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Thursday, April 24, 2014

JOHN THE REVELATOR

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From Wikipedia 
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"John the Revelator" is a traditional gospel blues call and
response song. It has been called "one of the most powerful
songs in all of pre-war acoustic music ... which
has been hugely influential to blue performers".
American gospel-blues musician Blind Willie Johnson
recorded "John the Revelator" in 1930 and subsequently
a variety of artists have recorded their renditions of the song,
often with variations in the verses and music.
.The song's title refers to the Apostle John in his role as the
author of the Book of Revelation. A portion of that book
focuses on the opening of seven seals and the resulting
apocalyptic events. In its various versions, the song quotes
several passages from the Bible in the tradition of American spirituals.
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Blind Willie Johnson version
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Blind Willie Johnson recorded "John the Revelator" during his fifth and final recording session for Columbia Records in Atlanta, Georgia on April 20, 1930. Accompanying Johnson on vocal and guitar is Willie B. Harris (sometimes identified as his first wife), who sings the response parts of the song. Their vocals add a "sense of dread and foreboding" to the song, along with the chorus line "Who's that a writin', John the Revelator" "repeated like a mantra".




Johnson's lyrics reference a number of
passages from the Bible:

[call] Well who's that writin'?
 [response] John the Revelator
Who's that writin'? John the Revelator
Who's that writin'? John the Revelator
A book of the seven seals
Tell me what's John writin'? 
Ask the Revelator
What's John writin'?
 Ask the Revelator
What's John writin'?
 Ask the Revelator
A book of the seven seals
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Well ooh ooh why me, thousands cried
 holy Bound for some, Son of our God 
Daughter of Zion, Judah the Lion 
He redeemeth, and bought us with his blood 
[Repeat verses 1&2]
John the Revelator, great advocator
Get's 'em on the battle of Zion
Lord, tellin' the story, risin' in glory
Cried, "Lord, don't you love some I"
[Repeat verses 1&2]
Well Moses to Moses, watchin' the flock
Saw the bush where they had to stop 
God told Moses, "Pull off your shoes"
Out of the flock, well you I choose
[Repeat verses 1&2]

The song was released as one of the last singles by Johnson and
 is included on numerous compilations, including the 1952
 Anthology of American Folk Music.
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Son House version
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Delta blues musician Son House recorded several
 a cappella versions of "John the Revelator" in
 the 1960s. His lyrics for a 1965 recording
 explicitly reference three theologically
 important events: the Fall of Man, the Passion
 of Christ, and the Resurrection.
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[call] Who's that writin'?
 [response] John the Revelator
Tell me who's that writin'?
 John the Revelator
Tell me who's that writin'?
  John the Revelator
Wrote the book of the seven seals
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 Who's that writin'? 
 John the Revelator
Tell me who's that writin'?
 John the Revelator
Well who's that writin'?
 John the Revelator
Wrote the book of the seven seals
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You know God walked down in the cool of the day
Called Adam by his name
And he refused to answer
Because he's naked and ashamed
[Repeat verses 1 & 2]
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You know Christ had twelve apostles
And three he led away
He said, "Watch with me one hour,
'till I go yonder and pray."
[Repeat verses 1 & 2]
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Christ came on Easter morning
Mary and Martha came down to see
He said, "Go tell my disciples
To meet me in Galilee."
[Repeat verses 1 & 2]
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This version was included on the 1965 album The Legendary Son House: Father of the Folk Blues (Columbia).

A number of artists have covered the song. 
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Sunday, April 13, 2014

