White Flour- A Book Review
written by David Lamotte
illustrated by Jenn Hales
A few months ago, a friend was telling me about a concert that he attended (the day AFTER he attended it) and told me about this singer/songwriter, David Lamotte. To be fair, he might have invited me to go before hand but I’m sure that I was just too busy with something or other. But something about his telling me about the concert made me wish that for once, I would have gotten off my lazy but and gone.
Apparently, this Lamotte guy is not only a singer/songwriter, but a book author, public speaker, and according to his bio: “itinerant peace guy”. I’ll let you figure out what that means for yourself. My friend told me about this book, White Flour. It’s a picture book, written in simple rhyme and meter re-telling the true story of an awesome group of people who took a unique and creative approach to a disheartening situation.
It’s worth the 5-10 minute read and I don’t want to give it all away. It’s the story of the Coup Clutz Clown activists and how they refused to let the insanity and hate of a White Power parade overwhelm the determination of joy, love, and plain silliness. I wouldn’t say it’s Dr. Seuss, but the rhymes rarely sound overly forced and the story is propelled by the rhythm and cadence of the verses. The illustrations are whimsical and colorful and sure to help children of any age grasp understanding of the story. Historical events really need not be boring, folks!
As a 7th grade Literacy & Social Studies teacher, it is always difficult to know how to respond when students are understandably confused and struggle with understanding the attitudes and culture that would hate others based solely on race. I look forward to being able to share this triumphant story and give students a glimpse of how creativity, love, and kindness can overcome and disable the power of hate and intolerance.
New music coming…. ?
So, I don’t know exactly what to do with this, and I’m sorry that my demeanor has not been as excited as my friends who have brought it up to me. Mostly, this news just means I need to get busy and get some songs written!
Chris (East Hall’s Engineer) would like to get all of these E.P.’s completed before the end of the year. So, I guess I even have a deadline. That could be a good thing, too.
It also means that this will likely be a unique recording experience than any of my past releases. Whereas gypsy heart was assembled piece by piece in my spare bedroom, this will likely be at least more of a “live-in-the-studio” affair. Of course, I don’t really know since I don’t have the songs…
I’ll keep you posted.
In other news: It’s too damn hot for any other news.
Stay thirsty, my friends…
Major Toht and Random triggers of Memory
Today, in celebration of completion of week long (hell) benchmark testing, I threw Raiders of the Lost Ark into the DVD player and let my 7th graders experience the awesomeness of Indiana Jones.
I came to the scene where Marion Ravenwood is being held captive and the evil, bespectacled nazi, Major Arnold Toht, (You know, the weird little guy who’s face gets melted off later in th movie by the power of God) has just entered the tent where she is being held.
It has already been made clear that, if nothing else, Majo Toht is a master of coercion (torture) and he’s been assigned the task of convincing Marion to divulge further useful information about where to find the “Well of Souls” where the Lost Ark is located.
Major Toht enters and speaks in his creepy, weird-voice way; hinting at the pain and humiliation he intends for Marion’s near future. All the while, he manipulates a curious contraption made of sticks and chains that is obviously intended to make the movie viewer (and possibly Marion) believe he’s preparing to beat her with nunchucks. However, he ultimately completes his construction only to reveal is actually some kind of travel coat hanger.
While watching this afternoon, I was struck by distinct, clear memory of my dad being particularly tickled by this bit of business. I know that he thought this character was particularly entertaining and I clearly remember him laughing out loud at this part of the movie.
Now, my dad died nearly 20 years ago in 1993. I suppose it is possible that I have this vivid memory from watching a re-run of the movie on TV or even on vhs, but I really can’t remember when this could have happened.
It just always surprises and delights me to come in contact with things that conjure such strong associations with my dad. It makes me miss him and think about all of the good things in my life that I wish he could have been a part.
But, mostly the scene itself just made me smile to remember how much my dad loved that character and that performance. Thanks, Raiders of the Lost Ark!
It’s been awhile…
It is crazy to think that nearly 5.5 years ago, my last Mazda MPV (mini-van) died. (transmission…again.) For those who have wondered, and I know there aren’t too terribly many, that was at least one of my brain’s excuses for not not playing out locally since then.
Other factors have been involved: Daughter #1, starting a new vocation, laziness, other distractions, daughter #2, writer’s block (?), burnout (?), etc. And even though I probably could have fit some if not all I needed in terms of sound equipment into the Moby (the white whale mercury sable), it was convenient to use the difficulty of transporting pa as excuse enough to not pursue any new venues or gigs.
And now, just after Christmas, we finally got rid of Moby and got the family mini-van. Swagger Wagon? I wouldn’t go that far. It’s white, too. But it beats the crap out of Moby. And it could carry lots of sound equipment….
