Monday, October 31, 2005

Let the Inquisition Begin

It's one of those times of year when things around you seem to be evil. You might not see it, but the actions of the folks around you are rank with hatred. We are completely consumed with this evil. I'm not talking about the ghouls and goblins walking the streets. The vampires and witches don't bother me. I'm talking about the Judgement Houses. These Holy Hallowe'en Pageants that have become an annual tradition of fear and judgementalism. People are taken through church and taught the evils of the younger prodigal son on the blackboard of the elder. Be right back, I've got to go put on some different music........ok. Counting Crows Recovering the Satellites is good writing music for a late night. I've been working on some album stuff lately, and I have to remind myself that the art and all the good fruit is God's alone, with me bearing no responsibility besides doing the work of a slave. Should the servant expect thanks for faithfully serving? Certainly not. That takes care of me thinking I'm the necessary variant in anything. Anyways, Judgement Houses. I read an article in the Metropulse, Knoxville's best newspaper for being frank with things, I think. It provided a humbling and eye-opening perspective on how Judgement Houses are perceived by the general public.

However, before these waters get too deep, let me clarify a few sides to the argument of the church's image problems. Some think that image shouldn't matter. Let me say that they're right and put that one aside for a second. Some say that we should have an image that caters to the demographics that have not been reached on a mainstream basis for the past forty-or-however-many years. Yeah, they're right too. And those whose ideas remain unspoken and unwritten and reciprocally enforced with great vindication, they "say" that our image should be that which caters to tradition. Yeah, they're right. Oh, and by the way.....they're all wrong. Do any of these point of view matter? Yes and no. Yes, because "a grape vine cannot bear figs." Yes, because "you will know them by their love." And no, because those who will have opinions will always have opinions. Those who judge will always judge.

That said, what does it say when we are condemning the sins of the flesh but ignoring the sin that has crept into the spirit? What does the new convert think about the concepts of conscience and guilt when they were brought to Christ through a message that, without direct words, presents the case that "those who party go to Hell." Where are the new adopted sons who find out that Jesus is a man who is God and that God is Love and that I don't understand it all as much as you might think I do or as much as I believe I do? Why is the talent of people thrown into an alternative to an "evil" holiday where kids are supposed to have fun? Why do we condemn a day when people dress up as witches because "those who practice witchcraft will have no place in the kingdom of God," and see no problem with the commercialization of Christmastime when "it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven?" Holidays always seem to bother me when I see the things that are celebrated. This year, I think Judgement Houses have fallen fodder to that.

Fear-induced salvation seems a bit too like unto lighting a campfire match in a rainstorm. You might get the match started, but you're never going to light a fire. Yes, God uses those salvations, but still, what sort of theology is that? I pose this question and pass you this article. I think my favorite part is the last paragraph. Scroll down to the second section on Judgement Houses called "Hell Hath Fury." Read on.

All right, I'm done.

Monkey Business

I recently got an email from my wife that was forwarded from her grandmother. Frances (her grandmother) thinks it wise to send things like this, so we end up checking out lots of hoaxes on the internet under the impression that they're real. This latest thing was probably the funniest I've come upon. I'm not sure how it works for everyone, but supposedly, you can look up anyone's driver's license in the US. The ID fraud possibilities are endless, so I thought, "I'd better see if mine's really on there." So I check it out to see if I can delete anything. Looking up.....Adam Whipple.....Tennessee.......Knoxville. 1 match. Oh great, I think. Somebody can print out a copy of my license. So I click on the link and I'd like you to see my license as it appears on this 'legit' database.

Yep. That's right, I'm in a state of chaos with hair everywhere. I'm a gibbon, or whatever that monkey is. So.....yeah. Don't fall for this one. I feel dumb knowing I've been hoodwinked by my wife's grandmother. Things like that aren't supposed to happen are they? So anyway, better make sure your identity isn't at risk. Some gibbon is off in the bahamas drinking pina coladas and playing volleyball with gorgeous bikini-clad women and tanned muscular men. And he's doing it all as if he was Adam Whipple. I've been had!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Can't See the Wolves

In some fun news, SBC Prez Bobby Welch has launched the "Everyone Can" campaign, aiming for a million baptisms in SBC churches within the year. Read here and see the fun. I can't help but love the used-furniture-sales, Disney World mentality that some folks have about these things (okay, bad example). It's like we're advertising tacos or something! Anyways, on a lighter note, I went into Cedar Springs Christian Bookstore the other day to try and find a reason to release some of my cynicism toward the place and the industry in general. I perused the cds (even though I didn't have any money) and, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but Derek Webb seeing things upside down. And Andrew Peterson in a Far Country. And Cool Hand Luke of all things. Yes, the industrial standards were still there, but these two anomalous findings stick out in my mind. It was like finding a grade A beef at Taco Bell. A girl I met at Starbucks works there, and she said the place is under new management as of the past few months. And it certainly shows. The fact that their holy shelves would offer the products of a man who sings "I used to be a damn mess, but now I look just fine, cause You dressed me up and we drank the finest wine," well, that's just sacreligious or something. Moving on...

The Devil's Advocate just went off. Besides being a rather creepy movie, it's an amazingly accurate metaphor for what the Accuser does when he's working (which is all the time). And still, as I sit here at 3am on Sunday morning (because I've habitually been up too late in recent nights), I am reminded of the beauty of God's plan, as crazy and outlandish as it may seem to the rest of the cosmos. Sheep among wolves we are. The Lord said so, and the movie quoted it, albeit with something of a lack of context. But I see myself, at least at this quiet hour, as a sort of blindfolded sheep. If I actually saw all that was going on behind the scenes, I think I'd poop my pants. Imagine the shepherds in the fields of quiet Bethlehem. This is the po-dunk town with one stop sign and a Dollar General. The nearest Walmart is in Capernaum. Home of King David is painted on the water tower, along with a crudely scrawled "Joab was here." You're out in the middle of your swing shift (no, scratch that, your every-shift) job with a few buddies. You hear a sheep turn in its sleep and go to make sure that it was just the sheep you heard. You're trying your hardest not to fall asleep, but the cheap Mickey D's coffee is wearing off. It's cold, with the only exception being that uncomfortable hot-and-cold sweaty feeling you get when you're staying up way past your bedtime. All's quiet but the song of the crickets. Suddenly a glowing guy appears out of nowhere and has the audacity to tell you not to freak out. He gives you and your Seriously-Freakin'-Awake-Now friends some news and then, as if one wasn't enough.....they all come out. The sky opens up and your quiet night turns into a bright chorus of the loudest, most beautiful, most terrifying thing you've ever heard. It vibrates your very mind, your very soul. And's gone. And the sheep heard nothing. And the crickets are still chirping. Another sheep turns in his sleep and 4:30 rolls around. Were you dreaming? Were you all dreaming? They saw it too. Is that possible? Then you feel your heart flutter again and remember. We gotta tell somebody.

You see, for just a minute, these few shepherds got a peek behind the curtain. A glimpse of what few ever see this side of death. And the first thing that Gabriel said was don't piss yourself, it's just me (or something to that effect). I think that's one reason we're blind to much of what's really going on. Still, as I look over my wife's sleeping form and follow the curve of her spine with my eyes, it's such a blessing to be made the way we're made. We are given so much that is precious. Tomorrow, I'm sure I'll feel differently as I struggle to stay awake on the drive into town, but for now, I'm glad to be a blind sheep.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Pause for Breath

Kat and I are taking this month off. From nearly everything non-essential. We're not playing or singing at church. We just get up and go. Yesterday was the most wonderful Sabbath I've had in a while. We got up at about 8:45 and went to the kitchen to cook breakfast. We actually got to sit down and eat breakfast! Freakin' A! It was also the first day of real cold this year. It was a good 55 or so degrees on the cloudy 40-mile drive to Salem. Now, 55 may not be cold by anyone's standards, but it sure feels great after a summer of 90's and 80's that last until a few days ago. And I didn't speed on this drive, we just sat back and watched the world roll lazily by. Despite the claims of some that we might be heathens, we didn't go to Sunday School. We just walked in, went to meeting, and went to the house for lunch. I can't remember the last time a Sunday was that relaxed. So this is pretty much what we're doing for all of October. Working and relaxing. I'm playing a few shows to help generate some revenue for paying for studio time, so check out the LISTEN & LOOK section to your right for dates and times. The show this Friday is for tips only, so bring your loose change bucket.