Archive for October, 2009

Jitterbugger is at home in sick bay today, but it’s OK because we got Ray Price doing Bob Wills swing music to get us through. (You don’t want Ray Price blues music when you’re sick, believe me. He does such blue blues you’ll go suicidal if you hear it when you’re sick or in a funk.)
About Ray Price . . . .
He was a roommate and running buddy of Hank Williams.
His C&W band “The Cherokee Cowboys” included very young talents in fifties by the names of Willie Nelson, Roger Miller and Johnny Paycheck.
No less a musical institution than Frank Sinatra marveled at his voice and his talent.
He was so innovative that he changed country and pop music, more than once.
He was one of the first country artists to give Nashville the sort of sign language that Johnny Cash was famous for giving record companies, deejays and anybody else who ever got on his fightin’ side. Ray just quietly left Nashville for Texas, fed up with Tennessee.
Do you like Steely Dan my rock-pop-jazz friends? Listen to the Steely boys on “Deacon Blues” or “FM,” then listen to Ray Price sing “Night Life,” the song that the young Cherokee Cowboy Willie Nelson wrote for Ray. You’ll hear the influence of the so-called “Ray Price beat” in everyone from Steely Dan to U2. Just as nobody ever sang “Amazing Grace” as great as Judy Collins did (acapella), nobody ever sang “Danny Boy” like the original Cherokee Cowboy.
When I was in high school and sometimes home from college in the late sixties in Navasota, Texas, Ray Price and the latter-day Cherokee Cowboys would play in the hometown VFW hall–a great dance and C&W venue that attracted lots of great country stars from the era. The VFW had a small, inconspicuous door right behind the bandstand so that the stars who sang there could step right off their buses and go through that door and appear on stage as if they’d suddenly been beamed onto it and the place would go wild.
I saw lots of great acts at the VFW but nobody gave me goose bumps like Ray Price, who’d come onto stage and just stand still and look like a million country-music dollars in his Western suits and shiny, shiny boots.
He was, and remains, not only a great singer and charismatic entertainer–charismatic in a cozy club or dancehall setting, I mean–but a true American Original. Like Sinatra, he made music his way, always.
(He’s performing at the Bass in Fort Worth tomorrow night, BTW; see the official Ray Price fan club website for other Texas dates. You can also hear him and Willie sing Faded Love when you go there–have your hankies ready, though. Willie & Ray on Faded Love will rip your heart right out of your chest cavity as you hear them watch the mating of that old lonesome dove.)
He’s also a great gospel singer and you never know when he might show up at a Methodist church to sing, especially during the holidays.
Yes, he’s Methodist.
I told he’s a great man.

The Ray Price Story (Adapted from the Country Music Hall of Fame bio):


The Cherokee Cowboy: simply the best

When Ray Noble Price was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1996, many noted that the honor was long overdue. Such feelings weren’t based so much on the longevity of his career or on the number of major hits he has recorded, for in those regards Price was no different from many other deserving artists awaiting induction. More importantly, Price has been one of country’s great innovators. He changed the sound of country music from the late 1950s forward by developing a rhythmic brand of honky-tonk that has been hugely influential ever since. As steel guitarist Don Helms, a veteran of Hank Williams’s Drifting Cowboys once put it, “Ray Price created an era.”

Born near Perryville in East Texas, Price moved with his mother to Dallas after she and his father split up. He was four years old at the time and would spend most of his childhood moving between his mother’s house in Dallas and his father’s farm. He joined the U. S. Marines during World War II, then afterward enrolled at North Texas Agricultural College, intent on becoming a veterinarian. But while in school, he started singing at a place called Roy’s House Cafe. He eventually made his way to Jim Beck’s recording studio in Dallas, where Beck hooked him up with Bullet Records. Price recorded one single for Bullet in either late 1949 or early 1950.

The Bullet record wasn’t successful, but Price began singing on various Dallas-area programs, including the Big D Jamboree. He caught the attention of Troy Martin of the Peer-Southern music publishing firms, and behind Martin’s strong recommendation Price was signed to Columbia Records in March 1951. His first Columbia release was “If You’re Ever Lonely Darling,” written by Lefty Frizzell.

Price had little success on Columbia until a fortuitous introduction to Hank Williams in the fall of 1951 changed his fortunes. Williams took Price with him on the road and wrote a song, “Weary Blues (From Waiting),” which he gave to Price to record. Though not a major hit, the song did fairly well for Price, and in January 1952 he moved to Nashville to join the Grand Ole Opry. There he roomed with Williams and used the Drifting Cowboys as his backup band. Many of Price’s recordings from this period show him self-consciously adopting Williams’s style. This trend would lessen, though, as Price allowed his natural voice more sway on such early hits as the 1954 double-sider “I’ll Be There (If You Ever Want Me)” b/w “Release Me.”

The pivotal record of Price’s career, however, was “Crazy Arms,” recorded March 1, 1956. Introduced by Tommy Jackson’s searing fiddle (“I whistled the sound I wanted Tommy to play,” Price recalled), and driven by Buddy Killen’s 4/4 bass line, “Crazy Arms” introduced a novel, modernist intensity to what was still an essentially classic honky-tonk sound. The record spent twenty weeks at #1 and established Price as a full-fledged star. For the next several years, he continued to tinker with his sound, most importantly emphasizing a shuffle rhythm that was barely perceptible on “Crazy Arms.” The 4/4 shuffle, which many artists soon adopted, became so closely identified with Price it was known in country circles as the “Ray Price Beat.”

During this time, Price also gave a career leg up to many young musicians and songwriters. Willie Nelson, Roger Miller, and Johnny Paycheck all passed through his band, the Cherokee Cowboys, while Nelson, Harlan Howard, and Hank Cochran wrote for the publishing company of which Price was part owner, Pamper Music. Price’s 1959 rendition of Howard’s “Heartaches by the Number” helped establish Howard in Nashville, while Price’s 1958 smash “City Lights” did the same for its writer, Bill Anderson. Yet as dominant a hard country artist as Price had become, by the early 1960s he had begun to move into a more pop-oriented direction. This trend culminated with his 1967 hit “Danny Boy.” Recorded with full orchestration, the song alienated many of Price’s old fans, even as it brought many new ones in from a different direction. Three years later, both sets of fans responded favorably to Price’s “For the Good Times.” Written by Kris Kristofferson, the song was a #1 country hit in 1970 and just barely missed the pop Top Ten.

Price’s long association with Columbia ended in 1974, as did his years of chart dominance. Disgruntled with Nashville, he had moved back to Texas by then. Subsequent recordings for Myrrh, ABC/Dot, Monument, and various other labels were often musically unsatisfying, though a 1980 duet album with Willie Nelson showed off Price again in fine form. Through the latter half of the 1980s, Price recorded for the Nashville independent Step One, and in 1992 he returned to Columbia for a one-off album that went undeservedly unnoticed. Price issued albums on Justice (Prisoner of Love, 2000) and Audium (Time, 2002), but his 2003 duet album with Willie Nelson for Lost Highway, Run That by Me One More Time, was his first to register on Billboard’s country album chart in fifteen years. As of the mid-1990s, yet another generation of young country acts—many of them stars of the burgeoning hillbilly music underground—were trumpeting Price’s work. To this day, the 4/4 shuffle is so deeply embedded in country music as to be second nature to many. – Daniel Cooper

– Adapted from the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum’s Encyclopedia of Country Music, published by Oxford University Press.

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I don’t know why, but I was thinking just the other day, that if I could make three wishes and have them all come true, I suppose I would wish for:
(1) World peace,
(2) An end to poverty, and
(3) Happy Hour with Emmylou Harris.

Her bio in brief:
Emmylou Harris is truly a modern innovator. For over 30 years, Emmylou has flowed effortlessly between genres achieving popularity in pop, folk, country and now alternative. The common bridge is an exquisite vocal style and a gift for discovering the heart of a song.
Born in Birmingham, Alabama on April 2, 1947, the daughter of Walter and Eugenia Harris grew up near Washington, D.C. As a college student in the late 60’s, she sang with a local folk duo and eventually moved to Greenwich Village. (She was a child when her father, a U.S. Marine spent time in a prison camp in the Korean War.) She played the clubs on the local folk scene occasionally sharing the stage with Jerry Jeff Walker and David Bromberg.
Discovered in 1971 by Chris Hillman, Hillman brought Gram Parsons to hear her sing in a small club in the Washington D.C. area. In 1972, she answered the call from Gram to join him in Los Angeles to work on his first solo album, “GP.” After Gram died in 1973, Emmylou went back to the D.C. area and formed a country band, playing with them until her 1975 major label debut, Pieces of the Sky, when she formed the first version of the legendary Hot Band. Over the years the Hot Band included world class players such as Albert Lee, Rodney Crowell and Hank DeVito.
Emmylou has been called by Billboard Magazine a “truly venturesome, genre-transcending pathfinder.” Throughout her career, she has been admired for her talent as an artist and song connoisseur, but it was with her 2000 album, Red Dirt Girl, for which Ms. Harris was awarded her tenth (out of eleven total to date) Grammy, that she revealed she is also a gifted songwriter. Continuing the trend with her September 2003 album, Stumble Into Grace, Emmylou wrote ten of the album’s eleven tracks. Though Emmylou is the most admired and influential woman in contemporary country music, her scope extends far beyond it. She has recorded with such diverse artists as Ryan Adams, Beck, Elvis Costello, Johnny Cash, Lucinda Williams, Bob Dylan, Tammy Wynette, Neil Young, The Chieftains, Lyle Lovett, Roy Orbison, The Band, Willie Nelson and George Jones.
A longtime social activist, Harris has lent her voice to many causes. She is active in cultural preservation issues, notably the Country Music Foundation and the Grand Ole Opry. As an animal rights activist and the owner of several dogs and cats, Emmylou also supports PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and the Humane Society. Since 1997 she has been the most visible spokesperson for the Campaign for a Landmine Free World, drawing public attention and notable musical artists to the cause.

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OK, you clever jitterbuggers. Write a caption for this picture–which we pulled from the Jitterbuggingforjesus.com Weird Theatre archives–and if we at Jitterbuggingforjesus.com select your clever caption as the best, you will be the recipient of our Piggly Wiggly grocery coupons this Wednesday.
Good luck.

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***photo ©2009 by Geoff Stamp
Karen Armstrong, the one-time nun turned world religions scholar and prolific author, has been highly visible defending God in recent months while promoting her latest book, The Case for God (New York: Knopf, 2009). Whatever anyone may think of Armstrong and her arguments, she’s a formidable and tough-minded apologist.
Here’s a sampling from an article of hers in Foreign Policy:

“God Is Dead.”
When Friedrich Nietzsche announced the death of God in 1882, he thought that in the modern, scientific world people would soon be unable to countenance the idea of religious faith. By the time The Economist did its famous “God Is Dead” cover in 1999, the question seemed moot, notwithstanding the rise of politicized religiosity — fundamentalism — in almost every major faith since the 1970s. An obscure ayatollah toppled the shah of Iran, religious Zionism surfaced in Israel, and in the United States, Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority announced its dedicated opposition to “secular humanism.”
But it is only since Sept. 11, 2001, that God has proven to be alive and well beyond all question — at least as far as the global public debate is concerned. With jihadists attacking America, an increasingly radicalized Middle East, and a born-again Christian in the White House for eight years, you’ll have a hard time finding anyone who disagrees. Even The Economist’s editor in chief recently co-authored a book called God Is Back. While many still question the relevance of God in our private lives, there’s a different debate on the global stage today: Is God a force for good in the world?
So-called new atheists such as Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens have denounced religious belief as not only retrograde but evil; they regard themselves as the vanguard of a campaign to expunge it from human consciousness. Religion, they claim, creates divisions, strife, and warfare; it imprisons women and brainwashes children; its doctrines are primitive, unscientific, and irrational, essentially the preserve of the unsophisticated and gullible.
These writers are wrong — not only about religion, but also about politics — because they are wrong about human nature. Homo sapiens is also Homo religiosus. As soon as we became recognizably human, men and women started to create religions. We are meaning-seeking creatures. While dogs, as far as we know, do not worry about the canine condition or agonize about their mortality, humans fall very easily into despair if we don’t find some significance in our lives. Theological ideas come and go, but the quest for meaning continues. So God isn’t going anywhere. And when we treat religion as something to be derided, dismissed, or destroyed, we risk amplifying its worst faults. Whether we like it or not, God is here to stay, and it’s time we found a way to live with him in a balanced, compassionate manner.

“God Breeds Violence and Intolerance.”
No, humans do. For Hitchens in God Is Not Great, religion is inherently “violent … intolerant, allied to racism, tribalism and bigotry”; even so-called moderates are guilty by association. Yet it is not God or religion but violence itself — inherent in human nature — that breeds violence. As a species, we survived by killing and eating other animals; we also murder our own kind. So pervasive is this violence that it leaks into most scriptures, though these aggressive passages have always been balanced and held in check by other texts that promote a compassionate ethic based on the Golden Rule: Treat others as you would like them to treat you. Despite manifest failings over the centuries, this has remained the orthodox position.

