Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Today in the Christian world we are marked with ashes and made so very much aware of our sin. This day also marks the beginning of forty days of prayer and abstinence leading us to Christ's death and resurrection.
Have mercy upon me, O God, after Thy great goodness
According to the multitude of Thy mercies do away mine offences.Wash me throughly from my wickedness: and cleanse me from my sin.
For I acknowledge my faults: and my sin is ever before me.
Against Thee only have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that Thou mightest be justified in Thy saying, and clear when Thou art judged.
Behold, I was shapen in wickedness: and in sin hath my mother conceived me.
But lo, Thou requirest truth in the inward parts: and shalt make me to understand wisdom secretly.
Thou shalt purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: Thou shalt wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Thou shalt make me hear of joy and gladness: that the bones which Thou hast broken may rejoice.
Turn Thy face from my sins: and put out all my misdeeds.
Make me a clean heart, O God: and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from Thy presence: and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me.
O give me the comfort of Thy help again: and stablish me with Thy free Spirit.
Then shall I teach Thy ways unto the wicked: and sinners shall be converted unto Thee.
Deliver me from blood-guiltiness, O God, Thou that art the God of my health: and my tongue shall sing of Thy righteousness.
Thou shalt open my lips, O Lord: and my mouth shall shew Thy praise.
For Thou desirest no sacrifice, else would I give it Thee: but Thou delightest not in burnt-offerings.
The sacrifice of God is a troubled spirit: a broken and contrite heart, O God, shalt Thou not despise.
O be favourable and gracious unto Sion: build Thou the walls of Jerusalem.
Then shalt Thou be pleased with the sacrifice of righteousness, with the burnt-offerings and oblations: then shall they offer young bullocks upon Thine altar.
Credits: Miserere translation: Wikipedia
Sunday, March 2, 2014
The first wave of Gonzos - a term coined around 1970 by Hunter S. Thompson to describe a wing of New Journalism advocates - is all but gone these days. Tom Wolfe, who turns 83 today, remains it's most famous surviving member in the U.S. It's been a long way from The Kandy-Colored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby to tackling the Great American Novel for Wolfe. He's always been quite happy interpreting the American experience as an outsider looking into other worlds and he's certainly surpassed Thompson and others in his school with a matured Gonzo style. The stories seem written as much for entertainment as for traditional reportorial honesty and often involve not only the writer's observation but also his participation. And there are those long daydream passages of vivid description that end with a quick snap back to reality. In addition, Wolfe's style has always retained muted elements of the "wildness" that made such journalism amazingly popular into the 1990s.
In 2012 Wolfe took on the immigration theme and the Cuban-Americans community dominating the scene in Miami. Back to Blood hit the market with high expectations but performed poorly. This article reprinted from New York Magazine appeared with the release of the novel and remains a pleasing blend of biography and book.
So what does the future hold for a successful writer whose life has entered its descending arc? Most of us would like to think there is more compelling reading to come from such a wise observer. Let's hope so, but better we should leave prediction to heaven and immerse ourselves in the great wealth of observation of the American experience Tom Wolfe assembled for us.
His non-fiction is a fine place to start:
The Kandy-Colored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby (1965)
The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (1968)
The Pump House Gang (1968)
Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers (1970)
The New Journalism (1974) edited with E.W. Johnson
The Painted Word (1975)
Mauve Gloves & Madmen, Clutter & Vine (1976)
The Right Stuff (1979)
In Our Time (1980)
From Bauhaus to Our House (1981)
The Purple Decades (1982)
Hooking Up (2000)
Credits: Photo: New York Magazine
Monday, February 17, 2014
It's the third Monday in February and time for the holiday we know as Washington's Birthday. Research tell us that George Washington was actually born on February 22, 1732 or February 11, 1731 according to the Old Style calendar. At one time we actually had a Washington's Birthday holiday on February 22 but that changed in 1971 when the "Monday holiday rule" took effect. The rule was a postlude to a torturous twenty year saga of federal bickering, ineptitude, and state's rights issues over the national failure to honor our presidents, Abraham Lincoln in particular, with their very own holiday. The fallout left us with what is in reality a Washington's Unbirthday holiday and a three-day weekend. Honest Abe didn't make the cut.
Never keen to let a good shopping opportunity pass, American capitalists liked the idea of a President's Day, especially one that could be stretched over a full week . They saw the advantage of the patriotic fervor generated by matching silhouettes of Lincoln - log cabins - and Washington - axes and cherries - positioned over merchandise and big red signs reading "SALE." The concept caught on. Today, about all Americans have left with the third Monday in February is the opportunity to buy stuff, mostly stuff they don't need. On the federal level, this not only leaves us with nothing for Old Abe but also nothing for the other presidents save George and his big unbirthday.
I figure one could sooth this insult by ignoring the mess and shopping the day away. Even that strategy may not work. I seriously doubt shoppers can beat the price and associated costs that one can enjoy from Amazon.com on a 24/7 basis. A bit of research and we can find similar sites for those big, big ticket items like cars.
