The IM Saturday Monks Brunch: September 12, 2020

Mourners hug beside the names of the deceased Jesus Sanchez and Marianne MacFarlane at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, Friday, Sept. 11, 2020, in New York. Americans commemorated 9/11 with tributes that have been altered by coronavirus precautions and woven into the presidential campaign. (Photo: John Minchillo, AP)

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The IM Saturday Monks Brunch: September 12, 2020

Update on the wildfires in the west…

From the NY Times:

Fires continued to rage in southern Oregon, where hundreds of homes have been razed, as well as east of Salem, where two bodies have been found, and along the state’s coast. More than 900,000 acres have burned, nearly double a typical season. Hundreds of thousands of people have been ordered to evacuate, including parts of the Portland suburbs, where fires were still on the move.

In California, firefighters continued to battle the blazes of a remarkable wildfire season, including the August Complex burning in the Mendocino National Forest that is now the largest fire in the state’s recorded history.

In Washington, hundreds of homes and other structures were at risk of wildfires that continued to burn, even as a deadly stretch of dry winds from the East began to ease. Hilary Franz, the state’s commissioner of public lands, said the state was searching for help from elsewhere in the country.

Perspectives from the Phoenix Preacher…

One of our blogging friends, Michael Newnham aka The Phoenix Preacher, lives in Phoenix, Oregon and has been posting on Facebook about his own difficult and challenging experiences with regard to the wildfires. Here is a picture of his community from this week of devastation:

Please keep Michael and his family in your prayers, along with the millions of other people affected by these fires and their aftermath.

Here are some wise words he posted on his blog this past week before having to flee his home.

1. If there is nothing distinctly Christian about how you approach politics, there’s probably nothing distinctly Christian about how you approach anything else…and your faith is basically fire insurance…

2. The doctrine of justification by faith alone has come to mean that intellectual assent to a set of propositions allows you to enter heaven after living like hell for a lifetime…I don’t blame the doctrine, I blame the models…

3. I laugh when people who can’t tolerate minor discomfort and inconvenience talk about persecution…I suspect the martyrs gag…

4. Some of the people struggling most during the pandemic are the “fixers”… remember that you’re only responsible to be faithful, not for outcomes…

5. The reason why Christians have no problem with the President’s character is the same reason they have no problem with abusive and corrupt clergy…

6. No matter who wins the election, we will be no more moral or holy as a church or a country…because elections are not how you gain in those graces…

7. No matter who wins the election, we will all lose…because we have been trained to be constantly angry without pursuing peace and how to hate without hope of reconciliation…not because of lofty ideals, but for ad dollars…you think you’re being informed, but you’re really being played…

8. I’ve tried to shrink my circle to avoid strife…soon, all my friends will have tails…

9. When there are so many things to worry about, I find myself worrying about nothing at all…if things are that overwhelming, they’re above my pay grade…

10. I refuse to feel guilty about enjoying “insignificant” things or occasionally ignoring “significant” things…the ability to prudently do both are gifts from God…

Update from Jeff Dunn:

Jeff’s wife continues to improve and will be going to rehab. The doctors are pleased with her progress. Jeff thanks all the iMonks out there for their continuing prayers and encouragement.

Police use chemical irritants and crowd control munitions to disperse protesters during a demonstration in Portland, Ore., Saturday, Sept. 5, 2020. Hundreds of people gathered for rallies and marches against police violence and racial injustice Saturday night in Portland, Oregon, as often violent nightly demonstrations that have happened for 100 days since George Floyd was killed showed no signs of ceasing. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

How I’ve felt lately…

Europe tries to help Moria migrants…

From the BBC:


Germany says 10 European countries have agreed to take 400 unaccompanied minors who fled Greece’s largest migrant camp when it was gutted by fire.

Most will go to Germany and France, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer told reporters on Friday.
Close to 13,000 people had been living in squalor in the Moria camp on Lesbos.

Families have been sleeping in fields and on roads after fleeing the blaze on Wednesday, as authorities struggle to find accommodation for them.

Near the ruins of Moria, residents of the island blocked roads to stop charities from delivering aid and said they were against the construction of new tents.

But the Greek military later used helicopters to reach the site and have begun setting up replacement accommodation.

After visiting the area, European Commission Vice-President Margaritis Schinas announced that the devastated camp would be replaced by a modern facility at the same location.

The Moria camp was initially designed to house 3,000 migrants. People from 70 countries had been sheltered there, most from Afghanistan.

So now, we have “worship protests”?…

From CT:

A battle of wills between a California musician known for a series of open-air Christian worship concerts around the country and the city of Seattle, which denied him a park venue for a Labor Day concert, ended with a two-hour “worship protest” being held one block north of the park.

A group of local pastors located an alternate site on a blocked-off portion of Meridian Avenue North only hours before the 6 p.m. concert was set to begin. They got permission to hold the rally with the proviso that it be called a “worship protest.”

Sean Feucht, 37, the rally organizer, laughed about the conflict with city officials while welcoming the crowd of 800 to 900 people.

“Welcome to Seattle’s largest worship protest,” he said at the beginning of a two-hour set. “Turn to each other and say, ‘Welcome to the protest.’ In this city, that makes it a legal gathering.”

Feucht had originally planned to hold a sunset concert at the picturesque 20-acre Gas Works Park on Seattle’s Lake Union. The concert was part of the #LetUsWorship movement, a series of protests against COVID-19 bans on singing and large group meetings in churches.

The musician held a similar event in August in the city’s CHOP (Capitol Hill Organized Protest) district, where the fact that few worshipers had worn masks raised eyebrows at Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s office.

The governor has allowed outdoor worship gatherings of up to 200 people as long as masks are worn even while singing, people stay 6 feet apart, and there are no choirs or musical performances involving more than two people.

Feucht’s concerts, which have drawn thousands of spectators and worshipers at 21 gatherings around the country, ignore all those guidelines. The events, a mix of Christian concert, healing service, guerrilla street theater and spectator mosh pit, feature the kind of public singing forbidden under many COVID-19 regulations.

“We want to come and bless this city,” Feucht told reporters before Monday’s concert. “We’ve not had one COVID case tracked back to our concerts. This is about blatant discrimination against Christians. They’re not doing this with other demonstrators.”

It was all, he said to the crowd minutes later, about the freedom to worship.

