Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Good for the Soul

English: Young Johann Sebastian Bach. 1715. Te...
English: Young Johann Sebastian Bach. 1715. Teri Noel Towe seems to demonstrate that the portrait is probably not of Bach (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
   As writer Cecelia Porter tells it, 17th and 18th century “occasional music” was “for coronations of monarchs and installations of important civic leaders.” She notes a glaring significance: “All these commemorations, whether religious or civic, relied on sacred texts-a far cry from today’s custom of choosing secular music for public heads of state.”  
   Thanks to The Washington Post (Style, C10, 9/25/2012), Ms Porter's music review of works performed locally by the Washington Bach Consort led me this morning to YouTube, to savor some of the cited works: “Preise, Jerusalem, den Herrn,” BWV 119, “composed to honor the Leipzig town council’s inauguration in 1748,” and Bach’s “Lobe den Herrn,” BWV 69.  (She noted also Washington Bach Consort’s performance of John Blow’s “God spake sometime in visions” and William Boyce’s “The king shall rejoice.”)  

   When I hear certain compositions by J. S. Bach, I recall that God is working all things together for good to those who love Him, as St. Paul wrote in the familiar Romans 8:28 scripture. That Bach wrote music for “the glory of God and the recreation of the mind” is evident. His composing has brought us a sense that life is intended for good, capable of higher planes that we can only attempt to imagine or dream; yet by the grace of faith we participate in them, in part, now and will participate fully one future day.  
    J.S. Bach is my favorite composer, but not an exclusive favorite, if that makes sense to you. It is like love, this love of certain music, in that it is open, receptive, varied, and unlimited. Bach's inventive genius works behind music of the eras since his time. I recommend you to listen to an overview, with music excerpts, of Bach’s life and musical influences. Also, look for audio or video featuring Yo Yo Ma or Rostropovich playing Bach cello compositions.  
   I came to know of Bach’s life at about age eight or nine, when my new sister-in-law gave me a children’s biography of his life. I was taking piano lessons and she, a calm, intelligent young woman, recently married to my oldest brother, held my fascination. Anyone that could catch one of my handsome brothers had to be special. She set a bright tone, beginning by directing me to an interest to Bach.  
   No one has to know, grasp, or understand most of the deeper technicalities of the composing genius of Bach. You may know what I mean, perhaps having, as I did, to learn Two-part Inventions and the calming, flowing "Well-Tempered Clavier.” Of the latter, I relate instantly to what one concert pianist, who plays it every day, said:  

It has something good for the soul…
“ is so pure, cleansing...
like taking a shower,”

   “Bach was able,” says one of the video commentators, “to articulate the inner self of modernity…um, and we are modern people… (his music) gives to our fragmented lives a…sense of significance that takes us beyond the muddled present and helps us touch something timeless and eternal….” –

“The glory of God and the recreation of the mind…”
—the musical reasoning of Bach

Sources: All quotes not cited from The Washington Post are from the YouTube video. Subscribers to The Washington Post by delivery can get e-paper free and paste:

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Friday, September 21, 2012

China: A Hundred Flowers, National Book Festival, and My Recommended China Books

Pictured here is former Chinese Chairman Mao Z...
Pictured here is former Chinese Chairman Mao Zedong announcing the founding of the People's Republic of China on October 1 1949... (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Readers interested in more about China, as well as aspiring book reviewers, should read Eugenia Zuckerman's review in The Washington Post today (September 21, 2012), "A bloom in the dark of Mao's China." It's about Gail Tsukiyama's novel A Hundred Flowers from St. Martin's Press. 
     Author Tsukiyama is expected at the National Book Festival this weekend, on the Mall between the Lincoln Memorial and the Capitol. The festival, initiated by former First Lady Laura Bush and in its second decade, is entrance-free. If you cannot get to the festival, you can check out C-Span if you have TV cable. They will cover some authors speaking about their books, and I hope that author Tsukiyama might be one of them. 
     I was in Beijing after Mao's rule, and I saw his Little Red Book at sidewalk displays near Tienanmen Square. U. S. news magazines in the book's hay-day did not, in my view, take Mao or his red book seriously enough; if they did, they hid it well. However, Nien Cheng, in her book, Life and Death in Shanghai, told how she used the book's declarations to state her case often when brought before her inquisitors, when she was in prison under one of Mao's purges. 
     A Hundred Flowers is mainly about people thrown together in a hard time and scraping from their miseries some different kind of beauty. The novel is based on history under Mao and the review describes it as a book of "secrets, guilt and regret swirling through" the story; the reviewer adds "it might have been a book about betrayals - from those of Mao to those within the family" of the story. 
     I plan to read A Hundred Flowers next. 
I recommend-from my collection on China:

--Life and Death in Shanghai-a memoir by Nien Cheng 

--The Unknown Story of Mao by Jung Chang, author of Wild Swans, and Jon Halliday. Time called it “An atom bomb of a book.” In the same vein, if is a bombshell of disclosure of evil at work in the life of one man and his tyrannies toward “friend” and foe.  

--Mao and China: a Legacy of Turmoil by Stanley Karnow, Introduction by Nien Cheng, author of Life and Death in Shanghai-“Anyone who wishes to understand the Communist revolution in China should read this book”- from the Introduction

--Hudson Taylor and China's Greatest Century-series by A. J. Broomhall

--Man of Suffering by Watchman Nee

--The Heavenly Man by Brother Yun

--Bill Wallace of China by Jesse C. Fletcher_pre-Mao

T--he Good Earth by Pearl Buck_pre-Mao_ (author withstood literary criticism for this book that was appreciated by many people in China)  

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Friday, September 14, 2012

Once to every man and nation...

English: Image of American writer and diplomat...
English: Image of American writer and diplomat James Russell Lowell as a younger man. Cropped version. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
English: Title page of My Study Windows by Jam...
English: Title page of My Study Windows by James Russell Lowell. Printed in Boston in 1871 by James R. Osgood and Company. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Once to Every Man and Nation

Once to every man and nation, comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of truth with falsehood, for the good or evil side;
Some great cause, some great decision, offering each the bloom or blight,
And the choice goes by forever, ’twixt that darkness and that light…

...Though the cause of evil prosper, yet the truth alone is strong;
Though her portion be the scaffold, and upon the throne be wrong;
Yet that scaffold sways the future, and behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above His own.

From the poem by James Russell Lowell printed in the Bos­ton Cour­i­er
De­cem­ber 11, 1845.

*man:generic/male and female

A memorial note: We have learned today of the death of Margaret W. Owens (May 30, 1922-August 10, 2012), wife of M. O. Owens, Gastonia, NC's Covenant Village. In the recent The Watchman dedication, Mr. Owens wrote: "I am grateful to God for the brief time she graced our household, and gave me her love in fullness." 

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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

9/11/12_As We Remember, More Terrors Awaken Us

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 09:  A woman reads na...
REMEMBERING 9/11/01. NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 2009: Above: Unidentified woman;  Below: Rivera Leo, from New York 2009. 
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 09:  Rivera Leo, from...
[Visitors] read names on a flag in the Remembrance Field of Honor, an installation of flags in Battery Park, in memory of the victims of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, on September 9, 2011 in New York City.The flags, which are designed to resemble the flag of the United States, are on display from September 8 - 12, and list the name of every person who was killed in the terrorist attack. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
        • 9/11/2012 One American fatally shot and another wounded in attack on U. S. Consulate in Libya.   [9/12/12 Update @ end of post]

          "Protesters" attack U. S. Consulate in Libya soon after a fiery protest at the U.S. embassy in Egypt where protesters tore down an American flag, replacing it with black Islamist flag. Facts source: Fox  News online and live broadcasts..

          One American was shot to death and a second was wounded in the hand, al-Sharef said. He did not give further details.
               The violence at the consulate lasted for about three hours, but the situation has now quieted down, said another witness.
               "I heard nearly 10 explosions and all kinds of weapons. It was a terrifying day," said the witness who refused to give his name because he feared retribution.
          Read more:

        NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 09:  Penni Barnett, f...
        Above:  Penni Barnett, from Silver Spring, MD 2009
    Protesters storm US Embassy in Cairo
    Egyptian protesters, largely ultraconservative Islamists, climbed the walls of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, made their way into the courtyard and brought down the flag, replacing it with a black flag with an Islamic inscription to protest a film attacking Islam's prophet, Muhammad.
  •  Egyptian protesters climb the walls of the U.S. embassy during protests in Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012. Egyptian protesters, largely ultra conservative Islamists, have climbed the walls of the U.S. embassy in Cairo, went into the courtyard and brought down the flag, replacing it with a black flag with Islamic inscription, in protest of a film deemed offensive of Islam.Source: AP2012_as seen on  Read more:

The Mob terror in Egypt and Libya far
exceeds the label "protest" used by the media and the U. S. State Department. Egyptian forces tried, unsuccessfully, to get control of the Cairo mob, according to news reports. Such violence invades a guest country's property to inflict alarm, damage, and terror. Therefore, we have another eye-opening event to push us to wake up, to realize that we are, seriously, a hated enemy, whether we are officials or average citizens not connected with what is erupting. The threats against democracy, and especially Americans and Christians, around the world must be taken seriously by world leaders of democratic nations, starting with the United States leadership and people.
     Embassies and consulates are considered "sovereign soil" of their respective countries.  What do we call an attack on any country's "sovereign soil"? What term would be strong enough to express what such an attack means? It is certain that the correct word is not "protest." Since the accurate description or label has not been used by the media or the government, it should be soon.   
     One of the strongest statements about these events came from the British Prime Minister today. David Cameron called the events "appalling."
     Much of the world does not understand that freedom of speech is abused by those who say or do offensive things. In this case, Christians may well advise others to "preach Christ" rather than to "attack other religions." However, violent people who are enraged take violent actions, going on the offensive, terrorizing others who are not connected with or responsible for the latest "insult" that set the spark. The violent ones are quick to exert themselves to violence, even murder, when the Internet or other media purveyors speak freely, though not wisely, kindly, or accurately. 
    Much of the world lacks the "freedom experience"; they are acquainted primarily with repressive regimes or religions, or both. They cannot yet grasp what freedom of speech means, its risks as well as its blessings; they cannot or do not wish to grasp the distinctions between private words and actions on one hand and government words and actions on the other. 
     The U. S. government and the U. S. people had nothing to do with and would not have endorsed the Internet video, produced by private citizens of the U. S., that are reported to have inflamed already anti-American people in Cairo and in Libya. Similarly, it appears that the new leadership or lack thereof in Egypt and Libya have allowed a tempting space into which violent forces choose to step. 

In this writer's humble opinion and hope, as many "protesters" as possible will be hunted, rounded up, and arrested, made subject to justice that disallows rampaging destruction, murder, and other terrors.  
     Meanwhile, we can speak freely about our views regarding the instability of two Middle East countries. That instability is connected to the attacks this 9/11 and are linked, if not directly then indirectly, as part of their recent histories with the U. S. government. The violent protests come on the date that is known around the world as a day of memorial and mourning for Americans and other nations who lost loved ones in the attacks on the the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon in Washington, DC, and in the attack that ended in a field Pennsylvania, protecting lives, it is believed, in Washington, DC, marked for the fourth attack on 9/11 eleven years ago. 
     These are a few sad facts and thoughts just past midnight on this 9/11/2012. This writer hopes there will be no apologies from the U.S.. 
     One hopes that efforts are now on-going by U. S., Egyptian, and Libyan officials to hunt down and deal with those responsible.
     May prayers arise in homes and churches for the victims of terror and for peace-loving people in Egypt and Libya that are caught up in the middle of terrorist actions. They have experienced and feared such actions for many years when they have spoken freely or tried to live free.  

Libyan President Mohamed Magariaf:
"This is a criminal act that will not go unpunished. This is part of a series of cowardice acts by supporters of the former regime who want to undermine Libya's revolution," Prime Minister Abdurrahim Keib told reporters. 
     Keib said the details of the attack were under investigation.
Libyan President Mohamed Magariaf apologized for the deaths and vowed that justice would be served.
    "We refuse that our nation's lands be used for cowardice and revengeful acts. It is not a victory for God's Sharia or his prophet for such disgusting acts to take place," Magariaf said. "We apologize to the United States, the people of America, and the entire world. We and the American government are standing on the same side, we stand on the same side against outlaws." Read more:

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Saturday, September 08, 2012

Star Trek-46th Anniversary Today is a Google Feature

Publicity photo of Leonard Nimoy and William S...
Publicity photo of Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner as Mr. Spock and Captain Kirk from the television program Star Trek. (Public Domain photo: Credit: Wikipedia)
Google's search engine is using a clever 'Goo,' image now to announce that Star Trek celebrates its 46th anniversary today. 

Non-Trekkies likely know that the fantastically popular futuristic space drama retains a large and enthusiastic following.

If you are a non-Trekkie, have you thought of why the show became an icon of drama? 

One less-discussed reason might interest admirers and couldn't-care-less readers: the management style of Captain Kirk and the team style of his crew. 

The Kirk management aspect might interest  viewers to re-view the series. James Kirk is a complex fictional character, as are Spock and others.

I am a fan but not a genuine "Trekkie," and hearing about the management style aspect intrigued me. The 2009 follow-on movie was good, I thought, and I watched it twice; the Captain's son was played by Chris Pine, and there was a return appearance by Leonard Nimoy.    

Note to followers of this blog: I appreciate that you are a follower of Opinari Writers....and Welcome to newest followers, too. 

Side-line: Today, 8 September 2012, on Book TV (I am a "c-Spannie"), Michael Beschloss is interviewed on topics of Presidents Lincoln and Johnson. 

Copyright (c)2012 Opinari Writers-Like this blog? I hope you will Tweet, FB, Like, and recommend it. Thank you.
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