Thursday, September 28, 2017

Like A Rolling Stone

As a musician there are some songs that you just sit back in wonder at the construction and marriage of the lyrics and melody. Bob Dylan is one of those songwriters that can weave a story in a song with unprecedented skill. One of my favorite songs of his is, "Like A Rolling Stone." But before we take a look at those lyrics I want to share one of my favorite stories about the recording of that song.

A 21 year old studio musician showed up on the second day of production of the song, "Like A Rolling Stone." His name was Al Kooper and he was a guest of the producer of that session, Tom Wilson. His hope was to play guitar but he quickly realized that the current guitar player, Mike Bloomfield, was way better than he was. So when the organ player on the session moved off of the organ to record some piano tracks Al begged Tom to let him play the organ. Wilson responded, "Man you're a guitar player, you can't play the organ", but at that moment someone called Tom out of the room and Al saw his chance. He went into the studio, sat down at the Hammond B3 organ, and when Tom returned he yelled at Al, "What are you doing?" (Which you can hear on the raw tracks of the recording). However, Tom Wilson was a gracious man, didn't call him out and let him stay.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Early Telephone Etiquette

It is unfathomable in this day and time to imagine life without our phones. How quickly society adapted to this technological device, and even though it seems like mobile phones have been around forever, the first cell phone call ever made was in less than fifty years ago. (April 3rd, 1973 for those trivia buffs out there) But before mobile phones we had land-line phones. Less than one hundred years ago only thirty-five percent of houses in the United States had a phone. That number would stay at less than eighty percent until the early 1970's. To recap, less than fifty years ago, twenty percent of all households in the United States did not have a phone.

In the early development of the telephone there arose a disagreement between Alexander Bell and Thomas Edison on the proper etiquette when answering the phone. Alexander Bell used "Ahoy", which derives from the Dutch greeting, "Hoi". Thomas Edison on the other hand preferred to use the word, "Hello". "Hello" won out when the District Telephone Company in New Haven, Connecticut endorsed Thomas Edison's greeting over Alexander Bell's.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Body, Soul and Spirit

I am a spirit, who has a soul, that lives in a body. You are a spirit, who has a soul, that lives in a body.

Jesus had just finished ministering to one of the largest crowds in his ministry, over five thousand people, who had gathered just on the other side of the Sea of Galilee. He had fed the entire group using a little boy's meal of five barley loaves and two fish with twelve baskets left over after everyone had eaten their fill. The people exclaimed, "This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!" 

Knowing that they were gathering to make Him their king, he boarded a boat to cross the sea to Capernaum. When the crowd discovered that Jesus wasn't there, they followed him saying, "Rabbi, when did you come here?" Jesus replied, "I know you are seeking me, not just because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you . . . it is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life." (John 6)

Talk about not taking advantage of your fame . . . 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Weighing The Cost

"Nothing is more practical than finding God, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, whom you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything." - Joseph Whelan, S.J.

Joseph Whelan, S.J. was a Jesuits priest who gave an address in 1981 that included the quote above. It is an hopeful, compelling declaration of love and vocation but is it wisdom?

My personal experience is that as my devotion to God has increased, my life has become more difficult and complicated, not clearer as the prose above proclaims. Wrestling, not resting is more the norm when it comes to spiritual matters and much discernment is required to honor my promise to God made many years ago. Yet, this shouldn't be a surprise. Jesus was pretty clear that if you chose to follow Him, life was going to become difficult, full of persecution and dividing those who love God from those who don't. Check out Jesus's words in three encounters with people expressing their desire to follow Him. (Luke 9: 56-62)

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

The Prison Break That Wasn't

Paul in the Bible lived a life radically different than his life before giving his life to Jesus Christ. Paul, or Saul as he was known before his encounter with God, was a man of means, a man of destiny, a man of influence and who made it his life work to eradicate the Jewish zealots who were threatening Roman rule in what is now Israel.

Then after his conversion we see a different man, a man now on a mission for His Savior, a man who made it his life work to spread the gospel of Jesus throughout the world. This same man who hunted down Christians now is starting churches throughout Asia. This man who worked at the pleasure of the Emperor of Rome would later be thrown in a Roman jail at the request of that same Emperor. What an exchange we witness in the book of Acts! Everything he was, he was no more. His passion, his priorities, his citizenship, everything changed after meeting Jesus Christ.