“Politicians can write press releases, they can make up threats, they can shut down parks, they can put up fences,” he said. “But they can’t stop the church of Christ from worshiping the one true God. We are here as citizens of America and of the kingdom of God and we will not be silenced.”

…“[We have] declared a new Jesus movement,” he said on a recent podcast with lifestyle supplement entrepreneur David Harris Jr. “We feel this call to target cities under extreme turmoil, despair and brokenness. That’s why we’ve gone into downtown Portland a block from the riots; we’ve gone into CHOP in Seattle. God’s really writing a different story there. There’s a lot of people wanting to experience God in these cities.”

On Friday, Feucht and his team will head on the road for 14 more rallies, starting in Fort Collins, Colorado, and followed by concerts in Colorado Springs, Minneapolis and, on September 16, Kenosha, Wisconsin, site of recent riots involving the police shooting of 29-year-old Jacob Blake, a black man. Feucht’s last rally will be on October 25 on the Mall in Washington, D.C.

R.I.P Lou Brock

From StL Today:

Hall of Famer Lou Brock, who died at age 81 at a local hospital Sunday afternoon after being in ill health, will be remembered for many accomplishments. He was the National League’s all-time leader in stolen bases with 938. He had 3,023 hits. He was a first-ballot electee into the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. He was the “Base Burglar,” who came to the Cardinals in 1964 via a trade in which the Cardinals ripped off the Chicago Cubs.

But he also was known as one of the toughest baseball players that his former teammates had ever seen and that was before he encountered diabetes which caused him to have his left leg amputated. Before he suffered multiple myeloma (bone marrow cancer), before he suffered a stroke, before he suffered a heart ailment.

None of those medical foes were able to vanquish Brock. Death was the first and only opponent to defeat him. “Isn’t that the truth?” said former Cardinals catcher Tim McCarver.

…On June 15, 1964, the Cardinals acquired Brock, a raw, 24-year-outfielder from the Chicago Cubs in a trade that cost them popular righthander Ernie Broglio, who had been a 18-game winner for them the prior season although he was 3-5 in 1964 and perhaps injured.

Immediately, the trade was not well received by the Cardinals’ players. “We thought it was the worst trade ever,” said Gibson at the time.

After all, Southern University product Brock had batted only .263, .258 and .251 in his 2½ years with the Cubs, albeit hitting some prodigious home runs.

But Brock, not counted on for power but as a table setter for the Cardinals, would hit .348 the rest of the 1964 season and steal 33 bases as the Cardinals rallied to win the National League pennant on the last day of the regular season and went on to beat the New York Yankees in a seven-game World Series to bring St. Louis its first World Series title since 1946.

Brock hit .300 in that World Series and then, showing he was at his best when the lights were brightest, batted .414 with seven stolen bases in the 1967 World Series, which the Cardinals won in seven games from Boston. He also hit .464 with seven more steals and a record 13 hits in the 1968 World Series loss against Detroit.

…From 1965, Brock began a stretch of 12 seasons where he averaged 65 steals and 99 runs scored a year, featuring his record-setting season in 1974 when he set the then major-league stolen-base record of 118 while finishing second in the voting for National League MVP.

…Brock’s No. 20 was retired by the Cardinals in 1979. He later became a businessman, a broadcaster, a special base running instructor, a minister and, finally a survivor.

Now, that’s a long song!

From CNN:

St. Burchardi Church Organ: Halberstadt, Germany

A musical composition designed to take well over 600 years to play has gone through its first chord change in seven years.

John Cage

Entitled “As Slow as Possible” (ASLSP), the composition by the late American composer John Cage is due to be played out over 639 years at the St. Burchardi church in Halberstadt in Germany.

Needless to say, no one will hear the piece in its entirety but the project has garnered quite a following, with many masked fans flocking to the church over the weekend to witness the event. For those unable to attend in person, there was a livestream.

The performance started in 2001 on an organ specially built for the super slow-paced recital. During that time, there was a pause that lasted for 18 months, while the most recent note change took place in 2013.

If all goes to plan, the performance will come to an end in 2640. Fans will have a relatively short wait for the next momentous occasion, however, as the next chord change is due in February 2022.

The really, really bad news you may not have heard…

From The Living Planet Report (World Wildlife Fund) 2020:

A polar bear stands on melting sea ice at sunset near Harbour Islands in Canada. (Paul Souders/WorldFoto / Getty Images)

The global Living Planet Index continues to decline. It shows an average 68% decrease in population sizes of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish between 1970 and 2016. A 94% decline in the LPI for the tropical subregions of the Americas is the largest fall observed in any part of the world.

Why does this matter?

It matters because biodiversity is fundamental to human life on Earth, and the evidence is unequivocal – it is being destroyed by us at a rate unprecedented in history. Since the industrial revolution, human activities have increasingly destroyed and degraded forests, grasslands, wetlands and other important ecosystems, threatening human well-being. Seventy-five per cent of the Earth’s ice-free land surface has already been significantly altered, most of the oceans are polluted, and more than 85% of the area of wetlands has been lost.

Species population trends are important because they are a measure of overall ecosystem health. Measuring biodiversity, the variety of all living things, is complex, and there is no single measure that can capture all of the changes in this web of life. Nevertheless, the vast majority of indicators show net declines over recent decades.

That’s because in the last 50 years our world has been transformed by an explosion in global trade, consumption and human population growth, as well as an enormous move towards urbanisation. Until 1970, humanity’s Ecological Footprint was smaller than the Earth’s rate of regeneration. To feed and fuel our 21st century lifestyles, we are overusing the Earth’s biocapacity by at least 56%.

These underlying trends are driving the unrelenting destruction of nature, with only a handful of countries retaining most of the last remaining wilderness areas. Our natural world is transforming more rapidly than ever before, and climate change is further accelerating the change.

Read an article about this report at CBS NEWS.

To be fair, something like this is true of any biblicist…

Mark Galli to be confirmed in Catholic Church…

Our friend Mark Galli will be confirmed in the Roman Catholic Church this Sunday. Here are some details from RNS:

CHICAGO — On Sunday (Sept. 13), Mark Galli will stand before Bishop Richard Pates in the Cathedral of St. Raymond Nonnatus in Joliet, Illinois, to hear these words:

“Francis, be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Pates will then dab Galli’s forehead with anointing oil (using a cotton ball instead of his thumb due to COVID-19). And with that, Galli — who has chosen his confirmation name after St. Francis of Assisi— will become a Roman Catholic.

