Thinking Out Loud

May 8, 2018

The Hymns We Sing Meant Something Different to American Slaves

Filed under: Christianity, music — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:23 am

Saturday night we attended the first in what is hoped to become an annual concert series, The Hymns to Freedom Project. The venue was the beautiful Toronto Centre for the Arts; although it was built in the late 1990s, we were seeing it for the first time. The tickets were purchased by our son who wanted to see the concert and invited us to join him.

He became aware of the event after attending a previous concert by the Toronto Mass Choir (TMC). The connecting link is Corey Butler who is Musical Director and who conceived this program, composing and arranging the selections, and conducting a 38-piece orchestra.

The music was often bright and lively, and this stood in contrast to the subject matter: Slavery in the United States. The words of Martin Luther King, Jr. were played, including the famous “I have a dream” speech, with the film footage synchronized with the live orchestra.

Four of the selections involved Canadian soloist Jackie Richardson who combined readings with singing. The song “Elijah Rock” had the audience clapping and singing.

But the more sobering theme of the night was never far removed. There was a reference to the gospel song, “How I Got Over” and an explanation of its reference to fugitive slaves escaping to northern states by crossing the Ohio River; but also a reminder that it’s a metaphor for the wider emancipation of black Americans as whole, with the added caveat that this process is incomplete. The accompanying slide show included an images of Trayvon Martin and the more recent image of the black men removed from a Starbucks location just last month.

We were reminded that the “band of angels coming after me” in “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” was actually a reference to friends on the northern banks of the Ohio (identified as the Jordan River) often signalling when would not be safe to cross and then helping them when it was.

The concert was also the launch project for Zamar Music Productions, a new “not-for-profit organization committed to excellence in music art and performance” in three specific areas: Education, Entertainment and Production utilizing a variety of music styles. (Learn more at zamarmusic.org)

My only regret is that the entire program was quite short. We were told ahead of time that the running time would be 72 minutes.  It should also be noted that from where we were sitting, it looked like almost a quarter of the audience arrived late; strange considering the ticket prices. Also, there were two competing elements here; the songs featuring Ms. Richardson belonging to an entirely different genre than the more classical-styled, instrumental-only songs featuring the full orchestra. That may have been an attempt to appease a more diverse audience.

The next Hymns to Freedom Project concert is scheduled for February in Brampton, Ontario.


Footnotes:

  • My wife and I got to sing with the Toronto Mass Choir in a yearly event they do called Power Up and we continue to attend their concerts yearly. I’ve had several conversations with Corey Butler, including a front row seat in Newcastle where I could almost reach out and touch the piano. (You can read my story here.)
  • In another lifetime (for both of us) Jackie Richardson sang with a dance band that did Jewish weddings, Bar Mitzvahs and Bat Mitzvahs, for which I was a roadie. Thanks to that experience, I’ve been inside almost every Synagogue in Toronto.
  • The Toronto Centre for the Arts is located in Toronto just steps away from where the April 23rd van attack took place. At the end of the event, Corey Butler dedicated the concert to the memory of those who lost their lives and to their families, and those who were injured. We went for a walk to the memorial after the concert and you can read that reflection here.
Advertisements

November 2, 2017

Same Kind of Different as Me: An Illustration of the Hands and Feet of Christ

Filed under: Christianity, Faith, marriage — Tags: , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 6:50 am

Based on the book of the same name which is based on a true story, Same Kind of Different as Me is the unlikely story of the intersection of two worlds between an international dealer in expensive fine art and a homeless man who spent much of his life working overtime as a slave. Ron Hall is living the good life that involves interacting with high society when his wife Deborah drags him to reluctantly serve at the Union Gospel Mission. The 2007 book from Thomas Nelson later gave way to a small group curriculum as it raises many issues.

I had only minimal familiarity with the book — I knew it had sold well in some areas, which can be hard for a biographical work even if it reads better than some fiction — when invited to see the movie which, as you read this, is at the end of its second week in North America.

My wife and I were quite impressed. She even paid it the ultimate compliment (for her) by saying something as we left the theater, “It wasn’t a Christian movie;” by which she meant there wasn’t an overt gospel message leading toward key characters getting saved at the end. Indeed, this is actually the ideal Christian movie, where things are shown instead of told, and where Christian values are being lived out, rather than simply taught. Truly this is the Christian film you view with that unchurched neighbor, coworker or relative.

