Wednesday, February 28, 2007

something i sent jifc's email team

I do not under any circumstances want our website to be cherry. I want it to be mysterious and dangerous and challenging and deep and comforting and welcoming and inviting and loving and not sweet or slick. I want it in every sense to be Postmodern rather than Modern.
Modern isn’t necessarily bad – I love some Modern things – but Modern is safe and familiar and it’s a different mindset and worldview than we have at JIFC.
The emerging paradigm of the 21st century is beginning, shaping, forming; the Modern is ending. The Modern is what we know; Postmodern is what we are discovering. The Postmodern/emerging, therefore, is dangerous because it’s unknown.
Jesus is dangerous; the Church is not.
I want JIFC to be dangerous.

Modern pop music – Bee Gees, Barbra Streisand, disco, hair bands, boy bands, Beach Boys (see, Modern isn’t necessarily bad!), MTV (because it’s driven by commercial appeal, not a vision that transcends that), Shania Twain, Britney Spears, Garth Brooks, Yanni, John Tesh, later Elvis.
Postmodern pop music – almost all Jazz – especially Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, etc. Billie Holiday. Randy Newman – but not when he’s doing Disney/Pixar soundtracks. Ray Charles (because he was so innovative and refused to stick to one genre). Early Elvis. Johnny Cash. Nirvana. Late Beatles. Austin City Limits. Imogen Heap. Gillian Welch. Hank Williams Sr. U2 when they’re staying hungry. Beethoven.

Modern movies – Stand By Me, Casablanca, Gone With The Wind, The Way We Were, Titanic, Notting Hill, The Alamo, Master and Commander, Sense and Sensibility (see? Modern isn’t bad! It can be lovely. It affirms a meaningful, orderly universe)
Postmodern movies – The Green Mile (because it embraces mystery), Pulp Fiction, Fight Club, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971 version), The Godfather I & II, American Beauty, Raising Arizona, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Unforgiven, Shaun of the Dead (Postmodern isn’t necessarily weird – it just invites the viewer to participate in what may or may not be a meaningful universe – but it’s seeking meaning, just not in conventional places)
Some that are in between – that is, they embrace nonsensical elements that don’t necessarily tie together and don’t behave like a linear/logical movie, but still have an overall sense of order and resolution (Modern): The Princess Bride, The Shawshank Redemption, Sling Blade, The Truman Show (because they question everything and yet ultimately ties it all together and makes sense)

Modern pastimes – watching football, malls, fast food, cocktail parties, sitcoms, Bible Study, belonging to any institution, deciding by majority opinion
Postmodern pastimes – not watching sports but doing them yourself, boutiques/South Congress – especially 10,000 Villages, The Internet in general, walking a labyrinth, deciding by consensus – or not deciding at all

Modern heroes – John Wayne, Tom Hanks, most politicians, the Olsen Twins, Denzel Washington, the Christian/Western world Jesus, Superman, Billy Graham and megachurch leaders
Postmodern heroes – James Dean, Jack Nicholson, Mother Teresa, the Dalai Lama, the Jewish/Eastern world Jesus, Dave Chapelle, Wes Anderson, Batman

So, how to balance a website’s function as informational, with the heart of JIFC, which is both inviting and challenging? Tricky.
But it’s worth it. Voltaire, the 18th century French philosopher and cynic, said, “The good is the enemy of the great.”

Let’s be great. If it gets us into trouble, all the better. That means we must be stirring something up. I hope that Journey can be so far out there that we’re never quite sure of what we’re doing, except learning to love and forgive, and serving God and others.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Post-Oscar Buzz (Kill)

Jennifer Hudson - yeah, okay. Although Cate Blanchett was amazing.
I still haven't seen "The Last King of Scotland." I want Leonardo DiCaprio to win an Oscar. He will.
Eddie Murphy didn't win. Okay. The fact that he was good in a dramatic role in a beloved film doesn't mean he deserved an Oscar. Alan Arkin was brilliant. Did you know Eddie M and I are the same age? We're buds.
Helen Mirren. Perfection.
Scorsese - yep. I was relieved. Give the guy a break, right? and it was perfectly directed.
I was glad that "The Departed" won Best Picture. "Babel" was much better than I thought it would be. "Little Miss Sunshine" was wonderful - but a Best Picture winner? Along with "Ben-Hur"? "Lawrence of Arabia"? "Gandhi"? I think it's better as a Beloved Picture than a Best Picture. But that doesn't mean it's not dear to my heart. It is.

I have a question: Why is it that people talk about "losing" an Oscar? It's bizarre. Of all the thousands of aspiring actors, and working actors, who just plod along and do good work and try and try and try, to be nominated as having one of the best performances in hundreds of actors' roles in films alone every year? It's amazing even to be considered.
But that's one of the crazy things about our culture. All there is, is winning. Winning. It's all about the universe being divided into winners and losers, in and out, good and bad, worthy and untouchable. It's stupid. It's sick. And it's not Jesus.

So why do I keep watching? It occurred to me last night that I'm not sure that it was worth the huge amount of attention and time I've spent this year anticipating and then watching the Academy Awards.


I'll still do it next year.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

kill him and let his soul run wild

i read this poem in an email from an old friend,

and it reminded me of jesus and his genius beautiful wildness
and how the world wants to kill it ...
but the beauty is, when we ask god to kill the world that wants to kill it - the world's voice within us - fear - what tries to imprison - then resurrection happens, and we get to run wild.

it's a bitch ain't it.

"Genius Child" by Langston Hughes, 1902 - 1967, great black poet of Harlem renaissance movement

This is a song for the genius child.
Sing it softly, for the song is wild.
Sing it softly as ever you can -
Lest the song get out of hand.

Nobody loves a genius child.

Can you love an eagle,
Tame or wild?
Can you love an eagle,
Wild or tame?
Can you love a monster
Of frightening name?

Nobody loves a genius child.

Kill him - and let his soul run wild.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

busy week, inside and out

mike and sam and mike's wife kathie and kathie's daughter jennifer, who also works at mike's office, and whose 2 sons stay with their grandparents, ie mike and kathie, a lot and who like to come to journey and are these adorable smiling funny strong little boys - all came to journey sunday morning. they came for some hope. to affirm something. for support and love. because.
everywhere we are affirms something about us and about how we see the universe. every minute. watching tv, running errands, counting our money, serving someone - a child, a friend, a stranger - or not, resting, learning, playing, working - for one thing or another. and what it looks like on the surface usually isn't even the real point.
but at least thinking about it - down deep - can help us see what we are saying is most important to us. js said that whatever we consider to be "treasure" is where our hearts - the hebrew idea of the entire true self - will be.
for me, a big part of why this week has been busy --- no, i'm going to say it's been full --- is not only the outer work i've been involved in, but the inner work, the thinking and reflecting and praying and cutting myself open, that come with paying attention and letting it be as it is.
its exhaustion is short-term, and produces rest.
the opposite - not paying attention, not doing one's work - has a short-term reward of rest and the uneasy sleep of knowing i'm in for it later, but at least it's sleep --- but the fatigue and pain will come later. it's not that the bill comes due ... it's that the work needs to be done. that's why we're here.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

mike and sam

mike lawrence is a wonderful human being. he is strong and courageous. he thinks deeply about his faith - we have excellent, weird, thought-provoking email conversations about theology and following jesus and what it means to not just talk about this stuff but live it. mike is a servant - he just wants to help. he's one of those people who doesn't care anything about being in the spotlight, or having everyone know he's done something to help. mike is an example for me of what it is to be jesus in this world, with skin on, flawed and funny and imperfect. he does his work. he keeps the faith.
mike has a daughter, samantha, who is a grownup, though she's disabled. she has seizures, has trouble walking, and isn't able to function at the same mental capacity as someone her age. mike has been taking care of sam all her life. he adores her. it's not easy. last year when sam wanted to move into an assisted living facility - a house with other women who also have similar disabilities, with a house mom to help take care of them all - mike was happy to help make that happen. he knew it would be good for her - to feel independent, to have friends, to do for herself. and he wept. he was going to miss her. he did miss her. although she called him every day, and he saw her all the time.
when sam comes to journey, she has her own rocking chair mike brings for her. she sits and eats food she likes - she loves mcdonald's - and rocks, and listens to country music on her headphones. she adores randy travis - mike's taken her to see him in concert. she's sweet but salty, too - i ask her how she's doing and she tells me about the boy who dropped her or something she's frustrated about, or she tells me she's listening to the greatest music ever, or that she loves her fast food breakfast.
i just got a call from mike. sam wasn't doing well this past weekend. one of her legs wasn't working right. they did medical tests; the doctors said that her meds probably weren't working correctly. mike took her to the e.r.
sam has a brain tumor.
they're doing tests today. they did a bunch yesterday. they'll do more tomorrow. they don't know if this is a primary tumor, or maybe a secondary tumor to something larger somewhere else.
this sucks. it's shitty. i have no words for this. i have no sweet words to give mike. i have nothing to say to him except, I am so sorry.
i will not tell mike and kathie, his wife, how god is in this, how it's god's plan, how all things work together for good for them that love the lord and are called according to his purpose, how god wants them just to have faith and be strong.
i hate that crap. it's the wrong thing to say to someone who's in pain - unless that's what they ask you to tell them.
what mike's feeling today is, This kid has had enough to deal with. Give her a break, God. wtf?
and i feel the same thing. except, it's also what i'm saying about mike and kathie. they've had enough to deal with. give them a break, god. wtf?

Monday, February 5, 2007


i watched "little miss sunshine" on dvd, for the first time since i'd seen it in the theater. i was amazed. it stares the suffering of the human experience right in the face and it doesn't back down. it embraces pain. and that's where joy comes from. i'm learning that.
watch it again. watch the dancing scene. it's all the more satisfying because the movie is willing to go into the darkness of what people really deal with - and not flinch.
and let's face it, it's so damn funny. it's joy.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

the long run

here's an email i just sent to a man i care a lot about, my dad. we were talking about a tendency we've both had over the years, which is, to stuff our feelings and feel resentment:

"at this point what i'm attemtping to do is invest for the long run. i didn't have my eyes on the long run for a number of years; i had Young Man's Disease and i was thinking in the short-run. and that's focusing on the stuff right in front of me - feelings, etc., that might or might not be The Point ... by that, i mean, the larger thing that matters ...
for me, strangely, the thing i'm learning is that denying my feelings in the short run, stuffing them, whatever, is a way not to deal with the larger thing that matters - and accepting/embracing my feelings - but seeing what they're really pointing to, in the larger sense, is a way to see the larger thing that matters, in which case, i can put the feelings in perspective.

it is weird. and for years i thought if i were a loving and nice person, i shouldn't acknowledge feelings that were not nice, mean, angry, whatever ... but they build up ... stay in there ... fester ...
and now i'm learning to say, Here is where i am today. It's okay. And ... what is most important to me? what do i care most about? what do i want, for myself and those around me?

it may be weird, and i'm still learning, but it seems to be working.

is it me?

some guy friends and i were talking the other day and one of us said, "i hate valentine's day." and suddenly we all said the same thing. we want to do a good job, help our wives and girlfriends and daughters feel happy and loved. but the pressure is intense.

one man said, "chocolates? flowers? anybody can do that. so i don't do anything on valentine's day. i take my wife out the day before, or the day after. and my wife thinks so too." i trust this guy - he's smart. but i wonder.

i want my wife and daughter to feel valued and loved on valentine's day. is there anything i can do to make that happen? no, i can't make it happen. but what i can do is give them lots of love every day, not just valentine's day. i know one woman who says that birthday and valentine's and other cards from her father just make her angrier, because her father's an asshole to her the rest of the year.

i pray that i'm loving and consistenly present not just on the cute days.

maybe that's the thing ... is it me, or is valentine's day just too cute?

Thursday, February 1, 2007

shut up, Jesus

i sometimes have many days in a row when i just feel good. things seem to go well. or rather, i seem to be able to do and handle the tasks and needs that come to me, and to choose to do the things that i want to/have committed to. it's a good feeling. i like it. i find myself humming and making jokes. my email box empties ... i say, Sure, i can help you. i'm full of self-awareness and willingness to take care of myself, rest, work, speak my truth.
and then it often happens that i crash. well, wait, i'm not sure that one follows the other. but it did yesterday. i crashed. i just didn't give a shit, and i felt afraid and angry and overwhelmed the longer the day went. i was just a - see, our culture says to call it a "train wreck" or "disaster" or "mess," when i am sure that it's just where i chose to be, need to be, am. it's this lesson and this truth. so that's why i'm writing about it. i want to learn about this. and the best place to start is to say, Welcome Shadow ... :-)
what i believe about this is that yesterday was a be-there-with-and-for-a-lot-of-people's-stuff-and-wants-and-crises day and after a while i just feel put upon and resentful and victimized. i know this about myself - i've learned it in 2006 - it's a pattern. many times in this part of my life when i'm aware of a pattern i click into, i can acknowledge it, thank it, and decide what part of it i want to keep or not. but this one is tough to see. it's deeeeeeeeeep down. by the end of the day - got done with people at 9 p.m., started 7:30 a.m. - see how i'm justifying it for you? for me? jeezy creezy i'm SICK - and i mean that in a perfectly accepting way - i just didn't want to get healthy. wanted to be in a worse mood. and let myself. yelled. ate frosted flakes. got in bed. pouted.
and then ... i felt much better. i hadn't pushed it away or even tried (much) to reason with it - i just let it roll. and ... my soul appreciated that.
and then my wife came home and reminded me that i'm going to miss something i really really wanted to do thursday night because we're going to see our daughter's drill team. i adore my daughter and love to see her dance with her girls. COMPLETELY SEPARATELY as an issue is that that was just another moment in which i had the thought: my life is not my own. JESUS HELP ME! and Jesus said ... Oh, yeah, you're such a victim! work it!
and I said, Shut up, Jesus.