Forty Answers to “Forty Reasons I Am A Catholic”: #25

Thanks for joining me today as we continue our series examining and responding to Catholic apologist and philosopher, Peter Kreeft’s book, “Forty Reasons I Am A Catholic” (2018).

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Claim #25: I am a Catholic because Catholics, like their saints, are a little crazy

In this chapter, Kreeft posits that the two ideals of the human heart, truth and goodness, can either be contradictory or complementary. He argues that as a person draws closer to God, the more the polar opposite ideals merge and the more radical and “crazy” the person appears to the unbelieving world. Kreeft presents the Catholic canonized “saints” as exemplars of this “craziness.” As a person moves farther away from God, argues Kreeft, the more they follow only truth, leading to pragmatism, cynicism, and selfishness. Kreeft presents Hitler and Machiavelli as examples of souls focused exclusively on truth/materialism/pragmatism.

Response

This is probably Kreeft’s most philosophical and esoteric chapter to this point. I had to reread it multiple times to be able to decipher his main drift and compose the summary above. Innate in Kreeft’s argument is the Catholic teaching that a person becomes intrinsically holy/sanctified/righteous by availing themselves of the church’s sacraments, obeying the Ten Commandments and church precepts, and performing works of charity. Scripture contradicts the Catholic church’s salvation system and Kreeft’s esoteric philosophizing. The Bible declares there is none righteous, no not one, and that all of our impure “good deeds” are like filthy rags before perfectly holy God. All of us, “canonized saints” to the most heinous dictator, are sinners deserving of eternal punishment. But, God the Son, Jesus Christ, came to Earth and died for our sins. He rose from the grave, defeating sin and death, and offers forgiveness of sins and eternal life to all those who accept Him as Savior by faith alone.

The Catholic “saints” appear as “crazy” to the world with their hyper-pious religious strivings, but beneath the hagiographical veneer are sinners attempting to merit their salvation according to the dictates of the Roman Catholic church. In our review of chapter 21 (see here), we examined how many of the Catholic saints of yesteryear were involved in the violent suppression of genuine believers and non-conformists or were mentally-ill ascetics who practiced self-harm. If rigorous religious piety were the measure of genuine spirituality, I imagine many Hindu, Muslim, and Buddhist clerics “outdid” Catholic saints in their “craziness.”

Accept Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone. Religious über piety/craziness doesn’t save.

Next week: Claim #26: I am a Catholic because I know I should treat other people as if they were Christ

Throwback Thursday: Evangelical Exodus?

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on July 6, 2016 and has been revised.

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Evangelical Exodus: Evangelical Seminarians and Their Paths To Rome
Edited by Douglas Beaumont
Ignatius Press, 2016, 286 pages

1 Star

I returned to the Lord in 2014 after a two-decade prodigal “hiatus.” One of my first priorities was to find an evangelical, Gospel-preaching fellowship, but I wanted to avoid the kind of legalism we encountered at the independent fundamental Baptist church we had attended way back in the 1980s. I found a Southern Baptist church in our area that we liked a lot initially. It was a small church and the members were warm and welcoming. Our first Sunday was also the first Sunday for the new pastor; a young guy in his early-thirties, fresh out of seminary. His sermons were more about God’s grace and mercy than about shame, guilt, and accusations of not measuring up to God’s Holiness, which was what I had been used to. It was a balm to my soul.

But there was also a troubling aspect to this pastor. He wasn’t just “interested” in Roman Catholic writers and theologians, he was completely enamored with them. Over the course of the year we heard about his admiration for such Catholic figures as Thomas Aquinas, Blaise Pascal, G. K. Chesterton, Malcolm Muggeridge, and Peter Kreeft. I pointed out to him that all of those people supported a religious system which taught salvation was through the Catholic sacraments and obedience to the Ten Commandments and church rules. He off-handedly dismissed my objections as one would who has been steeped in institutional education and must condescend to the level of the “unlearned.” Because of that issue and a few others we decided to leave the church in June 2015.

