Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Lenten Reflections, 2007 (Updated 2008)

[Another repost, this time from last year about this time.]

This year I have not been all that disciplined in a Lenten observance, but even without my intention or permission the Lord sometimes reaches out and gets my attention. Someone on the radio this morning mentioned that it was a year ago that the country received...let's call it a nudge, from it's immigrant population. Starting some time in March and culminating the first of May the country saw the most impressive public demonstrations that have happened in my lifetime, including those of the Civil Rights era. Far more people, more widespread and throughout the entire social spectrum...getting the attention of everyone, from those just at the edge of taking part to their adversaries who got all bent because these criminals, these lawbreakers, these invaders actually had the nerve to show their undocumented faces and act as though they were supposed to be respected as human beings. Cheeky, insolent, ungrateful people...coming over our border to have babies and suck the life out of our wonderful, otherwise exemplary social welfare infrastructure.

'Scuse me. Sometimes sarcasm just comes up in this ugly keyboard and jumps out before I can put a stop to it.

Anyway, I have been led to look for some inspiring music videos on You Tube to help me calm down. I found two that I am embedding and a link to another that cannot be embedded by the request of the source. I looked at a good many this Saturday morning and these are three I settled on.

Michael W. Smith, the gifted composing giant of contemporary (charismatic?) Christian music, has produced an impressive volume of original music. Much of it, like most modern pop music, tends to be repetitious, even boring to hear. But so does the music of Philip Glass for the unprepared listener. [When you're done here, go play with his online Glass Engine...his is a fun site to navigate.] And how may people could listen to more than one or two tracks from a complete collection of the Well-Tempered Clavier without falling asleep if they had not been schooled to appreciate a fugue? If Smith's music cannot reach you, that's okay. One day it may.

The first video is simply a slide show of scenes from Europe set to a background soundtrack of Michael W. Smith's Agnus Dei. All I could think about as I watched and listened was: How can anyone imagine that waging war is any way to be desired to waging peace? History shows us that wars are part of the ugliness of collective human behavior, that whenever that behavior surfaces it defiles even the most sacred of places and causes even people of piety to stuff their better impulses deep into their subconscious or at least hide them from others lest they be seen as unpatriotic at best, treasonous at worst. There can be no way that God needs or wants his children to be at war with one another.

Remembering how many ways the Mass has been realized musically all over the world in many cultures, and recalling the immigrant upsurge and the reaction it provoked last year, I thought of the Misa Criolla of Ariel Ramirez I heard many years ago just a few years after it was composed. The memory of it never left. You Tube has a variety of Ramirez' music and I picked this one from the lot. [This year, 2008, a video is available for embedding. Added below.] And again, as I watched the slide show and listened to the music, I had the same thoughts about waging peace against waging war.

The richness of the Latino culture can and will be a proud addition to everything we call American. Heck, they don't call it SOUTH America for nothing, do they? Watch, listen and be open to what is happening. If the exercise makes you a little uncomfortable, that's okay. And if it makes you uncomfortable to the point of anger, hit the stop button and move on.

For me, putting this post together has been one of the most satisfying exercises I have allowed myself to enjoy this week.

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