Wednesday, April 27, 2005

266 Hildegard von Bingen

Today my Inner Catholic cum Latin Wannabe decided to check out some Cds of lovely, spiritual music from the library. I chose two discs of Hildegard Von Bingen, a 12th century musical genius, a German Abbess. She was quite sickly as a child, but seemed to have a rich interior life which was the basis of her music and writings. Right now I’m listening to Vision; The Music of Hildegard Von Bingen, by Richard Souther. This is a jazz interpretation, and I suppose I could say I’m not beside myself with joy over it. So now I’ve switched to Diadema. One account of her life and work says Hildegard was most recently hijacked by the New Age Movement. I’d been listening to some old timey hymns in the car, like Trust and Obey, and What a Friend we have in Jesus. I’m probably not ready for Hildegard, but it is interesting that regardless the age, illness and difficulty seem to have inspired many hymn writers.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Our Lady of Liturgical Abuses

Vox Lauri is a Roman Catholic librarian with a lot of health problems and a quirky sense of humor. After attending Mass at OLLA she stops at a Walgreens to buy hair dye where she encounters "burly man" who sat next to her in church. She tells quite a wild story.

"Around the store all the employees were talking about the fight: burly man tried to stop a shoplifter. I immediately thought that wasn't too bright, as in burly man could have gotten killed to save Walgreen’s the loss of a talking fish plaque or Chia Pet. The police arrived and took a statement, promised to look for the thief; their promise almost like someone asking how you are or wishing you a nice day, trite and expected."

Sunday, April 24, 2005

264 A Mother's Peace

We don’t usually stay for Sunday School after worship. However, today our pastor encouraged the congregation at the 8:30 service to stay and hear Rachel Muha talk about God’s peace, and the murder of her 18 year old son, during the Sunday School hour. We are doing a series on the gifts of the Spirit, and today’s topic was Peace, using the passage, Phillipians 4:7, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

We were so blessed by Mrs. Muha’s loving, quiet ways. A tiny woman with a lovely smile who appears to be in her mid-40s, she talked about her two sons, Chris and Brian, their growing up years in a Columbus suburb, their school and activities, and their love for family, church and community. Both went to Franciscan University in Steubenville, OH and that’s where Brian and his roommate were kidnapped and then murdered in Pennsylvania in May 1999. She talked about prayer and the peace God gave her as each horrible detail began to unfold. As the students packed the college chapel to pray for the missing students, Mrs. Muha addressed them and said, “Whoever is responsible for what has happened to Brian and Aaron, and whatever you have done to them, I forgive you.”

She talked about why she had to forgive the three young men, Terrell, Nathan and Brandon, who murdered Brian Muha and Aaron Land. Hers is not a warm, fuzzy, whimpy forgiveness--she says her heart has been shattered and will always be in a million pieces. But she won’t let the devil make her hate. She concluded with the story of the Prodigal Son, and says she prays daily for those young men and hopes that prison will be their path to heaven. She calls them her brothers. They have not yet repented six years later, so she urged us to pray for them also.

There are numerous accounts of this crime and the trial on the internet, but I thought this one, less than a year after Brian’s death, accurately reflected what she told our group.

After the trial, Tony Norman wrote:

“At the heart of the courtroom's luminous drama was Rachel Muha, the mother of Brian. Her gracious speech will reverberate for years in that sad and divided community.

"If you hadn't done this, I would have my Brian and you would have your freedom," she said calmly. "But losing your freedom is not as bad as losing your soul." She then asked Herring to redeem the rest of his years on Earth before blessing him and assuring him she'd pray for him.

Herring had no idea a year ago that he'd ever be confronted by such a woman. Had he known such love in his life, he would've wrestled his partner to the ground. Taking a bullet would've been better than living under the weight of a heartbroken mother's prayers.

Rachel Muha's redemption song has stunned and inspired many people. What the petite woman did in the presence of the tall man who helped kill her son required a bravery beyond what it takes to squeeze the trigger of a gun. What good is hatred? Rachel Muha understands that, sometimes, the language of redemption is the only thing in the whole world that makes any sense.”

A loophole in Ohio's law has caused our Supreme Court to throw out the murder convictions in this brutal case, according to this article and this one, and that loophole has now been closed, but too late for the victim's families.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

263 Les Miserables

Cindy Swanson writes about Les Miserables, and her anticipation of using the tickets for the Chicago production given as a birthday gift.

"I absolutely LOVE the music in Les Miserables. I also appreciate the Christian world-view that permeates the play. Grace/mercy versus legalism/justice--it's a pretty classic theme. I love the character of Jean Valjean--he epitomizes a redeemed soul. I think Valjean's lyrics in "What Have I Done?" are a picture of salvation:

"I am reaching, but I fall
And the night is closing in
And I stare into the void
To the whirlpool of my sin
I'll escape now from the world
From the world of Jean Valjean
Jean Valjean is nothing now
Another story must begin!"

Sounds spectacular, Cindy. Hope it met all your expectations. Cindy is a radio announcer and voice-over artist by occupation. She loves to read and write, and can't live a day without music, according to her bio.

Friday, April 22, 2005

262 The Pope is Catholic

Isn't that a surprise! Philip Lawler in today's Wall Street Journal says that the portrait being painted of Benedict XVI by the MSM responding to the secular liberals "is completely at odds with the actual personality of Benedict XVI. In fact, he is a genial, diffident man. Those who meet him for the first time are invariably struck by the humility that camouflages his powerful intellect." He comments that belief in absolute truth gives offense to those who cling to the self-contradictory principle that there are no absolutes. Their real complaint is that the Pope is Catholic. Lawler is editor of Catholic World Report.

As a Protestant (Lutheran) watching all this unfold during the last few weeks with the death of the Pope and selection of the new Pope, I've discovered my inner Catholic. And my high school Latin. I actually want someone in charge! I'd like someone to say, this is right and that is wrong despite what your government or school system or entertainers say. In Protestantism we are constantly thrown from one side of the boat to the other, and we wander from church door to church door looking for truth. We don't take in converts, we get disgruntled transfers seeking different music and jazzy programming. All Protestant denominations have had numerous splits and schisms. Then they regroup and start all over again. I think when the Catholic church caves, we're all in trouble.

I've heard a few Catholic commentators suggest to those Catholics who don't like what the church is doing, to "walk." Well, stay out of our neighborhood--we've got enough problems of our own figuring it out.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

261 Good for traveling

On our recent trip to Illinois I brought along Hank Hanegraaff's 4 disc set of Bible questions, The Bible Answer Book and thoroughly enjoyed it. I checked it out of our church library, and at $20 I think it is an excellent buy and would recommend it. One gets tired of talk radio, inane advertisements and loud music on these long trips, so it was very pleasant to listen to his clear and thoughtful explanations of common questions people have about the Bible.

I'm more a book/print person myself, but if the speaker is slow enough and varies his voice, I can get a lot out of it. I recently tried Anne Graham Lotz's "Why; trusting God when you don't understand" which is read, unabridged by the author on 3 discs. However, she reads too fast and there was not enough variation in tone and value to make it an easy listen, so I stopped half way into the first disc.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

260 Spitting in the wind

And I'll say it again, anyway. In my reading of Christian authors, the biggest challenge is often finding a clear presentation of the Gospel, and that includes Max Lucado and Rick Warren, two extremely popular Christian writers. Wonderful writers both, but because they know the Gospel so well, they fail to build a foundation for their readers. All Christian writers and publishers can assume that at some point a seeker or an unbeliever will pick up their material, so they shouldn't start with sanctification assuming the reader knows about sin and salvation.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

A Prayer for the Unemployed

A young man at another site is going on an interview and has asked the other bloggers for prayer. He didn't leave his e-mail address, and I thought this reply might be unappreciated if posted at that site, so I'll put it here and make a referral. This prayer is taken from "My Prayer Book" published by Concordia in 1957. I've modernized the language a bit.

"Dear Father in Heaven, Giver of all good things, I thank you that you have created me and preserved me to this day. You know my needs and my fears because of my present unemployment. I ask you to comfort and strengthen me, and help me to maintain my hope and courage.

It is clear from your Word that work is normal and good for man, yet I have not found the work which I need and seek. This situation is hard to understand. Help me, Lord, to surrender wholly to you and to look to you for the employment which I need.

I pray Lord, correct what is wrong with me or with the employment situation in general, and give me the opportunity to earn my own bread. Open a door to employment which I do not now see. Keep me from discouragement and bitterness, and help me to put my trust in you.

Help me to say with a believing heart: "The eyes of all wait upon Thee, O Lord, and Thou givest them their meat in due season. Thou openest Thine hand and satisfiest the desire of every living thing."

In that knowledge and in that faith make me trusting and patient. In the meantime care for me and mine according to your promise. I trust you will do so for the sake of Jesus Christ, my Savior, in whom you have promised to give us all things. Amen."

I used to think it odd that people relied on printed prayers, but I see more and more are being published. I often refer to this little pocket size book and have found it very flexible and scriptural. It even has prayers for various professions (although not librarians). The petitioner expresses his needs and fears and discouragement then asks for a fresh look at the situation, for trust and patience. Unemployment is very wearing on the soul and spirit.

Monday, April 18, 2005

258 Watching the Papal Conclave

CBS News broke into the Dr. Phil Show to allow us to see this historic moment. However, the news speakers just blathered on and on--I couldn't even hear the music. So I turned on Fox News, and got a simple 30 minutes of just the event of the cardinals taking the secrecy oath. I briefly checked CNN and they were chattering too. Eventually, Fox added the voice of a Roman Catholic priest, knowledgeable about the Sistine Chapel, the faith and event who explained the theological and political significance. Then they too succumbed to the "can't have a dead space" disease.

Photo here

Thursday, April 07, 2005

You too?

"The music employed by the Church, and used in the bumpers for the coverage [of the Pope's death], which is much different from the Sunday Catholic worship norm. The reason? We are talking about death and resurrection right now. Whatever the virtues of most modern popular Catholic worship music, it is not generally about those subjects."

Seen at Dyspeptic Mutterings

Saturday, April 02, 2005

256 Spring Break

Check out one of my paintings and a poem about April at my other blog, Collecting my Thoughts.