Monday, January 27, 2014

Monday Music: The Pleiades and Orion

John Michael Talbot is another of those "pioneers in contemporary Christian music" whose recording career took off during the "Jesus Movement" of the 1970s. Talbot went on to become a lay brother in the Franciscan Order in the Catholic Church later founded the order of The Brothers and Sisters of Charity. "The Pleiades and Orion" was recorded in 1981 on the double album, Troubadour of the Great King, on the occasion of the 800th birthday of St. Francis of Assisi. The text for the song is based upon Amos 5:8.


Saturday, January 25, 2014

Saturday Haiku: Clouds

   Fleeting and changing,
        the canopy of the world
        makes hearts look upward.
                                 ~ CK


Photo: Skies of Central Utah
Credit: Scott Wright of Scott Wright Photography


Friday, January 24, 2014

Global Belly Laugh Day

How did I miss this before? I love a good belly laugh, and now there is a day to celebrate it. What makes you laugh? Stand up comics? Television comedies? Milton Berle in a dress? Slapstick? Once when I was in college, my roommate and I staged a fake altercation in the school cafeteria which resulted in him throwing a whole cream pie in my face. We got laughs, howls, and applause from our fellow student diners. One of my classmates told me later he really appreciated that "break from the tensions of schoolwork" and that he had not laughed in about a year until that night. I responded, "Oh, No! You need to laugh every day!" Even better than slapstick, is the telling of funny stories; better than funny stories is a quick wit to see the humor in everyday real life situations. Hopefully, you have at least one friend who can scope out the humor in the room.  

Sometimes You Just Have to Be There  

 You can even help to create the humor of the moment when the situation arises. When I was a seminary student, I was a member of the First Baptist Church of Novato, California. One Sunday night, the music minister announced that it was hymn request night. Instead of having a planned set of hymns, they would let us request our favorite hymn. All we had to do was to find the hymn number and raise our had to request the hymn to be sung. I was in the choir that night. I had a hymn request, and was raising my hand from the back of the choir in the tenor section. Ed Giddens, the music minister was taking requests from the congregation but not noticing me in the choir seated behind him. With each hymn request, I was getting a little more physical in my hand raising until it was two hands waving while standing. The congregation was beginning to chuckle, seeing my hand waiving that Ed was not seeing. I was doing some good-natured shoulder shrugging and eyebrow raising, while more people were stifling their chuckles. Finally, I decided to be a bit more dramatic. I walked down from the choir loft and took a seat on the front pew, directly in front of the Ed. Now things were getting a bit unsettled for a church service. One did not typically change seats after the service began, and one certainly did not leave the choir loft to go to a pew. The situation was getting humorous enough, but Ed, having a great sense of humor himself, managed to take the humor to another level. "We have time for one more hymn," Ed announced. (I was already raising my hand). Then he said, "But we've taken so many requests from the congregation, I think we need to go to the choir for the last request." He turned around to look toward the choir as the congregation erupted in laughter and I was looking around with a shocked and dejected expression. All was resolved when he turned back around to look at me and say, "Oh, did you have a hymn request, Charlie?" People remembered that service longer that the typical hymn request service.

Make Laughter a Priority Today

One of my favorite sure-fire laughter spots on television these days is Modern Family created by Christopher Lloyd and Stephen Levitan. You can probably catch an episode somewhere on cable TV tonight. The Big Bang Theory is another good place for laughs on TV. However you manage it, be sure to get some belly laughs today.

