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Monday, July 20, 2015

Music for a Monday: Beyond Ecclesiastical Music


Elvis Costello, Mark Twain, King Solomon, and certainly countless others from all cultures do a great job of identifying what is wrong. It seems that a solution is all too rare. How do you get “two little Hitlers” to live together? This song was a huge hit in  the 70’s…

If you remember this song, leave a note about listening to this in the 70’s

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Not quite "Ecclesiastical" but just as problematic...

Another "problem" song, not quite Ecclesiastical

I admit it, Elvis Costello is on my short list of "go-to" music. Elvis has a keen grasp of so much that is wrong in the world. He actually reminds me of Mark Twain. (Interestingly both men are known by their pen names rather than their given names, Declan MacManus and Samuel Clemens) Another similarity is that while both of them have/had a keen sense of the problem, they do/did not see the answer. That saddens me deeply. But I digress....

Here's an astute look into the world of relationships, and probably marriage. All of the problem, none of the solution. How to get two inherently selfish people to live together?

I really love this song. Such a powerful metaphor, if only he had a more powerful solution. What is your solution to the "problem of Hitler"?

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

"Ecclesiastical" Music in the 70's

Ah, I remember it well. A beautiful song that I pretty much hated. It seemed the rest of the world loved this song but I found it soooooooo depressing. Funny that I now resonate so strongly with Ecclesiastes.

For your listening pleasure and metaphysical pondering I offer Kansas' highest charting single from the album "Point of no Return,"

Gotta love those 70's outfits and hairstyles.

While this idea is not taken directly from Ecclesiastes but is more closely aligned with Gen 3:19 (the first book in the Old Testament of the Bible and attributed to Moses) and Psalm 103:14 (a book in the Old Testament, much of which was penned by Solomon's father, King David), the rather depressing nature of the inevitability of death is reminiscent of Solomon's writing in Ecclesiastes. Solomon wasn't the only guy thinking about mortality and meaning. Apparently, the line "all we are is dust in the wind" is found in a Native American poem and certainly, the topic of mortality and "dust" is found in many other writings from various cultures.

Every time I hear this song I am reminded of 3 powerful images:

  • Hearing this on the radio while driving an orange VW Beetle and hating the song
  • Trying to slow dance to this decidedly unromantic tune
  • Kathy Hosfelt loved this song
I am older and wiser now. I always appreciated the musicianship and arrangement of the song. Now I understand more clearly Kerry Livgren's, the man who wrote this song, perspective. Ultimately, life without God is meaningless.  If there is no God we are left with nihilism and vacuous moral relativism.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Music for a Monday: More "Ecclesiastical" Music

Last week we heard "I'd Love to Change the World" and I noted that it has an ecclesiastical bent to it along the lines of the ancient writing of King Solomon. King Solomon is often regarded as the wisest man who ever lived. His musings on life are recorded in three books included in the Old Testament of the Bible: Proverbs, the erotic love poem Song of Solomon, and the aforementioned Ecclesiastes.

Here's another Solomon inspired song from Pete Seeger and released most famously by some notorious 60's stoners, The Byrds. Hope you enjoy this delightfully lo-fi live recording :)

Monday, June 8, 2015

Music for a Monday: I'd Love to Change the World - Ten Years After - Alvin Lee

This is one of my favorite songs. Love the groove and energy, the different moods, the lyrics, and honestly, I love the desperation. There is a sense of frustration and lost-ness in this song that is very "ecclesiastical." I chose this particular video because I really liked the opening comments from Alvin Lee. I hope you will find another version of this song that has more fidelity.

If you have never read the book of Ecclesiastes, written by King Solomon of Israel and found in the collection of books known as the Old Testament in the Bible, I highly recommend it. Any book that starts with, "Meaningless, Meaningless..." has got to be interesting. For that matter, there are quite a few songs inspired by the book of Ecclesiastes.

Bottom line of this song and the book of Ecclesiastes is that art, politics, education, money, science, and neither war nor peace can solve the world's problems. So, if not that, is there an answer? Then again, what is the problem? Maybe identifying the problem will lead to the answer. What do you think?

Here are the lyrics to the song:

Everywhere is freaks and hairies
Dykes and fairies
Tell me where is sanity?

Tax the rich
Feed the poor
Till there are rich no more?

