Saturday, April 25, 2009

Purgatory is the Waiting Room for Heaven, Not a Temporary Hell (1st C. Understanding of "Gehenna")

By Dave Armstrong (4-25-09)

The following friendly exchange took place on the CHNI board with a self-described "Hebrew Catholic." His words will be in blue.

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The reason that Purgatory is not mentioned in the New Testament is the same reason that neither hell, nor heaven are mentioned in the NT--The NT is written in Greek. All three of these words: Purgatory, Heaven and Hell are English words. So, none of them is in the NT!

The question is whether the Greek word Gehenna, which is usually translated into English as the word "hell" really means "hell." Or does Gehenna mean something different?

is a Greek form of the Hebrew word Gehinnom. Ge means "valley", so Gehinnom is the Valley of Hinnom--a garbage dump to the south of Jerusalem in the time of Jesus. It was always burning garbage, so we get the image of a place where "the fire not stops burning and the worm never dies."

The question whenever we translate a word is what the particular word meant to the writer's contemporary audience--in this case 1st C Jews. What did 1st C Jews think Gehenna meant?

For this we have a clear answer. The Talmud records the debates between the schools of Rabbi Hillel and Rabbi Shammai--the two great rival rabbinic schools of 1st C Israel. Hillel and Shammai. In Talmud tractate Rosh Hashanah 16b-17a, the two schools are arguing about how many souls will escape Gehinnom to go to Gan Eden (Garden of Eden--the rabbinic name for Paradise.) Hillel was more lenient than Shammai, so the school of Hillel thought that more souls would leave Gehinnom than did the school of Shammai. Both schools believed that some souls were so evil that they would spend eternity in Gehinnom.

So, to 1st C Jews, Gehinnom was place much like a maximum security US prison in which some inmates are sentenced to life without the possibility of parole, while others will get out after say 10 years served for armed robbery.

However, in English, we don't have a single word that refers to the punishment of those who will be purged and eventually go to heaven vs. those who will spend eternity in hell. So, in practice, translators have chosen to translate Gehenna as "hell." However, this has the unfortunate result of convincing those who do not understand the culture of 1st C Israel that "Purgatory is not in the Bible."

The concept of Purgatory is definitely inherent in Gehenna and therefore is mentioned throughout the NT!

Doesn't this show that the rabbis had a notion of Gehenna that was really more akin to Sheol / Hades than to our notion of hell (since some souls can escape it)?

As I understand Gehenna, as used by Jesus, and pretty much the equivalent of "hell", there is no way out of it, so I don't see how you could think the NT Gehenna contains the concept of purgatory within itself.

Kittel's Theological Dictionary of the NT supports my argument above:
The NT distinguishes between hades and geenna: a. the former is temporary, the latter definitive (cf. Mk. 9:43, 48); b. the former is for the soul alone, the latter for the reunited body and soul (Mk 9:43ff.; Mt. 10:28).

(p. 113 in one-volume edition)

Kittel also states about pre-NT belief that "Later it was also used for the place where the wicked are punished in the intermediate state" but doesn't apply this meaning to the NT understanding.

Gerhard Kittel (1888-1948) was a German Protestant (not a Catholic) scholar and an ardent anti-Semite, whose anti-Semitic works of scholarship formed an ideological foundation and justification for the Third Reich. As such, one must be concerned with the issue of bias in his scholarly output.

Studying the Jew: scholarly antisemitism in Nazi Germany By Alan E. Steinweis Edition: illustrated Published by Harvard University Press, 2006

Also, he lived prior to the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Scholars of his era made the same skeptical assumptions about the veracity of rabbinic compilations of oral traditions that they made in Higher Criticism of the Bible. Since older rabbinic traditions were passed down orally, later compiled by editors, they were assumed to be inaccurate, filled with mistakes, and biased.

The discovery of the DSS showed that the Masoretic text of the Bible, the New Testament and Pharisaic traditions compiled in rabbinic literature were unexpectedly and remarkably accurate.

So, even though the 1st C rabbinic schools are cited in the Mishnah of Rosh Hashannah, compiled in 200AD by Rabbi Judah the Prince, they accurately reflect 1st C thought.

The Encyclopedia Judaica
version 2 article on Paradise, traces the development of the idea of Gehinnom from Jewish Pseudepigraphical sources such as I Enoch that predate the birth of Jesus, through Deuterocanonical books, through Rabbinic sources. Since Judaism never produced an orthodoxy of belief, but rather an orthopraxy of obedience to law, there are, of course, varying speculations about the afterlife. All of which shows that Gehenna cannot have had the static and fixed meaning attributed to the Christian doctrine of "hell."

Neither Mark 9:43ff, nor Mat 10:28 states that imprisonment in Gehenna must be permanent for all therein:
Mk 9:43 "And if your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life crippled, than having your two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire,


45 "And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame, than having your two feet, to be cast into hell,


47 "And if your eye causes you to stumble, cast it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes, to be cast into hell,

What is permanent here is not the imprisonment of any particular person, but the constancy and duration of the worm and the fire. It is the worm that does not die and the fire that is not quenched, not the individual. No statement is made about how long these forces act upon an individual there, only that their punishment is constant and unrelenting for whatever duration they are imprisoned. Undoubtedly any period of imprisonment in a state of constant torture is worse than self-denial here on earth. This point is valid, regardless of how long the imprisonment may be.

Mt 10:28 "And do not fear those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
The rabbinic understanding of Gehenna includes some who will be there forever due to their sins. God is able to imprison such forever, so we should fear him who is able to do this. This does not mean that all who are in Gehenna will suffer this extreme punishment. Again, the passage does not state that imprisonment is eternal in Gehenna for all who are there.

You can dismiss Kittel if you wish. I'm sure I could produce other linguists with the same understanding. It doesn't all rest on him. I'm confident that I can defend the NT understanding of Gehenna as pertaining to eternal hellfire. I'm not sure exactly what your position is on this. Do you have some objection to the Christian and Catholic doctrine of hell? I deal mostly with the NT understanding of eternal judgment in this paper: "Biblical Evidence for an Eternal Hell".

I read your article on the Development of Jewish idea of punishment in the afterlife. I agree with it. The question is whether this development of Jewish concept of Gehenna is present in the use of the term in the NT. If so, then both Purgatory and Hell, as understood by Catholics, are present in the concept of Gehenna as defined in the NT.

Certainly, linguists have historically only seen hell in the use of the term Gehenna. I would argue that this is a matter of historical prejudice in the reading of the text, caused by a Gentile tradition of reading that was not informed by the Jewish context of the NT.

The discovery of the DSS [Dead Sea Scrolls] is causing many New Testament texts to be read in an entirely new light, by scholars of Jewish, Protestant and Catholic background.

Whenever we use the work of scholars who interpret the NT prior to the publishing of the DSS, we are seeing their best interpretation of these texts prior to a mountain of new historical evidence. Such scholars only see the development of Jewish interpretation in the Pharisaic tradition. They are perforce entirely ignorant of the development of interpretation among the Essenes. Their interpretations are simply outdated by the facts!

Read the texts yourself in Greek. Without the lens of centuries of Gentile (mis)interpretation, pre-DSS, these texts simply do not say that Gehenna is a place of eternal punishment for
all of its initial inhabitants!

Even Edersheim admits this from the Rabbinic tradition, writing in 1883! He argues that the Pharisaic tradition understands Gehenna as a permanent place of punishment for
at least some of its inhabitants. This is exactly what I am saying in my previous post.

Similarly, many Protestant scholars have re-read Galatians, only to discover that ek pistos means equally: out of faith and faithfulness. Thus overturning 500 years of Protestant interpretation!

The Pope in a recent homily (Holy Thursday 2007, if memory serves) identified the Passover celebration of the Last Supper as an Essene seder. This would mean that the Last Supper was celebrated according to the Essene calendar, not celebrated on Holy Thursday, overturning many centuries of RC tradition. But, very plausibly explaining the differences between the Synoptics and John on the dating of the Last Supper. So, there is a lot of this reinterpretive activity going on!

So, my comments are entirely in accordance with the RC Catechism and the teaching of the RCC. Too bad for linguists born just a century too early!

Your comments are fascinating as always, and I am enjoying this exchange a lot. I continue to disagree with you regarding Gehenna. I have never seen, to my recollection, anywhere in the NT where it is definitively taught that souls can escape hell or Gehenna. Whatever the pre-Christian and immediately post-Christian Jews taught, it doesn't overcome the dogmatic force of the texts in the NT that we have. I'm all for the idea of a consistent development of Judaism into Christianity. I defend that very often in my writings. I have no hostility to that at all. I love it. So my motivation here is not to downplay Hebrew precursors to Christianity (which I never try to do, because I think it's silly and most unhelpful). I just don't see that Gehenna is treated in the NT and by Jesus Himself (who talked most about it) as you are positing.

I think the more accurate analogy to purgatory is Sheol / Hades, as seen most clearly in Luke 16 and the story of Lazarus and the rich man. Secondly, the analogy is to purging and suffering processes in general: God's chastisement of His sons and daughters: a common theme in the OT and continued in the NT. Thirdly, the Protestant conception of the judgment seat of Christ (1 Corinthians 3) is highly analogous to purgatory.

