Thursday, February 28, 2008

7/4 shoreline, I'm 8/5 present

this one is especially for justin, and his infatuation with 7/4 time signatures. I am putting together a mix tape for tonight's celebration b here at northpark and had to include this song. this is a version performed on Conan O'Brien.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

the candidates respond!

On February 12, ONE members started a petition asking each of the 2008 presidential candidates to pledge to visit Africa during his or her first term in office. In just two week, more than 100,000 have added their names to the action.

Here's the petition text:

As a voter in the 2008 Presidential election, I'm asking you to pledge to visit Africa during your first term in office. It is my hope that your trip will increase U.S.-African cooperation, save lives and help build a better, more secure future for millions of the world's poorest people.

Last week and this week, ONE members delivered these petitions to each campaign office in person. See each candidate's official reply below.

Sen. Clinton

"Today I received a petition from more than 85,000 Americans who are members of the ONE campaign. I applaud their activism and share their urgent concern for the challenges of poverty and AIDS, especially in Africa... I am also committed to visiting Africa during my first term as President, to see the progress of our efforts and to assess first hand the necessary strategies to combat disease and poverty..."

[Read her full statement]

Gov. Huckabee

"The ONE Campaign members have been a significant presence throughout this election season and have done a tremendous job of raising awareness of the plight of the poorest people on earth... I will go to Africa in my first term and will continue to make a difference globally by strengthening such initiatives as the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the President's Malaria Initiative and the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria..."

[Read his full statement]

Sen. McCain

"I have received the petition from more than 85,000 Americans who are members of the ONE campaign. I am proud of the volunteer-driven effort behind ONE and the commitment ONE's members have shown toward serving a cause greater than their own self-interest... As president, I look forward to visiting Africa and working with afflicted nations there and elsewhere to communicate that we expect a level of governance, transparency, and effectiveness from them in order to ensure that their aid makes a concrete and positive impact on people's lives."

[Read his full statement]

Sen. Obama

"The ONE campaign stands as an example of how ordinary people can come together to change the world from the bottom up. I was honored to receive a petition from 75,000 ONE campaign members, and share your commitment to fight global poverty and disease - particularly in Africa. I will continue to fight for bipartisan renewal and expansion of the global HIV/AIDS relief program, and look forward to visiting Africa during my first term as President of the United States..."

four posts a week?

I've clearly been lagging behind my stated goal of at least four posts a week. One result of experiencing so many "experiences" lately (Amelia's first birthday, Amelia's first cardiogram, preparing for Amelia's first surgery [ear tubes to fend off ear infections], 28th birthday, speaking in morning services while using a lapel mic and drawing pictures on the white board) is that I have been strangely reticent to write about them. Now those of you that know me, know that I am rarely at a loss for some armchair philosophizing or musical rhapsodizing but I must admit that when it comes to analyzing and understanding my own life stage, lately I have not been inspired to share it all. Perhaps, later I can have more perspective...

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

wednesday; bon iver

in the spirit of trying to do anything but finish my notes for sunday's talk, i had to write this quikc post to say that I am overwhelmed by Bon Iver's For Emma, Forever Ago. what an incredible record... it's been awhile since an artist has leaned out of the headphones and grabbed me by the heart... home recorded during a four month seclusion during a snowy Wisconsin winter, the album sounds about like what you'd expect from that statement, only WAY better. The dynamics are fierce, the songs memorable and the emotional pull undeniable. Enough to make me start using capitalization. I highly recommend you check it out, on iTunes or otherwise. I wonder if the record is available on vinyl?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day Fresno...

So, the bad news is that I missed U2 3-D at the IMAX. Bekah and I were going to celebrate Valentine's Day by seeing it and then going to eat Indian food but now, alas, it's gone.

I don't usually plug the overdubs around these parts too much but I thought I'd share a Valentine's mystery song on our myspace player. (now taken down because it starts automatically)

In other news, tomorrow is my 28th birthday.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

send them to Africa

I just signed a petition to the 2008 presidential candidates urging them to commit to visiting Africa during their first term.

You can help by taking action here:


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

quotations are easier to read than books

(this is why I love Sojo emails even though they threaten to overwhelm my inbox at any given moment)
file this under food for thought/discussion:

Bleeding-heart liberals could accomplish far more if they reached out to build common cause with bleeding-heart conservatives.

- Columnist Nicholas Kristof, in an article titled, "Evangelicals a Liberal Can Love." One example he cites: "In parts of Africa where bandits and warlords shoot or rape anything that moves, you often find that the only groups still operating are Doctors Without Borders and religious aid workers: crazy doctors and crazy Christians."(Source: The New York Times)

Monday, February 11, 2008


a quick perusal of a couple of articles and message board posts have just confirmed for me that grammar, punctuation and more importantly, critical thinking are on the wane in today's society. we should read a few more books. I mean, look at Kerouac, the rules of english need not be followed strictly but if we can no longer communicate coherently, than we are screwed. has anyone seen the film Idiocracy?

where you live should not decide whether you live or whether you die

Today was the final day of the World Vision Experience: AIDS. We had a phenomenal time volunteering and bringing groups over the last few days...thanks to World Vision for being such a great organization and for their commitment to ending the global AIDS pandemic.

I've been really enjoying the latest Jimmy Eat World album during the last week. On my way to Amelia's first birthday party friday night, I actually turned up the stereo and shout/sang falsetto along to the song "Here it Goes." The site of this nearly 28-year-old former punk rocker rolling along in an SUV with a cab full of pink helium balloons singing along to a disco rock song must have been amusing. Now, I'm not sure that Chase This Light is a classic or anything like that. More likely, I have now entered the phase of life where nostalgia dealers will start to sell me old Coke bottles or pictures of Rosie the Riveter. There was a time when Jimmy Eat World's Clarity was the soundtrack to my life. I still can't really dig Bleed American because there are so many painful memories connected to that one. In my opinion though, "Let it Happen" from the latest record is ALMOST as good as "Lucky Denver Mint." So, thank you JEW for the classic retro vibes and did I mention that I just bought skateboarding shoes?

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Ash Wednesday and Hope for the world

Ash Wednesday began early for me with Bekah reminding me, as Amelia began her daily routine of calling for us first in a quiet voice and then eventually quite a loud one, that today is our daughter's first birthday. I knew this of course, but those of you that know me, know that I am not very smart in the mornings so I got up sang happy birthday...and went back to sleep for a few more minutes.

I was up late last night, recording an acoustic version of the overdubs songs "disappointed" and watching Hope +, a short doc film about 4 different people living with HIV/AIDS. It was very moving without being overly cliche and dramatic. Still, I have many unanswered questions about the lives of those living with the disease that are probably not going to be addressed in a 30 minute video.

It seems that God is speaking to our whole community, both the specific faith community at Northpark and extending to the entire city about the problem of HIV/AIDS and what we can do about it. It's an enormous problem that is going to take more than Bill Gates and Bono and Kay Warren and George Clooney working to solve it. But I believe that we can beat this disease and I believe we will.

During Lent this year, I am going to be participating in the 40 Days Toward Justice readings that World Vision's Acting on AIDS are putting out. They summarize the relationship between Justice and the Lent season much better than I can.

"Lent is a 40-day period of spiritual cleansing and preparation that culminates in the celebration of the resurrection of Christ at Easter. Many choose to fast from something to help engage the spiritual cleansing. It is important, however, to remember that Lent is not a time of depravation but of enhancement. We make room in our lives for a deeper relationship to God.

This Lent season, Acting on AIDS is launching 40 Days Toward Justice. This is a time for you and your fellow Acting on AIDS leaders to focus on the justice of God and the role he invites each of us to play. We invite you to use this resource to enhance your observation of Lent. If you've never before observed Lent, consider doing so this year.

40 Days Toward Justice will include a series of scripture readings and a variety of writings from experts at World Vision, InterVarsity, Sojourners and Saddleback Church. We hope this is a resource that will help you and your Acting on AIDS community to enhance your understanding of God's heart for justice and empower you to respond."

Now, very few people have likely made a connection between quiet Lenten reflection and old school punk rock ... but this morning as I began to reflect on the scripture reading I did in Meet The Bible I was listening to a couple of new Counting Crows songs and then the politically charged and openly Christian punk band Crashdog came on. I found the mixture of social concern, righteous anger and active compassion to be more inspiring than any worship anthem I've heard in a long time. The song "My God" in particular has been inspiring to me since I was in the 9th grade. However, in the context of today's election results, in the midst of what sometimes seems like a worldwide genocide, and considering the consistent, systematic oppression of the poor, the song literally brought tears to my eyes.

Sinking in the cold like a falling star
Looking in to where you are
Trying hard to keep it all together
Isolated I'm the modern leper
Drop your eyes at the sight of me
Cuz I been labeled H.I.V
All you wanna know is "How did he get it?"
Justify it, then forget it
Do you really think you're any better?
Cuz your blood don't bear three scarlet letters
When we meet again it'll be in heaven
I hope the shock won't be too sudden

My God doesn't hand out disease as a punishment
My God doesn't look with joy on your torment
My God doesn't draw back His hand from any child
My God lives to touch and heal and reconcile

Here you come with a gun in your hand
Gonna stop abortion at your command
Could ya really see Jesus pull that trigger?
What makes you tick? How do you figure that?
Your murder is some holy thing?
A misguided killer the same as them
Some fight this fire, you fan the flame
Thanks to the press we bear your shame
A full circle we're almost there
Another death, you'll get the chair
We've always refused to understand
Revenge does not belong to any man

My God doesn't need your guns to bring His will
My God doesn't call His people to judge and kill
My God doesn't upon some doctor's grave
My God screams "Vengeance is mine I will repay"

In the corner looking right at her
She's just an object in your world
Your greed exists, so do your intentions
But her interest is your own invention
Woman aren't yours to dominate
We're equal halves of something great
Male and female He created
Eternally linked and integrated

My God doesn't hold man over woman
My God's image lives and breathes in every human
My God doesn't hold man over woman
My God's image lives and breathes in every human

download "My God" by Crashdog
purchase Crashdog at GRR Records, or on iTunes or Emusic

It's incredible to me, how fragile life is. All of our progress couldn't stop nature from taking over 60 lives in the midwest last night. Today, rescue crews sort through the rubble in the hope that people are still alive, though trapped. My daughter reminds me how frail life is in its most basic form. She didn't even exist two years ago, and now separated from care, she couldn't survive.

For me, Jesus is the hope of the world. Though we have been trapped, though we are fragile, though we lost ... through him, we can turn things around. For ourselves yes, individual change is a part of it, but the Gospel teaches that salvation is for others and if we don't share hope than we aren't really following God at all. If we don't reach out to the poor, the outcast, the marginalized and the HIV-infected, we are not even Christian.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Super Fat Tuesday

Today, Fat Tuesday collides with Super Tuesday in a clash of the allegedly meaningful (politics) and the allegedly carnal (Mardi Gras). Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, the begining of the Lenten season that culminates with Easter. What you may or may not already know, is that Fat Tuesday (even when it does not cross over into presidential politics) has long been a day that exists in tension between the sacred and the profane. Though it has become an often lurid celebration with dangerous frat boys and wanna be thugs clashing and some women choosing to downgrade their status to that of purely sexual beings for the night, Fat Tuesday has always been intended as a time to enjoy a few pleasures before the more-serious season of Lent.

For me, Fat Tuesday as consisted of a decadent lunch at Panda Express and some stew beef for dinner. I may even enjoy a 44 oz Pepsi later. During the last several years, Bekah and I have chosen to celebrate Lent in the traditional way and we have found it to be both meaningful and difficult at times, I'll write more about that tomorrow.

At midnight tonight, Amelia turns one year old. That is something worth celebrating. Though I've been out all night partying on a few Fat Tuesdays in the past, I've never been happier than I am now, sitting on the couch watching CNN and listening to Mel talk herself to sleep.

Happy Super Tuesday

Don't forget to get out and vote today, that is, if one could forget with all the racket surrounding the presidential primaries. Pretty exciting stuff though, all the possibilities and permutations. This Super Tuesday, I am politically neutral, not even by choice but because my party affiliation remains Green. I re-registered as an Independent but my absentee ballot came the other day and so I already voted for the Green party candidate of my choosing. There was only one recognizable name on the ballot and you can guess who that might have been. However, I think it's all for the best as I am leaning in the direction of willful neutrality in my position as young adults pastor. Meaning, I'll definitely vote but maybe I'll keep it private from now on.

With all that said, I'd like to offer a "Super Tuesday mix tape" for your listening pleasure today. You can listen along as the early returns start rolling in or as you wait in line at the local elementary school with your wi-fi-enabled gizmo.