Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Christians and Asian spiritual practices

A Spirithome.com site reader asked in 2003 :

>> The only thing that bothered me is when I did a search on your
>> site and it shows a sponsor for the site being one that is for an
>> Eastern "religious" or spiritual healing technique.

Spirithome is not 'sponsored' by anyone. It takes no money. Nor
does Spirithome promote web sites, though two sites do get special
mentions because of their causes : Bread for the World and Habitat
For Humanity. However, some 'gateway' sites link to Spirithome, and
they can put up ads for whomever they want on their site as they give
you access to mine. I have no say in that.

>> Eastern "religious" or spiritual healing technique [Reiki].

I have many links on the links pages. They are there to help
people honestly look through the Web on spiritual matters. I'm
there to share the love of Christ with people on the Web, not
to 'sell' Jesus like a commodity. I do have links to
non-Christian spiritual stuff, and use it sometimes in explaining
the Christian faith. While I believe these can't take you all the
way through to God or make you good with God, they can
sometimes be informative and helpful. Asian techniques are not always
anti-Christian. Some of them are simply real discoveries about
the human body and mind
which were made within a non-Christian
culture and were thus explained in a non-Christian way, as they
knew how. A Christian would need to learn it thoroughly, and
mesh it with the Bible and the main framework of the
Christian faith, knowing there are likely to be some points of
contact, just as Thomas Aquinas did with classic Greek
philosophy, and as early Celtic Christians did with their culture.
God works in non-Christians, too, and Christians can adapt from
them whatever builds people up or teaches them better, so long as
it's understood in a gospel way.

Today's Christians are doing this with yoga and tai chi,
with much practical benefit. These practices haven't done
much good for me personally, but they've been very helpful
for the spirituality of other Christians that I know. The main
benefit appears to be that by gearing their bodies down, they
can be in better touch with their bodies and their thoughts. I
don't know enough about Reiki to know if there are comparable
benefits from it, so I won't comment on its use.

I wish the Christians who are convinced of the value of
yoga and tai chi would take much more seriously the task
of fully re-thinking them in a way that springs from the
core of Christian faith and the gospel.
But most of the
explanations I've read mostly cut-and-paste the Asian-
religions' explanations (including some theories about inner forces
and spirits which mesh poorly with what Jesus taught, and sometimes
even verge on pseudo-science), and then sprinkle Christian
theological and/or spiritual chatter and/or Bible citations over
it like sesame seeds on a bun -- it sits on top but doesn't
really change the bun. When that's so, it can't be
claimed as an expression of their faith in Christ. I'm
hoping some Christians, preferably Asian ones, would take
on this task 'for the masses'.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Amazing Race (TAR) notes

Now that Season 12 has ended, it's time to take note of a few things.

I was pleased to be at this season's TARcon in New York. That's where the big fans of the show get together to meet each other and watch the finale together. It was a strange-feeling schmoozefest at first, in that for the first hour most of those who I approached weren't at all talkative. The Race started while the Giants game was on, but fortunately the screens all shifted to the Race when it came time to start.

Anchorage, Alaska! I briefly saw a picture of a snowy, icy place earlier in the season, so I thought something like that was up. But I didn't think it would end there! Seeing TK in there with the crabs, trying to find the one with the TAR flag, I was ouching with him. Then to see all three teams at the final puzzle task together, that was tense. I was trying to figure out the puzzle myself as it unfolded on the screen, but no luck. They had to take items from each leg of the Race and put them in place according to a set of specific rules. There were, of course, more items than were needed, so it took a lot of thinking it through. They all struggled with it, apparently for about an hour, before Rachel put it all together, apparently by figuring out that the cleaning man, as a human being, counted as an 'animal'. As she had throughout the Race, her pluck and preparation paid off -- to the tune of a million bucks. (It turns out that the taxi ride to the final mat was bollixed by the cab drivers, but fortunately it didn't change the order.)

The Racers arrived at TARcon -- first Jennifer of Shana/Jennifer. Most people thought she was Shana at first, but soon figured out she was the 'other blonde' and that the guy with her was, I think, her husband. (Shana was in California, at a viewing party there.) But they stayed mostly in the background, because arriving at about the same time were Kynt/Vyxsin, the self-proclaimed Goths, and when they arrived all the attention went to them. No mistaking it -- their striking physical appearance, with the makeup and the black-and-red outfits, makes them the center of any circus, which is what PR appearances are. Kynt was, to say the least, very promotional, with the pre-made photo prints for signing and the red business cards. I wonder what he'll do when they start fading from view? Vyxsin was trying hard to be attention-grabbing too, with somewhat startling photo poses, but one got the sense that she'd rather get this phase over with. She's taller than me by a good bit, but I didn't realize how much until I stood next to her. I'm picturing her, say, twelve years from now, showing these pictures to her children, as their eyes shine with wonder.

Next, it was time for the winners, TK and Rachel. They were in New York City for the end-of-season winner's event on CBS' the Early Show, and also the next day for Regis's show. They walked in just as the Giants won the football game, causing a big combined cheer. This hullabaloo is something new to them -- he was a NCAA competitive swimmer, her a flower shop operator with her parents, neither of which prepares you for the burst of PR activity and the showering of love from adoring Race fans at TARcon. (Not to mention a half-mill each.) But they were handling it the same way they handled the Race, with calm collectedness and lots of praise for each other. (Maybe I'll post the photo of them with me, if I can get the darnded thing to upload.) They'd known each other from childhood (their mothers knew each other well), and went to the same high school (the same school as two other Season 12 Racers, Nate and Staella). But they'd only been dating for four months when they decided to get into the Race. They communicate with each other very well, even in a month or so of Race and a mob of fans. They were uncomfortable, yet eager to operate outside their comfort zone. During the Race I was especially impressed with Rachel, who was one of the best Racers they've had, as I see it. She has a level of focus and determination that tells me we'll hear from her again eventually, accomplishing something worth noticing that has nothing to do with flowers or winning money. In person, she was as I pictured her, except even thinner.

Last, of course, was the Amazing Host, Phil Keoghan. Totally at ease in a crowd, he went straight to the back and started telling stories, answering Race questions, and posing with a lot of people. He earned a reputation as an adventurer even before TAR, and appears on those cable channels that show adventurer-types. Those who think this stuff is not an adventure don't know how tired these people get, nor have they ever enjoyed sleeping in an ATM enclosure with a bunch of other teams. It's not easy for Phil, either, but "not easy" is his normal.

There's something that I find odd. TK/Rachel won by way of quiet determination and mutual supportiveness. Yet they are both quick to say good things about the team whose constant hateful words, poor communication and poor teamwork was the very antithesis of theirs, Nate/Jennifer. Especially when some of those not-nice words were directed at them and their approach to the Race. On that front, TK/Rachel let their victory speak for itself, while telling us how great and fun Nate/Jennifer were to get along with. They even mentioned some happy moments the two teams experienced together in Italy and Croatia. It seems the Race isn't all that TK/Rachel are winners at. I can only wish them the best on the road ahead.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Bob Longman radio show, 20 January 2008, WUSB

Bob Longman Sun 12:30-2:30 pm 20 January 2008
WUSB 90.1 FM Stony Brook NY, http://wusb.fm/

Moontown -- Pierce Pettis -- State of Grace
Empty My Hands -- Christopher Williams -- The Silence In Between
Don't Ever Let Your Spirit Down -- Eric Bibb -- An Evening With... -- N
Sun's Gonna Shine One Day -- Eleanor Ellis -- Comin' A Time -- N
The Great Change -- Mainline Gospel Trio -- -- L
We Shall Not Be Moved -- Mavis Staples -- We'll Never Turn Back
Drifting -- Bebo Norman -- Try
Snow -- Loreena McKennitt
Chanting Waves -- Dave Bainbridge -- Veil of Gossamer
Veil of Gossamer -- Dave Bainbridge -- Veil of Gossamer
Ambergris March -- Bjork
Breathe -- Keller Williams -- Breathe -- N
One More River -- Sam Cooke & the Soul Stirrers
Worthy (acoustic mix) -- Sara Brenner -- Unsteady Ground -- L
Time -- Lou Rawls -- the Essential... -- "N"
She's Gone (With the Wind) -- 5 Satins -- Lost Treasures
A.K.A. Papa Funk -- Jimmy McIntosh -- Orleans to London -- N
Impermanent Things -- Peter Himmelman
To Be Alone With You -- Sufjan Stevens
Lullabye -- Tim Blane -- Clockwork -- N
Love Is the Water -- Pat Wictor -- Waiting For the Water -- L
The World Keeps You Waiting -- New York Voices -- A Day Like This -- N
More -- Charlotte Doreen Small -- More -- N
Careful How You Break My Heart -- Jory Nash -- Folk Jazz Blues Soul
Disappear -- Michael Korb -- Ghosts -- N
(Reach Out and) Touch -- Steve Scott -- Magnificent Obsession
Bayou Betty -- Bonerama -- Bringing It Home -- N

McKennitt can at times be tedious, but at other times, such as on this track, superb.
The Voices put together a jazzy concoction that's crammed with top-drawer group singing.
At this point, it's about 20 years old, but Touch is still a dramatic, rhythmic, snippeted delight.
Bonerama's a trombone band from Nawlins way, with some promising brassy sounds.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Spiritual Shrinkage

A reader at Spirithome.com asked me this question :

>> I hear all this blah blah blah about
>>'spiritual growth'. But is there such a thing as
>> 'spiritual shrinkage'? <<

There are a lot of folks who say 'no', including some of the
wisest spiritual folks around. They say that spiritual
awareness can't disappear, just like a raised consciousness
supposedly can't be lowered. Something of it still lingers,
some things about the person can never be the same.

I can see some degree of truth to that, but not enough.
Growth goes up and down and stops and starts. You may not
notice your growth - though sometimes others do. Spiritual
growth is not a constant. And if it can stop, it can go
backward. Sometimes, people spiritually shrink and warp. What
can cause it? Desperation. Fear. Hurt. Greed. Lust. Anger.
Loss. Powerlust. Their spirit becomes shallower. There's nothing
that can make you shrink. Nothing has the power to
defeat the Spirit's work in you. Anything that can get you to
shrink can be turned around to make you grow. But that's easy
to say, hard to live, because of the power you have over you.

You can make choices that will shrink you. So you can shrink spiritually.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Bob Longman WUSB 90.1 FM Sun 13 January 2008

Bob Longman Sun 12:30-2:30 pm 13 January 2008

Hard Love -- Brooks Williams -- How the Night-Time Sings
William's Vision -- Kate Campbell -- Monuments
Sentenced to Life With the Blues -- Andy Falco -- Sentenced to Life -- N
Everybody Knows -- Ryan Adams -- single
Breathe -- Keller Williams -- Breathe
Little Bird -- Levon Helm -- Dirt Farmer -- N
Nighthawk -- Jory Nash -- Folk Jazz Blues & Soul
Take the A Train -- Just 4 Kicks -- All In Good Time
If I Should Fall Behind -- Dion DiMucci -- Deja Nu
I Only Have Eyes For You -- the Flamingos
The World Keeps You Waiting -- New York Voices -- A Day Like This -- N
For Sentimental Reasons -- Nat King Cole
We Shall Not Be Moved -- Mavis Staples -- We'll Never Turn Back
Lord Will Make A Way -- Mighty Sam McClain
I'm In Good Hands -- the Clark Sisters
Coming Down -- Anders Osborne -- Coming Down -- N
Still Water -- Gypsy Soul -- Beneath the Covers -- N
White Bird -- the Strangelings -- Season Of the Witch -- N
Epitaph -- Monkey Puzzle
Bajjan -- Youssou N'Dour
Homeless -- Ladysmith Black Mambazo
I Left My Sins -- Bob Marley & the Wailers -- Another Dance -- 'N'
Cafe -- Malo -- Malo
After Loving You -- Charlie Peacock -- Love Life

Helm gives us a happy surprise album; this traditional is the kind of stuff that drew him to US South/Midwest music.
Twinkie Clark made many a top-grade gospel song from ad slogans.
Chris Thompson pipes in, with Pete & Maura Kennedy -- so they're strangelings, with a cover of the LaFlamme classic.
Malo was more than just their one hit -- for instance, this track had guitar lines and rhythms that at times recall the ones Jorge Santana's brother Carlos would "Smooth" out over a quarter century later.

Not your typical babys' babble

One of my readers at Spirithome.com asked me this question about 6 years ago :

>> My parents recently told me that when I was little (3-4 yrs old),
>> sometimes at night I would speak in tongues. They're
>> not religious or anything. I don't remember
>> this at all, but then I don't remember much from back then.

I'm assuming they're talking about a time after you started
talking a lot in regular English. It's common for little
children to speak that way. Psychologists say there's no
special meaning to it, though it does seem to have patterns
like talking does. I like to think of it as still remembering
what it was like to be with God and trying to relate with Him
as they did before they were born. I didn't lose that sense
until I was about 7, so I was more aware about it than most are.

>> I'd like to know if I should try to get that ability
>> back or uncover it again. Considering I am a Christian but
>> I don't spend a lot of time or effort in the religion, I want to
>> know if it's worth it or if I have an obligation to use it because
>> God gave it to me for a purpose.

God does not oblige you to do such things. God gave you all that you have, and gave it for a purpose, but you'll use it (or choose not to) when God puts forward the opportunity. Please don't feel guilty about not using tongues or for that matter, about how much time or effort you put into the faith. 15-year-olds like you rarely do, they're too busy living and growing up. I do hope you set up a pattern of praying each day, that's one thing that will be helpful between you and God and for your own peace of mind. Just set aside some time whenever it's best to do so, pray your main concerns, then just be still for a while, and think about something about Jesus. Most folks who do this find themselves being more steady and confident in what can be a confusing time of life. And you'll have a better sense of God's timing.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Language pages have moved

My linguistics pages have moved to :




Hopefully, it will mean more reliable access to the pages than in the past.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

End-of-Year 2007, Bob Longman, of WUSB 90.1 FM

2007 top list, Bob Longman, WUSB

Track -- Artist -- CD

When the City Comes -- Chuck E. Costa -- Off the Clock comp.
SomebrightmorningBlues -- Peter Case -- Let Us Now Praise Sleepy John
The Unfortunate Tale Of A County Chicken -- Idea of North
My Own Eyes -- Mavis Staples -- We'll Never Turn Back
Watch Man -- Hope Nunnery -- Wilderness Lounge
Gone Gone Gone (Done Me Wrong) -- Robert Plant & Alison Krauss
Nobody's Fault But Mine -- Toby Walker -- Just Walked In
Prayer Song -- Danny Flowers -- Tools For the Soul
All That I Am -- Tom Griffith -- 40 Years Later
Sinner's Prayer -- Rod Picott -- Summerbirds
Late In the Evening -- Spanish Harlem Orch/Paul Simon -- United We Swing
Shanghai Moon -- Cosmos & Dawn Ho -- Aiming For the Stars
Walk On By -- Ian Moore -- To Be Loved
Shadow of Doubt -- Tinsley Ellis -- Moment of Truth
King Of the Dust -- Jory Nash -- Folk Jazz Blues and Soul
Song For June -- Slaid Cleaves -- Unsung
Made to Love -- TobyMac -- Portable Sounds
On the Way -- Abra Moore -- On the Way
Good Stuff -- Eric Bibb -- An Evening With..
You Don't Have Very Far To Go -- Lucinda Williams -- Tulare Dust (Haggard tribute)
Wild Angels -- Martin Sexton -- Seeds
When She's Dancing -- Viktor Krauss
Wolves -- Iron & Wine -- Shepherd's Dog
Can't Find My Way Home -- the Well
I Got the Dirt On You -- Toby Walker -- Just Rolled In
Water To Drink -- BR6 -- Here To Stay
A Gozar -- Arturo Sandoval -- Rumba Palace
Still Growing -- Bob Fox -- the Blast
The Trumpet Child -- Over the Rhine -- The Trumpet Child
Everywhere -- David Wilcox -- Vista

Thursday, January 03, 2008