Saturday, December 27, 2014

Isaac Newton According to Cable TV's Idea of Genius As Quoted by Simels And Then I.N. In His Own Words

Hey Sparky: Your intellectual better Neil deGrasse Tyson tweeted this:

"On this day long ago, a child was born who, by age 30, would transform

the world," Tyson wrote Thursday. "Happy Birthday Isaac Newton b. Dec

25, 1642."

What Isaac Newton, who, unlike NdT is regularly is voted greatest physicist if not greatest scientist of all time,  said:

Of Godliness.

Godliness consists in the knowledge love & worship of God, Humanity in love, righteousness & good offices towards man. Thou shall love the Lord thy God with all thy heart & with all thy Soul & with all thy mind: this is the first & great commandment & the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thy self. On these two commandments hang all the law & the Prophets. Mat. 22. The first is enjoyned in the four first commandments of the Decalogue & the second in the six last.

Of Atheism

Opposite to the first is Atheism in profession & Idolatry in practise.   Atheism is so senseless & odious to mankind that it never had many professors. Can it be by accident that all birds beasts & men have their right side & left side alike shaped (except in their bowells) & just two eyes & no more on either side the face & just two ears on either side the head & a nose with two holes & no more between the eyes & one mouth under the nose & either two fore leggs or two wings or two arms on the sholders & two leggs on the hipps one on either side & no more? Whence arises this uniformity in all their outward shapes but from the counsel & contrivance of an Author? Whence is it that the eyes of all sorts of living creatures are transparent to the very bottom & the only transparent members in the body, having on the outside an hard transparent skin, & within transparent juyces with a crystalline Lens in the middle & a pupil before the Lens all of them so trulyshaped & fitted for vision, that no Artist can mend them? Did blind chance know that there was light & what was its refraction & fit the eys of all creatures after the most curious manner to make use of it? These & such like considerations always have & ever will prevail with man kind to beleive that there is a being who made all things & has all things in his power & who is therfore to be feared.
In case you missed that, Sims, here's the money line for NdT's neo-atheist, sci-ranger admirers:
 Atheism is so senseless & odious to mankind that it never had many professors.

JB Boclé 4tet "Bolivia" Tribute to Milt Jackson

Other musicians I found out about this year include the guitarist Nelson Veras and the vibes and keyboard player, Jean Baptiste Boclé, who I found out about through looking for recordings by his brother, one of my favorite bass players, the gorgeous Gildas Boclé.  Playing with them here is Marcello Pellitteri on drums.

Hate Mail File

No, I'm not trying to "discredit the secular left".  I wouldn't think of wasting my time trying to do the one and only thing that the atheist "left" does better than anyone else.  I'm pointing out what they've done and why the left has gotten nowhere with them dragging us down. 

Footnotes on Yesterdays Post

Yeah, I can see why I'm supposed to take the Wobblies seriously, the Industrial Workers of the World's "ONE BIG UNION" is, a hundred ten years after its founding, measured as 3,020 strong.   I suspect that if you took out the Utah Phillips wannabees who joined up because they figured having the card was neat-o the membership would be considerably smaller.   About the only phenomenon in contemporary leftist reverence I can think of that is less impressive is the record of Greens holding public office.  To mention other counterproductive delusions of the left.

Reading IWW history as even they publish it, the internal divisions would seem to have been enough to seal its doom.  A lot of that was inevitable, considering it seemed to revel most of all in the cult of macho rugged individualism.  Such guys don't tend to produce durable cooperative efforts based in a non-hierarchical sharing of power and respect for differing opinions.   Though, yes, there was martyrdom and illegal suppression.  There was martyrdom of members and illegal suppression of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, too.  Which group did something in politics that made peoples lives better?

And I suspect the takeover struggle by communists in the 1930s would have sealed the fate of the IWW if nothing else had happened.  American communists are the most pudding headed incompetents and counter-productive frauds in the history of the American left.   Little they had a hand in leading hasn't been at best a two-edged sword that eventually damaged the left, Including the sacred ACLU which is in the business of corrupting our elections and protecting broadcast lies in a way few other groups of the alleged left have.  But I've been looking more at the life history of Roger Baldwin in my research into Corliss Lamont a bit more this past week so that's fresh on my mind.

Anyway, the fact is that whenever the left has managed to move the country it has been the religious left which has done it through invoking those religious beliefs I mentioned.  There is absolutely nothing in materialist theory or evolutionary theory that has or will be trimmed to fit the same role in politics or the society from which political action arises.  Materialism is only good for denying the reality of those things which real life proves are as real as physical objects.  Their absence or presence makes all of the difference in reality as experienced by human beings*.   It is only with religion that the elevation of human beings in politics finds any possible security, people have to BELIEVE IT in order for them to sacrifice their selfish interests in enough instances to make political change real instead of a complete pipe dream.  There couldn't be solidarity for even five minutes, never mind forever without that belief being there and effective. I use the notable lack of solidarity in the membership and history of the IWW and other anti-religious "leftist" organizations as a lesson in what happens when people don't really believe those kinds of things as granted by their Creator.  God, in a word.  I have never seen another explanation of where those rights and moral obligations come from that wasn't either dishonest word-play or otherwise intellectually unsound and liable to atheist debunking when it served their self-interest.

* What human beings experience is the only basis for any reality that human beings can experience, we have access to nothing else.  There is no disembodied "reality" that is separate from human experience, the conceit of materialists that they can access some higher reality is merely the willfully unrealistic, opportunistic and childish denial of that hardest of hard facts in intellectual life.   Yet on that rests the entire intellectual enterprise of the materialists, the "physicalists" and the "naturalists".   The "Humanists" claim to believe that man is the measure of all things while simultaneously trying to debunk the validity of human belief drawn from human experience when they don't like what people conclude from that belief.  A mind divided cannot stand and the intellectual and political ideology that is so basically self contradicting cannot help but screw stuff up royally.

UPDATE:  OK, if you're such a "solidarity forever, big supporter of the Wobblies" why have you never been a dues-paying, card carrying, putting your own sweet fat on the line for the workers member instead of a mere concert-going, Dreamed-I-Saw-Joe-Hill-Last-Night sing-along fantasy idolizer of it?

