Monthly Archives: December 2014

Marriage: Covenant or Contract?, part 1

 

covenant

(This is the first of a three-part series; here are the links to part 2 and part 3.)

In a previous post, I spoke about the Church’s tendency to try to imbue common objects and actions with spiritual overtones, and how this supports the encrustation of tradition onto the teachings of the Church. As Christians, we are so prone to the sacralization of those things that we hold dear that we end up creating our own sacred cows. As a card-carrying iconoclast in good standing (our motto is “Sacred cows make good hamburger”), I am going to write about one of the most sacred of sacred cows, the “Covenant” of marriage. Continue reading

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Matinee Monday: Cole Porter

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Two weeks ago, I shined a spotlight on the Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers team that was so iconic of the 30’s. I included a link to a clip of them dancing to “Night and Day”, in The Gay Dirvorcé. Today, I want to talk about the musical element of old movies.

I’m just going to lay it out: the music composers of these old movies were the best ever. Between Broadway and Hollywood, the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s created the Golden Age of American music. With people like Irving Berlin, George and Ira Gershwin, Cole Porter, Jerome Kern, Rodgers and Hart, Hoagy Carmichael, etc. writing music and scores, American stage and screen were blessed with a music that will live for ages.

The song that I featured last week, “Night and Day”, was written by Cole Porter, one of the most prolific and remarkable songwriters of the era. As an example of what I’m trying to get at, here is a list of notable Cole Porter songs from just the 1930’s:

  • “Night and Day”
  • “Anything Goes”
  • “I Get a Kick Out of You”
  • “You’re the Top”
  • “Don’t Fence Me In”
  • “It’s De-Lovely”
  • “I’ve Got You Under My Skin”
  • “My Heart Belongs to Daddy”
  • “Begin the Beguine”

This list is, by no means, a complete listing of his songs from the 30’s; just the most memorable. And all of these songs are still being sung today.  If you do a search on YouTube for the last song on the list, you’ll find a musical Who’s Who of renditions: Ella Fitzgerald, Artie Shaw, Andy Williams, Johnny Mathis, Frank Sinatra……

Well, you get my point. The music of the old movies was just plain special, because the composers were the best ever produced. Here is Begin the Beguine, by Deanna Durbin, from Hers To Hold. (be sure to turn your volume down, as Durbin can be over-powering when she goes high.)

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Apostle’s Creed, part 5

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas. Here, at the CSL house, we had a very nice Jewish Christmas. With that said, here is the next post about The Apostle’s Creed:

I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth.

And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:

I am not an inclusionist; I am an exclusionist. Once you say “I believe X,” you exclude A, B, C, D, E and F. Continue reading

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Candles #2

 

 

candle

 

Merry Christmas. Peter, Paul and Mary used to sing a Hanukkah song entitled “Light One Candle” that had this chorus:

Don’t let the light go out
It’s lasted for so many years
Don’t let the light go out
Let it shine through our love and our tears


Whenever I see something that makes me think that the light still has a chance to shine in our darkness, I light to share it. What happens when you give a homeless man $100? In this instance, light….

 

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Happy Christmas, #3 – Winter Warlock’s Repentance

happychristmas Merry Christmas, all. I hope you are enjoying today. For my last entry in this mini-series on Christmas songs that make me happy, I’ve saved the best for last: The Repentance of the Winter Warlock, from Santa Clause is Coming to Town. It is my contention that Rankin and Bass’s 1970 TV special is the most Christian and theologically instructive of Christmas movies, what with Christmas Eve being called the “holiest night of the year”, and Winter praying. To top it all off, the song “Put One Foot in Front of the Other” is pretty much a spot-on picture of repentance and turning away from sin. The final verse is sound that it should be preached from the pulpit:

If I want to change the reflection I see in the mirror each morn… You mean that it’s just my election? To vote for a chance to be reformed? 

Makes me happy. Merry Christmas! Read more: Soundtrack Artists – Put One Foot In Front Of The Other Lyrics | MetroLyrics 

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Happy Christmas #2 – Bing and Bowie

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I hope you enjoyed yesterday’s song. As I said, that song makes me happy. It gives me joy to hear the chimes and hear the Royal Guardsmen shout out the chorus. Today’s song is different. Not a happy tune, but I love the absolute genius that it took to pair the old mellow crooner, Bing Crosby, with the new generation idol David Bowie.

This is the second Bingle song I’ve highlighted this week, and it has an interesting backstory. Bowie agreed to do the Christmas special because his Mum loved Bing, but he hated the song “Little Drummer Boy” and told the writers that he wouldn’t sing that song. Within an hour, the writers created the “Peace On Earth” song for Bowie to sing as counterpoint to Bing’s “Little Drummer Boy.”

