I had a notion a while ago. Given how I write out my assorted musings for my Cephas Hour of Peace radio show (audio on demand for past shows available here), why not dust off my modest little waystation off the information superhighway (hey, when was the last time you heard that expression? But I digress) and print them here? Hence this post.
Hope this helps you with whatever you’re presently going through. Video clips are the songs played during the show.
The Old Testament prophet Joel noted that in the time period to which he was referring — whether be that in the past or upcoming I’ll leave for Biblical scholars to debate — the young men of Israel would see visions, while the old men would dream dreams. Since I, alas, am firmly in the latter age group, dreams it is.
While I strongly doubt it in any way is a fulfillment of Biblical prophecy, I’ve noticed in my dreams the past few months how most every one has included someone with whom there is presently some level of conflict, or disagreement, or strain on what was at one time an at least solid relationship that now is something less than optimal. Yet, invariably in these dreams there is no strife. All parties involved get along perfectly. It’s quite nice.
Perhaps in these dreams there is not so much a wish for all to be right again as a sign that all in time will be right again. We often think of signs and wonders, visions and dreams, as being spectacular surreal supernatural extravaganzas. Not necessarily. Little miracles are just as much miraculous as the grandiose. All that is touched by the divine isn’t always on the scale of parting the Red Sea. It can also be parting the divisions between two people, providing a path toward forgiveness, healing, and reconciliation.
This is why we should always remain hopeful, not allowing the immediate turbulence to trick us into believing this is how everything is always going to be. We can forgive and be forgiven. We can restore and be restored. We can love again and be loved again. We can also cut ourselves some slack if this doesn’t happen in the next five minutes. Referring back to the prophet Joel, he notes that the Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in faithful love, and He relents in sending disaster to those who turn in repentance to Him. This doesn’t absolve us of responsibility. But it does put time in perspective.
In our lives, we have all met a savior or two or three dozen. I’m not referring to the real Savior, namely Jesus Christ. No, I’m referring to the self-appointed saviors, be it of relationships or the workplace, who once were brothers or sisters in arms in our collective of ragtag soldiers. Now, they look to be the general. Problem is, they’re so busy fighting whatever battle is at hand that they forget not only why they’re fighting but that the troops they originally set out fighting for are still here.
There are few things more disheartening than the individual who was once actively engaged as a compatriot in helping others, but now distances his or herself from others even as they put on a great show of doing what they do for the benefit of all. This is not service. This is selfishness. The person who takes someone, or others collectively, for granted is often the most surprised when that someone, or those others, walk away, usually quietly. How can they, the person wonders. Can’t he or she, or they, see I’m doing what I’m doing for their and everyone else’s benefit? I’m trying to make things better! In reality, you’re making things worse for everyone else, and you’re doing what you do for yourself.
All of us can be replaced at the workplace. One day we will be. Disney didn’t close when Walt Disney died. Apple didn’t close when Steve Jobs died. There is not a store above the one-person shop level on this planet that will be forced out of business if any given employee fails to show. Human beings, however, can and do fall apart, sometimes irrecoverably, when someone walks out of their life in pursuit of being a both unneeded and utterly unqualified pseudosavior.
There’s a saying that revenge is a dish that tastes best when served cold. Of course, Christians are instructed to leave such matters as revenge and vengeance to the Lord as they are solely His prerogative. Not that this stops any of us from politely requesting permission to serve as His avenging angel, but He usually says no.
We can cushion and beautify the thirst for revenge against those who have wronged us by wrapping it in assorted Scriptures. More realistically, we can strive toward being someone who forgives and forgets. The problem is far too often, we confuse the two.
Moving on is quite often identical to moving away from. We can and should forgive those who have wronged us. This does not mean we automatically stay in a relationship with an unfaithful partner, or working for a dishonorable employer. Sometimes you need to, for your own preservation, slip out of the picture and find a picture of your own in which to live. It ties into that whole being human thing so many of us try to get out of.
Finding solace is a necessary part of self-preservation; of valuing ourselves as God’s creation. The Scripture that teaches us He is near to the brokenhearted and saves those crushed in spirit in no way implies this hinges on the provision we blissfully discard each and every wrong perpetrated against us, following this by gleefully dancing back into the exact same situation in which we were previously wronged. Each of us is worth more than that. We are not human doormats.