THE HOMELESS JESUS

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The "Homeless Jesus" sculpture story has apparently
been around for over a year, but I didn't know
anything about it until I heard a radio story
 this morning on my NPR affiliate, KUNM.
Further down are a couple of interesting
 YouTube videos about the sculpture, the artist,
the controversy, and a papal audience.
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Rev. David Buck sits next to the Jesus the Homeless statue that was installed in front of his church, St. Alban's Episcopal, in Davidscon, N.C.
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Rev. David Buck sits next to the Jesus the Homeless statue that was installed in front of his church, St. Alban's Episcopal, in Davidscon, N.C.
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Click here to HEAR the radio story.
The story text is below (there are minor
differences between the audio and the published
text - obviously a few "editing" decisions
were last minute).
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There is a new religious statue in the town of
 Davidson, N.C. that's unlike anything you
 might see in a church.  It depicts Jesus as
a vagrant, sleeping on a park bench.  A few
residents have complained but most find the statue
spiritually moving.
NPR's John Burnett brings us the story.
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In February, St Albans Episcopal Church in
Davidson installed the Homeless Jesus statue on
 its property in the middle of an upscale
 neighborhood filled with well-kept
 townhomes.
Jesus is huddled under a blanket with his
 face and hands obscured; only the crucifixion
 wounds on his uncovered feet give him away.
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The reaction was immediate. Some loved it;
 some didn't.
"One woman from the neighborhood
 actually called police the first time she drove
 by," says David Boraks, editor of
 DavidsonNews.net. "She thought it was an
 actual homeless person."
That's right. Somebody called the cops on Jesus.
"Another neighbor, who lives a couple of
doors down from the church, wrote us a
 letter to the editor saying it creeps him out,"
 Boraks added.
Some neighbors felt it was an insulting
 depiction of the Son of God, and what
 appears to be a hobo curled up on a bench
 demeans the neighborhood.
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The bronze statue was purchased for $22,000
 as a memorial for a parishioner, Kate
 McIntyre, who had loved public art. The
 rector of this liberal, inclusive church is Rev. 
David Buck, a 65-year-old Baptist-turned-
Episcopalian who seems not at all averse to
 the controversy, the double-takes and the
 discussion the statue has provoked.
"It gives authenticity to our church," he
 says. "This is a relatively affluent church, to
 be honest, and we need to be reminded
 ourselves that our faith expresses itself in
 active concern for the marginalized of society."
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The sculpture is intended as a visual
 translation of the passage in the Book of
 Matthew, in which Jesus tells his disciples,
 "as you did it to one of the least of my
 brothers, you did it to me." Moreover, Buck
 says, it's a good Bible lesson for those used
 to seeing Jesus depicted in traditional
 religious art as the Christ of glory,
 enthroned in finery.
"We believe that that's the kind of life Jesus
 had," Buck says. "He was, in essence, a
 homeless person."
This lakeside college town north of Charlotte
 has the first Jesus the Homeless statue on
 display in the United States.
 Catholic Charities of Chicago plans to install its statue
when the weather warms up. The
 Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., is said to
 be interested in one, too.
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The creator is a Canadian sculptor and
 devout Catholic named Timothy Schmalz.
 From his studio in Ontario, Schmalz says he
 understands that his Jesus the Homeless is provocative.
"That's essentially what the sculpture is
 there to do," he says. "It's meant to
 challenge people."
He says he offered the first casts to St. Michael's Cathedral
 in Toronto and St. Patrick's Cathedral in
 New York. Both declined.
A spokesman at St. Michael's says
 appreciation of the statue "was not
 unanimous," and the church was being
 restored so a new work of art was out of the
question. That statue found a home in front of
 the Jesuit School of Theology
 at the University of Toronto.
A spokesperson at St. Patrick's in New York
 says they liked the homeless Jesus, but their
 cathedral is also being renovated and they
 had to turn it down.
The most high-profile installation of the
 bronze Jesus on a park bench will be on the
 Via della Conziliazione, the avenue leading to
 St. Peter's Basilica — if the City of Rome approves it.
 Schmalz traveled to the Vatican last November
 to present a miniature to the pope himself.
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"He walked over to the sculpture, and it was
 just chilling because he touched the knee of
 the Jesus the Homeless sculpture, and closed
 his eyes and prayed," Schmalz says. "It was
like, that's what he's doing throughout the whole
 world: Pope Francis is reaching out to the
 marginalized."
Back at St. Alban's in Davidson, the rector
 reports that the Jesus the Homeless statue has
 earned more followers than detractors.
 It is now common, he says, to see people come,
 sit on the bench, rest their hand on the 
bronze feet and pray. 
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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

