Thursday, December 27, 2007

This is the Christmas post...

...I wanted to post on Christmas day but that day turned out to be pretty crazy and hectic as Bekah and I attended four consecutive exchanges of gifts and had to pack our things in between before heading off to the upper midwest to see more family.

Our trip was like something out of a nightmarish dream but we made it safely. On my way home to pick up some of our stuff, I started to realize that I was sick. Bekah says I always get sick on vacation, which in retrospect, is probably true. During the ensuing two legs of flights which included a sprint across the tarmac in Vegas, Amelia and luggage in tow, I prayed for a merciful end to my life but alas, I simply endured. Nothing like waiting in line for a rental Kia Sportage in 28 degree weather while feverish and headache-stoned at six in the morning outside O'Hare Airport. Note-to-self: don't take a red eye flight and then think that you can safely pilot a Kia several hours on no sleep--because if you wind up getting sick, it will make you wish you'd never been born. Anyhow, now we're here and having a good time watching movies, playing sorry, swapping mp3s and travel stories.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Wednesday, December 19th

I spent the morning at the library, writing and researching. In the course of searching for a book by the Pope called Jesus of Nazareth, I discovered Saint Augustine's "The City of God," and checked it out. An 867-page book written over 1500 years ago by a mystic in North Africa, is how it's billed. Since I plan on delving deeper into the contemplative tradition this coming year, I am very excited to read what is a cornerstone of modern Christian thought.

I also picked up a book called "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy...a "searing, post-apocalyptic novel." Needless to say, that description roped me in almost immediately.

Some friends of mine, Weston, Dave, Kim put together this video and were crazy enough to think that I could act in it. I tried, and I must say I look fatter on camera, but the end product is very good no thanks to me.

video

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Battle at Kruger

This video is pretty lengthy but it may possibly be better than any animal planet or national geographic special i've ever seen. as long as you can get past the annoying chatter and inexplicable laughing in the background. Highly recommended.

ADVENT :: the Hope for Peace, Love, Joy

We live today in a world of growing isolation, frantic activity, and desperate violence, where paradoxically, we find ourselves longing for both solitude and companionship, intimacy and community. Some of us may look back to times when life seemed to make sense and relationships were more certain. Whether or not such times ever existed, we nevertheless long today for relationships that acknowledge who we are and who we want to be. We want someone to hear us, to hear our hearts beating, to hear our deepest longings—even longings of which we dare not speak.

- Sondra Higgins Matthaei
Faith Matters

I came upon this quote this morning and it stirred me. Somehow, this time of year--the holidays, are always an uneasy time for me. On one hand, nothing gives me greater joy than spending time with friends and family and nothing gives me greater pleasure than giving gifts to people that I love (especially my wife, to whom I love to give gifts that she would never consider practical or prudent). On the other hand, no time of year (with the cold weather and rampant commercialism) better illuminates for us the divisions that exist between people. The poor are never more visible than during the holidays and yet most of us resign ourselves to token gifts and empty promises to do something during the coming year. During this Advent season as we celebrate Hope, Peace, Love, Joy and ultimately, Christ, I have been forced to confront in myself what's painfully obvious to opponents of the Christian faith: if we are a Christian people where's the HPLJ to celebrate?


Two answers that I have come to embrace for myself: 1) There's a lot more Hope, Peace, Love and Joy being enacted than I realize. Good things, or good works, or acts of mercy and kindness ARE taking place every day...in back alleys, in offices, in churches, in the inner city and in the suburbs. We have to look hard to find these events because as people we are often drawn to stare at death and destruction but more often we are distracted by the allure of the shiny, the new and the attainable "dream." I, for one, have wasted way to much time thinking about stuff that I want this holiday season and not enough time to celebrate the hope that comes from Jesus living in others. 2) Only a merciful God would make the promises of restoration and salvation to a people as flawed and horrible as we are. There is hope for peace on the earth because the kingdom of God is coming, because the kingdom of God is here. I have a lot of things I'd like to ask God about this, but my faith is strengthened by the evidence of hope and by the absence of it: we are always in need of more and the season of Advent reminds us that Christ is our hope.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Reindeer Games

end of the year


It's been an atrocious season for sports, so I now turn most of my fan-attention to music as I try and navigate the yearly ritual that end-of-the-year lists have become for me. As the 49ers, Giants, Tottenham Hot Spur and Liverpool continue to perform poorly, the hope shifts to Radiohead, Modest Mouse and The National.

Happy Monday.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Hope and Despair during Advent

I really don't understand why some people post reviews on iTunes like "I expected this album to be not so great but I'm pleasantly surprised that it's quite good." I guess it's because I don't buy albums that I don't think will be any good. In fact (personal confession here), I usually only buy records that I suspect MIGHT wind up being great or albums by artists that I've liked forever and therefore, even though I might be apprehensive, I know that they could be amazing. The other albums in my collection are either given to me by friends or I got them from record labels or blogs or other avenues that don't personally cost me much.

I suppose, my music expectations might be some kind of metaphor for life as I see it. Most every day, I believe, has the potential to be incredible. Incredibly productive, incredibly enlightening, incredibly out of the ordinary. Needless to say, I am often disappointed.

But still I soldier on, because many of these days are in fact, special and many are even better than I expected. Some, however, are a lot worse.

I read today that hope is the lens through which we can see/imagine a better world. I believe it.

But HOPE, though it always exists apart from emotion, can sometimes feel like despair. Especially when we're continually disappointed.