…Galli’s late in life conversion has been gradual and carefully considered.

The first inkling came in 1994 when he served as editor of a magazine called Christian History and wrote a cover story on St. Francis of Assisi, whom he admired for his message of simplicity, poverty and submission to church authority even when he knew the church was not always right.

In the intervening years, Galli has slowly moved away from the evangelical mainstream. He started out a Presbyterian, then became an Episcopalian and an Anglican. For a time he attended an Orthodox church.

Two years ago when Galli expressed an interest in attending the course of study for Catholic converts called Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, his teacher John Ellison, himself a convert, knew Galli’s mind was made up.

…“I want to submit myself to something bigger than myself,” Galli said.

“One thing I like about both Orthodoxy and Catholicism is that you have to do these things, whether you like it or not, whether you’re in the mood or not, sometimes whether you believe or not. You just have to plow ahead. I want that. If it’s left up to me, I am one lazy son-of-a-bitch. I will not do anything unless someone comes along and says, ‘You need to do this. This is really important. This will shape your life. Come on, Galli. Get off your butt.’”

Mark Galli was born into a Catholic family, so this change is more of a reversion than a conversion. He entered the world of evangelicalism at age 13, when his mother had a spiritual awakening while watching a Billy Graham rally on TV. When Gail and I visited Mark and his wife several years ago, we attended their Anglican church with them. And now he has completed the circle, returning to the church tradition of his youth. We wish him Godspeed on his continuing journey.

Coming in October…

140 thoughts on “The IM Saturday Monks Brunch: September 12, 2020

  1. Well, it seems as if most of you folks have lost your minds on this site or are pagans. It’s got to be one or the other. I’m actually old enough to remember when Christian and Biblical issues were discussed here in a halfway pleasant manner. That being the case, please let me give you a Secular PSA:

    42% of Americans, including 82% of African-Americans, 64% of Hispanics, and a high percentage of Seniors, are Vitamin D deficient. I would recommend you take the following supplements daily to improve your immune system, and help protect you from covid: Vitamin C – 1,000 mg twice per day; Vitamin D – 2,000 to 4,000 iu daily; Zinc – 50 mg daily. Consult your doctors first, of course.
    I wish you ALL good health.
    P.S. Claiming to be a Christian because you read a creed is like calling yourself a lobster because you read a seafood menu. Turn off CNN, and open your Bibles. God must do something for us we cannot do for ourselves. It’s called “regeneration.” Google it!


  2. Interestingly there was a 3rd party expansion many years ago to the MB game Axis and Allies that starts the war in 1939. It also makes more historically accurate (it should be Axis and Allies and the Soviet Union). The German player it also is giving the option of whacking Hitler (one time per game) and he rolls the dice. One outcome was the hit is successful and German IP points increase permanently, other outcomes where hit failed and no effect, and hit fails and a number German military units are removed from the board (due the purges and retributions).


  3. He didn’t start out that way. His political plays prior to WWII were brilliant – he completely outmaneuvered Chamberlain and the French (Rhineland, Austria, Sudetenland), won Mussolini (who at the time was considered more powerful than Hitler) to his side, and flipped Russia to his side before the start of the war. The real problems started when all those successes got to his head, and he stopped listening to his generals…


  4. Believers in what? I happily recite and hold to the Nicene and Apostles Creeds, and acknowledge that Jesus is the Incarnation of God (and therefore His words and example ate the final standard by which all else is to be judged). *Anything* beyond that is up for negotiation.


  5. Hitler wasn’t competent at all. He started wars which he couldn’t win, (thankfully) hampered Germany’s war effort by trying to control everything himself, and wrecked his country. A corrupt and immoral chancer who knows what he is doing will at least make sure the country is wealthy so he has wealth to skim off, and ensure he delivers successfully “bread and circuses” to the masses to keep himself in power. He won’t wreck the economy for ideology or through incompetence, start hopeless, pointless and expensive wars or make crises worse than they need to be because he doesn’t know what he is doing or is so jealous for the limelight he won’t let someone who does know what they are doing get on with it and sort it out.


  6. Roger Stone is now calling on Trump to declare martial law if he loses the election. We know where this is headed; we’ve seen it play out in Iran and South and Central America under direction of our own CIA. Now it’s our turn.


  7. His good friend Roger Stone, who was pardoned by Trump, is calling for Trump to declare martial law if he loses the election. He says that ballots should be seized from Nevada on election night by federal marshals, due to corruption. You see where this is going, friends?


  8. They are very Evangelical, 5 songs, 40 min sermon, pastors with un tuck shirts and jeans with juice and crackers at every service. very low church ethos


  9. Allen, as one who was part of cofC-ism for 44 years…the cofc doesn’t consider itself “evangelical”, rather it sees itself as THE ONE TRUE CHURCH that predates evangelicalism by about 19 centuries. ;o)


  10. Which is why I’m terrified of Trump dying in office. President Pence is a whole order of magnitude worse, because he knows what he’s doing.


  11. Benjamin Britten.

    12-tone gets a bad rep as “plinky-plonky music”, but the choral entry in the middle of the Sanctus in War Requiem is one of the most potent hairs-up-on-the-back-of-the-neck moments in all music. If you want to imaagine the first Pentecost morning, this is as good a place to go as any.


  12. And we in California remember the times that Australian (and Canadian) firefighters have helped here. There is talk of some coming this time, but, I don’t know whether they’ve arrived (Covid-19 has caused problems). I do know some firefighters have come from New Jersey.

    Governor Newsom has also just signed a bill allowing former prisoners who have worked on the fire lines to petition the courts to allow their records to be expunged thus allowing them to take up fire fighting as a profession.


  13. The same might be said for L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology–except that I remember reading that Scientology originated in a bet between Hubbard and Isaac Asimov that Hubbard could start his own religion. It appears that Hubbard won. Much the same sorts of people got conned by it as those who bought into Anton LaVey’s mumbo-jumbo.


