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This article -- "Soldiers of Christ," by Jeff Sharlet of Harper's -- is astonishing. I've been in plenty of churches like this, but I never thought of this kind of demons-behind-every-sin-and-under-every-bush church culture to be something my president would be enough into to consult weekly. I tried to read this article imagining as fully as possible how it might all look from the perspective of a church member or the church pastor, and probably the reading I can come up with that's most favorable to the church portrayed would be that one of the drawbacks of rapid church growth is that it's practically impossible to offer serious spiritual formation to all members, and Sharlet talked with some of the least formed members of the congregation, whose small group leaders may not have been so spiritually formed themselves. But geez.

Non-Prophet also prints an email from the pastor of the church profiled in the article to its membership on what typical vocabulary of church members and behaviors in worship shouldn't happen when news cameras are around. Had I been in the pastor's shoes, I probably would have told the church to read all the way through 1 Corinthians a few times, with particular attention to the passages on spiritual gifts and good order in worship. But then again, I wouldn't have waited until I thought news cameras were on the way to do that.

via slactivist

May 30, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

two nine days to Indigo Girls!

On Wednesday [edit: That's a week from Wednesday -- guess in my eagerness to be Indigo-bound, I erased a week of the countdown!], Karen and I are going to see the Indigo Girls at Wolf Trap, which is my favorite place to see them. Wolf Trap allows concert-goers who are in the General Admission section on the lawn in back of the venue to bring picnic dinners, and glass containers and alcohol are just fine. So we pack a lovely picnic dinner, including wine (I'm thinking of bringing some champagne this time around), bring along the special stadium seats we've got for Wolf Trap concerts (you're not allowed to have lawn chairs that come above the ground, so these are cushions that sit directly on the ground, but have a back with support) and spread out on blankets a couple of hours before the show. The people on the lawn tend to be a lovely, well-mannered, friendly bunch, and there's a community feel to it that's something like what I used to see at Grateful Dead shows, only without the drugs (which I always experienced as a detraction from the community feel).

I just noticed that the Indigo Girls are playing at Ram's Head Live in Baltimore later this month. Anyone been there? I probably won't go -- I feel a little guilty about buying the Wolf Trap tickets on top of tickets to see U2 in New York and DC (General Admission for both shows, and for U2, that means on the floor, not at the back!), and it's hard to justify yet another expensive concert, even if it's Indigo Girls, when my job is going away and it's not at all certain that I'll get another one. But if that Ram's Head in Baltimore is a really small venue, that would be awfully fun ...

May 30, 2005 in Music | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Trent Reznor has done something VERY cool

I've long been a fan of Nine Inch Nails (yes, I have eclectic musical tastes -- Indigo Girls, Ani DiFranco, X, U2, Ella Fitzgerald, the Tallis Scholars, Los Super Seven ... it's all good!), but Trent Reznor just increased exponentially in coolness factor in my eyes.

He's released for free download the original tracks in GarageBand format for "The Hand That Feeds," the new Nine Inch Nails single, so fans can alter and remix to their heart's content. The NIN news page has this intriguingly vague 4-15-05 announcement:



It's a 70 MB download, and it does require GarageBand 2.0, but you can download it directly from here. The text from the Read Me that Reznor includes with the download is after the jump.

Hello all-
For quite some time I've been interested in the idea of allowing you the ability to tinker around with my tracks - to create remixes, experiment, embellish or destroy what's there.  I tried a few years ago to do this in shockwave with very limited results.
After spending some quality time sitting in hotel rooms on a press tour, it dawned on me that the technology now exists and is already in the hands of some of you.  I got to work experimenting and came up with something I think you'll enjoy.
What I'm giving you in this file is the actual multi-track audio session for "the hand that feeds" in GarageBand format.  This is the entire thing bounced over from the actual Pro Tools session we recorded it into.  I imported and converted the tracks into AppleLoop format so the size would be reasonable and the tempo flexible.
You need a Macintosh and you need GarageBand 2.0.  If you have a newer Mac, you already have the software.  The more RAM you have the better.  I did this on a PowerBook 1.67 w/ 2G RAM but it has been running on far less powerful systems.
Drag the file over to your hard disk and double click it.  Hit the space bar.  Listen.
Change the tempo.  Add new loops.  Chop up the vocals.  Turn me into a woman.  Replay the guitar.  Anything you'd like.
I gave this to my crew and band to test out and all work effectively stopped for a while - it's fun to mess around with.  I've now heard a country version of the track as well as an abstract Latin interpretation (thanks, Leo).
There are some copyright issues involved, so read the notice that pops up.  Giving this away is an experiment.  I'm interested to see what comes of it, what issues are raised and what the results are.
Have fun-
Trent Reznor
April 15, 2005

May 30, 2005 in Music | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

capital letters are my friends

I've discovered a number of new blogs lately with some really good thoughts. They're places that I'd go back to regularly, but for one thing:

They don't use any capitalization.

I understand that this is a very 'hep' thing to do, and that much of it springs from the world of instant messaging, where capital letters are used infrequently. When I instant message, I use a lot fewer caps as well, and my titles for posts often omit them. I've used all lower-case letters in some designs for logos and taglines. I love the poetry of lucille clifton, which is in all lower-case letters.

