Tag Archives: Over Thinking

In The Audience And On Stage: How Does Live Music Relate To Worship?

Today I’m playing a little gig at our neighborhood block party. It should be quite fun because as far as I know, most of our neighbors downloaded my album, thanks to my mom. I find it awkward and funny and awesome all at the same time, but regardless, I’m going to play guitar today.

Last night my dad and I went to see Rend Collective. They’re a Christian band from Ireland, and they’re hysterically funny, talented, and otherwise awesome. My dad and I are concert buddies, and we were very overdue for some live music. The best part about it was that I was kind of in a foul mood before the show, but after it, I was happy as a fed guinea pig.

I was kind of thinking to myself that a rock concert isn’t exactly conducive to worship, but apparently it was without me explicitly knowing it. At one point the lead singer said something that I almost missed, but now I think I agree with it very much: he said Christians tend to think that spirituality has to be serious all of the time. The truth is that we’re supposed to celebrate and have fun. It’s sometimes hard for me to get past what I do wrong, and when I screw up, and I pray for forgiveness and I pray for him to fix me when I’m already forgiven.

I think this can be hard for a lot of people, including myself, because what we celebrate is, quite frankly, kind of confusing. When I really think about it, it actually pisses me off, what Jesus had to go through. I’m just going to go ahead and say that he was the nicest person ever to live. It’s pretty hard to argue with that. He was also the most innocent person ever to live, and he willingly went to a death he didn’t deserve. That confuses me and pisses me off.

What we’re supposed to celebrate is the freedom we now have and the salvation we have because of what he did, but there’s a bit of guilt that comes along with that. We’re not supposed to feel guilty, but a lot of times we do. It’s natural, and quite frankly, it’s annoying.

Last night I got an idea for a new song. Part of it was, despite the fact that the three bands who played last night were stylistically very different, they occasionally used some of the same motifs and metaphors in their lyrics. It’s a trap Christian bands often fall into. Rend Collective turned out to be a bit more creative, which I appreciated, but I decided that if I’m going to write a new worship song–which I am, it’s kind of what I do–I’m going to try and sneak away from convention. The idea for my new song is that the world is really loud and cluttered, and what seems to be missing is complete silence and complete darkness. I don’t know if I’ll even end up using these lines in my new song, or if they’ll be modified, but this is what I came up with last night. I think I like it.

I want to find the silence
I want to find the darkness
I want be where time Is endless
And there’s nothing between us
Nothing, nothing

I have a feeling the idea might end up getting muddled if I’m not careful, but then I’m the queen of convoluted. Very few of my songs are actually straight forward. Maybe it’s a problem, but I don’t think so. I decided something else last night as well. I decided that when I perform, I’m never going to explicitly try and make my shows into worship sessions, whether I’m playing at a college, or a bar or a church. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, but it’s hard because when you go to see a show, at least from my experience, you’re kind of going to see the band and freak out about how good their music is. Then again, I find that it’s sometimes easiest to worship when you’re with a whole bunch of people who are singing the same songs, maybe even harmonizing, and jumping around because, yes, the music is EPIC. In reality, whether it “works” or not is on us.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

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I Finally Asked Her

Last night I asked my friend a question I had been meaning to ask her for a long time: “What would convince you that I’m right about God: rather, what would convince you that God is a real, semiconcrete figure and that Jesus is his son?”

Her response: “I don’t know. I’ve had one spiritual experience in the past, but it didn’t really convince me that one particular religion or faith was the right one. When I was younger my mom took me to church, and I went on a retreat with a group once. I ended up crying a lot when they were talking about God’s love because it was just crazy that despite all of my flaws and everything that he would love me so much. It didn’t convince me of anything else in particular, though.”

