Christian Carnival XXXI

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I stole my theme idea for this week's Christian Carnival from a Carnival of the Vanities that did something similar. Instead of Rush, we're going with Kansas, who are in my opinion the best band ever to have existed. They took classical, rock, jazz, blues, and even country, along with some Middle-Eastern and Indian influences, and produced something that many progressive rock fans thought they'd just taken from British prog groups like Yes and Genesis, but early recordings released a few years ago show that they had been working on material like what King Crimson, Gentle Giant, Genesis, and Yes had done around the same time. It's just that their recording contract was later and their commercial success even later. They're musically brilliant, and the lyrics are often more carefully chosen and provocatively philosophical than even most progressive rock groups. Kerry Livgren wrote the largest part of their more thoughtful lyrics and complex music, and he became a Christian a couple years into their period of more commercial success, leaving the group a few years later and pursuing a solo career, with a short stint in a (reluctantly) CCM band called AD, then at times working with the band on albums and live while pursuing solo projects and also now resurrecting an earlier lineup of the band under the name Proto-Kaw. This week's Christian Carnival entries are organized by the Kansas or Kansas-related albums or songs I associate them with.

Digitus, Finger & Co. submits a discussion of a PC-USA decision about Israel that claims Jews to be still God's people in an equal way to Christians' being God's people.

I've never understood the song Belexes, but somehow I think Neil could see the lyrics fitting with what he's saying with this post if you take them to be about Judaism apart from faith in Christ:

Oh, I cannot tell you to make up your mind
And gather together the best of your kind
The prophets have spoken the words of ill fate
Your childhood has ended you've taken the bait
You've got the power it's there deep inside
Just look around and you'll know what you've tried
So much relies on the course that you take
The fool and the wise man both burn at the stake

Look at the heads buried deep in the sand
Hiding from evil made by their own hand
The prophets have spoken the words of ill fate
Your childhood has ended you've taken the bait
You've got the power it's there deep inside
Just look around and you'll know what you've tried
So much relies on the course that you take
The fool and the wise man both burn at the stake

This song was on the first Kansas album, but it really goes back before that. There were two lineups of Kansas before that group. Kansas I never recorded anything, at least not that survived. Kansas II released some demos in 2001 under the name Proto-Kaw: Early Recordings From Kansas 1971-1973 (according to my sources, the Kansa Indians prefer to be called the Kaw, so it's sort of like Proto-Kansas). They've now recorded a new album under that name, but we'll get to that later. Belexes was on the demo album, recorded in 1972 (and they also included a 2004 live version with the special edition of the new album).

At gregstruth, we have an argument that Christians have a duty to vote. Christianity is not a spectator sport. I'm not sure I'd agree with his way of putting things at times, but his main point is certainly true.

Kansas felt the same way about people's attitudes toward defending freedom around the world, in a way much like people today who have defended U.S. operations in Iraq, except this was for an much more unpopular war. The very first Kansas album from 1974 opened with a song not written by Kerry Livgren or Steve Walsh, the other primary songwriter for the group. Rich Williams, Phil Ehart, and Dave Hope wrote Can I Tell You, which may well have been the only pro-Vietnam song in the history of rock music. You have to remember that these guys (except Steve Walsh) really were from Kansas:

Can I tell you something
Got to tell you one thing
If you expect the freedom
That you say is yours
Prove that you deserve it
Help us to preserve it
Or being free will just be
Words and nothing more

As a belated remembrance of Edith Stein, Siris presents an example of the sort of argument found in her work, Finite and Eternal Being. Some of the themes here fit nicely with the strange lyrics of Kerry Livgren's Incomudro -- Hymn to the Atman, getting at the silence of divine purpose without any revelation:

Run a silent path to nowhere, everything is all
You could have a pleasant life if Summer had no Fall
Treat yourself so gently though the task is often hard
A man is not a god it seems, who holds the final card
Close your eyes and feel the darkness, speak and hear the sound
We only catch a glimpse of all the life that is around
A man is not alive who knows the value of his soul
And when our life is pulled away, there's more to fill the hole

Far beyond our senseless thoughts there lies a core of gold
Where essence of the newborn child is waiting in the old
The master plan is well conceived, it's there for all to see
And each day that is spent in thought is living harmony
Reach into the depths of being, pass beyond the years
Time is lost in stillness where there are no hopes and fears
Linger in the void and like a beacon in the night
Purity will fill your soul with ever present light

I'm leaving out the couple lines that indicate that the song is really about reincarnation. This song was on the Proto-Kaw demo album above, but I needed to try to get more albums in here, so this represents Song for America, Kansas' second album, released in early 1975, which also contains Kansas III's version of it as its first released version.

