Saturday, December 31, 2005

My Beloved's Birthday

Today is Holly's 27th birthday. I love multiples of 9, so I think this will be an especially good year for her!

If you've time, email her a Happy Birthday message.

And to all of you, Happy New Year. May this new year be one of justice, peace, and love. And may we all take part in understanding our place in God's work of redemption throughout the world. Shalom!

Friday, December 30, 2005

The Other Side of Capitalism

Thanks to Emma for passing this first image to me...

Some others I found as well...

These images are interesting to consider while reading Arundhati Roy's The Checkbook and the Cruise Missile, which offers an Indian female's insight to Globalised Capitalism and it's effects on other parts of the world.

Also, a friend just passed this article to me. Always interesting to attempt to understand how systems work and see what we can do to change things or re-route our resources. More on that later...

Thursday, December 29, 2005

An End of the Year Quote

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.
- Annie Dillard

Been thinking a great deal about this quote. It has been probing my very soul...

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Some of Holly's New Pieces

Some of Holly's new paintings are up on her blog. Good stuff and worth your time to check out her stuff.

A sample...

These are paintings done along this leg of the pilgrimage. The leaves turned out to be examples of our own changing of colors. The trees are the second in a series of Wedding Blessings. The couple are some friends who left the city for the organic farm...and now are back in the city.

Just little windows into the trip for you...

Monday, December 26, 2005

Tsunami Anniversary

Today marks the anniversary of the 2005 Asian Tsunami. Wow. What a year. I remember sitting and watching the news last Christmas and saying to Holly, "We're going to go help out. They are our neighbors." Wow. What a year.

We're in Santa Cruz now with Holly's family. Lots to catch up on and relax from. More soon...

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Quick reflections on Florida while in Dallas getting ready to leave for Santa Cruz

I enjoyed our time in Florida for a few reasons: 1) It was a nice break from cold weather (although Holly was not a fan of this)... 2) It was good to see old and new friends... and 3) I got to see one of the most hilarious looking dogs I have ever seen...

Found this puppy with owner at a coffee house we were at for a bit near Orlando. I love that snaggle-tooth smile!

We had a very short time in Florida. A day near Orlando, a day or so in Bradenton, and a day in Tampa.

Bradenton was great because we got to meet some new friends. People who knew me from way back when (so to speak). Andrew is a fellow sojourner who asking some of the big questions we have been asking. It was good to hear their stories and get to know them a bit better.

After Bradenton, we headed up to Tampa for a day and night with Rick and Kristi Bennett. Great folks. Wonderful dog named Marley...

We know these guys through our yearly Emergent Gathering... well, we knew Rick that way, but up until this point, we had never met Kristi. It was great to finally meet his other half...

We played a wonderful house show... a great ending to this leg of our pilgrimage. Holly helped make these sugar-encrusted cranberries for the party...

And we got a picture with them the next morning just before we left...

I am constantly so grateful to God for the relationships that we have developed through our Emergent network of friends. Wow.

Now in Dallas, but leaving in a matter of minutes for CA... 2-3 day trip. We shall see.

Happy Holidays friends. Happy Winter Solstice. Happy Kwanza. Happy Hannukah. Happy Advent Season. Merry Christmas. Happy New Year. And other reasons to celebrate Dec 25th! :)

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Day 70-72: Florida

I'm keeping it brief right now because I am very tired, and we have to wake up early to get on the road to head to Dallas. About 1300 miles to get there in 2 days. No prob. But tired.

Lots to reflect on, but now is not the time.

This leg of our pilgrimage is drawing to an end. It's been beautiful, but it'll nice to have some downtime in the Bay area for a few weeks following the holidays.

More to come...

Friday, December 16, 2005

Update on CPT on Aljazeera

Just found this article thanks to Sojourners email.

According to an al Jazeera report Tuesday, their Web site has been flooded with messages of support for the four Christian Peacemaker Teams members who were abducted in Iraq on Nov. 26. Their report also quotes the grand mufti of Palestine, Shaikh Ikrima Sabri, as yet another prominent Muslim leader seeking the safe return of these Christian activists. "It is our duty to support them and to issue a vigorous appeal to the kidnappers to free them," Sabri said. Also, the Iraq Islamic party said in a statement, "The party calls on the captors to free them because their kidnapping is a dream opportunity for the supporters of the war against our country who say that Iraqis cannot tell the difference between those who support them and those who oppose them."

