Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Kingdom violence: WWSD?

Here is audio of a message I gave several years ago at a home gathering on an intriguing text:

"From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence,
and the violent take it by force."  Matthew 11:12

...at least, that's  how the NRSV styles it.

One of the  several  "gnotty" issues with this text is that translations take it in several different...even contradictory... ways.

Of course, "Whatsup with the violence here?" must be tackled.  How do we deal with the violence in the text without doing violence to the text?

This was
my  somewhat successful tab at looking at this text sans versitis, catching the context,  giving midrash  a voice in the mix, and throwing out a working interpretation of a tough text.

One thing I do here,  as I have done for some time now--even in much more formal "sermons"-- is letting the saints speak.. so Kevin,  Ivana, Scott, St John,
 Bobby, Sonya and Keltic Ken et al drop into the message vital points that would have been missed had I just been the talking head.

I love open source/open sores church.

Eugene Peterson: "megachurches are not churches"

Eugene Peterson:

"I think the thing that’s most disturbing is the megachurch.
                                   because megachurches are not churches. 
My feeling is that when you’re a pastor, 
                         you know the people’s names.
 When 5,000 people come into the church,
                         you don’t know anybody’s name.

 I don’t think you can be a pastor 
                       with just a bunch of anonymous people out there. 
In the megachurch, well, there’s no relationship with anybody.
 I think the nature of the church is relational. 
If you don’t know these people that you’re praying with
                                                                      and talking with
                                                                      and listening to, 
                                                                                      what do you have?
 I feel pretty strongly about that."

Sunday, June 25, 2017

I almost made the Guinness Book of World Records for shortest sermon ever..

Posting this article  here, since Salt Fresno website went offline.
If you need to enlarge, click/right click, open new tab  and click again

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

building a fence around the law..or a hack around the elevator

As a follow-up to my sabbath elevator post--

  • I'll never forget taking the elevator from our towering Jerusalem hotel room down to the lobby for breakfast one Saturday.

    Not only could I not push the lobby button,

    but the elevator stopped automatically on every floor.
    I wondered if I would make it down for lunch.

    When I ordered, I realized that the waitress was not writing down any orders;
    even the most complicated ones.

    Writing was "work" on the sabbath,
    as was pushing elevator buttons....link

--I should have known there was a way to --as the rabbis say--

"build a fence around the law" of no regular elevators on the

 Here it is below... it's a hack!

 See also:

Halakhot of Lakeview: Elevators on Shabbat

Can You Really Skip Floors on EVERY Elevator with this Life Hack?


Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Kultur and Quixotism; epistemology and esthetic, comic and cosmic

I can't  even explain it,

 and don't have the right and rapt metaphor for it,
but reading Unamuno in English
                       --as rewarding as it is--

pales compared to reading the original Spanish.
(I've been that way ever since I was in the Spanish Musical at Liverpool High School, and wrote my first Poe-ish limerick en espanol ..It's  St. Bobbi's fault).

Es una menita como una catedral...


I must agree that all translation is largely messianic, betrayal...

                           and AT WORST is actual  messianic betrayal.

Translation is inevitably una mentira  como una catedral, ese.

(for fun, see these links on my misadventures in  bilingual life:
See this section below, for example..

I love Unamuno's insights on Quixote

 (BTW, how ironic...quixotic, rather... that after 17 years of false strarts and endings, the famous/infamous Quixote film is finally finished),

 So here it is, a loaded section in Unamuno, From "The Tragic Sense of Life, pp 288-87 
(or better yet,  en espanol at the click:"Del Sentamiento Tragico de La Vida" pp, 265-66):

Don Quixote journeyed alone, alone with Sancho, alone with his solitude.  And shall we not also journey alone, we his lovers, creating for ourselves a Quixotesque Spain which only exists in our imagination?
And again we shall be asked:  What has Don Quixote bequeathed to Kultur?  I answer:  Quixotism, and that is no little thing!  It is a whole method, a whole epistemology, a whole esthetic, a whole logic, a whole ethic—­above all, a whole religion—­that is to say, a whole economy of things eternal and things divine, a whole hope in what is rationally absurd.
For what did Don Quixote fight?  For Dulcinea, for glory, for life, for survival.  Not for Iseult, who is the eternal flesh; not for Beatrice, who is theology; not for Margaret, who is the people; not for Helen, who is culture.  He fought for Dulcinea, and he won her, for he lives.
And the greatest thing about him was his having been mocked and vanquished, for it was in being overcome that he overcame; he overcame the world by giving the world cause to laugh at him.

