Archive for May, 2011


Like the World’s Most Interesting Man–he who doesn’t always drink beer but when he does he drinks real beer–I don’t always listen to Country Music, but when I do, I listen to real Country Music. Artists like Ray and Merle and Mr. Cash and Willie–especially early Willie–and oldtimers pre-dating even them.

And Patsy.

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“Changing the date merely to create three-day weekends has undermined the very meaning of the day. No doubt, this has contributed greatly to the general public’s nonchalant observance of Memorial Day.”

— VFW 2002 Memorial Day address

Isn’t Memorial Day supposed to be a solemn day?

How’d it get to be a big weekend of wayyyy too much drinking at the lake or at the back yard barbecue?

How’d it come to be a weekend of huge savings at the sale you just don’t wanna miss?

How’d it get to be a time for a little flag waving with those little flags that we provide to the little kids?

How’d it get to be a marathon weekend of endless reruns of every awful, heavily sanitized and propagandized movie glorifying war that Hollywood ever cranked out?

How’d it get to be a day for a few big-bang and often controversial media events in Washington, like Sarah Palin rolling in on the “Rolling Thunder” tide?

How’d it get to be five minutes of remembrance, or a time for the preacher to give an obligatory mention in his or her Sunday sermon?

Could they have picked a better weekend to roll out The Hangover Part II?

There was a time when red poppies were worn on clothing in honor of the day.

It was an idea conceived by Moina Michael in 1915 after her reading of the famous poem “In Flanders Fields.”
Michael was also inspired to pen a poem of her own:

We cherish too, the poppy red

That grows on fields where valor led,

It seems to signal to the skies

That blood of heroes never dies

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No man is an island,’ Dr. Donne wrote, ‘intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a Clod be washed away by the Sea, Europe is the less, as well is if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of they friends or of thine owne were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.”

“Or to use another metaphor, humanity is like an enormous spider web, so that if you touch it somewhere, you set the whole thing trembling. . . .

“Sometime during the extraordinary week that followed the assassination of John F. Kennedy in Dallas, the newspapers carried the story that when that crusty old warhorse, Andrei Gromyko, signed the memorial volume at the United States Embassy in Moscow, there were tears in his eyes; and I do not think that you have to be either naive or sentimental to believe that they were real tears. Surely it was not that the Soviet Foreign Minister had any love for the young American President, but that he recognized that in some sense every man was diminished by that man’s death. In some sense I believe that the death of Kennedy was a kind of death for his enemies no less than for his countrymen. Just as John Donne believed that any man’s death, when we are confronted by it, reminds us of our common destiny as human beings: to be born, to live, to struggle a while, and finally to die. We are all of us in it together.

“Nor does it need anything as cataclysmic as the death of a President to remind us of this. As we move around this world and as we act with kindness, perhaps, or with indifference, or with hostility, toward the people we meet, we too are setting the great spider web a-tremble. The life that I touch for good or ill will touch another life, and that in turn another, until who knows where the trembling stops or in what far place and time my touch will be felt. Our lives are linked together. No man is an island.”

— From Listening to Your Life: Daily Meditations with Frederick Buechner (compiled and edited by George Connor)

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War chews up everything in its path and its path extends far and wide.

It always bears repeating that the media and political leaders always cite the number killed, which is always bad enough.

But please always remember that war takes its toll by leaving our young with no legs or arms, or brain damaged for life–thousands of Iraq vets have permanent brain damage and many are being fed and diapered by parents and will someday have to be fed and diapered as wards of the government. Thousands upon thousands of children have one parent or another killed or maimed or away for one tour of duty after another. And of course Post Traumatic Stress–what used to be called “shell shock” in your grandpa’s day–is a terrible destroyer in itself. War chews up minds as well as bodies, families as well as the warriors. Innocent men, women and children as well as combatants.

God help all those chewed up by war’s disaster .

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Yeah, yeah, we put up a lot of Mr. Dylan here at the blawg, but it’s his birthday week.

And anyway– this is probably our favorite music video of all time, and it just so happens that our favorite music video of all time is Mr. Dylan’s great and surreal musical memoir.

It’s such a great, trippy and dreamy song–and longtimers of the Jitterbug Cult know we love us songs that are dreamy and trippy here at the blawg that is saving the world now that the world has not yet ended.

