Saturday, April 7, 2018

Saturday Night Radio Drama - Peter Whalley - The Longest Journey

A man picks up a female hitch-hiker and discovers they are both concealing a secret about a death.. 

John:  Ian Puleston-Davies 
Amy:  Emma Atkins 
Barnes:  Martin Reeve 
George:  Anthony Flanagan 
Don:  Seamus O'Neill 

Director Pauline Harris

I have come to think Peter Whalley was a pretty good playwright.   I was tempted to post the mp3 of this but the Youtube posting was clearer audio. 

Cecil Taylor

I was not surprised to read that the major figure of avant guard music Cecil Taylor had died at the age of 89, an age at which I know many people seem to be shocked that people die.*  I am surprised that a chain smoker such as I've read he was could have made it that far. 

Cecil Taylor's music was always exciting, always pushing out the boundaries of what music was supposed to be, especially of what people thought jazz should be.  He would certainly have not fit into the doctrinaire definitions of it, such as that of Rudi Blesh or as promoted in Ken Burns' very limited PBS series.  I mention that because one member of the talented but conservative Marsalis family, someone whose music is listenable but seldom innovative or boundry pushing pissed me off by dissing the far more talented and courageous Cecil Taylor in it, no doubt discouraging some neophytes from giving Taylor's music a listen**.   That's something that has been pissing me off ever since I heard it when it was first aired.   I say to hell with people who discourage people from trying music. 

The one time I was witness to Cecil Taylor's performance, it was one of the most exciting and fascinating things I've ever heard and seen, an experience that the recordings of his music can give but can't recreate in full.  It was in some ways scary because it was so intense and Cecil Taylor had a way of bringing you into the experience, make you feel that what he was doing was important enough to give it your full attention.  I have, in other places, posted part of his famous collaborative performances with the great figure in jazz, Mary Lou Williams, which was as fascinating for its being a congenial mixture of oil and water, their approaches were so different that the account of the difficulties were almost as interesting as the results.  Given that, as a piano player, Mary Lou Williams was always pushing boundaries, trying new things, going new places, even in her late and to an extent retrospective performances, it was worth hearing.  And I will be posting some of their collaboration with some of the recordings of Cecil Taylor's music in the coming week. 

I can imagine their happy meeting in glory is at least as exciting. 

*  I read such shocked lamentations histrionically made, declaring that it was proof that there is no God, when the etimable Irwin Corey died at the age of 102 last year.   I wonder what kind of joke Corey would have gotten out of such a display. 

**  Speaking about Jazz, the Burns series, not the music:

Until the final segments, Jazz maintains a flat, dull tone. But as the 1960’s come around and the history of the music itself loses an obvious linear thread, the hand of Mr. Marsalis becomes more evident. Regarding the avant-garde pianist Cecil Taylor, the film gets downright nasty–and it is Mr. Marsalis’ brother, Branford, who gets to wield the ax. He calls Mr. Taylor’s music “self-indulgent bullshit.” Then critic Gene Lees opines, “He has every right to make the music he wants, and I have every right to listen to something else.”

I can't say that I ever got excited at hearing Branford Marsalis's music.

Should Reread

RMJ posted a really good piece yesterday, it's what I'm coming to think of as a copy, print out, re-read and read the citations post, not many bloggers write those. 

Hate Mail - You Should Just Shut The Fuck Up About Free Speech!!! (paraphrased)

Put out of your mind the picture of the tolerant aristocrat, the great liberal, the eloquent defender of our liberties, the Yankee from Olympus. All that was savage, harsh, and cruel, a bitter and lifelong pessimist who saw in the course of human life nothing but a continuing struggle in which the rich and powerful impose their will on the poor and weak.

Grant Gilmore on Oliver Wendell Holmes jr.

Justice Holmes proved to be a shadowed figure, marked by the bigotry and sexism of his age who in personal letters seemed to espouse a kind of fascist ideology.  He was a violent, combative, womanizing aristocrat whose contributions to the development of law was difficult to define. 

Sheldon M. Novick author of Honorable Justice:  The Life of Oliver Wendell Holmes

I don't lightly say that the free speech rulings starting with the Sullivan decision under the sometimes rather meat-headed Warren court  and its related rulings such as Buckley vs. Valeo during the more often meat-headed Berger court, or the rulings under the most often depraved Rehnquist and the current Roberts courts are bringing us to the point where democracy will be pitched into fascism on the empowerment of lies.   That's not a matter to be taken lightly nor do I take the possible consequences of punishing the media for lying lightly. 

All of the possibilities all the possible consequences of this issue carry dangers.  The pretense of free speech absolutism is that by magic the puny little "more speech" of some puffed-up academic or journalistic scribbler in some largely unread journal is going to magically counter the lies of FOX or Sinclaire or the other corporate entities that are bringing us to the point where lies rule and so we have fascism instead of government by an informed electorate, well, that was not only ridiculous to start with, it has been disproved in the hardest of ways, by real life. 

I began with that great hero of "free speech" faith Holmes, because the adulation of him which I absorbed from the liberalish-lefty culture of my adulthood was, itself based on lies, much of it, I suspect stemming from the play and, more so, movie they made about him in the 1930s, the Magnificent Yankee.   As I found when doing the first real research I ever did on him, looking at original sources and the testimony of his long-time associates and friends, especially his longtime secretary and distinguished judge,  Francis Biddle, it wouldn't be anything but honest to say that this lion of free speech had a lot more in common with the fascists of Europe than he did anyone who really believes in democracy.   I'm convinced that his aristocratic disdain for the large majority of his fellow human beings, reinforced by his 19th century scientism and, especially, his Darwinism pretty well smashes any idea that Oliver Wendell Holmes jr. had anything but disdain for the idea of democracy, an idea which I have come to believe will be exposed ever more in the "free speech absolutist" cohort as we witness the lies enabled by their ideology made law do what they have done since 1968, elect an increasingly fascistic series of Republicans, relieved only by moderates who have to contend with the "free speech" ideology and its base of true believers, appointing more of those to the court and cementing into place the Age of Lies which rule us now.

If you doubt that, you should consult Holmes "The Path of The Law," his articulation of his scientistic view of the law, his pretense that law and governance can be made scientific.he said 

For my own part, I often doubt whether it would not be a gain if every word of moral significance could be banished from the law altogether, and other words adopted which should convey legal ideas uncolored by anything outside the law. We should lose the fossil records of a good deal of history and the majesty got from ethical associations, but by ridding ourselves of an unnecessary confusion we should gain very much in the clearness of our thought.

Or course, that's the pretense of the atheistic-materialistic intellectual program, that such "clearness of our thought" is attainable, that the absolute predictability and reliability which is what those who don't think hard about the actual character of science imagine it produces - if you want a good example of how silly that idealized vision of science is, read the arguments between the proponents of various views of it.  I found reading the criticism of Karl Popper and the response of his defenders an eye-opener in that regard.   For anyone, especially a practicing lawyer and judge to have the view of law that Holmes did only goes to show you how we've allowed them to get away with murder - in the case of judges, often literally so. 

But the idea that the law should give up any ideas of moral significance would certainly run into many problems, the concept of truth, of guilt and innocence, of rights, any laws prohibiting even murder are based in moral concepts.  There was a practical problem for Francis Biddle in his role as the chief judge at the Nuremberg Trials that impinges on that idea, what the Nazis did in their genocidal campaigns, in their conduct of war was all legal under duly adopted law in Germany and, after the Anschluss, Austria and in the lands invaded by them.   Strictly speaking, under the theory of his mentor, what the Nazis did wasn't illegal and there was no legal justification for holding them accountable, certainly not while doing so on German soil.   Holmes is often presented as a great philosopher of law but he was a really bad philosopher if, as most materialist-scientistic-atheists (and he was all three) he refused to ever follow his own preferred ideological framing to its logical conclusion for things he liked but which would have to have fallen under his claimed basis for it.

