Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Vampire Weekend: the safe ecclesiology of headphones

From Chris Leonard:
Call it the evangelical comedown. We don’t talk about it often, but when we do, it’s a tough topic among my friends. I find to my surprise, in a city as diverse as Nashville, that apart from all superficial appearances to the contrary, we share a common bond of evangelical upbringing from which we diverge in several directions. Christian college, like a four year church camp, resulted for many of us in a decade-long comedown that unwound slowly toward various shades of agnosticism, atheism, or re-personalized orthodoxy.

We’ve left countless churches that failed to make a safe space for hard questioning, some of us finally resting elsewhere, many of us nowhere. Largely, the safe space we’ve found has been our headphones — music that opens the imagination and lyrics that re-open the discussion. Tell someone that you listen to David Bazan, Mumford and Sons, or Derrick Brown, and suddenly you’re talking about more than music.
And now, with the release of their third record, Modern Vampires in the City, you can count Vampire Weekend among these.   LINK:  Vampire Weekend and the Evangelical Comedown

Signs and Miracles of Contradiction

Great post by Richard Beck


ISAIAH 8:18 Here am I, and the children the Lord has given me. We are signs and symbols in Israel from the Lord Almighty, who dwells on Mount Zion.

1)Miley Cyrus, C.S. Lewis and the elevation of lizards 2) a doctoral dissertation on Miley's art as racism

I said I would resist the testation to comment on the Miley Cyrus news (CNN here, The Onion here) .

 So I won't...

except by way of linking these two intriguing posts!:

1)Miley Cyrus, C.S. Lewis and the elevation of lizard:
Morgan Guyon connects some dots for me re:  elevation  (see  "of course prayer/Bono  is erotic...until elevated and  Elevation and Suach/ Does God believe in The Edge?
 and C. S. Lewis:
I was completely unaware of what happened with Miley Cyrus because I’m utterly uninterested in pop culture. It came up in the context of a debate I was having with another Methodist blogger about the nature of eros. Basically the blogger was saying that Biblical sexuality must start from a “deep-seated suspicion about sex and caution about its power as a dark force in our life.” I was arguing that a better starting point would be to talk about how rich and beautiful eros is when it’s directed at God, particularly in the adoration of Christ’s body and blood in theEucharistic act, when our eros hasn’t been spewed into a kleenex and tossed into a toilet as a degraded form of fleshlines...

...In C.S. Lewis’s Great Divorce, one of the inhabitants of hell who comes to visit heaven has an ugly lizard clinging to his shoulder and whispering in his ear. An angel asks him if he wants the lizard to be killed. When the man finally lets the angel kill the lizard, he writhes in agony but then the lizard dies, falls to the ground, and is resurrected as a giant stallion that the man climbs upon to ride feverishly off into the mountains chasing the dawn of God’s glory. That is what eros looks like when it has been crucified and resurrected. -full post, "Robin Thicke, Miley Cyrus, and the death of eros"


2) a doctoral dissertation on Miley's art as racism?

However, some have explored their revulsion over Cyrus’ actions and made fools of themselves.Take Vulture columnist Jody Rosen, for example. Rosen is a seer. He saw what no one else saw in Cyrus’ actions. Through his perceptual acumen and years of scholarly training, Rosen identified historical themes of the racial subjugation of African-Americans in Cyrus’ jiggling.
“[T]he shock that Cyrus was peddling wasn’t sex. It was all about race,” Rosen wrote, priming his readers for maximum shock.
“Cyrus has spent a lot of time recently toying with racial imagery,” he adds, revealing the disturbing fact that he sees racial imagery everywhere.
“Cyrus twerking her way through the video for her big hit ‘We Can’t Stop,’ professing her love for ‘hood music,’ and claiming spiritual affinity with Lil’ Kim,” Rosen continues. “Last night, as Cyrus stalked the stage, mugging and twerking, and paused to spank and simulate analingus upon the ass of a thickly set African-American backup dancer.”
If you’re keeping score, Cyrus is “toying with racial imagery” by virtue of her being a fan of and collaborating with African-American artists and by performing hyper-sexualized dancing with one of her black backup dancers. But this workmanlike presentation of damming evidence continues:
“Her act tipped over into what we may as well just call racism: a minstrel show routine whose ghoulishness was heightened by Cyrus’s madcap charisma, and by the dark beauty of “We Can’t Stop” — by a good distance, the most powerful pop hit of 2013,” Rosen adds.
A doctoral dissertation could (and will) be written on the racial, class, and gender dynamics of Cyrus’s shtick. I’ll make just one historical note. For white performers, minstrelsy has always been a means to an end: a shortcut to self-actualization. The archetypal example is inThe Jazz Singer (1927), in which Al Jolson’s immigrant striver puts on the blackface mask to cast off his immigrant Jewish patrimony and remake himself as an all-American pop star.
Rosen was correct to warn his readers of impending shock. He is probably correct that a “doctoral dissertation could (and will) be written” about Cyrus’ coded racism. This revealing and horrifying truth about what modern academia rewards is especially embarrassing. Rosen seems not to recognize, however, how he is parodying himself and his colleagues with this admission   Embarrassing: Columnist Sees ‘Racism’ in Miley Cyrus’ Twerking ‘Minstrel Act’  by Noah Rothman