Seeing these icons of two different generations produce this haunting version makes me happy: enjoy.

CSL

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Happy Christmas 1.5 – The Holly and the Ivy

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“1.5”? Yes, 1.5. I had originally scheduled three posts to come after Matinee Monday, but because I was futzing around, trying to get a CL Twitter account and have it co-ordinate with my blog, I somehow overrode the scheduling and posted it yesterday, instead of this morning. So I include a “bonus” Happy Christmas.

In a way, this error is a disguised blessing, because it gives me a chance to shed another veil, to expose a little more of what makes me happy. And that is old, old, seriously-old carols. Wife and I were talking last night, and listening to an album of Nat King Cole, Dean Martin, Der Bingle, and the like, croon their way through standard Christmas fare, and that was alright. Wife did note that while it didn’t get her in the Christmas spirit, it did help to create an air of sentiment. And she is right. Sentiment, not spirit.

But for me, an anglophile, old (even ancient) carols do help me get into the Christmas spirit. The more medieval the tune and/or lyrics sound, the more the song fills me with ‘spirit.’ There’s the standard “Bring a Torch, Jeanette Isabella”. One that over the past few year has seemingly been re-discovered is “The Cherry Tree Carol.” (Truly love that one.) But the one that sends me soaring is “The Holly and the Ivy”. I hope you enjoy this version, by The Mediaeval Babes.

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Happy Christmas, #1 – Snoopy’s Christmas

happychristmas

You will observe that I say “Happy Christmas,” not “Merry Christmas.” If you are British, that is the normal greeting, but here in North America, the traditional greeting is “Merry Christmas.” So why am I using the above, rather than the traditional? Because, for the next three days, I’m putting up posts to Christmas songs that make me happy. I love the traditional carols just as much as the next guy (maybe even more than the next guy, when it comes to that!) But there are Christmas songs that aren’t carols, that I can’t get enough of, and I’m going to say a little something about them.

The first one is what many probably consider a silly song, “Snoopy’s Christmas,” by The Royal Guardsmen. A true one-trick pony, the RGs had two hit tunes, both gimmicks, singing about Snoopy and his fantasy as a WWI ace. But believe it or not, the chorus of this song moves me. I don’t know if it’s the chimes, the tenor of their voices, of the words of the chorus, but each time those bells chime and they enter the chorus, I get verklempt. It makes me happy, and I hope you enjoy it, as well.

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Matinee Monday

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Last week, I did a quick-hitter post, highlighting a Hanukkah song written by a Mormon senator. This week, as it’s Christmas, I highlight the most popular Christmas song, written by a Jewish songwriter. I can’t let the week go by without highlighting the concluding scene from one of my favorite Christmas movies, White Christmas.

I love this movie, and the pairing of the slow, lazy Bing with the frenetic and kooky Danny Kaye seems inspired, in hindsight. The pairing of Danny Kaye as dance partner to Vera-Ellen would seem, on the surface, to have been a mistake. Vera-Ellen was a superb dancer who could do both ballet and tap, but in watching the two dance, it’s always a surprise to find that I’m watching Kaye as he matches V-E step for step.

But the song. Yes, the movie is a great holiday film, but I wait for the final scene with anticipation. I’ve always loved Bing Crosby (a fellow-Washingtonian), and his recording of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas is the best-selling single of all time. According to Wikipedia, Der Bingle’s recording has sold over 50 million copies. When he wrote White Christmas, Berlin realized just how monumental a song it was. He is said to have told his secretary, “Grab your pen and take down this song. I just wrote the best song I’ve ever written — heck, I just wrote the best song that anybody’s ever written!”

Capturing both the joy and wistfulness of the holiday season, and coupled with the warmth of Crosby’s mellifluous crooning, this scene puts a final bow on top of a wonderful holiday present-ation.

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The Why and How of My Now, part 5

(This is the fifth of a five-part series; here are the links to part 1, part 2, part 3 and part 4.)

The Original Question

From the first post in the series:

“So you don’t believe in the institution of Marriage, do you?”

“No, not the Institution of Marriage that the Church teaches. What changed my perspective? Believe it or not, the beginning of the improvement of my marriage was the trigger.”

This must seem to be a real conundrum. Four years ago, I was a miserable old coot, praying to die, but holding the idea that “God hates divorce.” Now, I am an extremely happy man, ecstatic in his marriage, who believes that the Church is making people miserable by its rigid worship of Marriage. That just seems so incongruous. Doesn’t it seem like it would be the other way around, that the miserable man would have the “low view” of marriage and not the other way round? Continue reading

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