28 February 2008
Also, here's a link to an interview with Richard Land, one the big head honcho guys at the Southern Baptist Convention telling us that its not that he's against taking care of the poor necessarily, its just that hating gay people is clearly more important (whoops, sorry, that's not what he said...just what he meant). He did say that he doesn't believe that young evangelical voters will vote for a president that isn't pro-life. On that one thing, Mr. Land and I agree. What we don't agree on is the definition of pro-life. By what he writes and speaks about, Mr. Land does not seem like he is pro-life; he is definitely anti-abortion, but if he were pro-life wouldn't he care more about the poor, about AIDs, and about torture, and not just about gay marriage and abortion? Nah, pro-life doesn't mean that you're actually for all life does it? Maybe we should change the title to pro-politically-expedient-non-gay-non-poor-non-Muslim-life. But, what the hell, at least he's not preaching against dancing and playing cards.
27 February 2008
Here is an article about him on open source theology.
Here is an article about him from the Canadian Press.
Here is his official website, chronicling his last words.
26 February 2008
Here it is: Beowulf and Godsylla
Of course, Eduard Sievers would be turning in his grave, because as fine as this little poem is, it does not follow the dictates of Germanic Alliterative Verse! Travesty!
Also, here is a very interesting article about J.S. Bach, if you're interested.
At land, at sea, at home, abroad; I smoke my pipe, and worship God. -J.S. Bach
25 February 2008
If you hate thoughts-in-process; words and phrases well one their way to becoming full-fledged ideas, but aren't quite there yet; don't read this.
There is an interesting article, here, that discusses a recent accusation leveled against some environmentalists, that they are like the "Luddites" of 19th century Britain. Regardless of the true nature of Luddites (which the article discusses), today the term is applied to those who are distrustful of technology. The article discusses how wanting to save the environment does not necessarily evince wanting to rid the planet of technology. It talks about the real Luddites, and how the people who do advocate living a life less encumbered by technology are simply nostalgic for a different time, or they are trying to force some moral agenda on people (i.e. deep ecologists, militant vegans, etc.).
This got me thinking about the connection between the desire to live a simple life (and I assure you, absolutely no Paris Hilton connotations intended), and being nostalgic. In a previous post I discussed how I liked music that made me feel nostalgic for different time. I think that nostalgia is one of the defining characteristics of my personality. What connection, if any, does that have with another desire to live a simple life? I Thessalonians 4 talks about living a quiet life, minding your own business, and working with your hands as a Christian ideal. I think that it that type of hybrid nostalgia/desire for a simple life that attracts me to things like G.K. Chesterton's distributivism, to growing a garden and (theoretically) riding a bicycle; to music like Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie; to collecting typewriters and old crap; to enjoying the literature of Steinbeck (Travels with Charley is the Bible of Nostalgia); to identifying with one of Isaac Asimov's characters in The Caves of Steel, who, living thousands of years from Asimov's day, is known as a "medievalist" because he prefers wearing glasses to having his vision corrected. So, am I a Luddite? I think the existence of this blog answers that question. Am I nostalgic for a simpler time? Aren't we all? Is this in some way connected for our hope in Christ's return and the final, unequivocal establishment of the Kingdom of God? Is being nostalgic for things past (which probably never existed anyway) a way of looking to the future? Well…I better stop before someone accuses me of being a pothead.
But lest you think I've stopped being a hippie: FIFTY POSSIBLE WAYS TO CHALLENGE OVER-COMMERCIALISM by Al Fritsch, S.J.
20 February 2008
The sad fact that has been hidden from me for many years by my education (thank you Ace Virtueson) is that America has always required some group of people to hate. Yes, a simple fact, obvious to most people, but it has really hit me hard today. Today I learned about the 120,000 Japanese people (70,000 of which were full-fledged, flag-waving, card-carrying American citizens) which were "interred" for up to 2 years starting the day after Pearl Harbor in 1941 for absolutely no reason. What a monstrous blot on history. Is too ugly to tell children? Is that why Christian education makes absolutely no mention of it?!? I have long felt hurt by what I feel like was an education that was extremely misleading when it came to two areas especially: science (you mean to say that the earth isn't 6,000 years old?), and history (sample history lesson: Americans are God's chosen race, the New Israel; God blesses us more than other countries; until 1962 when the Supreme Court banned prayer in school, our country was perfect [oh slavery, slavery wasn't that bad]).
