January 23, 2009

Friday in the wild: January 23, 2009

Some months ago, I switched my primary operating system from Windows XP to Ubuntu Linux. I had been wanting to do this for a while, but support for wireless networking in Linux has been somewhat limited. My ancient SMC USB adaptor is not supported, which was a show-stopper for the better part of a year. Finally, I broke down and bought a Zyxel USB dongle, which by contrast is so well supported by Linux that it was downloading pr0n and illegal MP3s while I still had my nose in the "Getting Started" booklet. Ironically, while the Internet works like a dream under Linux, it stopped working under Windows. I finally managed to troubleshoot the issue, but that meant spending the better part of last weekend performing some much-needed software downloads and maintenance. So this week's Friday in the Wild covers the past two weeks of bloggy goodness.

Two weekends ago, a number of cities in Canada, most notably Montreal and Toronto, were home to some rather disgusting displays of anti-Semitism, in the form of pro-Hamas supporters waving swastikas around and the like. Ezra Levant applied the "broken-window theory" to explain why these public displays of bigotry are becoming more common in Canada:

Look at the faces of the young men (and some of the young women). They're acting up. They're in Canada, and they know it's a tolerant, easy-going, multi-ethnic country. Most of them probably work or study in environments where there is some peer pressure to behave - to be polite; to be moderate; certainly to limit one's expressions of bigotry, whether in the form of flying a terrorist flag, or in the form of calling for the death of a Jewish child.

But, together, in the face (literally, in the face!) of police, all of these socially transgressive behaviours are being tried out.

And there's no push-back.

There's no negative reaction.

[Read Applying the "broken windows" theory to anti-Semitic rallies]

Steve Camp has always been known for his vocal opposition to trite "Jesus is my boyfriend" praise songs. In a recent post he took on the trend of covering secular tunes as though they were addressed to Jesus:

Past secular hits are currently being sung to represent our Lord Jesus Christ; and they are nothing more than “God as my girlfriend songs.” Some examples are: “Bridge Over Troubled Waters”; “Free Ride”; “Love is the Answer”; “You Raise Me Up”; “Love Lifted Us Up Where We Belong”; “If I Ever Lose My Faith In You”; “Maybe I’m Amazed”; “Because You Loved Me”; “Everlasting Love”; “In The Air Tonight”; “I Want to Know What Love Is”; “I Believe I Can Fly”; etc. Parroting what one Christian radio network likes to say, "Boring, for the whole family." Taking past secular hits and changing the original meaning of the song to now make it seem as if they're about Jesus because a Christian happens to be singing it is ludicrous. It not only violates the "original intent" of the meaning of the song by its author; but it is just as foolish as if some CCM artist recorded a remake of the great Beatles classic, "Hey Jude", and then tried to spiritually justify it by saying it is about the little epistle before the book of Revelation. Could you imagine if some secular artist took "Amazing Grace" and said it was about a female seductress? The Christian community would be up in arms... and rightly so. But why is Christian radio and the CBA (Christian Booksellers Assoc.) so accepting of these poorly done "covers" of classic pop hits passed off as legitimate representations of Christianity?

[Read Let the Redeemed People of God Say So - But Let It Be a New Song We Sing]

So I guess Steve wouldn't be so fond of "You Spin Me Round Jesus." As Hank Hill once said, this doesn't make Christianity better, it makes rock and roll worse. (Rick Pino gets the awards for silliest hairstyle and the worst overuse of the phrase "in this place.")

Jeremy Pierce at Parableman has an interesting analysis of the diversity of Barack Obama's cabinet as compared to previous administrations'.

And speaking of the apotheosis inauguration of Barack Obama, David Heddle has a brief and interesting take on the new President's do-over of the inaugural oath:

Should I ever become President, I would announce this: Because I am a Christian, I will not take the oath of office with one hand on the bible. The doctrine of my faith informs me that to do so is a meaningless gesture. Let my yes mean yes.

[Read Obama Does it Right]

Thanks to Good Brownie, I was directed to an article in the New York Times about Charles Schulz' use of Beethoven in Peanuts:

When Schroeder pounded on his piano, his eyes clenched in a trance, the notes floating above his head were no random ink spots dropped into the key of G. Schulz carefully chose each snatch of music he drew and transcribed the notes from the score. More than an illustration, the music was a soundtrack to the strip, introducing the characters’ state of emotion, prompting one of them to ask a question or punctuating an interaction.

[Read Listening to Schroeder: "Peanuts" Scholars Find Messages in Cartoon's Scores]

Beethoven is my favourite composer, too. If it weren't for Schroeder and Peanuts (and to a lesser extent that "dunh-dunh-dunh-DUUNNHH" bit), that probably wouldn't be the case.

Finally, Fred Sanders of The Scriptorium Daily reminds us that today is poet John Donne's birthday (his 437th, to be precise). As Beethoven is my favourite composer, so Donne is my favourite poet - and, having once been told by one of my professors that I had no business being in an English degree program because of my antipathy toward poetry, that's saying something. Fred notes that Donne was as gifted a preacher as he was a poet, and that the doctrine of the Trinity was central to his preaching. So, until next week, Faithful Reader, I'll close this post with one of Donne's best-known verses, Holy Sonnet XIV, which is a fusion of verse and Trinitarian theology:

Batter my heart, three-personed God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurped town, to another due,
Labour to admit you, but Oh, to no end.
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
But am betrothed unto your enemy:
Divorce me, untie or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.