Sunday, November 04, 2012

A pretty cool explanation of the meaning behind the lyrics of Mumford And Sons' song Sigh No More:

It's been almost 15 years since I had the great fortune to play the role of Signior Benedick in a regional theater production of "Much Ado About Nothing". But, when I heard the first line to "Sigh No More" ("Serve God, love me, and mend") I knew it immediately.

Many (but not all) of the lines to "Sigh No More" are taken directly from "Much Ado About Nothing" (MAAN)

If only one or two lines of the song were from MAAN, it could be considered "artistic license". But more than half of the lines are pretty much direct quotes from MAAN.

So, it makes sense to first know a little about the plot of the play. While there are several sub-plots, the primary story follows Benedick and Beatrice.

Benedick and Beatrice have known each other for many years. (Beatrice: "You always end with a jade's trick: I know you of old.")

Benedick, a veteran soldier, is an avowed bachelor ... as is Beatrice.

But, they are not just common acquaintances. There are hints of an earlier relationship between them ... one that did not end so well. Perhaps with infidelity on the part of Benedick:
DON PEDRO: Come, lady, come; you have lost the heart of Signior Benedick.
BEATRICE : Indeed, my lord, he lent it me awhile; and I gave him use for it,
a double heart for his single one: marry, once before he won it of me
with false dice, therefore your grace may well say I have lost it.

They have an obvious attraction to each other that all can see. However, they are constantly jibing and parrying with each other. There is a "merry war" between them.

Benedick starts the play railing against love: "I would I could find in my heart that I had not a hard heart; for, truly, I love none." And "I will live a bachelor."

As does Beatrice: "I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow than a man swear he loves me."

Their friends and family conspire to make them fall in love with each other (or at least, to admit that they already ARE in love with each other) by simply letting each one know that the other secretly loves them.

It is while Benedick's friends are in the process of tricking him that Balthasar sings his song:
Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more,
Men were deceivers ever,
One foot in sea and one on shore,
To one thing constant never:
Then sigh not so, but let them go,
And be you blithe and bonny,
Converting all your sounds of woe
Into Hey nonny, nonny.

Benedick then "overhears" (by design) his friend's conversation that Beatrice loves him and she is too proud/frightened to tell him. His friends leave him to ponder this and he delivers a pretty great Shakespearean monologue with lines like:
"Love me! Why, it must be requited!"
"I may chance have some odd quirks and remnants of wit broken on me, because I have
railed so long against marriage: but doth not the appetite alter?"

Beatrice's friends and family do the same thing to her ... and it works just as well:
"Benedick, love on; I will requite thee!"
"If thou dost love, my kindness shall incite thee to bind our loves up in a holy band"

Claudio (Benedick's friend) and Hero (Beatrice's cousin) are the young lovers in the play. They are engaged to be married. On the wedding day, Claudio arrives and essentially calls off the wedding, claiming that Hero has been unfaithful ... that he saw her the night before, at her window, with another man. This is all a choreographed ruse perpetrated by Don John, the "villain" of the play. (But nobody figures this out until later on).

Beatrice is heart-broken for her cousin, and angry that Claudio would defame Hero. Benedick attempts to comfort Beatrice and eventually confesses: "I do love nothing in the world so well as you: is not that strange?" Beatrice then confesses that she loves Benedick, and things get really interesting ...

BEATRICE: You have stayed me in a happy hour: I was about to protest I loved you.
BENEDICK: And do it with all thy heart.
BEATRICE: I love you with so much of my heart that none is left to protest.
BENEDICK: Come, bid me do any thing for thee.
BEATRICE: Kill Claudio.

(As an aside here, that line above is one of the reasons why people are still performing this guy's plays 400 years after he died. "I love you", "Prove it ... kill your best friend")

Benedick tries to calm Beatrice down ... to explain that there must be some kind of mistake, that Claudio is not this evil person that he appears to be. Beatrice will hear nothing of it. She is angered that she even needs to ask someone else (a man) to take care of this for her: "O God, that I were a man! I would eat his heart in the marketplace."

Eventually, her grief and emotion are too much for Benedick to bear and he agrees to fight his friend to the death.

Benedick challenges Claudio: "You are a villain; I jest not: I will make it good how you dare, with what you dare, and when you dare." (NOTE: Benedick is a much more seasoned warrior than Claudio and he will dispatch him quickly. Benedick and Claudio know this.)

Luckily, the world's dumbest town sheriff (Constable Dogberry) stumbles upon some of Don John's men bragging about the treachery they performed (framing Hero). Therefore, everyone discovers that Hero was not unfaithful after all.

