Thursday, August 30, 2007

War, What is it Good For? Absolutely Everything (7.30.10)

Or at least struggling toward the Absolute which transcends everything.

If I had time to come up with a post this morning -- which I may still have, depending how long the boy stays asleep -- I was going to continue exploring the subject of Difficulties On the Path and the Hostile Forces that make it so, whoever or whatever they are.

In fact, yesterday I went through my liberary and plucked down any books that pertain to the subject, so I could brush up on my spiritual mind parasitology. To my surprise, I didn't have a copy of Unseen Warfare, which I thought I had read a few years ago, but I guess I hadn't. I must have just read excerpts in The Heart of Salvation: The Life and Teachings of Saint Theophan the Recluse, so I ordered a copy.

It was originally written by a Catholic priest in the 16th century, but then edited and added to by St. Theophan, the great 19th century Russian Orthodox mystic theologian and staretz. On the back cover it quotes Theophan, who wrote that "the arena, the field of battle, the site where the fight actually takes place, is our own heart and our own inner man. The time of the battle is our whole life."

I think that is a key idea, for there is simply no way to avoid the battle of a lifetime. Or, to be perfectly accurate, you can opt out of the battle on pain of squandering the purpose of your life. Look at Otis. His problem is not so much that life is a battle, but that he is shrinking from it. He is a conscientious objector in the war for his own soul. He's laid down his weapons, and is hoping that by appeasing the Adversary, he'll go away. Fat chance.

I think the purpose of spiritual combat is to transpose the constant battle of life to a higher key, so to speak. Just as, say, the sex drive is contained and transmuted through marriage, inner conflict is given new meaning by placing it on a higher spiritual plane, on which we polish and perfect our character against the rocks of adversity.

You don't really discover who you are or "what you're made of" until you're up against it. Therefore, to deprive man of adversity is to deprive him of the opportunity to grow and evolve, which is apparently the reason why we are here. Or so we have heard from the wise, the merciful, the obnoxious. As Petey has explained it, angels pretty much know everything, but within a limited domain, and that's it. They cannot evolve, because there is nothing to clash with. Their lives are entirely non-friction, so to speak.

Take, oh, I don't know, me, for example. At this very moment I am doing something I would have thought impossible just 28 months ago, which is to say, hatch a new thought and type a coherent sentence with a baby stirring in the next room. I often lament how little time I have anymore, and long for those times when I could spend an entire leisurely day parked in the hammock office and reading mystical poetry.

But the plain fact of the martyr is that I've somehow been far more productive over the past two years than at any other time of my life. Three years ago I was a sensitive genius who needed absolute silence in order to plumb the depths and share my gifts with an unworthy world, but now I just blather and bleat whatever comes out of my fingertips, and it surpasses what that pretentious windbag came up with before.

Have you ever noticed that for the majority of rock acts, their first album is their best? Once they become successful and have all the slack, their creativity goes in the dumpster. They have nothing more to say, and simply repeat themselves.

My own life was pretty enslackened four or five years ago. But it was also at something of an end. I am quite sure that this went into the decision to have a child, which, in its own way, is as momentous as the earlier decision to have a body. One does so knowing full well that one is jumping feet first into a catastrophe, with no assurance of a happy outcome. It's a total gamble. I mean, I could complain about my parents, but it could have been a whole lot worse. I could have landed a few feet to the left, next door, in which case there would have been dead bodies involved.

I just can't believe what a high-wire act having a child is. I would never give him back -- ask me again tomorrow -- but at the same time, I'm not sure I would have taken this on had I appreciated the stress beforehand. There are no doubt dark times when one could say the same of life itself: all things considered, would I really have chosen this over the timeless bliss of nonbeing?

Apparently so. Petey says that folks on his side are pretty damn bored, and that the competition for bodies is quite fierce. To the extent that they have any stress there, it's over the chance to incarnate and take a stab at evolution, which is to say, spiritual combat.

This morning, Dr. Sanity has a relevant post entitled A Generation Destroyed by the Madness of Postmodernism. You wouldn't think it's related, but it is, because it has to do with the West's shirking from spiritual combat, specifically, my own generation's idiotic and cowardly belief that war has somehow been transcended or become unnecessary. She links to an interview with Victor Davis Hanson, in which he criticizes academia for its neglect of military history.

