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9/29/2005

GLADYS

Stanley Hauerwas and William Willimon tell the story in "Resident Aliens" of a young pastor proposing to a church committee the idea of starting a church day care center. He explained in detail why he thought it was a good idea and then a committee member named Gladys spoke up...

"Gladys butted in, "Why is the church in the day care business? How could this be part of the ministry of the church?"

The young pastor patiently went over his reasons again: use of the building, attracting young families, another source of income, the Baptists down the street already have a day care center.

"And besides Gladys," said Henry Smith, "you know it's getting harder every day to put food on the table. It's become a necessity for both husband and wife to have full-time jobs."

"That's not true," said Gladys. "You know it's not true Henry. It is not hard for anyone in this church, for anyone in this neighborhood to put food on the table. Now there ARE people in this town for whom food on the table is quite a challenge, but I haven't heard any talk about them. They wouldn't be using this day care center. They wouldn't have a way to get their children here. This day care center wouldn't be for them. If we are talking about ministry to their needs, then I'm in favor of the idea. No, what we're talking about is ministry to those for whom it has become harder every day to have two cars, a VCR, a place at the lake, or a motor home. That's why we're all working hard and leaving our children. I just hate to see the church buy into and encourage that value system. I hate to see the church telling these young couples that somehow their marriage will be better or their family life more fulfilling if they can only get another car, or VCR, or some other piece of junk. Why doesn't the church be the last place courageous enough to say, "That's a lie. Things don't make a marriage or a family." This day care center will encourage some of the worst aspects of our already warped values."

The young pastor was tempted to say, "Darn you Gladys, why don't you let me worry about ethics? I'm the resident ethical expert here!" But what he said was, "Gladys, with questions like the ones you are raising , we just might become a church after all."

9/28/2005

PURPOSE-DRIVEN DRUGS

"ATLANTA (AP) — Ashley Smith, the woman who says she persuaded suspected courthouse gunman Brian Nichols to release her by talking about her faith, discloses in a new book that she gave him methamphetamine during the hostage ordeal.

In her book, "Unlikely Angel," released Tuesday, Smith says Nichols had her bound on her bed with masking tape and an extension cord. She says he asked for marijuana, but she did not have any, and she dug into her illegal stash of crystal meth instead...

During the ordeal, Smith says, she pulled out Rick Warren's book "The Purpose-Driven Life" and read to Nichols a chapter called "Using What God Gave Me" to gain his trust. Nichols later released her, and she called 911 and told authorities where to find him."

Click here for the full story.

QUESTIONS: Does this hostage's use of drugs or her captors use of drugs negate her claim that God intervened to free her? Does God use "sin" to bring about virtue? Can both drugs and deity be active in a person's life at the same time? Could it be that this "God" character this woman speaks of is some sort of nickname given to her dealer? Like "Big Joey" or "The Ice Cream Man".

9/27/2005

JUST WAR PART 6: CHIVALRY

PREVIOUS POSTS IN THIS SERIES:
JUST WAR PART 1: THE TIMES OF AUGUSTINE
JUST WAR PART 2: THE THEORY OF AUGUSTINE
JUST WAR PART 3: AQUINAS BUILDS
JUST WAR PART 4: UNDER THE INFLUENCE (Crusades)
JUST WAR PART 5: UNDER THE INFLUENCE (Natural Law)

Picking up where we left off with Augustine and Aquinas, the next major development in the evolution of Just War doctrine was chivalry - the code of conduct followed by the knights of the Middle Ages. Chivalry imposed upon warriors a set of regulations for the conduct of war(1). Since knights did not declare wars but simply fought them, chivalric code sheds no light on just cause for declaring or commencing a war but only how one is to be justly fought by soldiers once declared.

For instance, the code of the knights sought to end unrestrained violence by prohibiting certain acts such as attacking noncombatants. And this is possibly the greatest contribution the knight code of chivalry made to the development of Just War thinking. With chivalry the only legitimate target of an attack was considered by the knights to be another armed warrior.(2)

Theologians like Aquinas or Augustine mapped out the do's and don'ts of just cause and declaration of war hoping to avoid placing their souls in peril by erring and acting unjustly. But the knights concerned themselves with the rules of just combat for reasons having nothing to do with the soul or religion. Their motivations centered around personal honor and material gain. "Stated succinctly, it appears that knights had two important reasons for guaranteeing the protection of noncombatants. First there was NO GLORY in armed combat with a nonknight, for knights were professionals. Secondly, noncombatant serfs, peasants, artisans, and merchants were the SOURCE OF WEALTH for the knightly class."(3)

SOURCES:
1. Louis A. Manzo "Air Power History" vol 39, No 3 (The Air Force Historical Foundation, Fall 1992) p38.
2. Michael Howard, "War In European History (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1976)
3. Johnson, "Can Modern War Be Just?" p5

9/26/2005

IKON INVITE 9 26 05



See you there: Tuesdays 8PM(ish) The People's Church Franklin, Tn. (In the Fellowship Hall)

9/25/2005

LOOKING THROUGH ANDREW'S EYES

DSC02862I listened intently tonight as Andrew Peterson fit more truth and inspiration in five songs than most of us writers can fit in a entire evening. He, I, George Rowe, Ronnie Freeman and others performed a benefit concert in Nashville for hurricane relief efforts. While every performer was great to hear and see, it was Andrew's lyricism that awed me most. And it was this song, "The Penny Song", that struck me hardest, a song that tells by showing - the hardest kind to write. Andrew's gift is letting his listener see meaning in the minutia of life through his microscope eyes. Enjoy this dose of pure brilliance from the lyricist I want to be when I grow up:

THE PENNY SONG
by Andrew Peterson

I'd give you all of me to know what you were thinking
And if I had one wish I'd wish I wasn't sinking here
Drowning in this well, oh can't you tell?

I can't pick myself up off the ground,
Well I've been face down and pushed aside.
Well you know I'd rather just turn tail and run
than lie here in the sun and watch you pass me by
Cause I ain't worth a dime.

But If only I could stand up straight, I wouldn't have to lie and wait,
I could up and roll away, never be ignored
I've got a feeling that I'm something more
than just a piece of copper ore, turning green and looking for
The reason I was born.

I've been around since 1964, in banks and bottom drawers
And on railroad ties. I've been passed around and cast aside
Skipped and flipped and flattened wide, Spun around
And thrown away and left alone to lie

But If only I could stand up straight, I wouldn't have to lie and wait,
I could up and roll away, never be ignored
I've got a feeling that I'm something more
than just a peice of copper ore, turning green and looking for
The reason I was born.

But I heard about a penny found, lying underneath the couch
By a woman who was kneeling down, looking for some change.
Then the woman danced around and called her friends all over town
Told them what was lost is found, it's another penny saved.
And so I find that all this time beneath the surface I could shine
Like all the gold a king and queen could measure
even a penny is a treasure

merch_13Pick up Andrew's latest CD "The Far Country" in stores everywhere.

9/24/2005

MUSIC VIDEO

Watch this.

9/23/2005

A SOUTH PARK YOU

Bored? Go here to make a South Park version of yourself.

Here's me.
me


Me singing.
mesinging


Or recreate those most important to you. Here's Brian.
brian1


And Becky.
beck1

THANK YOU FROM FINDSHELTER.ORG

FINDSHELTER.ORG UPDATE

We are now working with housing agencies given the task of finding homes for those still left in shelters after Katrina blew through Louisiana and Mississippi. One such agency must find homes for 600 families. We are hoping to take them all. With hurricane Rita on her way to Texas and Louisiana shortly, the number of displaced families will grow tremendously literally overnight.

We need your help. Please tell pastors and other church and Christian organization leaders about FindShelter.org. Urge them to go there and click on the sponsor link. Once they do so they will be contacted quickly by a representative of FindShelter.org and matched with a family in need of virtually everything. Sponsoring churches or groups are asked to supply ALL physical, mental and spiritual nurturing to their family for at least one year: clothe, feed, house, employ, counsel, medicate, pray etc. They need everything an they need it for a long time.

More families were placed this morning and we have men in shelters across the ravaged areas finding more families who need total assistance. We lack more churches and Christian organizations willing to adopt the growing number of homeless in the South. Prayerfully consider your part in all this. It's NOT enough to pray when we could be the answer to someone's prayer.

-Shaun

HOME

We made it home. Thanks for the prayers.

I still have family in the path of Rita. Some of them have been leaving Houston for 24 hours now and have gone less than 100 miles. No food. No place to stop for gas and getting only slightly closer to safety. Continue praying for those on the packed highways and back roads of Texas and for those who didn't even bother trying to get out.

