Saturday, September 17, 2011

Ears of Stone

Sometimes I think I missed the 1960s.  No, not because I was tripped out on psychedelic chemicals (that came later for me), but because things happened that never reached my ears.  Either that or, at the time, I had ears of stone.

Well, once again, I thank God for YouTube, which so often helps me fill in what I missed of my favourite decade.  This present case is most pleasant to present to you.  It came to me in one of those automated "Your favourite YouTube channel has been updated" emails.  I didn't know if it would be any good, but I took a chance and clicked on the link.  It was a track called "Ears of Stone" from a compilation album called, "Fading Yellow Vol. 2:  21 Course Smorgasbord of U.S. Pop-Sike & Other Delights 1965-1969".  The band is listed as The Network.

From the opening guitar strums, knew I was going to like it.  A few seconds later, when the Electric Prunesian psychedelic organ crashed in, and later when a faux sitar could be heard, my first though was:  I must share this with my brother Charles!  But somewhere just after the first wash of organ and the sitaresque guitar line came an even greater shock.  For I heard the follow words:

We've played our pipes for you, but you haven't dance.
We've sung our dirges, but you haven't mourned.
We've sung our songs for you, but you might as well be deaf.
Ears of stone, won't you hear me?

I never expected to have a psychedelically musical Gospel lesson sung to me!  For here were almost  word-for-word our Lord's rebuke from St. Luke's Gospel, the 7th Chapter:
And the Lord said, Whereunto then shall I liken the men of this generation? and to what are they like?

They are like unto children sitting in the marketplace, and calling one to another, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned to you, and ye have not wept.

For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, He hath a devil.

The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners!

But wisdom is justified of all her children.

The song continues:
We've written in big, black letters; you've merely glanced.
Written it in poems and songs; you've only scoffed.
We've written words for you, but you might as well be blind.
Eyes of stone, won't you see it?
This reminded me instantly of the quote from Flanner O'Connor:  "to the hard of hearing you shout, and for the blind you draw large and startling figures."

Now, in the spirit of "full disclosure", I have to say that the bridge for this song is pathetically weak.  But it is short enough that it doesn't rob the song of too much power.  I only wish they'd given that a bit more thought musically.  Still, I am very glad to have found this 45-year-old gem.


Friday, September 16, 2011

Goodwood Festival of Speed 2011

This would have been a fabulous year to have attended the Goodwood Festival of Speed in West Sussex!

For those unfamiliar with Goodwood, there is a series of four YouTube videos which makes an excellent introduction.  Here is the first part:

This year, the Festival celebrated the 50th anniversary of the iconic E-Type Jaguar, as well as 100 years of Ford Motor Company in the UK.

One thing I sure would like to have seen is the Lotus Type 56 turbine race car, which premiered at the Indy 500 in 1968, and which I later saw race in the Pocono 500.  Unfortunately, as stated in the information for this video, it is no longer fitted with the Pratt & Whitney turbine that made it so unique.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I'm Spiritual, But I'm Not Religious!

Have you ever run into a person (of course you have; their name is Legion!) who makes the audacious claim: 

"I'm not religious, but I'm spiritual!"

Since my earliest days as an adult Christian, this has bothered me.  Sometimes it has made me feel as if a person was being lazy, doing the easy part of possessing faith while neglecting works.  Other times, I have thought that such people were only eating dessert (spirituality), while skipping the nutrition-providing meal (religion).

It is open to debate what such people even mean by the statement.  Often, it seems to mean that they hold to some sort of internal, mental faith in a higher power, while eschewing corporate worship with others of faith.  A related saying is:  "I'm a believer, but I have no use for organized religion!"  (Of course, I maintain that as Anglicans we can lay full claim to being members of no organized religion!)

My latest objection is two-fold:  (1) that such a philosophy works and teaches against the incarnation; and (2) that those who hold to it are missing out on most of the fun!

If you imagine a world in which God tried to love us without the Incarnation of His Son Jesus Christ, you may see what I mean by my first objection.  In this gedankenexperiment, God send positive vibes and blessings down from heaven, but He doesn't sully Himself by taking on flesh.  He would still feel kindly towards us, but would be unwilling to do the incredibly difficult work of becoming one of us and living among us.  And that is how it is with the "spiritual but not religious":  they are fine with thinking kindly thoughts toward their higher power throughout the week, but unwilling to sully themselves by attending church cheek-to-jowl with other sinners on Sunday morning.

As to my second objection, what if a man were to tell you:  "Well, yes, I am married.  My wife and I have exchanged rings, and our marriage certificate is legal and all in order.  But we don't believe in physical or emotional intimacy.  We lead separate lives."  Would you not think such a man is crazy?  No matter how much he might object, saying that in the deep, spiritual sense he and his bride were married, you would always think of him as not quite "getting" the concept of marriage.  For he is purposely avoiding the best and most pleasurable part of the thing.  And this is just what I think when I run into yet another "spiritual but not religious" person.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

My Top 5 "I Need You" Songs!

The notion "I Need You" is an oft-repeated theme in pop music.  I believe that each of these 5 songs (not covers of the same song; each is unique!) were either in my or my brother's record collection when we were kids.  I happen to like them all, which makes it hard to rate them, but here goes:

Number 5 - The Beatles

Number 4 - America

Number 3 - Paul Revere & the Raiders

Number 2 - Lynyrd Skynyrd

Number 1 - The Who

If any reader cares to make me aware of glaring omissions (perhaps more modern ones?) from this list, please feel free to do so!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

One of Those Days?

Did you ever have one of those days when the entire universe seemed to be in harmony? When each breath seemed sacred, and every soul holy? When every moment seemed freighted with meaning? When life became unrushed enough that you were able to slow down and actually smell the goodness of the earth? When compassion for creation gushed out from your heart unbidden, and in the splendid silences, you fancied you could hear angels and mermaids sing?

Me neither.