Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sunday Night at the Cafe: Thunder on the Mountain

Performance from Bob Dylan's most recent show in New York City on Nov. 21. Tip of the tinfoil to RWB who is right to call attention to the instrumental jam which showcases the mighty-fine playing on the electric organ by Dylan. And the words aren't bad either.

Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would tremble before you! As when fire sets twigs ablaze and causes water to boil, come down to make your name known to your enemies and cause the nations to quake before you!

For when you did awesome things that we did not expect, you came down, and the mountains trembled before you.

Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.
-Isaiah 64:1-4
Thunder on the mountain, fires on the moon
There's a ruckus in the alley and the sun will be here soon
Today's the day, gonna grab my trombone and blow
Well, there's hot stuff here and it's everywhere I go

I was thinkin' 'bout Alicia Keys, couldn't keep from crying
When she was born in Hell's Kitchen, I was living down the line
I'm wondering where in the world Alisha Keys could be
I been looking for her even clear through Tennessee

Feel like my soul is beginning to expand
Look into my heart and you will sort of understand
You brought me here, now you're trying to run me away
The writing's on the wall, come read it, come see what it say

Thunder on the mountain, rolling like a drum
Gonna sleep over there, that's where the music coming from
I don't need any guide, I already know the way
Remember this, I'm your servant both night and day

The pistols are poppin' and the power is down
I'd like to try somethin' but I'm so far from town
The sun keeps shinin' and the North Wind keeps picking up speed
Gonna forget about myself for a while, gonna go out and see what others need

I've been sitting down studying the art of love
I think it will fit me like a glove
I want some real good woman to do just what I say
Everybody got to wonder what's the matter with this cruel world today

Thunder on the mountain rolling to the ground
Gonna get up in the morning walk the hard road down
Some sweet day I'll stand beside my king
I wouldn't betray your love or any other thing

Gonna raise me an army, some tough sons of bitches
I'll recruit my army from the orphanages
I been to St. Herman's church and I've said my religious vows
I've sucked the milk out of a thousand cows

I got the porkchops, she got the pie
She ain't no angel and neither am I
Shame on your greed, shame on your wicked schemes
I'll say this, I don't give a damn about your dreams

Thunder on the mountain heavy as can be
Mean old twister bearing down on me
All the ladies of Washington scrambling to get out of town
Looks like something bad gonna happen, better roll your airplane down

Everybody's going and I want to go too
Don't wanna take a chance with somebody new
I did all I could and I did it right there and then
I've already confessed – no need to confess again

Gonna make a lot of money, gonna go up north
I'll plant and I'll harvest what the earth brings forth
The hammer's on the table, the pitchfork's on the shelf
For the love of God, you ought to take pity on yourself

B. Dylan 2007

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Saturday Night at the Cafe: I'll meet you halfway

The first album I ever bought was the album that included this song called Up to Date. I was ten and living in Mt. Pleasant, S.C. The lasting legacy of that album is that I still remember the birthdays of each individual Partridge (Susan Dey's birthday is next at Dec. 10), including even Simone the family dog (June 22) who showed up in the first season only of the now classic television series. In fact, I collected all the albums (1971-1972), except for the Greatest Hits album, which was - obviously - redundant. I had moved on (literally, to California), though I still have those albums, for some reason. Guess one never knows when we might forget Shirley Jones' birthday (March 31). Or Simone's. It would be better to remember one's own sister-in-law's birthday (yesterday). Happy Birthday, Lu.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Shopping with Kat: How to survive the first day of Christmas Shopping

Yes, yes. We went shopping today, along with millions of other Americans, we too went shopping and lived to tell about it. Only our shopping extravaganza turned out to be, well, to put it bluntly - fun.

Join BabyBlue and Kat (a kindred friend from The Firm) as we shop 'til we drop, as only two old friends can do on the most wild and crazy shopping day of the year - making some new and rather interesting friends along the way. We did learn that a good cup of coffee can make all the difference - and even broken things can come in handy in a pinch.

Christmas Shopping can indeed be fun when one shops with a friend.

Mumbai Jewish Center Retaken, Hostages Reported Dead

Many who follow Bob Dylan's career know of his connections with Chabad. His son-in-law has been very active in the organization, well-known in the New York area for its telethons (Dylan has shown up on them in the past as well). Last year Dylan was spotted attending Yom Kippur services at a Chabad center in Georgia and got high marks when he was called up to the Torah to read a blessing.

In addition to the hotels being attacked by what appears to be Islamic-extremist terrorists in India, the Chabad-sponsored Nariman House in Mumbai was also invaded. As the Indian commandos fight to regain control of the city (while Mumbai residents fill the rooftops cheering on the commandos), the fight at Chabad House has tragically ended with the death of at least five people, including the resident American rabbi and his wife of Brooklyn, NY.

Their son, however, was rescued by the cook.

ABC News reports:

The most dramatic conclusion came today at Chabad House, the Jewish center, with troops rappeling onto the roof from helicopters and the building being peppered with grenades as residents crowded surrounding rooftops to cheer on the attack.

At one point troops were seen dangling what appeared to be a mannequin over the side of the building in an apparent attempt to get the terrorists to reveal themselves.

Despite the blasts, militants inside continued to fire intensely at the advancing troops, until a huge blast rocked the building. The explosion was so powerful that debris flew off the sides of the building.

A few more shots were exchanged before the building went quiet and searchlights could be seen moving through the house. People streamed into the streets singing.

Indian media reported, however, that five hostages inside the building had died. The dead were not identified, but among those believed to be inside were American rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg, 29, and his wife, Rivka.

