Monday, October 29, 2007

Pop Culture Quote Monday

I feel God in this Chili's tonight.

Who said it and what's it from?

... I should really make these harder.

Dang it! Say it with me everyone "_____ ______ _____ _____."

Blue Like Jazz

I read this book a long time ago and I've noticed the world seems to be catching on. Lots of people I know are talking about it... and that's an interesting thing to me.

What do I love about this book? It's honesty. It's relatability. (Okay.. that's not a word. But you know what I mean.) Miller wasn't trying to break any new ground with this book, but what he did do is make it okay to talk about Christianity again, and helped make it easy to talk about Jesus with people who've been burned by Christians. That's a big deal in our culture today.

There are some questionable things (theology-wise) in this book, and every book I've ever read has that. It's a very quick read, but it's a book you want to absorb. This is not a airplane-ride book. This is a "read it before you go to bed and pick it up the next day over your lunch hour" kind of book. You want to read more, but you want to savor it at the same time. It's like a good Riesling, right Steph T?

What I liked the most about this book was that it made me realize I'm not alone in my craziness, or my questioning.

And that's just alright with me.

There is something quite beautiful about the Grand Canyon at night. There is something quite beautiful about a billion stars held steady by a God who knows what he is doing. (They hang there, the stars, like notes on a page of music, free-form verse, silent mysteries swirling in the blue like jazz.) And as I lay there, it occurred to me that God is up there somewhere. Of course, I had always know he was, but this time I felt it, I realized it, the way a person realizes they are hungry or thirsty. The knowledge of God seeped out of my brain and into my heart. I imagined him looking down on this earth, half-angry because his beloved mankind cheated on him, had committed adultery, and yet hopelessly in love with her, drunk with love for for her.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Giving Credit Where Credit's Due

Those of you who know me know how much I hate Wal-Mart. The hate began as nothing more than a disgust for a dirty store that always had too many people in it, until the abhorrent foreign labor practices and destruction of small-town America began. So I haven't shopped there for years.

That said, I must give credit where it is due. And what I'm about to tell you in no way erases what they've done.

One of the guitarists I lead worship with recently fell from some scaffolding at his job. It caused major damage to his scalp, a crushed ankle and a broken leg. His injuries are significant and required more than one surgery. He is in very rough shape. His wife is a shift supervisor at the Wal-Mart in my town. Due to his accident, Wal-Mart gave her a year off to take care of him. With pay.

While I know that a year's salary for someone in her position is a drop in the bucket for a corporation like Wal-Mart, that made me happy.

I will still never shop there. But... I must give credit where credit is due.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Pop Culture Quote Monday

The guys at work have this thing with me - they are always quoting something, usually movies, to get me to guess where the quote is from. Today the quote was from The Jerk, which I didn't know and it killed me.

And all day I had Elton John's Tiny Dancer in my head. All day. (I really love that song.) Then I sang it the wrong way...

Hold me close young Tony Danza

Thus was born a new idea: Pop Culture Quote Monday.

So, readers, what are the wrong lyrics from and who said it?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Competitive Reality Show Heaven

Regular readers may remember what a fan I am of Iron Chef America. I love the over-the-top attitude the show relishes in. I laugh out loud, am fascinated and weirded-out every time I watch it. Never having seen the original Iron Chef I don't know if the American version stands up, but that doesn't matter to me - for now I am in American reality show heaven.

As a lover of competitive reality shows like Project Runway, Top Chef and The Amazing Race (which I haven't seen in two years since my CBS strike. *tiny sniffle*) I was giddy with anticipation last week with the premiere of what? You guessed it. The Next Iron Chef.

Last week they sent home Traci Des Jardin, not only one of the few women ever on ICA but actually a winner against Mario Batali, who has am impressive 15-4 record. I felt she was sent home too soon. This week, there was fun with chemicals and the awesome Wylie Dufresne. Giddy again.

So far my favorites are Aaron Sanchez and John Besh, probably because I've seen both their original battles on ICA and both impressed the pants out of me. Besh won against Batali, while Sanchez tied with Morimoto, one of the original Iron Chefs in Japan.

I adore Top Chef, but this show puts it to shame. These chefs are obviously some of the best in America and to watch them go head-to-head amidst the strange challenges (make a desert with squid? Really?) is a pleasure.

The addition of Alton Brown does hurt, either.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Hold Me Jesus

Last night on my way to rehearsal I heard a remake of an old classic on the radio.

Well, sometimes my life
Just don't make sense at all
When the mountains look so big
And my faith just seems so small

So hold me Jesus, 'cause I'm shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won't You be my Prince of Peace

And I wake up in the night and feel the dark
It's so hot inside my soul
I swear there must be blisters on my heart

So hold me Jesus, 'cause I'm shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won't You be my Prince of Peace

Surrender don't come natural to me
I'd rather fight You for something
I don't really want
Than to take what You give that I need
And I've beat my head against so many walls
Now I'm falling down, I'm falling on my knees

And this Salvation Army band
Is playing this hymn
And Your grace rings out so deep
It makes my resistance seem so thin

So hold me Jesus, 'cause I'm shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won't You be my Prince of Peace

... and I was overwhelmed with emotion.

Not really because of the song. While it's lovely and the remake (by Big Daddy Weave) is very good, it brought back a memory of something from many, many years ago. My friend Andy sang this when we were in Envoy together, and I laughed at how he used to mess the lyrics up "I'd rather fight for you something I don't really want..." doesn't make near as much sense, and we had a good time making fun of him for that.

As the song played memory after memory replayed in my mind while I remembered how he was the person I knew the least at the beginning of Envoy's formation, and he eventfully became the person with which I identified the most. We are both farm kids, both in 4-H, we both have very sick senses of humor, and well as ridiculously loud laughs. I even remember him saying to me months after Envoy ended, "If I'd known you were this cool, I would've spent more time with you last summer."

But what overwhelmed me was remembering the transformation he went through the summer we toured together and the months after. I watched him grow into the man of God he is now, and as I long to be transformed I find myself shaking like a leaf. For I am scared, I am different, and I am not who I was. I worry that it's both a bad and good thing. And I don't know what to think about that.

Andy handled his transformation with a lot of love and grace, and with a lot of laughs. I only hope I can learn from that.

He and his wife are now in Africa, serving as missionaries with AIM. I miss them both, but especially Andy. That song will never be the same for me. Even with the wrong lyrics.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

An Example of Community

I have one grandparent still living, my maternal grandmother. Her husband died when I was a sophomore in high school and since his death, she has lived alone.

She'll be 92 in December. And she still lives on her own. Wow.

I have occasion to worry about her. She's had some serious health problems, especially in the last 6-8 years, mainly with bleeding ulcers. She had a scare yesterday. My mom took her to the doctor and she doing fairly well after the medication they put her on. My parents will be in Branson for the rest of the week, so I called my grandmother tonight to check on her.

"Well, hi." She said. "What are you up to?"

"Just calling to make sure you have my work and cell numbers in case you need me this week."

My aunt was there helping her pick the last of the sour gherkins she had on the vines trailing up her chain link fence. She sounded a little out of breath, but excited. "Do you want to come over for dinner? I've got a peach pie in the oven." Well, that was a no-brainer, so I made the short 20-mile trip over to the small town of Axtell to see them, and have homemade vegetable soup and homemade peach pie.

I was there for a couple of hours, and by 9pm I realized something amazing. My grandmother has a huge community of people who love her and look out for her.

The phone rang four times while I was there - all neighbors calling to check on her. I heard her say over and over again "I feel much better today." I couldn't help but remember an old scene from Grey's Anatomy, where the main character had an elderly patient who was DNR, and she watched the woman die surrounded by friends. She then cried at the thought her own mother would die alone.

I thought most of my grandmother's neighbors and friends died. She is always attending funerals, and she rarely mentions these people in her life. But there they were - I witnessed it all tonight. Just a handful of people who called to make sure she was safe and well.

"...everything in this world tries to pull us away from community, pushes up to choose ourselves over others, to choose independence over interdependence, to choose great things over small things, to choose going fast alone over going far together. The simple way is not the easy way." -Shane Claiborne Irresistible Revolution

Why has our culture made it so hard to exist in community together?

It's probably a mixture of fear and distrust for those around us. But will we learn to live well without each other? Or, will we learn that it is much better to live caring for others above yourself?

"To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it up carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket - safe, dark, motionless, airless - it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable... The only place outside of Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers... of love is hell."
- C.S. Lewis