Sacred Music Friday: Psalm 67

Westminster Abbey Choir, Psalm 67, Edward Bairstow


guilty pleasure

I have a new guilty pleasure. It’s Wingstop. I’m not a big fan of chicken wings, but they’re smart marketers, and they know a lot of people feel as I do. So they’ve added a number of boneless chicken selections to their menu. My favorite: the Glider, akin to the White Castle slider (something I’ve never been privileged to try) or the Burger King Stacker (which I have). I love them in all of the flavors I’ve tried so far.

I hate to admit this habit. And under no circumstances do I want to know the calorie, cholesterol, or sodium value of those things.


thoughts inspired by Bonhoeffer

I’m taking an online course called Radical Hope in Hard Times. The course includes a number of modern writers and activists: Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Dorothee Soelle, Dorothy Day, William Stringfellow, Clarence Jordan, Martin Luther King, Jr., James Cone, Ada María Isasi-Díaz, and George Tinker. One of the course requirements is to post at least one comment a week on the private course blog. I joined during the second week and had to dive directly into Bonhoeffer. This is what I wrote, and I wanted to share my thoughts here as well.

When I signed up for this course I told Jane that I thought Bonhoeffer would the most difficult for me. What I did not say was that it was not that I would find him difficult to understand, but that, as in Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, we all know the outcome from the very start. The fact that his execution was so close to the end of the war and the liberation of the camps makes it all the more tragic.

In addition, I have a personal connection to the Holocaust. My first wife, who died suddenly in 1989, was Jewish, and her parents were survivors of the camps. The story I am told is that after the war her mother went from camp to camp until she found her husband, from whom she had been separated.

Reading Bonhoeffer, though, I was caught up by this passage in Letters and Papers from Prison, and kept re-reading it:

Who stands fast? Only the man whose final standard is not his reason, his principles, his conscience, his freedom, or his virtue, but who is ready to sacrifice all this when he is called to obedient and responsible action in faith and in exclusive allegiance to God— the responsible man who tries to make his whole life an answer to the question and call of God. Where are these responsible people?

Bonhoeffer was one of those. I can’t say that I’m anywhere near there.


more on admitting to being me

I wrote recently about how I had started using my full name in my blog, and how I agreed with my Facebook and blog friend Fran that that is the right thing to do if one is going to have the hubris to blog. Another blog friend, the Boston Pobble, commented on that post, and she had some excellent points.

First she said, “It isn’t hubris to say things. It’s hubris to expect people to listen.” Agreed.

Then she listed the reasons why it was not a good idea for her to blog under her own name. I know enough about her life to know that she is right as concerns her. I should have stated that Fran’s comments spoke to me and my situation.

Finally Pobble said, “Reading my blog doesn’t mean someone knows *me*. They know snapshots of me.” I absolutely feel the same way. I’ve said before, but it’s worth repeating, that everything I say in my blog about my life is true, but I don’t say everything about my life. I’ve written about how so many books that are labeled autobiography contain more fiction than some novels. I choose to be accurate, at least as far as I perceive my reality, but my blog is not intended to characterize the whole of my life.

Thanks, Boston Pobble, for setting me straight.


things fall apart

What in the Wide World of Sports is a-goin’ on here?

—from the Mel Brooks movie, Blazing Saddles

I don’t know what it is. After I recently touted the virtues of LG appliances our LG dishwasher started acting up and not getting the dishes clean. We had to have the motor replaced. But it still didn’t work right. Turns out that the service man didn’t properly set the screw in one piece, and it was moving and getting in the way of the sprayer arm.

Then we had a leak in one of the valves of our sprinkler system. Our reliable local plumber came out and replaced it. But after waiting the requisite time to let the adhesive dry, we couldn’t budge the valve to turn it back on. Our gardener had to pull out a heavy-duty pair of pliers to turn the water back on.

Finally on Thursday our desktop computer died. I turned it on Thursday afternoon and went back to my work laptop. When I looked back over at it, it was, in effect, waving its arms and shouting “Danger Will Robinson!” All of my numerous and varied attempts to restore it to health failed.

