Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Ain't talkin' yet!

Today I’m glad to have Dylan around! Remember this; he’s your servant both night and day. As I continue listening to his new album, I’m becoming extra nostalgic and hope sincerely that some sweet day I'll stand the strain with Dylan along side our king…

more to come, ron

Monday, August 28, 2006

B.D. Here!

Finally! It’s here! If you need me, I’ll be listening to Bob Dylan’s new album, Modern Times for the next several days. When I come back to the blog, the Lord willing, I’ll give you my read on it.

treasure, ron

Monday, August 14, 2006

Dylan Update!

Michael Gray dropped me the following e-mail...

Dear Rev Ron,

Thanks for your enthusiastic splash about The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia on your blog. And if you can indeed attend my event at Magers & Quinn on the last day of this month, then please don't just loiter at the back - come and say hello!

Kind regards
Michael Gray

FYI: Here’s the Minneapolis update:

Thurs Aug 31, 7pm: Magers & Quinn, Minneapolis
MNtalk: ‘The A-Z of Bob Dylan’
3038 Hennepin Avenue South
Minneapolis MN 55408tel: 612-822-4611

BTW: Columbia Records have invited me to a listening party for Bob Dylan's forthcoming album, Modern Times – to hear selections from the album, while snacking on free food and beverages.

Listening parties will be held in the following locations:

Philly -- Sun, 8/20 -- 7pm
Chicago -- Mon, 8/21 -- 7pm
San Francisco -- Mon, 8/21 -- 630pm
Los Angeles -- Mon, 8/21 -- 7pm
Austin -- Mon, 8/21 -- 7pm
New York -- Tue, 8/22 -- 7pm
Minneapolis -- Tue, 8/22 -- 7pm
Boston -- Wed, 8/23 -- 7pm
Seattle -- Thurs, 8/24 -- 7pm


enjoy, ron

Friday, August 11, 2006

Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man!

Hallelujah” was my introduction to Leonard Cohen’s world of poetic song. His voice and lyrics mystically combined to capture my attention and fondness. Although Cohen is not a born from above Christian, he is a kindred soul in his search for truth. At 72 now, I continue to pray that he will come to the One who is Truth for good!

At any rate , last week I found a little time to view a moving and insightful documentary about Cohen. For the most part, I was enthralled with its mellifluous simplicity. Popular musical performance and poetic profundity often make for ambivalent partners. Somewhere in the documentary, U2’s Bono says something like: “Leonard Cohen came along and demonstrated how you could get the biggest questions to fit into the proportions of a pop song.” That just about says it all. At the heart of the film is footage from a concert held in Australia with such outstanding and unusual artists as Nick Cave, Beth Orton, Rufus Wainwright, and the Handsome Family covering such Cohen classics as “Suzanne,” “Sisters of Mercy,” “Anthem,” “If It Be Your Will,” and “Tower of Song.” Old footage of Cohen’s youth in Canada supplies emotionally resonant visual imagery. The interviews are succinct and revelatory - in addition to Bono, we hear from a variety of commentators, including Hal Wilner, who organized the concert, and the ever-thoughtful Nick Cave. And then there is the figure of Cohen himself: suave yet humble, serious but wry, a man of many parts. By the end of the documentary, when Cohen performs “Tower of Song” along with U2, you may find it hard to keep your eyes entirely dry. This documentary is the first film by Lian Lunson and it is an auspicious beginning indeed.

If you live near a large city, check your local listings and see this documentary in the movie theater as I did last week. Such a viewing will get the full effect of the concert footage. Anchored firmly in this world, Cohen’s imagination has always seen our life sub specie aeternitatis. As he says in “Anthem”: “There’s a crack... a crack in everything... that’s how the light gets in.” Poet, novelist, songwriter, sometime Zen monk, Judeo-Christian forager of the mysteries of the pilgrim life, Cohen is definitely your man.

The film’s official website can be found here.
Buy the soundtrack here.
Leonard Cohen from Wikipedia click here.
Bird on a Wire: Cohen’s home page.

Cohen quote: What is a saint? A saint is someone who has achieved a remote human possibility. It is impossible to say what that possibility is. I think it has something to do with the energy of love. Contact with this energy results in the exercise of a kind of balance in the chaos of existence. A saint does not dissolve the chaos; if he did the world would have changed long ago. I do not think that a saint dissolves the chaos even for himself, for there is something arrogant and warlike in the notion of a man setting the universe in order. It is a kind of balance that is his glory. He rides the drifts like an escaped ski. His course is the caress of the hill. His track is a drawing of the snow in a moment of its particular arrangement with wind and rock. Something in him so loves the world that he gives himself to the laws of gravity and chance. Far from flying with the angels, he traces with the fidelity of a seismograph needle the state of the solid bloody landscape. His house is dangerous and finite, but he is at home in the world. He can love the shape of human beings, the fine and twisted shapes of the heart. It is good to have among us such men, such balancing monsters of love. - L. Cohen, Beautiful Losers (1966)

enjoy, ron

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Marriage & the Public Good: The Princeton Principles!

The Witherspoon Institute has published online the document, Marriage and the Public Good: Ten Principles. Here's what The Princeton Principles website says about the document:

The "Ten Principles on Marriage and the Public Good" are the result of scholarly discussions that began in December, 2004 at a meeting in Princeton, New Jersey, sponsored by the Witherspoon Institute. This conference brought together scholars from History, Economics, Psychiatry, Law, Sociology and Philosophy to share with each other the findings of their research on why marriage is in the public interest. A consensus developed for sharing the fruit of their collaboration more widely.

The Witherspoon Institute is an independent research center located in Princeton, New Jersey. It is not connected to Princeton University, Princeton Theological Seminary, The Center for Theological Inquiry, or the Institute for Advanced Study.

You can read the document in its entirety here. The document's signatories may be found here. The document's executive summary follows.

In recent years, marriage has weakened, with serious negative consequences for society as a whole. Four developments are especially troubling: divorce, illegitimacy, cohabitation, and same-sex marriage.

The purpose of this document is to make a substantial new contribution to the public debate over marriage. Too often, the rational case for marriage is not made at all or not made very well. As scholars, we are persuaded that the case for marriage can be made and won at the level of reason. Marriage protects children, men and women, and the common good. The health of marriage is particularly important in a free society, which depends upon citizens to govern their private lives and rear their children responsibly, so as to limit the scope, size, and power of the state. The nation's retreat from marriage has been particularly consequential for our society's most vulnerable communities: minorities and the poor pay a disproportionately heavy price when marriage declines in their communities. Marriage also offers men and women as spouses a good they can have in no other way: a mutual and complete giving of the self. Thus, marriage understood as the enduring union of husband and wife is both a good in itself and also advances the public interest.

We affirm the following ten principles that summarize the value of marriage- a choice that most people want to make, and that society should endorse and support.

Ten Principles on Marriage and the Public Good:

1. Marriage is a personal union, intended for the whole of life, of husband and wife.
2. Marriage is a profound human good, elevating and perfecting our social and sexual nature.
3. Ordinarily, both men and women who marry are better off as a result.
4. Marriage protects and promotes the wellbeing of children.
5. Marriage sustains civil society and promotes the common good.
6. Marriage is a wealth-creating institution, increasing human and social capital.
7. When marriage weakens, the equality gap widens, as children suffer from the disadvantages of growing up in homes without committed mothers and fathers.
8. A functioning marriage culture serves to protect political liberty and foster limited government.
9. The laws that govern marriage matter significantly.
10. "Civil marriage" and "religious marriage" cannot be rigidly or completely divorced from one another.

This understanding of marriage is not narrowly religious, but the cross-cultural fruit of broad human experience and reflection, and supported by considerable social science evidence. But a marriage culture cannot flourish in a society whose primary institutions-universities, courts, legislatures, religions-not only fail to defend marriage but actually undermine it both conceptually and in practice.

Creating a marriage culture is not the job for government. Families, religious communities, and civic institutions-along with intellectual, moral, religious, and artistic leaders-point the way. But law and public policy will either reinforce and support these goals or undermine them. We call upon our nation's leaders, and our fellow citizens, to support public policies that strengthen marriage as a social institution including:

1. Protect the public understanding of marriage as the union of one man with one woman as husband and wife.
2. Investigate divorce law reforms.
3. End marriage penalties for low-income Americans.
4. Protect and expand pro-child and pro-family provisions in our tax code.
5. Protect the interests of children from the fertility industry.

