Today at the beginning of chapel the campus pastors took a moment to share about some new prayer thing that was happening, and they shared a quick story about praying against the Marilyn Manson concert that was in town this week. Sherry made a slip of the tongue and said something about, “When Marilyn Manson comes to Bethel.” Everyone laughed and thought it was funny, and Sherry’s face turned red and she laughed for a minute before continuing.
But I wasn’t laughing. I obviously didn’t listen to much they were saying about the prayer meetings. I was thinking about Marilyn Manson. He’s taken a lot of flack lately. A lot of people have been picketing his shows because of whatever connection there may be between the “goth” followers of his music and the Columbine shootings. As rumor has it, at the Minneapolis show somebody put a big yellow smiley face somewhere on the stage, and when Manson saw it, he stopped the concert mid-song, and stormed off the stage. Sherry related this story as a victory story for the group that was praying for the presence of God to be in that concert hall.
Continue reading Inviting Marilyn Manson Over for Dinner
I noticed today that the dandelions are finally popping up, and so I’ll take the chance to talk about a song I’ve been meaning to talk about for a while. I can’t pull just a few good lines out, so here’s the whole thing.
Continue reading Dandelions: You See Flowers in These Weeds
Tonight I watched a concert in the Benson Great Hall at Bethel College. Now picture the scene, Bethel is a Baptist General Conference school. This means conservative. The lifestyle statement has a “no school sponsored” dancing provision, however you want to decipher that. The Benson Great Hall is this really nice, acoustically harmonized concert hall that would be perfect for the Vienna Choir Boys (who have sung there). Then imagine a swing/punk band named Skooch taking the stage. Hepcats in their zoot suits (not really, but it sounds good) prancing around stage, and twenty people clustered in front dancing away. Dancing. In the Great Hall. At Bethel College. It’s nothing new, I saw it last year at several big time concerts. It’s just fun to see a reminder every once in a while.
Tonight I blared punk music. Several weeks ago I talked about how soothing acoustic music can be. Well, there’s a time and place for everything, and tonight I enjoyed the time for loud, punk rawk music. There’s just something about the raw emotion expressed in the music that captured my mood tonight.
The drum beats faster and papers pile higher.
Are we spoon-fed Christianity? How often does it seem that the basics of the faith are repeated and repeated and repeated. The stereotypical Christian song doesn’t express anything new, it simply rehashes what we already know. This is where Christian music has taken a lot of hits. Certainly not all Christian music is like this, I can think of numerous examples that don’t. But so often the lyrics seem just a little simple. Doesn’t Paul call us to move beyond the simple matters of faith? When I was a child I talked like a child, but now I am a man and should act so. Shouldn’t we be moving beyond this spiritual baby food to something more substantial. Intelligence is one of the greatest gifts that God has given us, and it’s a shame that it often goes neglected. I could even extend this critique to the Christian book industry, but I don’t think you want me to go there. I applaud the efforts of Christians who use their minds. A song by the group Silage comes to mind. It’s called Original,
and you can get a high quality MP3 version of the song by following that neat little link. The lyrics are rather biting, so I decided I’d put ’em all here:
“Original” by Silage:
Let’s get lost in an original sound / I heard a band that was better / Than the last one around / So, take my time, my line, my beat down / I serve a God that doesn’t judge me / By a new sound / Ok, honestly, it’s coming too easy / I’m makin’ up an old used verse, chorus, key / This has not been done before / This hasn’t been done before
That’s it, get down, we’re lookin for / Some new ground / Gotta break through with the break through / New sound / And that won’t happen ’cause it’s / Time to get down / Here’s a tune, where’s the truth / Inside, we found / It’s almost, it’s almost, it’s almost, it’s almost / it’s almost over and I haven’t said a word yet / That hasn’t been done before / This hasn’t been done before
Breakdown / Gotta have a breakdown / Build it up / Back to the verse and / It’s alright to write a song that / Sounds like everyone else’s song so
Let’s get lost in an original sound / I heard a band that was better / Than the last one around / This hasn’t been done before / This hasn’t been done before
My radio show, Mission Control, returned to the air tonight. Ah, it feels good to be on again. Tonight Bethel Students Ben Kyle and Luke Jacobs came on and played a three song acoustic set. It sounded really good. Ben’s Irish and not only has a really cool accent, but a great singing voice. I guess I could describe it as raspy and airy. But I don’t claim to be a good music critic, so take that for what it’s worth. It just sounds different, and I like it.
