Tuesday, February 28, 2006

my blog is like beth

i never know where beth will take me. perhaps that's because i'm a guy and for whatever reason i am blessed with the uncanny ability to drift off at just the wrong moments. yes, mother, ideally i would never drift off. but come on, if that were the case, i'd probably have a harem by now (perhaps compliments of this wonderful batch of personals). so, as the occasionally deaf, one-woman man that i am, there should be little surprise that this evening i found myself somewhere that i didn't quite expect: in the midst of a gospel-style worship service. i later discovered that this exhuberant hand clapping, joyous shouting, and singing--a relatively unfamiliar way of talking to God--was merely a prelude to the night's expected entertainment (or more appropriately, enlightenment), a message by Dr. John Perkins, 'the renowned civil rights leader and founding partner with SPU of the John Perkins Center for Reconciliation, Leadership Training, and Community Development (whew--that's a lonnnng title...it comes from spu.edu, but i'm not posting a link because the quote may not be available after today).' dr. perkins shared some interesting points regarding racism, christianity, and the disaster-battered state of the deep south, but it was the gospel choir that first got my attention.

still, despite the novelty of this form of worship, i was struck by an odd parallel. based upon tonight, it appears that gospel music tends to repeat a line or a chorus over and over again. during the course of this repetition, the choir director may tinker with the congregation's intensity or tone, but the words remain the same. shifting gears to a more personal one-on-one (that is man and God) setting, this emphasis on repetition is surprisingly similar to an old orthodox practice (and roman catholic too, i think...isn't there a latin term of some kind? kyrie gaglingok?). in
the way of a pilgrim (or more particularly, the philokalia), an unknown, 19th century wanderer recounts his discovery of the orthodox 'Jesus prayer,' a simple sentence that christians were taught to pray unceasingly. "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me," they would pray all day, everyday. now, i know that i have a penchant for finding quirky little connections where there are none (take poetry and football, for example), but even now i feel some sense of gladness at this link between the ancient and the more modern pictures of my faith.

earlier today i was asked, 'if you could attend a live concert by any musical artist, living or dead, who would it be and where?' after nearly mumbling my way out of the question, i thought of the many sundays that i've sat on the floor at st. mark's and participated in a compline service. every time that i stare up into the cavernous space of that church and hear those voices rise mystically above me, i feel a reassuring connection with the past. i'm reminded that as i stumble along this journey of faith i'm not alone. the path is well-worn by other men and women down through the centuries. and that's probably why i dismissed elton john, ben folds, switchfoot, radiohead, burlap to cashmere, and other more likely candidates in favor of some 7th century cathedral with an anonymous cluster of monk-dudes singing gregorian chant.

andrew david. 'one too many, version 2' puerto vallarta, day 1.
these were our first 2 for 1 margaritas in mexico.


beth said...

I love that picture! So completely in-the-moment. Great shot! I also love the essay (promise--it has nothing to do with the name in the title).

Seanathan said...

I would like to say that I also like that picture. In fact, Mr. David, I would go so far as to say that it would be in my top 5 of your PV pics.

Beth said...

wait, I don't get how not drifting off would result in you having a harem.

andrew said...

girls don't like it when guys drift off; they get upset or insecure. therefore, each venture into la-la land sends little ripples through the relationship. unfortunately, these ripples are almost inevitable. however, if a dude was particularly gifted and was ALWAYS attentive, girls would love him. he would avoid so many relationship problems that he could easily begin a concurrent second relationship and then a third and fourth and fifth...obviously it's not a fool-proof assertion, but it was nonetheless my point.

Matt Basinger said...

Hi Andrew,

Wow-I love your connection between Gospel Music and Gregorian Chants. It's a beautiful way to trace patterns of worship in the church through out the centuries.

We miss you and are SO excited for you and Beth to visit!!!


andrew said...

thanks. although perhaps the credit belongs to john perkins, the spu gospel choir, and, just maybe, God.

yeah! i'm really looking forward to seeing you guys and hanging out in nyc.