Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Fable of the Horse and the Stag

Aesop: AT ONE TIME the Horse had the plain entirely to himself. Then a Stag intruded into his domain and shared his pasture. The Horse, desiring to revenge himself on the stranger, asked a man if he were willing to help him in punishing the Stag. The man replied that if the Horse would receive a bit in his mouth and agree to carry him, he would contrive effective weapons against the Stag. The Horse consented and allowed the man to mount him. From that hour he found that instead of obtaining revenge on the Stag, he had enslaved himself to the service of man.

Question: Which of the three characters in the fable would you replace with "America"?
Question: Which would you replace with "Bin Ladin"?
Question: Which would you replace with "Pakistan"?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


21 years ago this month I was in Nashville, Tennessee.   Beside the stage door of the Ryman Auditorium is another door.  And going through that door is like stepping into a different world, a world where only music matters.  I walked into Gruhn Guitars to sell the little Martin guitar my mother gave me when I was 16.  She got it from my uncle Harry Powers.  He had a guitar but wanted an organ.  My mother had an organ but wanted a guitar.  About forty years before that Harry Powers was leaving Bible college and needed to sell the trailer he was living in.  Roy M. Chapell, who later in life would be the head of the PCG, had just arrived at Bible college but didn't have a place to live.  But he had a guitar.  They traded: Guitar for trailer.  How it killed me to say good-by to that guitar.  But I had two little boys and no money to pay the rent.  But there was consolation.  Gruhn Guitars was like nothing I'd ever seen.  I opened the door and was overwheled by the music.  It was like an unending song as customer after customer, some of the best musicians in the world, picked up instruments to join in the symphony and test the instruments.  I only knew 13 or 14 chords and none of them were F.  So, I wasn't nearly good enough to join in that music.  But I could listen and be amazed.  And I knew someone better than me would get my guitar and make better music.  I know Vince Gill, Eric Clapton, and Amy Grant have bought guitars there.  So, though I have always been sad for my loss, I've also thought that, maybe, the little Martin guitar was on its way to its telos that day, and I was comforted by that. And by having a roof over my family's head for a couple of more months.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Cecelia: A Saturday Soundtrack Post

Some people think this song is about a songwriter's relationship with St. Ceclia, a patron saint of musicians.  I have no idea if that is true, or not, but I've always liked the song.  In the spring of 1986 I and a few other of Drill Sergeant McCain's privates in 1st platoon, B-4-5 at Ft. Dix New Jersey began singing it, and before we knew it, the whole platoon was marching around us in circle.  Yes, we had turned a Simon and Garfunkel song into an Army marching cadence.

Friday, May 06, 2011

It's not Saturday but, what the heck, here's part of the Soundtrack.

Not too long ago I was in the bathroom of a certain establishment on Hwy 9.  The walls and ceilng of the the bathroom were covered with album covers from the late '60s and early '70s, which was a very amazing time in the music business.  It seemed like everyone knew everyone else.  For example, Delaney and Bonnie, who  were connected to Eric Clapton (Clapton said Delaney taught him how to sing.), Rita Coolidge, George Harrison, Joe Cocker, and many others worked as backup musicians for Delaney and Bonnie, and their concerts were known as some of the best parties in the world.

For a band that was so deeply enmeshed in the music scene of the time, that was so influential in the later careers of so many, Clapton and Harrison especially, you'd think more people would know about them, that their songs would get more airplay on the "oldies" stations.  Well, you know how there are bands that can only make records but flop when they perform live?  Delaney and Bonnie had the opposite problem.  Jerry Wexler said the studio album they recorded for him "didn't quite catch the fire of their live performances".   None of their albums did.

Delaney and Bonnie divorced in 1973.  Their daughter Bekka Bramlett joined Fleetwood Mac in the 1990s.

This song, Never Ending Song of Love, has been recorded by everyone.  And almost everyone's recording of it is better than Delaney and Bonnie's original.   It is part of their 1971 album Motel Shot, which was recorded "live" in the studio with only acoustic instruments.  It was an attempt to catch the fire of their live performances.   The album cover was stapled above and to the left of the wash basin in the bathroom.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Obtaining Mercy

Every Sunday we hear that Jesus said, "Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy."  But sometimes it is hard to be merciful.  If we give money to a charity, such as Feed the Children, can we be sure we are being merciful?  Or, is most of the money given being spent on fundraising and salaries of employees?  

Thankfully, the Church does give us guidelines to help us be merciful, and in many instances, it seems to me, these works of mercy are best performed by individuals or by by families, but not by large charity organizations, or even by parishes.    

The corporal works of mercy:
  • To feed the hungry;
  • To give drink to the thirsty;
  • To clothe the naked;
  • To harbour the harbourless;
  • To visit the sick;
  • To ransom the captive;
  • To bury the dead.

The spiritual works of mercy:
  • To instruct the ignorant;
  • To counsel the doubtful;
  • To admonish sinners;
  • To bear wrongs patiently;
  • To forgive offences willingly;
  • To comfort the afflicted;
  • To pray for the living and the dead.

Of these, it seems to me, that only burying the dead requires group effort, unless one is unusually rich and able to buy land for the poor.