Chet Atkins, Black Mountain Rag

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
For he has visited and redeemed his people,
And has raised up a horn of salvation for us
In the house of his servant David,
As he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets
Who have been since the world began,
That we should be saved from our enemies
And from the hand of all who hate us,
To perform the mercy promised to our fathers
And to remember his holy covenant.

Elis Regina

Jeff Sack & Rick Peterson

Caty, the cuter roofer

The roofer, Brian, in background, is pastor of the little non-denom. church I was part of, with my family, from about age 15 to 25. Caty is his third — she’s 17 now, or close to it. Brian has been taking roof jobs to supplement income through most of his ministerial life, and Caty is his capable sometime helper, up there, in the past year or so. He also coaches her soccer team. They have a great father-daughter thing going.

I don’t see a lot of their family any more — it’s a dozen-plus years since I moved away, became a Presbyterian, eventually sort of moved on from Presbyterianism, eventually moved back to Baltimore in a different place in life. It happens that Brian picked up this big job recently, and I was available and had an interest in getting back up on a roof a bit. So I’ve been part of his ad hoc labor crew for a few days in the past week or so. The other help have been a handful of kids from his church, now in their late teens, all of whom I babysat, herded in Sunday school, and what have you, when they were little.

Among fond memories of mine from when just a little older than they are now are a few occasions, during evening sessions of some church business or study at Brian’s, when I took the job of putting the baby to bed — the baby being Caty — and singing her to sleep. I was good at this, in fact, since practiced with my own sister (among others), but Caty could be a challenge to calm down. Fortunately, I had a great little stock of old songs — Bing Crosby, the Mills Brothers — in my arsenal. Hard to resist when you’re being rocked and lullabied with ‘Nevertheless,’ ‘It’s been a long, long time,’ ‘Up a lazy river,’ ‘Basin Street’ . . . .

My circumstances are such that I don’t get to sing babies to sleep much any more. And I miss it. It is some compensation, though, to see kids I had a hand in taking care of as little ones turning into capable young men & women — and somehow especially good to be there, this past week, to see Caty climbing around on a roof with her dad.

MJQ with Laurindo Almeida

From today’s email. — I’m not much for end-of-year partying, really, but this invite has me wishing I lived closer to Kansas City.

At one point in its Creed, as is well known, the Council of Nicaea clearly went beyond the language of Scripture, in describing Jesus as “of one substance with the Father.” Both in ancient and modern times the presence in the Creed of this philosphical term, “of one substance,” has given rise to major disputes. Again and again it has been suggested that it indicates a serious departure not only from the language but also from the thought of the Bible. We can only answer this charge if we ascertain precisely what it actually says. What does “of one substance” really mean? The answer is this: the term is used solely as a translation of the word “Son” into philosophical language. And why is it necessary to translate it? Well, whenever faith begins to reflect, the question arises as to what, in reality, the word “Son” might mean as applied to Jesus. The word is very familiar in the language of the religions, and so people cannot avoid asking what it means in this particular case. Is it a metaphor, as is commonly found in the history of religion, or does it mean more? The Council of Nicaea, in interpreting the word “Son” philosophically by means of the concept “of one substance,” is saying that “Son” is to be understood here, not in the sense of religious metaphor, but in the most real and concrete sense of the word. The central word of the New Testament, the word “Son,” is to be understood literally.

So this philosophical phrase, “of one substance,” adds nothing to the New Testament; on the contrary, at the crucial point of its testimony, it defends its literal meaning so that it cannot be allegorized. Thus it signifies that God’s word does not deceive us. Jesus is not only described as the Son of God, he is the Son of God. God does not remain hidden for all eternity beneath the clouds of imagery which obscure more than they reveal. He actually touches man, and allows himself to be touched by man, in the person of him who is the Son. In speaking of the Son, the New Testament breaks through the wall of imagery found in the history of religions and shows us the reality — the truth on which we can stand, by which we can live and die.

A little more from then-Archbishop Ratzinger’s Behold The Pierced One, 1984.

Forty-five Years

Conscience would not allow me to vote for him, but I feel a swell of gratitude with the outcome of this election, even so. It’s a great day to be an American. We need to pray that the Obama presidency, too, is a great presidency.