Hanson cites several reasons for the neglect, including the conflation of war and amorality, "forgetting, for example, that chattel slavery, Nazism, fascism, and Stalinism were ended by arms or military deterrence. Second, multiculturalism -- no culture can be any worse than the West -- has redefined the history of Western arms as exclusively in the service of racism, colonialism, and imperialism that in turn were unique to the West. And lastly, the advent of postmodernism... into the arts and sciences meant a general disdain for, and absence of mastery of, names, dates, personalities, facts themselves -- the stuff of military history -- in favor of seeing all of the past as a morality tale to be deconstructed on the basis of preconceived (and often anti-empirical) gender, class, and racial oppression."

My guess is that this rejection of external combat is simply a mirror of the prior wimpified rejection of spiritual combat. As Hanson says, "there is still this crazy notion that anyone who studies war does so not to understand and thus often mitigate its effects, but rather out of a sort of repressed or even overt desire for bloodletting -- as if an oncologist likes tumors or a virologist is de facto an advocate for AIDs."

Real warriors understand the spiritual nature of combat -- you might say that they have heroically transposed the unseen combat of the spirtual world to the material plane -- which, I might add, is hardly less spiritual: "War by nature involves the ultimate sacrifice of soldiers, usually of a rare segment of the general population willing to die for an idea, an order, a good or bad cause, to inflict havoc or save humanity."

Ironically, a clueless amazon reviewer of Unseen Warfare wrote the following: "As a Christian pacifist, I'm extremely wary of militaristic language, in either common speech ('bullet points' or 'I got bombed last night') or allegedly spiritual discourse ('Onward Christian soldiers, marching off to war...'). So I was initially put off by the title Unseen Warfare."

I'll have to read the book and decide for myself, but here is what it says in the book about Saint Theophan:

It was Saint Paul who repeatedly said that the Christian life is an athletic contest, and that we must always train for this contest. He also first likened the Christian life to a battle, and the Christian to a soldier; he described the discipline appropriate to such a warrior; his armour, his offensive and defensive weapons, and the internal and external enemies against whom he has to fight. The Bible is full of this doctrine and its related disciplines.... Most of these combats occur during purification, when man is divided against himself, the old man against the new.

Here's a bullet in: being a spiritual wussifist will not do. Rather, you must choose sides, declare war on yourself, and terminate your mind parasites with extreme prejudice. You can "study war no more," but you'll end up sombody's slave one way or the other.

43 Comments:

Blogger River Cocytus said...

As they used to say,

"Steel yourselves!"

The enemy comes, and he is legion.

8/30/2007 08:43:00 AM  
Blogger walt said...

You referred to rock bands:
"Once they become successful ... their creativity goes in the dumpster. They have nothing more to say, and simply repeat themselves."

Happened to me, recently. Not the rock band part; but I simply closed and walked away from a successful business for the reasons you stated. People would ask, "Why are you leaving?" and I could never quite explain it. If it comes up in the future, I can just say, "What Bob said."

And later in the post you said, "You don't really discover who you are or "what you're made of" until you're up against it."

Never been in real combat, but did get involved in a political fight once, and it felt like warfare! Some of the people involved were Vietnam vets, and while discussing the implications of what we were to attempt, it was stated by one of them, "When a man goes to war, it changes him forever."

I believe 'why' that is so was expressed in your last paragraph:
"...you must choose sides, declare war on yourself, and terminate your mind parasites with extreme prejudice."

The starkness of the choice, the clarity of defining (declaring) the "enemy," and the de-termination to do what is necessary -- these qualities produce an effect on one's character.

8/30/2007 10:36:00 AM  
Anonymous jehu said...

I certainly agree. The Bible is a bloody book from beginning to end. And there is no salvation, according to the Bible without the shedding of blood.

The world longs for a bloodless religion. Something that does not require the ultimate sacrifice. So the secular humanist hates the idea of war, because it demands ultimate sacrifice, and also clearly draws the line between good and evil. Only fools think God is a pacifist, somehow pleased to surround Himself with cowards, either moral or physical cowards.

Note the Left had/has no problem with millions enslaved by tyrants, with little girls in Saddam's rape rooms. But woe to the man that seeks to free people, because the price is always blood. Human freedom is never won without paying a blood price...whether that be physical or spiritual bloodshed.

You can see all this coming to the surface in modern life. I will use the example of the demand to mainstream homosexual lifestyles. Instead of the idea of sin, or that we all have lusts and desires that when expressed or acted upon are sin. But the secularists, the Left give in to all internal demands of a fallen nature, seeking to defuse the terrible internal war for its followers, and mocking those that engage in battle.

No wonder they then translate this cowardice outwardly and hate the warriors in our society.

8/30/2007 10:37:00 AM  
Anonymous will said...

>>there is simply no way to avoid the battle of a lifetime. Or, to be perfectly accurate, you can opt out of the battle on pain of squandering the purpose of your life. Look at Otis. His problem is not so much that life is a battle, but that he is shrinking from it<<

As the purpose of life is to become more conscious, more creative, more of an individual, shrinking from the battle renders one more unconscious, less of an individual, less open not only to the life's trials, but to life's joys and wonderments.

In any event, ignoring/deflecting one's own suffering simply means the suffering is deferred for a time - it'll return in one way or the other, and will then be all the more formidable. I think that in assuming the role of spiritual warrior one honors the very privilege of having to suffer - at which point, suffering per se actually ceases. One can actually embrace one's suffering - not masochistically as the childishly reductive C. Hitchens would probably think - but as a necessary component in the human drama, which a gift beyond reckoning.

The key, the weapon to bear is attentiveness. Take the hit and be aware of it. By doing so, consciousness is honed, fine-tuned. Deal with it NOW because this opportunity may not come again in a million years.

8/30/2007 10:51:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

"Petey says that folks on his side are pretty damn bored, and that the competition for bodies is quite fierce. To the extent that they have any stress there, it's over the chance to incarnate and take a stab at evolution, which is to say, spiritual combat."

I used to (still do, actually) have a theory that life is, in some ways, like a great big game. It must be hard, it must be mysterious, and it must challenge us, because otherwise what's the point? If we never had to face adversity or struggle with real problems, if the consequences for screwing up weren't sometimes, well, ultimate, if in fact bad things didn't sometimes happen to good people, what would be the point of living? It wouldn't be much different from existing as Petey does (which sounds delightful for a while, but eternally would be a bit much). It wouldn't keep us on our toes, or make us strive to be better.

We'd be permanent 0-level characters, so to speak, sitting around like sheep in the cosmos' most boring game. I'm betting nobody would incarnate for that one.

8/30/2007 11:35:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

I had a visitor, yesterday who seems fitting with today's topic.

8/30/2007 11:42:00 AM  
Blogger Webutante said...

Terrific post, Bob. The only alternative to shrinking from the battle for one's soul and aliveness, is the subtle shutting down emotionally, spiritually and ultimately physically.

I have enjoyed getting to know a wonderful young man over the past year who's one of The Lost Boys of Sudan. His story is amazing. These boys came here to the USA with no family, no money, no nothing but knowing they can live through terrible odds.

Anyway, the other day I met him for a cup of coffee and as he struggled with registering for fall classes, his job at Krogers, and trying to manage with an old car that has a myriad of quirks, he said to me in his thick accent...."sometimes I feel like I deal with the same problems over and over again, and don't get anywhere..."

I smiled and waited a minute before responding, then said: "You know, Aguto, I've been dealing with some of my same problems for way over 40 years now---certainly they're not the same as yours---but I think that's a reality each of us has to deal with, like it or not....wish it weren't so, but it sure has been my experience."

He seemed to get it, and smiled that he knew that was really true. It helps us to grow up when we know, life is just hard much of the time, and certainly an inner battle unlike any other.

Thanks for your wisdom....

8/30/2007 12:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Bob, that was just the kick in the pants I needed today. My little "dark night" has been accompanied by a large amount of pacifism or just plain laziness. For me its out of character too, I like to be aggresive but for some reason or another I got it in my head that to develop spiritually I had to abandon all aggresive qualities and surrender. I believe that I flirted with Buddhism too much. In any case I'm ready to bust out of my funk with a whole lot of striving.

It sure is good to remember we threw ourselves into this thing called life. Granted it may be more stressful than timeless bliss states, but we get to evolve. Thank God for that.

8/30/2007 01:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Argjuna said...

This is a great post. Brings to mind NVP's great maxim:

"The trials of your life are meant to make you, not to break you."

