Friday, March 19, 2010

Did You Know?

  • Alcohol is the drug most widely used by America's youth. It is responsible for 5,000 deaths per year in persons age 12-20, yet most youth don't even consider alcohol a drug.
  • Every day in the United States, over 5,000 kids under age 16 have their first full drink of alcohol.
  • Children who drink are 22 times more likely to use marijuana and 50 times more likely to use cocaine than children who never drink.
  • Those who begin drinking alcohol before age 15 are 5 times more likely than those who start at age 21 and older to develop alcoholism.

Bulloch County Town Hall Discussion March 25, 2010 6:00 PM- 7:30 PM Statesboro Bulloch County Parks and Recreation Department Honey Bowen Building

Panelist discussion including law enforcement, restaurant/bar owner, students, parents, and you!

Music's Top Earners

Interesting figures and personalities that made the list.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Before I was humiliated I was like a stone that lies in deep mud, and he who is mighty came and in his compassion raised me up and exalted me very high and placed me on the top of the wall.

St. Patrick, From His Confession

It's that wonderful time of the year when Savannah turns green, not with envy but with Irish culture and tradition. We are so excited about celebrating another St. Patrick's Day at Mamanon's (Fran Pagliarullo)! The green grits, green shirts, parade festivities all remind me of the man who felt the call of the gospel to go back to Ireland and preach the good news to all who would hear. The quote above reminds me that God's grace was the same for Patrick as for me and you. May we remember that Patrick's life teaches us about God and his ways during the festivities this week. Erin Go Bragh!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

America's New Drug of Choice

Crystal Meth is the new drug of choice even among sophisticated business people because it is essentially speed, so it heightens your senses and keeps you a
wake and alert for long periods of time. I read an article not long ago about factories in Texas in which the managers/supervisors knew that the workers were using meth but they didn’t do anything about it. Consider the long term effects of crystal meth: highly addictive, destroys a person’s appetite, literally ages you and sucks the life out of you, causes tooth and hair loss, very difficult to break the habit. It is an addiction that totally owns you.

During 2009 I stumbled upon a band from Athens that I had heard of before but never bothered to listen to, Drive By Truckers. Although I only have the one disc, they quickly found their way to upper echelon of my listening preferences. The music they create is beautiful and dark at the same time! They have an uncanny ability to name the ordinary, common elements of life and expose them for what they are or are not when you look below the surface. They are not people of faith, as best I can tell, but the lyrics are definitely influenced by some religious exposure along the way. It's interesting that it doesn't take a Christian to point out the problems with substance abuse.


You’ve become such a mess. You and your crystal meth You lost your family and wrecked your truck, I used to love you but now you suck We were friends, among the best; You and your crystal meth I ain’t exactly a no-drug guy, Don’t dig the way that you get high Hope your kids don’t see you throwing up, Hope they ain’t there if the house blows up Hope you ain’t murdered in your sleep, Up all night with that cranked out creep You ain’t eaten and you ain’t slept; You and your crystal meth Indiana and Alabama, Oklahoma and Arizona. Texas, Florida, Ohio, Small town America, right next door Blood soaked your pillow red; You and your crystal meth
Patterson Hood / Hood, Neff, Cooley and David Barbe © Razor and Tie Music (BMI)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Quote from Saint Patrick

"Christ beside me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ within me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me. "
Saint Patrick

Only one week until St. Patrick's Day in Savannah!!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Over The Rhine @ Eddie's Attic

Tonight in Decatur, GA at a quaint little club called Eddie's Attic, a band that I have come to really like will be playing. Unfortunately I can't make the trip to see them this time, perhaps some other time I can. Over The Rhine is a husband and wife team who have been making music for quite some time now. They are one of those bands like Vigilantes of Love who have always been on the fringe of the Christian marketplace (they play some of the big Christian festivals and such but have avoided the moniker of "Christian Band"). Since I can't make it to one of the best live music venues in the country to hear a great band. I thought I would post something about them and a song that I have fond particularly interesting.

On their most recent studio album, which is now a few years old, Over The Rhine, delivers a melodic, sultry effort that combines some of the great themes of American music into a 21st century journey full of wonder and imagination. The title song, Trumpet Child, features soulful, jazz-tinged instrumentation the likes of Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, and John Coltrane, with vocals that rival the legends of R&B and soul, like Billie Holiday and Aretha Franklin.
I'll post the lyrics below without further commentary...I think they speak for themselves, but the music adds so much to the total experience of the song.
The Trumpet Child

The trumpet child will blow his horn
Will blast the sky till it’s reborn
With Gabriel’s power and Satchmo’s grace
He will surprise the human race

The trumpet he will use to blow
Is being fashioned out of fire
The mouthpiece is a glowing coal
The bell a burst of wild desire

The trumpet child will riff on love
Thelonious notes from up above
He’ll improvise a kingdom come
Accompanied by a different drum

The trumpet child will banquet here
Until the lost are truly found
A thousand days, a thousand years
Nobody knows for sure how long

The rich forget about their gold
The meek and mild are strangely bold
A lion lies beside a lamb
And licks a murderer’s outstretched hand

The trumpet child will lift a glass
His bride now leaning in at last
His final aim to fill with joy
The earth that man all but destroyed

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Recently Heard in Sermons and Songs

We had our Disciple Now this weekend, which is always a great time for our students who between that and church today I've heard a lot of sermons touching on sin and grace and these thoughts popped into my head via Bill Mallonee's music.

we're all black holes so don't give me grief
i think you're perfect and you think i'm perfect to and
we're all just lying through our teeth
Poor Kid

Double Cure

yeah today i'm sick of all i am
today is my setback

first i swear i love you
then i stab you in the back

i wanna drink out of that fountain
on a hill called double cure
i wanna show you my allegiance Lord
yes i wanna be a son of Yours

Few have captured the meaning of grace for me and the struggle with sin and our humanness like Malllonee and Brennan Manning. They are both sources of encouragement and reminders to me about my need for the Gospel.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Almost March 17!

"There is no other God, there never was and there never will be, than God the Father unbegotten and without beginning, from whom it is all beginning, holding all things as we have learned;"
St. Patrick's Confession of Faith

Friday, March 5, 2010

Home By Another Way

I finished Barbara Brown Taylor's book, Home By Another Way. As with most of her books it is a collection of sermons that ranged the whole church calendar year. Since we are in the season of Lent I found some of these most helpful for my own Lenten journey. I am always amazed when I read her work at the depth of her understanding of what it means to be human, the good parts and the bad parts. I am also deeply struck by her uncanny ability to name the unnameable and put a face on God in some ways. Her wisdom and insight into the life of faith has blessed me many times over. Cyd tried to steal the book from me before I could finish it so I don't have any additional quotes to give now, but I hope to add a few of the more poignant ones soon.

What do Moses, Bob Dylan, and Jesus have in common?

Bob Dylan, a folk singer original who when he burst on the scene garnered legions of devoted fans. He literally electrified his loyal following when he plugged in his guitar and played an electric set at Newport Folk Festival in 1965.

Dylan asked a lot of questions in one of his early songs that all had the same answer.

Blowin' In The Wind

How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man?
Yes, ’n’ how many seas must a white dove sail
Before she sleeps in the sand?
Yes, ’n’ how many times must the cannonballs fly
Before they’re forever banned?
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind,
The answer is blowin’ in the wind.

How many years can a mountain exist
Before it’s washed to the sea?
Yes, ’n’ how many years can some people exist
Before they’re allowed to be free?
Yes, ’n’ how many times can a man turn his head,
Pretending he just doesn’t see?
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind,
The answer is blowin’ in the wind.

How many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky?
Yes, ’n’ how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry?
Yes, ’n’ how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind,
The answer is blowin’ in the wind.

Copyright © 1962 by Warner Bros. Inc.; renewed 1990 by Special Rider Music

Dylan would later comment on this song by saying, "You gotta figuring out what the wind is first." Perhaps at the core of Dylan's own early questions is this longing for something more, something better, something that can only be found in the God who created the wind.

In John 3, Jesus has an interesting encounter with Nicodemus in which Jesus talks about the answers that can be found in the wind, but nevertheless, that is where the answer lies. What makes Jesus' statement even more interesting is that in Greek and Hebrew, the word used for "the spirit of God" or "the Holy Spirit" is the same word that can be translated as wind.

John 3:5-8 (New Living Translation)

5 Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. 6 Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. 7 So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.”

I find it strange and yet in keeping with the Jesus of the New Testament that he says just like you can't explain the wind and how it blows, you can't explain how people are born of the Spirit. Perhaps that's a critique of our churches and traditions that say being born again is through baptism, saying a prayer, walking an aisle, having the 2nd blessing of the Holy Spirit, going through a class, or keeping the Law. It seems that as elusive as the wind is, Jesus is saying so too is the work of God in people's lives. It's not something to be contained and dispensed as seen appropriate like a vat of ketchup at your favorite fast food establishment.

Rather as Jesus goes on to say in chapter 3 of John, the real work of the Holy Spirit is manifested when Jesus who was raised up on a pole, like the bronze serpent that Moses lifted up, is seen for who he truly is...the Son of God making a relationship to his Father possible for you and for me. That is the answer that is "blowin' in the wind."

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

More Wisdom from a Great Preacher

"No matter how hard we try in the church, we will always mess some things up. And no matter how badly we mess some things up in the church, other things will keep turning out right. Because we are not, thank God, in charge. "

Barbara Brown Taylor
Home By Another Way

Doesn't that give you comfort to know that even in our flawed, sinful states we cannot thwart the purpose of God? The church is perhaps the greatest institution in the history of the world, but there are also a lot of very dark blemishes on our transcript...thankfully God works in and through and many times in spite of our human frailty. Thanks be to God!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Who Do You Offend?

"Wherever people are people, there will always be things that offend."
Barbara Brown Taylor