books

spoken words of magic…


as i’ve taught my students about spoken word the last few weeks, one of the cool things is to find fresh poems for them to have as examples. i’ve shown them my good friend James Wilson and slam poetry sensations Taylor Mali, Sarah Kay, and Buddy Wakefield. this is a wonderful poem by Buddy. by the way, i’ve been careful to edit for the students. enjoy…

 

Hurling Crowbirds at Mockingbars (Hope is Not a Course of Action)

By Buddy Wakefield

If we were created in God’s image
then when God was a child
he smushed fire ants with his fingertips
and avoided tough questions.
There are ways around being the go-to person
even for ourselves
even when the answer is clear
clear like the holy water Gentiles would drink
before they realized
forgiveness is the release of all hope for a better past.

I thought those were chime shells in your pocket
so I chucked a quarter at it
hoping to hear some part of you respond on a high note.
You acted like I was hurling crowbirds at mockingbars
and abandoned me for not making sense.
Evidently, I don’t experience things as rationally as you do.

For example, I know mercy
when I have enough money for the jukebox.
You know mercy whenever someone shoves a stick of morphine
straight up into your heart.
It felt amazing
the days you were happy to see me

so I smashed a beehive against the ocean
to try and make our splash last longer.
Remember all the honey
had me lookin’ like a jellyfish ape
but you walked off the water in a porcupine of light
strands of gold
drizzled out to the tips of your wasps.
This is an apology letter to the both of us
for how long it took me to let things go.

It was not my intention to make such a
production of the emptiness between us
playing tuba on the tombstone of a soprano
to try and keep some dead singer’s perspective alive.
It’s just that I coulda swore you had sung me a love song back there
and that you meant it
but I guess sometimes people just chew with their mouth open

so I ate ear plugs alive with my throat
hoping they’d get lodged deep enough inside the empty spots
that I wouldn’t have to hear you leaving
so I wouldn’t have to listen to my heart keep saying
all my eggs were in a basket of red flags
all my eyes to a bucket of blindfolds
in the cupboard with the muzzles and the gauze
ya know I didn’t mean to speed so far out and off
trying to drive your nickels to the well
when you were happy to let them wishes drop

but I still show up for gentleman practice
in the company of lead dancers
hoping their grace will get stuck in my shoes.
Is that a handsome shadow on my breath, sweet woman
or is it a cattle call in a school of fish?
Still dance with me
less like a waltz for panic
more for the way we’d hoped to swing
the night we took off everything
and we were swingin for the fences

don’t hold it against
my love
you know I wanna breath deeper than this
I didn’t mean to look so serious
didn’t mean to act like a filthy floor
didn’t mean to turn us both into a cutting board
but there were knives sstuck
in the words where I came from
too much time in the back of my words.
I pulled knives from my back and my words.
I cut trombones from the moment you slipped away

and I know it left me lookin’ like a knife fight, lady
boy I know it left me feelin’ like a shotgun shell
you know I know I mighta gone and lost my breath
but I wanna show ya how I found my breath
to death
it was buried under all the wind instruments
hidden in your castanets
goddamn –
if you ever wanna know how it felt when ya left –
if ya ever wanna come inside –

just knock on the spot
where I finally pressed STOP

playing musical chairs with your exit signs.

I’m gonna cause you a miracle
when you see the way I kept God’s image alive.

Forgiveness
is for anyone who needs safe passage through my mind.

If I really was created in God’s image
then when God was a boy
he wanted to grow up to be a man
a good man
and when God was a man
a good man
He started telling the truth in order to get honest responses.
He’d say,
“I know.
I really shoulda wore my cross
again
but I don’t wanna scare the gentiles off.”

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a book i picked up….


filmmaker

 

called “the Film-maker says” has been of enjoyment to me as of late. it’s little snippets and quotes from movie directors. i’ve used a few of them here as i write. they make great conversation starters, and i’ll use them in my classes as the year winds down.

i love a good quote. and this book is brimming over with not only great words, but contradictions on side by side pages. there are some quotes that are funny. some are sad. some are very thought provoking. it gives a little bit of insight from behind the camera that you might not always get. i recommend it for something to break the ice, or provoke thought.

“With some pictures, people leave the theater and it’s forgotten. If people see a picture of mine, and then sit down in a drugstore in a neighborhood or have coffee and talk about it for fifteen minutes, that is a very fine reward, I think. That’s good enough for me.” Billy Wilder

reading is FUNdamental


the other day i wrote about my top 5 worship songs. i like top 5 lists. top 10’s are very David Letterman, and top 20’s can be exhausting, besides a top 5 makes you really examine your favorites to get them down to the best.

so with or without fanfare, i present my top 5 books.