I hope that this is a time to help the world separate the actions of the State from the teachings of Jesus. That this war is a play of capitalistic domination and empire expansion and protecting the 'security' of an elite few...which has nothing to do with the teachings of Jesus.

Lord, have mercy.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

On Narnia

So Holly and I got to catch the new Narnia film a few days ago. It was entertaining and a much more compelling children's fantasy film than Harry Potter, but as Rick points out, it was no Lord of the Rings. And you couldn't help but compare the two because Narnia too was shot in New Zealand, the music sounded similar, and the war scenes were reminiscent.

But that's not really my point in this post.

Now certainly this is simply an allegory, not a person-for-person or event-for-event translation of Biblical texts, but you must know that the story is so full of Christian allusion from Aslan dying and raising again to him saying, "It is finished" to...well, you get the point.

It's been some time since I have read the Narnia series...perhaps 10 years even. I honestly did not remember the battle scenes as they were in the film, but my memory of them is not the point. My point is how evil was defeated and health and life restored to Narnia.

You see, in the Biblical narrative, Jesus (and Paul) commands his followers to overcome evil with good...or with love...and in the case of his life, Jesus himself overcomes evil by death. I think we stand at a fascinating time in history when many who claim his name think it's honorable to overcome evil by killing or violence or fear-making...overcoming evil with evil. And that's what this post is about.

As the battle scenes roared in the film, I saw the history (past and current) of the church...and I saw Aslan almost congratulate it in a way that I have yet to see Jesus do...and that made me sad and uncomfortable. These battle scenes waged on, endorsing violence and death to bring peace and life in Narnia...and it's simply not what is in the Gospels.

So perhaps this is a bit of an over-reaction, but perhaps it's not. We stand at a time when the American Empire is legitimized by a good deal of the Christian community, who is urging the government, "Use whatever it takes to bring about the peace...kill, slaughter, rape lands, destroy cultures, dominate until peace is accomplished and democracy implemented."

I think most people of Christian faith could stand to go back and meditate on the Sermon on the Mount and take a thoughtful look at what's going on in the world today.

I'll leave you with some of the Master's words...

"You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Day 68-69: Atlanta, GA

What a great time with the Bronsink family in Atlanta. Sad to leave. Time spent in great conversation about his experiences living in urban Atlanta (the city that was primed to be the capitol of the Confederacy, mind you) and it's challenges and beauties.

Our time there pretty much consisted of conversation, coffee, conversation, some music, food, and conversation. And a little sleep thrown in for good measure.

The last night we were there, Melvin (a new friend) came over and did an interview with Troy and Holly and I about the album and about our pilgrimage. It was nice to articulate some of the things we have been processing. The hope is to get it edited and ready for radio. Perhaps if it gets cleaned up soon, I'll post it up here for all you pod-casting folks.

So, we headed down to Florida today where we'll be until Sunday. Then we'll head back across the US to sort of conclude this leg of our pilgrimage. Still have a few things to do... working on some paintings still, gotta get new tires and an oil change, lots of work stuff to finish up before the Holidays.

Hope you're well. What a strange time. Advent. This hopeful expectation that next year will be different. That someone will intervene on our behalf. That life will come from winter's death. Still, everyone seems to be running around like madmen and murderers. Perhaps the air is ionized?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Christian Paradox

Thanks to Mike for this article.

A brief excerpt...

Here is a statistic that does matter: Three quarters of Americans believe the Bible teaches that God helps those who help themselves. That is, three out of four Americans believe that this uber-American idea, a notion at the core of our current individualist politics and culture, which was in fact uttered by Ben Franklin, actually appears in Holy Scripture. The thing is, not only is Franklin's wisdom not biblical; it's counter-biblical. Few ideas could be further from the gospel message, with its radical summons to love of neighbor.

Good article. Perhaps a bit old, but some good thoughts.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Day 65-67: Atlanta, GA

Drove from North Carolina to Atlanta, GA... all the while listening to Bill McKibben's Wandering Home on audio CD... thanks to Chris back in Austin. Wonderful book to listen to.

Holly took off Sunday morning for a party back in San Diego. Friends flew her back for a night. Wow.

