this writer prefers to stay with one example, The Wiesenthal Center. After all, this is a commentary and report for the web and as such requires out of fairness a statement and statements that reflect this major concern and shocked series of observations resulting in opinions held by Israelis and significantly for this writer, noted Jewish organizations in the United States. They are joined by many other voices who find the report unbalanced and unfair to Israel and the Jewish Community. That said, and with the hope that there is much of worth in the report that Christians and Presbyterians need to read and even adopt, in all fairness to the Presbyterian Church USA, this commentary and report will go on with the effort to tell about the Committee recommendations in this space of words. Please note this article also is a compilation of other comments and reports on the Kairos Document in an effort to outline and illuminate the issues.

The “Christian Century”, a more liberal American magazine has looked at the report and two writers who are themselves respected academics comment on the paper coming before the General Assembly. The writers are: Ted A. Smith and Amy-Jill Levine. The title of their article is: “Habits of anti-Judaism: Critiquing a PCUSA report on Israel/Palestine.”

The assembly charged the committee with preparing “a comprehensive study, with recommendations, that is focused on Israel/Palestine within the complex context of the Middle East.”

The study committee made several moves that demonstrate its desire to avoid some of the most common forms of false witness against Jews. For example, it notes that most Presbyterians reject supersessionist narratives in which “Christians have supplanted Jews” to become “the only legitimate heirs of God’s covenant with Abraham.” Signaling this rejection of supersessionism, the report speaks of “Older Testament” and “Newer Testament” in its biblical references. Such language is neither necessary nor sufficient for avoiding supersessionism, but it at least suggests a desire to proclaim a gospel that does not begin with God’s rejection of Jews.

Though critical of the Middle East Study Committee report, the academics who say much in their Christian Century article given the Presbyterian Church USA good marks for a good attitude.

What the Presbyterian Committee itself asks is that Presbyterian Church USA members, and Christians in general, take time to look at this report. The Reverend Doctor Ron Shive, in a Press Statement, says, “It is a challenge to present a report of this length,” “The temptation to lift out a sound bite to support or defend one’s position will be incredibly strong. But we prayerfully ask that everyone read the full report for themselves and make use of the additional resources at”

“The situation in the Middle East is too critical to do anything less,” he says.

Here in the same Press Statement is a good representation of the Middle East Study Committee interests and perspective:

Within the report is a review of General Assembly policy statements on the Middle East, which date back to the founding of the State of Israel in 1948. The committee found that these statements have consistently called for a two-state solution with rights, dignity, and security for both Israelis and Palestinians.

However, the committee’s report lifts up the growing urgency to find a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: “The real concern that we all embrace is that the window of opportunity for an end to the occupation and the viability of a two-state solution is rapidly closing. This is due in large part to the rapid growth of settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the increasing number of bypass roads, the injustice of the separation barrier, and tragic numbers of house demolitions.”

The report continues, “A just and lasting peace and security for Israel is possible when the occupation has ended and the Palestinian acts of violent resistance are no longer employed. A just and lasting peace and security for the Palestinians is possible when the occupation has ended and Israel does not need to resort to military force to maintain its illegal land possession. If there were no occupation, there would be no Palestinian resistance. If there was no Palestinian resistance, Israelis could live in peace and security.”

“Inexcusable acts of violence have been committed by both the powerful occupying forces of the Israeli military and the Jewish settlers in the West Bank, as well as the Palestinians, of whom a relatively small minority has resorted to violence as a means of resisting the occupation.”

The committee concludes, “Violence is not an acceptable means to peace, regardless of its rationale.”

It is clear that the report is a “peace” document, for it says, “Violence is not an acceptable means to peace, regardless of its rationale.”

A reader can see in the Press Statement the explanatory position regarding the report and its intention, seen by its Chairman Ron Shive. The Reverend Doctor Ron Shive makes a good spokesman for the statements released by the Presbyterian Church USA. Their Statement regarding the report continues at length:

The committee’s 39 recommendations to the 219th General Assembly are as detailed and extensive as the report itself.

In their introductory comments to the recommendations, committee members write that they seek to strengthen the PC(USA)’s “past positions on behalf of peace between Israelis and Palestinians and the cessation of violence by all parties, and its opposition to Israel’s ongoing expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and its continuing occupation of those territories.”

