Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Advent Readings

There are times when I can't quite tell if I'm being obnoxious, prideful, or vain when I ask people to read what I've written. I have a good friend of mine who's a tremendously talented artist (specializing in ceramics, but a damn fine painter as well) who has been giving lots of great advice on my poetry. She tells me that I should be proud of what I'm writing -- I'm an above average poet, a good writer, and I say things well. Why shouldn't I be proud of my art, my creations?? I guess that my answer is that, too often in my life, my artistic abilities and propensities haven't been appreciated, encouraged, or even acknowledged. If you've never been given positive feedback and quality constructive criticism, you haven't the means or the self-esteem to want to talk about your writing, my music, or anything like that at all.

However, I feel that I have gotten a bit braver and more confident with my writing. I guess that when someone gets hired on by their church to actually write the lessons for the Sunday School classes, that someone can deserve and reserve the right to be proud of your writing and be willing to share it with people. Thus, having completed a month or so of lessons on Genesis (since we're progressing a week-at-a-time through the book during Ordinary Time) and two weeks of lessons for the Advent Season, I'd like to see what my "regular readers" here at this blog have to say about another set of my writings. Is that vain? I hope not. I'd just like to get your input on what I've been creating.



Monday, November 28, 2005

Isaiah 64:1-12

Here's another post that goes along with what I am posting over at another blog of mine. During our service last evening, our Lead Pastor, Chad Karger, read through this passage in Isaiah. Here are some brief thoughts & impressions of mine, collected from the members of my church community during a time of lectio divina. Let me know what you think and go read through my more expanded thoughts upon this passage.


There is desolation in being.
There is violence in waiting.
There is danger in anticipating.
There is uncertainty in hoping.
This is faith.
It is mine.

Copyright 11/27/2005

Ideas for Advent

Over at one of my other blogs, I had begun a progression through the book of Genesis to accompany my commentary and development of the children's church curriculum for use at the church I attend. However, as Advent approached, I felt the need to post those lessons and thoughts along with my thoughts on Genesis. Thus, in tandem with what I am posting over at THAT blog, I decided to post a list that was proferred to us during our service last evening by our Lead Pastor, Chad Karger. Read along and let me know what you think.

Eat less
Eat less often
Share what you eat
Watch less television
Go outside
Pray outside before sunrise
Read more
Sit quietly
Sit quietly and do nothing
Listen less to talk radio
Listen more to others
Talk less to others
Talk with a child under 10 years old
Talk with an adult over 70 years old
Wait well
Wait often

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Making a case

((A bit of history -- this post appeared back on April 22 of 2005. I have thought LONG AND HARD about what kind of post I'd like to create in lieu of the beautiful & dark movie that is Walk The Line, starring Joaquin Phoenix & Reese Witherspoon. However, when it got down to it, I figured that I'd let my own words from the past speak for myself. I'm kinda prophetic that way. Hehehe.... And if you haven't seen the movie, do yourself a favor and go see it. Right now. I mean it! Drop what you're doing, take a friend or two and go see this movie. You don't have to be a fan to appreciate it. In fact, especially if you're not a fan, I want to talk to you about what you DID think about the movie. And now, on with the show....))

If you've ever spent much time around me talking about my passions, there are a few things that typically take prominence -- Music, Literature, and a new vision of Being the Church (Gk. -ekklesia). In some cases, these things become fairly intertwined, since I listen to lots of music that's thought-provoking (not necessarily "christian"), I read lots of literature that's thought-provoking (not necessarily "christian"), and I talk with my friends about how Christians have failed the world around them and how we can make things right (or at least grasp a better vision of enacting the "Kingdom of God" as Jesus beckoned us to do in the Gospels).

But if you really want to get me going on something, start talking to me about Johnny Cash. Seriously. Yes, Johnny Cash. No, I'm not joking. I'm a fairly huge fan of his work and I've just begun to scratch the surface of his discography.

(Quick side note here, since I am a lover of literature. There are 2 books you MUST read if you would like a glimpse into Cash's life -- Cash by Johnny Cash & A Man Called Cash by Steve Turner. Both are exemplary -- Turner's as biography and Cash's autobiography as great dialogue. I can so easily envision myself sitting across from him talking to him as I read the words in Cash. Anyway, back to the main point....)

