Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Prophetic Imagination

This blogger has read a book that is on my wishlist (Walter Bruggeman's The Prophetic Imagination) and has made some comments about it. They struck me as subtlely profound.

my four walls: the basic premise of the book is a radical interpretation of the prophetic traditions as dismantling the dominant culture and kingdoms of this world. the job of the prophet was and is to (re)awaken the consciousness of the people to the freedom and sovereignty of God over and against the apathy and oppression of the dominant culture. the prophet does this through criticizing (which involves imagining something other than the current system and acknowledging the freedom of God) and energizing (by awakening a hope and vision of a future for God's people). In other words the prophetic imagination creates an alternative to the current system.

Brueggeman's critical interpretation of Solomon's kingdom says, 'He had traded a vision of freedom for the reality of security.' the overtones of the whole book have shaken and awakened my thoughts on the role of the church in the world. we live in a time and place in the USA that has traded the reality of God for security. that involves the oppression of others to sustain our way of life. it also places God under the rule of the president and leaders of the world. God is not free to do anything that would contradict our current system or criticize the 'success' of the USA. the job of the prophet is to dismantle the current regime and call God's people to renew and remember their covenant with him"

Wow. Nice.
this is an audio post - click to play

re-imagining repentance

...is kinda redundant if you know much about the word repent... or at least if you know what i know about it... its less about the churchy definition of 'turn or burn' and probably something that is a little more common knowledge... that is, there are good, healthy ways to imagine our reality and bad or unhealthy (or evil for those of you who are hard-core old-skoolers) ways to imagine it... and how we see our reality guides our lives... point is, when jesus commanded these people in the gospels to repent, he was saying, 'you have been viewing reality only partially'... repent... or re-imagine your reality, your possibility, your values, your mission... you are a part of creation, not separate from it... so live like it!

in light of my some of my new understandings of reality, particularly stated in this post, i must ask:

if we are to be all-embracing of people, truly valuing a multiplicity of understanding and opinion, then how do i understand jesus' words, "repent for the kingdom of god is at hand"?... good question really...

well, this should not be limited to a 'salvation' (as many think of the word) passage so much as a continued salvation passage... let me explain...

jesus was saying this to religious people in his day... nominal religious people, perhaps, but people who 'knew the right stuff' just the same... so he wasn't call people to some 'conversion' experience or anything... he was calling people to re-calibrate... something we must continually do to ourselves... and each other?...

so repentance actually might look like helping people see their reality in a more full picture... now, anyone can do this... and of course we can do it for ourselves... but we can also do it for each other... but only when it is solicited... or is that too modern to think that way?...

well, those are just some thoughts... i think i might continue on this topic of 'how people change' in subsequent posts...

Monday, November 29, 2004

Ghandi and Incarnation

"We must become the change we want to see in the world." - Mahatma Gandhi

Now more than ever is the world in need of people actually being the body of Christ.

Anyone else find that picture of the body of Christ being made up of hypocritical, miserable people (myself included in that) really screwed up? But this is the picture of the master Creator with creation, making beauty from ashes and bringing healing in broken places.

Now more than ever (is that a little over-dramatic?) we must become the change we want to see in the world. We need to live the dreams of God, not just try to accomplish them through action. It seems that Jesus' notion of change often began with people: individuals, groups, families, nation-states, etc... not with programs or with propositions or with politics.

Now I am not saying that politics and Jesus have nothing to do with each other because politics are an extension of our humanity, but I am saying that we musn't get the cart before the horse. We must become the change we want to see in our world. We must become the love of Christ... the Incarnation of Christ. We cannot beat people up in order for 'good' to triumph. Peace by means of violence is ridiculous. Forfeiting the now for the later is heresy.

We must become the change we want to see in the world. And now.

History? What History?

"What is history but a fable agreed upon?" - Napoleon Bonaparte

I am reading my history lecture for the Mexican-American War this morning and I am reminded of this quote as well as another: "He who wins the war writes the history books."

The typical American view of this war is so fascinatingly one-sided.

Below is a part of the lecture that I am still thinking about. Manifest Destiny is a dangerous mentality and one we must be wary of even now. As if God is on the side of America once again. Hmm.

Lecture 11: "Still another view of the Mexican War was that of the fourth  school of historians offered by Albert K. Weinberg. In the American imperialistic concept of Manifest Destiny lay the impetus for the American advancement beyond the Mississippi that led to war. But Manifest Destiny reflected more than a mere hunger for land, for Americans saw themselves as the messiahs of a special way of life, of a democracy conceived in an idealistic as well as in a nationalistic sense. Democracy was symbolized individual freedom; men moved westward in order to expand its sphere of influence. The expansionists had come to believe that the free, strong by nature of their freedom and not the weak, impotent because of the autocratic character of their institutions would inherit the earth. God had willed that a weak Mexico had to succumb before the advance of his own chosen people, Anglo-Saxon Protestant and American. Is this true? Was it Manifest Destiny?"

