Band That Name!


I get confused rather easily…  I have liked music for a lot longer than I have really followed it, as such there have been many time when I mixed up artists and bands, here are some examples:

The Cardigans and The Cranberries – Two different bands…who knew?
Michael Bolton and Ray Boltz – Not sure I can be blamed for this one…both born in 1953, both with crazy long mulets, both “mom” music.
Amy Grant and Rebecca St James – It actually wasn’t until a year or two ago I realized these were two different people.  Saw there names on the same article or CD or something…blew my mind.
Journey and Foreigner – I didn’t realize this had even happend until I was telling my friend Scott about the Amy & Rebecca mix-up and he told me he used to get Journey and Foreigner mixed up.  That was a big surprise…like that they were two different bands… big surprise!
Carly Rae Jepson and Lana Del Rey – Cannot be blamed.  Came out around the same time, got famous really fast, 1/3 of each of their names is “Ray”

And this next on is the most emabarssing…don’t judge:

Savage Garden and Soundgarden In my defense…there isn’t one.  However you can imagine my confusion when people kept talking about this seminal band that influenced Nirvana, Soundgarden, and I all could think of was “Truely, Madly, Deeply”…

How about you guys?  Anyone else have some band mix-ups in their past?

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Why Don’t We Get Invited to More Parties?


Jesus was at a lot of parties.

This is something that has struck me over and over again this past year. It’s nothing new but for me it’s been a challenge as I think through my life, faith and art.  We are consistently reading about Jesus going to feasts, banquets and parties

Luke 5:29-30 Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”

And apparently enough so that people tried to use it against him (not that, that probably took much)

Luke 7:34The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’

And it’s not that he was there that surprises me.  Jesus was very clear that he came to reach the lost.  It doesn’t surprise me at all that he would go where the people who needed him were hanging out…it surprises me that he was invited.

In the church we expect to be always be rejected, we assume no one wants to hear from us Jesus followers; that no one is open to it.  But maybe Jesus proves us wrong.  It would seem that these people who were not living lives that lined up with God’s ideals were more than willing to hang out with Jesus; and I don’t think it was because he was “a drunkard and a glutton”.

So the question becomes why?  Why did they want to hang out with Jesus?  Why did they invite him into their subculture?

I think it’s at least partly because he clearly wanted to be with them.

Most groups aren’t as closed as outsiders think.  For instance, did you know that every time I have ever started a mentorship program I have no problem finding youth?  Most students are desperate for positive adult relationships!  But yet, the vast majority of the adults are hesitant.  Why are they hesitant?  Because “the youth wouldn’t want to connect with an old person like me”.

A couple months ago, we hosted a metal show at our church site.  There were a ton of people there that many church goers would assume wouldn’t come to something at a church.  But yet there they were. They told me how “f’ing awesome” (my edit) it was, that we would host their scene.  I could also give tons of examples of bands that make a huge impact because engage people honestly in all kinds of venues; but you get the idea…

Maybe people aren’t as closed as we assume.  Maybe they are just assuming we are closed to them.

Maybe we would be invited to more parties if people KNEW we wanted to be there.

What has your experience been?


Social Media as Pets


Last night I was thinking…Attribution Noncommercia lShare Alike - Some rights reserved by joeventures

Google+ is like an annoying Stray Cat sitting on your front porch meowing; hoping if it stays there long enough you will eventually accept it as part of your family.

Which got me thinking abut other animal/social network comparisons:

Facebook – Is like a pet fish.  It was really exciting at first and now, it has just become a piece of the furniture.

Twitter – Is like an excitable pet Dog.  It’s fun and you love it, but kinda wish it didn’t take quite so much attention.

Which led to the inevitable:
Myspace– Is like my hedgehog…who died of cancer.

Can you think of any others?

Trying to decide on Pintrest and Instagram…maybe even Linkedin


The Image In Creation


We were born to create.

Or perhaps it’s better to say we were created to create.

The Bible begins with the words: In the beginning God created.  This is the first thing we learn about God.  God is an artist.  Which is very cool.

But the Bible tells us more about this creative God.  Specifically it tells us that he made people “in his image”.

