Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Ray Wylie Hubbard and Marcus Borg with a little Buffett in Between

When I graduated from high school I left Little Rock for college at the University of Oklahoma. My first weekend in Norman found me attending an outdoor concert. The affair began quite slowly and then the wind picked up. Speaker towers were tumbling and tarps were blowing. The roadies called out for help and help we did. Then it rained. My buddy and I managed to stay around back stage and under stage out of the rain, but blending in. At one point a roadie called for security because an audience member refused to leave the dry refuge under the stage. When security arrived they addressed my buddy and me. The roadie spoke up and said, “No, they work here”. So we tried to make it look like that.

Eventually it cleared and the show went on. We spent our time looking busy and chatting with performers. I will always cherish listening to the late John Hartford tell stories before he went on stage to do a show I had seen from the front on more than one occasion. And then there was the new up and coming songwriter with songs like My Love Lies Waiting Behind Door Number 3 and Pencil thin Mustache who later wrote the great hit Margaritaville. Yes folks, I met Jimmy Buffet in 1974. He was holding a Martin guitar and a fifth of Weller’s Whiskey by the neck. The next day the weather was worse and the show was canceled. But, we were roadies so we went into the city (Oklahoma City that is) for a little private party. I sat down to play spades with a few bearded fellows and boldly said that I would set one who was going for nil. I did! Later I learned I had been playing cards with Rusty Wier and Ray Wylie Hubbard.

Jerry Jeff Walker had a hit at the time called “Up Against the Wall Redneck Mother”. It was sort of an anthem in the cosmic cowboy, outlaw music scene and it was penned by Ray Wylie Hubbard. Time past and apparently it did not go so well for Ray for awhile and then it turned around. He is now known as the guru of the Austin music scene. He is one of those artists who has experienced God’s grace and does not mind sharing it with other musicians though he isn’t the “preachy” type.

In the 21st century I find myself reading lots of theological type books. Not because I’ve become one of the “preachy” types, but more because like Ray Wylie Hubbard I am beginning to learn about grace and have found a nice little congregation that is all about grace. Recently we have read Marcus Borg’s Heart of Christianity where he describes the emerging paradigm of Christianity. One of the attributes of the emerging paradigm is embracing pluralism. In short the emerging paradigm does not see Christianity as a system of requirements and rewards -sort of believe in Jesus and get a free pass to heaven. Of course requirements and rewards negate grace. You can not love all and accept all if there are requirements. Either there is grace or there are requirements, not both. As a result the emerging paradigm accepts the validity of other religions. God will save us all.

Ray Wylie Hubbard explains the logic of this in terms that everyman can understand. In a song from Crusades of the Restless Knights called “Conversation with the Devil” he tells the story of a dream in talking blues fashion. He finds himself in hell and bewildered about why he is there.

Now I said, “I made some mistakes but I’m not as bad as those guys.
How can God do this to me can’t you sympathize?”
He said, “You’re wrong about God being cruel and mean
God is the most loving thing that’s never been seen.”
I said, “Well, hot shot, tell me this, which religion is the truest?”
“They’re all about the same” he said, “Buddha was not a Christian,
But Jesus would have made a good Buddhist.”

--Ray Wylie Hubbard

From the memories past and present of Willi.


Blogger gawilli said...

I would like to have seen John Hartford and I didn't realize Jimmy Buffet wrote Door Number Three. I had only heard Steve Goodman and John Prine do that song. I would also like to have seen Rusty Wier. I don't think I would have made the connection between Borg and Hubbard but I definitely agree about Grace. I often think that those who are so exclusive with their Grace will be so surprised to find the rest of us in the same everafter as they are.

7:18 PM  

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