5. Fargo Rock City-Chuck Klosterman

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i actually checked this book out of the library and it was my first exposure to the genius that is Chuck Klosterman. his sharp witted essays about his love of Motley Crüe and the bleakness of North Dakota are brilliantly written and connect with the teenagers of the 80’s. he loves this genre of music and you can feel that passion come out in the book.

4. High Fidelity-Nick Hornby

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what? books about music that are my favorites? i wonder why? if you know me, then you know that i love all things English and this extends to my literature. Nick Hornby is as inventive a writer as i’ve read. his characters are so very flawed and very British that you can’t help but hurt with and pull for them. actually the idea for “top lists” comes from this book as it is a theme that weaves throughout. the main character, Rob, is an audiophile and has an extensive collection of vinyl and that makes me smile. he continually ascribes songs to feelings and ideas. music is rich throughout this book and Hornby writes from a level of expertise in a wonderfully relational style. side note, i like John Cusack in the movie version, but i hate it when Hollywood takes English novels and “Americanize” them.

3. No Country For Old Men-Cormac McCarthy

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oh, how i love Cormac McCarthy. i actually read a few of his books from the library. i started with All The Pretty Horses.  i picked this one up on a return trip and was mesmerized from the title page. Anton Chigur is the embodiment of evil. the character was so scary in the book that i had to remember that i was reading a work of fiction and not a real crime novel. the inner dialogue that Sherriff Ed Tom Bell provides in the interludes of action are beautifully rough and simple. i grew up in the region that the book is set in which makes it all the more real to me. when he describes the sheriff’s office in Sonora, or the open range where the drug deal gone wrong takes place, i can truly see it. masterful prose from a reclusive genius.

2. Chasing Francis-Ian Morgan Cron

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this book was recommended by Randy Elrod and i actually got to sit with the author at a SuperBowl party in Nashville in 2010 and talk about how awesome Led Zeppelin is. this book details the journey of a pastor named Chase who becomes disillusioned with his church and accepts an invite to visit his uncle in Italy where he has some supernatural experiences in the areas where St. Francis of Assisi lived and worked. it is a rich novel and Cron weaves beautiful ideas about life and God into the fictional story of this man who is struggling with who he thinks God is. you might also want to check out Cron’s book Jesus, My Father, The CIA and Me (a memoir of sorts)

1. The Chronicles of Narnia-The Last Battle-C.S. Lewis

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i fell in love with this series at a young age. there was an old linen bound collection at the Dublin Public Library, and i spent the summer between fourth and fifth grade becoming well accustomed to the wilds of Narnia. actually the whole series is precious to me, but this book especially has my heart. because in this book, Aslan, my favorite literary character of all time, reaches the culmination of who he really is throughout the series. don’t laugh, but i seriously cry when Aslan appears in the books. some of my favorite prose that Lewis wrote is in this book.

“And as He spoke, He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”

so tell me your top 5. what do you like to read? and give me ideas for future top 5’s.

why i write in lower case…


when i started blogging, i wanted to have a “style”. i wanted to write well, but i wanted to do something a little different.

i’ve always admired the work of e.e. cummings(he’s actually my favorite poet, i bought his complete works a few years back). his orthography of not using capitalization or periods has always intrigued me. he’s quite a controversial poet who refused to back down from the subjects he wrote about.  even though he used avant-garde style, his forms were traditional in a sense. he was a master of syntax and many of his poems are actually sonnets.

Critic Edmund Wilson once commented “Mr. Cummings’s eccentric punctuation is, also, I believe, a symptom of his immaturity as an artist. It is not merely a question of an unconventional usage: unconventional punctuation may very well gain its effect… the really serious case against Mr. Cummings’s punctuation is that the results which it yields are ugly. His poems on the page are hideous.” 

to me, that means Mr. Wilson just didn’t understand. he probably didn’t want to spend the time to labor over the beautiful words and tricky word play that makes cummings so wonderful to me.