And I would love to see a list of famous members who died as paid-up members instead of former members of the thing.   Look at how Eugene O'Neill ended up and his disillusioned vision of the left and fatalist disbelief in the potential of humanity to ever do anything better, the point of my link to my old post on that topic.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Hate Mail File

It's the difference between someone who likes to listen to challenging new music they've never heard, from skilled, adventurous musicians they've never heard and someone who listens to Brian Wilson or the mop heads unchanging old records for the 2,582,350,216th time so they can mention it for the 25,629th time to get the same reaction that saying the one thing you say about it has gotten every time since the first time whoever said what you parroted first said it in 1965.   

We don't do the same thing, Sims.  The two things don't intersect.  What you think you have to say about music is about as relevant to me as inserting a recipe for spaghetti os  with canned pineapple and miniature marshmallows into a paper about numbers theory.  

Update:  OK, if you didn't like that comparison, how about a hair ball the cat heaved up on the middle of a clean rug. 

Hristo Vitchev Quartet - Wounded by a Poisoned Arrow

Weber Iago - piano
Hristo Vitcheve - guitar
Dan Robbins - bass
Mike Shannon - drums

These musicians were some of the more interesting ones I learned about this year.

Pieces by Santiago de Murcia

Paul O'Dette

And this suspiciously modern sounding Tarentela (I'd have to see the tablature to really believe it) played on a guitar by Stradivarius by Rolf Lislevand

What Do You Think Of The UUs?

So, someone asks me what I think of this column that was in the New York Times about church for atheists, beginning, oddly enough with Unitarian Universalists.   Being from New England, in some ways the birthplace of American Unitarianism but, also Universlism, my first reaction is to wonder how they could believe that the god they don't believe in is one instead of three, though I know that's not really what UUism is about these days.   I happen to know an old lady who once told me, rather bitterly, that her family were devout Universlists, who grew up in a Universalist church and who were very unhappy with the amalgamation of their denomination with the Unitarians.   I sympathized with her and it gave me my one and only chance to use one of my two Unitarian jokes, that the Universalists believed God was too good to damn anyone to hell and the Unitarians thought they were too good for God to damn them to hell.  She said she thought that summed it up.   She goes to a United Church of Christ church, these days.

I have thought it was rather odd for Universalists who believed that everyone was saved from burning eternally in hell fire by a good and loving God - the definition of univeralism - would have chosen to hook up with folks who not only didn't believe in God but didn't believe anyone was saved but just rotted or, more modernly and cheaply, burned temporarily in a crematorium.   I'm kind of sad to see that they seem to have been subsumed then submerged by the Unitarians who I always found tended towards the smarmy and self-satisfied. Since the article by Garrison Keilor I started the month with expressed his annoyance with Unitarians for taking God out of Silent Night and generally being way too impressed with their cleverness, perhaps that feeds into it as well. Some UUs have that in common with some of the more annoying Catholics and fundamentalists I've encountered, an irritating tendency to transmit their own sense of virtuousness, though through their superior cleverness.   I've met UUs who have said they found that annoying as well.

There are Unitarians who have scandalized their fellow UUs by recalcitrant belief in God, an afterlife and, even more daringly, thought Jesus might be on to something.   My other UU joke is that the only time anyone says "Jesus Christ" in a Unitarian Universalist church was when the janitor slipped on the stairs.  I'd really like to meet more of those daring folk and talk to them.  

I don't know any atheists who go to a specifically atheist church so I can't say anything about that.  I suspect it's not a venue for the promotion of humility and self-doubt.   But it's their business if they want to go there, I don't have to.

Yes, I Really Do Mean It The Salvation Army As More Radical Than The Wobblies

One of the more productive insights I've had into the serial failures of the left is in noticing that a secular left doesn't seem to be able to attract support sufficient to either gain or maintain political office.   Well, secular folk on the left can, actually win and hold an office, given the right congressional districting, such as the generally admirable Barney Frank and they can have some influence but he is the exception as proved by his failure to be part of a movement which actually holds power.  And, as the putrid "cromnibus" that just got voted on and signed into law proves, their achievements being maintained depends on holding power.
I have been conducting a few thought experiments recently, comparing different aspects of the self-identified secular "left" and various religious groups which have stated similar goals, certainly not all of them self-identified as even moderately leftish.   The greatest challenge is to look at the actual achievement of something towards those goals as opposed to the public relations lines put out. Something that, if it's legitimate to do with religion, it's legitimate to do with the "secular" and, especially the anti-religious.  Here's one I'm engaged in right now, comparing an object of mandatory leftish reverence with one of the targets of its derisive invective.

In a turnaround from that old song, The Preacher and the Slave, by Joe Hill, it is the secular left that has been promising pie in the sky, or at least in some future that never seems to get here.  And then doing everything in their power to screw up delivering on that promise.  The Salvation Army, which he satirized in the song certainly fed more people than the Wobblies ever did, they clothed more, they housed more and I dare say they contributed more to the actual welfare of the destitute and the poor than the IWW ever has in the past or present or will in the future.  I suspect that the Salvation Army have, actually, been the vehicle for improvement of lives, including working lives, more so than the Wobblies ever were or ever could have been.   I certainly don't agree with the Salvation Army's theology in places and I don't approve of the quasi-military structure of it and am aware of notable lapses between its aspired ideals and beliefs and its actual achievement of those, but I'm not going to lie about it, what it does when it follows its stated intentions.   No matter how much I dislike the quasi-military garb and ranking or some aspects of it, in every practical way they have contributed more to the actual achievement of the goals of the left in real life than the sacred Wobblies and their like.

The IWW's role in the creation and maintenance of unions which achieved those goals is marginal, at most and most of that is probably the product of self-interested public relations and not rigorous honesty.

That a group which may have included such figures as Eugene Debs and Mother Jones was so notably impractical and such a disaster that even its membership was more notable for defections than recruitment (I recall reading its loss of membership, somehow, managed to reach over 100% per decade) and it generated more opposition than support, makes its veneration today bizarre in the extreme.

