Thursday, August 30, 2007

Answered Prayer?

For the better part of my life, I've lived and been part of an institution that I've always felt was in need of improvement. While generally being a "glass is half-full" kind of guy with the other elements of life, my time in churches has always been stressed by my desire to think through and analyze things, seeking to grow and to change. Plus, it didn't hurt that I grew up in a really conservative "KJV-only" kind of church and then moved on to a Southern Baptist congregation as a youth pastor. These are not the sort of people generally given, and I realize I'm painting with a wide brush, to innovation and change. During those days, I remember having sundry conversations with friends in which I wrestled with and lamented the state of "The Church" and longed for change. Like many young people in similar circumstances, my initial prayers and frustrations stemmed from externals, worship styles, perceived dress codes, and such. But, while these still remained concerns, as I grew older and in knowledge, more and more, deeper elements of thought came into play and I realized that what was needed was not a facelift but, pardon the cheesy phrase, a heartlift.

Fast forward to the present. Recently, my family and I joined a church after about three years or so of floating. Our floating came at the difficult end of four years of youth ministry, a story that I believe I've documented at an earlier time. In those years, I continued to pray, to think, and to deconstruct and I can honestly say that my thoughts and views have changed quite a bit from the past. Which makes our current situation a bit unique.

Our new home at Bayside Community Church is one that, five years ago, would have been a dream come true. It's a growing, thriving, young church with passionate leaders and rousing worship times. The pastor is a dynamic personality, speaking generally on topics that are readily applicable. My son loves his church time and is just jazzed every time he sees the hyperactive children's pastor. They pray for other churches in the area, which to me is a beautiful thing. Relationships are touted and encouraged left and right and the small group ministry is pitched as the hub of the church. A legitimate evening of prayer even frames the week for the church, allowing members and church leaders to come together in intercession for personal requests and the local community. These are all great things.

Yet, as I've said, a lot has occurred in the last couple of years. Truthfully, I've lost a lot of faith in the current state of church and particularly in churches as large as Bayside. It's an unfair assessment as people seem to generally be getting a lot out of things but I can't help feeling frustrated. My training from college as well as reading and thinking I've done about the state of both Christianity and the Church has me wrestling with so many elements within. I've even found myself questioning the use of disposable plastic cups for the Saturday evening pizza they serve after service as a reflection of how we view environmental concerns. Sometimes I think I've just flipped my lid and others I generally wonder if I've lost my faith. I don't possess the same fervor as I once did but I'm not sure that I want to feel that way again. I want genuine, authentic, passionate community that oozes depth and the glory of the goodness of God.

So, I continue to struggle, both with myself, with the church, and even with my wife. Yet, I can't seem to turn off my mind when it comes to these topics. I'm not intentionally trying to do this. I just can't get away from my thoughts of how things could be and wondering if perhaps they should be. I don't know if I'm missing God's blessing of answered prayer or am in a place where I'm called to be a catalyst for change...

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Review: Under the Blacklight - Rilo Kiley

I first became aware, and this shows how naive I was, of Rilo Kiley via Jenny Lewis' solo album with the Watson Twins. That lead me to checking out RK and I was hooked. Yet, this newest release is a little too pop, a little too mainstream feeling for me. Lewis and Co. are far too talented to bow to the sentiments of mainstream radio in this young man's opinion. Here's the Stereo Subversion review:

Quote of the Day

A friend of mine sent me a rare forward with a bunch of quirky quotes in it. This was my favorite:

"Oh, you hate your job? Why didn't you say so? There's a support group for that. It's called EVERYBODY, and they meet at the bar."--Drew Carey

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Desert Island Diamond

Not long ago, I questioned what others might have as their desert island discs, essentially those albums that one would desire to have if you were stranded. At the time, I found it difficult to share my own thoughts on what album or albums I would want to have with me but, inspired by my "guilty pleasures" segment of my blogging fun, I thought I might share some desert island diamonds from my collection as well. So, if my faithful four readers will indulge me, here's today's desert island diamond:

Yes, none other than U2's magnum opus, The Joshua Tree. Featuring a set of songs that range from the deeply spiritual to the compellingly political, Bono and Co. crafted an album that has musically and lyrically stood the test of time. Who could ask for more?