Here are some benefits of laughter from the Global Laughter Day webpage: 

A Good Hearty Laugh
  • Even looking forward to having a good laugh can boost your immune system and reduce stress. University of California-Irvine study shows that even knowing you will be involved in a positive humorous event days in advance reduces levels of stress hormones in the blood and increases levels of chemicals known to aid relaxation.
  • Laughter appears to cause the tissue that forms the inner lining of blood vessels, the endothelium, to dilate or expand in order to increase blood flow.
  • Playful laughing fuels positive energy, creativity and connection.
  • Boosts immune functions.
  • Increase's pain tolerance.
  • Exercises facial, abdominal and chest muscles.
  • Oxygenates the blood.
  • Improves brain functioning.
    We are more alert, creative, we think better after a laugh.
  • Laughing changes our mood. Boosts Positive Emotions.
  • Laughing mixed together with the positive emotions of humor,
    and happiness lowers the stress hormones, corticosteroids and epinephrine. The release of growth hormone and endorphins plays a role in lowering the stress hormones.
A Sense of Humor
  • A sense of humor fuels positive energy, connection and creativity.
  • Use humor during challenging times to transform situations.
  • Use humor to arouse curiosity and engage in divergent or creative thinking. 
  • "'Humor in children has been correlated with higher intelligence, creativity, sociability, empathy, self-esteem, and problem solving." (Louis Franzini, Ph.D., author of Kids Who Laugh: How to Develop Your Child’s Sense of Humor)
  • "Humor is a powerful force that can nourish children's growth, development, health, and sense of well-being." (Amelia J. Klein, editor Humor in Children's Lives: A Guidebook for Practitioners)

*    *    *
And Now a Word from the Professionals

Here is a conversation with two of the masters of comedy from Jerry Seinfeld's Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Recommended Recipes: Tiramisu

I found this recipe on the radio. A couple of years ago I was driving home from a gathering of The Alabama State Poetry Society, listening to NPR on the radio as is my custom while driving.  I heard an interview with a man who decided to make tiramisu for his girlfriend on Valentine’s Day.  After the segment, the program’s host said that the recipe for tiramisu could be found on the program’s website.  Since tiramisu is a popular dessert in our household, I decided to go searching for the recipe. I found the one on the NPR website and to my surprise, it was a Mr. Food recipe! You can find more complicated recipes for tiramisu, but this one is simple, relatively easy, and you will find that it tastes just as good as any you have had in a restaurant. This is another one that I took to a church potluck and it received rave reviews.

The recipe calls for egg substitute, which I like because egg substitute is pasteurized. The recipe is not cooked, and I am always leery of raw eggs in recipes. Here is the recipe as presented on Mr. Food’s website:

Melt in Your Mouth Tiramisu

"Our melt-in-your-mouth version of the popular chilled Italian-style dessert, Tiramisu, is made with ladyfinger cookies that are flavored with instant coffee granules and liqueur, layered in creamy filling and topped off with a dusting of cocoa."

Serves: 6

What You'll Need:

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 4 teaspoons instant coffee granules
  • 1/4 cup coffee-flavored liqueur
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 (8-ounce) container mascarpone cheese (see Note)
  • 1/2 cup refrigerated egg substitute
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup (1/2 pint) heavy cream
  • 2 (3-ounce) packages ladyfingers
  • 1/2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa

What To Do:
  1. In a small bowl, combine the water, coffee granules, liqueur, and vanilla; stir to dissolve the coffee then set aside. In a large bowl, beat the mascarpone cheese, egg substitute, and sugar until smooth; set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, beat the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Fold half of the whipped cream into the cheese mixture until thoroughly combined. 
  3. Line the bottom of an 8-inch square baking dish with one package of ladyfingers, slightly overlapping to fit. Spoon half of the coffee mixture over the ladyfingers. Spoon half of the cheese mixture evenly over the ladyfingers.  
  4. Layer with the remaining package of ladyfingers and repeat with the coffee mixture and cheese mixture. Spoon the whipped topping over the top and sprinkle with the cocoa. Cover and chill for at least 3 hours before serving.


Mascarpone cheese is a fresh Italian double cream cheese that is buttery smooth in texture and can often be found in supermarket deli departments. If it's not available, you can substitute cream cheese beaten with a little milk until creamy and smooth.