If you want to put it in one of those laws that are so fashionable these days,
NO "LEFTIST" EFFORT THAT IS `MORE NOTABLE FOR THE OPPRESSION IT GENERATED THAN ACHIEVEMENT WILL EVER SUCCEED IN IMPLEMENTING THE PROGRAM OF THE LEFT. Only a left which is not really that into achieving the goals of economic justice, equality and a decent life would revere the disaster that the IWW has been from just about the beginning.  

And that is a history that is repeated, over and over again with the secular left.  I live in reputedly secular New England and, believe me, when someone is down and out and in need of services that are not provided by the government, it's a religious organization they will turn to because those are the only ones that are there in almost every case.  AND WHENEVER A LEGISLATIVE HEARING IS HELD ON INCREASING THE AID WHICH THE GOVERNMENT PROVIDES RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS WILL BE THERE TESTIFYING IN FAVOR OF THAT*.   Even as I was frequently enraged with the former archbishops in Portland, Maine, over such issues as marriage equality, contraception and the rights of women to control their bodies, they were the ones testifying in favor of increasing aid to the destitute, the sick, the homeless.  I have said before that if you read the economic justice statements of even the past two popes who I disliked and held were horrible in so many ways, they are radical as compared to even some entirely secular politicians held to be of the left in the United States and even Europe.


Most of the members of my family are members of unions, most of those in either teachers unions (some in the NEA, some in the AFT) or the United Brotherhood of Carpenters.   I come from a very strong, pro-union family which has been and is considerably left of center.  I'm considered one of the most radical of the bunch, just the kind of person who used to buy the romantic unreality of the heroic Wobblies.   Once my blinders were removed and I looked around at the real history of that instead of the romance,  it was clear it's a dead end.  As I noted earlier this year, that kind of secular left always ends up being Harry Hope's bar in The Iceman Cometh.  I think that was one of the most brilliant and enduring insights that Eugene O'Neill ever had, though he doesn't seem to have gotten to the other side of that, noticing that while atheism produces that static place with No Exit, there is an alternative which has done things.   That O'Neill was part of the same scene as many of the early supporters of the left I've been talking about and where he ended up can be instructive.


Two (actually, just recalled, it's more than two) members of my family have held positions as member representatives and organizers with their unions, in all cases they have major problems with the present leadership and directions of those unions as the leadership has become more professional and managerial, a direct result of the deterioration of the ideals of what unions are supposed to do and be for and the participation of membership in the unions.   In the case of the Carpenters, it is a direct result of heavy handed, top leadership of the union that clearly couldn't care less about the welfare of workers than it does its own salaries, associated benefits and maintaining their positions.   If that deterioration is related to the increase in materialism in American society, I can't say but I suspect it is all related to the general decrease in belief in religious ideals for mindless consumerism under the regime of TV based reality.   That's something I expect to be going more into in the coming years.  If I'm given the time.  This is an interim report on where I've gone and the direction I'm going in.    One of the other things I am looking into is the extent to which neo-fascism, on the rise in the allegedly secularized Europe seems to be related to the abandonment of religious ideals such as I've also concentrated on.

*  I will be interested to see if, as he seems to be doing, Pope Francis replacing bishops whose tacit political endorsements of Republicans was at odds with their economic and social justice statements will really turn around the direction of the American bishops.   His recent actions are certainly not making the Catholic right happy.  I hope and pray that Pope Francis has the chance to undo the damage that has been done to the credibility of the Catholic church under the former leadership and that there are results in elections, here and elsewhere.

Update:  I still hold with what I said last June:

The entire faith of liberal politics is the faith, beyond any wisdom or council to despair or cynically give up, that society can be redeemed and a better life is possible.  Not only possible but the only really good reason for politics to exist, the highest reason for governments to exist, their only legitimate motive for their actions, the only legitimate goal that should be allowed.  I have asked, over and over again, in different forms for some other basis of liberalism and no one has yet provided me with one.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Ferruccio Busoni Nuit de Noel - Geoffrey Douglas Madge


Léonin - Christmas Day Mass -Ensemble Organum

This is a reconstruction of what a Christmas day mass from the 12th century might have been like in a place sophisticated enough to have the Notre Dame style of organum by Master Leoninus, the modern music of its time.

Puer Natus Est Nobis

 Benedictine Monks of Santo Domingo de Silos

Old Roman chant

William Byrd 

Gregorian Chant and Thomas Luis Victoria - O Magnum Mysterium

O great mystery
and wonderful sacrament,
that animals should see God born
lying in a manger!
O blessed is the Virgin, whose womb
was worthy to bear Christ the Lord.
Hail Mary, full of grace: the Lord is with you.
Blessed is the Virgin whose womb
was worthy to bear Christ the Lord.

Thinking about this while looking for a setting to post, I'd imagine it's not easy for us to imagine what the story was like to the middle-eastern peasants, laborers and poor folk who first heard it.  God born to a Jewish peasant in a stable, put in a feed stand to sleep among the cattle and donkeys. , Not to mention what it would have seemed like to upper class people who, unlike most of those today would have been only somewhat removed from the very day reality of manure, especially in a place and time when bedding wouldn't be nearly as plentiful as it would be with even mechanical harvesting that didn't become possible till the 19th century.  And God, no less, chose to be incarnated under about the most  unsanitary, dangerous and unpleasant conditions available.  I can imagine what a Roman of the class of Tacitus must have thought of it.  Not to mention that the mother was a Jewish girl.   Its implausibility makes it miraculous that a movement that believed that survived the ridicule and seeming sheer implausibility of it.  It wasn't what any human would choose for their child or themselves voluntarily and God would certainly have had choices.  That same reality must have informed the author of what was to be one of the most popular responsories in the liturgy as well as the generation after generation of agrarian people who heard it. Or maybe it seems that way to us because modern, westerners just don't get the same thing someone growing up with animals would understand about what a profound statement about the worth of even the most destitute people are, not to mention the animals who were the first witnesses to that incarnation.  It must have had a profound meaning to them that is lost on people whose only experience of animals is limited to the family dog or cat, though maybe with a little imagination they could imagine some of it.

Here's what's probably the most well known setting of it, by one of the greatest of composers, also a priest, Tomas Luis Victoria.

The Sixteen
Harry Christophers, director

Bela Bartok - Roumanian Christmas Carols

Erzsébet Gódor,  Ion Curteanu,  cimbalom

These mean Christmas to me, having taught some of them and played them as a seasonal tradition.  They're not too difficult.  I wish these two fine young musicians had posted the second as well as the first series, they sound really good on cimbalom.  Considering their provenance it's not surprising.

Zoltan Kocis playing them in Bartok's original piano version.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

This Is Just Too Cute To Not Post It

Alasdair singing Tallis' Missa Puer natus est nobis*

*Update:   Translation: "Mass on To us a child is born".   

Dominus Dixit ad Me

Monks' Choir of the Timadeuc Abbey.

Marc Antoine Charpentier - Messe de Minuit and Noels

Deutsch-Französischer Chor Dresden
Reinhart Gröschel, director

There was a "French church" in my town, as I've mentioned before, in New England there oftenwere a French-Canadian Catholic parish and an "Irish" parish, except my town was too small to support two parishes.  My family were in a distinct minority as most of the people in the parish were French-Candians. Whatever Irish Christmas traditions my great-great grandparents remembered from Ireland, they didn't survive in my family tradition.  So any childhood ethnic associations (other than the ubiquitous German tree) I have with the holiday are French, through Acadia and Quebec.

I never heard any of Charpentier's music in church, though I know I heard Joseph Est Bien Marié, which is used as a contrafacta basis for the Kyrie  I suspect along with other "Noëls" which I don't recognize readily.

The French tradition of Christmas music is quite special, especially the great organ Noëls on folk carols and hymns.   Probably the most well know of those is the tenth one by Daquin on Quand Jesus Naquit à Noël.   Here's another setting of it by Claude Balbastre, clearly influnced by Daquin's.

An Arabic Orthodox Christmas Hymn

Update:  Please note the words, which in their earthy audacity are rather incredibly insightful.   If that isn't a radical view of humanities status in relation to the ultimate, nothing is.

Hyman Bloom - Christmas Tree

It isn't really that odd that my favorite images of Christmas trees were painted by a Jewish mystic whose experience of the universal would seem to have come to him through color,  Christianity is and should always have been seen as a branch of the same tradition.

We always put up our tree on the 24th, never until the afternoon and kept it up till January 7th.  Sometimes longer if people were too busy to take it down that day.  I don't have a tree, but I have an image of one.  If I want to smell balsam I get some branches from those in my family who cut one.


As it just happens, the proof of what I said yesterday is in the gospel for the day before Christmas, read in Catholic churches today

Jesus said to his disciples:
“You have heard that it was said,
An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.
But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil.
When someone strikes you on your right cheek,
turn the other one as well.
If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic,
hand over your cloak as well.
Should anyone press you into service for one mile,
go for two miles. 
Give to the one who asks of you,
and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow.

“You have heard that it was said,
You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.
But I say to you, love your enemies
and pray for those who persecute you,
that you may be children of your heavenly Father,
for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good,
and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.
For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have?
Do not the tax collectors do the same?
And if you greet your brothers only,
what is unusual about that?
Do not the pagans do the same?
So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Show me how someone can enslave or kill or otherwise oppress someone and still live up to these teachings?   It was always a concession to the rich and powerful that church authorities came up with excuses to allow those things, they did it to make peace with temporal powers and authorities.  That they bought peace for the church establishment through betraying the central teachings of Jesus has always been a scandal.

In Latin America, from which North Americans such as me still have so much to learn, it was when priests and bishops, but even more so nuns and lay Catholics started taking these teachings seriously that the temporal power started killing them for their attempts to put them into practice.  With the aid and resources of the American government, especially under Ronald Reagan to help with the terror and murder.   I will never, ever forget Jeane Kirkpatrick, US ambassador to the United Nations and Alexander M. Haig, Reagan’s Secretary of State trashing the memory of the four American church women who were raped and murdered by El Salvadorian military thugs trained at The School of the Americas at Ft. Benning, Georgia, as were thousands and thousands of others in Central America.  

I have become convinced that it isn't the refusal of fundamentalists to accept evolution that is the major force behind the campaign to trash Christianity among America's trendy intelligentsia, such as that is*.   I think that it is the desire of them to be free of the burden of morality that these and similar teachings impose.  That is what it's all about.  That the alleged left, as found in the fashionable anti-religious, actually anti-Christian side of things, are targeting these teachings that were so inconvenient and unpopular with the Reagan administration is more than just a clue that their "leftist" identity is inappropriate and, in fact, misconceived.  I'm not part of that "left" I'm part of the one that believes those things are true and that I am required to do something about them being true.  I once heard an old Quaker say that she didn't believe the Gospel was true because Jesus said it, she believed Jesus said it because it was true.   I guess I agree with her.


If Christians, or even a significant number of Christians tried to follow those teachings as closely as possible, I suspect Christians would be among the most popular people in the history of the Earth.  To the extent that they have not followed them, to that extent they've discredited the name and given their enemies material to use against them.  Of course they can't do much about the constant campaign to make stuff up against them, something that has been being done since Nero spread the rumor that they set Rome on fire.   I guess we can assume Seneca didn't convince the brat that it was a sin to bear false witness.

The extent to which Christianity can recover its name is dependent on following the teachings of a man Christians are supposed to believe speaks with the authority of God, even when that leads to conflict with civil authorities, even when it leads to them killing you for doing it.  As it inevitably will.  Jesus was killed just for that reason, after all.

Unlike the Gospel of Jesus, atheism is entirely compatible with an imperial, military despotism, it has proven that over and over again in the 20th century in fascist, Nazi and also "Marxist" governments.  It was compatible with the Reign of Terror and the Calles dictatorship in Mexico.  Atheism is entirely compatible with racism, sexism, hatred of LGBT folk, and, especially the poor and oppressed.  The Gospel of Jesus is compatible with none of those, though it has been pretended that it can be  made compatible with them by cowardly church authorities and others for worldly advantage.  Jesus said that his authority was not of this world, atheism certainly is of this world and it denies the existence of any other.   Atheism has a lot of the same stuff to answer for as the organized, established Churches, even in the same period as some of those organized Churches started to take what Jesus said more seriously.   Americans, Brits... don't learn about that in school, often from teachers who despise religion as is de rigueur among the intellectual coxcombs and even many of those those who have turned over a few leaves in books, such as get on late night chat shows and posted on Salon and Alternet.   Like I was saying yesterday.

*  One of the things I've found, to my astonishment, is how little most of the sci-ranger, atheists actually know or understand about science.   For the majority of them, even many with graduate degrees, even some within science, it attains an intellectual status more like sports fandom than of understanding.  "Sci rules, faithheads drool," could easily substitute for at least 80% of it.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

O Emmanuel - Magnificat

O Emmanuel

Healey Willan

Vancouver's Christ Church Cathedral Choir, Rupert Lang, director.

It's hard to know where to stop with posting settings of the Magnificat so I think I'll stop with this one, set with today's antiphon, the last of the "O Antiphons".   There are a lot of other settings I'd like to have included, including some I couldn't find recordings of online and some which I like, as music, but which I don't think are really good settings of the words.  Monteverdi's by a composer whose music I love are in that category.  That of Viadana is one I couldn't find an appropriate recording of but which I'd like to have included.

 I would have liked to end with the one of the little girl singing which I posted this morning before I thought of that.  And a little child will lead them, which seems especially appropriate to the occasion.   I hope you enjoyed this Advent meditation on the Magnificat and got something out of it.

Proclama Mi Alma La Grandeza Del Señor

No Dear An answer given to a Salon atheist

If atheists want to make Christians responsible for the crimes of people who claim to be Christians but whose actions contradicted the teachings of Jesus then they have to be responsible for the crimes of atheists which don't contradict any defining teachings of atheism. You don't get to have two sets of rules set up to favor atheists.

Atheists getting to have it both ways is over.  No more double standards set up by you in your favor. 

Update:  Hate Mail File

No one with any sense of integrity would have any problem with the idea that if you claim to be a Christian and do what Jesus forbade then you are, at the very least, not very good at being a Christian.   Christians who kill, enslave and oppress people are guilty of breaking several of the most obvious of those teachings, doing to others as they would certainly not have done unto them, for a start.  Hating their enemies and killing them instead of loving and praying for them, not turning the other cheek, trying to live by the sword.  Not paying workers their wage.  

Atheism, since even you admit atheism has no commandments against killing, enslaving and oppressing people,  doesn't carry that disqualification that Christianity does.  An atheist can do all of those things and be in violation of no defining moral stand of atheism.   An atheist who kills, enslaves, oppresses... can still be a perfectly "good" atheist.   A "Christian" who does, can't be a perfectly "good Christian". 

Furthermore, while they are obviously being really unsuccessful at following the teachings of Jesus, "Christians" who kill, enslave and oppress are being totally successful at following the non-existent moral standards of atheism.   

So, atheists have no basis from which to criticize Christians who do succeed in not killing, enslaving and oppressing since "Christians" who do those awful things are living up to the tacit moral standards that are contained in atheism, the atheists' own ideology. 

I suspect that might be more thinking about such things than you're used to but that's not my fault. 

The Proud As The Millstone Around The Neck of the Left

"The one we are seeking," LAUREANO answered at once. "He is a young man who talks of the Revolution or revolutionaries almost every time he comments on the Bible.  After a brief pause he added:  The one that revolutionaries want to build, all the revolutionaries of the world."

He has shown the strength of his arm;
he conquers those with proud hearts.

OLD TOMAS, who can't read but who always talks with great wisdom:  "They are the rich, because they think they are above us and they look down on us.  Since they have the money .... And a poor person comes to their house and they won't even turn around to look at him.   They don't have anything more than we do, except money.   Only money and pride, that's all they have that we don't."

ANGEL says:  "I don't believe that's true.  There are humble rich people and there are proud poor people.  If we weren't proud we wouldn't be divided, and us poor are divided."

LAUREANO:  " Were divided because the rich divide us.  Or because a poor person often wants to be like a rich one.  He yearns to be rich, and then he's an exploiter in his heart. that is the poor person has the mentality of an exploiter or not."
I said that nevertheless it cannot be denied that in general the rich person is a proud man, not the poor one.

And THOMAS said:  "Yes, because the poor person doesn't have anything.   What has he got to be proud of?   That's why I said that the rich are proud, because they have the money.   But that's the only thing they have we don't have, money and pride that goes with having money."

He pulls down the mighty from their thrones and raises up the humble.
He fills the hungry with good things and leaves the rich with nothing.

One said:  "The mighty is the same as the rich.  The mighty are rich and the rich are mighty."

And another:  "The same as proud, because the mighty and the rich are proud."
TERESITA:  "Mary says that God raised up the humble.  That's what he did to Mary." 

And MARIITA:  "And what he did to Jesus who was poor and to Mary, and to all the others who followed Jesus, who were poor."

I asked what they thought Herod would have said if he had known that a woman of the people had sung that God had pulled down the mighty and raised up the humble,  filled the hungry with good things and left the rich with nothing.

NATALIA laughed and said:  "He'd say she was crazy."

ROSITA:  "That she was a communist."

LAUREANO: "The point isn't that they would say the Virgin was a communist.  She was a communist."

"And what wold they say in Nicaragua if they heard what were saying here in Solentiname?"

Several voices:  "That we're communists."

Someone asked:  "That part about filling the hungry with good things?"

A young man answered:  "The hungry are going to eat."

And another:  "The Revolution."

LAUREANO: "That is the revolution.  The rich person or the mighty and is brought down and the poor person, the one who is down, is raised up."

Still another:  "If God is against the mighty, then he has to be on the side of the poor."

ANDREA,  Oscar's wife, asked:  "That promise that the poor would have those good things, was it for then, for Mary's time, or would it happen in our time?  I ask because I don't know."

One of the young people answered:  "She spoke of the future, it seems to me, because we are just barely beginning to see the liberation she announces."  

