Crisis 37

THE GREAT DEATH ISSUE

Crisis is published and edited by Tony Jasper. Articles are welcome and should be sent to tony.jasper@btinternet.com. Letters are always welcome.

Articles should be broadly in tune with the ethos of this on-line magazine and in the main should be concerned with the arts. Check back to previous issues for guidance. CRISIS generally appears on the third week of a month and articles should be sent by the first week of a month but obviously they may be held over. Photographic work is accepted when relevant. Space is available for charities but documentation of authenticity must be given. Advertising is possible with enquiries via the email address given. As and when CRISIS carries material associated with the work of Garth Hewitt.

THE REAPER STRIKES AT THE MUSIC BIZ 

And more

Lemmy and Phil Taylor of Motorhead have bid farewell. Interesting how most sources did not connect the two. Maurice White of Earth, Wind & Fire departs. More to my own distress is the passing of Paul Kantner, of  Jefferson Airplane and Starship. Saw the band once at Filmore West in   San Francisco and have all their albums.  Let’s hope the ‘strikes’ will go quiet for a while! (CRISI S 36 carried material on David Bowie)

US soul singer Nicholas Caldwell of the Whispers finds himself with a column obit in The Times. He married Alberts, six children coming from that, divorced the said lady and then later remarried her It appears he read a passage of Scripture to Alberta on the telephone and having started this it was finished byher. It led to him suggesting remarriage and in seven seconds a ‘yes’ is forthcoming. 

I was the adulterer and she remained true all those years we were separated.
Caldwell, Nicholas, 0bit, The Times, February 15. 2016. P 51.

Great Jewish Publisher

Another famed and respected publisher Lord Weidenfeld died on January 20. Reference to his debt to a Christian family who took him during the Second World Years meant in more recent,  his financial support to those Christians being persecuted has been covered earlier. It is 2015 he launched the Weidenfeld Safe Haven Fund to help embattled Syrian Christians. In an obit in the Guardian (January 21.p35) it is said that his parents Max and Rosa were not 0rthodox , but “instilled in their son a lasting understanding and pride of being a Jew.” His extraordinary outreach to religion and political arenas is found in Hella Pick’s superb obit in the Guardian.

THIRD WAY GETS THE PRINT REAPER

It’s announced that the Christian monthly journal Third Way is ceasing production. It dismays many and is another media removal from the Christian scene and one with influence outside of religious circles. It frequently carried interviews with major polit4ical and social figures, as well giving generous space to the overall arts. (see article in this issue
Obviously Third Way had its own theological base that appeared to be one fitting a radical conservative description..  At the same time it has  offered a quality that could compete with productions from the secular  publishing world. In the very beginning, It was trying to do something new in the Christian world, and it came to birth in the 1970s decade when there was so much Christian media input in any field you cared to mention. Compared with today they were great times.  Along the line Christians have lost touch with import communicatory forms.

Third Way was well written, always as up-to-date as a monthly can be, and brought before readers the issues that concern Christians of all persuasions. Unfortunately advertisement material has always been limited. It has relied on a low subscription readership, ‘occasional’ Purchases, and more so, commendatory underwriting   in its more recent days by the publishers of the Church Times  G.J. Palmer &Sons, and  who also are generous supporters of the Greenbelt festival.
Third Way emerged on the print scene in January 1976 – in lay out and even intent it could well find itself rubbing shoulders with the then highly successful New Society, and the political journals New Statesman   and Spectator, and in-fact looked very much like New Society in its lay-out. So it was for instance that an issue of June 1979 covered the disturbances in Southall, Jim Wallis of the Washington DC, Sojourner Community, Christian integrity in the Arts and examining the voice of far-left drama.  In the last year or so it has carried depth interviews with the likes of Jeremy Corbyn, Jeremy Paxman  and Andrew Mitchell M.P.  It talked to Francesca Martinez, ony Parsons, Suzanne MOORE,Robert Skidelsky,Wendy C ope, and Paul Mason. There has never been qualification that those people and others have a Faith. It has never been, as it were, a continual’ testimony time. ‘ ’It had its own film guru in Jeremy  Clarke to compete with knowledge and perception of any major newspaper or television station reviewer,. It utilised perceptive writers such as Catherine Von Ruhland, Roy McCloughhry, Paul Valley, James Cary, Dixie Wills and Sarah Dean. Perhaps at times it has been a little serious for its own good, but never afraid to discuss matters that some conservative evangelicals hope will just go away.  So it has asked where was God in the face of a husband contracted degenerative brain disease, inevitably bringing to the fore the “gay’ 
issue , and allowing a writer to say the Church has much to answer when it comes to attitudes and intolerances.   

