Wednesday, May 31, 2006

WHAT THE!!!!???

I recently heard that -"Eating Chicken gives You Man-Boobs"???!!! Is this true???

Have you all heard this theory??? I recently heard from my health-conscience Pastor that somehow the Hormones injected in ALL non-organic-bought Chicken along with the Milk we drink is causing more and more men to need a BRO. I would doubt this theory if I could deny that I have begun to notice more and more toddlers and older men with what very-well could be construed as boobies.

If this is true, I demand an explanation from our government. If I wake up in 5 years and see that I have acquired anything resembling breasts I am going to start a revolution that could border on violent.

I want to know the truth behind this. I can no longer eat my Chick-fil-a nuggets without glancing down at my chest for some sign of growth. This has caused a serious damper on my days as of late and I would like this issue to be resolved. Quickly.

So, if any of you know if there is any truth in this theory, please fill me in. (no pun intended)


A Chick-fil-A maniac.

Monday, May 29, 2006

The Chain


The secret is out ladies, or should I say, MASTER!!!!!

I have discovered the ever elusive "chain" that one refers to when the ancients spake of the "ball and chain" (el ballius chanus) It took me a while to unravel this mystery but finally through much prayer and discernment I have ascertained the truth of the enigma that is the "chain"..... The purse.

That's right the purse. I wish I could claim my intellect and keen deduction skills as the barer of this truth but alas, I cannot. I stumbled upon it just as Alexander Fleming discovered Penicillin, by accident. It was so SIMPLE!!!! ... Yet...So......Powerful. I don't know why I have never seen it before.

I will tell you the tale of discovery if you are ready for the truth.

We (my wife and I) were eating at the "Sweet Tomato" tonight and I had just finished a round of made-from-scratch pepperoni pizza. Wanting more I swallow my last bite of tasty pizza bliss and prepared to get up for round 3. "I need to beat the chubby kid in the table next to me. We have both been eating our pizza and eyeing each others progress from the start" I quietly thought.

As I was casting a triumphant smirk to the portly toddler and ready to move, to my surprise, my wife was already stealthily sliding out of the booth.

"Don't go anywhere" she said in a hypnotic mono-tone.
As I looked her in the eyes she said,
"my purse is here and I need you to watch it."
Slightly confused by the scenario I mumbled pathetically,
"but I'm hungry too"
Then she waved her hand in front of me not unlike the Jedi does when performing the "Jedi Mind Trick" and said,
"you don't NEED anything right now, you NEEED to watch my purse"
I found myself answering almost involuntarily
"sure honey, I NEED to watch your purse"

I sat there paralyzed. Hunger alone was my only source of sanity.
"I want food" my mind and tummy proclaimed.
"but the purse,...I must stay....the purse (cue echo effect)."
I began using my hunger-driven rationale.
"Well, I could just assert my will and go anyway," I thought.
"No, then if the purse was stolen I would be responsible"
Again I pondered,
"Well, I could just take the purse with me it is rather small."
But there again my shameless masculinity instinct would forbid such an action.

There I sat, in a relative state of frustration and stillness. I stared at the immobile purse and it stared from her seat back at me.

It was at this moment my friends, I had my "apostrophe"

I realize that I am chained. I cannot move. There is no alternative. I am aware now that the dangling bag that women carry around their shoulders is actually a very powerful tool of control. It is disguised by the fact that it serves some practical purposes. It even comes in fantastic colors matching the outfit of the female so as to camouflage and distract the weaker sex (men) from knowing its true and real purpose- Bondage.

So from this day forth, I do hereby begin my study of this tactic to develop a counter-attack.

I will brief all those who have ears to hear when I have formulated an effective counter-chain.

Until then... Beware.

(and feel free to offer your suggestions...)

And the Listeners Cried Out

LONDON (AFP) - An English radio station said it has banned songs by British crooner James Blunt from its airwaves after listeners said they were fed up with hearing "You're Beautiful" and "Goodbye My Lover".

Chris Cotton, programme controller of local radio Essex FM in southern England, said: "We don't have anything against James Blunt and we're pleased he has been so successful, but we really need a break."

The music industry exerts a lot of pressure on radio stations to play certain artists' music over and over again, Cotton said.

"Often this can be out of step with the audience's tastes, which results in songs being overplayed," he said. "We're happy to stand up to this pressure and follow the strong message listeners have given us. We encourage other radio stations to take the same step."

Despite this minor setback, Blunt has enjoyed phenomenal success since his voice first emanated from radio stations across the world last year.

"You're Beautiful" topped the charts in 25 countries.

In March, the former army officer became the first British artist to reach the number one slot in the US Billboard chart in nine years.

His album, "Back To Bedlam" has sold more than seven million copies worldwide

One of the things that I appreciate about our Local Houston Station KSBJ is that they are listener supported and they initated an online music panel that ANY listener can participate in. It is not just left up to a room full of soccer moms per say but anyone can participate in these surveys and comment and vote.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Church History and Slash

So I decided to go down to the pool with the wife today to shed some light on my radiantly white flesh. I flipped open my Church History book for some ...light reading and slipped in the ear plugs connected to my very nifty Ipod Shuffle. I had forgotten what songs I loaded on my shuffle and was at first pleasantly greeted with Johnny Cash singing "When the Man Comes Around."

"This is a good soundtrack for Church History" I thought, and turned to the section on the Crusades. I was plowing my way through valiant sword fight after sword fight in the name of our Lord when to my surprise, the tender guitar stylings of a certain "Slash" from "Guns 'n Rose"s started oozing its way from my external ear into my eardrum which caused me to float against my will back to my adolescence. I immediately shut those painful memories of awkwardness down, stopped my reading, and began to listen to "Sweet Child of Mine" with new ears. I then remembered that my favorite guitar solo is found in this song. As a matter of fact, for me, this song holds the greatest electric guitar moment of the 80's. Right before the grunge crappers and Nirvana knock-offs stormed the radio, Slash was king. He was the last great guitar player that ruled the radio waves and he was the last of his kind. Back when Rock Stars were not caricature of themselves. Back when the myth was real and when the man with the long curly hair crowned with a large top-hat picked up his guitar it was if a god had descended from Asgard to hypnotize his fans into new levels of Rock ecstasy. (All before we found out they were just drunken stupid losers who were mostly miserable unless they were drunk or stoned into oblivion.) Before MTV created the video Rock Star, someone who looks "cool" at all times. So cool that every spoken sentence is rehearsed mentally before they say it. Before labels had to create the image of the myth for the sole reason of capitol gain.

If you have not listened to Sweet Child of mine for a while I encourage you to turn it on. When you do, you will notice something peculiar and unexpected. These guys were pretty darn good musicians. Slash's solo is worked out like a fine Sonata. It is beautiful and powerful. Now, I realize that no one will ever achieve the raw power of creativity and force of nature that was Jimmy Hendrix but Slash gave us the bookend to this era. You can find no finer moment in Rock Guitar history than in Sweet Child of Mine. And what a song. Who writes songs like this anymore? It begins with a Guitar solo then goes to a verse/chorus then another Guitar interlude, not too showy, then another verse/chorus and Guitar solo, a little showier than the first. Then a bridge to another guitar solo except this time the solo takes us to a new place, major turns to minor and the solo builds to a climax as fine as any musical development can deliver. Finally the song ends with a CODA!!!! A section that has very little to do with the rest of the song but bursts with new energy delivering something that we had not expected but love. Can't you hear it now ...'Where do we go now? Where do we gowooo oooo where do we go now...?" YESS!!!! CAN YOU FEEL IT???!! Come on people get out those air guitars and go to work! What the heck, break out the Air Drums while you're at it! Relive those glory days of your youth. Simultaneiously remember what it was like to be 12 years old and in love with rock and roll AND what it feels like to be inside of the psyche of someone who works at Guitar Center RIGHT NOW.

Sweet dreams.

So, it's confession time. What is your Sweet Child of Mine moment...i.e. your favorite 80s rock song? I am all ears...

Friday, May 26, 2006

Quit Messin'

Will it ever end? Can people just chill on using Christianity as your vehicle for greater riches. I think we should start getting royalties or something. Madonna, come on. I have always had this weakness for you. I have detested just about every word that has ever slithered from your mouth but somehow you always have me at the end of the day singing along with you on the radio. "Just like a prayer, I'll take you there." (I guess people in the 19th century had the same problems with Wagner.) But come on. What is this crap? It is not even offensive anymore. It is laughable. It is like some TOO weird-Weird Al Yankovich skit. It's Easy-Trix-Barbie meets 2001 Space Odyssey meets Jesus Christ Super Star. No wait a minute, that might be interesting. The sad thing about all this is that no one believes you anymore. You have out Kabbalah'd Cruise's Couch-hopping-crazy-laughing-Oprah-patti-cake Scientology blitz. (That didn't really make sense but it was fun to type and you all get my drift.)

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


One of my heroes is Mother Teresa. I love and admire her so much that I wrote a song about her.

In concert we usually run this video while we sing so it is more of an accompaniment video than an actual music video but I still love it. Hope you enjoy.

(BTW this is the only place you can hear the song without buying
  • the album
  • so spread the word!)

  • here
  • to see it.


    "Holiness spreads fast where there is Kindess" - Mother Teresa

    Saturday, May 20, 2006


    The DaVinci code, (sigh) a review and thoughts.

    Hope you bring truckers roid cushion to the flick. The original title "The Never Ending Story" was already taken so they went with the “Da Vinci Code.”

    Okay so I feel a bit silly. Did I really think that Ron Howard, Dan the man Brown and a wavy haired Tom Hanks were going to give Orthodox Christianity a sizeable headache?

    So the movie wasn't horrible. I found it mildly entertaining to say the least. It reminded me of that big scene in Lord of the Rings where they all meet around the round table and all those flashbacks take place. The whole film was pretty much endless dialogue, mingled with flashbacks and two good chase scenes.

    Poor Albinos. They can't seem to get a break. I think I have seen at least 5 movies that have evil Albinos running amuck. If you have an Albino child you might as well start warming up to the mob or start prepping them for the life of a hit man.

    One of the things that still struck me was the magnitude of the film’s accusation. If you have been keeping up with the news online and reading for the sake of argument a few other atheist blogs you will notice that this theory in this movie or something similar to it is pretty much the theory that they all buy. Lock, Stock and Barrel. And to whatever credit I can muster for them, I believe that it is the best argument that they have to date. Here it is in a nutshell: (skip this next paragraph if you are tired of hearing it)

    Jesus was a good and powerful teacher. His followers kept his teachings after his death. Some believed that he was resurrected some did not. There was much arguing that went on. The Romans hated Christians. They got killed for a couple hundred years because they believed in this troublemaker rabbi. Along the way some other people wrote accounts of Jesus. These were written at least a hundred years after His death. These are the Gnostic Gospels. They include books like Gospel of Mary, Gospel of Thomas, and Gospel of Judas.

    Along comes Constantine 3 or 4 hundred years later. He has a dream. (No not that kind of dream Forky.) The dream shows him winning big battles with a Christian symbol on sword toting Roman’s shield. He tries it. He wins big battle. He decides to make Christianity legal and puts the Christian symbol on everything. Christians get a break from being the favorite dish on the all- you-can-eat Lion buffet and become respected and flourish. Christianity then gets mingled with Mithraism, the pagan religion of Rome, the cult of the Bull. Constantine sees division in the Christian world and decides to unite them. Constantine MAKES Jesus divine and picks only the books in the Canon that would present him as divine. (These just happen to be the books that were written closest to the life of Jesus but that’s beside the point.) Jesus is raised to stature of divine and Christianity picks up a bunch of things from Mithraism. Underneath all of this lies the theory and proof of Jesus’ humanity/non-divinity where Jesus knocks up Mary Magdalene and she has a little bambino. She splits for France and the line of Jesus is the actual Holy Grail.

    Uh Huh.

    To a real historian, Christian or Atheist, this theory is a bunch of smoldering elephant crap. Even the educated movie critic sees the stupidity of it all. I love what Roger Ebert says about this theory.

    "I know there are people who believe Brown's fantasies about the Holy Grail, the descendants of Jesus, the Knights Templar, Opus Dei and the true story of Mary Magdalene. This has the advantage of distracting them from the theory that the Pentagon was not hit by an airplane."

    What is fascinating about this theory is how easily and readily it is swallowed. I believe that people are looking for an excuse to get out of facing the Gospels wielded by nagging Evangelical Protestants polluting our television screens and airwaves.