So what is one to do? Perhaps it's best to forget the issues of a misnomer and the neglected presidents and return to Lincoln and Washington as our February presidents. And they have more in common as presidents who share the quality of American exceptionalism, a term we've been hearing more often these days as the republic drifts ever deeper into its golden years. With that in mind, I suggest readers find a comfortable setting and reflect on these men and their place in the American experience. If readers need a bit of encouragement here are two statements, one so very brief, the other a bit longer, both reflecting the greatness of their authors and the hope they shared for our unique national experience:
Washington's Farewell Address, written in 1796 on his coming departure from the presidency;
Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, delivered on November 19, 1863.
A version of this post appeared in 2012.
Sunday, February 16, 2014
|Tennessee Troubadours Ben Shahn|
We can always count on PowerLine to bring us timely, informative, and entertaining posts about news from the world of music. Scott Johnson contributed two recent posts. Today he brings the world-class guitarist, Tony Rice, to our attention. Johnson notes that Rice is not well known outside world of "bluegrass/newgrass/folk world" and deserving of far wider recognition. Last week he wrote about the great folk revival artist, Tom Rush, whose career now spans fifty years and shows no sign of stopping. Johnson says this: "If Rush has ever recorded a mediocre track, I haven't heard of it." Also last week, Paul Mirengoff wrote about the Beatles performing in Washington two days after their Ed Sullivan Show appearance in 1964. His post includes links to comments from some of the folks both on stage and in the audience as well as a nine minute video of the event.
As always, the PowerLine music posts lead to interesting comment threads. I hope you enjoy them along with the fine sounds that are likely to descend from the thoughts of Johnson and Mirengoff.
Photo: Maynardville, Tennessee, October, 1935, for the Farm Security Administration. Library of Congress.
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Today marks the 205th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States.
As visitors climb the marble steps, pass marble columns, and enter the chamber of the Lincoln Memorial, they are awestruck by Daniel Chester French’s enormous marble statue of Abraham Lincoln. To what part of the Georgia marble figure is the eye drawn first? Possibly, the serious look on Lincoln’s face will remind the visitor of the critical time of Civil War through which the president guided our nation. Maybe the reeds wrapped together in the arms of Lincoln’s chair will prompt the visitor to remember the way that Lincoln wanted to keep us bound together as one nation.
If you want to settle into an evening with Lincoln and his age, your choice of titles will number in the thousands and in a variety of media. I am inclined to recommend Carl Sandburg's Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years and The War Years. It is available as a one-volume abridgement or you may choose to tackle the original six-volume version. Not always accurate, not always "organized" as a traditional biography, Sandburg's work is really the story of Lincoln as American experience. It's romantic, rich, warm, organic, meandering, sometimes stormy, sometimes calm. I think the approach works well because the Lincoln story is in so many respects the American story. Also keep in mind that although well-known as a poet Sandburg soon was revered in the U.S. as a poet/writer for the people once the first volumes appeared . With that in mind, I believe Old Abe would have been proud to select a writer of popular history and culture as his official biographer.
Do take some time today to reflect on the life, time, and legacy of Abraham Lincoln. So much of what he was, as a nation, we are.
Credits: Quotation, Lincoln Memorial National Memorial webpage, National Park Service
Thursday, February 6, 2014
|Babe Ruth Birthplace Museum|
|Ruth at St. Mary's|
His page at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum website has even more information, including videos, photos, and a wealth of amazing statistics.
Sunday, February 2, 2014
|Menologion of Basil II c. 1000 CE|
The festival marks the fortieth day following the birth of Jesus. Under Mosaic law, it was a day for temple rites completing the purification of a woman following childbirth. It was also the day to present the firstborn son for redemption in the rite of pidyon haben.
The Candlemas tradition emerges from Luke 2:22-39 where Simeon prays over Jesus with words that would become known as the Song of Simeon or Nunc Dimittis:
Nunc dimittis servum tuum, Domine,
secundum verbum tuum in pace:
Quia viderunt oculi mei salutare tuum
Quod parasti ante faciem omnium populorum:
Lumen ad revelationem gentium,
et gloriam plebis tuae Israel.
Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.
Beginning around the third century following the birth of Jesus, the blessing of candles and their procession about the church on this feast day became a symbol of Jesus as the light of the world. The practice emerged in the western church around 1000 CE.
Here is Arvo Part's setting for this sacred song:
This day has other interesting attributes. It marks the end of the traditional Christmas season in the Catholic calendar. It is also the mid-point of Winter, a cross-quarter day filled with pagan traditions symbolizing fire and the "return of the light."
In our house, the last Christmas decorations have been removed and stored for another cycle. Our fireplace seems naked without its trimmings of red, green, gold, silver and glass. But the fire therein brings light and warmth, both spiritual and physical, as this joyous season comes to a close.