Real community.

Today we had our 12th meeting as Mosaic and for the first time I was truly amazed by what happened. This was the first week I really felt like we started to become a community. Over the past 11 weeks I have struggled to find the reason why we are doing this. I have lost vision and have become quite apathetic to getting things ready. Discussions were planned at 11:30 on Sunday, worship was thrown together and prayer was completely out of the picture. I was becoming burnt out, yet was not really doing that much. It was just a part of the destructive cycle that I was on.

But, for the first time since we started, I had everything prepared by Saturday. Worship was picked out and the words were printed, the downstairs was clean, my discussion was planned, and dinner was figured out. It was pretty great. I woke up, played Eternal Sonata and went out to lunch with my wife. It was easy, it was relaxing, and it was just what I needed. There was no panicked cleaning or frustration over not having something done. Just a relaxing morning. We got home, and Thomas was here. I love hanging out with Thomas. He is just an awesome person to have a conversation with or to sit around and write folky music with. Slowly people showed up, including my cousins, whom I missed last week. We ate dinner and enjoyed the beautiful weather. We played some unplanned but beautiful music and then came discussion.

I spoke my heart about where I want discussion to go. I hope it did not come off as a lecture, because I truly meant for it not to be that way. I just wanted to make clear what I felt discussion could be and how we could get there. I came up with three simple guidlines that I truly believe will make discussion flower into something truly life shaking. They were: be humble, be mature, and be open. Through these I really believe we can do amazing things with our discussion.

Then came the first critique. This is something I very much believe will keep Mosaic on the right track. I wanted to hear, from the people involved, what they felt were our strengths and weaknesses. We talked of some of the things people felt were needed. It was good, honest and will definitely help us to grow as a community. We moved into the discussion for the night and talked through the Jars songs I posted a while back. We prayed and moved into late night hang out time, which was amazing. Never before have I seen the connection we had tonight. People talking, laughing, venting, and discussing all sorts of fun things. I started to see the community come together.

I realized something, if I am not putting my full effort into this, it will fail. If I am not working, praying, and preparing with all my heart, this will never grow. But, when you get excited and put your all into something, people want to follow along. You start to focus on the vision G-d gave you and you realize that this is something that could be truly life changing, and you would hate to be the one who stops it. I realize just how much I need to do, and how much more needs to be done for this to become the vision G-d has for it. Mosaic, let us rise up together as a true community and work to be the true Eucharist, the body of Christ.

Turn that shit up.

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Spirals

I have a problem. My problem is that I get depressed when I don’t get things done. It normally starts with laziness, or maybe some self-destructive habit, but what ends up happening is I will spend a day doing nothing constructive. Then, I will get depressed about not doing anything constructive. This causes me to not do anything. Anyone see the progression? Anyone see the spiral? This happens to me from time to time. It hurts those who I love and I end up not accomplishing the things that matter. It affects my ministry, it affects my marriage, and it affects my relationship with G-d. I have been in one of these spirals since about two months after going to Australia. I came home from Australia with a new outlook on life . An outlook that realized that I have so little time and so much life I can be living in that time.  I realized that it is not where I am but how I am living that matters. Then slowly the pattern started to emerge. I would not do anything, and then get upset about not doing anything. Then Allison would notice me not doing anything and I would get defensive about not doing anything, which would turn to excuses and truth stretching, which would turn into lies, which would make me hate myself even more.

Now, I had my good days. I would have good periods, but it was all just temporary. I would still feel the same, it would just be that there would be some obligation or a momentary desire to have my wife be afectionate. In the end it all boiled down to selfishness. I was selfish and didn’t want to overextend or even extend for that matter.

But something in the warm weather, dark nights, and late night street conversations changed that. After a wonderful conversation with my close friend Khalil, a late night drive searching for lightning, and then a beautifully warm day I realized how stupid I have been. Hopefully it lasts. As Allison put it today, “hopefully that (the old lazy me) becomes the weird me.” I am sick of being that person. I am sick of not pulling my weight and pulling those around me down. I am sick of being so lazy that I am hurting those that I am supposed to be helping with my ministry. I am sick of hurting G-d through my inability to do what I ought.

I am off that spiral. I hesitate to say things will be different. I have said this before, about many different things. I just hope that I can hold on to this. To stay focused and actually work to being more selfless.

tears.

