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Thursday, December 31, 2009

So this is the New Year...

Its New Year's Eve. And I don't have much to say. Its been quite a year--dare I say, the best year of my life. I love life. I love this life I live. I love this life I share.

Resolutions? Nah. I have a few goals. No resolutions. I do wanna record an EP. I've already talked to Nate about doing the cover art. We discussed some ideas last night. I've been tossing around the idea of titling it "The Monsters Aren't Under My Bed Anymore." Now I just need to finish my song selection and work on a place to record it.

I want to unplug from the consumeristic ways of life. I want to buy less and love more. I want to practice being less materialistic.

I want to continue to read lots of books and write lots of music.

I want to travel. Lots.

I want to get more tattoos. Lots.

I want to love my wife with wreckless abandon.

I want to love my family and friends well.

I want to love God with everything I have. I want to love my neighbor the same.

I want to live this life to the fullest.

Tomorrow is no different than today. Its just tomorrow. I hope I can face every day with open arms. Even on the days I struggle with why I do anything. Even on the days when the world is dark and my heart aches under the weight of it all. Even on the days when everything seems futile. Even on the days when humanity reveals the fall that we carry around in our chests.

"So this is the New Year--and I don't feel any different."

Thursday, December 24, 2009

However you choose to say it...

Happy Holidays.
Merry Christmas.
Feliz Navidad.
Happy Kwanzaa.
Happy Channukah.
Merry Xmas.
Etc.

The wording isn't the important part to me.

This day, I celebrate incarnation and the hope that brings.

Grace and peace, friends.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Dogs...

This is Penelope Jane. I like her. She gets a little anxious when people enter the house, but other than that, we get along great. She's my favorite dog.



Then there's this dude:



Capo Hemingway. He's Brittany's dog. Don't get me wrong, I like him, too. He's very sweet and loving. Likes to be held. Needs very little exercise. Doesn't need to go out often. But he smells. And he licks everything all the time. However, I have grown accustomed to these things and learned to tolerate him.

But last week, all that changed. Capo decided to pee in my guitar gear bag. Not on it. In it. I left it on the floor Thursday, and when I opened it that evening, it smelled like piss and there was clearly yellow liquid all over some stuff in the front pouch. I called Brittany and told her to prepare herself--I was going to kill the dog or take him back to the Humane Society. She informed me I wasn't allowed to do either one.

He's at my feet right now. Looking around like he's confused. Wearing his red polo and licking the air. He's a weird, scraggly little dog. But I love him, even when I don't want to.

(He doesn't know he's not my favorite. So don't tell him.)

It makes me wonder how God feels when he looks at humanity.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

I love honest opinions...

I have strong opinions about lots of things (ie, music, guitars, guitar amps, guitar effects pedals, food, drink, literature, movies, politics, religion, religious people, institutions, etc etc). I don't have a problem sharing my opinions on the blog world--if you don't want to hear them, then don't read this blog. And I don't have a problem sharing my opinions in the real world if someone asks--if you don't want an honest answer, then don't ask me.

Ergo, I loved reading this.

...or "Commentary on American Culture"

"Meet the Natives" is a fantastic show on the Travel Channel. When Brittany first told me she wanted to watch it a few weeks ago, I'll admit that I was a little leery. Sunday nights are pretty much the only time we sit down and watch TV together, so we don't waste it on crappy shows. When they're on, we ALWAYS watch "The Amazing Race" and "Desperate Housewives" and "Storm Chasers." So when Brit mentioned this show, I was concerned it wouldn't meet our high standards for Sunday night viewing. I was a little scared it would be poking fun at the Natives. I was wrong.

"Meet the Natives" is incredible. There are always great moments. These 5 men (the chief, the happy man, the head dancer, the medicine man, and the translator) from a tribe in Tanna are bought to America and stay with families for a week at a time. They started in Montana before moving on to New York, Illinois, California, Georgia, and finally DC. Each episode, they've shared one main message: they hope that Americans will stop their wars and be at peace with other people. They are bright, funny, and always interested in what's going on around them.

Instead of this show making fun of these men, these men make some of the most insightful comments on American culture and the American way of life. They aren't being critical--most of the time they are simply making observations among themselves and the closed-captioning translation at the bottom of the screen lets us (the viewers) in on what they're saying. But there have been several "wow" moments caused by the words of these five men from Tanna. This is probably my favorite:



Catch up on the episodes online--they're all posted on Youtube. The 2 hour finale is next Sunday night. It is well worth watching.

Monday, December 7, 2009

'Cause you are the devil and you are bad...

Glenn Beck might be the devil.

In between watching PTI on EPSN at the gym tonight, I would catch a minute or two of Glenn Beck's show. I don't watch any news talk shows on a regular basis (unless you count the Colbert Report or the Daily Show), much less Beck's hour of misinformation. But he's always interesting to check in on. Why? Because he's always do the same asinine things: slamming liberals, hating on the president, spreading misinformation, talking about how others create a climate of fear, and creating a climate of fear himself.

In tonight's show, he slammed all the people who spread the "lie" of global warming (like Al Gore and all the scientists meeting in Denmark right now) saying they're wasteful human beings and that they are spreading fear about climate change (that, according to him, doesn't exist).

He then goes on to talk about possible changes to our country's energy policies. You can watch the video if you'd like.



So he slams scientists who who are warning the world about climate change due to human wastes and such, then goes on to talk about how the country is going to go broke if we try to change our current energy systems. Isn't he doing the same thing he hates on others for doing?!?!? Of course he is. Why? Because people who watch his show don't care. Its called confirmation bias. People listen to what they want to listen to so they can reaffirm what they already believe. Nobody who watches Beck's show is going to question it.

My bigger problem with Beck's show is this: he's scaring people into not changing. If we don't acknowledge climate change, then there's no need to change the way we produce energy, or how excessive we live, or how much waste/pollution we produce. The problem with that is: if we don't change, how bad will it get until we realize its too late? How much of the earth will be ruined so it can't be healed? How many millions of people across the world will suffer due to the wasteful and excessive lives of Americans?

Glenn Beck might be the devil. Why? Because I'd venture to say that the majority of people who watch his show are either (a) conservative, (b) Christians, or (c) both. People are buying this garbage. People listen to Beck and take his word as truth. They eat it up. Its only going to further divide us as a people and make things worse.

If we refuse to acknowledge the need to change, so we don't change, then we're really screwing ourselves. Whole industries are going bankrupt. Pollution and waste are ruining our planet. Our energy consumption drives the need for energy produced from non-sustainable and bad sources. So instead of acknowledging the problem and seeking to rectify it by coming up with new ideas and new industries and new jobs and new processes, people like Beck want to keep the money and power where it us by scaring people into not changing.

So, for these reasons, and many more, I think Glenn Beck might be the devil.

After Psalm 137

We're still in Babylon but
We do not weep
Why should we weep?
We have forgotten
How to weep

We've sold our harps
And bought ourselves machines
That do our singing for us
And who remembers now
The songs we sang in Zion?

We have got used to exile
We hardly notice
Our captivity
For some of us
There are such comforts here
Such luxuries

Even a guard
To keep the beggars
From annoying us

Jerusalem
We have forgotten you.


"After Psalm 137" by Anne Porter, from Living Things Collected Poems. © Zoland Books, 2006.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Why do I blog?

I've been thinking about that question a lot lately.

Why do I blog?

I've always said that I was thinking out loud, more or less. That I was putting my thoughts and ideas into words to better understand them and work through them. I wanted to hear feedback on what I was thinking. I wanted to share some of my heart and life.

