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REQUIEM

Below are the two final essays to be posted on Allegiance and Duty Betrayed. The first one is written by a friend -- screen name 'Euro-American Scum' -- who, over the past four years, has been the most faithful essayist here. He has written about everything from his pilgrimage to Normandy in 2004 to take part in the 60th–year commemoration of the invasion, to his memories of his tour in Vietnam. His dedication to America’s founding principles ... and those who have sacrificed to preserve them over the past 200+ years ... is unequaled. Thank you, E-A-S. It has been a privilege to include your writing here, and it is a privilege to call you my friend.

The second essay is my own farewell. And with it I thank all of the many regular visitors, and those who may have only dropped in occasionally, for coming here. I hope you learned something. I hope a seed or two was planted. But, even if not, I thank you for stopping by ... 25 March, 2010

6/25/2008

Enjoying the Company of
'Small Town Pennsylvanians'

BoothBrothers.jpg

Rick and I, and a friend, attended a concert performed by the Booth Brothers, an excellent Florida-based southern gospel group, at an outdoor amphitheater in a nearby park over this past weekend. We have probably attended twenty of their concerts over the years (an example of their singing).

During this concert, the character of 'small-town Pennsylvanians who cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them' was made manifest in a minor way, but one that I don’t believe Senator Obama capable of comprehending.

The Booth Brothers performed on a large covered stage. In front of the stage, on a newly-asphalted area were perhaps fifty eight-foot-long, newly-constructed benches, with an area equal in size left empty for people to set up their own lawn chairs. There was also a vast expanse of grass on either side of this area, to the left and right of the stage. And, far from the stage itself, beyond all of this, was a large grassy hill.

ColemanPark.jpg

By the time the program began, the benches were filled with young Mennonite men in their suspenders and straw hats, Mennonite women in their small white head coverings, and other Christians of all denominations. The remaining asphalt area was filled with others in lawn chairs. The side grassy areas were covered with lawn chairs as well. And the grassy hill area was also completely occupied by people who had brought their own chairs. We sat up on the hill, perhaps two hundred feet from the stage, with a panoramic view of everything.

The program, as always, was beautifully performed, and indescribably inspiring.

About two-thirds of the way through, the threatening skies ceased to be merely threatening. The rain came down in buckets, accompanied by occasional subdued rumbles of thunder, and lightning in the distance.

About a quarter of the audience left. The remaining perhaps five hundred people simply pulled their umbrellas out from under their chairs or benches and continued to enjoy the uplifting music.

The performers, seeing the increasing severity of the storm, semi-seriously invited whomever wished to do so to bring their chairs up onto the sheltered stage -- at which time perhaps a hundred of the audience slowly and courteously folded up their lawn chairs and, in a quiet and orderly manner, walked up the steps on either side of the stage and formed a large, four-person-deep semi-circle behind the performers, while they continued to sing. Most of the stage was now occupied by audience members, with just enough room for the performers to comfortably do what they do best.

From our vantage point up on the grassy hill (I truly wish I had brought my camera), we saw a beautiful rainbow of hundreds of variously colored umbrellas below us, stretching all the way to the stage, and a stage upon which many of our fellow audience members were sharing in fellowship with those whose performance they had come to hear -- and the message was so strong that they were not going to be denied.

The Booth Brothers sang the remaining selections as if they were performing ‘in the round’, not wanting to slight those now seated behind, and alongside of, them. Clearly moved by the spontaneity of it all, they expressed their appreciation to ‘the faithful’, and extended their program a good half hour longer than scheduled, singing many more selections than intended. At one particularly powerful point in the program, Michael Booth commented, ‘I really do like you gun-totin’, religion-clingin’ small town Pennsylvanians!’ – which, of course, brought uproarious applause.

About twenty minutes after the skies had opened up, they cleared. We all enjoyed three or four more vocally inspiring pieces, prayed together, and called it a night.

As we were driving home, all three of us commented that those who see small-town Pennsylvanians through a closed-minded, left-leaning stereotypical prism would not have comprehended the simple beauty and spiritual closeness of what happened in that park. Either they would have been among the small handful who left when the rain began, or they would have begrudgingly sat through the program, focused on the fact that they were damp and disappointed in the weather.

Not so with the large majority of those who attended Sunday night’s concert. And for that we were all greatly blessed.

~ joanie

27 comments:

kathymlynczak said...