The comments continue, “We also call upon the various Palestinian political factions to negotiate a unified government prepared to recognize Israel’s existence. We proclaim our alarm and dismay—both over the increasingly rapid exodus of Christians from Israel/Palestine caused by anti-Palestinian discrimination and oppression, the growth of Islamic and Jewish

Homily: Missionary, Evangelist, Herald by Peter Menkin

Homily: Missionary, Evangelist, Herald by Peter Menkin

Missionary: Evangelist and Herald

Channing Moore Williams

A homily,
Peter Menkin, Obl Cam OSB
Church of Our Saviour (Episcopal)
Mill Valley, CA USA
Wednesday Eucharist, December 2, 2009
Lesser Feasts and Fasts, 1994

Acts 1: 1-9

Luke 10: 1-9

Psalm 96: 1-7


In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

 The prayer today offers, “…that your Church may proclaim the unsearchable riches of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.”

 Let us speak of Missionaries today, in specific Channing Moore Williams of the 19th Century. We celebrate this man today. Let us also celebrate missionaries.

 Jesus instructed his apostles to make disciples. The Bishop of China and Japan, based in Yode (Tokyo) wanted just that in his work, to make disciples. Most of his effective work was done in Japan, where he ended with just less than 1,000 adherents. That is as many as were the original Christians in the earliest days of Christendom. That makes sense, for beginnings are often small, and it does not take numbers to build a Church.

Channing wrote this in his report of his activities as a missionary in 1889:

 Our Church must settle what she is to take in the great work of bringing this people of this interesting country to the knowledge of and faith in the Lord Jesus; and what she determines to do must be done without delay. She cannot think that she has, in any sense, come up to the measure of her responsibility. For the truth is the mission has been sadly undermanned from its commencement to the present; and the fact is especially apparent at this time when, by the new treaties, the whole country is to be thrown open to our missionaries to travel and reside where they may please, without restrictions of any kind.


–C.M. Williams, Missionary Bishop of Yedo (now Tokyo), Japan, August 8, 1889

From the book, “Documents of Witness”



 Here are some biographical notes about Channing Moore Williams:


He stayed in Japan for nearly twenty years, assisting his successor and helping to establish new congregations…resigned his jurisdiction in 1889 for health reasons.


He believed in a slow and careful approach, waiting nine years before baptizing his first convert.


That same year, Williams who began his missionary work in 1829, was consecrated Bishop for the church’s mission in China and Japan.


He founded the divinity school which became Saint Paul’s (Rikkyo) University, still one of Japan’s best known colleges.


In 1887, Williams helped bring together the English and American missions to form the Nippon Seikokai, the Holy Catholic Church in Japan.


This neat amount of information comes from a wonderful book I highly recommend—“Celebrating the Saints,” by Christopher L. Webber. It has a devotional reading for every Saints’ Days.


Let us pray a moment and take some silence for Channing Moore Williams on this the day we celebrate him:

Almighty and everliving God we thank you for your servant Channing Moore Williams.


(Moment of silence here.)


 Missionary work has changed in 150 years in our Church. No longer is it colonialist, no longer does it attempt to change people to the supposed better ways of our own culture. The missionary takes the people who they are, where they are, and settles with them in their indigenous culture.

 Yet much is unchanging in missionary work, for it is based in tradition and in the Bible.

 Bishops and clergy today agree: “The challenge this church faces today is like that of the last 150 years – how to be faithful, poor in spirit, and righteous in a culture that doesn’t always share those values.

 “[The missionary’s] ability to transform the society around [him] toward that vision of the heavenly kingdom lies in [his] ability to speak to this context, to live into those three selves of the 19th century missionaries (who learned them from the apostle Paul). This indigenizing church needs to speak good news in pachinko parlors, in anime, in the anonymity of crowded cities.

 “This church has the ability to do that in this generation, as it has in generations past. [His] witness can teach others as well — particularly the churches of Western Europe and North America who also labor in secular and consumerist cultures. What will [he] teach us? How will [he] help to propagate the gospel from seeds grown in the good earth of Nippon?”

 So says Presiding Bishop The Most Reverend Katherine Jefferts Shori of

the Episcopal Church.