And today? Today he feels his own comicness and the vanity of his endeavours so far as their temporal results are concerned; he sees himself from without—culture has taught him to objectify himself, to alienate himself from himself instead of entering into himself—and in seeing himself from without he laughs at himself, but with a bitter laughter. Perhaps the most tragic character would be that of a Margutte of the inner man, who, like the Margutte of Pulci, should die of laughter, but of laughter at himself. E ridera in eterno, he will laugh for all eternity, said the Angel Gabriel of Margutte. Do you not hear the laughter of God?

The mortal Don Quixote, in dying, realized his own comicness and bewept his sins; but the immortal Quixote, realizing his own comicness, superimposes himself upon it and triumphs over it without renouncing it.

And Don Quixote does not surrender, because he is not a pessimist, and he fights on. He is not a pessimist, because pessimism is begotten by vanity, it is a matter of fashion, pure intellectual snobbism, and Don Quixote is neither vain nor modern with any sort of modernity (still less is he a modernist), and he does not understand the meaning of the word "snob" unless it be explained to him in old Christian Spanish. Don Quixote is not a pessimist, for since he does not understand what is meant by the joie de vivre he does not understand its opposite. Neither does he understand futurist fooleries. In spite of Clavileno,[68] he has not got as far as the aeroplane, which seems to tend to put not a few fools at a still greater distance from heaven. Don Quixote has not arrived at the age of the tedium of life, a condition that not infrequently takes the form of that topophobia so characteristic of many modern spirits, who pass their lives running at top speed from one place to another, not from any love of the place to which they are going, but from hatred of the place they are leaving behind, and so flying from all places: which is one of the forms of despair.

But Don Quixote hears his own laughter, he hears the divine laughter, and since he is not a pessimist, since he believes in life eternal, he has to fight, attacking the modern, scientific, inquisitorial orthodoxy in order to bring in a new and impossible Middle Age, dualistic, contradictory, passionate. Like a new Savonarola, an Italian Quixote of the end of the fifteenth century, he fights against this Modern Age that began with Machiavelli and that will end comically. He fights against the rationalism inherited from the eighteenth century. Peace of mind, reconciliation between reason and faith—this, thanks to the providence of God, is no longer possible. The world must be as Don Quixote wishes it to be, and inns must be castles, and he will fight with it and will, to all appearances, be vanquished, but he will triumph by making himself ridiculous. And he will triumph by laughing at himself and making himself the object of his own laughter.  Unamuno

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Fractious, Elegaic Destruction and Redemption While French-Kissing a Light Socket

T shirt link
"Ashes to ashes
 Dust to dust 
 Jesus Christ and Lazarus
 They'd always have faith in the foretold healing.
Some buildings are built to be broken
Some buildings appear to be broken

No, I wouldn't have it any other way"-
- link

Must be the band ¡Forward, Russia!    (¡FФЯWДЯD, RUSSIД!)

           (Can I type that online without getting hacked?)

The band's music has been described as "art rock", "contemporary agit-punk", and "high-octane dance-punk".[7][20][21] When Give Me a Wall was released, the band received comparisons with Bloc Party, while the NME described them as sounding "like a peculiarly English take on emo".[20][22] The band's second album was described by Pitchfork Media as "a curious mélange of studied dance-punk and flailing hardcore".[23]

Jon Pareles, reviewing a live performance from 2006 in The New York Times stated "[their] songs aren't content with verse and chorus; they're packed with incident, and they're propelled by the indefatigable drumming of Katie Nicholls. Instruments unite for muscular, danceable funk, then splay apart like a fist suddenly opening."[24]

Woodhead's vocals were described as "post hardcore operatic screeching".[25]

Seattle Weekly:

..dramatic and unique. Driving melodies and math-rock rhythms found throughout drive the musical complexity of the group and the album...

The maelstrom of sound behind vocalist and keyboardist Tom Woodhead isolates the piercing clarity of his voice. When he shoots into falsetto, Only rarely will he allow himself to dip into the frenzy, but when he does the raw desperation is poetic.

Their sound is one thing, fairly easy to understand and enjoy, but the themes are something else entirely.