  14. Thanks, everybody, for prayers. We had visits from daughters #1 and #2 today and they’ve been texting with Heather. She was in Washington state today and was going to head out to the Eagle Cap Wilderness probably today. She did say to google it, that it’s lovely and like Switzerland. I did, and according to the photos it is, so I’m more envious than worried. At first she wanted to stay within driving distance of work, but the owner of the restaurant let her know they were closing, so she’s headed for somewhere beautiful and with fresh air. Incidentally, she just got a new van a few days ago, with hopes of starting an eco-tour (and fine wine-based) wilderness camping business, so we’re hoping she knows what she’s doing. Business-wise and safety-wise. We do have a few other friends in Portland though, and are praying for their safety.


  15. Dana – Yes.

    A lot of evangelicals think that Lutherans like me (ELCA) aren’t “real Christians,” partly b/c we are a liturgical church, ministers wear vestments, and communion is central to our worship.

    They never stop to notice that more of the Bible is read during our services (prose OT, reading, resonsorial Psalm, a selection from an epistle, than the Gospel reading) than they ever have in their own services.


  16. Also, i love found-object percussion. You don’t have to be gimmicky about it, onstage or in the recording studio. It can provide cerain sounds that can’t be produced with conventional instruments, and people all around the world use found objects in their own music. In Brazil, even certain kinds of frying pans (frigideiras) and small matchboxes are used in samba. Whatever sounds good and costs little or nothing, well, why not? Poor people are very innovative, because they have to be, and samba comes from poor people.

    Another aside: i once got to play a tree. The instrument builder who set things up had attached a set of long metal strings to it, tuned them, put contact mikes on the tree, and it had an absolutely amazing sound. The living tree was a resonator!


  17. Ah, our tastes diverge! Part, Reich and Glass are not my cuppa.

    But i guess, since i began looking for what a friend of mine used to call Other People’s Music, I’ve heard some of the source material that Cage, Reich and others drew on. I’d much rather listen to some of that music (it’s non-Western) than the Westerners who took it up, although for some composers (Stravinsky, Bartok) it was actually music from their home countries.

    And 19th-early 20th c. composers like Debussy didn’t imitate Indonesian gamelan music so much as take it in and let it reshape how they heard, the kinds of chords and intervals they used, etc.

    As an aside, i heard Japanese classical music and jazz folks like Thelonious Monk when i was growing up, so my ears got “tuned” a bit differently than most people’s. That’s not to say i have “better” ears and tastes, just different ones.

    As for soundscape-type stuff, agreed.

    I wrote about Harry Partch and his instruments toward the end of this thread. I somehow founds and bought a Partch LP when i was 10 or 11, and fell in love with the music and especially with his instruments.

    So yeah…. i have “odd” tastes. And very little formal training in Western music. The instruments i play are Middle Eastern and West African, and the system of learning is aural. It’s very hard to get these things down correctly in Western musical notation.

    Also, i have spent a fair amount of time listening to people like Egberto Gismonti and other Brazilians who are, imo, pretty outstanding composers and performers, but who are barely known outside of Brazil. Some of them write solely for nylon-string guitar, lime Sergio Assad, his brother Odair, Paulo Bellinatti and… i could keep adding names, but will stop now!


  18. Outdoor concert guy? Schmuck! Self absorbed. Reading his own press while grabbing headlines. Wait, was that judgemental ? I just can’t abide by this B^!l S*+ t.


  19. I am a fan of certain sorts of 20th and early 21st century art music. There are two trends I do not like: The “everything is music” school, which leads to crash and bang compositions; and “soundscape” music, which leads to pretentious elevator music (though it is good for going to sleep to, guaranteed not to hold my attention enough to keep me awake). The crash and bang school seems to have receded, but the soundscape school is prominent. What I like is compositions with a beginning, a middle, and an end, just like 19th century music, but which could not have been composed back then while not being crash and bang. A partial list of living composers I like, in no particular order: Dobrinka Tabakova, Caroline Shaw, Eric Whitacre, Steve Reich, and Philip Glass. I like Arvo Pärt very much, owning multiple CDs of his music. He borders on the soundscape precipice, but is so good as to avoid it. There are other composers who hang on the edge of that precipice: P?teris Vasks and Anna S. Þorvaldsdóttir have some works I adore, and others that put me to sleep. I could make a longer list, had I more time.


  20. Performance as worship has been part of evangelicalism for at least a couple of decades now. It is one of the major reasons evangelicals don’t have a good understanding of what real worship is and why the movement has such a paucity of it.

    Emotion whipped up by music and/or words on purpose is nowhere near the same as real worship, which in my experience happens both rarely and unexpectedly because God becomes present, and which is often accompanied by a sense of being completely overcome at the power and awe of God and falling on your face in silence because of it. At such times, one has no choice but to worship.


  21. One more name, pretty mainstream: Stravinsky.

    Also Bartok, although his pieces can be foreign to our ears – he incorporated many elements if Hungarian folk/traditional music into his work, and that’s the thing that throws many (most?) of us. I used to sell classical recordings, and found his solo instrumental works (for both piano and violin) to be a good point of entry.

    There really are a *lot* of good 20th-21st c. composers out there, but you won’t find them via classical music stations in the US. Things used to be different, but from the late 80s on, NPR stations that did classical programming started a process of “dumbing down” their playlists. The term was used a lot at the time; it’s not mine.

    Anyway, most surviving classical shows in the US have a kind of “Greatest Hits” playlist. Stations that gave air time to other kinds of works ended up cutting them, and some moved on to independent services that are licensed by NPR. It’s really a shame. Although now, with the internet, we can easily listen to classical broadcasts and recordings from radio stations all over the world, as well as being able to find “obscure” music on streaming services.


  22. Stephen – Yes. But a lot of Cage’s work is really good, imo. However, people don’t know about them, for the most part.

    There are many 20th c. composers worth hearing, though I’ll admit to being interested in, say, Lou Harrison, who had a gamelan (Indonesian tuned percussion orchestra), and who incorporated many “alternate” scales and tunings, plus non-Western instruments, into his pieces.

    His gamelan was called Son of Lion (all gamelans have names, afaik) and they recorded under that name, in addition to Harrison’s other work.

    I love a lot of Harry Partch’s work, too, but he’s *way* out there per his style and the many instruments he invented and/or adapted. One of the most intriguing is a set of bells/gongs called Cloud Chamber Bowls. He bought a lot of cloud chambers – which were used in research on nuclear fission and fusion – and carefully removed the lower parts of them. He was able to tune them by cutting at varying intervals on the cloud chambers. The instrument is played with mallets and has an otherworldly sound, on its own and in the ensemble pieces Partch wrote and conducted.


