Monday, September 29, 2014

Return of the (Cornish) Native

A new BBC adaptation of Winston Graham's acclaimed novels
will see the 2015 return of Captain Ross Poldark.

Anyone familiar with this blog would know that I'm a great admirer of Winston Graham's Poldark novels.

Set in Cornwall at the turn-of-the-nineteenth century, a time of sharp class divisions, social upheaval, and war, I think it's fair to say that the twelve novels that comprise the Poldark saga are historical fiction at its best.

The series' protagonist is Ross Poldark, a member of the landed gentry who finds himself at odds with his own class over the social and economic status quo that impoverishes local miners and many others of the working class. In the first novel of the series, which Graham originally intended to call The Renegade before deciding on Ross Poldark, the young Captain Poldark is introduced as a battle-scarred veteran of the American War who, upon returning in 1783 to his derelict family estate on the windswept coast of Cornwall, discovers his widowed father dead and the woman he loves engaged to his cousin. Bitterly disappointed and close to financial ruin, Ross nevertheless vows to make the most of what he has.

In this previous post I recollect how, as a teenager, I was introduced to the Poldark novels via the popular mid-1970s BBC TV series Poldark, a series I write about here.

Last year I revisited the Poldark novels, reading all twelve back-to-back – a feat that took me from April to September to complete. I either found the books at used bookstores or borrowed them from the public library. Becoming re-aquainted with these novels and their various characters and stories was a very enjoyable experience and made me realize that I'd like my own copy of each of the novels. It took me about eight months but by May of this year I had collected the series as published by Pan Macmillan in the U.K. One reason I chose this edition was because of the art design of the books' covers. It's clear that whoever designed these covers has actually read each of the Poldark novels as there are all sorts of relevant little details and references within the artwork. Plus they just look good!

Early in my re-reading last year of the Poldark novels, I heard that the BBC was making a new adaptation of them. It was exciting news, but I also felt some trepidation. Would this new TV series be true to the books? Who would play the main characters of Ross and Demelza? George and Elizabeth? Would the complexity of these characters and their lives be dumbed-down in order to make a kind of eighteenth-century Downton Abbey?

Well, I'm happy to say that I was soon both heartened and excited to hear that Debbie Horsfield, the writer of the new Poldark TV series, has great respect and admiration for Winston Graham's original novels. And let's face it, a great TV experience will be guaranteed if this new adaptation embodies the spirit of Graham's books.

After all, as Horsfield reminds us: "Winston Graham's saga [is] an epic journey of love, loss, heartache, betrayal, ambition, survival and redemption, set in a turbulent era in history, with an extraordinary array of beautifully-drawn characters, and a romantic hero of immense complexity."

In a March 2014 interview with David White of BBC Cornwall, Horsfield discussed further the project she and her colleagues at Mammoth Screen production company are working on.

[The twelve Poldark novels] are fantastic books. Winston Graham is such a masterly storyteller. . . . His characters just leap of the page; they're so engaging. [Ours] is a new adaptation but it very much goes back to the original books. The language is the same, all the events are [the same as] in the original books, the characters are the same as written in the original books. Our bottom line is that we love the books. We are fans of the books and [we're dedicated to] a new adaptation of the books. The books are our source material and every generation deserves to see [a new adaptation of them].

The original [BBC series in the 1970s] diverged quite considerably from the books – in lots of ways, actually. I can safely say that we are sticking much more closely to the books. We've been talking extensively with the Winston Graham estate, with Andrew Graham, Winston Graham's son, and we've been very keen to make sure we preserve the integrity of the material. And he's apparently thrilled with what we're doing. And we're thrilled that he's thrilled. And that was always our aim: to translate amazing books to the screen.

In the BBC's enormously popular 1970s Poldak the role of Captain Ross Poldark was played by Robin Ellis (left). In his memoir Making Poldark, Ellis offers the following to account for the success of the first Poldark TV series.

Thanks to Winston Graham, it had great characters who live out good storylines in a classic family saga in the magnificent Cornish countryside. Winston lived in Cornwall himself for many years, was married to a Cornishwoman and was steeped in its history.

