Thursday, August 21, 2014

Tony Banks on His Classical Music (and Genesis Reunion?)

The "classic five" from left to right: Peter Gabriel, Steve Hackett,
Mike Rutherford, Phil Collins, Tony Banks
From dark, sad, and angry news the past couple of days to a lighter, happier moment. I'm always ready to discuss the possibility of a Genesis reunion, no matter how slight the possibility.

As a sign of my hope, I'm reusing a photo released by the band not long ago, but hey, it's a great pix and demonstrates the residual mutual affection among them all even though they're not active, and some aren't "officially" in the band. I've never totally bought that for multiple reasons. Once you're in Genesis, you're in the family. It's like being a sibling.

Anyway, all that buildup to share this little article from Express in the UK interviewing Genesis keyboardist Tony Banks about his latest classical music ventures. Good to see, and you just knew that reunion prospects would come up. Tony pretty much reiterated what we knew. He's up for it. Steve's up for it. Mike's probably a go. The wild cards are Peter and Phil. I hope Phil has recovered his health well enough to do it should it be decided. He injured his neck and back on the 2007 Genesis reunion, and because of numbness and pain in his hands and back, has not been able to play drums or keyboards much. When he did his most recent album, "Going Back," he did manage to play drums but had to tape the sticks to his hands. Genesis' music can be quite complex in the drum department. He could always opt to bring Chester Thompson or Nir Z. along for a tour to supplement, but I suspect the general attitude would be to keep it just the core band itself without tour musicians. Just a guess. But Phil's being physically up to a reunion would be key.

And there's always Peter. Love the guy, but he has always been the most reluctant one to reform even for a one-off tour. Not for any personal animosities, but in his view, it took him years to be recognized as a talent in his own right separate from Genesis, and when you get involved in a Genesis tour, things do tend to metastasis and grow, and can involve quite a large time commitment. Even Phil was concerned about that in 2007, and insisted on holding it to 20 shows in Europe, and 20 shows in the US.

As reluctant Peter has been, I think he still hit the nail on the head in a recent interview. He said (and I'm paraphrasing), "Most bands of our generation have lost a few members. We're lucky we're all still around. So one does have to be mindful of the clock."

So, here's hoping for the best and the reunion goes beyond a simple BBC documentary. But I'd also rather have them alive, whole, healthy, and friends instead of something going wrong on a tour. They've done enough over the past 40 plus years for me to simply say, "Thanks, guys, for decades of great music and lots of fun. God bless."

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Addendum on James Foley's Beheaders

While I rarely do two posts in one day, this is the day for a second one. An observation I hope and pray more people make.

First, here's an update on the James Foley murder by ISIS thugs. To the right is the image that accompanies the Fox story on this tragedy.

I note with interest some of the footage posted on Youtube and other places by ISIS. While there are a few on there with young children barely out of their tweens yelling about how they support ISIS and want to come and kill Americans, quite a few also are with people totally garbed in black with their faces and heads covered, including the murderer getting ready to behead James. My heart breaks as I look at that photo, but it has the opposite impact on me than the one hoped for by the murderers. It makes me all the more determined to press our government to pursue justice with these evil individuals one by one.

ISIS makes quite a show of calling Americans "cowards." They disdain our bombing from the air, daring our soldiers to come in on the ground and fight. (Be careful for what you ask. You might get it). I find it ironic that they're the ones who don't dare show their faces and hide behind masks. I find it ironic that James is kneeling with his hands tied behind his back, not able to fight his attacker. If he had been free to fight back, he'd probably have cleaned the guy's plow.

ISIS needs to think twice before daring American combat troops to get into this more fully. Once the full might of American military power is unleashed and the full wrath of the American people is roused, we tend to get the job done and then some. If our soldiers have to come over there with boots on the ground, they will. With overwhelming force, and they will do what they have to do to end the threat.

And they won't be wearing masks or beheading helpless, unarmed people.

Enough is Enough!

ISIS Must Be Stopped

I was about to subtitle this "ISIS Goes a Step Too Far." But that certainly doesn't fit. ISIS—the Islamic Terror "State" now trying to overrun Syria, Iraq, and who knows where else—went too far long ago with its murderous genocide campaign in northern Iraq. And now, it appears they've beheaded another journalist. Our prayers and condolences go out to the family of James Foley if the barbaric beheading is indeed confirmed.

While I am angry and disgusted at this act, I am even more angry and disgusted at the Obama Administration. I expect terrorist thugs to act like terrorist thugs. It's even more outrageous when said terrorist thugs try to gain the power and international standing of a state. I suspect ISIS ultimately has in mind trying to reclaim Muhammed's former conquests even into Western Europe in establishing their new caliphate. Even if they never advance beyond the Middle East, they have committed enough crimes against humanity that global action against them is fully justified. The U.S. needs to start it if no one else will.

I have never been one to call for war or armed conflict if a way can be found to avoid it. The Lord Jesus said "Blessed are the peacemakers." However, God's Word also gives human governments the authority to bear the sword for the express purpose of restraining evildoers. It's in Romans 13 if you want to look it up.

If our president was doing his job, the full weight of the U.S. Armed Forces would be raining destruction on the heads of these thugs far beyond pinprick strikes. The Pentagon doctrine used to be "swift, overwhelming force" and beyond that, "Unconditional Surrender." In defeating ISIS and those with their mindset, you're going beyond simply avenging the death of James Foley or other innocent bystanders in this situation. You're eliminating an evil that, if unchecked, will cause far more death, destruction and sorrow down the road. Part of defeating beasts like this involves making the price of further aggression way too high.

