Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Down and Somewhere

I think we all grow up with this mean trick played on us by some childhood ghost. It whispers in our ear all our life that our father is perfect. He is our hero. He can do no wrong, and everything he says must be gospel, because he's Dad. I am one of a dwindling number of sons whose fathers stuck around and did well. I suppose that's all the more reason why I'm plagued by naive hope of reconciling differences with my father and agreeing to disagree on some things.

My dad is a very Godly man. He grew up under the tutelage of his mother, who was a very wise and loving woman - though she had her faults too, she was quite stubborn. I guess I've got the paternal side of the family to thank for that trait. But despite our transgressional heirlooms, he is a man that comes from a line of Godly men. According to Ezekiel though, that doesn't really matter, so I suppose I'll leave it alone. He and I simply disagree on many issues involving the church. This isn't so bad, we agree fully on many others. The problem is that I am - being his firstborn - compelled to be involved in most programs at the church, since he is the minister of music. I wouldn't mind, except that I have such a hard time dealing with the way music is run in the church, especially in the megachurch sort of venue (eek, should that word even apply to church?). My church may not be considered to be a megachurch by many, but if it isn't, it's certainly shopping for tickets to that ever-so-popular destination. I can't really worship God through music the way it's done there. It's not the style, it's the force behind it. It's the fact that people are there. And I've heard and I've preached that it's not about who's standing around you. Close your eyes. Don't think about the person standing next to you. Sing this to God. I am still stuck with remnants of self-consciousness most of the time, and there's nothing worshipful about self-consciousness. Worship is attributing worth to God through your actions and thoughts, not worrying about Are my hands up in the air? Should they be? Other people might think your too holy. You don't want to come off as too holy! What about halfway? What if people think there's something wrong, that I've got problems in my life? I don't want to tell them about my problems. Am I singing too loud? Not loud enough? If I sing the harmony, people will think I'm showing off, but I like the harmony. Am I worshipping well enough? Is what I'm doing worship? Maybe I'm not putting enough feeling into it. If I don't put feeling into it, is it not worship? Should I close my eyes? People will see. Are my actions leading others to worship God? I don't particularly feel like smiling, I had a crappy day and had an argument with my friend.

If none of these things go through your head, I want to know what drugs your on. Anyways, this coming Sunday is especially distasteful because it's Independence Day Sunday. So we're going to celebrate America. The whole thing usually makes me sick. I'm a very patriotic person when I look at certain things and read and remember certain things, but I hate being manipulated until I weep over something that is just an idea. And we usually celebrate an idea that was, not the reality that is America today. Besides, when problems are discussed, whether related to America or not, they are listened to attentively. They are nodded over and 'Amen'-ed over and people acknowledge their existence in droves, and then nothing changes. So, Kat and I decided we're going to go hiking early Sunday morning and skip out on the festivities (hiking is healthier for me than the mountain of food I would eat at the 4th of July potluck that will follow the service anyway, even though I love food).

Truly though, it's not really that my dad and I disagree on more than just what worship really is. Otherwise, I simply get disenfranchised by his inability to do anything about it, and his disappointment when I don't want to participate. I'm going to go help my wife do dishes.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Claustrophobic Left Foot

My wife has a claustrophobic left foot. It's the only part of her that suffers from this mental malady. The left foot seeks out open space at night and must be above quilt level in order to breathe air and survive without medication. I've known this for a while and gotten used to it long before I was sleeping next to her, but tonight, put in those specific words, it struck us as particularly funny. So of course, I had to get up and write about it so as not to forget.

I cursed Blogger the other day because I lost a post, even though I was the nimrod who didn't save it in Word. It was about the wedding and the aftermath. Having typed it once, I don't think I'll succumb to over-achievement and type it again. So, here's the short version with some add-ons. We flew to DC. It was a lot of fun. Go to the Holocaust Museum and spend three hours for a life-changing experience. Really. Get in line early for free tickets. Okay, so I can't leave that alone. We went to the Holocaust Museum, and I didn't speak much for the rest of the day. Food didn't taste right anymore - not because I was sick to my stomach from gore, but because I didn't feel right eating food, or drinking water, or being excited about anything. I won't tell you I enjoyed it. In fact, I look back on what I know from the experience with great distaste and even hatred. It makes my toes curl up and my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth just thinking of the things I saw and heard. But I did need to see it, and it was.....something. It was spiritual on a level that I'm not sure I am beyond the feebleness of tongue enough to bear witness to. You really should go.

I hadn't ridden on a plane in a good while either. I recalled Lewis's Great Divorce as we lifted through the air and Tennessee faded from calico into a drab earthen blend of dark grey. It was like we were on the last bus to leave earth, and there we were sipping cranberry juice and eating snacks. It made me wonder if that's truly how I'll leave when I die - sitting in a small seat staring out the tiny window at the otherworldly view of clouds below me and a deep periwinkle sky growing darker above me. I wanted to stop the plane and get out to take a look around. I wanted to drink clouds from a glass - a Nimbus on the rocks, with a hint of lime. Or maybe a shot of Cirrus, as straight and cold as they come. Anyways, DC was great, and it was our honeymoon, so that's all I have to say about that. Even though I hate that word - 'Honeymoon', for some reason it conjures up pictures of Steve Martin having a horrible day. It was more like a getaway that we spent just enough time on.

So now I'm back on Earth and I just came in from staring at Venus through a pair of binoculars. All five of the planets that are visible with the naked eye are in the western sky until the middle of next week. Trouble is, there are several trees and a highway in the western sky too, but Venus climbed her way up until she was a handbreadth below Mars and as beautiful as ever. I'm not a great amateur astronomer, but I do like to imagine I can feel the earth turning and moving now and again. It's like the best rollercoaster ride they can make, only better.

I'm looking for a job at present. I'm not much for using this journal this way, but your prayers are appreciated. I'd love to see you at the shows. Info is on my MySpace site. See you soon over the rim of a warm coffee mug.

Monday, June 06, 2005


It's 12:15am EST in Jefferson City, Tennessee. Kat and I had went to code orange today in cleaning the apartment. There was so much stuff on the floor, but we finally got the vacuum put together and most everything put away. It's like something out of the off-brand of Southern Living, but not quite that extravagant.

I spent last week in NashVegas with Arthur and Tracy Alligood at their lovely home where, to Tracy's horror, I slept on the floor (even though that's no surprise to you if you know me). If you want to talk about a vacation, this was it. Andy and I (by the way, Andy was with me) got there in good time and proceeded to play frisbee under the street light after dark. I, of course, threw it over a no-less-than-tall chain link fence and I did some cool Mission Impossible flip move to get over it, stabbing fence metal through my hand in the process. Classic. I gritted my teeth and poured alcohol over it and washed it, and life went on. We sat around with Arthur and Tracy trading out songs and jamming together late into the evening over a few Seagram's ginger ales. Evenings don't really amount to such as that on a regular basis.

We arose early in the misty morning to trek out to the inner 'burbs of Nashville. There we arrived at a cavernous Methodist church where Tess and Kyle were getting married later that day. We got to spend the entire afternoon downtown after the morning rehearsals (simply because we didn't want to drive all the way back to Whitehouse). This brings me to lunch in a pub just down from the Crazy Horse. It was a mouth-water combination of shepherd's pie with real lamb and a White Russian, which I found I like a little better watered down. We walked Broadway a bit and went to the library, where we found a treasure of paintings from the northwest province of China lining the mezzanine. From glance one I was rendered dumb. Adjectives would not suffice. Simple glances wouldn't do. They begged to be experienced. I suppose that's my desire to go to that part of the world and do missions talking, but then I have that desire about many places. Oh, you could feel the desert heat pouring oppressively from the canvases. Impulsive stormclouds brooded on the verge of explosion in one painting. The camels in the foreground tittered nervously along and grunted paranoia to one another in the resonant silence of the library. A hot breeze fought the humidity in vain. The Gobi called seductively.

We returned to the church for the ceremony, where I was surprised and humbled to worship God. We all took communion together. And while Methodists and Baptists aren't too far apart in practice, it was a blessing to take communion with people from the Church who may not necessarily celebrate Jesus' presence the way I do. We had a wonderful time playing and taking part in the ceremony, and afterwards, dancing and eating together. Gosh, they had good meatballs. I could eat Swedish meatballs all my life. Bork, bork, bork.

Andy and I went to church with Arthur and Tracy at a church that they helped plant that met at a middle school. It was good to meet people and immediately be on good terms with them. There was almost nothing for us to be proud of, since we all sat in simple school lunchroom chairs on a white tile floor, looking up onto a small stage that was little more than a concrete alcove. There was nothing ornate, nothing impressive. We were just there, meeting together and hearing what church was about. We sang and listened, and it was great! Following all this (and my attempt to get the pastor to ruin his Aztec by off-roading over a parking lot barrier), the entire church trucked out to Arthur's parents' house. I have no idea where they live, because it was October when we got there and I just followed Arthur's truck. But their place was cloistered away from the fast-paced world by tall grasses and taller trees. We all sat under the trees and ate barbecue and potato salad and drank lemonade, and I remembered something about being American. We went fishing after that in a neighbor's catfish pond. I actually caught a few (and big one's too), which is good, because I usually try way too hard when I fish, and it never works. Andy caught the Leviathan from the book of Job, and I got to nail it to a post and clean it. So, after a night of phenomenal music at 3rd and Lindsley with Andrew Bird and Over the Rhine, the Tower and I trucked home to Arthur's and arose to make catfish filets and biscuits the next morning. Tracy was brave enough to eat them with us. Arthur just said he didn't like fish (you big weenie!).


So, sufficiently en-fattened, Andy, Arthur, and I, all set off on a magical journey to the other side of the world, also known as Fall Creek Falls. The weekend was spent in a biblical study of lamenting under the humble tutelage of Michael Card and Andrew Peterson. It was good to see Andy P. again, along with his kids and Jamie. And it was wonderful to see Kenny and Doris again. I got a great chance to talk with Kenny about some issues in my life, and I was blessed to sit and talk late into the night with two other campers who were there in the park. I was reaquainted with my Lord and my God, and I pawed at the surface of knowing that that's what it's all about anyway. Oh, and by the way, I swam out under the falls. Yes it was freezing, and yes, I'd do it again in a heartbeat, although I'm sure my heart almost stopped the first time I went up to my shoulders in that water. Andy P. asked if I was gonna scream like a little girl like everyone else who'd gone it. I said I probably would, but upon entering the water, I didn't find sufficient breath to do so. But I sat under the falls. I can't begin to describe that feeling - you have to try it yourself.

So here I am. I have returned from the wilderness. Kat and I are on the homestretch of being engaged. Contrary to popular belief, we don't have cold feet. We're just ready to "DO THE THING" (as Matt Cheney says) and be married. The wedding will be fun, but the holy quiet in the car as we drive away - I can't wait to hear it. Hopefully, the wilderness will follow me around as I go. I'll see you Saturday at three.

There's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo, and it's worth fighting for.