Monday, March 31, 2008

Nouwen on spirituality, organization, creative weakness

"What is the relationship between spirituality and organization? The question led us to the more specific problem: How can the minister be an agent of change? We discussed the attitude of the commissar, who wants to change the structure first--even if he has to use power and sacrifice people to come to the concrete results he thinks are indispensable for the new world to come. We also discussed the attitude of the inward man, who feels that only by changing the hearts of the individual can we change the structures of society. But just as the social activist is in danger of forgetting that the pains of our society are also to be found in the heart of the reformer, so too does the inward man overlook the colossal problems of our society that go far beyond the personal insights of any individual man. The Christian layman,priest or minister who wants to be an agent of social change is constantly challenged to look for the synthesis of (the two).. As long as a Christian lives he keeps searching for a new order without
divisions between people, for a new structurer..he is irritated by satisfaction and self-content in himself as well as others, since he knows, with an unshakable certainty, that something great is coming of which he has already seen the fist rays of new light..

...But this way of creative transendence is a way that requires ministry...(ministers) who help their friends distinguish between the constructive and destructive spirits and making them free for the discovery of God's life-giving Spirit in the midst of this maddening world. It calls for creative weakness."

(Nouwen, "Creative Ministry",1971;pp.88-89, 113)

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Lectio Divina via Radiohead and Rachmaninov

What would we do without Paste Magazine..the "thinking person's Rolling Stone" with Christian undercurrent...learn more about them here.

Most recently I was introduced to Bodies of Water and the Whigs via Paste.

This time, Paste Senior Contributing Editor Andy Whitman, an extremely insightful reviewer, blogged this about a new artist you will want to test-drive:

The year is still young, but it will take some sort of miraculous effort to unseat this one as the best album of 2008. Beneath the icy chill is a warm heart, and it's the damndest collection of sounds (classical piano, hip-hop beats, gurgling synths, clattering trains, operatic divas) that you'll ever hear. It's also Exhibit A on how to make an album as a Christian, which is distinctly different from making a Christian album.


If you're not interested yet, you may accidentally be on the wrong blog.

But read on.
Thank God Christianity Today (some pretty relevant stuff last couple issues) picked up
Whitman's review of the same:
(the) extraordinary merger of classical, electronica and hip hop influences is reason enoigh to care about this album. But I was also immediately struck by his use of Scripture throughout the very non-standard songs..This is the musical equivalent of lectio divina...and it took a classically trained kid to make it work musically via Radiohead and Rachmaninov. The music is quiet, meditative and occasionally, thunderously beautiful...surrender never sounded so multifaceted and so bracing. April 2008, p. 73

If that didn't make you ask "Who is this guy?,"
you'ee still on the wrong blog; click this.

His name is:

Son Lox..

Actually that's his recording name.

He is a young man named Ryan Lott.

The disc?

"At War With Walls and Mazes"

A few more reviews, as if you need them:

  • "Not one song on this album is below the highest echelon of trip hop and electronic music. It is nearly flawless." - Nick Greer, sputnikmusic
  • "Affecting, resonant, and engaging. There are lights in the darkness and a holy ghost in the Son Lux machine. The lyrical concerns of Sufjan Stevens circa Seven Swans, production techniques from Massive Attack, and the classical habits of Nico Muhly." - Evan McGarvey, pitchfork
  • "One of the most eerie and otherworldly albums in recent memory, but it's also one of the most gloriously human." - J Lincoln Hurst
  • "At War with Walls and Mazes"defies genre and proves that the mathematics of music can be bent and at times even broken. From minimal elevator sounds to orchestral grandeur, Son Lux is defiant, wondrous, and illuminating." - B.A. Herndon
  • "Dynamic atmospheric tunnels of sound that quake and curl in your head." - Faith-Ann Young, RCRDLBL
  • "Music that undulates at a half-step ahead of the curve." - Jake Krolick, jambase
  • "5/5 stars." - Paul Ford, The Morning News
  • "Simultaneously engaging and hypnotic." Amelia Raitt, eMusic
  • "Son Lux has allowed the listener to listen to music without listening to songs, like a poet allows the reader to read words without sense, or at least any traditional sense. In this respect, Son Lux also opens the mind's eye." - Paul Bozzo, treblezine
  • "Tracks organically mutate from opera-hall-sized compositions with car-speaker-rattling hip-hop beats to bare-all dim-lit bedroom intimateness. A superb and multifaceted album. More amazing is the fact that it is the work of one man." - Matt Whelihan, Free Times

If this doesn't sound even remotely like a prayer you didn't know you had ever prayed..

or at least got you curious, you should probably feel more comfortable with a quick click here.

