All posts by M.J.

#267: A Mass Revival Meeting

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #267, on the subject of A Mass Revival Meeting.

On September 27 through 29 (coinciding with the Feast of Tabernacles) an organization called Awaken the Dawn is planning a massive effort entitled Tent America 2018.  In all fifty United States capitals and on many college campuses they are planning to hold huge meetings over several days, comprised of worship music and intercessory prayer.  The hope is to lead America to revival.

I received an invitation to participate, but after some investigation I declined, for a number of reasons.  I am sure that it will be a wonderful time of praise and worship for those for whom such meetings are worthwhile, and I would certainly encourage anyone to participate who benefits from such meetings.  However, I think the organizers, at least at the Trenton New Jersey location, have made two serious mistakes.

The first mistake is entirely common in our present time:  they have assumed that anyone who is a Christian musician is de facto a worship leader.  As I have elsewhere noted, just as the majority of Christians are not what we call “ministers” (although all are called to serve), so too the majority of Christian musicians are not “music ministers”, and even among those who are only some are what we call “worship leaders”.  Leading people in worship is fundamentally pastoral ministry.  It’s not about standing up front with a guitar singing the right songs; it’s about being called to that as a ministry.

I say it’s a common mistake–just as back in the 1970s it was assumed that anyone who was a Christian and a musician was automatically an evangelist.  It wasn’t true.  Today the assumption is that such people are automatically worship leaders–overlooking the fact that a worship leader is, pretty much by definition, a pastor, although very few will say this of their worship leaders.  I know they’re making this mistake because when they told me what they wanted, it pretty much came down to standing on the stage singing worship songs, not speaking more than necessary.  I am a teacher, but they did not want me to teach even a little bit.  Very few of my songs are “worship songs”; most of them teach.  I also have talked with another Christian musician planning to play there who readily admits not being a worship leader, but who is planning simply to play a few worship songs; if someone else is leading worship, that’s fine, and I fully agree with that attitude of being willing as a musician who is not a minister to support another minister with musical gifts.  However, it is a mistake to expect such musicians to be ministers just because they’re musicians and they know some worship songs.  It doesn’t work that way.

The other mistake is that they expect mass meetings of worship and intercession to result in revival.  I don’t want to say that it doesn’t work that way, but history and scripture both suggest that it doesn’t.  Revivals do not arise from Christians being involved in praise meetings; nor do they come from intercession.  Every revival whose roots can be traced began with believers repenting, confessing our own sins and admitting that we have not been what God wanted us to be.  These meetings are not telling anyone that.  Rather, they are focused on enjoying our relationships with God (which is certainly a good thing) and praying for other people.  It is not until we pray for ourselves, ask forgiveness and seek to change our ways, that we are launching the roots of revival.

To that end, it’s not going to be songs like You Are My King (Amazing Love) by The Newsboys, or Revelation Song by Phillips Craig & Dean that bring revival, as wonderful as they are, but songs like For King and Country’s Oh God, Forgive Us.  It is when we meet to confess our own sins and change our own lives that revival begins–always with the household of God.

#266: Minstrel Barry McGuire

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #266, on the subject of Minstrel Barry McGuire.

I met Barry McGuire thrice; I’ve mentioned that, and I’ll tell you about it, but his history goes back before mine.

Barry might be the first successful secular artist to become a leading contemporary Christian musician.  He was a member of the successful folk group The New Christy Minstrels–not a founding member, but co-wrote their first hit, Green, Green, on which his characteristic voice can be identified on lead vocals.  He went on to appear on stage in the Broadway hit musical Hair, but was best known for his single–which knocked The BeatlesHelp! out of the number one spot–Eve of Destruction.

In 1973 he recorded his first Christian album, Seeds, on Myrrh Records.  I was aware of the album, and am sure I heard it, but don’t recall any titles on the track list.  His signature song Happy Road, recorded in several versions on several disks, was originally released on Lighten Up in 1974 (and the backup vocals might sound familiar, but we’ll get to them).

His most famous studio album was undoubtedly Cosmic Cowboy, whose title song rose on the Contemporary Christian music charts when it was released.  I think most of us didn’t know what it was–Rap was brand new and at that time exclusively black, so a song in which the lead singer talked all the way through had more in common with Country/Western ballads, but the heavily-orchestrated disco-like background music was incongruous with that genre.

About the same time he got a lot of airplay of the title song of a children’s album, Bullfrogs & Butterflies.

I always found that Barry’s studio work did not do him justice.  I met him at a concert somewhere near Boston in probably 1976 or 77, and he impressed me by taking time to talk with me about music ministry; that’s been recounted in web log post #163:  So You Want to Be a Christian Musician, and it inspired me to write my song Mountain, Mountain (Barry is the mountain, not just because he is a large and imposing person and personality).  In March, 1977, I opened for him at a Gordon College banquet we called the March Thaw, but was unable to play the song for him then, and then when I was at the radio station he stopped by one day when he was singing in the area and talked with me on the air, but I didn’t have a guitar (and silly me I should have sung it for him a capella, but I didn’t think of it and didn’t think I would never see him again).

He appeared on the Keith Green tribute album First Love, and reportedly retired but returned to tour with Terry Talbot.  I find no report of him since 2016, but no obituary either.

We’ll have more of Barry after the next entry, because his music for a time was intertwined with another band who recorded with him numerous times but is much better known for its own career.

*****

The series to this point has included:

  1. #232:  Larry Norman, Visitor;
  2. #234:  Flip Sides of Ralph Carmichael;
  3. #236:  Reign of the Imperials;
  4. #238:  Love Song by Love Song.
  5. #240:  Should Have Been a Friend of Paul Clark.
  6. #242:  Disciple Andraé Crouch.
  7. #244: Missed The Archers.
  8. #246: The Secular Radio Hits.
  9. #248:  The Hawkins Family.
  10. #250:  Original Worship Leader Ted Sandquist.
  11. #252:  Petra Means Rock.
  12. #254:  Miscellaneous Early Christian Bands.
  13. #256:  Harry Thomas’ Creations Come Alive.
  14. #258:  British Invaders Malcolm and Alwyn.
  15. #260:  Lamb and Jews for Jesus.
  16. #262: First Lady Honeytree of Jesus Music.
  17. #264:  How About Danny Taylor?.

#265: Versers in Motion

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #265, on the subject of Versers in Motion.

With permission of Valdron Inc I have now completed publishing my first three novels, Verse Three, Chapter One:  The First Multiverser Novel, Old Verses New, and For Better or Verse, in serialized form on the web (those links will take you to the table of contents for each book).  Along with each book there was also a series of web log posts looking at the writing process, the decisions and choices that delivered the final product; those posts are indexed with the chapters in the tables of contents pages.  Now as I am posting the fourth, Spy Verses,  I am again offering a set of “behind the writings” insights.  This “behind the writings” look may contain spoilers because it sometimes talks about what I was planning to do later in the book–although it sometimes raises ideas that were never pursued.  You might want to read the referenced chapters before reading this look at them.  Links below (the section headings) will take you to the specific individual chapters being discussed, and there are (or will soon be) links on those pages to bring you back hopefully to the same point here.

