Archive for the ‘The Beatles’ Category

Dear Readers,

After writing more than 70 columns about films, faith and family, I’ve decided to take a break.

I would like to tell you that I am flying to New Zealand for a small part in Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit.”

But the simple truth is that I have a number of writing projects I would like to complete in the next twelve months. Discontinuing my monthly Reel Life Journeys column will free up the time I need for these new projects.

However, I did not make this decision quickly. Only after much thought and prayer did I see that this was the best road to take at this point in my writing career.

“My writing career”… I like the sound of that. I’ve always wanted to be a writer, and thanks in large part to the interest and support shared by Rick Musacchio and Andy Telli of The Tennessee Register, I have a great start.

Looking back over these past six years of writing this column, I learned a number of important lessons:

~ Writing is hard work. I can remember only a few magical moments when whole paragraphs flowed through my fingertips. For the most part, I wrote my 850-word columns after purposefully sitting down at my laptop many times to write.

The editors asked that I e-mail my column to them on the Tuesday before the newspaper is published on Friday. That means during the previous week I would ponder the column’s topic, what movie to feature and other quotes or song lyrics I could use to illustrate the topic.

The columns I like the most had a rough draft done by Sunday, extra quotes added by Monday and a final edit before e-mailing the text to Andy on Tuesday.

Unfortunately, too many of my columns, either through procrastination, family duties, my daytime job or other diversions (the Chicago Cubs, pizza, Notre Dame football) did not see a rough draft until Monday, some updates on Tuesday and a final edit early Wednesday morning. I know that most newspapers have a hard print deadline and I know it’s best to get things done sooner rather than later. I just hope I didn’t cause too many late nights for the TR staff.

~ Live each day to its fullest. Unless you are Phil Connors, the weatherman reporting from Puxsatawney, Pennsylvania in Groundhog Day, you can never repeat today. As many others have tweeted or posted on Facebook, today is a gift, that’s why it’s called the present.

~ Show respect to everyone. A simple school project of collecting one paper clip for every life lost during the Holocaust continues to teach valuable lessons of respect and tolerance to the students, parents and community of Whitwell, TN Middle School. We should remember that lesson and stop judging people because of their looks, their wealth (or lack thereof) or their religion and show them respect. We would all hope to receive the same.

~ There’s no crying in baseball.

~ Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering. As Master Yoda so eloquently states, fear is often the root of many evils. But when we sing John Michael Talbot’s lyrics “Be not afraid, I go before you always. Come follow me, and I will give you rest,” we know that our God is ever before us, guiding us in love.

~ Even the smallest person can change the course of the future. This theme from The Lord of the Rings is much more than supporting a three-foot, seven-inch hobbit on his quest to destroy the One Ring of Power. One individual, standing upon this rock in space we call Earth, is a minuscule part of the world’s population of 7 billion people. Yet that one individual, by his or her acts of kindness and love for other people, can start a chain reaction that will transform this world into a better place to live. You are just one person, but you have a very important role to play.

~ All you need is love.

~ The richness of life is not found in a large bank account. The first Reel Life Journeys column I wrote centered on the song “If I Were a Rich Man” sung by Tevye in The Fiddler on the Roof. In this column I imagined what I would do if I won the Powerball lottery. I realized that the things I wanted to do most (write, talk to Grandma more often, spend time with family and friends) were things I could do now without the winnings. Carpe diem!

So thank you, dear readers, for your interest and encouragement through the years. It has been a pleasure and an honor to write this monthly column. I may yet show up on these pages again in the future. “God only knows when we will see each other again,” Hodel says to her father Tevye before boarding the train to Siberia. “Then we will leave it in His hands,” he replies.

The von Trapp family said it best in The Sound of Music when they sang: “So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye.”


Christopher Fenoglio is grateful for the loving support of his wife and family, to whom these columns are dedicated.


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My feet pound the pavement, left, right, up, down, endless exertion just to burn a few calories. On the road, my head clears out the daily worries as prayers and ideas float to the top. Inside, my iPod plays my favorite playlist.

Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup. They slither while they pass, they slip across the universe.

The huge neighborhood hill looms above. Can I make it to the top? A straight line will be quickest if I don’t stop but it’s much too steep. Left, right, up, down, I serpentine the course, foot by foot, rising closer to the summit.

Pools of sorrow, waves of joy are drifting through my open mind, possessing and caressing me….nothing’s gonna change my world.

TV images replay in my mind. The candidates aspire, their words inspire, the confetti swirls around boys and girls, red or blue, red and blue. One way or another, historic changes are about to happen.

There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done. Nothing you can sing that can’t be sung. Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game. It’s easy…

The first time I watched Across the Universe, my mouth gaped open in amazement. Though set in America during the late 1960s and early 1970s, this is a film, not a documentary. It’s a musical, magical, lyrical love story that springs from the lyrics of great songs by The Beatles.

For us Baby Boomers, this is the soundtrack of our youth—music we heard when the raw, personal energy of changing from children to adults was amplified with sharp pains of lost innocence; when war and assassinations changed our nation and illuminated the certainty of our own mortality.

There’s nothing you can make that can’t be made. No one you can save that can’t be saved. Nothing you can do but you can learn how to be you in time. It’s easy…

Across the Universe is a love story between Jude, a ship builder from Liverpool who travels to America, and Lucy, a student-turned-activist who protests the Vietnam War in support of her brother Max, a recent draftee.

Along the way we meet Jojo, Sadie, Prudence, Mr. Kite and other characters who leap out of the songs onto the screen in full and living Technicolor. They are all instantly familiar, for parts of them live in each of us. They become immersed in the events and youthful culture of the 60s, but can’t escape the changes happening around them. They struggle with the physical and psychological horrors of war, both far away and close at home.

I look at the world and notice it’s turning, while my guitar gently weeps. With every mistake we must surely be learning, still my guitar gently weeps.

Slammed around by societal forces, they learn deeply that loss can strike at any time. They become separated by ambition, depression, jealousy, greed and pride. One loses a friend, another loses a lover; one loses his mind, another loses a home.

When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom, let it be.

Jude is forced to reflect on his painful, recent past, deciding who and what is most important in his life. But instead of hiding away on an island in his own corner of the world, he invites more change into his life, choosing to reach out and engage, to live and to love.

And anytime you feel the pain, hey Jude, refrain, don’t carry the world upon your shoulder. For well you know that it’s a fool who plays it cool by making the world a little colder.

When St. Paul wrote his letter to the Romans, his world was also experiencing incredible changes. The church was growing in Corinth, Ephesus and Thessalonica, though factions clashed over beliefs. He sent his letter, a literary epistle that outlines many of the universal truths and beliefs in his preaching, to friends as a way to introduce himself to the Romans.

In this weekend’s second reading (Rom 13:8-10), Paul writes that we should “owe nothing to anyone, except to love another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.”

It’s easy…All you need is love…all you need is love…all you need is love, love is all you need.

But love is more than a feeling or an attitude—it’s a choice, an action, a commitment—to ourselves, to our family and friends, to our nation and the people of this world.

As I finish my run, a new playlist starts, streaming songs from gospel rock band dc Talk. One of the songs stands out:

I don’t care what they say, I don’t care care what ya heard. The word love, love is a verb.

Imagine…if that song became the soundtrack of our lives today.


First published in the September 5, 2008 issue of The Tennessee Register.
© 2008 Christopher Fenoglio

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