Sunday, April 29, 2012

new word

Ever heard of "glossolalia" before? I congregate with folk who do this fairly frequently. It does not impress me. In stark contrast, what first captured my imagination and my heart about Ethiopia was the sound of their language. Though I did not "understand" the words I could feel a depth of expression, a love of life, of fun, of beauty, of diversity, of gentility. I knew that others could and it ignited my curiosity, my fervor. just sayin' Update .... I ran across some words of Paul on this same subject ... He is not exactly my favourite apostle, and he is more diplomatic, but seems to have very similar opinion to mine .... "For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God. Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit. But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort. He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself but he who prophesies edifies the church. I would like every one of you to speak in tongues but I would rather have you prophesy. He who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues..." 1 Corinthians 145: 1-5

Thursday, April 26, 2012

religion and schools

Last Saturday the gospel choir from a local college came to our little church to perform. The concert had been publicized but attendance was pretty low, made up only of our church members and a couple of family members of the choir. We were simply blown away with the enthusiasm and pure energy of the group. We all had so much fun in fact that they did not want to ever stop singing, the tunes just went on and on and on. Now like many churches these days, we are set up to record services and we were able to get everything onto digital media. I have had a chance to listen to the disks a couple of times since then. I enjoyed the choir very much. They had practiced some syncopated numbers. Sometimes they divided into three sets of voices. At other times, one or another soloist would sing with the choir acting as backup. Their timing was masterful and full of delightful surprises. Some of the selections were based on spirituals that are familiar to me but others seemed to be new music, perhaps written by the choir leaders themselves. In a few cases voices were made to make instrumental-like sounds quite unfamiliar to traditional singing and quite exhilarating. In re-listening to the music, however, there was another aspect which stood out to me. For most of the songs I was able to make out most or all of the words, their singing enunciation was excellent. However the words themselves might have been the words of elementary school kids, or at least what I remember of elementary school kids. Look at Jane. See Jane run. Run, run, run. That level of brilliance. For this, they are paying, what, $30,000 a year for tuition? Such a deal! Now I already know this is happening. I have observed how cell phones have been ubiquitous and texting almost as much so. I have overheard many thousands of conversations and commentary about such conversations and the overwhelming substance of the content appears to be surpassingly inane. Now I may be biased because I do have never owned a cell phone and see no reason whatever to change that aspect of my life. But I overhear conversations such as, in the grocery store, "Okay, I'm in the vegetable aisle, I am picking up a can of peas." or on the train, "Okay we are passing Rockville, I will be in the office in about 15 minutes." "Now twelve minutes." "I love you, don't forget to eat your oatmeal." Really provocative stuff. When I look at the ads on Craig's List, I come away with pretty much the same conclusion. The great majority of posters are functionally illiterate, unable to discern between "its" and "it's" or even "to", "too", and "two". Furthermore, none of them show any originality of thought whatsoever. Clarity and originality are absolutely unheard of. It does appear that all of those conservatives who are so insistent that immigrants speak English, are in grave danger. Very few Americans can even speak or write English anymore, or anything at all beyond grunts and moans and sighs. If we write laws which require English, a large portion of our own society is going to have to leave. On second thought, that might not be so bad ....