Shine A Light: Dobie Gray

I saw Dobie Gray one day here in Nashville. I introduced myself and when I began to tell him about my favorite song of his, he got that look on his face like he’d heard it a million times and I was going to say how much I loved “Drift Away” ! While that is a fine song, it begins to fall in with songs that maybe I could never hear again and be just fine. And while it isn’t quite to the point of lets say “Sweet Home Alabama” or “Stairway to Heaven”, it is getting close ! But the song I had in mind and the song that it pleased me to see the smile on his face is the beautiful and haunting “Loving Arms”. I remember Dobie’s version many years ago and even more so, I remember a mood heavy version Elvis gave at the point of his life when not everything was turning out for the better. What a great song, and like the Dixie Chicks or not, they did a great version.

Dobie Gray has had a wonderful career and his voice like an Al Green or Billy Paul, is instantly recognizable. Born outside of Houston in Simonton Texas, Gray moved to Nashville in the 70’s and has continued as a writer. He has had cuts by some heavyweights like Johnny Mathis, George Jones, Charley Pride, Don Williams and Ray Charles.

Check out “Loving Arms”. They just don’t sing or write ’em that way much anymore !

Shine A Light: Will Campbell

I can’t honestly remember when I first heard of Will Campbell. I’m thinking it was in the mid 80’s somewhere and possible there was an article in Rolling Stone magazine about Waylon Jennings and it mentioned Campbell. I wasn’t old enough or should I say wasn’t in tune enough to fall in behind a man like Will Campbell. I was too self-absorbed. I did realize in my deepest senses though that this man felt as close to a prophet to anyone I had ever heard. I’m sure he would laugh at that description, but I knew he held to a truth so deep that it was eternal.

Years passed and I slowed down long enough to read Brother to a Dragonfly. If that book isn’t mentioned up there with any of the American classics, then the classics can all be washed away in my opinion.This Amite County, Mississippi farmers son, followed the highest truth to soar above the general beliefs of his heritage, cutting a path for a generation of white Southerners to follow. He is a shining beacon and a worldly reminder that the mind of the South isn’t as predictable as one might think. Hallelujah !

I had coffee this morning with a dear friend of our family, and discovered she and Campbell are friends. In his declining years and battling the forces that come for us all, she had recently visited with Campbell and was reflecting to me that indeed “prophet” may not be too far off of a description.

If you are interested in challenging your faith in a way that may call you on your “settled in” beliefs, you should investigate the life and writings of Will Campbell. Along with Buechner, Merton, Spong and any other writer or human being reaching for an authentic faith, Campbell must not be missed.He is that vital to the truth.

Here is a You Tube clip of Campbell discussing the church and racism.

In writing this post I was listening to Walt Wlikins, and the old Harold Melvin and the Blue notes song “Wake Up Everybody”, kept running through my mind.

To Follow

If I said to you, “follow me”, wouldn’t you think we were going somewhere, maybe the two of us journeying together? And if someone said ‘follow me”, wouldn’t we assume one person is a kind of guide, and maybe that person already knows the way and wants you and me to join them? At least this is how I hear that term “follow”.

So, when I overlay that thought onto the geography of my journey and my faith, it totally reshapes the perceptions I had as a younger person. I’d heard the term “following Jesus” all of my life. The elders would say “son, if you’ll just follow Jesus, everything will be alright”. I’m thinking they were right, but I’m also thinking their “follow” wasn’t the same as my “follow”. Speaking for me alone, I just don’t think of the Creator as being stagnate, no matter the form.

Does this thought ring true for any of you? I may just be talking crazy and maybe I’m just the last one to get this thought or perspective on the word “follow”. It is a verb, it is movement, and it resonates in my heart to see the Creator as a guide rather than a ruler. I would think God is as fascinated by our journey’s as we are, and is traveling along beside deep in the experience, but in whatever form that great spirit is.

What do you think? I have been in many conversations of late on the static or movement nature of our journey. Many people I talk to are just fine with the view of God they had a 10 or 15 years old, and many who see that in terms of their own experiences as being impossible. They are relishing in the mystery and not having answers to all of the questions, and actually finding comfort in that. Everyone has their own path to walk and it’s important to honor everyone’s walk.

I would love to hear reflections on this, even if you don’t think it’s worth talking about !!!! I hope I have chosen my words with honesty and the spirit of being open to learning and gaining a wider perspective.

Words or Actions

In the light of the most recent Washington Sex scandal with  New York Democrat Anthony Weiner, it makes me wonder what the American collective thought is. We say it isn’t right, never mind stepping outside the bounds of marriage, but our actions don’t seem to indicate what we say.

My friend Rich Harwood of the Harwood institute, www.theharwoodinstitute.org,  spends his life trying to urge people to connect their private lives with a public one. To encourage more people to use their voice in matters like these, not only around the kitchen table or on-line, but at the polls.

Take both David Vitter, Louisiana Republican and Elliott Spitzer, New York Mayor, both guilty of being involved with prostitution rings ! Spitzer gets a TV show and Vitter was re-elected by a wide margin ! Pretty good deal for both of those guys.

Washington sex scandals are nothing new, and if you could ask Thomas Jefferson, Grover Cleveland, or John F. Kennedy, you’d find that comment true. Remember Gary Hart and Donna Rice? The “loveable” Bill Clinton, speaking directly into the camera saying he didn’t have sexual activities with Monica Lewinski, then looking directly into the same camera admitting his guilt ! Amazing ! Oh the list goes on and on, how about Massachusetts Democrat, Barney Frank having a relationship with a male prostitute and then hiring him as an assistant ! You simply can’t make this stuff up.

So, are we really disgusted by this behavior of our elected officials, or do we secretly think it isn’t connected to the work they do? That maybe it doesn’t cloud the judgements they make concerning their position. Deep inside do we think it’s just sex, and since we all have our own little twists on tradition there,  we don’t want to judge too harshly. Or do the ones screaming the loudest have more skeletons in their closets? Is it the inside and/or outside the bounds of marriage that we have problems with? Or the fact that we’d like to hold these positions to a higher level of integrity?

Maybe it’s all of the above or little bits and pieces for us all. One thing seems apparent if you turn to history as a course guide, as long as we are human; as long as men have “power”, and women can be drawn to “power”, this behavior will continue. So do we just shout about it with church friends, with strangers at the corner pub, at our dinner tables, or do we use our votes if it really bothers us? Like the old saying goes, actions speak louder than words ! These are all questions of interest to me, of not only how things are manifested, but where the root comes from. What are we trying to fill; are we culturally too crazy tight publicly on sex? What do you think?