Two columns by Quin Hillyer at PJ Media;

How do we know when the message is from God? (re: The Annunciation)

The usual response to the Annunciation — the subject of this week’s Gospel, in which the angel Gabriel tells the virgin Mary that she will bear a son,and Mary welcomes the message — is to sing encomiums to Mary’s trust and deep faith in the Lord.

That’s all well and good. It’s probably appropriate. But, for discussion purposes, let’s take the cynic’s view. After all, people reluctant to come to the faith are likely to look askance at facile explanations and ask questions that stem from apparent logic, rather than just accepting the rapt assurances of the person doing the evangelizing.

In that light, consider the cynic’s obvious retort: “Yeah, and how hard was that for Mary? What did she actually do that was so faithful? She was told something was going to happen; she wasn’t offered a choice; and it happened. And there was an angel telling her. The angel wasn’t described, but surely it was not some mere being in simple human form: She knew that Gabriel had the aspect of the supernatural. So if some dude with wings comes to visit, or some dude glowing with a heavenly light, wouldn’t you be inclined to believe something that sounds a bit fantastical — considering that you already are face to face with something fantastical?”

(For my answer, read here.)

Of Rhythms, Redemption, and Resurrection (for readings for 4/2)

At Trinity Episcopal School in New Orleans in the 1970s, every student from first to eighth grades attended chapel every morning – but Fridays were special, because rather than ordinary church hymns, we would sing “guitar songs” led by parents Carol Roberts and Alice Lees, along with students who were reasonably proficient at playing the instruments. The guitar songs all seemed to have good tunes, and they had a rhythm and a life to them that almost all the students loved.

If I remember correctly, the very first song in our guitar songbook was “I am the Resurrection” by a guy named Ray Repp. “I am the resurrection – and the life,” went the refrain’s first line. “He who believes in me will nev-er-er die.”

While playing the refrain, Mrs. Roberts and Mrs. Lees developed a habit involving a syncopation of sorts (I call it the Roberts-Lees syncopation) in which they would strum the “tion” part of the word “resurrection” particularly hard and then pause an extra, oh, maybe just an extra eighth of a beat. In that pause, a lot of the kids, very lightly, would tap our fingertips on the pew-backs to add a light but noticeable extra bit of percussion. Then, with another, almost imperceptible extra Roberts-Lees pause added to what already was a designed pause after “life,” the kids would do a rapid four taps…..

All of which is why I cannot read this week’s standard Gospel passage, which involves the full episode of how Jesus was moved to raise Lazarus from the dead, without hearing, in the back of my mind, the Roberts-Lees syncopation and voices and 300 kids tapping pews in unison…..

(For the full column, please read here.)