I am incapable of encouraging myself during all the times when hope looks like despair, when love looks like hate and when education looks like disaster. That's why I'm thankful that God gives me other people who walk through this elation/desolation cycle with me. During this first week of advent, when Christians everywhere celebrate hope and coming of a savior, I will try to remember that sometimes hope isn't just a concept, it is often embodied in people helping other people. Sometimes hope looks like me. Maybe more often it looks like you.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

friday morning, coffee, donuts, death, rejection part 2


Lost my wireless connection and didn't get to post part 2 of the blog from Friday morning. I've got a lot more to write about this but some more processing and now some rest are in order. We're back in Fresno...

During this morning’s session on the “Feminization of HIV”, a woman from Saddleback church shared her story about being assaulted and raped and consequently HIV positive and later developing AIDS. Her story was remarkable in that she has been able to survive and now has two grandchildren thanks to the ARV drugs. The most heartbreaking part of the story though was when she shared that she had been asked to step down from the choir at her church and her husband had to give up being a Royal Ranger commander. Not only was her story unbearably sad but that perked our ears up because she was clearly talking about an AG church discriminating against someone with AIDS. Horrible, unacceptable and disgusting behavior. No excuses for that and I’m embarrassed to be a part of an organization that would act that way. She did share that being diagnosed had led her into depression and alcohol abuse, so maybe that was related in some way. However, like I said, no excuse for that. I don’t often encounter situation where I feel compelled to claim the moral high ground and browbeat others. I fail people every day but that there has been a systemic failure on the part of churches, including our own assembly, to adequately love, support and care for those living with HIV/AIDS.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Friday morning, coffee, donuts, death, rejection part 1

It's raining buckets on us today; though I've previously lived in Orange County for over four years...it seems like I can count on one hand how many times I've actually had to walk around in the rain. That's either because (according to Albert Hammond) "It Never Rains in Southern California" or because (a song I should write) "You Never Have to Walk in Southern California."

Yesterday was a pretty phenomenal day at the conference, though I must take issue with the organization of the sessions which are structured something like one of those torture scenes in movies (or likely real life somewhere in Guantanamo) where they lock your eye lids open and force you to watch hours of information. The speaker list has included everyone from Senator Hillary Clinton (I was all prepared to live blog her speech yesterday and then couldn't take my computer into the session) to UN Undersecretary General Peter Piot to Her Excellency Mrs. Maureen Mwanawasa, First Lady of Zambia and Her Excellency Mrs. Jeanette Kagame, First Lady of Rwanda. Saddleback, though in their zeal to educate us, have neglected to put enough interactive elements in place in order to allow more conversation and input from the many church leaders who are here and are not famous for publishing books. In spite of this though, I believe this to be the most important conference I have ever been to.

Senator Clinton's speech yesterday detailed a comprehensive and ambitious plan to fund further AIDS research and treatment and to end Malaria permanently by the end of a possible second term in office. I continue to be impressed by Governor Huckabee, as he seems to be a genuinely compassionate conservative, both on immigration and AIDS. Certainly, this conference is impacting our national policy agenda this week at least and I think that is amazing.
I briefly met David Miller yesterday, who is one of the funniest, bluntest people I've ever heard speak. He is a board member of The AIDS Institute and is involved in some very radical activism and civil disobedience. Check out the AIDS Institute website.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Real OC?

It's more than a little surreal to be back in the familiar confines of Orange County, staying in the comfortable Marriott Courtyard, walking the plush walkways of the beautiful Saddleback church and talking so much about a chronic and often fatal disease that is without question, the greatest crisis in history. Today's snack spread in the courtyard between sessions probably would have put Martha Stewart to shame...the only thing truly missing being good coffee, but probably they have some kind of secret deal with Starbucks where the church agrees to serve substandard coffee in order to not threaten the corporate giant. This is Orange County after all, the capital of Big Business and conservative politics.

There was an article today in the OC Register about some of the controversy generated by Rick and Kay Warren's invitation of Obama last year to the summit and Senator Clinton at this year's. The piece mentioned that a new(er) generation of christian leaders may no longer be using abortion and gar rights issues as a litmus test for who is acceptable to work with. I say Amen to that, if it really is true. One thing I know to be true, as was mentioned by Steve Haas this morning...a lot of defrosting needs to take place in the hearts of our church communities so that we can begin to look beyond the stigma of AIDS and start to minister to people not statistics, regardless of how they got the disease. It's kind of amazing that the church has made such a big deal out of how people get sick with HIV/AIDS. In fact, I can almost bet you that a lifestyle of drug use and smoking could get you lung cancer and few, if any, people would ask you how you got it. If you've got AIDS, it has seemed to me, people care about whether you got it from sex, homosexual sex, or drug use. Which is kind of unfair considering the number one killer in America is heart disease and we know that disease is largely preventable if we'd eat better and exercise more.

what to do?

I am struggling with how to process all of this information and all of these stories into action. One day into the conference and it's clear that my battery and typing skills are ineffective with keeping the information stream constantly open. It's overwhelming ...

all these deaths,
all these preventable infections.

For the last few years, I do believe that Bekah and I have been taking action directly/indirectly on the AIDS pandemic, mostly through our work with poverty-eradication organizations. It began very marginally, with us getting involved in 2003 with World Vision's work in Zambia, to our work with Freedom From Hunger in Davis and working to educate teens through participating in WV's 30-hour famine for AIDS and poverty relief in Africa to our advocacy for the ONE campaign. However, none of this seems sufficient, none of this seems to be enough. I know, instinctively, that's it can never be enough. To stop AIDS and eliminate poverty, to care for the worlds 143 million orphans, it will take nearly everyone. But if the church is the hope if the world and I do agree with Bill Hybels on that one, than I need to figure out how to turn personal advocacy into church activism.


Steve Haas, Vice President of World Vision Church Relations, spoke in his address this morning about how he's become something of a pariah at dinner parties because of his conviction about the HIV/AIDS crisis. I'm sure there's a bit of hyperbole there but maybe those of us who care about this issue could stand with being a little more annoying at social gatherings for the sake of the dying poor.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

HIV --

Today, after lunch and an exhaustive pre-summit on Orphan Care that will take me awhile to digest, I decided to take the free HIV test that was being offered. Fortunately, my test was negative. I was almost 99.8% sure that there was no way I would test positive since I haven't used ID drugs and have only had one sexual partner. Still, it was a little nerve-racking none the less. I was surprised to learn that there is a test that can be done in only ten minutes and the avaiablity of this test means that everyone should be encouraged to get tested.

I forgot my power supply so this is the likely the last blog entry before tonight.

143,000,000

It's not a statistic that you hear much outside of non-profits and medical NGOs but there are 143,000,000 orphaned and abandoned children in the world today. Any discussion of AIDS cannot ignore that the largest factor in children being orphaned is HIV/AIDS.

There are many shocking statistics and the problem is much too overwhelming to be summed up with only stats. We are kind of statistically numb in America anyway. However, 143 million, to these ears, is a stat that represents an impossible challenge. One that, also from my perspective, is a crisis that can only be solved by people who will co-operate with a God who gives significance to every one of the 143,000,000.

Another set of un-ignorable stats courtesy of Angela Wakhweya, Senior Technical Officer in the Orphans and other Vulnerable Children Unit, Prevention and Mitigation Division, Family Health International...

90% of all orphans are Sub-Saharan Africa.

In America, 99% of children born to HIV mothers do not have the virus. In Africa, that number is reversed.

Global Summit on AIDS and the Church


This Wednesday through Friday, I'm attending the Global Summit on AIDS and the Church at Saddleback in Lake Forest, CA. We got into town yesterday afternoon and got to spend some time drinking coffee (herbal tea for Bekah and squash for Amelia) at the Gypsey Den before going over to our great friends John and Lindy Thomas place for dinner.

I'm extremely privileged to be attending this conference and will simulcast (simul-blog?) here and at the northparkchurch young adults blog to share what I'm learning with you if anyone's interested.

This morning's extra session is on Orphan care...more to come.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Black Friday

instead of shopping on this marvelously horrible holiday that black friday has become, bekah and I are making stuff and making recordings...oh and hanging christmas decorations in between feeding Amelia carrots and cheerios. all of which has got to be more punk rock than waiting in line outside best buy at three in the morning.

so anyway though, i'm not trying to criticize you if you're surfing the web on your iphone right now whilst shopping at the mall, so definitely try and have a good time if that's what you are up to. just for me, i have the bad aftertaste of commercialism and materialism in my mouth and we're trying to wash it out with some creative endeavors like making wallets out of paint swatches. surely the disillusionment is partly my own fault for watching tv and looking at billboards. we should just move to siberia.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving everyone, I read an article today that mentioned how families are cutting back on spending this year, some due to circumstances, others in order to make a kind of personal statement about rejecting at least some of the commercialism and materialism of the holidays. Jim Taylor, a market researcher, mentioned that he feels "There's a kind of emotional recession out there." "It's the war, the economy, the falling dollar and a kind of vague sense everything isn't quite right with the world." If you're anything like me, you might identify with this sense of uneasiness about the current state of things here and abroad.

However, as much trouble as there is in the world, I take great comfort in knowing that as bad as things may get, I have friends and I have family who are the closest thing to certain propositions (humanly speaking) that I have to hold onto this life. Meaning, it's likely that bad things will not not happen to me or us and it's likely that they will not happen. I don't really know which, likely, a lot of both. I can't say either with much degree of certainty. But I would more likely bet that my friends will not abandon me, no matter which of the former is more true than the alternate possibility. For that, I am abundantly thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving...see you next week.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

budget graphic design



Today, while baking some pies at home for the Beacon Society I got inspired to hijack a piece of design for my own purposes and ended up coming up with this Obey-inspired flyer for an event we're hosting in December. In all honesty, making flyers, websites and videos (filming, not editing) is one of my favorite things to do. I rarely have time though and others are more skilled, plus it's a great way for creative people to get involved. Anyhow, when I get the chance, it's a rush to make promotional images and come up with the occasional marketing slogan. And hopefully Obey won't sue me...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

thursday; smog check; facebook; trees;

I remember when it was the thing to shave lines in your hair...now apparently, it's the thing to do again. Home sales and prices are plummeting and the leaves are falling off the trees. Somehow I added too many applications to my facebook account. But I'm thankful...that my car passed the smog test, that my daughter is healthy, that my family is intact and that I am blessed with so many amazing friends.

