Sunday, July 26, 2009


I must ask your indulgence, my loyal readers, for the next couple of weeks. I will be out of town for two of three weeks, and the one week in which I am in town will be spent discharging about a zillion obligations. In short, I don’t have much time for coherent blog posts.

That said, sometimes life isn’t coherent. So here are some random thoughts on this Sunday, July 26, 2009.

1. Today is Mick Jagger’s birthday. He turns 66. Let’s hear it for the front man of the Greatest Rock ‘n Roll band of all time. Don’t believe that assessment? Just listen to Beggars’ Banquet, Let it Bleed, Sticky Fingers and Exile on Main Street -- all studio albums, all released within a four year period (1968-1972). The song writing quality and musicality on those albums is stunning. But what is especially stunning is the sheer quantity of the great songs. When you realize that the Stones produced high-quality albums for a few years prior to Beggars Banquet, and for several years after Exile, it becomes awfully hard for any other band to compare favorably to the Stones. Yes, I haven’t forgotten the Beatles, and the work they did in the mid-late 60s, but the Stones did it just as well in their prime, and they excelled for a much longer period (1965-1978) than the Beatles even existed (1960-1970).

Anyway, whether your “fave” is the Stones, Beatles, Led Zeppelin, or Debby Boone … please join me in wishing a Happy Birthday to Mick!

2. Tomorrow, your humble narrator turns 49. No sweat. But a year from tomorrow … I’ll need a serious drink.

3. Tomorrow, also, is the 353rd anniversary of the day that the Amsterdam rabbinate excommunicated Spinoza. That excommunication is known as “the cherem.” Due to my advanced age, I would have forgotten to mention that, but my daughter – the author of the (National History Day) award-winning play, Spinoza Remembered -- reminded me.

4. Speaking of Spinoza, I had a great time teaching my Spinoza Workshop at the Southeastern Unitarian-Universalist Summer Institute (SUUSI) in Blacksburg, VA. I’ve been going there for three years and enjoy it more each year. (UUs tend to be both intellectual AND open-minded – a pretty rare combo these days.) Next year, I’m going to offer two workshops: one will be a four-day (eight hour) Intro to Spinoza, and the other will be a three-day (six hour) Advanced Spinoza. If you live anywhere close to Virginia, enjoy hearing folk music made by a number of professional musicians, and are interested in learning about an amazing philosopher, come to SUUSI!

5. Being on the road and on vacation, I haven’t kept up very well with the news. But I did hear something yesterday about a New York Times article reporting that Hamas was renouncing violence against Israel. Today, however, I read the article and was much less impressed. Yes, Hamas says that they have suspended their use of rockets from Gaza. And yes, that is a good thing. But, to quote a Hamas leader, “armed resistance is still important and legitimate.”

From what I can tell, the Palestinian world today is all about resistance. Israel’s occupation has become so in-your-face that the Palestinians are left with no other option. The only question is, should the resistance be violent or non-violent? As long as Hamas is advocating the former, they remain part of the problem, not the solution.

6. Are you looking for still more evidence that the anthropomorphic, Biblical God doesn't exist? Here's exhibit 56,963,275: look what happened to 59 year-old Tom Watson, on the verge of making history, on the final hole of the British Open. He choked, and then looked his age in the playoff. And now, once again, old people will continue to feel old. Adonai, if you're out there, that's just cruel! (See, it's not a problem with Spinoza's God because nobody says that Spinoza's God loves us. "He lacked not material for creating all things from the highest to the lowest degree of perfection; or, to speak more accurately, the laws of his nature were so comprehensive as to suffice for the production of everything that can be conceived by an infinite intellect." I see. So THAT'S why Tom Watson blew it.)

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