Words of the Year, including anti-masker, asymptomatic, asynchronous, coronavirus pandemic, doomscrolling, fraud, mostly peaceful, mute, QAnon, remote, social distancing, superspreader event, the Great Equalizer, unprecedented, well, Zoom.
Jaquandor, as is his tradition, was playing his Your Daily Dose of Christmas. One post highlighted the oratorio L’Enfance du Christ by Hector Berlioz. I had not heard that work.
Well, there is one exception. The Shepherd’s Farewell is one of my all-time favorite pieces of music. And the best moment is when the soprano note remains on the same note, but the rest of the chord below it changes, at about 1:00, 2:20, and 3:45 here. I find it utterly exquisite. Does that have a musical name?
As it turns out, it does. “That is called an ‘inverse pedal point’! A pedal point happens when the bass tone holds while everything above it shifts; an inversion occurs when the same thing is done with a voice other than the bass. Music! :)”
Now, I was familiar with the pedal point, even if I didn’t know what it was called. Singing bass in a church choir, we often sustained our notes while the other sections moved. This guy can explain better than I.
And here are some examples. It appears Jump by Van Halen is a popular choice. As I suspected, the drone of the bagpipe is a pedal point.
“When a pedal point occurs in a voice other than the bass, it is usually referred to as an inverted pedal point. Pedal points are usually on either the tonic or the dominant (fifth note of the scale) tones.” Think of the version of Hurt by Johnny Cash, starting at 0:52.
Final cadences, such as the Amen at the end of a church hymn, often involve the sopranos singing the tonic note twice, while the other parts move. Listen to the Barber Adagio for Strings, specifically around 5:30, and in general about 2/3s of the way through a recording. It ALWAYS devastates me.
Another favorite piece of music with a pedal point is the Raindrop Prelude, Op.28 No.15 by Chopin. This video is useful because it comes with a score. As Paul Barton plays the FEURICH piano, note that there’s a pedal point almost from the very beginning in the bass line. But notice how, at 2 minutes in, at the key change, the continual note is now at the top, first in the bass clef, then the treble. Then the repeated note is somewhere in the middle before the piece reverts to the original key.
If you want to play music at my funeral, I’d suggest the Barber adagio or Raindrop Prelude by Chopin. Or preferably both, though I probably won’t have much of a say in the decision.
When Peace Becomes Obnoxious was a sermon delivered on 18 March 1956 at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church by Martin Luther King, Jr. This is roughly the second half.
“In a very profound passage which has been often misunderstood, Jesus utters this: He says, ‘Think not that I am come to bring peace. I come not to bring peace but a sword.’ Certainly, He is not saying that He comes not to bring peace in the higher sense. What He is saying is: ‘I come not to bring this peace of escapism, this peace that fails to confront the real issues of life, the peace that makes for stagnant complacency.’
“Then He says, ‘I come to bring a sword’ not a physical sword. Whenever I come, a conflict is precipitated between the old and the new, between justice and injustice, between the forces of light and the forces of darkness. I come to declare war over injustice. I come to declare war on evil. Peace is not merely the absence of some negative force—war, tension, confusion, but it is the presence of some positive force—justice, goodwill, the power of the kingdom of God.
“I had a long talk with a man the other day about this bus situation [the Montgomery boycott]. He discussed the peace being destroyed in the community, the destroying of good race relations. I agree that it is more tension now. But peace is not merely the absence of this tension, but the presence of justice. And even if we didn’t have this tension, we still wouldn’t have positive peace. Yes, it is true that if the Negro accepts his place, accepts exploitation and injustice, there will be peace. But it would be a peace boiled down to stagnant complacency, deadening passivity, and if peace means this, I don’t want peace.
1) If peace means accepting second-class citizenship, I don’t want it.
2) If peace means keeping my mouth shut in the midst of injustice and evil, I don’t want it.
3) If peace means being complacently adjusted to a deadening status quo, I don’t want peace.
4) If peace means a willingness to be exploited economically, dominated politically, humiliated, and segregated, I don’t want peace. So in a passive, non-violent manner, we must revolt against this peace.
“Jesus says in substance, I will not be content until justice, goodwill, brotherhood, love, yes, the Kingdom of God are established upon the earth. This is real peace–a peace embodied with the presence of positive good. The inner peace that comes as a result of doing God’s will.”
Part of the problem
My blogger buddy Thom Wade wrote this some months ago, after George Floyd’s death: “It is frustrating to watch fellow white people constantly appeal to MLK while using the very arguments used to condemn him to condemn protesters today. I remember how some folks responded to non-violent protests just a few years ago. It was not good enough. Some people in my own friend and family sphere posted disdain for athletes peacefully kneeling. No form of protest was appropriate or good enough.
“When MLK was marching peacefully, he was met with gas and beatings. He was ultimately murdered. And you are going to complain NOW? When you would not listen before? When no protest was good enough for you? You are part of the problem. Crying out for peace when peace was not good enough over the past several years? I look at this city and my heart breaks. Mainly because people want to decry the results of their unwillingness to face the problem.”
A Mark Evanier tweet this Monday: “Sometimes, it’s great to turn on the TV and see a rerun you enjoyed before. I just turned to CSPAN and it’s the ‘Democrats impeach Donald Trump’ episode. Almost as timeless as Lucy and Ethel working in the candy factory…
The House of Representatives impeached djt again. IMPOTUS squared. I’m of two minds on this. As Congressman Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) said, “I don’t think is the smart move” because it lets IMPOTUS play the victim.
On the other hand, as Kinzinger also noted, “There is no doubt in my mind that [he] broke his oath of office and incited this insurrection. He used his position in the Executive to attack the Legislative.
“So in assessing the articles of impeachment brought before the House, I must consider: if these actions—the Article II branch inciting a deadly insurrection against the Article I branch—are not worthy of impeachment, then what is an impeachable offense?”
When djt was impeached the LAST time, I thought it was justifiable. But I felt that Ukrainian stuff was too arcane for the general public to understand. I wish the House had tacked on an article regarding the emoluments clause, how he and his family were lining their pockets.
I knew that Mike Pence would refuse to invoke the 25th Amendment. “In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Pence said he didn’t think it would be ‘in the best interest of our Nation or consistent with our Constitution.'” One can argue about the former, but “if these actions… are not worthy,” then what is? His boss ACTUALLY shooting someone on Fifth Avenue?
In fact, I thought djt’s constant shuffling of his Cabinet, with many of them in “acting” roles, was a strategy to insulate himself from being dumped by A25. Then when Betsy DeVos and Elaine Chao, two of the four original appointees left, quit, it was probably a lost cause. (Can Acting Secretaries participate? I dunno.)
Mitch McConnell reportedly believes impeachable acts took place— “And Aims To ‘Purge’ Him.” Of course, “it should never be forgotten that the Senate majority leader is the spawn of Satan.”
What a Cluster…
You know you’ve screwed up when all four of the living presidents— Carter, Clinton, GW Bush, and Obama– called out IMPOTUS2 and his party for inciting the rioters.
Bill Clinton: “The assault was fueled by more than four years of poison politics spreading deliberate misinformation, sowing distrust in our system, and pitting Americans against one another…
“The match was lit by Donald Trump and his most ardent enablers, including many in Congress, to overturn the results of an election he lost. The election was free, the count was fair, the result was final. We must complete the peaceful transfer of power our Constitution mandates.”
New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick has decided NOT to travel to the White House today and receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
There’s a conservative influencer named Tomi Lahren. I know who she is because she appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart shortly before he left the program.
She had a post on Nov 3, 2020. “If @realDonaldTrump were to lose (he won’t) his supporters will go to work tomorrow just as we do everyday. When Biden loses, his ‘supporters’ will likely loot and riot. Tells you everything you need to know! #Trump2020”. Her skills as a prognosticator need work.
I feel SO much worse now than I did on January 6. U.S. Capitol Police in shambles after the attack, undermined from within. The FBI Ignored Its Own Report Warning of ‘War’ on Capitol – Details Included MAGA Had Maps of Congressional Tunnels. Threats to ‘Storm the Capitol’ were public. Why did the police let it happen anyway?
Worse, Congressperson Mikie Sherrill says unidentified lawmakers led ‘reconnaissance’ tours ahead of the Capitol attack. There are members of Congress who bear responsibility. Republicans tried to blame the insurrection on ‘Antifa,’ “but they own every ounce of this treason.”
A very small start: Simon and Schuster canceled the book contract of Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), one of the instigators of challenging the electoral votes. He whined he was a victim of “cancel culture.” The publisher has committed a “direct assault on the First Amendment,” he insists. The constitutional lawyer was lying. He knows a private publishing company is not required to publish anything.
Evangelicals should examine how they may have helped fuel the deadly siege, Ed Stetzer, head of the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College, told NPR in an interview published on Wednesday.
It Ain’t Over
“Trump: Nothing is my fault. Ever.” This is the headline in a lengthy Boston Globe piece by Teresa Hanafin. Like his “perfect” call to the Ukrainian president.
“Are we witnessing the breakdown of civil society?
“That’s what former DHS official Christopher Krebs thinks. (He’s the former director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency who Trump fired because he said there was no election fraud.) Krebs told CNN that the disinformation about the election spread by Trump “created a tinderbox.”
“We are on the verge of what I fear to be a pretty significant breakdown in democracy and civil society here,” he said. He called on law enforcement to forcefully quell the current insurrection, and in the next couple of years, for all Americans with a brain (my words) to “chip away at the disinformation, propaganda, and lies that motivate and incite these insurrectionists.”
“Think he’s exaggerating? The FBI issued a bulletin to its field offices warning that Trump Terrorists are planning armed protests at all 50 state capitols and at the US Capitol — site of last week’s insurrection — starting as soon as this weekend and continuing to Inauguration Day next Wednesday.”
Check out How To Quell A Domestic Insurgency is the January 13, 2021 segment of On Point. (ht/ADD) Also, the statement by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
I have long had this peculiar ambivalence about the idea of home. It started as a kid. Our dwelling seemed so small, the first floor of a two-story house.
I seldom had my friends over, though I’d go to several of their homes. My bedroom was carved out of the dining room with two walls my father built. When we visited my mother’s first cousins in St. Albans, Queens, NYC, their house seemed like a mansion.
But that wasn’t it, really. My grandma Williams house was hardly roomy. Yet it was the headquarters where her family would congregate. Based on photographs, this was the case for a number of generations.
It may be that my father and mother didn’t own our house, grandma Williams did. And while this didn’t faze me, I think it ate at my father. Why didn’t he buy a house? Was it that he was shut out of the GI Bill’s provisions, as many black veterans were? Could he not find a house to buy in Binghamton?
I have since found out my parents were barred from renting some places there because they were (incorrectly) perceived to be an interracial couple. Or was his upbringing such that he never thought of himself in that role?
Two things brought this to mind. One piece in my brain is this Boston Globe article, “Claiming land and water on Martha’s Vineyard. Inkwell, a historically Black beach in Oak Bluffs, is a resistance.” It’s about a young black woman who bought a home with her brother. And one of the things she wondered about was whether she was worthy to own a house. And not just for her, but for future generations.
Since I never owned a house before my current address – and I lived in 30+ apartments before that – I totally get that vibe. Add to that all of those stories of people who lose their homes, often to fire or flood. I see them on TV. They almost always say, bravely, “At least everyone’s safe,” if that’s true. “We can always buy more stuff.” Except that the loss of a homestead is more than “stuff.”
Or maybe not. Several years ago, there was a young woman on JEOPARDY who noted that she lost her possessions in a fire. She felt liberated. Alex Trebek appeared aghast.
Another stream in my consciousness was a lectionary reading from December 20.2 Samuel 7:1-11. In part: “Go and tell my servant David: Thus says the Lord: Are you the one to build me a house to live in? I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent and a tabernacle.”
In our Bible study, we kicked around the idea of what is required in a physical structure, whether in a home or a church. Someone commented, “There is something to be said about the church as ‘home.’ To strike the balance of Church as a welcoming architecture of physical materials, comforting relationship, sense of belonging, and vessel for the holy, is I believe the challenge we face.”
Of course, we haven’t been IN our church building for over nine months. The early church was in people’s homes. So do we need a fancy structure? Surely we mourned when Notre Dame burned in Paris. Or when racists torch black churches. These are not just buildings, but symbols of something greater. My previous church burned down twice in a 30-year period, and they rebuilt the current cathedral-like structure in the midst of the Depression.
In conclusion… well, I have no conclusion. I just have musings about the importance and impermanence of place.