Wednesday, December 30, 2009

How Open Source Projects Survive Poisonous People

HT: Raymond Jones

See also:

Of course it opens a door to it anyway!

"Contemplate the Emptiness" Jimmy A

Amazing song and lyrics, great guest vocals by Vicki Hampton and incredible drums by "A- Train": himself, Aaron Smith..


What do you do when the night falls hard on you
And you're all alone
And the TV set's on and the light that it brings
Is the only light shining on you
And the voice in that box
Is the only thing that talks
To comfort your soul

Contemplate the emptiness, my friend
Contemplate the emptiness, my friend

What do you do when the last drink is gone
And the smoke burns your eyes
And the thrill has worn off and your friends have gone home
And you're coming down
And all that is left is to pick up the glasses
And empty the ashes

Contemplate the emptiness, my friend
Contemplate the emptiness, my friend

What do you do when she walks out on you
And you're holding the tab
And you say "What about all those promises we made
What about them?" and she says
"Didn't you know there's no such thing as promises here"

Contemplate the emptiness, my friend
Contemplate the emptiness, my friend
Contemplate the emptiness, my friend
Contemplate the emptiness, my friend

Do you remember riding that greyhound
Across that grey town
And thinking this isn't it. Like a voice saying
"There's something more" Like Jesus whispering to you
He was whispering to you...whispering to you

"Love the sinner, hate your own sin" -Campolo

"... In this video, (7 minute mark)Burke and Marin talk about sin. It’s a politically divisive word, and might seem to give us permission to discount or disconnect with people who we call sinners. But Marin (quoting Campolo) says, Jesus never said, 'Love the sinner, hate the sin.' What Jesus says is, 'Love the sinner, and hate your own sin.' (But isn’t it always easier to fix someone else’s speck that work on our own log!)..."
-from article accompanying this clip
, found here

Monday, December 28, 2009

evangelical pornography or ideational ergative paraenesis

(image credit)

It's not the "evangelical pornography" of "Left Behind.'
(and hopefully you know who the Bible says will really be left behind)..

It will never make it on TBN..even if the writer turns out to be on crack.

And it is not for the casual fan, as Peter Wilkinson almost jokes here:

"requires an active brain, a working knowledge of NT Greek, and a dictionary which contains the definition of words like ‘ideational’, ‘ergative’, ‘paraenesis’, ‘anaphoric’ etc" link

But Wilkinson is right:

Gustavo Martin has, to my mind, made an important contribution in support of the case that the Olivet discourse has two horizons of understanding: the destruction of the temple in AD 70, and a more distant parousia of Jesus which has yet to occur. It’s also a fascinating piece of scholarship.

So here it is...have fun:

If that was too heavy...start here with Rob Bell, below..he might be equally heavy in a way, but no sightings of a ‘ideational’, ‘ergative’, or ‘paraenesis'...though the heresy hunters will have a field day with the title quote alone:

substance, passion, commentary...or death cult shtick and tragic hipness

Robert Hillman: I have no idea where music is going and I have even less idea what rock’s role will be in that music. At present in America, rock ‘n’ roll has become very much a minority sound. There are many great young bands, such as Arcade Fire, but they only speak to a small fraction of the music world because most of the media and audience are caught up in what I’d call the American Idol/Celebrity complex. American Idol may be entertaining television, but it has been horrible for the health of pop music because it is not producing great, revolutionary talents. It is producing very limited, mostly mediocre artists and those artists are dominating the charts. A friend of mine, who is head of one of the most powerful record labels in America, said the music industry comes up with about four “breakthrough” acts a year and, for various reasons, three of those acts are going to be American Idol related because radio plays those acts and media writes about them. If Bruce Springsteen came along today, the executive continued, he doesn’t know what he could do with him because there’s no window of opportunity for that kind of artist. I worry that he could have said the same thing about U2. Until the mass music audience starts demanding substance and passion and commentary again, pop music — in terms of mass social impacts — seems like it is very marginal.

Bonus: Bono's intro to Hillburn's new book:

I’m not sure Robert Hilburn exists. I know he is not human. He might be a ministering angel or some kind of specter... he is certainly an enigma. Bob doesn’t drink or smoke, and his quiet conversation is the antithesis of the noisy messy rock and roll music he loves. He is the silent man on the other side of the “wall of sound”. His is the clarity that the chaos of creativity is always attracted to.

His column in the Los Angeles Times put the fear of God into rebels of the lowest common denominator but, encouraged faith from wild iconoclasts. High priests of schlock and roll withered rather than weathered the quietest storm that ever blew into town. Without ever being pious or elitist, he has the Levitical/Jesuitical energy of a keeper of the flame. So many of the artists he loved and detailed were consumed by the fire. It reinforced in Bob a reverence for the life force in rock - its truth telling vitality rather than its corny mythologies, its death cult shtick or its tragic it all

Sunday, December 27, 2009

the only thing God does

I have always gotten a kick out of the Delirious line (in "My Glorious"),
"all You ever do is change the old to new."

One thinks, "Is that ALL God does?"
Well, maybe everything he ever does is somehow filed under that heading.

And then there's U2's "I found grace, it's all I found" (in "Breathe")

One thinks, "Is that ALL?"