  Bishops and lay people, clergy bring fresh water, schools, medical help, and hope as they bring the message of Jesus Christ. They do this work because they believe as Christians it is an obligation of their faith and work to bring the Kingdom of God. As is said in Acts:

 …when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth…

 Remember how in Luke 10 the Lord sends out disciples. The words of the Bible read:

 After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into the harvest…”


 Channing Moore Williams did as Jesus Christ charged. He went out into the towns and places ahead of the Lord, into a foreign land where he followed the rest of the dictates.

 Whatever house you enter, first say, “Peace be on this house!” And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person, but if not, it will return to you. Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you, cure the sick who are there, and say to them, “The kingdom of God has come near to you.”

 As Christians, we believe in the good news of Jesus Christ. We believe in offering and spreading this good news to all the world. We believe in the good works of the missionary. We work with people in foreign lands, we bring them the good news of Jesus Christ. In so doing, we “…make a joyful noise to the Lord, all/the earth; / break forth into joyous song and sing praises…”

 Each act of mission is a new act.

 O sing to the Lord a new song,

For he has done marvelous things.

His right hand and his holy arm

Have gotten him the victory.

The Lord has made known his victory;

He has revealed his vindications in

The sight of the nations.


 His servant Channing Moore Williams who we remember on this day met the world, and today we meet the world still. Perhaps in different ways, more to the bringing to indigenous peoples a gift than a change in their culture. We think this new way of approach brings the kingdom of God more effectively to the greater world, for the era of colonialism is gone.

  In review as support of our modern vision of missionary work: A definition is this: “one who is sent to witness across cultures.” to form a viable indigenous church-planting movement.” Recognizing justice as being at the heart of the Gospels.

 He has remember his steadfast love

And faithfulness

To the house of Israel.

All the ends of the earth have seen

The victory of our God.


Peter Menkin, an aspiring poet, lives in Mill Valley, CA USA (north of San Francisco).

My blog:

Methodists Look Towards Communion In England, Lutherans In America With Methodists And Episcopalians By Peter Menkin

Methodists Look Towards Communion In England, Lutherans In America With Methodists And Episcopalians By Peter Menkin

by Peter Menkin

In an historic move, the Methodist Church in Great Britain “is on its way to rejoining the Church of England…” The “Telegraph” newspaper report from the United Kingdom by Martin Beckford goes on to say, “The head of the non-conformist denomination said it was ready to come back to the national church after 200 years apart, if it would help spread the word of God.”

The paper’s report continues:

The Rev David Gamble, president of the Methodist Conference, told General Synod, the Church of England’s governing body on Thursday: “We are prepared to go out of existence not because we are declining or failing in mission, but for the sake of mission.

“In other words, we are prepared to be changed and even to cease having a separate existence as a Church if that will serve the needs of the Kingdom.”

In the United States, and specifically as well in California’s San Francisco Bay Area, The Episcopal Church USA is in Communion with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. This means Lutherans may take Communion at Episcopal churches, as may Episcopalians freely take Communion in Lutheran churches.

At the Church this writer attends, who may take Communion is a controversial topic. Church of Our Saviour (Episcopal), Mill Valley, California, located north of San Francisco debated the subject and decided they would publish a statement in their Sunday bulletin, every Sunday. It says, “everybody…” is welcome at God’s table, but reminds the visitor that instruction for Baptism is readily available and freely offered. Controversial a statement as this may be, no one at most Churches finds themselves “carded” when coming for Communion.

(Carded means asked for proof of Church membership, or of Baptism. The Episcopal rule is one must be Baptized to receive Communion, by the way.)

Roman Catholic Communion services require a visitor be a Roman Catholic to receive Communion, which annoys many people as many resent the “closed” and what some call exclusive and special nature of the Roman Catholic Church and its membership—even in this post Vatican II era it is so. Of course, a blessing is offered by Roman Catholics to those visitors who attend Mass and are not Roman Catholic. This is a good thing. Other Churches, like the Episcopalians, do so, too. They offer a blessing to the unbaptized, the real Church policy of The Episcopal Church USA, and of course within the Anglican Communion.

