Category Archives: Bible and Theology

#326: The Song “Mountain, Mountain”

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #326, on the subject of The Song “Mountain, Mountain”.

I ranked this number 15 as far as best songs go, and number 16 on quality of recording and performance, and wonder that I placed it so low, but there were a lot of good songs from which to choose; Tristan, who has learned to play this one of all my songs, had it tied at number 1, which brought it to number 8 on our combined list.  (The ranking system is explained in connection with previous web log song posts, linked below.)    The recording is here.  That’s a WAV file, so it’s rather larger than the mp3s I usually post.

Mountain, Mountain.

It is hard to know where to begin, but I suppose it has to begin with Barry McGuire.  If anyone out there knows him, please tell him that the song I wrote about him is here, and I would love for him finally to hear it.  I wrote about Barry in my history of Christian contemporary and rock music series in #266:  Minstrel Barry McGuire, where I mentioned the advice he gave me reported, after a fashion, in post #163:  So You Want to Be a Christian Musician.  He is also mentioned in some detail in #268:  Voice of the Second Chapter of Acts and #272:  To the Bride Live, and he will be mentioned again.  Yet it is that first concert, the first time we met, that matters here.

After the concert I joined the throngs crowding around Barry, who had come down from the stage into the audience area to interact.  Barry was then probably the biggest name in contemporary Christian music, but apart from that he is a large and imposing presence both for his size and for his character.  I asked the question I had asked many others, about what someone should do who wanted a career in Christian contemporary music, and he took several minutes to address it.

I returned to my dorm from the concert and immediately wrote this song.  The first verse, the verse about the mountain, was about Barry.  From there I looked for, and found, three other nature images which conveyed something people desire.

I took my guitar to a common area where there would be more students, and played it for several.  I remember Angelic Andy (and I wish I remembered his name, although I have many memories of him otherwise including his parka which matched mine) heard it, and asked me to play the verse about the sun again.  I have found this to be true of the song, that those who like it generally have a favorite verse (mine will always be the mountain) which touches some part of themselves.  My son Tristan insists that the second and third verses should be switched, because the river is connected to the mountain, but I keep them as they are because glory is connected to greatness.

I have met Barry twice since then, as I elsewhere have mentioned.

I opened for him at the Gordon College March Thaw, which I think must have been 1977.  That was something of a fiasco.  Jeff Zurheide and I and a drummer named Ken Spear (or Speer?) were supposed to play backup for Reverend Harold Bussell, former RCA piano recording artist and then our Dean of Christian Life.  Someone had claimed there was a piano in the banquet hall, but when we got there it was a disaster, and although I rushed back to the school to borrow an electronic piano from a friend, Harold wouldn’t perform on an instrument he’d never played.  That left the three of us, and Barry had specified that there shouldn’t be a male vocal band before him so we were faking instrumentals–me on keys, Jeff on guitar, with Ken on drums.  We also discovered about the same time that the school’s portable public address (P.A.) system had been burned out by some previous user, and was not available, so at that point I had to cobble together a makeshift P.A. from a couple of instrument amplifiers and my microphones.  When Barry took the stage he made a joke about how one day he was going to come into a place that had a tin can on a mike stand with strings running to cans on all the tables.  I confess the joke stung, because all things considered it was a decent bit of rigging to get a sound system up and running for him and no one ever thanked me, that I recall.  After the show I caught up with him, guitar in hand, but he asked that I just give him a chance to get out and get some sleep.  This was the second time I had seen him in a year; I figured I would see him again.

It was most of a decade before that happened.  In the early 80s when I was a disk jockey on contemporary Christian radio station WNNN-FM he was playing a concert hosted by one of our bigger supporters, and at the last minute someone arranged an interview with me on the air.  I don’t remember a lot of that interview, but after it I put on something that would play for a few minutes and walked him to his car.  I didn’t have a guitar, and it didn’t occur to me to sing the thing a capella, and shame on me for that.  I have not seen him since.

We performed this with Cardiac Output, and so there is already a page of lyrics for it here.  Perhaps the reason this is low on my performance list is because of that–in Cardiac Output I sang the first verse, Lori sang the second, we did the third in a sort of Simon & Garfunkle duet in which we kept passing the melody back and forth, and the fourth verse was done as a trio reminiscent of Peter, Paul, and Mary.  I didn’t have the sheet music for those, didn’t take the time to recreate them, and wasn’t sure I could make the soprano sound good if I tried, so this recording does not have the vocals which I really did like.

So here are the words:

Mountain, mountain, great and tall,
Can you teach me anything at all?
I see your greatness, your majesty;
How can greatness grow in me?
The mountain answered, calm and sure,
“What do you want greatness for?
Be humble, serve in love, and wait.
Only God can make one great.”

Sun, oh sun, up in the sky,
All men see you–tell me why
And how such glory here may shine,
So I can make such glory mine.
I got this answer from the sun:
“Do not be foolish, little one.
I am what I was made to be,
And so God’s glory shines in me.”

River, now to you I turn.
Have you some secret I can learn?
You move mountains ev’ry hour;
How can I control such power?
The answer came to me with force:
“The power is from God, of course.
I do whatever He may ask;
He gives me strength to meet the task.

Ocean, ocean, deep and wide,
I’m asking you to be my guide.
In fullness none may challenge you.
I’d like to know such fullness, too.
The ocean roared–I heard him laugh–
“My fullness you would like to have?
Become, then, empty of all else,
And let God fill you with Himself.”

I can only hope you benefit from the song in some way.  I will continue with additional songs in the future.

*****

Previous web log song posts:

#301:  The Song “Holocaust” | #307:  The Song “Time Bomb” | #311:  The Song “Passing Through the Portal” | #314:  The Song “Walkin’ In the Woods” | #317:  The Song “That’s When I’ll Believe” | #320:  The Song “Free” | #322:  The Song “Voices”

#325: The 2019 Recap

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #325, on the subject of The 2019 Recap.

Happy New Year to you.  A year ago I continued the tradition of recapitulating in the most sketchy of fashions everything I had published over the previous year, in mark Joseph “young” web log post #278:  The 2018 Recap.  I am back to continue that tradition, as briefly as reasonable, so that if you missed something you can find it, or if you vaguely remember something you want to read again you can hunt it down.  Some of that brevity will be achieved by referencing index pages, other collections of links to articles and installments.

For example, that day also saw the publication of the first Faith in Play article of the year, but all twelve of those plus the dozen RPG-ology series articles are listed, described, and linked in 2019 at the Christian Gamers Guild Reviewed, published yesterday.  There’s some good game stuff there in addition to some good Bible stuff, including links to some articles by other talented gaming writers, and a couple contributions involving me one way or another that were not parts of either series.  Also CGG-related, I finished the Bible study on Revelation and began John in January; we’re still working through John, but thanks to a late-in-the-year problem with Yahoo!Groups that had been hosting us we had to move everything to Groups.IO, and I haven’t managed to fix all the important links yet.

At that point we were also about a quarter of the way through the novel Garden of Versers as we posted a Robert Slade chapter that same day, but that entire novel is indexed there, along with links to the web log posts giving background on the writing process.  In October we launched the sixth novel, Versers Versus Versers, which is heating up in three chapters a week, again indexed along with behind-the-writings posts there, and it will continue in the new year.  There are also links to the support pages, character sheets for the major protagonists and a few antagonists in the stories.  Also related to the novels, in October I invited reader input on which characters should be the focus of the seventh, in #318:  Toward a Seventh Multiverser Novel.

I wrote a few book reviews at Goodreads, which you can find there if you’re interested.  More of my earlier articles were translated for publication at the Places to Go, People to Be French edition.

So let’s turn to the web log posts.

The first one after the recap of the previous year was an answer to a personal question asked impersonally on a public forum:  how did I know I was called to writing and composing?  The answer is found in web log post #279:  My Journey to Becoming a Writer.

I had already begun a miniseries on the Christian contemporary and rock music of the seventies and early eighties–the time when I was working at the radio station and what I remembered from before that.  That series continued (and hopefully will continue this year) with:

Although I didn’t realize it at the time, it is evident that the music dominated the web log this year.  In May I was invited to a sort of conference/convention in Nashville, which I attended and from which I benefited significantly.  I wrote about that in web log post #297:  An Objective Look at The Extreme Tour Objective Session.  While there I talked to several persons in the Christian music industry, and one of them advised me to found my own publishing company and publish my songs.  After considerable consideration I recognized that I have no skills for business, but I could put the songs out there, and so I began with a sort of song-of-the-month miniseries, the first seven songs posted this year:

  1. #301:  The Song “Holocaust”
  2. #307:  The Song “Time Bomb”
  3. #311:  The Song “Passing Through the Portal”
  4. #314:  The Song “Walkin’ In the Woods”
  5. #317:  The Song “That’s When I’ll Believe”
  6. #320:  The Song “Free”
  7. #322:  The Song “Voices”

I admit that I have to some degree soured on law and politics.  Polarization has gotten so bad that moderates are regarded enemies by the extremists on both sides.  However, I tackled a few Supreme Court cases, some issues in taxes including tariffs, a couple election articles, and a couple of recurring issues:

I was hospitalized more than once this year, but the big one was right near the beginning when the emergency room informed me that that pain was a myocardial infarction–in the vernacular, a heart attack.  Many of you supported me in many ways, and so I offered web log post #285:  An Expression of Gratitude.

Most of the game-related material went to the RPG-ology series mentioned at the beginning of this article, and you should visit that index for those.  I did include one role playing game article here as web log post #303:  A Nightmare Game World, a very strange scenario from a dream.

Finally, I did eventually post some time travel analyses, two movies available on Netflix.  The first was a kind of offbeat not quite a love story, Temporal Anomalies in Popular Time Travel Movies unravels When We First Met; the second a Spike Lee film focused on trying to fix the past, Temporal Anomalies in Time Travel Movies unravels See You Yesterday.  For those wondering, I have not yet figured out how I can get access to the new Marvel movie Endgame, as it appears it will not be airing on Netflix and I do not expect to spring for a Disney subscription despite its appeal, at least, not unless the Patreon account grows significantly.

So that’s pretty much what I wrote this year, not counting the fact that I’m working on the second edition of Multiverser, looking for a publisher for a book entitled Why I Believe, and continuing to produce the material to continue the ongoing series into the new year.  We’ll do this again in a dozen months.

#324: CCM Ladies of the Eighties

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #324, on the subject of CCM Ladies of the Eighties.

The number of people in Contemporary Christian and Christian Rock music back in the early eighties didn’t seem all that large, but as I’ve been working through those I remember I perceive that it will take a long time to get through even all those I think worth mentioning.  Thus I decided to do some conglomerate entries, naming and briefly recalling many who probably deserve more attention than I am offering but not from me.  There are a lot, and this article will be substantial because of that, but we’ll break them up, ladies first.

Melissa Manchester, 1975

We featured Evie Tornquist Karlsson when we wrote about Ralph Carmichael, as her version of Pass It On (linked there) probably made the Kurt Kaiser song famous.  Evie is one of several female vocalists whose career began when she was single who then married, kept the maiden name in the middle and added the married name.  Her first album, Everything Is Beautiful, had its US release in 1971 when she was fourteen years old, then was released in Norway two years later; she had four releases in 2007, but they appear to be compilations released in Norway.  She did mostly middle-of-the-road covers of contemporary hits from many artists, but also had a substantial Norwegian career.  Her husband was a Norwegian singer-songwriter.  I remember her for Give them All; my wife won’t take me to the local shopping center for fear I might break out singing Give the mall to Jesus.

Sandi Patty, sometimes Sandy, sometimes Patti, is another contemporary MOR vocalist who did mostly covers, but did them well.  I once characterized her as the Linda Rondstadt of Christian music–great range, fabulous voice with soaring highs, could have sung opera or pretty much anything she wanted.  This early live rendition of How Majestic Is Your Name demonstrates some of her talent.

Twila Paris came from one of those family gospel singing groups, and recorded her first album, Little Twila Paris, in 1965 when she was about seven years old.  She did not record another one until 1980.  She received numerous awards over the course of her career, but I confess I know her name but do not remember a single album or song.

Lilly Green was a singer-songwriter whose third and final album, I Am Blessed, was the only one I ever heard–but the fourth song, Crucify Him (this video has a bit of dead air at the beginning) quickly became a favorite.

