Saturday, April 26, 2008

A Violent Betrothal

At the Franklin Graham Festival, there were a great many people who decided that Jesus was who they wanted for their shepherd. There were a couple bands that were fun and talented and gave me an itch to go out and find some LPs by Bob Marley and the Wailers. There was the text from Daniel about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and Nebuchadnezzar's fiery furnace, which is a lot of fun to read and imagine.

And yet, it is not what moved me this evening.

I came home to find Kat in the bed watching Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I laid down there to watch with her, occasionally flipping the channel to Law & Order - because, being a public cheapskate, commercials irritate me for the most part. But eventually, I couldn't tear myself away from Harry and his compatriots. And then we came to the part *spoiler alert* where Cedric Diggory dies, and Harry brings his body back to Amos Diggory, his father. Amos' grief never ceases to bring me to tears. His screams and his weeping are unmistakably primal and deep, and they shake me. A father, weeping for his dead son. The cool, ozone scent of awakening in me stirs, as I remember another father, weeping for his dead son.

The boy had walked up the hill of his own accord, and he felt the odd and blessed detachment of compassion for his indicters, shouting and squabbling for a view, or whispering smugly and maintaining the appropriate appearance of shock, disgust, and approval that we feel we must at an execution. His feet hurt, and his hands as well - immeasurably. It was a little bit difficult to breath, and he imagined that the glare would have been extremely bad from the sun, had not a palpable darkness erupted in the skies. It seemed that the heavens themselves were revolting in anger that such a thing should be done. The boy, like a tree watered by a stream, finished his work though, and died shortly thereafter. But his father stood by.

The cries rent the air, and reverberated until the earth shook.

"That's my son!"

Nimbus clouds roiled and people wondered and cowered at the terrible majesty of the fury that seemed to bleed from the very walls of the earth.

"That's my boy!"

But the boy had only done what he saw his father doing. He had walked up a hill and died.

Friday, April 25, 2008

4 Market Square

So, the jig is up.

It seems that Knoxville is now a spooked horse walking along the path toward the opening of this business. The origins of this place were dreamed several years back on a corner at 102 S. Central Ave., down in the Old City. Hannah's Cafe now sits there, in the quaint corner location with chipping yellow paint. But it used to be called New City Cafe. The stage was graced with performances that arced and crackled with talent, hope, and love. A major radio station was involved, giving independent artists a voice on the airwaves in what was then a satellite of the Nashville machine, as far as radio was concerned. Concerts were played both on the stage and in the alley out back. People sat on the patio enjoying Italian sodas. A few years into the project, and the cafe moved to another location at 116 S. Central. The building had previously been a Mexican restaurant (it still had a jocular mariachi trio painted in cartoon fashion on one wall). There was a bar downstairs and one upstairs, both built in old-world style with painstakingly crafted woodwork.

This was to be home for several years, to a greater number of concerts, artistic ventures and gallery shows, a consortium offering college accredited courses and round-table lectures, and a rag-tag band of assorted songwriters and artistic misfits, including myself. This was the nest from which and to which I desired to fly as a songwriter. My friends were there, and I warmed to the glow of their talents and their passion for beauty and truth. If they had pursued it, they could have had fickle fame and fleeting riches, but they all chose to serve others rather than themselves. Their art, unsold and unmarred, became a lasting glimmer and an icon in the truest Orthodox sense of the word.

Now, a few more years down the road, the foundation which was the instrument of ownership of these buildings, through prayer and seeking, decided to purchase the buildings at 4 and 8 Market Square in order to further the dream envisioned by the small circle of people who listened to the peace-imbuing thoughts of the Creator, who is, Himself, Peace. Through a series of events, the former director, Kenny Woodhull, went on to serve in other endeavors, and Ben Bannister became the current director. Rick Kuhlman is still the director of the Fellows Ministry, which will be centered there.

The idea, both at the beginning and now, was to be a Christ-centered presence in the world of Knoxville business and a venue for artistic dialogue on both local and regional levels. New City Cafe became known, however, as 'that Christian coffeehouse'. The problem was not the label. The label itself became problematic because people brought rigid expectations to the table as to what 'that Christian coffeehouse' was and should have been. It seems that today, Ben, Rick, and others involved are fighting an uphill battle that has begun even before there is anything to discuss. 4 Market Square has become 'that Christian restaurant' or 'that Christian venue'. People are already afraid to be involved because of expectational baggage they have brought to the table.

At first, I think I was frustrated for Ben and Rick, &c. I have spoken with both of them, and with Kenny, who has never been reticent to share his heart with me on the subject. All of them, and all those involved in the vision, share the idea of living missionally as an artist rather than a salesman - by which, I mean to say, they believe that one's faith should be fully incorporated into one's life, not simply worn on the sleeve of one's actions. They are wonderful men, and they challenge me merely by the living of their lives. After the frustration for them passed, I became angry at those who would impose a rigorous collection of incorrect viewpoints upon them, crying "Prosyletizers! Bigots! Imperialists!"

But, after all that got out of the way, I was blessed to have it suggested to me, in a small voice, that I should feel pity for those who would spout their angry diatribe, and hope for those who seemed to be defeated before they began. It certainly reminds me of an ancient nation-state I read about somewhere...

Some Resources

Knoxville Fellows
The public outcry
Architects' virtual tour article

Friday, April 18, 2008


Aha! A little fiddling around with the files and I realized the necessity of extracting the zipped files before I use them. So, yes, you should still download the album (it's really, really good). Like I said, have no fear of not being able to play it. All the technological failures therein are my own user errors.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

More Awesome People I Know

Quite a while back I reviewed Arthur Alligood's album Under the Gray. Besides being a great guy with a fantastic sense of humor and a giving heart, Arthur is a writer of songs that are storied expositions of the human condition and its continuous ping-pong game between grace and guilt. This is his third project to date, and his second project produced by Andrew Osenga of The Normals and Caedmon's Call.

My stars and garters! (as my mother would say) This album needs a band behind it. Both its moving points and its still-life figures keep me riveted. It's wonderful as an acoustic project, but I'd like to hear it with a band as well. I feel a great need to go pick up some instruments and begin to add guitars and accordions and pianos and orchestras and hurdie-gurdies and cajons.

Here's the best part: it's FREE! Absolutely free, with no strings attached and no purchase necessary. Just go to Arthur's website and download it. The only problem is, I can't seem to get it onto my iPod, and the content won't load into a playlist on my laptop. Hopefully, you can get it to work better than I can (have no fear, I'm technologically incompatible anyway), because it's worth taking with you.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Borrowed Blog

Here's some freshly harvested blog fodder from The Resurgence website. More and more, though the studious approach of the gentlemen who blog to this site is far above my head (probably because of laziness and bad time management), I am seeing the small hills taken by the Accuser and his wiles in our culture. It is particularly alarming. I don't know if all this that Peter Jones writes is accurate, but I have become accustomed to trusting information from the contributors to this site. It's at least worth some investigation.

-Who Stole Our Sacred Canopy?