The BBC in those days was an experienced and talent-laden organization with fine in-house costume, set and make-up departments training their own recruits. The attention to detail was exemplary. The cast was in good hands and we were a happy, united company of actors.

Above: Author Winston Graham on the set of the first Poldark with Angharad Rees (Demelza), Robin Ellis (Ross), and Paul Curran (Jud).

In praising the casting of Irish actor Aidan Turner (right) in the lead role of the new TV adaptation of the Poldark novels, screenwriter Debbie Horsfield notes the following about the character of Ross Poldark:

In Winston Graham's amazing books Ross is such a complex character. He's very impulsive, he's a rebel, but he also has a strong sense of moral justice and integrity. So he's an outsider. . . . He's also a great romantic hero. He's torn between two women from two different classes and backgrounds.

Above: Aidan Turner with Robin Ellis, the actor who played Ross Poldark in the BBC's popular mid-1970s Poldark series. Ellis plays the Reverend Halse in the new adaptation.

I close by sharing some great images of Aidan Turner as Ross Poldark on the set of the new Poldark adaptation. Turner has signed a five year contract with the BBC, which bodes well for the filming of all twelve Poldark novels. Filming of what will be the first season of the series finished last month. So far no date has been given for when the new Poldark will air next year. In the U.S., it will be broadcast as part of PBS's Masterpiece series. For updates, click here.

Above: Aidan Turner with Poldark co-director Edward Bazalgette.

Above: Preparing to shoot a scene at Dollar Cove in Cornwall.
(Photo: Tim Martindale)

Above: Aidan with (at left) Poldark executive producer Karen Thrussell.

Above and below: I particularly like these behind-the-scenes shots showing Aidan Turner in his eighteenth-century Poldark garb sitting amidst the film-making technology of the twenty-first century!

For previous Poldark-related posts, see:
Passion, Time and Tide
A "Useful Marriage" for Morwenna
Time and Remembrance in the Poldark Novels
"Hers Would Be the Perpetual Ache of Loss and Loneliness"
Demelza Takes a Chance (Part 1)
Demelza Takes a Chance (Part 2)
Captain Blamey Comes A-Calling
Rendezvous in Truro
Cornwall's – and Winston Graham's – Angry Tide
A Sea Dragon of an Emotion . . . "Causing Half the Trouble of the World, and Half the Joy"
Into the Greenwood
"I Want You to Become a Part of Me – Each to Become a Part of the Other"

Recommended Resource:
A Winston Graham Reader – Ellen Moody (Ellen and Jim Have a Blog, Two, September 6, 2014).

Related Off-site Links:
Andrew Graham, Son of Author Winston, on Poldark FilmingThe David White Show (BBC Cornwall, June 10, 2014).
Aidan Turner Shoots Late-night Shipwreck Scene as Filming Continues on Poldark Remake in Cornwall – Ryan Smith (Daily Mail, July 1, 2014).
First Image: Aidan Turner In BBC One’s Poldark Reboot – Patrick Munn (TV Wise, May 8, 2014).
Anger as Poldark Begins Filming – in Wiltshire – Martin Hesp (Western Morning News, May 8, 2014).
Brooding Looks from Star Aidan Turner as Poldark Comes to Corsham – Joanne Moore (Gazette and Herald, May 6, 2014).
Poldark Filming in Corsham with Aidan TurnerWestern Daily Press (May 6, 2014).
Together Again! Aidan Turner's Ross is Reunited with Heida Reed's Elizabeth as Filming Begins for Poldark Remake – Archie Rice (Daily Mail, May 6, 2014).
BBC One Drama Poldark Begins Filming at Bristol's Bottle Yard StudiosTheBottleYard. com (April 27, 2014).
Chavenage House Gets 18th Century Makeover for Filming of BBC's Poldark – Brendan McFadden (Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard, April 23, 2014).
Poldark: Bristol is Hosting Comeback of TV's Top Bodice-RipperThe Bristol Post (April 16, 2014).
Robin Ellis: My Return to Poldark . . . the Remake – Peter Robertson (Express, April 10, 2014).
Passion, Pilchards and Why Poldark is Sexier Than Mr Darcy – Jan Moir (Daily Mail, March 31, 2014).
Eleanor Tomlinson to Star as Demelza in BBC One Drama PoldarkBBC (March 31, 2014).
Unveiled: Eleanor Tomlinson, Poldark's New Demelza – Ben Ellery and Peter Robertson (Daily Mail, March 29, 2014).
Poldark Finds Its DemelzaScreen Terrier (March 28, 2014).
Some Fans of Poldark Not Happy With Choice of Aidan Turner for Starring RoleCornish Guardian (March 15, 2014).
Poldark Role for Hobbit Star Aidan Turner Press Association via Yahoo! TV (February 28, 2014).
Hero Hobbit Aidan Turner Has Embarked on New Quest as Star of Poldark – Nicola Methven (The Mirror, February 28, 2014).
Poldark: Aidan Turner Has Big Shoes to Fill – Sarah Crompton (The Telegraph, February 28, 2014).
Revealed, New Star of Poldark: Irish Actor Aidan Turner to Take Role on Remake of Much Loved Costume Drama – Emma Lowe (Daily Mail, February 27, 2014).
Aidan Turner to Play Poldark in New BBC Adaptation – Ben Dowell (Radio Times, February 27, 2014).
Poldark Remake for BBC OneBBC News – Entertainment and Arts (May 9, 2013)