Thanksgiving is on the mind, I'm speaking about Suffering, Thanksgiving and Wonder on Sunday at Northpark and it will only be the second time ever that I'll do the same talk three times in a row. Tonight we'll have a pre-thanksgiving feast at our house, Saturday we'll be out at Serve Fresno Day helping elderly people with their yard work or cleaning up schools. Bekah had a cyst removed yesterday and is now recovering from the operation so Amelia is right beside me at work, playing with toys and generally awed by the world she's just discovering. It seems that she just learned how to throw things outside of the pack n' play much to her delight. She loves her remote control that doesn't match up with any electronics owned by the Townsend family. I'm sure that Suffering is not over for me, but for now I'm thankful that so much of it is in the rearview mirror and I'd like to learn to rediscover some of the wonder that I used to have.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

dusk comes on and I struggle to stop thinking of you


It's been a Superdrag kind of week...between John Davis' new solo album and the interest generated by a reunion "tour" (mostly weekend shows in the midwest and east coast). Now all we can do is hope and cross our pudgy power pop fingers in the hopes that they'll come out to California soon. I might even be persuaded to drive to Arizona or Nevada even. My only chance to ever see them live was during their final tour before the hiatus when my girlfriend (now wife) her brother and her brothers friend drove across Orange County to Anaheim but the show sold out last minute...well, we were late after all.

If you aren't familiar with the greatest (and least heralded) band of the 90s not named Radiohead or U2, check out this treasure trove of riches discovered during the work week.

Superdrag Daytrotter live session mp3s
http://www.daytrotter.com/article/1064/free-songs-superdrag
Superdrag WOXY Lounge Act appearance
http://woxy.lala.com/music/loungeacts/index.php?id=224
John Davis interview and mp3s from I am Fuel you are Friends blog
http://fuelfriends.blogspot.com/2007/10/time-for-one-more-drag-interview-with.html

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

happy halloweenhead


Today was a pretty crazy day and though I'm too tired to fully tell the tale of our chevrolet equinox problems, it ended up happily enough. Unfortunately, not so happy for your friend and mine, Weston Grillo, who apparently fell trying to help his boss Dave build a pirate ship in the front yard of Dave's house. Sprained ligaments are sooo 2007. I know because I'm just getting over one myself. With Amelia in her little duck suit, we stopped by and saw the ship and pirate Dave for ourselves. It was pretty impressive and therefore probably worth a little pain.

Now it's about eight pm and the trick or treaters are mostly done I think...speaking of which, doesn't it seem as though there are fewer and fewer people out on halloween? Maybe they're all at Harvest Parties or something. Here's a picture of Ryan Adams...have a safe night everyone.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

nick burns, your company's computer guy

Just a short post today in honor of your friend and mine, Nick Burns. Someone told me about this sketch today and I had to come home and check it out like immediately.

Tonight, we're starting some new recordings for the overdubs ep. Excited even though I'm tired.

Monday, October 29, 2007

the jealous sound


I finally got my hands on an official copy of Day Three of My New Life by Knapsack, I've been meaning to get a copy of the second album by Davis' finest band ever for some time. Previously, I only had some questionable quality mp3s that must have been ripped in 1999 (remember 96kbps--near cd quality?). Thanks to emusic, I now have the official and great sounding record. I know, I know I probably could've just ordered it from Amazon like two years ago but when I buy something I like to have it right away, I'm a American after all. The record is produced by Mark Trombino, who you might of heard of from his work with Jimmy Eat World among others,
and is an impassioned, rough slice of cathartic post-punk and emo (from way back when emo-core was actually considered cool and sounded nothing like the lame "emo" bands today).

Anyway, speaking of Knapsack, does anybody and your mother know if The Jealous Sound are ever going to release the album they've supposedly been recording for The Militia Group Record Label? For the uninitiated, here are some free mp3s from last.fm to help you understand why many of us have been waiting for this record for over four years now.

The Jealous Sound "The Fold Out" from Kill Them With Kindness
The Jealous Sound "For Once in Your Life" from Kill Them With Kindness

Thursday, October 25, 2007

conversations

Wow, it's been a crazy week and it's only Thursday. The rest of the weekend is going to be filled with at least two engagements every day...but they all have some fun potential and fun potential is an important indicator for me in predicting the quality of a weekend. You'll have to excuse me, I've been defending my beliefs to Justin over the phone, haha. Speaking of which, if you are reading any of these posts (mostly the ones with discussion-worthy content, not the ones that say I stayed home with my sick daughter and wife on wednesday) don't hesitate to comment and/or agree/disagree. Really, I love the feedback. Interestingly though, I had to call Justin and clear some things up with him over the phone, so for all you mosaic minds, Internet communication is not the end-all...sometimes you really do have to speak on the phone or in person.

In a sense, I am not fully pleased with my efforts in my tuesday blog ... however, the ensuing conversation has been far more productive than I imagined when I first wrote the entry. Ultimately, looking back on Tuesday (when my wife was just getting sick, as oppossed to full blown sick) what I guess I really intended to say, could have been said in one sentence, and would have been... "People don't care that much about what we believe, they care more about what we do." or "Believing the right things is important, but the American church has done a lot of believing the right things but not done too much about it (gross generalization alert!) and the result is people leaving the church. (?)" Anyway, that too, seems pretty heavy handed.

In lighter news, some day I will make it to the movies and then I will see...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

reasons not to show up

In preparation for this coming Sunday, I've been doing a lot of thinking about what keeps people away from church. By church, I just mean a bunch of believers gathering on Sunday mornings/evenings (or Friday or Saturday) specifically. [you'd have to consult a panel of theologians to get to the bottom of what keeps people out of Church capital c]

One thing that strikes me anecdotally at least, is that most people don't have too much of a problem with what churches believe. In a few instances yes, views on right to life issues, homosexuality, or evolution might make people angry enough to not come back. But overwhelmingly, these are not topics that are brought up on Sundays...typically, most Christians or "people interested in learning about following Jesus" wouldn't find too much theology to disagree with in most evangelical-type churches in America. It seems to me that many people don't take issues with beliefs but with actions or with style(two very different concepts). "That church just wasn't a friendly place." "They don't have anything for young people there." "The pastor just seemed out of touch with the rest of the world." "All they talked about was money and tithing." "They had the nerve to talk about politics." See what I mean? What are your experiences with people who won't attend or have left churches? Are they fed up with heresy and bad doctrine, or did they not like the music pastor's hair? I don't mean to make light of the reason people choose not to be part of faith communities, some people experience incredible rejection and pain, others just get pissed. But short of having any substantial answers to this question, it does seem that to most people (Bible scholars and seminary students aside) put more emphasis on what we do than on what we believe. If this is even remotely true, what do we do about it?

I could be wrong though. Let me know if I am off in erroneous-tangential land.


Monday, October 22, 2007

body piercing saved my life

Today, I finished reading Body Piercing Saved My Life, inside the phenomenon of christian rock ... and loved it. It's been awhile since I read a book as fascinating and as interesting to me, probably because the author Andrew Beaujon combines two of my favorite topics: pop-cultural criticism and the strange, irritating and mystifyingly profitable evangelical christian culture that I grew up in. More than anything I've read recently, this book, without intending to (Beaujon is an avowed non-believer) sheds more light on the struggle of being "in the world but not of it" by profiling such a diverse group of Christian and post-christian artists. Fascinatingly, none of those profiled renounce their faith in Jesus, only in a church and industry that has gotten away (or was never near) from it's ultimate purpose, most of them would likely never agree on what the purpose of "christian" art is to begin with. Much more on that book in the future ...

This weekend, friday night specifically, we were in a hotel room watching tv and happened to watch America's Next Great Band. Unfortunately, I found that I could not tear my eyes away from the train-wreck spectacle of terrible bands parading across the nevada desert. Johnny Reznik? Way too nice. However accidental the viewing was, I hate to say it but we'll probably watch every week. And...yes, most of the bands were crap but not The Muggs!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

bicycle

in an almost immediate response to the post I just wrote::
I had to go and listen to the song, "bicycle" by plankeye which I mentioned the other day. only christian rock can produce a rebel song about being married, riding a bike, and worship.

I have a wife, and together we live, in a very small room
Yesterday she lost, her car broke down, and now I ride a bicycle
You say, I told you so, you were much too young to get married.
But I say, You're way too old, and when did you stop living anyway?
As I ride my bike, with my safety helmet on, and white tennis shoes,
they stare at me but I see through new eyes, or maybe you just don't remember
This place that I'm supposed to be, is not the chair in front of a desk in front of a mirror
Can't you see that it's not here or there or anywhere
But in speaking distance with God,and where can you go that's too far?
Because I can worship him anywhere

back on the bicycle

it's thursday afternoon, the end of my work week, and I've got a splitting headache and a general feeling of ...blah. which leads me to remember that feelings, though important, are often unreliable. in the midst of exciting things for our northpark community, in the company of a rapidly growing and constantly delightful daughter, with the knowledge that I have a core of friends who will never disown me or sell me out...still I feel sort of discouraged. maybe it's the extreme amount of electronic correspondence I've done this week. maybe I'm just tired.

perspective is important at times like this and I try to remember what my good friend Paul always used to say, "extremes are easy." if I base my life and overall happiness level too much on my feelings, I'll just simply swing, like a pendulum, back and forth back and forth, blown and tossed by the wind. I think it's important to not ignore our feelings or to deny them but to remember that in eternal terms, feelings are temporary. and everything is constantly changing. for me, it's important to express it and then move on to something else...like cycling.

i'm back on the bike, wearing a ridiculous looking helmet but with a better view if what's really important and hopefully a cautiously optimistic outlook for the rest of our "cycling" adventures.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I called our Senators Boxer and Feinstein

If you're anything at all like me, you hate talking on the phone to both automated machines and customer service representatives. In fact, I almost get sick to my stomach when the timie comes to call one of my student loan lenders, credit card accounts, or Cal State University representatives...partly because they have a whole computer file on me and I know nothing about them. It's an unequal power relationship.

However, speaking of unequal power relationships, billions of people live in poverty and their governments are enslaved to debts that hamper even the basic functions of government such as education and health care. SO, it seems that the least I could do would be to out aside my discomfort momentarily and encourage Senators Boxer and Feinstein to support the Jubilee Act, S.2166. Thanks to the ONE campaign the process was relatively painless, I called this number, 1-800-786-2663 and was given a choice to be connected automatically to either Senator Feinstein or Senator Boxer. I chose Boxer and was directed to her office, where I was then given the option of leaving a message or speaking to a representative. I left a message...Then I repeated the steps and was connected to Senator Feinstein, her office put me on hold and said that if I remained on hold for more than two minutes the call would be terminated and I would have to try again. Boxer clearly has a better phone system. However, about 30 seconds later...I was connected to Jeffrey and gave a real live person the same spiel I gave Boxer's answering machine. Remarkably, I was kind of nervous, even though I speak in front of people nearly every week. Jeffrey was polite but in a bit of hurry, understandable , because they are probably getting a bunch of calls and just wanted to know what my zip code was before he hung up...

Now I'm going to go to lunch...maybe I'll try my House of Reps. when I get back.

Blog Action Day 2007/Global Day of Action Against Poverty


So, I kind of screwed up and forgot to post about caring more for the environment yesterday, as it was Blog Action Day around the world. However, I/we did actually did launch a new campaign, Plea for Plastic, on the Northpark Wordpress site and myspace page yesterday so really, I did participate after all. More info about the campaign and effort which reached at least 14,000,000 readers is available at the Blog Action site.

In other news related to social justice, today is The Global Day of Action Against Poverty...I got the following email from ONE. I'm going to call right now, are you?

Dear Ryan,

Today is our day—the Global Day of Action Against Poverty—the day for the billion people around the world who live in extreme poverty.

Today, ONE members and activists from partner organizations are walking the halls of Congress delivering tens of thousands of letters—most of them from members like you—about the Jubilee Act.

Today, Reverend David Duncombe is eating for his first full day after his 40 day fast.

Today, by making thousands of phone calls to Congress asking them to cosponsor the Jubilee Act, we can make the difference between passage and failure for this crucial piece of legislation.

You can make a call in just one minute by:

  1. Looking over this set of talking points
  2. Calling 1-800-786-2663
  3. Going here to register your call—this helps us keep track of which offices need to receive more calls.

The Jubilee Act calls for debt relief for some of the world's poorest nations. Experience proves that debt relief for countries committed to investing in their people's future is one of the most effective ways to fight extreme poverty. And it's easy to see why.

Haiti spends twice as much repaying debt as it does on health care. Eliminating this debt would allow Haiti to spend more on programs that would help the extremely poor like Tanzania did in 2000. When Tanzania's debt was canceled, that government was able to eliminate school fees, sending 1.6 million children to school almost overnight.

Since we started taking action on the Jubilee Act last week, key Senators introduced a companion bill, a critical step in the process. That's just the beginning. If we make our voices heard on Capitol Hill, if we get the phones ringing off the hook, we can put momentum behind the Jubilee Act. And it all starts with you.

Please dial 1-800-786-2663 and ask your elected officials to co-sponsor the Jubilee Act.

A billion people around the world live in extreme poverty. They don't have a voice in Congress. Let's lend them ours. On this Global Day of Action Against Poverty, take a minute, make a call, and help to save their lives.

Thank you,

Susan McCue, ONE.org


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

new web/blog site for young adults, myspace takeover


Our Northpark push to take over the web continues: Rhonda Brewer is now manning the myspace profile, so I've turned my attention to creating a young adult-friendly sub-domain/site to link to from the northpark site...and presto! Northparkchurch Young Adults is born. check it out if you're so inclined, literally HUNDREDS of other people are flocking there now...or one person is clicking it a hundred times.

Our friends at The Quest Church are doing a pretty cool thing to celebrate Halloween in the city of Clovis this year. We're going to be playing out there as well. We, being the overdubs. You can find out more about Halloween on Pollasky at The Quest web site.

Friday, October 12, 2007

my eyes are burning

My eyes are burning from the onions that bekah's cutting for yellow curry. I enjoy yellow curry very much and with the rain and cold outside it seems very appropriate. Tonight, Wes and I are going to see Matt Hopper at the legendary live-music venue Kuppajoe. Seriously, how long has that place been open...10 years or more? I suppose I could look it up. First thing, both families are going to eat some curry and then we'll leave the kids and wives to sleep and watch a movie respectively. Adult life really can be pretty great most of the time. Might even be able to squeeze in a drink at the Brew Co. too.
Speaking of my eyes, ever since I wrote the entry about rejoicing in Christ being proclaimed no matter what the motives or veracity of the proclaimer, I've run into some seriously crazy Christians and had a hard time putting this principle into practice. When I say run into, I mostly mean that my more cynically minded friends have been sending me bizarre you tube videos that I'm really tempted to post here but that I know should never be seen in the first place. Man, if only Jesus knew what people would do in his name...well I guess he probably did. I will say this and then leave you with a couple of great shots that Bekah took at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival last Friday. "Ding Dong the witch is dead, the wicca witch, the wicked witch is dead."

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

In Rainbows, Caisson Disease

It's that time again...presidential election season is on us FOR THE ENTIRE NEXT YEAR. Is anyone else just a little discouraged about politics in America? For me, it's hard not to curl up a fetal ball of futility and try to outlast the long nuclear winter. Maybe by next summer, I will turn into a political junkie scouring the web for interesting, under-reported tidbits of information. Then again, maybe by next summer, the rapture will take place and Tim Lahaye and Jerry B. Jenkins will be left behind. In other, more interesting news,
Radiohead, one of my favorite bands have released their latest record, In Rainbows for a sliding price scale that varies from nothing to whatever you're willing to pay for it. Apparently, the site received so much traffic that it crashed earlier today...prompting me to download 7 of 10 tracks so far from various mp3 blogs. I plan on purchasing the cd though, when it comes out.

Prior to listening to most of In Rainbows, initial impression being that I REALLY like this record, I spent some time with the back catalog in the form of a b-sides album courtesy of
The Good, The Bad, and The Unknown. There's nothing better than Bends-era Radiohead in my humble opinion and several of these songs, "India Rubber," "Killer Cars," and "Banana Co." sent a shock wave of nostalgia through me. I suddenly realized, I have been a serious fan of Radiohead for over ten years and bought CD SINGLES to get these b-sides when they came out. My friends Jason Nill and Justin Landis can surely remember the manic pawing through cd bins full of overpriced imports and bootlegs. I once paid $32 for a Radiohead 2000 bootleg and Radiohead Unplugged set me back $26. Speaking of Unplugged some of these b-side tracks have seen even better life as Thom Yorke/Jonny Greenwood acoustic numbers. I'll have to track that aged CDR down and see if it still works. The music landscape has changed. According to our culture's accelerated pace of nostalgia, I am old at 27. Happy Wednesday.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

the noisettes, Rescue Mission

This afternoon, Amelia and I stayed home together while Bekah taught piano. Amelia has ear infections, so she isn't the cheeriest of company but I enjoyed spending time with her nonetheless. We also discovered a new band we didn't know about, the noisettes kind of a punk/funk white stripes with a female soul singer. Mom, was not a fan when she got home but Amelia and I played with the colored rings and danced around. Time to go to the Fresno Rescue Mission banquet, I better put on a better shirt.

Monday, October 8, 2007

"hard rain" is going to fall, eventually

I stumbled onto this giving opportunity today...affordable laptops for children. Check it out, Give 1, Get 1.

The Shout Out Louds new album Our Ill Wills is simply fantastic, whether you like the Cure or not. If you're one of those hype machine types, search for the song "Hard Rain." I don't know whether it's on there or not. This past weekend, this record was the soundtrack for our many adventures in Oakland, Berkeley, San Francisco and of course, Emeryville. The first-ever weekend away was a spectacular success and the HSB festival pretty great. Look for me to post some pictures from it soon. Unfortunately, when we got home Amelia was sick and today Bekah took her to the doctor and found that she has a double ear-infection, so if you are the praying type...please remember to pray for her. Normal kid-stuff but difficult none-the-less and we have been awake for what seems like two days straight now.

This should be a productive week for the Living Room. Mid-week, I plan to post a second part for my "Rejoicing in what matters" thought-stream.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

tomorrow: hardly strictly bluegrass festival

Tomorrow Bekah and I head out of town sans Amelia for the first time. To celebrate her 28th birthday(Oct.1) we're going to a big festival in Golden Gate Park called the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival. Tomorrow's headliner is Jeff Tweedy of Wilco, Golden Smog and Uncle Tupelo. Haven't see him solo before so I'm pretty excited...plus we have a great hotel on the Berkeley Marina. Too bad we'll miss Emmylou on Sunday but we have to get back to reality sometime. Here's the whole lineup: (I just found out about T Bone Burnett and Friends!)

FRIDAY The morning is a special educational program featuring The Abrams Brothers and PMW for local schools (and the general public) as part of the Daniel Pearl World Music Days. The afternoon features very special guests Augie March, Buddy Miller, T Bone Burnett & Friends (John Mellencamp, Neko Case, & Doyle Bramhall II), and Jeff Tweedy.

SATURDAY Alison Brown Quartet w/ Special Guest Joe Craven, Allison Moorer, Austin Lounge Lizards, Bela Fleck & The Flecktones feat. Victor Lemonte Wooten, Future Man & Jeff Coffin, Belle Monroe & Her Brewglass Boys, Blanche, Boz Scaggs & The Blue Velvet Band (feat. Buddy Miller, Jon Cleary, Ricky Fataar, Dennis Crouch & Greg Leisz), Chris Smither, Dale Ann Bradley & Coon Creek, Dan Reeder, Fionn Regan, The Flatlanders feat. Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore & Butch Hancock, Gillian Welch, Guy Clark & Verlon Thompson, James McMurtry, Jimmy LaFave, John Prine, Julay Brooks & Richard Brandenburg w/ The Cash Magnets, Keller Williams, The Knitters, Laurie Lewis & The Right Hands, Los Lobos, Michelle Shocked, New Lost City Ramblers, Nick Lowe, The Roan Mountain Hilltoppers, Ricky Skaggs & Bruce Hornsby w/ Kentucky Thunder, Robert Earl Keen, Symphony Bluegrass Ramblers, Shana Morrison & Caledonia, Steve Earle, the subdudes, T Bone Burnett, Teddy Thompson, The Whoreshoes

SUNDAY Bill Callahan, Bill Kirchen & The Hammer of the Honky-Tonk Gods, Charlie Louvin, Dave Alvin & The Guilty Men, David Grisman Bluegrass Experience w/ special guest Curly Seckler, The Del McCoury Band, Doc Watson w/ David Holt & Richard Watson, Dry Branch Fire Squad, Earl Scruggs, Emmylou Harris, Gandalf Murphy & The Slambovian Circus of Dreams, The Hacienda Brothers, Hazel Dickens, Heartless Bastards, Hot Buttered Rum, Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit, Jim Lauderdale, Jody Stecher & Bill Evans / The Secret Life of Banjos, Jorma Kaukonen, Kevin Welch, Kieran Kane & Fats Kaplin, Marley's Ghost, Mekons, Moonalice, Mother Hips, Ned Sublette, Pete Wernick & Flexigrass, Poor Man's Whiskey, Railroad Earth, Red Wine, The Sadies, Songwriter Circle (w/ Chris Smither, David Olney, Ray Wylie Hubbard & Steve Young), Steep Canyon Rangers, The Wronglers

Neko Case flash player:




http://www.nekocase.com

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Rejoicing in what matters

Some proclaim Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from goodwill. These proclaim Christ out of love, knowing that I have been put here for the defense of the gospel; the others proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition.... What does it matter? Just this, that Christ is proclaimed in every way, whether out of false motives or true; and in that I rejoice.

Philippians 1:15-18

Though my inbox gets cluttered with “Verse and Voice” daily emails from Sojourners, I consider it more than worth it because I am so often challenged by the verses they select to send out. Regarding this passage from Philippians chapter 1, I was humbled to recall how often I’ve judged televangelists, mega-church pastors, and rebellious emerging types based on my interpretations of their motives. What Paul writes here convicts me not only of my judgments of others (clearly denounced as wrong throughout the Bible) but even more exposes my lack of conviction regarding the power of the message and the life-changing implications of the Good News. False motives, bad theology, lack of cultural understanding, even lies, are not enough to blunt the message or to stop the mission. As flawed and irresponsible people, we are all great at pointing the finger … but the truth is that we are all competitive, we are all selfish, and we are all a mixture of goodwill and bad intentions. Paul calls us to rejoice in the message regardless of the delivery. I am going to pray that God allows me to have a large heart for all his people and to focus attention on the things that I can control.    

 

Ryan Townsend

Young Adults/College Pastor

Northpark Community Church

2297 E. Shepherd Ave

Fresno, CA 93720

559-322-7200 ext. 19

 

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

it's a wonderful life

a friend sent me this video in a mass email. i normally read mass emails about two weeks after they are sent, in case you were wondering. but this one caught my eye...

Apparently Whitestone Motion Pictures is a relatively new company and they shot this video in three days. For more info, whitestone mp website

consumerism: the musical

Monday, October 1, 2007

bye bye Giants...see you next year

Like a particularly bad Pentecostal Christian summer camp experience, this season will leave SF Giants like myself with a bad taste in our mouths but the dangled carrot of “better luck next year kid, maybe you’ll get to kiss your secret crush and the camp speaker won’t try to make you cough up demons,” will likely keep us coming back year after painful year. Sure, our collective minds WANT to believe that things are going to be fine and the young players are going to get us right back to the World Series but seriously, what are the chances? Of course, I did end up marrying a secret crush from a Christian camp.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

movies worth mentioning?

I'm not a big fan of movie companies reaching out to churches for $$ and buzz, however, it does seem like this might be a pretty special movie based on the story behind the film and the film's story. Bella opens October 26th and I'll probably go see it that weekend. for more info bella the movie website...



Bella

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

bicycle crash

 

Monday evening I crashed my bicycle on my ride home from work. I was riding along the sidewalk in front of Centennial park on Shepherd Ave. and hit a rock or something that caused me to spin out of control, fly headfirst into the concrete, and roll onto my back into the bushes. I’m very fortunate and blessed to have walked away with a mild concussion, bruises and scrapes, a head wound (pictures to follow when I can get them off bekah’s camera phone) and a bruised wrist. Several lessons can certainly be taken away from this incident…

 

Lesson #1: Always wear a helmet.

Lesson #2: Remember your cell phone so you don’t have to stumble, bleeding profusely, all the way back to work to call your wife.

Lesson #3: Don’t make fun of your venerable boss, Bob Willis, for falling off his bike or you might just fall off yours. Only one hour earlier I had yelled as he peddled away from Northpark, “Don’t fall off your bike!” Turns out that was a pretty foolish move.

Lesson #4: All joking aside, it was a pretty intense, high speed collision with the ground and I am so thankful not to be injured worse…no guitar or video games for a week or two but otherwise…no serious harm.

 

Related song: Bicycle by Plankeye, off the album Commonwealth.

 

 

 

Sunday, September 23, 2007

list of reasons to watch/not watch tv

Often the two are one and the same. My observations from Sunday night.

 

  1. Comments like “I’m smart. I read books. I play beer pong. I party with the boys.” From America’s Top Model Season 903.
  2. Hilary Clinton’s hairstyle: consistently bland/inoffensive since 2002.
  3. All the SPIN you can handle in the alleged NO SPIN ZONE.
  4. Endless SNL reruns.
  5. Tony Romo acting all suave and etc.

 

 

 

Friday, September 21, 2007

the living room comp #1

Last night we were up until one and then amelia decided to get up around four-thirty but we did have an excellent small group at our house last night and I made the following mix which I thought I'd share. the accompanying project playlist has most of the songs plus a couple of bonus tracks...

i'm alone in the house for a couple of days starting today at 2:00 pm so you may hear a lot from me this weekend, both here and at theoverdubs.com, myspace.com/theoverdubs and myspace.com/ryantownsend.

the national "all the wine"
rogue wave "chicago x 12"
tokyo police club "your english is good"
beck "time bomb"
jose gonzalez "down the line"
birds and batteries "ocarina"
matt hopper "head to feet"
lucinda williams "make me a pallet on your floor"
minus the bear "ice monster"
the postal service "grow old with me (john lennon)"
dashboard confessional "thick as thieves"
modest mouse "we've got everything"

playlist exclusions/inclusions:
someone needs to give matt hopper some mp3 love, no songs available
included the john lennon version of "grow old with me"
emmylou harris is nice for babies and wives
modest mouse is playing live


Saturday, April 28, 2007

welcome to a conversation

What's there to say, really? Well, it's become apparent to me that certain big ideas seem out of place on myspace ... I have a desire to document and share on some larger topics but if this blog could be more of a conversation than a monologue than that would really be exciting. Hopefully we can communicate about silly-yet-meaningful topics like music and film, life experiences and gasp! politics. It's my belief that all of the above (and much more) are deeply personal, spiritual and silly (in the sense that we, I, take ourselves a bit too seriously more often than not).

So, this blog can hopefully be A conversation. It would be presumptuous to say "welcome to THE conversation."

Ryan Townsend