  23. Richard, i love his works for prepared piano and have heard at least one of them played live, by an onstage accompanist, for a piece by the New York City Ballet

    Like Debussy, Cage was drawn to the gamelan traditions of Java, Bali and other parts of Indonesia. I like what he did in incorporating it into his own work.

    As for 4’33” and sim8lar, these pieces are performance art, not music per se, although his intention per 4’33” – getting an audience to *hear* ambient sounds – is pretty interesting to me, in concept, at least. Very few of us know how to engage in what the late composer Pauline Oliveros called “deep listening.” So really, i can’t fault Cage for trying to get audiences tuned in to sounds that we would normally never call “music,” and learning to listen to and for the unexpected.

    He has many heirs and there are still some contemporaries out there, like Ellen Fullman and ger Long String Instrument. There used to be a thriving experimental music scene in both Seattle and Portland, and even though I’ve lost touch with some folks who were involved in performing new works, i suspect many are still active. (E6vind Kang, for one, although i never got to know him. I knew someone who played with him.)

    Also fwiw, i am a hand percussionist (amateur) who plays non-Western instruments, so some of Cage’s work is, to me, quite beautiful.


  24. Anton LaVey was a Con Man who ended up believing his own con.

    And three groups swallowed everything he said and taught at complete face value:
    * Rich & Famous CELEBRITIES with more money than sense (his target demographic).
    * Beavis & Butthead wanna-bes who wanted to show how DARK and EDGY they were.
    * Born Again Bible-Believing Christians who went into full Satanic Panic mode.


  25. My good friends who live in Charleston, SC keep sending me pictures of their beautiful grandchildren all of whom are two years old or less. I can’t help but imagine what this world will be like when they’re my age. While we’re detailing the faults of our ancestors and holding them to account maybe we should pause just for a second and imagine how our descendants will think of us!

    We knew what was happening and when it could have still made a difference we twiddled our thumbs and did NOTHING.


  26. I would not judge 20th century art music simply by Cage. Investigate the work of the Hungarian Gyorgy Ligeti, who wrote some powerful and beautiful choral music, and the French Roman Catholic mystic Olivier Messiaen who wrote some amazing organ pieces.

    Then there’s Erik Satie, Alexander Knaifel, Arvo Pärt , Toru Takemitsu, Giacomo Scelsi…

    It’s out there folks if you’re seriously looking.


  27. Well, I was 12 years old then, so it wasn’t really on my radar screen, especially living in a rather isolated small town.



  28. And Anton LaVey’s “Church of Satan” was Ayn Rand with ritualistic mumbo jumbo. Seriously – google “LaVey Rand”.


  29. Everyone cites the Spanish Flu as the last epidemic and forget the one we had in 1968-69 in which 100,000 Americans died…No one batted an eye and Woodstock congregated half a million.


  30. “I think it’s time for a re-evaluation, especially considering the less than even-handed way some of those restrictions are being applied.”

    Sure. Let’s apply the restrictions across the board, and tax the wealthy and corporations to keep folks from starving while we wait for a vaccine. Because the virus is out there, it’s not going away, and it’s utter moral bankruptcy to insist people should die to get the economy back on track.


  31. “we’re not doing anything differently as a country than they did, even with having more technology to scientifically track and study COVID-19.”

    We could, but we’re not. More’s the pity.


  32. Same people would be upset with his turn to Anglicanism, too, even though it’s Protestant. Much too close to “popery”.



  33. My husband is working in the Incident Command Post for the August Complex (all of the contributing fires caused by lightening, in case anyone has the chance to quash rumors). He’s not far away, in a town just on the other side of the Mendocino Nat’l Forest at the edge of California’s Central Valley. He called me the other day and said that there are pretty much no crews available to rotate in, in order to spell the ones who have been working so they can take their mandatory rest days. Everyone else is busy fighting their own local fires, or helping at other incidents. This means everyone will go on working (including folks in the “office” like him, and other support personnel as well), and that means there are going to be lots of fatigued firefighters, with potential for more mistakes and accidents. And it’s like this in other states as well. Do please keep praying.



  34. You have a point. I think there is a large defiance streak generally in American culture; it expresses itself one way with Feucht and sympathizers, and another way with CHOP and the like. From all I read about the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, we’re not doing anything differently as a country than they did, even with having more technology to scientifically track and study COVID-19.



  35. Thanks for the “Dream” link, Richard. I listened, and I liked it. I even heard a real compositional pattern in it. I could also go to sleep listening to it – not a jab, just an observation – I often intentionally go to sleep listening to music.

    Yeah, your and Robert’s observations make sense.



  36. At this point, I’m reduced to hoping that the “nuclear football” that is carried wherever Trump goes is actually a fake, and does nothing but alert the Joint Chiefs of Staff that somebody needs to get to Trump and stop him, somehow.


  37. I’ll have to respectfully disagree with the characterization of Sean Feucht’s actions as “American Christian defiance culture.” Like him or not, I think Feucht has a valid point. Something is indeed wrong when governors and local officials impose draconian restrictions on worship services, yet some of them willingly look the other way regarding BLM/Antifa protests and riots.

    As someone who is over 60, has a few health issues and also works in the healthcare field, I take this virus seriously. I haven’t attended an in-person worship service since early March. However, we’re six months out from the imposition of these restrictions and there has been a significant cost both to our freedoms and to the economy. I think it’s time for a re-evaluation, especially considering the less than even-handed way some of those restrictions are being applied.


  38. I hope we can begin to remedy that in 2021. Everybody eligible, please vote in the next election, as early as possible, to make as sure as you can that your vote will count.


  39. So it would seem to me. Competence with a lack of moral character can be outstandingly dangerous. Look at Vladimir Putin.


  40. > Am I the only one here who would really like to see Sean Feucht arrested for
    > his “protest concert” that is a whole lot more concert than protest?

    Nah. I would ‘vote’ for ignoring him. You cannot do ANYTHING with a crazy-person-with-an-audience that will not merely legitimate them. Resources are limited, spend them elsewhere.

    > every one of these events has the potential for being a “super-spreader.”

    Yep. Being an American is a perilous business.

    > I doubt Feucht’s statement that “We’ve not had one COVID case tracked back to our concerts

    Yeah, that’s crap. When you ensure there is no data, then there can be no conclusions.


