— 1 —
As a rule I generally avoid reading through the comments after an internet article for two reasons: combox trolls and simply not having enough time. But I caught this one the other day and (to me anyway) after this article and I thought the comment provided an excellent description of the Bible.
I look at the Bible like an owner’s manual for life. The purpose of an owner’s manual (written by the designer and manufacturer) isn’t about telling you what not to do. It’s about telling you how you will maximize value and health of the product. My lawnmower owner’s manual doesn’t tell me I can’t use it to knock down corn stalks in my garden. However, that’s not the intended use so I can’t expect complete enjoyment of this product if I use it in a way it was not intended to be used. The Bible is beautiful in its elegant way that it instructs us how get the most fulfilling life according to the designer. Therefore, when someone says it tells us what positions and what not, it tells me they don’t have a real understanding of the Bible. They are railing against a caricature of the Bible. – (Paul W)
So many base their opinion of the Bible on what they think it says. Or they see it as a book of rules, of don’ts and can’ts and such. In other words they approach it from a negative viewpoint. I chose a long time ago to see it from the other vantage point and that has made all the difference.
— 2 —
Continuing down the quotation path, here are a few that have been sitting in my inbox:
“Reason can but speak. It is love that sings.” – Joseph de Maistre, French philosopher
“Satisfy your demand for reason always, but remember that charity is beyond reason and, and that God can be known through charity.” – Flannery O’Connor, Letter to Alfred Corn, June 16, 1962
“I had rather believe all the fables in the ‘Legend’ and the Talmud and the Alcoran then that this universal frame is without a mind. And therefore God never wrought miracle to convince atheism, because his ordinary works convince it.” – Sir Francis Bacon, “On Atheism” (essay from early 17th Century)
— 3 —
In early January I proclaimed on Facebook that 2014 would be a year of listening. I was reminded by a friend at our son’s high school baseball game the other night that I was blowing it. I’m still on Facebook and have opened a Twitter account. Yes, the end of the world is nigh, because TWITTER! Actually, I opened an account strictly for the purposes of reporting my oldest son’s baseball scores to news outlets. Otherwise I avoid it and once he’s done this fall I suspect I’ll delete the Twitter account.
Matt was right though. I’ve pretty much failed in my goal so far of listening twice as much as talking (or typing). This week at home we took delivery of three bookcases for our living room and I’m in the process of transferring books from downstairs to bring those that we want to read to an easier place of use on our fourteen new shelves. It has already brought a semblance of peace to our upstairs as it has caused us to be quicker in turning off the television and browsing for a book to read. The first quarter of the year is over but I still have nine months to listen.
— 4 —
Paradoxically I am a fan of big sound in other areas. The musical combination of orchestra and voice. It’s why I’ve always enjoyed progressive rock like Kansas, Pink Floyd, Yes or Genesis. Rock opera such as that performed by Queen, or more classical fare such as the Ode to Joy or O Fortuna.
My favorite pieces of music involve something else: the telling of a good story. This is where singer/songwriters such as Nanci Griffith, Lyle Lovett, Don Henley and Difford & Tilbrook (Squeeze) enter the arena.
I was going to write a vanity post of sorts at some point regarding Kansas as I’ve been reliving my childhood and teenage years by listening to their entire catalog this year, from 1974’s Kansas through the present. Until then, let’s talk musicals.
— 5 —
My daughter, like many daughters I imagine, simply cannot let it go. No, really…she cannot stop playing her soundtrack CD from Frozen and it’s driving her crazy that we haven’t purchased the DVD yet. (We have, but she doesn’t know she will receive it at Easter.)
Between her stints on Broadway where she won a Tony for her roles in RENT and Wicked, and winning an Oscar for Frozen, Idina Menzel took part in the twentieth anniversary concert and recording for the musical Chess. Now Chess was already my favorite musical as it was written by the two male members of ABBA, was a story ripped right out of the Cold War drama and the international intrigue of my youth, and was released as a fantastic Original Cast recording in the mid-1980s. I’ve never stopped playing it.
And then came this.
Chess in Concert was released to DVD in 2009. Filmed in London’s Royal Albert Hall it stars Menzel, Josh Groban, Adam Pascal, Kerry Ellis, the fifty-piece London Philharmonic, the London Studio Centre Dancers and 100-voice West End chorus. It is impossible for me to pick a selection for you here because there are so many standout songs and performances, so I’ll just start near the beginning with numbers that feature the orchestra, choir, Pascal and Menzel. If you have two hours it is worth your time to watch all sixteen “parts” that someone loaded to YouTube. It is well worth your time and money to order the DVD for yourself.
Chess has been called a cynical love story without the element of hope. If you grew up with the spectre of the cold war, détente and mutually assured destruction hanging over your heads then yes, this captures the era in which it takes place. But there is, of course, always hope, and the breathless beauty of the music and performances outshines the despair in my view.
The human spirit always endures. It always hopes.