Wendy Vickers: Sow a Seed

Epoch VII WV01 (1974)

Most people associate post-Vatican II Catholic music with the folk Mass type music that’s featured regularly on this blog.  But there were some exceptions, and this album–and artist–was one of them.  This is a very good, straightforward folk album, more like (as Ken Scott points out in Archivist) Maranatha artists Karen Lafferty (of “Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God” fame) and Becky Ugartechea.  Her rendering of “Were You There” is especially memorable.  There is also some liturgical music here.

It was nominated for a Grammy when it came out, but its later history is another story.  Epoch was acquired by North American Liturgy Resources, who featured the title track on their Family Album. They in turn ended up in OCP.  But the last, more enamoured with the likes of Marty Haugen and David Haas, allowed their strong female vocalists like Vickers, Juliana Garza and Angle Tucciarone to lapse in the line-up, which should tell you a lot about the state of Catholic music.

Update (October 2016): Wendy Vickers’ music is available here on CD Baby.  Also, as she notes in her comment, OCP is planning to re-release the album for download, so perhaps things are moving there too.

In the meanwhile, the songs:

  1. Get on Board
  2. Were You There
  3. Glory to God
  4. Let Me do it with Love
  5. Sow a Seed
  6. High Time
  7. The Lord Gave Me a Song
  8. Holy, Holy
  9. Keep the Faith on Movin’
  10. Come to My Table
  11. Go in Peace

More Music

Water, Wind and Fire: Songs By Sisters

CAVS/Fountain FTN 2506 (1977)

Folk albums by nuns were fairly common in the 1960’s and 1970’s; this site features Roman Catholic religious such as Juliana Garza and the School Sisters of Notre Dame.  This one, however, is different in one important respect: the sisters are Anglican. Two of them were of the Community of the Holy Name in Malvern, England, and one was of the Community of St. Mary the Virgin in Wantage, England.

The album has a melismatic quality that separates it from many other albums, sometimes having a faint echo of Hildegard von Bingen, although I doubt the performers would make the analogy.  The instrumentation is light, the vocals are excellent.  It’s definitely worth a listen.

The songs:

  1. Water, Wind & Fire
  2. Come Up to Jerusalem!
  3. Welcome, Jesus!
  4. O Beautiful!
  5. Pentecost Song
  6. Glory Blues
  7. I Wake in the Morning
  8. Come Unto Me
  9. Trinity Song
  10. Adonai!
  11. Oh Living One!
  12. When I Say, ‘Jesus’

Download Songs by Sisters

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When Lent Became the “Saddest Season”

It wasn’t always so, at least not as we understand it.  In discussing Leo the Great, Hughes Oliphant Old’s The Reading and Preaching of the Scriptures in the Worship of the Christian Church, Vol. 2: The Patristic Age has this to say:

Lent has usually been explained as a period of forty days during which those preparing for baptism at Easter were instructed in the essentials of the faith and, along with the rest of the Church, observed a more intense discipline of prayer and fasting.  That those preparing for the sacrament should submit themselves to the disciplines of repentance had been an essential dimension from the beginning.  Repentance had been at the heart of the ministry of John the Baptist, and for the ancient Church the baptism of Jesus by John had been the prototype of Christian baptism.  While the penitential disciplines of Lent had been directed primarily at catechumens it had been considered appropriate from earliest times that the whole Church join the catechumens in these disciplines.  As early as the Didache this principle is clearly expressed.  It was a way of supporting the catechumens in these disciplines and of extending to them the bond of fellowship.

It must have been about Leo’s time that the baptism of adults in Rome became more and more infrequent and the baptism of infants became more regular.  With this transition to infant baptism the penitential disciplines of Lent would have lost their significance had not the threat of barbarian invasion, at the same time, imbued them with new importance. After all, one could hardly ask infants to fast for forty days.  On the other hand, Christians saw in the threat of barbarian invasion a reason to intensify their self-examination and the disciplines of penitential prayer.  Surely the importance of penitential preaching in Leo’s pulpit ministry is obvious; in face, it is rather heavily weighted in that direction, which the troubled days in which he preached surely help explain.  It was in these days that the liturgical calendar began to develop and take its place as the primary principle for organising worship.  As the Dark Ages progressed, Lent soon became the most important liturgical season of all.  From very early in its development the liturgical calendar was stamped with a penitential case.

Lent, as liturgical churches generally understand it, was the product of a) the shift in the mode of baptism and b) the collapse of the civilisation.

More on Old’s book is here.  As for the “saddest season” that’s from a famous poem by Alexander Pushkin.

Homeschoolers Should Play Golf

The Virgina House of Delegates means well

A BILL THAT would allow Virginia students who are home-schooled to play on public-school sports teams has cleared the state House and is now headed to a Senate committee, where a similar measure died last year.

…but personally I think they should skip the risks to life and limb of team sports (and that, these days, includes cheerleading) and take up something they don’t need the public school for, like golf or tennis.  I can just about guarantee that my mother, if we had been homeschooled, would have had me on the course.

