Goodness Is Stronger than Evil

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The quotation comes from South African Bishop Desmond Tutu; the tune from Scotsman John Bell; the singing from Plymouth Congregational Church in Lincoln, Nebraska. In this moment, it serves as a good reminder for the weary.

The walls of gold entomb us!

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The lyrics of G. K. Chesterton are set to the Welsh tune Llangloffan in this YouTube from Lincoln, Nebraska. God help us all in the first year of A.T. 1 (Anno Trump) when we are face with the threat that “the walls of gold [will] entomb us”.

Pete Seeger – Singing toward our inmost calm

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In this American time of turmoil and strife, Pete Seeger singing “How Can I Keep from Singing?” restores my faith that “no storm can shake my inmost calm” (Robert Lowry, 1869). RIP, Pete. We’re listening.

Truth alone is strong

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In this moment of “the strife of truth and falsehood,” the Notre Dame organ voices the assurance of hope spoken by James Russell Lowell in the hymn “Once to Every Man and Nation.” “Though the cause of evil prosper, Yet truth alone is strong. ”

I Want Jesus to Walk with Me

Yesterday the children at Trinity Episcopal Church sang a beautiful rendering of “I Want Jesus to Walk with Me”. This morning, after posting “Seeing with the Ears” about Nicodemus’s night visit with Jesus, this soulful YouTube of “I Want Jesus to Walk with Me” sung by Larry Kinley struck a deep chord.

If you’re not into Jesus, you can still feel the song – listen to the saxophone and Larry Kinley’s baritone longing for companionship and hope in your times of trouble.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, March 13, 2017.

Seeing with the Ears

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Last night the story of Nicodemus‘s night visit with Rabbi Jesus intersected with a quite unexpected introduction to Max Picard’s The World of Silence read aloud on Voetica.com. Click HERE for the audio of David Juda’s reading of Max Picard’s The World of Silence or watch and listen to the re-blogged sermon on Nicodemus,”Seeing with the Ears”for this time when words so often fail the longings of the heart.

Views from the Edge

Nicodemus and Jesus on a rooftop, Tanner, Henry Ossawa, 1859-1937 Nicodemus and Jesus on a rooftop

He comes by night. He slips along the buildings of the city streets in hopes that no one will notice. He is a man of position and authority, a learned teacher with a Ph.D. in religion on his way to the kindergarten teacher. “Everything I need to know in life I learned in Kindergarten,” wrote Robert Fulghum. Nicodemus has a sense that he has lost a thing or two along the way, that he needs to start over again.

He’s sent a private message asking for a confidential meeting. The arrangements have been made for the time and place…under the cover of darkness… at Nicodemus’ request.

Dressed in a hooded sweatshirt pulled up around his face and wearing an old trench coat to blend in with displaced people who spend the night on the street, Nicodemus changes his normally stately gait on the way to his secret meeting.

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The devil’s playground

Be embraced, you millions!
This kiss is for the entire world!
Brothers! over the starry canopy
Must a loving Father dwell!.

Beethoven’s 9th, Movement III.

Retired University of Pennsylvania music librarian and lifelong friend Carolyn brought Beethoven’s line to our attention in response to today’s earlier post, “Now (regretfully) I Know.”

“Hitler,” she said, “was purportedly extremely partial to Beethoven’s 9th,” especially to the lines above. Her comments remind me again that even beauty itself can become the source of ugliness. Good and evil lie next to each other in this world, just a breath away from the other.

It’s not just an idle mind that is the devil’s workshop. [H. G. Bohn, “Hand-Book of Proverbs,” 1855]. It’s also a lofty mind, propelled by the best in us.

High ideals – a world at one, a world at peace; feel the embrace, you millions, this kiss is for the entire world – are not just lofty. They are also the devil’s playground where light is turned into darkness, love into hate, hope into despair, hugs into gropings, and kisses into kisses of death.

Thank you, Carolyn, for the comment. The physically blind Beethoven surely would cherish the prospect that the world will not allow Hitler’s distortion to become the the last interpretation of the last movement of Beethoven’s 9th.

It is left to us to redeem the hug and the kiss with the spirit of hope and contrition we know by heart:

“Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed by thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread.” (Just enough bread for one day.) “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who have trespassed against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, November 5, 2016.