April Ramblin’

Fun Interpretation of the Google Books Settlement

What I love about my Bible study: we talk a LOT about current affairs. Part of the conversation recently, in reading the 23rd Psalm, was “What IS evil?’ One of the examples I thought of was the deliberate misrepresentation of the truth with the intent to incite.

We also were distressed about the new Arizona immigration law Two thoughts on that. Remember the Sun City (video) album from the 1980s? Sun City was the resort town in South Africa, which, during apartheid came to symbolize the difference in conditions for blacks and whites. On that album was the song, Let Me See Your ID (video).

The other thing is that famous quote by theologian Martin Niemöller
“THEY CAME FIRST for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.
THEN THEY CAME for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.
THEN THEY CAME for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
and by that time no one was left to speak up.”
Having been profiled one or twice (yeah, right), this really disturbs me.
MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow: FOX News, GOP further ‘the un-mooring of politics from fact’ (video)
Gunn High School Sings Away Kansas Hate Group known as the Westboro Baptist Church (video).
The vengeance of Bernie Goldberg on the Daily Show (Link to video). I don’t recall Goldberg being quite so wack when he was on CBS.
Plaque in honor of activist William Moore unveiled. He was a civil rights activist from around my hometown of Binghamton, NY, who was murdered in Alabama in 1963. The local branch of the Congress of Racial Equality, with which my father worked, was named after him. It even rhymed: The William L. Moore chapter of CORE.
Very soon, you can listen to the sounds of the cosmos yourself. All of the data from the SETI program will soon be available at setiQuest.org to download or play.
New national park quarters unveiled: U.S. Mint debuts designs for the first five coins in its America the Beautiful Quarters Program, which will honor 56 national parks. The rest will be released through 2021. I probably WON’T collect them; still haven’t found most of the 2009 quarters.
MAD Artist Jack Davis’ Illustrations of NBC’s 1965-66 Season for TV Guide is really cool, especially if you remember the shows, which I do.
Angelina Jolie is in the summer movie I can’t wait to see, Salt, which was filmed in part in Albany, NY. The filming caused massive traffic delays for days.
Siren’s Crush Receives Rave Reviews from NAMM (short video). This is my niece’s group; Rebecca is the brunette female.
My friend Deborah, who I met in 1977 in Manhattan, and who’s been living in France for the past quarter century, recently bought a beautiful old stone house in Brittany with a plan of partly financing the loan by renting it out as a holiday home.

The Kan ar Vouac’h website and its listing on VRBO are finally done, and she’s hoping to be putting the final touches on buying the final necessaries over the month of May.

I’m told it’s a lovely and reasonable place to stay in Brittany.
Retiree Bathtub Test

During a visit to my doctor, I asked him, “How do you determine whether or not a retiree should be put in an old age home?”

“Well,” he said, “we fill up a bathtub, then we offer a teaspoon, a teacup and a bucket to the retiree and ask him or her to empty the bathtub”

“Oh, I understand,” I said. “A normal person would use the bucket because it is bigger than the spoon or the teacup.”

“No” he said. “A normal person would pull the plug. Do you want a bed near the window?”


Theological QUESTIONS

I was talking to my Jehovah’s Witness buddy on the bus the other day. Frankly, I agree with him a lot more than not, and he certainly knows his Bible. So I was surprised that he thought that we were in the end times, that the things that are happening NOW suggest the Armageddon foretold in Revelation.

Having read the Epistles, I believe people have predicting the Lord was coming back at least since Saint Paul was on the earth (which, not incidentally, predates the writing of Revelation), that these particular circumstances (Israel as a nation, the United Nations as an entity that will try to create a one-world secular government in violation of God’s will, and all the earthquakes, floods, etc. worldwide) are the signs of the End Times. Well, maybe. I’m of the school that “No one knows the day or time when the Lord comes”, so you might as well live your lives loving each other, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked and the like.

Meanwhile, the sermon at church on Sunday was useful in another way. I know there is evil in the world, but haven’t attributed it to a personified devil, Satan, Lucifer, the accuser since I was a teenager. Apparently, most people don’t; how else could we make devil’s food cake, deviled eggs and buy Underwood deviled ham, with a little red devil character right on the can?

So, a couple of lighthearted questions for Good Friday:
1. How do you think the world ends? With a bang or a whimper? In lack certainty, so I don’t really worry about it. I DO doubt that the UN will be the vehicle through which a one-government body will arise, if it ever does; it’d much more likely be via the multinational corporations pulling the strings than the US, Iran, Israel, China, and Russia all ceding authority to a controlling government.

2. Do you believe in a personified Devil? I don’t. As a monotheist, which I am, if there is one God, then making “the Devil” like unto God seems wrong.