THE MASTER'S CALL - A COWBOY/ST. PAUL STORY

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Both St. Paul and the cowboy in this song
get knocked off their horse, experience visions
involving "blinding light" or lightning,
hear their name called, and
see a vision of Christ their Savior. 
And both, of course, change their lives.
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The rest of it varies in the details.  In the song the guy had
been an "outlaw."  In Paul's storyline, he had been
guilty of running around persecuting Christians.
But they are both conversion/redemption stories.
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 It's easy to believe the cowboy ballad was inspired
 by the tale of  Paul's experience on the
road to Damascus. 
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When I was but a young man I was wild and full of fire
A youth within my teens, but full of challenge and desire
I ran away from home and left my mother and my dad
I know it grieved them so to think their only boy was bad
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I fell in with an outlaw band, their names were known quite well
How many times we robbed and plundered, I could never tell
This kind of sinful living leads only to a fall
I learned that much and more the night I heard my Master call
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One night we rustled cattle, a thousand head or so
And started them out on the trail that leads to Mexico
But a norther started blowing and lightning flashed about
I thought someone was calling me - thought I heard a shout
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Then at that moment lightning struck not twenty yards from me
And left there was a giant cross where once there was a tree
And this time I knew I heard a voice, a voice so sweet and strange

A voice that came from everywhere, a voice that called my name
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So frightened I was thinkin' of the sinful deeds I'd done
I failed to see the thousand head of cattle start to run
The cattle they stampeded and were running all around
My pony ran but stumbled and it threw me to the ground

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I felt the end was near, that death would be the price
When a mighty bolt of lightning showed the face of Jesus Christ
Then I cried oh Lord forgive me, don't let it happen now
I want to live for you alone, oh God these words I vow
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My wicked life unfolded and I thought of wasted years
When another bolt of lightning killed a hundred head of steers
And the others rushed on by me and I was left to live
The Master had a reason, life was His to take or give
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A miracle performed that night, I wasn't meant to die
The dead ones formed a barricade least six or seven high
And right behind it there was I, afraid but safe and sound
I cried and begged for mercy kneelin'  there upon the ground
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A pardon I was granted, and my sinful soul set free
No more to fear the angry waves upon life's stormy sea
Forgiven by the love of God, a love that will remain
I gave my life and soul the night the Savior called my name
I gave my life and soul the night the Savior called my name
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Thursday, April 3, 2014

SPIRITUAL COMMUNION

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From THE URANTIA BOOK
Part III, 103, 4 
 
Spiritual Communion
 
 The characteristic difference between a social occasion and a
 religious gathering is that in contrast with the secular the
 religious is pervaded by the atmosphere of communion. In this
 way human association generates a feeling of fellowship with
 the divine, and this is the beginning of group worship.
 Partaking of a common meal was the earliest type of social
 communion, and so did early religions provide that some
 portion of the ceremonial sacrifice should be eaten by the
 worshipers. Even in Christianity the Lord’s Supper retains
 this mode of communion. The atmosphere of the communion
 provides a refreshing and comforting period of truce in the
 conflict of the self-seeking ego with the altruistic urge of the
 indwelling spirit Monitor. And this is the prelude to true
 worship — the practice of the presence of God which
 eventuates in the emergence of the brotherhood of man.
 
 When primitive man felt that his communion with God had
 been interrupted, he resorted to sacrifice of some kind in an
 effort to make atonement, to restore friendly relationship. The
 hunger and thirst for righteousness leads to the discovery of
 truth, and truth augments ideals, and this creates new
 problems for the individual religionists, for our ideals tend to
 grow by geometrical progression, while our ability to live up to
 them is enhanced only by arithmetical progression.
 
 The sense of guilt (not the consciousness of sin) comes either
 from interrupted spiritual communion or from the lowering of
 one’s moral ideals. Deliverance from such a predicament can
 only come through the realization that one’s highest moral 
ideals are not necessarily synonymous with the will of God.
 Man cannot hope to live up to his highest ideals, but he can be
 true to his purpose of finding God and becoming more and
 more like him.
 
 Jesus swept away all of the ceremonials of sacrifice and
 atonement. He destroyed the basis of all this fictitious guilt and
 sense of isolation in the universe by declaring that man is a
 child of God; the creature-Creator relationship was placed on
 a child-parent basis. God becomes a loving Father to his
 mortal sons and daughters. All ceremonials not a legitimate
 part of such an intimate family relationship are forever
 abrogated.
 
 God the Father deals with man his child on the basis, not of
 actual virtue or worthiness, but in recognition of the child’s
 motivation — the creature purpose and intent. The
 relationship is one of parent-child association and is actuated
 by divine love.
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