Bumper Stickers Ethics

As I was taking Holly to work this morning, I sat behind a huge Ford F-350 for a mile or so and got to read it's bumper stickers... of which there were many.

Three caught me off-guard though:

The first was the word "ISLAM" with a red circle around it and a line cut diagonally through it, insinuating "no more Islam". The second was a huge American flag. The third was a "United We Stand" sticker.

And I thought, "No, we do not stand united. I do not seek to eradicate Islam as you seem to. No, I will not stand with you under some nationalistic banner that allows you to think this way. No, I do not agree to be a good citizen of this nation I must hate Muslims. You, sir, are wrong. We do not stand united."

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Embrace: It's the new Accept

Well, we are home. After driving an accumulated 1300 miles or so over the holiday, we are home. Sleeping in our own bed tonight. Yes.


Began the week by heading to Santa Cruz to be with Holly's family. We were there from Wednesday to Friday morning. Came back to O-side and then headed out immediately for Vegas to see my mom and sis and her boyfriend. My sister's boyfriend, not my mom's.

So, to pass the time I got a library card Tuesday and checked out a book on tape. I wanted The DaVinci Code since Holly hasn't read it yet and I liked it so much... but it was checked out. (And the Library doesn't have that cool guarantee that Blockbuster does.) So I checked out Gilgamesh. Fascinating ancient Babylonian tale of these two guys and their adventures in a polytheistic world... I only listened to Disc 1 (of 4), but plan to finish the book later.

Holly's dad had The DaVinci Code on CD, so we borrowed it for the latter half of our travels. Yeah. Great book. Wonderful story, probing questions, fun wanderings between history and fiction.

I gotta tell you, one of my favorite themes of the book is that the church is not the only carrier/bearer of truth in the world. The book goes to many extremes to pound this point, and I think it is a worthwhile conversation to have with the book, with yourself, and perhaps with some friends... that perhaps God doesn't just use "The Church" to be his agent of truth and goodness in the world. Perhaps "The Church" is but a small part of God's work in this world. Hmm?

I was speaking with a friend earlier today, sharing with him this thought and he made a statement about how he wishes that there was a church where people who do not care about church or religion (but who are deeply spiritual) could go to belong and be accepted. And it struck me. The word 'accepted' implies that they are different. It implies the same thing that the world 'tolerate' does. That it is not an integration as much as it is an allowing of them to be there. Almost like they must be given a certain amount of time to get used to 'our way of doing things' or whatever. Accepted.

What if we created more places where people were valued and embraced? Where people can bring their 'crazy ideas' about life, faith, sex, and God and we can value what God is teaching all of us? Not just 'accept' those whose opinions are different, but actually seek to see life as they do? To try to value their eyes, ears, and thoughts about the world in which we live.

Embrace: It's the new Accept.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

The Shawshank Redemption and Life

I promised I would not blog this weekend, but I just had this idea and I wanted to quickly share it and then get back to family stuff.

I was just thinking about that scene in the beautiful film, The Shawshank Redemption where the old guy (what's his name?) finally leaves Shawshank Prison. He becomes a free man again. But remember what happens? He freaks out. He simply cannot make it. He has spent life 'inside the institution' for too long. He could not adjust to the way life should be, you know?

Thing is, he wasn't made for Shawshank Prison; he was made for a free life.

So I was just reading this poem about how men toil, and I was remembering how part of the curse that God put on Adam was that he would toil greatly and never be fully satisfied and all that jazz. And the stuff he said to Eve, too.

But here's the deal: I don't know that it was prescriptive as much as it would be descriptive. You followin' me here? Like God wasn't saying that you must remain in these shackles of toil and meaninglessness (though many of us do), but rather, now because of what you have done, this happens.

It also makes me think about another implication of this: that those of us who have been 'in the institution' for so long (ie. the church proper) are finding it hard to really exist 'outside the institution' and some even would probably go back because of a fear of how to live in this new way beyond institutionalization.

Were we not made for institutionalization? I don't think we were. Were we not made for toil, meaninglessness, pain in child labor? I don't think we were.

We can choose to continue to be products of our decisions or we can decide to change. But it is up to us to decide to change.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Audio and a Quote

So, I just put links to 6 songs on the right down there for songs of "The Cobalt Season" as well as some roughs that will be recut and on Clover's new record.

And a blog I came upon via Will with a post worth reading as we are considering all we have to be thankful for...

poet in motion: A Time to Lament: "If there is one thing that we can learn from [Lamentations], and from the Bible in general, it is that when bad things happen we should lament them.  We might be able to put a clear label on things.  Was that good?  Was it evil?  Was it from God or not?  But regardless of those categories we can say this: 'It is lamentable.'

We have just such a situation in a country called Iraq today.  Christians argue over whether or not the war that is taking place there is justifiable.  Hopefully, we are open and sensitive to each other's views.  I personally believe that this war is unjustifiable, ungodly, unholy, etc.  Maybe I'm wrong, though.  Maybe.

