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4/30/2006

SISTER SARA PROVES JOE RIGHT

Sara Groves (no relation) speaks up about the music industry as she sees it:

“Unfortunately, there’s no difference between a deal in 2006 and a deal in 1960. If you look at the language, the percentages, the numbers and everything, folks today are signing the same contract they signed with Motown (a big label based in Detroit in the 60’s). Those were the same lousy deals you’ve heard about that ruined the lives of artists way back in the days of Rock & Roll, and are ruining the lives of artists today”.

Read the rest here.

These words of Sara's were hanging out on the couch in my brain minding their own business for days when the inspiring idealism of Joe Trippi's The Revolution Will Not Be Televised came in the front door. They became instant friends and started having a conversation in my head that got quite noisy and messy at times. Ideas and questions have piled up all over the place in the last few days. Allow me to sweep one pile out the back door and into your brain for more pondering:

Has the publicity department at evey label just been replaced without us realizing it?

With a few key strokes in an e-mail, on a blog, in a messageboard or to the editor of a webzine we artists - independent and signed - can now potentially ruin or resurrect our careers. "Fans" of a web savvy artist don't have to wait for her to appear in a costly music magazine answering innane questions about favorite colors to learn more about her if she is easily accessible via her blog and e-mail. Why hope an interviewer asks the right questions, the questions we want answers to, when we can ask artist's our own questions?

From an artist's perspective: Hey, I like magazines but printed and broadcast media are not my only choices for communication with my present and future audience any more - and the alternatives are almost always free!

And, frankly, I prefer the new media over the old most of the time: The old media is a one way monologue. I talk. You listen. The new media is a two way dialogue. I talk. You talk back. We both listen.

The old media is closed. Publicists with connections who happen to work for artists who sell magazines or attract listeners to stations get access to the pages and airwaves of the old media. Limited exposure for a limited number of fortunate sons.

But there are no fences keeping the new media from me...or from you...yet. With technorati and a good site meter I can see who's linking to me, talking about me, my music, music in general, subjects I care about, my last show, my upcoming CD, my friends, my theology, and the list goes on and on. Then I can decide if I want to link back, jump into those conversations, debate, say "thank you", or ignore them altogether. The choice is mine - not my label's. I can spend all day or no days posting to messageboards, arranging interviews via e-mail, or posting to my and millions of other blogs.

And while it's quite an enjoyable ego stroke to be on the cover of a magazine, the big one shot of old media can't compete any more with the many shots of the viral yet small new media. (Almost 500 sites currently link to SHLOG.COM.) It's nearly impossible for the audience of a radio station or magazine to forward paper or audio to millions of people of their own choosing in seconds. Blog rolls, links, e-mails, message boards, p2p communities like youtube.com and myspace.com are just some of new media's tools making the spead of information not only easy but compelling to do on-line.

Sara's words spoken to a webzine editor have now bounced around in cyberspace and landed here at SHLOG.COM to be read and pondered by my audience. This posting is spreading her words and giving them continued life long after a print article's influence would have fizzled. Magazines die in trash cans. Communication on the web never dies.

And so the idealistic Trippi is right about technology's power to change the power structures of almost every industry - even the slow changing music business. It's a revolution made possible by effort and technology, the replacement of top-down one way publicity by bottom-out two way conversation.

Now if we could only get lawyers to revolutionize the record deal...

4/28/2006

FIRE AND FUEL

I'm being called liberal in the comments section of this post which forced me to admit what I really am there as well.

Here's some fuel for the fire - and some more.

See, I'm not the only one.

SERVER PROBLEM

Do not adjust your internet connection. SHLOG.COM is experiencing difficulties. My server has locked me out for some reason so all the images stored there will not load here: the beautiful SHLOG.COM logo that once sat proudly atop this page, the friendly little guides saying things like "Today's Quote" and "Archives." You get the idea. Hopefully my hosting company will get this straightened out soon and my blog will be beautiful again.

In the meantime, what hosting company do you use? I may be shopping for one soon.

THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE TELEVISED

Joe Trippi is so liberal he gives Kennedy the creeps, so megalomaniacal he makes Bono seem sheepish, and so right about the internet he makes everyone still relying on top down marketing and leadership look like neanderthals. Often self-absorbed, Trippi seems to truly believe his readers shelled out $26.95 to read about his long history of political involvement ranging from student body elections in college to managing the Howard Dean campaign. I did not.

For that reason I found reading the first two thirds of The Revolution Will Not Be Televised to be like mowing a redneck's yard in search of a buried pickup rumored to be hidden somewhere between the pink flamingos and the collection of yard gnomes.

It was there. I found a Buick sized portion of inspiration and ideas that made even the drudgery of whacking through his self-congratulatory moments and rants about conservatives worth it.

The book is divided into three parts. Part one: Life before Howard Dean - TV and big money controls politics. Part two: The ascent of Howard Dean and the rise of the common man, the internet and small donations in politics. Part Three: The collapse of Howard Dean and what we all can learn about technology based leadership, community and marketing from the candidacy of Howard Dean.

Like I said there are many finds in the weeds here. A few are:

ON THE EVILS OF TELEVISION:
"As I've said, TV is a passive, top-down medium. Sitting around watching television inspires nothing but more sitting around and watching more television. As Robert Putnam writes in Bowling Alone, 'television watching and especially dependence upon television for entertainment are closely correlated with civic disengagement,' People who call TV their 'primary form of entertainment' are far less likely to go to church, to write letters, to join clubs and organizations, or to attend public meetings. One estimate is that every hour of television watching translates to a ten percent drop in civic involvement." (He's quoting Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community by Robert D. Putnam)

ON THE CHARACTERISTICS OF INTERNET ACTIVISTS:
"Internet activists generally share a few common traits: They tend to be younger, they tend to be unafraid of change - in fact they demand it - and they tend to distrust the mass media to express their particular viewpoint. And so whether it's the Drudge Report or Daily Kos, the most successful web sites and blogs on the Net have about them the unruly whiff of rebellion."

ON BUYING THE PRESIDENCY:
The secret to Bush's fundraising is bundling, finding those corporate donors who can hit up their employees and country club friends for $1000 and $2000 checks. The Bush team calls people who could bring in $100,000 Pioneers. Donors who bring in $200,000 in bundled checks are called Rangers. ...between 1998 and May of 2003 Bush raised $296.3 million and at least a third of the total - many sources believe more than half - was raised by 631 people. ...bundlers get "credit" for their fund-raising work. ...So what do the Kenny Boy Lays [Trippi claims Lay brought in $600,000 for Bush] of the world get for their money? ...two of the five people named to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission had been recommended by Lay. In effect...he got to choose 40% of the government agency that would regulate his industry and his corrupt company! (Trippi gives sources for this information in the book if you're interested)

Trippi's main point is that success in the industry he cares most about, politics, is up for sale to the highest bidder. He claims that the candidate with the most cash always wins. This is so, he says, because TV, before Dean's internet campaign, was the best way to make an impression. And those TV ads cost money - lots of money. Combine this fact with the suggestion that rich white guys buy influence with the President's party and you get the picture: Presidents are bought and not elected. Democracy is an illusion in America. Shocker.

Enter Trippi, a seasoned pol and a longtime geek with a history of dabbling in upstart tech companies. He sought to use technology to drop "pebbles" into the masses and help the ripples spread the word about Dean and his new open-source governance. (I'm not telling you anything about how he did this. Buy the book.)

The downside? Dean lost. And the method, rather than the message, was what Dean supporters really rallied around all along.