Then too, I think I felt like I had something to prove. I felt like I had been screwed over by a lot of people who I never thought would treat me like they did... talk about me like they did... and do the same to my wife and friends. I wanted people to know that there was logic and reason and sincere passion behind what I was going through and the changes in my belief systems. I have been called (and still get called) some interesting names, and was always on the defensive. At the end of the day, I don't think I wanted to convince anyone to believe like me--I just wanted them to understand that it was okay for me to not believe what/how they believed.

I had such a huge chip on my shoulder, and its carried on for a few years. There have been some lingering reminders of things that I haven't let go of.

But I've found myself moving on. I've found myself learning to let go of a lot of the pain and anger I've carried around for a while now. I'm not changing the world here. I'm not convincing anyone to think any differently than they already do. Besides, I'd rather do those things in the real world, through real action and real conversations with real people.

And I've also found myself with less of a desire to post entries on here. Ergo, I've been thinking about deleting this blog for a while now. I don't know if I'd stop blogging altogether, but I'd stop with this blog. Its titled a certain way for specific reasons. If I were to simply blog about my life, it would need a makeover and a new name.

I haven't made up my mind yet. I don't know if I'm writing this to get your input or just to tell you what I'm thinking about. At some points, I've had up to 100 individuals checking this blog on a daily basis. Some weeks I've had hits in the thousands--which, to me, sounds like a lot for some no-name dude in south central Kentucky writing a blog. Recently, however, I've kind of leveled off at 25-40 individuals reading along regularly. So, to those of you who care: maintain the usual? Blog about heated issues in Christianity and politics and such... or drop most of that and just blog about life and include more pictures?

Just curious.

Thursday, November 26, 2009



Happy Thanksgiving everyone...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

So...

I went to New York City last week. To say it was "great" is not good enough. Just not good enough. It was simply terrific. The city makes you feel so alive and there's so much to experience. So I have stories and photos to share, but life is busy and I don't have enough time to write them this week.

However, there is something I want to share. My lovely wife is something of a blog stalker. She reads all kinds of blogs and rarely comments. Occasionally, she'll email me a link to one. She doesn't do this often, so when she does, its typically a good read.

Well, Brittany emailed me today. A few minutes ago actually. She sent me this link. I can assure you, Rachel is always a great writer with wonderful stories--but to call this post "beautiful" is not good enough. Just not good enough.

We are all to be about the work of setting things right--even in the small moments--because what we do matters.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Well...


Hopefully I'll have some stories to share...


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

My Problem With John Piper...

John Piper is obviously a smart guy. He's much smarter than me, to say the least. He's a good writer and a passionate speaker. I have no doubt that he sincerely believes that the things he says, does, and teaches are Biblically correct. Because he thinks his view on Christianity is the correct view and all other views are wrong, then (in his mind and following that logic) the most loving thing he can do is to try and convince others to believe the same as he does.

I don't buy it.

I don't have an issue with Piper because he's Reformed or Baptist. I know that may shock some of you, but I really don't have an issue with someone choosing to label themselves one of those things. My issue with Piper really are "issues" in that they are two-fold.

Problem with Piper #1:
On August 19th, 2009, a tornado hit downtown Minneapolis. On that day, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) was meeting there to vote on a proposal that would allow members in homosexual relationships to serve as clergy. On August 20th, 2009, John Piper wrote on his blog about this event (the tornado hitting the city at the same time as the ELCA meeting to discuss making a public stand on their denomination's approach to homosexual clergy). He wrote the following: "Conclusion: The tornado in Minneapolis was a gentle but firm warning to the ELCA and all of us: Turn from the approval of sin. Turn from the promotion of behaviors that lead to destruction. Reaffirm the great Lutheran heritage of allegiance to the truth and authority of Scripture. Turn back from distorting the grace of God into sensuality. Rejoice in the pardon of the cross of Christ and its power to transform left and right wing sinners."

I, and millions of other Christians, don't have a problem with a person acknowledging their homosexual nature. I've written many times about my views on homosexuality. You can search my blog for those posts. I think people take verses from the Bible and use them as ammunition to prove their perspective. Being gay isn't a sin any more than having blonde hair or liking hamburgers. People can't help what they are. I've also made it clear that I think homosexual eroticism is outside of what God wants for us--but that's coming from a middle-class, white, male blogger in south central Kentucky, so take it for what you will. But I digress...

So, John Piper made the claim that God sent a tornado on downtown Minneapolis as a warning sign to the Lutherans and that Biblically it was clear what was happening. Apparently, according to John Piper, the Lutherans were endorsing sin and God was telling them not to. My problem is this: millions and millions of people will die this year because of preventable disease, lack of clean water, and starvation... and God doesn't intervene on their behalf; but, according to John Piper, God will send a tornado to warn a group of denominational leaders to keep homosexuals from being clergy.

As the French say: "WTF?"

Listen, I don't understand how God interacts with humanity. I wrestle with it daily. I want to understand. I want to better comprehend how God works and what I can do to better impact our planet. But I can promise you this: if God isn't actively intervening on behalf on the sick, hungry, and dying, then he isn't sending tornadoes on midwestern US cities to warn people about the dangers of gay church leaders.

Problem with Piper #2:
Piper has a huge audience with college students. Not only does he greatly appeal to the young, restless and reformed crowd, but he also appeals to the typical college student who is trying to figure out what it means to be a follower of Jesus. Though his books are wordy and complicated, people keep reading them. Though his sermons are harsh, blunt, and present a very narrow perspective on the Christian faith, people keep listening to them. I can glean the good and skip over the bad stuff. But I would venture to say that many people devour every word from the mouth of John Piper as pure Biblical truth.

So, my second problem is this: Piper has a huge audience of people that he can greatly affect with his words. People take what he says as truth--people who like him tend not to question a guy like him. So when someone reads John Piper's blog and he's saying that God sends tornadoes on midwestern cities to warn a denomination about accepting gay clergy and he drops a few verses from the Bible in, then they take that as truth. They take that as Biblical truth. They agree with him in accepting this view of God. And what kind of God is this that he's telling people about? A God who is willing to let millions of innocent children die annually because of nothing they've done, yet sends tornadoes when people start talking about homosexuality. To me, that's such a hate-filled perspective on God.

When I read about the life of Jesus (when I see the things he did, the people he spent time with, the words he shared), I don't come away with anything but a view of a God that loves humanity and wants the best for all of them. But when I read the things Piper writes and the listen to some of the things he says, I come away with a view of an angry God that is clouded by guilt and shame for being human.

I'll end this post with a question:

With the world in the state its in, what is more important to God? :

A- Saving people from the hell they're caught in all over the world? (ie, ending sex trafficking, providing clean water, feeding the starving, making international trade fair, protecting against preventable disease, stopping genocide, etc.)

Or

B- Barring homosexuals from church leadership and maintaining their second class citizenship in most churches?

You decide.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Increasing readership...

I used to write about a lot of different things--most of which were quite "controversial" for some people. I wasn't intentionally trying to upset others (though that's fun at times), but was really trying to work through certain theological concepts and social constructs that I had been discouraged from discussing in the past. I wanted to be able to think out loud, ask questions, voice my doubts, and openly discuss things. Its a great way to vent. Its a great way to promote honest conversation among people with opposite view points. Its a great way to get people to read your blog.

But for the past few months, I've kind of taken a break from that for multiple reasons. I've been busy at work, busy in general, and I haven't felt like dealing with any in-depth research, writing, and the discussion that goes along with it. In fact, I've mainly been reading a bunch of good fiction novels and stayed away from books that required too much thinking. As a result, I haven't had as many hits on my blog. Traffic has greatly decreased and this troubles me. I liked logging into the service I have that monitors my blog and seeing how many visits my blog has had over the past few weeks.

