Voices from Russia

Monday, 25 November 2013

John Tavener: An Obituary

00 Requiescat in Pace. 19.11.12

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John Tavener, born on 28 January 1944, one of the leading composers of his generation, died on 12 November, aged 69. Tavener’s music underwent a transformation. In his youth, when he had something of the playboy image about him, the Beatles championed him, but his conversion to Russian Orthodoxy led him to write works that were contemplative and spiritual by nature. Like many composers, Tavener’s career had its highs and lows. The première of his rhapsody for cello and strings, The Protecting Veil, at the Promenade concerts in 1989 became one of the best-selling classical recordings ever. However, that was only nine years after a requiem he wrote, based on poems about the victims of Stalin, provoked a steady stream of people to head for the exit at the Royal Albert Hall at the Proms.

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Tavener was an instantly-recognisable figure. At 6ft 6in, he sported shoulder-length, blond hair and had skin like parchment. Sadly, he suffered ill-health throughout his adult life. As a child, he learned to play the piano without formal tuition. He spent his summer holidays in Sussex, where at the age of 12 he went to Glyndebourne and heard Stravinsky’s Canticum Sacrum ad honorem Sancti Marci Nominis (Canticle to Honour the Name of St Mark), which he regarded as the pinnacle of 20th-century music, “The piece woke me up and made me want to be a composer”.

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From 1962, he attended the Royal Academy of Music, where he studied composition under Lennox Berkeley. He first came to prominence with an oratorio, The Whale, based on the biblical story of Jonah. It had its first performance at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in 1968 during the inaugural concert of the London Sinfonietta. The work required eight percussionists, who had to move between drums, bells, gongs, a football rattle, and amplified metronomes. For five minutes, the score allowed the musicians to play whatever they wanted. This captivated the Beatles’ drummer, Ringo Starr, and his colleague, John Lennon, arranged for its recording on the group’s record label, Apple.

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Tavener joined the Orthodox Church in 1977. He wanted to write an accompaniment to an eighth-century liturgical poem, but first he had to get permission from one of the translators, Mother Thekla, the abbess of a Greek Orthodox monastery in North Yorkshire. In time, she provided the libretti of several of his works. On his 50th birthday in 1994, the BBC devoted four days to a festival of Tavener’s works, transmitted from Westminster Abbey, Westminster Cathedral, and the Barbican. In 1997, his Song for Athene was part of the Westminster Abbey funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales. One of his short works débuted in the Millennium Dome on New Year’s Eve, 1999; a larger scale oratorio, dedicated to the Prince of Wales, received its first performance in St Paul’s Cathedral in 2000.

25 November 2013

Richard Anthony Baker

The Stage

http://www.thestage.co.uk/features/obituaries/2013/11/john-tavener/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=john-tavener

 

25 November 2013. The Cabinet Steps Up With the Straight Stuff on “Christian Patriarchy”… It’s BS for the Unwashed

01 busted

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Got the following from the Cabinet, and I’m not going to add much at the end. Again, someone else says it better than I could. That’s the way it is, sometimes…

BMD

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I’ve been following this scandal for the past several weeks (more details here). To make a long story short, Doug Phillips, who founded Vision Forum, a group that promotes “Christian patriarchy“, had to resign after an “inappropriate relationship” with a young woman. The “ministry” is in the process of closing. This sort of Fundie group gives all Christians a bad name. They’re for men being totally over women, homeschooling, “quiverfull” (no birth control at all), courtship/betrothal (parents essentially choose the child’s spouse), young marriage, no college for women, women never working, and daughters stay at home until married. Phillips was never ordained, yet taught in his congregation such things that a woman’s male relative had to hand her communion (good background here). Phillips was in the Tea Party (this alone is enough to make one pause, without adding the rest). This happened in Texas. Surprised?

Google “Christian patriarchy” and you’ll be horrified. Homeschoolers Anonymous is a good resource for stories of those who’ve escaped. Why does this concern me, as Russian Orthodox? Primarily, because I see this sort of rot and rubbish amongst some Orthodox. This sort of thing seems very rare amongst “cradle” Orthodox. It’s the konvertsy. When they leave their Fundie congregations… for whatever reason… they bring some of these practises with them. If one of these Formerly Fundie Families, now Orthodox, finds their way from a konvertsy parish to a normal Orthodox parish, they shouldn’t be surprised to hear someone ask if they’re Amish.

Just as the Homeschoolers Anonymous blog seeks to spread awareness amongst Protestants, I’m doing this to spread awareness among run of the mill Orthodox. A common reason for home-schooling seems to be to “protect” one’s children from the “evil” public schools. These children seem to be “protected” from real life, instead. They don’t learn about interacting with real peers and about how to get along with others from different backgrounds. Of course, there’ll always be things children are taught that parents don’t agree with. Then, parents should do some supplemental teaching at home. Good parents are always involved in their children’s education. Both Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism seem to think that there are a number of good things from Protestantism. Tithing and evangelism are two of them. There’s nothing wrong with urging a parishioner to give generously, but why need it be a specific percentage? I know some Protestants so bound by the ten percent tithe that they won’t give anything beyond it. The best “evangelism” is simply living as a good Christian. Didn’t St Serafim Sarovsky say something along those lines?

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St Serafim said, “Save your own soul and thousands will be saved about you”. I agree, emphatically. We have no need of aping Proddie “evangelism”… Bonhoeffer would’ve called it cheap grace, and be right! Our Lord Christ isn’t our friend… he isn’t a politician or magnate… he isn’t a commodity. Why would we “sell” Him in like manner, then? If our lives aren’t a “testimony”… all our words are in vain, and, in fact, counterproductive. Here’s a quote from Bonhoeffer that I like…

Cheap grace is the deadly enemy of our Church. We fight today for costly grace. Cheap grace means grace sold on the market like cheapjacks’ wares. The sacraments, the forgiveness of sin, and the consolations of religion are thrown away at cut prices. Grace is represented as the Church’s inexhaustible treasury, from which she showers blessings with generous hands, without asking questions or fixing limits. Grace without price; grace without cost! The essence of grace, we suppose, is that the account has been paid in advance; and, because it has been paid, everything can be had for nothing. Since the cost was infinite, the possibilities of using and spending it are infinite. What would grace be if it were not cheap?

Oppose all forms of Proddie infiltration into the Church, but fight “evangelisation” and “tithing” the most. Both are evil, but the latter is doubly so… it sets up a two-tier membership that the Church always opposed. In fact, it’s a form of Gnosticism (tithers are “more holy” than the rest of us are… that’s where the internal logic of it leads). The Church has no need for “instruction”… indeed, how can the blind lead the sighted? Proddies must either leave all of their sectarian baggage behind… or leave us, for that would be honest, at least. What concord hath Christ with Belial?

My thanks to the Cabineteer who sent this… I can’t think of everything, and youse guys can sometimes put it better than I could have. Remember, in the Church no one is saved alone… it’s NEVER “me n’ Jayzuss”. We’re all saved together or none of us is saved at all. God offers the onion to all of us

BMD

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