Monthly Archives: May 2011

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Be Thou My Vision

“Be Thou My Vision” is an ancient Irish poem from perhaps the 6th century. It was only translated into English in the early 20th century. In 1912 it was versified by a woman named Eleanor Hull into the lyric that is well known today, and later combined with the old Irish folk melody “Slane.” It’s become a standard Christian hymn in churches all over the world. And it was only in 1991 that Van Morrison finally did it right, accompanied by The Chieftains.

Be Thou my vision, oh Lord of my heart
Nought be all else to me, save that Thou art
Thou my best thought in the day and the night
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light

From the album Hymns to the Silence

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Bizarre alleged “interview” with Bob Dylan in The Hindu (Indian newspaper)

Well, this doesn’t happen every day. One gets used to seeing Bob Dylan quoted badly out of context, or seeing “hearsay” quotes where some nameless person allegedly heard Dylan say something. But I don’t think I’ve ever seen a completely fabricated interview before. Yet, that’s what we appear to be dealing with today in The Hindu, an English-language newspaper in India. Link here, extracts below:

“Protests need not always come out on the streets or shooting with the gun,” says Bob Dylan, the folk icon, as he answers a long distance call from California. “I appreciate and admire the folklore of this glorious sub continent that has one of the richest cultural heritages.” Last month saw his first performance in China, where he was earlier forbidden or never invited. Continue reading Bizarre alleged “interview” with Bob Dylan in The Hindu (Indian newspaper)

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Abraham Joshua Heschel on the Bible

I was reading an essay by Abraham Joshua Heschel in his book The Insecurity of Freedomand was struck by this paragraph:

Into his studies of the Bible the modern scholar brings his total personality, his increased knowledge of the ancient Near East, his power of analysis, his historic sense, his honest commitment to truth—as well as inherent skepticism of biblical claims and tradition. In consequence, we have so much to say about the Bible that we are not prepared to hear what the Bible has to say about us. We are not in love with the Bible; we are in love with our own power of critical acumen, with our theories about the Bible. Intellectual narcissism is a disease to which some of us are not always immune. The sense of the mystery and transcendence of what is at stake in the Bible is lost in the process of analysis. As a result, we have brought about the desanctification of the Bible.

Similar things have no doubt been said in many different ways, but I think that is extraordinarily well put. Those words were written in 1963. They struck me when I read them more on a personal level than as a societal or institutional criticism, although the “desanctification” of the Bible surely has had plenty to do with the rotting away of the mainline Protestant churches in America. Continue reading Abraham Joshua Heschel on the Bible

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Bob Dylan heroin tapes: More media bullsh*t

Happy birthday, Bob Dylan, from your friends in the world of “respectable journalism.”

A “never before heard interview” Bob Dylan did with biographer Robert Shelton is being touted as “a revelation,” and “extraordinary.” (Hear via the BBC at this link — and thanks very much to reader Jay for that.)

On the tapes, recorded in 1966, Dylan claims to have had a $25 dollar a day heroin habit at one time, and also claims to have kicked it. He also talks about how he would consider killing himself by shooting himself in the head or jumping out a window.

We are told that there is already a plan to make a film based on these tapes. Unbelievable!

There’s one small problem with this story: Continue reading Bob Dylan heroin tapes: More media bullsh*t

The Cinch Review

At an Hour You Do Not Expect

The story is sad more than anything else, even though the headline is “World NOT Wracked by Cataclysmic Earthquakes.” As doomsday cultists go, the believers in the May 21st Rapture and Judgment Day prediction always seemed to come across as nice people. I’ll leave out Harold Camping — the instigator of it all — because I don’t know enough to say how nice he may be, and he certainly has caused a lot of damage to some people’s material well-being with his preaching, and has likely damaged their faith as well. Continue reading At an Hour You Do Not Expect

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Obama: Pulling the Carpet from Under Israel

The last time President Obama attempted to fundamentally shift U.S. policy against Israel—when he tried to order the Israeli government to prevent Jews from building homes in Jerusalem—the backlash, domestically, and from Congress, was so severe that he had to back down. On this occasion, the situation is still developing—Netanyahu meets Obama today, and will himself address a joint session of the U.S. Congress on Tuesday—but I think in this case the damage to Israel is all but impossible to undo. (File it under “elections have consequences.”) Continue reading Obama: Pulling the Carpet from Under Israel

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Down in the Flood: Louisiana 2011

The news is not good:

In an agonizing trade-off, Army engineers said they will open a key spillway along the bulging Mississippi River as early as Saturday and inundate thousands of homes and farms in Louisiana’s Cajun country to avert a potentially bigger disaster in Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

About 25,000 people and 11,000 structures could be in harm’s way when the gates on the Morganza spillway are unlocked for the first time in 38 years.

Opening the spillway will release a torrent that could submerge about 3,000 square miles under as much as 25 feet of water but take the pressure off the downstream levees protecting New Orleans, Baton Rouge and the numerous oil refineries and chemical plants along the lower reaches of the Mississippi.


The corps said it will open the gates when the river’s flow rate reaches a certain point, expected Saturday. But some people living in the threatened stretch of countryside — an area known for small farms, fish camps and a drawling French dialect — have already started fleeing for higher ground.

The song, in so many ways, remains the same.