In his book Slam, Nick Hornby mentions the singer Rufus Wainwright. I hadn’t heard of Wainwright, but when I looked him up, I found that I had heard him, oddly enough, in the soundtrack to Shrek. However, the song Wainwright sings on the Shrek soundtrack is a song by Leonard Cohen. It’s “Hallelujah” and has been performed by dozens of musicians (including a rather dreadful version by Bono). This song has something of religion in it. It mentions David, refers to Samson and of course the chorus is Hallelujah.

Cohen wrote a lot of verses to this song. Artists pick and choose. Some leave out the David passage, but it’s beautiful poetry:

Now I’ve heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don’t really care for music, do you?

It goes like this
The fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah.

Ok, that’s enough from me. Listen to the song.

Local fun

For years I lived within 2 hrs. of the Jack Daniel’s distillery and didn’t take the tour. Whiskey is ok, but I just didn’t see how the tour could be very interesting. Then I went, and it was great fun. Lynchburg is a nice small town and the people who give the tour like their jobs.

Now I live near Century Farms Winery, and it’s a good tour too. I wasn’t expecting much, honestly, but it was a pretty weekend and it was a new place to me, and it made for a great trip.

Muscadines right off the vine, beautiful roses, a HARD working family making wine on a farm that has been in use for 150 years, and a great tour of the vineyard and some good wine to sample: time well spent. The kids even learned a little something and didn’t get bored.

Then we followed it up with a visit to a restaurant and shops we’d never visited. Artopia is in Jackson, in a building that was a hotel decades ago, then a boarding house, and then a planned children’s museum that got scrapped when “the tornado” hit it. But someone saw fit to fix it up and there are lots of small shops in it, as well as a decent restaurant, Cafe Capone. We had chicken parmesan, some great veggies and salads and dessert for the price of a Burger King meal.

So, all within easy distance of where I live there were places that were relaxing and enjoyable. I wonder what other places I’m missing?

Red, red wine.

There doesn’t seem to be much discussion about alcohol on the blogs, even the Christian ones. I have teetotaling friends and moderate drinker friends. The church I am part of encourages AA and Alanon groups to use our facilities for meetings.

When I first moved back to the rural West Tennessee area I now live in, a fellow church member invited our family over to their home. She couldn’t figure out how to ask if we’d like beer or wine. She had made a similar statement to another member of the church and had been judged pretty harshly for suggesting such a thing.

Our pastor at the time did not drink until his children had gone to college. Not because he was ashamed of it, but because he wanted them to know it just wasn’t that important.

I like wine. I like beer, I even like a shot of whiskey now and again. That’s not very Methodist of me, in terms of what the Book of Discipline says. I suppose I should dislike it as much as I dislike the lottery that Tennessee now has.

Maybe there will come a time when I take as much pleasure in a cup of tea (I have had some really great teas before)as I do in a glass of porto. I don’t think that my moderate consumption is a stumbling block to others in the faith. But I suppose we should think about it anyway.

Today, I am going to a winery. It’s small, it’s local, and it’s owned by a relative of a friend of mine, which makes it even more fun. It’s a gorgeous fall day, the sun is shining bright, and I look forward to a day of enjoying God’s creation. Pour yourself a glass of wine, a cup of coffee or a glass of tea and enjoy it with me.


Shock Doctrine

Naomi Klein just released a new book. She was hoping for a blurb from Alfonso Cuaron, director of Y Tu Mama Tambien and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Instead, she got this film.

Watch it, but not with children around. Sights and sounds are meant to be provocative.

The video has done what it was intended to do, which is to create an interest in the book, as well as start some discussion, so that’s why I’m posting it.

The biggest thing I wonder about is this statement which is from the economist Milton Friedman. “Only a crisis, actual or perceived, produces real change.”

I think that statement might be true, regardless of how it is then abused by the powers and principalities. The followers of Jesus certainly changed after the death and resurrection of Christ. Alcoholics speak of reaching rock bottom before they improve. People diagnosed with serious illnesses evaluate their lives.

Klein goes from the specific to the general and states that entire nations can be susceptible to the shock doctrine as well. She uses 9/11 and several natural disasters as evidence.

The nature of change is what actually interests me. I have heard it said that change of less than 20% is not really change at all; that incremental changes are just us trying to do what we can when we sense a problem but aren’t really willing to do anything about it.

I’ll use my church as an example. A few years back we went through several months of evaluation and statements of who we are and what we believe as an attempt to make better disciples. Nothing has really changed. We added a program here, scheduled some classes there, but essentially the same things that went on then are still going on.

Contrast that with the churches in Mississippi and Louisiana that are still involved in Katrina cleanup. They are substantially different churches than they were prior to the hurricane. One church with which we’ve partnered still has about 100 people a week that they house, feed and equip to work in the surrounding areas. This is a church that is not much larger than the groups they host.

So can those churches, like the group that I worship with, like me, truly change? Without a catastrophe? Without a huge split? Without a burned down sanctuary? How has your church changed?