Religion without science is blind': Miley Cyrus defends 'forget Jesus' tweet as she responds to backlash

Cracking the Codes: Joy DeGruy, A Trip to the Grocery Store

Ezcerpt from www.crackingthecodes.org:, "A Trip to the Grocery Store": -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


The Sarcastic Lutheran's "Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner and a Saint"

Amazon: Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner and a Saint bu Nadia Bolz-Weber

Promo video by author


Tony Jones:

The fact that Nadia pastors a small church and yet is seen as an expert in all things church would have been unthinkable 15 years ago, when we were all neck-deep in the church growth movement. But now, with house churches and new monastic communities and organic church and slow churches, Nadia’s voice and vision is pitch-perfect for our time. But there’s an even more important reason that her book (and her life) kicks ass. link
Amazon endorsements:

"This is an astonishing book...contagious, honest, captivating...a rare gift...I realize that I'm gushing, but that's what you do when a book inspires and moves and touches you like this one does." (Rob Bell, author of What We Talk About When We Talk About God and Love Wins)
"For anyone who is Christian, interested in Christianity, anti-Christian (or anti-Religion), I recommend this book." (Gordon Gano, lead singer, Violent Femmes)
"Bolz-Weber has such a distinctive voice and outlook, it's amazing she hasn't written more books. Perhaps it's because she's been too busy living the checkered and fascinating life that is the subject of her theological memoir.... Here's hoping her authentic voice continues to preach in more books." (—Publishers Weekly)
"Nadia Bolz-Weber is what you'd get if you mixed the DNA of Louis C.K., Joey Ramone and St. Paul. She is by far my favorite tatted-up, cranky pastor ever. Follow her. Not just on Twitter, but wherever her unique mind takes you. What I'm trying to say is: Buy this book." (A. J. Jacobs, author of The Year of Living Biblically)
"Pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber speaks the truth of our humanity that we too often want to deny. She declares the radical power of God's grace for Jesus' sake that we so often water down rather than daily be drowned in it. Yes, read at your own risk." (Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson, ELCA)
"Funny, raw, and packed with truth, this book is offensive in all the right ways...This book reminded me of why I am a Christian, and I wept with gratitude when I finished it." (Rachel Held Evans, blogger, author of A Year of Biblical Womanhood)
"A wonderful, rule-breaking, stereotype-smashing book that succeeds as a memoir, as a sermon on love, and as a welcome home 'letter' to the rejected. With this book, Nadia will become America's pastor to those alienated from religion but who still crave transcendent purpose and meaning in their lives." (Frank Schaeffer, author of Crazy for God)

Over the Rhine: Meet Me at the End of the World

  • complete album stream here
  • Noise Trade interview here
  • Free download of five songs here

There can be no adequate labels for music this dense, this conflicted, this emotionally charged. Over the Rhine creates true confessional masterpieces that know neither border no boundary.” -Paste

Have you been taught that Christians are sinners and have a sin nature?



related" here

Mumford and Sons "Hopeless Wanderer" video: even better than the real thing?

