Thursday, March 31, 2005

Sometimes it just hits you

It usually happens when I'm listening to a CD, often for the first time. I remember it happened with U2's How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb album, Relient K's mmhmm, and most recently, Superchick's newest album Beauty From Pain. You all know what I'm talking about, even though you might experience it differently. Maybe through a book, maybe a conversation, maybe a visual image, but you still experience it. It is that moment at which something strikes your soul in a way that is more than natural, and you realize that there is some greater connection with something greater and that there is a specific meaning and purpose for you to hear/see/whatever that particular thing at that particular time. Let me drop the non-specific awkwardness of pronouns and illustrate with an example. As I stated, it often happens when I'm listening to a song for the first time (though certainly not exclusively on the first listen). You don't think much of it, then BAM! Out of nowhere, it just clicks. There have been some songs with particular subject matter that over the past five months have just perfectly captured exactly what I was feeling and needing to hear. It's such a powerful experience, and often indelibly burned into your subconscious experience of that particular medium. For example, some songs continue to have that kind of extra-natural identification throughout your life. This is more than just the "this reminds me of such and such" kind of nostalgia that happens all the time. (I firmly believe I had the worst Grade 12 year for music ever. Lou Bega, Britney, N Sync, Ricky Martin, Limp Bizkit, and a host of other horrible "musicians" will be associated with my memories of Grade 12. *Shudder* But I digress.) There's a deeper connection here; as I have observed, it is often with music for me, but it also often happens when I'm reading the Bible. The point here is that I truly believe that the Holy Spirit uses things as silly as music and movies to help connect us with the higher reality that is God. Our CD purchasing habits should be led by the Lord, not apart from Him. Several times I have obeyed His leading when buying music, and each time that has produced a far greater good in my life than ever I could have imagined. I guess what I'm saying is that the Spirit moves in mysterious ways. (Sorry, couldn't resist. :) Four weeks from today! But I again digress.) As it is written to the churches addressed in Revelation, "For he who has ears to hear, let him hear what Christ says to the churches." Even if it comes from the CD player.

Monday, March 28, 2005

A Tribute to U2

Artists United For Africa - In The Name of Love Last year, Sparrow records released a project entitled "Artists United For Africa - In the Name of Love." The goal of this album was to support the DATA project that Bono had helped bring to public attention, though in Canada some money from each disc sold was given to World Vision to help fight the AIDS crisis in Africa. The means was to get thirteen Christian artists to cover one of the songs from the greatest rock band ever: U2. For those that may not be familiar with the CD, here is the line-up of songs and artists.

Pillar - Sunday Bloody Sunday / Sanctus Real - Beautiful Day / Starfield - 40 /Sixpence None the Richer - Love Is Blindness / Audio Adrenaline - Gloria / Nichole Nordeman - Grace / Jars of Clay - All I Want Is You / Toby Mac - Mysterious Ways / Delirious? - Pride (In The Name of Love) / Tait - One / Grits. feat. Jadyn Maria - With Or Without You / Todd Agnew - When Love Comes To Town / Chris Tomlin - Where The Streets Have No Name