Micki Fuhrman‘s third and final album, Look Again, came out in 1981, and I found a favorite song on it as well–so much so that decades later when I saw a cassette copy of the album I bought it to listen in my car.  The song is entitled I Stick With Winners, and is a clever take on why faithfulness.  There were several other good songs on that disc, but I’ve got a lot of girls to cover here.

Looking over Cynthia Clawson‘s discography I recognize nothing but one song, on an album I never saw–but I know it was released to radio stations as a single, under the title Take Us Home for Christmas, and it’s a wonderful Christmas song which at the time was something new and different.  I remember it decades later as one of those new Christmas songs that were worth the vinyl.

On that same subject, Pamela Deuel Hart made Always Christmas the title song of what appears to be her debut album, an otherwise undistinguished collection of familiar Christmas music.  Regrettably, this song, which recalls a notion from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, that it was always winter but never Christmas until He turned her life around so it is always Christmas and never winter, does not appear on a web search for videos.  She released several more albums, but I never heard any of them.

Kelly Willard was one of those artists whose name came into my head but to whom I could make no connection–until I looked up her discography and immediately recognized the title song of her debut album, Blame It On the One I Love, a light jazz-influenced contemporary hit.  Kelly is also known for a duet she did with the previously-covered Paul Clark, Woman…The Man That I Love.

Karen Lafferty released a few albums through Maranatha Music, but her best known song is not on any of them.  Rather, Seek Ye First appears in several multi-artist collections focused on worship music.  I remember it well, because it was used by one of our local ministries as the opening theme of their radio show.  It was one of the first popular songs in the worship music genre, at a time when evangelistic songs were still preferred but slowly fading and a lot of Christian music was moving toward exhortation.

Jamie Owens released two albums under her maiden name, Laughter In Your Soul and Growing Pains.  The latter included the song The Victor, which Keith Green heard and recorded, pushing Jamie to success in the field as the song was picked up by The Second Chapter of Acts and became a standard.  Then she married her producer Dan Collins as they were working on her album Love Eyes.  It, and all her subsequent albums, was released under her name Jamie Owens Collins.  During that time, she managed to write the song Daniel which appears on the album, and to produce it herself without his knowledge, and then arrange for the recording to be played when she walked down the aisle at their wedding.  Unfortunately, no video version of the song was found online.

There were a few albums in our radio collection by Janny Grein, and I recognize the covers for Free Indeed, Covenant Woman, He Made Me Worthy, and Think On These Things–what I don’t recognize is any of the song titles, but I do recognize that she was a Christian folk artist with a long career.

I remember Kathy Troccoli every time I hear another New York-style huge voice alto (think Bette Midler).  The chorus of the title song of her debut album Stubborn Love has stayed with me all these decades, with its lush broadway-style production and her powerful voice coupled with the uplifting message–if you’re not listening to all the linked songs in this article, you probably do want to listen to this one.

Every time I hear the name of Casting Crowns lead vocalist Mark Hall, I wonder if he’s possibly the son of a girl for whom we had two albums.  The first must have been Flying, because it’s the only album listed under her maiden name, Pam Mark, but by the time she released her second album, This Is Not a Dream, she was Pam Mark Hall.  I don’t remember any titles from either of those albums, but her album Never Fades Away has a familiar look and sound, with several familiar song titles on it.  These include Little Miss Much Afraid (with what sounds like Fireworks‘ Marty McCall supporting vocals), Lord of the Starfields, and others not available on video.

I recognize enough Reba Rambo album covers that we must have had a stack of them at the station, including her first, the 1969 release Reality, although I recall no titles from that.  She was more of a contemporary southern gospel artist, but borderline.  I remember the standard He Looked Beyond My Fault (And Saw My Need) from 1971’s Songs My Mother Taught Me, The Land of Oohs and Ahs/Somewhere Over the Rainbow and the title song from from 1977’s Lady, and a couple songs from The Lady Is a Child.  A few of the intervening albums don’t look familiar, but I remember the album Dreamin’.  It appears that her last release was 1982’s Lady Live.  In 1980 she married Dony McGuire, and they released several albums as a duo through 1987.

In creating this list I remembered the name of rocker Leslie Phillips, who later recorded as Sam Phillips and Sam Burnett.  Her album Beyond Saturday Night in 1983 pushed the envelope a bit for solo female CCM vocalists, as demonstrated by Put Your Heart In Me, and I vaguely remember the 1984 album, title song Dancing With Danger.

I’m adding one more artist to this list.  We never played anything, nor indeed had anything, of hers at the radio station, and I can’t vouch for her faith (which she cryptically attributed to the influence of, of all people, Paul Simon).  She was a member of Bette Midler’s backup band The Harlettes before launching her solo career, but Melissa Manchester recorded one song on her 1974 Bright Eyes album that was an expression of faith that most Christians never heard.  Oh Heaven (How You’ve Changed Me) (a slightly different arrangement from the album version, but well done live).  Although when I arranged it for my friend Sue Adams Kirkegard (RIP) I changed the words to the last line of the last verse (to “You’ve got to ask Him in yourself”), it’s still a great song that should be remembered.

That’s not all the girls–we already did articles on Honeytree, Amy Grant, quite a few ladies who were part of larger bands but had separate careers (Sandra Crouch, Tremaine Hawkins, the girls of 2nd Chapter of Acts), and we’ve got at least one more still on the list.  These, though, manage to cover a lot of those who deserve to be included but for whom I would be hard-pressed to remember enough to support a separate article.

I’ve got one for the boys coming up.

*****

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.
  18. #266:  Minstrel Barry McGuire.
  19. #268:  Voice of the Second Chapter of Acts.
  20. #272:  To the Bride Live.
  21. #276:  Best Guitarist Phil Keaggy.
  22. #281:  Keith Green Launching.
  23. #283:  Keith Green Crashing.
  24. #286:  Blind Seer Ken Medema.
  25. #288:  Prophets Daniel Amos.
  26. #290:  James the Other Ward.
  27. #292:  Rising Resurrection Band.
  28. #294:  Servant’s Waters.
  29. #296:  Found Free Lost.
  30. #299:  Praise for Dallas Holm.
  31. #302:  Might Be Truth and the Cleverly-named Re’Generation.
  32. #304:  Accidental Amy Grant.
  33. #312:  Produced by Christian and Bannister.
  34. #315:  Don Francisco Alive.

#320: The Song “Free”

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #320, on the subject of The Song “Free”.

For those at The Objective Session for The Extreme Tour this year, this is the song of which I sang the first verse and chorus at the composition seminar that gleaned such a positive response.  The entire song is here.

I ranked this number 6 as far as best songs go, and number 3 on quality of recording and performance, but Tristan did not include it in his list at all, which dropped it down to number 6 on our combined list.  Still, it is one of our top choices, and particularly when I am going solo, since if you hadn’t noticed three of the previous four songs require multiple vocals to work at all.  (The ranking system is explained in connection with previous web log song posts, linked below.)

Free.

This was also far and away the most difficult song Collision recorded or performed, and in every way.

When we performed it on stage, I always arranged the program such that after this song I would have a moment to catch my breath, as I was always winded after playing bass and singing.  The transition to the bridge isn’t so bad when singing and playing guitar, because they are in sync; but the bass part requires playing three eighth notes into the bridge while the vocal is a quarter note, and hitting both of them was always a challenge.  In the studio–this recording is from the Collision EP Of Worlds–we didn’t get past the second verse on the first take, and it was probably my fault, but to solve it I decided that we would lay the instrumental tracks first and I would go back to add the vocals, the only song we recorded that way.  So unaccustomed was I to singing without playing an instrument that at one point, again probably going into the bridge, I swung my hand wide with my eyes closed and almost knocked over my bass guitar.  So it was tough for me.

I know it was tough for Kyle getting the fast changes on the guitar, but he managed it.  I wrote some very complicated piano parts for Jonathan, and he didn’t play them exactly as writ but he got the feel of it beautifully.  I’m sure, though, that he never took his eyes off the keys, because it was a very demanding part.

As to Nick on drums, well, he always made everything look easy, and he managed the changes between three-four and four-four brilliantly, but a couple years later when Nick left and we were auditioning another drummer, the new guy listened to this recording and said, “Of course, you double-tracked those drums.”  I’m not a drummer, but I confess being very surprised and told him no, Nick played that on one take.

Because the song was recorded by Collision there is already a page on the Web which discuss it, here, including the story of its origin.

Free!
Jesus came and Jesus made me Free!
Jesus came and gave His life to me.

I live a life that pleases my Father up above
I try to live a life of love.
I listen for His Spirit; He speaks and I obey.
I know there is no other way!

Free!
Jesus came and Jesus made me Free!
Jesus came and gave his life to me.

He filled me with His Spirit to fill me with His Word,
The greatest thing I ever heard.
And I can see a promise in each divine command,
For this is what He says I am!

Free!
Jesus came and Jesus made me Free!
Jesus came and gave his life to Me!

What’s written in God’s Word–
I know it may sound quite absurd, but
God is going to do that in my life!
I know it may sound odd,
But it’s already done by God
He did it when He gave me Jesus Christ.

Now I don’t have to worry; it won’t depend on me.
My Lord has won the victory
And so I take each promise, believing what He said,
For He has raised me from the dead!

Free!
Jesus came and Jesus made me Free!
Jesus came and gave his life to Me!
Jesus came and Jesus made me Free!
Jesus came and gave his life to Me!

I can only hope you benefit from the song in some way.  I will continue with additional songs in the future.

*****

Previous web log song posts:

#301:  The Song “Holocaust” | #307:  The Song “Time Bomb” | #311:  The Song “Passing Through the Portal” | #314:  The Song “Walkin’ In the Woods” | #317:  The Song “That’s When I’ll Believe”

#317: The Song “That’s When I’ll Believe”

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #317, on the subject of The Song “That’s When I’ll Believe”.

That’s When I’ll Believe.

As far as favorite songs go, this was only number twelve of my top choices, and tied for thirteenth of Tristan’s; but it ranked number two in quality of recording and performance.  (See previous web log posts, linked below, for more about the ranking system.)  I have some quibbles–I missed a vocal frill I never miss, Baxter didn’t get all the guitar frills and chord positions the way I would have done them, and I forgot that there was brass at the climax of the last verse so I didn’t record it–but overall it’s an excellent recording, and the one that appears on the EP Collision Of Worlds.  You’ll find it here.

In the studio, I had Kyle Baxter record the acoustic guitar for the first verse alone in the booth.  He hesitated on the last chord and apologized to me for it saying he could do it again, but I said it would work fine that way.  We then had everyone in the booth to record the body of the song, with my singing and Nick Rhoades’ gentle cymbals over that first verse before everyone came in (Jonathan Maness on keyboards, me on bass) for the rest.  In concert we had two keyboards, and Jonathan was supposed to put the brass in, but there was only one in the studio so we went back and I overdubbed the brass on the keyboard.  I hadn’t practiced it, and was doing it from my recollection of a midi recording I’d made a decade earlier, but it worked.

Because the song was recorded by Collision and previously done by Cardiac Output, there are already pages on the Web which discuss it, most notably here, telling the story of its origin.

Some people try to tell me my way’s no good,
That I’ve got to take another path.
If there’s a God in heaven I really should
Turn around and so escape His wrath.
If there’s a God in heaven, then what is death?
The Grim Reaper leaves us all bereaved!
So when I hear of someone calling back his breath,
That’s when I’ll believe.
That’s when I’ll believe.

They say there was a man who conquered the grave–
Yes, they say He rose up from the dead.
High on a cross He suffered and died to save
With a crown of thorns upon His head.
I’ll have to see the nail prints in Jesus’ hand,
And the side the soldier’s sword has cleaved,
And when I’m satisfied and sure I understand,
That’s when I’ll believe,
That’s when I’ll believe.

They say He’ll come again in power–
Then He will take His people home.
Although nobody knows the hour,
Still they are sure that He will come.
When I see Him in the clouds–
When His people start to leave–
When the trumpet sounds aloud–
That’s when I’ll believe.

They say that Christ will judge the good and the bad:
Everyone will get what he deserved.
Those who have followed Him will no more be sad.
For the rest, the fire’s been reserved.
So when I’m in the fire that never dies,
When I have no hope to be relieved,
I will remember doubting, and I’ll wonder why.
That’s when I’ll believe,
That’s when I’ll believe,
That’s when I’ll believe,
That’s when I’ll believe.