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

God made mankind in his image.  In a way that’s different than all the other animals.  Now, this is a thought that is not popular in our current cultural thinking.  By many it is seen as arrogance that we would assume ourselves to be better than cats, dogs and orangutangs…but God says something different.  He says that he CREATED man in his own image, and therefore that we ought to rule over the earth.  (Note: this is meant to be a caring stewardship not a ruling of an iron fist, if you are interested in things relating to the environment and faith you should really check out my friend Matthew Morris’ blog: www.theelusiveguanaco.blogspot.ca/ it s fantastic)

What I want to discuss is what it looks like specifically to be created in God’s image.  Because that is a huge statement!  What is it about humans that is the image of God?  What is merely our “animal” instinct and survival skills and what is the Imago Dei?  I think we can see lots of thing, but I would like to focus on the aspect of creativity. 

No other creature creates like humans do.  No other creature has a robust need for the arts.  We can train an elephant to paint, but we can all see it’s not the same.  Other creatures sing and we appreciate their beauty, but do they create?  I loved my dog growing up, but he never wrote me poetry or played me a song on the piano.  My daughter tells herself and sometimes the rest of our family fantastic stories.  They come from her mind, she creates them; we have no record of any other animals doing that.

To me this doesn’t seem like an evolutionary issue.  Humans don’t just create better art.  We don’t just have finer motor skills.  We have the Image of God, we have traits of the ultimate CREATOR.  Humans CREATE, we dream of things in our mind and create elaborate art to express it through dance, painting, writing, drawing, music, poetry and theater.  No other creature that I know of does this.


Too Much Pride to Appear Proud


 

Pride.  It’s something I struggle with.  I wish I didn’t but I do, it’s quite easy for me to either:

a) Think I would know how to do (almost) everything better

or

b) Try to save face instead of dealing with my hurt and/or failure

Now, I don’t have a desire to turn this blog into a personal confessional, but as I thought about what to write this week I felt like it’s an appropriate discussion to be had here;  because on the flip side we all face some measure of self-doubt.  That feeling that what we have to offer isn’t really much of value.  That is a portion of the reason I missed blogging the last two weeks.  There is a fear of putting your thoughts out there.  Like I have stated in many blogs, I don’t feel like an expert.  I don’t feel like I have wisdom that comes down from heaven, out my fingers and onto people’s screens.  It feels almost narcissistic to ask people to read thoughts that roll out of my head.

I blog because a couple people I know suggested I try.  I blog because a few people who I really respect (namely Brian Thompson and Michael Hyatt) remind me of it’s potential on their podcasts most weeks.

This is the same with most artists I know.  There is this mix, this tension (have I ever mentioned I think almost everything that matters is held in tension).  People who create need to create and need to show other people their creation, it’s a longing,  a force, a need, a something that’s deep inside.  But yet there’s this tension, because, you don’t want to be shoving your meagre thoughts/creations on other people, you don’t want to be bragging, you certainly don’t want to feel like a three year old showing off their craft to an unappreciative audience.

But I think that’s the pride.

I think there is often more pride in hiding yourself away in the safety of not trying.  Like I said, my pride makes me do two things, think I’m better or try to maintain face.  I think when I don’t speak, when I refuse to let my thoughts/art out, that’s the prideful position.

So, defeat pride.  Say what you have to say, create what you were born to create.

Share and see what happens.

…and comment so I don’t feel lonely.


Exploring Innocence


The other night Sarah and I wanted to watch a movie.  We felt like something a little intense and were limited by Canadian Netflix, so we went with “Unthinkable”.  It was an alright movie, but it’s primarily about torture so… you know.  Think of the torture scene that made you squirm most in “24” and then crank it up 5 or 6 notches.  The film is essentially the discussion of whether torture is ever appropriate.  Similarly (actually almost identically) to “24” our protagonist is struggles with questions like how do you weigh effectiveness vs human rights? How far is too far? And is there easy math (torture one to save one million) we can apply?  Ultimately, when faced with complete evil, does morality “work”.

After the movie,it was late and adrenaline was high so, when there was a loud-ish unexplained noise in our house I was sent out on the husbandly duty of inspecting the house for intruders, none were found so we settled back into bed.  However Sarah was still feeling nervous and took quite a while to fall asleep.

I was reflecting on that event later and wondered why or if watching a movie about such a gruesome topic was the best idea.  Then I got to thinking of the bible verse “Whatever is good, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, think about these things”

I can’t imagine anyone using the adjective “lovely” to describe torture.