There is also a section of the site, Multiverser Novel Support Pages, in which I have begun to place materials related to the novels beginning with character papers for the major characters, giving them at different stages as they move through the books.

This is the sixth mark Joseph “young” web log post covering this book, covering chapters 106 through 126.  These were the previous mark Joseph “young” web log posts covering this book:

  1. #218:  Versers Resume (which provided this kind of insight into the first twenty-one chapters);
  2. #226:  Versers Adapt (covering chapters 22 through 42);
  3. #235:  Versers Infiltrate (covering chapters 43 through 63);
  4. #243:  Verser Redirects (covering chapters 64 through 84);
  5. #257:  Verser Relationships (covering chapters 85 through 105).

History of the series, including the reason it started, the origins of character names and details, and many of the ideas, are in those earlier posts, and won’t be repeated here.

Chapter 106, Slade 124

I needed to do something with Slade, so I brought him to a white camp.  The idea of having him suggest he thought he had returned to Vargas’ camp developed as I wrote, but I still don’t know where this section will take me.


Chapter 107, Brown 143

I had not intended a confrontation between Derek and Williams, but it seemed that my timeframe was going to require it, so I thought I should make it dramatic.  I expect Williams to order Derek arrested, but Derek will act preemptively.


Chapter 108, Kondor 125

Kondor now has Zeke with him, which I had not previously envisioned.  I’m setting up the terms of their relationship and the character of the new associate as I go.


Chapter 109, Slade 125

I was still to some degree struggling with the Slade story, and now I had committed myself to a quick end with Kondor so I had to start thinking seriously about how to get them into that last world without a repeat of the random death bit.  I didn’t yet have it.

I stumbled into the new moral issue mostly from looking for some interesting dialogue, but once I saw it I spent a couple days trying to get it right.


Chapter 110, Brown 144

I had worked out most of this while writing the intervening chapters, trying to figure out what would most likely happen.  I knew when I finished the previous Brown chapter that his “pre-emptive” action would have to be telling the security officers to arrest Williams before Williams said to arrest him, and that was the timing issue.

Somewhere in my mind I realized that this would disrupt the room, as everyone was distracted by the unfolding drama at the security window, but I decided that this was something Derek would ignore and thus could be omitted from the narrative at this point.


Chapter 111, Kondor 126

I didn’t need Zeke to accept the situation fully, but simply to accept that for the moment he did not have a better explanation, and that the present task was to survive.

I don’t know whether Kondor has the equipment for a solar water collector.  He has a camp shovel, but he needs a plastic sheet and a pot.  I have been working on character sheets for my characters, so I’ll have to go through his equipment list.  The usual plastic sheet is a ground cloth, but he has a tent with a floor so he might not have one.  On the other hand, he might have a space blanket, which would also work.  He cooks, so he must have some kind of pots or pans, but they won’t be very large.  I’ll also have to consider what Zeke has in his gear, which at the moment is a roughly two hundred pound duffel of everything he takes when he moves to a new post.


Chapter 112, Slade 126

I needed to find a way to knock Slade out of the universe without giving the reader the feeling I was repeating myself.  It had not yet come to me, but then, I also had to move Derek forward to a place where he could be killed, and it wasn’t going to be on this mission.  The plan on the desert world is to bring them to a medieval Arabian city (somewhat sketched in my mind), to have Slade and Shella join Kondor and Zeke en route, and have Derek arrive just as they are approaching the walls.  So I had at least a little time for Slade while I finished with Derek and figured out how he verses, but I needed to be thinking in that direction.

I had a lot of problems with the Slade Manor idea, not the least of which was that he had a small chest of treasure and would have to expend quite a bit of it to buy the kind of mansion he wanted, even close to enemy territory, and my time to tell this story was getting shorter so I was going to have to pull him out.  So he would have parted with a lot of treasure and gotten very little in return for it, and I couldn’t justify doing that to him.

This dialogue was written over several days, as I couldn’t figure out where Slade was going.  I had thought of the part about how in the midst of a war they rarely were in any danger of being killed, but before I wrote it I played a game of solitaire and thought of the card relationship part, so I inserted that first and then turned to the surviving a war part.


Chapter 113, Brown 145

I put a lot of thought into whether Colonel Simpkins was part of the plot, but two things deterred me.  One was that it seemed unlikely that he would be included; the other was that it would mean Derek was going to die too soon, unless I could stretch this significantly.  I still am wondering whether someone should come tell him he is free to go, and then shoot him as “killed while trying to escape”, but again it will be too soon for him to arrive in the next world.

I started wondering while writing this whether to create a world for one of the characters based on the Clue® game, but then was faced with trademark issues, and wondering whether I could get around them with name changes.  I would replace one of them (either Green or White, depending on for which I could find a better replacement) with Grey, possibly replace Colonel Mustard with Captain Musgrave, maybe use Miss Lavender and Miss Rose, Professor Plumb, and the deceased host might be Mr. Soma or some other foreign name.


Chapter 114, Kondor 127

At this point I need Kondor to survive in the desert credibly; I need the reader to feel that he is doing things that are not merely striking in a random direction in the hope of finding civilization.

The use of a stick to determine which way is east by the shadow created by the path of the sun, and the solar water collector, probably both came out of a 1960s edition of the Boy Scout Fieldbook (not to be confused with the Handbook); I have never used either nor heard of anyone who did, but then, they are techniques for survival situations.  The shadow to determine latitude was my own thought, although I recognize that it is mostly about the curvature of the surface of the planet and significantly affected by the seasonal shift of the tilt.


Chapter 115, Slade 127

It was at this point that I figured out how to get Slade out of the present world, and to give myself a few chapters to accomplish it so Kondor could do a bit more of his desert survival and I could start maneuvering Derek to a departure point (which I had not yet solved).


Chapter 116, Brown 146

I had originally thought this would be two chapters, one which ended with Derek suspicious that the release might be a set-up and the other in which the Colonel came to him.  However, the first would have been too short, and once it ran the second part made no sense unless the first was a set-up.  It’s a few chapters too soon to take Derek out of this world, and I have not yet determined how I’m going to do it.

I also toyed with the idea of Derek being thanked by the Ambassador, but I realized that the situation is entirely too awkward in too many ways, and I didn’t see a way to make it work.


Chapter 117, Kondor 128

I lost part of this chapter.  I had started writing it during a storm, so I did a quick save at one point, and then I wrote more.  I had other things I should have been doing, and my time was slipping past, so I decided I would leave it and return–but when I closed the document I accidentally hit the “no” when it asked to save it, and didn’t have time to go back and try to remember what I had written.  I’m still not sure whether I had anything good that I lost.

