Of Minor Prophets And Their Prostitute Wives

Once again this blog title is the same as that of a song by David Bazan, from his ‘band’ Pedro The Lion.

All the time you were burning my letters
You were only acting the part
You think without me you’ll get on much better
But you don’t even know your own heart

Come home, darlin’
Come home quickly
Come home, darlin’
All is forgiven, so come home quickly

I treated you as if you were a princess
You treated me like a cop
I gave you boundaries to save you from certain death
Dangling from the end of the rope

Come home, darlin’
Come home quickly
Come home, darlin’
All is forgiven, so come home quickly

But you’re still playin’ for a love you’ll never find
Outside these arms of mine

The whole town is one step behind you
With the hang man on call
They’ve got the judge and you’re convicted without a plea
But darlin’, they will listen to me
Darlin’, they will listen to me
Darlin’, they will listen to me

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Secret of the Easy Yoke

The title of this blog post mirrors the title of its subject, namely a song by David Bazan, as performed by his ‘band’ Pedro The Lion. The lyrics are below, and you can hear it here:

I could hear the church bells ringing
They pealed aloud Your praise
The member’s faces were smiling
With their hands outstretched to shake
It’s true they did not move me
My heart was hard and tired
Their perfect fire annoyed me
I could not find You anywhere

Could someone please tell me the story
Of sinners ransomed from the fall
I still have never seen You
And some days I don’t love You at all

The devoted were wearing bracelets
To remind them why they came
Some concrete motivation
When the abstract could not do the same
But if all that’s left is duty
I’m falling on my sword
At least then I would not serve
An unseen, distant Lord

Could someone please tell me the story
Of sinners ransomed from the fall
I still have never seen You
And some days I don’t love You at all

If this is only a test
I hope that I’m passing
‘Cause I’m losing steam
But I still want to trust You

Peace, be still
Peace, be still
Peace, be still

 

Enriching Life

I want to challenge readers to step outside the box a bit – outside your comfort zone. You’ll never know what lies beyond your safe little bubble, until you do. Whatever that may mean for you, as it is likely different for everyone. I say this for my benefit too.

I’m not suggesting engaging in really risky things, necessarily. It could be something as simple as stepping outside your musical box, trying out some different music. Music is the universal language! It can build bridges.

I have a lot of music that I’ve acquired over the years. A LOT. Since my childhood, I’d try out different types of music – some I’d like right away, others would grow on me fairly quickly, and yet others would take years to appreciate, if at all. Yesterday evening, as it was cold here – too cold for me to want to venture out anywhere – I pulled out a cd I’d not listened to in a while. I knew I liked it, but, as I recalled, it wasn’t on my top tier. Well, I had a very delightful listening session! My opinion – or my recollection of my opinion – changed.

It was a disc by Brazilian Egberto Gismonti, titled Infância, which, in Portuguese means “childhood”. As I heard it afresh, and as I perceive the artist’s conception for the album, the music was intended to evoke the emotions of childhood and adolescence.

In any case, I was struck by a poem in the accompanying notes. I bought this particular album before my journey as a Christian began, so the poem would have meant little to me at that time; the message would have gone over my head. Not this time. It’s quite powerful poetry.

Appropriately, the poem was originally written in Portuguese, as that’s the primary language of Brazil. There’s an accompanying English translation; however, with my theological background and my rudimentary (very rudimentary) knowledge of Spanish, I had a feeling the translation didn’t quite capture the author’s intent. So, along with the aforementioned, as well as the limited help of Google Translate and other online sources, I translated the poem to English. If there are any readers who are well-versed in Portuguese, or who knows someone who is, I’d appreciate any correction or improvement (OK, I know of at least one reader who belongs in one or both these categories).

Without further ado, here is the poem in Portuguese and English:

Mensagem The Message
(by Fernando Pessoa)
O mytho é o nada que é tudo The myth is the nothing that is everything.
O mesmo sol que abre os céus The very Sun that opens the heavens
É um mytho brilhante e mudo – Is a myth brilliant yet muted –
O corpo morto de Deus, The dead body of God,
Vivo e desnudo. Alive and yet bare.
Este, que aqui aportou, He, who transmigrated here,
Foi por na͂o ser existindo, For He was – having not existed.
Sem existir nos bastou. His not existing was sufficient for us,
Por na͂o ter vindo foi vindo For having not yet come, He had come
E nos creou. And created us.
Assim a lenda se escorre Thus the legend descends,
A entrar na realidade, To enter into reality
E a fecundal-a decorre. And to duly enrich it.
Em baixo, a vida, metade The life below – half
De nada, morre. Is nothing, is dead.
Todo começo é  involuntario, Every beginning is involuntary,
Deus é o agente. God is the cause.
O heroe a si assiste, vario The Hero Himself witnesses, various types
E inconsciente Unaware
A espada em tuas ma͂os achada To the sword in your hands –
Teu olhar desce. Your gaze falls to it.
˵Que farei eu com esta espada?˶ What shall I do with this sword?
Ergueste-a, e fez-se You raised it, and it was done.
As naço͂es todas sa͂o mysterios. The nations are all mysteries.

Real Christmas Music

I’ve become increasingly weary of the ‘Christmas music’ barraging all of us during the “holiday season.” As part of my own personal revolt, I do my very best to steer clear of places playing songs about Santa Claus, reindeer, and Christmas trees, cringing when I’m forced to hear them. For me, they serve as reminders of the increasing commercialization and marginalizing of Christianity in general. Maybe I’m just getting old. OK, I am getting old.

As an alternative, I play more traditional Christmas music here at casa Craig.  Well, perhaps not exactly traditional. But it’s my tradition. I don’t have very much Christmas music, but at least I have some variety in what I do have.

charliebrownchristmas

A perennial favorite for years has been Vince Guaraldi’s A Charlie Brown Christmas.  Sure, it has a song about a Christmas tree (and one is prominently displayed on the album’s front cover), but the theme of Charles Schulz’ cartoon is that Christmas is much more than a silly tree.  Can one remain untouched by Linus’ declaration of Christmas’ true significance as he quotes from Luke 2, the birth of the Christ child? OK, I’ll also admit that I never tire of the song “Linus and Lucy”. And who can dislike “Skating”? Plus, I love the simplicity of the brief rendition of Beethoven’s “Fur Elise”.

faheychristmas

A relatively new acquisition – a used record I found somewhat recently – is John Fahey’s Guitar Soli Christmas Album, which features the guitarist playing traditional Christmas music (see here for track listing and review). The stripped down setting beats any of the over-produced music one typically hears blaring at the stores.

georgewinstondecember

Another perennial favorite is George Winston’s December, a solo piano outing, as is usual for this artist.  This recording contains appropriately themed music not typically heard during the season, such as “Jesus, Jesus Rest Your Head”.  It boasts a particularly lovely version of “The Holly and the Ivy.” Incidentally, Winston’s very first record was released on Fahey’s Takoma label.

Another record that gets spun on the turntable – yes, a turntable – is More Mistletoe Magic, a collection of various jazz artists on the then roster of Palo Alto Records, an outfitmoremistletoemagic lasting only five years, from 1980 to ’85. One cut features the infrequently recorded vocalist Sheila Jordan accompanied by acoustic bass (Harvie Swartz) on “God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman / We Three Kings”.  The disc only crosses over into the more commercial holiday fare on a couple songs.  But the good outweighs the not-so-good, and it’s splendidly recorded in glorious analogue (as opposed to digital). Plus, there are some unusual, jazzy arrangements.

Totally unrelated to Christmas but related to the theme of music in this post, I was dumbfounded yet overjoyed to receive the news (late, as usual for me) that Henry Threadgill won the Pulitzer Prize for music this year, with his In with a Penny, In with a Pound release.  The release features his collective Zooid – look up what that means, I had to.  The group consists of acoustic guitar, cello, tuba, drums and Threadgill’s alto sax or flute, hardly a standard configuration for a band – by any standard.

I have been listening to Threadgill’s very uncommercial jazz-related music for years, thus prompting my reaction. To add to my delight, I recalled that I have an autographed LP, released (and signed) in 2005, an edition limited to only 1000 copies.zooid At this time the Zooid combo was made up of acoustic guitar (same performer as above – Liberty Ellman), oud, cello, tuba, drums (same as above – Elliot Humberto Kavee), and the leader/composer.

It’s been a very strange and disappointing year in myriad ways, but this was one bright spot.  May next year be more luminous.

Happy Thanksgiving 2015!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today North Americans will be celebrating Thanksgiving. It is a day to give thanks to God for His provision. It is a day in which many will overindulge, eating too much food.

Yet, we must remember that there are those here who struggle to have adequate nourishment. Let’s pray for them. We must also remember those who, through various circumstances, are spending this holiday alone, isolated. Let’s pray for them, as well. Better yet, let’s find a way to reach these people. I’m sure some of you already have. And not just today, but each time the opportunity arises.

There is much to be thankful for:

Family – warts and all.

Friends, both old and new.

Health.

Pets.

As for myself and fellow Americans, our country, in which we enjoy relative prosperity and freedom.

Though storms, sometimes tempestuous, besiege us at times, they all eventually subside. These trials and tribulations help us to really appreciate the more sunny times. I especially like this quote: “Light is only precious during dark intervals.”1 When the skies are cloudless and blue we tend to take sunlight for granted. But, oh, in the midst of a storm, a glimmer of light can be worth all the treasures of the cosmos! Thankfully, in life there’s much more sun than storm.

Thank God for the gift of life – our temporal, finite existence, with its peaks, valleys and inbetweens. And thanks to the Father for sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to provide the opportunity for eternal life, in which the light is always shining.

__________________________

1 This partial quote is found, uncredited, on the back cover of Keith Jarrett’s album Dark Intervals (ECM Records, ECM 1379, 1988). It may well be Jarrett’s. The full quote is: “TOUCH IS ONLY POSSIBLE AT THE EDGE OF SPACES. LIGHT IS ONLY PRECIOUS DURING DARK INTERVALS.”

USAF Band Performs Christian-Themed Christmas Music at Museum

Saw this at David Alan Black’s Blog and had to repost. This video is from a 2013 “flash mob” at the National Air and Space Museum. The USAF band (and chorale) performs a medley of Bach’s “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” and “Joy to the World.”

Amen!

Joyfully Giving in Service to the Saints and the Lord Jesus Christ

This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else (2 Corinthians 9:12-13, NIV 1984).

In his second letter written to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul lays out the ideals for New Testament giving. Paul commended the Macedonians for providing aid to other needy saints out of their poverty (2 Corinthians 8:1-5), yet he advocated a balance in giving, towards equality among the saints:

Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, as it is written: “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little” (2 Corinthians 8:13-15, NIV 1984; with Paul quoting Exodus 16:18).

Currently a brother and sister in Christ (husband and wife) are in need of assistance – and prayer.  Without going into too much detail, they left a secure job many years ago in obedience to the call of Christ, and after 15 years of service the husband fell ill to what has been diagnosed as congestive heart failure. Two years ago their ministry was forced to close down due to financial difficulties, leaving a rather substantial debt. Most of this debt has been satisfied, due in large part to generous donations from their brothers and sisters in Christ.   Approximately $10,000 (including legal fees) is currently outstanding, and this balance must be paid in full by September 17th or serious legal consequences will result. They are working as hard as possible but cannot possibly meet this financial need on their income alone.

Will you, dear readers, assist your brother and sister in Christ? The CrossWise blog currently has 290 subscribers. If we average about $30 per donation, the need will be met. But, no amount is too small, and we needn’t limit this to blog subscribers. Will you pass this on to other saints you know?

When Jesus returns in His full, Kingly glory, He will separate the sheep from the goats. Of the sheep He will say:

. . . I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited Me in, I needed clothes and you clothed Me, I was sick and you looked after Me, I was in prison and you came to visit Me’ (Matthew 25:35-36, NIV).

Then the sheep will, in turn, ask Jesus Christ the King:

‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink? When did we see You a stranger and invite You in, or needing clothes and clothe You? When did we see You sick or in prison and go to visit You?’ (Matthew 25:37-39, NIV)

In reply, the King will say, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of Mine, you did for Me (Matthew 25:40, NIV).

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