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                            i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

From “i carry your heart with me(i carry it in” (1920) 
so that’s why i write in all lower case. it’s different and it’s an homage to one of my favorite poets. i do use punctuation, but only because i value the “pause”.
i’ll leave you with a few of my favorite cummings quotes.
“always the beautiful answer who asks a more beautiful question.”
“America makes prodigious mistakes, America has colossal faults, but one thing cannot be denied: America is always on the move. She may be going to hell, of course, but at least she isn’t standing still.”
“be of love a little more careful than of anything”

“humanity i love you because when you’re hard up you pawn your intelligence to buy a drink”

“nothing measurable matters”

Psalm 96


i’ve been giving people snippets of Psalms on FB and twitter as i go through the 40 day reading plans in The Voice of the Psalms. it’s a great translation.  today, there’s not enough room to post this whole thing and i didn’t want to put 20 posts up, so i’ll just link to here and you can read the whole thing.

Sing a new song to the Eternal One; Sing in one voice to the Eternal, all the earth.

Sing to the Eternal of all the good things He’s done. Bless His name; broadcast the good news of His salvation each and every day.

Enlighten the nations to His splendor; describe His wondrous acts to all people.

For the Eternal One is great indeed and praiseworthy; feared and reverenced above all gods, the True God shall be.

For all human-made, lifeless gods are worthless idols, but the Eternal plotted the vast heavens, shaped every last detail.

Honor and majesty proceed Him; strength and beauty infuse His holy sanctuary.

Give all credit to the Eternal One, families of the world!

Credit Him with glory, honor and strength!

Credit Him with the glory worthy of His magnificent name; gather your sacrifice, and present it at His temple.

Bow down to the Eternal, adorned in holiness; lay awestruck before Him, trembling, all people of the earth.

Shout out to the nations, “The Eternal reigns! Yes, indeed, the world is anchored and will not shake loose. He governs all people with a fair hand.”

And so, let the heavens resound in gladness! Let joy be the earth’s rhythm as the sea and all its creatures roar.

Let the fields grow in triumph, a grand jubilee for all that live there. Let all the trees of the forest dig in and reach high with songs of joy before the Eternal One, for He is on His way. Yes, He is coming to judge the earth.

He will set the world right by His standards, and by His faithfulness, He will examine the people.

i’m reading again…


i had stopped. one of my friends told me it was because i was depressed.  i guess that could be true, but i really don’t know.  in the midst of moving and starting over, all the books were packed away and it was easier to just not read. but after buying a bookshelf and unboxing the library, i am slowly getting back into the desire to pick up a book and delve into the pages.

i’m definitely reading passages from the Bible.  i’m using The Voice of the Psalms.

where i used to read 4 or 5 books at a time, i’ve pared it down to two for now.  i’m working my way through Clay Shirky’s Cognitive Surplus an amazing book about technology and how it has turned consumers into collaborators.  also on my nightstand is Ian Cron’s Jesus, My Father, and the CIA-a memoir of sorts.  Cron’s Chasing Francis is one of my all time favorite books. i wrote about it’s initial impact on me here.

so my prayer is that i will continue to read. to continue to pursue wisdom. and that in reading that my writing will explode and become what i dream it needs to be.

Context and Voice


My friend Vince Marotte is always talking about conversations and community. He is serious about it. From twitter to his blog, he wants to engage people in conversation, which is why I was very excited to read his new book Context and Voice.

I read the book over the course of a few days.  It’s not a difficult read and Vince and I have had these conversations.  I’m glad he put these ideas in book form to convey them to others.

For me the book breaks down to this one idea.

“Is that interaction moving anyone closer to God?”

In other words are the conversations and the content we are creating using online tools or in our interactions with people moving them further along in their spiritual journey?  The internet and social media are powerful tools.  Are we using them effectively?  Vince makes so many good points about the fact that the internet is not a “community”, but a vehicle to reach communities.

One of my favorite analogies in the book is the idea of Front Door.  He talks about how our Front Door is a welcoming place at our home.  How we paint it, we put the best landscaping near it, the entry way into our home is an inviting special place.  Yet in the church we have misplaced the Front Door and expect people to jump through hoops to gain entry.

“The church greatly underestimates this aspect of front door content. Our tendency is to think that the only virtue that can be had, based on content, is for someone to accept Christ or otherwise move in a direction that puts them in the pew of our church. We have been taught that we haven’t presented the Gospel until we proposition the people consuming our content.”

Vince also does a great job of contrasting content and relational content.  Content is anything that communicates a message. Relational content exists best within the context of a relationship to help the intended message to be understood.  In other words, our content can be insider language at times.

We need to learn how to understand what content is best served inside relationship and identify what content can live outside of relationship and allow people to move in a direction in their spiritual journey toward God.  We need to have a solid understanding of relational content to see where our current content fits in and where content we intend to create will fit.