I Heart Fishing

When I was growing up, fishing was a pasttime that my father and I attempted to share. I was always one who enjoyed rod and reel fishing, particularly freshwater fishing. I loved the peace and quiet and having the opportunity to experience nature, watching the waves lap against the shore or the edge of the boat. I liked keeping my eyes open for all varieties of wildlife that might make themselves seen and really just dug the time with my Dad. My Dad was more of a castnet kind of guy, particularly given his passion for mullet fishing. Sadly, this was something that I never really latched onto. I tried, and to this day if you asked me I could throw a net for you. My problem was seeing the fish. This was not an easy task and, well, to my father's great sadness, I just never quite caught on.

Well, as a short glance down the page will show, my son and I have taken up fishing. I'd forgotten how much I really enjoyed the experience of being outside, of watching my bobber (yes, we're fishing old-school!) float across the surface of that water, and especially of having my son beside me learning. Now Tyler's not necessarily clued in all that well, and he tends to have more fun casting, then handing the pole to me to do the actual fishing so he can down a popsicle or rummage through the tackle box. Either way, I love the time I get to spend with him.

And, tonight, my son caught his first legitimate fish. While we're referring to the pic below as Tyler's actual catch, tonight was the real deal. Granted, it happened sort of by accident, as Tyler was holding the pole for a rare second while I baited our other pole's hook but when the bobber dove under the surface of the water and I hollered for him to reel, Tyler drew in our whopper of the evening. I'm going to say it. I'm a proud papa. I love my son. He's an amazing kid who continues to teach me each and every day. This morning he reminded me that he loves me. I hope he remembers that when he's sixteen...

Monday, August 27, 2007

Guilty Pleasure: Aug. 27th

Okay, for today's nearly daily installment of Andrew's guilty pleasures from the music collection, we have for you:

I really don't know why. I don't. I guess that I just fell for the gimmick. Plus, I'm not gonna lie, in spite of myself I kind of liked Troy's guest spots on Big & Rich's first album. Sue me. Either way, you've gotta admit that this is catchy, even if you don't know what the heck it means.

An Energy Crisis Averted

With the very real threat of global warming and the depletion of our natural resources looming over our heads, a frantic search has begun for environmentally friendly and sustainable energy sources. Some have long touted the value of harnessing the wind for power. Others still have supported the technology behind solar panels that capture the power of the sun. Others still have come forward as of late to speak highly of the value of fuels like ethanol and other such naturally-derived sources. Ladies and gentlemen, we have an announcement to make. Our search is over! Let the world rejoice! I have discovered a power that few can rival. Let me share it with you.

Just this past weekend, to celebrate my son Tyler's fifth birthday, we headed off to that local bastion of birthday bonanzas, none other than Chuck E. Cheese. While there, I sat and watched a hyperactive buzz of activity, as children, and mine among them, flitted here, there, and everywhere fueled simply by copious amounts of watered-down Sprite, cotton candy, and sub-par pizza. A small birthday cake also factored into the mix but the engine was at full speed long before it made it's arrival. And, as I sat there, cringing from the noise and anxiously awaiting the end of the coveted tokens, it came to me. Chuck E. Cheese, for all it's kitsch, is sitting on top of the cure for our energy woes. Consider the simple elements listed above to fuel the kids. Those are readily available and simple enough to provide. No problem there. And kids? Kids will always flock to establishments like the Chuck E. Cheese simply because it's really the place where a kid can be a kid. All that's left to do is to figure out a way to harness that mad crazy energy. Perhaps the innovators behind the film Monsters, Inc. have some input here?

