Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Meaningful things on my birthday that reflect my values

What do the Beatles, Franklin Roosevelt, and the Three Holy Hierarchs- St. Basil the Great, St. John Chrysostom, St. Gregory of Nazianzus- all have in common?

Today is my birthday, and there are at least very meaningful things about my birthdate, that reflect my passions and values:

1) My favorite music group of all time, the Beatles, played their last live performance on the roof of Apple Records on this day in 1969, 47 years ago. The Beatles are such a huge influence in my life. I play bass because I am an avid Paul McCartney fan, and my main instrument playing out is a Hofner Violin Beatles Bass. I have all the Beatles music, electronically, on vinyl, and on CD, and their music has been so important in my life. I remember being in a deep depression once, and I did not have energy to clean my home. But then I put Rubber Soul on the turntable, followed by Revolver, and within a short time I had a clean house. The Beatles music is filled with a joy that can often lift my spirits.

2) Franklin Delano Roosevelt also was born on this day. FDR is the greatest U.S. President in our nation's history. He was elected four times, help lead us to victory in World War II, brought us out of the Great Depression, and created Social Security and the New Deal. His policies brought our country close to a democratic socialist state, which reflects my political values- I am an unabashed democratic socialist, and believe our country should have universal health care, free at the point of delivery, free public higher education, employee ownership of corporations, and a highly unionized work force. No one can tell me we can't can most of the western industrialized world already has all and most of those things. We lack not the way available to us, but the political will.

3) Today in the Orthodox Church, is the Feast of the Three Holy Hierarchs - St. Basil the Great, who is my personal patron, St. John Chrysostom, and St. Gregory Nazianzus. I adhere to a Patristic understanding of the Holy Mysteries (sacraments) of the Church, the Holy and undivided Trinity, the Incarnation of Christ, and, in nice harmony with my political stance, the social teaching of the fathers on wealth and poverty. St. Basil and St. John Chrysostom often inveighed against the wealthy, and called for a sharing of the wealth. What socialism and Christianity  have in common is a communal ethic. Because of my socialist and communitarian values, I took St. Basil as my patron when I joined the Orthodox Church on my birthday in 2010.

I feel that there is a spiritual synchronicity between my date of birth and my values. I therefore celebrate my date of birth as an affirmation of my arts, passions, music, philosophy, and social values.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Honoring John Lennon, Working Class Hero, on his 77th Birthday

Today is comrade John Lennon's 77th Birthday, Eternal Memory!

"There's room at the top they're telling you still;
but first you must learn to smile as you kill-
If you want to be like the folks on the hill..."

- John Lennon, Working Class Hero

"When your men are working for nothing,
you better give them what they really own-
we're going to put you down,
when you come into town,
singing, Power to the People!"

- John Lennon, Power to the People

"Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world..."

- John Lennon, Imagine

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Naming the sin and demon of white supremacy

White supremacy is a sin, in fact, America's original sin. The country was built on, and it's initial wealth created through, the land theft and genocide of one race, and the chattel enslavement of another. It is white supremacy that allows the murderer of Philando Castile [and many like him] to go scott-free, even though the whole world saw his murder on video.

The Bible teaches us to confess our sins; not just sin in general, but specific sins; if I commit adultery, I confess adultery; if I commit theft, I confess theft.

This country has to come to terms with it's history of white supremacy and racism. There is no healing for us, Black, White, Indigenous, or Asian, unless we name our national sin and confess it.

It's a dodge to simply subsume white supremacy under "hate" or "bigotry" or "sin" (even though it is sourced in all those things) without naming it specifically. If we can't name it, we can't repent and be healed.