Apparently, British Methodists will be in Communion with the Anglican Church in England, and this significantly also means there is a special and Church recognized bond in Christ between the two Churches, just as that special bond occurs between the Lutherans and Episcopalians in the United States and specifically San Francisco’s Bay Area. Parishioners at the Mill Valley Church of Our Saviour like this situation, as it makes Christians closer in Christ.

Though this planned merger of the Methodists with The Church of England is not completed, the intention is real. The “Telegraph” continues:

 It is believed Methodists have now recovered from (a) hurt…caused (in 1972 over women priests), there are fewer grounds on which traditionalists in the Church of England can object to unity as it introduced female priests in 1994 and is likely to have women bishops by 2014.

Thursday’s address by Mr Gamble was the first by a Methodist President to Synod since 1993. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, is due to address the Methodist Conference in June, while reports on the Covenant process will be made to both national assemblies next year.

But formal progress between merging the denominations is unlikely to take place until women bishops are introduced to the Church of England, in 2014 at the earliest.

The English Anglican Church hopes to continue the process with success. One Bishop is quoted: “We need to be very cautious with the institutional process. It’s vital that we don’t fail because we can’t afford to fail again.”

 He said the Methodist church’s decision was consistent with its “radical commitment” to the Christian mission.

Interestingly, the Episcopalians believe, as an Episcopal Priest says, “…in ‘con-substantiation,’ the presence of Christ with the elements. Very close to, if not aligned with the Lutheran teaching.” They remain in Communion with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America who defines Communion and its ceremony of Eucharist in this manner:

Lutherans use the term “sacrament” to describe two parts of Christian life and worship where an earthly element or sign is linked with God’s promise and Christ’s directive. The New Testament tells us that Jesus Christ commanded Baptism and Holy Communion. For Lutherans, these are rituals of worship but each also shapes broader understanding and daily living.

In the Sacrament of Holy Communion, after hearing and experiencing the good news of Jesus Christ in word, prayer and song, the community receives bread and wine. They experience the tangible presence of Christ by eating and drinking these elements.

The outward signs of the sacrament are simple earthly elements: bread and wine. Yet, together with the spoken promise of God these elements convey the presence of Jesus Christ to the assembly of believers. Martin Luther said that Jesus is present “in, with, and under” the bread and wine. We believe this because Jesus says it is so (Matthew 26:26-28, Mark 14:22-24, Luke 22:19-20) even when we cannot fully explain how it happens.

The “Christian Post” (Lillian Kwon) reports Methodists in the United States are now in full Communion with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America: “The new relationship between the two major Protestant denominations is not a merger but a recognition of each other’s ministry and mission. Full communion recognizes that each church has “the one, holy, catholic and apostolic faith” expressed in the Scriptures and confessed in historic creeds and the core teachings of each denomination.”

 Christianity in America is changing.





Images: (1) Church of Our Saviour (Episcopal), Mill Valley, California—San Francisco Bay Area. Photo: Rick White. (2) Communion table, Anglican. (3) Sculpture by Jonathan Clarke of “Christ Blessing the Children”. (4) Bishop Mark Hanson of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (left) and United Methodist Bishop William Oden sing a hymn during April 29 morning worship at the 2008 United Methodist General Conference in Fort Worth, Texas. Photo: UMNS / Mike DuBose.

Peter Menkin, an aspiring poet, lives in Mill Valley, CA USA (north of San Francisco). My blog:

Homily: A Great Preacher Of The Church, John Chrysostom By Peter Menkin

Homily: A Great Preacher Of The Church, John Chrysostom By Peter Menkin

“The Golden Mouth Chrysostom”

A great preacher of the Church
John Chrysostom

Peter Menkin, Obl Cam OSB

Church of Our Saviour (Episcopal)
Mill Valley, CA USA
January 27, 2010

Wednesday morning Eucharist

Lesser Feasts and Fasts, 1994

Jeremiah 1: 4-10
Luke 21: 12-15

Psalm 49: 1-8

In the name of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

The priestly office was defined in John Chrysostom’s “classic manual” as one of awesome demands. The priest, he wrote in his treatise, “Six Books on the Priesthood,” must be “dignified, but not haughty; awe-inspiring, but kind; affable in his authority; impartial, but courteous; humble, but not servile; strong but gentle…” Ordained a priest in a time when one needed to be at least 30 years old, John Chrysostom was a great saint of the Eastern Church.