I am coming to realize that our country (and probably all countries) has always had a certain group of people to hate. The list is long and in some cases it overlaps, but there has never been a time in our country where equity and justice for all has even been remotely considered. Here's a list of people that at various times (including now) it has been ok for the U.S. to hate:
1. Native Americans (starting with Columbus and continuing, with varrying levels of intensity to present day).
2. African Americans (starting with the inception of our country and continuing, with varrying levels of intensity to present day).
3. Chinese (Google: American Anti-Chinese League, 1800s)
4. Japanese (WWII)
5. African Americans (they get mentioned again with emphasis on the Civil Rights movement on the 60s).
6. Communists (post- WWII, cold war era) especially but not limited to: Russians, Chinese, and Cubans
7. Muslims (post 9-11)
8. Undocumented immigrants especially but not limited to Mexicans.
ALL of the above groups, and I'm sure I'm missing several, have experienced and many of them are experiencing HATRED at the hands of Americans.
Why? The only answer I can think of is that Hate is the logical outcome of Fear and Fear is the most powerful leverage a government has over its people. Now were there members of each of those people groups who in some way, real or imagined, threatened our country? Absolutely. So, then aren't Americans justified in their hatred? Well, maybe so, maybe that's just how the world is. You hate those who hate you. You hate those who in some way, real or imagined, have harmed you, and your afraid of those who are of the same religion, or color as those people who have harmed you, so you hate them, too. Just the way it works...unless you happen to be a Christian. Christians are not allowed to hate. Christians LOVE their ENEMIES. NO EXECEPTIONS. The Church in America needs to wake up (I believe this beginning to happen), and realize that we have made our country into an idol. America is not godly, and never has been. Hatred, pride, and greed are the three least godly things I can think of, and they are sins that we all as individuals, but also we as a people group, country, ethnicity have been guilty of collectively. Where is the Justice of God? When will He stand up for the poor and vindicate the oppressed? I will be afraid for my country on that day.
21 "I hate, I despise your religious feasts; I cannot stand your assemblies.
22 Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them.
23 Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps.
24 But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!
17 February 2008
The Varieties of Musical Experiences
1. There are those who define musical goodness purely in terms of technical perfection. To these people, music is only music when it is executed with polish, clarity, and pitch-perfect sound, otherwise it is simply noise.
2. To others, music is only good in relation to its context. These are the people who need the “perfect” song for the moment, for the mood, for the zeitgeist. The people whose favorite song is only their favorite because hearing it reminds them of a certain time, and that song encapsulates their experience. For these people, only a song’s context can determine its goodness.
3. To some, music must be a human enterprise, and appeal to human emotions and instincts. These people feel that sometimes music is “fake” because it relies too much on instruments and machines and computers, and not enough of real, living-breathing human beings. They tend to want music raw, uninterpreted, and unproduced.
These are broad categories, and most people fall somewhere in the borderlands between these. As for me, I am mainly a #3 man. Yes, I appreciate to a degree category #1. There is no musical experience like hearing the Chaconne of Bach’s Solo violin partita No. 2 flawlessly executed by a virtuoso performer. Unfortunately, there are extremely few musicians who can actually manage perfection sometimes, and no body can manage it all the time. Why then, you ask, is there so much “flawless” music out there? It is because it is the product of computers, sound boards, and an army of talented producers who take the musicians less-than-perfect output and polishes it until it loses its soul. Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about. The vast majority of big name pop stars would be flipping burgers today if it were not for slick producers and their incredible technology. I’ve seen the recording process. A talented producer can take three, disjointed bars played on an out-of-tune guitar, an off-key singer, and a drum machine and make into a billboard top-40 love ballad. Many people either do not know or care about where the song came from so this does not bother them.
But I’m a #3 man. I want to connect to a song. I want the song to wrench me; I want it to make me nostalgic for things I’ve never even experienced. And that’s the crux of the matter. The songs that tend to grab my emotional and spiritual attention are those that are guttural, fierce, raw, and brutal. I want music so deeply felt, so primal that you see a musician grow older and wither as he plays it on the stage. Yet, somehow, and this is paradox that I think may be at the core of all beauty, the music must also manage to be lyrical, idyllic.
