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Kurt’s confronts the world with a writing style has been described as “agressively pedantic,” “pretentious,” and “irrefutable.”

Steve Grives: Making Connections

Steve Grives: Making Connections

David von Kampen and I were guests on Steve Grives' pod to talk about Christmas songs.

Is all music supposed to be in the academy?

A friend passed along the recent New York Times article from Sept. 6, 2020 by Giovanni Russonello entitled, "Is Jazz Capable of Meeting This Moment?" In the article, they talk to historian Robin D.G. Kelley about teaching jazz in the University. He says, "They were...

Response to article

My friend Garrett sent me an article 17 months ago. I wrote a response and forgot about it. He just sent it to me in case I wanted to post it. I'm posting it. My friend Garrett recently sent me an article to get my thoughts. The article is arguing for a new level of...

Ancient world and lists

I will often listen to something while I'm eating breakfast. Lately, it's been the Lotus Sutra. On the same day that there was a list of names in the daily reading for morning prayer, I heard this passage from the sutra from the parable of the burning house: "40. The...

Steven Pinker is frustrating me as usual 3/14/20

Sitting at home instead of on a plane to Ireland today. All the gigs have been cancelled. All the international trips have been cancelled. So I hit a downward spiral and listened to Robert Wrights interview with Steven Pinker. There is hardly a thinker alive that...

Rabbi Sacks gets it wrong

Normally, Jonathan Sacks is one of my favorite thinkers, and he's also normally pretty careful. He gets a couple things wrong in his recent essay. I've reprinted part of it below. "Some measure of the radicalism that is introduced into the world by the story of the...

3/9/20 pan-psychism

Listened to Robert Wright interview Galen Strawson about pan-psychism. I think David Bentley Hart is correct on this. The pan-psychists are trying to solve the problem by mashing it down to the sub-atomic level, but it's really just a shell game. The horizon is there...

#Carolragnarok 2019 compilation

#Carolragnarok 2019 compilation

Here is the first collection of videos from this year. It's my side of the contributions. John Conahan and I will work on some more to make them more easily available. I started with a Liszt O Tannebaum. I borrowed a little from Liebestraum....

Rastafarian…sort of

Once upon a time, I was practicing the organ at St. Mark’s on the Campus in Lincoln, Nebraska. Unbeknownst to me, a stranger wandered off the street, and he managed to make his way, silently, up to the organ loft. I was in the middle of a passage that was giving me some problems. I lifted my hands and feet to give the section another try. In that brief moment, the stranger very softly said, “Hello.” I nearly leapt from the organ bench.

I turned to see him standing by some filing cabinets, and after taking a breath to calm down, I said, “Hello.”

“Oh,” he said. “I’m surprised you could hear me. I said that very softly.”

“Well,” I replied, “I am a musician. Listening to stuff is kind of what I do.”

I normally enjoy a good conversation with the odd sorts of people that wander into churches. I decided engagement was the best tactic, and began talking to him and walking him downstairs. He began griping about a judge’s order that gave his parents guardianship over him even though he was almost thirty. It did seem a little unfair that he couldn’t make decisions for himself, and I was sympathetic for a moment…and then it happened.

In a passing sentence, he managed to drop in an “I in I” and there was a “Selassie” not far behind. Whenever middle-class white people from the mid-West start dropping Rasta crumbs for me to follow, I am immediately on the hunt to find out where the trail begins. After a few more questions on my part, I got to the core of the thing. It was quite a beautiful little speech in its own way. As it began, a little bit of an affected Jamaican accent was peppered across a few words. By the end, he was speaking with a full on fake accent and interposing lots of “hey mon” between words.

“This is what I’m trying to explain to you about my parents, mon. They don’t understand the I in I. Just because someone likes all of Bob Marley’s music, and begins dressing in a Jamaican style, and speaking in a Jamaican accent, mon, and just because they start calling themselves Bob Marley, mon, and they only reply to people using lyrics from Bob Marley songs…just because they do all that stuff doesn’t mean, mon, that they actually believe that they are Bob Marley.”

“Yes,” I said, “but, you can see how someone might be confused about the difference.”

He could not see that and went away quite disappointed that I didn’t really see how the difference might have mattered.