Every once in awhile, I’m in the mood to write a blog post for someone I think highly of. On days like today, I like to think good thoughts, as a backdrop of heinous-ness seems to envelop the world. As I write this, I am coping with a mass shooting in a Maryland H.S., where relatives live, and, today. someone else I know whose husband tried to murder them. Oh, and did I mention we’re still in the era of Trump and everyday our country digs further into a hole in so many ways? Yeah, that, too.
With the sense of death encroaching, I wanted to think about someone normal, or someone who gives me hope for the world and, since I like to relax via music, it should probably be someone in music. Lo and behold, Facebook says “It’s Jen Chapin’s birthday! Wish her well!”. I knew what I had to do…
About 40 years ago, one of my life-goals occurred. I met my hero, Harry Chapin, for a few brief seconds after a show. My girlfriend at the time had me take a picture of her and Harry, so I have no documentation to prove it, but it’s true. For years, I wanted to do something to continue that connection and support the incredible aura of goodness and humor Harry brought to the world. About 3 years ago, I think, I got to fill that need by meeting Harry’s daughter. As a blogger, I had questions about faith, music, and politics… and Harry. I asked for an interview for my blog and she agreed.
So as not to be an idiot, I did my research and I listened to her albums/CDs/whatever you call them. I was impressed, and surprised. Her music wasn’t really anything like Harry’s. Its roots were jazz and reggae and soul. After the perfunctory (now) Harry questions, we got into discussions of race, music, and faith. It was a rollicking conversation with challenges aplenty. Mostly, though, I was impressed with her brains, and her knowledge of Africa and her activities with WHYHunger and the arts on Long Island. It’s a lot for one person, but it doesn’t seem to bother her. I don’t get it, but I can be impressed by it.
Since then, I follow her on Facebook and make contact on occasion. She wrote a supportive song for my daughter. I’m pretty sure my daughter’s the first kid on the block that can say that. So Jen has my admiration, right there. She did right by my child. Anyone who does that gets a gold star in my book. I like human people. By human, I mean, caring, doing good things in the world.
Jen is a teacher. Yes, in addition to being a musician, a worker for justice, she is also a teacher. Doing good in her local area, doing good in the world. It’s two-for-two. Did I mention that Donald Trump is still in office? She’s against his policies. She’s human. I swear, he’s not. Betsy DeVos is still in office, threatening to destroy everything I love for children I care about. Jen’s a teacher. The government wants to send food to poor people that it chooses, because it doesn’t think they can make choices. Jen works for an organization that says that’s wrong. Oh, yeah, and she’s a mother, too. She hasn’t shot anyone with an AR-15 this week. I’m guessing she thinks it’s better that way. I don’t have any way of knowing, but I bet she didn’t marry a man who hits her. She’s too spunky for that. On a day when our country is going the wrong way, she’s going the right way. I admire that. We all need that right now, and the news tells us that there’s precious little of it to be found. People like Jen make the world better. I like knowing that the world still has people like that.
On Thursday, August 16th of this year, the Jen Chapin Trio will be performing at North Congregational Church in New Hartford, CT, where I am the interim pastor. In discussing fees, and plans, and logistics, Jen asked who the band will be supporting by playing. What agency that does good things in the world will get the money she brings in. It occurred to me that anything I said my church was interested in, Jen would support, because we think like Christians and so does she. We try to act like Christians, and so does she, whether she’s active in a local church or not, whether or not that’s even her faith. Did I mention she wrote a song about protest and called it “Gospel”? She gets it.
When Harry received the Medal of Freedom, someone — I think Ralph Nader or Jimmy Carter — Harry was the best thing an American can be. He was a citizen.” Jen Chapin is a citizen. I’m glad there are people like her in the world.
Resisting with Peace,