Monday, January 23, 2006

"Lay It Down" - new song lyrics

I've been writing this song for a few weeks. I had the first two stanzas written, and they really spoke to how I feel about war and hostile attitudes and then cynicism and complaining about the state of things. I feel like neither of these approaches solve much, and do not address the real needs of our hearts. I was stuck for some time on how to end it, until attending church on Sunday morning. I realized that I feel the same way about the modern church that I feel about war and our unending capacity to whine: so often our methods miss the point. It takes a bit of idealism, but I'm told that hope does not disappoint - and I believe that's the truth. The last stanza revealed itself as I sat on the sand at Solana Beach Sunday afternoon.

Soldier, put down your rifle
Lay it on down
Soldier, there's a life at stake today
Right here in the middle of the battle
Lay it on down
Soldier, I say there's a better way

If you come, drop your arms

Well, I swear I mean you no harm
So turn around
Let's go down to where the sidelines are

Cynic, put down your pencil
Lay it on down
Cynic, we're running out of time
Page on page of endless drivel
Lay it on down
Cynic, there's a better chance to find

An empty page, a brand new start
Well it's really not very hard
So turn around
Let's go down to where the margins are

Preacher, put down your Bible
Lay it on down
Preacher, what we need is more than words
We know what the Good Book tells us
Lay it on down
Preacher, can you show me how it works?

If you have a hope to give
Well, I need to see it lived
So turn around
Let's go down to where the lepers are

Monday, January 09, 2006


To be found, though, does not end the pursuit. By saying I don't know, I am inviting, I am daring the mystery. This blog is intended to reconsider inherited suppositions. I have a feeling it's only the first of many. And I am confident that with each stone unturned, another waits on the horizon.

Blogger's Log: Stardate 1.9.06

A folk singer named Jan Krist sat down and asked herself:

What do I know?
What do I really know?
I know:
1) Mercy will find you.
2) Unforgivness will bind you.
3) Children grow, and it's hard to let them go.

I'm not a parent; I can't really speak for her third conclusion (though I know my own mother has struggled seeing myself and my siblings grow and leave). As for the other two absolutes, I feel I can attest to their accuracy. It is a strange but welcome relief that mercy, or the giver of it, finds us. Not forsaken; we hid. Not lost; we sequestered ourselves. Not forgotten; we were found.

Ms. Krist's purpose, obviously, is not to enumerate the precious few truths she can speak with surety, but rather to hint at the mystery not included in her list. I was re-reading some previous entries here, and realized I mentioned the mysteries of life more than once. For several months, I've been pursuing answers and reasoning through my doubt and suspicions, looking for something concrete: What do I know? What do I really know?

Little did I know. Little did I know how essential it is not to know. The necessity of mystery, it's pivotal role in providing hope, inspiration, motivation to continue on through the bleakest of droughts. I think (because we are all now aware of my sci-fi obsession) of Captain Jean-Luc Picard, captain of the fictional Enterprise starship. Episode after episode, season after season, Picard and his crew piloted through galaxies harboring the unknown. No amount of knowledge they could amass was sufficient; there could not plot enough maps, could not encounter enough new species. Every stone unturned left open wide the door for the next adventure, the next unanswered question.

I've been so obsessed with answering the inconsistencies of my faith that for a long time, I've found little reason to hope, little chance to dream, little motivation to overturn the next stone. Little pleasure from the pursuit.

Thank God, literally, for number one on Jan's list. When all the fun was gone, all the mystery deconstructed, I hid among pieces of disassembled framework that once composed my worldview, my "metanarrative," as the postmoderns might call it. I hid away, because I had stared into that abyss and seen the bottom; the pit was shallow and devoid of meaning. But in that moment of actualization of my greatest fears, mercy found me. I wasn't even crying out because who was there to cry to? But mercy, separating me from what I surely deserve, found me amid all the rubble of dead and dying dreams. It lifted my eyes, illumined my periphery, where sat ensconced in the darkness, an unturned stone. And the mystery returned, painfully pulsing like fresh blood through long-closed veins, spurring movement, inspiring hope, rekindling the pleasure of pursuit.

God is the mystery; he is the chase. Be wary of anyone who peddles a well-defined portait of divinity, a deconstructed diety. Be suspicious of any who lobby for their agenda in the name of religion, or who claim God's sanctions on thier morality. It's not that there is no religion, or that there is no morality; it's that those things are, very emphatically, not the point. Were a human's highest calling to be "correct" or to fit a moral mold, there would be very little use for choice, opportunity, decision, time, pain, pleasure, communication, relationship, emotion, touch, taste, sight, birth, growth, death, sex, language, hope, despair - the entire nature of the human experience would be something altogether different. The originator of these great mysterious human capacities has in mind something far more significant even than every good Christian's highest hope of heaven. I don't know what it is (hence, mystery). I don't know when we find it (or when it finds us). I don't know, I don't know, I don't know.