A cook for the center had escaped earlier with the couple's 2-year-old son. The boy was unhurt, but his clothing was covered in blood. The cook said she last saw the couple lying on the floor unconscious.

The militants, believed to number about 20 to 25, surged into Mumbai's fashionable downtown district on Wednesday firing indiscriminately into hospitals, a train station, a cafe and other sites before taking hostages and preparing for a fight to the death in the two hotels and the Chabad center.

An Indian commando who fought them said the fighters were young men who were ruthless.

"They were the type of people with no remorse. Anybody and whosoever was in front of them, they fired," the commando told a news conference.
Read it all here. RWB is also following the story here.

Here's more live video from the Telegraph:

As we've been following the story here at the Cafe, this song popped up on the cafe jukebox and we'll put it up as we try to make sense of it all. In fact, consider clicking on the song below and then when the music begins, click on the video above. That may say more than news reports can convey.

Any question now what Bob Dylan meant in his sardonic comments from the stage on Election Night?


And for those of us who are Christians, may we too offer prayers as well.

Thanks, RWB.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

So much to be thankful for ...

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God's grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

Philippians 1:3-11

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Official Portrait of Rowan Williams unveiled - sort of ...

This is the official portrait - at least it's supposed to be, apparently - of the current Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams. The likeness is exemplary. It really does capture his, to coin a rather oxymoronic phrase, renowned humility. What's not clear at this time is whether this particular view is cropped or the original perspective of the official portrait that - according to Ruth Gledhill at the London Times - has not yet made it out of a back room at Lambeth Palace since it's unveiling.

He does look somewhat cornered, doesn't he, although I suppose he could be blocking a secret door behind those drapes. There are some most excellent comments over at Ruth's blog and I encourage you to get thee hence and read them all, most especially George Barr's insightful postings on the portrait.

The perspective does seem to be as one who is waiting, who's even intentionally off to the side - like at a dance, having finished his glass of punch is now waiting, not wanting to intrude but not quite ready to go. And he seems quite content to be right where he is.

But who is it this who approaches him? The perspective is quite interesting. It's quite a contrast to this recent one, or this one. Or even this one. It's quite different from this photo portrait (which is similar to this earlier sitting) as well (with glimpses of portraits of predecessors from the past there in the background).

It is quite puzzling however, that we should find him so plainly in the corner, as though attempting to hide behind the drapes. The expression on his face seems to convey a warm expectancy. "Ah, there You are."

Or else he just has a very tall painter.

Wednesday Night at the Cafe: Fix You

Reading stuff on the day before Thanksgiving - the day before Thanksgiving - and wondering about reconciliation.

Cooler headers prevail: Joint Standing Committee does not take action against Southern Cone

Very good news. In fact, 815's Matthew Davies is reporting Bishop Schori as saying that "the subject has not come up." Funny how that happens. Since the Joint Standing Committee is meeting "behind closed doors" we do not know what - or what has not - actually happened. But perhaps Rowan Williams Advent Message got through. Here's an excerpt from ENS:

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori was among those attending the JSC meeting, which was held behind closed doors at the Anglican Communion Office and Lambeth Palace in London. She noted that a November 26 report in The Times of London newspaper, that suggested the JSC had discussed plans to discipline the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone for its recent incursions into other provinces, was untrue. "The subject has not come up," she told Episcopal News Service.


Still contemplating this most-excellent Advent Message by Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury - as well as bumpy roads and stormy seas. And this song comes to mind:

This is for you, AM.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

London Times: Anglican province faces “punishment” this week for offering safe haven to orthodox Anglicans


Golly. Think it's time to watch the Archbishop of Canterbury's Advent Video again. Now we see who the TEC allies are - and their methods of dealing with the crisis. Who would have thought that so-called liberals would be using punitive action as their route to reconciliation? Just who are the liberals these days? My goodness. Obviously we're seeing a pattern develop here and it's more a wet blanket than a warm and fuzzy one. That Goth Eucharist is looking better all the time.

Time to revisit
The Graph. "It's rough out there, high water everywhere." And he ain't kiddin'. In fact, we look at this and think "retribution." Are the tribunals next? Is that what this "Joint Standing Committee" really is? Looks like Mouneer Anis and Henry Orombi want nothing to do with it. Will Rowan Williams remember his own Advent message?

From here. More here And here.
A conservative province in the Anglican church faces “punishment” this week for offering a safe haven to conservatives.

Senior bishops and laity meeting in London are to consider suspending the Anglican church in South America for taking rebel US dioceses under its wing.

The move will bring the Anglican Communion closer to a formal split. Early next month, rebel conservatives are expected to finalise plans for a new Anglican province in the US, to sit as a parallel jurisdiction alongside the existing Episcopal Church.

Unless this new province is recognised as part of the Anglican family by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams and the other 38 primates, it will in effect become a new Anglican church.

In a further indication that the liberals are winning the Anglican wars, The Episcopal Church of the US, which was suspended at a previous meeting, is expected to be welcomed back into the fold after sticking by its pledge not to consecrate any more gay bishops.

The Latin American Province of the Southern Cone headed by English-born bishop, the Most Rev Gregory Venables, has aroused the fury of liberal primates after a fourth US diocese voted to leave The Episcopal Church and realign with it.

Fort Worth voted earlier this month to quit the liberal Episcopal Church. Within the last 12 months, San Joaquin, Pittsburgh and Quincy have all approved a similar change.

Bishop Bob Duncan of Pittsburgh has subsequently been deposed.

The Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, the Most Rev Katharine Jefferts Schori, last Friday sent out a “letter of inhibition” against Fort Worth’s Bishop Jack Iker which is expected to lead also to his deposition.