But it takes more than just a great screenplay to make a great picture. The additional points would go for some very plausible casting — I felt like I already know Ron and Deborah — and some rather breathtaking scenery, not to mention the visual image of the place in the woods where the homeless of that community spend the night.

The movie raises the possibility of much discussion about the type of activity which truly helps the homeless and gives them dignity and how, at the end of the day, we’re not all that different.


Thanks to Tim at Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. for the tix.

 

January 16, 2013

Wednesday Link List

In the first link today, I want you to join me in a promotion project for a deserving songwriter and embed the video on your Facebook page, your blog, or whatever it takes to spread the word.

  • Our first link today is the above video. I’ve been corresponding with the creator of this for some time, but it couldn’t go public until now.  “An uplifting song that furnishes a concept of peace and oneness for humanity in deliberate contrast to John Lennon’s iconic anthem, ‘Imagine’.”  Here’s the story behind the song. I want to encourage you to share this with everyone you know! 
  • Here’s an article I wrote for C201, that I may yet reblog here. It’s about Jesus’ last words to his disciples, and they may not be the words you’re thinking of right now. 
  • And another C201 post that is both packed with scripture and introduces the new Chris Tomlin song, Whom Shall I Fear.
  • Essay of the week: Canadian Dave Carrol explains his faith, his faith journey, and his ‘conflicted’ Protestant and Catholic sides to a largely secular audience in his city’s newspaper.
  • The Harvard Theological Review is postponing publication of a major article on the papyrus fragment in which Jesus seems to refer to his wife, raising further doubts about a discovery that was set to turn Christian history on its head. More at Religion News
  • Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove critiques a PBS special on the abolitionists; noting what the producers missed and what he is pleased they included.
  • If you’ve been following the Jack Schaap story, you’ll want to know that First Baptist Church in Hammond (IN) has hired a new pastor, John Wilkerson. More also at the church website.
  • Meanwhile in another casting call, how about Brad Pitt as Pontius Pilate?
  • Would Brian McLaren be a good fit to replace Louis Giglio at the Presidential bash?
  • And what if a letter from Barack Obama to Louis Giglio looked something like this letter?  Plus, I couldn’t overlook a piece that Gabe Lyons wrote on how Louis was ‘bullied off the stage.’
  • Pushing past the controversy, Christianity Today reported on Louis Giglio’s signature event, The Passion Conference. Between Passion and Urbana, it’s easy to see what American Christian youth were up to over the holidays. So why does a search for Urbana at CT turn up nothing?
  • While it doesn’t have a Christian message, this 3-minute public service announcement from the Australian government should give you good reason to slow down in all areas of life.
  • As the countdown begins to the Big Game in the U.S. (February 3rd, if you’re wondering) poet Greg Asimakoupoulos: laments that these sports extravaganzas now routinely happen on Sundays. As game day approaches, you might want to copy and paste this to the American football fans you know.  [HT: David Fisher]
  • The issue of prayer at civic events switches this week to a debate about the subject at West Point Academy.
  • Mike Duran is closing in on 300 comments for a piece he wrote about websites that put evangelicalism under the microscope or simply put it to ridicule. Some of the language is edgy, but if you’re okay with that, check out, The Anti-Evangelical Hate Machine. Later, in an effort to better understand one of the bloggers, he interviews Darrel Dow of Stuff Fundies Like.  (SFL is also the source for today’s lower graphic.)
  • A few weeks ago we attended a New Year’s Eve-Eve night of ‘clean comedy’ with Timmy Boyle, and learned that a number of comedians in Canada are creating a family-friendly comedy circuit. Here’s a story of Matt Falk, a similar entertainer whose debut album topped the iTunes comedy category on its day of release. 
  • Also for my Canadian readers, next Monday night at 8:00 PM on CBC TV’s Mr. D., history teacher Gerry Duncan wades into religion with this line, “Jesus was Jewish and even he was Catholic.” Sigh.
  • Ending with a video since we opened with one: Cindy Jacobs tells an interviewer about the ‘miracle’ of her shoes not wearing out.