Fishing in the Back Yard

Friday, August 24, 2007

Review: Unglamorous - Lori McKenna

Some artists just deserve to be heard and Lori McKenna is one of them. Having had songs covered by some serious A-list country stars like Sara Evans and Faith Hill, the thirtysomething mother of five is finally getting her shot at the big time and it's near a bullseye. Honest, soulful, and unpretentious, this is a good one. Here's the review I did for Stereo Subversion:

Should've Taken the Blue Pill

This week Erin and I have been re-watching the Wachowski brothers great Matrix movies. Now, I'm with most of you and agree that the series did nothing but go downhill after the first film but, well, the special effects are really cool and even if the plots tended to be a little too sketchy, there were some intriguing points of philosophy to ponder while watching Keanu pound some bad guys. So, we've been watching them and I'm struck by some of the parallels to my current situation.

Now, I realize this is not a new thing. The whole core of the Matrix reasoning is that we're living in a world that is not ours, that is lacking our control and is one that we desire to get out of, or at least should. Many and far more intelligent people have discussed these ideas and pondered the ins and outs of the whole philosophy. Yet, I'm taking it from a personal point and am attempting to see myself within the framework. As I've done so, I realize that at one point, I was all about the path of Neo. I wanted to emerge from the goopy goo with things blasting out of my arms and back, rise in knowledge of the Matrix, and take down the Source. Doing so would bring freedom, enlightenment, and, hopefully, peace in Zion.

The spiritual allusions here are tough to miss. And most would align the battle as being against the Devil and his minions as we've fought to overcome our sin and whatnot. There is something to this thinking but, more and more, some of us have found our battles to be waged against more than that old adversary. For some of us, the thinking of the modern world, the machine-like empirical processes and utilitarian ways of old, and particularly within our frameworks of faith known as churches, have been the source of war and conflict. Our battles have been waged over theology and complacency, seeking to align what we know of this world with the world that Jesus promised us it could be.

This thinking and pondering and internal battling has led me to a new thought regarding the Matrix characters. I now feel some sense of compassion for the one known as Cypher. Cypher, as you'll recall, was the one who played the Judas role in the film, betraying the prophetic Morpheus into the hands of the Agents and attempting to kill everyone else in the process. Cypher had tired of the battle. He longed for peace, for rest, and for the taste of a marvelous steak, even if he knew it wasn't real. Now, it's easy for us to point fingers, to mock and scorn this evil character but we must be careful. Because I'm damn weary. Some days I long for the innocence of my fundamentalist upbringing, for the black and white world where no gray areas existed. I long for rest of mind, body, and soul.

Yet, then I'm reminded that this way of thinking, that all is black and white and oh-so-easily identifiable, is the reason the world is in the shape that it is in. And then I'm reminded of the challenges of Christ, who calls us to a Kingdom of love, of peace, and of justice. This kingdom imagery fills my mind with wonder and delight and I realize that I cannot return nor do I wish to. I'm in this for the long haul. If only I could do kung fu too....

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Simply Amazing...

I caught this article on AOL News this afternoon. He's fifty-nine, for God's sake! I can only hope to have as much energy and moxie as this guy if I make it that far!

Here's the link: 59-year-old Makes College Cut

Guilty Pleasures

While this is not a particularly original idea, I thought that I might run with it. While uploading my music collection into my computer and itunes, I've found that I've got a lot of music. Now, I'm not going to lie and say that I am never a music snob. Ask my wife and she'll tell you the truth about that. But, alas, I'm not perfect. Like everyone, my musical tastes have grown and matured over the years but, throughout that time, I've amassed a few, shall we say, guilty pleasures. These guilty pleasures need to be seen in a proper context and understanding, i.e. I was in fifth grade and this was the coolest song out then!, but they're in the collection nonetheless. And yes, I'll take the lumps for liking them, no matter how bad they are. So, for my faithful four readers, I thought I'd share, maybe day by day, maybe week by week, most likely by how much time I have and how much I remember it, a guilty pleasure disc from my collection. I hope you enjoy. Feel free to make fun.

Today's guilty pleasure is: Michael Bolton's My Secret Passion! Please be gentle...