Then I thought of “be innocent of evil”

Innocence doesn’t seem to be a priority in our society, it’s not something we protect.  Being innocent, naive or sheltered is not to be proud of (just ask Brittany);  but yet there seems to be a strong biblical mandate for it.  Heck, what was The Fall (Gen 3) all about?  Eating from the tree of “The Knowledge of Good and Evil”, because Eve wanted to be “like God, knowing good and evil”.  It would seem that innocence is good for us.

ALL THAT BEING SAID, have you read the Bible?  It’s not all sunshine and rainbows.  As I mentioned in my post “The Danger of Safe Art” the bible comes complete with many stories of rape, war, murder, genocide, and other things I don’t tell my kids about just yet.

How does being encouraged to dwell on whatever is good, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely line up with being encouraged to read the story of a Levite cutting up his concubine into twelve pieces and mailing her around the country (remind you of any current news stories?). I have always been of the opinion that art has to reflect reality.  I don’t think the scripted dialogue of a bunch of soldiers in the trenches should be “Oh Boy, well by golly, I think my pal Jim just got shot”.  That’s not how war is.  If we are going to reflect the world and the horrors of it, we need to be honest.  How else can we express (or understand) the ugliness humans experience and inflict on each other or really explore questions like the ones posed by “Unthinkable”?

Somehow we are called to hold these things in tension (I actually think that almost everything of importance is held in tension, but that’s another post).  Somehow the same God who tells us stories of horrors reminds us to think about whatever is good pure and lovely.

I will leave with one more thought, not my thought, someone much smarter’s: “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. ”

What do you guys think?  How do we hold this tension in the art we consume as well as the art we create?


Descriptors of Goodness


A couple weeks ago I wrote a post by the name of “The Dangers of Safe Art“.  In it I explored that I don’t think “safe” is a great target when it comes to great descriptors of art.  In it I also suggested a few words that I think are much more compelling, words like Honest, Challenging, Prophetic, Yearning, Leading, Calling for Action, Real, Raw, in various comments and conversations afterwards people used other words like “Redemptive” & “Reflective”

It’s always much easier to state the negative (Art shouldn’t primarily try to be safe) and much more difficult to point in the right direction.  I suppose you could say…it’s less safe.  Nothing is easier than throwing rocks from a distance.  However just like good art, I think good blogs point to something rather than just criticize.  Criticism is easy and unless accompanied with hope is largely a waste of time.

All that to say, I am no expert but let’s start to build a list of positive descriptors of art; I’ll use some of the ones from my original post as well as some of the follow-up

  1. Honest – To say Art should be honest seems too obvious and cliche but yet…true.  Art is expression. Art is voice.  If it doesn’t reflect something that is true about the creator or how they experience life, the planet, other people.   Honesty doesn’t mean obvious, guys like David Bowie were famous for writing form other characters perspective, but it still contained an obvious piece of the artist and their thoughts on the human condition.  Artists can create in a multiplicity of different vantage points and use “un-truths” like satire etc. but it still needs to be honest.  Maybe it’s eternally true, maybe it’s honest in a moment, but it has to be real!  If the creator doesn’t believe the piece, why should anyone else? (Example: Poison & Wine by The Civil Wars)
  2. Challenging – Not all good art challenges us directly.  But I think the BEST art does in some way.  Challenges us to act, challenges us to understand, challenges us to have compassion, challenges us to challenge the system, maybe even challenges us to appreciate a new beauty. (Check out Silence is Shameful by Luke Dowler)
  3. Prophetic – This one is a little trickier, but I love art that paints a picture of where we could be, or what ought to be.  Pictures of good relationship. Pictures of hope.  Pictures of where I am called to go.  (Check out Under Bridges by Brave Saint Saturn)
  4. Redemptive – Redemption is such a beautiful word and concept.  Taking something that has been corrupted and restoring.  Reflecting the ugly but showing beauty and in doing so bringing freshness.  There is a lot of hip-hop that does this well. (Check out Wavin’ Flag by K’naan)
  5. Reflective –  This one is a little different.  It’s not a call to change.  Great art is reflective of goodness as well.  There is some fantastic art that not only reflects the human creator but also the Creator.  A painting of a flower, a sculpture, a photo of true friends smiling, a doll reflecting the innocence of a newborn.  Some great art simply acts as a mirror to take us out of our own heads and condition and remind us that beauty is all around! (Check out this video: http://vimeo.com/24456787)

What do you think?  What are some descriptors of goodness in art?


