From "Telstar" to "Vault of Horror," from Rattigan to Kerouac, from the Village of Bray to the Village of Midwich, help PZ link old ancient news and pop culture. I think I can see him, "Crawling from the Wreckage." Will he find his way? This show is brought to you by Mockingbird! www.mbird.com
Episode 319 - "My friend the..."
The excerpt at the start is from a song that was Number One in 1958 and to which I once got almost the entire support staff -- all of whom it turned out already knew the refrain -- of an institution of which I was the dean, to perform an inspired, spontaneous line dance. It was a high point of Mary's and my entire ministry.
Anyway, this podcast focuses on that extreme moment in life when you come to the end of your resources and finally have no choice but to reach out for succor. You don't first go for the prescription. You can't -- you have no idea what it is! You go to someone who can give you the prescription. The necessary step of faith when things are really bad is to reach out.
It's surprising sometimes how long it can take you to get to that point. A friend of mine once told me that it took him 40 years to get to the point of need from which he finally said 'Uncle'. As the saying goes, when the student is ready, the teacher appears.
And your readiness is your point of need! Whether it's David Seville (and the Chipmunks, as it turned out) telling us, or peerless Bishop Morris Maddocks in the C. of E., or Dr. Frank Lake, or John Stott, or Pastor Paula, the saying is sure: "oo ee oo ah ah ting tang walla walla bing bang". It's not a 'road map' nor a 'how to'. It's God's specific and particular Word to you. As it was to the boy Samuel, the boy Timothy, the Syrophoenician woman, Saint Helena, and to ...
LUV U tons!
Episode 218 - C'MON DAD
I've talked about "phosphorus" before -- the ever-glowing points of connection that constitute a kind of trail within the story of our life. Today the subject is another kind of phosphorus, its other side of the coin, by which I mean rejection.
In late career I experienced a rejection so mighty in effect that it seemed to pull down the curtain on decades of ministry. This rejection came as an utter surprise.
So one day, during the lowest point, I'm in a Jewish deli in SE Florida. And the song "When Smokey Sings" by ABC comes on. The lilting 'Motown' sound carries me right back to former times, of happiness and joy. At the same time, the song becomes instant phosphorus to whatever trail of rejection I have trodden in life.
Rejection is decisive! Whether it comes in affairs of the heart, or at work, or in any relationship you want to name -- whether it comes in the form of cancer, self-sabotage, or an intrigue mounted against you -- rejection is impossible to swallow and assimilate, at least not in the initial instance. Some rejections -- like Charles Foster Kane's childhood rejection in Citizen Kane (1941) -- are never overcome. They can stay with you forever.
Yet there is a way. There is in fact the promise of new love, which life, which God, almost always brings once you say goodbye to the rejecting love. As my friend Paula White says, When you say 'goodbye', God will bring you a new 'hello'.
The Dave Clark Five told the truth back in 1964. You can hear their "take" on this at the end of the cast. But The Beatles did, too, on "Magical Mystery Tour": "I don't know why you say goodbye, I say hello."
Episode 317 - Odessey and Oracle
The title of the Zombies' marvelous album from 1968/69 entitled "Odessey and Oracle" (sic) puts one's life in two-word perspective that means a lot to me.
We are all on an odyssey of sorts, as Odysseus/Ulysses was in Homer. There are headwinds, zephyrs, tailwinds; and more to the point, storms, whirlpools and icebergs. No one could really disagree with the picture of our human experience as an odyssey, the forms and circumstances of which are quite hidden to us -- as Thomas Cole's epic visual parable "The Journey of Life" conveys with jaw-dropping perspicacity and prescience -- at the start. And hidden almost all along the way, in fact! So yes, sans doute, life is an odyssey.
And we need -- I mean need urgently -- an oracle. Which is to say, we require a Word/words from outside ourselves to orient us and re-orient us. If we think that we ourselves can provide the required wisdom to understand and interpret our misfires, let alone our successes, that conception proves untenable over time. We need an oracle.
Very recently I ran into an oracle -- a person, I mean, who stated an astonishing conviction concerning a current event, and whom I trust. In other words, I trust this person as a kind of oracle to interpret the present in the light of God's overriding Purpose. I was struck quite speechless by this preacher's certainty concerning something, shall we say, Very Big. Am still not sure whether I believe her, in fact -- she ministers at a small store-front church in west Orlando. But I take her seriously. The point is, I felt I was being addressed by an oracle.