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Review: Mentor Tormentor - Earlimart

These guys just might be one of the best bands that you haven't heard of, yet. Earlimart brings some very unique sounds to this album and ends up with a great record. Stay tuned in a few weeks for an interview with Earlimart as well! Here's the INFUZE review:

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


Yup, you read that right. In just about twenty or so minutes, I'll cross that irreversible moment in time where I move from the ill-fated thirty to thirty one. For so many, moving from their twenties into the land of thirtysomethings is the tough transition. I'm different for some reason. Thirty, while a bit weighty, was pretty much a breeze. But shifting into thirty-one? Now that's a different story.

I'm not entirely sure why that is but I think a lot of it has to deal with the fact that I'm in a place that I didn't see on my coveted ten-to-fifteen year plan out of high school. Oh, sure, I've checked off a few things that were on the list, things like getting married and having a few munchkins but, well, I guess I just didn't see things panning out this way so far. I mean, I suppose I had these thoughts of, say, home ownership or, well, maybe a fulfilling career. Thus far, nada. Plus, I've had to go back and erase points that I thought I'd achieved, points of certainty and of having things figured out. It turns out, the older I get, the less I'm really certain of.

One thing I am certain of is that I do love my family, my friends, and my God. That God looks a little different in my mind than perhaps He once did but I still cherish that relationship. And my kids and my wife make the world for me. As I watch them grow, in ways both physical and otherwise, it challenges, frightens, and encourages me to be a part of their lives. I don't know, maybe thirty-one will bring a much needed breath of fresh air. Maybe it'll bring more crap that I didn't plan on. Either way, I'm sure it can only be more interesting...

Just an FYI...Here's some folks that share/have shared my Aug. 21st b'day:

Count Basie
Gene Roddenberry
Joe Strummer
Kim Cattrall
Jim McMahon
Carrie-Anne Moss

Take that August 19th!


72%How Addicted to Blogging Are You?

Ht: Marko

Review: Theology - Sinead O'Connor

I remember hearing Sinead O'Connor's "Nothing Compares 2 U" over and over and over as a young adolescent. Images of her shaved dome were everywhere and, outside of mimicking her unique vocal inflection, not much was to be really taken seriously. Yet, a lot has occurred for the artist and for me in the years since then and we've both grown. O'Connor's newest album has caused buzz in both mainstream and Christian circles and is very worthy of a long listen. Here's the review I did for Stereo Subversion:

Theology - Sinead O'Connor

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Slow Lane

If you're anything like we are, you tend to live your life at breakneck speed, wired and wishing for some peace and quiet. I was pondering this a few months back and wrote up a small piece on it and sent it along to the folks at Relevant Magazine. They liked it and decided to run it on the site. Check it out:

Life in the Slow Lane

Thursday, August 16, 2007

I Never Knew...


Take the Transformers Quiz

Desert Island Discs

I was reading this book review on Paste Magazine's site the other day and I got me to thinking, "What is my desert island disc?" Of course, I knew that one would not be sufficient so I'm going to allow myself five, just because in the event of a plane crash, tidal wave, or sinking ship, I'm pretty damn confident that I'd be able to grab at least that many before falling into utter hysteria. And, well, I'm not that sure of what they are just yet. But, just for kicks, I thought I'd ask my faithful four readers (maybe we've lost one, added another, hmm?) what their seminal albums were? What are the albums that just make you quiver even today? What five would you take on a desert island?

The article itself goes on to discuss something else, namely the push of technology and the endangerment of albums as a whole. With the digital age and the ability to pick and choose songs, we're in serious danger of loosing classic art pieces like The Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper" or Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. So, I ask you another question: What is that life changing album or two that you've had? What was that album that you heard and you knew that the world was going to be all right because this music existed within it? I really am curious to hear some responses. Wonder if anyone will?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

He Just Won't Wipe

Okay, don't let the headline scare you away. This will actually make sense. Last night I wandered into the bedroom to brush my teeth and prepare for bed when I happened a glance into the toilet. I was greeted with an image that I'll simply leave to your imagination but suffice it to say that it aligns itself with a number slightly more than "one". I recalled, at this pivotal moment, Tyler running into the living room after he'd been put to bed in order to inform us of his need to "go potty". (By the way, that's one of the key elements to knowing you're a parent: using the word "potty") I had thought little of it, and was actually a little proud when he did that as we're still battling with Pull-Ups. His acknowledgement of needing to go while in bed was a good thing. But the picture greeting me in the bowl was not.