A large portion of Kansas' early lyrics are from Kerry Livgren's spiritual search, which he's described as his religion-of-the-month-club phase. On the 1975 album Masque, Steve Walsh gives what may itself be seen as a very religious song, All the World, with an idealistic picture of a future world living in peace and forgiveness. It's a striking picture and in full accord with the Christian vision of the new heavens and the new earth, which Christians' lives should be reflecting now in word and in deed, as Mr. Standfast explains in his followup to an earlier post on the nature of communication in God's kingdom (which therefore means he's focusing on the "in word" part).

All the world's forgiving the change is all around
And the people everywhere have seen the light in what they've found
It's a happy place in the human race
When all our lives are lived forgiving...

All the world's forgetting the hate that filled our hearts
The times of selfish reasoning that keeps all apart
The world was meant to share, let them know you care
By making someone's life worth living...

For a look at why we shouldn't evaluate things according to how they're labeled, particularly when the label is about whether it's Christian or not, see the post submitted by reasons why.

A good illustration of his point is Kansas' 1976 album Leftoverture. I know someone who thought Kerry Livgren was a Christian and had become a Christian due to this album. At the time, Livgren was well into his search of every religion besides Christianity that he could find out anything about. You can see clear signs on this album of some of the conclusions that would eventually come out of his search a few years later, and the fact that what really is a non-Christian album could have the effect for the gospel that Kerry Livgren reports hearing about from fan mail confirms the point of the post quite strongly.

This album is probably most known for Carry On Wayward Son, their first top ten hit with a sort of prodigal son theme (which was featured prominently in Will Ferrell's latest film Anchorman).

Carry on my wayward son,
For there'll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Now don't you cry no more

The song most indicative of Livgren's spiritual place at the time is The Wall. This one needs the whole song:

I'm woven in a fantasy, I can't believe the things I see
The path that I have chosen now has led me to a wall
And with each passing day I feel a little more like something dear was lost
It rises now before me, a dark and silent barrier between,
All I am, and all that I would ever want be; it's just a travesty,
Towering, marking off the boundaries my spirit would erase

To pass beyond is what I seek; I fear that I may be too weak
And those are few who've seen it through to glimpse the other side,
The promised land is waiting like a maiden that is soon to be a bride
The moment is a masterpiece; the weight of indecision's in the air
It's standing there, the symbol and the sum of all that's me
It's just a travesty, towering, blocking out the light and blinding me
I want to see

Gold and diamonds cast a spell, it's not for me I know it well
The riches that I seek are waiting on the other side
There's more than I can measure in the treasure of the love that I can find
And though it's always been with me, I must tear down the Wall and let it be
All I am, and all that I was ever meant to be, in harmony
Shining true and smiling back at all who wait to cross
There is no loss

This post from Living on Both Ends came with just the short description "God works in mysterious ways". I'm not quite sure what to say myself beyond that, but a number of turns of phrase in this post reminded me of Hopelessly Human, from the 1977 album Point of Know Return (the album that also gave us their mega-hit Dust in the Wind and the title track, both of which still play regularly on most classic rock stations):

It's a strange aberration, this brainstorm of youth
Though it's lost in translation from fancy to truth
It's hopelessly human, both inside and out
A joyous occasion, no reason to doubt
It's easy somehow, what once was elusive is calling me now

I am waiting, I am patiently,
Doing nothing, in a reverie
Climbing higher, seeing everything
Interacting, slowly, spiralling
I am giving, while I'm watching the
Life I'm living, precious energy
Escalating, what was once just a game
It's never the same, no one's to blame

It's a strange situation, there's no cause for alarm
All these hot licks and rhetoric surely do you no harm
They're hopelessly human, both inside and out
A joyous occasion, there's no reason to doubt
When each word is read, would you know the difference if nothing was said

All is rhythm, all is unity
I am laughing, as it's meant to be
Just amusing, I am using the
Word was given, making harmony
Moving slowly, dancing aimlessly
Endless circle, turning fearlessly
Resurrected, falling down again
Introspective, I'm just stating my views; now you can choose
What do you feel; is it for real this time

Adrian Warnock queries the validity of an online test of biblical worldview. He's not the only one, but I'm not going to link to the 2-3 other people who complained that you can pass the test by being extremely conservative politically but not very orthodox religiously but fail it if you happen to be politically moderate but have a seriously biblical worldview.