The lyrics can seem nonsensical and disconnected at times, but when taken in context of the song and album as a whole, are impressive. As a concept album describing the facets of life — from fear to love to hate to confusion to acceptance — "Life Processes" has a literary quality and tries to be exactly as it's named.  link


dramatic and verbose. Religious icons, regret, pitchforks and satellites all somehow find their way onto the album without sounding false, which is saying something after a debut that didn’t even have song titles.  link
Drowned in Sound:

Despite being a cliché of the laziest type, the idea of the ‘difficult’ second album is one that has endured simply because so many bands seem to be unable to avoid falling into its trap. Leeds’ ¡Forward Russia! launched themselves into so many people’s hearts two years ago with Give Me A Wall, an album so tightly coiled that every one of its enigmatic songs seemed to be bursting under the force of its own tension. It was a collection of songs defined by the whip-crack of drummer Katie’s snare and hi-hat, which meant that while it was instantly recognisable as part of the post-DFA dance/punk buzz it stood out enough for it to be a still-stunning work that can justifiably be called of the best debuts of the century so far.

And Life Processes is by no means a sequel; it feels more like the work of an entirely different band.

 ...the lyric “Did you ever study the Israelites? / They made a new life for themselves with such a peculiar change” – is anyone really going to be able to reply in the affirmative? ..

The real gem of the album. ‘Spanish Triangles’ has already been unveiled – all nine minutes of it – but it demonstrates a stunning calmness and fluidity. It builds slowly, powerfully but effortlessly, growing organically into itself. It’s worth noting that ‘Gravity & Heat’, for example, is almost three minutes shorter but feels much longer – ‘Spanish Triangles’ is the real culmination of their work post-…Wall and stands as the impressive, brilliant centrepiece. And ‘Don’t Reinvent What You Don’t Understand’, one of the shortest songs on the album, managed to move from one-two dance-punk to something undeniably epic, helped no end by Whiskas’ chiming guitars that seem air-lifted in direct from Explosions In The Sky’s Those Who Tell The Truth… era. And ‘Some Buildings’ is a three-minute lament stretched gloriously out for almost seven minutes, again given the chance to breath and mutate on its own. It doesn’t cut right to the feet like their earlier material but instead takes up residence in the gut, and by the third time you hear it all doubts will be blown away.  link

Did you ever study the Israelites?
They made a new life for themselves
With such a peculiar change
A key geographic or dietary switch
Could do just the same for us
So don't go draw the blinds link

Well, I came late to this band.  They're either broken up or on hiatus (re-emerged in 2013-14 and disappeared again).  So I'll load this  shamelessly clickbaited headline and post with review excerpts hoping to catch a critical mass of folk who will hear, pray and beg the band to at least make their third massive critical album.  Because, as  is said of the  pregnant and potentially prescient second album:

the end result, though diverting, is a slightly uncomfortable mid-point between the two albums. And Life Processes could quite possibly be a transitional album, a first step in a bigger, bolder direction that doesn’t quite let go of Give Me a Wall‘s quirks;

only time will tell.....  link

Where are the bandmembers now? 

The literate singer/lyricist/brainchild ...

The only  walking thesauraus 
(and from the Bono school of stealth-embedding Bible references in lyrics)
 capable of a lyric like.. 

"Choose life/

We all can lean on figures and crutches/

It's such an easy thing to do when you're so unaware/

We all can change our tegument's function/

Replace the outer shell with something more neoteric link

...now runs a  mixing studio , and seems to run the band's active Facebook page.  I hope he is  life is happy and his tegument is neoteric.

The  drummer  (I hope Rolling Stone has included her in its list of drummers to know (See:
 drummer so badass he makes Keith Moon sound like your mom playing Rock Band. (Ghost of Keith Moon, please don't haunt us).".

She says:

“Working at college is great. I get the same holidays as the teachers, and the kids are so funny. Sometimes I interrupt them when they’re talking about music, and they look at me as if to say, ‘As if you know anything!’”  link
The guitar player (brother to the drummer) is now part of  Duels.

The bass player?  Someone thought this was his Twitter.  I'm not sure it is: but the bio is priceless: "Father. Husband. Guy who poops."

Maybe someday they will Google themselves, 

                  find this post, 
                            and come back for more.

In the meantime, enjoy this Spotify sampler  playlist.
(I  didn't check his  vital Spotify playlists, but I bet Paul Leader already knows about this band )

Some vintage video interviews here.

We are becoming devoted children
And I am becoming like all good children
Yes we are becoming devoted children
We are set in our ways

As God turns away

Then this is a standard of silence
That you can expect to receive
All discontentment reduced and surrendered
They are bleeding the night
Bleeding the night
Bleeding the night for themselves  link