But purgatory is the anteroom (or, if you will, holding-tank or halfway house) to heaven, not of hell. That's the biggest problem I have with your reasoning. Purgatory in Catholic theology is not a "five-year sentence" in hell, then the prisoner is pardoned and released to heaven. No; heaven and hell are so essentially different that there could never be any such connection between the two. Whoever is sentenced to hell is damned, and damned forever. Whoever is in purgatory is saved, and only there temporarily. Hell is the utter absence of God, which is why no saved person who is a follower of God can ever go there, even temporarily.

From a NT perspective, I would say that the late-period Jews had confused Sheol and Gehenna in their eschatology. We expect some confusions as categories are developed and worked-through, just as we saw in Christian development concerning the Trinity a few centuries later. Some will get it wrong. So the Jews who thought Gehenna could be a temporary state for some, who were released to heaven, were simply wrong.

I don't know Greek, so I don't have that benefit, but I have some linguistic aids to help me get to the Greek text. I can locate all the instances of Gehenna in the NT. I'd like to examine those to see what we find there, and if there is any hint of a temporary stay in hell for some, as you suggest.
Matthew 5:22,29-30 (RSV) But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, `You fool!' shall be liable to the hell of fire. . . . If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. [30] And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.

The distinction between "council" and "hell of fire" in 5:22 is an argument for purgatory, but note that they are separate, not that purgatory (if this argument holds) is part of hell.

Matthew 10:28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

Matthew 18:9 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire. (18:8 refers to "eternal fire")

Matthew 23:15 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you traverse sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.

Matthew 23:33 You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?

Mark 9:43, 45, 47-48 And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. [45] And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. [47] And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, [48] where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.

[RSV states that verses 44 and 46 are omitted by the "best ancient authorities" but it is repeated in verse 48 anyway]

cf. Isaiah 66:24 "And they shall go forth and look on the dead bodies of the men that have rebelled against me; for their worm shall not die, their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh."

Luke 12:4-5 "I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. [5] But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear him!

James 3:6 And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is an unrighteous world among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the cycle of nature, and set on fire by hell.
I don't see any hint of temporary stay here (I would say that is a weak argument from silence). I think eternal duration is strongly implied by "unquenchable fire" and the "worm does not die" clause. You have argued (rather weakly, I think) that it only refers to the worm and not to men. The Navarre Bible comments on Mark 9:44:
They are taken from Isaiah 66:24 . . . Our Lord uses them to refer to the torments of hell. Often, "the worm that does not die" is explained as the eternal remorse felt by those in hell, and "the fire which is not quenched" , as their physical pain. The Fathers also say that both things may possibly refer to physical torments. In any case, the punishment in question is terrible and unending.

(p. 274)
Similar data (obviously also referring to hell) occurs in the metaphor of "outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth" (Mt 25:30; cf. 8:12; 22:13).

A stronger indication, for determining whether hell is eternal for all who are in it, is Jesus' metaphor of the tree that doesn't bear good fruit being thrown into the fire:
Matthew 3:12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the granary, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire." (cf. 3:10)

Matthew 13:40, 42 Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the close of the age. . . . [42] and throw them into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth. (cf. 13:50; 7:19; Lk 3:9; Jn 15:6)
No hint of nuance and temporary stays here, either. The chaff is burned and that's it. It's interesting that Jesus in Matthew 3:12 says that the chaff is burned with unquenchable fire; not that it is burned and then the fire continues on, unquenchable. There is a logical difference.

We get more information in Jesus' account of the Last Judgment:
Matthew 25:41, 46 Then he will say to those at his left hand, `Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; . . . [46] And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.

cf. the metaphorical parallel:

Jude 7 just as Sodom and Gomor'rah and the surrounding cities, which likewise acted immorally and indulged in unnatural lust, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.
Again, we see no hint whatsoever of temporary stays in hell. It is either cursed = eternal hellfire = eternal punishment or righteous / saved = eternal blessedness in heaven (25:31-40,46).

The clincher verses come, I think, in Revelation:
Revelation 20:10 and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulphur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

Revelation 20:13-15 And the sea gave up the dead in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead in them, and all were judged by what they had done. [14] Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire; [15] and if any one's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Revelation 21:8 But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, as for murderers, fornicators, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their lot shall be in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur, which is the second death."
Again, we see stark contrasts all around. The damned go to this lake of fire prepared for the devil and his angels (as we learn from Matt 25:41,46). This is hell, which is eternal fire, and we so no mention of anyone getting out of it. The damned go there, and it is eternal punishment (Matt 25:46, Rev 20:10). The mention of "eternal punishment" lays to rest any notion that the fire may go on forever but not the punishment of the people (as punishment always refers to a person being punished). Temporary punishment is entirely absent. I would contend that it is eisegesis to read it into any of these texts. We can't eisegete from late pre-Christian Jewish eschatological tradition (no matter how rich and interesting it may have been). We have to go with what the text itself teaches us. Jesus and the NT writers are the definitive interpreters and developers of authentic Jewish theology. They have defined the eschatology that was still somewhat confused in 1st c. Pharisaic Judaism.

Lastly, I think it is notable that Hades is contrasted with the Lake of Fire. The dead in Hades who were to be damned eternally were thrown into hell (Rev 20:14). In other words, Hades was a holding-tank. Some went to heaven and the others went to hell (cf. Luke 16). But it is not to be confused with Gehenna. The damned in Hades are eventually consigned for eternity to hell, or the Lake of Fire.

The Catechism draws the same distinctions I made above (my bolding):

1031 The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned.606 The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire . . .

1034 Jesus often speaks of "Gehenna" of "the unquenchable fire" reserved for those who to the end of their lives refuse to believe and be converted, where both soul and body can be lost.614 Jesus solemnly proclaims that he "will send his angels, and they will gather . . . all evil doers, and throw them into the furnace of fire,"615 and that he will pronounce the condemnation: "Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire!"616

1035 The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, "eternal fire."617 The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs.

1054 Those who die in God's grace and friendship imperfectly purified, although they are assured of their eternal salvation, undergo a purification after death, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of God.

1057 Hell's principal punishment consists of eternal separation from God in whom alone man can have the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs.
Board Helper David W. Emery also chimed in:

I see Jesus’ return to the proper distinction as a way to reconcile the two viewpoints, just as he did in a number of other areas, especially in moral theology. Sheol had a number of “levels,” depending on the relative merit of the deceased, and those (at least in the higher levels) were destined for their respective places in Heaven (“…for star differs from star in glory. So it is with the resurrection of the dead.” – 1 Corinthians 15:41). Gehenna was envisioned by the scholars sometimes as the lowest levels of Sheol and sometimes separately. Jesus separated out Gehenna as he did Heaven, and Christians followed that doctrine. So I don’t think it is so much a gentile thing as a Christian thing that we distinguish three “places” after death: eternal hell, temporary purgatory and eternal heaven.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Papal Participation (Through Legates) in the First Seven Ecumenical Councils

By Dave Armstrong (4-22-09)

Here is my understanding of papal presence (personally or through legates) at the first seven councils:

Nicaea, 325 [papal legates; possibly including Hosius or Ossius, who presided]

The recommendation for a general or ecumenical council . . . had probably already been made to Constantine by Ossius [aka Hosius], and most probably to Pope Silvester as well (9). . . Ossius presided over its deliberations; he probably, and two priests of Rome certainly, came as representatives of the Pope.

(Dr. Warren Carroll, The Building of Christendom, Christendom College Press, 1987, 11)
For much more on this, see the Brian Harrison article cited below in #2 and my paper, Pope Silvester and the Council of Nicaea.

2) Constantinople, 381
[no pope and no legates]
No bishops from the west were present, nor was the Pope represented. Therefore, this was not really an ecumenical council, though due to later historical confusion and the enthusiastic acceptance by the whole Church of its strongly orthodox creed, including an explicit confession of the full divinity of the Holy Spirit, it came to be regarded and numbered as such.

(Dr. Warren Carroll, The Building of Christendom, Christendom College Press, 1987, 62)

With the First Council of Constantinople (381) we are dealing with another case in which there are not extant acts. This council also was convoked by an emperor, Theodosius I. [Ibid.] The language of his decree suggests he regarded the Roman see as a yardstick of Christian orthodoxy. He commands all his subjects to practice the religion which Peter the apostle transmitted to the Romans. In calling the Council, Theodosius did not envisage the assembled bishops debating Roman doctrine as thought it were an open question.

The fact that Meletius of Antioch presided at Constantinople I, and the absence of any Roman legates, might appear to be evidence against the Roman primacy. It must be remembered that the Council was not originally intended to be ecumenical in the same sense as Nicaea.

It included, after all, only 150 bishops from Thrace, Asia Minor, and Egypt and was convoked to deal with certain Eastern problems.[New Catholic Encyclopedia, s.v. "Constantinople, First Council of."] In fact, it was not recognized as ecumenical by the Council of Ephesus half a century later, and it was left to Pope Gregory the Great to elevate it to that status.