I'd love to change the world
But I don't know what to do
So I'll leave it up to you

Population keeps on breeding
Nation bleeding
Still more feeding, economy

Life is funny, skies are sunny
Bees make honey
Who needs money? Monopoly

I'd love to change the world
But I don't know what to do
So I'll leave it up to you

World pollution
There's no solution
Institution, electrocution

Just black and white
Rich or poor
Them and us
Stop the war

I'd love to change the world
But I don't know what to do
So I'll leave it up to you

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Farewell Pilanesberg

This was my last trip into Pilanesberg. After 19 years since my last visit this visit was full of wonderful surprises. Alas, I did not see leopard, buffalo or sable, but the lion kill, kudu and elephant sparring, rhinos, picnics, and so many other wonderful sites brought me incredible joy and worship to God.

On this particular morning I was greeted right out my tent door with another beautiful African sunrise. Off into the park I ventured. I swung by my favorite watering hole in hopes of seeing the lions but the only patron there was this frog catcher perched in the tree. Back on the main road, up ahead was a stopped safari jeep . Grateful for the tip off I pulled up and off on the hillside were a pair of jackals eating who knows what.

I turned up an old favorite road from my trip here 19 years ago and I was not disappointed. Soon there was yet another herd of elephant in the bush. In the pictures you can get a sense of how well they are camouflaged. I found this fellow by looking behind me. As I drove forward he was hidden by the bushes but when I looked back there he was!

Further ahead I finally found some kudu. A juvenile, female, and a couple males with grand antlers. The two males tussled a bit, but nothing too aggressive. Still, it was exciting to see. My morning voyage was all too short and soon it was time to get to breakfast and head to Jo'burg for meetings.

My car was filthy from the dirt roads of Pilanesberg so I paid way too much for a car wash at the safari camp while I strolled through the aviary. All in all it was an amazing time but bitter sweet. I truly missed my wife and kids. One of my sons loves animals and even dreams of owning/designing/working at zoos. He would have loved this. They all would have loved it. God willing we will again return as a family.

Thank you for joining me on this virtual safari.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Back Into Pilanesberg: Third Time is a Charm

My third trip into Pilanesberg was amazing. I went on the northeast loop and was treated to giraffe on my left and a massive bull elephant right in the middle of the road. I learned my lesson and kept my distance. I followed him  for a mile or so as he strolled along eating tree limbs. Off to my right I heard other elephants trumpeting and I figured all were headed to the watering hole up ahead.

At the watering hole observation blind (accessed by a short walk to the weighted chain link security door) were two older couples from Scotland. When the bull I followed showed up he started bathing and splashing around on the far side of the watering hole, probably 1/4 mile away. The bull moved on and so did the couples.

Almost immediately the herd of elephant began to arrive. The two zebras drinking at the watering hole retreated to the bush as the elephants took over the watering hole. Only a few hundred yards away this time, I knew I was in for a treat.

I ran out of the blind to tell the couples that more elephants arrived and the couples joined me in the blind along with a family that just showed up. For the next two hours the elephants drank, swam!, fought, took mud baths, and rolled around in the watering hole. It was an amazing spectacle. I felt so blessed to see such a unique display.

I drove around the back of the park and up a mountain in search of the elusive leopards.

While driving up a long straight paved road I noticed cars and safari vehicles parked on the side of the road where I hoped to turn. I looked left and right to try to see what was so intresting. No one in the cars pointed in any direction, nor did they try to advise me as I slowly approached. Suddenly, on my left and about ten feet in front of me stood an adolescent bull elephant. He was as surprised as I was.

I stopped immediately and sheepishly shrugged at the people in the cars who had offered no help. I slowly backed away from the elephant who now had me locked in his gaze. I was about 20 feet away when he started towards me. I made sure the road behind me was clear and began backing down the road. As I backed up the elephant began to run after me! I am glad the road was straight because I was going about 20 mph in reverse while this elephant chased me. He was not going full speed so I hoped he would loose interest quickly. After about a quarter mile he stopped and turned his attention back to food. Ikept backing up and stayed quite a ways back. He eventually cleared the road and allowed me to continue on my leopard search.

Alas, there were no leopards to be found, but I did see the hippos out at the other watering hole. After watching the hippo adult chastise the babies I headed out of the park and drove right over a puff adder! Fortuantely the snake didn't move as I straddled it with my car. I backed up and was able to grab a few shots. At the time I didn't know what type of snake it was, only that it could kill me!

The last image is the front porch of my safari tent. The Impala were frequent guests and at night they woke me up as they ran by my tent, hooves thundering before the snorting and grunting of a very "enthusiastic" male Impala.

Enjoy the virtual safari!