If you are interested, though, Lux's site is here,
his blog here,
Mypsace here (several songs)
..and his song "Break"is below;
You're welcome.

a concert blip:

2 Shocking Preacher Videos

Of course this first clip "Real Preachers of Genius" is a spoof:

But apparently this second one is not.

!! Which is more shocking?

Serious profanity alert for this one below:

the only leaders who know what they're doing

"In these days of shift in church and culture,
the only leaders who know what they're doing
are those who know they don't know what they're doing."
-Norm Stretch

Dave Barry, "25 Things I Have Learned in 50 Years"

25 things I have learned in 50 years
Dave Barry

1. The badness of a movie is directly proportional to the number of helicopters in it.

2. You will never find anybody who can give you a clear and compelling reason why we observe daylight-saving time.

3. People who feel the need to tell you that they have an excellent sense of humor are telling you that they have no sense of humor.

4. The most valuable function performed by the federal government is entertainment.

5. You should never say anything to a woman that even remotely suggests you think she's pregnant unless you can see an actual baby emerging from her at that moment.

6. A penny saved is worthless.

7. They can hold all the peace talks they want, but there will never be peace in the Middle East. Billions of years from now, when Earth is hurtling toward the Sun and there is nothing left alive on the planet except a few microorganisms, the microorganisms living in the Middle East will be bitter enemies.

8. The most powerful force in the universe is gossip.

9. The one thing that unites all human beings, regardless of age, gender, religion, economic status, or ethnic background, is that, deep down inside, we all believe that we are above-average drivers.

10. There comes a time when you should stop expecting other people to make a big deal about your birthday. That time is age 11.

11. There is a very fine line between "hobby" and "mental illness."

12. People who want to share their religious views with you almost never want you to share yours with them.

13. There apparently exists, somewhere in Los Angeles, a computer that generates concepts for television sitcoms. When TV executives need a new concept, they turn on this computer; after sorting through millions of possible plot premises, it spits out, "THREE QUIRKY BUT ATTRACTIVE YOUNG PEOPLE LIVING IN AN APARTMENT," and the executives turn this concept into a show. The next time they need an idea, the computer spits out, "SIX QUIRKY BUT ATTRACTIVE YOUNG PEOPLE LIVING IN AN APARTMENT." Then the next time, it spits out, "FOUR QUIRKY BUT ATTRACTIVE YOUNG PEOPLE LIVING IN AN APARTMENT." And so on. We need to locate this computer and destroy it with hammers.

14. Nobody is normal.

15. At least once per year, some group of scientists will become very excited and announce that:

* The universe is even bigger than they thought!
* There are even more subatomic particles than they thought!
* Whatever they announced last year about global warming is wrong.

16. If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be "meetings."

17. The main accomplishment of almost all organized protests is to annoy people who are not in them.

18. The value of advertising is that it tells you the exact opposite of what the advertiser actually thinks. For example:

* If the advertisement says "This is not your father's Oldsmobile," the advertiser is desperately concerned that this Oldsmobile, like all other Oldsmobiles, appeals primarily to old farts like your father.
* If Coke and Pepsi spend billions of dollars to convince you that there are significant differences between these two products, both companies realize that Pepsi and Coke are virtually identical.
* If the advertisement strongly suggests that Nike shoes enable athletes to perform amazing feats, Nike wants you to disregard the fact that shoe brand is unrelated to athletic ability.
* If Budweiser runs an elaborate advertising campaign stressing the critical importance of a beer's "born-on" date, Budweiser knows this factor has virtually nothing to do with how good a beer tastes.

19. If there really is a God who created the entire universe with all of its glories, and He decides to deliver a message to humanity, He will not use, as His messenger, a person on cable TV with a bad hairstyle.

20. You should not confuse your career with your life.

21. A person who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person.

22. No matter what happens, somebody will find a way to take it too seriously.

23. When trouble arises and things look bad, there is always one individual who perceives a solution and is willing to take command. Very often, that individual is crazy.

24. Your friends love you anyway.

25. Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and dance.

-- Dave Barry

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

St Mike and Megachurches of 120

I once commented about "megachurches" of 120 or more people.

Someone naturally assumed it was a typo.

It was not.

Because I was trained in the System, I need wake-up/shake-up calls like Mike's...and the woman in the 22nd unplug.

Now I may need to officially downsize my megachurch starting point.

If you are still flinching over that, I recommend a prayerful/careful read of Mike Croghan's
What I Really Think: #7 - Church Community Size.
See my comment to him over there where I thank him for confirming everything I've felt and therefore messing up my life for good.

A preview, to be sure you click to his blog to read the whole thing,
and put an offering in his basket:

I am willing to allow that there are probably good reasons for certain church communities to grow to more than, say, 75-100 active members (including children).

However, I must admit that I have trouble thinking of any.

'Cause this is the rub: I can't think of anything that a single church community can do which a network of communities working together can't do (though admittedly, such networks would probably move more slowly in many cases). On the other hand, I can think of a bunch of thorny issues that begin to arise when communities get so big that anonymity is possible - which probably happens when they approach 50 or 70 adults; fewer if the leadership responsibility is concentrated in one or two individuals. Once anonymity is possible, the church ceases to be a community of followers of Jesus.

Let me unpack that statement, because it is, admittedly, a bit extreme...

I have archived Mike's other posts in this important series here.

Mike, if you continue the series, I may have to spontaneously combust.
Or at least finally get started in my ministry.
Which may be the same thing.

PS For some reason I connect this to the hilarious and tragic "Sex and Drugs in Church: Eugene Peterson on Why the System Can't Care"

Athletes Have Embarassing Mothers

"Athlete and the Embarrassing Mother" is an important read.

"Gay Scientists Isolate Christian Gene"

"she's doing what it's all about anyway"

If you've never surfed into Lisa Koons' "The Uprising" blog, check it out...
passionate and poetic, articulate and innocent; vulnerable and different.

Unless you are NOT tired on the same old stuff from old bloggers like me..

Appreciated her experience of being prayed for by Grace McLaren (Brian's wife) here.
She commented to Brian McLaren that after sitting in on his emergent leaders seminar:

felt like I needed a dictionary or translator to understand the language of these emergent leaders. I confess 90% of it went over my head - like comprehending the core meaning of certain parts was like trying to hold sand in the palm of my hand. As soon as I got ahold of a glob, it would immediately start slipping through, leaving me with only a small cluster of grains. Brian says despite this I've been doing what it's all about anyway. At one point I had to stand up in front of the crowd of hundreds... then, Brian blessed me. -As an introvert I hated the experience, but I loved him for doing it. Grace McLaren then got up, hPhoto_7_3ugged me, & told the crowd how much she loved me. Then she prayed for me while holding me tight. It was the best prayer I'd ever heard. It was raw & authentic & messy round the edges...but I felt the strength of it being answered even as she prayed it. I cringed for having to stand before hundreds. And the ovation was torture. What's the big deal, I told the crowd; "I just prayed & obeyed". Invited them to do the same. I felt naked up there... & dorky. And blessed

Lisa is so self-effacing, you really haveto fish around her blog to find her name, let alone any links that tell you this (from McLaren's site), let alone that the photo above was on the occassion of her receiving the first Deep Shift "Everything Must Change" Award:

Lisa Koons is the Director of 24-7, an organization focused on instigating vertical dialogue & a goodness revolution through the venue of prayer & service to the city’s marginalized & poor communities. She has 15 years of discipleship experience among individuals & groups, & mentors church leaders & congregations regarding intimacy with God, efficacy in prayer, & walking in resurrection life. 24-7 is the site of the city’s 1st emergent-style prayer room & the epi-center of The Justice Project, a yearly 400-strong volunteer effort to help bring transformation to fragile inner city neighborhoods.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Westboro Baptist on The Chaser

the most listenable "unlistenable" album ever made

My amazon review of The Violet Burning's self-titled CD: is below. Other posts on this band are here.

Perhaps the most devastating, heartbreaking, the most listenable "unlistenable" album ever made. Born out of tough life circumstances, death and betrayal, and tenuously tethered to an incredibly vulnerable place, the gut-wrenching and guitar-wrenching angst, faith and doubt that emerge here are in fact beautiful,touching, and ultimately healing.

This is not angst for art's sake; this is art for angst's sake.

Such is the hardwon faith that does not bypass lament.

I cannot use the word "masterpiece" lightly; but I cannot not use it here.

Michael Pritzl and The Violet Burning had created two wonderful and promising CDs (especially the essebtial "Strength," truly the first modern worship record..only a decade ahead of its time!) to this point (and many gems have been released since).

But nothing prepared for this full on lunge into grunge and the abyss; heaven by way of hell.

"Have I gone too far?/Can you reach me?" ("Underwater"), "Can you fill my soul? I just don't have what it you?" ("Eleven"), "Do you feel scared like I do/Do you feel lower than angels?" and "Will I ever shine in your eyes?" ("Goldmine") are not thoughts that folk who are "supposed to" believe in God are usually allowed to express. But thank God (literally) this band was allowed to and required to. The emotion (and sometimes intentional nonemotion) in the vocals and the instrumentation (particularly the dirty bombast and orchestral air of the guitars) add up far beyond the some of their parts, and transport the listener to places they may or may not want to go. But the rare and refreshing upturns ( as "I feel your fire" in"Arabic Tremolo Radio") infuse us all the more with wild hope, as they are backdropped against the void.