Trippi is middle school idealistic. He's the guy who still thinks we'll drive flying cars to work soon. He envisions an open-source president corresponding with voters on his blog, taking the names of thousands of every day Americans he knows from his blog with him to Congress to convince Senators not to side with lobbyists on issues voters care about, a president who is controlled entirely (in a sense) by citizens with internet access - and he thinks this is good leadership. He thinks he's replaced TV and radio and traditional American politics with a younger, faster internet driven model forever. Maybe he has. At the very least he's combined the two into a powerful new machine anyone can learn from and adapt to their own industry.

Hmm. Replacing TV's power is one thing but can the influence of Christian radio be usurped?

4/26/2006

DOES THIS STUFF COME OFF IN THE BATH?

A future corporate scandal and ensuing trial was prevented tonight. It all began when Ken Lay threw a fit in my bathtub.

"I want it!" he screamed, reaching for the red plastic ball held in the tiny hands of, and being gummed by the tiny mouth of, my one-year old daughter. She peered over it confused as if thinking the words as they came from my mouth for the thousandth time, "Gresham, you have ALL the balls except THIS one. Can Penelope have just ONE ball to play with?"

And then the life lesson Enron's Mr.Lay and many others either never heard, never understood, or chose to ignore followed.

"When you have everything, Gresham, that makes you happy doesn't it?"

He looked up at me with a squinty-eyed grin, oblivious to where this line of questioning was taking him.

"If you have everything though that means your sisters will have nothing. Do you think they're happy when they don't have anything to play with?"

"Yes," he stated confidently before the judge.

"No, they're not happy if you take all the toys and don't share. They'd like something to play with too."

He handed a broken toy to his little sister - a sponge formerly shaped like a dinosaur but now shaped like a dinosaur that angered the mob and lost his limbs in the "reconciliation" process. His little sister, through with her inspection of the red ball's entire surface with her tongue and three teeth, dropped it uninterested, and gladly moved on to mushing the decapitated dinosaur sponge between her gums. Gresham kept one eye on my moving mouth while slowly swimming one hand through the water like a stealthy shark slipping in for the kill. He nonchalantly wrapped his fingers around the red ball slowly, like a lazy python stealing its prey from the shore, submerged it slowly so as not to be noticed, and slid it along the bottom of the tub until hidden under his thigh...

...while I asked, "Do you know what it's called when someone has to have everything and doesn't like to share? Do you know what it's called when you have enough toys but you have to have everyone else's toys too? Do you know what that's called, Gresham?"

Blank stare.

"Greedy. I don't want you to be greedy, Gresham. You have plenty of toys. You don't need everyone else's too."

Then the sentencing: No red ball, yellow ball or any other colored balls for the rest of bath time. And punitive damages: He had to be the first one out of the bath tub. Community service: Tomorrow he's picking out five toys from his collection to give to kids who don't have any toys. Parole: He has to live with me until he's eighteen.

Rest easy, World. One white collar criminal down (or at least under surveillance); an entire generation to go.

(MIS)INTERPRETATION

ANOTHER EXCERPT FROM "A Field Guide to Evangelicals & Their Habitat." THIS TIME THE TOPIC IS HOW EVANGELICALS INTERPRET SCRIPTURE - AND I POST THIS AS AN EVANGELICAL WHO CAN LAUGH AT HIMSELF:

Here is how evangelicals interpret Bible passages to arrive at their political positions:

This passage: “Remember the poor” (Galatians 2:10)
really means: Remember how lazy the poor are and thank God you’re not on welfare like them.

This passage: “My kingdom is not of this world” (Jesus in John 18:36)
really means: But for now, make sure you keep control of the White House and Congress.

This passage: “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s” (Jesus in Matthew 22:21)
really means: Only pay taxes on money you can’t hide from the IRS.

This passage: “Thou shalt not kill” (God in Exodus 20:13)
really means: Kill only those who deserve it—like death row inmates, abortion doctors, sworn enemies of the United States, and the French, when possible.

This passage: “Do not mistreat an alien or oppress him” (God in Exodus 22:21)
really means: Vote against government benefits for illegals.

This passage: “The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and care for it” (Genesis 2:15)
really means: Don’t worry about the environment because when Jesus comes back he’ll destroy the earth anyway.

(HT: RAI)

4/21/2006

ON THE ROAD AGAIN

4.21.06 Shoreview, MN (Incarnation Lutheran Church - with band)

4.22.06 Orlando, FL (Compassion International - solo house concert)

4.23.06 Orlando, FL (First Presbyterian Church - solo AM services)

4.24.06 Waco, TX (Hippodrome Theater - solo)

See you there.

-Shaun

4/19/2006

OLIVIA'S DREAM

She feeds, clothes and educates a child in Kenya through Compassion International.

When hurricanes Katrina and Rita ripped through the South she baked, selling her wares to raise money for displaced families.

When she read about the famine in Africa she began saving up to somehow help those living in it's smothering wake.

Every night she prays for children and adults by name who are sick, and for regions of the world ravaged by natural disasters and other catastrophes. Every night she thanks God for what she has and asks him to help those who have less or nothing at all.

She's single-handedly planned to stage a "Compassion Sunday" event at our 5000 member church this weekend, hoping hundreds of children are sponsored.

I won't be there. And she's upset about that. Not because she'll miss me or need me but because Brian and I get to hang a little with Wes Stafford, the President of Compassion International this weekend and she doesn't.

He's a rock star to her.

She's read Wes' book. She wants Wes' job.

Her dream is to feed, clothe, educate and protect children around the world as the next President of Compassion International. But for now she's going to school every day to prepare for the task.

Third grade's a pain. But its just a stepping stone to bigger things for Olivia, my nine year-old niece.

Study hard, girl. You have a world to save.

THE ABSOLUTE NERD ROCK TRUTH

A nugget from "We Are Nowhere, And It's Now" from Bright Eyes' album "I'm Wide Awake It's Morning".

"If you hate the taste of wine
Why do you drink it until you're blind?
And if you swear that there's no truth and who cares
How come you say it like you're right?
Why are you scared to dream of God
When it's salvation that you want?
You see stars that clear have been dead for years
But the idea just lives on "

4/18/2006

DITCHING CHURCH FOR BOOKS

Instead of going to church tonight I listened to one of my favorite writers read short stories from a stage.

Or, to be completely honest, I didn't teach at ikon tonight but instead went downtown with friends to hear David Sedaris, an openly homosexual, "liberal", satirical, irreverent, deadpan, sometimes controversial and always funny writer read essays about sex, racism, poverty, excess, love, leaches and every day life.

And I left inspired with the muscles in my cheeks stiff from an hour and a half of open-mouthed laughing. I'll think and write better after tonight. Or annoy myself trying.

Here's just a taste of his humor I find funny because it's true:

"After a few months in my parents' basement, I took an apartment near the state university, where I discovered both crystal methamphetamine and conceptual art. Either one of these things are dangerous, but in combination they have the potential to destroy entire civilizations."

"I haven't got the slightest idea how to change people, but still I keep a long list of prospective candidates just in case I should ever figure it out."

Check these out for more.