What all of these things -- post titles, instant messages, taglines, clifton's poetry -- have in common, though, is that they're brief lines of text. When I'm reading longer passages of prose, I find it to be very hard work to read if there aren't the natural visual breaks provided by conventional punctuation, paragraphing, and capital letters.

It's not that I think that conventional grammar and typography are moral goods; if anything, I feel a little guilty for not reading something solely because it's entirely in lower-case letters. I've never left a huffy comment on someone's blog about capitalization or punctuation, and I don't intend to start. I have occasionally suggested to someone that their fundraising letters to a diverse readership or their grant applications will probably be more successful if they use conventional grammar and typography, but that's a different matter entirely. But it does make me a little sad when I miss out on someone's perfectly good or even wonderful ideas simply because the typography requires more effort to read than I can manage in the midst of everything else I keep up with.

Am I getting prematurely crotchety, incredibly lazy, or overly demanding? I don't know, but while the proliferation of new media such as blogs that make publishing affordable has at least one down side: with so very much published information out there, there's a lot more competition for readers, and someone who wants a broad readership (not everyone does, of course) to gain influence for their ideas needs to be even more conscientious about removing potential roadblocks for readers.

May 28, 2005 in Writing | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Friday catblogging

BettelookingupBette says hi.

May 27, 2005 in Cats | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Britain bound!

Great_britain_mapLooks like I'm bound for Britain (with Edinburgh as my default home base, but I'm definitely up for travel) from September 24 - October 5. Anyone up for a pint (especially of Younger's No. 3 real ale ... I'm pretty sure I remember that as being my favorite)?

This will be my first trip back since I finished at St. Mary's Divinity College at St. Andrews. I'm looking forward to it!

May 26, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

a natural alliance

Some thoughts worth thinking from David Brooks:

My third thought, which may be more profound than the other two, is that we can have a culture war in this country, or we can have a war on poverty, but we can't have both. That is to say, liberals and conservatives can go on bashing each other for being godless hedonists and primitive theocrats, or they can set those differences off to one side and work together to help the needy.

The natural alliance for antipoverty measures at home and abroad is between liberals and evangelical Christians. These are the only two groups that are really hyped up about these problems and willing to devote time and money to ameliorating them. If liberals and evangelicals don't get together on antipoverty measures, then there will be no majority for them and they won't get done.

May 26, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

youth Sunday

YouthcrossI just want to share something from last Sunday, which was Youth Sunday at the parish where I work. The high schoolers' spring retreat included a litrugy of the style that became customary when I came on board, in which everyone was invited to respond to the theme, to the readings, and to what we were experiencing together in every medium I could manage -- projected images, soundtrack, modelling clay, fingerpaint, other paints, and markers -- and we offered together what we'd experienced to God.

We offered it again to God and for the upbuilding of Christ's Body at Youth Sunday last Sunday. We're in between rectors (senior pastors, in non-Episcopal parlance) at the moment, so most liturgy that departed from a typical Sunday needed to be in nonverbal media. So the altar cloth was crafted by the high school youth group during out spring retreat liturgy, and the sanctuary -- normally without any iconography to speak of, as we have no stained glass and no permanent art in the sanctuary -- had a number of crucifixes, each of which was composed from many offerings from the youth group -- sculptures, multimedia works, prose poems, drawings, and photographs of all of the above -- put on the wall for reflection.

I was proud of and humbled by the bareness of what was offered, and I think that those who listened heard the word of God more deeply in the experience.

May 25, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

dog eat dog

I was sad to see this interview with Joni Mitchell. She was one of my first heroes, and she's never slipped from the hero-list. I decided in 1985 that I wanted to see her in concert, I didn't see her until the Troubadors of Folk festival in (I think) 1991 at U.C.L.A., my alma mater, and neither before nor since did she slip from my "people I wish I could see at McCabe's" list.

There was a time when I earned pretty much all I ate from music, and I have to admit that the dynamic Joni Mitchell talks about is responsible for my not choosing to make music my career. I love literature and majored in English lit as an undergrad, but when deciding on what I wanted to do for a graduate degree, I decided that I'd rather reserve literature as something I do solely because I love it. Before that, there was a time when I decided whether I'd rather get a graduate degree or be an artist -- a wordsmith, a tunesmith, or some combination of the two -- and I decided to reserve poetry and fiction and song to the field of what I do only because I love it, and never because I need to earn something for it.

I'm glad there are people out there like Emily Saliers, who seem to have found a way to live in doing what she loves. I like to think that I'm like her, except that I love more than one thing. Joni Mitchell became a musician despite that the corporate environment in which musicians make a living is hostile to a musician's art. Sometimes I feel like I chickened out.

And then I remember just what I've taken on in being a professional church minister. I occasionally imagine myself standing out on the median of a highway with a sandwich-board sign saying, "WILL PREACH FOR FOOD." I know it's silly, but sometimes I wish I could do that like I did when I was a street musician, just standing in a public place knowing that if people heard something that fed their souls, I'd find what I needed to feed the rest of me.

Except that I pretty much am doing that. I think at this point I'm pretty much the preaching equivalent of an Internet busker, a streetcorner gal offering what's on her mind and at her fingertips.

I wonder what kind of future and livelihood there is in Internet proclamation. I guess I'm finding out!

May 25, 2005 in Music | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack



Check out "The Cycle of Violence," which came out just after September 11, 2001, from FreeRange Graphics. Wow.

May 25, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack