Atheist Hymnal

This popped up on Facebook as part of that sometimes annoying sometimes revealing On This Day function they’ve incorporated.

Atheist Song – First hymnal for Atheists, FreedomTuners, Published on May 13, 2010

I had forgotten about this song having run across it so long ago. Not to argue with the joke involved in the song and title, but atheists have lots of songs if you mean an atheist wrote them. In actuality it is religion that has no songs; or at least no music,

I want to quote one humorous example that puts this idea to rest. I have had the good fortune of knowing a magnificent musician named Michael May, who was a virtuoso pianist, harpsichordist and organist. He did I don’t know how many “Messiahs” with me in Carnegie Hall with The Masterwork Chorus and Orchestra. To make a living he became a church organist. At one point during the communion, there were a lot of parishioners and he needed a lot of music. He ran out of music, so what he did was to take the score of “Carmina Burana”—how many of you are familiar with that? It’s a piece of music whose text has to do with lovemaking, debauchery, gambling and drinking. He played it slowly and softly, without the chorus, and nobody knew the difference. So without the words, you cannot tell whether or not a piece of music is intended to be religious.

David Randolph, No Such Thing as Religious Music

There are thousands of atheists writing music and singing songs, even songs about atheists and atheism. I’ve talked about Tim Minchin in the past. Nearly every episode of Freethought Radio that I posted about back when I discovered podcasting features songs by atheists about atheists or at least music written by atheist composers.

If there ever is an atheist hymnal, it won’t be complete without a few songs from Shelley Segal. Dan Barker introduced me to her music on yet another episode of Freethought Radio, one that occurred after I had given up trying to illustrate the kinds of good information that was available in the podcast arena.

Shelley Segal Saved, Shelley Segal, Published on Oct 13, 2011

I wonder when you will start questioning all the bullshit everyone around you buys.

Words to live by. Turn to page 265 in the hymnals you can find on the backs of the pews in front of you and please sing along with me,

Thoughts are free, who can guess them?
They fly by like nocturnal shadows.
No person can know them, no hunter can shoot them
with powder and lead: Thoughts are free!

I think what I want, and what delights me,
still always reticent, and as it is suitable.
My wish and desire, no one can deny me
and so it will always be: Thoughts are free!

And if I am thrown into the darkest dungeon,
all these are futile works,
because my thoughts tear all gates
and walls apart: Thoughts are free!

So I will renounce my sorrows forever,
and never again will torture myself with whimsies.
In one’s heart, one can always laugh and joke
and think at the same time: Thoughts are free!

I love wine, and my girl even more,
Only her I like best of all.
I’m not alone with my glass of wine,
my girl is with me: Thoughts are free!

Die Gedanken sind frei
Pete Seeger- Die Gedanken Sind Frei, roboticrickshaw, Published on Aug 17, 2011

Christmas Music

As a general rule, I avoid it like the plague.  There hasn’t been any Christmas music worth listening to since Bing Crosby gave up his crooning license (number 8 on this list of 25 best Christmas albums of all time) back in the days of my youth.  Still, every now and then there is a song that captures my imagination;

Tim MinchinWhite Wine In The Sun by Tim Minchin – Dec 13, 2009

I mentioned this song in a previous entry, but it’s that time of year again.  I had pointed the song out to The Wife the other day; she poo-pooed it, pointing out how it was clearly a song written by an atheist to make fun of the holiday.

I never noticed those lyrics.  I have always been captured by the imagery of sharing a drink with family in the sun of a summer’s day.  Tim is from Australia and Christmas in Australia is probably a lot like the 4th of July is in the US.

Coincidentally, the imagery that is my favorite way of remembering the family I grew up with is in the sun of a summer’s day; picking cherries from gramma’s cherry trees, making ice cream and sharing a cold drink. I can see her sitting on the covered porch in her favorite chair, grampa sitting next to her and dad helping the kids hand-crank the ice cream maker.  A beautiful image captured in amber that I wouldn’t mind being able to revisit if I could turn back time.

That is what I see when I hear White Wine in the Sun and it never fails to move me.  Thank you Tim for taking the time to write this one.

In My Dreams I Sound This Good While Ranting

Give this a listen, and you’ll hear what I mean.

Tim MinchinStorm by Tim Minchin (Audio only version) – Jan 28, 2009

This is topical for the conversation I was just relating in my previous blog entry (three in two days.  I’m going to burn out!) However the draft this post was based on had been hanging out on the blog interface so long that the activity Tim was involved in was Jesus Christ Superstar (I’ve had a long-time fascination with that musical) a show that is no longer playing and which had just released its DVD. So, you know. Championship level procrastination.

I tracked Storm down after listening to The Skeptics’ Guide To The Universe – Podcast 184 and hearing him mention it in the interview. I already had a weakness for White Wine in the Sun.

This is posted here and now because I went trolling back through the drafts today looking for something completely different and found it. Oh, the treasures you find in the back alleyways of your long forgotten notes.