So it has not been afraid to let the more liberal voice in Christian matters a-hearing.. Into this arena has come the like of Barbara Brown Taylor, seen in 2014 as one of the world’s most influential people of 2014 by Time magazine.
In the general  publishing world farewell then to the at least the print edition of The Independent.  The Indie’s younger sister, the I paper is sold. It often hits 300.000 copies at once a low price of 20p and more recent 30p, and the weekend edition adding another 20p. ]

EXCELLENT BRITISH DAILY CEASES PRINT ISSUE

The editor of The Independent Amol Rajan says the money will be invested in a continuing Indie digital product.  Once, the print paper hit over 400.000 sales, in recent t he figure scampers around the 40.000 mark, and with declining sale there is much less advertising and that means less revenue.. It becomes a vicious circle. On a quality assessment the whole thing is a sad affair. The Indie has brought a sharp clean lay- out to its pages that expresses the best in contemporary design. It has deservedly won praise for its photographic work. It has issued at the weekend beautifully designed and content varied material in its magazines. 

COMMENT ON THIRD WAY AND INDEPENDENT

It is too easy to say the demise of both can be found in shared factors, although some can be pushed forward. It can be said that overall the print world has been struggling and endlessly trying to find ways to combat the digital. He Indie has had significant investment without halting a general slide.  To a degree it entered an already fairly crowded market   and with   the Times becoming a tabloid it lost a little distinctiveness. But like so many things, there is always the plaintive cry of “why?” when something so goof will not appear on the newsstands to fight for sale with say The Guardian.  Yet of course Amol Rajan is dead certain the paper will flourish when let loose on the   internet., and that its high quality journalism will continue, even if inevitably some people are losing their jobs. 
On the other hand Third Way has always had a difficult journey, even when launched with love and affection back in the mid-1970s.  The religious print market is heavy with one-time good and successful journals, weekly, fortnightly and monthly biting the dust. After all there was Crusade, lively and informative, and for the more liberal New Christian, and there was the Christian, Renewal,  Alive,  Christian Woman, Breakthrough, Buzz,, Cross Rhythms, Strait, New Christian Music, The Cut, Jam, Tempo, The Month, His Paper, Youth, Epworth Review, Theology Today, Roadrunner, to name some. In newspapers, and journals,, with some still living, Expository Times, Evangelicals Now,  Salt, Reform, The Tablet, Evangelical Times,  The Baptist Times (now on-line)  Christianity Today, C EN publications, The War Cry, Salvationist,, Life + Work, Church Times,  Connexion, the Catholic weeklies, and yes, The Recorder.  Sot it might be argued there is still plenty out there for many of those named continue.
However Third Way had a younger appeal than some. It has been more culturally aware and given much space to what is happening ‘out there’ in the so-called secular world. Not in its favour, and many other titles named, has been the demise of the Christian bookshop, the lack of major Christian events outside of the summer conferences and gatherings, where a title could be seen, and hopefully purchased. .

For someone like me it is the demise of journals more aimed at younger people say 16-30 that carries the most worry. Here have been some excellent publications, especially Cross Rhythms, Strait and Breakthrough that all had writers well accepted in the general print world, and well possessed with knowledge, some to compete with anyone, such as Tony Cummings in Cross Rhythms. 

CHRISTIANS OFTEN CREATE THEIR OWN PROBLEMS

Along the way Christians by and large have sadly not thought it worth while to spend a few pounds, and of course the same is true of the  specifically Christian record world that is a pale shadow of its one-time strength. Along with the negative side has come the Christian input decline as local radio stations have been submerged into larger concerns, the disappearance for all intents and purposes of once strong regional television concerns. It is hard to pin anything down but it is none-the-less difficult to avoid contemplating the enormous damage that has been for one reason or another perpetuated.  Christians unaware of cultural and religious happenings, of reflection and debate delivered by good thinking writers, have no-one to talk to but themselves and limited horizons. 

Dan the man says it plain  and clear

It was an odd headline in The Independent February 13. 2016. P 19. that simply said “Presenter’s Christianity ‘will not affect his job”
The person in question is Dan Walker, who also presents After noon Edition on BBC’s5 Live and Football Focus on BBC1.  Walker replaces the veteran Bill Turnbull on BBC Breakfast. Walker appears on he Chris Evans Breakfast Show, February  12,  Walker, who does not work on Sundays, says he believes we live in a tolerant society. It is as if someone thinks Walker might quote   scripture or break into singing ‘How Great Thou Art, ’or announce some news and say something of that spirit can be found in James 3:11.
Walker told another paper that he would just like to get on with the job.  The son of a Baptist preacher, Walker speaking about his ‘no-work’’ on a Sunday

Says

I don’t get anyone in a spiritual deadlock. I don’t turn into a weird pumpkin at one minute past midnight on a Sunday morning – I just enjoy spending my Sunday with my family at church with my friends.

