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Interview with Robert O’Sullivan on William Blake

KCIW radio host Lee Tuley interviews Robert O’Sullivan about the life and works of William Blake.

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Civil Rights History by Robert O’Sullivan

Radio interview/podcast with “Reality Check” host Lee Tuley interviewing Robert O’Sullivan of KCIW in Brookings, Oregon.

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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. On The Importance Of Jazz and the Blues for All of Life

In an opening address to the 1964 Berlin Jazz Festival, reprinted in its program, MLK profoundly related jazz and the blues to universal quests for happiness and the end of oppression, saying: “Jazz is exported to the world. For in the particular struggle of the Negro in America there is something akin to the universal struggle of modern man.

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Memorial Homily for Disability Rights Leader Bob Alllamand

Over fifty years a quadriplegic, Bob Allamand was one of four spokespersons at the historic San Francisco Federal Building sit- in which precipitated the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

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MLK’s Favorite Hymn, “Precious Lord”

A remarkable circa 1990 recording of Martin Luther King’s favorite gospel hymn, “Precious Lord,” has been posted on YouTube, accompanied with visuals and quotations from the Civil Rights Era

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Two John Higgs Books on William Blake’s Extraordinary Relevance

William Blake had quite the year in his home city of London in 2019.  The Tate Britain Museum had a major exhibition of his extraordinary multifaceted art, something it does every twenty years or so.

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A Clean, Safe Place

Inspired by poem of William Blake

And will those feet in modern time,
Walk upon earth’s fair mountains green?

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Dag Hammarskjöld and Ethical Leadership

Should a book on a highly gifted, spiritually and intellectually grounded political/diplomatic world leader of the twentieth century have serious impact on life today?

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During Plague, Enduring “New Songs” Created by Philipp Nicolai

Preeminent German hymn writer Philipp Nicolai was a Lutheran pastor whose small town, Unna, was devastated by the plague during the winter of 1597-8 with over 1300 deaths.  He officiated at many funerals, as many as 30 a day.

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September 18th: Commemorating Dag Hammarskjold

20th Century Peace Maker and Christian Mystic

Swedish diplomat Dag Hammarskjold, the United Nations Secretary-General, was awarded a posthumous Nobel Peace Prize.  After his death, many were surprised at the content of Markings, a kind of personal diary and notebook now recognized as a  twentieth century classic of Christian spirituality.

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A Blakean “Unofficial International Anthem”

National anthems are often barely singable tunes with bombastic, jingoistic words.  Doesn’t that fit the “Star Spangled Banner?”

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Fighting Destructive Chaos…with Christmas Carols?

Like many people, I am absolutely appalled by the ugly, hateful and destructive chaos emerging in this country. I have also wondered what I, a retired Oakland High School English teacher and Berkeley pastor, now living in a small town on the Oregon coast, could do to somehow change the dialogue and direction as to where the nation is going.

I hope to do so through … Christmas carols!

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“Flash Choirs” of Carolers Encouraged to Combat Destructive Chaos

Robert O’Sullivan, a retired high school English teacher and pastor, has called for “flash choirs” of Christmas carolers to assemble frequently at the White House and throughout the land, using carol verses old and new to combat destructive chaos and remind people that Christians should work for peace, justice, care of the earth, equality and love, especially as it applies to the most vulnerable.

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New Verses for Christmas Carols

Hark the Herald Angels Sing, It Came Upon the Midnight Clear, Joy to the World, Lo, How a Rose is Blooming, In the Bleak Midwinter, Wake, Awake for Night is Flying (Advent hymn)

Sing with them, ye humans bold!
Sing of peace, justice unfold!
Ring the bells of liberty;
Ring them loud ‘til all are free.

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Timely New Verses for “Joy to the World”

These timely new verses seek to update the spirit and language of the carol to today’s earth, “torn with strife,” while reflecting the Old Testament insight that nature sings joyously in honor of the creator.

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Robert O’Sullivan homily at Brookings, OR Ecumenical Observance of the 50th Anniversary of the Death of MLK

Robert O’Sullivan homily at Brookings, OR Ecumenical Observance of the 50th Anniversary of the Death of MLK

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After the MLK Assassination: Why “Oakland was not for burning!”