  41. I was going to write +10, but that number’s not nearly high enough. I hope your daughter and her housemates are safe throughout the fires, and that they can return to a home that is undamaged. Please let us know how she’s doing when you can, Ted.


  42. Am I the only one here who would really like to see Sean Feucht arrested for his “protest concert” that is a whole lot more concert than protest? If gatherings are (as they should be) prohibited, then they should not be happening. Are members of the audience masked? I really can’t tell. If they’re not, every one of these events has the potential for being a “super-spreader.” Since our ability to contact-trace is pretty pathetic, I doubt Feucht’s statement that “We’ve not had one COVID case tracked back to our concerts.” The regulations they’re ignoring aren’t about oppression the right of Christians to worship, despite the defiance of Feucht, MacArthur, and others. They’re a bout trying to stop the spread of COvID-19. Feucht is not helping anybody.


  43. So if we have have an very immoral person who is very competent, they can implement very bad policies.

    Hitler was very competent and implemented evil polices.

    We start with character first then we look at both policy and competence.


  44. It’s also a danger of conversion, in almost any direction. But, with regard to Cage, even the realized danger was pretty innocuous. So we got some uninteresting music, so what; but conversion to something like QAnon, there is real social danger there, right up to and including violence. QAnon devotees over the last couple of days have been flooding social media with the idea, completely unsubstantiated, that the fires around Portland have been set by members of Antifa; in fact, apparently Q him/herself sent our communications to that effect. This kind of lie, told often and loudly enough, and possibly amplified by a president who loves this kind of thing, is extremely dangerous.


  45. “He will tell you that Christianity and Buddhism are at heart one and the same — especially Buddhism.”
    — G.K.Chesterton (from memory)


  46. “It is as if someone said to an Evangelical: “You could not have less intellectual credibility”, and the Evangelical responds…”
    ..with ISAIAH 55:8-9(!)


  47. To have a person of high moral character even though we have profoundly disagree with their policies or to have a person of questionable moral character even if we agree with their policies?

    Or to have a person of NO moral character who will give us What We Want?
    (Overturn Roe v Wade, Prayer Back in Schools, enforce “Merry CHRISTMAS!” instead of “Happy Holidays”, bring Law And Order By Any Means Necessary…)

    In Black Magick, it’s the Dark Powers who have the reputation for Getting Things Done.


  48. I’ve been told of encounters with “Devout Christians” who were giddy with glee about how COVID would exterminate all Those Libruls in the Blue States.

    Like “Christians for Nuclear War” back in the Age of Hal Lindsay.


  49. It is a rather common mistake, and it couples well the old canard that “it is foreign and mysterious, and therefore better”, which is the equal and opposite error to jingoistic religion.


  50. Now everybody who has eyes to see can see it.

    EXCEPT the Christians, who only see it as PROOF of their RIGHTeousness.


  51. Of course, we do use them, as a deterrent. Their main purpose is to effect deterrence via terror. of mutually assured destruction. But Trump wants to take it a step further, using them against states without a nuclear deterrent. Hopefully somebody was able to make it easy enough for him to understand, and retain, that even use against a non-nuke equipped country could easily draw in other nuclear powers and create a nuclear apocalypse; but if they don’t keep reminding him, the world is in terrible danger.


  52. Trump is orders of magnitude worse – and Evangelicals stop their ears and shout down any consideration of that truth.

    In Evangelicals’ own words (concerning everybody else, NEVER themselves):
    (followed by Righteous tongue-cluck and “Tsk. Tsk.”)


  53. And underlying the rights talk is the thinly veiled Social Darwinist logic, “If you get sick and die, it’s your own fault, for being obese or not staying indoors or being poor or developing diabetes or etc., etc.” It’s no wonder that Ayn Rand is a favorite philosopher among the pseudo-intellectuals of American Christianity.


  54. Now, however, going to a concert seems to be understood as an act of worship.

    And the more kick-ass the concert, the more worshipful it is.

    In the words of the prophets Emerson Lake & Palmer:
    — Karn Evil Nine
    (second half of “First Impression, Part 1” plus entire “First Impression, Part 2”)


  55. 5. The reason why Christians have no problem with the President’s character is the same reason they have no problem with abusive and corrupt clergy…

    Wondering Eagle & I have been thinking the same thing, but with a flip.

    “If you liked Mark Driscoll, you’ll LOVE Donald Trump.”

    Our working hypothesis is that “abusive and corrupt clergy” — i.e. MenaGAWD(TM) — have “groomed” Christians (especially the Mega and Culture War sets) to see this abusiveness and corruption as God’s Hand/Favor/Anointing, if not the Holy Spirit Him/Herself Like that passage in I, Claudius where Caligula’s barbarian bodyguard viewed Caligula’s behavior as “Yes, he is a God; that is What GODS Are Like”.

    And when some Celebrity comes along (like in 2016) acting more like their Beloved Anointed ManaGAWD than the Beloved Anointed ManaGAWD (and righting every Wrong to boot), well, then, he Must Be MORE Anointed and Godly. Even to the point of “My LORD and Savior!!!!!”


  56. The co-worker could have “Caught the Golden BB” like HMS Hood. The one-in-a-million chance that hits anyway, in the exact spot where it can do the most damage.

    I speak from experience. During my heavy D&D days, I was the “Dice Implosion” of my gaming group; if there was only a one-in-a-million chance of blowing my saving throw vs disaster, I’d blow it.


  57. “We have all these nukes. Why can’t we use them?”
    — Donald J Trump

    (And the Christians will chorus “AAAAA-MENNN! LOOK UP, FOR THE RAPTURE DRAWETH NIGH!!!”)


  58. Why stop at four?

    “President for LIfe… We really need to try that here.”
    — Donald J Trump

    (And the Christians will chorus “AAAAA-MENNN! AND HIS KINGDOM SHALL HAVE NO END!!!”)


  59. @Allen, Is it possible to be sure that your co-worker and his family got if from the asymptomatic person on the other side of the auditorium, and not from someone nearer by who also was asymptomatic, but never developed any serious symptoms and so was never tested?


  60. Our endless and exponentially growing need for cheap energy to fuel our projects both here and in space is at the center of our problem, and our cataclysmic threat to all other living beings on this planet.