    The Gospels do present a real problem to the non-believer. They are considered valid Historical documents withstanding the test of time and scrutiny of Hostile Historians, but they have a problem; those darn Miracles. They are supposedly written by eyewitnesses and those who knew the eyewitnesses and yet they contain things like healing blind men, walking on water, and a Man who claimed to be one with Almighty God and proved it by rising from the dead. The gospels do not leave many options. They have that distinct aroma of something real yet they involve something so miraculous that if it were true it would be the single greatest event in the history of the Universe.

    Now lets offer the theory to which most Historians agree. Sometime between 3 B.C. and 40 A.D. a Man named Jesus lived. He lived, taught and did some pretty revolutionary things. He must have caused quite a stir. He must have been doing and saying things that really ticked off the Head-Honcho Jews. So revolutionary that it got him killed. His existence is recorded by other valid historical sources besides the Gospels and the Epistles. The fact that he is even recorded in other historical records only doing his thing for three years in small villages and towns around Palestine is pretty amazing stuff.

    So he was killed and had followers. His followers claimed that they saw him resurrected from the dead. They were so overwhelmed by seeing him crucified and raised that they gave their lives, proclaiming this good news. The Christians were a Jewish cult, derived from Jewish customs and rules, which the Jews called the Law to which the Christians claimed that Jesus fulfilled. The religion spread. The Jews got mad. It kept spreading. The Romans got mad. The early Christians thought Jesus was coming back any day and when they realized that He might not come back while they were alive, they wrote down in the form of a biography (bios) the Gospels the earliest being Mark and the other two probably using Mark as their model. This all happened within the generation that saw Jesus crucified.

    Christianity spreads. There are debates among Christians on just how divine Jesus was. Some said the he was more divine than man. This made sense to the Gnostics because they considered the flesh to be crappy therefore how could God inhabit crappiness? Well these kinds of debates went on for a while and true Christianity still flourished. Constantine did have the dream. He did declare Christianity the Religion of choice thanks to his big win. Constantine really didn't care as much for religion as he did for power and uniformity. He then assembled the council of Nicaea and Christians came together and stamped out heretical views and decided what they believed to be the valid Scriptures (our cannon) and important interpretations of already existing views of Christ. The Nicene Creed is a beautiful example.

    The film truly comes of as a fictional depiction. Come on, Mary Magdalene buried under the Louvre? Tom Hanks give the best performance he can which is saying a lot. The French chick can only be so French and mysterious without getting annoying. The plot twist at the end of the film borders on a Scooby Doo ending.

    As a film I give it a C+ to a B-. It is long-winded and ponderous. How could it not? It only has to re-explain the history of western civilization for the past two thousand years while throwing in a couple of car chases, a mean Albino, and introduce Jesus' great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great Grandaughter.

    Friday, May 19, 2006


    Most of you know Houston as a haven for mosquitoes, smog, crossdressers, traffic, hatred for Albert Pujols, and Squelching-hot-cuss-word-invoking-humid days. When I first moved here I wondered what the first settlers must have thought.

    First Settler Husband: "Whooooaaaa bessie! (horse brings covered wagon to stop) "Hey Darlin! Take a look out side! (pauses and looks in amazement) "Just look at them mosquitoes would ya. Do ya feel that heat?!

    First Settler Wife: "I sure do sugar plum! My goodness! Just take a gander at that bay! I have never imagined ocean water sooo brown and crappy."

    F.S.H.: (leans in to his wife and whispers reeeall tender) "kinda reminds me of yer hair sugarplum"

    F.S.W. "OHH I do declare you nasty, naughty cowboy!"

    (the two in -love settlers giggle and retreat into their covered wagons and come back out in 4.25 minutes. While they are inside the horse collapses with heat exhaustion)

    F.S.H. "Well would you look at that. Old dollar likes it so much he's gonna take himself a nap."

    F.S.W. "It sure is crappy out here. LETS SETTLE DOWN!!"

    F.S.H. "Anything for you my little desert cactus"

    Something like that.

    So in the midst of the humidity, endless traffic and road work, pittiful drivers, and cussword-inducing heat, there lies a quaint oasis. My little French Bakery. This French Bakery is located in Rice Village. When you walk in the doors you feel like you have walked into a little bakery in Europe. Thats probably why they named it "The French Bakery." When eating your meal you might hear conversations in several different languages as it attracts those who miss their homeland. But that isn't the best part, it only provides the atmosphere for my delight.

    Now I love me some food. I wait in anticipation for it. As a matter of fact each evening feels a bit like Christmas. I can appreciate a good and fine meal like one appreciates a work of art or architecture. It does not matter if it is a hamburger or a Filet Mignon, if it is made with care and love, my taste buds will be forever thankful. Confucius say: "Happy is the Seth whose meal is full of flavor." (cue Chinese gong) So lets just call the French Bakery Santa in an apron.

    So I have decided to share some photos from my little oasis for your Friday evening pleasure.

    Have fun at the Da Vinci Code!!!

    Behold my little oasis.

    Will you just take a moment and behold the beauty of this banquet of delight. GOOD LORD.

    This is my favorite seat at my little oasis. I often feel sorry for the person sitting in this seat when I arrive. I will sit in no other seat so I usually come up to the table and begin vocalizing in my best Pavarotti immitation picking my nose and staring out the window longingly. OR I act as though I am a bus-boy and inform them that I forgot to wipe the table after a elderly man barfed his ham and egg quiche on the table before they arrived. Either tactic usually works like a charm.

    Thursday, May 18, 2006

    Blog Highlights

    I thought I would would highlight some other blogs today. I am taking without permission some quotes from other blogs to share with you some things that struck me as terrific. If you haven't sampled any of these people's blogs then I hope that this inspires you. The first quote from a discussion on Shlog about Calvinism. My friend the Cachinator can be both profound and funny, his blog usually leans to the humorous side and most of you read it anyway, so I thought I would display him fired up and on. I think he showed some real gutts to step out here and breath some fire into this comment section. When I read it, he reminded me of those old great debates our founding fathers used to have.

    "...To follow Calvinist thought is to render null the Great Commission. What need would the disciples have of authority from heaven if heaven had already decided the fate of the world? How can one make disciples of all nations if disciples are made before time? And the answer is the same garbage every time: that scripture clearly means all elect nations despite the obvious fact that it is absent entirely from the text...

    ...And what kind of God does it create? One who cruelly dangles hope, since there is no hope in Calvinism. One who intentionally misleads people through scripture, since he does not make this doctrine clear. (Again, unless you're elect, and on the inside where the filth of the damned humans can't touch you.) And one who condemns people to do what he created them to do, and then punishes them eternally for doing what he has forced them to with no opportunity for reprieve.

    ...And the most awfully sad part about saying all this is that some people will dismiss it without a thought because they've been taught that I don't get it because I'm not elect. No matter how urgent the fire in my bones for God. No matter the dedication of my life to his service. Either that or I am saved, and what a lucky schmuck that makes me since I don't even believe I got there the right way. Both perspectives spit on me and my life.

    Calvinist election is a salvation for heaven alone - the world here and now be damned. Literally."

    Another is from Kat's blog where she told the sweet story of her little girl's innocent ability to trust God totally to find the thing that meant the world to her, her lost stuffed monkey.

    "He has the power to calm the raging seas with a word. He holds the keys to life and death. And He cares about my little girl's stuffed monkey."

    I needed to reminded that God cares about every thing in my life. He cares about my needs. We may laugh it off and say "well, does God REALLY care about a little girl's stuffed monkey?" Well does God really care if we get our paycheck this week? Does God really care if we find something to eat? We can be assured that the God of the universe, the God that called forth something from nothing and still holds it all together, knows our needs and meets them.

    Another came from Operamama's blog about PMS.

    "Lately I have decided to name my alternate personality when dealing with PMS. Essie. Short for estrogen. Every time I have a nasty, paranoid, depressed, morbid, or just plain negative thought, (more than usual, I mean) then I just say, "Down essie, Down!" It makes me feel a smidge more in control."

    I can't relate but it sure was a funny read. BTW I tried that on my wife,...not a good idea.

    Another highlight of this past week came from Forky's blog about the great love of his life.

    "There are a few things in life I'd really rather not have. Bad acne. Seven fingers as opposed to the traditionally conservative ten. Male pattern baldness. A job at a paper mill. A forked tongue. Kidney stones.

    But if there's one thing that would make me genuinely depressed to have, it'd be peanut allergies.

    If I came down with peanut allergies, I know I'd cry real salt tears. Into my pillow. Every night. I might even decide to end it all by drowning myself in the one thing I love more than my nine toenails:

    Peanut butter. Rich, creamy, Someone-help-I-can't-stop-eating-this PEANUT BUTTER."

    A funny, funny man people. Cachinator has another name for him, but you'll have to read his blog to find out.

    There are many more highlights to post but I am tired and must nap. Thanks to all for keeping me entertained and moved.

    Monday, May 15, 2006

    Imogen and Keys

    I FOUND MY KEYS!!!! WHAWHOOOO!!!!! Oh dear Lord of Hosts. Thank you, thank you. I was sooooo looking forward to telling the professor at Rice who doesn't care for me in the first place that I had lost the key that he has hounded me for the past 2 weeks. I could say the hardest place to find an atheist is in a path of a tornado or in the clothes of man who has lost his wallet or keys. (A close second and third would in the mind of a teenage boy who's girlfriend has missed her period or someone who has the unfortunate luck of having a sickness that causes the old two way expulsion.)

    I thought that I had lost my blasted keys Friday night at the Imogen Heap concert.

    That concert was fantastic. Afterwards the wife and I were discussing the pro's and con's of amazing CD production. Imogen's new CD is fantastic. That's all there is to it. The woman has got it going on. Hide and Seek is a MUST listen. If you have not heard it, stop reading now, go to Itunes and download it for a buck. You won't regret it. For all the fun and beauty of this CD it is a monument of production. Which begs the question how to do it live. With tracks? Lame. Hybrid tracks and live? Semi-lame but less lame. Somehow she pulled it off nary a track. One talented lady.

    We have run into some of this problem with our new CD. Some of the songs were highly produced but only for the purpose of making something beautiful and just downright fun. Actually the most produced tracks are the ones least likely to be played on the Radio. With a high level of production comes the cost of the performance. This is where Imogen inspired me. She has inspired me like Mute Math has inspired me. You CAN do interesting electronic things live. I have seen Bjork do her thing but she always seems to have a couple of computer genius geeks stirring their computer cauldrons performing live computer stunts possible only for the most freakishly brilliant mutant computer nerdoramas.

    Mute Math and Imogen seemed to make it look doable AND believable. The fusion of electronica and Acoustic/traditional rock elements is accessible according to what I have witnessed.

    Anywho, some pictures from the concert for your evening glimpse into our fun little world!

    G'night all.

    Me before the concert. Little did I know my keys were hiding at the place I got my tasty tea.

    Me and my fascinatingly beautiful Wife Amber.

    Imogen doin' her thing.

    Me and the Wife again in concert enjoying some music and forbidden Baptist Joy Juice.

    Imogen singing hide and seek using her "Keytar" to create the beauty of Hide and Seek.

    The Call from the Code?

    I know, I know, how many friggin blogs, articles, magazines, chat rooms, news specials, SERMONS etc. are there going to be dedicated to this Da Vinci crap? Well instead of turning this post into a tar and feather session for Dan the Man Brown I hope to use this opportunity to do something else. I hope to infuse to life the frozen Zygote of an idea laying dormant in every professing Christian's Spirit. An idea that goes against our Protestant roots but yet we hear the still small voice because it comes from the very Holy Spirit that lives in us. We have turned our deaf ears to this call long enough...

    Division. (no not the call, I'll get to that in a sec.)

    Admit it, there is something about it that appeals to us Protestants. The very word Protestant means to Protest. We don't like for people to tell us what to do. If we decide we don't think you need to be Baptized and it is extraneous then we just do the old denominational switch. If we don't like the color of hair dye our pastor uses, we switch denominations. We mix and match our Denominations to describe ourselves and our beliefs as if it is a combining of ethnicities or a recipe for a gourmet souffle. "I am a Practicing Baptacostal with a dash of Episcopal sensibility, topped with a flurry of Anabaptist pacifism" Well, I have begun to yearn for something different. I am beginning to think all that mix and matching, cut and pasting, taylor making our beliefs is a bunch of nonsense. I am ready for something else. Unity. It is because of this tendency to compartmentalize that has given the world so many different definitons of Christianity.

