Sunday, November 30, 2008

Nothing can prepare you for what you are about to see

Moving and prophetic cover versions of

  • "Purple Haze,"
  • "Fix You,"
  • "I Wanna Be Sedated"
  • "Walk on the Wild Side"


  • "I Will Survive"

are all found by clicking here.
I would start with Coldplay's "Fix You."

Nothing can prepare you for what you are about to see.
But if that scares you; maybe you should watch this bit of explanation below first.

But of course we did it the other way around in our gathering this morning.

Monday, November 24, 2008

"palpable holiness"

Amy Lyons' phrase--

"palpable holiness"

--really captured it for me.

Some call it the "manifest presence" of God,
as opposed to his omnipresence.

Most obviously and definitively in the incarnation of Jesus in a tangible, touchable, "palpable" body,

it seems that God is so lavishly in love with us that he seems to "show up" in a special way in certain seasons, events, people and places. A God who never incarnates in a sham.

The God who is everywhere at all times

seems to visit and inhabit and localize himself in concrete places and specific times..

Recall any moments when for you, "a palpable holiness inhabited the room":

most would mentions intense and intimate times of prayer or healing...often in a corporate worship setting...

...often through a song.

That of course leaves room for individual taste in music style; I am rarely moved by a Gaithre sing; even though my fellow worshipper in the next room is qlmost raptured.

In an insightful article about Frank Zappa's classic concept album, "Joe's Garage," currently being enacted as a dramatic interpretation at Open Fist Theatre in Santa Monica, writer Amy Lyons nailed it for me.

I know...Zappa was not known for being a Christian.

In fact, this album was reviwed in Rolling Stone under the title "Mensch with a Dirty Mind."

But there are times that Zappa's brilliance, complexity and prophetic insight converge; and such is a holy moment.

Just as Zappa's vocal songs from this era are often dirty-minded and provocative;
his instrumentals could often be open-hearted and evocative.

To me, "Watermelon in Easter Hay" ...hey, "Easter," maybe that was his way of referencing that Christ's resurrection evokes longing, aching...and inevitably the only ultimate word for this "beyond words" experience is prayer.

Joyful longing; as C.S. Lewis called it, "Sehnsucht":

"WHAT MORE, you may ask, do we want? ... We do not want merely to see beauty, though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words--to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it. ("The Weight of Glory")

But thank God for Amy Lyons who called it what it is in
"Record Collector News," November-December 2008, p. 10.

"Joe's Garage" worked on a number of levels, but at heart it was about Joe, a musician who lives in a time and place where musical expression...even music...becomes illegal. So by the third disc, he finds himself in prison, sans guitar...and can only dream imagine/long/pray) the notes of a guitar solo:

"Watermelon in Easter Hay".

It is stunning; apocalyptic even:

"If the surface of this opera is cluttered with cheap gags and musical mishmash, its soul is located in profound existential sorrow. The guitar solos that Zappa plays in Joe's imagination burn with a desolate, devastating beauty. Flaws and all, Joe's Garage is Frank Zappa's Apocalypse Now." (Rolling Stone)

Ironically, Zappa might have more easily embraced Christ if Christ-ians had "taken the swagger out" and prayed and lived more honestly in what John Piper calls "broken-hearted joy."

I have heard several live versions of "Easter Hay" over the years, by Zappa and others, but none work for me to the degree that the original studio recording does. Lyons notes that Zappa (who died in 1993) apparently asked his wife to

"never let anyone else play" this desolate, devastating beauty of a song.

I am assuming he knew it carried an anointing, if you will; a "palpbale holiness."


"Though the live band that cranks out the tunes throughout 'Joe's Garage,' is full of top-notch musicians, the moment we hear Zappa playing Zappa, a palpable holiness inhabits the room."

For some, that religious language is due to the "worship" of a venerated "guitar god" eerily playing from beyond the grave.

But religious language is the only language for this wordless prayer.

Finally, several versions of this song have appeared on YouTube.. of course I was most thrilled to find the original (here)

or at, an amazing resource. Here it is (listen to the audio at upper right; the video version also there is a differently tempo-ed and live version..without the ache of the studio version):

Frank Zappa – Watermelon In Easter Hay – Listen free at

The piece is introduced (and concluded) by the whispered voice of Zappa, playing the narrating role of The Central Scrutinizer. He of course represents and incarnates The System...any system/machine/industry that tries to censor freedom of expression/music/prayer. A headsup that the intro includes an unplanned and throwaway F-word, but it soon recovers...and the mood, the notes,the longing, the prayer, the "palplable holiness" enters and inhabits the room.

Dream on, Joe.
Forgive Frank, Father...he didn't know what he was playing/praying..
or did he?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Brian McLaren on the real "bridge to nowhere"

I am so glad Brian McLarn finally posted a video about the Choluteca Bridge.

