Friday, February 13, 2009

10 Songs

It looks like it is time for 10 Songs to make an appearance so here goes. I've been grooving to some new music to me and some really old songs that I've seen in a movie or two that have left a lasting imprint in my mind so here are 10 Songs currently in heavy rotation on my iPod:

1. When the Crying is Over-Ian MacLagan and the Bump Band.
Ian is a studio musician who has played on many and album that you've more than likely listened to. His voice is rough in an enchanting way. This song, as all songs from the album which it's on, is a tribute to his late wife. The whole album is a testimony to his love for her and the impact she had on his life. Anyone who has lost a loved will relate to this song, no doubt, but they will find hope in it. It is not maudlin in any way. I love this song.

2. The Wrestler-Bruce Springsteen
When I first heard this song I wept and had goose bumps all over. I thought that The Boss had been following my life for the past few years as it seemed to be written about my journeys of late. But Bruce has a way of striking a chord that resonates in most everybody's lives. It's from the movie THE WRESTLER which I have yet to see but plan on seeing it soon. Anyway, this song has a beauty of it's own which also, to me at least, ends on a high note of hope. We've all been down but the the wrestler in all of us gets back up for another round. I am ready for another round in life too.

3. If I Didn't Care-The Ink Spots
I heard this when I was watching one of THE top 10 movies of all time, THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION. It's played right at the beginning when Andy Dufresne is contemplating killing his wife. The song is from the 1940s and is lovely. If I could travel back in time I would pay a visit to the 1930s and 1940s just to drink in the culture and entertainment. I love this song.

4. Time Has Told Me-Nick Drake
So you don't know who Nick Drake is? Well shame on you! He is no longer amongst the living and past away back in 1974. Read all about him on the link above. This song is beautiful and really brings out the "doomed romanticism" that has labeled Drake's music from the beginning. It was reported after Heath Ledger's untimely passing that he was in the process of working on a biopic about Drake. Sadly they both died in the same fashion and far too early.

5. Running to Stand Still-U2
From, arguably, their best album ever, The Joshua Tree. This song has haunting lyrics and the twangy guitar in it evokes a mood of hope in the face of despair, even if that hope is slight it still is there. Any song on this album could be picked as their best ever, it just so happens that this song is currently being listened to by me on my iPod. Give it a try.

6. I've Got a Feeling-The Beatles
What a great rocking song by The Fab Four! The more they matured together as a band the deeper the sound of their songs became. Their talents really shone as they grew more comfortable in them and the singing by both Paul and John is top notch. It is infectious and makes me want to belt it out with all that I've got!

7. Dixie Chicken (Live)-Little Feat
I may have had this song on one of my lists before and having it here again just shows how fantastic a song this is. I love the live version (off of their Waiting for Columbus album) because most live versions of song have a little extra umph to them, as if those songs went all the way up to 11!

8. Cornman-Kinky
OK, so this is an interesting mix of salsa and pop. It gets under your skin and really is something that you will be humming all day. And where did I find this gem? Well I bought my oldest boy the video game Little Big Planet which is an incredible game with a killer soundtrack. This song is from that game. He asked me if it was on iTunes and Lo and Behold it was. Give it a listen and you will probably end up buying it. It's a great workout song too.

9. World in My Eyes (Cicada Mix)-Depeche Mode
Who doesn't love the Mode? A friend suggested this song recently and I found a few different versions on iTunes. This one has a driving beat and reminded me of my club days of the mid 1980s where I would mousse my hair up, slip on my bowling shoes for dancing and go wild! Oh, yeah! Bring the 80s back!

10. Fly by Night-Rush
Very few things have come out of Canada that are really worthwhile. In fact Canada is really the 51st state of the US, or America Light if you prefer. However, Rush is one of the few exceptions. To me, this group never really got its due but man how they could rock. Fly by Night is just one of many gems offered up by this group. Rock on my Canadian neighbors, rock on!

All songs, except for The Beatles offering, can be found at iTunes. Just click on its name and you will be magically transported there. Have fun!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Shiva H. Vishnu

I am not a holy roller by any means. Even though I have a Masters of Divinity and was pastor of several churches I never was one who would ever be mistaken for a monk cloistered away in a monastery praying and chanting and making fruit cake or some other tasty treat. I've been told that I am "real" though I don't know what that means or if it is a compliment. I am not one to force feed my faith and love of God and His salvation offered through the redemptive death and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ upon others. And while I believe that, as Christ Himself has said, that no one can come to Father except through the Son, I don't cut off relationships with people who believe otherwise. I have many non-believing friends but I don't base my friendship on a common faith. Maybe that makes me a poor witness for the cause of Christ, but make no mistake: I do pray for them to allow Christ into their lives.

With all that said (and it sure doesn't make me a saint in anyway) there are things that bug me to no end and the biggest one is the taking of the Lord's name in vain. I hear that all the time in most places that I go. I hear it on TV, and read it in books and magazines. I read it in emails and such. And the thing that gets me is that Christ's name is abused over and over and over again by people who have no idea just how powerful that name is.