Word of this discovery has not yet reached Benedick and Beatrice. He meets with Beatrice to confirm that he has challenged Claudio. They have a playful moment where they once again express love for each other. But there is a serious undertone as well ... Benedick knowing that he will have to deal with Claudio, and Beatrice knowing that her cousin Hero has taken ill from the stress and grief she feels. This all leads to the following exchange:
BENEDICK: ...how doth your cousin?
BEATRICE: Very ill.
BENEDICK: And how do you?
BEATRICE: Very ill too.
BENEDICK: Serve God, love me and mend.

This is an incredibly gentle, loving moment. And, it can be thought of as a sort of "emotional climax" for the play. Until now, all of the declarations of love and hate between Beatrice and Benedick were grand statements, sweeping gestures. Here it is simple, basic, perfect ... "I will protect you".

And amazingly, the very NEXT line of the play is delivered by a handmaiden who runs in to inform Beatrice and Benedick that: "...it is proved my Lady Hero hath been falsely accused, the prince and Claudio mightily abused; and Don John is the author of all!"

So in the end, Claudio marries Hero and Benedick marries Beatrice. This is where Benedick says (to Claudio) "live unbruised" and also "we are friends".

Everyone rails at Benedick (the professed bachelor is now getting married).
He defends his position as best he can:
"In brief, since I do purpose to marry, I will think nothing to any
purpose that the world can say against it; and therefore never flout
at me for what I have said against it; for man is a giddy thing,
and this is my conclusion."

The play has been a journey for Benedick ... to understand the nature of love.
He is given several lengthy monologues on the subject and spends much time debating the nature of love and whether it really has a roll in his life. But, in the end, it is the moment when he says "Serve God, love me, and mend" where he realizes the simplicity of it. Love is impossible to describe. Impossible to understand. Impossible to control. Impossible to ignore. Love just IS. For man is a giddy thing.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Something to ponder


“Value yourself. The only people who appreciate a doormat are people with dirty shoes.” Leo Buscaglia

Friday, September 21, 2012

Heartbreaking.

YouTube has a lot of really dumb stuff on it. Mostly involving cats. :D (I watch anyways)

 But sometimes you see a Youtube video that shakes you to your very core. In the below video, a comedian talks about a tragic situation in his life that involved his two year old daughter. At the same time, he was being invited to the Tonight Show to be the comedian and then invited back because he did so well. So on one hand his professional life is booming - he's funny, he's moving up in the comedy world. On the other hand, his personal life is falling apart - his daughter is sick with cancer, he has medical bills to pay, his car is about to repossessed. So he talks about how his material started getting darker and darker due to what was going on in his life but his agent told him he needed to keep it light and funny because that's what people want to hear. It's a heartbreaking story. And it's hard to watch a man break down when he's supposed to be "entertaining" the audience. The audience is kind to him though, which makes things better.

 All of this reminded me of the ministry "profession." In a similar fashion, a minister who is up on stage, whether preaching or leading music or whatever, is supposed to keep it together. They are seen as the experts in God and how to live the Christian life, so their job is to reassure the congregation that it can be done, that all you need to do is follow these certain steps or read this certain Bible passage or sing these kind of songs, and everything will be just fine. Keep it light, keep things joyful, point to the blessings and the promises in the Bible.

We don't want to see the person up on stage struggling. We certainly don't want them to let us down by showing that they aren't perfect, that not everything in their life is peachy, that they wrestle with doubt, that bad things happen to them, that they don't have all the answers, that their prayers sometimes seem to fall on deaf ears, that their family members get cancer, that they have fights with their spouse, that they are tempted, that they take medication for depression, that some days they don't feel like praying, that they question their calling, that they have insecurities...that they are human. Is it any wonder that the pressures of acting like one has everything together all the time leads to an alarming number of ministers quitting their profession, leaving the church altogether? 

Just some thoughts rattling around in my brain. I don't have the answer. But I do know that I struggle with some of the above stuff. And I try not to let those things leak into what I do on Sunday mornings. But sometimes they do. And I think that it is as much my responsibility to not act like a superhuman Jesus Junior as it is for people to let me be who God has called me to be: a flawed human who is looking to Jesus for strength, hope, healing, and redemption.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

You'd Be Surprised....

