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Archive for the ‘sacred’ tag

A Holiday Tradition that Just Won’t Die

By Gary Laderman
from Religion Dispatches

It’s that time of year again. Shoppers are looking for gifts, It’s a Wonderful Life is starting its endless loop on television, families are making plans to come together for the traditions that mark the season, and the pervasive awareness that another year has passed is creeping into our collective consciousness.

For as long as I can remember, the buildup to the New Year in holiday media coverage has included one particularly poignant element that now, as I come ever closer to 50 years old, haunts me more than arouses curiosity—the rollout of the year’s important deaths.

The lists this year are noting the deaths of Joe Frazier, Steve Jobs, Amy Winehouse, Bubba Smith, Andy Rooney, Clarence Clemons, Geraldine Ferraro, and many others—some rich, some poor; some famous, some rather obscure; some young, some really old.

So why do the dead crash the holidays, year after year?

I do not know the longer history of these year-end death lists, or why media both old and new have embraced this annual practice. The lists are neither exhaustive nor comprehensive—most of them are cultural repositories of once living people who are no longer, ghosts now brought to the public eye and representing… what? Fame? Accomplishment? Impact? Tragedy? All these are relevant, no doubt.

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December 15th, 2011 at 10:41 am

Experiencing the Sacred within Secular Music

Charles Howard
from Huffington Post

Professor Kirk Byron Jones messed me up. In a good way. His Jazz of Preaching class that I so joyfully attended during my second year of seminary at Andover Newton, was a symphony of holy mischief with each class session simultaneously graying and clarifying where the believer may encounter the Presence of God. Back then there was much talk in seminaries and divinity schools about “border crossing” and that is exactly where this course was taught – at the closely watched and fiercely guarded border between the sacred and the secular. And that’s a dangerous place to be. The few who dare step over the clearly delineated lines are either labeled as groundbreaking ambassadors or lost, wandering ex-pat heretics.

Jones invited students to not only visit the border between what is also called the holy and the profane, he invited us to dance on the border and encourage trade between the two warring nations.

We listened to Duke Ellington and Mahalia Jackson’sCome Sunday, which I can’t hear without tearing up. We raised our hands in praise when we played Coltrane’s divine utterance A Love Supreme in which he says with perfect articulation through his saxophone, “It all has to do with it…” We praised, we wept, we paused, we danced and we shouted with artist after artist.

As a preaching class, the lessons on improvisation while preaching, blues preaching, harmony, call and response and the myriad of applicable metaphors are still notions that I draw from when I am given the honor of entering the pulpit. Jones wrote them up in his wonderful book by the same title The Jazz of Preaching. But there was a deeper lesson that I walked away with: The border between the sacred and the secular is not as firm as it may seem.

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Graduation is a Sacred Moment of Many

by Matt Idom
from Huffington Post

Seated on the front row of the second level of the Texas Tech gym makes it hard to “feel” the pomp and circumstance of the commencement proceedings as the class of 2011 marches in. This is a seat intended to place one over the fast break and the last second shot, not a daughter’s moment.

But it is a moment, a sacred moment.

The dignitaries and speaker, the long line of professors all parade in as the music is piped over the huge speakers. The jumbo screen competes for my attention as the black robed and color hooded spectacle moves to their places. Then, finally, the faceless voice introduces the 2011 Graduates.

I remember. I remember when she was placed in my arms in the delivery room. She was healthy and her mother was healthy, and I sighed a prayer of thanks. I woke up the next morning and she was toddling through the house, already that personality that demanded to be seen as an individual personified in the daily interactions. This one had a will.

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May 31st, 2011 at 5:15 am

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