March 31, 2010
Leonard Cohen, pro-life troubadorProfessor Carson Holloway of the University of Nebraska has pointed out the powerful and in some cases very explicit prof-life sentiments in some of Leonard Cohen's songs, including "The Future," "Diamonds in the Mine," and (depending on the interpretation) "Dance Me to the End of Love" and "The Story of Isaac." Some supporters of abortion have noticed these sentiments, and registered their complaints. It is characteristic of Cohen to break stereotypes and express views that may be sharply at odds with the views of most of his fans. He is certainly a complicated and difficult-to-categorize guy.
. . . sincerely, L. Cohen
Thanks to Brother Michael P. for inviting me to post a video of my renditions of songs by Leonard Cohen in seminar today. Unfortunately---or maybe not so unfortunately---we didn't record. It was great fun, though, and "Nancy," whose story and imagery are pretty clear, became a valuable reference point in our discussion (which concerned the ways in which cultures shape and are shaped by the choices and actions of individuals). I don't think that the students could make much sense of "Famous Blue Raincoat," but I've never been able to make sense of it either. I love it nevertheless! (If any MoJers know what it actually means, please let me know. Cohen himself says that he can't remember what it means.)
I've sent Michael privately something rather different: an audio my performance of the banjo tune "Deputy Dalton" with my bluegrass band "Blue Heart." It's rather un-Cohenesque, but I like to think it is the sort of thing Leonard himself might enjoy. He once did a performance of the classic country tune "The Tennessee Waltz," so perhaps he harbors a liking for "Appalachian classical music."
Vienna Cardinal: Church Must Accept Guilt on Abuse
Reuters, March 31, 2010
VIENNA (Reuters) - The Catholic Church as a whole must accept its guilt and its collective responsibility for sexual abuse committed by its members, Vienna Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn said on Wednesday.
Schoenborn was addressing 3,000 believers in an emotional and unconventional mass ahead of Easter entitled "We are furious, God!" and devoted solely to the theme of abuse. The church has been shaken by revelations of sexual abuse by priests several European countries and of cover-ups by the hierarchy.
"Some of us have talked about the gracious God and yet done evil to those who were entrusted to them," Schoenborn said in Vienna's gothic St. Stephen's Cathedral in a ceremony held with the critical lay group "We Are Church" and abuse victims.
"Some of us have used sexual violence... Some of us have robbed boys and girls of their childhood," he said in a part of the service he read together with an Austrian theologian.
Schoenborn, who was brought into the prominent Vienna position after his predecessor quit amid sexual abuse charges in 1995, also admitted cover-ups. "For some of us, the church's immaculate appearance was more important than anything else."
"We, the people of God, His church, carry this guilt together," he said. "We confess our guilt to the many whom we have wronged as church, and whom some of us have wronged very directly."
A wave of reports of child sexual abuse in Austrian Catholic institutions was triggered by the resignation of the arch-abbot of Salzburg's St Peter's monastery earlier this month after admitting to sexually abusing a boy 40 years ago.
During the Wednesday evening service, accounts of abuse victims or their relatives were read that told of their suffering, even years or decades later, of anger against the perpetrators and the Church who did not hold them accountable.
Similar revelations in church and secular institutions in Germany have also encouraged more Austrian victims to report cases, many of which happened decades ago. More than 500 have called regional church hotlines for victims this year so far.
"It's a painful experience for the church. But what is this pain compared to the pain of the victims that we have ignored," he said. "When those victims now speak, then God is speaking to us, to His church, to awaken and to cleanse us."
Recent abuse scandals in European countries including Germany, Ireland and the Netherlands have shaken the Vatican and led to calls for an end to priestly celibacy, a cleanout of the Catholic Church hierarchy and the resignation of the Pope, although this is seen as unlikely.
Schoenborn, a close advisor and former student of Pope Benedict, has already called for the Church to openly discuss taboo issues such as celibacy, priestly training and more liberal social attitudes to sex.
Schoenborn has been one of the most open prelates toward victims' abuse groups and has dismissed tendencies in the Church to sidestep criticism by blaming anti-catholic media bias and pointing to abuse in secular context.
"Abuse within the Church is particularly severe because it disgraces the holy name of God," he said.
Another Leonard Cohen Fan
Just wanted to add one of my favorite Leonard Cohen songs to the list: Everybody Knows. I played this for retreatants one day during an 8-day retreat I gave titled Embracing Mary. I played this during a segment on Mary, Prophet of Justice, calling the song the Anti-Magnificat. Here is a youtube link to it
Leonard Cohen, Jerry Cohen, Nick Drake, & cet.
It's delightful to find something during Pesach and Holy Week that a number of us here can agree upon with enthusiasm -- the wonderful Leonard C. For what it might be worth, this here's my favorite of the bard's songs: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mYP-fL8ndmI&feature=related . But of course I love 'em all, particularly the early ones that Robby cites just below.
Those who appreciate Leonard might also find much -- if not even more -- in Nick. Here's a sample: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=idcaRTg4-fM . As with Leonard, so here there are many, many wonderful pieces from which to choose. What a wonderful spirit.
Two other items perhaps worth noting here: First, the other Beck - the non-idiot one - has done some nice covers of these fellows' songs, as well as of many other great artists' songs.
And second, a nice anecdote: I once asked my pal Jerry Cohen, who left so many of us bereft by his untimely passing this past August, what he thought of his namesake and fellow Quebecois Leonard C, whereupon he said one of the very few things that he ever has said with which I had to disagree. He said he prefers his schmaltz unadulterated, and found LC intolerable for purveying a sort of ersatz-schmaltz. I agree that some of the songs come dangerously close to that characterization, but it seems to me they are very few. Moreover, remove the word 'lady' from all of them -- including that linked to above -- and I think you're altogether free and clear.
Pesach Shalom & Blessed Holy Week to All, and another Kaddish for Jerry while I am at it here,
One more thing about Leonard Cohen, and a request for Robby
Robby just mentioned LC's first album, which was released in 1968 (as I recall), and is a masterpiece. Three songs from that album became the soundtrack to Robert Altman's "McCabe & Mrs. Miller" (1974?)--which is one of the greatest American films of the 20th Century. The songs add immeasurably to the film's impact.
Robby, be sure to post a video of your rendition of the LC songs you're performing in class today!
More and more parents are opting for school-homing
This just in:
According to a report released Monday by the U.S. Department of Education, an increasing number of American parents are choosing to have their children raised at school rather than at home.
Deputy Education Secretary Anthony W. Miller said that many parents who school-home find U.S. households to be frightening, overwhelming environments for their children, and feel that they are just not conducive to producing well-rounded members of society.
Thousands of mothers and fathers polled in the study also believe that those running American homes cannot be trusted to keep their kids safe.
"Every year more parents are finding that their homes are not equipped to instill the right values in their children," Miller said. "When it comes to important life skills such as proper nutrition, safe sex, and even basic socialization, a growing number of mothers and fathers think it's better to rely on educators to guide and nurture their kids."
"And really, who can blame them?" Miller continued. "American homes have let down our nation's youth time and again in almost every imaginable respect." . . .
Get the full story here, at The Onion. Of course, like many of the funniest things in The Onion, this piece entertains because it has some truth (or "truthiness") to it. (Too) many parents are comfortable letting government-run schools raise their children, and (too) many people with power and influence believe that it is important for such schools to play a competitive (that is, versus the parents) role in raising children.
MOJ gets results! Duke apologizes to pro-life group
No doubt as a result of this Duke fan's complaining, "the Duke University Women's Center has issued a letter of apology after it denied the campus pro-life student group space for an event on motherhood. The center abruptly canceled a Duke Students for Life event on the day of the meeting because it was engaging in pro-life activities elsewhere on campus." (More here.)
Here we go, Devils, here we go! (Clap, clap).
Leonard CohenThanks, Michael. I'm delighted to know that you and your wife are huge fans of Leonard Cohen. I am too. As it happens, Cornel West last week mentioned Cohen during the seminar he and I are teaching together. It seems that the students were familiar with only one of Cohen's songs: "Hallelujah." So I'm bringing my guitar to the seminar today to introduce them to three more of Cohen's pieces: (1) "You Know Who I Am"; (2) "Nancy"; and (3) "Famous Blue Raincoat." Some other favorites of mine are "Joan of Arc," "The Night Comes On," and all the songs on that very first album of Cohen's (the one that includes "Master Song," "The Sisters of Mercy," "The Dealer," and "Suzanne").
Of Leonard Cohen, Marriage, and Well-Being
My wife Sarah and I are HUGE Leonard Cohen fans, but we had not see the video Robby posted. Thanks, Robby. Many MOJ readers will be interested in David Brooks' column yesterday, which has some things to say about marriage, human relationships generally, and well-being. The column is here. An excerpt:
"Marital happiness is far more important than anything else in determining personal well-being. If you have a successful marriage, it doesn’t matter how many professional setbacks you endure, you will be reasonably happy. If you have an unsuccessful marriage, it doesn’t matter how many career triumphs you record, you will remain significantly unfulfilled."