Hello there, neglected blog. Yikes it has been way too long. One of my favorite websites is called People Of The Second Chance. The founders of the site are Mike Foster, one of the founders of xxxchurch.com, and Jud Wilhite, pastor of Central Christian Church in Vegas (one of my favorite churches). I like the stories that are on this website. They remind me that we are not alone in our struggles. The things you do...the things I do...the things that those around us do...there are others doing the same thing. The secrets we keep buried, the past we keep hidden, the stuff we are presently facing - guess what? Someone is going through it too. And you may be surprised if you knew who they were. Which brings me to the latest one I read. It's called You'd Be Surprised and it is a reminder to me that one, I should stay away from the judging and condemning part of life that we fall so easily into, because you never know who you know who may be struggling, and two, it is really a bad idea if you do find yourself with a condemning attitude to tell someone who is with you, because they may be facing the same struggle you are condemning. A graphic I posted on my Facebook wall said it well: "Be kind, for everyone you know is facing a hard battle."

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Bitter Journey




I thought this was a pretty neat interpretation of the Passion of Jesus, although the music is a little annoying.

check it out and I hope it helps you as you get ready for the Holy Week.

A Franciscan Blessing/Benediction

May God bless us with discomfort
At easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships
So that we may live from deep within our hearts.

May God bless us with anger
At injustice, oppression, and exploitation of God's creations
So that we may work for justice, freedom, and peace.

May God bless us with tears
To shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger, and war,
So that we may reach out our hands to comfort them and
To turn their pain into joy.

And may God bless us with just enough foolishness
To believe that we can make a difference in the world,
So that we can do what others claim cannot be done:
To bring justice and kindness to all our children and all our neighbors who are poor.

Amen.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Some Days You're The Hammer...

and some days, you're the nail.

Gotta feel bad for the goaltender on this one. Being scored on from 180 feet out makes for a tough day.

But honestly, who hasn't had days like this one?

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Today's Reading From Reliving The Passion

Every year, I attempt to read through a book called Reliving The Passion by Walt Wangerin, Jr. It is supposed to coincide with the Lenten season, and it is truly a remarkable journey. The problem in the past has been because it was only in physical book form, at some point every year during this time, I would lose it.

Thankfully, there is now an e-book edition, so I can take it wherever I go and read it whenever I can.

Today's chapter is wonderful, so I thought I would share it. The scripture reading is Mark 14:1-9, where the woman took the jar of ointment and poured it over Jesus' hair.

--

Woman!

What a blessed contrast you make to the rulers in Jerusalem! They would preserve their power; you come with no power at all. They vaunt themselves; you have - except for one remarkable characteristic - no self at all.

What is your name that I might address my praise to you? I don't know. Where you someone's mother? I don't know. Were you old, bent by years of experience? Were you a prostitute? Or else praiseworthy for purity and virtue? Were you poor, the ointment and impossible expense for you? Or rich, with easy access to a hundred such flasks? I don't know. Mark never says. I know nothing about you save this: that you anointed the head of my Lord.

Ah, but that's enough to know! That deed alone is your identity, your entire being: your self. It memorializes you forever. "What she has done," says Jesus, "will be told in memory of her." Woman, now you are that deed, neither more or less than that deed. I marvel at you. I pray God that I might do - and therefore be - the same.

For what was your gesture? An act of pure love for Jesus particularly. It was an act so completely focused upon the Christ that not a dram of worldly benefit was gained thereby. Nothing could justify this spillage of some three hundred days' wages, except love alone. The rulers who sought to kill Jesus were motivated by a certain reasonable logic; but your prodigality appears altogether unreasonable - except for reasons of love. The disciples, in fact, were offended by an act that produced nothing, accomplished nothing, fed no poor, served no need. They reproached you as a wastrel.

They were offended by the absurd, an act devoted absolutely to love, to love alone.

But Jesus called it "beautiful."

Who else anointed our High Priest, as priests should surely be anointed in office? Who else anointed our King, the son of David? Who else anointed the body of our Savior for burial? No one but you. I don't know that you consciously recognized these offices of the Lord; but love instinctively sees the truth. Love enhances and names in truth. No one else anointed him and by that gesture declared him Messiah, the Christ. The act, therefore, was more than beautiful. It was rare and rich with meaning.

And since the act is all there is of you, since humility has reduced you to this single thing alone and now you are no more nor less than your love for the Lord, you yourself are beautiful and rare and rich with meaning.

You are the beauty of faithful loving.

To those who do not truly love, you will ever be ephemeral or else an offense, either a shadow or an idiot. To me you are a model. You gave up all; you became nothing at all save love for the Lord; and exactly so you are remembered. Here, "wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world," is love's monument!

You, nameless, anonymous, lovely indeed: thank you.