One of the actresses who played a companion on Dr. Who once commented that there were only so many ways you could say, “What is it, Doctor?” but that this was the essence of your part:  companions exist so the Doctor can explain to someone what is happening so the audience knows.  We don’t have that problem with books, because at least for the primary characters internal perspective permits us to convey what the character is thinking and feeling, but as I started to integrate Zeke into Kondor’s life I started to feel like his role was becoming something like a Whovian companion.

I added the line about electrolytes and water soluble vitamins maybe an hour after I wrote that paragraph, when I returned to work on it more.  It seemed to me that it made him sound more like the doctor he is.

The cheese and crackers might owe something to Gumper’s Four-man Meal Packs®.  One of the lunches contains Velveeta® with some kind of cracker, although I’m only guessing that it’s saltines.  I remember that another contained Spam®, all of them contained a powdered spread that became something like jelly when mixed with water, and there was some kind of cracker which in at least one collection was Melba Toast®.  They had the virtue that in their sealed plastic bags they kept well over long trips even if the canoe swamped.


Chapter 118, Slade 128

I talked this through with Evan, because I knew exactly what was going to happen but not how to convey the story to the reader.

I had arranged for Slade to flash his chest of wealth at the mess tent, and figured more than one soldier would have seen it.  One, or maybe two, would believe that that was enough wealth to set them up for life, and then some–but they would not be so foolish as to suppose they could take Slade alone.  Thus they have the problem of deciding how many people they should trust to help them–more people increases the chance of success but decreases the size of the share.  Then they have to follow Slade and Shella out of the camp and ambush them.

The problem is that my perspective rules forbid me from giving the reader anything not known to the viewpoint character–in this case, Slade.  If it went to plan, five or six men would get around Slade and shoot him with flintlock rifles.  They would not expect trouble from Shella–she’s a woman, after all.  If they kill him by surprise, he is out of there–but the reader never knows what happened, and I’m trying to avoid the impression that it was a random death in war, so I have to let the reader know what is happening somehow.  That means a confrontation, so someone will explain something.

Obviously the ambushers are not going to initiate a confrontation; their plan depends on surprise.  That means Slade has to confront them.  However, six ordinary soldiers armed with flintlock rifles–Slade and Shella have defeated considerably more potent enemies, and indeed Slade has taken out worse than that himself, even before he faced the snake (trained armored prison guards with kinetic blasters).  Once he knows they are there, it is difficult to make his death credible, particularly if he has Shella assisting.

I kept wanting to have Slade throw the dagger, but knew that that would leave him a weapon short, so I saved it for a moment when in doing so he would be able to take the weapon from the person he killed.  I think the fight works, as Slade gets weakened a bit at a time and ultimately kills or injures all five of his attackers before falling.


Chapter 119, Brown 147

Getting Derek back to London would be quick and easy, and there would be a brief debriefing which I didn’t have to cover.  Then to get the timing right I was going to have to launch him on another mission quickly, which meant finding something different, and then kill him in the early stages.  What that is I don’t yet know.  The Why Spy game scenario recommends that referees take popular spy movies, begin with the set-up, and bring the character into it at a likely starting point.  The problem for me is coming up with a scenario that won’t be obviously plagiarized.  On the other hand, if I can find one that is dangerous enough up front I can finish it before it has moved far enough to be recognized.


Chapter 120, Kondor 129

I again marked the arrival of Bob Slade in the story of another verser, partly because I didn’t want Kondor to be surprised at his arrival but at the same time I didn’t want any confusion over why he wasn’t moving to meet whoever it was.


Chapter 121, Brown 148

I spent a few days trying to devise a new mission for Derek.  My parameters were problematic.  I wanted it to be something that made sense for him, but had a good chance of getting him killed.  The idea that Samantha would vanish looking for Dorin was not as obvious to me as it seems in the text.

I then balked at the American name.  When I give passports to player characters in this scenario, we always establish the names on them up front so that we have them, but when I did it in the book it was not at the time important.  I had tossed around a number of names in my head–John Smith, Jim Bond, Pete something–and then thought of making him John Quincy Adams, after the fourth President of the United States.  I dropped the unusual Quincy (although for a moment I considered making it Quentin to preserve the middle initial) in favor of the more common David, partly so I could make the joke about how it didn’t sound like an American name to C, who of course would think it sounded like a common British name.

I also wanted to send him in as not who he was but as someone else, and that would only work if I connected him to a different embassy.  The American embassy had advantages that he would have no trouble with the accent and I could involve the Reptile House, both because they would know him on sight (helping confirm his identity) and because they’re a good team that I rarely have used so maybe I could put them into action.


Chapter 122, Slade 129

I had long been thinking about the fact that if the soldiers killed Slade his treasure would go with him, and realized that he would find that quite funny.

I realized that the flintlock rifle would go with Slade; it was in my head several times.  This seems more like a piece of junk that encumbers him, but I’m not yet sure that Shella won’t find a use for it.


Chapter 123, Brown 149

This was an obviously great idea from the perspective that it made sense for it to happen and for Derek to be sent into it.  The down side was that that was pretty much all I had–Ambassador’s daughter left to look for her lost boyfriend who was really a spy, and did not return.  Further, I have to move it forward quickly enough to get Derek to a dangerous spot soon, but I’m not sure how.

I do have the advantage that with so many independent teams working on it at once, Derek could easily get a call that says she’s been found and then respond with the team to the location, cutting out a lot of the bothersome searching part.


Chapter 124, Kondor 130

At this point I have Slade and Kondor in the same world, and although they don’t know it the reader undoubtedly does.  That lets me return to the system by which I alternate Derek against both of them, moving his story forward more quickly than theirs.

The oscillating movement is something I worked out by thinking it through while writing it.

I also needed to make it seem as if it took Slade and Shella a while to reach Kondor, so this is sort of a waiting chapter to create that sense of waiting.


Chapter 125, Brown 150

I had forgotten when I wrote this that it was supposed to be lunch.  At first I thought no, it’s just a meeting, and the statement that he was having lunch with the Ambassador was the cover for the meeting.  Then I decided that the cover worked better if food was actually served, and Derek had just flown in from London (several hours, if memory serves) and would be hungry and thirsty.  Coming up with American food was easy.

Most of Derek’s ideas come from television shows I’ve watched, but I tried to sort them into the obvious ones and the less obvious ones.

It quite honestly had taken me so long to write this that I did not recall what kinds of “bugs” Derek had planted on Samantha, but I needed for there to be a way to get an image of Dorin so I decided I would make sure on the rewrite there was a camera and a GPS tracker in addition to an audio bug.


Chapter 126, Slade 130

I knew that Shella was going to use magic to provide food and shelter.  The connection to having learned the spells from Bethany was fairly obvious once I thought about it.

The discussion of appropriate courtesy was something I stumbled into.


This has been the sixth behind the writings look at Spy Verses.  If there is interest and continued support from readers we will continue to publish this novel and the behind the writings posts, and prepare the fifth novel to follow it.

#264: How About Danny Taylor?

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #264, on the subject of How About Danny Taylor.