EAVESDROPPING: WACO'S CACHINNATOR AND ME PART 2

Here's part two of the conversation between Waco promoter The Cachinnator (Scott Baker) of the Hippodrome and me. Read part one here. I'll be in Waco at the Hippodrome theatre downtown on April 24th at 7PM. Tickets are $10. Call 254.752.7745 for more info. I'll also be in Baylor University's chapel service at 10AM that same day and I might be in a religion or music class that day as well. Spread the word.

shlogdotcom [9:35:45 AM]: Good morning. I'm early this time. Just dropped my kids off at their preschool classes here at church, wandered down to my "office" (a table in the lobby) and hopped on the free wireless. - Hey, btw, I have a thing at 10:30 I need to be at. So ask simple questions that don't set me up to rant or ramble. Small sentences. Small sentences. I can do this.

thecachinnator [9:37:37 AM]: Got it. We'll keep the level 6th grade in TX. Hang on a sec...

shlogdotcom [9:39:01 AM]: Are you copying and pasting questions or making this up as you go along...copying and pasting aren't you? You're one of those bizarro creative types who's also organized aren't you? You people frighten me.

thecachinnator [9:39:45 AM]: Sorry about that. One puppy got out. Didn't go anywhere, just got out. They have the aggregate IQ of a house plant.

thecachinnator [9:39:59 AM]: And I don't know what you're talking about...

thecachinnator [9:42:41 AM]: Okay, so, we left off with you nice and ticked. Yet you hinted at a realization that these feelings were misplaced, and God obviously did something to work a change. Since we're all pretty in tune with the anger side, why not just say what was it that was finally able to reach you? What changed to bring you around from anger and dissappointment?

shlogdotcom [9:46:01 AM]: I'm not sure I'm completely "around" yet. Honestly, I go through phases where the imperfection of other Christians/churches upsets me to an unhealthy degree. But what began to turn me around back in college and what turns me around today is the same thing: a mirror. I'm not trying to be cute here. The only way I can describe it is that something always happens to wake me up to my own shortcomings and to how I can be part of the solution. Then I inevitably spend less time and brain space being part of the critical choir and more time being constructive...

thecachinnator [9:47:13 AM]: Did you notice a Pied Piper effect? When you got your eyes on what you were supposed to be doing, did others come along?

thecachinnator [9:47:27 AM]: Does that matter?

shlogdotcom [9:48:53 AM]: We found other people to involve in our work at the MCH. We hooked up with non-college students in the community who helped out tremendouosly. I started giving more of my time, off the clock, to fill in some holes as well. And suddenly I was too busy to be angry and I guess that satisfaction level showed somehow so when I left for Nashville almost two years later there were interested friends who took over my work there. Who knows? Maybe there are still Baylor students working there who were friends of those friends' friends...

shlogdotcom [9:49:13 AM]: Does it matter?

thecachinnator [9:50:08 AM]: I mean, does it matter if anyone follows or joins in? Or is doing what you are called to sufficient?

shlogdotcom [9:51:50 AM]: It matters to me that I don't turn people away from service or from anything else noble with my bad attitude. That matters. I'm not sure a good attitude on my part can really ATTRACT busy college students to a childrens' home. All I can do to attract folks to service is remind them that they were made for it. I think something inside many of us then wonders if that's true, and some of us check it out and discover it us. We are made to know God and then make God known - partly by loving people in tangible ways. Does that answer the question?

thecachinnator [9:55:39 AM]: Absolutely. Now this moves towards a question I've wanted to ask. I think we both agree that God clearly wants us to minister to and serve others. This is not a 'works vs. grace' discussion, (though I'd love to have it some time), it is simply to say that when we are called by God to identify with him, we can't be content to let suffering, injustice, oppression, and the like go on around us without taking part to change it. What do you think?

shlogdotcom [10:00:13 AM]: Let me zoom in on one word you just used: content. I've been teaching on and singing about the beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12) for the last...geez, almost two years I guess. I don't know. I have no concept of time. But a long time. And I've done that because learning about these eight blessings turned my own lightbulb on - I realized that the Christianity I grew up on only took me to blessing number three: surrender (meekness). I realized I was a sinner (poor in spirit) and I didn't gloss over that or medicate it away. I realized it was a grievous thing to be busted inside (those who mourn). And so I walked down an aisle, filled out a 3X5 card and "surrendered" my life to Jesus right? (Meekness)...

thecachinnator [10:01:09 AM]: Trucks and hell. Got it.

shlogdotcom [10:04:39 AM]: But if the beatitudes are a broad stroke picture of the Christian life, the essentials, and I think they are, there are FIVE MORE to ponder and somehow apply. After surrender (meekness) we "hunger and thirst for righteousness."(beatitude 4) Ezekiel said God gives us a new heart that is actually moved towards obedience: right living and right thinking. And so the kicker is that a Christian now has a craving that only right living and thinking can satisfy. If she goes back to a consumption driven lifestyle, a romance driven lifestyle or an anything else driven lifestyle she'll be discontent. She'll feel like something's missing even though she knows she's "surrendered" her life to Jesus. Faith without works is dead - and it feels that way too. I've never been more miserable than I was between high school and the Childrens' Home - I had no idea what I was missing. I had no idea how to take away the dry mouth in my soul. Man, that sounds cheesy.

shlogdotcom [10:04:46 AM]: Do you get what I'm saying though?

shlogdotcom [10:06:04 AM]: I think mercy showing (beatitude 5), meeting the needs of people, is an essential part of what right living looks like - righteousness.

thecachinnator [10:08:15 AM]: Believe me, I absolutely follow you. I was just having a conversation with a friend last night in which we were discussing how God takes you just as you are, but thank God (uhhh...literally), he doesn't leave you that way. But this change process requires us to be introspective and look in our own mirrors. This is a surprisingly difficult task for a generation raised with Oprah and TLC supposedly helping us examine our lives to be better people.

thecachinnator [10:08:41 AM]: We have a few ‘interesting’ things here in Waco that take up an inordinate amount of our time. (I’m not equating any of these things, just saying they all may take up more time than they should.) Things such as Sing, Cotton Palace Pageant, Baylor football (kidding), Greek life, etc. How do we enact the kind of introspection needed to shift our focus more outward?

shlogdotcom [10:13:29 AM]: Becoming attached to, serving in and being served by, learning from and teaching into that community called Church. That's part of it I think. Then there's the mirror, not of my own intellect but of God's: scripture. James, isn't it James?, wrote that if we're wise we'll look into the mirror and then not forget what we saw there but instead go off and do something about it. We become active responsive learners. That's another part of it. These aren't new fancy four step plans. I'm no genius with a new way to mobilize millions, including myself, to live like we believe this Jesus guy was really who He said He was. The answers I have aren't sexy. They are ancient and simple yet difficult to apply, costly to apply, and unsettlingly mysterious. I'm not sure I can pop the hood on Church or scripture and show you exactly how they work. I can guess. But really all I know is they work for me, in me.

thecachinnator [10:15:39 AM]: Ah, but don't the four-step logical answers always feel the driest and least effective?

shlogdotcom [10:20:19 AM]: Not always. For years they felt comforting. And, honestly, they contain truth often times. The error, I think, isn't in the formation of steps and plans but limiting the possibilities and power of our middle eastern God to the container of our Western made consructs. I can use the steps and plans to great effectiveness but God may choose to renovate and affect me in broader mysterious never imagined unexplainable ways too. The way to a good marriage, for example, probably isn't completely contained in four steps beginning with "P" but those four steps may be PART of the more ambiguous and harder to define "way".

shlogdotcom [10:21:50 AM]: In that sense those steps are part of the over all "effectiveness" of God.

thecachinnator [10:21:20 AM]: Great stuff. You're coming back to Waco next week. What do you want to tell Baylor?

shlogdotcom [10:24:30 AM]: I'm coming. That's really all at this point. I'm coming to make music for you and hang with you afterwards. I'm coming to listen if you need me to and talk if you want me to. I'm coming to be with you for a few hours and hopefully we'll both walk away from my visit somehow different. I've been where you are to some degree so I'm looking forward to going back there and being able to speak and sing for people I already feel like I understand somewhat. There's no new culture to learn. I'm coming home.

thecachinnator [10:25:56 AM]: Awesome. Let's wrap here for now. When we come back to this conversation later in the week, let's talk about some of the specific organizations and people who have made a difference to you. Things like the MCH, Compassion, ONE, etc. Sound good?

shlogdotcom [10:26:36 AM]: Alrighty then. Sounds good.

4/17/2006

HUMAN NATURE 101 FOR REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRATS

Rush Limbaugh doesn’t get it. Neither does Al Franken. George W. and Bill Clinton are seemingly just as clueless.