Despite the inherent problems that can be observed in attempting to cover songs by a band like U2, the result was surprisingly good. (Of course, some people might make the same argument regarding the audacity U2 showed in covering the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, and themselves on their Rattle and Hum album. But I digress.) Several of these artists were included as promotional boosts for their label releases (I believe only Nordeman and Audio A did not have studio albums releasing in the same calendar year), but the package does not suffer from this obvious marketing manipulation. Only one of the songs, Grits' version of WOWY, is not really tolerable - really, what were they thinking, turning one of the best songs ever written into this hip-hop debacle? I like Grits, but not this. But I digress. Several tracks, including Starfield, Tomlin, and Nordeman were unremarkable - not really distinctively different from the originals. Tait's "One" was good, but choosing "One"? Message to Michael Tait: you're not Bono. Agnew and Audio did decent justice to their songs, despite the rewording of the second verse of "When Love Comes To Town" from "I used to make love under the red sunset" to "I used to find love...", an unnecessary and disappointing change. Delirious? and Toby Mac did a good job of their tracks, albeit a predictable one; still, their songs are two of the better on the CD for combining their own style with the original. The remaining four tracks are the standouts. Jars really folks up "All I Want Is You", while Leigh Nash's haunting vocals are perfect for "Love Is Blindness." Pillar's "Sunday Bloody Sunday" is the perfect album opener, while Sanctus Real's version of "Beautiful Day" is, dare I say, possibly better than the original. All in all, it was a respectable collection of performers who did justice to the original songs.
Many of U2's most popular songs are included, though some albums are entirely omitted, namely Boy and October, the band's first two albums, and Zooropa and Pop, the 1990s albums that most Christians deny even exist. But even when I heard about the possibility of such a project happening, my brain raced. Which of my favourite artists would I like to hear cover my favourite U2 songs? I came up with some ideas, but then I let the thought go dormant. Then one day when Googling, I came upon this random blog which brought up that very same question. So then I started thinking about it again. And thinking. And thinking some more. Using some of random dude's suggestions, as well as my own thoughts, I present to you the songs that I want to see on the second volume of Artists United For Africa. I have based this selection not only upon which bands I would like see included, but also which songs I would like to see included and which songs would fit different artists. I have even attempted to assemble some sort of logical order for the tracks. Please note that I have not taken into account any consideration of label or distribution. This is my dream, not their carefully constructed and marketed reality. I also opted not to include songs from How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb, since it's still too fresh in my mind to properly evaluate it.

Project 86 - The Fly
Superchick - Even Better Than The Real Thing
Relient K - I Will Follow
Rebecca St. James - Discotheque
Skillet - Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me Kill Me
Switchfoot - Bad
Third Day - I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For
P.O.D. - Bullet The Blue Sky (Live)
Tree 63 - Silver and Gold
Steven Curtis Chapman - Heartland
Mute Math - October
Further Seems Forever - Until The End of the World
Blindside - Wake Up Dead Man
Audio Adrenaline - Walk On

Of course, I realize the likelihood of this line-up actually happening in next to nil, especially due to the language and content of some of the original songs, but I can dream, can't I? Now the question is posed to you: which of your favourite artists would you like to see cover your favourite U2 songs? Discuss!

P.S. If you're wondering why it has seemed that an inordinately high number of my blogs of late have focussed upon U2 or some manifestation thereof, it is because I am especially preoccupied with their music, as I have been since the release of HTDAAB, in eager anticipation of seeing them perform on the first leg of the 2005 Vertigo World Tour in exactly one month in Vancouver. My apologies to any U2-haters out there. Come back to the blog in May, or suck it up until then. Peace.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Sunday Morning Placebo?

I went to "church" on a Sunday morning for the first time in a couple of years today. Sure, I've been to churches in that time, but they have not been the typical big Sunday morning churches. After a couple of years of attending evening church and generally deconstructing church, it was honestly a culture shock to be sitting in church this morning. It was like stepping into a different world entirely, a world of caterwauling babies and dressed-up people and career people and sunshine. Of course, I wanted to be completely critical and cynical of the experience, as inspired by my recent fascination with the 1990s MTV cartoon Daria. But here's the complication: I could not necessarily say that what they are doing is "wrong." I can see how it would not appeal to many people in my demographic, the 18-25 student/figuring out life phase that has developed over the past few decades as a buffer between adolescence and "adulthood" (ie marriage and career), but that does not necessarily make it "wrong." I can see things with which I do not necessarily agree, or that I find to be a product of cultural manifestation of Christianity rather than the actual example of Christ, but then I also saw a baptism in which people were testifying to how God had changed their lives as a result of being part of that particular church body. And how can I argue with that? Of course, there's so much going on with the church that it's really hard for me to put a finger on all the things that have truly begun to disturb me about Sunday morning "church," and it's also hard for me to sort out which of those are personal preference and which are actually valid concerns. I think the biggest thing that hit me today is that in the midst of entering another culture, it was like entering the bubble of American Evangelicalism. More and more Canadian churches seem to be adopting U.S. church propaganda, and it profoundly disturbs me. And as I looked around at the crowd, I knew I was not alone. There were others - quite likely even within the staff and senior leadership of the church - who not only identified with my point of view, but were doing their best to counteract the kind of "church-ianity" that has driven so many people away from God over the past fifty years. I'm sure many of the people there don't ever really question their paradigm or the fundamental assumptions upon which they base their life and faith, and that's okay too. God is working in their lives in different ways, just as He is working in my life in a different way from other people. And that's okay. Another step in my continuing journey toward Christ in the midst of the NAC [North American Church].

