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Monthly Archives: July 2005

How an evangelical struggles with a Nicodemus-like encounter by Rogier Bos, founding editor, Next-Wave

yes and yes. If you haven’t read the article linked above, this blog won’t make much sense to you.

There’s something very unsettling about how difficult it was for this evangelical-reared writer (and somebody like me) to process this and come to the conclusions he came to.

So many of these ideas are so deeply ingrained in me, that no matter how much I begin to recognize and rant about the errors, the mode of behavior they dictate is exceedingly difficult to overcome. It’s like some kind of “thorn in the flesh”…and I question whether this questionable information ammounts to “sin” as much or even moreso than all those things we are so capable of naming with ease.

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Posted by on July 28, 2005 in Uncategorized

 

The Choir- O How The Mighty Have Fallen

Wow. I can’t stop listening to this CD. These guys have been in the Christian music biz since the early 80’s. They’ve never been “at the top” like Amy Grant or Steven Curtis Chapman or Michael W. Smith. But, they are real and honest and creative, which is more than I can say for most of the drivel found in Christian music imho. The fact is that I haven’t listened to anything out of CCM in quite some time.

(except to find new songs to use at church and the portico and the fact that Ronnie, the guy I help move pianos, always has his radio on the CCM station in the truck. This is easily my biggest complaint about the job…)

Now, (because of moving pianos), I’m getting exposed to this stuff and I honestly think it’s worse than I feared. Of course, I don’t have to worry about the Choir being played on there, even though they were some of the folks that started the whole thing…

Anyway, I wasn’t writing this blog to bitch about CCM. I just wanted to say that the Choir are and remain all of the things that I love about music and songwriting and yet practice their art within the confines of the CCM industry. Thus proving that it can be done. Of course, it also begs the question: Why can’t anybody else in CCM figure it out?

 
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Posted by on July 28, 2005 in Uncategorized

 

bloggedy blog

I don’t know why I’ve been so lax with blogging lately. I feel like I’ve been really busy and haven’t had time to do anything, but I also feel like I’ve not been very productive, either. Here’s random updates as they come to my mind:

-A week ago yesturday Holly and I opened for Kelly Jones for a concert at her church. She is such a great person and great singer/songwriter. I’m so proud to be her friend and to have produced her first 3 CDs. Her husband, Aaron, is also a great guy. Whenever we see them, we all say that we need to hang out more, but they’re busy too. She’s saying that she’s about ready for a new CD and assures me that I’m producing, so I’m looking forward to that.

-played at US Pizza last Wednesday on the patio. It was too freakin’ hot! 3 hour gig on the patio and by the time I was done setting up the sound system I thought I was going to melt. It’s amazing how much energy I CANNOT come up with to perform when I’m hot like that. I booked another gig there, but it’s not till late September. Hopefully it will be cooler by then.

-last Friday, played at Teatro Scarpino’s with 3 other songwriters: Effron White, Sarah Hughes, and Justin Brasher. I was pretty apprehensive about how it was going to turn out because it was $5 to get in the door and I didn’t know if anybody would come out. It was AWESOME! We had a GREAT turn out and had lots of fun. Thanks to anybody who might be reading this who came out! I know that everybody involved was really pleased with the evening, so I’m sure that we’ll be doing it again sometime.

-Last weekend I got a call from a music minister in KC who was getting ready to go on vacation and whoever he had scheduled as his sub fell through at the last minute. He’d asked my friend, Rustin Smith if he could sub, but Rustin couldn’t get out of his sunday am responsibilities and he suggested me. James said that he’d cover for me at NS, so we left for KC Saturday night and led music at this big E. Free Church for two services. People were really friendly, we had a great band, and we sold 17 CDs! Afterwards, the minister invited Holly and I to eat at Chili’s with his family and we had a fun.

-I finished the Calvin Becker trilogy while I got Holly to drive on the way to on Saturday. Again, I think they’re funny and pointed in illuminating the hypocrisy and absurdity in some christians’ thinking. However, I’m a little disappointed and a little disturbed that in the 2nd and the 3rd books, that none of the ridiculous antagonists (basically all of calvin’s family) ever come to realization of just how evil their actions are. I don’t know how to talk about this without somebody actually reading the novels, so if anybody reads them, email me, I’d like to know what you think.

