Friday, July 30, 2021

My Favorite Musical: Jesus Christ Superstar

I love musicals!  But it took less than a nanosecond to decide which is my favorite:
Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's Jesus Christ Superstar. 
It's a musical, an album, and a movie.
Technically it is a rock opera because there are no spoken lines in the original version.  Washington Post  
The music is phenomenal, and it really speaks to me.

The story is loosely based on the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke)
and Bishop Fulton J. Sheen's Life of Christ,
which compares and calibrates all four Gospels.  Wikipedia
The dramatization covers  the last week of Christ's life
from his entry into Jerusalem to his crucifixion.
Its power and heart comes from its focus
on the relationships among Jesus, Judas and Mary Magdalene.

The Crucifix by Brunelleschi (1410-1415)
Gondi Chapel of Santa Maria Novella
Florence, Italy
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

The album was released in 1970, before the musical
because the producers couldn't get financial backing for the production.
Originally banned by the BBC as sacrilegious,
the album went on to sell over seven million worldwide by 1983.

Album Cover for the 1970American Release
of Jesus Christ Superstar

The musical was popular on Broadway, in London's West End Theatre,
and numerous stage productions around the world,
including the one I saw at Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia in 1971-72.
The musical had grossed more than $237 million worldwide by 1980,
and it held the record for the longest-running musical
at West End before it was passed by Cats in 1989.  Wikipedia

Premiere Evening in the Warehouse on the RDM Site
Netherlands, September 15, 2012

The BBC wasn't the only entity that considered Jesus Christ Superstar controversial.
Christians protested the suggestion that Jesus
and Mary Magdalene had a physical relationship
and that Judas was the center of the drama instead of Christ.
Jews worried that the scheming of Caiaphas and Herod
would revive the blaming of Jews for Christ's crucification.

I remember a frisson of insubordination as the curtain rose in University Hall.
After all, I came of age during the 1960s and was well-practiced in protest.
The musical featured Jesus as a revolutionary fighting against the establishment,
a theme that resonated with me and others of my generation.

I could relate to the agony of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane,
Mary Magdalene's confusion and heartache,
and the tortured mind and heart of Judas who loved yet betrayed Jesus.

Who could listen to "Damned for All Time" (Judas),
"I Don't Know How to Love Him" (Mary Magdalene),
"Gethsemane, I Only Want To Say" (Jesus), 
or "Everything's Alright" (Judas, Mary, and Jesus) and ever forget them?
Certainly not me!

I felt a powerful connection to Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and Judas 
as living people who questioned, doubted, and struggled as they must have in life.
Just as I have and do.
For the art connected to a favorite musical I combed through my photos of Italy.
I have feasted on glorious Christian art in magnificent churches
and museums in Venice, Padua, Siena, and Florence.
The richness, beauty, and vibrancy of Medieval and Renaissance art inspired by
Christian faith and passion is unparalleled for its abundance and splendor in Italy.

It's ridiculous to choose a few photos to share, but here goes,
starting with the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence. 

The Breathtaking Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore (left)
Giotto's Bell Tower (middle), and the Baptistery of St. John (right)
September 17, 2018
Florence, Italy
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

The climb to the top of the Florence Cathedral's dome is not for everyone.
It consists of 463 small, narrow, and steep steps, 
and leads to magnificent views of Florence and the surrounding area.
At the start of Brunelleschi's dome, you can step out onto the Listening Gallery
to see Giorgio Vasari’s fresco of the Last Judgment.
If you are not faint of heart, you can look down 130 feet to the transept.
The designs in the marble floor of the transept create an illusion of dropping down.

Looking Down the Nave Toward the Portale Maggiore
 (Major Portal or Entry) from 130 feet up
Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore
September 21, 2018
Florence, Italy
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

A Portion of Vasari‘s Fresco, The Last Judgment (1572-79), Depicting Hell
 It is located beneath the dome of the Florence Cathedral.
September 21, 2018
Santa Maria del Fiore, Florence, Italy
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

The Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, just east of the cathedral, contains 
a lovely polychromic terracotta of Mary Magdalene by Giovanni Bandini.