  61. Like many Westerners deeply influenced by Zen Buddhism, Cage took its philosophical premises too far in a woodenly literal way, as a matter of intellect rather than in the fullness of life. And intellectuals, like Cage, looking for escape from the straitjacket of Western esthetic and philosophical canons are especially prone to this mistake.


  62. #sarcasm
    Don’t you know God cares more that we worship Him (in the exact same way we always have) than whether we (or others) live or die?


  63. I would say for political leaders competence is more important than policies OR character. Both here in the UK and in the US, there is a decided lack of this, too.


  64. The United States spend $35.4 **BILLION** dollars LAST YEAR maintaining that nuclear arsenal.

    AND just approved a $22 **BILLION** dollar contract to “modernize” that arsenal.

    Because, you know…. priorities.


  65. > ‘evangelical’ not now a ‘respectable’ cover for ‘trumpism’?

    One and the same: Fundamentalist == Evangelical == Trumpism

    > can they recover some of their pre-trump integrity?

    The question in the room is if they even need to. Our blithering Founding Fathers drafted a system very well suited to their idiotic preferences.


  66. > they don’t want the federal government to spend a lot of money to help.

    Yep, they don’t want our federal government to spend money to help the ~5th largest economy in the world [California] which is a part of our federation – – – and has been paying for their nonsense projects [interstates, etc…] which are the only reason they have any economy to speak of in 2020.

    Entire states of “[white male] Welfare Queens” cheering as one of their largest benefactors burns.


  67. In my part of the country, the dominant string of fundamentalist evangelism is Church of Christ. Part of their belief system is that since the early church didn’t have instruments in worship, they do not have instruments. Instead, they have a beautiful acapella congregational singing as part of their liturgy.

    Through COVID, they have been passionate about meeting and continuing their acapella singing. A co-worker has been regularly going to church, and someone on the other side of the auditorium had pre-sympotmatic COVID. They weren’t even close to him or his family. His entire family picked it up. Amazingly, I am not sure why, but myself and my co-workers did not pick it up before he self quarantined at home.

    My Dad is immune compromised due to a bone marrow problem. I am constantly worried I may inadvertently take it to him.

    This is why I am so aggravated with those who want to exercise their rights to congregational worship and music, it has the potential to impact and kill those who have no connection to them.


  68. I don’t know. I read an article recently on the immense improbability of devising a way of being able to carry enough fuel with you to get to your spaceship to the nearest stars, and even if you have some kind of workable nuclear reactor engines, they too would need tremendous amounts of fissionable fuel. Fermi’s Paradox may be the result of it being impossible to get from one star to another, due to fuel demands of such a journey, even if the star systems were teeming with planets inhabited by “intelligent” life.


  69. “No one confuses the two experiences. Or if they do, it would be to attend a church service not to worship, but merely to enjoy the music.”

    I think you answered yourself in your second paragraph. No, people should not confuse them. But we do. Regularly and repeatedly.


  70. It’s not that so much as our being a major producer of CO2, our central role in the world economy, and the fact that we have several odd thousands of nuclear weapons.


  71. I think Robert is correct – their pre-Trump integrity wasn’t much to begin with. When tested, it failed. And it will be a long time + if ever – before what goodwill they had amassed beforehand can be rebuilt.


  72. I am intrigued by the concept of a “worship concert.” We classical music types understand the difference between worship and concerts. The music does not make it worship. I might enjoy a Bach cantata in either context: a church service or a concert. No one confuses the two experiences. Or if they do, it would be to attend a church service not to worship, but merely to enjoy the music. Going to a concert hall and imagining that this was worship would be just odd.

    Now, however, going to a concert seems to be understood as an act of worship. One of the Protestant critiques of Catholic practice was that the laity was essentially passive. They were expected to go to mass regularly, but not to actually do anything once they were there. We seem to have come back around to this.


  73. Well, at least we haven’t been able to export much of our dysfunction into the rest of the universe. If the argument from design holds no water anywhere else, maybe it does in the idea that God made things such that human beings will never be able, on the bases of their own ingenuity and creativity, to get far beyond this planet, and thus never be able to ruin the stars and everything else.


  74. Cage was a talented, even brilliant composer who took good ideas and ran with them to the point that they were bad ideas, and then kept going from there. He is hardly alone in this. “Took a good idea and ran it into the ground” is a decent summary of much of 20th century thought.

    Listen to much of Cage’s early work and it is often quite lovely, in a spare way. Here is an example, “Dream” from 1948 for piano: It may or may not be to your taste, but it clearly is “real” music, and not at all gimmicky. For those familiar with present-day classical compositions, the influence of this sort of Cage’s music is immediately obvious. The good idea that Cage too far too far was the general trend in 20th century art music to expand the musical vocabulary.

    Eartly 20th century atonality was all about expanding the harmonic vocabulary, and while it failed in its own terms–performing this stuff is a very narrow niche interest, beloved of music students and few others–it did influence more mainstream music to accept what would previously have been considered mere noise. Gustav Holst, for example, was influenced by Arnold Schoenberg, the difference being that Holst is routinely performed and enjoyed. Pull up Schoenberg’s “Five Pieces for Orchestra” and you can hear how it influenced “The Planets.”

    Another direction this idea of expanding the vocabulary went was in instrumentation. What sorts of sounds count as music? This too can be a good idea. Consider the taxi horns in Gershwin’s “An American in Paris.” This is the idea that Cage took far too far. Rather than integrating expanded sounds into otherwise conventional music, he concluded that all those sounds–indeed, any sounds at all–*are* music. Here is an interesting clip of him performing “Water Walk” on the popular panel show “I’ve Got a Secret.” The audience doesn’t know what to make of it. Is this comedy? He was not walking this path alone. Here is Frank Zappa on The Steve Allen Show in 1963, Zappa teaching Allen to play the bicycle. Allen, by the way, was a talented musician in his own right, and well educated. I strongly suspect Allen understand where Zappa was coming from. But how can you possibly play this as anything other than comedy? After all, Spike Jones had been doing something similar for years, and with better comedic timing.

    This leads us to 4’33”, Cage’s most notorious work. He was playing with the interplay of form and content. It has three movements, each strictly timed. Then we get to “As Slow as Possible.” This too is an exploration of form. You can find actual performances, such as this one: The specially constructed organ is intended to take the idea as far as possible. It also, in my opinion, shows why the idea isn’t actually a good one, at least as an act of music.