(I don't know.)

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The B-I-B-L-E

The following is an excerpt from an email I sent to a friend that details some of my current thought regarding Christianity's sacred book.

Basically, I’ve been taking a long, hard look at my faith and I’ve decided that it’s an inherited faith, full of suppositions given to me by the environment in which I grew up, based on an extremely narrow view and a giant bias. The “answers” to hard questions I’d been given, and have been giving, are really the shoddiest sort of justification for the Christian faith that I think could be constructed. I no longer believe the Bible is an actual manuscript dictated by God and preserved through all the generations in its pure form – the whole “inerrant, inspired Word of God” creed. I actually think it was really na├»ve of me to believe that – there is so much evidence showcasing the biases with which different authors wrote, plenty of documented translation errors, the councils of people who took a popular vote on which books and letters (among hundreds) would become canon, and studies showing how much of the Bible is folklore and myth – how even the creation story is probably a Hebraic retelling of the Babylonian ‘Enuma Elish’ tale detailing the origins of the world.

That’s not to say that I no longer put stock in the Bible. I had a professor in college who taught that the Bible is “true to its genre,” meaning that the Psalms are valuable for their aesthetic, poetical insight, the law defines the values of the culture in that time, the epistles chronicle the birth and growth of a fledgling faith in Roman society, etc. I believe the Bible is the human narrative of God’s story. To me, that means the authors wrote about what mattered to them, their interpretation of God’s work in their lives, and those stories are framed by their own beliefs and biases. Just as we have shelves and shelves of Christian books today in which authors derive meaning from history and experience, but do it through the use of their own faculties and base it on a deep-rooted belief system, I believe that the stories that were passed down and retold and rewritten through the generations inevitably harbor their authors’ slant.

I don’t think that taking this perspective has to diminish the wonder and awesomeness of God. I base it on how I experience God today. God is not a dam-builder who, as a rule, constantly dictates where a stream will flow. He is certainly involved and interested in the movement of things on this planet, and I feel cares a great deal about what goes on in individual lives. But though I’ve known God to influence (even to points of pain & brokenness), I do not know a God who uses irrevocable curses or controls the hearts of people like a puppeteer. I simply do not think it is in his character to mandate a book that perfectly represents his nature to us. The Bible tells many of the innumerable facets of God’s character, but it still asks that we seek, in order to find. The pleasure of God is to be pursued willingly by us, and to see us earnestly striving to exhibit the holiness of his nature in our lives. In a world where everything is boiled down to numbers, where reduction rules, God is the last great mystery. We need that in our lives – mystery makes it meaningful.

The Big Squeeze (part 2)

It’s funny how as children we are often possessed by very physical fears. Even though their manifestations may not be real, things like the boogeyman and monsters under the bed are, in the minds of children, fully animate, physically embodied manifestations. As we grow out of those, they are replaced by the metaphysical and emotional fears that often dictate our actions. Fear of failure, or of never finding love – these things are not incarnated by slimy blobs or little green men, but they have no less of an effect on our psyches and habits.

My fear of a doctor squishing the life out of my manhood was the physical manifestation of youth. Today it is far better explained as the intangible anxiety over my status as a working adult. You’re born, you work, you die.

Among the greatest of my fears is that almost inescapable malaise that plagues those of us who succumb to the deadness of corporate America. We encounter hardship in career and finances and somehow find ourselves stuck in a job that was never even a remote part of our dream, but is still a necessity. Something to pay the bills. My fear is that I will continue to fall deeper into the “American dream” mindset where career becomes the pursuit of every waking moment, or at least the means to an end that somehow justifies the slaying of soul in the process. Passions that meant everything in the idealism of youth are slowly bled to death.

And that is the goal of corporate America, of government, of institution and advertisers, of authority and the establishment. “The man,” as it were. Streamline processes, file documents, avoid legal entanglements, and above all, NEVER factor in emotion. Like a doctor who won’t allow a penis to grow at its own rate, “the MAN” squeezes our figurative testicles until we lose the will to fight anymore, until we’re, in a sense, emasculated, genderless (passionless) drones who work because it is the only perceived choice, who spend money because there’s nothing else to do with it, and who are, essentially, dead men walking.

This post brought to you courtesy of Wachovia Corporation, on whose timeclock it was written. The author has devoted over three years of his life as a dutiful servant of said company. Upon requesting a recommendation from his managers (who are reportedly very pleased with his service and will do “anything” they can to help him in his future endeavors), they subversively reiterated company policy that states “managers are prohibited from providing references to outside employers.” What’s three years of work history worth to you?