Archive for the ‘faith’ Category

on the outside looking in >

Saturday, September 12th, 2015
No Gravatar

I recently watched the movie Standing In The Shadow Of Motown. The entire movie was good, though I was a little less into the guest spot cameos of people covering the hits (Bootsy on bass > oh yeah – singing classic Motown? not so much). There was a lot of talk in the movie how unknown the Funk Brothers were and are, since back in the day album credits rarely listed session musicians. Drummer Steve Jordan said at one point; the band was so happening that you could put any singer in front of them and they’d have a hit. Often times studio musicians recognize this and just accept that as part of the gig, but the sheer number of hits and almost complete anonymity of these Funk Brothers is truly eye-popping. One of the most brutal examples of this came during a section featuring guitarist Robert White (who wrote the well known intro to My Girl). The guitarist was at a restaurant and My Girl came on the radio. Someone in the restaurant came up to the booth White was dining at and was gushing at that intro “do you hear that? It’s amazing!” and Robert White, who wrote it, looked up and said “yeah I…” then stopped, looked down, and said “I’ll order the BBQ chicken”. His friend asked him later – “why didn’t you tell him that was you?” And Robert responded “nah – he’d never believe some old washed up guy like me”…the friend stated Robert was always on the outside looking in. I was struck by that. Here was a guy who was on many, many number one hits, playing with an amazing roster of talent, living what many would consider “the dream” and he was on the outside looking in. But he isn’t alone.

Shut Up and Play the Hits features the last show of LCD Soundsystems (the show is very good) interspersed with the quiet, somewhat desperate and doubting day to day unwinding life of James Murphy as he calls it quits with LCD Soundsystems. If you want another example of someone on the outside looking in, watch this. The contrast of high energy concert with an almost bleak depressed “everyday life” as Murphy goes about his business makes the whole thing even heavier. A part of me wondered if Murphy was shooting for some melodrama, in being emotionally neutral, or even flat – but the interview brings out the gnawing doubts he lives 24/7. Outside looking in. And this got me thinking..why? (more…)

thoughts on what it means to bless

Saturday, August 15th, 2015
No Gravatar

not too long ago I heard a sermon by a man that got me thinking about the concept of being blessed, or more specifically – what the meaning of “bless” actually is. Why? I dunno actually – I think a statement was made at some point in the sermon about making room for blessings as if a blessing would take up a certain amount of space opposite a curse or evil… I know – I know – the sermon was actually good – but the real core meaning of bless is quite different from what we have come to think about it. So, let’s dive in shall we?

If you were to ask 10 people what the word bless means, most of them, if not all of them, would say something to the effect of prosper, enrich or succeed. Some might also mention praise or adore, but most folks that I know think of blessing as being akin to getting what you want. In the west unfortunately this has almost become a kind of materialistic mantra as in “I am so blessed I have this house / job / car / health / misc. stuff.” Now don’t get me wrong, having stuff is fine, succeeding is fine, having health and good things are reasons to be thankful, however they do not convey the essence of the word bless. Further, having stuff or being successful or prosperous most certainly does not mean we are approved by God.

Essentially to bless is to kneel. (more…)

JRR Tolkien on sermons >

Saturday, July 25th, 2015
No Gravatar

But as for sermons! They are bad, aren’t they! Most of them from any point of view. The answer to the mystery is prob. not simple; but part of it is that ‘rhetoric’ (of which preaching is a dept.) is an art, which requires (a) some native talent and (b) learning and practice. The instrument used is v. much more complex than a piano, yet most performers are in the position of a man who sits down to a piano and expects to move his audience without any knowledge of the notes at all.
The art can be learned (granted some modicum of aptitude) and can then be effective, in a way, when wholly unconnected with sincerity, sanctity etc. But preaching is complicated by the fact that we expect in it not only a performance, but truth and sincerity, and also at least no word, tone, or note that suggests the possession of vices (such as hypocrisy, vanity) or defects (such as folly, ignorance) in the preacher. Good sermons require some art, some virtue, some knowledge. Real sermons require some special grace which does not transcend art but arrives at it by instinct or ‘inspiration’; indeed the Holy Spirit seems sometimes to speak through a human mouth providing art, virtue and insight he does not himself possess: but the occasions are rare. In other times I don’t think an educated person is required to suppress the critical faculty, but it should be kept in order by a constant endeavor to apply the truth (if any), even in cliche form, to oneself exclusively! A difficult exercise. ….

on being an artist >

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015
No Gravatar

when I take a look at the etymology of the word “artist” I get something like this:
artist (n.)
1580s, “one who cultivates one of the fine arts,” from Middle French artiste (14c.), from Italian artista, from Medieval Latin artista, from Latin ars (see art (n.)).

Originally used especially of the arts presided over by the Muses (history, poetry, comedy, tragedy, music, dancing, astronomy), but also used 17c. for “one skilled in any art or craft” (including professors, surgeons, craftsmen, cooks). Now especially of “one who practices the arts of design or visual arts” (a sense first attested 1747).

