RAMBLER OF THE WEEK
The person we acknowledge as our Rambler today has been one of our generation’s wilderness poets. This week Leonard Cohen died at age 82. Here is an excerpt from Larry Rohter’s remembrance in the New York Times:
Leonard Cohen, the Canadian poet and novelist who abandoned a promising literary career to become one of the foremost songwriters of the contemporary era, has died, according to an announcement Thursday night on his Facebook page. He was 82.
Mr. Cohen’s record label, Sony Music, confirmed the death. No details were available on the cause. Adam Cohen, his son and producer, said: “My father passed away peacefully at his home in Los Angeles with the knowledge that he had completed what he felt was one of his greatest records. He was writing up until his last moments with his unique brand of humor.”
Over a musical career that spanned nearly five decades, Mr. Cohen wrote songs that addressed — in spare language that could be both oblique and telling — themes of love and faith, despair and exaltation, solitude and connection, war and politics. More than 2,000 recordings of his songs have been made, initially by the folk-pop singers who were his first champions, like Judy Collins and Tim Hardin, and later by performers from across the spectrum of popular music, among them U2, Aretha Franklin, R.E.M., Jeff Buckley, Trisha Yearwood and Elton John.
…Mr. Cohen was an unlikely and reluctant pop star, if in fact he ever was one. He was 33 when his first record was released in 1967. He sang in an increasingly gravelly baritone. He played simple chords on acoustic guitar or a cheap keyboard. And he maintained a private, sometime ascetic image at odds with the Dionysian excesses associated with rock ’n’ roll.
At some points, he was anything but prolific. He struggled for years to write some of his most celebrated songs, and he recorded just 14 studio albums in his career. Only the first qualified as a gold record in the United States for sales of 500,000 copies. But Mr. Cohen’s sophisticated, magnificently succinct lyrics, with their meditations on love sacred and profane, were widely admired by other artists and gave him a reputation as, to use the phrase his record company concocted for an advertising campaign in the early 1970s, “the master of erotic despair.”
Rolling Stone has published a list of what they consider to be 20 of his most essential songs. Here is one of them. A fond farewell to our Rambler of the Week, the late Leonard Cohen.
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NEWS OF THE WEEK
This week Donald Trump became the 45th President of the United States, defeating Democrat Hillary Clinton to gain the White House.
Self-identified evangelicals overwhelmingly favored Mr. Trump, voting for him by 81%-16%.
- Here’s the reporting about that aspect of the election from The Washington Post and from Christianity Today.
- Surprise — Franklin Graham had an opinion about this: “Did God show up?” he wrote on Facebook. “In watching the news after the election, the secular media kept asking ‘How did this happen?’ ‘What went wrong?’ ‘How did we miss this?’ Some are in shock. Political pundits are stunned. Many thought the Trump/Pence ticket didn’t have a chance. None of them understand the God-factor.”
- Another surprise — so did evangelical leaders on the left, such as Jim Wallis, who said: “Donald Trump ran on racial bigotry and misogyny — not implicitly and covertly, but explicitly and overtly. In an America that is rapidly changing demographically and culturally, Donald Trump chose to run on white identity politics and to bring white nationalism back into the mainstream of American public life.”
- What happened during this campaign and election led Skye Jethani to write a farewell letter to evangelicalism:
To the label “Evangelical”:
There is so much to admire about you, your history, and the theology you represent. You mean “good news,” and came to identify a movement birthed by a commitment to the gospel, the euangelion, of Jesus Christ. Seventy years ago, those called “evangelicals” rejected the angry, condemning rhetoric of the fundamentalists, and they saw the error of theological liberalism that abandoned orthodoxy. They sought a third way that was culturally engaged and biblically faithful. I love that heritage.
But look at what you have become—little more than a political identity with a pinch of impotent cultural Christianity. You’ve become a category for pollsters rather than pastors, a word of exclusion rather than embrace. Yes, there are still godly, admirable leaders under your banner, but many are fleeing your camp to find a more Christ-honoring tribe. When more people associate you with a politics of hate than a gospel of love something is terribly wrong. I take no joy in saying it, but like Esau you have sold your birthright for a bowl of soup. You have exchanged the eternal riches of Christ to satisfy a carnal appetite for power.
In the past I willing accepted your name as my own. I even worked for your flagship magazine. More recently I have avoided you because of your political and cultural baggage, but I’ve not objected when others identified me with you because your heritage was worth retaining. That passive acceptance is over now. What was admirable about your name has been buried, crushed under the weight of 60 million votes. I am no less committed to Christ, his gospel, and his church, but I can no longer be called an evangelical. Farewell, evangelicalism.
- Mark Galli at CT hopes that the fissures this election revealed won’t lead to permanent divisions, but that evangelicals will seize the opportunity to do something exceptional: “…one wonders if the truly impressive witness would be a movement that, despite its serious political differences (as well as racial and ethnic divides), still worships and prays together, and warmly calls each other brothers and sisters in Christ.”
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AND IN OTHER ELECTION NEWS & NOTES…
Gary Ernst, incumbent treasurer in Oceanside, California, won reelection with 54% of the vote over attorney and community activist Nadine Scott. Only one problem: Ernst died September 23. Apparently, people really did not want Scott handling the city’s money.
Meanwhile, in New Hampshire, Republican State Rep. Marple had an interesting day.
Marple was sitting outside a polling place with his campaign signs on Election Day when a police officer recognized him. Marple had been charged with driving without a valid license in December 2014, and authorities had issued a bench warrant for his arrest after he failed to show up for a court hearing in October. When confronted by the officer, Marple drove himself to the police station and was arrested.
He was also re-elected to a fifth term.
Marple defended himself Friday, alleging that he is being targeted as a troublemaker because he strictly interprets the state constitution.
Is it real or is it Rhonda? This week Rhonda Crawford was expected to win election as a judge in Chicago. But there were, uh, problems.
The former law clerk was fired from her courthouse job and criminally charged for donning a black robe and presiding over traffic cases that should’ve been heard by a real judge. The Illinois Supreme Court temporarily suspended her law license. So now, even if she wins (and her name was the only one on the ballot), she won’t be allowed to serve unless she is cleared of the charges.
Crawford explained that she’d been shadowing judges, observing how they work, when a judge she knew “encouraged” her to put on the robe and preside.
And then there is Swedish photographer Gustav Hallen, for whom the U.S. presidential election turned into an opportunity to find a marriage partner.
Hearing that Americans might be moving out of the country if Donald Trump were elected, he posted an auction on eBay offering to marry one of them. Hallen, 30 years old, listed his auction with a starting price of $50,000 for “Swedish Citizenship including marriage. The listing read:
“US just become the land of the free to leave. Why not move to a better place? Like Sweden?”
“Open for all suggestions female, male and others. Likes long walks and Netflix and chill.”
By the way, this was my favorite cartoon for the election:
And finally, stooping (or is it squatting) to the lowest point of this election cycle, the Rambler has reported before on the Spanish traditional Christmas figurines known as “caganers” (or “poopers”).
Sorry we missed this year’s versions, which were hot sellers before the election.
He goes low, HRC goes high, you know.
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QUESTIONS OF THE WEEK
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THE WALLS OF WRIGLEY
For some reason, it seems like a long time ago now since the Cubs won the World Series. One of the most wonderful things that happened in the context of the Cubs’ historic season was the spontaneous display of human emotion and expression that took place at Wrigley Field. Fans took chalk and began writing on “the Wall” of the stadium — the outer brick wall of Wrigley that runs parallel to Waveland and Sheffield Avenues.
Fans wrote their names, and the names of loved ones, especially those Cubs fans in their families who didn’t live to see the day when the Cubs reigned as champions. They wrote messages of support and thanks to the team and its players. It was personal, it was familial, it was an expression of community, long-suffering and now rejoicing.
Unfortunately, the display will not be permanent. However, the Cubs organization announced that they would take photos so that the affections of Cubs fans will be forever available to view — “While we hate to remove these cherished messages, chalk is a fleeting medium. To preserve these images, we will continue to photograph the outfield bleacher walls so we may share these postseason wall messages publicly in the future.”
In another remarkable aspect to the Cubs story, it was estimated that 5 million people attended the victory parade and rally for the team last Friday.
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AN EXTREME WAY TO MAKE A POINT
As a moral and political statement ahead of the presidential election, Texas priest Rev. Frank Pavone, a Catholic priest who heads New York-based Priests for Life, took an aborted fetus, laid it upon an altar and posted a live video on Facebook. Pavone said the fetus was entrusted to him by a pathologist for burial.
He said his efforts were part of a 9-day effort to get voters to vote for pro-life Republicans.
“In the chapel were only me and the baby, whose funeral has already been held and who has been laid to rest,” he said. “No family were present, because they rejected the child and had him killed. His body would have been thrown in the garbage had we not accepted it.”
The Diocese of Amarillo, Pavone’s diocese, released a statement opposing the priest’s action: “The Diocese of Amarillo deeply regrets the offense and outrage caused by the video for the faithful and the community at large. The action and presentation of Father Pavone in this video is not consistent with the beliefs of the Catholic Church.”
They are investigating Pavone’s act, remarking that it was contrary to the dignity of human life and a desecration of the altar.
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Each year, British retailer John Lewis puts out a memorable Christmas ad that plays like a short story. The cinematography is always magnificent, and the emotional impact tangible.
Here’s the ad for this year. Enjoy!
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BEATITUDES FOR TODAY’S CHRIST-FOLLOWERS
- Blessed are those who remain faithful while enduring evils inflicted on them by others and forgive them from their heart.
- Blessed are those who look into the eyes of the abandoned and marginalised and show them their closeness.
- Blessed are those who see God in every person and strive to make others also discover him.
- Blessed are those who protect and care for our common home.
- Blessed are those who renounce their own comfort in order to help others.
- Blessed are those who pray and work for full communion between Christians.
Pope Francis, preaching at a Catholic Mass in Malmo, Sweden as part of his recent ecumenical pilgrimage, proclaimed that Jesus’ Beatitudes are the Christian’s “identity card.” The pontiff then suggested these six updated blessings for Christians in the situations we face today.
All those who enact the six items, said the pontiff, “are messengers of God’s mercy and tenderness, and surely they will receive from him their merited reward.”
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We’re going to miss Hillary Rodham Clinton, who came oh so close to gaining the White House this year as the first female president in the history of our republic. All of us here at Saturday Ramblings want to send her off with smiles today. Here is a compilation video of the great Kate McKinnon on SNL, whose Hillary impressions will forever endear HRC to us.
Okay, maybe that’s not quite the right verb…