I believe in God but I don’t want God all up in my government.
At first read, you’d think I was a backsliding sinner with nary a clue of what it means to be a moral person or Christian. You’d think that without the emphasis on and the unswerving spiritual direction that God provides would doom an administration down a path of destruction, hate, evil and sin. If you thought that, you’d be mistaken. That’s because I believe God is already present and a factor in government as long as men behave compassionately towards their fellow man; a subtle, guiding hand lending itself to decisions based on decency and responsibility. However, too much is definitely not a good thing. Continue reading →
In less than two weeks, a man of God is coming to town and all Hell is breaking loose in
2014 Pastoral visit of Pope Francis to Korea at Haemi Castle for closing Mass of Asian Youth Day by Korea.net / Korean Culture and Information Service (Photographer name). Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Commons
anticipation. Pope Francis is coming to America, particularly to Philadelphia and his pending arrival has set the entire region into a frenzy of planning and anticipation. I wonder if it was like that thousands of years ago in a small town in the Middle East.
Probably not, I’m thinking. When Jesus entered Jerusalem on that fateful Sunday, many at the time heralded him as a revolutionary figure to right the wrongs perpetrated by Roman authority. His arrival wasn’t planned for or anticipated by that authority but rather was
celebrated by the downtrodden. Here in Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley, the differences are stark as it appears by all accounts that the “Romans” of today are in charge. Continue reading →
Rowan county clerk Kim Davis is shown in this booking photo provided by the Carter County Detention Center. Reuters
When you think of religious extremism, you probably automatically think of the turbaned man. With IS and Boko Haram doing their thing, running amok, killing, raping and enslaving like it’s just another day at the office, it’s understandable that you might think of them first. However, it’s a problem if you think they’re the ones guilty of such. We’ve got our own home-grown version of it going on right here, right now. It’s so far nothing as violent as its foreign counterpart but troubling none the same. Call it extremism-light. This new face of intolerance is a petite and bespectacled homemaker standing all of 5’5”.
It has to be every parent’s nightmare; that things are so terrible at home that your children can’t stand it anymore and they walk out. This is really nothing new though, right. Teens have always run away from home and far from the fairytale round-the-block, Leave It to Beaver experience, such escapades in real life carry sometimes horrific consequences. But it’s always been like that, hasn’t it?
There was a woman living in the apartment building across the street from me who, beginning early every Sunday morning and ending around 4 in the afternoon, would play a continuous catalog of classic gospel tunes on her record player.
Notice I said record player, so you know I mean classic; you might hear the Staple Singers, the Mighty Clouds of Joy and the Dixie Hummingbirds, or maybe even some early Sam Cooke, a bunch of good stuff.
Sometimes you’d hear the same songs more than once in the afternoon but that was OK. And every now and then, it seemed she’d get a bit moved and you’d hear her singing ever so softly along with the records, clapping her hands to the beat, holding church right there in her living room.
It was infectious. Pretty soon, a neighbor down the block started getting his praise on with his own particular mix of early and more contemporary gospel artists. He brought Mary, Mary,Kirk Franklin and others to the table. It was during early summer, so it was a time of open windows when the sound of music coming from a neighbor’s home could travel along the breezes from one house to another. And like I said, it was infectious.
Other neighbors began doing the same; not all with the same regularity as the neighborhood’s original Sunday morning DJ nor with the same level of volume, but they did seek their own version of Sabbath musical entertainment. Language barriers were broken, age limits were defied and musical genres were crossed.
I guess that’s what’s meant when they talk about “getting your praise on”. I remember the first time I heard the expression. Coming from an old Baptist and Catholic upbringing, I immediately thought, there they go, blaspheming. Little did I know I was doing the same thing, and had been for quite some time.
That’s because praise is both a universal and personal thing and can be found in some of the damnedest places. Praise can be contemporary as well as old-fashioned. Praise is heavy metal. It’s the blues, with or without rhythm and rock, with or without the roll. Praise is jazz, Latin or folk and comes in many different languages. Most of all, praise doesn’t have to come on Sundays, alone.
So as you turn Mahavishnu up loudly, listen to the words of Eternity’s Breath, part 1 and 2 and realize what they’re saying, who they’re talking to and what they’re talking about. Try to seize on the prayer that exists in music. And don’t be surprised to find out that while you were diddybopping along, you were also giving thanks, or exalting His name or just expressing joy for being able to draw a lasting breath.
It may not be a Sunday but that’s cool too.
Mahavishnu Orchestra, Visions of the Emerald Beyond, a musical video by Bryan Trannin was downloaded from YouTube. You can see his other videos here.
Additional music: John Scofield, from the album Piety Street