Tuesday, April 29, 2008

what are YOU talking about?

A quick little video I cooked up to advertise Citywalk's upcoming discussion series... Hope you laugh!

Friday, April 25, 2008

i don't get grace

Sitting here at Java Jones listening to a performance bordering on walk-out-able. Thinking about much more than the music and the art on the walls. Thinking about grace, and whether I've ever really experienced it. Whether I have let myself become acquainted with it in any realm other than the conceptual.

I don't consider myself judgmental. But I do hold myself to high standards. At least publicly. I have very stringent expectations for myself. (So many reasons. None to talk about without a glass of wine or two in me.) But because I'm so performance-driven, so consumed with standards and maintenance and doing what's right to please other people, sometimes there is part of me that looks at others and can't figure why the hell they don't own up to the choices they've made; why they shirk responsibility; how they can be so liberated and lively and free from the worry of consequence. Because I am decidedly not.

In fact, I'd say most of the life decisions I make are based on fear of consequences. And there's a big part of me that really admires people who can shrug off the whole "what other people think" thing. I mean, I can do that with strangers pretty easily. But with my close friends, the people I should be able to trust most of all, I am often wrapped up in fear over what they will think were I to live according to what I really believe instead of censoring or suppressing certain beliefs or hopes for the sake of not offending.

My uncle recently "replied to all" on an email forward (one of the many that get circulated in my family) that had a very ignorant and offensive message about "patriotism" and what kind of person deserves to be called an American. His response was simply: Please spare me this shit and remove me from your email list NOW.

I have no desire to be a jackass. (Sorry, Uncle T!) But I have a huge amount of respect for my uncle for being so open about his personal opinions & beliefs. He's always been that way, as long as I can remember - and it hasn't exactly won him a cherished spot in the hierarchy of our clan. But he has no fear about what other people will think. He knows what he believes and what he doesn't, and he has no problem being open about those things. I, on the otherhand, have been quick to retract statements I've made that have brought me the slightest amount of criticism from family, friends, fellow church-goers.

And I have been experiencing an unsettling realization that this is because I don't believe in grace. I don't really believe it counts for anything; instead, my status, the love I seek after, my place in church, family, and social circles, I believe are won and defended by what I accomplish, what I do (or more often what I don't do), and how well-behaved I am. According, of course, to the standards of others - standards that I oftentimes do not personally believe for myself. But I still choose to live by them. Because of fear. Because of obligation. Because I don't trust that I will still be received and accepted. Because I don't trust grace.

I'm going to pack up now and go home. The barely-listenable band is finished & gone. The coffeehouse is closing down. I have a 3 mile bike ride uphill until I reach the comfort of my bed and my border collie, who is the only one I never fear will leave me because I don't meet his standards.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

after school cookie & milk time!

Meet one of the roommates! We do a cover of "May He Poop on My Knee?" Also, help me pick a catchphrase, a la William Sledd. "Hello, little children" might be too creepy. Finally, I cover "Mistake of My Life," by Caedmon's Call (written by Derek Webb).

The music in the intro is "Sunshine Alley" by Stanley Turrentine from the album "Sugar." Hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

video: new song

A new song, showcasing my first attempt at video editing and a random Brian Regan reference! Hope you like...

God, are you still listening?
Were you ever really there at all?
Maybe I was wishing
Maybe I was wrong
All of those desperate words I spoke
Are they just falling right back down on me?
When I am calling chaos home
Does it appease me to believe?

God, are you still speaking?
Have I ever really heard your voice?
Was it just something I was needing
To make some sense of all the noise?
I once believed that you were near
Whispering which way was best
But you are not a puppeteer
And I am not your marionette

God, are you awake now?
'Cause I don't know where I belong
I hear my friends tell me to pray now
Well, my prayer is this song
We think we've got you all exposed
But are you doing what we say you?
Is there even one remotely close
Interpretation of you?

Monday, April 14, 2008


There's a topic sure to grab a lot of readers... Reminds me of Reverend Lovejoy's sermon on "The Nine Tenants of Constancy" on the Simpsons. But it's something that has been troubling me lately. I grew up in a world that was rooted in consistency. It was very important to be true to one thing anytime you showed your face. Of course, this mostly revolved around one's commitment to faith. There was almost more judgment for a person who was duplicitous in his faith, easily morphing from Saturday night hedonism to Sunday morning sainthood, than there was for the person who consistently rejected a confrontation with God.

It became very important for me (and the judgmental streak I was to develop in my youth) to live consistently one way - to be always concerned with the same things, to carry on the same conversations from place to place, to look the same way Saturday night as I did on Sunday morning. This was no easy task for someone with a proclivity toward mischief who (not so) secretly enjoys watching the fallout from broad, polarizing statements that unsettle the status quo. But I managed - and quite well. I was a master of consistency.

But here's the thing. The consistency in which I was brought up was concerned mainly with the appearance of things. In truth, one could have as many inconsistent worldviews, lifestyles, and Saturday night romps as you wanted as long as they were well-compartmentalized and hidden from view. In that way, I was able to maintain consistency, or the appearance of it, while my alter ego dabbled in things that my Sunday self wouldn't dream of exposing! I stopped just short of actually developing a second personality. Each of my selves were true, or consistent, to the expectations under which I had placed them.

So this is where my gauges are now madly spinning and I'm unable to settle on a reading: my world today is one of inconsistency. Spiritual friends will jump from church to bar to community service to racy movie back to church again - all very publicly, in full view of anyone interested enough to watch! Conversations can turn on a dime, from sanctimonious to salacious, from excellent to X-rated. And I find myself merrily joining in, happily going along, and deeply troubled by a fear of being exposed as inconsistent.

There is a residual effect happening here in my life. Something leftover from days when I dreaded being seen as anything less than vigilant. It seems scandalous to be so cavalier about hopping from devout to degenerate in the same breath. But the reality of it is that, if I'm honest, I've been doing just that for most of my life. Just not in public. It's really the removal of walls that freaks me out. It's the exposure of what I've always believed should be hidden. It's the carnal no longer bowing to consistency. But who is really consistent? The ones without scruples or the one who just keeps it secret? Are my friends more authentic than I am? Am I simply being a hypocrite? (It wouldn't be the first time.)

I like to think I've long since stopped being a judgmental fool. There's no part of me that wants to call out my friends for their "inconsistency." But my biggest problem right now seems to be judging myself. I'm doing myself a great disservice by masking my own unholy ambitions in the name of "consistency."

Friday, April 11, 2008

tina turns me on!

Tina Fey is on the cover of my Entertainment Weekly today! I was really excited. There's something about her that I am just really drawn to. I think it's a combination of many things, actually - her work ethic, of course her humor, her passion for things beyond entertainment... she's just a standout. I absolutely cannot wait for Baby Mama. It's going to be hysterical.

This week my community here in San Diego is kicking off a new "campaign" of sorts - Do What's Right. It's going to be our schtick at Earth Fair on the 20th. I'm excited about it... the website is still going up, but should be running soon!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

update: template issue resolved

As you can clearly see! I don't like it as much as the "Mush Blue" blogger template I had, but so far it's far more reliable! Here's to grunge!

template trouble

My new template, which I LOVE, has been giving me a lot of trouble lately. If you've visited anytime in the past month, chances are you've seen a sorry excuse for a blog. The template I'm using seems to be down about 90% of the time. Bummer. Wish I knew more about how the whole process works so I could host it myself somewhere else... I'm gonna have to carve out some time to re-do it, I'm afraid. 'Til then, sorry for the ugly blog!