It feels good to cry. I have been listening to the new Jars of Clay cd a lot recently. They are one of my favorite bands and their new CD is great. I have had my favorites on the album and one of those was Boys (Lesson One). Now, when I listen to an album, it takes me a long while to pay attention to the lyrics. I am so focused on the musicality that I normally miss a lot of the lyrics until I have listened many times. I finally paid attention to the lyrics to this one and burst out in tears. Now, I know that this has a lot to do with parents and children, but I felt like the boy who is being talked to by his Eternal Father. It really hit me, in a good way.
Lesson one, do not hide.
Lesson two, there are right ways to fight
and if you have questions we can talk through the night

So you know who you are and you know what you want
I’ve been where you’re going, and it’s not that far
it’s too far to walk, but you don’t have to run
you get there in time

Lesson three, you’re not alone
But since I saw you start breathing on your own
You can leave, you can run
But this will still be your home

So you know who you are and you know what you want
I’ve been where you’re going, and it’s not that far
It’s too far to walk, but you don’t have to run
You get there in time, get there in time

In time, to wonder where the days have gone
In time, to be old enough to wish that you were young
When good things are unraveling, bad things come undone
If you ever love or loose your innocence

There will be liars and thieves who take from you
Not to undermine the consequence, but you are not what you
And when you need it most I have a 100 reasons why I love you

So you know who you are and you know what you want
I’ve been where you’re going, and it’s not that far
It’s too far to walk, but you don’t have to run
You get there in time

So you know who you are and you know what you want
I’ve been where you’re going, and it’s not that far
It’s too far to walk, but you don’t have to run
You get there in time, you get there in time

If you ever love or loose your innocence,
just remember….
Lesson one….

Lesson one indeed…

4-22-09 Ramblings.

I am working on a hefty post. It covers a lot of my thoughts over the past few months. Sorry it is taking so much time, there is just a lot behind it. It will be up soon, but give me time to finish it right and not rush it. As for me, I don’t really know how to answer that question with any sort of confidence. I am happy to be listening to the new Jars of Clay cd. I am excited about having an idea about what I want to talk about on sunday before saturday. My heart melted as I tucked my wife into bed and kissed her. I laugh as I watch my friend and roomate fight the same battle on the wii (SNES) again and again and again. I desire for a real conversation. I disapprove of some of my friends choices. I worry about others and their ability to self justify everything. I miss the people who I used to be close to but now barely talk to.  I fear next year, yet I am excited for taking  a real full time schedule on in school. I really like the new Jars of Clay CD. I don’t know what to think about the new As Cities Burn. I don’t know what to think about myself. I hate my apathy and my lack of ambition. I try to grow up and fail. I despise my failure. I can’t stand that I accept where I am. I am numb, yet I am hopeful. I can’t explain it. I can’t define it, but somehow I know the clouds will pass. I realize that it’s partially cloudy, not storming, yet I tend to focus on the clouds. Their diminishing presence still casts a depressing tone to all that I see. I have no reason to, the sun is practically shining again. Yet, I focus on the clouds. I start with reality, and turn to metaphor. I overdo it. I overdo everything. Or underdo it. Can never just do it. Why can’t I just do it?

I love that after a really serious and quiet end to the Jars CD, I told you i was freekie comes on.

Desperation and the voice of G-d…

Recently I came to  few realizations, the greatest of these being about what it takes to change someone. There are many out there who believe that people can’t change, that at the core we will always be the same person with the same vices and quirks and problems. There are those that choose to believe that change is simple, that by some magical wave of a wand, like prayer, there problems will just go away. I was in this camp for a long time. I felt that if I prayed hard enough, or had a good enough experience at the alter, somehow my life would just be different when I came back. That things wouldn’t bother me anymore. After not having that true experience so many times however, I started to realize that change did not come about this way. I started to believe that change couldn’t really happen, and that I was just who I was. That was, until the direness of my circumstances lead to a truly devastating time. Which brought me to a revelation: Change comes most naturally out of devastation and desperation. You are most likely to change when you are at a point of desperation and you have little else left. People who face death and come out alive are profoundly different, in a good way, afterwards. When you realize that your whole existence could be over as you know it you are compelled to change. I want to believe that people can change before reaching the bottom, but it seems to me that only the most meaningful change comes when you hit rock bottom and realize that there is no where left to go but up.

When you reach that point of desperation, something amazing happens. You start to really hear the voice of G-d. I can say with assurance that I have never heard G-d so loudly as I did in my moments of desperation. Perhaps it’s because you have nothing left to hold onto except him or it could be that when you hit the bottom you have few distractions. I wish it could be that it didn’t take such a hard fall for me to gain such intimacy with my G-d, but I am happy of what came of it. I find that when you ask G-d to chastise you, he will do it. It’s like he knows exactly what will get us back to Him. Maybe, pain and suffering aren’t as bad as some would say they are.

I end with a question:

How do you talk to G-d?

How do you hear his Voice?

Fuck you Pitchfork

I preface this with an apology for my absence. I have been lazy and I am sorry. If I still have any readers let it be known I am going to try my hardest to post more often again.

A long while ago, a young boy, sick of his collection of Slipknot and Steve Vai, set out on an adventure to find new music. He started by going to his friends and asking them about this new style, known to him as indie rock. As time progressed he realized the true potential to independents music and started to deeply broaden his musical repertoire to music that even those who began him on this journey had never heard of. He made it his goal to find as much music as possible. He now owns over 320 gigs worth of music and has friends frequently competing to find music he has never heard of. This young man, is me. Looking back, I realize how much my musical taste has changed. I find myself wishing I could say I got into Modest Mouse with “The Moon and Antarctica”, but know that it was “Good News for People who love bad news” that made me fall in love with the band. I realize that although I do not have time in some of these scenes that others have, and that I lose “indie cred” for listening to Bleed American before Clarity, but alas I started when I did, and hey, I still really like Clarity…

I give many thanks to those who started me on this journey: Jeff Graff, who introduced me to the alternative rock scene of the 90’s and beyond, including one of my favorite artists, Ben Folds. Kelly Childers, who brought me deep into the world of Subpop and Saddlecreek indie music. Sue Butler, for continuing to culture me in the was of Progressive music. Jeffrey James, and his continuing efforts to find me more and more odd music, and for introducing me to the world of post-rock. All the people on my network at NCU who lent their itunes libraries to me. To the countless nameless heroes who load bit-torrents and music blogs. To Paste magazine and the itunes store, for opening my eyes to endless possibilities.

Then comes one I would think to thank, Pitchfork Media. Described to me as the indie kids bible, I remember the days that I would look to Pitchfork for all the bands that would make me hip if I could just bite my tongue and stand to like them. I remember perusing their site for the highest reviewed albums and buying them, regardless of what I thought. I remember listening to them once and going, “what…the…hell.” but then talking highly of them to my friends. Yes, I know, I was quite pathetic, but I also was truly trying to be open.

But those days are long gone. I no longer hold the pompous garbage known as pitchfork in such high regard. Why, you might ask. Well, I will tell you why. I started to get suspicious when I started to come into my own and actually form my own opinions about music. I would find an album to be, “one of the best” only to find a harsh review filled with meaningless jargon and flowery rhetoric. I found time and time again, the albums I loved to be bashed by pretentious reviewers. Then, came the breaking point. The straw that broke the camels back. The thing that sent me over the edge into absolute hatred. I was searching for reviews of Ben Folds albums. Let me preface this by saying I liked both Songs for Silverman and Way to Normal and Songs for Silverman is my favorite of his solo albums. I knew that many fans, unlike me, were not fond of Songs for Silverman, and found Way to Normal to be a return to his old quirkiness. So, I decided to see what Pitchfork had to say about it. It was no surprise that they found Way to Normal to be sub-par, for it is just to juvenile for their posh musical pallets, but I was slightly shocked to see that Songs for Silverman did poorly as well. I thought that they would love a more mature sound from Ben, as I did. Then I decided, just for laughs, to see what kind of review they gave “The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner”, one of my favorite BFF albums. I was shocked to see that they gave it a 3.3 out of 10. Now, I know they can be harsh, but come on! That album was brilliant. Sadly, there is more. Not only did they rank that and many other amazing albums (the new Decemberists album and Anathallo) low but they had the audacity to give Kanye West’s new atrocity a 7.6! In the review they even dare to defend his absolute lack of talent and utter dependance on auto-tune. What’s worse is that every Kanye album got high marks topping with a shuddering 9.5 for Late Registration. I don’t know what Kanye is putting in the water to make people believe that there is substance in his music, but to even get Pitchfork Media, the snobbiest, most elite indie music website to give an artist that writes lines like “like cathy lee needs regis, thats how i need Jesus” a fucking 9.5???? How dare they give a masterpeice like Reinhold Messner a 3.3 and absolute trash like Kanye a 9.5… The last thing Kanye needs is a bigger ego, but somehow he wows people into praise. Oh dear god….he is the antichrist!!!!! No, he is not nearly smart enough. This is why I have lost hope in Pitchfork and do not thank them for a part in my musical enlightenment. I am definately no longer held by their chains and feel no desire to care what they thought about music, because obviously someone has torn their ear drums right out of their skulls.

“George Bush doesn’t care about black people.” -Kanye West (the voice of my generation????)