Being Good

chartresbeamby Glenn Fairman   3/1/14
Let it be said now: the Christian has no absolute claim over morality. Indeed, I agree wholeheartedly with the statement that affirms that people can be quite moral whether or not they are believers. And moreover, such people may often surpass the Christian in the wealth of their benevolence – which on its own might well be an indictment against the believer’s sincere conversion. All healthy humans are cognizant of the moral law or “Tao” (in C.S. Lewis’ words) which is why we can even speak intelligently about morality throughout the panorama of time and culture. And if the truth were to be told, some of the most flawed and broken personalities in the world have in fact been Christians. Moreover, we should ever keep in mind that churches are not meant to be stuffy country clubs for haughty souls who have “arrived” spiritually, but hospitals for weary and soul-sick people who can no longer claim the strength and wisdom necessary to tackle the mundane absurdity of living a life bereft of God at face value — and under their own steam. Nevertheless, is the goal of the Christian merely “being good?”[pullquote]…we should ever keep in mind that churches are not meant to be stuffy country clubs for haughty souls who have “arrived” spiritually, but hospitals for weary and soul-sick people…[/pullquote]

But so often, the distinction between morality and redemption is lost upon those whose perspective is from the outside looking in. For the non-believer, the Christian church can appear to be a formidable Wall of Judgment: a suffocating penitentiary of insufferable restraints and caveats that vie against the prevailing culture’s humanist zeitgeist. And in many instances this may, on its surface, seem to be a reasonably valid point. So often, that putrid stench of the Pharisee rears its ugly head in our corruption of the sublime Gospel message; and law, rather than grace, is unwittingly given theological ascendance for the Christian who still wrestles with the diabolic worm of pride—that most deadly of sins.

Be that as it may, hypocrisy is not the divine measure of our orthodox belief, for Jesus strongly condemned those who took refuge in their false righteousness and warned those who would erect stumbling blocks for men who dangled over the razor’s edge of belief. In his three year ministry, Jesus was determined to live a life consumed with service, and the objects of his longing were to be found in the destitute, the helpless, the outcast, and the despised. Though He was no respecter of persons, from the Gospels we are told that He was drawn to the lost and the broken. The Biblical Jesus was not an aggrandizer of self, although he called all men to Him. He was and is, above all things, the Hero of a great reclamation project wherein a Father and His wayward sons could be eternally reconciled if the latter consented to being washed, healed, adorned and made whole. If He discounted men at all, it was those who assumed the air of self-sufficient satisfaction: those whose religion extended only to the minimal limits of their legal obligations – and not a step further. In this day, the Galilean issues the same warnings he once uttered two millennia ago to the same breed of unreflective charlatans whose soul mirrors nothing that is not their own. God is in the metamorphosis business; and since these personal transformations that God is working in each of us through His Spirit are for the most part silent, incremental, and invisible – often times even to us, the true character of Christ’s Church is frequently misunderstood or slandered through the presumption of outsiders passing their ill-considered judgments.

A Pastor once explained it in this way: Christianity is much like the Gothic cathedral of Chartres: with its rough grey stoned flying buttresses and foreboding spires casting an ominous and rather cold presence to the casual viewer. From the outside it appears formidable and imposing, albeit coldly beautiful in an unearthly fashion, as the sunlight glinting off the structure’s stained-glass windows reflects a muted collection of colors that are pleasing to the eye. But it is from the inside that we fully discern their awe-inspiring beauty. Viewed from its interior, the Cathedral’s ethereal array of patterns and colors that are displayed as the sun filters through its wondrous stained glass windows is beyond description. Visitors are astounded as the ever shifting light reveals every sublime nuance on the structure’s walls and arches. Indeed, it is the very light shining in from without that gives the interior of Chartres its true breathtaking substance: without which the architecture’s soul should not have been discernible. [pullquote]What appears from the outside as a rigorous mass of “thou shalt nots” are in truth understood quite differently from the vantage point of the transmuted heart.[/pullquote]

Through this analogy, it is the very substance of the Nazarene’s teachings which reveal a comeliness that must be viewed and appreciated from the “inside,” so to speak. What appears from the outside as a rigorous mass of “thou shalt nots” are in truth understood quite differently from the vantage point of the transmuted heart. The Word of the sovereign Lord, viewed from the perspective of the Cross, unlocks the boundless concern of a caring Father who desires above all else that His children find rest and happiness in Him: since He is the only sanctuary where joy can be had in the bounds of eternity. If this all seems a mystery, then it is a blessed mystery. If Christianity seems externally to be difficult, it is because all worthy things that the human soul aspires to are fraught with briars and stumbling blocks. And as G.K. Chesterton so wisely observed: “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.” Like the cathedral windows, the secret is resolved when the light of the divine penetrates the human soul and awakens faculties that were formerly dead or dormant.

I suppose that society in general cares little whether one or all of the restraints found in: revelatory command, statutory law, shame, or even guilt will keep a man from absconding with his neighbor’s ass or his wife, just so long as he keeps them at a distance longer than the reach of his covetous hand. Perhaps Divine reason or the holy “Thou shalt not” might have been sufficient to draw men to peace in civil society, if the first couple had not become totally infected with the contagion of sin — or what the humanist might refer to as “unenlightened self-interest.” The truth, however, is that many are not disposed to moral virtue, although some men may possess a relative predisposition to justice, mercy and equity.

But the Christian God seeks a higher standard of consciousness in His human children; and their personal claims to righteousness are said in the Hebrew to be as “filthy menstrual cloths” in His presence. It is not man’s ethical window dressings that God desires, nor any of the works of our unregenerate hands. He would have us spotless in His presence, and nothing short of Calvary’s chrysalis is sufficient for this purpose. A true Christian on the Transformation Road will conform in time to that benevolent morality, but the source of his behavior will be God through the lens of his surrendered life; and the light that shines from his good works will be a light that is not his own any more than the reflection in the looking glass belongs to the unpolished mirror. As C.S. Lewis so aptly describes that Christian prism from which the believer apprehends the world: “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” On the other side of Golgotha, the cosmos appears infinitely changed to the redeemed.

When we claw beneath the essence of Christianity, we find that it is less about a moral regimen of “being good” and all about being incrementally, painfully, and lovingly transformed unto the image of Christ–the mirror reflection of the Father. We find that it is less and less about struggling along the moral continuum of externalities that might lead to hypocrisy or anxiety and ultimately all about traversing the rejuvenating beam of light from death unto life, by way of the enigmatic Cross.

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Glenn Fairman writes from Highland, Ca. He can be reached at arete5000@dslextreme.com. • (3611 views)

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36 Responses to Being Good

  1. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    “we should ever keep in mind that churches are not meant to be stuffy country clubs for haughty souls who have “arrived” spiritually, but hospitals for weary and soul-sick”

    Funny, I saw this sentiment on a church’s signboard last night. I had never seen this phrase before and here I see it twice in less than 24 hours.

    It goes to show what my tenth grade teacher, Mrs. Edwards, always said about new words, i.e. when you see a new word, if you keep your eyes open you will see it again within 2 or 3 weeks. This will help you reinforce its meaning. Seems the same could be true for good thoughts.

    • Glenn Fairman says:

      I would have liked to have given credit for that thought to its originator. I have myself heard its essence explained many times in many ways. It says a lot about the faith’s capacity to humble men who so effortlessly drift from a position of brokenness to one where the pride of life discounts every effort that the Galilean stood for. Christianity calls us to continually reassess ourselves, lest we slide into the error awaiting us at both ends of human action. How fitting that we must be emptied and broken before we finally “get it.” As Leonard Cohen would say…..”that’s how the light gets in.”

    • Glenn Fairman says:

      I can’t agree more with that insight.

  2. Lovely piece, Glenn. Bravo. This is a message that must be said and said again and again. The door of Christianity is wide open — no pedigree needed. The interesting thing about Christian hamartiology is that sin is such a wide array of human thoughts and behaviors of which both guilt and pride are part, so that even if we behave quite well, there’s always those trip-switches that dump us right back into needing divine assistance.

  3. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Facts are indeed stubborn things. And one of those facts is that life is inherently esoteric, mysterious, even mystical. Thus there is room in this world for art, poetry, and drawing outside the lines. Some may look at a pretty painting of a landscape and wonder, “Why bother? You have only to look at the countryside with your own eyes or to take a photo.”

    Glenn’s words need no defense. As one commentor at American Thinker noted, his words are reminiscent of C.S. Lewis. But I would say, even more so, his words remind one of the Christian mystic.

    Literalism is not particularly kind to the idea of understanding a Creator. It tends to be in the human heart to think in terms of Dick and Jane. This is what I often deride as reducing Christianity to “Jesus Magic,” which becomes a mere entitlement-like transaction between the person and the state (even if a Higher state), a mere quid pro quo. There is no deeper understanding or change of heart or mind. Whether the Creator accepts that from His children is probably so. But who, frankly, wants to stay in Kindergarten forever?

    One person at AT said, I’ll be happy when someone translates this philosophy speak article into ‘normal life speak’. Well, frankly, that’s something we are supposed to do when we run into thoughts more complex than Dick-and-Jane. One could say, that is the entire point of exegesis.

    For instance, one of Glenn’s points that caused someone consternation was:

    “We find that it is less and less about struggling along the moral continuum of externalities that might lead to hypocrisy or anxiety and ultimately all about traversing the rejuvenating beam of light from death unto life, by way of the enigmatic Cross.”

    That is (in the words of my exegesis on top of Glenn’s), don’t worry so damn much about what other people think. You’re not in this to win class president or Miss Congeniality. Raise your sites higher than ten feet in front of you. After all, that’s how we first learn to drive, especially on the highway. I remember the driving instructor telling me not to focus ten yards in front of the car, for if I did I would find myself weaving all over the road as I tried to keep making tiny corrections. Instead, focus further ahead and that will smooth out the ride and put you on a true course.

    And, note, Glenn’s words quoted above don’t mean “So don’t try to do good rather than bad as it might cause you anxiety.” They might not even mean what I interpreted them to mean. But they certainly do mean that the idea of being Christ-like is richer than Dick-and-Jane.

    Expanding the mind, heart, and soul are not bad things, but they are often uncomfortable things. And one of the rewards of pressing this point is ridicule. The greater reward is understanding.

  4. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    A very plucky and astute fellow at American Thinker (Chestertonian) said in response to this article:

    I’m still surprised at how much traction the “Christianity is authoritarian” canard gets. In a universe of potentially infinite possibilities, there are Ten Commandments, or “thou shalt nots.” Ten is insufferable? People will actually learn Klingon or memorize Tolkein’s Elven language, but thrash about like a 2-year-old at the opera if one suggests they read the Catechism to learn what the Catholic Church actually believes and teaches.

    The same lot who bemoan the prohibition against coveting your neighbor’s wife or sailboat have a dozen rules of their own for how they want their steak dinner cooked and served (Thou shalt not scorch the peas!).

    The same people who say, “I don’t need religion to tell me how to live” will celebrate the EPA telling everyone how to drill a hand well on their own property.

    Get over yourselves and go eat your peas.

    Don’t you love it when you run into someone who can think for himself and does so with such skill and wit?

    • Glenn Fairman says:

      Brad: A bit of advice– Those who stand at the edge of belief cannot be too careful of what they read. It seems that the God of Abraham can be “very unscrupulous” in the manner in which he obtains His followers. (a paraphrase of CS Lewis.)

      As always, It seems that there are those who want to crucify me on style points rather than the message of this piece. I am good with the latter, but find the former more problematic. Here’s why:

      I should say that it is puzzling to find on a site like AT a contingent of those unhappy readers who feel compelled to demand a 5th grade reductionism for all thoughts and vocabulary. Even on a Conservative site, where readers tend to be more literate, we find that the creeping stench of democratic homogeneity wants its Burger King and it wants it now—cut up for them in small bites.

      I really did not think this piece was at all difficult in comprehension– form-wise, although the paradox of “being good” and the orthodox Gospel message of becoming transformed could be lost on the outsider. I have actually tried to dumb down these pieces, but I found them so distasteful that I would sooner give up the craft and start laying cement.

      In a society that has drank the poison of cultural democracy deeply, it seems that if one does not write for the ear of all, like that 5th grade textbook, one is either an elitist or is just showing off. That this angers people is puzzling. I initially found Milton highly off putting by the language—I couldn’t just blow through it like a Drudge article. But when I took time with it I began to expand with it–and the beauties unleashed for the seeker are exquisite beyond words. Only in a corrupted democracy do men claim that the lowest common denominator is a right, a prerequisite, and a virtue. God forbid that we should have to learn a new word or read over a paragraph to divine the author’s intent.

      This is not to say that I am comparing my writing to Milton’s. I couldn’t even take out his trash. But someone on the other site mentioned that Hemingway didn’t need to write like I do. Personally, my preference runs more to Stan Lee than Ernest H. Everyman has his audience and no man can please everyman. Hopefully I can continue writing in a way that gives me delight; or I too might find the company of strong drink a solace—-or end my days with the business end of a revolver.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Even on a Conservative site, where readers tend to be more literate, we find that the creeping stench of democratic homogeneity wants its Burger King and it wants it now—cut up for them in small bites.

        I agree. That’s why I keep you around. You smarten up the place considerably. Thank God all it takes is a right-click on a word to get to my computer dictionary. 😀

        No, I didn’t think that piece was all that difficult either. I’ve read difficult (Aquinas, some Augustine, John of the Cross) and your words were clear…to me. But then, that’s probably because I’ve done a fair amount of reading of this kind of material.

        And they should thank you for bringing this kind of stuff to the masses so that others can gain some practice in this. I hate to think of ourselves as “the masses.” But we all are in a way….until a critical mass occurs and we can become Western Civilization again…maybe even Christendom.

        Only in a corrupted democracy do men claim that the lowest common denominator is a right, a prerequisite, and a virtue.

        LOL. That’s a keeper. I might put that on my refrigerator.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        …although the paradox of “being good” and the orthodox Gospel message of becoming transformed could be lost on the outsider.

        That reminds me of one of my favorite distinctions. It’s what Dennis Prager refers to as being “nice” but not good. I’ll have to do an article on that.

        It’s fair for the reader to ask if such distinctions are merely intellectual (that is, the construct of clever minds only, with little, if any, correspondence with reality) or if there is some substance to them, perhaps when you unpack them. And as to whose job it is to unpack them, well, that’s why they call it “thinking.”

        And as I’ve mentioned before, sometimes just one of your paragraphs is suitable as the topic for a whole essay. But that’s a strength, not a weakness, for I’m often critical of the conservative press which typically takes one Fairman-paragraph-level idea and pads it into a whole book. I’m tired of reading these books. I’m tired of spending my money on these books. You are, by far, the greatest value going in terms of compactness.

        There’s another point you touched on regarding the Burger King democratic homogeneity we all seem to be devolving to, where (I would say) today’s obsession with “equality” (which translates into passive non-judgmental acceptance of garbage) replaces a fine-tuned appreciation for the better things (and ideas) in life.

        First off, none of this is a statement about American Thinker’s readers (or at least commenters) who are the best I’ve ever seen, including our site here (which excels in quality, but you have to give AT the nod at the moment in terms of the quantity). But it is becoming increasingly difficult to have an intellectual life in this country.

        Frankly, I’m becoming a foreigner to most people…or vice versa. This site is a nice outlet. The Left (always the stupid Left) talks about such things as “food deserts.” But they’re creating the biggest desert of all, the intellectual desert. (Note, they created the “food deserts” as well by letting thugs run amok in neighborhoods driving out those who would supply the food at low cost.)

        I’m going to sound arrogant, elitist, and perhaps a bit bitter. But most of the people “out there” I have no desire to interact with. It’s as if we’re all caught in the movie, “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” I don’t think like a Marxist (or “Progressive”). For me, such complex and important issues as homosexual marriage don’t begin and end with the words “marriage equity.” But, increasing, we live in a dumbed-down sound-byte culture.

        My aim is to be clear, frank, and interesting. But I admit I do this (blogging) as much for my own sanity as to “change the world.”

        • Timothy Lane says:

          Many years ago, Charley Reese commented (he was then one of the columnists in the Conservative Chronicle, which I’ve received for over 20 years) that his ability to articulate his message may well have been crucial to keep him from exploding. As might be guessed by the occasional violent urges I display (especially toward jihadists and their sympathizers), much the same can be said of me. The ability to find an outlet for our sense of outrage with the many flaws of post-modern life is indeed very valuable.