Saturday, September 27, 2014

A Ewe Questions Her Shepherds

It is my understanding that many of you are gay and even regularly, actively engage in homosexual activities, albeit clandestinely. Those of you who do this would be living a lie. Yet you welcome closet homosexual clergy living duplicitous lives at table and even permit them to consecrate the host. However, homosexuals who honestly portray their sexual orientation you do not welcome. Why are you threatened welcoming to the table people who have the courage to present themselves authentically but are not threatened welcoming to the table people whose lives are a tangled web of lies and hypocrisy?

– Excerpted from "Some Thoughts on the Upcoming Synod on the Family"
Questions from a Ewe
September 27, 2014

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Gay Men in the Vatican Are Giving the Rest of Us A Bad Name
Homosexuality and the Priesthood
Officially Homophobic, Intensely Homoerotic
A Fact That Should Be Neither Surprising Nor Derogatory
Vatican Stance on Gay Priests Signals Urgent Need for Renewal and Reform
Keeping All the Queens Under One Roof
Oh, Give It a Rest, Papa!
What the Vatican Can Learn from the X-Men

Related Off-site Links:
Love, Marriage and the Vatican: Americans' Attitudes about Marriage and the Catholic Church – Paul Herrnson and Kathleen Weldon (The Huffington Post, September 29, 2014).
Next Month's Extraordinary Synod on the Family in Rome is "Dangerously Homogenous" – John O'Loughlin Kennedy (The Irish Times, September 23, 2014).
How LGBT-Friendly Are the Appointees to the Synod on Marriage and Family? – Francis DeBernardo (Bondings 2.0, September 11, 2014).
The Makeup of Synod of Bishops on the Family is Disappointing – Thomas Reese (National Catholic Reporter, September 10, 2014).

Friday, September 26, 2014

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Louis Crompton on the "Theological Assault" of the Ulpianic-Thomistic Conception of Natural Law (Part II)

Continuing with The Wild Reed's exploration of natural-law theory, I present this evening a second excerpt from Louis Crompton's authoritative work Homosexuality and Civilization. (For the first excerpt, click here.)

The sharing of this excerpt is timely given the recent news that John C. Nienstedt, Archbishop of St. Paul-Minneapolis, has forced the resignation of Jamie Moore, a local parish music director, after it became known that Moore had entered a civil marriage with his male partner. In attempting to defend his actions, Nienstedt, who, among other things, is facing calls for his own resignation over his handling of clergy sex abuse complaints, insists that he is simply upholding the teaching of the church on marriage, which for the clerical leadership of the church are the same as the teaching on sexuality. After all, this leadership doesn't actually have a sexual theology, i.e., a way of taking about the gift of human sexuality that acknowledges and honors its intrinsic diversity. Rather, it has a very narrow theology (and thus teaching) on marriage based, as Crompton correctly identifies, on the Ulpianic-Thomistic understanding of natural law. Members of the church's clerical leadership would have us believe that they and they alone are the sole interpreters and guardians of this understanding and the theology and teachings that stem from it. Furthermore, these teachings are declared to have come from Christ himself. Accordingly, they are said to be eternal and thus unchangeable. Such ignorance and hubris!