I had added it below, and to my previous post about this:

"Water...uh, over the bridge"(click)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

cigar to incense, wonder and worship

"...a voice like smoke, from cigar to incense, where it's full of wonder and worship..."

Of course that quote is describing Bob ("prophets always deny being prophets")Dylan.
Of course that quote is by Bono.

That connects me to the classic quote attributed to Bach:

"I smoke my pipe and worship God."


It was Bruce Cokburn (another Bono favorite...and yours if you live in this zone of the internet)
who once envisioned dust and diesel as incense:

"Dust and diesel
Rise like incense from the road
Smoke of offering
For the revolution morning

photo of my me yours

all of church/internet/Kingdom/life is a

nexus web

at heart,
I love the Nexus application. Thanks to Mike "What Mike Really Thinks"Croghan,
his story on this here.

Here's my Nexus, you may be in it.

It's all physics, anyway (see"Christianity as a branch of physics" )..
As long as I don't justify this to justify/baptize this as the "new physics" that St Mike Roe and the Lost Dogs prophesied so well about.
I might lose my six degrees of sanctification..

Related: great book:
"Nexus: Small Worlds and the Groundbreaking Science of Network"

climb the rock w/me

St Matt ("Where the Hell is Matt" 3.0)
in this video clip (15:50ff) about his exploits, sheds some light on one of my top places to visit next..

I mean, I survived
> this ("Uh..I have been flying for almost forty years, and not only was that turbulence not normal, but it was a hundred times worse than I even knew was possible.")
> this,
> even this ..

Surely I can do the rock...if Tom comes w/me.

"Where the Hell is Matt" 3.0

You must become familiar with "Where the Hell is Matt"?

Start here;
and then come back enjoy the sequel below...this time he rallies others into wiki-dancing.
And as usual, the song rocks:


Matt explains this new video, and how he got "2, 387 people around the world to dance badly" with him:

Another presentation here

fascinating definition of purity

Don't scroll down yet, and think for a minute how you define 'purity'.
Then read:

"Our song 'It's OK' caused controversy because of the word 'hell' in the lyric, and has been pulled from several Christian stores in the U.S., despite the fact it has touched many people profoundly. For us boys, this is a case of 'let's keep anything impure away from the church' when, in my opinion, purity is all about bringing justice to a God-less society.." -Martin Smith of Delirious
context: an article on Delirious lyrics that God has used


see also:

Car Crashes make the Church Delirious

homosexuality and the church

Chris Seay (see "Pastor sends Sodomites to island; gets stoned") and Shayne Wheeler on homosexuality and the church; from

postindustrial, beyond-organic, and pastoral

"[Being] pastoral...or 'beyond-organic'...might appear to be preindustrial, but in surprising ways turns out to be postindustrial."
-Michael Pollan

No, he's not talking about church at all (it's page 8 of a book about food: "The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals")...or is he??

Any book that quotes Wendell Berry as much as this one does must be about church.

One of his conclusions:

"there exists a fundamental tension between the loic of nature, and the logic of human industry, at least as it is presently organized. Our ingenuity in feeding ourselves is prodigous, but at various points out technologies come into conflict with nature's way of doing things, as when we seek to maiximize efficiency by planting crops or raising animals in vast monocultures. This is something nature never does, always and for good reasons practicing diversity instead." -p.9

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Rev. Clayton on "what you believe,what's truthful, what's relevant to your life "

In the stretching times the economy is currently junctured in..
in the fearful hope and hopeful fear we are juxtaposed in..

it would seem prime time for the liminal landscape that only the church can call the culture into.

Zoo TV/Zooropa
was certainly designed to speak to its times (1990s),
yet there is something prophetic and proleptic about how it speaks into the season we are now in.

In a rare interview montage from this era, Adam Clayton's insight (7:43ff) is helpful:

"I think Europe is much more geared up for the future, in a way, than America was before this election. I think Europe is generally looking forward to the turn of the century (and) a little bit more cynical about the grip of the media upon it. So I think..these two ideas of the turn of the century, and the media as such and what you believe and what's truthful and what's relevant to your life and how much of it's under your own control... are
issues that are going to be valid in Europe over the next ten years.

I think the unification of Europe is going to present as many problems as it solves..people are aware of I think what we're going be be trying to do is touch on those issues, and not necessarily preach to anyone, but certainly in our own way, within in the context of the ZOO TV (Zooropa) Tour is perhaps have our own particular unity..the 'United Colors of Zooropa' or whatever.
I think it will be a ray of sunshine in a very bleak year"

So many things stand out! Among them, if only the church could microcosmically and counterculturally...and "without necessarily preaching"... model Kingdom community, colors and alternate reality. "Church within the church"
is nothing new..but it's time to try it!

It likely will take a touch of postmodern and postexilic simulacra and a taste of the orthodox "holy fool" (see bottom of this page) a way that is sensitive to the '00s...maybe in the more subdued irony that U2 has captured recently.
No horns.