9/22/2005

LIVE FROM THE HURRICANE

I'm in Texas. This won't be the most literate post. We're in a hurry. I'm posting from Jake Smith's laptop in a hotel in Tyler, Texas. We played here last night and were supposed to play tonight in Waco. Waco cancelled.

When we flew into Houston yesterday it took us 7.5 hours to get to Tyler (ususally 3 hours drive). We were stuck in a swarm of loaded down cars evacuating South Texas. With Waco cancelled we're driving instead of flying to Nashville. It's twelve hours with little gas left in Texas. Pray we make it.

Pray also for Jake and his band. They're headed back to Louisiana and then getting out with wives, possessions and what not. Crazy.

I'll let you know how it all turns out. Peace.

SG

9/20/2005

GETTING IT

Tonight at IKON Brian taught brilliantly on three chapters of Genesis but the highlight of the night was straight from the New Testament. When we love the least - scripture tells us - we love Jesus. Somehow the lowest and ignored become living sacraments, connections between man and Messiah. Somehow the essence of Christ spills through them to us and somehow our love flows through them to God. They become, essentially, conduits for two-way affection between Creator and created. Amazing. If we get it.

And this is the central message, in everything I sing and speak about, of my career thus far. We exist not only to know God but to make Him known by loving people. In doing so we worship and commune with God. I often wonder if we get it, if I get it. I've heard this so many times it can become theological furniture pushed against the walls of my heart while lesser theories and passions take up more space in the center of the room. I play shows where I sell more t-shirts than kids are sponsored through Compassion International. I meet ministers who spend tens of thousands on a new set of jumbotrons but just cut their mission budget, who have four people on staff to "lead worship" while no dedicated staff member exists to lead worshipers from singing into service. And I wonder, "Will we ever get it?"

Then a hurricane hits and churches mobilize to house and clothe and feed strangers. Mayors call pastors and beg them for benevolence mighty Caesar cannot provide. The Church awakens from it's slumber, stops it's singing, and starts serving. Lives are sustained. Prayers are answered. God grows hands and feet. And Jesus is loved well.

Or tonight happens. A smaller group than normal shows up at IKON to study an Old Testament passage. And the night closes with a simple announcement about special needs children in our church being without teachers on Sundays. The small gathering is asked to sign up if they could volunteer once a month to play with these kids while their parents get a break and the chance to attend a church service - something many of them rarely get to do.

The cynic I am, I figure we might get one volunteer. These are young professionals, newlyweds, college students. Busy people. They don't have time for this kind of commitment. And I've been going to this church long enough, begging for volunteers to watch healthy kids in the preschool department long enough, to know people here would rather sing than serve. But I was surprised. These folks at IKON are different somehow. They get it. Not all of them, but enough. There was an outpouring of mercy on these kids in need. Seven people immediately signed up to serve. And there were more who needed to leave but wanted to know if they could sign up later this week.

This shouldn't surprise me. But it does. And not just because it's rare in the church's I visit every week. But because it's often rare in me. When we love the least we love Jesus. I get it.

THE NOISY CHURCH

This from "Life And Times In The Fast Lane" made me think...

"When looking at our noise situation and our current church model, it can seem strange, even preposterous, like an out of body experience, or when you hear your own voice on the answering machine. It’s a model we have become so accustomed to and adept at, that it can be very hard to take an outside look at things. Our current model seems to be set up on the idea of the lecture. A group of people gather together, every week, to hear someone talk to them, hopefully to give them information that they didn’t already have, or if in the case that they did have it, that the new information would inform and lead them beyond their current level of information. While I haven’t done a lot of in depth study on this subject, I imagine this is direct root of part of our less noble Catholic heritage in which the gospel was handed down from Latin texts which the common layperson had no ability to read. This is a very simplistic explanation, of course, but this is my blog. Somewhere along the way, oh, about the time of Wesley and his cohorts, this lecture style, while not changing, became somewhat entertaining, with interesting personalities and former actors (Whitefield) occupying the pulpits. Religion as entertainment, as we have seen in the 20th century, really took off, especially with the baby boom generation which now occupies the seats of our mega churches every Sunday morning."

Click here to read the rest.

GOOOSH!

Have Christians just officially pimped out the last remaining untainted piece of popular culture for their cause? Are Christians absolutely without the capacity to generate original thought? Is someone going to make a lot of cash from this heinous cross-breeding of the sacred and sarcastic? Is there a marketing department somewhere full of Docker-wearing baby boomers thanking God their salvation cannot be revoked no matter how stupid they get?

HECK YES!

(thanks to "dory" from the board for this tasty morsel of oh-no-they-didn't-ness)

IKON INVITE: Jacob and Esau

You're invited to IKON, a bible study at The People's Church in Franklin, TN. We meet every Tuesday night around 8PM. Check out ikoncommunity.com for directions. (New IKON site coming soon, btw.)



We're walking through Genesis verse by verse. Join us.

9/19/2005

GOOD MORNING AMERICA AND FINDSHELTER.ORG

FINDSHELTER.ORG is working to match churches with resources to families affected by the hurricane in need of help. Things were slow going at first since many families believed they would be able to move back to the ravaged areas of Louisiana and Mississippi. But now, according to CNN, 40% of displaced families are planning never to return and are needing help relocating and starting over again. This has increased the interest in FINDSHELTER.ORG and our efforts to meet EVERY need of these families, spiritual and physical, and to do so by working through churches and other Christian groups (eg. Sunday School classes, Fraternities, Bible Study groups etc).

Our work is being highlighted in the media more and more and while FINDSHELTER.ORG is not always mentioned, the motivations and beliefs of those sponsoring families through us are. And that story, the tale of human beings showing mercy to those in need, really is the most important story to tell anyway. Check out this piece by Good Morning America about families FINDSHELTER .ORG helped by pairing them up with First Baptist Church in Leesburg, Florida.

REALITY RECORDING

Jason Morant has a blog. I know. I know. Who doesn't? But this is different. Jason, a native of New Orleans, is chronicling not only the making of a his EP "City Of Two Rivers" being recorded as a find raiser for hurricane victims in his home town, but also journaling the REmaking of the hurricane-bashed city itself. He and his wife move back to the Big Easy soon so check in often for more photos and first-hand accounts of their life and town on the mend.

AFTER THE SHOW: LEE UNIVERSITY

Lee University is a Church of God school in the hometown of the denomination: Cleveland, Tn. The folks at Lee took great care of us on this our first stop of the White Flag Tour. Jason Morant opened for Kendall Payne who opened for me. This was Jason's only date on this tour with us - he's from New Orleans and so his life's logistics are a little up in the air right now along with his schedule. I'd never heard Jason live before and I was struck by how different his live show is from his album. Live he sounds much more like Chris Martin and Rufus Wainwright than I'd realized listening to his disc. He bleeds these wonderfully melancholy aching mid tempos and ballads. Long phrases sung in the lowest parts of his range and occasionally swooping up into falsetto. Very reflective of European music at the moment, and of course completely out of step with the bulk of American CCM. Needless to say, I loved his set.

Then it was Kendall's turn. There's nothing subtle about Mrs. Payne. She bursts onto the stage the way she busts into a room of strangers - there needs to be a word beyond "extrovert" to describe her. I envied her last night. I miss playing the twenty minute set before the artist everyone paid to see (supposedly). It's hard to mess up a twenty minute set, so easy to sprint for such a short time without having to think about what you'll transition to when running gets old for you and the audience. And an opener without a band has the ability to interact with a crowd in ways a headliner just doesn't. Kendall used all of this to her advantage, being interactive and self-deprecating in the best way and her songs sounded remarkably complete played only on an acoustic. I might just become a groupie and quit this whole SHLOG thing - travel around making bootlegs of one of the best alt chick singer-songwriters there is. She deserves a tour with Ani Difranco or Lucinda Williams and not me. Check her out if you ever get the chance.

The show itself was packed out. Students at the University are forced to go to a certain number of "Chapel" services and this concert counted as one such credit. The only problem of this otherwise stellar night was the surprise revelation from faculty that Chapel services are only an hour long. Somehow in all the advance calls made setting up the details of this show this detail was not communicated. So, being unable to fit three artists into one hour, we knew that some, maybe all, of the crowd would leave when the hour mark was reached, getting their credit for time spent and heading back to the dorms to complete homework shoved aside by Saturday's fun and Sunday's nap. ABout a fourth of the crowd did just that, getting up in twos and threes over about a twenty minute span of time until finally those who felt sorry for me or had nothing better to do sat attentively. Honestly, I would have bailed too. I always had cramming or writing to do before Monday morning classes. I completely understand.

For the first night of a tour, with new openers, new logistics and a new set list to work with, the night was great. Even for not being the first night of a tour I enjoyed myself. I got to be a fan of my openers and be inspired to perform at their level. I'm not there yet but it was fun trying.

See you in Texas on the next stops of the White Flag Tour with Kendall Payne.

9/18/2005

JON TYSON SUGGESTS

Jon Tyson is a church planter and friend of mine. I'll link to him as soon as he gets his web presence going well and I'll fill you in, maybe via an "interview" on the exciting and innovative work he's doing in Manhattan someday as well. For now, here are four books this thinker and inspirer recommended I read (With his comments on each). Thought some of you might be interested as well:

1. The Shaping of Things to Come: Innovation and Mission for the 21 Century Church (Paperback)
by Michael Frost, Alan Hirsch
This book is a paradigm shifter. Its all your sneaking suspicions written down.

2. Organic Church: Growing Faith Where Life Happens (Hardcover)
by Neil Cole, Leonard I. Sweet
This book is refreshing. I actually disagree with his view of church.. housechurch... but think he identified major problems i have had and inspired me to see the kingdom grow organically.

3. The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference (Paperback)
by Malcolm Gladwell
This is one of the most interesting things i have ever read on how trends spread through culture. I actually did a talk on this from a christian standpoint...

4. Urban Tribes: A Generation Redefines Friendship, Family, and Commitment (Hardcover)
by Ethan Watters
This was an eyeopener on secular smallgroups... and how most of our generation is, [things I] have never thought about.

FROM THE ROAD: LEE UNIVERSITY

Heading to Cleveland, TN today with my band. We'll be playing mainly for students but the show is also open to the public. I'm using a new second guitar player for the first time ever. We've never met and never rehearsed. So that should be interesting. (Pray for Josh, my usual second. He is with his father who is having health problems.)

You can go to shaungroves.com any time to see where we're heading next and how to get tickets.

Hope to see you at Lee. Pics and more when I return.

-SG

9/17/2005

WHAT'S WRONG WITH THIS WORLD

Yesterday "What's Wrong With This World" went for adds at CHR and ROCK radio. Here's an excerpt from an article I recently wrote on the beatitudes explaining what's behind the lyrics:

MATTHEW 5:3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Jesus addressed the spectators scattered on the hillside. “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” he announced. How strange. How seeker insensitive of Him. This is His first opportunity after all to make a good impression on such an enormous number of potential converts, a multitude of spiritual seekers. Why start like this, with poverty? He might as well have said, “You’re a loser. There’s nothing good in you and you have nothing of value to offer me or anyone else. You’re worthless inside.”

And well, that’s what He meant. The first step in being a disciple of Christ, the thing we must know first is not, “God loves you and has a plan for your life.” That’s true: God loves us no matter how messed up we are. But apparently what Jesus wants us to know first is just how messed up we are. Perhaps that’s because love is more precious when we understand how little we deserve it.

I watched Billy Graham on Larry King Live shortly after teen gunmen had slaughtered their classmates in Littleton, Colorado. Larry was racked by the same question that kept so many millions up at night, “Why did this happen?” And as Reverend Graham paused to collect his answer, I raised my hand at home, ready to rant. I just knew it was Marilyn Manson, video game violence, MTV, absent fathers... That was the list evangelical America had raised me to recite at moments like this. The problem, it had been taught to me, was always out there in “the world”, in need of legislation or a good boycott. But Billy Graham, much wiser than I, seemed to hear me and calmly explained what’s really wrong with the world, “Thousands of years ago, a young couple in love lived in a garden called Eden, and God placed a tree in the Garden and told them not to eat from the tree….” As it turns out, this world is not what’s wrong with me. I’m WHAT'S WRONG WITH THIS WORLD.

I’m poor in spirit, nothing good in me when I entered the world, incapable of thinking and acting rightly. My heart’s twisted, torn, tempted. And aren’t we all. For all have sinned and don’t come close to measuring up to God’s perfection. As Calvin wrote, “He only who is reduced to nothing in himself, and relies on the mercy of God, is poor in spirit.” [Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists, Matthew, Mark and Luke, I, by John Calvin (1558: translated by William Pringle, 1845: Eerdmans, n.d.) p. 261] So I pray to God with him… “Nothing in my hand I bring/Simply to thy cross I cling/Naked, come to thee for dress/Helpless, look to thee for grace/Foul, I to the fountain fly/Wash me, Saviour, or I die.”

9/16/2005

IMAGINE THERE'S NO HEAVEN

Suppose later today a news item scrolls across the bottom of CNN "Archaeologist disproves the bible." You search the internet for more and find that in fact scientists and scholars agree that the ancient scrolls found somewhere in the Middle East recently predate the oldest versions of scripture known to exist. The scrolls contain discernible bits of Matthew that read differently from the bible we have always accepted as true. The most troubling difference? A passage in which the Pharisees press Jesus about the after-life. According to Jesus, according to these ancient scrolls, there is no Heaven. None. We die and that's all.

If these scrolls are proven to be authentic and true, do you still choose to believe everything else about Christianity? Do you still follow Jesus?

I presented this scenario to a small group of youth at my church years ago and a guy I considered one of the leaders, the most mature and knowledgeable of the crowd, answered first: "No. Why would I?"

Is the only reason for following Jesus the assurance that I will follow Him beyond the grave into Paradise? I'd answer NO. But that's because my motivation for following is deeper than what I get from following. But it wasn't at one time. It got that way by asking the question of myself one day: "If there was no Heaven I wonder if I would..."

This same kind of question, adapted for the moment's situation, is helpful in getting at my real motivations. I find myself wondering WHY I do and believe so many things. And this is how I peel back the layers of myself to reveal the heart of my motivations. I remove the benefit to myself from the situation (Y), the obvious prize (X), and ask "Now, without X, would I keep doing Y? Why? What would still motivate me if X went away tomorrow?"

With no need for a paycheck why would I do my job? Without need for sex why would I marry this person? Without a need for applause why would I write this song?

This kind of questioning has so often lead me to the most important answer: Why. So go ahead. Imagine there's no Heaven.

9/15/2005

LOWERCASE PEOPLE

This is some of what you'll find at brand new Lowercase People, an on-line magazine focused on music, arts, literature and social justice.

AN EXCERPT FROM THE "REGULARS" SECTION:
"Two hundred years or so before we began to fancy ourselves the occupiers of a No Spin Zone, William Blake talked about "mind-forged manacles," metal clasps forged by the mind and for the mind. He heard the clank of the manacles whenever human beings opened their mouths; the dirty trick whereby we pull the wool over our own eyes, denying ourselves the ability to think carefully or handing over to a talking head, a career politician, or an ideological authority our capacity to say two and two make four. Or as Simon and Garfunkel tell us, we hear what we want to hear and disregard the rest. News networks understand as much. They have to sell the news, after all. What's news? Whatever they can sell as news. They can't change what we'll buy into. They have to anticipate it. If we want to hear tell of Michael Jackson's woes more than we want to know about a genocide in Darfur, the Jackson trial will be the news. To survive, the networks have to play to our "felt needs." In this sense, we are the newsmakers. They're the sales force." From "Are You Reality Based?" by david dark

AN EXCERPT FROM THE "JUSTICE" SECTION:
"We walked alongside a man named Cassie—a white man who has thrown himself into the Kayamandi community: a man who has slept in its shacks and whose daughter attends its schools (a decision that caused an outrage among the white community). Cassie calls Victor his boss, and an especially good one at that. Together they work for the good of Kayamandi. Black and white, rich and poor. The best friends have big dreams for the future. " (From "Out Of Africa" by jon foreman)

AN EXCERPT FROM THE "MUSIC" SECTION:
"I've heard of painters who have torched all of their art, set it all on fire to start painting with a clean slate. That's not really an option for a band." (Feature by reeve oliver)

BEND MY EAR

I need your help. I'm writing an article, due too soon, for The Worshiper, a new magazine "for the people in the pews", on the Church's role in hurricane relief efforts. I'll talk about the philosophy of mercy showing, why we should be involved as Christians etc and then share a story or two of churches or individuals out there making it happen in real life. I have stories of my own but wanted to give Shloggers a chance to chime in before I start typing.

Tell me your story. What are you or yours doing to aid those affected by Katrina? Post a comment here or e-mail me at shaungrovesfanmail@charter.net. Subject: "Katrina story".

9/14/2005

HAPPY IS A YUPPIE WORD

At the risk of sounding like a fanboy, here's a lyric from Switchfoot's new album NOTHING IS SOUND that's got me thinking. The verbose vagueness of this lyric leaves room for the listener to interpret through his/her own lense on life at the moment. And it inspires me to talk pretty and use big words like "verbose". Check out "Happy Is A Yuppie" word and share what it means to you at the moment by leaving a comment down below.


Everyone dies
Everyone loves a fight
Nothing is sound
Nothing is right side right
Evening comes, when the sun goes down in red
Nothing is cool
When will all the fighting end
When will all the fighting end

Happy is a yuppie word
Nothing in the world could fail me now
It's empty as an argument
I'm running down a life that won't cash out (cash out)

Everything fails
Everything runs it's course
A time and a place, for all of this loving war
Everyone buys, everyone's gotta price, and nothing is new
When will all the failures rise
When will all the failures rise, rise!

Happy is a yuppie word
Nothing in the world could fail me now
It's empty as an argument
I'm running down a life that won't cash out

Happy is a yuppie word
Blessed is the man who's lost it all
Happy is a yuppie word (word)

Looking for an orphanage
I'm looking for a bridge I can't burn down
I don't believe the emptiness
I'm looking for the kingdom coming down
Everything is meaningless
I want more than simple cash can buy
Happy is a yuppie word
Happy is a yuppie word
Happy is a yuppie word
Happy is a yuppie,

Nothing is sound
Nothing is sound
Nothing is sound
Nothing is sound
Nothing is sound
Nothing is sound
Nothing is sound

Happy is a yuppie word
Nothing in the world could fail me now
Happy is a yuppy word (word)

So calm down, yeah!

WHERE IN THE WORLD IS SHLOG.COM?



Here are the last 500 viewers of SHLOG.COM. Yep. Pretty American at this point. Let's spread the love a little. If you have friends in non-American places I'd sure like your help getting them to SHLOG.COM. We need a global conversation here, more than one perspective, about the important matters of music, life and um...what do we talk about here again?

Anyway, help spread the word. Please?

-SG

SWITCHFOOT AS GOLDILOCKS

"Obviously no single album is going to satisfy everyone's musical tastes, but rock can be especially tricky. Go too far with sophistication, and you lose the average listener. Make it too simplistic, and people will say it lacks substance. Too hard, it becomes metal; too soft, it's suddenly considered pop. Look back through the history of rock and you'll find that the bands with tremendous cross-demographical success—the Coldplays, U2s, and Beatles of the world—fulfill Goldilocks's proverbial "just right." In short, it's a balancing act.

This is partly why everyone from teeny-boppers to middle-aged rock fanatics has recently fallen for Switchfoot. It was just over two years ago when they released The Beautiful Letdown and toured the club circuit, as fans quietly hoped for a mainstream breakthrough. After selling 2.5 million copies, the Southern California band officially arrived, going from a smart garage rock band to one of the most popular bands in music today. Now the question is, will they go the distance?"

-From Russ Breimeier's review of Switchfoot's "Nothing is Sound" released yesterday. Now on iTunes and in good music stores everywhere

Do you agree?

9/13/2005

TEXANS UPDATE

Bad news first. When I was in Beaumont I got to talk with a cousin of mine who works for Entergy, the electric company scrambling to get power back on in and around New Orleans. He's in charge of a group of guys doing the repairs and reported to me that looters had stolen a van of theirs and had made the repair efforts next to impossible in New Orleans proper because of attacks on Entergy's offices. A bad element had been shooting at their offices and repair crews in a fight for food and other supplies or valuables in the office buildings or repair vehicles. As of this past weekend (9.10,11.05) repair crews were being escorted by armed guardsmen and were still unable to get to some parts of New Orleans due to the imminent threat to their lives. The very people Entergy is trying to help, the poorest of New Orleans, are thought to be the very people making that help impossible to render.

More sad news. This same cousin, a heavily armed NRA card carrier and second amendment enthusiast, went to the gun range this weekend with a friend from the FBI. This agent reports that the FBI has snipers in and around New Orleans, on rooftops, and has been "picking off" looters and other criminals. The FBI, he says, will not release their "kill count" to the media but claims "it is very high."

GREAT NEWS! Brian and I visited his brother Chris while in the Houston area. Chris is a pastor at Ecclesia (a church in Houston) and is personally housing 20 volunteers from Erwin McManus' church Mosaic in Pasadena, California. These volunteers are primarily twenty-somethings giving their time and skills to the care of evacuees in Houston: visiting the Astro Dome, distributing food and clothing, organizing donated items at a warehouse etc, through Ecclesia. And sleeping on Chris' floor.

Chris reports that the main need at this point is not housing, since the bulk of evacuees relocated to Texas are already being absorbed by Church families taking them in or finding them apartments or other suitable housing. The greatest need is funding for these efforts. A family in Houston who has decided to put an evacuee family in an apartment will eventually need help paying that rent since evacuees are believed to be displaced for at least a year in some cases. Churches like Ecclesia are also operating on budgets and tithes not designed for such massive relief endeavors like this. They are buying supplies and paying staff at a pace most churches could not sustain without outside financial help of some kind. Any church hit by the storm or involved in caring for those affected by it now needs churches in the rest of the US and the world to help them financially. Findhelter.org is working on ways to connect such churches in need with churches willing to give assistance. I'll keep you posted.

Central Baptist church in Bryan/College Station, TX, where I played Friday night (9.9.05) has placed approximately 300 people so far and reports that city officials enlisted the help of local churches like theirs in finding homes for displaced families. Now there's a welcomed change: The government asking us to do our job instead of us asking the government to do it for us. Hope that trend sticks when the debris clears.

So there's news from the front-lines of the Texas relief efforts.

9/12/2005

POLL RESULTS: WHAT SHLOGGERS LISTEN TO MOST



It might not matter that much what radio stations play at all some day. Seems like a lot of us have already stopped listening.

WILL WORSHIP FOR CASH

I ran into an artist in the airport this weekend who told me he/she/they were working on a "worship" record. Turns out this artist was allowed by his/her/their label to make two "substantive" records that would not probably sell well or get played on the radio (one because of the other obviously) IF he/she/they would make a "worship" record between the two. A "worship" project that is not "substantive" would be guaranteed to make the label enough money to make up for two not-so-well selling projects.

Vomit. Is this "worship" movement a "move of God" or a move of capitalism?

BEAUMONT, TX 9.10.05

This show was just plain weird. Weird in a very entertaining way.

First of all, this was a 9/11 show held on 9/10. Huh? But wait, it gets better. It was supposed to be indoors but the venue was turned into an evacuee shelter. So we played next door at a massive 15,000 capacity outdoor ampitheatre instead. Amazing facility. Great sound. Good line-up. But things can always go wrong - even in the best situation.


1000 tickets were pre-sold, but because of thunder storms and the change of venue only about 200 people ventured out to the show. The two side stages were rained out and 47 independent bands slated for the festival had to be whittled down a bit and then the remainder thrown into the main stage rotation through-out the day. There wasn't enough time for everyone to get their promised set lengths so label artists cut their sets and independent artists played only two songs each. I felt horrible for guys who drove long distances to play longer sets for big crowds but wound up playing eight minutes for 200 people with no time for a soundcheck.

I got to see Paul Colman play again, taking the opportunity to grab a picture of him in action. He stopped in the middle of his song and asked me to get one of his "good" side. Thunderous laughter from the small crowd. Ok, a smattering of laughter.










The Swift, friends Brian and I made on our trip to El Salvador, rocked out with their cross between Weezer and Ben Folds pop. They (pictured here with Brian and on stage) piano-rocked the crowd just after One Bad Pig, a middle-aged punk outfit from the eighties reuniting for a few shows this year, awed the crowd with tight power punk and a dive from the drum riser into a swimming pool filled with ice cream. "The world is like an ice cream sundae. It's all gonna melt someday!" they shouted again and again. Not sure why one decides to incorporate large amounts of dairy desserts into one's show but some things are meant to be enjoyed and not judged. Ashamedly, I did like it. I bow before the legends and inventors of 80s Christian punk.

The sound company was truly horrible, mistreating the promoter, trying to pick a fight with Brian, and walking off from the main board randomly and not returning for long periods of time. I was ready to start my set, for instance, but instead sat on the edge of the stage talking to the "crowd" while waiting for the sound man to finish his smokie-treat and return to work. Never seen anything like this before. The production crew's juvenile apathy and the other hurdles of the day eventually led to a minor emotional meltdown by the promoter and his team. Understandable. It's not easy being a promoter, especially of a show this large. Add bad help to the mix and it would force anyone into the fetal position in search of a happy place. Paul prayed with the promoter and encouraged him to go on with the show, telling him we'd get through this together. His charisma and pastoral gifts came in handy, saving the day perhaps.

