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Archive for February, 2011


(hat tip: Carl McColman at “The Cloud of Unknowing.”

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hat tip: The Rev. David Weber, North Texas Annual Conference, United Methodist Church

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I am sorry I ran from you. I am still running, running from that knowledge, that eye, that love from which there is no refuge. For you meant only love, and love, and I felt only fear, and pain. So once in Israel love came to us incarnate, stood in the doorway between two worlds, and we were all afraid.”

— Annie Dillard,
Teaching a Stone to Talk: Expeditions and Encounters

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6

Men ask the way to Cold Mountain

Cold Mountain: there’s no through trail.

In summer, ice doesn’t melt

The rising sun blurs in swirling fog.

How did I make it?

My heart’s not the same as yours.

If your heart was like mine

You’d get it and be right here.

7
I settled at Cold Mountain long ago,

Already it seems like years and years.

Freely drifting, I prowl the woods and streams

And linger watching things themselves.

Men don’t get this far into the mountains,

White clouds gather and billow.

Thin grass does for a mattress,

The blue sky makes a good quilt.

Happy with a stone under head

Let heaven and earth go about their changes.

8
Clambering up the Cold Mountain path,

The Cold Mountain trail goes on and on:

The long gorge choked with scree and boulders,

The wide creek, the mist blurred grass.

The moss is slippery, though there’s been no rain

The pine sings, but there’s no wind.

Who can leap the word’s ties

And sit with me among the white clouds?

— From HAN SHAN’s THE COLD MOUNTAIN POEMS, tanslated by Gary Snyder

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NO DEVIL'S MUSIC TODAY (IT'S SUNDAY, AFTER ALL)

So I was browsing around Professor Peter Cun Frary’s wonderful Web site (click here) when it occurred to me that I’ve never posted any classical guitar music here at jitterbuggingforjesus.com, the Web site that is saving the world with its wit, wisdom, provocations and stimulations while possibly (probably!) alienating whole towns, cities, nations and states.

It occurred to me how odd that is considering how much I love classical guitar music, and especially Spanish masters. For some strange reason all things Spanish appeal to me–Spanish guitar, Spanish art (especially El Greco) and, well, Penelope Cruz.

It’s not like I listen to classical guitar music every day or even every week, and, after all, it’s not exactly jitterbugging music.

But I do go on an occasional classical guitar binge, when it seems no other music is soothing my restless soul. It was classical guitar music from my playlist that got me to China and back on those horrendously long flights last year.

So here’s some–starting with a classic rock song done up in classical guitar by Edgar Cruz.

And I love the Spanish masters, like Senor Segovia:

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Blue-eyed soul with the pride of Plano, Texas, and one of the real class acts of rock.

And “Silk Degrees” is one of the seminal albums of the seventies, as “Music Mike” points out if you click here . . .

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Is our prayer to God very often a way of saying, ‘My will be done, O, Lord, not yours!’?

“We may feel ourselves too polite or too pious to say this in so many words and so crudely, but how many of our prayers amount to telling God what he really should do–if only he were as wise as we are?”

— Russian Orthodox Bishop Anthony Bloom

Let us not misunderstand the nature of prayer, particularly in the Jewish tradition. The primary purpose of prayer is not to make requests. The primary purpose is to praise, to sing, to chant. Because the essence of prayer is a song, and man cannot live without a song.

“Prayer may not save us. But prayer can make us worthy of being saved.”

— Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel (Click here for a 10 minute clip about this holy man), then scroll down for others’ reflections on prayer.)

(in the photo: Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel marching with MLK Jr. at Selma. From far left: U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), who had been severely beaten on March 7, 1965 while leading the “Bloody Sunday” march; an unidentified nun; Ralph Abernathy; MLK; Ralph Bunche, former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N.; Rabbi Heschel; the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth).

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The end of prayer is not to win concessions from Almighty Power, but to have communion with Almighty love.

“The final triumph of prayer is not ours; it is God’s. When we are upon our knees before him, it is God, and not we, who must prevail.”

— Percy C. Ainsworth, 19th century Methodist preacher

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Prayer is, above all, a means of forming character. It combines freedom and power with service and love. What God gets out of our lives–and, indeed, what we get out of our lives–is simply the person we become.”

— Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life in God

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Every petition of the prayer becomes a bringing of all into the presence and the love of God.”

Simon Barrington-Ward (via The Mercy Site)

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If your acts of prayer are the most regular things in your life, I think you will find they regulate all else.”

— Orchard, from A Pocket Prayer Book, 1941

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I think it was Thoreau–or was it Pee Wee Herman?–who said, “Most men live lives of quiet desperation.”

Which is to say that they live like some kind of misery bear of the sort you’ll find in the youtube below that our research assistant the mystic and mysterious but deeply Christian contemplative sixties librul (Joan Baez Div.) L.K. sent us.

Lord have mercy on the Misery Bear’s soul. . . .

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Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.

— Luke 23:34 (King James Version)

How is forgiveness possible?

“Forgiveness exists already–now and eternally. We do not create it; we enter it.”

Flora Slosson Wuellner, Forgiveness, the Passionate Journey: Nine Steps of Forgiving Through Jesus’ Beatitudes

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Q: Good moral people believe in the death penalty. They find direction in the Bible, what do you say back to them?

Sister Helen Prejean [of “Dead Man Walking” fame]: I say the God you’re describing to me is a God that wants pain for pain, life for life, suffering for suffering and a death for a death. I do not believe in that kind of God. And I know that in the Bible there are many, many references to very harsh punishments but the Bible was written over 2000 years, a lot it comes out of the Mosaic Code where people didn’t have alternatives. By the time you get to Jesus Christ the thrust of his life and his message is not to return hate for hate. I don’t believe in that kind of God and I personally believe that’s a monster God who wants pain for pain and suffering and suffering like we do. I think that’s making God in our own image. And I disagree with that image of God.

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No one, no memory, should have the power to hold us down, to deny us peace. Forgiving is the real power.”

Jose Hobday, in “Response.” The Sunflower. New York: Schocken Books

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The desert tradition offers a wonderful image of what it means to be transformed by God’s judgment into an instrument of healing in the world. Abba Moses, who had been a brigand in the Egyptian desert before his conversion, was held up as an example of repentance:

“There was a brother at Scetis who had committed a fault. So they called a meeting and invited Abba Moses. He refused to go. The priest sent someone to say to him, “They’re all waiting for you.” So Moses got up and set off; he took a leaky jug and filled it with water and took it with him. The others came out to meet him and said, “What is this, father?” The old man said to them, “My sins run out behind me and I cannot see them, yet here I am coming to sit in judgment on the mistakes of someone else.” When they heard this, they called off the meeting.

“Our refusal to judge others is not about minimizing sin; it is, rather, as Abba Moses and Célestin demonstrate, about learning to see the need for forgiveness that we all share in our own lives. This is, in practice, the step that makes healing possible. “To assume the right to judge, or to assume that you have arrived at a settled spiritual maturity that entitles you to prescribe confidently at a distance for another’s sickness, is in fact to leave others without the therapy that they need for their souls,” writes Archbishop Rowan Williams. “It is to cut them off from God, to leave them in their spiritual slavery — while reinforcing your own slavery.” Taking the step of repentance ourselves, we create space for the healing God wants to give, for the healing that each of us needs.”

L. Gregory Jones, “The Dance of Forgiveness

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“To err is human; to forgive is divine.”
— Alexander Pope

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Los Lobos is the kind of band best heard in a relatively small, smoky nightclub or a festive outdoor venue rather than a giant coliseum.

Or better yet, maybe heard in a parking lot with a couple of Grateful Deaders on a 4th of July . . .

You gotta love this vid of them with Jerry Garcia and Bob “Crazy Legs” Weir.

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You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.

— 1 Thessalonians 5:5

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Your word is a lamp to my feet

and a light for my path.

I have taken an oath and confirmed it,

that I will follow your righteous laws.

— Psalm 119: 105-106

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In the morning
When I began to wake
It happened again –
That feeling
That You, Beloved
Had stood over me all night
Keeping watch.
That feeling
That as soon as I began to stir
You put Your lips on my forehead
And lit a holy lamp
Inside my heart.
– Hafiz

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The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness–on them light has shined.

— Isaiah 9:1-2, 6-7

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This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.

— 1 John 1:5

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TWO GREATS

In an interview with Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner, here’s Obama’s perfect description of Dylan after the music icon played the White House. And click here for trailer to one of the many great movies about Mr. Dylan:

Here’s what I love about Dylan: He was exactly as you’d expect he would be. He wouldn’t come to the rehearsal…. He didn’t want to take a picture with me; usually all the talent is dying to take a picture with me and Michelle before the show, but he didn’t show up to that. He came in and played ‘The Times They Are A-Changin’.’ A beautiful rendition,” Obama recalled.

“The guy is so steeped in this stuff that he can just come up with some new arrangement, and the song sounds completely different. Finishes the song, steps off the stage — I’m sitting right in the front row — comes up, shakes my hand, sort of tips his head, gives me just a little grin, and then leaves. And that was it — then he left. That was our only interaction with him.

“And I thought: That’s how you want Bob Dylan, right? You don’t want him to be all cheesin’ and grinnin’ with you. You want him to be a little skeptical about the whole enterprise.”

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From him came a whole awakening of the world and a dawn in which all shapes and colours could be seen anew.

— G.K. Chesterton on St.Francis

Canticle of the Sun
From Saint Francis of Assisi
O most high, almighty, good Lord God, to Thee belong praise, glory, honor, and all blessing!

By Thee alone, Most High, were all things made and no man is worthy to speak Thy name.

Praised be my Lord with all his creatures, especially Messer Brother Sun, who brings us the day and brings us the light; fair is he and shining with a very great splendor; Most High, he signifies to us Thee!

Praised be my Lord for Sister Moon, and for the stars, the which He has set in heaven clear and precious and lovely. Praised be my Lord for Brother Wind, and for air and cloud, calms and all weather, by the which Thou upholdest life in Thy creatures.

Praised be my Lord for Sister Water, who is very serviceable unto us, and humble, and precious, and clean. Praised be my Lord for Brother Fire, through whom Thou givest us light in the night; and he is beautiful and joyous, and very mighty, and strong. Praised be my Lord for our Sister, Mother Earth, who doth sustain us and keep us, and bring forth divers fruits, and flowers of many colors, and grass.

Praised be my Lord for those who pardon one another for His love’s sake, and who endure weakness and tribulation; blessed are they who peaceably endure, for by Thee, Most Highest, shall they be crowned. Praised be my Lord for our sister the death of the body, from whom no man living can escape. Woe unto them who die in mortal sin.

Blessed are they who are found walking by Thy most holy will, for the second death shall do them no harm. Praise ye and bless my Lord, and give thanks unto Him and serve Him with great humility.

Prayer Attributed to St. Francis

Lord, make us instruments of your peace.

Where there is hatred, let us sow love;

where there is injury, pardon;

where there is discord, union;

where there is doubt, faith;

where there is despair, hope;

where there is darkness, light;

where there is sadness, joy.

Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;

to be understood as to understand;

to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;

and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

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