I was raised by Republicans. My father volunteered for Vietnam and my great uncle, the four star general, presided over the draft during that conflict from his office at the Pentagon. I was taught that the military is always too small, unions are always evil, government is always too big, anyone can succeed if they work hard, everyone has a God given right to own an automatic weapon, murderers should be killed and rapists should be raped, and that tax cuts are always good because if the American people have more they’ll share more.

My wife was raised by Democrats. At least one of her parents was against Vietnam. Her relatives were preachers and vegetarians and early recyclers. She was taught that the military is always too big, unions are good, government needs to do more to help people succeed in America, no one needs an automatic weapon unless they’re up to no good, murderers should be locked up for life and rapists should be rehabilitated, taxes should be raised on the wealthy so the poor can have housing and groceries and health care.

Our parents may have been wrong. Not in their politics but in their understanding of human nature - if their politics had roots that deep.

Republicans and Democrats, if they’re serious enough about their philosophy, truly believe most human beings can be trusted. Most people are inherently good. It seems that way at least doesn’t it? Each party trusts most people – just not the same people.

Republicans trust corporations, the rich, the middle class, the gun owner, the soldier. Most folks, they must figure, are in these categories and they can be trusted to do the right thing. The few – the poor and the criminal, for instance, can’t. So stay out of most people’s way, their rule might read, and let most people keep most of their money and most people will take care of the few people who need most of the help.

And Democrats trust the hungry, the poor, the unemployed, the uneducated, the middleclass, the union worker, the career politician, and the elderly. And most folks, they figure, are in one of these groups – or will be someday – and can be trusted to do the right thing. The few – the wealthy business owner, for instance, can’t. So legislate and fund most people’s way when they need it and let most people benefit from the prosperity of the few and before long we’ll all be equal...mostly.

Both wrong. No one can be trusted.

Guns go off daily in passionate rages. Welfare benefits are exchanged for drug money. Enron taught us the rich don’t always look out for the little guy. And The Methodist Children’s Home in Waco taught me the little guy, no matter how much assistance he’s given, sometimes chooses poverty and pleasure and the life he's always known over even his own kids.

This is because none of us are born naturally trustworthy, kind, generous people. No, inside every human is the potential for every kind of evil. We’re born with the seeds of it buried in us. Some have those seeds fertilized by wealth and opulence and others by poverty and racism. But it’s there in all of us. Depravity is a pernicious weed climbing the walls of every heart. A philosophy of governance or religion blind to that fact is not dealing in reality.

But there was a wiser ruler born two thousand years ago that both parties in our system have neglected to follow well. Jesus taught a kingdom that begins in the heart (Luke 17:19-21), where the seeds of corruption sprout.

When He died on a Roman cross, descended into Hell, and walked out of his tomb seventy-two hours later he ushered in a new kingdom on earth without flags or politicians. It is a kingdom set up by God installing a throne beside the one evil rules from.

He does not remove our old heart, what the bible sometimes calls our “flesh” or “old nature”, all the ill habits and twisted thought processes ingrained in us from birth. Instead he places right beside it, under it actually, in a deeper place, a new "heart" or will, mind and emotions. A Christian then is a walking civil war. Inside her remains the old way of living and being. But offsetting the old her is the new her: the desire and ability to think, choose and feel perfectly.

Let me shift analogies away from agriculture to technology - that thing you're reading from right now. Imagine a person as a computer. Inside that computer is a hard drive with certain operating instructions coded into it. Let’s say it runs Windows. Those instructions are something like “When X then do Y and then crash half the time.” And so every time X happens the computer naturally, because of it’s programming, does Y and often crashes. God then switches to the Mac OS. (Come on, you know God uses an Apple – He’s a creative type.) But instead of erasing the hard drive before installing the new operating system, he just installs it beside the old one.

This is no ordinary computer. It can run two operating systems at once – BUT it has to have a default system chosen. It has to know which one you’ll see and use first when you boot up each day, which one is primary for you. So God goes into the system preferences and unchecks the old. It’s not running things anymore. And he checks the new. It’s in charge now. It’s the default.

I’m the same way now. I have new emotions, will and mind and they are my core, my default setting. My old way of thinking, willing and feeling is there if I choose to use it but at my core, no matter what bad choices I make, my primary coding is new. My old code - bound to one operating system - has been replaced by a new one. (1 Corinthians 5:17)

Paul laments in Romans 7 that even he got angry with himself and wondered out loud why he didn’t do the things he knew he was supposed to do (the new nature) and did the things he knew he shouldn’t be doing (old nature).

And Republicans and Democrats – and I so many times – don’t get this. Or we don't act as if we do. We create programs and expectations for human beings as if most of us are born somehow running an operating system called benevolence or selflessness or self-control. And we just aren’t. None of us are unless Jesus saves us, straps us to his work bench and installs a new set of instructions that make us hunger and thirst for righteousness (Matthew 5:6) and move us to obey His commands (Ezekiel 36:27.

So much attention is paid to our being saved by Jesus from the punishment of hell in the future that I wonder if we've too quickly forgotten our being saved from thinking, choosing and feeling like hell today. Only God can remind us of who we are now as Christians: new creations, part old, primarily new. Only Jesus saves us from the rule of our old heart and gives us a fresh one, and with it new possibilities.

Jesus saves.

Related posts:
LIKE JESUS SAVES YOU KNOW?
TRUCKS AND HELL

4/16/2006

TRUCKS AND HELL

I sat spellbound and immensely entertained as the balding preacher spasmed and spat the Gospel at us for over an hour. Most weeks I sat comfortably in church like any other carefree six year-old, playing with crayons or folding bulletins into paper airplanes. Our regular pastor lulled me to sleep under the canopy of my father’s arm stretched over and behind my head and laid across the top of the pew. But this was not our regular happy pastor. This was his friend, angry pastor, the heavy artillery brought in for a week’s worth of revival services.

And he blasted away.

He wore a light blue three-piece suit that showed his white socks underneath if he stomped out from behind the pulpit, which he did often while his balding head shone like a spotlight into our souls. In his right hand he waved a black brick of a bible the size of my six year-old body. I could feel the breeze from the thing from my seat half way back in the crowd. His right fist he balled up like a gavel and struck against the pulpit again and again like a judge, punctuating every sentence with canon-blast booms of flesh against oak.

After wearing himself out he finally hollered an invitation like none other I’d heard before. “WHEN YOU LEAVE CHURCH THIS MORNING! YOU! COULD GET HIT! BY A TRUCK! A TRUCK!!” he spewed. “AND IF YOU DON’T KNOW JEEEEESUS THAT TRUCK’S GONNA SEND YOU STRAIGHT TO HELL! STRAIGHT! TO! HELL! WHO WANTS JESUS?!”

I had no idea church parking lots could be so perilous. I leapt from my seat and ran down the aisle, filled out a three by five card with one of those tiny pencils made for golfers and six year-olds, and I wrote alI I could think to write, “I NEED JESUS!” And for the next fifty-seven stanzas of Just As I Am and I Surrender All I just kept adding exclamation marks as if to make the point clearer, “I’M NOT JOKING, I’M SCARED OF TRUCKS, I"M SCARED OF HELL, PLEASE HELP ME!”

And when the music finally stopped the sweaty revival preacher took my card from me and read it to the crowd saying, “This young man has joined the family of God today.” And Amens and MmmHmms washed over me, soothing away my fear of trucks and hell. He invited everyone to come meet me afterwards and welcome me into the family. Eighty and ninety year-old grandmothers, about fifty of them it seemed, stroked my hands and squeezed my cheeks and kissed me, which scared me almost as much as trucks and Hell. And then my family took me to Western Sizzler.

I had a steak.

I got saved.

