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Padre Steve’s World at Five Years: Writing My Way to Freedom as a Passionate Moderate

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“If you want to be a writer, you have to write every day… You don’t go to a well once but daily. You don’t skip a child’s breakfast or forget to wake up in the morning…” Walter Moseley

Friends of Padre Steve’s World. Five years ago I began to write on Padre Steve’s World…Musings of Passionate Moderate.

The name was chosen for a number of reasons. Padre Steve’s World hearkened back to one of my favorite Saturday Night Live skits and later films, Wayne’s World. The idea of musings is fairly self explanatory, these are, regardless of the subject my musings, inspired by whatever muse inhabits me. Finally the idea of a “Passionate Moderate” hearkened back to my days in seminary. Passionate and moderate are not terms that one generally links together, in fact when I was in seminary the term moderate was a term of distain used by some Christian Conservatives and Fundamentalists to vilify those that did not match their definition of a conservative. I chose the two ideas because to many people, on the right and the left cannot imagine a “Moderate” being passionate.

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However that moderation does not mean that I do not have strong ideas, beliefs and convictions, even when I can see truth in what others who do not agree with me have to say. Over the past five years my identity has become more established. I am a moderate, but in some ways I am a progressive liberal, in others a conservative. Regardless of where I fall in the religious, social and political continuum I am passionate about what I believe, I do seek the truth, but at the same time I attempt to maintain a moderate view that allows me to hear what others say and believe with an open heart.

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Padre Steve’s World began as a place to share my struggles with faith, PTSD and its effects on my life and coming home from war changed. It was something that was born out of pain, but also born out of love, love for writing, love for truth, love for justice and love of knowledge.

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As I began to write my life was coming apart, and writing became a place where could express my inner angst, find community and begin to heal. Engaging my creative muse enabled me to share those things that it was hard to do anywhere else. Many times those were the hardest things to say, the hardest things to put down in pen and ink, the things that were the secrets of my heart. Sometimes, just trying to write them was gut wrenching and filled my eyes with tears. But as I wrote, I discovered myself, discovered people for whom what I wrote resinated, and others that Stephen King said something that finds an echo in my life and heart:

“The most important things are the hardest to say. They are the things you get ashamed of, because words diminish them — words shrink things that seemed limitless when they were in your head to no more than living size when they’re brought out. But it’s more than that, isn’t it? The most important things lie too close to wherever your secret heart is buried, like landmarks to a treasure your enemies would love to steal away. And you may make revelations that cost you dearly only to have people look at you in a funny way, not understanding what you’ve said at all, or why you thought it was so important that you almost cried while you were saying it. That’s the worst, I think. When the secret stays locked within not for want of a teller but for want of an understanding ear.”

That being said when I began much of what I wrote about was either dealing with my struggles or about things I knew a lot about. Those subjects included history, military subjects, theology and the Christian life and baseball. As I began to expand my writings the topics broadened to include political commentary, music, civil rights and the role of religion in public life.

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When I did this I decided not to shy away from controversial topics and to risk the rejection of some. The consequences of this his became quite real in September of 2010 when I was told to leave a church that I had served for 14 years as a Priest. Since then I still write about topics that are controversial, though I do try my best to be fair when I do so.

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Mark Twain advised writers to “write what they know.” Fortunately for me that was not hard, I know a lot about a lot of subjects. That is not a boast, but merely a recognition that between a lot of academic study, a lot of reading and a lot of life experience I have a pretty good repository of knowledge, including a lot of odd knowledge. That would make me a Keeper Of Odd Knowledge, or KOOK. I can live with that too.

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That being said I am not one to think that I know it all, I follow the advice of the late manager of the Baltimore Orioles, Earl Weaver that “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.” Since PTSD and the Moral Injury that I had suffered in Iraq was kicking my ass when I began to write, and I was finding that I really didn’t know much of anything that I thought I knew about life I did take this advice to heart.

Stephen King noted that “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”  The fact is I have always been an avid reader, mostly of history, military history and theory, church history, theology, biography and other more academic writings from the social and political sciences. I do not read a lot of fiction, however that being said there are some books as well as book series that I like. I love fiction that deals with history, as well as mysteries and science fiction, the latter because both lure me into the realm of possibility and mystery, subjects that fascinate me.

