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!