I got saved the way so many of us in America do. I came to Jesus to get out of Hell, to avoid being squashed by demonic forms of transportation and sent to the bad place where I'd be forced to wear drab clothing and chains for all of eternity. I repeated a prayer after a pastor and "invited Jesus into my heart" and asked him to be my "personal Lord and savior" - my personal bodyguard saving me from harm and hell.

I had no idea that what I should fear the most, what Jesus saved me from first, was neither trucks nor hell but me.

The thing Jesus wanted his Jewish audience gathered on a hillside two-thousand years ago to understand first about His brand of salvation had little to do with hell and nothing to do with trucks. "Blessed are the poor in spirit," Jesus announced.

“God loves you and has a plan for your life” the tracts left on urinals sometimes read. And that is true: God loves us no matter how messed up we are. But what Jesus wants us to understand first is just how messed up we are. Poor in spirit.

Jesus saves first and foremost not from external dangers but from internal demise. He saves first not from future torment but from today's depravity. He saves me first not from trucks and hell but from myself.

When that naked couple back in Eden had fruit for dessert in hopes of becoming like God they messed us all up; they bent the human core’s DNA so that every one of their offspring since has been born with a defect of the worst kind (Ecclesiastes 7:20, Psalm 53:1-3).

Our intellect is darkened (Romans 1:21). Our emotions can’t be trusted to steer us right (Titus 3:3). Our will is selfish (Isaiah 53:6, Romans 3:10-12)

No, we're not all chilling human heads in our freezers like Dahmer or gassing thousands like Hitler but all of us, usually around age two I think, begin producing outward evidence of our internal birth defect. Sometimes our busted insides don't display noticeable symptoms that make headlines. But even when there isn't an obvious specific infraction to point to and label “sin” we still sense a general taintedness in everything our human hands get a finger on don't we? Two year olds yell, "Mine!" Governments war. Cameras film child pornography. Talent warps perspective and boosts egos. Enterprise contaminates the environment and tramples the weak. Beauty snubs the ugly. Caretakers abuse. And all this while our bodies decay, become diseased, grow weak and incapacitated.

Everything is busted. And we must know it somehow. We must recognize this to some extent. We just don’t realize, perhaps, the scope of the problem. We don’t understand we’re so hung over from Eden that we’re helpless to fix our brokenness. We’re drunks fumbling with our keys trying to open the gates to utopia again.

And on and on we fumble. Generation after generation. We toil on an earth capable of growing enough food to fill every stomach, yet starvation has never died. It barely wanes. We hold enough wealth in the West to clothe and educate the entire globe, yet children beg naked and unable to write or read. There are enough adults in the world to put orphanages out of business, yet millions grow up with no one to call Daddy. We have enough spy satellites, schools of political science, ethicists, diplomats, armaments and historical data to bring peace to the nations, yet in four thousand years of recorded history only four hundred have been remotely warless. And my nation, America, has been at war somewhere in the world since World War I in pursuit of peace.

Much of our intellect, good intentions, talent, money, fame and strategy have been put to the task of ridding the world of all need and malice since the day Adam left the garden eons ago. Yet none of these tools have successfully built paradise on earth, not even a square mile of it. And no tool in the future ever will – not if it’s wielded by human hands guided by the urges of the defective human core.

No politician, petition, or program will ever stop the contamination seeping from the human heart across the breadth of geography of history. Nothing can penetrate our flesh and repair the wound itself: our corrupted middle.

Only Jesus saves. He saves us from the natural disaster of sin within the human heart. He provides the only hope of healing with one act of sacrifice two thousand years ago outside Jerusalem's gates (Romans 5:12-15). Jesus saves from the thing more menacing than trucks waiting outside and hell up ahead. He saves from the source of all that has gone wrong and is going wrong everywhere and with everyone: misguided emotions, corrupt minds and selfish wills.

Jesus saves.

4/14/2006

LIKE JESUS SAVES YOU KNOW?

Spray paint preachers scrawl it on overpasses. Faith-filled farmers erect makeshift billboards advertising it. Hippies sang it. Homeless guys add it to their cardboard pleas. Atheists hope it isn’t true.

Jesus saves.

What does that mean – really?

I never asked this question until I moved to Nashville. At the time, back in 1997, a survey claimed there to be over 2500 protestant churches in the music city. In the nine years since then I’ve been asked by four pastors to help them start NEW churches. This might be the one place in America wit more churches than Starbucks, Walgreens and Walmarts combined.

Every waiter, plumber and produce stocker goes to church – probably my church. I get “witnessed” to by Seventh Day Adventists in the airport. I read tracts left on urinals at Chili’s. I stare amazed at the reductionist theology screen-printed on t-shirts at the local LifeWay store – and more amazed at the number of people wearing them around here. I can listen to at least five Christian radio stations here if I want to, visit the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, tour at least three denominational headquarters, attend a bible study or church service in any neighborhood and on any night of the week and I could go months without having to interact at all with someone who does not share my belief that Jesus saves.

It’s a holy ghetto.

And here in the ghetto, surrounded by so many like-faithed folks, I get the privilege and horror of hearing my own beliefs spoken back to me many times a day. Sometimes hearing my own thoughts on God articulated by others here makes me question those beliefs. When I first heard “Jesus Saves” spoken in the ghetto, for instance, I was surprised at how incomplete it struck me as being - how meaningless it was.

Something similar happened with the words "you know" and ""like" years ago. In college I made liberal use of those little words. You know, I was like always saying like you know and like...you know? Never thought twice about it. But one day I backed into teaching a group of high school students and was suddenly surrounded by a cacophony of "like, you know"s. Hearing THEM talk like ME, you know, changed the way I talked - made me realize how short those words fell of communicating anything meaningful.

That's what happened with “Jesus saves.” It’s everywhere - if not the exact words, then the sentiment. The usefulness of such short worded theology is assumed. The meaning is thought to be obvious and the application believed to be graspable by all. But do those two words and all the other bumper-sticker sized faith bites I’ve spouted my whole life really say what I’d like to? More importantly do they say what God came to? Are they really as meaningful, useful and life-altering as we think?

For the next couple days – maybe more – I’m hoping to make time to write about these two words. I’m writing from God’s ghetto where these words are as conspicuous as wallpaper. And all of us, in Nashville or not, are experiencing Easter – again, for the umpteenth year – and possibly under whelmed by it all. I’m hoping expanding “Jesus Saves” to a few hundred words here at SHLOG.COM will make these words more meaningful and the season come alive for us somehow.

If not, free peeps for everyone.

4/13/2006

EAVESDROPPING: WACO'S CACHINNATOR AND ME PART 1

The Cachinnator, aka Scott Baker, runs the Hippodrome Theatre in Waco, Texas where I'll be performing in a couple weeks. Between now and then he'll be interviewing me via Yahoo Messenger about whatever strikes his fancy - so far why I'm coming to Waco and what my life there as a student from '94-'97 was like.

We talked before the interview began, a couple days ago, about my experiences at Baylor University in Waco: playing at University Baptist Church with David Crowder (now a rock star/worship leader/hair growing machine), learning from and working with Louie Giglio (now a famed speaker and founder of One Day events and the Passion CDs), playing Hootie songs at church, and working at the Methodist Childrens Home.