I was eager to read “Evangelical Exodus” after my experiences with that young pastor. What exactly are they teaching in evangelical seminaries these days? Editor Doug Beaumont recounts his story and the stories of eight other young men who attended Southern Evangelical Seminary in Matthews, North Carolina. The seminarians allegedly all began as “evangelicals,” but ended up as members of the Roman Catholic church. How does that work? The founder of the seminary, evangelical theologian, Norman Geisler (d. 2019), is an unabashed admirer of Thomas Aquinas. Because of Geisler and his like-minded professors, the curriculum at SES was heavy on Thomist philosophy and theology. Some students naturally conjectured, “If Aquinas is so commendable for his non-Catholic-specific teachings, let’s check out his Catholic-specific teaching as well.” And one thing led to another. As I pointed out earlier in a review of one his books (see here), Geisler defies rationality. On the one hand, he fully supports the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone, and also acknowledges that Catholicism teaches a skewed gospel of salvation by sacramental pseudo-grace and merit. Yet he also dichotomously embraces Catholicism as a Christian, albeit misguided, entity. It’s clear from “Evangelical Exodus” that Geisler’s schizophrenic infatuation with Aquinas has led many astray.

What about the nine ex-seminarians who contributed to this book? They all claim to have been blood-bought, born-again believers prior to converting to Catholicism, but how could a sinner saved by grace and a child of God take upon themselves the chains of spiritual slavery and try to once again earn their own salvation through the “beggarly elements”? It’s clear that the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone had only been intellectual head knowledge for these nine men. There was no genuine saving relationship with Jesus Christ.

“But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?” – Galatians 4:9

Each ex-seminarian presents the Roman Catholic church’s long (and checkered) history, sacraments and liturgies, and claims to apostolic authority as arguments in favor of Catholicism. All of these points have been critiqued by knowledgeable evangelicals and shown to be deficient. See my list of books here which compare Catholicism with God’s Word. The ex-seminarians liberally quote the “church fathers” to support their viewpoint, but honest Catholic scholars will admit that the “fathers” present as many challenges to current Catholic dogma as they do affirmations.

Our former, Aquinas-loving pastor studied at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (Southern Baptist), which is located in Wake Forest, North Carolina, just three hours from SES. I surmise Geisler’s obsession with Thomism also made its way up Route 85 to SEBTS.

Doug Beaumont and Ignatius Press demonstrate a lot of wishful thinking by titling this book, “Evangelical Exodus,” but as thousands of near-empty Catholic churches attest, the overwhelming exodus between Catholics and evangelicals has been the journey of millions of ex-Catholics out of religious legalism and ritualism to the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.

This book was extremely hard for me to read. My heart breaks for Roman Catholics who are attempting the impossible task of trying to merit their way to Heaven. The Catholic church proclaims Christ is the “Savior,” but then teaches its members that they must merit their salvation by participating in the sacraments and obeying the Ten Commandments perfectly (impossible!). I couldn’t obey the Ten Commandments for a single day and neither can anyone else. A Catholic can never say they are “saved” (that would be the “sin of presumption”) because their salvation depends on if they can remain obedient and faithful to their church’s teachings right up until the moment of their death.

“I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” – Galatians 2:21

Catholic friend, accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone and ask the Lord to lead you to an evangelical church in your area that preaches the genuine Gospel without compromise. Find your salvation and rest from religious strivings in Jesus Christ.

http://www.gotquestions.org/sinners-prayer.html

Note from 2021: Many evangelicals misguidedly view Roman Catholics as “brothers in Christ” and view outreach to Catholics and debates with Catholic apologists as unnecessary and “divisive.” Yet, as exemplified by this book, Catholic apologists have no problem denigrating evangelicalism and the genuine Gospel.

The Byrds’ Top 25 Songs: #10, “Chestnut Mare”

Oh, boy! Here we go! We’ve reviewed songs #25 through #11 in our Byrds’ Top 25 Songs countdown, and they were all excellent tunes, but now we’re finally getting to the Top Ten “cream of the crop” of the Byrds’ recordings. Four of the upcoming Top Ten were Billboard Top 40 commercial successes, plus a near-miss, while the other five were exceptional songs in their own right.

“Chestnut Mare” (5:08)
Written by Roger McGuinn and Jacques Levy
Produced by Terry Melcher
From “Untitled,” Columbia Records, September 14, 1970, also released as a single, October 23, 1970

The Byrds’ leader and guitarist, Roger McGuinn, and Broadway impresario, Jacques Levy, met in 1967 and teamed up to write 26 songs intended for a musical that never materialized. Four of those songs were recorded for the Byrds’ ninth album, “Untitled,” including song #10 in our Byrds’ Top 25 Songs countdown, “Chestnut Mare.”