I can only hope you benefit from the song in some way.  I will continue with additional songs in the future.

*****

Previous web log song posts:

#301:  The Song “Holocaust” | #307:  The Song “Time Bomb” | #311:  The Song “Passing Through the Portal” | #314:  The Song “Walkin’ In the Woods”

#315: Don Francisco Alive

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #315, on the subject of Don Francisco Alive.

We mentioned previously (in connection with Dallas Holm) that sometimes an artist’s work becomes overshadowed by a single song.  This happened to Don Francisco twice, despite having quite a significant body of valuable material apart from that.

His debut album, Brother of the Son, featured a wonderful country song with a powerful message, No Condemnation, which I played quite a bit despite my general dislike for country music.  In fact, when it was overshadowed by later work I still attempted to get it on the air, because I thought the message important.  However, few remembered it for long after more songs were released.

His second album, Forgiven, had a wonderful song which got a lot of initial airplay, a live resurrection day story from Peter’s perspective entitled He’s Alive, which really was better than anything he’d done already.  It climbed our charts quickly.

Then for no apparent reason, listeners turned away from it, wanting to hear a different song, the last song on the album, Adam, Where Are You?.  It was stylistically similar, focusing on the Garden of Eden and the Fall.

He released several other excellent songs, usually similar in style to these, including the title song of his next album Got to Tell Someone, and of the following album The Traveler.

All of those songs still move me, some to tears.

Don continued to record and sing for years; he released a live concert album in 2016.  I never heard anything else from him, though, as I was no longer connected to the CCM scene.

*****

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.
  18. #266:  Minstrel Barry McGuire.
  19. #268:  Voice of the Second Chapter of Acts.
  20. #272:  To the Bride Live.
  21. #276:  Best Guitarist Phil Keaggy.
  22. #281:  Keith Green Launching.
  23. #283:  Keith Green Crashing.
  24. #286:  Blind Seer Ken Medema.
  25. #288:  Prophets Daniel Amos.
  26. #290:  James the Other Ward.
  27. #292:  Rising Resurrection Band.
  28. #294:  Servant’s Waters.
  29. #296:  Found Free Lost.
  30. #299:  Praise for Dallas Holm.
  31. #302:  Might Be Truth and the Cleverly-named Re’Generation.
  32. #304:  Accidental Amy Grant.
  33. #312:  Produced by Christian and Bannister.

#314: The Song “Walkin’ In the Woods”

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #314, on the subject of The Song “Walkin’ In the Woods”.

My wife and I collaborated with Bob Weston on two songs, both of them extraordinary.  The first, Holocaust, was already posted (links below); this was the second.  I listed it as my number five favorite song (music and lyrics) and the number six best recording (performance and technical); Tristan included it in his “tied for fifth” list.  It is about how churches confuse the simple gospel message, under the title:

Walkin’ In the Woods.

Although Collision: started working on a three-voice version of this when Sara joined, it never reached the point of performance ready.  There is a discussion of how it came to be written there; the line about “read the big book” was discussed, and we passed up “good book” in favor of the image of the large bibles on lecturns in many churches.  This recording was done with the Digital Orchestra program, all the instruments midis, the vocals mine.  The complex interaction of the vocals was always part of the song from the day it was written; TerraNova performed it, and the lyrics are:

Walkin’ in the woods in the middle of the night,
Try’n’ to find my way back home;
Wishin’ that I had just a little bit of light,
Try’n’ to find my way, get it right, get it right.
Runnin’ into people, say they’ll show me the way,
Take me to the edge of the pit and walk away.

Don’t walk away from me,
Don’t leave me standin’ here all alone!

This one tells me how to look and what I ought to say,
That one tells me what to eat and when to pray,
This one tells me only what I should not ever do.
Who is going to tell me what is true?  What is true!?
Searchin’ for the truth, and all I find is more lies.
Shepherd, are you try’n’ to pull the wool over my eyes?

Don’t tell me how I gotta dress for your show!
Don’t tell me how I gotta look if I go!
Just tell me what I gotta know!

Walkin’ in the woods in the middle of the night,
  (I’m try’n’ to find my way back home)
Try’n’ to find my way back home;
Wishin’ that I had just a little bit of light,
  (I feel I’m really all alone)
Try’n’ to find my way, get it right, get it right.
Walkin’ in the woods in the middle of the night,
  (I’m try’n’ to find my way back home)
Try’n’ to find my way back home;
Wishin’ that I had just a little bit of light,
  (I feel I’m really all alone)
Try’n’ to find my way, get it right, get it right.

Who can tell the shepherds from the wolves?
  (You gotta have a program.)
Who can tell the shepherds from the sheep?
  (You gotta take a close look.)
Who can tell the shepherds what to do?
  (But are they list’ning?)
Who can tell the shepherds are asleep?
  (You gotta read the big book.)

Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering
(Walkin’ in the woods in the middle of the night,)
sheep of my pasture, declares the Lord.
(Try’n’ to find my way back home;)
Therefore, thus says the Lord God of Israel
(Wishin’ that I had just a little bit of light,)
concerning the shepherds who are tending my people:  You have
(Try’n’ to find my way, get it right, get it right.)
scattered my flock, and driven them away,
(Walkin’ in the woods in the middle of the night,)
and have not attended to them.  Therefore, I am about
(Try’n’ to find my way back home;)
to attend to you for the evil of your deeds,
(Wishin’ that I had just a little bit of light,)
declares the Lord.
(Try’n’ to find my way,) get it right, get it right.

Walkin’ in the woods in the middle of the night,
  (I’m try’n’ to find my way back home)
    {Don’t walk away from me}
Try’n’ to find my way back home;
    {Don’t leave me standin’ here all alone,}
Wishin’ that I had just a little bit of light,
  (I feel I’m really all alone)
Try’n’ to find my way, get it right, get it right.
  {Don’t walk away from me}
Walkin’ in the woods in the middle of the night,
  (I’m try’n’ to find my way back home)
    {Don’t leave me standin’ here all alone,}
Try’n’ to find my way back home;
  {Don’t walk away from me}
Wishin’ that I had just a little bit of light,
  (I feel I’m really all alone)
    {Don’t leave me standin’ here all alone,}
Try’n’ to find my way, get it right, get it right.
  {Don’t walk away from me}

I’m lost and need to find the way.
I’m lost and need to find the way.