        • Pokey Possum says:

          “I’m going to sound arrogant, elitist, and perhaps a bit bitter. But most of the people “out there” I have no desire to interact with.”

          Brad, you arrogant ass!

          As far as composition goes, that first part was quick and easy (and a joke, by the way), but the rest of this will take much more time than I really should spend, and probably most of my day’s allotment of brain cells.

          Don’t I wish I could sit down at my computer and tap out my thoughts like a cat coughs up a fur ball!? Don’t I wish I could express myself with an endless vocabulary like belts of ammo slung across my chest ready to be loaded and fired!? I have all these thoughts in my head, but when I go to write them down they vaporize like fog on a sunny morning. Or the smoke of a shot to the temple. Damn…..what was I going to say next?

          Late last night, I was composing an email response to one of this site’s beloved brothers. This example is telling, both of my respect for the man but also my frustration at writing. I wrote and edited for over an hour. I let it age overnight, like fine wine – vintage Sunday. I spent another hour this morning, adding and editing. I think I ended up sending three sentences, two of which were quotes. And my only original sentence contained the word “effect”. Dang it, KFZ! I’m probably right on that one only 80% of the time. But after sitting there juggling “affect”/ “effect” for more than a few minutes, I finally said “what the heck” and hit the send button. It was a tough call.

          Sure, I could “read a book”. I have read a few good ones. Someday I vow to finish “An American Tragedy”, Deanna (I got as far as the drowning before summer was over). Am I willing to forfeit those things that I value now so I can learn to converse without embarrassment with you intellectuals?

          No, I’m not. It would be like a paraplegic climbing Mt. Everest (yes, it has been done). It would be like me learning to play the piano. I sit at the piano and I ache in my inner being to express myself with the poem that is the river that is the keys lifting the hammers that strike the strings with the melodic equivalent of honey dripping from the comb. (That was just for fun.). I took piano lessons for years by my mother’s insistence. I cannot play piano….but I love to sing! I’ve been told by some that my singing has stirred their souls to the point of shedding tears! Okay, joke if you like. But I spend the time I have doing those things God has gifted me to do, and those things I am capable of doing.

          So I’m not an intellectual. So what. I don’t have an arsenal of $5 words at my disposal. I use the “define” feature on my IPad every time I read one of the articles posted here, more often on Glenn’s. I could be bitter that I lost some brain cells when I quit breathing on the day I was born. I could make excuses about getting kicked in the head by a horse when I was nineteen. But I won’t. Maybe I just did.

          My point is this (finally!). I really enjoy reading all that you have to say. All of you. Sometimes even Faba. I admire your collective intellects. I value the stories, the lessons, the truths you share. I want to read what you have to say and I hope it’s a little difficult for me to understand the first time through. Because that is why you are posting here – to expand minds and to shed light in the dark places.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            Interesting you should mention that you stopped breathing for a while at birth. A late friend was actually reported dead at birth. But of course such mistakes happen; my sister was assured that she had been rendered sterile (I think she had miscarried) — before having two children.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            Don’t I wish I could sit down at my computer and tap out my thoughts like a cat coughs up a fur ball!? Don’t I wish I could express myself with an endless vocabulary like belts of ammo slung across my chest ready to be loaded and fired!? I have all these thoughts in my head, but when I go to write them down they vaporize like fog on a sunny morning. Or the smoke of a shot to the temple. Damn…..what was I going to say next?

            That’s really good stuff. Full of metaphorical gumbo.

            And don’t make the mistake that you have to sound “intellectual.” I probably haven’t had this conversation with you, but I abhor “intellectualism.” But I do enjoy erudition. Hopefully there is a difference. And I do enjoy just homespun facts and wisdom, plainly stated, without the conceited veneer of a Harvard accent. That’s why I like Sarah Palin.

            What holds most people back from sharing their thoughts is, frankly, giving a damn about what other people think.

            And, yes, you have the voice of an angel. I haven’t cried yet, but real men don’t cry. 🙂

    • Glenn Fairman says:

      That guy Chestertonian is a treasure.

  5. steve lancaster says:

    If I were starting a new culture the basis of a moral code is the 10 pretty good suggestions from scripture, and for a natural law code you can’t do any better than the 10 pretty good suggestions from the Constitution.