Kerry Livgren reached the low point of his spiritual search in 1979, thinking there was nothing left to try. Then he found Urantia, a totally wacked-out book about Jesus being an alien or something. At this point in his life, he didn't even really know that the portrait of Jesus painted in this book was the furthest thing from the presentation of him in the gospels. Still, some of the lyrics on the Monolith album, mostly written during this time, have seemed to fans who didn't know the chronology to be very Christian. Here's an example from A Glimpse of Home:

There's no resisting you among the chosen few
It's hard to be sure, it's hard to endure
And when I hear your voice
I know I have the choice
To pursue an ideal, something so real
Now I've got nothing to lose
As I see your reflection
All the answers I desire become so clear
Like a page that is turning
I can look into the future without fear

All my life I knew you were waiting, revelation anticipating
All is well, the search is over, let the truth be known
Let it be shown

Belief Seeking Understanding muses on evangelist Luis Palau's festival in Minnesota earlier this month. Is he following Paul's command to be all things to all men in having such an innovative approach to drawing people? Is he sacrificing the gospel? From what I heard from those who went when he came to Syracuse, it may be a little of both. The sense I got was that he presented Jesus in terms of what he can do for you but never really got to the sin issue. That's not preaching the gospel, in my view. That was from second-hand information through someone else's evaluation, but it was someone whose opinion I generally trust.

When Kerry Livgren became a Christian, he produced his first testament to the gospel in his 1980 album Seeds of Change. With his commitment to using the best secular artists (including the drummer from Jethro Tull and Ronnie James Dio from Black Sabbath), he certainly would have satisfied those who emphasize the "all things to all men" aspect of Luis Palau, but there was no question of his holding back on the gospel with his song Just One Way:

I stood at the feet of a hundred wise men
I tried to live my life according to their way
But I was still in chains, and my eyes were blinded
And it felt so good, but I was led astray
All my life I looked for something real
Place to place I wandered restlessly
I just needed something I could feel
And when I found the truth it set me free

Dunmoose the Ageless reflects on Terry Nichols' dramatic conversion in stark contrast to his partner-in-crime and the testimony that carries. Kerry Livgren's own conversion took place in 1979, and the next Kansas album was 1980's Audiovisions, which begins with Relentless, his own conversion account and testimony:

In a single timeless moment
When the old was cast away
The new was born into a world of simple joy
And my life is still for living though it's seen through different eyes
And the knowledge of the truth's a burden easy to bear

According to the IRS, tax-exempt organizations are prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in or intervening in any political campaign on behalf of -- or in opposition to -- any candidate for elective office. Conservative spies will take notes in liberal churches. La Shawn Barber wonders if this is a good idea.

Kerry Livgren's song Fair Exchange from Kansas' 1982 album Vinyl Confessions raises similar worries about government control over too many things, including religion. Livgren re-recorded this song on his own 15 years later on Prime Mover II (see below), at which time he said it was even more poignant as this sort of society approached.

Your credit is good if you're a member
Just a token to help the people remember
All we've done for you; nobody buys and nobody sells
And nobody speaks 'til the chairman tells you
We're going to be your religion, throw those others away

Fair exchange for your freedom, fair exchange for your lives
Hail the new, perfect order, ending trouble and strife
No one can refuse our offer; it's a fair exchange

Singer Steve Walsh left Kansas during the recording of this album due to his unwillingness to sing the explicitly Christian lyrics Kerry Livgren was writing. He was replaced by John Elefante, perhaps my favorite singer in the music business. Elefante turned out to be a Christian himself and after leaving Kansas ended up becoming one of the most sought-after Christian music producers and in the 80s and a popular CCM singer in his own right by the mid-90s. This was the first of two Kansas albums he was part of (not counting the Best of Kansas, to which he contributed one new song).

Mission Safari talks about how saying goodbye is never easy, especially when it may be the LAST time you ever see a loved-one on this side of glory.

Kerry Livgren left his own farewell as the last track on 1983's Drastic Measures, Incident on a Bridge, one of my favorite Kansas songs. It's his farewell to the band. He was trying to live in two worlds, and he thought the explicitly Christian lyrics he was writing just didn't seem right for Kansas. Most of the songs he wrote during the recording of this album got shifted to his second solo album, which was the beginning of the band AD. It was the first album Kansas did without Robby Steinhardt, the violin player, and it suffers from that, and with only three of Livgren's songs John Elefante had to step up to write most of the album, but I really like this album. You could already tell, though, that Livgren was on his way out, and this song is his farewell to Kansas:

We were tied by a bond of fate, in our hearts we could feel the weight
Carried along by the winds of fortune
The outcome was never known, and our purpose was never shown
'Til everything fell in place, the words on the wall we could not erase

Each piece is arranged, the puzzle's complete
Victory's taste is so bittersweet
No regrets for the time that was lost
For it all comes out in the end
And the prize is worth all the tears that it cost
For the stairway you ascend
Drawing us near
It's where we belong

I had wanted to a do a pretty signicant post of hefty size this week on anger, but I guess I didn't get the time to do that on a week I'm hosting the Carnival. So my post for this week is a different one about why the dominant themes in the movement to oppose gay marriage seem to me to be thoroughly anti-Christian, which is why I've tried to avoid associating myself with that movement. It sort of reminds me of the pacifists or moderates who opposed the Iraq war but didn't realize that all the rallies they went to were extreme left-wing socialist nutcases with bitter opposition to any action by any established government. They didn't have a problem with war, as long as insurgents were doing it. If the U.S. government tried to help anyone, they would have opposed it, as their reaction to Afghanistan showed. I have friends who were bamboozled into going to such rallies, and I refuse to tarnish a biblical view about homosexuality with any association with hateful-sounding language.

This Livgren lyric from a song called Life Undercover is appropriate for this:

A poison tongue baron's a furious fate
But you just escaped in the nick of time, it was not too late
And now your light is on but the shade is down
And your face is smiling, but underneath you're wearing a frown

That song was from the 1984 album Time Line, which began as Kerry Livgren's second solo album but soon became the first album for AD. AD consisted of Kerry Livgren and Dave Hope from Kansas, along with three other men, two of whom had previously been supporting musicians for Kansas on tour. They were five Christian musicians who had formed a band and were releasing their music in the CCM market only because of legal reasons having to do with Livgren and Hope's contracts as members of Kansas. I think at least half of this album would have been excellent for the previous Kansas album anyway, but Livgren didn't think so.

Uncle Sam's Cabin discusses Christians' love for enemies and why it doesn't mean we don't have enemies but rather presumes that we do have enemies. How can you love enemies if we don't have any? What does love for enemies therefore look like? Her reflections lead to the clear division caused by the gospel, something Kerry Livgren focuses on a bit in Exiles, from AD's 1986 album Reconstructions (which got remixed and in some parts re-recorded as Reconstructions Reconstructed in 1997), emphasizing the sharp differences between every single disciple of Jesus Christ and everyone else:

Distant Home, across the Earth we roam,
Leaving all that we possess behind us
Known by name, we make no earthly claim,
Waiting for the One we seek to find us

Exiles of another kind, With our maker intertwine
Vessels on a sea of love
Aliens to Mother Earth, waiting for the second birth
Vessels on a sea of love

Then, from the 1985 AD album Art of the State, the first of the two above, we have this excerpt from Up From the Wasteland, one of Kerry Livgren's best songs:

Up from the wasteland, like a dream long forgotten reappearing
Up from the wasteland, we are drawn to a glory neverending
By his hand, our iniquity transcending
All our enemies beneath His feet
No height, nor depth, no life or death
Can take us away from His love

After Kerry Livgren and Dave Hope left Kansas, John Elefante didn't feel much desire to continue, and Rich Williams and Phil Ehart were the only remaining members, not quite enough for a band. The three of them did one song on the 1984 Best of Kansas and then folded. In 1986, two years later, Phil, Rich, and the now-returned Steve Walsh decided to restart Kansas with a new bass player, Billy Greer. They brought in guitar legend Steve Morse of Dixie Dregs (and later Deep Purple) fame and a not-too-shabby solo career, and Power was the first album with this lineup. The top 40 hit of the album was All I Wanted, which at times sounds like it could have been written by the author of this Marriage Restored post about why he isn't a fool for staying with his wife who had engaged in an adulterous affair but instead is simply recognizing God's grace and what a wonderful woman she is despite her sin against him and against God. This post is rich with the implications of the gospel.

You say it's time to stay behind
All I wanted was to hold you; all I wanted was to touch you
No need for blame cause we're not the same
All I wanted was to love you; that's all I wanted

How many times will it take
Hurting me the way that you do
How many times till I break
You're hurting me the way
I'm loving you the way I do

It's not so strange for us to change
All I wanted was to love you; that's all I wanted

Crossroads asks: Who really helps the homeless? The Democrats or the Republicans? Or perhaps neither? Are the churches doing enough? What can they do to help ... really help that is? I happen to agree with her conclusions about which policies are better for the homeless, but that doesn't absolve anyone's personal responsibility.