Pick up your bows, ye mighty warriors (men and women)--today is your Kurukshetra.

You fought to be born. Now fight for your evolution.

8/30/2007 02:41:00 PM  
Blogger Gandalin said...

The Zohar states, "the time of prayer is the time of battle." During the time of prayer, there is a spiritual battle between the "evil inclination" (i.e. what David Bakan identified as agency) and the "good inclination." A trivial example is that it is always easy to concentrate on meaningless and trivial imaginings and thoughts that are of no significance, but that when we begin to concentrate on prayer, we are assailed by distracting thoughts. That is the warfare of the evil inclination.

8/30/2007 02:55:00 PM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

Raccoon Alert!

The 'childishly reductive C. Hitchens' (tw-Will) is scheduled for a 3 hr live session on CSPN2 this Sunday's "In Depth" (repeats Monday & 9/8).

Booktv.org is taking questions for him right now.

Here's our chance: Go gettum!

8/30/2007 03:17:00 PM  
Blogger Magnus Itland said...

My native Norway has in theory conscription for the male half of the population, with a mandatory 12 months of training at age 19, then short repetition exercises through the adult years. Unfortunately, starting some years ago, a large part of the recruits were simply too fat to get in shape and still learn something useful in the course of 12 months.

I think this applies even much more in spiritual war, and not just in Norway.

8/30/2007 03:52:00 PM  
Blogger Smoov said...

ximeze:

"Christopher Hitchens"

"In Depth"

Mutually exclusive.

8/30/2007 05:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Alan said...

Amen.

I think spiritual battle is a way to make men see a manly path in religion.

The greatest shock to me in reading Unseen Warfare was the idea of using "holy anger" in confronting our inner parademonsites. For me, it is one of those books that is easy to gloss over very useful tools - especially for this consumer of books.

The gospels were always my model of praying, using the example of bringing Christ to my problems (like those who brought Christ to those in need) and just paying attention. Very Vipisannish of me. However, Jesus did use anger at times (at least feigning anger) and it works just splendidly.

For those familiar with Gurdjieffian teachings, a good dose of anger is a great solution for self-considering: "How dare you bring me into this cesspool of pity, self destruction, etc!!! In the name of Christ, stop being a troll in my mind!)

8/30/2007 06:05:00 PM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

Smoov, no kidding

No doubt within not too many minutes of the start of the program I'll be:
talking back,
calling him a dope,
shaking my head,
telling him how wrong he is,
wondering what mind parasites are at work,
saying You Idiot!,
be stunned at callers who agree,
get totally PO'ed when he tosses his head back to pontificate,
yell at the tube & pound the table,
call him on being an evil bastard,
be reduced to babbling in frustration,

be carted away by the nice men in white coats to soft room where I can't hurt myself or others.

Can't wait: bring it on bubba!

8/30/2007 07:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Van said...

Ximeze,
lol, sounds like fun to me too!

8/30/2007 07:56:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Smoov, You will be interested in this article. Client brought it to me today...

http://www.latimes.com/news/print
edition/asection/la-et-stone29
aug29,1,5906635.story?coll=
la-news-a_section

At first I was really scared by the synchronicity of the LA Times and our thread, but then again relieved after reading it and thinking "how wrong they are once again". Comparing Amy Winehouse and Joss Stone is like comparing a stunning white linen sundress and a sexy leopard print tight cocktail dress. They are both good. Right?

Will- thanks for the thoughts there about suffering, it really helps to look at it that way...

8/30/2007 07:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Van said...

"the decision to have a child, which, in its own way, is as momentous as the earlier decision to have a body. One does so knowing full well that one is jumping feet first into a catastrophe, with no assurance of a happy outcome. It's a total gamble. "

and

"I just can't believe what a high-wire act having a child is. I would never give him back -- ask me again tomorrow -- but at the same time, I'm not sure I would have taken this on had I appreciated the stress beforehand. "

So true, and there are moments when you're not sure you are up to it, but then you are rewarded with a moment from the sidelines - what I did tonight, literaly, 15 yrolds (well, will be in a week) 1st High School football game. A moment where I know we weren't in his mind at all, and were able to annonymously peer into his life (just us, and 200 other parents) and he's standing there, joking with team mates, and then the Coach is calling them together and sending them in and you see the look in their eyes that they're relying on each other, and also the awareness that they know that they can rely on him, and vice versa... that's one of the moments when you realize that for all the diapers, occasional spiritual trench warfare, and assorted ups and downs - there, evidence that you did do your job, proof that you won the major battles - so far, the war isn't over, not by a long shot... still though; Incredibly rewarding.

(BTW, they won)

wv: nobym - what the Injun's wish they'd said to the dutch in New York

8/30/2007 08:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Van said...

Will said "The key, the weapon to bear is attentiveness. Take the hit and be aware of it. By doing so, consciousness is honed, fine-tuned. Deal with it NOW because this opportunity may not come again in a million years."

Yes! That active awareness, not so much with a nearly unconcsious skill, but the direct application of You to the challenge at hand, Reasoning (with a capital R) through the fray - such a loss to have avoided the battle.

8/30/2007 08:28:00 PM  
Blogger Leslie Godwin said...

Van,
I'm really moved by your description of seeing your son at the game. I love that you are happy that he is doing what he's supposed to be doing, not thinking of you at all. I love it when Tristan is doing his boy thing, riding his "motorcycle" (ie, tricycle) around the living room and practicing falling off like the guys doing the big tricks do at the X-games.

I hope T can be that boy someday. Please do share more about this when the mood strikes you.

Mrs. G

8/30/2007 08:29:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"The time of the battle is our whole life."

I think that is a key idea, for there is simply no way to avoid the battle of a lifetime. Or, to be perfectly accurate, you can opt out of the battle on pain of squandering the purpose of your life."

That's good.
The only way to lose is to quit or surrender, implicitely or explicitely...doesn't make a difference.

8/30/2007 08:46:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"You don't really discover who you are or "what you're made of" until you're up against it. Therefore, to deprive man of adversity is to deprive him of the opportunity to grow and evolve, which is apparently the reason why we are here. Or so we have heard from the wise, the merciful, the obnoxious."

Precisely!
As Will said, it's an opportunity.
Between the big fights we hone our skills, our awareness, training like Van's son for the Big Game.

Fighting as a team, and fighting on our own, all at the same time.
Listening to the cOach, and refusing to quit, no matter what happens.

I believe the Priest and the Warrior have much in common when it comes to warfare.
It's like a juxtaposition of two different castes, when fightin' for the same cause.

As above, so below.

Outstanding post, Bob!

8/30/2007 08:57:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"Real warriors understand the spiritual nature of combat -- you might say that they have heroically transposed the unseen combat of the spirtual world to the material plane -- which, I might add, is hardly less spiritual: "War by nature involves the ultimate sacrifice of soldiers, usually of a rare segment of the general population willing to die for an idea, an order, a good or bad cause, to inflict havoc or save humanity."

You said it so well, Bob!
When enough folks "get it" (and incidently, it always seems to be 25-30% or so), the entire culture evolves along with individuals, except for that 20-30% who "deny it", and any stragglers who cling to the fence, seemingly unable to decide, one way or another, and thus condemning themselves by their own indecision.

Like a chess player in a big tournament, if you don't move before the clock runs out it's game over man, and it doesn't matter how talented you are.
Indecision...freezing up, is the same as forfeiting.

Gotta make a stand and fight fight fight!
It really is a simple Good vs Evil thing, if you're fightin' for Noble Causes.

That's what True Honor is: willing to give your all for the Highest PurpOses.

8/30/2007 09:17:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Walt said:
"The starkness of the choice, the clarity of defining (declaring) the "enemy," and the de-termination to do what is necessary -- these qualities produce an effect on one's character."

Bravo Zulu for that insight, Walt!

8/30/2007 09:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Van said...

Thank you Leslie.

"I love that you are happy that he is doing what he's supposed to be doing, not thinking of you at all."

You'll see, there's trully nothing finer. When you are able to glimpse them be themselves... not of course in some flighty sense, but being themselves in the sense of doing what they see by their own lights they should do, that you've brought this person into the world and they can remain here with you or without you... well, Oscars and Noble prizes are disposable jack in the box prizes by comparison.

"I love it when Tristan is doing his boy thing, riding his "motorcycle" (ie, tricycle) around the living room and practicing falling off like the guys doing the big tricks do at the X-games... I hope T can be that boy someday. "

Heh, in just the few pictures Bob has shared here, I've seen that gleam in his eyes... I don't think you'll find trait that in short supply at all!

"Please do share more about this when the mood strikes you."

Funny you should mention that [pulls out wallet, six foot roll of snapshots spills out to the floor...]

;-)

8/30/2007 09:25:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Will said:
"As the purpose of life is to become more conscious, more creative, more of an individual, shrinking from the battle renders one more unconscious, less of an individual, less open not only to the life's trials, but to life's joys and wonderments."

With great pain comes great Joy!

8/30/2007 09:34:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Will said:
"I think that in assuming the role of spiritual warrior one honors the very privilege of having to suffer - at which point, suffering per se actually ceases. One can actually embrace one's suffering - not masochistically as the childishly reductive C. Hitchens would probably think - but as a necessary component in the human drama, which a gift beyond reckoning."

Well said, Will!
When we accept these "gift's beyond reckoning", we can, by
G-d's grace, and our determination through realization, transform a curse into a blessing.

Will, I'm sure glad you're able to comment again.
I love your Willisms! :^)

8/30/2007 09:44:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Van said:
"(BTW, they won)"

So did you, Van! :^)

8/30/2007 09:46:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

River said-
"As they used to say,

"Steel yourselves!"

Amen to that! BTW, we're still sayin' it. :^)

8/30/2007 09:48:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Alan said-
"I think spiritual battle is a way to make men see a manly path in religion."

Good point, Alan.
Men aren't built to play harps in the clouds for eternity.
I mean, sure, a good tune every now and then, but we need those battles, those challenges, to evolve and grow.

And, as Walt mentioned on his blog a few days ago: To preserve Good character while honing it.

8/30/2007 09:54:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

ximeze said...
"Raccoon Alert!

The 'childishly reductive C. Hitchens' (tw-Will) is scheduled for a 3 hr live session on CSPN2 this Sunday's "In Depth" (repeats Monday & 9/8).

Booktv.org is taking questions for him right now.

Here's our chance: Go gettum!"

Man, I hope they use some Raccoon questions! I enjoy watchin' Hitchen's squirm. Heh!

Thanks for the Raccoon alert, Ximeze. :^)

8/30/2007 09:58:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Jehu said-
"No wonder they then translate this cowardice outwardly and hate the warriors in our society."

And the Warriors can see right through the left's psychotic cowardice, Jehu.

8/30/2007 10:02:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Julie said-
"I used to (still do, actually) have a theory that life is, in some ways, like a great big game. It must be hard, it must be mysterious, and it must challenge us, because otherwise what's the point?"

Indeed.
Btw, don't Angels have free will?
They must, or we wouldn't have demons.
Is Petey really sayin' that the boring part is that Angels cannot transcend?
From what I have read, Angels have a hierarchy, so it appears as if Angels can transcend, at least in a limited sense.
And they are always ready to do battle.
Sorry, I've always been curious about Angels.

Jesus said that Heaven is better than we can imagine, so therefore there must be more challenges (for humans anyway) or, as Julie says, what would be the point?

Perhaps that's also why man will be higher than the Angels.
I'm glad most of them aren't jealous or envious, at any rate.

8/30/2007 10:11:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Anonymous said-
"For me its out of character too, I like to be aggresive but for some reason or another I got it in my head that to develop spiritually I had to abandon all aggresive qualities and surrender. I believe that I flirted with Buddhism too much. In any case I'm ready to bust out of my funk with a whole lot of striving."

Unfortunately, there are some "christians" (little c) who believe that pacifism is what God wants, and they think that by spreading this nonsense they'll somehow stop evil or be martyred.

They couldn't be more wrong, as even the shallowist of Bible reading would show.

God, Jesus, a pacifist? Yeah right. Sheesh!

BTW, I'm glad your motivated by Bob's post. Don't give up and you'll do okay! :^)

8/30/2007 10:20:00 PM  
Blogger NoMo said...

Van and Leslie – So does our Maker delight in the lives and growth of us, His children. Simply being, we are a joy to Him. I can only imagine His Ecstasy at each step we take towards Him – arms outstretched - and His Grief at every turning away. It is exactly this reminder that I needed after pondering the recent posts and comments about the valleys and dark nights of the soul. In so very many ways, our children are to us as we are to Him – as above, so below.

8/31/2007 07:01:00 AM  
Blogger NoMo said...

Abba, Father - indeed.

8/31/2007 07:06:00 AM  
Anonymous stu said...

I've been considering taking a hiatus from my career in order to become a Marine Corps officer.

It is a very tough decision to make.

I wonder if my desire has anything to do with extending the spiritual war into my temporal existence...

Any thoughts?

8/31/2007 07:23:00 AM  
Blogger Smoov said...

Lisa,

The LAT was fairly positive about Joss. I really, really like Joss Stone, however to be frank I wouldn't put her quite in the same category as Winehouse. Joss is still more about "covering" the old soul sound--which she does with great success-whereas Winehouse simply IS that sound, and it's not all because she's a tempestuous junkie either.

Joss's band is awesome. With Amy it's all about that searing voice. You can hear the pain in her eyes...

Every time I hear Winehouse intone "what kind of f***ery is this?" in Me & Mr. Jones I get this major flashback to my own torrid relationship with a dark-eyed, firebrand, self-destructive and intensely beautiful young woman some 15 years ago. This girl used that exact same expression, which I've never heard anywhere else until Winehouse came along.

Fortunately the young woman in question pulled through and is married with kids in Boston today, and leads a life devoid of divaesque drama for the most part.

I have another darker story about a girl I knew even before that who did not fare so well (who also reminds me of Winehouse). I may relate that on today's thread if you're interested.

8/31/2007 07:23:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I dunno -- I listened to some samples -- which I admit is not a very fair test -- and I hear the form, but not the substance. I think the difference is that most of the classic soul singers were steeped in the gospel experience, and received their training before a live audience of fervent believers, whereas these young ladies are just copying the form from the outside, but not from the spiritual inside. I can hear that they possess good instruments, but they draw attention to themselves with technique, instead of the technique being in service of the song. Frankly, even Aretha at her best was sometimes overwhelmed by her own technique -- as was sometimes true of Ray Charles as well.

I'll keep my ears open, but I still prefer Etta James, Gladys Knight, Mavis Staples, or Dusty Springfield. I don't see how Dusty in Memphis can be surpassed....

That's my admittedly superficial two cents....

8/31/2007 08:09:00 AM  
Anonymous cousin dupree said...

Also, some of the lyrics are too subtle, like "F*ck Me Pumps." What's she really saying?

8/31/2007 08:24:00 AM  
Blogger Smoov said...

Yes, well F*ck me Pumps is none too subtle, however you have to bear in mind that the UK today is a vastly coarser place than Detroit was in 1973. Hell, much of the UK is coarser than Detroit is now.

Blues and soul are all about pain, and Ms. Winehouse certainly knows from pain.

I don't see the Gladys Knight/Amy Winehouse thing as an either/or proposition. I listen to the oldies as much as ever. However I am also interested in music which is being created today. Your point re not knowing what will be considered great in the long term is well-taken, however I don't really consider any of the genres of popular music to be truly great in the way An die Fruede is universally, cosmically great. I suppose some jazz may come close, but I certainly would never put any blues or rock in the same category as Bach or Beethoven.

Who was it that said: "Rock & Roll is about f***ing"?

Bach wasn't about that.

8/31/2007 09:17:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I am certain that a fair amount of Rock, Soul, Gospel, Country, Jazz and R & B will be listened to forever, but on its own terms, not in comparison to Bach or Beethoven.

The greatest worry of the record industry -- at least prior to digital downloading -- was that most of their money was made from their back catalogue, and they knew full well that contemporaty artists were not creating a catalogue that anyone would be interested in in 20 or 30 years. But we shall see....

As I've said before, I don't make a big musical distinction between "1927" and "2007," as it's all part of one continuous stream. Likewise, few people say they prefer the music of 1780 or 1806. Rather, they just like 18th or 19th century music.

I guess you could say I'm a big fan of 20th century American black-derived music from, say, 1927 to 1977 or so... A big part of the problem is the deterioration of recording techniques since then.
Most digital music just doesn't sound right....

I think I'll carry this over into the new thread and start a big argument.....

8/31/2007 09:58:00 AM  
Blogger BrianFH said...

Julie;
Your pix left me rapt
-or slt. ;) :)

stu;
about pitching it all and going for it, check out patdollard.com, read his background. Dumped a millionS$ Hollywood agent career, home, family to front-line report from the ME.

9/04/2007 06:45:00 PM  

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