Saturday, May 31, 2008
Bells are chiming for victory
There's a page back in history - 45
They came back to the world that they fought for
Didn't turn out just like they thought - 45
Here is a song to sing to do the measuring
What did you lose, what did you gain, what did you win?
Nine years later a child is born
There's a record so you put it on - 45
Nine years more if we're lucky now
Nine year old puts his money down - 45
Every scratch, every click, every heartbeat
Every breath that I held for you - 45
There's a stack of shellac and vinyl
Which is yours now or which is mine? - 45
Here is a song to sing to do the measuring
What did you lose, what did you gain, what did you win?
Bass and treble heal every hurt
There's a rebel in a nylon shirt
But the words are a mystery I've heard
Till you turn it down to thirty-three and a third
'Cause it helps with the elocution
Corporations turn revolutions - 45
I heard something peculiar said
"Perhaps he's got a shot" and "Now he's dead" - 45
So don't you weep and shed(?)
Just change my name instead
But what do you lose when it all goes to your head?
Bells are chiming and tears are falling
It creeps up on you without a warning - 45
Every scratch, every click, every heartbeat
Every breath that I've blessed
I'll be lost I confess - 45 45 45
Happy birthday to my own resident minstrel/rebel in black-rimmed glasses. Everything I wrote last year on this day is just as true today. I love you, Phil.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
It's 43 degrees in Chicagoland right now. The high today will be in the fifties. Yesterday was Memorial Day.
What was that you said about global warming?
Monday, May 26, 2008
I'm not complaining, mind you; in the last three days I have had more time to think, plan, and ponder than I have had all year. What else is there to do at a chess tournament when you are not the one playing chess? It has been wonderful, except for the fact that the location was changed this year from a venue within a half hour's drive of our house to one that is an hour away. Ouch--why now, with gas in Chicagoland currently costing more than anywhere else in the country?
For those of my readers who may have wondered, just what is one of these tournaments like? here's your answer. Below is an approximately 1-1/2 minute video of the beginning of last night's round. It begins with the sound of the TD's (tournament director's) voice making announcements, then skips forward to a couple of minutes later when the round starts. Notice how much quieter the room suddenly becomes. I quickly scanned the room to give an idea of the scope of the event, and then tried to zoom in on Trevor without getting close enough to distract him.
Please don't fall off your chair with excitement.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
You Are Clogs
You are a solid and down to earth person.
You seek and almost always achieve a really sound balance in your life.
You are stylish yet comfortable. Mellow but driven. Excited yet calm.
You are the perfect mesh of contradictions.
No matter what happens, you have the ability to stay well grounded in your life.
People know that they can truly depend on you.
You should live: In Europe
You should work: At a company dedicated to helping the world
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Tell me about it. I live in Chicago. Every time I go to fill up my van I feel sick to my stomach. My husband and I are now paying over $70 per vehicle for a tank of gas.
I have never had a very good understanding of all the factors that influence how much we pay at the pump. But it is an understatement to say that recent developments have heightened my interest. So I was doing some searching for answers and came across this story stating that back in 1999 gasoline was actually selling for less than $1/gallon. Huh? Can that be right? From $1 to over $4 in less than 10 years? What is going on here?
Then it hit me. It's an election year. In November Americans will choose a new president, and on the issue of homeland security the difference in candidates is dramatic. I don't applaud all that President Bush has done, but he has my undying gratitude for keeping me and my loved ones safe from terrorists since that gut-wrenching day in September of 2001. John McCain, if elected, will enforce policies designed to continue that record of safety. Those who would like to hurt us know this and would much rather face a President Obama or Clinton than a President McCain. What better way to have an impact on this country's upcoming election than to send gasoline prices spiraling out of control right before the election? Panicked Americans who are looking for something they can do to effect a change will latch on to the presidency as a scapegoat: there's a Republican in the White house, so it must be his fault. Let's get a Democrat in there and see if things get better.
The reasoning is, of course, utterly flawed and in my opinion would be playing into our enemies' hands. But my fear is that many Americans will buy into it. And I will wake up on a cold day in January of 2009 and feel even less safe than I do today. And oil prices will probably go down for a while. But it will just mean OPEC has gotten the best of us again.