Walkin’ in the woods in the middle of the night.

I can only hope you benefit from the song in some way.  I will continue with additional songs in the future.

*****

Previous web log song posts:

#301:  The Song “Holocaust” | #307:  The Song “Time Bomb” | #311:  The Song “Passing Through the Portal”

#311: The Song “Passing Through the Portal”

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #311, on the subject of The Song “Passing Through the Portal”.

Two months back I started publishing my songs through web log posts; links to the first two such posts which include an explanation of the process are at the bottom of the page.  Some of what I explain here will only make sense if you’ve already seen those posts.

This song was ranked only number nine on my list of “best songs”, and Tristan had it on his list tied for fifth.  However, it was always ranked as the best performance/recording of all those available–and it’s difficult to argue against that.  Nick Rhoades’ drumming is phenomenal, Eric Kyle Baxter captured the lead guitar work brilliantly, Jonathan Manness managed the keyboards and hit the backup vocals spot on, which means the only person about whom I might complain is that lead vocalist/bass guitarist, which is me, so I’m not going to complain.  The average made it number three, and so the third of the three songs sent to The Objective Session people.  It is entitled

Passing Through the Portal.

The song was included in the Collision:  Of Worlds album, and so I wrote about it before, including the humorous way it came to be written.  It was the fan favorite at concerts despite the fact that some older listeners thought it a bit nostalgic in style.  It also was the inspiration for Faith in Play #2:  Portals at the Christian Gamers Guild.  This recording is the one from the album, engineered by Tony Mascara of Millville, New Jersey, in his basement studio, and the lyrics are:

Passing through the portal–

Leavin’ this wicked old world behind,
Changin’ my heart, renewing my mind.
Oh, and did I fail to mention
I’m travelin’ to a new dimension?
Passing through the portal to the new world.

Crossin’ the bridge, the bridge is a cross;
All that was gained I’ve counted as loss.
No, it’s not my imagination–
I’m movin’ into the new creation.
Passing through the portal to the new world.

I’ve come to say goodbye–
You needn’t ask me why.
I’ve turned my eye to the new world,
To the new world.

Passing through the portal–
I become immortal–
Passing through the portal to the new world

I can only hope you benefit from the song in some way.  I will continue with additional songs in the future.

*****

Previous web log song posts:

#301:  The Song “Holocaust” | #307:  The Song “Time Bomb”

#307: The Song “Time Bomb”

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #307, on the subject of The Song “Time Bomb”.

Last month I introduced a new web log miniseries as a vehicle through which to publish my songs, and began the process with my favorite of my songs, web log post #301:  The Song “Holocaust”.  I explained much of the reasoning and the process there, and won’t repeat much of it here, but will introduce the second song on the list.

This second song on the list was the third song on my list of best songs and fourth on the list of quality of recordings; Tristan listed it as one of his (four) first choices.  It was thus the second song submitted to The Objective.  It is entitled

Time Bomb.

I went from a public high school overrun by the Jesus Movement of the early 70s to two Christian colleges for five years and then after a brief stint working security into five years ministry on a contemporary Christian radio station.  Then a few months after I left that I landed in the first secular job I’d had since a summer job in the back reaches of a warehouse doing inventory and supply.  I was surrounded by people near my own age who had an entirely worldly and secular view of life.  It was a bit of culture shock for me.

I remember one girl in particular because something she said very much inspired this song.  She said that eventually she was going to settle down and straighten up, but she had time for that, and she was going to enjoy the partying life for a while first.  I wondered whether she would have the time, and began to think about people who think they have time.

We performed the song with TerraNova, much as it is here but without the keyboard–harmonics on the rhythm guitar with the counterparts by the bass and lead, five vocals, I think the rhythm played the introductory breaker.  We were working on a three-vocal version for 7dB and later for Collision, but never had them performance ready.  I’ve tried to come up with a one- or two-vocal version, but it loses too much.  The choruses were originally written for four vocals; the “descant” was added when I we added a soprano vocalist to TerraNova, and the alto was delayed to be out of synch when I was making this recording.

My good friend Reverend David D. Oldham once said that this was his go-to song for demonstrating how to integrate musical style with lyrical content, that the choruses, verses, and bridge each have their own flavor that captures the essence of the messages within each.

Much of this, and some other stuff, was included in the material about Collision‘s repertoire, here.

This recording was made using something from Turtle Beach called Orchestra something-or-other; it only supported four vocals, so I covered the fifth with a midi trumpet.  Although additional vocal capability came with the upgrade to Record Producer Plus, I never returned to upgrade the earlier songs, having too many songs on my list of intended recordings.  The instruments are all programmed midis through a Soundblaster sound card, and I sang four of the five voices, but had to bring the soprano down an octave on the bridge.  Here are the words:

She thinks she’s got the world by the tail,
Whole lot o’ money and she couldn’t fail.
Too much time to be changing life now–
Does things her Daddy never would allow.
She goes to a party ev’ry Friday night–
Friends keep tellin’ her her life’s alright.
She’ll change someday, she knows it’s true–
There’s plenty of time for what she wants to do.

And the time keeps ticking like a ticking time bomb,
And the time that we once had is nearly gone,
As the world winds down to its final hour
When the Son of Man shall come with mighty power.

His money is his only friend;
Got more money than he’ll ever spend,
Big investments in stocks and gold,
Building up security for when he’s old.
He can’t take it with him, and he knows it’s true,
But now it helps him do the things he wants to do.
Lives his life like it’ll never end,
But when it does, on what will he depend?

And the time keeps ticking like a ticking time bomb,
And the time that we once had is nearly gone,
As the world winds down to its final hour
When the Son of Man shall come with mighty power.

Give him a number, call him double-oh-four
In God’s secret service in the holy war.
He’s a Christian in his private room
But wouldn’t tell a soul to save it from its doom.
He’s bound for the pearly gates, but you can’t tell–
He acts the same as all the people bound for hell.
Friends and family will have to wait–
He hopes that someone tells them all before too late.