We need not only an interpreting confidence in the Divine Purpose behind our odyssey, but we also need an oracle to navigate us towards "Our Year" (The Zombies, 1968/69), that New Day of God's unfolding -- let alone shattering. LUV U!
Episode 316 - The Ballad of John and Walter
What a load of uncharted material is out there for people who are looking for Grace! Here I have spent almost 60 years "trolling" for redemptive material, words and music, especially the Seventh Art, that would speak, and hopefully heal. And now I find, near the advent of my 70th birthday, literally **TONS **of main-line examples of transformative Christian art that I never even knew existed.
Take movies like Journey into Light (1951), with Sterling Hayden and Viveca Lindfors. Or Miracle of the Bells (1948), with Frank Sinatra and Fred MacMurray. Or, just this week, Of Human Hearts (1938), with Jimmy Stewart and Walter Huston.
Where have I been? All I ever got, back in the day, was Sergei Eisenstein and Michelangelo Antonioni and Godard and ... The Graduate (1968). We worshipped The Graduate. I remember seeing it the week it opened.
But had anyone ever referenced Miracle in the Rain (1956) or Gabriel over the White House (1936). Are you kidding? Niemand !
It's funny, it's as if the Hollywood movies that depict Christian faith as it actually is ... got almost instantly forgotten, and even if they made a ton of money. At any rate, I wasn't supposed to know about them -- except maybe the Universal monster movies of the '30s and '40s, for the reverence due Dracula and Frankenstein overrode the explicit religious message behind those movies. "Put away the Cross, Miliza!" (House of Dracula, 1945).
Well, maybe this cast can give you some reassuring TV time before you get vaccinated. Oh, and these vintage movies with their explicit good religion end up talking about real people and real impasses and real losses. Turns out I'll take The Mortal Storm (1940) over 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) any time.
Episode 315 - Top of the World
Today I want to "double down" just a bit on the anchoring necessity of romantic connection within our everyday lives. Flourishing won't occur without it, and that's an empirical fact whether one likes it or not.
So the question becomes, at least for about half the world's yearning souls, how can a person find it. How can I obtain what I so manifestly need and want?
Case in point: Jane Wyman's grief-driven prayer in Miracle in the Rain (1956). Then there's Fred MacMurray's prayer in The Miracle of the Bells (1947) -- read the book, by the way, which you can get on Kindle. Then there's my own prayer last month, which was answered by getting banged on the head.
This cast is an indicative reflection on prayer, specifically on the prayer that comes from abject and unconditional personal need. George Harrison promised its answer (let alone Isaiah, let alone Christ) in "Love Comes to Everyone" (1979).
Hear me. Oh, and inwardly digest The Seekers' hymn and psalm, "I'll Never Find Another You" (1964). LUV U.
Episode 314 - Heinz Agonistes
How should we think about God when faced with a massive, injuring disappointment? Or rather, how can a person of faith assimilate an experience in which you see, not God, but God's opposite, appearing to win?
The question can apply to anyone, on any "side of the aisle". I have friends who were so upset by the election of 2016 that they basically retreated into a long-term depression for roughly four years. There will be people you know today -- tho' they may not be saying -- who feel the same way about 2020. Disappointments and disillusionments can touch all parties!
Also, there's the COVID. Just after Mrs. Zahl and I received our vaccinations in Florida, articles started appearing stating that, vaccinated or not, we could still transmit the virus. (What?) In other words, there may not be an end to the ordeal, even if the "miracle Moderna/Pfizer" is given to everyone. (Would that mean,we still can't see our grandchildren?)
This podcast is about the agonizing struggle to deal with acute personal disappointment in terms of faith.
Do we just go along? Do we rationalize? Do we "look for Another"? Is God asleep? Is God dead? Or were we simply wrong about Him -- misled, seduced, hypnotized, something like that?
This is my subject. And with some help from 'Heinz' the immortal (and Joe Meek), and also from John Milton the Immortal, I hope we can get somewhere. LUV U.
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Thank you for a very encouraging podcast from someone who has had at least one speed bump per decade!
Thankful for this podcast! You’ll never be bored!
Must listen more than once
PZ is very enjoyable and slightly wacky in a very good way. Edgy, even. The thing I’ve come to realize is that the best way to listen to PZs podcasts are to hear them twice. This way, you better comprehend the context of the first song, which is often quirky and sometimes even slightly cringey (delightfully so). He’s a master of engagement, thought, and entertainment. Thank you for this wonderful addition to the Internet. Please keep them coming.