So, in effort to increase my blog readership, I'm going to start posting some things that have bouncing around in my head for a while. Things I've avoided because I know what the reaction will be. For instance, I've been told to avoid questioning and critiquing people that are well known and well liked in the evangelical arena. But I'm fairly sure my next post is going to be about John Piper and his hateful version of Christianity that he spreads. That's coming as soon as I can get it written. Tell your friends.


PS-I've been watching "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" as I write this. Its hard not to be happy when watching such a movie. I highly recommend that you rent it sometime soon.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Pic of the day:

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Recommendations...



This is one of the best fiction books I've ever read. Hands down in my Top 10. I loved it. LOVED it.

Its about the life and times of Jesus from the point of view of Levi who is called Biff, Jesus' best friend. It starts with their childhoods, then moves on to the times that we have no Biblical account of (ages 12-30), then finishes with Jesus' ministry and death. The take on his life and personality are interesting, the story line is engaging, and the dialogue is "laugh out loud" funny. (I was particularly fond of Moore's depiction of the disciples/apostles of Jesus.)

It is irreverent. It is sacrilegious. It is hilarious. It is terrific. I would highly recommend it to anyone.


Here's the author's blessing, the first thing printed in the book:

"If you have come to these pages for laughter,
may you find it.
If you are here to be offended, may your ire rise
and your blood boil.
If you seek adventure, may this story sing you
away to blissful escape.
If you need to test or confirm your beliefs, may
you reach comfortable conclusions.
All books reveal perfection, by what they are or
what they are not.
May you find that which you seek, in these pages
or outside them.
May you find perfection, and know it
by name."

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Fall...


Sutter's Corn Maze (Pandora, Ohio)


Capo and Penelope--how precious are they?


Pumpkins! Done by: Shoemaker's (far left), Ryan's (middle), and Collin/Allen/Bland (far right)


Richard Simmons and Jane Fonda... duh

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Chatting with atheists is a good thing...

I like Christopher Hitchens. He's intelligent and witty... and quite smug. Not on a level with Bill Maher--more like Richard Dawkins, just less formal. I can't wait to see his movie about traveling around with a Christian pastor and debating each other.

Read his articles. They're typically worth your time. I like this most recent one.

I think I want to invite him to Bowling Green. Not to debate me, but to chat. I wonder what he'll say. I'm sure it'd be lively and a lot of fun.

I'll keep you updated.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Derek Webb...

"I have never, ever felt like a “Christian artist.” I don’t live like that, I don’t create that way; those categories mean nothing to me. I don’t think they mean anything to anybody. I don’t think they’re real. I don’t think there’s any such thing as Christian art or secular art. I think there are Christian and secular people, who make art, and all art tends to reflect the people who make it, but there’s no such thing as “redeemed art.” And if there is, I can guarantee you, I’m not the guy making it."

-Derek Webb (interview with John Wofford, Patrol Mag)


PS-If you haven't listened to Webb's new album "Stockholm Syndrome," do yourself a favor: go out and buy it now.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A conundrum indeed...

I love music. I really love music. But I have an issue. I wish there were more John Mark McMillan's in the world...

I'm really critical. I expect a lot of other musicians. If you're a professional musician, you should constantly be pushing the creative envelope. Seeking to write good lyrics and tell good stories and move the listener in some way. Seeking to put together songs that are sonically pleasing and different at times.

With that being said, I don't like listening to the radio. For one, the commercials drive me crazy. I don't wanna pay for Sirius or XM radio, and terrestrial radio is heavy laden with commercials. They drive me crazy. I don't wanna hear about Crazy Eddie's furniture or Flora Templeton Stuart's law firm. But that's not my biggest problem with listening to the radio.

My biggest problem is that most of the music that radio stations are playing sucks. It just sucks. Country music. Rap music. Pop music. Adult contemporary music. Most of it sucks. I know, I know. I'm critical. They have record deals, I don't. They are getting national air play, I'm not. They actually play with a band, and mine hasn't practiced in months. Nonetheless, as someone who considers himself to be a musician of sorts and wannabe songwriter, I have high expectations and don't have a problem voicing them.

Earlier this year, I started working with a group of four young musicians at our church. They're all four freshmen in high school and quite talented. I've been working with them on leading music for student ministry events. (We covered Beyonce's "Crazy In Love" the other night, but that's not a typical selection. Normally, we're playing songs that would be classified as hymns.) Teaching them how to play certain styles, use dynamics, transition and follow the song leader have not been a problem. In fact, the problem isn't with them at all. The problem is with song selection.

As with other songs on the radio, a lot of songs in the "Christian" genre suck. Many are trite, uncreative and utilize terrible theology. (When I say many, I really mean "most.") When you're a band that spends most of its time leading songs in a church setting, you typically select songs that others have written. In a sense, you're a cover band. But I can't stand to listen to a lot of modern "worship" songs. In this case, its not the music so much as it is the lyrics. I feel like the lyrics should be the most creative and compelling of any song lyrics out there. And I'm having trouble finding songs with such lyrics.

Fee has a new one called "Rise and Sing." David Crowder Band has a new one called "Alleluia, Sing." Delirious has a new one called "My Soul Sings." I like these three. They fit the criteria I'm looking for: they have well-written, engaging lyrics; they are fun to sing; they are great songs overall. But I'm frustrated because I can't find many more. I need help. Please: recommend good songs! Are there new artists out there I don't know about? Are there songs I don't know about?

If you search for "best worship songs 2009," you'll find lists and lists of songs from CD's released this year that include recordings of songs written 2 , 3, even 4 years ago. There's nothing wrong with older stuff. I just don't ever wanna get stuck on them and constantly recycle stuff rather than moving forward. I always wanna be progressive. I want new. I want fun. I want good. I don't want what's good enough to get radio play. I want better than that. To be honest, I think God wants better than that. I know its the struggle of worship pastors and music leaders everywhere to select the right songs--and I'm always concerned about picking good stuff that will click with a younger crowd. So...

Please. Help me. Someone. Recommend good music for a church setting. Please.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday Share Time...

Victoria blogged about staying with us in Bowling Green. I thoroughly appreciated the things she had to say, as well as the time she spent with us. You can read her blog here.

Also, I learned a great new joke from Hayden today:

"Knock, knock.
-Who's there?
Utch.
-Utch who?
Made you sneeze."

I cracked up when he told me this. Brilliant. Go use it on your friends.

Hayden teaches me stuff all the time. Its funny how a 7 year old can do that. I never thought I'd learn some much from this kid I mentor. He taught me that it doesn't matter how many throws it takes to get your disc in the basket in disc golf--the winner is the person who gets it in first. He taught me that the drink Hi-C is not pronounced "high-see," but rather "hick." Today he taught me that there's no such thing as a burger made from buffalo meat. But just in case, he was going to ask his mom because she's a teacher and smarter than me.

Awesome.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Spring has sprung, Fall has fell, Winter's here...

And it seems like we missed Fall. It was hot... it was hot... it was hot... then it got cold. There was no transition in temperatures. Just hot, then cold. Sucks.

I ride the bike several days a week; its not too bad since I'm exercising at the same time. But the last time I rode the scooter was July 27th at about 9am. It was sunny and hot right before I ran into the side of that truck that pulled out in front of me. The scooter is in the shop now, and I'll hopefully get it back soon--but by the time I do, I'll have to be all bundled up so as to not freeze my butt off. (Is that literally possible? That's an interesting term. But possible? Eh...) Either way, it'll be nice to have the scooter back.