I have come to see Holmes as a mostly malignant figure, an out of place plaster statue in the hagiography of 20th century, especially post-war liberals, proving that even the college-credentialed among them, have failed to really read the primary material on him, relying on costume drama and bio-fictional accounts of him and cherry-picked citations and quotes.   His "free speech" statements, after his opinion in Schenck v. United States,  are mothers milk to so many of those, even as they ignore that his motives were hardly to promote equality and that he had a deep seated hatred of anything like economic justice.   I think any subsequent judicial reasoning that flows from his concepts are probably liable to produce unintended consequences.   I also see the influence of Holmes as flowing from the confusion between the liberalism I hold, the traditional American definition which is the basis of egalitarian democracy and the "enlightenment", what is most consistent with what is defined as neo-liberalism which is hostile to or at least in unavoidable conflict with egalitarian liberalism which is based, not on science, but in morality. 

Well, we are living with the consequences of allowing the mass media to lie.  Everything, from the Putin mafia's influence in our election, the self-advertised expertise of the Mercer company Cambridge Analytica,  the spewings of FOX and Sinclair, the results of the mowing down of campaign finance laws - a response to the corruption of the post-Sullivan decision political world as expressed in Nixon and, even more so, Reagan - all spring from that view of free speech absolutism, in which, we have seen, lies will govern, billionaire oligarchs intent on preventing democracy and government of, by and, especially FOR THE PEOPLE, all of it flows from that position of pudding-headed liberalism, much of it based on the words of a Justice who hated the traditional American liberalism of equality of all People  and economic justice.   

My fellow liberals, we got suckered, definitively.  We got suckered from lines popularized in the media - the primary pushers and primary economic beneficiaries of that line.   I pointed out that all alternatives in regard to the regulation of speech carried dangers - like so many human issues, that is true of.  We have found out that when you allow lies to flow freely, we get the results we have and all that magical-imaginary-"more speech" doesn't hinder the rise of fascism in a regime of lies.  The Holmesian desideratum of the rich and powerful crushing the have-nots flourishes and the "free speech - more speech" crowd will eat the crumbs from their masters' tables.   Nat Hentoff, Mr. Free Speech of The Nation, the Progressive and Village Voice ended his days as a whore at the Cato Institute.    The foremost voices in favor of "free speech" c. 2018 are neo-Nazis and fascists.

Note:  Grant Gilmore reportedly struggled with writing a biography of Holmes for a number of years and gave up the project.   I suspect it is because, as he really considered what Holmes said, the real results of his holdings, that he, as I, found him to be entirely not as sold but a really terrible figure any honest presentation of who will be at odds with the public relations snow job we've been sold for about a century. 

I really do believe that a lot of the worst results of "free speech" and other claims of liberalism are as a result of clinging on to ill thought out ideas which produce anything but egalitarian democracy.   I think those Canadians who say speech is a right but it is only one of many rights have a more realistic view of how to handle the issue.  They have the advantage of having a modern Constitution instead of the 18th century antique, theirs is, no doubt, informed by the results of the experiment which our Constitution was, with all its appalling shortcomings which it prevents us from fixing. I would love it if we just adopted the Canadian one to replace the dangerous rattle trap we've got 

No matter what we do, everything from allowing any lie, any hate-speech free reign in an unregulated media to unacceptable levels of restriction on speech has dangers.  We can't avoid those dangers no matter what we choose, but we have found out that in the present legal climate, fascism will crush the rights of many others and billionaires will use the mass media to lie people into that.   That's what billionaire oligarchs do, here and abroad and they have little to no care about the American People anymore than Putin's mafia does the Russian people.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Eric Dolphy - Booker's Waltz

Eric Dolphy (bass clarinet)
Booker Little (trumpet)
Mal Waldron (piano)
Richard Davis (bass)
\Ed Blackwell (drums)

Booker Little Quartet - Bee Tee's Minor Plea

Booker Little (trumpet)
Wynton Kelly (piano)
Scott LaFaro (bass)
Roy Haynes (drums)

I haven't had much time to go exploring for jazz I'm not that familiar with, following players who I'm not familiar with who played with players I'm familiar with.   Didn't know much about Booker Little before today.   

I'm hoping to get back to posting more jazz from now on.  Mostly stuff that isn't too standard. 

If Lies Prevail They Will Rule Us And The Billionaires Are Counting On That, So Is The Majority on the Supreme Court

Listening to a Youtube of  Rob Reiner on Ari Melber's show, Reiner correctly said that Valdimir Putin not only wants to destroy our democracy, he wants to destroy democracy around the globe.  Which is something I think is true and which proves that his post-Soviet continuation of Soviet Communism as a capitalist mafia state was no real change at all.   The biggest mistake that was made about the Soviet Union was in taking any of the babble about it being in any way a socialist system as anything but PR smokescreens.   The Soviet Union, really all dictatorships, are best seen as oligarchic mafia states in which the real purpose of the ruling class is their perpetuation and enrichment through theft and corruption.   And, since that purpose is at odds with the goals of democracy, especially egalitarian democracy and the promotion of honest government and economic as well as legal justice, all oligarchs everywhere are constantly at war with democracy, always trying to find ways to undermine and destroy the reality of democracy, even if they maintain a pantomime of elections and rule of law.

The welcomed focus of the American media on the foreign oligarchs in Russia and elsewhere who ratfucked our election shouldn't blind us to the fact that our domestic oligarchs have been doing the same thing, continually, throughout our history.   The latest phase of that has been far more organized and far more a product of the intellectual prostitution of academic, journalistic and intellectual entities and individuals, such thins as the Federalist Society, the Ivy League system, the media, they've all played their part.   It really doesn't make any difference if the oligarchs who want to destroy democracy speak Russian or English, they're no more loyal to the American People or people anywhere who deserve self-government that serves them instead of the oligarchs.

I am convinced that the greatest danger to the United States isn't Russia, it certainly isn't the Russian People, it's billionaires, whether located in Russia or Britain or China or Texas or New York City.   The most effective means of protecting us from them is to overturn the Supreme Court rulings that, though the ruse of the First Amendment, has opened up our country, the media, the very elections system to being hijacked by the billionaires and multi-millionaires who have been corrupting our government in the last 50 years. 

The genius of Putin was in using the vulnerabilities created by such rulings as the Supreme Court brought to benefit our domestic oligarchs, the ones that aren't built into the Constitution by 18th century oligarchs, slave-owners and the merchant and banking class of the North.   They were joined by 19th and 20th century industrialists who the Court served in creating one of the clearest anti-democratic abominations in our history, corporate personhood. 

The courts, especially the Supreme Court, the least democratic, really non-democratic part of the government has played the biggest role in creating our vulnerability to virtual invasion by billionaires.  Considering the collusion of American billionaires with Putin and such entities as Cambridge Analytica, you can consider them to be the mercenaries of the Mercers, the Kochs, etc. or those Americans as the collaborators of the Putin class of foreign billionaire oligarchs. 

I'd like to know more about the role of old line American Communists and their fellow chumps and stooges played in the line of court cases that led to this vulnerability and the extent to which they were carrying water for the Soviet and other regimes.   The absurd idea that if only we deregulated the media to carry any content, lies, pornography, fascist and Nazi propaganda that it would lead to the glorious messaging of Marxists to be heard and insure victory as the Workers of America united to overturn capitalism was, in fact, a part of it,  I just wish I knew the extent to which that played a roll in the absurdity and insanity of making and leaving ourselves vulnerable to this kind of ratfucking was planned.   If I had the time and resources, I would look into the extent that the meatheads of the ACLU and their like had links to that ideological stupidity.   I know a number of them did.