Got into Atlanta to stay with Troy and Kelly Bronsink (and daughter Eve). Met some wonderful people at a Christmas party and then spent Sunday prepping and playing for an event that was a benefit concert for the Sullivan Center, a non-profit in Atlanta that helps to support homelessness prevention.

Some pics from the day...

Wrapped up the day as it was getting chilly. Went home and crashed.

Holly gets back tonight. I'm just chillin', doin' work at Troy's coffee shop, meeting people as they come in, hearing their stories, and writing this BLOG entry.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Day 64: Raleigh, NC

Cool to be with folks in the Raleigh-Durham area, #5 in the nation of cities most populated by creative types. Cool area. Beautiful drive through tall trees to get there.

Arrived in time to see the new Narnia movie. More thoughts on that later. Still processing some of that stuff.

We grabbed a fine dinner (artichoke sandwiches) and headed into Raleigh for a house show. The night was one-part music and one-part conversation. Nice. Ken (one of the folks at the house show) mentioned that he has a Make Poverty History banner on his site (like I do there in the upper left-hand corner). He said he was asking himself just the other day, "What have I done in my own life to actually make poverty history?" This spawned an entire conversation about the things we advocate and how if they stay as 'issues' then they never have to affect our own lives. Like somehow throwing a banner on my blog for the ONE campaign frees me from having to do anything else...and somehow poverty will become history. Interesting.

So we began dialoguing about this and its implications for our lives and what Jesus meant when he said, "Blessed are the poor." Perhaps it's not about making everyone in the world like lavish lives of with disposable incomes and things we don't need. Certainly poverty is a tragedy...particularly because God's economy is an economy of abundance, not of scarcity. "There is enough for every man's need, but not every man's greed," the saying goes. So the goal is not to bring every one up to American par, but rather that the mountains be made low and the valleys raised up, you know?

So perhaps a counter campaign to Make Poverty History would be Make Deccadence History. Perhaps it's not just about the government sending more aid to those in need. Perhaps it's about living off less and consuming less...and giving away more.

And perhaps that means supporting folks who are doing good in the world...but perhaps it also means being in relationship with those who are not in your income bracket. And personally figuring out with them how to share resources. And learning from those who live off less than you. I could learn a thing or two.

If that just struck a chord in you and you are interested in being a part of a community that is seeking to do just that, you might check out the Relational Tithe website for ideas or perhaps to become a part of something like that.

Okay, enough preaching. Off to Atlanta we go!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Our Pilgrimage

So, I was talking with my friend Jon this evening. He and I met here in cyberspace through each other's blogs. He asked how the trip was going and what it was all about. And I thought during the conversation that I might not have explained on my blog why we are doing what we are doing... that is, what this trip is for us...

I have realized that one of the limitations of a blog is that it can never sum up a life, a whole person's thoughts or intentions or ideas or whatnot. It is never exhaustive... at least mine never is.

So a little catch up just in case you've been in the dark as well...

A little over a month ago, my wife and I packed our stuff into storage, moved out of our apartment in Oceanside, and left Southern California. Where were we going? Didn't really know. Who were we going to see? Had hoped to see certain people scattered across the US.

We call it our pilgrimage. A sort of spiritual endeavor that isn't as much about the end destination as it is about the journey...the experience...the ride. Being blown by the wind.

And what a ride it has been thus far. We're into our 3rd month of the trip. Wow. The stories we carry with us. The folks we have met along the way. The lives we have been inspired by. The generosity that has been shown to us. The friendships we have forged.

Where does it all lead? No idea. Hopefully closer to living it right. But geographically? No idea. We think we'll keep traveling for at least several more months, but who knows where from there.

In the end, our hope was to get a fuller perspective of what was going on in our world (particularly domestically this time around). To see what others see. To attempt to live as others live. To participate and partake.

Of course, one of the challenges along the way is that we are working along the way. That is, we're not on an extended vacation as it were. We're still doing SharpSeven Design stuff and I am of course playing my music along the way.

Sustainability has been a tricky thing, as we are trying to take in so much. To drink in this experience. To live fully in the communities we are sharing in. But there are times when the trip has left us tired and in need of retreat. Man, I sometimes wonder if I'm some closet introvert posing as an extrovert. So doing this sustainably has been an interesting experiment in boundaries and limits.

A spiritual pilgrimage. A chance to see friends and others whose lives have inspired us. A chance to share our art along the way. A chance to further this hope we have of a different kind of world. Yah, that's what this trip's about.