Why? Since homeschoolers, as a group, far excel their public school counterparts, it makes sense that they will end up in executive positions, directing public school graduates (and dropouts). Golf is a fine executive sport, and one they can play for a long time.  It’s kind of like Spengler observed a long time ago about Chinese piano moms:

One for one, the “Piano Moms” of China are cleverer people and produce smarter offspring. China’s 30 million students of classical piano are one of the two great popular movements in the world today: the other is the House Church movement in Chinese Christianity. Children who play hockey will grow up to get coffee for children who study piano.

Important note: for those of who homeschool your children and take them to piano lessons: if they want to be really good at piano, they don’t have time for public school sports.  Over-committing a child to a multitude of activities is a virtual guarantee that he or she won’t be good at any one of them, and that you’re wasting your money in piano lessons.

Although some of this is “tongue in cheek” it always bothers me that Americans are obsessed with having their children succeed “like everyone else” when real success comes when you pull ahead of the pack, or at least around it.  Americans have always looked to team sports to build character and leadership, but in an increasingly élite society we need to find another way.

Pope Benedict XVI: Another Great Refusal Leads to Another Great Nailbiter

This came as something of a shock:

Pope Benedict XVI announced Monday that he would resign on February 28 — the first pontiff to do so in nearly 600 years — setting the stage for a conclave to elect a new pope before the end of March.

A Vatican official said the Holy See hopes the period between the pope’s resignation and the election of a successor will be “as brief as possible”.

As a long time Dante fan, the first thing that came to mind was the “Great Refusal”, i.e., the resignation of Celestine V in 1294.  (And I’m not alone). For same refusal Dante plunked him into the vestibule of hell for indecisiveness.

Although I think that his reasoning is better than Celestine’s, the downside possibilities of the outcome are probably higher now than then.  Protestants in general and Evangelicals in particular hate to admit it, but Roman Catholicism’s conservatism–in its own way, obviously–has been an anchor for Christianity in general.  The danger with each papal election has always been the elevation of a liberal would cut the line on that anchor, which would put Evangelicals in particular in a vulnerable position.

Fortunately both Benedict and his predecessor, John Paul II, have stacked the College of Cardinals with mostly conservatives.  That’s some comfort, but with the opacity of the process (not that our own “open” political system is much of an improvement these days) one never knows.  One can only pray.  (And, as we all know now, it takes more than someone with the correct idea; it takes someone who can make that idea reality).

One interesting possibility is the election of a pope from the Third World.  This is something the Anglicans haven’t managed to pull off even with their skewed numbers.  Whether the demands of romanitsia will allow this is a different story altogether.

Albert Mohler Faces Reality

And not a moment too soon either:

Evangelicals appear to be headed for some kind of marginalization, and this will hurt. Nevertheless, evangelical Christianity began on the margins of society and only in fairly recent decades moved into the mainstream. As it turns out, our cultural influence may wane and our options for recovering that influence may be both few and ineffectual.

When I look at this piece, I see a mirror image of Paul Krugman’s admission of death panels: I told you so, but now someone of note breaks down and admits it.  The big difference is that I think the left’s leadership has known their end game of universal poverty all along, while the leadership on the right has believed pretty much what they said.

Since Mohler is finally facing reality, I’ve got a few comments to perhaps push others (and maybe him, who knows) forward:

  1. Evangelicals have never been the “mainstream” they’ve thought themselves to be except in the South.  The “Main Line” churches are aptly named, but their decline is more precipitous even with their apparent (to Mohler) triumph vis-a-vis the culture.  And evangelicalism has always been a non-starter in the upper reaches of the society with a few exceptions.
  2. The form of Christianity which has always trashed “cultural Christianity” needs to quit fixating on changing the culture.  You can’t have a Christian culture without cultural Christianity.
  3. Following that, we need to realise that we are on our own; our country doesn’t want us any more and we should find ways to stop “feeding the beast” at every opportunity.  That means we should reconsider our attitude towards military service, civil marriage, immigration, etc.
  4. We must decouple our religion with upward social mobility.  That should be easy in a society where secular forces have made the latter difficult.
  5. We should recognise the fact that some of our children may be better off emigrating.  Many of our ancestors came here for religious freedom; it’s no dishonour if their descendants leave for the same reason.  We’ve implicitly bought into the idea that the “American Dream” is primarily economic; it is not.
  6. The clock is running faster on this “system of things” than our opponents care to admit.  Their financial profligacy, on par with their sexual, combined with regulation strangulation and the slow economy that results, cannot be sustained.  Their “cred” is largely dependent upon their ability to “deliver the goodies”; that running out is the best opportunity to level the playing field once again, if we are ready to take advantage of that, which at this point we are not.

What is coming will not be fun.  But, as my Computational Fluid Dynamics professor said, we’ve been dealt certain cards; we need to play them.