Brilliantly produced by Steve Hindalong, the atmosphere shines, shimmers, haunts and heals. Fans of Andy Prickett's unique guitar sonics will be rewarded.

Musically, the Violets have been compared to, and recommended for lovers of the likes of U2, The Cure, Radiohead, Delirious, and My Bloody Valentine. This visceral album in particular has been linked to the relentless "grunge"movement, and distorted guitar, angry young man angstrock scenes. Those qualifiers may be helpful in tipping you off (If you only like classical or pop, you may never be able to fully enter thejourney).

But in the case of this opus, all bets and categories are off in the long run. It is possible for one who has no place in their record collection for any of the aforementioned to find this album a very place to benchmark their life. The record is a cathartic experience that will lift you up if you let it; if you can endure it to the end. I wouldn't even be surprised if it has literally saved someone's life. But don't get near it if you are find no place for death in your life and naked honesty in your faith (or faithlessness).

And some all out rock attack that just might tear apart and reassemble your soul, and make you stronger.

You might even try listening to it just for "fun" as an occasionally danceable rock record.

Listen to it if you like distorted guitar, but don't want to get in touch with your heart, life and God-shaped hole.

Yeah, right. I dare you.

But whatever your motive, buy this yesterday.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Worship in the Bar/Brothel

"Anointing" is such an overused word.

But why let the charismaniacs have it all the time?

Besides, it's a biblical word, and a biblical phenomenon.

And I can think of no more appropriate word for the perceived manifest presence of God that I
often experience in worship.. bars!

From the classic 77s concert "You gotta have Jesus; that's all") at The Wild Blue in 1986,
to the 1990s Michael Pritzl of The Violet Burning absolutely lost in passionate worship ("Lay Your hands now on me..") the bartender, apparently oblivious to the Holy Shekinah on stage, nonchalantly played cards....I bet St. Ryan Towsend has some great stories here.

I dare to believe there is an anointing and receptivity for worship in the most "secular" of places. Sometimes even the bartenders ARE caught up in the moment; intrigued.
I have seen it; heart-arrows drawn to Jesus right there in "pagan" space...go figure(:

Which is why I love hearing about the church in The Trash Bar, and other recent examples of this stuff working; and not resulting in cheap cheesiness, or artificial or manipulative attempts to "close the deal."

"Can we worship in the public space? Of course, but we are going to have to find ways to connect with God, that, rather than alienating, attract people and spark their of the most missional things that a church community could do is simply get out of their buildings and go to where the people are--and be God's people in that place in a way that invites people into the equation!"
(Hirsch, "The Forgotten Ways," p, 240)

All that to say, check out Andy Roger's blog report on "Leading Worship in Bars, Night Clubs and Brothels," here; with his two videos representing two different approaches to doing this posted below. He was so right on in noting that " both models work, one isn't any better or more 'spiritual' than the other. It depends on context and partnering with the local believers, churches and ministries." Interesting that the second model (and second video below) was the more direct approach, and it was the more "worldly" venue..essentially a brothel.

Smells like Jesus to me.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

What Mike Really Thinks

Mike Croghan has done an amazing job on this series. Please support the man:

a few random posts from our third cousins

a few random posts from our third cousins:

"Since pornography always drives technology..."

Billy Graham's family fight over talking cow by his grave

Chuck Colson become a crabby old man?

Pope Restores Martin Luther!


Q. "How do you drink new wine?" A. Fast!

recognizing apostles

I am convinced Wolfgang Simson is right (isn't he always?): " Nobody recognizes the apostles when they really walk into the room."

Spoken like the apostle he clearly is(:

Last year, I tested the thesis:
I decide to muster a mustard seed of hope that someone somewhere saw Rich Mullins for what he likely was: an apostle. I winced, and googled that unlikely combination of words.

The official result:

Your search -"Rich Mullins was an apostle" - did not match any documents.

Of course not.

Which is why he was.

Rich would undoubtedly be the first to deflect and deny it anyway.

Further evidence he was.


my 2nd favorite rock

It's Kjeragbolten Rock in Norway...and they say it's not as dangerous to stand on as the photos's just the angle...people stand in line to stand on spite of the sheer drop of 3200'.
More pictures? Check it out
Info here

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Good Fruday interviews

I was commissioned by the North Central Fresno Pastors Cluster to film some "man/woman on the street"interviews for our combined 2008 Good Friday Service.

Watch Keltic Ken ask folks:
1)Have you heard of Good Friday?
2)What is it?
3)Why is it called "good"?