This directly ties into how although the penalty of sin is forgiven by Christ’s substitutional death on the cross, the consequences of sin are not eradicated by Christ’s substitutional death on the cross. We can repent, but we are never guaranteed protection from our actions repercussions. Sometimes we need to walk away for a time from the one who hurt us. As long as we never walk away from the One Who always loves us.
I rather miss regularly blogging, regular as in daily or near-daily rather than my current once a week, if that much, pace. Having long ago abandoned all delusions of blogging stardom in favor of hoping my modest little scribbles might prove of value to others, I find myself more often than not stymied by all that nasty real life stuff so obnoxiously interfering with said scribbling … as is amply evidenced by the fact this is my first post here in over a year. Oops. Add into this the issues caused by my ever-lurking thorn in the mind otherwise known as the depression monster, and it’s easy to see why the words don’t flow as they did before.
Blogging is, alas, rapidly going the way of the CD. As a CD is a far superior sonic experience than 99.44% of streaming music conduits, yet is now an afterthought as convenience and disposability of disposable music reigns supreme, so blogging is a far superior communication method than social media for freely expressing complex or deep subjects, yet is now an afterthought in favor of Twitter and/or Facebook hot takes. Never mind there is no control over the platforms and your words there, while no longer your own the moment they are committed to a third party’s digital page, can and will be used against you should you dare step away from the prescribed policies of said third parties. Whenever I see individuals or enterprises wailing loud and long when they are demonetized and/or deplatformed from a social media monolith, only one thought comes to mind: why did you put all your eggs in someone else’s basket in the first place?
There are very few blogs left today compared to blogging’s heyday in the 2000s, when there were seemingly two thousand sites worth visiting. Now? Name any actual blogs – not group sites owned by a media company under whose auspices the select few write for a paycheck, which is course is no sin – you currently read. I occasionally read Ace of Spades, but that’s about it. Most all others have gone away. Which is unfortunate.
I don’t bother writing about politics anymore (hold your applause; I’m still the same curmudgeonly conservative I always was). I’d much rather write about the classic Christian rock I love, or discuss matters of faith, or how we need to take better care of each other and ourselves. Far less wide-reaching in terms of mass appeal than any given well-publicized diatribe about why Politician A is a poopyhead and Politician B is a meanypants, as I’ve well proved to myself. But far more satisfying, and of far greater value.
There is no intention on my part of ever giving up blogging completely. I pay enough for these assorted sites, and they are under my control. I do wish I had more time and energy to compose these modest scribbles, but perhaps this will change. Preferably in a good way. And hopefully my quiet reminders to myself that I need to be more loving and forgiving, more intent on practicing cognitive thinking and cognitive faith so I am better able to take the long view and not be overwhelmed by monotrack reaction to the immediate, will be of benefit to others. I always thank people for reading what I write. Few things mean more than when something I’ve written evokes an unsolicited thankful response.
Don’t let it end.
There has been a great deal of melancholia lately among people I know, many deeply cared for. The young and newly single mother, wondering if she’ll ever find genuine love for the first time let alone again. Another young woman whose joyous anticipation along with her husband of their first child together has now turned to grief as the baby has passed away while still in her womb. The depression monster eating people alive, stealing whatever joy they might have while leaving them numb and indifferent to life’s pleasures. Yours truly, watching his employer turn out the lights, searching for and wondering who will be his next employer if in fact there will be one. To put it simply, not a ton of recent fun.
It’s challenging, knowing what and what not to say when people are hurting. The challenge exponentially rises when you are the one in pain, ofttimes leaving you unwilling to talk about things at the exact time you most need to communicate concerning that which seeks your slow destruction. John Donne was right; no man is an island. However, it is not only the final death of one affecting us all. It is the little births and deaths among those we know, joys and sorrows we share out of love bringing us together as we help each other through the bloody cold mud that life so often churns for us to stumble through.
We laugh with those who laugh, comfort those who mourn, and grieve with those who grieve. Sometimes all we can offer is our presence, as any words we might have to offer sound too trite, too cliched to say aloud. Yet these times of being there are often far more valuable than anything we might have uttered. In a world demanding all communication and contact be at its convenience, with phone calls abhorred and texts answered at leisure, making oneself available for another is a sadly revolutionary notion. There is surprising healing in presence; well, surprising to those caught up in a world of omnipresent communication but minimal contact.
Yes, sometimes we don’t know what to say. This doesn’t leave us incapable of reaching out. A hug, a hand on the shoulder, a reassuring smile; these speak volumes. What matters is the love behind the effort. None of us always have the right words. But we can do the right thing. Even when we wish we know what to say.
Do you ever wonder why you are where you are at any given moment?
Often it doesn’t make sense. We know life is a procession of instances where we learn and/or share what has already been learned, but far too often the sardonic adage of when you’re up to your neck in alligators it’s difficult to remember the original objective was draining the swamp comes to mind. It’s easy to say “trust God – Romans 8:28.” It’s quite a different thing to do when you’re recalling a loved one now gone away, wishing with all you have you could talk to them jut once more. Heaven awaits those who believe, yet eternity remains an eternity away.
Lessons learned at my employer prior to the current one occasionally come to mind, and often come in quite handy where I now work. It would be easy to say said lessons were why I was there. However, there was one moment when … well, here’s the story.
I held the not terribly lofty position of customer service manager. Translation: I was responsible for servicing the customers by expediting their sojourn through the checkstands. A tad difficult when you were at the last remaining store in the Western Hemisphere that rang everything manually, and on any day ending in a y you didn’t have enough cashiers, thus forcing you to call department heads who were invariably swamped with their own projects. But hey. Someone had to pay for those illegal museum shipments. But I digress.
One afternoon, a customer approached me holding a ladies wallet. She said she had found it in one of the potted plants outside the store. Said wallet had the individual’s drivers license, cellphone, and car keys, leading to the logical conclusion they would be looking for it. I thanked the guest, and doubtless in direct violation of any number of the company’s five bajillion rules designed to turn all into mindless drones (but hey, it gave us Sunday off) held on to the wallet instead of immediately having it locked away in the store safe.
A few minutes later, a police officer came in and asked me if we carried marbles; his son wanted some. It occurred to me to mention the wallet. He said he’d keep an eye out for anyone looking for it.
Shortly thereafter, a young woman entered the store. She was very petite and not unattractive. She headed straight toward me and said, “I believe you have something of mine.” Which I did; a quick glance at the drivers license declared the wallet was hers.
I handed it to her.
She began to cry.
Now, I’ve been in similar situations where tears of relief came in response to a returned, intact wallet or purse. Thus, I commented it was okay.
Actually, no it wasn’t, as the young woman replied with the reason she was crying.
Her father had just died.
Needless to say, this was not a topic covered in the customer service manager handbook.
The young woman asked if there was somewhere she could sit down. The only thing available was the store wheelchair, so I grabbed it and sat her down. She said she desperately needed to use the restroom, so I pushed her in the wheelchair across the store to same.
Once she emerged, she said she didn’t think she could stand, so I sat her back down in the wheelchair and gave her a slow tour of the store, alternating between expressing sentiments shared by those of us in the unfortunate fellowship she had now entered and doing my best to comfort her. Sometimes she cried. Sometimes she even laughed at one of my silly comments. And so we continued for a half-hour or so until she felt together enough to drive home. We hugged, and she left.
I haven’t seen her since.
I pray she’s doing okay.
I pray I did my Dad proud.
And yes, I believe that moment was why I was there.
Lord of the here and now
Lord of the come what may
I want to believe somehow
That You can heal these wounds of yesterday
So now I’m asking You
To do what You want to do
Be the Lord of my past
Oh how I want You to
Be the Lord of the past
— from “Lord Of The Past” by Bob Bennett
This past Sunday, the mysterious yet not mythical Mrs. Dude and I were in Southern California attending a concert featuring three veterans of contemporary Christian music back when it was still called that: Bob Bennett, Michele Pillar, and Kelly Willard. Each would take a turn performing one of their songs with the other artists providing backing vocals where suggested, all unobtrusively backed by a smooth instrumental quartet featuring respected studio and stage (over twenty years backing Neil Diamond live) guitarist Hadley Hockensmith.
During one of his times Bennett dusted off one of his more obscure tunes. Originally released as a new track to enhance a long out of print compilation, later rerecorded for a mostly stripped down release featuring him alone with his guitar, Bennett introduced “Lord of the Past” by commenting on the song’s core message, adding how many mistakenly believe that Jesus’ forgiving, via the Cross, the penalty of our sins is commensurate with eliminating the consequences of our sin. In short, no it does not. Which can be a very, very hard lesson to learn.
There is a danger in assuming the above translates solely into our needing to accept the consequences of our actions toward others. Certainly this factors into the matter; accepting ownership of the fallout from what we have done is a vital part of any believer’s walk with Christ. That said, it is not the only part. What we do in regard to the consequences of actions by others toward us also matters. Sometimes, it is the primary action item on our life agenda.
The past several weeks have seen a torrent of harsh, often horrid accusations and occasional, pathetic recriminations regarding men in positions of power abusing their status by using it as a conduit for sexually harassing women up to and including rape. There is no excuse, nor justification, for this. Nor is there acceptability for telling abused women they need to get over it and get on with it. A woman who has had that which is intended for the divine, the expression of passionate love between man and wife that also symbolizes the passion of Christ the Bridegroom for His bride the church, threatened or stolen cannot reasonably be expected to simply hit the “what’s done is done” switch and sing hey nonny nonny as she merrily goes on her way. The violation of body, mind, and soul demands deep care to regain so much as basic societal functionality, let alone true healing.
Christianity is at its heart about forgiveness: the forgiveness offered by Jesus on the Cross; His command to His followers to forgive others even as they are forgiven by Him. While Scripture tells us God “forgets” that for which He forgives the penitent, forgiveness on an earthly level is not forgetting what others have done. It is freeing oneself from the penalty of being burdened by the actions of others. The consequences remain, yet we are no longer bound by them. New life is available.
In the same fashion, while the consequences of our past actions toward ourself and others live on, we do not have to forever live under their specter. One of depression’s most hideous lies is conflating the inescapability of our past actions consequences with said actions forever defining our present and future state of being. We are more than the sum total of our past. We are infused, transformed by the Holy Spirit. We are not condemned to repeat the past. The next time does not have to be a recycling of the last time. Today does not have to be yesterday.
The past can be and ofttimes is far better or far worse than our present. We cannot change the past. We can resolve to live our lives in the here and now, embracing today even as we embrace Christ. We can allow Him to embrace us, finding in Him healing and hope in the here and now. We can give to Him that which we can neither deny or change — namely, the past — and let the eternal Lord do what only the eternal Lord can do. He wants to help. He wants to heal.
Will we let Him?
Mind if I vent?
Yesterday I posted a link to my latest blog post. It’s a review of Christian rocker Randy Rose’s new album “Songs For The Ritually Abused,” which tackles head on the issue of child abuse.
You probably haven’t read it, let alone listened to the album. Which is okay. It’s your call. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea. You’re definitely missing out, and even if the album isn’t in your musical wheelhouse (it’s heavy and leans heavily toward Goth), it should be easy to agree on child abuse being something we should all fight together. That said, if you’d rather not read the review and/or listen to the album, it’s entirely up to you. And, based on the roaring silence with which the post has been received, it’s clear at least this attempt to broach the subject is of little interest.
Now, had the post been about, say, how reprehensible Kathy Griffin’s video was, people would lap it up. Lots of people. Furthermore, should it have been one in a series of posts after posts cranked out crabbing about how Democrats are all poopyheads, or, taking the “principled conservative” angle, part of endlessly churned out copy about how Trump is a meanypants, it’s pretty much guaranteed that within a few months yours truly would have one or more gigs at a high roller, corporate owned website. I do have writing chops, and I can play the schmooze & suck up game when need be. It’d be all phony and fakery, but it could be done.
However, there are far more beneficial contributions possible than the three hundred and seventy-sixth post on today’s topic du jour. It’s the same philosophy I employ when writing country songs: given that the subjects of drinking, dancing, and honkytonking are all thoroughly covered, I’ll work on discussing something else.
That is what people want, isn’t it? A lot of them in the political junkie category say that’s what they want. We’re tired of all politics all the time, they moan. Give us something different! Break out of the echo chamber! Politics is downstream from culture!
Okay, here’s something different.
Not much of anything.
Oh, there’s the occasional “that’s nice.” But overall? Zip. Nada. Nyet. And while I’ve grown used to it, it still rankles a bit. (Okay, more than a bit.)
Now, it’s impossible to write all this and remain unaware all this leaves me wide open to charges of being a whining crybaby. Perhaps this is true. In my defense, it’s not a case of why them instead of me. Rather, it’s why not me as well.
The lyric by early Christian rock band Servant comes to mind: “Well they call me a Jesus freak / I do believe it’s true / There’s just one thing I want to know / Whose freak are you?”
Here’s the deal. The artists I write about deserve maximum exposure. They’re good people creating great music carrying an even greater message. Writing about it isn’t a choice. It’s a holy obligation. And if it’s frustrating when people who say they want something more than political yakfests, something that addresses culture and society, yet ignoring when it’s presented to them the very thing they’re asking for …
… what should be done?
“Who’ll make his mark,” the captain cried
“To the devil drink a toast
“We’ll glut the hold with cups of gold
“We’ll feed the sea with ghosts
“I see your hunger for a fortune
“Could be better served beneath my flag
“If you’ve the stomach for a broadside
“Come aboard my pretty boys
“I will take you and make you
“Everything you’ve ever dreamed”
“Make fast the guns! Tonight we sail
“When the high tide floods the bay
“Cut free the lines and square the yards
“Get the black flag stowed away
“The Turk, the Arab, and the Spaniard
“Will soon have pennies on their eyes
“And any other laden fancy
“We will take her by surprise
“I will take you and make you
“Everything you’ve ever dreamed”
Some posts back, I referenced Billy Smiley (Whiteheart, The Union Of Sinners and Saints) lamenting storytelling’s increasing exclusion from current Christian music. It is curious how so much of Scripture involves both storytelling and telling of stories, yet both are routinely avoided by today’s songwriters. Parables, allegories, and even the rich poetic language of traditional hymns are rare commodities indeed.
It is not solely Christian music where this dearth of depth can be found. Today’s pop music is conveyor belt fan fodder, autotuned vocals layered atop virtual instruments without soul or satisfaction for anyone wanting more than disposable, valueless mass tuneage. There has always been an element of purposeless fluff in commercial music, but today it is a flood drowning any and all efforts to keep creativity alive. Bands like The Hyperdrive Kittens face a fierce struggle to find an audience.
Six days off the Cuban coast when a sail ahead they spied
“A galleon of the treasure fleet,” the mizzen lookout cried
“Closer to the wind my boys,” the mad-eyed captain roared
“For every man that’s alive tonight will be hauling gold aboard”
“Spare us,” the galleon begged but mercy’s face had fled
Blood ran from the screaming souls the cutlass harvested
Driven to the quarterdeck the last survivor fell
“She’s ours my boys,” the captain grinned “and no one left to tell”
In the face of this dreary plastic onslaught, it should be no surprise that catalog releases now outsell new music. Latter day fans are accustomed to streaming everything and buying nothing. One time, a number one album could be expected to sell 300,000 or more copies in a week riding atop the charts. Now it is 30,000 or less. Older fans value music as art; something to cherish and collect so it can be savored time and again.
Which brings us to Emerson Lake and Palmer’s The Anthology.
The captain rose from a silk divan
With a pistol in his fist
And shot the lock from an iron box
And a blood red ruby kissed
“I give you jewellery of turquoise
“A crucifix of solid gold
“One hundred thousand silver pieces
“It is just as I foretold
“You … you see there before you
“Everything you’ve ever dreamed”
Anchored in an indigo moonlit bay
Gold-eyed ‘round fires the sea thieves lay
Morning … white shells and a pipe of clay
As the wind filled their footsteps
They were far far away
Some information for the uninitiated. Emerson Lake and Palmer was one of the leading purveyors of a genre known as progressive rock. First heard in the latter part of the 1960s, as created by bands such as Procol Harum and King Crimson progressive rock was an effort to stretch rock‘n’roll past its blues roots by incorporating more adventuresome, experimental elements. This ofttimes meant bringing both jazz-flavored improvisational and classical music notions into the mix. In lesser hands this quickly devolved into unlistenable, self-indulgent drek. But when the artists knew what they were doing … well, you had the likes of Emerson Lake and Palmer.
Keith Emerson was that rarity among childhood prodigies, namely one whose artistic development did not end once they had reached adulthood. Equally well versed in classic R&B, multiple flavors of jazz, and classical with a bent toward contemporary composers, while not the first rock‘n’roller to have keyboards rather than guitar as a band’s focus Emerson took it to a level both musically and visually far beyond Jerry Lee Lewis’ kicking over the piano stool. His ritualistic Hammond organ abuse, including shoving daggers into the keyboard, was as much Emerson’s known quality as his ferocious playing, compositions and improvisational stretches alike overflowing with creative fire channeled through breathtaking virtuoso skill. He was the Jimi Hendrix of the keys, never so far removed from the known as to be unapproachable yet inventing something altogether new. After first coming to public attention with The Nice, Emerson decided to take it to the next level by working with artists at or near his own level. Bassist/vocalist/occasional guitarist Greg Lake, fresh from King Crimson’s first incarnation, and drummer/percussionist Carl Palmer from experimental band Atomic Rooster were just the ticket, and thus Emerson Lake and Palmer was born.
Our sails swell full as we brave all seas
On a westward wind to live as we please
With the wicked wild-eyed woman of Portobello town
Where we’ve been told that a purse of gold
Buys many man a crown
They will serve you and clothe you
Exchange your rags for the velvet coats of kings
“Who’ll drink a toast with me
“I give you liberty
“This town is ours tonight”
Emerson Lake and Palmer found near-instantaneous success worldwide. In the United States, all of its studio albums save its last went gold (more than 500,000 copies sold), as did two live albums. The band routinely packed arenas and stadiums. Its music filled the FM airwaves. The early and mid 1970s were the band’s glory years, and even after fervor cooled as times and tastes changed, Emerson Lake and Palmer retained a large core of devoted fans.
“Landlord, wine! Make it the finest
“Make it a cup for a seadog’s thirst
“Two long years of bones and beaches
“Fever and leeches did their worst
“So fill the night with paradise
“Bring me peach and peacock till I burst
“I want a soft touch in the right place
“I want to feel like a king tonight”
“Ten on the black to beat the Frenchman
“Back you dogs give ‘em room to turn
“Now open wide sweet Heaven’s gates
“Tonight we’re gonna see if Heaven burns
“See how she burns
“Oh she burns
“I want an angel on a gold chain
“And I’ll ride her to the stars
“It’s the last time for a long long time
“Come the daybreak we embark
“On the flood of the morning tide”
Once more the ocean cried
As is far more often than not the case with bands from its era, Emerson Lake and Palmer has seen its music repackaged and resold at a ridiculous pace over the years. Late last year, the announcement came of yet another series of reissued albums, this time with the band’s official blessing and participation. Individual albums would be remastered and also remixed, the latter effort being resumed after an abortive effort a few years back by Steven Wilson was dropped when, after having done the first two albums in the catalog, he admitted he simply was not sufficiently into the band’s music to continue. Tragically, Emerson would not see these loving preservations come to fruition; depressed over his deteriorating playing skills and the venom spat in his direction by alleged fans unwilling to forgive Emerson’s growing old, he took his life in March of this year.
As part of the project, a three CD compilation was assembled and released a few weeks ago. Given the plethora of Emerson Lake and Palmer compilations already out there – at least ten – whether anyone needs yet another one is highly debatable. However, given how this one draws all materials from the newly remastered series, not all of which have yet to be released, it warrants attention for this alone.
So how does it serve as an overview of the band’s recorded output? Sonically it is breathtaking. The subtleties, the dynamics, of Emerson Lake and Palmer’s music have never sounded better. It is easy to forget these recording are for the most part more than forty years old. The music breathes and lives, not as a simple nostalgia trip but a brilliant example of musicians turning their full force toward creating something both new and noteworthy. On this level The Anthology admirably succeeds.
Alas, the musical selections themselves in terms of best representing the band are decidedly hit and miss. It is admittedly impossible to assemble any kind of musical anthology by any name (collection, sampler, greatest hits, etc) and please everyone. There will always be cries of “how could you have left out” and “how could you have included this instead of that” and “why did you use that version of,” and so on. This duly noted, there are some puzzlers in this collection. Including both a live version and the studio version of ‘Toccata,’ originally from Brain Salad Surgery, when the two are nearly identical makes little sense. There are too many tracks from side two of Tarkus, which was not the band’s greatest moment, and omitting ‘Black Moon’ from the album of the same name is just plain odd given how it was a not unsubstantial radio hit.
“This company will return one day
“Though we feel your tears it’s the price we pay
“For there’s prizes to be taken and glory to be found
“Cut free the chains make fast your souls
“We are Eldorado bound
“I will take you for always forever together
“Until Hell call our names”
“Who’ll drink a toast with me
“To the devil and the deep blue sea”
Gold drives a man to dream
It is no more logical to expect the average Rhianna or Ed Sheeran fan to understand, let alone appreciate, Emerson Lake and Palmer than it was to have expected the average Carpenters or John Denver fan to have understood and/or appreciated Emerson Lake and Palmer back in its heyday. This is as it should be. There was a time when artists made music for music’s sake. If an audience chose to follow all the merrier; this was a byproduct rather than the sole objective. There will never be another Emerson Lake and Palmer. But, once there was, and we are all the better for it.
(Song lyrics from ‘Pirates’ by Emerson Lake and Palmer from the album Works Volume One)
NOTE: The following is my personal opinion. It in no way reflects or represents my employer, its policies and platforms, or my daily efforts on behalf of said employer to keep the company head in Purina Giraffe Chow.
One of the advantages of working in a toy store is watching children react to various toys. This of course involves first hand viewings of assorted temper tantrums, crying jags, screaming fits, and the like. But enough about the parents.
I bring this up because the other day I put out the first shipment of Elena of Avalor toys. For those of you minus a girl or girls aged four to ten in your household or reasonable equivalent thereof who faithfully watch Disney Channel, the recently debuted show is set in a fictional Central American country during colonial times. Elena is a Latina princess with magical powers. There’s more, of course, as any aforementioned girl or girls aged four to ten can breathlessly tell you.
Getting back to the merchandise, it’s in the front of the store, where coincidentally I’m usually stationed. This provides a prime vantage point for observing responses. Which are …
… pretty much universal for girls in the four to ten age bracket. Doesn’t matter what color the child: white, black, brown, yellow, purple with pink polkadots, etc. Immediately their eyes become big as saucers and they grab an Elena doll of various features (one sings, one comes with a horse, one comes with her sister, and all come with a special feature that automatically sucks money out of parental wallets and purses). Just as immediately, it is totally apparent their harried mothers have absolutely no idea who this character is. Apparently they’re not spending a lot of time with their children watching Disney Channel. I know parenting is tough, Mom, but once in a while put the wine down and watch some TV with the kid(s).
Now, what lesson can we draw from this? Despite the whining of some self-appointed Social Justice Warrior types, it’s quite simple. Regardless of the character’s race, and regardless of the child’s race unless they’ve already been programmed to hate, girls love princesses with magical powers. Period.
I am reminded of an afternoon I spent at a local mall after Frozen hit the theaters. It was Halloween time, and all the stores in the mall were participating in giving out candy to children. For amusement, I decided to see how many girls dressed as Elsa I could count. I gave up after it rapidly became apparent I should be counting by dozens and not one at a time. Again, as with the girls grabbing the Elena dolls, it was every color child imaginable wearing an Elsa dress. The identity wasn’t with her race. It was with the character herself. Indulge me while I repeat myself: regardless of the character’s race, and regardless of the child’s race unless they’ve already been programmed to hate, girls love princesses with magical powers. Period, end of story.
Maybe if we would stop defining ourselves and each other, and dividing ourselves and each other, by our skin color we might be better off.
I enjoy the great privilege of knowing Dawn Wisner Johnson, of Crumbächer fame for those of you who know your ’80s Christian rock, as a beloved friend. Dawn has a heart that cannot be measured, demonstrated over the years by how she has not only taken care of, but taken in, abandoned and abused kids as freely as animal lovers take in stray cats and dogs. It’s what she does.
Earlier today, she posted this on Facebook:
Yesterday, my family went to a funeral for a young woman who was killed as a result of her being a victim of human sex trafficking. Out of honor to the family of this victim (they are “family” to us), that is all the information I will give at this point.
When I found out this news a few months ago, I was devastated. For the past few years, I’ve been working with, helping, and supporting a non profit – Forgotten Children – headed by my good friend, Paula Daniels. I never thought that this would hit so close to home.
Friends, please take a moment to watch this interview with a victim that escaped. If you don’t have the time to do that, would you “like” this post? The more likes, the more people will see it.
I’m also very sad that when I post on Facebook about human trafficking I may get 5 “likes.” Yet, when I post about my vacations or family, 50 to 100 “likes”. How sad that is to me.
We have many working in this field to change laws and make sure that these traffickers and those “buying” the girls are caught. For that I am grateful. San Bernardino is a leader in this fight because of our district attorney Michael Ramos.
This funeral we attended yesterday was one of the hardest I’ve been to. The young daughter of this victim, wept and gave tribute to her mother. We all cried along with her. It’s time to make a change and get this horrible crime under control in our nation.
Not much more to say, is there.