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Sunday surprise, what can happen to music

Monday, May 13th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — Aretha to rabbinic wisdom via N’Orleans — five versions of the one great song — with a Mother’s Day greeting to all Marthas and all Marys ]
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Consider this song as sung by the awesome Aretha Franklin:

Here’s the story of Mary and Martha, as John’s Gospel tells it [John 40: 38-42]:

Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

You might say that Martha is the mother of service, and Mary the mother of devotion: they are equally celebrated in the church, yet Mary has the better part.

Wonderful, then, to encounter the same song as played and sung by N’Orleans’ own Theresa Andersson:

That’s the extraordinary creative re-creation I was wanting to share with you.

**

The Parting of the Waters [Exodus 14: 21-29]:

And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.

And the Egyptians pursued, and went in after them to the midst of the sea, even all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen. And it came to pass, that in the morning watch the Lord looked unto the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and troubled the host of the Egyptians, And took off their chariot wheels, that they drave them heavily: so that the Egyptians said, Let us flee from the face of Israel; for the Lord fighteth for them against the Egyptians.

And the Lord said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand over the sea, that the waters may come again upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen. And Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to his strength when the morning appeared; and the Egyptians fled against it; and the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea.

And the waters returned, and covered the chariots, and the horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them; there remained not so much as one of them. But the children of Israel walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea; and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.

Wait: there’s a curious — and beautiful — counterpoint to this story in rabbinic lore:

The Talmud teaches us that on the night that the Egyptian army drowned in the Red Sea, the first true moment of freedom for the Jews fleeing Egypt, God refused to hear the angels sing their prayers, and said “my creations are drowning in the sea, and you will sing songs?”

**

Appendix:

We could also take — if you have time to join me — another path through that song.

The Fisk Jubilee Singers:

Mary’s there, but no Martha. That’s the earliest recording of the song that survives.

Then there’s The Swan Silvertones:

Mary don’t you weep — Martha don’t have to moan — it’s been decided that Mary of the song — who might be the sister of Moses — is, or is also, Mary the sister of Martha..

And let’s close with Take-6:

**

Sources:

  • Jerry Zolten, “Oh Mary Don’t You Weep”–The Swan Silvertones (1959)
  • Wikipedia, Mary Don’t You Weep
  • Art & Theology, “Oh Mary, Don’t You Weep”: Death, Resurrection, and the New Exodus
  • Sunday surprise special

    Monday, February 18th, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — selected from among the very best of Dylan, Bach, and Joni ]
    .

    I don’t think I’ve ever posted either of these two pieces here on Zenpundit, but in my mind they’re the rock Passacaglia par excellence and the similarly towering classical exemplar — and if you’re exclusively classical in temperament, you may not know Bob Dylan‘s masterful Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands:

    while if you’re straight rock in taste and experience, may I introduce Bach‘s Passacaglia, certainly one of his greatest organ works, here played by Ton Koopman:

    **

    Okay, that’s the classical and rock compare and contrast — here’s Bob Dylan‘s peer — and there aren’t that many — Joni Mitchell, with her wonderful Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter:

    — and that’s a bonus..

    Sunday surprise — Xanatos and other Gambits, &c

    Sunday, January 27th, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — (some of) what gaming, TV watching & quotation mining can get you in terms of strategy ]
    .

    First off, let me thank Trent Telenko for turning me onto the Xanatos Gambit at at ChicagoBoyx, which started me on this particular chose of a gaggle of wild geese..

    The Xanatos Gambit caught my eye by virtue of its decision flow chart [you start at the top]:

    That’s brilliant — not a win-win play, but an i-win-anyway ploy. [Linguists — remind me whether ploy is a warped variant of play, will you?] And Trent then identifies the Xanatos Gambit as Donald Trump’s characteristic play.. ploy.

    Here’s an explanatory para::

    A Xanatos Gambit is a plan for which all foreseeable outcomes benefit the creator — including ones that superficially appear to be failure. The creator predicts potential attempts to thwart the plan, and arranges the situation such that the creator will ultimately benefit even if their adversary “succeeds” in “stopping” them. When faced with a Xanatos Gambit the options are either to accept that the creator will get the upper hand and choose the outcome that is least beneficial to them, or to defeat them by finding a course that they didn’t predict.

    Another:

    A Xanatos Gambit is a Plan whose multiple foreseen outcomes all benefit its creator. It’s a win-win situation for whoever plots it.

    Here’s a quote from a source unknown to me: Cavilo, The Vor Game:

    The key to strategy… is not to choose a path to victory, but to choose so that all paths lead to a victory.

    Xanatos Gambit / Real Life

    In the casino business they say that the house always wins, and indeed, it’s true. When gamblers lose all their money, the house gets rich, but when someone has a lucky streak and wins big, this only serves to encourage others to take more risks, which means the house will actually get even richer in the long run for having “lost” some money to a big winner. The law of large numbers is on their side, after all. This is, in short, how casinos can stay in business—they virtually always turn a profit on the actual gambling

    Okay, here the geese gaggle in formation after the Gambit. Our clue:

    Xanatos Speed Chess trumps Xanatos Gambits.

    **

    Xanatos Speed Chess:

    Cosmo Lavish, a Terry Pratchett banker character from Discworld, saith:

    Plans can break down. You cannot plan the future. Only presumptuous fools plan. The wise man steers.

    I agree wholeheartedly with “You cannot plan the future” — a point I’ve made in my Art of Future Warfare entries

    And since we’re in Chess territory:

    The Chessmaster:

    What? That I used two fourteen-year-old pawns to turn a knight and topple a king? It’s chess, Daniel. Of course you don’t understand.

    Unwitting Pawn

    Tend to be played by The Chessmaster, logically enough.