("Papal Authority at the Earliest Councils," Brian W. Harrison, This Rock, Jan. 1991)

3) Ephesus, 431 [papal legates Arcadius, Projectus, and Philip]
The pope . . . sent two bishops, Arcadius and Projectus, to represent himself and his Roman council, and the Roman priest, Philip, as his personal representative. Philip, therefore, takes the first place, though, not being a bishop, he could not preside. It was probably a matter of course that the Patriarch of Alexandria should be president. The legates were directed not to take part in the discussions, but to give judgment on them. It seems that Chalcedon, twenty years later, set the precedent that the papal legates should always be technically presidents at an ecumenical council, and this was henceforth looked upon as a matter of course, and Greek historians assumed that it must have been the case at Nicaea.

(Catholic Encyclopedia: "Council of Ephesus"; written by John Chapman)

4) Chalcedon, 451 [papal legate Paschasinus, who presided]
The honour of presiding over this venerable assembly was reserved to Paschasinus, Bishop of Lilybaeum, the first of the papal legates, according to the intention of Pope Leo I, expressed in his letter to Emperor Marcian (24 June, 451). Shortly after the council, writing to the bishops of Gaul, he mentions that his legates presided in his stead over the Eastern synod. Moreover, Paschasinus proclaimed openly in presence of the council that he was presiding over it in the name and in the place of pope Leo. The members of the council recognized this prerogative of the papal legates. When writing to the pope they professed that, through his representatives, he presided over them in the council. In the interest of order and a regular procedure the Emperor Marcian appointed a number of commissioners, men of high rank, who received the place of honour in the council. Their jurisdiction, however, did not cover the ecclesiastical or religious questions under discussion. The commissioners simply directed the order of business during the sessions; they opened the meetings, laid before the council the matters to be discussed, demanded the votes of the bishops on the various subjects, and closed the sessions. Besides these there were present several members of the Senate, who shared the place of honour with the imperial commissioners. At the very beginning of the first session, the papal legates, Paschasinus at their head, protested against the presence of Dioscurus of Alexandria. Formal accusations of heresy and of unjust actions committed in the Robber Council of Ephesus were preferred against him by Eusebius of Dorylaeum; and at the suggestion of the imperial commissioners he was removed from his seat among the bishops and deprived of his vote. . . .

When the pope's famous epistle was read the members of the council exclaimed that the faith contained therein was the faith of the Fathers and of the Apostles; that through Leo, Peter had spoken. . . .

At the closing of the sessions the council wrote a letter to Pope Leo I, in which the Fathers informed him of what had been done; thanked him for the exposition of Christian Faith contained in his dogmatic epistle; spoke of his legates as having presided over them in his name; and asked for the ratification of the disciplinary matters enacted, particularly canon 28. This letter was handed to the papal legates, who departed for Rome soon after the last session of the council. Similar letters were written to Pope Leo in December by Emperor Marcian and Anatolius of Constantinople. In reply Pope Leo protested most energetically against canon xxviii and declared it null and void as being against the prerogatives of Bishops of Alexandria and Antioch, and against the decrees of the Council of Nicaea. Like protests were contained in the letters written 22 May, 452, to Emperor Marcian, Empress Pulcheria, and Anatolius of Constantinople. Otherwise the pope ratified the Acts of the Council of Chalcedon, but only inasmuch as they referred to matters of faith. This approval was contained in letters written 21 March, 453, to the bishops who took part in the council; hence the Council of Chalcedon, at least as to the first six sessions, became an ecumenical synod, and was considered as such by all Christians, both in the time of Poe Leo and after him.

(Catholic Encyclopedia: "Council of Chalcedon," written by Francis Schaefer)

5) Constantinople, 553 [no pope and no legates, due to imperial strong-arm tactics and imprisonment of Pope Vigilius]
From 25 January, 547, Pope Vigilius was forcibly detained in the royal city; . . . Vigilius had persuaded Justinian . . . to proclaim a truce on all sides until a general council could be called to decide these controversies. Both the emperor and the Greek bishops violated this promise of neutrality;. . .

For his dignified protest Vigilius thereupon suffered various personal indignities at the hands of the civil authority and nearly lost his life; he retired finally to Chalcedon, in the very church of St. Euphemia where the great council had been held, whence he informed the Christian world of the state of affairs. Soon the Oriental bishops sought reconciliation with him, induced him to return to the city, and withdrew all that had hitherto been done against the Three Chapters; the new patriarch, Eutychius, successor to Mennas, whose weakness and subserviency were the immediate cause of all this violence and confusion, presented (6 Jan., 553 his professor of faith to Vigilius and, in union with other Oriental bishops, urged the calling of a general council under the presidency of the pope. Vigilius was willing, but proposed that it should be held either in Italy or in Sicily, in order to secure the attendance of Western bishops. To this Justinian would not agree, but proposed, instead, a kind of commission made up of delegates from each of the great patriarchates; Vigilius suggested that an equal number be chosen from the East and the West; but this was not acceptable to the emperor, who thereupon opened the council by his own authority on the date and in the manner mentioned above. Vigilius refused to participate, not only on account of the overwhelming proportion of Oriental bishops, but also from fear of violence; moreover, none of his predecessors had ever taken part personally in an Oriental council. To this decision he was faithful, though he expressed his willingness to give an independent judgment on the matters at issue. . . .

The decisions of the council were executed with a violence in keeping with its conduct, though the ardently hoped-for reconciliation of the Monophysites did not follow. Vigilius, together with other opponents of the imperial will, as registered by the subservient court-prelates, seems to have been banished (Hefele, II, 905), together with the faithful bishops and ecclesiastics of his suite, either to Upper Egypt or to an island in the Propontis. Already in the seventh session of the council
Justinian caused the name of Vigilius to be stricken from the diptychs, without prejudice, however, it was said, to communion with the Apostolic See. Soon the Roman clergy and people, now freed by Narses from the Gothic yoke, requested the emperor to permit the return of the pope, which Justinian agreed to on condition that Vigilius would recognize the late council. This Vigilius finally agreed to do, and in two documents (a letter to Eutychius of Constantinople, 8 Dec., 553, and a second "Constitutum" of 23 Feb., 554, probably addressed to the Western episcopate) condemned, at last, the Three Chapters (Mansi, IX, 424-20, 457-88; cf. Hefele, II, 905-11), independently, however, and without mention of the council.

(Catholic Encyclopedia: "Second Council of Constantinople," written by Thomas Shahan)
For more, see the article "Pope Vigilius".

6) Constantinople, 681 [papal legates]

Owing to the desire of Pope Agatho to obtain the adhesion of his Western brethren, the papal legates did not arrive at Constantinople until late in 680. The council, attended in the beginning by 100 bishops, later by 174, was opened 7 Nov., 680, in a domed hall (trullus) of the imperial palace and was presided over by the (three) papal legates who brought to the council a long dogmatic letter of Pope Agatho and another of similar import from a Roman synod held in the spring of 680. They were read in the second session. Both letters, the pope's in particular, insist on the faith of the Apostolic See as the living and stainless tradition of the Apostles of Christ, assured by the promises of Christ, witnessed by all the popes in their capacity of successors to the Petrine privilege of confirming the brethren, and therefore finally authoritative for the Universal Church. . . .

The greater part of the eighteen sessions was devoted to an examination of the Scriptural and patristic passages bearing on the question of one or two wills, one or two operations, in Christ. George, Patriarch of Constantinople, soon yielded to the evidence of the orthodox teaching concerning the two wills and two operations in Christ, but Macarius of Antioch, "almost the only certain representative of Monothelism since the nine propositions of Cyrus of Alexandria" (Chapman), resisted to the end, and was finally anathematized and deposed for "not consenting to the tenor of the orthodox letters sent by Agatho the most holy pope of Rome", . . .

The letter of the council to Pope Leo, asking, after the traditional manner, for confirmation of its Acts, while including again the name of Honorius among the condemned Monothelites, lay a remarkable stress on the magisterial office of the Roman Church, as, in general, the documents of the Sixth General Council favour strongly the inerrancy of the See of Peter. "The Council", says Dom Chapman, "accepts the letter in which the Pope defined the faith. It deposes those who refused to accept it. It asks [the pope] to confirm its decisions. The Bishops and Emperor declare that they have seen the letter to contain the doctrine of the Fathers. Agatho speaks with the voice of Peter himself; from Rome the law had gone forth as out of Sion; Peter had kept the faith unaltered." Pope Agatho died during the Council and was succeeded by Leo II, who confirmed (683) the decrees against Monothelism, and expressed himself even more harshly than the council towards the memory of Honorius (Hefele, Chapman), though he laid stress chiefly on the neglect of that pope to set forth the traditional teaching of the Apostolic See, whose spotless faith he treasonably tried to overthrow (or, as the Greek may be translated, permitted to be overthrown).

(Catholic Encyclopedia: "Third Council of Constantinople," written by Thomas Shahan)

7) Nicaea, 787 [papal legates archpriest Peter and abbot Peter]

The pope's letters to the empress and to the patriarch (see ICONOCLASM, II) prove superabundantly that the Holy See approved the convocation of the Council. The pope afterwards wrote to Charlemagne: "Et sic synodum istam, secundum nostram ordinationem, fecerunt" (Thus they have held the synod in accordance with our directions).