Then we sat down this morning for the first part of our "interview." I took a break from mowing the yard to sit on my couch, sip some Dr. Pepper (caffeine free) and talk. Here's what was said:



thecachinnator [offline 9:36:56 AM]: Good morning, Shaun!

shlogdotcom [9:57:25 AM]: Sorry I'm late.

thecachinnator [9:58:11 AM]: Don't worry about it! I imagine my mornings are a bit easier to predict than yours. I only have puppies to worry about.

shlogdotcom [9:58:12 AM]: I was mowing the yard and caught up in the existential pleasure that can be...yea right

shlogdotcom [9:58:33 AM]: Puppies are just kids with fur...and worse smelling poop

shlogdotcom [9:58:41 AM]: Fire away

thecachinnator [9:59:54 AM]: Yessssss.... well, I have a lot of the background information covered, so let's jut gloss over a bit of it before digging in, shall we?

shlogdotcom [10:00:17 AM]: Alrighty then

thecachinnator [10:02:39 AM]: Now, this may sound like a strange statement, but your roots in Waco may be the kind of thing that people look back to as the start of something much bigger than it seems. Giglio, Crowder, UBC, Hootie..., well maybe not that last one..., I mean, each individual thing has grown beyond its roots into a different and viable ministry of its own rights. Am I off?

shlogdotcom [10:10:24 AM]: No, you're not off at all. Giglio taught me what "worship" was - a response to God and not only a song. I've built on that and tried to weave my growing understanding of this in-fashion word "worship" into my music and teaching at ikon. Crowder's music early on (and today to a lesser degree) was unlike any other congregational music out there - that I'd heard anyway. Now Christian music is bit more progressive. When I was in school Crowder was the most progressive church music I’d ever heard. And this inspired me, along with early Jars of Clay stuff, to write well with less regard for making music like everyone is making. He's an excellent musician that Crowder, who I'm sure has inspired lots of other people in the same way. I hope I've followed through with making music that leans away from the crowd fearlessly at times. UBC taught me that passion is not enough - we need multiple generations working together. No one model has all the answers. We need the entire Church, all generations, to inform what we do and how we see and communicate God. We learned that the hard way together and I'd like to think I've carried this awareness that we need each other into what I do today. Hootie? Well, playing Hootie songs definitely taught me that fame is fleeting - it's a vapor - and cool is a meaningless shape-shifting word that isn't worth chasing. What one generation of college students calls cool and makes famous will be called crap and made fun of by the next....

shlogdotcom [10:12:42 AM]: But the Childrens Home changed me most. And I still take those kids' faces with me on stage every night. The hope is that somehow someone in the crowd every night will be dragged kicking and screaming past religion and into a life of mercy showing. And the hope is...

shlogdotcom [10:15:22 AM]: that they'll like it there, want to stay, want to bring others with them, and that the kicking and screaming will turn into the kind of satisfaction I've expereinced there. I don't have selfless living down yet - probably never will - but what I've tasted of it, starting back at the Childrens Home in Waco, I'd really like to bring with me wherever I sing or teach.

shlogdotcom [10:15:34 AM]: I'm done rambling now
thecachinnator [10:18:49 AM]: Yes, the Children's Home. This is an interesting highlight for you to mention. Not because it seems unlike you or anything, but simply because as a professional musician, one might expect that Giglio, Crowder, or heck, even Hootie, might have had a stronger influence on you. And yet, what you seem to be saying is that at its heart, "Christian" music needs to come from a deeper place than the right chords and the right beats. What I mean is that to be the kind of spiritual and worshipful leader that you need to be to fight through 'real' ministry, you have to be connected to something so beyond yourself that you can truly be the conduit through which God works. These are the kinds of things I hear when I hear you talk about the Methodist Children's Home.

thecachinnator [10:20:59 AM]: Am I putting words in your mouth? Or is it accurate to say that the kind of change that you experienced while serving those who could never offer anything in return, who aren't likely album-buyers, and who desperately, desperately need your offering and your presence more than anything else in the world is the kind of experience that leaves you with few other options than a life that is never again content to skim the surface?

shlogdotcom [10:21:21 AM]: I wouldn't be able to put it so poetically - "conduit" and all - but, yes, I guess that's what I'm realizing the older I get, the more ground covered. I can look back now on my life and see that so much of what has left me better than I was came from unlikely places...

shlogdotcom [10:21:33 AM]: The Childrens Home is a great example of that...

shlogdotcom [10:24:38 AM]: I went there because I saw a flyer in the Baptist Student Center at Baylor saying they needed a worship leader - a music guy. I thought it paid so I applied, eager to escape hotdog hell at Sam's Wholesale. It didn't pay but I was too spineless to quit. So I stayed. And I went from being a keyboard player supporting the music director to being the music director and finally to teaching. By then I was getting paid but I was staying for entirely different reasons. Finding those kids was very much like finding my wife - they made me better. I liked who i was and what God did through me when I was with them.

thecachinnator [10:25:45 AM]: So the MCH was overrun with volunteers from Baylor right? All eager to be serve and be forever changed by living out the Gospel?

shlogdotcom [10:30:49 AM]: Well, that's where cynicism blind sided me. I spent a good part of middle school and high school angry at God and God's people for not taking care of me and my family when we wondered how we were going to eat and keep the lights on. I just got over all that and "grew up" enough to believe God and trust church folks and - BAM!! - the Childrens Home came into my life. Two things hit me suddenly: In all my years griping about not being helped by God or God's people I had done NOTHING myself for people who needed my help - and the Childrens home was the first time I had personally invested hours and talent in someone who could give me nothing in return. Secondly, I realized that Baylor - at the time - was as apathetic and self-centered as I had previously been. but instead of cutting fellow students some slack and saying to myself, "Hey, you were that way once and hey, buddy, you're still not through growing up yourself, you know" -
shlogdotcom [10:31:17 AM]: well, instead of being understanding and merciful and seeing myself in their apathy I got ticked...really , really ticked...

shlogdotcom [10:33:28 AM]: See, I was starting a non-Greek Sing thing - sort of like the Sing Alliance a guy started a few years after me. I want students who were talented but not rich enough to be Greeks to come together and put on a killer sing act. So I had flyers all over campus asking people to join me in a Sing act AND, at the same time, I had flyers up asking people to read to kids at the MCH, play ball with them, sit in a pew by them at our services, volunteer just a few hours every week...

shlogdotcom [10:34:46 AM]: I got ZERO calls about helping at the MCH and almost a hundred about Sing. I didn't know how to handle that so I got angry. I didn't do a Sing act and I stopped asking Baylor students for help at the MCH. That's one of my biggest regrets in life. I gave up on them when God didn't give up on me - when I was apathetic.
shlogdotcom [10:36:00 AM]: In a way, coming back to Baylor soon is a second chance for me. It's another flyer for another generation.

thecachinnator [10:39:05 AM]: Well this seems like a great place to wrap the first part of this interview. I dare say that you won't be alone among Baylor grads and students who have experienced similar frustration. But what should our response be? While our responses may be far less than perfect, it doesn't diminish a real and honest problem. So how do we react? And what are the biggest challenges facing Baylor and young Christians there today? Let's talk about these things in a few days!

shlogdotcom [10:39:47 AM]: See you then.



So there's part one of our conversation. More to come.

I'll be in Waco, Texas on April 24th. I'll be in Baylor University's chapel service at 10AM and at Scott's Hippdrome Theatre downtown at 7PM. I may hit some music or religion classes during the day too. Tickets to the Hippodrome Show are $10. Call 254.752.7745 for more info.

4/12/2006

MORE THAN WORDS

"I was censored," I laughed when a friend asked me last night, "What happened?"

This friend happened to be reading SHLOG.COM in the hour and ten minutes that a lengthy post about Gospel Music Week in Nashville was up for viewing. An hour and ten minutes after it went live Rocketown's publicist, also a friend of mine whose opinion I sometimes ask for and respect, said it came across as "whiny", "arrogant" and "hypocritical".

Ouch.

I pulled it immediately, knowing that I wasn't writing from a whiny place, was not feeling particularly arrogant, and believing wholeheartedly that I was not a hypocrite. I've been all those things, rarely all at once, but I wasn't when I wrote the post in question.

I pulled it. And I got asked why.

I trust my publicist. She's never steered me wrong before. And even though SHLOG.COM was paid for by me and is maintained by me and not my label or friends, their opinions matter. So I pulled the post and it's been saved as a draft ever since, waiting revision or deletion.

I value her criticism in part just because she gave it. Most people kiss my butt, not by telling me I'm great but by not telling when I'm not. There's a real shortage of people in a soft rock star's life who'll shoot straight with him. She does. And she shoots hard. Hard enough to convince me others would have had similar thoughts on the post even if they'd never tell me.

So the post is gone. And it should be.

The problem is that in that post's hour and ten minute little life span it was read by Third Day's touring posse, discussed on their bus, batted about friends' and fans' offices, printed out in a publishing company cubicle, passed around homes and dorm rooms and linked to twelve times. Twelve times! That has got to be record. And of those I've talked with who did the linking, batting and reading none of them had negative things to say about it or me. They got it, or said they did, laughed hard and got the bigger point I intended to make. No mention of whininess, arrogance or hypocrisy.

How can this be? How can it be that so many people saw this one post so differently - one group finding "inspiration" and something to "laugh my #$$ off" about and others (for surely my publicist would not have been alone) wishing it had never been written.

Perspective.

I'm realizing more and more, the older and grayer I get, that truth is a squirrelly wriggly thing. Perception really is reality on many matters. And what affects perception more than perspective - where you're sitting, where you sat? It can alter the colors on a canvas, the shape of the human form painted upon it. It can make objects seem larger than they are and turn sentences prickly that were penned with humor or stoicism.

Perspective.

And this is what I loathe about blogs, about e-mails and books. Perspective is king, bias rules, when words stand alone without the extra definitions faces and bodies and tone bring them in real human conversation. Printed words stripped of eyebrows and flailing hands, or slumped shoulders and puffed out chests, of red face or tear streaked cheeks - they're too shape-shifting, too malleable, too left to the interpretation of the reader. And they can therefore easily offend or provoke when they want to merely describe. They can bore when they were born to shout scandal.

Wordsmiths of course - authors, poets, some song-writers and, yes, publicists - assume sometimes that everyone uses words as well as they do. They assume - I assume, and maybe we all do at times - that the meaning we hauled away from a paragraph was precisely what it's writer intended. That would be nice: everyone able to communicate to all people exactly what they intend at all times. Truth is though that very few of us these days, in a world swirling with shorthanded e-mails and Instant Messages coming and going like trains to and from Grand Central Station really craft anything written any more. We settle for short I-know-what-I-meant-to-say-and-so-will-they communication.

And few of us truly read anymore either. Not skimming. Not skating across a paragraph that's too long to bother with. READING. Savoring every word. Putting ourselves in the author's shoes. Thinking critically. Feeling what the writer felt. Reading again.

And again.

I don't take the time to read thoroughly or write clearly often enough.

And that's dangerous. I'm finding out. It's dangerous because of perspective. Our dictionaries differ, influenced by our past and present living. Our affections, our hates, our geography and upbringing, our faith, race, economics and education all color our interpretation of every word we read, with nothing else but the words themselves up for interpretation. No tone. No place and time. No expression. Just words easily recast by every reader into a new meaning.

And it's only getting worse. Read any good blogs lately? Really? When's the last time you saved an e-mail because it was such a masterpiece? No. We're lazy. Or maybe not lazy - maybe we're just in a hurry. We're thinking fast, writing fast, and deciding fast what someone else who thinks fast and writes fast meant when they wrote what they did.

We need to slow down. I need to slow down. As "community" moves on-line, coffee houses are replaced by chat rooms, churches are replaced by video streams and message boards, I'm afraid we'll miss something - miss each other - in translation.

Can anything ever really replace me looking into your eyes, watching your lips and your hands, speaking words brimming with inflection caught by your amazingly sensitive ears? Can anything?

Until something does, I'm being more careful. And I'm listening to friends when they say I "came across" as something I'm not. And I'm slowing down.

I'm thinking.

Writing.

Reading.

Revising.

Reading and revising some more.

And more and more I'm deciding to turn the computer off and just talk to people the old fashioned way. With more than words.

LIVE FROM THE LAST EYEWITNESS: NASHVILLE

This is the poorest imaginable audio quality BUT it's here anyway. My cell phone + audioblogger.com = live audioblogging from The Last eyewitness tour last night in Nashville. Enjoy...if you can.

Robbie Seay Band: Here Is Our King
this is an audio post - click to play


Robbie Seay Band: Halelujah God Is Near
this is an audio post - click to play


Robbie Seay Band: Come Ye Sinners
this is an audio post - click to play


Chris Seay interviewed by the People’s Church Pastor Rick White:
this is an audio post - click to play


Chris Seay speaks:
this is an audio post - click to play


Chris Seay still speaking:
this is an audio post - click to play


Waterdeep:
this is an audio post - click to play

4/11/2006

TONIGHT: THE LAST EYEWITNESS



WHAT: Retelling of the story of Jesus through film, music, painting and words

WHERE: The People's Church, Franklin TN (Go here for directions) In the main Worship Center/Sanctuary

WHEN: Tonight, 7PM

COST: FREE!!

WHO: Rob Pepper (painter), Chris Seay (Author/Communicator), members of Waterdeep (music), Robbie Seay Band (music)

For more info call 615.566.3232 - For directions by phone call 615.794.2812

4/10/2006

MIKE RIMMER ON THE POINT

Mike Rimmer conducted my second ever interview way back in 2001...or was it 2000? The point is we've known each other a long time. He is by far the most antagonistic interviewer and the most most fun I've ever worked with. Antagonistic in the sense that he often follows up easy answers with harder questions to provoke me to think beyond the usual paths. Fun in that his honesty and sarcasm are entertaining - and the accent doesn't hurt either.

See, when you're in a room at GM Week (Gospel Music Week in Nashville) being interviewed fifteen times a day for a few days in a row you tend to fall into a rut, answer in a ritualistic way, get bored and boring, and Mike is the best in the business at turning the interview routine into a surprise-filled sometimes difficult conversation that makes me question my sanity one minute and laugh out loud the next but always leaves me feeling as if it was time well spent.

Mike pastors a group very much like ikon back home in England so we have much in common and talk often about how to teach and what we learn while doing it. He dyes his hair a different color each year at GMA Week - this year was red - so we have a love of hair care products in common as well. And he likes to talk theology. We have that in common as well I guess.

(Sarcasm alert) Imagine that: questions about my faith and view of God at Gospel Music Week. (This is rarer than one might think.) He isn't interested in what's in my CD player or what animal I'd choose to be if I were in a zoo (real questions I swear). He wants to have a conversation about how God has affected me, the way I think, the way I live, the way I write and see the world. And he wants to question every answer. He's a master at interviewing in a way that makes me think.

This year at GM Week I turned the tables on him. As he packed up his microphone cable and brought our conversation to a close I opened it back up by asking what HE would write and sing about if he were in my shoes. What would HIS point be for making "Christian music?" Here's his answer.

Play Mike Rimmer clip


More audio from GM Week to come.

THIS WEEK AT IKON: THE LAST EYEWITNESS

The apostle John was the last living disciple of Jesus' - the last eyewitness to the story and man that changed the course of civilization, that still fills church pews around the world, feeds hungry bellies, clothes naked bodies and brings peace and completion to the conflicted and busted. He wrote his recollections of Jesus down in his "Gospel." Tomorrow night at The People's Church in Franklin, TN ikon presents John's words to the Nashville community through words by author/communicator Chris Seay, painter Rob Pepper, musicians Robbie Seay Band and Waterdeep and film. John's words and his portrait of Jesus come to live tomorrow night at 7. Admission is FREE and open to all ages from anywhere drivable. Ikon has brought this touring company of story tellers to town tomorrow night but THE EVENT IS OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.

Let me reiterate for those used to coming to ikon at 8pm in the ikon room at the people's church. Ikon will meet with the rest of the public coming to see The Last Eyewitness in the sanctuary of the people's church at 7pm. We'll get back to our regular time and place next week.

The Last Eyewitness has already been well received at Axis in Chicago, Tyndale College in Toronto and elsewhere. This is a rare opportunity to hear the story of Jesus in a new language - the language of film, art and music.

See you there.

4/07/2006

FROM THE RUNWAY

this is an audio post - click to play

4/03/2006

CATHOLIC GETS KICKED AND SO DO I

"I don't listen to Christian music or anything but that kicked ass," she said.

"Thank you."

I want to thank her right now and everyone else at St. Norbert College who came to my show tonight, leave this post at that and hit "publish." But I can't. I know my readers too well. They're a lot like me. And I know I'll be telling everyone at ikon tomorrow night that we can't do anything - no matter how funny to us, no matter how harmless to us, no matter how trivial to us - if we know it would confuse any other fellow Christian trying to discern virtue from vice. So I have to explain why I used that tiny word now. I have to make this post more boring to me by adding words on top of words in hopes that this post inspires us to ponder more than it plants confusion and births attacks.

There's no appendix in the back of my bible listing the "bad" words. Is there one in yours? God never wrote such a list. I know this. But once I didn't. I used to keep a list of my own. You may have a list too. You may have used the words on that list before you believed the story of Jesus to be true and you may now associate those words with that old pre-faith life of yours. And you may be shocked, even sickened and angered, at my using them because of that, because they belong to that old life and not the new life you and I have in common because of our shared faith. Those words trip you now. Even a three letter one.

Tonight I used a word on your list when quoting a girl from tonight's show because the word was humorous and profound all at once - for me. See, I'm used to playing at "Christian" colleges and universities where church going people like me sit calmly in their seats and seem at times to be tolerating my faith more than celebrating it along with me. I'm grateful for the opportunities I have weekly to be on these campuses but honestly the passion isn't too palpable much of the time - nor is it all that evident in my own expression and words off stage. And maybe that's fine. Maybe faith isn't supposed to be something that veers us out of control, that's always written on our face, that jerks us from our staid posture and undermines our attempts at acceptable eloquence.

I don't know. But I know I appreciated hearing something different from that girl's mouth tonight: A student who doesn't like things labeled "Christian", who didn't know better than to say "ass" to me - a minister, who didn't care what I thought of her or how she sounded to my ears, who was overwhelmed and out of control with excitement and gratitude for what was to her a life changing evening - what to so many others is just a song and sermon.

God did something to her or in her or for her and she didn't have more pleasant palatable pious words to describe the encounter and didn't want to take the time to find them. She was bursting with thrill. She was honest. She was herself. And the least of her worries was whether these words of hers were "good" or "bad" or on our lists.

Which makes me wonder if sometimes we worry about whether everyone else in our club is staying inside the "good" lines, minding our lists, because we haven't encountered the God who gives us bigger things to look at. I know that's true for me at least.

I want to be kicked - to be moved beyond caring how I come across, to be moved beyond words. And I almost was tonight. But then I remembered I have a responsibility to care how Christ comes across to you, to weigh my words so they don't cause confusion, to put your faith above my exuberance and freedom. I remembered 1 Corinthians 8.

Practicing what I preach sure sucks. Can I say "sucks?"

TENNESSEE BAPTIST CHILDREN'S HOME RUN4KIDS KICK OFF

BRENTWOOD, Tenn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--March 30, 2006--Contemporary Christian Recording Artist and multiple Dove Award Nominee Shaun Groves will serve as the Luncheon Host for the 4th annual Run4Kids 5K Race kick-off luncheon on Tuesday, April 4 at 11:30 a.m. Groves, who will also serve as the Race Ambassador for the May 20 "Run4Kids" 5K Race, will speak and perform at the luncheon. The luncheon will take place at the Tennessee Baptist Children's Homes', Inc. (TBCH) Brentwood Campus, 1310 Franklin Road in the Greg Activities Building.

The kick-off luncheon is held annually for participating churches that organize and support the Run4Kids Race. Area churches who want to participate in the May 20 Run4Kids Race may attend the luncheon next week by contacting Jodi Glover, 2006 Media Volunteer, at 460-5630 to reserve a spot. The church with the largest number of participants on race day will win a trophy and "bragging rights" for an entire year.

In its fourth year to benefit the children and youth of the TBCH Brentwood campus, the May 20 Run4Kids event offers a 5K race/walk for adults, a Kids' 1 Mile Race and a Kids' 100 yard dash.

The Run4Kids 5K Race is held annually to raise awareness of the TBCH campus in Brentwood. Jenny and Ross Stevenson, who volunteered last year to organize the children's activities the day of the Run, are a perfect example of the impact this event has on people's lives. Through their involvement with the Run4Kids they came to know more about the TBCH, its mission, and the impact this organization has in the lives of at-risk youth in Tennessee. They are now "relief house parents" with their own cottage on the Brentwood campus.

Runners may register to participate on line at tbch4kids.org or pick up a registration form at ACME Multisports in Goodlettsville. Early registration is $15 before May 6, or $20 the day of the race.

The TBCH provides care and housing on its Brentwood campus for 39 children and youth in 8 cottages that are home to 6 children and youth each. Part of a statewide network of care, the Brentwood campus is also the State Office of TBCH. While offering care to at-risk children and youth from every background, the TBCH accepts no government funding and receives 100% of its support from charitable gifts and fund raising events such as the Run4Kids. All of the proceeds from the May 20 event will go to support the children and youth of the Brentwood campus of TBCH.

For more information please call 1-866-KIDSRUN or visit tbch.org .


Contact:
Tennessee Baptist Children's Homes
2006 Media Volunteer
Jodi Glover, 615-460-5630
gloverj@belmont.edu


[PRESS RELEASE AUTHORED BY TENNESSEE BAPTIST CHILDREN'S HOMES]

IKON THIS WEEK 4.4.06: ABOUT FOOD OFFERED TO IDOLS


At ikon we're still teaching through Paul's letter to the new Christians in the city of Corinth (1 Corinthians) in our series titled, "A LETTER TO SIN CITY." And we're in the middle of some weird stuff we really don't deal with today: food for sale at the supermarket that was just blessed by a god we don't believe in. I've never once stood in the check out line wondering if I should or shouldn't put that pork chop back in the freezer section because it was sacrificed to a golden cow god just days before. Never.

But what chapter eight, the chapter we're talking about this week, does talk about that I have much experience with are the twin sisters legalism and license. One sits on a shoulder pounding her fist and yelling, "DON'T LISTEN TO THOSE PEOPLE MAKING RULES FOR YOU LIKE THEY'RE GOD! THEY CAN'T TELL YOU WHAT TO DO! YOU HAVE EVERY RIGHT TO..." And the other sits nervous on my other shoulder, her notebook open, her pen writing feverishly every rule I must keep, checking each one off as I do. Her voice is quieter and shaky but relentless - "And don't do that either, that's dangerous - might offend somebody. What if Jesus came back while you were in that place doing you know what?"

So which voice do we listen to? How do we decide when rules are to be heeded or tossed aside altogether? Shoot, how do we even know what the rules are? Seems like everybody - especially Christians - have a few more to add to our already long list. If you're in the Nashville area and you see the world in stark black and white you might get a little irritated this week at ikon - but you're welcomed anyway. If you see no black and white anywhere you'll also have reason to squirm - but you're welcomed to. I'll squirm with you both as we have our ideas of right, wrong, love and community reshaped - and discover whether we should eat food offered to idols. You know, in case that ever comes up at the HEB or Publix in the future.