If that Paul can do it why can’t this one?

To my surprise, Paul McCartney’s first solo hit, “Uncle Albert” was made up of pieces from unfinished songs in the last days of the Beatles. There are 12 different sections. When I mentioned this to a musician he said, “They do that all the time.” I replied, “I knew Kid Rock ripped off “Werewolves in London” in his 2007 hit “All Summer Long”. I had abided it because he sang of summer in my northern Michigan albeit 20 years after I. Come to find out he also ripped off “Sweet Home Alabama” (songfacts.com). Well, if songwriters can weave scraps together, why can’t writers?

How about this nugget laying dormant in my Easter file for 30 years? “And consequently overgrown and emaciated persons need not fear that they shall be in heaven of such a figure as they would not be even in this world if they could help it” (Augustine, City of God, XXII, 19, NPNF, p. 497). Isn’t that a hoot? Augustine says that the too fat and the too skinny need not worry that they will look like that in heaven.

How about this more recent tidbit? Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev gave a speech to the international community gathered in Moscow in which he said that Communism was the invincible force of this century. On the eve of his inauguration President- Elect JFK sent a copy of the speech to his closest aides with a note that said, “‘Read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest…'” (Vietnam War: An Intimate History, 50). This tells us two things: Kennedy was “Catholic” enough to remember the Collect for the Word. And if the words of a Communist oligarch are worth paying close attention to how much more so the Word of God?

This next one comes from Chesterton. The phrase “open a book at random” goes by the name of “Sors Virgiliana; [Latin: the lottery of Virgil] and it is an interesting game, though it (like most human actions) has its “dark side”. It has been used as a fortune-telling device, yes, even with the Bible. Here’s one of the few GKC references to it: “It was a sort of sors virgiliana applied to the Bible; a practice not unknown among Protestants though open to their criticism, one would think, as being rather a superstition of pagans. Anyhow it seems almost the opposite of searching the Scriptures to open them up at random; but Saint Francis certainly opened them up at random.” Allegedly finding the great texts about poverty in them (Chesterton, Saint Francis, 236). If you know Chesterton, that’s a lot for him to admit.

Finally, from a 1951 book, Origins of Totalitarianism. Where did I get this quote from? My mother must have read it while I was in utero. Now that would be something if what the mother read the baby knew? That would give a whole bigger meaning to the “inwardly digest” part of the Collect for the Word. I saved this one because although it has nothing to do with Climate Change; it has everything to do with it. “Totalitarian propaganda raised ideological scientifically and its technique of making statements in the form of predictions to a height of efficiency of method and absurdity of content because, demagogically speaking, there is hardly a better way to avoid discussion than by releasing an argument from the control of the present and by saying only the future reveals its merits” (Arendt, Hanna, The Origins of Totalitarianism, 346). You are to fear today what won’t be here till some time in the future.

We’ll I’m almost 200 words over the magic 500 readable ones, and I’ve only taken down 3 of my 25 diamonds in the rough. I didn’t even get to the riddle Adams proposed to Jefferson: how do you prevent riches from producing luxury and luxury producing effeminacy? Still my words are deeper than that Paul’s. Deeper but not as memorable as his tune.

About Paul Harris

Pastor Harris retired from congregational ministry after 40 years in office on 31 December 2023. He is now devoting himself to being a husband, father, and grandfather. He still thinks cenobitic monasticism is overrated and cave dwelling under.
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