The empress-regent and her son did not assist in person at the sessions, but they were represented there by two high officials: the patrician and former consul, Petronius, and the imperial chamberlain and logothete John, with whom was associated as secretary the former patriarch, Nicephorus. The acts represent as constantly at the head of the ecclesiastical members the two Roman legates, the archpriest Peter and the abbot Peter; after them come Tarasius, Patriarch of Constantinople, and then two Oriental monks and priests, John and Thomas, representatives of the Patriarchs of Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem. The operations of the council show that Tarasius, properly speaking, conducted the sessions.

(Catholic Encyclopedia: "The Second Council of Nicaea," written by Henri Leclercq)
* * * * *

Conclusion: popes were not personally present at the first seven councils. The custom in those days was to send papal legates. These were present at five of the seven councils. They weren't at Constantinople in 381 because no western bishops at all were present; hence it was not regarded as an ecumenical council at first, because it was of an exclusively eastern nature and not representative of the universal church. But it was orthodox, and so later declared to be ecumenical. And they weren't present at Constantinople in 553 because the pope was being held prisoner and the Emperor didn't want western Catholicism to be proportionately represented. Pope Vigilius refused to participate because of the disproportion, and due to fears of further violence. It was later deemed an ecumenical council by Rome since it was also orthodox in outcome (by God's grace, as always).


Saturday, April 18, 2009

Do 70% of Catholics Deny the Real Presence and Transubstantiation? Not Likely . . .

By Dave Armstrong (4-18-09)

It is often heard that 7 out of 10 Catholics disbelieve in the Church's teaching on the Holy Eucharist. A quick Google search along these lines shows that many Catholics have accepted these figures, based on polling data. It's nothing new or unknown among Catholics at all. I have accepted this bit of "common knowledge" myself in the past. 

But is it correct? On occasion I have heard otherwise, and have seen some materials indicating that the situation is far more complex than that. Curious, I tried to find more data today that might challenge this understanding. For example, James D. Davidson, professor of sociology at Purdue University Purdue University, and co-author, with William V. D'Antonio, of American Catholics: Gender, Generation, and Commitment (Alta Mira Press, 2001) and contributor to The Search for Common Ground: What Unites and Divides Catholic Americans (Our Sunday Visitor, 1997), has done extensive study on the polls that arrived at this conclusion, and factors relating to why they arrived at the 70% figure, as summarized in a fascinating 2001 article:

Yes, Jesus is Really There: Most Catholics Still Agree (alternate URL)

After examining some factors involved in the well-known polls, he also cites other ones that produced a far different result: a Roper poll from 1997 indicated that 82% among American Catholics believed that "the bread and wine used in Mass are actually transformed into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ." A CARA poll in 2001 found that 70% accepted that "Jesus Christ is really present" as opposed to 30% who thought "the bread and wine are symbols of Jesus." Davidson cites several additional studies and concludes that, while belief in the Real presence is declining somewhat, it is nowhere near as bleak as the 1992 Gallup and 1994 Times/CBS studies made out. It's a case study of how to ask poll questions, and how the question affects the answer. Davidson opined that the 1992 poll (of 519 Catholics) offered four elaborate choices over the phone: the nuances of which would have gone over many people' heads.

A commenter at Catholic Answers Forums, on 9 January 2008, fully understood the factors that go into polls and the results they can achieve (as a sociology major in college, I'm well-acquainted with these sorts of things, and so I should have known better than to uncritically accept the 70% figure, myself):
I keep hearing that figure but I have no idea whether or not it is true. I suspect it is false. No one has ever conducted such a poll of the parishioners in my parish; if they did, I'm confident that number of believers in the real presence would be quite high. Polling is hardly an infallible endeavor. If the source was in fact from a Gallup poll conducted 10 years ago, it would be instructive to see how the questions were worded and how the respondents were selected. What percentage of people believe in the validity of poll data extrapolated to general populations?
Even a non-Catholic who commented two days later understood this:
I'm not Catholic, in fact I am an anti-Catholic. Anyway, in the poll that I saw which is likely the one being discussed here the folks answering the poll had to choose the correct theological definition of the "real presence" from four different answers. I forgot how the answers were worded but not being able to choose the correct techinical definition of a doctrine doesn't mean that the folks rejected the idea. Maybe it means that 70% of the people polled needed to attend better catechism classes but it doesn't prove anything else. So, I am quite sure the number of catholics who believe in the real presence is quite a bit higher than 30%, though they may grasp the theology behind their belief as well as they should.
The late Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, in the 11 January 2008 issue of the widely-read journal First Things (see alternate URL too), noted similar findings from an even more recent study:

. . . American Catholics Today: New Realities of Their Faith and Their Church, edited by William V. D’Antonio and his sociological colleagues (Rowman & Littlefield). . . .

The research behind the book was sponsored by the National Catholic Reporter, the premier voice of liberal Catholicism in this country, but, to their credit, the authors generally keep their liberal leanings in check. . . .

There are also items of real interest. For instance, 81 percent say that "belief that Jesus is really present in the Eucharist” is essential in their understanding of the Catholic faith. Keep in mind that the survey is of a cross section of the 65 million Catholics in the U.S. (although Latinos are greatly underrepresented). Among the more highly committed Catholics, it is reasonable to assume that belief in the Real Presence is considerably higher than 81 percent. This is worth keeping in mind because some years ago a clumsily worded question in a survey came up with the conclusion that only one third of Catholics believed in the Real Presence, and that “finding” still crops up in discussions on the state of Catholicism. Among active Catholics, belief in the Real Presence, as also in the Incarnation, the Virgin Birth, and the Resurrection of Jesus, edges up toward unanimity.
In any event, counting heads has no bearing whatever on the status of Catholic dogma and the fact that we Catholics can resolve doctrinal disputes, whereas Protestantism has lost that ability, due to its first principles. This is what Catholic apologists contend -- not that unity automatically occurs in practice, which is obviously not the case, since liberalism and nominalism still are huge problems in Catholicism in terms of the views of poorly catechized individuals, who poorly understand or reject various Catholic teachings.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Self-Publishing and "Podunk Publishing" Efforts of the Leading Anti-Catholic Authors (King, Webster, White, Svendsen)

By Dave Armstrong (4-17-09)

Recently, some prominent anti-Catholics online have tried to make out that I am merely a "self-published" author, when in fact I now have four of my books published by two major Catholic publishers: Our Sunday Visitor (the largest Catholic publisher in the world), and Sophia Institute Press: a highly respected publisher that specializes in Catholic classics. Two of my books had been published by the year 2003; three by 2004, and four by 2007. Shortly, I'll have two more out: one with Sophia (Bible Proofs for Catholic Truths) and one with Saint Benedict Press (a Chesterton quotations book), making a total of six; with many more to come, by all reasonable indications and communications to me by my editors.

As always with these anti-Catholic naysayers, there has to be a glaring double standard. As I was eating my dinner tonight I was pondering a few of the big names among anti-Catholics online and who their publishers were. One of these luminaries of the anti-Catholic online provincial world is Pastor David T. King: the most ill-mannered man, bar none (including atheists and other non-Christians), -- though Gene "Troll" Bridges comes close -- that I've ever encountered online in 12 years. He referred to me recently (3 April 2009) as a "filthy, foulmouthed Romanist".

David T. King is co-author with William Webster of a three-volume set on sola Scriptura: Holy Scripture: the Ground and Pillar of Our Faith (see vol. 1 / vol. 2 / vol. 3 on amazon: currently at a 1 million sales rank or lower, while my books are generally in the range of 10,00-50,000 sales rank). I couldn't recall, sitting at dinner, try as I might, the name of the publisher. Well, after cruising over to trusty amazon, I discovered that it is the publishing industry titan Christian Resources, based in Battle Ground, Washington. Ever heard of them? I didn't think so. You're not alone. I did a bunch of Google searches in an effort to track down this publisher, to see what other books it has published. It took some work, as nothing was coming up.

After some difficulty, and after finding the location of the publisher in a Google Book Search, I finally ran across a website for this operation. And what did I find? Well, sure enough, it is a self-publishing operation. Very impressive, isn't it? Right on the home page, we read:
Christian Resources is a non-profit teaching, apologetics and publishing ministry . . . The director and Founder of Christian Resources is William Webster.
Ah; how difficult it is to publish your own book, without the burden of outside editors, or any quality control. Perhaps there is a board of directors? Maybe; though at this website one obtains no information whatsoever about that, if indeed it is the case. All we find are ten additional books by Webster. I fail to see how this makes him somehow a superior apologist. He publishes 13 of his own books with his own publishing company. I've done 13 of mine with Lulu. The difference, of course, is that I also have four books (soon to be six) with actual publishers, with boards and editors, and theological monitoring by scholars and bishops and priests, and operations independent of little ole Dave Armstrong, whereas Webster and King have none of that. They just have their own books published by themselves.

