Saturday, July 26, 2014

HYMN TIME #16: "The Circuit Riding Preacher" by Tim Spencer

Albie's Note:  I love this old tribute to frontier preachers written and sung by former SONS OF THE PIONEERS singer Tim Spencer.  (July 13, 1908 – April 26, 1974)  

The circuit riding preacher [usually a Methodist, but there were Baptist and Presbyterian "circuits" as well] was a frontier figure that has never really been given his due.  But that's OK... eternity will bear out his great contribution to this great country.

Two really good books that touch on the subject are BIBLE IN POCKET, GUN IN HAND by Ross Phares and SOUNDING FORTH THE TRUMPET by Peter Marshall and David Manuel.  The latter book contains a chapter entitled "On The Stretch For God,"  which is the best thing I have ever read about the circuit riders.

Also highly recommended is the fact based 1977 film SHEFFEY which gets my vote as the greatest Christian movie ever filmed.

In any case enjoy this old time Cowboy gospel classic:


Glory glory hallelujah glory glory hallelujah
Glory glory hallelujah glory glory hallelujah
Glory glory hallelujah glory glory hallelujah
His truth is marching on
His truth is marching on
His truth is marching on
The circuit ridin' preacher used to ride across the land
With a rife on his saddle and a Bible in his hand
He told the prairie people all about the promised land
As he went ridin' singin' down the trail

Leaning leaning safe and secure from all alarms
Leaning leaning leaning on the ever lasting arms

The circuit ridin' preacher travelled thru the mire and mud
Told about the firey furnace and of Noah and the flood
He preached the way to heaven was by water and the blood
As he went riding singing down the

There is power power wonder working power in the precious blood of the lamb
There is power power wonder working power in the precious blood of the lamb

His rifle may be rusted as it hangs upon the wall
And his Bible old and dusty may be never read at all
But until the resurrection when we hear the trumpet call...

his TRUTH will ride along!
Glory glory hallelujah glory glory hallelujah
Glory glory hallelujah glory glory hallelujah
Glory glory hallelujah glory glory hallelujah
His truth is marching on
His truth is marching on
His truth is marching on

"Whatever may be said of this peculiar man and his eccentricities,  he was a man who walked with and knew his God.  The brilliance of his itinerant ministry lit up the dark hollows, valleys and mountaintops of early Appalachia and  covered and filled them with the glorious light of the Gospel of Jesus ChristHell shook when he came to town.  He died in peace with God and man, and all who knew him revere his memory.  His mantle of ministry did not fall to the ground when he died.  Elijah's mantle fell upon Elisha at Elijah's departure.  Sheffey's mantle has been kept on hold until an  Elisha Generation would come along and pick it up.  That generation has come.  It is time to pick up this fallen mantle and finish what this old circuit rider started long ago!"

Description of Robert S. Sheffey from the book A History of Middle New River Settlements and Contiguous Territory by David Emmons Johnston, 1906

"How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?"
--ROMANS 10:14

Monday, July 7, 2014

BIG AL's JOVIAL JUKEBOX #29: "Gimme Some" by TEX RITTER, 1964

Albie's Note:  This novelty song was a minor C and W chart hit for legendary cowboy singer Tex Ritter in 1964, the year I was born.  It's a goofy, gloriously honest look at fleshly temptation and man's struggles therewith.  The background chorus just kills me!  Heh heh...

I am amazed this wasn't a bigger hit for ol' Tex.  Enjoy:

Beer and whiskey, whiskey and beer,
Makes your head start aching, makes your eyes unclear;
Makes you waste your money, turns you blind and dumb.
Gimme some.

Strong tobacco, cigarette smoke,
What a dirty habit, makes you nearly choke!
Fills your lungs with poison, makes your brain go
Gimme some.
Will I ever get smart? I doubt it.
Tell me something's bad and I can't live without it.

Pretty women, blue-eyed or brown,
How they drive you crazy, how they drag you down;
Soon they're fat and happy, you're a worn-out bum.
Gimme some,
Gimme some.

Bread and gravy, chicken chow mein,
Too much fancy eating only brings you pain,
Doctor says "Hold on there, not another crumb!"
Gimme some.

Dice and poker, blackjack and dice,
Start to win a little, get to feelin' nice!
Bet it all and roll 'em, "Snake eyes, sorry, chum."
Gimme some.

Will I ever get smart? I doubt it.
Tell me something's bad and I can't live without it.

Pretty women, blue-eyed or brown,
How they drive you crazy, how they drag you down;
Soon they're fat and happy, you're a worn-out bum.
Gimme some,
Gimme some.
Gimme some.
Gimme some.


Monday, June 16, 2014

POETRY BREAK #20 [Father's Day Edition]: "ONLY A DAD" by Edgar A. Guest, 1916

Only a Dad

By Edgar Albert Guest


Only a dad, with a tired face,
Coming home from the daily race,
Bringing little of gold or fame,
To show how well he has played the game,
But glad in his heart that his own rejoice
To see him come, and to hear his voice.

Only a dad, with a brood of four,
One of ten million men or more.
Plodding along in the daily strife,
Bearing the whips and the scorns of life,
With never a whimper of pain or hate,
For the sake of those who at home await.

Only a dad, neither rich nor proud,
Merely one of the surging crowd
Toiling, striving from day to day,
Facing whatever may come his way,
Silent, whenever the harsh condemn,
And bearing it all for the love of them.

Only a dad, but he gives his all
To smooth the way for his children small,
Doing, with courage stern and grim,
The deeds that his father did for him.
This is the line that for him I pen,
Only a dad, but the best of men.

From the book "A Heap o' Livin'" ©1916

Albie's Note:   That's an unpecedented 2 in a row from Mr. Guest, but I couldn't resist on Dad's Day!  I actually had a Dad like this [only his brood was SEVEN!]... If I could BE this good a Dad as well...
Well, that would be the thing, wouldn't it? 



Saturday, June 7, 2014

POETRY BREAK #19: "Speaking Of Greenberg" by EDGAR A. GUEST, 1934

Albie's Note: OK, friends... if you know me at all you probably know at least TWO things-- amongst others-- about me:  I love old time Baseball, and I am an ardent "Christian Zionist."  

It's rare that those 2 passions come together but they do in today's "POETRY BREAK," as under-valued American poet Edgar Guest brings us a great American Poem about the first Jewish baseball Hall-Of-Famer and all around hero Henry Benjamin "Hank" Greenberg (January 1, 1911 – September 4, 1986), [nicknamed "Hammerin' Hank," "Hankus Pankus" or "The Hebrew Hammer."]

The occasion for this poem is summarized nicely by WIKIPEDIA:

Late in the 1934 season, [Greenberg] announced that he would not play on September 10, which was Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, or on September 19, the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur. Fans grumbled, "Rosh Hashanah comes every year but the Tigers haven't won the pennant since 1909."

Greenberg did considerable soul-searching, and discussed the matter with his rabbi; finally he relented and agreed to play on Rosh Hashanah, but stuck with his decision not to play on Yom Kippur. Dramatically, Greenberg hit two home runs in a 2–1 Tigers victory over Boston on Rosh Hashanah. The next day's Detroit Free Press ran the Hebrew lettering for "Happy New Year" across its front page.

Columnist and poet Edgar A. Guest expressed the general opinion in a poem titled "Speaking of Greenberg," in which he used the Irish (and thus Catholic) names Murphy and Mulroney. The poem ends with the lines "We shall miss him on the infield and shall miss him at the bat / But he's true to his religion—and I honor him for that."

And so I am proud to reprint it here, as it originally appeared across the country's newspapers in October 1934:


by Edgar A. Guest

The Irish didn't like it when they heard of Greenberg's fame
For they thought a good first baseman should possess an Irish name;
And the Murphys and Mulrooneys said they never dreamed they'd see
A Jewish boy from Bronxville out where Casey used to be.
In the early days of April not a Dugan tipped his hat
Or prayed to see a "double" when Hank Greenberg came to bat.

In July the Irish wondered where he'd ever learned to play.
"He makes me think of Casey!" Old Man Murphy dared to say;
And with fifty-seven doubles and a score of homers made
The respect they had for Greenberg was being openly displayed.
But on the Jewish New Year when Hank Greenberg came to bat
And made two home runs off Pitcher Rhodes—they cheered like mad for that.

Came Yom Kippur—holy fast day world-wide over to the Jew—
And Hank Greenberg to his teaching and the old tradition true
Spent the day among his people and he didn't come to play.
Said Murphy to Mulrooney, "We shall lose the game today!
We shall miss him on the infield and shall miss him at the bat,
But he's true to his religion—and I honor him for that!"

Edgar Albert Guest 


Saturday, May 24, 2014

R.I.P. "COMMUNITY," 2009-2014... I'll truly miss you!

There was once, at the very beginning, a sense in which this show had-- well, let us say... at least a bare working context of actual reality.  It would still have been watchable, even good in that form... but thankfully, the whole project went wildly off the rails and fast... even well before that first quirky season ended.

The original premise? It was pretty simple, really.

A cocky lawyer is disbarred when it is discovered he had no real bachelor's degree, and he has no choice but to enroll at a local Community College to procure one.  Even the college in those early episodes was something similar to a real JC-- and of course there's a strangeness to all higher learning campuses in today's USA that could reasonably sustain a hip, satirical, comedic look at one.  

Instead of this, however, COMMUNITY-- the sitcom brain-child of some geeky genius guy named Dan Harmon-- chose to be a hip, satirical, comedic look at... well... at Television itself, at story conceits in general, really at everything from metaphysics and religion and science fiction,  to the strange appeal of ersatz "barely-foods" like chicken fingers, and ersatz "barley-tropes" like zombie apocalypses.

In retrospect, it had to end sometime, and now is probably that time.  Looking back, the whole show-- from season one to season five-- and I was watching the very first night it premiered-- has a nice kind of completeness to it.   Recently, I watched that pilot episode again as a syndicated replay.  Although it didn't have the insanity of the later episodes it was actually a perfect starter.  At one point, the lawyer Jeff Winger's old friend Duncan, now a washed-up junior college professor, tells Jeff:

"What you have now, my friend, is a second chance at an honest life."  

And, amazingly, this truly serves as the overall thematic arc of the entire series:  a cynic-- who borders being a sociopath-- is forced to make and maintain friends with his own dysfunctional and irritating community-at-hand.

Now, don't get me wrong... there was always  a sense in which that whole thing was the usual annoyingly heavy-handed allegory about human collectivism [even the title was significantly suggestive of that favorite Hollywood theme about  a deeper and mystical "socialism within us all"-- usually stuff that sends this old libertarian scrambling-- I mean SCRAMBLING-- for the remote control!]  

But what set COMMUNITY apart-- at least for me-- were two things:

1.  An amazing ensemble cast of truly gifted comedic actors [comedians are one thing, actors are another... the talented hybrid of both is a MUCH rarer thing than we often realize.]

2.  A team of writers who often actually succeeded in doing what is usually only claimed:  creating scripts that are new takes and truly unique in the history of the American sit-com.

This combination gave us stuff like the legendary "Time-line" episode [don't even ask how many times my kids and I have watched this one]; the 2-- count them-- 2 Dungeons & Dragons episodes [amazing textured entertainment even to a guy who never even thought of playing an RPG-- and I confess I kinda want to now!];  the Law & Order episode ["Need I remind you, gentlemen, this is NOT a court of law!"]; and the list goes on and on. 

COMMUNITY famously had one of those "loyal cult followings" that literally saved it from cancelation about 4 times.  Although I never joined any campaign to save it or sent any emails on its behalf, I am truly thankful for all those fellow geeks that did.

One thing's for sure:   Thursday nights will never be quite the same again.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

WELL I MADE IT TO FIVE-0! [and I don't mean Hawaii!]

Yep it was May 14, 1964-- 16th Israeli Independence day-- the day I first came to America... :) 

50 years!  It's a doggone half century!  to be honest, I feel pretty much the same as I have most of my adult life... 'cept I need to drop some weight! 

I prayed for wisdom a lot when younger.   Now it seems like what wisdom I got came with a price in this mortal life. 

Still, I can NOT complain!  Life is good and God is Great!


Psalms 90:12 
So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

COOL STUFF FROM LIBRARY BOOKS #33, Mother's Day Edition: "D.L. Moody's Mother And Her Own Prodigal"

How Moody's Mother
Forgave her Prodigal Son.
I can give you a little experience of my own family.
Before I was fourteen years old the first thing I remember was the death of my father. He had been unfortunate in business, and failed. Soon after his death the creditors came in and took everything.
My mother was left with a large family of children. One calamity after another swept over the entire household. Twins were added to the family, and my mother was taken sick. The eldest boy was fifteen years of age, and to him my mother looked as a stay in her calamity, but all at once that boy became a wanderer. He had been reading some of the trashy novels, and the belief had seized him that he had only to go away to make a fortune. Away he went. I can remember how eagerly she used to look for tidings of that boy; how she used to send us to the post office to see if there was a letter from him, and recollect how we used to come back with the sad news,
"No letter."
I remember how in the evenings we used to sit beside her in that New England home, and we would talk about our father; but the moment the name of that boy was mentioned she would hush us into silence. Some nights when the wind was very high, and the house, which was upon a hill, would tremble at every gust, the voice of my mother was raised in prayer for that wanderer who had treated her so unkindly.
I used to think she loved him more than all the rest of us put together, and I believe she did. On a Thanksgiving day--you know that is a family day in New England--she used to set a chair for him, thinking he would return home. Her family grew up and her boys left home. When I got so that I could write, I sent letters all over the country, but could find no trace of him. One day while in Boston the news reached me that he had returned.
While in that city, I remember how I used to look for him in every store--he had a mark on his face--but I never got any trace. One day while my mother was sitting at the door, a stranger was seen coming toward the house, and when he came to the door he stopped.
My mother didn't know her boy.
He stood there with folded arms and great beard flowing down his breast, his tears trickling down his face. When my mother saw those tears she cried,
"Oh, it's my lost son,"
 and entreated him to come in. But he stood still.
"No, mother," he said, "I will not come in till I hear first you forgive me."
Do you believe she was not willing to forgive him? Do you think she was likely to keep him long standing there? She rushed to the threshold and threw her arms around him, and breathed forgiveness.
Ah, sinner, if you but ask God to be merciful to you a sinner, ask Him for forgiveness, although your life has been bad--ask Him for mercy, and He will not keep you long waiting for an answer.

From MOODY'S ANECDOTES, also known as: "Moody's Anecdotes And Illustrations
       Related in his Revival Work by the Great Evangilist"
CHICAGO: Rhodes & McClure Publishing Co. 1899