I settled with the dude who caused my wreck in court a couple of weeks ago. On our first court date, he claimed he wasn't driving and wasn't involved in the accident--he just stopped to help me. The judge read him the police report where he told the officers he pulled out in front of me because he didn't see me. I was baffled and amused at the same time. He requested a lawyer and another court date. On his second court date, he initially turned down a settlement and wanted a jury trial. I couldn't believe it. But after much discussion between the judge and our lawyers, we came to an agreement. Crazy. Couldn't believe he was trying to hold onto his lie until they threatened him with 90 days in jail.

I still can't straighten my arm out and it hurts a lot. We have good insurance and its still stupid expensive to keep going to the orthopedic doctor and physical therapist. At this point, I'd like to start ranting and raving about the necessity of healthcare reform... but I won't... much.

I don't think there's a single person in America who could honestly say "the system does not need reform." We have to have reform of the healthcare system in America. We have to. I still haven't talked to someone from a foreign nation with socialized medicine that had a problem with it or liked the American system better. Specialists will still exist and still be the best and all doctors will still make plenty of money--but why can't we, the richest nation in the world, make sure all its citizens are provided for? I don't know how you people with kids do it. Having insurance is expensive enough, but visits to the doctor and pharmacy can break you. My heart breaks for the people out there who can't afford proper health care and suffer because of it.

Keep changing trees. Keep making your pumpkin spiced beverages. Keep pushing for change.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Future of Faith...

Philip Clayton and Harvey Cox both have new books out and they are taking them out on tour. One of the blog tour stops will be on Homebrewed Christianity's blog, but as you can see below they will be making their rounds over the next month until they wrap things up in Montreal at the American Academy of Religion's annual meeting. There they will be joined by an illustrious panel including Eric Gregory, Bruce Sanguin, Serene Jones, Frank Tupper, and Andrew Sung Park to share a 'Big Idea' for the future of the Church. These 'Big Ideas' will be video-taped and shared, so be on the look out for live footage from the last night of the tour.

Philip's new book is Transforming Christian Theology for Church & Society and Harvey's is The Future of Faith. Both are worth checking out at one of the many tour stops. If you can't wait you can listen to them interview each other.

I'm part of Homebrewed Christianity's blog ring. So they'll send me books for free as long as I read them, promote them, and review them. Its a great deal. I received a copy of Cox's book The Future of Faith. I'll be reading it and blogging my review ASAP. I'm finishing up a Christopher Moore book right now, then its next on my list. There's a bunch of other bloggers doing the same thing. You can check all them out too, if you'd like:

Joseph Weethee , Jonathan Bartlett, The Church Geek, Jacob’s Cafe, Reverend Mommy, Steve Knight, Todd Littleton, Christina Accornero, John David Ryan, LeAnn Gunter Johns, Chase Andre, Matt Moorman, Gideon Addington, Ryan Dueck, Rachel Marszalek, Amy Moffitt, Josh Wallace, Jonathan Dodson, Stephen Barkley, Monty Galloway, Colin McEnroe, Tad DeLay, David Mullens, Kimberly Roth, Tripp Hudgins, Tripp Fuller, Greg Horton, Andrew Tatum, Drew Tatusko, Sam Andress, Susan Barnes, Jared Enyart, Jake Bouma, Eliacin Rosario-Cruz, Blake Huggins, Lance Green, Scott Lenger, Dan Rose, Thomas Turner, Les Chatwin, Joseph Carson, Brian Brandsmeier, J. D. Allen, Greg Bolt, Tim Snyder, Matthew L. Kelley, Carl McLendon, Carter McNeese, David R. Gillespie, Arthur Stewart, Tim Thompson, Joe Bumbulis, Bob Cornwall

This Tour is Sponsored by Transforming Theology DOT org!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

#200

This is post #200 on my blog.

Wow.

I'm on my third name (the first was "Remembering Titus" and the second was "The Straw Man's Favorite Blog"). I've written about a ton of topics. I've encouraged some good discussion, pissed some people off, and shared a lot of my life and what goes on in my head.

I thoroughly appreciate you reading along and commenting occasionally.

Anyway... I haven't written because I've been debating what to write about. I lost a good friend last weekend. Lee Elias was the first person to ever take me under their wing to mentor me. He made sure I was concerned about two things: loving people and studying Christian Scripture.

He also taught me something else: it was okay to be yourself. Lee was who he was, and that's what made him him. (If that makes sense.) He was a distinct personality, and reveled in that to some degree. I had a friend say last week that Lee "wasn't like the rest of us." I can second that. Its what made me appreciate him. We didn't always see eye to eye, but I always knew he cared about the choices I was making and the things I had to say. His daughter was one of the best friends I had growing up. His life impacted my life a lot in those earlier years of trying to figure out what it meant to follow Jesus.

So here's to Dr Elias. You'll be greatly missed. The best thing I can do to honor your life is to commend the impact you had on countless lives. Thanks for being you.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Conversations like these...

I was talking to a friend on Friday about the institution of church. This person is older than me, smarter than me, and also works at a church--so his insights can be particularly helpful at times. But when he dropped these few sentences, it blew me away:


“That’s the problem with the institution of church sometimes: we lose the imagination of God. People get zombie-fied. They go on auto-pilot. And I don’t want to be a part of that. And I don’t want my kids to see me be a part of that.”


There's a lot of things I could say to go along with that, but I think anything else who ruin the simple beauty of that quote.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Ladies and Gentlemen of Kentucky, these are our senators...

Al Franken is proposing a bill that would withhold contracts from defense companies that don't allow their employees to sue over sexual assault, discrimination, and battery in the workplace. Makes sense, right? You can listen to Al explain why in his own words:



Jamie Leigh Jones' story is terrible. In light of tragedies like hers, Al Franken's bill make perfect sense. However, Senator Bunning, Senator McConnell and 28 of their Republican colleagues voted against the bill in order to protect these companies. (You can find the full story and list of those who voted it against it here.)

If you read my blog and you live in Kentucky, then click on this link where you'll find Bunning's and McConnell's phone numbers. Call them. Let them know this is unacceptable. We can't stand by and let our elected officials pull this kind of BS in the name of Kentucky. Thankfully, the bill passed. 10 GOP Senators voted for the bill. But why would 30 vote against it? Why would Bunning and McConnell vote against it? Call them. Ask them.

More on the story from the MinnPost here.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The People Speak...

Terry has taken a break from blogging and Facebook. In his absence, I thought I'd post this commentary from Howard Zinn. If you haven't read anything of his yet, stop what you're doing and go buy one of his books.


"People say, “What, are you a dreamer?”

And the answer is, yes, we’re dreamers. We want it all. We want a peaceful world. We want an egalitarian world. We don’t want war. We don’t want capitalism. We want a decent society.

We better hold on to that dream—because if we don’t, we’ll sink closer and closer to this reality that we have, and that we don’t want.

Be wary when you hear about the glories of the market system. The market system is what we’ve had. Let the market decide, they say. The government mustn’t give people free health care; let the market decide.

Which is what the market has been doing—and that’s why we have forty-eight million people without health care. The market has decided that. Leave things to the market, and there are two million people homeless. Leave things to the market, and there are millions and millions of people who can’t pay their rent. Leave things to the market, and there are thirty-five million people who go hungry.