Bishop Iker, who opposes women’s ordination, said in response: “Katharine Jefferts Schori has no authority over me or my ministry as a Bishop in the Church of God. She never has, and she never will.”

The Church of England has so far resisted being split by the controversy. At a recent meeting of evangelicals in London, delegates refused to vote for a motion backing a declaration by the Global Anglican Future Conference, the conservative “alternative” to the Lambeth Conference that met in Jerusalem last summer.

The penalty being considered against the Southern Cone, which has 22,000 members in Argentina and surrounding nations, includes the removal of voting rights at the forthcoming meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council, the central governing body of the Anglican Communion, in Jamaica next May.

When the council last met in Nottingham in 2005, the lay and ordained members from Canada and the US were allowed to attend as observers but were barred from voting. This was because a diocese in Canada had authorised a rite for same-sex blessings and The Episcopal Church had gone ahead with the consecration of the openly gay Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams and Bishop Jefferts Schori are among those who will be debating action against the Southern Cone at this week’s meeting of the joint standing committee of the Primates and the Anglican Consultative Council, chaired by the Right Rev John Paterson of New Zealand.

Significantly, the two conservative Archbishops on the committee, the Most Rev Henry Orombi of Uganda and the Most Rev Mouneer Anis of Egypt and the Middle East, have decided not to attend.

Spikes and chains and beauty and joy?

Introducing The Goth Eucharist?

"A Christian Goth may initially seem to be an oxymoron," Marcus Ramshaw writes. "Goths, in terms of today’s sub-culture celebrate, with both an ironic and cynical attitude, an approach to life which is frequently both nihilistic and fatalistic. Christians, in contrast are associated with a joyful, faith-filled and positive approach to life, full of hope and a strong belief in redemption. The gothic view of life appears to be a stark contrast to the Christian one."

That being said, in the Diocese of Bethlehem, St. George's Episcopal Church, Nanticoke, is hosting what they are calling a "Goth Eucharist" anyway, apparently based on one that began at the Church of St. Edward King and Martyr in Cambridge, England. The will hold their first Goth Eucharist this Saturday.

“I think experiencing a liturgy that’s a little off the wall is intriguing,” said Deacon Lou Divis of St. George's. “I’m expecting spikes and chains and beauty and joy.”

So will it now be Nine Inch Nails instead of U2? What's next - an Emo Eucharist?

Read all about it here.

The Rowan Williams we rarely see ...

The Archbishop of Canterbury reflects on Advent in a video that illustrates a new direction for the communication effort coming out of Lambeth Palace and what we've hoped to see for a long time. The video, with music to emphasize the tone, shows the Rowan Williams we rarely get to see on the public stage - the sage, the pilgrim, the poet, the contemplative, the kindness of the man. I love that the center of his reflections is totally on Jesus - Jesus. That is a major theological point that we cannot ignore - not the "reinvented cosmic christ that is the holy-we" but Jesus.

May we all continue to keep Rowan Williams sincerely in our prayers. His counsel is wise - that we slow down, take time, let us grow and open up and look for Jesus. It is a time of expectation, a time of waiting, a time of peace, a time to clear our minds and hearts so that we can see clearly when Jesus arrives. May that be so, your Grace. May it be so.

Tip of the tinfoil to Ruth - thank you.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Very interesting development: Dr. Michael W. Howell appointed Executive Director of Forward in Faith (North America)

BB NOTE: Michael Howell was one of the few orthodox voices on the official General Convention "Special Committee 26" that reviewed all the legislation regarding compliance (or lack thereof) with the Windsor Report and the Primates' Dromantine Communique at the last General Convention in Columbus. His appointment as Executive Director of Forward in Faith is very good news for the historic partnership between orthodox evangelicals and Anglo Catholics - not only for the Common Cause Partnership, but most especially in the development of the new Anglican Province in North America. Very good news, indeed.

From here.

Forward in Faith North America (FiF NA) announces the appointment of Dr. Michael W. Howell as its new Executive Director. Dr. Howell’s appointment will officially begin on January 1, 2009, but he has wasted no time in assuming some duties of his future office. Dr. Howell, a former Associate Professor at the University of South Florida, currently serves on the boards of FiFNA, the American Anglican Council, and Trinity School for Ministry.

“I have never been more excited about the role that FiFNA will play in the new emerging Anglican Church in North America. We are committed to preaching and spreading of the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ. I believe the leaders of the Anglican Communion recognize the need for an orthodox (believing) Province in North America. Now more than ever, we need to ensure that Anglicanism’s Catholic heritage and order will continue to grow and thrive within the context of a mission oriented, biblically-grounded emerging North American Province,” stated Dr. Howell in an interview following his appointment.

Read the whole thing here.

Don't sink the lifeboats: Episcopal Seminary Dean defends "outside strategy" to create a new Anglican Province in North America

BB NOTE: As an orthodox Episcopalian, Dr. Robert Munday, Dean of the Episcopal seminary Nashotah House, writes an excellent defense of the new Anglican Province in North America in response to those who are pursuing an "inside" strategy, but have been aiming their darts of late at those who are pursuing the outside strategy. Dr. Munday offers wise counsel on that point:

I can imagine the frustration that members of the ACI feel with those who are leaving existing Anglican structures while they are trying to save them. But I believe the ACI's efforts would win the support of a greater number of people if they spent more time telling us how they propose to save the ship and less time knocking holes in other people's lifeboats. It remains to be seen whether the ACI's strategy can be successful; and, if not, there may come a day when we are glad the lifeboats are there.

