Friday, March 18, 2011

Music Again

When I began listening to a lot of music – in junior high , high school and especially college, vinyl records were the primary medium for listening. I remember looking forward to the semi-annual album sales at Target – when most all their records would go on sale for $5. I remember searching record bins at stores and the delight in finding some relatively rare album. Part of the joy of a record album was the interesting artwork on the album cover. Much of that was lost with CDs and is gone forever (almost) with the advent of electronic purchase of music through itunes and the like.

I still prefer CDs when I purchase music. I like the tangible feel of holding it in your hand. Yet, I have itunes on my computer and have enjoyed purchasing some music that way, too. What has been especially fun about itunes is the ability to purchase a song that comes to mind almost like a free association. I have not done this a whole lot, but I recently burned a CD of songs I have downloaded over the past couple of years. That they fit on a CD says that I really don’t buy a lot of music this way, though these are not the only songs I have downloaded. They are the more random songs that did not fit in some other CDs already burned.

Here’s the list with some memories attached. Maybe it will evoke some memories for you, especially, if you are old enough to remember vinyl records.

George Harrison, Crackerbox Palace. I bought a George Harrison best-of CD a year or so ago, and in a review I read about the songs it did not include, like Crackerbox Palace. Listening to the song I remember high school, and the song brings a smile.

Don Williams, Good Ole Boys Like Me. This song also came out when I was in high school. At that time, few self-respecting young people listened to country music, unlike today. Yet this song got airplay on Top 40 radio, and I couldn’t resist a song that refers to late night radio, Thomas Wolfe, Tennessee Williams and Hank Williams.

Charlie Rich, Behind Closed Doors and The Most Beautiful Girl in the World. These songs came out when I was in junior high. Charlie Rich was a country crossover. I liked the songs, and wasn’t even aware of all the kinds of things that might happen behind closed doors.

Cyndi Lauper, Time After Time. Cyndi Lauper was weird looking, but she could sing. This song came out in the early years of MTV, before I had cable. I was a youth pastor, and heard some of the youth in my group listening to it. One of the great things about being a youth pastor is the opportunity it affords to hear some new music. It’s not the primary thing about youth ministry, but it is a nice perk.

The Ronettes, Be My Baby. When I was in junior high, a guy named Scott Ross, a former New York disc jockey, had a fascinating radio show. He had become a Christian and he would play rock n roll records and weave in Christian faith themes. I read his autobiography and found he was married to one of the Ronettes. Anyway, this is a wonderful song, referred to later in an Eddie Money tune.

Albert Hammond, It Never Rains in California. Greenberg, a film with Ben Stiller, had this song in its soundtrack. I wondered if I had it anywhere on some CD compilation. I didn’t. I think it was another junior high song. I remember listening to the year-end top 100 songs on New Year’s day during these years. Casey Kasem. I am sure this was one song played on one of those shows.

The Brothers Johnson, Strawberry Letter 23. I think this was a college song. Probably danced to it sometime, and it’s still worth dancing to.

Anita O’ Day, My Ship (two versions): Miles Davis plays a beautiful version of this song on Miles Ahead, a great jazz album. Anita O’Day is one of my favorite jazz singers and when I read somewhere that she had recorded this song, I needed to hear it. I was not disappointed.

Andy Williams, Moon River. I am not sure what made me think of this song when I downloaded it. It reminds me of all the variety shows that were on television when I was growing up. I kind of miss Ed Sullivan.

Gerry Rafferty, Baker Street. Gerry Rafferty died recently, and this was a memorable song from my college years.

Rick Nelson, Garden Party. Another junior high hit, but with a wry take on the rock n roll scene of the day from a veteran of early rock n roll. It is a song about growing up and growing into being ok with who you are.

Smash Mouth, All Star. I think I heard this as my own children were beginning to discover music for themselves. It is a catchy song with an upbeat message. “Hey now, you’re an all-star, get your game on… Only shooting stars break the mold.”

Chris Isaac, Wicked Game. Another memorable song, though I am not sure just when I heard it or what made me think of it.

Lindsey Buckingham, Trouble. Fleetwood Mac was the band when I was in high school, enormously popular. Lindsay Buckingham was an important part of their popularity and then he had some solo success with this song. Catchy as can be.

With Faith and With Feathers,


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Moment of Grace

Are we healed, have we received healing forces, here and there from the power of the picture of Jesus as the Savior? Are we grasped by this power? Is it strong enough to overcome our neurotic trends, the rebellion of unconscious strivings, the split in our conscious being, the diseases which disintegrate our minds and destroy our bodies at the same time? Have we overcome in moments of grace the torturing anxiety in the depth of our hearts, the restlessness which never ceases moving and whipping us, the unordered desires and hidden repressions which return as poisonous hate, the hostility against ourselves and others, against life itself, the hidden will to death? Have we experienced now and then in moments of grace that we are made whole, that destructive spirits have left us, that psychic compulsions are dissolved, that tyrannical mechanisms in our soul are replaced by freedom: that despair, this most dangerous of all splits, this real sickness unto death, is healed and we are saved from self-destruction? Has this happened to us under the power of the picture of Jesus as the Savior? Paul Tillich, “On Healing” in The New Being, 44-45

A couple of weeks ago now, I was meeting with our Board of Ordained Ministry as we interviewed persons for ordination. We meet at a Catholic monastery and retreat center, and our evening worship is shared in their chapel.

This particular night, the following passage was read from Colossians: As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other, just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do , in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

As I listened to these words, I was looking up at a crucifix at the front of the chapel. The figure of Jesus grabbed my attention in a way that a crucifix never had before. There was Jesus, lightly clothed, yet clothed with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience and love. And there was this overwhelming feeling that I wanted to embrace this Jesus, to offer compassion. I could almost feel myself doing this, that I was helping carry Jesus. There was an oddly wonderful physical sense to all this, and theologically it made sense – in life I want to clothe myself with this Jesus and carry him into the world. It is not a solo act, but I have a role, a part.

Have we experienced now and then in moments of grace that we are made whole? Yes.

With Faith and With Feathers,