If you prefer not to use egg substitute, you may alternatively use 2 eggs (just mix with a whisk before adding).


Monday, January 20, 2014

Monday Music: Jesu,Joy of Man's Desiring

We started the year recalling the Jesus Movement of the 1970's then we heard  last week's riveting "Jesus is Just Alright." We go now to the sublime and ethereal strains of J.S. Bach's "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring." The English lyrics, composed by poet laureate Robert Bridges, approach the zen of any "Jesus Movement" of any age in the opening stanza:

Jesu, joy of man's desiring,
Holy wisdom, love most bright;
Drawn by Thee, our souls aspiring
Soar to uncreated light.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Saturday Haiku: Winter Sun

   Sometimes the sunlight
       stands as memory of Spring
       when the trees are bare.

                                ~ CK


Photo: Oak Mountain near Birmingham, Alabama
Credit: Charles Kinnaird


Thursday, January 16, 2014

A Satirical Review of the Governor of Alabama's State if the State Address

 Here's a report from The Vidalia Onion...

Governor Bentley of Alabama Holds his State Up as a Paragon of Republican Ideals

Governor Bentley, in his state of the state address on Tuesday night continued to reject Obamacare, Medicaid expansion, and federal government intervention. Instead, he showed the nation what Republican ideals of low taxes and small government can do for a state. After all, Alabama was practicing low taxes, small government and resistance to federal programs long before it was Republican cool – and it has really paid off. (Continue reading here).


Monday, January 13, 2014

Monday Music: Jesus is Just Alright

If you're like me, and if you were coming of age in the '70s, your first hearing of this song was probably the one recorded by The Doobie Brothers in 1972. That version was a chart topper. The Doobie brothers were not the first to record it, however. The Byrds covered it on their 1969 album, The Ballad of Easy Rider but the song was written by Art Reynolds and first recorded by the Art Reynolds Singers in 1966 on their debut album, Tellin' It Like It Is. Art Reynolds was choir director at St. Vestal C.M.E. Church and the Art Reynolds Singers were five of his best singers from that choir. In more recent times, the song has been covered by contemporary Christian music groups, Stryper, and D.C. Talk. In 2006, Robert Randolph and the Family Band coverd the song on their album, Colorblind. On that version, Eric Clapton helps out with some amazing guitar work.

This recording also gives something you just don't often hear these days: the soothing pops and and crackles of the needle traversing the groove of the vinyl.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Saturday Haiku: Winter Dream

Quiet waters flow
     where snow-lined branches foretell
     the dreams of sparrows.

                                       ~ CK


Photo: Winter scene along the Mulberry Fork of the Warrior River near Hayden, Alabama
Credit: Laura Taylor


Thursday, January 9, 2014

When Jesus Made the Cover of Time

Looking at Jesus' Appearances on the Cover of Time Magazine

When I featured the group, Love Song, on Monday's blog post, I began thinking back on the days of the Jesus movement and remembered when Jesus made the cover of Time magazine. The year was 1971.  The cover story opened with the following:
Notorious leader of an underground liberation movement

Wanted for the following charges:
  • Practicing medicine, winemaking and food distribution without a license.
  • Interfering with businessmen in the temple.
  • Associating with known criminals, radicals, subversives, prostitutes and street people.
  • Claiming to have the authority to make people into God's children.
APPEARANCE: Typical hippie type—long hair, beard, robe, sandals.
Hangs around slum areas, few rich friends, often sneaks out into the desert.

BEWARE: This man is extremely dangerous. His insidiously inflammatory message is particularly dangerous to young people who haven’t been taught to ignore him yet. He changes men and claims to set them free.

I was a Baptist back then, and some of my friends and I had been energized by the Jesus Movement. We were ecstatic that our Jesus had made the cover of Time. In actuality, it was not the first time nor would it be the last time that Jesus graced the cover of that weekly news magazine. I thought it would be an interesting study, looking at the interplay between Christ and culture, to take a look at the representations of Jesus on the cover of Time magazine down through the years.

Jesus first made the cover of Time in on December 17, 1923 with a story about actors from Oberammergau's Passion Play, which has been performed in the Bavarian town every year since 1634. The actor portraying Christ that year was Anton Lang. Actors from the village of Oberammergau were touring a few U.S. cities that year.

For quite a while, Jesus made the cover of Time in typical greeting card format at Christmas time:

December 26, 1938
 December 24, 1945

December 29, 1947
December 25, 1950

December 28, 1959

December 24, 1951

On December 25, 1964, Jesus appears in a more stylized, avant-garde art presentation with a cover story about Christian renewal. The cover story is titled, "Christianity: the Servant Church," with a quotation from Revelation 21:5 "Behold, I make all things new."  Though it is at the Christmas season, this cover does not have that typical greeting card look. The artwork seems to look toward a metamorphosis.

*    *    *    *    *

On June 21, 1971, we find that Jesus has extricated himself from the Christmas greeting card format to become a classified as a revolutionary, as was noted earlier. He was making waves in southern California and across the country.

On October 25, 1971 another version of a radical Jesus was making waves, this time on Broadway, with a cover story about the rock musical Jesus Christ, Superstar. The play asked questions that were on the minds of many modern day people who could not rally behind a hippie Jesus or an evangelical Jesus, but who could not deny the impact of that singular remarkable life.

*    *    *    *    *

"Who was Jesus?" The cover story of this August 15, 1988 edition begins by addressing a controversial Hollywood representation: "In bygone centuries, an unorthodox vision like Martin Scorsese's might have prompted heresy trials and burnings at the stake. Perhaps even a quick crusade mounted by ragtag armies. In the summer of 1988, the preferred methods of resistance are picket lines, economic boycotts and angry appearances on talk shows. If the furor surrounding Scorsese's Last Temptation of Christ proves one thing, it is that in any era, seismic emotions are involved when people probe the nature of the man who is worshiped as God by well over a billion souls."
August 15, 1988
*    *    *    *    *

With the 1990s, America seems to be continuing to question, but also to search out the meaning of Jesus. The latest scholarly quest for the historical Jesus, the Jesus Seminar in Santa Rosa, California, is definitely making its mark and making waves in the religious community as well as in the media.

April 8, 1996
April 10 1995

December 16, 1996
December 20, 1998

The headline for the December 6, 1999 cover story reads: "Jesus' Second Millennium: A New Gospel --
A great novelist and biblical scholar examines what faith and historical research tell us after 2,000 years and emerges with his own apocryphal Gospel"

December 6, 1999

In April, 2001, Time examines what Jerusalem and the surrounding area would have looked like in Jesus' day. The June 16, 2003 European edition explores the changing role of Christianity in Europe. "It can't get a mention in the new EU constitution, but it is cropping up in the most unlikely places."

                   April 26, 2001                                                                                    June 16, 2003 

In 2004, Jesus makes the covers of Time at Easter and Christmas -- about as often as some people go to church -- but at least it's a presence, and it is twice in one year! Here we find renewed questions about the meaning of Christ's death and the significance of his birth.

December 13, 2004
April 12, 2004

In 2006, there is the image of Jesus peering through a torn cover, as it were, from an old painting bearing his visage. The topic of the April 26 cover story, however, is the mysterious and controversial Catholic organization, Opus Dei, which featured prominently in the best-selling thriller novel and cinematic production The Da Vinci Code

April 26, 2006

*    *    *    *    *

In April of 2013, it is not THE Jesus, the object of faith and devotion, that made the cover. This time it is Pastor Wilfredo de Jesus, pastor of the Assemblies of God megachurch in Chicago, New Life Covenant Ministries. The cover story headline reads:  "Evang√©licos! Seeking a break with the past, a quicker assimilation into the middle class and a closer relationship with God, Latinos are pouring into Protestant churches across the U.S."