I thought that at least Webster must have "advanced degrees in theology and philosophy" in order to attain to the sublime title of apologist. So I set out on another difficult searching journey on the Internet, to look for his credentials. Well, I found this:
William A. Webster is a business man, living with his wife and children in Battle Ground, Washington. He has already authored The Christian Following Christ as Lord and Salvation, The Bible, and Roman Catholicism, and is a founder of Christian Resources, Inc., a tape and book ministry dedicated to teaching and evangelism.
Now, that doesn't tell us a whole heck of a lot, does it? We don't even know what business he is in, for heaven's sake. He founded a ministry. Big wow. Many have done that. Who is he accountable to? What denominational affiliation does he have? We learn none of that. All we know is that he has basically proclaimed himself an apologist and publishes his own books. Well, I should qualify that a little bit. His book, The Church of Rome at the Bar of History (1996) was formerly published by Banner of Truth Trust. It is no longer. But at least that is a "real" publisher. Give credit where it is due . . . It specializes in the classics of Protestant history. That being the case, it is quite analogous from a Protestant perspective, to my publisher Sophia Institute Press, which specializes in Catholic classics. Thus, Webster has no more credentials than I do in that regard, and arguably even less.

I continued to search in vain for the man's education or credentials of any sort, other than being a "businessman" and self-publisher. I remembered that he had a chapter in a book in my own library, of several different authors, Roman Catholicism (1994; Chicago: Moody Press, edited by John Armstrong). I thought that might say something about his education and background. And alas, my search ended. On p. 11, in the "Contributors" section I learned that Webster obtained a B.A. from Southern Methodist University in who knows what?, and is a "businessman."

He was the least credentialed contributor of all those in the book (13 in all). That made him (at least at that time) no more formally educated than I am myself, with my B.A. in sociology and minor in psychology (Wayne State Univ., Detroit, 1982, cum laude). Elsewhere, I learned that the degree was in history (not theology), that Webster is a pastor, and that he was a graduate of the Evangelical Institute in Greenville, SC.

That's better, but what degree? The website for this school gives little information on degrees available, or whether it is an accredited institution. On a web page for the U.S. Department of Education about accreditation, I couldn't find the school listed under South Carolina. Perhaps I missed something. But it looks like Webster is little more educated than I am.

Webster's and King's three-volume obscurantist sophistry-fest on sola Scriptura was self-published and co-written by a man with no advanced degrees in theology (King has an M. Div. degree from Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, MS).

Moving on to Eric Svendsen, here is (finally) a man with advanced degrees of some sort, granted. Who are his publishers, though? Upon This Slippery Rock is put out by Calvary Press, of Merrick, New York: not exactly an industry giant. Same thing for Who Is My Mother? Evangelical Answers: published by Reformation Press, which is such an influential force in evangelical publishing that it currently has four books in print (but alas, not including this one). The North American Distributor is Gospel Mission: Box 318, Choteau, MT 59422. This is clearly a thriving operation.

This is the best that a guy with a doctorate can do? He can't even keep a book in print from way back in 1999? What else can Eric come up with, book-wise? Well, there is always Learning to Master Your Bible: A Guide to Plumbing the Depths of God's Word (2001), self-published and spiral-bound, available for the bargain rate of $26.99 (+ $3.99 S&H). We must snap that up right away! There is also the self-published Table of the Lord (1996). Mighty impressive, all that . . .

The Grand Poobah and (Allegedly) Unvanquishable, Unanswerable Conqueror of Romanists, Rt. Rev. Bishop James R. White does a little better. He has a legitimate degree from Fuller Seminary and a highly questionable "doctorate" from an illegitimate storefront diploma mill (his "doctoral dissertation" was on the Trinity: really original, ain't it? I guess White is the world's biggest expert on that now). Who publishes his vaunted, much ballyhooed books?

Admittedly, his beginnings as a published author were quite humble. He was kind enough to send me three of his early books, when we first debated through the mail in 1995: The Fatal Flaw,  Justification by Faith, and Answers to Catholic Claims (all 1990). These were published by Crowne Publications, out of Southbridge, MA (that's how it is spelled on my copies, but in Google search, the title seems to be "Crown"). I couldn't find a thing about this company online. Somethin' tells me (just a hunch) that they ain't doin' too well these days. We all gotta start somewhere. I don't blame White for this. It is only the lies and double standards I object to.

White does have seven listed books with Bethany House Publishers, which is indeed a reputable, respectable (mostly) evangelical publisher, so he can get the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval in this respect of being published by a "real" and influential publisher, whereas King, Svendsen, and Webster surely cannot.

On a humorous note, however, Bethany also publishes all sorts of books by authors whose theology White would detest: folks whom he would say deny the gospel (yet we don't see White protesting and pulling his books in outrage, just as he abruptly ceased participating in Operation Rescue -- an effort I was also part of -- rather than pray with Catholics). For example, the roster of authors includes Catholics (all friends or acquaintances of mine) Scott Hahn (gasp!!!!), Francis J. Beckwith (including the conversion story, Return to Rome), my own editor at Sophia, Stratford Caldecott, Fr. Dwight Longenecker, Christopher and Rachel McCluskey, and Joseph Pearce, as well as a host of Protestants he would consider misguided: Arminians, charismatics (e.g., Derek Prince), liberals (e.g., Clark Pinnock), compromisers on various scores, etc.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Biblical Evidence for Physical Objects as Aids in Worship (Called "Idolatry" By Some Iconoclastic Protestants)

By Dave Armstrong (4-7-09)

[all passages: RSV]

Exodus 2:3-5 You shall have no other gods before me. [4] You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; [5] you shall not bow down to them or serve them; . . .

Leviticus 26:1 You shall make for yourselves no idols and erect no graven image or pillar, and you shall not set up a figured stone in your land, to bow down to them; for I am the LORD your God. . . .

Deuteronomy 5:8-9 You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; [9] you shall not bow down to them or serve them; . . .

Micah 5:13 and I will cut off your images and your pillars from among you, and you shall bow down no more to the work of your hands;

* * * * *

Exodus 3:2-5 And the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush; and he looked, and lo, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. [3] And Moses said, "I will turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt." [4] When the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, "Moses, Moses!" And he said, "Here am I." [5] Then he said, "Do not come near; put off your shoes from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground." (cf. Acts 7:30) [the burning bush]

Exodus 13:21-22 And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night; [22] the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people. (cf. 14:24; Num 14:14; Neh 9:12,19) [pillars of cloud and fire]

Exodus 19:17-20 Then Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God; and they took their stand at the foot of the mountain. [18] And Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire; and the smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain quaked greatly. [19] And as the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him in thunder. [20] And the LORD came down upon Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain; and the LORD called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up. [Mt. Sinai, smoke and fire]

Exodus 25:22
There I will meet with you, and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim that are upon the ark of the testimony, I will speak with you of all that I will give you in commandment for the people of Israel. [carved statues on the ark of the covenant]

Exodus 30:6 And you shall put it before the veil that is by the ark of the testimony, before the mercy seat that is over the testimony, where I will meet with you. (cf. Lev 16:2) [mercy seat on the ark of the covenant]

Numbers 7:89 And when Moses went into the tent of meeting to speak with the LORD, he heard the voice speaking to him from above the mercy seat that was upon the ark of the testimony, from between the two cherubim; and it spoke to him. (cf. 1 Sam 4:4; 2 Sam 6:2; 2 Ki 19:15; 1 Chron 13:6; Ps 80:1; 99:1; Is 37:16; Ezek 10:4; Heb 9:5) [carved statues on the ark of the covenant]

Deuteronomy 10:8 At that time the LORD set apart the tribe of Levi to carry the ark of the covenant of the LORD, to stand before the LORD to minister to him and to bless in his name, to this day. (cf. 1 Ki 3:15; 8:5; 2 Chron 5:6) [ark of the covenant]

Joshua 7:6-8 Then Joshua rent his clothes, and fell to the earth upon his face before the ark of the LORD until the evening, he and the elders of Israel; and they put dust upon their heads. And Joshua said, "Alas, O Lord GOD, why hast thou brought this people over the Jordan at all, to give us into the hands of the Amorites, to destroy us? Would that we had been content to dwell beyond the Jordan! [8] O Lord, what can I say, when Israel has turned their backs before their enemies! [ark of the covenant]

1 Kings 6:23-35 In the inner sanctuary he made two cherubim of olivewood, each ten cubits high. [24] Five cubits was the length of one wing of the cherub, and five cubits the length of the other wing of the cherub; it was ten cubits from the tip of one wing to the tip of the other. [25] The other cherub also measured ten cubits; both cherubim had the same measure and the same form. [26] The height of one cherub was ten cubits, and so was that of the other cherub. [27] He put the cherubim in the innermost part of the house; and the wings of the cherubim were spread out so that a wing of one touched the one wall, and a wing of the other cherub touched the other wall; their other wings touched each other in the middle of the house. [28] And he overlaid the cherubim with gold. [29] He carved all the walls of the house round about with carved figures of cherubim and palm trees and open flowers, in the inner and outer rooms. [30] The floor of the house he overlaid with gold in the inner and outer rooms. [31] For the entrance to the inner sanctuary he made doors of olivewood; the lintel and the doorposts formed a pentagon. [32] He covered the two doors of olivewood with carvings of cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers; he overlaid them with gold, and spread gold upon the cherubim and upon the palm trees. [33] So also he made for the entrance to the nave doorposts of olivewood, in the form of a square, [34] and two doors of cypress wood; the two leaves of the one door were folding, and the two leaves of the other door were folding. [35] On them he carved cherubim and palm trees and open flowers; and he overlaid them with gold evenly applied upon the carved work. [people prayed to God toward or in the temple and the walls included carved figures of angels]