Mary Magdalene by Giovanni Bandini ca. 1565
Museo dell'Opera del Duomo
September 21, 2018
Florence, Italy
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

The Museo Nazionale del Bargello in Florence contains
perhaps my favorite Madonna and Child.
The painting is the central panel in the Carrand Triptych by Giovanni di Francesco.

The Bargello, formerly a Barracks and Prison
Now Museo Nazionale del Bargello
September 19, 2018
Florence, Italy
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

The Carrand Triptych by Giovanni di Francesco
Virgin and Child with SS Francis, John the Baptist, Nicholas and Peter
Date of work debated;  Giovanni di Francesco's life:  1412-1459.
Museo Nazionale del Bargello
September 19, 2018
Florence, Italy
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Closeup of the Virgin and Child
in the Carrand Triptych by Giovanni di Francesco
Museo Nazionale del Bargello
September 19, 2018
Florence, Italy
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

When you visit the churches and museums of Italy to see the religious art,
you quickly realize there are common events depicted over and over by incredible artists:  
the Annunciation, Madonna and Child, the Crucifixion, Christ in Heaven, 
and assorted wealthy patrons of the arts
looking for grace and redemption by supporting the artists.
Below are a few more of my favorite frescos and paintings.

Bearing of the Cross
Fresco by Andrea Bonaiuto 1366-67
The Spanish Chapel, 
Santa Maria Novella, Florence
Florence, Italy
September 17, 2018
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

The central portion of the painting The Dead Christ 
by Jacopo Robusti called Tintoretto (1592-1594) 
Senate Chamber in the Doge's Palace 
Venice, Italy.
September 17, 2018
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Mourning the Dead Christ by Giotto, ca 1305
The Scrovegni Chapel
Padua, Italy.
September 15, 2018
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Coronation of the Virgin
Upper Facade (completed between 1360 and 1370)
Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption
Siena, Italy
September 20, 2018
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

The Location of the Coronation of the Virgin
Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption
Siena, Italy
September 20, 2018
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

This post was part of my friend's Rain's Thursday's Art Date.

I hope all is well with each of you!

Till next time ~
Fundy Blue

On the Bay of Fundy
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved


1.  Steve Balsamo:

2.  Sara Bareilles & Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber:
     I Don’t Know How to Love Him

3.  Jesus Christ Superstar (1973):
       Damned For All Time

4.  Ben Forester, Melanie C, and Tim Minchin:
     Everything's Alright

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

"Laws of Nature" by Jacqui Murray


Today I am happy to participate in my friend
Jacqui Murray's Virtual Book Blast
for her new book Laws of Nature.

A boy blinded by fire. 
A woman raised by wolves. 
An avowed enemy offers help ...

I've been a fan of Jacqui's excellent prehistoric fiction since I read
Survival of the Fittest, the first novel in her Crossroads Trilogy.
It featured Xhosa, a female Homo erectus, who lived 850,000 years ago.
The novel was a great story filled with unforgettable characters in a wonderfully
recreated Pleistocene world grounded in careful research and scientific fact.

So I was very excited to delve into Jacqui's Dawn of Humanity Trilogy
with the release of the second book in the series:  Laws of Nature.
This novel is set deeper in time, 1.8 million years ago at the dawn of the Pleistocene.
It features another strong and determined female protagonist, Lucy, a Homo habilis.
She and her kind were the first of our own genus Homo.

Jacqui masterfully brings Lucy and her African world alive.
Everything is based on thorough research,
but it is the storyteller in Jacqui that makes this novel compelling.
Lucy, her fellow hominids, and the incredible animals of this time
will stay with you long after you finish the book.