An Easter Narrative, Bono-style

It struck me today how often U2 refers to the events of the death and resurrection of Christ two thousand years ago. I thought I would supply you with some of these songs that I felt I needed to share with you. Aside from a brief introduction to set the context, I'll let the lyrics speak for themselves. He is risen!

There is a brief reference to the scene of Good Friday in "When Love Comes To Town," a song featuring B.B. King from their Rattle and Hum album. It's just one verse, but what an amazing verse it is. Sing it, B.B. ...

I was there when they crucified my Lord
I held the scabbard when the soldier drew his sword.
I threw the dice when they pierced his side
But I've seen love conquer the great divide.

When love comes to town I'm gonna jump that train
When love comes to town I'm gonna catch that flame
Maybe I was wrong to ever let you down
But I did what I did before love came to town.

"Until the End of the World" is a first-hand account given by Judas after his betrayal of Jesus. It is a powerful envisioning of the mind of the man who betrayed the Messiah, and it is troubling to reflect upon how many of us can relate to Judas as he is portrayed here. This song appears on U2's earliest 1990s album, Achtung Baby, and it remains one of their signature songs despite its lack of radio popularity, as it is one of their most powerful narratives...

Haven’t seen you in quite a while
I was down the hold, just passing time
Last time we met was a low-lit room
We were as close together as bride and groom
We ate the food, we drank the wine
Everybody having a good time
Except you, you were talking about the end of the world

I took the money, I spiked your drink
You miss too much these days if you stop to think
You led me on with those innocent eyes
And you know I love the element of surprise
In the garden I was playing the tart
I kissed your lips and broke your heart
You, you were acting like it was the end of the world

In my dream I was drowning my sorrows
But my sorrows they learned to swim
Surrounding me, going down on me
Spilling over the brim
In waves of regret, waves of joy
I reached out for the one I tried to destroy
You, you said you’d wait until the end of the world.

As if in response to Judas' testimony, 1997's Pop album ends with "Wake Up Dead Man," a song which is written as a plea from someone who loved Jesus on the Saturday between His death and resurrection. It makes for an interesting dichotomy with "Until the End of the World." In fact, it could be argued that the two personas are one and the same...

Jesus, Jesus help me
I'm alone in this world, And a f---ed up world it is too
Tell me, tell me the story, the one about eternity, and the way it's all gonna be
Wake up, wake up dead man. Wake up, wake up dead man.

Jesus, I'm waiting here boss
I know you're looking out for us, but maybe your hands aren't free
Your Father, He made the world in seven, He's in charge of Heaven, will you put in a word for me
Wake up, wake up dead man. Wake up, wake up dead man.

But to conclude with the joy of Easter Sunday and the Resurrection, we can turn to the inherent hopefulness contained within the classic opus from 1987's Joshua Tree, "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For." Despite the attempts of some overly myopic judgemental Christian critics to convince people that this song proved that Bono was not a Christian, it in fact does just the opposite. What he is looking for can only be found in Christ, and this fallen existence is a barrier to that experience. But the fact remains that he is still looking...