Maybe one.

St Tim Neufeld has caught the relevance of 90s U2 for our times.
"As usual, U2 was ten years ahead of their time."
...As always when you enter the present by the back door/trap door of the future.

(one should not that Larry Burkett wrote "The Coming Economic Earthquake" in
the early 1990s, and he died with people saying he was a false prophet)

But within "our own tour" (Steve Taylor's language, as well: "tourism can serve as a redemptive framework for postmodern mission, in which people are `tourists' on spiritual journeys and the church operates as `tour guide,' stimulating forward movement and nourishing the quest." (p.83, "The Out of Bounds Church?") , and "in our own way"..
let "our own particular unity" shine.

About the "ray of sunshine in a very bleak year."

Clayton smiles, as he is well aware of the irony; the album and tour they were crafting as he spoke (Zooropa) was their bleakest ever..but what better technique/techbleak than to embody and incarnate such hopelessness ("Wake Up Dead Man").
No redemption without incarnation.

That comment also connected me to the classic and controversial "The Bright Side of Life"
from Monty Python's "Life of Brian."
If you think that was pure heresy, you haven't heard Jesus sing the song/;lament/dirge that the Biblle itself tells us was "Doe of the Morning"..

He sang it on a cross.

How else does one subvert and hijack dread, except via a ridiculous but redemptive whistling in the dark..

which is always the times we're in.

Some times even more so.
That's even better than the realer thing.

A few years ago, I wrote about dismantling death:


All this emphasis on the critical nature of prophetic weeping and lamenting . reminds that deep imside, no matter how numbed-over; no matter how deathed-down we are all crying. Or at least crying to cry. We intuitively know that tears are not only healing but prophetic. But we hide behind a mask, and only cry the tears of a clown.”

In the 9O’s Bono often wore a mask. For dismantling death and consumerism in that neo-nihilistic era, that was the proper costume. But the 00’s are a time to “pray naked.”

Bono: (Paul McGuinness) would sit me down and say, “You have what it takes. You must have more confidence in yourself and continue to dig deeper. And I don’t be upset or surprised when you pull something out of the depth that’s uncomfortable.”
Assayas: So you discovered things that, on first glance, you’d rather have kept hidden? What were those?
Bono: The gauche nature of awe, of worship, the wonderment at the world around you. Coolness might help in your negotiation with your world, maybe, but it is impossible to meet God with sunglasses on. It is impossible to meet God without abandon, without exposing yourself, being raw. That’s the connection with great music and art, and that’s the other reason you wanted to join a band: you wanted to do the cool thing. Trying to capture religious experiences on tape wasn’t what ypu had in mind when you signed up for the job.
Assayas: What about your own sunglasses, then? Do you wear them the same way a taxi driver would turn off his front light, so as to signal to God that this rock star is too full of himself and not to hire at the moment?
Bono: Yeah, my insincerity… I have learnt the importance of not being earnest at all times. You don’t know what’s going on behind those glasses, but God, I can assure you, does. (53-54)

Sans glasses, still wearing wisdom, and more irony than one might think. It’s just been properly retooled and “dreamed up again” for a new millennium. He’s still a

“Holy Fool,” which is a wonderful tradition of the Eastern Church who periodically pops up here in the West. In the Russian tradition, some of the saints would do almost anything to avoid being perceived as saints. One of them kept offering to wrestle bears so people would think him a nut and not praise him as a saint. In the West, St. Philip Neri acted goofy, partly because he enjoyed being a goof and partly to throw people off the scent of his sanctity and keep them from gushing over him. When offered a cardinal's hat, he proceeded to play football with it. Currently, we saw something of the Holy Fool in Forrest Gump a few years ago. All such fools have one thing in common: they know they are not wise. Similarly, those who are convinced of their innate wisdom are invariably great ninnies. It's far better to be a fool for Christ than to be a fool on one's own. Today, thank God for the folly that is his wisdom.

1 Corinthians 3:18: Let no one deceive himself. If any one among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise.
-Mark Shea, Daily Cathloc Exchange Devotional, Aopril 1, 2005

He’s still a holy fool, just more stripped down and streamlined. Far more subtle, no devil mask. But how is is that, on this current tour, he can dedicate “Running to Stand Still” to the troops in Iraq with a straight poker face, let alone without a McPhisto/devil mask to make the irony obvious? Does no on get it? Has anyone booed? No, they applaud what they perceive as patriotism (and they are partly right) and miss and misunderstand the subtle point (War is an exercise in death; in futility, and in standing still). Applaud is what they should do……but for another reason altogether: the singer has just brilliantly and understatedly (!) pulled off a holy fool moment. And dismantled death even. Even if not many “get it.”


Richard Inchausti:

The point that many moderns fail to grasp about Christian thinkers is that they have very little interest in changing the world. They seek merely to see things clearly in the light of God's hidden logic. And if by so doing they expose the narcissism of their contemporaries, the false agendas of their leaders, the didactic pornography of their artists and entertainers-well, that is all to the good. But unlike their more utilitarian peers, they desire to live in the truth even more than they desire to be effective in the world. ...Evil manifests itself in absence of perception, and in the negation of Being more than it does in the presence of stupidity, violence or even hatred. It is more often than not a species of folly-a commitment to "virtues" that are not really virtues...It wears a suit or a uniform, waves a flag and has credentials. That is why the primary moral task from a Christian perspective is first to perceive evil. And this requires that one see what isn't there and through things that are. This is possible only for someone who is suspicious of virtre and believes in a greater reality than his own. What the Christian mysteries require from us is not that we construct a better world, but that we love and serve the one we are given. As one Parisian graffiti artist wrote in 1968:: "the intellectuals have hitherto only changed the world, the point is to understand it." This is a decidedly contemplative observation, one that confirms Blake's suspicions of the new aesceticism and Kierkegaards' view that even if someone were to speak the Word of God directly today, no one in the modern world would hear it, simply because there is too much noise and distraction. The function of the modern apostle, therefore, is to create the silent contemplative places where individuals can
experience truth for themselves.
-Subversive Orthodoxy: Outlaws, Revolutionaries and Other Christians in Disguise. pp187-189

Two rare and rogue Bono songs

1)How in the world did I miss a 2006 CD collection of "celtic folk" and "gritty seafaring standards"
with singers like:

Nick Cave, Richard Thompson, Lou Reed, Bryan Ferry, Loudon Wainwright III
and Ed Harcourt..

Surely Bono must show up in such a collection.

It was Johnny Depp's brainstorm.
So Bono turned up.

The collection:

"Rogue's Gallery CD:A collection of Pirate Ballads, Sea Shanties/Chanties"

Bono's song (lyrics and video below, audio here, along with other Bono rarities):

"A Dying Sailor to His Shipmates"

Oh, wrap me in my country's flag, and lay me in the cold blue sea
Let the roaring of the waves, my solemn requiem be
And I shall sleep a pleasant sleep, while storms above their vigils keep

My Captain brave shall read for me, the service of the silent dead
And yea shall lower me in the waves, when all the prayers are said
And I will find my long, long home, among the billows and the foam
Farewell my friends for many a league, we've sailed together on the deep
Come let us shake our hands, I'll sail no more, but shipmates wear for weep

I'm bound above, my course is run
I near the port, my voyage is done


2)Easier to understand is
"How in the world did I miss a 1997 CD collection of Jimmie Rodgers standards"..but with
singers like:

Van Morrison, Alisson Kraus, Bob Dylan..

Clearly Bono would sign up for such a cast.

He did.

The collection:
The Songs Of Jimmie Rodgers - A Tribute

Bono's selection, this one's not celtic or pirate, but a bit rogue(:

"Dreaming With Tears In My Eyes" (video below)


>And in case anyone doesn't know Bono and Lanois' great midrash on Phillipians 2, click
"Falling at Your Feet" in the hospital.

>and just in case it doesn't show upon the new U2, (as Bono psuggested to Brian Williams), enjoy Lanois' version of the prayer, "Thank You for the Day" here

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Manning and Peterson double header

Brennan Manning on a judgment day question:

Eugene Peterson on artists:

Sunday, November 09, 2008

"now entering border region"

There are not always (literal) signs when we enter

or are there?

(photo/post link

Here is a pic of my daughter
in the Garden of the suggested possible sites for
the tomb of Jesus. Her pose is to say something like
"Huh-LO!? It's empty!!"

Friday, November 07, 2008

more insights from the irish prophets on wikichurch spirals


(or better yet,
keeping in healthy rhythm,
controlled chaos)

the reality that
  • I am in some senses still clearly the leader/chief presenter/preacher/head liturgist


  • the open mic (microphones themselves raise crucial questions; see chapter 38 of Pagitt's "Preaching Reimagined") wikichurch, collaborative, open source event that happens during our "sermon" times that temporarily make the congregation "leader/chief presenter/preacher/head liturgist"

is a delightful and dangerous undertaking.
("Perfect and dreadful," as the Pritzl sings)

But the something that Spiritaneously happens in the interchange is remarkably similar to what U2 often describe as happening in concert, as in this vintage interview clip. I often talk about the "holy helix" and "spiral" (since that "shape" seems to be at the core of reality:string theory, DNA , "spiral dynamics" etc) of rhematic God-moments. So when Bono said (1:37ff) "what makes a good concert is when both {the band's giving of themselves and the audience doing the same] spiral up and up and up" I really resonated.