The art of moving


Well, it’s monday so I owe the world a blog. I have a better one planned out but our family is in the process of moving so… No computer or Internet and its hard to write a decent post from my phone.

That being said Brain Thompson from Thorny Bleeder (if you create art/content and want to spread it, follow him at @thornybleeder so much good advice and great links) has drilled into my head to get consistent, and so on this Monday you get a blog, live from the toilet as I reflect on moving.

The art of moving has several components.

1. Get help – we had been lucky enough to have lots of friends and family helping, that goes a long way! Everything from helping us physically move, to cleaning, to providing food, to letting us crash at their house when exhaustion hit before beds were built, watching our kids, helping us build the beds, get organized…etc. I am so thankful!

2. Avoid stress – At the end of the day you are just porting stuff. Try not to get too stressed, it’s just stuff. Things will scratched, lost and semi-lost. It’s the cost of moving. Stuff is stuff.

3. Can’t remember – kinda tired… Need to keep getting things re-organized.

Mostly don’t stress and get help.

P.s. The help helps avoid the stress.

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The Dangers of Safe Art


Well, last week you guys picked what was probably the hardest topic on the list, and I am new at this so cut me a little slack but…here we go!

Safe:

1. involving little or no risk of mishap, error, etc.: a safe estimate.
2. careful to avoid danger or controversy: a safe player; a safe play.

The idea for this post was inspired by the slogans of countless Christian Radio stations things like: “Safe for the Whole Family”, “ Safe For The Little Ears“, Safe And Fun For Everyone

And this certainly has it’s place. My wife loves that she can turn on our local Christian Radio Station (http://www.cjgy.ca/) and let our kids listen away. I remember the joy when I heard my 2ish year old daughter call out from the back seat “Daddy! They are singing about Jesus!” So this is not a rant against Christian Radio, there is some good in being “Safe for Little Ears” that being said…

God is not safe, as the oft quoted Mr. Beaver says “Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King.” And great Art isn’t created to be safe either. It’s not that it can’t be safe in a sense. I have a lot of killer records that my kids listen to with me, but it’s not created to be safe. The BEST art calls for change, it speaks out, it stirs peoples souls, it rallies people. The best art has something to say, and a delivery method that delivers that message straight to the soul.

Art that pushes boundaries has always been a huge shaper of our society for good or for ill.

There are certain records that challenge what I know and how I think. Certain pieces of art that change my heart. That’s not safe, that’s dangerous and that is art.

Artists who change the world are not those who are primarily considered with keeping things “safe”, they are concerned with using whatever creative tools at their disposal to challenge and bring change!

And that is why, I am not sure the largest trademark of Christian art should be “safe”. Scratch that. I am sure that the largest trademark should not be “safe”. I would be more comfortable with Christian Art being known as:

Honest, Challenging, Prophetic, Yearning, Leading, Calling for Action, Real, Raw…Dangerous

That’s what I see in the book God wrote. The Garden was safe, and could have remained safe, however Satan was still there, and tricked mankind into inviting darkness into the world. Once darkness was in, we see murder, revenge, rape, destruction (all which is described in it’s ugliness, not hidden from camera), however we see a God who is willing to go to any length, war, sacrifice, etc. to get his people back. Then I read the Psalms, songs of a man crying out to God, railing out against God, Asking God to dash his enemies like pottery. And then I see Jesus, who is incredibly dangerous in his own way, subversive, telling stories of reversing culture, calling religious leaders out, heading into the temple with a whip and perhaps most dangerously letting himself be beaten and killed for all to see. When we look at the End times….those don’t look too safe either.

I just don’t see Artists or Christians primarily called to safety.

How about you? How do you view safety in Christian Art? I would really appreciate your comments, this blog is meant as a place for discussion not just one guys thoughts! Looking forward to engaging with you in the comments!


Blogging is hard…


I started the blog to try to ignite some meaningful conversations about the intersection of Faith and Art. It’s an intersection I have lived in for many years and think will always need continued dialogue. That being said, I have not written much (i.e. nothing). There are many reasons for this, but the largest is certainly a lack of clarity on a solid topic, so I am just going to try, the efforts will be stumbled but, every Monday I’ll post something okay? If you can comment and help get discussion going the posts will get better and better…okay?

Here are a few ideas, could you vote so I can make up my mind?:


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