I have spoke with the tongue of angels
I have held the hand of a devil
It was warm in the night
I was cold as a stone
But I still haven't found what I'm looking for
But I still haven't found what I'm looking for
I believe in the kingdom come When all the colors will bleed into one, bleed into one
Well, yes I'm still running
You broke the bonds and you loosed the chains
Carried the cross of my shame, of my shame
You know I believed it
But I still haven't found what I'm looking for

What am I looking for? Christ. Have I found Him yet? Yes, but not entirely. As these narratives suggest, there is so much more to knowing Christ than I know now, or ever can know in this material existence. But I know I'm on a journey, and I know I believe it and that I'm still running. Well, those are just some thoughts to help you commemmorate this special day and hopefully reflect upon what it ultimately means. Happy Easter. He is risen indeed!

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Life of an Arts Student

I have spent a while as an Arts Student. This is, in fact, year four overall (plus a summer) of taking primarily Arts classes. Though I have had different purposes in several of those years (pre-programs, etc), there are definitely some themes that run throughout my experience in this branch of the university. To aid your understanding of the mindset of an Arts student, here is a sampling of thoughts culled from current my academic existence: "Only 15% off? It's worth the week late;" "I only need 38 out of 55 possible marks to get X;" "10-12 pages? No problem!; "Stupid paper!;" "Why do I care about Mithraism in Rome?;" "This paper is only worth 25%!? I've got nothing to worry about then!;" and so forth. I have taken many good classes in my time, though, and by the end of next year I will have stumbled my way to an English degree. Oh, the delicious irony of me getting an English degree. Oh well, at least tuition won't go up next year! Grrrrrr....silly government.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Who you gonna call?

My roommate and I just watched a couple of episodes of the 1980s cartoon The Real Ghostbusters. The cartoon was inspired by the 1984 movie and its 1989 sequel, and I remember watching the movies and the cartoons repeatedly as a child. For much of my childhood, I could easily quote most of the dialogue of those movies, particularly lines from Dr. Peter Venkman ("Mother pus bucket!"). A couple of years ago, when I went through the initial purge of pop culture, the two movies were among those that I got rid of, because I had a sense that they were not good. But it really wasn't until tonight that I really started to think about it. One of the episodes we watched was "The Boogieman Cometh," one of the earliest in the series. The Ghostbusters basically have to fight the Boogieman who haunts children all the world around. Keep in mind that I am 22 years old, and I still found the image of this creature chilling and deeply disturbing. Frightening, even. Apparently, the show was eventually cancelled due to content issues, and after seeing this episode I was not surprised. Then I wanted to find an episode that I remembered from my childhood, so I began to look through the episode guide on TV Tome. What I found also profoundly disturbed my spirit. Many of the episodes pull names and figures directly from ancient pagan mythology, such as the Babylonian deity Marduk. One episode named a character Dr. Crowley after Alistair Crowley, the self-proclaimed "Wickedest Man in the World" of the late 18th century who ushered in the modern Satanist movement and occult revival. Some episodes made reference to H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu; while I don't know where Lovecraft himself stood, I do know that Cthulhu is a chilling image to read about. Several episodes featured a demon named Samhaine who wanted control of Hallowe'en; Samhaine is the name of an ancient pagan celtic ritual that has been adopted by the modern Wicca movement. There were countless other references to cults, the afterlife, netherworlds, demons, ghosts, spooks, poltergeists, and any number of a host of inherently evil manifestations. And I used to watch this as a child?!?! I don't know what disturbed me more: the fact that this was even allowed to happen in the first place, or the fact that it had been a memorable part of my childhood. I would wake up early on Saturday mornings to watch Ghostbusters. I played with the toys. And this show contained things which now chill me to the core. I have honestly shuddered several times while reading over the episode guide and writing this. And I am mature enough to know what is actually going on. There is a spiritual darkness that exists, and it was transmitted to children as a harmless cartoon! What in God's name is going on here!?
I am also reminded of the "Ghosts caught on tape" banner that you may see on many websites. For a laugh, Evan and I checked it out one night. While most of me wanted to believe that it was all Photoshop and camera tricks, a small part of me wondered what it would mean if even one of those "proofs" were real. The fact is that we are all drawn to the supernatural and the paranormal. Movies and TV have made these ideas commonplace, particularly the Ghostbusters. And now that I have the chance to reflect on it all, I am troubled in my spirit. Troubled for the children who are growing up not knowing that Harry Potter is not real. (As a corollary to this conversation, my verdict is still out on HP. I've read/watched all the material released so far, and although I have enjoyed it as entertainment and appreciated it as a literary example, I am inclined to predict that after it is all done that my judgment of the books will be more negative than positive. But I digress.) My point, after all of this discussion, is that Christians need to be ever-more vigilant and informed than we have ever been. Satan will continue to present himself as an angel of light (2 Cor. 4:4), and in a world in which his manifestation seems to be ever the more refracted by developments in culture, we need to be more aware of the spiritual reality in which we exist than we ever have been. But rejoice, for greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world. For more encouragement on love driving out fear, read I John 4. In closing, I know who I am going to call, and it's not the Ghostbusters. It's the Holy Spirit.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

