Bullfrogs & Butterflies, Both Been Born Again

On the ride home from nun practice tonight (another story for another day – I’ll attempt to post a video should there be one), I listened to a radio interview with Randal Keynes. Keynes is the great-great-grandson of Charles Darwin and the author of a book about Darwin entitled “Creation.”

“Creation” has also been made into a film that opens in select theatres this week. It’s a film I feel most Christians will never see, and that makes me sad. To begin with, it stars Paul Bettany, who’s amazing, but more than that, the story told in the film (as I was able to glean it from the radio interview) is one that most Christians need to hear, and with which most non-Christians will identify.

Keynes says Darwin didn’t see his evolutionary theory as something in conflict with Christianity (something many of my Christian friends also hold true). Keynes also says that it wasn’t “Origin of the Species,” but the inexplicable death of Darwin’s young daughter that drove Darwin away from his belief in God. He says that Darwin’s loss of faith was something that was a constant struggle in his life and his marriage because his wife was devout in her faith.

Many Christians respond to evolutionary theory like Darwin was a heretic who maliciously threw his theories in the face of faith. I think it behooves us to ponder that he struggled with it, agonized over it. It benefits us to reflect that he was a man who was hurt and broken and felt betrayed and abandoned by a God to whom he’d once dedicated his life.

We all know people like that. I’d venture to say we’ve all felt like that at one time or another. Doubt and struggle can be so much a part of faith. I know personally, it’s my doubts that help me solidify my faith and grow in my beliefs. Gandhi once said, “Faith… must be enforced by reason…. When faith becomes blind it dies.” I think that’s true. Blind faith is a shallow faith. It’s the faith that’s tested, proved, that becomes deeper, stronger. Mark 9:24 is a great verse. In a moment of desperation, loss, confusion, none of the above, all of the above, a man responds to Christ by saying “I believe – help my unbelief.” Jesus, as is His way, is faithful to follow through.

I’ll be going to see “Creation.” I hope my friends who don’t go see it do so because they’re sure of what they believe, not because they’re sure what they’re against. I hope that the Christian community recognizes that there’s more to the story than the creation/evolution debate. I hope we find ways that this film, like so many before it can be redeemed and used for God’s glory. I hope. I hope. I hope.

Sometimes I Get Bored, Even Though I Know I’m Blessed

Yes, I know I’m bad at this.

Since my last blog I….

1 ) Saw Monsters of Folk in concert.

2 ) Had a Sesame Street themed birthday party complete with bounce house and ball pit.

3 ) Turned 30.

4 ) Bought footie pajamas. (I’m wearing them now.)

5 ) Celebrated Christmas with my family. It snowed. It was strange.

6 ) Celebrated New Year’s with my friends.

7 ) Played entirely too much Band Hero.

8 ) Made an A in my Internet Evangelism course.

9 ) Started my current course: Postmodern Theology, Film and Youth Culture.

10 ) Started shopping for a new place to live.

Tomorrow I’m shopping for tacky prom dresses and possibly teaching friends the dance from Thriller.

You are now completely caught up on the last 2 months of my life. Ok, so not completely, but the good news is, I’m back.

Throw Its Cover Down On Me Again

It’s long been said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery (no one knows who said it, don’t ask). I’m not entirely sure that that’s true, but I do know that in music it’s at least usually entertaining.

Lately my musical bent has shifted to covers. Maybe it’s the attention cover music is getting thanks to Fox’s new hit Glee. (BTW – the version of “Dancing With Myself” from last week’s episode is worth a listen.)  A good cover isn’t just so-and-so’s rendition of a song, but a version that both pays homage to and/or reinvents the original. Cover songs need to be well-known in their original version, but a spectacular cover will make one forget (at least momentarily) the original all together. There’s a difference between covering a song and just recording a song. The movies “Across the Universe” and “I Am Sam” offered up some fabulous Beatles covers, but the fact that everyone seems to be recording “Hallelujah” in the 00’s doesn’t mean they’re covering the Leonard Cohen original (except possibly Jeff Buckley). See the difference?

