Theology Afield

“Theology Afield” is a group of spiritual seekers, comprised largely of members of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Moscow, Idaho.  Though I am not a member of that church, I was welcomed into that group when we still met in the reading room of our beloved One World Cafe.  Below is an excerpt from our first Zoom meeting, held last Thursday the 16th.   Kenton Bird, the group facilitator and Professor of Journalism at the University of Idaho, asked I and the others a very timely question.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
A little bit goes a long, long way. 

A Musical Note

I’ve been sorely tempted to post one of these two new piano tracks that I recorded on the Baldwin Grand at my church with the help of my pastor’s Motorola smartphone.   This is an especially strong temptation in light of my having promised to post more music, and less written text, at this time of our common trial.

Eighth Note Blue clip art | Clipart Panda - Free Clipart Images

The reason why I haven’t been posting more music can be summed up in two words: technical difficulties.

The reason why I don’t want to post either of these two new tracks is on another plane.  They’re supposed to be piano tracks used in our interactive production of my musical, Eden in Babylon.  If I posted them prematurely, without the other musicians and singers involved, it might hex it.

So, I guarantee you that you will soon see a singer, a bass player, and a pianist (Yours Truly) performing my song “Midnight Screams” in three different places at three different times.   The beauty of it is that it all comes together at once.  

This all is reminding me of a time when I asked a woman to marry me.  She said yes, but told me not to tell anyone yet, because it might “hex” it.  Of course, I told everybody.  Five days later, her ex-husband found out about it, and she was more-or-less forced to call off the engagement.

Oh well.  Perhaps our sudden mutual feeling of having fallen in love was little more than a fleeting infatuation.  Still, I have no desire to repeat past indiscretion.  As you all know, I am virtually already married to Eden in Babylon.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
A little bit goes a long, long way. 

 

Sixth Column Published on Religious News Site

My sixth column, concerning how the coronavirus has been impacting homeless populations, has now been published on Spokane Faith and Values, thanks to editor-in-chief Tracy Simmons.   The column includes interviews with a number of people currently experiencing homelessness in very different parts of the country.  

Capture

HOMELESSNESS DURING COVID-19

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
A little bit goes a long, long way. 

 

Gratitude List 1510

1. The main thing that I’m grateful for, in the midst of this worldwide trial, is that I have realized how sweet it is for me to be more of a homebody. As I slowly begin to make my abode a more pleasing place to dwell, I remember — bit by bit — all kinds of visions, dreams, and prayers from a former time, when I was homeless. Thoughts of how I would fix up my home if ever I would be so lucky as to live inside again.

2. Another thing that has been a blessing is this. Rather than feel a need to rush to get out the door to get to church in the morning, I can slow down, take my time, and listen to sermons being filmed in empty sanctuaries all over the world.

3. The impact of COVID-19 has also rekindled an athletic spirit that somehow, throughout time, I have lost. Three days ago I ran three miles before sunset, faster and more freely than usual. Yesterday I did a nine mile bike ride before sunset. A rhythm of cross-training is unfolding: walk, run, bike; walk, run, bike – in 3 day patterns.

4. Producing an interactive version of Eden in Babylon is also an idea that would never have come to any of us who have struggled for nearly a year and a half now to overcome all the obstacles toward a live stage production. And yet, it brings out the best in me and others, in a way that a live stage show could never have done.

5. In believing that a cure will be found, and encouraging us all to pray in that direction, maybe history will show that this is a time when all of us and our families chose to turn inward for reflection, and turn to God Above for guidance.  We may find in the process that we have become the best people we can possibly be. There is always hope — and hope has seen the human race through trial after trial since time immemorial. We of the planet Earth are not a people who ever gives up hope.

“Jesus looked at them and said: “With man it is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”     — Matthew 19:26 BSB

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
A little bit goes a long, long way. 

Seven Reasons Why People Lie

I just read the excellent post, “Lost on the Spiritual Path” by the blogger known as Grady.  The post is about lying, and how toxic this practice can be for those who are on the spiritual journey.   Because the theme had been on my mind a lot lately, I had recently produced a list of seven reasons why I think people lie.

1. They’re trying to cover something up. Typical is when one makes it seem like their being a victim in a certain situation had nothing to do with a poor choice they had made, and was solely the effect of some surprise ambush.  An example would be someone who emphasizes how badly they had been abused, when in reality they were the one who started the fight.

