Thursday, March 31, 2011

VIVA César Chávez! March 31st, Happy César Chávez Day

Today honors César Chávez, one of the great Labor Leaders of the twentieth century. Eight states have declared today César Chávez Day, and numerous cities, counties, cultural centers, school districts, parks and libraries across the USA mark today with a special commemoration. César Chávez was born on March 31st 1927 and died on April 23, 1993. Mr. Chávez co-founded the United Farm Workers and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by former President Bill Clinton as well as the Pacem in Terris Peace and Freedom Award. Mr. Chávez was instrumental in organizing the farm workers of California, many of whom were migrants living at the mercy of the landowners. The efforts of Mr. Chávez brought about the California Agricultural Labor Relations Acts which gave collective bargaining rights to farm workers. Mr. Chávez inspired a generation of activists from many segments of society, and brought justice to the fields of California. Mr. Chávez is especially remembered for the famed UFW-initiated grape boycott of the 1970s. In this era of attacks on Labor, especially public-sector unions, it is good to recall the Labor heroes of yesteryear who fought to make this country a better place for all working men and women.

Thanks to Ryan Chegwin who wrote this dedication to Cesar Chavez!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

John Fugelsang: Bible Lessons for the Westboro Baptist Church

John Fugelsang's commentary, Bible Lessons for the Westboro Baptist Church.

see more from John at his web site: John Fugelsang

Christianity is the revelation of the divine Mystery in the person of Christ

'Christianity . . . is the revelation of the divine Mystery in the person of Christ.'
The one, eternal Truth, which cannot be uttered, which cannot be known, is 'symbolized' in the life and death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. At this point in history the veil is pierced, the mystery shines through. At the resurrection of Jesus, human nature was taken up into the divine, time was taken up into eternity. Yet these are only phrases we use to express the inexpressible. It is not by word or thought but by meditation on the Mystery that we can pierce the veil. This is where all human reason fails.'  - Bede Griffiths, in his book, 'Return to the Centre,' p.73

Charlie Haden's Song for Che

Charlie Haden is one of the greatest American Jazz musicians we have. He is known for his innovative and lyrical playing-style on the upright bass, for his association with Ornette Coleman, and for the rich range of musical styles he has embraced in his recordings.

Che Guevera

In 1971, while on tour with the Ornette Coleman Quartet in Portugal (at the time under a fascist dictatorship), Haden decided to dedicate a performance of his "Song for Che" to the anticolonialist revolutionaries in the Portuguese colonies of Mozambique, Angola, and Guinea-Bissau. The following day, he was detained at the Lisbon airport, jailed, and interrogated by the DGS (the Portuguese secret police). He was promptly released the same day after the intervention of the American cultural attaché, though he was later interviewed by the FBI in the United States about his choice of dedication.*

Here is the song, enjoy!

For more information on Charlie Haden and his current activities, visit his web site:
Charlie Haden Official Web Site

An interview with Charlie can be found here:
Charlie Haden Interview on Democracy Now!

*from the Wikipedia article on Charlie Haden. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What am I listening to these days?

I am listening to mostly bass players these days- Esperanza Spalding, Stanley Clarke, Jaco Pastorius, John Entwistle especially. I especially like Esperanza's Chamber Music Society and Stanley Clarke's the Stanley Clarke Band.

As a middle aged person I am rediscovering the bass. I used to play when I was younger, and now I am taking it up again. I am pleasantly surprised that I still have my chops, although I need some discipline in my playing. I practice everyday!

It is so fun to get go back to something you enjoy, and that gives you so much pleasure! For me it is an expression of the Life Force, and helping to think and feel young!

And can I give a call out to my little brother Layne, who gave me the bass I am using, and has inspired me with his renewed musical career?

Here are some of my favorite videos featuring some awesome bass players!

Esperanza Spalding performing I Know You Know at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert in 2009:

Esperanza performing her composition, Mela, here in two video parts; some really hot bass playing on the upright:

Stanley Clarke upright bass solo:

The Who performing Heaven and Hell; John Entwistle, who authored this song, offers some terrific bass playing here:

and finally, John Entwistle performing a meaty solo on the Who's 5.15:

I will be back with some more posts on these players. Enjoy the videos!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Seeking Wisdom

During the period known as Great Lent in the Orthodox Church, we read from the book of Proverbs during the week, Monday through Friday, for our gospel reading. Right now, we are reading Isaiah, Genesis, and Proverbs. 

In the book of Proverbs we are introduced to Wisdom, who is personified as a woman. We read more about Holy Wisdom in the Wisdom of Solomon and the Wisdom of Jesus, Son of Sirach (also known as Ecclesiasticus). 

Some have regarded Holy Wisdom as a Divine being herself; the early Church Fathers, following St. Paul, regarded her as Christ. The Russian Orthodox Theologian Sergius Bulgakov suggest that Holy Wisdom is the Essence that the members of the Holy Trinity share. 

In the reading today from Proverbs chapter 8, Wisdom calls to us, inviting us to listen to her, to obtain wisdom, knowledge and understanding. "I have good advice and sound wisdom; I have insight, I have strength," she says (Proverbs 8.14). 

St. James says in the New Testament "If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you." - James 1.5

We do not have to face life alone. We can ask God for wisdom. People in 12-step programs pray for the knowledge of God's will, and the power to carry it out. It is the same thing. 

King Solomon in the Bible did not pray for riches or wives, but for Wisdom in ruling his people, and God granted it to him, without finding fault. Solomon was also granted other blessings precisely because he asked for Wisdom first, and not for his desires. In the Psalms we read, "Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart." - Psalm 37.4. 

People my age often experience regrets for lost opportunities and mistakes made earlier in life. But we can seek God's guidance and wisdom for the future, in order to make sure we are living life to the fullest.