But what do YOU think?
And all he asks of us is we give each other love
Marvin Gaye (April 2, 1939 – April 1, 1984)
God is Love, from the What’s Goin’ On album
Album version
Extended mix


Found Post: Gonna Take a Miracle

Sometimes I write a post which I start then forget about, then find again. This isn’t one of those. This was actually found in our front lawn by my wife, a green handkerchief with two notes on either side of the fold.

One note reads, in all capital letters:

{Name 1], I long to meet your needs in a supernatural way. I want to bless you more than you even can even imagine. Don’t hold back by limiting my ways to your ways. I can make a way where there is no way. Even as Paul sent forth handkerchief, so my servant, [Name 2- first and last name], has sent you this handkerchief in obedience to me, as an act of faith, that I will meet your need with a miracle. Release your faith now and believe my word.

Then, handwritten (though it looks Xeroxed):

[Name 1], receive this word.
I am standing in prayer with you. [signed Name 2, first name only]

On the other side of the hankerchief is Name 1’s full name and full address, three or four blocks from our house.

Then the message:

Write the amount of money you need here:

Initially an amount was written, then whited-out and replaced with the handwritten, “Thousands of dollars.”

Sign your name here, claiming Matt 18:19. [Name 1 has signed].

In the King James Version, Matthew 18:19 reads: “Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.”

WOW. This disturbs me more than I can explain. There’s an old tradition of taking a Bible verse, pulling it out of context and “proof texting” a point. It seems clear, at least to me, that the two gathered together would be praying for God’s church, not personal wealth. And this commentary agrees:

1. Verse 19 has NOTHING to do with requests to God by a believer, in relation to health, wealth, happiness or any other aspect or desire in their own life…
5. The two persons of verse 19 are NOT individual Christian believers making requests for themselves.

This reeks of charlatan theology in the Oral Roberts/Reverend Ike tradition. I’m wondering what kind of “contribution” this person made to receive the “gift” of the handkerchief. Yet another example of “Christians” making Christians look bad.


The tongue or the ear?

I was asking someone who reads the Bible voraciously whether Pentecost, from Acts 2 , where suddenly people start hearing the Gospel in their own language, is a miracle of the tongue or a miracle of the ear? He said it was the tongue, though he dismissed notion that people will just start spouting gibberish, as some religious folks portray the event in modern times.

As someone who has – once – been part of a service where people actually seemed to spontaneously start speaking in tongues, I nevertheless believe in the possibility of the miracle of the ear; that is, that people began comprehending as though the words were in their own language. Isn’t it true that sometimes, if we really listen, we can understand what would seem to be incomprehensible?

And did not the church, based on its understanding of Genesis 1, long believe that the sun went around the earth? It was heresy to think otherwise. Yet our greater understanding of the universe does not diminish the awesomeness of creation, however it came to be.

I’ve long believe that AN explanation, not necessarily THE explanation of the feeding of the 4000 or 5000 in the New Testament was based on the notion stone soup. Many people had a little of this, a little of that, but when they shared, it created a magnificent feast. And it was a miracle: the miracle of open hearts.

In the Acts 2 reading for Pentecost, it cites a reading from Joel about the “last days”. It’s pretty clear that the early Christians such as Paul took the scripture to mean that the Lord was coming back in their lifetimes. Evidently, it didn’t. Or maybe the Joel reading was a reference to the Holy Spirit that was promised after the resurrection of Jesus. By that measure, we’ve been in the “end times” for about 1980 years. If that’s true, we’d better hurry up and feed the hungry, etc., because the “end times” might be a little while longer.
YouTube video: Gay scientists have isolated the gene they believe makes people Christian.


Jesus Christ Superstar: An appreciation

My friend Ellen has one of those turntable thingies that transfers vinyl into digital recordings. She recently made a couple recordings for me, both of Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice collaborations that I’ve long had on LP, Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Jesus Christ Superstar. Dreamcoat, which was written first but recorded after Superstar, was OK, but Superstar had a profound affect on my way of thinking; perhaps it still does.

I originally got this album for Christmas in 1970 and played it so often, I can STILL tell you where all the skips are on my recording. I found it to be a great jumping off point for great theological discussions, rather than the anathema that some religious folks thought it was, especially with my friend Pat Wilson, a good Catholic woman who was the wife of my dentist. (For context, think of the controversies that Martin Scorsese’s 1988 film “Last temptation of Christ” or Mel Gibson’s 2004 movie “The Passion of the Christ” engendered in certain circles.)