Kerry Livgren dealt with the homeless in Don't Pass Me By, the opening song of 1988's Prime Mover album, recorded to pay off AD debts. Prime Mover II appeared in 1998 with large sections re-recorded and everything remixed, not to mention a bunch of new songs. From Don't Pass Me By:

I pray that someone will remember
Don't pass me by, don't pass me by
Oh, doesn't anybody see me here
Don't pass me by, don't pass me by

So I'm a little behind the race, as long as I can place it's alright
Before you walk you've got to stand, just take me by the hand and lead me home

Your faith must live, proven by what you will give
The last shall be first, water for all who thirst

Joe Missionary tackles the bad doctrine floating among many (most?) Christians these days who equate "answered prayer" with getting what they wanted. The most interesting Kansas song about prayer is Rainmaker, from the 1988 In the Spirit of Things album, a concept album about the history of Neosho Falls, Kansas, which is now a ghost town. This is the second of the two studio albums done with Steve Morse. It's fairly uneven. About half the album is much better than anything on Power, and about half is much worse. This is largely because the studio forced some commerical-sounding stuff, and a few of the songs weren't written by the band. I guess they decided they could go their own way with the rest of it to make up for it. Steve Morse left after this tour, though he returned for a few months in 1991 after Kerry Livgren had served a brief stint again with them from 1990-1991 then left again to play with them live only occasionally since (usually whenever they're in Kansas but twice in California and once in Pennsylvania).

This probably isn't what Joe had in mind, but Rainmaker describes soneone masquerading as a rain dance shaman to profit off superstitious people. He didn't anticipate the answer to his prayers:

Have you ever seen a miracle -- you couldn't doubt or imitate
What's it really worth to you to shake the holy hand of fate...

But I started this dance and a storm kicked up
The sky went black from coast to coast
It was too late to stop -- it was too late to pray
I'd summoned down the Holy Ghost
Oh the searing wind and the clouds of dust
And hell came raining down
What came out of me and the powers that be
Was the last of that one horse town

Then we get one of the best instrumental sections of the Steve Morse era, with dueling guitar and keyboards as the music illustrates the destruction of the town.

In 1989 Kerry Livgren released One of Several Possible Musiks. In the liner notes it says that he "played all of several possible instruments". It's the only project he's ever done entirely on his own and his only entirely instrumental project. He wrote some great reflections after this project on how a musical work can be both instrumental and thoroughly Christian and more generally what it means to make music that glorifies God.

One Hand Clapping didn't submit an entry (and as far as I know never has), but the post taken from his sermon on Sunday about people sending children to die in Iraq, God's command to Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, and God's own sacrifice of his Son was so good that I had to include it. It also serves as a fitting post for Tenth of Nisan, the last track on the original version of this album (though an additional track from the same period was added in the 1996 version of the album). The 10th of Nisan was the date of the Passover sacrifice and the date associated by most scholars (I believe) with Jesus' death as the Lamb of God.

Another Think engages in some criticism of his own Democratic party for chastising conservatives for their hawkish tendency to drop bombs on dictators and, collaterally, children, while meanwhile waging a much deadlier war on the children themselves.

One of the earliest AD songs recorded was Free Fire Zone, which never got released on an AD album during their tenure as a band but was on Kerry Livgren's 1992 boxed set Decade and was later included in the 1997 Reconstructions Reconstructed album (see above). This song was one of three AD songs related to abortion:

Surrounded within, you rest in your innocence
How could you know, you can't stay alive in the
Free Fire Zone
Now they're opening fire
No chance to survive
in the Free Fire Zone

After a little bit of a hiatus due to moving back to Kansas from Atlanta, where Kansas has resided since early in Kansas III's career, Kerry Livgren finally finished his 1994 album, originally titled Xylon from the Greek word for tree, which is used once or twice in the New Testament for the cross. The song Xylon (The Tree) is one of my favorite Livgren tunes, tying together the cross with the garden of Eden and the tree of life in Revelation. For some reason he changed the name of the album to When Things Get Electric after a different song of that name. I'm highlighting the song Sweet Child, which is sort of a letter to his own child (I'm not exactly sure which of his two kids it was written to, but I think it's Kyle, who is younger than Katie). Two excerpts are relevant here:

But it's all right now, just call and I'll hear you
And I pray somehow, I'll always be near you
Watching you grow

These days will end, I must let go
Your life will find it's own way (and when)
You're standing tall, you will not fail
Believing in innocence

Beyond the Rim... has a great post explaining how Paul's practice of writing out his prayers for people and including them in his epistles has influenced him to write out a prayer for his daughter, which she now carries around in laminated form in her wallet. He includes that prayer in the post as an example as he calls us to let people know exactly what we're praying for them about. When he submitted this entry to me, he even let me know that he was praying for me. Isn't that excellent?