There is also more to this battle than simply armed defense. It is also a spiritual battle for truth against what the Apostle Paul called "doctrines of demons." Pray for our faithful Christian brothers and sisters in these regions. The more hearts won to Christ, the less there will be to strap on bombs, commit genocide against unarmed Christians and other religious groups, and behead more journalists. And lest you think there is a contradiction in what I am writing, there isn't. General Douglas MacArthur understood this in World War II. Along with his requests to Washington for the military resources to win on the battlefield, he also requested that missionaries be sent.

Faithful, committed, Bible-believing Christians do not start wars of aggression. Keep in mind also that through the centuries, lots of wars were fought in Jesus' name that He would not have endorsed. Defensive wars to stop the wicked are not wars of which He would disapprove, at least the way I understand Scripture.

Pray tonight for the grieving, and for the liberation of the oppressed. And pray that these killers will be brought to swift, final justice.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Tuesday Throwback

All Hail Manual Typewriters!

After several days of rather grim news, I think we need to lighten up a little. I happened to see this very old ad from the early 1900s, and naturally, it struck a warm place in my heart. (Check out the top of this blog and the noirish banner for a clue)

It used to be a running joke at my office that people could hear me typing on the computer in the next county. You see, back in days of yore when I started out in radio, we were using manual typewriters. The only ones in the station who had electric typewriters were the secretarial staff and accounting. All the rest of us had old Royal manuals. I had a year of typing in high school, and that was on manual typewriters. I might have taken Typing II and used an electric, but the memory's gotten foggy.

For the sake of the computer, I have tried to substantially lighten my touch and not bang on the keyboard so hard. But I still have relapses. A friend of mine surprised me by showing up at my office last year with an old Royal manual he picked up for nothing. A radio station was getting rid of them, and knowing my soft spot for the things, he grabbed it and brought it to me.

And yes, once I have the time, it will be cleaned, oiled, given a new ribbon, and will be used. Some traditions must be kept alive.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Jeremiah and John Calvin

As often noted, these days I do not have anywhere near the time for reading as I would like. But I try to squeeze in snippets of things in between crises for edification and pondering. Such pondering often takes place in the car when I have to commute back and forth. I have an hour each way, so it's good time to ponder.

Today, I happened to glance at John Calvin's commentary on Jeremiah the Prophet, namely the section dealing with Jeremiah's prophecy against King Zedekiah. The Lord sent a word to Jeremiah—a word for both the king and the nation. The king didn't take too kindly to it, because the Lord was warning of coming judgment over the nation's sins and unfaithfulness to God. Zedekiah promptly threw the prophet in prison. Here is what Calvin had to say, and it's very profound. You can shut up the prophets, but you can't silence the Word of God . . .

We ought at the same time to bear in mind what I have already said, that though the ungodly sought in all ways wholly to extinguish the Word of God, they yet did not attain what they wished; for God broke through all hindrances, and continued the course of His Word notwithstanding all their attempts. And this ought to be carefully noticed, for we see at this day all sorts of contrivances made by the wicked to impede the course of celestial truth. Let then this history be remembered, that though Jeremiah was a captive, yet his word was free and his tongue at liberty, as Paul also boasts, that though he was bound with chains, yet God's Word was not bound (2 Timothy 2:9). 

Then the reason is added why he was shut up in prison—he had dared to prophesy against the city and the king himself. It is no wonder that the king's mind was exasperated when Jeremiah boldly said he would come into the hands of his enemies, for he had not only spoken of the ruin of the city, but also of the fall of the king; he had said that he would be brought before King Nebuchadnezzar, and be led to Babylon, and be there until God visited him. We know how delicate are the ears of kings; it was then no wonder Zedekiah became incensed against Jeremiah; but yet he ought to have been softened and humbled when he found that this oracle had come from God. That he still kept Jeremiah a prisoner proves his madness and stupidity, for he had no regard for God. 

This was the end of one of John Calvin's lectures in Geneva, for he appended this prayer at the end:

Grant, Almighty God, that since we cease not daily to provoke Thy wrath against us, we may be warned by Thy Word and repent, and so humble ourselves before Thee that we may anticipate the rigor of Your judgment, and that being also chastised by Thy hand, we may not become hardened, but be submissive to Thee and teachable, and so profit under Thy discipline, that being at length wholly devoted to Thee, we may have no other object than to glorify Thy holy name, until we shall become partakers of that glory which thine only begotten Son has obtained for us. Amen.

How often do we read Old Testament passages such as this—assuming we bother to read God's Word at all—and easily dismiss it as a warning for another day and another time. In reality, while yes—this does have an immediate context to the days of Jeremiah and Israel being carted off to Babylon—it also has wider application. God still watches the affairs of this world, and He will bring nations to account. Judgment also begins with the House of God, (1 Peter 4:17). Those of us who name the name of our Lord and Savior need to remember Who we are representing and why. America is not guaranteed eternal existence as a nation, and we who call ourselves believers will not be spared discipline if we "forget our first love."

If you want to see sometime just how far apostasy has gotten, check out The Christian Post online. Just today, a well known Christian singer revealed her lesbianism, and there are other stories from time to time that show a heartbreaking trend away from biblical truth. I don't mean to suggest The Christian Post itself is apostate—they are merely chronicling what is going on in the wider Christian world day by day. This in and of itself was prophesied in Scripture, that in the last days there would be a huge apostasy, or "departure" from the faith.

It's bad now. And it will get a whole lot worse before the Lord's return. May He hasten His coming for His own, and may we who remain faithful keep our lamps lit!