Christian Family Off For Vacation

June 16, 2010

Wednesday Link List

Seems like only about seven days since we did the last Wednesday Link List.   Funny that…   But just think, if you read all these linked items you will be as wise as I…


  • Lots of family-related stuff this week, like this one:  Jason Salamun contrasts the American Dream with what could be called the Missional Dream in a piece titled, Don’t Focus on Your Family.  (Great Donald Miller story at the end, too.)
  • Krista Bremer gives her 10-year daughter a choice between the Western clothing she grew up with, and the Islamic costume that is part of her husband’s culture.   The girl chooses to wear a headscarf.  This is a long article, but one I think parents — especially moms — will want to read; as well as anyone in a ‘mixed’ marriage who has or is planning to have children.
  • Jason Wert can’t watch World Cup Soccer without thinking of hundreds of women being raped.   Yes you read that right.   But his short article also shows this isn’t just something happening half a world away; it’s true of the Superbowl as well.   Check this out.
  • If you’re a parent, you might also want to check out this 5-minute video about the commercialization of our kids over at Vitamin Z.
  • But if you want to take the spirit of that video and really get into this topic in depth, you need to check out an article from the June issue of Catholic World Report, 10 Ways the Media Has Failed to Protect Kids.
  • The 17-year old daughter of Naked Pastor David Hayward is going to have a different take on church, right?   Check out this excellent guest post by Casile.
  • One more parenting link, which you’ll relate to if your kids are worriers; a short article at Canada’s Christian Week.
  • Michael Spencer’s widow, Denise, gets brutally honest about her own suffering and pain in dealing with Michael’s physical decay and death at Internet Monk.
  • Here’s something you might relate to — the blogger at Upwrite encounters some people doing coffee shop evangelism, and realizes that perhaps God sometimes sends these people to minister to the saved as well as the unsaved.
  • If your taste in Christian music is toward the heavier sounding bands, you might want to get the free 15-song “Summer Soundtrack” from Tooth and Nail Records, which includes Children 18:3, The Almost, The Letter Black, Sent By Ravens, Write This Down, and more.
  • Speaking of music, here’s an indie artist from Canada:  To Tell (aka Zach Havens in the tradition of Owl City, though I think Zach was there first!)  Give a listen to the song “The Problem” from his new album at this MySpace page.
  • Thomas Nelson, the (somewhat) Christian publisher, has done a book about beer.   Seriously.    Tim Challies reviews the brew book so you don’t have to read it.   Better him than me.
  • USAToday Religion doesn’t think this is a very good job market for pastors.
  • Meanwhile, Thom Rainer writes a First Person piece about seven mistakes he made in ministry.  (Number four is about failing to “love the community where I live.”   I know some pastors who see their present assignment as a short stop on the way to somewhere else.)
  • On my other blog, Christianity 201, I pay a second visit to an online church service — that’s a different animal from a podcast or sermon download — at North Point.
  • In case you missed it, David Quinn at Passion Australia has that “trinity diagram” that does the best job of wrapping up a tough concept into a small space.   Click on the image to see it full size, and then save and send it to your friends.
  • Staying with the church theme, David Fitch at Reclaiming the Mission has embedded a video with Fr. Robert Barron on the state of empty churches in Europe and beyond.
  • If you live in the Northeast and have done the drive to Florida down I-75, you’ve seen the giant King of Kings statue at Solid Rock Church in Monroe, Ohio; between Dayton and Cincinnati.   Well, this week the statue was struck by lightning and it’s no longer there.  (The statue, had just received a makeover back in March.)
  • Pete Wilson guests at Michael Hyatt’s leadership blog with Four Leadership Lessons he learned from Nashville’s “1,000 Year Flood.”
  • Note to other bloggers:  If you get a comment that begins, “If I had a penny…” or ends “you’ve done it again.  Incredible article;” don’t bother approving it.   The comments all link back to a number of Blogspot blogs containing only one post — always March, 2010 — with a rather rambling article.
  • Our upper cartoon is from ASBO Jesus by Jon Birch in England, where this sort of road sign warns of hazards up ahead.   Jon’s place was recently burglarized and he lost all his cartoons, animations and music.  Thanks to cloud computing, at least the blog survives, but it sounds like that was a very small part of the whole.
  • Our lower cartoon is from Preacher’s Kid by David Ayers at Baptist Press.

Blog at WordPress.com.