    The problem is that once you reach the conclusions of 4’33” and “As Slow as Possible,” everyone becomes irrelevant. If everything is music, what need have we for composers and performers? I can sit wherever I happen to be at the moment and have, I am assured, an equally valid musical experience. And if a performance can last beyond a human lifetime, the listener turns out to be equally irrelevant. While all along, these conclusions run counter to our lived experiences. We may disagree on the precise boundary between music and not-music, but no one really believes there is no boundary. Even the most enthusiastic avant garde audiences attend recitals and have favorite composers.

    Cage is worth studying for many reasons. What his advocates gloss over is that one of these is as a cautionary tale.


  75. but doncha know Trump has made America great again?

    four more years OF THIS ‘greatness’ may be right ‘comin at ya


  76. is ‘evangelical’ not now a ‘respectable’ cover for ‘trumpism’?

    how will trumpist-evangelicals fair as a faith community after Nov. 3rd, one way OR the other

    can they recover some of their pre-trump integrity?


  77. According to Michael Cohen, Trump had dirt on Jerry Jr. and blackmailed Jr into endorsing Trump for POTUS. I don’t know if I believe Cohen, but the story would be consistent with the moral character of both Trump and Falwell.

    For right wing “Christians” power trumps the Gospel.


  78. The “character counts” rhetoric was just a strategy to win politically, not a principle they adhered to in good times and bad, without regard to success or failure. Now everybody who has eyes to see can see it.


  79. It sounds terrible for her. I know you must be worried. Ted, let us know how she does. Will pray for her, yes.


  80. It may be to believe, or maybe it isn’t at this point, but as long as the fires are limited to the coasts, and especially to places like California where lots of “Libruls” live, there are many Trumpites who couldn’t care less, except that they don’t want the federal government to spend a lot of money to help.


  81. I was thinking: when wildfires begin to plague the god-fearing true Americans of the Midwest [the American Tzadikim Nistarim[*1]] then people may begin to think about doing something.

    [*1] except we all know exactly who they are. It takes 14 Californian souls to match the value of 1 Kansas soul; the sacred and always wise Constitution Of The United States says so.


  82. RE: prophecy class cancellation – reminds me of the old joke about a skeptic who telephoned a famous psychic.

    Skeptic – “Hello! Do you know who I am?”

    Psychic – “No…”

    Skeptic – “Case closed!” *Hangs up*


  83. We are doomed, as a civilization we are incapable of doing anything at scale.
    Yet, at least, we have solved the “will the world end in fire or ice?” question.

    And we’ve ruled out the ending-in-a-whimper hypothesis. It will end with a Praise-n-Worship chorus. Or that will be the human sound. All the other creatures will be struggling to breathe, and therefore silent.


  84. I don’t know Galli very well, but I wish him the best. It’s hard for me to understand how anyone could have the temerity to criticize such a personal decision, but from your comment I gather that many have.

    And I’m also to happy to hear the good news about Jeff and his wife.


  85. The U.S. as a political and social entity is now in the rear-view mirror of the world and its problems — or maybe it’s more accurate to say being dragged along behind the world and its problems, like dead weight.


  86. RE: the Living Planet report – yep. My older news feeds are still intact, and I downloaded this when it was released. Despite Trump and coronavirus hogging most of the news media bandwidth, all the other problems in the world – Brexit, climate change, Yemen, ecological decay, debt – are still there. And like all systemic problems, they are not likely to take a number and wait patiently in line for us to get around to paying attention to them.


  87. What a great set of articles today! And so lovely to see Mark Galli’s news received with some kindness & joy.

    Jeff I’m so glad your wife continues to recover & will keep praying for her, & Ted that sounds terrifying.

    The interpretive sunglasses made me laugh out loud. Normally I’d expect some pushback from Seneca, but will have to just live without that for now.


  88. What really drove the nail in my Evangelical coffin was the rank hypocrisy of their “character counts” rhetoric. I’m old enough to remember how character counted SO MUCH when it was Bill Clinton on the receiving end of the criticisms. I wholeheartedly agreed with those criticisms then, and still think Clinton was wrong in what he did. But if Clinton was wrong, Trump is orders of magnitude worse – and Evangelicals stop their ears and shout down any consideration of that truth.


  89. At some point, we should cease pretending that it’s still Christianity, and call it what it is – Americianity.


  90. This week we learned more about what Trump knew about COVID-19 and why he didn’t act based on the recordings of his interviews with Bob Woodward.

    Which is more important for an American President: To have a person of high moral character even though we have profoundly disagree with their policies or to have a person of questionable moral character even if we agree with their policies?

    Personally, I am opposed to Trump’s policies and to his character and I disagree with many of Biden’s policies but I know that he is a man of good character.

    In the past, the Republican Party claimed that character matters and now they are only concerned with Biden’s character.


  91. +1

    It is as if someone said to an Evangelical: “You could not have less intellectual credibility”, and the Evangelical responds: “Oh, yeah! Hold my beer, watch this.”


  92. My youngest daughter Heather lives in Portland OR and evacuated yesterday afternoon, ahead of any mandate. She was headed for the Washington coast and plans to rendezvous with housemates in the Eagle Cap Wilderness in the eastern part of the state today. She has her dog Cooper and her kayak so she’ll make the best of it. Yesterday she said she couldn’t see the sun in Portland even though it was a cloudless day, and it was hard to breathe there.


  93. the California wild fires remind us of the terrible fires that took place in Australia, also a result of climate change (global warming)

    and the gov. of Cali is right to remind us that as California goes now, so in the next ten years will go the nation as the trends move from west to east

    the drought is already bad in the west and is affecting the growth of food

    we let the habitats of the animals die, and now we cannot stop the destruction to save ourselves it seems . . .



  94. “worship protests” = American Christian defiance culture. I know, I know: “But whatabout the BLM and Antifa protests!!” Thus is American Christianity reduced to “Whatabout!!”


  95. Cage’s compositions are interesting ideas. I’ve never heard one, but from everything I’ve read, he went out of his way to reduce the difference between hearing his music and not hearing it to practically nothing, so that never having heard any of his composition I’ve heard every one in them in their entirety, including “As Slow as Possible” (which is not actually as slow as possible, but that is just Cage’s little joke).


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