In claiming that God is the source of all human cruelty, Hitchens and Dawkins ignore some of the darker facets of modern secular society, which has been spectacularly violent because our technology has enabled us to kill people on an unprecedented scale. Not surprisingly, religion has absorbed this belligerence, as became hideously clear with the September 11 atrocities.

But “religious” wars, no matter how modern the tools, always begin as political ones. This happened in Europe during the 17th century, and it has happened today in the Middle East, where the Palestinian national movement has evolved from a leftist-secular to an increasingly Islamically articulated nationalism. Even the actions of so-called jihadists have been inspired by politics, not God. In a study of suicide attacks between 1980 and 2004, American scholar Robert Pape concluded that 95 percent were motivated by a clear strategic objective: to force modern democracies to withdraw from territory the assailants regard as their national homeland.

This aggression does not represent the faith of the majority, however. In recent Gallup polling conducted in 35 Muslim countries, only 7 percent of those questioned thought that the September 11 attacks were justified. Their reasons were entirely political.

Fundamentalism is not conservative. Rather, it is highly innovative — even heretical — because it always develops in response to a perceived crisis. In their anxiety, some fundamentalists distort the tradition they are trying to defend. The Pakistani ideologue Abu Ala Maududi (1903-1979) was the first major Muslim thinker to make jihad, signifying “holy war” instead of the traditional meaning of “struggle” or “striving” for self-betterment, a central Islamic duty. Both he and the influential Egyptian thinker Sayyid Qutb (1906-1966) were fully aware that this was extremely controversial but believed it was justified by Western imperialism and the secularizing policies of rulers such as Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser.

All fundamentalism — whether Jewish, Christian, or Muslim — is rooted in a profound fear of annihilation. Qutb developed his ideology in the concentration camps where Nasser interred thousands of the Muslim Brothers. History shows that when these groups are attacked, militarily or verbally, they almost invariably become more extreme.

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Give praise to the Lord,
he has heard my cry for help.
The Lord protects and defends me; I trust in him.
He gives me help and makes me glad;
I praise him with joyful songs.
— Ps. 28. 6,7

Be strong, be courageous,
all you that hope in the Lord.
Ps. 31:24

We put our hope in the Lord,
he is our protector and our help.
We are glad because of him,
we trust in his holy name.
May your constant love be with us, Lord,
as we put our hope in you.
Ps. 33.20-22

Why am I so sad?
Why am I so troubled?
I will put my hope in god,
and once again I will praise him,
my savior and my God.
Ps 42.11

I am like an olive tree growing
in the house of God;
I trust in his constant love
forever and ever.
I will always thank you God,
for what you have done;
in the presence of your people
I will proclaim that you are good.
Ps 52. 8,9

I will always put my hope in you;
I will praise you more and more.
I will tell of your goodness;
all day long I will speak of your salvation,
though it is more than I can understand.
I will go in the strength of the Lord God,
I will proclaim your goodness,
yours alone.
Ps. 71. 14-16

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The New York Times has a fascinating article on M.D. Anderson, the Houston cancer hospital, complete with all the heartache and frustrations that medical caregivers and patients suffer at that world-renowned specialty hospital.
The article is made all the more interesting by the fact that two of the cancer patients featured in the piece are an M.D. Anderson nurse and doctor. It’s one thing to be a doctor or nurse who is in control of treating cancer patients all day, day in and day out. It’s another thing–as these two medical caregivers learned–to become a cancer patient yourself.
The article is a lengthy and in-depth look at the dynamics of cancer and cancer treatment and well worth looking up and reading.
An excerpt that I as a chaplain found especially interesting was this one:
“But there is still little that can be done for most of those whose cancer has spread. And, Dr. Berry said, “that is a fact that doctors at M. D. Anderson can have a hard time facing, understandably so.”
Dr. Russell Harris, an associate professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina and a member of a board that evaluates cancer therapies for the National Institutes of Health, said the temptation at major cancer centers like Anderson was to try treatment after treatment.
“Everyone is totally immersed in the idea that death is the enemy,” Dr. Harris said. Such a no-holds-barred stance, he added, is spurring a growing debate in the cancer community.
“There is a lot of concern within the oncology community right now, and appropriately so, that people don’t completely understand what they are getting into,” Dr. Harris said.
An aggressive — and expensive — course of treatment can place a huge burden on patients. Ms. Lanoux knows that all too well. She came hoping for a cure for her advanced melanoma, but got her first dose of reality the day she walked into the main lobby.
She saw patients in wheelchairs, their heads sunken on their chests. She saw patients who had lost their hair, patients wearing sky-blue masks to protect them from infections. And there were the children. She had to avert her eyes. “I still can’t look at the kids,” Ms. Lanoux said.
“I think we were all trying to be very brave,” she said. “But it was like walking into a coffin.”