You can’t leave it to the market. If you’re facing an economic crisis like we’re facing now, you can’t do what was done in the past. You can’t pour money into the upper levels of the country—and into the banks and corporations—and hope that it somehow trickles down."

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Money, money, money, mo-ney.... MONEY!

I once had a guest speaker in a business class in high school talk to everyone about how ridiculous it is that "the Bible says that money is the root of all evil." Of course, he didn't wanna listen when I told him he had that verse all wrong and he went on about his little speech. But the verse actually says that the "love of money is the root of all kinds of evil." That's an entirely different scenario. Still, money can be a real sore spot in lots of conversations.

I work for a church. My salary is paid by people's tithes (ie, donations). In other words, people who attend Broadway pay me to do what I do. I struggle with that. Its like carrying weight around sometimes. I mean, the economy isn't in the greatest shape ever. I don't make an outrageous salary--in fact, I'm right on the dot for median income for a male in Warren County. I don't have a problem sharing that because I'm not in the position I am to make money. I do it because I love what I get to do. But it still weighs on me that my salary comes from a church budget.

I don't think there's necessarily anything wrong with it. At times, though, I feel like I'm perpetuating an unhealthy system. My whole job is to get Broadway involved and active in the local community. I oversee everything from a mentoring/tutoring program to a needs assistance fund, and from a grocery assistance program to a furniture donation program. My whole job is to get people involved in healthy, active ways outside of the four walls of our church. But I question whether or not I need to be paid to do that.

I feel like we've set up a system where we convince people they have to have a pastor, minister, or leader of some kind in the church. Then the responsibility sets on them (pastor, minister, or leader) instead of the church member/attender. I know that's not how everyone feels, but I certainly think there's a large percentage of the average church congregation who feels that way. And that's not how its supposed to be. We are all supposed to carry that responsibility. We are all, as followers of Jesus, supposed to be the ones seeking out "his kingdom come, his will be done, on earth..."

In times like these, when money can be short, I just think we should be about doing the best possible things with our money. The government wastes hundreds of billions of dollars every year--on war, on bailouts, on employee salaries, on God knows what else. People are incredibly critical and analytical about where that money is going--and we should be. (Maybe we should be even more.) Why? Because its our money that the government is spending. Its everyone's money. Its our tax dollars. In the church, its a similar scenario. I would venture to say that there are hundreds of billions of dollars wrapped up in church budgets across our country.

Hundreds of billions.

And we should be concerned with what happens with that money. I have a friend who says that "a budget is a moral document." I can't agree with him more. What we do with our money and resources says a lot about us. I'm not saying that tithing is a bad thing or paying chuch staff is a bad thing or having designated leadership is a bad thing or having structured church is a bad thing. Not at all. I'm just being honest about what goes on in my head at times. I wonder what could be done if there weren't so much overhead involved.

Some people would probably insist that the church as an institution should cease to exist. That it should die. That the American church is way off from what Jesus intended it to be. Those feelings certainly have some merit and I can understand why people would feel that way. There are days when I think we should just burn it all down and start from scratch. But I've been at Broadway for almost 2 years now. I can honestly say that so much good has happened and so much change has occurred because there's been voices encouraging it to happen. If people weren't part of the system to critique it and nail their theses to the front door, would there be any hope? Could the system devolve into a self-perpetuating country club? Aren't the voices demanding change needed? Aren't the things that are hard to hear at times good for us in the long run?

I remember when I first read Shane Claiborne's book "Irressitible Revolution." It changed my life--for lots of reasons. But I was shocked at the end of the book. He had spent a lot of time critiquing the institution of church and talking about the areas in which it was lacking and how we needed to be about pursuing the way of Jesus and not the way of American religion. Yet, at the end of the book, he encourages everyone that is part of the church to remain part of the church and to not leave it out of frustration. I think that I am finally beginning to understand why he made that point. Without the folks who voice their frustrations and concerns, the future of the church would be lost. We need critics. We need people pointing out where we fall short as the church. We need to know where we suck. We need people pushing for change. We need people constantly reminding us of why we're here.

So, at the end of the day, I'm still unsettled about things. I still have questions and concerns about the system I'm very much a part of. But I'm not ready to abandon it. All is not lost. Hope springs eternal. So, for now, I continue to work here and do the best I can. I also seek to be part of the church and not just go to church--the former is much more important to me. I also seek to be an active part of a community of friends who are active in their love for eachother and local community.

This is rambling. Hope it makes some sense. Maybe I just need to type this out at times to confirm that I'm a conflicted human being. I realize there's brokeness and problems within a system. I also realize the potential for beauty and change from that same system.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

So...

So I recently got this done:



I like it. A lot. Its my first real piece. I have others--but nothing like this. It makes me want to cover myself in tattoos--specifically more Japanese art. But until Wes Carter starts doing free tattoos, more will have to wait.

I wrote a couple more posts this week, but want to work on them before I post them. One is on healthcare reform. The other is on the Church/money/paid church staff/etc. Its just been busy, so I haven't given them much time.

Soon! Swears.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Church Music


So David Crowder Band dropped their new album, "Church Music," yesterday.

I tried not to keep my expectations too high. Their 3rd full length studio album, "A Collision (or 3+4=7)" was one of the greatest albums I've ever heard. It was a narrative from beginning to end. The songs flowed into eachother. It told a story. It blew me away the first time I heard it. The lyrics, as with their two previous studio albums, were creative, interesting, introspective, and captivating. Its one of my favorite CD's I own.

Then, two years ago, they put out "Remedy." "Remedy" was not intended to be what "A Collision" was. The band said that "Remedy" was full of simple songs for the church. In other words, these were songs that were meant to be sung. I like it a lot, but it wasn't what "A Collision" was.

So I told Brittany I'd tried not to be let down with this new album.

I've listened to it in its entirety several times now. Thus far, I'd say its good. Its not great. But its good.

Its very electronic. Its a departure from their past albums where synths/beats have blended with guitars/drums. On this album, the programming certainly takes the lead musically. I heard Crowder say that its ironic they called it "Church Music" because it sounds nothing like what most people would call church music. Nonetheless, I like the sound overall. They mix some ripping guitar solos into several of the songs.

But the lyrics are the disappointment. I can't really pick up on an over-arching theme. There are some recurring themes, don't get me wrong--I just thought it'd tell more of a story. And it doesn't. Then too, the lyrics aren't what I've come to expect from DC*B. They aren't as creative and inspiring as they have been in the past. Musically, they've pushed the envelope. I can appreciate that. But what moves me are the lyrics that bounce around inside my chest. I didn't get that on the CD.

Maybe I need to listen more. Maybe I need to give it more time. Perhaps I'll update you all on this later. Its still worth getting. Its a good album. It just didn't meet the high expectations I have for one of my favorite bands.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Oh, Hell.

So this is very tongue-in-cheek, but I laughed at it:




Hell is an interesting concept. I've talked about it plenty in the past. But I think I'm finally just to a place where I'm comfortable saying certain things. For instance, I'm comfortable saying that I think most people's ideas about hell aren't shaped by a full Biblical account. I'm also comfortable with saying that if Paul never mentioned "hell" in any of his New Testament letters, then that's probably something worth noting in the discussion on the afterlife.

But one thing I've just grown comfortable with saying is that I think the concept of a real, physical Hell where humans beings are tortured forever by God for rejecting a belief system that involves the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ is absolutely ridiculous.

You see, if Hell is a location in the afterlife, then God put it there. If God created Hell, then he, in effect, is the one torturing humans for all eternity. If God is the one torturing humans for all eternity, then I don't think that says much about his loving nature.