Last night, during a blog brawl at that well known intellectual stomping round, Salon, someone brought up a quote from that well known authority on morals, Seneca, to the effect that religion was for ignorant "common people".   The translation actually used that phrase, "common people".   Considering he was the tutor of Nero, a well known intellectual and moral authority, who couldn't manage to save his own life from the product of his tuition, I'm not sure Seneca is exactly someone to talk.  He's certainly not a good example for anyone who claims to believe in democracy and the legitimate foundations of a genuine left.

The very same people are constantly trying to discredit religion through its association with working class people,  "trailer trash" "white trash" - they apparently don't see black people and other people of color in enough detail to notice the important force that religion has been and is among people of color.

One of the major drawbacks of the secular left is their pride in their assumed intellectual superiority over everyone else, another thing Salon said yesterday was that religious people are stupid and intellectually inferior to atheists.  Which the comments certainly didn't support.  And the intellectual superiority of these atheists includes their total incomprehension that the very people they so love to disdain and hold in contempt then opt to not vote for atheists.  A point you can make to them over and over again and still get a reaction of angry refusal to believe the poor are smart enough to know when people look down on them.

As I said about the scandal that the Catholic church in Latin America had left people to have to resort to the language of Marxism to understand their condition when the terminology is available in a canticle recited daily by the clergy and religious of the Catholic church, it is a scandal that the American left has left the working class and the poor to the effects of corporate Republican public relations and electronic propaganda.   The snobbery of the secular left and any that is in the religious left is the primary tool with which the corporations have ruled over us.  One of the lessons of The Gospel at Solentiname for us is that it's no secret to poor people how they are seen by the affluent, the uneducated rich and far too many of the educated.   As William Cobbett observed:

An empty coxcomb, that wastes his time in dressing, strutting, or strolling about, and picking his teeth, is certainly a most despicable creature, but scarcely less so than a mere reader of books, who is, generally, conceited, thinks himself wiser than other men, in proportion to the number of leaves that he has turned over.

The proud, relatively affluent "left" has certainly been brought down in the United States.   Unfortunately it is the oligarchs who have brought us down with them, though the division caused by the arrogance of far too many on the left,the mechanism for the oligarch's success.  Not to mention the definite lack of real commitment of way too many on that alleged left, who really are more into their lifestyle issues.  I would guess that most of them care more about disdaining the kind of people who would be seen at an Olive Garden than about the struggle for economic justice. You'd think that with the history of that kind of thing that smart people would have figured out it doesn't work for the left particularly well.

Monday, December 22, 2014

O Emmanuel

Dominican student brothers in Oxford

O Emmanuel, Rex et legifer noster,
O Emmanuel, Our king and lawmaker
exspectatio Gentium, et Salvator earum:
hope of the nations and their Savior
veni ad salvandum nos, Domine, Deus noster.
come and save us, O Lord our God.

O Rex Gentium - Magnificat

I So Don't Miss Carl Sagan

I wonder how many of the sciency smart boys even understand what axial tilt means or how many of them realize that the planet is tilted all of the time.   I'll bet not one in a hundred of the atheist sci-rangers who parroted that line yesterday could even define what the term means.

Considering that it's more than just an arguable case that Johannes Kepler, a very devout Christian, and Galileo, another very devout Christian, can be pretty much credited with understanding that the system of Copernicus, an actual Christian cleric, led to the conclusion that axial tilt produced the seasons, I don't see that atheists have much of a claim to the concept.

Update:  Ah, no, no joy for the atheists in the Greek guy who first estimated it

It is related that Oenopides, seeing an uneducated youth who had amassed many books, observed, “Not in your coffer but in your breast.”24 Sextus Empiricus25 says that Oenopides laid special emphasis on fire and air as first principles. Aëtius26 says that Diogenes (of Apollonia), Cleanthes, and Oenopides made the soul of the world to be divine. Cleanthes left a hymn to Zeus in which the universe is considered a living being with God as its soul, and if Aëtius is correct then Oenopides must have anticipated these views by more than a century. Diogenes is known to have revived the doctrine of Anaximenes that the primary substance is air, and presumably Oenopides in part shared this view but gave equal primacy to fire as a first principle.

Update 2:  Yeah, Galileo got house arrest for tangling with Urban VIII who, in a fact little known to atheists of little brain, had actually been Galileo's patron and defender up till the time Galileo spoofed him as "Simplicus",  not a wise thing to do to a Pope in early 17th century Italy.  They tended to be touchy about being mocked.   His house arrest was so brutal that he managed to write and, as I recall, publish one of his major works, The Discourse on Two New Sciences, which I am sure you are aware, only not.  By the way, it was published in Leiden. During his house arrest Galileo was awarded a gold chain by the Dutch government, which he refused.  His main enemy and former friend, Urban VIII commended him on his refusal.   From that treatment we can see how the treatment of Galileo proves the evil nature of Christianity.

And we can confirm that by noting how those humane atheists have dealt with such enlightened ways with their scientists who opposed the officially approved science of their day such as Georgii Karpechenko, Georgii Nadson, Isaak Agol, Solomon Levit, Grigorii Levitskii,... Oh, um. But..... well, yeah..... they were actually all executed as enemies of Lysenkoism.   How about someone who they didn't execute, who had that in common with Galileo.  How about the great botanist Nikolai Vavilov.  Well, true he got sent to prison instead of house arrest in his own digs and, well, true he did die of starvation there but, hey, at least it wasn't those evil Xians who did him in.   It wasn't like what they did to Lavoisier, cutting his head off..... well, yeah, I guess it was atheists who did him in during that great event in the history of atheism, the Reign of Terror in France, But I'll bet they used that symbol of their materialist enlightenment, the guillotine.

Actually, considering the internal exile of Andrei Sakharov, that's a better comparison with Galileo.  Like you know, when they let Galileo move to another one of his houses, in Florence, to be closer to his eye doctor.  Hey, now there's a coincidence for you, Sakharov's wife Yelena Bonner went to Italy when she had eye trouble too.  Only they had to wait till a change of government before their internal exile was lifted for her to go.

