Friday, November 20, 2015

Pink Floyd and "Ecclesiastics": "Let the Holy Spirit fill you.."

Backstory on Pink Floyd's "Great Gig in the Sky": of the Floyd's earliest uses of scripture didn't even make it on record. In 1972, the band was touring The Dark Side of the Moon, working out the kinks in what would become their studio masterpiece. Several of the songs were evolving during this period, but none quite as much as the track that would eventually become "The Great Gig in the Sky". On the album version, Clare Torry's memorable vocals evoke the wails of a death. But in the earliest live incarnations, the song was more about religion as yet another potential cause of madness. At one point, it was given the working title of "Ecclesiastics" {my note: also "mortality sequence"}

As Rick Wright provided some ominous, droning organ chords and flourishes (reminiscent, perhaps, of the organ music often used in church services), tape loops played speeches and sermons by various people--most notably Malcolm Muggeridge, who hosted a well-known religious talk show on the BBC at the time). Recordings of these performances suggest that there were several different speakers used on these tapes, and while the first bits were clearly bible texts, as the song progressed these were overtaken by prayer, commentary, and talk show discussion.

From these, I cannot determine which translation is being used. But here is the text of Ephesians 5:15-20 from the New Revised Standard Version:Sadly, many of these tapes are inaudible or undecipherable on the available audience recordings. One of the clearest comes from the February 20, 1972 show at London's Rainbow Theatre. Near the beginning, a man states "...we read from St. Paul's letter to the Ephesians chapter 5, verses 15 to 33." He then goes on to read the text, of which can be deciphered "Be us careful then how you conduct yourselves...", "Let the Holy Spirit fill you", "Speak to one another, sing and make music in your hearts to the Lord..." and a few other phrases.
Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The voice fades out around verse 19 or 20, so while verses 21 through 33 are mentioned, they were not actually heard in the context of the Floyd's performance.

During this reading, a second voice fades in and out with what seems to be a prayer: "Draw near to us in this time of worship... strengthen by thy spirit...".
Shortly thereafter is the passage known as the Lord's Prayer, taken from Matthew 6:9-13 (King James Version):
After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

The lines of the familiar prayer echo on top of one another, until they are all but unrecognizable.
This is replaced by another voice reciting "...courageously carry the torch of progress into the glorious future ... how, in a macabre sort of way, funny that the form that insubordination takes...". This is clearly a sermon or speech of some kind, rather than a biblical passage. This is followed by yet another voice, saying, "I only wish I could show you the numbers of letters which I have received in support of the Holy Father's decision...".

I won't try to interpret all of this too completely, but it is easy to see how the selected scriptures, prayers, and sermons might fit the Floyd's intended statement that religion drives one mad. The passage from Ephesians sets a high standard of morality and conduct, eschewing alcohol and debauchery. Efforts to live up to such a standard could certainly drive one to madness. (Note also the phrase "making the most of the time", which could have been taken directly from the lyrics of "Time".) The prayers are familiar and recited by rote rather than by heartfelt communication with God, and thus become a great cacophony devoid of all meaning.

The sermon consists of flowery language (e.g. "carry the torch of progress into the glorious future") that sounds pretty but amounts to little, and during this it seems that the sermon itself is drowned out by the braying of sheep. The implication is that religious churchgoers are little more than sheep who will be led anywhere the authority figures want them to go (an idea Waters would explore again in Animals). This idea is reinforced by the statement that people have been writing in to support the Church's official position on one matter or another. Thus, religion is portrayed not as an instrument of independent thought, but rather as an institution that exists only to churn out generation after generation of mindless followers.
Weighty stuff indeed. It would be another half decade before Pink Floyd would start making such bold, pointed statements on record. In scrapping all of the religious text in favor of the 'death and dying' instrumental that would find its way to the Dark Side album, the band managed to keep the subject matter more universal, thus broadening the album's appeal.  Mike McInnis , link

more on this:
See also:
-all posts labeled "Pink Floyd" below this post


Not (Just) About Dogs...and hangovers: call to worship by Pastor Roger Waters.

holy heteroclite:: Praying with Pink Floyd

May 1, 2007 - Why can't church be more like Pink Floyd lyrics? (like it used to be when Jews and Psalms informed us) I know; at their worst, they are pure ..

Monday, November 09, 2015

Which Tambourine Man? Which Hotel California?

Two great paragraphs in "Dancing in the Dark" (p, 294)  make us wonder about two songs: 
  • Dylan's "Tambourine Man" (vs. The Byrds' version)
  • The Eagles' "Hotel California"
These songs can "can work two ways: encourage people to dream...or they can foster just the opposite..."

.. Read here

"God Mocks: A History of Religious Satire from the Hebrew Prophets to Stephen Colbert"

Kind of shocking to see this page in the new Christianity Today!

It's a review of "God Mocks: A History of Religious Satire from the Hebrew Prophets to Stephen Colbert." The author  of that book (Terry Lindvall) also gives his Top 5 Works of Religious Satire.

Click here  for a  video where he discusses the book,

(Bonus news: Colbert makes an appearance in both Christianity Today and Leadership Journal this week!)

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

praying naked and unashamed.. but only in Latin America, facilitated by a suicide shower and waterlogged door

I ask the Lord that he gives us all the grace to strip ourselves.” - See more at:
I ask the Lord that he gives us all the grace to strip ourselves.”   link - See more at:
I ask the Lord that he gives us all the grace to strip ourselves.” - Pope Francis

"If you pray..then when you pray... pray naked."

-Mike Roe (lyics)

"Barbara Brown Taylor  suggests praying before a mirror, naked..She says this candidly, acknowledging that more readers will follow her suggestion in principle than in practice." -Christianity Today

"Eros will have naked bodiesFriendship naked personalities". - C. S.Lewis 

Yes, this is  real shower curtain for sale,  See the rest here.
It seems I am only able to pray naked while in Latin America.
(Not that I have tried it much on my home continent, but that's already TMI.  Here's a pic to click, I promise it's safe)  (:

Being in a 'suicide shower' in Paraguay helps facilitate such prayer times.

So does being  locked in the bathroom in Peru.

Those are two stories...with one point:

         We're always  spiritually naked anyway, so we
                                               might as well pray as if we were literally so.
b)On a more serious note. here's John Beddington:

When I was in seminary, some friends of mine designed a new t-shirt. They took the surfing phrase, “surf naked,” and changed it just a little. The new seminary t-shirt had the seminary logo, looking very stately and conservative, and then there under it in small, neat letters, it said very simply, “Pray naked.”The t-shirt did its job of getting everyone’s attention, but it also conveyed a deeper reminder: that it is when we are naked, when we are vulnerable, when we are powerless, when we are out of strength and out of options and out of ideas--- that’s when God has room to work. That’s when God moves in and takes over and shakes things up. That’s when God comes closest. That’s when God can begin to shape us, to lead us, and to make us into miracles.  link

I'm sure there are some too self-conscious to pray in the restroom, let alone while actively using the toilet.  For you, I recommend an experiment with this vintage Jewish  prayer from the Babylonian Talmud; noting the delightful double meaning of 'throne':

"Blessed is he who has formed man in wisdom in wisdom and created in him many orifices and cavities. It is fully known before the Throne of Thy glory that if one of them should be improperly opened or one of them closed it would be impossible for a man to stand before Thee." -link

And for those a bit concerned about  the validity and veracity of praying naked in any context (including the sex context), do check out the stories of
              St Francis     and
                            John White..

let alone Jesus..

                   for starters.  Your reading may reasonably be soundtracked by the 77s "not ready for church"  (though we once danced to a mens retreat) song, "Pray Naked"

And seriously..could anyone discount the  naked prayers of someone being  abused or raped?
How about those Christian men who were  recently beheaded and crucified..and their  wives allegedly praying the Lord's Prater..or just  smiling while saying "Jesus!" as they were publicly raped?