It’s not like I’ve been productive in writing. It’s not like I’ve made any progress in my guitar technique. In fact, it’s more than possible that what skills I possessed have atrophied.
But I’ve been thinking about it lately: writing, I mean. And here I sit in a potential venue wondering what it would take to book a gig.
Would anybody be interested in that? Would I be interested in that? Stay tuned…
For lack of better terminology…
I know there’s another blog post on here somewhere about this particular topic. I’ve been just outside of a couple of interpersonal skirmishes lately that have got me thinking about it again.
I’m not trying to call anybody out and I’m not trying to passive-aggressively correct anybody. Frankly, neither of the situations have much, if anything to do with me, and I really doubt that anybody in those situations will end up reading these words anyway.
Nobody really likes to talk about it; unless you’re talking about somebody else’s vice. Of course, talking about somebody else’s sin makes one feel judgmental or hypocritical, thereby exposing oneself to further scrutiny. Because of this, even the concept seems to have been obscured a bit. It’s often difficult to discern at times, especially when pride, preferences, and personal convictions collide in the real world.
This is my own indicator: Anything that causes separation is suspect. Does a personal conviction cause the breaking of fellowship with friends? family? church? workplace? God?
Sometimes breaking fellowship is necessary. Even if there is sin involved. A physically/emotionally/spiritually abused/exploited spouse/lover/friend/church member/kin needs to get the hell out of there. This, not only for their own well being, but for education/edification/correction of the abuser/exploiter. It may not change the abuser/exploiter’s ways, but hopefully it will be a hint along the way of the need for better interpersonal interaction. Spiritual/emotional bullies need to hear (sometimes repeatedly) that they will not be allowed to continue to be so.
But if you find yourself moving out of every relationship, maybe it’s time to consider the common denominator. When conflict causes relationship stresses involving family, whether within, or your family’s relationship to others, motivations need to be scrutinized that much more meticulously. You are not your own.
No matter how justified or persecuted you feel, no matter how you consider yourself a prophet or spiritually gifted with discernment, the fruits of the spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control+ couple more: grace and forgiveness) trump personal convictions and preferences every time. If not, then you need to deal with the other P: pride.
And she’s a bitch.
Pride is a bitch because she tells you that you don’t need anybody. You don’t need that wife that’s always nagging you. You don’t need that parent that keeps meddling in your life. You don’t need that church that is unwilling to change for your personal revelation. You don’t need that job that doesn’t appreciate your hard work and dedication appropriately. You don’t need that fair-weather friend that only communicates when he/she wants something from you. All you need is her. Your pride. Your dignity. Your convictions.
But when you’re left with only her, she’s still a bitch. She’s frigid cold, but she’ll burn you up.
We were not made to experience life alone.
If I were a better or possibly just more diligent writer, I could probably work the swirling mélange of ideas in my head and form them into a cohesive, cogent blog entry. At this point the best I can do is try to describe some events and ideas that I have been confronted with in the last couple of days and try to connect the dots as they seem to be slowly forming in my mind. Here goes…
-Just the other day, I posted a video link on facebook of an impressive young man sharing his story in defense of gay couples raising children and being families. If I didn’t actually share it in the past, I know that I’ve seen it. The video itself support my own convictions of the travesty of political/religious groups attempting to ban homosexual couples from foster and adoptive parent eligibility.
-I thought my point was obviously specific to that issue, but I received more than a couple of pieces of feedback questioning my personal beliefs about gay marriage and even homosexuality. This led me to clarify my point of sharing the video. I felt like what conversation and discussion that resulted on facebook seemed positive even if brief.
-For the last few weeks, my 7th grade AR History students have been learning about the Civil War, Reconstruction and we’re getting ready to explore the Civil Rights movement, (specifically the Littler Rock 9). In discussing the history of our country and how blacks were enslaved before the Civil War and how they were treated as freedmen after the Civil War, my students are often appalled and amazed at one group of people could possibly mistreat another group of people this way. They will often hear about some injustice and will flat out ask me, “How did people do this? How could they think this was ok? How could they not understand this is simple wrong? Even evil?”
I try to tell them, it was a very different time and all people lived in a very different world where they were told and learned very differently. 7th graders have a hard time understanding that, and honestly it’s difficult for me to understand, too. I anticipate even more frustration and disbelief when we start examining segregation and society as it was leading up to the Civil Rights movement of the ‘50s-‘60s.