Update 3:  Well, your great hero Lillian Hellman we tangled over last night was a devoted Stalinist during the entire time those scientists were being killed by the great hero of scientific atheism, Stalin, even as my distant cousin was having the falling out with her that makes such entertaining reading now.  As was the god(less)father and patron of Paul Kurtz and, so, sugar daddy of neo atheism, and "Humanist of the Year" Corliss Lamont.   I'd love to go through his papers to find out if he ever mentioned Lysenkoism or the trail of scientists who either got offed by his hero, Stalin, or died in prison or never worked in science again.  Compared to the high 17th century crime against science that is held to merit death to Catholicism and religion in general, the scads of bodies wracked up within living memory by atheist governments is held, by you guys and the people who control the media to be barely worth noticing.

Cantos Neocatecumenales - Magnificat

Cont. The Magnificat Through The Minds of Those Who Know The Same Reality

And TERESITA, William's wife: "We have to keep in mind that at the time when Mary said she was a slave, slavery existed.  It exists today too, but with a different  name.  Now the slaves are the proletariat or the campesinos  When she called herself a slave, Mary brought herself closer to the oppressed, I think. Today she could have called herself a proletarian or a campesina of Solentiname."

And WILLIAM:  "But she says she's a slave of the Lord (who is the Liberator, who is the one who brought freedom from the Egyptian slavery).  It's as if she said she was a slave of the liberation.  Or as if she said she was a proletarian or a revolutionary campesina." 

Another of the girls:  "She says she's poor, and she says that God took into account the "poverty of his slave,"  that is, that God chose her because she was poor.  He didn't choose a queen or a lady of high society but a woman from the people.  Yes, because God has preferred us poor people.  Those are the "great things" that God has done, as Mary says"

And from now on all generations will call me happy, 
for Mighty God has one great things for me.
His name is holy, 
and his love reaches his faithful ones
from generation to generation. 

One of the ladies:  "She says that people will call her happy ... She feels happy because she is the mother of Jesus the Liberator, and because she also is a liberator like her son, because she understood her son and did not oppose his mission.  She didn't oppose him, unlike other mothers of young people who are messiahs, liberators of their communities.  That is her great merit, I say."

And another:  "She says that God is holy, and that means 'just."  The just person who doesn't offend anybody, the one who doesn't commit any injustices.  God is like this and we should be like him."

I said that was a perfect biblical definition of the holiness of God.  And then I asked what a holy society would be... 

For a Catholic hierarchy that was and, to an extent, is so endlessly fixated with Catholics but, especially, the clergy "giving scandal" the fact is that by 1975 they had abandoned these people to the extent that they had to make recourse to Marxist terminology to come to an understanding of their situation which would lead out of it.   For those who make "giving scandal" an excuse for not considering new ideas at every turn, their necessitating the recourse to Marxis terminology in 1975 was the real scandal, risking the discrediting of the Catholic church.

And it is especially scandalous how, in the coming years, the new pope,  John Paul II,  would scandalize those who sought justice and disgrace himself and the Church through is total abandonment of these people, even to the extent of publicly silencing them in 1983 when they begged him to acknowledge that their children were dying in the dirty wars that Ronald Reagan was waging against them.  That he had also turned his back on Oscar Romero led to that not being at all a surprise.   I remember thinking at the time that, underneath the PR that JPII acted more like a CIA asset than a pastor, and, in fact, his pastorship was one that led to churches closing as never before.  If anything his successor, Ratzinger, was even less pastoral.   I would recommend the works of the late Penny Lernoux for insight into Catholic liberal thinking during that period.

It is one of the more widespread misunderstandings of the Catholic church, perhaps a remnant of British anti-Catholic propaganda, that many figure the pope is an absolute despot who has the power to silence those they disagree with and even those who challenge them.  That's not the case. Priests and, perhaps even more so, sisters, didn't follow him or his chosen successor in their attempt to obliterate liberation theology, of which The Gospel At Solentiname is one of its most important texts, one which comes directly from the mouths of The People with the most profound understanding of the texts, who have lived the same reality it expounds.  It has been reprinted again by the Catholic publishers, Orbis books, the imprint of the Maryknoll order in the United States, the publishers of many works of liberation theologians in Latin America and others such as  Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and Allan Boesak.

To Come To A Fuller Understanding Of The Magnificat Through Its Context: From The Gospel At Solentiname


We came to the Song of Mary, the Magnificat, traditionally known by that name because it is the first word in the Latin.  It is said that this passage of the Gospel terrified the Russian Czars, and the Maurras was very right in talking about the "revolutionary germ" of the Magnificat.

The pregnant Mary had gone to visit her cousin Elizabeth, who also was pregnant.  Elizabeth congratulated her because she would be the mother of the Messiah, and Mary brok out singing that song.  It is a song of the poor.  The people of Nicaragua have been very fond of reciting it.  It is the favorite prayer of the poor and superstitious campesinos often carry it as an amulet.  In the time of the old Somoza when the campesinos were required always to carry with them proof that they had voted for him, the poeple jokingly called that document the Magnificat.

Now young ESPERANZA read this poem and the women began to comment on it.

My soul praises the Lord
my heart rejoices in God my Savior,
because he has noticed his slave.

"She praises God because the Messiah is going to be born, and that's a great event for the people."
" She calls God 'Savior' because she knows that the Son that he has given her is going to bring liberation." 
"She is full of joy.  Us women must also be that way, because in our communitiy the Messiah is born too, the liberator."
"She recognizes liberation ... We have to do the same thing.  Liberation is from sin, that is, from selfishness, from injustice, from misery, from ignorance -- eveything that's oppressive.  That liberation is in our wombs too, it seems to me. " 

The last speaker was ANDREA, a young married woman, and now OSCAR, her young husband breaks in:  "God is selfish because he wants us to be his slaves. He wants our submission. Just him.  I don't see why Mary has to call herself a slave. We should be free!  Why just him?  That's selfishness."

ALEJANDRO, who is a bachelor:  "We have to be slaves of God, not of men."
Another young man:  "God is love.  To be a slave of love is to be free because God doesn't make us slaves.  He's the only thing we should be slaves of, love.  And then we don't make slaves of others.'
ALEJANDRO'S MOTHER says:  "To be a slave of God is to serve others.  That slavery is liberation."

