Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Carly Simon and Roberta Flack point to Christ?

Last week for days I couldn't get this song out of my head. Roberta Flack's recording of "Will you still love me tomorrow?" by Carole King. [My apologies, I couldn't find the actual recording, but here is a beautiful cover (of the cover). Now before I get to the point, let me just say, yes Roberta Flack had a low alto voice and this guy can sing as high in the tenor range as I can, but I can't sound soft and sultry like this. It's kind of creepy, but a great recording...]

Anyhoo, I've always found this song to be haunting, but I never put my finger on why. But the more it played over and over again in my head, a clearer understanding began to form. For the same reason that this song has captivated so many people (and been re-recorded by just about everyone who ever sang into a microphone) is that is expresses a longing, fragile tenderness that exists in every human heart. This song, whether the singer knows it or not, is about the search for God.

At first glance, that may not be what you see. In fact, at first glance, you could assume that this song is either about a couple growing serious in their affection for one another and about to make love (out of wedlock, we assume) or it could be about a one-night stand.

Now, let me get something out of the way. A good friend of mine frequently makes the "poop in the brownie" argument, which goes sort of like this: Good stories don't need to engage in gratuitous sin, even if it's just a little bit. After all, just a little bit of dog poop ruins the brownie batter. When she first made that argument it disengaged me, knocking me from my perch, rendering me unable to press for what I believed. Yet that argument, while relevant in many discussions, doesn't enter here. I'm not talking here about a gratuitous sex scene that adds nothing to the plot of a story, but is obligatory in order to reap box office cash, nor am I talking about torture porn (read: "Saw"), no matter how compelling the story may have ended up being. I'm talking about the glimmers of hope and transcendence even in sinful endeavors, the rays of light that may peek into a darkened corner that nonetheless reveal that there is a sun above.

The woman in this song is about to give herself to her lover, opening her body to his, revealing her inmost self. And in a moment frozen in time, she stops to question him. She is suspended in time while he stands before her, oblivious to the torrent of her heart within. Like Tevya, she wrestles with questions that may not have an answer. She looks to her lover to question him, but no answer comes, for the question remains only in her heart. But also like Tevya, it's not the answer that's important for the moment, but the fact that she grapples with the question.

Tonight you're mine completely,
You give your love so sweetly,
Tonight the light of love is in your eyes,
But will you love me tomorrow?

Is this a lasting treasure,
Or just a moment's pleasure,
Can I believe the magic of your sighs,
Will you still love me tomorrow?

Tonight with words unspoken,
You said that I'm the only one,
But will my heart be broken,
When the night (When the night)
Meets the morning sun.

I'd like to know that your love,
Is love I can be sure of,
So tell me now and I won't ask again,
Will you still love me tomorrow?
Will you still love me tomorrow?
-Carole King

What she is looking for, what we all are looking for, is not a love that is illusory, nor a love that only seeks its own pleasure, for that is not love at all. She seeks a love that lasts, a love that has no bounds. She wants a love that is everlasting. The woman in the song is playing at a dangerous game of trust, and she knows how dangerous it is, yet she can't do anything but trust anyway. She needs to trust, she needs to succumb to a love outside of herself. She needs to fall, hoping that her lover will catch her, though she knows that he may fail her.

Why, then, must she fall anyway? Why do we all run headlong into the abyss seeking after something that in this life seems never to fulfill but always to disappoint?

It is because we are made that way. We are created with one goal in mind: love. God, who is Love itself, created us with the sole intention that we might be one, in love, with Him for all eternity. But God does not force this love upon us. We must choose Him, Who loves us so much that he gave himself up for us, yet still allows us the freedom to love Him in return.

"27The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for:
    The dignity of man rests above all on the fact that he is called to communion with God. This invitation to converse with God is addressed to man as soon as he comes into being. For if man exists, it is because God has created him through love, and through love continues to hold him in existence. He cannot live fully according to truth unless he freely acknowledges that love and entrusts himself to his creator."
Psalm 63:2-8
O God, you are my God-- for you I long! For you my body yearns; for you my soul thirsts, Like a land parched, lifeless, and without water.
So I look to you in the sanctuary to see your power and glory.
For your love is better than life; my lips offer you worship!
I will bless you as long as I live; I will lift up my hands, calling on your name.
My soul shall savor the rich banquet of praise, with joyous lips my mouth shall honor you!
When I think of you upon my bed, through the night watches I will recall
That you indeed are my help, and in the shadow of your wings I shout for joy.

The woman in the song is not looking for sex; she's looking for unending love. Like that quote from Chesterton, every man who walks into a brothel is looking for God.

Btw, if you want to read about other songs in our culture that in their own way point to the reality of Christ, visit Twisted Mystics.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Completely Random Movie Quotes #3

"No! The world must be peopled."

[Quote noticeably absent from the movie: "Whoa."]

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

If you like logic

...and enjoy tearing apart the ridiculous arguments made by people who clearly don't understand it, then I think you'll enjoy this read at American Papist.

Monday, September 14, 2009

There's a new sherrif in town...

We were at the house of a family this weekend with which we are very close friends, as are our children, who are about the same age. We were having a great time, the adults inside kabitzing, making dinner, oogling over the baby, when the inevitable happened. You know.

One of the kids came in crying with the extra sound of injustice in his voice. Our friend's son, we'll call him Thomas, claimed that his sister, we'll call her Sandra, and my oldest son, here known as Fric, hit him and knocked him to the ground. Oh, boy, here we go.

Thomas' dad, mom and I summoned all the appropriate witnesses to the bailiff's quarters (the porch) and commenced the interrogations in the judge's chambers.