“Chestnut Mare” tells the whimsical story of the aforementioned musical’s protagonist, Gene Tryp, who sought to capture and tame a wild horse. It was distinct among Byrds songs in its narrative approach, with much of the vocals being spoken rather than sung. “Chestnut Mare” was clearly the best song on “Untitled.” Columbia rightly released the tune as a single a month after the album’s debut, but it inexplicably stalled at #121 on the Billboard singles chart (in contrast, the song reached #19 in the U.K.). Nevertheless, the song was a favorite of concert audiences and received extensive airplay on Top 40-indifferent FM radio. In addition to its entertaining, lyrical story, “Chestnut Mare” features some wonderful guitar interplay between McGuinn on his twelve-string Rickenbacker and Clarence White on both his Telecaster and Martin D-28 acoustic guitar.

The five albums by the 1969-1971 McGuinn-White Byrds were of uneven quality, but “Chestnut Mare” compares with the very best songs from the original, 1965-1968, McGuinn-Clark-Crosby-Hillman line-up.

It’s my pleasure to present song #10 in our Byrds’ Top 25 Songs countdown, “Chestnut Mare.”

Truth from Arkansas! Sunday Sermon Series, #119

Today, in our ongoing “Truth from Arkansas” series, we’re featuring two new sermons from the brethren down under.

First, we have Pastor Roger Copeland of Northern Hills Baptist Church in Texarkana, preaching from Proverbs 3:5-6 on “Trusting God in the New Year.”

Next, we have Pastor Cody Andrews of Holly Springs Missionary Baptist Church in Star City preaching from Romans 6:1-10 on “New Year, New Me.”

Both of these sermons were delivered on Sunday, January 2nd.

Pastor Roger Copeland – Trusting God in the New Year

Pastor Cody Andrews – New Year, New Me – The sermon begins at the 9:30 mark

An ex-Catholic invites Roman Catholics to accept Jesus Christ as Savior

Don’t Miss the Celebration in Heaven
By Philip J. Gentlesk
Xulon Press, 2021, 124 pp.

4 Stars

In this independently published book, the author, an ex-Catholic evangelical layman, examines many of the irreconcilable differences between Roman Catholicism and Gospel Christianity. He remarks on such anti-Biblical Catholic doctrines as papal authority and infallibility, purgatory, prayers for the dead, indulgences, veneration/worship of Mary, confession of sins to a priest, praying to saints, the sacrifice of the mass and transubstantiation, and reliance on sacramentals (scapular, holy water, rosary). Most importantly, Gentlesk cites the difference between Rome’s false gospel of salvation by sacramental faux-grace and merit and the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.

I give the author an “A” for effort, but there are several drawbacks to this book that I must mention. Some older, polemical Protestant works are referenced such as Hislop’s “The Two Babylons” and Boettner’s “Roman Catholicism.” Critical examinations of Catholicism have come a long way since those days (see Gregg R. Allison, Leonardo De Cherico, and James R. White to name a few). Also, in an attempt to appear as even-handed, Gentlesk grants that many Catholics will be in Heaven. “I know many fine Catholics who have surrendered their lives to Jesus and will be spending eternity in Heaven with Him – beyond any doubt” (p. 80). Fine Catholics? There are certainly some individual Catholics who have responded to a Gospel message from outside of their false religion and who genuinely trusted in Christ as Savior, but the Holy Spirit is drawing them out of Catholicism. It’s impossible to reconcile the Gospel of grace with Rome’s false gospel of works. Gentlesk is comfortable in pointing out the Roman Catholic church’s many heterodoxies, but draws back from condemning it as a totally apostate church.

I commend Gentlesk for his effort, but there are many other critical examinations of Roman Catholicism that present the evangelical view from a much more theologically knowledgeable (and forthright) basis.

Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 1/15/22

The top article provides a good summary on how the RCC is gradually shifting towards full embracement of practicing LGBTers. The second article examines a recent detail of that ongoing shift.

Within the RCC, the chasm is widening between conservatives/traditionalists and liberals/progressives.

Poland is the most Catholic country in the world. To be Polish is to be Catholic. But the younger generation is increasingly turning away from the Polish Catholic church with its strong ties to the conservative government.

We’ve been periodically checking on the Synodal Path (German: Synodaler Weg), a reform movement by the progressive German Catholic church. The SP began in December 2019 and will end in 2023. Demands expected from the SP include the ordination of women, married clergy, the full acceptance of practicing LGBT members, including the blessing of gay weddings, and Catholic-Protestant intercommunion. The demands may be “too much, too soon” even for the progressive pope Francis.

It’s ironic that progressive pope Francis condemns the current “cancel culture” because over the course of his papacy he has removed from prominent Vatican positions several conservative cardinals (Müller, Burke, Sarah) who opposed him. It’s also ironic because for 1500 years of its history, the RCC “cancelled” all non-conformists via sword-bearing armies and magistrates.

Progressive pope Francis correctly views the Latin mass as a bastion of his militant, anti-Vatican II, conservative and traditionalist opposition and there is zero chance that he will reconsider his decision to eliminate it.

There was a lot said in the media a couple of weeks ago regarding the one-year anniversary of the violent assault on the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6, 2021. Few remember that the “Jericho March” held a few weeks earlier on December 12, 2020 set the stage for the Jan. 6 events. The “Jericho March” was the name for multiple ecumenical marches and gatherings of politically conservative-minded evangelicals and Catholics held on December 12th in Washington, D.C. to show support for then-president, Donald Trump, and to protest the alleged fraudulent election of Joe Biden. See my relevant weekend roundup report on the Jericho March here. At the march’s “Let The Church ROAR” concluding rally, emcee, Eric Metaxas, shamelessly deferred to his Catholic co-marchers. It was regrettable that genuinely born-again Christians participated in those ecumenical and temporal-focused events. Scripture tells us that we are to be ambassadors and emissaries of the Lord and His Kingdom rather than passionately-invested, temporal citizens, yoked together with the unsaved.

Forty Answers to “Forty Reasons I Am A Catholic”: #24

Thanks for joining me today as we continue our series examining and responding to Catholic apologist and philosopher, Peter Kreeft’s book, “Forty Reasons I Am A Catholic” (2018).

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Claim #24: I am a Catholic because I am greedy

Kreeft opens this chapter by writing, “When I find a good thing, I want more of it. I used to be a Protestant. I still believe, love, and enjoy everything I believed as a Protestant and more. In fact, I am more Protestant – more evangelical, more charismatic, more biblical, and more Christocentric – as a Catholic than I ever was as a Protestant” (p.81). Kreeft goes on to write that not just Protestants, but Jews and secular humanists who convert to Catholicism become better/more complete Jews and humans.

Kreeft concludes that Catholicism is VERY BIG, “among other religions (just) as Jesus is among human beings: either the baddest or the best; either subhuman or superhuman; either an arrogant, egotistic, lying, blasphemous false prophet or the one true church; either the Devil’s or God’s chosen vessel” (p. 82).

Response

Although Kreeft claims to have once been a “Protestant” (he “converted” to RC-ism as a college student), it’s clear from this and the twenty-three preceding chapters that he never truly believed in the genuine Gospel and the 5 Solas of the Protestant Reformation: Sola Scriptura (according to Scripture alone), Sola Gratia (salvation by God’s grace alone…), Sola Fide (..through faith alone…), Solus Christus (…in Jesus Christ alone), and Soli Deo Gloria (…to the glory of God alone). ALL of the Roman Catholic doctrines Kreeft cherishes, defends, and propagates contradict the 5 Solas in some form or fashion.

In his last two paragraphs, Kreeft presses the reader for a decision. He presents Roman Catholicism as a “BIG” and unavoidable “either/or” proposition.*

  • The Roman church’s claims to authority and exceptionalism are either true or deadly fraudulent.
  • The RCC is either the Devil’s vessel or God’s vessel.

We’ve examined many of the Roman Catholic church’s doctrines in the first 82 pages of this book and we’ve seen that all of them are anti-Biblical. Most dangerous is Rome’s false gospel of salvation by sacramental faux-grace and merit. Is Roman Catholicism really a “good thing,” Mr. Kreeft? Is trying to merit salvation a good thing? Not on your eternal life! Scaling Mt. Everest with a 200-lb. weight on your back would be far easier than attempting to merit Heaven by obeying the Ten Commandments as the RCC teaches. Can’t be done.

“Yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.” – Galatians 2:16

Yes, Mr. Kreeft, the Roman Catholic pseudo-church with its false gospel is the Devil’s chosen vessel.

*Kreeft presents a false dilemma to the reader in contradiction of his own church’s teachings. The RCC declares that all religions and even atheism are legitimate pathways to God.

Next week: Claim #25: I am a Catholic because Catholics, like their saints, are a little crazy

Throwback Thursday: “Top ten misconceptions that Catholics have about Catholicism”

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on July 12, 2016 and has been revised.

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This morning, I listened to the 6/3/16 and 6/10/16 podcasts of the “Calling All Catholics” talk radio show on the Station of the Cross, 101.7 FM, out of Buffalo, NY, with host, Mike Denz, and Catholic priest, Dave Baker, taking questions from the listeners.

Over the course of the two shows, priest Baker responded to Denz’s personal list of the “Top Ten Misconceptions That Catholics Have About Catholicism.” I’ve listed the items below along with my own comments.

1) “Jesus is the Son of God, but He is not God.”

The Catholic church has a lot of unscriptural beliefs, but at least it teaches that Jesus is God (with the caveat that Catholicism’s Christology is erroneous in several respects, including its faux Jesus wafer). However, the average Catholic in the pew is woefully ignorant regarding spiritual matters. They attend the Catholic rituals and they have certain prayers memorized, but they only skim the surface when it comes to RC doctrine. I had a very “devout” Catholic friend who said the rosary every night with his family, but during one of our discussions he passionately argued that Jesus wasn’t God.

2) “The eucharist is a symbol.”

The Catholic church teaches that their priests change bread wafers and wine into the actual body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ at every mass. This belief, the core of Roman Catholicism, stems from a serious misinterpretation of John 6 and the Last Supper passages in the Gospels. Research shows that 70% of Catholics don’t believe the communion elements are literally changed into Jesus by the priest. Baker blamed some of this “confusion” on Protestant influence. Genuine evangelical Christians receive Jesus Christ as our Savior by faith alone, NOT by physically eating Him!

3) “Purgatory is no longer believed by the church.”

Baker blamed Catholics’ dismissal of purgatory on wishful thinking. At Catholic funerals, friends and relatives commonly refer to the deceased as being in Heaven while the reality, according to Catholic teaching, is the person is probably in purgatory if not Hell. Contrary to Catholic doctrine, there is no mention of purgatory in the Bible.

4) “Most of the Bible is symbolic.”

The majority of Catholics either haven’t read the Bible or have only read a very small portion. Their church never encouraged them to read the Bible. It’s a closed book to them, full of stories and parables (some would say myths and legends) they cannot understand. “Better just to stick with what the priest tells me to do,” is the rule for most. Catholicism declares the Bible is God’s Word, but then pushes it aside for its own traditions. Where the Bible contradicts Catholic tradition, tradition wins. Many Catholic prelates, priests, and theologians believe various events described in the Old Testament are myths and fables.

5) “Anyone can get an annulment if they have enough money.”

Baker countered by saying there is now no charge for annulments. But is there really any doubt that wealthy Catholic families in the past were able to procure an annulment via a generous gift to the church? But let’s be honest, annulments are just a slippery and unethical way of getting around divorce.

6) “No one believes in angels anymore.”

Baker replied by saying people are less-inclined to believe in spiritual things in general these days.

7) “Everyone sins and God loves everyone so there is no one who should not be able to receive communion.”

Catholicism teaches only Catholics can receive the consecrated Jesus wafer and only those Catholics with supposedly no mortal sin on their soul. Many of the Catholics who still bother to attend church on Sunday come forward to receive communion, but most of them have not obeyed other mandatory church rules (e.g., only 26% of Catholics participate in the sacrament of reconciliation/confession at least once a year as mandated).

8) “There are many contradictions in the Bible so we don’t really know what to believe.”

See my response to #4.

9) “If the words of the mass can change and eating meat on Fridays can change then things like women priests and use of articles of conception [sic – contraception] can change too.”

