Songwriter Post – Original Song “I’ll Stand”

Before I began seminary studies I used to write and record a lot of music. I had a podcast i’d put them on that was supported by iWeb, and i can’t remember the reasons why, but Apple removed support for iWeb, thus deleting podcasts that were fed by it. 

Those files sat on an old macbook pro that stills works but collects dust, so I thought i better start transferring them to youtube. And i bet youtube will disappear like that podcast did. But anyways, I like this song. I like the way it turned out. It is very difficult to play – but i enjoy the music around it.

As for the lyrics I wrote… it’s a very intimate portrait of me and Jesus. Let me know if you like it.

(The lyrics are on the youtube site).

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For real, does anyone read the Bible anymore?

A friend posted this Kickstarter campaign on Facebook tonight. It’s about some dude who wants to inspire more people to read the Bible by making it look and feel more like a normal book, and taking away all the annoying things we’ve added to it like chapters and verses and section titles. 

The guy is like an actual book maker – so it’s also sort of artistic. But not like the Saint John’s Bible – it’s not illustrated.

Anyways. I’m also attending a Rethinking Faith Formation Conference this week, and i’m sure I’ll have more reflections about it, but one of the things that jumped out at me… And yes, i’m overly critical (i won’t even say that i “can be” overly critical, i just am…) The first speaker who gets up to speak about faith formation began with……. 

Wait for it…

The “identity” of a the person being formed. Those are my words. He just talked about “identity.” This was at a Lutheran seminary (though it’s supposed to be an ecumenical conference, this is a popular Lutheran pastor and professor).  

In fact, after three main sessions today – no one, not one person barely said the name of Jesus Christ, or the Holy Spirit’s action in taking the Word of Jesus and using it to transform us. For real. What the heck, right? Is this where we are? Are we this assumptive with this whole thing? And is that why faith formation is plummeting across the board in all denominations? Are we assuming we got the first principle right – when we’ve completely pushed God aside?

Are we really the beginning subject of faith formation?

I’m not being a jerk here – not trying to be disrespectful, but for real?

I was turned off by this. Upset.

Is this the best we can do? More focus on me-me-me?

Then when i got home and i saw this Kickstarter campaign i thought gosh dang. For real, come on. America, come on, for real. Really? We need another freaking study bible? We need another marketed gimmick to sexy-up the Scriptures because we’re finally coming to the realization that no one is reading the grande old book anymore and the little bit that’s evangelical that’s left in us is sort of worried about the voodoo behind that? 

I think i’ve blogged before that i pretty much quit reading the Bible in seminary. And i’m attending a moderate-conservative evangelical seminary… – not a Lutheran one (but my guess is probably very accurate that it’s even “worse” there…) unless it was assigned reading (and it was), it’s fallen out of use for me in many respects.

No lightening bolts. No misfortune. In fact, maybe my faith is stronger now. And i’ll probably read it more after i graduate. 

Just being honest.

Then i wonder about my church, and i wonder about the students i care about and their families. Those i serve and pray for. Will i lead kids thru a confirmation process and they could essentially spend 4 years there and never have read the Bible? How about their parents. Read? Any of it? ANYYYY OFFF ITTTT?? 

Like i get these app ads about Bible apps and i think to myself, for real? Are people downloading those apps and really reading the Bible on them? I think it’s cool to have all these Bible apps, and i have them for Greek too – all sorts of tools – bc to me it’s cool to have that. But I’m serious, for real, is anyone using them? To read?

I was the odd kid. I was the one who came home from high school everyday and would sit and read the Bible for hours. I memorized so much scripture. I did it on my own, basically. It captivated me. I have Bibles that are so marked up and worn that they are held together with duct tape. And i was/ am proud of that. The old saying, “The person who has a Bible that is falling apart, probably isn’t…” yeah. Now, i remark that it arose out of a fundamentalist mindset, and helped make that mindset even worse, but still.

Does anyone read the Bible anymore?

Anyone? 

And what would happen if we did? For real. I think about this. What if I could convince my church to do a campaign bigger than Lent or Advent where we were really going to read the Bible – FOR OURSELVES – imagine that… scary! And let it captivate us? Are we too worried? Do we want to be the filter people read thru so we read it for them? I wonder. Where do we get our campaigns for social justice and politics? Could anyone – anyone – turn to one scripture story, or one verse even to proof text, hell, i’d take a proof text if anyone could find me one, just to prove they are looking in the scriptures at all… to give one reason why we do anything or believe anything as a “believer” in Jesus? Anyone?

Does anyone read the Bible anymore?

 

Have the sports gods won the battle of youth ministry?

I may have blogged about this before, but the issue is still hot and will get hotter. 

A colleague posted this blog about traveling sports on Facebook and how it has commandeered a percentage of family life from the church.

You know, it’s a percentage; that’s how I’m going to say it. It’s not everyone. And it may be a scapegoat full-time youth workers can hide behind. 

But their gods are strong. And many can disagree with me, and it’s very easy for me to say, as someone who doesn’t have kids… I consider dedication to sports that require most of your weekends and most of your days (and lots o’ cash) to be a religion. Maybe it’s even a true religion! The dedication and religiosity that surrounds the idea of sports commitment is commendable on the one hand. Here are people that come together as a community, giving a lot of cash (oh did i say that already??) lots of time, lots of talk, lots of learning together. Tons of connection. That’s actually very cool. [Here i’ll insert my other cranky opinion, that the whole “my kid will have a better college /chance for scholarships blah blah if they give up their elementary, middle, and high school years” thing is total crap. Sorry, it’s crap!]

For some, maybe even for many, those sports gods have won. We don’t see those kids, those teens, those parents at the table receiving the holy meal. We don’t hear their words sing in unison to the hymn of the day. We don’t get to benefit from their gifts of hospitality as greeters, pot-luck planners, table wiper-offers, committee chair people, etc. They’re gone. In fact, it’s hard for me to call someone a member of an organization they never or very rarely invest in with their voice, their presence, their service. Cranky, yes. 

Before i say more, let’s be honest. Or maybe i’ll just be the one who’s honest for the rest who are too scared: The church is sadly NO replacement for the belonging, affirmation, inclusion and welcome that entire families receive in these clubs and sports. I’ll be the first to LOUDLY admit it. The positive experiences and the sense of teamwork and belonging is not matched in almost anything the church is producing today… We have philosophies, vision statements, lesson plans, and low or no-budget “events.”

Should we compete? Can we compete?

What’s sad to me is the traveling sports folks are a percentage but not a large percentage of our membership.

What are we doing with and for the families who would make the time for church if the church was something worthwhile to invest in? Maybe we should rejoice that the sports families found their religion on the field (again, i’ll say i’m sorry if that sounds judgmental, but traveling sports meet ALL of the qualifications of dedication to a deity or religion).

As for the rest – what for them?

I have began to wonder about the idea of investment – what would prompt me to invest as a member of a non-profit? Do we need to look for returns? Or can we admit that we do? Do we need to be more transparent about what is going on or not going on? Can we be more connected to other non-profits who are doing the same thing in the community that we would like to? 

Yes, I just called the holy gathering of Jesus Christ a non-profit. We’re acting like it sometimes. That’s got to change. See ya in the stands, or on the field. Win win win!