As a host, I had the opportunity to ask Jacqui a couple of questions about her book:
1.  What is Lucy’s relationship with animals?
Lucy and her kind considered animals the alpha in their environs. They believed them like themselves—able to plan, make tools, and evaluate circumstances—and treated as respected equals, maybe even superior because of their strength and dominance. Because of this attitude, animals and man thrived together.

2.  Prehistoric fiction sounds boring. 
     (Said Louise never, but I was curious to see what Jacqui would say.)
Not at all. I used to call the Man vs. Nature trilogies “prehistoric thrillers” because the stories share many traits found in that genre—flawed super-heroes, death-defying events, a small group entrusted to save the world despite impossible circumstances. If you like thrillers, you’ll like these prehistoric fiction trilogies. The stories aren’t about grunting cavemen who beat their enemies with clubs. It’s about the evolution of what makes us human—culture, art, body adornments, religion, decision-making, problem-solving, and more. The trilogy, Dawn of Humanity, and this story specifically deal with the nascence of those characteristics. Without claws, sharp teeth, and thick skin, we relied on our developing big brains to outsmart enemies. That’s what I focus on.

And, unless you define “boring” as spending most of their daylight searching for food, fighting for their lives, and sleeping, their lives weren’t boring either. Those “needs”—the lowest in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs—consumed most of their time but not all. They possessed curious minds (which arguably, Boah’s pre-Homo genus and Ump’s proto-wolf kind lacked), asked questions, wondered why, and made decisions based on thoughtful consideration rather than instinct. Both Lucy’s and Xha’s kinds are hundreds of thousands of years from discovering the beauty of art, music, poetry, and abstract concepts but because their brains were evolving the ability to handle those advanced concepts, I show how some of them might have begun.

In this second of the Dawn of Humanity trilogy, the first trilogy in the Man vs. Nature saga, Lucy and her eclectic group escape the treacherous tribe that has been hunting them and find a safe haven in the famous Wonderwerk caves in South Africa. Though they don’t know it, they will be the oldest known occupation of caves by humans. They don’t have clothing, fire, or weapons, but the caves keep them warm and food is plentiful. But they can't stay, not with the rest of the tribe enslaved by an enemy. To free them requires not only the prodigious skills of Lucy's unique group--which includes a proto-wolf and a female raised by the pack--but others who have no reason to assist her and instinct tells Lucy she shouldn't trust.

Set 1.8 million years ago in Africa, Lucy and her tribe struggle against the harsh reality of a world ruled by nature, where predators stalk them and a violent new species of man threatens to destroy their world. Only by changing can they prevail. If you ever wondered how earliest man survived but couldn’t get through the academic discussions, this book is for you. Prepare to see this violent and beautiful world in a way you never imagined.

A perfect book for fans of Jean Auel and the Gears!

Wonderwerk Caves  See Citation Below

Book information:
Title and author: Laws of Nature
Series: Book 2 in the Dawn of Humanity series
Genre: Prehistoric fiction
Editor: The extraordinary Anneli Purchase
Available print or digital) at: Kindle US   Kindle UK   Kindle CA   Kindle AU  Kindle India

Author Bio: 
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular prehistoric fiction saga, Man vs. Nature which explores seminal events in man’s evolution one trilogy at a time. 

She is also the author of the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers and Building a Midshipman , the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. Her non-fiction includes over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, reviews as an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Natural Selection, Winter 2022.

Social Media contacts:
Amazon Author Page:  

Book trailer on You Tube:

If you're looking for a great summer read,
you can't go wrong with any of Jacqui Murray's books!

1.  For an excellent article on Wonderwerk Cave go to  

Citation for photo:
Horwitz, L.K., Chazan, M. Past and Present at Wonderwerk Cave (Northern Cape Province, South Africa). Afr Archaeol Rev 32, 595–612 (2015).

2.  I recommend that you read Born in a Treacherous Time first, followed by Laws of Nature.

3.  The Man vs Nature Series:  Jacqui Murray's Man vs Nature Series consists of three trilogies
that deal with pivotal points in the evolution of our species Homo sapiens.  At each of these points the human line could have gone extinct.