Major rioting broke out in many American cities after the April 4, 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King. There was significant rioting in 100 cities, with the worst taking place in Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Chicago and Kansas City. Property damage and loss of life were rampant and much of the land was engulfed in grief and fear.

But Oakland, with a large African-American population long in conflict with local police, had no significant rioting, despite a shootout between OPD and the Black Panther Party which resulted in the death of 18 year old Bobbie Hutton and the wounding of Eldridge Cleaver, BPP Minister of Information and the well known author of “Soul on Ice.”

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“In the Bleak Midwinter” — New Verse to Old Carol

This carol features words by 19th century English poet Christina Rossetti which were set to music by composer Gustav Holst.

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“It Came Upon a Midnight Clear”—New Verses to Beloved Carol

“It Came Upon the Midnight Clear” is a 19th century American carol created in the context of war which addresses its horror directly.

Despite this, it offers hope and a plea for peace.

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Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming—New Verses for Advent/Christmas Carol

This beloved carol originated in a 16th century German monastery. Legend
has it that a monk was inspired to create it after a Christmas Eve forest walk during
which he saw a blooming rose. The imagery is based on Isaiah 11:1 referring to
the Branch of Jesse, a central Messianic symbol: “There shall come forth a shoot
from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.”

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“Wake, Awake for Night Is Flying”—New Verses for Advent Hymn

The words and music of this famous German hymn were created by Lutheran Pastor Philip Nicolai at a sad time in his ministry. During the winter of 1597-8, over 1300 people died of the plague in the small village of Unna, near Dortmund, where he pastored. He officiated at many
funerals, as many as 30 a day.

In a preface to its publication with other hymns and meditations he said he wished “to leave [them] behind me (if God should call me from this world) as a token of my peaceful, joyful, Christian departure, or (if God should spare me in health) to comfort other sufferers whom He should also visit with the pestilence.”

The hymn draws richly from biblical sources, including images from the Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13) and the Book of Revelation.

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Selma 50th Anniversary Pilgrimage

In 1965, President Lyndon Johnson, in an historic address to Congress, said: “At times history and fate meet in a single place to shape a turning point in man’s unending search for freedom. So it was at Lexington and Concord. So it was a century ago in Appomattox. So it was last week in Selma, Alabama.”

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Civil Rights Memories 1963-64

Three years ago many classmates gathered for a fifty year reunion. It was reassuring to hear many of them tell how this civil rights involvement shaped their later careers, where in different forms and contexts they became involved in many efforts to fight the results of bigotry, injustice, poverty and ignorance. Over a dozen went to Selma in ’65. One, as a rookie pastor, founded the first integrated day care in Louisiana, shortly after finishing seminary in ’68. Many are involved these days in welcoming immigrants, fighting for health, housing and nutrition and opposing injustice and discrimination in many forms.

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About “Markingsmass: A Liturgy for Peace, Justice and Reconciliation”

Dag Hammarskjold was Secretary General of the United Nations when he died in a plane crash in Africa in 1961 while on a peace-keeping mission. Widely admired for his performance in that role, he was rewarded posthumously with the Nobel Peace Prize.

Distinguished as his diplomatic career was, it has been equaled remarkably in public interest in a very different sphere—that of Christian spirituality–by the publication of Markings, a sort of diary or journal published after his death. It has remained in print since the 1960’s and is generally considered one of the great Christian devotional classics of the twentieth century, frequently compared with the works of St. Augustine, Pascal, Merton and other important Christian writers.

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MARKINGSMASS – A Liturgy for Peace, Justice and Reconciliation

Based on excerpts from Dag Hammarskjold’s Markings

Our work of peace must begin with the private world of each one of us. To build for man a world without fear, we must be without fear. To build a world of justice we must be just. And how can we fight for liberty if we are not free in our own minds? Dag Hammarskjold

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Two Favorite American Christmas Carols

Two Favorite American Christmas Carols

“It Came Upon the Midnight Clear” and “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” are both 19th century American carols created in the context of war which address its horror directly.

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