-I finally got a copy of the new John Irving novel “Until I Find You” (see title link of this blog) from inter-library loan. I’m not far enough into it to really know anything, but I’ve read some reviews and I LOVE John Irving, so I’m excited about it. I’m also glad to have something right after finishing the calvin trilogy.

-I also got into a 4 day taste test that pays $150 walmart card that starts today! I’m thinking that I might use the $150 to buy an MP3 player, but I haven’t decided yet.

-Speaking of music, I received my copy of the newest, independently released CD of the Choir called “O how the Mighty Have Fallen”. I got it in the mail right before we left for KC, so I got to listen to it a couple of times on the trip. If you don’t know, I’ve been listening to the Choir since about 8th grade. I’ve probably mentioned this on this blog before, but shortly after Vagabond Dancing came out, a Nashvegas guy, who at the time ran an independent music web-site and eventually became an a/r guy for word said that Vagabond reminded him of the Choir. He was referring to the music, but I didn’t and still don’t really agree with that. However, his remark made me start looking at the Choir again and realize that I think my lyric writing may have been influenced by this band more than anybody else. All that to say, along with U2, the Choir are way at the top of my list and this CD delivers like all the rest. Just listening through it the first couple of times, I am so thankful for this band. They inspire and encourage me with their honesty and their artistry. You need to check them out.

Whew! So, I guess I’ve been gigging and reading. I’ve been trying to write some lately and have made some very tiny breakthroughs on a couple of songs I’ve been working on, but sometimes that’s just more frustrating. Ok, so that’s the update.

 
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Posted by on July 25, 2005 in Uncategorized

 

trilogy

I know, it’s been awhile. I don’t know why, but it just seems like I haven’t had a chance to breathe lately.

I mentioned Franky Schaeffer in my last blog, and in reading Sham Pearls I got curious about what Frank has been up to. By googling, I found his web-site and was pleasantly surprised to find out that he’d written two sequals to a novel that Holly and I had both read and enjoyed a number of years ago.

Portofino is about a family of missionaries to Switzerland and their yearly vacation to Portofino, Italy. The main protagonist is the youngest son, Calvin. I borrowed the book from the library back when we lived in Manhattan, and enjoyed it so much that I made Holly read it and she liked it to.

Well, when I found out there were two more books, I got on half.com and ordered the complete trilogy right away. Portofino got here first, which was good because I wanted to read it again before I dove into the others.

Wow! I enjoyed it so much the 2nd time. It’s funny and touching and honest and completely engaging.

I just finished the 2nd book, Zermatt, and was a little disappointed with some repetition early on, found pure reading gold about 3/4 through and then was horribly disappointed by the ending! As elated as I was with some of the story 3/4 in, the ending really made me angry. Because of all this, I started the 3rd book right away in hopes that it would resolve the some of the things that pissed me off so badly.

Anyway, follow the link above. Great summer reading novels for you.

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2005 in Uncategorized

 

Brian McLaren and realizing how Franky Shaeffer has influenced my life.

I found another article about McLaren. Believe it or not, I still think he’s got good things to say.

Saturday night I was so tired that I couldn’t keep my eyes open as I was reading Faulkner in bed. As soon as I turned out the light, I was wide awake. This happens to me sometimes when I’ve got something weighing on my mind. The weird thing is that the other night, I really didn’t have anything tumbling around, I just couldn’t fall asleep. It was so frustrating. So, I rolled around for a couple hours, and then I thought that I could go read something like C. S. Lewis (which makes my brain hurt which makes me sleepy) and I could fall asleep.

That may have worked, but when I went to get some Lewis, I picked up a book by Franky (son of Francis) Schaeffer, instead. I know that I read his previous book, Addicted to Mediocrity, for a class in college. I also remember that I liked it so much, I read Sham Pearls before Real Swine, but the could have been 10 years ago or more. Anyway, I picked up Sham Pearls and read for like 3 hours.

I so needed to read that. I hadn’t realized how much Franky had influenced my personal philosophy of the relationships between art, christianity, and commerce. It was like reading my own manifesto.