David Letterman works the drive-thru

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Christians Who Suck

“The gospel of sin management produces vampire Christians who want Jesus for his blood and little else.”
Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy

Eugene Peterson on Berry, Bono, and imagination

The knowing glance at "There are no Lone Rangers in Wendell Berry's books" (1:38) which segues directly into a delightful conversation about my other favorite theologian is worth the price of admission to this Eugene Peterson interview. No regular reader of this blog has to guess who that other theologian is...but you may want to know more about the Bono-Peterson story alludes to in the video; it's here.

If you are new to Peterson (!)...where to start? He is prolific and prophetic. Maybe read about his theology of loud farts here; or his adventures with sex and drugs in church here. Read a book or three of his. Read about how he loves porn stars here., his thoughts on pastoral ministry here, or test drive him on "Spirituality for All the Wrong Reasons." Some notes from a recent teaching are here. Heck, start with the video. You'll be sold:

Friday, March 14, 2008

kiddie songs by "our" bands

Submerging Mercer:Carretto is Troubling; Jesus is violent

picture credit
From Jerry Mercer's book (from the Asbury Seminary Spiritual Formation Series) on the beatitudes, "Cry Joy":

At times when I am alone, I wonder how much of a Christian I really am
on this issue of peacemaking. I continually find 'good reasons' for justifying my aggressive behavior rather than following Jesus' teaching at face value. That I am not alone in this gives me no comfort. Why is is that our hearts are drawn to the Gospel but our reason pulls us back? I think it is because we are so desperate to protect the illusion that we can control the world, we believe that power is more dependable than love, and that our enemy is beyond appeals to the heart. I also suspect many of us give in too quickly to the self-serving opinions of national interest.

Carlos Caretto is an unusual man. Highly educated and once holding a prominent salaried position in his church, Carretto heard God's call, left everything,and went to the Sahara Desert to witness for Christ as a member of the Little Brothers Community. Now he is old and writes books, and what he writes troubles me. For example, take the following excerpt from a chapter he wrote dealing with social revolution and the church:

It is true that Christ is a revolutionary;
It is true that He is violent;
but not against others,
only against Himself.

It is too easy to kill others,
it is so difficult to die to oneself.

The violence of Christ is the cross,
it is planted n His heart,
not in the hearts of His adversaries.

The violence of Jesus is deep love.
not the sword or the prison,
which is how we always want to resolve
the problems which seem insoluble to us.
(pp 107-8)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Pastor Ray Davies

He always seemed God-haunted to me.

As a music and culture-saturated kid in the 1960s,
his songs resonated with me in ways I was not in touch with,
but was
in tune with.

Throughout every era of his bizarre, ever-morphing kinky band and identity;
laced through some of the most amazing and unforgettable
and some of the most abtuse and forgettable
concept albums and character sketches..

prophetic and pathetic
numinous and naughty
sexual and spiritual
ethereal and eerie

inevitably leaked from his soul.

Sehnsucht and Melancholia.

Social satire you could dance
to...or not.

Serious satire with a wink...or not.

Sometimes throwaway, halfprocessed journal entries.

Whether about The Big Question directly, or about an accidental date with a transvestite ("Lola")

It just came out of the Kinks via singer/lyricist Ray Davies..

..and all most people know is the staccatoriff that may have singlehandedly launched punk rock only twelve years ahead of its time; "You Really Got Me."

Ahead of

their time, indeed. Even as I type, Radiohead's "Airbag" is playing in the next room; its riff, lyric and persona feel very Kinkish. (Both these bands at their best have delivered what Bono keeps threatening U2 will: "punk rock from Venus" with social commentary. And you can dance to it. Kinky!)

is enlightening.

"I've realized how difficult it is to be on your own after being in a group for so long," says Davies, who led the Kinks for thirty-two years. "I want to feel I'm in a band, but I'm not. That's the biggest problem I've had in recent years."

Rolling Stone follows up that quote with:

This is quite a statement, given what Davies went through in 2004, when he was shot by a mugger in New Orleans. The injuries were much worse than reported at the time, and Davies still hasn't fully recovered.

But Frank Lake (Clinical Theology) is right...

emotional/existential/spiritual pain/angst/lament/pain;
especially as channeled into the need/sehnsucht/cry for
("I don't much want to tour, except for the community of Kinks fans. They meet each other at my gigs, which hasn't happened for a long time. That's ic;">the only reason I would want to tour: the community.")

can feel and be far worse a pain than any physical pain we can imagine.
Such stuff bullets your blue sky, and sends you into psalms and hell-on-earth;
and turns your heart and hunger toward connection and collaboration:

is often far " a="" suffering="" than="" any="" physical="" pain="" we="" could="" imagine="" or="">

"Getting shot is easy compared to creating an identity for yourself as a solo artist," Davies says, picking at his baked avocado, which is oozing grease and smelling bad. He's speaking like a depressed person. Minimal volume. Minimal affect. "I don't want to treat musicians like hired help. I encourage a collaborative spirit.."

And on the ride from the restaurant to his home, he laments:

"There aren't any proper pubs in England anymore. They're all gastro-pubs. If you want a decent pint, you have to go to Ireland. The pubs, the churches — all dying institutions."

Uh, yeah.

"Another reason I wanted to move to New Orleans was to escape Tony Blair," says Davies. "I'm a socialist, and Labor is not socialist anymore. The working man is still downtrodden and unheard. And now they're vanishing. Blair came in and it became uncool to be working class. Everybody aspired to be something a little bit better. Nothing wrong with wanting to better yourself, but when you forget your origins — that's bad. That's why I don't fit into this culture anymore. I take the side of the underdog."

Davies sips his tea and thinks.

"I don't justify the guy who shot me," he resumes. "But I kind of understood. Maybe he didn't have such a great life. I don't know."

That itself summarizes one of my seminary life-lessons reading Frank Lake.
Maybe Davies is prepping to be a pastor in is second career; wounded healer indeed...

For example, he'd also be good at bucking the matrix/institution:

"Universal, they've culled the tunes, they've cut out this, and kept that, and I've inherited all this bullshit. So it's the illusion that you can get by without a 9-to-5 job. Most of my time was taken up dealing with corporate people, the bullshit people. And I've had to deal with bullshit for most of my career. Does Bob Dylan have to deal with the same thing? I talk to more lawyers than I do musicians. The reason I don't give up is that I want to be an annoyance to the bean counters for the rest of my life."

And he's already leading the kind of organic, relationship-based, weeklong pastor seminars...uh, excuse me, musician seminars...that our church network does:

A tall middle-aged man in a fat winter jacket shyly approaches Davies at the table. He appears to be a fan, then Davies has a moment of recognition, and they talk warmly for a few minutes, shaking hands when the man departs. "He was one of my songwriting students," says Davies. "I do a songwriting seminar — it's residential, and it lasts a week. I was trying to arrange the exchange of schools between New Orleans and London before I got shot. I was trying to expand it just to get kids writing and feeling good about themselves. Like this guy I just talked to. He's not a student, just someone who took a different route than I did. He's done the day job, he's getting near the end of his career. He's always wanted to be a songwriter, and he decides, 'I'm going to do it.' So he takes the course; he can express something he wants to say, and he feels great at the end of the week. It keeps something in him alive, because the guitar does mean freedom. Everyone deserves that space to dream of freedom...

Then the clincher, that seems to capture Davies' own dilemma and Godstruggle:

... but it gets harder and harder to earn that dream time."

More St. Andy Warhol

..Enjoy the
St Andy Warhol: Communion Soup &Transubstantiating the Culture"

Soundtrack it to this:

Thursday, March 06, 2008

How to move a 100 year old church

I tried it in the 1990s, but not this way:

Church in the Trash Bar in Brooklyn

"A lot of people think it's wrong, weird, or maybe even sacriligious to hold services in a place like a bar. We don't
see it that way; we look at the life of Jesus; and where do we find Jesus? He was with the people."

It's the North Brooklyn Vineyard.

We're a church community based in Williamsburg Brooklyn (but with folks from across the NYC area) of regular people living life with God in our culture, living like Jesus lived & doing the things Jesus did.

We think that despite religiously charged politics, religious church culture & many other things that make many people cringe, God is actually here with us & cares for every person.

The gospel Jesus shared was simple, pure & the answer for life. Faith is not just for grandmas & religious people, but available to everyone in every walk of life.

Our weekly sunday services are 6PM @ the Trash Bar (Grand & Roebling) & 11AM service with kids church @ the red brick building on the corner of Metropolitan & Manhattan Aves.

All are welcome, regardless of what you believe, how you were raised or what you've done. We welcome people at any point in their faith journey. link


Dishwalla: providing cable TV and prayer

Who ARE these guys? They blew me away in the car today..

like they apparently did someone else, as well:

Was I hearing right? Were they really singing

"Tell me all your thoughts on God, and tell me am I very far?..

We're not far away now."


They were.

The entire song is online here

Thank God he recently asked me to listen to my new favorite "secular" Godhaunted station.

And who were these guys, i goooooooooogled.


Never heard of them.


"The band's name comes from an Indian term for a person providing cable television to a neighbourhood. In a Vox interview, Rodney claimed the band took the name out of a Wired magazine article."