In any case, we ought to be able to agree on at least one thing.  This war is lamentable.  We ought to be able to agree that it is with great sorrow that we kill the enemies we were taught to feed.  Even if it has truly been necessary to disregard the advice of our neighbors, as represented by the U.N., this too should be cause for lament. 

There should be no doubt, despite our differences, that Christians everywhere should be crying out to the Lord for a speedy end to this war.  We should be pleading with God for the safety of innocent civilians.  We should cry out for peace.  This is a time to lament."

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Health and U2

Can I just say that I love the new U2 record.

Some favorite lines (or scroll to the bottom for my thoughts):

"Miracle Drug:
Freedom has a scent
Like the top of a new born baby's head

God I need your help tonight
Beneath the noise
Below the din
I hear a voice
It's whispering
In science and in medicine
"I was a stranger
You took me in"

"City of Blinding Lights"
The more you know the less you feel
Some pray for, others steal
Blessings not just for the ones who kneel

Yahweh, Yahweh
Always pain before a child is born
Yahweh, tell me now
Why the dark before the dawn?

Take this city
A city should be shining on a hill
Take this city
If it be your will
What no man can own, no man can take
Take this heart
Take this heart
Take this heart
And make it break

"Love and Peace or Else"
I don't know if I can take it
I'm not easy on my knees
Here's my heart you can break it

So, the whole "I'm not easy on my knees" line struck me today as Holly and I were driving around. There is a book out that I have on my wishlist called Get Up Off Your Knees: Preaching the U2 Catalog that has been inspirational to me, even if just as a title.

Here's the thing. Religion for me when I was growing up was about 'praying things out' or 'helping people find Jesus'. This phrase of getting up off my knees is very provocative because I have seen too much on my knees and not enough of me out doing the work of the kingdom of God, you know?

But here's the thing, Evangelicalism might be a good move for someone who has never really considered their good deeds to be connected to the Creator. Does this make sense?

Here is an old post about this ongoing conversation in my life: multiplicity in healthy movements... or how someone can be moving in a completely different direction than me in order to become healthier.

So, for me, the liberation movement or the social justice movement seems a healthier place for me to journey towards, but perhaps that is not for everyone. Perhaps some people need to spend more time on their knees or reading their Bibles... just as much as I need to spend less time studying my Bible and on my knees and more time with the poor or helping people.


Monday, November 22, 2004

U2 and Spin

I just finished reading this month's Spin interview with U2. A great read... even if the writer of the article is a bit of a U2 skeptic.

Some of my favorite quotes:

Bono: "There is this cliche' that artists are pure and business people can't be trusted. Well, in my life I've met a lot of artists who were real assholes, and I've met a lot of businessmen who walk their dogs. So these things aren't true. We need new thinking."

From the article: [Bono] wants people to realize that the war against AIDS is much more significant than the war against Iraq."

The article continues to inquire about the lack of 'politiking' on this record. Many have said this is a very un-political record.

Bono responds: "What came out of me was the other things in my life I wasn't tending to: My family, the hypocrisy of my own heart, and my father's death. I mean, why am I not spending more time with my kids? Why am I trying to save other people's kids instead? How can I sing about love when I am never at home? There are a lot of things that need to be addressed in the world. But those things just came pouring out of me."

"Like a Rhizome Cowboy"... I like the implications...

From TallSkinnyKiwi: "Did you know that the ants do not have a leader calling all the shots, but instead leave pheromone trails for each other to communicate? Of course you knew that - its in the Bible. No professional leadership, but emergence to higher level complexity regardless. Sometimes when i look at the emergent properties of bloggers, I see our hypertext links performing the suame function as pheromones - telling us where to go, where not to go, whats going on."

Sunday, November 21, 2004

thanks to... (part 2)

jasen ashdown, for introducing me to the blog world... and for keeping me (at least somewhat) up to date on the indie-music world...

my beautiful wife, for asking me to walk on the beach with her while she collects rocks and shells that she finds beautiful...

michael toy and doug pagitt, for challenging (sometimes violating) my thinking to get me to think outside my small, narrow world... it hurts sometimes, you know?... but it's a good thing...

my sister lisa, for making me laugh...

jesse nason and wendy faraone, for being a support factor for holly and i whilst the entire christian community seems to follow 'their guy'... let's get some guns and take this country back for jesus, ey?...

matt vancleave, for not throwing off the trappings of the megachurch in hopes that some change may come...

my yoga instructor, for helping me to consider living life 'un-judgementally'... if only i could really do this...

Saturday, November 20, 2004

A Sad Return Home

Well, Holly and I are driving back from Yosemite today 'cause I got real sick last night. We stopped at this Starbucks in Bakersfield and I checked my email and such as we chilled for dinner.

In my in box were five blog comments from the user "in_the_military".