In order to exorcise a demon, you must name the demon; the demon manifesting at this moment is White Supremacy.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

On the 4th of July, Acknowledging America's History of Oppression

On the 4th of July, I cannot help but remember that this country and its historical wealth were built on the genocide of one race of people, and the brutal chattel slavery of another. I am sorry, these are not mere footnotes, this truth looms large in our history. We cannot fully celebrate freedom until we acknowledge the dark side or our history, and honor and respect all of our people, with justice, in our day. The United States will never be truly "great" unless and until these wrongs are requited.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Cutting Medicaid is Pure Greed and Selfishness

The United States is still the wealthiest country in the world. The senate is considering a bill to drastically cut medicaid. Many poor people will lose their health insurance. They do not have a right to life. I don't care what your ideology is regarding government services. The fact is, we have the wealth to make sure all citizens have health insurance. Our politicians are ruthless, having no empathy. It is an expression of pure greed and selfishness.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Trump's Executive Order: At the Pinnacle of the Temple, Selling One's Soul for Wordly Power

I do not celebrate President Trump's executive order allowing churches to endorse candidates. Church leaders, already adept at milking guilt out of people, can now bully people into voting "the right way." What bigger hammer does one have than to threaten people's eternal soul if they don't tow a church's party line? What a potential for spiritual abuse. Church leaders who are gleeful have succumbed to the Devil's temptation at the pinnacle of the temple. Churches are selling their soul to celebrate this new executive order.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Ultimate George Harrison, a Career Spanning Compilation in honor of George's 74th Birthday

In honor of George Harrison’s 74th birthday today, I offer this selection of my favorite George Harrison songs.

Shortly after George Harrison passed away in 2001, my brother Layne and I made our own George Harrison Mix, to celebrate his great legacy. We came up with 42 songs, spanning both his Beatles and solo careers. When one is an ardent fan of a musical artist, one is often not satisfied with the available hits albums and packages. There is always something left off or something included that should not be there.

On our list, This Song from the 1976 album, 33 and ⅓ makes our list, but has not made the official greatest hits packages from the record companies. The same with Living in the Material World, the title track from George's 1973 #1 Album, one of his most underrated and magnificent compositions.

I have probably left a couple of items off that I would include now, including two of George’s Indian-inspired tunes, Within You, Without You, and the Inner Light, possibly his most successful song of that genre.

The songs that bring tears to my eyes are Give Me Love and the lovely Marwa Blues.

Give Me Love is a perfect expression of George’s Bhakti Yoga, the path of devotion.

Marwa Blues features George’s excellent slide work. Bonnie Raitt considered George the best slide player, and Jeff Lynne Considered him the King of the Slide Guitar.
Tommy Bruner, songwriter and guitarist, and my brother Layne's band mate in the Past Masters band, states perfectly why George is the best:

“The reason I love George the best (for slide guitar) is [that] most slide players play primarily in blues and pentatonic scales. When you do that a certain amount of inaccuracy can actually add character to what you're playing. But George played slide primarily in major and minor scales. To do that every note has to be extremely accurate or it doesn't work. To be that accurate in major and minor scales and still play with the feeling he did is to me very beautiful and out of the ordinary.”

There are also some deep Beatle cuts, including the superb Savoy Truffle (which incidentally features Paul McCartney giving a bass -clinic).

I no longer say I have a favorite Beatle, I love all four of them, and admire them for different musical and personal characteristics. But today, on February 25th, George Harrison is my favorite Beatle.

I leave you with this testimony from George’s widow Olivia, which I deeply appreciate as a lifelong spiritual seeker:

“George left this world in the same way he lived in it- in the consciousness of God....There was a profound experience when he left his body. It was visible. He just lit the room.”

- Olivia Harrison


I Need You
This Song
Think for Yourself
Crackerbox Palace
If I Needed Someone
Love Comes to Everyone
Blow Away
I Want to Tell You
Here Comes the Moon
While My Guitar Gently Weeps
All Those Years Ago
You are the One
Savoy Truffle
Wake Up My Love
Only A Northern Song
Gone Troppo
Old Brown Shoe
Cloud 9
When We Was Fab
Here Comes the Sun
I've Got My Mind Set on You
I Me Mine
Handle With Care
For You Blue
Poor Little Girl
I'd Have You Anytime
Cockamame Business
My Sweet Lord
Cheer Down
What is Life?
Any Road Will Take You There
Beware of Darkness
Marwa Blues
Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)

Living in the Material World

Dark Horse