Families, religious communities, community organizations, and public policymakers must work together towards a great goal: strengthening marriage so that each year more children are raised by their own mother and father in loving, lasting marital unions. The future of the American experiment depends on it. And our children deserve nothing less.

enjoy, ron

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Dylan Encyclopedia!

The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia is off the press and coming to my home town via its author, Michael Gray. Richard Corliss of Time says this book: “has all you need to know, and more” with regard to everyone and everything interconnecting with one of our greatest living artists: Bob Dylan. Gray’s work is the culmination of 30 years of research. The New York Review of Books says Gray is “probably Dylan’s most assiduous critic.” Click on this recent conversation with Michael Gray where he briefly reflects on the writing of the Encyclopedia and recalls a few of his first impressions of Dylan.

The book sellers web-site boasts the following description and more: “The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia is one of the most wide-ranging, informed, entertaining, provocative, and compulsively readable books ever written about popular music.”

It's the culmination of over thirty years of dedicated research and scholarship by Michael Gray. Over the course of 823 pages Gray considers everything from railroad imagery in Dylan's songs to his use of nursery rhymes, covering the topics thoughtfully and thoroughly. It's a world of ideas, facts, and opinions in which everyone and everything interconnects, in endlessly fascinating ways, with one of our greatest living artists: Bob Dylan. Plus, 100 b&w illustrations.

So if you happen to be in Minneapolis, MN on August 31, 2006 with a little time on your hands, why not stop by Magers and Quinn Booksellers at 3038 Hennepin Avenue South around 7 pm for a listen. The event will feature one of three multi-media, Bob Dylan-centric presentations: Bob Dylan and the Blues, Bob Dylan and the History of Rock’n’Roll, or Bob Dylan: A-Z. I understand that Mr. Gray is a charismatic and charming speaker. Look for me in the back of the crowd!

The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia by Michael Gray
Pub Date: 21 May 2006
ISBN: 0826469337
Hardcover, 784 Pages, $40.00

Amazon.com: List Price: $40.00 Price: $25.20 & this item ships for FREE with Super Saver.. You Save: $14.80 (37%)

Note: As Bob readies Modern Times for release (pre-ordered DVD today), and kicks off the next leg of the Neverending Tour, the book is already out of date, so I presume we can expect a second edition in a couple of years. Given Gray's track record on new editions it might be wise to start saving now for the 2nd edition of this excellent book.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

I've Found It!

When it comes to mathematicians, Archimedes was the greatest! He’s right up there with Isaac Newton and Carl Friedrich Gauss. The son of an astronomer, Archimedes was born around 290 BC in the Sicilian city of Syracuse.

Archimedes worked in practically every area of mathematics. His bathtub study of buoyancy is the foundation of modern hydrostatics. The story behind the study goes as follows:

It seems that King Hiero had commissioned a new royal crown for which he provided solid gold to the goldsmith. When the crown arrived, however, King Hiero was suspicious that the wily goldsmith only used a bit of the gold, kept the rest for himself and added silver or lead to make the crown the correct weight. Archimedes was asked to determine whether or not the crown was pure gold without harming it in the process. Archimedes was perplexed but found the needed inspiration while enjoying a stress relieving bath. He noticed that the full bath overflowed when he lowered himself into it, and suddenly grasped that he could measure the crown's volume by the amount of water it displaced. Instantly he knew that since he could measure the crown's volume, all he had to do was discover its weight in order to calculate its density and hence its purity. Archimedes was so exuberant about his discovery that he riotously ran down the streets of Syracuse naked shouting, "Eureka!" which meant "I've found it!" in Greek.

Click here to see the illustrated version of the "Eureka" story, drawn by Kal, noted illustrator and cartoonist for the Baltimore Sun.

FYI: Over the past 11 days, according to KnowledgeNews, Discovery of the Week report, scientists at Stanford University's Linear Accelerator Center have been using powerful X-rays to read as many as 15 pages of Archimedes' work that no one has read in nearly 800 years. A medieval monk, not realizing that he had in his hands the only known copy of several of Archimedes' texts, erased the one-of-a-kind pages around the year 1229. He scraped off the ink, cut the parchment in two, and used it to record prayers. Some 20th-century forgers later erased more pages, when they painted over them to make the manuscript look more valuable.