With a beat up and chipped guitar the musician plays his heart. I’ve got to hand it to them, they’re a very brave breed. I can write something and stand a million miles from my work. The musician (speaking of the live performance of course) has nothing between him and the hostile audience but a microphone stand. That takes guts. It’s also performance based, which doesn’t give you much chance for editing, one of the writer’s best friends.
While introducing one of his songs Ben made a comment that I thought kind of captured the essence of music. He said that he didn’t like to explain songs too much because you’re supposed to catch the meaning of the song by listening to the song. It sounds so simple, but so often we want to hear what the songwriter thinks, and we don’t just listen to the song and see what it means for us. That’s the beauty of music. It doesn’t need an explanation. The music puts meaning to the words and encourages you to feel the emotions that the words are expressing. That’s what makes music such a powerful instrument. (no pun intended)
Oh the wonder of music. Tonight I listened. I saw an acoustic performance by the band Ethan’s Well. I was there by myself, and I sat down with a pad of paper, eager to jot down whatever came to my mind. It’s kind of a cool way to listen to music. There’s just something about acoustic music like this that soothes your spirit, relaxes your body, and engages your mind. I slipped into a very contemplative and reflective mood while I listened to the music. There’s something about music that’s very captivating and appealing. I found myself rather observant tonight, and I watched people’s reactions to the music. They were playing a free show at a Christian bookstore, and people walking through the mall would stop and peak in. I watched a decrepit old man tap his foot and nod his head to the beat. I watched a little child’s eyes fill with wonder and awe, and I saw his big smile as he clutched a new CD in his two hands and gazed at it triumphantly.
I also realized something about this kind of music. Maybe it’s true for other styles, but acoustic especially. The songs are a much more personal and intimate expression for the artist. A lot of rock or ska songs are about much broader topics and usually a lot more energetic. They generally don’t promote reflection. They make a statement, but it’s usually a bold statement, stated plainly and clearly. There’s not a lot of thinking involved (or in some cases there’s so much thinking involved that it loses any significance). Or maybe it’s just Ethan’s Well’s music. I don’t know, I’m just rambling. But it seems like the song is such a personal thing for the artist. And there they are on stage, singing it to a room full of people. They’re putting their heart on a platter for the world to look at. That’s kind of scary. You have to be a brave and strong person to do that. I admire people who can do that. I appreciate it. Just some thoughts about music. It’s kind of fun to just sit there and listen and not do anything else. It’s something one of my roommate’s Josh would highly recommend. Listen closer.
Heard some depressing news today, at least for a lot of you Bethel people. Chris Frank, co-singer and guitarist for the band Ethan’s Well has left the band. I just received an e-mail about it, and personally, I’m kind of bummed. They had a really good sound and I’ve always thought they were going to go somewhere with it. The pressures of school, a new marriage, work, and the band were just too much for him. The three remaining members of the band are going to try and continue on, which is a pretty daunting task, considering they just lost half their songs and they’re down to one singer/guitarist. So you may want to keep Chris Frank and the remainder of Ethan’s Well (Matt, Mark, & Nate) in your prayers. Part of the difficulty of continuing on is the several shows they have booked in the coming months. In fact, they’re playing at the New Union this Saturday night, and have a February 6th show at Coffee Shock. So get out there and support this ministry if you can. These guys are talented musicians and deserve the recognition, especially right now when things can’t be easy for ’em. And just to encourage you, I think Mission Control (the famed radio show with which I am a co-host) is going to give away free tickets to the New Union show.
Seeing as I just gave myself some work to do, I better get on that. So that’s the end of my ponderings for today. If your brain is still thirsty, check out my inspiration. It’s my friend Ben Tramm’s page, the place I stole the idea of a daily thoughts page from.