Tuesday, May 31, 2005

People, People, People....

I spent all day yesterday with people that I love, truly love. But there is potentially a bit of a problem with me doing so. I'll explain why....

I could/should have spent the day with my blood family, but I didn't know until late that they were even getting together to do anything. To top it off, when I did talk to my Mom on Monday (around 1PM), she mentioned that her cousin was going to come over and visit. He's a great guy that we never get to see much of, which is symptomatic of the relationships my Mom's side of the family has with each other.

Things have been strained on my Mom's side of the family ever since her Mother's (my grandmother) death in 1993. Most of the family didn't spend any time with her as she was dying from cancer that was ravaging her body, and my Mother bore the emotional brunt of having to care for her Mother since few others even came around to say hello. Thus, things have been SOOOO weird for the past decade and I'm not sure that there's a resolution to the whole scenario.

Hence, to learn that her cousin was possibly coming to visit was exciting news and I told my Mom to call me if/when he arrived at the house. I kept my phone with me all night while at a party some of my friends were throwing in case my Mom/Family called. When they hadn't called by 9PM, I thought nothing more of it UNTIL, when getting into my car and beginning to drive home at 1AM, my phone suddenly beeps at me, letting me know that I had missed THREE CALLS FROM MY FAMILY between 6:30 & 8PM. I was mortified, embarrassed, and chagrined because I knew that my Mother was NOT going to let me hear the end of this, mostly because she thinks that I ignore my family and put others first in my life (which can be interpreted as the truth).

I spent all day with my spiritual family -- the people that I share with, play with, laugh with, cry with, attend church with, plan with, live in front of, and try to live as Christ with. The problem with that is that my Mom thinks that I'm a heathen who's left the "truth" & "the real church" (oneness Pentecostalism) and now cavorts with other not-quite-saved people and backsliders. And knowing that she thinks this about me hurts -- A LOT. Knowing that she thinks that I've forsaken my blood family for these other people hurts -- A LOT! I'm just not sure how to address this with her, mostly because we speak such different languages.

I simply had a great day with people that I love, until I got in my car to learn that I have yet again disappointed other people that I love, namely my Mom. And please don't interpret this to be Oedipal, because it's not. I just have had a great relationship with my Mother for years, at least until I left fundamentalist Pentecostalism for a wholer, healthier, saner, and (dare I say it?) more-Jesus-focused manner of being a Chiristian. The only problem with this is that home life is so strained and I do NOT want this to be the turning point where my family begins to fracture and not talk to each other often.

And the sad thing is that something similar exists between my Dad's siblings as well -- it started with their Mother's death in 1971 (or something like that) where their Father kinda withdrew from the world and deepened with their Father's death in 1997. They all speak different cultural/political/spiritual languages, 3 have left any semblance of the Roman Catholicism of their youth, one is really involved with his family in a community church, and only my Dad is an observant/practicing Roman Catholic. They only see each other 2, MAYBE 3, times a year and I do NOT want this to happen between myself and my parents, much less myself and my brothers (though we currently get along way too well for us to fracture at this point).

People, people, people. I guess that, since I'm such a decent/good communicator, I hate when the lines of communication are breaking down. I love people and I don't want people to think that I don't love them, esp my parents. I'm sure that everyone goes through this at some point, but does it have to be at such a severe degree? How do I even begin to approach reconcilation? How do I shore things up? Help??

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Sharing and the Fear of Doing So

I think that what I like most, so far, about this blogging world into which I've immersed myself is the sharing. Yes, I like sharing -- something that Robert Fulgham says that we should have learned to do back in Kindergarten. Furthermore, I think that the REASON that I love sharing so much is that I didn't get to for so long. When you're locked in a fundamentalist church culture (or any church culture) that denies you the right to question the status quo for any reason at all, you don't feel comfortable talking about what you're really thinking about (unless it's how GREAT the "move of God" was on Sunday night). To have questions is to be anathema. To have thoughts that "aren't right" isn't right.

And more than anything, I think that's what burdens so many people in such a church environment -- when they don't understand, they don't know who to talk to about it. Oh, they're told that they should talk to "Pastor" or "pray through" at the altar, but what kinds of answers are those? Yes, you should go to your pastor or pastors for counseling/advice/direction, but why can't we talk to our friends about these things (a concept referred to in the KJV as confess)? We're locked into a church culture predicated upon fear -- we're afraid to look unholy, so we don't question anything or ask the questions that we DO have. Even more so, we're so afraid that anyone that we talk to about our questions is going to probably gossip about us and spread to the whole church that we're a sinner who has questions and "isn't right with God".

I hope that no one thinks that I'm slamming my church heritage (because I'm not), but I'm not the only one who's experienced this and many people I've talked to who have experienced this are NOT from the same church background as myself. Why are people afraid to not know? Why are people afraid to share with others that they don't know? Of course, I've gotten over that fear to a certain extent, except for the fact that my Mom and I still can't have a spiritual discussion. We don't quite speak the same "language" anymore and I'm still not comfortable with knowing that my Mom doesn't consider me saved anymore since I'm not Pentecostal. But that's something else to share with others about.

I want to share. Anyone else want to share with me?

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Scene 1

Here you go folks. Check out Scene 1 and tell me what you think.

  • Like Augustine, Scene 1

  • All work will be posted here; hence, all comments, criticisms, and contributions should be posted there as well.

    Saturday, May 21, 2005

    To Plan or Not to Plan....

    Draven, his wife, and myself have been doing some serious planning for a bookstore/cafe/coffeeshop/space in our area. Serious planning. The following is an excerpt from a book called Hurdle that Draven has suggested that all of us read. I see SOOOO many parallels between this and church planning in the modern context. I really do like what I read here for planning businesses, but how many of us have sat through church business meetings that sound JUST like this stuff? I just hope that we never making living for God manageable and totally understandable. I love the mystery of living for God, though it's taken me awhile to realize that mystery is an OK thing.

    But this is good stuff for business planning....

    Business Plan "Do's"

    Use a business plan to set concrete goals, responsibilities, and deadlines to guide your business.

    A good business plan assigns tasks to people or departments and sets milestones and deadlines for tracking implementation.

    A practical business plan includes 10 parts implementation for every one part strategy.

    As part of the implementation of a business plan, it should provide a forum for regular review and course corrections.

    Good business plans are practical.

    Business Plan "Don'ts"

    Don't use a business plan to show how much you know about your business.

    Nobody reads a long-winded business plan: not bankers, bosses, nor venture capitalists. Years ago, people were favorably impressed by long plans. Today, nobody is interested in a business plan more than 50 pages long.

    Friday, May 20, 2005

    Democracy in Thought

    Often, when talking with my Mother, old church friends, or anyone else who doesn't understand what I'm thinking/believing/doing in terms of being a Christian, I tend to feel like anyone who doesn't believe/hold/toe the Orthodox line of Christianity (whatever THAT is) is a dissenter, a heretic, even a non-believer. And those feelings arise just from the Pentecostal background that I left 12-18 months ago. Now, take into account standard American evangelical Christianity and you get an even LARGER version of "If you're not with us, you're against us." And from there, look at American political/social life where our President has even declared such, saying that, if you don't totally agree with what the government is doing, then you're unpatriotic, unAmerican, and a generally bad person all the way around.

    I think that this is why I persist in being counter-culture in whatever way possible -- I don't like toeing the line because I have to or I'm forced to because "it looks good." Of course, my parents don't rather agree with my political/economic/social views and my Mom doesn't think that I'm a Christian anymore because I'm not a Pentecostal, but I try not to let those things bother me. They do, but I try to not let them.

    It's like this -- I reserve the right to think, believe, not believe, act, practice, observe, and live in ways that are different from the mainstream & accepted ways of doing things. I am an American -- we still live (technically) in a democratic republic where freedoms are protected and respected. I AM SICK AND TIRED of being told that I can't be/think/live/believe differently than the status quo. I can't stand living in an America where dissent isn't appreciated, tolerated, or even wanted. Dissent IS American -- we're a nation founded upon people rising up against the powers-that-be to demand a new way of life. I just fear that there's not much room left for people who aren't what the powerful governmental/social/economic/religious elites think that we should be.

    Thus, here's a link to a Bill Moyers speech where he talks about his personal struggle with not being the American that Washington and the right-wing want him to be. Read/Listen/Watch and enjoy. He and I have common experience with being attacked for not being in the box.

  • Speech by Bill Moyers

  • Tuesday, May 17, 2005


    Think of all the things that we do that we don't really want to do.


    Start thinking.

    I'm thinking about them. I'm here at work. I don't really want to be here, but I haven't found a way out. So, I think of things that I don't want to be doing as well as things that I would MUCH rather be doing. I'm nearly to the point that I'm going to bring my physical journal in here at night so I can write, think, ponder, and work on my screen play (BTW, the first scene is finished if you'd be interested in reading it).

    So, start writing. Now.

    I'd like to see what people do that they don't want to do. Maybe this is an exercise is Pauline discipline and accountability or maybe I'm just bored here at work and I'm trying to get my brain working toward something vaguely growth-oriented. Now, I'm not asking you folks to reveal your innermost secrets & sins -- I'm simply wanting to get us thinking about all of the things that we do & engage in as we live our lives that we just do NOT want to do.

    And, if you're not me, that's great, but, when I think about creating such a list, it gets fairly lengthy, fairly quickly. There's lots that I do that I just don't want to do. What should I do about that? What should ALL of us do about ALL the things that we don't want to do, but end up doing anyway?

    What do you think?

    Wednesday, May 11, 2005

    Should I even consider it?

    A_Pomo's recent posts about his friend's son Brent has me thinking along the same lines as the wanderings of his mind. What is evil? More than that though, do I even deserve the right to name evil that I see? Is it my place to do so? If I name evil (whether evil in a person or a person/place/thing BEING evil), am I guilty of judging? If I name evil that I see, am I attempting to be "god" of my locality, trying to reign in the forces that swirl around me into a corral that I control and can handle?

    Why are humans, esp western christians/churchians, so obsessed with naming things anyway? Some would say that it's just the result of the rationality/scientism of the Enlightenment run amuck in our pop & church cultures. Some would say that we're supposed to name evil so that we can keep away from it (usually quoting/adapting I Thess 5:22 to meet the needs of their little enclave/ghetto). Some would say that we have no business with naming evil, but they have usually swung to the opposite extreme of the previous example, so willing NOT to judge people/places/things that they embrace anything at face value, without giving the situation even a cursory example.

    So what about evil? What is evil? Am I evil? Are you evil? Are humans evil? Is this world/earth upon which we live evil? What IS evil? Seriously now. I don't have an answer, though I surmise that God does and there are days when I don't think that he's telling us all He knows. Paul encourages us to test the Spirit, both ours and that of the person/situation, but I don't think that there's a concrete list there of evils (beyond the 7 "deadly" ones, and those are really so general that we don't pay enough attention to them). Are the people who killed Brent evil? Their actions are evil, yes, but are they? Don't we all possess good and evil within us at all times? Isn't there a conflict between good and evil at work in the world at all times? What happens to that guy if he comes to believe in Christ, follow His teachings, and displays the fruit of the spirit in his life? Does he suddenly become "good" as if he'd always been "evil" before?

    Historians and Sociologists look at these concepts and refer to it as the "German Question." What made Germany evil? What made Germans evil? ARE they evil? And if they're not, where did Hitler come from? We all recognize him as evil, but what made him evil? Was he born that way? And if he wasn't, when did he become evil? Was it a single event or a series of unfortunate events? Was it his relationship with his mother or his experiences as a corporal in World War I? What makes someone evil?

    Yes, I do realize that sin corrupts us -- we fall into temptation, we're constantly experiencing our flesh warring with our spirit, we do what we don't wanna do, and we don't do what we know we should do. But does that make us evil? Brent's killers did evil things, but are they not redeemable? Hasn't Jesus redeemed them through his death, burial, and resurrection? If they become believers in Jesus and follow in his footsteps, won't their repentance be a wonderful, God-given event? Will they cease to be evil then? Have they ever been fully/truly evil anyway?

    I realize that I'm asking lots of questions and even questioning long-held evangelical/fundamentalist dogma concerning evil, who's evil, and why they're evil, but I think these are key questions in the discussion of what C.S. Lewis calls the "Problem of Pain". Evil and Pain exist in this world, so how do we reconcile that with a loving God, who sent his loving Son to die for us, so that they loving Holy Spirit could give us direction as we live? What is really evil? Who is really evil? And most importantly, how can any one of us really call someone else evil when the tendencies to commit that evil are within many of us (since we're all humans)? If Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Attila, Ghenghis, American domestic policy concerning Native Americans, Mao, and other killers throughout world history can be considered "evil," what makes them any different than ME? OR YOU?