In the year 407 he was Archbishop of Constantinople. He was born about 354 in Antioch, Syria and studied under the pagan Libanius who said of him on his deathbed, that John would have been his successor “if the Christians had not taken him from us.” Libanius was a great teacher of his time, and John a great student of Libanius’.

Chrysostom is English for the Greek expression, “Golden Mouth.” As a preacher, John is noted as one of history’s great ones.

One encyclopedia text says of him:

Over the course of twelve years, he gained popularity because of the eloquence of his public speaking, especially his insightful expositions of Bible passages and moral teaching. The most valuable of his works from this period are his Homilies on various books of the Bible. He emphasized charitable giving and was concerned with the spiritual and temporal needs of the poor. He also spoke out against abuse of wealth and personal property. He said:

Do you wish to honour the body of Christ? Do not ignore him when he is naked. Do not pay him homage in the temple clad in silk, only then to neglect him outside where he is cold and ill-clad. He who said: “This is my body” is the same who said: “You saw me hungry and you gave me no food”, and “Whatever you did to the least of my brothers you did also to me”… What good is it if the Eucharistic table is overloaded with golden chalices when your brother is dying of hunger? Start by satisfying his hunger and then with what is left you may adorn the altar as well.

His Homilies were straightforwardly given. He was not given to allegory. As an Archbishop he founded hospitals for the poor in Constantinople and said in this famous quote:

“In the matter of piety, poverty serves us better than wealth, and work better than idleness, especially since wealth becomes an obstacle even for those who do not devote themselves to it. Yet, when we must put aside our wrath, quench our envy, soften our anger, offer our prayers, and show a disposition which is reasonable, mild, kindly, and loving, how could poverty stand in our way? For we accomplish these things not by spending money but by making the correct choice. Almsgiving above all else requires money, but even this shines with a brighter luster when the alms are given from our poverty. The widow who paid in the two mites was poorer than any human, but she outdid them all.”


As a Homilist, the Archbishop believed the classic advantages of the homily were as the form of promised preaching used from the very beginning of Christianity. Simple and easily understood, the homily gives better opportunity for interweaving sacred scripture. So it is said. The early Mass is the best time for the homily, called the appropriate time, and it affords a less formal sermon than that of the principal Mass.

Not of a speculative mind, yet a fine theologian, John Chrysostom spoke the higher form of homily known as the fourth kind. The fourth kind is that which first paraphrases and explains the entire Gospel, and then makes an application of it.

Our reading from Jeremiah tells of the great orator the prophet Jeremiah was, and we attribute similarly to John Chrysostom:

Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth; and the Lord said to me,

“Now I have put my words in your mouth…

And in our Gospel it reads:

For I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict.


This homilist likes this quote from John Chrysostom’s homily “In Praise of Saint Paul:”

The most important thing of all to Paul, however, was that he knew himself to be loved by Christ. Enjoying this love, he considered himself happier than anyone else; were he without it, it would be no satisfaction to be the friend of principalities and powers. He preferred to be loved and be the least of all, or even to be among the damned, than be without that love and be among the great and honored.

John Chrysostom could almost be speaking of himself. And note, how straightforward the preacher John Chrysostom is in his remarks on Saint Paul.

Eloquent, yes. Here he gives the homily preached in Constantinople before he went into exile:

The waves have risen and the surging sea is dangerous, but we do not fear drowning for we stand upon the rock. Let the sea surge! It cannot destroy the rock. Let the waves rise! They cannot sink the boat of Jesus. Tell me, what are we to fear? Is it death? But “for me life is Christ, and death is gain.” So tell me, is it exile? “The earth is the Lord’s and all that it contains.” Is it the confiscation of property? “We brought nothing into the world and it is certain we can take nothing out of it.” I have nothing but contempt for the threats of this world; its treasures I ridicule. I am not afraid of poverty. I do not crave after wealth, I am not afraid of death, and I do not seek to live except to be of help to you. So I simply mention my present circumstances and call on you, my dear people, to remain steadfast in your love.

Eloquent, yes. Straightforward, yes.