BTW, enlarge the screen on the vid and see how many famous icons you spot, not counting Johnny Cash, John Lennon and Christ (and him crucified).

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No Arms, No Legs, No Worries

Nick Vujicic is jitterbugging through life with only a “chicken wing” to stand on.

Watch this 4 minutes and count your blessings . . . .

(Hat Tip: KG)

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HAT TIP: Nola’s Devotionals

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O Lord . . . .

Let me stand today–

for whatever is pure and true and just and good:

for the advancement of science and education
and true learning:

for the redemption of daily business from
the blight of self-seeking:

for the rights of the weak and oppressed:

for industrial cooperation and mutual help:

for the conservation of the rich traditions of the past:

for the recognition of new workings of Thy Spirit
in the minds of the [people] of my own time:

for the hope of yet more glorious days to come.

Today, O Lord–
let me put right before interest:

let me put others before self:

let me put the things of the spirit before
the things of the body:

let me put the attainment of noble ends above
the enjoyment of present pleasures:

let me put principle above reputation:

let me put Thee before all else.

O Thou the reflection of whose transdendent glory did once appear unbroken in the face of Jesus Christ, give me today a heart like His–a brave heart, a true heart, a tender heart, a heart with great room in it, a heart fixed on Thyself; for his name’s sake. Amen

— From A Diary of Private Prayer by John Baillie

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Bob Dylan is 70 today.

Bob Dylan is 70 years old. See here for an updated essay from a few years ago about him after the release of his memoir Chronicles.

Or here’s a briefer piece about him more up-to-date.

Wow. Seventy years and looking relatively good for a guy who’s been up all night for 70 years.

“May you always know the truth,
and see the light surrounding you.”

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“The idea of God’s having any needs at all, let alone needing us, may sound like an alien, even heretical idea, yet it is a realization that many contemplatives come to.”

— Gerald G. May in The Dark Night of the Soul

St. Teresa of Avila (Spain)

Count yours truly as a contemplative Christian, one whose personal theology — what I believe about God and why I believe it — has been shaped largely by the influence of St. Teresa of Avila and her Spanish buddy St. John of the Cross.

In the book excerpt below, the late and great contemplative Christian writer, psychiatrist and cofounder of the Shalem Institute Gerald G. May mulls on the thought of the two mystic Spaniards.
It’s taken from Mays’ book The Dark Night of the Soul: A Psychiatrist Explores the Connection Between Darkness and Spiritual Growth.

“It is usual for people to think of God as the Supreme Being, the Lord and Master of all Creation, the omnipotent Higher Power who is in charge of everything. Such a God is separate from us, transcendent, above and beyond us, and capable of giving us good things and bad things. We naturally pray for the good things we want and for relief from the bad things we don’t want. And usually it doesn’t work. We don’t get all we want, and we get too much of what we don’t want. Logically, then, that transcendent, omnipotent, and separate God seems arbitrary at best, unloving at worst.

“But the contemplatives, as we have seen with Teresa and John, emphasize God’s immanence as well as transcendence. God is our center, they say, closer to us than we are to ourselves. We are immersed in God, and God is immersed in us. So if the transcendent God ‘out there’ is arbitrary or unloving to us, that same God is being arbitrary or unloving to the God ‘in here.’

“An alternative vision, one that I find repeatedly in contemplative literature, is that instead of God’s being unloving or arbitrary, God may not be so omnipotent. Or at least the power of God may not extend to making God invulnerable. Most contemplatives see God as being wounded when and as we are wounded, sharing our sufferings as well as our joys. When bad things happen to us, they also happen to God. This is certainly in keeping with Teresa’s sense of the Holy One’s being surrendered to us in love and needing us to love, to be loved by, and to manifest God’s love in the world.

“The idea of God’s having any needs at all, let alone needing us, may sound like an alien, even heretical idea, yet it is a realization that many contemplatives come to. Theologically, if God is indeed all-loving–if God is love–then that love must necessarily temper God’s omnipotence. Love always transforms power, making it softer, deeper and richer. Conversely, it may be only in our vulnerability, in our actually being wounded, that love gains its full power. Thus true omnipotence may not be found in a distant and separate power over something or someone, but rather in the intimate experience of being wounded for and with.

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