Eclectic February!

So, Electric January went out with a kind of fizzle, having been more or less a success from the 1st through the 20th.

I had not meant this blog to be a political in any way, but I realized, as January bled into February, that I hadn’t posted anything on the blog since Inauguration Day and that I hadn’t really intended to.  I was, as millions were, waiting and watching in anticipation of the return (minor though it may be, it is a start, a step in the right direction, away from the autocrat) of democratic thought and leadership.   And as Electric January was my project, designed to get me through those first 20 days of January, I count it a success!

Not many people follow this blog, but I am not out for gathering many followers.  I blog for my own interest and to record some of the pursuits and discoveries I’ve made over the years (or months or days).  I would love for this to be a more academic thing, or even a more consistent thing, but it is what it is and I’m simply pleased it exists at all.

Taizé for Inauguration Day: Electric January the 20th

Today marks the final hours of one presidency and the first ones of another presidency.  It should strike no one as surprising that this is a day of joy for many Americans.

To mark this day of Electric January I contemplated a post or a link to something Presidential.  Political. American. Instead, I offer a link to a place of conteplation.

Media: Prayer and peace.

Location: The town of Taizé, France.  But you can get there by Internet.

How I found it & Reason for Sharing: Several years ago, when we were living in Snohomish, WA, we attended a beautiful service at St. John’s Episcopal church called ‘Taizé’.  In actuality it is not a type of service, but a service named after a town in France, where services are held by monks from all over the world.  The services themselves are held in many languages and truly unite us as Believers.

Below you will find the link to the Taizé page and also a link to one of the recent services, including readings and prayers in a variety of languages.

What I love: It is truly beautiful.  I hope you take a turn out of the very well-earned Pomp and Circumstance of today and listen to these other voices.

Click image for prayer.

Taize

 

What I did on my lunchbreak: An Introduction to ‘Spem in alium’ Electric January 19th

A couple of months ago I began working with an online study group that calls itself–not ironically–the Dream Team.  I was invited to the group by a fellow PhD student on a Nottingham short-course in academic editing and it is not an understatement to say it has changed the way I do PhD Life.

Details aside (for now), we keep to a rather strict schedule of 9-4 and use what is known as ‘The Pomodoro Technique’ (link below if you’re at all interested) for keeping track of our work time.  One of the best parts of this schedule is that it allows for Lunch, something most of my teaching jobs rarely did. Ha ha! But, seriously.

Media: Music. Video. Enlightened lecturer.

Location/Length: 40 voices. In the round. 1570 (or so).  This video: 40 minutes of excellent content.

How I found it/Reason for Sharing:  During lunch today (1.00 – 2.00 most days) I did some online exploring, hoping to learn more about Thomas Tallis.  I come to Tallis by way of Ralph Vaughan-Williams (see earlier post), whose ‘Fantasia on a theme by Thomas Tallis’ is simply divine.

What I love: His humour.  Mixed with his intelligence it makes for a perfect Lunch Break Lesson.

The POMODORO TECHNIQUE

 

Electric January: MLK

This is an additional post for Electric January, in order to honour the life, work, Christianity and humanity of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and to highlight some of the reasons for his untimely death.

As many of you may already know, Dr. King understood that his life was in danger, but he continued, fearless, working for justice.  He knew–and we are tasked with knowing–that what he fought for was contrary to the ease and comfort of the oppressor.  He was the oppressed and he fought for the oppressed.  He stood for the marginalized and the poor, just as Jesus did, and he was not afraid to speak out both in defense of his ethic or against those who opposed him.

When he was sent to prison–as were so many who fought for civil rights, Black rights, and dignity–he wrote this letter.  It is not a rousing speech the way ‘I have a dream’ is rousing, but it rouses the heart to contrition, nonetheless.

I share here the Letter from Birmingham Jail, written by Dr. King in provided by The Christian Century.    

Photo from website Unsplash.

Weekend of Electric January 16&17: Prayer

The weekend is upon us.  For several months, before I began my new degree in earnest, I had no concept of weekends, much like the darling of Downton, the Dowager Countess Violet Grantham.  I would wake up on a Thursday and assess the Nothing I had to do and it would rather depress me.

There is an entire Backstory to how my weekends reappeared, and it is an interesting tale, even for the uninitiated, but it will be penned at a later date.

Media: Prayer (by monk and video)

Location/Length: BBC/only a few minutes (valuable minutes)

How I found it/Reason for Sharing: Certain prayers are often on my radar.  This one, being presented by a soft-spoken Father Giles, a Benedictine monk, puts my heart right every time I watch it.

What I love: The light.

The Greatest Freedom of All

 

Beautiful, loving, literary tribute to Ninagawa for Electric January the 15th

For a description of the Electric January Project, click here.

This is undeniably a LONG read, but once you start in, it may happen that you will love that it is long, because it means the beautiful, soft, humorous voice of the author will be in your mind and your thoughts for that much longer.

Media: Article

Location/Length: A lovely journal called ‘The Point’/About 15 pages

How I found it & Reason for Sharing: This is one of those articles I filed away in my ‘Good Stuff/To Read Later’ folder and recently pulled out for an examination.  I filed it, I am certain, when I was doing a course on Drama and Audience for my MA in English.  The course asked us to look at various interpretations and stagings of Shakespeare, from Classical Elizabethan to Leo DiCaprio to…Ninagawa.  

I share this because it’s a piece that really surprised me for its sleekness, honesty, and elegance.  I know very little about Japan, even less about Japanese theatre, but the author of this piece introduces us by leading us by the hand through the classroom and the streets of Tokyo to her experience. It is lovely, but mysteriously so.

What I love: There are lines that connect this article to Helena Bonham-Carter.  Those lines are obvious to those who wish to find them.

Let Them Misunderstand

Electric January the 14th: Persuasive Cartography

For a description of the Electric January Project, click here.

Media: Maps. Or something like a map.

Location/length:  The Cornell University digital library/PJ Mode collection.

How I found it & Reason for Sharing:  I’ve been looking at a variety of Spiritual Journeys for my PhD and one of the representations of such a journey is a visual ‘map’ or ‘landscape’ of the mind/soul. I’ve been reading John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress as a companion text to the one I am studying, CS Lewis’ The Pilgrim’s Regress and I’ve found there are a lot of really interesting visuals to accompany this 17th century work.

The video lecture, posted below, outlines the thrill we all feel when we ‘decode’ something, like we’re ‘in’ and able to read a secret language.  These maps are like that.

What I love: I’ve wasted the entire afternoon on this pseudo-academic bunny trail so if I post this, I can feel like at least 78% of that time was well spent.

Persuasive map

 

 

Electric January the 13th: Helena Bonham-Carter: The Poetry Years

Really, what’s not to love?

For a description of the Electric January Project, click here.

Media: Poetry, and a Great Deal of Charm.

Length/Location: This beautiful room. And YouTube.

Found/Share: Reading poetry is one of life’s pleasures. Reading it aloud is an additional layer of delight. Listening to Helena Bonham-Carter read poetry may be the best of all.

These poems are lovely and they make you laugh, if you let them.

I am also including this additional video (audio) of Helena introducing a screening of A Room With A View at the British Museum. Totally worth your time.

 

 

Electric January the 12th: Dives and Lazarus

For a description of the Electric January Project, click here.

Dives and Lazarus: This post is a love letter from me to Ralph Vaughan Williams, the early-20th Century English composer.  

Media: Song. “Five Variants of Dives and Lazarus” 

Location/Length: This 11-minute version of Dives and Lazarus is found on YouTube.  I chose this version because the vlogger knows his stuff and I appreciate that. The comments are worth reading as well. Intelligent, thoughtful viewers/commenters.  Rare, and to be appreciated.

Found/Share: If I told you the entire history of my obsession with Ralph Vaughan Williams (pronounced ‘Rafe’, the upper-class English way) we would be here until long after lockdown #3 ended. So I will just say: I was 19 when I first heard “Lark Ascending” and that was 27 years ago.  Once you hear “Dives and Lazarus” you will not soon forget it.

‘Dives and Lazarus’ is an English folk song based on the story of Lazarus and the Rich Man in Luke 16:20.   The pathos and glory of the Lord’s beauty are caught up in this melody and, even without the lyrics, you know there is something aching and sublime taking place in the heart and mind of the composer.  I’ve linked a few websites below with lyrics and history.  

LYRICS
http://www.hymntime.com/tch/htm/d/i/v/diveslaz.htm

HISTORY

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dives_and_Lazarus_(ballad)

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