The "I Write" Zone

Well, it's about that time again. Time for normal life to cease, and for me to spend the better part of the next three days in paper-writing mode. It's interesting to see how my method of writing papers has developed over the years, yet to also see what stays the same. Early on in my academic career, I would block off a chunk of time and write a paper. Often this time was limited to the night before, though occasionally it would take the course of a couple of days. I normally would not have done extensive research before, and I would do it as I went along in the wee hours. Then I took a writing class in Education last year, and the way I write papers has necessarily changed. Although I would also wager that this change has also been precipitated by the advancement of the level of study for the papers which I am writing, I would put forward that this class really made me see it a new way. Now, I still have to immerse myself in it, but it is for a longer period of time. I do research before I write, then I sit down and write till it's done. Now, if only I could get out of the habit of leaving it until the last minute, I'd be doing a lot better. Three left to go, that's all I have to say. See you on the other side of this paper on Mithraism, a mystery religion in the Roman Empire. Yee.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

A Green Day

Today was a good day. Let me recap some of the events of the day, in no particular order, and without any use of indicatory possessive pronouns. Pinched people. Got a pre-release of the new Jars of Clay CD. Saw an old friend and reminisced about high school days and beyond. Saw old education friends. Finished a meaningless education assignment. Received many compliments on my outfit. Especially the 7-11 farmer hat. Watched a wacky episode of Survivor. Used an Irish lilt to greet people. Tried the new Cactus Nachos at BP, and found them quite delish (smokey bacon is a nice touch!). Had a good conversation about things Sheaf in the office. Had roommates turn my room into a semi-makeshift "rave" while listening to new Moby album. Entertained by roommate inebrieated by green beer. And drank green beer myself. Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Monday, March 14, 2005

The Next U2

With U2 joining the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame this week, I imagine that there will be lots of talk as to who will take up their mantle. Although this is somewhat comparable to discussing my inheritance with my 40-something father who should theoretically be around for a while longer, I have decided to give my five nominees for the "next U2," in order of preference. These are bands who I believe are most likely to follow in the footsteps of U2 in many different ways: consistently providing fresh music throughout their career, helping to instigate social consciousness, constantly reinventing themselves, remaining stable as a band, having distinct personalities as musicians, and providing a quality product that does not sound tired, even when covered by other artists, among other considerations. In other words, they should exhibit qualities of creativity, longevity, stability, and concern for their world. From least likely to most likely, in my opinion, here they are:

5. Third Day - The Southern rockers already have a decade and eight albums to their credit, and the most established and most American of this group, still with most of their original members. They have matured over their career musically, though they seem to always fall back on their Southern roots. As far as social consciousness, they are very politically active for the Republican party. They have covered several notable artists, including Bob Dylan and Rich Mullins, with great success, and they have already mastered the live and recorded art. But they already have an identity and a niche market (Christians), so it means that they'll be limited in scope.
Tie to U2: They recorded part of "With or Without You" as part of their "Medley" on their "Offerings II" album.
Verdict: The Republican U2

4. (tie) Switchfoot - These San Diego surf rockers started out small, but have gotten big big big. The Beautiful Letdown is an opus worthy of comparison to the "Unforgettable Fire" album - the first big breakthrough to the mainstream. They have constantly reinvented themselves, with one prominent example being their rerecording of "Dare You To Move" on their most recent album. They are involved with the DATA campaign started by Bono, as well as showing the kind of concern for their hometown as the Dublin boys do.
Tie to U2: No covers yet, but lead singer Jon Foreman makes a cool reference to U2's Rattle and Hum version of "Bullet the Blue Sky" in the dying moments of "Gone." When he sings "To the God who's not short of cash, hey Bono, I'm glad you asked," he is referring to Bono's classic quotation that "The God I serve isn't short on cash, MIS-ter." Although seeing these guys cover "Bad" would be nothing short of amazing.
Verdict: The SoCal U2

4. (tie) P.O.D. - Our second entry from the greater San Diego area, these hard rockers have the same kind of humble roots as Bono and the boys, and they display a lot of concern about their hometown in addition to other social causes. They are known for their experimentation in marketing (PS2 game), as well as their reinvention musically. Sonny, Wuv, and Traa have a great dynamic, and Sonny is the kind of stand out lead singer that you need to take a title like this. To some extent, the parallels to U2's career are scary; a couple of early albums, a live album, then three amazing albums with the middle one the best (Satellite and The Joshua Tree respectively). They have the same kind of spiritual ambiguity as U2 tends to have, and they also like the phrase "I and I" (Bono uses it in "Elevation.") Is their next album (due this summer) their Achtung Baby?
Tie to U2: Covered "Bullet the Blue Sky" on "Fundamental Elements of Southtown" album. Wow.
Verdict: The "School of Hard Knocks" U2

3. Delirious? - Martin Smith and his British compatriots have long endured this comparison. Delirious? has grown and changed over the past decade, and perhaps more than any other artist on this list each album of their has its own personality, a trait much like U2. They are the best at what they do, and they are constantly reinventing themselves. The biggest problems for them in this competition are that they are so well-established, and the comparison is almost too easy.
Tie to U2: Covered "Pride (In the Name of Love)" for the Artists United for Africa project.
Verdict: The Worship Leader's U2

2. Tree 63 - Easily the best thing to come out of South Africa since Nelson Mandela, John Ellis and his bandmates are continually upping the ante on their career. They have a keen understanding of different concepts that is not solely defined by their societal background. They have a mission, and that mission is for people to experience Jesus. While they are (obviously) more blatant about their faith, they have the kind of raw talent and enthusiasm that another certain band showed early in their career (Remember the openness of October and War?). Tree 63, for a lot of you, is probably the best band you've never heard of. Maybe they need to be tempered a little bit, but even U2 had to have an "Unforgettable Fire."
Tie to U2: They cover "Pride (In the Name of Love)" in many of their live concerts.
Verdict: The "Coming Into Their Prime" U2

1. Coldplay - Okay, so this might seem like the easy choice, but there's a lot of thought to this. If U2 were to begin now, they would be Coldplay, a young band that has set a high standard for their future, although I hesitatingly say that they are further at this point in their careers than U2 were. Their Under A Blood Red Sky was the Live 2003 album, and people have huge expectations for the next album. Is it going to be a Joshua Tree-like smash success, or is it going to be an "Unforgettable Fire"-like critical success that few appreciate initially but that only get better with age? I don't know, though we will find out later on this year.
Tie to U2: None that I can think of, though I'm sure one exists.
Verdict: The Next U2

So there you have it, folks, my thoughts on the passing on of the U2 mystique. Each of these artists in their own way are similar to U2, but the fact is that the only true U2 out there is of course U2 themselves. And I will encounter them in 46 short days. Let the countdown begin.