Here is more from Dr. Munday:
I would like to make a few comments on Dr. Radner's six points, as I imagine someone who is a part of Common Cause might respond to them:

1. The new grouping will not, contrary to the stated claims of some of its proponents, embrace all or even most traditional Anglicans in North America. For instance, the Communion Partners group within TEC, comprises 13 dioceses as a whole, and a host of parishes and their rectors, whose total Sunday membership is upwards of 300,000. It is unlikely that these will wish to be a part of the new grouping, for some of the reasons stated below.

True, a new Province will not, for various reasons, be able to include all traditional Anglicans in North America, but how does that constitute a reason not to do it? A great many orthodox Anglicans, including overwhelming majorities in four former TEC dioceses, attest that, due to conscience over the growing departures from orthodoxy and the political pressures being brought upon them, they cannot remain in TEC. Why should these who are determined to remain faithful Anglicans not constitute an Anglican Province that seeks to be in Communion with as many other Anglican provinces as will recognize them?

God willing, this new Province may well come to embrace all or most orthodox Anglicans if it proves to be a preferable alternative. It will also be of tremendous benefit and a fulfillment of Christ's high-priestly prayer if this new Province can succeed in uniting the members of an Anglican diaspora that stretches back to the separation of the Reformed Episcopal Church in 1873. How is this not a good thing?

2. The new grouping, through some of its founding members, will continue in litigation within the secular courts for many years. This continues to constitute a sad spectacle, and is, in any case, practically and morally unfeasible for most traditional Anglicans.

I agree that litigation is a sad spectacle. But we need to remember who started the litigation and who continues to pursue it. The martyrdoms in the reign of Bloody Mary were a sad spectacle too. But this is like blaming the Reformers for that spectacle.

No one who has ever left TEC desired to be involved in a lawsuit. The lawsuits are a regrettable consequence of their following their consciences. Many Episcopalians, either because they are too intimidated or because they do not see leaving as the correct solution, may not leave. But if you are going to make a case that those who have left TEC should not have done so, you are going to have to demonstrate how their consciences could have been assuaged in remaining, and not merely claim that they should not have left because it resulted in lawsuits.

3. The new grouping is, in the eyes of many, representative of diverse bodies whose theology and ecclesiology is, taken together, incoherent, and perhaps in some cases even incompatible. The argument can be made that this is no different than historic Anglican comprehensiveness as a whole; but under the circumstances of a new structural distinction and the challenges this brings, the incoherence constitutes a burden that not all traditionalists believes is prudent to assume. This warning bell has been sounded repeatedly by traditionalists.

As you anticipated, it must be pointed out that the diversity of theology and ecclesiology is no greater than that which already exists in the Anglican Communion. And, in some important respects, the diversity in theology is notably less than that which has brought the Anglican Communion into crisis. If Anglicanism has held together for nearly five hundred years, a Province united in its commitment to the authority of Scripture and Gospel-centered mission and ministry will have even less trouble doing so; and it may, in fact, succeed in healing some of the theological divisions that have troubled Anglicanism in the past.

If GAFCON can embrace Sydney evangelicals and Society of the Holy Cross Anglo-Catholics, the diversity among those who are included in the proposed North American Province is far less than that. To see this situation as "incoherence" and "a burden [that it is not] prudent to assume" strikes me as being either phenomenally nearsighted or timid to the point of paralysis.

It could be argued (and is being argued by those forming a new Province) that this is an opportunity to begin a remarkable new chapter in Anglican history--one in which an orthodox Anglicanism that shares the commitments I have mentioned above can move forward in mission, unshackled from many of the elements that have impeded its mission in the past.

In any event, the challenges you mention may be a reason why some Anglicans may choose not to join a new Province. They do not constitute a reason for those who embrace the challenges and the opportunity willingly not to proceed.

4. There is a host of irregularities regarding ordination, representation, consent, and so on that is included among the members of this new grouping. Some of these are both understandable and inevitable under the circumstances. But they nonetheless constitute barriers for future reconciliation with other Anglican churches.

The same could be said (and was said) regarding the ratification of Called to Common Mission (CCM) (providing reciprocal sharing of ministries between The Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America). An even greater degree of "irregularities" had to be embraced in the formation of the Church of South India and the Church of North India. This is almost inevitable whenever breaches are healed through ecumenical union. The irregularities make things messy for one generation, but are usually resolved by the second generation of ordained clergy. Compared with the opportunity of fulfilling the call to unity for which Christ prayed, many Christians have found it to be worth the price.

5. Will the new grouping actually be a formal “province” within the Anglican Communion, whatever name it assumes? Surely, it will be recognized by some of the GAFCON Primates. However, it will probably not be recognized at the Primates’ meeting as a whole or even by a majority of its members, and will be yet another cause for division there. Nor will it be recognized at the ACC. Thus it threatens to be yet another wedge in the breakup of the Communion, even while there have been signs of coalescing efforts to restore the integrity of our common witness.

It can be argued that the establishment of an orthodox North American Province (even if it is initially recognized only by some of the GAFCON primates) is the best way to deal with the crisis in the Communion. (a.) The orthodox will be able to look after themselves, so "border crossing" for episcopal oversight by overseas bishops and primates can cease. (b.) Instead of being a beleaguered minority within TEC, the orthodox can be treated as equals in a dialogue intended to resolve the crisis of authority in Anglicanism. (c.) TEC will have greater incentive to respond to the calls of the rest of the Communion to return to Anglican norms, lest they lose credibility compared with the new Province. TEC's leadership fears the realization of this last point, which is the main reason why they are working so hard to prevent establishment and recognition of a new Province.

