Jazz Bagpiper Rufus Harley: A man who really did go his own way

The Men Going Their Own Way “movement,” such as it is, has got to be one of the most ridiculous offshoots of the Men’s Rights movement, a haven for misogynistic manbabies who don’t even have the guts or the imagination to actually carve out their own paths in the world. In other words, most so-called Men Going Their Own Way aren’t. Most of them seem to be going nowhere at all.

So today I present you a man who truly did go his own way: Jazz bagpiper Rufus Harley, who played a kind of music that was truly his own. (The folks on I’ve Got a Secret certainly couldn’t figure him out.) He also seems to have been a pretty decent guy, to boot.

There’s a bunch more of his music on YouTube if you care to have a look, along with this interesting profile/self-portrait. Check out his take on Sunny, which is unlike any version of the song you’re ever heard.

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8 years ago

I should clarify about the Love Joy Feminism blog – if you want to see her dissect patriarchal culture go to her sections on Quiverfull and Patriarchy. In other places she also discusses secular feminist issues (her most recent post is on Gamer Gate and nerd culture) and things taught by fundies/evangelicals. The latter is very much from an atheist perspective but she asks good questions.

8 years ago

I am not a Christian. I was brought up as a Unitarian, a “church” where you can believe anything you want, but you are not SUPPOSED to believe in the divinity of Jesus. Then I lurched into atheism, then drifted back into agnosticism. But I would have to be much denser than I like to think I am not to accept that Christianity has been and is a major force in our western culture.
The main problem is that the Bible, and therefore Christianity, are products of a time and a region where patriarchy was very strong. Then in the early days of the Christian church leadership passed to St. Paul, who was severely misogynistic and also founded the strain of ascetic hatred of the flesh and everything associated with it (e.g., sex). (I always find it hard to believe that the same man wrote “I do not suffer a woman to teach” and I Corinthians 13, and many scholars believe that some of “Paul’s epistles” were written by others in his name. It might be helpful to think of Paul as leader of a school of thought rather than an isolated individual.)
I have always thought that the Virgin Birth myth was originally intended to establish Jesus in the tradition of pagan heroes who were mythically fathered by Zeus/Jupiter et al. (Nobody at that time knew about the sperm and egg, and the father was thought to be the sole source of a child’s heredity.) The growth of the cult of Mary and the flesh-hating views of many early Christian leaders then deflected the myth toward virginity = purity = a view of sex as sinful which led to the prudery and gross overvaluing of virginity in women which still has considerable influence today.
The gospels, obviously, were written after Jesus’ death, but how long after is a matter of hot controversy. Many scholars believe that all four were based on an earlier gospel which is now lost. People who want to believe in the authenticity of the gospels (without depending on pure faith) tend to place the dates of composition earlier, so that the gospel writers might actually have witnessed some of the events, and there would have been less time for oral traditions to work their inevitable modification. (Think of what, for example, our versions of John Kennedy’s speeches — or perhaps Winston Churchill’s or FDR’s — might be like if we had nothing but oral tradition — repetition with constant minor changes by hundreds of people.) I believe that whenever they were written and whatever sources their writers used, the gospels inevitably incorporated the biases and theological agendas of their authors.
I myself like to think that Jesus was something of a radical feminist by the standards of his time. There is evidence to suggest that Mary Magdalene may have actually been one of his most important followers, perhaps even a chief assistant, which is why the later misogynistic church found it necessary to slime her reputation. (I think she was probably not his wife — sorry Dan Brown — though it’s not impossible; she is the only person that all four gospels agree was the first to witness Jesus’ resurrection, either alone or with a group of women.) Was Jesus a virgin? I severely doubt it. Was he married? Possibly — his parents would probably have been disappointed if not ashamed if he hadn’t been. On the other hand, he was one of a type of man — itinerant, charismatic — who generally make poor husbands (poor providers, never at home) but tend to be very attractive to woman, such that there would have been plenty of lonely widows who would be willing to offer him a more intimate solace than merely a hot meal and a place to sleep. Paul’s influence was very strong in the decades right after Jesus’ death, and the prevalence of his anti-sex views would have caused any gospel writer who wanted to stay in the good graces of the powers-that-be — assuming for a moment that he himself did not share those views — would have prudently have avoided including any parts of the existing legend of Jesus that indicated he had a taste for the pleasures of the flesh.
There are also many indications left that Jesus was unusually sympathetic to women by the standards of his time. His response to the woman taken in adultery — go and sin no more — is one. His strictures against divorce were also strongly pro-woman, as at that time a man could divorce his wife at will, leaving her destitute and without recourse. (Not very strong in defending the sanctity and prerogatives of the patriarchal family.) And you could easily find others.

tl;dr: Jesus may not have been what patriarchal churches want you to think he was.

8 years ago

Jay, that reminds me of a story of my mother’s.

A bagpiper in full regalia was the musical start to a medical meeting in a little conference room of the hospital with a divider between the two halves. On the other side of the divider, another meeting was happening.

The bagpiper marched in at the start. Then, he played all four verses of Amazing Grace, and brought the meeting on the other side of the divider to a screeching halt.

The keynote speaker’s first words after he marched out:

“Where I come from, we don’t do that to ducks.”

(He was from Barrow)

8 years ago

Thanks, Sunnysombrera. I’ve read some of Love, Joy, Feminism and enjoyed it. I should read more. I haven’t heard of the others before; those will be good to look into.

8 years ago

Love Joy Feminism is interesting. It always saddens me that children have to battle their way out of a totalitarian oppression like that, but at least some of them come out stronger.

kittehserf - MOD
8 years ago

No thread about bagpipes is complete without the Unipiper.

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