I’m compiling a playlist of sensational covers. My favorites on the list so far are: Bob Schneider’s “If I Only Had a Brain,” The Fray’s “Heartless,” Tyler Hilton’s “Missing You” and Gavin DeGraw’s “Let’s Get It On.” I’m realizing that for every great song covered (like Queen Latifah’s “California Dreamin'”), there’s an equally schmaltzy and horrific cover on the market. (Mandy Moore’s “Mona Lisas and Madhatters” is just wrong.)

The list is ever-growing, but I definitely need more suggestions. What are your favorite covers?

I Could Say Bella, Bella, Even Say Wunderbar

fred_and_ginger_i8huMy friend Jesselyn is getting married.

She’s having a theme wedding, which I LOVE. Ordinarily, I’m not a fan of theme weddings. They can be extraordinarily contrived, and if not done well, people remember the theme rather than the bride and groom. If people leave the ceremony talking about all the groomsmen being storm troopers or knights of the round table rather than talking about the happy couple – what’s the point? It’s made the whole thing a spectacle rather than spectacular.

When done well, though, theme weddings can be fantastic. That’s the thing about them: they’re either a huge success or a humongous failure. There’s no in between.

Jesselyn’s wedding doesn’t happen until February, but I can already tell you that this theme wedding will be great. Jess is one of those few fun and meticulous people who can make a theme seem effortless. Her theme is 1940’s Glamour, and chances are once the initial ooohs and ahhhs settle down, people will forget about the theme and just feel like they’re at the most elegant and glamorous wedding of 2010.

I’m really excited about this wedding because (a) I love Jesselyn & weddings are a good time (Jess’ will be quite the party), (b) I’ll be singing (which I love) and (c) it’s formal and I get to dress up! Whoo hooo!! So now, decisions have to be made – do I go Vivian Leigh, Rita Hayworth, Lana Turner, Veronica Lake, Lauren Bacall, Ava Gardner, Ginger Rogers, Ingrid Bergman, Betty Grable…? I’d add Katherine Hepburn, but that whole uber-svelte menswear look just isn’t one I can sport. It’s not a costume wedding, but you have to admit, those women have been iconic since their post-war heydays. Right now I’m leaning toward Veronica Lake or Rita Hayworth, though the sultry Lauren Bacall smirk and voice is a hard one to pass up. It’ll probably end up as an amalgam of the three. After all, there really are no limits (I asked Jess just to make sure) on bombshell potential…other than that I refuse to believe blondes have more fun.

She’s Got Something I’m Looking For

Last night some friends and I went to see Ingrid Michaelson in concert. She’s amazing live and the concert was everything you want a concert to be: intimate, fun, inspiring. I left there with the feeling that if she and I knew each other, we’d be kooky friends.

The guy that opened for Ingrid was a guy named Greg Holden. He’s a baby-faced, guitar playing British kid, and his music was good, but a little generic for a guy still trying to make a name for himself. I happily tuned out until he sang this song, which resonated in my soul in such a way I feel like I could have written it.

It’s called “She’s Got Something.” It’s on his EP and you should give it a listen on youtube or itunes, but until then – you should read the lyrics below: a love letter to a city.

SHE’S GOT SOMETHING by GREG HOLDEN

Well it all started out
In a wonderful city we all know
But on street that few have seen
I couldn’t figure whereabouts
All of our moves were meant to go
But I knew that I was keen

And from that moment on
My life would never be the same

I flew to see her twice a year
But all that did was make it worse
My days grew longer back at home
Then suddenly I saw so clear
This town just doesn’t quench my thirst
Oh no no no

And I knew from that moment on
My life would never be the same
She was a tough one to restrain
She was the one that got away

Get me back, Get me back to New York
She’s got something I’m looking for
Get me back, Get me back to New York
She’s got something I’m looking for

What came next was what I didn’t expect
You might say she swept me off my feet
And there was more upset
But certainly no regrets
Of the night we met within those streets

And from that moment on
My life would never be the same
She was a tough one to restrain
She was the one that got away

Get me back, Get me back to New York
She’s got something I’m looking for
Get me back, Get me back to New York
She’s got something I’m looking for

Where’s The Proof In You?

