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Sunday, December 13, 2015

Sunday Sermon: Chance and a Favorite Song

Let's consider a song and a conversation. It was over 30 years ago. My kids liked the song, so did I. The song:


"Karma Chameleon", The Culture Club
We parsed it out:
"'...I'm a man without conviction,
I'm a man who doesn't know
How to sell a contradiction...
You come and go, you come and go.'

"In a biological sense there are tremendous odds against any individual getting born at all. Zygotes succeed under heavy competition, then undergo gestation, birth. Character begins. But what of preconception? Do we exist as certainty or possibility?"

"Maybe both?"

"Very good!  But let's not separate the idea of beginning from end."

"Perception of time?"

"Before getting born, we were at most only slightly inconvenienced by nonexistence. Then..."

"We get born and become ourselves, who we are. Then we die. That's awful."

"Not sure nonexistence would trouble us more after existing than before, but I get your point. We work hard on our whos."

"I'll say!"

"But what about, 'You come and go, you come and go.
Loving would be easy if your colors were like my dreams:
Red, gold, and green, red, gold, and green.' Where does that come in?"

"Well, you're studying for your DMV test so you can drive the car. At an intersection, what do red and green lights mean to you?"

"Stop and go. What about gold?"

"Meter of the lyric needed one syllable, not two. The color is yellow, which means...?"

"Proceed with caution!"

"Exactly! Now you tell me, how would that change the world according to the song?

"'Ev'ry day is like survival.
You're my lover, not my rival.'
It means we shouldn't fight over things but get along and share what's good in our lives and in the world."

"And this unified factor of sharing? What's that?"

"You say it's love. You say we shouldn't fight over dumb stuff. You say nobody's influence ever ends. The song says we shouldn't consider others our rivals, but our companions in existence. So what about the video?"

"Well kids, video says there are cheaters and thieves in the world, and it's up to us to beware of them. They don't accept that the odds favor the house. What do you learn in physics class?"

"That the law of averages sooner or later produces extraordinary events."

"Precisely, go thou and do likewise!"

And they did!

29 comments:

  1. Trust you to nearly make palatable a music genre that otherwise should be ignored, or worse.
    Wouldn't it be great......which leads me to bring up a song I would have never imagined I'd draw attention towards.....'Imagine'....and it's Yoko's fault entirely.

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    1. Mike, Yoko or no, I like to "...imagine all the people living life in peace...", which fixes Lennon's song to an ongoing moment and assigns it a treasured status. Still, as American Bandstand might say, Boy Geo.s song has a beat and you can dance to it.

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  2. I'd never watched the video for that song, Geo. It was highly entertaining ... as was your analysis of the song. I'm glad your children caused extraordinary events! Somehow it doesn't surprise me a bit :)

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    1. O, Jenny, I'm glad you enjoyed it. Mark Twain thought,"A pilot, in those days, was the only unfettered and entirely independent human being that lived in the earth (from "Life on the Mississippi"). By events among video passengers left unsupervised and devoid of interference, I conclude his observation stands unchallenged.

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  3. I loved this.
    But was reminded of something my partner was told in Egypt. The red is for stop. The green is for go. The yellow is for pretty.
    And I think we all need more pretty.

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    1. Dear EC, I have just consulted the bathroom mirror and must agree with your closing sentence. Yes, even I need to feel pretty sometimes.

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  4. Seeing the old video with new insight. Your commentary and dialogue are born of experience and they help us come back to an earlier seeing with better vision. AND, it was fun to see the tune again. A playful time remembered.

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    1. It WAS a playful tune, wasn't it? And one containing a positive general message. Of course anything involving a sternwheeler on a big river snags my affections anyway, but the whole shibang harkens back to a more humane economy and society.

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    2. Just to clarify, by "more humane", I meant the 1980s, not the 1880s --nor the 1870s, as stamped in the video title.

