Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Why? Why? Why?

I'm no music critic, and I don't profess to be. Most of the musicians on my ipod are either dead or too old to perform anymore. As many know, the end all to end all with me is the man in black Johnny Cash. From his days at Sun Records in the 1950s all the way to his last recordings with Rick Rubin in the early 2000s, Cash's work has remained some of the most important and meaningful in all of music.

Because of this, you can imagine how utterly disgusted I was to learn of a new project entitled "Johnny Cash Remixed." This project takes some of Cash's most important work from the 1950s and remixes it with current DJs and artists like A3 and Snoop Dogg. Seriously!?

If the songs themselves weren't travesties enough, the most disheartening news of all surrounding this project is that Cash's own son served as a producer on the album. It just boggles my mind that the son who helped complete some of Cash's last music would be on board to degrade his father's legacy with the likes of Snoop Dogg. 

Cash's music never succeeded with overproduction or with remixing of his classic, bare bone, "boom chicka boom" music style. So please, let sleeping dogs lie, especially that Snoop Dogg and stay the heck away from anything decent and good.  

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Sound of Silence

I think it's fare to say that we as a people enjoy noise. We drive through busy streets while blasting our favorite radio station. We do our homework with both the TV and the itunes going steady with noise into our brain. But yet, when we are without the static of noise, we feel naked, feeling alone from those things which give us constant attention.

This past weekend, I went on BSU's Sabbath Retreat that was held at St. Francis Springs Prayer Center in Stoneville, NC. Over the weekend, we talked and discussed various Christian practices and disciplines, like Lectio Divina and the Jesus Prayer. One of the main purposes of the retreat, and the center itself, is to reclaim silence as a spiritual discipline and for 3 hours Saturday afternoon, I was to be alone and silent. For those who know me, not opening for my mouth for 3 hours is quite a challenge indeed.

Luckily, the beauty of the surrounding woods near the center invited me to come and explore my silence among the noise of nature. The creaking of tall, old trees rubbing against one another gave me the impression of a woodpecker. The quiet, trickling streams, reminded me of my childhood and the creek my friends and I used to explore everyday.

Silence, like many things of a spiritual nature, is difficult to practice and claim as our own. But even though we are restless in spirit, God invites us to "come and see" the results that can be had in strengthening our connection with Him.

Friday, February 20, 2009


Often, I wonder how far people can go to prove their utter ignorance. Over the past few months, many people have proved this in their support of Sen. Roland Burris (D-Il.) after his appointment to the Senate by former (and impeached) Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich. If it wasn't ridiculous enough for the US Senate to accept an appointment by Blago after he had tried to sell that same Senate seat, the rationale that Burris tried to use to say why he was not tarnished by Blago was ridiculous enough. 

Burris the man, even before his Senate appointment was final, was one giant bowl of crazy. Now, to give the man his credit, he was the first African-American Illinois Attorney General. That in its own right is an outstanding accomplishment. But Burris didn't feel the need to stop defining his "trailblazing" with just that office. Not convinced? Take a look at the list of accomplishments he has already engraved on his masuoleum.

But thats nothing compared to how he uses the notion of "divine right" to justify his appointment to the Senate by then governor Blagojevich:

After only 2 months in office, it is now revealed that Burris attempted to raise funds for the governor while his name was under consideration for the appointment. Rarely can one man find a way to be so in love with himself that he fails to see the reality of the situation and actually quit his job.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Gotta Serve Somebody

Whether or not many people know it, Bob Dylan is an accomplished gospel songwriter in his own right. After converting to Christianity in the late 70s, Dylan released 3 albums of gospel rock. Slow Train Coming, Saved, & Shot of Love complete his most prolific work in the realm of gospel music.

But, if the thought of hearing gospel music blaring from the obscure vocals of Dylan, you need not worry. A few years ago, a variety of black gospel singers took some of Dylan's best gospel songs and created a compilation called Gotta Serve Somebody: The Gospel Songs of Bob Dylan. Hearing these particular renditions make you forget that you are listening to gospel music written by a middle-aged, white, jewish man. 

For my taste though, this particular rendition of Dylan's "In the Garden" with Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers from his 1986 Australian tour is one of the best gospel performances by Dylan:

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

This is awkward?!

In most of our daily interactions, it's safe to say that we come into contact with those individuals that we can assume are"awkward" when compared to the rest of the society that we interact with on a normal basis. But really, what is awkward anyway?

Take for instance, this recent (and infamous) appearance by Joaquin Phoenix on the Late Show with David Letterman:

Now, this isn't so much awkward as it is bizarre. But it still serves it purpose. Awkwardness is a deterrence from normalcy, or how you would expect people to act towards you or with others. What I love most about awkwardness is how it makes "normal" people act when they are confronted with it. They are so used to how things are supposed to be that they do not know how to react with faced with unpredictable circumstances. Luckily for Letterman, his comedic background allows him to face such awkwardness with humor and brutal honesty without being overtly hurtful.

Awkwardness is in many ways like prostitution, as it has always been with us, and it will always be with us, no matter what society or culture we become a part of. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

They like Jesus?

So, for this semester, my BSU Bible study is going through the book "They Like Jesus, But Not the Church: Insights from Emerging Generations." Currently, I'm waiting on the DVD sessions to come in the mail, but until that happens, our small group has been reading the first few chapters and having discussions and reflection on the readings each monday evening. Having first read Dan Kimball's work 2 years ago with "The Emerging Church" I decided to sink my teeth into his current book this past summer while working at Camp Dixie and found it a very interesting read. In the book Kimball surveys the current religious landscape and how the emergent/postmodern generation (roughly 20s-late 30s) of Americans are viewing Jesus, the Church, and Christians.

Good news first, they like Jesus.

Bad news, some feel the need to take Christians out back and shoot them.

Now, this is of course an extreme view taken by very few, if any, and serves to rattle the cage of complacency and protection in the Christian community. The challenges and rebukes are well-founded, and he does a great job in explaining that there is hope for both the church and nonbelievers by the way that we present ourselves and Jesus to the culture we are a part of. 

However, one must not feel so much hatred towards the church to leave it altogether. Many people feel that the easiest way to deal situations like this is to just quit the church and live out their faith alone. We were not called to be believers individually, but a collective family of believers that embrace the diversity that the Kingdom of Christ holds. Many of us forget that the word "reform" doesn't signify an overnight change in normalcy, but holds the hope that tomorrow things might start to change slowly, but surely, for the better.