Many of you are asking, how about whom?  When I mentioned, though, that Andraé Crouch was not the only artist recording an album during that concert at Carnegie Hall, well, Danny Taylor was the other.  He had already released one album, Taylor Made.

Danny Taylor and his band, Taylor Made Music, with fellow musicians Doug Mathieu and Dona Whittemore, return to the Phillips Area Community Center. They offer a lively medley of classic country and rock.

Living in northern New Jersey we thought of Danny as a local boy.  Word was he lived somewhere nearby.  I only recently learned that he had stayed at the Love Inn in Freeville, New York (previously mentioned in connection with Ted Sandquist).

The quality of that first album was not great, even by the 1972 standards.  However, Jesus People bought it because there weren’t that many Christian albums out there.  The songs on it were all right, but the only one anyone ever mentioned was the penultimate track, How About You.  Jeff Zurheide and I covered it, and we did not cover many songs.  I’m not sure what the appeal was–maybe it was the somewhat goofy opening line, “Railroad tracks are tied, how about you?” which was delivered in complete seriousness.

A colleague, a fellow college-aged musician running his own band in Bergen County, once wrote to Taylor and sent him a tape.  He got a polite reply, eventually, saying that he had to work on his lyrics.  I remember that a lot of Nick Berezanski’s lyrics (I’m not going to swear to the spelling of his name, but I will say that his band was named The Tetragrammaton Life Saving Bank with the Dust of the Earth and I Don’t Know When He’s Coming So Be Ready) were rather clever, but his guitarist admitted that Nick sometimes had trouble with them.  That, though, is kind of off-topic here.

At the radio station we had a copy of his other live album, I’m Not a One-man Show, recorded with a band in Kansas City and having much better production values across the board.  He released a few other albums, but I never heard any of them.  I’ve seen a couple of discographies of him online, both incomplete, and am unable to find a track list for either live album.

However, I clearly remember the novelty song from the later album, Snatchin’ All the Children.  In fact, twice I played at a local coffeehouse, and one of the other artists playing there the same night performed the song.  We got to talking, and he said that he’d been part of Taylor’s band for a while at one point.  I wasn’t certain whether I should be impressed–it’s that local boy thing, that I didn’t ever really think of Taylor as one of the top musicians in contemporary Christian music even though he was really rather good and one of the earliest.

He died in Nashville in 2010; his obituary mentions more about him, including that he toured with Randy Matthews and Mike Johnson for a while.

*****

The series to this point has included:

  1. #232:  Larry Norman, Visitor;
  2. #234:  Flip Sides of Ralph Carmichael;
  3. #236:  Reign of the Imperials;
  4. #238:  Love Song by Love Song.
  5. #240:  Should Have Been a Friend of Paul Clark.
  6. #242:  Disciple Andraé Crouch.
  7. #244: Missed The Archers.
  8. #246: The Secular Radio Hits.
  9. #248:  The Hawkins Family.
  10. #250:  Original Worship Leader Ted Sandquist.
  11. #252:  Petra Means Rock.
  12. #254:  Miscellaneous Early Christian Bands.
  13. #256:  Harry Thomas’ Creations Come Alive.
  14. #258:  British Invaders Malcolm and Alwyn.
  15. #260:  Lamb and Jews for Jesus.
  16. #262:  First Lady Honeytree of Jesus Music.

#263: The Ten Book Cover Challenge

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #263, on the subject of The Ten Book Cover Challenge.

As mentioned, Jeni Heneghan tagged me in a ten-bookcover challenge on Facebook.

**1**

I’m starting my list–and I know I’m not really supposeed to say anything about the books, but that seems a bit pointless to me–with one of the books I most enjoyed in recent years, Ian Harac’s Medic.

I had previously read his The Rainbow Connection, and enjoyed that thoroughly, but I think he topped that with this one.

I am also tagging Ian Harac to take up the challenge.  The deal is for ten days post the cover of a book you “love” (take that however you wish) and name someone to do the same.

My Goodreads review is here.

Interestingly, at the time I appear to have liked Rainbow Connection better, but in retrospect Medic is the one that comes to mind.

**2**

It’s a busy day, but let me not forget my obligation to Jeni Heneghan, who challenged me to post ten book covers of books liked or something in ten days, and nominate ten people to the same task.  This time I’m going for something non-fiction, The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt.

Haidt explores six facets, what I think if memory serves he calls pillars, which are the bases of our notions of “good”, and how most people in the world use all six but modern liberals use only three, and how this results in very different views of what is right.  It’s perhaps the best exploration of these ideas I have encountered.

Again, my GoodReads review is here.

And I almost forgot:  I nominate Eric Ashley.  I’ve enjoyed many of the books he sent me.

**3**

Time to post a book cover (thank you Jeni Heneghan for the invitation).  I said I would try to avoid the obvious Lewis and Tolkien titles, but this is a close friend of theirs, Charles Williams, of whose handful of wonderful books I think my favorite is still the first one I read, Descent Into Hell.

I first read this in college as a course assignment in modern fantasy/sci-fi literature, and was immediately much impressed.  It was probably two or three decades later that I found it again, along with a couple other of his titles (War in Heaven, Greater Trumps), and was not disappointed in the least.

Williams is wonderful at blurring the line between the material and the spiritual, the natural and the supernatural.  His characters interact with each other, whether alive, dead, or imaginary.  This book also gave me some very challenging concepts–such as that bearing each other’s burdens was a real active thing.

And because this book reminds me of someone else who read it in that course who also found it interesting, I’m going to tag Richard Van Norstrand to take up the challenge.  You’re not required to do so much as I do, just over the course of ten days post the covers of ten books you “love” in whatever sense, and invite someone else to do the same.  This is my third.

For what it’s worth, I’m also building a web log post from these, so once the ten have run you can expect a complete summary, largely because I hate these multiple-first-post threads when I want to know what the other posts were.

**4**

Back in the early 1970s when I was at Luther College the library had one of those books sales, clearing out old copies.  I wound up standing beside the Dean, Dr. Harm, as he examined a book clearly older than I was, and commented that it was once the classic book in apologetics.  For twenty-five cents, I figured I could afford it.

I’m about 98% certain that the cover and title page gave the name as Evidences of the Christian Religion by William Paley.  I don’t find that title on Goodreads, which apparently finds no editions more than ten years old and calls it by various names of which Evidences of Christianity is the nearest to the original.

I don’t have a review of it posted anywhere.  In fact, it was a ponderous read for a college sophomore, and when I was about three-quarters finished the aforementioned Richard Van Norstrand borrowed it and took it home, only to have his father borrow it from him, and I never saw it again.  Still, I got through the bulk of it.

This was the book in which Paley presents the teleological argument for the existence of God in its most famous form, the watch argument, that if you find a watch you deduce that there must be a watchmaker, and since the universe runs like a watch, there must be a universe maker.

I was impressed by the meticulous way in which Paley presented his argument–no leaps, no skipped steps, no assumptions that the reader will see how to get from A to D without having been told what B and C are.  Part of that no doubt is that writing in the nineteenth century (and I’ve read several other nineteenth and early twentieth century books) he did not have to compete with more concise forms of entertainment–readers expected books to be long, because otherwise they didn’t get their money’s worth.  Yet it was instructive, in that many writers, and perhaps including me, tend to make such leaps and assume the reader understands the intervening reasoning.

I keep swithering concerning who to tag next, but I think I’ll go with Nikolaj Bourguignon.  Odds are he’ll post a lot of books I can’t read (the word for someone who speaks several languages is multilingual, while one who speaks two languages is called bilingual, and one who speaks only one language is called American, and that’s pretty much me–I took French in high school, but can’t even read the French translations of my own articles at the French edition of Places to Go, People to Be).  Still, I know he’s a reader with broad interests, and that will make it interesting.

**5**

Almost forgot the book cover on this overladen day, but I’d already selected the book, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.

I read the book in high school as part of an English course in science fiction literature, and having more recently re-read it cited it as recently as a couple years ago.

My Goodreads review is here.

In short, this book is everything a great science fiction classic should be.  It tells a compelling story in a futuristic world while making a significant point about contemporary issues.  The primary issue here is censorship, government control of information, and while government control of information doesn’t seem like a significant concern our articles in recent years on freedom of speech might suggest otherwise.

I’m going to invite Rick Maus to play next, because he was in that class and as I mentioned somewhere else in my writing was a member of that Great Meditators Society decades ago (he probably doesn’t even remember it), and it might be interesting to see what books he’s been reading.  The invite is to post ten book covers in ten days (it does not require saying anything about them other than implicitly that these are books you in some sense “love”–that part is just my inability to keep silent) and nominate ten people along the way to do the same.

I’m also adding a tag to the current location of the Freedom of Expression series in which Bradbury is mentioned.

**6**

Again with acknowledgement that Jeni Heneghan invited me to participate in this, let’s do the next book cover.  I know I promised not to clutter the list with C. S. Lewis–undoubtedly my favorite author, and I could name easily a dozen from A Horse and His Boy to Perelandra to Mere Christianity to The Great Divorce, but I’m going to go with God in the Dock.

My Goodreads review is here.

The book is a collection of essays and letters previously published in many sources covering a wide variety of subjects, and arguing them intelligently.  You might not always agree with Lewis, but if you haven’t read his arguments you can’t really effectively defend your own positions.

I’ve been meaning to tag Edward Jones to invite him to play.  The game is, post ten covers over ten days of books you “love” in whatever sense you want to take that; it is not required that you say anything about them (I just do, because, well, you know me, I have to talk about stuff).  You are also supposed to invite someone else to do the same each day.  No obligation, of course, but I’m interested in what books you would pick.

(We actually have a copy of a book here that we bought for you some years back and haven’t had the chance to gift.  Maybe if it sits here a bit longer I’ll read it again.)

**7**

For today’s book cover I’m stretching the meaning of the word “love” a bit.  By stretching a bit, I mean I hate this book, and I hated it when I read it–but I think it’s an important read, partly for many of its ideas, and partly because people think it says things it doesn’t.  The book is 1984 by George Orwell.

I read his Animal Farm in high school, and found it interesting and entertaining, so when I saw this book I decided it might be more of the same.

Boy, was I mistaken.  It is a bleak story with a horrible ending.

Yet it is compelling, and the world it paints is filled with concepts that are important for us to grasp–notions like doublespeak, when the words you say don’t mean what the words mean.

However, people often think that Orwell predicted the world in which we presently live.  His vision is completely wrong on the critical points.  In the world he presents, the ruling powers control all information, rewriting the records whenever they want history to be different from what it was, and it is impossible to find anything other than the party line.  In our world, the problem is reversed–we have an information explosion, and you can find everything, every position, every opinion, expressed on the Internet, with no one in control, to the point that it is often difficult to know what information is true.  No one controls it.  So Orwell was wrong.

He still tells a compelling story, and no one should cite this book who has not read it, because it doesn’t say what many people claim it says.

I’m going to tag Donald Chroniger next:  you are invited to post ten book covers of books you “love” (however you interpret that) over the next ten days, and invite one person each day to do the same.  You are not required to say anything about the book beyond identifying it.

Have fun.

**8**

This is number eight in the book cover challenge Jeni Heneghan invited me to tackle.  I’ve gone with a book by a recently deceased friend, C. J. Henderson, my favorite of his books and the first in the Teddy London series, The Things That Are Not There.

C. J. wrote a lot of Cthulu Mythos stuff, with the blessing of the Lovecraft family, and although the monster here is called Ctala it’s the same kind of being.  Rather than coming from outer space, C. J.’s unimaginable creatures come from parallel dimensions, more credible in the modern age.

The other significant difference, as he shared in our chats at Ubercon, was that whenever his characters faced these incomprehensible evil beings, he found he could not stop them from fighting back.  London in this book is hired by a girl who thinks she is being followed by something–and then the something falls through the window, and he and the office maintenance man struggle to kill it and take it to a doctor to attempt in vain to identify it.  From that point forward they discover that they are on the front line to prevent the opening of a bridge from another dimension whose chief denizen wants to devour all of humanity.  It is a tense and exciting book throughout, and I’ve read it twice and will probably read it again one day.  I’ve read the rest of the series, and although most of them are good, this is far and away the best.

I’m going to tag Harry Lambrianou, because he’s commented on a couple of these book postings so I know he’s following the series and will know what to do.

Oddly, I have no idea what book I’m going to post tomorrow, or who I’m going to tag, so it will be a surprise for all of us.

**9**

I decided on today’s book.  The copy I happen to have is actually two books in one cover, but although I’ve read the first ten or so of the series and enjoyed them all, the first book is the one I’m tagging:  Robert Lynn Asprin’s Another Fine Myth.

It comes alone or in this two-book set, or in a five-book volume (I think).  It’s a playful bit of fantasy that tells a good story while at the same time being very tongue-in-cheek about fantasy tropes.  My Goodreads review of it is here.

Looking for someone to tag, I stumble upon Dave Mattingly, who was himself a publisher for a while and even put one of my books in print, so we’ll give him the chance to pick ten covers of books he in some sense “loves”, and name ten people to do the same.

**10**

I long debated what the final book on this list of ten should be, and settled on Paul Tillich, A History of Christian Thought:  From Its Judaic and Hellenistic Origins to Existentialism.

It’s certainly not “light reading” by any stretch of the imagination, but it is an excellent source either as a text or a reference for the development of western theology and philosophy from the second century through the Enlightenment.  It gets a bit weak after that, but still covers many of the important names.  My Goodreads review is here.

I’ve got a couple of honorable mentions to post.

First, let me apologize to my (first) cousin (once removed) T. M. Becker (Writer of Young Adult Fantasy).  Her novel Full Moon Rising was truly excellent, as my web log post #223:  In re:  Full Moon Rising asserts.  Honestly, the choice tipped on the fact that I had already posted six fiction titles and only three non-fiction, and I thought that if I couldn’t balance them at least I should get closer.

Also on the “almost made it” list is F. F. Bruce, The New Testament Documents:  Are They Reliable, a classic which more people should read which also has the virtue of being relatively short.  I chose otherwise mostly because this one is a rather limited subject–an extremely important one which he handles extremely well, but still not as valuable as a reference.

I need to tag one more person, so I’m going to choose Tsiphuneah Becker, to see what sort of books she likes.  In case you’ve not been following, you are invited, without obligation, to post covers of ten books, one a day, over the next ten days.  They should be books you in some sense “love”, and you are not obligated to say anything about them.  You also are asked to post, again one per day, names of ten people to undertake the same challenge.

*****

So that’s the conclusion of the ten-bookcover challenge.  I hope you found an interesting book in that batch.

#262: First Lady Honeytree of Jesus Music

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #262, on the subject of First Lady Honeytree of Jesus Music.

Pop music of the seventies tended to be dominated by the men, so it is not surprising that early Contemporary Christian Music was as well.  We’ve seen a couple of female vocalists in bands along the way, some of whom had solo careers as well, but the one who stands out as the female artist in the Jesus Music world of the time was known as Honeytree.

The stage name of Nancy Henigbaum is a translation of her surname, somewhat known in the classical music world as her parents were both classical musicians, her father conducting a major orchestra in South Carolina before his recent passing.  Her fans were not generally aware of her parentage, however, and heard in her sounds similar to Joni Mitchell or Carly Simon, with a strongly Christian message.  Perhaps her best-known song was Clean Before My Lord, from her 1973 self-titled debut album, but over the years there were many others that became familiar.  (Lovely Jesus) Here I Am, the bluesy and playful Rattle Me, Shake Me, and Diamond in the Rough, were all well known before I reached the radio station in 1979.

She was quiet while I was there, with no releases between 1979’s Maranatha Marathon and 1985’s Single Heart (neither of which I ever heard).  Yet somehow I heard the title song of her 1993 album Pioneer despite the fact that I had no access to current Christian music at that time.

Reportedly, Honeytree is still singing.  In the latter part of the twentieth century she became involved in ministry specifically to the needs and issues of single women, a ministry she continued even after marrying (John Richard Miller) in 1990.  Her website includes invitations to appearances and mission trips through this year.  However, 1993 is the last reported album.

*****

The series to this point has included:

  1. #232:  Larry Norman, Visitor;
  2. #234:  Flip Sides of Ralph Carmichael;
  3. #236:  Reign of the Imperials;
  4. #238:  Love Song by Love Song.
  5. #240:  Should Have Been a Friend of Paul Clark.
  6. #242:  Disciple Andraé Crouch.
  7. #244: Missed The Archers.
  8. #246: The Secular Radio Hits.
  9. #248:  The Hawkins Family.
  10. #250:  Original Worship Leader Ted Sandquist.
  11. #252:  Petra Means Rock.
  12. #254:  Miscellaneous Early Christian Bands.
  13. #256:  Harry Thomas’ Creations Come Alive.
  14. #258: British Invaders Malcolm and Alwyn.
  15. #260: Lamb and Jews for Jesus.

#261: A Small Victory for Pro-Life Advocates

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #261, on the subject of A Small Victory for Pro-Life Advocates.

The United States Supreme Court has ruled in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra 585 U. S. ____ (2018), in favor of pro-life Crisis Pregnancy Centers who, under the California Reproductive Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care, and Transparency Act (FACT Act), were required to communicate to their clients that the State of California was ready to assist them in obtaining abortions.

It should be understood up front that the Court did not actually rule that the FACT Act was unconstitutional.  That was technically not what was on appeal.  The National Institute for Family and Life Advocates, NIFLA, had raised a challenge to the law and requested an injunction preventing its enforcement while the case was being heard.  The lower courts ruled that NIFLA probably could not win and so was not entitled to an injunction; the Supreme Court granted the injunction, stating that NIFLA probably could win on the merits and so enforcement should be stayed until the case had been heard.

Justice Thomas wrote the opinion of the court, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Kennedy, Alito, and Gorsuch.  He observed that the law appeared to be targeted specifically at clinics and similar services which focused on alternatives to abortion and attempted to encourage women to give birth to their babies, often providing prenatal and post-natal care for such mothers.  Clinics run by licensed professionals or run under a state license were required to deliver a notice consisting, in English, of forty-two words (one hyphenated) plus a phone number (top notice in the picture), informing clients that the State of California was ready to help them kill their unborn babies if they so wished.  This notice had to be prominently posted in large letters within the facility, included as a full-sized document with any papers given to clients, and included in any advertising.  Further, this notice had to be delivered in every language recognized by the local county as a major spoken language within the county–at least English and Spanish, and in Los Angeles County thirteen distinct languages.

Thomas observed that this was requiring an organization whose very purpose was to reduce the number of abortions to communicate the reverse message, that abortions were readily available elsewhere.  He further observed that this was a controversial message, and that the weight of the requirement was excessive–if such a licensed organization decided to post a billboard in Los Angeles County that said “Choose Life” with a phone number, that billboard would also have to have that forty-two word notice in thirteen languages in the same sized print as the core message, overwhelming the intended message with what amounts to paid advertising for their competition.

It would be something like requiring all politicians of any party to include in their paid advertising equal space promoting each other candidate in the same race.

Facilities serving the same purpose that were not licensed or run by licensed personnel were required similarly to post a shorter notice, again in all the same ways and places, stating that California has not licensed them as medical care providers.  Again, it was to be posted prominently, included in all advertising, and given to clients in printed form.  Further, the legislation was worded such that the requirement would only apply to pro-life organizations.

So egregious was this animosity toward pro-life organizations that Justice Kennedy wrote a concurring opinion, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Alito and Gorsuch, attacking the “viewpoint bias” of the law.  The legislative history made it clear that legislators were attempting to force opponents of abortion to publish material contrary to their views.  He observed that the official history included a self-congratulatory statement that the Act was part of California’s legacy of “forward thinking”, and then wrote,

[I]t is not forward thinking to force individuals to “be an instrument for fostering public adherence to an ideological point of view [they] fin[d] unacceptable.” Wooley v. Maynard, 430 U. S. 705, 715 (1977).

That amounts to religious/political discrimination, and again a violation of the First Amendment.

*****

Writing the dissent, and joined by Justices Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan, Justice Breyer makes several significant points.

The fact is we regularly require organizations to post informational signs at least obliquely relevant to their purpose.  One example leaps to mind.  A few years back New Jersey had a problem, that several newborn babies were rescued from public trash cans because young parents did want them and could not care for them.  Today, all emergency rooms and many other care clinics have signs on the walls informing anyone who enters the building that there are safe drop points where you can abandon a child no questions asked.  Obviously that notice is irrelevant to the majority of clients in those facilities; just as obviously such locations are good choices for reaching persons who need that information.  We might debate whether such a program fosters teen-aged irresponsibility (a mother who would never dream of putting her baby in a trash bin might abandon it at a safe drop point if made aware of such, and so free herself of the task of caring for the child), but creating and promoting the option saves lives.  Other notifications are posted; the lawfully-required notices on tobacco products and in tobacco ads are clearly counter to the interests of tobacco companies.