And the time keeps ticking like a ticking time bomb,
    (And the time keeps ticking like a ticking time)
      {Ticking like a ticking time}
And the time that we once had is nearly gone,
(Bomb, and the time that we once had is nearly)
{Ticking time bomb–time we had is nearly}
As the world winds down to its final hour
(Gone, as the world winds down to its final)
{Gone, winding, winding down until He}
When the Son of Man shall come with mighty power.
(Hour, He will come with mighty power.)
{Fin’ly comes with mighty power.}

Lift your head, He’s calling the dead to come forth!
Lift your eyes and see them arise!
Lift your heart, let praises now start to come forth!
Worship the risen son, Christ!

And the time keeps ticking like a ticking time bomb,
    (And the time keeps ticking like a ticking time)
      {Ticking like a ticking time}
And the time that we once had is nearly gone,
(Bomb, and the time that we once had is nearly)
{Ticking time bomb–time we had is nearly.}
As the world winds down to its final hour
(Gone, as the world winds down to its final)
{Gone, winding, winding down until He}
When the Son of Man shall come with mighty power.
(Hour, He will come with mighty power.)
{Fin’ly comes with mighty power.}

And the time keeps ticking like a ticking time bomb,
    (And the time keeps ticking like a ticking time)
      {Ticking like a ticking time}
And the time that we once had is nearly gone,
(Bomb, and the time that we once had is nearly)
{Ticking time bomb–time we had is nearly.}
As the world winds down to its final hour
(Gone, as the world winds down to its final)
{Gone, winding, winding down until He}
When the Son of Man shall come–
(Hour, He will come–)
{Fin’ly come–.}

I can only hope you benefit from the song in some way.  I will continue with additional songs in the future.

#305: The Cross Case: Supreme Court Sours on Lemon

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #305, on the subject of The Cross Case:  Supreme Court Sours on Lemon.

I have been watching for this case since it hit the circuit court, and so was pleased to see that the Supreme Court had decided it.  It seems on one hand to be a simple question:  is a century-old war memorial in the shape of a forty-foot cross originally built by private citizens but for half a century maintained on public land at public expense a violation of the “establishment” clause, that is, a constitutionally impermissible promotion of a particular religion by the government?  That’s the question; yes or no?

So imagine my surprise to discover that although Justice Alito managed to write a seven-to-two majority opinion that said no (that is, the cross can stay), there were five concurring opinions (a concurring opinion is one that agrees with the conclusion but not with all the reasoning) plus a dissent.  So how is there so much confusion over so simple a question?

At the time of this writing, I was unable to find the official Supreme Court PDF online; however, Justia has it in an easy-to-access form.  The Court combined two cases into one, so the title reads

THE AMERICAN LEGION, et al., PETITIONERS

v.

AMERICAN HUMANIST ASSOCIATION, et al.; and

MARYLAND-NATIONAL CAPITAL PARK AND PLANNING COMMISSION, PETITIONER

v.

AMERICAN HUMANIST ASSOCIATION, et al.

A lot of the trouble revolves around what’s been called the Lemon Test, named for Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602 (1971), in which the court articulated a three-part test for whether something violated the establishment clause.  The short version is:

  1. Does the action/activity have a secular purpose?
  2. Is the principle or primary effect one that neither advances nor inhibits religion?
  3. Does it avoid fostering an excessive government entanglement with religion?

By these three questions all such cases were supposed to be answered.

Let’s get some backstory.

Just after World War I, a citizens group in Bladensburg, Maryland wanted to honor the forty-nine men from their community who died in that conflict.  Quite a few of the fallen in that war were never returned, and more were never identified.  The monument would serve as a surrogate grave for them, for their families to visit, and as a recognition of the service of so many others.  They hired an architect/sculptor, who designed a large Latin Cross, modeled on the crosses that had been used as temporary grave markers for the over one hundred thousand Americans buried in European graveyards.  (The Star of David was also used for such markers, but only about five percent of American casualties were Jewish, so crosses dominated the photos that came home and were emblazoned in the minds of the mourners.)  The citizens group raised money through donations, but ran out before completing the work, so the American Legion took over, adding their emblem to the cross, finishing the work, and maintaining it at their own expense into the early 1960s.  At that time, actions were taken to transfer the ownership of the property to the Maryland Parks Department, in part because the road around the monument had become a major traffic problem, in part because the American Legion was no longer able to afford it, and in part because the State wanted to expand the surrounding area into a memorial park with monuments for all the other wars.  Since then the monument has been maintained by state funds.  However, a few years back the American Humanist Association filed suit claiming that the cross was offensive and an impermissible endorsement of the Christian religion.  They wanted it removed, or demolished, or at the very least stripped of the crosspiece so it would be an obelisk instead of a cross.

The Federal District Court applied the Lemon test and sided with the park service, stating that the primary purpose of the cross was to honor the dead of World War I, and there was no evidence that any religious purpose was intended in its design or its present maintenance; any impartial observer who knew the history of the monument would conclude that it was not about promoting Christian faith, but about honoring the war casualties.  A three-judge panel of the Circuit Court, however, disagreed in a split decision, again applying the Lemon test but asserting that the cross was so tied to Christian belief that anyone seeing it would think it was an emblem promoting that religion.  The full court declined to review the case en banc (that is, all the judges), and the Supreme Court granted certiorari (or cert., agreeing to hear it).

Justice Alito wrote that there were many problems with applying Lemon, and that since the the test has a lot to do with motivations and intentions it is particularly difficult to apply the case to situations with deep historic roots.  It can’t be said that those who originally erected the monument had a religious purpose in view.  He cites other situations in which crosses are used as an emblem that do not have a religious purpose, notably among them the International Red Cross, whose red cross on a white field was designed to call to mind the white cross on a red field that was the flag of the neutral country Switzerland, and so marking the deliverers of medical care as neutral.  So, too, the crosses that dotted graveyards throughout Europe had become an image of the fallen in that war, popularized alongside the poppy even more by the poem In Flander’s Field.  Shortly after the war the same emblem became the basis for the national congressional medals known as the Distinguished Cross and the Navy Cross.  There was no reason to suppose that the original designers of the cross intended it to have any greater religious significance than that which is attached to any grave marker.  Indeed, one of the members of the committee which began the work and approved the design was Jewish.  Further, there is no evidence of bias or prejudice, sectarian or otherwise.  At the dedication ceremony, a Catholic Priest opened with an invocation, a politician gave the keynote address, and a Baptist minister gave the closing benediction.  Although racial tensions were high in the country and the Ku Klux Klan held a rally within ten miles of the site within a month of the dedication, black and white soldiers were listed together on the plaque.  To claim that the original intention was religious is to read our own ideas into their situation; we cannot do that.  Further, he argued, the fact that the monument has been there for almost a century means it has taken many other significances, historical and cultural.  We might think there is a religious significance to it as well, but it is a relatively small part of a memorial that has been part of the community for so long.  Besides, to destroy or deface it would appear to be an act against religion, not an act furthering religious neutrality.