PROGRESS AFTER 11 DAYS…

3. be able to say 100 Bible verses from memory – I’m working on a list of the ones I can say, and I may up the number because I have more than I thought I would, and the point is to be stretched, right?

6. finish seminary – enrolled in 4 of my 16 remaining hours this quarter. I’m taking an Internet Evangelism and Cybermission class which I’m excited about because I think the internet is going to be a distinctive venue of ministry in the coming years, but also nervous about because I can already tell my professor is a little more linear than what I’m used to. I have a feeling I’ll be using more of my left-brain in this class than in the spring quarter when I wrote a paper on the themes from Song of Solomon reflected in Pride & Prejudice and The Twilight Saga.

29. walk Cordelia for 30 minutes a day – she’s loving this and so am I. Sometimes it’s morning and sometimes it’s at night…dependent on what my schedule allows.  I’ve amended this one to just playing with her for 30 minutes on inclimate weather days. She balks at going outside to relieve herself when it’s wet or cold; making her be out in it for 30 minutes would be more torture than good for either on of us.

40. change all the light bulbs in my house to energy efficient bulbs – my room: check, most of the living room: check. It’s the rest of the house that’s tricky. The kitchen won’t be an issue, but the darn library and bathroom have special fancy bulbs. I may have to wait for my next humble abode to fully implement this one.

49. clean out my car once a week – it’s always easier to find motivation for this when the weather’s been as nice as it has been this last week. When the car’s a mess stuff goes flying out the open convertible when speeding down the highway.

51. do 5 push-ups  and 5 sit-ups per day for one week; add one push-up/sit-up per day per week (stop the increase, but not the exercise at 50) – jackknife crunches are a piece of cake and I’m loving them (go figure); push-ups are evil. Evidently, I’ve never used my triceps. Ever. It’s not that they’re hard to do, it’s just that I have that muscle burn thing going on. I know there are those of you who say that’s a “good burn,” but you people are masochists. I agree that there are “hurts so good” moments in life, but I have knots in arms that are masseuse worthy. I’m hoping that by the time I get to 50 a week, I’ll have worked through the pain. 🙂

56. compile a recipe book – new stuff thus far: Moroccan Chickpea Stew, Gazpacho, red velvet cupcakes, pumpkin streusel muffins…

57. write one poem every week – could use some work. I’m seriously out of the creative writing habit, which makes me sad a little, like I’ve been denying part of myself that’s a serious gift.

81. go to 5 concerts of people I’ve never seen live (0/5) – I’m going to see Ingrid Michaelson tomorrow night. Yippee!!

95. turn my living room into a ball pit – I’m really excited about this one!! Really, really, really!! I’ve still got a long way to go, but as of now (thanks to some amazing finds and some fantastically generous friends) I’ve got almost 1000 of the 30,000 I’ll need. If you’re out of the loop on this one, I blogged about it here. OH! And Paul and Jennifer introduced me to the fabulousness of Wal-mart ship to store. Translation: you can order balls for the ball pit from Wal-mart (where they’re half the price they are anywhere else)  and have them shipped to my local store so you don’t have to pay for shipping. How great is that?


So that’s my update thus far. Nothing too exciting, but then again, it’s only been 11 days. I’ve got 990 to go.

How The Feeling Comes and Why It Goes

The very first day of 7th grade volleyball, I broke the ring finger on my left hand. It was weeks before I realized it was actually broken instead of jammed – thanks to some serious bruising and my exceptionally high tolerance for pain. The top knuckle now only bends about 65 rather than 90 degrees. My mom was initially upset because it’s my “wedding ring” finger, but no one’s put a ring on it and I’m fairly certain that has nothing to do with my finger being slightly misshapen on close examination. It can’t be even be blamed for ending my volleyball career (though looking back, I probably should have taken it as an omen and walked away).

The fact of the matter is that I seldom notice it. It’s not like now, 17 years later, the finger still hurts. On the very rare occasion that I use the ring finger on my left hand, I’ve learned to compensate. I can still (almost) set a volleyball (let’s face it, I was never stellar or I wouldn’t have broken the finger to begin with). I can still type about 100 words a minute – more if I’m writing in stream of consciousness and don’t have to worry about pesky things like spelling and punctuation.

