All The Boys And Girls

This is the latest in my series of blog entries taking a fresh look at a variety of topics over the next year. I’ve set up a page on the blog explaining the project and linking to my entries. This week’s topic is “Children In General.”

4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. [a] 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
Deuteronomy 6:4-7

I have nothing to say about this one. I sort of exhausted the topic in the things I didn’t write about last week. Other than that, what’s there to say? Children? I’m for ’em. I believe that children are the future. Etc. etc. etc. I may revisit this one at some point in the future when I have something more to say, but that day is not today.

Jewel Update

Quick note — A limited number of tickets to the Jewel concert at the Von Braun Center I wrote about yesterday will be available for only $10 each from 10 a.m. today until 10 a.m. Saturday. They’ll be available through Ticketmaster.

May 27

NOTE: I originally published this a year ago today. I’m republishing the post as it appeared a year ago, with a few additional thoughts for this year.

One of my quirks, I remember dates. They get lodged in my head, and I can’t get them out. Some useful, like birthdays (though I’m getting worse with adding those), and some not, like the anniversaries of days certain things happened. It’s a reflex, to the point where, apparently, it can be annoying.

Anyway, May 27 is one of those dates, from events that occurred in two consecutive years.

On May 27, 1992, I graduated from Huntsville High School.

Doing the math, I graduated from high school 17 years ago today, when I was about two months shy of my 17th birthday. In other words, high school is now just over half my life ago. I’ve lived more since that day than I had before. It’s just weird to think about; I certainly don’t feel twice as old as I was then. I’ll admit that my days at HHS are a distant and remote memory at this point, but I’m still young, right? From graduation until our 10-year reunion, sure, a good bit of time passed. But the reunion was hardly any time ago at all. And now the 20 is just around the corner. Where does it go?

On May 27, 1991, Beth Ladner died.

Beth was a member of my class at Huntsville, was a fellow part of the staff of the school newspaper, and ran against me for senior class vice-president. She was brilliant, pretty, and a genuine and easily likeable person, with a promising future, most likely as a marine biologist. She died in a car accident right before final exams.

And that fact has always stayed with me. This was high school, and final exams were huge — the studying, the stress, the work. If the accident had occurred a week later, she would have gone through all of that. And still been dead. The effort all in vain. We all know we’re going to die, and that it could happen at any time, but Beth’s death was such an object lesson in that. We strive, we struggle, we hurt, we laugh, we dance, we love, we cry — all for a tomorrow that one day won’t come.

Beth’s loss made us all the less. But the rest of us took final exams, and went on. And went to college. And married. And divorced. And had kids. And got jobs. And strived and struggled and hurt and laughed and danced and loved and cried. More of us have been lost along the way. But the rest continue to continue.

And hopefully the world is better for it.

May 27, 2010 coda — Since I wrote this a year ago, it has become one of the most-viewed posts on my blog. Someone even linked to it yesterday, and it was viewed a few times because of that. Because of that, I decided to republish it today in hopes of these words continuing to find homes.

It being a year later, I have to add a couple of additional thoughts since I first wrote this. First, and obviously, Beth was loved. I wrote this purely for myself, to let out what was in my heart, some of it had been with me for quite a while. I never really thought about it resonating with anyone else, and certainly never imagined people sharing it with others. But it’s been amazing to see how many people still remember her and still care. It’s an incredible tribute to who she was, and the lives she touched.

Second, perhaps less obviously but more importantly — you are loved. I can’t imagine it; if things had been reversed, if it had been the other candidate for senior class vice-president on that road that night, I can’t imagine that 18 years later anybody would be writing about me, and that so many people would still be reading that 19 years later. But, you know, I doubt Beth would have imagined that either. She’s been gone from this Earth now longer than she was on it. I doubt she would have dreamed that she’d touched so many lives, that so many people cared, so that more than her lifetime later, people would still be remembering her fondly.

The lesson of all of that? Yes, that Beth was loved. Yes, that she was special. But, also, this: Right now, there are people out there whom you have touched in a way you have no clue about. Right now, there are people out there who care about you more than you realize. Right now, there are people out there who will remember you long after you could dream they would.

Right now, you are loved, more and by more people than you know.

My Favorite Concert

What’s your favorite concert experience?

It’s entirely possible that I haven’t been to my current favorite concert yet.

There are two different types of experiences I enjoy in a concert. It’s not my preference, but there are times when I enjoy a concert just for the pure spectacle. The best example of that for me was U2’s Vertigo tour. It was just a really good show; an incredible entertainment event. They’re amazing performers.

The other experience I enjoy is when you come away from the concert with something unique, something you’re not going to get on the CD. I’ve seen some artists I love do concerts, and they put on great shows, but they’re so literal in their performance that it’s almost like listening to a recorded version while watching them.

I loved it at the Simon & Garfunkel concert I went to a month ago when they paid respect to the fact they were in New Orleans by turning Cecilia into a Zydeco song. I love when artists throw in non-album cover tracks to entertain concert-goers. I love patter; I love when the artist talks to the audience, tells stories about the songs or just about their lives. I wrote recently about the Rachael Sage concert I went to when she name-checked me several times from the stage, and sang something just for me. Yeah, that, for me, is an awesome concert experience.

But, at the end of the day, when I go to a concert, ideally, you’re not just in the same room as the artist at a concert, you’re actually sharing a personal experience with them.

And that’s why my favorite concert may be about to happen.

Jewel is coming to Huntsville on June 13.

And not only am I going to the concert, I’m getting up-close seats and backstage passes, and getting to meet Jewel and have a picture made with her.

I’ve been in the front row for a concert once, when Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers played Tupelo. I’ve been backstage at a concert once, when Ladysmith Black Mambaza played Cleveland, Miss. And I’ve meet B.B. King multiple times when he played his annual homecoming festival in Indianola. But I’ve never had an experience that combines it all together quite like this.

And I’ve never been to an exclusive short mini-concert by an artist, either. That should be kinda cool, don’t you think?

Jewel’s concert is being sponsored by COUNTRY Financial/Cotton States as part of Road Trips and Guitar Picks, which includes Jewel’s tour and Jason Aldean’s Wide Open tour. Road Trips and Guitar Picks lets fans become involved in the tours — you can become a Roadie to be eligible for prizes, and there’s a sweepstakes to win an all-expense-paid trip to one of the concerts. Oh, and they’re getting ordinary people involved in promoting the concerts by selecting bloggers in the tour cities to get to go backstage and meet the artists, etc. So, um, guess who was one of the bloggers selected for the Huntsville show?

So, yeah, I’m totally selling out. A little. They ask that I mention that I was selected as an official blogger, and that’s why I’m getting the access, and now I have. (I’m including their logo at the bottom of this post, and will do so for any posts that I write as part of this opportunity.) They ask that I write a few posts about it, but don’t specify what I have to say. And they provide some post ideas that were interesting enough prompts that they’ll be fun to write even without the cool extra stuff. I’m hugely honored to be chosen, and I’m really looking forward to everything.

So that’s the story. I’m really excited about it. Not only should it be a really unique experience, but it’s cool to be offered this opportunity with Jewel in particular; this will actually be my second time seeing her in concert, but that’s a story for another post.

So, back to the original question — what was your favorite concert?

If you’d want to come to the Von Braun Center show, and aren’t able to win free tickets, tickets are, of course, available via Ticketmaster.

Lisa Loeb — “Best Friend” Lyrics

Another from my iTunes collection that didn’t have lyrics online, so I transcribed them. More lyrics I’ve transcribed are here.

Lisa Loeb — Best Friend

Your hands were in your pockets,
Your hat over your eyes;
You didn’t seem to know anybody
And neither did I.

Then they started introductions —
The name game all around.
Everybody else took it seriously,
But you and me, we laughed until we cried.

When I first met you,
I didn’t think I liked you.
But now that I know you,
You could be my best friend.
You could be my best friend.

I am from the city,
From the middle of nowhere,
And we don’t talk to strangers;
Don’t talk to anyone who’s there.

I like dogs and you like cats.
I wear lots of colors, and you wear only black.
But we don’t take things too seriously,
So you and me, we’re the perfect pair.
Yeah, you and me, we’re the perfect pair.

When I first met you,
I didn’t think I liked you.
But now that I know you,
You could be my best friend.
You could be my best friend.

And then in a while,
(And then in a while,)
We’ll look back and smile.

‘Cause when I first met you,
I didn’t think I liked you.
But now that I know you,
You could be my best friend.
You could be my best friend.

When I first met you,
When I first met you,
I didn’t think I liked you.
I didn’t think I liked you.
Now that I know you,
Now that I know you,
You could be my best friend.
You could be my best friend.

When I first met you,
When I first met you,
I didn’t think I liked you.
I didn’t think I liked you.
Now that I know you,
Now that I know you,
You could be my best friend.
You could be my best friend.
You could be my best friend.
You could be my best friend.

Lost Possibilities

And, with that, Lost is done.

I’ll probably have a post about the finale or the series or the five years I spent watching it or something before too terribly long; I’ll wait a little while to let people watch it and to process my thoughts.

But, this finale-spoiler-free post is not that. This is my polite request for what I would like to see next.

Oh, sure, the series is over. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have more Lost goodness. In fact, I would argue that rarely has a series done a better job of opening up literally new universes of possibility than Lost has.

These, then, are the Lost spin-offs I would most want to see.

They Call Me Doctor Linus — By day, Benjamin Linus is the world’s most dedicated high school teacher. By night, he’s trying to navigate his way through this crazy thing called love. But who really cares, when he’s also teaches the world’s creepiest high school classes. Dramatic pauses cause basic American history to be goosebump-inducing. “They say that the Civil War pitted … brother against brother.” Every student’s question is answered with another foreboding question. “What were the causes of the Vietnam War, Dr. Linus?” “What makes you think … the Vietnam War didn’t cause itself?” Ben is joined in his school adventures by permanent substitute John Locke, who still teaches school from his wheelchair — until there’s dancing or butt-kicking to be done.

LAPD: Lost Souls — Miles and Sawyer aren’t just detectives, they’re two buddy cops who … well, really, are pretty much like any other buddy cops. But, heck, it’s Miles and Sawyer. That’s gotta be worth something. Miles respects that there’s no crime that Sawyer can’t nickname or sleep his way to solving, but can he help his friend overcome his obsessive secret before it destroys them both?

Stab And Kick — OK, this one wasn’t really a spin-off idea, per se. But in the season premiere, when Ben and Locke pulled the ol’ stab-and-kick to take out Jacob, I kind of liked the idea of that being how they resolved the rest of the series — season six would be devoted to the duo tracking down the remaining characters, stabbing them, and then kicking them into fires. But why stop there? What show wouldn’t be made better by a little Ben-and-Locke-stab-and-kick? An actor on another series wants out of his contract? Ben and Locke show up, and resolve his storyline neatly. They could wrap up other series’ finales conclusively. And, hey, what Conan fan wouldn’t want to see a little Ben-and-Locke-stab-and-kick on the Tonight Show, for example? Or imagine the ending of 60 Minutes — “You know what really bugs me about popular televisi… Ow! Ow! No!”

The Mafia Of Love — With Desmond’s awesome suit, the kidnapping, the money, their elaborate plans, their willingness to do whatever it takes, LA-verse Desmond and Hurley are kind of like the mafia, but the most awesome mafia ever — a mafia of good. By original idea was to turn the basic “Stab And Kick” concept over to them instead of Ben and Locke, with them having a series where they basically keep doing what they were doing in the last few episodes of this season. The crossover-with-other-shows idea had possibilities, too; they could go help characters on other shows learn important lessons — by any means necessary. But then I realized — this one is just begging to be a reality show. People write in about problems they’re having, and then Desmond and Hurley show up in character to help them solve it, whether that means kidnapping them and taking them to a concert, or beating the crap out of them in a school parking lot. You never know what they’re going to do next; you just know, whatever it is, it’s gonna be awesome!!

So, what Lost spin-offs do you want to see?


Heather wanted me to include, from our post-finale discussions, the spin-off that I wouldn’t watch:

Island Rose — Rose and Bernard hang out on the island. Not getting involved. With their dog Vincent. Normal things happen. No one guest stars. Largely unnotable, except for the Emmy awarded to Bernard’s Beard of Awesomeness.

Eye Of The Beholder

OK, I’ve been meaning to write this post since February and have been putting it off, but I can’t write about Jennifer Knapp being gay until I do, so, here goes:

My primary congregation values art.

Sojourn displays members’ art in the brewery where we meet, includes video and other art projects in services, and has a creative arts team, of which I’m a member.

A while back, we had a meeting on “The Good, The True and The Beautiful,” discussing what an artist’s intent should be in creating “Christian art.” The title of the discussion reflected what the goal was hypothesized to be — “Our art must be in the character of our God, who himself is good, (Ps107:1, 119:68), true (Isa45:19, Thess1:9) and beautiful (Ps 27:4).” It went on to say that it doesn’t mean avoiding portraying anything ugly, since there can be beauty in truth.

The discussion led into the artists’ intent — “what are 3-5 questions we can ask ourselves that will help us determine whether or not our art is in character of our God who is good, true, and beautiful?” — and about willingness for artists to put together a statement of intent for artwork to be displayed at the church.

The point seemed two-fold. The surface layer is that it would help viewers to understand the artwork; rather than forcing viewers to look for their own meaning and possibly get the wrong thing out of the piece, the artist should provide his or her own exegesis. But the other layer is that it would screen the artwork — It would help prevent things that were created for self rather than God, or that weren’t truly spiritual in nature, from being displayed in the church.

And, you know, that last sentence does a pretty decent job of capturing my problem with that idea. I had to decide which word to use to end that sentence with — “church,” or “brewery.” And for a lot of people, those words make uneasy synonyms. But while most people look at the Olde Towne building and see something secular, Sojourn looks at it and sees something spiritual. So who are we to say artwork can’t be the same way.

I wrote a post a while back on that subject regarding music; that, for me, there are songs that are not intended as spiritual at all, but because they do such a good job capturing the truth of the human condition, they can’t help put have a spiritual meaning if you choose to listen to them that way; so much of what the heart desires on this Earth is a manifestation of a deeper desire to know, and experience the grace of, our God, to love and be loved by Him.

The issue then isn’t the intent of the artist, because focusing on that limits God. The idea that His goodness, truth and beauty can only be manifested by someone who is endeavoring to do so is almost blasphemy. It limits His greatness. He can be seen in any part of His creation, from the beauty of a sunset to the truth of a song written by anyone, since we are all part of that creation.

The trick isn’t to teach artists how to present that truth; in a way, it’s almost inevitable. The trick is to train people to recognize that. Don’t teach Sojourn artists how to create art about God. Teach Sojourn members how to recognize God in the art that’s created.

Because that goes far deeper than just dealing with the art that hangs on the wall of the brewery. A person who has developed that ability has taken a huge step in the path toward better knowing God. When you know how to see Him in the art in the brewery without a statement of intent, you know how to see Him in the art at the Huntsville Museum of Art, not only with a statement of the artists’ intent, but often without the artist even having that intent at all. You know how to see Him in His art — the thunderstorm or the butterfly or the falling leaves. You learn to see Him in human life, from glory to gutter. You learn to recognize how everything from the stars to the sand shouts testimony to His wonder, how the mountains preach the truth of who He is.

His creation is singing to you, singing of Him. Will you listen?