We have a choice to make, we can protect ourselves and the information we have a right to in order to govern ourselves based on the truth instead of lies and propaganda, from those influences that sabotage that whether holding American citizenship or not (remember the Aussie-Brit Murdoch was given it for the purpose of ratfucking our system for billionaires) or we can live under the domination and dictatorship of the oligarchs.   What happens in Russia can happen here, only it will probably look a bit more like life for Black People under Jim Crow if not worse.   The translation might sound like vernacular American English but it won't be anything we would want.  That the Supreme Court says so should not be allowed to destroy democracy or even the hope of it. 

And I do mean that we can't allow the interpretations of the Constitution that have made us vulnerable stand, they must be overturned, lies must not be allowed prevail because if they do, lies will rule us.  No matter what the Court says the  Constitution says.   The Republicans on the Supreme Court are the servants of billionaires, foreign and domestic.

Cry Me A River

I hate to say it but I don't feel sorry for those farmers in the mid-west and other Trump states who are going to be targeted by the smart Chinese retaliation for their stupid faux-fur fuhrer's trade tantrums.  The ones who voted for him.  If there's one thing you can be sure of, China has smarter, more savvy despots than the U. S. was given by Putin and our domestic oligarchs.   

I would normally feel sorry that anyone is suffering for the stupidity of having Trump in office but I can't feel sorry for those who asked for it.   Same goes for those who work in the other sectors that China is targeting to retaliate.   I'll spend my sorrow on the people who are already suffering under Trump, the ones so many of his his supporters wanted to crush under ICE jackboots and the such.  

Of course, that doesn't go for people who live in those states and who farm and produce those products who voted against Trump and the Republican-fascists in congress.   They are the victims of the goddamned Electoral College system.   If there were no Electoral College China wouldn't have been able to so effectively target states for retaliation, though there still are the congressional delegations of those states.   Consider this a tax on hatred in your states, or gullibility.  

America in general should consider this a tax on allowing the media to lie us into a period of some of the most corrupt governance in our period, one which won't end until they can't lie on TV and radio with impunity.   It's a tax we've been paying continually since 1969, when lies brought Nixon to office. 

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Jordan Nobels - Simulacrum

Jerry Pergolesi - director and percussion
Sarah Fraser Raff - violin
Wallace Halladay, saxophone
Allison Wiebe, piano
Rob MacDonald, guitar
Peter Pavlovsky, double bass
Mary Katherine Finch, cello
with Emma Elkinson, flute

Here's another performance of this piece. The program notes for this performance say:

"Simulacrum passes a single melody throughout the different instruments of the ensemble: each musician takes a turn as soloist and temporarily assumes the mantle of authority.  When not featured in a solo capacity, the members of the ensemble act as a 'hall of mirrors' for the soloist, reflecting fragments of phrases, reminiscing past events, and occasionally anticipating changes in melodic trajectory.  A 'definitive performance' is impossible - the formal construct is up to the discretion of the musicians in the moment, ensuring that every presentation is unique."

University of Regina New Music Ensemble
Unfortunately the performers and conductor aren't given.

Hate Mail

Oh, dear.   Do I have to cite Quincy Jones again?    Yeah, what he said. 

Update Hate:  I don't know anything about the accusations against James Levine other than that article.  If he's accused of something illegal, indict him and try him.  If he's guilty of a serious crime I have no problem with giving him a prison sentence.  I wonder if fans of rock musicians would consider the behavior reportedly rampant among them to be as bad as Levine.  

Considering where you brought this from, the guy's stand on lowering the age of consent - as I recall he's written on his blog complaining that 15 isn't too young and considering that's the age of the victim in question when he claims the first incidence happened - his bringing this up is incredibly hypocritical.  

I don't think it's ever acceptable for a teacher to come on to a student or a mentor to a protégé.  I'm amazed if what they're saying is true there wasn't trouble over that domineering behavior decades ago.  I'd never have put up with it, even when I was 15.  I dumped a teacher over him trying to change my hand position in a way I thought would be damaging.  If one of them told me I had to choose between my mother and him I'd have told him to go soak his head. 

James Levine is one of the finest conductors of the post-war period but art is only art even at that level, it's not a license to commit crime.  But you need a trial with evidence tested before deciding there was a crime.  

The Entertainment - Journalistic Irresponsibility Of The Affluent Is Killing Us

While lighting the woodstove the other day I ran across a piece about the death of the Broadway composer-lyricist Michael Friedman due to AIDS at the age of 41, about the age of many of the men and women I knew who died of AIDS in the 1980s and 90s.  That a highly educated (Harvard grad), affluent man who was five years old when the first cases of AIDS started being reported and was seven when the Center for Disease Control published its findings that this terrifying new syndrome was almost certainly caused by an infections agent spread by unprotected sex and needle sharing and, several weeks later, the actual virus, HIV, was identified should die of AIDS in 2017 was pretty shocking.  Especially shocking is that Micheal Friedman, certainly one of the most successful young composer-lyricists and, I'd guess, not poor, not discriminated against, not disadvantaged, WAS DIAGNOSED NINE WEEKS BEFORE HIS DEATH.  He was not a member of the most at-risk groups, Black People, Latinos, especially those living in the American South, he was a member of a still at-risk group, White Gay Males.  I am appalled that after thirty-four years since HIV was identified, after the ways it is spread were identified, sex, especially anal sex, though also vaginal sex, and needle exchange, such a story would appear in the New York Times about highly educated, affluent people.  It is disgusting that the richest country in the world has any but the most rare of infections going on four decades into the epidemic when we know how it is spread and almost all of those means of transmission are preventable.

Reading the piece published in the New York Times last October 15th brought the terrible experience of witnessing AIDS in the LGBT population back to me and it reminded me that the subsequent presentation of sex since the age of AIDS was declared ended by mainstream American publications in the 1990s.   In the wake of the creation of a series of effective, then, ineffective, treatments of HIV infection, the popularization of the forms of sex most likely to infect people and promiscuity as well as the revival of heroin addiction - brought to you by way of Big Pharma and the opioid industry - has contributed to the profound depression I'm in right now.

We, as a people, have learned nothing from the deaths of those who died of AIDS in the 1980s till today 

not only that but the media has promoted everything, from opioid ads on TV and promotion through talk-shows to anal sex and pornography and promiscuity.   And that is something that is true for the media of the alleged left as it is the mainstream media and entertainment.   Though I would say that probably the most responsibility for popularizing such behavior has to go to entertainment TV and the movies, because that's what most people watch.   Alternet and Salon have certainly contributed to the sexual milieu in which HIV spreads, especially among children and young adults,  but few people read them as compare to watching the porn they support and the movies and TV shows that promote irresponsible sex.  That you could watch ads for opioids which led directly to the increase of heroin injection between segments only add to their culpability.

That the New York Times is where I read about the death of Micheal Friedman is ironic because it was the same venue where I first read the irresponsible claim that "The Plague" had ended two decades ago.   Much as I detest him and think he was part of the criminal  irresponsibility, Andrew Sullivan's article wasn't nearly as bad as the headline message, one that was repeated and promoted the idea that HIV-AIDS was a "manageable problem" a plague that had ended.  That wasn't and isn't the truth.  It's especially not true for poor People, for Black People, for members of other minority groups, it certainly isn't true for people who are in the bondange to the sex industry.   I think there is a large amount of racism and class bias in the media treatment or, rather, non-treatment of AIDS after the time when many of its affluent White Male carriers with the money to pay for the series of drug protocols they needed to survive, living in an urban setting where it was conveniently available to them and the education to understand the importance of strict adherence to their doctors' advice let the matter drop as their publications popularized anal sex, hooking-up and porn-prostitution.

Recently there has been a dangerous new strain of HIV discovered in the Philippines, a country which has seen a drastic increase in HIV-AIDS, more than 3,100 percent, in the past decade.   Last year their mafia-president Duterte was advising against condom use.  He did so, not on the basis of Catholic teaching but on the basis that so many American men have rejected them, they don't find sex with them satisfying.  You can scoff and snark all you want but what he's doing is really nothing that the porn industry here promotes to young men and women, children, as you can see all over the web if you research what they really promote.  The porn industry in Los Angeles, which employs prostitutes from the interlinking vector of STD transmission which are the "actors" in porn did a huge campaign to try to overturn the regulations on porn filmed in Los Angeles county requiring the use of condoms.  I had some huge rows about that with First Amendment fan boys and gals, and I suspected, at least one porn industry troll at Alternet and Salon and elsewhere.  I can't say that the largely college educated crowds that comment in those places were very enthusiastic for the protection of the "sex workers" through that regulation.

I could probably spend a year of research and writing on this issue, producing evidence that the American media, the American journalistic establishment and, most of all the entertainment industry has promoted out People as a perfect vector in which either a new round of AIDS deaths or some new sexually-needle transmitted virus or bacteria disease could arise.  The irresponsibility has really been that big.  The population of the Philippines, the Black and Latino  populations of the impoverished, discriminated against rural South have excuses which the affluent, well-connected, educated urban population in control of the media don't have.

This UN video is six years old.  Have you heard about this yet?

Questions I Wish I Knew The Answer To. Pharisees Of The Pseudo-Left

I remember way, way back during my senior year in college, when I was thinking of grad schools one of my non-music profs who went there recommended the University of Wisconsin at Madison, his alma mater.  Knowing my political inclinations he tried to sell me on it as "the Berkeley of the mid-west".  You know, good ol' Robert La Follette* and all that.  I didn't take that route.  Which I have never had a seconds regret about.   I knew, of course, that Madison, Wisconsin had a vocal "left" though that was largely due to it being the home of The Progressive magazine, famous more for its attention grabbing stunt of publishing how to build an a-bomb instructions than for breaking much news.  I was a subscriber and remained one for many years, though it was the first of the lefty magazines I dropped as I became disillusioned with them.  Not because I saw them as too far left, I saw them as a liability for the real left, a promoter of futile ballot-box poison, often on extremely unimportant issues.   

In Matthew 23:23 Jesus said:

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.  

For once in the King James Version because I like the way it puts it. 

The secular left has done pretty much the same thing, tithing mint and cumin in regard to court cases against manger scenes and idolatrous slogans on money that, if they offend anyone, should offend those who rightly see it as making a golden calf out of every bill and coin it appears on. That is what I've been talking about when I point out the cost of carrying water for atheists and misidentifying their obsessions with de-religionizing public life which is, among other things, massively unpopular and which has had an inordinate cost to the real left, the passing of  which we could well date to the day The Reverend Martin Luther King jr was assassinated.   

I might include a point that even one of the most prominent liberal politicians of the 1980s once criticized, carrying on as if support for the porn industry and the commercialization of bodies under the sex industry, prostitution and for-view prostitution, was a liberal position when the truth is it was contrary to the values of any real left but one of pseudo-lefty libertarianism.  I'd already started being skeptical of the First Amendment absolutism of the futilitarian left and having that pointed out only encouraged me in that thinking. 

Looking at the struggle in Wisconsin to overthrow the Republican-fascist rule sponsored by domestic billionaire fascists, I have wondered how much the influence of the Progressive magazine crowd and such Madison based groups as The Freedom from Religion Foundation, Atheists, Humanists, and Agnostics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is what really has had to be overcome to convince people to vote for Democrats in that state.   I am certain there has been some cost to Democrats in Wisconsin from their publicity stunts and whatever influence they have with the putative progressive vote in that state.  Lots of people on what is potentially that voting left will buy their bilge as the real right way to be a liberal, certainly a lefty and that pressure will be brought to bear on a Democratic politician trying to eke out a win.  My biggest question is how much a Democratic politician will lose by supporting their positions as to what such a voting bloc can actually turn out in numbers of votes.  And whether or not, just in terms of raw vote numbers it will produce as to what it will cost you.  And, since there is another side, how Republican-fascists will use any hostility to such an interest group to get out their vote.  

You can easily turn that into a series of equations, something I once did as a thought experiment.  I doubt any candidate has ever done it like that but they have to try to guess which fringe issues they need to be associated with or to publicly distance themselves from and what that will mean for their prospects of doing what the whole point of it is, WINNING ELECTIONS, TAKING THE OFFICE AND USING IT TO MAKE LAWS TO MAKE LIFE BETTER FOR EVERYONE.   

My guess is that with the organized and funded voice of fanatical atheism in Wisconsin, any Wisconsin Democrat will have to make a hard decision before they allow themselves to be associated with some of their more irresponsible stunts and demands.   I'm sure they'll have to wonder how dangerous it is for their electoral prospects to either be seen to be with them or to reject them.  It's not the only special interest group that politicians have to make those judgements about but I'll bet you it's one of the least productive in terms of actual votes and electoral success and one of the most costly to Democrats.  

I wish I knew the answers to those questions, I wish real numbers could be put into the variables involved in making those decisions are.  Most of all I wish that liberals would wise up and realize that atheism is not a liberal position, it never was and there was never any reason for us to take on the burden of them and their petty demands.  As I pointed out the other day, lots of them, I would guess at bottom, most of them are libertarians, not liberals.   If we could dump 'em, I wouldn't have ever started writing about them.  They're not that interesting.  Not as compared to equality, justice and the realities of how you can have self-government by an enformed electorate. 

*  I know of one media lefty who advocated writing in La Follette's name on the ballot as a "protest" vote in 1980, the election that brought us Reagan.   I had enormous affection for the guy but that affection took a huge hit from that bit of broadcast stupidity.  

Note:  I do have a lot of respect for any Democrat who runs for office, even a relatively minor local or state office and having worked on some campaigns, I know they are forced to try to guess how much they will lose over some finge issues and fringe issues successfully sold to gullible liberals as some worthy cause generally couched in the language of lofty principle when it's really just them wanting their own way over something unimportant.   I think "secularism" really atheism as such a series of issues has been instrumental in the electoral successes OF REPUBLICAN-FASCISTS.   

Separated At Senility?

Image result for roger stone beretImage result for steve simels

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Applied Science

Living on the left you may eventually come across a very rare species, the principled, Hegelian cheap-skate. The few I’ve met have been Marxists, though I’ve read about other varieties, even anarchist skin flints. This scruple against giving alms or charity avoids corrupting the destitute into complaisance by making life too easy for them. You might ask what separates the leftist tight wad from those who make up a far larger percentage of the right? The ones who we justly think of as selfish swine? As usual, it’s different because it’s a matter of science. “Science” is supposed to settle all questions of motivation, isn’t it? You see, in addition to affording the poor the moral benefits of the strenuous life, whether or not they like it, depriving them the price of a sandwich is a means to force them to shake off their torpor and do their part in pushing the dialectic ever onward, back and forth, until the glorious day of its arrival at its scientifically determined destiny.

One example, who could be named but who may still be alive and, one imagines, might be litigious, was a minor fixture of the New York left of earlier decades. He was a noticeably comfortable psychotherapist who on at least one occasion said that he had held to the principle against charity since learning it as a red-diaper baby. And, being what he turned out to be, I’d guess he still holds to it. In less charitable moments one suspects that his subsequent drift from Marxism to neo-conservatism in the great migration of the late 60s and 70s was due to his realizing he wasn’t quite the figure in the left that he had believed himself to be. Though, thinking it over perhaps the former Marxist was doing his part to move history onward. No doubt, if this is true, he is just awaiting the word, printed in some small magazine with a plain cover and chaste type face, that the dialectic over Manhattan is on the move again. Propitiation sufficed. And, if he hasn’t since died, he will end his days as a neo-com.