I gotta be honest, after his/her last blasting of me on my blog, I chose to remain silent because you know, it's a free country. He/She can do as he/she pleases.

But some of these comments were so immature that I chose to delete them from the comments section of my blog.

This person has no profile and no blog of his/her own, no contact info left on my blog.

So, I turn my comments to you, In_The_Military:

I am sorry that I have offended you by my blog postings. This blog is a place for me to think out loud, share some thoughts, and dabble in ideas. Most of these notions are not a complete, not a final, not a full picture of who I am or what I believe.

It bums me out that you choose to flame me with insults and immature banter instead of make constructive criticism or honest dialogue. It also bums me out that you hide behind some alias and do not produce anything of merit under that name. All I find is ridicule on my blog from In_The_Military. That's sad. You seem to be a religious person, so at least we can agree that love, not hate, is the way to move to a better place, no?

Perhaps you should create your own blog that could be dedicated to challenging many of the ideas that I have on my blog.

I understand you want your voice to be heard, and I think that is important, even though I disagree with you on many of your points in the comments you have made on my blog. Still, if you want your voice to be heard, perhaps here on my blog is not the best place.

If you have a personal problem with me, I suggest you email me instead of posting on my blog. Perhaps there we could have a real conversation.


Friday, November 19, 2004

Gone to Yosemite for the Weekend.

Just that: I'll be gone all weekend in Yosemite. Perhaps some photos whence we return? We shall see.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb

What an amazing work of art. You can hear it here if you likey... legally. I love these guys, and I am so happy for some new tunes/meditations/prayers/psalms/prophecies.

Someone asked me if I know how to dismantle an atomic bomb.

I said, uh no.

He told me that you dismantle an atomic bomb with love.

Thank you Bono for making such a beautiful 'world policy' so clear.

to Pri(us) or not to Pri(us)?

That is the question.

So Holly and I are considering retiring our old '94 Ford Ranger and buying a used Toyota Prius [read: hybrid]. We love our pickup, but have a few reasons to make the exchange. Now we need to figure out if this is a good exchange to make or if we should keep the truck or what.

Some pros to ditching the truck and picking up a Prius:
1. The truck is at 188k miles.
2. The brakes seem to be in constant need of fixing. Like every 6 months, a new set of pads and rotors.
3. We kinda feel like we should act on some of the environmental sentiments that we endorse. (The Prius is the cleanest car out there according to the EPA.)
4. Oh yah, and we get about 17-20 mpg with our truck. This Prius gets an average of 39 mpg.
5. It'd be nice to carry more people around. (The Prius holds 5 as opposed to our truck which can squeeze 3.)

Some cons that deter us:
1. We own our truck. To buy a Prius, we will pay a higher price because hybrid technology is still so new. Do we want new monthly payment to make? (Even though gas savings alone will be somewhere between $100-150/month on average.)
2. We don't like to look like 'new car owners', you know? Not our bag.
3. The Prius definitely won't be as big, so it might be hard to carry all my gear around.

So, there are some thoughts. Help us make this decision. Should we buy or not?

Grey War

Such interesting times we live in. It seems as if so many people have a black and white view of this war and the US's efforts in Iraq: they were wrong and evil, we are a right(eous) people.

I read these the other day. Eye-opening.

Far Country Tell: "I wonder what happens when we try to hear Osama Bin Ladin’s words as the words of a prophet rather than a madman? Conservative Evangelical Christians have whored their faith (and security) to a political party. America finds its hope and salvation through political policy –foreign and domestic. This was the context in which the now famous “Osama October Surprise” statement was said."

Aljazeera.Net - Full transcript of bin Ladin's speech: "Destruction is freedom and democracy, while resistance is terrorism and intolerance."

This might be worth your time to read. It might help you to understand that they don't "hate our freedom" as much as they hate who we have assisted/supported and oppressed/killed.

I post this not to say, "Yea Osama!", as much as I post it to say, "It's seldom as simple as you think!"

Monday, November 15, 2004

Beyond Legislation to Inspiration

You know, I read somewhere about how laws and legislation are put into affect once society (or an organization or whatever) has lost its ability to inspire. Perhaps it was Erwin's Unstoppable Force? Perhaps.

Saturday evening, Holly and I went out with some friends of ours who live in Nashville. They were in town planning their wedding, so we snagged a couple hours with them at a cool seafood place on the pier in San Clemente. Vibey place and good food.

Tres and I got into some good conversations about legislating morality and all the typical stuff around that: how divorce rates are way higher in southern conservative regions of the US where it is kind of 'socially legislated' than in west-coast or northeast liberal areas. Also talked about the abortion post I had here weeks ago about how most areas in the world that 'outlaw' abortion have higher abortion rates and their practices are way more dangerous; whereas places in the world where abortion is legal (and state-funded), the rates are considerably lower... and it's way safer.

Anywho, the conversation rounded the corner to 'if not laws and legislation, what do we do, Ryan?'