The opinion did not overturn Lemon; it simply said that in dealing with matters steeped in history, it was generally impossible to know the motivations of those who made the original decisions, and so Lemon was rendered useless in such cases.

Justice Gorsuch in the main agreed, but went further.  Lemon, he said, was useless as a test.  Case law demonstrates that a court using the test can reach any conclusion it wants.  More pointedly, the notion of the response of a reasonable observer (whether a reasonable observer would think that the purpose was primarily religious) has created an “offended observer” status, that someone can file suit against an action on the grounds that it offends him.  This, Gorsuch argues, is not real injury and the Constitution gives no basis for anyone to sue without real injury.  Overturning Lemon and getting rid of its test would resolve much of the confusion in the courts and mean in the future cases like this, in which someone claims to be offended by the sight of a supposedly religious object, would be dismissed perfunctorily.

Justice Thomas agreed with that, but went further.  The Establishment Clause, he observed, begins “Congress shall make no law”.  He explains what kinds of laws had existed that were eliminated, but asserts that the protection has nothing to do with actions that are not based on laws made by Congress.  He suggests that one might apply the I Amendment to the States by virtue of the XIV Amendment, but even so the original purpose of the Establishment Clause was to forbid legislative actions compelling citizens to support a specific church or denomination.  Local creches, non-sectarian thanksgiving services, opening invocations and closing benedictions, and memorials to the dead are not covered by this, as they are not compulsory and in the main are not legislative acts.  Lemon, he asserts, should be overturned because it goes far beyond what is Constitutional.

Justice Kagan also wrote a concurring opinion, agreeing with nearly all of Justice Alito’s opinion but for two sections.  The important disagreement is that she asserts that Lemon, with its focus on purposes and effects, is still very valuable even though it does not resolve every Establishment Clause problem, and she would retain it.  Her lesser disagreement is that Justice Alito suggested that history would play an important part in Establishment Clause analysis, which she does not reject entirely but does not wish to see embraced as a principle of law.  She agrees, though, that it might be important to consider whether long-standing monuments, symbols, and practices reflect respect for different views and tolerance, with an honest effort to achieve non-discrimination and inclusivity, and a recognition of the important role that religion plays in many American lives.

Justice Kagan also agrees with the concurrence written by Justice Breyer, who has long said that no one test works for all Establishment Clause cases, but that in each case the court has to consider the purposes of the clause, “assuring religious liberty and tolerance for all, avoiding religiously based social conflict, and maintaining that separation of church and state that allows each to flourish in its “separate spher[e]”.  He says that the majority opinion is correct that there is no significant religious importance to the Bladensburg Cross, and that its removal or destruction would signal a hostility toward religion against the Establishment Clause traditions.  However, he objects to any sort of “history and tradition test” that might permit religiously-biased memorials on public lands in the future.

That, apparently, is a suggestion in Justice Kavanaugh’s concurrence.  He fully joins the majority opinion, but emphasizes the importance of reviewing history and tradition in such cases.  He suggests that the Lemon test has proven useless and is never really used by the Supreme Court.  He also expresses sympathy for those, particularly Jews, who feel alienated by the cross, which he says must be recognized as a religious emblem.  The fact that it is a religious emblem does not mean the government cannot maintain it–but the government does not have to do so, and other branches of the government could take action to remove the cross or transfer its ownership and care to a non-governmental entity.  The objectors do have recourse to the political process if they wish to pursue this; what they don’t have is a court decision declaring that the cross cannot be maintained by the State.

Which leaves Justice Ginsberg’s dissent, joined by Justice Sotomayor.

Ginsberg maintains that the Latin Cross, defined as one in which the lower upright is longer than the other three branches, has always been recognized as a Christian symbol, and has never had a secular meaning or application.  (This in contrast to the Greek Cross, in which the four branches are equal.)  The Bladensburg “Peace Cross” is thus offensive to anyone of any other religion or of no religion.  Marshaling evidence that even in the aftermath of World War I the cross was identified by the government as a sectarian symbol to be put on the graves of all Christians and of any persons not known not to be Christian (in case they were), with Stars of David placed on all graves of soldiers known to be Jewish.  (Those who were known not to be either could, at the family’s request, have a plain stone, be transported home, or be interred in a private cemetery overseas with a headstone of their choice.)  There has never been a case in which a Latin Cross was identified as a non-sectarian emblem of death, and historically it has been regarded as conveying the message that Christians are saved and all others are damned–an offensive message to all those others.

While Ginsberg’s claim is well-supported, it is not clear that the modern cultural view of crosses as memorials perceives them as specifically Christian.  It comes to me that many graves of pets are marked with crosses, but no Christian denomination of which I am aware supports the theological belief that animals can be Christian, The Vicar of Dibbley notwithstanding.  (The eternal destiny of animals is not something the Bible tells us, which makes sense, as C. S. Lewis would have said, because it’s not actually something we need to know.)  Crosses are also frequently used in decorative graveyards such as in Halloween displays.  To many, the cross says “grave marker” much more than it says “Christian”.

I can’t say that everyone perceives such memorials as non-sectarian, but I do think that over time they have become more so.  It appears that the Court, in the main, agrees with that:  memorials using crosses in their imagery have become non-sectarian by their use over time, and the Bladensburg Cross far more represents the fallen of World War I and, since its rededication in 1985, all the American casualties of all our wars.  Lemon has not been overturned, but it has been significantly limited in its application in the future.

The Peace Cross stands.