One opinion on the video:
The greatest trick the devil ever played was convincing the world that he did not exist."-Charles Baudelaire

This past weekend, Mumford  Sons released a new music video for their song "Hopeless Wanderer" from their album Babel. In said video, four comedians—Jason Sudeikis, Ed Helms, Jason Bateman, and Will Forte—dress up like hobo folk singers draped in banjos, acoustic guitars, and drum kits and, for the lack of a better description, rock the fuck out. At one point, Bateman plays the banjo like a finger picking fiend and smashes it like he's in Spinal Tap. Sudeikis has a mental breakdown and falls to his knees while soloing with a drum strapped to his back. All four sit and play their instruments on a boat in the middle of a lake. Forte starts to cry (and Bateman tastes his tears). Forte and Sudeikis also make out.
The video itself is, of course, very funny. And why wouldn't it be? These four dudes are some of the funniest working comedians today, and watching them rock out in an over-the-top manner is guaranteed to be hilarious. Will Forte's beard is just fake enough. Helms' tears are just real enough. The lighting is just Valencia-y enough. The video presents a self-aware and ironic portrait of Mumford & Sons, and it shows that these guys get it. They know that Marcus Mumford looks like a clerk in the Oregon Trail  games and that banjos are inherently goofy and vests are "quirky," which in this case is kind of a stand-in for "stupid" and their folk-stompy style has become so common that it's practically a cliché. They understand! Get it?! Do we get that they get it?
The answer is, yes, we get it. Everyone gets it. And the fact that we get it is the reason that this is the worst music video of all time, and another example of why Mumford & Sons are a terrible, terrible, terrible band.
Outside of this stupid music video, the music Mumford & Sons makes is cont here

Billy Corgan: God as the future of rock music; U2 and Christian rock

Excerpt (see him say it  on video here)

CORGAN: And, you know, they asked 50 artists, "What's the future of rock?" And my answer was, "God". And they said, "What do you mean?" And I said, "Well, God's the third rail of -" What is it? "Social security is the third rail of politics in America". Well, God is the third rail in rock and roll. You're not supposed to talk about God. Even though most of the world believes in God. It's sort of like, "Don't go there". 
I think God's the great, unexplored territory in rock and roll music. And I actually said that. I thought it was perfectly poised. And, of course, they didn't put it in the interview.
RAJPAL: What would you say to Christian rockers, then?
CORGAN: Make better music.
CORGAN: Personally, my opinion - I think Jesus would like better bands, you know?
CORGAN: Now I'm going to get a bunch of Christian rock hate mail.
RAJPAL: But that's interesting - 
CORGAN: Just wait, here's a better quote - 
CORGAN: Hey, Christian rock, if you want to be good, stop copying U2. U2 already did it. You know what I mean? There's a lot of U2-esque Christian rock.
CORGAN: Bono and company created the template for modern Christian rock. And I like to think Jesus would want us all to evolve.  full transcript




Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Death of the Rapture by Lawrence Garcia

by Lawrence Garcia:

The Death of the Rapture Part 1: Why the Next Generation of Evangeicals No Longer Affirm It

The Death of the Rapture Part 2: “Worldviews and Historical Considerations”

The Death of the Rapture Part 3: “The Apocalyptic Worldview”

The Death of the Rapture Part 4: “Apocalyptic Genre”

The Death of the Rapture Part 5: “Why 1 Thessalonians 4:17 Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Means”

get your σπλαγχνίζομαι glasses on

The video is called "Get Service," but I like to call it  "σπλαγχνίζομαι (splagchnizomai) glasses":

on meeting/stalking Paul Newman, Keith Richards, Taylor Swift...and myself

As you can see by the photos, Keith Richards and Taylor Swift are two of the celebrities I have met, and asked for a photo with.

Truth be told, I do not bother celebrities in public.

Ever since 'met' Paul Newman (that story in the video and told in this article)...and (almost) bumped into Chester Thompson in the men's room at a church..

                           .....I have thought about our whole celebrity culture.

I didn't bother Chester...he was, uh, busy.

Check out this  link from Jon Acuff, from "Stuff Christians Like":

Running into famous Christians. (AKA, the “Michael W. Smith Incident.”)

Bono always says "celebrity is currency,"  I'd like to think I'd be as wise as Matt, who left Bono and family alone at Disneyland (see Buzz Outdraws Bono at Disneyland.I'd hate to "spend" or "cheapen" his reserve of currency..

I once wrote:
on not stalking celebrities (Steve Martin or others)..for the sake of their soul.. and mine


trickery in Genesis: "Protestants tend to moralize these passages.."

Richard Beck posts:

Blessed are the Tricksters

Did you ever notice how trickery is rewarded in the book of Genesis?

Consider how Abraham twice--twice!-- passes off his wife Sarah as his sister. He first does this with Pharaoh, and is reward handsomely for the deception (Genesis 12.16): "Pharaoh treated Abram well for her sake, and Abram acquired sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, male and female servants, and camels."
Later on Abraham does the same with Abimelek and, once again, makes out like a bandit (Genesis 20.14-15): "Then Abimelek brought sheep and cattle and male and female slaves and gave them to Abraham, and he returned Sarah his wife to him. And Abimelek said, 'My land is before you; live wherever you like.'"

Protestants tend to moralize these passages, arguing that Abraham's deception is sinful. But the text suggests quite the opposite. Abraham is handsomely rewarded for his trickery in both cases.
Why might that be?

Here's my best guess. In both   CONTINUED

Trickster Dylan: Jeremiah inside empire.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

"What Shall We Do" as midrash on addiction/defining oneself by someone else's standards

Upon taking home the new  and much-expected double album by Pink Floyd, "The Wall," and taking it for a spin..

I complained to my brother, "This isn't worth 50 cents!"

I was wrong.

 Believe it or not, I don't think I ever heard /heard of the song "What Shall We Do?"
which was cut from the album, but showed up in the movie (I never saw it.  I always felt like it wouldn't be worth a buck..oops!)

Until now.
Thanks to the wonderful "Digital Midrash" site, and their page on "Addiction."
They wove the song into this video collage (along with Pedro the Lion's "Almost There" and a  Meg Ryan film (unnamed. anybody?)

Here it is:

The wiki ion the song is here; and some insightful  commentary/midrash  on the song below

What shall we use to fill the empty spaces
Where waves of hunger roar?
Shall we set out across the sea of faces
In search of more and more applause?
Shall we buy a new guitar?
Shall we drive a more powerful car?
Shall we work straight through the night?
Shall we get into fights?
Leave the lights on? Drop bombs?
Do tours of the east? Contract diseases?
Bury bones? Break up homes?
Send flowers by phone?
Take to drink? Go to shrinks?
Give up meat? Rarely sleep?
Keep people as pets?
Train dogs? Race rats?
Fill the attic with cash?
Bury treasure? Store up leisure?
But never relax at all
With our backs to the wall.

The Song in a Sentence

As if in direct answer to Pink wondering how he should fill the final gaps in his wall, a number of modern day vices and other things that keep us from truly connecting with others and ourselves are listed.
While many fans assume that "What Shall We Do Now?" is an expanded version of "Empty Spaces" recorded specifically for the movie, the exact oppsite is true. "Do Now?" was actually slated to appear on the album, but was ultimately replaced with a shortened version because it was felt, as Waters explains in his 1979 interview with Tommy Vance, that the song was "quite long, and this side was too long, and there was EmptySpacesNow2too much of it." Along with its length, its easy to see why Waters' might have been thematically motivated to nix the song from the album. While the lyrics are applicable in a very general way to Pink and his wall, in terms of his narrative arc, our protagonist is ostensibly left on the sidelines as Waters delivers his polemic against a modern, consumerist culture. Thankfully, the song wasn't scrapped entirely, finding a place in their live shows and taking the place of "Empty Spaces" entirely after "Mother" in the movie. Whereas the shorter version rhetorically asks how to fill and complete the wall, the longer "Do Now?" lists a number of ways to do it.
In the aforementioned interview, Roger Waters goes on to state that "this level of the story is extremely simplistic." Simplistic, perhaps, but by no means simple. At the core of "What Shall We Do Now?" is a condemnation of a consumer culture run rampant as well as an attack against the notion that a person should be defined by what he owns and what social trends he hollowly maintains. The implication is that when one bases self worth and identity on the external, he or she is never satisfied, but constantly panged by roaring "waves of hunger" for "more and more applause" (that is, more and more acceptance). While we think such things make us stand out in a "sea of faces," mistakenly believing that we are asserting our individuality through our fancy cars, designer clothes, and workaholic lives, we are in actuality blending in with the rest of the masses who are told to define themselves by these very same social yardsticks. True to the undercurrent of previous songs like "Another Brick in the Wall, Part II," this attempt at individuality (in this case, materialistic/consumerist individuality) is only achieved through conformity to commercialized social norms. Abandoning your personal idea of self EmptySpacesNow3for the one that a collective media says you should be only leads to further dissatisfaction, cycling back into newfound obsessions, new trends, and new, pointless minutiae to govern your life and define who you are.
Yet many have noted that all of the things listed in the song aren't necessarily detrimental, or even all that noteworthy. Sure, the obsessive need to "buy new guitar[s]" and "drive a more powerful car" is lyrically emblematic of a culture that is never satiated , and ""get[ting] into fights," drop[ing] bombs" and "break[ing] up homes" can be said to be the morally empty byproduct of a society always demanding more...but things like "giv[ing] up meat," "leavi[ng ]the lights on," or "send[ing] flowers by phone?" As Roger Waters states in the previously mentioned interview, it's about being "obsessed with the idea of being a vegetarian...adopting somebody else's criteria for yourself without considering them from a position of really being yourself." These things are not inherently wrong - rather, it's the obsession with defining one's self by someone else's standards that leads to personal and social  CONTINUED< LINK

" I have a vision!" "What's the vision?" "Television! "

3:15ff : "I believe in love...money.. poetry, electricity ,cheap cosmetics...I believe in the sky over my head, silver shoes beneath me.. I believe in Las Vegas. I've been there; I know it exists. I believe in you !  I have a vision (What's the vision?) Television! "

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

"There is no truth about the inhuman....except for Christ" and the.artfulness of concentration camps

 I might assume that any readers here would already be familiar with Jacques Lusseyran's amazing "And There Was Light,"   as it made the cut as  one of USA Today's (and Harper Collins')  100 Best Spiritual Books of the Century.

  But since I only found out about it accidentally (in both senses of the term, emphasizing the theological), I would be thrilled if I am now introducing you to Jacques Lusseyran's book, a kind of spiritual autobiography (as one subtitle has it; another edition's subtitle is Blind Hero of the French Resistance ) of this blind man who saw much in  Buchenwald.

It's kind of funny that one review feels the need to say
  Warnings: Some light Christianity. If religion offends you, you might not be as inspired by this book as I was. It's not heavy-handed, though.
Actually, this is not light Christianity, or Christianity lite...it is deeply Christian, even if you don't think the author was officially Christian.

"Glimpse both heaven and hell through the eyes of a man who has lived through both." -- The Los Angeles Times

"This is a magical book, the kind that becomes a classic, passed along between friends." -- The Baltimore Sun

Intriguing quote:

A Nazi concentration camp is highly organized, full of red tape, aimed at persecution and death, but extremely complex, hierarchical and artful to the nth degree. (context)
Here's a stirring section that is nowhere complete online (until now):

We had to form a line and walk. Fast. All around us there were dogs biting the ones who hung back. It was almost impossible to move because of our swollen legs.
I passed through this gateway going in the opposite direction fifteen months later, on April 18, 1945. But here I come to a halt. I can't say how, but it is no longer I who am conducting my life. It is God, and I haven't always understood how he went about it.
I think it would be more honest to warn you that I am not going to take you through Buchenwald, not all the way. No one has ever been able to do it . .{there are] books about Buchenwald.  I can testify that these books come very close to reality.  Still, I can't say that they are 'true.'
          There is no truth about the inhuman; any more than there is truth about death; at any rate not at our side, among us mortal men. Such truth could only exist for our Lord Jesus Christ, absorbed and preserved by him in the name of his Father and ours."
I have riffed on this section in context of U2's "No Line" here.
A large excerpt of the Buchenwald section is here.

An excerpt here dealing with his early days is here .

More excerpts found online below:

"The world of violins and flutes, of horns and cellos, of fugues, scherzos and gavottes, obeyed laws which were so beautiful and so clear that all music seemed to speak of God. My body was not listening, it was praying. My spirit no longer had bounds, and if tears came to my eyes, I did not feel them running down because they were outside me. I wept with gratitude every time the orchestra began to sing. A world of sounds for a blind man, what sudden grace! No more need to get one's bearings. No more need to wait. The inner world made concrete."

"Before becoming the word of a man, even if the man is Mozart, all music is music. A kind of geometry, but one of inner space. Sentences, but freed from meaning. Without any doubt, of all the things man has made, music is the least human. When I heard it I was all there, with my troubles and my joys, yet it was not myself exactly. It was better than I, bigger and more sure."

From the video reading below:
"Only terror and poetry...I learned [in the concentration camp]  that poetry is an act, and incantation, a kiss of peace, a medicine. I learned that poetry is one of the rare , very rare things that can prevail over cold and hatred. No one had taught me this"