None of the devotees of principled stinginess who I’ve observed, though, have undertaken self-improvement and applied their principle to themselves, voluntarily making their own lot more desperately miserable in order to rouse themselves from the coffee house table or book shop stall to the barricades and a more active part in the workings of history.

As we see, some principles of science are easier to put into practical effect than others.

First posted at Echidne of the Snakes in 2008

Update 2018  I just looked him up, he's still alive and still a big jerk.  The kind who would sue.

Don't Donate To NPR Or Its Affiliates

Why does NPR have David Greene interviewing Republican media shyster David Rivkin talking about the "integrity" of the disgraceful Scott Pruitt as I'm typing this?  That would be Scott Pruitt who was openly accepting sweetheart deals and obviously doing things both inside and well outside of his official duties benefiting those giving him such deals.  It's only the really sleazy kind of lawyer who could pretend that wasn't obvious and obviously corrupt.  

I don't think I've heard a more dishonest four minutes in the media recently, at least not by someone not a member of the Trump regime.   And, remember, Rivkin was a "never-Trumper".   

And, for reference, Rivkin is a product of the prestigious Ivy League Columbia University and the may as well be Ivy Georgetown.  The contribution of such elite universities to our indigenous white collar criminal class and their apologists in the media.  David Green is a Harvard product. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Dazu gibt es bis heute keine Alternative

Das Christendom ist für das normative Selbstverständnis der Moderne nicht nur eine Vorläufergestalt 

Christianity is, for normative understanding of modernity, not only a preformation

oder ein Katalysator gewesen.

or a catalyst.

Der egalitäre Universalismus, aus dem die Ideen von Freiheit und solidarischem Zusammenleben, 

Egalitarian universalism, from which the ideas of freedom and communal concord

von autonomer Lebensführung und Emanzipation, von individueller Gewissensmoral,

of autonomous life and emancipation, of individual moral conscience

Menschenrechten und Demokratie entsprungen sind, 

human rights and democracy have sprung from, 

ist unmittelbar ein Erbe der jüdischen Gerechtigkeits

is an unmitigated inheritance from the Jewish doctrine of justice

-und der christlichen Liebesethik. 

and the Christian ethic of love.

In der Substanz unverändert, 

In unchanged substance

ist dieses Erbe immer wieder kritisch angeeignet und neu interpretiert worden. 

this inheritance has been critically adopted, over and over, and newly interpreted.

Dazu gibt es bis heute keine Alternative.

For that [meaning for producing all those things] there is till today no alternative.

Auch angesichts der aktuellen Herausforderungen einer postnationalen Konstellation 

Even given the present challenges [to Christianity] in a post national world,

zehren wir nach wie vor von dieser Substanz. 

we feed from this substance [ the combination of Jewish justice and love in Christianity]

Alles andere ist postmodernes Gerede".

Everything else is postmodern babble.

In other words, Christianity isn't a mere precursor or a catalyst for those things listed, it is the very thing that nourishes them, even today, there is no alternative source of those things. 

Jürgen Habermas - "Zeit der Übergänge"  [Time of Transitions] (Suhrkamp Verlag, 2001) p. 174f.  With my phrase by phrase, even word by word translation.   I don't generally do translation because if some idiot wants to quibble over it, it's pointless to argue it to an audience that doesn't read the language.  The boob I translated this to argue over it with clearly couldn't read German and he couldn't tell me what I'd gotten wrong but he claimed it didn't mean what it clearly does.

I know you think the world of yourself and they think you're real kew-el at the ol' "brain trust", but, really, you ain't no Jürgen Habermas.  Your empty categorical statement on that is no more meaningful than any of the empty categorical statements of Camille Paglia or Glenn Beck or Jordan Peterson.  You've never done anything for anyone just as your audience has pretty much never done anything for anyone.   And you don't have the slightest idea of what you're talking about on the blog of a bored, lazy fop. 

On Revisiting Some Old Lefty Blogs Over The Weekend

First, Tuesdays always tend to be bad days for me to write, too many demands of for-pay work, and that's just the start of it. 

Second is this illness that is slowly receeding but which has really taken any ginger out of me.

Third there is the general torpor of exhaustion from the fight against Trumpian fascism, especially now that corporate media, Disney, Sinclair, the friggin' NYT are in the process of normalizing fascism and thus defeating any nascent resistance.   But we were warned about this by the estimable Gil Scott Heron nearly a half a century ago.   Only the revolution is not going to be anything like anyone imagined.  If that is going to come it won't be a revolution, revolutions are notorious for failing.   At least that kind of revolution.  The revolution if it is going to be anything is going to be a real alternative and if that doesn't come . . . well, I'll save Hosea for a while.   If this turns into a series, I haven't planned it.

This was motivated by my looking at some of the blogs I used to go to in my early days of blog hopping online and seeing that the ones that are still operating are mostly tired old lefties in competitive snarking saying the same old things they were saying on Easter ten, twelve, fourteen years ago.  EXACTLY the same things.   And, let me remind you because they will almost as regularly as this product promised,  they're the smarties.

I know this passage from Walter Brueggemann's book, The Prophetic Imagination is intended to evoke thought on the part of people who preach but its critique of "liberals" and "conservatives" is what I thought of when I saw the tired old lefties of secularism over the weekend and I think, especially, its critique of liberals is spot on for secular politics as well. 

The hypothesis I will explore here in this:  The task of prophetic ministry is to nurture, nourish, and evoke a consciousness and perception  alternative to the consciousness and perception of the dominant culture around us.   Thus I suggest that prophetic ministry has to do not primarily with addressing specific public crises but with addressing, in season and out of season, the dominant crisis that is enduring and resilient, of having our alternative vocation co-opted and domesticated.   It may be, of course, that this enduring crisis manifests itself in any given time around concrete issues,  but it concerns the enduring crisis that runs from concrete issue to concrete issue.  That point is particularly important to ad hoc liberals who run  from issue to issue without discerning the enduring domestication of vision in all of them. 

Let me break in right there because if that's a legitimate criticism for religious liberals, it is ever so much more true for secular liberalism which not only isn't looking for a real alternative to the domestication that comes from what Brueggemann elsewhere called  "The Modern-Industrial-Scientific Model."  Secular liberalism, certainly since the rise of CSICOP in 1976 and its successful bullying of the imagination of such people especially in academia and the media, is as afraid of making any fundamental criticism of the common, basic assumptions of that as conservatives generally feel disinclined to challenge it in any real way.  Liberals are even afraid of imagining or articulating any critique of it for fear of being labeled as superstitious, perhaps an apostate of science and the mental straight jacket that such people call "reason".   That's exactly what got me labeled as having the cooties by the kew-el kids when I realized that their ideological basis was not only a hindrance but poisonous to any liberalism that would make any kind of change.  It's not for nothing that so many "skeptics," atheists, really are libertarians, market capitalists, scientific racists and sexists and pretty conservative. 

The alternative consciousness to be nurtured, on the one hand, serves to criticize in dismantling the dominant consciousness.  To that extent, it attempts to do what the liberal tendency has done, engage in a rejection and deligitimizing of the present order of things.  On the other hand, that alternative consciousness to be nurtured serves to energize persons and communities by its promise of another time and situation toward which the community of faith may move.  To that extent it attempts to do what the conservative tendency has done, to live in fervent anticipation of the newness that God has promised and will surely give. 

In thinking this way, the key word is alternative, and every prophetic minister and prophetic community must engage in a struggle with that notion.  Thus, alternative to what?  In what ways alternative?  How radically alternative?  Finally, is there a thinkable alternative that will avoid domestication?  

