Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Pop of Culture

I guess it is just part of my quirky personality or something, but something in me doesn't like the popular. I remember back in 7th grade I was listening to Rush (the rock group not the radio guy) and I loved it. None of my friends knew them, and then a few months later I saw the rush t-shirts showing up at school and just like that...I moved on. (I actually still listen to Rush now, but back then they were shelved). But I can think of several other things that this is not true in my life (I'm a huge u2 fan...with millions of other people...oh well)...back to the point.

I am tired of politics, global warming and the war in Iraq. They are all tied together, and they are all popular topics. I think the later is what I hate about them most. I really didn't like Clinton as a president. Not because of his views, or what he did or didn't do. It's because he put his finger in the air to see what way the wind was blowing, and then ran to get in front of the wind....this was his style of leadership. I still remember reading an article that he talked about how important it was to keep public opinion pollsters busy and employed in the white house. Is this the leader I want? Is Bush any different? After 911 we all wanted to see the government do find the killers and anyone associated with them. So Bush jumped into Afghanistan and then Iraq. In his situation, how much can a president do? If you find out your children are beaten and bruised by someone in a house down the street, you go to the house and find the culprit. And I think he (like Clinton) thought he was doing what was best. I'm not a huge conspiracy I will leave all that for someone else. But now pop. Democrats want out of the war. IS that because of "moral duty" or just the opportunity to show up Bush even more? The war already won them congress. Why not take it all the way to the white house?

My problem is that it doesn't really appear that anyone is asking the right questions. It is popular right now to say the war is bad. More republicans are joining that sentiment (they're not completely stupid to realize there is always an election coming). I just read to articles that quoted middle east experts (not from the US) that if the US gets out of iraq now, it will create larger problems in the future than we have now. The answer is not just to leave iraq. They can all blame bush for getting us into this mess, but just up and leaving the mess is not a solution. They voted to support Bush in the first place (I know...he duped them with WMDs...see other blogs for that discussion). They can't just say no, now.

It is similar to global warming. It is not that I do not believe the globe is in a warming trend. I just don't believe the same reasons as Al Gore. But it is so popular to follow his line of reason and calamity forecasts in the future, that even in writing that I do not believe his ideas, I am against the environment and am not green. I have watched Inconvenient truth and also the BBC documentary debunking Gore. I have read articles. I am also aware that when I was little (back when I was listening to RUSH) the world was going to freeze over unless we figured out a way to increase CO2. That was only 30 years ago. The temps dropped from 1940 to 1975. And now they are climbing.

So what is my point. The point is that the problem with following the popular, is that it does not take into account a larger few. It is myopic in nature. It is the here and now. The globe has been warming and cooling for thousands if not millions of years. Wars have been won and lost for just about as long. How can we judge Iraq after such a short period of time? How can leaders make decisions about what is popular at this moment. The popular gives us American Idols, Bud light, and McDonalds. Is these the same that we should look to to lead us? I want leaders that are not afraid to do what is unpopular, if it is the right thing to do. But then, there is the problem...what is the right thing to do?

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Where do I see God?

So I am at church right now. I am not kidding. I am actually leading the "service" as I write. See church meets at my house. Every week we share a meal and a bottle of wine together and then discuss a topic, depending on who is leading. Tonight is my turn to lead. So I asked everyone to spend the next 15 to 20 minutes writing a blog entry on where they see God in their life?

Why would I ask a question like that. It seems that too often we fail to use use that see the spiritual. Most people think to much about activity, or work, or the material world and too little about what exists in the spiritual world. I am not even sure it is a good idea to split them up and make them seperate worlds, but that is another subject and debate left to philosophers.

So where do I see God? That is difficult, even for the question asker. It seems that he is often in my conscious. He is the voice that says something is right or wrong. Or is that him or just some upbringing? I think I have often relegated God to ethics or morals. I need something bigger than that. I think I see God in the beauty and tragedy in the lives around me. I see him in art and along the side walk. I see him in desire and hope. I think it is cliche, but it is true. I think when I am longing for something I see him most. So I do my best not to attempt to placate the longing, or kill the longing. But let it lead me to see his face.

It is a good day to discuss the spirtual and material world. For the police are reuniting tonight at the grammy's. Maybe we are spirits in the material world. (Ok cheezy, but I couldn't pass it up.


Friday, January 19, 2007

Why is the past still here?

"We may be through with the past, but the past ain't through with us." from the film Magnolia (1999)

Recently a friend emailed me and a few others something that brought us to a place in our past. It has been over twenty years since we experienced these things. Some view what happened as good and helpful, while others feel it created great harm. It is funny how people can have completely different experiences from the same events. There is anger, humor, sadness, and sarcasm, and the fear that those who brought this to us are reading this right now and shaking their heads and feel sad for how far I have "fallen" off the path.