As Crompton (and others) have clearly documented, teachings based on this interpretation of so-called natural law have in fact evolved and changed. For example, Crompton notes below that "the fathers of the church and medieval theologians [once] fiercely condemned usury (that is, any charging of interest) as a mortal sin, employing the same rhetoric used against homosexuality." Yet now, as we all know, the Vatican has its own interest-charging bank! Nienstedt and his ilk would do well to reflect upon Crompton's words: "Far from being an immutable, unchanging, and eternal standard, natural-law philosophy has accommodated itself to the prejudices of particular ages, often lending them a factitious air of philosophical respectability."

The other route by which Aquinas arrives at his category of "unnatural sins" is philosophical rather than zoological. It derives from Aristotle's doctrine of "final causes," that is, those ends or purposes for the sake of which things or activities exist. According to this view, as food exists for the preservation of the individual, so sex exists for the preservation of the races. Thus, sex must always serve its proper "natural" end, and all non-procreative sexual acts are "unnatural."

Aquinas, in addition, endorses Augustine's opinion that homosexuality is the "worst" of sexual sins. To make his point perfectly clear, Aquinas poses a question: are not rape and adultery worse than unnatural acts, since they harm other persons, while consensual sins against nature do not? The answer is unequivocal: the four non-procreative forms of sex are worse, since – though not harmful to others – they are sins directly against God himself as the creator of nature. According to this logic, rape, which may at least lead to pregnancy, becomes a less serious sin than masturbation. And what of contraception? Would marital intercourse using artificial birth control be an unnatural act? Aquinas does not raise the question in Summa, but earlier he so classified it in his commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard. By this reasoning, conjugal sex with contraception must be ranked as an unnatural sin only one degree less serious than homosexual behavior.

Moreover, as [theologian Charles] Curran has pointed out, natural-law theory is not "a monolithic philosophical system agreed upon body of ethical content existing from the beginning of time." The concept of natural law is exceedingly ambiguous and has been given radically different interpretations at different times by different thinkers. Behaviors as diverse as shaving the beard, using anesthesia in childbirth, and flying have on occasion been labeled unnatural. To take one example: in the seventh circle of his "Inferno" Dante dramatizes the punishment of men guilty of "violence against nature," or, as he alternatively puts it, "the "sins of Sodom and Cahors." Readers familiar with Sodom's lurid reputation may well wonder what took place in the Provencal city of Cahors. The fact is that Cahors was a financial center, and its unnatural sin was usury.

Dante's judgment rested on a well-established medieval doctrine. Aristotle had called usury unnatural, since money should not breed money. Drawing on the Levitical prohibition (25:36-37) against interest, the fathers of the church and medieval theologians fiercely condemned usury (that is, any charging of interest) as a mortal sin, employing the same rhetoric used against homosexuality. Thus, [Panormitanus] a fifteenth-century canonist could write: "Whenever humans sin against nature, whether in sexual intercourse, worshiping idols, or any other unnatural act, the church may always exercise its jurisdiction. [So some have held] that the church could prosecute usurers and not thieves and robbers, because usurers violate nature by making money grow which would not increase naturally." Catholic theologians did not seriously challenge the church's traditional view of usury until the eighteenth century; and the canon law making the charging of interest a mortal sin was not dropped until 1917. Throughout history people have branded a multitude of behaviors as "unnatural." This has sometimes meant no more than that they disliked them on whatever grounds, serious or trivial. Far from being an immutable, unchanging, and eternal standard, natural-law philosophy has accommodated itself to the prejudices of particular ages, often lending them a factitious air of philosophical respectability.