These two albums had little to do with each other except that they came out aout a year apart and both deal with what the next post is about in different ways. The first is 1995's Freaks of Nature, the first Kansas studio album since In the Spirit of Things, though they did have a live album with the 1991-1997 lineup and a song Wheels on the 1994 boxed set (written by Kerry Livgren and performed with him). This lineup brought keyboard player Greg Robert to free Steve Walsh up to sing more easily and violin player David Ragsdale, who helped restore something of the classic Kansas sound and contributed much good music of his own to the new songs. One Kerry Livgren song, Cold Gray Morning, appears on this album. It had been played by all three early Kansas lineups but never recorded. He also put his own version of it on his Collector's Sedition album (see below).

The second album above is Kerry Livgren's 1996 soundtrack for the Odyssey Into the Mind's Eye video, which was a showcase for some of the latest computer animation of the day. I remember seeing parts of this video, with Livgren soundtrack of course, playing as a system demo at Media Play. Most of the soundtrack is instrumental, with a few vocal pieces, one lifted from the When Things Get Electric album. Some of these tracks are much better than anything on One of Several Possible Musiks, which I thought was a great instrumental album for its time, but some of these tracks didn't seem to do as much for me.

Nicene Theology writes: I've learned that self-condemnation in the face of sin is the sign of immature faith at best, and at worst a radical misinterpretation of grace. Christ has set us free from such things; the grace of God really is that radical. It is so radical that it is silly for a man to condemn himself at each misstep, to expect more from himself than what his sinful nature can do, and to believe that he can live up to the grace of God by an act of moral willpower."

The song from Freaks of Nature that I associate with this post is I Can Fly, something of an Icarus type story. (They had a song called Icarus -- Borne on Wings of Steele on their Masque album in 1975 and Icarus II on Somewhere to Elsewhere in 2000, so this is really their second of three songs about Icarus). I Can Fly, by Steve Walsh and David Ragsdale, explores immature faith of flying beyond what you're capable of and resisting temptation on one's own.

I can fly I really can wave good-bye familiar land
Catch the wind make my climb breathin in born again feelin fine
I can fly above distress I can fly to heaven no less
Leave the earth forget the time light as air I don't care feelin fine...

When all at once it dawned on me where I'm not supposed to be
Clouds are back the sky is red I'm where the angels fear to tread
I feel like I've lost my way
Down and down I go I've lost all sense of my direction
This flaming spitfire flight has come undone
Grounding stages of rejection I am not worthy to have even tried
Help me annihilate this foolish pride where Icarus died
I say the act of contrition be sure to bless all before I die
Save my seat in the smoking section cut me loose and say goodbye...

Give me life give me life I'll make a vow
I'll resist temptation I promise here and now...

Then Kerry Livgren's The Empowering, which is an instrumental and thus has no lyrics to print, seems to me to be "about" the empowering by the Holy Spirit to overcome temptation and to do good works for the glory of God, something that I think Darren would gladly associate with his post.

After David Ragsdale and Greg Robert left Kansas in early 1997, Robby Steinhardt returned. They recorded Always Never the Same with the London Sympony Orchestra at Abbey Road. It was the first time I'd heard a rock band recording with an orchestra when it didn't sound like cheesy elevator music and still had the orchestra serving as a genuine instrument rather than just providing some background noise. They did a great job with it.

Two songs on here, one older one redone with the symphony effect and one new for them but much older originally performed by the Beatles, exemplify this post from The Bible Archive, which is designed to illustrate various Bible study methods through looking at, in this case, Romans 3:1-9, about how Jews and Gentiles alike have nothing to offer God in exchange for mercy and how in our sin we are all hopeless without God's grace. This sad state of affairs, which is the point of Jesus' mission, seems to me to come out in a couple lines of Eleanor Rigby, which completely rocks in Kansas' version:

Father McKenzie writing the words of a sermon that no one will hear
No one comes near
All the lonely people, where do they all come from
All the lonely people, where do they all belong
Eleanor Rigby died in the church and was buried along with her name
Nobody came
Father McKenzie wiping the dirt from his hands as he walks from the grave
No one was there

Eleanor Rigby conveys a complete sense of futility, but no song expresses that feeling as strongly as Kansas' most famous song, Dust in the Wind.