1 Kings 8:22 Then Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in the presence of all the assembly of Israel, and spread forth his hands toward heaven; [altar]

1 Kings 8:44, 48
If thy people go out to battle against their enemy, by whatever way thou shalt send them, and they pray to the LORD toward the city which thou hast chosen and the house which I have built for thy name, . . . [48] if they repent with all their mind and with all their heart in the land of their enemies, who carried them captive, and pray to thee toward their land, which thou gavest to their fathers, the city which thou hast chosen, and the house which I have built for thy name; (cf. 2 Chron 6:34,38) [Jerusalem and the Holy Land]

1 Kings 8:54 Now as Solomon finished offering all this prayer and supplication to the LORD, he arose from before the altar of the LORD, where he had knelt with hands outstretched toward heaven; [altar]

1 Kings 18:42
. . . And Eli'jah went up to the top of Carmel; and he bowed himself down upon the earth, and put his face between his knees. [Mt. Carmel]

1 Chronicles 16:4 Moreover he appointed certain of the Levites as ministers before the ark of the LORD, to invoke, to thank, and to praise the LORD, the God of Israel. [ark of the covenant]

1 Chronicles 16:29 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come before him! Worship the LORD in holy array; [clothes, altar]

2 Chronicles 3:7 So he lined the house with gold -- its beams, its thresholds, its walls, and its doors; and he carved cherubim on the walls. (cf. Ezek 41:20,25) [people prayed to God toward or in the temple and the walls included carved figures of angels]

2 Chronicles 6:12-14 Then Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in the presence of all the assembly of Israel, and spread forth his hands. [13] Solomon had made a bronze platform five cubits long, five cubits wide, and three cubits high, and had set it in the court; and he stood upon it. Then he knelt upon his knees in the presence of all the assembly of Israel, and spread forth his hands toward heaven; [14] and said, "O LORD, God of Israel, there is no God like thee, in heaven or on earth, keeping covenant and showing steadfast love to thy servants who walk before thee with all their heart;" [altar and bronze platform in temple]

2 Chronicles 6:20 that thou mayest hearken to the prayer which thy servant offers toward this place. [temple]

2 Chronicles 6:21 And hearken thou to the supplications of thy servant and of thy people Israel, when they pray toward this place; yea, hear thou from heaven thy dwelling place; and when thou hearest, forgive. [temple]

2 Chronicles 6:22 If a man sins against his neighbor and is made to take an oath, and comes and swears his oath before thy altar in this house, [altar]

2 Chronicles 6:26-27 When heaven is shut up and there is no rain because they have sinned against thee, if they pray toward this place, and acknowledge thy name, and turn from their sin, when thou dost afflict them, [27] then hear thou in heaven, and forgive the sin of thy servants, thy people Israel, when thou dost teach them the good way in which they should walk; and grant rain upon thy land, which thou hast given to thy people as an inheritance. [temple]

2 Chronicles 6:29-30 whatever prayer, whatever supplication is made by any man or by all thy people Israel, each knowing his own affliction, and his own sorrow and stretching out his hands toward this house; [30] then hear thou from heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and render to each whose heart thou knowest, according to all his ways (for thou, thou only, knowest the hearts of the children of men); [temple]

2 Chronicles 6:32-33 Likewise when a foreigner, who is not of thy people Israel, comes from a far country for the sake of thy great name, and thy mighty hand, and thy outstretched arm, when he comes and prays toward this house, [33] hear thou from heaven thy dwelling place, (cf. 1 Ki 29-30,35,42) [temple]

2 Chronicles 7:3 When all the children of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the LORD upon the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the earth on the pavement, and worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying, "For he is good, for his steadfast love endures for ever." [fire, temple]

Psalm 5:7 But I through the abundance of thy steadfast love will enter thy house, I will worship toward thy holy temple in the fear of thee. [temple]

Psalm 28:2 Hear the voice of my supplication, as I cry to thee for help, as I lift up my hands toward thy most holy sanctuary. [sanctuary]

Psalm 29:2 Ascribe to the LORD the glory of his name; worship the LORD in holy array. [clothes]

Psalm 96:9 Worship the LORD in holy array; tremble before him, all the earth! [clothes]

Psalm 99:9 Extol the LORD our God, and worship at his holy mountain; for the LORD our God is holy! [temple]

Psalm 134:2 Lift up your hands to the holy place, and bless the LORD! [temple]

Psalm 138:2 I bow down toward thy holy temple and give thanks to thy name for thy steadfast love and thy faithfulness; for thou hast exalted above everything thy name and thy word. [temple]

Isaiah 27:13 those who were driven out to the land of Egypt will come and worship the LORD on the holy mountain at Jerusalem. [temple]

Ezekiel 46:3 The people of the land shall worship at the entrance of that gate before the LORD on the sabbaths and on the new moons. [gate]

Daniel 6:10 When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem; and he got down upon his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously. [Jerusalem]

Romans 12:1 I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. [bodies of Christians]

Philippians 1:20 as it is my eager expectation and hope that I shall not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. [St. Paul's own body]

Revelation 4:10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever; they cast their crowns before the throne, singing, [God's throne, crowns]

Revelation 7:11 And all the angels stood round the throne and round the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, [God's throne]

Revelation 8:3 And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer; and he was given much incense to mingle with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar before the throne; [altar in heaven]

"Pilgrimage" to Historic Blues and Country Music Sites, in the South, and in Detroit

By Dave Armstrong (4-7-09)

As an avid fan of Delta Blues and classic early country music, I am very interested in an upcoming trip we'll be making to the South, partly devoted to visiting places and gravesites and obscure little corners of Americana, connected with musical history. If one were to make a crooked square, with the four corners being Montgomery, Alabama, Vicksburg, Mississippi, and Memphis and Nashville in Tennessee, this would take in a great deal of the musical folk heritage of America; especially in terms of blues and country music. And this is precisely the area we'll be heading to in a few weeks (before it gets too hot down there!).

For an enthusiastic musical collector like myself, it was great to grow up in Detroit, a city with an extraordinary musical heritage; especially to grow up in the 1960s, at the height of the Motown R&B / pop explosion of hit songs. Every Detroiter who cares anything about music at all must make a "pilgrimage" to the "Hitsville USA" studio on West Grand Boulevard in Detroit. I've been there twice, and it was a thrilling experience to stand in the studio where so much great music was made. Rhythm and Blues ("R & B"), which was sort of a hybrid of blues and jazz, became popular in the 1940s. It branched out into rock and roll and doo-wop in the 1950s and soul and funk music in the 1960s. And that is where Motown comes in. It is in direct line with the blues if one goes far enough back, to trace its roots.

Sadly, may of the Motown greats have passed on, and many are buried in Detroit or its vicinity. On 28 March 2009, my wife Judy and I ventured to Woodlawn Cemetery in Detroit, which is located right at Woodward and 8 Mile, on the very northern end of the city, across from the Michigan State Fairground (where I went to see Johnny Cash in 1969: my first concert ever: one that included Carl Perkins and "Mother" Maybelle Carter and the Statler Brothers). Little did I know then, how much musical history I was witnessing.

In section 3 right outside of the office, one finds the gravesite of David Ruffin: lead singer of the Temptations from 1965-1968, the plot for Levi Stubbs, the recently deceased lead singer of the Four Tops, the grave of Renaldo "Obie" Benson (also of the Four Tops), and that of Ronald Winans, of the famed Detroit Gospel group of the same name. In section 40, at the opposite end of the cemetery, is the very nice gravesite of Lawrence Payton, who was in the Four Tops as well. Oddly enough, in the office I met a woman who is the niece of both Payton and Benson. Some of the Four Tops attended Cass Technical High School (as did Diana Ross): my own alma mater: recently voted the best public school in the country two years in a row.

In section 37, in the northwest portion, is the gravesite of James Jamerson, who was one of the Funk Brothers Motown session band, and for my money, the best bassist of all time. Ronnie White of the Miracles is buried here, too, but we were unable to find his site, due to being given the wrong information (another person of the same name).

Other Motown figures buried in metro Detroit are Florence Ballard of the Supremes (Detroit Memorial Park in Warren) and Paul Williams of the Temptations (Lincoln Memorial Park in Clinton Township). Detroit native and cousin of Levi Stubbs, Jackie Wilson, who was not in the Motown stable, but an equally talented R & B singer, is buried in Westlawn Cemetery in Wayne.

The most famous bluesman who was concentrated in Detroit was John Lee Hooker, who migrated here from Mississippi in 1948 and started playing the clubs on Hastings Street or "Black Bottom": the African-American entertainment section of the town on the lower east side (where the Chrysler Freeway or I-75 and the Lafayette Park residential development are now located). The parish I've attended since 1991, St. Joseph's, is in the same area (as is the famous Eastern Market). I used to work at the medical library for Wayne State, which was at the north end of the old neighborhood.

I once saw John Lee Hooker perform in downtown Detroit, in an open air concert. It's the only time (regrettably) that I saw one of the actual delta bluesmen in concert. I've listened to a lot of blues for over thirty years, but never went to many blues concerts, for some reason, excepting seeing Peter "Madcat" Ruth: arguably the greatest living blues harp virtuoso (that's what I play, too: you can listen to some of my old-time bluesy online recordings), several times at the Ann Arbor Art Fair and another concert in Detroit. In recent years he was in a band with my brother-in-law.