For more on natural law at The Wild Reed see:
Louis Crompton on the "Theological Assault" of the Ulpianic-Thomistic Conception of Natural Law (Part I)
Aquinas and Homosexuality
Daniel Helminiak on the Vatican's Natural Law Mistake
Nathanial Frank on the "Natural Law" Argument Against Same-Sex Marriage
Homosexuality is Not Unnatural
Rediscovering What Has Been Written on Our Hearts from the Very Beginning
Dialoguing with the Archbishop on Natural Law
Spirituality and the Gay Experience
Joan Timmerman and the "Wisdom of the Body"
Good News on the Road to Emmaus
Relationship: The Crucial Factor in Sexual Morality
Liberated to Be Together
The Blood-Soaked Thread

See also The Wild Reed series, “Perspectives on Natural Law,” featuring the insights of:
Herbert McCabe, OP
Judith Web Kay
Daniel Helminiak
Garry Wills
Gregory Baum
William C. McDonough

Related Off-site Links:
Archbishop Nienstedt, Firing of Gay Catholic Employees, and Upholding Teachings of the Church: Critical Reflection – William D. Lindsey (Bilgrimage, September 25, 2014).
In Minnesota and Montana Dismissals, Hypocrisy Abounds – Bob Shine (Bondings 2.0, September 25, 2014).
"I Thought I Could Be A Gay Jesuit Priest. I Can’t Believe How Wrong I Was" – Ben Brenkert (The Washington Post, September 17, 2014).
Jesuit Leaves Church After Firings – Nicholas Sciarappa (National Catholic Reporter, September 22, 2014).
Homosexual Relationships: Another Look – Bill Hunt (The Progressive Catholic Voice, September 8, 2012).

Image: Detail of "Two Men Kissing" (Bacio fra due uomini) by Bartolomeo Cesi (c. 1600).

Monday, September 22, 2014

Out and About – Summer 2014

As I write this the autumnal equinox is taking place in the northern hemisphere. In other words, summer is ending and autumn (or fall) is beginning.

During the autumnal equinox, the sun can be seen at its zenith before its direct rays shift into the Southern Hemisphere for the next six months. Neither of Earth’s hemispheres is tilted toward the sun, which results in roughly twelve hours of daylight and darkness at all latitudes (but not exactly, as Joe Rao explains here).

Given how much of my spirituality resonates with themes and images of journey, balance, and transformation, I find myself drawn to this meteorological event and moreover to Cliff Séruntine's eloquent and insightful reflections on it.

September: Time of the darkening equinox, the balance between sun and shadow. Full of the magic of change – not always a comfortable magic. Its twilight empties the heart of its mortal dream. Yet, September is not a bleak month, but a time of transformation. There is no dream as fair as the host rushing “twixt night and day,” a symbol of the continuance of life in the Otherworld. This is the Celtic spiral of life – death and rebirth. This balance . . . it is the mystery of the time of the Autumnal Equinox.

In light of all of this, the autumnal equinox seems an appropriate time to pause and take a look back on the past summer, a looking back that I periodically do as part of The Wild Reed "Out and About" series of posts. I began the first of these series in April 2007 as a way of documenting my life as an “out” gay Catholic man, seeking to be all “about” the Spirit-inspired work of embodying God’s justice and compassion in the Church and the world. I've continued the series in one form or another every year since – in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014.

Let me begin this Summer 2014 installment by saying something that will be obvious to anyone who follows this blog. And that is this: some of the ways I embody God’s justice and compassion in the Church and the world, as they relate to my work life, are changing – and have been changing since around 2011, perhaps earlier. You'll get a sense of this below, but let me say that even though some of these changes have recently become quite clear, where they are leading me remains not so clear. It's a time of transformation, which, as Cliff Séruntine notes above, is not always comfortable. But I'm dealing with it by living through it in a spirit of hope and trust. And that's the important thing.

I'm also living through it in a spirit of deep gratitude for my family and friends in Australia and my many friends here in the U.S. – many of which, though by no means all, you'll see in the following images.

For the first time in years I didn't work at the annual Twin Cities Pride festival. By this I mean the organization for which I serve as executive coordinator, the Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities (CPCSM), didn't have an informational booth at this year's festival, held in Loring Park, Minneapolis on the weekend of June 28-29. This was because, after 34 years, CPCSM is in the process of disbanding. This isn't a bad thing. As I explain here, after many groundbreaking achievements the organization has run its course . . . and there are two local groups capable of continuing much of the work CPCSM pioneered. These groups are the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform (which CPCSM helped co-found in 2009) and Dignity Twin Cities (from which CPCSM grew out of in 1980).