Well, yes.
And it's more than we deserve, and more than enough.
And any gift from God is filed under grace.
It's all he's got to give, he can do no other.

All God does, and can do, is convert old to new, and give grace.
Which is the same thing.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Busking for Dollars

I had to look up the Britishism "busking" when I saw Matt's post that Bono and Glen Hansard (of the Frames)...two of my favorite singers..were caught on video doing it in the streets at Christmastime.

Of course, having recently returned from San Francisco, I have seen plenty of busking..
and check out our friend Vincent hard at it...or maybe just posing for his album cover.
Buy his CD, or he may have to busk.
Stop him before he busks again!!
Don't wanna hear he became a serial busker.

The Irish boys were busking for charity of course..for the Dublin Simon Community, a group that works to prevent homelessness and aid the homeless.

Vincent would have known all the lyrics.
Of course the real news may be that Bono got his voice back over Christmas vacation, See:1:16-1:30 in 2nd clip.. More of the story here.

I didn't buy cigarettes at Berean, but I did find this..

What an amazing day at Berean Christian Stores. The chain is under new management, and for the first time I am aware of since 1984, they are stocking...U2!!

I even snapped a quick stealth photo of the remastered "Joshua Tree" CD on the rack, flanked on both sides by a Chris Tomlin CD...but I was afraid some kind of alarm would go off (:

I remember they stocked "War" when it was new.

But the story about the last time I spotted U2 at Berean is hilarious:

The last time I remember seeing a U2 record in a Christian store was so long ago that it WAS literally a record (the "Wide in America" EP, an import version), and the price tag was strategically placed over the cigarette hanging out of Adam’s mouth!
-LINK, "Is there such a thing as Christian music?"

But on this same trip to Berean...and even more controversial to some, I was able to buy (on the cut-out rack, of course...shhh, don't tell Jesus! What will they sell next!? See last year's post,"Lifehouse skit, and cigarettes on sale at Berean Christian Store") "Brothers/Sisters," the much-acclaimed (everywhere but in Christian circles! (See the amazon reviews, for example) 2006 release by MewithoutYou.

Some are wondering, "Are they a Christian band?"

Even though the only real answer to that question is "no,"
whether it's Gaithers or King's X (the only thing that can be "Christian" is a non-thing: a person)....

The enigmatic and autistic (or ADD, depending on who you ask)lead singer, who spent some time living in inner city Philly with Shane Claiborne's intentional, incarnational, missional community, The Simple Way (he talks about it in the video here) answers this way:
"It’s not like I’m offended if someone says we’re a Christian band. I just don’t think it’s true. I don’t think we live up to that calling, so I’d be reluctant to go saying that."
link, the Wikipedia page on the band
Wonder what he'd think if he knew his Cds were at Berean (Probably wouldn't be as colorful a response as was Ben Moody on finding out Evanesence was in Christian stores)...if he has heard of Berean. (:

But isn't it amazing to find lyrics liken this at Berean?:

"I'm still (...eeeh, technically) a virgin after 27 years/which has never bothered me before/what's maybe 50 more" (from "C Minor")

The music and vibe?

Fascinating. Much better than "Gaithers and Benny Hinn on crack." (Though some might place them in that league").

If you like the Psalters (who have played with them), 16 Horsepower/Woven Hand, The Danielson, The Flaming Lips, the Pixies, or Arcade Fire, you might like them...

Or not.

Suffice to say they are from Philly, not Kansas.
I don't know if I'll ever acclimate fully to them.

Maybe that would be a bad thing anyway (:

A few article excerpts..

Note the unapologetic assumption of the first sentence in this one (it would never appear in an openly Christian magazine):

An openly Christian band that frequently tackles religious themes, mewithoutYou has also accomplished the rare feat of creating music that transcends religious and social boundaries..
The Weiss brothers -- vocalist Aaron Weiss and guitarist Mike Weiss -- were raised in a Sufi Islamic household with a mother who had converted from Christianity and a father who had converted from Judaism. As a result, they were well-versed in multiple religions from an early age, and the influence has played a part in their lives as well as their music. The band members are indubitably Christian and believe that Jesus Christ leads the path to God; nonetheless, this disc heavily explores the idea that perhaps all of the world's religions
hold significance -- that perhaps all can lead to one coming face-to-face with an ultimate truth or higher power...
"Whenever you point a finger at somebody else, saying [he] is not a true Christian because [he] has a song called "Allah, Allah, Allah," on [his] record, you have three fingers pointing back at you. If you want to bring Christianity and Jesus into it, I don't think Jesus would ever put somebody on the chopping block for writing a song like that, honestly," Weiss states. "[The record is] meant to do nothing but glorify our Creator." Even with their faith in Christianity, though, mewithoutYou is really just a rock band when it comes down to it...

