Saturday, February 14, 2009

Jesus Blood Never Failed Me Yet

I've been listening to some of the last Religion Reports aired over summer. They were replays of John Cleary interviews from Sunday Nights. I highly recommend you read the interview with John Lennox - he suggests the best and most intelligent response I have ever heard to the silly question "asked by school boys and Russian scientiests": "Who made God?"

Two other interviews are on the opposite end of the scale for intellectual satisfaction (in fact, I would love to see either of them go a few rounds with Lennox): one with sociologist Hugh Mackay - who seems to have received the remarkable revelation that Love is God, and God is within all of us; and the other with the founder of the Movement for the Ordination of Women in the Australian Anglican Church, Dr Patricia Brennan.

Nevertheless, at the end of the Brennan interview is this remarkable piece of music that I have never heard before, but appears to have been around for ages. You can read the story about it here, but you can listen to it right here:


At Sunday, February 15, 2009 2:06:00 am , Blogger Ttony said...

The CD is in front of me now: the piece is in 5 movements and a coda: this is the last part. It's a marmite piece: you either love it or hate it; I love it. I find it incredibly useful as an aid to prayer, as it invades my conscious mind and turns off distractions; my wife thinks it is tuneless, unmusical, drivel.

The musical conceit: that here is an endless loop of a tramp singing the verse of an evangelical hymn and Gavin Bryars has written a set of variations around it, culminating in one which features another voice - Tom Waits' - behind the tramp's works really well.

In fact I'll put it on now!

At Sunday, February 15, 2009 2:16:00 am , Blogger Ttony said...

Look here.

At Sunday, February 15, 2009 8:22:00 am , Blogger Schütz said...

I just played it to my wife and got much the same reaction. But it moves me to tears. I wonder what it is about it.

And here in Oz, we have vegemite. And believe me, that is even more of an aquired taste than Marmite.

At Sunday, February 15, 2009 1:14:00 pm , Blogger Paul said...

Hi David, thank you for the links to these stories. For what it is worth, I had a couple of thoughts on them:

- it is an obvious comment to compare Hugh Mackay's thoughts to those of Fr Peter Kennedy and his supporters in South Brisbane. They both say God is the love in each of us, and a distant, guiding spirit. Maybe there is a grain of truth in this, and it is a comfort to people sometimes. For example, when we have an official memorial service for the people affected by the bushfire tragedy in Victoria, there will be lots of appeals to the courage of the firefighters and prayers to "god out there" to comfort the victims and survivors.

But the Church, in passing on the Gospel of Jesus, says there is a lot more than this. God's grace is available to us in the sacraments, and He offers real hope to everyone, victim or survivor. Fr Kennedy constantly talks about dysfunctional families and broken people, but the Gospel offers healing so we don't have to remain broken and dysfunctional. This message is shocking and surprising, but it needs to be said. It also requires us to listen to the intellectual rigor of John Lennox (and indeed, of Pope Benedict).

- I can see that the chant "Jesus' blood never failed me yet" is affecting, and I certainly would not want to belittle it or the singer in any way. However, is there a little bit of condescension towards the "tramp" here? I have been fortunate to meet a 94-year-old over the past couple of years who lives alone in a housing commission flat. He doen't have much money, but he is blessed with good health and an active mind, and, more importantly, he is a faithful Catholic who receives the sacraments regularly and does apostolic work. He is constantly cheerful and it is always a pleasure to meet him. When people see him for the first time, they think of him as a "poor old man", but I have found him to be a great teacher and an inspiration. And although he has had many ups and downs in his life, I would never describe him as "dysfunctional" or "broken". Far from it.

At Sunday, February 15, 2009 2:23:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

Condescension? Maybe. Not for me though. When I listen to this man singing, I have a sense of his incredible dignity before God - a dignity of which he is aware and which is totally based on God's love for him, which has "never failed him yet". I also tend to identify a little with the singer - I too am a beggar, but I have a treasure beyond all treasure's in Christ.

Regarding the appeal to the God "within" - I just find it plays to the Zeitgeist. The God within is always an affirming God - never a God who can hold me accountable, to whom I must answer for the way I live.

It is also based on a misreading of Luke 17:21. It does not read "the Kingdom of God is inside you". The "you" is plural, not singular. The RSV translates it right "The kingdom of God is in the midst of you". Jesus is referring to himself and his presence among his disciples. Where Jesus is, there is the Kingdom. We we gather in his name, there is the Kingdom.

At Monday, February 16, 2009 9:08:00 am , Anonymous matthias said...

I went onto You Tube yesterday and managed to get an audio of the elderly gentleman's singing.I wonder if Gavin Bryars gave any royalties to assist homeless people or if he tried to locate this gentleman to give him royalties.
Talking about England's homeless, when the Anglican antiwar campaigner Canon Dick Shepherd died in the mid 1930s' ,as his funeral cortege passed the London docks all the tug boat crews came up on deck and took their caps off and stood silently. One man coming back from the funeral saw a group of homeless men busking and he gave them some money,and said it was a tribute to his friend Dick Shepherd,with that one of the men burst into tears.

At Tuesday, February 17, 2009 5:31:00 am , Blogger Ttony said...

Matthias: I don't think it's any of our business what Gavin Bryars did or didn't do with his royalties.

Paul: not condescension; more a sense of awe that God makes wounded, isolated humans who live outside society (like this week's lepers OT, or what happened to Him Himself after He had cured the leper) his mouthpieces.

At Wednesday, February 18, 2009 1:03:00 pm , Blogger Adamgv said...

Check out this new Christian band that just released their first album. From what I heard on the samples site, they sound really good.

Introducing the new Christian National Anthem: Guns & Jesus.

Tell All!!!


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