I've always talked openly about my belief in some sort of a line of accountability after death. In other words, I believe that humanity doesn't all end up in the same place. I don't know what that line of accountability looks like exactly--I'll leave that to God. However, I do think some people will choose an existence outside of the presence of God. I've also talked openly about being an annihilationist and, therefore, believing in conditional immortality. But even if I didn't believe those things, the concept of God torturing humans in Hell for eternity seems inane. It makes no sense. And I certainly don't think the concept has much Biblical backing. It might have some backing in Dante, but not in the New Testament.

(I've only grown comfortable saying that as of late. Perhaps its because of my attendance to very fundamental Christian churches early on and ignorant adherence to the doctrines being taught there. Questioning and rethinking so many things that you were taught as basics or foundational components of your faith system can be overwhelming and difficult at times. Necessary, yes. But difficult still.)

I guess I'm finding myself more and more surprised when people (particularly those who would call themselves followers of Jesus) hold on to this concept as an integral part of their belief system. It seems odd that other Christians would question my theology when I don't cling to a belief system that includes a God who creates a space called Hell and tortures humans for all eternity in that space.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Momma always said...

If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.

That's good advice. Advice I should have adhered to more often in life. But the thing is: I can't hold it in all the time. I've just got to speak my mind sometimes. Some things just need to be said. I've got to get some things of my chest. At times, I can be quite critical. I'm well aware of that. But I try to make a point of admitting my own tendencies to ere and my participation in the problem. When I'm critical of the Church or America, I'm willing to admit that I've only aided in things becoming so screwed up.

Yet, people have a hard time with some of the things I say. And oftentimes, reactions can be quite strong. But lately I've made an effort to stay away from controversial topics. Its not worth the hassle when life is busy to have to deal with lots of angry comments or straw man arguments.

So I've held back a little as of late. On purpose. For my own sanity. For the sanity of my wife. And because I haven't had the time to write long posts.

But I have some things to say. Things I've held back, but need to let out. Some won't be perceived as "nice." And that's okay. But, like I said earlier, sometimes you just gotta say it--regardless of its reception by others.

So this is a long teaser post. Sorry, Sheffield. I know you'll boo me or whine about this. But I'm writing this just to give everyone a little warning. I'll try to write several posts this week. I don't know all the topics. One will be about the Church and money (in light of the holidays approaching). One will have to be about Brand New's album "Daisy" and David Crowder Band's album "Church Music"--both of which will release on Tuesday, the 22nd. One will probably deal with health care reform and the misinformation being spewed by so many people and media outlets. And who knows what else.

This is just a little forewarning.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Next week...

My kind of guy...

This guy was photographed walking through the anti-healthcare reform demonstration last Friday in Washington DC. I read that people spit on him, yelled words like "Commie" at him, and tried to take his sign. Eventually police had to intervene, but he supposedly kept smiling the whole time.

I like him and I've never met him.



UPDATE: I found video! Awesome. (HT: Digg)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

I'm doing pretty hood in my pink polo.

I like Kanye. His music is incredible. His production skills are off the chart. But stuff like this is what perpetuates most people's opinion that he's a completely self-absorbed ass:



Chamon Kanye. Taylor Swift is about as bubble gum and made up as you can get, but she still doesn't deserve that. Dude just can't stay in his seat or keep his mouth shut.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Perhaps hell froze over...

I joined a Fantasy Football league.

I've researched players. I've researched performance over the past few seasons. I did a pre-draft plan. I've been watching... (wait for it)... ESPN. I may even watch more than 2 games this season.

So I'll admit it: my participation in a fantasy football league has caused a surge in my desire to watch NFL games. And I'm excited to see how my team does. More importantly, I'm excited about crushing Jason Brown's team.

I'll keep you updated.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

AHHHH!!! Obama Zombies!!!



Is this what they were afraid of?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Letters to the Editor...

This is probably the last "letter to the editor" I'll write on the issue of health care reform. It was published today in the BG Daily News. I've started receiving negative emails and don't wanna deal with that headache. Anyway, I hope I communicated my point in a reasonable manner.


"Let’s have a calm discussion on health care
Thursday, September 3, 2009 11:33 AM CDT

This letter is in reply to Mr. Frank St. Charles and his letter Thursday, “Health care plan is simply not a good idea.”

The government is not seeking to control the health care system. The government is seeking to reform the health care system and to provide health care to all Americans - millions of whom cannot currently afford it. Even if the government decides to provide a public option within the bill, it will in no way force you to change anything about your current coverage unless you desire to make such a change.

We are already being abused by insurance, health care and pharmaceutical companies. Their methods, marketing and lobbying are steadily affecting all of us. Are you seriously proposing that we aren’t already victims of “incompetency and excess” within the current system?

I’m not saying that I think a government-run health care system is the best option. Privatized health care sounds like the best option - I agree. But privatized health care has shown that it only seeks to make more money for its executives and not provide the best health care for all citizens. If the government needs to step in, then so be it.

The system needs to be reformed. I’m not saying I have all the answers - I’m simply encouraging everyone to approach this from a calm and rational perspective.

I’m assuming you have an adequate insurance plan and the financial resources to pay for medical treatment and prescription drugs. But what about those who don’t?

John David Ryan"

Monday, August 31, 2009

Swine Flu... (everyone panic)

Fear mongering.
Vaccines.
Swine flu.
Pharmaceutical companies.
Lobbyists.
Campaign donations.

They're all interconnected.



Question everything.

I'm encouraged...

If I disregard certain people's recent comments, I've been encouraged lately by some other people's comments--not here, on my blog, but in person.

A couple of weeks ago, I read this letter to the editor in our local paper:

"We must stand up to Obama’s health plan
Published: August 20, 2009
The big government takeover has to stop. Ever since liberals claimed power, it’s been one bureaucratic scheme after another. Their newest target, health care, is the most dangerous intervention yet. Politicians, special interests and central planners should not come between patients and their doctors.

We shouldn’t have to wait for Washington to tell us if we can have the treatment we need. We shouldn’t have to wait in long lines because hospitals are overrun and doctors are in short supply. But that is what could happen if the Obama/Pelosi health care plan is allowed to go forward. Patients must come together now to make sure that our voice is part of the process, before we are forever silenced in the halls of power in Washington.

Frank St. Charles

Bowling Green"


I find letters of this sort to be typical of a lot of op-ed sections. There's no real facts or good rhetoric--just buzz words and misinformation.

So I responded with this short reply:

"Health care debate should focus on facts, not opinions
Published: August 22, 2009
This letter is in response to Frank St. Charles’ letter Thursday, “We must stand up to Obama’s health plan.” You, sir, obviously have a strong distrust for our government. I don’t blame you. But you’ve got to get beyond the lies and misinformation being spewed by the talking heads on Fox News.

Millions and millions of hardworking Americans are denied proper health care daily because of a broken system. The government is simply trying to provide for the general welfare, as Article 1: Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution says.Have you read the health care reform bill? You won’t have to change anything about your current health care coverage if you don’t want to. This bill is simply an attempt to provide proper health care for all U.S. citizens. The proposed public option is open to those who choose it – it’s not some part of a “big government takeover” scheme that will force all Americans into a system of socialized medicine.

Check the facts. Listen to more than one media outlet. Read the proposed bill. This can’t continue to be a “liberal vs. conservative” argument. This should be a chance for all Americans to talk openly, honestly, calmly and rationally about the best way to provide health care to everyone.

John David Ryan
Bowling Green"


Since then, I've been quite surprised by the kind words people have shared about how much they appreciated seeing a letter with this content in our local paper. Several people have stopped by my office and I've received emails expressing gratitude for someone writing in such a letter to the editor.