I close my eyes, only for a moment and the moment's gone
All my dreams pass before my eyes a curiosity
Dust in the wind, all they are is dust in the wind

Same old song, just a drop of water in an endless sea
All we do crumbles to the ground though we refuse to see
Dust in the wind, all we are is dust in the wind

Don't hang on; nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky
It slips away; all your money won't another minute buy
Dust in the wind, all we are is dust in the wind

Bad Example warns that his blog is neither G-rated nor Christian, but the post he submits fits Christian Carnival standards as far as I'm concerned. He gives a version of the Carol Wimmer poem on what it means to be a Christian, forwarded to him recently via e-mail.

Kerry Livgren's Collector's Sedition Vol. I (2000) was the remains of a double album, ten songs from which ended up on Kansas' Somewhere to Elsewhere below, leaving this just a single album. Some of the songs were fairly old and finally being released, but many were brand new. Two little bits from different songs struck me as getting to the two messages of this poem. The first is from The Man with an Iron Heart, a Livgren song originally recorded by Mylon LeFevre's band Look Up in the early 80s as Heart of Iron: "I'm a man with a heart of iron. God save a man with a heart of iron." The second thing on the album this post brings to mind is from a new song called At Every Turn:

Nigh is the one to follow
Savior is come to every pilgrim show
Empty the heart so hollow
Life overflowing on the day arose
Chosen a path to endless days
Follow at every turn
Nearer today than yesterday
Hungry for the truth to learn

In 2000 Kansas released Somewhere to Elsewhere, which contained all six original members of Kansas III, the lineup from the first album through most of their hits, with every song written by Kerry Livgren and recorded in his barn (where he has a state-of-the-art recording studio and a fair number of chickens). Current bass player Billy Greer, who has been with them since 1996, is also on the album in addition to the other six. Most fans consider it one of their best albums, up with Leftoverture and Point of Know Return. It includes a song originally done by Kansas I that Kansas II and III also did in the early 70s (but that was thoroughly rewritten for this album), Myriad, one of my favorite Kansas songs. In its current form, the song is about God's sovereign control throughout all creation, which makes it fitting for this post by Rebecca Writes about God's power, how we know it, and what it means:

Upon the page, symbolic form,
Both a miracle and yet the norm
The functions clear, sum and difference will soon transform
Equations chain, lies in His hand,
Voice authority will dance command
Solution's true, line of measure will divide, expand

Myriad, see the numbers as they're counting down
Thousands and thousands
Myriad, form and function to display the sound
Line upon line every melody points the way

The cycle turns, like Heaven's gate,
Unknown integers predestinate
Calculating all we must explore, and navigate

Quantities no man can know,
No formula to wield
No pages left to turn,
No choices but to yield

The Best of Kerry Livgren, from 2002, has two new songs, some re-recordings of older material that he couldn't get permission to re-release, some remastered and partially re-recorded versions of other stuff, and some songs he didn't change. He tried to get the rights to material from Seeds of Change and Timeline, but Sony wouldn't let him use the recordings they own of those songs. Therefore he used his rights as copyright holder to re-record them. He was able to use an alternate track of Ronnie James Dio's vocals for To Live for the King, and otherwise he had to re-record those tracks, including bringing back both AD singers.

To Live for the King illustrates something like the flipside of our second-to-last entry in this Christian Carnival. Wide Awake gives us an argument why rights are only derivative of the creator who gives them. I happen to think Americans emphasize rights far too much for something that we only have because we're made in the image of God, but rights are important because we violate God's rights when we harm other people. This does affirm the value of the individual, but the individual only has value because God gave value. This isn't quite as radical as John Locke's idea that our rights are derivative of God's property rights over us, but it's close, and I think its general outline is right. Kerry Livgren expresses the proper attitude to take in response to all that -- to live a life completely dedicated to the King (and it's great that it's Ronnie James Dio who sang this!):


The rising of the sun is seen by everyone
And no one can deny that it's real
And when you hear the call come crashing through the wall
You just can't doubt the things that you feel
So lift me up the time has come to sing
And give up everything
To live for the King

Though we fight against the rule the genius and the fool
Are born to labor under the law
Before each man's a choice
Reject it or rejoice the vision that the prophets saw
So lift me up the time has come to sing
And give up everything
To live for the King

Happy Catholic presents an extremely brief prayer that's great for helping deal
with the stresses and annoyances that are part of everyday life and then tells an example of how this prayer helped her in a specific situation.

It reminded me of one of the songs on Before Became After, the 2004 album that reunites Kerry Livgren with the other members of Kansas II, the lineup that preceded the lineup that recorded the first album (Kansas III), now under the name of Proto-Kaw to avoid confusion with the ongoing Kansas band. These guys had dealt with the popularity of their successor band, whose first two albums partly contained a number of their own songs, and now they finally get the chance to record their own album. This is some of Livgren's best stuff, some older songs as they were, some reworked, and some new. One of the new songs is Words of Honor, which at the end looks forward to the time when "every enemy can name you friend, with words of honor and words of peace". The rest of the song is excellent, though, so here's the whole thing:

Words of honor
Words of peace
Words of comfort, that never cease
Bringing freedom, across the earth
Tell a story of endless worth

Deeds of valor
Deeds of old
Raise the standard
For the weak and for the bold
Till the nations, find release
In words of wisdom, words of peace
Words of honor, a world at peace

Long the days where we could toss our bread upon the waters
And see beyond the veil of tears we sow
For soon we walk in fields of sun and trace the path we follow
That takes us to a place we've yet to know
Where we'll stand in the latter rain
Purge away every stain
As we stand in the latter rain

Bind the future
In your vow
Bravely walking, toward the end
Til every enemy can name you friend
With words of honor, words of peace
Words of comfort, that never cease

I'll leave you with one thought: Kerry for president! No, not John Kerry, Kerry Livgren. My sign can go up right next to the Bush and Nader signs that I would put next to each other on the curb if I didn't know that they'd be torn down within 24 hours.

9 TrackBacks

Listed below are links to blogs that reference this entry: Christian Carnival XXXI.

TrackBack URL for this entry: http://movabletype.ektopos.com/cgi-bin/mt-tb.cgi/762

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Christian Carnival XXXI is up and rockin' over at Parableman. With a really cool Kansas theme going on(the group, not the state), Jeremy puts needle to wax and serves up the hits of the week. Take a moment to check... Read More

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Christian Carnival XXXI is being hosted by Parablemania. Check it out and read some of the best in Christian blogging today. I submitted My Response to an Ugly Email.... Parableman shows tremendous creativity and knowledge of Kansas songs by arranging Read More

In an e-mail to me today, Susie of Practical Penumbra said this about me: if all atheists were as tolerant as Harvey, there'd be a lot fewer wealthy trial lawyers Which reminded me that I forgot to mention that the... Read More

Storyblogging carnival from Back of the Envelope on September 3, 2004 10:53 AM

This is part of the series of posts which are going up automatically while I'm in the middle of my move. All these posts were written before August 29th, in some cases by as much as two weeks.

I've been doing I've been doing I've been doing I've been doing Read More

In the spirit of the Carnival of the Carnivals: The Bestofme SymphonyThe Bonfire of the VanitiesThe Carnival of the Bush BloggersThe Carnival of the CapitalistsThe Carnival of the VanitiesThe Christian CarnivalThe Watcher's Council... Read More

8 Comments

I don't know if my meager prayer helped or not, but your Carnival demonstrates the exceptional creativity recent hosts have displayed. Also, it is exciting to find someone else who likes Kerry Livgren. Have you read his biography, "Seeds of Change: The Spiritual Quest of Kerry Livgren"?

I have more than one copy of his most recent edition and have read all of it at least once, parts more than a few times. He's got additional chapters that he wrote for Decade, too, but never made it to a new edition after that. I linked to one of them above.

excellent carnival! Being raised in Kansas, the band Kansas was huge in my youth, I really enjoy how you wove in the lyrics with the posts.

I am very impressed with your knowledge of Kansas, and enjoyed your take on the songs. What a great theme you've made out of the Carnival, not to mention the massive undertaking it was!

Cheers,

So this is why you wouldn't get out of bed today.

What a wonderful presentation! Thanks for your kind words. Carry On My Wayward Son takes me back to my high school days. Being the total pagan at the time I had no clue the depth of the lyrics :) Dust in the Wind either, sheeeesh I was clueless, but now I see, at least sometimes.

So, Jeremy, did you e-mail Rev. Sensing and let him know that you were including him in the Carnival? I'd be interested in his take on the Christian Carnival in general.

No, I didn't mention it to him. I've been linking to him regularly almost since I've had a blog, and this is probably just one more such link from me. I imagine he knows about the Christian Carnival but doesn't think he needs to take part to get more links, which seems to me to be why most people participate. He's already one of the most-linked Christian bloggers. He posts so infrequently on non-political themes, but if you collected all those posts in one blog it would be an infrequent but incredibly good blog. So I try to draw attention to it whenever he does post on something not political.

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