The only time my pesky finger bothers me is when I pick up a guitar after stepping away from it for a while. I need to learn just NOT to fall out of practice because every time I do, I have to retrain that stupid finger to stay on the correct string. It’s not a huge deal playing the majority of chords. With G, C, & D  chords (aka – everything you ever needed to know to play a praise song), I can rest gracefully on the E, A, & B strings with nary an issue.

It’s the blasted F chords that are so darn difficult. I know, I know, barre chords (chords where 1 finger covers more than 1 string) are difficult for everyone. It’s just that when my index finger is in barre position (even if it’s two measly strings), my stupid, janky ring finger won’t bend like it’s supposed to bend in order to stay where it’s supposed to stay. My fingernail (which is trimmed short) grabs the sting above or my finger grazes the string below. The whole experience means that I not only have to eat my Wheaties to strenghten the muscles in my hand (which is a seriously underrated and little known element of guitar playing), but also practice some sort of crazy finger yoga to work on my flexibility.

I’ll eventually adjust. I always do. I’ll remember how to roll my finger and wrist just so to compensate. After a few days of practicing the calluses will be in the right place and my hand muscles will remember how to behave. Until then, though, I’ll rue the day I tried out for 7th grade volleyball, and contemplate (what would at this point be elective) orthopedic surgery to correct something I hardly ever notice.

People, They Need Piano Keys

I love music. I spend most of my day listening to it and still can’t get enough. If it’s done well, it can stir your soul before you ever understand a lyric. It’s the reason my post titles are all song lyrics (PS – if you’re playing THE GAME – or want to – there are lots of posts still to guess).

There are some songs, some artists, that just make you feel at home. For some: it’s artists in which they see them selves, for others: songs with a beat that drives something home; still others enjoy a hook that draws you in and stays with you; some people look for lyric driven song and others are looking for a catchy tune.

Personally, I’m drawn to phenomenal musicians…which makes my music library pretty varied. If you can incorporate a 12 sting guitar or didgeridoo or a marimba or multiple families of instruments or multiple genres of music, you’ve caught my attention. That’s how I discovered Pink Martini and fell in love.

This week, though, it’s been Monsters of Folk.

MOF-minix500

I’m in love. The group is M. Ward (of, well, a bunch of stuff including She & Him), Jim James (of My Morning Jacket) and Conor Oberst & Mike Mogis (both of Bright Eyes). If any of these men happened to be single and love Jesus (and by the sound of this album – there’s a good chance of that), I’d marry him tomorrow. That’s how in love with their new album I am.

It’s been streaming on their MySpace since yesterday and I’ve been listening non-stop. I can’t wait for the actual release on Tuesday so I can have it on my phone and iPod and in my car and on my computer…

Innocence, Dragged Across A Yellow Line

I didn’t post this on September 11th because even 8 years later it still seems too fresh, too real, too overwhelming. I wonder if we’ve forever damaged ourselves by not bothering to find some moniker other than the date. Pearl Harbor, the assassination of JFK, the assassination of MLK, Jr…these are all significantly traumatizing events in American history, but we don’t all collectively reflect EVERY December 7, November 22, or April 4.

Is it just that 9/11 is still raw? That it’s too soon for the wounds to have healed? Is it that, unlike those other events, we don’t (and may never have) some sort of closure? Is it that I’m too young to remember those other things? Are the internal calendars of the generations who have gone before marred with multiple corporately traumatizing events? If so, will my generation learn to live with the horrors that kept us glued to our telephones and televisions 8 years ago? I’m not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing.

Regardless, though, I do believe healing is on the horizon. This short video has been playing in my head for the last couple of days. It’s the final scene to Gangs of New York and the music is the beginning strains of U2’s “The Hands that Built America.” The skyline of NYC has changed since this video, and if history is any indicator it’ll change again and again and again. NYC is stronger for the changes shown here, and it (just as every one of us) is getting stronger every day.