Most conspicuous was the lack of any toilet paper floating in the water. I sighed. This, sadly, is not particularly unusual. Tyler has an unfortunate penchant for speeding in and out of the bathroom without stopping for that critical moment of clean-up. It's a difficult thing for us to deal with as parents but, we're dealing. I shook my head, flushed the toilet, and headed to bed.

Later, though, as I lay there, I began to think a bit about that situation. Why does Tyler have a problem with doing that? Is it just, well, gross, to him? I could see that. Truthfully, are any of us particularly jazzed about that act? Sure, it's necessary but it's really not all that, exciting. It's a dirty, nasty job, but as the old adage goes, somebody's got to do it. Hmmm.

Sometimes I think my life is like this. I am not one to shy away from a tough job, but sometimes I don't want to get down in the muck and mire. Even more so, as I wrestle with reimagining issues of theology and apply them to life, I see myself compelled to dip down into the muck of society, to associate with those that I don't see eye to eye with, and whose lives are, at least seemingly, different than mine. Truthfully, one of the toughest areas for me to deal with this as of late has been in my interactions with fellow Christians, especially at church. It's ironic, really, that having grown up in church I now feel more an outsider than before. I'm not really sure how to deal with it but, the one thing I feel certain of, is that I'm going to have to dig in and grin and bear it. I love the Church, but sometimes the people that are part of it drive me crazy. Either way, I'm taking along a lot of Charmin.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

You Be Hating..?

I'll never stop being amazed at the perception and intuition of our little ones. As my son was preparing to head out the door with his grandmother to go to preschool, here's the conversation that transpired:

Tyler: "Daddy, are you going to go to work today?"
Me: "Yeah, Daddy's going to go get ready in just a minute."
Tyler: "Are you be hating it?"
Me (a little taken aback but honest): "Yeah, some days Daddy does."
Tyler, walking out the door w/Mee-Maw: "Daddy be hating his work..."

It's a dark thing, a painful thing, and a weird thing to acknowledge that this is true. I've hit the place in my "professional career" where I really hate my job. Now, I don't hate the people and I don't even hate the work all the time but I hate the fact that it's just not, well, me. I don't feel complete in what I'm doing. As I spoke with a distant friend recently about this, he put it succinctly: "You're not buying what you're selling." Yup, kids, thats about the size of it.

While acknowledging a place for Christian retail, I realize that I personally am fed up with it. I'm tired of Jesus fish, Jesus shirts, Jesus lamps, and all other assorted and sundry Jesus junk. I believe that we are feeding into the already materialistic and consumer-crazed monolith that is already wreaking havoc on our society and I am tired of being a part of it. At least thats the big ideaological side of it. The other side of the picture is that I don't feel, and I hate to use this word but, called, or perhaps a better word is fulfilled, in what I'm doing there. I feel as though I'm sitting on both knowledge and talent without the forum to use them there and it's driving me crazy. So, yes, I guess, at least some days, I "be hating it."

Monday, August 13, 2007

Thinking About Systems

Recently, as the headline says, I've been pondering the power of systems. I'm going to try and explain what I'm talking about but I fear that I'll fall far short of what I'm really trying to get at unlike. Undoubtedly, I've some friends who could put this into words a bit better as they're a hair farther down the road than I but I'm going to give it the old college try.

What I've been working at, I suppose, is a bit of good 'ole deconstruction. It hasn't been a conscious decision, at least initially, but now I've sort of acknowledged it and have run with it. Let me give an example of what I'm talking about. Many, if not most of us, deal with things in the short term. We get up, shower, do whatever else it takes to get ready, head to work, slave in the office, fight our way home to play with our kids and eat dinner and rest up so we can do it all again. The trick comes when we begin to fine tune the lens a bit, to magnify things to point out certain details. One such detail that's really stood out to me as of late surrounds the concepts of ecology and sustainability.