Despite this mathematical mutilation, the scientists' X-rays - a million times more powerful than the ones used to see your bones - can still illuminate what's left of the ancient ink. The technique is called X-ray fluorescence, and scientists say that it's allowing us to re-read "one of the greatest figures of western civilization."

enjoy, ron

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Election of Grace!

The ground of election to salvation is the good pleasure of God (Eph. 1:5, 11; Matt. 11:25, 26; John 15:16, 19). God claims the right so to do (Rom. 9:16, 21).

It is not conditioned on faith or repentance, but is of sovereign grace (Rom. 11:4-6; Eph. 1:3-6). All that pertain to salvation, the means (Eph. 2:8; 2 Thess. 2:13) as well as the end, are of God (Acts 5:31; 2 Tim. 2:25; 1 Cor. 1:30; Eph. 2:5, 10). Faith and repentance and all other graces are the exercises of a regenerated soul; and regeneration is God's work, a "new creature."

Humankind are elected "to salvation," "to the adoption of sons," "to be holy and without blame before him in love" (2 Thess. 2:13; Gal. 4:4, 5; Eph. 1:4). The ultimate end of election is the praise of God's grace (Eph. 1:6, 12).

“Union between Christ and his people was planned already in eternity, in the sovereign pretemporal decision whereby God the Father selected us as his own. Christ himself was chosen to be our Savior before the creation of the world (1 Pet. 1:20); Ephesians 1:4 teaches us that when the Father chose Christ, he also chose us.” - Anthony Hoekema

The election of grace is the eternal beginning of all the ways and works of God in Jesus Christ. In Jesus Christ God in his free grace determines himself for sinful man and sinful man for himself. He therefore takes upon himself the rejection of man with all its consequences, and elects man to participation in his own glory.” - Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics II/2, p. 94.

Election is the unchangeable purpose of God, whereby, before the foundation of the world, He has out of mere grace, according to the sovereign good pleasure of His own will, chosen from the whole human race, which had fallen through their own fault from the primitive state of rectitude into sin and destruction, a certain number of persons to redemption in Christ, whom He from eternity appointed the Mediator and Head of the elect and the foundation of salvation. This elect number, though by nature neither better nor more deserving than others, but with them involved in one common misery, God has decreed to give to Christ to be saved by Him, and effectually to call and draw them to His communion by His Word and Spirit; to bestow upon them true faith, justification, and sanctification; and having powerfully preserved them in the fellowship of His son, finally to glorify them for the demonstration of His mercy, and for the praise of the riches of His glorious grace; as it is written "For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will--to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves." (Eph 1:4-6). And elsewhere: "And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified." (Rom 8:30). - Canons of Dort (1619). First Head: Article 7

enjoy, ron

Friday, August 04, 2006

Barth & Dylan again!

Interestingly, David Williamson and I have a few things in common. Both of us have a fondness for Karl Barth and Bob Dylan. Recently, with the imminent release of the first Bob Dylan album (Modern Times) in half a decade, Williamson posted a insightful and witty little chitchat on Bob Dylan’s music.

Additionally, artistically (not necessarily theologically) he has created a short film (5-minute) about Karl Barth and the women in his life. When you click, be patient; the file is 12MB, the short delay is worth the wait.

BTW: The tracklisting for 'Modern Times' is:

'Thunder On The Mountain'
'Spirit On The Water'
'Rollin' And Tumblin''
'When The Deal Goes Down"
'Someday Baby'
'Workingman's Blues #2'
'Beyond The Horizon'
'Nettie Moore'
'The Levee's Gonna Break'
'Ain't Talkin''

enjoy, ron


Postmodern-for-certaintly-not! One of the core doctrines of the confused, culture-driven, modern Church is the philosophy of alleged postmodernism with its assertion that truth cannot be known with certainty. But here is what the Lord says of His true sheep:

"Now they have come to know that everything You have given Me is from You; for the Words which You gave Me I have given to them; and they received them and truly understood that I came forth from You, and they believed that You sent Me." (NASB, John 17:7-8)

enjoy, ron

Rain Down!

While surfing the web for something up-to-the-minute in the Christian ghetto, I happened on this new money-maker, the "Jesus Reigns" umbrella complete with fish symbol. Someone out there in the web-rain suggested that this might come in handy at the upcoming Downpour conference with Beth Moore and Friends.

enjoy, ron