‘E’s passed on! This parrot is no more! He has ceased to be!
‘E’s expired and gone to meet ‘is maker! ‘E’s a stiff! Bereft of life, ‘E rests in peace!
If you hadn’t nailed ‘im to the perch ‘e’d be pushing up the daisies!
‘Is metabolic processes are now ‘istory! ‘E’s off the twig!
‘E’s kicked the bucket, ‘E’s shuffled off ‘is mortal coil,
Run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisibile!!
This is an ex-parrot!!

—Monty Python

That’s what happened.

I had been thinking about getting a new computer, but not right away. It is such a pain to do all the conversion work. But I bought this computer in April 2007. Five and a half years. That’s pretty elderly by computer standards.

So I went online on Friday to order a new computer. The system told me that my new computer would be built by 22 August. 22 August? Are you f***ing kidding me? So I did something that I’ve never done before with a desktop computer. I went to Best Buy and bought one off the shelf.

It has everything I need, though. It’s got a powerful AMD Quad Core processor, 8 GB of memory, a DVD burner, and a one terabyte hard drive. One terabyte! Can you believe that? I think I’m set for a while.

Fortunately I had a backup of all my data on an external pocket flash drive. And getting back up to speed went a lot faster than I expected, especially given that this was an unplanned event.

You know that saying about things coming in threes? I hope that’s the case, because I’ve had my three, and I’m ready for a little less excitement on the repair front now.


Secular Music Friday: Somos el Barco

Pete Seeger, Somos el Barco (We are the Boat), Live, recorded in 1985. You could almost call this sacred, couldn’t you?


habits and routines

Two entirely unrelated random thoughts.

  • If you have an iPad you know it displays the time at the top of the screen. I frequently refer to that. But when I’m reading the real, old-fashioned newspaper, I find myself looking at the top of the paper for the time. That doesn’t work.
  • Our church service at St. John’s always ends with the Lay Eucharistic Minister saying, “Let us go forth in the name of Christ.” I prefer “Go in peace and serve the Lord,” but we say the former there. On Saturdays, generally just as we are finishing breakfast, Sedge Thomson ends his West Coast Live radio show with the words “Safe journey!” Just as I don’t feel right when I miss church on a Sunday, my Saturday is not quite right when I don’t hear those words because they have been cut off due to the live show has run long.

The Letter

I heard a segment on NPR last week about a song by Ruben Blades. It made me think of this one, which he also wrote.

As far as I can tell, most of his work is strictly in Spanish, but somehow this one made it into English. I first heard it sung by Holly Near on her Sky Dances album that came out in 1989. It is sung from the perspective of someone who learns that a friend is dying. If you look at the date of the song and pay attention to the lyrics it seems clear that the friend is dying of AIDS. In those days, as I know you are aware, AIDS was essentially a death sentence, not the chronic illness manageable by drugs that it is today.

The song is about friendship, illness, gossip, caring, and death. For myself, I find it touches me and stays with me.

I hope you’ll comment with your response to the song.


going solar!

The question mark has indeed changed to an exclamation mark.

We were very impressed with what we learned from the sales rep we spoke to. The company uses quality material, and not the cheap stuff that China was “dumping” on the United States. They are family owned and local to the Bay Area. He provided us with lots of detail and did not overpromise.

So now we will be able to:

  • Reduce our monthly expenses, and cut way back on the money our electric utility gets
  • Sell our excess power back to said utility
  • Cut way back on the use of fossil fuel to power our home
  • At the same time do the same thing to some extent for our neighbors

By the time everything is up and running, it may be next spring before we see the full benefit. But that’s OK. This is for the long-term.


admitting to being me

Back in June I changed the name of my blog to something that I thought was a little more meaningful than what I had before. Last week I made another, smaller, change that you might not have even noticed. I’m now using my full name.

Some time back my friend Fran dropped her anonymous blog and later came back online with a new blog where she used her full name. She made a strong case for not blogging anonymously. Now it’s not like I’ve ever truly blogged anonymously. And ever since I’ve been on Facebook I’ve always linked from there to my blog posts. But I wasn’t attaching my full name to my blog either.

When I first started blogging the convention was to not use one’s full name. Looking at the blogs I follow today, the trend seems to be just the opposite. And, really, if one is going to have the hubris to express one’s opinion in such a forum, it’s the Right Thing to do.