"We can give as much as we've got, ..but if you don't get anything back, it's not a good concert{sermon, liturgy}"

I must say that when Bono literally preaches, the energy of the congregation (even if it's an NAACP awards meeting) does indeed feed him (see the closing moments on the video at bottom of this page...oh that all churches were black churches in spirit)..Or watch his prayer breakfast sermon..The Lord will watch your backas you do!

One can see how Hegel was so (rightly) impressed with the process of God working in history/dialectic/synthesis that he (wrongly) identified the process itself as God (Geist, Begriff, or in Bono's lexicon, Soul).

Yes, I am aware this is a reductionist, oversimplified view of Hegelian thought...but hey, with Hegel, that's the only kind of view we can ever express! Hey, let's all contribute to the Wikipedia article on Hegel...and watch Geist happen).

But it calls to mind that the process/spiral/liminal and laminal
helix of interaction is so God-breathed that it would be no surprise one would mistake it for the real thing...or even better than the real real thing.. (Simulacra Geist).

And all of life is potentially like that holy synthesis/synesthesia...the interplay and integration of elevation and vertigo, etc.

It's common to hear U2 say that they "don't know what the songs are about until they get on the road," but Edge's thoughts (3:17ff):

" all our producers tell us we should write our songs, but not record them until we've toured them a couple years..because the material gets better and better as we feed from the a sense, the interaction between us and the crowd gives us a new insight into the songs themselves."

But it Tony Jones is right that "99 percent of churches in America don't allow just anyone to speak at any time, especially members with checkered pasts " (p. 92, "The New Christians").

..what are we missing in lit-urgy ('the work of the people')?

Bono (3:50ff in response to a question about "spiritual communication with your fans" ):

"We feel very close to our audience because we are just the same as our audience. We came from an audience..the only difference is the stage"

Someone suggested a more appropriate name for the sermon as a


I like that for several reasons: it subverts the idolatry of place (edifice complex) with a place name (we can be more concerned with real estate than our real ESTATE)..

and it inspires us to look for the holy habitats/inhabitations that the Holy One has promised.
But I can be too concerned as a "preacher" with being
right, that I wind up irrelevant.

No wiki with people, no habitation of God.

ALSO: The Edge speaks well to rhema preaching (Bono once startled us by adressing that biblical term directly in a Rolling Stone interview, scroll down to the 10/20/05 posting here for Beth and her commenters discussion of this) in 5:27 of the video clip.

I have two saints in mind here that I'd like to learn from, regarding wikichurch.

"Mother" Beth
commented on my last post about "what can we learn about preaching from U2" that she applied the lessons to liturgy, and not JUST preaching. That has blessed and stretched me, as I am still detoxing from fundagelicalism and lo-church. I don't know all that that looks like...maybe something like this pic (click for story).

Rabbi Adam of Beit-Tefillah Messianic Fellowship .when some our goy-tribe joined them on a recent Saturday morning service, I particular enjoyed the prayers for each Torah and Scripture reader (ah, participatory worship, synagogue style) even tough they were "only" (or not!!) the congregation reading a prayer off the screen. "Bess John, son of Charles," as he reads..

Finally, I might even believe that Bono's answer (1:28) to the question,

"Why did you name the album 'Joshua Tree'?":

"Joshua was a personal friend of mine."

is not only a throwaway joke but also a "drawing fish in the sand" of the real answer.
And itself part of the point..the interviewer (audience with a microphone) drew that truth out of Bono.

(Can't wait for U2 to cover "Jesus is a friend of mine"...especially if Rabbi Adam and Mother Beth....and a ton of "laypeople" sing backing vocals...that sounds like church to me!)

Thursday, November 06, 2008


I was once asked:
Dream duet (or two bands you'd love to see join up)?

Gee, this just happened...U2 and Green now I'll wait for Kate Bush, Sinead O'Connor, Bob Dylan and Keith Green to sing alongside the Violet Burning/77s/U2 while Neil Peart ,Chester Thompson, and Keith Moon drum...gee, that might cause the rapture.
Because when one thinks of drummers whose invocations could be rapture/Armaggddon-inducing, Karen Carpenter does not show up.
Which is why some folk my age are still upset about Karen Carpenter (seriously!) winning the Rolling Stone "Drummer of the Year" award over Led Zeppelin's John Bonham..

Even though that was clearly a sin;
it may not have been the unpardonable sin....
so it probably deserves a pardon..

They're both dead..get over it.

Anybody (well, not me) can play a flashy solo, or fill a fill;
but I love the smart ones who can do that
but also/instead
can understate,
can be creatively "on a roll,"
can march to the beat of a different timer.

Neil Peart is an artist and genius, but you knew that.

Brand X , a band you've never heard of, cut some great jazz in the 70s, and their unknown dude on the drums (Phil Collins) sounded freer than ever.

Here are some of my favorite drummers and kairotic drumming moments; how about yours?