And we did go on. Every band got to play eventually, we weren't rained out and great music and relationships were made - along with sundaes of unusual size. (below)



COLLEGE STATION, TX 9.9.05

I was born in Lawton, OK but smelled the fajitas wafting across the border when I was two and made a break for it. I spent the next 22 years in Texas. My body adapted quickly and soon could only run most efficiently on Tex Food cuisine. So today, while the wether and scenery are nicer in Tennessee, my body and, well, my spirit too, putter along on the cheap fuel of Taco Bell. I'm forced then to schedule frequent stops in the land of Pappasitos as a matter of survival. This was one such life saving journey.

We arrived by plane in Houston where a man was allowed to set up a protest table outside the baggage claim - claiming that Bush was the antiChrist, Cheney was an UNnatural disaster, and other such nonsense. I had to marvel at how evenly God has distributed the wackos between the two parties in this country. It's only fair.

We quickly made our way to Pappasito's - #2 on my list of great purveyors of Tex-Mex. (#1 is Uncle Julio's). There, Brian and I gorged ourselves on hot sauce made from grilled ingredients and queso full of chopped onion and green peppers before diving into our entrees. Mmmm. God bless Mr. Pappa. He completes me.

Then it was on to Central Baptist Church where I played a show with Paul Colman. Paul goes to my church here in Franklin, TN but we've never really made time to get to know each other before this show. We sat, restringing our guitars in the choir room, and talked about music business and family, how he got started, whether country music is good or demonic, and lots of other stuff. He's a driven driven man with more charisma and ideas swimming around in his pinky finger than I've got in my body. Of course it could just be the accent. Anything Australians say sounds worth listening to. It's just not fair.

At the last minute we decided to play one large set together instead of two separate smaller sets. I took the stage and asked the crowd if that was OK with them and to cheers I invited Paul up to join me. Unrehearsed, we pulled off - but just barely - duets of each other's songs, me limping through harmonies (not my gift) and stumbling through my lyrics (I think my songs have twice as many words than his so it's to be expected.) In the end it was a great night, a change of pace for us both, and a chance to relax and cut up a little more than usual in concert. We were both forced out of any routine that may have found its way into our sets lately and were made to improvise and trust someone else for a change. Scary when you don't know where the other guy is going next.

9/11/2005

WORTH THE WAIT

Went to Texas to play two shows (College Station and Beaumont) this weekend. Flew in this afternoon, hung out with my family briefly, and then zipped to a hotel in Nashville to play for a group of retailers in town for a convention. I just got home (10:40PM) and would rather sleep than upload photos and craft a decent post for SHLOG.COM so that'll have to wait. Check back sometime Monday for a story about a promoter crying, a tale about a duet I sang with an Aussie, an update on relief efforts in Texas and find out why one Christian artist I ran into at the airport says he/they/she will be releasing a "worship" record soon. (No names will be used of course.) AND pictures of a grown man diving into a blow-up swimming pool filled with ice cream Sundae.

Yep. That's my weekend. Ya'll come back now. It's worth the wait to read about.

-SG

9/09/2005

THANK YOU WAY-FM SOUTH FLORIDA

Thanks to WAY-FM for having me on the air this morning on their South Florida station. Thanks, Brant and Donna for getting the word out about findshelter.org for us. You guys are already doing so much with Samaritan's Purse, The Red Cross and others so I appreciate you adding findshelter.org to the list of options for Floridians wanting ways to help hurricane victims as well. Thank you.

-SG

FROM THE ROAD: COLLEGE STATION, TX

I'm on the air this morning (7 AM CST) with WAY-FM West Palm (listen here) to talk about findshelter.org and then it's off to Texas. My body is running low on the power only good Tex-Mex can provide. I'm like a car made for diesel trying to operate on regular unleaded living out here in Tennessee. I have to pull through the promised land every few months to refuel. Fajitas. Queso. Cilantro. That's mana. Here I come.

Pics and posts after the show.

God bless Texas,
SG

9/08/2005

PRESS RELEASE: FINDSHELTER.ORG

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: media@findshelter.org
info@findshelter.org


NEW ORGANIZATION, FINDSHELTER.ORG, ESTABLISHED TO CONNECT HURRICANE VICTIMS TO CHURCH SPONSORS FOR LONG-TERM RECOVERY
Rocketown Records artist Shaun Groves signs on as spokesperson

(09/08/05) - Through the cooperation and inspiration of Christians from various denominational backgrounds, a new organization has been established in the past week to provide assistance for Hurricane Katrina victims. FindShelter.org is dedicated to helping families affected by Hurricane Katrina by connecting them with churches and other organizations willing to assist them with long-term recovery.

Rocketown recording artist Shaun Groves joined with the organization this week as both a spokesperson for their work and a partner in the daily planning needed to make relief possible. “Under the oversight of the North American Mission Board, we are matching up families devastated by hurricane Katrina with churches or other Christian groups willing to ‘sponsor’ them for a full year,” Groves said. “Sponsorship would entail meeting every need present in the family: food, shelter, employment, spiritual and psychological counsel, health care etc. We believe it is the Church's responsibility first and foremost to aid these families in need. Only the Church can meet the needs of the whole person, both physical and spiritual. And we hope to be one of many lifelines between the hurting and the Church, helping the helpers find the needy.”

FindShelter.org was established by business partners Carsie Denning, Jr. and Brian Bell with the help of a large, nationwide network of Christian friends. According to Denning, “It has been absolutely amazing to see how God is pulling this effort together through the service of so many people and organizations. Our desire is to bring glory to Him though our efforts to serve the displaced families.”

For more information on how churches and organizations can sponsor families, please visit www.findshelter.org or email info@findshelter.org. Interested parties may also call 910-341-8410.

Team member Bill Bangham, director of photography at the Southern Baptist International Mission Board and board member, along with Denning, of the American Belarusian Relief Organization, is handling media inquiries. He can be reached at BBangham@imb.org or 804-519-4288. Shaun Groves is also available for questions and interviews and can be reached at shaungrovesfanmail@charter.net or through Rocketown Records at 615-503-9994 x29.

A MESSAGE FROM ECCLESIA (HOUSTON, TX)

My Friends,

As many of you know, Houston has now become home to a large number of the refugee's from the devastated Gulf Coast region. The majority are forced to start over from scratch, enroll the kids in school, and start a new life. Ecclesia will be working towards building bridges to bless, nurture, and encourage our new neighbors. If you would like to partner with us we would be especiallly grateful - the needs are vast and overwhelming for our fledgling community. One of the greatest needs is a displaced Children's Home. We are searching for a place where we can secure multiple homes together for the children and their caregivers and many other families. I am including a music video that we are using in our worship service tommorow, it is very moving. If you would like to partner with us let me know. We will need people as well as financial resources to minister the thousands of families during such a tragic time. Checks can be made to:

Ecclesia
Katrina Relief Effort
2115 Taft
Houston, Tx 77006

Thanks to all of you and blessings!

Chris Seay

P.S. This is the link to a music video download (made by Travis Reed) that tells the story of the loss of so many this week.  The song is based on Psalm 137 and is from "The Voice" (a retelling of the scriptures I am working on with World Publishing). The text and song were written by Lori Chaffer (of Waterdeep) and recorded for a unique worship project based on the reteeling of the Psalms - it will release in 2006.

www.highwayvideo.com/pub/DontMakeUsSingThis.zip

ALTERNATIVE POLITICS

From CBS's blog about Katrina
Sept. 8, 2005

"9:24 a.m.
(CBS) — Americans are largely dissatisfied with the response to Hurricane Katrina, and blame all levels of government, according to the latest CBS News poll.

In a dramatic change from the public's reaction immediately after Hurricane Katrina hit on Aug. 29, President George Bush's overall response to the hurricane meets with disapproval today. Only 38 percent of Americans polled approve of Mr. Bush's efforts. Sixty-five percent of Americans say the president's response to the disaster was too slow.

Critique fell not only on President Bush, but on FEMA and other government agencies. Eighty percent of those surveyed said the federal government as a whole did not respond as fast as it could."

We live under the umbrella of a benevolent and wealthy government here in America, which grants us physical freedom and protection to a great extent from physical harm and injustices of many kinds. But this poll and this catastrophe are a conspicuous reminder to the Church (all Christians world-wide) and to me that even the best governments cannot replace the power of us. Only we are large enough in number, great enough in wealth, powerful enough at heart, varied enough in skill, and omnipresent enough geographically to meet the physical AND spiritual needs of all the least in every society at all times. We cannot eradicate all suffering and fear but only we are commanded by God and empowered by God to try.

Those angry with the government expect too much of their political leaders and not enough of themselves and their church. The government only does what the Church won't, what the Church thinks it can't.

Here's how one church is responding to hurricane Katrina. More examples to come.

GOSPEL MUSIC CHANNEL HOSTS TELEVISED BENEFIT CONCERT

Adapted from a Gospel Music Channel e-mail to artists and labels. I will not be in attendance due to a previously contracted obligation.

-------------------------------------------

GOSPEL MUSIC INDUSTRY RESPONDS TO DEVELOPING KATRINA CRISIS WITH BENEFIT CONCERT OF HOPE
 
SUMMARY:
On SEPT. 22 the Gospel Music Channel™ and Gospel Music Association Present “Gospel Angels”— a Live Concert Nationally Televised on Gospel Music Channel and Paxson Communications’ i Network

WHAT:
Gospel Angels is the gospel music industry’s outreach to the tens of thousands of people torn from their homes by Hurricane Katrina. The Gospel Music Channel is partnering with the Gospel Music Association, Paxson Communications Corporation’s i (formerly PAX TV), and veteran promoter Peter Conlon to launch this live nationally televised concert featuring Gospel/Christian music’s brightest stars.

“America is facing an unprecedented crisis of people torn from their homes and left with nothing but the clothes on their backs. It’s critical that we step up to meet this next phase of the crisis in their lives, providing tangible assistance as well as hope, which gospel music communicates like no other music,” said Charley Humbard, co-founder of the Gospel Music Channel which is producing Gospel Angels.

Gospel Angels will be staged at Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park with additional live performances originating from massive victim shelters across the country. The concert will be broadcast nationally on the Gospel Music Channel and i. Check local listings or visit www.GospelMusicChannel.com.

100% of funds raised through ticket sales and donations from concert goers and viewers of the national broadcast will go to organizations meeting the basic living needs of tens of thousands of hurricane victims, including World Vision and Feed the Children.  

Gospel music has always been about love, hope, and inspiration. Today, people from the Gulf Coast region are in desperate need of those three things, as well as basic living necessities like food, clothing, and housing.  Gospel Angels will help meet those needs.

For more information on Gospel Angels, please visit www.GospelMusicChannel.com.
 
WHEN WILL IT AIR:
Thursday, Sept. 22
Gospel Music Channel 7:00pm – 10:00pm EDT
i (formerly PAX TV) 8:00pm – 10:00pm EDT

MMORE ABOUT THE GOSPEL MUSIC CHANNEL:
The Gospel Music Channel is the first and only 24-hour all-music television network devoted to the best of Gospel/Christian music.  From the soulful sounds of Aretha Franklin to the country roots of Randy Travis, to the contemporary stylings of Kirk Franklin, Amy Grant, and Jars of Clay, the Gospel Music Channel celebrates a musical genre that crosses cultures and generations and delivers a fan base so large it deserves its own network.

9/07/2005

FINDSHELTER.ORG VIDEO INVITE

Download and watch this quicktime or windows media video invite to get involved with findshelter.org. Then please pass it on to your pastor or church group leaders to consider.

Thank you,
SG

CLOTHING DRIVE IN NASHVILLE AREA

We are all devastated by the destruction of Hurricane Katrina. Clothing is desperately needed for the thousands who have lost everything. Go through your closets and sort out the clothes you are not wearing, bag them, and bring them to Golf House Tennessee, 400 Franklin Road, Franklin, Tuesday (9/6), Wednesday (9/7) ad Thursday (9/8) between 9 AM and 5 PM. Outback Steakhouse trucks will then transport the clothing to New Orleans or Baton Rouge. The Tennessee Golf Foundation (a 501c3 corp) will give you a recept for your donation. Please forward this message to your friends in the area who can help. Thank you!!!!

Bonnie Taggert
Tournament Director
The Vinny Pro-Celebrity Invitational
400 Franklin Rd.
Franklin, TN 37069
615-794-9399 fax 790-8600

SLIDELL, LA HURRICANE DAMAGE BLOG

Click here for good news and regular updates on the Hurricane recovery efforts in Slidell, LA.

UPDATE ON SLIDELL, LA FROM THE PRESIDENT

What Slidell, LA? - you may be asking. Read here, and here. Then come back and read this update from Don:


-------------------------------

It's Monday and I still don't know that I can put down into words the experience of going to Slidell this weekend to help in relief efforts. I will tell you one thing, from where I was and what I experienced you are only getting 1/2 the story on Television. The picture they show of the devastation is real. You cannot "spin" video tape and still photos, you really can't edit them much to make them say what you want, although the most dramatic visual backdrops will always be used. What
can be "spun" is the words, the thoughts, the actions of a desperate few....looters, rapists, rioters, Kanye West, Shaun Penn and other people who want to turn this political.

Slidell is situated 20 Miles to the northeast of New Orleans as the crow flies, but a million miles away in spirit. The pictures, plus conversation and prayer that we shared with the people there probably would not be covered on the news. It was not tragic enough. I am sorry that I have a tinge of cynacism (ok, probably more than a tinge) about this, but outside of deep sorrow, tears, questions and shock - my overwhelming emotion is anger. Anger at the 2 storms that are being covered. One has to do with the greatest national disaster ever recorded in America - and one could turn out to be worse if we don't put aside the "who's fault is it" argument. Easy for me to say 450 miles to the north, but being almost at ground zero I still saw hope, joy, togetherness and work. Much closer to Reverend King's dream of his children's children walking hand to hand with each other than you may know.

After we established the supplies inside of Joy Fellowship we realized that the pastor was simply too overwhelmed to have thought of what to do after we off loaded the truck. Here is a tiny little spirit filled congregation with little to no "infrastructure." A few of us on the trip tend to be a little controlling (read-impatient) about getting thing going. But soon cars began to back up to the church, not necessarily in droves but a steady stream. Person after person when asked what their need was told us exactly what there need was.

"I don't need any water, but do you have 3 pillows?"
"I don't need those pillows, do you have any tums or asprin"
"I don't need that cereal, save it for the babies...do you have any
socks?"
"We have plenty of water, but we need a little food"

Almost to a person they began with what they didn't need....almost to a person they would tell us who needed a certain item more than they did. I was not prepared for this selflessness. I was prepared for gun-battles, military check points and defense of our truck - later I felt foolish for this.

With each person who pulled up we asked if they knew of anyone trapped, or in deep need. Three beautiful african american ladies who came only for pillows and dry food told us of a story of people in their apartment complex who needed help. We found a mini-van, filled it to overflowing and took off. We found a small U-Shaped two story complex of very simple 1 bedroom apartments - probably 50 units total. As we piled out of the mini van to see who needed what, someone from the pool area came over to ask us if we had ice. He told us that was their biggest need. We asked where the elderly and babies were - he told us to follow him. Under the picnic shelter attached to the poolhouse we found 20 people or so who were gathered during the day to be together...pool their resources and help each other make it better. We found stacks of standard kitchen supplies, items from pantrys and a grill cooking all of the items that were spoiling from refrigerators which hadn't had power since monday. If you add some music. clean the people up a little bit it would have looked exactly like any Labor Day picnic across the US.

TUESDAY -

So I took a day break from writing this. Luckily the media has begun to cover a little on the positive side.

Ponchatrain road is the 2 mile strip I'll never forget. It leads from Slidell town center to the bridge that feeds across the Ponchatrain into New Orleans. We were stopped by armed national guardsmen. when they found out we had supplies the let us go in. What we began to see there was mind-numbing. The first "neighborhood" we saw was an upscale golf course community. It honestly looked like a bomb went off in a lumber yard, there wasn't even a shape of a house, a roof in tact or anything that would let you know there were homes there. Just a field of lumber. Next we pulled in and talked to some people who has survived in a two level apartment. Next door to them was a hair salon - the entire building which housed the salon was about 250 yards back and to the left, in a lumber field. The further we drove the more news crews and FEMA people we saw....it truly made unreal backdrops for news reports...but the thing is, someone lived there.

When we got as far as we could go on Ponchatrain Rd before the bridge to New Orleans I saw a refrigerated truck, hoping it was ice that we could take back to our friends at the apartments gave me some hope. It was then that we were told it was a temporary Morgue. We had heard that up to 80 people had perished in one apartment complex near by.

By the time we returned to Joy Fellowship we received the good news that the word had begun to travel out and they had a steady stream of evacutees coming in and getting the supplies they needed, and only what they needed. Today is tuesday, we're back at work, and my friend Jay tells me of the great works that continue to happen out of the Joy Fellowship. As he said "once we got out of there they started ROCKIN."

We hear that the goods you supplied have been gone through, and replenished, and gone through again - for a total of three times! They have established a "drive through" where they are issuing goods to people including hot meals. They have had 5 generators donated so the entire church is back in the electricity business! Also, they are housing Red Cross workers and Pilots who are shuttling evacuee's to other areas.

Sorry to be so long winded and disjointed, but I wanted to get this out before too long. Once you get me started talking about it it really is hard to shut it down. There are many, many stories to tell - but I feel like you deserved a bit of a play by play since this really was about YOUR generacity. Thank you for being the heartbeat, hands and feet of God. There are a few thousand people sleeping on pillows with a full belly and a clean shirt on tonight because of you.

Don


Don Donahue
President
Rocketown Records





9/06/2005

DISCONTENTMENT

On September 4th I cracked. I drove six hours to Boone, North Carolina, walked into an arena where 700 kids and their youth ministers sat waiting for me to play and I thought to myself, "I'm thirty-one. There has to be more for me. This feels hollow. It doesn't matter."

A couple weeks ago I was in El Salvador visiting impoverished children and their families. I heard about molestation and rape, about child labor on coffee plantations, about the rich oppressing the poor. I also saw the Church in El Salvador, with support from the Church in the U.S., fighting against these heinous forces and winning. I thought to myself, "I'm thirty-one. I've never felt more alive. This feels substantive. This matters."

In the months before that trip I'd grown restless in my role as a Christian musician. I made myself learn how this industry works: How radio stations operate, how labels operate, how mainstream music operates. I read about art and faith and how they "should" combine. I prayed. I talked to other artists. I digested everything I could about this work I do in search of a purpose, an ethic or direction with spiritual substance at it's center - something that would matter to me. I wasn't looking for God in this business. I know He's here. I wasn't looking for the godly. I've met them as well. I was looking for what God wanted ME to be about in this business. I was looking for direction, a purpose, a point to my career. And, honestly, I was looking for a way to crack the system, play the game, as a way of doing something bigger for God - as if God sees what I've done and am doing as worthless and small right now. I'm an idiot sometimes.

This trip to El Salvador didn't create this struggle in me. If I hadn't gone to El Salvador this would have been a phase. It would have passed. El Salvador wove it into me. It made magnified my questions and made finding an answer imperative and not elective.

I've counseled and encouraged and provoked to righteousness countless people over the last five years. God's done that through me and in spite of me. I've felt useful. It's felt substantive, like every day mattered. But it doesn't any more. Now I feel discontent. As my best friend, who is going through this same thing in his life, said tonight - I feel "antsy". I feel small. Less than I was made to be. I feel ready for more or different. I feel uninspired by music making and industry and money and so much else that once held my attention.

I don't think my life before this period of discontent was shallow though, or off course in any way. I don't think my once caring about music and my work and all the rest of it was disobedient or less spiritually mature of me. I just think something's changed in me. The part in me that allowed me to fully engage in those things is worn out or gone altogether. The part that made me want to be PRIMARILY about those things is out of order. I'm broken.

Most of the time these days this discontent drives me to reading and researching poverty, theologies and theologians and ethicists who've written about these things that seem to be fueling my brokeness. I told Becky I feel like the main character in Close Encounters of the Third Kind - the guy unexplainably urged from within to make mountains of mashed potatoes and mud, not knowing what this new fascination of his means or if it means anything at all. And Becky feels the same way. Odd.

And this discontent is usually these days driving me to prepare for the answer to the questions "What CAN I be inspired to be or do now? What's next? Why this interest in other things suddenly?" I'm preparing for this answer by selling my house, simplifying my life, eliminating the money factor in my obedience. If God says "go" or "do" or "be" someday I want to be obedient without hesitation or friction financially or in relationships with label, friends or family. I'm preparing them all for the phone call I hope to get from God eventually that could demand something from me and will surely dislodge me from this discontent I'm in.

Most of the time this discontent fills me with nervous energy, anticipation of what's next. It usually invigorates while irritating, fills me with longing for something I've yet to find and makes me content to wait for that something while enjoying life here and now. It makes me silent for hours and then suddenly explodes into a commaless rant or passionate unwieldy blog posting or essay. This discontent makes me "antsy" but it's usually good. It has been good - very good and positive.

Until September 4th. I still don't know why but it changed direction. I got angry. (I sort of know why: ONE trivial complaint seemed extra trivial that night in light of the serious issues faced backed in El Salvador for starters.) I'm ashamed that I did but I did. Really angry. Makes no sense. Great promoter. Great audience. Great food. Great travel with friends. Great show. I'm still not sure all of what or who I was angry about. Every attempt to put it in writing or conversation has failed. All I know for sure is that I felt like I didn't belong, I wasn't what was needed and the crowd wasn't what I needed. I didn't appreciate them and they didn't appreciate me but it was deeper than that. Like I said I can't explain it with words. It's a sense that can't fit in my mouth at all. I didn't fit. And not just for that night but it struck me that maybe for always now I won't fit. That scared/scares me. And that for some bizarre reason made me mad at everything including myself.

So tonight I got honest with God and a good friend. I shot straight with both. If I could quit music, if I had no contract today, I would. (Though I have no idea where I'd go or what I'd do.) I'd leave. Not because I hate it or anyone in it, but because I don't feel like I fit here right now. This isn't me right now. There's something else that needs me. Maybe for a month and maybe for the rest of my life. Something needs me. This job, these people, this industry, this country maybe, doesn't anymore. But I'm staying - for now. And I'll stay joyfully. I haven't been told what's next. And I look forward to counseling and provoking with my music every chance I get until God breaks this silence and explains to me in small words where I'm needed. In the meantime I'm not angry anymore. It left me as quickly as it hit me. And thankfully no real damage was done.

I say all this here on a blog - which is very uncomfortable and unconventional - because some of what I've written here lately has been under the influence of this stuff I'm sorting through. Some of the angry, as fleeting as it was, seeped into my words here. I regret that. But I'm also thankful for it. It was honest. If there's one thing I know God wants me to keep being it's that - honest. He uses that. There are scores of Christians content right now with arriving at death safely and filling the time between now and then with religion and routine. They believe - as I once did - that believing is enough and that after a sinner's prayer we're to take a seat, blend in and enjoy the scenery. I've been against that from the beginning of my career. I've been against that since a car accident in high school disrupted MY scenery, filled me with discontent, made me thirsty for more and taught me how too write songs in the process. My reason for doing this job in the first place was to infiltrate an industry feeding this kind of placid piousness with a loud unrelenting dose of jagged costly discipleship - substance. Now some of those religious people thankfully come here. They're my fans. They're my friends. And I want them to see me crack and break and struggle and fight God right now. I want them to see what a faith that is in flux and maliable and sometimes ugly looks like in the fire, on the anvil, under the abuse of the Hammer. And I want them to see what happens when the flames cool, to see what can be made of a mess like me. I want them to see that it's worth it to be discontent and miserable and angry so that one day we can be content and inspired and humbled and more useful than before.

So I'm going to bed to toss and turn once again, dreaming of what's ahead. And I feel better just letting you know what's going on. I haven't lost my mind. I'm just enjoying an extra large portion of discontentment. Mmmm good. Ask for some.

FINDSHELTER.ORG






An organization has been founded this week that specializes in finding families in need after Hurricane Katrina and matching them up with churches and other Christian groups for sponsorship. Once a family is sponsored they will have all of their needs met by that group or church for one year: housing, work, psychiatric treatment, child care, food, spiritual counseling and anything else. Sponsor churches and groups will be a family to these families who've lost homes and livelihoods for twelve months, but hopefully will make connections with one another that last a lifetime.

I've signed on as a spokesperson for findshelter.org and receive updates often from the leaders of this group. I am asking questions regularly of their staff and doing my best to make sure this program constantly operates with integrity and effectiveness. Feel free to call or e-mail them with questions of your own and please consider this opportunity to meet every need of a family in crisis through your group or church.

This is the Church taking care of the least. Join us. Check out findshelter.org.

9/04/2005

NO MOSHING FOR THE MESSIAH

(THIS POST WAS EDITED AT 5:26PM CST MONDAY SEPTEMBER 5)

I don't get Christian rock shows. Too much talk. Not much rock. Even less fun.

I talk at my solo shows. I confess. When the crowd hunkers in close, squints their eyes slightly as if truly pondering the lyrics, savoring the thoughts buried in melody. I do that. Coffee shops. Small clubs. College theaters. Small churches. Anytime it's just me and my guitar and I've been brought in specifically to speak and sing.

But with a band, guitars spitting distorted angst, drums beaten within an inch of their life - well, a band should play music. Shut your face and rock mine off - I think.

But that's me. And maybe only me - at least among Christian concert goers. Christians like "ministry", which they seem to define as talking. It's as if a singer who doesn't actually say "Jesus" or "God" between songs probably doesn't like either one all that much. So talking about them both often in concert is a good idea. It proves one's entire belief system is what you claim it is and using these words might just be the best proof available that a musician is "saved" at all.

It's not the concert goers fault really. Christian kids are sheltered. They watch MTV as if it's the Discovery Channel. TRL is ogled and studied like a page from National Geographic - another planet's National Geographic. And like a suburban soccer mom dropped into the wilds of uncivilized Africa, these kids wind up driven to Christian-sudo rock shows by their youth ministers only to self-consciously bob slowly all night, unsure of whether they should be enjoying themselves in the first place - and if so, how? "How did the pagan kids on TV do this again?"

Sad really. The only experience many Christian concert-going kids have with concert-going is the likes of me. Yikes. Just once I'd like to take every rural Southern Baptist high schooler on a field trip to a Green Day or Foo Fighters show. Not to taint their shiny souls with the inherently harmful music of the world's whores, but to show them how it's done. How fun is done. "This is fun," I'd say to them. "See that guy over there, the one with his shirt off and his moppy head ricocheting again and again off of thin air? That's a good time," I'd instruct. "Do more of that. Lots more. And stop biting your bottom lip."

And they'd notice there isn't much talking at real rock shows. There doesn't have to be. See, music actually says something. That's what lyrics are for. My parents, for instance, didn't want me listening to "bad music." Why did they think it was "bad"? Because they heard the artist talk? Because the artist articulated his band's hedonistic doctrine thoroughly between ditties on the Grammy's? No. The music said it all. Their lives said even more. It still can. So why can't Christians judge (not eh best word) Christian artists in the same way?

I'm there in your church, at your college, playing songs that are openly about my faith or because of my faith. Do you really need me to talk about God and Jesus between every song before you can feel safe with me? To feel like something of value to your soul has been uttered? To understand what I'm about, who and what I love?

Tonight I played a 40 minute set. Before me was a speaker and after me was another artist who likes to talk a lot. I knew both of these folks would often be mentioning both "Jesus" and "God" in their monologues. So I rocked for 35 minutes and talked for all of 5 while my band tuned and prepared to rock some more. Afterwards I was approached by a college student, a counselor at this event, who had seen me play before. "It was great tonight, "she said. "But I liked you better the last time I saw you. You just ministered more then. You just played tonight."

So I asked her if she'd like to see Green Day with me.

FROM THE ROAD: BOONE, NC

I've officially played in Boone more than any other city in the US. It's a long drive by rented van. We leave this morning at 6AM from a Kroger parking lot, the band, Brian, me and lots of guitars and other tools of our trade. We're bringing the rock power from on high to a youth conference. Glamorous. WIth all the gigs canceling this week I'm just glad to have one on the Southeast still on the calendar.

Pics and more after the show.

-SG

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Those pics I promised:





9/03/2005

BLOGGING FROM GROUND ZERO

"It is a zoo out there though, make no mistake. It's the wild kingdom. It's Lord of the Flies. That doesn't mean there's murder on every street corner. But what it does mean is that the rule of law has collapsed, that there is no order, and that property rights cannot and are not being enforced. Anyone who is on the streets is in immediate danger of being robbed and killed. It's that bad."

This is just some of the first-hand reporting/blogging posted in cyberspace from New Orleans by "The Interdictor".

9/02/2005

BEAUTIFUL LETDOWN: GRACEFEST CANCELLED

GRACEFEST, a music festival held in Pensacola, FL each year has officially cancelled this year's events. I received the following e-mail this afternoon since I was slotted to play there along with many other Christian artists this month. Thank you GRACEFEST leadership for putting your resources behind hurricane relief efforts instead of a show. If everyone who would have attended your festival helps out instead, makes a donation the size of your ticket price, many needs will be met and lives saved. Thank you for your example.

This is the third gig I've had cancel for the month of September. The first two were churches converted into refugee housing. It's oddly good to lose work because the Church is doing it's job.

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Shaun,

Due to the catastrophic effects of Hurricane Katrina along the Gulf Coast, the decision has been made to cancel GraceFest for September 16 & 17.

This decision was a difficult one to make and was based on the following factors:

1) Governor Bush has appealed to the citizens of the State of Florida to conserve resources, particularly fuel and utilities. Due to the fuel shortage, he has asked for employers to allow for four day work weeks or for employees to be allowed to work from home if necessary. Our county commission has also requested citizens to conserve gasoline and not make any unnecessary trips.

2) Hotel Availability- Our area now has almost 10,000 evacuees from Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana and 2/3 of our hotels rooms are housing them as well as in multiple shelters. As an organization we do not want to risk evacuees being displaced.

3) Resources Diverted to Relief Efforts - We have a shortage of volunteer manpower for the event as many of our volunteers are involved in the continuing relief/recovery efforts. Our military/uniformed security volunteers have all been reassigned to relief efforts. Other infrastructure such as communications and generators have been sent for use in relief efforts.

4) One third of our GraceFest market in the past years was from Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. Naturally, none of those attendees will be coming.

5) The largest Christian Radio station for the Mobile/Pensacola area, that has driven ticket sales in the past, was taken off the air by Hurricane Katrina with no indication of when they will return to the air.

6) The Northwest Florida area has been through Hurricane recovery of Ivan, Arlene, Cindy and most recently Hurricane Dennis and is now poised to reach out and help those to the west of us with all available resources.

We feel that with the critical basic human needs that need to be met, it would be irresponsible for us to go ahead with an event that would further deplete both physical resources and volunteer manpower.

Our prayer is that you will not only understand our need to cancel but to join in the relief efforts in any way that you are able. In a few months we may be in a position to produce a fundraising concert event and would welcome your participation.

May God continue to bless you all individually and in your ministries.

The Executive Committee
GraceFest

MORE FROM THE PRESIDENT

THIS IS THE LATEST E-MAIL UPDATE FROM DON DONAHUE ON BEHALF OF THE FOLKS PUTTING TOGETHER THE SLIDELL LOUISIANA RELIEF TRUCK. IT WAS SENT TO ME LAST NIGHT (9 1 05). FOR MORE INFO READ THE TWO POSTS AFTER THIS ONE.

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I wrote most all of you earlier today to tell you of a need that has come in today for some friends who are desperately trying to set up a shelter at a church in Slidell, Louisiana for refugees of the storm. At 11:30am this morning my friend Jay Hall from Maxx Technology got off the phone with the sister of one of his artists who both had lost everything in Katrina's wake - and still there desire is to have their church building be a refuge even though that building itself doesn't have power or water - 200 people can have shelter there - but they need everything. I am very happy to report that not quite 12 hours later there is over $25,000 in donations that have come in (someone even gave me cash at the titans game tonight after reading the earlier email!) Laura and I went by the warehouse at 9:30 tonight [9 1 05] and were overwhelmed by what we saw. Palate upon Palate of water, diapers, blankets, pillows, food, clothing, medicine and so much more. They were getting the 18 wheeler ready to load. It's quite an organized operation over there -- very inspiring. BUT THERE'S STILL TIME. They're planning on holding the truck until 11:30 or 12 tomorrow [actually today, 9 2 05]. Contrary to my earlier email if you can still bring supplies by take them Straight to MAXX's Warehouse. It's on Crossroads Blvd in Cool Springs [that's in Franklin, TN]. Suite 111 of the Brentwood South Warehouse district. (For those of us who have kids it's about 10 doors to the left of Pump it up.)

One more need, and that's prayer. The Maxx team has been advised from very top sources that they will have plenty of hurdles to clear once they get on the road. They need to talk themselves across the boarders of both Mississippi and Louisiana - if they make it into the states (they have some names to help them get in), they have been advised to make the delivery into Slidell after nightfall - drop the supplies into the church under darkness and get out of town. Supply trucks are very vulnerable to attack, highjacking and worse. It is beyond a desperate situation. Pray for safety for our friends, the drivers and all who are going on this mission trip. Remember, this is 8 hours south of Nashville, not Africa. Amazing.

Thanks for your amazing support in such little time...and remember, there's still time in the morning. Call me if you have any questions.

Don