BEAUTIFUL Joanie! Thank you for sharing your experience.

trustbutverify said...

If their music was secular, they could win a national barbershop quartet competition, if they had a bass. I'm volunteering. ;)

You're right. Barack wouldn't understand the significance.

Anonymous said...

Prasie God! And thank you for telling us this great story.

Dawnsearlylight said...

The tenor in the video looks about 12 years old. :-) The voices of family members just seem to harmonize so naturally, when they’re good voices. What amazing voices and what a memorable night you all must have had!

danthemangottschall said...

"As we were driving home, all three of us commented that those who see small-town Pennsylvanians through a closed-minded, left-leaning stereotypical prism would not have comprehended the simple beauty and spiritual closeness of what happened in that park. They would either have been among the small handful who left when the rain began, or they would have begrudgingly sat through the program, focused on the fact that they were damp and disappointed in the weather."

How true.

NoWayALiberal said...

Can we all say "Amen!"

Thank God for small town Americans who still "cling" to their faith.

john galt said...

Awesome vocals. Awesome "audience participation." ;) Thanks for reporting, Joanie.

SharonGold said...

What a simple, meaningful way to spend an evening--and it was made even more so by bad weather. I love it!

Anonymous said...

I had a completely different idea of what "southern gospel" music is. This stuff is great, great harmony and great words. Thank you for the introduction to something new for me.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this.

3timesalady said...

I can't think of a better word to describe this story than "enchanting." I wish I had been there.

livefreeordie said...

Obama and his entourage would never understand this kind of thing. It's too "human" for them. There's no power or prestige involved, just a devotion to God and a real interest in other people.

cheryl gereau said...

Some of the latest polls show Obama up by double digits. With America's future looking so bleak, it's nice to hear about such bright spots.

calbrindisi said...

The Booth Brothers’ blend would be perfect for many a secular ballad too.

cw-patriot said...

dawnsearlylight said:

The tenor in the video looks about 12 years old. :-)


He does look like a teenager. But all three of them are in their mid-thirties, with families of their own. :)

A post script:

This group has won many prestigious awards in the field of Christian music, and they sell many videos and CDs. Yet, at most of their concerts, when they bring up the subject of their newest CDs, they tell the audience that, if someone would like one of their CDs and cannot currently afford to buy it, he should feel free to simply take one home and send the money whenever he is able. And, if he is not able to do so at any time in the future, he should consider it a gift.

A good example of the genuine nature of their testimony.

LouBarakos said...

This group has won many prestigious awards in the field of Christian music, and they sell many videos and CDs. Yet, at most of their concerts, when they bring up the subject of their newest CDs, they tell the audience that, if someone would like one of their CDs and cannot currently afford to buy it, he should feel free to simply take one home and send the money whenever he is able. And, if he is not able to do so at any time in the future, he should consider it a gift.

A good example of the genuine nature of their testimony.


It's gratifying to hear stories about people who put their money where their mouth is.

John Cooper said...

It's great to hear that some Americans still adapt to adversity and carry on regardless.

It's also great to hear that some Americans brought umbrellas just in case.

arlene albrecht said...

It's always nice to read a human interest story that makes us realize that there is joy in the "little things." Too many people don't recognize that anymore.

Anonymous said...

Joanie, are you familiar with Singing News?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for starting my day off on the right foot. :>)

cw-patriot said...

Anonymous,

Yes, I am familiar with Singing News. Over the years, friends have given us copies to read. It's an interesting magazine for anyone who wants to keep up with gospel music. Thanks for the input. :)

~ joanie

smithy said...

What a great night you had! With what passes for "entertainment" these days, your night was unusually rare.

John Cooper said...

My favorite "Hillbilly Gospel" song: The Angels Rejoiced by Nicolette Larson. Turn it up.

robmaroni said...

Cooper, did you listen to Joanie's link to the Booth Brothers' song? Your Larson song and her Booth song are really different, but I suppose they would both be considered "gospel," and I'd pay to hear either of them perform.

John Cooper said...

Rob: Yes, I listened to the Booth Bros., and liked them. I'm sad to report that Nicolette Larson died in 1997 at age 45.

3timesalady said...

Rob Maroni,

You're right. Both gospel style convey the message, but they are very different. I like them both as well.

Max Shapiro said...

Joanie, your political columns are so astute and your personal stories are so interesting. If I haven't said it before, thank you for both.