"I don't think we're up there putting on a ministry. We're not up there trying to come to your city to have church," says Weiss. "We're trying to be a band and are expressing ourselves as artists. That's what every band does."
-Redefine magazine
How about this:

SING TO THE LORD A NEW SONG: Swami-like and pedagogical in skullcap, glasses, corduroy blazer, and striped tie, with the first Beatitude (“Blessed are the poor in spirit…”) tattooed on his wrists, Aaron Weiss steps into the street after his band’s sound check and is promptly cornered by a young man wearing a homemade Aaron Weiss T-shirt. The young man has questions, questions; Weiss nods, smiles, radiates. The world is looking very worldly this evening, in Philadelphia’s Chinatown—the dazed conventioneers issuing from the nearby 1,400-room Marriott; the seamed faces of the homeless—but here outside the Trocadero Theatre, we’re running a slight spiritual temperature. Local theophile band mewithoutYou is playing a sold-out show, and the air holds the possibility that the kingdom of God, if it doesn’t descend to Earth tonight, will at least lower itself by a couple of inches....

Or this from MTV:

>Mewithoutyou: Not Your Average Christian, Vegetable-Oil-Fueled, Flower-Flinging Rockers:Philadelphia band's eccentricity has worked in its favor.

See their MySpace for more.

Ryan's Top Ten...and an Irish Steak or two

A top ten albums list from Ryan (The Living Room) is always worth checking out.
You'll likely discover a new favorite...

Here you go, in a post from a five-degree day in the Netherlands, which of course finds him grilling steaks outdoors:

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

dark and murderous, one-horned, brokenhearted joy

As much as I love the more direct and unabashed worship of U2 2000s,
I still love/often prefer the irony and twists of the 90s..

And I do love Zoo Tv more than TBN..though it's a tough call which is more ironic and zooworthy..

I have always appreciated Beth's classic quote:

[1990s U2 was] marked by depicting and lamenting humanity's shadow side...including their own shadow side....(This was) misunderstood by observers, I'm afraid particularly by Christian observers, who bring to that art the naive thought that any artist who writes about sin must be in favor of it."
Link, audio

And now her new post: of several reasons I've been hesitant to describe the 360 tour as having succeeded as well as previous tours in being real leitourgia. ..

his mode is, I think, not as honest, not as successful and certainly not as liturgical as the way U2 have previously done it, which is to take the audience to a dark place of injustice/sin and then bring them out. Liturgical theologian Aidan Kavanagh writes of how in order to arrive at the Banquet of the Lamb, humans first need to face into a "dark and murderous transaction with reality... because we are a bloody bunch who have made the world a bloody place both for ourselves and for every other creature we have named." There wasn't much darkness in the 360 Tour, and when you don't see your face reflected in an inarguable darkness where we're all implicated, you're perhaps not as likely to transact with reality, and therefore also not as likely to take responsibility afterwards -- not as likely to be forced to make, as Kavanagh puts it, "an adjustment to deep change caused in the assembly by its having been brought to the brink of chaos in the presence of the living God...

"Because I'm the pastor. that's why"

more shifty envelopes

Still working on pushing envelopes (and "pushing towards the unobvious," as usual) re:

epistemology, emergence, and shift in wineskins..

I was glad to recently find this, in an article on panentheism:
Describes the process involved in supervenience. Emergence occurs when a new property arises out of a combination of elements. The traditional example is that water emerges out of the combination of oxygen and hydrogen atoms in certain proportions. There are a variety of types of emergence that have been identified. In part-whole emergence, the whole is more than the total of all the parts (Corning 2002). Strong emergence understands evolution to produce new and ontologically distinct levels characterized by their own laws or regularities and causal forces. Weak emergence holds that the new level follows the fundamental causal processes of physics (Clayton 2004, 9). Strong emergence is also known as ontological emergence and weak as epistemological emergence.

The research on panentheism was a follow-up on noting that Falk (p. 198) portrays Einstein's Godview as being "roughly" pantheism, when actually the rough connection be might more helpfully be coined "panentheism," (depends on how much personal God one reads between the lines in Einstein..I am guessing more than most see)....drives me nuts when folks confuse the latter with the former. (Check out the proposed term "poly-panentheist" (:...)

Wondering if our current epistemological shift is in sync with

  • missiological shift,
  • old>new wineskin shift and
  • pan to panentheistic shift..

Guess it will pan out in the end...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

our interview with Shane Claiborne : "doctrines are hard things to love"

Here below is the unedited audio (meaning we didn't have to bleep out his word "ass," the amazing question Jeff Bryant requested...and you get a little extra over the broadcast half hour) of the interview Keltic Ken and I had with Shane Claiborne, mostly about the new ledaership (and followership)book he wrote with John Perkins, "Follow Me to Freedom"
...though he wasn't hard to get going on several topics! One of my favorite lines of the day was "doctrines are hard things to love":

Click here to play
NOTE: If the player above is not visible or not working, use one of the following to hear:
Other Shane posts, click his name below.

"To be like Jesus, we need Jesus himself"

Amazingly, I have not read many interpretations of U2's "When You Look at the World" that will even admit that the song only ultimately makes sense as a the "you" is "You" (Jesus)...
(Almost everyone says it is his wife).