First story is posted below; it's an excerpt from a devotional  of mine on the U2 (ish) song "Falling at Your Feet" in which I retell the story

Blessed is he who has formed man in wisdom in wisdom and created in him many orifices and cavities. Is is fully know before the Throne of Thy glory that if one of them should be improperly opened or one of them closed it would be impossible for a man to stand before Thee." - See more at: was once locked in a bathroom shower in Peru, wearing nothing but my shock when I realized I was locked in, and no one was around to help.

......Suffice to say I was tired when Ken Metz picked me up in Lima something like seven hours later than scheduled.

And by the time we got to the bed-and-breakfast, even though I took the time to meet Jeff and Brenda in the kitchen, I agreed with Ken that I should get some rest in the room.  He promised they would leave me  alone untile they heard from me.

Soon I feared those words.

I couldn't sleep, so I figured I'd take  a shower, and head downstairs to see what the gang was doing.

I got out of the shower, and noticed the bathroom door had swung shut.

And no matter how hard I tried, I could not pry it open.

I assumed it was just temporarily waterlogged, so I waited a few minutes, 

It wouldn't budge.

I could always pry the hinges off..

If they weren't on the others side of the door!

I reached for my phone, to call Ken....and found that for the first time maybe ever, I didn't have my phone in the bathroom.

I reached for my clothes, ....and found that for the first time maybe ever, I didn't have my clothes in the bathroom.

The door was still not moving. 

I glanced up at the window, where at least I could call for help...or climb a  towel! 

The window was far too small to climb out (thank God), and no one was around in the alley (blame; I mean thank God.)

It was then i remembered Ken's kindly promise to leave me alone forever!

(all fall down) how might i be still 

I still don't remember how long it took; it felt like hours, and might have even been one, before I tried the door one last time and it opened Houdini-style.

But somehow, and sovereignly, I was given grace in that interim stretch of time to not freak out; but to trust that I had received teh gift of an unscheduled peaceful moment; a quiet time, if you will.

(all fall down) how to navigate
(all fall down) how to simply be
(all fall down) to know when to wait
(all fall down) this plain simplicity
(all fall down) in Whom shall i trust
(all fall down) how might i be still
(all fall down) teach me to surrender
(all fall down) not my will, Thy will

And there in my towel, I fell down at Jesus' feet and trusted.

Perhaps I was being prepared for the mountaintop experience of a few days later.
(see Video and Write-Up: Reversing the Curse in Peru_)
Or for what Iwoud learn the day after that ( se the moving video:Pastors don't always tell congregation their needs)

It was time to wait (:

I think I even heard some female voices in the alley, but  counterintuitively decided I wouldn't yell them down to recruit help.   After all, I hadn't finished my devotions.

Such is often the story of my life: boxed in; trapped...naked and alone with no resources.

In a prison of my own making.

You see, the reason the door had slammed shut is this:

While in the shower, I heard a voice in the hallway outside the door, and maybe even heard a knock.
I was a bit embarrassed about being in the shower; and I didn't want anyone to hear me, so I reached out and pushed the door closed.

Thus does my shame operate: it closes doors that are my salvation.

- Full naked story:

I quickly googled to see if anyone had had a simlilar experience, or if being locked in while naked  was just a special gift of God for me.  I found it seemed pretty rare (or rarely reported), but was just stuff of fiction.  Check out this pic from a hotel in Kenya; it;s how the hotel staff left the door after someone else had been "stuck in a moment {they} can't get out of":

This photo of Mt. Kenya Leisure Lodge is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Second story...from Paraguay.

I have many stories from Paraguay..some have been told (here  and here).. some probably won't be..

But here's one I glean from.
No, it's NOT the story I am seem telling the local Paraguayan kids in this photo.

I often received a mild shock while in the shower in Paraguay.

No, not the symbolic shock at seeing my unclean self in the shower: a literal shock which the  shower gave me.

Sometimes I even encountered an eerie and anonymous blue  electrical glow while in the shower there; it almost made me run out into the yard in the suit I got for my birthday, where several parishioners were hanging out ("Ohm hi pastor..good to..uh, see you!").