How radically alternative, indeed.  How immune to domestication.   I don't think it's exactly what Brueggemann was thinking of but it is remarkable how much of the time of the bored, tired, jaded, would-be left of the kind I'm talking about spends on "life-style" issues, snobbery in music, fashion, even food choices.   I remember being suspicious of the turn to what became called "life-style" in the 1970s was part of a campaign to diminish the likelihood of any continued progress through the promotion of snobbery - it came with a boom in nostalgia entertainment fare and disco. 

 And, quite concretely,  how does one present and act out alternatives in a community of faith which on the whole does not understand that there are any alternatives, or is not prepared to embrace such if they come along?   Thus it is a practice of ministry for which there is little readiness,  indeed, not even among its would be practitioners.  So, my programmatic urging is that every act of a minister who would be prophetic is part of a way of evoking, forming, and reforming an alternative community.  And this applies to every facet and every practice of ministry.  It is a measure of our enculturation that the various acts of ministry (for example, counseling, administration, even liturgy) have taken on lives and functions of their own rather than being seen as elements of the one prophetic ministry of formation and reformation of alternative community.   
The functional qualifiers, critical and energizing, are important.  I suggest that the dominant culture, now and in every time, is grossly uncritical, cannot tolerate serious and fundamental criticism ,and will go to great lengths to stop it.  Conversely, the dominant culture is a wearied culture, nearly unable to be seriously energized to new promises from God. 

I will remind you that in his The Bible Makes Sense, Brueggemann identified that dominant culture as The Modern-Industrial-Scientific Model.  I would add materialistic, in both vulgar and elite forms and scientistic-secular to that description.   And it is and has been the basic ideological basis of the atheist, would-be left, since the 18th century.   Even any vestiges of the traditional American liberalism based in the justice of the Hebrew tradition and the Christian ethic of love, found among such secularists, tends to erode into torpor and cynicism and just general lassitude - go look at any long-standing would-be lefty blogging community to see the evidence of that, if they didn't give up years ago, already.

We, know, of course, that none of us relishes criticism, but we may also recognize that none of us much relishes energizing either, for that would demand something of us.  The task of prophetic ministry is to hold together criticism and energizing, for I should urge that either by itself is not faithful to our best tradition.  Our faith tradition understands that it is precisely the dialect of criticizing and energizing which can let us be seriously faithful to God.  And we may even suggest that to choose between criticizing and energizing is the temptation, respectively, of liberalism and conservatism.  Liberals are good at criticism but often have no word of promise to speak;  conservatives tend to future well and invite to alternative visions, but a germane criticism by the prophet is often not forthcoming.  For those of us personally charged with this ministry, we may observe that to be called where this dialectic is maintained is an awesome call.  And each of us is likely to fall to one side or the other. 

Which reminds me of nothing so much as this little ditty from one of the great heroes of atheist-leftism.

The solution of revolutionary violence, and romanticism of gangsterism as found in Brecht leads me to be ever more amazed that anyone ever saw that as being in any way a contribution to any revolution that wouldn't turn into a blood bath.  Either in his adored Stalinism or the German "Democratic" Republic to which he fled and under which he worked in his last years, an honored hero of the revolution.   And this was in one of his more upbeat pieces,  Let me remind you of his just gawddawful "Mother".  Not to be confused with the still gawddawful depressing Mother Courage and Her Children, but at least it's not as bad as he could get.

That list I started with,  it was those visits to those old blogs that really got me down.  Enough of that.  It's not worth spending time on.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Monday Night Radio Play - John Mortimer - Mr Luby's Fear of Heaven

When Mr. Luby is confronted by visions of the Almighty, he wonders if he's in the wrong place.
When Lewis Luby wakes up in an Italian hospital, he finds himself lying under the monstrous big toe of God. Surely some mistake: Luby, who has never for one moment believed in the immortality of the soul, cannot possibly be in Heaven!

Afternoon Play: BBC Radio 4 
Starring Sir John Geilgud
Lewis: Jeremy Irons
Tommy: Stephen Critchlow
Sophie: Marsha Fitzalan
Doctor: Chris Pavlo
Miss Waterlow: Donnla Hughes
English guide: Dan Starkey
Italian guide: Flaminia Cinque
Nun: Flaminia Cinque

Once every five to ten years I have the desire to revisit Horace Rumpole, usually by the Omnibus books and the one or two novels I have.  Don't have any videos.  I know there were radio plays of some of them, I believe John Mortimer introduced Rumpole in a radio play though I haven't heard any of those yet.  I found this play and decided to give it a try.   At the end Mortimer talks about his radio play work and other things.  He says that radio is the most difficult medium to write for but that it was one of his favorite forms.

Second Feature - Glasnost 

Whilst on an official visit to Moscow, novelist Anthea Denham begins to find the attentions of the young Russian guide and interpreter something more than just flattering. But is he harbouring other motives?

John Mortimer's drama stars Anna Massey as Anthea Denham, Boris Isarov as Vladimir Pinchevski, Clive Merrison as Brian Worsfold and Philip Voss as Charles Hathaway.

Producer: John Tydeman

Hate Mail - DAS Ist Nicht Gut

DAS, my one time blog friend, has spent too much time in that intellectual dive.  I don't know if the rot is reversible but it would seem to be inevitable.   It's sad to see someone give up so young.  

Or old. 

Is This Latest Roseanne Barr Dangerous?

Ifelt like making a few observations about Rosanne Barr's pro-Trumpian reboot of her Bush I era show but didn't feel like going into it last week. 

Roseanne Barr is someone I never found funny, I don't find a collection of mental health issues in the form of a person and a show-biz career funny and there was never much more to her. 

I didn't find her funny in her previous incarnation that, from what I gathered from unavoidable mention of her and her then husband in the seedier edges of the media, crashed and burned in the bizarre series of feuds and accusations with her sister and other people unfortunately close enough to her to get dragged into her mountain of "issues".   That a lot of that was part of the 1980s-90s hysteria over child abuse leads me to think her "issues" tend to follow the lower ends of media coverage.  I didn't find her increasingly weird and creepy behavior in the shadows of limelight funny, especially such things as her Holocaust joke 

Image result for roseanne barr hitler moustache

Others, such as Desus and Mero have pointed out her infamous disrespectful and vulgar singing of the Star Spangled Banner with crotch grabbing at a baseball game and how it is apparently acceptable for a rich, vulgar White Woman to do that even as Black Men quietly, even respectfully kneeling to protest police murdering Black People is vilified.  

Then there were her racist rants against Barack Obama - tied somehow into her probably temporary attachment to militant Zionism, which inevitably seems to eventually ally itself to fascism - her vilification of Hillary Clinton and may other antics.   I wouldn't count on any of it being any more enduring than anything else has been with her.   She shares that with the demented Donald Trump, everything is stream of semi-consciousness, whether based in some kind of psychological shrinkery or drugs or, as some are speculating in the case of Trump, untreated STDs.  

I didn't watch but did read about her revamped show, now that she's decided to cash in on the cheapest and one of the most popular white whines in Hollywood, that has-beens can make money and get attention out of claims that Hollywood is controlled by liberals  and that's not fair!.  That's always been a lie, the liberals are generally not so much liberal as libertarians and they might constitute a good part of the actually talent in tinsel-town but they're as liable to being far from dependable.   

Only the less important question is how long Barr can milk this latest shtick, the answer to which is who know?   Will it last as long as her attention span for this latest costume change?   The only really important thing about it is if it makes money if Hollywood will go with it, possibly gulling enough TV formed idiots into prolonging Trumpian fascism and its rule.  Seeing the often clueless ability of even alleged liberals in Hollywood and show biz to aid previous efforts, such as those involved in the production of All In The Family,  the so-called liberal Phil Donahue helping to discredit liberalism by associating it with flakiness and ballot box poison positions, who can tell if it is dangerous or how dangerous it might be.   I hope she fails and goes down in the most unprofitable of flames but I wouldn't bet on that.   TV in the United States has resulted in enormous damage to egalitarian democracy, including much of what has passed as "liberal," nevermind the programming that promotes fascism, either with a scowl or a laugh track. 

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Harold Darke - A Fantasy in E Major

Ralph Woodward, organ

Not Easter music but it's not a bad piece for Easter night. 

James MacMillian - Christus Vincit

Musica Intima

Christus vincit,
Christus regnat,
Christus imperat. Alleluia!

Hate Mail - It's So Much Easier To Repeat Ignorant Nonsense Than To Do A Little Reading

Over the past ten years, any number of times, I've had to point out to blog atheists claiming that Paul's epistles, generally considered the earliest actual texts of Christianity, don't say anything about the events found in the slightly later dated Gospels is, in fact, not true.  I've found that no matter how many times you give quotations and citations, they'll just keep repeating the lie you just refuted.  I think atheism is a symptom of the general decline in literacy, not to mention scholarship, which apparently comes with a demotion of truth as true instead of just a matter of what you want to be true.

In the book The Bible Makes Sense, which I went through over a number of posts beginning in Advent and going well into the Christmas season,  Walter Brueggemann, after C. H. Dodd, gives these passages as the "primitive narrative" around which all of the Christian scriptures are understood.

 . . . here we are preaching a Messiah nailed to a cross  To the Jews this is an obstacle they cannot get over and to the Greeks it is madness, 1 Corinthians 1:23*

Unfortunately, sisters and brothers, I was unable to speak to you as spiritual people  I had to treat you as sensual people, still infants in Christ.  1 Corinthians 3:1

I handed on to you, first of all, what I myself received;  that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, that he was buried and, in accordance with the scriptures rose on the third day;  that he was seen by Peter, then by the Twelve.  After that he was seen by more than five hundred sisters and brothers at once; most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.  Next he was seen by James, then by all the apostles  Last of all he was seen by me, as one yanked from the womb  1 Corinthians 15:3-8

1 Corinthians is sometimes considered, if not the first, among the first of the epistles considered to be genuinely by Paul.   In chapter 15 he unambiguously mentions The Gospel that he gave to that community, whether or not it was in the form of a written document or orally, the Gospel that he had been given, no doubt the testimony of those who had witnessed the life of and heard the teachings of Jesus.  So that line you heard about Paul not knowing the Gospel is a lie that you could know if you had bothered to read what you're making claims about.

Elsewhere in the Epistles Paul mentions other things that current, unread, online atheist lore holds he didn't know about, such as the Eucharist,

The cup of blessing which we bless - is it not a sharing of the blood of Christ?  The Bread we break - is it not a sharing of the body of Christ?  1 Corinthians 10:16

I think that the act of sharing is intrinsic to the food becoming the actual substance of Christ, the giving of actual sustenance,  that it is what makes it so.  In other places Paul draws clear implications of that when he relates it to the food given to the People in the desert in Exodus.  Which may be quasi-heretical but it's what I think right now. 

My point here is that the current pop-atheist wisdom on this stuff, and not everyone who believes that is an atheist, some are just ignorant enough to buy it without reading the actual texts.  You might not hear this on Fresh Air or whatever replaces the old-fashioned act of actually reading things to see what they say, but the texts are there.  I have come to think that way too many people have been credentialed by universities and colleges on the basis of phonied-up erudition based in often ideological tertiary and even more remote claims about things.  And even when those texts are read a lot of what is claimed about them takes the same kind of ideological claims about what they say more seriously than what the texts say.  I will say that I have never, once, encountered an online atheist commentator who doesn't distort that.  I have encountered some people who don't, even some who don't necessarily agree with them, but they are a rarity.

NOTE:  The passages are taken from the Inclusive Language edition.  One of the things I like about it is that the language is modern and clear without having the feeling of being dumbed down, though that's not true of all of the modern language editions.

* The first of these texts is especially interesting to consider in light of Paul, in a dispute with Temple authorities,  shrewdly and accurately identifying himself as not only a Jew but as a Pharisee in Acts 23:6

Now Paul was aware that some of them were Sadducees and some Pharisees. Consequently, he began his speech before the Sanhedrin this way: "I am a Pharisee, the descendant of Pharisees, I find myself on trial now because of my hope in the resurrection of the dead."

It would be useful if there was more of an explanation of how Paul, as a Jew, differentiated himself from the ones for whom it was an obstacle.   I'm unaware of any place where that is done, clearly he was making generalizations based on nationality - the churches he founded were largely comprised of Greeks and Jews -  that didn't account for specific individuals within those groups.   It's certainly a text that has had some problematic mixed meanings.

I am still convinced that Peter (considered by Catholics to be the first Pope) and likely several of the earliest Popes would have been surprised if someone told them they weren't Jews.  I would imagine that was true of the fifth Pope,  Evaristus whose parents were Jews.   James, often considered the brother of Jesus but who is certainly one of the most central of the earliest followers of Jesus certainly considered himself a Jew.  In Acts 2:44-47 it notes that the earliest Christian Church, as it would later be considered.  Certainly including Peter and James.

Those who believed lived together, shared all things in common; they would sell their property and goods, sharing the proceeds with one another as each had need  They met in the Temple and they broke bread together in their homes every day . With joyful and sincere hearts they took their meals in common, praising God and winning the approval of all the people. 

It's clear that these earliest Christians, the "primitive Church" that so often people have believed they were recreating in their various reforms, considered themselves to be Jews.

I don't know how any of that relates to the extinct Jewish-Christian Ebionite sect, Jews who accepted Jesus, which possibly existed into the second millenium of the common era.  Maybe some texts will be dug up someday.  There were other Jewish-Christian sects but that's the one I've read the most about.  How much the modern neo-Ebionites - who I never heard of till about an hour before I wrote this - relates to that, I don't have any idea.

Easter: The Apostle To The Apostles

I have reached the point in my life when I can see what has mattered, what has become a part of its substance - I might say a part of my substance.  Some of these things are obvious, since they have been important to me in my career as a student and teacher  But some of them I could never have anticipated   The importance to me of elderly and old American hymns is certainly one example.  They can move me so deeply that I have difficulty even speaking about them.   The old ballad in the voice of Mary Magdalene, who "walked in the garden alone," imagines her "tarrying" there with the newly risen Jesus, in the light of a dawn which was certainly the most remarkable daybreak since God said,  "Let there be light."  The song acknowledges this with fine understatement:  "They joy we share as we tarry there/ None other has ever known."  Who can imagine the joy she would have felt?  And how lovely it is that the song tells us the joy of this encounter was Jesus's as well as Mary's.   Epochal as the moment is, and inconceivable as Jesus's passage from death to life must be, they meet as friends and rejoice together as friends.  This seems to me as good a gloss as any on the text that tells us God so loved the world, this world, our world.   And for a long time, until just a decade ago, at most, I disliked this hymn, in part because to this day I have never heard it sung well.  Maybe it can't be sung well.  The lyrics are uneven, and the tune is bland and grossly sentimental.  But I have come to a place in my life where the thought of people moved by the imagination of joyful companionship with Christ is so precious that every fault become a virtue.  I wish I could hear again every faltering soprano who has ever raised this song to heaven.  God bless them all.