And I was stumped on some levels (mostly governmental). How do we encourage healthy living? How do we inspire good living? How in my own church community am I doing this? (That is another post for another time, once I have actually been working on for a while.)

Well, first it would be a systemic approach as opposed to a 'single-issue' approach. (This is part of my dilemma with the whole Iraq-US-terrorist fiasco.) You see, the problems aren't just divorce and abortion and figuring out how to legislate (whether governmentally or socially).

We began to unpack why so many areas that are southern-conservative (primarily churchpeople, mind you) have the highest divorce rates in the US. We talked about how most of the areas, if you are found out to be having 'pre-marital sex' or even thinking about it, then it is high time to get married to that person... or even more if you are pregnant with his child. So there is this sense of all will be fine as long as they get married. What BS! Or people's advice to me whence in Biola-land, 'if you feel like you just can't wait till you get married, then get married now!'. This is a running sentiment in the conservative Christian circles.

Okay, it's not about throwing all inspiration out the window and saying whoever, whenever, whatever I don't think. But I think that it is high time to start talking more health-fully about our sexuality and how it is natural and yada, yada, yada. (You like me dodging the conversation?) I hope that in the next decades to come, we will see a healthier form of sexuality emerge. You have polar opposites in this nation: the conservative 'don't even think about it until you get married' vs. the MTV 'get all you can' mentalities. (I had to throw MTV in there because they're always the bad guys right?)

How 'bout something more inspiring? Something more self-less, but also something more fulfilled? How about remembering that marriage is between two people (usually... except in the Bible) and God, not the state.

Okay, so back to inspiration vs. legislation. The quote is something like when a society ceases to inspire, it will legislate. Anyone else heard this? And any other thoughts on the matter? And this gets into a whole 'nother range of conversation about God's mission for healing the world: when we cease to inspire others with lives of wholeness, recognized brokenness, and hopefullness, we legislate by saying, 'unless x, y, and z, a person cannot know God really.' Right? Brian has some cool things to say abuot this in an interview.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

favorite googles that found me... and other blogs...

two google searches that have led people to my blog in the last couple weeks made me laugh...

erradicating +ants +safely


"in the name of the lord" "jerry falwell" "presumption" "peace"

again, hope they found what they were looking for...

oh, and some blogs i have been reading that i think you might like...

I am looking for God.
Far Country Tell : the wit of jesus and orpheus
jen lemen
Lotus Rising
weblog :: jordoncooper.com

while i realize that i am new to this whole blogging thing and that many of you perhaps already subscribe to the above blogs, hopefully some of you who do not know these fine people will run over and check out their thoughts on display...

have a good rest of the weekend...

Friday, November 12, 2004

Some quotes on taking a country to war...

Thanks to my buddy Jesse for finding this quote:

"Naturally the common people don't want war. But after all, it is the leaders of a country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag people along whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. This is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and for exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country."

- Hermann Goering, a Nazi henchman, talking to a prison psychologist and U.S. Army Captain Gustave M. Gilbert when he was in jail.

My sister's friend's quote from Mr. Shakespeare:

'Beware the leader who bangs the drum of war in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervor. For patriotism is indeed a double- edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind. And when the drums of war have reached a fever pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind has closed, the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry. Rather, the citizenry, infused with fear and patriotism, will offer up all of their rights to the leader and gladly so. How do I know? For this is what I have done. And I am Julius Caesar.'

- Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

American Empire

A song I wrote several months ago as I came to understand how much consumerism kills. "Came to understand" should probably read, "Am still coming to understand".

An old audio clip here if you wanna sing along.

American Empire by Ryan Lee Sharp

Well you take me out and your drag me around
And I'd do anything 'cause all I found in you... in you
Still you broke my heart with my soul laid bare
But you didn't know, didn't care now did ya?... even care

So I followed you
Because you promised me
More than I ever really wanted yah

Well God damn this American Empire
Can't blame this American Empire
Seems Still I overpaid to be sure I know it
But even still
All these needs and wants and toys and taunts
They follow me everywhere... everywhere

Still I followed you
Because you promised me
More than I ever really wanted and now

I wanna get my money back
I wanna get my life off track
I wanna find my one true friend
If I could just begin again
And I wanna find my way back home
I wanna find I'm not alone
I'm not alone... not alone

Well the money's in the plate
And your life's in my hands
And you wonder if I'd even understand your situation
In this Great Nation
Where the sick heal the sick
And us blind lead the blind
Maybe together we can find what we're lookin' for
What was it we were lookin' for?

