Friday, October 23, 2009

favorite music 5

[originally in Pentecostal Reformation Red]

Favorite Music Friday 5

I love Songbird's intro:
Davey and GoliathWhen I was a very little girl growing up in Virginia, I never missed a Sunday going to Court Street Baptist Church. But there was something else that made Sundays special, and that was "Davey and Goliath." Every week the opening strains of the theme song would find me lying on the floor, chin on hands, looking up expectantly to watch the adventures of a clay boy and his big dog.

What I didn't realize was who wrote that music, the hymn "A Mighty Fortress is Our God."

Martin LutherIt was the same Martin Luther who said: "I have no use for cranks who despise music, because it is a gift of God. Music drives away the Devil and makes people gay; they forget thereby all wrath, unchastity, arrogance, and the like. Next after theology, I give to music the highest place and the greatest honor."

On this Friday before Reformation Sunday, let's talk about music. Share with us five pieces of music that draw you closer to the Divine, that elevate your mood or take you to your happy place. They might be sung or instrumental, ancient or modern, sacred or popular...whatever touches you.

Some of us even love hymns. (Well, I do.)

1. I'll begin with my recurrent Beethoven theme... both the piano sonatas I love to play (I'm still at 27 of the 32 total, but will learn the remaining 5 one of these days) and like nothing else in the world, Symphonies 1, 2, 4 and 7.

2. Despite having a degree in piano and organ performance and a diploma from the International Summer Academy for Organists in Haarlem, I detest most 19th-century organ music and dislike the typical stereotypical diapason-heavy Church Organ Sound although like Songbird, I do love a lot of hymnody and I'm passionate about leading worship from a good organ. Whether I'm playing or listening, almost no sound excites me more than a well built, in-tune, expertly voiced instrument more-or-less designed after the North German Baroque, and a resonant room only enhances everything. Try the Flentrop in Busch Hall, Cambridge for a rush, though you need to be sitting in the right spot because the stone resonates and reverberates so. Remember, too, maybe especially as an organist you're playing the music, the instrument and the room. For a parting shot on this (2), I'll comment for a church almost constantly in need or reformation, restoration and renewal, an excellent diversity of quality music can help tremendously.

American Masters CD3. Don't Let Me Come Home a Stranger... and other music that spirits me back to a different place and time whilst showing me hope for a future different from where and how I am right now. That can include a blast of classic rock, a charge of good ole 1980's songs or any of several other doable possibilities, including classic and more contemporary hymns.

4. Roy Harris, Symphony No. 3 in one movement, one of my all-time favorites from any genre.

5. ...a fill-in-the-spaces for later...

Friday, October 16, 2009

footgear friday 5

Jan outlines today's On Your Feet! 5... and I'll start out by remembering the biblical injunction to "wear sandals" along with "take off your sandals: you are standing on holy ground." Shaking off the dusty dirt from a negative encounter with an inhospitable community is easier if you don't need to untie your shoelaces and for sure an Sandals 4 experience of the Holy Other requires no space between you and the earth we're born from and return to. Preaching barefoot?! But of course! Proclaiming and even trying explaining the gospel is an awesome, intimidating, daunting, sacred experience of Holy Otherness, and relying on the Spirit may be a bit easier with ongoing awareness of feet unshod. Besides, when you're barefoot you feel and sense otherwise imperceptible shifts and movements in the ground beneath you. So what does that say and what might you say about the promised constant Presence of God? For those who insist on referencing Isaiah's and other ancient chroniclers' "with twain they did cover their feet," I insist on reminding them that in scripture sometimes "feet" simply means the part of the body we use for walking and for making the path that wasn't evident or even there at all before we got to that place—sometimes it means: feet. Now on to Jan's 5:

1. currently flip-flops are my favorite footwear.

2. although it's definitely not the craziest shoe, boot, or sandal I've ever worn, I'll cite my experiences going through airport security post-911 wearing taller than ankle-high boots with lots of laces. Never again; that taught me!

3. as a little kid and as an older teen, I wore sneakers/ tennies a lot and loved wearing sandals during the hot summer months. At university and in social work school in the wintery Northeast I always tried to wear sandals until around Thanksgiving – late November in this country – but didn't always make it quite to then.