2. They’re exaggerating the severity of a situation in which they were mistreated in order to deflect attention away from some poor choice of their own.   An example would be someone whose business was closed down by the Internal Revenue Service.  They might extol the horrors of the I.R.S. so that people won’t focus on the simple fact that they didn’t pay their taxes.

3. They’re minimizing something that makes them embarrassed or ashamed. An example would be saying “way back when” when the event occurred only three or four months ago.   “Oh, I had a drinking problem way back when!”  (Actually, they just had a drink last night.)

4. They’re trying to sustain a positive false impression in the eyes of someone whom they don’t want to know the truth. An example would be someone telling their parents they had a full time job with benefits when actually they were unemployed.  Or maybe they would tell them how happy they were in their relationship, when actually it was on the rocks.

5. They themselves are in denial. They inwardly don’t want to believe that things are as bad as they are, so they develop convenient, convincing falsehoods that most people will not question.

6. They are story tellers. They like to create colorful stories, and often do so at the expense of truth. Such people are probably deeply dissatisfied with some aspect of reality.  So they feel they need to adjust it a bit in order to cope.

Lying clipart - Clipground

7. Finally, they do not believe that there is, or should be, an absolute truth. Their truth varies according to whoever they’re talking to, depending on which falsehood they think will best serve them. They think everything is “subjective” or “relative” in a self-defined Universe that is elusive, and constantly in flux.

These sorts of people give themselves free reign to change all the time, so long as they can get away with it. Such people are usually extremely overconfident, and in a sense self-deifying. They overestimate their capacity to “create their own reality” at the expense of acknowledging the reality that’s actually happening.

They will fly closer and closer to the sun like Icarus, until finally they crash and burn.  People like these are known to hit swift and certain bottoms at some point in their lives.  They need to be shocked out of their unreasonable self-indulgence before they realize who they truly are.

If you pray, please pray for all of these kinds of liars — especially for the kind described in Point Seven.  The irony is that they are often very intelligent, with great gifts to offer.  For my part, I pray they come to realize that the Giver of all good gifts is God.

For your part, what are some reasons why you think people lie?

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
A little bit goes a long, long way. 

An Intriguing Dream

When I was 18 years old, during the summer just before I left home for college, I had a very memorable dream.  

Magic fairy wand clipart clipart kid - Clipartix

A being like an angel appeared.  But she was more like a fairy, really.   She had a wand, and she waved it.  And she said:

“You will have many friends,
And you will have many enemies.
But you will need to know hate
Before you know love.”

The being in the dream disappeared, and then I awoke.  It was morning.

Every now and then that dream resurfaces in my consciousness.  What do you think it means?   

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
A little bit goes a long, long way. 

 

Tuesday Tuneup 76

Q. What’s going on inside?

A. Philosophical speculation, as usual.

Q. On what themes do you speculate?

A. One in particular.  The idea of worrying about what other people of you.

Q. Do you do this?

A. Sometimes.  Not nearly so much as earlier in life.

Unapologetic Blogging- I'm not sorry for my content

Q. What gave rise to this particular speculation?

A. The other night, someone told me that they were worried about what somebody else thought of them.  I found myself saying something I had never said before.

Q. Did you say, perchance, that “whatever other people think about you is none of your business?”

A. No, I did not.

Q. Why not?

A. Because I find that cliché to be harsh.  It’s true that what other people of think of you is none of your business.  But it can come across like: “Hey! Mind your own business!”  

And then, the recipient of that rebuke might feel like: “Geeze, it wasn’t as though I was dipping into your personal stuff, bro!  All I was doing was worrying what somebody was thinking about me, for crying out loud!”

Q. Isn’t that an pretty sensitive response to an intentionally humorous cliché?

A. I’m a very sensitive person.  Next question, please.  

Q. Very well then.  How did you respond to this person’s concerns?

A. I said: “You really shouldn’t worry what she thinks about you.  The only person whose opinion of you matters is God, because God’s the only one whose opinion is perfectly true.”

Q. How did she respond?

A. She didn’t.

Q. What happened next?

A. I thought it was odd that those words came out of me.  I’d never had a thought like that before.   So I called my friend Danielle.  And she added to the thought.  

Q. What did Danielle say?

A. She said something very profound.  She said: “It is inbred in the human condition to worry about what somebody is thinking about you.  People who don’t believe in God don’t realize that this is because God has created us to be concerned about what He is thinking of us.   People simply transfer the object of the concern.”

Q. Fascinating!  But don’t people who do believe in God worry about what other people are thinking about them?

A. Sure they do.  But that’s just the other side of the same coin.  None of us except God is perfect.  So we can’t perfectly stop worrying about what all the other imperfect people are thinking about us.

Q. Can you think of anything to add to all this?

A. Not at the moment.  Maybe my readers can.

The Questioner is silent.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
A little bit goes a long, long way. 

 

Mountaintop of Gold

the mountain as presented
seemed not risky, but inviting.
the suggestion, ever tacit,
was that in scaling her peaks,
you might find the way to heaven.

or so your father thought before you,
therefore showing you the marvels of a dream.
yet you saw him often rising,
and then falling to the foot,
each time fearing that this plunge would be his last,
and that those depths might lead to death,
or even hell.

so you were ashamed for your father,
and you denied even the God
he sought in such futility to follow
and you made your way without him
as you reasoned out a life for yourself
and for many fragile men
in whom you found the remains
of his image.

your father called this failure,
and that thought he could not face.
so he found hidden shadows of your figure
in the voices of surrogate daughters,
who became as his princesses
in the world of his successes,
where his image shined with radiance,
his crown fixed firmly on his head,
as they looked to him as to a king,
and they never beheld his shame.

oh echo of his folly,
how awfully he deluded you,
and how hardly could he face
the sheer horror of it all!
at the same time as deceiving you,
he fooled himself as well,
as he dwelt in the illusion
of the girls who had replaced you
and who were what he once had wished for you,
and what you might have once attained.

to those daughters then he turned,
yea, he clung to them like honey,
and he drank his fill of their respect,
and gave them all he had.
yea, he even gave the gift rejected
by the echo of his laughter,
in the person of the daughter
of his long-forsaken past,
while with irony uncanny,
he did write his name forever
on the mounts of the immortal,
where his torment would not linger
but his works would yet remain.

though her pinnacle were worldly,
still he scaled that looming mountain,
wishing boldly you might follow
when you saw him without shame,
when at last you would depart
from all the fools who took your substance
for to find your newfound father
in the reaches of his fame.

and the prize that you rejected
might be luminous in glory,
as the honors are accepted
on the evening of your pride,
that no longer should you follow
in the footsteps of the foolish,
but instead you might rejoin him
for to celebrate his dreams.

and your heart will be unhardened
for the love you will be given
in the day you stand together
on the mountain of his splendor
on the peaks of your decision,
and the gateway to rebirth,
thanking countless newfound sisters
on a mountaintop of gold.

Copyright © 2007 by Andy Pope

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
A little bit goes a long, long way. 

 
 

A Song Called Him

There are going to be a few changes in the concept of this blog. Due to COVID-19, I’m receiving a lot of suggestions that I provide more piano music, and less of the other stuff. The reason for this is because Music has a way of getting people through hard times. Music can comfort and inspire in a way that mere words are not meant to do.

Words have their time and purpose. Many words have been comforting and inspiring, and have transformed the hearts of men and women throughout the history of this earth. But this is a time when largely, words fail me. I don’t know what to say about everything that’s happening. But I know that when I play my piano, I’m saying something to somebody — without even having to open my mouth.

So there will be more music, and it won’t always come towards the end of the week. I’ll try to keep to the Friday schedule, but I’ll also post on whim. It just seems to be the energy of this transition that we all share. I can’t explain why. It is something I feel in my heart.

I’m in the process of preparing a new piano piece.  It’s a song by the name of “Him.” No, it is not about Jesus. I was not a believer when I wrote the song. I wrote it when I was 19 years old, and it is part of the first musical I ever wrote. It’s interesting that its name is “Him,” but I did not become a Christian until I was thirty.

You’ll note that there won’t be a youtube video. The nice man named Tom who has been helping me is not going to gather with me at the church, nor am I going to that building to prepare the piece. There may not be videos for a while, because it’s a two person job for me at this stage, and I am only one person, sheltering in place.

In my apartment, however, I own an upright piano. It’s not of the quality of the Baldwin Grand, but it has its own flavor. You may hear background noise, and I’m pretty sure one of the keys just lost its tune. The piano is almost 100 years old.  But it will do the job.