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  5. A very insightful post, Geo - and I think an appropriate read for my birthday. I haven't heard that song in a long time. Thanks for excavating and breathing new life into it.

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    1. My pleasure and privilege, Jon. It's an admittedly romanticized version of 1870's steamboat passage but certainly a positive general recommendation for modern times. Let's enjoy our December birthdays --oh, and not neglect to wish Mrs. Swiderski one too!

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  6. Thanks for the birthday wishes, dude! Such a pleasant surprise to be remembered. :) Seems to me, YOU have a birthday sometime this month, too, don't you? If I'm late at wishing you a wonderful birthday, sorry about that. If I'm early, let me wish you a happy birthday now, and avoid the rush. You... Jon... me... December is well represented in the blogosphere. Imaginative dreamers, one and all.

    As for this post, I never listened to the words of that song all that closely, but I did like the way the song sounded. Catchy... and I could sing the chorus, which suited me just fine. (As opposed to the "absolute necessity" of knowing every single word to the songs I liked back in the fifties and sixties.)

    As for the meaning of traffic light colors? Around these parts, amber means "drive faster." Or so it would seem.

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    1. Discussing song lyrics was a popular recreation here while our kids were growing up --while we were growing up too-- and A.M. radio certainly furnished a lot of fun material for interpretation. Thanks for the birthday greeting, Susan!

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  7. You always push me to wake up some brain cell and analyze and I'm still pondering...

    Most of the 80s I spent without TV and cable and only knew the song by the sound, not the video.

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    1. Thanks Sage, most of the videos I've seen were during those years when our older kids were teenagers. Now that we have YouTube, I've been getting back into them.

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  8. Karma Chameleon is a great song. I must admit that I never analyzed the lyrics the way you have because the song makes me feel good. What you say makes sense. Operate with love but be aware of what is around you.

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    1. Thanks Emma. Love and awareness are a good combination for navigating life. I try.

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  9. I did like this song but really, only knew a few of the words (like most songs I sing/hum along with in my car). You come and go, you come and go and so and so and so. I never knew what really good lyrics they were.

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    1. Arleen, apparently the song is a joint creative product of O'Dowd (Boy Geo.), Moss, Craig, Hay and Picket --the whole Culture Club. I learned that 10 minutes ago. Lyrics reflect a lot of tinkering with fine results.

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  10. I love that very much - your children get learning and entertainment in one: perfect!
    Especially pleases me: "Not sure nonexistence would trouble us more after existing than before, but I get your point. We work hard on our whos."
    Saw photos of Boy George in an exhibition in the C/O here in Berlin - his lyrics are not that present to me (though I know a few songs).

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    1. Dear Brigitta, Thank you. Was unable to find nonexistent people to confirm my theory but glad you like it. Looked up C/O Berlin and it appears to be a wonderful facility. I like that it is named after a postal abbreviation.

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  11. I didn't know all the words of this song, Geo, thank you so much for this post. I think your children are blessed to have a creative and caring father like yourself whom they can learn from.

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    1. Most kind Linda. My children range in age from 31 thru 45 now and I learn more from them more than they from me. But they all enjoy unraveling poetry puzzles. There's such fun in it!

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  12. This song brings back a flood of memories, but none of them has the insight you just brought to it. You have a gift in finding the meaningful in mundane things, Geo. Thanks. Your kids are lucky. x

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    1. It's brains that find meaning, Austan, and yours is among the best I've encountered. My kids grew up analyzing metaphor, and they're good at it, but you should get a load of the grandchildren. It's a great new generation!

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  13. Have to admit, I never gave much thought to any meaning behind the song. I do love the "loving would be easy" line. So deliciously strange.

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    1. Culture Club certainly participated in a poetic form that helped young people understand themselves --unavoidably strange.

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  14. Great song.
    But time has not been kind to Boy George.
    He'd probably say the same about me.

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    1. Indeed, Al, time has presented the man with challenges.

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