I'll start with the sublimely subtle:
Jason Lord Maize played at our church w/The Violet Burning,


Here he is on "Gorgeous":

Speaking of timing (and Genesis ); now the subtly sublime and insanely sane time signature:

The "Apocalypse in 9/8" section of Genesis's 24 minute exorcism epic/commentary on Revelation, "Suppers Ready"...whether with Bill Bruford (as below) or the classic St Chester..
After the amazing drum section, dare you to NOT worship along to the lyrics and passion of Phil with the
"There's an angel standing in the sun/
And he's crying with a loud voice, This is the Supper of the Mighty One/
....the Lord of Lords, King of Kings has returned to lead His children home/
To take them to the new Jerusallllllllleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeem"
(excuse me, that part raptures me every time) section at 6:39ff

From Wikipedia

The song has been highly regarded by fans for its epic nature and cathartic climax, with Gabriel in particular delivering an emotionally charged vocal performance at the close of the song. Referring in part to the song's lyrical depiction of a struggle between good and evil, Gabriel has been quoted as saying he felt he was "literally singing for his life" in the recording studio. In contrast, Hackett is said to have responded to a fan who enthused "Steve, I actually saw God at the end!" with the rather more down-to-earth "Well, I was just trying to get the notes right"

Ok, the clip:

( audio here)

I cannot NOT mention Larry Mullen, Jr. of U2..especially his unappreciated moments on an unheard "worship album": "October." On a song that U2 haven't played for nearly 25 years "With a Shout (Jerusalem)," Larry played some drums I have never gotten tired of for 25 years.
And I was thrilled that someone (Ian Kelly) shares my awe for another amazing Mullen moment:

I have many favorite Larry moments but I would have to go with his thunderous drums on the Rattle And Hum film version of "With Or Without You". The drums in that performance are absolutely amazing, and help to make that my favorite version of "WOWY". He really seems to be in his own world during that performance, which I believe was one of the first times they ever played that song live.
And at the climactic point just before Bono explodes with the added verse of "Yeah, we'll shine like stars in the summer night...," Larry, sitting with his headphones on, seems to slip away into his own private universe, playing as fast as humanly possible and showing his true emotion and love for the song. I love the way the spotlights come down on him too like he was alone up there on his drum riser. The energy is indescribable!
-- Ian Kelly,

I love 2:49, when we first realize, "Wow, he's really into it today; something's about to happen(In U2 lexicon, God is about to walk through the room) ; then if you watch from
3:35, you are primed for the section Kelly mentions (4:19-4:43). I can't live with or without that section; that half minute may well have restored my soul and saved my life. It's my pastor "after church" song; Mullen himself says "that song never made sense on the radio; maybe in church":

Manu Katche, playing for Peter Gabriel, 4:21ff:

Keith (no last name needed) from 7:25:

Here's a classic '78 clip of two of the best drummers ever (Thank God one of them is still alive, I just wish he would tour, he's an animal!):

Bottom line, my favorite drummer on the planet lives with me, so get to hear him practice (Thank God he didn't take up violin! ). He wears my jeans and my genes. He's brand new at drumming; and you can find an assortment of his early jams here...Here's a clip made before he had a single lesson, just experimenting:

That does cause a dad's heart to experience rapture..

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

the new elevates the old

The rabbi will likely have a better word for it;
he has a great section on this topic in his book..

About the relationship between old and new,
and Matt 5:17-21:

someone has said

"The New Covenant did not abolish the Old, it elevated it."

They footnote that word with:

Isaiah 42:21 “…He will magnify the Law and make it honorable.” Honor figures heavily into the marital covenant!
Of course, eleven out of ten regulars around this blogthing will get why I love that choice
of words.

The rest of you, click this.

a beach bum on missional house church

It can be tough and terrifying to keep house church from defaulting to koinonitis or cultic.

Maybe even from being marginally missional.

And an insular insula.

Check out the phrases I have highlighted in excerpts from
Kyle ("God, beach and breasts" )Phillip's

He is no missional slouch.

You know the opposite (and in some senses worse?)
ditch would be a house church that did outreach in a cheesy old school buttonhole 'em with 456 spiritual laws..

We are living in a day when the Lord is stirring in remarkable ways to restore the church in our land. If you're like us, you've experienced forms of institutionalized church that fall short in fulfilling Jesus' mandate to "make disciples." Throughout our culture many who profess Christ "hold the form of religion, but deny the power of it" (2 Timothy 3:5). Too often church leaders (at both local and denominational levels) serve the best interests of the religious institution rather than the cause of Christ. As we work to fulfill the Lord's call to us, we see the "house church" as a way of being the church that looks like the New Testament church. ...

...We believe that Jesus is fully present in the lives of his followers whenever two or three are gathered in his name to watch over one another in love (Matt. 18:20). We recognize the value of various kinds of small groups like Bible studies and prayer groups. However, we believe that the "house church" is a renewed form of church that the Lord is using in our day to equip the body for more effective outreach and ministry.