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The fact that I read a lot inspires me to write on a wide variety of subjects. Likewise the more I write the more I become conscious of life as well as a desire to seek out truth, and when I write, whether it is something to do with history, faith, baseball or even my occasional forays into fiction and fantasy. As I do this it makes me appreciate the other writers even more, because I no longer see them just in light of what they write, but how they struggle with the same things I struggle with, I can appreciate the truth and beauty in what they write, and it decreases my sense of isolation, which since Iraq has often been crushing. I can agree with Annie Lamott wrote:

“Becoming a writer is about becoming conscious. When you’re conscious and writing from a place of insight and simplicity and real caring about the truth, you have the ability to throw the lights on for your reader. He or she will recognize his or her life and truth in what you say, in the pictures you have painted, and this decreases the terrible sense of isolation that we have all had too much of.”

I read all the time and I try to write every day, if I cannot do that I feel that I have missed out on something. If I do not write it is almost if I have missed breathing. My mind is constantly musing on things to write about and sometimes it is only the fact that I have a day job that keeps me from writing even more than I do. Like Hedley Lamarr (Harvey Korman) in Blazing Saddles I have to admit that “My mind is aglow with whirling, transient nodes of thought careening through a cosmic vapor of invention.” But I digress…

Admittedly I do write a lot and I do try to write every day. Not counting what I do for work, academic pursuits or teaching I have posted over 1700 articles on this website since I started it in February 2009. If I ever take the time to organize and edit what I have on this site there is probably enough for several books.

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For me writing has been part of my quest for healing, the discovery of truth and the desire to be part f a community of people that is bigger than me, or anything that I can do on my own.  It really is about life, and if as some would think that I am a fool for doing this, then that is their loss. I don’t mind being considered a fool in this quest. Ray Bradbury, author of Fahrenheit 451 wrote:

“If you want to write, if you want to create, you must be the most sublime fool that God ever turned out and sent rambling. You must write every single day of your life. You must read dreadful dumb books and glorious books, and let them wrestle in beautiful fights inside your head, vulgar one moment, brilliant the next. You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads.”

I can agree with Bradbury’s thoughts on this. I do not know what the future holds. If I were God I would live to be one hundred years old and be active reading, writing, thinking and interacting with others who seek truth.

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So tonight I wish the writers, artists and thinkers who read this the best. To close I provide you the benediction of Bradbury:

“I wish you a wrestling match with your Creative Muse that will last a lifetime. I wish craziness and foolishness and madness upon you. May you live with hysteria, and out of it make fine stories — science fiction or otherwise. Which finally means, may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.”

Peace

Padre Steve+

 

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Padre Steve’s Favorite Fun “Good Times” Songs

I love music and there is something about the less serious of songs that make them really fun to listen to.  Since I have written about my favorite songs of the 1970s and 1980s as well as my favorite love songs I started thinking about my favorite funny songs.  Some are connected to movies but other were songs that somehow or someway that found their way into my life.  So here they are in all their humorous glory.

The first on the list is Herman’s Hermits – I’m into Something Good http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zxDh2sYQRpo which came out in 1965 and the video from the movie  The Naked Gun with Leslie Nielsen and Priscilla Presley http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zrhzt51UYZA

Manfred Mann Band

Another feel good song was Manfred Mann’s – Do Wah Diddy which came out in 1965 and when it was used in the movie Stripes became a song that in some places was actually used as a marching “Jodie” in some Army units  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oj9fofFGXKc The Stripes version is here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZPIU0wGVkQ It is hard to believe now but this came out about the time I enlisted in the Army and the uniforms take me back to my ROTC pre-commissioning “advanced camp” at Fort Lewis Washington.

Since I grew up in the 1960s and 1970s the drug culture was a part of life. I never was part of that scene being a ROTC nerd but had many friends who dabbled in various types of drugs in that era. Ringo Starr’s No No Song http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iVGerWFYotQ was a classic of the era.

Not to be outdone by a Brit the American band Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show – produced a number of songs that dealt with all sorts of experimental behavior, many of which were written by children’s author Shel Silverstein.  At the Freaker’s Ball http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hs5MAWinxqQ which came out in 1974 was one of the more outlandish of the mostly outlandish songs that they came out with in the early 1970’s.

One of the classic “feel good” songs ever produced was Three Dog Night’s – Joy to the World which came out in 1970 http://video.nate.com/209973994 I remember this one from back in 5th grade when I lived in Long Beach and it was on the AM radio.

Jim Croce’s Bad Bad Leroy Brown http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VaVPASJmeMU was a fun song which I remember on the radio as well when I was in junior high school.

One song which came out in my sophomore year of college when I first started dating Judy was Rupert Holmes – “Escape (The Piña Colada Song)” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NrcQqCii4Rk This too was a fun song which in some ways epitomized the era.