Most historians of the blues regularly mention two figures as the "fathers" of the Delta Blues: Charley Patton and Eddie "Son" House (hear his original Death Letter Blues from 1942). Patton died in 1934, but House lived till 1988. Apparently, he spent his last years in Detroit, because he is buried here in Mount Hazel Cemetery, on Lahser, south of 7 Mile (see a Google Map of exactly where this is). We visited House's and Jackie Wilson's gravesites, on 1 April 2009, as a preliminary for our southern trip. Blues singer Sippie Wallace is also buried in Detroit, at Trinity Cemetery (5210 Mt. Elliott St., a few blocks north of E. Warren: see Google Map). Originally from Houston, she had lived in Detroit, starting in 1929.

The "pilgrimage" actually began about twelve years ago or so, when we visited southwestern Virginia and stopped in Hiltons (formerly Maces Spring), Virginia, and the Carter Family Fold and Museum: the latter in the building that was the country store operated by A.P. Carter in his post-musical years. We had the great pleasure of meeting the late Janette Carter, who was the daughter of Carter Family members A.P. Carter and Sara Carter. The third member was Maybelle Carter, whose daughter was June Carter: later married to Johnny Cash. Historians of country music believe that the "modern" genre began in 1927 in Bristol, Tennesee, where the Carter Family were first recorded on the 2nd of August in the building for the Taylor Hat Company, by Ralph Peer. Jimmie Rodgers was recorded in the same location on 4 August 1927.

Our blues and country "pilgrimage" this year will begin again in Montgomery, Alabama, the hometown (after 1937, when he was 14) of the greatest country singer of them all: Hank Williams: who had been born in Mount Olive, and lived in Georgiana, Fountain, and Greenville before he resided in Montgomery. I even have an Alabama connection. My mother's father (Clyde Kirby, who died in January 1969, when I was 10) was born in Scottsboro, in the hilly northeastern region of the state, in 1891. We'll visit that site, too. My paternal grandparents were from Ontario, Canada, and my maternal grandmother grew up in Detroit.

Hank Williams' home at age 14 was a boarding house at 114 S. Perry St., in Montgomery (see the Google city map). It's not far from the river, between Interstate 85 and Hwy 108. Hank first performed a live show on the radio in 1937 at the Empire Theater (later the Davis Theater: see photo) on Montgomery Street, just a few blocks away.

By an odd coincidence, 18 years later it was the exact spot where Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus, thus beginning the famous bus boycott and the start of the Civil Rights Movement in America: spearheaded by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. I met Rosa Parks in the mid-80s (she lived in Detroit after 1957, and is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery, mentioned above), and my family and I have sat in the famous bus, in the same seat (it is at Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, about two miles from our home). The site of the old theater is now a museum devoted to Rosa Parks (the Empire having been torn down some years ago). Dr. King's family lived from 1954 to 1960 in a house at 309 S. Jackson (see Yahoo Map)

Dexter Avenue Baptist Church (see exact location), where Dr. King was pastor, is just a few blocks away, too. The state capitol building (where Jefferson Davis had been sworn in as President of the Confederacy in 1861) is a stone's throw from the church, at the end of the street. Hank Williams returned to Montgomery a few days before his untimely death, and played his last show ever (by another remarkable coincidence) on the same street where his career began, just one block away: at the Elite Cafe (now Nobles) on 129 Montgomery Street.

He had been staying in his mother's boarding house on 318 or 324 N. McDonough Street: close to the one where he lived in 1937. This is the house he left from, when he departed on his automobile journey that would end with his death in the back seat of the powder blue Cadillac. His body was brought back there to lie in state a few days before his funeral, held at the Montgomery Municipal Auditorium, in this same general neighborhood, on N. Perry Street, between Madison and Monroe (see a map for the location). It was attended by some 20,000 people.

Hank Williams' gravesite is a few miles away at the Oakwood Annex Cemetery on Upper Watumpka Road (see exact location and several photographs). The Hank Williams Museum can be found at 118 Commerce St., and the famous Chris' Hot Dogs, Hanks' favorite place to eat, is at 138 Dexter Ave., near the capitol building. Also, jazz and pop singer great Nat "King" Cole was born and lived for the first four years of his life at 1524 St. John Street: directly to the east of Alabama State University (see Google Map).

Melvin Franklin of the Temptations, was born in Montgomery in 1942, while fellow Temp Eddie Kendricks was born in Union Springs, about 30 miles southeast of Montgomery, in 1939, and moved with his family to Birmingham in the 40s, where he met group member Paul Williams, who was born there in 1939.

Leaving Montgomery, we'll take the famous route (Hwy 80) of the Selma to Montgomery march on 7 March 1965 ("Bloody Sunday"), the first of three, where the protesters of segregation were met by the police on the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma. Following Hwy 80 west across the state to Mississippi, and then heading onto Interstate 20, we arrive at Meridian, Mississippi, birthplace of Jimmie Rodgers: "the singing brakeman" and "blue yodeler." Well, that is usually the location given for his birthplace. There is good reason to believe, however, that he was actually born in Geiger, Alabama, some 40 miles north and 20 miles east of Meridian (see Google map).

Other famous musicians who were born in Alabama include Wilson Pickett (Prattville, near Montgomery), Nat "King" Cole (Montgomery), Percy Sledge (Leighton, in the northwest), Lionel Richie (Tuskegee, east central section), The Delmore Brothers (Elkmont, on the northern border), W.C. Handy ("Father of the Blues": Florence, in the northwest), Sonny James (Hackleburg, in the northwest), Louvin Brothers (Section, in the northeast), Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, session band of the famed studio (see a photograph) in Sheffield, near Muscle Shoals, Sam Phillips, founder of the famed Sun Studios in Memphis (Florence), Martha Reeves (Eufala, southeast; grew up in Detroit), Dinah Washington (Tuscaloosa), Hank Ballard (Bessemer, suburb of Birmingham; grew up in Detroit), Emmylou Harris (Birmingham), and Eddie Levert (lead singer of the O'Jays, Bessemer),

At any rate, wherever Rodgers was born, the Jimmie Rodgers Memorial Museum is located in Meridian, and he is buried in Oak Grove Cemetery nearby (see photo of gravestone and specific directions to it from Interstate 20). David Ruffin of the Temptations was also born in Meridian in 1941. Directly north, quite a ways up Hwy 45 and Hwy Alt 45 is West Point, birthplace of blues legend (and one of my favorites) Howlin' Wolf (Chester Burnett). Big Joe Williams was born in Crawford, twenty or so miles south of West Point, while about 40 miles further north is Tupelo, birthplace of Elvis Presley (see a photo of the house). Otis Rush was born in Philadelphia, 39 miles northwest (country singer Marty Stuart is from the same town).

The blues "pilgrimage" continues by heading west on Hwy 20. Halfway to Jackson is Forest, birthplace of Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup. Jackson was the birthplace of Otis Spann: the great blues pianist, and also Charlie McCoy and jazz singer Cassandra Wilson. About 37 miles south on Hwy 55 is Hazlehurst, birthplace of Robert Johnson: the greatest bluesman of all. About the same distance further down the same road lies McComb, birthplace of the late Bo Diddley (whom we saw at the free Concert of Colors in Detroit a few years ago; we've also seen Little Richard and Ray Charles there). Also about 60 miles south of Jackson, on Hwy 27, lies Monticello, birthplace of J.B. Lenoir. About 35-40 miles north and a little west on Hwy 49 is Bentonia, birthplace of the fabulous blues musician Skip James. Following Hwy 433 north and east about 25 miles to Hwy 14 east a few miles, one can find the gravesite of Elmore James, at the Newport Missionary Baptist Church Cemetery, in Ebenezer (see photo). He was born in Holmes County.

Continuing west from Jackson on Hwy 20, just to the south of the highway one passes the small town of Edwards. Charley Patton was born near there in 1891. This is at the southern end of the Delta, and Vicksburg is only 14 miles west. Famed blues composer and bassist Willie Dixon hails from there. Hound Dog Taylor was born in Natchez, in the southwest, below the Delta area.

Taking the fabled Hwy 61 north and taking Hwy 82 east about ten miles, we come upon Charley Patton's grave (see an aerial photograph and Google map and photo of the headstone). Patton died on April 28, 1934, about seven miles east in a house at 350 Heathman Street (no longer standing) in Indianola (which was also B.B. King's and Albert King's birthplace). The street runs directly north from the center of town (see the Google map and zoom in). Jimmy Reed was born west of this area, in Washington County. Little Milton was born in Inverness, about ten miles south, and raised in Greenville, 25 miles west. Mary Wilson of the Supremes was born in Greenville also.

Following Hwy 82 east, we turn south on Hwy 7 to the little town of Quito, to, in my opinion, the second most probable of Robert Johnson's three alleged gravesites (see a short commentary about this and another page of more photos of the sites and the churches). Some think that Johnson was buried in one place and then re-interred, which adds to the confusion. This particular site is at Payne Chapel Missionary Baptist Church (see Google Map, photo of gravestone, additional info-page, and You Tube video).