I started a counter movement after some of my requests to people I know were ignored as to how I am offended when Jesus' name is used as a curse instead of a blessing. To show how ridiculous it is to use His name in that manner I started feigning anger from time to time and shouting, "Shiva H. Vishnu!" or "Mohammed H. Allah!" or "Zeus H. Apollo!" People looked at me like I was crazy (maybe I am) but then I pointed out how ridiculous it is to use Jesus Christ's name in the same manner. Some have stopped doing that, in front me at least, while others don't care if they are offensive.

Another thing that I don't understand is that nobody uses any other deity's name in the same manner. Why? Why don't they do that? What has Christ done to them that they need to disparage His name so much? I am not talking about the Church or some wayward minister here. I am talking about Christ Himself. What has He done to them? And then it hit me that the Bible talks about the power of Jesus name.

Philippians 2:5-11 says the following:

5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father. New International Version

There is power in the name of Christ and sadly many people are unaware of that as they are using His name as a curse, and indeed they are cursing themselves in that manner without even knowing it.

Nobody uses Allah, Shiva, Vishnu, or any other god's name in the way that they drag Jesus Christ's name through the mud. Partly it is due to their disdain for Christianity but partly because if they did use one of these names in that manner there would be many believers of those names taking up arms against those who profane their deity. Remember a few years back when Muslims were wanting to kill a Danish cartoonist for drawing Mohammed in a cartoon(and he is just a prophet in that religion)? I am not advocating taking the names of those deities in vain, what I am advocating is leaving Christ's name alone.

So there it is. My project to stop people from offending others by profaning Jesus Christ's name and using it as a curse.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Doorman or Just Good Manners

My dad is a gentleman. Even though he grew up on the mean streets of New York City and is street smart he is still very much a gentleman. He is kind and very gracious and literally would give the shirt of his back for someone in need. I've seen him do things that people today call random acts of kindness but back in the day when I was a kid it was just called doing the right thing, though some would call it manners. My dad taught my brother and me how to be a gentleman and to respect others and to not be self-centered.

My dad was, and very much still is at the age of 73, a door holder. When entering a building he holds doors open for ladies, but also for the elderly and anyone around. My brother and I learned that from him at a very early age. "Ladies first," I would hear him say. When I was about 6 years old my mom took some night courses at the Berkeley Secretarial School in White Plains, New York (though now I think that it is just Berkeley College). Back in the late 60s and early 70s the school was made up of 99% women. One night my dad dropped my mom off for class and we rode around White Plains for a while but got back quite a bit early to pick up my mom (my dad is EXTREMELY punctual. If he has to be somewhere at 6PM and the appointment is only 30 minutes drive from where he lives he will indeed leave at 4PM so as not to be late-this drove me nuts as a kid).

Well since we had some time to kill we went to the cafeteria where he was going to buy my brother and me a soda. So there we were in this cafeteria and as I went to get a glass for the soda fountain when I looked up I saw that I had fallen way behind my dad and brother and a woman was behind me. "Ladies first," echoed in my mind so I, trying to be  a gentleman, let her go ahead of me. And then I looked up and saw another woman and let her go too, as I did with the third woman, and then the fourth. Next thing I knew I saw a steady line of women standing there and I was trapped by my desire to do the right thing. Each lady commented on what a gentleman I was so how could I not let them continue to stream past me? The next thing I know is that I saw my dad turn around and looked back to where I was and he let out a laugh and then came and saved me. It was a pretty funny experience but it kind of shook me as a 6 year old.

However, I still hold doors and let ladies go first no matter what their age may seem. From elderly ladies I hear comments such as, "Wow, a gentleman still exists!", or "How refreshing to see someone with manners." From women my age I will hear the occasional, "Thank you." Yet from young women I hear nothing at all and that always makes me wonder why their parents aren't teaching them manners.

I am absolutely amazed at when I see a young couple coming towards a door as I am leaving an establishment and go to hold the door open for them and the guy cuts in first before the woman he is with. I usually say something like, "What a gentleman you are." I once had a lady yell at me for holding the door open for her. "Don't you think I can open a door for myself? You need to stop that anachronistic behavior." I replied, "I am sure that you can open your own door Ma'am. I hear you roar so you must be woman. However, my father taught me to do this as a small gesture of honor for women and all that they do. Forgive me for trying to honor you." She looked at me and her demeanor changed and she ended up apologizing to me. I then called her a whore! NO I didn't at all but just thought that would be funny to write there.

I have instilled, what my father instilled in my brother and me, in my three sons. Anytime we head somewhere and they are walking towards a door and there is a lady present or an elderly person I softly say, "Be a gentleman," and they know what to do. I hope that they will continue that without prompting because it seems like their generation is one where manners, courtesy, common sense is sorely lacking and we are to blame for not expecting that from our children. Why is it so hard for us to be civil to one another? Why can't courtesy be an instinct instead of an oddity? Why is it that manners are foreign to us? To me it is little things like the death of theses things that signal, like gigantic waving red flags, that our society is on the decline and our country is spiraling downward. Things can change because we have the power to change them, but do we really want to, and do we really want to be BOTHERED by it all? If we see it as a BOTHER then I think that we have our answer already.

Just some things to think about.