Thanks to Dr. Jerry Galipeau’s excellent blog, Gotta Sing, Gotta Pray, I actually have a “keep it simple” topic for today;) Due to all the uproar about the New Translation, and also due to my continuing efforts to be a passable music director for my parishes, I try to follow Dr. Jerry’s blog. He has been involved with publishing liturgical music for years, and his posts are usually informative and entertaining. For several months now, he has been posting on issues with the New Translation of the Roman Missal, on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I take a look every once in awhile. The New Translation was mandated for use beginning in Advent of last year. Six months later, people are still arguing its pros and cons. Personally, though I like the New Translation, it would really make no difference to me if we went back to the old.
Okay, so I’m an oddball. Part of me is traditional. I wear the chapel veil. I think the music for Mass should be dignified hymns or soft, inspirational melodies and chant, not “praise and worship, rock my world” stuff. I prefer the tabernacle to be behind the altar, and the church to be dark and quiet, respectful, prayerful. So I don’t always get my way. I like to hear Mass in my primary language, but I want to share the joy with my friends who don’t speak or understand English so well, so I embrace the bi-lingual Mass, and can even muddle through a bit of Spanish. Luckily I can play the flute and the organ in both Spanish and English. (yeah, some dumb humor;) As a returned-fallen-away Catholic, I’m there for Mass. Mass is the sacrifice of Jesus Body and Blood for my salvation. Holy Communion is the common union with my fellow Mass-goers, and by extension the whole church, and hopefully one day the whole world, as the Body of Christ.
I go to Mass to hear the Word of God proclaimed and taught. I want to learn how to be a better person. I go to Mass to receive Holy Communion, Jesus entering into union with me to strengthen and transform me. To remind me of my connection with that guy over there whose manners I find repulsive (hmm…is pride any better?). And the lady whose dress is too short and too low cut (didn’t I used to dress like that myself?) And the family who only shows up on Palm Sunday (there were a few years when I didn’t show up at all). I don’t go to bicker over this word here or that word there. I’ll let the pope and the cardinals and the bishops and their committees worry about all that stuff. Life is too complicated. For this simple-minded Catholic, I’ll take Dr. Jerry’s advice – gotta sing, gotta pray. Nuff said.
Tiberius, Jerusalem, Damascus, in the year 40AD. Saul of Tarsus is hunting down followers of The Way and brutally bringing them to justice. Julia is the pampered daughter of Jamal, a wealthy merchant, and Jacob is one of his best caravan guards. Both are couriers of secret messages between the dispersed groups of Christians. When Saul and his retinue of temple guards join Jamal’s caravan to Damascus, Jacob and Julia risk discovery as well as their very lives to warn believers there of the impending danger.
Christian historical fiction just keeps getting better and better. I really enjoyed The Damascus Way for its portrayal of daily life and business in the first century after Christ. I also liked the light romance and heavy suspense. Not only are messages being smuggled, but also frankinscense, a rare and costly spice. Bandits and Zealots threaten lives and livelihoods. Then there are the Roman guards who are also secret Christians…and the temptation on the road to Damascus to simply do away with Saul and his threat to their new faith.
With a guest appearance by the apostle Philip, and his encounter with the eunuch on the road to Gaza (Acts 8:26-39), Bunn and Oke continue to bring the Bible alive, especially the Acts of the Apostles. A refreshing story, full of adventure and imagination without being morally offensive or degrading to other faiths.
A book club is an interesting place. I joined because I love to read and am writing a book. I thought it would help to discuss books with fellow readers and learn their likes and dislikes. It is certainly an ear opener! For instance, the general consensus seems to mandate the “obligatory sex scene” in a book, whereas I feel my imagination needs no assistance in that particular area. However, obviously it sells mainstream books, because it tends to be in most of them. Thus, it should come as no surprise that I frequently find I have greatly enjoyed a book that the others disapproved of and vice versa.
Case in point: a couple of months ago, our book was “Mutant Message Down Under” by Marlo Morgan. It is
a story about an American doctor who goes on walkabout in the Australian Outback with a group of Aborigines. The sufferings she endures help the tribe to teach her their spiritual principals of interrelatedness, divine creation, unconditional love, and being non-judgmental. I felt that it presented a powerful reminder of spritual principals we should all be living. Most of the others discounted the whole thing because “obviously she didn’t learn anything from the experience because she still wears makeup and colors her hair”. Huh? Not everyone is called to be a St. Francis of Assisi or Mother Theresa. We are all called to proclaim the Good News in our particular circumstances in life.
Then there are the ever-popular vampire books currently circulating as the “Twilight” series. Many of my book club confreres rave about them, but vampires simply do not appeal to me. Now give me a good historical suspense novel. I have the new Amelia Peabody mystery on hold: “A River in the Sky”. After seeing the new “Sherlock Holmes” movie, I reread the books in a whole new light, with new enjoyment. And my friend from the Baptist church turned me on to Terri Blackstock’s novels – who knew such wonderful work was being produced by Christian publishing houses? I am thrilled.