For the better part of my life, I've used plastic, styrofoam, and whatever other materials I've needed because they served my needs. They eliminated the need for doing dishes, saved me time, and just simplified my life. Good stuff, right? However, as I've pondered systems, I've come to think of things a bit differently. Yes, these conveniences might aid me in the short term, but what am I becoming complicit in? Is my use of such materials having any sort of negative effect on the world? And, to take it a step further, is my engagement of such things honoring or neglecting the faith I claim to hold?

Now, this seems a simple issue. Life is busy, hectic, and maddening at times. These products are cheap and provide a handy service. But, I have to deconstruct things and say that while, sure, they provide a service, they also promote many negatives. What negatives? Well, let's begin with the ecological expense, from the simple decomposition rates as well as the environmental footprint left to simply dispose of it. Then back up even further and consider the fact that if we keep on this way, we're gonna need more which is going to necessitate the production of more and more which will release how many more harmful toxins into our air and ecosystem, leaving a less-than-wonderful world for my children to inherit. Again, taking it that step further, what does it say about me that I'm more apt to be a consumer than one who is taking God's creation seriously, honoring it and seeking to beautify and add to it as opposed to poison it?

This is just one system that I've been mentally deconstructing, "in my free time." There are clearly more that my mind has touched on, political, religious, theological, and more. But this is a healthy process, I believe, one that will open me up to more possibilities as to what the world may hold.

Stereo Subversion Goes Live!

My latest adventure has been being a part of Stereo Subversion, a new website devoted to "meaningful music", that just went live today. We're all about finding music that, well, is meaningful, regardless of race, color, creed, and genre. I'm sure you get the picture. I'm pretty excited to be a part of this new thing and so are the rest of us. So, check us out. Tell your friends. Add us to your MySpace friends. Do all that sort of good stuff and stay tuned for more and more. As a matter of fact, why don't you check it out right now? Here's the link:

Stereo Subversion

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Sick to My Stomach

I ran across this story on AOL News this morning and it just made my heart sick. This is the sort of thing that just makes me want to run away and to separate myself from this crowd. Give it a read and let me know what you think.

Church Decision Outrages Family

Friday, August 10, 2007

Lyrics Mirroring Life

Ever have one of those moments when either a new song or an old song pop into your head, perfectly capturing the moment of life you're in? Here's mine today:

We Gotta Get Out of This Place - The Animals
In this dirty old part of the city
Where the sun refused to shine
People tell me there ain't no use in tryin'
Now my girl you're so young and pretty
And one thing I know is true
You'll be dead before your time is due, I know
Watch my daddy in bed a-dyin'
Watched his hair been turnin' grey
He's been workin' and slavin' his life away
Oh yes I know it (Yeah!)
He's been workin' so hard (Yeah!)
I've been workin' too, baby (Yeah!)
Every night and day (Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah!)
We gotta get out of this place
If it's the last thing we ever do
We gotta get out of this place
'cause girl, there's a better life for me and you
Now my girl you're so young and pretty
And one thing I know is true, yeah
You'll be dead before your time is due, I know it
Watch my daddy in bed a-dyin'
Watched his hair been turnin' grey, yeah
He's been workin' and slavin' his life away
I know he's been workin' so hard (Yeah!)
I've been workin' too, baby (Yeah!)
Every day baby (Yeah!)
Whoa! (Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah!)
We gotta get out of this place
If it's the last thing we ever do
We gotta get out of this place
Girl, there's a better life for me and you
Somewhere baby, somehow I know it
We gotta get out of this place
If it's the last thing we ever do
We gotta get out of this place
Girl, there's a better life for me and you
Believe me baby I know it baby
You know it too
'Nuff said? It's been one of those days.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Review: The Wagonmaster - Porter Wagoner

Several months ago when I interviewed Marty Stuart, he mentioned working on this project with Porter Wagoner. So, when it released, I had to hunt it down and give it a listen. Simply amazing. Wagoner is clearly one of the statesmen of the genre and Stuart's production coaxes the best out of the near octogenarian. Haunting, powerful, and stirring, Wagoner's Wagonmaster is a classic listen. Here's the Infuze review:

Review: Up Front and Down Low - Teddy Thompson

I've tended to have a bit of an unreasonable predisposition against those from other countries or backgrounds who have tried to take on country music. Guys like Keith Urban just sort of annoy me. If you speak with an accent like that, country ain't your thing. But I've had to rethink my position after hearing this album from Teddy Thompson which blows me away. A collection of covers and one original, Thompson's taste and delivery are impecible and leave you wanting for more. Here's the Infuze review:

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Review: Remedy - The David Crowder Band

It's no secret to those who know my musical passions that the DC*B is by far one of my favorite bands out there. On top of that, Crowder himself is just one of the coolest personalities that you'll find in music. Humorous, self-deprecating, insightful, and just downright quirky, the guy makes good music. That's why I was a little disappointed at this new release. It just didn't quite measure up to the lofty expectations I held for it. But, it's still worth a listen. Here's the Infuze review:

Review: Chronology V.2 - Third Day

Back with their second greatest hits compilation in less than a year, this volume documents the latter portion of Third Day's career, which is for me by far the less inspiring end of things. Again packaged as a two-disc set, with one being an audio and the other DVD, the set is good for fans of radio-friendly Christian rock or die-hard Third Day fans. Here's the Infuze review:

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Interview: Sherwood

I recently had the chance to sit down and talk with Joe Greenetz, drummer for the MySpace Records flagship band, Sherwood. The band has worked hard to hone their California-friendly sound and has taken it strong to the masses. A little bit pop, a little bit rock 'n roll, with a generous helping of Beach Boys harmony, and you've got a recipe for success. Read the Infuze interview here:

Interview: Sherwood

Monday, August 06, 2007

itunes shuffle, part 2

I took a Marko idea not long ago and registered the first fifteen songs that played when putting itunes on shuffle mode. Well, I've spent the past week uploading some of my music collection into my computer, which, to be honest, still hardly scratches the surface, but I'm curious to see how things turn out this time. So, for my enjoyment alone probably, here goes nothing:

1.) "Love is the Last Thing to Go" - Kris Kristofferson, from The Pilgrim

2.) "Perfectly Fitted" - Lori Chaffer, from Songs from the Voice, Vol. 2

3.) "Born in Bethlehem" - Blind Boys of Alabama, from Go Tell it On the Mountain

4.) "Please Don't Tell Me How the Story Ends - Joan Osborne, from Pretty Little Stranger

5.) "When My Blue Moon Turns to Gold Again" - Elvis Presley, from Tiger Man

6.) "The Rock Song" - Sigor Ros

7.) "Old Dollar Mamie" - from the album, Negro Prison Blues and Songs

8.) "This is Now" - 33Miles, from 33Miles

9.) "Not Ready to Make Nice" - Dixie Chicks, from Taking the Long Way

10.) "The Difference (In the Garden of Saint-Anne's-On-the-Hill)" - Kings X, from Gretchen Goes to Nebraska

11.) "It's Beginning to Get to Me" - Snow Patrol, from Eyes Open

12.) "When Tomorrow Comes" - Pillar, from The Reckoning

13.) "Pretty Polly" - Ralph Stanley and Patty Loveless, from All-Star Bluegrass Celebration

14.) "Promised Land" - Elvis Presley, from 2nd to None

15.) "Mary Goes to Jesus" - John Debney, from The Passion of the Christ Soundtrack

Okay, the eclecticism continues. I'd love to see some of yours! Send them along!

Stranger in a Strange Land

Lately I've been wandering through a strange place, a place that feels as though I have no home. There is nowhere to lay my head, to sit and rest, to call my own. Instead, I feel trapped, insecure, and afraid. The circle of my life swirls around me, dizzying, and I feel overwhelmed. Home holds no rest, no security for it is not mine. Church provides more pain than peace and I find the tears of the past well up within me. Even the most simple of pursuits, work, has become a place where I feel more like a temp than a longtime fixture. It's disconcerting.