As you can see from the photo above, Dignity Twin Cities had a presence at the 2014 Twin Cities Pride festival. That's my friend and Dignity USA associate director Jim Smith pictured at left. Jim served with me and others on the board of the 2010-2013 CPCSM initiative, Catholics for Marriage Equality MN, which played an important role in securing marriage equality in Minnesota.

Above: Hello, boys! Two attendees at this year's Twin Cities Pride festival in Loring Park, Minneapolis – Saturday, June 28, 2014.

For The Wild Reed's 2014 Queer Appreciation series, see:
Same-Sex Desires: "Immanent and Essential Traits Transcending Time and Culture"
Lisa Leff on Five Things to Know About Transgender People
Steven W. Thrasher on the Bland and Misleading "Gay Inc" Treatment of the Struggle to Overturn Prop 8
Chris Mason Johnson's Test: A Film that "Illuminates Why Queer Cinema Still Matters"
Sister Teresa Forcades on Queer Theology
Omar Akersim: Muslim and Gay
Catholics Make Their Voices Heard on LGBTQ Issues

Above: My young friend Joey at his senior violin recital – Saturday, June 28, 2014. I've known Joey since he was a toddler! It's been a pleasure and honor to watch him grow up to be the very thoughtful and talented young man that he is. And now that he's turned 18 and graduated from high school, he's embarking on a whole new chapter of his life.

I wish you all the best, Joey!

Above: Joey in 1997 with his mother Kathleen (center) and friend Jane McDonald, CSJ.

Right: With Joey in 2007.

Regular readers of this blog would know that over the years Joey, his mother Kathleen, and I have made some memorable road trips together – to St. Louis, Wisconsin, Trempealeau Mountain, Kansas City, and Pahá Sápa (the Black Hills of South Dakota).

Above: Joey with our mutual friend Brigid McDonald, CSJ – June 28, 2014.

Right: With friends Greg and Roman at Joey's recital.

Left: With my dear friends Brigid McDonald, CSJ, and Rita McDonald, CSJ.

Above: Joey's mother, Kathleen (second from left) with Roman (second from right) and Brent and Lisa.

Kathleen, Brent and Lisa all served on the board of CPCSM/C4ME-MN.

Above: My friend Raul – July 4, 2014.

Right: With friends Walter and Raul – July 4, 2014.

Above: July 4th celebrations in Minneapolis.

Above: Friends Michael and Paul on their wedding day – July 19, 2014.

Above: A participant in the August 5, 2014 mourning ritual to mark Tisha B'Av.

Tisha B'Av is a fast day that commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem as well as other tragedies throughout Jewish history. On August 5 I joined with around 50 Twin Cities-area Jews and their supporters in Minneapolis to mourn the tragedy of the destruction of Gaza and what organizers declared the Israeli government's "ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their homeland and the deprivation of Palestinians' human rights."

For more photos and commentary on this event, click here.

See also the related Wild Reed posts:
Something to Think About – July 18, 2014
"We Will Come Together in Our Pain"
Thoughts on Prayer in a "Summer of Strife"

Above: Celebrating my friend George's birthday – August 19, 2014. From left: George, Joan, me, and Raul.

Above: Joanne, Johan, Joan, Karla, Lucinda,and Raul.

Above: My friend Phil with his niece Amelia – Saturday, August 23, 2014.

Above: With Phil and friends Anna and Tina at the Red Stag in northeast Minneapolis – Thursday, August 28, 2014.

Above: Friends Carmen, Liana, and Phil – Sunday, August 24, 2014. We're on the rooftop of Carmen and her partner Mark's apartment building. That's the new Minnesota Vikings' stadium being built in the background.

Above: My friend (and Phil's dad) John with his granddaughter Amelia – September 7, 2014.

Above: My friend Curtis with his (very happy) daughter Amelia.

Left: Ziggy!

Right: The always dignified-looking Quinn.

Above: Eddie the "wonder dog"! For more images of Eddie, click here and here.

Left: Julianna.

Above: Friends Curtis and Liana with their daughter Amelia (and Eddie!). You may recall that I had the honor of officiating at Curtis and Liana's wedding last summer.