Baker said some teachings can never be changed, but some can change with the times. Who decides which is which? It used to be taught that Catholics committed mortal sin if they ate meat on non-Lenten Fridays, but that changed in 1966 in the USA. Were Catholics who ate meat on a non-Lenten Friday prior to 1966 and didn’t confess it and went to hell given a pardon?

10) “We should not judge people’s sins because God loves everyone.”

Baker responded that Catholics “are not permitted to judge a person’s character, ever,” but they should judge a person’s actions.  Unfortunately, Catholics see themselves as “good” people who obey the Ten Commandments for the most part and don’t see themselves as sinners in need of the Savior.


Catholics are generally ignorant of their church’s doctrines, but all Catholics will agree that attaining Heaven involves “being good” and “doing your best.” The Roman Catholic church teaches that other religionists such as Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, and even atheists may also merit Heaven if they’re sincere in their beliefs and “good,” so there’s little motivation for members of the RCC to learn the particulars of Roman Catholic theology that Denz stresses over. In none of Denz’s and Baker’s long discussion did I hear the genuine Good News! of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.

The Byrds Top 25 Songs – Interlude

Before we begin reviewing the final Top Ten songs in our Byrds’ Top 25 Songs countdown, I thought we’d take a break and mull over some Byrds-related topics.

Honorable Mentions (click on hyperlinks to play video)

The Byrds released 130 songs on twelve albums and a small number of 45-only singles. They also had a few recording session outtake songs that were excellent. Picking 25 top songs out of that collection was no easy task, so let’s recognize five other songs as honorable mentions:

The Airport Song (2:04) by David Crosby and Jim McGuinn, 1964 (unreleased)
David Crosby’s velvety tenor here is stunning, but this jazzy song from the band’s earliest recording sessions in 1964 didn’t fit the Byrds’ emerging folk-rock style. There will be more on Crosby’s penchant for jazz as we continue our countdown.

She Has a Way (2:26) by Gene Clark, 1965 (unreleased)
Jim (later Roger) McGuinn’s simple riff on his chiming 12-string Rickenbacker electric guitar is a force of nature in this unreleased love lament by Gene Clark.

Dolphin’s Smile (2:00) by David Crosby, Chris Hillman, and Roger McGuinn from The Notorious Byrd Brothers, 1968
This was Crosby’s first of many nautical-themed tunes. After firing Crosby, McGuinn and Chris Hillman paid him $10K as a settlement, which he used to buy a 74-foot schooner.

Jesus Is Just Alright (2:10) by Art Reynolds from Ballad of Easy Rider, 1968
The Byrds covered a significant number of Gospel songs, although no member was a Christian until McGuinn accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior, post-Byrds, in 1977. The Byrds’ released this song as a single, but it stalled at #97 on the Billboard charts. The Doobie Brothers’ 1972 version did significantly better, peaking at #35.

Just A Season (3:50) by Roger McGuinn and Jacques Levy from Untitled, 1970
McGuinn ponders the meaning of life. Reminds me of the Book of Ecclesiastes.

Two Top 40 Songs That Didn’t Make My List

The Byrds had seven Top 40 singles, including the two below, but these two particular songs didn’t make my Top 25 list because I’m just not personally fond of them.

All I Really Want To Do (2:02) by Bob Dylan from Mr. Tambourine Man, 1965
The story goes that Cher of Sonny and Cher heard the Byrds perform this Dylan cover live and beat the boys to the punch by recording and releasing her version the same week the Byrds released theirs. Cher’s single peaked at #15 on the Billboard chart, while the Byrds’ cover stalled at #40.

Mr. Spaceman (2:09) by Jim McGuinn from Fifth Dimension, 1966
This novelty tune with a country melody was the first of several McGuinn compositions dealing with space travel and aliens. The song inexplicably reached #36 on the Billboard charts. I’d be happy to never hear it again.

Popular Misconceptions

Assertion: The Byrds just covered other people’s songs, especially Bob Dylan’s.
Rebuttal: Of the 130 songs on the band’s 12 albums, 77 or 59% were written by members of the Byrds, not exactly the track record of a covers band. The Byrds did record 11 Bob Dylan compositions, but the band’s melding of Dylan folk and Lennon-McCartney rock ‘n’ roll was a significant step in the history of popular music.