So don't follow me
Cause I'd promise you
Nothin' more than what you need

You'd wanna get your money back
You'd wanna get your life off track
You'd wanna find your one true friend
If you could just begin again
And you'd wanna find your way back home
You'd wanna find you're not alone
Friend, you're not alone
Not alone

Hopin' I find my way back to you
Hopin' one day we'll see this through
Hopin' they read me between the lines
'Til then I say I'm fine

And so we don't get our money back
Let's get our lives off this track
Maybe you're my one true friend
Here we go, let's begin again
And maybe we'll find our way back home
Now that we know we're not alone
Not alone

Google Search: "American Empire"

Thursday, November 11, 2004

pulling back the curtain...

i continue to awaken to realize that things are not as they have always seemed... life is more complex than i thought in my youth... i am after all now 27...

in a nation that seems (to me) to be pushing towards a fundamentalist black-white, good-evil, them-us, yes-no, in-out understanding of reality, i seem to move in a different direction...

i move toward multiplicity of understanding and reality... toward seeing context, toward trying to hear all sides... trying to hold many things loosely whilst embracing the dynamic tension of these things... so not too loosely, but not too tightly either... you know?...

here's the thing though, pulling back the curtain and seeing that you are not existing in this vaccum state of the world, is costly... and is scary... and you begin to find in yourself both black and white and good and evil and them and us and yes and no and in and out... and you might not know quite what to do with it... especially when you have been taught to identify yourself as a singular, concrete thing... or against any one thing, one people, one person, etc...

now, i am forseeing possible rants about jesus talking about being for us or against us, but let me remind you that jesus was clear in stating in mark that whoever is not against us is for us... different, ey?...

i dunno all of what this means, but i am trying to get my mind around this whole iraq war situation and all that i am hearing just stirs up in me a sense that we are not a 'holy nation' conquering these 'terrorists' who are a part of the 'axis of evil' and we will bring about 'pax americana' through this...

more on it later... i gotta get to bed...

Pics from Last Night's Show


The show was so much fun. Thanks to all you who came out... seriously, thanks.

New Album by Jesus out! Jesus Interviewed!

They Will Know Us By Our T-Shirts: The New Album From Jesus

Hilariously worth your time. Really. Really.

No, really.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

I am playing tonight.


A merger of The Cobalt Season and Clover for ultimate bliss.

9pm at the Gypsy Lounge in Lake Forest (near Irvine).

Map and info on the Clover site.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

our founding fathers and cain...

From my history lecture: Those who designed the federal constitution in 1788 made no provision for parties and indeed the founding fathers increasingly denounced groups seeking political power as "factions-scheming, narrow, selfish elements pursuing goals contrary to the common good, the bane of all experiments in free government".

From Blog for America: The question: Why should I pay more just because I make more? The answer: Because you are a responsible citizen in a society which believes in compassion and social responsibility, and freedom isn't free.

From Understanding Genesis: The Lord said to Cain, "Where is your brother Abel?" And he said - "I do not know. Am I my brother's keeper?" (Genesis 4.9)

"The Bible wishes to establish emphatically the moral principle that man is indeed his brother's keeper and that all homicide is at the same time fratricide."

From me: I have heard myself and others make comments to the tune of, "She's not my problem" or "That's for him to deal with" or "Sucks for him" or "Wish I could do more, but it's not really my responsibility"... but the point of the story is that it is.

This is our world and it is what we make of it, you know? And these people? Yah, the ones we despise as well as the ones we love are our responsibility to take care of, to help, to be helped by.

Reminds me of Jesus words regarding loving the loveable being the easy thing to do. He called us beyond that to help restore humanity, to bring shalom (lit. health, wholeness, peace) to this earth.

This world is not going to hell in a hand-basket. This world is not God-forsaken. This world is not hopeless.

More Thoughts...

...on the re-negotionation of what we think 'church' is... not how to put on a better service, but how are we to engage people in this thing (community, movement, ideology, revolution, etc.) called the church?...

Tony Jones' blog: "The church participates in the glorifying of God in creation's liberation. Wherever this takes place through the workings of the Spirit, there is the church. The true church is the song of thanksgiving of those who have been liberated."

"The church participates in the uniting of men [and women] with one another, in the uniting of society with nature and in the uniting of creation with God. Wherever unions like this take place, however fragmentary and fragile they may be, there is the church. The true church is the fellowship of love."

Monday, November 08, 2004

a day of mourning...

six feet under will be cancelled after this upcoming fifth season...

one part church, one part politics...


so, i was watching a cnn special program last night where this british guy was interviewing a saudi young man who was talking about how the religion of the militant muslims is not his religion... id be interested to see how the emergent process is going on in other world traditions, you know?... like he was post-militant-muslim... hmm...

along those lines, i found this article from uk online news...

"Christianity will be eclipsed by spirituality in 30 years, startling new research predicts. Our correspondent reports on the collapse of traditional religion and the rise of mysticism."

"In the beginning there was the Church. And people liked to dress up in their best clothes and go there on Sundays and they praised the Lord and it was good. But it came to pass that people grew tired of the Church and they stopped going, and began to be uplifted by new things such as yoga and t’ai chi instead. And, lo, a spiritual revolution was born."

i find it very interesting and even hopeful. you?... like people truly moving from institution and program towards wholistic and organic?... could this be a movement of god?... hmm...