6. Such division on this matter among the Primates and the ACC will likely strengthen the position of TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada. They will move forward as continuing and undisciplined members of the Communion. All of this will merely hasten the demise of our common life, even among Global South churches themselves.

While some may argue that the best way to preserve the unity of the Anglican Communion is to preserve the unity of the American Church (or, failing that, not to recognize any group that splits off from the American Church), I would argue the exact opposite. The best way to preserve the unity of the Anglican Communion is to allow the American church to divide (which is happening anyway, whether anyone likes it or not) and to recognize two North American provinces. Some overseas provinces will relate to one of the North American provinces more than the other. But there will not be the present level of vigorous advocacy (and border crossing) that now threatens to divide the Communion. And there will not be any reason why the other provinces of the Communion should be impaired in their relationships with each other or with Canterbury. However, if the present situation continues, and Canterbury does not recognize the new North American Province, it will eventually (and sooner rather than later) force some Global South provinces to end their relationship with Canterbury, and the Communion will be lost.

Finally, on a personal note: I am very appreciative of the work of the Anglican Communion Institute and especially the work being done with the Communion Partner dioceses and rectors. I have not criticized and would not want to see anyone criticize the work the ACI is doing on an "inside strategy" to the same degree that they apparently feel obliged to criticize those who are working on an "outside strategy." I can imagine the frustration that members of the ACI feel with those who are leaving existing Anglican structures while they are trying to save them. But I believe the ACI's efforts would win the support of a greater number of people if they spent more time telling us how they propose to save the ship and less time knocking holes in other people's lifeboats. It remains to be seen whether the ACI's strategy can be successful; and, if not, there may come a day when we are glad the lifeboats are there
Read it all here. Ephram Radner's original essay is here.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sunday Afternoon at the Cafe: Brand new arrangement of Gotta Serve Somebody

WED. UPDATE: Rolling Stone has reviewed the final New York City concert (his 100th concert of 2008) with an enthusiastic review, including this tidbit about the performance of Gotta Servie Somebody:

It was his 100th and final show of 2008, and he jump-started the eighteen-song set with “Gotta Serve Somebody,” delivered from the center of the stage accompanied only by his harp. It was the first time he played the song since February 5, 2002, and halfway through he started freestyling crazy new verses like:

Over and Out
Under and In
No matter where you are
No matter where you’ve been
You still gotta serve somebody.

We also learned that he picked up the guitar again that night and performed the lyrical and pensive Tomorrow Is A Long Time (first released on his Greatest Hits Vol. II though recorded at the renowned "Town Hall Concert") and the first time the song has been performed in New York since at least 1963. One wonders if memoir-writing Suze was in the audience?


Bob Dylan kicks off his final performance of his current tour with a rousing new version of Gotta Serve Somebody (hit track on his first Gospel album, Slow Train Comin') on Friday night in New York City. Almost went to the show but DC is one wild place right now and just can't get away. Dylan's not only got a new arrangement - he's back on the harp in a way he hasn't been in a quite a while.

"When was the last time he did a kind of call and response with himself on harp?" RWB asks. "I can’t remember anyhow." Well, neither can we - not like this. This is the question before our country right now - we gotta serve somebody. Who's it gonna be?

Thank you, thank you, thank you, RWB. Drinks are on the house today in your honor.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Bono on Dylan

BB NOTE: Yes, he can sing.

Bono, a terrific writer of prose himself, makes the case for Bob Dylan's major influence on American music - including his singing. It's not only what Dylan writes that matters, but how he masterfully dares to present, invent, remake, reinvent, and when that's all done, to start over again. And again.

The 100 Greatest Singers of All Time, published in the current issue of Rolling Stone, U2's Bono reflects on why Bob Dylan is one of masters, indeed coming in at #7 of Rolling Stone's Top 100.

Dylan did with singing what Brando did with acting. He busted through the artifice to get to the art. Both of them tore down the prissy rules laid down by the schoolmarms of their craft, broke through the fourth wall, got in the audience's face and said, "I dare you to think I'm kidding."

Bob Dylan did what very, very few singers ever do. He changed popular singing. And we have been living in a world shaped by Dylan's singing ever since. Almost no one sings like Elvis Presley anymore. Hundreds try to sing like Dylan. When Sam Cooke played Dylan for the young Bobby Womack, Womack said he didn't understand it. Cooke explained that from now on, it's not going to be about how pretty the voice is. It's going to be about believing that the voice is telling the truth.

To understand Bob Dylan's impact as a singer, you have to imagine a world without Tom Waits, Bruce Springsteen, Eddie Vedder, Kurt Cobain, Lucinda Williams or any other vocalist with a cracked voice, dirt-bowl yelp or bluesy street howl. It is a vast list, but so were the influences on Dylan, from the Talmudic chanting of Allen Ginsberg in "Howl" to the deadpan Woody Guthrie and Lefty Frizzell's murmur. There is certainly iron ore in there, and the bitter cold of Hibbing, Minnesota, blowing through that voice. It's like a knotted fist, and it allows Dylan to sing the most melancholy tunes and not succumb to sentimentality. What's interesting is that later, as he gets older, the fist opens up, to a vulnerability. I have heard him sing versions of "Idiot Wind" where he was definitely the idiot.