Indeed, it’s been my experience, as it is with most all chaplains I know, that Oncologists will treat and treat and keep treating–to the point of perhaps doing more harm than good. As cold and harsh as that may sound to some people, there comes a time when it’s far better to stop treatment and let the natural dying process take its course. I always say that God brings us into the world kicking and screaming in the natural way that God created, and God will allow us to go out of this world peacefully if we allow the body to shut down naturally—the way that God created. You can keep a patient comfortable and pain-free, for the most part, with meds while allowing the natural dying process unfold.
Please don’t misunderstand–I’m not saying that Oncologists intentionally do more harm than good by prolonging what are often futile treatments. Miracles do happen and treatments can boost, shall we say, the probability of miracles.
But there also is the law of diminishing returns from treatments, and treatments really can be counter-productive.
Aggressive treatment, as the doctor quoted above says, really can be a burden on a patient–I know exactly of what he is speaking. And yes, as heartless as it may sound to cite the finances involved in the equation, aggressive treatments are expensive and the expenses add to the emotional burdens.
I don’t know any doctor who’s not all about curing and saving a patient at any cost, but I always say that there are worse things than dying. I say that as one who believes with all the faith in the world that dying and going home to God can be a lot better than prolonged suffering when a body has been thoroughly attacked and defeated by a disease like cancer.
Oncologists–God bless them–have a hard time seeing sometimes that death really is not always the enemy. They live so close to the pain and misery and suffering that cancer causes that they have the hardest time of any doctors accepting that death is not always the enemy. The disease is the enemy. Death can be, and often is, not only the only cure, but also the most merciful and compassionate course.
Which is to say, the most Godly course.
And please, people who think that we all are made to live forever spare me comments about me arguing for euthenasia here. The debates and arugments on this matter are not about killing people to put them out of their misery. Quite to the contrary, it’s about having a so-called “good death” as opposed to prolonging the death process.
When it’s your time, there’s not a medicine, a treatment, a doctor, an angel or one more miracle that’s going to stop the certainty of it.
There’s only one way out of this world to one better, but there is such a thing as hell on earth.

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candlesSimple living has been one of the abiding themes in the spiritual writings and teachings of Richard J. Foster, our jitterbuggingforjesus.com appreciatee of the month of October. In his 1978 classic, Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth, Foster goes so far as to argue the case for Christian simplicity with the provocative assertion that “the lust for affluence in contemporary society is psychotic.”

Because we lack a divine Center our need for security has led us into an insane attachment to things. We really must understand that the lust for affluence in contemporary society is psychotic. It is psychotic because it has completely lost touch with reality. We crave things we neither need nor enjoy. ‘We buy things we do not want to impress people we do not like.’* Where planned obsolescence leaves off, psychological obsolescene takes over. We are made to feel ashamed to wear clothes or drive cars until they are worn out. The mass media have convinced us that to be out of step with fashion is to be out of step with reality. It is time we awaken to the fact that conformity to a sick society is to be sick. Until we see how unbalanced our culture has become at this point, we will not be able to deal with the mammon spirit within ourselves nor will we desire Christian simplicity.
This psychosis permeates even our mythology. The modern hero is one who purposefully becomes rich rather than one who voluntarily becomes poor. . . . Covetousness we call ambition. Hoarding we call prudence. Greed we call industry. . . .
Courageously, we need to articulate new, more human ways to live. We should take exception to the modern psychosis that defines people by how much they can produce or what they earn. We should experiment with bold new alternatives to the present death-giving system. The Spiritual Discipline of simplicity is not a lost dream, but a recurrent vision throughout history. It can be recaptured today. It must be.”

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Luke 10:25-37 (NRSV)

25 Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” 27 He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.”
29 But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

The Word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

Me & My Girls, Amy & Megan McKay

Me & My Girls, Amy & Megan McKay

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Hubbard Electrometer, 1968
American science fiction writer and founder of the Church of Scientology L. Ron Hubbard uses his Hubbard Electrometer to determine whether tomatoes experience pain, 1968. His work led him to the conclusion that tomatoes “scream when sliced.” Church of Scientology’s most famous member and promoter, of course, is Tom Cruise.
In this photo: L. Ron Hubbard
Photo: Evening Standard/Getty Images

L. Ron Hubbard with his invention

L. Ron Hubbard with his invention

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water circle

water circle

water ripple

water splash



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