When I was in high school there were a number of songs that were great to groove to including K.C and the Sunshine Band’s Get Down Tonight http://www.myvideo.de/watch/1959599/KC_And_The_Sunshine_Band_Get_Down_Tonigh, and the Commodore’s Brick House


Blondie’s- Island of Lost Souls http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N7gqErYW0K0 is a very quirky song which I fell in love with the first time that I heard it. It is one of those songs that once I get it in my head it is frequently hours or days that I find myself singing it or humming it walking down the halls at work or in my car.

The Johnny Cash- A Boy Named Sue http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n–1wR4L7zg came out when I was in grade school. I think I remember it from at least 5th grade but I am not sure. I think of this song every time North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Il hits the news, instead of a “Boy named Sue” I think of the “Boy named Kim.”

How can I not go without an Abba song? They had a number of quirky and fun songs to match many of their more serious ballads and love songs.  The song When I Kissed the Teacher http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VR4LJjCBWE0 is one of those that I thought about anytime I had a really good looking and nice teacher in high school or college.  Somehow learning is easier when the teacher is a really hot lady with a nice personality. I don’t know why but it is.

Elton John’s – Crocodile Rock http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y2Ta0qCG8No hearkened back to the 1950s and was always a favorite fun song for me.

Since I am in the Navy and grew up in a Navy family the Village People’s In the Navy http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=InBXu-iY7cw has always been a favorite.  The ship featured in the video is the USS Francis Hammond FF-1067 a Knox class frigate. The song still shows up on occasion in things dealing with the Navy.  I can’t remember a funny song about the Army when I was in although we did use Do Wah Diddy on occasion.

The Monster Mash http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g9Dz5yui0Rc was always a favorite at Halloween.  This version was produced by the legendary Dr. Demento.

Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=irp8CNj9qBI was a totally quirky song and was featured in the movie Wayne’s World http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nTheG–2NE0

The Go Go’s Vacation http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eo8S3iFdzUc was a great song of its era and is still fun to listen to even almost 30 years later.

Lindsey Buckingham’s – Holiday Road http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_nLiQBV6A7c was the into song to the movie National Lampoon’s Vacation and that version is featured here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_a6e0qhfzu0&feature=related

Rocky Horror Picture Show’s Time Warp http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yarYjuN-m8I was one of many fun songs from that cult classic.

The band Sha Na Na was a nostalgia type band which launched not long after the movie American Graffiti during the 1970’s nostalgia for the 1950s. The band was one of a number of acts including movies and the series Happy Days which helped introduce my generation to the music of the 1950s giving us something in common with our parents, imagine that? Their song Sha Na Na http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1NyK3df0xaw is a classic of that genre.

The Bangles Manic Monday which came out in 1986 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s48kuKLf0mE was yet another of the quirky classic 80’s feel good songs by a girls band.

Weird Al Yankovic produced many parody songs including Eat It http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HyfcOriVKBM a parody of Michael Jackson’s Beat it.

My dad was transferred from Long Beach to the Bay Area in 1971.  We moved to Stockton the birthplace of the “drive by shooting” which is about 8 miles from a little town called Lodi.  John Fogerty and Creedence Clearwater Revival did this song about being stuck in Lodi California.  The Song Lodi http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ks4PkmoRnMo is one of those songs that you really appreciate if you have ever been to Lodi.

Ray Parker Jr.’s song Ghostbusters became an iconic song from the 1980s when it was featured in the movie Ghostbusters starring Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd, Harold Ramis and Sigourney Weaver. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g4uxIo4t7xM&a=fnwJqf_wcQA&playnext_from=ML

Of course when it comes to fun you can’t leave out the Blues Brothers Everybody Needs Somebody to Love http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCTJeT2i9QU was just one of many feel good songs in this classic which introduced many of my generation to the great blues artists and the songs Shake Your Tail Feather http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rN5V-6yCbpg and Aretha Franklin’s Think were classics from that movie.

The Monkey’s Daydream Believer http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xo9pi_the-monkees-daydream-believer_music is one of those catchy songs that once you hear it is hard to get out of your mind.

Katrina & the Waves Walking on Sunshine http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eONhto0x_nI is a great feel good or happy song from the mid 1980s.

Of course no one can ever leave off Elvis Presley’s Jailhouse Rock http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tpzV_0l5ILI from any collection of fun songs although I think I like this version from the Blues Brothers better  http://www.myvideo.de/watch/3656690/The_Blues_Brothers_Jailhouse_Rock

So anyway, I do hope you enjoy these fun songs from the past.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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