-I was born after the ‘60s in a community with very few black families; in fact I think there might have been 2 black girls (sisters) in my high school in the whole school system (k-12) that I remember. Roxanne was two years ahead of me in school and lived near my girlfriend, so we hung out and I’d say we were friends. Honestly, I have no idea how her life was different or harder than mine other than when I found out that she only washed her hair once a week. It was difficult for me understand that was an important regimen to keep her hair, which was different than mine, healthy. All of this to say, that while I was growing up, I really had no experience in navigating racial issues because I simply did not have any experience. Roxy was my friend, but no event ever happened in my where I was forced to deal with any racial issues.
-Tonight, Holly and I went to see The Help which fed more contemplation of segregation and inequality issues. I enjoyed the movie. It dealt with a lot of very difficult collective memory of our society with a lot of humor. But it was still difficult to confront. I found myself feeling much same way and questioning like my 7th grade students: How could people be this way? How can they not see how awful, ugly they are being to another human being? How can that woman, even stating that her actions are by virtue of her being a “Christian woman”, be such a complete, evil, hateful bitch? And this movie was set just about 50 years ago? In some ways, I’m so happy that we’ve come so far that even my 7th graders are aghast at the very idea that this was our American society a very short time ago.
Finally, I couldn’t help but start thinking about gay rights, gay marriage, etc. and how history will view our society 20, 30, 40+ years from now.
Will there be books and movies about churches and religious/political activist groups pushing to hinder rights and freedoms another certain people group in the 2000-2010’s? No what your position of how or why there are homosexual people, the reality is that there ARE homosexual people and the most important part is that no matter how you think or feel about that, they are people.
Will my daughters field questions from their sons and daughters asking how it could be like that?
How could the church could be so self-righteous in its certitude and so hateful and cruel that they were actually leaders in hurting people and denying rights to another people group that we all hold dear?
Will my daughters have to grimace and try to explain how it was a different time and society was different all the while still not really being able to wrap their own minds and emotions around this historical reality?
I hope so.
“If the US Government was a family, they would be making $58,000 a year, they spend $75,000 a year, & are $327,000 in credit card debt. They are currently proposing BIG spending cuts to reduce their spending to $72,000 a year. These are the actual proportions of the federal budget & debt, reduced to a level that we can understand.”
– Dave Ramsey
Today, I found this quote on my FB wall posted by a number of my friends. After taking a Quantitative Literacy class this summer, my first thought is to wonder where he came up with those numbers and wonder if this is accurate. I’ll admit I’m not a Dave Ramsey disciple, I’ve never taken a class or gone through any of his studies. However, I don’t have a problem with him and from what I do know of him, I’d be willing to put my trust in that the illustration is accurate.
Assuming it’s accurate, I like it a lot. I appreciate his analysis and putting it in terms that are more easily understood. What a great way to illustrate our predicament.
But I am puzzled. All of the thoughtful, intelligent friends who shared this quote, either explicitly identify their political views as “Conservative” or else I suspect their identification with Conservative ideology just because of what I know of them. (If any of you read this and this isn’t accurate, I apologize for assuming.)
So, what is the point my thoughtful, intelligent friends are trying to make?
I mean they’ve obviously not cut enough spending. In fact, what little they cut seems almost pointless to do so. I can get behind that. But, it seems like in all of this discussion there were at least a couple of times that our President was offering to make deeper cuts. Why didn’t they happen?
But let’s consider some more, let’s say this family actually accomplishes the (obviously herculean) task of reducing their spending by 23%. (They only accomplished .04%, but we’re just pretending…) So, now this family is actually living (barely) within its means still making $58,000 and only spending $57,750. So, they’ve got a whopping $50 to chip away at that $325,000 credit card debt. Since we’re still pretending, let’s pretend that is the magical 0% interest debt. In which case it would only take 6,540 years to pay it off.
So, it is baffling to me that Conservative legislators (or anybody else) can be so distraught and up in arms about our deficit and, at the same time, so adamantly, vehemently, obstinately opposed to coming up with additional revenue. Why didn’t deeper cuts happen? Because closing tax loopholes (not even raising taxes) and making more revenue were not options allowed to be considered because staunch Conservatives would not hear it.
My point is that it seems to me absolutely ludicrous, illogical, and pointless to fight and argue to reduce the deficit without being willing to increase revenue.
Right now, I am facing the prospect of our budget being suddenly about 15% more than the family income, and that’s not even including the debt that we’ve been chipping away at. And guess what: we’ve already cut our budget to the bleeding edge. (Oh, I might be able to cut our budget by another .04%…but again, what’s even the point of that?)
So, now I’m in search of additional income and I’m just guessing that Dave Ramsey would agree with me.
Summer Blog ’11 (Blog?!?)
This is transcribed from a series of tweets from Linford Detweiler, songwriter/pianist/bandleader or Over the Rhine. It really hit me where I’m living at the moment. Wanted to post it so that I wouldn’t lose it.