    Thursday, May 05, 2005


    Here's a thought I've had recently, since I've gotten back into playing guitar, writing songs, and trying to find shows to play. Probably due to my 3-year long passage through hymns collections of various shapes and sizes (which means that my growing love/appreciation for hymnody predates the fashion trend that it has become in Christian music circles), I've wanted to put my own spin on things, trying not to stray too far from folk/gospel/bluegrass musical roots.

    That being said, I wonder if there's anyway that I could contact local bands that I'm friends with and put together a thematic concert (or concert series??) centered around people connecting, gleaning, and learning from the depth of hymns. I'd collect a series of local bands, they'd sing their favorite hymns in whatever style they would prefer, and they'd talk about what they like about those hymns. I do realize that such a concept would be difficult to initiate and wouldn't draw the biggest crowds (initially), but I think that the bands I know would warm to this idea of mine. The kids (scenesters and other kids who think a certain style is cool without actually paying attention to the words or overall passion behind the music) would be compelled to listen and would probably connect MORE with those bands as they played their favorite hymns.

    I'm not looking to create something evangelistic out of this. I just want to see if I can people to play, listen to, discuss, and appreciate good music -- music with great words, great music, great themes, and great histories. Am I being naive again? Am I dreaming too much?

    Furthermore, I know why hymns are receiving new interest in music circles -- there's some theological depth to them. Have you folks listened to some of the praise & worship songs from the past few years? They're fairly shallow and focused on making sure they are simple enough to be played/sung in the most basic of congregational settings throughout low-Protestant/evangelical Christendom. Not that congregational singing is bad, but it becomes cheapened when everyone is singing the same silly, shallow, and simple songs. What I think needs to happen is for songwriters to rise up again and create a new era of hymnody -- not pop music with easy-cheesy, feel-good lyrics -- music with a purpose, a backbone, and the ability to stir people up a bit. Hardcore hymns -- why not? Punk Music as Sacred Choral Music -- why not? Indie rock with a heart (that's not emo) -- Why not? WHY NOT?

    Thus, I want to start booking acts for the following show to happen in June/July -- "Old Time Gospel Hour: starring The Last Starfighter, Dover Drive, Fleece, Alaska Is for Players, and whoever else I can think of booking!" What do you think Draven? What would Mars Hall think?

    Wednesday, May 04, 2005

    Called Onto the Carpet

    Back to those Dads and their custody battles from Saturday night....

    I rather enjoy the community of friends that I'm building -- people I can talk to, people that challenge me, people who accept my faults, people whose faults I accept, people that I can challenge. It's like having a group of best friends, people that I haven't had in my life for a long while. I often wonder if I've been running from accountability. Maybe I have. I eschewed the influence of my former pastor, mostly because I feared (rightly) that he was trying to turn me into a miniature version of himself. I eschewed the friendship of most of my peers and elder males where I attended church, mostly because they were either status quo type people (within their denomination) or they were miniature versions of the pastor (who was a nominally progressive person within their denomination.

    On the other hand, I haven't been challenged to be honest with anyone because that person hasn't been there in my life. The religious system from which I ejected myself (or God led me out of) wasn't prone to creating true disciples -- just copycats of what looked good and was appropriate for their church culture. I had an older man who assisted with the campus Bible study of which I was a part in college who really helped me a lot, in terms of thinking & living Christ each day, but I left that college after my sophomore year and was never invited into discipleship, at least not real discipleship in the growth sense.

    How does one become accountable? To their friends? Yes. To those that they serve? Yes. To those who serve them? Yes. But where do those structures come from? Am I calling out for structure or am I just asking for some guidance from someone who might just know more than I do? Or maybe I'm just on the lookout for someone to walk along side me as I try to figure this Christian life out. Or someone to help me to figure out how to actually walk in the footsteps of Jesus -- walking as He walked, living as He lived, helping others as He helped, speaking out as He did, loving as He did. Is that too much to ask? Or am I looking for someone who doesn't exist?

    Cinema and Visions

    I started work on a screenplay today. Take "High Fidelity", "Saved", and my life over the past year or so and you'll get an idea of what it's about, as well as my approach. It's called "Like Augustine" and I'll be putting up posts about it fairly soon. Though, I might create a totally new blog for my screenplay to try to get some community writing/editing/contribution going on with it. Thoughts?

