August 25, 2013


While preparing dinner tonight, I was listening to the broadcast of the Pirates-Giants game on the radio. For much of the game, the score was 1-0, described as “one-nothing” by the play-by-play announcer.

The score led me to a thought I had not had before, namely, that the use of “nothing” in this context is odd. “Nothing” is usually an answer to the question “how much?” rather than “how many?” But runs in a baseball game come in discrete units. Were we to ask how many runs the Pirates had scored, “nothing” would be an odd answer.

In place of “nothing,” there are more logical alternatives: “zero,” “nil,” “oh,” “zip,” or “love.” Of course, the convention of using “nothing” is well-established. I wonder how this came to be.

August 23, 2013

St. Paul’s to Be Movie Location

The Fault in Our Stars book cover
I received a surprising e-mail message yesterday from my church, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Mt. Lebanon, Pa. The subject line read “Exciting News.” The rector wrote
I am writing to share exciting news. The Vestry has agreed to allow 20th Century Fox to film scenes of a major motion picture at St. Paul’s in September and early October. The movie, to be released in 2015, is called The Fault in Our Stars, and is based on a novel by the same title. The book is by noted young adult fiction author John Green, and has been on the New York Times best seller list for 36 weeks since being published in January, 2012, as are two of his other books. The story, primarily involving two teenagers who meet at a cancer support group for teens held in a church, is wholesome and should present St. Paul's in a favorable light.

Filming is scheduled to take place here on Monday, September 9 in the parking lot, and again at the end of the month and early October at the back of the parish hall, second floor hallway, a bathroom, and the main worship space. There will be equipment in the parking lot (to be removed for Sunday September 29), and the back of the hall will not be available to us for several days. While we will be compensated by Fox for the use of our facility, we believe the main benefit to St. Paul’s will be the buzz generated when it becomes known that this very popular novel for teens and adults is being filmed here, and later when we are seen in what could be a very successful movie.

Please let me or any member of the Vestry know if you have any questions or concerns.

Apparently, the location manager came to St. Paul’s with a proposal to use the church. I have no idea how he found the church. The Fault in Our Stars has been popular, though it had escaped my notice. If it escaped yours as well, the Wikipedia article can fill you in. A little information about the movie can be found here and here.

August 14, 2013

Keuka Spring Vineyards 2012 Riesling Wins Governor’s Cup

I got a call from my son, Geoffrey August Deimel, around noon yesterday. He wanted to tell me that he had just learned that one of his wines, Keuka Spring Vineyards 2012 Riesling had won the Governor’s Cup, an award for the best wine made in New York in 2012. Moreover, the award was to be presented in the evening in Watkins Glen by Governor Cuomo himself.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo presents Governor’s Cup to Keuka Spring Vineyards owners Len and Judy
Wiltberger. Keuka Spring winemaker August Deimel is at the right. in this August 13, 2013, photo.
The Keuka Spring Riesling was also declared Best White Wine, Best Medium Dry Riesling, and Best Overall Riesling. Keuka Spring wines were also given awards for Best Gewürztraminer and Best Limited Production Wine (for Keuka Spring Vineyards Dry Rosé).

Details of the competition and the tour of the governor to the Finger Lakes can be found here, here, and here. The winery’s Web site is here, and its Facebook page is here. If you’re visiting the Finger Lakes, be sure to stop by the Keuka Spring Vineyards tasting room on Keuka Lake near Penn Yan, New York.

August 6, 2013

A View of the Sexuality Dialogue

I received an e-mail message the other day from  Jason Togyer, a parishioner at St. Stephen’s McKeesport. Jason had participated in one of the sexuality dialogues over the weekend and was eager to share this thoughts about the experience. We later had a long telephone conversation, and Jason subsequently sent me the reflection below, which largely repeats what he said over the telephone.

I think it fair to say that both Jason and I feel that our diocese has been inwardly focused for far too long. It is time to join the Episcopal Church mainstream and to begin focusing on the world beyond the parish doors.
I cannot say if Jason’s take on participating in the diocese’s sexuality dialogue is typical, but it may be. It is certainly similar to my own reaction to the experience.
I recently had the honor of participating in one of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh’s “dialogues on human sexuality.”

I went with some trepidation; I shouldn’t have worried. The discussion was free, friendly, and frank—with the only exception being that the tight format of these dialogues, at times, threatened to prevent a real exchange of ideas. More on that in a moment.

All participants in the dialogues are asked to agree to a confidentiality agreement about what was said by other people, and I think it’s important to uphold it. So I won’t quote any specifics, and I’ll try not to put words into anyone else’s mouth.

I can speak only for myself, and I came away with a feeling that all of us in the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh—conservative, liberal, somewhere in between—have a sincere interest in holding the diocese together and seeing it grow again.

I also came away with a feeling that—at least among the people in our session—we all want the diocese to come to some resolution, both on the issue of same-sex blessings and ordaining priests with same-sex partners, and then we want to move on!

I sensed that we are all tired of directing our energies inward, against one another, and that we would all like to turn to more positive work, out in the community. (I count myself among the progressives. I feel the Episcopal Church has a great message of inclusiveness—so why are we apologizing for that? It’s time for us to stop acting so defensive about wanting all people—straight, gay, bi, transgender—to come together to worship. But I digress.)

About the format: The sessions are highly structured—to keep any one person from dominating a session, to allow everyone a chance to speak, and to keep things moving. Depending on the question, respondents are allowed two or three minutes to answer. I felt like I was on a game show, and a few times, it seemed like a participant ran out of time while just getting to the most important point.

Even among those who are opposed to recognition of same-sex marriages, I sensed a reluctant acceptance that society at large has accepted same-sex partnerships as a fact of life, and that trying to oppose the growing consensus on this issue is—in the words of William F. Buckley, Jr.—like standing athwart history, yelling, “Stop!”

I also detected a weariness among the participants about re-hashing the issue again. I sensed that all of us are aching for some leadership.

Given the recent turmoil in the Diocese of Pittsburgh, there is an understandable fear about even discussing the issue of same-sex relationships—it’s treated like an “elephant in the room” that everyone is desperately is trying to ignore.

Rather than an elephant, I would say the Diocese of Pittsburgh’s recent turmoil is more like an old wound that’s been hidden by a bandage. Now we’re all afraid to remove the bandage and peek underneath.

We might look under the bandage and find that this wound is still festering and has become worse than ever. On the other hand, we might peel it off and find the wound has healed.

Either way, we’re never going to know until we look, and my gut feeling—after participating in this session—is that, while the wounds have left scars, the scars have healed.