The most likely spot, according to the growing consensus of blues historians, is Little Zion Missionary Baptist Church, north of Greenwood (see Google Map, photo of tombstone, additional info-page, and You Tube video). This tombstone dates from the year 2000.

The third, less credible site, is south of Quito, near Morgan City, at Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church (see Google Map and photo of monument). Part of the confusion was a result of the two "Zions' in these church names.

See an article about the circumstances surrounding Robert Johnson's death. According to David "Honeyboy" Edwards (still alive and now 93; born in the Delta town of Shaw, on Hwy 61), who was Johnson's good friend and who was with him the night he took ill (from poison or syphilis, depending on different theories), he was playing at a juke joint at the intersection of Hwy 49E and 82 in Greenwood (no longer standing). He has also pointed out the house where Robert Johnson died a few days later: 109 Young Street in Greenwood (a different house stands there now). The location can be seen in a Google map (zoom in) east of the main drag Fulton St., south of the river, near railroad tracks, and the Amtrak station. Howlin' Wolf's excellent guitarist, Hubert Sumlin (still living) was born in this town also, as was Furry Lewis. Mississippi John Hurt was born in Teoc, seven miles northeast, and is buried in St. James Cemetery in nearby Avalon (see photo).

The next stop on the blues "pilgrimage" takes us north on Hwy 49E, north of Greenwood, about 21 miles, to Hwy 8, west 16 miles to Ruleville and past it, but not as far as Cleveland (Big Bill Broonzy was born in the same county: Bolivar), to the Dockery Farms Plantation: believed by many to be the place where the blues began. B.B. King has stated: ""If you had to pick one single spot as the birthplace of the blues, you might say it all started right here." Its in the very heart of the Mississippi Delta. The Wikipedia article states:
Charley Patton and his family are believed to have moved around 1900 to the Dockery Plantation, where he came under the influence of an older musician, Henry Sloan. In turn, Patton became the central figure of a group of blues musicians including Willie Brown, Tommy Johnson, and Eddie "Son" House, who played around the local area. Because of its location, central to Sunflower County’s black population of some 35,000 in 1920, the plantation became a known centre for informal musical entertainment. By the mid-1920s, the group widened to include a younger generation of musicians including Robert Johnson, Chester "Howlin’ Wolf" Burnett, Roebuck "Pops" Staples, and David "Honeyboy" Edwards.
About 70 miles due west, past the river in Arkansas, is Kingsland, where Johnny Cash was born in 1932. He was raised in Dyess, Arkansas, in the northwest part of the state, north of Memphis.

Related to Dockery is the famous "legend of the crossroads." Robert Johnson is reputed to have sold his soul to the devil in exchange for astounding musical talent, at some crossroads at midnight. Some seriously believe this; others say it was just a tall tale or a hoax. It is actually just as plausible to believe that Tommy Johnson (no relation) made such a pact, since he was known for his somewhat sinister persona. But where is the "crossroads"? One credible theory of the location, deriving from the primal blues legends of Dockery, is that it was the intersection of Dockery Road and old Highway 8 (just south of the present Highway 8). Tommy Johnson was born near Terry, about 15 miles south of Jackson on Hwy 55, and lived most of his life in Crystal Springs, a few miles south. Willie Brown was born in Clarksdale. Pops Staples of Staple Singers' fame, began his life on a cotton plantation near Winona, 27 miles due east of Greenwood.

Taking Hwy 49W north from Ruleville, we pass the famous Parchman Farm Penitentiary. Several blues figures spent time there, including Bukka White (born near Houston in the northeast part of the state) and Son House. After a few more miles, comes the town of Tutwiler, where W.C. Handy was inspired by an unidentified blues singer from out of the fields, while sitting at the train station in 1903 ("the weirdest music I had ever heard"). Sonny Boy Williamson (born in Glendora, about 15 miles southeast), is buried near here (see extensive directions and photo). As for other blues harp players, James Cotton, hails from Tunica, in the northwest area of the Delta, and Big Walter Horton, from Horn Lake, just south of Memphis.

From Tutwiler it is off to the famous blues town of Clarksdale. John Lee Hooker was born south of the town. Son House was born in Riverton, two miles away. The fabulous pop and soul singer Sam Cooke was born in town, at 2303 7th Street; cross street Illinois (see Google Map). Junior Parker and Ike Turner came from here as well. Bessie Smith died here on September 26, 1937 at the Riverside Hotel, 615 Sunflower Ave, after a car accident (see Google Map). The Delta Blues Museum is also here (see Google Map). Muddy Waters was born on the Stovall Plantation, about eight miles northwest of town (see Google Map). And country singer Conway Twitty was born in Friars Pt., about 18 miles northwest, on the river, as was blues drummer Sam Carr.

Moving further north, Mississippi Fred McDowell was born near Memphis and settled in Como, in the northeast section of the Delta. He is buried at Hammond Hill Baptist Church, on Hwy 310, two major streets west of Hwy 51 (see map and photo of headstone). Country singer Charley Pride is from Sledge, about 30 miles northeast of Clarksdale on Hwy 3. Charlie Feathers, of rockabilly fame, was from Holly Springs, 45 miles southeast of Memphis.

Crossing over the border to Memphis, the "pilgrimage" includes several eminently notable sites. In the downtown area lies the famous Beale Street (see Google Map). W.C. Handy wrote the first successful blues song St. Louis Blues in a bar on this street in 1912, and Memphis has long been a center for the blues. From the Wikipedia article:
From the 1920s to the 1940s, Louis Armstrong, Muddy Waters, Albert King, Memphis Minnie, B. B. King, Rufus Thomas, Rosco Gordon and other blues and jazz legends played on Beale Street and helped develop the style known as Memphis Blues.
Just a block away from the eastern end of Beale Street is Sam Phillips' legendary Sun Studio, on 706 Union Ave. (see Google Map). Here, many argue, rock and roll began, with Elvis' recording of Arthur Crudup's 1946 song, That's all Right, Mama, in July 1954. Johnny Cash (Folsom Prison Blues, Cry, Cry, Cry, I Walk the Line, etc.), Carl Perkins, (Blue Suede Shoes), and Jerry Lee Lewis (Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On, Great Balls of Fire) made their early classic recordings here in the 50s.

Then we head off to 926 East McLemore Avenue in South Memphis (see Google Map: zoom in several times), to the equally legendary and renowned Stax Studio site: "Soulsville U.S.A." (a replica of the old building, torn down in 1989): the home base of Stax Records. From Sun and Stax Studios came of my very favorite all-time songs. In this studio (and also in the associated Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in northern Alabama), the classic mid-60s soul or "Memphis soul" recordings of Otis Redding, Sam & Dave (Soul Man: my very favorite record) the Staple Singers, Booker T. & the MGs, Rufus and Carla Thomas, Wilson Pickett, Percy Sledge, Joe Tex, King Curtis, and Aretha Franklin were made. And of course, one will want to see Graceland, Elvis' famous residence, a bit further south in the city: (see Google Map). I say "see," as I would never go inside such a tourist trap.

Also of historical note in Memphis, is Mason Temple (see Google Map), not far north from Stax Studio, where Martin Luther King gave his last speech (see a transcript or hear an audio recording of the speech), the night before he was murdered. The former Lorraine Motel at 450 Mulberry St. (see Google Map), closer to downtown, is where Dr. King was shot the next day (April 4, 1968). It's now the National Civil Rights Museum.

Next stop: Nashville: the country music capital. Every music fan who knows anything at all about the history of country music will want to visit the Ryman Auditorium, site of the Grand Ole Opry from 1943 to 1974 (see Google Map). Just down the street (5th Avenue), not too many blocks away is RCA Studio B: the most famous of the Nashville studios, where Eddy Arnold, Chet Atkins, The Everly Brothers, Don Gibson, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Elvis Presley, Charley Pride, Jim Reeves, Hank Snow, Ernest Tubb, Roy Orbison, and many others have made recordings (see a list of many of the hit songs). The Country Music Hall of Fame is at the same location (see Google Map). Music Row, just southwest of downtown, is the heart of Nashville's music industry, with hundreds of businesses related to country, gospel, and contemporary Christian music.

For those interested in visiting gravesites of famous country musicians, Woodlawn Memorial Park at 660 Thompson Lane (see Google Map), is the final resting place of many stars, including Red Foley, Marty Robbins, Webb Pierce, Tammy Wynette, Eddy Arnold, and also Otis Blackwell, composer of Don't Be Cruel, All Shook Up, Fever, Great Balls of Fire, and Return to Sender. Spring Hill Cemetery at 5110 Gallatin Rd. (see Google Map) in nearby Madison contains the sites of Roy Acuff, Floyd Cramer, Jimmy Martin, and Hank Snow. Lastly, Johnny Cash (see photo of gravestone), June Carter Cash, and Mother Maybelle Carter (see photo of grave) are interred at Hendersonville Memorial Gardens, northeast of Nashville (see Google Map).

Further north in Kentucky lies Bill Monroe, the Father of Bluegrass, in Rosine Cemetery, Rosine, Kentucky (see Google Map), where he grew up (his boyhood home is now restored). After that it is up I-75 back to Motown.