By CHARLES ANDREWS
BUCKLE UP, BUCKAROOS
Hang on tight. I’m a-goin’ for a bit of a wild ride and I hope you’ll go with me.
From Gandhi to district voting to the Harlem Renaissance to Rick Cole to the Rev. Michael Beckwith and his buddies Stevie Wonder, Obama, Van Morrison, Oprah, the Dalai Lama.
We’re all influenced by what comes into our sphere, and how we process it from our unique history, beliefs, commitments and so on. Thank goodness that spontaneity doesn’t go too far, though, like all the way to the Pentagon, the Papacy or the Oval Office. It’s one thing for a newspaper columnist to emerge from a blues concert or a church service with a new perspective he may act upon in the moment, but we sure don’t want our POTUS making policy bamboozled by the last Faux News show he just watched (during his very ample “executive time”), do we? Especially if it means he has to ignore the findings of his intelligence professionals.
My teeth may be ground down 50 percent since 11/7/2018 but I keep looking for a way out of this mess, short of a bloody revolution. And I‘m talking about both Washington and Santa Monica, where it seems just as hopeless, But I just can’t shake the notion that it shouldn’t be. We’re a small city and we should be able to prevent being run into the ground by a self-serving cabal.
I finally trekked over to Agape’s new home at the Saban Theater in Beverly Hills. Agape is a “transdenominational” spiritual community with roots in Santa Monica. Rev. Michael Beckwith started it in his living room and when it quickly outgrew that small space he moved it to the basement of the Fairmont Hotel, subsequently to a larger space on Olympic, then to Culver City and now to the beautiful Saban. I started going in ‘86. The main reason I go is that everything I hear speaks to me, no red flags waving, no exceptions.
Number two reason: the music is so good, and that is a spiritual experience. It’s truly amazing how many congregants step onto that stage and blow your mind and raise the roof. C’mon, Catholics — a guitar Mass just doesn’t cut it.
And then there are the famous folk who contribute their talents. I’ve caught a lot of great uplifts there but never Stevie Wonder, though he’s sung numerous times, including his “Happy Birthday” to Rev. Michael last June. About a month ago Van Morrison, another frequent guest, sang “Into the Mystic” (can’t believe I missed that one). I told the Rev I was considering writing a column on his unique history and relationship with music and devotion, particularly in Santa Monica, and he was ready to roll, so I guess now I really need to do it. Good Gosh-Amighty y’all!
WHAT DO YOU MEAN?
Was his theme for the service and I won’t bore you with specifics, but a thread I pulled out was changing the world in a peaceful way, through changing yourself. I skipped past the last part because obviously I don’t need to change a thing about myself, ask my family (no, don’t!), but he brought in Dr. King and Gandhi and their methods of peaceful resistance that yielded great results. I thought, how can I apply this to those evil teddy bears in our SM City government, short of their prayerful kneeling before a guillotine?
And then I had a revelation that just maybe that was the wrong attitude and approach. But what do you do when someone is standing on your throat with no relief in sight? It’s a delicate balance of calm but determined resistance, sans violent force. I have not much idea where to go from there except to maybe to ease up on castigating our city leaders, and stick to pointing out policies and actions that harm our city. Ignorance and misinformation are the norm here among most residents (no accident), and so many in SM have no idea what is coming down, until it’s too late.
And district voting you can kind of figure out how they fit in, but the Harlem Renaissance? That was the starting point for a terrific performance by another “Rev,”the Reverend Shawn Amos, ordained only by the spirit (and maybe the incredible Rev. Solomon Burke, his mentor), at the Broad Theater Friday night. Much of Amos’s show focused on black history, but any time he’s on stage you reach heaven through his talent, charisma, movement, and his tacky-wonderful suits and bright yellow patent leather shoes. He’s a very good thing that happens in SM.
You see, it does all tie together.
Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for 33 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at email@example.com