A Gifted Guitarist You Might Have Missed (Music for Mondays)

Goes by the name of Prince. Oh you’ve heard of him, you just forgot how good a guitarist he is. This guy is a genius. Don’t believe me? That’s ok. Do you think he is still a pretender prancing around in frilly outfits? Let me tell you, and this is just my humble opinion, Michael Jackson is the pretender next to this guy. Have a look at these four selections for the proof.

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The 27 Club (Music for Mondays)

Photo credit: Syzmanski 

This past weekend, the news out of the UK was that singer, songwriter Amy Winehouse died. I’m not sure what the autopsy will show, but the press says her death was possibly from a drug overdose.

I really wasn’t a big fan of hers because I never really got around to hearing her music. I do remember her being splashed all over the internet, and by extension I guess that means the tabloids too.

I was saddened to hear of her passing though. It’s heart-breaking to learn of the demise of anyone with a gift that delights the world. At such a tender age, she was catapulted to fame, and her reaction to it may have contributed to her undoing. It could happen to any of us. It has happened to many others in her line of work.

And so it is that the newest member of the 27 Club will be put to rest. And as a kind of requiem music post, I do not wish to celebrate her crossing over into the select group of deceased musicians who preceded her in membership of this “club” by dying at the same young age. But she does join the company of some rock n’ roll music legends and I’ll share with you a few of them today. I said a prayer for her soul, and for the souls of those who preceded her.

Amy Winehouse, Back to Black. I’m a horrible consumer of recently popular music. As I’ve mentioned before, when it comes to the latest stuff, I live under a rock. So I was surprised when I saw this haunting video from what the rest of you know as being from Amy Winehouse’s album that won five (5!) Grammy Awards. The imagery in this selection is all too prophetic. And in a way, this song may even help us remember those whose deaths have been eclipsed by hers in the news.

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The Rolling Stones, Paint It Black. A charter member of the “27 Club” is Brian Jones, the founder of the Rolling Stones. He died under “mysterious” circumstances (death by misadventure?!) a month after leaving the band on July 3, 1969, at the age of 27. On this particular song, he is playing the sitar, which is the signature sound on this hit that went to #1 both in the U.S. and the U.K. in 1966. It seems Brian could play almost any instrument he took a fancy to.

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Jimi Hendrix, All Along the Watchtower. Next on the club list, the innovative, ex-paratrooper, guitar genius named Jimi Hendrix. He died on September 18, 1970 from a combination of drugs and alcohol. Check him out as he covers Bob Dylan’s classic that he made his own in this live performance from the year he died. Hendrix could have played guitar upside down and sideways too. In fact, he did. He was a lefty, so he turned the classic Fender Stratocaster right-hand model upside down and strung it backwards for his purposes. He took the electric guitar to places no one even thought possible.

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Janis Joplin, Try (Just a Little Bit Harder). Janis Joplin had a lot in common with Amy Winehouse. A soulful voice, with a deep range. The ability to belt out tunes in a way that just made you realize that she poured every ounce of herself into it. Maybe so much that she thought there was nothing left. She died on October 4, 1970 of a possible heroin overdose. This is from a performance on the Dick Cavett Show on July 18, 1969. This song does not need a little more “cow bell,” if you know what I mean.

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The Doors, Break On Through (To the Other Side). July 3, 1971 on the second anniversary of Brian Jones death, Jim Morrison, the lead singer and lyricist of the Doors died in Paris, France. Cause of death? Heart failure is what the coroner came up with. Steve Huey, his biographer writes, he “would often improvise poem passages while the band played live, which was his trademark. He is widely regarded, with his wild personality and performances, as one of the most iconic, charismatic and pioneering frontmen in rock music history.” Val Kilmer played him in Oliver Stone’s movie. I’ll have to check it out.

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Nirvana, All Apologies. Aside from Amy Winehouse, I was too young when the rest of the members of this select group passed to remember a thing about their departures. Oh, I remember when Elvis died, but he wasn’t 27 years old. And he died when I was old enough to remember exactly where I was when I heard the news. But when Kurt Cobain committed suicide by a shotgun blast on April 5, 1994? I remembered thinking that it was just a sad and tragic waste; a loss not just to his band and fans, but to his recently started family. He personified the Seattle “grunge rock” genre.

This video is from an MTV Unplugged episode that aired 4 months before Kurt took his own life. Current Foo Fighters front man Dave Grohl (who was the drummer for Nirvana) and guitarist Pat Smear, who Cobain added to relieve some of the pressure off himself, can be seen playing here as well.

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Would You Believe Because Rock Music and Theology are Compatible?

As regular readers know, I’ve shared music on the blog practically since Webster invited me aboard. I don’t recall how it happened, but I remember when he posted a YouTube video in a post and I thought, “wow, that is cool. I wonder if Webster would let me post some music videos too?” We did a post together in January of last year, and by then the fledgling project got off the ground in earnest.

Blah, blah, blah, Frank…whoop-de-do, right? Music for Mondays, big deal. I know, I know, I go over the top with it sometimes, and other times I barely even add liner notes. But the thing is, though I’m not gifted with musical ability myself, I really enjoy music, and respect it as an artform. And though the MfM posts published here run the gamut from Chant to Classical, the bulk of my posts have been written around popular music. And for the most part, rock n’ roll.

So why am I boring all of you about this late on Tuesday night? Because I just found out about a book that I simply must read, and I discovered a blog that I’ve just added to the “Cool Links” list and, à la Mark Shea at his Dark Lordly best, I will command that you all go investigate it at once. First the book.

No, I haven’t read it! I only just found out about it. It’s written by a fellow named David Nantais, a guy with a resume about a mile wide and two miles deep. David thought he wanted to be a Jesuit priest, see, and he studied at the seminary preparing to follow that vocation. He got married back in 2008 and, well, go look at his CV for all the details.

I saw a brief sketch of a review on his recently published book entitled Rock-A My Soul. Here’s what Fr. James Martin, SJ (author of The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything) had to say about the author and the book,

David Nantais is, hands down, one of the best young writers on Christian spirituality: inviting, inventive, and insightful. In Rock-a My Soul, he offers a fascinating look at how rock music, often thought to be a threat to faith, can actually support and nourish one’s spiritual life. If you’re a music fan, Nantais, a rock musician himself, will show you how the music you love can draw you closer to God. If you’re a believer, Nantais will serve as an experienced guide to modes of experiencing God that you might never have considered. And if you’re a music fan and a believer, well, then this book will, as the band said, rock you.

Operators are standing-by, order your copy today! This is exciting news for me, because I love rock, and of course, I love the Rock of our Faith even more. As my MfM posts will attest, I’ve always seen the complimentarity between the yearning of human beings, and how our deepest longings are often reflected in contemporary music. Jesus, indeed, goes mainstream through music.

And now, here is your next assignment me hearties: go check out this neat blog called Rock and Theology that I just happened upon. I would tell you more about it, but I’m too busy letting you know that it even exists to have spent much time there myself. It all started when,

a theologian friend sent me a link from “Whispers in the Loggia,” to a story about Notker Wolf, then the head of the Benedictines, a Catholic religious order. There was Wolf, strumming an electric guitar with right hand, left hand a-swashing the neck forth and back, face full of focus and a drum kit off his right shoulder. Oh, yes, that’s definitely an atypically liturgical shade of concert orange sidelight shining onto him and the kit, as well. And that cowl—so exceedingly metal! As a cohabitor of Catholicism, rock music, and theology, as a devotee of loud sounds shaken out of guitars under auburn lights, I could hardly breathe. What face of rock was this? I felt in this picture a strange, uncontrollable, entrancing, and consoling beckoning.

Whaat? The head of the Benedictines, Dom Notker Wolf is/was a rocker?! That alone is just another reason why I am Catholic. Then I found out that the blog is part of a project sponsored in part by Fordham University, etc, etc, and there is a boatload of contributors, including David Nantais, all of which have advanced degrees in music and are rockers in their spare time.

Look, I’d love to chat about this with you some more, but I have to head on over to Rock and Theology for a little bit of spiritual rock n’ roll therapy. Feel free to join me!

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Three from S.D. (Music for Mondays)

I had a super busy weekend, thus not much on the posting front. My family and I played on the water all day Saturday, and spent Sunday criss-crossing the Carolinas taking my daughter to a camp. Now it’s Monday morning and my “work for food” beckons.

But on the heels of my last post, I’ve got a couple of songs from a group whose sound I love. I don’t know much about the members of the band, and I don’t need to either. I’m not saying they are Catholics, saints, or even angels. I’m saying they JAM though, and with a raw sound that speaks of “the struggle.”

So “S.D.”, as in Social Distortion. Here are three of their songs that stand out to me,

Story of My Life. Does this ring any bells with anyone?

Life goes by so fast,
You only want to do what you think is right.
Close your eyes and then it’s past;
(it’s the) story of my life.

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Ball and Chain. Singing about marriage? Please. This is about the weight of sin folks. At least, that’s how I hear it. Born to lose, and destined to fail.” Without Christ, that about sums it up.

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Angels’ Wings. Dude…this is the work I was talkin’ about the other day!

I triumphed in the face of adversity
And I became the man I never thought I’d be
And now my biggest challenge, a thing called love
I guess I’m not as tough as I thought I was

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I’ve gotta go to work. I’ll be back later.

Stuff I Heard This Weekend (Music for Mondays)

Yep, you read that title right. There is nothing more to this post, and nothing less. Some of these songs I heard in the house, or on the road. None of them were from an i-Pod or anything like that. Usually, I prefer to have music arrive to my ears by chance. Call me crazy. Oh, and this post is so long, I’m publishing it on Sunday night. Call it the Early Edition.

So that is what you have to look forward to from me today. No reasoned approach to the selection. No ulterior motive to the picks. But sometimes, and trust me I’m open to seeing things this way now, the songs just come unannounced and resonate with what is happening in the world of my faith and the new oxygen supply of my life. I speak of my love of the Church here, if you hadn’t noticed that trait rearing it’s head already.

It’s a jumble of old and new, but only if “new” is used very loosely. New, as in “newer rock n’ roll.” Have a listen and see how these tunes tickled my puzzler this past weekend. Warning: The final song in the post is 24+ minutes long. LOL.

The Who, Can’t Explain. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the subject of the Faith and the Church is so deep, and so wide, that it can never be exhausted in terms of ideas to write or blog about. Take this blog, for instance. From one author, to two, and then three, and back to one again, YIMCatholic has 1089 posts published on the books, all wrapped around the title statement and you now what? Webster and Allison are still out there writing posts too. See? She’s like a rich vein in a mine whose surface has only just been scratched. Better yet, it’s like what Our Lord says here,

the water that I will give to him will become in him a fountain of water, springing up into eternal life. —John 4:10

Other than that, my love for Christ and His Church is unexplainable except it must be Love. I saw this on the Facebook page of the Who and the first song of the set was chosen.

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Bruce Springsteen, Tunnel of Love. Love is complex, multidimensional, and multifaceted. Of late I’ve been sharing thoughts around love as agape. Of course, love also is eros, philios, and storos. Modern culture seems to highlight eros, and maybe to you this song does that too. But real love encompasses all four types of love, and that even includes the love of one’s faith. These are the thoughts I had when I heard this song in the car. It reminded me that setting unrealistic expectations for love will drown you in sorrow. Because love will make you laugh, make you cry, and even make you yodel sometimes. Just sayin’. This was written when Springsteen’s marriage to Julianne Philips was unraveling. Remember that?

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x1ubwj

Kim Wilde, Keep Me Hanging On. Welcome to the “Big Eighties!” Big hair, big sound, and big, splashy, covers of older hits. Like this modern take on the song made famous by Diana Ross. I heard this right on the heels of Bruce’s tune. Seriously though, whatever happened to Kim Wilde? Her version of this classic reminded me that often times in love, temptations will arise and attempt to lead you astray. You have to cut them away like wreckage from a boating accident, or it will act like an anchor and drag you to the bottom. You have to say “get out of my life” to that which threatens your relationship’s health or threatens to lead you astray. Sing it Kim!

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Jon Bon Jovi, You Give Love a Bad Name. More big hair, this time on a dude wearing cool looking rags. Ever met somebody that gives “love” a bad name? Some folks think I was giving love a bad name recently. Heh. I tend to default back to a lesson I learned a long time ago: leadership is by example. Those who hit me with “do as I say and not as I do” behavior leave me cold (thank God for the Sacrament of Reconciliation). And they give love a bad name. Christ never said, or did, such a thing.

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Naked Eyes, Promises, Promises. This song, to me anyway, is YIMCatholic. Everything else is simply a string of broken promises. I’ve come to believe what W.J. Williams, G.K. Chesterton, and countless others have come to realize: the Catholic Church is the key that fits the complex lock of human nature. Every other approach is just empty promises that can’t be kept, and that leave you playing solitaire in your jail cell.

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The Fixx, Stand or Fall. Remember these guys? What a bunch of great tunes they made! Red Skies at Night, One Thing Leads to Another, Saved By Zero. Awesome stuff. And of course this tune, which issues something of a challenge. I’ve stated my piece. I choose to stand with the Church.

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Rare Earth, Get Ready. How can you not love this song or this band? Not a recognizable “star” name among them. And yet, BAM! They rock the house. This is their 1969 cover of Smokey Robinson’s classic. The boys took it to #4 in 1970. I heard a snippet of this one while sitting through the trailers in the theater before The Tree of Life started. I’ve got a soft spot for any band whose drummer is the lead singer. You just don’t see that very often. Here is their awesome loooooooong version, where every band member gets to do a solo. Because 3 minutes just isn’t good enough, you know? This is YIMCatholic too. I never met a girl like the Church, the Bride of Christ. She’s bringin’ the world a multidimensional Love that’s true. Now THAT is a rare earth! Are you ready?

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The Messenger, the Muse, and the Redeemer

Why can’t I just turn away from the John Corapi story and leave it behind? All I can figure is that it is like the aftermath of a ferry boat accident. There are a lot of passengers that are still in the water and I have the conn of a lifeboat.

Or it’s like I’ve happened upon the scene of a passenger train wreck, and I’m stepping into the role of the Good Samaritan. I don’t know how effective I will be, but I’m trying to help move survivors back to safety.

As for John Corapi himself, it appears more and more to me that he has done as Shakespeare’s lines in Hamlet state: hoisted himself on his own petard. Perhaps he feels, though, that he is Hamlet reciting these lines,

There’s letters seal’d: and my two schoolfellows,
Whom I will trust as I will adders fang’d,
They bear the mandate; they must sweep my way
And marshal me to knavery. Let it work;
For ’tis the sport to have the enginer
Hoist with his own petard; and ‘t shall go hard
But I will delve one yard below their mines
And blow them at the moon: O, ’tis most sweet,
When in one line two crafts directly meet.

–Hamlet Act 3, scene 4, 202–209

No matter. His orders from his superior are clear and he is in direct violation of them. Obviously the best thing to do would be for him to obey, return to base, and stand the ecclesiastical version of a court-martial. But that isn’t happening, as Deacon Greg’s latest synopsis clearly shows.

Leaving the errant messenger, then, I give you Johnny Cash. Johnny knows addiction, pain, and hurt. So Johnny, the muse, can help assuage your wounds now. These songs may help as he points you toward the Redeemer, Jesus Christ, who also felt the betrayal that you feel now.  The Lamb of God took that burden all the way to hell and back.

Sing it Johnny,

Ring of Fire.

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I See A Darkness.

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Hurt.

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Why Me Lord?

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Dom Lou Tseng-Tsiang once wrote this about the faith,

In every period of transition the two opposing currents are very violent. To escape from them, one must be prepared to be judged unfavorably by both. So one must learn to be alone. The Christian life, for its part, does not escape this rule. Our Lord Jesus Christ is so often all alone on His Cross.

Solitary Man.

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And by reader request (thanks!),

Redemption Song.

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Redemption Day.

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Haul yourself into the lifeboat and head back to the barque of St. Peter.

So There I Was Driving Home…

from work. Glad the week was over. Looking forward to a busy weekend (a birthday, weeding, cutting the grass, preparing to send a child to camp, etc.) It’s been a busy week, both at work and here on the blog. Lots of news to digest.

But maybe it doesn’t need to be digested. Oops, lookie there. My little yellow fuel tank light just went off. Looks like I need to stop in at the gas station. Ease up on the throttle and set the cruise control to double-nickels.

Slow-lane time. Hey, how about some tunes? Nah, I don’t want to listen to Matt Maher. I did that on the way into the city. What’s on the radio? Do you think the Holy Spirit works through the radio? With God, you know, anything is possible. Here’s what came on,

Foo Fighters, My Hero. This band is led by the former drummer of Nirvana, Dave Grohl. Dave can play every instrument, and did so on his first solo album after Kurt Cobain committed suicide. What event do you think this song made me think of?

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Guess what came on next? I kid you not. Dig the background color.

Duran Duran, Hungry Like the Wolf.

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And then I said a quick prayer, stopped for gasoline, and continued on home.

To John Corapi, With Love (Two for Tuesdays) UPDATED

I missed doing a music post yesterday. I had a few other things on my mind. But I came up with a few selections today, and it being Tuesday, I figured you all might enjoy a Two for Tuesday music post.

The first two songs are to celebrate the official first day of summer. Who better than the Beach Boys for that? The remaining songs are all for Mr. John Corapi, and for those who may have followed him. You see, I have to say goodbye to John Corapi, much like I did for Anne Rice.

Now some of you may think that this isn’t the Christian thing to do. Well, I’ve prayed for John, but nowadays I’m praying more for those who he has let down. As for saying goodbye to him, I’d like to turn your attention to this,

Avoid foolish arguments, genealogies, rivalries, and quarrels about the law, for they are useless and futile. After a first and second warning, break off contact with a heretic, realizing that such a person is perverted and sinful and stands self-condemned.

—St. Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit. Letter to Titus 3: 9-10

And taking it up the chain-of-command, Our Lord said,

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves. By their fruits you will know them.” – Jesus of Nazareth (Matthew 7:15-16)

Okey, dokey? So let’s play some tunes now as I say goodbye.

The Beach Boys, Catch A Wave. It’s the first day of summer. ‘Nuff said. And it turns out that since Mr. Corapi’s announcement, the web surfing has definitely been “up.”

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The Beach Boys, Deuce Coupe. Live, in Mono. Lip synching? I think not! However, the fans are a little rabid in their adulation, no? Screaming me-mees give me the he-bee ge-bees.

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Chris Isaak, Wicked Game. This might actually be the official song of Black Dog Up! Enterprises. The title is dead-on, for sure. And Chris Isaak and his band flat jam too. And what a clean video!

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Chris Isaak, Wrong to Love You. Well, let’s just say that today’s readings clarify how we should live and where our allegiance should lie. As for this song, I enjoy Isaak’s voice-over about teamwork and faith, not to mention the message.

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Billy Idol, Catch My Fall. Alrighty then. Two things. A) This musician has exactly the right name for a post like this, and B) we all fall down and need the Church and her Sacraments to catch us when we do.

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Billy Idol, Daytime Drama This is kind of how I feel about daily Mass. It’s where I meet my Hope, and your Hope, for the future day in and day out. It couldn’t happen without a priest dutifully providing the Sacraments. And not just 10% of his time, but nearly all of the time. Also, Steve Stevens is a great guitar player!

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Stevie Ray Vaughn, Dirty Pool. You all know I love SRV. He’s singing about a girl here (I think), but I believe lots of “dirty pool” has been played lately by a certain someone.

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Steve Ray Vaughn, Tightrope. It’s tough to be a “rock star” priest. In fact, it just might need to be outlawed going forward. Just my two cents. Listen to Stevie Ray for a second and you might agree.

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Sting, If I Ever Lose My Faith In You. Pretty self-explanatory, except I haven’t lost my faith in Christ or His Holy Church.

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Sting, If You Love Someone, Set Them Free. Why can I let John go? Because I must. Free will demands it. As St. John of the Cross said,

‎Live in this world as though there were nothing in it but God & your soul, so that your heart may not be detained by anything that is human.

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That’s it for this week. I hope you enjoyed the Two for Tuesday format. I’ll try to get MfM back on track next week.

Pax Christi

Love, the Blues, & Forgiveness (Music for Mondays)

In light of recent events, I am bringing this post back up to the top. Got the blues? First, may I suggest a 3-minute retreat? Then, dip into these waters…

  

We are called to love one another. A cursory look at the New Testament will show this time after time. But guess what? Love hurts too, and we all know it. Betrayal, denial, loss. These are the pathogens  of our brokenness.

The songs in today’s MfM set list move through the stages of Love that we all encounter. But we’ll be skipping the puppy love sweetness and head straight to the hard stuff.

Because love and forgiveness go together like peas and carrots, wrapped up in the to-go box called the blues.

Soft Cell, Tainted Love/Where Did Our Love Go. Whatever happened to these guys? Search me. But this hit was epic among the denizens of One Hit Wonderland. Their original song melding into the hit by the Supremes struck cords with many regarding a truth about the “double-edged” nature of love.

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The Smithereens, Blues Before and After. OK…you’ve never felt like this after being run through by Love, the double-edged sword? Come on now, be truthful with yourself. Confession time: I love this band, the groove of this song, and this is just a WAY COOL video too. It’s silent for the first few seconds and then…!!!

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Red Hot Chili Peppers, Scar Tissue. What happens when the double-edged sword of love wounds us? Scar tissue develops as part of the healing process.

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David Bowie, Changes. Do you know what happens if scar tissue is allowed to form naturally, with no further intervention? Rigidity, stiffness, inflexibility of the underlying intersitial tissues. I know a thing or two about this from experience. To regain suppleness, deep massaging of the affected area is needed. Changes…

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Wham!, Freedom. We move on to the forgiveness portion of our program now. Betcha didn’t see this one coming. Listen to the words though and I think you’ll see that it fits into this particular set nicely.

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The Corrs Forgiven, Not Forgotten. And you thought the Jackson 5 were talented? Get a load of the Corrs. They’re from Ireland, and make a point with this tune that we need to remember. Wounded? Yep. Got scars? Yep. Forgiven? Absolutely. Forgotten? Never!

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Don Henley, The Heart of the Matter I have no idea if Don Henley is a Christian or a Catholic. But he isn’t wrong when he notes that forgiveness is the heart of the matter. For as Our Lord said after he taught us how to pray, “But if you will not forgive men, neither will your Father forgive you your offences.(Matt 6:15).”

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Pearl Jam, Just Breathe. Because, when all is said and done, “did I say I need you?” Eddie Vetter and the gang at Pearl Jam remind us here…

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Have a good day folks. See you here on Monday.

Mr. John Corapi Goes. I Stay.

Hunter S. Thompson once remarked that, “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” This seems like one of those times. Remember my post on what to do while Father John Corapi was on administrative leave? Well that leave has been indefinitely extended. Back in March I wrote, [Read more...]


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