Throughout my life, I have been blessed with jobs that required a lot of travel. Soon after I graduated from the University of Utah, I was a b-list touring musician regularly working with “classics” groups like the Drifters/Coasters/Platters (always on the same bill), the Classics IV, the Marvelettes, and even Herman’s Hermits, once, in Hong Kong, entirely coincidentally (as things tend to happen in Hong Kong, for better or worse).
Now, you have to understand that at this time—somewhere in the 90s, I guess—there were no longer any original members in groups like the Coasters/Drifters/Platters. Sometimes, there was a loosely associated cousin or something singing tenor, but usually, the tribute acts were comprised of talented musicians who could faithfully recreate not just the songs, but the dance moves and the whole vibe of the acts they were memorializing. Watching them effortlessly interact with the audience was a master class in performance.
I’ve been reading about the remarkable history of Islam in the book, Islam,by Karen Armstrong. It’s a terrific, concise narrative about the formation of a community based not on borders but beliefs. It is a story strikingly similar to that of early Judaism, with its revelation of divine law as a blueprint for the way we, made in God’s image, are to behave in this world.
Almost in passing, Armstrong remarks that while Christianity is based on dogmas, creeds, and things you must believe,both Judaism and Islam are ways of life.Judaism and Islam ask us to entirely submit ourselves—mind, body, and soul—to God. In so doing, we are naturally compelled to work for the good of the entire community.
On first reading, I agreed with Armstrong. Yes, Christianity does seem to be obsessed with Jesus as the repayment for the debt we could never repay. Yes, the majority of Christian denominations, both Catholic and Protestant, ask congregants to recite some sort of creed that testifies in some way to Je…
Like Jesus, we began our Lenten journey in the desert confronting ha-satan: the ideas, people, habits, influences, and uncharitable actions (to both others and ourselves) that falsely convince us we are not God’s beloved children.
Satan’s desert challenges force us to reconnect to God, if only in fleeting visions that leave our hairs on edge. The solitude of the desert reminds us that we are not alone. Every human is connected through universes of cells in the all-being of God. And we are amazed, and we are changed.
Awareness of God as the metaphysical fabric of everything is transformative. Remember, the term meta refers to a thing's underlying structure, not the supernatural. The desert and Satan’s temptations awaken us to the idea that God is perfectly natural! Don’t underestimate the power of recognizing God as natural instead of supernatural. St. Francis loved that idea.
Natural God is the total sensory beauty of changing seasons. Natural God is the gently wafting hint of salt i…