10 March 2010

Universal Brotherhood

Alan Cooper's post The Fucking Shovel Joke got me thinking about nuns.
Mother Superior went to the construction site next to the convent seeking out the foreman. She said to the foreman, "Please stop your men from using crude and foul language as the Novices and Sisters should not be exposed to such offensive speech."

The foreman stood his ground, saying that while he sympathized, rough working men and laborers sometimes "called a spade a spade".

Mother Superior drew herself up and replied, "Well, most of the time they call it a fucking shovel!"
My prejudice is that most, if not all religions, like Catholicism, are for the fearful, the small-minded, the guilt-ridden, or the sexually repressed.

But, it's worth reminding myself that the word Catholic is derived from the Greek adjective καθολικός (katholikos), meaning universal. Universal is an expansive word.

It's also worth reminding myself that there were peace-loving, forward-thinking nuns too - not just the priggish battle-axes prowling the Sunday school isles poised on a hair-trigger to slap your ear-holes with a yard stick.

Our Lady of Peace

One Sunday, some time in the stifling New Jersey Spring of 1968, when coerced by my mother to go to the always-dreaded Sunday school at Our Lady of Peace, I encountered one of the coolest nuns...ever.

Young, and small in stature, Our L'il Lady of Peace lugged a portable phonograph into our sauna-like classroom saying, "I have a treat for us."

She set the phonograph on her desk, then - thankfully - opened a few windows. I must have been loosening my wool tie when she carefully queued up the crackly single on the phonograph.

It was a plaintive, but hopeful tune I recognized. I'd heard it played a few times on WABC-AM.

The normally soporific inmates in the room listened in reverie to one of the paeans to universal brotherhood known as Get Together by The Youngbloods.

That tune gave us chills. It moves me to this day.

The Youngbloods were the quintessential 1960s rock band stocked with eventual rock legends.

By the fall of 1969, Get Together had sold over a million copies, and received a gold record from the R.I.A.A. The recording featured the understated, but impassioned lead vocals of Jesse Colin Young.

Here's a video of a live performance of Get Together by the Youngbloods:


C'mon people now,
Smile on your brother
Ev'rybody get together
Try to love one another right now


  1. Reminds me of the equally popular, contemporary song "Turn, turn, turn" as recorded by the Byrds, written by Pete Seeger. The lyrics are almost entirely taken verbatim from the bible.

  2. But my favorite Youngbloods song is Grizzly Bear. "I used to love to watch her dance the grizzly bear. I guess she's gone to Frisco to dance it there". The real Elephant Mountain was just a few miles from where I grew up.


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