I said that it's true that this selfish God Oscar spoke about does exist.  And it's a God invented by people.  People have often invented a god in their own image and likeness - not the true God, but idols, and those religions are alienating, an opium of the people.  But the God of the Bible does not teach religion, but rather he urges Moses to take Israel out of Egypt, where the Jews were working as slaves, He led them from colonialism to liberty.  And later God ordered that among those people no one could hold another as a slave, because they had been freed by him and belonged only to him, which means they were free...

I have reposted this because the insight that these impoverished peasant women and men, in a country under a despot placed there by an imperial power, the United States, who supported him in power, who trained the National Guard that terrorized and murdered them and their children, with impunity, is as good a context as we can find to understand what the birth narrative in Luke must have meant to those who first heard it in an out of the way corner of the mighty Roman Empire.  There is no way for someone who grows up in an imperial state, in 20th century affluence,  certainly not a white man living in the United States in the post-war period, to have their direct knowledge of what the words in the Magnificat means.  For me even my experience as a lower middle-class gay American man who grew up in a relatively modest economic milieu by American standards, doesn't get me near to it.  To try to get there must be an act of imagination that can only be accurately informed by considering what they and others in similar situations have to say.

The words of the Magnificat must have been astonishingly audacious to those who first heard it in the first century Mediterranean basin.  Especially when they would probably have imagined them said, not by a mature woman of even her twenties but a girl in her early teens, the common age of marriage.  For someone that age to claim what Mary does in this text might be unprecedented in literature up to that time.  I'd like to know if that's the case.  Imagine if a poor 14 year old Latina or African American girl who was pregnant and unmarried said something like that today what the reaction would be today.  It would be the butt of jokes and if it was believed it would be fodder for late night stand-up and the clever boys and girls of the online comment community.  Any influence it had in the culture would be laughed out of existence.  Only, that's not what happened in this case, perhaps something of a miracle, as so much about the unlikely existence of Christianity can be seen to be.   Any religion that teaches self-sacrifice, moral obligations and the need to love your enemies even as they persecute you certainly doesn't have the more pleasurable aspects of human nature on its side.  The current test of Christianity isn't science, it is the seductive pleasures of consumer propaganda.

I wish there were more musical settings that would give that aspect of the text more emphasis, by women who have that experience to give them a more genuine comprehension of the words in their fuller context.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

O Rex Gentium

Cantuale Antonianum

O Rex Gentium, et desideratus earum,
O King of the nations and the one they desire
apisque angularis, qui facis utraque unum:
the conerstone who makes both one
veni, et salva hominem,
come and save The People
quem de limo formasti.
who, from earth, you made.

Frei Manuel Cardoso - Magnificat primi toni

Magnificat Primi Tono

Capella Duriensis

O Oriens - Magnificat

No singers listed

by "Brown"?  If someone knows who the composer is I'd like to list their name.
Coro Madrigale

Cecilia McDowall - O Oriens

Choir of Merton College
Benjamin Nicholas, director

Some of the O Antiphon texts seem to inspire composers even more than the others.  This, the shortest of them inspires them to try to reproduce light in sound.

It's Not Christmas Until I Hear Odetta Say It

Alexander Arkhangelsky - My Soul Doth Magnify The Lord

Choir of the Publishing department of the Moscow Patriarchy
Precentor Ariadna Rybakova

Ceasar Cui - Magnificat

Capella Duriensis & Maria Guimaraes

You Don't Really Want THAT Old Time Religion Do You? also Internet Christmas Traditions In The Making

The Oseberg ship burial tapestry (dating no later than 834 AD, when the ship was buried with its two ladies in Vestfold, Norway). The tapestry shows a scene of apparent human sacrifice – or initiation – where nine males are hanging from a large tree in a grove of serpents. Three ladies (the fates?) hover above. The tapestry may possibly give some archaeological support to the written sources about the Uppsala sacrificial grove where nine males are said to have been hung in a sacred grove.

Granted, neo-Pagans, Wiccans, etc. tend to be nice, nature loving, peaceful folk, but the idea that the Yule had much in common with Christmas is pretty silly.  The sparse documentary evidence is that Yule was marked with a pretty bloody sacrifice of animals, blood being splashed around on statues and the such.  And in some places, Uppsala for example, every nine years or so, those sacrifices would include human beings,  nine of them.  If the sins of the Christians during that period count, surely those of the Pagans aren't excused.  You can hardly say that there is some tenet of the Pagan morality that was being violated at the most basic and fundamental level by those sacrifices, by the priest class, often in the interest of the kings' success, especially in war.   Note that the burial where this tapestry was found included "two ladies".  I assume they were killed by some priestess or priest, as is documented by the rare eye-witness account of Ibn Fadlan, so they could be the concubines of some high up thug in the afterlife.  You can point out that all of the combined sins of priests, hierarchs, "Their Most Christian Highnesses" etc, were violations of the teachings of Jesus and his earliest followers, those who heard those teachings from him.

Reposted from last year

Update:  While the internet is disappointingly useful for white supremacists, other species of Nazis (quite a number of them fans of the Pagan tradition mentioned above) and fascists, bigots and haters to organize and recruit - and none so much as the commercial merchants in hatred, objectification and enslavement, pornographers - it is also useful to evaluate how truly horrifying the misinformation that all of that relies on is among the so-called educated class among us today.

One of the more innocuous manifestations of that is the widespread belief that Christmas was, as one atheist hate merchant I ran across online put it, stolen by the Xians from those poor put upon Pagans.  It always does my heart good to see the CSICOP set standing up for the witches, astrologers and necromancers, making common, though temporary cause with them before they denounce them as superstitious idiots, as well.

My friend RMJ has done some explanation of why that is hogwash that was pretty much the invention of, not Pagans, not atheists, but Christians in the form of anti-Christmas Puritans.   Apparently that atheist "meme" was stolen from Christian Calvinsts by the atheists and the online Pagans.   I have mentioned that the internet seems to generate quite a bit of irony.   Since that tripe is a seasonal dish served up this time every year by the history-challenged, research averse Brain Trust of anti-Christian mid-brows, its refutation is bound to become an evergreen, appropriate to the season.

Read RMJ on the topic, his work is quite good.