My Friend Rick

I have a friend named Rick. I know a good many of you know him or check out his blog from time to time (if not religiously), but I thought I'd take this space to introduce you to him and his blog because he has so many good links and things to say, that I think you should know him.

That was a very long run-on sentence.

So, instead of copying and pasting alot of his content here and giving him a hat-tip, I'll just put his blog link here. Check it out.

Update on CPT

Thanks Chris for this link... I urge my brothers in the Brigades of Swords of Truth in Iraq to release them in line with the principle of mercy of our religion, if there was no compelling religious duty against it.

Lord have mercy. Prayers continue...

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Stocking Stuffer

So, I hate to promote my own goods (wink, wink), but here goes anyway...


The Cobalt Season - But I Tell You CD for only $10 (including shipping). Just click below if you want it...

Upcoming shows...

A few more shows this year. Catch us if you can.

First, we head south to Raleigh, NC for a show on Friday night, Dec 9th.

Then a show in Atlanta on Sunday afternoon, Dec 11th.

Then a Friday night show in Bradenton, FL (Dec 16th) and Saturday night in Tampa, FL (Dec 17th).

If you're interested in any of these, email me and I can get you details.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Day 60: NYC

What a day. Slept in a bit. Grabbed some breakfast and some coffee from Dean and Deluca. We walked for a while. I was on a conference call for an hour and a half while Holly just sat, staring at her coffee.

Got a hold of Zach and Kat for lunch. Had good sushi. My first experience with sashami. Mmm.

Visited the World Trade Center site. Wow. Heavy.

Went to the theatre district to get tix for RENT. The deal is that if you arrive 2 hours before show time, they do a lottery for the 1st 2 $20 a ticket! We won the lottery and sat 2nd row.

In between getting the tix and seeing the show, we had amazing pizza. Mmm.

After an incredible show (What a play!), we walked outside and it was snowing. Soft flakes on our faces.

We ran to get our luggage out of baggage check at the hotel, got our car out of the parking garage. And got on the freeway eventually. Except it wasn't a freeway, it was a to be expected in New Jersey!

Heading south now to crash at a Super 8 Motel for a few days to get some work done, rest, and re-center. This last part of the trip has certainly been fun, but I am tired. Tired. And have been fighting off a cold. Both of us. And feeling a little behind. Actually alot behind. And I need some time for catch-up and recharge. Thanks for the prayers.

Oh yah, tomorrow marks 2 months since we left. Wow.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Day 58-59: NYC

Got in late to NYC and crashed. Super 8 Hotel in midtown. Brilliant!

Got an early start on the day. Grabbed some coffee (from Caesar) and then headed to Central Park for a stroll...

Then headed south on the Subway to the Empire State Building. We waited in line for 2.5 hours in this... see this...

...and this...

Yes, it got dark by the time we were done up there. Cold, too. But beautiful views.

Played a house show in upper Manhattan with some friends of friends. That was fun. Real quaint. One of the folks there asked me to play one of my songs at their Mass the next morning, so we obliged. After all, the residing priest wrote his dissertation on Oscar Romero. Wow.

Woke up Sunday morning to this...

...and this...

Beautiful! Expecting another 6-8 inches on Monday.

Played at the church service on Sunday morning at St. Marks in the Bowery. A beautiful place (205 year old building) and beautiful people (very diverse, ecumenical, peace-promoting). I played "The Great Inversion" from the album. It seemed to vibe...

My cousin and his wife (Joel and Rebekah) met us for a late, late lunch. We then chased musicals for tickets with no luck. Oh well, great frozen hot chocolates and teas and drinks all around. Wonderful conversation, good times, great food.

Not entirely sure what our next few days are looking like... we'll see...

Friday, December 02, 2005

Day 56-57: Virginia

Headed out of Camden, NJ to head south about 4 hours to Fredricksburg to hook up with some new friends and play a show at a local pub. Great fun.

Left the next morning from Fredricksburg, just after a 30-minute snow flurry storm. Ah, winter is ahead...

We then drove about an hour north to see some of our favorite people, Mike and Stacy Stavlund. Holly calls them Generosity Bullies. They are. Beautiful people, they are.

Then we sat in this for 7 hours heading up to NYC...

NYC, here we come!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

On Storytelling...

