Classical

Classical: (adj) standard, classic.

I have worked for 22 years with an oboist.

She’s a little bit Mozart; I’m a little bit rock and roll.

When we teamed up, I think she was concerned that our musical tastes might be ill-suited for one another. She had played in symphony
orchestras, and I had bopped around with gospel, blues and pop.

What she did not know was that as a boy of eleven years of age, I got hooked on a record series called “The 25 Greatest Melodies of All Time” and “The 50 Most Influential Classical Music Pieces.” So along with listening to rock and roll and some gospel music, I played my recordings of Strauss, Wagner, Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Rachmaninoff.

It was perfectly produced–the records didn’t have so much of each composition to bore me, just the highlights. What you might call the Cliff notes of the masters.

I loved the music. To this day, I think my partner is a little surprised when I insert a bit of understanding (or sometimes misunderstanding) of the music of that era. Matter of fact, she and I joined together to write some symphonies–our tribute to the styling, with the addition of our original juice.

It’s too bad we have to call something “classical.” It scares off the best market–young humans. After all, why would they want to listen to any music their parents might enjoy?

But what they don’t understand is that these composers who wrote this dynamic material were just a bunch of radical, rebellious, rag-tag and reckless adolescents.

 

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Cherry-Pick

Cherry-pick: (v) to selectively choose (the most beneficial items) from what is available.

Living in an era when social slop is often offered as emotional cuisine, it is sometimes difficult to ascertain the bad from the good and call it ugly.

Matter of fact, upon reading the word “cherry-pick” this morning, a negative feeling came over me–images of prissy people sitting around
choosing their favorites based upon preference in design and structure.

People often say that I cherry-pick my political views, missions and certainly my spirituality. So to those critics, let me say with full-throated confidence:

You are right.

I have no idea if what I believe about government would actually work, but in my mind it is certainly preferable to the “dance of the dunce” that we presently parade in Washington, D.C.

I don’t know if I am any kind of expert on television, movies and entertainment–I just know that I don’t like anything that doesn’t both entertain and inspire me.

And I certainly cannot contend that the Gospel I believe in is completely in line with the one that was in the mind of the Nazarene who strolled the Earth in loincloth so many centuries ago. But after many years of living, I believe it is still the good news that actually functions in the hearts of all cultures.

It is time we begin to cherry-pick:

Start liking movies for their content instead of who stars in them or who directs them.

Begin to believe in ideas, not because 25,000 people gather to cheer them on, but because they are full of mercy and grace.

Listen to music that stuns our consciousness with an immersion of human awareness instead of merely demonstrating the height and breadth of technology.

I am a cherry-picker–and because of that, I have found my life to be fruitful.

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Chaplain

Chaplain: (n) a member of the clergy attached to a private chapel, institution, ship, branch of the armed forces, etc.

One of the major dangers in life is to be overwrought, which means that for some unknown reason we place greater intensity, importance
and value on some matters than others.

We certainly do this with people’s occupations.

If someone says they work at a grocery store, we probably will not launch into a statement of gratitude for providing food for the masses.

But if someone says they’re a chaplain in a prison or the military, we raise our eyebrows, impressed, thinking we’re dealing with a sacrificial individual who is doing really, really valuable work.

The distinctions we make in life cause our prejudice–because there is such a thing as a good chaplain and also a bad chaplain, just like there’s a good grocer and a bad grocer. There are people who do their job well and people who do their job poorly.

So to judge a person who is a doctor as noble and kind is absolutely foolish. Many Dr. Jekylls are actually Mr. Hyde.

I think it would be very difficult to be a chaplain in the military, for the Gospel he or she would preach would not necessarily be in line with either the stars and stripes or the red, white and blue. Jesus had his differences with capitalism, and certainly was not a great advocate of violence.

Yet I respect the chaplain who brings the hope of the Gospel to people who find themselves in the position of making decisions that have far-reaching effects.

So if we can stop our silly bigotry about occupations and start asking ourselves what makes a good person in any situation, then we will be on our way to truly grasping equality and the wisdom of understanding.

 

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Append

dictionary with letter A

Append (v.): to add to the end of a document or piece of writing.

Much truth comes out through silliness.

I have found this to be very accurate and on point.

When we’re unable to speak our feelings clearly, we often cast to the wind a sideways remark, later insisting that we were “just kidding.”

For instance, certainly the people who wrote the books of the Bible had no comprehension that thousands of years later, souls would be poring over their thoughts, seeking eternal insights for their internal workings. If they had, they probably would have added an “append” at the end, or a P.S. which read, “By the way, when I wrote Chapters 4-7, I was grumpy and suffering from indigestion” or, “Just kidding.”

Likewise, the delegates who attended the Constitutional Convention knew almost immediately that they had left out some very important ideas, so they added a ten-point “append,” which we now refer to as the Bill of Rights. (Also some of them from the Northern colonies probably wanted to take their quills and jot down an apology to the black race for the three-fifths assessment of their value.)

There isn’t anything I write each day in my columns and blogs that I would want to become everlasting “gospel” for humankind. Maybe I should close with T.I.C. (Tongue In Cheek). So I reserve the right to append all of my pennings almost immediately.

If we really believe that documents are divinely inspired, then we must clarify by saying that they are not divinely scrawled. Even in the process of inspiration flowing through the human being, it picks up some trash, ignorance and dirt along the way.

The truly intelligent reader of great manuscripts must possess the discernment of the spirit which inspired them.

  • So I listen to Beethoven not to worship his talent, but to appreciate the creativity and the frailty which make it human.
  • I read Thomas Jefferson knowing that he had higher ideals than his morals could acquire.
  • And I study Moses and the Apostle Paul from the Good Book, understanding that the yearning they had to be universal was somewhat stalled by their sheep-herder and tent-maker mentalities.

It doesn’t limit the beauty.

It just brings focus to it.

 

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Andrew, St.

dictionary with letter A

Andrew, St.: An apostle, the brother of St. Peter. He is associated with the X-shaped cross because he is said to have been crucified on such a cross, and is the patron saint of Russia and Scotland. Feast Day, November 30.

Long before he was nailed down on a multiplication symbol and they started a special holiday in his honor, Andrew was a fisherman in a little town called Capernaum.

His prospects for being prosperous or well-known and his aptitude for upward mobility were less than promising–actually, comical.

Living in a village of less than five hundred people and a partner in a business in which his brother, with a more boisterous personality, took over the entire room, Andrew had little chance of surfacing socially, or even generating a jot and tittle in a history book.

Yet he possessed one powerful personality trait–he was curious.

While his brother probably took the time to sleep off the latest fishing jaunt, which included heavy wine drinking, Andrew was out and about, looking for possibilities. In the process, he met another unlikely earth-shaker named Jesus of Nazareth.

We don’t know why Andrew was impressed or why he was so moved by the Nazarene’s message. But we do know that he was one of Jesus’ early followers, and ends up bringing his brother to the cause.

As often is the case, there is no Peter without Andrew. There are no five loaves and two fishes for the five thousand fed without Andrew bringing the little boy’s lunch for consideration.

And even though after all the smoke cleared of the posturing and shuffling, he did not end up being one of the inner-three best friends of Jesus (positions held by Peter, James and John), we are never made aware that he is slighted or offended in the least.

He did three things that gave him personal salvation and a place for all time:

  1. He stayed interested.
  2. When he found something important, he got excited.
  3. He stuck with it to the end.

In many ways Andrew is the hero of the gospel story simply because he brought the right people at the right time … to the right person.

 

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