Marilynne Robinson:  Wondrous Love

I can't say that I've arrived at exactly the same point in my life as Marilynne Robinson has about that particular song, though my mother told me it was a favorite of her mother (a Catholic, if you will) my dear Grammy McCarthy who died when I was quite young, and it was played at the funeral of my sister-in-law's Congregationalist  mother, who we all loved dearly,  one of her favorites as well.   I do, though, understand that it is one of the most profound passages in the Scriptures and, as I will point out, one of the hinges on which enormous change would seem to rest.  I would suppose for me Morning has Broken would play a similar role, a hymn I associate with the Vatican II era funerals of my parents.  By the way, a hymn not written by Cat Stevens, as so many people my age mistakenly believe but of the Scottish writer Eleanor Farjeon, sung to a Scottish folk tune.  But that's a different post.

That passage which In The Garden is based onis in The Gospel according to John, which is highlighted in the current cycle of the lectionary. 

Early in the morning on the first day of the week wile it was still dark,  Mary of Magdala came to the tomb.  She saw that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance so she ran off to Simon Peter and the other disciple - the one Jesus loved - and told the,  "The Rabbi has been taken from the tomb!  We don't know where they have put Jesus!" 

[There follows a passage in which Peter and the other disciple generally assumed to be John go and discover what Mary told them but they don't understand what it means and they return home   The reason I'm not giving it will be clear in a minute.]

Meanwhile Mary stood weeping beside the tomb.  Even as she wept, she stooped to peer inside - and there she saw two angels in dazzling robes.  One was seated at the head and the other at the feet of the place where Jesus' body had been. 

They asked her,  "Why are you weeping?"

She answered them,  "Because they have taken away my Rabbi, and I don't know where they have put the body." 

No sooner had she said this than she turned around and caught sight of Jesus standing there, but she didn't know it was Jesus.  He asked her,  "Why are you weeping:  For whom are you looking?"  

She supposed it was the gardener, so she said,  "Please, if you're the one who carried Jesus away, tell me where you laid the body and I will take it away."

"Jesus said to her,  "Mary!"

She turned to him and said "Rabboni" - which means "teacher".  

Jesus then said,  "Don't hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to Abba God.  Rather, go to the sisters and brothers and tell them,  "I am ascending to my Abba and to your Abba, my God and your God!"  

Mary of Magdala went to the disciples  "I have seen the Teacher!"  she announced.  Then she reported what the savior had said to her. 

Inclusive Language Bible.

Here is what an important article by Ruth Fox, OSB, Women in the Bible and Lectionary, says about the segregation of the person and figure of Mary of Magdala in the Resurrection into the remoter corners of liturgy, not on Sundays when most people would have a chance to hear them.

It is well known that Jesus’ women disciples, led by Mary Magdalene, according to all the gospels were the first witnesses to the resurrection. Easter Sunday’s gospel in the U.S. lectionary (#43), however, stops just at the point of the beautiful story of Jesus’ appearance to Mary Magdalene in the garden and his important commission to her: “Go to my brothers and tell them...” (John 20:17; the newer Canadian lectionary rectifies this problem by adding verses 10--18.) In fact, this appearance of Jesus to Mary Magdalene does not rate any Sunday of the Easter season but is assigned to Easter Tuesday (#262) and is used again on the saint’s memorial (always a weekday, never a Sunday) in July (#603). Peter and John’s race to the tomb in John 20:1 -9 (#43), though, is retold every Easter Sunday, and Jesus’ appearance to Thomas in John 20:19-31 (#44) is read on the Second Sunday of Easter every year.

While it is only natural that the gospels for the Sundays of Easter should proclaim the appearances of the risen Lord, the gospels assigned to the fourth through the seventh Sundays of Easter use excerpts from the prayer of Christ at the Last Supper, ignoring Christ’s appearance to and dialogue with Mary Magdalene in John 20:11-18 for Sunday proclamation. Similarly, the gospel for Easter Monday (#261) gives Matthew’s account of the women finding Christ risen (Matthew 28:8-15). Whereas Matthew 28:1-10 is read at the Easter Vigil in Year A, Matthew 28:8-15 would make an excellent follow-up Sunday gospel--but is relegated to Monday. The first reading for each of the Sundays of Easter is taken from the Acts of the Apostles. The selections focus on the sermons and activities of Peter, Paul, Barnabas and Stephen. The women leaders found in the Acts of the Apostles--Tabitha, Lydia and Priscilla--are given second place in the weekday readings of the Easter Season.

The article is such an eye-opener to what would seem to be a systematic exclusion of mention of Women in the scriptures, even such clearly central figures as Mary of Magdala that I thought it should be looked at.  The article starts by noting the shock of a woman who had spent decades as a faithful church goer but who had never known of how central women are in the Scriptures.  The figure of Mary of Magdala was conflated with the reformed prostitute mentioned in the Gospel and in the Western church that is certainly how she has been presented though if you read the actual text, she almost certainly wasn't a reformed prostitute and was, in fact, one of the central figures in the early Jesus movement which would eventually become Christianity. 

The time it takes for things to change and for the truth to be manifested in the Scriptures can take generations and centuries to happen.  In the Church, it can take millenia.   I think we're coming to a time when gender equality is coming to pass, though it might take longer than any of us are around to see it happen.  I think the attribution of misogynistic patriarchy in Europe to Christianity is absurd, as the pagan cultures of Europe were hardly woman friendly, except as recreated in romantic myth.  In most places, even medieval Christianity was an occasion of an elevation in the status of women over what had been there before.  I would argue that most of the patriarchal clap trap and actual oppression has a lot more in common with paganism than the teaching of Jesus, which were and are extremely radical.   As the article points out, when actually read, the role of women, even as found in the supposedly misogynistic Paul's letters, is far more extensive and included, certainly, the office of Deacon, and arguably in such figures as Mary of Magdala, the very Apostle to the Apostles, the first preacher of the risen Christ, exactly the same role as would be hijacked by an exclusively male clergy.

Here is a short sermon given at Catholic Women Preach on Mary of Magdala.

I am going to be concentrating more on the commentary by women from now on.   I've got a lot to learn from them. 

Note:  I've used the Inclusive Language Bible prepared by Priests for Equality to make this point.   I have read some scholars who say it's a good translation and some who don't like it for various reasons.  Some of the critics don't seem to like the idea of including women as fully human and deserving of attention.   Some, used to the structures of non-inclusive translations find it jarring.  I will admit that such things like including the names of the spouses of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob when they are referenced to be taking a little getting used to though I certainly get the reason they did it and even more so agree with it.

If it's properly called a translation is an interesting question.  I was originally tempted to call it a commentary but that opened the question as to what isn't a commentary?  Which we're not used to asking about various translations and editions of the Bible but which we should always keep in mind.

Every act of editing, every act of translating the Bible is an act of interpretation, a form of commentary on the text whether through the choices made for words and ideas or in the more obvious forms of explanatory notes.   That's even less often admitted is the case in very reading of every text, whether it's a translation of the Bible, every act of reading ANY TEXT is an act of interpretation of that text, any form of communicating our interpretation of it is an act of commentary.   I'm tempted to point out that's even true in science, generating different interpretations of data, quantum mechanics and even more standard physics generate different ways of seeing the raw data.  But that is also a different post.

The motivation behind why that is done is all important, it's as important for those capitalists who translate Matthew 25:31–46 to mitigate the clear condemnation of those who don't treat the least among us as they would treat God or who widen the eye of the needle or who do something similar, or, in the case of one of the most popular translations, reinforce the status of earthly royalty, having explicitly been commissioned with that in mind.  I think the motive of the Priests for Equality (not all of whom were priests) is one of the better ones for making a new translation.  One which takes the radical equality of the Gospel and much of the prophetic tradition with complete seriousness by people who understand the importance of our habits of thinking about things gained through the language we use to think in.   Brueggemann is only one of many Scripture scholars who note the importance of understanding that there will not be ONE understanding of the Scriptures and so it's necessary to read different editions and translations and commentaries.  I'm including the Inclusive Language translation-commentary in my reading, from now on.