    Tuesday, May 03, 2005

    Art and Craft

    Sometimes, I wonder what I'm doing here at this job of mine. It's enjoyable, yet very dead-end. I can't ever see my boss promoting me, giving me more responsibility, or even giving me a living wage (which I think I would have earned after almost 6 years of faithful service). Conversely, I wonder if God keeps waiting for me to get off my butt and actually do something.

    "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." -- Phil 4:13

    So, why don't I do all things (or even something) with Christ's strength in me? Seriously here. Why don't I? I think that keep waiting for God to come down and say, "DO THIS!" Well, he could do that, but I feel that so often I wait on Him and He's waiting on me. Yeah, that's right -- God is waiting on me. Why? Probably because I'm lazy, weak, and fearful. Why? Probably because I don't trust myself and I'm too practical sometimes to actually live in/with faith. And that's really sad on many levels -- emotionally, spiritually, theologically, not to mention just sad that I have so much to offer an employer (or the world around me with my talents) and I can't bring myself to do anything.

    I talk big sometimes, mostly to fool myself, sometimes I do so because I'm hoping that my friends (or even God) throw out a lifeline to this floundering soul. I talk about plans, dreams, goals, aspirations, ideas, and other such things in an attempt to have my friends say, "Hey there friend. I think you CAN do those things and I want to encourage you. I'd even like to help you by giving you this swift kick in the butt." And I'd (hopefully) respond and say, "Thanks!" But mostly, I think that I talk big to fool myself into thinking that, if I wait one more day, suffer through one more shift at a job that I increasingly abhor, or even pray one more prayer for a new job, God will reward me with the time to work on my art and craft.

    And that kind of thinking, dear friends, is pure, unadulterated, Grade-A, USDA certified, FDA approved HORSE CRAP!

    (And BTW, I really thought about employing an expletive there, but I'm working on reducing my usage of those a bit....)

    God has already supplied me with the resources, abilities, and talent, but I think that He's waiting to see if I'll supply the energy, drive, and desire to actually do something. And I hope that He does wait -- He didn't create me to be an automaton. He created me to be a thinking, acting, creating being with the free will to choose to love Him in all that I do. Moreover, my love for Him is/should be made evident through my usage of what He's given me. However, the sad part is that I fail more than I succeed. But the good part is that He loves me anyway and just wishes that I would get off my fat ass, do something, and stop whining about not having enough "time." Hmmmm.... Time....

    Bookstores. Concerts. Albums. Books. Screenplays. Essays. Poetry.
    Creations by the Created for the Creator.

    Sunday, May 01, 2005

    News or the crap that passes for the news

    So there's this new story out now on news stations, both television stations and radio commentators.. This lady "kidnapped" herself because she got cold feet before her wedding. Seriously. I'm not making this up. I wish I was, but I'm not. This is the crap that passes for news these days.

    Scott & Laci Peterson.
    Terry Schiavo
    Elizabeth Smart.
    JonBenet Ramsey.
    Michael Jackson.

    Why are these people so important? Why are HOURS, WEEKS, MONTHS of valuable, precious, expensive media space invested in such worthless crap? Now, I'm not saying that these people aren't valuable as people, as God's creations, but as worthwhile news stories, no. Well, MAYBE the Laci Peterson, because of the death/killing of the unborn child issue, but not ALL of the national attention that the case received was warranted. And MAYBE Terry Schiavo, but this had been going on for 15 years, so WHY was it finally so important that it riveted the nation for over a month and had Congress pass special dispensation to keep her alive for extra time?

    WHAT MAKES THIS NEWS?? What makes this stuff SOOOO important that we don't get to actually get to hear what real news might be happening? I guess that's my point with these stories. It's not that there's not anything real there with those people, but what are the stories that the media is covering up by playing these all the time? What am I missing in Iraq? What about Afghanistan? What about that Osama Bin Laden guy? What about real discourse on social security? Or what even about talking about something liked conversation upon how to restructure our economy to actually have sustainable energy to relieve our nation's dependence upon foreign oil?

    Why are we NOT talking about these things? Why are we talking about things that probably really don't matter in terms of true newsworthy, national events?