    **

    Well, I could go on, but let me just list some of the pages I came across, and invite you to look where your interests take you..

    Gambit Roulette

    A convoluted Plan that relies on events completely within the realm of chance yet comes off without a hitch.

    How can anyone, even skilled conspirators, predict with perfect accuracy the outcome of a car crash? How can they know in advance that a man will go to a certain pay phone at a certain time, so that he can see a particular truck he needs to see? How can the actions of security guards be accurately anticipated? Isn’t it risky to hinge an entire plan of action on the hope that the police won’t stop a car speeding recklessly through a downtown area?

    If your first reaction to seeing the plan unfold is “There is no way that you planned that!”, then it’s roulette.

    The Trickster

    This fellow coyote is,
    fellow the road-runner is but a shadow of, is
    by definition, tricky, has
    a penis can cross
    the Ventura freeway
    in seek of skirt, whose
    penis maybe run over
    by fate’s own eighteen wheeler..

    Poem of mine.

    The Fool:

    Well, I see the Fool differently:

    I claim the final authority, rule
    from the steps below the throne.
    Kings look to me for approval, fool
    that I am, for at court, I alone
    see all men as wind in a cage of bone.

    Another poem of mine — brought down from the attic.

    A Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery Inside An Enigma

    That’s Churchill, Winston:

    I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma, but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest.

    Riddle for the Ages
    Secret Identity Identity
    Multilayer Facade
    Gambit Pileup

    **

    There is also:

    Knight Templar:

    This fellow interests me because of my recent 5,000 word foray into Templar territory, Templarios: Echoes of the Templars and Parallels Elsewhere for Doc Bunker‘s next volume — but what really struck me was the quote used as an epigraph to the topic. It’s from James Baldwin:

    Nobody is more dangerous than he who imagines himself pure in heart, for his purity, by definition, is unassailable.

    Sadhu and Southern Baptist, Sunday surprise

    Sunday, January 20th, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — preferred place for prayer — and Gary Snyder’s disciples “will always have ripened blackberries to eat and a sunny spot under a pine tree to sit at” ]
    .

    That sadhus like to meditate in cremation grounds was already known to me — they worship Lord Shiva, who likes to meditate there himself, not infrequently covers himself in ashes, and wears a necklace of skulls..

    What surprised me though, was to find Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and author of The Storm-Tossed Family: How the Cross Reshapes the Home, Christianity Today‘s Book of the Year, recommending so similar a practice..

    **

    Sources:

  • The Gospel Coalition, A Graveyard Is a Good Place to Make Big Decisions
  • TripAdvisor, Varanasi Photo: Sadhu meditation in smashan – where dead bodies burn
  • **

    And if the sadhu‘s practice seems more extreme — fiercer, spiritually? — than Dr Moore‘s quieter — dare I, should I really say, more contemplative? — approach, that only reminds me of Klaus Klostermaier‘s book, Hindu and Christian in Vrindaban, and this marvelous graph:

    Theology at 120 degrees Fahrenheit in the shade seems after all, different from theology at 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Theology accompanied by tough chapattis and smoky tea seems different from theology with roast chicken and a glass of wine. Now, what is different, theos or theologian? The theologian at 70 degrees Fahrenheit is in a good position presumes God to be happy and contended, well-fed and rested, without needs of any kind. The theologian at 120 degrees Fahrenheit tries to imagine a God who is hungry and thirsty, who suffers and is sad, who sheds perspiration and knows despair.

    Here’s Fr Klostermaier saying Mass in Vrindaban:

    First thing in the morning I celebrate the Mass. I wonder if any person responsible for prescribing the liturgical vestments in use today ever read mass at 113 degrees Fahrenheit, in a closed room without a fan? Clouds of flies swarm around the chalice and host. They settle on the hands, on the perspiring face. They cannot be driven away, but return for the tenth time to the place from which they have been chased away. The whole body burns and itches. The clothes are damp, even the vestments. They soon dry. If a priest does not wear them all, he commits – according to existing canon law – at least a dozen or so mortal sins all at once. And it seems impossible to survive, physically or spiritually, without the Mass.

    And Vrindaban?

    Edward C Dimock and Denise Levertov, begin their delicious, delirious volume, In Praise of Krishna: songs from the Bengali, thus:

    Above the highest heaven is the dwelling place of Krishna. It is a place of infinite idyllic peace, where the dark and gentle river Yamuna flows beside a flowered meadow, where cattle graze; on the river’s bank sweet-scented trees blossom and bend their branches to the earth, where peacocks dance and nightingales call softly. Here Krishna, ever-young, sits beneath the trees, the sound of his flute echoing the nightingales’ call. Sometimes he laughs and jokes and wrestles with his friends, sometimes he teases the cowherd-girls of the village, the Gopis, as they come to the river for water. And sometimes, in the dusk of days an eon long, his flute’s call summons the Gopis to his side. They leave their homes and families and husbands and honor — as it is called by men — and go to him. Their love for him is deeper than their fear of dishonor. He is the fulfillment of all desire…

    That, too, is Vrindaban!

    Start of the Christian Church Year

    Sunday, December 9th, 2018

    [ by Charles Cameron — the chief benefit of observing a liturgical calendar is found in the subtle modulations in rhythm across the year it affords the observant faithful ]
    .

    In terms of the Catholic, Anglican and Lutheran Churches — but not yet, I think, the Orthodox — this is the first Sunday in the season of Advent, a period of expectation of the coming of the Christ Child, and of his Second Coming at the end of days, and marks the start of the liturgical Year in their calendars.

    Here’s JS Bach, bringing us a Cantata for the First Sunday in Advent, and thus a fitting opening to the season:

    **

    Zenpundit wishes its Christian readers a Happy New Year!


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