Friday, March 11, 2005

When God shuts a door...

Back to square one. Many of you already know that I had applied for the position of Editor-in-Chief of the Sheaf, the campus paper here at the U of S, and now all of you know that the paper decided not to offer me any positions for next year. I don't know what I will be doing, but I do know that the Lord has something else for me. Thanks for all of your encouragement and support throughout this entire process. Your continued prayers are appreciated.

...he opens another door, the one He wants you to enter. (Matt. 7:7, Rev. 3:20)

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Spiritual vs. secular reality

Too often we forget that there is a significant spiritual reality that undergirds the reality we see, "secular reality." Our temptation is often to either completely disregard spiritual reality by attributing nothing to God, or to overcompensate and attribute everything that happens to spiritual reality. While I am convinced that there is significant spiritual interaction with the secular world (cf. Ephesians 6:12), I do not necessarily attribute everything that happens in the natural world to the spiritual reality. For example, I do not pray against the powers of evil that made me drop my toothbrush in the toilet (this did not happen, it's just an exaggerated possibility). Therefore, I see spiritual reality as always there, and there are points where it more clearly intersects with secular reality and makes itself known.
There are some men and women of God who are especially aware of the movement in the spiritual realm. One ministry in the U.S. I have been made aware of through my friend Lee, who is generally among the more aware in these kinds of matters, is Morning Star Ministries. Rick Joyner has an amazing ministry, and his words and prophecies are always intriguing, at least. Another such ministry, this one located in Canada, is Watchmen For All Nations. They are currently on a cross-Canada tour that I had the opportunity to attend tonight. David Demien is crossing the country according to the call that the Lord has laid on his life. He believes that the Lord is raising up a new generation in Canada, and that Millennials (those of us born in 1980-2000) will have a very significant role in Canada's spiritual future. He shared many interesting stories about their ministry's recent activities, and how those paralleled developments in recent Canadian history. For example, he discussed how a gathering in Alberta, in his belief, directly affected Jean Charest's victory as Premier of Quebec several days following. Whatever you actually believe, the fact is that he brought a spiritual awareness about Canada that many of us do not have. There is a spiritual reality in this country, and we have a destiny. Let us not be so distracted by secular reality that we forget the true reality that exists in God.

Monday, March 07, 2005

I need to get to YC

Alright, I just checked out the line-up for YC 2005 in Edmonton, AB. I need to go, but not just "go." I need to get press passes and do some interviews there. Here's a good chunk of the line-up: Audio Adrenaline, Grits, TFK, Delirious, Sanctus Real, Tree 63, KJ-52, John Reuben, Toby Mac, and others (Out of Eden, etc.) But here's the real clincher...the O.C. Supertones! They're on their final tour, and they're coming to Edmonton in just three months! I need to go and interview Matt and see the 'Tones at least once before they fade into memory. Anyone in for a road trip to E-town May 27-29? And so the rock-write obsession continues...

