Episode 133: Brandy Station

l_58155_f808ae37This one is about the creative process, the listening to God, as I would put it; and also about the Peace of God, to bring about the reconciling of opposites in the healing of the world.

I was thinking about “Peace Train” by Cat Stevens, which put me in touch with Looking Glass, “Brandy”, not to mention “Brandy’s” follow-up (It’s wonderful, as you will hear.); not to mention the memorable garment worn by the lead singer of Looking Glass and that comfort-food voice which calmed all fear.

Why is it the music for PZ’s podcast that’s almost the most fun part? Probably because music abreacts the emotion behind the idea, every single time.

This cast touches on a darker theme, though: the conflictual element in theology, and the Total Cost of Total War. Christians need help on this one, some serious internecine help.

“Come with me,” again, “and take a Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.”

Episode 134: Pillar of Salt

Like the characters in Hammer Studio’s 1964 movie “The Gorgon”, we are all turning to stone. Or as the father of the nice painter put it in that terrific film, “I am t u r  n  i   n    g  to … ARGGHH…”

Here’s an antidote, by way of Kerouac, Isherwood (again), and the Death of Death in the Death of Christ.

A monistic both-and has probably got to be rooted in a dualistic either-or. At least in Christian theology it does. But the effect’s the thing.

Episode 135: Elevator

A sincere and faithful man once told me he was praying “against” something bad happening in relation to a situation that concerned him. Instantaneously when he said it, I thought of an old “Thriller” episode about voodoo, entitled “Papa Benjamin”.

But the man was not a practitioner of voodoo. He was a Christian of strong conviction.

I felt instinctively at the time, not that his prayer wouldn’t be answered; but rather, that his prayer couldn’t be answered. It felt too much like a conflict-prayer, a prayer for something to be removed (because he wanted it so), or somehow overridden. English prayer-warriors would have said “over-ruled”. I felt instinctively that his prayer presupposed a conflict, rather than an acceptance; a struggle, rather than a reconciliation. It did not feel like the Garden of Gethsemane, nor the ‘Ace of Base’ on Calvary.

This podcast is a study in prayer, something Mary and I have been thinking about a lot. It is also about relationships, and “trying to get people (we love) to fly right”.

We got a little help from our friends: The Belle Stars and The Trammps (I want to go to that place!).

Episode 136: Peaches La Verne

The La Verne Seminar, which took place in the mid-summer of 1941, would be for me a true “destination wedding”. What I mean is, of all the events in Twentieth-Century history to which I would like to travel, if I had the use of George Pal’s Time Machine, the La Verne Seminar of 1941 would be my personal destination.

It was a meeting of California mystics — from England! — who were trying out Quakerism as a last best hope among the Christian churches for personal and world renewal. And it was a meeting of East Coast Quakers, who were burned out on social service and required renewal for themselves, to keep on going.

The Holy Spirit came down on La Verne! It was a Church of the Brethren college, sitting then among orange groves near Los Angeles. Wisdom of the deepest sort (such as Gerald Heard’s maxim, “We can judge nobody: life is sailed under a sealed handicap.”), combined with self-knowledge and confession in a non-compartmentalized quality, combined with inter-personal love in a credible and persuasive expression: everything came together at La Verne. (Can barely believe I just wrote that.)

Come with me, and by the way, let the Supremes take you there: “Up the Ladder to the Roof”.

Episode 137: Hero of the War

This is an exegesis of personal pacifism, book-ended by Rod McKuen and Scott Walker. Walker’s contribution actually preceded McKuen’s by almost two years.

How does a person make an ethical or moral decision that is not dictated by the attitudes of others but really comes from a place of freedom? The question is “Urgent” (Foreigner) because fashions of thinking are changing all the time, and the popularity of an anti-war position in one period can shift almost completely, in another period, to an attitude of militarism. Something about ideology seems inherently unstable.

That’s why you’ve got to decide the big issues for yourself. Tolstoy made a life-long decision about something important as he witnessed a public execution in France. I made one after I read about a United States Air Force officer making a high-altitude bombing run over Kosovo, then returning to his Mid-Western base and picking up a pizza for his family — on the way home from work! Everything just fell into place for me when I read that.

Oh, and there are two mistakes in the cast, but really only one real one: The John Lennon performance is in “Oh! What a Lovely War.” And Euripides, not Sophocles, wrote “The Trojan Women”.