Monday, May 28, 2012

Yep, I'm willing to be a jerk on Memorial Day

However, you'll see that I'm not really as brave as that sounds, because I'm publishing this here rather than at the more heavily trafficked W4. Comments moderation is also turned on here.

On this Memorial Day, I'm not willing to "remember our men and women in the military who have fallen." I'm willing to remember our men who have fallen, especially those who have fallen in just and justified wars (such as WWII). But today we're remembering warriors. And women shouldn't be warriors. If they are, they shouldn't be. Locutions like "our men and women in the military" signal an acceptance of women in the role of warrior, and I will not use them. It signals this even more when one is talking about women who have been killed, because getting killed is one of those things that are especially likely to happen in the military because, y'know, people are fighting.

I'm sure that during the days when men and women were strictly segregated in the armed forces and women had a much, much lesser and strictly ancillary role, there were women who got killed. Probably nurses, especially, were not all that far from the scene of action in many wars and were at some risk, and I'm sure some did get killed. Nonetheless, no one thought in the 1960's that if you remembered "our men in uniform" or "the men who have died for our freedom" you were "disrespecting" some nurse in a field hospital who got killed in WWI. This is because that "remembering" was related to men qua warriors, and no one expected us to talk as if women are also warriors.

Now, it is an unfortunate fact that our government, from the Carter administration on, has increasingly used women in warrior roles. This use was expanded in the Clinton administration, and GWB did not reverse those uses. To all intents and purposes, women are now serving in combat roles. I'm quite sure that someone will argue that to refuse to use the phrase "our men and women in the military" or "our men and women who have died" is to deny reality. But I disagree. Such phrases have more than one function. They do not simply function to acknowledge the present situation but also to fix it in place, to treat it as normal and even normative. They signal acceptance and a refusal to disapprove.

And I won't do that.

So today, I remember the men who have died for our freedom in great and necessary wars of the past.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Come Down O Love Divine

In honor of the Feast of Pentecost, here is the inimitable Fernando Ortega singing "Come Down O Love Divine":

Come Down, O Love Divine by Fernando Ortega on Grooveshark

This Pentecost would be a good time to invoke the aid of the Holy Ghost for the Church, on which a spirit of compromise has descended. May the true Spirit of God be poured out upon the Body of Christ and give us boldness and clarity of thought and speech.

Monday, May 21, 2012

"Be Still My Soul"

Here is "Be Still My Soul" to the immortal tune "Finlandia." Performed by a group named Vocal Point of which I had never heard until I began looking for good videos for this particular hymn.

Here are all the words, from the Cyberhymnal. As usual, this includes verses not usually used in hymnals.

Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future, as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below.

Be still, my soul: when dearest friends depart,
And all is darkened in the vale of tears,
Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe thy sorrow and thy fears.
Be still, my soul: thy Jesus can repay
From His own fullness all He takes away.

Be still, my soul: the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord.
When disappointment, grief and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past
All safe and bless├Ęd we shall meet at last.

Be still, my soul: begin the song of praise
On earth, believing, to Thy Lord on high;
Acknowledge Him in all thy words and ways,
So shall He view thee with a well pleased eye.
Be still, my soul: the Sun of life divine
Through passing clouds shall but more brightly shine.

The poem is obviously meditating on the loss of loved ones in death. I have been especially meditating on these lines: "Thy hope, thy confidence, let nothing shake. All now mysterious shall be bright at last." Even those of us who are not experiencing hardship and grief right at the moment have questions. Sometimes these questions become particularly insistent. Why does God allow this or that to happen? Why is it this way? Why do the innocent suffer so grievously at the hands of the evil, all over the world? Why does God allow doctrinal error to continue, even among sincere Christian believers who are doing their best to follow Him and His Word?

Depending on a host of purely human factors--emotions, immediate situation, what one is reading at the moment, even one's physical state--such questions can shake our confidence in God and even allow a "root of bitterness" to creep into our hearts. This hymn is like a direct word from our Father: "My child, you do not have to understand everything now. I do not answer all questions for all people at all times. Be still. All now mysterious shall be bright at last."

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Blessed Ascension

A blessed and glorious feast of the Ascension to all my readers, Catholic and Protestant alike. In fact, I have always said that the Feast of the Ascension is one of the most ecumenical of all the feasts in the liturgical year. Good low-church Protestants, such as Baptists, really know their Bibles and especially really know the book of Hebrews. Hebrews says that Jesus sat down at the right hand of God so many times that one can almost complete the line when it comes up again, like something in a routine--"and then he..." "I know," yells the audience, "He sat down."

But the point is completely serious: Jesus, our great High Priest, sacrificed himself for us on the cross, so that the sacrifices for sin in the Old Law are now complete and never need to be repeated. His work done, he was exalted on high and sat down. And now, at the throne of God, he intercedes for us.

The Apostle Paul was into the Ascension, when you come to think of it. I'm writing this post on the fly, so I'll let y'all look up the passages, which I'm also going to quote (mostly) from memory:

"Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name that is above every name..."

"When he ascended on high, he led captivity captive and gave gifts unto men...And he gave some apostles, some prophets...for the perfecting of the saints for the work of the ministry."

"It is Christ that died, yea rather that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us."

And the collect today recalls "Set your affections on things above, not on things on this earth."
Grant, we beseech thee, Almighty God, that like as we do believe thy only begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ to have ascended into the heavens; so we may also in heart and mind thither ascend, and with him continually dwell, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Booth Brothers music

The Booth Brothers are one of my very favorite Gospel music groups. They have a wonderful smooth sound, gentle humor, and genuine kindness. They're also very talented. The only thing is, it's been a little difficult to share their music on-line, because there are not all that many professional-grade videos of their music on Youtube. Most of them that are there are of them with the Gaither homecoming group. Here is a great one of them singing "Amazing Grace" with Russ Taff. Here is their video that goes with the song "Under God." (Note the allusions to Judge Moore in the latter.) Still, until recently I've been rather frustrated by the relative paucity of good-quality Booth Brothers recordings available on-line. So here are a few that are now available on Grooveshark. "While Ages Roll": This is a big fave of mine. It's classic, and they keep it moving. It took me a while to learn the melody for some reason, but now that I know it I love to sing it.

While Ages Roll by Booth Brothers on Grooveshark

"Just Beyond the River Jordan": If you don't generally like Gospel music but do like "roots" music, you might like this one. I can picture Alison Krauss recording it. It was written by Jim Brady (a member of the Booth Brothers) and his wife Melissa.

Just Beyond the River Jordan by Booth Brothers on Grooveshark

"New Shoes": Love the jazzy sound of this. It'll cheer you up on any down day.

New Shoes by The Booth Brothers on Grooveshark

"I Still Believe in the Church": If you like jazz and are Catholic and can bear the thought of a song with great jazz chords about the resilience of the church, listen to this. Sure, the Booth Brothers are Protestants and don't really mean the Catholic Church. But I think it can definitely be an ecumenical song.

I Still Believe In the Church by The Booth Brothers on Grooveshark

"Look for Me at Jesus' Feet": There are plenty of videos out there of the inimitable Michael Booth singing this one. It's so beautiful. This just happens to be my favorite recording of the ones I've heard thus far.

Look For Me at Jesus' Feet by The Booth Brothers on Grooveshark

Saturday, May 05, 2012

This is the face of "organized labor"

In case you were ever wondering, "Why does Lydia McGrew despise unions?" (a thought that I'm sure passes through your minds at least once a week), here's just one small example.