Let us remember that John Chrysostom set about reforming the church and exposing corruption among the clergy and in the Imperial Administration. “Mules bear fortunes and Christ dies of hunger at your gate,” he is reputed to have cried out. His dying words were, when dying of exhaustion and starvation in September 407, “Glory be to God for everything.”

So we pray with John Chrysostom, and this Homily is a form of prayerful statement for it is “Glory be to God for everything.”

As our prayer book offers, let us end with “A Prayer of Saint Chrysostom:”

Almighty God, you have given us grace at this time with one accord to make our common supplication to you; and you have promised through your well-beloved Son that when two or three are gathered together in his Name you will be in the midst of them: Fulfill now, O Lord, our desires and petitions as may be best for us; granting us in this world knowledge of your truth, and in the age to come life everlasting. Amen.



Audio of Homily (live recording) as given in Church:


Peter Menkin, an aspiring poet, lives in Mill Valley, CA USA (north of San Francisco). My blog:

Christ’s Presence by Peter Menkin

Christ’s Presence by Peter Menkin

Poem about JO,
who passed away

The Redwoods is a retirement community located in Mill Valley, California USA and the result of efforts for the elderly by the local United Church of Christ (Community Church). For more than 6 years I’ve visited the elderly in their Health Care Unit, and I’ve been fulfilled numerous times in my volunteer work. This poem is really about a particular resident in her later years, about JO, who spoke with difficulty. Because her hearing was good, she let me do almost all the talking. Many times I read her the Psalms. I visited her from the time before this poem was drafted in 2004. She died before the poem was “completed” in 2008.

Christ’s Presence
by Peter Menkin

A vision of creation.
And a moment of God’s
need to have man. His ways
appeared to me when an old
woman ate soup.

She eats slowly this one time
and her arm brought the spoon
to her mouth with meek vigor.
So I saw that we pass away,
for she was many years old
and her arm proved she was
a creature of God. Dust to dust.

There is the breath of life,
that is in us like this woman.
An inner dwelling, spirit of the Lord.

Artist’s note and comment on the poem “Presence of Christ” as it appeared on the Academy of American Poets writers workshop ( ):
During the comments and suggestions made 2008 on the poem, this statement on the use of “Dust to dust” was made by me, Peter Menkin to another poet called “Gould.”

Many thanks for your remarks on my newly posted and recently revised poem, originally drafted 2004. I am concerned with the issue of what is cliche, and something like the statement “Dust to dust,” appears so familiar to us, its use Biblical and religious as so many know. But I believe that much of the Bible, both Old and New Testament is familiar and sometimes a cliche or considered tired.

In one manner, we seek a new way to communicate the religious and spiritual sensibilities and understandings of faith, especially when one is in the “business” of writing poetry that is considered “faith poetry.”

I think what speaks to one in the Bible, or in the religious and spiritual language of ones tradition and history as it is practiced, is fair and reasonable game for poetry, regardless of how familiar it may be to readers, or in its contemporary reading cliche like in its evocative imagery. I say this, with the understanding that in the religious life as it is reflected, and especially in the Biblical reflection of spiritual reality as it speaks to us as the word of God, that each of us needs to find our way. Selections and parts of the Biblical words do engage us as individual people and groups, denominations, more than others. I find this so. And so I reflect in my poetry this sensibility and searching for relationship with God as a living experience, in the Christ.

Recently, I’ve been watching YouTube talks by a Camaldoli, Benedictine Monk who is deceased, a holy man who spent his life in India, and a fulfilled man who reflects the way the Bible spoke to him. His name is Bede Griffiths, and perhaps you have heard of him. It is apparent in his talks caught and posted now on YouTube that he is a genuine man of God. In my poetry, I look to this genuine sense of what has meaning in the poem. Hopefully, in time, or even taken in my intended way, even a cliche like “Dust to dust” will be illuminated in a similar way of the genuine. This is a truth, I believe, or definition of one in the poetic way.

Here is a link to one of the Bede Griffiths’ talks, that last about 11 minutes each. Father Bede is a Christian, one must keep that in mind. He is also a Catholic Priest. So he speaks from that perspective.

With thanks for raising the issue concerning “Dust to dust.”
Yours truly,


Peter Menkin, an aspiring poet, lives in Mill Valley, CA USA (north of San Francisco).

My blog: