Monday, December 30, 2013

COOL STUFF FROM LIBRARY BOOKS #31: Corrie ten Boom’s Testimony of Forgiveness... Unforgettable!

God Enables Us To Forgive
Corrie ten Boom’s Testimony of Forgiveness
Corrie ten Boom and her family, working with the Dutch resistance, sheltered Jews during World War II in their home in Holland to save them from the Holocaust. The Nazis arrested her and her entire family and sent them off to concentration camps. Corrie and her sister, Betsie, were imprisoned together at Ravensbruck inside Germany. There they witnessed and endured unspeakable violence and despair, very nearly starving to death. Betsie was beaten by a Nazi guard, weakening her already sickly frame so that in the course of time she grew weaker and finally died.
Corrie grew sick at heart.
Yet Betsie had always prayed for God to bring good out of horrible evil. She prayed for her guards and that the atrocities of the camp could be used by God as a platform for something beautiful for God. Her words to her sister, Corrie, carried her through the remaining years of her life. Betsie had a vision from God; she "saw" the prison barracks painted green with growing plants and flowers to heal the soul. Then she turned to her sister and told her to tell the world a message from the Lord: "We must tell people what we have learned here. We must tell them that there is no pit so deep that [God] is not the deeper still. They will listen to us Corrie, because we have been here."
Betsie died shortly thereafter. Corrie was released through a "clerical error." She returned to Holland, was liberated by the Allied Forces, and grew strong again. After the war, someone donated some concentration camp barracks and she painted them green, put gardens in them to heal the soul and so began a ministry of love and healing to her former enemies. She went often to speak in the shattered remains of Germany, carrying the message that her sister Betsie told her just before she died.
There was one moment that was definitive for Corrie. She had gone to Germany to preach the gospel of forgiveness. Listen to her words:

"It was at a church service in Munich that I saw him, the former S.S. man who had stood guard at the shower room door in the processing center at Ravensbruck. He was the first of our actual jailers that I had seen since that time. And suddenly it was all there – the roomful of mocking men, the heaps of clothing, Betsie’s pain-blanched face.
"He came up to me as the church was emptying, beaming and bowing. ‘How grateful I am for your message, Fraulein,’ he said. ‘To think that, as you say, He has washed my sins away!’
"His hand was thrust out to shake mine. And I who had preached so often to people ...of the need to forgive, kept my hand at my side.
"Even as the angry, vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. Jesus Christ had died for this man; was I going to ask for more? ‘Lord Jesus,’ I prayed, ‘forgive me and help me to forgive him.’
"I tried to smile. I struggled to raise my hand. I could not. I felt nothing, not the slightest spark of warmth or charity. And so again I breathed a silent prayer. ‘Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give me Your  forgiveness.’
"As I took his hand, the most incredible thing happened. From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me.
"And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself." *

When we think we cannot forgive, God can do it through us. What it takes is a decision to choose His highest and to invite our Lord into our weaknesses. Then He can forgive through us. He can also use our former despair as the starting place of care for untold people who are in desperate need of the mercy of our God.
Corrie learned to bless those who cursed her, to pray for those who despitefully used her, and through this process, learned that forgiveness is not only required but enabled. She learned that there was "no pit so deep that God was not the deeper still."

    Adapted from the book Power Praying by David Chotka. Copyright © 2009, Prayer Shop Publishing. []

    *The direct quote from Corrie is from the book The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom with John and Elizabeth Sherrill. Copyright © 1971. Published by Chosen Books, a division of Baker Publishing.


Saturday, December 21, 2013

HYMN TIME #15: "O Holy Night" and CELINE DION... [yup, her]

Albie's Note: This is my very favorite Christmas song!

According to Wikipedia:

"'O Holy Night' ('Cantique de Noël') is a well-known Christmas carol composed by Adolphe Adam in 1847 to the French poem "Minuit, chrétiens" (Midnight, Christians) by Placide Cappeau (1808–1877). Cappeau, a wine merchant and poet, had been asked by a parish priest to write a Christmas poem.[1] Unitarian minister John Sullivan Dwight,[2] editor of Dwight's Journal of Music, created a singing edition based on Cappeau's French text in 1855. In both the French original and in the two familiar English versions of the carol, the text reflects on the birth of Jesus and of humanity's redemption."

I will just say this:   The music may have been supplied by a Unitarian, but the original French version literally translates--  in the first verse-- as the following:

"Midnight, Christians, it is the solemn hour,
When God as man descended unto us
To erase the stain of original sin
And to end the wrath of His Father.
The entire world thrills with hope
On this night that gives it a Saviour.

People kneel down, wait for your deliverance.
Christmas, Christmas, here is the Redeemer,
Christmas, Christmas, here is the Redeemer!"
Not much "Unitarian" [denying of Christ's deity] in that!   AMEN!

And here is my all time favorite version, sung live by Celine Dion.  I have never owned a single album by that Diva, but I firmly believe in "credit where it is due." 

In the VH1 video below, at about 3 minutes, 16 seconds, when Celine sings the words: "CHRIST IS THE LORD," I get goose pimples every time! 


O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the Soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope!  The weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!

Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
NOEL, NOEL, O, Night Divine...
NOEL, NOEL, O, Night Divine!


Saturday, December 14, 2013

SONGS THAT TELL A STORY #7: "Philadelphia Lawyer" by Willie Nelson, 1988

Albie's Note:  This tried-and-true story song was written by the great Woody Guthrie, some say as early as 1937.  It is said that he used it to win rural audiences over with a light-hearted take on the "eternal triangle" theme.  In Woody's version of the triangle, a city-slicker lawyer makes the mistake of putting serious moves on  a Nevada cowpoke's gullible gal-pal... with lethal results.  It's a great song, and Willie Nelson's version [found on the Guthrie/Leadbelly Folkways tribute album from back in 1988] is my all-time fave rendering.

Interesting sidenote:   the very term "Philadelphia lawyer" had a connotation that those first audiences understood.  Wikipedia states: 

"Philadelphia Lawyer is a term to describe a lawyer who knows the most detailed and minute points of law or is an exceptionally competent lawyer. Its first usage dates back to 1788.  Alternatively, 'the ultimate in crooked lawyers'." 

Kinda DOES make ya wanna oil up the firearms, don't it? 

Philadelphia Lawyer
Words and Music by Woody Guthrie
Way out in Reno, Nevada,
Where romance blooms and fades,
A great Philadelphia lawyer
Was in love with a Hollywood maid.

"Come, love, and we'll go ramblin'
Down where the lights are so bright.
I'll win you a divorce from your husband,
And we can get married tonight."
Wild Bill was a gun-totin' cowboy,
Ten notches were carved in his gun.
And all the boys around Reno
Left Wild Bill's maiden alone.

One night when Bill was returning
From ridin' the range in the cold,
He dreamed of his Hollywood sweetheart,
Her love was as lasting as gold. 

As he drew near her window,
Two shadows he saw on the shade;
'Twas the great Philadelphia lawyer
Makin' love to Bill's Hollywood maid.

The night was as still as the desert,
The moon hangin' high overhead.
Bill listened awhile through the window,
He could hear ev'ry word that he said: 

"Your hands are so pretty and lovely,
Your form's so rare and divine.
Come go with me to the city
And leave this wild cowboy behind."

Now tonight back in old Pennsylvania,
Among those beautiful pines,
There's one less Philadelphia lawyer
In old Philadelphia tonight!!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

OBSCURE TREASURES DEPT: "Peril Outpost" by Jim Kjelgaard, 1946

Albie's Note:  CALLING ALL BOYS was a "pulpy" 60 page comic book launched by the folks at the "slick" periodical Parents’ Magazine back in 1946.  This entirely wholesome mix of comics and written stories lasted 17 issues and featured numerous multi-page text stories, many by established pulp authors of the time.  In issues 3 and 4, a young Jim Kjelgaard [see my own tribute of this great author HERE if you like] contributed this pretty cool frontier yarn.  The illustrations are by an old pro named Ralph Cosby Smith, who had made a name for himself in the outdoor magazine world at the time. 

Now mind you... I know there is no such thing as "the good old days," but doesn't it seem like kids got a heckuva lot for a dime back then??  

I have also included an ad for a current western movie adapted from the great classic SMOKY THE COWHORSE by Will James.  I never knew this film existed.  I was familiar with the one made in the sixties with Fess Parker, but this 1946 Technicolor [!] version sounds much more interesting!  Fred MacMurray and Burl Ives??  How could you go wrong?  I wonder if its available on disc anywhere? 

These scans are from the amazing DIGITAL COMICS MUSEUM. 


Monday, December 2, 2013

BIG AL's JOVIAL JUKEBOX #22: "Seattle" by CONNIE SMITH, 1969

Albie's Note: This tune can be found on Connie Smith's 1969 RCA album "Connie's Country", which was produced by the legendary Bob Ferguson. "Seattle" was written by Ernie Sheldon and Jack Keller.  A lot of folks will remember the bigger pop hit by Perry Como and the use of the song in the western TV show HERE COME THE BRIDES. I prefer Connie's countryfied version because, frankly, that woman's version of anything cuts all the competition.

From the original album liner notes for this track: "Connie's preference for melodic songs and her way of making a pretty song even prettier make this band highly appealing. Connie sings it with warmth and joy and makes you glad you're living".

Side note: I have a buddy who moved there after college... he once told me "Where the heck are those blue skies that song kept mentioning?"  I guess he felt "grayest skies" would have been more accurate!

The bluest skies you've ever seen are in Seattle

And the hills the greenest green, in Seattle

Like a beautiful child, growing up, free an' wild

Full of hopes an' full of fears, full of laughter, full of tears 

Full of dreams to last the years, in Seattle 

. . . in Seattle!


When it's time to leave your home and your loved ones

It's the hardest thing a girl can ever do

An' you pray that you will find

someone warm an' sweet an' kind

But you're not sure what's waiting there for you!


The bluest skies you've ever seen are in Seattle

And the hills the greenest green, in Seattle

Like a beautiful child, growing up, free an' wild

Full of hopes an' full of fears, full of laughter, full of tears 

Full of dreams to last the years, in Seattle 

. . . in Seattle!


  [instrumental break]  


When you find your own true love, you will know it

By his smile, by the look in his eye

Scent of pine trees in the air, never knew a day so fair

It makes you feel so proud that you could cry!


The bluest skies you've ever seen are in Seattle

And the hills the greenest green, in Seattle

Like a beautiful child, growing up, free an' wild

Full of hopes an' full of fears, full of laughter, full of tears 

Full of dreams to last the years, in Seattle 

. . . in Seattle!


Sunday, November 17, 2013

RUGGEDLY ACCURATE: Frontier Art by the great GARY ZABOLY!

Albie's Note: I first encountered the amazing artwork of Gary Zaboly back in 1997, when as a student in Bible College I checked out a great book called  Texian Iliad: A Military History of the Texas Revolution [authored by Stephen L. Hardin-- great book!] from the Tempe [AZ] Public Library.

To use a common modern expression--- I was blown away!  I never forgot those first images, and since then I have followed his work wherever i could find it. I really appreciate the amazing  attention to detail in his workYou almost feel like you are looking at a contemporary woodcut made by a peculiarly gifted eyewitness.

Here are some samples from his work that I was able to collect from a simple Google search.. Check it out!



Mountain Men, unsettled land and lawless characters first kindled this artist’s desire to create credible illustrations that would preserve Old West history.

“It is less about bravery and courage than it is about the challenges suddenly thrust upon mostly ordinary people in the wilderness,” Gary Zaboly says. “They were forced to discover the reserves of strength and bravery within them—not to mention a host of other human characteristics, not always admirable ones. That ‘ordinary’ zone is one I prefer to depict—not the moment when the zealot dies gloriously cradling his flag, or the defenders of a fort, portrayed in godlike fashion, holding off the enemy tide, and having such extraordinary courage that none of us could ever hope to match them.”

Wanting to be an illustrator ever since he began watching B-Westerns as a kindergartner, Gary Zaboly wrote to historians who inspired him and included his sketches with the letter. “After a while they called upon me to produce original artwork for their new books and other media,” he says. “And voila! I had my first published historical illustrations.”

Since then, he has illustrated well-known figures from Gen. George Custer to Teddy Roosevelt, but his undeniable favorite is frontiersman Davy Crockett, whom Zaboly has admired since the release of the 1950s Disney mini-series. His fascination with the iconic folk hero has led him to illustrate books covering the history of Texas, such as the Blood of Noble Men: The Alamo Siege and Battle; Texian Iliad: A Military History of the Texas Revolution; and, most recently, An Altar for Their Sons, which took 18 years to complete.

“I learned that there remains much unexplored documentation concerning the story of the Alamo, and that the fort itself was not the rubbly wreck of a place that movies, artists and modelers have made it out to be,” he says. “The word ‘strong’ was constantly used in 1835 and 1836 to describe it.”

Zaboly will continue to illustrate the raw reality of the West, from its dirty buckskins to its architecture, without resorting to glamorization or romanticism. “I’m currently illustrating a book on the Mexican-American War, and am about to produce a series of illustrations depicting a certain Western tribe,” he says.


Saturday, November 16, 2013


Albie's Note:  I never actually appreciated the poetry of this Mick Jagger/ Keith Richards composition until one of my oddball heroes Skid Roper recorded this beatnik/country interpretation with his band The Whirling Spurs on the album TRAILS PLOWED UNDER back in 1989.  The lyrics have been much debated over the years, but I like to think of the piece as a sort of beat poem about loss and grief... and that endless cyclical phenomenon where humans are always trying to project their pain into the world outside of them.

But then again... maybe I should warn you that Skid's version actually features a prominent Kazoo, so how I took such a serious message away from it no doubt says a lot about me. :) 

The excellent female lead vocal here is by band-mate Jayne Robson.  Enjoy.

“Paint It Black”
I see a red door and I want it painted black
No colors anymore I want them to turn black
I see the girls walk by dressed in their summer clothes
I have to turn my head until my darkness goes

I see a line of cars and they’re all painted black
With flowers and my love, both never to come back
I see people turn their heads and quickly look away
Like a newborn baby it just happens ev’ryday

I look inside myself and see my heart is black
I see my red door and it has been painted black
Maybe then I’ll fade away and not have to face the facts
It’s not easy facing up when your whole world is black

No more will my green sea go turn a deeper blue
I could not forsee this thing happening to you
If I look hard enough into the setting sun
My love will laugh with me before the morning comes

I see a red door and I want it painted black
No colors anymore I want them to turn black
I see the girls walk by dressed in their summer clothes
I have to turn my head until my darkness goes
Hmm, hmm, hmm…

I wanna see it painted black, painted black
Black as night, black as coal
I wanna see the sun, blotted out from the sky
I wanna see it painted, painted, painted, painted black


Saturday, November 9, 2013

BIG AL's JOVIAL JUKEBOX #20: "Brave Mountaineers" by Gordon Lightfoot, 1972

Albie's Note:  Not only is this my favorite Gordon Lightfoot song [and choosing a fave from THAT man's amazing catalog is a bit of a feat in itself!] but it is-- I think-- my all-time favorite song about childhood.

Maybe that's because my memories of a rural childhood are astoundingly similar.   I know it's a long way from western Canada to southern Arizona, but this song really always has-- and forever will-- make me think of my boyhood in Sonoita, AZ. like no other piece of writing-- right down to the image of climbing through old train trestles in the dusty afternoon!

Gordon Lightfoot turns 75 on the 17th of this month.  Here's a shout-out to the old balladeer... my life would have been a little poorer without his music and poetry!

From the classic 1973 album DON QUIXOTE.

Born in the country and I like that country smile
Of the little girls and boys, they remind me of a child
That I knew and a big harvest moon
That shone by suppertime in the dusty afternoon

And I need to be there
When the autumn wind goes singin' through the trestle we would climb
Like brave mountaineers
We never were much bothered by time
Born in the country and I like that country song
We played for just a nickel every time we got to town
And I bought you a dime diamond ring
In the hayloft we would play, we were princesses and kings
And I need to be there
When the world gets too heavy and the shadows cross my mind
Like brave mountaineers
We never were much bothered by time
Born in the country and I like that country way
Of the uncles aunts and cousins and the card games they would play
While the young ones slept overhead
Beneath the quilts that mother made, when all the prayers were said
And I need to be there
When the autumn wind goes singin' through the trestle we would climb
Like brave mountaineers
We never were much bothered by time
And I need to be there
When the world gets too heavy and the shadows cross my mind
Like brave mountaineers
We never were much bothered by time

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


Kepler, the great astronomer, who laid the foundation of much of our knowledge of the stars, one day exclaimed, after spending hours in surveying the heavens, "I have been thinking over again the earliest thoughts of the Creator," and surely every time a man sacrifices himself, or takes up the cross for another he is thinking over again the earliest, deepest thought of the love of Christ.

    Every time you do a gentle act for another who does not deserve it, every time you lay down your life to save others, every time you endure shame and spitting and scorn to rescue lost women and lost men, in the glow of your human interest, and amidst disappointment and rebuff you say, "Well, thank God, I am seeing deeper than ever I saw before into what Jesus has been feeling for me." Abraham learned more of the love of God the day he was led up Mount Moriah than anything else could have taught him.
    Perhaps there are men and women who have been hearing all this, and who are saying, "Well, well, my life has been so dreary, so perplexed, that I cannot think God loves me." I pray you remember a text which says that "we have known and believed the love that God hath to us" (1 John 4:16).
    Standing upon the granite block of redemption and providence, and the blessings which have come to our life, we must dare to face the inexplicable, the dark, and the mysterious; and reason that the pathway of love lies through these also, and when we have traversed them we shall look back on a trail of light. The love of God has never once failed me, and though I cannot see it, or how that trouble which menaces me is consistent with it, it is only the text over again, "The love of God passeth knowledge."
    You cannot know it, you cannot tell its great track. "Thy way is in the sea, and Thy path in the great waters and Thy footsteps are not known" (Psa. 77:19). You cannot always follow Him, but you may always believe that there is love, though it passeth knowledge.
    We need a baptism of love today. We all need it. Many are leading such a miserable life of repression; they are ever flying to jealousy and hatred and ill will and suspicion and dislike. Of course we do not admit these things, and yet they incessantly torment us and follow our footsteps, as the dog which we meant to leave at home, but which follows us. And in so far as they are permitted in heart or life they exclude the consciousness of our Saviour’s infinite love.
    Let us absolutely and for ever put away all these: wrath, anger, malice, ill will and all uncharitableness. Let us reckon that such have neither part nor lot in our new resurrection life. Let us give up our ill will about each other and all who may have injured us, or at least tell Christ that we are willing to be channels through which His love may flow to them.
    And when this is so, and in no part of our heart there is cherished anything that is inconsistent with perfect love, we shall not only understand as never before the unsearchable love of Christ, but we shall be able to claim a baptism of the Holy Spirit, who sheds abroad the love of God in willing, obedient, and believing souls.
          "The Exalted Christ" subtitled "Addresses and Bible readings Delivered at Mildmay Conference" by Rev. F.B. Meyer ; with a preface by J.E. Mathieson, Published by J. G. Wheeler  in London.