Recently I was talking with a friend that told me he, at one time, felt called to be a pastor. From the outside he is far from that endeavor. He told me he went to a Christian College and got kicked out because he looked different than most everyone there (long hair, etc...this was around 10 years ago). He got this look on his face..."I still hear that voice back there in the back of my mind." He has a haunting from his past that will not let him go.

We all have truly painful things that happened to us, some are more tragic than others. Some have a hard time facing the day because of an event that took place 30 years ago. Why will the past not just move on? Why will the past not just let go?

Why is the past not done with us?

Some would say to let go of the past. To not dwell on it and give power to it. Focus on the now, or the future. Maybe that would be helpful. But what if the past was trying to tell us something about now, or the future? What if it is the doorway to our desires and the things our heart cries out for? What does your past tell you? In the case of my friends, I think it says that we truly want to experience God, the God we came to believe in, without all the bullshit and dependence on myself to make that happen. That God is bigger than a daily quiet time, and scripture memory. That he enters into our story in a much larger way than through "discipline". That his spirit is active and dangerous and is moving in our lives. That it truly is supernatural.

I don't know about my "Called to be a pastor friend", he will have to answer that question himself. It may not be the answer for all of our pain from the past, but does it hurt to ask? When we feel contempt for the past, should we ask, "What is it about that event, that makes me so angry? Why?" What does it tell you about what was taken from you? What does it reveal about what your heart desires? Maybe we could walk down this path with some friends along. That is what the friends mentioned above and I have done for a number of years now. I think we are experiencing something greater. We are seeing desire revealed and embraced. Sure we still get angry or sad about those days, but those are just steps on the path to revealing more of our hearts.

I guess I'm not done with the past after all.


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

church like wine

I was sitting in this great little french restaurant with my wife in Oklahoma City of all places (Soliel...try is very good). I was sipping a burgundy from france and just enjoying the flavors and complexity when I had a thought. There was a time that I did not like wine, especially red. I grew up catholic and on sundays I would take communion and I always hated the taste of the wine (or perhaps it was the taste of Jesus' it had transubstantiated by the time I tasted it). But over the last ten years I have come to really enjoy and even have a love for red wine. It is funny because as I sipped I remembered those sips as a child, and my thoughts turned to church.

I thought how the catholic church had been a round a long time and had very complex beliefs, history and ecclesiology (a fancy word for how they do church...I went to seminary can you tell??) I still go to with my mom to church on occasion. I think I can appreciate the catholic church more now than I did back then. So this whole idea got me thinking about church. It seems as I look around evangelicalism (the place I called home for many years) there is a lot of bud light being served and drank in churches these days. And you know there are times that a bud light hits the spot (although I have to admit I can't think of the last time I wanted one). But it seems that most churches around me, and actually evangelicals as a whole, have lightened everything so much, they are not endanger of getting drunk on the spirit any time soon. There is no mystery, no wonder. "We have the bible, it has all the sit right back and take a sip...we will explain it all to you." A bud light requires nothing of you.

So where does that leave far as church goes I have no idea, but I do know there is a brewery in town that makes an ESB. It is carmel in color and starts of bready sweet but finishes with a hoppy bitter finish. It is my favorite right now. I guess the church I want is a microbrew. but don't be fooled...Blue Moon is a popular microbrew...brewed by coors. Soon we will see all the big churches serving, or at least trying to serve microbrews...maybe that's it...everything just got to big for me. I want a place to live out the simple life of malts, yeast, hops and water.

I'm heading to the pub...


Thursday, December 21, 2006

Stained Glass Windows

Last night I was watching a broadcast of U2's Vertigo tour stop in Milan. During the show Bono mentioned they were recording this concert for a DVD, "but then you know a lot about films, Italy created the first movies." I thought, "Bono, wrong information. France actually (I think) was the location of early film." Bono continued, "Stained Glass Windows were the first films, and the (he named some cathedral down the road) was the first cinema. Light projected through a frame." Wow, he was right. I know people have issues with Bono, but I just love his insight. I am a huge film fan and hope to someday make films (I just found out a short film I made was accepted in the Omaha Film Festival!!!). Stained glass windows were created in churches to tell the stories of faith to the illiterate believers. Stories from the Bible, of saints, etc. The images would educate and hopefully inspire. They were the first film, some documentary in nature, and others based on true events (or so it was believed).

Thus is my dilemma in film-making. I have a faith, a strong faith (although some would not agree and that makes me happier than you know). But how do I include that in film making? I do not want to be a "Christian" film maker. I do not even want to be called "Christian" much anymore. First of all it has to do with the word Christian and not about the faith or ideals that are central to the Christian faith. It just seems to me that when people use the word Christian, it is more of a moral designation than a faith designation. If some one says, "He is a Christian man..." that usually means he is good and is not necessarily connected to his faith. I have met some atheists, who were far more "good" than some Christians I have met.

Second of all a Christian film-maker is too much of a label to overcome. Christian music is not really competitive in the musical world. It sells a lot, because Christians like music and most are not allowed to buy music from the secular world (you could invite the devil in your house, just because of the drum beat...for instance...this was actually taught at a conference). A friend (the watchman...check out is blog at and I have a joke "If you like Green Day you'll love...fill in the blank with some Christian "punk" band". This is from stickers you will find on Christian music and Christian book stores. So I do not want to have a DVD of my movie at the Christian bookstore with a sticker that reads..."if you like Love'll love this Christian Bullshit that isn't really even close to as good as movie, but morally you better choose this or you might lose your soul and lead your family to destruction and desolation."

Stained Glass and the original cinema kind of had a corner on the market. Back in the Holy Roman Empire days, the church was pretty much everything. You had a captive audience. You controlled distribution. And yet if you have taken time to look at stained glass, it is some of the most beautiful art of its day. And if you have a chance to sit and see the sun gleam through a stained glass window and see the colors stream across the faces of those kneeled in prayer or mediation, it is transcendent.

So this is my task, to tell stories that inspire, that give hope, but that do not sell out or that become Christian propaganda. I am excited to see where this road leads me. I am actually excited to stop by a few churches in town with huge stained glass windows and just spend some time mediating and praying and thinking of stories that are much bigger than I am, and yet I find myself a part of...


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Band-Aid, TO, and that kid from that one show

What are Hootie and the Blowfish up to? What about Joey Lawerence? Or Joey from Friends for that matter? The other day the 80's charitable Band-Aid song "Do They Know It's Christmas" was playing on the radio (if you do not know about it, it came out in 84 or so, and was a collaboration of top recording artists, primarily british, that wanted to bring awareness to the famine in Ethiopia). The list of groups and individuals was huge, and these were all at the top of charts. Duran Duran, Boy George and Culture Club, Wham!, Big Country, Bananarama, Spandau Ballet, Heaven 17. I remember watching the video. This was huge. And as I listen to the song it amazes me how quickly stardom was gone for a majority of these singers and bands. There are a few names that remain, Bono and Adam Clayton, Sting, David Bowie, and Paul McCartney to name a few (Phil Collins remains, but in some sort of Karma induced purgatory...). Did these stars know there days were numbered. or was this just their chance for impact? You always hear of the 15 minutes of fame, but maybe it is 15 minutes of impact.

So what does TO have to do with band-aid and child actors. Terrell Owens was at the top of his game in San Francisco. He was a huge star and was commanding the price of one of the leagues top players. I noticed that he is just not what he used to be. And then I was watching a friends rerun the other night and saw the cast, and thought of TO. Or tune into Sienfeld, is TO George Costanza. Will Jason Alexander really ever be seen as anything other than George, no matter what role he plays? He got his shot and his shot was George. Chandler Bing is who Matthew Perry is to us, and he can play a TV writer in a new show, but all we see is chandler. Is TO the kid from the TV show that we wonder what happened to, only to turn up in a police station? Is TO a one hit wonder. Did he misuse his 15 minutes?

So what does that have to do with me, or us? I wonder sometimes if I missed my 15 mintues, did I get my shot and let it go? Did I already sing my one line in a song for charity and that was the top of what I will see. I can think of some incredible things I have been a part of, was that it? Will I get a chance for something greater? And then If I am able to somehow someway be a part of something giant, will it leave as quickly as it came, and then find myself dwelling on the good old days.

I write this in a small office in the basement of a small insignificant building. But reaching for something greater. Reaching to create impact and change. That is my offering. I'm not looking for 15 minutes...I am looking for impact.


Tuesday, December 12, 2006


I would have written sooner, but as fate would have it, I did not know which username or password I used for the blog. If you're like me you have ten to fifteen different user names and the same number of passwords. Also for the record, if you do not know which username and password you used for which thing, it makes it hard for the username "finder" to help as well. Who knows how many people just recieved an email stating that someone was just attempting to log on to their blog.

This was just to let you know I will be (or attempting to be) more consistent and also to let you know I wrote down the name and password to the blog (it is in the third drawer in the file cabinet in a folder marked "spiritual gift tests"...don't ask...I figured an empty folder would work). But now that you know, I am counting on you to remind me the next time I forget it.