  6. Jack Lawrence says:

    Glenn,
    Thank you for your beautifully written longing of my heart. All I can say is “Let it be!”
    I sent this gift to my kids and to two dear friends.
    Thank you.
    Jack

  7. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    “Frankly, I’m becoming a foreigner to most people…or vice versa.”
    “I’m going to sound arrogant, elitist, and perhaps a bit bitter. But most of the people “out there”
    “But, increasing, we live in a dumbed-down sound-byte culture.

    Get out of my mind!!! After moving back to the USA after almost 25 years abroad, I found the country had undergone a major transformation. The dumbing down of the population was not the least important of these changes. After encountering scads of ignorant people, I decided that I was not going to waste my time standing in for the elementary school teachers who had failed them.

    How does one have intelligent discourse with Americans who know nothing of our system of government, mix up Austria with Australia, cannot name the country we fought in the American Revolution, cannot return the correct change when given cash for a purchase, etc, ad infinitum.

    This intelligence and knowledge of its contributors is really one of the main attractions of this site. One doesn’t have to agree with everything written, but is is a refreshing change to carry on a conversation with people who understand the difference between effect and affect, have not only heard of Montesquieu, Locke and Hume, but have actually read some their works, who can agree with the aphorism, “In Vino Veritas” and laugh at Harvard while having a glass of wine.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Fortunately, my circumstances are such that the people I interact with aren’t among the ignorant. Except for some trolls, I suppose, and these days I pretty much ignore them anyway.

    • Glenn Fairman says:

      G.K. Chesterton has a wonderful line: ” A Patriot must hate his country enough to change it, yet love it enough to think it worth changing.”

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        I was talking earlier today to this extremely talented conservative poet that none of you have ever heard of before but may someday soon. He’s that good (and funny).

        And he’s just getting started in the craft. So he told me he had taken a couple poetry classes somewhere, just to get the formalized lay of the land. And he said most of the poems that were read were coming from angry people. (His stuff is both heartfelt and hilarious….sometimes at the same time.)

        Isn’t that just the sign of the times? I can see this bunch of “Progressive” students with their iPhones sitting around telling each other how friggin’ intolerable life is. This is the catechism of the Left, make no mistake. It becomes ingrained in them to be aggrieved.

        Now, I get as pissed off as the next guy. And I haven’t always succeeded at not letting stuff eat away at me. But this guy was such a great reminder of who we are on “the right,” or are at least supposed to be. We’re not a bunch of never-ending whiners, complainers, and bitchers.

        Love of country is important, especially if you have a great one such as ours. We are an exceptional country. But I’m not sure I’m going to work up much hate for it, although I get G.K.’s general point, expressed as so many of these phrases are as opposites. But the Left can sure work up a good hate….enough so to want to “totally transform” it — while writing bad poetry in their spare time.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          I don’t know which group did it, but a friend of mine once played a song called “The Angry Young Man” about a young radical who lives to be angry and to plot revolution in order to avenge himself on everyone else.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            Was it this one by Billy Joel? It’s a great song.

            Prelude: Angry Young Man (Turnstiles)

            There’s a place in the world for the angry young man
            With his working class ties and his radical plans
            He refuses to bend he refuses to crawl
            And he’s always at home with his back to the wall
            And he’s proud of his scars and the battles he’s lost
            And struggles and bleeds as he hangs on his cross
            And likes to be known as the angry young man

            Give a moment or two to the angry young man
            With his foot in his mouth and his heart in his hand
            He’s been stabbed in the back he’s been misunderstood
            It’s a comfort to know his intentions are good
            And he sits in his room with a lock on the door
            With his maps and his medals laid out on the floor
            And he likes to be known as the angry young man

            I believe I’ve passed the age of consciousness and righteous rage
            I found that just surviving was a noble fight
            I once believed in causes too
            I had my pointless point of view
            And life went on no matter who was wrong or right

            And there’s always a place for the angry young man
            With his fist in the air and his head in the sand
            And he’s never been able to learn from mistakes
            So he can’t understand why his heart always breaks
            And his honor is pure and his courage is well
            And he’s fair and he’s true and he’s boring as hell
            And he’ll go to the grave as an angry old man

            Yes there’s always a place for the angry young man
            With his working class ties and his radical plans
            He refuses to bend he refuses to crawl
            And he’s always at home with his back to the wall
            And he’s proud of his scars and the battles he’s lost
            And struggles and bleeds as he hangs on his cross
            And likes to be known as the angry young man

            • Timothy Lane says:

              Sounds like it. I have some Billy Joel greatest hits CDs, but they don’t include this.

              • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

                Tim, I’m glad you brought up that song. Wow. Those lyrics are stunning when just reading them like that. I was a huge Billy Joel fan back in the late 70’s/early 80’s before anybody had ever heard of him (mostly).

                Seeing those lyrics now, decades later, you can see how Joel nailed the Leftist mentality. I doubt the man considers himself a conservative. (I don’t really know.) But, boy, did he nail the mindset of the angry young liberal pinheaded man. Just great stuff.

                It was a joy to watch that video. That has always been one of my favorite Joel songs but it had been a while since I had heard that (and I have heard it perhaps a hundred times). We lived on Billy Joel at the office, an ad agency I used to work at long ago. I worked with a girl who probably could qualify as a Kathy Bates-like “I’m your biggest fan” Joel fan, but in a good way. She was upset when Joel dumped Elizabeth, his first wife and business manager. She was there in all the hard, obscure years. But then he hits the big time and dumps here for Christie Brinkley. There’s probably more to the story than that. (There always is.) But I certainly got an earful at the time.

                This dear friend died just a couple years ago. And I can’t think of Billy Joel or hear one of his tunes without thinking of her. She introduced me to his music.

              • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

                Tim, from the same album, check out “Summer Highland Falls.” Okay, it’s a little “70’s-ish” in sound. A bit perhaps chick-flicky. I admit all these things. But some great lyrics.

  8. Timothy Lane says:

    I checked the MP3 images I have of Billy Joel, and there’s a live performance CD that includes “The Angry Young Man”, but nothing that includes “Summer Highland Falls”. (I even used the search function in case there was a copy somewhere else in the music library.

  9. Glenn Fairman says:

    “Summer Highland Falls” is featured on “Turnstiles: and “Songs in the Attic.” BTW, Highland Falls is the little town in upstate NY just outside the gates of West Point.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      This thread has wonderfully gotten off the subject of Glenn being too dense. 😀

      Thanks for the info, Glenn. I knew that “New York State of Mind” Billy Joel came from The Bronx, New York. That fact is written into much of his music. But not being familiar with New York state, I had no idea where Highland Falls was.

      Earlier, I had mentioned that I did not know if Joel was a liberal or not. How stupid of me. I know exactly who he is. He’s an Entertainer. Another great set of lyrics. It’s so true, especially in our times:

      I am the entertainer
      The idol of my age
      I make all kinds of money
      When I go on the stage
      Ah, you’ve seen me in the papers
      I’ve been in the magazines
      But if I go cold I won’t get sold
      I’ll get put in the back in the discount rack
      Like another can of beans

      There could be some sort of Christology metaphor in all that. May we seek to be more than just another can of beans.

  10. glenn fairman says:

    My relative density I suppose could be interpreted in many ways. I’m still new to writing, not like you old pros who could school me, I’m sure. I had the honor of visiting Highland Falls whenever I visited my son there at the Point. FYI, it was the town that many a general fondly recalled during his tenure because of the tavern ran by Benny Havens in the old days. It was forbidden for a cadet to be caught there, and many a drunken cadet smashed into a tree running out the back door when a Master Sergeant came a calling.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I prefer the normal shenanigans of running out of the forbidden bar than the drag dancing which (amazingly) is front-and-center these days. No one has to skulk about anymore if they are doing queer. But god forbid the boys want to have a beer.

      Now that’s dense.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      My father graduated from West Point in 1945, but I’ve never visited myself. And with New York increasingly making itself a state I have no wish to spend money in (a problem also for Cooperstown, another place I’d like to visit someday), it will be difficult even if circumstances ever permit.

  11. glenn fairman says:

    Just 50 miles north of the city, it is a veritable world apart from the City of Walled Mountains. A living museum that should be cherished by every American. And it contains the best museum of armaments that I know of.

  12. steve lancaster says:

    Its been years, over 40 but I have fond memories of Tun Tavern, and of course I celebrate it every 10 November.
    Semper Fi

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