Archive for March, 2011
I’ve been learning clawhammer banjo for about a year now, and back in January, I started practicing with Scruggs-style, three-finger banjo as well. The two playing styles are very different on the right (plucking / strumming / frailing) hand, but very similar on the left (fretting) hand. Traditionally, the two styles are playing on different kinds of banjos — clawhammer on a more “primitive” open-back banjo, and three-finger on a resonator, bluegrass banjo. But there isn’t anything heretical with mixing and matching banjos and playing styles, and least as far as I’m aware. I practice both styles on both banjos, but maybe there’s something against that in the Old Testament somewhere.
My Open-Back Banjo
My open-back banjo is a GoldTone CC-OT, which is an entry-level Chinese-made banjo that I got for my birthday last May. The OT (for Old Time) is a little fancier than the base model. First, it has a frailing scoop — the highest frets, just above the pot (the circular body) have been removed, and the fingerboard is “scooped out.” This makes it easier to play in that spot, which, because of the structure of the instrument, gives a more mellow, “old-timey” sound. When I play closer to the bridge, the sound is brighter and louder. After the New Year, I started playing with a towel rolled-up behind the banjo head, because that’s what all the cool kids who play down at Manuel’s Tavern were doing. This lowers the volume and takes a lot of ring / overtones out of the banjo. When I start playing the banjo without the towel as a mute, I feel like I’m playing in a tiled bathroom. Then when I put the towel in, it almost feels like my ears are stopped up.
Here’s a clip of me playing a fiddle song called “Jubilee” on the open-back CC-OT. First I play it with towel mute, then I take out the mute and play it through again.
My Resonator Banjo
A few weeks ago, I drove to Louisville, KY, for an Esperanto literary seminar. On the way back, I stopped in Glasglow, KY, and met Arthur Hatfield, who builds very nice resonator banjos. His banjos start at $2,600, which is beyond my price range. But while I was watching him in his workshop, I noticed a poor little banjo, covered in dust and wood shavings, beneath a lathe. Arthur told me that it was a project that had been hanging around the shop for awhile. It had an old pot from the 50’s — he’d put a new head on it (the white circle — traditionally some kind of skin, but now all synthetic) and a new neck and fingerboard. It was already strung, but it didn’t have a bridge, so Arthur made one of his signature compensated bridges freehand in about two minutes (see how it’s squiggly?). It plays like a charm and costs a lot less than an Arthur Hatfield original. It’s a little ugly — the neck doesn’t really match the pot; the back is scratched up — but it has a lot of character, and I like the sound.
Here’s “Jubilee” again, this time on the resonator banjo. I’m not playing in the three-finger style — this is clawhammer again, exactly like above. On this banjo, because it doesn’t have a frailing scoop, I play just below where the neck meets the pot. The sound is a little mellower there than when it’s played closer to the bridge, which IS where I play three-finger with finger picks.
Which of the Thirty-Nine Articles Did John Wesley Remove to Create the Methodist Articles of Religion?
Our Sunday School class is reading Wesley for Armchair Theologians, which mentioned that John Wesley removed 15 of the Church of England’s Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion to create his own version for the nascent Methodist denomination. A member of our class asked the obvious question, “Which articles did he remove?” A quick search on the Internet wasn’t able to answer the question, so I’ve done a little research.
Wesley apparently wrote these articles specifically for the American Methodist Church, as an entity distinct from the Church of England. His 23rd article refers specifically to the government of the United States.
Note: I’m not a theologian, not even an armchair one. This list is based on a simple comparison between the Church of England’s Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion (1571) and the Methodist Articles of Religion.
Wesley made edited or deleted the following articles:
Deleted: Article 3 – The Descent of Christ into Hell
Edited: Article 6 – The sufficiency of the Holy Scripture for Salvation
Wesley retains the list of canonical Old Testament and New Testament books, but removes any mention of the Apocrypha (Esdras, Baruch, Maccabees, etc.)
Deleted: Article 8 – The Three Creeds
Edited: Article 9 – Original or Birth Sin
Wesley deletes several sentences reading “… so that the flesh lusts always contrary to the spirit; and therefore in every person born into this world, it deserves God’s wrath and damnation. And this infection of nature doth remain, yea, in them that are regenerated, whereby the lust of the flesh, called in Greek phronema sarkos (which some do expound the wisdom, some sensuality, some the affection, some the desire of the flesh), is not subject to the law of God. And although there is no condemnation for them that believe and are baptized, yet the Apostle confesses that concupiscence and lust has itself the nature of sin.”
Deleted: Article 13 – Works before Justification
Deleted: Article 15 – Christ alone without Sin
Edited: Article 16 – Sin after Baptism
Wesley changed the title to “Of Sin After Justification.”
Deleted: Article 17 – Predestination and Election
Deleted: Article 18 – Obtaining eternal salvation only by the name of Christ
Edited: Article XIII – Of the Church
Wesley deleted “As the Church of Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch have erred: so also the Church of Rome has erred, not only in their living and manner of ceremonies, but also in matters of faith.”
Deleted: Article 20 – The Authority of the Church
Deleted: Article 21 – The authority of General Councils
Deleted: Article 23 – Ministering in the Congregation
Deleted: Article 26 – The unworthiness of Ministers does not hinder the effect of the Sacraments
Edited: Article 27 – Baptism
Wesley removes “…whereby, as by an instrument, they that receive baptism rightly are grafted into the Church; the promises of the forgiveness of sin, and of our adoption to be the sons of God, by the Holy Spirit are visibly signed and sealed; faith is confirmed, and grace increased by virtue of prayer unto God.”
Deleted: Article 29 – The wicked which do not eat the body of Christ, in the use of the Lord’s Supper
Deleted: Article 33 – Excommunicated Persons, how they are to be avoided
Deleted: Article 35 – Of Homilies
Deleted: Article 36 – Of Consecration of Bishops and Ministers
Edited: Article 37 – Of the Civil Magistrates
The original article asserts that Queen Elizabeth is the chief ruler of England and that Christians should submit to being governed. The “Bishop of Rome” has no authority; the laws of the country may put Christians to death; Christians may be ordered to wear weapons and serve in wars. The Methodist version of the article specifically refers to the United States government, with no mention of England, and asserts more simply the US is to be governed by its elected leaders according to the powers given to them in the Constitution, and that no foreign power should have jurisdiction over the states. There is no reference to death penalties, conscription, or avowed loyalty to that government, though loyalty may be implied, and a 1939 “legislative enactment” added an unnumbered article that reads, “It is the duty of all Christians, and especially of all Christian ministers, to observe and obey the laws and commands of the governing or supreme authority of the country of which they are citizens or subjects or in which they reside, and to use all laudable means to encourage and enjoin obedience to the powers that be.”).