4. for feet (and body) feelin' "most comfortable" I used to enjoy bare feet, especially in the house, but weather permitting, these days I'll pick a pair of flip-flops. In ages past I loved the woven leather huaraches we still can get across the border in Mexico, but for the past dozen years they've been hard to find elsewhere.

5. about socks: with closed shoes other than the chunky-heeled "heels" I occasionally wear, always, always socks. If I'm wearing jeans, long pants or a floor-length skirt, they need to be conventional ankle socks. With shorts or a short skirt, short socks (I'm not sure of the proper terminology). And our nearby 99 cents only store has wonderful, often name-brand sock bargains!

Sandals 5Bonus: I began this 5 with a couple of footwear facts and now I'll tell about the two pairs of wonderful custom-made brown leather sandals I had made by the First Settler Workshop in the shadow of Faneuil Hall in Boston. Also, I used to love Tevas and wore out several pairs, but now they seem way too last-century. Finally, I digitized the sandals illustrating this blog from an outline drawing I made of some of my all-time favorite sandals. Out of a dozen versions I've chosen two with "Summer in America" because the season of summer holds connotations of productive living that consistently bears ripe and healthy fruit.

life stuff button

Thursday, October 15, 2009

blog action day: climate change

Although I knew I had to blog about climate change on Blog Action Day, I'm well aware even people who are devoting their lives to the topic don't yet know enough and there are almost blog action day 2009limitless resources online and in print. Instead of making an attempt to say something about a subject I know far too little about, I'm linking to a couple of my own blogs, to a pair of excellent sites about aspects of climate change that especially interest me and to a handful of the many relevant Bible passages and some quotes (all scriptures NRSV).

desert spirit's fire! is a theology blog and typically I assume readers have at least a smidgen of biblical knowledge and theological vocabulary. However, with more than 9,363 bloggers registered worldwide to participate [update: 31,000 blog posts, and a few people probably will blog later] in this special Blog Action Day for climate change, I'm trying to be a little more explicit than usual about some theological concepts. And here I'll comment the way some Christians and many assorted others have tended to concentrate on human creatures almost to the exclusion of the rest of God's creation has been infinitely sad and highly unbiblical.

Church and synagogue consider the biblical scriptures an ancient witness to the Presence of God in world and creation and to God's saving acts in history, yet despite its antiquity, the bible is very clear about the interwoven interrelatedness and interdependence of all creation and about God's call to humanity for responsible caretaking and stewardship of the earth. In the creation stories in the Hebrew bible book of Genesis, God's forms, "births" the proto human A-dam from the dust of the earth; in the New Testament scriptures, gospel-writer Luke concludes his genealogy with, "A-dam, son of God." Humanity created in the image of the Creator God, a reflection of Divinity shaped out of the dirt of the ground? Indeed, yes!

As lifestyle and worldview, although they acknowledge the essential integrity of spirit and body, the biblical religions are Spirit-filled yet earthbound, for the most part lived out amidst the world. In fact, Christianity's central proclamation is God's incarnation in the human Jesus of Nazareth, the Divine enfleshed in a finite human body entering history in a most conventional manner, "born of a woman, born under the law" [Galatians 4:4b], then marking days, seasons and years whilst requiring sustaining food and drink, protective shelter, and like all of creation - animal and plant - producing waste matter and ultimately returning to the ground of its origin. God in Christ Jesus needed a sustainable earth and environment in balance with itself and so does every single facet and molecule of creation.

In the New Testament book of Acts, probably authored by the same Dr. Luke as the gospel, as people were gathered in Jerusalem, at that time considered the center of the world, on the Day of Pentecost (a Jewish feast commemorating the Sinai Covenant, "The Law" or Ten Commandments), rushing wind and blazes of fire physically signified the Spirit of Life indwelling all creation with a new, more universal pervasiveness, yet in continuity with the Wind that breathed upon and ordered the chaos at creation's dawn. Martin Luther, the magisterial Reformer (try "meta-Reformer") spoke of the ubiquity of the Risen and Ascended Jesus Christ. What is more, in the Church's sacraments God Self-reveals in creation's commonest stuff, in water, grain and grape, grown, nurtured, sprung and harvested from the heart of the earth.

