what do I stand for?

 

We love anthems, we do.

We love songs we can proclaim from rooftops with passion from our gut.

We love an anthem that rallies us around something, puts fire in our bellies, and stretches our vocal chords.

We love an anthem even when it proclaims confusion.

The song, “Some Nights” by fun could not be a truer picture of this time in history and could not have a more enticing, layered melody – a mighty furious, beautiful mess building our Babel.

In the music video, haphazard opposing forces roam while directionless firepower flies and the band pounds out their decidedly lost melody.

The song is certainly saying something.
Even as the chorus rumbles with heavy questions, we are drawn in to sing that something right along with them,

“Oh Lord, I’m still not sure what I stand for oh
What do I stand for? What do I stand for?
Most nights, I don’t know anymore…
Oh woah, oh woah, oh woah oh oh
Oh woah, oh woah, oh woah oh oh”

Some nights … most nights … I don’t know … luck … wish … who am I?

These are words that describe a generation, words that build the walls of our own Babylon. We have exiled ourselves from meaning and certainty and hope.

And then we made it an anthem.
This is the music of waywardness.

Our art reflects our hearts and in the mirror we see a despairing image. Makoto Fujimura, artist, writer, and speaker, says, “We, today, have a language to celebrate waywardness, but we do not have a cultural language to bring people back home.”

When the music of waywardness becomes the anthem of a generation, one must consider if the straining vocal chords declare a superlative-worthy message or if best is reserved for something absolutely certain.

 

Tchaikovsky, Curators, Aurora miracle, libraries of famous authors, and the music of KB

Well, here are some links I’m rolling out on this Tuesday. I’m dragging my feet a bit, but I’ve got to run before I lose motivation. Check these things out, friends, and let me know what you think.

  • When I was growing up, I would pull out classical bundles of music from the shelves in the piano room and ask my mom to play. She would always say, “Oh, honey… it’s been so long. I don’t even know if I can play this anymore…” but I could always tell she’d give in to my request and let dinner or the dishes or the laundry wait a few minutes so we could revel in the classics. This piece from BrainPickings,  “Tchaikovsky on Work Ethic vs. Inspiration brings me back to those moments in the music room, but not just because my mom worked hard at being a musician. Also because she worked hard at being a mom – inspiration came in both cases as a result of her work. This post is about a letter Tchaikovsky wrote to his benefactress and the whole thing is beautiful – please go read it!
  • Sometimes I don’t understand art, I’ll admit. But, maybe it’s the philosopher in me that loves what art says about who we are as a culture. Artists (and curators) kind of get to play the music that contemporary culture writes as it defines itself through values and norms. So, this piece in the NYT, The Fine Art of Being a Curator” struck me because of what it means for the music. Ahem.. So, if culture decides what is important right now, artists translate those things to canvas, buildings, statues, etc., then curators get to decide what does the best job of playing the music. Maybe this is another post in the making. The article is really very straightforward – talks about how curators are becoming more established as a field. I just can’t help but ask, “Who sets the standards for good art?” But that’s probably because I’m not, “in the know” about these kinds of things.
  • What would you say if a doctor told you that you had a brain defect that saved your life? That’s nearly what happened for a young Aurora woman after she was shot at the theatre during the Dark Knight premiere. Read the story here, A Smiling Providence in Aurora, Colorado from Denny Burk.
  • I love books and I love libraries – this post takes us inside the libraries of famous writers and I have to stop myself from drooling. Each nook looks so dreamy!
  • I like rap. This new album from KB “Weight of Glory” is pretty spectacular. I wanted to post a video that wasn’t all lyric, so check out this “behind the scenes” look at a young man who’s got serious talent and serious opportunity to bring the message of hope through his gift. Worth a listen, for real.

    Here’s the video he talks about to the song, “Open Letter”

That’s all for now. I’m going to go pound the pavement on a night run.

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

art is dead. your death killed it.

I was talking to one of my very talented, very artistic friends recently and he made this strong suggestion:

“Art is dead.”

At first, it didn’t sit very well. The period at the end is so… so defeating. If this statement stirs up a response, even indignation inside you like it did me, then I wonder why. Why are you offended by this idea that art and creativity have died a painful death?

I’m offended because I want to believe it’s not so. Somewhere deep down, beneath the indigestion and tortillas, somewhere in that “gut” region people refer to when talking about instincts, I refuse. Something in me revolts at the finality – there is no room for explanation. Just a period and that’s it.

It’s like falling off the monkey bars on the playground and landing flat on my back. I’m laying there, with the wind knocked out of me, unsteady and unsure of what just happened.

After I caught my breath, I realized I agree with him. Nearly everything “creative” these days is a well-dressed marketing ploy to respond to our basest desires. With all our technology and supposed intellectual advancement, we tread the very same trail to bark up the very same tree, whose roots reach only as deep as our most carnal desires.

Instead of searching for music or entertainment that makes us think and question and understand life, we look for a spoonful of sugar so that (what we pass for) art goes down easy. We don’t want art to challenge us or move us or convict us because… well, that doesn’t feel good. We want to take in a movie like we take in the uber-buttered, theatre popcorn… without thinking. We want to walk out with our heads bobbing, digesting the plate full of artistic pudding without questioning the grumblings in our bellies for something of more substance.

The second part of my friend’s thought took a step closer to my offended spirit. He suggested I’m to blame. Art is dead and my death killed it. I again had to shake the shock of such a suggestion, but again arrived at a convicted conclusion. I agree.

How can something dead make something living? How can an unconscious potter work with clay? How can life come from death? We re-work the same ideas, plots, notes, melodies, story lines centered around sex, money, jealousy, and greed. Then we pronounce it “version 2.0” and, with some clever advertising, have people believing they are consuming something that has “never before been seen.” I almost apologized just now for being so cynical, but I held back because it wouldn’t be genuine.

The Original Creator took great care in designing the smallest details, from the juice pockets in oranges to the strange mating habits of penguins. Creation is so complicated that we will never, ever exhaust its intricacies. If we let ourselves marvel, we will never be bored and the subject will never be dull. Never.

How does God accomplish this? How does He keep our attention?

He lives.

This is certainly not the end of my musings on this subject, but please chime in with your thoughts!

Also, I read this article over at The Gospel Coalition and I really appreciate the views on creativity, the arts, and the church.

thoughts on the sabbath

I love the Sabbath. I love that God loves the Sabbath. I love that the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath (Mark 2:27).

What a beautiful, precious, intentional time to pursue the Savior in rest and reflection. Today, I was reading this from Tim Challies at his blog and thought I might share it with you. I have a beautiful mess on my bedroom rug and, slightly paint-covered, have deemed myself unfit to type any more words.

In Challies’ post, he quotes Walter Chantry’s thoughts on the subject and I’m drawn to it by one word: delight.

Are we delighting in the Sabbath today?

let LOVE fly like cRaZY