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Kindred spirits with Riggs and Murtaugh

I think I understand the mindset of Riggs (Mel Gibson) and Murtaugh (Danny Glover) in Lethal Weapon 4 pretty well. The thrill of the case still excited them and got them going, yet they still both admitted that they were "too old for this..." well, you get the point. I just completed the final leg of a 12-hour road trip to Regina for an IVCF 70s dance party. I remember doing these kinds of trips two years ago and not having the same kind of fatigue. I also remember having the same level of excitement, though. Four years of heavy IVCF exec involvement have left me with many experiences that echo one another from different years, yet certain themes keep on coming back. And I get older each year. Much like the aforementioned cops, new characters are added, new circumstances arise, but the basic plot is pretty much the same. For them, it's some random ethnic group that is planning some scheme for some purpose and they have to foil them. For me, it's campus ministry. Gibson has pretty much completely shot down any possibility of a Lethal Weapon 5. He said it had been good, but it was time to move on. That's where I am - it's been great, but it will soon be time to move on. But the road trip, much like Riggs and Murtaugh's encounter with Jet Li near the end of the movie, was worth it, even to get a taste of that youth again. Now I rest.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Academic A.D.D.

Do any of you find that you suffer from what I call "academic A.D.D.?" It's that situation where you have too much stuff with school, and other things going on in your own life, and you just are not able to focus on school-related things. That's been this week. Between a job interview and my roommate running for (and winning) a position with the USSU and prepping for a sweet road trip tomorrow night, I have just not been able to settle down and focus on schoolwork. The unfortunate problem about undergraduate studies is that they do not necessarily allow you this liberty, even though you feel the occasional need to take it. Truly, this is the last week where I can afford to suffer from this affliction, and I will need to take some serious medication and just "read-a-line" (pun intended...sound it's like Mad Gab) and get on with everything. Hopefully, I can get my focus on this weekend and then really just start in next week, after all this excitement is over. Then I can "add" up my losses (pun intended again) and go from there. School keeps "March"-ing on, with or without me. (pun definitely intended.)

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Time, why you punish me?

When I was younger, I tended to avoid using the excuse "I didn't have time" when I didn't get my homework done. It was not time that prevented me from completing assignments, it was my misuse of the time that I had. I still believe that. When I don't get something done, it's not from a lack of time - it's from an improper appropriation of the time I have. I tend to think that one of the greatest joys that the Devil derives is from watching humans squander their time on frivolities. And I also believe that "squandering" is one of the least-confessed of all sins. How much of my time do I spend on entirely non-valuable things? Far too much. Whose fault is it? Mine. I've heard stories about people like Brother Lawrence, a 16th-century monk who practiced continually entering the presence of God. That's not squandering. Whatever Brother Lawrence did, it was in communion with God. If I can work toward that, then the squandering will diminish. Even video games, in their proper sphere, may be a divinely-inspired activity. As I have been myself perhaps according more personality to Time than it indeed has, I will conclude with one of the greatest personifications of this abstract concept, Shakespeare's monologue by Time that opens the beginning of Act IV of one of his greatest works, A Winter's Tale.

I, that please some, try all, both joy and terror
Of good and bad, that make and unfold error,
Now take upon me, in the name of Time,
To use my wings. Impute it not a crime
To me or my swift passage, that I slide
O'er sixteen years, and leave the growth untried
Of that wide gap; since it is in my power
To o'erthrow law, and in one self-born hour
To plant and o'erwhelm custom. Let me pass
The same I am, ere ancient'st order was
Or what is now receiv'd: I witness to
The times that brought them in; so shall I do
To the freshest things now reigning, and make stale
The glistering of this present, as my tale
Now seems to it. Your patience this allowing,
I turn my glass and give my scene such growing
As you had slept between. Leontes leaving,-
The effects of his fond jealousies so grieving,
That he shuts up himself,-imagine me,
Gentle spectators, that I now may be
In fair Bohemia; and remember well,
I mention'd a son o' the king's, which Florizel
I now name to you; and with speed so pace
To speak of Perdita, now grown in grace
Equal with wondering: what of her ensues
I list not prophesy; but let Time's news
Be known when 'tis brought forth. A shepherd's daughter,
And what to her adheres, which follows after,
Is th' argument of Time. Of this allow,
If ever you have spent time worse ere now:
If never, yet that Time himself doth say
He wishes earnestly you never may. [Exit.]


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