And I am not sure I have read any that get what I have always maintained is obvious:
the "I try to be like you...but without you it's no use" is basic, profound gospel...
Until Beth, of course:

...Naturally, we strive to emulate anyone we admire that deeply: "So I try to be like you, try to feel it like you do." But the singer's prayer reveals a discovery that he can't, that his efforts are "no use... without you." To be like Jesus, we need Jesus himself. Only by letting God graft us into the Union he embodies can we find the fruit of that Union manifest in us.
-Beth Maynard, U2Sermons

When You look at the world
What is it that You see
People find all kinds of things
That bring them to their knees
I see an expression
So clear and so true
That changes the atmosphere
When You walk into the room

So I try to be like You
Try to feel it like You do
But without You it's no use
I can't see what You see
When I look at the world

When the night is someone elses
And you're trying to get some sleep
When your thoughts are too expensive
To ever want to keep
When there's all kinds of chaos
And everyone is walking lame
You don't even blink now, do you
Or even look away

So I try to be like You
Try to feel it like You do
But without You it's no use
I can't see what You see
When I look at the world

I can't wait any longer
I can't wait till I'm stronger
I can't wait any longer
To see what you see
When I look at the world

I'm in the waiting room
Can't see for the smoke
I think of You and Your holy book
While the rest of us choke
Tell me, tell me, what do You see
Tell me, tell me, what's wrong with me

Rare live version snippet:

bigger than the boogeyman's laws

GodPreview Law?

In the same way that

>Stephen Hawking, much like Einstein, "explained that he does not believe in God, unless one defines God as the embodiment of the laws of physics." (Dan Falk, "Universe on a T Shirt," p. 201)


>Hegel believed in God, but only as the emdodiment of ( embededness with, and outgrowth of) the laws of history/dialectic/synthesis..

>>....could it be that some who name the name Jew..or Christian..only believe in God as the embodiment of the law period (or Torah).

Jesus broke the law ...and the laws of the law (i coined this phrase, meaning "the way the laws have been interpreted as working," but was glad to find the phrase used re: science here) in order the keep the spirit of the law, and in order to show us that God is bigger than any law, and thus unlike the gods of the above thinkers, personal..and as the great theologian Jr. Asparagus taught us in this classic video, far bigger than the boogeyman, which inevitably means transcendent and immanent and " watching over you and me" well as watching over the laws of physics, history etc.

Silverchair: "I'm watching You watch over me...and I've got the greatest view from here":

Monday, December 21, 2009

McLaren on critics

Brian McLaren on responding to aggressive critics and heresy hunters... and our greatest enemy: 4 minute mark:

"It's better to be drunk on the Holy Spirit but sometimes Jack Daniels is handier"

"It's better to be drunk on the Holy Spirit but sometimes Jack Daniels is handier"
-Bono, 1989

Friday, December 18, 2009

African and Trinitarian connections to an agape-shaped epistemology

The spy who doubles as an architect loaned me a book ("The Human Condition: Christian Perspectives Through African Eyes" by Joe M. Kapolyo) which connects some dots on the epistemology of love posts of late.......and I love it when the dots connect all the way to Africa, and to the Social Trinity (two other hot topics of late):

Note, in this same chapter (pp 76-77) Kapolyo (photo at left)helpfully aids us in unlearning a lot of what we'd been taught (especially post 1960, with publication of CS Lewis' "The Four Loves") about the key Greek terms for love and their semantic domain.

Between stewardship and love--those two relational attributes of what it means to be made in the image of God--love, it seems to me, the more significant as we seek to represent God here on earth...This is true of God, who experiences true love within the Godhead, the Trinity: the Father, Son and Holy Spirit enjoy true love...human beings made in God's image must seek to demonstrate the same love evident within the Trinity.. African experience of family life and love is very rich. The establishment of a blood connection, however remote, often turns initial suspicion and even hostility into love and ambrace.. ..Such all-encompassing love will break the bounds of clannishness, tribalism, racism, superiority complexes and so on. It will reach out to every human being, thus making us all more and more what God intended us to be -"The Human Condition: Christian Perspectives Through African Eyes" by Joe M. Kapolyo, pp 79-80

Related.. re: Africa, love, temple tantrums, and can you not watch 4:10ff here:

Elevation leads to Vertigo 2.0

I wasn't too freaked out about living ten days in the seventh highest city in the world.

I wasn't too concerned about elevation or vertigo.

I wasn't prepared for the bus trip into the highest elevation and vicious vertigo that accompanied it.

But Elevation and Vertigo got me through.

I didn't even catch the prophetic
significance of the songs on my headphones; I was simply listening to U2...the first single of "Dismantle" CD, "Vertigo," had just come out, so the six hour bus ride up the Andes was the perfect time to splice it into my playlist and acculturate myself to "Vertigo" (while I simultaneously experienced it)..

So "Vertigo" soundtracked my trip.
U2 on headphones was much to be preferred to what was on the bus speakers (5:50ff in this video, and see/hear especially the crazy repetitive bit from 6:07-6:19 below, it must have played for two hours!!...I can still hear it all these years later. ARRGHH. It was worse than Gaithers on Crack!!...If you view carefully through 6:22, you'll see how we unwound from all this!...BTW, all the videos from this trip are here)

The elevation didn't bother me..
until about 14,ooo feet.

The vertigo (AKA
soroche/AKA altitude sickness/ AKA "gringos sickness") didn't bother me..
until about 15,ooo feet.