Here are several articles I found suggesting ways we can loosen OPEC's puppet-like control of us. The one by Rich Lowry is 7 years old but still seems quite applicable to me.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Next year we will take up a chronological survery of "Masterpieces of World Literature." I'm already looking forward to it and hope they are, too. Until then, here is a peek at the best literature class I have ever had the honor of teaching:
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
You can read and see more here and here.
Congratulations, Yury! We are celebrating with you here in Chicagoland!
You can see a photo of Yury and read more about the tournament here (once you click on the link, you can also pull up previous articles on the tournament by clicking on them at the right).
By the way, if you've ever wondered about the name of this blog, it was chosen because of my fondness for both Shakespeare and literature as well as because of what the phrase communicates, namely the intention to give a full, unadorned and honest recounting of a narrative. In this case the narrative is purely personal as I write about family or self or practical matters or my own forays into the world of ideas, so I guess this blog is most interesting (if it is at all) to those who know me. But I hope that along the way there have been a few posts that have had value for a broader audience and that I have managed to write them in a way that invites attention and maintains interest. I dearly hope that you never stop by to discover, in the words of another Shakespearean character, "a tale / Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, / Signifying nothing" (Macbeth V.vi.26-28).
Thanks for reading! May the peace of the Lord be with you today and always.
Saturday, May 17, 2008
(I know, I know, the whole idea of boiling marriage down to a 100-point scale is silly, and some of the items are just plain ridiculous. This is only shared in fun. On the other hand, there is wisdom here, such as the granting of bonus points for never going to bed angry and sharing your husband's religion. By the way, in the interest of fairness I will post the husband's test next. And I know these are small and hard to see. You should be able to click on the individual pages to enlarge.)
Friday, May 16, 2008
In those days, Trinity was one of the few predominantly black congregations in the liberal United Church of Christ denomination. Trinity had been formed by the UCC at the height of the early civil-rights movement, and the initial goal was to build a fully integrated church. Trinity's ethos was decidedly middle-class. "Unfortunately," says Wright, in those days "the notion of integration meant that blacks should adopt a white lifestyle, a white way of worship, European values, and European-American ways of viewing reality." Trinity's congregation sang hymns from "white hymnals," priding itself on services that could "out-white white people's services." In 1967, in a step viewed as misguided by today's Trinity congregants, the old Trinity rebuffed a call for cooperation from the Black Panther Party.
As the black-power movement spread in the wake of the King assassination, Trinity resisted. In the broader black community, post-'68, "aspirations for integration and assimilation were being replaced by those of black pride and separation," writes Julia Speller, a leader at today's Trinity, in her history of the congregation. . . . Membership [at Trinity] soon dwindled to 87 adults.
In 1972, Trinity finally decided to seek a more black-identified style of worship, and a fuller relationship with the surrounding black community. In Jeremiah Wright, with his raft of higher degrees and his desire to revive and develop black musical forms, Trinity believed it had found an ideal new pastor. Wright transformed Trinity's service--the choir took up quasi-dance stepping and swaying moves, along with African dashikis, drums, tambourines, and washboards--and the congregation grew exponentially.
Although Trinity had brought on Wright with change in mind, the original congregants were not prepared for the extremes to which Wright's "Africentrism" and black-liberation theology would take him. Wright arrived in 1972, and by 1975 nearly all of the members who had originally invited him had left. In 1983 a group of particularly active and prominent members uncomfortable with Wright left Trinity and the UCC for a local Pentecostal Apostolic church.
In 1978 there was trouble with the UCC as well, as a national-level official attempted to distance the church from Trinity. Says Speller, "Trinity was accused of being a cult (only three months after Jim Jones and Jonestown!) and Wright of having an 'ego problem.'" The unnamed official failed in his efforts, and after church-sponsored attempts at "reconciliation" offered an apology to Trinity.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
I'm proud of him and know he will do a great job. But a little voice inside of me keeps whispering that this is only the beginning of a trend which is destined to increase in coming years . . . one in which my suppertime head count keeps coming up short.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
"Now if all my golden moments could be rolled into one,
They would shine just like the sun for a summer day . . ."
Well, I had one of those moments today. And it wasn't even really mine. But I'll embrace it just the same. My husband (the Lutheran cantor) was having an end-of-the-year party for his children's choirs at church. As the party was winding down and children were enjoying free time in the gym, a group of about five pre-teen girls came gleefully running up to sing to my husband:
"He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying. Titus 3:5-8."
Now, to see a group of little girls joyfully singing not the latest Britney Spears or Hannah Montana hit but rather the Third Part of the Sacrament of Holy Baptism from Martin Luther's Small Catechism is in itself worth noting, but when the music to which they are singing that catechism passage was composed by the very cantor standing before them (who happens to be my husband) . . . well, as my friend Rebellious Pastor's Wife says in describing one of her own golden moments, "There really are no words."
What's even better is that these girls had earlier sung the entire Sacrament of Holy Baptism with the rest of our Lutheran day school at morning chapel, and better still is the knowledge that these songs, originally written and released piecemeal in CPH's Growing in Christ Sunday School curriculum, are only a few months away from being made available on one compilation CD (as well as in a companion songbook) so that anyone who wants to can easily acquire and make use of this treasure. (If you've never heard them before, several audio samples of the catechism songs are available at the link above. The CD and songbook should be available from CPH this summer.)
To my husband: thank you. And I'm saying that from my heart as a Lutheran mother, not as your wife. Although I've had the privilege over the last three years of hearing these songs as they moved from conception to work-in-progress to completion, I still can't wait to get my very own catechism song CD. Which reminds me: since I am the composer's wife, do I get a complimentary copy?
(To my friends and family: don't worry, I'm only identifying with the poem, not the poet!)
Your clear eye is the one absolutely beautiful thing.
I want to fill it with color and ducks,
The zoo of the new
Whose name you meditate --
April snowdrop, Indian pipe,
Stalk without wrinkle,
Pool in which images
Should be grand and classical
Not this troublous
Wringing of hands, this dark
Ceiling without a star.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
If you are a parent whose child takes music lessons (or lessons of any kind) with a private instructor, please keep in mind that your child's teacher, as much as he or she may enjoy working with your child, is not doing it for sheer recreation but because the income earned is a necessary part of the household budget. So when you are late with a payment, not only your teacher but your teacher's family suffers the consequences. And when there are two piano teachers in the family with almost 20 students between them, and more than half of those students are late with payments in the same month, the consequences for that family rise from the level of merely inconvenient to significantly stress-inducing.
If you are one of those really cool parents who always pays your child's private lesson teacher on time, you're my hero! Keep it up!
If on the other hand your child's teacher is currently awaiting your payment, please take care of it now. And if you value that teacher, please don't put him or her in the position of having to scramble to meet bill payments or sacrifice his or her dignity by begging you for the money you have committed to pay for his or her professional services.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Thursday, May 8, 2008
I think I've gone a little overboard with labels on my posts. My label list now looks more like a book index than a listing of categories. The detail is good in that it facilitates quickly finding past posts on a particular topic. But I now have so many labels that it is hard to keep track of them all. I've turned my label list into a cross-referencing nightmare. But as I look it over, I can imagine even more! For example, my recent post entitled "Spring" is categorized under "Literature," "Poetry," and "Teaching" (because it mentions my literature class. But I could also assign labels that reflect the Christian imagery in the poem, the specific poet quoted, the season referenced, and the homeschooling connection. Where does one draw the line on labels? It could go on and on. So now I am thinking of simplifying by trying to boil everything down to a smaller number of much broader categories.
On the other hand, the list-making, detail-obsessed, organizational control-freak that resides inside this deceptively laid-back and mild-mannered exterior probably wouldn't like that.
In honor of this milestone, here are some recent "Evan-isms" to add a little levity to your day. I have been thinking of collecting these into one place sort of like my friend Elephant's Child has done with her daughter's memorable pronouncements, but for now there are other more pressing items on the "to do" list. So without further delay, here is a look at the world through Evan's four-and-half-year-old eyes.
"Mommy, do you sleep with Daddy?"
"Yes, honey, I sleep with Daddy."
"Can I sleep with you, too?"
"Well, it would be a little crowded. Mommy and Daddy's bed really just has enough room for two."
"Could we get a three-room bed someday?"
"Evan, don't stick your finger in the butter."
"I was only petting it."
"Mommy, here's a piece of candy for you."
"Honey, I don't really want that piece of candy. You had it in your mouth already."
"I was just keeping it warm for you."
"Mommy, Daddy is the choir's pastor."
"Evan, are you sure you're hungry enough for a whole sandwich?"
"I can eat it in pieces."
"Evan, we're celebrating Ascension today. We're going to have a party at church with games and songs and food and a parade . . . "
" . . . and soccer?"
"Evan, please don't feed Shiloh [our beagle] too many treats. She's going to get fat."
After being taken to Quizno's for supper by his dad: "Mommy, we ate at a nose restaurant tonight!"
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
I have been too busy to blog the past few days, having spent most of yesterday in rehearsals for a choir concert last night (with another concert to play for tonight). In addition, I have taken on a new editing project--more on that to come--and my awesome literature class (one of my favorite 90-minute blocks of the week) is coming this morning! So in the tradition of writers through the ages when time or inspiration is lacking, I commend to you the words of another. The aforementioned literature class dug into this poem a few weeks ago and found much to love as well as some etymological hidden treasure. If you like the poem as much as we did, feel free to leave your thoughts. And if you have a little time to spend, look up the word "cloy" and see what you can find. In a day or two I'll post our class discovery in the comments.
Spring - Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889)
Nothing is so beautiful as spring --
When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;
Thrush's eggs look little low heavens, and thrush
Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring
The ear, it strikes like lightnings to hear him sing;
The glassy peartree leaves and blooms, they brush
The descending blue; that blue is all in a rush
With richness; the racing lambs too have fair their fling.
What is all this juice and all this joy?
A strain of the earth's sweet being in the beginning
In Eden garden. -- Have, get, before it cloy,
Before it cloud, Christ, lord, and sour with sinning,
Innocent mind and Mayday in girl and boy,
Most, O maid's child, thy choice and worthy the winning.
Saturday, May 3, 2008
Entrust your days and burdens To God's most loving hand;
He cares for you while ruling The sky, the sea, the land.
For He who guides the tempests Along their thund'rous ways
Will find for you a pathway And guide you all your days.
Rely on God your Savior And find your life secure.
Make His work your foundation That your work may endure.
No anxious thought, no worry, No self-tormenting care
Can win your Father's favor; His heart is moved by prayer.
Take heart, have hope, my spirit, And do not be dismayed;
God helps in ev'ry trial And makes you unafraid.
Await His time with patience Through darkest hours of night
Until the sun you hoped for Delights your eager sight.
Leave all to His direction; His wisdom rules for you
In ways to rouse your wonder At all His love can do.
Soon He, His promise keeping, With wonder-working pow'rs
Will banish from your spirit What gave you troubled hours.
(Lutheran Service Book #754, stanzas 1-4)
For my congregation Ascension Day has particular significance due to the fact that we take our name (Bethany) from the village near which Jesus ascended:
"Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven."--Luke 24:50-51
It is perhaps for this reason that we are motivated to make our Ascension observance extra festive, but considering the significance of this event for the Christian Church it is disappointing that more Christian congregations don't give the day special attention. Many let it pass with only glancing recognition, while others don't consider it at all. Even my local Roman Catholic diocese transfers the celebration to Sunday. But I really like what we do at our congregation, turning Ascension Day into a grand festival with particular attention paid to helping the children of our parish grasp the overflowing joy and awe rightly felt by Christians on this day. Following is a brief description of our tradition:
The celebration began right after school with activities for the children. They decorated an Ascension Day banner, created handmade instruments, and learned some Ascension music to sing for the service later in the evening. There was also some outside play time (luckily the weather cooperated). While the children were occupied, parents enjoyed appetizers and conversation in the gym. At 5:15 everyone lined up for a parade around the church grounds. Leading the way was our processional cross, followed by the pastors carrying the Ascension banner. As they marched, the children rattled their noisemakers and blew on their horns. Periodically the parade halted as Pastor proclaimed "We see Him now ascending" to which all responded "Alleluia!" After circling the grounds, everyone gathered in the sanctuary for Divine Service. The celebration wrapped up with a congregational dinner. Here are a few photos of the parade:
The procession begins.
Our adult choir.
Cantor with the children's choir:
Parents & others welcome the marchers as they wind up the parade.
"Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."--Matthew 28:20