The first trilogy (1.8 million years ago), Dawn of Humanity, features Lucy in these books:
Book 1, Born in a Treacherous Time, is published. 
Book 2, Laws of Nature, is published.
Book 3, Natural Selection, is coming in Winter 2022.

The second trilogy (850,000 years ago), Crossroads, features Xhosa in these books:
Book 1, Survival of the Fittest is published. 
Book 2, The Quest for Home is published.
Book 3, Against All Odds is published.

The third trilogy (75,000 years ago), with the working title Savage Land, will feature Cro Magnon man,
and I'm waiting to see what develops!  Jacqui can't write fast enough for me!

Friday, July 23, 2021

A Favorite Decade and Lessons Learned

Last week I decided to participate in my friend Rain's
Rain's Thursday's Art Date for the first time.
I'm going to take part as often as I can,
and thank goodness the deadline extends well into Friday,
because it's well into Friday.
This week's prompt is Your Favorite Decade.

Can you pick a favorite decade?
My favorite is the 2020s.
Yes, pandemic and everything that goes with it.

I attribute this to Watson Kirkconnell.
I'm willing to bet that you're thinking
Watson Kirkconnell???

Maybe not my friend Debra at She Who Seeks
because Kirkconnell is a memorable and noteworthy Manitoban.

I met Kirkconnell sometime during my year as a grade eight student
at Wolfville High School in 1963-1964.
My parents had returned to their alma mater in the fall of 1963
to earn their education degrees, and Kirkconnell was the President of Acadia University.

Wolfville High School's Basketball Team
(I'm in the upper left)

My parents let me attend numerous university functions,
often on my own and even at night. 
At one of them I met Dr. Kirkconnell, likely when Teresa Stratas,
a famous Canadian-born operatic soprano, performed at Acadia that year.
Both Dr. Kirkconnell and Teresa Stratas were appointed Officers in the Order of Canada,
two of 7,212 people so honored (as of January, 2020).

Teresa Stratas
Watson Kirkconnell attended our Baptist church as well,
and I would often see him from my perch in the choir loft.

How about this for an illustrious career?
Kirkconnell was professor of English at Wesley College in Winnipeg from 1922 to 1930 
and head of the classics department there from 1930 to 1940.

He led the federal government’s “Nationalities Branch"
(which became the Citizenship Bureau) during the Second World War.

He headed the Humanities Research Council in 1943 and the Baptist Federation of Canada in 1944.

After a period at McMaster University, 
he was President of Acadia University from 1948 to 1964.

He wrote 40 books, 130 brochures, and 600 articles, as well as innumerable translations
from some of the 50 languages with which he was familiar.

And he was especially important for translating Ukrainian and Icelandic poets into English.  All information from Manitoba Historical Society

Watson Kirkconnell certainly made an impression on me,
so much so that I went to his 80th birthday celebration at Acadia in 1975.
On this occasion he said something I've never forgotten,
and it's the thing I remember him most for.

He said that every decade he lived was better than the one before
and that he was looking forward to his eighties as the best decade yet.

I thought at the time, in my mid-twenties, that that was how I wanted to live my life.
I wanted every decade I lived to be the best one yet.

Now I'm in my seventies, and I love this challenging decade.
By the time it's over, I'm sure it will be my best one yet.

I now recognize that each day is precious, because it could be my last.
I am not burdening myself with the drive to live each day as if it were my last.
That's exhausting and too much pressure.
Instead I'm savoring each day and appreciating what it gives me, good and bad.

Life has taught me some lessons over the decades, 
and these lessons fill my heart and bring me peace:

Being born is an improbable and miraculous gift.
Just by being born, I've won the biggest lottery ever.