At the time, Franky was a film maker trying to do good work, build up his resume and hoping for the opportunities to work on bigger and better projects. His frustrations with small-minded, ignorant christians, cherishing of small successes, and struggles to make some kind of living with his art uncannily mirrors my life.

Obviously, when I read that book 10-some years ago, I picked up lots of his philosophy. When I read the other night, I received some needed encouragement and some tools to deal.

Now, if I would have just got some sleep…

 
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Posted by on July 4, 2005 in Uncategorized

 

Over the Rhine trip to St. Louis

I don’t know what it is, but as I get older, sleep doesn’t seem to be as easy as it used to be. Last night, I was really tired, but when i went to bed, I just couldn’t fall asleep. That happens once in awhile and it’s incredibly frustrating.

Last friday, two of my friends, Jess and Kendra and I loaded into Kendra’s cool Santa Fe and drove to St. Louis. My biggest reason for going was to get to hang out with my sister a little bit, but the whole idea for going came from Jessica wanting to go see this band, Over the Rhine. I’d heard of OTR and listened to their music a little bit, but I can’t say I was a big fan. However, I thought it would be fun to go see my sister, C, and check out this group.

The show as at this REALLy cool club called the Duck Room which is in the basement of a bar/grill. We were lucky in that we got into the concert, got seats and a table and were able to eat our dinner while waiting for the show to start.

OTR were really great. They’re a married couple that write together and he plays predominantly piano and she plays some acoustic. They also had a lead player, drummer, and another girl who sang some bgvs. Their music is pretty mellow, very folky and a little jazzy at times. But mostly, I’d describe it as piano-based folk.

What struck me the most and what has been itching in my brain since seeing them boils down to 2 things: 1) How did they get themselves and their charming, thoughtful, spiritual music heard by this group of people in St. Louis who obviously love it? 2)How do they get away with being so open and honest about the obvious emphasis they put on their christian faith they hold onto?

The first question has to do with marketing, luck, providence and a whole slew of things that I ponder all the time and still can’t figure out, so for the time being, I’m not going to let that leak out of my brain onto this blog. However, the 2nd question could be pertinent here.

Unfortunately, their ability to be honest with their faith with their audience, of which I am sure was made up of some Christians and some not, frankly made me a little jealous. It makes me wonder how much they have had to deal with their own “SWs”.

I know that nobody wants to talk about him and some who read here will be disappointed that I’m bringing him up. It’s obvious from SW’s own blog and the most recent comments he’s left here (that I deleted as fast as I could) that he really has no care with being helpful or constructive and that trying to deal with him directly just feeds his cravings for attention and controversy. Because of this, I will try not to respond to SW’s previous or future statements in hopes that the lack of attention will simply keep him away. However, SW’s rants toward and about me bring into focus personal struggle for me that I still can’t figure out how to resolve.

I’ve never been concerned with the thought that SW just doesn’t like me. Believe me, I’ve known plenty of people who don’t like me and don’t like my music. That comes with the territory. I’m used to it.

But, I think at the bottom of his problems with me is the belief that as an artist, I’m just not being Christian enough for him to see any validity in what I’m trying to do with my music. More than anything, as an artist, I want to be understood, and this judgement that I sense shows SW’s lack in understanding. And my dealing with him has been because I want him (and any number of others who might have the same types of questions/concerns) to understand, even if he may not agree. (I will add that in this particular medium, I don’t believe that SW specifically, is capable of understanding. That’s why it’s not worth trying to get him to understand him while he continues to feel it necessary to maintain the charade of his anonymity.)

It is interesting that in my experiences of sharing my songs and music the most honestly and transperantly, it is usually the non-christians that have responded with most enthusiasm and support even of music expressing a belief system that that they may not share. If/when dissenting voices are heard, they have invariably come from the “christian” likes of SW. And I’m still not sure how to deal with this.

Disclaimer: Words cannot express the awareness and gratitude I feel for the support of the majority of the people that happen to read this blog. I know that you “get it” and I’m so glad you’re my friends and I don’t want to make light of the emotional support you’ve sent my way. Unfortunately, the attitudes by the likes of SW “stick in my craw” and I’m still trying to figure out how to get people like him to “get it” like you all. Thanks for putting up with my struggle.

 
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Posted by on July 1, 2005 in Uncategorized