Now, if you don’t believe in God, consider this.

About two years ago, I was given a free piano by a woman I hardly knew at the time. She was moving to a new house, owned three pianos, and could not fit them all in. She knew I was a piano player, so she asked me if she could give me a piano.

Prior to this time in my life, I have never owned a piano. Now, at the age of 67, I do. I not only got it for free, but she even paid for the movers to bring it over and place it where it sits right here in my house.

The piano was horribly out of tune. The next day, a 19 year old guy from Kansas happened to be passing through town. He stopped at my church to ask if there were a piano he could practice on. We said: “Sure!”

I then proceeded to hear an absolutely dazzling rendition of the Pathetique by Ludwig van Beethoven. So I approached the young man to query of his experience. He gave me his card, and it turned out he was a piano tuner.

I had previously called the local piano tuner. But he wouldn’t have been able to get to me for six more weeks. This guy not only tuned it, he gave me a 25% discount, and came back the next day for a touch-up. Then he went his way, as he was only passing through town.

So now I had a free piano, freely delivered — and actually freely tuned as well, since a friend of a friend then offered to pay for the tuning. Overjoyed, I sat down at the piano. Something immediately seemed familiar.

“I have played this piano before!” I exclaimed.  

But I hadn’t really — I had only played one of its kind:

Howard Baby Grand piano made by Baldwin 1916 | eBay

“My God!” I shouted. “This is the same piano that Dad had!”

Not the same, of course, since my father — the ragtime piano player, Dave Pope — had converted his vintage 1921 Howard piano built in Cincinnati to a player piano.  This new one did not have the player. But it felt the same.  And more importantly, it played the same.

So I sat down and joyfully played a song called “Him.”  For a song called “Him” was composed in 1972 on the spittin’ image of the 1921 Howard upright that I so mysteriously received in 2018.

Is there a God?  Maybe not.  Could it be coincidence?  Odds are astronomically against it.  What about the Universe?   Just another name for God.   Synchronicity?   A creation of God.  Manifestation?  Even the most powerful among us powerful human beings do not have that much power.  Besides, I never asked for it, never prayed for it, and never tried to manifest it.  It was just dropped in my lap.  I had absolutely nothing to do with the arrival of that piano.

“But why does it have to be God?”

Good question.  My answer?   “God” is just a word.   Words have meanings.  Ask ten people what the word God means?  You get ten different answers.  This is why a book was created – was manifested, if you will — by the Universal Spirit Being whom in English speaking countries we call “God.”

That book is the Word of God.  God is a Word.  “In the beginning,” says St. John, “was the Word.  And the Word was with God.  And the Word was God.”

And I have found that — unlike other gods — my God keeps His Word.

Now, please enjoy the music of the amazing Pathetique — at a time when every other word has failed me.  

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
A little bit goes a long, long way. 

 

Resolve

I did this one a few months ago, back in the good old days when I could still go to that church and hook up my rig with the tripod, and traverse the keys of that amazing Baldwin grand piano like there was no tomorrow. Sadly those days have been replaced by more difficult days, as we all know.

But anyway I am posting this medley of “Moon River” by Henry Mancini, “Wintertime Love” by Jim Morrison, and the old English version of the hymn “In the Bleak Midwinter.” I call it “Resolve.” It’s a cut on an album called Abandon. If you want a copy of the entire album after hearing this, hit me up and we’ll work something out.

Never did look at this video until tonight. I ripped it to mp3 at the time to stick it on the album, and for a reason that ought to be obvious to anyone who knows me, I only glanced peripherally at the video.

(By the way, if the reason isn’t as obvious I think it is, go ahead and tell me you think it is. If you’re right, maybe I can give you some kind of grand prize on my way to the bank, if and when.) Enjoy, folks.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
A little bit goes a long, long way. 

Dives and Lazarus

Somebody sent me this little gem last night.  It’s the old English ballad “Dives and Lazarus,” based on the story of the rich man and the beggar in Luke 16.   The tune is incidentally often heard in 3/4 time as the hornpipe, “Star of the County Down,” and in some hymnals it becomes “Canticle of the Turning.”  The violinist is my multi-talented friend, the late Paul Anders, whom you may have seen on other instruments on this site.  I’m not sure when we did this one, but I recall it was a beautiful night.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
A little bit goes a long, long way.