Twice as many people believe in a “spirit force” within than they do an Almighty God without.

i think that is a thoroughly christian concept for a spirit force to be within... i go back to my comment that taoism might have more in common with biblical judaism that christianity does... the notion of god as wholly other is not a balanced biblical concept of god... god as 'out there' or 'up there' is not a hebrew understanding... the veil between heaven and earth is much more thin that we thought...


a friend sent me this link, but it sometimes doesnt pull up... i did find a word document version... so, if the link doesnt work, download this word doc...

i draw no speculative conclusions, but interesting, ey?...

Sunday, November 07, 2004

a new kind of sunday...

well, i gotta be honest... it's nice to have my sundays not be work days, you know?...

today, lisa and holly and i did the walk for the cure... it rained most of the time, so we didnt take our camera with... but we did snap some shots once we were back in the care and had our starbucks fix in hand...

there were several groups there with clever names... since it was a walk for breast cancer, many were breastocentric... such as team chi-chi or team ta-ta... babes for boobs, judy's jugs... walkers for knockers... ya-yas for ta-tas... ha!...

and to finish off the evening, an amazing sunset...

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Finished (at least for now...)

We finished the piece as far as we can tell. This was meant to be an experiment under some sort of time constraint, you know?

We have had a very confusing season in our lives and continue in it. I saw an El Greco painting last year that inspired this one's concept: a priest looking at Jesus on the cross with a confused face. It was a very evocative painting. A sort of "why" expression.

Here are more pics...

Click for larger image.

A song to accompany will be uploaded sometime this week. Shabot Shalom!

Art Experiment

And a song I am working on to go with...

More later today...

Friday, November 05, 2004

An experiment...

Tomorrow, Holly and I are going to do an art piece together. Not sure yet what that looks like, but we bought a 36 x 48 canvas today. And it's forcasted to rain tomorrow!

It will be our sabbath-creation (is that an oxymoron since God ceased from creating?). The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath. So we take it and rejoice. Will post pictures throughout the process tomorrow.

Until then, this is where we begin...

Thursday, November 04, 2004

What a Great Film.

Saved! is such a great film. Have you seen it? Cause if you haven't, it is a wonderful satire on evangelical Christianity... wonderfully funny and equally moving...

It's a wonderful reminder of how we are all screwed-up, laughable characters in this story of life... Each character has his/her marked flaw that proves redeemed by the end...

A great epiphane moment...

Pastor Skip: The Bible is black and white.

Mary: So everything that doesn't fit into some stupid idea of what you think that God wants, you just try to hide or fix or get rid of? This is all too much to live up to. No one fits in one-hundred percent of the time.

Why does God make us all so different if he wants us to be the same?

Goes great with that whole conversation we have been having here about finding God in your own skin, not in someone else's.

cloves, epiphanes, and self-hatred...

my buddy brad had a posting this morning about how he thinks we are we who we are... seems simple enough... but i have been thinking about it this afternoon...

here again, 'to do'-driven-ryan is out smoking a clove, relaxing right?... and upon first buzz, i realize that i want to go check mail or perhaps go in to get the emails that i just heard hit my inbox... and i am itchin to get up, but i want to finish my clove...

and i think: hmm... is being the person i am a bad thing?... like do i hate myself for wanting to be so 'go-go-go'?... is this a hard-wired part of me or is it something i should seek to overcome?...

i often refer to myself as a 'recovering type a'... like i don't want to be anal, i don't want to be so to-do-driven, but?...

maybe we are who we are and grace is simply letting ourselves be?... so is the 'improvements' for us?... or is a better coming to grips with who we are?... what is the gospel of this?... that we would be free... but from what?... free from who we 'are' or free from who we think we 'should be'?...

freedom has many forms no?...

life as a 'to do' list...


do you live this way?... i try not to, but it is a hard habit to break...

like i am right now watching 'six feet under' season 2, disc 2 and i am itchin' to get this episode over so i can get to the next one so i can get to the next one so i can put the dvd back into the sleve and mail it back to netflix...

is this screwed up or what?...

i love to get things done... it somehow verifies my very existence...

and this is partly why a weekly sabbath is very challenging for me... cause i feel validated when i have gotten things done...

but then, when there is _so_ much to do, i don't do anything... cause i am like depressed about being defined by that that i do... but i am not defined that way...

anyone else confused?... maybe i shouldnt drink wine in the afternoon anymore...

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

sad day...

[pardon the rant...]

today has honestly been a bummer day for us here at 814 n. the strand in o-side...

i have listened to kerry's concession speech and got teary-eyed... i just cannot believe this is happening... and then to realize that it is now a republican-led senate... and to hear bush ask for us to 'come together'... what?...

to me, this is a sad state of affairs... and i am not represented in this country... obviously...

bush is not my president... and canada is looking like a better option every day...

my sister has some brilliant thoughts on this as well... and dave lemen's thoughts as well as jen lemen's friend joi's thoughts... and will's sentiments...

