I’m rereading for the umpteenth time, “The Lord of the Rings.” Essentially, the book is entirely about good and evil. The great evil that is Sauron, the lesser evil of his cohorts, the striving evil of Saruman … and the fear of all involved in the battle hoping they can see the right way and remain woven in the fabric of good. When evil is everywhere, goodness is not a given.
I bumped into this quote last night. I was tucked in for the night and I hoped I would remember it in the morning. I didn’t exactly recall it, but luckily for me “Lord of the Rings” is such a well-quoted book, I found it quickly.
Eomer said, ‘How is a man to judge what to do in such times?’ As he has ever judged,’ said Aragorn. ‘Good and evil have not changed since yesteryear, nor are they one thing among Elves and another among Men. It is a man’s part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house.
I had two things I wanted to post, but they are so different in mood and appearance, they seemed to need different posts. These are pictures from the Baseball Museum in Cooperstown. Probably doesn’t mean much to anyone who comes from a country where baseball isn’t played, but if you are a baseball fan, it’s a big deal. Garry and I are fans. Garry is a very serious fan. I’m a “heavy lightweight” in the fan department.
We’ve been to the museum twice. I don’t know if we will get there again, but it is a lot of fun and in a beautiful location in upstate New York.
Lacking cathedrals, I will have to settle for other things. “American” old isn’t like European or Middle Eastern “old.” Comparatively speaking, white culture is new and Native culture that can be photographed is rare in this area. We lack castles and cathedrals — so we everything we have to show is “relatively” old. Compared to “now.”
What comes to mind when I say “rock star” or “pop star?” Do you think of your favorite singers? Do you hear their music in your head? Can you sing along with their songs? Have you gone to their concerts? What if I was to say that I am not talking about stars of the past, just stars of today? Now who do you think of?
Perhaps Justin Bieber and all the little “beliebers” come to mind. Perhaps you think of Miley Cyrus and the strange antics that have surrounded her career. Lady Gaga with all of her wild outfits might be the next image in your head. There are plenty of stars that stand out as much for their behavior or arrests as they do for their music.
So what about qualities? Humanitarian efforts are probably not among the list. Self promotion might be at the top. Self gratification might seem like a top quality of many. Don’t you wonder how underage stars take an entourage to a night club and then get drunk? Who finds it OK to condone the drinking, drag racing and egg throwing?
Don’t get me wrong, I think there are plenty of good new rock and pop performers out there trying to do their best without making fools of themselves. So what do you do when you get near the top? Perhaps you put out You Tube “vlogs.” Maybe you get a Tumblr, Twitter and facebook account. You can do lots of radio interviews and public appearances. If you’re a young guy, you can even date Taylor Swift. She likes young guys. Or you can stun the public and do something totally different.
As a teenager, David Archuleta made a name for himself on Season Seven of American Idol. His pleasant personality and angelic voice captured the imagination of the viewers and the final episode went down to the battle of the two Davids, with David Cook. While the more versatile rocker David Cook seemed the odds on favorite in the final weeks, the cute teenager from Utah was quietly impressing everyone, including the not easily impressed Simon Cowell.
If you watched the above, you saw the entire panel praise Archuleta, with Cowell saying after this performance, “You’re the one to beat.” In the final night of singing, reviewers would tell you Archuleta was clearly the better performer. The public, however, went with the rocker who showed great musical skills and was the best on many of the shows. Archuleta received 44 percent of the over 97 million votes cast (an Idol record). It was an emotional ending with Cook grabbing Archuleta and keeping him in the spotlight. It was an Idol finish at its best.
From there Archuleta went on to make records, go on tours, make public appearances. He appeared on a PBS Christmas special, made a separate Christmas album and built a fan base like many other young stars. He filmed a mini series in the Philippines and recorded traditional songs. Then one night he told a sold out performance in Salt Lake City, “I would like to make a special announcement: that I have chosen to serve a full-time mission.” It was not going to be one where he would be doing photo ops and promotional work. He was going to really do missionary work. So he left for Chile.
As you can imagine, it was a bit of a conflict for the popular young member of the Mormon Church. Of course, he was encouraged to stay. He was told he was doing a lot of good here. He had a very positive public imagine. His appearance with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s Christmas show was very successful. They had more ticket requests than ever before. He could travel the world giving performances. Indeed he made many international appearances. It was not enough.
“I needed to do something that has nothing to do with me,” he later explained. While his fans (Archie’s Army) and website released whatever they could, David was doing what he wanted to do. Occasionally, a video of David would pop up on his You Tube channel, not much more than David saying Merry Christmas or some other greeting. Meanwhile, he walked the dusty back roads of San Vincente, praying, studying and helping strangers. It was not the life of a pop star.
David returned home after two years away. He felt blessed to have helped others. He visited, he preached and he sang, feeling more comfortable in song than in his Spanish language skills. He learned more about life than any pop star on tour will ever know. When you think of pop star qualities, you would not typically think of those his vocal coach used to describe David: “purity and wholesomeness.”
“When I went on my mission, it kind of gave me a step away from everything, and I was able to grow up a little bit, on my own, without everyone watching me,” Archuleta said recently. David is now 27. He has moved to Nashville and concentrates on making music that is meaningful to him. He may not have the huge pop star success he might have had, but is still a big concert draw. Now he is not looking for pop hits as much as songs that are more adult, more important, more David.
Theoretically, spring should be hinting at its arrival … but it’s not. No flowers and it’s cold, pouring rain, and very windy outside. In the middle of this, the builder came by to take a look at our falling apart window. Now I’m wondering how much wall behind that rotting window is going to need replacement.
Home ownership can be demoralizing. You are never finished. Never.
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