This book caused me to really sit down and contemplate how I interact with people in general.  The context in which we are interacting and the content that I’m creating to either educate or interact. Vince challenges communities to move from being consumers to content creators  I think the book has great virtue in asking wonderful questions and causing us to think about how we communicate the greatest message ever.

I’ll leave you with Vince’s simple, linear idea of the book.

Culture>Front Door Content>Relationship>Relational Content>Action

Is the story that you are crafting moving people in culture to relationship and ultimately to action?

does God really love you?


this is what we read tonight from the Jesus Storybook Bible. wanted to share it here.

Adam and Eve lived happily together in their beautiful new home.  And everything was perfect–for a while.  Until the day when everything went wrong.  God had a horrible enemy.  His name was Satan. Satan had once been the most beautiful angel, but he didn’t want to be just an angel–he wanted to be God.  He grew proud and evil and full of hate, and God had to send him out of heaven.  Satan was seething with anger and looking for a way to hurt God.  He wanted to stop God’s plan, stop this love story, right there. So he disguised himself as a snake and waited in the garden.

Now, God had given Adam and Eve only one rule: “Don’t eat the fruit on that tree,” God told them. “Because if you do, you’ll think you know everything.  You’ll stop trusting me.  And then death and sadness and tears will come.” (You see, God knew if they ate the fruit, they would think they didn’t need him. And they would try to make themselves happy without him.  But God knew there was no such thing as happiness without him, and life without him wouldn’t be life at all.)

As soon as the snake saw his chance, he slithered silently up to Eve. “Does God really love you?” the serpent whispered. “If he does, why won’t he let you eat the nice, juicy, delicious fruit? Poor you, perhaps God doesn’t want you to be happy.”

The snake’s words hissed into her ears and sunk down deep into her heart, like poison. Does God love me? Eve wondered. Suddenly she didn’t know anymore. “Just trust me,” the serpent whispered. “You don’t need God. One small taste, that’s all, and you’ll be happier than you could ever dream…”

Eve picked the fruit and ate some. And Adam ate some, too.  And a terrible lie came into the world.  It would never leave.  It would live on in every human heart, whispering to every one of God’s children: “God doesn’t love me.”…

…You see, sin had come into God’s perfect world.  And it would never leave.  God’s children would always be running away from him and hiding in the dark.  Their hearts would break now, and never work properly again.  God couldn’t let his children live forever, not in such pain, not without him.  There was only one way to protect them.  “You will have to leave the garden now,” God told his children, his eyes filling with tears. “This is no longer your true home, it’s not the place for you anymore.”

But before they left the garden, God  made clothes for his children, to cover them.  He gently clothed them and then he sent them away on a long, long journey==out of the garden, out of their home.  Well in another story, it would all be over and that would have been….

The End.

But not in this Story.

God loved his children too much to let the story end there.  Even though he knew he would suffer, God had a plan–a magnificent dream.  One day, he would get his children back.  One day, he would make the world their perfect home again.  And one day, he would wipe away every tear from their eyes.

You see, no matter what, in spite of everything, God would love his children–with a Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love.

And though they would forget him, and run from him, deep in their hearts, God’s children would miss him always, and long for him–lost children yearning for their home.

Before they left the garden, God whispered a promise to Adam and Eve: “It will not always be so! I will come to rescue you! And when I do, I’m going to do battle against the snake.  I’ll get rid of the sin and the dark and the sadness you let in here.  I’m coming back for you!”

And he would.  One day, God himself would come.

 

isn’t that where sin begins, “Does God really love you?” we question His love and then we stop trusting Him. we believe the lie. but the good news is He has come to rescue you and me with a love that we can’t possibly comprehend.

Now is the Time…


“We exaggerate yesterday.  We overestimate tomorrow. But we vastly underestimate today! When your mind is focused on yesterday, your heart will be filled with regret from the past. When your mind is focused on tomorrow, your heart will be filled with anxiety about the future.  When your mind is focused on today, your heart will be filled with hope. If you change what you do today, your life will change!” John Maxwell-Today Matters

still reading…


Kerry Shook’s  “Love At Last Sight”

today he told the story of Hosea and Gomer

Love at first sight says, ‘I’ll love you until….’ Until you turn forty. Until you become too much trouble. Until I feel differently.

Love at last sight says, ‘I’ll love you even when…’ Even when you’re sick. Even when helping you is difficult for me.  Even when your eyes grow dim and your skin sags. Even when you wrong me.

Can you say that about your key relationships? Can you say, ‘I’ll love you with a Hosea love, with the love of Christ Himself, even when…’?