One by one the involved parties were questioned, with Thomas' story distinctly different from Sandra's and Fric's, neither of whom had a moment together to corroborate their stories. To get to the point, Thomas started by hitting Sandra with (I believe) a wiffle ball bat when she retreived the frisbee before he did. And what did my son do? Why, he knocked Thomas over by hitting him in the chest, because, hey!, you don't. hit. girls.

That's my boy.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

I'll need you, Dad

Thanks to Rick at Catholic Dads for posting this earlier.

And if you read this, say a prayer for me to be a better Catholic dad. Thanks.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The shell game of health care reform

Well, I promised Leticia last week that I would get my own post up here about the town hall meeting with my Congressman, Democrat Joe Courtney, on September 2nd.

I was fortunate enough to get in, arriving at about 5:40 for the 6:30 meeting, one of the last people allowed into the 519-capacity auditorium. The place was packed, and as they wouldn't allow standees, I found an empty seat near a man formerly of my parish, whom I was happy to sit next to.

I had a copy of the House bill on my laptop for reference if necessary, but I quickly realized that this would be impractical and jotted down my questions for Rep. Courtney. Unfortunately, the mic at the podium wasn't working properly, so the moderators would hold the clip-on mic for questioners then race down to the front so Joe could answer.

There were loud protests when the first announcement was made that the school needed us to be done by 8:30, so we were on a limited time frame. (I wonder what other event was planned there that evening?)

Anyway, the crowd, from my estimation was a little more evenly spread pro/con than was evident from the people milling about outside. Yes, it was a bit raucous at times, but most people at least tried to be respectful to let others ask their question, and when emotion did overtake, many cries of "Let him speak" did carry sway. (I'll note that the only person who did have to be escorted out was a heckler in support of the bill who continually yelled over others' criticism of the bill and the congressman.)

Not surprisingly, I wasn't satisfied with the answers that Joe gave. He continually found ways to make general statements that didn't address people's particular critiques or questions (especially regarding how this can be paid for). He stated about four times that he himself does not participate in the Congressional health care plan, a principled stance he plans to continue until everyone has access to the same care. (Hey, for all my disagreements with Mr. Courtney, I can respect that. However, that answer only goes so far, especially when people wanted to know how other members of Congress could vote for this legislation without being held to its consequences.)

I did not get to ask my questions, though not for lack of holding up my hand the entire time.

So here are a few of my questions and concerns:

1. President Obama has gone on a crusade to quash myths about the health care plan in Congress. He claims that one such fabrication is that abortion would not be covered by tax payer dollars. Mr. Courtney also made that claim on his local radio appearance two weeks ago delineating a system of payment credits and sequestering of funds, citing the Capps Amendment, which passed on July 30th. However, the Capps Amendment only makes those delineations in the section on the private Health Insurance Exchange, whereas the section on the public option only states that the public option shall provide abortions for which public funds are allowed and shall not be prevented or prohibited from covering abortions for which federal funds are not allowed. Nope, no disconnect here.

2. As I read through the text of the bill (I had 16 hours to kill when I missed my flight at O'Hare) I was struck by the amount of authority that the Congress would essentially be ceding--in our name-- to the Administration. By this plan, the rules that govern the health care of every man, woman and child in the United States would be determined by the Secretary of Health and Human Services. That means that the decisions that most intimately affect everyone would henceforth be political. Every presidential election from now until the end of the Republic would be about what's in "my health care." Not the economy, not national security, not education. Don't like your health care plan? Wait four years and elect a new president.

For all those in support of this legislation, I can't help but wonder if they would have given this much authority to President Bush?

3. My congressman has very clearly read the bill (another point for which I have to give him at least that credit). However, many members of Congress had not until recently, and it's not certain that they all have read it yet. This bill would restructure one sixth of the American economy, and if President Obama and Speaker Pelosi had their way, this bill would have been passed a month ago before Congress went on August recess, before the American people could have read the bill. Is this responsible?

4. Courtney side-stepped another question about the path to single-payer health care by stating that this bill is not single payer health care and that such a plan would have zero chance of passing now. Yet that is not the concern here, Joe. We can see that it doesn't yet create a single-payer mandate, but Barney Franks is on record admitting that if we are to get to a single-payer structure, the public option is the best way to get there.

Then, after hearing President Obama's campaign speech before both houses tonight, another thought crossed my mind. He said that the public option would have to be self-sufficient, operating only on the premiums it collects. And then I got to thinking, if the public option is for those who cannot get health care because they either have pre-existing conditions or they cannot afford it, how will they be able to afford the premiums on the public option unless it is taxpayer subsidized? (Let that sink in, then, and see question 1 above.)

And if the Health Insurance Exchange will impose rules on private companies that forbid them from denying coverage or dropping people, why would the public option be necessary at all? A cheaper alternative? How then, will it stay viable as a system if it is collecting lower premiums?

Obama made it clear that everyone will have to purchase (or in the case of employers, provide) health insurance or they will be taxed. Two questions: 1. If an individual decides not to buy health insurance and is fined/taxed, does that tax automatically enroll him in the public option or does he still have to buy insurance now on top of that? 2. If a company drops insurance benefits for employees and is fined/taxed, will the fine be much greater than the premiums it currently pays? Otherwise, any business owner will be calculating the premium amount and administrative costs; suffering the tax and letting all the employees get dumped into the public option might be a wise business decision. (Is this the ultimate goal? Is the public option the mechanism for eventually getting everyone into a single infrastructure of health care?)

Keep watching the shell. This game isn't over yet.