Assertion: The Byrds did not play the instruments on their records.
Rebuttal: It’s true that producer Terry Melcher allowed only Jim McGuinn to play on the Byrds’ first single, “Mr. Tambourine,” and its B-side, “I Knew I’d Want You.” The famous “Wrecking Crew” session musicians filled out the rest of the instrumentation on those two songs. However, the Byrds did play their own instruments on every other recording that followed.

Album Representation

The Byrds recorded 12 albums over the span of 1965 to 1973. When I set out to select the Byrds’ 25 Top Songs, I desired to select at least one song from each album. The quality of the band’s music declined noticeably after “Sweetheart of the Rodeo” (1968), with Roger McGuinn remaining as the only founding member, but there was at least one gem in each of the Byrds’ last 6 albums. The 12 albums are represented by the following number of songs in our countdown: Mr. Tambourine Man – 3, Turn! Turn! Turn! – 3, Fifth Dimension – 3, Younger Than Yesterday – 5, The Notorious Byrd Brothers – 3, Sweetheart of the Rodeo – 1, Dr. Byrd and Mr. Hyde – 1, Ballad of Easy Rider – 1, Untitled – 2, Byrdmaniax – 1, Farther Along – 1, and Byrds – 1.

The Byrds’ 12 albums surround a greatest hits collection on this quilt.

The Anonymous Byrd

Michael Clarke

The Byrds’ original drummer, Michael Clarke, gets very little mention in this series because he didn’t write or sing on any songs, and, well, he just wasn’t that good of a drummer. The band had recruited Clarke in 1964 strictly because of his looks (said to have been a cross between Mick Jagger and Brian Jones). He had no actual experience behind a drum kit. Clarke’s lack of technique was legendary. At the end of a long gig his hands were often bloodied. Clarke quit the Byrds in 1967 and had long stints with the Flying Burrito Brothers and Firefall. In 1983, Clarke was without a job and began touring as “The Byrds featuring Michael Clarke” (often sans the “featuring Michael Clarke” part) with an ever-changing assortment of journeyman musicians, including former Byrds, Gene Clark, John York, and Skip Battin. Roger McGuinn, Chris Hillman, and David Crosby didn’t take kindly to their former drummer touring as “The Byrds” (imagine Ringo touring as “The Beatles”) and a legal battle ensued over the rights to the band’s name in 1989. A judge declared Clarke the winner because the others hadn’t used the name in 16 years, but his victory was short lived. Clarke died of liver failure in 1993 at the age of 47.

No Reunion

The Byrds’ 50th Anniversary came and went in 2015 without a reunion tour, although original members Roger McGuinn, David Crosby, and Chris Hillman were all still performing. What happened? Although Crosby repeatedly pleaded for a reunion, McGuinn repeatedly declined. He was not interested in touring with his irascible ex-bandmate. McGuinn and Hillman did tour together in 2018 with Marty Robbins in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the “Sweetheart of the Rodeo” album, which Crosby had not participated in. McGuinn is now 79, Crosby 80, and Hillman 77.

New Book

I recently learned that BMG Publishers will be releasing a coffee table book in October 2022 commemorating the Byrds’ early years. “The Byrds: 1964-1967” will be a large-format, 400-page collection of photographs of the original founding members of the band, Jim (later Rodger) McGuinn, Gene Clark, David Crosby, Chris Hillman, and Michael Clarke. Intermixed with the 500 pictures from such notable photographers as Henry Diltz, Jim Marshall, Linda McCartney and Barry Feinstein will be commentary from the three surviving members of the band, McGuinn, Crosby, and Hillman.


Wow! I intended for this interlude to be only 500 words, but it turned into 1200! Enough chatter. Next week we continue our countdown with song #10!

Truth from Arkansas! Sunday Sermon Series, #118

Today, in our ongoing “Truth from Arkansas” series, we’re featuring two new sermons from the brethren down under.

First, we have Pastor Roger Copeland of Northern Hills Baptist Church in Texarkana, preaching from Psalm 1 on “How to Have a Blessed New Year.”

Next, we have Pastor Cody Andrews of Holly Springs Missionary Baptist Church in Star City preaching from 2 Peter 3:11-18 on “Your Year.”

Both of these sermons were delivered on Sunday, December 26th.

Pastor Roger Copeland – How to Have a Blessed New Year

Pastor Cody Andrews – Your Year