Archive for religion

Goddess Aretha Franklin

From David Remnick’s lovely tribute this morning:

Prayer, love, desire, joy, despair, rapture, feminism, Black Power—it is hard to think of a performer who provided a deeper, more profound reflection of her times. What’s more, her gift was incomparable. Smokey Robinson, her friend and neighbor in Detroit, once said, “Aretha came out of this world, but she also came out of another, far-off magical world none of us really understood. . . . She came from a distant musical planet where children are born with their gifts fully formed.” Etta James once recalled listening to Franklin’s version of Johnny Mercer and Hoagy Carmichael’s standard “Skylark.” In the second verse, Franklin jumps an octave. “I had to scratch my head and ask myself, *How the fuck did that bitch do that?* I remember running into Sarah Vaughan, who always intimidated me. Sarah said, ‘Have you heard of this Aretha Franklin girl?’ I said, ‘You heard her do ‘Skylark,’ didn’t you?’ Sarah said, ‘Yes, I did, and I’m never singing that song again.’ ”

Sinners in the hands of an angry god

Jonathan Edwards, the 18th-century preacher who gave the world that lovely phrase, wrote a sermon on the back of a “bill of sale” accounting for his purchase of a black slave. Susan Stinson’s article is really good.

h/t MD

“Educated”

In honour of the start of my summer semester, I present this excellent interview with Tara Westover, whose book “Educated” is the best memoir I have read in a very long time. Westover was raised in a Mormon “survivalist” home and didn’t go to school until she was 17; she ended up receiving a Ph.D. after studying at Cambridge and Harvard; she also became estranged from her parents and some of her siblings. Her story almost overwhelmed me emotionally, particularly those parts in which her teachers became mentors. It reminded me why I live.

Ô Canada …

… where Good Friday and Easter Monday are national* holidays. I will always find this odd (and oddly satisfying).

*Exceptions: Folk from Quebec have to choose just one of the two days for their holiday. In Alberta employers have an “option” to give their employees Easter Monday off; in Medicine Hat everybody sleeps in on Good Friday.

Three Days

“I can’t say as ever I was lost, but I was bewildered once for three days.” – Daniel Boone