However, Breyer attempts to sweep away the aspect that these laws were carefully tailored to target pro-life organizations.  He tells us that organizations that are not pro-life don’t need to be required to tell women about the availability of abortions, as they are probably already doing so.  That’s hardly a sufficient basis for a distinction regarding compelled speech.

For the moment, all that NIFLA has won is a delay, that the law cannot be enforced until the case has been heard.  However, the majority opinion and the significant concurrence are filled with good reasons for the law to be overturned, and as the case returns to the lower courts NIFLA has a good chance winning, probably without another Supreme Court intervention.

#260: Lamb and Jews for Jesus

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #260, on the subject of Lamb and Jews for Jesus.

I had heard of Lamb long before I heard them.  I think I even knew that their names were Joel and Rick, and I knew that Rick was a goy and Joel was Jewish.  They were a tip of an iceberg floating in the sea of the Jesus movement, of which Moishe Rosen’s organization Jews for Jesus was the other visible tip:  Jews embracing Jesus as Messiah.  I knew they were out there, they were happening, they were said to be good.

It wasn’t until their sixth album, in their eighth year, that I heard them.  That 1981 album New Mix was a bit different, and particularly different was the hit song Jonah.  Guitarist Rick “Levi” Coghill achieved the vocal effect with something called a “voice tube”, then a relatively new gadget that enabled the guitarist to control the “packaging” of the guitar output by singing into the device, combining voice packaging with guitar pitch.  Vocalist Joel Chernoff captured the drama of the song quite well.  The rest of their music has a very Jewish folk feel–well done and beautiful, and they were on the charts before and after I was involved in radio.  Sing Hallelujah, from their earlier Songs for the Flock LP, is perhaps more typical of their sound..

It is perhaps peculiar that Jonah is the only song of theirs that I remember, but it was quite a memorable song.  I saw them perform it live, and they managed to capture most of the flavor of the song with just the two of them on stage.

I caught up with Rick after that concert.  He was engaged in a discussion with a fan who was very disappointed that the band didn’t have an “altar call” and invite the unsaved to pray for salvation.  His answer was quite interesting.  He said that no one gets to a Lamb concert who doesn’t already at least know what they have to do to be saved.  They might not have decided to do it, but they don’t really need to be told or walked through it.  It seemed to me he was right.  After all, the concert, like probably ninety-five percent of the Christian concerts I attended, was in a church (and another 1% were at specifically Christian events like Creation).  By 1981 there weren’t many people who might have attended such a concert who were not Christian and hadn’t heard the gospel.  Rick and Joel weren’t so much there for the few unbelievers who might have been in the audience, but for the believers who filled the hall.  It showed a keen understanding of the purpose of their ministry.

Online discographies report that the final album was released in 1990, after which there was a compilation CD of their earliest work in 1993.  Joel’s Lamb website reports that he continued to perform and record, and in 2005 released an album with another guitarist replacing Rick.  I find nothing more recent but a Facebook fan page, which is not currently very active.  Still, 1973 to 2005 is a respectable thirty-two year run, and the band more than anyone else defined Messianic music.

Jews for Jesus is still alive and well, and will gladly come to your church to present the Jewish roots of Christian faith and practice, including images of Christ in the Passover.

*****

The series to this point has included:

  1. #232:  Larry Norman, Visitor;
  2. #234:  Flip Sides of Ralph Carmichael;
  3. #236:  Reign of the Imperials;
  4. #238:  Love Song by Love Song.
  5. #240:  Should Have Been a Friend of Paul Clark.
  6. #242:  Disciple Andraé Crouch.
  7. #244: Missed The Archers.
  8. #246: The Secular Radio Hits.
  9. #248:  The Hawkins Family.
  10. #250:  Original Worship Leader Ted Sandquist.
  11. #252:  Petra Means Rock.
  12. #254:  Miscellaneous Early Christian Bands.
  13. #256:  Harry Thomas’ Creations Come Alive.
  14. #258: British Invaders Malcolm and Alwyn.

#259: Saying No to Public Employee Union Agency Fees

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #259, on the subject of Saying No to Public Employee Union Agency Fees.

Four decades ago the Supreme Court handed down a decision in a case entitled Abood v. Detroit Bd. of Ed., 431 U. S. 209 (1977).  In it the Court ruled that it was not a violation of constitutional rights for unions representing public employees to charge what was called an “agency fee” to all public employees who were not members of the authorized public employees’ union.  Since the law required that the union represent such non-members equally with members (that is, same pay, benefits, and protections), the rule was intended to prevent “free riders” who got the benefits of union representation, union pay and benefits, without paying for it.

This year, in Mark Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 31, et al., 585 U. S. ____ (2018) they announced that they were wrong, and overturned the precedent.

This is not entirely unknown, but it is rare.  The Court has a rule it calls a doctrine and names stare decisis, which in essence means the decision stands.  It happens sometimes, but usually the Court puts a lot of work into making it possible for any previous decision to still be enforceable in narrower circumstances and new rules to apply to most cases.  That did not happen this time.  Janus overturned Aboud.  According to the Court, requiring persons who do not agree with union policies to pay to support the union is a First Amendment violation, because it compels such persons to support speech with which they disagree.

To begin to understand this, we need to recall that money is fungible–something we discussed in our second web log entry nearly five years ago, and which the majority opinion mentions.  To recall the example, if I have a dollar and I’m going to go to the corner store to buy candy and comic books, it’s likely that I’ll wind up with fifty cents’ worth of each.  If, though, my mother gives me another dollar, and tells me that I am not to spend any of the money she gives me on candy, I will spend her dollar on comic books and my dollar on candy, and now I have twice as much candy because she paid for the comic books enabling me to rebudget my own funds to cover more candy.  In much the same way, the money given by non-members to cover the “costs of negotiating”, even if our bookkeeper tells us that all of it went to that purpose, probably frees funds to go for other purposes we might not approve.

Abood was not so naive as that.  It required unions to do an accounting, separating “chargeable” from “non-chargeable” costs, and bill non-members only for their share of the “chargeable” costs.  Political spending was to be “non-chargeable” and anything that was part of enabling the union to negotiate was “chargeable”.  In practice, however, “non-chargeable” had come to mean contributions to political candidates, and anything else was lumped into “chargeable”.  In the present case, the union billed non-members for costs ranging from lobbying for legislation to paying for the member convention (which presumably non-members did not attend).  Non-members were entitled to sue if they believed something non-chargeable had been included, but the summaries provided by the unions were so lacking in detail that it would require thousands of dollars in attorney and accountant fees just to determine what was and was not charged.

More fundamentally, though, Janus argued that the very act of negotiating with the government for pay and benefits is itself a fundamentally political action and thus a form of political speech.  Janus says that he is not of the opinion that the State of Illinois where he works should raise salaries for unionized public employees; the state has the lowest credit rating of any state in history because of its overspending and indebtedness.  Janus opposes the union’s argument that the state needs to raise taxes to increase salaries and benefits for state workers.  He thus highlights the fact that asking for money from the state is fundamentally political speech, and being required to subsidize the bargaining process makes him party to that speech against his will.

The Court agreed.

For what it’s worth, almost immediately upon the release of the opinion, many liberal lobbying groups sent emergency funding requests to supporters, claiming that they will have to make up for the shortfall they expect to incur since public sector unions will have less money to give them–this according to the New York Times (as cited by Investors.com).  It is of course possible that these groups are lying to their supporters, that in fact the unions have not been misusing non-member money to support political causes and there will be no reduction in such support, but the fear of it makes a good campaign motivator to bring in more.  Preferring to think better of them, we are forced to face the possibility that indeed the union has been using non-member agency fee money to support political causes and lying about it in their accounting (or perhaps believing that they have very little chance of being taken to court over it and at least a fair chance of winning the case if they are).  So one way or another, the liberals appear in a bad light:  either they have been lying about the inappropriate use of non-member money to support political objectives, or they are lying now about anticipating a reduction in the money available for such objectives.

Or perhaps they’re expecting to lose revenue due to a mass exodus of union members.  Why, though, would that be?  If people believe in the union, would they not want to support the union and be part of the union process?  Or is it the case that vast numbers of public employee union members feel coerced into membership because it has cost nearly as much not to belong as it did to belong?

Or maybe they’re just confused.

It has also been reported that a Democratic New York State Senator is proposing legislation to end-run this by permitting the public employee unions to include in negotiations payment from the state to cover the costs of representing non-members.  Seriously, if it is an impingement on free speech to require non-member public employees to pay costs of the union which benefits them in negotiations, it must be far more so to require it of taxpayers whose only connection to this is that they have to pay the amount given to the union.  They seem confused to me.

Justice Kagan’s dissent culminates in an insistence that Abood should stand primarily because of stare decisis, and because of the extensive reliance on the decision.  She notes that at least twenty-two states are going to have to legislate new laws regarding their public service unions, and thousands of contracts relying on agency fees will have to be renegotiated.

Before she reaches that point, she in essence reargues Abood, asserting that it is good law well founded and that the majority overturned it merely because the majority didn’t like it.

The fundamental point of Abood was always that it is to the benefit of the government’s ability to manage its employees to have them represented by exclusive negotiators, unions, which are well-funded and independent of government.  Agency fees were considered a reasonable way to achieve that.  She further argues that (application aside) the Abood distinction between political spending and costs of bargaining and contract management is a clear one.  She objects outright to the notion that the question of whether governments should give their public employees more in salary and benefits is a political one within the context of the employer-employee relationship, because it is essential to that relationship.  She further forecasts a gloomy future in which the number of “free riders” increases as union members recognize how much they can save by leaving the union coupled with the fact that the union must continue to represent them equally whether they are members or not.

Wait a minute.  Did I already say that?

It is not at all clear that unions will be unable to function without the agency fee support.  It is certainly the case that unions have abused the “chargeable/non-chargeable” distinction of Abood (is it really credible that three quarters of the cost of union membership goes exclusively to union contract negotiation and administration costs?).  It is also the case that public sector unions appear to operate successfully in states which do not permit agency fees.

I am not persuaded that this will cause all the chaos predicted.  It does not change the exclusive negotiator rule, that is, if you are not a union member but are in a public employee union shop the union is still your exclusive representative for negotiations.  Nor will it completely eliminate union membership, since one must be a union member to have any impact on policy.  It will weaken unions some; they will have less money to spend on their political pursuits.  However, there is a serious issue concerning whether public employee unions ought to be involved in political pursuits at all, and if we believe that the unions as a whole have a right to speak on issues of public concern, we must also believe that public employees individually have the right not to support those entities with which they disagree.

#258: British Invaders Malcolm and Alwyn

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #258, on the subject of British Invaders Malcolm and Alwyn.

It was again the early 1970s; I had a pirated tape of their debut album Fool’s Wisdom.  I’m not really certain what to say about them–call it mixed feelings.

They were a short-lived band, producing only the two albums, the second called Wildwall.  I’m sure I heard the second (I know I saw it), but I don’t recall anything from it.  On the other hand, despite the fact that I must have listened to the first for several years (until my tape recorders died), I remember only two songs from it, although obviously listening to it now I recognize the rest.  I think of them as good songs, and I’ll get to them in a moment.

From the beginning, Malcolm Wild and Alwyn Wall struck me as the Simon & Garfunkel of Christian music, what was then called Jesus Music, but that they were a British duo.  I thought they were very good, and they were certainly enjoyable.  I did not know at the time that they had come to America and were friends with Larry Norman, but he wrote a song about them entitled Dear Malcolm, Dear Alwyn.

The title song of the first album, second track Fool’s Wisdom, was all the rage in my first college.  I was certainly not the only person who learned how to play it and could perform it, and indeed I performed it at my most recent concert, although I had not done so for decades, just because I’d promised to do some covers and it was a good one that I knew.  One thing about Luther College is that there were a lot of singers there and not a few instrumentalists, and it was not at all uncommon for someone to start playing a familiar song and everyone to improvise harmonies.  This song lent itself to that, and I’ll confess to having thrown in a few more modern sounds to the chorus than the original sported.  It was well-loved because of that.

I played another song from that album, though, one called Growing Old, fourth track.  I liked it when I heard it, and I learned it (it was simple, really).  I never played it in concert and never played it with anyone else, but every once in a while would play it just for myself.  Then after my father died, I happened to try to play it–months later, no connection to his death–and almost didn’t get through it.  When I put together the program for my next concert, I included it.  It was the only song that got specific mention from audience members after a two-hour concert.

I’m sure there were other good songs, and that I just don’t remember them.  They released the first two albums in 1973 and 1974, then broke up, but reunited to do a live album in ’81.  Both did solo albums, and both are now pastors.

*****

The series to this point has included:

  1. #232:  Larry Norman, Visitor;
  2. #234:  Flip Sides of Ralph Carmichael;
  3. #236:  Reign of the Imperials;
  4. #238:  Love Song by Love Song.
  5. #240:  Should Have Been a Friend of Paul Clark.
  6. #242:  Disciple Andraé Crouch.
  7. #244: Missed The Archers.
  8. #246: The Secular Radio Hits.
  9. #248:  The Hawkins Family.
  10. #250:  Original Worship Leader Ted Sandquist.
  11. #252:  Petra Means Rock.
  12. #254:  Miscellaneous Early Christian Bands.
  13. #256:  Harry Thomas’ Creations Come Alive.