I think that Johnny Cash simply must be one of the 1) coolest, 2) most transparent yet opaque, 3) most underappreciated and misunderstood, and 4) best songwriters of the 20th century. Note that I didn't say that he was a great musician, since Johnny himself was open about the fact that he was rudimentary guitar player. Note that I didn't say that he was a great guy (in the cliche'd role model sense of the concept), since Johnny himself was open about the fact that he had failed so many times and failed so many people at so many times in his music career. But I have to make the point that I DO consider him a great role model -- of success and failure, of reaching for your dreams and seeing those dreams consume you, of loss and redemption, of losing so much in life that you realize that you can NOT live for yourself any longer, of living with the constant struggles of various temptations, and of finally figuring out that God does know what's best even if we don't understand it.

So, why do I like the man so much? My admiration and respect grows for him with every listen through of every song I have in my Cash collection and he's been deceased for 1.5 years now. I think it's because I see myself mirrored in him in so many ways. No, I haven't fought with drug addiction, but I am constantly fighting other addictions. No, I haven't been divorced because I neglected my wife and young children, but I have broken my heart and the heart of several women I've dated over my neglecting of our relationship. No, I haven't gone into drunken/drugged rages in hotel rooms and cars and destroyed them all (which, by the way, Johnny was doing before it was en vogue in 70's rock culture), but I have worked myself into self-righteous and self-depricating fits of emotional/spiritual turmoil to the extent that I've rendered myself incapable of feeling anything for God or anyone else.

Why do I like him so much? Because he's me and I him. I connect with the emotional and spiritual depth to his songs, to the minimalism of the way he crafts his story-songs and favorite hymns, to the way in which he has related to the lives of so many people, both in and out of music. What makes Johnny Cash so "larger-than-life" and so humble, all at the same time, is that he's us. He's all of us -- so broken, yet so healed; so brazen, yet so humble; so sinful, yet so forgiven. I am Johnny Cash and he is me.

Someone tell me I'm not deluded....

(And one final note, if you aren't familiar with his material and would like to be, pick up BOTH of the following collections -- Love, God, Murder (3 CD's) and American Recordings Vol. 1. And no, that's not an advertisement; it's required listening in my world.)

Scene 6

For those of you who are still reading along, Simon has finished Scene 6 of his screenplay Like Augustine. I just figured that some of you would want to read what's happening next. Give Simon some input. He'd like to hear from you...

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Patience is an Active Verb

Can we accept
the fact that
we will never get it all?

Or do we walk
away from one
who wants to
hold us so close
in the midst of
pain that is so
unknowable &
so misunderstood?

Might we find ways
to rail against
the one who can
take our blows,
take our words,
take our hurts, &
love us all the same?

Might we find ways
to wait upon
the one though
we might not
want to do so.

Copyright 11/21/2005

Thursday, November 17, 2005

And now for something COMPLETELY different....

((Disclaimer: Please forgive me in advance if some of these album covers offend you. It is not my intention to offend, but to humor, in a black humor sort of way.))

((And before I begin, I know that this post is a distinct contrast from the "Back to the Future" post. If anything, I try to be as diverse a poster as possible....)

I was reading through Pitchfork Media's new album reviews from the past few days and came across this wonderful collection. The immediate descriptors for some of these albums include the adjectives: bizarre, ridiculous, perverse, obscence, scary, creepy, horrible, tacky, and downright offensive. But what makes this list so wonderful to read through is the brilliant & scathing commentary included by the editorial staff at Pitchfork Media. These folks might be indie rock snobs (and I love them for being such), but they are smart and SASSY indie rock snobs. Enjoy, if you'd like....

Pitchfork Media's List of Worst Album Covers

Monday, November 14, 2005

Back to the Future

No, I'm not Marty McFly and don't quite except to be anytime soon. I haven't worn an insulated vest or attempted to ride a skateboard since the late 1980's. And I've certainly never been befriended by a local mad scientist working for international terrorists so that he can get the plutonium to power his time machine. And besides, if the future looks like it does in BTTF 2, I do NOT want to travel there, no matter how cool my DeLorean HoverCar is.

What I'm trying to say through all this is that I've spent the last 2 weeks rehashing large sections of my past with a LONG-LOST friend of mine. Or to be totally honest and upfront, a LONG-LOST girlfriend. "WHAT?!?!" you might be asking yourselves. "You've had a girlfriend before?" you also might by asking. Yes, at one point in my life, I actually entered into romantic relationships with members of the opposite sex. The reason why I haven't pursued any relationships in the past 20 months is the topic of SEVERAL other posts. Such a discussion falls outside of the scope and realm of this post, a post which could be very long, hazardous, and worthy of several subsequent posts & discussions.

All introductions completed, here is the story:

Back in the day, say over 8 years ago, I was graduating from High School and I was dating this young woman, a freshman at the school we both attended. It was a rather random, tumultuous, frustrating, on-again, off-again, on-again, stifled, stymied, misunderstood, under-appreciated, and complex relationship, futher complicated by the fact that people didn't want us dating and avidly tried to break us up on a regular basis. There was never anything inappropriate that happened between us -- we never kissed, rarely hugged, nearly never held hands. Such was the life of two teenagers in a Pentecostal church (or probably any conservative church which told teens that ALL physical contact was wrong and never gave them appropriate guidelines for mature/developing relationships).

But, you see, even with all of the crap (or insert applicable profanity/derogatory noun of your choice) that was going on around us, we did like each other. We really did. She's told me as much before. We just didn't know how to deal with that, especially since we weren't getting any support or advice from those around us who should have been helping us and not just conspiring against us. I left for college in August of 1997 and we wrote letters for awhile, but with college life (and another girl that I had started talking to) upon me, our communications dwindled to nothing. Life happens. There were days that I regretted it, but I was a stupid guy. And like I said, we never really knew what to do with how we were feeling about each other. That kind of emotional ignorance would kill just about any relationship.

Fast-forward about 2 or more years -- say, about Fall of 2000, thereabouts. I know it was after May of 2000 because I had exited a 5-6 month-long relationship on a very bad note. Maybe that's why I decided to re-establish contact with this ex-girlfriend of mine. I don't know. Probably so. Who knows? It's beside the point. Or is it? Anyway....

Definitive and Necessary Bit of Back-Tracking -- You see, along with our personally tumultuous relationship, this friend of mine had lived in a near-literal hell on earth for most of her life -- psychotic mom, drunkard father, weird relatives, and all of the emotional disturbances that come with parental units who never functioned as parental units or even as decently-behaving spouses who even remotely loved/respected each other. She spent much of her time raising her two younger brothers, and started working as soon as she could in order to pay for her private school education. She grew up MUCH MUCH MUCH too quickly -- she didn't have much of a decent childhood, much less even had anything close to a normal adolescence. And I think that I spent too emotional time trying to "fix" her, to "help" her, all with the best of intentions, but it's rarely a good thing for a boyfriend to spend more time fixing/helping/protecting his girlfriend as opposed to learning about her and growing to love her for who she was/is. I was young, stupid, and emotionally immature. I told her that much over the weekend when we went out for dinner. I didn't know how to deal with her life & her issues, but we tried anyway. And failed -- we were much too young to make anything work at all.

We started talking again in Fall 2000 and convinced her to come visit me for a weekend, go to dinner, go to church, even to the point of trying to get her out of her home, out of her negative life, and bad church experience (since I was attending another, healthier Pentecostal church). Again, I was trying to help her, not love her; be her caretaker, not someone who cares for her regardless. My attempts failed; we stopped talking again.

Fast-forward yet again to Spring of 2003. We were talking on the phone for a couple of weeks, and she and I had even arranged for me to come visit for a weekend. She had stopped attending any kind of church and was living independently of just about anyone. She was happy, and I wasn't. I was beginning my transition out of my Pentecostal church culture and into something else. Granted, she wasn't to be a part of that, but I guess for awhile, I thought that we could start something. We stopped talking when another old ex-girlfriend entered my life again. It happens. I don't have a good excuse. It just happened. Damn, that's lame....