That's another story..

In fact, here it is now.

Since I will soon need to reformat an ancient (2004) blog post, salvaging it and patching it up
(I didn't know how to format then and YouTube didn't even exist yet..imagine that!) about this Peru U2 adventure, I will start by reposting part of it here.. That might remind me to work on it


This chapter may feel like it spends an inordinate amount of time on "Elevation," and U2’s overall place in the church/culture mix, for what claims to be a writing focusing on the new "Bomb" CD. The last three chapters will focus more on the new CD, and even include a "review", but integral to my first thesis is that a short course in "Elevation" is prerequisite and integral to an informed understanding the new material, and maybe even life itself! So let’s
visit this background…by way of South America. I congratulated myself on remembering to pocket the airsick bag from the plane. I recalled how Bono had scrawled early versions of lyrics on airsick bags as lyrics came to mind; but my mission in shoplifting the bag was more basic and less profound
It all happened on a bus in Peru; where I (literally) lost my lunch, but found the revelation I was looking for. And I mean in that very act of elevated (literally…high altitude) lunch-losing (literally…regurgitation, OK?) , the vertigo; the sickness; and the revelation hit. It just spilled out..uh, the revelation, I mean. I didn’t write it on the bag, but from that point on, it would be written on my pysche. The revelation, albeit in a reductionistic nutshell, is this: ELEVATION LEADS TO VERTIGO.

"Big fat atomic deal, Captain!," I hear the fans say. "Anyone with a bonehead background in U2 knows that!" (For any souls sans that basic background, here’s the connect: The keynote song/concert-opener of U2’s previous CD/tour was called "Elevation"; the keynote song /concert-opener of their new CD/tour is a called "Vertigo." Thus: Elevation came first; then vertigo. And the new CD, as the second release in a row hallmarked by a "return to roots" vibe and value, has widely been recognized as "All That You Can’t Leave Behind"’s sequel and successor not just chronologically but logically speaking)
But, hang on; I’m not even talking U2…at least not directly…at least not officially…not yet. And though this is indeed a theological commentary on U2’s possible fourth masterpiece, "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb," let’s join the bus ride, and pursue this first thesis.

Winding roads and grinding gears, both heroically maneuvered by a much prayed-for Peruvian bus driver led me to (against my will) contemplate the theory, and road-test the reality, of my twin theologies of elevation and vertigo. Having braved an eight-hour bus ride up to the huge and holy heights of the Andes mountains, on a ruthless road with no name, I am a living (barely!) witness to the simple but profound fact that, as I previously and pretentiously proffered, "elevation leads to vertigo."

"Donde esta?, " I would often ask myself in English, or my Spanish-speaking bus-mates in Spanish, as I prayerfully and carefully poked my head out of slumber and sweater while on this breakneck bus ride.
Occasionally I would peek out the window, just to
tell myself I was man enough to do it, or to get some sense of where we were; I would catch a glimpse of the railroad tracks that sometimes paralleled (That’s the wrong word….no straight lines in sight) our road; the tracks belonged to the famed "Ferrocarril", the highest railroad on the planet. (Note: we pass it on 6:02 in the video above)I thanked God that at least I wasn’t on that train, but I still didn’t know the answer to my haunting question: "Where in the Peru are we?" Inevitably the answer was an annoying rerun of the previous hour’s: "Climbing even higher up the Andes, dude. We have the oxygen and alcohol ready if you need it." (Seriously, every bus or train that dares to elevate itself up the high[literal]way from Lima to Huancayo, boasts an onboard medical kit well-stocked with the only two cures outside of drastic divine intervention that soothe the sickening physical effects of travelling the high and winding road: oxygen and alcohol…and to clarify, the alcohol is to smell, not to drink; though I’m sure more than one pilgrim has been lead… despite repeated and retentive recitations of the Lord’s Prayer… into the latter temptation).


I think it hit me at about fourteen thousand feet. We had started at a kind and cozy 411 foot elevation in Lima, and before we knew it, we were seeing signs in Spanish announcing elevation, counting the height in thousands: "Uno"("one"), came the first sign, but no sweat or sickness yet at 1000 feet; then around the curve, a "dos"("two") sign, a "tres" ("three")…and then it seemed, out of nowhere and out of sequence, to appear: a sign that with Latinamerican machismo and matter-of-factness, numbered the feet at "catorce" (fourteen!) thousand feet! Unless you count some "don’t want to go there" drug-induced trips, never had I been elevated so high so fast. What came over me was what the locals call "soroche", or sometimes with a well-meaning wink, "the gringo sickness." Being an involuntarily but now inveterately sick gringo myself, I called it lots of ungracious things as I was ungraced by it. The medical textbooks coin it "vertigo," a term that has suddenly lept out of dusty textbooks and invaded the living rooms of much of the world via a relentless and repentless IPOD commercial

featuring an Irish-looking silhouette of the biggest rock star on the planet dancing himself dizzy while confessing with reckless and pulsating abandon that the place he’s at (and U2 are at) is so elevated and exhilirating; yet so damning and dizzying, that it just might be Vertigo on earth. Since this very commercial commercial has so sufficiently saturated society, my greatest fear is that citizens are so prematurely sick of the word and song "Vertigo" that another spin of the tune..or the prospect of my spin on it will ironically invoke fullblown vertigo itself…

So, let’s pause, take a break and breath (you’ll need it before rejoining the ride), and define our terms, just to be sure we are on the same page and planet here. A dictionary definition of "elevation" is so elementary as to not need spelling out; but just to be sure the significant spiritual application of this term is highlighted; let’s take our time to work out this definition with fear and trembling; for I maintain that "Vertigo" (and the CD it kickstarts) cannot be fully tasted without the backdrop of its next older brother. So we are about to spend some time in the elevator; stay with us. After we define "elevation" at some depth (pun intended); we’ll define "vertigo" until you’re dizzy enough to kneel.


All right, let’s get to the elevation of "Elevation, " because as you will recall, it’s the only path up to Vertigo (I promise we’ll get there!) . To my amazement and delight, I stumbled upon a stunningly insightful commentary on U2’s song (and therefore prayer about, and theology of) "Elevation." I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised, as theological analysis of U2 is all over the world and web. (Even as scholarly papers at the business meetings of the "I guess they’re not so square and stodgy after all" Evangelical Theological Society…Baptist PhD’s contemplating the theological catalog of Bono!) . But this particular piece grasped and grappled so well with what U2 are (in Bono’s phrase) "on about" in "Elevation, " and in general, I cannot anymore hear or pray the song without this review at hand. It has rocked my world, theology and prayer life. I had always intuitively felt the song was about, indeed was, prayer. But to definitively second that motion it took these words, which should be read slowly, and with "Elevation" playing softly (!) in the background:

...For the chasid, prayer is not something one recites, it is rather an exercise that one performs, or an
experience that one enters into.... There is no room for inhibition...singing and dancing are essential means by which ...he expresses his emotional cleaving to God….but
that desire for God has to be so overwhelming that any extraneous thoughts are excluded…If distractions are erotic in nature…and (one) faces up to the predominance of the sexual urge at both conscious and subconscious levels, and
its capacity to intrude even during prayer...then he has learned to take measures…Chasidism dealt with this by introducing the doctrine of the "elevation of strange
thoughts." This...technique not of sublimation, but of thought conversion, whereby the beauty or desirability of the woman is latched upon and used not as a sexual but rather as a mental and spiritual stimulus.... taught to "elevate" these thoughts by substituting the beauty of God for the
physical beauty that is currently bewitching us. (The pray-er) has learned to immediately contrast the pale reflection of beauty that humans are endowed with, on the one hand, and the supreme Divine source of authentic and enduring beauty,
on the other…

"This is not sublimation; This is elevation
' Wow! Surely anyone who re-reads the lyrics to "Elevation," (or ventures and voyeurs a watching as Bono sings/prays/dances/incarnates it on concert DVD)
, will surely fall at the feet and conclusions of the reviewer, admitting that he astoundingly accurate. And I (seminary grad!) didn’t even know until I found this review that "elevation" was the official name for an ancient and established style and form of prayer. Surely this is exactly what Bono is fundamentally "on about" in this song; even in wider life and mission. Just for starters, lets interlace the lyrics to the song "Elevation" itself, and the review thereof:

Prayer is not something (Bono) just is an
experience he enters into. There is no room for inhibition; singing and dancing are essential means by which he expresses his emotional cleaving to God….but
such ardor/desire for God has to be so overwhelming("You make me feel like I could fly") that any extraneous thoughts are excluded…If distractions are erotic in nature…and (Bono) faces up to the predominance of the sexual urge ("I’ve lost
all self-contol")at both conscious and subconscious("Digging up my soul/Going
down/Excavation") levels, and its capacity to intrude even during prayer( "Tell me something true/I believe in You"")...then he has learned to take measures…by
introducing the ancient doctrine of the "elevation of strange thoughts." This is a Chasidic not of sublimation, but of thought conversion,whereby the beauty or desirability of the woman(the corner of your lips/the
orbit of your hips")is latched upon and used not as a sexual but rather as a mental ("I need you to elevate my mind") and spiritual("you elevate my soul") stimulus. We are taught to "elevate" these thoughts by substituting the beauty
of God for the physical beauty that is currently bewitching us. (Bono) has learned to immediately contrast the pale reflection of beauty that humans are endowed with, on the one hand, and the supreme Divine source of authentic and
enduring beauty, on the other. This is not sublimation, but

Because it so convincing, I hope Bono read the review I quoted, and I’m guessing he may well have. Not because I found it in Rolling Stone, or another obvious publication that Mr. Vox has been known to frequent, but because it’s in a classic book called "Blessed are You: A Comprehensive Guide to Jewish Prayer," by Rabbi Jeffrey Cohen, copyright 1993. That’s right, a commentary on U2’s "Elevation" written long before the song. (And of course, "elevation" as the name of a prayer-vehicle has been around for centuries). No, I didn’t truly trick you; though I did

"This is going to be helpful for people 2000 years from now who don’t want to get left behind”

I love and hate teaching Revelation.
Maybe it's because I have pretty much figured out what/who 666 and mark of the beast is (:
(keep reading, it was never meant to be a secret.).

I fear Douglas Wilson may be prophetic (and apocalyptic, in the truest sense of the term) in his comment about 'hitting a bull on the ass with a banjo".

So I am so glad Wellspring church had already posted what I have pasted below:
the helpful Rob Bell/Don Golden section on Revelation from "Jesus Came to Save Christians."
I have taken the liberty of highlighting a few sections..

Just the kind of stuff that is basic Christianity, but hardly ever heard or taught in our country.
Whatsup with us? Not enough violence in Revelation, so we have to sex it up?

This section could be read in tandem with the famous/infamous sermon on Revelation by Rob Bell at Willow Creek, finally unbanned and on video here.

Other helpful posts would include:

Bell and Golden:

A tragic example of what happens when Christians miss the central message of the Scriptures is the way in which Revelation, the last book of the Bible, is taught and understood in American culture. Revelation is a letter from a pastor named John to his congregation. To understand how significant the letter is, it helps to understand its first-century historical backdrop.

First, the emperor: The Caesars, who ruled the Roman Empire, sow themselves as gods on earth, sent to bring about peace and prosperity. Throughout the first century, the Caesars had taken their divinity more and more seriously, demanding more and more overt displays of worship and acknowledgment from their subjects. Many of them demanded that their subjects worship them as the Son of God, the divine one ruling the earth with the favor of the god. One Caesar had a choir that followed him wherever he went, singing, “You are worthy, our Lord and our God, to receive honor and glory and power.”

Second, economics: The Caesars understood that at the heart of the empire is economics. If you want to truly control people, you need to control their money. So if you went to the market to buy or sell goods, you first needed to give an offering acknowledging Caesar as Lord and that you were an obedient subject of his kingdom. If you didn’t, you couldn’t take part in the economy, which meant you wouldn’t make any money and you’d eventually starve. It is believed that a system was developed to identify who had made the offering to Caesar and who hadn’t and this system involved some sort of mark you received to acknowledge your confession of Caesar as Lord and your ability to take part in the market.

Third, peace: The Roman army would march into a new land or region, one they had not conquered and announce they were taking over. They would demand that the citizens of that land confess Caesar as Lord. If they refused, they could be killed, often crucified, as a public demonstration of what happens when you defy Caesar. This had a way of bringing people in line with the Roman way.

Fourth, exile: The Caesar in power at the time of John’s writing understood just what a challenge the church of Jesus was to his rule. These Christians believed that someone else, someone not him, was the true Son of God and that he alone deserved their worship and acknowledgment of divine status. Caesar believed that the way to get rid of this threat was to send the pastor into exile so that he couldn’t lead his people.

Revelation is a letter written from John, the pastor, to his church during his time of exile. He writes in a subversive literary style called apocalyptic. It uses a vast array of symbols and images and stylized language to convey profound truths about how the world works. John refers to a beast, which is his word for the corrupt, destructive system of violence and evil that is pervasive in our world. He writes of a dragon, the one who does the work of the beast on earth. And then he talks about a mark of the beast.

We can assume John’s audience knew what the mark was – how you bought and sold in the market. The mark was a symbol of your participation in the military-economic complex of the Roman Empire. The mark represented an all-encompassing system aligned against people doing the right thing. The mark spoke to all of the ways humans misuse power to accumulate and stockpile while others suffer and starve.

The mark was anti-kingdom, and John says don’t do it. Don’t take the mark. Don’t take part in the animating spirit of empire: Resist – Rebel – Protest.

Revelation is a bold, courageous, politically subversive attack on corrosive empire and its power to oppress people. The people who read this letter would have been confronted with a fundamental question: Who is Lord – Jesus or Caesar? Whose way is the way – the way of violence or the way of peace – the way of domination or the way of compassion – the way of building towers to the heavens or the way of sharing our bread with our neighbor - the way of greed and economic exploitation or the way of generosity and solidarity?

Who is your Lord?

Imagine how dangerous it would be if there were Christians who skipped over the first-century meaning of John’s letter and focused only on whatever it might be saying about future events, years and years away. There is always the chance that in missing the point, they may in the process be participating in and supporting and funding the various kinds of systems that the letter warns against participating in, supporting, and funding.

That would be tragic.

That wouldn’t be what Jesus had in mind.

That would be anti-Jesus.

That would be anti-Christ.

Were the people in John’s church reading his letter for the first time, with Roman soldiers right outside their door, thinking, “This is going to be really helpful for people two thousand years from now who don’t want to get left behind”?

It’s a letter written to a real group of people, in a real place, at a real time, enduring excruciatingly difficult times. Christians were being killed by the empire because they would not participate.

John comforts them, challenges them, warns them, teaches them, inspires them – don’t take the mark of the beast.
-Rob Bell and Don Golden, "Jesus Came to Save Christians," pp 131-134 .. emphases are mine

Al Franken and Joe Lieberman

The Church of Facebook - Jesse Rice

James Geary TED Talk on Metaphor

About this talk:

Aphorism enthusiast and author James Geary waxes on a fascinating fixture of human language: the metaphor. Friend of scribes from Aristotle to Elvis, Geary says metaphor can subtly influence the decisions we make.

About James Geary:

Lost jobs, wayward lovers, wars and famine -- come to think of it, just about any of life's curveballs -- there's an aphorism for it, and James Geary's got it...continued bio

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Podcast interview with Pete Gall re: Beautiful Idols and bad words

Click "posts" on the player below and then scroll down to select "Pete Gall interview"
to hear Keltic Ken and I interview the Pete.

(Subscribe Free) (Add to my Page)

You need to order both:

>>the independent and uncensored version of his first book,
"Gall: Five Years of Unfettered Christian Exploration Somewhere Between Youth Group and the Rest of Life"--(complete with uncensored chapters like "Chocolate , Bible Study and Blowjobs" surprise it became "Chocolate and Bible Study" in the later "Christian" version)

as well as

>> the official Christian version:

"My Beautiful Idol"

Guess which version has this classic blurb on the back:

Look, if this whole deal with God is at all real, it has to do better than drone
on in hypothetical and scholastic debates. It has to apply to premarital nudity,
dreams of personal glory, colossal lapses in judgment, family dysfunctions,
battles with addiction, and frustration with fools. It must have something to
say about tenacity, idolatry, heroes, love, sunsets, demons, prayer, miracles,
worms, rivers and hard-won orgasm. Tell me about that stuff. Admit that you've
somehow come to believe that the sin of the world can hold a candle to the
wretchedness of your own heart. Take on questions that are bigger than your
answers. Fight to let pain serve its purpose. Let grace shine through if it's so
real and so great and so worth living for. Show me a Jesus who gives a shit
about the world I inhabit, and I'll keep reading.

-back cover, "Gall"


Christmas billboard

As you might imagine, this church billboard
has been controversial.

Story here.

Church website here.

"Let me in the nonlinear stochastic resonance"

Fresh after my posting on linear/nonlinear space and time..

I found more U2 science in another book, which Dovetails two themes of U2's "No Line":

- sound (as in "Let me in the sound,""I found grace inside a sound..")
-the "not linear" nature of time.

Check this below from Bart Kosko's fascinating chapter, "The Zen of Noise: Stochastic Resonance":

"many physical and biological systems display a "stochastic resonance" (noise benefit) because they are nonlinear systems....[Bulsara notes,] 'Stochastic resonanace enpasulates the sexy notion that moderate levels of noise in a nonlinear dynamical system can actually enhance the infornation throughout--and so improve the sensing and processing of otherwise undetectable signals."( "Noise", p.143)

Sing it: "I found grace within a stochastic resonance".......

see also

what is the opposite of linear?

The short answer is 'all at once."

But the long answer is "Nothing...There is no conveyor belt, Neo..maybe not even a line on the horizon..or a line anywhere."

Maybe even the "time working backwards" that George Ladd and Bob Dylan have commented on is an illusion.

I love Leonard Shlain, and pray he's doing well.

He would be a great guy to sit down with Bono, and talk art and physics.
Shlain might dare to suggest, though, that the shapeshifting Holy Spirit, hole-in heart, gal from Fez may have given a bit of bad physics advice to
the French motorcycle cop in 'No Line on the Horizon:"

It would seem that it's space, not time, that's truly not linear.

Space...and math/physics...and the nose... appear to be left-brain function...and somewhat logical and linear.
Time....and music....and the eyes.. appear to be right-brain functions...and pretty darn non-linear.

From Shlain's "Art and Physics":

whereas sight is largely holistic, all-at-once sense, the nose must process smells one-at-a-time...The right hemisphere of the brain is best able to apprecoiate these states (visual, contemplation) since the right all at once brain is older than the left one at a time brain...The right side specializes in the simultaneous coordination of information in space, while the left side collates data percived sequentially in time. This arrangement forces on dual-brained humans the illusion that reality is a series of casual events that appear in three- dimensional spatial extensions in a specific sequence..

All the innovative features of the left hemisphere--doing, words, abstract thinking,a nd number sense--are principally processed in time.. Time's function in speech is evident because language can be understood only if one person is talking at a time....By contrast, we can listen to all the instruments of a 70-piece orchestra's simultaneuous sound and hear them holistically, all at once....The four key features of the right brain are holistic...Music demonstrates the ability of right brain to process information in an all at once manner.
-Shlain, "Art and Physics",chapters 26, 27

Of course, this means that the woman in Bono's song, by virtue of appearing in a song, is in her right brain and right mind.
So maybe her advice is good after all.

And as a woman of the future (oops, spliced a song), she might like to overhear Shlain quoting William Blake: "Time and Space are Real Beings, a Male and a Female. Time is a Man, Space is a Woman."

Only women in space can comment prophetically about men in time.

And do it all at once, too boot.

No wonder she stuck her tongue in his ear, and messed him up for the rest of the album.


New York Times
Book Review:
"Provocative...passionate...Shlain points out uncanny parallels between the visual representations of artists and analytic representations.... He is an engaging story teller, skilled in the use of metaphor, analogy and even imaginary journeys that at times are poetic... Dr. Shlain's discussion of artistic images and his demonstrations of how these images can be used to describe the impenetrable ideas of physics are important."