E: Your lyrics reveal an ongoing interest in matters of spirituality while you seem to shun extreme religiosity (Counting Blue Cars, Charlie Browns Parents). And then there are the lyrical themes throughout the Opaline album that seem downright Biblical- mentions of salvation, angels and demons. What is it about the supernatural that inspires you to write about it? Are you a religious guy?

JR: I consider myself a spiritual person. I believe that there is good and bad. In us and around us. The battle between good and evil has always inspired me and the gothic imagery that surrounds it often shows up in my lyrics. more

They have even inspired an "official" Christian band (Katinas) to be more bold (as they did me):

During this time he recalls an interview that actually inspired the writing of the song, "It was a segment essentially about God and people's interpretation of who God is. They used examples like Joan Osborne trying to imagine God in everyday circumstances with her song "One of Us," and Dishwalla asking "tell me all your thoughts on God," in their hit "Counting Blue Cars," and Bette Midler's comforting lyrics "God is watching us from a distance." "You Are God" was our opportunity to be bold in our expression of who our God is." link

And now I hear they have been around for years, and are on temporary hiatus!

Dang, i should've been listening to "regular" radio all along...

what else have i been missing???

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

prophetic musical guilds vs. fragmented individuals with disinformation

From a great book, that like many, is now all of
one penny

"So what of Bob Dylan? Was or is he a prophet? Have we seen the Spirit operating among the songwriters of our times..
The idea shouldn't sound so strange. Around the time of Samuel, people prophesied in 'guilds,' some of which travelled around in musical grips. No kidding. For the Israelites at the time, this was the norm...Huston Smith, PhD, wrote,'Traveling in schools or bands was a field phenomenon, which could only occur when the group was together.'

..Could it be that is why Dylan keeps on the move so the Commander doesn't ask again?

In the Old Testament, artists, musicians and craftsmen were often inspired by the Spirit: to build the tabernacle, make Aaron's garments, and build Solomon's temple. So why can't a modern pops singer play the role of prophet in our time? In the 1960s, roving bands used warnings against the militarism and materialism of the generation...

Was Bob Dylan a prophet?..No more or less than any performer since, whose song lyrics urge integrity, love, compassion and courage to stand for the truth--yes, the Godly things.
The troubadors, leaders, activists and religious people today command the attention of millions through the power of the media, and its up to each of us to decide for ourselves which ones 'speak' for God.

Maybe by comparison, you could call today's prophets 'Spirit lite,' but there's a big difference between the time of the prophets and now. It's a difference in what was at stake. What was at stake then was..throwing away the Promised Land! ..The Chosen People--in whom was planted the fertile seed of Yahweh--would have vanished forever and given back the world to the wandering tribes that worship the bulls, phalluses, venery and fecundity. At stake was the loss of the tribes in entirety..

What's at stake for us today? In terms of ideology, our world is fragmented, by country and city, by town and neighborhood, by temple and church. We are even fractured within our dysfunctional households and inside our scattered, divided, distracted minds....Each individual of us is a tribe unto ourselves, wandering in a desert of disinformation...with reason enslaved by doctrine, prejudice and illusion. What is the Spirit to do?

Where are the prophets?...Bono of the rock group U2 has been campaigning for years for the superpowers to forgive the debts of the poorest nations. The Spirit seeks every open avenue for expression-in anyone with a voice and will." -Jon Robertson, "Fire & Light: An Off-road Search for the Spirit of God" p. 56

Brittney creates peaceful chaos

The amazing Brittney (pictured here with Keltic Ken) said:

"...i believe in peace
but i don't have the patience
or the attitude at times
to create anything but chaos."

For one:

Brilliant observation. Bonoesque, even.

Romans 7...esque.

For two:

Actually, in a way,

peace (accurately and biblically defined) IS chaos.

Tohu Bohu. It is all that God has to create out of/create.
Physics has certianly backed up the case.
You can even ask St. Len.

Or a great and peacefully chaotic and creative

book by Gleick ..

Or even do some practical chaos theory.

For three:

Patience is overrated.

Even Jack Hayford (isn't he the most patient leader you know of?) says so:

I am inclining to lose my patience lately, and hoping you might agree with me:

There are certain issues and certain times in which passion ought to preempt patience.

A discerning distinction. I will never defend wild-eyed fanaticism. .. But I have found a law of diminishing return where that order of patience is exercised that becomes so placid, so cooled, so bound by reserve that the status quo is never confronted.

I need passion, not patience....

For catorce (everyone knows this is the real biblical number for "four"):

Britney rocks!

im very good at
solving other peoples issues
i just cant solve my own

...she said.

You go, girl. Create chaotic peace with an attitude.

We need more Uncle Jerrys

photo by Henry Wagner

Bono's moving "We nearly lost a brother last night" tribute to Jerry Mele (the band's chief of security) the day after Jerry (like any good shepherd) proved willing to self-sacrificially "lay down his life for the sheep" is viewable as the intro to "Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" in the PopMart DVD (but unfortunately edited out of this clip; though the emotion on the delivery of the song that night surely had much to do with it being a
prayer for Jerry)

Church has a lot to learn from "Uncle Jerry"...

who had to retire suddenly after being injured protecting the band and fans in that 1997 incident in Mexico City (see #17 here; more of the story here.)

Mele "earned a reputation in the touring industry as someone who did things differently. Better. He talked about the crowd as 'our kids' and told local security to work with the fans, not against them. This Vietnam special unit veteran believed it was better to talk to a troublemaker than to fight him. This was crazy, revolutionary stuff in the security industry!"
(Matt McGee). Respected as a beacon of kindness, and a mentor by those in the business.

He has a pastor's heart.
An avuncular apostle.

Thanks to St Matt for scoring this interview...
Exerpted from The @U2 Interview: Jerry Mele

Blessings to Jerry.

Matt: How are you feeling these days?

Jerry: Guess it depends on what day. Physically, I'm always in a fair amount of pain from the nerve damage, so I have to manage that. I work on keeping my health stabilized by walking several miles and working out every day so my muscles don't atrophy. Some days are easier than others. The main thing is I'm not giving in.

What's a typical day like?

Not what I'd like them to be since I'd rather be hanging with you kids somewhere on the road...
Most importantly, I get to hang out with my son, Sam, and his friends, go to his hockey games, baseball games and, whenever possible, take him to see some of the bands his ole man worked with.

What concerts have you guys seen?

We try to see most of the bands I worked for when they are in Phoenix: David Bowie, Michael Bolton, Slayer, Pat Benatar, Ozzy, Peter Frampton and, of course, U2. But other than that, it's just too frustrating. I can't help but watch what's going on with the security, how the fans are treated, all the details ... and I can't get involved. I'm powerless. And just imagine me trying to keep my mouth shut!

..You mentioned your book. Why are you writing your memoirs now?

After being out of the music industry for 10 years, I realize I was one lucky bastard to be in the business when it was fun, at the height of rock and roll when we made up some of the rules as we went along. I mean touring back then was like traveling with the circus. Now it's more like a business trip.

But mainly I want the book to be a tribute to you guys -- the fans and the bands I worked with for 20 years. I credit the music industry for helping me survive the aftermath of my deadly Vietnam special units experience. I used my special ops training to promote nonviolence instead of death and destruction, which has been my penance of sorts.

...How much will you talk about your work with U2 in the book?

Quite a bit. Since I worked with those guys for almost 10 years, there's no shortage of stories. Man, I burst out laughing half the time just thinking of all the fun we had. And they supported so many of my ideas that were all geared toward making the concerts safer and more fun for you guys. Just don't expect a lot of gossip or behind-the-scenes dirt. My legs may not work so great, but my integrity isn't broken.

...What do you think or hope your legacy is where concert security is concerned?

That I fought for the kids. Matt, if it wasn't for you guys, the fans, I mean -- you're what made me want to work as hard as I did. And when I say kids, I mean fans of any age.

With the support of the bands and their fans, we proved that good security doesn't have to include violence. And I believed in communication with respect and have 20 years of positive results to prove it works.
link to complete interview

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

three signs of the (good) end times

Frangipane helpfully reminds that not all "signs of the end times" are "bad."

(for another interesting take on the topic that doesn't drop to the level of "evangelical pornography," try "Hurtling Toward Oblivion: A Logical Argument for the End of the Age").
Some others to wrestle with: Justo Gonzales's "For the Healing of the Nations: The Book of Revelation in an Age of Cultural Conflict" and "The Rapture Exposed: The Message of Hope in The Book of Revelation" by Barbara R. Rossing).

    I recently discovered that:

    1)Elie Wiesel had written a book on the Passover Haggadah (that even in English reads right-to-left a la Hebrew)

    2)T-Bone Burnett is possibly producing the next Who album

    3)Jeff Schroeder has joined the Smashing Pumpkins

    Good news abounds..Those are signs enough for me!(:

    Before the Tipping Point tips...

    Now all I need is a new laptop,
    some supporters to get us to our Peru and Israel trips,
    and the new David Ruis/Indigika CD...

    oh, and a few friends to be healed of terrible things...
    ..and a missional outbreak of splangizomai

    But Jesus himself may feel he has to wait for the aforementioned Burnett-Who collaboration to come out before he can return...

    In the
    if you truly