Then Mr. Frank St. Charles responded with this letter on the 27th:

"Health care plan is simply not a good idea
Published: August 27, 2009
To John David Ryan’s letter Saturday, “Health care debate should focus on facts, not opinions,” and those who agree with him about allowing government to control health care, I simply have some brief comments. If we allow the government to control our health care, they will have control of our lives. Improving health care does not require controlling it. Can we really trust bureaucrats and politicians to do what they say, without changes or to run anything efficiently or effectively? Once they have control of the system, we are at their mercy and don’t believe that it won’t be used and abused by special interests and fall victim to incompetency and excess.

Frank St. Charles
Bowling Green"


I responded yesterday. I'm sure they'll print it. I'll post the link when they do.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Thomas Paine on torture...

In his 1795 essay entitled Dissertations on First Principles of Government, Thomas Paine wrote this as his last paragraph:


"An avidity to punish is always dangerous to liberty. It leads men to stretch, to misinterpret, and to misapply even the best of laws. He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself."

I guess this was Paine's way of saying: you reap what you sow.
(HT: Salon)

He's alive!

Since he died, I've been saying that Michael Jackson isn't really dead. I think he faked his death. Well, I should say that I think there's a good chance he could have faked his death. (The wording in that sentence is VERY important.)

If he was smart, he would have faked his death.

Why?

To get out of the limelight. To get away from the debt. To stay away from the haters. To stay away from the fans. To have some peace.

If I were him, I would have faked my death a long time ago. He obviously hasn't been right in the head for some time, though. Anyway, this video surfaced today. I laughed when I saw it. It in no way confirms the aliveness or deadness of The King of Pop, but its still worth posting to encourage the rumor spreading.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

26

It gets better every year.

I am thankful for this life.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Reason #47 Why I Love Barney Frank:



Unreasonable people deserve to be addressed in an unreasonable manner. Name-calling and hysteria-spreading need to stop so this health care reform discussion can move forward.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Faith For Health

(copied and pasted from the petition I just signed):

"Our health care system is broken. It’s clear we need a change, but special interests, some claiming to speak for people of faith, are trying to block reform with distortions and distractions.

I just joined “40 Days for Health Reform,” a campaign from the faith community to take back the debate and move real reform forward.

Over the next 40 days, people of faith will run a national TV ad campaign, sign petitions, conduct in-district public meetings reaching over 100 Members of Congress, and even host a national webcast and call to action with President Barack Obama!

You can visit www.faithforhealth.org and sign the petition to join the campaign and stay up to date with all these exciting activities."


I'm actually looking forward to the webcast/conference call tomorrow afternoon with the President. I love what this group is doing. On their website, they have a "Learn More" tab that includes documents which break down health care reform and explain the major issues and what people are so worked up about. Its quite informative and worth a few minutes of your time. Go sign the petition.

"Be the change you want to see in the world." - Gandhi

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Its a daily thing.

I'm probably not who you think I am.

Probably not.

Because I'm still trying to figure that out. It keeps me up at night. I wrestle with it. I toss it around. Its rather unsettling. But there are questions I gotta answer. I'd rather fight this fight and come out a stronger me on the other side than never ask the tough questions.

Does it bother you, too?

Do you ask yourself all those questions you're afraid to answer? Afraid you already know? Afraid you know all the darkness that lies beneath your skin? Afraid of being who you want because you may get hurt? Afraid of being honest because others may not understand? Afraid of trying to take the big leaps because you could fall hard? Afraid because everyone already knows about your propensity to make mistakes and bad choices?

There are simple things in life to enjoy. But I don't wanna miss out on the complexities because I'm scared.

Thanks for listening, by the way.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Video of the Week:

It happens to include the Quote of the Week as well:

Oh, Sarah (part 2)

I guess I need to explain further:

My problem with Sarah Palin doesn't end with the fact she's a moron.

I certainly have problems with her spreading lies. She makes stuff up. She spreads it around. People believe it. (By the way, fact check. Don't take anything a politician says as truth. Well, don't take what any public figure says as truth at first--pastors, politicians, teachers, etc. Fact check. Research. Find out for yourself.)

That's certainly a big problem. But that's not my biggest problem with the current national issues and what I last posted about. The biggest problem is that in spreading lies and getting people to believe them, she's trying to shoot down health care reform. She's trying to stop the government from doing something about America's health care woes. That's my big problem with her and with others like her who are doing the same things.

Listen, I don't think the government taking things over is the BEST solution. But I don't see any other solution. For too long now, big business and our government have been sleeping together... and both are getting away with whatever they want because of their relationship. Health care is way out of control. Insurance companies and big pharmaceutical companies are taking advantage of millions of people. On top of that, there are millions who don't have any health care because they don't have or can't afford insurance. Something has to be done. Something has to change. I don't know what other options we have. Privatized health care is a scam.

Personally, I think the reason a lot of people in government are fighting against health care reform is because insurance/pharmaceutical companies have paid off a lot of politicians. They are trying to keep this from happening because health insurance companies are scared. They know that if the government is offering an all-inclusive plan that's cheaper than what they're offering, then they're screwed. And they have no one to blame but themselves. How long did they think they could get away with what they're doing to the American people? Did they think it would last forever? Taking millions of dollars and denying millions proper care.

Like I said, something has to change. I don't know what the best solution is, but privatized health care is not it. At this point, how else do we provide everyone in the nation with health care without the government stepping in?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Oh, Sarah. Oh, Sarah.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Sarah Palin is a moron--truly and undoubtedly a moron.

The fact that John McCain selected her as a running mate in the last presidential election should offend every American woman. Yet, somehow, she seems to maintain an audience. Last week, on Facebook, Palin posted a bunch of lies and nonsense about health care reform. Read it here.

I thought most of her comments were laughable. Its simply fear mongering at its best--and that's what I think she wants to do. She, like Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, has convinced people that she has a viewpoint worth listening to and (for some reason) has coherent, logical ideas and comments on matters of national concern.

I cannot, for the life of me, figure out why people would support her as a politician. And worser still, cannot figure out why there is buzz going around about her running for presidential office in 2012.

Can anyone argue with these two points?:
1-We need to reform our health care system in America.
2-We need to make sure every person in America receives proper health care.

Are those two points outlandish? Liberal? Crazy? NO! They're extremely reasonable ideas. I would hope that every American feels like that. Sure, I have concerns about a government run health care system. But that the same time, I certainly don't trust privatized health care providers to fix themselves. They, along with the pharmaceutical drug manufacturers, are making too much money off of the American people. They don't want to change anything. They are taking advantage of millions of people and buying off as many politicians as they can to keep it that way.

Something has got to change. And people like Sarah Palin are only making it harder for change to occur when they use their platforms to spread lies and fear.

Oh, the the ways in which power and money corrupt. Its sad. Really sad.

I love Keith Olbermann's response this week (addressing the American people): "Think. Please, think before something horrible happens."

Friday, August 7, 2009

Happy is so incredibly insufficient.



Its my wife's birthday. She's turning 24. That seems so different from the 16 she had just celebrated before we met.

(8 years? I've been lucky enough to have her by my side for 8 years? We're getting old fast.)

Nonetheless, we plan on celebrating this weekend in the best ways possible. I won't divulge all of our plans, but will throw some buzz words your way: Chinese take-out, Hugh Grant, Cheesecake Factory...

Happy Birthday, baby. Here's to another great year.

love.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Not welcome on the ranch.