((Yes, for those of you STILL reading this rather curious, or possibly depressing, diatribe, I do realize how strange my interactions/relationship have been with this woman. I'm not stupid, just a bit delusional when it comes to her.))

But, on Halloween night, October 31st, around 9:45PM, she called ME. Yes, she called me. She told me it was Halloween, she wanted to do something crazy, and, besides drinking at home on her night off, she chose to call me 2-1/2 years after we last talked. She figured she had nothing else to do but call to see if the old cell phone number she had for me still worked. I was floored, flabbergasted, and totally astonished that she would call me. She's a rather headstrong woman who does what she wants and doesn't tolerate assholes in her life. And I had been a rather large asshole in her life, especially with how often I'd broken off contact with her for ridiculous reasons. She talked to me. I'm not sure that she wanted to really talk, but I did. I wanted to talk to her, mostly out of pure curiousity, blown away at her pure chutzpah.

So, we've been talking for the past 2 weeks. We've gone out twice -- dinner and drinks one night; dinner, coffee, and a 3-hour conversation this past Friday night. We talk or communicate nearly every night, even just to say hello. It's been rather strange, but rather good at the same time. I'm not sure exactly what to make of all of this. I think she enjoys my company, my personality, the fact that I'm not anything like the holier-than-thou, protector-boy I used to be. She's comfortable with who she is; I'm comfortable with whom I'm becoming. Maybe this is the beginning of something healthy, something.... But then I've been wrong before. But I'm hope that I'm not wrong this time. It feels rather good to have her in my life, even if it's just as friend. We had trouble being friends; we don't seem to have that trouble right now. It just feels good; nothing more nothing less.

Does any of this make sense? It does feel good to write about this though....

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Keep (for Mila)

Crackling with energy,
overflowing with joy,
your smile dazzles our eyes as
your eyes sparkle with life.

Who you are makes us happy.
Who you are becoming makes us hope
that you keep smiling
that you keep shining
that you keep growing
that you keep going.

Copyright 11/09/2005


I feel the kick, the pull,
the slap, the rejection.

I recoil from the passion
racking your actions.

I surge to react,
to restore, to run away.

I watch as your emotions
deepen as they are redirected.

Anger to dispair to pity to love.

Restore me as you rebuke me.

Copyright 11/06/2005

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Sidebars and Sideburns

I've often wondered this, since I tend to keep it fairly updated, but who actually reads through my reading and listening lists? Maybe I have some vain preconceptions about the content that I post, but I'd actually like to know whether or not that information there on my sidebar is worth keeping around. I've been thinking of ways to streamline/reformat my blog and the first things that come to mind to rearrange are those sidebars.

Am I being too random? Being too overly curious? I mean, you could all respond and say, "HEY! That stuff is crap. I don't pay a bit of attention that drivel!" Not that any of you would use that exact (or similar) phraseology, but the intent might be there.

Or maybe I should ask if there's any OTHER information about my life & times you'd prefer to read. I have enough people who regularly read through my material, so I'd like to poll all of you and test the waters.

Any ideas? Anyone?

**sheepishly grinning the chutzpah of such a silly post as "Thirty-Three" from the Smashing Pumpkins begins playing in his ears, his iTunes fully on random**

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Genesis Now

Hey there folks. New writing venture that I'm taking on -- writing curriculum for a the church that I attend. We're going through Genesis, one chapter at a time, rather expositionally, but lots of my personal creativity thrown into the mix. There will be weekly and perpetual art projects complementing the lessons, developed by a friend of mine (who happens to be the mother of one of my students. Go check it out!

Genesis Now

(BTW, Advent is coming soon, so Genesis might slow down, but I will be posting the 4-5 weeks of Advent there as well, complete with the art & the songs we're singing for our Christmas services.))

Wednesday, November 02, 2005



Granted, I shouldn't be such a blatant apologist.... Or such a ridiculous fan.... Or should I? Whatever....

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


Woven blues and greens
intertwine with
reds and yellows to create
harmony and balance
through cooperation.

Circle builds upon
circle builds upon

Colors mixed with
one another, some
with reason and some
with none.

Yet, from start
to end,
many comprise

Copyright 11/01/2005