Overture – Ensemble
It starts with that insistent theme that appears in the next song, hits the high point with the “Superstar melody, and ends with the mournful last piece.
“Heaven on Their Minds” – Judas
I happen to think even today that there are those who worry too much about heaven and not enough about treating God’s people on earth.
“What’s the Buzz/Strange Thing, Mystifying” – Jesus, Mary, Judas, Disciples
While Jesus is a tad snarky here, it is consistent with his frustration with his disciples that after three years, they still didn’t get it.
“Everything’s Alright” – Mary, Judas, Jesus, Disciples
The religious elite were often complaining about the lowlifes Jesus hung around with. But I DO think we have the resources to “save the poor from their lot”, if not the political will.
“This Jesus Must Die” – Caiaphas, Annas, Priests, Disciples
Always loved the deep voice of Caiaphas voice.
“Hosanna” – Caiaphas, Jesus, Disciples
It has always astounded me about the mood of the crowd from the cheers of Palm Sunday to the rejection on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.
“Simon Zealotes/Poor Jerusalem” – Simon, Jesus, Disciples, Roman Guards
Simon and others thought that Jesus was going to be the second coming of the warlike Maccabees, which was not the plan. “To conquer death, you only have to die” was not, in the Biblical context, a reference to physical death but rather death to a sinful life.
“Pilate’s Dream” – Pilate
This is the same tune as Poor Jerusalem. Initially, i thought this was a mistake, but it’s performed so differently that this has become one of my favorite songs.

“The Temple” – Jesus, Profiteers
There was a second century philosopher whose name escapes me who thought that Jesus was pure love. But this is an angry Jesus. This is the first time, save for the Overture, that the Gethsemane theme appears.
“Everything’s Alright” (reprise) – Mary, Jesus
“I Don’t Know How to Love Him” – Mary
Not the first and certainly not the last to suggest a sexual/romantic relationship between Mary Magdalene and Jesus – see, e.g., Dan Brown. I didn’t believe it, but this suggestion did not bother me.
“Damned for All Time/Blood Money” – Judas, Caiaphas, Annas, Priests, The Mob
Judas’ conflict, though not exactly as written, does speak to the greater truth about fulfillment of Scripture.
“The Last Supper” – Jesus, Judas and Apostles
That the disciples STILL didn’t entirely know who and what they were dealing with is evident.
“Gethsemane” – Jesus
Possibly the most controversial song. That Jesus was, in part, human made his resistance to dying much more real.

“The Arrest” – Jesus, Judas, Peter, Apostles, Caiaphas, Annas, The Mob, Roman Guards
If I were to play one of the roles, I’d like it to be Peter; NOW we’ll fight for you.
“Peter’s Denial” – Peter, Mary, Apostles, The Mob
I was once in a Bible study and one member said she’d NEVER have denied Jesus, that she’d gave gotten the message right away; I never believed that.
“Pilate and Christ” – Pilate, Jesus, Annas, Mary, Apostles, Roman Guards, The Mob
The singular funniest thing on the album is a fellow with a distinct British accent saying, “someone Christ, king of the Jews.” Featuring an ironic restatement of Hosanna.
“King Herod’s Song” – Herod and his Court
High camp.
[“Could We Start Again Please?” – Mary, Peter, Simon, Disciples, Roman Guards
NOT on my album; it was only from later versions.]
“Judas’ Death” – Judas, Caiaphas, Annas, The Mob
Reiteration of Damed for All Time. was Judas’ betrayal preordained? Yeasty stuff.
“Trial By Pilate” – Pilate, Caiaphas, Annas, Jesus, The Mob
Really gets to the core issue about predestination -“Everything is fixed and you can’t change it.” But if it’s all predetermined, what of free will, which allowed for the Fall from grace?
“Superstar” – Judas, Soul Girls, Angels, Paparazzi
Israel in 4 B.C. DIDN’T have mass communication. Why did Jesus come THEN? And if he came NOW, would he be on radio or TV? Would we believe in Him if he were? Bringing it to today, would he be our Facebook friend? Would we follow him on Twitter? What would He feature on His MySpace page or His YouTube videos?

“Crucifixion” – Jesus, Disciples
The seven last words.
“John 19:41” – Jesus, Disciples
The final controversy, on an instrumental track, no less. The citation is to the burial plot for Jesus. What, no Resurrection? Sacrilege! But I never thought it was Lloyd Webber and Rice’s job to complete the story the way orthodox Christianity does. It’s THEIR telling. And it means a great deal to me, just as it is.

The videos, BTW, were primarily from the not-well-received 2000 Broadway performance which my wife and I actually saw in previews. Not having seen a Broadway musical since Raisin nearly 30 years earlier, I enjoyed it at a certain level, though some of the videos now seem a tad overwrought.
Another appreciation of Superstar.


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