I told her about the time several years ago when I was feeling very lonely, and long story short, I prayed about it, and God made it better. My friend said, “You felt that God answered you. I’ve never felt that.” We were in the middle of a Breaking Bad marathon, and I wasn’t sure what to say after that, so I just sort of let it go from there. I hope she thinks about it some more, though. I prayed last night that she would believe somehow. I pray about that a lot. I try not to be annoying about it, but I just wish she could have what I do.

Earlier in the evening she had mentioned that sometimes she has trouble sleeping because she just starts thinking. She said she thinks about sexism and politics and things like that. I told her I have the exact same problem, only I think about weird spiritual and philosophical things. Maybe that has something to do with our spiritual differences. I don’t know. Anyway, I’m off to school in a few minutes. I start my play writing class today with a professor I had last semester for a poetry writing class. It should be super fun.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

The Bystander Effect

Yesterday in my philosophy class we talked about the bystander effect. We talked about how a group of people will stand and watch a child drown purely because there are other people there. People seem to have a mentality of “no one else is helping, why should I?” It’s why the genocide of the Jews in Germany was even possible.

It’s also why there are millions of starving children in the wold. We talked about how it seems that a person who is able to help should be morally obligated to from an egalitarian viewpoint. We talked about how people act based on social norms and an innate sense of self preservation and how this does not  seem to correlate with egalitarianism or a common sense of compassion.

It disturbed me a little in class, but we have talked about this kind of thing numerous times before in other classes mainly on a theoretical level. It sunk in however when I read an add in the school bulletin that gets sent out once a day via email. A girl was asking for help with a public speaking project she had coming up and I almost replied, but then I thought, “Well, she probably already has several other people offering to help her and I’m busy.” It is midterms. What if everyone else was “too busy” as well? I most likely have a few hours to spare some time this week. Am I morally obligated to help that girl?

Something else struck me today. I remembered that Jesus said, “The poor will always be with you.” Why? Is it because people aren’t helping? Is it because of economic or social structures, as some would argue? Do they bring poverty upon themselves? Is it forced upon them? What bothers me most is that word always. Is there nothing we can do to stop it? Is poverty an undying force that can’t be stopped?

A question that plenty of people deal with all the time is; why, if God is good does he allow suffering? I don’t have an answer to that. Everyone suffers in one way or another. It’s because we live in an imperfect world. What I really don’t get is why some people suffer WAY more than others. What’s more is that often times, the more people suffer, the stronger their faith is. In fact, many people bring suffering upon themselves to strengthen their spiritual life. The thing about our God is that he suffered for us, and he suffers with us. I know that, but I don’t entirely know what it means. God is with us and he is with us in our suffering, but what does it mean that he suffers too? I think if I could figure that out I would understand a lot of other things as well.

Last semester in my creative nonfiction writing class I read a short piece called “Being Christ to the Traveler.” In short it was about a guy who offers to hold a drunk guy’s flowers while he pees out the door of a train (the guy had evidently just broken up with his girlfriend). We can help anyone by doing little things like that, but it takes so much more to help the poor or the people dying of AIDS over in Africa.

The thing is, I basically don’t have anything saved. If it weren’t for my parents I’d be dead on the street somewhere, but as it stands I live in an awesome house in a nice, safe neighborhood, I go to a super nice college and took guitar lessons for five years. I personally am very poor. I have a part time job, but because of school and music I don’t work much and I make peanuts; actually less than peanuts.

All the money I’ve saved or that I make goes to recording my first album, and that’s where I’m conflicted. My plan/hope is to be able to live off of music and have a little extra to send to charities, etc. What we talked about in my philosophy class was this; is it more morally right to take the money one spends on college/recording/whatever and just give that to charity, or should one wait, go through college/recording/gigging/whatever and ultimately be able to do much more and help many more people? I don’t know.

I guess a good compromise is to help who you can when you can, how you can, but I don’t think it’s quite as satisfying as being able to say you got a kid out of poverty. I guess we’re not supposed to look for satisfaction out of helping people. Again, I’m probably thinking about this too much.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!