'why so downcast oh my soul?'

...because great crusades are being done again in the name of christ and people are being oppressed by religion again... and again and again...

[or am i being over-dramatic?... yah probably a bit... just a little bit...]

Psalm 20:7

"Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the LORD our God."

Dare I say?

Some trust in George W and some in Senator Kerry (I did sorta),
But we will trust in something higher.

I am attempting to wrestle through this, and also to wrestle through some of the comment's I am sure to hear like "Well, it was God's will for the President to remain with us... God sets up and removes rulers... it's in the Bible." or "God is sovereign and acted on our behalf by not letting that evil flip-flopper into office... America can remain a Christian nation."

And I am thinking, did God put Hitler into office?

I mean, it's just interesting that if God acts in a way you deem suitable, He is in control, but what about 9/11 or the holocaust in the Sudan?

I choose to trust that God will continue to move in and across this earth, finding heart's that are committed to helping to bring healing and unity and using these people. There will always be divisive people. There will always be people doing heinous acts in the name of God, but I trust in God and his ways... not in them... not in them...

Sorry if this was a bit cliche'... Just some thoughts I need to work out on virtual-paper.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

the motorcycle diaries...

such an incredible film... please go and see it... it will help to change your outlook on the world...

in the blogsphere, i have found a couple interesting posts regarding this film... they are here and here...

very important movie to see...

Monday, November 01, 2004

on the eve of the election, i know who is going to win...

three correlation theories that i have heard today:

1. if the dow goes down the last month before the election, the incumbent will lose,

2. whichever candidate sells more halloween masks will win the election,

3. if the washington redskins win the game before the election, the incumbent will win; if they lose, the incumbent will lose.

so, the dow is down which leads me to believe that john kerry will win... but then bush sold the most halloween masks this year and that theory has had a 20 year track record of being accurate (i am not making this stuff up) which leads me to believe that bush will win... but, the redskins lost, and the track record of this correlation theory has been exact for the last 18 election years dealing with an incumbent... over 70 years!... which leads me to believe that john kerry is our man...

so, 2 out of 3 says jfk is our man... any other ridiculous but compelling theories out there?...

sources: nps, my sister, and jesse nason... god bless 'em all...

theodore roosevelt's own words...

"Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president or any other public official, save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him insofar as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country. In either event, it is unpatriotic not to tell the truth, whether about the president or anyone else."

why steps to 'make church more palatable' fail...

some quotes from jordoncooper.com where he is quoting from mcneal in the book, the present future...

The current church culture in North America is on life support. It is living off the work, money, and energy of previous generations from a previous world order. The plug will be pulled when either the money runs out (80 percent of money given to congregations comes from people aged fifty-five and older) or when the remaining three-forths of a generation who are institutional loyalists die off or both.

Please don't hear what I am not saying. The death of the church culture as we know it will not be the death of the church. The church Jesus founded is good; it is right. The church established by Jesus will survive until he returns. The imminent demise under discussion is the collapse of the unique culture in North America that has come to be called "church". This church culture has become confused with biblical Christianity, both inside the church and out. In reality, the church culture in North American is a vestige of the original movement, an institutional expression of religion that is in part a civil religion and in part a culb where religious people can hang out with other people whose politics, worldview, and lifestyle match there. As he hung on the cross, Jesus probably never thought the impact of his sacrifice wold be reduced to an invitation for people to join and to support an institution.


Faced with diminishing returns on investment of money, time, and energy, church leaders have spent much of the last five decades trying to figure out how to do church better....
...All of this activity anesthetizes the pain of loss. It offers a way to stay busy and preoccupied with methodological pursuits while not facing the hard truth: none of this seems to making much of a difference. Church activity is a poor substitute for genuine spirituality.


You can build the perfect church--and they still won't come. People are not looking for a great church. They do not wake up every day wondering what church they can make successful. The age in which institutional religion holds appeal is passing away--and in a hurry.... Church leaders seem unable to grasp this simple implication of the new world--people outside the church think church is for church people, not for them.

A thought which is reinforced by my reading of many Christian blogs. Church is a club for Christians and is not interested with talking with the outside world.


[now my thoughts] wow, i have had so many of these same thoughts, which is why i think that it's not time to 'do church different', it truly is time to be the church, and all that follows that... its not about creating a service where people can come, its not even about a home group... it is perhaps about (as god did with abraham) realizing our identity and helping others see their's as well... and perhaps letting others tell us what ours is as well, you know?...

so, the kingdom of god is not about building a recycling center, it is about involving people in the act of recycling, no?... it is not about building a fixed education institution, it is about encouraging people to learn... it is not about building a new place of worship, it is about helping 'normal people' see the kingdom in their lives... and learn from their goodness and be inspired and inspire... or something...