While this is not a pictorial representation of Jesus, the cover does say something about the Christ of culture, how Jesus is represented in various forms, and how the changing culture in the U.S. may lead to new views of what this Jesus may look like on future covers of Time.

April 15, 2013


Monday, January 6, 2014

Monday Music: A Band Called Love Song

Near the epicenter of the Jesus Movement of the 1970s was a band called Love Song. To say that they were pioneers in contemporary Christian music would be to devalue what this group did. They were witnesses to a unique spiritual awakening. No one had ever before done Christian music the way they did, and no one has matched them to this day. They wrote their own songs bearing witness to life as they were seeing it emerge. There was no "Christian Music Industry" at the time. These were pure artists standing outside the establishment, with no ties to the corporate industry. They recorded two albums of original material and left a legacy in the process. "And the Wind Was Low" was one of my favorites. It is performed here be Love Song's lead vocalist, Chuck Girard along with a slide show of the band from that unique era on California's coast and a movement that reverberated across the country.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Saturday Haiku: Cardinal in Winter

   Some find their way by
        migration. Others live by
        steadfast endurance.

                                ~ CK


Photo: Male cardinal in Winter in Michigan
Credit: Moxfyre
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons


Friday, January 3, 2014

Top Ten Posts for 2013

If you look on the right hand panel of this blog page, you will see a running tally of the top ten most viewed posts for the month. I thought it would be interesting to go back and see what the top ten posts for 2013 were.  I have my own favorites, but what I prefer does not necessarily reflect what others are most interested in.

Here are the top ten most frequently viewed posts for Not Dark Yet in 2013:

  1. Writing Haiku  During the month of April, I always pay special attention to poetry since April in National Poetry Month. This past April I posted an entry with information about writing haiku, the Japanese poetic form with three lines and syllable allotment of five, seven, and five. I thought it would be a good way to get people involved in writing poetry who might not otherwise think of themselves as poets.  I was amazed that this one went ballistic, with well over 900 views.  Seeing that kind of interest in haiku motivated me to start a weekly feature on my blog, Saturday Haiku, in which I write a new haiku each week. 
  2. Are Our Lawmakers Capable of Passing Humane Laws?  I had already posted several pieces on immigration in 2012. This brief commentary was one I wrote after reading about an encounter that Alabama’s Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III had with some Latinos on the issue of immigration reform. 
  3. Where Love and Reason Dwell is a photographic essay I wrote after visiting the historic First Universalist Church of Camp Hill, Alabama. It was a wonderful visit to a place near my own hometown, although I had never encountered the grand old church until this year. 
  4. Everybody Knows (Leonard Cohen) was one of the Monday Music features with a video of Leonard Cohen from a concert in London. “Everybody knows the deal is rotten/ Old Black Joe’s still pickin’ cotton/ For your ribbons and bows…” 
  5. On the Waging of War is an essay presenting my anti-war stance. The essay was prompted by the increasing use of drones in military conflict. 
  6. Wednesdays with Dorothy: Making the Transition from Group Home to Apartment is from a series I did about my late friend Dorothy Burdette who spent half her life in an institution  (Partlow State School) before finding a new life in the community. 
  7. All Souls’ Day: A Time of Remembrance is a reflection on two friends who departed this life in 2013. 
  8. By the Waters is from my Saturday Haiku series. With each haiku I post, I always include a photograph from nature. This one featured a beautiful photo by Scott Wright. A lot of Scott’s friends saw this one which bumped it up to the top ten list.  
  9. An Evening with Garrison Keillor is my review of a very entertaining evening when Garrison Keillor came to Samford University with an event that was billed as “Garrison Keillor: A Brand New Retrospective.” 
  10. Recipes My Daughter Likes: Falafel  I posted several vegetarian recipes this year that are among my daughter’s favorites. This one got the most hits of all the recipes and was number ten on the most viewed posts for 2013.  

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