I have been thinking a great deal about stories versus facts the last several weeks. Part of this stirring in my imagination began with hearing Douglas Rushkoff speak.

He made this comment that those who tell the best stories captivate and compell the people. He referenced the Ewoks. Remember that when boys landed on their planet with R2-D2 and C3PO in tow, the Ewoks took them prisoner. But by the time they were done telling stories (mainly C3PO and R2-D2), they had new allies in fighting the "evil Empire"? Rushkoff asked, "What if Darth Vader and his cronies arrived on the planet first? Would the Ewoks have been compelled by their plight to join them? After all, the Republic had become unmanageable and the rebels were causing such a stink. Would the Ewoks have served the Dark Side instead?"

This got me to thinking about how people change. I have always felt that truth might have the strongest potency in helping people live their lives. That is, I always thought truth would be the most compelling thing to people simply because it is...well...true.

So I gathered scattered facts (thinking that fact and truth are the same...ha!) and presented my case to people. I never understood why telling people that thousands of people are dying in africa everyday seldom compelled people to live off less and give away more. I guess this also helps shed light on how–even after so many facts about the Bush cronies and their policies and the corruptions are presented–people are still behind their guy.

My point is that sheer fact does little to nothing in getting people to change their paradigms or lives.

But story does.

So Rushkoff said it's time to re-learn the sacred art of storytelling...and stop telling the same damn story. Allow your imagination to re-imagine and re-create the world, to frame the questions differently, to remind you that you don't need that... or perhaps even want that. Stop settling for what everyone's saying... that that's just the way life goes or that's just they way things work. Perhaps it doesn't have to go that way.

Stop swallowing their cliché, as if it's the only way, it's overplayed...

And support artists, writers, screenwriters, poets who are creative subversive art, who are telling new stories.

4 Peacemakers Abducted

If you have not heard, 4 humanitarian workers from Christian Peacemaker Teams have been abducted in Iraq. These are friends of friends.

Lord, have mercy.

As Rick points out, these are folks who actually believe that when Jesus said, "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you," that he actually meant it and that followers should do it.

This from the Christian Peacemaker Teams website...

We are very worried about our four friends. We fear that whoever is holding them has made a mistake. Norman, Tom, James and Harmeet are four men who came to Iraq to work for peace and explain their opposition to the occupation. They are not spies. – CPT Iraq Team

Lord, have mercy.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Day 54: Camden, NJ

A house show at the Camden House. Zach did a few songs and then I played a bit. Zach's songs are great. And the wine was good.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Day 53: Camden, NJ

Holly and I drove around town today, snapping shots of all that was around us. Buildings, superfund and brownfield sites (radioactive landfills), houses, etc...

Someone along the trip told me that he believed Capitalism to be the Great Equalizer. Well, the last several days in Camden would lead me to believe otherwise.

I am no expert, but only an ear to hear some of the stories of Camden. Chris tells the stories way better than I could repeat them. Hope the pics can convey at least a glimpse of some of the stories...

Monday, November 28, 2005

Day 52: Camden, NJ

Crossed the Delaware into Camden, New Jersey yesterday via the Ben Franklin bridge. Spending a few days with our friends Chris and Cassie Haw at the Camden House, a sort of Catholic Worker Hospitality House in old downtown Camden.

Sunday morning, we attended mass with our friends at Sacred Heart Catholic Church. It was refreshing to be a part of a mass service, having been raised Protestant. I've been to mass but a few times and am genereally taken aback at how different the 'services' are from their evangelical counterparts. Like I said...Refreshing.

Spent some time with Chris and Cassie on a sort of 'Reality Tour' of the city. Camden is one of the most polluted, toxic ecosystems in North America it turns out. It's actually an interesting story of industry and it's environmental, social, and economics effects on a particular area.

We're doing a house show tomorrow (Tuesday) evening if you're in the area here at the Camden House. 7pm methinks.

Then we head to Fredricksburg, VA for a show at The Loft on Thursday.

Then a show Saturday in NYC. If you are taking the subway, it's the A to 190th Street.

So, if you read this and are even remotely in the area, please swing by.

Saturday, November 26, 2005


Some hookah late in the evening of Day 49...

Then drove into downtown Philadelphia to set up shop in front of a large mall and encourage others to buy less and love more.

Lots to reflect on these days, but for now photos must suffice...

I might get back to words in the next few days.