Millions of Dead Fish, Part II

Well, we may not be quite up to 106, but

A federal mandate to remove old, abandoned oil and gas rigs in the Gulf of Mexico is blowing up a lot more than just the rigs.

Undercover video obtained by Local 15 shows thousands of pounds of dead fish, mostly red snapper, floating to the surface after one of the controversial demolitions in the Gulf.

“Good Lord,” marine scientist Dr. Bob Shipp said, when Local 15 showed him the video. “As a scientist, I think it’s abominable.”

Back in 2010 my piece on the Deepwater Horizon disaster–not so far west from this fiasco–was entitled Millions of Dead Fish for this reason:

I’ve documented on this blog and related ones some of the “interesting” business trips I have taken, especially outside the US.  One of those took place in 1980, when my brother and I, fresh from an offshore technology exhibit at Earl’s Court, took a plane to Hamburg to meet with a prospective German representative for our company…our prospective rep and we discussed a topic of mutual interest: a hydraulic pile driving hammer suitable for driving underwater piles for offshore oil platforms.  We saw it as competition to our steam hammers.  But our host was confident that this new technology wouldn’t be a problem.  He observed that, should there be a hydraulic hose breakage, the oil would spew out, and there would be “millions of dead fish.”

We in the oil industry have always been considered beyond the pale by the environmental movement.  Now we have the sorry spectacle of fish kills in the name of environmentalism–because the appearance of the platforms offends the sensibilities of the environmentalists.  This is so even though every platform, active or abandoned, is an artificial reef and a breeding/feeding ground for marine life like the red snapper who are suffering genocide with the platform removal.

Too much of the environmental movement is about offending the sensibilities of the environmentalists and not about promoting real progress for life on the earth.  And that especially includes human life.

Paul Krugman’s Moment of Truth About Death Panels

Every now and then the smallest man in Princeton blurts it out:

And in a rare glimpse of candor, Krugman appealed to a more “progressive” way of keeping health care costs down:

 “We won’t be able to pay for the kind of government the society will want without some increase in taxes on the middle class, maybe a value added tax. And we’re also going to have to make decisions about health care, not pay for health care that has no demonstrated medical benefits. So the snarky version, which I shouldn’t even say because it will get me in trouble, is death panels and sales taxes is how we do this.”

Readers will remember the horror which greeted Sarah Palin over her observation re death panels.  But perhaps, with nothing else to do one night, Krugman Googled this from my 2009 piece First Dollar, Last Dollar: An Employer’s View of the Shameful Campaign of the Left Against Whole Foods’ John Mackey’s Health Care Alternative:

The left hates to admit it, but without “death panels” or other premature induced life terminations, there’s no way to swing their idea financially, especially in the “zero-sum” economy which they are constructing through higher taxation and regulation.
Oh yes, they do know this.

The Class Struggle Finally Comes to America

With a vengeance:

The striking similarities between what happened to black Americans at an earlier stage in our history and what is happening now to white working-class Americans may shed new light on old debates about cultural versus structural explanations of poverty. What’s clear is that economic opportunity, while not the only factor affecting marriage, clearly matters.

One of the things that has separated the American left from its European counterpart is that the latter, following “Karl and Fred” have emphasised the reduction of differences in socio-economic class and economic inequality over the identity politics Americans obsess with (race, gender, sexual orientation, etc).

Well, it looks like that obsession–coupled with our other obsession of sexual freedom–has shifted the central issue at last, although that’s not obvious if we look at the agenda these days of same-sex civil marriage, immigration reform and the like.  But I think it’s fair to say that our elites only talk a good game about economic equality–the system as it’s set up benefits them so much that they’d really take a hit if they actually did something worthwhile about it.

For all the analysis in the article re why this has taken place, there’s no evidence that the solution adopted by the broad base of society–single, mostly female parenting–is going to do anything but perpetuate the problem.  In the end there are two solutions to this–either people must buck their culture and form stable families as an exemplar, or they must rebel and take what they think is theirs.

This is the opportunity of Christian churches.  But as long as we waste time on trying to take back our culture and not changing it where we’re at–a much harder, long-term process in a world where instant results are the only ones anybody cares about–we’re not going to contribute to this in a positive way.

Jesus’ Triumphal Entry: Not in Palm Beach

Our Lord wept over Jerusalem, but what about this:

Police Officer Lorie Minot talks with Jason Pennington from Wild 95.5, who rode Paco, the donkey, over the Royal Park Bridge from West Palm Beach Wednesday morning. Minot gave him a verbal warning not to bring a donkey to the island again. Photo by Kelley Fernandez

My last Palm Sunday piece concerned the custom of the palm crosses at Bethesda-by-the-Sea.  Evidently it’s just as well Bethesda stuck with palm crosses; a real triumphal entry into Palm Beach would have been met, not by the Pharisees, but the Palm Beach police.  And it would have been about the donkey.

Or would it?  Maybe the parable about the rich man and Lazarus is just too much for the place…