Thematically speaking, I want to hear music about wandering, about uncertainty and hope (there’s that fundamental paradox, again). I want outlaw music. I want to hear music about trains, and traveling, about heartache, about times gone by. This is because, whether it is a figment of my imagination or not, these things seem more real to me. That is why I love Bob Dylan, though his voice be ragged. Though he never sings a song the same way twice, though his diction is difficult and he unpredictable so as to be a duetist’s nightmare: he is nothing if not real. He is Leadbelly, Robert Johnson, the Blind Reverend Gary Davis, Mississippi John Hurt. He is the drunkard, the saint, the troubled artist, the quintessential vagabond; riding boxcars, drinking sterno, saying things only prophets say, and caring not for the world; always shifting, changing, reinventing, yet transcendent; possibly the most paradoxical public figure to ever live. That is Bob Dylan.
And so, I propose a musical education a la youtube. Open your mind to the genius that is Bob.
Here's a one of his most famous songs, as he performed it for Pope John Paul II in 1997. By the way, what other musician, besides Bono, do you know who got invited to play for the Pope?
I just hope good old JP 2 didn't think Bob was accusing him of knocking on heaven's door.
Many complain about Bob's voice. They wander if he just smoked too many Camels. Here's a clip of Bob doing something a little different with his voice, and singing a duet with Johnny Cash. Pure vocal poetry; but he does have demon eyes.
Here is Bob performing with Paul Simon (another one of the world's greatest musicians). Watch it at least until the harmonica solo, for it may be the greatest harmonica that has ever been laid down.
As just illustrated in the last video, not only can Bob sing, write songs, and play the harmonica, but he can also dance. Here's another Johnny Cash song where Bob lays down some moves. What a great train song!!
Believe it or not, the most controversial thing about Bob's career was when he reinvented himself in the later part of the 60s, he went from singing acoustic folk songs to mainly electric guitar songs. However, the transendent quality, the guenuine, raw emotion of his music carried over. Let me illustrate with two versions of the same song. The first from the 60s (pre-electric, but the video is a corny photo-montage), the second from a recent (200) concert.
Ok, that was really good. But give this a chance.
Finally, two versions of what could be my favorite song (though its so hard to pick). One is with Eric Clapton (the Titans of Rock together on one stage!), the other is during the early 90s during Bob's "fat" stage. He is clearly drunk, he tells a ridiculous story in the beginning, his guitar playing is off, and yet, yet, he is real. So real. What can I say?
And, if you're still not convinced, well, don't think twice. It's alright.
16 February 2008
15 February 2008
London Times Online
In other book news, I've begun reading Godel, Escher, Bach; an incredible book, even though my 1983 copy (exactly as old as I am) has completely fallen apart.
Here is a list of the ten best bookstores in the world: Book porn.
I have long said that if I became the fascist dictator of Albuquerque, I would outlaw all trucks within city limits unless the driver got a special agricultural permit. As my wife, who is many times a prophetic voice in my life, keeps on telling me, I need to get over my prejudice. For one thing, I know alot of really great people who drive trucks.
The problem with fascist dictators is...well...they're fascists. They try to impose their personal beliefs (usually hate-filled) on everyone. Hitler, Franco and Mussolini all started out pushing a "moral" agenda (they used the term loosely), and ended up willingly destroying human life in order to inforce that agenda. This is obviously wrong. It would even be wrong if their morality was truly moral. It would be wrong for me to impose my anti-truck legislation, not because I am wrong about trucks, but because it is wrong to politically impose your morality on people, no matter how correct your morality may or may not (Hucka)be.
06 February 2008
1. pre-tribulation-rapture-pre-millenialist-dispensationalism has led to an irrational and immoral support of the nation of Israel by the United States.
2. pre-tribulation-rapture-pre-millenialist-dispensationalism has led to widely held misconceptions about end-times, bible prophesy, and the nature of the Kingdom of God, which has flawed the way people interpret history, current events, and most importantly Scripture.
3. pre-tribulation-rapture-pre-millenialist-dispensationalism fosters/grows out of a gross misunderstanding of the purpose and program of biblical prophesy, which can be easily illustrated by a recent informal poll of about 120 9th graders and a Christian school. Everyone of them agreed with this statement: "The primary role of a prophet in the Bible was to fortell the future." Does the church train its young people to think that Ezekiel and Jeremiah were nothing but glorified psychics!?!? Sadly, I think the answer is yes.
More on this later, I must go and eat at Il Viccino with my wife.