One friend has encouraged me to learn my place as a permanent exile/stranger in this land. Still another has exhorted me to rejoice within my pilgrim journey. I've found these to be fitting analogies to where I feel myself going. I do feel exiled from that past I once knew. Parts of me, at times, long for the simplicity of a dogmatic youth, an existence that found peace and contentment within the colors of a black and white world. Yet, the rainbows of the prism have been unleashed within my mind and this is simply not something to be forgotten or cast aside. Yet the longing persists and I hang my head wondering.

It's ironic, really. I haven't, as some may surmise, lost my faith in Christ. Rather, I've lost my faith in Christianity and in many of those who would consider themselves to be it's adherents. The faith I once held dear, that faith of my youth, has been found wanting. The problem comes with the fact that we've stolen the name of Jesus and replaced it with rules, laws, and dogma. We've painted Jesus into a picture of Republican politics, consumer-minded materialism, and bumper sticker religion. I long for a faith that once again plumbs the depths, that touches the hem of the garment of the Divine, and again allows me that sense of peace and fulfillment.

That same friend who referred to me as an exile also exhorted me to stay close to the Sermon on the Mount. Let me leave you with the Beatitudes:

Matthew 5:1-11(NIV) Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them saying: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Bona Fide

There's a great moment within the movie, O Brother Where Art Thou, wherein George Clooney's character has a quick discussion with one of his estranged daughters. It goes something like this:

Ulysses Everett McGill: I am the only daddy you got! I'm the damn paterfamilias!
Wharvey Gal: But you ain't bona fide!

Well, unlike Mr. McGill, I've become bona fide. Genuine-like. I am now, officially, a professional freelance writer. Sure, sure, I've made a few dollars via my work on Associated Content but the majority of my work has been done with the sole purpose of getting my name out there, getting some free stuff, and garnering some good practice. But now, ladies and gentlemen, I've actually received a check! Woo hoo!

"From who?" you ask. Well let me tell you. My good friend and Mr. Miyagi-styled editor and writing mentor Matt is taking on a new venture with Stereo Subversion. We're launching the site on August 13th and I can't be more excited. The site is geared around the pursuit and exposure of what we're simply calling meaningful music. Check us out at Stereo Subversion on the 13th! Tell your friends!

Recent Reads

Ted Dekker is one of the few Christian fictions writers I'll still give a read. Saint is an intriguing read and rivals the pace of Dan Brown or Robert Ludlum. In fact, fans of the Bourne series will find much to enjoy here as I did. Plus, it's quick reading.

Alas, this was a bittersweet read for me. Ever since my dear friend Celena turned me on to reading about Harry and his pals at Hogwarts, I've made short work of the books, devouring my secondhand copies like they were peanut butter sandwiches. I splurged for this latest and last release, largely because I didn't want to have the ending spoiled for me. I wasn't disappointed. Rowling saves some of the best for last and continues the magic. The only bad part is that this is the end.

I finally got back into the groove and started reading something a little more heady than my previous selections. An Emergent Manifesto of Hope is a solid collection of essays from a number of practitioners and thinkers from the collective fellowship and conversation that is Emergent Village. Ultimately a challenging and thought-provoking read, this book not only highlights the unifying points of Emergent, but also it's vast diversity. While there are a few chapters that make for slow reading, the majority of the text is well worth your time.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Review: Libertad - Velvet Revolver

I remember being in middle school, walking along the street with my best friend at the time, and listening to Guns 'N Roses Appetite for Destruction on our mini boom box in route to the comic book store. Obviously, the band possessed about as much maturity as we did and we were faced with the end of one of the best, and perhaps most volatile, rock bands ever. And while Axl continues to work his comeback, Slash and the boys have moved on with Scott Weiland. With their debut album as Velvet Revolver garnering a Grammy, expectations were high this time around, particularly with the Top 40 dreck on the radio right now. The results are mixed. Here's the Infuze review:

Libertad - Velvet Revolver