    I will begin my quest for this grail with an excerpt taken from the FAQ section of Dan Brown's Official Website. (Dan Brown is the author of "the Da Vinci Code" if you have been living in a third world country tilling the earth behind your mule for the past 6 months)

    "Yes. Interestingly, if you ask three people what it means to be Christian, you will get three different answers. Some feel being baptized is sufficient. Others feel you must accept the Bible as absolute historical fact. Still others require a belief that all those who do not accept Christ as their personal savior are doomed to hell. Faith is a continuum, and we each fall on that line where we may. By attempting to rigidly classify ethereal concepts like faith, we end up debating semantics to the point where we entirely miss the obvious--that is, that we are all trying to decipher life's big mysteries, and we're each following our own paths of enlightenment. I consider myself a student of many religions. The more I learn, the more questions I have. For me, the spiritual quest will be a life-long work in progress."

    I look at this quote and I think that it is time that Christians Particularly Protestants get together and agree on a few things. The whole reason we have most of the doctrines we have today, written down and agreed on by the church in ages past, is because of claims just like the ones made in this Da Vinci Code. The early church fathers would get together, pray, debate and pretty much say, "Nope. Sorry Arius, you're out. And here is why..." More and more we see the need for unity in the Body of Christ. What does it mean to be a Christian? Who is a Christian and who is not? Is it okay to ask that second question? The gospels and letters of Paul make things so simple when it comes this and we make things complex. But is there more? I don't have the answers to all these questions but I am ready to learn. I have my ideas for points of agreement for an across the board agreement on what it is to be a Christian. Honestly, they are not my ideas, they have been around a long, long time. What would be yours? What can a Church of Christ layman and a Catholic priest agree on to call each other brethren? What about Pentecostal and Baptists? Anabaptists and Fundamental right-wing politically minded, talk-radio-addicted Baptists?

    If you were to send out a letter to every church Claiming to be a Christian denomination stating "this" is what it means to be a Christian then what would it look like?

    The Dan Browns writing inaccurate depictions of our faith, and the rest of the unbelieving world is waiting.

    The early Christians used to put these statements of belief in a song or prose. I like that idea.

    Saturday, May 13, 2006

    Son, Can't you see She's a Bimbo!

    Well, its Mother's Day and if it wasn't for my sweet considerate wife, my dear, dear Mother would stand narry a chance of receiving a card. I'll admit it. I am horrible at birthdays and all the other celebration days. I am one absent minded professor. Not too long ago, I almost walked out the door of my apartment to work-out wearing only my tennis shoes, a t-shirt and my boxer-briefs underwear. Sometimes I attempt to unlock my Apartment door with my Car alarm clicker thingy. Just stand there clicking at my door lock, waiting for something to happen. I just lost my keys yesterday at an Imogen Heap concert (blog a'coming on that one I assure you) and I have to wait till Monday to get them. I CAN'T REMEMBER ANYTHING that I do not write down except for theology, music and movie trivia. The first Christmas I was married my family all gasped when we started handing out gifts under the tree for the unwrapping because there were actually gifts under the tree FROM me. They all profusely thanked my wife and so did I because it actually felt pretty good to be on the giving side for once instead of the feeling-guilty-because-my-7-year-old-niece-bought-me-a-present-and-I-forgot-to-buy-jack-for-anyone side.

    Well, this time, I am doing something about all this forgetting nonsense. I am going to blog about my Mom.

    My mother is the smartest woman I know and let me tell you life can get pretty interesting for a young stubborn boy when you mother is that smart. There is pretty much no chance of EVER getting away with anything. She has a blood hound sniffer when it comes to lies, poor character, and poor grammers. (that one for you Mom hehe)

    I learned all the Bible stories from my Mom. She used to read them out of the Bible story book to us every night. I remember funny things about my Mother as well. Like when she used to draw the most amazing clowns on the bulletins at church to keep my A.D.D. mind occupied. I remember and still love her famous biscuits and gravy. I remember how she used to make pancakes every Sunday night after church as a tradition and I love how she makes all the coming home for Thanksgiving and Christmas so fun because of all the preparations and love she puts into everything. The homemade pumpkin pie from scratch tastes like it was made in Narnia.

    My mother is also the wittiest woman I know. I was visiting home from college one winter, and my parents and I were all just having a little cozy time watching "Its a Wonderful Life" accompanied by a warm crackling fire. A commercial comes on about Chip and Dale's strippers. My dad says without moving from his reclined position "Yeah, that's probably what I will be doing in a couple of years to make some extra money...Strippin'." My Mom fires back without even looking up from here crocheting "Where? At the comedy club?" My Dad laughs and takes it further. "Yeah those women will be stuffin' cash in my jock-strap." Once again, before I could blink, my Mother says "Probably for some operation that they think you need." Both my dad and myself are laughing pretty hard, but my Mom is simply smirking, still working away at her Christmas stockings as if to say "Anything else?"

    My favorite story to tell about my mother is when at the age of 19 I brought home a girl whose vocabulary mostly consisted of giggles. Now for a 19 year old boy this doesn't matter much because you are pretty much interested in smooching. So, Yours truly and my giggle-box date were sitting in the next room from my Mother and Dad, just me talking, her giggling, me talking, her giggling. After a few hours of this fascinating banter, my date finally leaves (she drove herself, I had just wrecked my car) and I walk into the living room to see my mother reading her book with a slight look of disgust on her face, acting as if I was not there. My Dad however asks me with a sarcastic flavor "Well, you all have a [he pauses to use finger quotes] "fun" time?" Before I could answer my Mom fires away. "Son, can't you see she's a bimbo!?" "B-I-M-B-O" At that point my dad seized the opportunity to sing the song "Bingo was his name" substituting Bimbo for Bingo while my Mom imitates our conversation. I couldn't help but laugh. I knew it was true.

    Needless to say, this was not the girl my mother was praying for and she wanted to make sure to give me a hand in coming to that conclusion as well.

    She was right, and when I finally did meet my wife 8 years later, my Mother was the first person I wanted to call, and that is saying something. I NEVER called my Mother about my dates. Especially after the "Bimbo" incident. I mean, there's no telling what she would have done. What are you kidding me?? However, there was something about this one. This...."Amber." I knew she would approve. When I called her to tell her, she somehow also knew she was the one as well and began to tell me how she has prayed for the woman that I would marry every day of my life.

    Now that is a good Mother. So for this Mother's day, I am telling my Mom, thank you and I love you. We may have butted heads a few times in the past but that is mostly because we are so alike, and that makes me one lucky son.

    Happy Mothers day Mom.

    Thursday, May 11, 2006

    Near Death on the 12th Hole

    I am going to play golf today. I will be playing with someone whose golfing skills are FAR superior to mine. While I will be playing ping pong with the windows of the surrounding homes, he will be enjoying the sound of a soft "plomb" as his ball sinks into the hole like a pro. Seriously, the man has a self-portrait painted of himself mid-swing in his giant and gorgeous home that, you guessed it, overlooks the golf course of a country club. He is going to wipe up the course with me. Alas, at least I will have him beat in making a baboon of myself.

    I have not been golfing in a while, and the last time I did I nearly died. That’s right, I was almost murdered on the golf course... by my best friend no less.

    The man that almost killed me while playing golf goes by the name Joey McFarland: alius.... "Joey" or sometimes “Liquid”. Anyway, the day I went golfing with him was the first time I had met the man and we hit it off immediately. There are very few times in life after 12 years of age when you meet someone who becomes your best friend within moments, and that was the way it happened with Joey and myself. You remember what that was like right? You just moved somewhere and some kid shows up in your yard, and within 2 minutes you are deep in a fantastic game you both invented out of thin air involving a can, a bat and a goal line. Anywho, that fantastic game for us was golf.

    I should have known 3 holes into the course that this man was dangerous. By the time we had hit the 4th hole he had already set off a car alarm and killed 3 small bass in the golf course pond. If his dangerous aim did not cue me in to my impending doom then his cart driving should have. My friend Joey is a charismatic and talkative fellow, and the man likes to smoke. He was talking a blue streak while driving the cart at its maximum capacity, ripping his way down the trail through some evergreen trees with his cigarette hand just dangling out the side of the cart. So as he was talking away like a tape player on fast forward using circular breathing to avoid breaths, I noticed that one of the limbs of the oncoming tree was going to collide with his dangling smoking hand within the second. Being the ornery person I am, I remained quiet. The evergreen branch then swiped his hand and appeared to remove the cigarette.

    After a brief bewildered pause, Joey said, (imagine Kramer if you need a visual): "Hey! That tree just stole my cigarette!!" Then suddenly he began a series of contortions and screams that I thought would only be possible to a slinky. He started to jump out of the cart still screaming and dramatically squirming but realized the cart was still moving. While screaming an array of expletives, Joey tried to reach his foot back in the cart to hit the break. Finally he stopped the cart and shook his shirt out while unashamedly dropping the F-bomb and screaming ITS BURNING MY ARMPIT!!!!

    Somehow the tree had swiped his cigarette and placed it inside of his shirt. Oh how sweet the gods are at times. I don't think I have ever laughed harder at a spectacle.

    My laughter would soon end.

    Upon arriving at the 12th hole we both smacked our balls down the fairways like pros.
    Feelin’ good. We started giving each other pointers.

    We hopped into the cart and proudly made our ways down the course looking for our new prize possessions. We began zipping up a very steep hill in our speeding little cart when Joey saw my ball. Instead of stopping he decided to turn the cart at an incredible rate to swing back around for another pass. Unfortunately Joey had not heard of Sir Isaac Newton and those “laws of physics” and started turning the cart in an unforgiving way,…on an incline. I noticed this and calmly prepared to jump. As I prepared to jump, Joey failed to see my preparation and gave the cart one last extra turn. This, my dear readers, slung me uncontrollably down the grassy knoll like a rag doll.

    Now, I don't know if any of you have uncontrollably tumbled down a hill - I don’t mean like "for fun" on a date. I mean like "oh crap I am rolling uncontrollably down this hill." - but it is an interesting experience. I came to a halt from my free-for-all tumble, positioned in such a fashion as to see my friend Joey up the hill looking at me, still in the cart, completely bewildered. Realizing what he had done, he jumped out of the cart and began the most hilarious looking jog/trot/sprint/gallop down the hill, saying only the words "OH MY GOD" over and over.

    I am happy to say that Joey's guardian angel got on the CB and called my guardian angel and gave him the DL on Joey, because I made it out of that golf trip without a scratch. However, we haven’t played golf together since, nor shall we.

    Saturday, May 06, 2006

    All-American Date

    Houston, the place where Mexicans, whites, blacks, Jews, Arab Americans, Asians, pollution, humidity, traffic, heat indexes that soar above the tolerance level, bad drivers, oil, gas, road-work-that-makes-the-city-look-like-a-war-zone, gays, straight, boths, Christians, atheists, killers, Saints, Ed Youngs, and Joel Olsteens, pretties, uglies, steal-and-concrete-forests, the best Galleria in the world, Hurricanes, THE place for Tex-Mex, oil-tycoons, Enron scandals,... all meet to form a little place where the locals like to call, H-town. This is where my wife and I have lived for the past 4 years and this is where we had our All-American date last night.

    It is something that was really invented in America you know. I know, I know, I like to get creative and surprise my Lady with something out of the ordinary as much as I can, which is not often enough, but there is something about this Date format that is just so darn fun. You get dressed up, but not too dressed up. You put on the clothes that you are most fond of, for me that would be my AC/DC t-shirt, some jeans and a torn-up blazer with some vintage cowboy boots, for Amber a comfie fun frilly skirt, a cool Beatles t-shirt and a nifty little hat.

    Get in the car and your feelin' hungry. You think, "oh man, I cant wait to get my hands on those warm rolls, dip them in Olive Oil and garlic, and slurp down a nice glass of Sweet tea" My mind then is flooded with images and sounds from the trailer and reviews of the movie that we are going to watch after. A shot of sheer glee flows through my body. I feel like a kid again. "So this is how Madeline felt" I think to myself.

    We were at my sister's house and had decided to take her little 3 year old blue eyed strawberry-blonde haired little daughter outside to play. She is just at that age where 25% of what she say is understandable to other people other than her mother so when she says something clear and concise it is kind of astounding. She was carrying her apple juice and telling us something that we couldn't really understand. She was excited; she's goin' outside. Then she looked down took a drink of her apple juice from her sippy cup looked at the sippy cup and said, clear as day, "oh my apple juice is sooooo yummy." All that mattered to her at that second was the apple juice. The sheer elation of being alive without even being aware of the emotions. Just living in the moment. Apple Juice. "MY apple juice is soooo yummy."

    "My sweet tea, my Carabas dinner and Movie is SOOOOOO yummy." is how I was feeling.

    Our first stop, Carabas. Now not just any old Carabas, I believe it was the original Carabas. This place is still owned by the original owners and their food is 4 notches up from the chain-Carabas and it is ALWAYS packed with the most interesting people in Houston. Nary a hick cometh within 5 miles of this Carabas. That sounded really snobbish, but you get a little tired of the looks from people if you don't have a 1954 buzz hair cut and don't spit tobacco out yer front teeth.

    The next stop, our favorite theatre to watch the newest installment of the Couch-hoppin Cruse franchise, MI3.


    I must say that this MI3 FAR surpasses the first two Mission Impossibles. Although the first Mission Impossible was fun and campy, the Second Mission Impossible, directed by Wu, SUCKED. How much slow-motion can we cram into a picture and pleeeeaasse what's with all the friggin doves??? Anyway, this picture was as exciting although not nearly as original as either Bourne Identity movies and was obviously influenced by them in their action sequences.

    If you are looking for a good edge-of-your-seat action movie with lots of guns, cool camera angles, plenty of PG smootching and lots of killin' then this is your movie. No "titsploitation" in this movie. (see comments on Just God Business post for explanaion of titsploitation) My only beef with this movie is that is still so derivative of other great action movies. Tom seems to see a good action movie and then tell his hand-picked director that he wants the same kind of feel for his next installment of Mission Impossible.

    The only original move in the Mission Impossible franchise is the plummet-to-the-ground-stop-inches-before-you-splat move. The rest is pretty much ripped from other action movies. In MI2, I could not tolerate the plagiarism carnage, i.e. endless Matrix mimicry. In this movie, I did not mind so much. Maybe it is because they did not give us enough time to think about it. I don't know, maybe I was waiting to see Tom flip out or show some sign of his recent exposed insanity. For whatever reason, the movie worked for me. I recommend it. Not Kill Bill or Lord of The Rings recommend it, but you'll have fun. All-American-yummy-apple-juicy fun.

    Friday, May 05, 2006

    It's Just God Business

    Taken from an article from Yahoo News:


    Ralph Winter, a producer at 20th Century Fox Films, said Fox's home video department was leading the way in pushing for films for religious audiences.

    "They're very interested in opening up that market so we have been making $2 million or $3 million movies based on (Christian) books," he said.

    Winter said studios are looking for projects based on good stories likely to make entertaining movies, without being obvious efforts to proselytize and convert people.

    "No one wants to be preached to in a movie theater," Winter said. "Movies that raise issues are more interesting than movies that try to give answers," Winter said.

    Bock predicted religious movies would see a growth pattern similar to that of movies made by and about African-Americans.

    "There were these 'blaxploitation' films made for very small budgets, then (it went) through maybe you can make a buddy comedy, and (then you) get to the point where stories of African-Americans could be out there," Bock said.

    "There have been movies made that were low budget, lets call them 'Godsploitation films.' If they make money, they'll try more," he said, noting that New Line Cinema was working on a film called "Nativity" about the birth of Jesus with "a pretty significant budget."

    Bock said that even the upcoming "The Da Vinci Code," condemned by many Christians for undermining their religion by saying Jesus was married and had children, was a movie that would probably be seen by a lot of Christians who realize it is better to see it and argue back than to boycott it.

    "What they've come to believe is if the whole world wants to talk about Jesus, then let's be ready to have that conversation," he said."

    For the full article go here:

    Something about all of this makes me ill. I am a sucker for big Hollywood Christian Movies just like everyone else, but this kind of Capitalistic fervor for all things Christian...

    Thursday, May 04, 2006

    Half Catholic, Half Muslim? HUH?

    "I want you to pray fer my daughter, she is datin' a boy who is half Catholic, half Muslim." These were the words spoken at a Choir practice, by a woman, serious as can be, at a prominent Baptist Church in Texas, where I was formerly employed.

    Growing up, Catholic was a synonym for heathen. The Catholic Church is the largest Christian denomination in the world. It outnumbers all the Protestant churches combined two times over. It is the oldest Christian Church in History. There are more misconceptions held by Protestants toward Catholics than Americans have for Muslims. Do they worship Mary? Do they worship the Pope? Do they pray to Saints for forgiveness? Are they the evil remnants of an evil empire? Did Luther Save the Day for Christianity? Do they think we are going to Hell?

    Something interesting happened about 50 or so years ago. The Catholic Church met in a Council called Vatican II. This is the prelude to that council:

    "The restoration of unity among all Christians is one of the principal concerns of the Second Vatican Council. Christ the Lord founded one Church and one Church only. However, many Christian communions present themselves to men as the true inheritors of Jesus Christ; all indeed profess to be followers of the Lord but differ in mind and go their different ways, as if Christ Himself were divided.(1) Such division openly contradicts the will of Christ, scandalizes the world, and damages the holy cause of preaching the Gospel to every creature.

    But the Lord of Ages wisely and patiently follows out the plan of grace on our behalf, sinners that we are. In recent times more than ever before, He has been rousing divided Christians to remorse over their divisions and to a longing for unity. Everywhere large numbers have felt the impulse of this grace, and among our separated brethren also there increases from day to day the movement, fostered by the grace of the Holy Spirit, for the restoration of unity among all Christians. This movement toward unity is called "ecumenical." Those belong to it who invoke the Triune God and confess Jesus as Lord and Savior, doing this not merely as individuals but also as corporate bodies. For almost everyone regards the body in which he has heard the Gospel as his Church and indeed, God's Church. All however, though in different ways, long for the one visible Church of God, a Church truly universal and set forth into the world that the world may be converted to the Gospel and so be saved, to the glory of God."

    I believe the Church is moving toward Unity. I have a passion for this Unity. My questions for you these: How do you think this Unity will look. One Church? A bunch of Churches agreeing on the Apostles Creed. (See Rich Mullins song "Creed" ; ) or Google "Apostles Creed")

    The Protestant Church is Changing. The Catholic Church has changed. Do you believe that you are either Catholic, or Protestant or do those terms have any meaning for you.

    I know one thing. We can no longer view our Catholic brothers and Sisters like they are Muts to be mixed with other religions. "Half Catholic, Half Muslim."

    Wednesday, May 03, 2006

    Channeling Barry

    I have a bad habit. I love changing the words of Praise and Worship songs to Barry White Love-lyrics. I usually sing them to my wife on the way home from Church. She usually tries to ignore me which makes me only want to make the lyrics more.... passionate. She finally responds with a sudden smack and my mission is accomplished. I think that one of the reasons this is so easy is because many of the P & W songs written today sound like the writer is talking about Jesus as if He is his or her boyfriend. I know this is incredibly critical and sacreligious but you will have to pardon my demented mind.

    Selah came to our Church this last Sunday and after they sang the Oh Danny Boy rip-off song (you raise me up) they sang a few hymns that blew my Mind. One was "There is a Fountain." The theology in this hymn is staggering and heart wrenching. I could never bring myself to re-arrange these tunes into a crappy improvised love song. Well, maybe after a S.B.M. or two. (Secret Baptist Margarita) Thas right, you heard me. Ye without sin cast the first after-church salt shaker.

    We take ourselves too seriously in the Church. Atomic clocks, syncronizing services, Lights, Camera, Action, ...Invitation time, cue soft piano (to tug at the heart strings) Preacher or CCM artist begins speaking in a tone of voice that they would never use in the real world. If they did people would either think that they were high, or that they were losing there voice.

    Oh well, I guess drama is a part of the whole shin-dig. Its just that lately I am leaning toward a little less drama and a little more awe. A little less marketing and a little more Humility. A little less conversation a little more action.....dangit there I go again.

    Monday, May 01, 2006

    Alot to Learn

    Lately I have been re-evaluating my whole musical perspective. To be honest I have lived two lives for the past 6 years. One of those lives was spent in the world of “art” music. Some of you may know that I am finishing a Doctorate in Music Composition at Rice University. If you know anything about music schools and especially the Composition Departments at prestigious Music Schools or Conservatories you know that they are, or at least think they are, an elite group of people. They basically think that anything pop or rock is at the bottom of the food chain musically. (Although the professors always have secret crushes on the Beatles, Hendrix, Dylan, and Led Zeppelin…sometimes) I know this may be hard to believe but I spent a summer at the Aspen music festival and to my AMAZEMENT all the people in my elite piano studio did not know who BILLY JOEL was. The composition students in these conservatories spend there time stretching the musical norms, pushing boundaries of instruments, programs, and ideas so they have no time for pop culture. It is a different world, altogether.

    If that elitism seems far-fetched then imagine what a Screen Actor or Shakespearean actor thinks about acting on soap-operas, or commercials, or even worse, Protestant church dramas. This academia is the environment that I have spent most of my time for the past 13 years. 13 years ago, I was snobbing right along with the best of them.

    Growing up, I had always loved the Beatles, Jim Croche, Barbara Streisand, Bon Jovi and the rest of those hair band guys. When I discovered Bach on the Guitar at the age of 13 it was the Great Classical Masters for me with no looking back. I entered a School of Music on a Piano Scholarship at 17 and began to think that all of those great Folk and Rock artists in my youth mere children at the feet of Beethoven, Bach, Stravinsky.
    It wasn’t until I was finishing my bachelors at 21, listening/studying for an exam in the music school’s “listening lounge” that I, just for fun, ran onto a Johnny Cash album, dropped the needle, and became mesmerized. I was in that moment reintroduced to the great Art form of American folk music through one of its greatest Artists.

    The following 5 years also saw a return for me to my faith and Church. Along the way I was introduced to Rich Mullins’ Liturgy and Legacy album and the doors were thrown wide open to me for Christian music… I thought.
    After I wore out our Rich Mullins and PFR CDs, I decided again that I mostly hated all Christian music. (Secretly making a little time on the side for “Go West” by Smitty) Despite my disappointment, I still craved music that Glorified God. I returned to Mozart, Brahms, Beethoven and Bach to fill my soul in that area.

    So the two lives I have lived have been writing music for the “Art Music” crowd, to which God has blessed me with a great reception with international performances, and in life number 2, -Writing Christian music that sounds like Christian music. I have for the past few years, up until this last year, justifying all these things by saying that I was compartmentalizing the different genres and would happily go along writing in the two styles. I do not dislike some of these songs during this time, but I was mainly writing Christian music to try to get something published or please the little old ladies, therefore molding to a norm. I always felt that these two worlds were as far across the galaxy from each other as you can get musically.

    In this last Album, Bitter Kiss, with the help of our fantastically talented producer Josh Moore (Caedmon’s Call) I began the journey of merging those two worlds. The result was something that has practically put me in a state of little-kid-at-Disney-World excitement sometimes. I had more fun on this project than probably anything I have ever done. The best thing about it is that I feel a whole new world of possibilities has opened up for what we are doing. It is just the beginning. I am no longer actively hoping or perusing a big fat record deal or publishing deal. I am no longer trying to fit in a genre. It is altogether about making Art.

    God does not make Christian musicians, lawyers, preachers, actors, politicians (especially politicians). God makes artists, or “beings that create for the purpose of beauty.” It is one the most distinguishing factors that separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom. This is what we are; all of us have this to offer. We are artists. A clue into why God made the Universe is in our desire to create. It was his desire, not need, to create. And create He did. It is not a need like hunger or sex; it is something deeper and more mysterious.

    We WANT to create, for the sheer joy of it. These reasons can be mistaken for needs. If we see it as a need then that need can translate into insecurity or depression. How many of us have felt inadequate when we are not doing something we feel is not as good as other people. This is because we think that we NEED to do what we are doing. If we do something for the sheer joy of it, then it never becomes a mode or vehicle for depression. We are alive. I write a song because it is a desire of mine. A desire created out of my state of self-awareness given directly from God. Our ability to create is also one of the most striking resemblances between our Father and us. So….

    All that just to say this: In the world of Academia, I used to create music without boundaries, without rules, completely. I would write Christian music for that genre, and in the style of that genre. I am no longer doing that. I am creating full force and free.

    I am not saying that I am going to write a-tonal Christian music, (although I might sometime) I am saying that I will no longer put boundaries on any song or music that I compose, in any genre.

    This is very exciting for me. A kind of new beginning.

    Thanks to those reading who have encouraged this growth by loving both kinds of music. Coming to my crazy Rice University recitals, loving and encouraging then sitting the next day in Church and showing the same kindness as we sing something written for the Church.