Joining the Human Story
Myrtle Louise MacBeath
with her parents, Sara and Don MacBeath
Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Canada  March 1950
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Life is motion.
I wish this weren't true, but it is.  You have to keep moving physically, even when it's hard and hurts.  Whatever your physical condition, do something, move forward, and improve.

Never stop pursuing your dreams!
As long as you are alive, you are worthy of achieving your dreams, big or small.

Walk in another's shoes before you judge.
You never know what someone is going through.  Grant people empathy, compassion,
and understanding, especially if they're grumpy or rude.  Try not to judge.

You get out of life what you put into it.
My father's adage was "If it's worth doing, it's worth doing well."
This was not the best advice to a daughter who is a perfectionist, but he meant well.
I learned early on in courses that had poor teachers or professors
that what I got out of a course depended on what I put into it.
I've applied that lesson to many important things in my life.

Never stop learning!
We are privileged to live at a time when the world's knowledge is literally at our fingers,
and the volume of knowledge is exploding!
Curiosity, imagination, and chasing your passions enrich all phases of life.

My Mother
who taught me to read and to never stop learning.
Acadia University, Wolfville. Nova Scotia, Canada
Circa 1947
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Be generous!
My father always said, "If you can't afford the tip, you can't afford the restaurant."  
This is important throughout life, not just in restaurants.  
Be generous with tips, with charities, with little kids selling lemonade,
with firefighters holding out boots, with compliments, and with appreciation.

Forgiveness is good for the soul.
Forgive others for things they have done to you, and give forgiveness to those
who ask it of you.  Forgiveness is a powerful force and soothes your soul.

Smile, even when you don't feel like it.
Smiles are free and easy. They can lift another's spirits and your own,
so spread them around, to the little kindie with bows on her shoes,
to the hot and tired groundskeeper,
and to the invisible and overlooked elderly and disabled.

Value the work of others.
There is dignity and worth in every job, so value the contributions of everyone.
It's not the size of a paycheck that matters,
but rather contributing to the functioning and wellbeing of our society.

My Favorite Photo of My Father
who taught me the values of hard work and the dignity and value of all work.
St Peter's Bay, Prince Edward Island, Canada
Circa 1929
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Kindness is my favorite word.
Another adage of my father was, "You catch more flies with honey than vinegar." 
I've translated that into treating others with kindness, as I would like to be treated.

Be gentle and forgiving to yourself.
None of us is perfect.  We all make mistakes.  Most of the time we do the best we can.
So forgive yourself and treat yourself with the understanding
and compassion you would give others.

Laugh often and loudly.
Laughter makes just about everything better,
so find things that make you laugh and laugh freely.

Family is everything.
However you define "family," love each other, stand up for each other,
and don't let stupid things push you apart.
If you're lucky enough to have brothers and/or sisters,
love them and treasure them for they will be a constant throughout your life.

First Photo Together
Donnie, Barb, Me (Louise) with Bertie, and Roy with Gretchen
Smith's Cove, Nova Scotia, Canada
April 1959
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Most Recent Photo Together
Barb, Bertie, Roy, Me (Louise), and Donnie
Smith's Cove, Nova Scotia, Canada
August 7, 2019
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Don't be a gingerbread man.
It's easy to be a runner, to run from love, or challenges,
or confrontation, or opportunities.
Courage is the wiser course.  

See the humanity in those who are different from you.
People in our world are hurting, and the fear and hate of those
who appear different are making things worse.
We are one species, Homo sapiens.
We have far more in common that the superficial variations we see among us. 

Love is the greatest gift of all, and it comes in many forms,
from the soothing touch of a mother's hand,
to the rambunctious lick of a favorite dog, to the look in a lover's eyes.
I have been blessed with love throughout my life,
and my greatest love of all is my husband Terry.

Terry and I Enjoying Life
Vegas, Nevada, USA
April 4, 2021
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Thursday Art Date?
My main form of creativity is writing, and today I'm sharing writing.

I hope all is well with each of you!

Till next time ~
Fundy Blue

On the Bay of Fundy
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved