Adam Michael Wood
Essays and Poems

On Emptiness, Wisdom, and Fortune with Richard Clark

My friend, the composer Richard Clark, recently used excerpts of two of my poems as the basis for a choral work.

Keep reading On Emptiness, Wisdom, and Fortune with Richard Clark...

On Fortune

“There but for the grace of God.”
What vain oath, or what wicked spell,
Canted when confronted by the odd
could better our presumption tame and tell?

For when we see the hungry or the poor,
the teeming wretched refuse of the Earth,
do we suppose that we are something more,
and not the hapless protégés of birth?

That God is gracious, I am ever sure,
and boundless are the reaches of that grace.
Yet all the ills of Earth do yet endure,
and many are the sorrows of our race.

So better seem the prosperous and healthy,
so damnable the sick of mind and soul,
so meritous the righteous and the wealthy,
so sad the broken, so at peace the whole.

Yet broken, blessed, and given unto dying
is every person on the pilgrim way,
And every sinner’s soul is ever crying,
and every dog and demon has a day.

The grace, then, of our God is hardly magic.
Though wondrous, it is not a wonderment.
We are not pagan people, comi-tragic,
seeking boons and blessing thunder-sent.

Do not be so confused as to consider
that fortune is a ray of grace’s light,
for every saint endures a trial bitter,
and every tyrant sleeps in peace by night.

Do not forget- yea, do not be mistaken—
for homelessness is all our native state,
and lest your faith by worldly ills be shaken,
be mindful of the life for which you wait.

Strawdogs we, and servants made to be,
and only God’s own grace has drawn us higher—
Not in our station, nor in ways we see:
Salvation and The World do not conspire.

So weep and pray for those in cold despair,
And do what all you can to ease their lot.
And when one day you find you’ve fallen there,
do not let grace’s reason be forgot.

I trust, O God, your Wisdom to fulfill
All needs I have, yet beg for blessings too.
But if you take all else, take first my will,
That I may know that all I need is You.

Comment on On Fortune.

Minimum Wage Thinking and Salvation Theology
On the Worth and Value of the Human Being

The conception behind minimum wage laws - and any similar notion that supposes that employees should receive payment or benefits unrelated to the transactional value which they bring to their employers - is economically unsound.

Though most people in our culture today would disagree with this point, it is at least well understood by most libertarian and anarchist thinkers, as well as by any one who has ever run a business.

What is not widely understood, even by most Christian libertarians, is that this economically unsound principle is also deeply connected to unsound theology regarding the worth and value of the individual person before God and the nature of God's saving grace.

Keep reading Minimum Wage Thinking and Salvation Theology...

Book Review:
Liberty is a Do-it-yourself Project
by Jeffrey Tucker

This book is amazing and everybody should read it.

Keep reading Book Review:
Liberty is a Do-it-yourself Project
by Jeffrey Tucker...

Tradition and Ideals

To speak of an ideal form of the Mass suggests that either there is some original source for the Mass music which we need to recover, or that there is some etherworldly quintessential Mass which we must strive (failingly) to emulate, or that the celebration of Liturgy developed to its intended apex at some time in the past and the job of all liturgists since that time should have been the preservation of that climactic style. None of these is acceptable, though that last one seems pretty common among various branches of tradderrie.

Keep reading Tradition and Ideals...

What Nelson Mandela Reveals About Free Markets
And why they are so dangerous

The danger of a free market - and it is, truly, a dangerous thing - is that people will sometimes...

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What else would you do with all the computing power in the world?
Power squared corrupts exponentially

The Russian Mafia (with deep ties to the Russian government) has been doing this sort of thing for over a decade...

Keep reading What else would you do with all the computing power in the world?...

An Economy of Exclusion

In the titular first line of the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, the Holy Father writes, "The joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew."

Keep reading An Economy of Exclusion...

I Am The Resurrection
Funeral Procession

"I am the Resurrection," he said, "the Life am I."
And who in Him have kept faith, not one of them shall die.

Keep reading I Am The Resurrection...

What is this participation?

Dr. Jerry Galipeau's recent excursion to a Mass in the Extraordinary Form has sparked some interesting discussion and reactions. Perhaps the most interesting is his attempt to reconcile the experience of a silent Low Mass with the notion of active (actual) participation called for by the Second Vatican Council.

Keep reading What is this participation?...

The Mediant Pause and Grammatical Ecstasy

Most of us know that there is, traditionally, a slight pause at the mediant cadence when singing a Psalm...

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Telephone Time Share

I will have to call you tomorrow. I timeshare my telephone with several other non-profit organizations. Today the phone line is being used by the Penguin’s Association of Porcine Golf Enthusiasts.

Their slogan is “We like Pig Putts and we cannot fly.”

Comment on Telephone Time Share.

On Fussbudgets

Does any blight or cursed venom
Have a bite that's worse than them in
whom no happy triffling matter
fails to launch an angry pratter
blusterbunding out the gullet,
of dispar'ging comments, full? It
really is an aweful mir'cle
how the purtin prudy jerk'll
blab displeasure, frown on happy
thoughts and spread his brand of crappi-
ness where e'er his gazing lands,
confident he understands.

Keep reading On Fussbudgets...

Response to the Most Common pro-IP Argument

There are arguments - some good, some bad - against my position on Intellectual Property. But the one I find the most ridiculous is this one:

Yeah, well- how would you feel if I copied and sold YOUR stuff?

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Against Free Verse

Free verse poetry.
Find hard to take seriously
the idea

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A Firm Foundation
On finding roots in rootlessness

I recently had the joy of reconnecting with a group of very close friends- a small, non-denominational house church community that my wife and I were a part of when we lived in Massachusetts. I've written about them before, in relation to how singing with this group influenced my thinking in regards to Gregorian Chant. The founding members of this community had grown up in the Church of Christ tradition, where unaccompanied congregational singing is the norm- one of the primary identifying aspects of their worship culture. Singing and praying with them, in their "native style," provided food for thought about issues like simplicity is music, the need for accompaniment, the nature of musical notation, and the degree to which traditions of musical practice shape and identify a religious tradition.

Keep reading A Firm Foundation...

CMAA - Now With 100% More Github

I've mentioned before that I think we (that is, creators and users of Sacred Music) should adopt some of the tools and techniques of Open Source development. Differences of opinion in the Free vs. Copyrighted realm aside, I have to assume that most people 'round these parts have seen the value of free resources made available by or through CMAA.

Keep reading CMAA - Now With 100% More Github...


Twixt sorrow and the joy of being near,
We sing for comfort, and for God to hear.
Though fleeting comfort is, and absence long,
there is no cold despairing in our song.
For that same God who joined us also parts,
and strengthens for the breaking of our hearts.

Composer of the Heavens, make us new
That we might in all places sing for You,
And if it pleases, let it not be long
Til scattered friends again rejoice in song.

Comment on Reunion.

Random Thoughts on Liturgical Style

  1. Everything communicates something. Everything.

  2. Noble simplicity and liturgical minimization are not the same thing.

  3. Traditional beauty and Noble Simplicity are not inherently antithetical.

  4. Minimalism and minimization are not the same thing.

  5. Minimalism and Noble Simplicity require thoughtful absence. They cannot endure an absence of thoughtfulness.

  6. Cheap and simple are not the same.

  7. Neither is expense an indicator of quality.

  8. Solemn should not be confused with sad.

  9. But sadness is a legitimate spiritual experience.

  10. Seriousness and joyfulness are not opposites, nor are they exclusive of each other.

  11. Sometimes, less is more. Often, less is less.

  12. Symbols half-done are not symbols; they are talismans and witchcraft.

  13. One should not confuse habit with tradition.

  14. One should not confuse tradition with Tradition.

  15. “It has always been done this way” is either the exact reason to keep doing something, or the exact reason to stop doing it.

  16. “It’s never been done before” has a similar quality.

  17. Black is the new black. It is also the old black.

Comment on Random Thoughts on Liturgical Style.

Open Source for Sacred Music Infrastructure

In exploring the benefits of Open Source Sacred Music, the only reasonable model for comparison is, of course, Open Source software. While the analogy breaks down at some critical points (music is content, while software is a tool), I believe there is still much to be learned from the Open Source software movement, particularly in terms of commercial business practice and community involvement.

Keep reading Open Source for Sacred Music Infrastructure...

Free Like Coffee

Open Source Definitions Extension

Free like “free coffee”

This product was prepared at some unknown time in the past, for reasons which now seem inscrutable. It was pretty crappy to begin with, and has only gotten crappier through neglect. None of the needed accessories are available. However desperate you are for the benefits of the standard version of the product, you should not use this version under any circumstances. It would have been removed and thrown away if anybody responsible for its creation were still paying the slightest amount of attention to it. And anyway, who drinks coffee at this time of day?

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On Church History

Whene'er we look, with shaded eyes
at long-since follies, dead men's lies,
How simple yet the judgments be;
what ease put them to dispatch we.

Keep reading On Church History...

On Emptiness

“Nay, chiefly are we born to die,
it matters not” he says, and I,
though tempted, and like sailors drawn, to siren calls that bid them on,

I stay. Transfix’d by word,
so often read, so often heard,
my soul (must then it empty be?)
redoubles and re-sounds the sounds of Thee.

If emptiness be then my one defense
against seduction’s war on every sense,
remove from me, oh God, what fills my mind
that resonances there your Word may find.

And if my soul be empty, so my heart,
That it may sing the music of your Art.
My will, my life, my all be emptied too:
Libations poured out - nay, drawn out by You.

Comment on On Emptiness.

On Writing Poetry

I think that I shall try to write
a poem every day.
But I will not attempt to try
to write one every way.

Keep reading On Writing Poetry...

On Piano Practice

I sit at my so-called "piano" and try
to make my ten fingers act lively and spry

They pound and they gallop, run off on their own
they play the wrong rhythm, they play the wrong tone.

Keep reading On Piano Practice...

On the Organ

I'm not very good at the keyboard, I know...

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Prayer for the New English Translation of the Roman Missal

O Lord, who are the author of ever-living life, and the source of all wonder and mystery, bless, recognize, and approve these words, these clauses, these holy and undefiled enunciations, we humbly pray, both dependent and independent, which we offer you first of all on behalf of your Church, that by the anticipation of their conclusions, long forestalled by the mysterious work of your servants who, holding to the truth, handed them to us, and by the sincere searching for their venerable antecedents, we, though pitiable in our ignorance and darkened by the stain of sin, may come circuitously to the understanding of that enlightening grace by which you make your miraculous salvation known to all who speak, hear, and rightly understand the sacredness of these, your most holy and auspicious words.

Comment on Prayer for the New English Translation of the Roman Missal.

On Free Verse

Not for me, the free-verse verses,
curses. worse! those terse reverses.

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On Pragmatic Theologians

O practiced hand of theory, ever taking
paths that lead to "useful," even making
knowledge of divine like kit instructions
turning points of dogma into functions

Keep reading On Pragmatic Theologians...

On Raising Children

Reared and raised on Seuss, was I,
what form! what grace! oh me, oh my.

Keep reading On Raising Children...

On Trochees

Why do all these trochee poems
feel so primal, taste like rhythm?
Why the writer's forward motion
to the meter, just as given?

Keep reading On Trochees...