Above: John with (from left) Quinn, Ziggy, and Eddie.

Above: Just one sunflower came up this year in my garden . . . but it was a beauty!

For another picture, click here.

Above: On Sunday, August 31, a number of friends and I celebrated the birthday of our mutual friend Angela, pictured at right with my good friend and housemate Tim.

Left: With my friend Amy – August 31, 2014.

Above and right: On the evening of Thursday, September 11, 2014, my good friend Joan and I saw the phenomenal Lisa Fischer in concert at the Dakota in downtown Minneapolis.

Here's just a little of what the Star Tribune's music critic Jon Bream says about Fischer's performance:

Lisa Fischer’s voice has filled stadiums and arenas around the world. But she brought art-songs, not arena rock, to the Dakota Jazz Club Thursday for two sold-out shows. The evening will certainly rank among the year's most musically satisfying and rewarding performances.

Twenty-three years after scoring a No. 1 R&B song and a Grammy for her debut album, Fischer has undertaken her first solo tour. She’s been mostly a backup singer for The Rolling Stones, Tina Turner, Sting, Nine Inch Nails, Luther Vandross and others. But the Oscar-winning 2013 documentary about background singers, 20 Feet from Stardom, unexpectedly made her a star.

Her magnificent voice was on display at the Dakota, a wondrous instrument that can seamlessly blend classical, jazz, soul, gospel, rock and folk into the same song and sometimes the same sentence. What she didn’t do in the 95-minute first set was cut loose like she does at Stones concert. She didn’t have to.

She mesmerized, haunted and seduced with nuance, dynamics and remarkable inventiveness. She inhabits her songs, taking listeners on a journey filled with generous heart, soul and spirituality, whether interpreting Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll” as spaced out jazz infused with gospel, soul and Afro-jazz or the Stones’ “Jumpin Jack Flash” as a slow-burn Southern soul song.

Earlier in the summer Joan and I saw Rufus Wainwright (left) in concert at the Minnesota Zoo Ampitheater.

Notes Ryan Jasurda in his review of Wainwright's June 24 performance:

Rufus is no stranger to playing the Weesner Family Ampitheater at the Minnesota Zoo , and he made it known, calling the stage in front of the lake “dramatic,” as if the shiny suit was but an ironic touch. All flair aside, Rufus gave the nearly sold-out crowd his bread and butter. He began the set with a few piano tunes, only to move to the acousic guitar—an instrument he is far less proficient at—for the majority of his nearly two hour set. Mixing songs old and new, Wainwright gave the adoring crowd everything they needed.

Well, that last part's definitely an overstatement, but it was still an enjoyable evening.

Above and below: At an apple orchard just outside of Hastings, MN, with friends Tim, Curtis, Liana, and little Amelia!

Above: Late summer blooms.

For more images of summer beauty, see the previous Wild Reed posts:
In Summer Light
Photo of the Day – August 11, 2014
Photo of the Day – August 26, 2014
Summer Blooms

Above and below: I feel very fortunate to live so close to Minnehaha Creek and its surrounding areas of parkland and urban wilderness.

Summer 2014 Posts of Note:
Prayer and the Experience of God in an Ever-Unfolding Universe
Has Archbishop Nienstedt's "Shadow" Finally Caught Up With Him?
Roman Catholicism's Fundamental Problem: The Cultic Priesthood and Its "Diseased System" of Clericalism
How Can I Tell You?
Thoughts on Prayer in a "Summer of Strife"
Michael Morwood on the Divine Presence
James Foley: "Prayer Was the Glue That Enabled My Freedom, An Inner Freedom"
"Even in This Darkness"
Debunking Paul Johnson's Gay Reading of Song of Songs
"Can You See the Lark Ascending?" – A Compilation of Reviews of Kate Bush's Triumphant Return to the Stage
Visions of Crazy Horse: Depictions of the "Strange Man of the Oglalas" in Art, Film, and Sculpture
Memet Bilgin and the Art of Restoring Balance
A Visit to the Weisman
Louis Crompton on the "Theological Assault" of the Ulpianic-Thomistic Conception of Natural Law

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Out and About – Spring 2014
Out and About – Winter 2013-2014