Part of what got me thinking about this was a quote by John Lennon “I’m an artist, and if you give me a tuba, I’ll bring you something out of it.” The context for this quote was he was kind of knocking his own guitar playing (compared to someone like B.B. King), and kind of saying his strength is in getting his instrument to speak, or songwriting. I found it intriguing, as John obviously was not too keen on his guitar playing “chops” but he said in no uncertain terms : “I’m really very embarrassed about my guitar playing, in one way, because it’s very poor, I can never move, but I can make a guitar speak. I think there’s a guy called Richie Valens, no, Richie Havens, does he play very strange guitar? He’s a black guy that was on a concert and sang “Strawberry Fields” or something. He plays like one chord all the time. He plays a pretty funky guitar. But he doesn’t seem to be able to play in the real terms at all. I’m like that.” (more…)

a very good sermon on the Obergefell decision

Saturday, July 18th, 2015
No Gravatar

inspirational and true!

thinking >

Friday, April 17th, 2015
No Gravatar

Don’t shut up any avenue of your nature, let God come into every avenue, every relationship, and you will find the nightmare curse of “secular and sacred” will go.

With regard to other men’s minds, take all you can get, whether those minds are in flesh-and-blood editions or in books, but remember, the best you get from another mind is not the mind’s verdict, but its standpoint. Note the writers that provoke you to do the best mentally.

We have no business to limit God’s revelations to the bias of the human mind.

Truth is discerned by moral obedience. There are points in our thinking which remain obscure until a crisis arises in personal life where we ought to obey, immediately we obey the intellectual difficulty alters. Whenever we have to obey it is always in something immensely practical.

The first thing to go when you begin to think is your theology. If you stick too long to a theological point of view you become stagnant, without vitality.

Doubt is not always a sign that a man is wrong, it may be a sign he is thinking.

A logical position is satisfying to the intellect, but it can never be true to life. Logic is simply the method man’s intellect follows in making things definable to himself, but you can’t define what is greater than yourself.

Don’t run away with the idea that everything that runs contrary to your complacent scheme of things is of the devil.

Obedience is the basis of Christian thinking. Never be surprised if there are whole areas of thinking that are not clear, they never will be until you obey.

It takes a long time to get rid of atheism in thinking.


thoughts on study >

Friday, April 10th, 2015
No Gravatar

Study to begin with can never be easy; the determination to form systematic mental habits is the only secret. Don’t begin anything with reluctance.

Beware of any cleverness that keeps you from working. No one is born a worker; men are born poets and artists, but we have to make ourselves “laborers”.

The discipline of our mind is the one domain God has put in our keeping. It is impossible to be of any use to God if we are lazy. God won’t cure laziness, we have to cure it.

More danger arises from physical laziness than almost any other thing.

Inspiration won’t come irrespective of study, but only because of it. Don’t trust to inspiration, use your own “axe” (Psalm 74:5). Work! Think! Don’t luxuriate on the mount!

The demand for inspiration is the measure of our laziness. Do the things that don’t come by inspiration.

It is difficult to get yourself under control to do work you are not used to, the time spent seems wasted at first, but get at it again. The thing that hinders control is impulse.

Your mind can never be under your control unless you bring it there; there is no gift for control. You may pray till Doomsday but your brain will never concentrate if you don’t make it concentrate.

In the most superficial matters put yourself under control, your own control. Be as scrupulously punctual in your private habits as you would be in Government office.

Don’t insult God by telling Him He forgot to give you any brains when you were born. We all have brains, what we need is work.


Jan Van Eyck Crucifixion and Last Judgement

Friday, April 3rd, 2015
No Gravatar

The two panels may have been the wings of a triptych, but there is no certainty about that. In the 19th century the paintings were transferred from panel to canvas.

Three parts can be distinguished in the Crucifixion. The foreground shows weeping women. Under the crosses Van Eyck created a vivid scene with soldiers and others. In the top part the three crucified men are shown, with Jesus Christ in the center.

Perhaps the most remarkable part of the Crucifixion is the astonishing depth of the landscape behind the crosses. Van Eyck applied a splendid spatial perspective.

A vertical axis is the key to the composition of the Last Judgment: Christ as judge at the top, and archangel Michael controlling the underworld.

Next to Jesus are the virgin Mary and John the Baptist. They seem to float above the chosen, the dead that were allowed into Heaven.

No daylight enters the underworld where the doomed dwell for ever. It looks as if the dead enter Hell through the skeleton of Death. (copyright Art & Bible)

note: As we celebrate Christs triumph over death, I find the underworld reminder a somber reality often overlooked, but edifying nonetheless. Please click on the image to enlarge

thoughts on psalm 23

Sunday, February 8th, 2015
No Gravatar

[A Psalm of David.]

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

“Millions of people have memorized this psalm, even those who have learned few other Scripture portions. Ministers have used it to comfort people who are going through severe personal trials, suffering illness, or dying. For some, the words of this psalm have been the last they have ever uttered in life.” (Boice) (more…)

The Gospel to me is simply irresistible.

Monday, December 22nd, 2014
No Gravatar

Being the man I am, being full of lust and pride and envy and malice and hatred and false good, and all accumulated and exaggerated misery – to me the Gospel of the grace of God, and the Redemption of Christ, and the regeneration and sanctification of the Holy Ghost, that Gospel is to me simply irresistible, and I cannot understand why it is not equally irresistible to every mortal man born of woman.