When we say "house church" we mean a small gathering of believers meeting regularly under the care of gifted, equipped and called leadership to share the Word of God, the Sacraments, mutual accountability, praise and worship, and outreach. We expect a house church to be a gathering
"where divine life and power is manifestly present to glorify God and meet the needs of repentant human beings"
(p. 246, Dallas Willard, Renovation of the Heart).

A healthy house church conforms to the description of the early church found in the Book of Acts.... And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. (Acts 2:46,47) A house church has its own spiritual integrity. It is not merely an adjunct small group of a larger group that is somehow more "church." While it participates with broader expressions of the church in the community in which it resides, a house church is nevertheless fully church. The Holy Spirit is present and at work within the gathered body to equip the saints for the work of ministry (Eph. 4:12) through sacrament, word, order, and outreach...
-Kyle Phillips, full article here

St Mike Nesmith on genius and madness

"If genius is the ability to see analogy;
certainly madness is the ability to see analogy where none exists."

A great quote, uttered in passing, but nails it.

You might laugh when you recognize who said that, in this video clip (oo:49ff),

but anyone who is familiar with Mike Nesmith (beyond The Monkees) knows he too is an eccentric genius, and master of analogy.
Not only did his mom invent Liquid Paper
(that phrase itself incarnates oxymoron/paradox/analogy):

“One of the places (my mother and I) both connected was in our appreciation of the spiritual nature of the artistic and innovative experience, and how to bring that into practical, everyday use. She was very interested in taking this idea that she had pieced together from her work as a commercial artist and secretary and making it available to a lot of different people. She was always combing and rinsing her thinking to make sure that she was developing the idea according to a higher spiritual sense of it.”
-Mike Nesmith

..but did you know about Nesmith's
Council on Ideas, a "gathering of intellectuals from different fields who are asked to brainstorm solutions to world problems"?).

I am sure he realized he was paraphrasing Aristotle in the quote:

“The greatest thing by far is to be master of is also a sign of genius, since a good metaphor implies an intuitive perception of the similarity in dissimilars.”
(Poetics, 1459 a 5-8, "The Basic Works of Aristotle")

If Jesus "never opened his mouth once without speaking an analogy-metaphor-parable," (Matt 13:34-35)..

then surely the essence of prophetic genius (and "apostolic genius") is to do the same.

Our primary job as communicators is to find, exploit, and communicate connections between two apparently unrelated things; modelling the great connectedness of all things in the Freakonomic Kingdom.

It's the New Physics, as St Mike Roe sings.
It's holy synesthesia.
It's Keltic Ken's turf (his puns and wordplays make God's day).
It's an art that both Eugene Peterson and Bono handle well
(I guess as they are both poets at heart, so they can do no other);
maybe that is why the two admire each other:

“Prophets are characteristically masters of metaphor. Metaphor is the witness of language to the interconnectedness of all things visible and invisible….When prophets use metaphor, we get involved with God whether we want to or not, sometimes whether we know it or not…. If we are lucky, a prophet, one of the descendants of Hosea, or Jonah, or Habakkuk, shows up and with the simple expedient of a metaphor, said or sung, drags us outside into the open air when all the stuff we are studying is alive and moving and colliding with us. For many these days, it is U2 that shows up.”
-Eugene Peterson , Preface to "Get Up Off Your Knees : Preaching the U2 Catalog"

So to follow the second thesis of Nesmith's logic,
I think of well-meaning believers who see signs of God everywhere, and make connections everywhere....and fail to see that such can sometimes may be
too much caffeine (ironically, one of the benefits of that drug is that it kickstarts the brain into recoognizing analogy) ,
or a bit of temporary madness or zeal...

and/or the real thing!
The catch is:
genius and madness are often a fine line apart.

Just a different drum

P.S. Sometimes it is helpful (sometimes mad) to define ourselves (or God) by what we (he) are NOT; it's the underside of analogy....see Mike's second song here:

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

"we'll make up our story as we go along"

As a kid, I felt that somehow this Monkees (!)song was a prayer (God talking to us and vice versa)

It's from the "Head" movie the Monkees made...scene w/Zappa here:

OF Course it also featured Jack Nicholson, Terri Garr, Annette Funicello...

Not to mention a preview of ZOOTV:

St. Rich "Making vs. Being Made"

St. Rich Mullins article below:

(more about Rich see

Homeless Man: Rich Mullins


Recognizing Apostles)

from "Making/Being Made," Release Magazine:

The Bible is a very great book. It is the written witness to God's revelation of Himself in His Word: Jesus Christ. And, if you like, you can make a great deal of it.

You can speculate about it: This will make you a philosopher and people will think you are deep and very smart.

You can pontificate on it: This will make you a preacher and people will marvel at your courage and gift for oratory.

You can adulate it: This will make you its number one fan. You can display your very fine collection of its various versions all over your house.

You can attack it: This will make you a skeptic and people will admire your honest, blind determination to live in your grim, faithless little world.

You can adapt it: This will make you a youth pastor or a Christian musician or a feminist theologian or a popular author. You, too, can be the icing on a cake.

You can systematize it: This will make you a theologian and people will quote you and regard those quotes as some sort of authority.

You can criticize it: This will make you a scholar - and those who are not put off by your egg-headedness will confer on you M.A.'s and D.D.'s.

You can theorize about it: This will make you an expert in biblical slants on contemporary issues like political science, psychology, church growth, economics, sex, and marriage.

You can ponder it: This will make you a mystic and people will turn to you for spiritual advice (and from you when they get it).

You can practice it: This will make you a model citizen - a fair, generous, and righteous (if somewhat uptight) person.

Of course, what we make of the Bible will never be as great a thing as what the Bible will - if we let it - make of us. For that which is born of the flesh - our human understanding and handlings - is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit - God's revelation of Himself and the power of that revelation to enliven us - is spirit. The will of man will not ultimately prevail against the will of God. It is the will of God that we should know Him as He revealed Himself and that will has not only survived the arrogant attacks of scientific and "enlightened" men, it has (even more miraculously) thrived in spite of our best intended, though sadly misguided attempts at "rightly dividing" that seamless robe of revelation.

So, let us press on with no faith in our own understanding and nothing but faith in the Truth that is too great to be diminished by our feeble minds and too great to not transform us. Salvation comes from God, not from our cleverness. The Bible is a very
great book. Let us submit to it so God may do the great work of making us into a great people."
-Rich Mullins

Catch the line, "I did not make it/No, it is making me" in Rich's Creed:

Calls to mind a rare antique U2 instrumental, "Things to Make and Do"

We is one bad rag

So often due to our Western/modernity/Christendom mindset-worldview,

we completely misunderstand ..and "misundertake" Scriptures..

especially in an individualistic (and dualistic) way.

(see "I am in sin if I 'avoid the appearance of evil'")

How many have heard a sermon on "our righteousness is like filthy rags" (Isaiah 64:6) which was all abouy our individual sins/filthy habits...

not grasping that it actually says "All of us (as one, together) have become like one who is unclean/Together, our (one, corporate) righteousness is like filthy rags. "

Sure, we were found individually unrighteousness; but the "more than the sum of its individual parts" corporate unrighteousness is what is primarily commented on here

As usual, the King James only trips us up even more:

"all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags"

Sounds like each individual has several "unrighteousnesses"...which of curse we rread as bad habits..

But it's more akin to, we are a "committee of buzzards" (see "A Crash of Rhinos...a Committee of Buzzards"); or better yet one bad buzzard.

(Not to be confused with "One Bad Pig")

Sure, we go bowling and do "Judo Alone"...and that is sin, but we are worse off as "alone together."
Likewise, Isaiah 53:

" We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to their own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all."

..not fundamentally "the iniquity of each individual one," but "the one iniquity (and inequity) of us all as one."

On a related note, follow Derek Flood:

I'd like to share a new take on Romans 3:23 "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."

As an evangelical the interpretation that I had always been taught for this verse is that it means that everyone has done something wrong, we all have lied for example, and because God is holy this means that we need to be punished with Hell, even for one small infraction. Anyone who has grown up in Evangelical circles as I have will instantly recognize this line of argument.

Now I don't deny that sin and separation from God is a reality, and that we as humans need to be reconciled into a personal relationship with God. I wholeheartedly affirm that as an Evangelical. But reading through Romans, I do not think that Paul here was intending to present this verse as a kind of moral score card...

What I think Paul is saying here is that because we all are sinners, this wish for God to wipe out the "bad guys" means we would be wiped out too. That's why he says God held back (πάρεσιν), because God wanted to show his righteousness and justice in a different way, though Christ now making us right (v 26). This is what Luther called "God's alien justice" making us right with him though God's righteousness. It's not a quid pro quo payback justice, its a justice that justifies - that sets us aright. This new way in Christ is the way of redemption instead of wrath. That means that in this context, Ro 3:23 is not some sort of judicial score card, it is a statement of non-violence. Paul is saying: look I know you want to see people being judged, I know you want to see those who have oppressed and hurt you get hurt back, but that way is a deathtrap because we all are guilty, we all have hurt and been hurt. This vicious cycle of blame will only perpetuate injustice. It's not just them over there, it's all of us, and so we all need mercy and redemption.

That's Paul's message here in its original context. Not one of petty accounting where the smallest infraction has the most severe consequence, but a recognition of our own brokenness and need - even as religious people, especially as religious people - to live in mercy and grace.

See also