Mainline/Evangelical Christianity is an interesting behemoth of a club.

One of the major shifts that I see taking place in people moving from a "modernist" to "post-modernist" mindset is one's concern with propositional and absolute truths. In this transition, it becomes less about who's right vs. who's wrong, and more about grace. To put it simply: it becomes about inclusion vs. exclusion.

Cults don't typically hold a generous orthodoxy, though. For a cult to be effective, absolute control must be maintained. One of the most efficient ways of accomplishing that is through doctrinal control. If a leader or leaders set up a group's belief set and don't allow any variations on it, then their mission is complete. If you question a leader or a belief, then you question the integrity of the entire group. More than likely, you would be kicked out of the cult and removed from the compound.

You would not be welcome on the ranch.

Sadly enough, this is all too common in Christian churches. Pastors and leaders encourage groupthink--a set of beliefs and ideas are decided upon and everyone is expected to think, believe and act just like everyone else. If you were to (God forbid) use your brain, logic and reasoning to come up with ideas that were outside of their predetermined beliefs, then you aren't welcome on the compound anymore.

(What an alarming similarity.)

Christians need to make a remarkable turn to grace--a return to unbounded love, giving hearts, and intelligent conversation. We should be working to reverse the atrocities committed by the Church. We should be working to reverse the mindsets of so many people who see Christians as close-minded, homophobic, hypocritical and judgmental. Instead, I hear stories about people being kicked off the ranch.

God gave us brains. Let us use them!

Think for yourselves. Question. Voice your doubts. Embrace opposing viewpoints.

Live freely.


Saturday, August 1, 2009

Hey

my hands can't keep up with my brain tonight
i wish this could be longer
and more profound
than i'm sure it will be
i used to write a lot
and think a lot
and talk a lot
about the ways of the world
and our future path
and love and life and freedom and choice
about change
and hope
and making a difference
then i got a job and things changed
it lots of ways
my energy went into my career
and, in this case, that's not necessarily a bad thing
but in some ways
it is
if i look back to two years ago
put myself in that place
and ask myself what i'd be doing in two years
i have no clue what my answer would be
but it wouldn't be what i'm doing now
and, in this case, that's not necessarily a bad thing
but in some ways
it is
i could be asking myself,
in two years from today,
what will i be?, where will i be?, what will i be doing?, how will i be doing it?
but i'm not
tonight i'm asking myself:
who the hell am i?
what the hell am i doing?
why the hell am i doing it here?.
and, in this case, that's not necessarily a bad thing
but in some ways
it is

Mercy.

“What is the future of organized religion? Whatever it is, I hope that we will have the courage to stop rewarding and confirming peoples egos and calling it morality, ministry or church. I hope that we will have lower expectations of leadership and the institution and therefore less need to rebel against it or unnecessarily depend upon it. True leadership is quite rare in my experience and cannot be “ordained” or created by title, office, or costume. Many people are upset with the Church because they expected too much from it. Accept it for what it is and for what it isn’t.

More than anything else I hope that the future church can be a people who have entered into Mercy and allow others to enter too. I once saw God’s mercy as patient, benevolent tolerance, a form of grudging forgiveness. Now it is apparent to me that Mercy is a divine understanding, a loving allowing, a willing “breaking of the rules” by the One who made the rules, a loving wink and smile, a firm and joyful taking of our hand—while we waste time clutching at our sins and gazing at God in desire and disbelief.”

–Richard Rohr, Radical Grace

(HT: Zach Lind)

Friday, July 31, 2009

Well...

I'm not sure what to say. I'm totally envious of the success of Cage The Elephant. They're playing all the big festivals, they're signed to a major label, their video is on MTV's rotation, they're on the cover of AP magazine, and last night they played the Late Show with David Letterman.

Holy crap.

I'm super happy for them. I'm glad they've made it in the music industry. I grew up with Jared Champion, who plays drums, and went to school with the rest. I remember going to their first show, in someone's backyard, before their name was CTE. Its kinda surreal to watch this video clip.

I don't think last night's performance was their best, but it was good enough.



(PS-Is it just me, or does everyone who plays Letterman's show sound good? Unlike SNL, where most every musical guest has a bad performance.)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Stupid statistics.



I had an accident... within a couple of yards from my house. Stupid statistics say you're most likely to have an accident within so many minutes from your residence. I hate statistics.

I was on the scooter, as usual, this morning and someone in a truck pulled out in front of me. I couldn't stop in time or go around him, so I had to lay scooter down. I hit his back tire and spun around on the asphalt. I lost some skin on my legs and broke my left arm near my elbow--but its a small fracture. (Worst part about the arm is that I can't play guitar. I had two gigs this month and was playing with Louis at Broadway as well. I had to cancel them all this afternoon.) We spent a few hours at the hospital and now I'm back at home with my lovely and wonderful wife who is taking care of me--I'm lucky to have her.

Typing with one hand sucks.

And the scooter is in critical condition.

(PS-PhotoBooth on a Mac inverts the image, I did break my left arm, and not my right.)

Friday, July 24, 2009

GOD.



I've been thinking about the existence of God a lot recently.

Not whether or not God exists--that's certainly something worth pondering as well. And I've spent plenty of time thinking about that. But not this week. This week I've been thinking about what God's actual existence is like.

What is God?
What does God look like?
What is God composed of?
Where does God reside?
How does God reside in a location if he/she does?
If God isn't in a location, what does his/her physical form exist in?
Does God have a physical form?
How does God see things in our universe?
If God is omnipresent, how does his/her sense of perception work?
If there are other dimensions, does God exist in all of them simultaneously?
If God is physical and yet eternal, does God age?
Does God still create?
How do God's emotions/feelings work?
Is God constantly feeling some emotion?
Does God have a voice?
If so, what does that voice sound like?
Does that voice speak in the same way that we understand speech?
Does God crack jokes?
Does God think Creed is the worst band of all time, with Hinder in a close second?
Does God need to shave?
Is he/she one of us? (HT: Joan Osborne)

Stuff like that.

No answers. Just questions today.

Labor Pains...

Listen, I'm a conspiracy theorist. I won't get into detail, but I love a good conspiracy and the discussion that follows when its brought up.

But these "birthers" are idiots. Idiots.

I'm not a huge fan of Barack Obama. I don't dislike him, but he still hasn't won me over. (Don't get me wrong, I'm still thankful John McCain and Sarah Palin weren't elected.) But there's no doubt in my mind that the dude's a US citizen. He was born in Hawaii. I've seen a copy of his birth certificate online. Even the most skeptical hosts of TV news channels agree that Obama has a legal birth certificate and there's not a question in their minds whether or not he's a citizen.

But these birthers still carry on. And they are making the Right look ridiculous.

John Stewart discussed it the other night.

Steve Benen wrote a great article on it.

And Liz Cheney still won't shut her mouth.
Her and Rush Limbaugh need to be shipped off to a deserted island and left there...

In the words of John Stossel: give me a break.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I can turn my head again...

I messed my neck up yesterday. Don't ask me how. I don't know how. I just woke up Monday morning and couldn't get out of bed. I was also in an incredible amount of pain. Lots of ice packs and relaxing has helped. I go to see the chiropractor again tomorrow morning--I'm taking a holistic approach to this and trying to avoid meds. I'll let you know how it goes.

I just read this headline. It surprised me about as much as this story.

Sigh.

But I've decided to refrain from commenting on those stories. I'm also refraining from commenting on today being the anniversary of the "moon landing." (For lots of reasons.)

However, I have a post coming soon called "Gambling, Blasphemy and Tattoos." Until then...