Friday, November 19, 2010

Jay-Z and I Are Related

I'm a huge fan of the program Fresh Air on NPR. I got hooked after host, Terry Gross, interviewed actor Gabriel Byrne. She is not the most polished interviewer, but her questions probe deep and people always seem to embrace it. This week she had the opportunity to interview Jay-Z on the eve of the release of his new book, Decoded. If you listen to it, you'll hear how awkward all of it was. I hear it was the same during her interview with Tracy Morgan. I just got the sense that she has the confused appreciation for Jay-Z and just doesn't know how to express it. Either way, a 45 second exchange within the first five minutes the most profound. Here's how it went down:
[Terry Gross] In talking about sampling, I'm reminded of something you say in the book that I thought was really interesting. You know you talk about your parents having a big record collection. You're father left when you were very young, I think when you were nine, and you say that most of your friends' fathers had left. You say "Our fathers were gone usually because they just bounced, but we took their old records and used them to build something fresh."
After a long pause, he goes on profoundly to say, "Yeah....yeah, I guess there's a bright side to everything." It seemed to work out fairly well for Jay-Z, right? Well, outside of fame, fortune, and a sweet ability to create rhymes, if I were to meet Jay-Z we would be able to talk about one thing we have in common - growing up without a dad. He had his pops for several years and even afterward it seems there were echoes of his dad around as Jay-Z listened to the words of other people even though his dad was silent in his life. Everyone of us without fathers still have some kind of records they left behind.

Interestingly, I've been wondering about what "records" my dad has left behind for me. For those of us who grow up without fathers, their imprint is still left on our lives on some level. Genetics definitely plays a role, but the footprints of absence make an enormous impact as well. This is a time in my life where I am thinking about how to take those footprints - those records - and make something fresh too. I acknowledge that my father made some very poor decisions, decisions that could easily haunt me the rest of my life (I do wonder if Jay-Z thinks about that at all). However, at the risk of sounding repetitious, God is a father to the fatherless (Ps. 68:5) and I know the true Spirit of adoption as God's son through Christ, the one True Son (Rom 8:15-17; Gal. 4:4-7), so though my earthly father was not around, my heavenly Father is always with me. I have nothing tangible from my father; he never "left," he was just never there to begin with. Yet, as I've said, now is the time of my life where the intangible records are being understood all the more, and with my heavenly Father, I can make something that is not only fresh, but redeemed.

What about you? Have you considered what records your father has left for you, whether he was in your life growing up or not? If so, what are they and what are you doing with them? Whichever way they come, with heartache or with joy, do you see the opportunity to make something fresh with them?

By His Grace.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Be A Bold Stalker

You may have read a few blog posts back about my Britney Spears-like attempt to try something new (and somewhat profitable) with my blog.  Well in that attempt I did actually write a post that was privy only to the elite core of individual(s) who actually signed up for the blog. Here is that premium post for your reading pleasure per gratis.
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The Internet culture has bred funky styles of stalking since it first started. One of my friends recently tweeted, "what bad traits does the internet inflate in your life? in mine? stalking." Now I know that nobody's initial reaction to that is one of disgust or concern. If I gave you a link to her Twitter account your next move wouldn't be to dial 911 and report her maladjusted behavior. You most likely laughed, or if you're a bit more subdued in nature you smirked, smiled, raised your eyebrows - all in affirmation that you are just like her.

Blogs, YouTube, and especially Facebook have brought our stalkerish ways into the light like never before. Hear me right: They have not made us stalkers; they have revealed us to be stalkers. We all spend countless hours doing intense "research" on people. We've all had those moments where, in a conversation with someone, we realize they know way more about us than we've shared personally or vice versa. It's the "Hey, I'm going to New York this weekend and saw some pics of you and your friends when you went there four years ago" conversation. We all have at least one of those "friends" we know so well on the screen, but still manage only to have awkward interactions in person. It's a hesitating wave or a head-nod of acknowledgment that we are, in fact, real people, yet don't want to acknowledge that we know where the person went to high school or have read every entry in his/her blog since they started in 2002.

Now all I'm saying is that we step up our game. If you're gonna stalk, stalk boldly. Be like the guy who leaves weird love letters in your locker or bangs on the door at 3 am sobbing. If you read a blog post and have had some kind of response to it, write a comment. If you watch a video where someone is sharing an idea, and you have thoughts, share them. You see a status update or pic you like, at least give a good ole thumbs up. The Internet culture is actually inviting you to openly stalk. Don't go so crazy so as to slash tires or be like Alicia Silverstone in the 1993 smash-hit The Crush, but seek to embrace an openness to your stalking you may not have thought about before.

These days I am trying to make it a point to leave a comment on blogs I read or videos I watch. I am trying to write something to people on FB if they write something witty or I ReTweet or @reply like crazy on Twitter. If you write me, I will always respond, even if just to say thanks. Don't be a timid stalker, but a bold one, one that starts conversation in a virtual community that fosters that very thing.

What do you say? Will you join me?

By His Grace.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Nobody Knows Me At All

Two weekends ago I went to a concert with some friends to hear a band called The Weepies. The Weepies are described as a “pop folk” band who have developed a pretty strong cult following for a combination of their chill, coffee-shop sound and their mesmerizing harmonies of the husband (Steve Tannen) and wife (Deb Talan) vocals. The venue, Space, was intimate (as in dozens of fake candles “lit” all over the place) trying to create an environment that the 200-plus people there were close friends.

The concert lasted about 90 minutes. I honestly was a little disappointed about the length. However, I loved hearing the background stories of some of their more popular songs. A song called "Riga Girls" is about a time when Steve actually clicked on one of those spam links in his e-mails and it took him to a porn site (surprise surprise). Deb walked in moments later and "caught" him. They talked it out and wrote the song about how false of a world it all is. The lyrics make a ton more sense:
Just a little bit of snake oil, tin foil
It takes so little charm to keep you hanging on
But it's a facade like the sky, like the moon, like your eyes 
Yet it was a song I didn’t know that grabbed most of my attention. It was called Nobody Knows Me At All. Here is one verse from that tune:
When I was a child everybody smiled, nobody knows me at all
Very late at night and in the morning light, nobody knows me at all

Now I got lots of friends, yes, but then again, nobody knows me at all
Kids and a wife, it's a beautiful life, nobody knows me at all
What I was most surprised by was that out of all the songs they played that night, this was the one that people knew the lyrics to the best and sang the loudest along with the band. It is a song about being alone and being unknown in the middle of crowds and the flow of life. There was great irony in the sea of dozens of people from all walks of life joining in one voice to proclaim their “unknown-ness.” The tone of the song is lighthearted as if being unknown can make you “happy as a clam.” It is a stark contrast from the same theme found in Billy Joel’s Piano Man as he sings, “They’re sharing a drink they call loneliness/but it’s better than drinking alone.”

I can’t help but think that this airy sound couched in smiles as each word is sung covers over the true loneliness of being unknown. Furthermore, this is a husband and wife duo, two people who should know each other in every sense of the word. This is in fact how we are made - to know and to be known. Whenever people say, for example, “he knew her in the biblical sense” they speak of the sexual connotations found in verses like Genesis 4:1, where Adam “knew” Eve and she bore Cain.

The word carries the strong sense of intimacy that is not lost on our relationship with God. To be known by God is to be known in the most intimate of ways. This is why the marriage motif is so strong throughout the Bible, especially in the Church’s relationship to Christ. Ephesians 5:22-33 shares that marriage on earth is but a reflection of how the church relates to Christ, drawing on the narrative of Adam and Eve’s consummation when the “two became one flesh.” This is, as Paul says, a profound mystery. Though a mystery, the theme of intimacy and being known by God is traced from Genesis to Revelation, from first creation to New Creation. It is in this that we see our knowing God and being known by God being established, being lost in our sin, and being restored in Christ. God has created us for intimacy with Him and with each other. We are made for relationship. We are made to be known.

Are you singing a song like this? Do you feel like nobody knows you at all despite being surround by a few friends or hundreds of acquaintances? I can’t help but want to join in their song because I know what it is like to try to find solace in my loneliness, but I can also stand alone in silence with joy in my heart because I am known so deeply by my God who created me for him. Do you know him?

By His Grace.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

I'm Pulling a Britney Spears

Many of you may remember when Britney Spears used to be a good singer. Well, maybe you don't remember that, but you will at least remember the debacle of her first marriage. You know, the one that lasted 55 hours?

Well I am pulling a Britney Spears. For one, I am not a good singer either. For another, I filed for an annulment a little over 48 hours from my previous decision to use letter.ly. The process is complete and I am moving back here. I have several reasons for this, which I could explain, but don't think it is too necessary. If I had a publicist, I would point you to him.

I am grateful to have the opportunity to write, record, and share here and for you to read or watch what is going on. Thanks for being a part of this. It is a joy. Continue to be on the lookout!

By His Grace.

Monday, November 01, 2010

A Blog That's Worth It

So I've recently been introduced to this sweet new newsletter called letter.ly

There is a shift in today's Internet economy that is explained really well by this guy where he mentions letter.ly as a key player.

If you've gotten this far, then you know where I'm going. All the craziness that is this blog is going through a shift and I hope it is a shift you will be a part of. For only the price of two MP3s, a cup of coffee, or anything else that cost $1.99, you can sign up for my letter.ly newsletter, JackedUpCat, for $1.99 a month. That be it!

This blog will, for the most part, end. The content you see here you will receive via e-mail through JackedUpCat. You've seen this blog. Much will be in the same vein. Some will change. In essence these are thoughts on jacked up living from one jacked up cat, hence the name.

I'd love for you to sign up and enter into this venture with me. The payments work through your Amazon account, which most of us have. So what are you waiting for? Click below and hook it up!

http://www.letter.ly/JackedUpCat

By His Grace.