Sunday, November 27, 2005

Selfishness and Dressing

And we're back. Recently returned from a Thanksgiving adventure extraordinaire, Kat and I have finally made it back to our own bed, and I need a release after so much family. I love my folks and Kat's folks, but I can be a bit looser around my wife than I can around her folks, so getting back to not having to talk to too many people is a welcome turn of events. We went to my aunt's new house in Cleveland and then Kat's grandmother's house in Scottsboro, AL. And did you know that snot glows under a blacklight? It's amazing the things you'll find out at a bowling alley. Anyway, Scottsboro always attracts me for two reasons. One, Unclaimed Baggage - a wonderful store where they send all the stuff that people leave behind at airports, bus stations, train stations, etc. I picked up two Sufjan Stevens cds, the Postal Service cd, "Give Up," and a brand new Vivitar 35mm with a zoom and adjustable aperture and shutter speed. Finally, a camera I can take pictures of lightning with. Good stuff. Reason number Two, Crow Mountain Orchard.

We trucked up the mountain Saturday to get end-of-the-season pickings. So Kat and I left out with a bushel of tasty winesap apples and a gallon and a half of fresh cider. After this, we got to spend some time sniffing around the old family farm, about 350 acres of which her grandfather still owns. Oh, and needless to say, amongst all this family togetherness, I was fed like a prize hog. Turkey, ham, dressing, broccoli casserole, sweet p'taters....and the beat goes on. So now we're celebrating having a cd player in the car that works (kudos to my loving wife who had mercy on me) and finally making a decision on where to go to church. I suppose it all came out of weighing the pros and cons. My friend Scott would be proud. If we went to a different church, we wouldn't have the open perspective on all the issues that we have now, and we wouldn't feel guilty about not singing in the choir or playing bass. But the issues would still be there, because no church is perfect this side of Glory (I tell myself that more than you), and we would have to make all new friends and work even harder at maintaining the friendships we have now (which we suck at anyway). So staying and facing up to the fact that we haven't worked any harder than anybody else and have no right to complain is going to be the flavor of the moment. I think I like this "I am the problem" mentality that I think I mentioned before to you. Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz, "I am the problem." I thought about it psychologically, and truly, I do find fault with people mostly for the problems that I have. I suppose that's something of a defense mechanism against fessing up to the stuff I've screwed up. These add up to quite a few. They all pretty much stem from the fact that I'm a selfish brat. Old Veruca wanting the Oompa Loompa NOW!!! Distraction is so easy though, through TV and such. But I've got to publish now before the laptop runs out of power. Bon soir!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Open Mic Confessions

So driving home tonight, I re-realized that it had been a while since I had talked to you. I've fought with the idea of writing another blog entry for a little while, because whenever I say to myself, "I think I'll write a blog entry today," it usually ends up being the crappy sound of my trying to appear intelligent and relevant. So I finally come to the decision of being honest and here I am, honest in front of you - like an overthrown dictator naked before the people.

Kat and I bought a few Christmas presents early, and one of these is Donald Miller's Blue Like Jazz, which I got for my dad. It's one of those selfish gifts. It's a book I'd like to read and, based on what friends have told me, a book that I think will change my dad for the better - or at least so he can relate to me better. As Allen Levi spoke of, I'm the little boy who buys his mother a football for her birthday. So, in the true spirit of selfishness, I thought I'd read the book first. It's not exactly the same as unwrapping the cd you got for your friend so you can listen, but it's close enough. It's a book where a man is honest and passionate and tells stories of people who are passionate. And thankfully, by the pricking of the Holy Ghost, this has stirred me to something that will hopefully resemble action. By the way, if I sound like Donald Miller in my writing this time, it's because I've been reading him. I'm one of those folks who watches Pirates of the Caribbean and then spends a few deluded hours talking like and thinking as a pirate. So, moving on.

That action that I spoke of is a desperately precious commodity for me. I'm not one to pick up the Bible every day or pray every day other than "God, I need you to get through this day" - an all too often chanted mantra that is unrepentantly unaccompanied by stillness and listening. And thankfulness. The verses from Romans 1 echo through me now. Because they did not find it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind. And the verses from Ezekiel. If I say to a man, 'You will die in your sin,' and you do not warn him, and he does not turn from his sin.....I will hold you accountable for his blood. These make me think, "How many opportunities do I take to spill blood on my hands by fear or fear disguised as politeness? How many times do I refuse to find a loving way to be involved with someone's life when they clearly need it?"

A partner at work the other day thanked me for standing up for her to our coworkers. I think that she was pleasantly surprised that a Christian had stood up for someone whom the other Christians seemed to refuse to affirm. Truth is, the behavior of my brothers and sisters frustrated me. But my partner's words to me only remind me of how much I decidedly lack in the area of love and evangelism. I believe that truth spoken not in love might as well be no truth at all. But this does not excuse me from being unashamed of the gospel of Christ when I am without a microphone and a guitar. You know, I have plenty to ask for, and thank for, and listen to in the matter of prayer. And yet the time I spend is precious little. It feels like something will give if I don't pursue God. He has certainly pursued me to the bitter end and back. I am quite tired of myself. I have great success as a person with a job and being worldly self-sufficient. But as to my self, this is a thing that I am as likely to change as the weather. And I can't really survive much longer on these fumes of spirituality.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Adults Only Means....oh!

So remember those fun churches mentioned in the article last post? We passed one coming home tonight and found the marquee advertising "79 saved. Thank you Jesus!" I can hear some going, 'wow, what a blessing!' Oh, well, "for good or ill..." I suppose. I shall leave it alone, since my conscience keeps convicting me that I'm not sovereign. This is a fact with much evidence behind it. Today's overwhelming evidence is my inability to keep from sustaining injury should I choose to participate in any athletic activity. My back is tied in a fun little monkey's fist because I didn't get stretched out enough before judo yesterday evenin'. Hopefully though, morning will find me somewhat healed. Driving today has been fun because of that though - especially checking my blind spots.

Kat and I are going to a Third Day concert that we won tickets to. I'm not really up on Third Day anymore (in fact, I can't even type it - I keep typing 'thrid'). I quit listening to them after Offerings 1. Actually, the last I really got into them was Time (really reminiscent of some obscure Hootie and the Blowfish song). That's been a while in the album-release scheme of things, so I'm not sure if it will be interesting at all to us (Kat hasn't paid much attention in a while either), but it's probably going to be infinitely better than the thing I was planning to take her to tomorrow night. Let me stress was and I'll explain it. There's a festival in town with some fringe theatre stuff going on. This doesn't necessarily mean the modern equivalent of the debut of Waiting for Godot (which I thoroughly LOVED), it just means that the groups will be performing pieces that they wouldn't do for a mainstream audience. Okay, no sweat. So my naive little mind thought that the Circle Modern Dance Company's performance of Bare Necessities for Adults was going to be something of a political statement. After all, that's what the article said. But tonight, after reading another small blurp, we found out that it was actually for adults only......scratch that, Adults Only. So........yeah. We're not going. Kat thought that they might look at me funny for bringing my wife to a strip show anyway. I told her the only way we could get away with it was if we wore all black and she wore a scarf and we looked artsy and talked in smoky laid back voices about nothing in particular. But safe to say, we're not going. Avoiding mental scarring and stupefying embarassment... check.

But rewind back to this morning, when I did see a good show. I was at Andy's house attempting to recuperate from my judo injuries and recruit him in a trip to a downtown photo gallery. But before leaving, we watched a good portion of U2 in their live concert DVD Go Home. The whole thing was recorded in front of probably 200,000 people at Slane Castle in County Meath, Eyre. That's Slane, you know, the hill from which St. Patrick lit the Pascal fire in blatant opposition to the powerful pagan king. The tune name to Be Thou My Vision, or Robh tu Mo Bhaile, depending on your linguistic persuasion. That's right, Slane. And I can't begin to convey to you the power behind this concert, even translated to me through the smallness of a 20-inch screen with minimal sound. Andy got chills, I got entranced, it was unbelievable, and we marvelled at the elements of that intimate audience/performer connection. Perhaps it's more passion than I have recently given it credit as being. I have a difficult time expressing as much passion as I would like through my voice, though, without losing the pitch and tone that I find so important in the music I sing. I suppose a greatly heightened decibel level might free me up a bit though. I do remember that high from playing in front of the kids at Irmo, SC. 80 kids in a room and when we got that driving beat going and some power behind it, man they fed us with energy like you wouldn't believe. So, latest recommendations are that U2 DVD Go Home and also Andrew Bird's Weather Systems. Just got it today and I've found something new to rave about.

I read some Psalms this morning at Starbucks while getting, caffeinated, and I saw them in a whole new way. Try looking at David as a master storyteller and give 'em another go. If you need a good example, listen to a cd of the late great Shel Silverstein reading his children's poetry. I could just see David holding a bunch of kids captive with his voice and his eyes and telling of the victories of the God of Jacob. My favorite part was him yelling to the surrounding land, "Why, oh sea, did you flee? Why, oh Jordan, did you turn back? Why, oh mountains did you skip like rams and the hills like lambs?" Then I can see him get quiet and lean in, speaking slowly. "Let the earth tremble at the presence of the God of Jacob."

Hallelu Jah