Tangled up in hues? The Paintings of Bob Dylan

ROB  MURDOCH TAKES US ON A VISUAL JOURNEY OF THE GREAT MAN

‘Train wheels running through the back of my memory
When I ran on a hilltop following a pack of wild geese
Someday everything is gonna sound like a rhapsody
When I paint my masterpiece’
(‘When I Paint My Masterpiece’, 1971)
‘All you can do, is do what you must’
(‘Buckets of Rain’, 1975)

Bob Dylan, born Robert Zimmerman in Minnesota in 1941, the man who wrote much of the sound track to the lives of all of us who were born in the 1940s. To some, a plagiarist, a charlatan of limited talent. To others, a creative genius, a true poet, whose imagination caught the zeitgeist in a way and to an extent that no other popular musical artist has managed. I place myself firmly in the latter camp. People write books about Dylan, long and very detailed books. The thoughts and illustrations which follow , which will focus mainly on the paintings which he has published during the past decade or so, can do no more than barely scratch the surface.

I first stumbled across Dylan in the summer of 1963, at a folk club in Richmond, Surrey. No, he wasn’t there, unfortunately. But another guy was, and he had just come back from seeing and hearing Dylan in Greenwich Village in New York. He did a couple of pretty good Dylanesque versions  of  ‘Blowing in the Wind’, and ‘Don’t Think Twice it’s Alright’, and I was hooked from that moment on.  Always the consummate self re-inventor ,  along the way Dylan has written and performed folk songs, protest songs, blues and rock, religious and gospel songs, ballads and romantic love songs, and others which simply defy categorisation. If categorisation matters.  As he wrote in ‘All I Really Want To Do’ (1964) he wasn’t looking to classify, simplify, analyse or categorise. And as we know, he was never afraid to borrow (steal, some would say) from those who had gone before, whether from Woody Guthrie or Frank Sinatra. Listen to Shadows in the Night, his 2015 album of Sinatra covers. Of course he doesn’t sound like Sinatra, but the feeling, the emotion, which he puts into his interpretations of those old standards is for my money just as great. Maybe even greater.  When he stole, Dylan stole with love. 

And maybe the same can be said about Dylan’s paintings.  In his 2011 series ‘Asia’ one of his works, ‘Opium’, is almost identical in composition to a Leon Busy photograph ‘Woman Smoking Opium’. And another, ‘Trade’, bears a striking resemblance to an untitled  Henri Cartier-Bresson photograph from 1948. Dylan doesn’t deign to offer much of a defence to such criticism or to previous charges that he stole the ideas of earlier musicians, other than to observe in 2012, ‘It’s an old thing – it’s part of the tradition. It goes back a long way.’ And in that he has been supported by many others : eminent bluesman B B King said ‘I don’t think anybody steals; all of us borrow’. (1998).

In the world of art, Camille Pissarro accused Paul Gauguin of copying his ideas, of ‘poaching on my ground’. Marcel Duchamp’s ‘Mona Lisa’ gave da Vinci’s original a moustache…Even TS Eliot acknowledged that ‘mature poets stole’ from their predecessors.
So let’s move on to some of Dylan’s artwork.  No fan could look at the Matisse- like ‘Boxing Gym’ (2015) without thinking of ‘Hurricane’, the 1976 song he wrote to campaign for the release of boxer Ruben Carter, wrongly accused of murder.  And on the right, ‘Train Tracks’ (2014), one of the classic  iconic American images, which he anticipated in that 1971 number ‘When I Paint My Masterpiece’. The lurid red sky invites the viewer to conclude that there may be blood on those tracks.

And finally, his ‘homage’ to van Gogh, ‘Sunflowers’ (2014).  These paintings are clear, bright, essentially naturalistic in impact whilst expressionist in style. The question is: are they artistically ‘good’?
Again, as so often the case with Dylan, opinions vary. Maurice Williams of the Royal Academy sees ‘vigorous brushwork, brilliant translucent colours.’ The Guardian saw ‘a basic toughness and competence, themes which illustrated American imagery, which underscored and enriched his achievements’. Michael Glover in the Independent was less positive : ‘verve and a brash immediacy, but technically crude’. Dylan himself simply says : ‘The main thing is, is it interesting in its own right.’ An equally valid question might be: Is it more interesting because of the artist’s other achievements and all that we know of him? 

I leave the reader to make his/her own judgements…but they look great on my wall!