I first heard Bob Dylan's voice in the dark, when I was 13 years old, on my friend's record player. It was his greatest-hits album, the first one. The voice was at once modern, in all the things it was railing against, and very ancient. It felt strangely familiar to an Irishman. We thought America was full of superheroes, but it was a much humbler people in these songs — farmers, people who have had great injustices done to them. The really unusual thing about Bob Dylan was that, for a moment in the Sixties, he felt like the future. He was the Voice of a Generation, raised against the generation that came before. Then he became the voice of all the generations, the voices in the ground — these ghosts from the Thirties and the Dust Bowl, the romance of Gershwin and the music hall. For me, the pictures of him in his polka-dot shirt, the Afro and pointy shoes — that was a brief flash of lightning. His voice is usually put to the service of more ancient characters.

Here are some of the adjectives I have found myself using to describe that voice: howling, seducing, raging, indignant, jeering, imploring, begging, hectoring, confessing, keening, wailing, soothing, conversational, crooning. It is a voice like smoke, from cigar to incense, where it's full of wonder and worship. There is a voice for every Dylan you can meet, and the reason I'm never bored of Bob Dylan is because there are so many of them, all centered on the idea of pilgrimage. People forget that Bob Dylan had to warm up for Dr. King before he made his great "I have a dream" speech — the preacher preceded by the pilgrim. Dylan has tried out so many personas in his singing because it is the way he inhabits his subject matter. His closet won't close for all the shoes of the characters that walk through his stories.

I love that album Shot of Love. There's no production. You're in a room hearing him sing. And I like a lot of the songs that he worked on with Daniel Lanois — "Series of Dreams," "Most of the Time," "Dignity." That is the period where he moves me most. The voice becomes the words. There is no performing, just life — as Yeats says, when the dancer becomes the dance.

Dylan did with singing what Brando did with acting. He busted through the artifice to get to the art. Both of them tore down the prissy rules laid down by the schoolmarms of their craft, broke through the fourth wall, got in the audience's face and said, "I dare you to think I'm kidding."

Read it all here. Singer/Songwriter Bono is a member of the band U2, now working in the studio on their next album and collaborating with their longtime co-producer, Daniel Lanois, who also produced two of Bob Dylan's albums, Oh Mercy and Time Out of Mind.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Rumors Abound: Bishop Iker inhbited? Turn, turn, turn ...

Episcopal Schism Widens.

The House of Bishops/House of Deputies listserve is a-swirl that the Rt. Rev'd Jack Iker, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Ft. Worth, has been inhibited by Katharine Jefferts Schori. No announcement has yet come from The Penthouse (which apparently had to ring up the Usual Suspects first) nor has The Subject been informed either. Hate it when that happens. Of course, it could all be rumor and innuendo - but then beach-front property in Reno might be this year's safe bet, too.

UPDATE: Don't buy the beach house yet. See update below.

For some reason, upon hearing the news, the song below popped up on the memory playlist. We like the groovy arrangement. And the mod-hair - and Roger McGuinns' cool-bean shades. Bono was like, five years old when this thing went down. It's all, like, well, totally wow.

Nothing like listening to the Byrds while waiting for the PB's latest form letter. Wonder if she's gotten the autopen yet?

SATURDAY AM UPDATE: Well, here we are, the latest form letter from The Penthouse. Click here to open the letter to read.

The Byrds are back and spinning the tunes. Click play and then click here to open the letter.

Then take me disappearin' through the smoke rings of my mind,
Down the foggy ruins of time, far past the frozen leaves,
The haunted, frightened trees, out to the windy beach,
Far from the twisted reach of crazy sorrow.
Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free,
Silhouetted by the sea, circled by the circus sands,
With all memory and fate driven deep beneath the waves,
Let me forget about today until tomorrow.

-B. Dylan

LATER: Read the excellent post at Anglican Curmudgeon on why this political action of inhibiting and deposing opponents is spacey and pointless. No one has abandoned the communion, according to the canons.

In fact, the way Schori and her handlers are using the canons is the same way Schori's lawyers attempted to manipulate the Virginia 57-9 Statute. When they were before Judge Randy Bellows in court, they actually divided the statute into either two parts on one poster board or two poster boards. Then they may have put a sheet over one section of the statute or took one section out of view of the judge (I can't remember the mechanics exactly, except that only one section of the statute was in view) and then spent their time arguing their case with only a section of the statute showing, not the whole thing.

(NOTE: I've got some anons upset (and we love our anons here at the cafe) and I am trying hard to remember after six months the actual mechanics of how TEC separated the statute into two parts - it may have been one poster board with a part covered or two completely separate poster boards, I'll ask the lawyers and let you know - but it was clear that to make their argument they artificially separated the statute into two parts and then took one part out of central view of the judge - which of course, is the point).

After this went on for quite a while (and I was ready to jump out of my seat), the judge calmly and perhaps rather wryly told them that what they were saying was conflicting with the other part of the statute. When the TEC lawyers looked at him blankly, he told them to show the rest of the statute. He wanted them to read the statute in context.

Anglican Curmudgeon wants us to read the word "communion" in context - something Schori and her handlers do not want the laity - and the purse of the church - to know.

MAKE A NOTE: The three senior bishops remain Wimberly,, Lee, and Frade. Bishop Wimberly's coadjutor was consecrated today. Bishop Lee, who all ready has a coadjutor - may announce his retirement as soon as the next Diocesan Council in Jan-Feb (unless he wants to hold on through his announced appeal in the Virginia litigation). Bishop Frade seems intact for now. Waiting in the wings, Orris Walker has now called for a coadjutor and that process is underway. So, who's next on the list to rise as a Senior Bishop of The Episcopal Church?

None other than John W. Howe, former rector of Truro. We are sure that the folks at 815 are making nice with him, lest he upset their apple cart. But John Howe, like John McCain, is a maverick. Let's watch that space.

Friday Afternoon at the Cafe: Don't say I never warned ya if your train gets lost

One of the great song titles: It Takes a Lot to Laugh, it Takes a Train to Cry.

Now the wintertime is coming,
The windows are filled with frost.
I went to tell everybody,
But I could not get across.
Well, I wanna be your lover, baby,
I don't wanna be your boss.
Don't say I never warned you
If your train gets lost.

B. Dylan 1965

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Time to dust for fingerprints ...

"Reuters" has put out an "article" from its "religion writer" that has been published at the Washington Post website. In it there is used an incredibly offensive phrase. The article sails along after this offensive phrase as though nothing bad has occurred in the first paragraph, as though we are meant to gloss right over it and go straight on to the first quote by a well-known diocesan-level Anglican bishop. Do not stop at Go, and certainly don't think about juxtaposition.

The question must be asked - who fed that line to this reporter? Can a phrase like that just pop up on its own? Not in this day. Not six weeks before an historic inauguration that may draw four million people to the Nation's Capital. Nope.

Where did this phrase come from and why is it popping up now, when Judge Randy Bellows is expected to issue his final ruling perhaps within days regarding the property of the churches in Virginia who voted to separate? Perhaps even tomorrow as this article may be published in the print edition of newspapers all over the country.

even now, The Episcopal Church is gleefully announcing it intends to appeal the Judge Bellows ruling - even before he issues it. If TEC can't win on the merits of the law itself, perhaps it's time to cynically unleash political weapons instead and try to regain lost ground through a different kind of offensive, especially in contrast to this watershed moment in American history when that phrase should be put away forever.

So - how did that phrase come to be used in this article? Where did it come from? And how did it end up in this article? Time to dust for fingerprints, friends. We're not in Kansas anymore.

Long-time Episcopal/Anglican Communicators Jan Nunley and Jim Rosenthal leaving posts

In recent days we've learned that long-time communications personnel are departing their posts. Jan Nunley of The Episcopal News Service (ENS) for the Episcopal Church has all ready left her post at the 815 headquarters in New York and Jim Rosenthall of the Anglican Communion News Service (ACNS) with the Anglican Communion Office in London, was telling folks attending the recent Compass Rose Society that he's sadly leaving his post as well by Christmas.

Jan was missing from Lambeth with 815 sending the public relations staffer instead. And it was clear that Jim Rosenthal's role was greatly reduced at Lambeth - fueling speculation that times were about to change. Both appear to be leaving with sadness, though Jan is back online now with her own blog. It's clear that the winds have changed - and are changing - but which way are they blowing now?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Canadian Anglicans welcome new North American Province

Here's an update from the Synod of the Anglican Network in Canada that met November 13-15 in Ontario:

The Anglican Network in Canada inaugural synod, held 13-15 Nov 2008 in Burlington, Ontario, unanimously approved the following motions (among others):

· THAT this Synod endorses the Jerusalem Declaration as exemplifying the tenets of orthodoxy which underpin our Anglican identity.

· THAT this Synod instructs the Board of Directors of the Anglican Network in Canada to obtain membership in the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans for this Church.

· That this Synod expresses its gratitude to the GAFCON Primates for their support, encouragement, sacrificial labour and fellowship in the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

· That this Synod affirms the Jerusalem Declaration of the Global Anglican Future Conference and expresses its gratitude for the on going work of the Common Cause Partnership in the development of a North American Province and encourages the Moderator and the Board to work for the implementation of this Province at the earliest possible date.

Read more here, including the address by Dr. J.I. Packer.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tuesday Afternoon at the Cafe: I was young when I left home

Former Episcopalians will unveil proposed constitution for new 39th province in the Anglican Communion

From The Washington Times:

Leaders of 100,000 disaffected former Episcopalians will unveil a proposed constitution for a new 39th province of the Anglican Communion at a Dec. 3 ceremony at the evangelical Wheaton College in west Chicago.

The new province, which will contain significant portions of four breakaway Episcopal dioceses plus about two dozen churches in Northern Virginia, will be launched in early 2009.

"This is a huge step," said Anglican Bishop Martyn Minns, one of the leaders who will sign the constitution as the head of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America.

"The constitution will create a new Anglican church in North America that will have all the necessary features to be recognized as a province," said Robert Lundy, a spokesman for the American Anglican Council, one of the constitution's signatory groups. "Then it'll be out of our hands."

At least seven Anglican bishops - mainly Africans - are expected to recognize the new province immediately as having equal standing with the U.S. Episcopal Church, currently the only Anglican body in North America recognized by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.

But conservatives declared at a Global Anglican Future conference (GAFCON) in Jerusalem in June that the recognition of a new province may be irrelevant.

"We do not accept that Anglican identity is determined necessarily through recognition by the Archbishop of Canterbury," the conservatives' statement said.

Rumors of an umbrella group that will take in all former and disaffected Episcopalians - who have been leaving the denomination en masse since the consecration of the openly gay New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson in 2003 - have been circulating for months.

On Saturday at a church in Boston, Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan and Kenyan Bishop William Murdoch, both of them bishops with two Anglican provinces, announced the Dec. 3 meeting. Greeted by a standing ovation, it was the first definite public announcement of the formation of a new Anglican province.

Recognition by significant numbers of the world's 38 Anglican primates or archbishops could happen as early as February, when the primates will have their annual meeting in Alexandria, Egypt.

Read it all here.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Geek Alert: Yep, we have a new Star Trek Film Trailer up now too!

Toto, I don't think we're in Iowa anymore ... and it's about time.