From the UK, here's an excellent article on rainforests and climate change.

Almost daily we hear about the devastating effects of climate change on polar bears; you can follow World Wildlife Fund's Canon Polar Bear tracker.

The Holy One we know as God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, God of the Prophets, God and Father of Jesus the Christ has experienced the same need for clean water, plentiful produce, fresh air and stable climate as the rainforests and the polar bears.

On my blog for Earth Day 2006 I said a lot I could repeat here for Climate Change Day, including paraphrasing Walter Brueggemann, who says essentially, "Of course the trees clap their hands--no more clear-cutting! Why wouldn't the seas and everything in them roar? No more pollution!"

During early September 2008 for Musical Musings on RevGalBlogPals, I celebrated the relatively recent liturgical Season of Creation emphasis.

The Genesis 9 account of God covenanting not only with human creatures but with all creation describes how God disarms, hanging a bow high in the sky as a recurrent symbol of the covenant of grace and provision.

Genesis 9:8-10
Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, "As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark."
Genesis 9:12-13
God said, "This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth."
Job 12:7-10
But ask the animals, and they will teach you; the birds of the air, and they will tell you; ask the plants of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of every human being.
check out Job 39

and Jeremiah 8

Psalm 104 as well...and concluding Blog Action Day 2009 with a hopeful reminder, a portion of Psalm 104:10-19
You make springs gush forth in the valleys; they flow between the hills,
giving drink to every wild animal; the wild asses quench their thirst.
By the streams the birds of the air have their habitation; they sing among the branches.
From your lofty abode you water the mountains; the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work.
You cause the grass to grow for the cattle, and plants for people to use, to bring forth food from the earth,
and wine to gladden the human heart, oil to make the face shine, and bread to strengthen the human heart.
The trees of the Lord are watered abundantly, the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.
In them the birds build their nests; the stork has its home in the fir trees.
The high mountains are for the wild goats; the rocks are a refuge for the coneys.
You have made the moon to mark the seasons; the sun knows its time for setting.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

A Call and an Oracle

this is a really really old one, but bears another speaking and a new hearing...

A Call

In November of the third year of the current regime
I saw the people, the city's people
        desolate, forsaken, hungry and forgotten
I saw the people, the city's people
        needing bread, health and work
        needing plain justice.

Then the word of Yahweh came to me and I said,
        "You're asking me to speak your word, Yahweh? I did want to be your servant, but I never meant to do anything this hard! For me to be one small voice speaking against this outrage?"

but Yahweh said to me,
        "If you do not proclaim my word, who will do it for my people?"
So I said,
        "Here I am."

An Oracle

Hear the word of Yahweh, you that turn justice on its head, you that mock compassion
You have set yourself up in a soundproof castle with no window on the world
        You ears have become deaf
You have garnered riches for yourself
You have bought and sold your carefully media-marketed image
        Your heart is cold and hard
While my people hunger to be human
        as they hunger for the fruit of the land
        for the wages of a good job.
They hunger for all of those things which I, Yahweh, their Creator gave them because I chose them, the people, for my own
But you stole and plundered what already was theirs.

And when you ask me,
        "How did I do those things, when did I do them?"
When you say,
        "I have been trying to keep the peace as a follower of Jesus,"
My word to you is,
        "You blaspheme! Better that you would tell the truth that you do not follow Jesus than lie and thus pervert his proclamation."
My word to you is,
        "because you have refused to be open and vulnerable
        because you have made a covenant with death
        because you have usurped the possibility of justice
for the impossibility of a false and perilous peace that is no peace
        because you have profaned the world with the price of your no-peace
        because you have renounced the stewardship of the earth's resources and repudiated the responsibility of your office
I, Yahweh, declare you not-human, not-in-my-image
I declare you a despiser of my servant Jesus who showed you how to be human - but your eyes have become blind
and therefore I, Yahweh, will confound your media image,
lay waste your economic abominations
and obliterate your lack of social programs
until you cry to me for mercy
but for you I will have no mercy
because you have done no mercy, no justice.

"Give ear and hear me, you people of the city,
        Forgotten and trampled upon by the wealthy but remembered and chosen by Yahweh.
Witness my word!"