If you have ever showered in Latin America, you know about the "suicide showers." It would be easy to see them as a satanic strategy..but I came to see them as a Divine Gift.  (Besides, satan didn't create Peter Gabriel, though that case has been made .
And even if the devil is behind them, who is behind the devil?  Ask Martin Luther) I mean, what else causes you to INVOLUNTARILY pray your heart out?

Wil explains:

Some areas of the world have particular things that define them, and although a good idea they are only found in one continent or region and nowhere else. This even applies to electrical appliances and for Central and South America one of the defining bathroom fixtures is the Suicide Shower. I was first told about them by some American friends in London who told me to watch out for a contraption that fits over the shower head and is plugged into the electric mains. Pretty scary until you get used to them, I was told.

The idea behind suicide showers is to provide hot water where the plumbing system does not run to a hot water boiler, which is the norm in most of tropical America. The water is heated inside the shower head and usually provides a constant and dependable stream of hot water. Getting the stream of water right is something of an art that comes with practice, if the water flow is low it will come out boiling hot, too high and it’s only lukewarm. Controlling the flow to the optimum level can take some time and in some hotels there are detailed instructions on the back of the bathroom door.

Of course the really scary thing about suicide showers is that they combine that lethal combination of water and electricity. They need a lot of power in order to work and so are wired straight into the mains; you know they are working because when you turn on the water all the lights go dim. Being South America you can buy one of these things in any hardware store and simply wire it up yourself using a few bits of insulation tape. Some of the bodge jobs I’ve seen have been truly terrifying, like you really feel you are taking your life in your hands. Do I really want to be clean that much? Sometimes when you turn the water up too quickly, an electric blue flash comes out of the side of the shower head and you really feel - this is it. One of the guide books says that they are perfectly safe as long as you don’t fiddle with them and I have only ever experienced a mild shock off one, so this does seem to be true. -Wil

Being shocked/shellshocked  in the shower, and hearing a curse word and/or prayer leave my mouth even left me somewhat content that at least I knew who to call on in time of need (:
As our worship leader on the trip found out by leading music nakedly..
I only have one sermon, you know..
And Pastor(a) Alannis once preached it naked, too...

Ready to go to South America?
Read this:

How to Survive a Suicide Shower



PS: A related  "Latin American shower as spiritual formation story I found online:

The second time I showered outside, I asked again, “Are you sure no one is in the house across the street?” “Yes, we’re sure,” came the reply; “no one is at home now. And yes, the street is a cul-de-sac.” I thought of a long-ago camping trip, when I’d chanced to change into my bathing suit on a grassy hillock, with only a meadow for walls and the sky for a roof. I felt free, the warm sunshine reflecting off my pale skin, bathing me in warmth. Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay “Nature” came to mind: “Standing on the bare ground, — my head bathed by the blithe air, and uplifted into infinite space, — all mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eye-ball; I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or particle of God.”

Unlike that moment in the grass, I was not standing on bare ground, but on a wet tile floor. Maybe it was that solid floor that got in the way, but I didn’t feel any particles of God while standing in that shower with a looming house across the street. I just felt spooked, and it wasn’t the spooky feeling of holy dread or wonder, either. If’ I’d wanted a religious experience, this was not the right place to find one.

The third time I showered, I still didn’t feel like a transparent eyeball. I did try to relax. It helped to keep my back turned to the house; that way I could pretend no one might be behind me — certainly no not-so-transparent eyeballs that might chance to be in the vicinity. It helped to look very carefully just at the beautiful tropical plants surrounding two-thirds of the shower. Sunlight poured over them. Insects buzzed in their branches, and the tanagers still perched there too, their beady eyes still regarding me curiously. But when I turned further around, which I had to do to get the conditioner out of my hair, I saw the house and the street again. I knew full well that if there’d been the smallest hint of a particle of God nearby (or even just a neighbor, masquerading as the presence of the divine), I’d grab the nearest towel and, with the water still on, throw it over myself with all the convenience of a fig leaf.

After that final shower, as I retreated inside once again, it occurred to me that religious experiences might be best left for more fully-dressed occasions.
-Showering in Eden by Emily R Mace

See also:
everyone naked at this church but Jesus