Primates Hold Key to New Anglican Province’s Recognition

UPDATE: Greg Griffith at SF interviews Archbishop Mouneer Anis of Jerusalem and the Middle East (who will host the upcoming Primates Meeting in Egypt), Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi of Kenya, and Archbishop Justice Ofei Akrofi of West Africa - all members of the Primates Meeting. All three will recognize the new North American Anglican Province. Read the interview here.

From The Living Church

It is the primates, not the Archbishop of Canterbury, who are directly responsible for granting official status to a new Anglican Communion province. That responsibility is spelled out under section 3 of the constitution of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC).

The constitution explains that a new province may be admitted “with the assent of two-thirds of the primates of the Anglican Communion.”

Assuming that at least two-thirds of the primates of the Anglican Communion do consent to the formation of another province in North America when they meet in February, it is likely that the matter would come before the ACC when it meets in Jamaica next May.

The ACC was formed following a resolution of the 1968 Lambeth Conference,which discerned the need for more frequent and more representative contact among the churches than was possible through a once-a-decade Lambeth Conference of bishops. It first met in Limuru, Kenya, in 1971.

Section 2 of the ACC constitution describes the reasons for the ACC in more details. These include but are not limited to:

· “To facilitate the co-operative work of the member churches of the Anglican Communion.

· “To share information about developments in one or more provinces of the Anglican Communion with the other parts of the Communion and to serve as needed as an instrument of common action.

· “To advise on inter-Anglican, provincial, and diocesan relationships, including the division of provinces, the formation of new provinces and of regional councils, and the problems of extra-provincial dioceses.

· “To develop as far as possible agreed Anglican policies in the world mission of the Church and to encourage national and regional churches to engage together in developing and implementing such policies by sharing their resources of manpower, money, and experience to the best advantage of all.

· “To keep before national and regional churches the importance of the fullest possible Anglican collaboration with other Christian churches.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury alone decides which bishops will be invited to attend the Lambeth Conference.

Or, we might add, to his home. Not everyone gets that invitation, do they, especially after the bishop's original province announces his deposition. Hmmm ....

Lining up for U2: Don't forget to take a number - or else ...

BB NOTE: When I was in college and studying theatre in London during my junior year, I went to lunch at the old Lyon's Corner Coffeehouse on the Strand near Trafalgar Square. After lunch, I decided to pop by the Ladies Room before heading back out and of course, when I got there I found a long line coming out of the Ladies Room and down the hall. Still, I wasn't exactly sure the line was headed to the Ladies Room so I politely, or so I thought, asked the last woman in line if this was,indeed, the line to the Ladies Room.

The woman turned to me, her face pinched. "This is the queue," she informed me, not hiding the scorn in her voice. "The only one in line is the Prince of Wales."

That now being said, it appears that a particular population has become professional queuers, as it were. And who would have thought? Here we have a really fascinating article from the London Times on an extraordinary phenomenon for fans of our favorite band, U2.

Apparently, the Prince of Wales is not the only one in line after all.

For rock stars, they are famously disciplined and so it seems are their groupies. U2’s most committed fans form “selforganised queues” at concerts run by “line Nazis” that function almost identically from city to city, according to American researchers.

A study of almost 500 U2 fans queuing overnight for four concerts in Philadelphia and Atlanta discovered those seeking to gain entry to “the rail”, a sought-after area at the front of the concert, organise themselves in a remarkably systematic fashion without prompting from concert organisers.

The study’s authors, who have a background in anthropology and one of whom describes herself as a U2 fan, discovered that concert queues “are managed largely by fans themselves who organise a system in which the first fans in line keep a list with names and numbers assigned to people as they arrive”.

Venue staff support the system by telling newly arrived fans to get a number from the “line Nazi”, a fan at the top of the queue who invariably takes control at each event.

To test the strength of the system, researchers invented a series of scenarios in which people jumped the queue. Fans were then asked to fill in a questionnaire that assessed their reaction. The academics discovered that fans of the group, who had an average age of 30, got upset even when someone cut in behind them, not affecting their place in the queue. Hardcore fans were more incensed than more moderate devotees.

One of the authors, Marie Helweg-Larsen of Dickinson College, Pennsylvania, said: “Fans were annoyed even when the consequences did not directly influence them. The notion of ‘first-come first-served’ is deeply ingrained, but we noted that some believed there was a special code of honour among U2 fans. Cutting the line may have affronted this notion.”

Helweg-Larsen said some supporters of the Dublin band reacted indignantly to “line-cutters” because it was “un-U2- like”. “Bono wouldn’t like it,” one fan told the researchers.

Previous research has shown queuers see those behind them as “less fortunate”. “The queue is a social system, so perhaps a U2 fan’s sense of social justice may play a role,” she said.

But such concern for others may not be entirely altruistic. “Any threat to the established queue might create chaos to the whole system and threaten one’s own position,” she said. “The moral outrage may be linked to self-interest, especially among dedicated fans who have invested the most time and energy in queuing.”

The authors compared the behaviour of fans queuing for a U2 concert with studies analysing how football fans organise themselves while waiting to gain entry to a match.

“There were similarities,” Helweg-Larsen said. “But the motivation for not cutting the line at a soccer match was partly peer pressure and partly the threat of violent recrimination because of the age of the group and the likelihood that alcohol had been taken.”

The authors are “puzzled” by how “social norms” have emerged among queues for U2 gigs in different cities without rules or enforcement. “Some fans will follow the band from city to city, bringing the system with them, but it doesn’t explain how up to 300 people will fall into line,” she said.

Read the whole thing here.

Photos on this page all taken by BabyBlue at her last U2 concert during the Vertigo Tour in DC, where indeed, she was given a verbal number of where to stand in line by some unnamed but apparently well-respected person. It worked great, though! See photos.